Four weeks until Paris. It’ll be my second visit this year. And yet it’ll be my first whereby I have no actual reason to be there aside from a relaxing break for a couple of nights with my scholastic girlfriend. My Master’s is now finished despite not having my result and so the waiting is still apparent.
There’s nothing I can do at this stage except wait and not worry. Which is exactly what I’m doing. Although I’m also starting to gather thoughts as to my next steps. I know I have to attempt to create something with what I already have written down in this, and the previous book, as well as forge ahead with the actual book of Paris. My novel has started and sits there taunting me. I’ve still not fully recovered from the marathon last month, although running has started again, albeit very slowly. I’ve yet to unpack from my week in Ibiza and my room is now feeling very claustrophobic. That’s one of the reasons I’ve popped out now to write.
I’ve been doing a bit of research recently to try and find a nice decent café that I can simply use as a base camp. I’ve not succeeded really. Where I have succeeded is getting contact lenses to use for when I play rugby matches. Never a good idea to play when you’ve been dancing until 1am the night before and have coaching the following day, on the Sunday. But Saturday saw me doing just that. Dosed up on paracetamol for a week, I’ve now got lower back pain and a slight headache. I’ve no idea whether it’s from the cold weather, the head cold, the rugby or the overdose of tablets.
Still, I’m sat in Bella’s coffee shop in Barkingside with a latté and a slice of strawberry jam swiss roll. It’s no Costa, but to be honest, I’m very pleased with this place already. Decent coffee (I’m no expert), nice cakes and, new staff aside, very competent and welcoming staff. I’ve paid cash as I’m unsure of the minimum transaction for my card but it’s no biggie. My two-seat table is pretty much central to the shop and despite being very much open and susceptible, it allows me the opportunity to see what’s happening at the front of the shop whilst having the white noise of activity behind me. This seat may in fact serve me well for the novel. It just depends on how often I can get here and write.
My next physical notebook will be coming along at Christmas time when Santa delivers it along with the ones to my boys. And December’s Parisian trip, whilst too early (I believe) for the Christmas markets, will enable me to purchase the pens to go along with Santa’s notebooks. That means I won’t be properly starting the new book until next year. That said, I have a feeling I’ll be using an A4 notepad for the drafting of it. The writing format won’t be as relaxed as A Master in Mastering My Masters, so I suspect An Amble Ramble will be very much in this vein; a behind-the-scenes notebook of entries allowing notes to be written along the way. Very useful for retrospective work and inspirational guidance. That’s the (new) plan.
I’ve provisionally booked my hotel for next year’s trip to Paris. I have a holiday in the Lake District already arranged. This time around, I’ll be having the girlfriend as well as the boys with me which means quite possibly, the possibility of writing is removed. But that’s fine. I have no time constraints this time around. I also won’t be upgrading the boys’ phones on this occasion. I may be upgrading mine shortly. From the iPhone XR to an iPhone 13 pro. They have the 12 but I want a better camera than the one I have. It’s nowhere near the Huawei Pro30 but that was the sacrifice I made when deciding to get the Apple Watch. The upgrade all depends on the deal I get with Black Friday. If there’s no deal, there’s no deal. I’m aiming for the 13 pro, but if the 12 pro is a proper deal, I’ll take that instead. It’s getting to be about the money at this stage of my life. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been overspending for so many years, I now have to stop if I want to carry on with the life choices I’m starting to make.
The trip to Paris next in April, for instance. The room isn’t such a big issue although the rugby trip to the Isle of Wight three weeks later will need to be paid for soon, as well as the ferry crossing. And the petrol and food. Which, ferry aside, is the same for the Lake District in July. That break will also include a drive to Scotland again as it’ll be my brother’s 50th birthday whilst we’re away. So, on top of the Isle of Wight and the Lake District, is the possibility of a half-term break to Cyprus at the end of May with the boys to go and see my girlfriend. However, before all of these is the April trip to Paris. There’s the Eurostar to pay for, as well as meals. But the biggest question mark hanging over the visit is whether or not I attempt to partake in my second marathon. This time, the Paris one. I’m thinking about having the time of both tattooed on my left thigh – with or without the dates and/or locations. Everything is still to be decided.
I’ve been sat here for just over an hour now. Not constantly writing but enough to be on my sixth side of A5 notebook. I was asked why I don’t write on both sides of the book, the even pages. It’s twofold, I guess. Firstly, the bleed through. Although not fully worried as I always test the paper first, there’s something a little off-putting for me going over “old” or “used” paper. That’s one reason I rarely start reusing old notebooks. Which is silly as I’ve so many with only a handful or two pages used. At some point I’m sure I’ll go back to them. For the time being, I’m happy with these Not On The High Street &SoTheyMade notebooks that Santa has a contract with.
Another reason for not using the other side of the page is for when I occasionally decide to make notes. There are no margins in these books, so I simply grab my pencil and jot down notes, in line with where I need to make the point. And it works, so long as I read over them again.
This coffee shop, on the corner of Barkingside High Street and Waverley Gardens, has gentle background music playing with a sports channel, silently showing football. This place certainly has grown on me in the last hour. They have a couple of sofas which are to be used by a group of four. And there are two tables like this. On a quiet afternoon, such as today, I’d use those to sit quietly. And then I’d take and read my many books lined up on my Kindle or sitting tirelessly on my Ikea Billy Bookcases at home. But one at a time! I certainly need to read more now. These contact lenses should help although the idea of my current (or old) frames updated to my new prescription, things will be clearer for me. I have a few nonfiction books as well as creative nonfictions that I must make time for. And yet, I still need to keep writing, posting to the blog, keep Instagram topped up, unpack my clean clothes from Ibiza and put away my laundry. Add on top the possibility of rugby training and marathon preparation and it appears finishing the Masters has left me with even less spare time than before.