Friday, August 19, 2005


After a few glasses of wine
Originally uploaded by oiseau.

Since it’s back to work for me I thought a quick little recent L’Oiseau resumé might be in order:

I moved to France in Spring 2003 for a job – after marketing for four years in London and two years in Manhattan - who was I to say no to a post in Paris? This is called an upside to working for a large international company.

By Spring/Summer 2004 I decided I loved Paris but that life was to short to be doing a job that I despised. I didn’t surprise too many people by resigning, although some of them thought I might at least have prepared a job to go to. Leaving the job also meant giving up my beautiful flat in the Marais quarter of the city.

Frog and I met in Paris through mutual friends on the night of his 31st birthday. I’d already drunk the good part of a bottle of rosé when I was seated next to him at the dinner he was hosting, that I’d gatecrashed. However, the fact he lived in London for six years and knew all about English girls helped – he didn’t find me too drunk and dreadful. This was just before I became homeless and the day before he resigned from his data-crunching finance job. You can see how well we complemented each other from the beginning.

I began consulting on a series of fixed contracts to a big international company that makes soap, soup, frozen peas and the like. Frog signed onto the French unemployment systems (this is France, there is more than one system and set of bureaucracy to create jobs from the jobless). We lived in a small, damp, nasty flat in south-west Paris and somehow managed not to kill each other for, ooh, nearly a year.

After careful consideration and much discussion with friends and family members, we decided that Reims, a city in the north-east region of Champagne (France’s 13th largest city) held a bright future for us. The fact that it’s a beautiful place and Frog Family have a small family champagne business in a nearby village influenced us slightly.

Since May 30th 2005 we are the proud owners of a flat in central Reims where the general state of affairs are:

  • We’re both thrilled to have finally kicked the builders out and looking forward to the day when doubleglazing no longer hold a legitimate place in our conversations.
  • I struggle with my job – enjoying the fact it keeps me travelling in Europe and to Paris several times a week, hating how tired the travelling leaves me, despising the ongoing politics and machinations and a lot of the people involved in them, appreciating the healthy income – and wonder what I’ll do on December 31st, when the contract finishes and I end up with more time than I wished for, bound, unemployed in Reims.
  • Frog is getting used to being in the folds of the family business in the last couple of years before his father’s retirement. The plan is older Brother Frog and he will eventually run the business. Small family champagne houses are not the glamour that you might envisage – this is viticulture and hard work. Just like farming, it involves working the land and having to be ready for whatever the elements throw at you, still getting up at 4am to make deliveries and sell the stuff. But at the end of the day there are a lot more bubbles and a profitable end product than other wine makers or farms. Perhaps when I have more time on my hands - and Frog lets me - I’ll start an anonymous blog about how that really works!

I started this blog at the beginning of the year for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a lot was happening very fast in my life and I needed some regular writing to put my thoughts in one place – even if it was about the inconsequential stuff. Secondly, there are moments that happen when you’re living abroad and in a couple’s daily life that I always think, ‘I should tell Mum about that’. And then forget. Maybe this way some of them are captured. I hope so.

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