Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hanging with the girlies

So - Montreal. To be fair, we didn't exactly see it at its best - ie. apart from the day I left, it was gray, cold and rainy. It's also typical of many cold North American cities in that a lot of fun activities such as boat tours, al fresco dining and street fairs only happen in the summer months, which will probably be about 3-4 weeks there. I'm sure that when it's bursting with summer events the experience will be totally different.

And indeed, like riding a bicycle, I quickly re-mastered long, boozy lunches, (inevitably followed by a two hour nap in preparation for the evening's festivities.) Since I have stopped drinking red wine (bad hangovers), don't drink Chardonnay (migraines) and have never been one for the harder stuff (yuch), I managed to imbibe Pinot Grigio as if on an intra-venous drip, with no major side effects. My GP and liver would probably beg to differ.

Also like riding a bicycly (albeit with training wheels) my ancient A level French came flooding back. Actually it was more like an intermittent trickle at first if I'm honest. As with many decently educated Brits, my written French used to be excellent and is still fairly good, my spoken French was very smooth and is still passable, if now more limited. However, it all goes to hell in a hand basket (quaint American term) when someone replies. It was bad enough in France, when they just spoke twice as fast as my French teacher and injected the odd bit of dialect. Canadian French is just as fast but seems to have a different accent, as you'd expect I suppose. Ever the linguistic coward, I just spoke as little French as I could in case someone thought my accent sounded good and tried to initiate a conversation. Fortunately, not only are the Montrealians (is that correct?) all bi-lingual, but they are able to spot English speakers from about 300 yards and begin speaking English to them before anyone (ie. me) makes a fool of themselves.

Come to think of it, the only time I've ever had a post A level French conversation feeling remotely confident was with a Morrocan taxi driver in Marrakesh, and that's probably because we were both as awful as each other. My boyfriend (now ball and chain) was very impressed though, especially as he was under the distinct impression that we were about to be driven to the nearest souk and sold into the white slave trade.

Anyway, the Montreal folk were incredibly friendly, pleasant and unloud. No wonder they get pissed off when you take them for Americans. And of course, it was excellent to hang with the girlfriends. Next year we are looking at either Miami or Bermuda - at least I think that's what we decided!!!


  1. Montreal is such a great city, although I went at the start of winter and seemed to have to spend most of my day underground in an attempt to maintain any kind of acceptable body temperature! But the people are incredily friendly, and my (equally pigeon) French managed to hold up to scrutiny. Well, at least enough to order food anyway. I should still have listened better to Madame Flitcroft at school though...

  2. What a coincidence - I was just telling someone (French) on Saturday that I'm okay at asking questions in French ... but I never understand the answer. He said in France it's the other way round.
    It's nice to be back. GBS x

  3. I know just what you mean about Brit' French and mine is great until someone replies as well!LOL

    Plus I find that 'fermez votre gateaux tru' does not get the same response it did at age 14! And I might have spelt that last word wrong....useless!

    Glad you had fun with the girlies

  4. I salute you for being bilingual with a hangover (my liver has taken a similar bashing here this week). Hope to catch up with you more regularly now that FTT has gone off - thank you so much for your encouraging comments.

  5. sounds great fun and very invigorating. Your Pinot Grigio is my Sauvignon, I swear it's good for me.

  6. Dylan - I'm not sure I could have paid much attention had me teacher been called Flitcroft. What a name.

    GBS - glad to see you back - get blogging.

    Brit Gal - hilarious. I never thought of trying that! I think the nuns would have disapproved somewhat.

    chrish - Actually the booze and hangover is usually what makes me more fluent, at least in my opinion.

    Milla - I ventured over to Sauvignon a few times and I really must vary the Pinot from time to time. Well, not MUST, but "would like to".

  7. Dylan - of course, that would be MY teacher. I don't really write in Geordie.

  8. Ah, another thing we have in common, A'level French. I did manage to use mine again briefly after college when I worked in an office for 6 weeks importing courgettes from France. Since then, it's been dormant. Glad to know that it all comes flooding back. When I finally make it over the border to Canada, I'll be sure to have a few glasses of dutch courage before I try to speak!

  9. You had a lovely time then. Just proves there is life outside blogging!

  10. I'm going to Montreal in a few weeks..hope mon francais comes back! I just love to see culture after living here in NH for 11 years! Plus the food & vin c'est excellent!


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