Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Travel Buddy Chris

We have met Chris before, but his weekend visit to Paris is imminent so I thought a trip down memory lane was in order. I have entitled this post 'Travel Buddy Chris' because me and Chris have been to a fair few countries together by this point, but I'll get to that, Chris and I were in the same halls in Uni - but we weren't really good friends until our post-uni house share.

Ha, we look like a cheesy sitcom. Anyway, this is where we lived for a couple of years watching countless episodes of How I Met Your Mother, hosting many a house party....

before, sadly, we all moved London-wards to different locations. It was about...six months after that that my sister talked me into joining her on her travelling adventure!

How could I say no? Speaking to Chris I got an unexpected reaction 'I'm going travelling in November too!' Say whaaaaaat! Chris was buggering off to Bali to become Scuba King. Some vague plans were made and before we knew it, we were in India!

It was kiiiiind of impressive. From the Taj Mahal in Agra -

To a dawn boat ride down the Ganges in Varanasi...

Under odd circumstances, we ended up in Kathmandu, Nepal, where it was colder than we had anticipated, and colder than we had packed for...

We started trekking south back through India until we found the sun again!

And picked up Chef Tom along the way! Eventually we were done in India and Chris headed back to England whilst Fi and I wandered back to Thailand for a couple of months. Maybe a year later my Gran decided she wanted her birthday to be celebrated in Vegas...

And so it was. I wanted to mix it up a little bit though and decided to see Los Angeles and San Francisco before heading to join the family at Excalibur...and who better to join me on my detour than Chris!

And we brought Matt along for fun as well!

He was thrilled. You can tell.

Yes, that was all the same day. I don't just own the one dress. The boys humoured me a lot by taking pictures on demand and trekking to the Charmed house...

It was an absolutely phenomenal trip and we covered little towns between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Much wine was drunk...

And extremely alcoholic Irish Coffees.

And then we hit Vegas!

Paris is already added to the list since Chris came up for my birthday in September so we have: England, France, Thailand, India, Nepal and America. America was last June...so I think we're overdue for a holiday.

Looking forward to your visit, Chris! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

An Evening with Steph

The Wife came for a long weekend, Wednesday to Sunday. Now, it was unfortunately ruined by circumstances beyond our control but I'm going to completely ignore it and recount the fun I had finally having some time with Steph again. I unfortunately had to work during the week but Steph and I enjoyed doing what we do best in the evenings, drinking tea (or wine) and watching TV.

Friday night we had plans to hit that awesome fondu place, le refuge des fondues, which I now don't think I'll be going back to since me and the old man that runs the place jokingly made a few too many suggestive faces to each other. Even if Steph was the one that profited in the end...

Ha! I enjoy this picture no end! It was me, Steph, Sophie, Sophie's (lovely) friend Hannah and Christina, so, all in all, an amazing girly crowd with plenty to talk about over cheese!

It looks like a picture of the fondu pot, but really I was just taking a cheeky picture of Steph's boobs. Mwahahahaha!

A couple of baby bottles of wine later and Christina lead us to an awesome little place, the People's Drug Store.
This place had a massive selection of different beers, you pick one and they put it in an insta-cooler thing. We all got some random ones (I was tempted to try Duff but went with some other beer that I can't remember, and then settled down to standard activity on a night out, a good game of chess.
I lost. I really don't get chess. After this we said bye to Hannah and Sophie (cos Sophie lives out in the styx) and we headed to a bar recommended by some random French guy. Ahem, standard.

This is where we met our best friend Caroline. Ha, we talked to her for ages, she was very lovely! But the bar closed and we were very much kicked out, and headed to the bar I went to my birthday weekend.

Steph Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Where we met another of our best friends...whose name I forget. Anyway, we got a bit fed up with this bar as the guys were very pushy for wanting to dance with you - which we do not enjoy...in case you think we do, we don't - so we headed home via bike which I soon realised I wasn't sober enough to be doing when I crashed and slammed my face into a plant pot. Well done me. Anyway. The next day we had a late lunch/early dinner at the Amelie café!

Steph had a croque madame, which gave me immediate food envy.

I had a deluxe burger...which I have to admit I was disappointed with. Fries weren't great either, sad times. But we both loved the bread...
Heehee, 'loved' it. Get it? Cos it's a heart? Haaaaa. Afterwards we nipped off to the pub to watch England beat France (YAAAAAY!) And then, in classic Steph and Nichola fashion, we watched When Harry Met Sally....and promptly fell asleep during it!

Less than three weeks til I get home and will have plenty more nights with the wife. By God, there will be tea.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Love Affair with Language

I cannot tell you why, nor when, I decided I just had to learn French. I remember being very young and my Granny Doc offered to buy me and my sister a book of our choice (I'm guessing I was about 8, maybe) and I picked up a pocket French dictionary, because, in my eight year old brain, all I had to do was learn what every word was in French, and then I'd be fluent.

I've now spent more time living in Paris than I have in London and my French is at a better level than it's probably ever been, but I have come to accept that fluency will probably always elude me.

France vs Wales 6 nations 2013

I have also come to a rather surprising personal revelation. I prefer English, as a language. Not because it's my native tongue or because it's the first language of the world but because it evolves so quickly. One of the issues I've found with using French is that things are phrased, when directly translated, in such an odd, old fashioned way. For example, they still have a formal version of 'you' as well as an informal version that you use with your friends - 'vous' and 'tu', as much as I'd like to see us bring 'thou' back into use.

And obviously 'please' is translated into 's'il vous plait' or 's'il te plait' = literally, if it pleases you.

But English changes all the time. I remember when describing someone as 'fit' hit the playground, when the kids started using 'sick' to mean good - 'totes' is now a classic and I do enjoy throwing an occasional 'blates' into conversation.

Uni Night & Double Header Sep 2010

Conversely, I can be a bit of a grammar nazi when I'm talking to friends, especially, God help you, if you say 'could of' or 'should of', but it's actually things like that which have meant English has evolved so that we can express ourselves in SO many different ways and I love it.

The French seem to lacking on this front. Sophie and I were discussing this the other day, and we concluded that this was why the French gesture a whole lot more than us English people do. I mean, the French shrug is famous as a gesture of indifference, but what you see around Paris is that they gesture for everything and watching a Frenchman tell a joke is entertaining as hell. It's pretty handy for people like me who can follow about half of what is said...

And in English it's so easy to invent new words! Personally I've decided 'effortful' is a word. If something can be effortless it can damn well be effortful. Also, how is 'ongoingly' not a word already? I'm using it regardless. The French don't have this, poor mites. The most exciting thing I heard that the 'kids' used to do was say the backwards versions of some words. So a woman, 'femme' became a 'mef' - pronounced like one of our slang words for lady parts...entertaining.

So, French people, I'll continue trying to master your language, but I'll always pity you for missing out on the vocabularic genius that is 'totes'...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A post about Ben

OK - so, I entitled the blog 'single in Paris' for the fact that I was, when I created it, single in Paris. But, as people can easily see from later posts, I am definitely no longer single, and soon, will no longer be in Paris.

I'd heard the old adage that love appears when you stop looking, or when you least expect it or some other saying about love that I don't generally subscribe to, but I have to say, I was definitely not looking, I wasn't even wanting, and I could never have told you, in a million years, that it was going to be Ben.

So a trip through Nichola and Ben...we met, in standard fashion, first year of Uni. He actually tells this story better than me so here's my recounting of the way Ben tells it:

"You know how, in the first year of Uni everyone in halls just leaves their door open, well, I walked past a door where everyone was about to watch a film and Nichola invited me in - movie was literally just starting, it was still credits, and I asked ONE question and she said "If you're going to talk you can get out my room.". So I was like, what a bitch, and left."

What can I say, except don't talk when I'm watching a film.

Ben and I were kind of friends after that through default, mutual friends meant we were part of the same extended Uni group. We got better friends as the years went on but I think I can say that we only really become good friends when four of us got a house share after Uni. Now I can go on detailing what was a wonderful friendship and it all seems really romantic now but I can assure you it really wasn't. Ben and me were friends, nothing more. You can look back at pictures and go, aww how cute. Friends. And as Ben so charmingly put it:

"I don't think of my female friends as attractive. They're just friends."

Duly insulted from any stand point.

But anyway, moving to London Ben and I found more time for each other and he became the guy I talked to about everything. Which is round about the time I realised there was a lot more to him than I'd originally thought (no offence Ben but you can't help but have a low opinion of the guy who painted a crime scene outline on his wall).

All very nice but again, friends. It took a long weekend in France to change things up. Part of me was dreading four straight days with him. I was thinking, oh God, he's going to annoy the fuck out of me. This is going to be painful... Turned out it was really easy, really chilled, and I guess you can say it went from there...

A lot of backhanded compliments: "You know Ben, you've not annoyed me at all this weekend, I'm really surprised.", some good conversations and the sight of Ben with his shirt off (bad/good timing coming out of the bathroom) and something clicked...oh God...I like him.

I had no idea at this time that anything similar was going on on his side...all I kept saying to myself was 'No, this is Ben, Ben is your friend...even if you wanted to, you live in Paris! Just leave it, ignore it, leave it alone.' Sometime after that weekend there was indication on his side that he was heading down the same road I was...

The rest, I guess, is history. It's been nearly 6 months since that weekend and I'm moving back to London in just three weeks to start a new chapter. I stand by the fact that I'm 95% excited and 5% terrified. End of the day you can't predict the future but you can damn well enjoy the present and, in the words of Mr Marley:

"Love hard when there's love to be had."

Shreena's Bday Paris December 2012

Note I've changed the title and will change the URL soon to be nicholawithanh.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Boyfriend came to visit me in Paris, his last visit until I return home! I spent Valentine's Day at work as I assume most of us did and tried to not be disappointed nothing arrived for me that day, except my new headphones which are awesome. I tried not to get too down about it since I knew Ben was arriving later but emails from him about dull application details kind of tipped me into a 'some valentine's day' mood. A mood I was no good at hiding...

It was after three and I'd more or less gotten over the fact I wouldn't be one of the lucky ladies to receive any V-day displays of affection when an email arrived from Ben: "OK, I didn't want to say anything but, can you go check your post room?" Unfortunately my gorgeous bunch of roses (Ben sent me a picture of what should have arrived) was not delivered. I assume they're now sitting in my office but I'm going to warn you against the website anyway as I know someone else who had a hard time using this website. DO NOT USE iflorist. At least not if you're sending to France.

Anyway, Ben arrived with a single white rose... I was super pleased.

I was also super excited to give Ben his Valentine's day present...

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Disneyland!! Yaaaay! For some reason we spent our first half hour or so trying on funny hats...

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben and I then hit a few rides before stopping for some lunch at a place which I think was called The Lucky Nugget or Golden Nugget or something similar.

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

The food wasn't amazing but the band were good!

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013
It was an amazing day and we were exhausted by the end of it so I whipped us up a quick pasta dinner and we were in bed by ten watching Big Bang Theory. Rock and roll.

The next night we went out for sushi followed by drinks. Having spent the day in chilling we weren't in any hurry to go back home. So I text round to see who was about and we ended up with a little last minute night out...

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

I'm not entirely sure what's going on in this picture, or why I decided to do this next...

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Christina, Ben (No. 2) and Jen had been out drinking all day so were in very high spirits. It made for some entertaining banter and mild nudity so we could view Jen's tattoos!

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

It's funny how entertaining a pair of sunglasses can be when added with several cocktails.

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013
We hit our favourite karaoke place after the pub but it was packed out with French people singing French songs and strangely they stopped having singers up when we arrived...I'm almost sure they didn't recognise us from last time. Anyway, me and Ben decided we'd had enough to drink (well, I'd had enough to drink) and, it being towards two in the morning we chose the most obvious mode of transportation home.

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

Ben Weekend Paris Feb 2013

It's just all about the velibs. It was definitely a fantastic Valentine's Day weekend!