What an absolute blinking nightmare. The funny thing is, it’s not even the French that are on strike, this time. My trip to Paris next week, is under threat. Going there isn’t an issue but coming back, well, because of the UK national rail strike, the Eurostar has been cancelled. I was given the choice of exchange, e-voucher or refund. I remember the last time this sort of thing happened and it was a case of getting the Flixbus. With my busted leg. I’ve had one similar incident since but it turned out to be a false alarm as the email was sent in error. Anyways, I checked if alternative times were available for my return journey. The latest time they had would mean that I’d lose 5 hours of Paris, catching the 16:00 instead of the 21:00. This has left me with 4 options.
Option 1: Cancel it all
Option 2: Stay an extra night
Option 3: Grab a Flixbus back
Option 4: Make it a different date
I decided just before going to the Lake District at the end of July with Nev and the boys that I’d wait until I was in Paris to get my long-overdue haircut and have a shave. Why get my hair cut in Paris? In all the books that I’ve read about people in Paris, nobody has really covered the basic principles of life in the French capital. The closest they’ve come was in the last book I read, Paris Revealed by Stephen Clarke. He only mentioned about the street-cleaners and buying/renting a property found on the pap.fr website. Most people talk of cooking and buying their fresh produce from the markets or local streets. Instagram is full of restaurants and cafés. Nobody mentions the nitty-gritty mundane. Things like shopping for everyday necessities, getting haircuts, pharmacies, television programmes, mobile phone networks, cost of living or the general day-to-day life. I can’t cover all of those as I’m not in the privileged position to know these as a primary source. But whatever I can find out as a tourist “living” in Paris, I’ll do my best. Whilst I enjoy researching through books and interweb pages, podcasts and newspapers, I still prefer living research. Secondary sources aren’t bad but there’s the possibility of bias or simply not having the right questions asked. I don’t have contacts out there and I don’t have the time to wander around asking questions or scrutinising the environs, either. In my favour is my inquisitive mind and Open University experience as well as my own intellect and common sense.
I know that I’ve not managed to keep up to date, post enough photos on Instagram (currently 167 followers and 99 posts), recorded more audio or even written entries or chapters. I’m hopefully going to change this soon. Not by much, but by just enough to keep going. I’m holding off with the new book until I’m settled in a café in Paris and in the right creative frame of mind. I’ve written in my head about six opening lines but will more than likely use none of them. Which is fine. It’s not a problem as long as I start and flow. The good thing is that I recognised my (previously new) book wasn’t what I was truly after before it got too late. I still don’t know what I’m after but I know it has to be more me and less, erm, not me. I think I’ve probably read too many other books and have been absorbed by them. Some have been markedly less easygoing than others. And that’s fine. To each, their own. And this is what I feared would happen. Too much external input attempting to influence me and alter my thought processes. I sometimes get lost in bigger pictures until I remember where I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to be doing. Metaphorically speaking, of course. And this trip to Paris, costing an additional £4 to alter the booking.com hotel to the previous day (now making it a Tuesday/Wednesday trip) is what I need to continue along this re-self-rediscovery (again). Why didn’t I extend my stay? That would be an additional £102 for the same hotel. And if I had chosen to make it a Thursday/Friday trip, I’m faced with the London Underground strike.
I’m just over halfway through this notebook – A Preamble to an Amble Ramble – but I still have a few notebooks in reserve. I just need to come up with a handful of new titles for the tranche of notebooks that I’ll be ordering next year. I’ll be starting the new book in the blue Tu Manges L’Orange that I’ll be carrying with me in my new writing slingbag. This will be alongside the handful of new fountain pens (Papermate mini cartridge pens), the new ink colours and my Herbin refillable rollerball with Diabolo Menthe ink cartridge. I’ve invested in a new Kickstarter fountain pen by the chap that produced my previous personalised 3D printed pen. It’s a mini one this time with a hand designed koi pattern and personalised lid. That’ll be with me by the new year, I suspect. Hopefully by then I’ll be back in the swing of all things AEiP and ready to continue writing.
Although probably, much like my recent trips to the Isle of Wight and Lake District, I won’t be writing on the December visit to Paris with Nev and the boys. But I’ll make sure for certain my hair is cut before we go…