petite anglaise

November 6, 2007

princess shoes

Filed under: on the road, Tadpole rearing, Tadpole says — bipolarinparis @ 11:58 pm

It is a week in which I’ve already made two Paris-London-Paris trips on the Eurostar, complete with identical on-board meals of hachis parmentier and a very bland slice of bakewell tart on both Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and adjusted my watch five times (albeit a little slow on the uptake the day that daylight saving time was adopted, having completely forgotten).

On Thursday, Tadpole and I board a flight to Leeds. I pore over the in-flight magazine, wondering what my collection of loose change can buy us for lunch. I would appear to have exactly £7.70. Just enough to procure one “junior snack pack” and a still mineral water (for her) plus one packet of mini-cheddars and a coffee/kitkat combo (for me). Not the most nutritious meal, with not a hint of the requisite five servings of fruit or vegetables, but we’ve had worse. I wedge the magazine into the seat pocket in front of me and settle back in my seat, closing my eyes for a moment, waiting for the attendants to reach us.

Tadpole is studying the laminated safety card with fierce intent.

“Mummy?”

“Mhm?” I mumble, without opening my eyes.

“Why does a cross sometimes mean a kiss but sometimes it means ‘no, you CAN’T do THAT’? Those two things are not the same at ALL, are they?”

“I suppose you’re right,” I say, opening my eyes and leaning forwards to rummage in my handbag for moleskine and a pencil, nostils flaring. I smell a blog post in the making: Tadpole appears to be on fine form today. “So… what does it say that we’re not allowed to do, on the card?”

“It says no cigarette,” says Tadpole primly. “But that’s alright because me and you, we don’t fume any cigarette, do we?” I shake my head. “And it says no telephone…” she pauses and looks at me accusingly. “Why did you bring your telephone, mummy? It’s not allowed, it says it here!”

“Ah, I’m allowed to bring it, you see, but I am supposed to switch it off…” I fumble in my handbag once more and re-read my last message from the Boy, for the nth time, before complying.

“Why are those people going on a toboggan?” Tadpole wonders aloud, pointing at the picture of a landing at sea – I love the fact that there is a proper French word for this: “amerissage” which somehow makes it sound like something utterly banal and routine, and not at all like an exceptional emergency occurrence – in which several people are calmly gliding down an inflatable slide, minus their baggage and shoes. I decide not to evoke the possibility of planes falling unexpectedly out of the sky and mumble something implausible about people using slides when there aren’t any spare sets of stairs handy at the airport, instead. No sense in worrying her. Flying has hitherto been as natural to Tadpole as taking a taxi, and I wouldn’t want to change that. Pointing at the next picture, I lure her eyes away before she has time to register that the runway is blue and slightly squiggly.

“What do you think this one means?” I say, tapping my finger against a picture of an unfeasibly high stilletto shoe with a bold black cross through it.

“No princess shoes,” Tadpole replies with unshakable certainty.

Chortling, I reach for my pencil.

November 1, 2007

tea

Filed under: book stuff, on the road — bipolarinparis @ 1:16 pm

I’m not sure exactly what I expected when invited to take afternoon tea at The Wolseley with the non fiction “tzar” from a well known UK bookseller’s.

Clotted cream, scones and gleaming silverwear, certainly. Champagne was an unexpected, but not unwelcome surprise. Banter peppered with references to various celebutards and their ghostwritten “auto”biographies seemed par for the course.

This is delightful, I thought to myself, scanning the room with interest. You can’t take the Heat reader out of this girl, no matter how posh a frock she’s donned for the occasion.

But a lengthy discussion about why most women seem blissfully unaware of their correct cup size and persist in wearing ill-fitting bras for life? Whatever I did expect, it certainly wasn’t three women and one man putting their heads together to puzzle over why the soutien gorge (why gorge incidentally? French reader?) can be sized double D or double A, but you never clap eyes on a BB or a CC?

As I clattered down the steps into Green Park station to catch yet another Eurostar, clutching our leftover cakes in their immaculate cardboard box, I smiled to myself.

It just goes to show that one never can be fully prepared for meetings.

October 29, 2007

channel hopping

Filed under: good time girl, on the road — bipolarinparis @ 12:55 pm

T’as pas deux euros à me prêter pour acheter un paquet de clopes?” the Boy enquires as we draw near to a tabac. “Sinon je vais aller retirer en face…

“I was wondering when you were finally going to admit that you’re only with me because you want to get your hands on my money,” I retort with a sly grin.

We joke about it sometimes, but, in truth, whatever I have in the bank is just numbers on a sheet of paper. Numbers that won’t mean much to me until they add up – net of the eye watering amounts of tax and social security I pay with a year’s time lag – to a place to live that means my room no longer has to serve the purposes of bedroom, dining room and living room rolled into one.

In the meantime, my lifestyle has changed little. I’d rather go for beers at the Café Chéri(e) than buy a bottle of champagne at Le Baron or Le Paris Paris (I’ve yet to set foot in either). Most evenings I can be found cooking up a storm in my kitchen or waiting for the Boy to grab some takeaway on his way home from work, rather than eating out in some über-chic restaurant. I treat myself occasionally – clothes, silk underwear, a handbag, a holiday – but we’re not talking Gucci or Dior or a five star beach cabin in the Seychelles. I’m more of an Et Vous or APC kind of girl, and I doubt I’ll ever kick my Top Shop habit. Admittedly it’s really nice not to have to worry when an unexpectedly large phone bill arrives or to have to think twice about taking Tadpole to Yorkshire when there are no cheap tickets left. But, aside from that, little has changed, and I doubt it ever will.

Regardless of our wildly differing salary levels the Boy and I always go Dutch. That is, when he doesn’t insist on paying. If I try to so much as buy a round of drinks he is likely to tell me – mock sternly – to put my wallet down and step away from the till. As a result, he’s not the easiest person in the world to treat, and as his thirtieth birthday loomed, I found myself in something of a quandary. He’d surprised me with a gorgeous antique ring on my birthday, back in September, and it never leaves my finger. I was determined to do something special for him – after all thirty is an important landmark – but I knew he’d feel uncomfortable if I bought him something wildly extravagant.

In the end I resolved to whisk him away for a long weekend, instead. And slipped a pair of lace-topped hold-up stockings into my weekend bag, for good measure.

I’m happy to report that the weekend was a resounding success.

September 10, 2007

holiday

Filed under: mills & boon, on the road — bipolarinparis @ 4:28 pm

Of course, despite the inauspicious start to our holiday, I needn’t have worried.

We catch our flight with time to spare (Easyjet Paris/Athens), enjoy a leisurely lunch (and the first of many cafés frappés) while we wait for the catamaran I’d pre-booked (yes, there is a limit to just how much I’m willing to improvise) to take us from Piraeus to Santorini. The owner of the hotel where we are due to stay for the first three nights comes to fetch us from the port when we realise we’ve arrived in the middle of the annual firework display and taxis are somewhat few and far between.

Spiros (yes, really) shows us to our room – more of an apartment really, with a mezzanine level in the curve of its whitewashed roof – and my jaw drops as I step out onto the balcony with its panoramic view of the whole west coast of Santorini: the broken outline of the volcano’s crater visible across the water, the lights of what must be the towns of Thira and Oia perched atop the cliffs opposite.

“We’re on holiday,” I say gleefully, for the twentieth time that day, as I slip an arm around the Boy’s waist.

He gives me that look. The same look he reserves for particularly sinful looking cream cakes when we walk past pâtisseries back home in Paris.

The look that makes my spine tingle.

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