Tag Archives: fabulous vacations

Fake It Til You Make It

1 Jul

Distance Vision1

I have terrible distance vision. Both literally and figuratively speaking. I always want things to happen now. Today. Not next month or next year. And I have trouble seeing that a little bit each day adds up to a whole lot.

Which is a bit of a problem for someone trying to write a novel.

In the beginning, I would set aside whole Saturdays every once in awhile, work nonstop from dawn to dusk and then get frustrated that the novel didn’t seem any closer to being finished.

We’re often told to fake it til you make it. If you want to be a fit person, then turn up to the gym every day, until you are one. And, if you want to be a writer, then sit down in that chair, and turn up to that blank page every day.

It wasn’t until I started taking my laptop with me on the train to and from work every day that I started to see progress. Real progress.

Distance Vision2

But I couldn’t see that day to day. Thanks to my crappy distance vision. All I could see was how much I hadn’t yet done, how many weeks of editing lay ahead. But I just kept picking up that laptop, opening it up to a new page.

Within the space of two weeks I had advanced 10,000 words. And in the space of three months I had a novel.

And in hindsight (which is always 20/20) that was no time at all.

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Glasses image courtesy of Bart Heird on Flickr.
Vision quote image courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr.
Maldives image courtesy of Sarah_Ackerman on Flickr.
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This will be the last post you see from me for awhile, as I am off on our long awaited trip to France for the Wedding 2.0 followed by our honeymoon in Italy and the Maldives. Jealousy-inducing photos to come in August. À bientôt 🙂Maldives
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The Paris Writer

10 Jun

Paris Morning Light

The Dream

I wake early, before my alarm. I dress comfortably and warmly and close the apartment door quietly behind me. I walk the short distance to the bakery on the corner. There is a closer bakery, but the croissants at this one are second to none. I wave good morning to Philippe, the greengrocer’s son who is busy setting his fruit stand on the rue Cadet. With a warm baguette nestled under my arm, I walk the long way home, savouring the half-light in which everything still feels new and hopeful. The day is yet to tire us out, wear us down, or disappoint with the things it does not bring. I climb the stairs to the apartment quickly, excited by the work waiting for me today. Perhaps if I am efficient this morning, I can take a few hours off this afternoon and go sit by the Canal St Martin. Cheered by this thought, I unlock the door. With one hand, I spread my baguette with a thin layer of salted butter, and with the other, I gently ease my laptop open and take a deep breath.

Snooze

The Reality

I wake violently to the incessant sound of my alarm ringing from across the room. Leaping out of bed to silence the infernal thing, I smack my shin on the edge of the coffee table. Hopping on one foot and cursing under my breath, I consider going back to bed. But, I’m up now; I might as well make the most of it. I pull on my oldest dressing gown, which is looking decidedly grubby with reminders of last week’s spaghetti bolognese on the sleeve. I flick the switch on the ancient IKEA kettle and rummage in the cupboard for some stale breakfast biscuits. I promise myself that tomorrow I will make the effort to go to the bakery. The sun is already streaming in through the window, so with one hand shielding my eyes against the glare, I roughly force my sleeping laptop awake. I have two articles to submit and I’m three days late with my blog. I think longingly of an afternoon stroll along the quais of the Seine, Berthillon ice cream in hand. Quickly I push the thought away. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be finished by midnight.

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Paris in the morning image courtesy of l.gence on Flickr.
Snooze image courtesy of MacUK on Flickr.

Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

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Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

Gaufres de Chez Meert

22 Apr

Meert, une institution rue Esquermoise

As the cold weather begins to envelop Melbourne this week, I’ve been thinking about Lille. For me, visiting Max’s hometown means a great many things. It means cold weather, sometimes snow. It means comfort food and hot drinks and long, indulgent meals en famille. It also means eating the gaufres de Chez Meert.

It’s no secret that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. From delicate macarons to thick slices of brioche studded with sugar crystals and spread with nutella, visiting Lille is a little bit like a trip to your grandparents house, where all the things that are off limits in normal life are allowed.

When max first told me about the waffles on offer at Chez Meert, I was unenthusiastic. As a child in Australia, waffles came frozen in boxes, and on rare occasions we were allowed to pop one in the toaster and eat it drenched in maple syrup with a scoop of Peter’s vanilla ice cream. Delicious, yes, but not in comparison to all the other finely crafted sweet treats France has to offer. I had also tasted a waffle in Belgium a few months earlier, and whilst I enjoyed the nutella-smeared, whipped cream-adorned concoction, I wouldn’t have returned in a hurry. Max simply shook his head at my reticence and said ‘Tu verra’.

And see, I did.

Gaufres de Chez Meert2

These ‘waffles’ could not be further from those of my childhood, or the one I’d eaten in Brussels. These were long, delicate, pliable tongue-shaped wafers, sandwiched together by an intoxicating vanilla bean paste. They were as moist as other waffles are dry, and require no accompaniments whatsoever, except perhaps a strong espresso to cut through the sweetness.

In the interest of research, I tasted not only their classic flavour, but their speculoos one too. And though we all know how much I love speculoos, I think the classic just wins out in the flavour race.

Getting to eat a gaufres from Chez Meert has long been a treat exclusively reserved for trips to Lille, and the only way to enjoy them back home in Paris’ 9th arrondissement was to buy up big on our last day in Lille and practise extreme self-control on the car ride home.  But, with the 2012 opening of a Meert café in Paris, this is no longer the case.

So be sure to check them out next time you are in Paris, or Lille. You’ll never think of waffles the same way again.

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Chez Meert image courtesy of fred_v on Flickr.
Waffle image courtexy of
bionicgrrrl on Flickr.

Les Intouchables

8 Apr

Les Intouchables

Usually when someone tells me I MUST do something, it really puts me off. I’m not sure if that means I have inherently wilful nature, or what, but there is no surer way to make sure I don’t do something. I am even less motivated if the thing in question has taken the world by storm (i.e. Twilight, 50 Shades, cake pops…)

But, as I’ve admitted before, sometimes when I give in, the results are truly amazing (like when I finally decided to give Il Solito Posto a go). And so, a month ago I finally gave in and watched Les Intouchables. Everyone from my old friends in Paris, to members of Max’s extended family, to English speakers who had seen it at the film festival had raved about it, practically non-stop for a year. But for some strange reason I just didn’t want to. I guess I didn’t imagine that any film could be THAT good, and that I’d inevitably be disappointed. I know, I know, it’s not like every movie I watch is of impeccable standard or anything (I have seen both the Sex and the City movies more than once), but on this topic I would not budge.

I made excuses not to watch it. We were actually in France when it was released at the cinema, but I wanted to wait and watch it with French subtitles. Then, when Max brought the DVD back with him after his latest Paris trip, I let it languish in the cupboards. And when Max dragged it out to watch one lazy Sunday afternoon, I settled in for a snooze on the couch.

Puppy snooze

Now, it isn’t often that I’ll admit to being astoundingly mistaken, but this was one such occasion. I am about to become one of those people I hate, who tells everyone they MUST watch this film. For this, I apologise, but really, you must.

It is the spectacular opposite of politically correct, simultaneously bound by and gloriously free from stereotypes. It is a no holds barred, deliciously vibrant examination of how rich life can be, irrespective of circumstance.

I know that you aren’t convinced, because I wasn’t either. But go on, even if it’s just so you can come back on here and say ‘You were wrong, I hated it!’ – just watch it.

Go on.

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Puppy snooze image courtesy of Josh Koonce on Flickr.

Paris Weather Envy

18 Mar

Montmartre Snow

It has been snowing a lot in France this year. Even Paris has received a generous dusting – just last week we were all in awe of the ‘skiing in Montmartre’ video. The only problem was, I was watching it from my Melbourne apartment, where I had the air conditioning on full blast and had employed the usual of a small fan in an attempt to cool us down.

Because I have the Météo Paris app on my smartphone, I can’t help but sneak a look at the forecast from time to time. And, when staring down the barrel of the eighth day in a row of 30 degree plus temperatures – minus 2 seemed almost… refreshing.

It’s absolutely a case of wanting what you don’t have, perhaps sprinkled with a touch of rose-coloured glass wearing. See, I appear to recall only the good about snow in Paris. I remember the first time I saw snow fall in Paris. It was 2am, and something had woken me. I moved silently to my small window and watched as it fell softly, yet determinedly into the still courtyard below.

Hot chocolate

I remember the warmth and conviviality of the cafes we’d duck into, where we’d eat warming bowls of onion soup and drink jugs of chocolat chaud to revive us.

P1030930

I remember the fireplace at Max’s parents house in Lille, and the big fluffy slippers Max gave me for Christmas.

What I choose to forget is the pain of a metro strike on a snow day, where the buses don’t run and the crowds are suffocating. I forget the inconvenience of having to shower at night, instead of in the morning to ensure my hair was bone dry before leaving the house to avoid an instant cold migraine. I have pushed aside the unattractive image of me, bundled up in a billion layers under my bulky winter coat, tramping inelegantly through the slippery cobblestone streets in my gumboots…

P1030928

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Snow in Montmartre image courtesy of Nicolas DS on Flickr.
Hot chocolate image courtesy of johnbailey63 on Flickr.

Paris for Tea Lovers

4 Mar

I love tea. And not just a little bit. This is a full blown infatuation.

I love all kinds of tea. Black tea, flavoured tea, herbal tea. Tea with milk, tea without. In a mug, in a cup. In the morning, in the afternoon, before bed.

Tea cup

I love that there is a type of tea for every occasion. Tea for calming you down, tea for waking you up, tea to aid digestion, tea to fight off colds. Tea just because.

I’m not particularly brand loyal, switching from Lipton to Twinings to Bushells without hesitation. Though T2 teas are my favourite for loose leaf varieties, as much due to the tea itself as to the funky black and orange store décor.

I’m used to being out of place – living in Melbourne and NOT drinking coffee puts me firmly in a minority group.

Mariage Freres

And, as a tea-lover living in France, I expected a similar response. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that quali-tea was as ubiquitous in the cafes and bistros as espresso. Boutique Mariage Frères became my paradise of sorts, and every time I return to France or someone visits Australia I request a box of Lipton white tea with rose, available in French supermarkets everywhere, but strangely not in Australia.

Mosquee de Paris

But my all time favourite French tea experience would have to be that offered by La Mosquée de Paris. The blue and white mosaic tiled courtyard is the perfect setting for a pot of teeth-achingly sweet mint tea, Moroccan style. There’s nowhere I’d rather be on a grey, drizzly and humid October afternoon, than it that courtyard, glass of steaming tea in hand, watching the rain drip around me and breathing in the sweet fumes of shisha that abound.

What is your favourite tea experience?

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Tea lover image courtesy of JacciR on Flickr.
Mariage Frères image courtesy of StaneStane on Flickr.
Mosquée de Paris tea image courtesy of P Donovan on Flickr.

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