lundi 10 septembre 2012

The Interview, stress, apprehension and more

Finding a job, I've been toying with the idea for sometime, now the children are bigger and  we only have two bathrooms to re-do and a small barn  conversion too, needing professional help, hence nothing started yet!
Anyhow, there I am, not as young any more and thinking if I want to get a job that I'd actually like, I better get looking now.   

Two weeks ago, I revised CV, and started looking on the internet, using key words like, "anglais langue maternelle" or "assistant (bilingue) anglais"  et cetera, and I was pleasantly surprised to see there were lots possible positions that appealed, knowing though, that I lack(ed) experience in an office environment after so long bringing up my our children, working and teaching English, running workshops with teachers, book clubs with friends, translation work for several people, my comfort zone..until now.
I've sent four CV's off and so far have, have been lucky, because out of the four companies I have applied to work for, one company is reviewing my application after being shortlisted by the recruitment firm, the second company called me on Friday and I have an interview Thursday in Paris and third, the last one I sent my resumé off to, they actually called me the same day to schedule a interview (been in a state of panic ever since).   
Now post interview, yes, Friday last, at two, I was sitting in a small office with a view of the river Seine (if I'd have dared to get up and look) trying not to come across as stressed as I actually felt, talking with a really nice and very young (compared to me) guy, who really made me feel quite myself.  He told me about the business (I'd already Googled it but still I listened...I really had done my work well though), the post, then asked me to talk about myself (on both a professional and personal level)...yikes...knew it was going to be my turn soon, and I really didn't want to speak too fast (I do that a lot) and certainly try not to make any mistake in French and the same time (tough considering the situation).  I had no idea how it went, not a inkling of an idea what he was  thinking at the time and the ordeal still wasn't over, Mr young and nice went to get me a coffee, nice thought,  and find the general manager,  ok I remained calm  for the first couple of minutes alone, but as the minutes ticked by, all I thought about was my impending failure (confidence zero).
Mr GM came, looking younger than the photos I'd found of him while googling, but I knew he was just a little younger that I, and I really liked him.  We conversed in English (he doesn't speak French yet) and all seemed to be going well, until I had a mental block and was able to answer a really simple question (been kicking myself since, so dumb). This happened towards the end of the interview and was told they'd had some excellent candidates and they would be making a decision next week, which is this week now, because it's Monday.

All weekend I've been over analysing what I could have done better, too numerous to count, I know.  Wondering would they call to tell me I hadn't got the job?  That would be just awful.  
I've managed to get though the day without thinking 100% of the time about it, crazy I know, me a grown woman, five children, getting into a state over this.
Today I have had my phone on me all the time, I have received six text messages and not one call, well, not tell five this afternoon. I'd left my mobile in my room and was doing homework with MK when the home phone rang, I got to the phone and saw it was "the" number and just couldn't bring myself to pick up the phone (immature to boot).  Then I went to find my phone, same number had tried to contact me there too....missed called and VOICE mail.   Have I listened to it?  Hell no, the children want to, but I'll wait till Alain gets home, it could be good news but something tells me to be apprehensive, so just another couple of hours to wait.  Update, for better or worse later.
Update:  listened and they want me to call them back! Good sign maybe...I'll call after nine, finger crossed.

dimanche 9 septembre 2012

Three restaurants in Brittany...First up Avel Vor

To celebrate Alain's thirty something birthday, we reserved to table at L'Avel Vor in Port Louis.
We had heard mixed reviews about this place, hence us not eating there before now (we've been going to Brittany ever year for twelve years now.
The website probably sold me on trying this place out, so hats off to whoever did the job on it, because you (me at least) feel virtually immersed in the restaurant.
The compliments stop here...well nearly, maybe just one for the dessert.

Upon entering the restaurant we were fairly warmly greeted and shown to our table, which was placed next to a window, which good (there are some badly positioned tables, with little or no intimacy, fairly gloomy and noisy to add), then we mulled over the menu, knowing really that we'd already decided before hand. We chose the menu Terre et Mer at 63 euros and then waited.  
More people arrived, the restaurant was almost to full capacity and there were only two floor staff, and the chef's wife who wasn't very efficient.   Before even ordering (we were ready though) some amuse bouches were served, I thought this odd, but ate up. I racking my brains trying to remember what we actually ate, but nothing springs to mind, so nothing exceptional, just ok.
Still no-one came to take our order, making us feel slightly uncomfortable, we finished by having to ask by form of gestures (this is a one star michelin restaurant, service should be important),    
Eventually, after our order was taken and wine chosen, the first course came quickly, which was Nage de lotte aux aromates et tomates, vinaigre de Xeres (Monfish with herbs, tomatoes and Xeres vinegar).  The fish was good (never had a bad experience when it comes to fish from this region of France), however the plate lacked something, maybe some more seasoning would have been good.
For our next service we had a filet of sole, stuffed with blue lobster  and a duxelle of mushrooms, it looked good, tasted ok, still missing that something special and the course was served a little too cold for my liking.
I knew when it came to the next course, pigeon with pan-fried foie gras and crispy potatoes, that I'd probably have issues with the pigeon, which turned out to be true, so I can't be objective about this one, because I just don't like pigeon, but Alain disliked it too and the way it was prepared.  
I did say earlier there weren't any more compliments to be given a part from the dessert and thanks to that, it saved our evening from being one huge gastronomic disappointment (that sounds harsh, but true).
We ate the most amazing, truly probably one of the best ever desserts served in a restaurant or anywhere else for that matter, that night, a delice  choco passion, sablé à la vanille de Madagascar (chocolate passion delice,  and a Madagascar vanilla sable.
It looked fantastic, tasted devine, just faultless, awesome chocolate, texture, taste, vanilla sable that just melted in my just for that I'd go back there, right now, but just for dessert.  And, I'd do almost anything for a sable right now with my cup of tea, but I'll have to do with a chocolate tartine.

samedi 8 septembre 2012

candy floss in Barcelona and in Brittany

Barcelona 2008

My children love candy floss, when I was small I did too, when the local fair came to town, it was always a special treat to go.  I didn't really like the fair ground rides, they either scared me or made me feel sick (or both), however I loved eating candy floss and probably feeling sick after too, gobbling it down with gusto.   
Sorting through our summer snaps, I came across some photos of Gaby and Alexis and their candy flosses, they made me think back to our trip to Barcelona, I remember taking some candy floss photo moments there, too.   Above, Gaby and Alexis, savouring the most enormous candy floss ever.
Brittany 2012

This year whilst in Brittany, another candy floss, much smaller, being eaten by much bigger children, still Gaby and Alexis though
Brittany 2012
Ever tried hiding behind a cloud of sugar?   This one wasn't big enough to hide Gaby's hair.

Barcelona 2008

Back to the mega  cumulus candy floss Alexis had...and finished I hasten to add.

Brittany 2012
Finally, this year, Alexis with his weeny candy floss, or maybe it's just normal and my little boy just isn't that little anymore.

Alps GR5 tracking using Garmin

 Just for posterity, here's daily tracking of our GR5 24 hour hike.  Day one.

 Day two, awesome day, looking back, but at the time, down right scary sometimes.

Day three, easiest day, back to Thonon, a part from the one who suffered due to
his little bobo's on his feet.

GR5 Just the beginning

During the summer, Alain and I had some time to ourselves, which is rare, in fact, coming to think about it, this was the first ever time that all the children were somewhere else, far from us, but happy, either with family or friends...initial plans concerning Charlotte nearly put the damper on things, leaving us with four choices:
  • leave her at home alone......hell no, sixteen, rebel at heart, the thought frightens me even now
  • Change Oliver's plans so the two of them could stay at home at home unthinkable, two, no way.  I still remember Oliver asking a couple of years back "mum, is it ok if I have a couple of friends hang out here tonight?"  Couple = twenty-five, most of whom stayed the night, camped out in our sitting room.  So one can understand I am still a tad worried about leaving the house to them, especially as we planned to go hiking for a week
  • Get Charlotte to come along with us, Miss C, quite a couch potato and I don't think we'd get her to walk anywhere apart from in a shopping mall
  • Last choice, the one we opted for, was to leave the two of them camping at Thonon Les Bains, our starting point, we all the food and money they needed, leaving Mr O, now eighteen to be responsible for a maximum of three nights, meaning we needed to walk fast.

   Starting from Thonon, we headed towards the beginning of the GR which we found at the entrance of the town's tourist forest.  It was a hot day, and we walked fast, trying to cover as much distance while it was easy as quickly as possible. En Route, we met some Canadians, who were just starting, the only difference being they had two months to walk it, whereas we had three days to do as much as possible.
 As I mentioned earlier, it started out hot, but later rather wet, we had to seek cover, at least till the rain subsided, which it did, thankfully.
The sky still looked threatening so we almost ran.  We pitched the tent up on the side of a country road just after Chevenoz in extreme circumstances, heaving rain, driving wind and in the dark, luckily we had headlamps.  We managed to eat and enjoy a barely warm backpackers meal and then spent about an hour holding down the roof down because of the storm.

This post is becoming long, so I'll cut to the chase, the next day we walked twelve hours (stops included). 
We climbed up and down six mountain passes, during that time the weather got worse and worse.  The clouds descended upon us when we were climbing La Dent d'Oche, we stumbled along, barely being able to see whilst walking on a loose stoney and somewhat treacherous path.  From then on in, we took wrong turnings, became stressed, tired and irritated, but had to go on.  The weather worsened, we got soaked to the skin more than once, Alain slipped on every descend, more than once, but eventually we made it to the refuge de Bise.   Outside some people were clearing up after a big village fete, we learnt later that they had roasted a 750 kilo cow on a spit.  
Our bad luck, got better, there was a restaurant there, just near the refuge, with a open fire burning, we sat and ate a most delicious and hot meal. I had Diot with a red wine and mushroom sauce and Alain had a amazing Tartiflette...being inside, eating great food, felt like heaven to us.
After we walked on, destination being La Chapelle d'Abondance.
We had one main ascension (La Bosse), but we made it, arrive in the village, took the first hotel we found and decided that we would go further. Tomorrow we'd double back and go back to the campsite.

The next day we cheated and took a bus to Chevenoz and walked from there.
Weather was hot again, we made great progress and stopped off for a well deserved coke in a quaint café post office in Reyvroz.  

 We arrived back at Thonon at five.  Oliver and Charlotte were to be found in the internet room, happy, all money spent in just less than two days, i.e 110 euros (they had 60 euros worth of food in the car for the duration).  
We shared a meal together and a local bottle of white wine and contemplated over our two day hike.
Facts being:

  • We covered roughly 76 kilometers
  • Climbed D+ 3000
  • Descend 2000
  • carried bags weighing 13 kilos and 8 kilos respectfully....far too hard with hindsight
  • Lost  one kilo
  • Alain ended up with three blisters and one sore bottom from falling so much

We dearly hope to go back next year, better prepared, new and lighter bags and this time for one whole week, child free.  We'd take up where we left off at La Chapelle d'Abondance and weather permitting get to Contamines, 126 kilometers away.