Tag Archives: paris

See Paris and Diet

1 Mar

The other weekend, hubbie and I went to Paris for the first time, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Paris in the springtime is supposed to be very romantic. Of course, we are still in the Never Ending Winter® so it wasn’t really like that, but despite the gloves and big coats, we had a good time. Here are a collection of impressions and musings about Paris, for you to be enlightened by or disagree with, interspersed with random photos of Paris Metro signs, because I just really liked them. (My husband didn’t. In one of the photos you can see him hiding his face in embarrassment at my touristy snapping.)

You can get surprisingly far with schoolgirl French

In fact, I topped up my half-forgotten French with a quick Memrise course, but even so, I was astonished how much of it I was able to use. I had heard that people in Paris just take one sniffy look at you trying to speak French and then reply in English, and there were a couple of those, but mostly people were perfectly happy, even pleased, that I was trying to speak their language. And at least two people we dealt with didn’t actually speak English. Yes, even in Paris.

Paris is not as lovely as I had hoped

Probably most of the top tourist destinations are over-hyped (except Rome – Rome is amazing), but it was still a bit of a disappointment to find at the end of the trip that I didn’t really like Paris. I was disappointed in the city and also kind of disappointed in myself because I really wanted to like it. But…

  • it was pretty dirty and smelly;
  • lots of people were rude and pushy – literally, in the context of public transport;
  • waiting staff take your drinks when you’re not finished. Just because I’ve asked for the wine list, that doesn’t mean I’ve finished with my champagne. It’s called planning;
  • waiting staff make you move seats for no reason at all. Seriously, in an empty cafe they will come up and tell you that you must move one chair to the left, or you must sit facing your date instead of beside him. In one case my coffee ended up all over the floor because of an unnecessary move and I was fumingIf I’m in Paris again and asked to move, I may just say ‘non’ and see what they do about it.

It’s not all waiters, waitresses and shop staff who are condescending and pushy, but enough to leave a bad taste in the mouth. I should say, though, that most of the time we received decent, friendly service. Just keep a firm hold on your drink.

The food was amazing

Whatever we may have disliked about the weekend, the food was definitely the bit we liked best. From a seriously stuffed bagel, eaten at a grubby outdoor table, to a cosy little restaurant (Un Air de Famille – strongly recommended), to the various chocolate shops peppered around central Paris, we scoffed with abandon. The coffee was also uniformly good. I discovered that the way I take my coffee (with a splash of milk) is called noisette  in Paris (maybe the rest of France too), which saved time. The length of the coffee varied from barely more than espresso to proper coffee-cupful, but the quality was unfailing. A place with good coffee and good food can’t be all bad 🙂

But now I’m back in Glasgow, where we’re no slouch at metro signs ourselves (okay, it’s the subway, but you know what I mean), so here’s a lovely picture of Cessnock Underground. And my husband thinks I’m weird…

Cessnock Underground Station

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Forgiving the unforgiveable

17 Nov

My new book on Patrick of Ireland is subtitled The Boy Who Forgave because what struck me most when I was researching his story was that Patrick was prepared to go back to the country where he had been trafficked and enslaved, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but with a heart full of compassion for the Irish.

The atrocities in Beirut and especially Paris have been all over the news and social media since Friday, and although the situation is not the same (the Irish raiders who carried Patrick off were no ISIS), I can’t help wondering how people would react if someone who had lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks then devoted most of their adult life to serving and spreading the word of God in the land the attackers came from. I expect that there would be some ready to question their motives, or their sanity. Our society tends to see forgiveness as weakness, but on the contrary, I think it takes immense strength, especially when it flies in the face of public opinion.

Patrick front cover

Anyway, all of that is just a prelude to saying that Patrick of Ireland: The Boy Who Forgave is now available in bookshops and online in Britain (you’ll have to wait a little longer in the USA) and tells a moving and thought-provoking story about a truly inspiring man whose life was anything but straightforward. Kidnap, shipwreck, near-starvation and attempted poisoning were just some of the things poor old Pat had to put up with, but his trust in God was unshakeable.

This is the stripped-back story of Patrick, relying on the most secure evidence and missing out the legendary bits that got added on much later. No snakes, shamrocks or breastplates, I’m afraid, but plenty of kings with unpronounceable names, druids, and high adventure.

Book launch

If you will be in Glasgow on Saturday 5th December, you are warmly invited to the book launch for Patrick of Ireland at 2pm in the private room of O’Neills Irish pub, Sauchiehall Street (right at the end of the street, almost at the motorway). If not, please do buy it from your local bookshop, buy online, or suggest to your local library that they get it in.