The last two weeks were quite different from any that had gone before, simply because my flatmate finally arrived. There had been rumours of someone moving in from about mid-November, but it was only confirmed right at the beginning of November. I knew that she was female and over 60 and that was about it. Right up to the weekend she was meant to be arriving, we had no fixed date and time for her arrival. I finally got her e-mail address on the Friday (she was meant to be coming on the Saturday!) and sent her an e-mail in French to say hello (to practise my writing). She replied quickly, with equal warmth, saying that she meant to walk from the train station. Now, as anyone who has read my Luxembourg entries knows, the train station is 20-25 minutes from the chateau and hardly an easy walk, especially with luggage. I quickly told her this, adding that she had better arrange a lift or book a taxi. She e-mailed me back but it was blank. I asked her if she'd meant to say something but didn't receive an e-mail by the time I left work on Friday. It was only over the weekend that I realised she'd send all her e-mails to my work address, which I couldn't access, and I hadn't given her my yahoo one. Cue a weekend of worrying, culminating in a Sunday night which I spent waiting for Martje with no idea what was going on and no way to contact her (since she had my mobile number but I didn't have hers). Eventually, after waiting up to one o'clock in the morning, I went to bed, wondering what had happened. I went to work the next day and finally managed to read my e-mails. There was one from Martje, sent at midnight on Saturday, filled with woe: the flatsitter she'd hired had phoned her that evening and told her she could no longer look after the flat (and Plush, her cat), because her grandmother was very ill, so ill that this girl needed to go and stay with her. So Martje had to find someone to look after Plush, or bring him with her. Unfortunately, no kennel would take Plush at such short notice and keeping him there for three months would be too expensive. So she got him immunized for rabies, but then discovered she had to wait three weeks for the paperwork. Finally, she decided to risk it and bring him on the train, because border control on trains is much looser than planes. So she finally arrived on Monday night, totally out of cash because her Portuguese taxi driver hardly spoke French (which was fine as she grew up in Brazil) and couldn't even read his sat-nav properly. Poor Martje was totally exhausted and Plush wasn't much better, miaowing his head off. I thought he was white in the entrance hall because of the darkness, but when she let him out in her bedroom, I discovered he was ginger. Not bright red, but a golden orange with a tabby pattern, and fluffy, too. So he captured my heart straight away. He reminded me a lot of my old cat, Autumn, a tortoiseshell queen who passed away two years ago in October (a tortoiseshell is the female equivalent of a ginger): very vocal and very aware of his rights, also very indecisive about doorways. Having Martje and Plush in the flat made a real difference: for one thing, Martje was usually there when I came home, since she's freelance; for another, I loved having a cat around the place, especially one with character. It also meant that I was more motivated to get up in the mornings and go to bed early, even if it cut down on my 'alone' time.
The first week that Martje was there was a rest week for me, as Lorraine was on holiday, so I caught up on my revisions and did some research on job placements (I found a few). I also received the fourth chapter of Watching for Wolves back from my beta, and submitted that. The second week, I basically wrapped things up and finally got paid, after finding out from Cristina (one of the secretaries) that the accountant had forgotten to pay it into my account. She also added that if I'd told her at the end of the month, she might have been able to do something sooner: well, I would have done, but I didn't know there was anything wrong at the end of last month, so that doesn't really help, does it? It's not like I was blaming her, I just wanted to know what was going on. Anyway, I finally got paid a week ago today and immediately paid my rent, then had a bit of fun buying CDs for myself, as I hadn't been able to buy anything before except food. I got The Essential Simon and Garfunkel and Julie Delpy's album. My legacy to the CVCE is a thorough and well-written summary of my stay for the traineeship report, with everything you'd need to know about accomodation, transport and staying in touch.
Travelling back was rather fraught, as the fog at Heathrow meant that a lot of European flights were cancelled. Still, I had a nice restful train drive up to Brussels with the ham sandwiches that Martje had made for me (because she wanted something to do) and the English book I'd bought on my last evening in Luxembourg. (Martje bought me two French books as a 'surprise' present. I bought her a meal at Goethe Stuff, which was fabulous.) When I finally got to Brussels, a nice man lifted my suitcase on and off the train for me. I was about three hours early, so after checking that the flight wouldn't be cancelled, I checked my luggage in and strolled around the airport for a while. I even found an internet spot to check my e-mails. I haven't flown on a chartered flight for a while, so it was nice to actually get free food and drink while on the plane (ham sandwich and drink of choice, plus chocolate). The fog had cleared by the time we got back, which was a bit of a shock. Still, made a nice ending to my stay in Luxembourg.
My Neighbour Totoro (anime)
Only Yesterday (anime)
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Fruits Basket: Vols. 10 & 11
The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin (re-telling of Theseus and the Minotaur)
Supernature by Goldfrapp
Ether Song by Turin Brakes
Underachievers Please Try Harder by Camera Obscura
Scarf & bobble hat
New pyjama set
New bra + pants set
Two new jumpers (rose and raspberry pink)
Travel manicure set and jewellery role (from Aunt Doreen)
Here endeth the list.