I’m back! Or at least I’m nearly back.
My body arrived back in Adelaide about two and a half weeks ago, but my mind, my spirit and probably any other non-physical part of me has been floating god knows where in the ionosphere trying to overcome the displacement. Its been partly jet lag, partly a nasty infection in my inner ear and partly existential angst which I thought I’d left behind after I quit student life and the Catholic church, but now seems to be a compulsory souvenir of Paris.
It was quite a trip – Glasgow, Glencoe, Skye, Inverness, Pitlochry, Edinburgh, Portsmouth, London, Paris.
It was wonderful to see friends and family, closure to scatter my dad’s ashes in his home country and brilliant to share a family wedding with friends and family new and old.
What’s it left me with? Well here are some impressions in no particular order:
– I don’t seem to be able to ‘do’ large, overcrowded cities as I get older. Whether its the traffic, high density population or just higher energy, I got so stressed in the cities it was unbelievable. Pockets of quiet sanity were Bearsden, Putney and Greenwich.
– Homesickness. I hadn’t realised how much I missed the Western Highlands. I didn’t want to leave Glencoe, then I didn’t want to leave Skye. I could happily live anywhere in the triangle between Fort william, Skye and Inverness. Runrig once said in a song that ‘Mountains are holy places’. In that case Scotland’s got the best cathedrals in the world.
– Cathedrals. Spotted a few on the travels. St Pauls in London is a total rip off – 12 quid to get past the front door, and I kid you not – they have turnstiles in the church! Wonder how the big JC would have handled that mob – not as easy to overturn a turnstile as it is a table or two. Ironically, a couple of days later we discovered the Royal Naval college at Greenwich which was also built by Christopher Wren and was a beautiful example of his work. Oh and they didn’t rob you on the way in, either.
St Giles in Edinburgh started off ok but by the time we got to the altar, there was a sign saying that if you want to take pictures then its a 2 quid charge for a ‘permit’, to be paid at their shop. Cheeky bastards. If I was still operating in the Catholic/Protestant paradigm I would point out that St Pauls and St Giles are both proddy cathedrals, but I’m above all that now.
Meanwhile, with the Tims in Paris, not only is entry free and welcoming, they carry right on with their mass or other ceremony while tourists are welcome to still tootle about as long as its with respect. Much respect to the Parisians for that.
– Paris. The least stressy city I visited. I think its because its kinda hard to get lost, and when the sun comes out its like this charm offensive that just lulls you into a type of self-congratulatory mood that says ‘hey, yeh, cool, I’m in Paris”. Yup, ’twas that deep.
I found the Parisian people to be sparky and funny and full of attitude but nice with it. I loved it that the women tended to dress predominantly in black, like I do, so I felt pretty much at home. That was compounded when by chance we found ourselves at an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern art. It was a retrospective on George Soulage, apparently France’s greatest living painter, and it told the story of how his love affair with black developed – dual colour canvasses turning over the years to pure black and yet he was still fascinated at how the light still played across them – even with black there was no culling of the light, and in fact black actually gave the light new ways to be. I’m not a big modern art fan but I totally ‘got’ this guy and it felt so very good to have someone articulate something I never could.
– Bread. I am not a big bread fan or eater. Often I’d rather just have the filling and ditch the dough. However it was different in Paris. I don’t know what they do but the bread and pastries are different – very light – so I ended up eating more than I ever have and still kept excess weight off by covering an average of 10km a day on foot.
– Cowboy boots. My walking boots from Oz died by the time I got to Portsmouth, so I bought another pair of walking boots there. Unfortunately they dug into my heels and by the time I got to Paris I couldn’t wear them. So, I popped into a shop that had a sale on and for 15 euros got the most comfortable cowboy boots ever and that saw me trek the streets to my heart’s content.So, yay for gallic cowboy boots!
I think that’s probably enough for now. Lots of deeper stuff still being processed but its all good.There’s been a bunch o stuff happening also, since I got back, but I’ll save that for ‘ron.
Hope you’re all well!