On Friendship…..

This is a something I’ve wanted to write about for a while, but struggled with finding the right words, not sure if I could adequately describe what’s in my heart, and whether or not it would come across as self-indulgent….but maybe all blogging is self-indulgent anyway, so, here goes….

Life teaches us that time is precious….sometimes that lesson is delivered in really tough circumstances, perhaps with the loss of someone who is important to us. If we’re lucky, we learn this early, and well, and live our lives accordingly….we love well, wholeheartedly, and we give others that most precious gift, our time….even when it’s at a personal cost, because we are invested in that person, that relationship, that friendship. I am so very, very grateful for the many, many gifts of time from friends, as well as the beautiful, thoughtful acts of kindness and friendship that I’ve been lucky enough to experience. There are moments that I’ll never, ever forget when people showed up for me, had my back and helped me through….not through grand gestures or extravagant acts, but by taking a few minutes to check in, share a laugh or some kind words and, essentially, share that precious thing….time. I truly hope that I have been a good friend in return.

As this year concludes, I’ve come to the incredibly sad realisation that 2 relationships that I truly believed were rock solid, long-standing friendships were not that at all, it’s time to let them go, and it hurts, really hurts. To be honest, I feel like a bit of an eejit, the slow horrible realisation dawning that the gift of my time, and caring, and love, was not really reciprocated….that it was just convenient, or fun, or the best option at the time, useful perhaps, but, essentially, a one-way street, where I’ve ended up feeling let down. Tomorrow is this year’s only super moon, a really good time to let things go. I don’t regret anything, and will continue to throw my whole self into friendships (not sure I have a half-way button!), but maybe with a little more thought for my now somewhat scarred heart.

The other “B” word…

That is, “bordel”…..commonly used in French to describe an absolutely, feckin’ enormous mess! I learned this word from my father in law maaaany years ago when he was describing Hubby’s technique for loading suitcases into the boot (trunk) of the car 😂😂

Had a character-building bordel experience last Sunday morning after a fab few hours browsing and buying at an awesome brocante. Having secured a painting that he loved, from an artist whose work he collected, father in law decided that it was time to go home for lunch 🙄 Hell hath no fury like an Irishwoman interrupted mid-shopping 😂….anyway, “good girl” kicked in, so l left him guarding our purchases while I trekked over 1km to retrieve the car. This was bordel part 1…..beautiful little French village, totally unprepared for onslaught of cars for brocante, meant that we were parked “some” distance away. It was a lovely morning, so I was happy for the walk. Anyway….get to car & realise that I’ll have to drive in opposite direction to find a spot to turn around to go back & retrieve father in law. Not a problem…..2+ kms later, perform an illegal 7 point turn in someone’s driveway 😅 Tootling back along the road when I come face to face with a Frenchwoman driving one of those enormous (in my view) Chrysler people carriers. Now, we were on a little boreen (Irish for small road), with cars parked all along one side….and nowhere to pass each other…..🙃 So, muggins here decides to reverse enough to allow monster truck to pass……1.5kms later….in reverse….on the “wrong” side of the road (for me), and without hitting a single wing mirror 👍👍 I finally find a spot to pull in so that she could get past, which she did, without so much as a little wave to say “thank you” (which would constitute social death in Ireland btw). So, feeling just a tad annoyed (understatement of the year!!), off I trundle a second time, down the boreen, to collect father in law. Yes, of course, I run into another car, driven by a young, arrogant, French prick (who stared aggressively & swore at me),  and yes, I reversed again…..then gave him the 1 finger salute (in retrospect, blowing kisses at him would have annoyed him more, kicking myself that I didn’t do that….damn!!). Finally returned to father in law, who wasn’t wearing his hearing aid that day & therefore missed all my bordel references, as I tried to get him into the car as quickly as possible while we blocked a car park exit…..what an utter bordel!! 😂😂

The French dinner table

IMG_3099.JPGSurvived not one, but two, family dining occasions this week 😅 French family dining occasions tend to involve multiple, very animated, conversations at once, so it’s a challenge for a less than fluent French speaker to keep up. The secret is to find the person who speaks the slowest and avoid giving yourself whiplash by trying to keep up with everything!! 😂

The first occasion was my niece in law’s 13th Birthday….family lunch in Paris…..my niece was adopted in Ethiopia when she was 9 months old and is quite the young Parisienne (she loves clothes!), the highlight of the day for me was when her Mum told her that the absolutely best gift she ever received was when she left Ethiopia with my her in her arms. My niece’s face lit up, must admit, there was a tear in my eye 😊

The second occasion was one that I had hoped to avoid…..the Parisian dinner party 😱😱 If you’ve ever seen a French film, you’ll know that it is not sufficient to show up, with a few bottles of something nice, and chat to people. Non, non, non….one’s brain must be fully alert to the “subtext” conversation, primed to respond with lots of witty, well-timed banter….it’s like double entendres on speed! Happily, the other dinner party guests were Hubby’s cousins and in-laws (so, not quite hostile! 😂) and some generous pours of wine lubricated the conversation 🍷 My only faux pas was offering the first guests a glass of champagne before the others arrived…..quelle horreur!! 😱🍾🥂 After an awkward 10 minutes, while we all sat there looking at the bottle 😂 my Mother in law relented and allowed me to serve it!

My Father in law is an absolute art fanatic, so he very kindly brought me to my first ever art auction house in Paris. I fell in love with a piece, and submitted a pre-bid as the sale was the following day. Received an email earlier today advising that my bid was successful! See photo above, it’s titled “The woman with the big heart” and was created in 1966 😉😉

My first countryside flea market is tomorrow morning, so, in a step towards risk mitigation on the driving front, I asked my Father in law if he would accompany me on a test drive to the village in question. So, armed with: Google Maps (hilarious French pronounciation in an Aussie accent….not knocking it….was very, very happy to hear it!!), Father in law’s Michelin map, print out I’d brought with me and the car’s GPS…..off we set 🚘 The good news is that we found the village (thank you, thank you Google Maps 👍👍), the not so good news is that I had “Poutain” (whore) shouted at me by a very charming French woman. Father in law was anxious that I understand that she was referring to my driving and not me personally 😅😂

I’m writing this while sitting outside a cafe. Have belatedly realised that I was supposed to order at the counter……think I’d better move on before I get shouted at again!! Happy Friday everyone 😀 xx

There’s Perrier in the beer fridge….

…..so don’t panic!! If it’s necessary to re-hydrate at 6am before hitting the flea market, and push comes to shove, there’s expensive fizzy water to be had in the beer (minibar) fridge 😅 and, no doubt, the disco shower will be a great help!! Unfortunately, for a woman who normally doesn’t set foot outside the front door without an Alka Seltzer on her person, am strangely an AS-free zone…..😬😬 Not good, but at least I do have some Solpadeine on me (tho completely forgot to buy some when in Ireland, so now they’re only to be used in “special circumstances” (like a 6am hangover)).

Bucket List Bliss

So, today was “collect the hire car day”, having NEVER driven on the “other” side of the road before, ever, ever….what could possibly go wrong?? It started off well when I only had to explain to my Father-in-law approx 10 times exactly why I was collecting the car today when I only really needed it from 7am on Sunday, this included during the walk to the EuropCar office (“but there’s no parking until after 4.00pm”!!) and while standing at the counter!! 😂😂

Safely tucked into the car, we then proceeded to exit the most ridiculously narrow (for a car hire place) olde worlde stone tunnel/exit…..this was accompanied by a screeeeeching….griiiiinding noise as I scraped the passenger side of the car along the wall of the exit 🙄🙄 Great job missus 👍👍 I’d only just opted for the full insurance package (waaaaay cheaper at the counter FYI) so drove off resolving to deal with it another day (what is happening to me??!). After a 3 mins drive to my in-laws’ home, we found not one, but two (yay!!), parking spaces 😀👍 confidently headed for the first one & immediately realised it was too narrow (I’d booked a tank-like care in case of “driving on the wrong side of the road” accidents 🤓🤓). Unfortunately, this realisation dawned AFTER I’d raced into the spot (before a Frenchie driver beat me to it) and proceeded to get stuck at a 45 degree angle between a Range Rover and a Renault. Admit it, we’ve all done this at some point!! My Father-in-law has now seen me sweat buckets, swearing like a drunken sailor during > 10 mini reverses & forwards to extricate “tiny the tank”. Miraculously, the other space was still empty and tiny the tank is now elegantly parked, at an angle, next to a tree 😀🌳🌲 If the French traffic wardens give out tickets for bad parking, I’m in big trouble!!

After all that, and having established that my Mother-in- law doesn’t have a secret stash of Xanax(!), a quick train trip to Paris got me to where I’m staying tonight….OFF Paris Seine….somewhere I’ve wanted to stay since it opened last year 😀 It’s a floating hotel (with a giant inflatable flamingo 👍👍) next to Gare d’Austerlitz, in the 13th arrondissement. Yes, you can feel a floating sensation….so not for those with a tendency to sea sickness. Really, really happy I did this, the bar is perfect for Friday night drinks, the bar team is fun and chatty, and the view is exactly what I imagined 😀🥂 Happy Friday! xx

Staying with my French family

My lovely French in-laws collected me at the airport today and brought me stay with them at my Hubby’s childhood home in Paris. It is so nice to see where he grew up and studied 😀 His old bedroom will be my study while I’m here.

And so, the next chapter commences….now I must start to pursue our business idea of selling French objets online, to the world. Step one is sourcing the objets, and assessing supply continuity….starting tomorrow afternoon. Then, it gets really serious on Saturday morning with my first pre-dawn visit to Les Puces 😬 Pre-dawn is key….and I’m sooooo not a morning person! I can’t even say “up at Sparrow Fart” correctly, it always comes out as “farrow Spart” 😂😂

Darling Dublin

God I love this city! Lived here for 13 years, and always love coming back.

Staying at the wonderful Brooks Hotel, on Drury Street, where the head porter knows me (and my shopping habits!), and always offers a warm welcome. How nice is it to walk in somewhere on the other side of the world and have someone call you by name?

Spent 3 happy hours today at my all time favourite department store, Brown Thomas on Grafton Street. It’s a Dublin institution, with a famous staircase to the first floor that you HAVE to walk up (forget the escalators, the exercise will do you good!). After  getting some Irish gifts for my French in-laws, and exercising remarkable (and rare) restraint in the clothes department, I had a little splurge in the beauty department (where they also gave me some fab samples 😀 big thumbs up to Sisley and La Mer 👍👍).

Rounded off the day catching up over dinner at Daks restaurant (they just won Georgina Campbell Restaurant of the Year today, very well deserved. Must also observe that they have the best team of charming Frenchmen, second only to the wonderful Claire’s Kitchen in Sydney 😉😉) with a remarkable former colleague, who continues to be a trail blazer and champion for women in corporate life while also having her own very successful Board career. Great company, great chat and a terrific sounding board for my business idea. Spending time with her is always great fun, not to mention the inspiration I get from seeing how she links thoughts, ideas and people.

Falling in love again

With London, that is. Chelsea has always felt like home to me, having lived here for many years. Those small, everyday human connections come easily.

Finally made it to Bibendum for oysters today, after 3 previous failed attempts (yes, persistent when I want to be!), great food, service was a bit hit & miss. Very happy that the Irish Dungarven oysters were the stand out 😀🇮🇪 though the half bottle of Billecart-Salmon went straight to my head!

Wonderful, witty art exhibition at the Conran Store next door, really made me smile….see pics above! I left a note for the artist to say “thank you” for making me smile 😀

Wandered along one of my favourite streets in SW3, Walton Street, and was stoked to find that an old time haunt, Percy Bass Ltd. is still there at no. 184. The shop is still fronted by the most wonderfully eccentric English lady (would be an awesome dinner guest), stuffed to the roof with eclectic interiors objets and supported by several American staff who I’m sure are wondering how on earth their interior design course led them here!! Have my eye on a few things for shipping to a certain beach house….😉

Seeing some very dear friends for drinks & dinner tonight. Found a favourite champagne, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, at a small wine store & tasting room, Pavilion Wine, just around the corner from where I’m staying. I bought the bubbles yesterday & asked them to keep them for me until this evening. They were a bit surprised, but happy to help. It’s a friendly spot, where their regulars all seem to know each other, will definitely return 👍 Not to mention that there’s an even more awesome cheese store right next door 😋🧀



IMG_2798Staying at my absolute fave hotel in London 😀 However, forgot to add “not the red room” to my booking. Guess what, got the red room…pic attached! 😂

Johnny, the fabulous & wonderfully Italian concierge, quickly found me a different room, and now I will nod off with Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher as my guardians! Seriously, they’re looking over the bed!


Custard Tarts

Sitting in Etihad’s lounge at Abu Dhabi, munching on some really excellent custard tarts. Every time I do this trip, I have a fruit platter on the plane, arrive in the lounge feeling virtuous (as you do) and then go completely mad eating loads of custard tarts 😱 For the record, the pain au chocolat is pretty good too 😋

My invisible travelling companion, depression, or, as I’ve named it, the Black Hole, is taking a back seat at the moment. Mr. BH first appeared in my life in 2005 when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which triggered early menopause, and dissolved all hope of becoming a Mum. Most of the time, I successfully keep B Hole at bay. However, this last 12 months has been a constant struggle, with many hours spent trying to scramble back up those Black Hole walls. For now, I’ve made it back up those walls, standing at the edge of BH, and that’s okay 👍