I’m Married to a Cyclist: Part 1

What made going to see the Tour of Flanders cyclists fly by in a wee Belgian village special compared to watching them do it on the TV? Well, I couldn’t just politely say to my husband that I’m tired and leave the living room to go to bed so as to avoid the funny, informative and clearly cycling obsessed blokes on GCN (Global Cycling Network) whilst he remained eagerly bent forwards towards the tv, laughing and watching and generally feeling part of the whole GCN camaraderie.

Instead, today, I was obliged to remain in situ, surrounded by thousands of beer swilling, barbecue grilling Belgians and French and Brits, all soaking up the sunshine and atmosphere, eagerly anticipating the next rush of cyclists up the cobbles of the Kwaremont climb. Instead I found myself eagerly bent towards the barrier, laughing and watching and generally feeling part of the whole cycling world mad camaraderie.

I. Loved. It. All.

Next step? Planning on buying a motor home when we’re older and doing every damn cycling tour we can feasibly manage. The Paris-Roubaix and The Tour de France will just have to do for now.

Gaan op! Allez! Go!

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The Space

I have Timehop on my phone, an app that shows you pictures that you’ve shared online on that specific day in the past. It’s a nice way to be reminded of things that were important enough to share and a week ago it showed me a photo of me and my Nanna during our last holiday together, cruising down the Caledonian Canal.

 

During the holiday she spent a lot of time sitting at the helm of the ship as it gave a magnificent view of the surrounding hills and lochs as my dad and husband actually steered the ship from up above on deck.

 

So I would sit next to her, me with my six months belly full of a future little girl who is now almost aged ten. My Nanna died seven years ago now.

 

In the photo my Nanna and I are sitting side by side, turned around to the camera with happy, contented smiles and there’s a wee space between us. It was this space that I saw the most when the picture popped up that day.

 

I’m writing this wee introduction now a week after I wrote the next bit. I was on my way home on the metro when I wrote it. It was spontaneous and by the time I got off to change metro lines, I didn’t massively know where I was or what I was doing. I was on automatic, in a tumultuous haze, walking along white tiled corridors and surprised at finding myself where I was.

 

“The photo of my Nanna and me on the boat on the Caledonian canal. I’m utterly moved by the space between us in that photo. It’s not that I want my Nanna back or to turn back time. I just want to have that air between us. The space. The part between our bodies where our atoms and auras and feelings and thoughts are filling the space. Hers and mine. Where unsaid love rests and lives and exists. Where I am and where she is and what isn’t anymore and it is that space that breaks my heart because it’s gone and won’t ever come back…

 

…An old, wrinkly, tubby metro musician, who I’ve seen twice today, has smiled at everyone he’s seen and has been so friendly to everyone, has just played the same tune he played on the metro an hour earlier and as he made his way up the metro carriage asking for money I gave him a Euro, saying to him it’s the second time I’ve seen you today so here, this is for you and he took the Euro and smiled, held my face gently and gave me two quick kisses on my cheek and rather than being disgusted it feels like he has seen my heart breaking as I’m writing this on my phone on the metro and for a second there it was my Nanna, all old and wrinkly and friendly, leaning over and giving me a kiss in that old person way and so I laughed and smiled and then I bit my lip and the tears came with no warning because for a second there the space was back and it was my Nanna who kissed me and he was right there and so was she. That space. It was right here.

 

I got off the metro and it carried on it’s way with the old man playing the same tune, bending over passengers and smiling a smile, and I saw my nanna’s soul shared and passing on it’s way too, away from me. But for one brief second the space was the same and feeling the loss of it right now has caught me unawares and is hurting more than it has in such an awful long time.

 

Breathe.”

Hair Behind the Ear

Time passes and things change, sometimes with such abruptness that we’re left speechless, sometimes so quietly and imperceptibly that we barely notice it happening. But happen it does and I saw some of the silent change this morning as I dropped my girls off in their classrooms at school.

 

My girls’ school is very small and their classrooms are next door to each other with a sliding glass door between them. This means that we can all enter the building through my youngest’s class and go straight through to my eldest’s, creating morning convenience when I’m invariably a few minutes later than I’d like to be.

 

Before leaving them in school, I like to pop through to my eldest and say a last quick bye-bye. I normally find her with her friends, getting a few minutes of unrestrained chat in before everyone has to sit down and the lessons begin. Today, that was exactly the place I found her. Her and her friend’s heads bowed over a book or a picture, chatting away. I went over quickly and noticed that her hair had fallen around the sides of her face from her ponytail and I had the enormous motherly urge to reach over and fix it behind her ears. As I reached, she drew her head back so as I barely touched it, turned around and looked a mixture of irritated and embarrassed while smiling. Ooplah, I thought. Mummy’s attention isn’t quite appropriate anymore in front of her friends. Well I could understand that…I just didn’t quite see it coming.

 

I then went through to my youngest’s class and she looked at me in panic, saying that she couldn’t remember her poem to be recited. After a quick mental assessment, I picked up the poetry book she’d just put away from her schoolbag, found the page and showed it to her. Aaaaah, she said, smiling. That’s it. That’s the line I forgot. She looked relieved and we put the book away. She turned to join her class up on the mezzanine floor and I called to her – hey – here’s a kiss, and I blew it for her to catch which she did with the widest smile and she held my eye until I was mostly out of the door and she had decided to keep on making her way to her friends.

 

Writing this now makes me want to cry and my eyes have welled up. Seeing my youngest’s need for my presence and reassurance, the pure love I felt in sending that kiss, blowing it and it being caught, in it being needed. And then that other little girl, a glass door away, and all that love I felt in wanting to push her hair behind her ear and instead it got pushed away, but she who needs the love too, just in a different way.

 

These changes come, silently. I have and I hold and I have also to let go.

 

Petit à petit.

Ca Pique! *

I’m sitting waiting in a room on the 5th floor of a Haussmannian building just a stone’s throw from the St Lazare train station. The impeccable inside of the building couldn’t be more further removed from the dirty stained stone walls of its outside AAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!! MY ARM IS ON FIRE!!!!!

 

Oh my good grief!!! My lyrical warblings were somewhat disturbed there by being called into the doctor’s office. Not just any old doctor – an allergologue, I’ll have you know. All ready to help me conquer my allergies and prepare for getting a dog when we move back to Scotland through a series of desensitisation treatments. I have rubbish animal allergies, especially to cats, but after today I now know, thanks to MY BURNING ARM that I’m also allergic to dust, general allergens, pollen and………………….dogs.

 

Now, I knew this already. As soon as I give an animal a great big bozie** and they slaver all over me, I’m suddenly a heady mess of itches and sneezes and scratchy throats and as much as I dearly love giving animals great big bozies (especially dogs, especially very licky and loving, waggy tail dogs) it’s just such a no-go-zone, what with the smack bang impact of allergy symptom suddenness, that I simply don’t. If there is a stray lick on the hand that takes place, it’s sleeves up, soap lathered and thorough washing city central.

 

But I had hoped….we had hoped…my two little girls and husband and me…that we would be able to get a dog when we moved back to Scotland. See, we’ve been cooped up in an apartment in Paris for nearly three years now. Our house back in Scotland has a front and back garden and is located in an oasis of dog walking walkies. The closest we get to dog walking here is the potential of skidding in dog crap at least six times a day and, when out all together, yelling random ‘WATCH THE POO!’ warnings as and when necessary.

 

So we’d hoped that with our move back to doggy walk paradise we would be able to get the dog. As a family, this Parisian experience hasn’t been the easiest. My relationship with my husband has been sorely tested but is thankfully, through both of our efforts, slowly getting back to the good stuff. My daughters have struggled in full French immersion in school and, despite now being fully bilingual, they didn’t know Jacques diddly at the start. Getting a dog felt a bit like a gift to our wee family. A way of moving back with bells on. A well done. A new addition to the family. A wee waggy tailed fluffball to love.

 

Now, I must say that I have my hesitations about this whole idea (my husband too, to be honest, except I can be succinct in saying that his concerns revolve around ending up being the only one to take the dog out for its morning necessities because the other three of us are still, and happily so, in bed). He also doesn’t want to have to pick up the poo and for the wee four legged thing to be on his own all day. Me, on the other hand, I’m more worried about having a sudden new-born in the house. The weeks of enforced staying in because walkies can’t happen yet. Coping with a wee dog chewing the arse out of everything. Piddle and poo all over the shop, often to be traipsed accidentally from one end of the house to the other. The idea that we will redecorate before we move back in and what the heck is the point if the house is about to turn into a two floor poop and chew palace. And the not-too-insignificant idea of me working again, equating to not being in the house all day and thus available to take care of wee muttley as much as is needed.

 

Oh but a dog. A great lumbering, waggy tailed, full of unconditional love dog. A dog that we are completely looking forward to. A dog that we will unconditionally love and bozie, slavers and all.

 

Except my arm was on fire. The spots where the doctor applied the allergens began to itch within 30 seconds of the skin being broken underneath (to which I yelled a thoroughly unexpected and Scottish IYAH!!, by the way). She noticed that I was extremely allergic to dust pretty quickly and I had explained that we wanted to get a dog in the summer. She said she was doubtful that I could get the desensitisation treatment if I was allergic to dust like I was. That it probably wouldn’t work. That she would prescribe a blood test and that would give a clearer answer, but getting a dog suddenly didn’t look so good. Not so possible. Not so happening. Not so much of a well done.  Not so much of a big waggily tailed ball of unconditionally loving fluff to love.

 

Oh.

 

 

*It stings!

**hug

 

PS: Antihistamines!

Bigmouth Strikes Again

I recorded this track a couple of years ago now.  It’s a bit wonky and off and all of that, but hey ho.

So yeah, bigmouth.  Made me think of someone who’s been in the news lately.

Sure.  He’s only joking.

Trumpton

Ach. The man is unavoidable. He’s everywhere. It feels like there’s no escape, but of course there is. I can just switch everything off. All the devices. I can stop reading headlines in the press kiosks in the street. I’ve done it before. I spent about eighteen months in a news-free-zone because, quite simply, I couldn’t cope with the constant onslaught of negative, destructive, depressing news. The headlines genuinely petrified me. Seeing the words Isis or Ebola had a particularly traumatic effect. I would freeze. Fight, flight or freeze had its victor. My stomach would knot and I’d brace myself for the subheading’s impact.

 

It took what feels like a long time to be able to trust the news again. For it to occupy a non-destructive place in my daily life. Switching it off entirely allowed me to focus on my own day to day. I protected my fragile consciousness and unconsciousness so as I would be able to function for my family and for myself. The headlines became messengers of fear. They only brought with them impending doom and never ending gloom. From then to now, nothing much has changed except there’s now that man who seems to be the embodiment of such bearings himself.

 

Mr Trump, in my lowly little opinion, is a complete prick. I absolutely cannot stand him. He loves the attention he receives. He doesn’t seem to understand that a lot of that attention is made of the same stuff that makes us slow down as we pass an accident on the motorway.  I don’t want to give him any bloody attention at all (even though I am writing a post about him. FFS). What I think would hurt him the most would be not getting the attention he craves. So I’m going to switch the negative, depressing, doom and gloom off.  Again.

 

I’m going to switch off the internet Trump news for a while and pass only a cursory glance at the kiosk’s headlines. It feels like it’s all a big reality show anyway and I’ve never been a fan of reality TV. Want some real reality TV? Remove your head from in front of your device / screen and look around. Notice your kid’s laughter. Or tears. Notice your partner’s new shirt or haircut. Make a cup of something you really like, the way you like it. Open the window and breathe in the air, no matter the diesel particulate level.

 

Note to self:  Switch Trump off. And then switch real life on.

A Wise Move?

Paris. The city of light, love and food. A city where it’s possible to eat out in a different restaurant or café more than 12,000 times and not go back to the same place twice. A city where I can find and eat, quite frankly, absolutely anything that takes my fancy. Be it vegan or veal, choucroute or chocolate, Californian cuisine or Parisian classic, I can and (faaar too often) do.

Paris is thus indeed a moveable feast, especially insofar as after you’ve feasted so damn much you’ve no choice but to move and lug those extra kilos around the city with you.

So this is where I am. Finding myself in Paris with those pesky extra kilos, made up mostly of salty butter, croissants, café cremes (with two white sugars every time), crepes, steak tartares and chips, stinky blue cheese and red wine. Quite a lot of red wine. These have been my Parisian weaknesses and they have been the cause of my top-button-undoing. Now, I seem to have decided to take matters in hand (as opposed to another chocolate macaron) and have signed up for a fitness and food plan.  A wise move?  D’yi think?

The program is all about being conscious and informed about what we put into our bodies and then what is sensible to do with them. We – the participants on this plan, made up of approximately 100 women from around the world, grouped together through the magic that is social networking – have been given a weekly food plan and we are encouraged to follow it along with some fat burning’, muscle growin’ exercises.

So, today was the first results day as we’ve now been following the plan for a week. The results are the differences in our body measurements. I have taken mine, both last Monday and today, and have duly noted them down for comparisons sake. I’ve also mostly followed the eating plan and feel proud to actually be absorbing the whole essence of the program (making smart choices and being healthy and habit aware) more than obsessing about calories and weight loss.

But here is why I want to write about this experience by way of a blog. See, it’s all got to do with being in Paris. In the winter. When I should be mostly eating duck cassoulet and Mont d’Or cheese and washing it all down with, yes, you guessed it, red wine. Instead, I’m eating much healthier and balanced choices which I’m finding to be delicious.  But let’s be honest, finding a meal plan delicious is boring. Nobody wants to read about someone who’s happy with it all. We like reading the details, the dirt, the hard bits, the fricking mortifying bits, the joys and the failures – and in my case – all within the glorious gourmet setting of Paris. And I think I might like writing about them all too so….lets do this!!

(First instalment to be posted soon 🙂 )