France can be one of the most frustrating places to live sometimes; there is a VERY relaxed perspective on life and getting things done on time is a challenge. People don’t turn up on time or even at all to complete jobs that are in need of doing and then when they arrive, they can’t fix it and we may not understand what needs to be done leaving a complete mess!
Frustrating could be the best way to describe the French in general I think - but coming from an Englishman who they probably think is a typical “ros beef” I probably can’t comment too much! For example, French rugby teams can be fantastic and play some of the best rugby in Europe one day and then the next you won’t have seen such a low standard. Enough to drive coaches insane but most of them are French and soon forget over a nice glass of red anyway. Off the field, the “laissez faire” attitude is something I am becoming used to but, yep, you guessed it, SO frustrating. You just want to grab some of the people and give them a good shake but I am coming to understand this is part of the whole experience of being out here and writing these articles helps me reflect on life here in the proper way. This could be something, and most likely IS something, which we, as British, could learn from; if we relax a bit more and spend more time doing things we want to do, life will be more enjoyable. However, I don’t think life in the UK gives you the chance to do this. Not enough of us take time over things in the UK and as much as it sometimes drives you up the wall here, it is something I am going to remember from this experience.
My French has been under pressure this month. I feel as if I have reached a plateau with it and it is really hard to feel like you are improving. I have been going to my lessons like a good boy and I have even been taking some extra ones with Kate’s teacher – but I don’t feel I am getting any better. I felt even worse about it when Kate broke her mobile phone and I had to go into a store and try and order another one. In England there are a huge amount of tariffs to choose from, but imagine that in French with someone who was not taking any pity on me and speaking at a million miles an hour! After around an hour I came out with the worst had ache in the world. Hopefully, by the next time I write in here I will have gone on to a better level!
On the pitch we have been having some real success and it is really exciting for us as a team. I have played against Toulouse (Away) and Biarritz and we have won both games; Toulouse 6 – 3 and Biarritz 21 – 20. We are now in a very strong position in the league with 5 games left and 3 of these at home, where we now have not been beaten for more than a calendar year. The last game of the season is against Brive who my friend and ex Falcon player Jamie Noon plays, so I shall hope to play in that game!
Anyway, time to take the dogs for a walk on the beach (in my shorts already!) and maybe do some French homework so I can finally progress and stop making errors which sometimes come across rude to the people here. You can only imagine some of the things I have said!