In or Out?

You can’t get away from it. The EU referendum campaign is approaching fever-pitch and things are getting ugly. I can’t help but see the parallels with a rather acrimonious end-of-relationship. He said, she said, he means, she means… the #InFor campaign has generated some truly weird images – including one of Donald Trump. Yeah, you read that right.

I can’t help but think, “If only they actually talked. Worked through the sticking points, rather than involving all the friends and rellies.” Hmmmm. Interesting. Who would be the therapist/mediator for the innies and outies? Switzerland? Norway? Canada?

Husband has cast his (postal) vote. I don’t get to vote as a non-British citizen. But I do get to head up to the Icelandic Embassy this week and cast my vote for a new President… which is actually very exciting because the departing President has been in office for as long as I can remember, and it feels wonderful to think that the winds of change may blow in something positive. So I’m focusing on that, rather than the possibility of having to plan an exit strategy for my family. I’m not ready to leave London.

Two days to go….with The Clash song running through my head…

flâner dans les rues: setting the scene

#paris #france #metro

One of the fanciest Metro entrances I had ever seen! (2002)

In four days (FOUR!), I am going to enjoy a flâner dans les rues de Paris with the Breton Bestie, her daughter (DD’s bestie) and DD. Flâner dans les rues roughly translates to strolling the avenues, wandering the streets. I have been asked to bring tea cakes, fruit rolls and sharp British cheeses. There may be some other goodies transported across La Manche (hey, I have to keep some secrets, BB reads my blog!). BB has stocked up on wine (BB has EXCELLENT taste in wine; I think I’m getting the better end of the deal this weekend)

Spoiler alert: There are going to be many photos. Follow along on Instagram 🙂

I cannot wait to see DD’s face when she sees the Palais Garnier, and possibly dreams of dancing there. Then the Galeries Lafayette for the absolutely decadent interior. We’ll stop at Angelina’s for some restorative hot chocolate and cakes: my favourite is their signature Mont Blanc. You have to love chestnuts to enjoy this dessert; good thing I do!

But most of all, I’m so excited I get to see BB again. We’ll drink good coffee, eat too much, corral the kids, giggle, and catch up on everything that we’ve missed via Viber & Skype. 

Does your bestie live close by? How long have you known him/her? How do you sustain your friendship?

Weekdays are exhausting, and weekends are exhausting!

Weekends are slightly less exhausting this autumn because DD has scaled back her activities on the weekend in order to take on additional ballet training during the week. This just means weekdays are a little more exhausting, so I could have done without the two school meetings this week (painful at the best of times, but worse because they were the first ones minus the Breton Bestie). Worse yet, the focus was the nuclear arms race that is Getting Your Child Into The Best State School in Two Years’ Time. I’m deadly serious. It’s cray-cray. But I’ll save that insanity for another post, and return to my weekend.

Our new routine on a Saturday is a lie-in, homework for all of us (well, doing accounts & expenses for the grown ups), then lunch, then DD to class and me to a coffee-shop to abuse the free WiFi and to catch up on the blogosphere.

This Saturday, I got itchy feet and chose to look for some new magazines to read. Clearly, my colleagues have set the bar very high, because I found nothing of interest. As in, zip, zilch, nada. I did discover Uppercase magazine online later last night, which I found quite exciting, but I really felt a little saddened by the fact that there’s so much crap out there to make us feel lesser, inadequate, un-shiny and imperfect. The experience left me feeling grumpy and jaded, but blessed to have the job I have, and to be able to help get some good content and material to market. Small wins.

friendship

Today was a little more emotionally charged. We were invited to a pre-farewell party for a good friend – yes, you heard that right. Pre-farewell. It was wonderful to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while and we even got party bags, but the sickening reality is, after 6 years, this friend has finished her term with her employer, and has to return to Australia. AUSTRALIA. That’s a whole different continent and a whole different hemisphere and a crazy-long flight to get there! This also means that Thanksgivings are going to be small, quiet affairs going forward (who da thunk that a mutual love of American holidays would bring an Icelander and an Australian together?). She’s the ‘aunt’ that DD has had most contact with over the last 6 years, so DD is sad, too. As much as I love where I live, I’m getting too old and cranky to make new friends now. The old ones fit me just right. Sigh.

So for now, I’m looking forward to seeing the Breton Bestie in three weeks (cue a rendition of ‘I Love Paris’) – we’re going to walk, and talk, and I’m going to enjoy the wonder of my daughter discovering Paris. I can’t wait to see her face when we she sees Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and Galleries Lafayette for the first time. When we return to London, we’ll have my ‘second’ parents visiting from the States for a few days. I haven’t seen them for five years so this is a treat! And then we’re having  a final Thanksgiving/family dinner with DD’s honorary aunt. Did y’all not know London Thanksgiving falls between Canadian and American Thanksgiving? Heathens! 😀

What do your weekends look like? Who bears the brunt of chauffeuring the family to clubs and activities? Any good magazine recommendation (digital or print)?

Just as Long as we’re Together

Most of you know that my Breton Bestie has been re-patriated to France last week. There was a tearful farewell on four sides (BB’s daughter is DD’s bestie). But the first moment that it really sunk in was when I had to put down an emergency contact a few days later for DD, and automatically put down Breton Bestie’s name. Which I then had to cross out. Boy, that hurt. I actually had to take a moment to compose myself.

In the five days she’s been gone, we’ve had a Skype chat and I’ve drooled over her beautiful Parisian Haussmann apartment. We’ve used messaging apps. But it’s finally sinking in that she’s gone. She’s really gone.

We both know what it’s like to be expats, to raise expats, and the extra effort that goes into maintaining ties and bonds. We’re both working mothers, corporate wives, raising hormonal tweens… but you know what, I think we’re going to do it. For two years, she has been my reality check, my irreverent partner in crime and my sounding board. She was my first blog follower, my champion and the slap upside my head when I needed it. That, my friends, is gold dust.

#bestie #best #friend

So today, I am grateful for social media, and messaging apps, and Skype, and everything else that is going to keep me connected to BB. I’m so grateful I have a BB.

Who’s your BB? Send them a text. Or an email. Or an inappropriate meme. Something to make them remember that they’re loved and important.

Feels like Friday

And whaddya know? It IS Friday! I dropped my favourite child off at the Breton Bestie’s house this morning. (Fine, she’s my only child, but let’s not digress). BB has been bribing her with breakfast all week – today it was pancakes. My fluffy American pancakes are just not as good as the bestie’s crepes, probably more so because the supply is going to dry up in ten days’ time when they expat their way back to France.

The expat life giveth some good stuff, and taketh some good stuff. 

The hammer has taken a while to fall – my husband jokes that I “think slowly and it’s true. Usually because I’m denial. But today I couldn’t deny that it would be the last time for a little while that I’d be hugging the BB’s seven-year-old son, since he’s off to France later today, in advance of the others. But I’m still in denial that next weekend I’ll be saying good-bye to one of the bestest friends I’ve ever had. We had dinner and cocktails last weekend and had a good giggle, which was bittersweet, because it was just a reminder of what’s being taken away.

IMG_20140417_135412_editA part of me realises this is completely ridiculous; she’s moving back to Paris, which is a 2.5 hour train ride away. Not the end of the earth by any stretch of the imagination. But for two years, she’s been at the other end of my road. Our daughters have more often than not had their heads bent together, gossiping and giggling. Yes, the grief is compounded because my daughter is losing HER Breton Bestie. I have a feeling DD and I are going to be clutching each other and howling over pints of ice-cream in ten days.

I’m going to focus on the amazing reports the girls have brought home, and the fact that they’re getting awards (which they know nothing about) on Tuesday. I’ll save the tears for then. Now pass me that ice-cream!!

Expat holidays

Expats are experts at the little traditions we have to weave into life abroad to remind us of home. In ours, we have the 13 Icelandic jólasveinar, who make an appearance every year from 12 December (not sure who gets more excited about the little gifts they leave, daughter or husband). And our family birthday rituals, which include cake and hot chocolate for breakfast; yes, Icelanders love sugar!

This year, I turned the tradition on its head. We had not one, but two, cakes, for the 9 year old! An Icelandic marengsterta filled with salted caramel & cream, and a peppermint fridge tart, from South Africa. My darling daughter dutifully had a few bites of each before sweetly reminding me that she does not have a sweet tooth, and could she just have a cup of tea with some plain biscuits? Next year, I’m going back to the regular cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Why mess with success?

Birthday Collage

Blogger Love!

I got a very lovely notification from Sarah at Just Another Snowflake to let me know I was nominated for a Liebster Award. If you click the link to her blog, it explains that the award is for new bloggers and the idea is to generate more exposure for them, which is brilliant. However, me being me, I’m going to mix things up a little. I’m going to answer the questions and point you in the direction of the great blogs I’ve discovered recently. If you happen to be one of the bloggers I’ve mentioned, please feel free to carry on with the Liebster award, and post it to your blog, or not.

my questions from Sarah:

What is your ultimate blogging goal? I honestly don’t know. It’s the first time in my life I haven’t had a plan, and things seem to be growing very organically. I’m just letting things flow. 

Where is your most favourite place in the world? This is like Sophie’s choice, but I’d probably have to say Reykjavik.

Who is your hero? My husband. No, my daughter. No, my husband. I can’t decide. Me.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time? Somewhere warmer? Nah, I’m quite content to be back in London for the time being, and 5 years is just too far down the road.

What is your oldest memory? Climbing scaffolding far higher than I should have climbed, and being at the hospital a few hours before my brother was born.

If you had to choose, would you choose TV or internet? Internet. Internet. Internet.

What makes you happy above all else? My daughter. She is everything good, bottled in human form.

Town or country? Town, 95% of the time. Unless we’re in Scotland or Iceland, then I make exceptions.

Has blogging made you more inspired and confident in yourself or your writing? Absolutely. I used to read comments where people went on about the ‘lovely feedback and great support’, and I’d think, “Are you for realsies?” I have now discovered, to my delight, that it’s all true! I’ve found my voice again, which is very affirming.

What is the one fact that you know which no one else does that always sounds really cool? Uhhhhhhhh……………………………ummmmmmm………..

My recent blog-coveries

Amazing images: Angela Seager Images, A Ma Vie De Coeur Entier, BCL Photo

Refreshing writing: Analysis Paralysis, The Belle Jar, Rachel’s Whims

Laugh & cry about the expat life: thesmult, The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, Waking the Wombat

The gritty honest rebirth chronicles: Shirley’s Heaven, Imperfection is Sexy, The Pickled Pastor

General Deliciousness: Butter Baking, Le Zoe Musings, Architectural Wanderlust