Saturday, 25 July 2009

Day 1

Day 1 of our staycation. Scott left town this morning, and I have determined we are going to start acting like we're on Summer vacation! Gave the boys the choice of 1) driving to Brighton to be at the seaside and find a fun new adventure, 2) Hever Castle's playground and water maze with picnic, or 3) go to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens to the Peter Pan Playground, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, etc. They enthusiastically decided "THE CITY!!!"
So we've made a picnic of hummus sandwiches, cucumbers, nuts and strawberries. Swimsuits and sand toys are packed. We've all had a shower and we're headed in! Good times ahead for all I'm sure!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

June 25th, 2009

I have this thing when I travel about “wandering around.” It annoys me. Walking forever with no particular destination searching for something, but who knows quite what. It sounds romantic, but usually I end up with sore feet, low blood sugar, and a really cranky disposition. It’s the stuff of epic marital fights. I’m anti-wandering around.

Today I laid in my bed after Scott went to work just relishing. The perfectly weighted covers. The luxurious pillows. The soft sheets. The gorgeous decor. Mostly just the entire morning stretched out before me with nowhere in particular I needed to be and no one in particular to look after except myself. A long shower. Time to pluck my eyebrows. Then onward--to wherever I wanted to go.

And you know it’s funny, but I found myself wandering around. Just walking with no particular destination. Searching...mmm, maybe for breakfast, but mostly for I don’t know what.

Before I knew it, I was standing the queue at Berthillon on Île Saint Louis. I had un double cornet de glace avec chocolat et café. Delicious. Then un baguette au jambon et au fromage from the guy with the Obama/Biden sticker on his counter. I ate my ice cream watching a couple practice yoga on the one of the little stone outcroppings along the Sienne. Now I am eating my sandwich and watching kiddos play on the playground behind the Notre Dame Cathedral.

It smells like cigarette smoke and kicked up dust and something in between soap and hairspray. I can hear the squeak of swings that need to be oiled and church bells and the high, whiney engines of scooters. The ting ting of bicycle bells and children’s squeals and the passionate sing-song of the French language being spoken all around me. I’m captivated. I want no other destination than this. I know the “something” I was searching for--this gorgeous and perfectly satisfying smorgasbord of humanity. Mmmmmmm...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

One of the lucky ones

There’s nothing like Paris. 9:30 arrival on the Eurostar. Packed and stinky metro ride then walk to the hotel. A passionate quickie. A shower. Change our clothes. Then head to the restaurant for dinner reservations at 10:30. Dinner is fabulous. Pink champagne and melon avec jambon. Sweet and salty lamb and then a glorious crème brûlée. Delicious for certain, but it’s the ambiance that really captures. It’s hard to believe it’s Wednesday night. Streets and cafes packed to the gils on a weeknight. The women in black eighties-style dresses, or jeans with soft and feminine white peasant tops. Fantastic bags and fancy flip-flops. The men with wild hair and trashy T-shirts. Worn out chucks or Euro-style black leather half-boots. Everyone is smoking and drinking Rosé. The pretty hostess gets an entire line of traffic to wait for her guests taxi, “Duex Minutes!” she signals and there’s nary a honk as she sends the guests on their way.

Everyone’s friends stop by and by the end of the meal the waitstaff are all smoking and drinking as they clear up. A huge table is put out front under the propane heaters and fills quickly with proprietors and customers and friends. I’m reminded why this has been such a hot bed of art and philosophy and writing. I wish my French was good enough to pull up a seat and join in the passionately laissez-faire exchange.

Instead we walk back to the hotel through an ancient church courtyard. My heals make a nice clop-clop accompaniment to the giggles and moans from the couple making out against the wall. Geraniums trail down from every window and some 20-something immigrants are playing football in the the empty market grounds. It’s 1 a.m. and cigarette butts litter the ground and revelers are starting home. Not quiet, by any means, but quieter. I feel fabulous in my black dress, but my feet are unaccostomed to heals. I fall into bed feeling like one of the lucky ones.

What a night.

Sunshine and Warmth

I wrote this blog entry on June 25th--right before temps went up into the high 70s/low 80s.  It was plenty hot--not nearly as hot as I love summer to get, but then again there’s no air conditioning either.  Plus the humidity adds to how hot it feels.  Suffice it to say I loved wearing my flops every day.  Last night at a neighborhood BBQ however, it was so cold I could see my breath.  Sigh...

I have a sunburn today.  A nice rosy glow which feels a bit like an admonishment and more than just a little ironic considering I don’t know what I was thinking.  Making assumptions most likely, and you know what assuming does.

It started to worry me when my English neighbors described the barely 70 degree weather as “hot.”  So I looked it up.  For England, that is hot.  Days in the high 70s are rare and it almost never gets up into the 80s.  

I was fit to be tied.  WHAT?!?!  WHAT?!?!  In their so called “hot” days I’m still wearing lambskin boots and wool sweaters--not to mention the down vest! I know it seems minor, and perhaps I am overreacting, but this Colorado girl has come to love her 300+ days of sunshine per year (here they measure it by the hour--God help me!).  I thought the last two summers by the pool were just about heaven.  It’s been tough.  It was just heating up when I left Denver this last visit. To return to the cool temps this side of the pond and learn it isn’t going to get any better?  It’s a bit much to bear.  Add to that the lingering feeling of coolness I have felt in my relationships and encounters with English people and well...I was having one of those weeks.

Saturday was the Warlingham Village Fair.  I wore a wool sweater and my down vest for crying out loud.  I was such a grump on the way there that Scott asked me if I maybe needed to go home until I could be sweet.  “NO!” was my ever-so-gracious reply.

The boys had a pony ride and won some plastic weaponry in the hook-a-plastic-Dalmatian game.  Then our neighbor Kelly ‘roped’ us into doing the tug-of-war.  A short while later we were stretched out on the grass chatting away like old friends with our fellow teammates.  The boys joined in quickly with their sons and daughters.  By the end of the day we had played badminton and even BASEBALL!! with our new friends in the park, got rained on, sustained a few injuries, and what do you know--got sunburnt.  

We’ve been to play again at Kelly’s this week.  Another sunny English day that saw the boys splashing in the paddling pool and having tea on the grass with their friends.  I woke up this morning with another sunburn.  A pink nose and a new perspective.  Maybe it’s not quite as cold here as I thought.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


A woman ought to be able to walk barefoot through her own effing house.  A house she regularly vacuums, I might add.  A woman ought to be able to run downstairs in the semi-darkness to collect stuffed animals for her young sons without fear of squishing her heal squarely on top of a nasty, slimy slug.  I don't care who you are, or what part of the world you live in--that ain't right.