Posts Tagged ‘moving’

Back in the Manchester Groove

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Guess where I am, kids! Row M, position 1 of the reading room spiral at Manchester Central Library. My favourite room in the city has welcomed me back, providing me with ergonomically inferior seating in a deliciously silent setting.

Central library

I took this photo the other day. I have since moved.

Currently in my direct line of sight is the arse crack of a man who looks weirdly like Sir Pubert Gladstone (oh good, he just changed positions so my eye balls aren’t hurting quite so much), and earlier I was sitting opposite a guy who was eating away at the skin of all of his fingers. He had to occasionally mop up the blood he was discharging with a dirty tissue. The library attracts all sorts.

I have been in Manchester for over a week now and I am feeling surprisingly settled. It is much, much, much easier to move to a city that you are already familiar with and that is home to people you have already met. I don’t have to start from scratch this time and I know where to go to buy the best value avocados. I have been able to catch up with some of my friends and I am no longer having to whinge to Sir Pubert via text messages. Now he is just a £1 bus ride away and I can nag him in person.

I am living in an area called Victoria Park which sounds fancy and once was. It used to be home to some well known and well to do folk – Mr Charles Dickens used to come and visit on occasion. Of course, that was then and it definitely isn’t now. It is now home to a largely student population and people whose incomes will only let them afford to live in student-like housing. Loads of character and plenty of potential. The apartment that I am sharing is in a building called The Gables which I am certain must have some sort of interesting history. It is next to a pub called The Rampant Lion which has recently reopened as a hotel/pub/trying to be fancy Halal Italian restaurant/beer garden/coffee shop/downstairs Middle Eastern restaurant/take away food outlet. The building is nice, the garden is nice, the beer menu is terrible.

Rampant Lion

View from my apartment window looking at the back of the Rampant Lion

The last week has mostly involved attempting to register for university but discovering that it is harder than it looks, and so doing some writing work in the library instead. On the weekend, I made use of the Heritage Open Days and visited a few historically and culturally significant buildings that were open to the public for free. This included a trip to Halifax with Sir Pubert, continuing our tradition of weekend outings involving a picnic lunch.

England countryside

England sure knows how to do ‘countryside’

Halifax wasn’t great, but the blue cheese, walnut, tomato and onion chutney sandwich that Sir Pubert made me certainly was.

Sandwich in Halifax


Weekend Plans

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

It is Friday afternoon. I haven’t achieved anything of any economic worth since I walked into the office six hours ago. I have written a meandering, fruitless piece about ‘Home’ but it isn’t what I want it to be and it severely lacks a conclusion. I went for a walk in the sunshine; that was nice. And I found out a guy I share my office with worked (and danced) with Alison Goldfrapp. Very cool. But that’s about it really. Not the most productive day. Having said that, I don’t think Fridays at work are ever productive. When I worked at Curtin, my co-workers and I would bring out the wine and cheese at 4pm having had an extended lunch break and a lot of general chit-chat throughout the day. At the Co-Op, no one would call and ask for IT support after 2pm on a Friday. So really, I have achieved a lot today. I feel better now.

The weekend is almost upon us which should bring joy to my heart and a spring to my step but this weekend isn’t shaping up to be a great one. I have two main tasks to complete in those 48 hours, neither of which spark much excitement or happiness.

Task #1. Pack everything I own into boxes in preparation to move apartment. Woo. I am trying to lessen the pain by reminding myself that the last time I moved it was much worse. Last time it was from Paris to Manchester and I had to send everything by post plus cart two suitcases and a backpack to Gare du Nord, onto a train to London, then walk to Euston Station, then get onto another train to Manchester, before wedging everything onto the back seat of my cousin’s VW Beetle and carrying it all up a flight of stairs to her spare room. Now that was FUN. This time I am moving two blocks away and my cousin, Caroline, is providing me with the services of herself and her car. And there are lifts.

But who likes packing? I have put a few things in boxes but every evening this week I have returned home with good intentions of packing EVERYTHING but then convinced myself that I may need to use each and every item that I own sometime between now and Monday and if I pack then I will just need to get it back out of a box. So it has come down to this weekend where I will have to take a no-excuses attitude and just get it done. I am gaining some enjoyment from the fact that I am packing my things into boxes branded with Salt ‘n’ Vinegar, Char-Grill Steak, and Sweet Chilli flavoured crisp packets. I asked my local Sainsburys if I could have some boxes and the manager left a note for the unpackers to ‘leave 4-5 crisp boxes for a lady named Jess.’ I’m not sure why crisp boxes are the best for apartment relocations but they are working out well.

Task #2. Run 18 miles. The time has arrived for me to do my longest training run before the marathon and a sports store that is sponsoring the marathon (Up&Running) have organised an 18 mile practise run on Sunday. As running 18 miles on your own is really, really boring, I have decided it is a good opportunity to do the run and not fall asleep in the process. I am actively avoiding converting 18 miles into kilometres because then I will have a far better understanding of how far I will be running and then I might cry. Best to just whack on my shoes and follow the crowd.

So basically my weekend is going to involve a great deal of pain. However, in between all of this I am also going to watch my friend Nat play roller derby (which is probably even more painful than my two activities combined) and eat food. So I guess it isn’t all bad.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Administrative Fun

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Moving to a new city/country/apartment/life is a definitely challenge for one’s ability to comprehend and juggle various administrative tasks. Firstly you have to close, cancel or put on hold anything that you had in your original location, and then reopen new accounts in your new place of residence. The last few weeks for me have involved many moments of “What on earth is that?” and “I need a what before I can have this?” and “I don’t have one of those yet. It’s coming in the mail.”

Bank accounts, SIM cards, broadband, insurance numbers (which I didn’t know I needed until an Australian told me about them), council tax, council tax benefits, rental agreements etc. It is an endless list that is also quite cyclical, as in order to apply for one thing, you need the other. It would be very helpful if when you cross the border into England, the Customs officer handed you a piece of paper with a check list with all of the things you need to do after entering the country. Then some sort of time line showing you when to do what and in what order. I’d be willing to create this except I still don’t think I quite understand everything yet. I am waiting for the next administrative discovery.

My lack of internet and technology (I don’t have a printer) has meant that I have wandered the city in search of various offices in order to speak to people or pick up forms. It has meant that I have managed to see buildings that I wouldn’t normally have ventured into! Plus there’s the amazing wonder of actually speaking to friendly staff members. I am yet to find a grumpy Mancunian.

Hello, Manchester.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Isn’t it remarkable how much can change in just a few days. This time last week I was in Paris, carrying large boxes to the Post Office and saying goodbye to my friends. I had a wonderful going away party on Wednesday night with so many of my friends coming to wish me bon voyage. It is moments like this that make me realise how lucky I am to be able to have so many friends in so many different parts of the world.

Now I am sitting in an almost-sunny room in my ‘cousin”s house in Swinton. Ahhh Swinton. Centre of the universe. Well, it is a neighbourhood/town within Greater Manchester and is therefore great. I surrounded the word cousin with inverted commas as my relationship with Lesley is quite complicated. Her grandmother was my great grandfather’s sister. Her great grandfather/mother were my great-great grandfather/mother. So you could say we’re close. We do share a love for Volkswagen Beetles so we are obviously related.

I arrived in Manchester last Thursday afternoon, having dragged, carried, lifted and shoved one large heavy suitcase, one small heavy suitcase, and one heavy backpack from my apartment in Paris to Gare du Nord, onto the Eurostar, then from St Pancras station in London to Euston Station, onto another train, and then through Manchester train station to Lesley’s car. We then had to drop the hood on Lesley’s convertible Beetle to get my bags onto the back seat. The transfer of my worldly possessions from France to England went relatively successfully and I am very pleased with my bags and would like to give a big tick of approval to Burton for my large suitcase and the Taiwanese manufacturing company that made the small 10 Euro case.

Leaving the Récollets.

Leaving the Récollets.

I only had to have one argument with a snooty-nosed woman on the train to Manchester who wasn’t impressed that I was rearranging the tiny bag rack on the Virgin train (Useless. Utterly useless.) and that I was therefore touching/moving her bag. She reminded me of a high school English or Economics teacher who has been doing her job for too long. Grumpy grumpy grumpy. Anyway, I made sure to be as polite as possible as loudly as possible and to point out the fact that her bag would be significantly safer if it wasn’t squashed underneath my very large suitcase. I’m reasonably certain that I had the rest of the train passengers on my side.

Since arriving I have organised a SIM card, opened a bank account and am in the process of signing a lease for an apartment in the city. Things are coming together very quickly, largely thanks to the superb organisational skills of Lesley. She is very good at reminding me to call real estate agents. And organising theatre tickets. In the next month I am already going to see two shows, plus a movie and my social calendar is full. Sure, I am mostly hanging out with people over the age of 60, but they’re seriously cool over-60-ers. I love it.

So this is my news so far. As I look out of the window the sunshine has disappeared and been replaced by rain. I have had three beautiful sunny days so far but now the dreary drizzle is returning. It wouldn’t be England if it didn’t rain.

Old building. New building.

Old building. New building.

It’s the Final Count Down (Again)…

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

I have lots of final count downs. Two years ago it was counting down to moving to Paris and now it is for leaving. Apologies for not having written in a while but my life has literally turned upside down and inside out and then been stuck together with packing tape. I am writing this from my apartment which is very quickly turning back into its original prison-cell-like form with only hard plastic furniture and bare walls. Yesterday a friend came and took my couch so I now have no where comfortable to sit. This is probably a good thing as staying inside is less and less appealing and I have been going for a lot of long walks through Paris (in the snow).

So what has been happening…? Lots. Apart from unintentionally starting the War of the Anglosaxons, I have been spending most of my days packing, cleaning, calculating box weights and how much I can fit in my suitcase, eating, working, and catching up with friends. It has been busy busy busy which is somewhat pleasing as it doesn’t give me time to feel too sad about the fact that I am leaving. Today is Sunday – so I have four more full days in Paris before my time here is up. Of course, it won’t be forever and at least I know I will be back in April to do a stupidly long run and eat more good food. Plus I will soon be a surrogate Aunt and will need to return to play with my adopted nephew and I have friends to visit! So Paris and I aren’t over yet – as my mum hates me pointing out, it’s not like I am going back to Australia.

Over the next few days I plan on eating as many delicious pastries as possible in between working out how to get all of my stuff to England. I had a successful day with the post office on Friday after I carried 30 kilograms worth of books there by hand to send on to Australia and England. There is a special shipping rate for sending books but you can only send them in 5 kilogram lots. So I had spent the first half of the week scrounging in Parisian bins looking for small cardboard boxes. I am quite fortunate to live near a clothing warehouse area and every night there are hundreds of cardboard boxes out for rubbish collection. So I became a crazy hobo and got my hands dirty and managed to find enough perfectly sized boxes to send my books. When I got the boxes to the Post Office I managed to smile nicely and flutter my eyelashes enough for the Post Office Man to ‘overlook’ the extra 100 grams in some of the boxes. It makes a huge difference! To send 5 kilograms of books to England cost 8 Euros. To send 5.1 kilograms of books to England cost 34 Euros. I had to repack two of the boxes but now they are all on their way to opposite sides of the globe.

Boxes o' Books.

Boxes o’ Books.

I am most likely going to send two or three boxes with FedEx as it is cheaper AND they will come and pick the boxes up from my apartment! And plus I can then say I FedExed them and that makes me feel like I’m in a movie.

So that is my exciting packing news. Tomorrow I plan on going to the Australian Embassy to vote in the Western Australian state election which will either be really exciting or really disappointingly frustrating. I am betting on the second option. But at least the Embassy is next to the Eiffel Tower so I can pop over and see that while I am there. Give a final salute to the big pointy thing.

Two Years

Friday, February 1st, 2013

I am currently waiting the arrival of my certificate and prize money for having officially survived two years in Paris. That’s right! I, Jessica Davies, have overcome all odds and have managed to live in in one of the rudest, dirtiest, smelliest and most self-absorbed cities in the world. Luckily it is also one of the most beautiful, remarkable and instantly smile-inducing places to live and it has brought me some of the best experiences of my life.

Now that we have officially moved over into February, I have a month left in Paris before I get kicked out. This isn’t very long. Every day I think of new things that I MUST DO before I leave and that list is becoming longer than the number of days I have left. Luckily Europe is a tiny place and no matter where I end up next Paris won’t be far away and I have plenty of spare beds and fold-out sofas available to me thanks to my wonderful friends. I am contemplating making them all compete for my love by pitting them against each other in a Hospitality Battle. Whose sleeping arrangements are most comfortable? Whose bathroom is cleanest? Who serves the best breakfast? Who folds down my sheets and places a small chocolate on my pillow?

Me being me, I have an intense desire to write a self reflective piece about what I have achieved, what I have learnt about myself, what was good, what was bad etc etc. But I suspect no one really wants to hear it so I won’t. Instead I will simply say that the last two years have been two of the greatest years of my life and despite some extremely difficult moments and some disappointments, I am proud of what I have achieved while being here. That mostly being having eaten the most cake of any person in the entire world without getting fat. Speaking of – as it is Friday morning and I am doing a long run tomorrow, I didn’t go for my morning jog and instead baked myself a celebratory cake. It is technically for a dinner party that I am going to tonight, but no one will notice if a piece is missing.

Happy 2 years, me!


Celebratory banana bread

Celebratory banana bread


Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Last Saturday I helped my friend Jen and her boyfriend Laurent move from their separate apartments into their new love nest. I have only met Jen twice – she is a friend of my cousin who got married and I met her at the wedding – but when the opportunity to stick my nose into three Parisian apartments came along, I couldn’t resist volunteering to help.

Thankfully Jen appears to be a highly organised and very well prepared person, so all of their things were packed and ready to go when a group of nine or so friends turned up at 9.30am. There was coffee and biscuits with smiley faces on them – everyone was impressed and in good spirits. And so it began.

I have never really been involved in the moving of houses before except for when I was very young and was given tiny things to carry so that I felt special. This time it was serious AND it was in Paris which meant we had to deal with the concept of carrying household items and boxes from the apartment to the truck. Without a lift. And their two apartments were on the fifth and fourth floors. Thankfully, I am a girl, and therefore was not required to lift anything larger than my torso. It was left to the manly men to carry couches, washing machines and cupboards out of the tiny doorways, through impossibly tight hallways and then down the narrow flights of stairs.

Moving truck

Of course a removal truck in Paris has a naked lady on it.

Jen had come up with a great team-work system involving one group of people carrying the boxes from the fifth to the second storey, and then another group carrying the boxes the rest of the way. That way we weren’t going up and down five flights of stairs for each box. It worked well but two or three sets of stairs is just as bad as five.

It was weirdly fun and the time passed quickly. But by the time we came to put all of the stuff into their new apartment we were all exhausted, hungry and thrilled to see a rather large elevator that made the transportation of their things so much easier. Hooray for modern technology!

Jen and Laurent then whipped out baguettes and cheese and ham for us to gorge ourselves on after six hours of heavy lifting. I came away with some scratches on my arms and two impressive bruises on my hips, plus some very sexy leg muscles from climbing all of those stairs. And I made some new friends! It’s amazing how a bit of brutal physical activity can bring people together.