Posted by: britgirl82 | August 9, 2010

Bordeaux Bubble

The first week in Bordeaux was spent much the same was as the first weekend for BritGirl, however, the BIG difference during this week….her parents were not there.

On Monday morning, BritGirl’s Mum and Dad set off in the white van heading back to England…that was it, no more white van, no more parents to turn to and rely on when the realisation of living in France hit. The morning they left BritGirl was close to tears….another piece of her comfort blanket would be miles and miles away, but again, no tears were shed. Goodbyes were made and BritGirl was in Bordeaux with her boyfriend alone!

And yes, this week was continual furniture building and box opening to the sound of comments like “why did we bring this?”, “where shall we put this?” and “don’t put that there”.

The manual labour was relatively easy, muscles were already aching from unpacking the van, tools were in place and the language of the task was anglais….BritGirl could have been in any country, in any apartment anywhere in the world doing this.

In the evenings, letters to friends and family were written, “we are here, we arrived safely…listen to the adventure that was our journey, the apartment is coming together, more news to follow”…again another english task. The fact that Brit Girl was living and breathing in France had not really hit home yet.

But it did…..for the first two weeks, the “Bordeaux Bubble” was formed. BritGirl and her boyfriend had a british mobile phone each but that was all, no internet, no television, c’est tout. Costs of calling home were high, text messages were not free, we knew nothing about world events or changes. We could not maintain communication out of our Bubble like this. So yes, BritGirl was going to have to talk French and at somepoint venture out of the comfort of the flat to buy tools and boxes for the television, phone, internet and mobiles.

However, have you ever thought, how do you research internet providers without the internet? Yes, they have got you right there haven’t they!! We wandered around town looking at the shop windows, but not daring to go in for fear of someone accosting us and selling us something we didnt want…..savvy customers you see, thats what we wanted to be, but how!!

How did landlines work in France? Did our apartment already have a number? The plugs are different in France, but what about connections for televisions/phones? Questions which all needed answering, our letting agent was tres helpful with some of these mundane but ever important facts and otherwise we were on our own to figure it out.

Luckily BritGirl found a cafe with 30 minutes daily free internet browsing, so everyday for about 2 weeks, BritGirl trekked to the cafe, bought her espresso and croissant and used the internet at a speed never seen before – brief emails to friends, “I’m here, its scary, but I’m doing OK”, emails to parents, “help us look at the cost of the internet? Tv? Phone? Where do we get all of this from?” and for BritGirl’s boyfriend ongoing work emails….even though he no longer worked in the UK!!

Don’t think BritGirl had moved to France unprepared (that just is NOT how BritGirl works, there is a plan to everything… or so she thought until she moved to La France)! She had looked into internet provision and mobile phones, but without actually being in the country and understanding what was needed, any research done in the months running up to the grand demenagement was useless.

However, through online research, parents advice and hours spent peering through shop windows a decision was made, we knew what we wanted and the next question was getting it. BritGirl – ever one for planning and preparation – wrote a mini script of statements, questions/answers en Francais to help her get the package….. Bank details were handed over, papers were signed without fully understanding what/where/when and how…all we knew was that something had been agreed, signed for and hopefully would be winging its way to our new apartment. That something, we hoped would be a telephone, internet and TV service. In a whirlwind of French BritGirl and her boyfriend walked out of the shop dazed and confused. “Was that what we wanted?” “Did I understand that correctly?” “So I think it will be delivered soon?”

Still no tears that week, in a way, when looking back, it was the best week. It was Bordeaux in a bubble….there was little communication with the outside world (bar the need to order communication tools!!), it was just down to us, making a home, unpacking lives from boxes into an apartment….anyone can do it and make it fun! Its your native language and you feel safe.

Walks were taken along the river to take a break from continual DIY. Another point to be made here, if anyone tells you that January in southwest France isn’t cold, do NOT believe them, they are wrong! It was bitterly cold, the coldest winter on record in France for years (BritGirl ignores the fact that the UK was too suffering near Polar weather, the point was, the southwest of France was cold and had seen snow!)….the wind whipped across the river and down the side streets, howling around the top floor flat….but somedays that chill was needed to clear the head and focus on the task in hand…making a life in France.

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