Thursday, March 29, 2007


Family visits, management meetings, a Sinclair concert, opening up a new office and six hours of concert.... I'm still here but just about finding time to tell G to do the washing up, not even doing it myself.
It's 11.30pm now, I'm kneeling in front of my computer because I can't even muster the energy to get the chair, and I'm longing for my bed.
I sense that's all you're getting out of me for now.
More soon, I promise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Daily Grind

After that post about the gorgeous weather in Paris, temperatures have now dropped to zero. I've got out my winter coat and had gloves on today for the first time in weeks. Global warming certainly is temperamental.

My exam wasn't too bad, the two tests into English - written and oral - were both pretty good, but the ones into French, as always were not quite so much of a pique-nique. At least it was just the mock and I came away pretty much certain that I have to do a lot more practice for the interpreting part of the certificate. I sense the next time G is in England, (or even perhaps this weekend when my cousin and his wife come to visit), I'll have to get him to speak French to a poor unsuspecting member of my family so that I can interpret as practice for the exam.

Apart from that my life is very full of work at the moment, and I can no longer justify staying late as being because it's the beginning of the year. In training, the lists of people for the programmes come in during January and February, and so the beginning of the year is always harder work than other months - lots of administration and explaining the same thing to seven people a day. So what's my excuse for staying until 8pm this evening? I don't honestly know. Probably because I'm a disorganised airhead who, thanks to modern technology, can't concentrate on anything for longer than 3 minutes. I heard the other day that if a website doesn't load up within 4 seconds, users close the page and rarely go back to it, so in marketing one of the key points for Customer Relations Management is getting your website to match the attention span of spoon-fed web users.

I managed to slip into my schedule the season 3 finale of 24, so I've had my fix of Jack Bauer now for the next few weeks. I'm meeting a friend for drinks tomorrow, then dinner with a family friend who is visiting Paris, meetings on Thursday and then visiting cousins on Friday. I'm very much looking forward to this weekend. I love being a tourist again and being able to rediscover Paris. Hopefully after the weekend I'll be able to write about Paris instead of exams and tv shows. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Paris when it sizzles

I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles... except that it's mid-March and we haven't had the part when March comes in like a lion, it's already going out like a lamb, and a sweet warm kind little lamb at that...

Paris has been bathed in sunshine for the last 7 days, without a cloud in the sky as far as you can see. On Saturday and Sunday we were able to get out and enjoy it, but during the week obviously the best hours of the day are spent under artificial lights, not sunlight.

It has been gorgeous weather and it's set to continue for the next few days. I know global warming is a serious worldwide threat, but the nice spring sunshine is difficult to begrudge. G's friends are all skiing, he can't go as he has just quit his job and holidays aren't part of the deal. So there is a little tainted tone to the beautiful weather, it may be beautiful in Paris but in Avoriaz it's absolutely spectacular.

Mr Backpack is still trekking across East Africa, and I'm sure he hasn't seen any snow for a while. He's just arrived in Ethopia, read his tales of adventure for some real escapism (in French).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Back to school

Clearly my dreams of faraway places were short-lived, in the last week I've been nose to the grindstone and had no time for anything except work and rehearsals.

On Friday next week I'm taking the first exam I've had since my degree, nearly ten years ago, and I'm pretty much dreading it. It's a mock exam for my translation course that I started in September. The course has been going well, although I am finding it quite hard to get the assignments in on time. I have two translations (writing) or interpreting (speaking) exercises to do per week, and mostly I spend my Sunday mornings worrying about them and my Sunday afternoons doing them instead of relaxing. This week was an exception because at work I invigilated an English test and had a block of two hours of silence to fill, so I managed to get the draught done then and typed up the rest this morning.

So, on Friday I have to go to the University of London in Paris and sit four exams, two written, two spoken (recorded on tape) and see how well I might do in the real thing which will happen in June. I am really nervous, despite the fact that it's a mock exam. At university I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could and worry about exams later. I don't seem to have changed much, although having a job is more of a motivation. In my professional life I always try to prepare as much as possible for meetings or difficult appointments, whereas academically I've always tried to get through on luck and intelligent choices. I'm not sure how well that's going to work this time and I think I may get a nasty surprise if I don't cram in a few hours of preparation this week.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Faraway Places

I know it has only been a few weeks since I returned from Cuba, but so much seems to be happening to other people at the moment that I'm feeling the urge to travel.

Lola, as she is known on her blog, is of course in Hong Kong living an adventure every week and recounting tales of Asian delights which spice up her busy job.

L has a friend who has just taken off for an eight-month blockbuster of a holiday, visiting Pakistan, Iran, China, Thailand, Dubai, Cambodia, Laos and India, among other places. At the moment he's in the Sudan experiencing life among the world's underprivileged.

He set off from Paris a few weeks ago, leaving behind a sought-after 6e arrondissement apartment, a fantastic job in telecommunications and what can only be described as a luxury lifestyle. When I first heard about his trip, and not really knowing the man, I thought he was absolutely crazy. Thailand, Dubai or Cambodia I can understand, but Pakistan? Iran? Sudan? Why?! Of course I understand the reasons why people want to discover new worlds and new people, and I respect that, but the danger of these countries was the first thing to spring to mind.

Now, after reading his posts and seeing how passionate he is about discovering new people, new countries and new places, I can totally understand his need to do his journey of a lifetime. As a woman, I think my view on travel is shaded with worry about being vulnerable in far-off countries where women may not be as safe as they are in Europe. But maybe that's a myth. Along his way, he has met a girl of 23 travelling alone and a retired Austrian woman making her way across the world without taking a plane.

I then read Petite Anglaise's account of her solo trip to Marrakech, and found myself thinking that I would probably have reacted in much the same way, although I think I would have been aware of the intimidating atmosphere before going.

All this talk of travel is giving me itchy feet and I'm thinking of a January trip to Hong Kong with G. We're considering spending a few days in Hong Kong then a week or two in Thailand afterwards, discovering the country and then spending a few days on the beach or doing SCUBA diving. It's a long way away, so no reservations are made yet, but my thoughts at the moment are drifting all around the world.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Prodigal Phone

My phone has returned and I've celebrated by changing the screen and ringtone into something a little more interesting. Still discreet, though, no Nokia music.

We had rather an unfortunate fridge incident this morning, in that it stopped working. All the electricity went off and after several minutes of fumbling around with the fuse board, G found the appliance which was causing the problem.

So now we have to eat everything in the freezer and the fridge and work out what we're going to do for cold food from now on.

I think a trip to Darty is on the cards for this weekend.