Saturday, 30 May 2009

Are they taking their clothes off now?*

There are a lot of things to see and do in Paris.But when it's hot and you know there'll be annoying tourists everywhere,the only thing to do is to go and sit and a park and do nothing.Because you can do that here and not be verbally abused by a load of chavs.Really.Even in St Denis.

I fancied going to the Luxembourg Gardens today,but Sophie said the Jardin des Halles would be better because it's on top of a shopping centre so we wouldn't have to move far to get supplies.It's not the prettiest park in Paris,and they still haven't put the fountains on yet,but whatever.So after spending far too much on sun cream,we found a nice place where there weren't too many pigeons,and we did nothing.Until we got hungry,then we went to the Forum des Halles and bought lunch.Monoprix on level -2 of the FdH is very special indeed,because not only is it the only place in Europe (probably) that sells 25g packets of crisps,it sells British ones.Made in Herefordshire.With English words on the packets.These ones in fact.

So we had those.

Then we did nothing again.

A lot of pop musical noise started happening around 5ish.As the Jardin is in front of a cathedral,we thought this was a bit weird and that maybe they're going for a new,modern kind of Mass here these days.But it turned out to be some passing communists trying to get people to vote for them in the European elections next Monday.Surprise surprise.Communists are everywhere over here.Apparantly they run St Denis and other parts of Île-de-France (many a time have I been accosted by a canvassing communist on my lunchbreak),and they seem to be in Levallois quite often too.A few years ago when I was a bit Communist myself,I would have found this really exciting,now I just find it quite quaint that they actually make an effort in talking to people.Can't say I've seen any political groups doing anything like that anywhere at home.Although I did see Ann Widdecombe in Rochester about 2 years ago.That experience went something like this:

Emma- Is that Ann Widdecombe over there?
Me and Shabana- Oh yeah...

(Then we went into the fudge shop)

Anyway.After finding out the music wasn't a new and funky Mass,we walked down Rue Montorgueil (*sings "Down by the Sentier"*) in search of a drink.There were loads of people out today and Rue M looks rather Italian in summer,which is nice.Walked past a group of about 10 people wearing various odd costumes (a lot of cow print going on) and singing something in what I think was meant to be English.France hasn't got Talent.And after that we ended up in a bar and had Mojitos and Piña coladas,and I got a bit squiffy and thought it best to come home.But we're doing it all again tomorrow :) Although my face is burnt and my neck is a bit on the warm side,the all important "take your ring off" test shows that somehow,the rest of me didn't get brown.And in an office full of nicely coloured people,I feel pasty,so need to try harder.

*In the bar,they were showing rugby- Perpignan v Stade Français.Stade Français of course being not only my local team,but also the ones who like to get naked in the name of calendar making.They lost by the way.


So the headline on VG now (10 minutes after the BGT final) is- Susan Boyle Didn't Win.Seriously,headline news in Norway? I don't know if that says more about British or Norwegian telly really.Oh by the way,glad Diversity won- I watched them on youtube for the first time this morning and thought they were pretty special.I love the way they literally throw the kids around! But I don't believe the choreographer is a physicist- physicists just don't dance like that :)

Oh,and it's also quite refreshing to see a group of seemingly nice people win a British reality competition,none of whom have a well publicised "sad story" to try and influence votes.

Friday, 29 May 2009

I missed my train and lost my job

I saw this song on Poster Girl's blog and I love it so much.As comfortingly boring as I find the parts of Denmark that I've been to,the Danes certainly know how to make good music.Thomas has a lovely voice,and there are some rather funny lines in this song.Oh,and for some reason I love the line at around 3.15 that sounds a bit longer than it should be.And extra bonus points for mentioning the Danske Statsbaner and the name Karsten (510).Apt,as I met about 510 Karstens in Germany.

Also,I've probably mentioned before that Schleswig-Holsteiners like to mock their neighbours for not pronouncing any of the letters in the middle of the words.See for yourself,here's the first verse of Nitten:

Jeg har trukket nitten
Jeg har jokket i en lort
Samlet den op og bidt i den
Og det nitten
Og når jeg prøver på at give den videre
Til en anden idiot
Får jeg den lige i hovedet igen


Despite having contingency plans for when my internet connection decides to play silly buggers (as I write this,it's just gone off again)- this evening was so nice,I thought I'd go back to Pont de Levallois.Also,I really need the exercise.

Anyway,I got the metro 3 stops to Pont de Levallois and this time walked right along the Seine.Which was a bit scary in places because the path gets quite narrow and there's always a jogger pretty close behind.So if the jogger makes you jump- you're done for.But anyway.I walked all the way to Neuilly (which isn't actually that far),then back to Levallois where I sat on a bench for about 45 minutes just listening to the ipod and chilling.By this time the sun was setting- oh,I am pleased to announce that I have tan marks now :)

I took some pictures,but they came out a bit crap,and anyway,nothing will beat my Flensburg sunset picture...


But I liked this one,a close up of the Seine...

When you see the Seine in postcard pictures,it all looks rather...well,industrial almost.But to walk along it in the suburbs,there's more of a Mediterranean/Adriatic feel to it I think.It's nice.I feel happier around water.The Kieler Fjord,the Flensburg Fjord,Eckernförde's relaxing.And what with all the joggers and people having picnics and generally just minding their own business,it made quite a change from Central Paris.I need to do it more often.

Monday, 25 May 2009

In which Raquelita has melted

So I'm back in l'Hexagone and am thoroughly miserable because it's currently about 3 degrees hotter than Hell.Hardly slept last night thanks to the weight of wet towels and the stickiness.Apparantly humidity is 62%,but that's clearly a lie.It's obviously at least 120%.Alright,so it's not that bad outside.Actually it's quite nice.29 degrees today with loads of breeze AND my arms are going brown.The metro wasn't even that bad today either.Not as busy as it normally is and it didn't even smell as much as normal.But in my 8 square metre piece of real estate,weather rules don't apply,and it's hot.Really bloody hot.It's like Croatia 2003 all over again just without the Italian neighbours,Bernd das Brot on telly and nice waiters called Marko.

There are meant to be storms this evening so everyone's been telling me,but there aren't even any clouds in the sky at the minute.Hmph.

Another strike tomorrow.That should be fun.I ain't planning on getting up early to get to work on time though.No chance.There was hardly anyone there today which was rather boring.Still,I got the chance to read through some European Council Presidency Conclusions from March 07,which made me wonder if there actually could be something in my dissertation idea that's worth writing about.And I had a pretty decent chicken tikka massala from Monoprix.And I'm going to see Confessions of a Shopaholic on Wednesday.So it's not all bad.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Untitleable post #4

After the longest train trip ever last night,I'm back in the UK for 9 days of doing not very much seeing as we don't really have telly and there's no one around to visit.Anyway.Yesterday,I spoke more French than I've ever spoken,having had lunch with my new friend (and finding out we have so much in common,it's a bit scary),and then the train trip in which I met a guy called Guillaume who erm...really likes a chat shall we say.He was pleasant.Very pleasant actually.Bought me a Tropicana (I felt champagne was a bit much for a first meeting),and told me that wanting to sing at Eurovision is just as valid an ambition as anything,and that I should go for it.Which reminds me- yesterday I also spoke to one of the Serbian guys at work,who- it transpires- is actually from Bosnia.Needless to say,Regina were discussed,and he said he hoped to be back in Belgrade in time to watch this evening.Amen to that.

Today I acquired new hair.It's now blonde,in places.I think I look like a badger,but the consensus is that it's quite nice.I also bought a new Regina-style jacket.Which probably isn't Regina-style at all but it looked a bit military so I thought I had to have it.Speaking of Regina,although I live just up the road from the Bosnian embassy in Paris,I failed to steal the flag from the outside so I could run up and down Chatham waving it vigorously and shouting "Vote BiH" (how do you even pronounce BiH anyway?),so I had to make do with humming along to Bistra Voda on my ipod on the way back from the hairdressers,and hope that was enough to inspire passers-by to vote.Any promotion is good promotion,right?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Quote and film of the day*

*though not from the same source

"I'm anti-ketchup.And anti-mayo."

I have a new (temporary) buddy at work.She's so funny,particularly because she doesn't realise it.

Me and Maria went to see Angels and Demons this evening.Is it out in the UK yet?I expect so...Anyway,it was the day of release over here,and also the first day of UGC Week,meaning tickets were €3 compared to €10,70 normally.Bargain.Didn't think we'd ever make it,due to the torrential rain that happened 20 minutes before the film started,leaving us both stranded at opposite ends of the Champs Elysees,but we did.And got good seats too.

The trailer is here in case you haven't seen it.First time I've seen it actually.I've always prefered the book to the Da Vinci Code,so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed by the film.But it's really rather good indeed,I'd definitely recommend it.Apart from the basic premise which is summed up in the trailer (so I'm not giving anything away)- Illuminati take the 4 Preferiti hostage and threaten to kill them all in rather grotesque but symbolic ways before blowing up the Vatican using science- I'd forgotten nearly everything that happens in the book,so it was all a bit of a surprise for me.Maria said a lot of things had been changed,but it all worked out really.

It's all very fast paced,a bit faster than I thought it would be.But saying that it isn't all non-stop action that leaves you feeling tired.And there isn't too much talking and explanation that makes it difficult to follow.Which can't really be said for the Da Vinci Code I don't think.

Was also a nice surprise to find that Ewan McGregor plays an important character- the camerlengo.I had no idea he was in it,but he is brilliant in it.A very interesting character indeed.My other favourite was Lieutenant Chartrand (Danish actor Thure Lindhardt),the Swiss guy who supervises Langdon in the archives.He doesn't play a major part in the story but he does have some comedic moments.Hanks is great too,obviously.And although she wasn't involved as much as I expected,Ayelet Zurer makes a good Vittoria Vetra.I love how she can run around Rome looking glamorous in high heels despite being under a lot of pressure to save the Vatican.As well as giving out doses of Italian attitude when necessary.Oh,and although he's the enemy,I kinda liked the assassin (another Danish actor- Nikolaj Lie Kaas).Not so much a likeable character,but a very well played one.I'm sure I've seen Kaas in something before,but I've forgotten what,and it's bothering me...

One scene is particularly moving and did make me cry a little bit :/ But then the twist comes and you're left not really knowing what to think.I guess it's probably obvious what you should think,but for me all of the characters were so strong,it's hard to change your opinion of them very easily.

Oh,the shot of Sephora which you can see in the trailer pleased me and Maria.It's our favourite shop here after all.Which meant we just had to visit the one on the Champs Elysees after the film.And also,one of the main characters is called Cardinal Ebner,which made me smile when I saw it in the subtitles.Of all the names you could choose for a German cardinal,they chose Davor from Regina's surname.It's a sign for Saturday!

So,I conclude- go and watch it.It's great.

Friday, 8 May 2009

It's all about BiH

Today's Europe Village wasn't quite as exciting as I'd hoped.Although there were EU flags everywhere,which was just lovely- flying from the Hôtel de Ville,being handed out to kids,even attatched to some carousel horses.It was great :)

The stalls set up in the square made me all nostalgic for Germany again,as on many an occasion I'd manned similar stalls at various events giving out the same EU balloons,shopping bags and all sorts of flyers and things.So it was cool to be on the other side.I collected loads of stuff- my favourite being a little notepad from the Czech Presidency stall.And a very nice lady said she'd post me some documents about the French Council Presidency,which should help with my dissertation.So that's nice.

Then I went to the Culture stall where a man and a woman decided I should take part in their quiz (I used to help with those in Germany too)...My question was "name 2 football teams from Belgrade".Well,Red Star,obviously.But I couldn't remember the other one,so the woman quickly enlisted a French-Chinese man to help me.But he couldn't.The woman was rather excited about it all though,and tried to give me a clue by marching on the spot and pretending to carry a big flag.But that just made me think of the Bistra Voda video.Anyway,turns out the answer was Partisan Belgrade (the guy took pity on me in the end) and I won a book.Well it's actually a play.A Bosnian one too- fitting,given my new obsession with Regina and everything.Even has a Bosnian pronunciation guide in the back,despite being a French translation.I'm sure it'll make me look very cultured when I read it on the metro.Which let's be honest,is the only reason anyone reads anything on the Parisian metro.Bit confused about one thing though- Bosnia isn't even in the EU.

There's so much stuff going on tomorrow,I really don't know where to start.I do want to see at least one of the debates at the Europe Village.The climate policy one today would have been really useful for me,but just before it started,the sky went black and it got really cold.And I wasn't appropriately dressed.So I came home.By which time it was tropically sunny again.Grr.But anyway- tomorrow there will be more debates,a giant table-football tournament and live music at the Champs de Mars at which the France 2 TV channel will be present,the film festival at Les Halles,a bit of theatre at the Gare du Nord,music at St Lazare and a release of balloons along with a speech from the Secretary of State for European Affairs.It's so tough being a hardcore Europhile :)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Yahoo story of the day

World's oldest dog turns 147

The world's oldest dog has reached 147 in dog years and earned a Guinness certificate.

Is it just me,or would that be a bit more impressive/interesting if the dog was 147 in human years?

Oh,and by the way...

I linked to it on my well,links list,but never mentioned it.Anglais Chez Vous is a site run by a friend of mine and has a bilingual forum for questions about the English and French languages.There's also a blog about the joys of being a linguist,which is quite amusing :)

You never thought you were the one for me

Up here in the attic that seems to have its own weather system (permanently hot,sticky and generally nasty),we have communal "bathrooms".Out I come earlier,wearing a long blue top,tiny tiny zebra print shorts that are not in the least bit flattering to my manly legs,pink socks with hippos on and black lacy shoes.My legs are...stubbly.When your hair is black this is not good.I have what looks like cheesewire indentations on my calves from my pop socks,and a massive mosquito bite on my right leg*.God decides that this is an opportune time for me to bump into one of my neighbours.And not even one that I already know.FAIL.

At least I didn't fancy him.

Today it's been really really sunny.And far too hot.Felt a bit rubbish this morning (too much thinking about going back to Guildford),but soon cheered up after a motivational chat with my office best buddy who told me he felt the same at my age,and that I should do some sport.I'm not quite sure he understood the problem,but there you go :) Then we had lunch in the erm,"garden" (all the best gardens are 99% concrete),chatted about tax,Germany,weather stations,fish and "racaille",before going back to the office and having a laugh at a certain African head of state.Like you do.

Tomorrow it's another bank holiday (VE Day),and I'm off to the European Village which has been set up near the Hôtel de Ville.Saturday is of course Europe Day,and there are events to celebrate it all weekend.It's really nice being somewhere where people know what Europe Day is.Though I still find it amusing and comforting when I mention anything to do with the European Union to my office friend and always get a "God,you don't like that,do you?" reaction.Reminds me of home :)

Oh yes,and here's my favourite song of the moment.It's so UK radio-friendly,which is always something I like in Europop songs.

Christophe is all over the French TV magazines this week,which may or may not be completely related to the fact that his second album Caféine is released on May 25th.That's the day I come back after my week in the UK,which is just as well,as Christophe is coming to the Champs-Élysées branch of Fnac that day :)

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Picture of the week:

I'm not sure if it's the smiley whale or the fact that particular form of the C word is my adjective of choice to describe everything from computers to people on telly these days,but I just thought that picture was perfect :)

I still think that my not going to Germany is the best decision.Yes I've lost €130 in the process,but hey ho.Would have been a lot more if I'd gone.As things go,I could have done worse.And just like my never paying for buses in Kiel paid back the money I'd lazily spent on taxis there,this can easily be recouped through less steak in the canteen and actually bothering to cash in my Navigo receipts at HR.Sorted.

And the lovely French government's new scheme of making practically everything to do in Paris either free or dirt cheap for people under 26 also helps too.

My point is I think I should forget about Germany for a while.Schleswig-Holstein will always be there.I need to think more about France and enjoy it more.In my way that is.You know what that means by now- not meeting 12,000 new people every night and taking 459867 pictures of things no one's really interested in*- just simple stuff like not being stuck to my ipod all day every day and actually listening to things that are happening,going on aimless trips around the metro with the only point being to observe what's going on,and seeking out silly brand names in supermarkets.Because that ,peeps,is my idea of fun.And travel.Even if it does make me sound like some c***y travel writer :)

*that being said- if you are interested in flowers and stuff,here's some of my pictures I took this weekend.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Ihre Buchung wurde gestrichen

I've been thinking and thinking,and have decided that it's best not to go to Germany next week after all.I miss it and all but for many reasons it's better to stay here I think.The time just wasn't right.

And anyway,next Saturday is Europe Day,and there's lots of things that I don't want to miss going on in Paris to celebrate it.

1er mai is a bank holiday here as you may or may not know.And a bloody nice day it's been too.I haven't done much- went to the Jardin du Luxembourg for a while,then to Canal St Martin (looks much better in the JC video than in real life),and then to Montmartre where I got thoroughly annoyed by a massive never-ending group of Latvian tourists.People all over the place were selling muguets (lily of the valley) as is custom here on 1er mai- some of them were very nice indeed,in cute vases.I thought I'd get one closer to home as I didn't fancy carting it around Paris all afternoon,but by the time I got back to PdC,our local guy only had roses left.And that's not very traditional.In case you're interested,the tradition started in 1561 when Charles IX thought it would be nice to give muguets to all the ladies of his court.So every 1er mai for the last century or so,the government have let anyone who wants to sell them do just that,tax free.

Of course the main point of 1er mai in France is that it's the worker's holiday.But France being France,they're encouraged to use their day off by protesting with their unions.France isn't the only country to do this however.And it seems that (so far at least),the Parisian protests are peaceful and controlled (for once),unlike in Istanbul,Berlin and Hamburg where things have got a bit violent :/

Oh,and I got asked out again today.At Châtelet metro station on a moving walkway to line 11.I didn't fancy him though.Not least because despite being 30+,he got his friend to do it for him.How very un-French.