On my next day off, I’m spending the day in Paris.
I’m going to dress like a French girl. Maybe some flats, maybe a simple but sweet necklace, a scarf perhaps, and a spritz of the Chanel perfume Andrew’s mum gave me.
Breakfast will be hot chocolate and fresh bread, followed by a stroll in the fresh air.
At some point, I’ll buy tulips, which I know are out of season, but they never fail to remind me of the Eiffel Tower. I’ll go into a book shop, just to smell the books, and for sure I’ll take a virtual visit to peruse these beautiful old stacks of paper. I’ll listen to a street musician, or perhaps some She and Him, because I love them, because they are the epitome of chic and cool, and because they are chirpy and cheerful and whimsical.
I’ll make some macaroons and set them out neatly.
I’ll admire some works of art.
I’ll light myself a candle and take in the shafts of light and the quiet space and I’ll say a prayer.
I’ll sit down for dinner with some music playing and a glass of wine and a candle on the table. I’ll set some lights twinkling and I’ll soak in the moment and be so grateful for this world I live in. —-
I was really lucky when I was growing up, in that I had a lot of nice holidays. My parents and grandparents took me away a fair bit around the UK and Europe and I loved it! I loved the sunshiney, warm places, I loved hearing different languages, I loved wrapping up warm in the cold places. I loved the sights and smells and sounds of the cities, and I loved the woodland walks. I loved the restaurants and the little trips to shops to buy bread and ham and cakes. The feel of warm sand under my feet, the touch of stone and brick, the cosiness of a little static caravan with rain pelting the windows. The sound of the waves or a waterfall. The smell of a steam train. The colours of a market and the freedom to get lost in a good book… I can’t possibly list all the details I loved about travelling as a child and teenager. The world was mine to explore and enjoy, all its nature, its people, its art, its food – all of it.
Now it still is. I still love the decadence and freedom of a holiday, and the magic of exploring somewhere new. Andrew and I walked miles in Rome, where there’s a new discovery around every corner, and my friend Toni and I stood surrounded by perfect glistening snow in Canada and ate burgers and rode a dog-sled and drank hot chocolate in a mountain castle. The taste of maple still takes me back there. Andrew and I went to Snowdonia out of season and ate salmon in a quiet empty hotel dining room looking out at the snow. We sat on a beach in Yorkshire and ate warm, sugar coated doughnuts. We wondered through Wells Cathedral and climbed Glastonbury Tor and snapped ponies in the New Forest. All these moments are so precious, memories that I can call to mind and savour any time I want to.
This year, we’re on a tight budget. But a little imagination can help us to capture the holiday spirit almost as beautifully as if we were jetting off to somewhere exotic. A meal together can be as magical at our own kitchen table as it would be at a linen-clad restaurant table in Paris. Just because we are on a budget, it doesn’t mean we can’t cook new things and try new flavours. There is no reason why we can’t light a candle on a Tuesday evening just because we feel like it. There is no reason why I can’t sit down with a book on a Wednesday lunchtime and take a full hour for lunch. The internet and films can provide a window to other ways of life and thinking. And there’s always something to notice on a walk, even if we know the route as well as the back of our hand. In fact, wherever I go, there is always something to notice, to savour.
This week I’m living that way – the slow, savouring way. The magical, charmed, wonder-filled way. There will be realities that are difficult, work that is hard, worries that are tiresome. But the wonder moments, they are real too, as much a part of my life story as anything else.
(Note – the pictures and links about Paris are all found via Pinterest – you can view my ‘A Day in Paris’ board here.)