All typos are a result of trying to type at 6:30 in the morning before coffee on a mini computer. Try to imagine the horror.
I'm waiting for my Eurostar to whisk us away and back home, via Paris. So I thought I'd update you on the manicure/pedicure experiment. I surprised myself by quite liking it and I particularly recommend it to you, Keith. You'd look awesome with purple toes.
For anyone like me, who isn't exactly an habituee of nail salons, I thought an explanation of what happens might be helpful, in case you ever have to go to one and pretend to know what you're doing. A manicure is fairly easy. They soak your nails in some hot orange water thing, scrape the crap off them, cut the dead skin away, file your nails into the right shape, and then paint them the colour of your choice. (Metallic purple, in my case.) Then you get a nice hand and forearm massage, in the place I went to, leaving your hands and arms smelling pleasantly of coconut.
The pedicure was a similar thing for feet. But more complicated. And with an awesome chair that gives you a massage to distract you from the grossness that is your feet. I want one of those chairs. Think how much better my blogposts could be! I urge you to start up a collection for me!
Anyway, feet. You put your feet in a hot water footbath thingy, then the same scraping the nails happens, along with cutting away the dead skin near your toes. Another soak in the hot water (which is suspiciously blue, like cartoon water), and your feet are now sufficiently softened for the Potato Peeler of Doom to deal with them. This revolting stage of the proceedings is not for the squeamish - your dead skin is scraped off, much like peeling a potato. The poor, poor woman who was doing it. Then you get the remaining dead bits sanded off with a block of sandpapery sponge, and another soak in the hot water. Finally, you get a massage in green gritty gunk to do something nice to your skin. It smells better than it looks. Once that's washed off, you're given some fetching yellow foam flipflops and a purple thingy to seperate your toes from each other (poor, lonely toes). Your toes get painted (metallic purple, or colour of your choice) and little shiny bits of glass get superglued to your toes in whatever pattern you'd like (I have three in a line). Chair massage continues throughout. (Did I mention how much I like this chair?)
I did have some brilliant photos of my feet in flipflops and separator thing, but they are sadly stuck on my mother's phone. So will likely languish there for ever. Too bad.
Anyway, time to find coffee and get ready for Paris. Enjoy your week!
All typos are a result of trying to type at 6:30 in the morning before coffee on a mini computer. Try to imagine the horror.
People are horribe germ-carrying vectors of infection, and should be banned from congregating in large groups - or at all, round me. I'm ill and I ache and my throat hurts and I'm very very bored of shivering and sweating, occasionally simultaneously. England has made me ill.
The dentist has pronounced me fine, though, and all I need to do is go back in 6 months. I'll consider it - dentists are expensive, and my teeth were fine after a ten-year gap between dentists visits. 6 months seems a little over-keen...
Starbucks and gossip with my old boss was great fun, even if I felt like shit. Suppressing the shivering and urge to throw up is easier when you've got something to distract you. And everyone who walked past said "My god, you look amazing!" and "How thin you are!" and words to that effect. I had thought it was just French women who did that, but they all meant well and compliments are always nice. I should come back more often - though I'm still not sold on the idea that daily is a good idea. Tad too frequent, that, if you ask me, but I guess this is why they pay you to go -if it were fun, they wouldn't need to. Unconvinced, though.
Hairdresser never happened due to imminent dying and shivering and teeth chattering and things. Lemsip later, and I feel almost human, though still shakey and achey and bleh. Hopefully more lemsip and sleep, and I'll be fine tomorrow. I need a hair cut. Well, I don't *need* one, but it's cheaper to get one here than in France, and another inch or so off the ends would make it easier to deal with the heat. Back in a country where they have proper summer. It's been grey and cloudy all day, and it rained. Rubbish. I also need to go wedding ring shopping, so I need to not be dying. Lemsip had better work its usual magic...
Off to read and shiver and sleep. Hope you're all feeling better than me!
Within 2 hours of arriving in the UK, I'd found fast food, had my train delayed and seen urban scrawny foxes scavenging through bins and teenage mothers smoking. I can't imagine why I ever left...
Luckily, the next day improved dramatically. It was half-sunny, and we went to Rochester, Whitstable and Canterbury. (Yes, these are all perfectly do-able in a day trip from London. Quite a long day though...) Photos follow when I can find a sensible way to upload them, but highlights include the largest second hand bookshop in England (it's in Rochester, which is not actually up north, as I first suspected), the Whitstable Oyster festival with dancers and drumming, and Canterbury's general prettiness. (The Cathedral costs 8 quid each to get in, so we didn't. I refuse on principle to pay to see churches, particularly that much money.) And I managed to find new trousers on sale, so I have clothes that fit again - it's amazing how much more comfortable that is! Let's hope my weight losshas finished for now, I can't afford more new clothes. (I know, I know, that probably heads the list of Things On Which No One Will Ever Sympathise With You... But it's a genuine pain when you have no money...)
Today we went to Greenwich and looked round the Observatory and the Time Museum, after walking across the park. Then we got the boat up the Thames to Embankment, where we went to Picadilly to meet my parents (yes, at the statue of Eros - when I tourist, I go all out) and we had dim sum in China Town. My scientific edification of the morning was complemented by a trip round the Royal Academy of Arts and the Sargent exhibition there, which was lovely. A very talented man, John Sargent, though one wonders how many other people might be able to be that competent, with the advantages he grew up with...
Anyway, tomorrow, the dentist, the hairdresser and other bits and pieces. The next day, wedding ring shopping and whatever else we decide to do, then down to see my parents and the doctor later in the week, as well as having my nails done. (I am having a pedicure for the first time in my life. I shall let you know how weird I find it.)
What are you all up to this week?
(Excuse any and all typos in this - the mini keyboard on this mini laptop is a tad challenging...)
I hate packing. So, instead of packing, I've been learning how GIMP works. The above is the result of me playing with selective colourisation - it's nice, isn't it?
Going to the beach now, and hoping that the magic packing elves will sort everything out for me while I'm gone...
Packing continues - we're being temporarily evicted from our flat for August, so the landlady's family can live in it, which means we need to pack everything we own up into suitcases again. (We knew about it before we moved in, it's not some terrible surprise.) We're going back to the UK for a bit, and then to Paris for a week and a half, then spending most of August in a studio in Nice.
Assuming we don't kill each other living in a studio for a month in the middle of 35 degree weather with no internet, we'll be back here at the beginning of September, normalement. I shall try and find internet to check email, at least, and post here on occasion to let you know I'm not dead, but it will be sporadic at best. (Sign up for the RSS feed to be automatically updated when I post.)
I intend to use the month to write my next story with no internet distractions, lie on the beach, do some more cross stitch and read a lot of crappy English books that I'd never normally read from Gibert Jeune. I hope you all have a wonderful summer too!
We just saw the most incredible fireworks display - even amongst all the fireworks we've seen while we've been here, this stands out as being incredibly awesome. So good, I didn't want to miss any of it to get my camera, so you'll just have to cope without pictures. Jaw-droppingly fabulous - I dread to think of the money that just went up in smoke. It's good to have rich neighbours. One of the houses up on the hill is clearly celebrating something - something romantic, given the heart-shaped fireworks we had. (Did you know they made heart-shaped fireworks? I didn't. I wonder how they work. Very pretty though!) (Tonight, I have decided to boycott paragraphs. Obviously. Be glad I haven't decided to abandon punctuation entirely, or capital letters, or something.)
It's the 14th July today, so that means it's Bastille Day! Oddly, given the number of years we've lived in France, this is the first time I've ever been here for Bastille Day; it had better live up to expectations!
Last night Villefranche had a parade of lit-up boats who threw flowers at the people waiting in the harbour (night time version of the Combat des Fleurs, if you ask me), followed by fireworks - which were awesome (pics above are from last night) - and dancing in the main square, where all who were taking part looked like they were having fun. I might post more pics later, but they're up on Flickr if you're really interested.
Tonight, Nice has a big firework display, and there's bound to be music and all sorts of things in Place Massena, so I'll see if I can persuade Paul we should go into town. The problem will be getting back, given the appalling standard of night-time public transport round here. We shall see.
(Oh and my jewellery sale is going well - I've sold 10 things since the beginning of the month, which is rather more than normal! Hopefully the rest of the month will be similarly good!)
I've decided what I want to do when I grow up. Sadly this may have to wait until I win the lottery, but meh. Mere details.
I want to run a cafe/bar and second hand (English language) bookshop somewhere very much like Villefranche. It would have free wifi, and it would provide an exhibition space for local artists, allowing them a chance to sell to the tourists and expats who come in for the free wifi/coffee/cheap English books, and giving me something to decorate my cafe with.
I realise it probably wouldn't make a lot of money. Hence the need for a lottery win to fund it. But wouldn't it be a fun thing to do with your day? I think it would.
Anyone feel like throwing large amounts of money my way to fund it?
Some of you may remember the trauma it was moving here, because of all the throwing out I had to do. (My books, my poor, lovely books.) Since we're being temporarily evicted (more on which later, no doubt), I'm having to sort through my clothes again because we still have too much stuff to sensibly move.
This time it's much easier.
It's helped by there being almost no clothes I can still fit into, and of those I can, I just don't like lots of them. Sorting out winter clothes in the middle of a Mediterranean summer helps, too - even with our air-conditioning on (and I am so, so pleased we live somewhere with air conditioning - even more so that the electricity is included in our rent...) it's still not the kind of weather where you really want to think too hard about coats. Throwing out sweaters is much easier in these kind of temperatures. And summer clothes, well, I have less of them to start with, and they take up less room anyway.
I have 2 big bin bags full of clothes to throw out. 100 litres of clothes. I wonder what else I can throw out while I'm in the mood...
And it's hot and humid outside. And I'm tired. Can I just sleep through the rest of today?
It has arrived! It looks so shiny and proper! There's some minor details that I would do differently next time - the text is a size or so too big, the paragraphs spacing is slightly too big; I'd use a serif font rather than a sans serif font. And, of course, it's not a finished text. But overall, I'm really pleased with it! It looks like a real book!
In case you're wondering why I've gone quiet, it's not because I'm dead. I'm in the middle of learning how to make a website. I may never be able to open a text processor ever again...
I'm introducing a shopping cart, too, so you can buy directly from my website. Below is a screenshot one of the product pages. There will be one of those for each product, and of course, general category pages and links to my existing sites at Etsy, DaWanda and ALittleMarket. There will also be the general information pages, very similar to the ones I currently have.
What do you reckon? I can now see why web designers get paid a fortune, this is taking for ever - I'm learning a lot though!
Many thanks to Pierce and the lovely people at Business Degree Online, who have featured this blog as one of their Top 50 Expat blogs. In a continuing effort to put off building my new website, I'm going to spend the next few days looking at the other people featured - I suggest you abandon this erratic mess and do likewise ;-)
Thanks again Pierce, I hope you carry on reading!
I've got some new business card designs... Do you like them? Think I should change them for something else?
Yesterday was the Fete St Pierrre, in addition to being America's birthday. It's a day where communities remember those who died at sea, as well as celebrating the sea for all it brings to their lives. In villages along the coast, masses were being held and processions took place.
In Villefranche, the priest and the mayor led a band carrying flags, as well as sailors in uniform, and some obviously retired sailors (also in uniform) from the church down to the seaside. They all piled onto a boat, while Paul and I had a coffee in the very nice, but very expensive, hotel bar along the seafront, and then we rejoined them accidentally when I wanted to go and take a photo of the big (American?) boat with all the flags on it. By that point, they'd started handing out free pastis and pissaladiere, which was nice. And l'Amicale des Anciens Marins de Villefranche opened the doors to their little building, which was a bar in one half, and the most amazing collection of model ships in the other.
Photos abound, below.
Hello Americans-who-read-my-blog, Happy Independence Day! Are you having fireworks and barbecues and all those other American things?
What do Americans normally do to celebrate the birthday of their country? We don't have a day like that in the UK, though a similar (I think?) day in France is 14 July - but tell me what your plans are for the day!
What kind of a post office doesn't sell envelopes larger than A5 size? Oh, oh, I know the answer to this: my local one. Postal prices have gone down, which is great - but not huge amounts of help if I can get an envelope to put everything in... Nor do our little supermarkets sell anything bigger than A5. I'm actually going to have to go into town and go to the Giant Supermarket That Sells Everything But Is Populated By A Million Screaming Children, aren't I? Just for an envelope. Bah.
(I would, by the way, like to reiterate that postal prices have gone down - I'm still a little in shock over the SNCF actually providing some customer service and fixing their fuck up, and now postal prices have gone down. I need little things like the complete absence of any useful envelopes to remind me what country I live in, given the sweeping changes that are apparently taking the nation by storm.)
ETA: The reputation of the village has been restored. For future reference, and in case anyone else is wondering where to buy A4 envelopes in France, try the tabac. Mine even sell them singly, so you don't have to buy many when you only want one. Success!
I'm holding a sale on my jewellery - it's summer, the sun is shining, and I need to clear out some old stock. So, all of my jewellery in my Etsy, DaWanda and ALM shops is discounted by 40% until the end of July.
My Etsy shop has the biggest range of products, so go and see if there's anything you or your loved ones want/need/deserve. Go, now!
The keywords people search to find this blog are a source of endless (well, ok, 2 minutes worth) amusement for me. I know I have a large number of tags to my posts, and some of them are obvious - all the people looking for the storm we had here on the Cote d'Azur in May, or expats in Nice. I can see how that comes up, obviously.
Some of them are questions, and I hope their questions were answered - to the person who was wondering if the immatriculation number from the RSI is the same as the secu sociale number, yes it is. If you have a question and it's not answered by whatever page you land on, do leave me a comment asking it specifically, or email me. My email's on my website. Or you can ask me on Twitter, if you're registered there; I'm @nicolehill.
Some of them are unintentionally amusing - those looking for me to explain the UK government, or Parliament, for instance. Understandable in light of my posts following the last election, but a bit of a big subject to tackle in the abstract!
Two people searched for "What to do in St Raphael when it's raining?" A perfectly good question, under normal circumstances. The timing makes it a bit unfortunate though - both people searched for those keywords the day before massive flash floods hit St Raphael, killing numerous people. I hope you're ok, mysterious internet searchers. My advice in this particular instance would have been "Stay inside, somewhere high up in a tall building."
And then there are some that you just know are going to be disappointed: the person searching for breasts galore probably isn't going to find them here. Similarly, I can't help the person looking for information on the Nice dating scene for people in their forties. Nor can I provide a postal history of Nice, or information on the French tap museum. (If the latter is actually a museum about taps, could someone please let me know more about it in the comments?)
What odd keywords do people use to find the rest of you, those of you who have blogs? (And yes, I'm aware that by including the odder ones here again, it makes it yet more likely that people looking for breasts galore are going to turn up here. Tant pis.)