I woke in Paris this morning with soft rain landing on the windowsill before it rushed into the gutter and dripped onto the street below, which made for a perfect excuse to be inside and writing, rather than feeling the guilt I’m often burdened with for not being outside and in the beautiful sunshine.
Yesterday, I made the trip back from London on the Eurostar which is the easiest two hour journey from one great city to another. London was fabulous as always and it was so wonderful to see faces I don’t often see and to talk a million miles an hour (something I don’t do too often here, my life in French is very different to my life in English).
It rained for the first two days in London causing my hair to stand on end in a fluffy mess and naturally, I was ill prepared for this and spent the first 48 hours in a perplexed state and quite often caught in the rain. One cabbie gently advised that perhaps I had brought the rain with me, because the week before had been ‘gorgeous – if you were at the ocean that is.’ London had experienced a heatwave like no other in the days leading into my visit, leaving the city blanketed in steam and hence, explaining the fluffy chicken style that my hair had adopted.
Tuesday night was spent with Steena, a very dear friend of our family who has lived in England for her entire adult life. Sitting around the kitchen table feasting on a home cooked meal (as I have with them so many times before) and reminiscing about the old days, we commented that nothing has changed, everyone just gets a year older and life seems to whistle by at an exponential rate leaving us wondering where on earth time actually goes. Her children are now complete grown ups who were aged between four and 12 when I first met them many years ago.
On Wednesday I met up with Tor who joined me on my recent trip to India and whose life has been spent between Melbourne and London (having lived for most of her childhood in London). And as an adult, her heart is torn between the two cities which is probably a nice problem to have. As we feasted on Cumberland sausages and mash at the Westbourne, we reminisced about the times spent there years earlier, in particular when I arrived in London all of 24 years old covered in bindies and with arms full of bangles after my first winter in the Indian Himalaya. My suitcase was full of bootleg whiskey and custom made pyjama suits and we laughed pretty hard about how times have changed, or have they? On Thursday we ate lunch at Thomas Cubbit just a short walk from Victoria Station, and laughed even harder with two of her great friends from school who are now Mums to three children each, which served as a reminder that things do change to a certain extent, but the memories remain as strong as they are fond.
The following afternoon I caught up with Georgie, who first met my oldest sister CC in the Kimberly in northern Australia in 1998 – my first year out of school and the year in which I made my maiden voyage to the Northern Hemisphere. I remember landing in London after that flight (built on extreme proportions of time), and feeling giddy and completely excited with it all. In the summer of 1998, I came to Paris for the first time with my best friend Skye. We didn’t really see much of the city of lights, rather, we ate snails and frogs legs in a caravan park well beyond the périphérique and I hold a vivid memory of chopping all of her beautiful blond locks off with nail scissors purchased at a pharmacy on the Champs Elysées, leaving her looking like a much shorter haired version of Cameron Diaz in that scene out of There’s Something About Mary.
Georgie has become a family member of sorts, having been a great friend to all the sisters and cousins throughout their travels to this side of the world and she is a joy to be around. Friday night saw another reuninion, this time with Harriet who I met during my ill fated Adelaide experience (another story for another day). Harriet was 19 when she arrived in Adelaide, fair skinned and ultimately English, and she is now 24 and working in her dream job in London. We share some very funny memories from our time in Adelaide, during what I can only describe as one of the greatest turning points in my life (and ultimately part of the reason I am free to pack up my life as I knew it and live in Paris aged 38) and as we sat at the bar of Kricket, a modern take on an Indian restaurant in the heart of Piccadilly, we wailed with laughter at some of our memories from that particular moment in time, and thanked the universe for delivering this day!
The morning has now passed along with the rain, and the sky is beginning to clear – the afternoon looks promising and as I type this, the sounds of the bells from Notre Dame chime in competition with the sirens screaming in the distance.
I was so excited when I turned up at Gare du Nord yesterday with my suitcase dragging alongside me and my feet not too far behind. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the handle on the aforementiond vessel for clothes has decided it wont pull up no matter how many times I try and tell it to do so, and it now lies in a dead and hopeless heap on the floor of the apartment and I’m at a loss as to work out how to dispose of it.
Dad arrives tomorrow which fills me with great excitement and there will be regular updates of our activités du jour! Until then, I’ve got a suitecase to dispose of and a stomach to fill- my detox lasted all of 12 hours and now all I can think of is a baguette filled with ham and cheese- nothing ever does really change.
After an action packed week away, it is really great to be ‘home.’
Pictured: Cold french champagne and oysters from Normandy enjoyed at Bibendum in Chelsea. Bibendum, commonly referred to in English as the Michelin Man, is the symbol of the Michelin tire company and, if I don’t get out for a walk sometime soon I will be one step closer to looking just like him.