So, it’s been a while since my last post and whilst we’ve kept busy, we haven’t really done anything exciting. I guess it had to happen sooner or later – we’ve settled in. I’ve had my hands full with a Uni assignment and we’ve moved house. Yes we moved out of our little box into a larger box – with a larger price tag I might add. Our previous residence, despite it’s small living area was a homely little place barely tainted by it’s close proximity to the sex shop downstairs. But, we couldn’t stay there long term as the lady who owns it is selling up.
Our new digs are in a residence especially put together for visiting foreign researchers and on first impressions was a luxurious step up. That impression was short lived as several things all conspired to make our stay somewhat irksome. Firstly, the internet access here costs nothing. Coincidently it works out that we are getting nothing. Access to the wireless network is browser based and if your browser isn’t up to scratch, you don’t have access. Secondly it’s getting cold here. Nights are already down to 5 degrees and the Australians are suffering. Upon enquiring if we could get more blankets and when could we expect the heating to be turned on, I was informed that the heating doesn’t normally come on until November and as for blankets well, I wasn’t the only one asking so I’d have to wait and see if there were any spare. WTF??? Picture if you will the family sitting around the breakfast table clad in their warmest clothes – including beanies – and clutching mugs of warm drinks in an attempt to start the day not feeling like Scott of the Antarctic.
TW continues to work hard and despite her outstanding grip on the French language, finds herself continually challenged by the stark differences in language when it comes to science. You’d think that in science, there would be a universal language but no. For example, she is not a researcher, but a chercheur. Samples are called echantillons (try saying that through a dodgy hospital intercom and be understood), and an experiment is called an experience. Furthermore, whilst not related to science but still an excellent example, a condom is called a préservatif. Keep that in mind if you ever visit France and wish to ask if your food has preservatives.
Anyway, CA is doing well at school. She’s not excelling by any means, understandable under the circumstances, but she continues to hold her own and her teacher is happy with her on several levels.
I while away the hours with uni (when I can be bothered) and just recently, I’ve volunteered with an organisation called Velocampus. They rent bicycles long-term to students and people can also become members for a small fee and have the use of their workshop and spares. Myself and the other volunteers assist those people who bring in their bikes for servicing or repair. The idea being that we talk them through the repairs letting them do most of the work. This way, we transfer our knowledge and the cyclist learns a bit more with each visit. It was just my luck that the first person I encountered had an old Peugeot folding bike from the 1970’s that was falling apart. After an hour and a half we got it to a state where it wasn’t in immediate danger of falling to bits when she sneezed, but there was still a long way to go when I walked out for the day.
Despite the cold weather we went on a family bike ride today. After a 3 Km ride along dedicated bike lanes, we left the streets behind and followed the river Sevre south east for a few k’s. It was a very pleasant ride along a green belt and the trail was a popular spot for locals running, riding and walking. We were constantly searching for spots of sunshine to try and thaw out along the way whilst some locals were hurling past on bikes wearing shorts! We made it back to our apartment and immediately tucked into hot chocolates to warm our insides. I’m soooo looking forward to winter! Oh, and as a foot note, the heating gets turned on tomorrow apparently.