Posts Tagged ‘sick’

If I Ignore It…

Monday, December 9th, 2013

I don’t do sick. I will generally refuse to accept that something is wrong with me, ignore it and just continue with my usual routine in the hope that whatever is trying to bring me down will get the message and go away. Last Tuesday, after six hours of talking on the phone at work, it felt as if a very discontent cat was stuck inside my throat trying to claw its way out. I took some cold tablets and went to bed early, declaring it would be gone the following morning.

It didn’t go away and instead that cat insisted on turning into some sort of ‘cold’ thing that should have been and gone by now. Instead, yesterday (Sunday) morning I woke up with some slightly sticky eyes, a slightly unpleasant experience that has now progressed into GIANT RED PUFFBALLS EXPLODING WITH GREEN GOO. I am not looking my most attractive. In fact, I look hideous. So hideous that I am not going in to work today (something I never ever do) to avoid making all of my hot-desking colleagues look as gorgeous as me. The sharing of keyboards and blue-tooth headsets makes for easy disease spreading.

But really, who gets conjunctivitis as an adult? I have always considered it to be something kids get like chicken pox and nits. I remember getting conjunctivitis as a child and waking up unable to open my eyes. In those days I could call out to my mum who would save me from the eye-goo and let me watch videos instead of going to school. But now I am a grown woman and my mum is on the other side of the world. This morning when I woke up to discover that my eyelashes had sealed themselves together I had no one to call out to. It was just me and Google, working out whether or not I would survive or if I should amputate my eye balls. Plus, I have had to resort to writing a blog entry telling of my woes,  calling out to the internet for sympathy. The worst part is that conjunctivitis isn’t even serious and, according to Wikipedia, will just clear up on its own. No drugs or intensive physiotherapy required. In fact, all I have to do is stay away from other people so that they don’t catch my disease and they don’t have to deal with looking at my ugly face. If roles were reversed and I was reading these pathetic whines I would tell myself to man up! Snap out of it! And I will eventually, but until I cease looking like a distressed mole I might just make myself feel better with dark chocolate digestive biscuits.

The Final Day (For Now)

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

So here it is: my last full day in Paris. I get on the plane tomorrow afternoon and head off at 2.30pm, France time. I arrive in Dubai one minute before midnight, Dubai time, then get on another plane and get home at 5.30pm, Perth time. WHAT FUN! OH BOY! I CAN’T WAIT! Twenty hours of travel and plane time! Squished into a cozy seat! Listening to the constant hum of the plane! Eating at least four delicious meals of who knows what! Excitement plus. I know you’re all jealous.

My plans for my final day in Paris had originally involved Nutella crêpes, however over the past three days I appear to have stressed myself into a state of “Stupid Stomach” and my desire to eat such delights has completely disappeared. I know… how can this be?! It is terrible news and I’m not proud of it, but I am going out for dinner this evening with Tom and hopefully I will be able to stomach something chocolatey then. If not then I deserve to return to Perth. How dare I live in a city of deliciousness and not sample the goods! For shame.

I have to say that it doesn’t seem particularly real that I am leaving and the concept that Tom and I have been living in Paris for an entire year does not compute. It feels both shorter and longer at the same time. We have managed to do so much, see so much, make so many great friends and eat so much extremely good food, that surely we have been here for longer than 12 months? At the same time, a year is a long time but it has passed so quickly. I am overwhelmingly happy to know that I have secured our apartment for another year and that it is highly probable that I will be returning. I just need that visa… If I wasn’t coming back I think my stomach ache would have evolved into all of my limbs falling off.

So what did we do in each of these months? Let’s do a month-by-month breakdown! YAAYY!!

February
Arrived in Paris in -3 degree weather.  Bought lots of stuff for our apartment including an awesome miniature oven. Saw Rich Hall perform in a tiny room on the other side of the canal (he’s coming back while I am away. Boo…)

March
The sun started to shine and flowers came out. We went to Nancy and Custines. We got gastro. I bought a sewing machine.

April
We went to Morlaix and Mont Saint Michel. Tom got the flu. We saw Morcheeba in concert. We went to Lyon with Rom and Coup.  We went to Germany for Tom’s Opa’s funeral. I got my first Parisian haircut (unsuccessfully.) Mum and Dad came to visit.

May
We went to Madrid with Rom and Coup and had the best time ever. Tom’s parents came to visit. We went to Holland and met up with my parents. We went bike riding and mud walking.

June
We went to Germany and travelled with Tom’s parents. We went to Crete. We hired a scooter and drove around the island. We ate lots of food. We went swimming at the beach. It was Fête de la Musique in Paris. I successfully completed a 10km fun run.

July
I became a tour guide. It was warm and sunny. Rom and Coup went home. It was Bastille Day and we went to a ‘ball’ at a fire station and watched fireworks from the roof of the Récollets. I had my second, far more successful, hair cut in Paris. We watched Cadel Evans win the Tour de France on the Champs Elysee.

August
I sold my first sock creature from Paris. I discovered Kooka Boora. My Nanna came to visit. I spent weeks trying to find a restaurant for Tom’s birthday dinner. It was Tom’s birthday. We went to London. We saw Underworld perform while standing in mud.

September
It was my birthday!! We went to New York. We went to Maine and ate fresh lobster. My brother came to visit.

October
We went to Lisbon and Porto in Portugual. We ate good food and drank nice wine. We went swimming at the beach. We went to the Salon du Chocolat and ate way too much chocolate. We had a halloween party at the Récollets. We ate oysters and charcuterie, and drank wine off car bonnets.

November
I wrote 50,000 words in less than a month. Autumn arrived and all of the leaves fell and looked so pretty. We made rabbit stew with our friend Friso. I made a pumpkin pie for a thanks giving dinner. I accidentally ate tête de veau.

December
I made a science laboratory out of socks and displayed them in an exhibition at Café A. We went to a big wine tasting show at the Récollets. I put up Christmas decorations. It didn’t snow. We went to Germany for Christmas and stayed with Tom’s Oma. We ate lunch at the single table at Les Têtes dans les Olives. We went to Gouda for New Year.

January
We celebrated the arrival of 2012 with my family in Holland. We didn’t go mud walking. It rained a lot. Ben was in Paris for a few days. I started my count down for leaving Paris, doing one fun activity every day until I got sick.

So that’s it! There is my year in summary. Not a bad one, if I do say so myself. Now I am going to go and visit my favourite bakery lady and buy my last baguette for lunch. And then I have to pack. Dang.

News from Perth soon. Thanks for living this year with me.

A la Bretagne

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Grave apologies for the lack of posts. Actually, no… My Dad said to me via email that it is good when he doesn’t hear from me as it means I am too busy doing enjoyable things. Therefore if I don’t write on my blog it is because I am far too busy discovering new places, travelling, shopping, eating etc to spend time telling you about it. But today my planned shopping trip with my friend Pip has been postponed and so I am finally having a day at home. And so I shall write.

I think I will do as I did when I returned home from Nancy and write a list of things to write about in case I forget. Ok, here’s what you have to look forward to:

  1. More sickness
  2. Bretagne in all its glory
    • Crepes
    • Coastline and countryside
    • Friends
    • Salted butter caramel
  3. Mont Saint Michel and impressive tidal movements
  4. The weirdest salmon dish I have ever eaten.

Ok, that will do. I have other things to write about but they fit under other categories and will have to appear separately. Ready? GO!

So Tuesday afternoon I wandered around Montmartre shopping with my Australian friends, Rom and Sam. I bought an amazing dress from a wonderful clothing store called Aeschne and was served, dressed and sold the dress by the woman who made it. I also had a chat with a model who was in all of the photographs scattered around the store. I didn’t just talk to the photos – she was actually there and was very friendly. Anyway, the dress is a beautiful blue silk and is just stunning. I am now searching for a reason to wear it and will continue to hint to Tom that he needs to take me out for a nice meal. You can see the dress if you go to the Aeschne website and look at the Automne/Hiver 2010 collection and look for the picture of a short-haired woman standing against a white wall. My dress is a nicer colour though. And it looks WAY better on me.

So my point is that I had a good day but at about 5.30pm my stomach started turning on me again and I felt like the dread E-coli was returning. It didn’t completely but I did have a dinner of plain rice and boiled broccoli (which I actually enjoyed). On top of this, Tom had been complaining about feeling off all day but as I decided I was feeling worse I ignored him.

The next day we got up early (too early – we ended up waiting about 40 minutes at the train station because we were too organised) and caught the metro to Montparnasse before catching a train to Morlaix in Bretagne. Tom spent most of the train ride groaning and saying he was sickly, which I continued to ignore. We arrived in Morlaix and were met by Sarah (a friend who had been staying at Tom’s house the week before we left for Paris. Sarah is French and her husband, Brandon, is American and they live in Paris but are spending the year travelling through Australia. They had to return to Paris for a few weeks to sort out Brandon’s visa) who took us to her house for lunch before showing us around Morlaix. That evening, Tom lay in bed with a fever as he had apparently caught the flu and actually was sick. Damn.

 

Sick Tom

French blood tests are just as gross as Australian blood tests – I had to watch in case he fainted and I had to translate his unconscious groans.

So Tom ended up spending about two and a half days in bed while Sarah and Brandon took me exploring in Bretagne. Tom went to the doctor and had a blood test which I kept trying to talk-up as an ‘exciting experience in France’! I don’t think Tom felt the same way.

Bretagne is beautiful – rugged coastline, beaches and green, green, green countryside. We had one day of amazing sunshine and Sarah took me (Tom stayed home) on a long drive along the northern coast of France, visiting little coastal towns along the way. A highlight – galettes and crepes for lunch (a galette is a savoury crepe). Also being able to walk along the beach in the sunshine and inhale fresh sea air was quite wonderful. It has been awhile and I am getting a bit sick of Paris’s pollution and general secondary-smoke.

 

Bretagne

From a cold and windy day...

Bretagne

To sunshine by the beach – Bretagne has it all.

It was nice to be in a family environment again and to speak a bit of French. It is quite strange talking to Sarah and Brandon in French as I spent a week talking to them in English in Perth but now that we are in France it seems only appropriate to change languages. Speaking French with Brandon is very weird – he is American so it is instinctual to speak to him in English but we spent a lot of our time speaking in French. I guess when you are surrounded by the language it is easier to just stick to it rather than constantly reverting back. I do enjoy jumping between English and French with people who can speak both languages. It adds a new level to conversations and you can explain yourself to a much greater extent. Somethings sound better in French than English and vice versa.

I think it is about time that I wrote about the food. As I have previously mentioned, galettes and crepes are products of Bretagne and it is customary to drink cider with them. As they say, do as the locals. While I find eating galettes fun and a bit naughty, I’m not sure I would choose to eat them often. Crepes, on the other hand, I would eat at the end of every meal if I wasn’t guaranteed to get fat. Particularly if they are filled with nutella…

 

Galette

Spot the difference between a galette...

Crepe

... and a crepe

I also sampled a cake which was made from pastry, sugar and butter and butter and butter and butter. You had to drink a litre of water after every mouthful as it was so buttery. So so good. And then there was the salted butter caramel. I’m generally not that interested in caramel but this stuff was amazing. On our way to Mont Saint Michel, Sarah took us to Saint Malo where we had afternoon tea at an amazing cafe with amazing cakes. I had a piece of chocolate and caramel tart which was one of the greatest things I have ever eaten in my life. Crispy tart base with a huge slab of gooey, buttery caramel and then a thick layer of dark chocolate on top. My eyes almost popped out of my head as I ate it. It was a huge piece and I doubted my ability to finish it, but I did. I worked through it and I made it to the end. I am proud of my achievements.

 

Chocolate and Caramel Tart

Look at it! That's a burst artery.

So the few days we spent with Sarah and Brandon were full of fun and exploration (and Tom’s constant coughing fits and general groans) and it was sad to part ways. At least we did it at the top of Mont Saint Michel as we were being surrounded by approaching tides. Very cool.

So, for those of you who don’t know, Mont Saint Michel is an island off the coast of Normandy on top of which there is an abbey dating back to the 700s. It has become a bit of a tourist haunt as most days of the year (as the moon prescribes) during the day the tide goes out and you can walk across the sand (being careful to avoid quick sand) to the island, while at night the tides return and the island is surrounded by water. There is a dyke with a road allowing for easy access these days but you still need to remove your car from certain car parks before the water returns to avoid having it washed away.

 

Mont Saint Michel

Wow.

We arrived on the island at about 5.30pm and stood in the rain and slightly cool temperatures until 7.45pm and watched the water come in from the ocean.

 

Mont Saint Michel

The water approaches

It was one of the most amazing natural phenomena that I have ever seen. I put it on a similar scale to seeing the salt lakes near Menzies in Western Australia – truly spectacular. It started slowly – you could see the water approaching from the ocean far off in the distance and slowly covering the sand. Then, at about 7.15pm, it all started happening – the water broke over the lip of sand and you could see waves of water sweeping across and filling every hole it could find in the sand. The current was strong and before we knew it we were surrounded by water. Of course, my camera ran out of batteries as the water really started doing its thing, but you can see some photos and movies on my flickr site if you are interested.

 

Mont Saint Michel

Waves!

Staying on Mont Saint Michel was nice as there were hardly any other tourists around, but it was also very touristy and every shop and restaurant was set up to remove money from us. We knew we would have no option but to eat rubbish touristy food and so tried to find the best option. I don’t think we made a wise decision. We each had a set menu which is the normal deal for tourist restaurants. The food was edible but not special and my main meal was one of the most thought-provoking dishes I have ever eaten. I ordered “saumon avec riz de bretagne” – simply translated, it means salmon with rice of Bretagne. It sounded ok – I like salmon and rice so I couldn’t go too wrong. The salmon was a fairly average fillet but at least it was salmon. The rice consisted of two inverted cups of rice – one flavoured with saffron, the other was some sort of ‘wild rice’. Tasteless but I love plain rice so that was ok. It was the sauce that really got me – I think they were trying to make a béarnaise sauce but I’m not sure what they were thinking. I’m fairly certain they had whipped it, creating a soft, fluffy sauce that was just WEIRD. The fish was completely surrounded (swimming, if you will) in the stuff. Further consideration of the dish makes me wonder if perhaps the chefs were trying to represent Mont Saint Michel and the tidal movements in the form of a seafood meal. Whatever they were thinking, they should think again.

 

Salmon

Just weird.

The other problem with Mont Saint Michel is accessing it without a car. We had to catch a train from Rennes, a town 1.5 hours away at 6.30pm and so we figured we had plenty of time to wander the island before catching a connecting bus to the train station. Luckily I decided to check the bus timetable in the morning and discovered we would have to catch a bus at 2.30pm in order to be in Rennes at the right time. There were only four buses a day and the last bus would arrive 15 minutes after our train left. So we visited the abbey, wandered through the town, ate a quick lunch before catching the bus to Rennes and wandering aimlessly through the town for 2.5 hours. Luckily the weather was beautiful and Rennes is a lovely town so it wasn’t so bad. But considering the bus connection between Mont Saint Michel and Rennes is promoted as being the way to get there, it was quite disappointing.

 

Rennes

Look at how French Rennes is!

So a great week away was had and we returned to Paris being not all that excited to see rubbish and filth and dog-poo everywhere again. That said, this week Paris has had amazingly warm weather and I have been quite happy to wander aimlessly through the streets. The parks are in full bloom and every evening the canal is chock-a-block full with people sitting by the water drinking wine and eating Pringles. Tom and I joined them on Wednesday night with beer and cashews before trying out another local restaurant. Very, very pleasant. I think we will be doing that a lot in summer.

 

Beer and the canal

Good times.

Canal

All of the French people were silly and faced away from the nice view

Canal

But not the Australians!

Six Days Later…

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I need to write a list of “need to write about”s so that I don’t forget anything. So much to write about… It has been six days since my last confession and lots of things seem to happen in very short periods of time here. Just crazy. Ok, here’s the list:

  1. New members of the family
  2. Internet speeds
  3. The night of the toilet
  4. The return to Custines
  5. Tom speaks French
  6. A parcel in the post

Ok, I hope you have a nice cup of tea and are sitting comfortably because this will be a long one. Ready? LET’S GO!

1. New members of the family

Tom and my ‘family’ is continually extending – first there was Seb the oven and now we have Gerome the pig. Last week we were excited to welcome a brand new addition to the household – Serge, my sewing machine.

Singer sewing machine

Welcome home, Serge!

Serge is a Singer 1507 and he’s very handsome. I am actually yet to use him because when he arrived I was too tired and fell asleep (see discussion point 3) and then we went away (discussion point 4) and then we went for a walk yesterday. So if I manage to write this fast enough I might whip him out before meeting Pip this afternoon. Otherwise tomorrow is sewing day. Soon our house will be full of material scraps and lint. Excitement plus.

Singer sewing machine

Serge with two new sock creatures I prepared earlier

2. Internet speeds

Our internet appears to be slightly faster than it was previously which is bringing much excitement and happiness to our lives. Last night I even managed to upload photos to Flickr AND look at websites! That’s some sort of miracle. Sadly, it isn’t as lightning fast as it could be and it is still generally terrible, but web pages actually load now which is a great start.

3. The Night of the Toilet

Warning: The following discussion point contains graphic details that may induce nausea.

So Tuesday was a lovely sunny day and Tom and I walked around Montmartre and visited Sacre Coeur and then had lunch at a cafe near our house. We both had salads which were tasty and then we had a light dinner of a roast vegetable salad prepared by me. We were excited about our impending trip (the next morning we were heading to Nancy) and yet Tom started to feel a bit queazy at around 11pm. I ignored him and went to bed but couldn’t help but notice the sounds of regurgitation coming from the bathroom at around 12.30am.

After cleaning up Tom’s mess, I started feeling what I presumed was sympathetic nausea but which very quickly turned into full on gastro and I spent from 1am until 4am sitting on the floor in the bathroom next to the toilet, waiting for the next wave. I haven’t thrown up since I was about 12 and I was quite happy about this fact. It is NOT fun. Never again will I roll my eyes when someone tells me they had gastro. I’m a generally unsympathetic nurse and for once I could see why people complain.

Anyway at 6am I rolled and groaned out of bed and cancelled our train tickets to Nancy. So sad. Luckily we could get a refund on one of the tickets and we rebooked for the next day. Despite having a nickname of “rabbit” due to my excess love for green leafy food, I have suddenly been turned off salads. Give me meat.

4. The Return to Custines

Once we eventually made it onto the train early Thursday morning (it was great! Our train left at 8.12am and all we had to do was cross the road and walk 100m to get there!) we headed towards my old hangout of Nancy. I spent 7 months living and teaching English in a small country town near Nancy called Custines and it is an area of France that is very close to my heart. People tease me and wonder why I am so obsessed with it but it is where I grew to love this country. Custines may be a hole but it’s a nice hole.

We spent a day with my friend Christelle, one of the english teachers that I worked with, and her family and visited the new Pompidou Centre in Metz. A wonderful art gallery with amazing architecture – definitely worth the visit.

Pompidou Centre Metz

The Pompidou Centre in Metz

I love spending time with families when I am in a foreign country. Already we have managed to get an invite into a few French family homes and it is so nice to see how they function and to be a part of it. Meal times are especially great – particularly the cheese course which arrives between the main meal and dessert. This is the best way to sample French cheeses – they’ve been selected by French people so they must be good.

I took Tom to Custines on Friday to see where I spent seven months of my life. Custines isn’t exciting (although there is a new kebab restaurant and cycle paths!) and it isn’t big but in my eyes it is beautiful. Tom made comparisons to Bridgetown where he grew up as Custines is located at the bottom of sweeping valleys and green hills. Bridgetown is slightly bigger but still, a fair comparison. I didn’t manage to bump into any of my old students except for one who I pretended I didn’t see because he was a rude brat and he wouldn’t have wanted to speak to me anyway. The saddest thing I saw was that my dodgy Champion supermarket had been taken over by the bigger Carrefour chain and it is now open during lunchtimes AND Sunday mornings! That is an outrage! That is family time and church time not shopping time! How dare Carrefour bring consumerism to Custines. Unimpressed.

Custines

I'm back!

Friday evening and Saturday Tom and I spent with Melany (one of my ex-students (she was 12 when I first knew her and now she is reading Great Expectations and has a better level of English than me…) and her family. We felt so welcome in their home and were fed like royalty. Melany was the only one who could speak english so I am losing my voice from speaking lots of French and translating for Tom. That said, Tom did remarkably well and impressed our guests with his effort at speaking French. I was just as impressed – he had conversations on his own and managed to understand a few things. Such a clever boy.

It was a fantastic weekend and I was sad to leave. We have new friends with Melany’s family now so we will hopefully go back and visit again at the end of the year to show everyone how much Tom’s french has improved.

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas in Nancy

5. Tom Speaks French

I have already talked about this… Tom spoke french. It was impressive. Hooray for him!

6. Parcel in the Post

My parents sent me a parcel which was very exciting because a. I love getting mail and b. it had stuff in it. They sent me a copy of the local Post newspaper, two tubes of pawpaw gel which is the cure for everything and very much needed in these evil cold French temperatures, 2 pairs of socks to make sock creatures with, my delicious magazine which had arrived in the mail and my incomplete sock creature who I left at home. It’s amazing how exciting receiving socks in the mail can be.

Sock creature
Please make me into something beautiful

Phew! Well I think that is enough for today. I have to go and catch a train to Saint Germain now to meet my friend Pip. We’re going to have lunch and explore. We do this often and usually end up buying things. It’s great! Tom starts his French classes this afternoon and is supposed to be studying but has spent the morning grooming himself to look beautiful for class.

For more photos, please visit my flickr site.