Monday, December 20, 2010

Twist and Shout

Much baking, much applying, much HP audiobooks read by Stephen Fry, much organising of strands.

I finished up my circle scarf the other night, got all my wrapping done tonight, and then tried out the Orchid Grey heidi braids. I'm not too too sure about these on myself, but I love love love them on her. I'm a devoted follower of quite a few style blogs (mostly from the Delightful Dozen), and Julie at Orchid Grey has never been knocked off the plinth of favourite. Her hair is kinda like mine, and since she always wears it so well, I thought I might give one or two of her styles a try. Not to sure if I have the gumption to wear these out of the house yet (yet all over the internet is ok? Be reasonable.), but they're fun to try nonetheless.

A little too Alpen? A little too frauline? Or good to go for a season of big scarves and thus long hair up?

I've got lots of Christmas parties this week, and I can't wait for them to begin! Don't you just love the season? Definitely my favourite time of year.

Happy Holidays,

Your friend Lina

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Projects

Also known as: I'm scared of grad school applications

Home for the holidays and knitting up a storm. And by that I mean I want a knitted circle scarf, but as we don't ask for presents in this household (always more fun than getting what you've demanded of your relations beforehand) and I have no monies, knitting at a mild pace while watching old Amstell Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I'm a bum and just chilling at home catching up on some much needed sleeping-in, doing some Christmas baking, and seeing old neighbourhood friends, so this adds to the cozyness of the season and the month off from McGill.

Speaking of which, I'm also in the process of grad school applications and I'm terrified of everything. This is SUCH a big decision, and even though I'm sure I know what I want to do, it's scary to envision grad school as the next step in what will ostensibly be known as my life. I'm going for a more practical, less academic sort of degree, so it's odd to think of it as job training. I never thought of university in that way; my Dad was sure to teach us while we were young that college is for job training, university is for exploring. I've held that true to myself during my degree, but the prospect of being a wage-earner rather than tuition-spender is creeping up on me.

Then comes the decision where to go. There are about four schools in Canada and the same number in England that I am considering. The two that I'm most interested in are in Ottawa and my other home town of Bristol. If I could go to either of those (all the scholarships please!) WHAT a freaking decision that will be. Do I start to properly build my life in Canada or England? I honestly could go either way, if money weren't a factor. I'm going to apply for lots of CAD and GBP, so hopefully that won't have to figure into my decision because I would love to be blessed enough to never have to ask What If? or have any regrets fueled by budget.

All this being if I get in at all.

That's even scarier.

Nonetheless Happy Holidays à tous! I'm off to make date pinwheels at my mother's request!


Your friend Lina

PS: I got a MacBook for my birthday (and Christmas, and Easter, and Graduation, and Wedding. . . ) so not only do you get to see my soon-to-be scarf, but you get to see it glowing as well!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Been Listening All the Night Long

Feeling better about everything now. Family and Flynn can fix everything. And I'll be seeing Dylan today! The heartfelt homeland isn't that far away sometimes. . . .


Your friend Lina

Friday, November 12, 2010

Caught Between Some Rocks and Other Such Surfaces

This is my life right now:

Whinge, whinge, whinge, I know. Oh dear, you have to write papers about things that you find terribly interesting.

It's just that I'd really like to be back in England, is all.

To that end, this makes me unendingly happy, but also just the saddest as well. How do I get back? I'm seeing his show tomorrow, do you think he'll bring me back with him?

I'm open to suggestions.


Your friend Lina

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hold Down the Power Button to Restart

So maybe I haven't entirely abandoned cataloging this past year, but it will certainly be on hiatus for a little while. I by no means stopped doing amazing things in England and Europe, but since coming home I've had very little time to organise what was so recently my exciting life.

Three days after I touched down on good ol' hearty Canadian soil, I moved on up and out to Chicoutimi to do the Explore program at UQAC. It was at first a major challenge to alter the way I think in order to speak French solidly for five weeks, but in doing so I made leaps and bounds in my comprehension and of course ability to actually use my most favoured of second languages. We had many a discussion in our broken French about WHY we were there doing this program and WHAT it all meant to us. For me, like for many other people, bilingualism is just straight-up an asset in Canada, especially in Ottawa and Montreal. In all honesty, I think most of the people were there because French does give a competitive edge in Canadia. However, as I discovered about myself while I was there, it's much more about national identity for me. Most people know me as hypercanadiophilic, and for my own personal definition of what it is to be a Canadian that involves speaking French and English. I can understand that may not be the case further west or deep in Quebec or what have you, but for me, it is. I've also realised this year that much of what I'm studying will be focussing on issues of Canadian Identity, so it's nice that I had these few weeks of "Summer Camp for Big Kids" to figure out this facet of a giant question for moi-même.

Needless to say it wasn't all self-reflection and vying to have onesself understood; it also was tonnes of fun. We went hiking, spent a weekend in Quebec city, did some whale watching, I took and developed my own photos from step one to final product, learned some Quebecois folk danses, sang in a choir, and just enjoyed myself. I also made some amazing friends, many of whom I can see myself keeping up much longer friendships.

Because I am lucky enough that I didn't have to work this summer, after coming back from Chicouts I was able to spend the full two weeks at the cottage, something which I have not done in years. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Lots of sun, cards, candy, swimming, eating, drinking, family, and friends. I can't imagine the next time that I'll be able to spend the full time up there, probably not 'till I'm retired, so I was glad to soak it up while I could.

It was then quickly to pack and move back to Montreal. Oh how I missed this city! I've been here for a few weeks now, and still each moment is wonderful. I moved in with Megan, one of my besties since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper, and I am happy to report that all things are not only hunk, but also dor. A few days after I got installed, Ariana and Clara came to visit, coinciding with Carmel staying with Adrianna. We had a touristy, catchy-upy, fun-filled week, and I hope that we convinced the foreigners (apologies, Ariana) that Montreal is the place for reunions. Now we just need to get Clara to come in winter rather than during a heat-wave and she will get the REAL Canadian experience.

Since their all-too-soon departure, I've been hitting books and craking administration. Turns out I had a lot less to worry about credits than I had thought, and it's looking like I will be able to graduate with extra credits this year after all. That is, if I survive. Right now I've got a full courseload (boohoo Crompton, welcome to what everyone else does all the time), including three honours seminars. So far I'm really digging all of my classes, so it's not unpleasant to be constantly reading and working and what have you, but it certianly is a big ol' change from the summer, and dare I say it, England. Sorry England, you guys have it eeeassssaaayyyy. Makes me want to come back for more school all the more.

This year is looking to be just as good as the last. I'm on a leaner budget and my adventures probably won't be so geographically adventurous, but I'm hoping to get a job so I can travel my True North Strong and Free to visit friends old and new. I'm all-the-while going to have to make decisions about what I'm going to do after this year and may be a bit of wreck on that front, but last year was all new and improved, and I'm sure that Lina version 2.1 (get it?! ha!) can only be the best of improvements that the manufacturer has to offer.

Toodle pip, and come visit me!

Your friend Lina

Sunday, July 11, 2010

You Shall Awaken as Either a Madman or a Poet

Well boys and girls, hereon to my last trip of note before the festivities that were the Easter Break Euro Trip (henceforth to be known as EBET, although I doubt I will actually use it on account of him still being sad that Roger is dead and that Siskel is no good).

The weekend before Lilly arrived in mid-March was my final (tear) UBES trip to Cader Idris in North Wales. In the end-of-year UBES newsletter there was a little quiz to determine what kind of member of UBES you are, and I definitely fell into the social butterfly category, meaning mostly parties and not so much actual expeditioning. As Ariana is so adamant in stating however, we did do one per semester, so you know, not that bad.

Cader Idris means Chair of Idris in Welsh. Idris was a giant, and if the geological features are to be believed, though he did have a nice back and armrest for his throne, he had a wet bum. Perhaps there was less water in Wales back in his day, I don’t know. Everyone commented on how lucky we were with the weather when we were up for the weekend, because it did not rain a single drop. And that is unheard of in North Wales, so I suppose the Giant was happy to have us meander about on his furniture for the weekend.

Another spiffing tale about the mountain entails sleeping on said climb. I think the Giant may have been a poet, and so legend has it that if anyone is to bunker down there for the night, they will awake as either a madman or a poet. Are the two mutually exclusive? But honestly, chappies did do this up to the nineteenth century for inspiration. I think they already had one of the symptoms down pat.

As per usual we arrived late on the Friday evening after meandering drives through incredibly small towns with incredibly strong accents. It was quite a small group that went, only about fifteen of us, so we fit entirely in one of those big van/bus things and another car, which made keeping track of each other quite easy for the drivers. We got fish and chips in the quaintest of quaint hamlets (I promise I do eat other things), I’m sure bewildering the poor proprietors who had to contend with the volume of haddock that our group required. It was then to settle in to the bunkhouse. Unlike the barn we stayed in on my first trip, this one had proper bunkbeds and a kitchen: it was a veritable lap of luxury.

We awoke the next day at of course a very untoward hour to Todd’s excellent stick-to-your-ribs porridge and conveyer belt production of cheese and pickle (pickled onion, mind you) sandwiches. Due to our tiny numbers there were only two trips for the day, each taking a different route up the mountain to meet at the top. I trekked up with Adrianna, Chris, Todd, Ariana, and Rich (behind the camera). We were the fun group, obviously. Todd was very generous to us, letting us stop when and if we needed it, so I felt no pressure to perform unlike my ill-fated trek during the Snowdonia trip.

Comparatively, this trip was the best of all three - fitness-wise at least. I was so out of shape for Snowdonia that I vowed to not be such a shmo in future. The Mendips was silly and didn’t count as actual hill-walking cause it was tempered with silliness and games. Thus, Cader was best cause the hill was definitely easier than the “medium” (Luke is a liar) Tryfan that I climbed earlier in the year, and I had been doing little things like taking the stairs or taking the steepest route to campus in order to make my calves all nice and muscle-y. Don’t get me wrong, I still wasn’t a bounder like Adrianna who seemingly has to put in no effort, but I was definitely proud of how I had improved.

Personal achievements aside (thanks, alternative education!), the feats of others in our group were certainly something to be reckoned with. UBESters have a special tradition in which I didn’t personally take part, but is at least something infinitely amusing and cringe-making to watch: Lake Bagging. It is a year-long competition to see who can get the most points for jumping into a lake. You get one point for jumping into any lake fully clothed. You get more points if you do so naked. And then you get even more if you do so whilst breaking ice. Remember, boys and girls, Great Britain is not the hottest place (time of publication excluded, I’ve been sweltering, whodathunkit?) and so a nice refreshing dip is hardly nice. While we were climbing Cader that day Chris (55) went for the highest number of points. He sliced his legs and feet up something terrible on the ice, and then had to climb for the rest of the day being absolutely freezing (it was probably smart that he didn’t go in with his clothes on), but of course he was a super trooper about it. He won the male Lake Bagging championship (half a bottle of wine and a Spiderman flotation device) and good on him for he deserved it.

We continued climbing and sliding all about the mountain (sliding down snow is much easier than climbing down steep faces) and met up with the other group at the summit. Our jollility continued during our descent, which included cartwheels and rollicking in the snow, and in my case taking a tumble down a mud-slide RIGHT before we reached the bottom. It was then back to our illustrious bunkhouse for eating (c/o Chef Todd who won not only Cook of the Year but also Member of the Year), drinking, and long and hilarious rounds of assassin, at which I was spectacularly terrible.

We had played in the snow one day, but it was on to sand for the next. On our second day we went to the beach in a nearby seaside town. I told you this was the fun trip; no unnecessary exertion for us! While the rest of the folks buggered off to climb the hills behind the town (pish), Todd, Ariana, Adrianna, and I opted for gallivanting about and laying upon said sandy shores. We also meandered into town to the arcade, which included the Two-P pusher of the Crompton clan. Something to be proud of? Not so sure, but I’m always chuffed to see evidence that I long-ago belonged to this country. We continued with more fish and chips (I eat vegetables in Bristol, I promise), ice cream while everyone else played rounders, and some horrid yet hilarious attempts at a human pyramid. The latter resulted in a lot of faceplants by yours truly with three or four people landing on top of me when the ill-fated structure inevitably collapsed.

I mostly slept on the way home, waking only to blearily peer at a dam in which the civil engineers were interested. Did I ever mention that we were not only the token foreigners, but that we were also the token Arts kids? Work on that UBES. I love you all dearly, but there is only so long that I can feign interest in physics or maths.

I don’t feign interest in your trips though. Those were truly great.

Still finding sand in her eyebrows and ears,

Your friend Lina

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Emerald Isle

Steadily furthuring on. . . Furtherly steadying on. . . what I am trying to say is I kept doing things, boys and girls.

The week after I got back from Paris I had some mega-homework action so my lovely ladies ABANDONED ME for Edinburgh, but 2/3s of them made up for it the following following weekend when Ariana, Clara, partially Sergio, and I went to Ireland.

I never particularly planned to go to Ireland while I was here, but I am quite chuffed that I did. Not only does it count as another country to scratch off my list but I also experienced one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life. More on that later. (Check out you with your cliffhangers eh? PS that’s a clue).

Our flight from Bristol to Dublin was at the very untoward time of six-or-so (accurate) in the morning, and thus to catch the Bristol Flyer (sounds more exciting than it shuttely-bus is) we had to leave Unite at about three. The team’s general bedtime didn’t allow for much snoozing so our fist day in Dublin was seen through heavy eyes. I was generally alright cause I tend to be able to power through that sort of thing when history is abound, but my ladies were a little more challenged. It made for excellent photos of them falling asleep all over the place, and, correct me if I am mistaken, but started the trend of all of us taking pictures of Ariana when she falls asleep in public. Poor Victim.

We couldn’t check into our hostel straight away, so we went off in search of food, settling upon an Irish Breakfast at a pub nearby. Now, I know all about the political problems between England and Ireland, but honestly I could not tell you the difference between a good English and the good Irish breakky. Maybe soda bread. But is that really something to get all riled about. . . ooh, very hot water. Be quiet, Crompton.

I continued my trend of strong-arming my compatriots into doing what I would like, and so after our fortifications we meandered on over to the Kilmainham Gaol. This gaol was the quintessential Victorian gaol in construction, and, as it were, in history as well. Kilmainham was the home for many of the political prisoners of all the brou-haha of the nineteenth-century independence strife. Victorian ideas on crime, punishment and reform? Not everyone’s cup of tea, but just the Oolong that I favour myself. They were very good to put up with the cold, hard building and long, informative tour that I savoured to the last drop. We had a very knowledgeable and passionate tour-guide who, aside from telling us about the history of the gaol itself, also furnished us with fun facts. For example, did you know that on the Irish flag the green section represents the republicans, the orange represents the monarchists, and the white represents striving for peace between the two? Normally I don’t think much about striped flags because they are so ubiquitous, but that one really struck a chord.

After the gaol we hightailed it back to the hostel (I didn’t mention before but the map we had of Dublin made the city look MUCH smaller than it is, so this was not so much a saunter but a marathon), and the ladies had a bit of lie-down. I was unable to join them in the deep and dreamless however, because my friend Alan happened to be in Dublin as well.

My relationship with Alan is quite serendipitous. He was a year below me at Lisgar, and that only for a few years because he moved far away to the deepest, darkest depths of Ontario half-way through. I then would run into him a lot at McGill when we were both in attendance at that “bastion of pretentiousness along the St. Lawrence” (as Mr. Turner called it), but never have we put terrible effort into seeing each other outside of those chance meetings. It was then, again, superbly coincidental that we found each other across the ocean. Out of the blue we started chatting on fb messenger (mainly about why we weren’t running into each other on campus at all this year) when we discovered that we would both be in Dublin for ONE DAY ONLY. Alan was already quite familiar with the city so we met up outside my hostel, and spent a few hours meandering and talking of this and that. One of those extraordinary chance encounters that one doesn’t expect much in one’s day to day, but considering how our friendship has worked over the years I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The following day we took in another one of our walking tours. My knowledge of Irish history is very slight and mostly modern, so it was nice to have it stretched all the way back to the ice-age. Again, what I gleaned from the three-hour jaunt across the town was mostly fun facts, but that’s me all over. One of my favourites was the figure of justice over the doorway into Dublin Castle. Normally justice is supposed to be blind, but as a nod to the hardships of the Irish for thousands of years she isn’t wearing a blindfold, for, as our guide put it, “the Irish know that justice wasn’t blind for them.”

After our walking tour we found our way towards the Guinness brewery. It wasn’t totally what I expected, more of a multi-media demonstration over seven floors than a brewery, but boy howdy was that free pint of Guinness delicious. I had never had Guinness before, and I fear I will never be able to again because my first was the best in the world. It really is chocolate-y and bread-y as they say, yet also somehow totally refreshing. Ariana, of course, fell asleep. However, we all followed suit pretty quickly because we had to wake up before dawn the following day to cross the country.

Clara was in charge of the expedition, and I am ever glad that she suggested we do this. We took a bus to Galway (Dublin is on the East coast of Ireland and Galway is directly across on the West), in preparation to go on our tour of the surrounding region and the Cliffs of Moher. We had about an hour to kill in Galway before the tour began, and as it was about eight in the morning and Galway is about the size of MacKellar park, we found a pub to have breakfast. In this pub we witnessed perhaps the most stereotypically (sorry) Irish blokes. They were possibly the highlight of the trip. Throughout breakfast -- remember the time of day mind you -- they kept trying to get booze from the bartender/waitress/employee. In the THICKEST Irish accents you ever heard (I was the only one who could marginally understand them, they would have benefited from the subtitles given to Brad Pitt’s Pikey), they began by asking her for beer. She then explained that they weren’t able to sell alcohol before 10:00 AM.

“We can drink it outside if you like.”
“No, I can’t sell you any alcohol.”
“Fine then, we’ll buy it somewhere else and then bring it back here.”
“Nowhere is going sell you a drink, it’s against the law to do so before 10:00 AM.”
“How about if you make us some rum and coke’s and put it in a tea-cup so if anyone asks it looks like we’re drinking tea.”
“No, I’m not going to sell you any alcohol.”
“You girls drinking this morning?” This was directed towards us. We explained that no, we weren’t.
"Were you drinking last night, then?” We explained (I say we, the girls couldn’t understand what he was saying so I was fielding these answers) that we had been, in Dublin. They were impressed. They get the breakfasts that they ordered.
“Do you have any brown sauce?” they again inquire after the bartender. She gives it to them.
“Do you have any rum sauce, then?”

They made our day.

I say that. Every Irish person in our lives that day made our day. Our tour, which we had to leave these yobbos to go on, was lead by the most unendingly charming little old grandfather rapscallion named Desmond. He had a wonderful habit of repeating every interesting fact directly after he said it (like Jacob Two-Two) with this amazing cadence. Ask me to do it if you are interested, it really was THE most charming thing. The tour was quite formidable, taking about eight hours. We stopped at plenty of castles along the way, the Poulnabrone Dolmen (a sort of Irish Stonehenge), a few exceedingly tiny but exceedingly charming towns (where I had some AMAZING seafood chowder and fudge), the crosses of Kilfenora, and a Fairy Ring all before making it to the Cliffs of Moher.

I again am going to cop out of narrating and just give you a bunch of pictures of these most astounding cliffs. They truly were one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, and if these pictures don’t cut it for you, I still urge you to go. Nowhere else on this earth has the greens and blues of Ireland:Our final day on the Isle continued with the theme of doing things most quintessentially Irish. In the morning (although not as early as our Galway friends) we went on the Jameson Distillery tour. I actually much preferred this to the Guinness because we had a guide, it was kitchily re-done but at least looked like the process they used to make the whiskey, it was much more manageable in size, and we got to do a tasting at the end. They did it right in giving us a Scotch, Jack Daniels, and then a Jameson and though I am partial to Scotch, I now know that I will never ever drink Jack again (despite what Ke$ha may say). That stuff is vile. Jameson though, quite nice. Did you know, for instance, that whiskey and cranberry is a lovely drink? Try it some time.

For our final few hours we took a bus out to the fishing village of Howth (rhymes with “both”). If Galway is the size of MacKellar park, then Howth is the size of my backyard. We walked the length of it (three piers and one street) twice, stopped for lunch (another AMAZING seafood chowder in a bread bowl), took glamour shots on one of the piers again, and still had time to kill before our bus back to Dublin. The weather was again amazing, and I have to say it did feel quite neat to be looking out over the Atlantic ocean one day, and then over the Irish sea the next. Added to the charm and beauty of this island already resplendent with the stuff.

May you be in heaven a full half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead,

Your friend Lina

Shape Up or Ship Up?

Kay, so I'm experimenting with a new layout. I've spent a bit more time with this bad boy in the last few days (yeah, prolific Crompton, how about the FOUR MONTHS where you did nothing? Yes, I know, slap on the wrist), and I want it to look pretty. I'm a pretty prolific blog-reader, and as I hope to get better at being a b-writer, I want my space to reflect the effort I want to put in.

That being said, what do y'all think about this new layout? I very much like the background, and will certainly change it about based on the season, my mood, what the major trends in my life are, but I have to say I'm not so jazzed about how it reads. I'm glad I was able to find my favourite font again, but what do y'all (yes, all 12 of you? Dare I dream that I even have 12 readers?) think about it. I think it might be kinda hard to read the text on top of the translucent background over the globe.

Do you have any suggestions about how to make either the background darker or the text more readable? Or should I just change it back to the plain-jane? Does anyone else use blogspot and know better how to customise than I do?

Any pointers or opinions would be appreciated. Just leave a comment. Maybe then I'll know who, if anyone (other than my father), reads this thing.

Attached to my laptop yet still so tech un-savy,

Your friend Lina

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Il y a tout ce que vous voulez . . .

Alrighty-roo, back into the sequential tide of things. (Can a tide be sequential? Make sense, Crompton.) In between my visit from Greer and Lilly I partook in some international gallivanting. The first of those dashes away from Brizzle whisked me off to la belle Paris avec le toujours belle mademoiselle Brabazon.

I met up with Greer late the night before our (“vamos a el”) Eurostar trip on Monday morning. We stayed at her friend’s place in Camden, and I will not lie, I was hoping to run into Noel Fielding for the entirety of my approximately four hours of my waking time in that borough. No dice. But here’s a picture of him to ease what I am sure is the equal disappointment you are currently feeling.

We made it to St. Pancras WAY before we had to catch our 6:00 AM train, so got to sample all the exhilarating sights and sounds of the train station Starbucks. If I can borrow from Mike Birbiglia (and mangle slightly as well), “No, I love the train station, there’s like chairs.” All kidding aside it really wasn’t too bad cause it made me sleep like a baby on the Eurostar: quite fortuitous cause apparently it took a few hours longer than planned cause of snow and other such paltry precipitants that Europe seems to have lots of trouble with. I didn’t notice. Our parents trained us to be good car-babies in our infancy and that has payed off big time.

As soon as we arrived in Paris, the tour that we were on quickly shipped us off to the Eiffel Tower for sight-seeing and lunch. I said it before about Stonehenge, and I will say it again now: these attractions that everyone says aren’t very impressive? They lied to you, they are totally impressive. Of course because up until then I had only seen the tower in pictures and such I had no idea of the absolute massive scale of the structure, but when you are standing underneath it, hoo boy. The same can be said for the elevator ride up through the legs: love it or lump it, the Eiffel Tower is surely a formidable feat of engineering.

The views from up top are amazing, and give you a nice areal and mental snapshot of the city. Our guide pointed out all the historic buildings and landmarks, my favourite being Napoleon’s war hospital, and then filed us inside for a fancy lunch with further fantastic views. After feeling rather spoiled up top, we then descended and took a cruise on the Seine.

Did I mention that this was all in February? Well, it was COLD boys and girls, not necessarily the best time to be on a river. I was as bundled as I could be and was still quite nippy, so I’m certain that Greer must have been dying because her normal body temperature normally hovers around -30, even at the best of times. For all intents and purposes I’m not the biggest fan of the tourist cruises and rides, usually I would rather walk for ages to see a city, but because I only had 36 hours in one of the world’s biggest and brightest, it was a good way to get a glimpse at all the highlights. It was in fact how I was introduced to the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Pont Alexandre (my favourite bridge, pictured above), and the Assemblé National (my favourite building). After a few glamour shots back in front of the Tower, it was then to hop back on our bus and be shuffled around the city.

Our next stop was at the Louvre. Greer and I opted for exploring the courtyard and the grounds rather than rushing to see the Mona Lisa or some such, which made me quite pleased. I am STILL so smitten by all fancy old European buildings, and as the Louvre used to be a palace, I was of course in love. Even though it was winter, the grounds were still lovely; you just needed a sprinkling of imagination to make them verdant. The rest of the tour took us along to the all the other major destinations including the Champs Élysées, the Arc de Triomph, and a tiny little café that I found more moving than I thought I would. Though I enjoyed the Opera House itself, our guide mentioned in passing that just around the corner from it was the café in which Oscar Wilde, ahem, wiled away his final years in Paris after leaving England. Because this was just an off-hand remark I wasn’t able to snap a photog, but I was certainly able to burst into tears. I had no idea that I would be witnessing that gem, and I guess really it just goes lengths to say that no matter where I travel, England and its influences are always close to my heart, tugging at its strings.

The next day was bright, blue, and crisp. In the morning we trundled downtown to walk along the Seine for a spell and take in the Musée D’Orsay. I, of course, strong-armed Greer into letting me fawn over my favourite bridge, and then, again, bullied her into taking glamour shots of my in front of my favourite edifice as well. The line for the D’Orsay was of course ridiculous, but once inside it really boggles the mind. The building itself is GORGEOUS (I see a theme Paris, well played), and seeing as I am consistently star-struck by anything remotely famous, I was of course floored by their phenomenal collection of works by Van Gogh (augmented by the recent Doctor Who, nerd-alert), Degas, Pissarro, and my personal favourite, Toulouse-Lautrec. They were renovating at the time and so had erected a “Best Of” in the main foyer which ended up being quite the thing for our visit had to be quite short in order for us to catch our tour out to Versailles.

If I missed anything important in Paris (and I am fully aware that I did and need to go back for about a week or so when I am rich and famous one day), it was all worth it to see Versailles. I have literally never been to a place, nor a palace, so stunning. The gilded gates, the fine masonry, the incredible decadence of the indoors. . . . I know I don’t have the faculties to do it justice, so here’s a bucket-load of photos:

Upon our return to our hotel, we then had to boogie back to land of Angles. It was certainly too short of a visit, and I promise, Paris, I will one day return.

À la prochaine fois mes belles,

Votre amie Lina