September 29, 2005

Vin Rouge to Vodka

The french have a very different attitude to alcohol than the Poles. Being not really that interested in booze makes me a little bit of an enigma in both countries. But with a cough and a cold and no relief in sight, I have turned back to my Polish roots and starting drinking Krupnik.

How bizzare that the girl who does not drink turns to downing honey vodka as a way to clear the winter ails. Jo told me about the stuff when I first moved to Poland and I have been happy keeping a bottle in my cupboard ever since. Ally renewed my stocks when she came to stay and I am already planning what I need to stash up on when I go back to Poland for the October break.

Krupnik is like a perfect French apperitif. Sweet, hard and warming on the way down. If you are not used to drinking vodka, it might make you suck the air through your teeth, telling everyone around you that you are not hardcore into the vodka scene.

K, a Polish friend, used to tell me of nights sat around a table, talking and finishing bottle after bottle of vodka. I don't think that will ever be my sort of thing. But I like a shot of Krupnik, I like to think about my little kitchen in Poland. Stocking up for all the family and friends in the Uk that became fans of the stuff too. After half term, maybe there will be some reminisence about Wisniowka (cherry vodka). Better finish the honey stuff and let the cold fade away first.

"And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us"
Pablo Neruda

"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day"
Frank Sinatra

September 28, 2005

Cold comfort farm

I have a cold. The seasons are twisting and changing in Paris and my throat and nose are changing right along with them. All I want to do is go home, eat hot soup and crawl into bed. The start of the school year craziness means that I have too much to do.

Walking around Paris is a treat with all the brown, fallen leaves being blown around your feet. Women in Paris have swapped their sandals for brown or black suede boots worn over their trouser legs. Tans are traded for snazzy scarves, perfectly and casually thrown over your shoulders. It is amazing how quickly these changes are made, one day summer, autumn the next.

Time for some winter food I think.

"Comfort was allowed to come to them, rare, welcome, unsought: a gift like joy"
Ursula LeGuin

September 27, 2005

Anne in the dark

This is me.

Ally took this picture on the Pont Neuf when she came to stay. I was trying not to giggle because I knew she was going to take it and I am not that happy with the photo stuff. I like to think that the end result is somewhat pensive and enigmatic, but I do live in a dreamworld most of the time.

I have decided that this is the one and only picture of myself that will ever go onto the blog. I also love the lights on the water, and the fact that it was Ally on the other side of the lens. Makes me remember when she was here. We had walked and talked our way down the Seine until we got to the bridge, where we watched the lights of the Eiffel Tower.

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still"
Dorothea Lange

"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know"
Diane Arbus

September 26, 2005

The darkness

This morning when I got up the sky was black. Not a little bit grey. Not, the sun is starting to break the dark. Proper, middle of the night darkness. I left the apartment at 7.15 and walked down Boulevard St Michel to the Metro. This morning, it seemed that no-one was around. People huddled into their jackets, like this was some sort of protection against the night.

By the time I reached the last Metro stop, and walked the last five minutes to work, the city was pink and orange round the edges and light up above. There are things that I love about winter, and things that I hate. Walking to work as the sun comes up is an amazing way to start the day. Waking up in the dark is not. One is a result of the other. What does that mean?

"Night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir tree"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars"
Charles Austin Beard

September 25, 2005

Market day

My weekend routine so far has included a trip to the laundry on Rue St jacques. On my way there on a Sunday, I notice that apart from the laundry, there are only four shops open. these are; a butchers, a bakers, a cheese shop and a fresh fruit and vegetable shop.

The smells and sounds that are coming from these shops reminds me of Christmas in my little Yorkshire hometown. Even early on Sunday morning, there are queues of bleary eyed parisiennes with kids in tow chatting about the best pieces of meat with the butcher. I love to stand there and listen, or gaze at the rows of blue cheese.

Every colour is splashed onto your eyes in the fruit and vegetable place, huge, bulbous, blood red tomatoes. Fat potatoes still in their earth. Ripe, green apples that you can smell are fresh through the damp Sunday morning air. If only I had the time or inclination to cook a feast from this amazing stuff. One cold winter weekend, I might do just that.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food"
George Bernard Shaw

"Be yourself, every-one else is already taken"
Oscar Wilde

September 23, 2005


We left the horel when it was still dark. I could still smell the sea air and I had to keep rubbing my eyes to keep them open. As I jumped to peep over the wall to see the ocean one last time, I said goodbye to the blue skies and September sun. Now, back in Paris, it already feels like I have not been away.

Some-one said something on the train that has made me think. Everyone outside of France has a certain image of Parisiennes as immensly rude. People think that parisiennes are snooty and are deliberately mean in their treatment of foreigners. Some-one said things to this effect on the way home. This person has lived in Paris for 6 years, and comes from North America.

It made me think; if it is so bad, wht do so many people stay? What is it about Paris that pulls us here? Are parisiennes really as bad as people think they are? The French people on the trip are sad to hear about the way that the world views Paris and parisiennes but ,of course, they are french and would not be treated the same way as people from the rest of the world.

I don't think that I will stay in Paris forever, having the attention span of a gnat, I don't want things to become routine for me here, I want them to forever have a sheen of magic. A glow around the everyday. It is in my nature to move, snooty people or not. I imagine that I will also have views on Paris and the Parisiennes at the end of my first year. Maybe I will feel like I can answer my own questions then.

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens"
Jimi Hendrix

"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."
Bob Packwood

September 21, 2005

Summer skin

My skin smells and tastes like the sea. My hair and face feel dry and smooth from the salt air. My feet are soft from walking in the sand and dipping my toes into the cool waves before jumping back because I didn't want to get my skirt wet.

We have visited the place where the man in the iron mask was supposed to have been imprisoned. We have seen the snooty ladies with small dogs on the island of St Tropez. We have sat and been happy to watch the white foam that is spewed from the back of the boat as we glide away to another excursion.

The South of France is nothing less than stunning. I can see why people love it. I can see why it is the settings of films, the stuff of legends. Me, I never get tired of the sea. I look at it and just want to be in there, slipping between to salty waves and feeling all things slide away. These are perfect moments.

When your working week consists of French countryside zooming past you, sun baked feet, red wine with dinner and salted lips, you really have nothing to complain about. Back to Paris this Friday and back to my bed. Back to cooking for myself and DVDs of my favourite TV shows. These are perect moments too.

"I've still got sand in my shoes,
but I can't shake the thought of you"

" I don't want nobody,
cause baby, it's you"
The Beatles

September 18, 2005

Laundry day

I have to spend some of my Sunday doing laundry. I have to admit that this is the favourite of all household chores. I can get lost in thought as the machines hum around me and the smell of clean clothes calms me right down. I always take a book with me, but I never get round to reading it.

The reason that the clothes cleaning needs to be done is because I am going away again tomorrow. Another school trip will take me to the Cote D'Azur until Friday evening. I am loving this going away, but I have loved being in my small apartment this weekend more. Soon it will be filled with the warm smell of clothes fresh from the dryer.

This evening I have to pack for the next trip, but I have to admit that I am looking forward to being at work every day, starting my routine proper. I have lived in Paris for only a month, but it feels like I have been here for so much longer. I will think about coming home on Friday and blogging all about the week away, sitting in the internet cafe on Rue Soufflot.

"There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again"
Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

"Two or three things I know for sure, and one if them is that if we are not beautiful to each other, we cannot know beauty in any form."
Dorothy Parker

September 17, 2005

Green and Grey

The curtains in the train on the way home were pistachio green. Any train that is going to Paris on a friady night will be packed and our journey home was squashed. The students were looking forward to getting home and so was I. We left the platform at Clairmont Ferrand and started to speed past the landscape that had taken my breath away so many times over the last couple of days.

Drizzle started to patter on the windows and the images that whizzed past the windows started to blur and fade to grey. I listened to music, I read my book. I got into heated discussions with the students about what might happen in the last Harry Potter book.

As the sun was setting we pulled into the Gare de Lyon and the kids were kissed and hugged by their parents who smiled at us as they tugged the kids away. Twenty minutes later, I was in a taxi bumping along the cobbled streets by the Seine, looking forward to my mezzanine bed and tiny apartment.

Now, its Saturday morning. The air is crisp and the sky is incredibly blue. I am going to get a coffee and a muffin and go in sit in the Jardin du Luxembourg and watch people who have nothing to do on a weekend but relax.

"Silence is a great source of strength"
Lao Tzu

"In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellency is simplicity"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

September 15, 2005


The school trip is a beautiful thing. I am in the heart of france, away from work. The kids are all great and so I am free to appreciate the scenery and the chances that are given on these things. Yesterday I climbed a volcano. Today we drove up to the top of Le Puy de Dome and were treated to views for miles around, as it is the highest peak in the area.

The small, chocolat type town where we are staying has been nicked from the set of a film. The huge fat trees that cover every hillside make me think of the Lord of the Rings. Long treacherous journeys oer hill and dale. Everything looks untouched and there is not a sound anywhere. The skies are cobalt blue, yet you still need a jacket as the mountain air retains a nip.

Sheep graze next to the tourists on every hillside, watching what is going on. Hikers and school parties puff side by side up the well worn paths. Everybody slips on the way down and we all giggle time. Everyone is so tired at the end of the day, that we eat and sleep like we need nothing else to make us happy.

"It's near wild heaven, not near enough"

"It just takes some time
little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be alright"
Jimmy Eat World

September 14, 2005

Puy de Dome

I travelled for fo hours on a rain out of the Gare de Lyon and into Clairmont Ferrand this morning. I have spent the day climbing to the top of a volcano. The view was virtually indescribable. I am blogging from a youth hostel in the chain de Puy, with nearly fifty children runing riot upsairs.

The countryside is breath taking. The spiked volcanoes spewing forth whole forests of trees and ivy spills over the side. Winding roads turn corners to produce a view more amazing than the last. I have walked inside a volcanic crater, I don't know what to think about that.

I sat own to eat with the other teachers and was treated o a fresh salad, beef in red wine, bottles of gorgeous red wine and a plate of local cheeses. School trip heaven.

"This could be the very minute
I'm aware I'm alive
All these places feel like home"
Snow Patrol

September 13, 2005


When it rains, it sounds very heavy on the glass of my skylight. The gutter is full of leaves and so collects all the rainwater, twinkling like a little stream outside my window. It makes me want to fall asleep.

This weekend we went to the market at Porte de Clignancourt. The market itself was one of those messy displays of city life that are amzing in their simple face slap of reality. Men held onto shopping trolleys that they had turned into home-made barbecues, roasting corn on the cob and selling it cheap. Teenage tourists haggle over fake Louis Vuitton wallets. You could smell the incense from the stalls selling all manner of tye dye.

Out where the Metro stops is very different to the places I have chosen to live and work. There is something more gritty about the arrondisements I visited this weekend. Each one is so different. There are more to explore. Each one like a parody of the Paris that we know and love from the flicks.

"To see you when I wake up
Is a gift, I didn't think could be real"

"In order to be irreplacable, one must always be different"
Coco Chanel

September 09, 2005

The leaves

Maybe it is just me, but I swear that I can feel that the seasons have changed. There are a few brown leaves scattered over the pavements and there is a slight breeze that smells of the tired trees.

The sky seems blue in a way that it didn't a few days ago and I am looking forward to putting on a jumper or cardigan and not feeling stuffy. All the parisiennes are back and the throungs of tourists seem to have thinned out in an atempt for normal paris life to continue.

It is still hot, but my walks home from work have been more like a gentle wander than a slide through the sweat of a thousand strangers. School has started properly, routine has kicked in and work is just work once more. I live and work in Paris. This retains a sense of the bizzare for me.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower"
Albert Camus

"Don't threaten me with love, baby,
Let's just go walking in the rain"
Billie Holiday

September 08, 2005

Another meme

I got this from Dispatches from France (see links). I sort of like these memes, not only because it gives me a chance to talk about myself, and who doesn't like that!

Seven Things I Can Do

1) The french splits
2) Say obscene football chants in Italian
3) Sit quitely for hours
4) Watch french TV and sort of understand a little bit.
5) Quote huge chunks of 'Friends'
6) Cook amazing risotto
7) Lie in the bath forever.

Seven Things I Plan to Do Before I Die

1) Become fluent in at least two languages
2) Go back to be a camp counsellor in the US
3) Watch the sunrise over Macchu Picchu
4) Fall in love
5) Bathe in the River Ganges
6) Finish my Masters, then do another one
7) Write a book.

Seven Things I Can't Do

1) Keep still
2) File my nails properly
3) Keep away from my blog
4) Shave my legs without missing bits
5) Forget about Rome
6) Imagine the future
7) Remember what it was like

Seven Things That I Find Really Attractive About the Opposite Sex

1) Chocolate eyes
2) a genuinely warm smile
3) Calm
4) Intelligence
5) strength
6) Hilarity
7)Stuff that I am not willing to put on my blog....

Seven Things I Say the Most

1) But, no
2) Selfish!
3) Boring!
4) Hello!
5) Hilarious
6) Ludicrous

Seven Books I Love

1) Wuthering Heights By Emily Bronte
2) Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
3) The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
4) The Rough Guide to Italy
5)The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
6) The Northern Lights Trilogy by Philip Pullman7) The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

I think that I am going to tag: Denise at battygrrl.blogspot and Sensibly Stoned. It is all quite good fun this tagging business....

Hot wandering

I spent the evening yesterday walking down Boulevard Saint Germain with C. We went to a stationary shop to buy pencil sharpeners, a cave au vin for some cool rose wine and a droguerie for some kitchen stuff.

On the way home, we stopped off at the most amazing of chocolatieries, a place called 'Cacao et Chocolat' on Rue de buci. It is close to where C lives and we have popped in their for a variety of very expensive treats to keep our apartment hunting and apartment finding spirits up. They do the most perfect macarons that I have ever tasted.

When I walk into the air conditioned shop, all I have to do is take a deep breath of cool chocolaty air and I am in heaven. There is no movement to the air in Paris at the moment, so we walked and chatted with close heat next to our skin, glistening with sweat, just from walking. We chatted about our first days at our new workplace. It is good to feel that you are sharing this experience with someone.

"What you see before you my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate"
Katherine Hepburn

"Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough"
Billie Holiday

September 07, 2005

Sniffer Dogs

There were sniffer dogs and Police on the Paris Metro today. It felt a little bit strange to say the least. I forced myself to get up at 6.40 so that I could see if leaving twenty minutes earlier could help me keep my ribs intact.

In reality, I left 10 minutes earlier and have to say that it was a little bit more comfortable. I hope that all you blog readers are ready for a year of whinging and moaning about transport in Paris.

Last night I sat in Cafe Soufflot drinking tea and watching the sun make its final moves around the city. At just after seven, the whole street was in the shade apart from the Dome of the Pantheon, which was bathed in golden light. I don't know how long I sat there nursing my hot drink, but it must have been nearly bedtime when I walked through the door to my tiny apartment.

"Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run"
Jeff Buckley

"Not necesarily stoned, but beautiful"
Jimi Hendrix

September 06, 2005

Morning commute

I have never seen people squash onto the Metro the way they did this morning. People literally having the skin scraped off their arms as the doors closed. I really need to start coming into work much earlier or much later to avoid the nightmare.

At the end of each day in Paris, before I go to bed, I clean my face and wash the metro away. I can feel the grey grime being lifted. City life is exciting, and my daily few seconds over the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower, is enough to make it all worthwhile. Give me a year to change my mind about this.

I've given myself a soundtrack to the 'Anne in Paris' film. My CD walkman (a gift from the school in Warsaw), comes everywhere with me. It provides me with the poetry to describe where I am and what I am doing. I know that in the future I will listen to these albums and think of the walk down Boulevard Saint Michel towards my Metro station.

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense"
Gertrude Stein

September 04, 2005

Too many airports

There are too many airports in the world. There are too many goodbyes, too many tears. There is not enough time for one last hug or to turn and watch someone walk away. There is no permanance in a life living abroad.

It has never been easy to say hello and goodbye to the people you love the most on a regular basis. It seems to be a constant round of tears when the people you love are not around. It is hard this life that we chose.

Ally has come and she has gone. And now I know Charles De Gaulle airport a little bit better than I did yesterday.

"Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would I'd never leave"
AA Milne

September 03, 2005

France Telecom

Since I arrived in France, the hardest thing that I have had to do is try and set up a telephone line. Getting a french sim card for my mobile was easy enough but I also need a landline to keep up with friends in the UK, Poland and other places too.

There was no tone at all when I moved in and the school secretary kidly called and made an appointment for a technician to come round and connect the line at the bargain cost of 50 euros. The day before the appointment the line got connected anyway and so I called and cancelled the technician.

What actually happened is that the technician came round anyway, left me a note to say that I was now connected and then disconnected the line. After nearly two hours of sweating in glass fronted phone boxes, I managed to make another appointment with a technician to see what the problem was. He fitted another box, tutted at me and charged me another 55 euros.

What a beautifully French settling in experience that was.

"The biggest single problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place"
George Bernard Shaw

September 02, 2005

Rear Window

The apartment that I live in is about at private as a shopping mall. My second floor window overlooks about 12 other windows, all in varying states of shyness with their curtains drawn or sometimes thrown wide open. There are about 10 metres from my window to the opposite set of apartments.

Having come from the 9th floor in Warsaw, I have to say that I am not used to such voyeuristic living. Last night my phone was connected and I was having a good gossip with Ally, getting ready for her visit on Saturday. The woman across the courtyard, huffed, tutted loudly and slammed her windows shut. Clearly the sound of my English voice laughing and gossipping was too much to bear.

There is also a flat full of young men who like to wander around with their clothes off, curtains open and lights on. I am never very comfotable with the intimacy of strangers. It all seems very inappropraite to me. I wonder if the French are just used to living this way. I feel like I am being watched all the time too. I think it will be better in the winter when it is cold, so I don't want to open the windows all the time.

"You can see a lot just by observing"
Yoggi Berra

"He alone is an acute observer, who can observe minutely without being observed"
Johann Kaspar Lavater