Done!

At least, I think so. Bibliography done. Conclusion done (though rubbish). Stupid rules about margins applied. 13,815 words of complete and utter rubbish, but I actually think it might be nearly over... Final checking to be done now.

I wonder if girls get to be a Mistress of Arts when they get an MA. It's got a much better ring to it.

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Bibliographies

Note to self: next time you're writing a huge essay, write your bibliography as you go. Particularly if you are citing numerous newspaper articles from the same date of the same paper, often with the same author, but on different pages.

It will make your life easier to do this, rather than having to wade back through hundreds of articles because you didn't bother to properly write down the citations in the first place.

Guess what I'm doing at the moment?

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Fireworks

Monaco apparently hosts an International Fireworks Championship (learn something new every day) - yesterday was the last entry in the final, and because it was the French entry, it got some press coverage and we discovered it was taking place. It was awesome - must have cost a fortune, half an hour of fireworks set to music, it was just stunning.

I only remembered towards the end that my camera also takes video - the sound quality is rubbish, so if there even is sound, I wouldn't bother trying to listen to it, but hopefully you'll see a tiny part of the spectacle. Next year, if we're still here, I'm going to make sure I go and see all the entries...



Dissertation, well, fail. I got up to 10k on Friday, went to the beach in the evening, didn't feel much like writing when we got back after dinner. Slept all Saturday morning then went to a picnic where much wine was consumed over the course of the rest of the day. Yesterday was a write-off (though the fireworks were very nice...) But, I haven't run out of things to write about, so all is not yet lost! Though time is definitely beginning to run out now... Still, couple of thousand today - if I at least finish Chapter 4 - then unpacking all my stuff tomorrow, then a conclusion on Wednesday; easy!

If anyone feels like proofreading all or part of this, do give me a shout. It's not fascinating, obviously, and I may well run out of time and therefore not be able to send it out for comments, but if you've got spare time this week, let me know...

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Living in Sin

I'm considering making a badge which says "My bank manager thinks I live in sin" - but I'm not sure how many other people live in a country where their bank manager might tell them that, so it might be a small market. That said, my bank manager expressly underlined the living in sin aspect of my bank account.

He still amuses me...

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Dissertation failure

I'm stuck. I'm at 9000 words, it's hot, I'm tired, and I cannot focus on my paper. Rubbish. I need to get it done this weekend before the chaos of unpacking the rest of my stuff arrive early next week, and I'm just not getting there. I'm not even doing anything useful instead, just staring at the screen, hoping it will write itself...

Anyone feel like writing it for me? Or, more realistically, sharing some ideas on how to actually make myself do something useful, like writing another 3 or 4k?

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New shop banner

Completely not of interest to anyone other than me, so the rest of you should probably stop reading now. But my new online shops' banner is fabulously pretty! Look!


(Banner made by LaRue Graphics)

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Opera --> Accordion

We used to have a freelance opera singer on our road in Brighton. Now we have an accordion player and some woman who sings along. I preferred the opera. Particularly since this woman can't sing. And if even I can tell, it *must* be bad...

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If you were selling printers

And you knew your printer needed a USB cable. And you also knew the printer you were selling didn't come with a USB cable. And you were clearly talking to someone who didn't know what they were doing, who was obviously foreign and hot and pissed off at having to trek for miles, since you were the only computer type shop easily findable in town. Wouldn't you at least mention to your customer that they might need to consider buying a USB cable? Rather than waiting til they got home, opened it all up, with the best of intentions of finally doing some work, and found they couldn't do anything without a USB cable?

I would, but then, I don't work for FNAC.

I'm not going back til it gets cooler. Since we're on a canicule alert (and when I get my USB cable, I shall share with you the delights of the canicule warnings and advice which show old people melting) this may not be for several months... I shall try again this afternoon, on my way to see the mysterious 4'oclock wave that apparently happens here. Methinks someone is taking the piss out of the newbie foreigners, but I fully intend to take any excuse to go to the beach, so I shall have a look while I'm there. And get a USB cable on the way back, in case they melt in the near-canicule.

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As if the Evil Flat and Theiving Neighbour weren't bad enough...

...we now have a constantly crying dog next door, which is doing my head in. I feel sorry for the poor thing, but it has a... piercing whine, to say the least. And the neighbours last night who decided shrieking laughter and clapping are the perfect complement to insanely loud music with a very short playlist, on repeat.

We need to move.

On the plus side, I wrote 725 words this morning which brings me up to somewhere in the region of 7500, 8000 words total (very few of which need to be re-written after the email I got back from my supervisor; I had thought more would!) and I'm going to do some actual research this afternoon, and that will help me write more (and more sensible) stuff this week. Aim is to be at 12k by the time I go to my meet-the-expats picnic on Saturday...

Some photos of Villefranche, where I still want to go and live...






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Today's summer photos

Today's photos of summer come from Menton; one of the few places along the coast here which actually has a sandy beach! The old town in Menton is very pretty, but would be a nightmare to live in come winter - the rain would make everything so slippery you'd break your neck if you left the house!

Anyway, summer flowers:



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Domestic me!

I am the most domestic I have ever been before (although, I realise, that's not saying much...) That said, I have succeeded in making my trousers of a wearable length, and both legs are (more or less) the same length all the way around and (more or less) the same length as each other. I think that's pretty good, considering as how I can't tell a straight line if it's drawn for me, I don't have any pins and I don't have a mirror to tell what length they ought to be for the initial folding up bit.

Unfortunately, said white trousers seem to have a stain from the washing machine. Clearly I am not domestic goddess enough to know that washing dirty things together means that some of the dirt might transfer from one clothes to another. They may now be ruined, despite my heroic attempts to make them wearable.

It's amazing the things you will do to avoid essay writing, isn't it?

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Breakfast

Bored of washing up, essay writing (6k done) and everything. Waiting for laundry to finish, so I can go and get food for tonight - aren't I just the domestic goddess? I'm even going to buy a sewing kit and try making my trousers a sensible length for a short person like me. How wrong can it go?

Today's sunshine photo is breakfast:

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Rain!

We have rain! A whole 20 minutes of it so far - for the first time since we moved over here (other than about 2 spots the other day). It's better than English rain, though - it's got big, heavy raindrops and makes the ground smell nice (and washes away the dog shit, which isn't a problem in the UK, I admit) - and I have some confidence that it will eventually stop. Unlike the UK...

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A flat full of woe

Well, not really - now the flat has stopped trying to kill us, it's quite pleasant really. It's the neighbours that are the problem. We face onto a courtyard with flats on each side of us, and the people in there are *noisy*. On a level even I find difficult to live with. Skyrock is not my favourite radio station (rap is not my favourite accompaniment to dissertation writing, oddly) and the screaming, shouting arguments are getting old very, very quickly. The mad woman at the end who mutters about the English and throws her possessions off her balcony in fits of pique is, well, disturbing.

The last straw was sitting on our balcony watching our Skyrock-playing neighbour climbing from his balcony into the balcony of his next-door neighbour and go through everything left out there - bags, boxes, the fridge, everything - collecting things as he went. No idea if he was allowed to do so (one would think the whole climbing balcony to balcony bit would imply not) and I'm certainly not getting involved (he's the one with the screaming violent arguments). But it's making me a little uncomfortable about my own balcony and the accessibility of our flat. Big windows are nice, for letting light in - but they also let people in quite easily, too...

We went for dinner in Villefranche yesterday, and it's wonderful. Calm, quiet, small, old fishing village slightly modernised - the old town is like walking into a postcard, it's stunningly beautiful. And the water is crystal clear. Maybe we should move there...



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Quote re the environment

"I would make a plea for a global convention, one to conserve the infinite variety of species—of plant and animal life—which inhabit our planet.

The tropical forests contain a half of the species in the world, so their disappearance is doubly damaging, and it is astonishing but true that our civilisation, whose imagination has reached the boundaries of the universe, does not know, to within a factor of ten, how many species the earth supports.

What we do know is that we are losing them at a reckless rate—between three and fifty each day on some estimates—species which could perhaps be helping us to advance the frontiers of medical science. We should act together to conserve this precious heritage."


Does the above quote, from 1989, come from a) an official statement from Greenpeace, b) the European election manifesto of the Green party, or c) Margaret Thatcher in an official speech to the UN?

I was surprised to find it was Thatcher. She never seemed to me to be the Green party type...

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Dinner

Photo stolen from Paul from last time we ate this:

Duck breast in a honey and thyme sauce

Duck breast in a honey and thyme sauce and fried potato thingies is wonderful. Cheap wine that happens to be nice makes it even better, as does French bread. Free limoncello at the end of the meal because the staff are nice like that makes it perfect.

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Scenery photos of Monaco

Just because I liked them, and so you can see them too. Plus I haven't posted any photos just of summeriness for a while. (Yes, it's a word. I said so. It's my blog.)

Monaco marina
Panorama of Monaco marina
Two small white boats on the sea
Rocks and the sea line in the sunshine
Face of one of the Grimaldi, immortalised in iron just outside their palace...

Face of Grimaldi
The most energetic pedestrian symbol I've ever seen. He's not just walking, he's striding. Practically running:

Walking man

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Monaco's medieval festival

Not much commentary to add to this, it was awesome! Fabulous costumes, friendly people (though they must have been dying in the heat!), pretty old town and I was pleased we climbed up to the top to have a look around!

Poster for Monaco's medieval festival

Musicians in medieval Monaco
Man and woman in costumeFlags in MonacoMan chiselling in costume
Dragon forgePeople in costumeMore people in costumeMusicians in costume
Musicians in costumeStreet in Monaco old town
Musicians in old town in Monaco
Ye Olde Cashpointe:

Ye Olde Cashpoint sign

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How the other half live...

We went to Monaco today; nice yachts, terrible architecture.

Architectural disasters, all worth several million euros:

Nice Marina
Layered housing in Monaco

Nice yachts:

Yacht 1
yacht 2
Yacht 3


It was also some sort of medieval festival in Monaco today, in the old town - which is actually very pretty, not at all monstrous (although the Palace is a bit grim) - next post will have details and photos of that...

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Banking

I have a bank card! I can get money! But, I can only get some money...

I can:

  • spend up to 800 euros a month on my card
  • take out 1530 euros a week in cash (I wonder why the 30...)
BUT within that, I can only take out 300 euros in any one day from our bank and when I'm out of France, and only 300 in any 7 day period from any bank in France that isn't ours. For which we would be charged extra anyway, I think. Parochial, isn't it?

(Admittedly, I can't really see myself spending more than this in any event, but the limits still grate, philosophically - it's our money, dammit, why can't we spend it how we like?)

However, if I ring up their free gift helpline, I can get a free Real Leather card-holder, embossed with my initials and with gold corners. What more could I ask for?

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Mosquitos

Hate them. I don't know why they bite me, but not people around me - I had 4 bites this morning on my ankles (and toes! Why, for the love of God, would you bite my toes? Do you *know* how itchy that is? Yet how miserably unsatisfactory scratching your toes are? No, you're a mosquito, you don't have toes. Bastard thing - I hope mosquitos have a mosquito-equivalent that bites them on their mosquito-equivalent-of-toes.) and he had none. Life is unfair.

On the other hand, it's sunny and warm, my balcony smells pleasantly of basil, I've had coffee, and I'm up to 2800 words already, and it's only 8:30. Admittedly, reading Thatcher's speeches before 9 in the morning could be construed as cruel and unusual punishment, but it may be best to get these things over and done with before my brain really wakes up...

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Dinner

Dinner tonight was simple (though I'm now craving Christmas dinner and chocolate pudding, thanks to an email I read earlier) - we had pasta with organic cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, goats cheese and olive oil. I'm a big fan of meals that take 10 minutes start to finish - though our dinner would perhaps have been even nicer with some balsamic vinegar and black pepper. Being able to eat it on our new table out on our terrasse is nice though, definitely helps food taste nicer, I'm sure!

Lying on the beach reading my textbook (why yes, I am a blast at parties, you can tell) this afternoon, escaping the-hell-that-is-Lexis Nexis, inspiration nearly struck. So rather than nothing, I've written 500 words today. It's not great, but it's better than it was looking this afternoon... I'll write extra tomorrow. I'm aiming to get 7000 words done by Sunday, so I'm on the way, slowly...

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Total waste of a day

Lexis Nexis: good in theory, poor implementation - you can't save your search results as a webpage, it appears. Unfortunately, I didn't find this out til I'd sifted through hundreds of articles, saved 70 of the articles I needed to read later, and closed them all. Printable words fail me, at this point.

This really isn't my week, is it?

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Flat fixed! (Fingers crossed...)

So far, so good. It's lunchtime and nothing has yet broken in my flat today...

Also, we have a new table and chairs on the balcony! Eating outside just got a lot easier! Plus I have chopping knives and a big saucepan and all kinds of useful things! (And a new ├ętat de lieu to go through and check we have everything they think we have...)

I've also downloaded articles from the Independent now, for 1988-1990. They used to write a lot more bluntly, back then, in their foreign news sections...

And I met one of my neighbours! Who is American (or Canadian, I can never tell the difference between the accents, major failing, I realise...) and very nice. And who appears to have lost a hoover. I didn't ask how, not least because her flat probably doesn't have any carpet in it, assuming it's the same as this one...

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Flat has beaten me...

Well, sort of - it's fighting back. The kitchen sink is still safe, thankfully, but it now doesn't drain. I'm almost sure this is because our electrician/builder/plumber/general everything man, when he taped it together, taped it at too tight an angle. He does, however, get a bit... tetchy... at people trying to fix things he's broken, so I am waiting for him to turn up to recitfy the situation, so I can do washing up and generally not have a fetid swap of dirty water in my kitchen. And the pipe is leaking again, so the tape didn't actually fix the problem at all, just made new ones. Awesome.

In more positive news, my balcony/terrasse gets full morning sunshine, so I can sit and read about securitisation *and* work on getting a tan. Chilled melon in the hot sunshine is divine (sadly, the pineapple/lime/mango Tropicana has all gone already). And I've written 700 words this morning, bringing my total so far up to 2000ish. Planning to do another 800 or so this afternoon, while it's too hot to go outside, and maybe a couple of hundred in the evening, after going to the beach. Tough life, isn't it?

The local English language radio station (not named, in case it triggers a Google alert for them) is... unique. The ads are hilarious - there's one that repeats frequently, asking if we can provide services (or hotels, bars, restaurants, pretty much anything new and shiny) to very high-profile VIPs, one that starts "for last minute work on your yacht..." and, my favourite, that I've only heard once and can't remember what exactly it was for, advertised services in English and Scandinavian. Scandinavia is obviously more politically integrated than I had heard.

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Success!

I have beaten the flat! Well, the electrician the landlady sent round seems to have done, at any rate. I can now have the washing machine going *and* the kitchen tap running, without nearly dying! (Given the length of time for a washing machine cycle, this is a good thing...)

The leaky pipe under the sink has also been fixed (is there anything duct tape can't do?) and hopefully later this afternoon, we will have a working telly and everything! Maybe even bathroom door handles - the luxury!

Dissertation not going so well - but we do have spare door keys now, and I managed food shopping. (Pineapple, mango and lime juice is divine. If Tropicana sell it near you, go buy some, now.) I'm going to go and read about securitisation now...

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My flat is still trying to kill me

And its efforts have intensified. It no longer just tries to electrocute me when the washing machine is on, but when anything electrical is on. This is... slightly challenging.

On the other hand, while I can't do any cooking (because I can't do any washing up), we can still go to the beach with beer and a takeaway pizza and watch the sun set - there are good reasons for us having moved here, murderous flat notwithstanding!

(For any of you who might be concerned - I am, enough for all of you, anyway - someone is coming to fix the wiring tomorrow. I will be happier if a proper electrician does it, mind, particularly since while I can use rubber gloves to do the washing up, a similar work-around is harder to find for the shower... But hopefully by tomorrow, I should be able to turn on the tap and put my hand in the water without getting electrocuted. Progress!)

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Wise men of Nice

On the tram on the way back to the hotel tonight, I saw many drunk and sweaty French people (and tourists). On leaving the tram, finally, I saw the below and actually had my camera with me - they are giant statues of men, white during the daylight, but lit up with ever-changing coloured lights at night time, stuck up on v tall pedestals in the main square in Nice - I love them!



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A flat!

We have a flat! I'm knackered now, have spent all afternoon cleaning, baby-sitting and supervising the construction of furniture, so this will be a mercifully short post - but we finally got our keys today. The below sort of gives you an indication of the actual readiness of our flat, though - for example, it electrocutes us whenever we turn on the kitchen tap. Not so totally useful...



That said, it will be lovely when it is finished properly! Lots of light, big windows, not as small as I had feared before the furniture got put in. Lacking a telly, internet, a phone line and a sink that isn't actively trying to kill me - but you can't have everything...

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Copyright Nicole Hill, 2009-2010

All photos and text are mine - ask me *before* you use them elsewhere. Don't just copy them and hope I won't notice, it's theft.

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