Saturday, March 26, 2011

Springy springy!

Argh! I typed a whole post and then went to add photos and stupid Chrome stupid crashed and made it worse by going "Aw, snap!" about it. If Google's so smart, it should know that machines pretending to be people (like those effing Westpac ATMs back home) make me ANGRY. Especially if you've just gone and lost my fricking post! Aw snap isn't even just inappropriately persony-y, it's also just kind of dickish, like Chrome is revelling in the fact that it failed. While we're on the subject of Chrome hate, why does Flash player crash EVERY FIVE MINUTES? Seriously!

Anyway, rant over, here's what I had to say...

I had a great long weekend last weekend, lucky enough to get lovely sunshine from Sunday to Tuesday (till today, actually, but it doesn't count when you're at work!) It is meant to be rainy from tomorrow into next week, but at least for once I was off work to enjoy it.

Last Friday I bought some new shoes - I was on a mission to buy summer sandals since the weather is getting nice. So, obviously, I bought heels. I wore one of the pairs to work the other day and ended up with open wounds on my heels :( I'm hoping that that's just a temporary problem until the leather softens up...

So pretty! The ribbon looks pink, but it's red - and you can swap it for a black one (or presumably whatever you like if you buy some more) which is pretty cool! It wraps around your ankle. These aren't the hurty ones (well, as far as I know), haven't had the occasion to wear them yet!

Here's the hurty ones - but they look so innocent!

Then on Saturday I checked out the Festival of Wines from Borgueil which was happening in town. Pretty sweet deal - 2 euros got you a glass and you could then taste as many wines as you liked. I had never had any wines from Borgueil before (it's a small wine region close to Tours) but I enjoyed checking them out! Still prefer the lovely Chinon rosés though, on the whole. I think my palate may have suffered a bit by the end though *cough*. I ended up buying 7 bottles of rosé, based on the impeccable criteria of 1) whether the wine tasted good and 2) whether the person selling it was nice to me. Let that be a lesson to you, vintners! I'm thinking of having a rosé party since I have so many bottles (not that I couldn't work my way through by myself, of course).

At the wine festival. I do have a photo of me at the wine festival, but since according to my mum I have looked "pale" and "waxy" in recent photos, I'm not posting it.

Sunday to Tuesday were spent mostly hanging out in the Botanic Gardens/Park, reading and enjoying the sunshine. I even had my first icecream of the season! And on Tuesday afternoon I went and had a cider sitting outside in the old town, reading and watching the world go by, very nice.

More blossoming trees in the Botanic Gardens:

And some lovely spring flowers in my very own home!

This weekend is of course the start of the F1 season for the year! This means getting up early - I woke up at 6 this morning (qualifying wasn't actually until 7). Then it turned out they weren't actually showing it on TV, grrr! It took an age, but I eventually managed to see about half of the qualifying online though... Vettel is on pole, which is not a big surprise. I am surprised at how much the McLarens have improved from practice and that the Ferraris were in pretty bad form. Early days though, it will be very interesting to see how the changes to the tyres and all the other new bits and bobs work out during the race.

Some more miscellaneous photos floating around:

Me in a new dress when we had some people over for drinks - oh and the lovely red shoes my parents brought over! Killer heels on them though, they ain't for walking!

Some of said people - me, Yann, Géraldine and Anto

The statues on the front of the Hotel de Ville. I would have called them caryatids, but apparently only female figures are caryatids, and males are telamones or atlantes (singular, atlas).

And here's a photo from last year of the Hotel de Ville itself, in case you've forgotten what it looks like (or never knew...) It's kind of hard to see the statues from far away, they are on the bottom level :

Awwwwww Maya gets caught out by those sneaky paparazzi in a compromising position! Still manages to wink seductively like the trooper she is though :D

Friday, March 18, 2011

St Paddy's

Headed out for St Patrick's day last night, luckily enough it was of course on a Thursday and I took today off all the better to celebrate it! It was nuts, I've never seen so many people out. Thursday is 'students' night' plus St Patrick's on top of that = chaos. The first bar we went to had a crowd of people all around outside (probably illegally, you're only meant to go a certain distance from the bar with drinks I think) and then inside it was absolutely rammed, especially around the bar. I really thought at one point I was going to be pushed down the stairs - on the edge of a staircase is not a good place to be with that many people pushing to get to the bar! After that, things got a bit calmer at the next two places we went, but there were still people everywhere wearing Guinness hats and falling over, dropping drinks, throwing up etc. Once again, don't believe everything you hear about the French not drinking! The streets were just covered in litter by the time the bars closed at 2. Anyway, fun times had by all, it was nice to have some cider for a change as well!

The park looks prety wintry here, but...

Spring is springing!(Typically today, day off = wet and cold. Should be getting a bit sunnier although still quite cold over the next few days)

Sorry I couldn't get a better picture of this! Apparently in France, Eden Park = chic! Kinda confused about what the Eiffel Tower's doing in the picture though! At first I thought the guy on the right was in blackface pretending to be Maori or something, but on further reflection I'm not too sure... His hands seem to match his face, so I might just be getting thrown off by the weird make-up going on around his eyes. I might have to take a closer look (it's on my way home from work) and report back on its inappropriateness level. I also like how the guy on the left is just totally into the guy on the right.

Me and Géraldine outside the bar. On at least half a dozen occasions French people found it necessary to tug on my tinsel pigtails and inform me that 'It's St Patrick's Day, not Christmas!' Discussed this with Géraldine, who was also on "Team Tinsel Is For Christmas!" Silly French people and their regimented ways...

I am so in love with this little biscuit boy that I'm trying to become him. Unfortunately it got cut off in the photo, but I've made my cardi into a cape and am holding a 'basket' handbag. Didn't manage to replicate the spiffy shorts and knee socks combo though! The French slogan says 'We always say yes!" which I enjoy with the saucy expression he's sporting!

The girls - me, Géraldine, Sara and Liz

I DRANK A BEER! We were at a speciality beer bar and I had no choice, especially since the barman was very nice about giving me tasting samples and then putting up with me being all "ew gross, I don't want it!" This is Kriek cherry beer, and it's actually not too bad, although afterwards I thought there was a bit of that unpleasant beery aftertaste (and I'm blaming it for the fact that I woke up feeling a bit queasy despite only having 2 pints of cider and a half of beer over the course of the evening).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Debby downer report: work edition

Don't have much to say really, but thought I should update anyone who still reads this with what's going on... Basically, boring everyday life is what.

I'm giving English lessons to a colleague at lunchtime a couple of times a week, which gives me a nice bit of pocket money. It's still not my favourite thing in the world & I will probably never feel like a good teacher, but I think I am helping him practice and gain confidence at least, which is good. It helps that he has real, practical goals - some work stuff and an upcoming trip to the US - so definitely more motivated than your average teenager. Seems to have an inordinate love of prepositions though! Boooring!

On the job front, our dossier to secure EU funding got sent back for revisions, so instead of hearing back in February, it now will be (read, may be) decided in April. Hmmm, April you say, ring any bells? That would be the month my contract expires. So I'm still in the situation of having no more than encouraging murmurs to go on as to whether or not I'll have a job six weeks from now. Well, my boss did say they would renew the contract for a shorter period of time even if the funding doesn't come through, but you know, getting a stay of execution for a few months is not really all that helpful. I have been passively looking for jobs via a few RSS feeds, but nothing has jumped out at me. Plus the more I think about that, the more I realise that I really don't want to leave Tours for the foreseeable future. I like where I live, I like my flatmate, I've made friends. I don't want to pick up and start again somewhere else. But the likelihood of getting another job in my field in Tours has got to be vanishingly small. So then if my contract doesn't get renewed the question would be, do I get a job working in a shop or a bar or trying to give English lessons or who knows what, just to stay in Tours? Or do I accept that I'll have to go elsewhere - realistically, probably to the UK, although who knows how easy it is there to find a job these days with all the public sector cuts? Or see how long a spell on the dole I'm entitled to?

Even if my contract does get renewed for another year, there's that depressing reality that endless "precarious" (as they say in France) one-year contracts are all that's on offer, with no real hope of advancement.

There are none of the permanent "job till you die" (or rather, retire at whatever age Sarko's fixed on) 'titulaire' posts on offer where I am anyway, but in order to get one of those jobs as a librarian employed by the state, here's what you have to do (brief version). Unless you've been working for the govt for a few years already, you need to have a degree (fair enough) unless you're the mother or father of at least 3 kids, or a sportsman/woman at a high level. Yo, France, WTF? To be a librarian? Anyway, if you fill these bizarre conditions (well, the degree part isn't so bizarre), you get to enrol for the national civil service exam for librarians. Then you get sit two 4-hour exams, one of which consists of summarizing a dossier of documents in French (not all that clear on what that means) and the other writing an essay on the mission of libraries, information and book science and cultural practices. If you pass these two exams, you get to have oral exams - a 30 minute interview with a 'jury' commenting on a text related to 'a professional situation', followed by a 30 minute interview commenting on a text to do with culture, then 30 minutes where you have 10 minutes to translate a text from a foreign language and then 20 minutes discussing the text in that language (English included of course - possibly the only part I might pass).

So, okay, let's say some miracle happened and I actually passed (I mean, not going to happen in a million years, but for the sake of argument). The most recent statistics for the concours are for 2009. For the external concours for librarians in that year, 4510 people enrolled, 2295 showed up for the exam, 73 passed, and the best 18 were offered posts. Eighteen. The site helpfully calculates this for you - that's 1.31% of the people who sat the exam. And if you're not one of the eighteen, hey, there's always next year, right?

So, you know, job security? Not bloody any time soon. And yes, this is why anyone who manages to get one of these jobs will proceed just to sit around and be unhelpful until they retire. As for private sector jobs, well I dunno, I never see any advertised. Well this turned out more depressing than intended. Better go cheer myself up by cleaning the house, that'll do it.