Home Now and Update

I’m home now. I got here on the evening of Tuesday November 8. Except for a few flight delays that tried my patience in a minor fashion, the trip home was uneventful. I slept some during the long-haul portion, so that was good. To be truthful, I asked for red wine one that one, and it was tasty and effective.

Since Tues, though, I’ve barely slept. And not like, barely slept all night and slept all day in a normal jet-lag way. I just sleep like 3 hours a night and that’s it, no matter how much I try to nap. I was fine with this until this morning, but now I’m getting annoyed. (I lie: that last good sleep I had was Wed. afternoon, all afternoon. I forgot, but this is the way of sleep deprivation.)

One symptom of not sleeping is depletion of depth perception? I almost fell down the stairs at the parade last night. That was weird.

I’m not due back at work until next week, so I’ve confined myself to my bed, watching TV and listening to podcasts, ready should the fleeting urge to sleep overcome me. Alas, I now have a good excuse to use the word “alas”.

Also, OMG. Who arranged for the weather here? It was spring when I left, and was also basically spring in Paris. London was pretty mild. And I get home and it’s zero? What? I exited the airport in a hoodie and Toms. I only put my summer clothes away just before I left, and I have no idea where my parka is. How do I even scarf?

I still have a few photos and thoughts to share from London. Thus:


After eating the meal that I described previously, I had time to visit the Gift Shop and bought way too many things, including a wee, yellow pointe shoe. I will likely hang this on my Xmas tree, or pin to my coat or something.

The show itself was amazing in a way that I couldn’t stop thinking about how it was a amazing and how lucky I was to be there, so that was distracting. It was “Light of Passage” by Crystal Pite and there is nothing more gorgeous than 30 ballerinas in a pack on the stage doing Crystal Pite’s body waves. Mmm. Seriouly though it took me too long to turn off my brain and just watch.


Friday I didn’t know what to do. I ended up taking a bus to Camden and explored the crazy market there. I don’t know how large it is but it’s sprawling and I got lost in it. I bought a purse- not at the market itself but at a craft art shop just outside that caught my eye. At first it looked like it only sold covers for throw cushions with trendy graphics, but downstairs there were vintage clothes and locally designed purses.

Is that the day that turned out to be Shopping Day? Yes. After Camden I took the underground to Oxford St. for the big Primark and Marks & Spencer stores.

I bought lunch before leaving M&S, and went back to my hotel to eat and rest. Only not much rest because I realized the National Gallery is open late on Fridays so I went there for a look around.

Van Gogh detail. I wondered if he felt soothed while he was painting this pattern. I felt peaceful while looking at it. The yellows! And the repetition!

I got seriously lost at the intersection in front of Trafalgar Sq. looking for the entrance to the underground. It was just at a different corner than I thought, but getting there took the crossing of line 6 different streets. It was dark and I was tired.


Saturday was British Museum day. Or morning, just to have a look around. I always make a beeline for medieval Britain and Sutton Hoo, out of personal interest. I took a look a the Islamic world section this time, having not checked it out in any detail before. I usually run around the whole building trying to get into every room and see everything. This time I read some of the descriptions. I the Islam part there was a special exhibit of art books that I’m glad I got to see.

After lunch I went out to a place called Swiss Cottage that I didn’t know existed but they have a nice theatre.

My seat was way off to the side, but good.

I watched “Mary” concerning Mary Queen of Scots and putting her in a bit of a # me too context. It was dramatic, and didn’t have an intermission, which I like. I heard about it on TV while I was deciding what to do on Friday morning.


Sunday I took a train to Canterbury and looked at the Cathedral. It was sooo rainy, except for the 30 seconds when I took this photo.

I really liked the crypt here. I was there at opening so I was down there all on my own and it was cool and quiet. Many dark little chapels, and then a bright one with windows! And then some really old paintings on the ceiling of another! I sat for a while and just looked.


Monday was a bit of a piecemeal what-should-I-do-on-my-last-day-in-London day 2with intentions of going to the Tate and then shopping, but I added St Paul’s Cathedral as well because it intrigued me as I walked by.


I wanted to approach the state via the Millennium Bridge, you see. But it turns out that St. Paul’s is directly across the river. So.

Note that in the crypt at St. Paul’s there are lots of famous dead people. A video scavenger tomb-hunt is included with the price of admission.

After that, I shopped for ballet shoes and went for lunch in Covent Garden. I had the most amazing vegan sausage/mash/cabbage dish. With onion jam. And fig tamarind tea. Yum. Followed by ginger sticky toffee pudding. Also yum.

OMG it was good. I took this photo because I had to show my mum immediately.


Tuesday I flew home. Everyone on the flight watched the new Thor, including me. I put it on right away and was so engrossed I didn’t notice when we took off.

The End

I’m at the Royal Opera House in London.

I have a ticket to watch a performance at the Royal Opera House in London.

A few weeks ago, the Royal Opera House in London emailed me to ask if I want to eat at one of their dining establishments before the show. No, I thought, that’s not something I do. Mostly because of the whole dairy allergy thing. But then I noticed that all of their menus are posted on line, of course, so I took a look, just in case. So it also turns out that there are many vegan or dairy-free options available (of course). So I changed my mind.

First I had to decide on what establishment I wanted to patronize. There’s, like, 6, ranging from super casual, to super fancy. I made my decision based purely on… one fancy place had a set, three course menu that looked like too much food, and the other fancy place I could order whatever I wanted. It’s also in a super fine cavern upstairs at the opera house.

My view from my table. Can you see me?

So I made my reservation, and the Royal Opera House in London emailed back immediately asking me to pre-order my meal which delights me to no end. A) I don’t have to decide what I want to eat on the day, when I might be hangry. B) I can’t remember what I paid.

My personalized menu.

So I’m here right now! Here is my first plate (which is a starter but I’m treating as a main)

Steak tartar and rocket. So protein.

And here is my first dessert, which I’m treating as my first dessert…

Can you name all the fruits, Kimberly?

That’s all that’s happened so far. I’ve eaten all of the above and I have time to go buy trinkets in the gift shop. I’ll be back at the interval, to the same table, and I’m even allowed to leave my jacket here.

… Tuesday in London

A quick update while I’m waiting for a show to start. Look at this nice venue and my leg room:

I can’t see the stage yet, but the curtain is huge.

I’m I Wembley! Where there’s a big stadium but I’m not there! I saw it thought, looming, with the moon shining above. I’m at a nearby theatre watching a contemporary dance performance based on the TV Peaky Blinders. Because that’s a thing.

I took the train from France this morning, which was relatively quick and easy. Gate du Nord in Paris was only two metro stops away from my hotel but I was nervous about Tuesday morning crowds. But, fun fact, Nov 1 is a holiday in Paris for day of the dead, so the crowd was small. The crowd getting on the train was big, but I didn’t care by then. The ride was pleasant and I listened to tunes and daydreamed.

Gare du Nord.

Immediately upon arrival in London (and after checking into my hotel, which is blissfully close to King’s Cross/St Pancras) I went for lunch and started planning. My original plan was to go to The Bank of England, that tourist hub, to exchange some old pound notes for new ones (it’s a thing here where they just discontinued a bunch of old notes in favour of new, secure, ones.) BUT, they are apparently having crowds there, so I didn’t want to show up only to have to go back again another day. So I’ll go in a few days, first thing, to either avoid a crowd, or to be in the queue that gets served that day.

It was while I ate that I found this show to go to, and here I now am.

P.S. I’ve also been to M&S to get all my favourite snacks.

Flashback: My hotel room in Paris.

Monday In Paris…

I’m listening to the rain outside my open window in my hotel room in Paris. This is the most it’s rained since I got here – it’s been going for 10 or 15 minutes. All days have been sunny and warm, even though it’s the end of October. On my walk through Paris yesterday I had to take off my jacket (I wore my rain jacket both because there was a small threat of rain in the forecast, and as a talisman against that rain. My supernatural powers won: there was no rain). It’s hot at lunchtime. Even in the evening it’s not cool enough for a scarf. I came prepared for what I thought would be autumn in Paris! Boots and a pretty new raincoat! Two scarves? I’ve had only the meagrest of excuses to wear my new rain coat; I haven’t used my umbrella; and I’ve only made use of one of my shawls as a napping blankie. Even now it’s raining but not cold enough for me to close my window. I’d sleep with it open if it wasn’t for the apprehension of hearing something strange in the night.

Me, taking advantage of the three minutes of rain to try the hood of my new jacket, at Giverny last week. See how thrilled I am!

Today I visited la Musée de l’Orangerie. I know I should have gone to d’Orsay as well, but their closed on Monday and I didn’t feel like going yesterday. Also, I know the l’Orangerie is where Monet’s Puddlelilies Waterlilies are kept so I felt an urge to go there.

Some Waterlilies
And I’ve seen the actual pond that was the inspiration, too, at Giverny.

I’m a big fan of the impressionists. I know this because each year when I go to choose a new calendar, I only ever want impressionists. I like all the stuff they’re known for: use of colour and light, changing the whole tradition of painting, etc. I especially like being able to see their brush strokes and how they created the impressions they present to us right there on the canvas. The Waterlilies are set up so that I could take a good, close-up look at all that, and then step back take i the whole panorama of each piece (there’s a bunch of them). Globs of paint are the best. Getting real close to see that the lilies are just smudges of paint. I like it. Yes, admittedly, when you look reeeal close at those pristine renaissance paintings, you can see that, too (if you’re allowed that close)… and it’s all magic…. But Monet and impressionists please my heart and soul as well as my eye. And probably less so my brain! I don’t know. It’s art and this is my favourite. (D’Orsay next time for sure, and Louvre again, too, even though it doesn’t even get to the impressionists. There’s other interesting stuff there I haven’t see yet.)

Now I’m packing because I’m travelling to London tomorrow. There is a lot that isn’t open on Mondays here so I took full advantage of not doing very much. I hung out the Jardins de Tuileries a bit after l’Orangerie and found another old church (Saint-Eustache) to look at. I retreated back to my hotel kind of early this afternoon because I have a bit of a headache and my feet are sore = naps.

Sunday in Montmartre

I’ve come back to Montmartre today. I checked out the Montmartre cemetery (good idea, Ines) and then walked over to Sacré Coeur to visit again. A) just in time for mass so I experience that press of people B) the gift shop is open. Now I’m on a bench just in front of the basilica and having a snack.

Cimetière de Montmartre
Pretty yellow flowers in front of the tomb of Alexandre Dumas

Logistics going on: my tour is over so I had to get out of that hotel this morning. I have another hotel nearish the Maria’s. The hotel for the tour was in the 8th, and more expensive so I thought it would be fun to try another part of town instead of continuing there. I’ve dropped of my bags to store until check in later. I was out and about quite early, around 9. I meant to get going later since check out for my old hotel was at noon. But there was a time change last night, so I was ready to go sooner than expected. Not a problem at all since the metro was relatively calm, so easy to travel with my suitcase.)

I have one more day in Paris after this, and then I take the train to London on Tuesday. I’ve booked a ticket for la Musée de l’Orangerie for tomorrow morning. Just to look around, not a tour. I’m not sure what to do this afternoon. Maybe I’ll see if there’s something interesting around my hotel.


Today, Saturday started with a walking tour of the area where Notre Dame is located, and then into the Latin quarter for a wine tasting.

Notre Dame – flying buttresses under construction.
Requisite educational component of the tour.
Shakespeare and Company bookstore – where you have to stand in line to get in. But I did and it was worth it.
Later, I want for a walk and looked at the Eiffel Tower.

Bayeux – Rouen – Paris

Yesterday (Friday!) was a transit day as my tour group left Bayeux to return to Paris. We made a stop in Rouen to check out the cathedral and have lunch. We also saw where Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc, since I know how to spell it now). Instead of lunch, I visited her nook (chapel?) in the cathedral.

Joan’s nook. Joan’s there too but a bit in camouflage between the blue and white banners.

I checked the gift shop to see if there was a wee replica of the stain glass there that tell the story of our girl (I got one from somewhere -Oxford maybe- and it’s a plastic think I can stick to my window. I found it recently in its original gift shop bag and now anywhere near a window. Obviously a prized possession.) there wasn’t one of those. I DID get a Joan of Arc trading card. Score.

Rouen cathedral.

After was a bus ride and nap into Paris. Our guide always had some really great info and stories to share with us during these times. I would close my eyes, you know, to listen better, and usually dozed off while she talked. Often, too, she’s tell us to just rest or have a dodo (French for nap). And I’d nap then, too. I was jet laggy early in the week, but now I don’t have that excuse and I just like to nap.

Back in Paris! We settled back into our hotel. Some of us got out luggage back that we had left behind in storage over the few days away. (Me, I was the only one who did that – and I enjoyed being reunited with all my extra junk.)

In the evening we took a walk around La Basilique du Sacré Coeur in Montmartre.

Sacré Coeur

It was soooooo busy and to the point I was feeling uncomfortable- but not so much where I wanted to turn back and go home or anything. The crowd was loud, just people hanging out on a Friday night, but it was overwhelming. But once inside the basilica I was fine. There were copious signs saying “shut up” in a nice, churchy way, and everyone complied. Most people were wandering around checking out the saints in, but lots of people were praying, too. I felt better in there, but I was also impressed with the contrast from the exterior.

At the end of the walk with our guide, I went back for another look, and made my own way back to the hotel. OMG the metro was packed. Probably not strange, but it was 9ish or so at night? So I was impressed. And then crushed. Fun fact- big crowd sitting on the steps outside the church and I have to walk through them = hoo. Crushed into metro car = no problem.


Bayeux Day (warning: rambling details)

I don’t know why I haven’t thought to be more inspired by the Bayeux tapestry. It is a combination of a few of my favourite things: storytelling; handicrafts; history. Also linen and wool. I knew I had to make it a part of my first trip to France, but I think this was out of memory of my art history courses: I knew it was a thing to see. But, looking at it in person and seeing the detail of the stitches and listening along to the story made me think about all the 2-D novel concepts (novel as literary device) I had in art school, and that this actually that, although more literal that what I came up with, or planned to do. I never thought to use the BT as a reference/inspiration. Anyway, I’m transcribing into words what should remain thoughts for now.

(My view as I write – which is la Cathédrale de Bayeux)

(A pause in writing as I find a less windy place to sit. I’m now on a bench and looking at the following tree:)

The Arbre de la Liberté

I didn’t take any photos of the tapestry, because it’s not allowed. I can tell you that it’s set up along a temperature and light-controlled hallway, and you wander along at the pace of the hand-held audio guide that comes with admission. I 100% always poo-pop audio guides due to me liking to make up my own interpretations of things in museums. However in this one case, it was a really good idea. It slowed me down, for one, and told me the whole story of the piece, section by section (it’s basically a graphic novel – and you can by a comic-book version in the gift shop). I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to study it as thoroughly as I wanted – to look at the stitches, but there was. I could have gone back for another go-through without the guide, but once was enough. (Was it though? I doubt myself now – but I don’t feel the need to go back.) It’s not like I’m allowed to touch it, and I purchased a fold-out reproduction of the whole thing. There were copies that weren’t fold-out, the sections on pages with a nice little description beneath, and these were defiantly less flimsy than what I have. But! I am interested in how the images-narrative flow into one another, so a connected version is imperative.

After the tapestry, I visited the Bayeux Museum of Art and History, which tells the story of Bayeux through art and artefacts going back into prehistory. My favourite part was an unexpected room full of the process and history of lace making in Bayeux. Room 11! There were drawers with samples and bits in progress, and shelves and shelves of old supplies – bobbins, working patterns, designs. I had to go back for a second look once the crowd cleared a little. So complicated and detailed! Not a handicraft I wish to pursue, but I love all the stuff.

Then was lunch and a quick downtime in my hotel room. The hotel is five minutes walk from all the places I’ve been today, even less in the case of the cathedral, a little more getting back from the museum because I got lost. But generally centrally located.

Lunches and dinners when not with the group have all been grocery store finds. This is because everything in Normandy contains dairy (not really, but mostly), but also because eating out gets expensive. I like that my tour group isn’t eating out all together every meal like it’s been on all my other tours. That way is fine, but it takes up a lot of time. Oh! That too: on some days we were given a certain amount of time to look around a place and get lunch, but I didn’t want to waste time sitting down for meal, so I got a snack instead and kept exploring. This worked well in… Honfleur? No the other seaside place on D-Day Day. I had time to walk the whole waterfront.

After lunch I took a wander around la Cathédrale de Bayeux. There’s a crypt there that’s one of the oldest parts of the structure, and we’re allowed down there, and I was scared. I was already spooked because there’s a few openings where you can see down from other parts of the building, and I was sure I could hear footsteps and suspected ghosts – before I found out that there were actually people allowed down there. It’s fine and safe and there’s no skeletons (showing) but it’s low and dark and smells like dirt. I checked out the paintings on the top of the supporting columns and got out of there. Hoo.

Now I’m writing because I have the rest of the day but my feet are sore and I don’t feel like looking at anything else. There’s a store with a dress in the window I liked when we passed by on the way to dinner the other night. Maybe I’ll try to find that.

October 26, 2022

Today is the day I am visiting Mont-Saint Michel with my tour group. When I am researching and choosing a tour, there is always something on the itinerary that I have never heard of, wouldn’t necessarily go to on my own, and/or am indifferent to. Today is that day for that.

It’s a big church/ monastery/commune/tourist site.

Recounting Monday, Oct 24 – a day in transit.

I didn’t write about Monday because it was busy and didn’t end till late. Also I’ve forgotten what we did. Give me a moment to check my photo storage…

First Stop: we left Paris first thing in the morning. It was still dark at 8am: France’s time change is this weekend. The first stop for the day was Monet’s House Giverny that’s not too far away from Paris. I was wondering if there’d still be gardens to see at the end of October, but there was. The rain held off, too, until we were leaving.

Many many dahlias, of which I took many photos because they remind me of my mum, who grows them. Actually my dad grows them and Mum makes bouquets.

Stop 2: We stopped in Honfleur next where I took exactly one photo. It’s a pretty, seaside village and the group wandered around for a few minutes

The wooden, separated bell tower for the Church of Saint Catharine in Honfleur. Not shown: the largest wooden church in Europe that is just adjacent that contains oak trees as pillars on the inside.

Stop 3 and 4: the Canadian D-Day cemetery and Juno beach – added to our itinerary as there are three Canadians on the tour. I signed the guest book at the cemetery.

Canadian D-Day cemetery. Not sure why I needed to shoot at this angle to include my shadow…
Juno – big sandy beach.

Stop 5: We are based in Bayeux for four nights, and we had a quick stop to settle into our hotel before group dinner. Oh! Note: due to logistics of my tour, I get my own room instead of getting a roomie like I usually do. I am always happy with my roomies, but I’m also happy to have my own room!

Stop 6: Traditional Norman dinner of crepes and cider. Fun fact: Galettes (like a crepe but made with buckwheat) contain no dairy. Fun fact 2: I like cider, and the amount consumed may have contributed to my forgetfulness.

October 25, 2022


I’m in Arromanches-les-Bains.

(You didn’t notice me opening google maps to find out where I am.)

Our tour guide gave us 1.5 hours of free time to buy souvenirs, look at a museum and have lunch. I didn’t want to do any of those things! So have had a stroll along the water front and climbed a hill to go look at a tank. I would be looking over the English Channel as I write, but that would mean dangling my legs over a stone wall with some dozens drop down to the beach. Instead I am sitting on the safe side of the wall and listening to the waves behind me. There are also seagulls with French accents and tourists eating ice cream and fish and chips. Also it’s fun running into other members of my group and finding out what they got up to (mostly all of them had fish and chips for lunch.)

(View from the tank)

Today is D-Day day on the tour. We had a briefing about details of the landings at D-Day Academy first thing this morning. This is a real place, and reminds me of the BC Forest Discovery Centre, only with guns and WWII objects instead of old forestry equipment. I am not usually interested in military manoeuvres, but our academy instructor gave a good overview.

Next was a visit and memorial service at the small British cemetery. (We made a detour yesterday to visit the Canadian cemetery and check out Juno beach – additions made to the tour because there are three Canadians.)

I’m off to Omaha beach there. Depending on the tide, we’ll see the memorial there. It seems to be going out so fingers crossed.

Update: Like 2 hours later. Not Omaha Beach. First the American D-Day cemetery, which is sickeningly vast. I walked a loop looking at crosses in the ground and paid respects at their missing soldier monument.