Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rosé, bureaucracy, and wanky Frenchmen

So last weekend we had a pretty chilled-out time with my sister Jess, her friend Liz, and our mutual friend Marion (who lives in Tours, but knows Liz from uni in New Zealand. Oh and we discovered also that Marion used to work with my cousin, who is an actress back home - god, New Zealand is a small place at times). Some of the highlights were the hour-long dégustation of rosé wine - a bit awkward having to translate for the girls at times, hope I did okay. I learnt quite a lot about how rosé is made (there are two main methods, one which basically follows the method for white wine, and the other for red wine), but not sure how much of that information I passed on! We also got to hang out at the guinguette, the "famous" open air café/dance hall/concert venue on the banks of the Loire. It rained a bit while the girls were here, but it was still mild enough on the Friday to sit outside and have wine by the Loire. The opening of the guinguette is always a very welcome sign that summer has finally arrived in Tours. (Talking of which, it has been baking hot for the last couple of days, although thunderstorms are predicted next week.) We also had dinner at La Souris Gourmande, a cheese-themed restaurant which j'adore (their tartiflette is amazing, if you're ever in Tours), drank lots of wine (but didn't actually have any big nights out) and generally just hung out and relaxed.

I swore I was taking a break from alcohol, but that lasted until Wednesday, when it was so hot that not cracking open a bottle of rosé would have probably resulted in a criminal indictment. Then on Thursday, my friend Liz had just arrived back from Japan and I went round to help her deliver flyers for her business around our neighbourhood. I think we did about three blocks and then decided it was wine-o'clock. We seem incapable of just having a quiet glass and this was not helped by heading to a bar (same one I went to with my sister and friends across from the Souris Gourmande, if you're reading this Jess) where they are super friendly and nice and you can just sit at the bar and chat with all the regulars and your glass just keeps getting magically filled (and these glasses are about the size of a bucket to begin with!). We spent a lot of the evening chatting to a guy who had spent 12 years being tortured in a Vietnamese prison camp before breaking out, fleeing on a boat and getting picked up by a French navy vessel. Getting to meet people with stories like that is definitely a highlight about travelling! He was much better than the young French guy I got talking to later, who said things like "I have a complicity with my girlfriend" (meaning that they have an "understanding" that they can cheat on each other) and then when I said you can't say that in English, he looked up the word on his iphone and showed me that it existed (obviously having a completely different meaning in this context makes no difference) and said (quote) "you're not English so you don't know how to speak properly like an English person does". He also tried to convince me that "snob" is an adjective (as in "She's very snob", because in French they have just borrowed the word snob and thus say things like "Elle est tellement snob"), and then when I said it wasn't, he asked Liz, the "real English person" and damn Liz was like, "yeah, snobby" and the guy was all like IN YOUR FACE and just wouldn't listen when I said "NO! SHE SAID SNOBBY! NOT SNOB!". Plus he said New Zealand and Australian accents were the same and if he couldn't hear the difference it meant it didn't exist. Anyway, I might still be a little bit ragey about this stereotypical arrogant French guy, so we'll move on. (Although, one last thing, I was talking to arrogant Frenchman's friend later and he said that he didn't have a "complicity" with his girlfriend, she just cheated on him all the time and he was sad about it and trying to act like the big man about town to make up for it. It's not very elegant to crow, but I've got to say HA! He deserves it!)

On Friday, the attestation d'emploi I needed from my assistant job turned up, so I had to drag myself out of bed and across town to take it to the pôle emploi. I didn't want to wait since Monday is a holiday and obviously the sooner I get all the paperwork together, the sooner they might start paying me. It took like two and a half hours' round trip to just give them this piece of paper, since they were being rubbish at the reception and I had to wait to see someone else who took all of about 30 seconds to sort it out. Good news though, they still had my file (apparently if they decide it's incomplete, they just reject it and send it back to you, because of course that makes way more sense than just sending you an email saying "hey, we need one more piece of paper from you, can you bring it down?") so fingers crossed now everything will be in order and they'll make a decision on it soon.

Right, that's all of interest (supposing it was, in fact, interesting). I'm going to go catch some rays (21 degrees, my idea of perfection) before watching quali for the Monaco GP in a couple of hours. Hope it's sunny where you are too! Here's some photos from Greg's and my sister's visits to Tours.

I don't know if you can read this, but it says "Bastard is waiting for you at stand E8 at the Tours Fair". I was intrigued!

The west windows in the cathedral glowing in the afternoon sun

A shot of the cathedral from behind

Not a great photo (hello fake smile...), but the only snap we got together, courtesy of the covoiturage guy who was giving Greg a ride to Paris 

An old church (or something) hidden behind the cathedral

Greg and St. Martin's at night

An old building I liked

Me and the ghost of Fritz, the famous elephant, as featured in the Super Best Tour of Tours Ever. I look strangely like my arms aren't attached to my torso, but I assure you they are.

My sister Jess and her friend Ratty got into the swing of things with Fritz as well

Me and Jess at the cheese restaurant. Mmmm, cheese

Liz, and Marion at the restaurant

There has long been a goat-about-town in Tours, which some guy takes around on a leash (you can see a glimpse of him hanging in a kebab shop here, on my first visit to Tours), but now there is a RIVAL GOAT, who rides around in a little cart pulled behind a bike! I've seen him twice in the last couple of days. Is this town big enough for two goats, that is the question??

And here's a video of my cat, Bob. Bob is normally frightened of everything (he was severely traumatised for about a week after Greg's visit, due to Greg running around the apartment gratuitously making dinosaur noises and so on, followed by me running the vacuum cleaner and not having enough time to give Bob make-up cuddles before the girls showed up from London), but I have recently discovered that he loves smoked chicken so much he's even willing to meerkat about in order to get it. If you don't know Bob, this will seem like less of a ground-breaking revelation, but honestly it's a big step! I have tried buying him toys and things, but if you roll a ball at him or whatever he gets scared and runs away and hides, so it is awesome to see him playing a little bit!

And here's an awesome video of my brother swimming in his own private waterfall in Hawaii. Frickin jealous!


  1. try that trick with muyant and you'll lose several fingers!

  2. that should be mutant

  3. Yep! Mutant (real name Button) is my cat back in New Zealand, for those who don't know. I love her very much, but she is a bit bitey.

  4. pôle emploi is so ridiculous. I had to type out all my information to get an appointment, then they sent me buckets of paperwork which I had to fill out by hand, then the lady who re-typed my information at the appointment didn't even know how to type?! I mean, hey, you have people looking for a job coming through the door all day.... maybe hire someone with computer skills.

    Our cats are twinsies! Have you tried buying a catnip plant? My cat doesn't like dry cat nip but she LOVES the real stuff. It's supposed to make them feel like they are on ecstasy :)

    Your brother has a cute accent. If France ever has proper swimming weather I am totally going to copy cat his video. ;)

  5. Omg, my lady couldn't type either! (And yeah, I didn't get the "let's retype everything you entered online.) I wanted to take over the keyboard, would have been much quicker.

    No, it's an actual plant? I tend to kill plants, but might be worth a go!

    I don't like my accent, but yeah, Americans seem to think it's cute, so I'll take it :)

  6. Hmm, wow, it's rare that I've met such a caricature of the arrogant ignorant Frenchmen! Hopefully this one was a rare specimen and you won't ever have to come across another...

    AND I've been to the Souris Gourmande, years ago when I was visiting Tours for the first time (and the first time I really visited it though your tour sounds better than mine was). When we met up with our couchsurfing host that night, we told her where we'd eaten and that we thought we'd been lucky to get a table because the owner had asked if we had a reservation and when we said no, said she could possibly put us downstairs, which she did. Our host said the woman always says that to give the impression it's a really busy restaurant. Is that true?

  7. Yep it's fair to say they're not all that bad! But yeah, thinking you speak English better than a native speaker (and he kept talking down to me as well, saying things like if I was "educated" I would know words like complicity) kind of takes the cake.

    Cool, did you enjoy it? This time was the first time I've been put downstairs, although I think all the other times I've been were autumn or winter, so that might be the reason. It does seem a pretty popular spot!

  8. oh geez... that is just pathetic. I don't even know why I was there because I've never had a job in France. I think my husband thought they might give me free french classes or help with the job search. She offered me a job cleaning offices at night which would have been great except the whole not seeing my husband and getting mugged on the RER!

    I think catnip is pretty hard to kill. I found mine at Auchaun.

    Your accents adorable. Flaunt it girl! Unless you grew up separate from your brother and talk like a valley girl like me. If that's the case then shhhhhhh!

  9. Twas a rather nice weekend! Viva la Rose! X


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