Saturday, 28 June 2014

Mornings in Paris

No not a post channelling the creative atrocity that was Woody Allen’s film “Midnight In Paris” but a charming reflection on my past year that I had sat in a cafĂ© waiting for an appointment at the British Embassy Consular Services building.   
I thought it was pretty apt today to upload this post as it is the day after the Wirral Grammar Leavers Ball and therefore (almost) exactly a year since my mum woke me up with the words “A chic French woman has left a voicemail for you!!” I waited nervously all day for her to ring me back and was ready at any moment to run away from getting my make-up/hair done to go and be amazingly charming and try to sound responsible. The call back didn’t happen for a few days but I did get the job which I’m just a week away from finishing.
I’ve been trying to get lots of things done in my last few weeks before I return to the UK in 11 days’ time. For starters, we had to sort a flat for August to move into with my two sidekicks in general Parisian filled frivolities. I also had to get an extension on my passport so that I could return to the cloudy shores of my homeland once again. Both of these things required getting up relatively early. As many people might be aware this is not something I am particularly good at. I tend to need a good cup of coffee and some kind of baked goods inside me before I can make any kind of intelligent conversation. So this is what I vowed to do.
First of all on Tuesday I had to go and get some groceries as my fridge had become seriously lacking in the food department. Things were getting serious – I had almost run out of both green beans and chocolate (two things I have started to rely on as food staples but not necessarily in the same dish). I made my way to Franprix which I knew opened at 8am but when I got there they had nothing on the shelves. “Monoprix would never allow this kind of shoddy business practice” I said to myself so I walked there post-haste. The ever wonderful and omnipotent Monoprix however was not open. But never fear there were many cafes nearby for me to purchase piping hot espresso and croissant in true Parisian style. So as I sat there watching the world go by and laughing at the silly Americans sat next to me I had a little think. Usually I don’t dabble in such dangerous matters but I was having a happy-go-lucky day so carried on in my pensive mood.
This year has been pretty good really. I’ve passed all of the modules of my first year of university. I’ve managed to live on my own without burning down the building or having to go to A&E. SOPPY ALERT: I’ve made some really awesome friends. Not the fake kind, but the kind of friends who will pass embarrassing photos of you round the lecture theatre but also the kinds of friends who offer to bring stuff round when your ill and ring you up out of the blue to organise a night out on the tiles.
The rest of my day was fairly uneventful but it did include a bit of sunbathing and reading James Bond so it was pretty epic really.

I also managed to combine the eating of baked goods with having to go to extend my passport. A task that I was slightly daunted by but it needed doing so it was going to be done. The fact that I was half an hour early for my appointment didn’t deter me, but the fact that the building didn’t open for another half an hour was a slight issue so I had a cheeky little wander. I haven’t really explored the 8th arrondissement all that much which is a shame because it is gorgeous! I managed to scrap together all of the cents I had in my bag to go and grab a pain au chocolat and sit watching all of the goings on in the beautiful designer shops and the up-market hotels. Extending my passport was simple enough – I finally feel like a proper traveller now because I have a funky stamp in my passport.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Au Pair's Guide to Babysitting

Before coming to Paris to take up a job as resident professional babysitter I had only ever done it once previously. I wouldn’t even begin to say that I think I have the art of looking after children down to a fine art after doing it for 9 months but I’m certainly starting to wise up to all the intricacies of getting two dangerously devious girls to do what I say. Here are my words of wisdom:-
1.       Make sure they know the boundaries. For example my girls know that I’ll let them stay up a little bit later if they don’t disturb me when I’m totally immersed in Game Of Thrones because if not they will incur my wrath. Something that is never pretty on a Saturday night when I could be out having fun.
2.       Don’t snitch on each other. I’ll tell your mum that you went to bed without a fuss and at the designated hour if you don’t let on that I’ve eaten most of the crisps. And drunk all the tea. And eaten most of the Percy Pigs.
3.       If I’ve let you watch Desperate Housewives past your bedtime (which coincidentally is really badly dubbed but it such a way that it’s even funnier) then you have to slowly glide from the living room into your own bedroom with the stealth of a leopard when your parents come through the front door – something I never perfected as a child.
4.       My solution for you being in a strop/scared of thunderstorms/not doing what I say is to tickle you. A fail safe negotiating tactic – why haven’t they tried this in the Middle East?
5.       Try hard to help with homework. Even if it’s explaining the German case system which fogs my brain in English never mind when I’m explaining it in French.  #linguistproblems
6.       Wifi passwords and laptop chargers are essential. But an emergency book is always good. Even if it’s just to pick up when the parents walk through the door so it doesn’t look like you’ve been watching a whole series of Real Housewives Of Atlanta back to back but actually reading Proust. (Fail safe technique – no one finishes Proust so you can keep it up for ages)

It is an occupation that is not without its certain struggles – I mean who can reason with 8 year olds? But it can be quite rewarding. My favourite moment babysitting was hearing some guy in the street screaming “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” to his friend. The Lord of The Rings nerd within me was quite gleeful that night I can tell you.