Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

PostHeaderIcon Parlez vous Français?

Bonjour tout, comment allez vous?

Recently, I spent a week in France, Rouen to be exact, at school. It may seem a strange choice for a holiday but I dream of speaking French like the French do so a week in language school is just a small but logical step.

In my usual multi-tasking manner, I went to school in one of the locations that’s been on my “must-visit” list for a while.  For those who don’t know, Rouen is the town in which Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) was burned at the stake in 1431. Her heart remained whole so the remains were burnt twice more  then thrown in the river in an attempt to avoid creating a martyr!

Jeanne d'Arc memorial garden

The location where Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake in 1431

It truly doesn’t seem a fitting reward for the girl that put a French king back on the throne but then again, perhaps she should have kept details of her mentors to herself. Some folk obviously didn’t take too kindly to Angels speaking to a simple peasant girl.

Rouen local’s say Jeanne’s mother never gave up hope that her daughter would be cleared of all charges of witchery and heresy and finally; 24 years later, could rest when Pope Callistus III directed Jeanne’s trial be reviewed resulting in the sentence being quashed. Jeanne was canonised in 1920.

St Jeanne d'Arc chapel - Rouen Cathedral

Lighting a candle for my loved ones at the St Jeanne d'Arc chapel - Rouen Cathedral

Although St Jeanne d’Arc met a tragic ending, she’s a legendary example of a girl who stuck to what she believed no matter what.

I realise I’m simplifying her story immensely as I can’t do her justice and keep this to a reasonable length however, I find her story amazing and hope this snippet inspires you to learn more or; even knowing this much, find in Jeanne d’Arc, the inspiration to stick to your guns. Spare a thought for her mother who is rarely mentioned as part of this history but also continued until she succeeded in clearing her daughter’s name.

As well as satisfying my desire to visit Rouen, my week in school was wonderful but much too short. I chose to stay with a French host(ess) to enhance my learning and that was a wise choice. Not only did it force me to try harder from the moment I arrived (my hostess spoke no English); I made a new friend, Ghislaine.

Café avec Ghislaine

Café avec Ghislaine

I arrived on Easter Sunday and had another day before I’d begin school so I was a little concerned but those are often just the types of situations we need to be thrown into in order to progress. With my minimal French and no English assistance from Ghislaine we still managed to work out all living arrangements, directions to school (2 buses) and chat about our families and background.

School was no different. French is all that is spoken from the moment you arrive no matter what level you’re at! I’m not sure how the total beginners coped but everyone seemed to manage. My goal was to learn conjugation. So tricky but must be understood if you want to get things in the correct tense and speak in sentences.

Working hard with classmate Lindsey

Working hard with classmate Lindsey



At the end of a week I was just beginning to understand (a little) and have correct conversations rather than speaking pigeon-French so I was totally miserable at having to leave. Sometimes that’s the trouble with living your dreams, some of them have to be done in stages.

C’est la vie!




PostHeaderIcon Has it really been that long?

Happy New Year – how’s it going so far? One month is almost gone and I can hardly believe in one week I’ll have been living in London a year (2nd Feb)! The time has flown So fast in fact that I don’t feel I’ve achieved a lot to show for it however, I’m sure if I look back I have fit quite a bit of activity into that year.

Big Ben - my neighbour

Big Ben - my neighbour

The short story is; I’m happy living here even if the weather isn’t my ideal. I’ve made some friends, go to the theatre every 2-3 weeks (sometimes weekly!) so I LOVE THAT and; I am getting to travel fairly often so overall, everything is good.

Christmas Eve 2010

Christmas Eve 2010

I was in France for Xmas and New Year – in the North with my famille Francais for Xmas then a week in my beloved Paris for New Year. Although there are many places I love and would return to, I can’t get over Paris for some reason….must be my romantic soul.

The Eiffel Tower at Sunset

The Eiffel Tower at Sunset

Today I finally got around to tidying up all the things that got dumped upon my return from Paris and directly back into work.  As I sorted through Xmas items, things collected in Paris and some other things from before and after that, I re-ran the year through my mind and realised it’s been a little busy…

……Try saying this in one breath……On the 2nd February 2010 I arrived in London, stayed 2 days then went to Montreal for 2 weeks, arrived back and moved into a house with 11 people! The following Saturday I caught-up with my 1st Aussie visitor and hardly felt like I’d left Oz! Monday: commenced the job-hunt.

Dog-sledding, Montreal 2010

Dog-sledding, Montreal 2010

I started work mid-week three and haven’t stopped since (lucky; but damn!). March was over in a flash; found another place to live and moved in with what turned out to be the creepy, drunk, stalker guy! Caught up for dinner and theatre with more Aussie visitors and went to France for the Bal de Carnival.

First Holy Communion group

First Holy Communion group

I went to Brighton for Easter so got to see a new English place. Came back, re-packed and made another trip to France for my sweet Mathilde’s communion. Back in the UK, more Aussie visitors arrived resulting in three nights of pub meals and pints whilst looking for another place to live. Found one which then fell through, one week prior to moving day! My 1st Aussie visitor returned at the worst time; however, he’s a charming friend who actually organised the best “forget your homeless worries” evening out I could have wished for – expensive seafood, Martinis & Champagne always cheer me!

British Grand Prix 2010

British Grand Prix 2010

I survived the frantic, almost homeless week – found another place with two days to spare so on the 3rd July, moved in then went off to Opera In The Park to celebrate. The next week was a trip to Silverstone to see our Aussie guy win the British Grand Prix then returned to London to catch-up with another Aussie visitor. More pints!

Saved the pounds frantically for the parents impending arrival at the end of July. Went to the North of France, Berlin & Belfast with my parents……..WE HAD A GREAT TIME!

The Brandenburg Gate 2010

The Brandenburg Gate 2010

Did some English sight-seeing and general hanging out for the final couple of weeks of their visit and then had to wave bye-bye. That bit wasn’t fun.

Cheered myself up by heading up to Edinburgh to see my best friend (more visitors from WA) and the rellies there. Back to work and saving the pounds again as Xmas and New Year were looming and Paris was calling!

Phew…so that was 2010.

I wonder what 2011 will bring? Oh, I’ve already had one Aussie visitor, two theatre visits and a birthday!

PostHeaderIcon In for a penny, in for a pound

Well, I’ve been back in the workforce for about a month – how time flies! Have I saved my fortune yet, ready to travel?

Um, no. Unfortunately not quite but then again, I have taken a quick trip to the north of France for a weekend (the novelty of being able to go to another country for the weekend may NEVER wear off!) and spent Easter in Brighton.

Yes, so far I’ve spent almost all that I’ve earned but as I’m an IWOM, I can explain; since I started work I’ve only worked 3 or 4 day weeks due to Easter and bank holidays and a bout of food poisoning (another story). I’ve managed to pay my rent and phone bill, buy some work-clothes and food, eat out with friends AND have my couple of weekends away…did I mention one weekend was in another country?! Told you I can’t get over that one.

What I’m trying to say is, upon reaching my four week anniversary of working for a living, I reckon I’ve done ok so far!

Haha, you could say I’m adjusting to my slightly less than totally foot-loose lifestyle reasonably well.

Back to the fun part – what did I do in France? I visited my famille Francais and attended their local Bal de Carnival. It’s an annual event that I attended last year and promised I’d return this year.

Dressed for the Bal

Dressed for the Bal

The Carnival is a time of celebration and remembering a local hero; Jean Bart but Bal (Ball in English) also links back to the time when fisherman leaving n long sea journeys farewelled their loved ones by having a huge celebration in the town – in case they didn’t return.

My explanation isn’t very good I know but it’s not bad when you consider my low level French skills.

Carol et Laure

Finishing off the evening

Where my friends live, in Brouckerque, the Bal  is loads of fun and lasts all night – a night of crazy costumes, delicious food, plenty of dancing and drinking and a great sense of community – the wine may have helped but I had some wonderful conversations in spite of my petit peu (little) French and mostly non-English speaking “new” friends!

Back to work for a few days and then it was Easter. You’ve gotta love short working weeks!

Easter kind of crept up on me so after assessing funds and the lack of planning or booking time I decided it would be cool to go to an English coastal spot. Where better than Brighton as a first experience of the UK coast? Even in Australia I’d heard of the Brighton Pier and then I found out about the historic Royal Pavillion so off I went – dragging some friends along too.

Brighton is full of interesting shops and characters – I loved the variety and funky feel of it.

We did the traditional thing as you must; and had fish and chips on the pier and wandered The Lanes which is a fabulous area filled with jewellery, clothing and antique shops, cafes and bars and has a great feel to it – very tempting. We had a couple of fun nights in and around there but “what happens in Brighton, stays in Brighton!”

Mermaids spotted in Brighton

Mermaids spotted in Brighton

We hadn’t booked accommodation (underestimating the popularity of Brighton even in winter) so were very lucky to find Kelvin’s, a lovely bed and breakfast that was beautifully clean, smelled lovely (a point worth mentioning after some we entered), served up a delicious brekky and gave us loads of inside info on what to do, where to eat or go for a drink. Well be back!

So now I’m back in London, back at work, saving my pounds and wondering where my next “weekender” should be.

Any suggestions?

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