Saturday, 12 September 2009

Back to the Road Bike

Firstly, apologies for my blog yesterday - the feel good factor most certainly got the better of me and I have a certain embarrassment attached to my statement. Still life goes on and one has to live with one's errors.

So today it was back to the road bike - a good number of months with very little pedaling so as always ' le reprise' as they say here is most definitely TOUGH. One of my French bike colleagues explained to me that road bike riding was a bit like having a mistress - if you ignore here for just a few weeks; when you go back to her she really punishes you. Today was a short ride 65 cliks and very enjoyable but I have maintained a certain level of fitness via my foil-board riding, so less difficult for me than some of the other guys who were really struggling towards the end.

In my come back plan I'll be out again on wednesday for a short ride of 30kms doing intervals and then 70kms next saturday on the Mountain bike - the weekend after is a serious 35km hill climb in the Cevennes followed by a support morning for a lady who is participating in the 100Km Milleau run - yes that's right a 60 mile run!! I will be supporting her with food and soup and stuff like that - no massages planned in the schedule but hey who knows... Its an easy ride that one as the pace is at a marathon jog of fast walk towards the end. Well that is the top and bottom of it for today so catch you later.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The gift of gifted hands

Well I've never been one to gloat or blow my own trumpet but I am just about to change all that. It's great being reserved and modest but heck (to coin an American phrase) sometimes you gotta just say it how it is. I'm feeling pretty fantastic today and the reason is I know that I am good with my hands, yes you heard it here first. No sexual innuendos implied of course. I'm shooting my own trumpet today because what ever I touch either looks good or works very efficiently. This is a great realisation for me - I've never lacked confidence before however, the feelgood factor when you make such a statement and know (believe) that is 110% true is GREA................T.

Well it's short and sweet today - lots to do and lots of things to make beautiful. On the flip side - I just repaired our old NewBeetle electric window and it works a treat so I was pleased, I don't like working on cars that much as I always cut my fingers to shreds.............aghhhhhhh Cars. Money, money, money - try to save a few bucks and at the end of the day it would have been cheaper to drop it into the garage - it must be a rich mans world.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My world of Polished Plaster

Hey this is a 2m x 1.2m Bamboo in Orange art piece that I have just completed this weekend. Hope it gives you a flavor of the kinds of things I am producing. So time moves on at a rapid rate of knots and professions change with the wind it would seem - well not quite but to keep ones head above the water one has to go with the flow, so as to speak. This is the beginning of my 5th year in Montpellier and whilst it has been challenging it has been very rewarding living here.

Upon arrival in the sunny Languedoc region of l'Herault I new only three people - my wife, my son and my trusty friend Laurent Ness; Kitesurfing buddy and great ally in times of loosing the plot (thanks Laurent for being there for me).

During my initial search for work I was under the illusion that it would not be very difficult to find something to do here for a multi-faceted guy like myself. WRONG so WRONG!! As a design professional I thought it would be a cinch to find a French company looking to develop their portfolio and work with British clients and these companies exist without any doubt the only problem - French Employment Law what a night mare. Let me explain...

France as a Socialist Nation (regardless of political leaning) has some very ridiculous employment laws and as a result companies refuse the take any unnecessary risks when engaging people on business ventures. For example - if I were to travel to Lyon for a job I would have to have a work contract for two reasons: Firstly to know that I was going to be paid at the end of the month and secondly, to secure a flat or lodging the estate agent/proprietor will only rent property to people who have an CDI work contract - Full Time Contract. If you have a one year contract it is much more difficult to secure a flat but it is possible however, if you don't have a contract your basically 'up the creek without a Paddle!'. This is not too complex I hear you thinking and rightly so but the work contracts here come in 3 flavours:

CDI Contrat Durée Indeterminé = Open Contract of Engagement without Limit
CDD Contrat Durée Determiné = Fixed Term Contract of Engagement (6 months etc)
FreeLance - Limited to 3 months only after that you have to have a contract
Casual Labour - working via a third party employment agency for taxation reason
Undeclared Casual - Paid cash and undeclared to the state

If you secure a job everyone insists upon a CDI but the company who offer the contract then become stuck with that employee regardless of their working capacity. As a result most companies are scared shitless to take people on if they don't have a recommendation from someone they know and trust plus even then there is no guarantee. It has become a very closed market and if you don't have a good network of contacts the likelihood of getting a long term job is slight if not impossible to attain - in my experience.

So you have to work for yourself... There's no option on that front!!!

Is it complex starting your own business here...? I'll tell you more about that next time much to say that you have to be prepared to tolerate so much unnecessary paperwork and so many jack-ass functionary employees, who don't really know why they are employed by the state but just pitch up to collect a pay-cheque at the end of the month. But hey on the flip-side we are in France