Monday, March 31, 2008

Who's a clever boy then?

Last night, after a friend had visited and left, and I went, once again, hunting deep-fried Mars bars, I returned to my apartment. Not long after, I stepped outside for a moment and cleverly closed the automatically locking door behind me, with my keys resting inside on the shelf, conveniently next to the door. It was 10:30pm, which is rather late, and on a Sunday night, not a good time to have to call a locksmith. Luckily, my landlady lives two floors below me, and I had my mobile phone with me. Thinking that 10:30pm was really too late to be calling anyone, but also that I didn't have much choice, I rang her, expecting to wake her up and annoy her etc...
It turned out that she was still up, as she had friends visiting for the evening. She gave me a spare key, and I came back upstairs to unlock the door and retrieve my own keys, and then returned her key. When I went back to give her back the second key, she invited me in to have a glass of wine with her and her friends.

I was lucky that it happened this weekend and not next, as she'll be in the south of France for her son's wedding next weekend.

Deep-Fried Mars Bars

... are another delicacy from Scotland. I know they're available in many places around the world, if you really want them, but they originated in Scotland. I had my first one when I was there, in St Andrews. I was in St Andrews for just a few days, and while I was there, I had my second and third deep-fried Mars bars too. They're delicious, and the combination of a deep-fried Mars bar and Irn-Bru is perfect.

After buying several cans of Irn-Bru yesterday, I thought it'd be great if I could find a deep-fried Mars Bar, so I asked the omnipotent Google if it'd heard of them in Paris. I found an article mentioning a traditional English fish and chips shop that had them on the menu, so I found a listing for this restaurant and headed over there. I was hopefuly, but the article was written in 2000, so I knew that it might not still exist. Unfortunately, when I got to rue Thouin, I discovererd that "Le Chipper" has vanished, and in its place is a business called "The Hookah Lounge". Quelle Domage!

I came home without one of these deep-fried delicacies, though I have a recipe, and if I could be bothered making it myself, I could have my own supply. The biggest problem is finding something to heat and keep the oil in. Here's the recipe. I love step 5. I would have thought it was a pretty obvious step, but there are probably people around who need it spelt out in this much detail.

Here's a photo of one of the delicious treats that I had in St Andrews:

The Scots have truly invented a delicious treat. The downside of Scottish cooking is that they have quite a high rate of heart disease and heart attacks, as well as a low life expectancy, compared with other developed nations.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

L'Epicerie Anglaise Irlandaise Ecossaise

After my not-so-successful hunt for Milo, I decided to follow up on another lead for interesting food. This time it was to the English Irish Scottish Grocery Store. I was after Irn Bru.

I found the address online and made my way over to the appropriate area, and with a pretty clear idea in my head of where to find the tiny street on which it is located, I left the métro station. It's near République. I found the tuny street without any difficulty and was greeted with this sign, just as the thought "so, where's this epicerie?" floated into my head.

The shope is quite small inside, with barely enough room for a couple of customers to turn around, but the seemed to have a large amount of different products there (including some american stuff and some polish vodka).
I left the grocery store with 5 cans of Irn Bru, 1 can of golden syrup and a box of pop tarts. It was a successful mission.

Lunch Today

Well, late lunch, anyway. Or perhaps early dinner. On my way home from the Australian Shop, I realised that I was hungry and therefore should eat something. I was trying to think of what I had in my apartment that could be cooked and/or eaten and decided that I wanted to eat Chinese food, as I haven't had Chinese food since the last time. And that last time was a long time ago. I don't remember eating Chinese in France. I could have cooked something in a Chinese style myself, but I thought it'd be easier to delegate the cooking, and so I found a Chinese take-away, not far from my apartment and ordered some duck soup thing. It looked like the picture below, because the picture below is a photograph of the duck soup thing. It was nice, but not nice enough that I'm going to hurry back to this particular Chinese restaurant.

The Australian Shop

I decided earlier today to find the Australian Shop (which also sells some NZ stuff) that I'd been told about. I'd only been given a general area, but I found the shop without any difficulties. There were lots of souveniry things for sale and some food. I could have bought TimTams (original, for 5euro a packet), Marmite (though they'd sold out of Vegemite), or some macadamia things. Not a single molecule of Milo to be found, which was my main reason for hunting down this place. My Milo's almost run out and I need some more. I asked the shopkeeper if they had any Milo, and, being French, he didn't know what I was talking about, so I described it to him and informed him that it was just as important as Vegemite, if not more. He surprised me by telling me that, of all the Australians who have visited his shop, none had ever mentioned Milo before. The last revelation surprised me more than the fact that they had no Milo in stock.
I may have convinced him to order some Milo, but, like everything else in the shop, it'll probably cost an arm and a leg.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

We're trying to catch up!

Tomorrow marks the start of daylight savings time in Europe, as the continent tries to catch up to Australia. It's only one hour, so there needs to be another 8 of them to bring France/Europe into line with Brisbane time. Today, Brisbane is 9 hours ahead of France/Europe, but tomorrow it'll be only 8 hours.

This means that this time tomorrow it won't be.

Damn suspicious packages

I had to wait about 30 mins today before being allowed to go near the platform at the train station at Robinson (the end of one of the southern branches of RER B). The reason we weren't allowed near the platform was that there was a suspicious package left on an earlier train and the police had to make sure it wasn't going to explode before letting the general public near the train in question. It was frustrating because it was raining and there wasn't a lot of undercover area left after the station had been closed. It was also frustrating because I usually go home from work on Fridays via a different route, but the normal route involves a bit of a walk, through a muddy forest*, and because it was raining, a student who was leaving at the same time as me offered to drive me to Robinson. It should have been a lot quicker than my usual route of Bus 291, metro 9 and then either 1 or 14 (depending on where I choose to change). After we were allowed to board the train, it was quite quick back to Chatelet.
I tried to take a photo of the train, and station, when it was desserted, but an RATP staff member told me that it was forbidden, and that I had to put my camera back in my pocket. What? Since when is taking photos of trains forbidden? A couple of French people who were standing near me were surprised at this rule too, and one even said that I should quickly take the photo after the employee had left, but I didn't want to risk it as the place was under surveillance.

* The forest is almost always slightly muddy, and I suspect it would be even in a drought, so during and just after the rain, it's not a pleasant walk.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Au Cinéma

I went to the cinema last night. I had wanted to see Sweeney Todd for a long time, since its release, essentially. So, I decided to go at the weekend. I went to a cinema called MK2 (Parnasse), which is near métro Vavin. It was a small cinema, and I think the film is nearing the end of it's cinema run, but the screen was big enough. Many cinemas in paris haven't grasped the concept of stadium seating yet, so I was fortunate that this session wasn't packed, so I didn't have to peer between heads to see the screen.

I really liked the film, and I knew only the basics of the storyline before I went in, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I felt, however, that the bit with the crazy, homeless woman at the end was fairly predictable.

It was directed by Tim Burton, and I think he's usually a good director, and it was one of the reasons I wanted to see this film, but Sweeney Todd isn't nearly as good as The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Number Post

For those who like numbers, the last post, 4567 was my 333rd post on this blog.

In other news, I have a USB cable so now my printer and computer can talk to each other. I tried to print something to test it and I didn't add enough paper to the paper tray, so when it couldn't find any more paper, a message popped up telling me to add paper and then press the OK button. Ok, logical enough. I added more paper, and then searched on the printer for the OK button, but to no avail. In the end I pressed ANNULER* (to cancel). This button is apparently the OK button as well, or perhaps just sometimes. Anyway, the printer works (l'imprimante marche).

* The printer was bought in France, so the labels are in French

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Visitor number 4567* recently viewed my blog. Who can take the credit for it?
4567 lives in Brisbane, accesses my blog via bigpond, uses windows xp and internet explorer 7.0, and the system language is set to Australian English. This particular visit lasted 3mins and 23seconds.
I'm pretty sure I know who this person is. So, congratulations, Angie, on being the 4567th visitor!

For some trivia:
4567 is Noosa's postcode.
4567 is an Arithmetic Progression.
4567 is the smallest** 4-digit prime number with four consecutive increasing numbers.

* Since I installed sitemeter
** As Mark can confirm, it's not the smallest prime number, as 27 is a prime number and smaller than 4567. Obviously.

Imprimante, scanner, copieur

I have inherited a printer/scanner/copier. Cris (a colleague from work) has left Paris and returned to London, and he decided that he didn't want to lug the device across the chunnel and so offered it to me. I need to buy a usb cable in order to make it and my computer talk to each other, but it's a standard cable and so I don't think it'll be too hard to find.

For those who want to do extra reading, it's an HP Photosmart C3180.

Thanks Cris!

Jak jest twoja głowa?

- Mamo, w szkole koledzy mówią że mam kwadratową głową

- Aleś nie synku, wcale nie masz kwadratowej głowy.
(with appropriate actions)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Google's right

I like google's answer to this query.

Táim Éireannach and coffee testing

Yes, that's right: táim Éireannach.

Tabhair póg dom, táim Éireannach!
(Kiss me, I'm Irish!)

Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all, to be sure to be sure.
Jaysus, Irish people don't actually say that last bit.

In other news, related to today, I took part in a coffee-tasting survey. It actually sounds better than it was. I was wandering around Le Quatre Temps in La Défense on my lunch break, looking for something appetising to eat (I'm a bit over the Brioche Dorée), when a woman with a clipboard approached me and started talking to me before I had a chance to escape. Anyway, she asked for just 5 minutes of my time because she was conducting a coffee-related questionaire, so I gave in and took part, because I had nothing better to do, and felt like speaking French. Initially she just asked me questions about my coffee-drinking habits, specifically related to drinking coffee from automatic coffee-dispensing machines (they're quite common in companies around Paris/France). I occasionally do take coffee from these machines, mostly when I need a quick caffeine boost as the stuff that comes out of them rarely tastes like coffee, and the tea that these machines produce is like the cup of "tea" made by the Nutrimatic in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*. After we finished the questions on the survey, she led me to a small room in a storage area of the shopping centre where I was asked to drink to espressos from different machines and to rate their taste, appearance, smell etc and then comment on which one I preferred. I got the impression that they wanted me to say that the second coffee was better because of the way it was presented, but it was irrelevant as it was by far the better tasting anyway (it actually resembled coffee in some ways).
I was asked to rate things like the quality of the froth on top, the smell, texture, acidity, taste, and something else that I didn't understand. I asked for an explanation and still didn't understand when one of the people running the thing poorly explained it to me, so I just selected the option that the unidentified aspect neither pleased nor displeased me.
It was an interesting process, so I didn't begrudge them wasting my time, even though the "5 minutes" turned out to take about 30 minutes.

The downside of taking part in this process was that I then didn't have time to get anything to eat for lunch, and went to my next lesson hungry and buzzing (after two fairly strong espressos).

*a concoction that tastes "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea".

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi Day

This is just a reminder to everyone that tomorrow (March 14th) is Pi Day. Enjoy the day, and think of π (pi).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I do real work most days

Tomorrow I have a 6-hour observation scheduled into my timetable. Nothing else planned for the day at all. This observation essentially involves me watching another teacher for 6 hours. And getting paid for it. The block is actually three 2-hour classes and I need to be there for each one, so I get paid for the full 6 hours. I'm going to be taking over his classes on Thursdays and the client is one who the school is worried about pissing off, so they figure if the students have both of us for their lessons this week, it won't be as much of a shock to their system when I turn up next week. I'm taking over this teacher's Thursday classes because he's ditching Paris and returning to England. He's a teacher I get on well with too, which is good for the observation, but a shame in the sense that he's heading back across the chunnel. There are a few other teachers at the school who I wouldn't mind seeing the back of. One in particular, who is a complete bitch. I'm not the only person who feels this way about her, but she, unfortunately, isn't showing any signs of packing up and heading off in the near future.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Et qui étais-je?

Est-ce que j'étais rien, les impots, dieu ou des dieux, ou quelques autres choses?

J'étais un chien.
(il y a des autres réponses, bien sûr, mais ca c'est l'original)

Can you follow the logic behind the answer?


My blog had its 4444th visitor recently, yesterday, at 1:28pm. I don't know who it was, except that it's someone in Paris. This person visited my site from the domain (which is Orange). At first glance, you could be mistaken for thinking that I was my own 4444th visitor, but the person in question has French as their default language, and uses microsoft internet explorer, so it's definitely not me. It could be someone French.

Remember this song?

This is a cool song, even if it is a bit old. It's from the 80's, which was a great decade for music. Fashion, not so much.

Il a neigé!

Oui, c'est vrai! A Paris!

I was out at Meudon-la-Forêt today, like most Wednesdays. At about 2pm, it begam to snow, and then continued, lightly. For about 10mins, it snowed quite heavily, which was cool to watch. It was a bit distracting during the lesson (mostly distracting for me), but je m'en fou.
I was told that it snowed in Paris as well, but only lightly, so I'm glad I was at Meudon because I got to see a lot more fall.
None of it survived long on the ground, and the snow that fell on Paris didn't have a chance. I didn't have my camera with me, so I wasn't able to take photos (I had my phone, but the photo quality isn't worth the effort).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2 Days in Paris/2 Jours à Paris

I'm just after watching a film called 2 Days in Paris, mostly in French. There are some sections (actually about half the film) where the dialogue is in English. It was subtitled, but only the English bits were subtitled (in French) as this version was made for a Francophone audience. The film was amusing, though I thought the main guy was a bit exaggerated. I think it was a film with simple vocabulary, because I managed to understand all of it (even the bits in English!).

Je viens de regarder un film qui s'appelle 2 Jours à Paris, plutot en français. Il y a quelques parties (à peu près la moitié du film) où c'est en anglais. Il est sous-titré, mais seulement les parties anglaise sont sous-titrées (en français) car cette version était créée pour les francophones. Le film est amusant, mais j'ai pensé que l'homme est un peu exagéré. Je pense que c'est un film avec une vocabulaire simple, parce que je suis arrivé à le comprendre (même les parties en anglais!).

Monday, March 03, 2008

Skiing update

Comme j'ai déjà dit, je suis allé à Grenoble et j'ai fait du ski. When I typed that post, I couldn't remember the name of the ski station where we went skiing, so for those of you who have been waiting with baited breath, we skied at a place called Le Collet d'Allevard, which is near Sept Laux (we drove through Sept Laux to get there).

Sunday, March 02, 2008