anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

France, Part 1

My trip to France with E was a nice, even if undeserved, break. We drove from London, took the ferry to Calais, drove to St Malo, spent a night there, then went to Mont Saint-Michel before driving to his mom's place near Brest. We spent five nights in Brest before driving down South: stopped at Carcassonne for a night, then five night at some random 'hotel' thing in a little town called Carry Le Rouet (?!?!?! Never heard of it, wouldn't recommend) that we used as a base to go to other places. These other places were: Arles and Cassis. There was a vague plan to go to Nimes but I was lazy, so we spent two days in the 'hotel', one day 'exploring' the town. Alas, there wasn't much to see.

Some highlights:

- I liked his mom and got along with his kids more than I thought I would, and this was despite my non-existent command of French. Imagine the interesting conversations I would have had with his mom (whose English was better than my French, though that's not saying much), and the funny things I could have said to his kids, mostly directed at him, if I could actually speak French!

- His mom's house was every bit as cluttered as he'd warned me. In fact, 'clutterd' is rather understating the case. Still, I quite enjoyed being there. They have a huge-ass garden, so huge that some developer wanted to buy it to build two houses on the land. I liked sitting on his deck chair in the garden, reading or writing in the evenings after dinner (which his mom prepared: yummy Vietnamese vegetarian food), or hitting a tennis ball around with him and his son. It was quite relaxing. Surprisingly, I would say the few days spent at his mom's was probably the best days of the trip.

- I've never been a fan of kids. I warned E a million times that I have no maternal instinct and that I dislike children. I felt apprehensive about meeting his kids; the language barrier aside, I didn't think that I could interact with them in a manner that would be mutually amusing. So yes, I was surprised that it turned out quite nice. His daughter is quite outgoing and started asking me questions in English that he fed her word for word, on the first day. His son, the shyer one, started playing with me after a couple of days, when we went to the Botanic Gardens in Brest to feed the ducks (grains, not bread! Bread is bad for ducks!). I noticed that he liked kicking stones on the path and so I joined in for fun. Later, in the car, he started hitting my head with this piece of leaf that they picked up in the Gardens, then saying either it wasn't him, or that it was his siter. It was quite cute. So after that I started hitting him gently on the head, and he'd grin and retaliate by trying to hit me on the head. I had to stoop and lower my head so that he could reach, and then I would pretend to cry and he'd giggle and run off. So yes. It was quite cute.

- I did, however, get really upset by the way they didn't acknowledge their grandmother. Without going into details, let's just say that the culture shock was real, and that I was literally shaking with anger. I cannot remember the last time I was so angry that my body trembled, and E had never seen me that angry. But he understood my point of view, so it was all good in the end.

- There was a heatwave in Europe that week. The library that was 5 minutes from his mom's house was so hot that I could barely think. That's my excuse for not doing enough work on my PhD.

- St Malo was pretty. The galette we ate delicious.

- Mont St Michel was pretty too, but to be honest, these church places are starting to look very, very samey to me now. E made me eat a fucking 38 euros omelette at this restaurant in Mont St Michel. It's the only place they do it, he said. It's famous, he said. I've always wanted to try it, he said. So what they do is, they eat a bunch of eggs in a particular way and put them on a special pan and bake them in some fire place thingy. We ordered the set menu, and while my starter and dessert were good, the omelette was such a let-down. It was so not worth it. The filling was served separately, which was weird, and my vegetables were not good at all. They were under-seasoned and bland and just boring. The omelette was also too fluffy; it was almost like a souffle. I don't like souffles. So it was not a good dish. But he'd always wanted to try, and I did it because of him (otherwise, I would have said fuck off to the obvious tourist trap), so at least one of us was happy!

I'm too lazy to continue with this entry. Maybe tomorrow!


On another note, I haven't been writing very much. I'm struggling to finish a short story that I started last year. The main reason, I think, is that I just don't care very much about it; that is, the story, the characters, my original plan for it. I'm just working on it (if you can even call it that) just to finish it.

The one good thing about the writing challenge was that it forced me to finish things. Now I get stuck after a couple of sentences and I think, Eh, no, can't be arsed. It's terrible.

I want to start writing the novel, but not until I'm done with the PhD. Both enterprises require 100% focus - and the PhD obviously is my priority at the moment. I really can't wait to submit it!
Tags: e, france, travel, writing

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