Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ready, Steady...

Back in the city of lights after a very relaxing and enjoyable Christmas with my family. I have heard that going back to your childhood home makes you more child-like, I've certainly found that in the past, but this time I felt much more of an adult. I can't really explain it, perhaps it's the fact that my 30th is literally days away, but this Christmas I've been able to shake off the childish behaviour that usually arises in me when I step onto the thick beige carpet of my parents' house. Perhaps my parents would totally disagree...

So now it's on to packing for Cuba, we leave in two days. The photo is just a tiny sample of the various lotions and potions we're packing in, even though Cuba is supposed to be one of the best countries for health care in the world. The main things I'm concerned about are the mosquitos (a strain of Dengue fever was reported a few months ago) and sleeping properly. I read that Gloria Hunniford takes a herbal sleep remedy called valerina, so I was persuaded and put a packet in my Boots basket. Now if the salsa dancing gets a bit too frenetic I can retire to my room and arm myself with my spongy earplugs and a tablet or two of homeopathic valerina.

G bought a new video camera with his Christmas money, so we'll be taking plenty of films during our trip, I'll try to put some of them on here when we get back on the 15th.

For now it's time for one last slap up dinner with G's family and then it's a very quiet New Year's Eve for us, before taking the plane on Monday morning.

Check out L's blog for her pursuits in Hong Kong, it seems to be going pretty well for her.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Home Time

It feels weird, like the last day of school, except that it's not hot, I haven't done any exams and my school tie isn't wrapped around my head like a bandana. The fact is that I have done my last day of work until 17th January! Tomorrow G and I are heading off to England for Christmas. I'm staying a week and he's back in Paris for Christmas Eve to be with his family.

Reading the news I'm hoping that we'll manage to actually get back to England, and not find ourselves in some scene of tragedy waiting in an airport for hours on end. I think if our flight is cancelled we'll go on the Eurostar, those guys must be rubbing their hands together in joy that so many flights have been grounded by the fog.

What I find rather bizarre is that flights from Heathrow have been cancelled, yet flights to Gatwick are supposedly unaffected. Surely the two airports are not that far from each other? I've been looking at various sites and it seems that if we'd booked a flight from Paris to Heathrow we'd definitely have been cancelled. As it is, the low budget is alarmingly news-free, so I honestly can't say if tomorrow will be smooth or choppy runnings.

At least I'm pretty sure that one way or another we'll get to the UK before Christmas. I really can't wait, it's been nearly 5 months since I've been home. I'm starting to crave Lemsips, Johnson's baby powder and yorkshire pudding, although clearly not on the same plate...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Of Those Days


Today was one of those days. Over the course of the day I:

1. Woke up 50 minutes late
2. Hauled a guitar on buses,and métros across Paris no less than four times
3. Arrived at work only to find my 9am appointment had been cancelled
4. Schlepped (can a British girl say that?) over to Asnières sur Seine to sing Christmas Carols
5. ... in a company meeting room with 10 French people and 2 other English-speaking people
6. Consumed only 1 banana and 2 slices of Christmas cake
7. Thought about how much I'd like to be in Hong Kong having aromatic crispy duck with pancakes and Tsingtao beer with L

I know it could be much, much worse, but right now it feels like I've been to the front line and back.

I've just made and put away a delicious spaghetti bolognaise, or al ragù as my Italian friend S says. I've rested and watched some very exciting series on tv and now, with a chapter or so of my book ahead of me, I'm feeling a lot more human again.

Time to set my alarm clock properly now...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fly Me to the Moon!

There are only a few weeks to go before our trip to Cuba and I'm getting very excited! I've been hearing lots of different opinions about the place and extremely conflicting advice. Some people say not to hire a car, others say it's the best thing. Some say people don't ask for money in the street and others say that it's constant. Strange. I've never set off for a country that I know so little about really. Reading wikipedia's Cuba article and doing other bits and pieces of research on the net has helped, but I still feel remarkably unready. I've never been inside a communist country. My visit to Poland in 1997 is probably as close as it gets, but the iron curtain had been officially lifted well before that.

With L gone now, I need something to look forward to, and of course I do appreciate how great it is to be able to go on holiday in January when most people in the western world are trudging through snow or rain on their way to work after the festivities have calmed and the turkey has been digested.

G and I are secretly hoping that during our holiday in Cuba there will be some kind of historical event. It is unclear for the moment if Fidel Castro is alive or dead and if he chooses the first two weeks of January to 'pass on' then we're sure to experience a very important political event.

In my scrupulous research I've discovered that there are no McDonald's on the island of Cuba except on the US-owned military base of Guantanamo Bay. Apparently detainees of Guantanamo are allowed treats of happy meals, filet-o-fish and other delights as a reward for good behaviour. I'm not even going to go into the sickness that must live in the mind of man who eats that stuff as a reward. For more cheesy, greasy facts take a look here.

In Cuba there are also no Starbuck's, no Disney and no Gap. It's going to be a surreal but fantastic experience, I can't wait. As long as there are mojitos.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


My fabulous friend L (one of us in the picture from June 21st - fête de la musique) is leaving for Hong Kong in just over a week and we had her leaving party last night. We took the métro over to her neighbourhood in the 17th arrondissement past the Place de Clichy, where I used to live with her in the first months of my Paris life. The neon lights, queues of people and the big Wepler brasserie, even though I've been there since living with her, brought back memories of late Friday nights at Corcoran's Irish pub, and karaoke extravaganzas at l'Epoque. All her friends were there and the party was a great chance to have a fun and laughter-filled evening. The atmosphere was not sad or gloomy, people danced, chatted and L's new beginning was truly baptised with endless bottles of champagne. I wrote a song for her, changing the words from Jolene to her name, and she enjoyed it. My guitar playing is rusty to say the least, but let's hope that the people listening were thinking that 'it's the thought that counts'!

So her French adventure has come to an end now, adult life really is about accepting that people move on. She has a fantastic career opportunity and is taking it with all her might. I know that I'll be able to visit in the future and she'll come back for trips to Europe from time to time, but for the best part of 11 years we have lived either in the same apartment or in the same town, be it at university or in Paris, and there is going to be a clear, L-shaped hole in my life now.