Monday, 19 November 2012

Southampton, Sleepover and Spectating

*Shuffles in nervously*
It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you all on what I’ve been doing, sorry about that. Life has gotten in the way somewhat but I’m back now.

At the end of my last blog, I’d just got back from a lovely weekend in Angers with the glorious Mlle Stam (Cupcakes and Croissants – read it, it’s better than this tosh) and the first French school holiday of La Toussaint was on the horizon.

For the first week of this holiday, I headed back, armed with French pastries, to Southampton where I spent the week with my old housemates. This was a truly lovely week and one which I wish could have lasted much longer. As soon as I arrived at my old house, we ordered Domino’s (it’s good to know some things don’t change) and from that point onwards it really did feel like being home.

On the Monday, Ellie and I went to see the opening night of the 2012-3 cast of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria theatre in London. This was a wonderful evening, easily the best I’ve ever seen the show performed - I've reviewed it here. We went to Byron on Charing Cross Road for dinner and had awesome burgers with the world’s best onion rings and Oreo milkshakes. If you’ve never been to a Byron, I promise you that you’re missing out – next time you’re in London, make it a priority! After the show, Ellie indulged me by saying we could wait at the stage door and we both got autographs from the three lead actors. I also got photos with Louise Dearman and Gina Beck which I was extremely pleased with!
Gina Beck (Glinda) and I at the stage door of Wicked
Tuesday night was spent watching our friend Alisa perform in a great production of Macbeth by the university theatre group (reviewed here) and Wednesday was Halloween which I’m so glad I was in the UK for as it’s really not that big a thing in France. We spent the night in Jesters having got queue jump by joining the excellent English society and I was so glad to get to spend time with some truly lovely Southamptonites such as Vicky, Mike, Sera, Annie and Alice. The rest of the week passed in a similar fashion – we were always busy but always having fun. I haven’t laughed as much as I did that week in a very long time. The week was crowned with a lovely meal at The Cowherds, the pub on the edge of Southampton Common, and a trip to Portswood’s new ice-cream parlour Sprinkles.
Ellie made the scars with tissue and cosmetic glue. (Me with the lovely Sera at the beginning of the night)

Although I’m mostly really enjoying my year abroad, it was sad to return to France and leave my friends behind. Luckily, there wasn’t much time to dwell on it. Having arrived back into Le Havre on the Sunday morning, I dumped my bags and promptly rushed out to buy pillows at the only place I knew would be open. The reason for this was that the lovely Mlle Rossmaur came to stay for the evening! Although it was far too brief, it was lovely to catch up with Maddie and to hear all of her tales of her wonderful life in Grenoble and the mini ‘tour de france’ that she’d been busy doing over the last week. We went to the restaurant at the casino for dinner and then ended up back at mine watching Love Actually, putting the world to rights and drinking copious amounts of tea. The next morning we went to the bakery before it was time to say another sad goodbye.

The last weekend of the fortnight holiday, Sam and I stayed over at Natalie and Katie’s flat in Caucriauville for a Disney sleepover to correct the fact that Natalie has seen shamefully few Disney movies. Again, this was a really lovely evening although it involved possibly a little too much wine. We managed to watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Aristocats and The Lion King 2 before we gave in and went to bed – not bad for an evening’s work. The next morning we made waffles for breakfast (whisking egg whites with only a fork is always fun) and played with the Intel Museum of Me Facebook app which is scary and yet really quite interesting! 

Classes began again and I was surprised by how much I’d missed my students. Obviously there are a few who try to push their luck and don’t always behave or apply themselves in exactly the way that I’d like them to but the majority are lovely and make a massive effort to work hard. I did my first lesson without technology on Tuesday and it worked surprisingly well – perhaps I don’t need always need to hide behind a PowerPoint after all!

On Wednesday night last week a few of the assistants went for a meal at the casino, the same restaurant that I went to with Maddie. It was another lovely evening and it’s really nice to get a chance to socialise together and to ‘compare notes’ on our experiences of what it’s like to be an assistant. Listening to some of the others’ stories has made me realise that although I’m probably not the best off, I’m relatively lucky to be working in the two schools that I am. Saturday brought another such opportunity with a trip to the bowling alley in Montivilliers with some other assistants who’d been unable to attend the meal. I expected to be absolutely atrocious but actually managed to do OK in the first game. It couldn’t last, however, and normal service was resumed in the second game with some truly awful shots on my part.

On Sunday, we went to see a handball match between Le Havre AC and Westfriesland SEW, a Dutch team. I’d never been to any sporting event before and couldn’t even have told you the set-up of a handball court but it was really fun. The game is much more popular in France than it is in England and France won the gold medal in the Olympic handball over the summer so it’s likely to get even more popular now. I can see why it appeals – it’s an incredibly fast game with a lot of skill. I certainly hadn’t realised that it was a contact sport – there was throat-grabbing and throwing to the floor going on all over the place. One observation that I would make is that it was more than a little one-sided – when the Dutch team scored, their small group of supporters would stand up and cheer but otherwise there was just awkward silence. When Le HAC scored, a DJ would play a 10 second clip of one of the cheesy tunes that are oh-so-popular in France and the entire stadium went nuts. The commentator spent the entire match trying to fire up the Le HAC fans too. The entire thing was just ridiculously biased; it must have sucked to be the away team. The only other time the DJ played music was when penalties were being taken, something which I found incredibly odd – it must be a lot more difficult to focus when you’re trying to take a penalty with ‘Billie Jean’ blaring in the background!

And that’s you all up to date with my life! Classes continue and I’m currently in the midst of organising a meet-up with my lovely friend Céline for the first weekend of December to visit Paris and her home in Chartres. On y va…

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