30 October 2012

Mal du pays...

That's homesick to all you non-francophones, and I've got a massive bout of it. I've just had my wonderful boyfriend, Paul, come to stay in France for a week and I think that's what has triggered these feelings. We spent a night in beautiful Nice which, to me, is like a high-end cross between Blackpool and Miami with yacht races and Jamiroquai house music in the background. We stayed in Grand Hotel le Florence, which had fantastically helpful staff and amazingly comfortable beds, and believe it or not we found somewhere to watch the Newcastle v Sunderland derby! It was in a bar (Wayne's Bar) similar to Hooters but nowhere near as sleazy, sitting across from two Mackems (boo, hiss, boo). We explored Aix-en-Provence as if I was seeing it for the first time again and discovered weird nonsensical art such as this... :

Sorry that it's sideways - but it was an abstract... something, so I guess it doesn't really matter!

We got caught in a few apocalyptic rainstorms, rode the Subway across Marseille to visit le Bol and the All City graffiti shop, which is possibly the first shop in France I've walked into where the staff haven't looked at me like I'd just done a shat on the Eiffel Tower and burned the tricolore whilst playing La Marseillaise with my armpit. In fact, they were some of the nicest people I've come across since being here and they even complimented me on my French, which is always a confidence boost! They didn't even mind that Paul didn't speak very much French, which I've often found a turning point of conversations (in that they just... end), but that's another post for another day when I'm feeling more rant-y.

There's also nothing like a romantic stroll around a Vichy government work camp set up in 1939 for the deportation of Jews to round up a gorgeous couple's holiday. Camp des Milles was an interesting way to spend €7.50 (€9.50 if you ain't a student bum like me) and two and a half hours of your afternoon. Or it would have been two and a half hours had everything not been in French and had the other half not been bored out of his mind because of this.

Here's a brief photo dump of some of the things we did:

This salad was €14... FOURTEEN EUROS.

Anyway, I began writing this to tell you about how homesick I am and that it was Paul's visit which triggered it all (if you're reading this, Paul, this is all your fault - I'm joking of course). Ever since I left England I've had recurring dreams about my old home in Heaton no longer being my home, but being my Grandparents' house, my mother's house and nobody I know's house simultaneously (you know what I mean, you've had dreams) and I had a dream early this morning which left a lot of nostalgic, emotional residue, the kind which leaves you feeling a little bit detached from reality for the whole day because you just don't know what the fuck your brain was doing last night.

Enfin, what I'm trying to say is that I never expected to feel homesick, but everything that would cause it has come at once; post-Paul blues, the fact that a lot of people have returned to England/Ireland for Blackberry Week or have visitors from home and I've been left to my own devices and then seeing photographs of all my friends dressed up for Halloween parties. All of this along with the fact that the temperature here in Aix has dropped from twenty degrees to five in the space of two days, which doesn't sound as cold as Newcastle but when you've been used to twenty-three degree sunshine for the past month and a half it is a bit of a kick in the hypothalamus.

I'm usually at home in England when the weather starts to get like this and I think it's the autumnal colours, the smell of burning wood and the cold air biting at my cheeks that's making me miss home the most. It reminds me of a time when I was younger when Autumn in England was actually a phase in the year where the sun shone through the multi-coloured leaves like through a stained glass window and was not entirely indiscernible from Winter (or Summer, in fact) because of sheets and sheets of rain, like it is now. It's nice to be able to live it again without having to don a mac, some wellies, a brolly and an emergency life raft, but at the same time ça me donne envie de retourner en Angleterre.

Alas, I'm not one to wish my life away and I feel it is important to live in the present moment, so I'm going to make the most of it by taking lots of pictures, begin knitting again (I'm going to do my very first hat - how exciting!), and making a Jack-o'-lantern along with some pumpkin soup, as soon as I can get a hold of a pumpkin that's not abîmée. 

Somebody posted this song on my newsfeed as I was writing this post and, as it goes, it happens to perfectly describe how I feel about Autumn in France and missing home. I don't know how, but it just does.

Alt-J (∆) - Taro

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