WITH her family in the south of France and having spent a large part of her childhood in western Africa, Melanie Poussin says that living in Ireland the hot climate is the one thing that she misses.
“The weather is cold and wet all year round. There is no major difference between winter and summer, but it is part of the package. I wouldn’t trade the friendliness of Cork people for the weather,” Melanie says
Melanie compares the French unfavourably to the Irish. “I find the French rude and selfish in comparison to the Irish. The French have a lot to learn from Ireland,” she says.
Melanie likes to go for a sun holiday to get her vitamin D, but this summer she couldn’t go anywhere because of Covid-19 restrictions and that was difficult.
“Coming from the south of France, I miss the sun. I love how green the landscapes are here and how beautiful it is, but I wouldn’t mind having more sunny days during the year, especially in the summer,” Melanie says.
“I know that the rain and having four seasons in one day here is part of the package and I’m fine with it, but when I feel that my mood and my body need it, I usually go on holidays to get my dose of sun.
“It was a tough summer this year. We had good weather in April to May, but I found July to August very hard.”
Melanie has one brother, in France, and “my mother is from a Caribbean island and my father was a diplomat for the French government.
“He worked for years in western Africa, helping farmers there with water systems and irrigation.”
Melanie had been working with a trading-and-distribution company in Mallow for the past five years, but was made redundant just before the first lockdown.
Taking time to think about her next step, Melanie decided to change her career and do something that resonated with her.
“I became a mental health and wellbeing coach,” Melanie says. “I recently graduated from a course and am starting to take clients. I am still very green and learning about the job, about being self-employed and managing a business, but it’s an exciting journey and I am happy to have the opportunity to do something that I really like and that is helping people.”
Melanie also models, part-time. “I have been modelling for three years. I started freelancing first, to build confidence, and then I signed with an agency.
“I have done shoots for clothing and cosmetics companies and I have been on the RTÉ Today Show a number of times.”
Melanie finds it empowering. “It was a big shift in my life. I’m glad I started doing it.”
The 29-year-old, who lives in Blarney with her boyfriend of two years, Karlo, hits the gym up to five times a week. “I love the gym. It is very social. I met my boyfriend, Karlo, in the gym,” Melanie says.
Pre-Covid-19, Melanie also volunteered with the Irish Guide Dogs and for the past six years she has been a part of the Cork City Samba Band.
“I volunteered at the Model Farm Road kennels, keeping the dogs company in the evening, making sure they had some play time and socialising.
“I always like doing something outside my job. I want to have activities to do, and I always wanted a dog, which you can’t really have while renting.”
In the samba band, Melanie plays a wide range of percussion instruments. “It’s samba rhythm with an Irish twist,” Melanie says. “Big drums, little bells, tambourine, we switch it around so everyone has a chance to play everything. We even include Irish singing and dancing, sometimes.”
The band are very easy-going. “I joined six years ago. I had never played an instrument and just asked if I could join. I came along to a few training evenings and got on well. I always loved rhythm and dancing, as well.”
Melanie says the Cork City Samba Band normally performs at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival and that was something she missed this year. “There is a real social element to it. It’s a fun club. I’ve made a lot of friends there.”
Level 5 has been tough for Melanie, who says she is sick of Netflix from the first lockdown and has since moved onto books. “I think reading fiction is good for the brain. I am also reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. It is very good.”
Melanie misses heading out for hikes and coastal walks, but says she is lucky to be living in Blarney, which is surrounded by green walks.
Melanie would like to travel more, but sees herself having a base here in Ireland.
“I would love to discover other places. My parents were moving a lot as I was a kid, so I think I got the taste for travel from them and I’d love to give that sense to my kids when I have children,” Melanie says. “But I probably would like to have a base here, as it is for me a safe place and it feels like home.
“At least, I’d still be able to run back here if I can’t find the friendliness of the Irish anywhere else.”