Recently in Reflections Category

Lady of the 5th

A voluptuous blonde in her late fifties walked into Franprix, the local supermarket, and said a husky "bonjour". 

Everyone, EVERYONE, turned around to look.

As many times as I've heard people say "bonjour" when they enter a doctors waiting room in this country, I've never heard someone utter "bonjour" when they enter a supermarket. 

Who was she saying hello to? 
This was a lady who was used to being noticed.

The woman at the cashier snorted, then glanced at me to make sure I wasn't offended. I grinned and winked back.

The blonde sashayed down the aisles until she arrived at the dog food section.

Of course.

I'd been so distracted by the big hair that I hadn't noticed the shivering dog in her handbag.

The 5th arrondissement of Paris is a colourful place.

Like an elephant

"You're thumping like an elephant!" 

My dad said this at least once a day as I was growing up. Running across the floorboards from one end of the house to the other - a jumble of elbows and legs as we skidded around corners and raced through the hallway to land, giggling, on the couch - my sister and I probably did sound somewhat similar to that scene from the Lion King when the herd of wildebeests stampeded across the plains of Africa.

As I head down the corridor to the photocopier and back again, I arrive at my office, aware that I've been walking rather heavily. "Thumping like an elephant" runs through my head and the last few steps back to my desk are dainty, like a ballerina, as I apologise to my dad in my head. I plop into my chair, determined to walk less like an elephant next time. 

Inevitably however, unlike the elephant who never forgets, I do forget, and I continue thumping, and the cycle continues. With only slightly less giggling.

La rentrée

La rentrée. 
A new start. A reboot. For many things.
Exciting new projects. 
Looking at myself, inside and out, making changes.
There's always room for improvement.
Finding inspiration in the many creative, talented people in my life.
Who I'm lucky to have in my life.
Enjoying this time, this place, for what it is.
Throwing myself in headfirst.
Making a fool of myself, perhaps.
Laughing a lot.
A step forward.

Of ponies and tails


We waited for the bus at the end of the driveway. The shadows were long, early in the morning. Everything had a shadow. The mailbox. The pine. Us.

I was fascinated by my shadow, and would examine it carefully as it changed. Look at it now - with my hands on my hips, standing on one leg, sideways, crouching.

But, of course (being that it is me), there was something that traumatised me in all of this.

When I stood sideways, you could see my ponytail, perched high on my head in the shadow. But when I stood normally, you couldn't see my hair - the shape of my head was the only thing visible.

My thoughts immediately ran as thus :
When I wear a ponytail, can people not see that I have long hair?
Long hair is OBVIOUSLY the ONLY thing that marks me as a girl!
Would people think I am a boy?
OMG people might think I am a boy.

There was only one solution to all of this.

I pushed my ponytail around a bit, so it was just off-centre. When I examined my shadow again, I could finally see evidence of my ponytail.

I jumped on the bus, swinging my ponytail as I walked up the aisle to my seat, satisfied in the knowledge that no one would mistake me for a boy.

Even if it was the eighties, with my wonky ponytail that wasn't quite centred but wasn't quite on the side enough to be called a side ponytail (à la Madonna), I must have looked like a right dork.



I wrote journals throughout many of my high school years. My dad told me that he has most of them shrink-wrapped and sitting in the attic. "Do you want them?" he asked, when we were home over Christmas. "No, keep them there, I don't want to read them." I replied, very quickly. The idea of exploring my teenage head is slightly nauseating.

At lunch today, I circled the stand of pens at the bookshop for 20 minutes. I couldn't decide.

I wanted something that writes nicely. Not too big. On the smaller side. One that won't leak all over my handbag if the lid slips off. It has to look nice, but not too girly, and not too utilitarian.

Then there was the choice of a journal. You don't want to know how long that took.

I have decided to write again. Really write. Write more than I can write on here, for many different reasons - to explore my creativity, to experiment with my writing, to exercise my mind, to consider some really personal questions. I want to write stuff that is crap, but to be able to read it over and see why it's crap, without deleting it straight away. I want to write stuff that is good, but to be able to read it over and see why it's good. I will keep writing here, because I think it's therapeutic too, in a way, but I think I really need to sit down and put pen to paper.

I am so used to writing on a computer that I'm expecting some serious hand crampage. But that's ok. I am so used to writing on a computer that I'm not sure how I'll handle not being able to use Backspace or Copy and Paste as I realise that this sentence would be better there. But that's ok too. The goal is to see what sort of adventure this will take me on.

I just couldn't decide on a pen today. When I wrote in my journals as a teenager, I grabbed whatever pen came to hand. My journal pages were filled with blue, black, purple, green. It took 20 minutes for my teenage self to convince my 30-something self that not everything has to be perfect. Perhaps I do have something to learn from my younger self... It's just a freaking pen.

Let's just hope that this time around, there'll be less bad poetry.

I love Paris in the springtime

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Spring in Paris means blue skies, blindingly bright sunlight, the occasional citron pressé on a sunny terrace at lunchtime, Parisians shedding their black winter coats and venturing into the occasional splash of colour, flowers blooming everywhere.

I take longer to get to work in the morning because I can't resist burying my nose in the cherry blossoms.

view from the window of the coffee table studio

i bury my nose

I put away my winter shoes and pull out my sandals with glee. My feet are free!

Spring also means that I have to wash my feet as soon as I get home. Sandals are lovely, but the amount of grime you get on your feet as you walk around Paris is staggering.

I like the analogy that Paris as a city is like a crazy old aunt who, for all her oddities, you just can't help but love.

I imagine her getting dressed up for Spring, with flowers and sparkly jewels in her hair, but underneath the pretty sandals, she has grimy feet too.

Rescue me



I like to think that if I discovered a worm, I would carefully pluck him out and put him in one of the potplants on the windowsill.

But all our potplants have spiderwebs on them (we're planning on replanting... soon... eventually...) and you would have to pay me to put my fingers near them. And, anyway, if I discovered a worm, I would probably squeal and throw the apple in the bin. I certainly wouldn't be able to eat around the worm.

I still have to disassemble freshly picked wild raspberries before eating them (discretely, because my father-in-law would laugh at me and Sylvain would just roll his eyes), just in case there is some sort of bug party happening inside. I am haunted by stories of a neighbour on the farm gleefully popping a gigantic mulberry in his mouth, only to spit it out seconds later in horror because it was full of ants.

But I still like to think that I would rescue the worm.


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There are times when being an expat is difficult. Whether it's 5 or 24 hours, it's hard to be far away.

In a freaky moment of synchronicity two of my favourite people need positive thoughts tomorrow.

Examining the Cognac Instillation

In the hopes they'll both be drinking another glass of cognac (or ten) sooner rather than later.

To us


When Sylvain and I got married, we had three big celebrations in two different hemispheres, so we certainly made the most of it. But, somehow, running around seeing different people that year, we put off our official honeymoon.

So, here we are, packing for a few days away, and Venice it is. I think we can say that we're having a belated honeymoon - which falls well, since it's our five year wedding anniversary this weekend. Better late than never.

Five years into this adventure, and I'm still so excited to be married to the person I love with every fibre of my being. The person who makes me smile every day. Who sees things so differently to me and who constantly surprises me with his distinctive interpretations of the world. Whose silence calms me. Whose serenity anchors me. Who can make me burst into laughter with just one word, one look.

So, off we go to Venice. To explore a new city. To be together. To celebrate us.

My biggest weakness is books*.

When I first came to France, I spent a good two or three years not being able to afford to buy books, and spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to procure them in the most economic way possible. I read about one book a month, and I used to drag the words out in my mind to make them last longer. I eventually became a member of the American Library in Paris for a year, but there's just something special to me about owning books, and I let my membership run out without renewing it.

Now, I'm lucky enough to work within 3 minutes walk of two English bookshops (selling both second-hand and new books), as well as a couple of other shops that have a rich selection of all sorts of English literature, but this really is my downfall, you see. I buy at least one book a week, sometimes more. I would prefer to go without certain things in my life than to go without being able to read.

It started at a young age, when my parents had to forbid me from getting up and reading in front of the fire before 6am. After 6am was fine, but they were not to hear a peep out of me before that. My sister is the same, and it's really all my parents fault anyway, since they're both bookworms too.

I always have a book in my handbag. I read on the train. If I'm not having lunch with my colleagues, I read at lunchtime. I read as I walk. If I don't have my ipod on, I read standing in line at the supermarket (and sometimes when I do). I'm a book nerd, and proud of it.

I'm not particularly fussed about what I read - I often find myself buying the first thing my eye falls on - I love reading all sorts of books, although that's not to say I'm not discerning. I might spend a month reading every single bit of crime fiction I can get my hands on, then spend the next month devouring Dickens, and the one after that I'll be all about modern fiction.

I always thought that I'd marry a reader. Someone who loved books as much as I do. But unless it's a cookbook, a photography magazine or a comic book, Sylvain is not so much into reading. It occasionally surprises me that I'm ok with this, but at least it means that I don't have to share the precious space in our bookshelves with anyone else (except for one little spot where he keeps his comics, but that's a small concession to make).

Speaking of books, if you're in Paris tomorrow, SOS Helpline (the anglo phoneline support network) is having a big book sale near Charles de Gaulle Etoile, just a couple of steps away from the Champs Elysées. It's for a good cause, and you can donate your old books and pick up some new ones while you're at it! Waiting beside our front door are two big bags of books I'm planning to donate... I just have to make sure I'm reasonable and don't buy more than I can carry home.

* stationery comes a close second, but that's another post for another day.

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