Sunday, 16 March 2008

very responsible.

Wow, I am so tired at the moment. I don't know whether it's the last two months finally catching up with me, today's (relative) lack of caffeine or the fact that I actually got more than 8 hours sleep last night, but whew! Sorry if I ramble even more than usual!

On Wednesday I walked past roadkill for the first time here. On closer inspection it was a hedgehog. Jeez. I guess that's what Europeans feel about us eating kangaroos. After class I went searching for flat shoes to go with my new jeans. I found a perfect pair for 2.5 coffees but they didn't have my size unfortunately, and after that I got a bit picky trying to find as good a bargain, so I still don't have shoes at this point. After that I met Holli, another Australian who I was put in touch with through a friend of a friend. It's funny how that works here - I never would've asked a total stranger out for coffee at home... anyway we had a coffee and went for a little window shopping which was nice. I found a Tintin dvd for 4 coffees (they do exist, although not in a convenient box set) which said it had French and English, but turned out to only have the former. Although it seems that Australia and France are the same dvd region so at least it'll play on my laptop. Anyway. I digress. Holli convinced me that working in an English pub would be a bad idea, and that working as a nanny in Paris would be a much better option so that is the new plan. On Wednesday I also found the most wonderful habadashery shop. It sells just buttons and beads and ribbons and wool and apart from the shop being big but quaint and French, all the things for sale were lovely. I found the best hair ribbon EVER (I think I might be heading back to that phase) but at 22 coffees a metre, I need to check *exactly* how many centimetres my head is before putting a kidney on eBay.

On Thursday evening I went to the cocktail at the school. Here a 'cocktail' is a little party with finger food and wine - no actual cocktails in sight - and they have one at the school once a month. It was in a very small room with a very large number of people and I ate an enormous number of teeny sandwiches because I wasn't sure if I was going to get dinner. I even had one with caviar (have I mentioned that there's a whole shop that sells nothing but caviar here?0 which wasn't too bad! More salty than fishy although I didn't go back for more. The wine was nice but I had a bit of a mishap when I asked for a glass of white. The man asked if I'd like the sweet or the dry. I asked for the sweet and he made me try the dry one first. It was pretty sweet, and I thought he'd made a mistake and I was about to get a glassful of the dry, but he filled my glass with the other and I got a glass of REALLY sweet wine. I've never tasted anything like it. It was as sweet as dessert wine, only, it wasn't as thick. Ho-ly cow. Just like cordial. And since I don't like dry wine, you'd think I would've loved this, but it was actually just way too much. But I guess it must be a standard variant of wine here because no-one else seemed to think it was weird...

After the cocktail we went to a little gathering that the German girl in my class had organised since she was going home the next day. It was at a cute little bistro which turned out to be a seafood restaurant only with a bar and a fire. I ended up having a prawn salad since I sort of felt like I had to order something and it seemed the least fishy thing on the menu. It was ok, but I tried one of Andrew's (giant) pile of mussels and I actually really liked it! It was lovely and meaty and not seafood-y at all! Maybe I'll be converted yet... I also ordered a Monaco, which we learned in class earlier is a beer with pomegranite syrup flavouring (in answer to my question about 'what is the pink beer'...which turned into a big discussion on how to order a beer in France - on tap vs in the bottle and what size). It was quite nice but a bit sweet and probably a waste of the beer because it probably would've tasted the same with fizzy water. I think it might be a nice idea though with only the tiniest dash of the syrup. After the seafood I cracked (by the way, the French love that word...'crack''s like a very positive version of 'voila'. Which they also use a lot.) and ordered my French creme brulee. Oh and it was so worth it. WAY better than the ones at home. The custard was really light and creamy - almost more like custard flavoured whipped cream - and the crackly top was caramalised but hadn't quite made it to burnt. Apparently it was a pretty big serving too, so I guess I chose my moment well!

On Friday nothing very interesting happened, except I discovered that the Monaco is not the end to the flavoured beers - on the contrary it is just the only one with a special name. You can ask for your beer flavoured with any number of syrups, and so I tried a teeny weeny beer with lunch (15cL) with mint syrup which I chose because it seemed the least likely to work, and therefore I thought it must be good because otherwise they wouldn't sell it. Please see my comments on the Monaco because they apply here too. Except it did come out a lovely bright green colour!

Saturday was the day for the second attempt to go to Arcachon (you'll remember the first attempt was a washout since the busses don't run on Sundays). First thing went to an oyster restaurant in a town where they catch them. I decided not to go for the 12 oyster degustation, but then at the last minute had a pang of regret, so I asked the lady if I could buy one oyster to taste since I don't really like seafood, but it seemed like probably the time to try one - if I don't like them when they're fresh out of the ocean like that i never will. She very kindly gave me one for free, and I must say, it wasn't completely horrible...kind of like when you've been swimming and swallowed a bit too much seawater. But then I didn't chew it which apparently you're supposed to after all (or so the man shelling them told me...AFTER) and nor did I have lemon juice which makes quite the difference I hear. We got to Arcachon and whilst searching for lunch found a beautiful old merry-go-round. We took a spin (one coffee) and I went on a pretty horse that went up and down just like in the cartoons. We went to a Breton creperie for lunch and I tried a cheese crepe made from buckwheat which is apparently a Bretanique(?) specialty. I wasn't so impressed though - it tasted it bit plasticy - maybe crepes (unlike bread) are just better made with white flour. While we were eating it started raining....and raining and raining and raining. This meant that walking around the town was a washout but we got back on the bus and we drove around the 'winter suburb' which is a very beautiful area of mansions (and I mean serious mansions with turrets and everything) which people own as winter shacks. Not quite Bonnie Doon....Arcachon also still has a school for sick kids to go because the fresh sea air is considered restorative. How very quaint. We made it to the Dune de Pilat (aka the Dune du Pyla) and it kindly stopped raining and the sun came out. This is the biggest sand dune in the world (over 117m high if my French numbers are correct, and much longer) and it was hard work to climb but spectacular from the top. To the left forest, and to the right sea. We had great fun running down the steep slope, which made me feel just like a camel because the sand forced you to run funny. I ended up running around in my socks, because my feet kept sinking and I nearly lost my shoes, which turned out to be the worst compromise because my socks (and pants) ended up very wet from the earlier rain.

On Saturday night I babysat for the family which was good experience if I end up working as an au pair. I was pretty apprehensive about living with kids before I came, but I've gotten to really enjoy playing with them. I just had to put the little boy to bed, and he started to get a bit sad and miss his mum, but with a bit of misdirection (an extra episode of Casper and two stories) the crisis was averted and he slept...the only creature stirring was the little mouse that is apparently in the house and terrorising my host mother.

Today was not very interesting because I've spent most of the day looking at the computer. I went into the city to use the wifi and just missed getting rained on, which was lucky because I've discovered that 4 coffee umbrellas are a complete waste of time as mine is not only bent all over the place, but also turns inside out at a butterfly sneezing and the fabric is half come off. I went to the cool 'asian' place with the eames chairs, and had a reasonably good pad thai and an A.C.E. juice (I figured out why it's called that too becuase it's nothing to do with the ingredients [orange, lemon, carrot] - it's the vitamins in it!) and a banana lassi that was closer to a milkshake. I spent half the day writing my 'dear family' letter which is a necessary addition to my au pair application and since I thought I should write it in French, took me an absolute age. This is not a good place to end, but it's all I have to say and I am very tired and going to sleep now. Ok bye bye.


Molly said...

Ooh, nanny-ing in Paris sounds like a very exciting option! You could take the kiddies on outings to beautiful parks & galleries and things! Sounds wonderful!
And look at you trying out all this seafood! I'm so glad you liked the mussel - you'll have to keep your eyes open for Moules Proven├žales :o)
Good luck on the eternal shoe hunt!
Can't wait for the next installment :o)
xo M

Margie said...

the buckwheat pancake was probably gluten free! welcome to my world. hahaha.