Monday, December 29, 2008

A look back

In a blatant act of plagiarism I would like to take a look back over a year in the life of Paris lights, and I'm sure Lola won't mind too much...

The new year gets off to a great start in NYC, with a St Sylvester spent on a Hell's Kitchen rooftop, amid much champagne and fireworks.
A 31st birthday follows, still on the NYC theme, with a cocktail evening. G's birthday also falls this month, and a surprise trip to see him in Chablis is thwarted by his unexpected return to Paris, and a fantastic meal at Le Trou Gascon rounds off the day.

Return to normal working days with a vengeance, and I apply to begin working part-time in March. Application is successful and I begin researching independent business law in France - crazy wild child that I am. Valentine's goes by unnoticed.
Bonnie our choir director announces that she's leaving us in September for a year in Cambodia. Panic ensues then new directors climb aboard.

Spring brings with it work, work, work, but for no money as yet. Lots of paperwork, no invoices made as yet... Officially begin 3-day teaching week and love the extra time to do my own thing, even if it does involve trips to the URSSAF.
My sister asks me to be Chloe's godmother for her christening in May, I accept very gladly and begin to wonder about the responsibilities that go with it. Trip to Lyon to visit friends from Paris, cold and rainy in Lyon but the quenelles were delicious.

The Mumblers' drummer decides that enough is enough and I agree wholeheartedly. Secretly quite glad of a chance to stop the group while things are going well.
Make internal promise to self to go to Chablis more often.

Trip to Ile de Ré and Bordeaux with G, five tranquil days together away from hustle and bustle of city. Hire bikes, go wine tasting, spend really lovely holiday.
Day trip on train and coach to one of France's dullest cities, Clermont Ferrand, for 1 day of practice and a concert.
Another short trip to the UK for my niece's christening where I play the only slightly demanding but highly prized role of Godmother.
High excitement as first two translation jobs come in.
Second holiday of the month; a week in Provence with niece, sister, brother-in-law, auntie, uncle, mum, dad, grandma, and brother-in-law's parents. Stay in beautiful house owned by an ex-student of mine, and current friend of my parents.

Work begins coming in thick and fast and I can't quite believe that my first client payment comes through. Great joy in seeing those first figures appear in my brand new professional bank account.
Mumblers gig for a wedding celebration that seemed to fall rather flat; hesitant guests attempting to eat their foie gras while we rock on to Tina Turner and the Beatles... We do our final gig for the Fête de la musique 2008, with a 100-strong street audience and I feel glad to put down the mic for a few months at least.
A visit from the parents is much enjoyed, with a vélib experience and dinner at the fabulous Hélène Darroze restaurant.

Highlight of the year is a trip to Anguilla for an epicurean week of gastronomic delights. Six chefs and six wine producers (including G) are invited for a week of cooking and drinking for overly wealthy Brits and Americans. We spend an incredible week in lap of luxury enjoying 5-course meals by candlelight in the company of entrepreneurs, business directors, horse-owners and New York lawyers. We enjoy 4 days of diving on wrecks, reefs and in currents, I come home with an ear infection and a burning desire for plain pasta with grated cheese.

3 weeks vacation is imposed on me in August, that I use to spend time in our new house in Chablis. Restoration and building works are finished and we concentrate on picking out rugs, curtains and coffee tables. Translation business booms and I try to balance that and spending time with G in our country enclave. A visit from my sister and her family is blessed with beautiful sunshine and a memorable sun-soaked dip in G's uncle's pool.
Spoiled again with a trip to the UK for a great friend's wedding, and a trip to Warsaw with my parents. Very interesting city with a beautiful old town and fascinating communist bloc-style architecture in the new town.

After a brief but extremely enjoyable trip to Stockholm for a wine fair, it's back to work with a vengeance in the autumn as the rentrée takes up all my energy.

Lots of jetting about this month as there are two weddings to go to. One in London that requires a simple Eurostar trip, but another in Boston. I have a highly lucky and much appreciated business-class flight to the States on standby, that is (again, very luckily) repeated for the return journey. Both weddings absolutely stunning, with beautiful brides and colourful confetti all round.

Work goes into overdrive and spend many evenings burning the midnight oil to meet translation deadlines and still get up to go teaching three days a week.
Two bank holidays whizz by and I take a short trip to the UK to visit family in Yorkshire.
G takes a trip to Singapore, Australia and India, dodging the bullets at the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai by 7 days. His 3-week trip is cut down to 2 weeks and he plans to return in early December rather than mid-December. I spend inappropriate amounts of time watching the news for any information that might make him come back sooner.

The first real winter month arrives with a cold bite and swallows up all my time and before I know it, I'm finishing work for Christmas. Credit crunch begins to be old news and there is a severe lack of festivities in Paris. No office Christmas party this year, and everyone is highly concerned about the recession that is sure to arrive in 2009.
Christmas is spent with G for the first time, and in Doncaster with my parents and grandma. Regular visits to see my little niece, who is now talking in word groups of 2 or 3, and is cuter than ever.

Then on 1st Jan 2009 I set off for Hong Kong to visit the lovely Lola....

Monday, December 15, 2008


Well, it came upon me later than I expected. Usually it hits me around December 4th or 5th with an obligatory carol concert or some mince-pie extravaganza at work.
This year it hit me this evening as I was walking home from the métro. In the very far off distance, I noticed the Eiffel tower flashing, (3 seconds is enough, that's all it does...) then I noticed the fairy lights at my local café, and then snowballs and santa claus lights that had been strung up around Vincennes. It was really beautiful, and something in the crisp, cold, late evening air made me feel really Christmassy.

I actually only have two more official working days left in 2008, and I wasn't feeling particularly festive, but now I am, and the desire to put up baubles and tinsel is overwhelming. I definitely have to embrace my Englishness tomorrow and go out and buy Christmas cards. Just to push the planet into even more danger, but ensure the avoidance of family wrath...

Better get off to the post office and bulk buy some timbres...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I was walking through the incredibly busy St Lazare métro station today and I noticed something about Parisian women. If they are aged between about 40 and 50, they carry two handbags. I have no idea why. Neither of these two bags are ever large or practical and I'm not talking about laptop cases.

They carry one in one hand, and one over the shoulder, but neither of them contain enough stuff to warrant actually carrying two bags. They could simply take a medium-sized bag, I just don't understand it. Could it be that they need one black bag and one coloured bag to match their outfit? I don't know.

Unfortunately these bags are never very discreet either, and more than once I have been jolted in the chest by a Lancel monstrosity whilst trying to keep my balance on an over-loaded métro.

I'm definitely more of a stuff-it-all-in kind of girl, and try to carry as little as possible.

Or maybe it's because I can't afford Louis Vuitton...