Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!!!

Hope you are all well and good and having a lovely Christmas. It's not officially Christmas here yet, we have another two hours to go, but I have some Skype calls to make and then some sleeping to do. Big day tomorrow after all.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

I like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain...

(Caribbean Adventures part IV)

Well, I actually prefer my Pina Coladas virgin, and I'm not all that fussed on getting caught in the rain, but I doubt Rupert Holmes really did either. That's not the point. By the time I left I was in an awesome mood and my life feels refreshed. Possibly I just like the cliche, but it put me in the best mood I've been in for ages. And I've been in a pretty good mood anyway.

Since I've last posted, I have seen a man climb a coconut tree, had a lesson about coconuts (it was really for the kids, but hey), eaten waaaaaay to much coconut, walked through the jungle in the dark at night with two kids after our golf-cart light stopped working, and been caught in the rain and had a (virgin) Pina Colada within ten minutes. Not even intentionally, I just asked what they had and took a fancy to Pina Colada (the kids had virgin Pina Coladas the other day, they're super-tasty). Why a virgin Pina Colada Sam, that's not like you. Yeah, I know, this is possibly the first time in the world I have ever ordered a mocktail for myself. But it's not like I actually like rum anyway. Plus I had to drive home afterwards. A golf cart that is, not a real car. I still can't drive those. Although I'm thinking I might start lessons when I get back to London, after all this practice around the golf course. Cause, you know, driving an actual car in London is totally comparable to driving a golf cart around a resort in the Caribbean, absolutely. There are at least three stop signs, and several intersections. I'm gonna be an awesome driver (the kids don't agree with me for some reason).

Anyway, I must try to lose this ridiculous mood before I can sleep and get up nice and early again tomorrow for another day of fun in the sun (or rain, wind AND shine, like today).

Sam xx

Monday, December 19, 2011

Caribbean Adventures part III

Yesterday I got towed behind a boat on a disk of inflated... awesomeness. It was fun, although it would be improved with me having no responsibility for the two small passengers accompanying me. Also, we picked up a fresh coconut that had fallen to the ground. We haven't figured out how to open it yet though.

Today, so far, I have burnt the inside of my mouth by eating too much pineapple. It hurts. Even tea is a bit painful, and I'm sure you all know how much that makes me happy. Yoghurt is a soothing balm, but there is only so much Activia one person can eat (and my tolerance for such a foul abomination is pretty low).

Tomorrow? Possibly jet-skiing. Or water skiing, they're definitely on the cards.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Caribbean Adventures part II

The Good:

The Bad:

And the Ugly:

Of the Caribbean wildlife anyway. Those mosquitoes are seriously vicious, the bites swell and go really red, and itch for days! Those ones are 4 or 5 days old now! Hopefully I don't scar!

This is just proof of me on a tropical island. Of course it could be a film set I suppose, but that would be a whole other adventure to tell you about! No, this is the beach at the resort, immaculate of course. Windy that day too, but sunny at least .

And lastly the view from the villa. It really is lovely especially first thing in the morning while it is still cool and covered in soft light and a bit of mist. I love having a view again!

That is all I've managed for pictures for now folks, but when I get a chance, I am so going after more of the wildlife with a camera. I want one with monkeys that aren't running away! They aren't always running away, just when they see a camera. And the crabs. I want a picture of those crabs. They're so cool!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Caribbean Adventures part I

A 10 minute taxi ride, 30 minute train ride, 3 minute shuttle-train ride, 10 hour aeroplane ride, 15 minute taxi ride, 40 minute boat ride, 10 minute golf-cart ride. This is the travel required to reach an exceptionally awesome house on an island in the Caribbean.

I honestly can't say what my favourite thing is, the climate, the wild monkeys (!!!!!), the jacuzzi, table-service while you lie on the beach, the pretty shells all over the beach. Oh and the crabs, the crabs are pretty neat (I'm totally gonna get a picture of those crabs)... Probably the wild monkeys. I do like monkeys, and seeing them running free is the best way to see monkeys. Yay monkeys!!! The fact that you have to go on a boat to get here is pretty spiffy too, I like remote. Although the whole American-style resort kinda diverts from that illusion.

So, as you have probably gathered, I have arrived well and good. Tired, and slightly jet-lagged, although not too bad, just a bit muddled. And I am liking this version of my new job, it's good. Not that I didn't like it in London, but really, being here is going to vastly improve pretty much any job, and nannying is vastly open to environmental influences. The much more relaxed routine is good too, I feel like more of a fun nanny, less of a grinch hurrying the kids from one activity to the next. And hopefully tomorrow I will be a bit less tired. I really appreciated getting to sleep on the plane, I had a lot of sleep to catch up on at that point, and I sure needed it later! Oh and then the kids woke up at 5am, because in London, that would be super-late for them, being like 10am there or something. *yawn* either way, 5am is still 5am so far as I'm concerned.

I had so many thoughts going through my head today about this place, and everything I want to tell everyone, that I can't remember any of it. Again, Monkeys.

At times it reminds me of home. Particularly when I'm sitting on a beach playing with kids in the sand. Some things don't change :-) I love how green it is too, and the sand isn't as white as the internet would have you believe. Hills clearly the product of volcanoes and earthquakes rise out of the sea, hazy blue-green and shrouded in clouds. If you don't look at the details (like wild monkeys!!!) it even looks a fair bit like home. Oh and it comes with the "Live-at-the-beach" life of my childhood, which is really just a short-cut to winning my heart.

In short, life is good; adventure is fantastic!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A new job, a new adventure

I appear to have finally succeeded in finding a job that suits me- back to nannying, and an awesome job at that! I'm based in South Kensington, i.e. a super-posh part of London, close to all the best museums (seriously, I share a tube stop with the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the V&A), close to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, etc. etc. Generally speaking, the location couldn't be better. Better still is that the kids are pretty good, I have some new challenges, but within my capabilities I think, and I get on with all of them well. But, better *still* is the travel :-D Apparently they travel pretty much every school holidays (Not sure about mid-terms, but that's still at least three trips a year), and at the end of this week, you guessed it, school holidays! Awesome timing to start a job! It seems I shall be spending Christmas in the Caribbean- watch me pretend to be a pirate, just you wait, I'm gonna be an awesome pirate. Especially as I have small kids to dress up with!!! My inner child was revealed for all to see the other day when I realised I was dancing to Abba under disco lights and a bubble machine... and enjoying myself!!! Hahaha six year olds have the best birthday parties (you should have seen that magician!), I think I'm gonna have a 2+5=7 years old party next year. Is that a good enough reason to hire Mr Lolly to come and do my birthday party? He was awesome. AND he gave out lollipops at the end.

Ahem. I swear I will update you on my French holiday at some point. Probably while I'm in the Caribbean. I mean, I don't have the excuse that I'm busy looking for work any more, or that I've already spent all day starting at my laptop. Although I do have the excuse that I 'work' 24hrs per day for five days a week. But hopefully I will adjust to that eventually.

On that note, it is time to go sort out my suitcase for being in warmer places. It's full of woolly jumpers and other things to be replaced by bathing suits and shorts. Yay it's gonna be summer again already! I totally love this job (just wait till I'm dizzy with heatstroke and trying to put sunscreen on crying, screaming children and make me say that again).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Not coming home

With an election result like that I feel less inclined than ever to come home. I almost feel betrayed that I leave the country and they re-elect a moron, with even more support than last time. They almost let him govern alone for goodness sake! A slimy git who is perceived as a good 'leader' over sound policy? Come on New Zealand, grow up.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Still kicking around

Mostly just a quick post to say hello and yes I am still kicking about in England. Essentially still looking for a job, although I do have a trial starting on Monday. Hoping that goes well, it seems like a pretty awesome job if it works out, it ticks all my required boxes, although the kids are borderline too old for me- 3 and 5, but I'm fine with that because it means broadening my experience. So, all good really. I'm definitely ready for a new job, can't wait to get started! It will be nice to be back in London too, and the location is totally win. *crosses fingers*

Okay time to sort out Christmas cards and possibly a few presents. I've already got a few from France over the summer so it's all good.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Commentary in society:

Last time I caught a late morning train to London we thought I had found the daytime equivalent to the nutter train (traditionally your last train home at night). That may be true of that service, but today I sat across from a couple of business managers/owners. I did actually contemplate moving as they irritated me with their general conversation. But mostly I couldn't be bothered. The girl across the carriage had an interesting looking book, 'the attack on university' or some such. I put on my headphones and life continued.

I was glad I didn't move, as girl with the book started chatting to them and it sounded debate-y so I took out my headphones. Brilliant, jobs, recession and benefit cheats. That is the best time I've spent on the train, we were joined by an MA student, and an ex-university lecturer, who basically ended up being arbitrator. More train rides should be like this!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Job :-)

Back to London for me!

That's all for now. Much excitement and stuff. I will totally make sure I update properly later this week. There, I've written it on the internet now, it must happen.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mirror, mirror

On the wall
show me when
the love will come-
Missing Johnny

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I know I have a knack for awesome,

But I just had a band cover Crowded House (Don't Dream it's Over) and *then* another band covered Gogol Bordello (Start Wearing Purple)!!! Talk about win. I'm in a country pub in England. Drinking delicious real ale. Nom nom nom!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A long-overdue update

Well, I see I haven't even put up anything about when I was in Paris, which means I have a lot of catching up to do.

Paris was neat but I had hardly any time off. And when I say neat, I mean I kinda fell in love and desperately want to move there. Yay for Paris! I climbed the 700 or so stairs they let you in the Eiffel tower, and then the lift to the top, putting me firmly in mind of Willy Wonka's elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Following that I trekked all over Paris, walked past the Louvre (that's in line for a later trip where I actually have time), and went to the Notre Dame cathedral.


I have to admit that the Moulin Rouge wasn't all I had hoped for. As somebody pointed out, it was near the end of the season, so the dancers were probably totally over it, but it was still disappointing. They were well out of time, generally un-enthusiastic and rather out-shone by the acrobats and jugglers between acts (who were very good), which lead to the feeling that they were just trading on their name. Overall, for the price (we got cheap tickets at 90 Euros) I can't say it was worth it. But hey, it's the Moulin Rouge, and I've been :-)

After Paris I was back in London for a week, before getting right back on the Eurostar to Lille. This was approximately enough time to pick up a new solid shampoo bar from Lush and accept a new job in Athens, as I was still working the whole time. Oh and sick. I think I picked up something from the Eurostar, as I started to fail the next day, and then remained in a similar state for the next two weeks, which was not conductive to my holiday, but didn't ruin it.

Speaking of the holiday, that is being saved for another post, possibly a two or even three part post. For now, suffice to say that it was good and deserves to be done justice!

Writing this I am …..... somewhere over Europe, en-route to Athens. Believe it or not I can't actually post it mid-flight, so presume it is being posted from Athens.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Travels in France

Tower! And the biggest lumps of nougat I have ever seen. Scarier than those is the information that actually those are the small lumps. He demonstrated the size of large ones. Not something I would like to encounter rolling down a hill in the dark.

I'm back in England for, oh, a couple more days. Friday I fly out to Athens. Yay for Greece :-) remarkably normal sounding job there, not sure how I will cope yet. Two weeks to find out.

I will attempt a post on France either tonight or some time tomorrow,  although that's not a promise!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

London, briefly

Well, I had awesome adventures in Paris, which I am yet to have an opportunity to post about, or even look at my own pictures for, never mind sort out decent ones.

I am currently back in London. I have been since Monday actually, but I am also sick, and have been internet-deprived to boot, and over-tired. Oh and working full time, plus interviews. I leave for France again tomorrow, but this time on holiday :-D Yay canoeing and camping and stuff! It is entirely possible that I will not have an opportunity to post anything until after I get back from France, so Paris may have to wait until then. Several massive posts on France will be due by then!

In other news, I have a job trial in Athens. They're very enthusiastic about me. I am somewhat more reserved, but will wait and see. Don't judge till you've tried it and all that.

I am slightly concerned by how pleased I am to be back in England. I am enjoying things like beer, and menus that I can read rather a lot. Oh and jacket potatoes. Jacket potatoes may possibly the best thing the English ever invented so far as cooking goes. Nom nom nom.

Right, well, I better go and try to get some sleep. Dorm rooms aren't generally the best place to sleep, and I have to get up early due to their stupid check-out at ten in the morning policy. Bloody stupid policy if you ask me, my train isn't until 1pm. What am I supposed to do for three hours? It's only across the road! I hope it has good facilities like Paddington. I suppose it must. It's got to be like an international airport really. I'm sure I saw duty free shopping and stuff in the Paris station.

Time for 'sleep'

Monday, September 5, 2011

I've had the most awesome day ever

and by awesome I really mean words cannot describe how fail *everything* was. Really, it's beyond words. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. It was just so fail. We dissolved into hysterics at dinner as the meal descended into a food-fight (fruit, plates, cans of coke, bowl with a sharp knife...) and then one of them said "wee-wee" and looked at his lap. No other response was possible.

I wish I had a picture to share with you all.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Le Marmite Creole

I am currently sitting in Le Marmite Creole, a lovely little cafe/restaurant with rather delicious food. Not nearly as rich or creamy as the French usually try to feed me, which my stomach is happy about. Seriously, France could turn me vegan, I'm so sick of cream!

Anyway, as you may observe from the pictures, I have made it back to Dinard, the lovely little resort town in Brittany. The weather is not so stunning as last time, but somehow it feels like it suits it here, a bit moody and temperamental. I took a walk yesterday, rather unintentional, it was just that all the shops were still closed from the siesta, and I wanted to know what was up the hill from the town square. Upon further investigation I discovered that the hill offered a lovely view towards St Malo (the port where ferries go to Jersey, Guernsey and England). I was thus compelled to pull out my camera and take too many photographs (oh the joy of digital cameras!).

A lovely maiden overlooking the port, I think she is supposed to be sheltering from a storm. It has an inscription, but it's in French, and I forgot my dictionary.
Al lonely little boat in the water. It was amazing how all the boats were just sitting on the mud flats at low tide, I can't figure out how you're supposed to get on/off your boat. Obviously you can only get the boat there when it is high tide, but then how do you get from the boat to dry land? Just wait for the tide to go out and walk on the mud flats? It was pretty impressive to see how many boats there were, hundreds of them all lined up, sitting in the mud.

A nice spot to sit and take it all in.

Great weather for flying the coolest kite I have ever seen! What a sweet family really, they were all flying it together, it took them a while to get it in the air again, but it was worth the wait! It makes me thing of Peter Pan...

The tides are rather extreme here, because of being in the English Channel apparently. This isn't even the lowest ebb, the day before there was a full sand bar to see, which you could wade onto.
Market day in Dinard! They do have three each week, but still, it was nice, the atmosphere is lovely. I had to stop for coffee after a while though, which was an experience. The French have this interesting approach to milky coffees, they make an espresso, and give you a jug of steamed milk with it. Now, in principle I have no objection to this. However, the issue arises with the size of the cup- you can see it is about as tall as the width of my hand. Inside it contains a double espresso, which takes up about 3/4 of the space, leaving very little room for milk. My current technique involves taking a few sips, and quickly topping it up with more milk. After the third or fourth repetition the coffee starts to be diluted enough to drink, and it turned out that this was particularly delicious coffee! However at this point it was still in phase one, hence the rather strained smile.
I have a couple more days in Dinard, but I will be working. Then back to the castle for a couple of days, then Paris, and finally back to London. Then I can embark on the adventures planned for my holiday in September. Yay holiday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adventures in the making

Having been vaguely reminded that I haven't really updated for a while, I feel compelled to explain that this is largely due to a lack of adventures. I have some in the works, but the last few weeks have been consumed by work dramas and people dramas which aren't actually mine to blog about. However, next week I will be going back to Dinard early next week, then the following week to Paris, and then I'm due to be gainfully unemployed again, so off to the South (Avignon I believe) for a holiday with some friends before returning to the wonderful world of looking for new job. The way I say that implies that I haven't already started looking, which isn't strictly true, I have, but it's hard to look in earnest when you work 12 hours a day, and all you want to do on your days off is get out of the house.

In other news, I moved rooms in the castle. I no longer have to deal with a toilet that you can't flush toilet paper down, but I also no longer have a shower. Well, that's a lie. I do have a shower here, it's just that it is one of those hose-pipe, hold in your hand affairs, over the bath, and there is no form of barrier to keep the water contained. Thus I must bath every night and then just torture myself with some sort of cold-water holding the shower-head over my hair thing in the morning. It isn't ideal. Also, my bed in this room sucks. It looks awesome, but is awful to actually sleep on. And it squeaks. Why did I swap my essentially comfortable room for this thing a floor lower and just across from the childrens playroom, preventing me sleeping in on my mornings off? Well, it has an internet connection. It's prettier too, but mostly it has internet. If only it was going to be more than a few days. Ah well. I might post pictures of this room, it's really quite nice.

Back to work...

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Turns out that drinking wine and then going for a swim while the stars come out is awesome :-) Even if they are strange, Northern Hemisphere stars.

Apparently I'm going to Paris next week, should be cool. Not that I will really have time to see the sights, but still, I will see some of it.

Oh and off to the South somewhere for a holiday in September, middle-end-ish of September, then Eurostar back to London. If I read the ticket correctly then I will be on a train for for 14 hours at one point.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dinard ("Dinarrr-eh!")

Dinard is a resort town on the North coast of France in Bretagne (Brittany), and it far exceeded expectations. I was told Brittany was wet and cold, and that it wasn't anywhere near as good as the South of France, and that it was similar to holiday towns in Cornwall in England. Having never been to Cornwall (I know, major failing really, given my heritage) this wasn't very helpful. But it turned out to be really lovely, as the pictures should show. Unfortunately my limited comprehension of French was quite a hinderance here, I could see enough tourist trash to realise it seemed to have some Piratical history, but of course I couldn't understand anything written about it. It did have a piratical feel though, with cliffs and rocks with little coves and possible caves and tunnels up to the houses at the top of the cliffs- I was put in Famous Five mode!!! It was pretty cool. And not only did it have awesome rocky bits, but also a sandy beach, where I first dipped my toes into the Atlantic! It was really strange sand though, it sparkled like gold flakes when the sun was at the right angle!!! And it stuck like glue, really impossible to get off without showering, not like normal sand that you can rub off with a towel.

A very charming town, picturesque, and with ice-cream stalls in all the right places :-D

The only bad part of my trip was that I screwed my back part way through, and spent several days rather incapacitated before being tortured by a French doctor, and half killing myself with anti-inflammatories before being able to even do up my shoelaces. But at least the painful experience with the French doctor seems to have been worthwhile, I appear to be fixed.

In other news, contrary to an earlier post, I will be staying in France for a while yet, hopefully the rest of the summer, all going to plan. But as we all know, my plans are subject to change at short notice and on the whims of others, so really, I have no idea. In theory I'm here for another 5-6 weeks roughly. Earn some money, avoid snakes, and maybe go back to Dinard.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Foreign experiences...

I saw a snake today- a viper it would seem.

It sounds ridiculous, but I actually couldn't recognise it as a snake for a few moments, maybe a couple of seconds. I thought it was a slow-moving lizard, then I realised it had no legs, and briefly thought of a worm (child's concept of a worm mind), or some sort of insect. Then I realised that, like, holy shit, it's a snake! It was a little one, maybe a foot long, and not much thicker than a pencil, and then it was disappearing into the leaves, and a crack in the wall. In the old stables building across the driveway from the main castle.

Sooooo never letting the children touch piles of logs again!!!!!!!!!

Kinda cool, fascinating that they actually are pretty close to a child's picture of what they might look like though, squiggly line which appears to move forward without moving at all. More than a little surreal.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Some new adventures, coming right up!

So, suffice to say the job was rubbish and I have now given notice. I should be out of here in about a weeks time, and I won't be sorry to go. It has been interesting to live in a castle in France, certainly, but there are some things I just can't tolerate, and a hostile work environment is up there.

So instead I will finish out this week, then it will be off to explore France! We haven't organised an itinerary yet, but we are looking at Bordeaux, Marseille, Ummm some other places in the south... Cannes, then up to Paris, and will get the Eurostar from Paris to London. Hooray Eurostar!!! Chunnel! Lol that is something to look forward to at least :-D So is getting out of here.

Pictures of Dinard coming soon I promise. Just as soon as I have time and energy. Currently I have an adventure to plan ;-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Never again will I travel without insurance

Not that I am actually suffering the consequences of not having insurance, but having screwed my back somewhere I can't speak the language, and in a lot of pain, without a European health card, I am acutely aware of how precarious my situation actually is.

So, hot French doctor says I have an inflamed lumbar region and has prescribed some apparently heavy painkillers, as well as anti-inflammatorys, and pills to protect my stomach from the anti-inflammatorys. He made me cry in front of my boss by poking me in the back (hence heavy-duty painkillers).

Curious Sam is currently in the process of becoming seriously drugged up in a resort town on the North coast of France. At least I can lie on the beach I suppose. My exploring plans are looking rather improbable at this point.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Dinard.....

In Brittany finally, as promised ;-)

Just to let you all know that I'm alive and all that, and still in France (although I could get a ferry to England if I wanted).

Pictures on Tuesday or Wednesday, promise!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hills in France...

When I came over here I had a discussion with a friend about the area of France I was going to, and was advised that it was very gently rolling hills, but essentially flat. Thus I had images of the Canterbury plains in my head, and was rather disappointed when I discovered that I was to be living part way up a hill! I can cycle up to the driveway, but it is an effort, and if don't want to get all smelly then I really have to walk. Or if I am wearing sandals that are all slippery on the pedals. Damned hills!!!

Anyway, climbed up the hill, it was hilly. Took some pictures from the top. Also, at the end of the series is one of the castle. Just so you know I'm actually not kidding!!!

This afternoon we are going to Brittany, to the seaside, yay!!! Hopefully my next pictures will be of the beach and the sun. I am wearing my summer dress in preparation!

Ruille sur Loir

Another village which isn't far, maybe five kilometers away, give or take. I mostly took pictures of the river, which I assume to be the Loir, but I could be wrong, I didn't actually see any signs proclaiming it to be so. I think I found a massive nunnery here. I couldn't be sure because I really couldn't quite be bothered to stop and check, but I followed the sound of the church bells chiming 7pm and decided to see if there was also a lovely church here. I found instead a wall, which I followed up some hill and around a wee way, maybe a kilometer in total following the perimeter in a loop. All I could see over the wall was what looked like the top of a cross, and the roofs. When I got to the front part (which was of course the last side I reached) I could see a big building with some clothes drying in one window. Thus I have decided it is some sort of nunnery. Oh and it did seem to have a church as well at this part.

After circling most of the village in my loop around the nunnery perimeter I then had some dinner in a restaurant which appeared to have won many awards, which was nice. The waitress spoke some English, by no means good, but significantly better than my still reasonably non-existent French, so between us I managed to order fish, which was thankfully not creamy or fatty, like everything else I have eaten since I got here. I had bread, of course, which was nice to dip in the broth, and for dessert had icecream- I even had an idea it was icecream before I said I wanted it! Although I turned out to be maybe home-made icecream or real-fruit icecream, or something. Some was green and I think apple flavour, some was white, very icy (not so creamy) and possibly peach, although I really couldn't be sure. And I have no idea what the other flavour was, but it was decidedly the most normal flavour, maybe caramel biscuit or toffee or something. Hooray I am starting to be able to order food without translation!

After my dinner I came home, but not before realising that there were tiny traffic lights which I had completely ignored on my way in. I assume they were for cyclists, but clearly rather poorly positioned as I completely failed to see them when I came in!


So I understand that I have been a little lax about updating my blog, so I will do several updates for today which has been an excellent day, and hopefully throughout it you can gather the essentials (I.e. living in a castle in the French countryside). I have cycled from the castle to the village Lhomme, and from there to Ruille sur Loir, up the valley a few Kilometers, and then home via a large hill to take some pictures where you could see the view a bit. And to get my heart beat up a bit. I should be well fit by the end of summer with all the exercise!

Firstly, I cycled to Lhomme, a really sweet little village which is the closest to the castle. Really lovely. With the bakery where I bought brioche for my mini picnic, to be addressed in detail later. In New Zealand, and in fact England too come to think of it, brioche always had chocolate or some sort of filling in it, but this was plain. I shall thus assume that we have taken up bastardising a traditional food again by adding chocolate or some other sort of ingredient which changes the essential nature of the food. But anyway. There was this really cute church in the centre of the village, which looked to be really old, and was clearly not for tourists. So clearly not for tourists in fact that I felt totally ridiculous standing there taking pictures, so I took a bit of detour and found this really bizarre place, which I can only assume was somebody's garden full of lots of old machines!

In further strangeness, I stumbled upon a little house behind the church, with such an odd little garden, it immediately made me think of Hansel and Gretel!!! I took a few pictures, but I think it was somebody's house and garden, so I felt a bit weird and stopped! But such a huge old tree overhanging this garden which seemed made for children, little stone table, flower beds. Very strange, quite eerie!

Following my explorations of Lhomme, which is a pretty tiny village, I discovered this little stream with an old stone foot-bridge next to the new one for cars, so of course I had to play on it! I ended up having my picnic of brioche and nectarine there. So delicious, and such a lovely spot. I was disturbed only twice in my endless photography, by the same man. I think he went to pick blackberries or something, because he stopped on the way there and we had one of those oddly satisfying conversations where we both talk at each other in different languages, probably about completely different things, and then walk away smiling. When he came back again maybe 15 minutes later when I was actually about to take a last picture and leave, I had the presence of mind to ask him to take a picture of me on the little bridge. Yay for my awesome Franglish (not retarded Franglish, tyvm)!

When I was cycling away from the little picnic spot I also found this little spot with more wildflowers and a view over the wheat fields, which I love. Why don't we grow wheat like this in New Zealand? It's such a similar climate, we grow other crops the same, why not wheat? There is a lot of wheat here, as well as the wine which of course the Val de Loir is famous for.

And my other favourite crop here is the sunflowers! Fields and fields of them! Look at this massive one- again in someone's garden. It's a wonder I haven't been yelled at in French and chased away really, the time I spend photographing other peoples gardens without asking! Maybe I should add that request to the list of phrases I must learn in French.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ruille sur le Loir

Well it is a lovely little town where I am currently eating my dinner. Still on the Loir river I think. There is definitely a river, and I have taken pictures. I will post them when I am using my laptop though. I do not have magic powers to move pictures from my camera to my phone without a computer and several cables.

Anyway I have had a glorious afternoon cycling and exploring the French countryside. Really lovely. And I had a picnic on a stone footbridge :-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A few new adventures...

Upon realising that my last post was about Cambridge, I feel I have a bit of catching up to do. As it is pouring with rain at the moment, and is I think supposed to do so for a another few days, I suspect I shall be trapped inside this castle somewhere in France for a while yet. That's right, I am trapped in a castle. I'm so impressed I haven't dressed up like a princess yet, it's pretty tempting. Maybe we can place Kings and Queens tomorrow...

So. Turkey didn't work out. So much so that I didn't even get the chance to take any pictures :-( It was warm, the food was amazingly delicious, and I didn't eat a single Kebab the whole time! I did eat about ten different cheeses (usually 3 or 4 with breakfast and lunch) and olives with breakfast every day. Oh and I learned how to communicate in universal sign language. Now I understand why Europeans gesticulate so much, it really is vital to survival.

Following my whirlwind trip to Istanbul I returned to England, and back to my lovely friends E and D (who I may now collectively call ED...) who looked after me after my sudden departure and helped me eat all the olives I brought back. Feeling vaguely dejected I resumed my job hunt, and S2 also came to visit us, which was lovely. With both of us sitting about moping stupidly about the job situation and how much London sucks (on good day London is great, on a bad day it really isn't all that) we were struck by the appealing idea of going to Edinburgh to stay with S2's friend up there, checking out the job situation, deciding if it looked like somewhere we would want to live.

After ten million interviews on Wed, Thur and Fri (okay maybe only ten, but it was a marathon effort) and being told everyone loved me, we jumped on a train to York. Looked around York (there was a giant Yorkshire pudding, there will be pictures I promise!), drank some tea, admired walls, and got back on a train to Scotland. After a very picturesque ride along the Scottish and English East coast we arrived in the early evening to a pretty, if somewhat damp city, and were met by S2's friend.

At this point I shall skim over Edinburgh because there will be a full post on it in the coming days. I have much to say! But I spent Saturday and especially Sunday being a touch mopey as although all my interviews had given positive feedback etc, nobody had said anything definite either way. And as the two I most hoped for were through agencies, I couldn't pester them for an answer. So Monday morning I spent emailing people and following up interviews before we went out to enjoy the day, as it wasn't raining. In the mid-afternoon I get a call from my favourite agency (who I had assumed were trying to call me about one of the previous interviews) asking if I was interested in a job in France, starting asap, to which I replied with the predictable "Hells yes!". Well actually I think I said "Sure" but I was definitely thinking "Hells yes!".

So, later that night the mother from France calls me, while S2 and I are sitting in a pub having dinner (I was brave enough to try Stovies with Oatcakes, but not Haggis) and we have a chat. She seems nice, very trusting of the agent (which I also am!) and essentially says she will hire me and when can I start. And thus, Friday afternoon rolls along, and here I am cursing the Stanstead express (I really wish the would drop the 'Express' part, it's such a lie) and somehow making my flight on time. I would have stayed in London the night before, but there wasn't a bed to be had anywhere, (even if I had been willing to pay the £35/ night they were asking for dorm rooms!!!) so I raced down Friday morning instead.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I have come to find myself in a French castle in the Loire valley.

Friday, June 10, 2011


It has been brought to my attention that I haven't actually posted the pictures of my weekend in Cambridge. It was over a month ago now, back when it looked like England knew what summer was supposed to involve; it seems to have forgotten now.

I hadn't realised that punting, a traditional Cambridge activity, was planned for the afternoon, so I wasn't quite dressed for it, but we had fun none the less. Here is me actually punting and getting the boat to move in a forwards direction:

And here is me, crashing into a tree:

Damn overhanging branches, trying to grab the punt right out of my hands! I battled free though, with some assistance from all. And we had our very own pirate dog, when the boys rescued a punt from the grips of the river and offered it back she quickly leapt across and made herself some new friends... Pirate Dog!!!

I didn't really do many other touristy, photography-ing things while I was there, but it was nice. And there were pictures of punting. And yes, somebody did fall in, and no, it wasn't me- can you imagine me swimming in that dress?!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A new adventure!

It looks like this curious Sam will be spending the summer in Turkey!

I will update with some more details when I have them, but it looks like I could be seeing some sun, which will make a pleasant change from the English weather!

Ohhhh yeah!!! I am looking forward to this! I could certainly do with warmth.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


So almost in Wales. Swindon. I'm pretty sure that is near Wales, but Wikipedia assures me it is sin England.

Train cancellations are certainly one way to see a country. Ironically faster than my original journey plan too.

Monday, May 30, 2011

So I know it has been a while,

but there has been a lot going on. To cut a very long story short, I am kind of jobless and homeless at the moment, which isn't something I've actually managed before. Being made homeless and jobless in the space of about ten minutes is certainly an adventure... not necessarily what I had in mind, but hey, let's not get fussy. I mean, at least I have an internet connection :-)

I am being well looked after by the way. Times like these do show who your friends really are, and I have some wonderful friends. Fascinating the way people all get thrown in together, crossing paths with no idea how it will matter so much in six months time, or a years time. Good thing my mother always taught me to say 'Please' and 'Thank you'. And to not say anything if you can't say anything nice. I think that one has done me well ;-) thanks Mum!

So, I'm still looking at jobs in childcare, mostly because that's where my qualifications and experience are. Theoretically I should be getting offered nanny jobs left right and centre, I have an awesome nanny CV (apart from not driving, but that doesn't matter *that* much), but for some reason, I haven't been offered one. I'm not really partial to God, or fate or divine intervention, but I think the world might be giving me a hint here. Seriously, my nanny agents are totally confused, everyone loves my CV and wants to meet me, and the interviews always give positive feedback; apparently I come across well, I'm presentable, intelligent, lovely, sweet, and a variety of other very complimentary adjectives, but somehow despite being the ideal candidate in every possible way, I don't get the job. Now, generally I would just shrug and get on with the next interview, but the statistics are starting to look pretty bad. I would think I am doing something wrong, but I get the interviews, and I get positive feedback from them, so there is nothing obviously wrong with my technique.

Which leaves me thinking I should try for other jobs. What does teaching, nanny, child protection, customer service, waitressing, and a BA leave me doing? Yeah I haven't quite figured that one out yet either. It kinda points to childcare, but seeing as that doesn't seem to be working out as planned, I'm considering second options. I've looked at a few jobs in the charity/NGO area, as I figure the International Relations degree and child protection kinda lend themselves to it. But most of those seem to be either fundraising (I don't consider my current situation a good example of fundraising...) or marketing campaigns. Now, I could probably get into marketing, as in I might enjoy it, for an NGO or something, selling a theory or position on something is right up my alley (enter Philosophy major), if it is something I would actually want to support. Trouble is I wouldn't be dedicated enough to do it for a private company, so I never really considered it a career path, and have no qualifications in the area of marketing, communications or journalism. All of which seem to be necessary for the type of work which I would think I would be good at. Oh and I lack about 5 years of necessary experience in it too.

I'm not exactly business-minded, but I can see that in a recession an employer will have their pick of crop so far as applicants goes. And with everyone wanting work, experienced employees are only a bit more expensive than a brand new graduate. But seriously, how much does experience *really* matter. Just because they've done it before it doesn't mean they're doing it properly. Also, people who haven't done things before are more likely to do it the way you tell them to, and surely that's a good thing, no? My favourite is the way they really, really cling to nannying experience, it is sort of hilarious. Seriously, people think it is such a big deal. If people can't look after a baby unless they have experience then how has the human race been reproducing for the last couple of million years? Also, there is research suggesting a link between the level of education of a carer and the achievements of the child in later life. Surely that is a compelling reason for choosing a well-educated and qualified nanny with only two years experience (!!!) over someone with loads of experience who doesn't actually know a thing about education? Apparently not. I love the way that your age is asked for in this job. Not discreetly or by some calculations of when you finished university, but asked outright. I see many job descriptions which state the required age of the nanny. In any other industry there would be an Equal Opportunities outcry, but in this, oh no, it's perfectly normal to ask and say "Oh no dear, you're far too young, they're looking for someone over thirty".

Ahem, bit of a side track. My original point was actually the fascinating situation I find myself in of being a (relatively) new graduate, with some experience, and unable to get a job. It is fascinating because it is affecting so many people. It isn't just me here in the UK, although it is a very big problem here (some ludicrously large proportion of graduates are either unemployed or working in jobs the are ridiculously over-qualified for here, I'm sure it was about 50% unemployed for my degree, and only marginally better if you went for law). Many of my friends from school and university are unemployed, and a great deal of them returned to university after looking at the possibilities of work and realising the chances weren't great for anything, never mind going into the field you actually graduated in. I have a great many friends who have completed a BSc, only to work in administration or data entry or some other totally unrelated job. At least I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to major in philosophy.

More than anything it is the contrast between now and then that amazes me. Were we really gullible back then? We all had our dreams of journalism, writing, doctors, lawyers, scientists and maybe we weren't so openly full of dreams, but they were certainly there. I for one had no direction, but I certainly believed that a university degree was the way to get there, as I believe we all did. I spent four years getting my BA, and realising I was so bad a chemistry I couldn't get past first year science for my BSc that I had originally aspired to. That didn't really bother me, and when I got to the end of it all I decided to take the 'practical' option and become a teacher. Another year at university, delay the inevitable, and make the inevitable an easier task. I can see I wasn't really ready to let go of university (I'm still not), but it seemed reasonable to think it would get me a job.

Now, I studied NZ foreign policy at university (never, ever again), and I was aware that the UK had essentially cut the metaphorical apron strings for NZ back at the start of the EEC. Fine, makes sense. But the protectionism that it has now is quite amazing. I remember, a few years ago now, all the complaints about Australia's apple growers and protectionism, it was a big debate at the time. But compared to the EU it is petty. Also, having created an empire, the UK has made so many commitments it couldn't possibly join the EEC/EU and actually honour them all. But the fact that they won't recognise my qualification I find astounding. New Zealand has one of the best early childhood curriculum in the world, and it is very well respected. I could say many bad things about the UK education system here, but I will just let you fill those in yourself (suffice to say I believe in free education, and I wouldn't send children to a public school here). And that is just the UK. I don't want to sound snobby, but seriously, do they really think that that a teaching qualification from Slovenia is going to be better than one from another respected OECD, English-speaking country? Apparently so. If it were Finland I would cut them some slack, their teachers need to have a Masters degree before they let them loose on the children. But it's not. Training outside the EU means you aren't qualified to teach inside of it. I am so many kinds of not interested in sitting another set of exams and paying yet more money for the opportunity to be knifed by some waist-high gang protege. Thanks but I'll pass on that.

So my additional year of training is currently proving worse than useless. Which means I'm back to searching for jobs off the back of my BA, and a years worth of childcare-related work. Given that my friends who are so much better qualified than me can't find work, I'm not exactly what you might call optimistic. But somehow I am still hopeful something good will come of it. I was never meant to be a teacher, so this could be my chance to get into something a bit more 'me'. And at least I'm not in my old job, which I was never particularly enamoured with in the beginning, and it only went down hill (and trust me, it hit rock bottom in the hardest possible way).

But hey, recessions and depressions cause desperation. And desperation breeds creativity, so maybe my generation of misled graduates are about to do something wonderful and unexpected yet, we just need enough pressure and time.

Here, this is me fighting the world for my place in it.

Damn it this is my world too and I'm gonna enjoy it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I wish I could write fiction.

I just had the most awesome idea for a children's story. Well, character for a children's story anyway. Absolute nightmare character for children. Ahhh so funny for me to think of it. I think I will have to start thinking about people I know from the perspective of a child more often, it's incredibly entertaining!

I can even think of a story to go with this one now. Hmmmm.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pistols at a knife fight

I do have an interesting life, I have to admit. I can't wait to be able to blog about it all!

In the mean time, I shall have to settle for saying exactly how much I love all of my friends, you're amazing, thank you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I know I have talent,

But homeless and jobless in the space of 15 minutes is definitely a new record.

I'm fine by the way, I have got friends and they're all lovely, I'm really more nomadic than homeless :-)

Que sera, sera.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm no grammar Nazi,

but I would like to say that I love all you people who can actually put a sentence together without contradicting yourself three times over.

Seriously, I would hope that someone with the same level of qualifications as myself might at least be able to construct a sentence coherently. It doesn't need to be nice, pretty or poetic, it just needs to be functional.

More words does not equal better. I'm sorry. More words equals more opportunities to make an ass out of yourself because you aren't using them properly.

I know I have awesome powers of writing stuff, but I can't actually use them when I can't make head or tail of what I'm trying to re-write.

Thank you for listening to my ranting.

You can go back to being normal, vaguely coherent people again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Further to my Easter escapades...

Switzerland for chocolate season- win!!!

Here are some pretty pictures. Suffice to say I will be going back to Switzerland at some point. The cows really did have bells on (yes, I did sit on the train laughing myself silly when I saw them). It was really lovely, I was charmed. And incredibly impressed by their train system. They were on time! And quiet! And double-decker trains are possibly the best thing since steam trains! They were very cool.

Here are some pictures from my bedroom window where I was staying (Lucerne). There would have been more, many more, but apparently taking pictures out of a moving train with a cellphone camera isn't terribly effective.

My most recent adventure was Cambridge (I may be waiting some time for pictures though as I didn't take them) and my next planned adventure is another fleeting trip to Athens, even more fleeting than last time. So I probably won't even bother blogging about it, I doubt it will count as an adventure (but let's not make assumptions, they always seem to be wrong when it involves travel).