Naomi and snow came to France. Initially we had beautiful, sunny weather and toured the old town, ate patisseries and visited the supermarket, which sounds strange but is one of my favourite activities in France. Jars of snails, horse meat, pigeon wings, aisles and aisles of cheese, wine and ham…yoghurts as far as the eye can see. Bliss. After a few days of chilling in my tiny studio drinking copious amounts of tea and indulging in duck and red wine, I stepped outside to go to school on market morning and was met by a winter wonderland. What a Péri-view! As everyone in the staff room grumbled about road closures, black ice and cold toes, I ran gleefully around the school taking photos and narrowly avoiding mass snowball fights in the playground…I felt sorry for the nerdy, unco kids; maybe it was my duty to give them someone to aim for?!
Naomi sadly missed the snowed-out markets, but the magic that is essentially just fluffy rain kept us entertained for most of the day. It was surreal to see my little blue-sky Périgood in white, peaceful silence. Happily, the reduced school hours gave me more time to hit the gym; my fitness lingo is coming along quite nicely, even if my abs are not. Allez-y jusqu’au bout…ça brûle!!!
And so in the extreme weather I began to plan for the one day of the year that, for expats, is more important than Christmas, New Years and birthday all in one: Australia Day. The only Australian in the ‘gueux and I was feeling the pressure! At least I think I’m the only Australian in this town; surely I would’ve been notified by the Frenchies if there were someone else here with whom they dutifully mime kangaroos hopping at every opportunity? My panic was great: what if I could not successfully organise Two Ups, cane toad races and straight arm beer sculling competitions for all the inhabitants of Périgueux?
Turns out I couldn’t, but in my panic I made up for the lack of planned activities by hitting the kitchen. I made approximately four million Lamingtons (give or take) and shared them with all my colleagues. Suddenly I have friends in the staff room, if only I had known before it would be so easy to bribe people into talking to me! Out came all the obscure connections to Australia that people had previously been too busy to share with me. In my classes I listened to I Am Australian exactly 13 times, did seven lessons on Brushtail Possums and kangaroos and taught the little blighters how to say g’day and hooroo…as if they weren’t confused enough with Eengleesch already, strewth! And in case anyone doubts I spend my days speaking about kangaroos…
Aussie Day went off without a hitch and our multicultural crew indulged in French/Belgian beer and Toulouse sausages with sides of potato salad, vegemite and pavlova. After an evening beer at the Irish Bar, I fell into a blissful sleep on the floor at one of my friend’s studios, cork hat in place for 12 hours and all tuckered out after a cracker of a day.
Now in case I look back on this blog in a few years and believe that Périgueux life was all red wine, duck and happiness (which it pretty much is) I do think I should put some balance into my memories and note down some French quirks that have begun to annoy me…
- Getting baguette crumbs in my handbag.
- Also crusty baguette-related gum injuries.
- Dodging mushy dog poop.
- Signs that say “Exceptionellement Fermé” (unprecedented closure) that are guaranteed to be present whenever you need to visit the bank, the shoe shop…even the school library.
- The smoke and spit cloud in front of all my schools.
- Cheek kisses in between gym classes, in the school hallways, at the bank, at the train station…avancez!
- The cheerful tone used by public servants and cashiers when things cannot be done. Et voilà, c’est impossible! Mwahahah 😀
A la prochaine fois xx