Monday, October 20, 2008

A First Class adventure

Two lovely friends of mine tied the knot this weekend in a beautiful setting, in Boston, USA. Audrey and Chris met at Camp Lakota in Wurtsboro, in New York state, which is where I also met them both. Along with around 100 others, we were counselors (obligatory single "l" as we are talking about the USA here) on a summer camp which lasted two months. The friendships we made during the camp have lasted seven years and counting, and Audrey and Chris are two of the most genuine, kind and loving people I have ever met.

The whole experience for me was a real adventure. To begin with, I was flying standby from Paris (a buddy pass courtesy of another great friend) and I had to take a connecting flight in Cincinatti on the way, and in Atlanta on the way home. None of these flights would be guaranteed for me, but I would get an above average shot of being put in Business Class.

As luck would have it, I was put in BC from Paris to Cincinatti, which was really a fantastic experience. The seats reclined to 160°, there was free-flowing champagne (that I didn't sample until the way home actually), and food of better quality than some restaurants. I was clearly travelling business class for the first time (my yelps of pleasure on finding free toothpaste in my little flight gift bag were pretty telling), but I didn't care, I was comfortable and relaxed, and the seat was mine all the way to Cincinatti.

On the next flight, it was totally full and I wondered if I was going to get on. Luckily I got the very last seat, on the back row next to the toilet and a rather silent old lady.

I'd like to say that I arrived in Boston as fresh as a daisy, having slept in my luxurious business class seat, but even though I enjoyed every minute of the flight, (minus a few bumps during turbulence) I still didn't manage to sleep at all, and arrived with grey circles under my eyes and my hair in a cloud of frizz.

I do recommend business class though. And do you know, you don't get your food served on a plastic tray?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

All is safely gathered in

It's the harvest in Chablis at the moment, and all is safely gathered in, as the song would have it. Much like a Playtex cross-your-heart bra.

I was there for some of last week and the weekend, and it was quite fascinating to watch it all happen. There are three enormous machines to press the grapes as they come in, and these machines (pneumatic pressure - no feet unfortunately) are used on just 8 days each year. They must take up the space of a small two-bedroom terraced house, but are really only useful for 1/52nd of the year. Amazing really, but without them we'd all have been pulling off our shoes and socks and contaminating the year's vintage with skin particles and the odd fungal infection.

Work-wise things are shimmying along wonderfully, I'm busier than ever with my translation/ interpreting business and aside from a rather hair-raising interpreting job that was way out of my league, I've been bumbling on quite well. It's a bit frustrating to know that the tax man is going to cream off a rather large slice of it all pretty soon, but that's France, and things could be worse than guaranteed health care, cheap public transport and free professional training.

It's pouring down now for the first time in weeks, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the harvest, just over 100 miles away. Rainwater in wine is apparently even worse than the odd athlete's foot breakout...