petite anglaise

January 2, 2008


Filed under: mills & boon, on the road — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:35 pm

I spent most of my Christmas in the UK wishing I had it in me to behave in a more diva-ish fashion. Because if I’d stamped my foot and point blank refused to pose for photographs outdoors, minus my coat, in sub-zero temperatures the previous week, I wouldn’t have wound up in bed. Feverish. Aching. Counting the minutes until I could have my next fix of paracetamol.

As it was, Tadpole had to open the presents under grandma and grandad’s tree sans moi and I had to content myself with second hand accounts of how she stumbled blindly around the living room with an upturned Santa’s sack on her head. Let’s hope those pesky photos – due to run in forthcoming editions of Weekend Knack (Belgium – next week, I think) and Marie Claire UK (April issue) – were worth the pain. I doubt it somehow. Photogenic I am not.

It was something of a relief that I appeared to be on the road to recovery when I joined the Boy in Paris and we boarded a Thalys on Friday morning, bound for Amsterdam. Granted, I was still rather hoarse. When I attempted to speak, I sounded like a cross between a forty-a-day Gaulloise smoker and a teenage boy with a breaking voice. ‘C’est pas grave, ça me fera des vraies vacances‘ said The Boy with a teasing smile.

Suffice to say that my indignant reply lost much of its force when it came out as a strangled squawk.

There followed three days of strolling through parks and along canals hand in hand, pausing at regular intervals for a restorative hot chocolate with whipped cream, and using my convalescence as an excuse to retire early and rise late. (Do hotels make everyone feel, um, frisky, or is it just me?) The weather was perfect: mild temperatures, blue skies, low winter sun striking huge windows and bathing them in warm, golden light. We meandered in ever decreasing circles – no matter which direction we took, we seemed to end up at the same point (Hotel de l’Europe) time and time again – admiring the architecture and peering inside the houses (the Dutch don’t seem to favour net curtains). We wandered through the red light district – disappointing, I got far better underwear inspiration from watching Billie Piper play Belle de Jour – and stopped in coffee shops, bars and cafés to rest our feet.

And all the while I pondered when would be the right time to ask the Boy a question. Something that had been simmering at the back of my mind for a while. I almost blurted it out when we were sitting on a bench by a particularly picturesque stretch of canal. A little later, warm and fuzzy from a 9.5% proof Trappist beer, I had to rein myself in again. The timing never seemed quite right, and my voice simply couldn’t be trusted.

We boarded the Thalys on Sunday afternoon and as I settled into my seat and accepted my first cup of coffee from the trilingual waitress I couldn’t help feeling a pang of disappointment.

Qu’est-ce qu’il y a?‘ asked the Boy. I hesitated for a moment, took a deep breath. And decided to hold my peace a little longer.


  1. Happy New Year, Petite! Hope your voice returns soon. xx

    Comment by Lucy Diamond — January 2, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

  2. It would appear the entire world has been sick this Christmas at one point or another (or, if you did a proper job of it – like me – you managed to be sick *all* the way through).

    Hope you’re getting better, and also look forward to finding out that this not-had conversation is. I expect everybody will start guessing, whereas I shall not – I shall remain content to wander past now and again and catch up with your written adventures.

    Comment by Jonathan — January 2, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

  3. “a question”??

    i refuse to speculate. i’m hoping your next post will explain further. happy (and healthy!) new year to you and yours, petite! thank you for another year of great blogging.

    Comment by franko — January 2, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  4. Oh, come on!
    What did you ask him?
    Or are you planning on a cliff-hanger with every entry, now?


    Comment by Moses — January 2, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

  5. Fun, I was in Amsterdam at the exactly same time. And enjoyed pretty much the same things, particularly watching interiors through the curtainless windows of the nice houses alongside the “grachten”. I even had hot chocolate with whipped cream … Hope you will get better very soon!

    Comment by mafalda — January 2, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  6. Sorry for the long comment, and my first on your blog too! I got carried away…

    I have a theory about hotels: you’re not surrounded by all your usual distracting junk; there’s nothing to do, and plenty of time to do it; and the beds are (if you’re lucky) fresh and clean, so thoughts inevitably turn to what might be called ‘active relaxation’.

    As for your question, well I hate to meddle but… you are obviously reluctant to ask it, either because you think it’s too early, or because you are afraid of getting the wrong answer. But it’s obviously important enough to burn a hole in your brain.

    The best advice I can give is to find a way to let it casually bubble up in conversation. Perhaps you can watch a movie together that features whatever scenario, dilemma or issue that you are thinking of, and then guiding the post-movie conversation in that direction.

    Or tell him that one of your (fictitious) friends is going through this situation, and that you aren’t sure if she’s right, and what does he think about it.

    Going further in my role as faux-agony aunt, when it comes to especially difficult or awkward questions …

    1. never ask the question directly, always ask open questions that allow him to answer in his own way at his own speed

    2. never make it seem as if you’re really talking about your own relationship, even (and especially) if you really are – keep it abstract or focussed on some other scenario

    3. always manoevre the guy into a position where he gets to suggest something – if he thinks that it’s his idea, then he’ll happily go along with it

    4. either pretend that you have no particular strong views, or (if you’re feeling risky) try to argue against your own private view, to encourage him to take the opposite side – which you can then ‘reluctantly’ agree with at the end

    5. keep it breezy – don’t get too passionately involved in the conversation, in case you accidentally reveal how you really feel

    In general, we men are fragile creatures and need special handling. Sorry about that! But this is why women have better social skills. So use ’em!

    PS. Hope you liked Amsterdam. You should come on Queen’s Day (April 30) – it’s a madhouse!

    Comment by Andy R (Amsterdam) — January 2, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  7. Yes, happy new year to you all – you, Tadpole, The Boy, and of course Mr. Frog. And thanks.

    Comment by wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) — January 2, 2008 @ 5:28 pm

  8. a question?!?!?!?!?! oh gosh, well i assume the boy reads your blog so now the cat’s kinda out of the bag! i wonder what you will ask him?

    Comment by Rachel — January 2, 2008 @ 5:29 pm

  9. I do hope when ‘frisky’ you keep the noise down. Slept next door to a wall banger in France once with the stamina of a stallion. I think he was with someone or else he was an excellent ventriloquist.

    Comment by Daddy Papersurfer — January 2, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

  10. First of all, I take some small satisfaction in knowing I wasn’t the ONLY woman separated from her amoureux on Christmas this year. And I’ve been back three days and we have been at his place and now mine, and while they are not hotels, I can report there is MUCH friskiness taking place after our long near-3-week holiday separation.

    Secondly, G and I are enjoying guessing your question. If we are guessing correctly, we have been dancing around the same question ourselves, but I have been informed by him that WHEN there is a question, there will be flowers and perhaps even a bended knee.

    Of course, maybe he meant MY bended knee. Whatever your question happens to be, I hope you get the answer you want. Bonne année and hope to see you soon.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — January 2, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  11. I spent quite a bit of time in the Netherlands for work. While there I was told that the lack of curtains on the windows dates back to the strict Protestant times … when covering the windows hinted that one had some immoral behaviour to hide.

    Hopefully you had curtains at the hotel. ;)

    Comment by clarissa — January 2, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  12. Umm Photogenic I am not? Pardon me while I beg to differ, m’dear. You are photogenic and the post below proves it. So let’s not hear any more of that type of twaddle, please. :-)
    Re hotel beds: yup get me in any room, hotel or not, with a bed and a woman and I get frisky–quickly lol

    So Cheers from Seattle and keep those photos coming

    Comment by Beau — January 2, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  13. Poor darling – I hope you are completely better now. And Amsterdam! We plan to take the train from Paris to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks too, although with the beating my credit card is taking here in the US right now, it might be pushed back a little…

    I wonder what your question is? Is it what I think it might be or are you teasing us?

    Comment by Passementerie — January 2, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  14. ooh sneaky. i vote the question involves the theme co-habitation. and i predict you’ll get precisely the answer you’re hoping for. and i’m being incredibly forthright and assumptive.

    Comment by daisy duke — January 2, 2008 @ 10:16 pm

  15. Is your question linked to the fact that 2008 is a leap year?

    Comment by Mancunian Lass — January 2, 2008 @ 10:46 pm

  16. Do not ask any questions. Enjoy the moment!

    Comment by Rose — January 3, 2008 @ 1:28 am

  17. Come on girls, what’s with all this friskiness? My Mom is reading this blog for crying out loud!


    Happy 2008 darling.

    Comment by frog with a blog — January 3, 2008 @ 1:31 am

  18. I’m with Daisy on that one. I do hope that your voice recovers quickly and that the photos of Tadpole are wonderful. Was your hesitation more due to feeling out the timing, or due to your voice’s untrustworthiness?

    Hotels do make many people frisky…especially nice ones.

    Billie Piper got married on NYE, I heard. Some cronies were lamenting it, actually.

    Comment by Gruntled — January 3, 2008 @ 5:57 am

  19. Hope you’re better soon.

    With all due respect to Andy R., this boy despises “careful” questions and delights in the thing being the thing being the thangggg. Just lay it out…when you’re good and ready, of course.

    Best! (You tease.)

    Comment by John — January 3, 2008 @ 6:44 am

  20. Sigh. I’m assuming said “question” is not the same “question” that a fellow blogger mentioned above…you don’t seem like that type (I take you for someone that’s actually somewhat cautious with your emotions, though spontaneous and free-spirited). I could be wrong, but that’s what I gather from your entries.

    Happy New Year to you and your fam and keep up the blogging. Amsterdam looks beautiful…

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — January 3, 2008 @ 7:26 am

  21. “frisky”, really? I love the way your posts help me to enlarge my vocabulary (I had to look it up in the dictionary). Que tous vos voeux se réalisent en 2008…

    Comment by althéa — January 3, 2008 @ 8:47 am

  22. Happy New Year, cherie

    Comment by Winchester whisperer — January 3, 2008 @ 11:04 am

  23. You should ask him ON THE BLOG.

    And he should answer IN THE COMMENTS.


    And then we can all throw rice or underwear or whatever it is that’s called for.


    Comment by Le Meg — January 3, 2008 @ 11:11 am

  24. Yes… if I wasn’t married (and very happily) already ;-)

    Comment by Jeremy — January 3, 2008 @ 12:38 pm

  25. You lot are so much more romantic than I am. I was assuming, since P & B were in Amsterdam and wandering around peering in red-light windows, that the question was “Have you ever slept with a prostitute?”.

    Sorry about that…

    Comment by tonic — January 3, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  26. You must have come across the Dutch for whipped cream’ – from memory it is something like ‘schlag room’.
    Ha Ha – some things just stay with you…
    Unfortunatley I know no other Dutch, so am unable to assist with translating the article.

    Comment by Violet S — January 3, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

  27. I don’t know what a Trappist beer is, but I’ve suddenly decided I want one dearly.

    Comment by T — January 3, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

  28. Now this is more like it! I have been pinning for a good post for ages. I neeed to get out more.

    As usual Meg is correct, and funny with it. It seems only fitting!

    Comment by susie — January 3, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  29. Happy New Year… ;-)

    I’m guessing you were going to ask him something deep like ‘what are you thinking’? And he would reply with the timely answer of ‘nothing’!

    And then you would casually stroll past a Jewellers and gently stop while glancing (obviously) at the shop windows contents. Then you ‘may’ turn your head and look for any reaction from the Boy, and casually stroll on!

    ‘And then you go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like I love you’! (apologies. Frank and Nancy).

    Then again, you may have hestitated in asking ‘the question’, hoping that the Boy would ask you a ‘Question’. All I can say is carpe diem. Hesitation leads to frustration, and what’s the point of having a squakbox if you don’t use it?

    Comment by Steve... — January 3, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

  30. Petite,

    I enjoy reading your blog. I have a son about Tadpole’s age, and can sympathize with that part of your grande adventure.

    I like the photo in today’s blog. Those houses along the canal look beautiful. I wonder how much they cost? Oh well.

    Get well soon.


    Comment by David — January 3, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  31. “frisky”?

    Are you a woman in her thirties or a schoolmarm from the thirties?

    Comment by Charlie — January 3, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  32. This Petite Anglaise is so rusée that I’m sure she keeps us on our toes for something totally different from what we think.

    I’m sure it’s a question like: Is Amsterdam the capital city of Belgium? or something like that… (which would explain why she delayed it so much)

    It’d be interesting to hear the different suggestions. Winner gets a drink with Frog with a blog. (not bad I think)


    Comment by frog with a blog — January 3, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

  33. (Belated) Happy New Year, Petite! I hope you’re feeling better now..half the world seems to go down with colds/flu.

    Comment by Drusilla — January 3, 2008 @ 11:33 pm

  34. @32, exactly…it’s not like I know PA personally, but I really don’t get the impression that that’s her style (with all of the marital assumptions). Also, I get the impression that she’s rather cautious, though vulnerable and free-spirited. If it were anything marital (on her part), well, just knock me over with a feather.

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — January 4, 2008 @ 3:38 am

  35. And btw, may I just say that I find this “whole who-killed-JR-esque” cliffhanger thing rather cute! :0)

    Comment by Eclat in Paris — January 4, 2008 @ 3:40 am

  36. Well, my guess is that it is NOT a leap year proposal, it may have something to do with co-habiting but it’s probably got nothing to do with either. You have sown seeds of conjecture but you’re leading us up the garden path. Please don’t leave us out in the shed too long. . . .

    Comment by sablonneuse — January 4, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  37. How do you say pageturner for a blog ?
    I wish you and tadpole a wonderful year.

    Comment by marie-hélène — January 4, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  38. Gosh I hope your question goes much better than a question I recently asked, which went disastrously.

    Smov x

    Comment by Smov — January 4, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

  39. Probably way off but could the question be: “Does my bottom look big in that?”…

    Comment by Ariel — January 5, 2008 @ 1:33 am

  40. It’s not just you, hotels are great.

    Comment by Mad William — January 5, 2008 @ 8:23 am

  41. Lovely post Petite ;=) Ambience, suspense, acid wit and cuteness. Looking forward to your book.

    Comment by Roberta Collins — January 6, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

  42. Sometimes holding one’s tongue is for the best and good things come to those who wait.

    As for Amsterdam, I love it off season. It seems that every little spot you enter is full of human warmth, inspite of the cold outdoors!

    Comment by Lost in France — January 6, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

  43. … ど ん な 初 夢 を 見 た 。 …
    Donna hatsuyume o mita? …

    What was your first dream
    of the new year? …

    Comment by hana — January 6, 2008 @ 5:51 pm

  44. Not put a comment on before but enjoy reading the blog from time to time, have to say..

    GREAT terminology, haven’t heard the term “frisky” for a while, very old school.

    Comment by Veyron1023 — January 6, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

  45. You have now a visitor from the democratic republic of Congo. Here wo would call you “petite momie”. I am a french speaker, please forgive me for my poor english. I love your Blog! I wish to you au Happy new year!

    Comment by Cédric Kalonji — January 7, 2008 @ 12:32 am

  46. The pics have made it to the latest edition of Marie Claire AUSTRALIA. I had lunch at a lovely French cafe today in Melbourne. I was tucking into a nicoise salad while flicking thru the mag …. and there you were!
    A good read … lovely pics and I felt like I was lunching with a friend.
    Best wishes for the new year!

    Comment by running thread — January 7, 2008 @ 8:50 am

  47. my guess for the question : “did you use my touche éclat/face cream/hemoroid crem this morning and if you did, would you mind giving it back?”

    Comment by Sharon — January 7, 2008 @ 1:34 pm

  48. Good things do NOT come to those who wait.

    Comment by Blahnaid — January 7, 2008 @ 11:24 pm

  49. Can’t wait to find out what the Q was!!!! Enquiring minds you know ;-)

    xox Girl and the City (à Paris)

    Comment by Girl and the City — January 8, 2008 @ 6:34 pm

  50. Oh, come on, Petite … don’t keep us in suspenders.

    Comment by Vache Normande — January 8, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  51. I wouldn’t say you aren’t photogenic at all …
    I had a look at the Weekend Knack article and I have to say you look pretty in green ;)

    Comment by Michiel — January 9, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  52. Squawk, spelled like this, is, I believe, the word Native Americans used for their wives?

    Comment by Teaperson — January 11, 2008 @ 8:27 pm

  53. Since we’re guessing: I doubt it had to do with marriage. It seems soon for marriage. Petite is pretty careful with these things from what we’ve seen so far. I kind of doubt, like others, it even has anything to do with living together.

    What could it be? I’ve no clue.

    Oh Petite, how I wish you’d translate the little French passages for us undereducated English-only people.

    Looking forward to your book over here on the other side of the pond. And yes, do insist they leave ‘mummy’ in place. We aren’t so dense as to not be able to understand ‘mummy’.

    Comment by Tammi — January 12, 2008 @ 4:12 am

  54. Mancunian lass beat me to it!

    Comment by j — January 14, 2008 @ 10:24 am

  55. minus the k of course

    Comment by Teaperson — January 14, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  56. “When I attempted to speak, I sounded like a cross between a forty-a-day Gaulloise smoker and a teenage boy with a breaking voice.”

    Not husky then?

    Comment by French Services — January 17, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

  57. I just came accross the article about you in the Bath Alumni Newsletter: it is amazing ! I never really realised we went to the same university….By the way, nice picture in the article. Can’t wait to read your book :)

    Comment by dilafa — January 19, 2008 @ 11:52 am

  58. I am a Belgian living in Paris and I have read your article in Weekend Knack and have seen your picture. You do not need to worry, you look great! I can not wait to read the book! Keep up the good work!

    Comment by ann de tavernier — January 20, 2008 @ 9:01 am

  59. Knack Week End made you world famous in Belgium You are the talk of the town. Stop in Belgium sometimes but let us know in advance Come to my town and let me show you around

    Comment by bent jensen — January 22, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

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