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When Paris goes on a charm offensive.

We were blessed with great weather in Paris. Paris just looked like it was very proud of itself, and rightly so. It was toastier and sunnier than London, requiring just a light jacket at certain points of the day, i.e. perfect walking weather.

Champs Elysees was pristine in the sunshine.

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Vintage shopping in Marais was fun. I bought a couple of dresses and a skirt.

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We crossed the bridge to seek out Berthillon near Notre Dame but alas it was closed for summer! Damn vacances.

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The other Berthillon-supplied shops nearby stayed open to satiate the hungry tourist crowd. We settled for one, and ordered sea salt caramel, vanilla, and praline. It was gooood.

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We watched the Eiffel do its dazzling dance of lights.

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Had Parisian breakfasts in cafes near Madeleine.

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The very last meal we had before boarding the Eurostar back to London was at Royal Madeleine. This was the total highlight of our Paris sojourn.

Royal Madeleine was charming in every way. The decor was old school but not stuffy; the service warm but elegant. The food was delicious and generously-portioned. And to top it all off, they have a handsome grey restaurant cat (I think his name was Oscar) who would slip out into the dining room sometimes then slink away just as he got your interest.

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If I do return to Paris, I’ll definitely be eating at Royal Madeleine again.

 

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Take me to Bath, take me to Paris.

 

 

Going back to Bath was about coming full-circle. I started this blog when I first went on exchange at the University of Bath in 2006; 7 years later, I still missed my time there and was eager to relive the memories.

Of course when you have such hefty expectations, invariably the experience lets you down. So I returned to find the Bath high street transformed – the old Sainsbury I did my groceries in, the Topshop where they had a 40% fire sale (literally – there was an actual fire in the store and they needed to clear “defective” merchandise) were now replaced by All Saints and Aveda within a new mall.

It felt very odd, like I’d gotten the address wrong and landed in the wrong town… Thank goodness our meal at Same Same But Different salvaged the trip.

We were led to it by the great reviews on Tripadvisor. Those reviews were warranted, alright.

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The menu was small but interesting; the food flavorful and generous.

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The next morning before we left via train, we went back to Same Same But Different for breakfast. It did not let us down. Hearty, tasty, warming.

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We got back to London, hastily repacked, and then headed to Gatwick Airport for our flight to Paris.

After getting hopelessly lost while trying to find our hotel in Poissonnere, we were exhausted and grumpy when we finally checked in and settled on a diner a street away.

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Little did we know that Hugo was a real gem – it had great rankings on Tripadvisor city guides, and the place was chockful of locals. Our luck finally returned when we scored the last walk-in table outside. It was 9pm but still light out! Lovely.

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The savory dishes were decent – M said his seafood platter was delicious – but my favourite was the tarte tatin with ice cream.

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Our hotel for three nights was Hotel du Temps – a beautiful compact boutique hotel tucked away in Poissonere. In summer, the surrounding area was pretty much dead but I bet it’d be much better in other seasons when the restaurants and cafes nearby would be open and bustling.

The hotel room was small but very comfortable and clean. Poissonere is a bit far out from the typical tourist areas – and the Pink line seemed to have a lot more crazy people on it than the Yellow line (? haha) – but overall it was a cosy home base to explore the city from.

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The next day we ventured into the Marais area – and got horribly lost again. This time thanks to my lack of preparation and dogged determination to not plan (a huge departure from my travel norm) and just “enjoy the moment”.

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Eventually we found our way to Merci and met up with a couple of our Singaporean friends who were also visiting Paris at the same time.

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London, you have a piece of my heart.

 

London is one of those cities that I keep returning to and continue to love.

Every time I go back, I ask myself, “Could you set up home here?” … I’ll miss my family and friends, but it would be so easy to love and live in London. It’s such a brilliant city with a never-ending list of things to do, places to discover, delicious grub, and so much character.

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We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and were warmly greeted by the lovely  Jo and Kai at Jo’s brother’s apartment where we were putting up for a few weeks. I was delirious with exhaustion and jetlag and wasn’t much company during dinner I’m afraid… Sorry Jo!

The next morning, we headed to Spitalfields Market, ravenous and looking for a good British breakfast.

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To our elation, we realized St John Bakery was right opposite Spitalfields – and it was open for breakfast.

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Spotted this spiffy gentleman complete with green tweed suit and boater! Money shot.

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It’s a really simple, beautiful environment. Wood, tiles, steel, white, airy.

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The breakfast we had mirrored the environment too – the simplest things, elevated to perfection. Bread, honey and butter. And a bacon sandwich.

THE best bacon sandwich I’ve ever had, by the way. And hat’s saying quite a bit for someone who usually doesn’t go for bacon (give me sausages any day and I’ll take those instead). But this bacon sandwich … fluffy buttered thick toast, smoky fragrant bacon, and homemade tomato sauce on the side.

I still daydream of this meal, 2 months later.

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But the eating had only just begun.

We next headed to Covent Garden to catch our Matilda Sunday matinee show. A quick fuel-up pre-show at this charming cafe consisted of a veggie quiche and iced coffee.

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Matilda was a stunning show with lots of great ensemble numbers. I am a huge fan of the Roald Dahl book, and sort of identify with Matilda. But I was a little let-down by the girl playing Matilda during that particular show. She wasn’t quite as engaging as some of her other peers, and since she is the protagonist, it made it that much more challenging to connect to the overall story. The Aldwych Theatre is also rather old, grubby, and super stuffy. It was so warm! Nonetheless still happy I caught it.

After the show, we wanted a spot of shopping and easy walking-around. Alas, everything closed by 5 or 6pm on Sunday so we were forced to eat, yet again.

The Five Guys burger queue wasn’t that long, so we joined in, hoping to see what the fuss was.

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The burgers were good, fries so-so – but still a good quick meal in the cool and sunny afternoon breeze. I’d say… have a go if the queue’s manageable but not worth an hour’s wait. :-)

On Tuesday, we caught A Chorus Line with last-minute tickets. So glad we did, because it was one of my top 3 favourite musicals we watched this trip! I was mesmerized from start to end. So brilliantly acted, danced, sung – simply a masterpiece.

Here we are, beaming after the show.

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Repeating the words to savor the shape of them in your mouth.

Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication

For Mary Heaney

I. Sunlight

There was a sunlit absence.
The helmeted pump in the yard
heated its iron,
water honeyed

in the slung bucket
and the sun stood
like a griddle cooling
against the wall

of each long afternoon.
So, her hands scuffled
over the bakeboard,
the reddening stove

sent its plaque of heat
against her where she stood
in a floury apron
by the window.

Now she dusts the board
with a goose’s wing,
now sits, broad-lapped,
with whitened nails

and measling shins:
here is a space
again, the scone rising
to the tick of two clocks.

And here is love
like a tinsmith’s scoop
sunk past its gleam
in the meal-bin.

This poem never fails to transport me. I love that I can see it, hear it, smell it (the grass under the sun’s heat); even feel the sun on my lowered, squinting eyelids. Can’t you? :-)

p.s. Hear “Mossbawn Sunlight” read out loud, here.

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all together, with feeling now, this could be anything

to see new shores.

M and I are headed to Europe for three weeks this Saturday, and it’s going to be a good time to recharge and take stock of what a crazy year it’s been – and will continue to be. (And to pig out on cream tea, croissants, Berthillon ice cream, and other delectables in London, Paris and Reykjavik.)

Hindsight is a funny thing. If you told me this time last year that in a year’s time I’d actually get to to act, sing and dance onstage with one of Singapore’s most established and respected theatre companies, rehearse with and learn the ropes of theatre from a great band of funny, crazy, kind folks… I’d not have believed you.

I finished my six shows on Sunday, and that heady little adventure over the past two months have confirmed a long-held suspicion – that I’m fully, foolishly, irretrievably in love with being a part of theatre.

I’m feeling very thankful, and also dare I say a little proud of myself for making it through the process. Every step was new and foreign to me and I was scared as heck, unsure if I’d be “good enough”. New challenges, new environment, new rules. But I soldiered through and did my very best, and I’ve learnt so very much.

As they say, onwards and upwards! :-)

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I think I’m in love.

Intensive rehearsals have concluded, as the show opened two days ago.

I am in awe of how much I miss the experience. I mean, it has been tough and much sweat and tears have been spilt – but boy do I love the process! The cast and crew are lovely folks, and I’ve met many talented people whom I’ve learnt so much from. This being my first production in a long time, every new phase of the process has been new and scary. But I made it through, and I’ll be hitting the stage end July.

Here’s hoping it all goes well.

Have a lovely weekend my dears!

(via wit & delight)

 

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