Hi friends,

Time for the quarterly update that I am in fact alive and kicking; the usual combo of life being busy with routine, and a few exciting things happening here and there. Without further ado, here’s the highlights reel for the last three months of my life:

April

April fell mostly under the ‘routine’ category, just keeping on keeping on, until the end of the month. The most exciting thing that happened was I went to Marseille for about 36 hours to help put together 800kg of IKEA kitchen. It was about as glamorous as it sounds (up six flights of stairs, with no toilet!). Nonetheless the company was wonderful, the work as rewarding as it was tough and I definitely earned some karma points with the universe. Still, that makes now two trips to Marseille where I’ve seen practically nothing of the city – the first in 2013 when torrential rain sent us home early, and this one where I didn’t see the outside of the apartment in daylight hours. The gang is getting back together to enjoy the fruits of our labour with a weekend in October, so stand by for ‘after’ photos!

Also at the end of April came the less exciting news that our apartment was going to be sold so we were cordially invited to make ourselves scarce by the end of July. While three months is a looong time to find something, and therefore not panic, it is also a looong time to have such a ‘death sentence’ hanging over your head, and not necessarily being able to do much about it. After literally months of fruitless searching (and being fairly discerning, it must be said), I have at last found a place – by word of mouth, naturally. Everything is in order and the keys are mine today – I just have the lovely task of packing my life into boxes once again standing in my way. The apartment is less central than where  I currently am, which was always going to be an inevitable tough pill to swallow, but in a very chic neighbourhood; the flat is a beautiful Haussmannian apartment and the flatmates are lovely (invited me for dinner with the owners to sign all the paperwork and plied us with wine and far too much food), so I’m really looking forward to moving. One week to go!

May

May started with a bang as I officially decided to commit to a 10km run six weeks out. Cue most of my non-working moments being dictated by how I could go for a run. Luckily, I had an abundance of running mates/coaches at my disposal, which helped make the whole process bearable. As I may have mentioned last blog, my goal was to be able to run 10km without stopping. Well, I accidentally hit that target a month early, so staring down the barrel of four more weeks of training sans purpose I set my sights on doing so in 60 minutes. Definitely doable, and I was making steady progress, but it was going to be a close call whether I made it in time! I actually hit my PB one week out, with a cool 59:19 while sussing out the route with Xavier, my d-day running partner. Thank god we had a similar level of fitness because it’s true what everyone says, running with someone really does make the whole thing more enjoyable (though ‘more enjoyable’ should still be taken as a relative term). I was very glad to have that good run under my belt because as expected, the run on the day was a challenge – too many people all running at once, hard to get going and find a rhythm, separation from the group (who sped off at an unsustainable pace for), spotify problems meaning no music, running into the 6km walkers at the point where it was starting to get mentally though…all in all, not a fun time, but I miraculously finished in 59:35! Definitely proud of my athletic efforts and also the fact that I raised €321 (approx NZD$535) for charity in the process. La Course des Héros was the perfect event to take part in – everyone was running for charity so there was a great atmosphere between runners and supporters throughout; lots of entertainment and a lovely picnic with everyone afterwards. Definitely more rewarding and motivating for me than a ‘running for the sake of running’ event. Which means that, as I foreshadowed in my last blog, my running adventure is indeed over and I am quite pleased about that! And for all the subsequent questions that I have already been fending off left right and centre: there’s no new training goal. I still mostly hate running. However I have discovered it can be an occasionally enjoyable activity especially with company, so I think the game plan from here is sporadic runs when an opportune moment arises…

Aside from the running, May mostly involved a smattering of social events throughout the month, as things started to turn to end of year/summer mode. Book club #5 happened and was the biggest success yet in terms of ‘all of us actually enjoying the book’: The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I also voted in my first elections in France, and had my first visitors in nearly a year. Mostly, I tried to enjoy the calm before the storm because I knew June was going to be crazy. Case in point:

  • June 9: I made my triumphant return to La Flèche (aka the wops of the north-west) to visit friends Raph and family and be a real life show and tell in English class, in what is now an annual tradition
  • June 12: Back from la Flèche, straight to work
  • June 13: final run, work, 3-hour dress rehearsal for choir concert
  • June 14: work, mum arrived, choir concert
  • June 15: work
  • June 16: running event
  • June 17: dad arrived, work
  • June 18: parents leave

Somehow I survived that week and as I have lived to tell the tale, here it is:

Choir

Choir is now all but over for the year, alas. We do have one more event, with a small group of us partaking in a triennial choir festival at the beginning of August – will write about that next post, no doubt. Aside from that though we had our end of year concert in June which was a great success. A few hiccups here and there from our perspective, but the venue was packed, and we had overwhelmingly positive feedback from the audience. Below are some photos of the concert thanks to Lucile Pescadère, and here for your listening/viewing pleasure are some bootleg videos (in impressively high quality) thanks to one of my invitees.

The final programme was:

  • Ned I Vester Soli Glader – Anders Hovden arr. Grete Pedersen
  • Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll – Sam Pottle
  • Nader My God By U – arr. Andrew van der Merwe
  • Les Djinns – Victor Hugo – Gabriel Fauré
  • Afraid/Homesick Blues – Thierry Machuel
  • J’entends le Moulin – arr. Donald Patriquin
  • The Seal Lullaby – Rudyard Kipling – Eric Whitacre
  • Adiemus – Karl Jenkins – arr. Nicholas Hare
  • A Thousand Years – David Hodges – Christina Perri – arr. Andy Beck
  • Count on Me – Philip Lawrence – Ari Levine – Bruno Mars – arr. Andy Beck
  • Indodana – arr. Michael Barrett, Ralf Schmitt
  • Everybody Says Don’t – Stephen Sondheim – arr. Mark Hayes
  • Let The River Run – Carly Simon – arr. Craig Hella Johnson

It was definitely a full-on year especially for those of us who were new and had to learn all of that from scratch with just one two-hour rehearsal a week, with a fair chunk of the year lost to school holidays and public holidays as well. There was a lot of work to do at home to keep up. But, that’s exactly what I was after. More work, but more reward. Not to mention how well things turned out socially – it’s crazy to think that I just found the group on google last summer, and while I had high hopes I never would have expected things to turn out this well! It already feels weird not to have practise every week, so luckily we have a fair number of social events to tide us over until September (et oui, ex-choir hangs are a thing, success!). On the offchance anyone reading this looking to join a choir in Lyon, you can find more information about Cassiopée here.

Family

As teased above, an unusual feature of the blog is…la famille! June was a bit of a bonanza, as my parents were in Lyon for a few days in the middle of the month (over the crazy choir/running weekend), and again two weeks later as we were all in Bristol, along with my cousin Hannah, for my brother’s end of studies production. It was a whirlwind trip, and I just about spent more time in transit than there (at least, it felt like it), but it was great to have a proper break. Extra convenient that it came during the first heatwave of the season (as I write this, we are few days away from the second one, with a cool 41 degrees forecast for Wednesday). I didn’t see James much as he was mostly busy with his show (Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, staged 90s grunge-style with fantastic choreography, music, sets and lighting) but it was nice to meet a few of his friends (perhaps future stars of stage and screen!), and spend time with Hannah, who I hadn’t seen since at least 2015.

July

After all that, July has been pretty relaxed, as basically all peripheral activities have dried up, leaving me with my main job and not a lot of other demands on my time. I even managed to go on a last minute trip to Paris for the Bastille Day weekend which was fantastic. All I did was hang out with two of my faves, Sarah and Raph, which was absolutely perfect. So good just to spend quality time with them both (and also force them more into becoming friends too). As an added bonus, I at last made it to a famous bal des pompiers on the 13th – one of the stranger French traditions in which fire stations throw rather rowdy parties. I discovered this was a thing only a few years ago, and it’s eluded me since – but the stars aligned, and after a lovely apéro with some of Raph’s friends off we headed to the Caserne de Blanche in the 9th arrondissement. Of course, in true French style we set out about an hour and a half later than planned, so by the time we got there the line was ridiculously long – it legitimately would have taken several hours to get in (and only if other people left to make space). So being an ingenious bunch, we forwent the queue in favour of partying in the street in front of the entrance. The station we were at had a huge outside courtyard, and a dj/singers/musicians on a balcony several storeys up, so we got the whole show plus the added bonus of easy bar and toilet access and more space to dance. The next day a civilised brunch was followed by an unfortunately disappointing exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo – it was just TOO WEIRD. From there I raced across the city and navigated various station closures to make it to my train on time, and it was back to reality. Always bittersweet to spend such a lovely weekend in Paris but somewhat in a bubble removed from ‘real life’.

Next

What’s next: Packing up my room and moving this week, hopefully permanently until *I* decide I want to move again. At the same time I’m desperately trying to organise my holidays that are fast approaching – the plan is Spain, but I’m not making much progress due to a myriad of moving parts. If anyone has any bright ideas, holla! Number one priority is avoid the heat. Number two do so with cool people, if possible, and number three, get in a good linguistic workout for lack of any other deciding factor. In any case, I have two and a half weeks off in August, then will be back for season five of this French adventure. See you then!

Catherine