Blog of the month - September 2009
Le Franco Phoney
My name April Hollands, from Melbourne, Australia, and since then London, Cambridge and the French Alps.
Where are you living now?
I've been living in La Clusaz for three years now, and doing seasons prior to that (with summers in Cambridge) for four years, living in various villages around Meribel ski resort or by Lake Annecy. No plans to leave this area any time soon, partly thanks to needy cat and boyfriend.
Have you ever lived abroad before?
I've been living abroad since 2000 after telling my mum I'd be gone for "twelve months maximum". I've since had to pack my room up in Australia after she gave up hope of me ever returning. Apart from the places I've lived, I've visited loads of European countries (everywhere from Russia to Lichtenstein), the US, Canada overnight for a Stone Temple Pilots concert, and lots of road tripping here in France.
Is it your first time or are you a "serial expat"? Why did you choose to live in France ?
I guess I'm a serial expat now - it still seems strange to me, as before I left Australia, I'd only really had a few overseas holidays, and no desire to live anywhere but Australia! France reminds me a lot of Australia: laid back culture; honesty (not always positive!); and, great weather (especially after experiencing UK summers). But the real reason I moved here was for the snow: I'm passionate about winter sports and I knew I'd be moving to France as soon as I heard the dry snow squeaking under my skis on a holiday back in 2001. Snow is too wet to squeak in Australia.
The place where you live: how would you describe it?
La Clusaz and the surrounding villages are very Savoyarde, which means they're mostly closed to non-locals: it takes three generations in their graves before a family is considered local here. So, it's a very traditional place: farming and cheesemaking rule all year 'round, while the farmers put up with the tourists here to walk in the mountains in summer and here to ski in winter. It's pretty in every season, and especially fun in winter when everything is covered in snow. My job is unrelated to the area: I'm a production editor for a dairy industry publication, and this is what pays my bills, along with smaller writing jobs. My love of words extends to unpaid work: I've written one novel, and I will start the next one when I find an agent for the first. I also have my blog.
Do you miss anything from your homeland?
I miss my friends and family, obviously, and the convenience of longer trading hours. Here, the supermarket will be closed at 2pm for lunch, and sometimes during peak season, it opens for a few hours on a Sunday morning. I also miss my favourite childhood foods, like Cherry Ripe chocolate and various Arnott's biscuits, but friends and family keep me in good supply.
Your blog: when did you start it? For what reasons? Did its original purpose changed along the way? Do you spend a lot of time on it?
I started my blog in June 2008 as a way of writing regularly, which is sometimes not possible with fiction writing. It still serves that purpose, and I enjoy writing it very much. I spend more time getting the photos looking good than I do writing: I'm terrible with Photoshop!
Did you make new friends with your blog? Have you ever met somebody you spoke with on your blog?
Yes, a lot of local ex-pats had read my blog before they met me, and I've already met two readers who live nowhere near here, with another two meetings coming up.
Expat-blog (of course!): when did you register? Any particular reasons?
I registered with Expat-blog when I first started up my blog. It seemed appropriate given I'm an expat and I had started a blog.
Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with other bloggers? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?
There are plenty of those on my blog: all the best stories go there. Lately, hearing English songs with swear words or violence in public places makes me chuckled, and I blogged about this recently.
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