Quite scary to think that it was nearly four months to the day that I boarded that train from Glasgow to London, then onto the Lille bound Eurostar. I had planned to write so much more about my time here. I have notes and memories and lots of pictures so who knows it might see the light of day at some juncture, but the time taken with writing actual paid work, or my website, takes precedent right now. Writing this just before 3 A.M or 03h00 as the French would say…write.
This is one of the happier times I’ve been awake at this time, cause damn, there have been some bad times too. Everything was a little bit of a whirlwind when coming here and I probably didn’t really sit and think about the enormity of the situation. It’s not exactly far from home, could be home in 10 hours if everything really went to shit, luckily we’ve not even got close to that point yet. I will return to the UK in 11 days, and as much as I am looking forward to it I am also dreading it in equal measures.
Here, in Lille, I am actually someone. There was a cool moment last night on the way to the football when two fans, two guys that I have no connection with, basically started having a conversation about me. “Il est les fan du Ecosse.” Yeah that’s me. It does help that I was in the Lille match-day programme for the game against Toulouse, with my St-Andrew’s flag on display. Finally some recognition from LOSC – it’s quite nice. Amongst the Lille fans that I know I do get a lot of attention, they see me as the crazy Scottish guy and I really like that. Back in Glasgow I am a nobody, no one gives a shit, and will quite happily tell you…”couldnae gee a shite pal!” Bringing you back down to earth and in a way that only Scotland can.
The four months have been full of some incredible highs and some really bad lows, no more than at the start of last week. I had just spent the weekend in Brussels with some friends that I have made here in Lille. A mixture of French, Italian, Belgian, American et moi, a really nice group, and although it’s been a short time I consider them good friends. We travelled on the Saturday, went out Saturday night, got suitably pissed, had about an hours sleep and then stoated around the centre, quite possibly still drunk. It was a superb few days and we definitely all had a good time, you could tell by how quiet we were on the Sunday.
Home Sunday night, in bed by 8 P.M and slept pretty much the whole way through. The problem I have had here in Lille is being alone, it’s sad to admit it, but it’s just nice to have people around, people to chat to. Monday was a really tough day, to go from the comfort of five friends to absolutely nothing, with a few other reasons thrown in, put me on a rather large downward spiral. It wasn’t pretty. Luckily I have some really excellent friends spread out across Europe, and the constant support of Pamela and Stephane to call upon at times like this. Most of the day was spent bugging them with my tales of woe and such. They really do deserve a medal for some of the shite I have piled on them recently.
Stephane had the biggest affect this time, giving me a huge kick up the arse. All about thinking positively and putting this crap behind me. I had already been starting to go outside at least once a day, an important step in keeping yourself sane as an Expat. My French has definitely improved; this was more noticeable when I was really pissed with the Lille fans on Saturday. Loads of words were just flowing. Am I in any way conversational, no? Talking is ok, I can work what I need to say, say it and then move on. It’s the unplanned talking that I hate. No subject matter, just for someone to start a conversation out of the blue, or against the normal shop protocol throws me completely. After a few pardons I usually give up and try they “Je suis Ecossais, je parler un peu francais, desole” either they give up, or they use English. Sometimes it can just be a pain to go outside into the unknown, the constant thinking about what you are going to say can take its toll. Hiding in one’s room is so much easier, although quite depressing.
After some words of wisdom I have my motivation again, this was a new start, a new leaf. The #newdawnnewday hashtag was born and a plan was hatched. I had spoken to Stephane about my idea of to start jogging. I had thought about it a few times, but just not got round to starting. What a bloody awful excuse that is. I really like walking, but it just takes too long to get anywhere and it’s just walking. I proved by walking 100 miles from Sheffield to Lille that it’s not exactly an extreme sport. Just getting really really lost. The internet had provided a decent guide on how to go from a complete novice, to a person running for 30 minutes. It sounded workable, so throw away the shit of Monday and Tuesday it was to be a new day.
The plan is to walk for 10 minutes as a warm up and then you run for one minute, walk for one minute. I had read that the plan suggested doing this for 20 minutes, making up the 30 minute total. After the first twenty minute jog/walk combo I returned to find that the plan said to only do this for 10 minutes. Great start! But I had done 20 and it had been fine, no point changing. It’s amazing how difficult just jogging for 1 minute can be, you look at your watch and it says 00:32….FUCK….I’ve got to do that again. It got slightly easier though.
Initial plan was to run/jog/walk Tuesday to Saturday and have a rest day Sunday. After three days I was feeling the effects, so I had a rest day on Friday and was back on it on Saturday. After the initial run on Tuesday I felt really good, I had started something, the positivity had worked. Amazing what 24 hours could do. The same day I started a twitter conversation with what was for the most part a stranger, we go on a date this Friday. Maybe more on that another time, not for now. The new attitude, the positive thinking, new dawn and all that, bloody hell that was fast. Buoyed on by this, the running was definitely bearable. Sunday was a bit of a write-off as I recovered from the effects of football and alcohol on the Saturday night. No way was a running anywhere without painting the pavement a lovely shade of beige.
Three days have passed this week and I’ve been out each day. Today was the first day of the next phase, jogging for two minutes and two minutes rest. After six days of this it goes to 3/2, then 5/2, 7/2 etc. etc. the plan is that you are able to run for 30 minutes. If today’s jump is anything to go by it is going to be a long and tough exercise, but god do I feel better for doing it. Today’s first two minute stint was the longest two minutes ever, but then it was ok until the final two minutes. The change in pattern really helped as I was getting too accustomed to the one minute intervals. Following the same route a few times, you remember where the stop points are, today mixed that up let’s see how tomorrow goes.
Before starting last Tuesday I of course loaded up my phone with the essential running playlist, essentially a mix of hip-hop, rap and rock music to help me on my way, oh and of course the Rocky soundtracks. What serious training soundtrack doesn’t have Rocky? On Tuesday it paid off. As I was crossing the bridge that goes over the train tracks there was a moment when the sun was peaking past the building and lighting up the Lille skyline, of course in that instant the song changed and on came one of Bill Conti’s classics, it lifted me, it was just a superb moment of timing, weather and chance. If that doesn’t motivate you then nothing will.
What’s the point of all this? Well to get in better shape really. I have definitely lost weight since coming here, it’s not that I’m starving myself, just more selective of when and what I eat due to a decreased budget. Part of me has no idea how it has happened if I’m honest, soooo many bags of crisps have been destroyed in the last four months. Not small packets either, the big 200g packets – once opened, destroyed. So that has stopped too, the odd one here and there is fine, but it was becoming daily. Most of my clothes are getting too big for me, which is excellent, but does post many dilemmas as I did bring a limited wardrobe over, so if they don’t fit I’m basically stuffed.
Two of my LOSC jersey’s that were a little snug before can now be worn under jumpers. My Charles Barkley basketball top fits perfectly and two shirts that were looking a bit HULK-esque at times now fit really well. Last month I went to C&A, yes that now defunct British store is still huge over here, and bought a new shirt. I thought I was having a laugh with myself trying on the “XL – Slim Fit” I had always been a XXL man, some XLs had been fitting before moving here, but slim fit, surely not a chance…..wait a minute..Yes, this actually fits, well. Result.
New clothes are on the agenda come Christmas, so I have a couple of weeks left to shed some more pounds before my Gran’s homemade soup puts all the good work to waste and I have to start all over again when I return in January. There has to be a reward though, right?
I know this is a pretty huge post, apologies for that, but I will now try and do stuff semi-regularly, maybe. And please don’t pick out any spelling or grammar mistakes…I don’t care. No one is paying me…I’m not re-reading it in anyway. Live with it ;) Love you xx
Greetings from Lille - Loving life, feeling good. Now who wants to massage my thighs?