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It’s my last weekend up here, my train tickets are booked on Wednesday to take me from Aime la Plagne back to St. Pancras and thence home.  According to one of the skiing news Email systems I’m signed up to we’re forecast a metre of snow this weekend so I think we’re going to need more of this:

View below me, a week ago (1.xii.18)

That was a corner I took very carefully yesterday on Cerise going down to the shop in Plagne Centre probably for my last time in 2018.  The road was a mixture of slush, meltwater but also rock hard ice and snow on bits in shadow (not that particular corner, but the slush was treacherous enough!)  London is going to be very different.

It seems time for a bit appraisal of the adventure so far.  I’ve been out here:
9.vi.18 to 24.vi.18
16.vii.18 to 14.ix.18
8.x.18 to now
So when I get back to London on Wednesday night I’ll have accrued 140 of the 183 days in France that I’d like to get in before Brexit day on 29.iii.19 (is there a real hope looming that we might yet not Brexit?   Down, down dangerous hope! Back to the point.)  So what have I achieved apart from the, nearly, 140 days?!  What marks have I laid down in the snow?

My tracks on the terrace

Oh dear, they’re pretty much invisible aren’t they?  They’re my tracks in pristine snow, that was already several layers’ worth, chronologically, out on the terrace alongside the apartment here a few days ago. The snow out there has ebbed and flowed over the last few weeks but never disappeared and is now about a metre deep across much of the terrace and I’d want salopettes (waterproof ski trousers) as well as my beloved winter walking boots to go out there now.

Maybe that’s not a bad metaphor: hard to see tracks, comings and goings superimposed (I like to tread in the same marks both ways) and themselves superimposed on layers with only the most recent visible.

  • Well, I have done a lot of work.  Since I came back out here I’ve worked 80 hour weeks and I have achieved things.  Not as much as I wanted of course, very few things are “finished”. 
  • Actually, I think I’m a bit more realistic now about managing things when many of my projects and collaborations aren’t ones with clear “finished” points on them.  I have nearly finished a few that are finishable (WordPress doesn’t think that’s a word, it may have a point).  Wow, I really don’t think I have completely finished any. That gets depressing at times. 
  • I have realised how depressed and angry I get when I feel that my volunteer labour is taken for granted or exploited and put a stop to some of that and set better and firmer agreements in place for some others.  Work still to go there, much, but real progress that. 
  • I have set up an IT infrastructure that is working much better and is much more robust than the one I had six months ago. More work to do there but it’s doable, it’s not dangerously overdue, and I know what it is: great!  

Time for a diversion …

Small stepping snoeshow steps below me 5.xii.18

It did seem time for a break from this self-centred list making.  I was amused a few days ago, looking over the edge of the terrace to the south to see three different human tracks clear in the snow below me.  I’ve got a pair of snowshoes here and you really can’t take long strides in them, in many ways it would completely undo their design if you did, but those do look very small paces but they’re definitely someone on snowshoes.  I’ll come back to that another time.  Back to the list

  • The penultimate work point is that I am getting better at using R (www.r-project.org) my chosen statistics system.  I’ve managed some pretty challenging bits of work around complex data and I’m getting my head around a number of rather different statistical areas that seem to be pertinent to the work I’m doing.  I’m gradually understanding some of the ways R has evolved in the last ten years particularly and learning to use the good stuff and not keep recycling my old code.  There’s a way to go on this, it’ll probably take most of next year but it’s coming along.
  • The final work thing is that I think I can finally feel a clear turning point from finishing off, or nudging along, a lot of existing projects to integrating the whole and moving on to some of my long shelved ideas. That too is certainly going to take all of 2019: it’s more a huge bend than a turning point, but I’m moving around it.  At last!

OK.  More tracks:

Cross-country ski tracks 1.xii.18

Now that’s a very different way of getting around on snow: cross-country skiing, I think going from left to right up the slope with most force on the downhill pole below the ski tracks.  Next year I really will dig out both my snowshoes and my old, but I think still perfectly serviceable, cross-country skis!

Where have I got myself over these months, moving beyond the work?

  • é<I haven’t really improved my French at all but I think I am a little less anxious about it and just dive in.  The down side of that is that people rattle back to me overestimating my comprehension hugely.  Work to do there!
  • I’m much clearer about what I need to do on the anti-Brexit, pro-European front. The hurdles when I come back are to present myself with one bunch of documentation at the CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) to ask for my Carte Vitale which, while we’re still in the EU, gets me French government subsidy for health costs.  I have to go to Moutiers, a town a couple of stops south of Aime on the train. That’ll need evidence that I’m not about to be a gross cost to the French and it enables me to get cheap health insurance.  With those two I can move to the next stage and apply for a temporary Carte de Séjour (EU). That involves more documents including my birth certificate and an approved translation of that and a bunch of other stuff and involves going to the préfecture which I’m still trying to locate but I think it’s in Albertville, Chambéry or maybe Annecy.    Before the crunch actual exit date, I move through that lot to start doing tax returns in France (aargh!), I think register as a micro/auto-entrepreneur and get my permanent (five year renewable) 
    Carte de Séjour and then move on, at the five year mark, to apply for dual nationality.  I’m pretty sure that no-one knows how the Brexit debacle will affect all this but at least I know the broad route map if things stay broadly as they are now.  That’s progress!
  • Finally, and slowest and the tracks that are mostly beneath the snow: I think I’m a little clearer about who this semigrating, no longer clinical, autonomous researching person is.  But that’s work in progress.

OK.  I’ll finish with a few more tracks.

Skidoo tracks 1.xii.18

Now that’s something I don’t have and don’t feel any need to have one!

Alpine chough tracks outside the door on the terrace 1.xii.18
Ditto.

Enough already!

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