Monday, November 28, 2005

Facades from the past

There's a nice feature in the online version of the French telephone directory that, for some towns and cities, throws up a picture of the front of the building you're looking for: PagesJaunes : Photos de Villes Here is the first building I lived in in Bordeaux:

We lived in a one-bedroom flat on the second floor with a view of the synagogue right across the road. This was the mid-eighties and everyone was pretty jumpy around synagogues, so on a Friday evening the whole street was blocked off and policemen strutted up and down in front of the building, machine guns at the ready. The inside of the building was nicer than the outside : we even had carpeted stairs. The flat itself was entirely decorated in brown — chocolate brown carpets and chocolate brown hessian on the walls but since we didn't have any furniture colour co-ordination was no problem. The girl next door was a prostitute. P. spent the first few months believing she was some sort of community social worker.

After about five years we moved here.

This time it was little two-bedroom house with a courtyard at the front and a garden at the back. I know it doesn't look like a house — you had to go in that green door and, walk through this building and straight out the back to our tiny house. It had a lovely feel about it, lots of different levels and a very private little garden but it must have been the dampest place in the whole of France. In winter, water seeped in through the blocked up chimney breast in the bedroom leaving huge damp patches that quickly turned black. After about a week, all of our clothes smelled of mildew. Looking back, I wonder how we managed to stick it out for seven years.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

...a thousand words

The entire planet seems to be blogging pictures of snow. Dooce has a nice one here We had mini flurry for three microseconds on Saturday morning and since no-one is interested in photos of unrelenting rain, I give you a ....... graph.
This is what happens if you ...... Oh, you know what I mean. ...

What gave you your biggest peak?

Category: web stats

Sweetness and Light

Okay, I think we've established that that recent post was a tad unsporting, so to erase the weasel-me from your memories, here is a summary from the fluffy-bunny me of the blogs I love to read — the ones for which my heart gives a little hop and skip when I see they've been updated. Maybe you can guess who they are without clicking.

This one because I get to vicariously plan a trip to Melbourne, drink raspberry vodka, experience the Swiss education system and because she lives with four men for goodness sake. This one because anyone who simmers her own pizza topping from heaven all day long and inspires hope that perhaps slightly older children are easier to deal with, has to be a good person. This one because I get to vicariously plan a wedding in France (not to mention a hag night), and also drink lashings of virtual champagne in the process. This one because it offers a nice fresh view of living in France, not my jaded and cynical one, and also because I can't sing and she can (and I wish she lived down here because then I could help her find that elusive job). This one because it unfailingly makes me chuckle out loud and reminds me of what it was like to have a tiny little baby without actually having to do the nappy thing and the rocking in my-tired-arms-all-night thing. This one because Scottish humour is the best. This one because I don't have a house in the country but I'd like one, and because taking a photo at the same time every day is such a fantastic concept. This one because I wish I could take photos this crisp. This one because sometimes I'd love to be in my early twenties again, footloose and a fancy free with a mega gift for writing and being funny. This one because it has soul. This one because it's good to witness someone emerge from depression doodling.

I could go on and on. I haven't mentioned the work-related ones: This one and this one , for instance, because these people really think about what they're doing in the classroom/ behind the scenes. This one because translating is not an easy job, and if I had to translate each of my posts into French, I'd never post anything.

Now, when I click my fingers, you will wake up and you will have completely forgotten that I am not all sweetness and light. Click.


Imagination Cubed

This is fun. You can draw pictures and invite friends to come and contribute to them. It might be useful in class for everyone to brainstorm simultaneously with words or doodles.

Imagination Cubed

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cutting Back

I spend far too much time reading blogs. I’m sure you all agree it’s a shameful, compulsive disorder. So I’m cutting down. I’m going on a draconian low blog diet. I’m going to have a balanced healthy blogroll featuring only contents that are good for me. So who’s getting the chop? Well anyone who hasn’t posted for over two months for a start (adios most of my EVO chums). There are, however, some more borderline decisions to be made:

UPDATE: I took the rest of this post off because it was mean-spirited and I ended up regretting it.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Six Feet Over

Bye bye Nate. Bye bye Claire. Bye bye Brenda. Bye bye David and Keith, Bye bye Ruth..... We've been practically living together for the past week and what a depressing, dysfunctional lot you are, although I loved you dearly. So now it's all over and I'm left wondering :

If I died and P. married someone else (Brenda) and then he suddenly died, would that other woman (Brenda) then become the sole legal guardian of my children?

Right, enough of that, let's move on (as my erstwhile TV friends would say), time to get back to a more reasonable schedule because watching TV series into the wee samll hours, several days in a row does not an on-the-ball teacher make.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005


At last, I have at my disposal the whole fifth series of “Six Feet Under”. Don’t ask me how I got it because I would have to kill you if I told you. Suffice to say, it took a loooooong time. It’s now half past nine in the evening and P’s still at work. I reckon that if I started watching right now I could watch the entire series and still be at the fac for my first class at 10H15 tomorrow morning.
But if I did that I would not be able to :

• Clear up the dinner dishes
• Empty the washing machine (I know, I know, what exciting and debauched evenings I have)
• Put the monsters back in bed after their numerous incursions back downstairs (so they'd have to watch too)
• Mark the forty homework assignments my students expect to get back tomorrow morning
• Read and correct the English in an extremely boring, I mean important article for a medical journal (the one I promised to have done for the beginning of this week)
• Sleep
• Be in a fit state teach anything or even be seen before tomorrow evening

Right, maybe, just one episode then, after the correcting of course, and the other stuff will just have to wait.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Weekend Googling

It sometimes feels as if my life could be summarised as a series of google searches. Here then, is my long weekend:

"zoo de la palmyre"
restaurant basque bordeaux
"fête d'anniversaire" enfant
chalet "pierre saint martin"

As you can see, we went to the zoo on Friday.
We didn't find the elusive Basque restaurant that P. had read about but couldn't remember in which magazine nor where the restaurant is nor what it's called. We ended up in a great Japanese place and had tepan yaki for the first time.
Started to panic at the idea of twelve four and five year-olds invading the house next week for Z's birthday party. How will we keep them happy and occupied for two-and-a-half hours and still prevent them from trashing the house?
Wondered if a weekend in the mountains sometime before Christmas might be nice.

What were your weekend google searches? (You'd be amazed at the number of people out there looking for the lyrics of "Hey Lolly Lolly" if my stats are to be believed.)


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

NaNoWriMo NoThankYou

Today I learned that Flaubert wrote an average of five words an hour, or about thirty words on a good day. I don't know if that's true but I read it in Alexander McCall Smith's novel, 44 Scotland Street which is published in daily instalments in The Scotsman. I receive it in rather less regular bundles through the post and clipped by my Mum because it doesn't appear in the free online version of the newspaper.

Prof. McCall Smith doesn't appear to suffer from this sluggish-writing malady himself as he's been churning out novels at a phenomenal rate for the past few years, at least apace with the aspiring novelists participating in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. Am I alone in thinking that producing a 175 page novel in one month is a stupid idea? No question of me attempting such logorrhoea in any case because I feel like Flaubert at the moment —definitely a three-word-an-hour girl, and stilted ones at that.

In the absence, then, of any proper writing here, you might like to have a look at How babies are made in Germany; a page I'm bookmarking for when my children ask the inevitable question............... "Mummy, what did Mme Bovary and Rodolphe do exactly?"

Friday, November 04, 2005

Unravelling Videotape

One of my headaches at work is organising a course in medical English for almost five hundred students. Every week, nine different teachers teach twelve different classes in twelve different classrooms on two different sites on three different days. For continuity reasons, everyone teaches the same content. The course is based on video and reading comprehension with medical themes, and the problems are essentially due to the video element. Until this year, we all used videotapes which meant having nine copies of the same excerpt made, making sure that everyone has the right tape on the right day, that the copy is of acceptable quality and then arranging to have videorecorders or remote control systems available in the constantly shuffled classrooms. This year, two of us have opted to use digital versions and plug our laptops into the videoprojectors with which almost all classrooms are now equipped (PowerBook I love you). But the problem remains for everyone else.

A possible solution would be to buy a truckload of video i-pods and little adaptors to plug them into the videoprojectors. They're small and eminently transportable. They could easily hold a year's worth of short video excerpts. And as a spin-off we'd immediately be the envy of our students.
What do you think? Has anyone bought one yet?


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Being confined indoors most of the day, just the four of us, is reminding me of the days when my children were wee and most of our weekends ...