October 31, 2005

Ex-pat circle of thoughts

When you are living somewhere outside of your own ccountry, you gravitate towards other outsiders. This being my third year away from Yorkshire, I now have a wide circle of ex-pat friends; Canadians, Americans, Australians, English, Dutch, Danish. The list goes on. You find in these people something that connects you. You experience a place differently from those who have always been there.

As my friendship net has widened, from people all experiencing Warsaw as ex-pats, I find that I now have a new understanding of living abroad. A few months ago I moved again. Ally Moved back to her home country and A moved from Warsaw to Amsterdam. Talking to these people naturally involves a philosophical analysis of the nature of 'abroad'.

I met A yesterday at the Sacre Coeur. We have not seen each other for a year. Within ten minutes, the cafe creme was ordered and we were deep in discussion about the new places that we had chosen and the ones that we had come from. Years in the UK never gave me such a specific and strong understanding of the choices that we make.

In the ex-pat circles that we run in, we are forever destined to understand a little part of each other. We will always be the outsider, and I am not using that word in a negative way. To openly discuss huge parts of our life choices makes the circle of ex-pats in any place quite a little community.

Will I always feel like an outsider now? Even when I go home to Northallerton? The people there have no idea what it is like to experience the things that I have done. Will my feelings of beautiful seperateness fade away if I choose to return? We make choices to seperate us from where we begin, this leads us back together in the end anyway.

"Happiness is the longing for repetition"
Milan Kundera

"Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get"
George Bernard Shaw

October 29, 2005

Why I love Warsaw

1) Green Coffee, the best place in the world. Both cool and trendy, friendly and comfortable. Saturday mornings with J. Late evenings with K and N. Flirting with the boys behind the counter.
2) Ulica Chmielna. Always something new to discover on this pedestrian street that links the two main shopping streets. New bar: 'Level', look into it.
3) People. Friends of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. People who love me, people I adore.
4) Polish food, especially gypsy pie.(Potato pancakes with goulash, mmmmmh)
5) Vodka. So cheap, so smooth. I got my Wisniowka!
6) Being there and not wanting to go home.
7) Being there and forgetting that I live somewhere else now.
8) Cold weather and squint-your-eyes sunshine.
9) Buying pierogi, polish chocolate and zupa to bring back and have polish things in my Paris flat.
10) Realising how happy my Warsaw life made me.
11) Staying with people who make me want to stay up and chat into the early hours of the morning and forget that I am so tired.
12) The beautiful familiarity of the airport.
13) Wondering if I will ever live in Warsaw again.

"Fear not for the future, weep not for the past"
Percy Shelley

"Maybe I'm too young to keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you're on my mind, so you never know"
Jeff Buckley

October 25, 2005

Sunshine through my window

The girls are here and soon they will be gone. It has been three days of bright sunshine in my Parisienne life. They are my soulmates, the ones that I found in the most unlikely of places. The four of us have celebrated the occasion of our 30th years and the occaision of nearly 12 years of friendship.

They have noticed what no-one else would or could. Reached into me and changed me, then and now. We have laughed so much that we have coughed out food, started to snort and not given a damn what any of the chic parisiennes think about that. We have drunk red wine, eaten cakes and taken hours over a meal. We have chatted, we have talked. We have been serious and we have been stupid.

When all is said and done they are the people that know me. They are the people that accept me, love me. All those years and we are all still here. I am amazed by these women in my life. I live in Paris, but I miss them. I miss them so much that a lump rises in my throat just thinking about them crossing the ocean and not being near me any more. Which is strange because that is exactly what I did to them when I moved to Poland.

Speaking of Poland, the flight to Warsaw leaves this afternoon, just after they go back to the UK. Lets see what the heart makes of that.

"This moment contains all moments"
CS Lewis

"Love isn't finding a perfect person. It's seeing an imperfect person perfectly"

October 22, 2005

Laduree Ladies

After school yesterday, seven of us ladies made our way to the Champs Elysee for champagne and cakes in honour of D's birthday.

We went to Laduree, a gorgoeus old tearoom and patisserie on the main tourist strip in the city. Beautifully, the place was full of old parisienne ladies, one of whom had a small dog sat on her lap. We were seated at our table, smiling at each other, getting ready to relax. Feeling our freshly minted, half term freedom stretching out ahead of us.

L and I went to look at the cakes and went back to the table even more confused than before, so amazing did everything look. I managed to narrow down the choice and chose Saint Honore, a towering mound of pastry and cream. However wondrous it looked, it tasted like heaven on a silver fork.

We chatted, laughed and told stories. We were polite and cheeky at the same time. Friendships between women are something to behold, as were the seven of us sat in Laduree.

"Women are wiser than men, because they know less and understand more"
James Thurber

"I like men who have a future and women who have a past"
Oscar Wilde

October 21, 2005

I think, therefore I blog

It is Friday morning and the last day of school before half term. I just sneaked out for a creme and a gossip with D, my Canadian friend. D has just started to read my blog and had lots of lovely things to say to me about the way that I write and the things that I have to say on my own little portal to the world.

She has got me thinking about this blog though. What is it that keeps us all blogging? The difference between our blogs and a journal or diary is clearly that we are sending our thoughts out int0 a public forum. We are opening our heads and hearts for everyone to see. Does having the little comments box full after our latest post validate the words that we put into cyberspace for all to see? Does it matter if the little box isn't full?

People would like to remind me that blogging is not really 'writing', but most of the time I feel like it is. We are imperfect people putting out little perfect images into the world. The fact that they are there, the fact that people read them maybe makes us feel a tiny bit less alone in this big bad world.

From those blogs that are personal to those that are political, I am in love with the blogs that I read regularly. I feel connected to those people behind them. In a world where links are hard to make, can this ever be a bad thing? Should we just be out in the world, face to face, or is it fine to connect in the world of blogs, thought to thought?

"The only real people are the people who never existed"
Oscar Wilde

October 20, 2005

The girls

The girls all arrive on Saturday afternoon for our joint 30th celebration. We decided that we were going to all meet for a holiday this year to recognise the year in which we all turn 30 (Even though my birthday is in January, I turn 30 last!).

I cannot wait to see them in all their familiar glory, twelve years after our friendship began. We are all very different and yet the history that we share means that we will always have something in common.

Thinking now about them arriving makes me wonder about the time and things that have passed. As the weeks turn into months and the months melt into years, where has the time gone? As I stare down the barrel of my 30th birthday (I am taking it the hardest), is this where I thought that would be? Does the time go quicker as you get older? No more desperation to be an adult, it is right here and now.

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once"
Albert Einstein

"If you're lost you can look and you will find me
time after time"
Cyndi lauper

October 19, 2005

Box set blues

Just like an addict who has had their last fix, the coming down is the hardest. I have finished Lost, 24 and now I have finished Desperate Housewives.

I knew that these things would not last, so I aquired Nip/Tuck to soften the blow, but my melted brain is just not ready for the gore and self centredness that this show brings to the table.

Where do I go from here? Why does normal TV leave me unsatiated? What is the matter with me? Maybe I need to look to the classics, Ally McBeal, Friends. Maybe they can sort me out, re-watching a series does not have the urgency of the new. To top it all off, K tells me that the new series of Lost and Alias are infuriating.

I think that I may never watch Tv again, except when I get hold of Arrested Development or Six Feet Under, I hear that they are really very good.

"He who is created by television can be destroyed by television."
Theodore H White

"I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts"
Orson Welles

October 18, 2005

Before Sunrise

The mornings continue to be dark and by the time I got to school this morning, the steetlamps were still on. As I got out of the bus I saw that the sky was orange. I turned round to look towards the Eiffel Tower and saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen.

The whole sky looked like it was on fire, orange and blood red. Heavy clouds meant that all the colour also had shape and the light climbed up until it seemed like the whole sky was shades of the sun. The sunrise cast a pink glow over all the buildings, so it seemed like there was magic in the air.

Just as quickly as I saw it it was gone. By the time I had walked the five minutes to school the pink and red had started to fade, as I look out of my window now, it has been replaced by a light grey blue as the darkness fades to light. The streetlamps are out now.

"This moment contains all moments"
CS Lewis

October 15, 2005

Anne time

Saturday was warm and bright, walks down the Champs Elysse with L, cafe creme and sunshine. We closed our eyes to feel the sun on our faces in the Jardin de Tuileries and ate cakes in Cador. We chatted and walked for miles, smiling at the fact that we live in Paris, understanding that this makes us so lucky and so special.

I spent a lot of time in my little area of the fifth this weekend. I love the routine that comes with a new life in a new place. I have my Sunday morning cappucino place now, I get my coffee and go sit in the Jardin du Luxembourg. The people that jog around, play with their children or read philosophy books make for the most interesting people watching ever.

I have also spent much time chatting to friends all over the world. I sat last night and ate bread and cheese and drank red wine, I am so Parisienne! This is the last week of this half term and on Saturday I will have a whole week free. Funny how these first few weeks have slipped by. I am ready for my holiday. The girls are coming and then I am off to Warsaw. It will be Paris to Warsaw then.

"Relaxation means releasing all concern and tension and letting the natural order of life flow through ones being"
Donald Curtis

"Beautiful Dawn,
I'm just chasing time again"
James Blunt

October 14, 2005

Weekend stretching out

The weekend is stretching out in front of my like a fresh croissant waiting to be eaten. I have very few actual plans which means that I am free to indulge in the Anne time that I so wanted at the beginning of the week.

It is clear to everyone that Friday afternoon is the best part of the weekend, no time has yet been wasted and you are as far away as you get from Monday morning. This weekend will hold the usual bits of laundry, cleaning and all that stuff. I will start with my weekly chat with Ally in Australia, I will text her when I get up to let her know that I am ready and awake. I will make a cup of tea in my little apartment and lie on my sofa while we catch up on the gossip of the continents that seperate us.

After that I will go out and do something, I am not going to tell say what, I want to surprise myself. The weather in Paris is so amazing today, blue skies that make you think of the summer. This is the best of Autumn, that coolness of air coupled with sunshine that makes you need your sunglasses back. There is no way to be anything other than calm and settled when you look through the browning leaves framed by the bluest skies.

A whole weekend before me, looking through these eyes. Walking down these boulevards to get anywhere is a treat. Stop to realise that the process is a part of the perfection, it makes me happy to think that.

"In solitude, where we are least alone"
Lord Byron

"All flowers in time bend towards the sun,
I know you say there's no-one for you,
But here is one"
Jeff Buckley

October 13, 2005

Work is just work

It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged. Work is just work no matter where you go or what you do. What must it be like to be the sort of person that loves what they do, that can't wait to get out of bed and start their day.

Pretty much everyone must have worked out by now that I need new challenges. I need change, I need stimulation. This is the 6th year of being a teacher for me and I am starting to think that it may be time for a change.

Don't get me wrong. I am lucky to work with children and teenagers. Everyone that I have had the good fortune to work with has brought a bit of sunshine into my day. What I need to escape from are the politics of education, the behind the scenes issues that teachers should not really have to deal with.

The question is though, if I was not a teacher what would I be? I would love to be a writer, a princess, a film star, a fashion designer, newspaper journalist. Who has the time or money to re-train? How do you train to be a princess anyway?

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."
Albert Einstein

"Analyzing what you haven't got as well as what you have is a necessary ingredient of a career."
Orison Swett Marden

October 12, 2005


There are things about your old life that you always miss when you pick up this travelling thread. There are things that never cause you to cast a backward glance. Being English but not living in England continues to provoke a feeling of patriotism and nostalgia.

One of the things that I dream about on nearly a daily basis is driving. Being a country girl growing up, getting a car and your license are major things. They spell freedom. I have owned a sucession of cars, my last being a Volkswagen Polo before I left for Warsaw. I miss driving. I miss having a tape player in the car and singing my way through traffic jams. I miss shopping in York and then throwing everything in the boot before singing my way home.

I miss buying those little car air freshners, or buying a latte to drink on the way to somewhere. That has been made illegal in the Uk now, but still. I have decided that wherever I go next, I am going to get a car. I nearly bid for a red 1985 Citroen 2CV yesterday on ebay.It was only 105 pounds. The only thing that stopped me is that my parents may finally think I have actually gone mad.

"The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring"
Carl Sandburg

"Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world"
George Bernard Shaw

October 11, 2005

The music video

Listening to music on your headphones in the city is an amazing way to start your day. Everyone in Paris has an Ipod, and I am still working with a CD player, but I love it. It was a leaving gift from the school in Warsaw and I think of them all every time I use it.

This morning I listened to Incubus, and everything turned into a music video. A leaf floating to the floor to the sound of 'circles'. People trotting over the road, trying to avoid the bus to the sound of 'warning'. The chilled out 'are you in' floating through my head as I watched all the people on the bus sway gently trying to stay on their feet as the bus navigates its way through the sea of traffic.

Living life as the star in your own music video is so cool. Every morning I get to provide a different soundtrack to my day. I get to see the world through the eyes of a different musician, someone wh0 writes and sings to show me something that I haven't seen before.

"Hey whatever it means to you
Know that everything moves in circles"

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life"
Berthold Auerbach

October 10, 2005

Wierd Weekend

This weekend has been a little strange, but I can't put my finger on why. Had a nice day shopping with J on Saturday. We wandered down Rue de Rivoli, bought boots and had a very nice smoked salmon pizza. We went to Gallerie Lafayette, pushed our way through the crowds and gazed at the things that we couldn't afford.

On Saturday night I went to Cafe Soufflot with D and L for a girls night out. We drank Cote de Rhone and ate gorgeous cheese while we sat and chatted the evening away. The weather was mild and we were able to see the Patheon from where we sat.

On Sunday I went to the fresh food market with J at La Motte-Piquet Grenelle. The sounds and smells were unbelievable. I bought the following: a big lump of Roquefort, some raisin and nut bread, fresh butter, mushrooms, baby potatoes and herb sausages. When I got back to my apartment I set about enjoying some of these gourmet treats, the nut bread was delicious. We ended the weekend with a trip to the cinema to see the Brothers Grimm, the new Terry Gilliam film. It is hilarious.

Next weekend, I have decided that I need some Anne time. I have galleries that I want to visit, cafes I shall frequent and sleep to be processed. And I will do it alone. People are fabulous, but solitude is bliss.

"No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learnng his true and hidden strength"
Jack Kerouac

" When they are alone they want to be with others and when they are with others they want to be alone. After all, human beings are like that"
Gertrude Stein

October 07, 2005

Big park, Little park

The little kids spend their lunchtimes in the park near the school. We walk along a dusty path through a boulevard made of trees to the little park for the littlest ones and further along the dusty path to the big park for the biggest ones.

With October crashing headlong into Autumn, with no plans for turning back, there are massive piles of leaves everywhere that the kids are desperate to jump into. As for me, I am obsessed. Littering the ground are fat shiny conkers. No-body in France plays conkers, so no-body picks them up. People in the UK love the green spiky shells that cover the dark horse chesnuts, and you never see them on the ground. Kids go hunting with a big stick, ready to beat them down well before they ever decide to drop.

Maybe it is the little Yorkshire girl in me, but I would love to fill my tiny apartment with the glossy chocolate brown chestnuts that I see everywhere.I would have bowls and bowls of them, preferably shining in the light of an open fire. For the moment I am content to sneak one into my pocket, feeling it and watching till the gloss goes and the shine has faded.

"Autumn, the years last, loveliest smile"
William Cullen Bryant

October 06, 2005

Play Misty for me

The whole is Paris is covered in a white mist. When I got off the bus this morning, I could see less than half of the Eiffel Tower. Everything looks wrong, too hard and too cold.

We are really into the swing of Autumn now, when the wind nips your face and it is cold outside instead of just being mild like it was a couple of weeks ago. I got all my scarves out the other day, and today I am wearing a bright orange and goldy colour pashmina, to bring some sunshine into my world.

When I look at my scarves more than anything else, I am reminded how lucky I have been in my travels. There are scarves from New York, Warsaw, York, Hereford, Paris, Rome. Each one was a gift that makes me remember a friend, or think of a little market in the back streets of Italy. On a day like today, I need all the help that I can get.

"Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions"
Pablo Picasso

October 05, 2005


Whilst living in Poland, my friend Jo and I identified a horrific and widespread disease. This affliction affects huge portions of the ex-pat community and was only recently discovered. We named this disease 'DVD box set syndrome'.

This awful malady takes the form of obsession about a particular TV series over a short period of time. As sufferers are outside of the safe weekly TV dosage areas of their native countries, they are subject to bouts of purchasing whole series in a 'box set'. When this occurs, those afflicted begin to watch said series innocently enough. The end result however, is a bloody and vile process which finishes only 2-3 days after the box set has begun and the victim has become gorged on the TV series. Further development will be inevitable, with high cost purchase of the remaining series, and thus the process will be repeated.

I myself have become victim to this disease. having innocently bought series 4 of 24, I thought that I would be OK. In fact, I watched an episode this morning at 6.30, while getting ready for work. I thought that I was strong enough, that I would be OK. But it turns out that I am weak, I have no power. When I get home I will have to watch more episodes, until I get to the end. Only Jack Bauer can save me now.

"Art may imitate life, but life imitates TV"
Ani DiFranco

"Television has brought back murder into the home, where it belongs"
Alfred Hitchcock

October 04, 2005

Tagged Part 2

I got tagged by AKR and D from http://dna-insing.blogspot.com/. Turns out that they think that I am suitable for a meme. I always get so flattered that anyone is cyber space tags me, so I must respond.
The meme is as follows:

1. Delve into your blog archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same.

My sentence is...."I have sat in that small room for over 22 hours"

Cryptic, isn't it! It is from the post 'Exams are over, Paris is coming'.
I would like to tag, Sensibly Stoned, Pseudo Intellectual lunatic, Kinuk, Nige and Franje. Have a good day all.

My first strike

Today marks the very special occaision of my first public strike in France. In a country rivalled only by Italy in its making political protest through strike action, I have managed to go a whole 6 weeks without becoming affected by the workers.

The Metro and buses are running, but only 1 in 3, or less. My metro line is packed to the gills at 7.30, so you work out what it must have been like with triple the amount of people on there. I decided to skip the metro altogether and go for bus 82, which drops me off at the Trocadero. From there it is only five minutes to the school.

I had this thing about the bus in Warsaw. If I am on a bus, I just want to stay on it. I would be happy riding around for hours, staring out of the window and not going to work. Looks like I have the same thing in Paris. Is this telling me something about buses, or something about work?

"Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do"
Oscar Wilde

"Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies"
Albert Camus

October 03, 2005

Weekend with the boys

Saturday night was spent at a little Polish restaurant in the Marais area called Le Raviallac. I ate pierogi ruskie and drank cherry vodka, and it was a fantastic evening. I felt a little bit bad, falling onto the Polish comfort food. Like those british people who insist on eating a big fry up, no matter where they are in the world. In reality, I was with J, English and B, Danish. We were eating Polish food in a place in France, really, how European can you get?

It was good to have a walk around the Marais. B has wanted to go for a while but it is across the river from where we live and we haven't got around to it yet. This is where the uber cool youth of Paris come to see and be seen. And I have to say that the streets are filled with fabulous places to eat and drink. Although money and beauty may be required, and I don't have either.

On Sunday, I went to the Museum of the Middle Ages with J. This is very close to where I live and I walk past every morning on my way to work. This is my favourite museum in Paris so far, although I do like all of them. This one is housed in such an amazing place, that it has quite an impact. Holding religious, social and architectural pieces, the museum has a jewel in its crown. The lady and the unicorn is a 6 piece 13th century tapestry. The guidebook called in 'mysterious and allegorical'. I just thought that it was astounding.

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience"
James Beard

"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose"
Woody Allen