Monday, October 29, 2007

A good weekend

A stellar weekend all round to report, I must say. It started out with a few too many drinks on Friday night, many of them unfortunately in the company of work senior types but there you go. More fun had when we relocated to a club with the young uns in tow where I couldn't embarrass myself too badly and proceeded to dance the night away until c. 4 in the morning.

The next day it was up not too bright and early and out for a savoury crepe lunch - most delicious and nothing like the crepes we know and love in the Anglo-Saxon world - stuffed with cheese, bacon bits and potatoes mmm-mmm. And it was warm enough to sit outside in jeans and t-shirt - despite the thermometer only reading 13 degrees ha ha that would be practically coat weather back in Auckland...

After that we ascended the Aiguille du midi lift - first to 1035 m to see Fi and Andrew parapont off the side of the mountain - most cool, might have to give it a go when I have money and feel brave enough, although the 37 euro cost of the lift up the mountain took it out of me for the time being. Then Verity and I went up the final stage by ourselves - 8 minutes to soar up to 3842 m above the valley but still not as high as the neighbouring Mt Blanc - 4808 m and the highest peak in Europe. Up here it was cold - it had still been warm enough at 1035 m to take my coat off. The view was absolutely beautiful - it was a wonderful clear day and you could see for miles. More importantly, I am finally convinced of the effects of altitude. We had to stumble up some (admittedly rising and rocky) ground back towards the lift from the paraponting site and we had to stop after about a minute of walking because Verity and I (and she's so thin she disappears if she turns sideways, in case you think it's just me being ridiculously unfit) were so out of breath. Seriously, heart pounding and everything - then at 3842 metres I could barely walk up the stairs to the viewing platform, I felt like my feet were made of lead, I was gasping for air etc. etc. Even all the way down I felt ill and still puffed, it was insane. Obviously never going to make it as a mountaineer - it remains to be seen how I'll do skiing up here!

Saturday night I opted for bed rather than going out again, and Sunday it was moving day to my new apartment - which is lush I may add. Not super big but really nicely decorated and right slap bang on the central town square, only 5 mins from town. So I'm finally all unpacked - in the process I found my lost ring, woohoo! and settled in. Plus I had a great afternoon yesterday reading the Saturday Guardian - you may be unable to buy any clothes that aren't ski gear / ridiculously overpriced / both in Chamonix, but English papers are readily available, love it. My apt also has a (small) couch and a double bed, so I'm open for business for when people want to come and stay (you know you want to).

Sun night I must admit I went back to the chalet with all my mates, in order to unproductively huddle with half a dozen of us around a laptop and not watch a movie, but you know, it was company. In the night it totally sounded like people were in my apartment, but not finding anyone on further (super brave) investigation, I managed to convince myself it was in fact people upstairs and have a good night's sleep.

I was in a right mood this morning not wanting to come back to work, but am trying to make up my mind to make the most of it, regard this as merely the difficult settling-in period and give it at least to the end of the winter. After that, I think I'm definitely going to do another Masters and become a real live librarian - cause that's the last time I enjoyed my job!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vive le weekend!

So this the end of my first full week as Properties Administrator here in Chamoneeeks... And what have we done? Quite a bit actually. Today had another lovely 1 1/2 - 2 hour drive for the pleasure of 20 mins' work, but was quite pleasant as Andrew and I had some rocking tunes on the dial and some good chats and certainly better than being tied to a desk. AND it prevents the gendarmes from ringing me up and yelling at me again for not faxing them copies of the liquor licenses I didn't even have yet, for properties that won't be serving liquor for 2 bloody months! Arrgh!

Do feel like I'm semi settled in, semi know what I'm doing. The great bugbear is still French. I do feel, however, like I've made a bit of progress with the phone convo thing in only a week, so onwards and upwards I hope. I must admit, though, any task involving ringing French people is inevitably postponed as long as possible in favour of the boring filing and paperwork which make up the rest of my role. NOT the way to get better, but it's damn hard! Even harder when they ring up out of the blue and I don't even have the chance to prepare for the conversation.

Going out this weekend with the boys and girls from the chalet should be a good laugh I hope! And then on Sunday I'll be moving into my own apartment, centrally located to all the delights Chamonix has to offer. Oh AND I got paid from the chateau and reimbursed for my train ticket today so relatively speaking I'm rolling in dough.

Best news for last though.... My super-smart and hard-working mum has just finished her BA after something like 20 years' of part-time slog - ever since I can remember she's been going, at any rate. Since I have yet to graduate with my MA, my lovely Dad has had the brainwave of flying my out - gratis as far as I'm concerned!! - to graduate alongside Mum!!! How great is that!!! I've tentatively asked for the time off already and doesn't look like it will be a prob, so - unless like last time, live intervenes - you crazy kids at home can look forward to seeing me next May! Yeah!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tout va bien sort of

Well I think things went a little bit better in the office today - mostly because I actually did some stuff so managed not to feel absolutely useless for a change! The things I accomplished were only 1) do a mail-out and 2) arrange a quote for hot tub maintenance, but still, those were two of the big 'to-dos' on my 'to-do list' so there you go. Lowlight of the day was when bitch-ass woman asked "whether there's anyone there who can speak French?". She also happens to be my temporary landlady, so may sabotage the property in some sneaky way before moving out... In case any legal eagles read this, that's an empty threat. So hopefully onward and upward, French convos seem to proceed better if I write myself a little script first, which is pretty slow going of course but hey worth it I suppose for now and I'll get there in the end. Right well been chained to my desk all day so best be off x

Friday, October 19, 2007

All change

Weeeell here I am in Chamonix then, after a pretty uneventful journey (once Jay and I managed to find the way to the train station - this is a seriously easy place to find and between us we must have been to Lille a dozen times, but hey we got there).

Have had a super busy last couple of days, the job is very daunting from what I can tell so far, still not really clear what I spend the majority of my time doing and how I know what to do when - enquiries have met with vague "just keep your ear to the ground"s which ain't all that helpful to be honest.

Today was nice though, we drove about 2 hours each way to Albertville and Courcheval to deposit liquor license requests at the mayor's offices - this was through gorgeous winding mountain roads, on a lovely cold but sunny day, with all the autumn colours all about. Hopefully tomorrow will be nice as well, I have the weekend off to explore the place.

Last night went out for a couple of drinks with the girl and guy downstairs at my current accommodation (which I'll be moving out of in favour of my own apartment shortly), pretty low-key but nice to start making some friends. They are in the jobs I originally applied for, so were filled with wonder in my superior abilities being able to snaffle this job ha ha.

One thing I was surprised and a little bummed out by is that all the bar staff etc everwhere we went were English. I was expecting English-speaking in a tourist town like this, but come on, where are the Frenchies? Going up and ordering a drink in French from an English person is taking things a bit too far... However, I've witnessed the woman in my job answering a number of phone calls in French, so I don't think I have to worry about not using the language, in fact I'm worried about not being good enough. However, although she spoke pretty quickly, she made dozens of grammatical errors that even I could pick up on, so let's be optimistic.

Am missing my chateau friends quite a bit, hoping that I will settle in and feel better soon, make friends la de da. The office I am in is full of 30-somethings, but once more people who applied for the job I originally applied for get here I'm hoping things will liven up a bit. And then of course there's "the season" to look forward to - which I'm not entirely sure I AM looking forward to. I suppose it will be fun to have lots of bars open and people around and so on, but on the other hand, tourists - everybody hates them! At least I'll have the privilege of being a bitter, supercillious "local" if I so desire.

Stand by for updates xx

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Au revoir!

I am now leaving Ebblinghem! (The red line means you're exiting the town)

Bye Ebblinghem!


A normal human hand present to show the scale of my boobage ha

Marky Mark looking sexy (?)

Me and James

Anna, me looking longingly into the distance - or "completely smashed" depending on your p.o.v. - which I wasn't even (for a change) and Clare

Clare, Esther, me, Anna and Phia

Charlie's Angels in action - Clare, Phia, Anna and Esther

Evil James, Mark and me

Me and Phia before a night out in St Omer

The girls out for lunch - Phia, Anna, me, Esther, Jay and Clare - just learned how to do b&w photos on me camera!

Out for lunch at the fancy but cheap (14 euro for 3 courses, sweet) Le Cygne for Esther's birthday - Esther, Jay, Clare, Rob (Clare's bf), Anna and Phia

The girls just can't keep away

Sexing it up with my multiple bras and extremely shiny nozzle

The slippery pyjamas superheroes - Anna, birthday girl Esther, me, Phia and Clare, the damsel in distress

Esther's bday skit - after Clare suffered an accident due to slippery pyjamas, the girls put her in the recovery position

Jay, Phia and Anna get their groove on on Phia's bed - we had a girly girl sleepover with wine, junk food, music and games in honour of Esther's 19th

Jay and Phia at Esther's sleepover

Phia models one of my fancy new bras

Well, this is it, my last evening at the Chateau, quelle triste! Actually I don't really know what to feel at the mo - a mix of excitement over the move, nervousness, sad to be leaving my friends but HAPPY that I don't have to do my job anymore! The last little bit has been pretty low-key, nothing much to report really (hence I haven't). Went out on Sat night, but was only out for about 1 1/2 hours and not much went on, last night we had a few farewell drinks in the bar, but again, nothing too exciting. I'm nursing a nasty chesty cold and have slept most of today, apart from a spot of work in the morning and a lunch date out in St Omer with the guys. No drinkies for me tonight cause I gotta rest up for my 8 1/2 hour train journey tomorrow! Haven't finished packing yet, I still have wet clothes, thanks partially to Mike - I said "please let me know when your washing's done, I really need to wash mine ASAP to make sure it dries". So what did he do? Came up to me and said "My washing's done", I went in there and there was another load in - when I asked whose it was he said "oh, my whites were done, now my darks are in there!" Wanker. Not at all sure it's all gonna fit, but fingers crossed!