Part One: Right at this point in time, I am sitting on a comfy seat in the Heathrow Airport. Yes, I’m on my laptop in the middle of one of the largest (or the largest- I’m not sure) airports in the world, and I’m certain that when people look at me they think I’m a pro writer. My flight from London leaves in two hours and my gate opens in a half an hour or so, so I’ve decided to kill time. Yes, my flight is at 9pm instead of 3:30pm, and I am no longer flying to Los Angeles, but Hong Kong. Can you guess the story? My flight from Paris got cancelled! A lot of tears were shed as we organised my ticket for a different plane that would arrive after my Air New Zealand one. Me being me (and also because I had woken up at 4:50am), I wasn’t able to calm my emotions until another Air New Zealand flight had been booked and I had called my mum. Long story short, I’ve gone window shopping and had delicious British grub, and now I’m hanging out until my London - Hong Kong plane takes off.

Thoughts… thoughts… what are my thoughts about my eleven months in France? Well, I was starting to get mushy and nostalgic about my year, but ever since my Airport panic I’ve been dying to get home safe and sound. This does not mean I haven’t liked my stay, it just means I’m ready to finish it. It still feels extremely weird to say or think that it’s all over, everything I’ve dreamed about since I was 13 years old. Saying goodbye was hard. Did I tell you I don’t like goodbyes? I think it was worse than my goodbyes in NZ, because this time I actually don’t know when I’m going to see them again. I still haven’t cried though (except for in the airport, but that is justified). Everyone else has cried around me, hugging me, giving me good luck charms, and signing my red STS T-shirt. Is it really possible to cry over someone you don’t know all that well? I guess they liked my bright character in the class.

What will I miss? Well, I don’t know really… The food, the beautiful castles, the rivers… What about the people? Not so sure… My host parents, yes; my exchange student friends, yes; a few good close friends from the class, yes; the French in general, that’s a bit complicated. I guess at times they aren’t particularly open, but I’ve gotten over it. Has my year in France been successful? Has my year in France been successful? You could say it has been! I’ve done and seen so many amazing things, and I can now say I’ve lived in France for eleven months. That’s not a forgettable thing. It’s obviously been a year full of surprises and disappointments, but everything has made my experience and I’m not going to regret a moment of it. I have no idea what kind of state I’d be in at the moment if I hadn’t done this exchange. No regrets, you only live once… is what I would have said if I were a hipster. Of course, I didn’t come up with my own tag line -YOLIFO (You Only Live in France Once) - which came in handy whenever I bought delicious food or random souvenirs. So I guess the main feeling I have as I get ready to board my plane is that I’m more than happy with all that I’ve done this year, but it’s over –and I knew it would be over in eleven months- so now it’s time to go home and live my kiwi life again. I’m not too upset about leaving France, because I know I’ll be back some day, whether it be two years or ten.  

Part Two: It’s been exactly a week since I’ve arrived home in New Zealand to see the faces of my family and Lizzy at the airport. Not too overwhelmed with emotions, but more relieved to be on familiar terrain with people I love. I’m not actually in disbelief or reverse culture shock, but I feel unusually comfortable to be home. It seems like I’ve never even left. How does this all feel? It feels as if my exchange was a dream and I’ve been here the whole time. Of course, it wasn’t a dream because I speak French fluently, there are photos to prove it, and people seem to hug me excitedly whenever they see me.

The jetlag is still half there, but much like the beginning of the year, I go to sleep early and wake up at an unreasonable hour of the morning. On Sunday morning I actually woke up at 4:30am and could not go back to sleep. This, everyone, is what planes do to you. They are evil. The only reason I haven’t caught up on sleep is because of parties and seeing people. That’s not a bad point though. To be honest, I have no idea how I’m supposed to feel about 2012. Everything’s just gone by so fast that I haven’t had the time to carefully observe it. I got accepted into Auckland University recently, and I will be starting and finishing my degree in no time. I’m sure most of you have felt time growing in speed and becoming impossible to slow down. I guess that’s life, and we have to accept it.

This is my last post on this blog, and it might be the last time I do a blog again, or for a long time at least. It doesn’t make me sad to think about it, but if you enjoyed my writing, please let me know. I don’t know what I would ever write about if I did another blog, but I’ve had a good time writing this one (even if I got lazy at times). Most of you see me in real life, so you don’t need to catch up with me through my posts, so this isn’t a true goodbye. Thanks for tuning in most months, and I hope y’all have a great Christmas and New Years. And hey, maybe this has inspired you to see some of the world as well? I know that I now have a much larger appreciation for languages and cultures.

So, I guess there won’t be a next time,

God bless,

Ailish 

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Here we go, second to last post in France! I’ve been pretty slack with my blog lately, but I guess that just proves that I’ve been having a good time…? Yep, let’s just say that. So, a quick recap of what I’ve been up to, and then I can go into details. The holidays have come and gone, and I visited two areas in the south of France, and then a weekend in Paris! I got back to school a week or so ago, and that’s as normal as it is, I guess. Not only have I been slack with this blog, but I’ve been pretty slack with school. It’s the end of the year, and like races, I always seem to get lazy at the finish. Meh, who can blame me? There are some projects which I’m still working ‘hard’ on. Yes, so if you’ve missed my posts, I’m sorry, but I can’t improve my tendency to procrastinate. Okay, let’s get into this thing!

The first Wednesday of the holidays, we took a looooong trip down to the south of France, making a well spent stop at a town called Thiers, which is much known for its knives (conveniently the best knives in France). Of course, it wasn’t a very pretty town, but the stores were amazing to look at! We arrived at our destination at about 8pm, which was actually a holiday home of one of Ségolène and Jean’s good friends. She and her daughter had been there since the Monday, and we stayed at the house until that Saturday. It had originally been a very old house made of brick, but they’ve done a lot of construction to make it nice and inhabitable. I was unsure as to what the name of the village we were staying in was, so I made the effort to ask Jean (see the things I do for you), and apparently we were in a little place called Hameau, which you can’t even call a village because it’s so little! But if you want some idea of a real town/village nearby, we were the closest to a place called Alès. The following day we visited a little village called Lussan, where I got to see inside a French protestant church, a beautiful view, and a cemetery. That afternoon we also payed a visit to a beautiful town called Uzès, which I loved a lot. It had a really nice atmosphere, gorgeous architecture, and a well-known poetic film called ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ was partly filmed there. That night we played two French games which I had recently learned (Barbu and Ascenseur), so watch out kiwis- I’m bringing these games to you!

Friday was a long day, as we took a trip to the great Avignon! Starting early in the morning (well, for me anyway), we drove for a good hour to arrive in the sunny town at around 11am. We started with a drink at a café, and then went on to get a good look of the place, and walking across the famous bridge! If you didn’t know, there’s a French song called ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon’ which is basically about people back in the day celebrating, and dancing on the bridge, but in those days the bridge was actually too narrow to dance on. We grabbed a picnic to eat quickly by a fountain, and then went on to continue our visit of the town. We walked for a good amount of time, and I no longer needed my layers (even though it was supposed to be in autumn), and then we got into the Pope’s palace! Yes, for a good amount of time the Pope lived in France, and to be specific, in Avignon! We took an audio guided tour through the humongous palace, where we took a good couple hours discovering its history. By the time we’d finished our exploring, our feet were aching, we were tired, and it was time to go back to Hameau! That evening we went out to some friends’ house for dinner! They were a really nice couple who have lived in many countries all of the world, and have even visited New Zealand, so it was really interesting talking to them. Everyone had a good time, and we ended up staying at their place until 1am!

With a good lunch of leftovers and still a sleepy head from the night before, I was ready to get in the car the next day, and hit the road yet again! This time we were heading towards the mountains- or in other words, La Haute-Savoie! Getting there by night, I did not get to see the beautiful mountains that surrounded us, leaving me a gorgeous surprise when I woke up the next morning. Jean’s parents own a cute chalet in the mountains, to which they stay in quite often, and that’s where we stayed during our four day or so visit. It’s a very cute, old-fashioned chalet, and I got to sleep in a nice cabin room where there were three bunk beds. The first day that we were there, we had a casual morning before taking a simple walk on a plateau called ‘Beauregard’ (which translates to Beautiful view), where we found only a bit of snow, but winter hadn’t truly hit yet. I got a great view of the mountains, but unfortunately it was too foggy to see the Mt. Blanc. The walk ended in a pour down, and so we rushed to get home and drink some real hot chocolate. The morning after, I got woken up at 8:30am to take a reasonable walk up snowy mountains, and once we’d reached a point Ségolène and I made a snowman. That evening we went to the cinema to watch a French film called ‘Camille Redouble’ which I don’t really have an opinion about. Tuesday started off with nice stroll around a BEAUTIFUL lake, before we went to eat lunch with a good friend of Ségolène and Jean, who took us to Annecy and showed us around. Annecy is a gorgeous town, which was just really nice to walk around and get a feel of. I was truly tired by the end of it, and so it felt good to relax in front of yet another cinema screen to watch the new film “Astérix et Obélix : Au service de Sa Majesté”. The next day was a huge day, as we set out at about 11:30am to climb a mountain in deep snow! Yep, and I succeeded. It took a couple hours to mount, and we were back at the chalet by 3pm.

Our 4 days or so in the mountain were so nice, beautiful, and tiring in some ways. We played Yahtzee a few times, which is a tradition at the chalet, and we had delicious mountain cheese nearly every meal. I even had a true ‘Raclette’, which is a meal typical of the Alps, which consists of meat, potatoes and a lot of melted cheese (the cheese being Reblochon). I saw a lot of snow, and it was very cold a lot of the time, which was shocking in some ways, because it’s still Autumn. Did I have homework during the holidays? Yes. Did I do it? Kind of… I guess it’s kind of hard when you’re away from home practically the whole time. It’s much less attractive to do your homework when you’re living an adventure.

Off to Paris next! We had one day of travel, so we spent a few hours of it in Geneva (yeah, I know. Just casually go to a different country for a few hours). It’s a really nice city, with some cool vibes, so there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going back to Switzerland one day. That afternoon I even got to see a Swatch museum, which –for people who know about my watch/Swatch obsession- is one of the coolest things ever. That night we stayed in a hotel of little village, before parting the next morning. It took us a couple hours to get through the horrible traffic, and we were finally in Paris! Of course, the magic rubs off after the fifth visit, but I was happy to explore more of it. That afternoon Ségolène took me to theGaleries LaFayette, where I got to see many Asian women fighting over a lot of designer label clothes. Of course –because somehow the consumer society thinks it’s already December- Christmas decorations are everywhere, and everyone’s setting up for huge displays and sales all around the shops in Paris, so that was a great sight to see! That evening I got to go to the theatre and see a play called ‘Le Scoop’ about three journalists, which was really well done. The next day I went to the Louvre with my good friend Veronica! If you remember her from the Europe Tour, she’s my awesome Australian friend who’s also staying in France. She lives in Lyon, but she took a train out just to see me! We did a good two hours or so of the Louvre, where I got to see the Italian paintings and Greek sculptures, before we decided to eat lunch and talk and walk for the rest of the afternoon. It was so great to see her again, and I really just enjoyed walking through Paris. That evening Jean’s father celebrated his 88th birthday with us at a Parisian restaurant with Marguerite and Benoit. Sunday (our last day) started in a Protestant church service with Ségolène, which I was very shocked at, and was left disappointed. I guess French Christians like to keep tradition… For lunch we got to see Maria and Grégoire with their baby Elise, so it was a pleasant afternoon before leaving. My parents sent over a Buzzy Bee for Elise, so now she has a classic Kiwi toy! Late that afternoon we left for home, and I said goodbye to Paris for the last time in a few years.

Being back at school is very much anticlimactic. I’m becoming less and less motivated to do the work, therefore I feel less and less stressed. Everyone’s still awesome, I guess, and I’m having a good time. Last weekend Olivia and Nimone came for a girly sleepover, so it was really nice having them over, and staying up late. Nimone showed us a classic Indian film, which was like 3 hours long, but we never got bored once.

So yeah, two weeks and a bit left to go, so not much is going to happen between now and then. It’s going to be so weird having to pack up and say goodbye. Let’s not talk about it, coz it’s not here yet. I’ll just live it up until you see me again. You’ll get another post just before I leave.

Happy end of November everybody!

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Kia ora everyone! Here goes my first ‘normal’ blog post since I came back from the European holidays. To be honest it was a relief to go back ‘home’ to Laval. I do love being on the go, seeing new things, and having a change for once, but sometimes I enjoy going back to a rhythm and normality. Of course, if the normality weren’t as difficult as it was, I would like it a little more- but let’s talk about that later. I have already been in this rhythm for more than one month, meaning that there are less than two months of my exchange to go (crazy times).

I came back to Laval on Saturday 1st September to see the pleased faces of Ségolène and Jean and the TGV station. Over the next few days we would recount the many memorable stories of the holidays. If you didn’t know, while I went on my Europe tour and stayed with a different family, Ségolène and Jean actually went on a bike ride all the way from France to the border of Germany/Austria (they rode about 60km a day!). I also took those three days to prepare myself for Tuesday afternoon, or in other words- la rentrée scolaire! Yes, I got to see everyone yet again, and I began a new school year in ‘Premiere L’, or in other words Year 12 literature.

Anna –if you remember her- is in my class again, which is really awesome because she’s been there since the beginning, and we could continue to strengthen our friendship. Tiphaine is not in our class, but that was clear from the beginning, as she is taking the scientific line. On the first day we got to meet our main teacher, Mme. De Bouville, who is also our French/Literature teacher, and we would have her for six or seven hours a week on average. The subjects I am taking this year are relatively easy, and they include; French, Literature, English, English Lit, Profound English, Music, History/Geography, Sports, and Science. Yes, I know- no maths! The only true problem I’m having is with Science, where I do not understand one single word.

That day I had already made new friends, which was a good thing because I was ready for change. Nimone was introduced to the class as “a Rotarian exchange student from India who understands barely any french, and if someone who spoke some English could help her, that’d be great”. Guess who said yes? She and I have quickly become very close, relating in our artistic interests, boy talk, and similar humour. We have a pretty good time, and I help her a lot when it comes to surviving in school and stuff. She is also the reason for me meeting Kyle that lunchtime. Kyle is another Rotarian exchange student who comes from Colorado, USA, so we like to joke about how he says ‘mountains’ weirdly. This guy has a great sense of dry humour, and has a weird way of using sarcasm, which leads to great conversations. He is quite the genius, but he denies it even though he got 35/36 in a smart University qualifier test that they do in America. He plays piano like a maniac, so we often catch him playing in the piano room at school. So, already, we three have crazy philosophical conversations that are about things like Harry Potter, ‘Do we really exist?’, and random topics that often lead me to send a million links of YouTube videos to them both. The second day gave me the chance to meet another crucial part of my circle of friends- Olivia! Olivia is yet another exchange student, who comes from Denmark, but hasn’t come with an organisation. Olivia is a very beautiful, sweet girl, who speaks English really well, and already has a good hold of French as well. One Sunday she went with me and my host father to see a couple of castles, as it was a national day where many buildings are open for public viewing. I learnt a lot about her then, and the fact that she loves to travel. She doesn’t always hang out in our group, as she wants to make good French friends to get a hold of the culture. I agree with her completely, so I don’t always hang out with my foreign friends.

As you might be able to tell from my subjects, or the fact that I have English-speaking friends, but I speak a lot of English in the day. To add to it all, Ségolène, Jean and I speak English at dinner to help them improve. Don’t worry though, I try my best to be around my French friends, and read quite a bit. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to find the peace to sit down and read in French. I find that I’ve been pretty stressed lately. When it comes to the French Baccalaureate, the students work, work, work! There are heaps of tests to do, quite a bit of homework, and barely little time to have fun. This, apparently, means the same thing for me. Because I now have a good grip of the language, my host mother thinks that it would be good to do all the work, and the teachers prefer for me to do it as well. Lately I’ve been feeling the pressure of all these expectations, and as my work has been piling up, I’ve been crumbling under the weight. This basically results in me procrastinating, procrastinating, and procrastinating some more, leading to nothing done and me feeling even more bad for myself. I have so far done as much work as I have set out to do, but a few times failing from the fact that I didn’t understand a good part of the work we had needed to do. Another reason for me being stressed is also because of the fact that lessons can often be very long and tedious, and therefore sometimes I switch my mind off in class. Man, French school is tiring.

Sorry if I’m making France sound about depressing for you. It’s not that bad, just don’t go to school if you ever come here! Other than that, I’ve been a real busy bee here! Part of the reason I haven’t had the motivation to write to you all is because I have been doing quite a lot of things. Nearly every weekend has been filled up with things to do, and nearly every Wednesday afternoon is spent with my friends. I also now go to Theatre class on Wednesday night, which is really cool! One Saturday we took day trip to Saint Malo to have a look at hotels for Ségolène’s 60th birthday in 2013. I have visited Laval’s castle two times now, once on the national day, once with the friends of Ségolène and Jean. From Wednesday 19th September to Sunday 23rd September Laval had a musical festival known as ‘Le Chaînon Manquant’, where I got to see a few concerts, but because I was sick (for the 4th time this year), I didn’t feel up to it to go out that weekend. Marguerite, Benoit and Blandine stayed for one weekend so that they could do a 10km run with Jean, so it was nice seeing them. No, I did not do the run, and ever since I’ve been sick I haven’t been motivated to do my regular jogs, but meh, I can get back into the routine at home. If you have seen my photos on Facebook, you would have understood that on the weekend of the 6th and 7th October I went to Paris! It wasn’t to see Paris though, because we had two things to do. On the Saturday we went to a traditional, Catholic, French wedding, where we had awful rainy, cold weather. I was very tired by the end of the night, but I did meet a few nice teenagers who were some distant cousins of Ségolène. Sunday morning was spent at Jean’s parents’ house, where we had a large Sunday lunch, and then left for Grégoire and Maria’s house to meet their beautiful new-born baby, Elise. The weekend wasn’t too bad, but we did spend more time travelling in the car than we actually did in Paris. Not a problem though, the next time we go to Paris will be in the holidays, and then I’ll get to visit the real Paris and I truly get to see the Louvre!

The last two weekends have been eventful as well. The weekend before last, Dominique and Bertrand (from the South) came to stay with us! They went on a walk and a bike ride with Ségolène and Jean during that weekend, but because I had been busy all week I had wanted a bit of a rest from everything. The weekend which has just passed was spent in Nantes! If you remember, I went to Nantes in April to hang out with Anna, and that’s exactly what I just did. We arrived late on the Friday night, and then on Saturday we spent the whole day inside eating junk food, going on YouTube and watching many films. Sunday was a bit more active, as we took a visit of the town, which I had already seen. It was just a really nice time spent with my good friend Anna, who found out on Friday that she is leaving Laval at the end of this week to live in Nantes. I am going to be very sad when she goes.

I think that’s all I have to say. If you didn’t know, this Friday we finish school for two weeks, so I’m going to have holidays with my host family. We’re going to go to the South of France and then Paris, so a big post is coming your way in the middle of November! After that, there’ll only be four months left of my exchange. Crazy, crazy times! Because I have been very unfair to y’all by not posting many blogs for a while, I may or may not put up random posts about my feelings and all that kind of stuff. I imagine you’d be interested in some of that. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask, and I shall definitely answer.

Okay, well, I hope y’all are enjoying spring! Autumn over here is very cold and wet, but the trees and leaves are very beautiful!

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Oh, hey there! It’s me again. I think it’s about time to tell you everything about the last nine weeks of my French summer holidays! This will be one neat post, and then we can go back to my consistent fortnightly Friday/Saturday posts. The photos to this post will come shortly, but don’t be annoyed if I take a week to put them up, you know that sometimes it’s difficult to keep everyone in the know. I’m sure y’all don’t mind, I just don’t want you guys to be too disappointed by the fact that I communicate less than before. Okay, so let’s get on with it!

Wednesday 11 July, and my aeroplane headed from Copenhagen to Paris at 12pm. From the assistance of someone from STS, I made my way onto the TGV for a direct trip to Lille where I arrived to meet my holiday host family! Amandine and Ludovic, young parents in their thirties, were my kind host parents during the holidays! With them came their three little monsters (Mathys, 7; Noah, 5; Liza, 2). Nah, the children weren’t that bad, in fact they were quite cute and funny at times, but for the next nine weeks I knew that it would be impossible to escape the noise. I spent that evening settling in and starting to unpack my suitcase in my new room (which would become Liza’s room not long after I leave). By that night I had already met one of their extended family members, because we ate dinner at Papi Andre’s house! Papi Andre is the grandfather of Ludovic, therefore being rather elderly, but he is still in really good form for his age! Over the holidays I got to see him just about every Wednesday because that’s what he’s been doing for years to keep Amandine company while she has no work Wednesday afternoons.

The first full day with my host family was nice and interesting. Ludovic worked just about the whole summer, so I spent a lot of time with Amandine and the three children. This day I got to see the cute country town where they live, which isn’t made up of much. The town is called Coutiches, and because there aren’t many things to see we would often go to other towns to do the shopping and things like that. Coutiches is about 20km away from Lille (I think), so I got to visit Lille a few times, and the first time was the 12th of July. We spent the afternoon window shopping with a couple of Amandine’s friends, and I bought two shirts to go with my beautiful floral pants. Lille is quite a nice town! There is a lot to see, a lot of people, and the buildings are really striking. That night I met more of the family, as Ludovic’s father and his wife came over for dinner. It was a nice evening, and I did the haka for them (somehow rugby always pops up with the French).

That weekend we took a trip further north to the sea! Ludovic’s mother (or Mamie) lives in a beach village where she lives a pleasant retired life teaching dance. Over that weekend we saw many different towns by the sea, and I got to see some of the Northern French life. I’m pretty bad with remembering names of things, but two names of towns that I remember going to are Montreuil and Berck. The only problem with the weekend was that it rained all weekend and it was very cold, which wasn’t very great considering it should have been summer weather, and I was sick again! During that weekend I learned this French card game –which seemed to be extremely difficult at the time- called Belote! I hadn’t really understood completely how to play, but I joined in and learnt has we went. It was quite a fun way to spend time with the family. That weekend I saw Madagascar 3 with Mathys and Noah, which I thought would be horrible, but it was actually quite hilarious and I liked it better than the second. I just hope they don’t bring out a fourth one. Damn animation film directors who think everyone wants five movies of one thing- where do you get your diluted ideas from?! That Monday it was time to go home to Coutiches, but the boys stayed with their Mamie for another week.

That week began the search for the family’s new car. Because I was a new arrival in the family, they realised that they needed a much bigger car when it comes to journeys and such as what we were about to do for the summer holidays. I visited many French car lots for about two weeks, including one in Belgium (yep, we just drove to Belgium for an afternoon to look at cars). That week I also discovered the French reality show known as L’amour est dans le Pré which is about farmers trying to find love. They basically have speed dates with a number of people, and then choose two to spend a few days with them at their farm. Later on (if it all goes well) they finally decide on one or the other to stay at that person’s house for another few days, and then they get an all-paid romantic vacation together. It’s so cheesy, I know! But it’s just so hilarious and addictive. I stopped watching after the summer holidays, but it’s still going (I think), and the man I found the most hilarious just recently got married, so the show’s at least a success. That week I met Amandine’s mother and her husband, as well as Amandine’s sister and her boyfriend. With Amandine’s sister, we actually went to the French takeout restaurant ‘Quick’, which was pretty delicious.

That Sunday the noise was back! Yes, Mathys and Noah were finished with their stay at Mamie’s, but when she dropped the boys off, Mamie also picked Liza up! This meaning that while the boys went to their holiday programme at school during the week, Amandine and I had peace and quiet to do things together. On Monday we painted the bathroom, had good chats, and watched a lot of Private Practice. Tuesday was a very fun day! We had a picnic in the forest with Perrine (Amandine’s sister), Bastian (Perrine’s boyfriend), and the father of Amandine. After that, we said goodbye to Perrine and Bastian and went for a walk to get to the memorial park of Vimy, which is a Canadian territory dedicated to the soldiers of World War I. That was a really beautiful day, and when I put my photos up you’ll see the photo of me standing in front of a huge, white stone sculpture- that’s attributed to the soldiers! That Wednesday Amandine and Ludovic finally chose their new car! On Thursday I started running again with Amandine! It was somewhat a fail, but as we continued throughout the holidays we got better and better until we did it every two days. That Thursday Mamie brought Liza back as well. Then it was Friday the 27th of July, meaning the opening ceremony of the Olympics! This meaning that for the next two weeks I would plant myself in front of the TV to regard just about as many games as possible.

The next two weeks were pretty fun and relaxing, and it involved a lot of Olympic watching. I went to a birthday party, visited the Musée de Roubaix, watched a few French films, visited a cool Safari park in Belgium, got a haircut (scarily done by a razor), baked, skyped, and went running a lot. One awesome thing that we did was go to Bruges! My gosh, that town has to now be one of my favourite places in the world. Here they call it ‘Little Venice’, and they’re right! The scenery is beautiful and calm, and we ate quite a bit of chocolate! Definitely an ace place to go, I recommend it to anyone who wants to do a trip of La France and La Belgique! When it was near the end of the Olympics, we started to get ready for our big holidays as a family!

Saturday the 11th of August, we were on the road for Bretagne! Yes, that’s right. In mind, we were hoping for beautiful weather during the next two weeks, though we knew it would be pretty difficult to have the sun stay the entire time. We were staying at a family camp called ‘Ocean Breton’ which based around two pools and a bar where there would often be evening discos. The staff would offer different activities for everyone to join in, so we participated in a few, such as the aqua gym and a bike tramp. I really enjoyed this holiday. We celebrated Liza’s second birthday by taking a day trip to Concarneau (if you remember, I went there earlier this year), and there we ate delicious galettes and crepes, and did a lot of window shopping in the old village. We visited many different towns in Bretagne during our stay there. We saw Guillvinec, Quimper, Brest, Pont l’Abbé, and a few others that I forgot the name of. Brest is right to the west of France, so we took a day trip there to visit a great aquarium called ‘Oceanopolis’, which was very interesting. Quimper was a large town of Bretagne that I liked very much so. We did a lot of shopping there, and I bought myself a new silver ring with the triskele symbol on it. The triskele is a celtic symbol representing water, wind, fire and earth. I find it pretty and interesting, and whenever I look at my ring I think about how I’ve had such an amazing time here in France. In Bretagne we ate a lot of crepes, played a lot of Belote (I’m now really good at it, and I’m keen to teach everyone at home), tried many different sweets typical to Bretagne, swam in the pool as much as possible, shopped around, and just enjoyed our time together. On Friday the 24th of August, it was time to go home, so we left after lunch, and was on the road until one in the morning.

That Sunday Amandine, the boys and I went to Disneyland together! What a time we had! There were still some rides that I hadn’t gone on the last time, so while Amandine and the boys went on a few rides that didn’t interest me I got to go on rides like Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Indiana Jones. Amandine bought all three kids something from the toy stores, and I bought myself a Goofy hat and a Disneyland pin. It was an extremely fun but tiring day, which I absolutely loved. Sometime soon STS is planning a trip to Disneyland with the other students staying in France, but I am not going to go because I’ve already gone twice, and I think by then the magic will run out! So I’m really glad that I’ve already been there two times because I don’t know when I’ll be back, and I’m an incredibly blessed girl to have such opportunities in my life. The next week was my last one with the Lion family! We had a party on Wednesday to truly celebrate Liza’s birthday with Mamie, Papi, Amandine’s parents, and Ludovic’s brother Nicholas. It was a really enjoyable evening, and it was good to see their extended family for the last time. On Thursday Amandine, the kids and I took an afternoon to go to a town called Le Quesnoy. Le Quesnoy is the only fortified town left in France, and there is a beautiful memorial for the soldiers of New Zealand! My mum sent a few books to us in the hopes that the children would learn a bit of English and learn about NZ, and one of the books was about how we Kiwis saved Le Quesnoy in World War I! The book has beautiful illustrations, and it was really cool seeing it in real life. I’m happy we went there.

So, that Saturday, the time came. I packed and cleaned up all morning, and by that afternoon I was all ready to leave for the train station in Lille to make my way back to Laval. To my adoptive summer family I waved goodbye through the window as the train started to take off, and I knew that I was ready for the second half of my year to begin. All in all I loved my summer. I’ve now seen more things in a few months than many people have in their whole lives, and I have no regrets. I got to see a whole different part of France, and I got a real change of families, seeing what a young Northern family is like. I travelled heaps, saw more of Belgium than I thought I would, and I met heaps of people, some who I will never forget. The children from the Lion family were crazy, and at the beginning we had said that they would learn a lot of English, but in truth they learnt very little. I don’t think that mattered though, they can always learn a language later on when they’re more mature. What mattered is that they got to spend a summer with someone different, someone from the other side of the world, with new ideas and things to show them. Amandine has told me that she is very happy that I was with her during the holidays, she says that she had someone to keep her company and give her a push to do things she wouldn’t have done.

I’ll tell you one amazing thing that has come out of these holidays: I’m starting to think in French! I’ve also started listening to some French musicians like Vanessa Paradis, Christophe Maé, and M. I also really love a Canadian singer called Coeur de Pirate. So, how about that? Here’s to hoping that I’ll barely be able to speak English when I get home!

Well, that is definitely all for now. My next post will be all about what has been happening since I came home to Laval, and what I’ve been doing while I should have been writing these blog posts for you all. I hope you are happily well-informed now! I wish you all a very good mid-spring!

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Guess who’s back, back again? Ailish’s back, tell a friend. Guess who’s back? Guess who’s back? Guess who’s back? Dun nah nah, nah nah…
Now that I’ve successfully gotten Eminem in your head, I think it’s time to get on with this long post that I’ve been putting off for a while. You have no idea how hard this is to write. After three months of no rhythm whatsoever – this including my journal, which has suffered immensely – it is time I finally tell you how I’m doing, and what I’ve been doing!

To make this easier for everyone, I’m going to turn this summer into three chapters. I’m not going to go by month, but more like sections of my holidays. I guess you’ll understand what I’m talking when you read them. I figured I’m going to be even more persuaded to procrastinate if I try to make this a one chapter/post, so I’ll work my fingers away on this good old English keyboard to keep you up to date! Didn’t understand what I was saying about an ‘English’ keyboard? Well that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t written to you in months- I didn’t have my laptop with me! Of course, whenever you’re on someone else’s computer it doesn’t feel comfortable, nor do you want to spend too much time on it, but what is even worse here is that I’ve been using a French computer! Yep, and the keys are not at all the same. It does make it easier to type in French, but it’s not always helpful when you can’t seem to find the ‘@’ button and it turns out you have to hit three keys just to get to it. So, I’m sorry for all of those who have been going mad not hearing news from me- the magic of Europe and France just got to me.

Without further ado, welcome to my first three weeks of my 2012 summer holidays!

Tuesday 19th June is where we begin the story. An early start to the day in my host father’s parents’ Parisian apartment, and my host mother (Ségolène- if you remember her name) and I make our way on the RER to Charles de Gaulle airport so that I can catch my 10am plane. We find the place to validate my boarding pass, and then wait at the meeting point for my friend, Tineke (from New Zealand and staying in France with STS as well) who will be taking the same flight as me. Ségolène and Tineke have a coffee at one of the many airport cafes, and then Ségolène and I wish each other the best for the next few months. Everything goes according to plan, and just before entering the plane, Tineke and I find Mamiaw (from Thailand) who we had been trying to find but couldn’t until that point. The flight is as good as a flight can be, I meet an interesting woman from the United States and we have a good chat, so once we’ve left the plane and we have to say goodbye, she gives me a hug (so sweet, right?). Mamiaw, Tineke and I meet each other just outside the aeroplane, and by this time it is 12pm and we have officially arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark! We find our way to the youth hostel, and that’s where we meet most of the group! In our STS Europe Tour we have 13 Australians, 7 New Zealanders, 2 Canadians, one Thai, one Taiwanese, one Chinese, one Ecuadorian, 2 Italians, and our 3 Swedish leaders (Anne, Farida, and P.O. (the chauffeur). These statistics obviously mean that during the Tour one must be deaf to not hear prominent Australian and Kiwi accents from the left, right and centre. In fact, having Australians and Kiwis together means a lot of accent comparing, and my Australian friend Veronica makes sure to criticise my accent at every chance she gets.

Copenhagen! We spend the afternoon and the next morning getting to know this vibrant, Scandinavian city! While there isn’t much to go see in Copenhagen, you can easily spend your time strolling through the streets, looking at stores, and taking in the positive, touristic energy of the town. The first night I had the pleasure in participating in a Scottish comedian’s street performance, as he lay shirtless on a bed of glass while a large man stood on his stomach I had to be the support of the large man. You may have seen the photos I was tagged in on Facebook- it was pretty scary but hilarious. The next day we all hopped on the Tour bus for the first time, and drove towards Germany! I’m going to be honest with you: I didn’t really enjoy Germany. We spent two nights and one and a half days there, and I was blatantly disappointed. The morning after we arrived was spent in the bus with a tour guide, driving around Berlin, and I found the history interesting but the town itself much too modern and much too miserable. We took a stop at the Berlin wall and the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, and at the end of the tour we were dropped off at Check Point Charlie Museum. A lot of the others agreed with me in saying that the museum had much too information to read and not enough room to reflect upon what it was all about. In fact, I still don’t have any idea as to what the museum was about- there were just too many paragraphs on the walls that I read the information without registering it into my brain. After the museum, we had time to eat lunch and go souvenir shopping, and then it was off to a Concentration Camp! Of course having overcast weather did not help with the mood at all, and so the visit was just a big ball of depression. It was a Working Camp, so it wasn’t as depressing as it could be, because I’ve heard that Extermination Camps stay in your memories forever, but it was as still as morbid as any Concentration could be. Of course I took only one photo, because I thought it would be inappropriate to go all out.

Next day, and we were on the road again! We made two more stops in Germany, which I actually really liked; Spreewald being a cute little German village where we took a boat ride on the beautiful river, and Dresden being a magnificent, historical town that we got to saw in the blaring hot sun (meaning that we bought some delicious, cheap ice creams). That evening we arrived in Prague, Czech Republic! Believe it or not: that was one of my favourite places we went to on tour! Our day in Prague was a busy, crazy, fun day! Taking the tram and then the metro that morning, we got to central Prague! Just outside of the metro station, we were met by our city guide who took us on an hour’s tour and told us a great bit about the history of the city. Everything about Prague was absolutely beautiful, ancient and mystical. I’m really happy that Prague was in the Europe Tour; because otherwise I would’ve never visited it and never seen what wonders had awaited me. That day I hung out with my Kiwi friends - Tineke, Monique, Tara, Amy – and my Australian friend Veronica (and at one point we were with two other Australians- Brooke and Ellen). For lunch we had traditional Czech food at a restaurant, and then we had some delicious Prague pastries. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and hot, so from doing a lot of walking we were exhausted by the end of the day. Being exhausted made it hard for us to get the energy to go to the largest dance club in Europe, but we went that night anyway! Of course, I thought it would be more amazing than it was, but the music was pretty terrible and it was really hard to dance to, so I came to the conclusion that I don’t like clubbing.

Nekk day we moved on to Vienna, Austria!! Arriving at midday, we set off to do what we wanted until 4pm, so we decided to eat a balanced lunch at McDonald’s. This meaning I could eat a rainbow-filled Mars Bar McFlurry. At 4pm we all met by the cathedral to take a horse carriage ride through Vienna! That was an awesome way to begin our visit! That night for dinner we went to a town called Grinzing to eat at a cute little restaurant where we ate schnitzel and enjoyed the music of some Austrian performers. A full day ahead of us, and we could do whatever we wanted, so what did my Kiwi friends and I do? We got lost in Vienna! For lunch we ate some Austrian treats from a bakery and criticised them as if we were Masterchef judges, and then we visited the Butterfly House of Vienna! It was a very pretty and serene place where you can see many different types of flowers and butterflies (I guess it was like what Butterfly Creek in Auckland would be like). That night was a fun-filled evening as we went to the well-known ‘Prater’ which is an amusement park that you don’t pay for the entry but for each ride. It was fairly expensive, but we enjoyed it nevertheless! Heading off early in the morning – it was always early, like 8 or 7am – we arrived in Budapest by lunchtime! That afternoon with my group of kiwi friends plus Veronica, we took a walk through the town and found the indoor market! Everything was so interesting and cheap, so we bought a zillion things! After lunch and a bit of shopping, we strolled over the bridge which looked over the Danube. We took some photos, hung out a bit, and discovered the beauty of Hungary. Once we’d gotten to our Hungarian hotel, we ate dinner and I went on my first ever run with Tara! Figure that, I started to run in the holidays! We left that hotel in the morning to stay the next night in Balaton which was one of my preferred towns of the trip, and my favourite hotel of all! The day was spent at a farm where we watched a “Puszta” show (a horse show) and ate a traditional Hungarian meal! That night was probably the best moment of the whole tour. I ate an ice cream for dinner, Amy, Tara, Tineke and I went running, we took a swim in the hotel’s pool, and then hung out in the hotel’s sauna with a large percentage of the STS group. Of course we had the funniest of conversations in the sauna, but as well as some meaningful discussions between us. That night was such a great bonding time between a lot of us, and I think most of us appreciated getting some down time to just talk about anything.

A day on the bus! The day was cut in the middle, as we got to visit the Postojna caves in Slovenia (which gave me many ideas for my future novels), and by that evening we had arrived in Lido di Jesolo in Italy! Taking a ferry the first thing next morning from Lido to Venice, we landed in one of the most beautiful cities in the world to be greeted by clear skies and intense humidity. My. Gosh. I don’t really want to explain to you how amazing that place is because I don’t think I would do it justice! I’m sure many of the films you’ve seen have given you some ideas (don’t count The Tourist because I really don’t like that movie). Let’s just say there’s no way I’m not going back! The only problem is that there were too many people. We basically spent the whole day shopping for masks, and of course we ate some pizza and gelatos for lunch. That evening as a goodbye to the two Italians in the group (Kiara and Lorenzo) we went to the beach in Lido and played some fun games, and went swimming in the amazingly warm sea. The next day was such a great day. We could wake up when we wanted, do what we wanted, and be with who we wanted in Lido di Jesolo. I took this opportunity to sleep in and miss breakfast (as did most people), we went shopping (I bought those amazing, floral pants), go swimming at the hotel pool, ate pizza for lunch, and hung out on the beach, where we hired paddle boats! ITALY IS SO GOOD. More bus time, and we had driven to Switzerland the next day! Zermatt: a town without cars, and what a beautiful town it is! Situated in a Youth Hostel among many other hotels and chalets, our bedroom window faced Mt. Toblerone, but because of the fog we couldn’t see the mountains. The weather in Switzerland was the worst that we got during the tour, but in a way it was the best. It was freezing, raining and foggy practically the whole time, but I found that it made everything prettier and that the air was so fresh and clean. The day we spent in Zermatt we went tramping in the mountains, but because it was too cold and Tineke, Amy, Mamiaw and I were too slow we all retreated earlier than the others and took hot showers at the youth hostel. We then went souvenir shopping in the village where I bought an engraved Swiss army knife! The day we left Zermatt the sun was shining and the sky was clear, and right outside our window was Mt. Toblerone saying ‘Guten Morgen’ to everyone!

More driving and we got to Paris!! I’m going to be pretty brief with you on this part of the trip, because I’m pretty sure you’re all familiar with Paris (and will be even more informed by the end of this year, as I’m going there two more times). The hotel we stayed in was in a not-so-ideal suburb of Paris, and so we had horrible rooms and really bad customer service. I did not enjoying staying there- especially by the fact that we stayed there for three nights! First day in Paris was pretty scary, to say the least. The morning was spent on a bus tour looking at the big sights of Paris (I fell asleep, I was too tired and already knew the history anyway), and then spent the rest of the day doing what we want. With Veronica, Monique, Brooke and Ellen we went to the Catacombs of Denfer Rochereau, ate some good old French cuisine for lunch, did souvenir shopping, saw the Shakespeare Library/store, and had no time to go to the Louvre (which is what I had been wanting to see forever). That evening everyone met up at Montmartre (you know? The Sacre Coeur) to eat dinner in a little restaurant, and then we drove to the Eiffel Tower to climb it at night! It even sparkled while we were standing on it. The next day was spent in Disneyland! It’s pretty clear that that was a magical day! We went on many rides, ate many delicious things, and got to see the Disney parade! After leaving the dodgy hotel the next day, we had another day on the bus, cut in the middle by a little trip in Brussels (where we ate fries and waffles) before arriving in Amsterdam! We spent the afternoon in a cheese and clog factory (where I bought cheese and clogs), and then we got to the best Youth Hostel we had had on the whole trip. The only problem was that that night I accidentally made my favourite necklace (the Chert one) fall and smash- not a fun night. We spent the next morning in the Anne Frank museum where we walked into the ‘Annexe’ and got to see exactly what it was like when her and her family were in hiding! It was really interesting. The rest of day was saved for doing whatever we wanted. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the Red Light District because we were bad with directions- I guess that gives me a reason to return. Instead we went shopping, and I ate some Dutch drop and stroopwafel! That afternoon we took a boat tour on the river, but I didn’t really listen to the information they were giving about Amsterdam and instead just enjoyed the scenery. ! The sun was shining bright that day, and the river was so beautiful, so I really enjoyed being in such a pretty town with some really interesting architecture.

Only a few days remained after Holland, and the day after Amsterdam we drove back to Denmark. In the trip from the Netherlands to Denmark I slept for 3 hours on the bus, which was very satisfying! For the next two nights we stayed in cabins of 8 at a Water Park resort called Lalandia. In those cabins we made our own lunches and dinners at the little kitchenette. Our last day together was pretty casual. We ate a big lunch together in the central part of Lalandia, and then could split off to do whatever we want, so I went back to my cabin and slept (yeah, I never got a sufficient amount of sleep on that tour), ate some lunch, and then that afternoon we hit the pools! It was pretty great; they had cold pools, hot pools, and two slides. Of course it wasn’t mega Water Park like they’d have in the USA, but it was quite a nice place to spend the last day in. That night was a part-ay! Everyone gathered together in one of the cabins and we truly put on a wild soiree! Junk food, loud music, funny games, and everyone signing everyone’s red STS t-shirts, a great way to finish an amazing three weeks. We packed everything up the next morning, hopped on the bus, and made our way back to Copenhagen and the hostel we had first arrived at to meet everyone. I stayed another night before taking my flight back to France, but a lot of people left then and there- so obviously some tears were involved (not from me funnily enough- I don’t seem to be able to cry as easily nowadays). The next day it was over. Everything had ended. It was time to go back to France and go on a train to the north of France, but that’s for next time…

So, the things I won’t forget from the Europe tour?

  • The bus- all our games, music (Ed Sheeran playing non-stop), sleep, movies, and random facts taught by P.O. The bus is where everything happened.
  • Late-night McDonald’s meal with Siv and Hank in Switzerland.
  • Singing at just about every place we went to.
  • Eating so much junk food I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a vegetable.
  • Veronica’s and my never-ending midnight conversation in Prague.
  • Eating one and a half pizzas in Lalandia, and still feeling hungry.

That trip was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done, and I don’t think it’s something I could ever forget, but of course it’s always those little, random things that stay in your head.

Okay, well that’s it for now, I’ll continue with my recount of the holidays soon!

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Bonjour/Bonsoir mes amis, comment allez-vous? Fait-il mauvais là-bas, ou ca va? Okay, I’m stopping with the French now because I know that it’s just pointless in Google translating this entire first paragraph. Well, here we are: the end of the year. Whoa, whoa whoa… Wait a minute! It is not the end of the year! Oh, I’m sorry I got you confused, Thought Ailish, it’s not December yet! I was talking about the end of the school year for all of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Yep, I finished yesterday! But I’ll talk about that soon. In the meantime, I just wanted to make the remark that I’ve now been in France for five months, which is the freakiest thing ever. I’m not joking; almost half a year has passed- is that even possible? Apparently so. I’m not going to make this post very long at all, so I’m sorry if you were excited to hear from me (I have no idea why you would be).

Two weekends ago we had some visitors stay! They were a couple that Ségolène knew through work, and they’d decided to come see the house and do some kayaking. So that Sunday, at 10 in the morning, the four of them got ready and left for a day’s trip down the Mayenne River. You’re wondering why I didn’t go? Well, you obviously don’t know me well enough if you’re asking that. I actually would have loved to do the day’s trip kayaking, but it was physically impossible. That week Jean and I had hired a double kayak for an hour to see how I could cope, and you guessed it- I failed. After just an hour’s work my shoulders were burning from the pain. I am extremely weak, there you are. So that Sunday, after a great long Skype chat with my mum’s extended family, I threw on my sneakers and went for a bike ride alongside the Mayenne River. I had left three quarters of an hour later than the others, but it took me about fifteen minutes to catch up. It was a very pleasant day. I rode back and forth peacefully, stopping every time the kayakers had to pass through a lock. We got to our lunch destination of Entrammes, and Marguerite drove out to meet us and bring the food. We ate couscous with saucisse briochée that Ségolène and I had prepared the afternoon before- my gosh, so good. Once we’d finished eating, I biked backed to Laval by myself, while the others continued to kayak for another good two hours. All in all, I think I biked about 20k- good effort, right?

Last weekend I took the Friday off and we went to Normandy! That was really nice. We stayed at the family holiday home of Ségolène and Jean’s good friends. The weather was horribly cold and windy, but Saturday gifted us with a sunny, warm day- so we went on a walk! For about an hour and a half we hiked a path along the coast to look at the beautiful sea view. We didn’t do much in Normandy, just took some strolls, went to the markets; saw a great big lifeboat, as well as a place where woman would wash their laundry in the olden days. That Sunday we had to get home before 7pm so that Ségolène and Jean could vote for the elections! Yes, more rounds of elections. It’s a loooo-ooong process.

What have I been doing during my school weeks? Not much, haha. Well, as it’s the end of the school year, for a couple of weeks we had to do several tests for different classes, so I took part in that (even though I didn’t finish one). Not only that, but this Tuesday we had a concert for music! It was pretty cool. Tiphaine, Anna and I performed a song where I sang and played guitar, while the other two rapped. Then our music class performed a piece from Schubert. Lastly, the choir performed (and I’m in the choir), and we sung about five songs, including: ‘I Will Follow Him’ and ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’. As it was the end of the year, everyone has been getting crazy this week. For Terminal (Year 13), their last day was Tuesday, so nearly all of them were dressed in crazy costumes and ran around the entire day singing, pulling pranks, and interrupting classes- it was funny. Premiere (Year 12) finished the Wednesday, leaving us in Seconde (Year 11) to have an awesome day to ourselves. We took a break dance class, played volleyball, Petanque, and watched Juno! So that was a really nice way to end school.

What does this ‘end of the year’ mean for me? It means that the majority of the awesome exchange students I’ve met will be leaving within the next month, and I will be left waiting to meet the new arrivals in September. It’s really sad to see them to all leave, especially Manon, who I’ve had a real connection with. The ‘end of the year’ also means that it’s the summer! Yaya. Blue sky days here I come! The days are much longer here, and the sun goes down at 10:15pm most nights. The fruit here is so good, but because the weather’s been pretty temperamental lately, the produce hasn’t been as good as it could be. Summer also means holidays- holidays until the 4th of September (I will go back to school as a Premiere student in Laval)! Wow. Now you probably want to know what I’m going to do, well- a lot of things. This Tuesday I’m off to Copenhagen for a three week Europe tour with my exchange program! Awesome, right? We’ll be seeing many great European cities, such as: Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Venice, Zermatt, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam! This is extremely exciting. On July 11th I get back to France, but I don’t get back to my family. In fact, I’m going to live with a new family until September in the Ardennes. I have no idea who they are yet, but we’ll find out I guess! As you can see, I’m going to be very busy during the holidays, so I’m not going to have a lot of access or time to go on the internet and tell you all about what I’m up to. I will try and take some time to find an internet café at points, and then when I’m in my new family I may be allowed to use their internet, but I’m not promising. Basically I just wanted to let y’all know that this will be my last real post until September. I hope you won’t miss me too much, haha.

That’s it, I guess. I’ll see you around. I hope everyone has fantastic winters!

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

What happens when you don’t want to write your blog post? You write it anyway… Yeah, it’s gotten to that point when reality is now better than dreams/the internet/books. Okay, maybe not books… because let’s admit it, who wouldn’t want to live in the world of Harry Potter? What I mean to say is that while we will never live in Narnia, the wizard world or Panem (woops, sorry, didn’t mean to put that one in, Panem would be a horrible fictional realm to live in), I can definitely say my life is as magical enough without it having to be fictional. If you’re wondering why, there’s no real reason. I mean, isn’t it enough that I’m in France? I’m not gonna go into a big explanation of why my weeks have treated me so well, I just feel really good to be here and in this moment. Maybe it’s the summer feeling in the air… Oh that’s right, today’s the first of June, so does that mean that we’re officially in summer? No, I guess it isn’t until school finishes, making it summer in two weeks…

We’re we said goodbye last I was complaining about how sick I was, right? Of course it was, Ailish, remember when no one read your blog post? It was because you were being annoying. Yeaup. I’m better everyone! Just sniffing here and there, so it’s all good. No, I didn’t think it was going to be deadly, and I knew it wouldn’t last too long. I probably exaggerated in my last post, and if I did then that’s not really how I was feeling, I’m not usually the exaggerator. (Lol, how would I even know…?) Sorry for rambling on and on, I am going to make this post shorter because evidently y’all are getting tired of having to hear from me, so I’ll just tell you important/fun facts about my life!

The weekend of my flu we went to Brittany! If you have no idea where or what that is, it’s a large west region of France, but you can just Google it, right? We went to a little seaside town called Concarneau, where we stayed from Saturday morning until Sunday night at the nice beach-themed house of their friends. We took nice seaside strolls, saw Concarneau’s grand and famous boats, and just chilled around talking. I also got to see a French comedy show called ‘Les Deschiens’ that mocks the more simple people who live in the countryside to the west of France. It was pretty hilarious. Not much happened between that weekend and the last, to be honest. Wow, time goes by with the blink of an eye! Last Friday night I attended the birthday party of my good friend, Manon. I don’t know if you remember her, but she’s another exchange student from USA who came to France with Rotary. She and I are pretty close now. It was a pretty pumping party; I met a few other foreigners from Rotary (including a fellow Kiwi). We ate a delicious array of Mexican food all made by Manon, danced to a million and one songs, and then sung Karaoke at a local bar. It was just a good time with good people.

The next morning I was off to Angers! I stayed the weekend with Blandine (older host sister) and her boyfriend Julien. Julien took me to have a look around Angers that Saturday, and I got to see its castle and cathedral, which was nice. We picked Blandine up from work that night, and then headed off for the seaside. About two hours or less and we had arrived at a small beach town where Julien’s parents own a batch. The Sunday we basked in the beautiful sun, lazing around before making an afternoon visit to Pornic! You may recall, I went to Pornic in February with my friend Anna for a day’s trip, so yeah… It was the same as I remembered it, except the weather was beautiful this time. I ate their strawberry sorbet with coffee ice cream from their famous strawberry store, so that’s a tick off my list, haha. (Don’t bother wondering what my list is, there is none, it’s just a nonexistent reference that works for effect) That night Blandine and Julien’s old school friends came to stay and chill with us, they were pretty funny and nice. We stayed up till four in the morning playing Trivial Pursuit- win! Because it was Pentecostal Sunday we had the Monday off, so I got home that evening.

This week’s been pretty nice and calm. The weather is amazingly beautiful and sunny ALL the time! I guess y’all are jealous right about now. On Tuesday, I took a day’s trip to Nantes with my Litterature et Sociétéclass to take a guided architectural tour of a part of the town and see a Memorial dedicated to the abolition of slavery. To be honest, it wasn’t that interesting. I’m not saying the abolition of slavery isn’t interesting- because it is, it was that I didn’t find the architecture very intriguing and the memorial was pretty average (it was just a long strip of different quotes, not one photo). It didn’t really matter though, it wasn’t all that bad.

Things that have happened to me this week:

  1. I understood and liked most of my classes.
  2. My friend Manon introduced me to the world of anime and manga.
  3. I came to the realisation that I am beginning to be sporty and active. (Are we even talking about Ailish now? Yep… weirdly enough)
  4. I got a new bakini! Do you even care?
  5. Last but not least (well, actually, He should always come first), I read from ‘Jesus Calling’ the most awesome concept! It’s the idea that we should ‘put on’ and ‘wear’ God when we get up in the morning, meaning to open our eyes onto the day with the Holy Spirit’s way of thinking. For the preparation of each day, just like we put on clothes, we need to be clothed in the Holy Spirit. I don’t know, I found that such an awesome way of taking God’s relationship and making it the main thing in one’s life.

Tonight we ate dinner with Ségolène’s sister and Marguerite. Ségolène’s sister is just staying for the night, but Marguerite is staying for the whole weekend to work, so it’s nice to have her around (even if she is in her room often). It’s so hot here; I’m nearly dying from the heat, but not quite. It’s often thirty degrees, so yeah, ouch. Two more weeks of school and then vacances! Yeah, boy.

Hope that winter doesn’t make you too depressed.

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

I really wanted to begin today’s post in typing: ‘rfcvnjkrngjfkcnfjkdncjfkkjnfrgjurfn’, but I thought that would be improper. But then again, it is my blog and I can do what I want with it. If you hadn’t the clue (in which I’m assuming you do, after seeing the title of this post), I don’t feel particularly good. Don’t worry yourselves, it’s not homesickness/loneliness/anger or anything like that, it’s more physical. I shall inform you soon, but maybe we should start at the beginning of the past two weeks. Wow, that’s crazy. Two weeks has already passed? I hadn’t noticed! Okay, here we go, allons y!

As y’all might recall, two weekends ago we had the second –and exciting- round of the French elections! All up there are four rounds, which I find bizarre and way too long to be honest, but I guess that’s how a Republic works. My, my, my! France now has a new president! I’m sure you’ve all seen the headlines. In fact, Francois Hollande just had a big meet and greet with Barrack Obama, so that’s cool. Yah, I don’t really know what to say… You probably all have your opinions, and I’m not really good with politics, so I wouldn’t know if I personally like him or not. Everyone around me is ecstatic by the fact that he’s been elected, so I just take their points of view. By the sounds of it, Nicholas Sarkozy hasn’t kept many of his promises or done much for France, so I think a new president might me be a nice, fresh change. Or as Francois Hollande says: “Le changement, c’est maintenant!” But don’t take my thoughts for anything; I’m so terrible with all that smart stuff.

That Sunday Ségolène and Jean took me to largest dairy museum in the world! It was pretty awesome- and it was in Laval! They’re pretty proud. We got taken on a two hour guide through the museum, getting to see how different dairy products are made (and in depth-camembert), watching a film about the worldwide dairy production, and taking a look at traditional dairy tools. It sounds like an odd way to spend an afternoon, but it was very interesting. I took no photos unfortunately. That night four friends came over to eat dinner around the television and watch the presidential results and commentaries. Once Francois Hollande was announced the champagne bottle was popped, and everyone let out relieved cheers. It was a pleasant evening, everyone was in a light mood, we ate a lot, and I got to impress everyone with my pizza making skills (Chorizos + capsicum + mushroom + goat’s cheese + grated cheese + pizza sauce= epic combination). We got another Tuesday off (booyah), so I got to have a sleep-in and chill out. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very pleasant, so I watched a bit of TV. Segolene got me to watch a French 60’s musical film called Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, which was very beautifully made. The next day, after my two hours of lessons, I got home to get ready for my big outing! Okay, it wasn’t a big outing, but it was really fun! That Wednesday (9th May) was the France release of Dark Shadows! So, me being the obsessed Tim Burton fan, I wanted to go to the first session. I met up with my exchange student friends as well as my French friends; we ate kebabs for lunch, and then saw the film! I loved it. But maybe I’m biased… It was an awesome outing anyway.  

Last weekend was quite something, as it was the festival of Les 3 Elephants! That is a great music festival held in Laval for different musicians to play at free or paying venues during the weekend! Most of the musicians were pretty unknown, underground or whatever- except The Ting Tings! That was awesome. I didn’t go see them, but it was cool that they came. The only concert I went to was on Friday night with my American friend, Manon. We saw a band called Puzzle in a cramped in bar. They were a pretty awesome rock band who played without a singer, and with songs 7 or 12 minutes long. I bought their EP. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to go to any other concerts, but I was busy on Saturday and lazy on Sunday. That Saturday I had a rendezvous with the other STS students in Angers at 12pm! I was really excited to see everyone again after four months. Of course it wasn’t everyone as such, but most people could make it. We ate lunch at a restaurant, chatted in French, moved on to speaking in English because it was easier, and at the end of the meal said goodbye to Laurent (our STS area representative) to spend our afternoon doing whatever we wanted. Well, guess what we did? We participated in Anger’s Gay parade! The weather was beautiful and everyone was having so much fun- it felt like summer already! Let me get to this week and why I’m not feeling too good.

Monday and Tuesday were normal school days, no need to go into detail. Unless you want me to… because I can. Just ask, it’s as simple as that. On Wednesday I went on another trip to Angers with a group of students from school! We went to a great big Journalism Conference where we each sat in on two long debates. The two that my school attended were on International Journalism and Censoring. It should have been interesting for me, but to be honest they were way too long and I just switched my French mind off. Because this weekend is a long weekend (The weekend of the Ascension- it’s catholic), a good friend of Jean and Ségolène stayed over from Tuesday night until this morning (Friday). She lives one of the Mountain regions, so she brought over the most AMAZING cheese! My gosh, I don’t know how I’m going to be able to live without French cheese when I go back to New Zealand.

And now we come to why I don’t ship shape. Thursday morning I woke up having a stinging throat, a runny nose, a head ache and throbbing ears. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? I spent the day in bed, coming out only to eat lunch and play cards (we played the card version of Rummikub). The others went on an outing to see a castle and an abbey (they couldn’t find the castle in the end), while I had to rest my head and watch Momento on my laptop. That is an amazing movie, by the way. If you’re a fan of Christopher Nolan and haven’t yet seen it, I recommend that you do! This morning I woke up feeling no better. In fact, I felt even worse, considering that I woke myself up vomiting at 7.30am! So much fun. And I think Jean had bought croissants for breakfast, but I wouldn’t know because I threw up a second time the next hour, therefore meaning I had to stay in bed until 12.30pm to repose. We were supposed to be leaving this afternoon for Brittany, but we had to postpone it until tomorrow morning because of me. Yaa-aay. I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch, and in the afternoon Ségolène took me to the doctor who told me I had the flu (or grippe in French). He gave us a list of medications to buy at the pharmacy, and his bill was extra because it was a public holiday (face palm). So, now I’m taking pills to stop me from throwing up, pills for my head, medicine for who-knows-what, and this squirter thing to use on my nose. Sorry for the info, I just thought you’d want to know the extent to my sickness. I got straight back to bed when we came home, watched Love and Other Drugs (so average, don’t bother), and re-emerged for dinner where I ate some carrot salad, potatoes and apple sauce. I had made some progress. And we are still going to Brittany tomorrow, so I better finish this, as I leave at 9am. Happy days.

Ciao for now my good old pal (see what I did there?),

Until next time,

Ailish (Ahaha my name totally applies right now- ‘ailment’ meaning sickness, therefore making ‘Ailish’ ‘sickish’. What? You don’t understand? Well, I didn’t like you anyway…)

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Why, hello there! I almost didn’t see you coming, but there you are. Where do we pick up from last time? Well… I had been telling you about my holidays… which means that I’ve now had two weeks of school. Two weeks of school? TWO WEEKS OF SCHOOL? Deux semaines de l’école? How did I manage that? I guess you’ll find out, but first I shall inform you on what happened the weekend before going back to school.

As you may recall, I mentioned in my last post that my host siblings were coming to stay for the weekend! It was quite the blast. Since my stay in France, there hadn’t been a get together with all of the family, so we were really excited for the weekend. Late that Friday night, Marguerite (the younger), Benoit, Grégoire (the older), and Maria all arrived together. I didn’t get to see them, but the next morning when they all eventually awoke I got to say hello. We had a nice lunch, but kept it a humble amount considering the delicious dinner that was to come! Blandine and Julian arrived that afternoon, as Blandine works Saturdays. One side effect of all the children being in the house is that there’s not enough room- so Blandine and Julian took my room, while I slept on a bed mat in the office area of the house. Of course it wasn’t torture, I would never complain about something as little as that and it was for a night- so I ain’t even mad. That Saturday night was a grand event because we celebrated the birthdays of Marguerite and Grégoire! They had had their birthdays at two different points in April, so it was a given that we would make a deal out of it. Ségolène and I brought out the chocolate cake she’d made while singing ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’, and presents were exchanged. If you can tell, the French aren’t completely different from us when it comes to simple things such as birthdays. That evening after dinner, we all sat around for a good hour talking of great French films and it resulted in Ségolène noting down a huge list of films that I must see by the end of the year. The following day, before everyone left home again, we had an amazing barbeque lunch, finished off by the amazing fudge that I had made after my mum’s recipe. It was not a Failish. I can definitely tell y’all that. So, after a good, lazy afternoon, we all said goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. Before I move on, there is awesome news that I should tell you- Grégoire’s wife Maria is pregnant! Yes! And the baby will be born before I leave, so we’re all very excited.

So, again, it was back to French High school for me. My gosh. I mean, okay, I’m exaggerating just a bit, but it’s always so tiring. It hasn’t been too bad, to be honest. The worst is Biology, and PE, both of which I am horrible at. I understand whole lessons of French and History now, it’s pretty sweet. I always found it irritating to look over Anna’s shoulder during class. In the last four months, I haven’t told you much of what I actually do in my school day, so maybe I’ll give you a step by step to briefly explain it to you. Just a tip: all words in quotation marks and italics are the thoughts that I typically have.

A day in the school life of Ailish:

  1. Phone plays ear-splitting music to indicate the inevitable doom of 6:45am. “WHY AM I UNABLE TO CHANGE THIS STUPID RINGTONE?”
  2. Get ready and walk downstairs in half sleep to see my host parents looking five times more awake than me. (…at this point, thoughts refuse to enter brain…)
  3. Eat a good nutritious breakfast of orange juice, some toasted baguette and yoghurt. “foooooooooooooooooood!”
  4. Catch the 7:31am bus that I pick up from across the road. “Why are there so many people?” “Gah, I don’t want to touch the pole… well, it’s either that or embarrassingly fall against someone.”
  5. I then may have two or three hours of lessons, depending on the day. “Quoi?” “Qu’est-ce qu’elle a dit?” “Je connais ce mot!” “Okay, now’s about the time for lunch.” “Mmmm… I’m hungry.” “I wonder what there’ll be for lunch…”
  6. After our morning lessons, we then go to the gate and I wait for about 10 minutes so the others can smoke before eating lunch. “Egh, don’t let that smoke go anywhere near my hair… or my clothes… or me!” “I’m huuuuuuuuungry.”
  7. We then eat at the canteen/cafeteria/whatever. “Omnomnomnomnom”
  8. After lunch, I then have about three more hours of lessons, with maybe a one hour break where I go to the library and read. “I think I ate too much…” “I wonder what’s for dinner…” “This is a really good book! Oh, it’s just like heaven. Wait… it totally resembles that movie.” “These lessons aren’t that bad.” “I might actually be able to take the next test…”
  9. At around 5 or 4pm I finish school and walk into town to take the bus home. “Oh, iPod, your music is magical.”

So, yeah… I think that explains all.

Amazingly, since the last time we talked, I have seen about a trillion movies. So I should probably catch you up on that. Last Sunday the weather was pretty horrid, so Ségolène and I went to the cinema to watch a film called ‘Le Prenom’, which was a pretty typical, hilarious French film. I loved it. On Monday with the year group of Seconde, we all went to the cinema to watch an English film called ‘Fish Tank’… And let’s just say… it wasn’t much to my liking, but I completely understand the ideas that the director wanted to convey. On Tuesday it was May 1st- and that means a public holiday! That day I saw ‘Avengers’ with Tiphaine and her friend, and I’m telling you- if you have not seen this two hour ball of amazingness, you are missing out! Last Thursday Ségolène and I sat down to watch ‘Mammia Mia’, because when she first watched it she hated it so stopped at the middle. In the end, she found it not that bad, but still a bit too cheesy at points. I have also now showed Jean and Ségolène ‘Inception’ and ‘Mr Bean’s Holiday’, and I’m proud to say that they loved them. Last night I had the house to myself, so I turned on a French film called ‘Tanguy’, it was relatively funny and a good watch.

There’s another thing I must tell y’all, and I realised the other day that I hadn’t, so it’s a must! Have any of you wondered how people here get along with pronouncing my name? If you haven’t wondered this, I’m sure you are now. Well, it’s pretty funny to be honest. All French people call me ‘Eye-leesh’. Yep, don’t laugh; it has become a norm for me. I mean, there’s always gonna be frustration with the pronunciation of a name like Ailish, but for the French it’s really difficult. To tell you the truth, when I speak French, I call myself ‘Eye-leesh’ because it flows much easier. Yeah, that’s right, I have a French accent. I actually had a little laugh to myself the other day when a friend of mine corrected a teacher from calling me ‘Ay-leesh’ to ‘Eye-leesh’; it was so sweet and innocent. In my life I’ve never really been annoyed at people pronouncing my name incorrectly; it’s usually my friends who do the correcting. In fact, in Primary School I was always scared to correct the teacher. Don’t be mistaken though, I’m less tolerant now. What I mean to say is that from here now on, if you are speaking to me in French you have every right to call me ‘Eye-leesh’, but if we are speaking English and you are not French I will expect you to call me Ailish like ‘Fail-fish’ without the F’s. Cool? Cool.

As I’ve been living my now accustomed life in France, there’s not much news to share with y’all, just interesting things I find. Because the last two weeks have been relatively calm, I thought I might tell you a bit about the struggle I’m having with my mind. It’s nothing serious, just something that God’s really been helping me with. I had no idea before I came here, but my mind has a little obsession, and that obsession is to dream. I’m not talking about my sleep, I’m talking about daydreaming. I’ve realised lately that I often don’t stay in the present, but linger elsewhere for minutes to nearly hours on end. I always knew that I have great hopes for the future, but I never knew my mind could wander so far for so long. I don’t just dream of the future though, my mind takes me anywhere it wants to go in time and space. What I’ve been truly sensing is that God wants me to start thinking and staying in the present, otherwise this wonderful year that I’ve been blessed with will pass by too quickly and slip through my fingers. It’s also essential in my relationship with God that I stay in His presence, and His presence is in the present. There are so many verses that I have read lately that correspond with what I’m saying, but I think Psalm 118:24 sums it up pretty well: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” It doesn’t say “Tomorrow” or “Yesterday”, it says “Today”, and if I want the innermost joy I must start focusing on and rejoicing in the day that the Lord has made.

Okay, well, you might be fed up with me now; I’ll leave you in peace. This weekend we find out who will be the president of France for the next five years: Nicholas Sarkozy or Francois Hollande? That’s been the sole question on everyone’s mind for the past month or so, so we’re all waiting and hoping. I guess we’ll see!

God bless you all,

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)

Oh gosh, it’s always awkward starting these things; I never know what to say… It’s always the first paragraph that puts me off writing my posts, and then I end up browsing tumblr for hours not realising what time it is, and the next morning I regret it, but the next week I put it off again. Oh great, and now I’m rambling, what is it that I actually wanted to tell you? Hmmm…. Let me think straight… Well, my English is on the brink of dying, so don’t blame me if I have a loss of thought at times. Why don’t I just tell you simply how my holidays have been, is that cool? Cool. Also, I realise how incredibly self centred I can be with these things, it’s like: ‘Hey Ailish, what have you been up to these two weeks?’ ‘Oh, I don’t know Ailish, why don’t you tell me?’ But it’s not like I haven’t tried getting y’all involved in my life, I do often say ‘Message/Ask me stuff’ at the end of my posts, but none of you do it. If you’re reading this and feeling guilty, then I’m speaking directly to you- stop reading this post and message me about your last two weeks. Hey, hey! Don’t you dare keeping on reading what I have to write, you can read this when you’ve finished telling me what it is you have to say (I’m watching you).

Isn’t that better? It’s always good to share one’s life with someone else. Now, onto my weeks! Easter weekend seemed to pass like a breath (is that an expression? I don’t know, well now it is…), it felt so unusual not to go to a camp that weekend, considering I’ve gone to one every year since I was 11 years old. What’s even worse is when the French ask you ‘What’s a typical New Zealand Easter?’ and you have no idea what to say because all you know is camp. To be honest, I don’t think there is a typical Kiwi Easter, and neither is there a typical French Easter (that I have noticed). For that weekend, Ségolène’s brother, sister-in-law, and sister came to stay. We passed an enjoyable time, basically just talking, relaxing, reading and eating. That’s always a good way to start the holidays. By the fact that my French had improved with a leap, I could understand about 90% of what everyone said- an achievement, I have to say. On Sunday, I’m happy to say that Ségolène took me to a church in a different part of Laval, and I got to experience a Catholic Easter mass. That was actually the first time that Ségolène has taken me to church, and it may or may not be the last time. What it seems is that she goes to church two times a year: for Easter and Christmas. I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that I don’t go to church, but I have my bible, worship music on my iPod, and God is everywhere, right? The main thing is that I don’t lose sight of His presence in my life. At lunch that Sunday, we had quite a feed (lol, gotta luff da feed bro)!  Man, the French can eat. If any of you have looked at my photos, you’ll see the amazing chocolate chicken! Let’s just say, it wasn’t very good for someone who is trying to cut down on her calories (lol, is butter a carb?) because she may have eaten a biiiit too much over the last few months.

Not much happened over Monday or Tuesday, as they were just kinda ‘lax it out days (I mean, who doesn’t love those days?). I finished reading one of my French books (‘Oscar et la Dame Rose’ by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt- very emotional), learned the intro to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on guitar, and watched a funny French film with Ségolène and Jean (‘Marsupilami’- based on a comic book).

It was a good thing that we had a chilled two days, because then on Wednesday we headed for the south! After a sufficient lunch, we left at the good hour of 1pm in the car! It was decided that instead of making the entire trip in one day we would split it in two, and stay the night at a hotel instead. The drive was approximately 4 hours long, but midway through we made a stop at Azay le Rideau- one of the many Chateaux de la Loire. We went inside to look at the beautiful furniture and paintings on display from way back when (don’t ask me for the dates or years, you should know how bad I am with facts). It was really quite something, but I guess that’s like most of these old buildings in Europe. We stayed the night at a not-so-glamorous hotel in a town called Limoges, which was nothing amazing, so we weren’t that upset to leave for Toulouse the following morning. We were set up for another 5 hours or so of driving that Thursday, but what we did not expect was to turn up a road that would lead us to a little village called Bruniquel! It was a very cute old place, and a nice chance to have a picnic lunch- which is what we did! Another good hour in the car and we arrived in Albi! It is honestly one of the most underrated towns. I’m telling you- go there! Well… when I say town, I really mean the main attraction that is Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile- claimed to be the largest brick building in the world. We entered inside the monster of a cathedral, and were even more stunned by its beautiful interior. I would totally tell you of its beauty, but I don’t think I could do it justice, so if you get the chance, go see it (or see photos of it, ya know, whatever’s easier)! We took little audio guides that explained to us the architecture and history of the church, and we spent maybe a half hour to take a look at the magnificent building. We spent maybe another two hours looking at the rest of Albi before going back on the road and finally arriving in Toulouse!  

We stayed for two days in Toulouse, at the household of Ségolène and Jean’s good friend Philippe and his wife Helena. It was quite an experience, I tell you that! You’re wondering why it was quite the experience? Well, Helena is Russian, and she can’t speak French… Ahahaha. And I thought I was having a hard time with the language. She and Philippe actually speak English to each other, so during our stay we were speaking a mix of English and French- I was actually kind of the translator! The Saturday morning, we got up and headed out to see the city of Toulouse! It was very nice day. We had a look at the great rugby store known as Stade Toulousain, and I bought a perfect rugby jersey for my Dad (I think he’s proud of me now), we saw a great cathedral of Toulouse, and ate the delicious Toulouse meal called Cassoulet. That Saturday we went to the really cool park of Cité de l’espace where we stayed the day and got to see many attractions to do with Space! We walked in a real space ship, watched a display of Space in its Planetarium, saw the movie ‘Hubble 3D’ in iMax, and learnt many interesting things. That night we watched a film called ‘Les Adieux à la reine’ about Marie Antoinette, which was incredibly difficult to understand, so it left me a tad confused.

That Sunday it was off to Corbières! Corbieres is a small country town, barely noticed by others, but there lies the family house of Ségolène and Jean’s good friends. That midday we were greeted by a fairly full house of Ségolène and Jean’s friends Bertron and Dominique, their daughter, her husband, their daughter’s children Elisa (10) and Tiphaine (5), and two dogs. The girls gave me a tour of the house, and then we sat down for a wonderful, French lunch. It was a warm beginning of our stay for the week, but even still, I was a bit scared to have to put up with two small dogs for five days, but fortunately after lunch the daughter and her husband left with the dogs for the week. Because I’m lazy, and it’s pretty late (or early, whatever way you see it), I’m going to try and zoom through what happened through the week. That Sunday afternoon we took a guided tour around an Abbey, which was pretty amazing, and took a nice walk along a 45 minute path afterwards. That Monday was definitely not my favourite day, but at the same time, it wasn’t a terrible day. The weather was FREEZING. In fact, the whole time we were in the South of France we had much worse weather than in Laval (which is a shock). But nevertheless, we left for a town called Carcassonne! It’s a really awesome medieval town that has awesome buildings and sells many, many delicious sweets. Ségolène bought me a little gift of a music box that plays ‘La Vie en Rose’ by Edith Piaf when you turn its little handle. The souvenir stores were all so great to look at, but the weather was just too awful, so we all retreated to a little café and ordered hot chocolates with Carcassonne’s specialty of a biscuit/cake/thing, haha, it was delicious. The next day we went to a town by the Mediterranean Sea and spent most of our time taking strolls and looking at the scenery- very peaceful! The following day I slept in until 12pm (twelve and a half hours of sleep, win!) and felt all refreshed and ready in the afternoon for a three hour walk through the countryside of Corbieres. The young girls did not complain one time (nothing like I was at their age), and we had a nice time. In fact, it was the first time we had some sunny weather, so I’m now a little rosy. On the Thursday morning we were glad to come back home to Laval, even though we had originally intended to leave on the Friday. It took from 10am to 8pm to make it home, but we’re here, and are in fact preparing for the stay of all Ségolène and Jean’s children and partners.

I’ll leave you there. I really hoped for a more animated post, but I had quite a lot to tell y’all, so there we are. Back to school on Monday for us all, gooooooood times…

Until next time,

Ailish

(Source: lefantomedevoye)