May 31, 2006

Heaven is shaped like Pizza

Living in Paris, I expected that when I ate out, I would go to places that were beautifully French. I wanted to eat in cafes and restaurants that were Parisian and where the chatter was French. Most of the time I like eating at these places, but there are also times when a good chain retaurant is what is called for.

On the Quai St Michel is a Pizza express, San Marzano. This is a chain that started in England but is now worldwide, and it was a recurring favourite when I lived in Warsaw. I don't go for pizza very often these days, but when I do, this is where I like to go. Last night D and I needed to have a night away from our DVD players and so we went for Pizza. This restaurant looks over Notre Dame Cathedral and on the ground floor, if you sit by the floor to ceiling window, the people watching is fabulous.

We shared some food, wine and wisdom. I enjoyed every mouthful of my Pizza and I came away settled, full and happy. Even as I walked home through the rain and the drizzle, past the fountain and the shops still open on St Michel, I thought that I would miss Paris. Paris is not for me, but the truth is that I understand that there is truly no-where like this in the whole world.

"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 30, 2006

Arc en ciel

There is no rainbow in the sky today but some-one pointed out to me that there was a big leap between my happy meanderings in Yorkshire and the dark cloud that followed me back to Paris. So, for today, I am thinking of a little rainbow. The weather is still awful, cold and miserable. I am still at work and freedom is still 5 weeks away. The reality is that I don't want to moan about Paris, I don't want to feel as though there is something heavy on me here. Life should be better than that when I have 5 weeks left living in the most beautiful city in the world.

I have not been back to my Jardin for a while, I think that would make everything seem brighter. Fat layers of green everywhere, fresh air whipping through the trees and hot cafe creme to keep my fingers warm. Dust covered creamy white blossom, all fallen to the floor. Tiny blue grains of sand kicked to cover the whole jardin, away from its place at the special exhibit at the entrance. Couples kissing, singles reading, families giggling. There are lots of things to be thankful for in Paris in the Springtime.

The thing about writing this blog is that the posts only reflect the moment in which they were written, nothing else. My mind bends around corners at an alarming rate, one minute I am settled and focused on where I am going next. The next minute I feel lost in a fog of jobs and places, worrying about what will happen next. I wonder if other bloggers feel like that too, writing in the moment, not thinking about what readers will conclude.

May 29, 2006

Black and white

In Paris today nothing is black and white, there are only shades of grey. It is a couple of days before the end of May and springtime is Paris is a joke. Everything is miserable, and people are tired and in the mood to hide away, like we did when it was the middle of winter. Now that I am back at school, home seems like forever ago, and my plane ride was melted away into the air.

If I get a job back in the UK, if I end up staying there for a while, I won't miss the travelling, I love the movement, love the waiting even, but it has become part of my routine. I never get the buzz from flying that I did when I was off to Greece with the girls on my first holiday in years. I even got that buzz last year when I went to Jordan, just because it was so out of the ordinary. Flying in and out of Paris and Warsaw is the same as getting a train to York was all those years ago.

May 28, 2006

Finding the moment

Finding the moment between here and there is always hard. One moment I am the sister, daughter and the next I am the friend, colleague. Durham Tees Valley airport is usually where the switch over occurs, one minute outside, I wave, and the next I am waiting, but the outside world is closed off from all us passengers. I will be back in Paris in a few hours and then it is a short run until the end. 5 weeks and everything will be about Yorkshire again.

Yorkshire has sneaked up from behind, I still don't have a job and so the only thing that is certain now is that flight back home at the end of June. I am not scared of this any-more though. All I need is a job and a place to live and things can start rolling downhill from there. Was there ever a time when I was not living in the future, always a few steps ahead of where I am? If there was, I can't remember. I imagine myself incredibly foolish to think that 'there' is any better than 'here', but the grass is always greener.

May 27, 2006

A day in the Dales

My Dad took me for a drive up into the Yorkshire Dales and as usual, it made me sigh with its beauty. Look at these pictures and tell me that this landscape does not rival that of the most widely visited and admired vistas in the world. The thing with the Dales is that you can travel for miles and not see another car. You can stop in the middle of the road to admire the view, and people frequently do.

I just loved having my camera and taking these pictures. Every single movement on the roads brought another amazing view that I just had to stop and snap. You have to drive up and down hills, then splash through fjords. The roads are narrow and when you meet a car coming the other way, each one of you has to crawl up onto the bank of road so that you can get past. In England it is considered polite that you nod, wave and smile at the driver to thank them for their consideration.

Yes, Yorkshire is so beautiful that it could break your heart. Anyone who has read 'Wuthering Heights' should think of Heathcliff and think of the Yorkshire moors. The howling winds are tamed only by the endless purple heather.

May 25, 2006

My life in movement

When I was little I was obsessed with roller skates. I figured out pretty fast that on roller skates I could get to other places much quicker and I loved it when my hair would fly back and it would make my stomach churn to stop. I am sure that I wore out the rubber stoppers on the front of those boots from screeching up and down hills on the roads outside the village where I grew up.

This has really characterised everything since. I understand that my love of travel comes from a love of actual movement. I could spend forever in a car, on a bus, on a boat with changing scenery every second of the day and I would be happy with that. Of course, I love those places that I have looked upon a million times too, but the movement gives me something else. I like to see things moving before my eyes, it is proabably why I have not stood still for long enough to get caught.

Here in Northallerton, things are the same, but everything feels different. For the first time I feel like I could be happy in Yorkshire. I am applying for jobs back here and I have said before that York is one of my favourite cities in the world. I think that the landscape of Cliffords Tower, the River Ouse and Coney Street will provide me with enough movement to keep me happy. I worry that in the future the itch to move will grab me again and I will spend my life on the run. I don't know what I am running from or what I am running to, but I have to try and stop running for a while, just to rest my feet.

Come Home

Never before has one of my friends gone back through the archives to find out where she was mentioned on my blog. Last night I went home and did what I always do. I have a routine, go home, drop off my stuff, have a cup of tea and then I skip the 20 metres to K's house, which is next door but one.

There, S was waiting and we proceeded to fall straight into our usual discussions about men, shopping, philosophy, houses, jobs and anything else that pops into our conversation. Talking and laughing at breakneck speed is not for the fainthearted. There are many reasons to come home, S and K are just two of them, walking into a room and feeling like you never left is something not every-one gets to experience.

So many changes in so few weeks, one of them being that there is a bigger chance that I will end up in the lives of the people that I have thought about while I was overseas. To be part of the network of phone calls, texts and Friday nights would be fabulous. Maybe I should just come home, there are worse things than being around people you adore and who make you laugh hysterically. In Yorkshire the sun is shining and this afternoon me and my Dad are going to drive up into the Dales so I can take some photos of the landscape, days are never more perfect than this.

May 23, 2006


Provins is a medieval town about an hours drive outside of Paris. It is a small place that has made a whole industry out of giving tours to school-children and educational jousting contests. Don't let this fool you though, the place is absolutely charming. The ramparts that go all the way round the town are ivy covered and battered through hundreds of years of protecting the place. At the heart of the trade routes in and out of Champagne, Provins was an imprortant place years ago. It still retains that look of dignity, every building chipped and worn away.

Walking around the outside of the ramparts brought to mind the locations of films like 'Lord of the Rings'. Some sections were so dramatic that they could be used for the big screen. Mind you, I think that about every ruined Yorkshire monastery that I have ever been to, and no-one is beating down the doors to release wads of cash into the local economy there. The reality is that it is better when these places are undiscovered, although we will forget the six hundred school children.

May 21, 2006

The noise of the fountain

The fountain at St Sulpice is gorgeously loud. On these last few windy Paris days, the noise of the heavy water slamming down onto the old stone brings to mind the power that lays behind it. One of the best things about the Da Vinci code film are the locations, Paris and London simply shine on screen. The scenes at St Sulpice were my favourite, the fountain, the battered stone through the darkness of the scenes of intrigue.

The rest of the film is not as bad as the critics have suggested, but it is not amazing either. It is nestled between fabulous and atrocious on the scale of movies and the balance could be tipped either way depending on how much you loved the book. I liked the book, but took it for what it was, pulp fiction, a page turner. This is a movie based on a book which scoops you up into its revolving story line, they were never going to get that on screen. One to watch though, it was worth my rainy Saturday morning.

May 19, 2006

The answer is blowing in the wind

On avenue Mozart in the 16th there are many little cafes and shops. This is the area that is known in Paris as being very posh, snobby some might say. On Fridays, when I am having a coffee with D, we sit at a little cafe on this street and like to point out women who have the most ridiculously priced designer handbags.

Friday is here at last and I need the caffeine to kick me towards the end of the day so that the wwkend can begin. If I could, I would spend the day over coffee at a leisurely pace, spooning up the soft white clouds on the top of a big creme. After that I would have a wander on the Champs Elysee and watch the tourists wandering around with their cameras and guide books. I would go to Sephora and treat myself to a new juicy tube.

This is really just an extension of my bus fetish, I always want to stay on and ride around instead of getting off and going to work. I just like the feeling of movement so much. As long as I can keep moving in the directions of a day off, lie-ins and wind, rain and sunshine in the Jardin du Luxembourg then I should be OK with the non movement of the rest of the day.

May 18, 2006

Football crazy, football mad

As I walked home from school last night, I took my ususal route past the front of the Trocadero. For the last few mornings they have been errecting scaffolding and blowing up footballs double my own height, but I have remained girlishly ignorant to any sort of football happenings.

So when I kep hearing London and Spanish voices, the recollection of a conversation in the staffroom at lunchtime came searing back and I realised that this was the Champions league final between Arsenal and Barcelona. The Trocadero was a was with marron and navy blue, or bright yellow football shirts. Flags were flying from the back of backpacks and the bus drivers that drove past beeped and waved at the Barcelona supporters.

I found myself in Soufflot when the match started, full of boys turned towards the big screen TV. Lots of highs and lows followed, but I didn't really pay much attention. I just liked to see the colours and hear the pride in the voices of those who have travelled so far to be part of something that they love.

By the way, Arsenal lost 2.1 and their goalie was sent off. Do I sound like I could know stuff about football?

"In life, as in football, you won't go far unless you know where the goalposts are."
Arnold H Glasgow

May 17, 2006

Don't worry baby

I need some love today, so I have sent these flowers to myself. I locked myself out the house last night so have slept in my clothes at D and Ls and come straight to work. It has put me all off kilter so I felt that some bright, yellow tulips were in order.

L stopped off on the way to school and bought me a pain au raisin, which started my day off in buttery heaven. I just want to get to the end so that I can go home and curl up in my own place. The only thing that will get be through the day will be endless cups of strong Yorkshire tea, Taylor of Harrogate reside in my soul.

May 16, 2006

Drama and the big brass band

Sunday afternoon and there is only one place that I would even think about going. Off I wander, the roads are dusty and very busy, people are everywhere. I squeeze my way into the park and notice that the exhibit is finished. Coarse blue sand is all over the pathway and tibetan wind chimes sway from the trees. Everything is in full bloom and the white flowers on the trees make me sneeze, so heavy is their perfume.

A few metres into the park and I notice that there is music coming from the bandstand. Henry Mancini at full volume, gentle, swaying rhythms that seem to blanket the whole park with a calm serenity. I sit and watch for a while, remembering the brass bands that sometimes play in the Museum gardens in York. I think about getting my book out to read, but I don't.

I take photographs. Scrunched up silver paper covering the plant pots. Close up shots of the tiny white flowers that litter the ground. I like playing with my camera, in focus and out. The white bubbles on the top of a milky coffee. While I am taking pictures I hear shouting. Not an argument, students practising a scene for their drama course. Three of them, chairs and hats are used as props. Can I explain how different a place is every-time I go there?

"I'm not one of those complicated, mixed-up cats. I'm not looking for the secret to life...I just go on from day to day, taking what comes."
Frank Sinatra

May 15, 2006

The Elephant in the room

I mentioned a while ago that I had handed in my notice and have not really said a great deal since about what I will be doing for next year. The truth is that I have no more interviews coming up, very few jobs I find to apply for and the summer is flying towards me. I think people must believe me slighly insane for my move but through the job uncertainty, leaving Paris is the right choice, there is no chance that I would stay.

Here I am in the middle of May, leaving at the end of June and I am not really worried about next year. I have an overwhelming feeling that things will be Ok in the end. In this, my thirtieth year, I am enjoying the feeling that I don't have to be grown up for a few weeks. I can pretend that I am totally free, that I don't need a job and will just bum around while I find my muse. I have always known that is what I truly wanted, real freedom. In reality, this comes from having enough money to not have to worry about earning a living, never on the cards for me.

So, I find myself again in the space in-between, as I have been all year. I like this space. I am in no hurry to smash headlong into a life where I know what Tuesday morning will look like. A few more weeks, how long have I been saying that?

"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life"
Oscar Wilde

"All human wisdom is summed up in two word - wait and hope"
Alexandre Dumas

May 12, 2006

California dreamin'

I have a few readers in California, one of whom I always hoped was an old friend, BC who I went to uni with for a year and then stayed with in Cincinatti. For a few moments today I was thrown back to my University days. I am sitting at my computer blowing bubbles with tropical gum I picked up at the Tabac. I am blogging when I should be writing an essay, a linguistic analysis. It is for my Masters in Applied Linguistics and it is comforting to know that I still have the emotional range I did when I was 18. As far as studying goes, I am strictly all about the last minute. Listening to Fallout boy and blowing big pink bubbles is not going to get anything done.

California is so far away and I have often thought of B and wondered how she was doing. I used to love her stories of the famous people that came into the restaurant she worked in. Life is all sunshine and ten hours on your feet for some people. B even had the cast of Friends in there once. Far away from my little world in Yorkshire. Mind you, I met Jamie Cullum twice you know, my life is a whirl of celebrities.

Can you tell that I am trying to put off opening my document that is all about the analysis of meta-language and lexicogrammar? If any-one knows what those words mean, please do let me know...I have no idea.

Photos from the Mosque

May 11, 2006

The Cow Parade

The Cow Parade has arrived in Paris. This is a community art project that is taking over the world one city at a time. Moulded, white cows are given to local artists and then decorated. There are over 80 in Paris at the moment, but I am too lazy to go and check on the Cow Parade website and give accurate facts and figures.

There are funny cows, serious cows, political cows and ironic cows. My favourite is the spiritual cow that can be found near St Sulpice, complete with prayer beads. In true French style, some people are taking these pieces of artwork very seriously. Every time I spot a cow, I have seen people breathly deeply and contemplating the value of one cow over another. I was even chatting to a guy on his bike who was ticking cows off the list he had found on the website

The cows add a bit of lighthearted fun in a city that can look very serious. I loved the cow on St Germain that is made up entirely of spoons. When I took photos of it my rainbow umbrella was reflected in the drops of rain on the backs of them. Each cow is accompanied by bemusement on the faces of tourists, surprise as a local rounds the corner for the first time and sees a life size cow sitting there. Surely an art exhibit like this is all in the reactions?

"Art is never finished, only abandoned"
Leonardo da Vinci

"It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors"
Oscar Wilde

May 10, 2006

A rolling stone gathers no moss

There must be a reason why things are the way they are. There must be a reason why some days we are happy and some days we are sad. Is it all about the weather? Is it everything to do with chemicals in our brains and nothing to do with the clothes we wear? In the middle of trying to get through another boring, blustery, grey Paris day I find myself with too many questions and not enough answers.

Sometimes when I blog I think about the people all over the world who are bored at work. It seems to be a universal point of connection these days. The last few days as I have chatted to friends back in the UK I find that several of them have handed in their resignations. Most with no job no go to, just a desire for something better, or different.

I think it says a great deal that I come into work early every day and the first thing that I do is blog. It takes me 10 minutes and I have a hot cup of tea besides me while I search my photos and post the thoughts of that day. When I work with my Autistic students I feel like I am making a difference, when I am doing paperwork it makes me want to fall asleep. Are you happy doing what you are doing? What would you change if you could?

"I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours and hours"
Jerome K Jerome

May 09, 2006

The length of the weekend

As with Mathematics, the length of the weekend is less than equal to the length of the two remaining sides of the week. After the relaxation of Saturday, I couldn't build up the adrenalin to do anything other than calming activities. Naturally the Jardin du Luxembourg and tea drinking had a great deal to do with what followed.

L and I checked out Mariage Frere as it has been on our tea drinkers list for a while. I have to say not my favourite place that we have visited so far. It is expensive, like 10 euros for a cup of tea expensive. It is beautiful inside, serene, cool and crisp. Being on a national holiday is was also quiet, but I will never find out how busy it will get because I don't think I will go back. It is high up on the Salon de The places in Paris, but I prefer the gold of Fauchon, or the faded glamour of Cador, just a personal taste thing in the end.

After a three day weekend, going back to work particularly smarts. It is wierd to be back here with stuff to do when over the weekend I started to think for a moment what life in Paris would be like without work, almost in holiday mode already. 30th of June is the flight back to the UK and then the whole summer is ahead of me. Just for today, a one hour science lesson, dissection of the heart.

May 07, 2006

All girl action

They say that a picture paints a thousand words and never in my life was I more aware of this than when D and I walked into the Hammam at the Paris Mosque yesterday. We were greeted by the sight of bare-breasted beautiful women of all shapes and sizes lounging on deep blue beds set round the edge of a mosaic, red tinted room. Waiting for their massages while they chatted, drank mint tea and felt free and feminine.

Four days a week at the Mosquee de Paris there is a women only steam and Sauna and the rest of the time the place is only for men. After getting changed we wandered through the mini maze of rooms where women scrubbed each other, relaxed, steamed and sweated. I loved the contrast of the almost unbearable heat and the ice cold pool that sat in the same room. D and I spent hours in this haven from the outside world. We forgot where we were, imagined for a few hours that life is all about simplicity, skin and sharing.

To feel confident enough to feel at ease in a room full of naked women is quite a feeling. We spend too much time comparing ourselves. Each woman more perfect than the last, I knew that every single one imagines themselves less than this. But that afternoon my skin and my body image were scrubbed and massaged until soft and shiny.

After we were buffed and kneaded free of stress we sat in the courtyard and drank more hot, sweet mint tea. It made me think of Jordan, and I had cravings again to travel through the Middle East. The music from the waiting room, the rose petals in the fountain, the amazing hospitality and wondrous, cracked blue tiles on every surface. The Paris Mosque is comforting and homely, in a beautifully exotic way. If you want to escape city life, this is your place.

May 05, 2006

Apple of my eye

Everything feels different in Paris. The green leaves, the winding down of school and the packing up of the apartment. There is a lightness to the air that is lost in the Winter months. Going straight home after work and watching DVDs seems like sheer folly when the sun is shining and there are parks to sit in.

With Friday rearing its hind legs and getting ready to gallop into anothor long weekend (I love France!), my most favourite of places is getting ready to give me a little surprise. The main walkway down the Jardin du Luxembourg is closed off and there are men who are potting new trees and hanging huge photos from steel wire across each walkway. The images on the posts along the outside have been updated and now show the most vivid images of the world underwater.

Just when I had given up on my little JDL and imagined that it would keep me settled, but not offer anything new, there Paris goes to surprise me again. You can't take anything for granted in this city.

May 04, 2006

Cheese Mountain

On Saturday night we all walked to Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter in search of the best Fondue in the whole city of Paris. This tip had come directly from a French waiter friend of Ds, so we knew that it must be good. We found the wooden cow sitting outside and the wood covered walls. So had everyone else it seemed and we stood by the grill that crisps up the creme brulees and sweltered as we waited.

My God, was it worth the wait. A huge bubbling pot of alcoholy, cheesy goodness was hoiked onto the burner and simmered away while we played power games that I always won. Fondue is really like psychological warfare, you hold your piece of bread whilst trying to break the will of your opponent. For some reason I cannot fathom, none of the other diners were trying this game.

With more summery heat upon us, hot cheese and a small fire on your table is not the best choice of an evening. This is such a shame, because this was an evening of such comfort in food, such social eating, cheese sharing. Who can want anything more from a Saturday night? Go have a wander down Mouffetard if you have a cheese craving, great restaurant, lovely staff, wondrous food that envelopes you in its arms.

"Age is something that deosn't matter, unless you are a cheese"
Billy Burke

May 03, 2006

10 things about Warsaw to Paris

1) My blog has had its first birthday and I didn't notice.
2) I have only been posting pictures for four months.
3) I have only had one guest blogger, but have plans for some more.
4) Warsaw to Paris contains 281 posts, including this one.
5) I set up the blog as a way to record my move from Warsaw to Paris, hence the name.
6) It makes me sad that I never had a camera when I was in Poland to take pictures that I could have posted on my blog.
7) Warsaw to Paris started as a travel blog, but that is not where it has ended up.
8) There are three pictures of me on this site.
9) I have dreams that some-one will find this blog and make me a famous writer/photographer.
10)I read so many fabulous blogs, that I think number 9 really is a fantasy.

"Who sees the human face correctly; the photographer, the mirror or the painter?"
Pablo Picasso