A walk in Chinatown, Belleville

 A guided walking tour of Belleville a couple of weeks ago revealed a world I would otherwise not have stumbled upon. Belleville straddles the 13th and 20th arrondissements. I have only been as far as the Père Lachaise cemetery and the Hotel and Bar Mama Shelter. This tour revealed an entirely different side to the Belleville I know.

On being a shoplifter

“Browsing bookshops then buying online is a ‘genteel form of shoplifting'”, this according to David Nicholls, in an article in The Guardian from some weeks ago. He was speaking at the London Book Fair and bringing attention to the disappearance of bookstores, on how their numbers are dwindling more and more in neighbourhoods as the convenience and cost-effectiveness of e-reading has taken on.

On putting down roots as an expat

 It is Spring and in readying myself for a new season I have been tossing, restoring and organising. The closets, the book shelves, the digital storage. On the physical side, this has been a fairly quick and easy process – we live in an apartment, so the closets and bookshelves were done within days. On the bookshelves it has been about finally letting go of those books I have hung on to for years, but which I am now fairly certain I will never read.

The organisation of the digital storage is what had me thinking about what putting down roots as an expat means. Our memories of the past seven years are all carefully curated in digital form. If we leave tomorrow, our worldly possessions in France can fit into a few boxes.

Traditional Easter lunch at La Societé, Paris

Not quite a traditional Easter Sunday lunch, but it was for us in that coming here has become something of a tradition.
My family is fairly loyal to restaurants that are consistent in their quality of food and service.  Four years later, and one of our favourite restaurants still remains La Societé in St. Germain-des-Prés. It is by the brothers Costes and has the exactly same menu, and clientèle as L’Avenue on avenue Montaigne. For drinks we are equally faithful to Bar Costes in Hotel Costes on rue St. Honoré.
You’d probably walk past La Societé in winter- when the only indicator that there may be a restaurant hidden away in the random building is the valet parking sign. It’s discreetly tucked away in what I think is a law office building. During the week, the crowd is the fairly staid and serious type, and over the weekend it’s the hip and fashionable. But is is always laid back and unpretentious.

Snapshots of Lisbon, a city steeped in maritime history

 I have been sitting on this write up for a while now, just trying to workout how I felt about Lisboa before I put it down. My first impression was that the financial crisis has hit Portugal harder than it has some of the smaller European countries  – and this is after a visit to Greece. It seemed a bit rundown, or perhaps I came with high expectations. However when I mentioned this to a friend of mine, she also had the same opinion – when she compared it to her native Italy, and her husband’s native Spain. Patriotic sentiment aside, I have since learnt that Portugal is often referred to as the ‘poor cousin’ of the western European countries.

Books: PELT AND OTHER STORIES by Catherine McNamara

8d313-front2bcover_2nat2bcopiaTitle: Pelt and Other Stories
Author: Catherine McNamara
Published: 2013
Genre: Fiction

In between my getting stuck into the novels on my TBR list, I have also been dipping into my collection of short stories – that wonderful genre that allows you to escape what may be a too serious, too tedious, or simply too long novel and lose yourself in other worlds in a fraction of the time.

In between my getting stuck into the novels on my TBR list, I have also been dipping into my collection of short stories – that wonderful genre that allows you to escape what may be a too serious, too tedious, or simply too long novel and lose yourself in other worlds in a fraction of the time.

I have mixed feelings about Catherine McNamara’ s collection of stories.

Putting the words on a page

In the past week I have had numerous conversations with different people in my life about the challenges of ‘getting the words on paper’ or onto whatever medium. I have not been writing as often and as consistently as I would have liked. Last week my efforts were upended by a new computer and the ensuing setup issues – of course I could have always resorted to the old pen and paper but that would have been too easy.

Contemporary Art at Fondation Louis Vuitton

The sheer size of the Fondation Louis Vuitton is intimidating. Designed by Frank Gehry to look like ship’s sails, it  has an oddly space-ship like appearance in Bois de Boulogne. Inside, the vast collection of contemporary art, the installations, the various theatres reserved for seminars, ateliers and music concerts alike, is as equally intimidating. They…

On Reading South Africa

André Brink (1935 – 2015). Photo source: africavivre.com

In making my ambitious plans to read everything and anything this year, I decided that one of my reading forays would be into reading South African writers. I have not read that many South African writers and amongst my list of writers to read was of course, André Brink. Then on Sunday I saw a newspaper article announcing his death and suddenly there was this new urgency to get on with Reading South Africa.