From Bali to NYC to London to Puglia and the South of France
So far so eclectic and delicious. Special mention to my friend E who ate chicken feet with me at Dim Sum, I only know 2 other people who would eat those with me! No they are not disgusting, yes it’s a lot of effort for not that much really. Special mention as well to my friend P who spoilt us with 3 courses of Ottolenghi food.
Continuing on from the Eurostar post, I thought I would stick to the “England-France” theme by talking about how two of my favourite things represent both sides of the Channel or one could say both sides of me.
Meet my cousin Billy, me and Lana Banana, i.e. my naughty little sister on a beach in Cornwall circa 1990 painted by my aunt Sandie.
This picture represents my dad’s side, painted by his sister on one of our holidays spent in England visiting him. It represents England, typical English beach holidays playing in rock pools on beaches where it’s never really that hot (let’s be honest). As it was painted by my aunt, my “arty”, cool aunt, it represents the “A” side in me, not just my surname but the open minded, strong, “London” side of me. It represents all those years travelling between 2 countries, CDG, LHR, CDG, LHR, CDG, LHR and finally Gare du nord, Waterloo etc…I still bloody spend my time travelling between both countries and still think about it every single time I step foot in Heathrow, every single time. On the other hand, this also represents the “old” yet young me. I’m not sure you can tell but I look slightly apprehensive in the picture, Banana looks ready to jump in with both feet, being the sensible one, it looks like I was doing a risk assessment! There will always be a little bit of the older, responsible risk adverse little girl in me but things have changed.
Meet my good old blue Le Creuset pot. I use this probably at least 5 times a week. This represents the French side in me and my mum. I inherited my love of cooking from her and remember watching her use her brown one (she still has it!) time and time again. Food, glorious food, especially French food now that makes me happy!
This pot was bought about 9 years ago and it has lived in 4 flats with me so far and I intend on using it forever. I guess it represents the “grown up” me, the independent me who left France for a new life in London and who now cooks for herself and for others with great pleasure (my husband is lucky!). What brings me the most pleasure however, is being cooked for by my mum, maman. I love going back to the little girl in the painting who always ate everything on her plate. Probably not the best strategy for “la ligne” but I am definitely one of those people who lives to eat and is learning to live life to the full more and more each year. I intend on jumping into many more rock pools in the years to come, I’ll always assess the risk but now I know risks are worth taking.
The Eurostar really is the story of my life, England and France, France and England.
I remember the first time I took the eurostar with my sister, leaving my mum in France to go and visit our dad in England. we used to go to Heathrow wearing the UM bags around our necks, many a divorced multi national child with remember them
The worst trip ever was the one with me crying the whole way after breaking up with a guy I thought was the love of my life (very handsome, sexy, cool and charming French heart breaker)sat next to a 20 year old American, he didn’t even offer me a tissue. Nearly put me off Americans for life…A Frenchman broke my heart but a Frenchman would have consoled me. This was after one of the craziest few days of my life when I went to Biarritz with said French heartbreaker, definitely a blog post for another time.
Second worst trip, the time I got stuck on the train in the freezing cold for 9 hours with only water and some shortbread. The wait for a taxi is freezing gare du nord at 2 AM when we arrived was even worse. Finally got to my hotel at 4AM and couldn’t go to sleep as my feet was soooo cold.
The trip I took when I moved to London to go to university, it really was the beginning of the rest of my life with the biggest suitcase I could find. The Trip back from business meetings in Brussels when we got drunk on gin and tonic and were sat next to a dad and his 2 kids, it seemed the dad had clearly realised he didn’t like “mummies” at some point. The look on my colleague’s face when he spilt his drink on his trousers and started “helpfully” cleaning up, never seen anybody tell someone “don’t worry, REALLY don’t worry”
The Trip I took with my Granny when she asked for “a drink” at 9 AM and they would not give her anything stronger than orange juice.
The Eurostar is full of people off for romantic weekends, dirty weekends, groups of middle aged people who I am sure live in houses full of John Lewis furniture , the women wearing M&S clothes, the men dreading the whole thing (Paris equals shopping) and the fact you can’t get a good cup of tea or pint of bitter in Paris. They are always the ones having champagne in the morning.
The Japanaee tourists about to get severely disappointed when they get to Paris and realise everyone is rude and ripping them off.
My Favourite trip was when I was sat with an American family on their way to Paris. Their son ( he looked like the kid in Jerry McGuire) was asking them some questions about the train that they did not know the answer to. Back in the summer of 2002, I worked for Eurostar so I knew the answers to some of his questions and basically butted in to their conversation. The next 2 hours were some of the most entertaining and interesting hours of my life. I taught him some French words made his day as I was the first “adult” he had met who did not have a driving license (they were from Arizona), he really could not get his little genius of a head round that. I quickly realised this was not just any odd kid, a really genius. His mum ( well mom actually) told me I would make a great nanny and was grateful for the 2 hour break I had given her as apparently he asks questions all day every day). He even seemed to get what I was telling him about benchmark data as he wanted to know what the presentation I was working on was about. I wanted to be his friend forever, he was great. His mum wanted me to stay forever because I am great 🙂
I still think my best trip is yet to come , the one where I’m neither crying neither going to Paris for work.
In the meantime, here are some of my favourite Eurostar adverts
I stuck to The 4 Cs for about 99% of the time during January and here is what I learnt. No chocolate was the hardest, I did not realise that I was basically addicted to chocolate and had a “post dinner habit” that was hard to give up. On February the 1st, I had chocolate for breakfast, which tells you how excited I was to be done with the resolutions! I considered switching to dark chocolate going forward but I just love milk chocolate, I won’t be eating it every day anymore and have now decided to “invest” in expensive chocolate so I eat less of it!
http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/london/dining/Scarfes-BarNot buying any clothes was the second hardest resolution to stick to, I was horrified to realise how much time (not so much the money) I spent in shops, on websites filling baskets with things I never intended on buying and yet I am not the most stylish or well dressed person. Again, like after dinner chocolate, it was more of a habit than anything. It also made me realise I need more hobbies to fill the time, the other thing I realised was how conducive loving in London is to consumerism. During a weekend in France I disconnected from London life and relished in not going to any shops, thinking about buying things etc.
No cocktails (or any other alcohol for that matter) was reassuringly not that hard except towars the end when I went to a girls dinner and missed out on champagne 😦 I never drink alone anyway so it wasn’t that hard but it really is a shame to go to a great bar ( such as my new favourite Scarfes bar at the Rosewood hotel)
Drinking diet coke somewhere that nice is just not RIGHT, nor is having a girlie dinner without wine or a being spoilt with Ottolenghi food and not being able to drink the accompanying champagne and wine.
so yes, I am a social drinker and intend on keeping it like that.
The last one was no cake, this was the easiest but the only one I failed at! Indeed I had some “galette des rois” on day 6 😦
January told me one last thing….the downside of having a blog…
Indeed when you have a blog and go for dinner with someone who reads your blog and you tell them something, they respond with “I know, I read that on your blog” so no, I’m going to write about what I did this weekend!
I wonder about the 3 school girls , I come across nearly daily on my way to the bus stop. All 3 seem to be about 12.
The one I most familiar with is called India, I know this because I saw her name on one of her school bags once, her dad is from India and is a lawyer, I know this because I saw one of his firm’s corporate bags once. They live in the expensive building just above the bus stop, he takes her to school every day. Her dad never wears a coat, he is super stylish and the closest he comes to wearing a coat is a “uniqlo”style down jacket under his suit jacket. He has very good hair. I saw him and his wife waiting outside their building last summer, off somewhere in cab, she is a beautiful blond. It’s highly likely their daughter is going to turn out very beautiful, very well educated and privileged. I wonder if her mums works, if not, does she leave for work super early or later and that’s why the dad takes India to school? I wonder if they live on the top floor of the building. I wonder if she will end up working in the City like her dad when she is older. I wonder if they go skiing.
The second girl, passes me by me on our street nearly everyday. She walks to school alone, she doesn’t go to the same school as India, nobody walks to school with her. I wonder why she walks to school alone. I wonder where she lives. I wonder if does well at school. I wonder what her dreams are. I wonder what she thinks when she see me, the lady in the red coat. Does she wonder where I work? Or does she simply wonder why I glance at her every morning.
The third girl walks to school with her mum. Her mum seems on a mission, tiger mum style. I get the impression girl number 3 has a lot of chores to do, she seems very serious. I wonder if her mum goes off to work or home after she drops girl 3 off. I wonder if girl number 3 goes to the same school as girl number 2.
I wonder if these girls are prepared for the world, for all the choices they will have to make and especially I wonder if they are ready for boys. If they are not, I would like them to know love is great but teenage boys can also be summed by this: