The evening of June 2nd and I arrive in Paris after a lovely view of the city from the plane as we circled above. My boyfriend was already for me at the arrival gate. Thank God, he was there. Normally, I would take the cheaper option and travel to the hotel by train from the airport – but this time, I had no intention of doing that. Not after the journey I'd had with the 40kg of baggage. Price of taxi : 50 Euros
The hotel was decent enough. It was almost in one of the famous Parisian 'banlieu'. Anyway, we spent a few days in Paris hanging around and walking around. It was hot weather. People were out and about. The Métro was packed and sweaty as always. Although, we weren't attacked on the Métro this time. Yeah, I don't know if I told you that last time we were travelling by tube in Paris some sort of spastic lashed out because he wanted to stand by the door, and we were sitting there. All was well in the end.
So I tried to get back into speaking French. I thought it would make sense as I knew I would be here for three months. It wasn't really happening. Understandable that German words were coming out instead of French ones as I'd been there for nine months and thanks to the German boyfriend I have. It was clear that my spoken German had overtaken my French. It upset me a little bit as I've been learning French for much longer and considered it my second language.
Saturday 4th June and it was time to travel down to the south to my new home. We sat there on the TGV and watched the weather go from bad to worse. Didn't expect that.
As we arrived in Carcassonne (my new home) I can't say I was too impressed. Not because I knew the town would be the worst place in the world and the weather would be awful, but because I knew it'd be too small. My boyfriend had the time of his life winding me up about it. That was all right though, I wind him up enough when I'm ready.
To be honest, I wanted to turn around and go home. I just thought : I'm going to be so bored here, no escape, small town life, not my thing !
Well, I thought I'd give it a go, and that's what I'm doing. I try to look on the bright side. One of the British girls I got to know in Hamburg is livin' it up in a German village barely on the map for her summer.
We stayed in an old castle in a village called Cavanac a few miles away. It was nice there but the best bit was the dinner on the Sunday night. I'm telling you, it was amazing! Plus, there were about 4 bottles of wine sitting there waiting to be consumed. I got through one.
I also got through a number of snails. I was a bit taken aback by the fact they came as an actual bowl of snails. I thought it was just going the meat of the snails on the plate, if you get what I mean.
The next day, I went to meet my work colleagues at the youth hostel. They seemed like nice enough people. The boss showed me around and showed me my room. He let me know that scorpions have been found around before, which freaked me out. In fact, I saw one yesterday but it must have been a member of the smallest species of scorpion on the planet so I didn't cry too much. I couldn't even really see its stinging tail. BUT, it was on my lock, so all I'll say is : Thank God for that automatic light.
The job's OK. On the first day, the guy in-charge basically said 'here's the bar, do what you want with it'. I stood around and thought 'I dunno where to start' so I started to fiddle with my BlackBerry.
Because the bar won't be opening officially until the peak summer season, I haven't actually been running a bar up to now; I've been playing dinnerman. Serving groups of school kids. Sometimes I've got to do the washing-up. It's hell. Especially when 100 plates come flying at you after dinner. Luckily, people have run along to help me a few times. Maybe they're being nice 'cause I'm new. I'm grateful anyway.
If you know me, you'll know that the weekend, and having fun at the weekend is quite important to me. Well, the weekend in this part of the world is bringing me to tears. Think about it, I've just come from Hamburg, a city with too many clubs to choose from. To say this is a 'shock to the system' is an understatement. I've found one bar, which is Irish. It's probably the best place in the town centre. The staff are cool and I've got talking with the doorman who's English, the owner who's Irish and her barmaid sister. They're nice and they tell me that life in Carcassonne will improve as soon as the annual festival here gets started.
The expatriates who I've met here seem to love it, although they understand why I'm finding it boring. But out of those I've met, none are in any hurry to return to Britain. Or South Africa in the case of one man I spoke to.
If you want nightlife here, it's a train ride away. Nearest cities are Toulouse and Montpellier. You have to start your night at 8pm though because that's when the last trains leave here.
Last weekend, I expected to find a train to take me away for the night at 10pm after having not read the timetable properly. The next train was due to leave at 7am. Soul destroying.
Next time, I plan to go to Montpellier for a night out. Toulouse was a bit of a let-down. Too spred out. No real clubbing district.
The internet and shopping is another pain in the behind. The only supermarkets are miles away. Where I live is like living in a theme park! So, if you fancy I drink and would like to pay 2,50 for it, go ahead.
The bigger problem is with the internet though. The hostel internet does not reach my room. Of course, I can step inside the hostel to use it, but I far too lazy for that. I'm only happy when I have working connection in my room. Cut a long story short, it's costing me a lot to run this internet 'key', as it's called in France. And when I run out of credit, guess what I've got to do ! Yes, walk to town and back.
I have to say the countryside around Carcassonne is very pretty. My new colleagues took me for a drive last week. We went to a very picturesque village – a tiny one. I don't even think it's on the map. Nice. I don't mind a bit of countryside. Just don't keep me there.
I think Carcassonne would be a bit better for me if I could drive.
My colleagues now know I'm gay, by the way. I told them after that drive when we ate lunch together. Phew, two of the other colleagues are too. Apparently, one of them predicted before I even left Germany. Well, what can I say.
They're cool about it though. However, the girl I work with in the kitchen has obviously never met a gay guy before. I thought it was sweet at first, but now it's a bit too ignorant for me. Watch this space, I fill you in with some of the things she's said if she continues to come out with idiotic stiff.
I've got an hour left at work – zzzzzzzzzz. The owner of the Irish bar's invited me to another bar tonight. Starting from 1am. We'll see how I feel in a hour.
So, that's been my first couple of weeks here in France. Hope it hasn't been too dispressing for you. I'm flying back to Britain for good on Thursday 8th September - there's some good news.
But, I'll be keeping you informed well before then.