Sunday, 14 November 2010

Rememebrance Day, horrendous weather and Paris

I'm sorry I haven't been able to update the blog in the last 5 days. I've actually been really busy (as opposed to just lazy!) so haven't had much of a chance. But I'm here now, and that's what counts!

I'll give you a 'quick' rundown of my whereabouts and goings on.

Thursday was November 11th Remembrance Day, and in France this signals a national holiday so there was no school. (Although this would have made more of an impact on me if I didn't already have that day with no lessons). Hannah and I wanted to go to a memorial service or something of the such-like in order to pay our respects (as I would usually do on Remembrance Sunday in England) and also thought it would be a good idea as we are both writing our year-abroad projects related to the war.
Thursday was also the day that France decided to display the worst weather I have experienced this year. It was absolutely horrendous but, like good citizens, we followed the parade around Lillers in the pouring rain and hurricane-esque winds, up to the commonwealth graves and back to the memorial in the town centre. We got a bit excited upon hearing 'God save the queen' played by the band and we got to drink celebratory champagne in the town hall! Amazingly we understood the speeches given by the town officials and even managed to conduct a half-intelligent conversation. However I was at a loss when a french veteran with no teeth tried to converse with us. I think we played it cool; ignoring whatever he had asked us and instead telling him we liked his flag. It was a very nice ceremony though and something that I am glad I was a part of. I thought people might wonder why we were there sharing in their commemoration, but instead we were told many times that the french owe the British a great gratitude for their help. Amongst many more important things that day, I also learnt that my shoes are not in the least bit waterproof.

Having stood out in the cold and rain all day I returned home to discover that my kitchen ceiling had sprung a leak. Most exciting. Having looked up and rehearsed the appropriate vocab I went to my landlady to explain that 'il y a une fuite dans la plafond dans ma cuisine', to which she replied 'oui', in a most unconcerned manner. Obviously I assumed I had (again) grossly butchered the french language so I repeated myself. And she replied 'oui'. I gestured that the problem was quite a big one so she came to look. Once she saw the water steadily dripping from the ceiling she changed her answer to 'uh-oh'. I could only assume that this is ch'ti northern french for 'don't panic, you've done a fine job stemming the flow and I shall have my husband around soon enough to fix the problem'. It clearly is not. Her husband popped round the next day to give me my post and explained that the problem was because of the abnormal amount of wind and rain (I believe a roof slate has moved) and that he would fix it the next day. Which he has not. Well, there has been no more dripping, but this is because the weather has pacified, not because he has replastered the ceiling and replaced the roof tile. But such is life in northern France!

Friday I went to Bethune for a little while and Hannah and I looked around the shops and paid our usual visit to our fave cafe 'La Halle'. (Luisaidh was in Paris/Lille for a few days last week, in case anyone is panicking and wondering what has happened to my friend #2!). Bethune seems to be preapring itself for its Christmas market, so am I looking forward to that when it's open! I assume though that, much like in England, it will be full of over-priced homemade goods that you would be hard-pushed to find an actual use for.

I feel like I should mention Saturday just so people don't think I removed it from my week. But nothing much happened. Hannah did stay with me overnight though in preparation for...

Sunday! Hannah and I accompanied my school on a trip to Paris for the day! We went with some of the teachers, some pupils and also the turkish students and their teachers visiting from the partner-school in Turkey. It was a very brief overview of the city but it was also a really nice day. I definitely want to go back for longer and spend some more time exploring the touristy bits and also discovering the parts of Paris that aren't so over-run with tour groups. I loved the city, but on top of this I got to see Paul and Ivo for a little while. (For those of you unaware, Paul and Ivo are 2 of my course-mates from university who are studying at a uni in Paris for the year). It was really nice seeing them and I think I shall be inviting myself to go and stay with them at some point in the future!

As a side-note from all of these points, I have been trying to make a concerted effort to speak more french on a daily basis, and so far it is not going to horrifically! Bon effort!

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