18 January 2013

Settling back into French life

Wow it's been a busy couple of weeks since I've come back to France (which will hopefully explain my absence from blog). So as not to bore you all with too much detail, I'll instead just give you a brief overview of what I've been up to in this time.

Thursday 10 Jan
Had Galette des Rois at school today, and my slice had the fève (lucky figurine thing) in, so I got to wear a crown. Yay!

We should totally have 'Kings' Cake' in England
This evening Mike and I were blessed with Aurélie's offer to drive us to Niort for a meal, and as a way to allow us to easily get out of Melle. The 3 of us met Lewis in town where we went for a meal in a 'pub', and I had a yummy pizza. We then met a couple more assistants, and headed on to a bar where there was a Couchsurfing soirée happening. Met more cool French people and spoke lots of French. Great evening.

Friday 11 Jan
This evening there was a gig going on at the Café, so Mike, Alfredo and I went along for that. Performing was a folk/ballady duo, comprising a singer and guitar player. Pretty easy-listening tunes, although they got a bit samey after a while. Nevertheless, was very French, and the Café was buzzing.

Singer Claire Dousset performing at the Café
Saturday 12 Jan
The sales in France don't start until the 2nd week of January, and so this marked the first weekend of the sales. Mike and I headed up to Niort to see what bargains we could find. Bought a nice cosy red jumper.

Sunday 13 Jan
Aurélie once again was kind enough to offer to take us to Niort today to go and watch a film. We saw 'Foxfire' which is about a group of girls who rebel against society by setting up their own secret gang. The film was long and had a dark theme to it, but it kept me entertained to the end. And we later found out that the director of the film (whose most successful film is the famous Entre les Murs) was born in Melle! A proud moment for the 3 of us.

Tuesday 15 Jan
Mike and I organised to go to La Côte de Boeuf (the local steak restaurant) the following day with Aurélie and Alfredo to celebrate my 21st birthday. However, as I was sitting in my kitchen that evening, I got a call on my English phone from my boyfriend. Yes, you guessed it right. Rob had decided to surprise me (once again) by turning up unannounced and spending my 21st with me!

Wednesday 16 Jan
My 21st birthday. And it snowed in the night! Well, a little bit. But it still felt magical!

My wish for snow on my 21st birthday came true!
After a lazy morning opening cards and presents, Rob and I took a walk on the outskirts of Melle, after which I made the most of his biceps by suggesting we go to Aldi and stock up on heavy things so he can carry them home. Ssh, it was my birthday. 
Opening a bar of Dairy Milk was very welcome indeed
Crispy snow on the soggy leaves
I'd cancelled dinner with Mike, Alfredo and Aurélie since Rob's parents had decided to treat us to a meal, just the 2 of us. So we set of to La Côte de Boeuf on a bitterly cold Wednesday night, only to find.....the restaurant was shut. Gutting when you have been excited about the prospect of a succulent juicy steak all day. We ended up instead going to the pizzeria, which was still lovely in any case. I haven't been that full since Christmas Day though. Coming home and watching Notting Hill, it was the perfect birthday surprise to have Rob with me, and I don't know how I'm going to match it when his birthday comes around...

Rob and I pre-dinner
The French really know how to do a good salad
Pizzaaaaaaa :D
Thursday 17 Jan
Said goodbye to Rob as I went off to work, since he was leaving later on. Only worked 2 hours, so was done by lunchtime. Enjoyed a massive school dinner as usual, introducing me to yet more French food. Today was Hachis Parmentier, basically a French version of Shepherd's Pie, followed by French-style trifle. Delicious. After returning to Melle for the afternoon, Mike and I decided to not waste such a sunny day, and so went a nice long walk. And after 4 months here we still discovered hidden parts of Melle we'd not yet come across!

Mike and I discovered on our walk that at the back of the derelict
hospital in Melle there is a chapel. Who knew?! 
Memorial statue to Jacques Bujault, who also has a place named after
him in Melle. I can't remember exactly who he was though
Old water pump

This evening was exciting too. The association that runs where I live had organised a big meal in a nearby village, to which staff, volunteers, and all residents of the association's 10 appartment blocks were invited. Travel was all arranged, and the 3-course meal was all paid for, so I only had to wait for my doorbell to ring. In total there were 25-30 of us at the meal, and apart from the food (salmon terrine followed by pork, pasta and carrot soufflé, followed by pear tarte tatin), there was a quiz and a charade-type game. My table didn't win, but I learnt many interesting things in the quiz, such as the étiquette when a man takes a woman to a restaurant is for the man to enter first, check said restaurant is safe, appropriate and worthy of the woman, then allow the woman to enter! I also met another really nice girl from my block called Angélique, so all in all today was a pretty good day.

Woke up this morning to a little bit more snow, but from seeing friends in England's photos, it's nothing to get excited over! No work for me until next Thursday now, which probably means I should start cracking down reading for my research project :( Bye.
View out my kitchen window this morning. I want more snow!

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