vendredi 15 août 2014

England's jewel : the Lake District

I could not wait any longer before writing this article. In april 2014, I went to the Lakes with fellow assistants, and it still is the most stunning place I have seen in the UK so far. If you love outdoor activities, hiking, being surrounded by nature, wonderful and photogenic landscapes, quiet places to escape buzzing cities, this is exactly the place where you must go. The Lake District is the biggest National Park in England, where you can also find the highest English mountain : Scaffel Pike (978m). The Lake District is also associated with English literature, especially with the poet William Wordsworth and the children's author, Beatrix Potter

The first night, we stayed in Ambleside, in a good, practical and clean youth hostel : Ambleside Backpackers. Ideally situated in Ambleside, close to all commodities : Tesco for self-catering and several pubs such as the White Lion which we tested twice. They have daily special offers, for instance, on tuesdays, burgers cost £5 instead of £8. The owner of the youth hostel gave us a warm welcome. And we had booked a 4-bed dorm but a 6-bed dorm was still unoccupied so he simply offered it to us, so that we could have more space, which we really appreciated. 

The day after, we went on a nice hike starting from Ambleside to Loughrigg Fell and Grasmere.

 View over Grasmere lake from Loughrigg Fell

On your way to Grasmere, make a well-deserved stop at Faeryland, where you can drink a hot beverage, local juices, eat nice cakes and even hire a colorfoul small boat.

The second youth hostel we stayed in was in Elterwater, a lovely village rather isolated. Be aware that in Elterwater, there is just one pub, one bus stop and the hostel. There is still a local grocery shop 10-15 minutes walk from the hostel. But don't worry, there is plenty of good hikes to do literaly from the doorstep as Elterwater is situated in the Great Langdale valley, near the Langdale Pikes. I would recommend Elterwater Hostel, especially for its friendly staff. They were always ready and happy to help us, they are very knowledgeable of the area and can recommend the best hikes to do, and they are happy to lend you a map of the surroundings for the duration of your stay. Facilities were excellent, a large and well-organised self-catering kitchen. Cooked typical English breakfast was available, and vegetarian-friendly. A very clean and pleasant hostel, the best I've ever been I think.

The second day, we went for a second hike. No need to take the car, you just start walking from the hostel doorstep. 

When I was in the Lake District, it was what I would call "the cute lambs' time." Seriously, I could not stop photographying sheep, and their cute innocent pure white lambs

 A Herdwick sheep, typical breed from Cumbria
Cute lambs, cute lambs everywhere

At the end of the afternoon, we went around Windermere Lake, which is England's largest natural lake. We walked up to Jenkin Crag, where you can get a nice view over the impressive lake. Windermere was the place I liked the least during our stay, but this view was pleasant anyway, especially with the soft light at the end of the day.

Third day = third hike, obviously. And I still can't get over how stunning it was. The best hike I have ever done. You can find indications and a description of this hike on this website, as well as a photo of the "Fat Man's Dilemma" a narrow rock formation that you have to go through, with your backpack upon your head if you want to continue this hike ! Here are my own photos, of this incredible hike :

I hope this article was not too long and tiresome to read but I really wanted to share the most amazing travel experience I had in the UK so far. I also hope I gave you some ideas if you plan on visiting the Lake District. Bare in mind that it is a very vast natural park, there is a lot of see and a great variety of sceneries depending on which part of the Lakes you choose to explore. That's why I hope I will go there again, in a few years. 

lundi 11 août 2014


Rye is where I go when I want to leave Hastings for a day, without wasting hours on a train. A 20-minute train journey is enough for me to get to Rye and get a change of air. Hourly train departs from London St Pancras and you'll be in Rye in just around one hour and fifteen minutes. So if you want to spend a relaxing day in a picturesque little town where you can wander in narrow cobbled streets, enjoy an authentic afternoon tea and some antiques shopping, then hop on a train to Rye.

Mermaid Street 

When you go to Rye, do not forget to go inside St. Mary's Parish Church and up the Tower, where you get a 360° view of Rye and its surroundings.  It's definitely worth the £3 entrance fee. However, if you are claustrophobic, I would not recommend this place since you have to walk through narrow corridors and stairs.

On a grey morning - January 2013

The Cobbles Tea Room is where I'm used to going when I go to Rye. They offer a good range of different teas, nice coffee and last but not least : delicious food, from light lunches and jacket potatoes to cakes and scones. (Just make sure you have some cash as they do not accept cards.)

Next time I visit Rye, I definitely need to go to Edith's House which I discovered through reviews on TripAdvisor, and which seems to be the cutest place for an afternoon tea. Moreover, I also plan on walking from Rye to Camber Sands, so be prepared for a new article about Rye in a few months !

Have you ever been to Rye ? 
Is it the sort of town you would enjoy visiting ?

vendredi 8 août 2014

Ode to Hastings #1

From the moment I set foot in Hastings, 
I think I immediately fell in love 
with this quaint sea-side town.

Back to the 24th of september 2013, I left my dear Limousin to travel by plane from Limoges to London Stansted, by bus from Stansted to Victoria and then by train from Victoria to Hastings (East Sussex). As I was getting closer and closer to Hastings, I was feeling more and more thrilled, this lovely feeling of total excitement, happiness, and a bit of apprehension as I was heading to a new life.

For the last few miles before arriving in Hastings, the railway follows the coastline with pretty beach huts and it was already heaven for me as I always found that the sea has a comforting and soothing effect. Living by the sea, what's even better than that ?

Very soon I started exploring this lovely town. Hastings was iconic for me as 1066 was the first landmark of British History I studied during my degree at university.

In Hastings, you have everything you need, the benefits of a sea-side resort, countryside, the Old Town with lovely streets hiding little gems, and a lively town-center with all commodities. 

My favourite place is West Hill because it offers the most wonderful view over Hastings. East Hill also offers a nice view, and an access to Hastings Country Park. 

Hastings Old Town is also such a nice place for a gentle stroll.

George Street wearing its Christmas suit

One of Hastings curiosities is the Stade where you can find Britain's biggest fleet of beach-launched boats. I always love to wander there, in this strange atmosphere, around the boats and the famous black net shops.

Even if Hastings beach is not the most beautiful beach you will ever see in your life, it is always nice to just sit on the pebbles, watch the sea, a stunning sunset and the silhouette of the old burnt down pier.

I really hope you enjoyed your stay in Hastings if you ever went there and I do really hope this article might convince at least a few people to come and spend some time in lovely Hastings ! 

jeudi 7 août 2014

(English article) Tips to travel in the UK on a budget

 I'm not going to lie, the idea of discovering every bit of the UK is one of the main reasons which motivated me to become a French language assistant. As I said in a previous article, the salary of an assistant allows you to live and to travel.

It is obvious that you won't be able to afford a night in one of the most luxurious hotels but here are a few tips for everyone travelling around the UK on a budget :

- Youth hostels will become your second home. Just double check them on TripAdvisor, and if the great majority of people are glad they stayed there, you'll be happy as well. Youth hostels are perfect to save money, of course you have to bear promiscuity but the atmosphere is always warm and friendly, and you can meet wonderful human beings from every corner of the globe.

Travel by train : The 16-25 rail card offers a 1/3 discount off your train tickets. It costs £30 a year and can be profitable very quickly if you often travel by train. 
Another tip is to buy advance tickets. They are available 12 weeks prior to departure and make it possible for you to get pleasant savings. To buy train tickets, you can use the National Rail official website. They don't sell tickets directly but will send you to another website with the most interesting fares. There are also independant resellers like thetrainline, but my advice would be to avoid this kind of website as they charge you a fee for every booking (up to £1,5 per ticket)

If you are rather patient and if you are lucky enough not to be coach-sick, you can travel by bus, which is the cheapest way. I have never tried them myself but I have always heard good reviews about companies like National Express or Megabus.

- Let's talk about visits now. One of the strong points I love about London and the UK in general is the fact that most museums are completely free : such as the British Museum, National Gallery or the Natural History Museum. I would particularly recommend the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Don't forget that the best way to discover a city is to stroll and wander about, and fortunately, this little pleasure is definitely free.

(English AND French article) Where I've been

Après 8 mois passés au Royaume-Uni, voici un petit bilan des villes et régions que j'ai visitées jusqu'à présent. Des articles détaillés suivront pour chaque destination.

After 8 months in the UK, here is a little summary of cities and regions I have visited so far. Detailed articles for each destination will follow later on.

  • Brighton 
  • Bexhill-on-Sea
  • Battle
  • 5 days in Devon
  • London 
  • Windsor
  • Canterbury
  • Rye 
  • 3 days in Edinburgh
  • 4 days in the Lake District
  • Cambridge 

J'aimerais bien visiter Liverpool, York et Whitby, mais le Nord de l'Angleterre n'est malheureusement pas facile d'accès lorsque l'on habite dans le sud-est, alors puisqu'il faut faire un choix, voici les endroits que je veux absolument visiter pendant la période octobre 2014 - mai 2015.

I'd like to visit Liverpool, York and Whitby but Northern England is unfortunately not the easiest and cheapest part of England to reach when you live in South-East England. Since a choice has to be made, here are the places I absolutely want to visit between october 2014 and may 2015.

  • Bath & Wells
  • Inverness
  • Isle of Skye
  • Oxford
  • Beachy Head & the Seven Sisters Country Park

Et vous, quelles destinations britanniques vous font rêver ?
What are your dream destinations in Britain ? 

(French article) Astuces pour voyager au Royaume-Uni sans trop dépenser

Je ne vais pas mentir, l'idée de découvrir chaque recoin du Royaume-Uni est une des principales motivations qui m'a poussée à devenir assistant de français. Comme je l'ai dit dans un article précédent, le salaire d'assistant permet largement de vivre au quotidien et de voyager.

Bien entendu, votre salaire ne vous permettra pas de passer des nuits dans les plus beaux palaces mais voici quelques astuces pour voyager on a budget au Royaume-Uni :

- Les auberges de jeunesse seront comme votre deuxième maison. Allez faire un petit tour TripAdvisor et si la grande majorité des gens ont été ravis de leur séjour, vous le serez aussi. Les auberges de jeunesse sont parfaites pour faire des économies, alors bien sûr il faut faire avec la promiscuité mais l'ambiance est toujours bonne, conviviale et on peut faire de merveilleuses rencontres, avec des personnes des quatre coins du monde. 

- Voyager en train : Une carte 16-25 déduit 1/3 du prix de votre billet. Elle coûte £30 par an et peut donc être très vite rentabilisée si vous voyagez souvent en train. 
Une autre astuce pour les voyages en train, achetez vos tickets en avance, advance tickets sont disponibles 12 semaines avant la date de votre départ et permettent de faire d'agréables économies. Entrez votre destination sur le site officiel National Rail, qui ne vend pas directement de tickets mais vous renverra sur les sites offrant les tarifs les plus intéressants. Il y a aussi des revendeurs indépendants comme thetrainline, que j'utilisais tout le temps avant car je trouvais ce site très pratique, mais qui charge £1,50 sur toute réservation, à éviter donc, puisqu'il y a d'autres alternatives

- Si vous êtes plutôt patients et surtout si vous avez la chance de ne pas avoir le mal des transports, vous pouvez voyager en bus. Je ne les ai jamais testées moi-même mais j'ai toujours entendu de bonnes critiques au sujet des compagnies National Express et Megabus.

- Parlons des visites maintenant : Un des gros points forts de Londres et du Royaume-Uni en général, est la gratuité des musées, comme le British Museum, la National Gallery ou bien encore Natural History Museum. Je conseille également le génial National Museum of Scotland, à Edimbourg.

Enfin, la meilleure façon pour découvrir une ville est encore de flâner dans ses rues, et ce petit plaisir est heureusement totalement gratuit.

mercredi 6 août 2014

L'assistanat au Royaume-Uni : Pourquoi et comment ? #2

  • Comment candidater  ?

Si vous êtes âgé de 20 à 35 ans et que vous avez validé au minimum une L2 alors vous aurez la joie de pouvoir déposer un dossier de candidature. Il y a tout d'abord une inscription en ligne, qui peut se faire dès le mois d'octobre. Vous aurez ensuite jusqu'au mois de janvier pour compléter votre dossier, dossier qui comprend notamment deux lettres de motivation, en français et en anglais. Le tout se fait en ligne. 

Une étape de ce dossier est tout particulièrement intéressante à remplir : le choix des régions. Dans votre dossier, vous avez le droit à trois voeux de régions. Les miens étaient :

  1. la région 3 - West & East Sussex, puisque j'espèrais aller à Brighton 
  2. la région 2, qui comprend entre autres l'Ile de Wight, qui m'attirait énormément
  3. la région 14 - Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk - puisque l'on est obligés de choisir une région se situant entre 12 et 22 (les régions les moins demandées, j'imagine ?)
  • L'attente interminable
Le premier e-mail arrive normalement au mois de mai. J'avais reçu le mien le 6 mai. Oui c'est très précis ... Je n'ai pas honte de le dire, je l'ai gardé précieusement dans ma boîte mail, car croyez-moi, après de longs mois d'attente, ce petit mail très bref, c'est un peu the Holy Grail. En revanche, une fois le mail arrivé, pas de suspense : à la lecture de l'objet, on sait déjà si on est sur liste principale ou sur liste d'attente ... Ce qui ne m'a pas empêchée d'ouvrir cet e-mail, encore fébrile, et de le lire, le relire, le relire et le relire encore ... juste pour être sûre. 
Le deuxième e-mail, provenant encore une fois du CIEP, comprend la région d'affectation. Il arrive fin mai/début juin. Le mien était arrivé le 30 mai. (Et oui, celui-là aussi je l'ai gardé, of course.) 

Le bonheur absolu de voir que l'on est affecté dans la région de son premier voeu. Le bonheur absolu, oui. Après de longs mois d'attente, le soulagement.
Et puis on relit ce mail et oh tiens, j'avais pas vu ce petit adverbe au milieu "J’ai le plaisir de vous informer que votre dossier a été affecté provisoirement dans un établissement scolaire de la région 3" et puis oh mais c'est quoi cette phrase juste en dessous "Nous vous rappelons qu’il est conseillé d’attendre d’avoir reçu une proposition de contrat pour considérer que votre affectation est définitive."

Retour à la case départ de l'angoisse, et sans même toucher 200€.

La délivrance finale dépendra de votre établissement. Vous pouvez être contacté entre juin et septembre. (Oui, il y a apparemment des établissements qui ne se rendent pas compte que déménager et s'installer dans un autre pays demande un minimum d'organisation et de temps.)
J'ai eu de la chance, j'ai reçu un mail de mon mentor teacher le 17 juin. (heureusement pour la touche F5 de mon clavier, un jour d'attente de plus et elle aurait sûrement rendu l'âme.)

Et c'est là que tout devient concret, et que l'aventure peut enfin commencer !