Category Archives: France

where we are now

One tooth to go.

Apart from the cute chip earnt when trying to bite a piece out of her grandparents’ parquet floor, Aurore has only one more milk tooth to push out to have her full set of milk-teeth.

Oh! That’s how often I’ve got round to writing! Oops…

I’ve thought of so many things I could share at so many pointless moments. Little one is growing well and too fast and Mr and I are both well, enjoying our work and family life.

The sun has finally thawed the long winter out of our tired bones. Why it has seemed so long, I’m not completely sure, but we are overjoyed we can see the tail end of it.
Lilac in bloom and lilly of the valley sneaking out early in the courtyard… It’s got to be good!

Less words, more time.

I’m thinking of how satisfied and calm and proud I felt the other day, sending in a translation I’d been able to spend my time doing properly, compared to the stressed and frustrated mood I was in (even though elated) when giving in the literature translation test last July. It’s lovely having more time to work on fewer words, and it’s amazingly interesting taking the time to learn a minimum about all the things mentioned in the source text.

I’m the most nosey person I can think of (right now) and I love putting this curiosity to use in my job.

For someone like me, who has some self-discipline but not as far as time-keeping and prioritising goes, time is therefore gold-dust, essential, and something I really need to use wisely. Being a nosey so-and-so and being easily distracted is something to use with care when time is short. It becomes great fun when I have enough time to freely look around, check, double-check, read-up on, find out about, skip between, follow links on and loop-the-loop from one internet, book or dictionary page to another. Running loose until my curiosity is satisfied and I have such a brilliantly clear picture of what I’m about to translate that I don’t have to think any more for the words to materialise. I think it takes an amazingly well written text, written by someone whose work we’ve often read, on a subject one already knows inside out to do that without any preparation.

Less words and more time are a better combination than the translating equivalent of a 400m sprint or whatever it was. 😛


To think I’ve hankered after this for years. In spite of encouragement by so many people, I’ve repeatedly nearly but never quite got started on the path of freelance translation. It’s taken leaving the UK and some serious work on my lovely man’s part to give me the courage to overcome my apprehensions and my propensity to put off until another day anything that looks to me enough like a mountain-range of molehills.


Just when I have tried hard, felt discouraged, tried some more anyway because it just has to be done, been very tired and frustrated with my foibles and got very ratty and annoyed at others when it wasn’t to do with them, just then, just now, I’ve been offered a most advantageous opportunity.

How would you like to help someone by being given the help you need most?

I like it a lot.

Right now, I’m struggling with things like setting day-to-day goals, keeping to the plans I make for my week and taking time to do the things which are essential to this business I’m trying to kick-start. I’m also finding it hard to celebrate my big and small achievements and paying disproportionate attention to all things forgotten or postponed and anything left to amass on the messy pile of life’s tedium. My Lovely hasn’t got the key, no one around has, only I have. But I need a hand…

I got a call on Friday from a friend of mine who is a coach over here and has recently done some further training abroad. She needs to coach an English speaking “guinea-pig ” so her tutor can assess her coaching someone in English. I have accepted to be said guinea-pig. She knows her job. She has tools to steer me along the way. I get free coaching for 3 months, someone to report to, to think things over with, to whom I will be required to boast the most minute of achievements and be honest. I get to be accountable for putting in the necessary effort and time to achieve my goals and reach my targets.

I’m looking forward to it and I am very glad she thought of me because, being me, I’d have put off asking for or not even thought of doing so.


Voilà, a post written in October 2011 and published in May 2012… Pffff! The coaching went well and got me moving on some things, not all. I remain very good at procrastination. Still, the essential gets done so I suppose that’s good.


We’re counting down to 26th June, estimated date when we become a family. So of course, like all sensible people, we’re moving house (flats) over the next 2-4 weeks, with the cleaning, last minutes decorating, packing and unpacking that entails, and of course, as part of the process, selling our flat so we can pay for the new place.

Luckily we don’t have to sell to move.

But hey, when was I ever sensible.

I’m not really one to pass on once in a lifetime opportunities. Being self-employed has proved immensely handy in so many ways even though I’ve done less work than usual lately… Still, with hectic flat selling antics added to getting closer to a beached whale sort of shape, I’m looking forward to 1 June, first day of my maternity leave.



Oh, and I’ll publish something I seem to have started writing around the point when I began my stint of sleeping 12 hours per night with added afternoon siesta. Unsurprisingly 15 hours sleep per 24h was knock n*1 on productivity at work or for anything else…


Ah! The sun’s come out to celebrate.

Let’s do it!

It isn’t fair to keep the good news to myself too long:

I said I’d secured a contract  for conversation lessons.

They’ve started and are going well. My student is getting into the swing of things, happy to learn and seems to be gaining confidence. I know there are likely to be dips in enthusiasm, but, for now, it’s plain sailing on a sunny day with a light breeze.

So, having conscientiously avoided home-work for years, I’m right in there doing and making it. I’m trying to explain things in English rather than French but that’s a work in progress.


The next piece of news is much much more important in my eyes: I have my first translation contract.

Not voluntary work (Each done with pleasure, but ‘thank you’ doesn’t pay the bills, does it?)

Not very big, yet with potential to be a recurring job.

Not passed on by another translator or agency or Dad.

My very own.

A job found by me with a large bit of help from a friend, I’ll admit it, but it feels like the biggest thing in years. And better still: it’s going to be read by a good few people so I’m all the more excited.

Now to do a brilliant piece of work. The bestest I’ve ever done. 😉


Speaking of a little (or large) bit of help from my friends…

Should you think of someone who could benefit from my language services, do tell me, please don’t hesitate: I’d love to know them. Do also tell them about me if you get the chance.

A bicycle made for two

After a long while gathering dust in the cellar, the tandem has finally received a bit of tlc and seen the light of day.

Once I’d pumped up the tires, Fabrice and I cycled to the Tête d’Or park, took a ride round there, sat on a bench a while and rode back home along the riverside.

A good outing for one of our first warm afternoons off this year and a jolly nice way to celebrate spring.

A little taste of ‘Savoie’ – or something I wrote last term…

I forgot how to save photos smaller to upload them, so this became a forgotten draft. Sorry. Just before Christmas I remembered and have been meaning to finish this post since. Here you have it, piccies included.

one of my birthday roses


For my birthday I got 20 red roses and tickets to go and see Sting. (I’ll tell you more about the symphonic experience in a later post.)

Right. I know that wasn’t yesterday, but look anyway:



I thought I’d write and post some photos, specially with summer having rushed off and autumn galloping in…

I’ll start with the Mont Blanc simply because I spent a couple of weeks working in Savoie this summer, took some nice clear mountain pictures and want to show them off.

A shed with a difference!

This little hut was next to our neighbours’ house. Most traditional chalets have a cold store like this where they would have kept things like grain and hay over the winter.

Work isn’t always hard and can have perks you don’t expect.

I spent some very  relaxing cooking or washing up times having a book read out loud to me, all about Savoie customs and life in previous centuries. As well as making much lighter work, I learnt loads of old savoyard tricks and admired beautiful old sepia photos.

I worked as home-help for a disabled lady and her sister took us round the mountain in the family’s work van to see sights and go for a walk.

My Beloved having lent me his camera, I was snap-happy, testing features like zoom, panoramic and more.

This combination yielded a squillion photos from which I’ve had a hard job choosing.

Here are my favourites.

Le Mont Blanc vous fait coucou!
Le Mont Blanc vous fait coucou!
Lilac coloured and snowdrop shaped.
Lilac coloured and snowdrop shaped.
3 witches
3 witches

See, out of 500 taken, these are only a drop in the ocean and you still have lots of examples of my photographic skill (!) to admire.

(So many in fact that, having finally published this post last night, I decided it was stupidly heavy to load. This morning, I scaled all the photos down for an easier read.)

Luckily for me, fuzzy photos made it a bit less difficult to choose.

The Alps are so beautiful! I keep repeating this and thinking it, over and again, every time I look back at the photos.


May I have inspired you to take a climb and a breath of fresh air!

Mont Blanc, later in the day with less clouds. View from a valley instead of the crest of a mountain.
Mont Blanc, later in the day with less clouds. View from a valley instead of the crest of a mountain.

Next is one of my favourite mountains and I forgot it’s name. It’s a stereotypical mountain shape and I find it so satisfying to look at.

Aiguille Verte
Aiguille Verte

I first thought of the Pic du Midi, but then remembered that’s in the Pyrenees, and anyway the name simply didn’t sound right… Google has come up trumps finding me this link which shows the Aiguille Verte from a different viewpoint.

So the peak with ‘midi’ in its name could have been that one, but judging from the earlier link it’s probably this next spikey friend of Mr Mont Blanc’s.

Aiguille du Midi
Aiguille du Midi

I’m not sure whether this was the one, but while I was in the Val d’Arly, there was a lot of talk about some awesome engineers and crew managing to figure out how to drain a glacier that was fit to burst above a large alpine town.

It was tense.

Those guys have my respect and then some: great inspiration, resourcefulness and inventiveness and most of all courage to work on the dodgy landscape in the first place.

a mountain I thought looked like a good climbing frame
a mountain I thought looked like a good climbing frame



(Argh! The frame extending above a picture, underneath the previous one, is annoying! I’ve successfully fought the previous occurrence with waffle. How does one make a frame obey?)


And a final shot before turning my back on the majestic view.

From left to right: the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguille du Midi, the glacier and Mr Mont Blanc.

Mountain range
Mountain range

Surviving hot weather

After torrential rain and the impression the monsoon had found France a nice place to emigrate to, we’ve had heat for a week, growing heat, cooking heat, both gorgeous and horrible at the same time.

My body’s just about used to it by now and in the afternoon if I don’t move too much I don’t get soggy 😛 but I’m certainly not going out this lunch time and the shutters are lowered to keep the flat cool. The season has begun when being right above the basement is a blessing. What causes my toes to shrink back in horror if I forget to put them into my slippers throughout the winter is a beautiful lovely cooling surface underfoot now the heat pervades almost everything.

25C already and rising. Hip hip hooray for the nice cool floor.

Thank you all for the lovely messages. I did intend to write again sooner but last week was beyond hectic and I chose to fry bigger fish. I have so many ideas and things I want to write which I don’t get round to putting down. One thing makes me forget the next and it all gets vague or forgotten. Anyhow, I enjoy finding my ring where it is and feeling the empty place where it was. I’ll probably write the story of how it came about another day. It’s worth the telling. Never mind the other things about which I would have liked to write.

Fabrice made marvellous cherry and mint jam for the second time last week. The pity being we didn’t have time to prepare all the cherries so some wasted. Our mates have a tree and though some places got spoilt by rain this year, their tree has been more prolific than ever and with 5 adults at work there seems no end to the fruit on there.

This talk about jam reminds me that I never did say how the banofee pie turned out… It was a hit and by far the tastiest and most satisfying recipe I’ve ever tasted. I kid you not. The praline in the base has a fair part to play in it being so yummy.

Fabrice’s cousin (whom I’ve never known cook or prepare anything) asked for the recipe, he liked it so much.

Right, time to get on with my nephew’s bed. It’s not going to make itself!

We’ve gained 2 degrees while I was writing.

Look what I can do!

See what I’ve learnt to do today:

  1. cats
  2. fish
  3. dogs
  4. mice
  5. foxes
  6. lists of … animals!!!


I’d never bothered figuring it out even though I’d have like to, but Mr Doormouse seemed like the ideal person to ask how to do a little HTML. Also, and more importantly, I now have a domain name and my soon to be website is taking shape. Thank you again, Mrs Doormouse, for reminding me to be in touch.

Becoming an entrepreneur is growing increasingly real as I tick off tiny elements of the long to-do list I’ve been working through and adding to since the beginning of May. I’m  currently procrastinating over a contact letter to the companies I’ve been in touch with previously and thinking about the next job: contacting local translating companies and freelancers and widening my offer of translating and interpreting services. The whole task makes me want to have done a comms degree so I might hide behind official ways of doing things rather than having to improvise.

On my web-travels looking for translators around Lyon I found a young lady who graduated from Swansea Uni and thought of how useful a degree in Welsh would be to translate French into English. If only I’d known!

Oh, to make everyone jealous, breakfast this morning was toasted & buttered French baguette with home made “gelée de pommes”! Fabrice has once more done wonders and I am a very happy jam-taster.

strawberries and melons

I’m eating the first melon this year. One of those dark green rugby ball shaped melons a bit like honeydew. Sadly probably an imported one, it’s nonetheless fine and quite sweet.

Wednesday saw the first strawberry jam. It’s light jam, low in sugar and not cooked for very long, which means it still has a strawberry colour rather than the yummy brown I always seem to end up with. I often shiver at the idea of whatever chemical or method makes shop-bought strawberry jam so red.

Oh, the bad thing about the jam, or more precisely the making thereof, was the fact that my fabulous man was so very disappointed by the fact I set about doing it while he felt too tired to. He’s not the first or the last to say he’s not creative or good with his hands and however grand the counter-proof it’s so often not enough to reassure him and others that, actually they do great. Anyhow, I stole his job and was very sorry that I made him so sad in an instant. I’m not worried though because he’s so much more precise in how he makes our preserves of all kind that his jam is guaranteed to be nicer than mine.

The next batch of strawberries are all yours my love!

The pavers on the little square just down our road have finally upped their hours from half a day a week (I estimate the rate they progressed for the previous 6-8 weeks between 2 and 4 hours per week.) It’s nice because It’s sad to have fencing around the square just because the pathway round the edge is ‘in progress. If they worked this morning too, they may actually have finished.

Ah, and finally, a little non-PC-ness to round off my ramblings.

Walking into town the other day I witnesses one of my ‘only in …” such or such a place could this happen kinds of situations.

Only in France

Never in the UK without a fenced off perimeter and a little tent thing over his head.

If ever in the USA someone would manage to fall in and sue the poor man they squashed, his company and their local council too.

Shall I explain at last? Oh yes! It made me giggle… As I began, I was walking into town and looking to my right, between 2 large flower-beds, I noticed an open manhole. There was a traffic cone (Possibly 😛 stolen from Swansea of Cardiff council?) about a meter away and a toolbox about a foot to the side I walked. All I could see of the worker was the top of his head just below ground level as he stood up before bending back down to carry on whatever work he was doing. Like I said I giggled. I carried on walking and laughed to myself thinking how relaxed the French and many other continentals can be over a bloke down a manhole and then I played of in my head what would have happened elsewhere.

I’ve listed above my two main stereotypes and I’d add there’re probably one or two places where there’d be a couple of guys standing around watching, handing him a tool once in a while and generally providing conversation and encouragement as their day’s work.

I love situations like that, surprising moments of realising how a town or region or country (sometimes even a street is enough) are so different from the next.

Right, now back to dealing with everyday stuff and getting a bit more done towards this freelance project.