Harder to walk these days than run

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6/10

I had a place in the Lyon marathon.
I trained for the Lyon marathon.
I couldn’t run the Lyon marathon.

In France there is a requirement that if you want to run a long-distance event then you have to have a doctor’s note stating that you are fit. After the whole business with my spleen my doctor very fairly opted not to give me said note. Hence, no marathon for me.

After you’ve run a marathon it’s like you’re drawn to do another and another. It also means that when you aren’t able to run and see all these other people completing it it can be soul-destroying/frustrating/depressing/encouraing/the kick that you need to get back out there.
This was the mix of emotions that hit me when I opened the curtains at mum’s hotel and saw line after line of runners streaming past her window!
I know that the route itself doesn’t look spectacular, a little loopy and repetitive for my liking, but I had set my heart on it – I am coming back another year and I am running this marathon!

I’ve never been on the other side of the fence; I’ve never been a spectator at a running event, only ever ran them. I always got really frustrated at the spectators who attempted to cross the pack of runners to get to the other side of the road. As a spectator at a marathon which literally criss-crossed the whole city I can now see why they do it!
In order to get to the market mum and I had to dash across the route, hoping that we didn’t somehow impede one of the runners!
Thankfully all was fine and I was finally able to take mum to the market that I’ve been raving about for so long! I’m pretty sure it lived up to her expectations and I quite enjoyed wondering around telling her which stall holder sold the best bread or the best tasting strawberry tarts ๐Ÿ˜€

Massive pasta lunch (cos you know, it’s such a typical French dish…..) then coffee and chill at my favourite coffee shop rounded off a great weekend.

Saying bye wasn’t fun but hey, can’t get rid of me for that long! :p

(Oh and the picture is a bottle of juice mum expertly wrapped and brought over, thanks mum!)

Cause Saturday Night’s the night I like, Saturday Night’s Alright… Alright, Alright!

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One thing that I have learnt while I am here is that the French are very regimented when it comes to their food. In other words, you don’t snack between meals, you have meals at set times every day and every meal is balanced perfectly. There are no exceptions to this, deal with it.

This rule means that breafast doesn’t exist in France after 11am, if you have missed it then you wait til lunch, simple as that. It makes sense I guess…I didn’t quite see it like that after missing breakfast this morning though!
11.30am may seem early to have lunch but when it comes to goats cheese and honey on toast I am pretty happy to have it at any time!

Next was the site that every tourist visits in Lyon: Fourviere.
The Basilica sits a top the hill and provides one of the best views of the entire city. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been into the building itself but every time I am in awe of the intricacy and beauty of the interior. I am not somebody who is overly religious but I think it is hard not to simply appreciate the building itself!

Late, late, late and very chilled lunch: more Lyon classics, quenelles! We think we’ve found the best description of them, think Yorkshire pudding meets dumpling, all served in a lobster sauce, so so good! How a day should be: sun, rain, food, food, coffee, sites, chill, family – bliss ๐Ÿ˜€

There’s a whisper at the window, I don’t know what it is, Maybe it’s the sound of the wind in the azaleas

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My flat is on the ground floor and my bedroom has patio doors that looks out onto a little pond in the garden.
Sounds idyllic right?
I should probably mention that all I can really see is a hedge and that the pond is starved under a blanket of thick green ick…not so appealing now right?

Friday is usually my chill day; I have no classes so I spend the time in the flat, cleaning my room, catching up on work, having a lie in. When I rolled out of bed at the back of 10 there was absolutely nothing of note occurring in the garden when I opened my curtains – not really any great surprise there.
However as the morning progressed I sat and witnessed the opening of this beautiful flower that sat atop the green ick ๐Ÿ˜€
How anything lived in that I really have no clue!
It was amazing watching it happen, something that normally takes days and happens in such small, unnoticeable increments, occur right in front of you! I felt it was definitely necessary to take a picture of it even though I did risk dropping my phone in the slime. Believe me, if I had I would not have been sticking my hand in to find it!

While I am here I literally try to spend as much time as I can immersing myself in French. This can involve watching French tv, studying, reading vocab on the bus into university every morning, meeting French people for coffee, watching French films – really anything! Today I decided to treat myself and join the Community bandwagon (I’m a bit late I know but hey, better late than never!)
I really shouldn’t have started watching it as I am now more than slightly attached to it! Oops! It can be my treat from now on if I get a lot of work done :p

However, the most exciting thing of all today? MUM IS HERE! Yipee!

After meeting her at her rather plush hotel (!) we headed out to see the sites.
The weather gods must have known that 2 Scots had just met in Lyon as within 30 minutes the rain was battering down! The quirk about the rain here though is that it doesn’t necessarily mean cold! We weren’t going to let a little rain put us off so we grabbed a table under a parasol in Place des Terreaux and watched the world go by ๐Ÿ˜€

To finish off the night we stopped off in another lovely little Lyonnaise Bouchon. Finally I had the opportunity to share with mum the food that I had been raving about for so long, and it didn’t disappoint ๐Ÿ˜€ Lyonnaise salade, Patรฉ, pistachio sausage with lentils and chocolate mousse- so French, so Lyonnais, so good!

Baby, they don’t need to show, flowers and football tops, I know

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I miss going to the football. There are plenty of things that I miss while I am here but the football is nothing that I can’t find an equivalent of, there is no Celtic Park here, there aren’t the same people that I see at every match, there isn’t that excitement you get as you walk up to the ground.

The next best thing? – Olympique Lyonais

To be honest it hadn’t really crossed my mind to go and see Lyon play in the Europa League, I presumed that it would be expensive and difficult to get tickets so never really bothered to look into it any more.
Then as I walked into university today I was given a leaflet to go and buy tickets at an unbelievably low price….hmm, maybe this is doable.

So after my lecture (and after going to replace my travelcard which I managed to lose on the morning commutee, well done me :l ) I headed to FNAC, the French hybrid bookstore/DVD shop/ technology seller and ticket office to purchase my ticket for the match that evening against Vitoria – spontaneity to the extreme!

After a quick lunch with 3 French girls (who spoke incredibly incredibly ridiculously fast, there goes my chance of understanding ANY French today!) I headed out to Stade de Gerland.
I’d been down to the area where the stadium is before and was fairly confident I knew where I was going. The only catch was that I hadn’t been there on match-day when it was teeming with people!
This definitely made things a little more difficult.
I walked one way round the stadium, then the other. Nope, time to ask for directions! (thankfully the steward didn’t speak horrendously fast and I understood the directions).
Or at least I thought I did as I now seemed to be walking in the same direction as all the Portuguese fans….

I have to say that the whole stadium experience is very very different to that at home. The stadium itself looked significantly older to what I am used to, the “turnstiles” were temporary and just stuck on any entrance to the stadium and furthermore everybody had a full pat-down before heading up to your seats…slightly odd.
It was also quite clear that the stadium was formerly standing room/terrace only as now the stands are made up of concrete blocks with plastic buckets for seats: a new one for me.
The strangest thing for me – alcohol is allowed in the ground! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Celtic Park anymore.

As I took my seat it became pretty clear that my ticket, though in a fantastic spot in the stadium in the upper tier behind the goal, was also located in the overflow section for the away fans…. Time to use my best Portuguese!
Everything was going fine, the football was….fine, really nothing special.
And then Vittoria scored.
All Hell broke loose.

I’m used to sports grounds. I’m used to sports grounds with highly charged atmospheres.
This was the first time I genuinely wondered if it was worth it and whether I should just cut my losses and leave.

The Lyon fans and the Vitoria fans were clashing in a big way. Until the match I wasn’t aware France had so many varieties of police officers, all of which I am now pretty sure I’ve seen.
The police at a match I was cool with, it’s fairly reassuring to tell the truth. Armoured police in the ground? Yeah that’s a new one on me.

Once Lyon equalised and were pushing for a second the atmosphere in the ground became much less tense (thankfully) and it turned into a fairly nice experience.
The match was pivotal in OL’s European campaign this season however it finished 1-1 and to be honest nothing that I saw suggested that Lyon should be progressing in the competition sadly.

I’m hoping that something changes for them soon as I would love to give Stade de Gerland another go but maybe might not opt to go it alone next time, have to say there weren’t an awful lot of females on their own at the ground this evening….!

Ye cannae shove yer granny off a bus

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Me and public transport do not get on. Our relationship can be quite strained at times and when things go wrong then stay well clear, you don’t want to get caught in the cross fire.

Wednesdays mean early starts up at 6am and out at 7 to catch the bus. Out I plod at what I still believe to be the absolute middle of the night.
First thing to note, there is fog. What?! Is this for real?! I can barely see 10 yards of front of me. Ironically all that I could see was the main road at the end of my street….or more precisely I could see MY bus pull away on the main road at the end of my street! I mean really, is this really how my day is going to go?
In some ways I can accept missing the bus if it is my fault. If I am late then of course Mr bus driver man is well within his right to leave, it is his job of course and there are other people on a schedule too.
What does peeve me a little though is when the bus leaves early!
When in the history of the world has a bus ever been early?!
I was perfectly on time for that bus but no, I can’t get that bus as the bus driver has decided that right now is a great time just to go ahead and leave!

So I sit and wait at the bus stop, in the fog. I’m thinking that the next bus should get me to university in time but it’s definitely going to be tight.
Then the next bus pulls up.
It is packed.
I mean, sardines kind of packed.

Well done Mr bus driver, you made everybody miss the bus now we are all piled into this one :l
There is nothing for it though, I’m getting on this bus.
Elbows at the ready I poke and prod my way onto the bus. At home I would be mortified to act that way but believe me, British manners don’t count for much here.

And we’re on our way.

And….now we’re not.
The bus comes to an absolute standstill, followed by a crawl, then a standstill.
This is not a good day for Lyon’s “stellar” public transport system.

At the first possible stop near to a metro I squeeze off the bus – I’ll take my chances on the metro to get to uni. To the metro I go, touch my card to get in and low and behold someone pushes in in front of me and takes my journey (you can only pay once with your travel card). No bother, don’t mind me as I go and pay for ANOTHER journey :l
Hugely unimpressed I run down to the platform – ah another packed train, that’s just lovely. Taking a run at it I manage to get in the train and eventually get to uni……perfectly on time with 30seconds to spare.

Good thing to know it can be done but believe me, I will not be taking the later bus again any time soon!

Food Glorious Food

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The majority of my posts are about food, even the title of my blog is food related. I am trying my best not to turn it simply into a food of France blog but hey, it’s tough!
To show my obsession I present to you my picture of the day: it’s a sandwich.
The sandwich in question was my lunch and was the subject of many many Facebook messages this morning to Miss C Light.

It shows that year abroad is definitely not only a case of living the high life!

Due to a ridiculously times lecture that stretches right over lunch, from 11am-2pm, (you’d think the French of all people would know that this is not on!) I decided to make like a frugal student and use my market purchases to create a rather delicious sandwich.
I’m bigging this sandwich up a bit so I bet you are dying to know what is actually in it: foie gras maybe? Truffles? The tears of a unicorn?

Ehm…no.

It was a simple creation made with amazingly yummy ingredients – fresh market softly fluffy bread, spinach, red onions, tomatoes, crumbled goats cheese and thinly sliced pieces of cured sausage. It may not have been winning any Michelin stars but believe me, after 2 hours of comparative law all taught in French, this sandwich in the break was Heaven!

I promised Miss C Light that after so much sandwich chat I would eventually just post the picture of the sandwich. So there it is, in all its sandwich-y glory ๐Ÿ˜€

I took my love and I took it down I climbed a mountain and I turned around

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There are times when you just think, “I don’t know how and I don’t know how much but that is definitely happening.” Getting a ticket for Miss C Light to go to Fleetwood Mac was one such event.

It must be a typical situation of the 21st Century, getting up at the crack of dawn to be online for that all important opening of ticket sales. This was me back in March, absolutely determined to get her tickets. To cut a very long story short after much toing and froing and trawling through of ticket resale websites I finally managed to get her a ticket (note the singular, I would have had to sell my body in order to afford more than that!).

The thing is though, I am very very sceptical when it comes to ticket resale sites. Normally I wouldn’t even have considered buying off of one but needs must though it was always in the back of my mind that I was paying all this money for a non-existent ticket. This said, the moment when I received the photo to show that the ticket had arrived I breathed a very large sigh of relief!

Now just the fun part of coordinating mum and Miss C Light so that the ticket hand over can be completed…did I also mention that I am in France doing this while both of them are in Glasgow….? :p

I can’t stand the rain, against my window

Sunday
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Up and out to the market. It’s a Sunday what else would you expect?

Today was a little different though – why traipse to the bus stop, wait for the bus, take the bus, walk to the market when I could run there just as quickly?

So that’s what I did – packed my bag pack full of shopping bags, waterproofs and running paraphernalia and off I went down the hill to the market.
As I set off I realised that I wasn’t 100% sure where I was actually going….I mean I’d taken the route on the bus every day yet some of the roads were definitely not pedestrian friendly and I wasn’t sure if there was a quicker way :/

My run was a little meandering and I was absolutely drenched in the rain but hey, it was a nice start to the day ๐Ÿ™‚
I was told before I left that the French aren’t really interested in running, it’s simply not very French. I can assure you that there are plenty of runners here even though we were a little thin on the ground once I made it to the market!
One stall holder did compliment me on my lovely blue flowery waterproof jacket – the fact that I had no idea what she was talking about to begin with made it a little awkward but hey, we got there in the end!

The nice thing about the food at the market is that they are so fresh and so natural that you literally don’t need to do anything to them. At home I would have baulked at the idea of eating slabs of cheese and tomato for lunch but here they taste so good that it simply seems like a shame not to! ๐Ÿ™‚

Spread your wings and let’s fly away

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Geneva.

Having spent over a month and a half in Lyon Miss Laura and I decided that it was time to spread our wings a bit and head out of the city. In true student form we had one requirement re the location: the ticket had to be cheap!
Simple – Geneva it was. It is only 2 hours away by train and the tickets were cheap – what more could you ask for?

I’ve come to accept that things here are just different. Things that you expect to be straightforward aren’t and the things that you can’t even fathom being different from at home turn out to be just plain weird!
For example, the train pulls up and everybody is queuing to get on. It wasn’t the normal train-crush queue though this was a proper queue snaking down the platform. Once we were on-board we appreciated why: instead of the normal aisle down the middle of the carriage and the seats on either side the aisle stretched down one side of the train with personal compartments on the other. It was like the Hogwarts Express!

The journey itself was pleasant and the landscape around us was fairly reminiscent of Scotland which is always nice ๐Ÿ™‚

Stereotypes about Switzerland: The people are friendly
The country is clean
It is expensive
They make a lot of chocolate, watches and Swiss Army Knives

The stereotypes that we found to be true:The people are friendly
The country is clean
It is expensive
They make a lot of chocolate, watches and Swiss Army Knives

Geneva is a very cool place and a lot smaller than I expected. It’s hard to believe that most if not all of the world’s major organisations are based in such a tiny place! We took the bus tour of the city and covered everything and I mean practically the whole city in 1.5 hrs. It was a bit surreal being shown the UN, UNICEF, Red Cross, WHO, World Trade Organisation in the space of about 15 mins. I don’t really know what I expected, maybe lights, fireworks, diplomats but to be honest the buildings themselves were a bit nondescript!

Tour done, shopping done and now for lunch.
We wanted something Swiss/Alpine, something that we couldn’t get in Lyon. Having met a colleague of my mum’s (Hi Patrick!) we were taken to a restaurant which we were assured served some of the best fondue in the city.
Though the price was a little eye-watering (note the stereotype!) the fondue was incredible! I love cheese, love love love cheese but the smell of this even made me question whether it was worth trying. Thankfully I did as it was amazing ๐Ÿ˜€

Next stop – chocolate shop. After watching a man spend 150F on chocolate alone (yes it is expensive there but 150F was still unbelievable) I plumped for a rather more affordable bag of chocolate truffles. The truffles were shaped like walnuts, filled with chocolate and walnut mousse with a slice of walnut in the middle…I am in half a mind to go back now for more they were so incredible!

The main sights of Geneva: the fountain, the flower clock, the UN, the Red Cross.
All were very impressive yet I chose to take a picture of cheese…not what you expected was it? :p

Other things of note today
(1) Swiss money is most definitely the coolest money ever! It doesn’t look real; it’s so multi-coloured, the coins come in fractions of Francs i.e. 1/2 F coin rather than 50 centimes. I was actually give a 5F coin in change, that blew my mind!
(2) We went into the first McDonald’s in Switzerland! (It was to go to the toilet, don’t judge!)
(3) The train on the way back was normal and rubbish!

Well thank you for having me Switzerland, will definitely be back

Carry me home, carry me home

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27/09

I take a picture every day. That is kinda the point of this whole blog. Sometimes I forget and have to rack my brains to think what I did that day so that I can go and take a matching picture. This blog post is sort of the opposite of that – I took the picture, even started writing the blog but somehow failed to finish it and subsequently moved on with the next ones and completely forgot about it – poor blog post ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So this is the post that should belong after “I wanna be like you, I wanna walk like you, talk like you” for 26th September.

It’s a picture of me cooking my dinner. It’s not an overly exciting dinner – mushrooms cooked in cream, stewed red onions and pan-fried turkey breast. Pretty much everything was bought simply because they were cheap so can’t even take any credit for the ingredients!
This picture was actually only taken in reply to one I received of somebody else’s dinner, beans on toast with boursin cheese. That wouldn’t sound much to me if I was at home but here? Here that sounds like Haute Cuisine! Baked beans are like gold dust here and so cost just as much as gold itself.

It’s hard when you are here trying to get the balance right of “home food” and “foreign food.” I mean of course I would like to eat beans on toast, cheddar cheese on toast, steak pie, roast dinners, proper school lunch style puddings (I literally could go on for a while but will limit myself to those few!) but I know that they will still be there when I’m home. On the other hand it is quite fun to try the French version of foods you know or try other things that are quintessentially French/Lyonnais.

It works for other things too. I know I can get a hold of British Grazia/Vogue/Marie Claire/Glamour but why bother when the French ones are readily available here and allow me to improve my French at the same time?
I think in that sense it is better to just immerse yourself in it while you can, it’s not like you’re here forever (sadly!)

That said, beans on toast wouldn’t go amiss right now!