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.

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.

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

Because I haven’t written for too long…

I started putting some photos into a holiday message last September and have since forgotten how to shrink them and done other things instead.
A dear friend sent me this yesterday, an old one and one I agree worth pondering today if ever.

“An Obituary printed in a newspaper – Interesting and sadly – rather true

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm;
– Life isn’t always fair;
– and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.”

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.