petite anglaise

August 31, 2004

positive thinking

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaise @ 11:22 pm

Well it’s “nice week” chez scaryduck and it has inspired me to (attempt to) sing the praises of things I love about Paris today. Looking back over the archives, many of my posts have been rants so far – so it is only fair. After all, I ‘m the one who chose to live here. Before laying eyes on the Frog. I must have had reasons?

*racks brains*

Here goes…

  1. I confess I get a thrill out of the dddrrrriiiinnng noise that my navigo metro pass makes when I go through the ticketless turnstile without removing it from my bag. Occasionally the little green arrows light up without the noise sounding and I am left feeling very cheated indeed.

  2. The sublime view from my balcony, across the rooftops of Paris. You should be able to see the glorified pylon that is the Eiffel Tower, but it is hidden behind an inconsiderate block of flats across the road. But I spy with my little eye Notre Dame cathedral and the Tour Montparnasse, and those funny coloured tubes on the inside out Pompidou centre.

  3. Crèpes sold by street vendors in paper cones – with Nutella dripping out of the bottom, pains au chocolat from the bakers when they are warm and the chocolate is runny. Miam, as a French person would say.

  4. The Marais: a backdrop of stately, ancient hôtels particuliers where you can imagine Dangerous Liaisons being played out by aristocrats in powdered wigs. And all that inaccessible modern day male eye candy.

  5. Frequenting the kind of cinema that doesn’t sell popcorn and where people have been known to clap and cheer at the end of a particularly good film.

Five things. Not a bad start, but I don’t think I could keep it up all week…

August 30, 2004

crotte wheels

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaise @ 1:38 pm

I just noticed a sign on the door of my local Monoprix (urban supermarket chain – French version of Woolworths or Walmart) reminding the public that they are not permitted to enter the shop on roller skates.

Personally I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing*, but you’d be surprised how many Parisians do don rollerblades and all kinds of protective padding and take to the streets. I imagine they think they look cool. *Grudgingly* I suppose some of the more experienced rollerbladers do – as they glide nonchalantly in and out of traffic, hitching a ride on the back of a bus when they fancy a rest. A guy even grabbed the back of the Frog’s Vespa once. The Frog thought at first that it was my weight slowing him down.

Statistically though, you are more likely to see novices wobbling along the pavement who haven’t yet mastered the art of stopping by doing that nifty little semicircular manoeuvre, and desperately trying to come to a halt at a busy road where there is nothing to grab on to but a pedestrian like myself. I have reluctantly saved several lives this way.

While I am touching on the subject of Parisian pavements and their hazards, let me indulge my poo fixation pause for a moment to reflect on how delightful it must be to clean a crotte off those fancy blades with lots of little wheels on.

The most astonishing spectacle is the rollerblading meet which takes place on Friday evenings, assembling up to 15,000 people for a 30km skate through the streets of the capital. I have on several occasions been unable to cross the road for 15 minutes as they cruised past at a leisurely pace. It’s amusing to watch for about a minute, but I strongly advocate a sneaky beer to pass the time if you are nowhere near a metro station.

My (ahem) “research” for this post also yielded the following: if you are located in Nice you too can join Nice Roller Attitude. Another fine example of the French using the English language in a (vain) attempt to sound cool.

*although I did own some rollerboots when I was ten. I thought they were very fetching indeed: in yellow, blue and red suede with yellow wheels and a stopper thingy at the front. Which I needed, because I must confess I couldn’t execute that fancy stopping manoeuvre either.

August 29, 2004

menhirs and downpours

Filed under: french touch — petiteanglaise @ 10:38 pm

I do not recommend spending a week in Brittany in the rain.

Under the circumstances I even found it difficult to get excited about the standing stones and dolmens (my “old stones” as the Frog calls them), which is not like me at all. The beach was out of the question. There are no indoor activities to speak of in Morbihan other than a butterfly farm and an aquarium. Once those thrilling possibilities had been explored (approx. 2 hours later), that left us with lots of driving around looking at things through misted up windows, occasionally risking a brief walk swaddled in thick cardigans and with waterproofs at the ready. Let me add that the Toddler detests being in the car and particularly being strapped into her car seat. A delightful holiday cocktail.

The sadistic weather hags on France3 and TF1 did nothing to help our predicament. Every evening we tuned in and felt a cautious stirring of optimism seeing the sunshine icon above our location on the weather map. I think they stuck it on in the wrong place. Or Brittany is not quite where I thought it was.

On a more positive note, many crèpes were devoured and I got very messy indeed trying to eat some grilled langoustines steeped in a fluorescent saffron sauce (to the horror of French onlookers). I had the hands of a 40-a-day gaulloise smoker for several days afterwards, but it was worth it.

I also marvelled at the dress sense of the French on holiday. I have never before seen quite so many non-seafaring people in nautical attire. It seems to be the bourgeois holiday uniform. Moccassins, yellow waxed jackets and navy and white horizontal striped t-shirts with ships steering wheel motifs. (Is there a special name for these? If there is, it escapes me). Accessorised with gold jewelry and perfect hair and make up of course. And a tan. Where did these people find sun? A ‘Point Soleil’ tanning parlour in Paris perhaps?

Anyway am now back in Paris and suffering from that horrible Sunday night feeling I remember from school. Back in the office tomorrow. At least this means that normal blogging service will be resumed, I think I’ve been suffering somewhat from not having an outlet…

August 20, 2004

sassy worms

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 11:43 pm

I would have loved to regale today you with tales of life in the provinces, French chavs I have known and loved, and of course the latest antics of my evil in-laws.

Sadly I spent most of the day wrestling with an inconsiderate worm instead and now my energy is ebbing away.

This is why I favour blogging from ‘work’, where functioning computers abound and there is an (irritating but efficient) IT chap at my disposal. And the added benefit of not having a toddler trying to type things while I’m struggling put a stop to the annoying little clock ticking away twenty seconds to system meltdown.

So, off to Brittany tomorrow. Back in gay Paree next Saturday. I predict rain – it has followed me around both sides of the Channel for the past fortnight, so a safe bet – and teething will be my major preoccupations, along with eating as many crèpes with nutella as is humanly possible.

In the meantime, pay Vitriolica a visit …

August 16, 2004

killing me softly

Filed under: french touch — petiteanglaise @ 2:35 pm

No sooner back from Paris and I have to hop on a TGV this afternoon with Frog and Tadpole to travel to Besançon, home of the evil in-laws. The prospect of forecast rain and thunderstorms, coupled with no computer/internet access/cable tv is less than enchanting. Remind me never to commit to spending any part of my precious summer holidays doing this ever again.

If you can bear with me until Friday, I’m sure they will give me plenty to rant and rave write about…

August 15, 2004

tubes tied

Filed under: french touch — petiteanglaise @ 9:32 pm

I am still seething.

Left the family home at approx 11.30 am with toddler, pushchair and several items of baggage to fly to Charles de Gaulle airport (where this happened).

6pm. Baggage taking an eternity to arrive on the conveyer belt. Toddler on the other end of a strap attached to wrist in vain attempt to prevent her from leaving the premises. Toddler finds it amusing to run around in anti-clockwise circles, mummifying me with the strap, so have to spin around in an anti-clockwise direction to free myself. Am feeling rather dizzy. And tired. And hot. Feel I am showing remarkable patience and good humour, all things considered.

Toddler’s hand strays for a nanosecond onto the conveyor belt before I yank sharply on the strap.

French woman behind me, to her husband: “These people, no control over their children, fancy letting the child play on the conveyor belt. I can see how these terrible accidents you read about happen now. What can she be thinking of….”

These were the same people who had watched me struggle to carry toddler and two bags off the plane, without offering assistance, then watched me bend to pick up the folded pushchair and add it to my load and haul it all onto the bus, still without offering assistance. People who, as a matter of fact, had pushed past me to get onto the bus first, thereby taking up the last available seats.

Of course they didn’t expect yours truly to understand/speak French.

Alternative endings:

  1. *petite anglaise smiles sweetly* “I know, I’m a menace to society. Don’t worry, I have an appointment booked to have my tubes tied next week so there’s no danger that I’ll be bringing any more children into the world.”

  2. *talking to toddler, loudly* “These people. Badmouthing a complete stranger when she is 30 cm away. No manners whatsoever. And very bad dress sense.”

  3. *snaps* “I’ve got everything under control, no thanks to you, you supercilious bitch.”

Of course, this being a blog, you can’t be sure that I used any of the above. I may have just seethed to myself while going rather red in the face. But you’ll never know, will you?

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