Even by our somewhat unstable standards, this has been a year of change!
For a start, this is the first time in 7 months that I've been to Starbucks: something I would have considered unthinkable this time last year!
This time in 2013, I was living in Paris, with a job I liked, colleagues I loved, and a husband living and working in Monaco. And so, despite the job and the colleagues, I was fairly miserable. (Even though Paris has Starbucks and Monaco - until about a month ago - did not.)
At the end of January last year, Paul's job was made permenant, and we decided that commuting was too grim to carry on with indefinitely, so it was time for me to make plans to move down south properly. It took me a few weeks to wrap up some work projects, but by 1 June, I was unemployed and on the beach in the sunshine. I started a small web design business and picked up some freelance translation work over the summer, but by and large I carried on in glorious sunny unemployment for the next few months.
Then, in August, I was unexpectedly invited to a job interview. It was part of a long and almost-forgotten recruitment process that I started way back in the summer of 2010. I figured I'd screwed the interview up right and proper, so thought no more of it. Until they got in touch to offer me the job, subject to paperwork. That caveat took up more time than for any other job I've ever held (seriously, I had to find the dates and places I attended *primary school*...) but eventually (several months later, for real - the end of October) I managed to complete enough of the formalities to have my job offer confirmed. So, it was time to move again. (Monaco at this point waied until about the week after I left and then opened Starbucks - something long-term readers of this blog will remember me suggesting years ago. Well, whinging about, but that's basically suggesting. It's not very well-furnished though: no armchairs, no sofas, it's not feeling very Starbucks to me...)
And so, the end of the year finds me starting a new job, in a totally different field to that in which I've worked before, in a new town in a new country. One I was definitely not expecting to be living in. But Brussels is working out for us so far, the people in my new team are great, and the job seems to be going well. Our new flat is fabulous (noise issues aside...), overlooks a park, and is about 4 times the size of our Monaco shoebox.
For the first time in a while, I can see us possibly staying in one place for a while. (This, of course, depends on probation periods at new work and a couple of other issues to sort out. But the potential for a long-term future is definitely there in a way that I don't think we've had for quite a while. All this moving gets tiring - or I'm getting old - either way, I'd be glad of a rest for a bit, if it turns out to be possible!)
This also seems to be a good point to formally close this blog, at least until the next time I manage to run away to the sunshine! So, here's to a happy, healthy, stable 2014 for us all, and I hope the year ahead brings you nothing but good things!
Even by our somewhat unstable standards, this has been a year of change!
So. The last couple of months have been full of pretending to be a grown up, pretty much.
I'm now vaccinated with all the vaccines one could ever want - I have had jabs for tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, Hep B, measles, mumps and rubella. I am basically immune to everything in the world, now. (Except those things they don't have vaccines for. There are a surprising number of these. Clearly we need more medical researchers working on this stuff. Get cracking, people!)
I have had an apparently long overdue smear test - one of the benefits of moving around a lot is that invitations for regular medical checkups can't find you. It was as much fun as you'd expect.
I have had blood tests to a) check the vaccinations worked and b) see whether my internal organs are functioning properly and that my arteries aren't all clogged up and the like - somewhat to my surprise, all is well.
I have an appointment tomorrow to check out some teeny tiny lumps and bumps that shouldn't be there; this will, hopefully, turn out to be nothing - but I'm now working on the basis that it's better to check and be sure, while I'm being all medicalised and stuff.
And lastly, some slightly bigger news, which I've mentioned to some of you, but not all: I'm about to start a new job in a new town in a new country, so this blog will soon be shutting down (again...) - as will (at least temporarily) my jewellery and web-design work. My jewellery and web-design stuff will hopefully come back once I work out the tax situation and legal registration stuff I'll need to do in the new place, but given the somewhat location-specific nature of the blog, it probably needs to stay closed once I move.
I'll think about this some more and let you know what I decide - if you've got strong views, do let me know in the comments! And if you want me to let you know if/when I start a blog in the new place, let me know that, too, and I'll drop you a line once I'm a bit more settled.
I know I've mentioned this before, but if you're looking for an Irish pub in Nice, I highly recommend the Snug. They do probably the best Sunday roast lunch I've ever had - certainly the best I've found outside the UK - and on finding out we're moving on soon, they gave us glasses of fizz to say good luck. You have to love people who would do that!
The Snug is at 22 Rue Droite, in the centre of the Old Town in Nice - if you're passing, do drop in for a drink, at least!
Also, if you're a museum type person, just up the road from the Snug there's a really well restored 17th century mansion, the Palais Lascaris which is well worth a look if you're at all interested in tapestries and/or musical instruments. I've got some photos from when I visited that I'm hoping to put up sometime soon. (Really, genuinely intend to. When I can find time to sort through them...)
I know some of my readers don't live in places quite as blessed by good weather as down here, so as I was walking round Nice today, I thought I might take some photos for you.
These photos start in Nice Port, then we go to Place Garibaldi, then along the new park that's been created to replace the hideous monstrosity that was the old bus station, along the beach and back to the port. The last couple are of Villefranche, where we stopped for a drink by the beach on the way home. Enjoy!
Note: If any of you are reading this on a mobile device, this is a very image heavy post - it might be better to wait until you get home!
Promenade du Paillon (a huge improvement on the old bus station!)
Every time I see this little building, I think it should be refurbed and turned into a seafood restaurant:
On the way round the point towards the port:
Dog drinking from a water fountain. Took him a while to get the hang of it, but then he was set!
This is the boat I want to try and buy when I win the lottery. I adore it!
What have I been up to?
Well, I've been brave and had a haircut. (Those of you who know me will maybe begin to appreciate how traumatic I find haircuts. Adding in the complexity of a foreign language actually makes it easier, because it's expected that I won't know the relevant vocab. Not knowing the vocab in your native language does tend to make you look like a bit of an idiot...)
I've started remaking my jewellery website, and been learning more about responsive web design, as part of my new web design venture. (Did I ever tell you about that? It's here.)
I've continued dealing with the unemployment centre - a post on how the whole unemployment system works here is bubbling away in my brain, since it's (I gather) quite different to the UK one, and I couldn't find any information on the process when I started dealing with them.
I've made a thing: a green variscite and copper pendant
I've seen lots of sunrises.
I've been to the Monaco Yacht Show, and watched the Red Arrows flying over the port. (As an aside, unless you own a yacht I think you would not believe the peripheral industries that spring up around yachts. I was certainly surprised - I guess defining a niche market is good, but I'm not sure I'd ever have imaged that the number of customers looking for a handmade mattress to go in their yacht is big enough to support a whole business. How wrong I would have been... I also liked the handmade furniture - the inlays on the dining room tables, with sterling silver finishes, were particularly stunning.)
Prior to the yacht show, Monaco also hosts a series of events with classic boats, like this one:
I watched a couple of those sailing around, and realised I love them. Maybe I was a sailor in a past life, or something. I certainly couldn't be one in this life, climbing rigging is probably not for me!
I watched the moon over the sea for a while one night. The photos didn't come out well, but this is a nice picture of the moon.
I've watched several firework shows. Last night's was nice - over at Fontvieille, rather than the big port, but still lovely. (You can see quite a lot of the skyline from our flat.)