first day of my life

Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

responsable de l'auberge!

Je suis Jenny - je suis la nouvelle responsable de l'auberge de jeunesse Quimper! Haha, I just had a word with my boss and he is going off on holiday for two days and leaving me in charge!!! I'm under strict instructions though that if his boss, calling from Paris, calls, I have to say 'Jude s'est absenté et il revient plus tard' (Jude has gone out but he'll be back later). Under no circulstances am I to use the phrase 'Jude est absente', very similar as you can see, as that means he's buggered off and left me here all by myself to run the place whilst he soaks up the sun with his Spanish girlfriend (excuse my language). But hey, it'll be good fun, as long as I don't double book beds or anything stupid like that, or tell people on the phone that breakfast costs 30€35 instead of 3€35, like I did the other week (I really hate foreign numbers!!). The lady on the phone kept going on about how expensive that seemed, and I was just saying, 'Well, sorry, but that's the price, I can't change it'. Only after I'd put down the phone did I realise that 'grosse connerie' that I'd committed, but chuckled about it for the rest of the day. How about that then, a hostel where it costs 9€30 per night, but a staggering 30€35 for bread and coffee in the morning!!!! Oh la la.

The Pointe du Raz was really spectacular. In fact it's like the equivalent of a national park in France. It was an incredibly hot day though, which kind of took the edge off the enjoyment and appreciation of it all. I walked along the coastal path to the Baie des Trespassés (Bay of the dead), which despite's it's unfortunate name, is actually a really pretty beach. I only had three hours (because of the buses) and it took an hour to get to the bay (plus a little extra for getting lost) and then an hour to get back, so I was totally shattered by the time that I got back to the bus. Dead good excerise though. I reckon I've burnt off a few of those calories I've put on since eating crêpes non stop for four weeks (slight exaggeration, but still).

I spent this afternoon doing uninteresting things, such as sending a box full of books I've bought here back to England! I had to deal with an especially miserable woman though at the counter. But hey, it's all French practice. Went to Carrefour (supermarket) for food for the next four days... As you can see, nothing exciting to report. Only four days!!! Incredible!!! This time next week I'll be back replying to emails from all the Chinese students!!! Bisous.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

hockey and Russian dolls

It's been a quiet few days, and nothing much to report in the way of adventures, such as people throwing stones at my window or travelling first class... So this entry will be a bit boring I think.

On Thursday I was particularly lazy, and didn't do anything all afternoon (it's hard being a tourist for weeks on end!) except read (almost finished Anna Karenina! Woo!) and nap. So I decided to go and watch 'Les Poupées Russes' in the evening, which is showing here at the cinema. It's the sequel to 'L'Auberge Espagnole', which I haven't seen, but I managed to follow all the same. It's great to be able to watch a film in French and understand... If I'd watched it three weeks ago I doubt I could have understood everything, so it just goes to show that my time in France has been worthwhile. I hope so at least. It's only really strange accents now and unusual words that are annoying. It's funny to spend days and not utter a word of English at all. Last night though when I was eating dinner with Yvette I asked her if she minded if we spoke in English (just for a rest), and so we chatted last night in English, although I felt a bit guilty after that. So today, and until the end, no English. Only for emailing and blogs! Haha.

The French hockey team arrived on Friday night for their match last night with Quimper. In fact they'd come for the opening of the new stadium, just up the road from here. Jude was getting really excited about the whole thing, and reckons that because the hockey team had a nice stay at the hostel, all the teams that come to Quimper are going to stay here... All he kept saying yesterday was 'C'est une boule de neige!! C'est une boule de neige!! Tu comprends ce que ça veut dire, Jenny?? Une boule de neige!!!'. Yes, I understand, but can't say that I was as thrilled about the boule de neige effect as he was. Bless. But dear me, the guys stank!!! I really mean it. I walked into the hostel in the afternoon, and the place stank of sweaty shoes. They were sweet guys though, and they all signed the visitors book :)

On Friday morning (this might be the only kind of exciting thing) I went downstairs to prepare the breakfast and someone had stolen the cafetière and the kettle!!! God knows why; if somebody wanted to steal something, you'd have thought that they would have taken the microwave at least, worth a bit more than the cheapo kettle and coffee maker.

Oooh, yesterday I ate the most wonderful crêpe in the world!!! Une crêpe au rhubarbe!!!! Koji, I promise I will make you something when I get back so that you can try rhubarb... They sell rhubarb jam here too. Might have to get some of that!

Tomorrow I'm not working, so am going to take to bus to 'Pointe du Raz'. Andy, have you been there? Apparently the cliffs are amazing. It's only 2€ single to take the bus to anywhere in the region. Bargain!!

There's more to write, but my time's running out. A la prochaine! xxx

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

un voyage zarrebi

Well, I have to try and make this short as I'm not in the regular bar where I've been checking my emails for free...

Well, got back last night from my two-day trip. Had a good time, overall. Will definitely not forget it though.

I spent the afternoon in Rennes, the capital of Brittany. I was pleasantly surprised by the place actually. Was just expecting it to be a big, noisy industrial city. There's the old part of the town, where I spent my time wandering around, buying books (again) and drinking tea in a pavement cafes. Also had a look round in FNAC (kind of like Borders, Dixons, and HMV all in one).

At 5 I took the train to Pontorson, where I would be spending the night in the hostel there so that I could visit Mont St. Michel the next day. This is where the fun began!!

I got to the hostel and met the guy 'in charge', Antoinie, and another girl who was helping out there. I settled in my room and then went out to the supermarket to get something to make for dinner. Got back and was chatting with Antoinie, who seemed like a nice guy, if not a little 'lost' in life, but seemed friendly enough. I was reading in my room (on the 3rd floor - in the roof!) and Antoinie came up to say hello and have a chat. We ended up chatting for about an hour, about his job, his past jobs, his family etc. It got to about 10pm so he went back to his room where he stays in the hostel when he's on duty.

Anyhow, I'd gone to bed and not long after there was a knock on the door. I tried to ignore it, but whoever it was wouldn't stop, so I opened and it turned out to be the elderly lady frop the room next door (only me and her staying at the hostel). She was really shaken up and was trembling, and apparently a stone had come through her window and hit her whilst she was sleeping... She'd looked out of the window and seen a man looking up at the window, so was obviously freaked out. I comforted her, and we locked my door. However, we then heard footsteps outside the door and got really scared. He went away, but Loulou (the lady) was still shaking, and decided to call the police!! I had a look out of the window again, and could see the guy... I could then make out that it was Antoinie!!! Then I started to put two and two together, and I realised that what had happened is that he'd meant to throw stones at MY window, to get my attention!!! But totally messed up and got the wrong window!! Idiot!!

So the police arrived and they all came upstairs, including Antoinie, totally denying everything. Saying that he'd been down there outside smoking and had not seen anyone. So I knew by then that it was definitley him. The police then figured out that it must have been him, and took him off to the police station to be reprimanded!!! I felt kind of bad for him, because if he had got my window as planned, I would have ignored it and locked my door, and then maybe have said something to him the next morning. Unfortunately for him though, he messed up the whole thing. I also felt kind of bad for him too though because he was saying that before he had this job, he just used to sell souvenirs on Mont St. Michel, so this was kind of a good chance for him. But still, he was supposed to be in charge of the youth hostel, and you can't treat your clients like that. Then I thought maybe it was my fault, and that I encouraged him or something, but I don't think so... We just chatted as friends would!!!

I went to sleep in Loulou's room and just as we were about to sleep there was a knock on the door.. the police were back, this time with the town mayor, who'd come to excuse A's behaviour!!! They also cofirmed that the stone was meant for me, and that they were glad to have had to chance to speak to him, because if it hadn't have been me, it would have been another girl. So I met the mayor at 1am!!!

So, what a night!

A didn't say anything the next day. I just left without saying anything.

Anyway, Mont St. Michel was amazing!!! I wandered around, went into the abbey, and than fell asleep on the grass for the rest of the afternoon!! Then had to take the bus back to Pontorson, to get the train back to Rennes, for the train back to Quimper. The train from Pontorson came an hour late, so consequently missed my connection in Rennes. The guy changed my ticket for me for the later train, but for some reason put me in first class instead of second!! Cool!! The first time I've travelled in first class!!

What an adventure!! Back to work tomorrow, until next Thursday, and then home on the 2nd.


Sunday, June 19, 2005

il ne me reste que deux semaines

It's been a funny week ~ I'll try and remember everything that has been happening.

Well, I spent a quiet couple of days on Thursday and Friday, and the weather wasn't so good so couldn't sunbathe as usual in the garden during the afternoon. Relations with Jude have been a bit up and down... I've realised now how hard it is to work with just one other person all the time, and I don't think I'd like to do that when (and if) I get a real job! Anyhow, he annoyed me on Friday night because we locked up as usual, he went home, and I started to make dinner. There was a knock on the door at just before 9pm, so I went to answer and there were two girls looking for a place to stay. Technically the door/office was shut, so we're not supposed to let people come and stay after closing, but since I've travelled a lot myself and understand how stressful it can be to find somewhere to stay, I gave Jude a ring and asked him what I should do... He said that I should just show them to the room and tell them to pay in the morning when the office opened. Anyhow, after that there was another knock at the door (remember that I'm not supposed to be working after 8!!) - two Finnish girls were at the door, claiming that thay had made a reservation and that Jude had said that it would be ok for them to arrive late. So, I did the same thing, and showed them to the room... But Jude hadn't said anything about a late arrival!!!! And plus, it's not for me to be on duty 24 hours a day answering the door and dealing with guests!!! I don't mind, it's only temporary, but I was just feeling a bit used and thought, well if I'd gone out that evening, what would the girls have done? I told Jude the next day and he didn't apologise or say thanks you, so he wasn't my favourite person.

But, last night, we worked really well together, and he even told me I'd done a good job :-) I even made him laugh I think (an achievement since he never really even smiles much). He's a decent guy deep down, just a bit of a know-all (Mr. Je-sais-tout), but good at his job. However, I had to call him at midnight last night because just as I was falling asleep, I suddenly remembered that neither of us had called the boulangerie to order the baguettes for today's breakfast (the bread's delivered to the hostel every day)... I was kind of panicking, but he was ok about it and told me that I'd have to go out this morning and buy bread... So got up super early and went on a hunt for baguettes... Managed to find somewhere not too far away, and get back in time to do breakfast. Nobody knew anything about it. ^_^

Thierry was in trouble yesterday because he didsappeared for two days without paying his bill (although we knew he'd come back because he'd left all his stuff here). Jude gave him a big telling off and even called Thierry's mum to tell her what had happened!! Poor guy though, while he was away on his adeventre, someone stole his moped..

We have another guy staying called Joseph, who stays every year for maybe a month. I have been told that music is his life, and that he travels around India with his guitar and flute making music. Apparently he plays in the garden every evening at the hostel, and he has also offered to teach me guitar tonight!! Yay!! He does yoga a lot too (he was in the garden until at least 11 last night and all this morning). It's great the people you meet in hostels!

There is however someone very odd staying at the hostel, called Didier (says it all really). He only eats a loaf of bread every night for dinner, and I mean a huge loaf, which he dips in salad dressing. He even comes from a town not far away, so don't quite understand what he's doing at a youth hostel.

Oooh, I've been learning 'verlan':
These are some of my my favourites: bizarre = zarrebi
fou = ouf (someone called Jude Mr. Ouf - spot on!!)
tefe = fête
louche = chelou

Tomorrow I'm going on my second voyage... Taking the train the Rennes, spending the afternoon there, then heading to Pontorson to stay in the hostel, so that I can go and see Mont St. Michel on Tuesday!!! Woo!!! I finally get to see the second most famous sight in France!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Le fabuleux destin des steaks hachés disparus...

Ha, I got back from my trip last night and I went to prepare the steak hachés for tea that I had bought to replace the other ones that went missing, and these ones had gone as well!!! Why do my steak hachés keep getting stolen!! Well, I've learnt my lesson... I went grocery shopping today and bought no steak hachés, or anything frozen for that matter. I reckon it's Françoise, but I would feel so mean mentioning it to her, especially since she offered to drive me to the supermarket. I'd even written my name on the packet too. Hmm.

I just got back from town, having bought the next Lemony Snicket book (in French, bien sûr). I'm really addicted to those books... I guess I should be reading more intellectual stuff, like Satre or someone, but I'm always curious to know what's going to happen next to the Orphelins Baudelaire...

Well the mini-break was good, although I've definitely decided that travelling alone is no fun at all. It's much better to have someone with you to appreciate it with. Anyhow, I took the train from here to Auray, from where I took the bus to Quiberon, to take the ferry to Belle Ile (I just rememered that there was an article on Belle Ile in the Saturday Guardian a month or so ago). And, well, la Belle Ile, c'est vraiment beau! I spent the afternoon walking around the remparts of the old town, and getting lost, and then eating ice-cream, as usual. I then went to La Citadelle (photos to follow when I get back to my own computer), and then went to "check-in" at the auberge (which I can stay at for free - part of the deal of me being here). I was so tired from walking around all afternoon that I almost fell asleep at 7, but I managed not to, and forced myself to go and find a crêperie. Although, it never takes much persuasion to go and eat a crêpe ;-) I then fell asleep at 9.30 and slept for 10 hours!!!

Yesterday (birthday!) I ate breakfast (pépita and a brioche au sucre) by the port, waiting for the ferry. Took the ferry back to Quiberon, and then got the bus to Carnac to see the alignments. Very impressive. Bit of a much of a muchness after a while though, and you begin to see it all as just a lot of rocks, but it's cool nonetheless. I took "le petit train de Carnac" for a tour around the place, but it was pretty useless (the commentary just said things like "Look at these amazing rocks" and "aren't they wonderful!"). A bit of history would have been good. But the little train was well worth the 6 euros.

The kid behind me playing pool is talking to himself!

Got back to the hostel last night and the first thing that Jude said to me was "Il y a plus de courrier pour toi que pour l'auberge"! So thanks for the cards, guys. And thank you Fran for the huuuge box that I don't know how I'm going to get back home!!

Got to go now and work out how to sell my REM tix on eBay.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

va, vis et deviens

I've just walked into this bar to use the computer and everyone is playing cards! Everyone! How bizarre! Must be a Sunday afternoon thing. So now I'm trying to update my blog and I keep getting poked in the back by the two kids behind me playing pool. I'm just waiting for my tea to go over... Well, the weather is still gorgeous here. I'm making the most of it and have been sunbathing in the back garden of the youth hostel (actually a campsite but there's nobody camping at the moment). I've burnt the top of my head though and now it's really itchy so I have to go around wearing my sun hat.

Well, I'm trying to think what I've been doing since Thursday... After I finshed up here I went back to make dinner only to discover that my "steak hachés" had disappeared! (I think it was the cleaner - Françoise (who, by the way, is really sweet) - who threw them away, but I didn't like to accuse her... So, Thierry, a guy staying at the hostel offered to share his dinner with me! Very sweet of him too... He's actually here to do exams because he's doing an apprenticeship to be a chef, although I wasn't lucky enough to have him cook me a proper meal, just chilli out of a tin and rice. So I gave him some of my quiche yesterday (I found the most amazing bakery). Thierry is really funny - he has a bit of an odd accent (he's from Lille) and I don't understand half of the time, so I just nod my head... (Wanyu, before you say ANYTHING, he's 19 years old and a bit of a geek, but sweet all the same...) There's another girl, well, woman, staying at the hostel, although I can't remember her name because it's Senegalese. She has lived in Paris all her life, but suddenly decided to leave in search of a new life in Brittany. So she's out every day looking for a job, although she says there aren't many jobs around here, unless you want to be a fisherman. (But she doesn't want to be a fisherman, surprisingly.)

Yesterday afternoon I went to see a film called Va, Vis et Deviens(which, for the non French-speaking amongst you, means "Go, Live and Become", although I think the translated title in English is just "Live and Become"). It was a really moving film (I cried about 15 minutes into the film!), but I didn't get to see the ending because it was really long and still hadn't finished by the time I had to get back to work... (Anyway, it's about an Ethiopian boy whose mother forces him to go to Israel and fake his identity as a Jew.)

This morning I was in charge all by myself! I had to get up early to set up breakfast (for just one person, but it still had to be done...) Anyhow, I waited, and waited, and the guy never showed up for his breakfast!! So I had to go upstairs and knock on everyone's doors really loudly to wake them up (the hostel has to be emptied by 10.30 anyway) but I felt really mean doing that! I felt like their mum!! No work this evening... until Thursday!! Going on my "mini-break" tomorrow (sorry, that's so Bridget Jones-ish) - really looking forward to that.

Wanchen/ Demi, I need your address to send a postcard.

This is so long, again...

Gros bisous à tous, et à la prochaine. xx

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Quimper, le 9 juin

Thanks for the comments guys! It's really funny - when I opened the comments it said "garrett a dit..." and "wanyu a dit..." I think I prefer my blog to be in French! Well, I've been here 4 days now... I've had a couple of days off, so spent yesterday with Yvette (who will be staying in the hostel for a while because she's working in a hotel in Quimper over the summer, but went away travlling for a week yesterday) and Fabien. Yvette is actually a French Canadian, so it's really interesting to speak French with her as she has quite an unusual accent! She's been teaching me some French Canadian words too, so I'm going to end up with a weird mix of accents and vocab! We all spoke in French yesterday the whole day, even though Yvette is bilingual in French and English, and Fabien (from Switzerland) is fluent in English too. Today though I had a day off and I spent it on my own, and because I hadn't really spoken all day (and I was thinking in English), when I did speak French it was all Englishy and rubbish. Oh well, work tomorrow, so will switch back into French mode! (Ew, i'm drinking tea and it tastes like washing-up liquid...) Anyway, I spent the day at a place called Concarneau (I think the spelling's right!), which was amazing... The old part of the town is based on a tiny, walled island near the port, which you have to access by bridge. There's a really great ice-cream stand near the entrance (I had profiterolles flavour! yum!) Next week I'm planning on going to Belle Ile, which apparently is a beautiful island, ha ha, and also Carnac, which is basically the French Stonehenge. I think I'll be on Belle Ile for my birthday, which will be nice. Although I heard the weather is going to turn next week and rain... There are no people at all staying at the hostel tonight, but I guess I should appreciate the peace and quiet before the hockey team arrives (they've requested dinner too, so me and the guy who runs the hostel will have to make the dinner.... Wanyu, should I give them some frozen cheesecake!?) There's a Japanese lady coming to stay on the 11th, so might be able to get a bit of Japanese practice in there. Anyway, off back to the hostel now to get something to eat. Will write more soon. Gros bisous, Jenny

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Quimper, le 7 juin

Bonjour mes amis! ça va? Vous me manquent:( Haha, the blogger is all in French! Cool! Well, this is just to say that I am surviving... I had a rough first two days, I think, but today I feel better and am maybe even starting to enjoy it. By the way, I have to make this entry short because French keyboards are crazy and I can't type anymore. The z,q,a,w and m are all the the wrong places! I should get a special discount rate in this internet cafe just for that!! For slow typers. Anyway, Quimper is really, really beautiful! Full of English tourists too though... I will upload all my pics to the blog when I get back. The hostel is a dump though, and there's only me and the boss to run to place!! Maybe if I'd known that I might not have come here! He's even going to leave me in charge - alone! - some days!! I don't mind, as long as he doesn't mind me mixing up the bookings and making a mess of things. On the postive side though, I'm using French all the time and I've met some interesting people. Last night I was talking to a guy (well, pensioner actually) who is cycling around the whole of France. He's cool, but talks a lot. And I mean a lot! Originally he is from Glasgow, but has been living in Australia for 40 years. You can imagine what kind of accent he has (or not). There are a couple of others staying at the hostel (my age) who are really nice, and hopefully I'm going to spend one of my days off with them visiting some island near here. Fabien and Yvette. We have some interesting guests too - at the end of the month, we have the French national hockey team staying! The best team in France! This keyboard is driving me mad... I mean it when I say that I want people to visit! It's absolutely beautiful! I have to go now... I'll try and add more soon. J xxx

Saturday, June 04, 2005

je m'en vais...

This time tomorrow I'll be in my little youth hostel in Quimper! Before talking about that though I just want to say thank you to all of you guys who helped Carmen and I celebrate our birthdays yesterday (you know who you are!). It was really, really special and it was a perfect way for me to spend my second to last evening in York (for a while). And thank you for not making me go to the Evil Eye. (Sorry, I really dislike that place.) If it had a nice name (or even if they'd just kept it as Forever Changes, then maybe I could be persuaded to go...) But Lendal Cellars was cool, and it was the first time I'd been down into the bottom bit. Actually, it made me realise how much I'm going to miss you people whilst I'm away... and I'll miss you even more in September! This is good practice though; it's a trial run for September... So sad!! Why do you all have to go back to far away places?! Stay here! Don't go!! But anyway, I had a lovely time and I love the presents. Wanyu, I will wear my Rufus tee all the time, and Koji, I put Eva in my iPod so that I can listen to her whilst I'm travelling around. Yoshi, Mr. Children is in my iPod too, so I won't forget Japanese now. And I can try and memorise the guitar chords. Hmm. Wanchen, I hope the necklace will work! I really hope so! One day it will! Kunio, I like the cat a lot, and the kanji on the back (one of the few kanji I can actually read!) Andy, thank you for the card; very appropriate. You'll have to tell me if Rachel (the girl who'll be doing my job) plays Solitaire/emails all day too, just like me! Kei, the flower is so pretty! Toyo (from Matsue), yes, we will play the guitar together some day, after I get around to actually learning... And Carmen, I will get something special, don't worry! I'm glad we could celebrate our bdays together. Finally Demi. You're so funny! I'm glad you could come in the end... I'm sorry if we stopped you from doing your work! Oh, Tara too for the paper. Thank you, thank you!!

I've just got back from the city screen cafe... we were pretending it was warm and managed to sit outside for a bit. I was feeling a bit anxious about going to France. This is really unusual of me; why am I worried about going to France for a few weeks, when I went to live in Paris, and Japan, for much longer! I don't know why. But Annemarie was really sweet and made me feel better by saying things like "It won't be that bad because you won't have to eat raw fish" and "at least you won't have to clean classrooms". Bless. It made me feel better. But I guess they eat weird things in France too, like horse (according to Richard anyway). Well, I made to decision to go, so I have to stick by it. It can't be worse than sitting in front of a computer all day having to read emails addressed to Mr. Jenny Atkinson (some overseas students really need to figure out the difference between English male and female names!) It is difficult I guess. I shouldn't mock (Japanese names are the worst)!

Anyway, that's about it for now. I will try to update my blog regularly. I don't know about uploading pictures, but I can always google some instead. Fre, I will speak to you on Friday! A bientot, people,


Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Woo! I successfully managed to add links to my site! Thanks Koji for your help! I will add more to the links later, so watch this space!