Wednesday, 28 November 2012


wanderlust, n. ˈwɒndəlʌst/ /ˈvandərlʊst/
Etymology: German.

An eager desire or fondness for wandering or travelling

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One of my favourite words, which perfectly sus up my feelings right now. It's coming clearer to me that we're soon in December, bringing my time in Aix-en-Provence to a close, almost. Whereas i'm staying here over Christmas with my mum and sister in a vacational rental apartment and then not leaving Aix as a student until mid-January, December is going to be one massive blow out of seeing as much of the south of France as possible before I leave for not so sunny Spain ('ll be January for christ's sake. I couldn't have picked a better time to go, obviously).

It's a dreary day in Aix and I all I can think of is future plans and idea. What plans I have already are, of course, subject to me actually finally getting my Erasmus grant through, which has been in  the 'pipeline' for ages.  Grumble grumble.

Me and a friend Lauren are going to Berlin for my 22nd birthday weekend via Nice, then on to Amsterdam and then Brussels around the start of December, along with friends who will be in Berlin at the same time!

I also really wanted to explore the Luberon, and all its small villages and beautiful scenery as well as some beachy towns on the Côte d'Azur.

And hopefully, if I haven't spent all of my money on planes and buses and trains by then, i'd love to go skiing in January. I've never skied before, and what better part of the world to be right next to than then French Alps. Apparently from Nice it's only 2 hours away by bus, costing 1€ each way. Awesome.

Almost a perfect circle of new travelling experiences all into one week.

Monday, 26 November 2012

I woke up in a church on top of a mountain in the South of France this morning.

Not every day I get to say that.

The mountain was great, the climb was hard and the church was eerie. But it was such a nice trip to take. I feel like I've been rattling on too much to people how awesome a fucking mountain was, but awesome is an understatement. I love the fact we have an enormous mountain just round the corner (and actually visible from our halls) and that we just conquered it!

When it got dark and colder we even built a fire inside the refuge on top of the mountain summit.

Mont St Victoire - overlooking Provence

The courtyard of the church and refuge at the summit of the mountain.

La Croire de Provence - a gigantic cross at the very summit of Mt St Victoire overlooking everything and everyone.

Building fires
Me on top of a mountain INSIDE A CLOUD

Friday, 23 November 2012

Mont St Victoire, and doing life on the cheap.

Without wanting to dwell on my financial situation too much, it has to be said I'm doing alright without money in my life whatsoever. I am now down to my last euro almost, which will be strategically spent on long life tasty French pain de mie.....or toast bread if you don't want to be so fancy about it, but I am still not really that worried.
I've been out every day, and almost every night at parties organised by others, which have often involved a little spread of food and a bottle of wine lurking around. Not to say the free finger buffets are the only reason I've been going out, but they certainly help! I'm loving being frugal and still being able to have a really good time.

A few nights ago there was an international Erasmus 'soirée' speech thing, which involved us Erasmus students having certain future plans regaled and unveiled about the halls and dorms for future Erasmus  years to us (which in my opinion was quite irrelevant because...err....we won't be here?!).
Anyways in celebration of -something I can't quite remember- there was a high-quality international buffet of food. There was japanese sushi, Indian food with lots of spices and humous, Italian style ciabattas as well as tapenade (a local Marseillaise speciality) and vol-au-vents and stuff like that.

It was beautiful.

These were lovely: Sundried pepper and tomato in
a very sour cream.

Sushi, some coconut marzipan balls and dried ginger 
Undoubtedly a very fake Italian chef

Another little party like this one was Katy's 21st surprise birthday party which a few of us organised. Some of the girls I'm here in Aix with booked out a room in the student halls buildings to host a nice bit of a do for her. We led her in blindfolded, thinking that she was coming to see me and see something i'd wanted to surprise her with personally, but in reality she walked in on the entire group of friends here. She nearly broke down in tears she was so shocked!
We made her an book with pictures of us in and holiday photos that we'd all taken together and that made her cry even more. Then we got drunk. Very very drunk.

All my sexy boys and girls from Aix-en-Provence for Katy's 21st. Katy's the one being lifted up on the top left, and that's me looking like a Japanese tourist on the left with the green jeans.

So eventually, coming to the crux and the point of this blogpost ( rattling off a load of text about what i've done the previous week happens way to much on this blog), this Sunday a few friends are going up camping on Mont St Victoire, a local massif which looks gloriously over Aix-en-Provence. It's quite famous actually, Van Gogh used to paint provençal lavender fields with St Victoire in the background, and most of the famous painter Cézanne's work was based on, or around, St Victoire.

There is a small pilgrimage rest-stop inside a church at the top of the mountain which we're going to camp inside of, as well as a giant cliffside where we can make a campfire. It's gonna be awesome. I can't wait to see what all the fuss is about, and hopefully I won't be killed by rabid mountain animals or stranded and hungry cannibalistic tourists!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Beg, borrow and steal.

Aix-en-Provence is really not the easiest of places to live without a job unless you were either born with a silver spoon in your mouth or you won the lottery a few years ago and are happily cruising on the cumulative interest on your bank account. It's a place where rich people go to die in provençal rental apartment heaven and where students actually look like they've made an effort in the morning; there are no jogger pants and last night's t-shirts here i'm afraid.... (Gotta say I love that feeling when you roll into uni feeling like shit but know everyone else is the same too).

Anyway, to cut to the chase: I am pretty fucking penniless right now. And still waiting for my Erasmus grant which ill give me enough money to live comfortably until January when I get my nxt student loan payment. It sucks.

On the plus side, it has made me work out how to be a bit more frugal and not just sit in bed shovelling Viennoiseries down my throat all day and then wondering where my money went. I miss cake so much.

So imagine my elation when a friend suggested we all get together to cook curries to celebrate Diwali? There turned out to be around 15 of us who wanted to join in, so we all bought vegetables, spices, rice as well as wine on the cheap and then split the cost for everyone who was eating. Worked to be about 2€ each to make enough for everyone 3 times over; about four big vats of curry and shitloads of rice to add to that. There was an aubergine and chickpea curry as well as chicken coconut curry which everyone kept trying to nick tastes of behind the cook's backs and some others which i've forgotten the ingredients of but oh my god I need the recipe because they were so damn tasty.

As I was writing this, I decided I definitely needed to finally buy some food before I die of starvation.  I just spent my last few euros on a few baguettes, some fruit and soft cheese so hopefully I should be able to snack my days away until my bursary comes through! Definitely considering living on Nutella sandwiches....

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Taking trips

I just stumbled again on my old blog which, written in 2009 at the tender age of 19, was supposed to 'document my life before, during and after university'. It's now the end of 2012, i'm almost 22, still at uni and reading this blog makes it sound like a million years ago. It also reads like what you would expect an angsty teenager's blog to be like. There is a lot of angry ranting posts towards my housemates in Coventry who I really hated, as well as mushy posts about my ex Kai, who i'd been going out with for almost 2 months in a weird Anglo-German LDR via the internet.

I'm not going to show the world it however, especially because there is one post where I uploaded almost-naked pictures of Kai, who was posing with only a trilby hat covering his modesty. As much as we didn't break up on enormously great terms, I'm still not that much of a bastard to potentially embarrass him over the internet especially after so long without hearing from him.

Anyways, i'm not entirely sure whether that little discovery has cheered me up or made me feel a little bit more down today, it's made me realise that i'm still not finished university, and made me think again how long left I actually still have. I don't want to be a perpetual student anymore...

Everyone promised me that i'd have a fucking billboard time in France and that I wouldn't have anything to worry about, yet here I am sat in my chambre traditionelle in just my boxers eating vine tomatoes as a 'main course'. I just cannot wait until the next installment of my uni Erasmus grant comes through in a few weeks.

It's about time to get on to the real topic about this post and something a hell of a lot more relevant to the title than moaning about my lack of wealth. I was going to be substantially more subtle about this topic because I didn't want people to judge me, but fuck it. If you judge me, you judge me. An ex-boyfriend of mine even suggested that I should go on my Erasmus year and come back to England a much more mature person, yet I can safely say that I am a hell of a lot more world-wise and a lot happier from not following his advice.

I recently took quite a lot of a legal hallucinogenic drug (legal in France) while here in Aix-en-Provence and it was a really fucked-up experience. It was LSA, similar to acid, but in grain form and it's quite cheap but still very powerful.
What I definitely do remember was the effect it had on language, making it seem much 'smoother', easier to comprehend and sound a lot more pleasant. I find it quite interesting to note how alcohol changes language ability, and without trying to sound like a PhD student or a junkie, I certainly do like to test that theory quite a lot. I turned up to my German and French oral exams last academic year quite tipsy. It worked well and I did surprisingly better than what I thought I would.

Aaaanyways, it was fun. it's only the the second time i've done something like that and the first was better, but our mistake was going outside. Meeting some friends in a packed Irish bar in the middle of Aix through Dark provençal alleyways and lots of drunk people is not the best idea for when you're tripping balls on acid.

It's not the glorified colour-changing mind trip that films make it out to be. And there's certainly no little dragons that pop out from nowhere. Lights were brighter and colours were more intense and my pupils were as big as dinner plates but according to friends we just looked really drunk. I did get very lost though trying to find a toilet in an Irish bar across the street, ended up wandering alleyways a little bit and then panicked (not a good idea), but all was well.

There's not enough letters in the alphabet for all the things I've done in the last few weeks.....