Monday, 29 August 2011

Ticking away to the big bang

My 2 month summer holiday is nearly over and on Thursday or Friday I will be going back to school, or rather schools. My directrice telephoned me this morning at 9.30am. She phoned the College at 9am and was lucky enough to have the phone answered.
She has found out that 10 of my admin assistant hours will be spent at her school until my contract ends 31 march 2011. My directrice told the lady about the letter that I had received from the college, inviting me to attend a meeting at the College on Thursday morning.
"Why did they send him that letter? This meeting doesn't concern him. But as he has received the letter, he had better attend."
So I am teed up to look a complete plonker on Thursday. My directrice asked which school I would be spending my other 10 hours in. However the Inspectors have not yet decided. Still 2 days is plenty of time, if they send out a letter first class today or tomorrow......
The weather has been good for the last few days, but rain clouds are on the horizon.
The town's annual fete starts on Friday evening with live music and of course the highlight of the year, the 17 minute firework display which is due to kick off at 20:30. and which is well worth coming to see.
I expect that all 4 of my  readers will be dropping in to visit me for the weekend.  Don't forget that the fig festival is on the first weekend in October in a town only 20 minutes away.
A bientot alors.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Night after night, who treats you right?

Of course you all remembered this song by David Gates so you will probably guess what is coming next.
Before moving to France I made a list of things that I wanted to be, do and have within a certain timeframe. One of the items on the list was to learn to play the guitar and have or be in a band.
Last year I bought a blu-ray copy of Jeff Beck performing live at Ronnie Scotts. I had of course heard his name over the years, but I didn't know any of his music. Amazon reviews gave the DVD 5 stars, some hinting that he blew Eric Clapton out of the water (I disagree). It is a very good DVD and most interesting too. I also bought Rainbow live in Munich 1977, Queen rock Montreal and live Aid and Roger Hodgson's take the long way home live in Montreal.
Subconsciouly I was exploring guitar playing.
Having just returned from Ottawa's Bluesfest I had been subjected to many different types of guitar and styles of guitar music. Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton, Steve Miller, the Flaming Lips etc etc
Everyone has to start  somewhere, so after some research I am now the owner of an electric Squier black and white fender style strat, practice amp, headphones, 2 picks, clip on tuner, bag, useless starter CD, an allen key, a spring and an enormous cardboard box.
I have bought the "learning guitar for dummies" DVD, Guitar all-in -one for dummies 8 books in one.
I have ordered a 2 year guitar course on cdrom, and I am investigating online course too, possibly  as a future avenue to follow. There is a guitar teacher who lives a few miles away, so that is also a possibility.
For now though, the fingers on my left hand are too sore to "play" for more than 5 minutes or so at a time. It looks easy. People play without looking at their fingers don't they? I am still struggling with my first 3 chords..........
So there you are. You are one of the first to know about my latest venture and perhaps that knowlege will keep me practicing. Meanwhile I am available for parties who require "Frere Jaques" or "Row,row,row your boat", both requiring only the E chord, Baby it's the guitar man!
Even better news is that there are all kinds of guitar gadgets on the market....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Out to lunch

Yesterday I went out to lunch with the head teacher, maternelle teacher and one of the school's EVS helpers. They all drove into town (market day so parking is scarce) but I walked in to meet them. Of course just before I set off it started raining. The French weather, like elsewhere in the world has been all over the place. The wettest July since records began and not much improvement in August, except that last weekend we had a canicule (heatwave) over most of France.
The temperaratures soared up to 40 degrees C, with only a small reduction during the night. I don't have air conditioning, except for the draught that prevail during the winter months. I did buy a fan on a stand 2 years ago, so after more than a year of being redundant, it was put into service for a few nights.
Back to the present, and the promised sunshine shyly peeks out from behind the mass of grey cloud after a night of heavy rain.
Back to lunch. We went to the town's Leo Legrange centre, where the choir usually have their practice days. I had chicken paella (very small portion with a rather dried out piece of chicken carcass on top) while the others had steak frites (steak and chips), so not very adventurous. In fact I find that the French are not very adventurous when it comes to food. For example they don't seem to like curries, mexican food, traditional chip shop fish and chips........  Normally steak frites is a small piece of very chewy meat with hard, stick thin chips. Of course this time the steak was big, the chips fresh and chunky and it came with salad.
During the meal the head teacher said that she doesn't think that I will be returning to her school, and that it is possible that I will be assigned to a pupil with some kind of disability in one of the schools. She said that she will do some phoning around on Monday to see if she can find out anything for me.
There is a meeting for all EVS on Thursday to which I have received an invitation to attend so I may have to wait until then to find out my fate.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The waiting game

Hello to anyone still out there. A lot of things have happened since my last blog and perhaps I will get round to adding some of them to this blog. However as a blog is supposed to be an up to the minute account of one's life as it happens, perhaps it would just confuse folks and / or just be tooo boring. For example I have been on holiday to Canada, spent a few days in New York, visited Niagara Falls, been to the 2 weeks of music that is Bluesfest in Ottawa.
There, you are all nodding off already.
I am still alive and kicking and back in France again. Some of you may recall that I was working as an AVS (assistant vie scolaire) as an admin assistant. The French government continues to make big cuts to the education system. As well as closing schools, shutting down classrooms and thus getting rid of teachers, cutting the number of EVS posts (people who asist one or more children with disabilities in the classroom) the number of AVS posts have also been cut.
I am lucky because they are honouring the last 9 months of my 2 month contract, but I will have to split my 20 hours between two schools, instead of spending all my time at one. For the first 2 months of this final stint of my 2 year contract, the schools have been closed for the summer holidays. I therefore start work again for the last 7 months, on the 1st of September. The only question is WHERE???? I will not necessarily work 10 of the hours at the primary school where I have worked up until now. I could be put anywhere within the area covered by my regional school board from some small village up in the mountains, to one of the towns.
I am lucky as I have my own car, but there must be many others out there who have to rely of the almost non existent public transport system and who will now possibly have to double the number of journeys that they have to make per week. Travel costs are not paid by the state or by the education department.
Hopefully I will get some instructions as to where to go before I start next Thursday.... so I sit and wait.