August 31, 2005

If you can't stand the heat

Paris is very hot at the moment. I have spent the last few days in various stages of sweating. The highlight of which was the half an hour of standing in a phone box in the afternoon sun, put on hold by France Telecom.

My apartment is nice and cool, but there is no breeze. So yesterday I went and sat in the Jardin du Luxembourg and watched all the intellectual Parisiennes pretend to read Guy de Maupassant. There are benches all over the park, but there are also loads of chairs scattered about that people nick to sit on, grabbing an extra one for their feet.

The park is full of people who look like they have spent the whole summer outside. People with gorgeous, golden brown tans. And there I am, sweating and puffing in the most unattractive of ways.

Tomorrow heralds the start of school proper. Even though I have been in and out of school since I moved to Paris, it is not until the official start of school that things begin to happen. There will be fifty teachers there that I do not know. It is all a bit scary, but once my parisienne routine kicks in proper, I think that I will really feel like I live in Paris.

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
T S Eliot

August 30, 2005

The centre of the Earth

After the first two weeks in Paris, charging around the Metro, I am keen to be overground again. I am reluctant to admit, however, that the fastest way to get around in Paris in by journeying through the centre of the earth.

I have found buses that go to school but they take at least fifteen minutes longer than the Metro. That all counts at seven in the morning. Even with a change of line it is only half an hour to work by tube. I am back at work properly on Thursday, so I will have to bite the bullet and start looking at tunnel walls again.

The jewel in my transport crown is a bus (27) that goes from the Jardin du Luxembourg to the Opera. It travels along the rive gauche and passes through the Louvre gardens before arriving at the biggest department store in the city, Gallerie Lafayette. It is twenty minutes of movement and beauty.

"Travellers, there is no path, paths are made by walking."
Antonio Machado

August 28, 2005

Blue sky Sunday

My first Sunday morning in my apartment. The sky above is an amazing clear blue and I woke up early. Instead of sitting in my apartment eating brioche and drinking coffee I decided that I would get out and see what Parisiennes on the left bank get up to on their days off.

The city is still devoid of people who live here because people are still on holidays and there are lots of tourists. I've been sitting in a cafe opposite the Jardin du Luxembourg watching the runners overtake each other on the route alongside the outside edge of the park.

I've watched at least four couples pretend to look for a nice cafe, and then slip into McDonalds. I can smell the fresh croissants and bread from the bakers on the corner of my street. When I am on the main street I gaze upwards at the amazing houses that must have the most fabulous view of the park, and think, "why do I only have a view of 12 other apartments?".

Sunday feels calm and quiet. It feels like a warm pain au chocolat dipped in milky coffee. Sunday feels like a deep breath and a big sigh. I think that I will take my book and go and sit in the park. There is laundry to be done, but who can be bothered to do that?

"Sometimes the most urgent thing that you possibly do is take a rest"
Ashleigh Brilliant

"I've been thinking Hobbes..."
"On a weekend?"
"Well, it wasn't on purpose.."
Calvin and Hobbes

August 26, 2005

Warsaw to Paris in 100 posts

This is officially my 100th post today. Some people on their blogs celebrate these milestones and I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Well, after all the moaning and worrying, here I am. I have come from Warsaw and I now live in Paris.It seems strange to me all the time that I live here now. I start work next week and once the routine kicks in I think that the gloss made fade a little bit. Anyone who lives in Paris will tell me that the glow of the metro fades to grey pretty quick.

The area that I live in is so full of life that I feel that it will be a comedown to be anywhere else after this. My apartment feels like mine now and I have slept so well these past few nights.

Should I end my blog now that the transition is done? Are there more things to be said? I think so. Trips around France, details of coffees, restaurants and shops to be visited in Paris. I can't imagine that you are all going to get rid of me yet.

"I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today"
William Allen White

"I look to the future because thats where I am going to spend the rest of my life"
George F Burns

August 25, 2005

The other guy

I have started work with a bloke from England. He really reminds me of me two years ago. When I moved to Warsaw I was excited and nervous in equal measure and those first few weeks were very hard to get through.

This guy has come straight from the UK and is finding it very hard to find his feet, and I feel for him truly. He has also left a girlfriend behind, which can't be easing the load. Trying to remember exactly the fear that accompanied that first move to Poland was difficult. Now I can see it in bucketloads every time I see him. I just told him that it will all be worth it in the end, just as Hannah told me when I first came here. I don't know if he believes me though.

I would be lying if I said that these moves are not the hardest thing in the world. I would alos be lying if I said that it was not the best thing that I have ever done, and that I spend every day thinking about how lucky I am that I did what I wanted to do so much.

"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things"
Albert Einstein

August 24, 2005

Keyboard craziness

How am I supposed to write anything on this stupid keyboard? You can all rest assured that I have sweat blood and tears over this post as it would appear that French Keyboards are a nightmare for those used to UK ones.

The street is busy outside and I am going over to the first this morning to help a friend sort out his apartment. There are blue skies and I have now lived in my apartment for two whole days! Things are good in Paris, though I wonder what it will be like when work starts and there is more of a routine. I will be so happy to have my phone connected so that I can talk to people again. As Jo is back in Warsaw now, it is wierd to think that they are all there without me.

I feel like I really live here now. I went out with some new friends last night and came back very late on the RER by myself. I was pleased that I felt totally safe, getting back into my own place at the end of the night was such a great feeling.

Only after a couple of days here have I realised what an amazing part of the city I live in. There are five million Japanese places, countless shoe shops and a fantastic atmosphere. The walk home from the metro should forever be interesting.

¨The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great that I thought I was in a dream¨
Jack Kerouac

August 23, 2005

The fifth

I have officially moved in! I am now a resident of the fifth arrondisement in Paris. My apartment in in between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Pantheon. It is the closest that I have ever lived to a McDonalds (25m) and is the smallest place that I have ever lived (20sqm). The Bathroom is really quite disgusting and it has all the privacy of a zoo as it overlooks a courtyard with buildings on all four sides.

I have put all my things into cupboards, cleaned what needed to be cleaned and bought things that I wanted to buy to make the place seem like mine. Last night I slept in my new bed for what seemed like forever.

Now that the frenzy of finding a place has gone I am hoping that things will settle down now. The next big thing of course is for school to start. I am a bit nrevous about the new job, but I have been in school so much that I think I will be much better than starting other jobs. I have already spent a bit of time with some of my new colleagues: shopping trips, coffees, eating out. I feeli like Paris really is my home already.

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home where-ever I find myself"
Maya Angelou

"Quotation is a servicable substitute for wit"
Oscar Wilde

August 19, 2005

The Latin Quarter

I have found one! I have secured a small apartement on the left bank in the heart of the Latin Quarter. It is very small but decorated in a very chic french way. I have to say that the whole process over the last few days has been horrible. Looking at places that were a nightmare and thinking "maybe this is as good as it gets..."

Well, it is clear from the apartments that I looked at today that this is not the case and I am glad that I didn't take one from sheer panic. The apartment is adorable and there is even a bed for Ally to sleep on when she comes for the night in a couple of weeks. I cannot explain how much relief I feel knowing that I am sorted and will be moving in on Monday. Hurrah! I hope you are all looking forward to posts from Paris. Maybe I will be able to start blogging about the city after I move in...

"Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you have"
H Jackson Brown

"You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else"
Albert Einstein

August 18, 2005

The arrondisements part 2

Apparantly, in Paris, someone has taken some of the scummier bulidings from Middlesboro and transplanted them into otherwise fantastic Parisienne streets. These buildings are then advertised as "rustic" or in one case "pleasant".

Clearly there are rules to be followed here that I am not aware of. The admin staff at the school keep telling us all that the flats we are looking at are overpriced. But there is nothing else to be found that is cheaper and still reasonable. The process is all quite disheartening.

Paris shines like a beacon throughout all the hotel and apartment madness, calm and un -flustered, she knows that we will all find somewhere.

"Hope is the dream of a soul awake"
French proverb

"Hope is faith holding out its hands in the dark"
Georges IIes

August 17, 2005

The arrondisements

Oh. My. God.

I arrived on Sunday early evening and got to my hotel fairly soon after that. Monday morning dawned, bright and full of promise. I spent the day sipping coffee on the steps of the Sacre Coeur. I walked down the Champs Elysee and wandered in and out of the shops. I sat and gazed at Place de la Concorde and watched the tourists walking past. All the time thinking, "I live here now!".

I thought about what exactly I was going to be doing over the next few days. I wondered if I would meet the other teachers that were staying in the hotel with me. I did not have to wonder for too long though. On Monday evening I was given a little card, telling me that I should go into work the next day for an introductory meeting.

I arrived at school just in time to meet the other teachers and start the whirlwind process of looking for an apartment. Me and the seven other new members of staff are all looking for a place to live. Let me tell you, this is a nightmare in the unfolding. I have now widened my search to include all of the arrondisements. I have seen somewhere with a black bathroom and have more appointments to come. Will I ever get to enjoy Paris? Do I currently reside in the smallest hotel room in the world?

"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you"
Christian Morganstern

August 14, 2005

Leaving on a Jet plane...

After all those weeks of contemplation and complaints, here we are. The bags are packed and in the boot of the car. Passport, money, tickets, all sorted and in my handbag. I have located my hotel.

I got a call yesterday and I am going to see a place in the 16th on Thursday, counds like everything that I would like so it will have to be a hole for me not to take it. Now that I can see an apartment in my mind I feel much more settled about going. I am sure that my bags are several kilos over the weight limit. Oh well, never mind. I will start throwing my knickers out at the check in desk if I have to.

It will be at least a few days before I can blog again, I hope that I will be blogging from near my new apartment soon! Ok, let the adventure begin...

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"
Marcel Proust

"Cowboy take me away
Fly this girl as high as you can
Into the wild blue"
The Dixie Chicks
(Cowboy, take me away)

August 12, 2005

Final Yorkshire

This time on Sunday I will be in the hotel in Paris. With this in mind, I have decided that the time may be ripe for a final Yorkshire post. Land of my birth, earth connecting to my roots and the source of my constant longing for a good cup of Yorkshire tea.

There is a training period to be a dry stone waller. The walls are made without cement, they are not solid so the wind blows right through them. As there is no resistance, the walls never fall down. Some of them are protected by law because they are so old.

This is a river just outside of Keld. When the river is low, you can see that the bottom is solid yellow rock that looks like the surface of the moon.

The open road, driving through the Dales, all the roads are like this. There is a certain ettiquete when you meet another car, procedures to be followed.

Having a month in Northallerton has been fantastic. Dad took me driving up into the Dales. I have said before that there is no-where in the world as beautiful as Yorkshire, and the scenery reminded me of why that is what I tell everyone that I meet.

"I just came back
to tell you that I love you
I just came back
because it wasn't quite right
when I left"
Eva Abraham
(I wish)

"I wonder if we’ll meet again?
Talk about life’s little spin, talk about why did it end."

August 11, 2005


I should be a whirling dervish in the packing and sorting stakes by now. It is thursday morning and I leave at lunchtime on Sunday. I should have my whole world packed into one large and one smallish size bag. What am I doing? Typing at the computer and procrastinating.

My room looks like a bomb has hit it. There are clothes and books everywhere. I am sure that I will get it all done, but I am also in the middle of another round of goodbyes. The thing about living abroad is that every trip home is a huge deal. Another luggage carousel of relationships. A little bubble of emotion to burst in each person that you leave behind.

"You're skin
Oh yeah you're skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
And you know
For you I'd bleed myself dry"

"My mind is racing, as it always will
My hands tired, my heart aches
I'm half a world away, here"
(Half a world away)

August 08, 2005

Sunset and Stars

Maybe city life is a bit to fast moving. Maybe I never stop to look at the evening sky. Maybe the tower blocks and smog cast a greyness over the light so that nothing can be seen. I only know that sunsets and stars are not like they are when you are in the country.

Last night saw the most beautiful and perfect of sunsets. Reds, oranges and yellows all bright and rich against the clouds. Fat white and grey clouds clinging onto the last bits of light and colour from the day. Clouds that cleared an hour after the sunset to reveal a sky full of radiant stars, twinkling next to the moon, vying for attention.

I think that something outside of cities does provide clarity. When you are taking deep breaths, and sighing through your smile when you look at something, you know it has to be pretty special.

"We'll take our hearts outside
Leave our lives behind
I'll watch the stars go out"

"It only takes one tree
to make a thousand matches
only takes one match
to burn a thousand trees"
(Thousand Trees)

August 06, 2005

This isn't Paris

I realise that I am once again posting pictures and thoughts not about Paris, but I loved these photos. Only a week to go now, so I am putting these pics up so I can gaze through them in a few months when I am thinking of Yorkshire, or of scary fish for that matter. I love this picture of the fish in particular, I like to think that an alien spaceship has landed in the water to explain the luminous glow.

Barmby Hall and Gardens. You can walk around the lake and feed the big fat fish. I have spent many Sunday afternoons here watching the biggest fish nick all the food and trying to throw everything in the directions of the little ones.

"The only paradise is paradise lost"
Marcel Proust

August 04, 2005

The Paris map book

Do you know how many different maps of Paris my little Northallerton bookshop sells? The correct answer is nine. Nine different maps of the same city that it a thousand miles away. How many maps of York? Five. Five maps of the city that is half an hour away by car.

I am easily confused you know, how am I supposed to decide which map will help me to navigate across central Paris? In the end I chose that one that will make me look least like a loser tourist. It is a little silver A5 size book that is like a mini A-Z of Paris. All the streets and metro stops are on there and it is cut into sections so that you can be on a page of a two mile area that you may happen to be in. How cool is that? I could read it behind a copy of the Beano and no-one would know that I wasn't Parisienne!

I also bought a huge map of France that I can use to plan my weekends away. The excitement is growing slowly now. This evening I am going to flip through my rough Guide and start dreaming of weekends in gorgeous B+B's in Provence.

" If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking"
Buddhist Proverb

Counting sheep

I am on a Paris countdown now. When I cam back to Northallerton, I had nearly four weeks before the move and now I have just over a week. I have seen most of my friends. Spent time with my friend who as just had a baby. I am ready to go to Paris now.

I was so scared at the thought of leaving Poland that getting excited about Paris was really not on the radar. But now, I am actually pleased when I think of my move. I keep catching myself daydreaming about what my apartment will be like. Thinking about where I will go to shop for the things that I will need once I move in.

I bought myself the Rough Guide to France yesterday. Have to get planning all my weekends away. My Rough Guide to Poland was the best £14 I ever spent. I can't wait. But I have to wait. There is another week to go. It wouldn't be so bad if there was a bit of sunshine, instead I have had three weeks of Yorkshire summer grey skies. Roll on the 30 degree Paris days.

"We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance"
Harrison Ford

"And you swear you'd feel much better
If only summer'd last forever
But the sky is clear and you're nowhere near
And the rain is here again"
(Don't need the Sunshine)

August 03, 2005

In the still of the night

It is the middle of the night and I can't sleep. Everything outside is dark and quiet. All I can hear is the cats screaming. K says that they sound like babies crying, and she is right.

I have been in bed for a while, with my eyes wide open. I am yawning, but don't feel tired and can't go to sleep. My mind is swimming and all sorts of stupid things are going through my mind. Things that never make the cut into daydreams when I am walking around with the noise of everyday life.

The haze between asleep and awake is always like that. It is the time of day when all the things that you think don't bother you come and slap you about the head, demanding attention. Everything seems sinister, important and only for you when the rest of the world is asleep. No-one exists except you in the dark.

"Sleep is when all the unsorted stuff comes flying out as from a dustbin upset in a high wind"
William Golding

"Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep."
Fran Lebowitz

"A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow."
Charlotte Brontë

August 01, 2005


I have had my first meme, and I don't even know what meme means! Thanks Kinuk, here are my answers...

id·i·o·syn·cra·sy - a structural or behavioural characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.
Write down five of your own personal idiosyncrasies.

1) I hate it when people read over my shoulder, or even stand behind me.

2) I am selfish, and emotionally detach from situations.

3) I grow my nails long and paint them. Every few weeks I will bite them all off. I don't know why. I end up with bleeding stump nails and have to start again.

4) When I think about other peoples lives, I never want what they have. I like my life the best.

5) If I could only choose one food to live on forever, it would be crumpets.

The Penines

I was born on one side of the Penines. My friend Maria lives on the other side. I am a white rose and she is a red. We should be at war really.

I have spent the last two days looking at views and thinking about the moors. Since reading Wuthering Heights I have had a romantic perspective on the expanses of hills and dales that cover Yorkshire and Lancashire. They are beautiful to me because they are wild, untouched after all these years.

The communities are based around villages set up to cater for the mills, the factories or mining businesses. Stone houses squashed onto the hillsides. Roads up and down that feel like a vertical drop when you are driving. Motorways that have such beautiful scenery on either side that it somehow feels a bit wrong.

Yesterday I went on a barge in the Yorkshire village of Uppermill. Maria and I talked and were quiet in equal measure. We talked about Paris, Manchester, work, romance and a million other things in between. Thoughts of travel was very much on our minds. With the two of us, it always is.

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Helen Keller

"No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow."
Lin Yutang