Saturday, 26 February 2011

Last Weekend/ Food Fest

I'm babysitting, just got the two girls to bed even though they were supposed to be in bed two hours ago, but they have been sweet. Maybe because I let them stay up ridiculously late and watch telly but still, anything's better than being whacked in the face with a coat. Anyway, now I have some time I'm going to write about the weekend that my mum and her friend Sharon came to stay with me. I'm going to write about the places we went to eat in an Informative Helpful Manner, more helpful than posting pictures of The Little Mermaid and wondering if dragons are real anyway.

Actually, the day before my mum and Sharon came which was the day I travelled back from England (another excellent trip on the Eurostar; I don't know why anybody flies), I went an met an American au pair I met through this blog, weirdly enough. We went to this place where you get free food with your drinks which was quite cool. Now I know where to take my friends for dinner if they are running low on cash when they come and visit me, I'm having six more people to come and stay in March, although I can't see Rachel, Jen and Rosie going for anywhere 'cheap'...

But back to my first ever visitors- Mum and her friend Sharon. (She is a good family friend, it's not like my mum just brought a random chum along because she couldn't bear to spend a weekend alone with me... honestly.) On Friday I spent the whole day cleaning my room so that they wouldn't wish they had booked into a hotel. It was so strange when I went to get them from Gare du Nord. I arrived just as they walked onto the concourse and it was WEIRD seeing my mum through the crowds, in Paris, in France, where I live.

(As I led them down to the metro and sorted out tickets and took them onto Line 1, my mum asked me how the hell I had done it when I first arrived. It's hard to remember now because I'ved one it so many times since, but when I first arrived it was absolute fucking hell on earth trying to get out of that station with all my Massive Bags.)

They had already eaten on the Eurostar so we went for drinks and I suggested Bastille but I had no clue where to go once we got there. I had Host Pressure, something which I've been dreading ever since each of my eight visitors has confirmed they are coming to stay with in Paris. My mum and Sharon wanted to go in the first place they saw because they were tired and had big bags with them. I did suggest that it might be really expensive because places near tourist spots or major metro stations normally are... but they insisted they didn't care. Let's just say I'm glad they were paying. It was fourteen euros for a glass of wine and fifteen euros for a kir royal, which is champagne mixed with blackcurrant liqueur. This is an important lesson I want to share with you: When in Paris, DON'T eat or drink near the tourist spots or even close to the metro.

The other important lesson I learnt over the weekend is: Some Guide Books are Great. I have a really old one that I got from a charity shop and which still lists prices in francs, but I've barely glanced at it since I got here in September. Sharon had a Time Out Guide Book with her that she kindly left for me and it's really good. On Saturday we used it to find somewhere for brunch (and here comes the helpful bit):


Café Charbon
109 Rue Oberkampf (get the metro to Parmentier)
It was really lovely inside and it wasn't too expensive, although to be honest when it's not me paying I tend not to notice the prices. I had a really, really nice tartiflette which is potatoes cooked in a creamy, cheesy sauce with bacon bits in. The staff were really nice and in the guide book it says that it is owned by Nouveau Casino, which is a club next door that is supposed to be really good. (I'm going to see Mr Scruff there in a couple of weeks.) There were two American tourists next to us who barely touched their food, even though it looked delicious, and the waiter wrapped it in tinfoil for them to take away which I think is nice. In the guide book it says it's open until 2am and has live music, so I bet it's good in the evening.

After lunch we... erm... went to Angelina's for hot chocolate and cake. I've written about Angelina's before because I fucking love it, but I'm feeling thorough so I'll give it a little write up:

Angelina
226 Rue de Rivoli (
get the Line 1 to Tulleries)
We had to queue to get in, but you always have to queue at the weekends. (I've been on a Monday afternoon once and we were nearly the only people in there.) Inside it is gorgeous, really grand and classic, but the best bit is the hot chocolate. It's what I imagine the hot chocolate in the film Chocolat to taste like; it's really thick and rich and there's a mysterious dark spiciness to it that keeps it from being too sickly. It's called le Africain and it's a bit pricey at 6.90 euros, but it's worth it. You get fresh cream with it in case you find it too chocolatey and my tip is keep eating the cream and asking for more. The cakes are pricey too, about seven or eight euros each, but they are so nice and really you are paying for the location. I can't remember the names of the cakes but I like the giant macaroon that has fresh rasperries, strawberry jelly, violet cream and gold leaf on top. I also like the apple tart that has salted caramel on the pastry. They are famous for their Mont Blanc but I've never fancied this. A Mont Blanc is a ball of meringue covered with lots of chantilly cream with chestnut cream inside... actually, why have I have never fancied this?? I will return, soon.

For dinner we wanted to go to Chez Omar's which is a famous cous cous restaurant (where they apparently offer seconds), but the queue was so big that we couldn't be bothered waiting. We found a nice place two doors down and went there instead:

Brasserie Le Sancerre
53 Rue de Bretagne, Chez Omar's is number 43 (Get the metro to Arts et Métiers)
The food was good but it wasn't spectacular; there was fish of the day which was nice if not a little overcooked and for pudding I had 'half-cooked chocolate cake' which was really, really... mmmm I wish I was eating it now. But the main thing is that it is run by lovely gay people who play disco tunes and were very patient with me trying to speak ridiculously bad French. I'm pretty sure the menu was in English and French as well. I was rather tipsy when we left so I can't remember how much everything cost but I think it was about 100 euros for three of us, which isn't bad because we had wine, three mains, one pudding and two coffees.

On Sunday we went for brunch again but this time there was no chance of us heading somewhere afterwards for hot chocolate and cake; it was one of the biggest bloody brunches I have ever eaten:

Comptoir des Archives

41 Rue des Archives (it's in the heart of the Marais, near the French National Archives)
The brunch is fifteen euros and this is what you get:
-a basket of bread and cakes with jam and chocolate spread. (The pots of spread are teeny tiny but trust me, you probably won't need to touch the bread and cake, although I couldn't bare to see it go to waste and consequently was so full that I had difficulty walking.)
- a glass of orange juice
- a tea or coffee
- scrambled egg with either bacon or smoked salmon
- fried slices of potato (I don't know why either, but they were delicious)
- a little, thick pancake
- green salad with dressing
- either a cup of fruit salad or fromage blanc, which is like lumpy natural yoghurt... go for the fruit

Most of the food comes on one big plate which looks a bit weird, but the egg and the fruit salad are contained in bowls so there's no Inappropriate Taste Contamination.

On Sunday afternoon we went and met the family I work for in a café near where we live. It was weird seeing my two worlds collide: my fake, strange Work Life and my Real Life. The mum of the family was really nice and chatted with my mum and Sharon, but the kids mostly sulked and didn't talk, which didn't leave me much hope for the week ahead. (Actually though, this week has been fine considering how much I was dreading spending eleven hours a day with les enfants.)

The French mum recommended a restaurant to us where she said she sends clients and she even called to make sure they were open on a Sunday and made a reservation for us. It was lucky she made us a reservation because when we got there it was packed with people waiting at the bar hoping to get a table:

Chez Janou
2 Rue Roger Verlomme (metro: Chemin Vert or Bastille. Click above to go on the website)
Chez Janou serves food from the South of the France. It was really, really delicious but very simple; I had lamb and mashed potato but it was cooked incredibly and starter I had pumpkin and chestnut soup which was also ama
aazing. I remember thinking it was quite pricey but by the end of the meal I was a little bit drunk so I have no idea how much it cost, but my mum and Sharon said they didn't think it was that expensive. A nice way to roud the weekend off, although we all got a bit teary talking about dead people for some reason and then I got teary realising my mum was going home the next day.

On Monday morning, mum and Sharon had to leave when I left at half eight so they said they were going for breakfast somewhere. I had to walk away from them and I didn't let myself turn around because I knew I'd get upset. It was all very Bianca and Carol from Eastenders.

What a lot of food we ate. I'd like to point out that we did do lots of cultural things as well, but for some reason I have no idea what. All I remember is the food...

Friday, 25 February 2011

Maid

Tonight somebody rang the doorbell and when I looked through the looky-hole there were three men stood there who I didn't recognise. In the end I let them in after I rang the dad of the family and he said he had hired them. They kept asking me things about the lights and the electricity and when I stared at them blankly and said the French equivalent of ‘Me no speak English good’, the five year old stepped in and dealt with the proceedings from there. While the five year old discussed the fire alarms with the men, who incidentally were not fit or even old-but-cheekily-fit (some workmen can be older than your dad but after they get their burly arms out and give you a wink you unfathombly want them to take you on top of the washing machine they're fixing... or is that just me?) I started cooking the dinner and realised I am just like the Spanish maid in Family Guy:



On the plus side, the five year old gave me a pretend school test and I got ten out of twelve. I say 'questions'... here is an example:

'A baby no eat the head of the fish' (To this I wrote 'no, he must not'.)
'He no put lolly the baby' (To this I wrote 'No, he must not'
'Big no put the lollies, the big' (I answered 'Yes, they do.')

(They call sweets 'lollies' because Super Au Pair was Australian and 'lollies' is what Australian people call sweets. I wonder what they call lollies? Chocolate strawberries? Wide-brimmed sun hats? Something else that they are clearly not?)

I got the last question wrong because I thought of me and Lauren binging our way through a gigantic pack of gummy bears every other night but the five year old insisted that 'big no put the lollies'. I assume he meant big people. I've given up trying to explain to them that 'put' does not mean 'take' and in any case 'take' does not mean 'have' and while I'm at it, they don't mean 'have' most of the time they mean 'has'... But if the kids say 'have' I'm so astonsished that they didn't say 'She put more lollies than me!' that I don't dare correct them.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Snapshot

If anyone is wondering if they want to be an au pair or not and want to know what I actually do, here is what I did today:

08:20
Got up and got dressed and went to work.

08:30
Read a book about Australian animals with the five year old boy

09:30
The two girls woke up and I made them all eat breakfast. Then we played a card game. Had to dress the eleven year old girl because she broke both her wrists snowboarding last week.

Noon
Took the children to their grandparents for lunch and was told I didn't have to go back until 3pm. I planned to have a lot of brews and a nap, but before all that I walked to the Arc de Triomphe to take a photo for this project my friend Jen is doing where she wants photos from all over the world taken on the same day.

12:18
Took the photo of the Arc de Triopmhe, impressed how little time it took me to get there and how easy it was.

13:15
After an hour of walking around getting more and more lost, I found myself back at the fucking Arc de Triomphe.

14:00
Got back to my room after a lot of walking, three metros and a big bag of Haribo Golden Bears. Decided to sacrfice lunch for a nap but could only fit in 20 minutes as have to get the kids' scooters before I pick them up. It the saddest nap ever because as I got in bed I knew it would soon be over.

15:00
Turn up at the grandparent's house with two scooters. Take the five year old boy and his cousin to the Bois de Bologne which is a big wood. It rains and the boys go really fast so I have to chase after them. I'm wearing my big green coat from Zara which many people have remarked makes me look like the guy from I Know What You Did Last Summer. I have the massive hood up and people keep stopping to make sure I'm not a paedophile trying to capture and murder the children with a fish hook.













15:20
Play with the boys on a big climbing frame thing that looks a bit like a boat. I am left in charge of steering the boat and the two boys run around pretending to hoist up the sails and so on. As I grip the wheel, and as the rain pelts down, and with the sounds of little sailors working in the background, I look out from inside my massive fisherman's hood and feel like I am actually at sea. I wish I was a kid and not an au pair, or even just back at uni studying drama where you got to pretend you were a sailor on a boat and you could make other people watch you do it.

16:30
We get back to the grandparent's house and it's time for gouter. We have apple tart with cream and I wonder what the kids have been telling everyone because I am given a huge portion plus little German bicuits and then some chocolates. I'm not complaining though. I think I'm finally over my Polite Declining that has deprived me of so much free food in the past. Mind you, when they gave me a slice of that really nice lemon meringue pie a couple of weeks ago, the next day I told the mum it was nice and she said 'Oh you had a taste did you?' I just nodded and changed the subject thinking 'Fuuuck'; it was clearly for me and the three kids and I ate it all up in about ten seconds.

16:45
I play lego with the two little boys in the 'play room' which is a huuuuge section of the apartment with a mezzanine and 20 foot windows. I build a Really Good Lego House with different levels and rooms and the little boys try and get involved but they are rubbish and I don't want them messing up my Really Good House so I make them do their own.

18:00
I take the three children and their two cousins back to the house from their grandparent's. Seven boxes of shopping have been delivered and I have to tidy up the boy's room and I have to help them all shower and/or bath and I have to make dinner and I have to make them get into their pyjamas and eat before the mum comes home at 7.15pm. For dinner she has cooked a cauliflower and told me to put it in the oven covered in cheese, like a really crap Cauliflower Cheese, I guess.

19:20
Everyone sits down to dinner and I eat mine before anyone else has even had time to poke at theirs and scream that they don't like cauliflower. The mum comes through the door and tells me to go home and I don't need telling twice.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Work

Today I took the three children to their mum's work for lunch. I don't want to say the name of the company but she works for a famous pen company... a very famous pen company. I think she is a bit of big shot; she wears nice trousers and she showed me the best selling pen she designed. She took us all round the office to show off the kids and it was fecking awkward because everyone glanced at me with a look that said 'Who is that scruffy miserable girl?' The mum explained that I was her fille au pair and that I was 'helping her'. Everyone looked away then and I bet they were thinking 'Why introduce me to 'the help'?'

I was actually annoyed because I looked digusting and there were a couple of Attractive Men in the office that I had to shake hands with whilst sporting greasy hair and a pale grey jumper with orange foundation all over it. If I would have had some prior warning I could have spruced myself up a bit, nothing extravagant, maybe a dress, some perfume, false eyelashes... You never know, I could have gone in as an au pair in false eyelashes and come out as the young mistress of an octogenarian shareholder who just happened to be visiting the office...

Work has been ok so far this week considering I am with the children for eleven hours a day because it is school holidays. The little boy and I have been playing an excellent game that even tops Dragon Baby. At the moment he has a really comfy sleeping bag on his bed because his radiator has broken and it plays a key role in our new game. The new game is called Dragon Cave and I play the part of Scared Cavegirl who thinks a dragon is coming and hides in her 'cave'. Then the dragon really does come along and jumps up and down elbowing and kicking the cave trying to get in. In other words, I have a snooze in a lovely warm, dark sleeping bag while the five year old boy makes growling noises and claws at me through a protective layer of padding.

The padding is the sleeping bag by the way, not my fat, although truth be told I have been consuming everything in sight since I came back to Paris, despite resounding to Reign It In after my mum hinted I had put weight on when I went back to England. ('That's what happens when you're carrying too much weight on your thighs...') At lunch today I tried to show restraint but the two girls barely touched their food and the mum was like 'Eat it, eat it, go on' as if she knew I am a Disgusting Food Hooverer and then when I refused dessert the eleven year old girl was genuinely shocked and told her mum in French that I must not understand the menu so they ordered me some ice cream.

(Talking of food, the weekend that has just gone I had my mum and her friend to stay and we ate sooo much nice food in places I've never been to before. I'm going to write about each place properly in another post though, like a proper informative Paris-dweller and everything.)

Over lunch today, the mum asked me what I wanted to do next in life and I after a lot of umming and ermming I said 'I like writing, I don't know...' and she blinked at me and didn't probe any further. I wonder what she would have said if I'd answered her truthfully: 'I just want to live in a squat and have a cat.'

I know that doesn't sound very aspirational but I wouldn't just sit in the squat with the cat all day, I would probably get a job washing up or making hot drinks so I could go to clubs at the weekend. I am well good at washing up though. I might not be able to control children or speak French but if you've got a roasting dish that needs cleaning then by gods I'll wash it up for you! Unless you expect me to use one of those little sponges, I'm only good with those brushes-on-sticks really.

Monday, 21 February 2011

England

Last weekend- as in not the one that ended yesterday but the one before that- was one of my Best Weekends Ever. It was my seventh time on the Eurostar so I knew it would go smoothly because seven is my Magic Number. I was even ok with the Tube, although I kept wanting to whip my Navigo out and any time I heard people speaking English I turned round and stared at them in surprise.

We went to see Annie Mac Presents at Koko on Camden High Street. I can't describe really good nights out because most positive words are a bit cringe when you write them down, do you know what I mean? Every time I type words like 'amazing' or 'incredible' I get really embarrassed and can't read what I've written.

I think because I'm used to people saying that my blog makes feel better about their own lives because mine seems so shit, that I don't want to then turn around and say 'Actually, I'm having a pretty good time...'















Anyway, it was a really good night but I think I let a little too much Crazy out. You know when you don't know people that well and then there's that moment when your true personality shines through in all it's irritating glory and you can see the fear in people's eyes? Obviously Kat knows I'm crazy because she was the other joint-winner of the Drama Department Crazy Award. No, she was, really. But the other people who we met in Ibiza... I mean you can't really tell how mental someone is when they're just bouncing about in Amnesia, smiling a lot and saying 'This is siiiiiick!'

The night ended with everyone in a room and someone put a French Hip Hop CD on and demanded I translate, although come to think of it, maybe I demanded that someone put a French Hip Hop CD on and then stood in the doorway so no one could escape and bellowed out random words that anyone with GCSE French could pick up... '...cadeau...' "Something about a present!" '....amies...' "Something about his mates!"

The next day we went to Fuse which is a free House thing at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane, you just have to get on guestlist by emailing them. It's sort of a post-rave and is on from 3pm til about 10pm. Most people there looked worse for wear but were still up for a dance and good music and there's a barbeque outside, although it was a bit nippy, despite being a Sweat Fest inside. The people on the door checking for drugs weren't best pleased with my huuuge bag mostly filled with knickers but thankfully Ricky took it in for me, being more adept at calling people 'my friend' and 'rudeboy' and whatever else it is you are supposed to say to make people in London like you.















After Fuse I went back to Kat's house which is a little bit out of London, in the countryside. An animal ran in front of the car and I was like 'A real animal! A real animal!' and it was called a nunchunk or something. I need to get into the countryside more I think, or I'll become one of those people who scream when they see cows. Actually I already am scared of the countryside. I'll happily walk down Hardman Street in Liverpool at 4am, knowing there's kebab shops and clubs and flats you can run to, but I can't go for a walk in the countryside by myself because when the sheep shagger with a chainsaw comes blundering out of the hedgerows only the cows can hear you scream and they ain't gonna help you. To the contrary, cows can kill you. That's a fact.

The brilliant, brilliant weekend (I just cringed) had a rather dramatic end when I missed my train to Manchester on the Monday. The tubes were all weird because of a bomb scare and I got to Euston at 11.59 and my 12 o'clock train had left a minute early. I went to double-check at the information desk and when he confirmed that my worse fears were true, I burst into hysterical tears and slid down the side of the information desk screaming 'No, no, no!'

I didn't have enough money for another ticket. And the annoying thing is if I'd left my tickets in the ticket machine trainline.com would have refunded them. But I got them out of the machine, one minute too late. I'll say this for hysterically crying in public though- it works. I got a mysterious 'special rate' ticket back to Manchester that cost the same amount of money I had in my purse, although it took five hours and I had to change at Crew. The man who sold it to me said 'There you go now my love... take it easy now...' It was Valentine's Day so maybe everybody thought I was just desperate to go and see 'my boyfriend' in Manchester, or else that 'my boyfriend' had decided to chuck me out of his (squatted) Mayfair Mansion on Valentine's Day, throwing my velcro rollers out of the window after me and yelling 'Go back to Manchester you silly Northern Slag!' (Never mind that I haven't had a boyfriend since Year 6, when me and Sean Maher went out for one day and if I'm remembering correctly, he said things were getting to serious and asked his friend to break up with me.)

Anyway, I got back up North fine in the end and had a couple of lovely days at home. Except... my mum dropped the bombshell that it would be my last time in that house because they are moving in three weeks so I could sort my stuff in the shed out please? My stuff in the shed was mostly snail-encrusted and rubbish, but I did find my old diaries which are hilarious and also a bit sickening (I'd rather not had remembered what went down in Mog's broom cupboard when I was sixteen thank you very much).

Friday, 11 February 2011

Angleterre

England tomorrow!!! My room is a horrible horrible den of harrowing hideousness and all my clothes are wet and lying sulkily on my radiator, refusing to dry. Looks like I will be raving in a crop top and Smart Black Trousers tomorrow.

Annie Mac on Saturday night, then Fuse on Sunday. Exciting times! But as always, England feels like a dream that I will wake up from, albeit a dream where they are cutting EMA and closing all the swimming pools in Manchester! Fucking Tories. Makes me want to stay in France forever... but then again, today the eight year old smacked me in the face with her coat because I said 'Good idea' and she said I say it too often. That sort of thing makes me want to NEVER COME BACK.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fucking Fine

What is wrong with me? The only way I will ever be able to save money is if I superglue fifty euro notes on to the inside of my thighs. Even then I would probably hack a leg off just so I could buy a nice pair of shoes and I would be so consumed with shopping hysteria that the irony would be completely lost on me.

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned my Fucking Fine. I’ll start at the beginning…

On Saturday, I went to Ikea with Amo... yeah, I know- forget the Eiffel Tower, forget the Palace of Versailles, you come to Paris to enjoy a nice day out at Ikea right? But I did have a valid excuse for going- it's disgusting so I won't tell you. Ok, I'll tell you: I haven't changed my sheets since December. It's just such a faff because I only have one set of sheets, so I have to wash them and then wait days for them to dry... The annoying thing is yesterday the mum casually mentioned that I could use any of their bedding whenever I wanted, so there was no need to go to Ikea. But I will not regret spending money, it is my life motto, but one that I’ve come to question of late.

Normally I can justify any spend. But that fucking ten euro Medieval Ballad that I bought whilst in a Shopping Trance; I'm having trouble justifying that. I'm pretending that the man who owns the bookshop is in deep financial shit and that, by buying Sir Gawain and The Overpriced Knight, I gave him a little hope and a little money, and maybe some rich person outside saw me inside buying a book and thought 'Ah, that makes me want to buy a book' and maybe he then went inside and bought six hundred euros worth of rare books and then went home and told everyone he knew about this great little book shop and then the little old man who owns the book shop will get lots and lots of money which he needs to buy his disabled wife a new wheelchair. Yes, that is probably what happened. Spend justified.

Anyway, let me finish my FASCINATING story about Ikea. I’m sure you’re on tenterhooks wondering if I bought a plastic colander or not. (I didn’t. Although one would have been useful.) I went in there with a very Sensible Attitude- I was just going to get sheets and also a soap dish, because I’ve been using a big glass ash tray from a brasserie and it takes up too much room. And also it looks weird.

I did very well; I didn’t stray too far from my shopping list (I got a mug, a candle, a blanket and some wooden cooking utensils, but I was in a Shopping Trance so I can’t really be blamed) but then when we got to the till I still had to ask Amo for ten euros… Then she had to lend me the money for an Indian meal later… and then later on she bought the alcohol… so much for my new NEVER LEND MONEY OFF ANYONE FULL STOP policy.

But she doesn’t mind; we’ve been friends since we were fifteen and I’ve always been a Bad Scav. Besides, I’m sure I lent her a tenner once when we were in Year Ten, so it’s a very equal balance.

Anyhoo… the next day I didn’t want to ask Amo for more money to get the RER back to Paris, so I asked her to swipe in her Navigo for me instead, because her Navigo is from zones 5 to 4. I snuck in smugly and figured that when I got to Paris, I could use my Navigo to get out of the station if needs be. On the RER, all was going well. Now RER A is a bit ghetto, so when swarms of scallies came running past, I thought they were just running from a fight or something. But no. It was like in a film when all the rats or cockroaches run away and the main character goes ‘That’s weird’ and his co-stars tell him to ignore it so they continue, unaware that the vermin were running from an evil force, that is yet to be detected by the humans, but is nonetheless drawing ever closer…

I had my headphones on, so I couldn’t hear the evil. But I saw it, from the corner of my eye. And then I knew what the scallies had been running from. Transport Police. They were checking tickets and passes. I knew there was no escape. I handed my Navigo over to the woman nearest me and feigned ignorance.

She was having none of it. I tried to explain that I didn’t know I had been out of Zones 1 and 2 and she sarcastically quipped ‘How did you get through the barriers then?’ To this I mumbled something about going through the gates fro pushchairs because I had a big bag, but she cut me off: ‘That will be Twenty Five Euros.’

I got my purse out and showed her it’s contents. They were empty. She then pointed at my cards and said we could try those. So we tried them, but once she realised there was no money on either my debit card or my credit card, she finally believed me that I had no money. I wondered what would be next… the police station, maybe?

She asked to see my passport which you legally have to carry with you everywhere in France. I didn’t have it on me. The only thing I did have was my hideous student card which is now invalid and my French student card which doesn’t have a photo on but does have my address on. She copied everything down and gave me a little slip, telling me to pay the fine ASAP. It was only when she’d gone that I realised our whole conversation had been in French. Haha! So nothing is for nothing, if you know what I mean. Fined, yes, but confidence in my ability to speak French- boosted. And really, the RER would have been about eight euros anyway, so I was only fined seventeen euros, which isn’t bad for a mini French oral exam.

‘Lesson learnt’ I thought. ‘From now on, no unnecessary spending!’

On Monday, some friends (yes, I have many, despite appearing to stay at home on my laptop all the time) asked me to meet them at Concorde in the afternoon. I thought we would be going for a nice, free stroll. When I got there they announced we were going to Café Angelina to enjoy their seven euro hot chocolate and the week’s spending habits have gone downhill from there really.

Whilst enjoying my delicious hot chocolate, one of the girls had a look at my little blue slip from the transport police and they pointed out that because I didn't pay the fine on the spot, I now have to pay 47 euros. Clearly I will do what I always do, that is: do nothing until the angry letters arrive, watch the fine get bigger and scarier, then finally pay it when the amount has reached into the hundreds. But I'm 21 years old and that's too late to change your ways.

I have just realised what a huge big block of writing I’ve written, so here’s some pictures from last Sunday afternoon. We went to Buttes-Chaumont, a big beautiful park in East Paris. It has a temple and a waterfall.











Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Perks

Am I sat in a dingy jazz bar, smoking and drinking gin with a charming French man? Or am I sat on the couch, facebook stalking, with one eye on the girls' bedroom, hoping they will take themselves to bed any minute now so I can go and raid the fridge without their disapproving glares?

Babysitting again. It's not all bad though, I went to pick the children up from their grandparents' house before and they were having a family party. Everyone shook my hand from a safe distance so maybe they had been given a heads up about my awkward Non-Kissing Ways.

I tried to speak a little French with them but they were all German. As I was leaving, they gave me a slice of the nicest lemon meringue pie I have ever eaten and a glass of champagne. The mum of the family was like 'No, no, she must go' but I knew if I was polite I would spend all night thinking about the pie so I drank the champagne as quick as I could (without downing it and then holding the glass upside down on my forehead yelling 'warrior') and asked for my slice of pie in a box. I ate it as soon as we got in and it was lovely. As I was eating it I was almost sobbing because I knew it would soon be gone. I was right.

Hold on... No. I thought they girls were going to bed but they are cleaning their shoes and eating oranges. Go to bed girls so I can eat all your mum's cheese!!! I need to stop eating though. The other night I went to eat a biscuit and I joked 'Oh I should stop eating these I will get fat' and the eleven year old said. 'Yes, stop.'

I'm sure she's got some sort of eating disorder. She hardly eats anything and to make matters worse a doctor came into her class this week and told them all to eat small, light meals otherwise they won't be able to sleep. I think something must of got lost in translation because I find after a big, heavy meal I will sleep until the following evening. I've decided it's my body way of making sure no more calories enter my body. 'Don't let her wake up! She will just eat more and we are still dealing with yesterday's feasting!'

...Ha! All the kids are in bed. Yes! It's Emmenthal time...

Toys

On Saturday I watched Toy Story 3 with Amo. She wanted to see me cry and I never disappoint- I'm a Crier. I cried hard and loud people, hard and loud. I thought I had cried out all the Toy-related Sadness whilst watching the film, but on Sunday I came across these undesirables sat on the street in East Paris and all the Toy-related Sadness came rushing back to me:
















I used to talk to my teddies until I was about seventeen. When I go home next week I am going to get them out of wherever I shoved them and tell them about Paris. I know they're not real and I know that they don't come alive when I leave the room... but what if they are? It doesn't cost you anything to spare a few kind words and maybe a bedtime story every so often and if toys are indeed lifeless then there's no harm in talking to yourself in nice soothing tones...

BUT...

If you treat your toys as if they're not real... there is a possibility, no matter how small, that they do in fact come alive when you leave the room and look around their dusty cardboard box wailing I HATE MY LIFE!

Why would you risk that, why?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Metro

Sometimes I love the metro. It can be really airy and clean. Then sometimes you get off somewhere you've never been before and it's like you stepped onto the set of a low budget horror film:
















I enjoyed the cats though:
















I was right about seeing my Seventh Parisien Cat on Friday being lucky; I saw FOUR MORE cats on Saturday! I feel blessed. One of them was having a poo. I watched it. Amo said I was weird but I think cats are lovely in everything they do. As I watched the cat pooing it kind of watched me as well and even I got a bit unnerved and had to walk on.

Food

This is my dream:






























This is my reality:



















Shall I have slices of butter for my tea? Or spoonfuls of that mysterious jar lurking in the fridge door? Hmm...

Moi, je prends le beurre.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Seventh Cat

I forgot I saw a cat today!!

There are hardly any cats in Paris, only nasty little dogs that shit everywhere, so when I see a cat it's very exciting. Tonight, just as I was going into the family's building, I saw a Tabby cat between two cars. I did my special Cat Call and it looked at me, then we did Squinty Eyes together, which means we're mates.

I've been trying to keep count and I'm pretty sure it was the seventh cat I've seen since I've been in Paris. You know how I feel about the number seven... oooh...

I fucking love cats. When I saw the Tabby cat before, I actually said in my head: YESS!

I refer back to my earlier post:

Friday, 4 February 2011

Boredom

I'm babysitting again. I'm doing loads of extra nights so that when my Many Visitors start arriving next month I won't have to work. But where to take my friends in Paris? Everyone will expect me to know lots of hidden gems and secret raves and all I know is how to get to my French lesson and back. This morning I didn't go to my French lesson by the way, I feel it is a slippery slope but I've already let go of the rails...

What do I do in Paris? This is what my friends always ask me because they have obviously read my blog and gotten the impression that I do nothing except make soup for children and drink tea.

Ok, so for anyone interested (me, myself and I) here is my list of Nice Things To Do In Paris:

- going to the Marais (the Jewish Quarter), looking in the vintage shops and getting Nice falafel
- sitting in Nice cafés, drinking Nice hot chocolate, especially Cafe Angelina near Tuileries
- getting Nice and drunk on one euro wine and then raving at Le Batofar or Social Club (the pre-drinking is a must because drinks in Parisien clubs are ten euros and up)
- buying something beautiful from a Nice pâtisserie and eating it on the nearest bench
- picking a random tourist hotspot (Eiffel Tower, Sacre Cœur, Arc de Triumph etc) and going there, just to be Nice and to remind myself I am in Paris.

Now, here's my list of Things I Do Most Often In Paris:

-eating Haribo with Lauren and Drew, watching a film or English TV on the internet
- going for casual drinks at Bastille or Place Monge, spending my monthly wages on cocktails, then either getting the last metro home, or finishing the night at 4am, in a restaurant, with a full blown meal, depending on how stupid I'm being
- arranging to meet people at museums, turning up two hours late or not at all and in the case of the former, seeing the queue and fucking the museum off for red wine somewhere (and then last week picking the children up from school the following lunch time with red wine teeth because I lost my toothbrush)
- walking for miles and miles with Lauren and not really minding because at least we are in Paris and not on the Yorkshire moors
- sitting on the 82 bus, either going to Lauren and Drew's or going to French lessons. (The 82 bus is actually an excellent way to see loads of landmarks without using your legs or changing metros.)

A random thing I like to do is, when I'm on Metro Ligne 1, going in the direction of Château de Vincennes, just before the metro stops at Louvre Rivoli, I look for out for a bit of graffiti that says 'Fuck the World'. I wonder why it's in English? I wonder how they got inside the tunnel to write it? Also, I wonder if anyone reads this blog? I mean, who would want to read about me doing nothing in Paris, when they could come to Paris and do nothing themselves? Really, it's easy, you should do it.

The difficult bit is deciding what I am going to do next. I can't think about it, I can't. It is my only worry in life, besides the money issue...(My mum says Royal Bank of Scotland have called for me 'a couple of times', but unless they want to send a special agent to Paris there's not a lot they can do. I would love if it did that, I hope they do! I hope they send a sexy man in a suit to demand money off me and hopefully to rough me up a bit.)

What does the future hold for me? I have a horrible feeling it's a big, fat nothing.







(Found this picture here)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Babysitting

Guess what.... Harriet found me a link to watch Big Fat Gypsy Weddings!

I'm going to watch it as soon as I make the eleven year old go to bed because I'm babysitting and she's being a bad ass... so probably about 1am then. We've had to stay up late doing her English homework, which involved filling in the gaps in sentences such as:

Ireland is split into two ....... (parts)
In Ireland you can meet lots of Irish ...... (people) and ...... (sheep)
If you like food, you can try ........ (Irish coffee)

It's weird looking at French children's English exercise books. There are a lot of Toms and Bobs in it and they all seem to be proclaiming their love for fish and chips and their dislike of cheese. Why do French people think English people don't understand cheese? I'm sure England and France started making cheese around the same time. Just because English cheese doesn't have to kept on the balcony to stop it smelling out the house... Family Decent do this. They keep cheese on their balcony and crates of champagne in the bathroom, which is why I now work for them and not Family Thrift. They kept dirt in their bathroom.

I can't believe I used to work for Family Thrift. I can't believe I used to live with them! Even when the kids I work with now are being Rude As Fuck at least I can hide in the kitchen and eat slices of ham. In Family Thrift's kitchen they had cardboard boxes in their oven and pre-cooked polenta in their fridge and that was that. I almost miss the mixed-cereals though, I think I might actually buy myself some one day. Maybe.

The Family Decent kids are nice most of the time. Especially when they are watching TV, which the oldest one is now, even though she should be in bed...I don't really care if they go to bed, as long as they are quiet, as long as the noises from their cartoons don't drown out the screams of girls being grabbed by their prospective Traveller husbands.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

It's Not Fair...













I'm missing Big Fat Gypsy Weddings! The Youtube Channel that was putting them up has been deleted.

Right now I don't care that I could walk to the end of my street and admire the Eiffel Tower, I want to see big wedding dresses and learn more about Travellers so I can make it more authentic when I tell strangers I am one!!

FUCK YOU 4oD. Catch up service? To who, Brits living in England?? If people living in England can't be arsed watching or recording excellent television then they don't deserve to watch it.

I, on the other hand, really do need to watch Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.

Stand By Your Money

Why must I regard money as something to be gotten rid of as soon as it crosses my palm???

I know my finances are in dire straits and yet somehow, today, for no reason, I threw ten euros away on nothing, NOTHING. I thought I'd go into the interesting book shop across the road from me because they have an English section (yes, I know, but I've given up on learning French so fuck off) and last time I went in there I got Tess of the D'Urbervilles for thee euros. (It's now one of my favourite books, although I was a bit of a man-hater before and let's just say reading the book didn't exactly make me sashay into the world singing 'Stand By Your Man' by Tammy Wynette... although I will still listen to it on YouTube; you can't take your man-hating out on such an excellent song.)

Anyway... I've been thinking lately that this year I can at least try and become Well Read if I can't learn French, which I can't. So far I've read Tess of the D'Urbervilles, A Tale of Two Cities... and that's it. So I thought I would go in to the libraire (book shop, not library before you make the same and perfectly understandable mistake as me) and find something Classic and English and Brilliant I can read in between work instead of going on Facebook and writing shit on here whilst seeing how many brews and biscuits I can fit in to two hours. (Six brews, one pack of biscuits.)

They had a lot of English Classics but they only seemed to have multiple copies of the very few 'Classics' I had read. (You know what I mean when I say 'Classics', good books that are so old and wordy that you don't feel guilty for sitting on your arse reading when you have Important Things you could be doing instead.)

I don't know why or how but I found myself impulsively grabbing Sir Gawain and The Green Knight which isn't even a novel it's a medieval ballad. I took it to the counter and it was ten euros. For a ballad. Ten euros. For a ballad that I can't even understand because it's in Middle English AND it's written in a dialect from either 'Cheshire, Lancashire or Staffordshire'.

Why did I hand over the ten euros? Why didn't I run from that shop, clutching my money to my chest, straight home to my laptop where I could have Googled the story for free?

So now it looks like, instead of learning French, which is the main reason I moved to Paris (besides from meeting an Arabic/North African gangster who lives in a banlieue and gives me illegally-appropriated funds to get rid... How fucking perfect would that be?); I'll be translating a 14th Century ballad from gibberish (e.g: And fres ere hit falle myght to the fale erthe) into English, for no reason other than I paid ten euros I can't afford for the privilege.