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?


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