Saturday, 10 September 2011

Lille, Braderie

Lille last weekend for the Braderie. Hot sunshine, meals eaten outdoors. A storm on the Saturday night, heavy rain. Geraniums in window boxes, leafy streets, lined with plane trees. A city taken over by market stalls, selling all sorts of junk, old, new. Wandering and wandering and wandering, picking up bargins in some places, sadly walking away from items in others because the cost was just too high, or, in the case of a beautiful forget-me-not blue formica table, because I couldn't have got it home. Stuffed foxes and antique prams. Stoning plums for a clafoutis in a dusky garden one evening. Eating runny cheeses, drinking chilled white wine. Saturday night, before the storm, a sixtieth birthday party, tables and chairs set out on the street, bowl after bowl of moule and frites brought out to guests.


PinkCatJo asks when I have the time to do dull stuff like washing...the answer is sometimes I don't. This week has been another manic one, a trip to see War Horse (just wonderful), Dr Faustus at The Globe (very imrpessed), the book launch of this very fabulous book, a very very belated (by about six months) birthday dinner out, and last night, Crazy For You at the Open Air Theatre (fantastic). I have been waking early before work to put on speedy washes and catch up with internet banking, and feel pretty sleep deprived!

Still, off in about an hour for a much needed holiday...reading, eating, swimming, soaking up the sun, so will be back in a week hopefully feeling much rested. Hope everyone else is having a lovely September so far!

Thursday, 1 September 2011


So in love with this city. I had visited once before, also during the Fringe, loved it then, then loved it from afar watching L'Illusioniste (twice), and more recently Kate Atkinson's Case Histories on the BBC. This visit was just for the one night, to see my sister perform, but we packed lots in, and despite the sometimes heavy showers I managed to walk round much of the city.

The train rides, there, back, all the more luxurious for being in First Class, with endless tea, coffee, food, other drinks, all the more brilliant for having been bought at a bargain. The most Northern part of the journey, nothing between the train and the sea but a thin strip of land. Dropping off bags in a flat at the top of many flights of stone stairs, a flat filled with student girls, one boy, hair straighteners and kirby grips, discarded clothes, empty Heinz tomato soup cans stacked in the kitchen, a guitar in the hallway, a wooden cross too. The Royal Mile, performers, musicians, dancers, balloon animals, face paint, crazy costumes. Posters stapled onto posters, layer upon layer, flyer after flyer pressed into hands. A play, and then another, and then another, taxidermy in a house on the edge of a cliff, women in a hospital ward, believing themselves to be others from history, a mob hideout, in Soho, in the sixties. Three plays, all different, all good. Laughing at my sister at comic moments, silent at sombre ones. An a capella group , wow. In between all this, exploring the city, charity shops and vintage shops, formal parks and cobbled streets, unexpected rainbows and sudden views. Walking through the dark city at night with my sister, arms linked, a chill in the air, lights strung between trees. Helpful tweets from a couple of lovely ladies, and as a result, a delicious breakfast at Toast. Avenues of trees and impressive terraces of grand stone houses. The roof terrace at the National Museum of Scotland, not quite the views from Arthur's Seat (which I have never climbed), but a pretty good compromise. The energy and life of the city, constant, appealing. I'll be back to this city again.


A few other things:

I have just seen One Day (often funny, sometimes awkward, and, ultimately, a little bit heartbreaking), which starts in Edinburgh, so this post seems apt.

I left a paper bag with some written, stamped postcards on a table in a cafe, Peter's Yard (AMAZING cake) and only realised at the train station. One of the postcards has arrived already, so a big, virtual, thank you to whoever, staff or customer, found them, and posted them.

The discovery of vegetarian Percy Pigs in the train station just about made up for presumed lost postcards.


This weekend: off to Lille for the Braderie, and so very excited!