Well, its begun. The adventure is afoot.
The sun is brilliant, the sky azure. I am sitting on the train thundering through the English countryside, laptop on the table in front of me, ipod playing the theme music from Les Choristes. I love modern technology!!
Husband was great helping me to get ready and off: two suitcases, one laptop backpack, one huge handbag. I looked like a camel walking down the platform: who cares, I feel about nineteen, a student again, on my travels.
And I’ve got the gear: black jeans, black skinny rib top, black boots – just the face and figure giving the lie to reality. Shame I don’t smoke and cannot drink coffee, or I’d really be the part: I just fancy the smell of a Gaulloise and strong black coffee. Time enough, soon be plenty of both surrounding me.
In six hours I’ll get off the train in central Paris! In two years these trains will be running direct to Frankfurt in Germany. Might just give me time to resurrect my vestigial German. Holdups, strikes and terrorist attacks permitting, this channel tunnel is such a cool idea. More modern technology, wonderful!
By the way I would recommend the film Les Choristes to anyone who would like an enchanting, feel-good French Film with moving music. A lovely way to brush up your French and there are always subtitles anyway.
I had meant to download my Francoise Hardy CDs to my computer or ipod before I left but never got round to it. The times in my youth when Johnny Halliday and Francoise accompanied my adventures abroad.
I did not expect this sudden lifting of the spirits: despite the anguish of the last few days here I am, bursting with excitement, anticipation and joy. It is as if it is all falling away from me, being left behind in a different existence. This is the European sweffling, different speech, different accent, different life for a few weeks. The unknown lies ahead, with doubtless some difficulties and anxieties, but all part of the adventure and hope.
I have my drawing and painting stuff in the case: time to sit and draw in cafes, create my Paris diary in words and pictures and well as photos. The odd roofline, lamppost, shop front, person in a park, fountain, a touch of ivy here, a rabbit having a walk there. The Place des Vosges with which I am completely in love, the school children on their morning walk, the artists selling paintings under the ancient arches, the wonderful lamps and boxed chestnut trees. Loose watercolours with a touch of pen and ink, I love it. The last geraniums of the year on balconies, the C17 buildings which the Cavaliers knew and frequented, the great wooden doors leading into private courtyards, the outside stone staircases with their curved metal handrails.
Weighing me down are grammar books and exercises: I intend to work hard. I shall join the local library because I need to borrow a huge dictionary: mine was far too large and heavy to bring with me. How am I to do everything I want to do in the time? How to leave time for the unexpected serendipitous meeting or event but also make sure my time is well spent? Last visit I made friends with an artist who was just setting up her studio and selling watercolours. We managed to converse but my language skills were so rusty it was painful: however, she was patience itself. It would be good to see her again. In the back of my mind is a sneaky desire to look around for a tiny cheap garret that I might be able to rent on another occasion: there are some lovely looking literature course at the Sorbonne!!!!
“Sufficient unto the day . . . ”. Typical me, if enthusiasm can run away with me, it will.
Closing down now to have some lunch and begin to read my book. I have brought one of my old A Level set books to help me get back into reading in French. Then to buy some Euros, negotiate customs and ‘check-in’ for L’Eurostar. I arrive at the Gare du Nord about 19.17 and think I will have to splash out for a taxi with all this luggage. My true nineteen year old self would have been travelling with just a rucksack!!
PS There has just been a call for a policeman and the guard to go immediately to the First Class Carriage: What else will the day have in store? Thrills 🙂