Saturday, January 31, 2009

A little peek onto my bedside table

I've never been a one-book-girl. I think its nicer to have several on the go at once, so that I can read whatever suits my mood at the time. 

To this end, I always have a pile of books on my bedside table so that I can make up my mind once I'm in bed whether I'd prefer something light, or something serious, or something that will put me to sleep. Actually, what often happens is that I'll read something so serious that I wont be able to sleep, and then I'll have to turn the light back on and read a chapter of Harry Potter so I can think *happy  thoughts* and be able to nod off. Here's what's in my stack at the moment: 

Je Suis Australienne by Rosemary Lancaster (University of W.A. Press, 2008) 

This book was sent to me for Christmas by an Australian friend, who obviously knows me way too well. It's a collection of stories about Australian women who lived in Paris between 1800 and 1945, beautifully retold by way of their letters and diaries. I haven't got very far into it yet, but I can't wait to be inspired by their tales of life in Paris, and to see whether there are any links to my own! (This is one of my favourite things about reading books or watching films about Paris nowadays - so many of the things they mention are things I've seen or experienced as well, and it makes me feel more parisian, somehow.) 

The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernières (Minerva, 1993) 

I picked this one up yesterday, actually, at my favourite english bookstore Shakespeare & Co for 4 euros! (secondhand, of course.) I haven't started it yet, but I read his more famous work Captain Corelli's Mandolin a few months ago and loved it, the language was beautiful and though it was a love-story, it wasn't at all clichéd. I think I might take this one with me to Morocco next week, his books have the right sort of pace for the kind of thing you want to read on a train. 

The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro (Vintage, 2004) 

I've just recently been introduced to Alice Munro's work and I'm completely in love with it - this is the third collection of hers I've bought this month. The stories seem so simple yet they stay with you long after you've put the book down. I read somewhere that you should only read one of her stories a day, because otherwise you don't have enough time to mull over everything, and I think that's quite right. 

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Vintage, 2004) 

Lastly one of my favourite books of all time. I have a copy of this in storage somewhere in Australia, but when I saw this new edition with this beautiful new cover I couldn't resist. My copy at home has a still from the movie version on the front of it, which I hate, so this cover seems to do Dodie's words much better justice. If you've seen the movie and didn't like it, don't be put off reading the book, it's so much better. I'll leave you with a teaser from the first chapter, which will hopefully either inspire you to run out and buy a copy this instant, or to search your bookshelves for your own copy and re-read it - either way you will not be disappointed, I promise. 

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining-board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy. I can't say that I am really comfortable, and there is the depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring - I wrote my very best poem whilst sitting on the hen-house."

Off to find a hen-house. 
Bisous x Alice 

Snow Falling on the Tuilleries


According to the locals it doesn't snow very often in Paris, even in the middle of winter, so I was lucky to see the Tuilleries Gardens blanketed in white at the beginning of January. 

The novelty of it still didn't make it any warmer, however, and on first sight the white sparkly stuff just made my little australian body want to curl up and hibernate till spring.

Unfortunately, considering all the things I have to do between now and April, that wasn't really possibility, so instead I took my hands out of my pockets (risking them falling off due to the cold!) and snapped this photo.

The Parisian winter uniform is on fully show here - black, black, black. Makes for nice silhouettes though!

Bisous x Alice

Friday, January 30, 2009

An Autumn Adventure in Biarritz

As it got colder in Paris last October, a few friends and I escaped for a last sunny weekend in Biarritz before we succumbed to winter. I think autumn is probably the best time to go to Biarritz - there's still the same lovely beach, restaurants and cheap coffee (compared to Paris!) but you avoid the crazy crowds that descend on the town in July and August. 

We stayed in the very sweet Hotel Anjou, 5 minutes walk from the centre of town. From our window you could see a tiny glimpse of the ocean -  this is a photo of the sun coming up at 7am, as we fell into bed for a nap after the all-night train journey from Paris:  

Later in the day we had an amazing picnic of local produce purchased from the fresh food market - a delicious dark loaf called, fantastically, "Viking Bread" (which is half the reason we bought it, to be honest), plus cheese, strawberries, raspberries, an amazing "gateau basque" and, of course, wine. 

After sitting in the sun all day, we braved a swim in the ocean. Turns out, the atlantic ocean in October is nothing like the Mediterranean! But I'm sure the icy dip was good for our health, or something! (In any case, it helped wake us up, after a little bit too much wine). 

This last photo just makes me want to jump on a train and find some ocean. For all its charms, you don't get views like this in Paris. 

Bisous x Alice

(P.S. Those hills in the distance - are in Spain!) 

A Lust for Wandering

Lying in bed last night I had the most amazing idea for this very first post, with a delicious wordplay on "wander" and "lust", and some beautifully sculpted phrases on the art of travel. 

Now, of course,  I can't remember a word of it. 

So instead, let me take this opportunity to say 'hi, how you doing?' to the big-wide-blogging world out there. 

How to introduce myself? Well, *Singing* "I've been around the world a couple of times..." No, wait, that's plagiarism. This is harder than I thought it would be. 

In any case, I'm an Australian girl living in Paris, with a love for travel, writing and photography and hopefully with something interesting to say. We'll see. 

For now, 
Bisous x Alice 

P.S. The photo is from Biarritz in the south of France. More to come!