…there is no update!
I have not done a stitch! Go and read someone else’s!
Well, three more weeks have gone by and I’ve done a lot more white stitching.
I was on holiday the week before last, and put another few more miles on, taking the project to Cornwall and back via Bristol and London. But as you can see, I did find some time to add yet more white stitching!
There’s still plenty of white to go!
To my own surprise, I have made progress on my project!
Not a lot of progress, mind you! I bet you can’t spot it!
Here it is – I have finished the snowy road beneath the car’s tyres. It’s really difficult to stitch white beads onto white plastic with white thread!
I have also popped the bumper on the car. I needed to do something other than white on white on white. I’ve now got a full 13 rows of stitches on my 75X75 stitch project. I wonder if I’ll find some more time for it over the next three weeks!
During the drive up to Stowe the roads got smaller, the temperature began to drop, and millions of fir trees started to appear. I was in Vermont for nearly three weeks, here are some of the highlights in no particular order.
The friendly town of Stowe
I think it’s fairly safe to say that Stowe does well to cater to tourists. The ski resort brings in plenty of business to the area, and as a result the small town supports plenty of arts and crafts places, cafes and restaurants. There is a supermarket and a few general stores as well. The atmosphere in the town was extremely friendly, and very relaxed. Even though it wasn’t peak season, there was plenty of life around the place and enough to do if you weren’t on the mountain. The buildings are picturesque and colourful, and there’s a recreation path too.
Sushi Yoshi in Stowe
Three out of the four of us had Hibachi, which is sort of like performance cookery. There is a flat grill in the centre and the chef cooks there, with the diners sitting around on three sides. There was a lot of setting things on fire, and the chef cooked as well as giving us a show. At one stage he was chucking things at us to catch in our mouth and cheering when we managed. I’ve never had so much fun while performing this feat. I had a bento box and really enjoyed it, especially the sushi which was fantastic. Naturally I had a try of the hibachi as well and it was also lovely. You can see pictures on their website.
Maybe it’s more spectacular in the depths of winter, or during the summer, but this easy walkway down by the river was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I walked out of town along the roadside path, and headed back in towards the church along the recreational route. It was fairly chilly, but there was evidence in the snow of plenty of people using the route.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
This was lots of fun. The inside of the building is pretty psychedelic, and the tour guide we had really knew his stuff (even when asked some non-standard questions about cows). We were given a free mini-cup of ice cream at the end of the tour as well. The tour itself lasted about 30 mins, and only cost $4, which is a bargain. This factory is no longer the largest factory, but it was the first one where the ice cream was produced. If you like the ice cream, it’s a fun thing to go and see. They also have a flavour graveyard, with headstones erected to flavours no longer made. This comes complete with styrofoam crows.
Learning to Ski at Stowe Mountain Resort
Definitely one of the best days ever! I had never skied before coming to Vermont, and learning to ski with my hosts was absolutely brilliant. Josh took charge of the lesson and was very patient with me all day, and I made much faster progress than I had expected with only minimal falling over and frustration! We started off on a small bump (not even a hill), then I graduated to the Magic Carpet (whose witchcraft I still don’t understand) and I managed to ski down a beginner slope (Inspiration) before lunch, with Josh helping me to improve by giving me strange feats to perform. The lessons on Inspiration continued after lunch, and my much more experienced hosts kept me company at times, practising more advanced techniques. As well as feeling good about knowing some skiing basics, I feel much more confident about trying other athletic activities now too. Taking off the ski boots at the end of the day felt amazing as my normal shoes felt like slippers… After a fun day skiing we went to the Matterhorn and had a drink and something to eat, and I was absolutely exhausted!
My time in Vermont was very relaxed. It was lovely to drink delicious milk bought from the farm in the next town, to go to the supermarket and the food co-op. It was lovely to take Loomis into the woods or on walks at lunchtimes when I was in the house, and it was lovely to meet other people who worked at the mountain. Every day I was woken up by Loomis sniffing my face and the skiiers getting ready to be at the mountain for lift-opening time, and we went to bed early too as the light faded. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a pretty nice lifestyle!
A lot of us assistants went ice skating one day, when it was freezing and raining on top of old snow. Esther and I tried to get there on the bus from the residence, but it turns out when the bus says it stops somewhere that the stop name has noting to do with the name of the place you’re trying to get to. That’s really handy. So we got lost in a park and had to stop runners to ask the way, who then caught us up again and told us we were still going the wrong way. Very helpful of them, though.
When we did finally get there we found ourselves mostly outclassed by the French teenagers, who’ve clearly got nothing better to do than to ice skate. The ice rink was a little strange, as it had a video projector playing kids’ music. So whipping round the rink to the tune of the ABC song were all the highly skilled too-cool-for-school teens, cutting up beginners and spraying each other with ice. It was a nice afternoon out though.
The big news here was that it snowed last Saturday. Proper snow. Not rubbish wet snow like it had before, but proper big flakes, going-to-go-on-all-day type snow. Except it didn’t, and by the time I went to collect my boyfriend from the train station it had gone away again, leaving only pathetic piles of slush here and there. The kids were really excited about it at school though, and the headlines of all the papers were proclaiming the opening of the local pistes.
I was really happy that the strikes hadn’t affected travel from Paris. The only slight inconvenience being that there are no buses after 7pm in this place, so we walked the 40 minutes home.
At school I spent the week mostly teaching terminales as usual, we did a listening exercise with John Lennon’s “Imagine” which got some of them singing along. I think I’m starting to make some headway with these three classes, although a lot of them still just look at me like I’m some kind of nutter.
I also supervised a test which took a text about “Bend It Like Beckham” for some comprehension exercises. Throughout, the class asked me for answers which I kept saying I couldn’t give them. I’ve also been pretending not to know how to spell things. I was encouraging them to speak English if they wanted to ask me something and one student who kept saying “merde!” changed to saying “shit!” all of the time. I suppose that’s progress.
Yesterday my boyfriend went home. He made it, just. The flight was in the afternoon from Paris, so I’d booked an early train for him when we arranged the visit. Unfortunately, the train drivers were having another “mouvement social” and there were no trains at all to Paris from the local train station. We waited in the 30 minute queue to try and sort out the problem, and were given an exchange for a train from a town about an hour away by car. We were asked if we could drive there. What were we doing in a train station if we could just drive there?
So, we took the ticket, which gave us 1h40 to get to the train station. Thankfully my responsable was very understanding and drove us to the station (in between taking her coat off on the motorway and turning around to talk to us while driving at 100kph). So he made it! She was pretty familiar with the problem herself, as she’s been travelling a lot for her job recently, and has been left stuck numerous times, and was really nice about helping us out. She’s been talking a lot about the strikes recently, and claims that public opinion is now against the strikers, though that doesn’t always help end them. I found a useful guide to French strike vocabulary, which I think I’m going to be needing soon as on Tuesday the civil service and the teachers are joining in. The writer’s attitude seems to be on a par with most of the public’s at the moment. I’m just glad I’m not in Paris.
One of the things I was told before coming out here was that I was lucky to be living in France at such an interesting time. Wasn’t “May you have an interesting life.” supposed to be a curse?