Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Meine Zeit wird kommen im Jahr 2010?

As my own little blogosphere here and at WYM limps sorrily towards the end of another 12 months,I thought I'd better do the decent thing and wish anyone who's still reading a Happy New Year,a Felice Nuovo Anno et cetera et cetera.

As I said last time,this year has been pretty rubbish compared to 2008,so I'm looking forward to seeing the back of it so to speak.It's been quite eventful though,I've lived in 3 countries since January,which is something not many people can say,and I thank everyone who's read this blog since my European adventures began,I hope you've found it a bit entertaining or something :)

Next year will be a scary year in that my time in Guildford will finish and I have to decide what to do next.I've still heard nothing about my application to the Foreign Office,but hopefully news will come soon in one form or another.

Anyway,I don't want to end on a downer,so I wish you all a Happy New Year again,and ask you to stay healthy and fabulous :)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Never give up on someone who you can't go a day without thinking about

I wonder what the time limit on that really is though? When does thinking about someone every day turn into "you're a weirdo" territory?

I'm having trouble typing this at the minute.I just sustained a cut to the index finger whilst carrying out that hazardous activity of eating an apple.It's OK,I didn't actually bite myself,I'm paranoid about breaking my teeth so I have to eat apples with a knife.It slipped.Ouch.

Bit disappointed (but not surprised) to discover that the pound I'd lost in the last few days is back on now :( Me and Sophie went to Maria's house last night to celebrate the end of the crappiest fortnight in history in terms of work.And we ate a lot of pizza and Pringles and Aero and pancakes with Nutella.I haven't eaten Nutella since I lived in France,so I hope this isn't the reawakening of the obsession.

Generally doing quite well on the weight loss front though.Lost over half a stone now,all in about 6 weeks too,which is nice.And I'm not following any mad diet as well.I don't believe in depriving yourself of things you like,so this has all been done through 40 minute (very relaxed) sessions at the gym 3 times a week.Sometimes 5.My jeans are actually getting too big for me now,which is nice,but does mean I look like a tramp.Oh well.

Started Christmas shopping today.Well I bought James's present at least.And he knows what it is,so that's not very exciting.I can't believe it's nearly December already,though I'm happy it is.This year has been rubbish really.After the best year of my life in 2007-8,this has been the complete opposite.2009 literally started terribly- with me throwing up in the bathroom as of 3am on New Years' Day.Prawns I think were the culprits.Then I left Germany and went to France for 5 of the most boring months of my life.Sometime around then (probably the end of last year actually),my relationship (in the non-romantic sense of the word) with someone I cared about a lot ended for no real reason.I hate to talk about it for the simple reason that I don't think other people would understand at all,but right or wrong,it's something I think about a lot.

Coming back to Guildford has been nice,but I can feel my relationships with other people breaking down every day.Some of my best friends too,which is a bit rubbish.I guess it's natural,but still.Why do good things have to change?I'm looking forward to leaving university,but if I could relive second year all over again,that would be completely fabulous.

Then there's the work overload situation and the fact that the (seemingly) constant noise from other people/the union means I sleep even less than is normal for me.Next week I'm seeing the doctor,but I'm really not convinced that Valium is going to help the matter.I've been on it twice before (once when I was a baby,that shows how abnormal I am),but I remember its effectiveness being quite limited on me when I was 9,so God knows what it'll be like now.I feel like I shouldn't have to resort to medication but I have to do something.I've spoken to one of my teachers too,who said she'll try and help me.

On the good side though,I have made some good friends this year- friends who will probably be staying around the Guildford area after next year,which will be cool.I decided a while ago that I don't want to go back to Kent for any length of time,I want to move here permanently as soon as possible.Whether this will be to do a European Politics Masters or working somewhere,I don't know.Actually I'm going to apply for a Masters at Flensburg University too,but whether I could live abroad again for 2 years seems a bit questionable at the minute.

Speaking of Flensburg,I'm going back at Easter :) Easyjet are my heroes at the moment- they're starting flights from Gatwick (my local airport) to Hamburg as of February,which will be super.I'm going back to Kiel with my mum and will hopefully get the chance to go on my favourite train journey in the world to freezing cold Flensburg.I've never seen it in Spring,but I bet it's lovely :)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Das weiße Band

Tonight I'm going to the British Film Institute with James to watch the new film Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon).It's set in a north German village,and some scenes were filmed in Lübeck- the rest is shot around Berlin,which isn't Northern Germany to me,but whatever.I'm not sure of the plot exactly,but they've just been talking about it on Radio 4,and apparantly it's "radical" and "unnerving" and is about "creepy kids".Which sounds promising :)

Oh,I also went to Marks and Spencer's Penny Bazaar this morning.We didn't have all that much selection at our store,but I bought a money tin,tea towel,notebook,socks and a mug.All for 5p :) I think all shops should do something like this.

Monday, 9 November 2009

My life is complete...

...now I have one of these



I've been a bit envious of James's DAB alarm clock since I saw it 6 weeks ago,so was excited to discover that Tesco sells them pretty cheaply.I love it so much,now I can listen to Radio 4 all night without thinking about batteries :) I'm listening to it now- they just mentioned Schleswig-Holstein on the General Knowledge quiz :)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Big up the Medway posse!

I wondered why loads of my friends from Kent had joined the "Medway Posse" group on Facebook.I missed TV Burp on Saturday you see...



Wikipedia tells us that he's actually from Woking.Which is just as...full of charm as Medway :)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Felice Compleanno

Despite having to get up early to revise for my Russian test yesterday morning- my birthday was really rather fab.I got a very nice bag and matching purse from my mummy,and a (as yet) unnamed teddy bear from Dima and Marko.And Paperchase goodies from James.And my notice board is now full of very nice cards,most of which are rather glitzy.

We couldn't get a table at Jamie's Italian as was the plan,so we went to Da Gennaro's instead,which I think I would have preferred anyway- it's very quiet,and the people who run it are from Caserta,which is quite near Ischia.We had very nice wine and pasta,followed by a surprise cake that Maria and Sophie had made for me that day...



James had bought me a nice chocolate one from Marks and Spencers too,but that one's a bit too far gone to take a picture of now.

After dinner,we went to Flares,the seventies club which is pretty much the only evening establishment in Guildford I'll ever go to.Keira bought me this...



Well not just me,obviously,everyone had some.It's a Blue Lagoon,and it was yummy.

Then we did some more pictures...



Yes,it's your favourite Europop DJs! And yes,I wore my coat in a nightclub.

Oh,and here's me under a glitterball...



The dancefloor is all cool and changes colour,and what with the glitterballs and the smoke machine,I felt a bit like a Eurovision star :) Ahem...

Tonight in comparison has been really boring.Though we did go to watch the Stoke Park fireworks.Not in Stoke Park,that would be silly to walk all the way there in the rain.Luckily we're about 100 metres away from the top of a hill where we could see everything probably better than the people who were actually there.No pictures though,as my camera is rubbish in the dark.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Positive spin

It's half past midnight and I've been sitting here in a public computer room working for nearly an hour.There are two other people here,who I don't know but who are making me feel slightly comforted that I'm not the only one.You see,Wednesdays are Union nights here,meaning the bass from the club which is about 50 metres from our house makes my light fitting vibrate and rattle,and generally keeps me up from 10pm til 3am.I cannot sleep through this.Anyone who can sleep through this is abnormal and wrong in the head and probably not human.This happens at least 3 times a week now,and combined with the fact that the people who live in the house nextdoor are inconsiderate arseholes who love to screech their inane conversations at high volume,means I'm really not getting much sleep at all,and consequently am in a bad mood most of the time,have chronically aching muscles,and look like death.

But...

I have a lot of work to do.I'm not complaining about this,as that's what you should expect from university.If you are at university and don't like it,you should probably leave and go back home to mummy and daddy who will do everything for you.So I thought I'd take advantage of these no-sleep nights,and use them to do my work.It's been quite successful so far,I managed to write a whole story about Teitur this evening.About when I went to see him in Denmark that is.We're doing a course in German Presenting Skills,and we have to tell stories in an interesting way tomorrow afternoon.

I'm managing the work-life balance thing quite well this year too I think.I was pretty much a recluse in first year,and a lot of second year too.So I want to make the most of this year and actually do things.I went to Pizza Express with James this evening,which was lovely,even if I am spending far too much money on food these days.Seems we've pretty much decided on going here for my birthday next Wednesday,though I haven't really invited anyone yet as it's all come around pretty fast,so it will be interesting to see who comes :/

Had a nice chat with some people on my course earlier.It seems odd how nobody in our department really spoke to eachother for the first two years,so I hope we haven't left it too late to actually become good friends.Either way,I'm glad they're around.The next 8 months would be a bit lonely otherwise.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Miscellaneous post #6

Quick blog time.

Been stupidly busy ever since I've been here,despite having a 4 day weekend,there's still just not enough time to fit everything in.Work+gym+shopping+washing+Sounds of Europe+socialising=too much.But it's all good fun.Actually last week was terrible for many reasons,but now I'm busy again,I'm forgetting about it.Have already lost nearly 2lbs at the gym,though I think I might have put quite a lot of that back on this evening thanks to the lovely big salami I bought on Friday.Ah well,gym again tomorrow probably.I love the reclining bikes,managed nearly 12km on that today,but will never manage more than 2 on the treadmill...

Been working on my German essay this evening- the most enjoyable essay I'll ever have written as it's all about Flensburg :) Even started a bit on my dissertation tonight too.Should really be making the most of the very rare quiet time you get here for sleeping,but this is the first time since I've been here that I've been motivated to do some work.

Anyway,listen to Sounds of Europe tomorrow,I think it'll be an interesting show this week.We've got all the normal stuff,but also the results of my recent foray into the Uzbek,Armenian and Azeri pop scenes.I'm looking forward to it anyway :)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Flying Doctors

All going nicely in G-Town so far- have very nice housemates,though I do only see one of them most of the time.Seem to have anti Norwegian walls which keep repelling my Norway flag every time I stick it to them.Met a nice German man yesterday and a nice Russian one too- turns out I can still understand Russian after all,which is a nice feeling.Been very busy in general,but if all goes according to plan (I really hope all goes according to plan),I'll be off to London tomorrow night to see Teitur.But for now,bed.The bass has stopped,I should make the most of it :)

Update- it hasn't all gone according to plan- booooooo :( But he has just released an interesting UK album which is a hybrid of all the others,so hopefully there'll be more shows soonish.As for tonight,I'll just have to watch Eastenders and enjoy it I suppose :)

Sunday, 27 September 2009

The road to dreamland is blocked

This will probably be my last post for a bit.Spare me the tears now,I'm sure you can go without hearing about my mundane life for a few weeks ;) I'm devilishly busy getting ready to go back to Guildford on Saturday,and it's pretty much a certainty that my computer won't work there when I get back,for God knows how long.

Been busy lately with driving and things.I have a car (with paisley seats!) but don't know how to drive it,so want to learn as soon as possible.It's going well so far.I'd recommend automatic lessons to anyone.People make it sound like a big deal that you won't be able to drive a manual,but I don't plan on getting through 2 cars a year,and I'm sure automatics are easier to find than they say.But I've had 3 lessons so far,and already I've driven all around Gillingham,done "country roads",big roundabouts on the A2,emergency stops,winding narrow roads with cars parked on both sides and I'm pretty good at parking too.I haven't quite got the laws of physics yet,in that hills make you go downwards faster,so I have actually broken the speed limit once or twice,but overall,I think I'm doing quite well for someone with no common sense and hatred of doing anything practical that involves thinking and concentrating.

Also had a very nice day in Greenwich last Thursday.Myself and my aunt planned this trip to London nearly a year ago and it's only just happened.Bought a very pretty little ceramic bowl from Jerusalem at the market,and Chinese wooden bangles that make me thankful I have the wrists of a 5 year old.We went to the Observatory,which I always find fascinating.I'm generally completely uninterested in science of all kinds,but I've always loved astronomy and the concept of space and time.Also had an interesting pizza at Pizza Express- it's a new thing I think,and is called a "light pizza",because it has a big hole cut out of the middle and replaced with salad.A nice idea,but I did feel a bit cheated.

Today I've been packing,which is always a nightmare.Still have more to do as well.I really don't want to go back to the discomfort of campus accommodation and all the associated bad memories,but at the same time,I can't wait to start going to the gym,having lost only 2lbs in 3 months :) James has sold the idea of spinning classes to me on account that they involve music and glitterballs,so I think I'll be going to that.Actually I know a few people who've signed up to the gym,so that gives me more motivation to go,as if fitting into nice clothes again wasn't enough.

Then there's the small matter of Sounds of Europe to think about.Looks like we'll be back on Monday 5th from 9-11pm,giving us not very much time to think of songs to play.We've both amassed lots of new stuff during the year away,but there's also quite a bit that we discovered just after ending the show last May.I raided my nan's music collection today,but decided Gianni Morandi and Neapolitan folk songs are probably not what the show needs.I did take Patrizio Buanne's album with me though,so may find something on there,though what I've heard so far is roughly 26 times cheesier than a Quattro Formaggio,so we'll see.

Also agonising over whether to go and see Teitur in Shepherds Bush next Thursday.It'll be October 8th,which is a sort of anniversary for me....of the last time I saw him.I badly want to go,but one slip up on the tube/bus front,and I won't be back in Guildford til around 7 the next morning.In the meantime,here's a song of his that I discovered last week,I really like it,I think it's the only Danish one he's ever done.It's called Syner (Visions).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Twitter is great Part 2

Thanks to Derren Brown's twitter page,I just discovered Charlie Brooker has written another book- The Hell of it All.As I'm just about to finish Screen Burn,this is very welcome news indeed.Even if it is all his old Guardian columns,most of which I read during long and tedious workdays in a certain capital city :)

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

You love me and want to move to Norway?

The (irregular) PVE telly round-up:

- Peep Show (C4): Hooray,Peep Show is back at last! I've been a fan ever since the first series- a series where I empathised so much with Mark Corrigan,it was a bit scary.It seemed to have lost its way a bit in the last few series (though Guildford was mentioned once,so bonus points there),but last Friday's episode was just as good as ever.Ultimately it's all about Schadenfreude really- the situations that Mark especially gets himself into are so predictable (the whole German thing this week),but his reactions (coupled with his self-loathing) are always funny.Then there's the two or three lines from each episode that stick in your head all week."A chance would be a fine thing..."

- How Not to Live Your Life (BBC2): I saw the first series when it was repeated on BBC2 during July and August,and was very pleased to see the new series is being shown on BBC3 on Tuesdays at 10.30.Don is a bit of a loser who's inherited a house (and its mortgage repayments) from his nan.Last series was all about his love for flatmate Abby and hatred of her boyfriend.This series,she's gone away for a few months,leaving Don depressed and sulky.The old lady slapping him round the face and telling him to "cheer up,you pathetic little c**t" is probably the funniest thing I've seen on telly for a while.

- Shooting Stars (BBC2): Another programme I've loved for years.I would say I was too young to understand the humour properly the first time around,but for me,it's always been about George Dawes anyway.He doesn't have as much to say as he used to,but his songs are still brilliant- as silly and catchy as anything Tim Vine would write.Hip Hop is the Best has always been my favourite...There's been a lot of negative feedback about this comeback,but I find it just as funny as the originals.I wasn't sure about Angelos to start with,but he's growing on me now.

- Grouchy Young Men (Sky 3): Not sure if this is a proper series or just a one-off,but I enjoyed what I saw of it.I used to watch Grumpy Old Men/Women and secretly agreed with most of what they said,so I'm pleased to see there are miserable people closer to my age too :) I hope there'll be more episodes sometime soon.

- Dolce Vito- Dream Restaurant (C4): Heard a lot of negative stuff about this show too,but I really enjoyed it.A nice bit of escapist TV for a Thursday night,in the same way Holiday,A Place in the Sun and all of those type programmes are.In case you didn't see it,it follows restaurant owner Vito try to open a British restaurant in Italy.After several potential deals on sites from Benevento to Florence fall through,he finally settles on a place in Bologna,serving up a menu of things like Ploughmans Lunch,fillet steaks,fish and chips and prawn cocktail.It all looks very nice too.Vito was born in Campania (the best part of Italy of course,as that's where my family are from too :) ),but moved to the UK at the age of 1.But despite that,he's still as Italian as they come- loud and very excitable,a contrast to his fabulous (also Anglo-Italian) fiancée,who is also seen a lot helping out with business negotiations.There are also plenty of gratuitous shots of his Alfa Romeo,which is always nice.

- X Factor (ITV): Still not convinced about the new format.I don't like Britain's Got Talent,and that is essentially what the early stages of this is now.That said though,my favourite so far is a guy whose name I can't remember now,but he had big hair and sang Sex on Fire.He was amazing,but that audition probably wouldn't have worked without the audience.So,swings and roundabouts as they say.Boot Camp next,this is the most boring part of the whole programme for me,so I'm not too bothered about what happens there.

- Derren Brown: The Events (C4): I'd never seen anything Derren Brown had done before the Lottery thing,but I've been enjoying this series and the vast amount of discussion surrounding it.People have been going a bit mad about the Lottery programme,and I just can't understand why.He's made it clear that he isn't a psychic,but an illusionist,so what were they expecting? The events themselves aside,I've found the two programmes so far very entertaining.I haven't won the Lottery yet,and I didn't get stuck to my chair,but I am inexplicably finding Derren more attractive every week.It must be magic :)

Monday, 21 September 2009

I sacrificed myself to make you want me

I'm having "one of those evenings".One of those evenings that shouldn't happen anymore,but still do.So what better than to listen to Kings of Convenience,providers of always lovely music and words.This video is rather mystical and relaxing too.

Scotland Day 4: Giggle Chops

A bit sad to leave our lovely apartment behind, we go back into Edinburgh to get some breakfast and leave our luggage somewhere. I decide £7 is extortionate to leave a holdall at the station for 6 hours, so carry it around all day. It’s not in the slightest bit uncomfortable...

Get on sightseeing bus and seemingly upset a German girl by our very presence who sits scowling at us all the way around. It’s a modern new-fangled bus tour, with headphone commentary instead of someone at the front with a microphone. We heard quite a bit about the city’s history from the driver on yesterday’s trip, but it’s still interesting. Like the bit about the street which is actually a bridge. Bus is definitely the best way to see the city. Walking all the way around would be too much like hard work, and I wouldn’t have really known what we were looking at anyway. Intend to get off the bus around the observatory, but miss the stop and have to walk back there later. After a quick trip to HMV, we walk up Calton Hill where there are nice panoramic views of the city, and lots of memorials.

Head back to Royal Mile after assisting some men from Paisley with directions- the directions being “go up the hill”. Have very yummy lunch at Garfunkels (Aberdeen Angus burger and chips), and another look around touristy shops before getting back to Waverley for our train at 5pm.

Have to sit opposite an annoying couple. The girl is annoying on account of her sulky face, and the guy is annoying on account of his haircut, his insistence on keep stroking the girl’s aforementioned sulky face and calling her Giggle Chops. As a combination they’re annoying because everything about them screams “London”. Though actually, they do get off somewhere before London, where they are replaced by an annoying German girl who keeps having hilarious German-English Blackberry conversations containing phrases like “Yeah, the dubstep war hamma geil, na”. Keira leaves me before London too, and I make my way to the door extra early to race off hoping to get the 10.03 from Victoria. Thankfully, we’re 5 minutes early, and despite having to buy 2 separate tickets and a tube journey of 5 stops, I make it. I’m cranky and stressed by this point, temporarily forget where I am, and automatically ask for a bottle of Coke in French. It was a French bakery chain though, so it was OK :) Read Charlie Brooker’s hilarious Screen Burn book on way back from London before getting home around 10.45 instead of the midnight I was dreading. Magic.

Scotland Day 3: You’ll never see a Nessie in the zoo

Get up at an ungodly hour (4.45am) with very bad tummy indeed. Get down to the Royal Mile for 7.45 to meet our coach that will take us to the Highlands and Loch Ness.Melt at the sound of our “tour guide”’s accent (Scottish of course). Discover he in fact isn’t coming with us at all, he was only there to check us in- our real tour guide and driver is what I think could be described as a stereotypical Scot. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy with a gruff voice, very dry sense of humour and a very nice kilt. Tells us he’s ex-military (that explains a lot) and that his first language is Gaelic (pronounced “garlic”, I never knew...). Says you shouldn’t come to Scotland if you don’t like Scottish music, and proceeds to play us some lovely chilled-out Gaelic music by a lady called Kathleen MacInnes. When going on a tourist... tour, you expect your guide to know about local history. This guy certainly doesn’t disappoint, and talks pretty much all the way through the 12 hour trip, stopping only to blast a bit of music or get angry at another driver/cyclist/police car... I like him, he’s definitely my kind of tour guide, even if his stories are pretty much exclusively about clan massacres and gruesome deaths of prominent historical figures. He finishes the rather sickening story of how William Wallace died just in time for our first stop- at Kilmahog, the home of Hamish, a gorgeous 16 year old Heiland Coo...



After Kilmahog, the scenery changes and we’re in the mountains. This is why I wanted to come to Scotland- I watch Tir is Teanga on BBC Alba and am usually fascinated by the prettiness and mystery of the mountains. In real life, it’s just as impressive. It may be a long trip, but it’s difficult to get bored when there’s something new to look at around every corner. One minute you’re surrounded by heather covered “bens”, and the next there’s acres of boggy marsh stretching in front of you, and the next, you’re driving by a loch lined with berry-laden trees. Officially enter the Highlands and get very excited at seeing road signs in Gaelic. I learnt (Irish) Gaelic for a while, but gave up because it was too hard, but I think it’s a lovely language- impossible to read and wonderfully Scandinavian sounding. Stop at Glencoe after hearing about the 1692 massacre. It’s probably the prettiest place we stop at all day. Also interesting to see how fast the weather changes, just 10 minutes before Glencoe, the sky is grey and bleak, arrive at Glencoe and the clouds have shifted and it’s just like any autumn day.



On through Fort William and we see Ben Nevis and hear about how whisky is made, and that 50% “goes to the angels”. Stop at Spean Bridge- near where The 39 Steps was filmed. Officers were trained around here during the Second World War, which explains the presence of a war memorial in an otherwise seemingly random location.

Reach Fort Augustus around 1.30 and get our free lunch. Cheese and pickle sandwich, apple, Scottish mineral water and shortbread. I can’t stand shortbread unless it’s of the Millionaire variety, but I eat it anyway. It’s a bit nicer than I expected. We only have an hour here, so choose not to go on the boat trip a lot of the others are going on, but sit on the shore of Loch Ness with our lunch. No Nessie, but several ducks...The water is crystal clear and the whole place is very peaceful, though probably not for the locals.

Tummy starts hurting again once we’re back on coach, and headache develops too, as well as sudden sense of sleepiness. I think there’s rather energetic bagpipe or accordion music being played now, so I don’t fall asleep properly. Get excited at the mention of Monarch of the Glen as we drive past Ardverikie House aka Glenbogle. MotG was one of my favourite programmes back in the early 2000s- (admittedly mostly because of Archie), and it was probably this that got me interested in the Highlands long before Tir is Teanga.

Final stop is at Pitlochry in the Perth and Kinross area. It’s like an urban jungle compared to everywhere else we’ve been- with an actual High Street with banks and estate agents and charity shops. Get chips at fish and chip shop (surprisingly)- the best chips I’ve had in a long time. They’re very generous on the salt and vinegar front in Pitlochry. Mmm...

Drive over Forth Road Bridge back to Edinburgh. Views are nice, but I’m actually quite scared of bridges, so I don’t enjoy it all that much. Arrive back in Leith at gone 8pm and don’t do very much for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Scotland Day 2: (Liquid) Sunshine on Leith

Apparantly Scotland doesn’t have rain, it has Liquid Sunshine. Ring people at home, who all tell me it’s been 26 degrees in Kent. It’s not that in Edinburgh, and we have a whole day of Liquid Sunshine, clouds and rainbows. Book Loch Ness tour for following day and head to Royal Mile to look at the shops. Best shop is easily Ness, which not only sells gorgeous bags with a modern twist on tartan, but also lovely colourful clothes and cute gloves / arm warmers. Realise everything is too expensive. Go to Edinburgh Castle and are a bit disappointed that it costs £13 to get in. It had better be a bloody good castle. First sight is a nice view of the city (Princes Street), and a rainbow stretching over it.




Look at Scottish Crown Jewels (I never knew such a thing existed :/ ), the Royal Apartments where King James IV was born, the War Memorial, the Dragoons Museum, the Prison of War Experience. Castles are nice, but it’s hard to imagine what they were like in the days they were used, when there are 50 American tourists all with gigantic backpacks pushing their way around. Spend most of the day there and decide it is a pretty good castle- the Crown Jewels did it for me, very interesting story. They’re also very understated, unlike the camp and garish crown our lovely Queen wears. Have lunch at Redcoat café- tuna sandwich, Scottish mineral water and the best Millionaire’s shortbread I’ve ever had. Walk back down the Royal Mile looking in every touristy shop at tartan scarves, tartan rugs (now I have a car, I really want one of those) and exquisite cashmere socks. The rain and wind makes them all the more exquisite, but at £25 I have to sadly say goodbye to them. Go to St Giles’ Cathedral, lovely old building with quite a modern interior. Men in cherrypickers are painting the ceiling. Buy the cutest cartoon postcards- a sort of Where’s Wally vision of Edinburgh, light a candle for a certain person as I’ve done in every church in every country I’ve been to in the last year, then go home.

Disappointing carbonara for dinner. Watch Insatiable- a thoroughly enjoyable Spanish chick flick with a major twist. Discover Rock of Love on TMF. Good Lord...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Hop Farm

I have no brothers or sisters,and I never went to playschool.This means for the first 4 years of my life I only had adult company,and subsequently have always felt more grown up than other people my age and even now,hate their sometimes childish behaviour.

Except when big bouncy pillows are involved...



And furry animals...



And especially carousels...



Yesterday I went to the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood with Emma and Shabana.It took us forever to find,but it was a really good day.I literally haven't had that much fun since I danced around like a loon to the Work Your Magic remix at The Scala last year.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Scotland Day 1: North > South

Manage to get seat on commuter-rich 7.58 from Gillingham-Victoria. 5 stops on Victoria Line to Kings Cross. Get annoyed at how rubbish the Underground is on account of it being so small and claustrophobic and full of London people (There are many reasons I don’t like London- the people being one of the main ones). Take back everything I said about the Paris metro- it’s fab. Meet Keira at Kings Cross, buy stuff to eat on the train (Millionaire’s shortbread and bacon and egg muffin from a nice man called Fabricio). Man tells us off for not queuing for the train. Who the hell queues on a train platform? Especially when your seat is already reserved. Get 10am Flying Scotsman all the way to Edinburgh, stopping at Peterborough, York, Darlington and Newcastle. I’ve never been this far north. Discuss ideas for Sounds of Europe and do the crossword in Closer- it’s a joint effort, as the clues are sometimes very misleading with their unindicated use of plurals. Notice that the landscape in Northumberland (?) / Southern Scotland is lovely- streams and hills everywhere, and tons of sheep and cows. And masses of open sea to the left (we’re travelling backwards). Decide North is better than South, not that I needed much convincing anyway.

Arrive in Edinburgh 10 minutes earlier than expected. Come out of Waverley Station in the wrong direction and spend ages looking for the stop where Lothian Buses number 10 to Western Harbour leaves from. Ask 2 drivers and am rather embarrassed that they don’t understand my accent. Being from the Home Counties where everyone from Canvey Island to Bournemouth speaks the same makes you assume that it’s an easily understood accent. Suddenly feel a bit foreign. Find bus and get annoyed at the Lothian Buses system of not handing over any money and having to put it in what looks like a metal paper shredder and collect your ticket from a machine about a foot away. What if you don’t have the exact change? I didn’t, so I lost a pound. Decide I don’t like Lothian Buses, although the tartan seats are nice and comfortable. Arrive Western Harbour (Leith) after what seems like quite a long time thanks to all the traffic lights and roadworks. Find Ocean Apartments pretty easily and fall in love with ours immediately. Decide to just go to Asda for some food, and spend the rest of the evening in with the Michael McIntyre and Europop DVDs. Have a bit of a sing song to This Is My Life. Go to bed.

Ostend

Apart from a boy at the back of the coach who was with his nan and clearly didn’t want to be, myself and Keira were the youngest people on the trip by about 60 years. They must have loved our chatter. We considerately moved from one end of the coach to the other after getting off the ferry though, just to make sure we didn’t make absolutely everyone hate us.

The ferry trip was pleasant on the way over. Nice to be on the good old Dover-Calais after a few years. Though I still have no idea why when my Danish friend was living in the UK, seeing the White Cliffs was the one thing he wanted to do more than anything else... Anyway, after coffee, we went outside and took some amusing pictures....



I have less hair than Keira, so mine are not quite as effective :(

When the driver (called Alan, which made us think of this every time someone said his name) said we’d be stopping before we got to Ostend, I did get a bit excited at the thought that it would probably be in France and I could speak French again. Turns out it wasn’t though, it was about 15 minutes from Ostend itself- a little chocolate factory on the side of a motorway. I definitely got excited at the sight of Galler chocolate bars, of which I ate very many when I lived in France and subsequently look like I do now. But I bought one anyway (white chocolate praline as usual).

The coach dropped us off near a mini marina type thing...



And it wasn’t long before we found a music shop. Excitement for me once again as it was the Free Record Shop, like they have in Oslo. Seems CDs are just as expensive as they are in Oslo too. I didn’t buy anything in the first one- though we were both intrigued by the amount of CDs by a guy called Regi, and also the popularity of an accordion duo called The Sunsets and a cheesy looking guy called Christoff.

We found the beach quite quickly, which as I said, looks much nicer on a sunny day. There were quite a few people there, and we had a little sit down and chat like you do. Somehow it just didn’t feel like Belgium though- I guess that’s because I’d only been on a beach 4 days previously, and once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all really. We looked in all the tat shops along the seafront, as you have to, and I bought some nice vintage postcards which will go nicely with my ones from Bruges and Paris, and my Soviet propaganda ones from Russia. It seems local photographers are a bit modest when it comes to Ostend- none of the postcards with real photos on did the beach justice at all.

After a bit more walking, we found the Japanese garden that Keira’s friend had told us about. I didn’t really know what to expect from a Japanese garden, but it was nice. Lots of bonsai as I suppose is to be expected, fishes and a waterfall...





Walking back into the town centre, I decided I’d quite like a holiday home on the Belgian coast. There are definite similarities between Ostend and Schleswig-Holstein, with the biggest difference being that Ostend is a cheerful, more colourful kind of place that’s more instantly likeable than anywhere on the German Baltic coast. The language situation in Flanders is quite interesting too- Flemish (to me anyway) definitely sounds like Plattdeutsch, and actually, any multilingual signs to be found were written in Plattdeutsch as opposed to standard German, which surprised me. This is just another plus-point of Flanders for me though, I didn’t feel as out of place as I did in Denmark- with a bit of listening practice I think I could understand quite a bit of Flemish. Then of course there’s French. Though I know about the strained Flemish-Walloon relations in Belgium, quite a few people in shops spoke French- good for me :) Cultural point number 2- people in Paris will ignore you when asking for directions, people in Ostend are nice and have a sense of humour.

We found some more music shops back on a busy sidestreet- by the way, in case you’re a fan- Englebert Humperdinck seems pretty big in Flanders- he was playing at the Kursaal sometime that week, and there were posters of him everywhere. Anyway, I couldn’t go to Belgium without buying something for the radio show- so I got Laura Pausini’s E Ritorno di Te, Star Academy 6- Leurs Singles, and De Jager by Eva de Roovere. Details to follow on WYM some time.

And after a quick trip to the psychedelic pink sweet shop, a quick trip to the lovely gothic church near the harbour and a pretty rough ferry trip back to Dover, there ended our trip. Four hours wasn’t really enough, although we did fit quite a bit in. It’s times like this I feel lucky to live in Kent, as we’re so close to Europe. Live anywhere else in the country and I just don’t think a day trip would be worth it.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Twitter is great

Remember the other week when I talked about my Riverside pictures and that I think bleak landscapes are more interesting than pretty postcard ones? Well thanks to Olafur Arnalds (my favourite Icelandic classical musician- he's friends with Teitur don't you know?) and his Twitter postings,I found this site which has kept me occupied all morning.Web Urbanist has lots of photos of abandoned places and buildings,from the eerie St Kilda archipelago in the Outer Hebrides,to disused chemical factories in Poland.It's rather wonderful.Also this- the ghost city of Cyprus...

Sunday, 13 September 2009

I wish I'd written this: Part 1

Nothing better to do on a long boring evening than translate songs...

I’ve prayed to my angel, thought of no other girl,
Waited for a thousand hours, all for nothing.
Written twenty letters until one was good enough for you
“Hi, how are you? Do you think about me sometimes?” Sometimes...

What does it look like, the sky above you?
Over there where the sun never sets in summer.
Where does the sky begin and end?
If it stretches far enough, then the sea between us will be meaningless
I miss you, oh I miss you.

Reset all the clocks, I can’t see anymore,
Since I met you, my heart has stood still


Sentimental,but hey.I like it.*Sighs at inability to ever write such words..."

Friday, 11 September 2009

Pictures...

...of our trip to Edinburgh are here and of our day trip to the Highlands and Loch Ness here if you're interested.Will write about the whole thing some time this weekend possibly,but not before I've written about Ostend :)

Monday, 31 August 2009

Riverside Park

Today is Dima's 2nd birthday...



Nobody bothered getting him a present so we took him to Riverside Park instead.I used to go there sometimes for picnics with my friend Sian- it isn't far away from here and it overlooks the Medway Estuary and the marshes.You can also see Kingsnorth power station,and lots of rusty old boats in the reeds.It's definitely a rather bleak place,but there's something I like about it.Sculpted parks and coastlines are all very well,but grim marshes can look just as nice in their own way I think.Dima enjoyed it anyway.Pictures are here if you're interested.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

So can they go anywhere they like?

We got back from Dorset last Sunday afternoon, after spending the day at Monkey World. Mother has wanted to go there for a long time, and we all used to watch the series filmed there (Monkey Business) when it was on a few years ago. Seems I didn’t watch it as much as them though, as I couldn’t remember the names of any famous monkeys :( We did get a few really good pictures, particularly of a 5 year old chimp called Rodders, who was born at the park and is clearly used to the camera as he sat there and smiled the whole time. But I don’t think you’re allowed to publish any photos taken there for some reason, which is a shame. It was nice though, I never realised lemurs are so cute, or that marmosets have such tiny faces.

Two days later, Keira came to Kent, and after a rather nice Chinese buffet in Gillingham, we went along to Priestfield to watch the Second Round Carling Cup game between the Gills and Blackburn. Yet again, there were soppy love ballads playing in the Chinese- Sacrifice by Elton John, Careless Whisper by George Michael... I don’t know why this is, but it does seem to be the case at every Chinese restaurant I go to- in any county. We also witnessed the most rubbish birthday party ever. A boy of about 6-8 (I have no idea how to age kids) was there with his immediate family- not even sitting anywhere near the birthday banners that the restaurant had put up. I’m sure they didn’t even speak either. A party complete with 80s ballads and just 2 other people in the whole restaurant. That’s the stuff birthdays are made of...

The football was good. I haven’t been to Priestfield, or indeed any other game since 2002, so I wasn’t really sure what I’d think. But I couldn’t pass up the chance of seeing Morten Gamst Pedersen in my hometown, so I had to go :) Keira had never been to a game at all, but I think she enjoyed looking at Morten, who seemed to be over our side of the stadium all the time, which was nice. We were of course, typically girly fans with our “ooh isn’t he lovely? “ “hasn’t he got a nice smile?” “he’s got a lovely tan- typical colouring for a Sami...” I’m sure the man himself would have been honoured, had he realised he was in the presence of (probably) the only people outside of Norway to have played his song This Is For Real on their radio show :) Anyway, apart from Morten (and his goal that I missed), it was a good game. It’s always risky watching your (small) local team play a Premiership side, not least one who had their first team players there. I was at Stamford Bridge when Gillingham got thrashed 5-0 by Chelsea in an FA Cup game a few years ago, so I wasn’t expecting much. But it wasn’t all about Blackburn. The Gills certainly had their moments, and although they didn’t have all that many chances (and let in 3 pretty lame goals), they didn’t just give up and let Blackburn trounce them. Final score 1-3, but it could have been worse.

And then of course the next day, we went to Ostend...

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Bournemouth

Last Friday we went to Dorset.By "we",I mean myself and my mummy and daddy (it's OK,I never call them that in real life).Coincidentally,last weekend was also the Bournemouth Air Show- which isn't what we went there for,but it was a pretty good extra.

I've been to Bournemouth once before,2 years ago.Me and James decided to go Winchester one day because that's where King Arthur's Round Table is.We saw the Round Table and then realised there's actually nothing else to do in Winchester,so we ended up in Bournemouth.It was November,and therefore freezing and everything on the beach was shut.I'll never forget the tourist train that drove past us as we were eating chips fried in about 3 kilos of lard- I've never seen such miserable people.Anyway,this time around it was very nice.The sun was out all weekend,and about 250,000 people came to see the Air Show each day it was running.I have no pictures of the beach,but well,you've probably seen an English seaside before.Admittedly this one is super clean and tidy,but still- sand,pier,burnt people,you get the idea.

On the way into Bournemouth on Friday,we saw the Red Arrows above us in the car.Being a few miles away from the action is probably the best view you can get of an Air Show,much like I did from my office in Paris.But we wanted to see their whole routine,and so stayed in town to watch the entire show on Saturday,after a look around the town.At this point I have to mention that there is a crazy amount of very nice looking men in Bournemouth.Most of whom are Eastern European with lovely accents :)

My photography philosophy is to take as few pictures as possible (a necessity with the way my camera eats up batteries),but make them meaningful.A close-up of a detail of something is far more interesting to look at than a big panorama where you can't see anything in particular.This didn't quite happen on Saturday though.If you're interested,my pictures are (mostly) here.

I did feel like I was spending too much time taking photos and not actually watching the show,but when the Red Arrows were on,it became like a competition with my dad to see who could get the best shot.The speed also takes a bit of getting used to.My camera is quite old now and therefore a bit slow,which is a disadvantage when photographing 600mph aeroplanes.But this is probably my best,if you ignore the big pole and the windsock :)



Pas mal...

I liked my parachutists too.They jumped from a Chinook helicopter (literally the scariest looking thing ever invented) from 10,000 feet :/



Then there was the Eurofighter,which was at the Paris show earlier this year.By this time,I was so sunburnt and my head hurt so much,I thought my head might have exploded if I stayed to watch (and hear) this one,so I went back home.But my dad got a picture of it,which was pretty good.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Unfair?

So apparantly for Freshers Week this year,my university is having a "Neon Night" with a DJ set from Calvin Harris.Now I'm no great fan of the man,but all those years ago when we were Freshers,we had this man.And he didn't even bother to turn up anyway.Though that was probably a blessing in disguise.

Miscellaneous post #5

Haven't been all that busy lately,I've just found myself in one of those moods where I just can't be bothered to blog you know? There's been loads of stuff in the news and going on in my head that I am bursting to comment on a lot of the time,but I just have no motivation to do it.I'll start drafting a post and then realise after about 30,000 words that it's just ramble and isn't going anywhere.Much like this one.

I've been home doing nothing for 7 weeks now apart from having the occasional swim,and actually my head isn't feeling brilliant.People have been annoying me from near and afar for no real reason.I know other people's lives are none of my business,but still,sometimes you just can't help but get involved somehow.The weight loss is also going terribly despite my eating around half of what I was eating in France,so that's rather depressing.Also,I've been having insomnia bouts (or whatever sleeping disorder it really is) again.I'm constantly tired,and I mean constantly,until around 10pm when I'm completely awake and my mind becomes very active.Sometimes this is good- I've been writing again,working on my existing story,and a plan for another one- but it can also be negative.It's at nighttime when I start to think about things that are out of my control and I become paranoid.About everything.Think of the least likely thing that can happen and I'll be worried sick about it,and won't get to sleep til 4 or 5am.I've concluded that nighttime is my enemy and I'm a control freak of the highest order.

I really hope things will get better in the next few weeks,and definitely by the time I'm back in Guildford.Guildford is of course,one of the things I'm most worried about.Having been away from people for a year,things are not going to be the same,and I feel I'm going to be permanently frustrated with everything except work.Though at least I have two more friends on my course this year,I think that will help.

In the meantime,I've got lots going on.Yesterday I got back from Bournemouth,where we went to the Air Show and also Monkey World in Dorset.A million people went to the Air Show apparantly.It was really good,and it was also great to be near the sea again.My favourite places in the world are on the waterfront (Oslo,Kiel,Flensburg,Levallois),and I find it a very calming influence.Actually I did feel quite chilled out this weekend,despite having bloody bad back pain,sunburn and a headache that made me feel sick.But more about that later.

Tomorrow,Keira is coming to Kent and we're going to see Gillingham play Blackburn in the Carling Cup.It's been a good 8 years since I last went to a football match,but I couldn't miss the chance of seeing Blackburn down here.Especially as a certain Morten Gamst Pedersen might be playing :) :) :) On Wednesday we're going to Ostend for the day.Ostend is obviously on the coast,so I should like that.There's also the added bonus of Belgian men being extremely good looking,so I should like that too.Also have to fit in a trip to the Hop Farm with Shabana and Emma while the weather is still nice,and then,the week after next,myself and Keira are off to Scotland :) And then it's just another 3 weeks before I go back to Surrey...

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Вперед, время!

Last night on Sky Arts (I don't normally watch it),they were showing Russian propaganda films.I guess maybe some people could be a bit offended by that,but I find all this Soviet stuff fascinating.Ignoring the messages behind them,I think they are a great art form.Soviet propaganda was used for many years,but the style remains pretty consistent,and I think the pictures and films alike are strangely intoxicating.As Westerners who've never lived through Communism,we could find all the "love the motherland" a bit lame and easy to mock,but I think in the right circumstances,it would be easy to be taken in by it all.This film,Vperyod Vremya (March on,Time) was on telly last night and is based on poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky.Mayakovsky was by no means a fan of the Soviet Union,but the film itself is typical Soviet propaganda style.It's colourful and brash,has a very romantic feel about it,and is at the same time very sinister.



Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Heia Norge!

So happy about Norway's 4-0 defeat of Scotland.Not because I have anything against Scotland (indeed I've been watching a lot of BBC Alba these days- can't beat a bit of Tir Is Teanga with the lovely Colin :) ).But Morten scored twice AND the gorgeous Per Ciljan Skjelbred who I've been in love with for at least 4 years actually got to play for like 3 minutes and was responsible for the free kick that led to the last goal.

Here is one happy blogger :)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Telly

I never understood French telly.German telly was bearable because it was basically German remakes of British/American programmes,horribly interspersed with sudden bursts of loud chart music with the intention of making a humourous point at really obvious places,and adverts.This was the main reason why I didn't watch that much telly over there,all the advert breaks did my head in.But French prime-time telly is so formulaic that after approximately 26 minutes it gets terribly dull and you want to go to sleep.On TF1 especially,evening entertainment consists of two middle aged men in the same suit,in the same studio that's used every night,with probably the same audience too.From thereon,it doesn't matter what the programme's about,it's just boring on the eyes.There's also a lot of quiz shows and discussion programmes.My friend JB told me that Parisians like to have a philosophy for everything.And it shows.

So now I'm back here,I feel like I shouldn't complain about British telly again.There are some good things on at the minute,such as...

- Wallander (BBC4): I was in Germany when the British remakes came out,though I did see them eventually and thought they were great.Didn't see any of the original Swedish ones though,so am happy they're being shown again on Monday nights.Not normally a fan of anything televisual that involves police or detectives,but this is great.Wouldn't want to live in Ystad though.Seems every other person is a violent criminal :)

- Top Gear (BBC2): I can't drive,and I'm not interested in cars.But I am very interested in 3 silly men having silly races around Britain and Europe.I loved the rear wheel drive challenge in France this week,and wonder if I was the only one who noticed the strategically placed "adverts" on their cars,so that when they opened the drivers door,only half of it was shown.This half just happening to spell out something crude in nonsensical French.As moments in my career as a linguist go,this was one of my proudest...

- Mock the Week (BBC2): I don't find any of the regulars that funny when they're on their own,but as a team,there's not much on telly at the minute that's more amusing.My favourite from last week's "Unlikely labels on packaging"- "Serves 4,you greedy bastard.Now put some back".Hehe :)

- You Have Been Watching (C4): I adore Charlie Brooker.I discovered Screenwipe when I was in Germany,watched Newswipe religiously when I was in France,and have read just about everything he's ever written for the Guardian.He's so funny on his own,I wasn't sure how YHBW would turn out,but it's great.Now go away.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Fear not

I'm still here.Actually,I've just realised I only posted last Friday,but whatever.Been quite busy since I got back.Reading the Guardian,watching Sex and the City (just discovered the delights of Sky+.We've had it here for a few months now,but I've only just worked out where to find things that I've recorded) and original Swedish versions of Wallander.Went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince yesterday (called HP and the "mixed blood" prince in France,which sounds more politically correct than magical).It was good,one of the best I'd say,though I'm very interested to see how they work with the final book...Spent all day today round Leanne's.I used to work with her many moons ago and though we've spoken online very regularly indeed since I went to Germany,we haven't actually seen eachother for 3 years.So today was fun- all about the joys of 90s theme tunes,Ceefax,kebabs...Hmmm.

Also making progress with my story thing.It's been like picking at an open wound for parts of it really,but the ideas are now definitely all there in plan form.Just a shame that what I've written of the actual script (can you call books that?) is about as well written as this blog entry.Oh well.Am thinking of changing to a first person narrative anyway,it should be a bit easier.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Article of the day

From the BBC- Mark Easton's UK...

Is Italy better than Britain?


Of course it is!

:)

Though I'm not with Mark on the Limoncello front,may I just add to the list of great things about Italy...

- Noisette ice cream from Ravello
- Wooden jewellery boxes
- Ischitanian taxis
- Pretty boys
- Fab kids programmes
- REAL FOOD

I could go on...

Friday, 10 July 2009

Forget me

Leaving work today was actually much sadder than I expected.My office buddy was the first one to leave,and he said some really nice stuff to me.I'll miss having 45 minute long coffee breaks with him.But we'll stay in touch,he said he'd help me with my dissertation :)

Oh,and I got a kiss goodbye from RP's Popo replacement,the beautifully named François-Xavier.This made me super happy :) There's so much more I could say on the subject,but I won't.It's odd,last time I met someone so incredibly beautiful,I got talking to him straight away and we got on really well,and I moved to Germany,an hour away from where he lives,and then it all went wrong...But this time I've been too...I don't know,affected to say anything more exciting than Bonjour.Ah well.

Anyway.Maybe I will miss this place after all.A bit.If I could have stayed until the end of the month,I think I'd be satisfied.

Blah.Have nothing else to say really.Let's look at Aleksei.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Silly brand names #1459-1463

Readers of PVE and anyone who knows me will know that I love a good silly brand name- Fun Light,Cracky Crepe,Oh!Ouizz...And of course,the best of them all...



I can't believe they don't sell it anymore :( Mind you,it was pretty disgusting.

Anyway,the other day I got lost and ended up in the 10th.I've only been there once,and thought it was a bit of a dump,but they do have a good line in shop names there,notably:

- Boopsy
- Femy Boy
- Gary United


and my favourite of all

- Fanny Look

They were all clothes shops believe it or not.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Popo

You may remember me talking about RP from time to time over the last few months.Well,he's old news now,and has been completely overtaken in the hotness stakes by someone who arrived last week.Someone who, when I first saw him, left me actually unable to speak for about a minute. He came to ask me something and I just turned into a blabbering mess.This hasn't happened in a while.Well,10 months anyway.I remember getting flustered when the Office Popo in Germany came to install my spinning telephone holder thing.But this case would be slightly less tragic if this guy was a bit older.Normally men have to be a good 5 years older than me for me to be interested,but this one is actually (we think) a good 5 years younger than me :/ When you're nearly 23,this isn't good.I was dutifully told by my office buddy last week "you're too old for him." Hmm,that's what friends are for eh? But anyway,how can you not fancy the pants off of someone who looks like Aleksei Vorobyov? I think he knows it too,judging by his cheeky smiles and his many many daily walks past my office.Good Lord...it's just as well I leave in 2 days :)

Oh by the way,for those of you not in the know- "popo" is my friend Ioana's word for a very attractive man.Mine used to be "fefe",but popo has now become an everyday word in my language.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

I'm like Europe...I'm a mess

Just watched L'Auberge Espagnole.I've been watching a lot of French films lately- as much as the French way of life disagrees with me at times,I've loved French cinema since I was 11 and our teacher showed us Mon père ce héros in one of our lessons.I wanted to see L'Auberge when I found out that not only is Audrey Tautou in it (I love her so much),but Kevin Bishop too,of all people.

Turns out it's about a (rather attractive) Parisian guy who wants to work for the government/European Commission and so goes on a year abroad under the Erasmus scheme to Barcelona.He's my kind of character already.Even more so when he says that his dream as a kid was to write books (I mention this as there's a sequel to the film that I haven't seen yet,and I think it might be important...) Anyway,after meeting a guy at the airport who annoys him by telling him Erasmus is the best thing ever and he's going to have an amazing time in Spain (hmmm...),he ends up living in a typical student apartment with people from all over Europe.

The characters are all brilliant,well the housemates at least.They're all a bit stereotypical of their countries I suppose,although to be honest,I think they're quite accurate.The German guy is hard-working,bit serious etc etc,the Italian guy is the most laid back of them all,the Danish guy speaks a lot of languages (though he doesn't say much other than "I speak French...yeah,I lived in Paris for a while...).There's also an English girl,who's very funny- moans about the state of the kitchen a lot,doesn't like socialising that much...And Kevin Bishop plays her brother,who is probably the funniest of them all,offending everyone with his casual racism.Very Brit Abroad :)

Audrey Tautou plays Xavier (the main character's) girlfriend,who he leaves behind in Paris.I felt sympathetic towards her- her boyfriend going away and seemingly thinking after being in Spain for a few months that it's the centre of the world.Actually,although it is quite a good film in that it does show the "being abroad experience" realistically (getting into situations you shouldn't,neglecting people at home,being scared of going home),I did think it was a bit too...well,one-sided I suppose.By the end of it,it seemed Xavier hadn't really learnt much about where he comes from,and would rather live in the fake world of Erasmus forever.

But then there is a sequel (Russian Dolls),so I suppose I can't say too much yet.

One of the final scenes though is rather good,as it's shot in Montmartre,around the Place des Tertres,which is pretty cool.Not only because I recognise all the places,but also because of Xavier's reaction the foreign people there.Since leaving Germany,I listen out for the language all the time and always stop listening to my ipod on the metro when I hear it.There are also a lot of German cars here which never fails to make me happy.Especially the one from Hamburg that's parked outside my building a lot :)

Monday, 6 July 2009

4 days

I'm getting stressed now.I've packed pretty much everything I don't need,and the situation is looking promising- there's still room left in the case! But,I did find out this evening that I will have to drag said case down the stairs on Saturday,as my landlord won't be here so I can't access the lift.It's about one and a half times the size of the one I took home last time,and that was a massive pain (literally).Not looking forward to it.

Then I still have to buy him a new dictionary,as the one he lent me got stolen at work.They're a good €50 here :/ And then I have to make sure everything is lovely and clean for Wednesday/Thursday night so I can get my deposit back.Actually,I'd kind of forgotten about the deposit,so that was a nice surprise.

Also have to do a bit more shopping and try to get to Ile de la Jatte if I can.It's an island in the Seine which is part of Levallois,and it's very nice apparantly,so I'd like to see it if I have time.

On top of this I also have a 7 page translation to do and all sorts of crappy admin stuff at work.Aaaaagh.

No wonder I've got fat,it's stressful being me.

Had a rather odd conversation with someone today.Well not so much odd,but a bit unexpected.Seems maybe I am actually liked here after all.By one person at least.

In other news- it's nearly 1am and it's only 18 degrees.This is brilliant :)

Miss Raquelita remembers

When you come out of the station, there are some steps leading down to the taxi rank and the bus stop. On Saturday mornings at least, there aren't usually many buses to be found, or taxis either. The floor is cobbled, until you get to the park, which you can either walk through, or next to on the path running beside it. The first thing you see in the park is a fountain in the shape of a frog that spits water. It’s never on in Winter at least. There are also a series of wooden columns which have what appear to be tribal symbols carved into them and painted in blue and red. Though in winter when it’s misty and damp, the colours don’t stand out so much.

After the park, you cross the road in 2 halves. Once on the right, there are signs pointing to the college, and on the left, there is the post office depot. Walk past the depot and cross over, and there is a photocopying / printing shop which advertises special offers for students. Keep walking and go under the bridge. There’s a lot more traffic on the other side of the bridge, and you cross the road in 2 halves again. At around 11am on a Saturday, there’s usually a bus turning right to go under the bridge you just came under. Once you’ve crossed, you’re in front of the Culture House, where there are lots of adverts about upcoming shows and events. Carry on past the Culture House, and you’ll end up in a quiet residential area where there are a few parks, lots of cars and gorgeous apartment buildings. If not, cross the road in 2 halves again, and there’s a pharmacy on the corner called Linda.

Keep walking and you go past a haberdashers which has fancy wools in the window, and then there’s the kebab shop which also advertises special offers for students. Go right at the end of this road and you can either go in to the quieter entrance of the shopping centre, or there’s a small supermarket. Carry on further and there’s a main road to cross, and a bridge to go under where you end up climbing a hill to get to another residential area, and lots of nice restaurants.

However, if you go left after the kebab shop, there’s a hill and then a quaint little shopping street on the left with narrow alleys leading to closed-off (at one end) courtyards.

If you go straight ahead though, there’s a small square where there is a market on Saturdays, selling fish, cheese, vegetables… It’s full of interesting smells. At the top of the square is the most lovely little church with a big green door, and invariably, a man on a ladder in the entrance hall, on a ladder fixing something. It’s not the most fancy, decorative church in the world, but it’s peaceful, and when a choir is singing, the acoustics are great.

Carry on along the main street (a pedestrian zone where the pavement is all bright white and clean), past the square, and there is the main shopping centre, with a café as soon as you go inside. Avoid this place if you don’t like crowds. There are always lots of people here.

Walk past until you get to another little shopping centre, and turn right. Now you’re on the main road and see the main bus station. On the left there is an Etnies shop, which is never busy even though it’s pretty well priced. Keep walking along and you don’t know whether to look at the harbour, with its ships and restaurant in the white wooden building on the right, or the pretty wedding dresses in the shop on the left. The buildings in the harbour are colourful and Nordic style, with dark wooden beams. Though there are always lots of cars whizzing past, it’s a peaceful place, and it is nice to stop and sit and look at the cathedral on the other side of the water.

Go left up any one of the small side streets and after walking past more little colourful houses, you’ll end up back on the main shopping street. The end of the main street leads up a very steep hill to where the rum distillery is, and also a newsagents which sells really nice salami rolls on seeded bread for €1.

Back on the main street, and it’s quieter than at the station end. At one point, there are wires strung between buildings on both sides, and there are shoes hanging on them. Whose modern art this is, I don’t know. On the right you see the Danish library, a strangely shaped building. Further down and on the left, there is the old gate to the city, an archway above cobbled stones. Just after here, there is sometimes a small carousel.

Keep walking and you’ll be back where you started before you left the main shopping street.

I never had a Paris je t’aime moment. But I had a Flensburg ich liebe dich moment the first time I saw Holm. I’ve only been there 5 times, but it’s these images that have stuck in my mind the most clearly of anything I’ve seen since I’ve been away. Of everywhere I’ve been, it’s the one place I know that I think I could live and be happy in. But should I try and forget it now, or do I do something about it…?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Dimanche 5 juillet....Rien

In protest against the stupidly high temperatures we've been having lately,I decided to stay in and do nothing today.Well I did do a lot yesterday after all.Montmartre in the morning (well,early afternoon)- I really wasn't in the mood for going to Anvers and climbing up the hill and the steps being accosted by the bracelet sellers and a million tourists.So I went via Abbesses instead.Abbesses of course famous not just for being Amélie's nearest metro station,but also because it's the furthest underground and therefore has a stupid amount of steps.Actually,the main staircase has less than mine at home (139ish),but still,I thought I was going to die when I got to the top.After that I got the Montmartrobus to the Place de Tertres- that being the only place in Montmartre that I know my way around.The Montmartrobus is great fun- it's like the Amalfi Drive but without the coast.And the streets are all cobbled,but this doesn't bother the driver,he still goes as fast as a driver of a normal bus would.

Anyway,after that I came back to PdC for lunch and then got the bus to Musée d'Orsay.I'd been meaning to go since I got here,and me and Maria did try once but the queue was too long.Hardly any queue at all yesterday though,which was nice.Also nice is the fact that I didn't pay anything- only €1,50 for the See Italy and Die exhibition,which was pretty interesting.It was (mostly) about early photography and the first techniques used in the 1840s- a time when going around Europe (Italy in particular it seems) on a "Grand Tour" was all the rage for young men.A bit like a gap year,but they actually learnt about architecture and the likes too.So that was nice.Then there were all sorts of paintings and architecture plans.It was all a bit Venice-centric for my liking.There were a few pictures of Napoli and an amazing painting of the Blue Grotto in Capri,but nothing else of the islands.Ischia was written on the wall as part of a list of places one famous architect visited,but that was all,which was a bit disappointing.I mean,even the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has a picture of Ischia!Anyway,it was still good.You are actually allowed to take photos at the Musée d'Orsay,but I didn't realise that at the time.Which is a shame,because the Capri painting really was good.

The best part of all the things in the rest of the museum (of which there are not only paintings,but sculptures and furniture) was this.



Starry Night over the Rhone by Van Gogh.I'm not really a fan of Van Gogh,and though I've seen this painting before,I didn't think much of it.But in real life it's quite special.There are lots of other Van Gogh paintings there (including a few self-portraits),and lots of stuff by Cézanne and Monet,but this was my favourite.

Oh,and this is the view from the mezzanine



Which came out shittily (thanks phone!) but the blob in the distance is the Sacré-Coeur.

Today though,I just watched a bit of Le Tour (not on telly- despite being fine every other day,when I actually want to watch France 2,the picture goes haywire.Typical.Also got some pizza delivered- the guy thought it was funny that I went downstairs to collect it and said that steps don't bother him.Then watched Jean de Florette and (half of) Manon des Sources,two of the best French films ever,before getting a bit distracted by my neighbour.

In true Je voulais te dire que je t'attends,a very attractive man lives in the building opposite and I can see into his kitchen and he can see into my room.Now with all this hot weather we've been having (still no sign of rain),it's only natural for a man to want to go about his cooking business whilst half-naked.It was about this time (about an hour ago) that I thought it was probably a good time to do a bit of cleaning of my kitchen area,which is,coincidentally,right in front of the window.These two events are completely mutually exclusive of course.

In other news- I woke up this morning to find my lovely necklace from Flensburg has broken :( The heart is still intact but something happened to the chain meaning the bit you do it up with isn't attached to where it should be.I hope it can be fixed- it was the cheapest gold chain I could find in Flensburg Karstadt,but still,gold isn't that cheap.In the meantime though,I'm a bit worried.I've worn it every day for the 6/7 months I've had it,only taking it off 2 or 3 times.To start with,I wore it every day because of where it's from,but then it became like a lucky...thing.So now I'm convinced some disaster is going to happen :/

Planes

Just in case you're remotely interested in aeroplanes- I've just come across these videos of this year's Salon du Bourget- the Paris Air Show.

When you work in a very tall building- you get pretty good views of stuff that's going on in the air.It makes things seem closer than they really are,so it was pretty bloody scary when I saw this for the first time (and the second time).



And then there's this one- I watched this one every afternoon from my window.



Just...how can anyone do that? I wanted to be a pilot once.But the fact that my eyesight is probably worse than an old mole's,and the fact that I can't even ride a bike,made me think that I'd probably never be the sort of person capable of controlling something massive that carries hundreds of people :) But I really respect pilots.And ones like that- well...take-off on a normal plane still makes my tummy go funny.

And then there's this little bit of fun.It's called the Eurofighter,therefore it must be cool :)



And I got to see all of this for free.Which was nice :)

Friday, 3 July 2009

The moon is roond...

This is the view from my window this evening (if you look to the right that is)



Cool,non? That's the good thing about living in the attic of a building.OK it is only a phone picture,so it's not that great.But night mode has never really worked on my camera.Though you can see the cloud around the moon (got some cool pictures of that too),it's a pretty clear night.The blue light on the top of the Eiffel Tower passes over my flat about every 30 seconds,so I did try about 58 times to get that into the picture too.But seeing as my neighbours have already heard me making pigeon noises today,I thought they might think me a bit odd if they saw me at the window with a camera too.The pigeon thing worked by the way- it was right outside my window and it looked at me :) With a confused expression,I have to say.

I've only had 2 glasses of Bailly.Honest.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Websites I like that I haven't mentioned before

They're good,go and look at them.

In an unrelated note- I've also become quite a fan of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on Radio 4.I've kept away from Radio 4 comedy up until recently,thinking I really should set myself some limits when it comes to entertainment.But actually it's very funny- I spent dinnertime this evening chuckling over my noodles whilst listening to the Letters round.Down the Line is a great series too,but that's not on anymore.

Monday, 29 June 2009

In other news

My second day in my new office and it's still lonely and dark and boring.I was on my own most of the time in my old office,but my buddy was nextdoor then,and we used to wave to eachother through the little glass panel on the adjoining wall,and make "shall we go for coffee?" type gestures at around 11 and 3 o clock.That's tragic,I can't believe I just admitted that...Ha! Anyway,he's really loud too,which used to annoy me,but now I'm in my oversized,silent office,I kind of miss it.And then of course there's RP...Every department in every business should have an RP.

Got told off today (sort of) and made to feel very bad for not going in last Thursday when I got back from the UK.Yes,I could have phoned,but lacking a phone number and any battery power at all- this was a problem.And anyway I thought talking to one person (ie- your boss) about what was going on was enough.But no,it turns out I have to tell everyone of my plans.Hmph.I'm past caring now anyway.I go home next week after all.

On the plus side,I worked on my dissertation plan today,and I think it's going somewhere now.I wrote the introduction (approved by Keira) and I have quite a good list of sources.So that's good.And I have a 7 page translation to do,which could well be my last proper job here seeing as technical translations take me forever.

11 days seems like an eternity though.I even found myself counting down the hours this morning.278 to go...

Weird

So I signed out of MSN about 3 hours ago so I could read a bit and do some washing etc etc.I did read a bit but then I fell asleep and have only just woken up.That's not like me.And I had a dream where first I was staying at some relative's place that was haunted and got messages from another world come through their printer,then I was back in France witnessing people get beaten up by the police in my foyer whilst the neighbours watched from the balcony (a logistical impossibility),and when I tried to find out what was happening,I could only speak German.If anyone has any idea what any of that could possibly mean- please enlighten me.I'm thinking definitely lay off of cheese after 6pm :)

EDIT: So apparantly all these things combined basically mean that I'm feeling guilty about something that's happened in the past and I feel inadequate.Nice.Remind me not to go to sleep again.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Blah

Not much going on here this weekend- it's still too hot to move.Well,Friday was Maria and Sophie's last day in Paris (sort of),so we went to the Forum des Halles (where else?) and then for cocktails and dinner afterwards.Oh,and Sophie brought us chocolate cake all the way from Boulogne-Billancourt.It was a fun evening- I'm almost surprised how well we've all got on,seeing as we've known eachother for 3 years and hardly spoken to eachother.But that's the nature of linguists.So now I'm on my own for the next 2 weeks.This was something I loved when I was in Germany but suddenly 12 days seems like forever now I'll have no company.It'll be especially strange at work,having no one to bitch with and go on 40 minute breaks with and getting no phonecall at 12.15 to tell me it's lunchtime.But never mind.I'll see them both again in 3 months time :)

Yesterday I had a failed shopping mission.It's Sales Month in France (legally,there are only 2 sales a year- though shops are being given extra days this year on account of the recession).I went to Carrousel du Louvre,Forum des Halles,St Michel...And still only bought one top that doesn't even fit very well.Hmph.

Today I attempted to go to the pictures at Forum des Halles.Somehow I felt like I wanted to see The Hangover- partly because I've read good reviews of it,but mostly because there's nothing else on.But as it's too hot for the metro,I got the bus,which dropped me off at "Chatelet",seemingly 25 miles away from FdH.So once I'd got there and buggered about with the ticket machines,it was too late anyway.In the end I just went to the park in front of St Eustache Church and did some writing.So not a completely wasted day.

Oh,and that mosquito the other night.Of all the ever increasing acres of flesh that it could have bit me on- it chose my little finger.I've never been bitten on the finger before- now it's all swollen and I can't move it very well.Lovely.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Medway's in the news!

So today was the first Armed Forces Day in the UK,with hundreds of different events going on up and down the country.I heard about it briefly last week when I was home,but it was only just now that I went on the BBC site and found out that the main centre/Host "City" of it all this year was Chatham.My hometown!Very exciting...

We do of course have one of the most (if not the most important) dockyards in the country- Navy ships were built there for over 400 years,including Nelson's HMS Victory used at the Battle of Trafalgar.It's also (allegedly) where the Union Jack was designed,and was the meeting place for King Christian IV of Denmark's visit in erm,1606.Oh,and if that isn't cool enough- Barack Obama's desk was made there too.

The dockyard was closed in 1984,causing massive unemployment all over Medway.A lot of people (probably rightly) say that that's also the reason for the town/city/whatever they call it these days being in the state that it is today.

So before you go writing the place off as some anonymous,generic,good for nothing South Eastern chav town- it may be a dump now,but it was once a pretty big deal.Mkay?

Friday, 26 June 2009

And now for the weather

Having another sticky heatwave thing here in Paris at the minute.It's nearly 11pm and it's still 21 degrees :/ Last night we had 2 thunderstorms,each going on for ages.The first one had the decency to occur well before I went to bed,but the second started about 1ish and went on for at least an hour.I've never heard thunder so loud,it was actually a bit scary.And my curtains are completely inadequate,so the lightning made me jump too.Having got up early yesterday to get the Eurostar,and my nap attempt thwarted by noisy workmen,this didn't please me.I ended up with ear plugs in and a scarf wrapped around my head to try and recreate normal sleeping conditions.

Now it's stuffy again and there's a mosquito buzzing around my head.I heard once that mosquitos are attracted especially to people with Mediterranean blood.I don't know whether that's true or not,but I certainly get my fair share of bites.This little bugger seems to really like me...

Anyway,speaking of weather,this made me laugh.Bless him.We had an incident a bit like that on SoE once,though we were so smooth,it's actually pretty hard to notice when you listen to it now.

I just swore at the mosquito.I think it's actually gone...

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

iTunes

I'm a bit of a statistics geek,as you probably know,from all my talk about Sitemeter and the likes.Well now I have a new computer,and don't really know how to transfer iTunes properly,I've had to transfer each song individually from my old computer,leaving behind my Top 25 Played List.So,here it is,recorded for posterity- whatever that means...

25: Bit' Mozhet- Dima and Georgiy Koldun (86 plays)
24: That's The Way My Heart Goes- Marie Serneholt (87)
24: Ya Tebya Pomnyu- Dima Bilan (87)
24: Everything- Anna Vissi (87)
21: Black and Blue- Charlotte Perrelli (91)
20: A Little Too Perfect- Aleksander With (92)
19: Je Voulais te Dire que Je t'Attends- Jonatan Cerrada (93)
18: Ya Ne Umru Bez Tvoi Lyubvi- Chelsi (96)
17: Tornerò- Mihai Traistariu (100)
17: Hero- Charlotte Perrelli (100)
15: My Mistake- Måns Zelmerlöw (102)
14: Plan B- Anžej Dežan (103)
13: Dai Mne Silu- Dima Koldun (108)
12: Krugavarot- Prohor Shalyapin (110)
11: How About- Aleksander With (118)
10: Samaya Lyubimaya- Chelsi (121)
9: Work Your Magic- Dima Koldun (127)
8: Bistra Voda- Regina (130)
7: Ty Dolzhna- Dima Bilan (136)
6: Do You Believe- Litesound (142)
5: Someday- Hera Bjork (171)
4: Ya Shagayu Po Moskve- Chelsi (175)
3: La Voix- Malena Ernman (224)
2: Cara Mia- Måns Zelmerlöw (249)

And what could possibly be number 1....?

Anžej of course!

Vroče (290)



And now to start all over again...