Thursday, 19 December 2013

First Term Reflections

So I leave Paris on Saturday to go home for Christmas. I was sat looking out across the city on the first level of the Eiffel Tower pondering life in a typically French and philosophical way. I’ve always known since the first day I decided to move to Paris that I was lucky for the experience but it’s only really hit me properly this week. Maybe this has something to do with leaving for three weeks this weekend but either way I feel incredibly lucky to be here.

Walking to my exam on Monday the sun was glistening on the top of Invalides. A sight I know I will never tire of. Yesterday walking around Musee d’Orsay was just as fabulous. To have so many great paintings on my doorstep is truly magical. Then sat gazing out across the city I thought of all of the friends I’ve made so far. From university and just random people in bars alike. Although I don’t get so much banter from the random bar friends!

I never wanted to get too deep on this blog, it isn’t very me. But after 4 months of being here I’ve really started to appreciate the important things. Mostly the people around you. So this is a shout-out to them. I didn’t think I’d get emotional saying bye to everyone going home but I did.

So guys, party at mine when we all return?!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Bat Mitzvah

So the day that had been so long in the planning was finally upon us. The Bat Mitzvah. Or should I say Boat Mitzvah due to the unique venue for the party? But I’m jumping the gun a little here. There is so much more to tell before we get to the venue!

The BM has been a topic of conversation at work for weeks, from the planning what food to have to L’s diet to get into her dress. I’ve had my boss detailing all the different kinds of canapés she’s eaten at parties and what was wrong with them and how the BM was going to have much better food!

I had been told to go down to the flat for 4 so that they could give me a lift to the party. I rang on the doorbell presents for the girls in hand. L opens the door looking divine. I had heard so much about the dress and the diet and the hair and the jewellery so it was lovely to see how great she looked in all of it. I gave her the hardback copy of Alice in Wonderland I had bought for her which has gold edging to the pages, suitably bling for a sassy 12 year old. Thankfully she loved it, as did her dad who was made up that it was in English! J was super happy with her Where’s Wally book and it was quite a job to part her from it so we could go!

Trying to leave wasn’t without problem though. L had decided her shoes were slightly too big so that took some time to sort but eventually we were out the door and in the car.

I was apprehensive about the boat. For two main reasons, one being that I’m not a big fan of boats and it takes quite a lot for me to get onto one out of my own free will. The second reason was because of the fourth series of Spiral I think where this Parisian gang ran a nightclub on a boat, but that’s by the by. The boat it turned out was fantastic! I completely forgot that we were on the river until the traditional dancing started and it started to rock! Oh and when we were watching ducks swimming past the windows!

The first job I was put to was to wrap bracelets around each napkin on the kids’ tables. After we had finished the girls then proceeded to try and put as many bracelets on my wrist as possible. I managed to get away with only having two on my wrist. By this time it was time for guests to start arriving but not before one assumed I was one of their cousins! The two girls in the cloakroom with me were hilarious and didn’t realise I was British until I had to make them repeat some basic request! I suppose it shows how Parisian I am getting!!

I then got literally dragged by the girls’ grandmother to go and get some of the canapés which were TO DIE FOR. There was no cuisine missed out in the exotic array on offer. From sushi to foie gras they had it all. And so did I. Now to break from normal I was going to stay off the booze due to the exam the next day but their grandmother forced me to drink champagne, something I never thought I’d hear myself say.

Then it was time for the party to really begin. It all started off with L playing traditional Jewish pieces on her harp. For someone so young to play something so beautiful it nearly brought a tear to my eye, especially when J joined in on one of them with her glockenspiel. After a bit of dancing and some music it was then time for the meal. Duck a l’orange with potato puree. I was sat at the small children’s table which had some positive aspects and some negative ones. Good because I didn’t have to make awkward conversation with people, bad because I had to mop up when this little 5 year old lad spilt water all over himself. I also had J on my knee for some of it because she was crying due to the loud music. I’ve never felt so maternal in my life until she threw her arms around me.

I wasn’t in the company of them for too long though because a random cousin of my boss came over with a bottle of wine to chat. I had a good chance to practice a bit of French on him because for the first time ever a French person didn’t try to practice their English on me. He also got me up dancing which was quite good fun even though he was a little odd.

Then it was the family’s turn to get up and do something. All the women had written a song about L which was perhaps one of the most touching things I’ve ever seen. Then her dad got up and sang “For me Formidable” which made my heart melt a little bit. L and her friends then did a dance they had choreographed themselves. A typical routine from a teenager’s bedroom, so cute just for sheer nostalgia.

Because the BM is all about becoming an adult they had got together a bag of essentials for her life as an adult woman. The list included

·         Red lipstick- because what woman doesn’t need a bit of that in her life from time to time?

·         Black high heels – ever practical and always chic

·         A pair of Uggs- for when she didn’t want to wear heels

·         A makeup bag of essentials- for on the go

·         A copy of GQ- to find out what men really think

Swiftly following the thank yous a croquembouche of macaroons was brought out. Now I thought this was dessert so after I had my fill I had a cheeky trip to the loo to reapply lippy. To my horror when I got back everyone was tucking into the actual dessert! There was no plate at my place! I asked J was it was she was eating to which she walked off (I was a little bemused I must admit) but returned from the kitchen for a plate for me (definitely my favourite child).

I then returned to the cloakroom which the cousin previously mentioned followed me to in order to get my number. This caused much hilarity to the other two girls who proceeded to tease me about it mercifully! But 1am it was time to leave not before J started dressing me up in the hats that had been distributed around the dancefloor and my boss had offloaded the left over chocolates they had been giving out to guests to me.

Overall it was one of my top 10 nights in Paris so far. I received a text from my boss saying “Kate, a big thank you for your valuable help at the Bat Mitzvah. You were beautiful. I hope that you profited from it. Thank you for spoiling the girls. The Alice in Wonderland is a pure marvel. Goodnight kisses”.

I feel quite sad that I won’t see them for three weeks over Christmas but it does make it all worth the hard work during the week with the girls when they don’t want me to be there making them speaking English!

Monday, 16 December 2013

15 Reasons to Live in the 15th

Some may call it the boring arrondissement but one that I believe is truly underrated. An arrondissement that I will try to persuade you dear readers to consider as not merely a wasteland south of the Seine but as an exciting part of Paris that you probably haven’t contemplated exploring.

1.       Easy to find home on a night out – all you have to do is find the Eiffel Tower, which let’s face it you can’t flaming miss, and you just keep walking south. What could be much easier? If I can manage not to get horrifically lost on my way there then it must be a piece of gateaux for the rest of you.

2.       You get to see 50 year old Parisian women on kids’ scooters- there is nothing more entertaining than seeing a middle aged woman with her Louis Vuitton bag scooting along the road but still managing to pull off the chic thing. This is definitely a big fat positive of being in a mostly residential area!

3.       William in Monoprix at La Motte-Piquet Grenelle

4.       Beaugrenelle- which is quite possibly my favourite shopping centre in the world. Maybe I only think this because I have been deprived for so long from a good old splurge on the sales due to my distinct lack of funds. Perhaps it has something to do with the big shiny M&S which is now only three metro stops away from me, which I must say helps when despairing over essays!

5.       According to the ever reliable source Wikipedia it is the most populated arrondissement, so surely with statistics like that I can find myself a tall, dark and handsome Frenchie to sweep me off my feet?

6.       15th arrondissement Come Dine With Me/Ready Steady Cook – so three of us live on our own quite close together and because if we didn’t actually get out of our flats we wouldn’t see the light of day half the time we cook for each other. There is nothing as hilarious as working out what you’re going to cook with lychees and bacon! (DISCLAIMER- sorry to those who live in the 15th and we haven’t invited, I could say it’s because I only have three chairs but it’s because you’re tacky and we hate you…)

7.       Not to sound too self-important or anything but I do live there so God knows why you’d want to live anywhere else….!

So that’s my definitive list of reasons to live in the best arrondissement. Is that you saying but hang on a second Kate, there are only 7 reasons here! Surely you can count? All I can say is thank goodness I’m doing a French degree and not a Maths one!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Loving My Job

Sometimes looking after L and J is the last thing that I want to do. There are only so many temper tantrums one person can deal with especially when they aren’t your own kids. There’s also only so many times you can play happy families a week before going slightly more insane than you already are, but the past two weeks two things have happened that made me really love my job.

The first was walking into their flat and being greeted with the biggest beat hug from J. It was ridiculously sweet and despite me not being the most touchy-feely person I was really touched by it. It took me back to the first time I babysat her and she hid from me. It certainly feels quite strange that that was almost 4 months ago. She also opened the door to me the day after the hug holding out a piece of peel from an orange which had tiny little crabs balanced on it, trying to make me eat one. This 8-year-old might be angelic to look at but her sense of humour is beyond her years and truly evil!

The second thing was picking J up the other day and her showing off her new leather jacket. It looked identical to mine which L had tried on a couple of weeks previous. It transpired that they had both been bought them because they liked mine so much! Style Icon In The Making here!!

So now that I have just over a week left in Paris until I return to sunny Angleterre for the festive season, I’m feeling quite sad to be leaving them. I didn’t think I would form such a close attachment to the kids but despite their spectacular tempers they are quite endearing. This may have all changed by Monday. It’s time for the Bat Mitzvah on Sunday so who knows what drama may happen. All I can say is expect another post in the not so distant future……