Walking in a winter wonderland...

That song never said you'd be walking because there would be no trains. Misleading, I feel.

Train service of a kind finally restarted today, after yesterday's complete shutdown. It's not what you might call back to normal though - I've just spent an hour standing in the snow waiting first for a train that never came, then for a train that was heavily delayed, and packed solid. Even those men with big people-brooms on the Japanese metro couldn't have got us on. And finally, for a train that when it did come was delayed, but has seats.

I'd like to thank Southern for their clear communication during this difficult period, but since there was absolutely none, I find I can't. Bonus points go to the woman in the nice warm National Rail call centre who insisted that we must have had announcements - every 7 minutes - because that was what her list said was supposed to happen. Despite those of us actually, you know, living it telling her otherwise.

I would genuinely like to thank the lovely people in the cafe upstairs who made me the best bacon sandwich and coffee in the world. A small ray of sunshine in the day, but better than nothing!


Plan progresses

Plan to escape took another step forward today. I still can't tell you about it, but whoever crosses their fingers hardest gets a prize...


Rubbish internet

Those of you who have been wondering, I've been offline because of the combined total incompetence of phone companies and broadband providers who shall remain nameless for the minute...

Sadly, I found out today that this is likely to continue until mid-January, with intermittent breaks when I'm back in France, or somewhere that provides free internet. I know you're all deeply upset, obviously, by the lack of my babble. (But, I hasten to point out, you've all got my email address, or you can find me on Twitter, so it's your own fault for not getting in touch.) Hopefully it won't actually take as long as mid-January; I may forget how Internet works by then...


Wedding day

I never wrote about our wedding day, did I? Well, I will, since it was nearly 2 months ago now, and if I don't, I'll forget... This will be long and there aren't going to be any pretty pictures (at least, not yet) so feel free to skip it. This is mostly for me.

It started sunny, although way too early. Paul went to get croissants and pain au chocolat, and made coffee while I had a shower, and we got dressed. (He looked incredibly handsome in his suit. I'm going to have to find lots of things he is required to wear suits to.) Then, my mum and Vix arrived for the complicated girly bit of getting ready that I usually skip. Vix took lots of photos while mum did complicated things with a hairdryer and makeup (yes, that's as technical as I get when it comes to girly things) and Paul sensibly stayed out of the way as much as possible in our small flat, drinking coffee and keeping a close hold on our rings.

Mum went back to the hotel so she could get ready, and Vix started her day of ordering photo poses. I have never, ever had as many photos of me taken before - if you put all the photos of me in the world together, taken by anybody ever, it wouldn't even come close. And, amazingly, most of them are half acceptable - so thank you Vix, you've worked miracles!

We had photos on the balcony, with the sea behind us - our landlady came out in her dressing gown to say how beautiful we both looked, and wish us all the best for the day. And then we headed towards the beach - it was still early, and a Saturday without cruise boats in town, so the beach was empty and the bay was open and all scenic. Everyone we passed on the way smiled at us, and one nice couple came all the way up to us on the beach to congratulate us and wish us all the best. Vix took loads of photos of us walking to the beach, and on the beach - the ones I liked best were the ones of us standing on the rocks, though balancing wasn't easy! (I went barefoot, in case you were wondering - it helped, but probably not much!)

It was a lovely way to start the day though, peaceful and quiet and just us. So non-stressful, it was awesome.

Then it was time to go back to the flat to get my wedding shoes and Vix's handbag, and meet half of our guests at the fountain at the bottom of the stairs. One small hitch when my heel got stuck in the extraordinarily wide grate on the steps, but otherwise we made it down the stairs without falling over or anything - a major success, given the shoes!

Everyone then followed us through the old town, where everyone said congratulations (special mention to SuperWoman for being so nice) and we processed towards the citadel, where we met the remaining half of our wedding guests. The sun was shining and it was warm and perfect for photos. Which is good, because there were many, many photos. With everyone. We had some time to wait in the courtyard outside the citadel because the wedding before ours was overrunning a bit, and my abiding memory is of going from group to group of people and having photos taken. (If you weren't me or Paul, what were you doing while we were having photos taken with someone who wasn't you?)

Finally, it was time to go inside, and the friendly bilingual citadel woman showed all our guests in, and we followed them up. The mayor - who is awesome - was waiting for us at the top of the stairs and greeted us, and showed us to our seats at the front, where he started the ceremony.

Quickly realising that half the people there had no idea at all what he was saying, the mayor asked if anyone would translate for him. Many thanks to Oliver for volunteering! The mayor, horrified by the number of unmarried people we had at our wedding, kindly offered to marry anyone who wanted to be married - I half thought he was going to pick random people and marry them off while we were all there.

We said "oui" at the appropriate point (after the mayor had impressed upon us all the responsibilities we were taking on for our as yet unborn children - I'm responsible for people's moral education, be afraid, be very afraid, for the poor scarred hypothetical children) and our lovely witnesses signed in the right places, and presents were handed out to Oliver and the people who had come the furthest (Piers and Ruth, thank you for persevering through air traffic control strikes and delays to come - I'm still waiting for photos of the giant pink posters...) and then all our guests lined the hallway and clapped as we walked through them. Everyone was so smiley!

Then came the kissing of the bride - I lost count of the number of kisses I got that day, that's how you know it was a good day! - and, while everyone else was going downstairs and apparently looking for confetti, the mayor gave us a copy of a guide to the history of Villefranche and talked to us a bit. Then we emerged into the sunshine and clouds of confetti - much to the upset of the mairie staff because people might have slipped on the confetti-covered marble floor.

More photos in the garden - memorably directed by Vix standing on a chair, with two kind volunteers holding back the palm tree leaves so they wouldn't get in her shot.

Then we went to lunch, and the restaurant surpassed themselves. Wine flowed freely, food was delivered more or less smoothly - and tasted amazing when it did finally arrive - and they even managed to provide vegan things for Vix. I was impressed, anyway, and everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves too!

Then I abandoned the party, since I was developing one of those splitting migraine type headaches, where all I could do was lie there, waiting for the pain to go away or for my head to explode and kill me. Sadly, the latter didn't occur, and it took 3 and a half hours of lying there wishing it would before things improved.

Beach petanque in wedding clothes raised a few eyebrows from passing locals, and by the time I arrived, the wine was flowing freely and almost everyone was at the beach. I mingled a bit, watching people get slowly hammered - or not so slowly, in some cases - and generally had a good evening. I hope everyone else did too (though really, I'm not so bothered about everyone else. It's all about me...)

Paul and I finally saw the last set of people off in the direction of their taxis at about midnight, and went to get our stuff from our flat - which looked like a bomb had hit it - and go to the hotel we were going to be staying at (because we couldn't face the idea of tidying up that night). I was shattered and both of us were looking forward to going to sleep - there's a romantic wedding night story for you, this is what happens when you get married after 8 years already together, people - and then I opened the door to our hotel room and it was full of magic. There were fairy lights everywhere and roses, and rose petals on the bed, and it was *amazing*. Thank you, again, mum and Vix (and anyone else who helped!) because it was so lovely. Absolutely beautiful.

The next morning was spent saying goodbye to people who were leaving early, moving out of the hotel room and making sure the cleaner wouldn't throw the flowers and fairy lights away before I had a chance to come and get them (she was a sweetheart, too). We saw my parents for breakfast (I think - we had a lot of breakfasts at the restaurant, so that might have been a different day...) saw Vix who uploaded the many, many hundreds of photos onto our computer, and my aunt and uncle who wanted to see the views from our flat. Then, we went into Nice for lunch with UK friends who were still around, got attacked by butterflies repeatedly, and watched Adam eat brains and chips. Then we came home, said goodbye to remaining family, drank champagne and looked at photos. (Presumably we did something for dinner, too, maybe Paul will remind me... I think we went out, since chances of us having food in the house were slim at that point.)

The next few days were filled with friends and family, champagne and sunshine, until it was time for the last set of people to make their way to the airport, where we waved them off and went home to collapse with exhaustion.

Thank you so much to everyone who came, we had an amazing weekend, and it was lovely to see you all. (And I'm sorry our thank you letters are taking so long to get out - 2 months really is kind of unacceptable, I realise, but flat hunting and starting work and everything has taken up so much more time than I expected it to. Will fix soon, promise!)

[I'm sure I've forgotten things in this write-up, so I might well edit it as I remember them. Don't be hugely surprised if it changes from when you last read it, therefore...]


Sometimes, a shot in the dark actually hits its target...

Plan to escape England has maybe progressed a step. This is good news. When I know more, I shall tell you more - but in the mean time, keep your fingers crossed for me...



France is lovely, and it smells of home. London, not so much.

I'm not dead, I still don't have a working internet connection back in the UK, and this horrible thing called work is taking up a lot of time.

I'm nearly caught up on my jewellery orders (business picks up in the run-up to Christmas, which is nice), and I'm still way behind on my story. I've done 15,000 words, and I need to ideally be up to 25k by the end of the weekend. That's unlikely to happen, but it's not impossible. If I can get up t0 20k, that will be pretty much good enough. That's certainly possible.

Flight was fine - pilot from Easyjet actually understands customer service. Was shocked, but pleased - may write to them and tell them how good he was. Ground staff were utterly fucking appalling - am definitely planning to write to complain about them. Complete and total lack of understanding of basic customer service, or even health and safety principles - shutting a plane load of people in a tiny waiting room, with the heating on full blast, closing all the doors and windows, and then not giving us any information about what's happening and why we're delayed by 40 minutes is utterly unacceptable.

The apology from the pilot - which was polite, informative, specific and sounded fairly sincere - went a long way to making up for the shockingly bad attitude of the gate staff, but since it's a contracted out service, I rather think I might write to Easyjet, urge them not to renew the contract with a company that's so obviously lacking in basic training for its staff.

Incompetence annoys me.


Wordcount widget

OK, So I'm being good and not boring you like last year - but in case any of you are vaguely interested in how my story's getting on, I've added a wordcount widget on the sidebar over there, so you can see how far behind I'm getting!


Not dead...

So, since I've been asked, I'm not dead. And I haven't forgotten you all.

I've been dealing with a horrendous flu-type thing that left me unable to get out of bed for a few days, which was deeply unfun. And we still don't have real internet in our London flat yet. The company say it will be soon...

This weekend I'm back home, and it's been amazing. OK, so it's raining now, and last night we had a huge storm. And I don't have to tie furniture down in London. But still, so glad I can still come back here from time to time. We've seen friends, gone to restaurants and cafes we know and love - finally made it to the restaurant on the corner that we've been wanting to go to ever since we moved in, but hadn't managed it. Should have done - it's gorgeous inside, too, and the food was incredible. Sliced duck breast in a honey and ginger sauce with garlic potatoes and salad. Amazing.

You may, if I'm feeling really organised later, get a series of scheduled posts over the next few days to keep you entertained, with photographs of dinosaurs and everything. Or, you may not. But you can know they're brewing slowly in my mind...

Plus, it's nearly November, and nearly time for NaNoWriMo again! I was planning to do a prequel to last year's effort, telling the backstory of Krystal, one of the main characters. I have been thinking about this on and off for months, and was all set. And then, yesterday, I was struck by inspiration, and now think I'm going to write a murder mystery novel loosely based on a real life story I read about in the paper yesterday, about a murder committed in a tiny 800-person island village off the Breton coast, where there have been no murders for 100 years. They don't even have a policeman, except during the summer. Think of all the poisonous little resentments that could build up in a place like that, and what a strange place it would be to live. Perfect place for a murder mystery, I reckon, and I'm going to write it. I can picture it now, it's going to be awesome.

It will probably have an impact on my blogging though. In theory, it should cut it down - those this is academic if I don't have internet. In practice, well, I procrastinate. So you never know, there may be many, many more posts! I have set up a writing-focused blog, though, so the majority of updates will probably go there during November, so as not to bore people who want to read about Nice, or even London, rather than my progress on writing 50k words in 30 days...


Let there be light!

And lo! there was light.

The electrician came. Our bathroom now has a light in - and it's even one that's safe to use in bathrooms, unlike the very pretty one we have before, which even without a leak upstairs apparently wasn't safe to use in bathrooms. Awesome. I love it when people try to kill their tenants for the sake of aesthetics.

Anyway, it's fixed now and we can see again.

Door is also fixed, and boiler is certified as safe. Our flat is now almost perfect.

Tree chopping person is supposedly coming later to sort out the tree outside our window - I'm more bothered by the mattress and carpet bits outside, to be honest, but they scare me too much to try lifting them. Creepy crawly things live in carpets outside, I'm not going near them. The council will get rid of them. (Hopefully.) Maybe the tree people will help...


An Open Letter To The Previous Tenant

Dear Previous Tenant Who Clearly Didn't Have The Brains God Gave A Gnat,

What the fuck is wrong with you? You see that tall, round thing near the sink? I know you did. You correctly identified it as a bin, for putting rubbish in. Well done! You failed, however, to notice the existence of bags that go inside it, didn't you? I know it can be confusing, calling them Bin Bags - the name doesn't make it at all clear what they're used for. Obviously, you never made the link.

For the benefit of the people who come and live in your next flat after you've gone, let me explain. Bin bags go inside the bin. You take them outside and throw them away when you've filled them, in the giant bins outside the house that look a bit like the one in the kitchen. This should happen quite frequently. If you don't do this, and instead just throw food directly into the bin and leave it for months on end, you get mould growing. I don't dare explore too closely what the hell else is growing in the putrid mess you left in the bottom of the bin in my kitchen - I'm just adding "new bin" to the top of my shopping list. But it would all be oh so much easier if you could have learnt to fucking use bin bags.

Lots and lots of love,

The pissd off tenant in your last flat who hates you nearly as much as the landlady does



Nothing fucking works in this flat. The fucking washing machine doesn't fucking drain. Guess how I found this out? Putting new clothes in the machine and getting splashed by stinking undrained nasty washing machine water. This goes near the top of Things One Shouldn't Have To Deal With Before Coffee.

Now my whole house smells of stinking washing machine. In a futile attempt to save my clothes - which include all my work clothes, of course - I've put the machine on again. Think that will fix it?

I hate technology.


Today's progress

Limited, to be honest.

Worked out how to make telly work - turns out they sell adaptors to solve the cable issue. We don't get all the channels, but much more than without the cable at all!

Also worked out how to make the stove work, without dying - it uses gas, so I wasn't entirely sure it wasn't going to explode. Still amn't, to be honest, though it's supposedly all switched off.

(There's a programme on telly right now about people getting married - these people got a tv programme to organise theirs for them. The bastards. But they are hugely annoying tv people. So maybe our way was better.)

Electrician didn't turn up today, so still have no bathroom light. I shall phone and shout tomorrow.


Domestic triumph

Today's domestic triumphs:

Bought clothes dryer.
Worked out how washing machine works. (Tip: works better when the door is properly closed. You're welcome.)
Found 3G inside - balancing on the corner of the coffee table. Bound to not work tomorrow, but for this second, I have the Glowing Blue Light of Communication beaming at me.

Domestic set-back:

Freeview box doesn't fit TV ariel cable. Suspect this means TV ariel cable might actually be satelite cable. Which means freeview box might not work with it, even if I can find a way to make it fit. Further suspect that freeview box is non-refundable, because shop is owned by capitalist bastards who want to make money. Suggestions as to ways forward gratefully received...



The good news: we found a flat! It's a 1 bedroom with a garden and a kitchen and a bathtub and a washing machine and it's half an hour away from work, and perfect. It's just had new carpet laid, and it has a new mattress and it's lovely. Except.

The bad news: The flat above us had a leak between me seeing the flat and moving in. And it's screwed up the nice new paint work. And it's run into the bathroom light, making smoke billow from the lights in an alarming fashion. So we switched all the power off and took the lights off the ceiling, so it could all dry properly. And the inside of the light where the wires connected to it is all black and melty. Lovely. Since the ceiling is still wet, I'm thinking it's not entirely safe. Am now reduced to showering by torchlight, which isn't as easy as you'd think. Hopefully it will be fixed soon, by a real electrician, if I'm really lucky. At least the wires are taped up so it's now safe to shower. I hope. (If you never hear from me again, it wasn't safe to shower, and you should all learn a lesson from this. I'll leave it to you to decide what lesson - I personally favour "Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!" but you can pick your own. And if you know where that quote comes from without looking it up, you get a gold star.)

Photos of the new place will follow at some point when I have a proper internet connection. I'm currently sitting in the garden which is the only place that gets 3G internet, so the dongle works out here. It's bloody cold though, so updates will be strictly limited until inside internet is installed... My UK phone number works, for those of you who have it - if you don't, and think you should, email me. (And if you don't have my email address, you shouldn't have my phone number, so that solves that.)


A flat!

I think, just possibly, we have a winner! Contracts yet to be signed and all, but I see no reason it wouldn't work out, and we might be able to move in this weekend - it is a beautiful flat, in a fabulous part of town and it even has a garden all of its own! London-based blog readers, do get in touch in the summer if you want to come round for a BBQ...

I'm so looking forward to a shorter commute and an end to 6am starts...


Further thoughts on commuting...

Much nicer when you have a seat! I had to stand all the way in today; not happy feet.

Going to look at a flat now - keep your fingers crossed for me; I think I actually want to live here! (Well, in as much as I want to live anywhere that isn't in Villefranche...)



I'd forgotten the joys of commuting, not having had to do it. This route isn't as bad as the Brighton-London one though; I even have a seat with a table!

Still, waking up at 6:30 and not getting to work until 8:45 is not fun. I shall be glad when we find somewhere to live - as, I'm sure, will my parents!


In England...

Everyone speaks English. It's really disconcerting. You know when you live somewhere else, and you only rarely hear English spoken, so you tend to pay attention automatically when you hear someone talking English, even if it's a complete stranger on the train taking about really boring shit?

Well, here, that's everyone. And my brain is still reacting to everyone as if they were the first people it has heard talking English in months. Every time. It's a little tiring...

(Work went well, though my role's still a bit lacking in definition. That should sort itself out soon though, and everyone's been really nice and welcoming. In some ways, it's like I never left, which is simultaneously a good thing and a bad thing. We'll see how things go from here...)


Hi-ho, hi-ho...

It's off to work we go... Think of me as Snow White, just without the seven dwarves, and with blonde hair. And a tan. Ok, so the analogy falls apart somewhat, if you're going to be picky.

But, today is the day I leave the world of 1950s gender roles and go back to a Real Job. Part of me is looking forward to it, part of me is shitting bricks about the whole thing; what happens if I've forgotten how to be an office drone in the last year? (Not that I was ever exactly gifted in that regard, so no one will likely notice. But still.)

Wish me luck!


One other Good Thing about England

Baileys. Milk of human kindness = Baileys.

I will be sad to stop drinking again, only because it means no more Baileys. Is there a non-alcoholic alternative to Baileys?


Flat hunting

Flat hunting is hard work! We saw 3 flats yesterday, none of which really worked for us, and have one more to see on Weds evening, which I'm really hopeful about - keep your fingers crossed for us!

(If any of you reading this have a flat in central London you've not told me about, now is the time...)

England's ok when the sun shines - there was sunshine briefly yesterday, and bacon, so the day started well. And finished well with Starbucks - who do soy milk lattes! I can drink latte again, the world is a happier place. Soon it will be Gingerbread Latte time, which is the only reason to be at all pleased about Christmas.

It's raining now, of course. But I'm just going to have to grit my teeth and get over that, I think. Rain isn't actually going to make me dissolve, and it's mostly just drizzle anyway. Not as nice as sunshine on the beach, but hardly the end of the world, all things considered.

Today I'm going suit shopping and general clothes shopping, since I own the sum total of one pair of jeans and a strappy top that actually fit me, neither of which are appropriate for work in any case.

How has your weekend gone?


Back in England

Flight yesterday went ok, apart from the hour's delay. Easyjet provides yet another spectacular service. One day, I'll get a flight that goes perfectly smoothly, and be utterly confused.

So, the beginning of my part-time-expat-ness. I'm going to keep this blog going, at least for a while, not least because I'll want somewhere to document the hassles of flat hunting and part-time-expat-ness. Also, I'm aware that I still haven't written about my wedding day. It's on my list of Things To Do like opening a bank account, finding somewhere to live, buying new work clothes, starting a job, all that sort of thing.


Good Things About England So Far:
Huge hotel rooms
English books - WH Smith in general
Potentially, the pub, though it has an ominous name
Marks and Spencer

Bad Things About England So Far:
Sky (the TV company, not the grey thing looming menacingly above us)
Sky (the grey thing looming menacingly above us, not the TV company)
The trains
The cost of the trains
Being homeless, so having to carry everything around with me
Did I mention the weather, generally? I think I'm going into shock at the amount of rain and grey and cold and wind. I was on the beach yesterday, ffs, where did it all go so horribly wrong?


The resurrection of our bathroom

We've had the builder round this week - finally, an end to the prohibition on showers is in sight!

I've got a series of photos to add to this post at some point when I get them uploaded, but until then, I just wanted to reassure you all that I'm not dead, though I'm deeply annoyed about being stuck inside during the last few days of summer, making sure that some builder doesn't nick my stuff.

Still, tomorrow is supposed to be nice, and so I shall spend the morning on the beach, ignoring the increasingly urgent packing that needs doing. If I forget something, Paul can always bring it over next week, right? As long as I have my passport, my bank card and my toothbrush, I'm set! Easy!

I woke up to a couple of sales this morning, too, which was exciting. I sent the two pairs of earrings below off to their new home this morning - I hope their new owner likes them!


Posting likely to be sketchy...

As if you hadn't already noticed that... I'm moving back to the UK soon, so the next few days are likely to be busy with packing, planning, flat-hunting and preparing for a new job.

In addition, our bathroom is being gutted and retiled to fix a sealing problem - apparently they didn't do it right the first time. So, house will be filled with builders, dust and tiles. In addition to me trying to pack around them.

Posting is likely, therefore, to be intermittent at best.

Though we all know my dedication to packing and things related, so you may see me here much more often as I procrastinate heavily. But I think if I spend too much time looking at this blog and all the amazing things I've seen and done while I've been here, I might just cry at the thought of leaving - I'm not exactly looking forward to the move as it is...


Sunrise and strikes

There's a general strike on all across France today, protesting the pension reform that Sarkozy is trying to introduce. Pretty much no public transport is running - it's a good thing we're not getting married this weekend instead!

There was, however, a train at some unearthly hour of the morning and my new husband went to get it, so I happened to be awake to watch sunrise this morning. It was quite pretty.







Days leading up to our wedding day

My mum and dad arrived on Monday, giving themselves plenty of time to relax in the sunshine before the others arrived. Everyone else arrived on Thursday and Friday - some of them later than they had planned, due to the oh-so-happy coincidence of a French air traffic control strike, which delayed a lot of the flights our guests were on and completely screwed up the plans Paul and I had made which had meant we could relatively easily meet everyone from their flights. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing from the airport, collecting people as they arrived and showing them to their hotels. Both Paul and I were utterly exhausted, both days, and to be honest, they kind of blur in my mind. It was lovely to get to talk to everyone when they arrived, but if we ever do this again, people are definitely making their own way here!

Everyone had finally arrived by Friday night, and we had welcome drinks on the beach for those who were up for walking round; most of my family went off and had dinner somewhere - I hope they had a good time! Huge thanks to Vix, Stu, Lou and James for their sterling efforts in setting up on the beach for drinks, helping me with ironing and washing up, collecting waifs and strays, and generally ensuring I didn't actually go mad before the wedding. You are all fabulous, fabulous people.

(If you've never watched people trying to assemble IKEA furniture on the beach as the light fades, by the way, I recommend it. I'm not sure they'd recommend doing it, but as a spectator sport, awesome. I have photos, somewhere in the pile of photos.)

In an effort (mostly successful, I think) to ensure that no one was horrendously hungover for the wedding, we decided food would be a good idea - and I do take credit for the suggestion of takeaway pizza, which everyone seemed pleased by. Certainly the restaurant were, and all credit to them for not even blinking when we asked for 14 pizzas to go, and dealing painlessly with a request for no cheese on one of them. Not even the vaguest hint this might be a problem - actual customer service, I'd forgotten what it was like!

I'd also like to thank the local police who, instead of fining us for drinking on the beach when we shouldn't have been, stopped after several drive-bys and explained that we weren't supposed to be drinking in public anywhere in Villefranche. They ought to be fining us. So, they'd be very grateful if we could hide the bottles of wine etc. out of sight from them, since what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over, and then we could carry on happily, as long as we promised to tidy up after ourselves. They even congratulated us on our upcoming wedding. I was amused - and we did tidy up, of course. We made it home at about midnight, leaving Adam, Rich and Lou [ETA: and Fran and Tim] to bravely finish the remaining bottle of wine and find their hotel - they all looked surprisingly bright-eyed the next morning, all things considered!

(NB: This post may be edited randomly as people read it and remind me of things I've forgotten, or correct my misremembering. Don't be too surprised if it's utterly different each time you read it. If you read it and think I've cocked something up, do email me...)


Married me: Day 1

The day itself went amazingly, and a write-up (to remind myself, at least) and wedding pics will probably follow as we gather them together - if you took any, please do email me with them/a link to them - but I wanted to show you all the amazing job my mum and Vix did of decorating our hotel room, keeping it a secret all the time. It was incredible, breathtakingly beautiful! Thank you both - and anyone else who helped that I don't know about - you rock; I nearly cried! And a special thank you, too, to the hotel (who probably won't read this, but still...) for giving us the hotel room for free for the night, to say congratulations on our wedding. That was so kind, and we are really grateful!





Now they tell us...


Too late now!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone - we certainly plan to!



American invasion of Nice

Some of you may remember this post, in which I mentioned the Americans invading in tanks. I promised photos and then, shamefully, never followed up. Here they are! (Yes, I am clearing my phone this week, how did you guess?) I still have no idea what they were doing here...




















Cap d'Ail

During the August Exile, we went looking for the beach at Cap d'Ail, having been told it was nice and worth going to. Didn't find it. Did find a picnic area and a very windy coastline, with huge waves. (If anyone knows where we went wrong from the picnic area, do shout...)









MAMAC - Nice

As part of the August Exile, I had to find things to do to fill up the day. One of them was pretending to be cultured and visiting the Musee d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain (MAMAC). You can go up on to the top and wander round, where you get some great views over Nice, and then we walked round through the exhibits til we found the way out. (The lift was dodgy; I don't recommend it.) Photos follow.






Venus, by Niki de Saint Phalle:


More art:






Vive L'Empereur!

Not a cry you often hear on the streets of France, these days. But, there we were, sitting by the dock, waiting for Napoleon III to arrive, greet his wife Eugenie, and survey his new lands. Sadly, as the Mayor said, we weren't able to greet the Crown Prince, in whom rests the future of France. He finally turned up (delayed, as the announcer said, by the Spanish, who just didn't appreciate the importance of the French royal family - 150 years clearly hasn't changed much) and it has to be said, the cheers were muted. Apart from the woman standing right behind me, who was extremely vocal in her appreciation for His Majesty.

150 years ago yesterday, The Emperor of France arrived to take stock of Nice and its surroundings, who had just chosen to join him, rather than Italy, or whatever the other options were. He landed at Villefranche, due to an unfortunate miscalculation as to the depth of water needed for the Imperial Yacht - though the official reason given was due to maritime conditions. (Again, according to the announcer today.) Wouldn't you have hated to be the one to break *that* to the Mayor?

"Excuse me, sir, but you need to come in to the mairie and dress up today"
"Why? It's hot. Fuck off."
"The Emperor is coming here."
"Don't be silly, we're a small fishing village in the middle of nowhere. Why would he come here?"
"The idiots in Nice fucked up - he'll be here in about an hour - best get started on your speech!"

Yeah. A bad day, all things considered. His speech was good though - they gave it again today, to welcome Napoleon again. We all waved flags (though they were the modern French flag, not the relevant one from the time), occasional cheers were heard of "Vive l'Empereur", people were dressed in costume and must have been dying from the heat (and the Most Bossy Woman In The World was shouting at them to make sure they all curtseyed in time with each other and turned at the same time as each other - it was positively military!), and there were horse-drawn carriages to convey the Imperial Party around Villefranche. (Sadly, as you'll see below, they didn't close the roads, so the Emperor got stuck in traffic. Bet that never happened in the old days...)



The hired guests:





The Emperor:




Emperor and guests:




Emperor and carriage:




Emperor's marching band:

Emperor hitting traffic jam:



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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