Category Archives: Work

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!

first tooth and other adventures

Well well, over 7 months of motherhood have FLOWN by.

Sorry I missed Christmas. I hope yours was at least as good as ours.


I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy apart from my lower back giving way round about the point we were moving flat… I did manage to paint half the bedroom ceiling before they banned me :p

Her daddy has taken to fatherhood like a duck to water. His were the first hands to hold her. We’d prepared as much as we could, so living the amazing adventure of welcoming her at home ourselves with just a little extra help truly made my day.

Thanks to the marvellous carrying scarf and my super baby who eats and sleeps and babbles happily in there, I’ve been able to get back to translating very easily. I’ve had some great jobs last term. At long last, my students are back for their English lessons which is a welcome change in rhythm. I haven’t finished learning to drive yet though: I don’t get round to organising the necessary trips out and a piercing fog-horn sets off as soon as we get into the car…

Little Star, busy bee
Little Star, busy bee

So 2012: new flat (new phone number + new address), new Baby, new Mama, new Papa, new car… and still my very own time-zone, MNSNT!

Happy New Year!

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.


VoilĂ , 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.

xml help!

I’m in dire need of some techie help!!

Can ANYONE get their head round XML?? I probably could but am lacking the time.

I need to check what’s wrong with the .xml formatting of a file. I can’t open an essential doc. This is the French message:

Erreur de lecture.
Erreur de format dans le fichier du sous-doc content.xml Ă  la position 2,29604(row,col).

Basically, the error is on row 2 in column 29604 of the content.xml file. I’m working with OmegaT, translation freeware that separates out all the formatting from the text, lets me translate the text and then puts all the formatting back in. Except I must have deleted or altered a bit of xml along the way…

Help Please 🙂

Les alĂ©as des test de traduction…

48h et 10000 mots Ă  traduire (EN UK->FR), c’est un Ă©norme test, mais pour une maison d’Ă©dition, pourquoi pas!

Je suis déçue de ne pas avoir Ă©tĂ© retenue. J’ai pris plaisir Ă  faire le test, Ă  la fois le dĂ©fit de terminer Ă  temps malgrĂ© ma tendance Ă  ĂȘtre la plus lente, et le fait de m’atteler Ă  de la traduction littĂ©raire d’un genre que j’apprĂ©cie tant.

Je vous raconte plus bas quelques aspects de mes 48h de test, Ă  lire si vous avez le temps. J’avais envie de vous faire part de mon expĂ©rience puisque c’est le premier test littĂ©raire que je fais pour l’Ă©dition. Apparemment , j’ai fait quelques belles de mes trouvailles, mĂȘme si cela n’a pas suffit. J’ai manquĂ© de temps et la traduction que j’ai rendue Ă©tait pour le moins dire, hum… brouillon. J’espĂšre quand mĂȘme qu’on me dira quelles elles Ă©taient, Ă  la fois pour ma confiance en moi et parce que je apprends mieux par rapport Ă  ce que j’ai rĂ©ussi que par opposition Ă  ce que j’aurais pu changer.

J’aurais aimĂ© discuter avec l’auteur, Jonathan L. Howard, lors de la traduction mais aussi en gĂ©nĂ©ral. ‘Flatlands” me semblait avoir besoin d’ĂȘtre traduit avec l’ajout d’un adjectif (comme ‘Mornes Plaines’?). Le mot “buggerlugs” a deux sens possibles, lequel prĂ©fĂšre-t-il? Son style m’a parfois donné  l’impression de lire du français Ă©crit avec des mots anglais. Je ne sais pas comment exprimer cela autrement. Ce n’est pas du simple anglais soutenu. Son personnage principal semble aimer les grands mots, prĂ©cis, limite pĂ©dants tant ils sont exacts. Pourquoi “Locomotive” et  non “engine” serait un exemple. J’ai pris plaisir Ă  ses variations de languages, ses jeux de mots (“a swamp waiting to happen” //  “an accident waiting to happen”, “Santa’s little helper” // “Satan’s little helpers” …) et son sens de l’humour.

Je vous avoue que je ne m’attendais pas Ă  avoir le temps de fignoler ni Ă  bien relire et j’ai passĂ© le week-end dernier Ă  osciller entre me rĂ©jouir d’avoir rendu mon texte et dĂ©cortiquer tournures maladroites (dues entre autre Ă  mon attention au dĂ©tail qui parfois me fait perdre de vue le sens global) et vocabulaire qui me causait souci.

À cause de cela, je me suis mise deux bĂątons dans les roues, sans le vouloir. J’ai fait la traduction que j’ai rendu sans utiliser Internet du tout car je suis trop curieuse pour toujours m’en tenir au seuls mots recherchĂ©s et j’ai dĂ©cidĂ© de garder toutes recherches internet pour la fin. VoilĂ  le manque de temps qui me mord les mollets: je n’ai ni eu le temps de vĂ©rifier certains  termes que je n’avais pas trouvĂ©s dans mes dictionnaires (imprimĂ©s et CD-rom) ni pu utiliser de dictionnaire des synonymes français, car c’est le dernier outil qui manque Ă  ma panoplie et il m’aurait fallu faire une nuit blanche… ‘buggerlugs’ et ‘stanchion’ illustrent ces deux aspects puisque je me suis contentĂ© de rapiĂ©cer/bricoler  le français au dernier moment lors de la relecture.
Est-ce que les autres traducteurs ont fait des nuits blanches? J’y ai beaucoup pensĂ©. Je ne veux pas le savoir.

Je n’ai pas rĂ©sistĂ© Ă  ma curiositĂ© par la suite, je l’admets, et j’ai repris le texte lundi aprĂšs-midi: 4h Ă  faire ces recherches sur Internet qui m’ont tant fait dĂ©faut, Ă  nettoyer questions de vocabulaire, trouver de vilaines fautes d’orthographe et erreurs de frappe, Ă  douter de certains choix que j’avais fait, enfin: ma corneille s’est posĂ©e sur un simple ‘piquet’ et ma locomotive Ă  Ă©tĂ© dotĂ©e de la ‘chaudiĂšre’ dont elle avait tant besoin. Ce mot m’est revenu samedi vers 13h! Imaginez ma frustration.

Je suis d’avantage satisfaite de la traduction que j’ai sauvegardĂ©e lundi car elle me donne moins l’impression d’ĂȘtre un brouillon que ce que j’ai rendu.

Une chose qui est trĂšs dommage, le fait d’avoir fait ma relecture samedi matin, Ă  la cuisine, sur le portable de mon conjoint (pour ne pas le rĂ©veiller). AlĂ©a d’un F1 qui m’a valu d’ouvrir mon texte avec quelque logiciel libre choisi par Microsoft sur ce ‘pratique’ netbook et qui m’a promptement enlevĂ© tous marquages couleurs, italiques et polices. J’ai eu un mal fou Ă  retrouver les mots que je savais devoir vĂ©rifer ou choisir, j’en ai manquĂ©, la souris tactile a fait glisser le texte sans que je le remarque, sautant au moins deux paragraphes que je n’ai mĂȘme pas relus (avec un joli gros mot abandonnĂ© au milieu et plusieurs de mes options non choisies). La prochaine fois que je fais un test, si je dois finir un samedi matin, ChĂ©ri devra supporter mon ordi allumĂ© dans notre piĂšce de vie.

Bah! “We live and learn.”

I nearly cried when I found out I hadn’t got the job but I enjoyed the 48h marathon nonetheless.

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.

About second rate translations

I’m sure we all regularly notice poorly translated documents, films, games, websites…

This post on subtitling describes my frustration.

I got an email earlier on, from a French organisation I’d like to work for (I was told the project I was interested in was on hold), and read their latest newsletter. Syntax errors, some poor grammar, unfortunate parsing by whoever put the English version of the text into the document… They managed to split a sentence over 2 paragraphs thus creating a first sentence with the subordinates and a second one with the main clause. Luckily, smelling pistakes were few! Argh!

And I could be the one doing the job for them properly!! It nearly made me doubt whether I would want to. So I had a fresh look at their website and confirmed that the errors I’d spotted on there are still there to be read by all and thought I’d try the little I can to address it.

I’ve emailed communications saying how sad I was to read the poor English in their newsletter and how important it is for their image that their brilliant French document be properly translated in to English. I wrapped up by offering my services should they want better work next time. How very rude! I’ve been sitting on my hands for weeks on that one and simply had to do something about it. I hope they won’t hold it against me but will reward me for my cheek.

We’ll see.

Gaining momentum

Well! Good news demands to be shared. I hope you get inspired.

I’ve signed with a business supporting company.
Taken literally, the French ‘couveuse’ is a hatching box, like you’d have for an egg rather than new businesses 🙂 I don’t know of an equivalent in the UK.


I’m writing out my first quote for a client. It’s training (English conversation) rather than interpreting or translation but it could open doors into the company the guy works for. It’s already opening doors (I hope they like me best inside!) to his lady’s company as they’ll soon need interpreters…

The reason I want to share is partly because it’s exciting and partly to remind friends and readers that life is full of (God) appointed moments.

On the last day of my business creation course in December, I walked home rather than catch a bus or metro, a bit winded and on the low I get when leaving a group with whom I’ve spent a compound of time (3 months full time lessons/workshops in this case). I meander round streets I’ve got to know quite well and decide to walk into a little shop I’d spotted called Mulan’s House. The Chinese lady strikes up conversation and we talk about shops, my hair, being foreigners, her linguist son (age 6, 4 languages!), my dual-national background, the fact that I’m working towards setting up business as an interpreter and translator… as I mooch round the shop and see a nice scarf.
Nothing unusual. Another lady walks in and looks around and the shopkeeper strikes up conversation with her too and within about 3 sentences she’s told her that I’m bilingual and the woman has replied that she’s been looking for a course and not found anything satisfying. At this point the shopkeeper half asks me-half tells her that I could maybe give her lessons.

I wasn’t going to say no, right!

So we exchanged numbers and email addresses and this is where things are at:

I have a couple of things to check with the lady’s partner to fill in the training outline and quote so he can draw on his lifelong training allowance, then all being well we’ll start lessons in the second half of this month. We’ll organise and start her lessons in time and she’ll pass on my CV to HR…

I’ve come round to it actually becoming tangible and to completion. It didn’t feel real as I walked home afterwards.

Not bad!

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