And so it begins. In fact, there are a lot of beginnings in this entry. It’s the first entry of this new notebook, entitled An Englishman in Paris – A Preamble to the Amble Ramble. It’s coloured white so I know it’s the second in this collection. Which isn’t a first.
Another first is the fact that this is the first time I’ve written an entry this year. It’s not that I’ve not had anything to write about, but more a case of not getting around to writing about it. So, what have I not written about? Okay, there’s the fact that I’ve been updating the blog site and only have the final entry from last year to type up onto Word. I’ve also been catching up with the podcast/audio version. That’s taken a while to get back into. My voice really isn’t suited for the voiceover market.
I’ve been slowly posting photos on Instagram again. At present, my 140 followers are enjoying 78 posts. I’ve decided to do a doo theme on the first of the month (although the first one was on the 31st December). It’s my first theme for Instagram posts. Aside from blog updates.
I’ve also had the good fortune to start my proper book. Also not a first, it is however, a first in terms of direction. I’m going to be taking it slowly and despite my debut book taking three years to complete, this is actually a part of my 25-year plan. I’m hoping to have it finished within 25-years but I don’t mind if it takes longer. I’m not in a rush and even though it’ll need constant editing – and even revisions – I simply want to have it as good as I can get it. I need to research so much on each topic and as a result, my slow six-hundred word start has already filled me with joy. It’ll be my first big creative nonfiction project where I’m not only writing from memory but also writing with purpose. And that’s exciting. Not as exciting as the trips to Paris that I’ll still be undertaking nor as exciting as the photos I’ll be taking but exciting nonetheless. I haven’t captured the plan yet, but it’s a slow process and I accept it. It doesn’t bother me not having the pressures of deadlines, academic or not. I’m not even handwriting it first. Straight onto the screen. At the moment. I may decide to start a new topic and only have pen and paper to hand. Readers of my first book, Mind My Mined Mind, will surely remember the mind altering patterns of my writing.
I have over a thousand photos in a folder on my phone titled For Instagram. I have to quickly work though these and remove those that are already posted. I then need to decide whether or not to edit them before posting as it seems that these alter the iCloud photos. Not a problem, per se, but a little annoying as I’d like to have the originals for old time’s sake, posterity. I’ll worry about that at a later date. That later date will more than likely be in November when I upgrade to the iPhone 14 Pro, ready for my 2023 visit to Paris.
The 2022 photos will still be on the iPhone XR as I can’t be bothered swapping out for the Huawei P30 that’s simply say on my writing desk. Instagram isn’t for the photos, it’s for the images. And those images are conversation pieces. The coffee table book can wait. The good photos will come with time. And that time will most likely be on my solo trips around Paris. I’ll get there when the finances allow. For now, I’m split spending time and money on my boys, time and money on the girlfriend (the scholastic peer, Nev) and spending time and money on the boys and the girlfriend.
At present, work aside, life is good. Covid is in the phases of ring an outing and getting to the stage whereby it’s simply another cold or flu. The travel regulation are becoming less strict and the testing is now cheaper. This is good news for my trips to Paris that may take place over the next few months. Like the one I have planned at the end of March, beginning of April.
It’s a weird feeling. Nothing to study but plenty to research. I’ve just spent about forty minutes looking up information about a post I’ve made on Instagram. As soon as I opened Chrome on my phone, the rabbit hole opened. I stayed pretty close to the subject this time around and yet it still took a while to delve, write and make some photo only comment. It’s what took me so long to write my paragraph about the Gare du Nord in the book. I set out trying to find how height the ceiling was in the station and ended up learning that the rad outside had changed names in fairly modern times. That then led me to find out more about Haussmann and onto Lafayette and the war. I stopped and moved on as I have plenty of time for that, should I be needing to recruit more figures from history.
I’ve made a booking. It’s not a first. I’ve made bookings over the years. This one is for a hotel in Paris. In the 13th. I believe it will be the first time that I’ve ventured down there. It’s just a little walk to Place d’Italie ad its surrounds. I’ve got no ideas what’s around there in terms of history or culture but to be honest, I don’t mind. In fact, it’ll be more of an adventure. More so than when I stayed in the 5th. At least I had walked around there before. But here, further than Jardin des Plantes, is new territory. I’m not too far from Grande Mosquée de Paris, which I think I may want to pop to on one of my days.
Okay, so for my birthday, Nev, also fondly referred to as Biscuit, treated me to a Eurostar voucher. And with these funds, I booked us return tickets for our trip at the end of March, beginning of April. If all goes to plan, we’ll both have annual leave to use and we’ll be taking a Friday and Saturday to ourselves. The day we travel, Thursday, will be taken up with the Eurostar, the walk to the hotel and the possibility of collecting my race bib for the 2022 Schroeder Electric Marathon de Paris.
Yep, not content with my time of 5:43:14 through London, I’ve decided – with barely no training since the October run – to spend the first Sunday in April running through Paris. I’ve no real idea why. But to be honest, once I had finished the London one, my mind was made up. The purchase of the Eurostar voucher meant I was able to take up the challenge of finding the cash and mow Biscuit and I are going to Paris together. Not our first trip away, not even our first time to Paris (it’s going to be our third since August) but it’s the first time that someone has paid for my travel. And whilst she doesn’t realise it, it truly meant so much to me. That’s why I’m going to attempt to surprise her on the Thursday night.
Any late nights wil have to be before Saturday so I’m nicely rested for the run. Sunday night I’ll be knackered and Monday could see me in a whole heap of pain. That’s agony, not French bread. There are earlier options, but at twice the price and then some, I’ll have to pass on this trip. We’ve got a bateaux-mouche booked alongside my marathon entry (as well as a key ring and photos) so we can go on the Friday or Saturday whilst we chillax. I don’t mind walking distances but don’t want to risk a twisted ankle or anything. It won’t be a writing trip again which is fine. I’ll be getting plots and memories as well as inspiration for new chapters. I’ve already decided to write one about the route that the run will take. . I wonder if it’s worth getting a video camera to film the activity. Actually, I’m not sure it would be a good idea as the running motion won’t make for great viewing at all. I’ve got a paper map at the side of my bed waiting for me to plot out routes to write about. At least the marathon is a defining point. Me going from the station to a coffee shop is neither lengthy nor particularly enthralling. Although actually, I’ve written it rather well [insert “laughing emoji” here].
I couldn’t decide what to do this evening. I knew I had to get out of the bedroom/office/study/etc and I knew I had to be productive. I have to pop to Westfield to by my mum a Christmas present (yes, you read that correctly) but as a result of today’s activities, my mind was racing, bouncing and spinning all over the place. I headed to the Wetherspoon’s, had five bean chilli and am now getting ready for my third hot drink here.
Alongside my non-time constrained musings and writing, I am also now (re)learning French with Duolingo. It’s not a bad app but I like the fact I can sit on the laptop and use their desktop version. It has no hearts so it becomes unlimited lives; not like on the phone whereby it could well be over in ten minutes. I don’t study on it too much as I can’t retain everything that’s being thrown at me. What I do use sometimes is their listening section. It’s fairly basic at this stage but I’m looking forward to their blog section. The stories are still a little basic, yet it adds to XP points for the league tables – I’m currently aiming for promotion. Unlike the competitive Biscuit who always aims for being first. I can’t be dealing with all that shizzle.
That said, in the battle for self-improvement and knowledge, I always aim to learn more. That’s why I love research. And why I’m also using Tricolore on my iPad. I’ve sourced PDFs and have it to hand so I can use my Apple Pencil to write in the text book. I’ve no idea if I’m getting the answers correct but self-taught French seems to be the way forward for me at present. Which is why I’m submerging myself in the French radio, too. France Bleu Paris is often on my Alexa and I try to read online newspapers in French. I can cope with the reading more than the conversation as I can’t capture what people are saying and my mind doesn’t hold enough vocabulary to aid me in slowing them down. Unlike the books and blog, I feel I need to nail this sooner rather than later. I can’t see it happening any time soon. And that upsets me. Yet, it’s still learning so I’ll keep going for as long as I can keep motivated. I’d love to be able to go to Jardin du Roy in Quartier Latin and not only order my meal in French, not only be able to answer their questions but actually hold a conversation with them.
I’ve taken Biscuit there and to Au Pére Tranquille. I’ve never taken her back, though. Maybe it’ll be another first to add to our list – within the first year of our relationship. Right, I’m going to finish here so I can get an early night before my first training run of the year…