August 30, 2008

Funny face

For months, maybe even the two years and 10 weeks since I left Paris, I have avoided the city like the plague. Books, films, and even music that reminded me of the City of Light were banned in my thoughts, and in my near vicinity. There were moments of course, when I would lightly touch my Paris Pratique, well worned and dotted throughout with little notes in Ls handwriting with an address of a Salon de The that we once spent a Saturday afternoon in search of. But I would quickly snap my fingers away and try to think of Budapest, or Warsaw, or Yorkshire and the feelings would get put back into a box that has never really been opened.

My relationship with Paris can only be described as one of unfinished business. I left after a year that wasn't long enough and have stopped myself thinking of the place ever since. I still speak to L and occasionally D, but having not stepped foot back into the country since I left means that I am not a good enough friend to either of them, although I think of the two of them all the time.

For some reason the silence has stopped and I now find Paris herself in my thoughts a great deal. The light, the Jardin, D and her new apartment in the 16th with G, baguettes, fromage and a million little things that made up daily life there. I am watching French films, reading books about people who went to visit and never left. Listening to Edith Piaf and muttering to myself in French when I should be speaking Hungarian. In short, I miss Paris.

Maybe this is all floating to the surface because I am finding myself on the edge of not one, but two trips to France in the next four months. Nice in November and Toulouse for New Year. I wonder how I will feel at touching down in the country that I have avoided for so long? I miss Warsaw too, but there have been regular visits since I left and I have always known how I feel about Poland. Why now? I have to say that I am not sure, but I will have plenty of opportunity over the next four months to find out.

August 28, 2008


I know that the good and healthy thing to do is to live in the moment. For some reason there has been a shift in my attitude to life and work and I am still basking in the warmth of my summer epiphany, even though it is already millions of miles away. I am having a good time at work and the new things that I have started in my second year are all going well and will make me more motivated I am sure. It is funny that I feel more settled, and although I hesitate to use this word, happier. I am looking forward to this year in Budapest very much and am relaxed in each day as the dawn breaks.

Yet I still sigh with satisfaction as the blur refuses to leave my peripheral vision. Something that is round the corner, over the hill, on the next street, I can't quite picture it yet, or maybe I just don't want to. It is there all the same, waiting to be seen and acknowledged. I have often wondered how I have managed 6 whole years of this nomadic life when it is clear that my emotions cannot take the strain. Never stops me pushing myself to the limit though one day I might fall over. This is my last cryptic post I promise, from now on it will be all autumn in Budapest and happy Sunday afternoons.

August 22, 2008

Near wild heaven (not near enough)

Warsaw for half term, Toulouse for New Year. Now that the school year has very nearly started for me, my thoughts as usual, turn to holidays and the light that needs to come at the end of the long 8 week tunnel ahead of me. Mind you, this year I find that I am looking forward the kids coming back to school and the new things that I will be doing are making me feel more and more excited about the September feeling that comes this year regardless of whether you are involved in school life or not.

Budapest is still incredibly hot and I have spent the last week sweating as I have sorted out my classroom, nearly finished now. Only a weekend spreads out between me and the 6.00 am starts that characterise my working life. Where did the summer go? What happened to my glorious two weeks of waking up and watching the mountains while N made me coffee and I read book after book? It has all slipped away now and all that is left is the promise of dusty autumn Sundays, with a cooling breeze and walks kicking leaves across Margit Sziget. One amazing season is replaced by another, not yet though, Budapest still has a little summer left in her yet.

August 17, 2008

Bridge the Gap

I arrived back in Budapest on Tuesday evening to scorching heat and wild rays of sunshine after a couple of days pit stop in North Yorkshire after Spain. I wondered how it would be to be back in my apartment alone after nearly two months of company and I am finding that the quiet needs some adjusting to. Maybe I am ready after all these years to break the silence, how can you tell?

Budapest feels nice in the summer. From my window, as usual, there are the Orthodox Jews on their way home from the Dohany Synagogue as well as the local Gypsy community sitting on their doorsteps having a good natter and soaking up the sun on fold-away chairs. The sunshine makes the bullet picked facades of the buildings seem like survivors, not victims, which is what my district can feel like in the winter. It could be that I am just projecting anyway.

I thought that things might be different when I returned, that there would be some sort of feeling of coming home. I imagined that I would be overwhelmed with the familiarity, and yet I find that Budapest still does not have the grip on me that some of my other cities have had. That being said, it is nice to be back and I have fallen in love with my apartment all over again. I have even had a few nights out here and there, Szimpla Kert on Wednesday, Hold Udvar on Friday.

With the clarity that the summer break brought with it, I no longer feel neither here nor there. The world is a more settled place when we have something to aim for. I think that I have found the bridge that connects this part of my life with the next one, which is all I wanted last year. Now I am already imagining the next few weeks. I'll be back to Krakow, which I adore and will also be going to Nice for a few days. Everything is lighter as my second year in Budapest begins.

August 11, 2008


The holidays are nearly over and I am one flight away from Budapest and some semblance of a normal life. I will be back in my apartment by myself, and I will get up at the same time every day to go to work. It sounds like the world will be just as it was when I finished in June, but the truth is that many things have changed over the last few weeks.

I find that I hold a determination, a conviction about what I want from the next few years that simply was not there before. I feel like there are good things to come, that there are more adventures to be had. As usual, I will stay away from stating anything definite until there is no going back and the road ahead is more set in stone. I suppose that the bottom line is that my summer holidays have done me a great deal of good, most notably sneaking up behind me in those moments I didn't realise were made for revelations and clarity.

August 08, 2008

Guest Post by S - Pissimism

Pissing about is underrated.

The biggest concerns this holiday have consisted of: Should I go for a swim? Or read a book? That kitchen looks a bit grubby should I give the floor a sweep? What should we have for lunch/dinner? How long should I sit out in the sun?

I have to admit although I was looking forward to spending time with A, N and two teenage girls I was nevertheless wondering exactly how the two weeks would pan out. Me and four females in a villa with not a whiff of testosterone in sight! But I can honestly say I have had a great time.What have we done in these last fourteen days? Not much. We have made a conscientious effort to do nothing. What have I gained from the experience? A great deal.

The majority of our lives are made up of the daily grind, our work, the complex web of connections and relationships which we carry around with us wherever we go and whatever we are doing. There are very few times in a person’s life when all of the normal cares and concerns disappear completely. Genuine pissing about and talking bollocks allows this to happen. It allows us - for a brief time anyway - to live in the moment (even if that moment involves being laughed at hysterically for chuntering to myself about which lid is the correct lid for the pate) and not think about the past or the future.

Some would argue that this is not real life and is a fantasy situation which cannot last. I would be inclined to agree, however, when moments like these do happen they can be incredibly liberating. You can feel so relaxed that you actually find when real life creeps back into your consciousness, as it inevitably will, you are marvellously equipped to deal with it because the pissing about has not been time wasted at all and a great deal of the baggage you may have been carrying around with you seems somehow lighter. These moments allow you to procrastinate about what is really important and hopefully you won't merely go back to the daily grind as before but will have changed a little, for the better.

It has been a real blessing to have this time and space for doing nothing and as I said at the beginning pissing about is underrated and when you look at the benefits and blessings people can receive from it then it could never really be viewed as time wasted at all but time well spent and a blessing which we should avail ourselves of more often.

"Many blessings have I sent your way: have you availed yourself of them. Well, have you?"
(Jewish Talmud)

August 07, 2008

Spanish Villa

Past, present or future?

You Live in the Present

You take things one day at a time.

And it turns out, that's a pretty great way to live.

You aren't consumed by the past, and you're aren't obsessed with the future.

You live in the now, and you enjoy each moment.

While most people don't live in the present enough, make sure you don't live in it too much.

It would be a mistake to forget your past or neglect to plan for the future.

August 02, 2008

Reading update

I finished reading 'The Zahir', which I really enjoyed, coming as it did at a time when any insight into how emotions mix with destiny was very welcome indeed. After that I moved onto a bit of fluffy chick lit 'Over You' by Lucy Diamond, which was quick and easy to read, not taxing and not hugely well written either. After that I read Bill Brysons 'Shakespeare', which I couldn't put down, being fabulously written and really interesting. Another little bit of a happy ending with Cecelia Aherns 'Thanks for the memories', which is another feel good story, but I actually think that Ahern is very talented at what she does, and several laugh out loud moments, I finished that too.

All of the books to read that I brought with me have been finished and now I am hanging on Ns coat tails, waiting for her to finish books so that I can read them. I am holding in my hands one of her current cast-offs 'East of the Sun' by Julia Gregson. I do love reading, hopefully I will get through a few more while I am sitting under the sun.

August 01, 2008

If only, if only

Life on holiday is what you wait all year for and the last week in Javea has not let me down. The routine that we have all settled into goes something like this...
Get up, spend two hours in silence on the terrace with S and N before the girls get up and start making noise.
Sunbathe and swim, have lunch when we can be bothered to get out of the water. Siesta in the afternoon, or back into the water because it is just too hot to consider anything else. Back onto the terrace in the early evening, followed by a long, late dinner.
That pretty much is it, but I am not sure how the hours manage to slip through your fingers when so little seems to have been accomplished. A week has passed by already and I am so blissfully happy that we have another one to go. I know that once the week has passed it will take me crashing headlong into flights to Budapest and life in Hungary again. I'm happy about that too, but don't need to think about that now...the water is calling to me.