Today has been an interesting day. Yesterday I spent a lot of time working, either dropping off or picking up the children or shopping for the ingredients for three big galettes (a French pastry as big as a cake which contains a little porcelain figure; the person who gets the figure is the King/Queen. It’s for Epiphany) because the younger girls wanted to take them to their school. It was a joke galette because every single piece contained a figure so everyone won. I think it went down very well.
Anyway yesterday was a long day, particularly because I was baby-sitting so I got the children through supper and into bed without their mother there. It isn’t real babysitting because the housekeeper was around until seven and then their father came home at eight, but it was the first time I’d read bedtime stories etc.
This morning I had my first French lesson! The suburb we live in has a sort of town social club which gives free French lessons and all kinds of other things – assistance with legal documents, for instance – and I’m having lessons there several times a week. It was pretty intense, and almost entirely new to me. We did some very complex grammar and lots of vocabulary about the local area and the style of the lesson was completely different from my classes in school (partly because it lasted for three hours, although I was actually an hour late as I’d been told the wrong time).
Sorry if this isn’t very coherent, I’m pretty tired because after my lesson I tried to go to the American library. I say tried because unsurprisingly I got lost and what should have been at the most a half hour trip took me two hours and involved a lot of walking around looking at the Assemblie National and various ministerial offices and consulates. Very interesting but exhausting and not what I was trying to find! I did get there in the end and spent two hours reading English in a library full of English-speaking people, before emerging very incongruously into metropolitan Paris. But it was nice to be there for a bit. Even though the family speak English, the lady who is the housekeeper doesn’t and as I’ve mentioned before we all talk French when she is here, which is for 11 hours a day, so actually I’m mostly talking French and having to learn fast. It’s great in terms of language learning but it can be difficult when I don’t know the words. I’ve got a dictionary now (one that is better than Collins Easy Learning Dictionary: French which is worse than useless since it tricked me into thinking I was home dry when it actually hasn’t got any words in it at all) and the classes will help hugely.
I also made a friend! There is a girl called Anne in the classes, she’s also an au pair and is from Denmark. We are meant to be meeting for lunch tomorrow but we were going to arrange it via Facebook and the internet is still being totally unreliable so I might not actually be able to sort it out. It’s incredibly frustrating because the computer claims that I’m connected with a speed of 54Mbps and a strong connection, but nothing works and we have no idea why.
And having just said that, it’s reappeared so I’m going to quickly post this before it vanishes again!
Oops, no, I spoke too soon. It was reconnected for just about long enough to load the blog but not long enough to reach the New Post page and certainly not long enough to upload. I was trying to Skype with my mum earlier because we haven’t spoken since I arrived, but the connection was so bad that we spent most of half an hour saying “can you hear me? Oh, it’s back… oh no, it’s gone again” and then gave up. I’m not exactly feeling homesick but I do wish I could phone home properly without it costing a fortune or being completely useless.