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this green and pleasant land

Just watched a beautiful pink sky fade behind a narrow church steeple outside my hotel window. Birds are twittering. There’s a lovely garden below. The city seems very far away.

This is what I need — an oasis, a silent sanctuary. My own space. I love my friend and was very glad to spend time with her; the living space of the apartment she rented for us was wonderfully bright and tasteful, but she had no way of knowing that the second bedroom was very small with a lumpy bed and nowhere to put things. I’m an organized person, especially while travelling, and not knowing where anything is drives me crazy. The minute I arrived for three nights in this hotel room, I nested, unpacked everything, put clothes away on shelves and hangers, papers, electronics. I am a happy, organized camper.

I’m also able to hork. The expectorant pills I bought in Paris are helping to clear my lungs of the gunk filling it, but I need to make that horrible noise and just couldn’t do it with someone else around. Now I can hork and my lungs are clearing, I think.


The hard part about this morning was saying goodbye to my dear friend, who was setting off back to Montpellier. Not sure when we’ll see each other again, but despite my illness, it was a fine visit, and I’m grateful, as always, for all she does to make France feel like home for me. And for putting up with my feeble self this week.

I walked up to the #26 bus — stopping first at our local boulangerie to buy a pain au chocolat, a croissant, and a tuna baguette — this on top of the ham sandwiches I’d made for Madame et moi for the journey. The bus took me straight to the Gare du Nord. Seamless — as the Eurostar hurtled through the French countyside at 250 kms. an hour, I chatted to a Frenchwoman taking her two Potter-mad daughters to the Harry Potter studio tour in London. And then we’re in the chunnel — it still seems unimaginable, how did they do it, build a tunnel under the Channel? — and 15 minutes later we’re above ground and hurtling through the British countryside.

At King’s Cross station (famous from the Potter books) I updated my Oyster card, got the Piccadilly line to Holborn, changed to the Central line, got out at Notting Hill Gate, an area I don’t know at all. Spent ten minutes in the swirling chaos of a busy street getting my bearings, and found this quiet street and my quiet hotel. Vincent House has a common room downstairs with a bar, a piano, a pool table, books – and a pretty garden outside. And inside, my little room with shelves and hangers. I am in heaven. And a big breakfast included.

It was a glorious day, supposed to be fine all weekend but rain next week. After recuperation and organizing, I walked through Kensington Gardens, the most enormous park, so different from a French park – this one unstructured, just acres of trees and grass, people sitting and walking everywhere. The children’s playground dedicated to Princess Diana was packed with joyful noise. I strolled, trying to get my bearings on the phone, sorry I hadn’t been able to find an actual map — I still need a paper map because dinosaur. And then there was a discarded London map lying in the grass! I also found a man’s phone in the grass and brought it to a couple picnicking nearby, hoping they’d know how to get in touch with him.

I was happy to be surrounded by so much green.

Back at the hotel, I bought a small bottle of wine and went up to my room to hibernate, ate the tuna sandwich from Paris with some wine for dinner, looking at the sky. I feel better. I feel better. Still shaky, still coughing, but organized.

New adventures await. In the meantime – BBC TV!

For some reason, my most recent pix have not downloaded, but here are the ones that did: 1. One of these women got up at 5 a.m. to do yoga, and the other has been sick for five days. 2: on my way, backpack on, tiny suitcase crammed. As careful as I was, there’s still too much. 3. The very busy Gare du Nord seen from the Eurostar perch. 4. Short story dispenser – love it. 5. Diana’s playground. Unaccompanied adults not allowed in, which is a good thing. 6. Came out the other side of the park to see this – Royal Albert Hall. That queen sure loved her hubby.




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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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