Monthly Archives: February 2008
Just before Christmas, Monsieur and I collapsed onto a Eurostar train to Paris unaware that we would have free in-carriage entertainment for a good portion of our trip. Soon after the train glided away from the platform, a bilingual girl, no more than 10 years old, had a fight with her little sister as they sat across the aisle from me. There were noisy choking sobs, big red eyes and Maman promptly appeared to settle her girls. Blessed silence followed for a few minutes so I snuggled down into my seat trying to snooze the way to Paris, but this was not to be. Little Miss Songstress promptly launched into a whiny, wanna-be-popstar version of Shakin’ Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone’. It was pretty bad the first time she sang it, but then admittedly it was better than listening to snivelling. Maman cooed praises at her Little Miss as Little Miss decided she could sing it better a second time. And a third, and a sixth and an eleventh time. My i-Pod was out of charge. I had regrettably not considered packing earplugs. There was no way of blocking out the owner of that nasal annoyance so I sat there, along with my more considerate fellow passengers, silently wishing that the mother and her offspring would somehow find a way to accidentally fall off the train. That didn’t happen but eventually the child grew tired of singing so stopped after the twelfth refrain. Yes, sad as it may be, I had counted. Try as I might, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
On other not-so-pleasurable train trips to France I and my fellow passengers have endured stinky food that makes you wonder if someone has hidden some Epoisses under a seat, noisy children’s games on laptops, computer downloads of comedy complete with canned laughter, and mobile ringtones that make you wish you were deaf. The noise-free carriages appearing on various UK train networks may work to counteract the sound pollution on some carriages, but then again, when reading popular opinion concerning these it would seem that the rule is seldom enforced, meaning that if Sharleen wants to sing along with her mobile phone recording of some dischordant rap song in teenage defiance of others, then noone is going to do anything about it.
On another occasion, I endured a neighbouring 4-way conversation encompassing daughter’s search for the right university to attend in the States. Proud English father was there, talking about his American wife and life in the USA, what had brought the family back to England (schools) and his law credentials. I learnt so very much that evening that I almost felt part of the family. Meanwhile, Father and Daughter’s American seatmate launched into advice about which colleges were better than others and why, how many times she’d been published since gaining her doctorate in Art History before categorising her favourite Parisian museums in order of preference. This time my i-Pod was already firmly wedged into my ears but I still didn’t manage to miss anything in spite of trying to drown out the happy party with music. Don’t even think about trying to read with that sort of conversation blabbering on next to you. In fact, most of the carriage could probably divulge facts about the Ivy League that they’d never known before. That night, we couldn’t get to London quickly enough.
A different source of frustration when travelling Eurostar has to be queuing to clear customs at the Gare du Nord. The French and UK double-act of officials is arranged in a mess of booths and columns that interrupt the flow of passenger traffic. The Brits huff and puff as they try to negotiate a strategic spot in the line, generally losing out to our Continental Cousins who were taught in infancy how to leap-frog their way through obstructions with a dismissive pout and shrug towards anyone in their way. My new attitude? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Outta my way!
However, I have to admit that when lucky enough to be on the train in a quiet carriage, it is complete and utter bliss. Years after its inaugural trip through the Chunnel, there’s still something quite magical about travelling under La Manche in a sleek Eurostar train, green English countryside on one side and French fields on the other. Arriving at the Gare du Nord with Sacre Coeur’s white dome glinting in the distance never fails to bring a smile. The swiftness with which we are transported from one country to another, without the hassle of getting to or from an airport with added check-in times, security hassles and baggage claim is yet another bonus. And because food is so important to France, even a French catering strike won’t prevent the company from feeding you. They just arrange for extra provisions to be picked up in England.
In order to capitalise on the enjoyable experience that Eurostar can be, I’ve come up with a few rules. 1. Bring earplugs. 2. Make sure i-Pod is fully charged before travel. 3. Pack Kalms in case I need assistance with my planned snooze.
For those less considerate passengers among us, a few suggestions: 1. Kindly use all electronic devices with headphones. 2. Avoid stinky food and please don’t pack it. 3. Train your children not to disrupt fellow passengers, especially if they can sing. 4. Turn your Crazy Frog ringtone OFF and 5. Take your loud conversations to the bar carriage. I really don’t care what colour you paint your fence or what new wonder product your housekeeper is using. Some people just want peace…
One of the pleasures of living in London has to be adventures on the public transport system. I’ve decided to keep a log of how many times I am delayed on the tube and the creative excuses that come over the tannoy… Do check for my updates because you know they’ll be frequent!
July 2008: I’m resigned to the fact that the H&C line is never going to be the quickest line in the world, but my annoyance has now shifted to the ongoing Oyster card fiasco. Due to a recent crash of the Oyster system, many commuters were left with useless cards as the system had wiped them. That’s bad enough and I count myself lucky not to have been affected, however, I haven’t escaped completely unscathed. On three occasions recently, I have touched in and out as usual on my way to or from work, only to note at my destination that a total of £4.00 has been deducted for a single journey. One morning, I was running late for work. I touched in and touched out for the first part of my trip and then had to touch in again at the H&C line. Having had £12.50 on my card when I left home, I now had £0.50. I argued with the tube supervisor who insisted I top up and then walk back to the first line to ask for a refund. I chose to do this when I got to my destination, instead. “We can’t refund you that money. You didn’t touch in and out properly,” came the surly response. “Well, I can assure you I did , and I know that you can refund my money, so I will stand here until you find a way. No London tube ride should cost £12.00!” I was incensed. The manager was summoned to show the grumpy ticket person how to give me my money back, so I was refunded after all, but a few days later, another £4.00 was deducted from my card. This time, the (different) ticket person refunded it without a quibble. I can only say that this has taught me to watch how much is coming off my card each time I use it. Thank heavens I use the pay-as-you-go approach to top up. Otherwise I might never have noticed how much money was going down the Big Tube Drain.
1 April 2008 Yet another fire alert at Paddington, just as I got there. How many can that be in the past few weeks, I wonder. I was in no fit state to be delayed on the way home. A bug makes me feel as if I’m going to throw up all the time (and sometimes I do just that) so in the best interests of London’s unwitting commuters, I had to get home fast to avoid spraying projectile nasties all over them.
I walked to the bus stop. My bus didn’t even feature on the display board which had filled up with 8 other buses due between now and 12 minutes’ time. I walked to another main road, hoping to jump on a bus there, but 4 suitable buses went straight past the stop; they were already full. So I had to grab a cab, again. I simply did not have the strength to walk.
I’ve worked out that London Underground owes me about £12.50 in unnecessary cab journeys for the past two fire alerts. When it gets to £20 I might just submit a claim. And that doesn’t count the wasted deductions from my Oyster Card when I can’t even get all the way home. Grrrrr.
25 March 2008: Severe delays on H&C line due to a signal failure. Got to work 15 minutes late, which isn’t too bad, but a colleague arrived 45 minutes after me as the line had then been suspended completely. Ah, the joys of the Hot and Cold line, as I’ve heard it called. When it works, it’s fast. When it doesn’t, it’s hell.
20 March 2008: Should not have spoken so soon yesterday! On my way back from work was thrown off the train one stop from home. Tried to walk but then thought better of it because this involves taking a long, dark underpass which is scary enough by day. Waited for a bus. The next one was 12 minutes away. As it started to rain I managed to hail a cab and the driver told me that the guy he’d just dropped off was going to see his brother who’d just been diagnosed with MS. That sort of thing puts travel issues in perspective.
19 March 2008: Early Easter means early holidays. Immediately it becomes easier to get a seat on the train and the trains seem to be more frequent. Haven’t written much about the Dunderground recently because I’ve only experienced boring situations that are sadly repetitive. 20 minutes for train to arrive. Sit freezing with book on platform because by the time I try a different route, I might as well have stayed still. Train stuck in tunnel. No one talking. The only sounds are someone’s hand rustling in their crisp packet and a man turning the pages of his free evening paper. That sort of thing. No drama is good news. Will write more when the tube returns to its normal, frustrating self.
18 February 2008: A.M. Severe delays on Hammersmith and City Line. Wait for about 10 minutes for a train (this is quite normal) until the tannoy says the next train won’t be there for another 20 minutes. I decide on alternative routes and walk across the station to the Circle and District lines. Their tannoy says that there are severe delays on the Circle line, with the helpful suggestion that passengers make their way to the H&C line. Hmmm. Someone isn’t so bright up there in the control room. Meanwhile, a muezzin call sounds above the platform. Quite a surreal experience. 30 minutes late for work
4 February 2008: A.M. Waited for 16 minutes for a Hammersmith and City Line train. This is normal, but makes me think I should be walking, not wasting precious time this way. Can’t wait for the weather to improve so I can start walking to work again.
The alarm went off in the dark. Usually, getting up pre-dawn means one of two things: illness or an early flight. Today was a case of the latter, but not in the normal sense. We left the hotel just as a hint of breaking sun highlighted the river mist, following the trusty Michelin map to a field just below Rocamadour, one of France’s most visited pilgrimage sites. By now, the town hewn so creatively out of a cliff was tinged the soft rose of dawn. It was breathtaking. However, my breath was about to be taken away by something quite different: a hot air balloon ride.
Neither Monsieur nor I had ever been in a hot air balloon before, so the whole routine was new to us. Once at the rendezvous point of a dewy field we introduced ourselves to a balloon crew already unpacking their trailer. A shiver of doubt trickled down my spine as the pilot explained that our crew was not yet here and he would be teaching his two companions how to fly today. Oh joy. Would they use L plates? I wondered. Already nervous, the idea of floating around at great heights in a basket near learner pilots was becoming less and less attractive.
Our crew drove into the field and we went to say hello. There were two of them: the pilot and an assistant who would follow us in their jeep. The basket was unloaded, looking a lot smaller than I’d anticipated, then a large nylon kit bag was opened to expose the balloon. At this point it was surely too small to inflate into something large enough to carry us across the Dordogne skies. Once unfolded, however, with a gas canister pointed into it, the mass of green fabric filled up to full size.
All too soon it was time for take off. We climbed aboard. With Monsieur, the pilot, the gas canisters and me, there wasn’t much room to move. A piece of advice: never get into a balloon with anyone you don’t trust, or, for that matter, with someone you don’t like very much as you may be tempted to help them over the side. It would be all too easy.
Amusingly, the pilot gave us safety instructions prior to lift off, similar to what you see on a plane. “If you need to hold onto something, use the frame or the rope handles on the basket,” he told us, “and please do not touch the knobs on the gas canisters.” I prayed I wouldn’t knock into one accidentally. Did I mention how little room there was? “In case we bump into a cliff,” (a cliff? we could bump into a cliff, he said?) duck down inside the basket and hold onto the handles.” The pilot smiled. “But that hardly ever happens.” Not exactly reassuring when we’re stood right next to quite a large cliff of historic importance. We could end up taking out some unsuspecting tourists if we weren’t careful. Perhaps a whole bus-load. But wait, there’s more. “In the case of an emergency landing, duck down inside the basket and roll with it, and keep away from the flame.” Well, that part is obvious. I thought of my mother and started to pray.
The Learners took off at about the same time as us, so we travelled in tandem. Our basket bumped up off the ground and hovered. A surge of gas and we rose a bit. And hovered again. This happened a few times until we just floated, quite still, at a level with Rocamadour. This was a comfortable height, with a pleasant view of the valley and town. Perhaps we could just stay here for a few minutes and go back down? A couple of dogs below were already beginning to resemble small insects in quite an unnerving way.
My wish wasn’t granted. The gas surged again and up we rose heavenwards, gradually losing sight of Rocamadour. Soon we were above the clouds, floating across a fluffy white carpet with an unnerving expanse of blue sky all around our tiny little basket. Yet another unwanted thought popped into my head: can planes see balloons on radar? I certainly hoped so. Thank heavens we weren’t near any major airports.
After a while, I stopped praying and managed to take some photos. The vista of the unspoilt Dordogne landscape was stunning. It was easy to imagine cavemen running around down there shaking their clubs on the way to do some cave painting. Then we drifted across luscious farmland. At one crop of outbuildings a choir of barking started as the rush of our flame alerted some dogs to our balloon. We couldn’t see them, but clearly they didn’t like the sound of us. The barking faded as we passed farmhouse after farmhouse with fresh blue rectangles of swimming pool, a churchyard and lots of outbuildings and barns, all resembling those little plastic farm toys that come with a pair of ducks, some cows, a sheep or two and a hen house..
The pilot picked up his walkie talkie at intervals to identify landmarks as we flew over them, so that Monsieur Ground Staff knew how to follow us. Finally, just as I was beginning to really relax into the ride, he said “see you at Jean’s farm,” clicked the walkie talkie back into his belt and began our descent into the friendly Farmer Jean’s back field. I grabbed hold of the frame with one hand and the nearest rope handle with the other, gritting my teeth as I prepared to roll with the basket in case of a landing issue. Proving that Epicurus is quite sound in suggesting we find a way to live without fear, we bumped across the grass a little bit and stopped perfectly easily, making all my nerves and doubts seem rather ridiculous.
Climbing out of the basket, we were greeted by Farmer Jean’s Border Collie as Farmer Jean himself ambled out to shake hands with our pilot. Then Monsieur Ground Staff joined us, trailer in tow, as we waited for the balloon to deflate.
I stood back, absorbing the early morning light and the view of our Learner friends dropping into a nearby field, quietly mulling the concept that a lot of adventure can be had before 8.30 in the morning when I noticed the cobwebs. In the long field-grass there were cobwebs everywhere, beautiful in their symmetry and sparkling with dew. As I searched for a spider to match one of these webs, something tickled my face. It felt like hair so I reached up to brush it away, finding instead a spider walking across my hand. It must have taken a long walk up my jeans and over my fleece onto my face without stirring any attention. Looking like an anorexic daddy-long-legs, I gently put it back on the grass before watching the men pack away the balloon into the trailer. Already the trip had taken on a surreal quality.
Once back in the field of departure, the pilot filled out our flight certificates, justly earned, might I add, and bade us farewell. We felt it rude not to visit Rocamadour so off we went to breakfast at Le Beau Site, looking down on the field we’d just left. As we sat with our coffee, we watched the town wake up, shop shutters cranking open, tour buses arriving and discharging their passengers. Yet just before things became too crowded or touristic, we were able to leave, still pondering the morning’s adventures as we drove off to explore more of rural France.
It would seem my prayers worked. I had survived the balloon ride and would see my mother again. But would I go on a similar trip in the future? Almost definitely, yes.
When I jumped on the plane that would take me to London, I never knew I’d stay here for so long. At first, I made common mistakes of vocabulary, such as calling a chap “spunky”, only to have my English flatmate explain that although she watched the Australian soap, Neighbours, and therefore knew what I meant, in England “spunk” meant a male bodily fluid.
Long ago, I ceased calling the popular English washing-up product known as Fairy Liquid “Sunlight”, or plastic cling film “Glad Wrap” (New Zealand equivalents). I even stopped calling a “desk” a “disk”. The accent still pops up from time to time, gaining strength after a reunion with Kiwi compatriots, but it’s a lot more mellow than it used to be. Thank goodness for that. English people no longer have that quizzical look on their faces when I say something that sounds a bit wrong.
Some things still surprise me, though. When I first arrived in London, I thought being here 5 days, 6 weeks, 3 months or 2 years quite an achievement. Many years on, having adapted to life in a place where people sunbathe on a common as opposed to a beach, or where owning a car holds a myriad of unexpected fiscal outgoings such as congestion charges for daring to drive into the town centre, it would seem I might just have become a bit of a Londoner.
There are various on-line jokes listing indicators that you’ve been in London too long. One of the best indicators is feeling you’ve been resident here long enough to complain about delays on public transport without someone inviting you to return to your homeland. Everyone who uses tubes or trains here knows the standard delay excuses “there are leaves on the track” in Autumn, “there’s snow/ ice on the tracks” in Winter, “the heat is affecting the tracks” on a warm summer’s day, but imagine the outburst of laughter when a colleague recently mentioned a friend having been delayed on a train one winter with the loudspeaker stating that it was down to “fog on the line”.
There is also a statistic that in Central London, traffic moves at an average of 6 miles per hour. That would be on a good day.
Another frustration is that no matter what your pay rise, you always need more money the following year. It is horrendously expensive here. Over £3.00 for a pint of lager, that doesn’t count gourmet beers, over £5.00 for a day’s travel pass if you don’t have an Oyster card, a standard cappuccino at Starbucks costs almost as much as a discounted DVD. There is simply no rhyme nor reason to the prices.
In a city filled with historic monuments, world-class theatre and galleries to rival other metropolitan centres, it seems that most permanent residents need the excuse of a visiting out-of-towner to actually get out and enjoy some of these attractions. Why? Well, for one thing, the crowds. For another, popular exhibitions now have timed ticket slots to avoid queuing mayhem. For instance, we recently planned a work excursion to visit the Chinese Terracotta Army exhibition at the British Museum. The best ticket slot we could find was for 10.30pm. That’s too late for me and too late for my colleagues who have trains to catch to the commuter belt. Ho hum. The younger crowd went to the pub and then the exhibition, but I made other plans.
Another reason why Londoners don’t enjoy their history on a more frequent basis is the ticket prices. When Monsieur’s mother came to visit, we took her to the Tower of London. How much do you think it cost per ticket? £16.00 per adult. Even with an internet booking discount, this was still a very costly excursion.
Given all of the above problems, there are definite benefits to living in London. There are plenty of delivery services (a huge bonus at the end of a long day at work), you can buy lunch at 4pm if that’s when you’re hungry, there are lots of inexpensive ways to enjoy the sights, such as walking along the river or picnicking in the parks, or visiting some of the stunning churches in the capital. It’s possible to eat the food of a different ethnicity every day of the week, and then some. It’s also amazing how much an appreciation of tubes and trains that meet their schedules can suddenly make the day worthwhile.
So the answer to my question: too long in London? Maybe not just yet…
It was a beautiful Neapolitan day in August 2005 when we decided to venture out onto the Amalfi Coast to explore this famous winding corniche. Wishing we had a sixties convertible with the top down, a chic headscarf and huge “Do you know who I am?” sunglasses, I couldn’t believe that this area really was as beautiful as it appears on film.
When we reached Positano, I had a pinch-me moment. Could this place be real? We parked at a guarded lot, walking the rest of the way down the cliff on a path or “perron” lined with galleries and souvenir shops filled with all things lemon – limoncello, painted ceramics, lemon sweets and tea towels bearing yet more yellow citrus. Only at the bottom of the cliff did we look up and realise how special this place was. The hillside was littered with houses painted in pastels. Against the azure sky, the view was stunning.
By the beach, artists stood at their easels, daubing paint on canvases that would one day sit in pride of place above visitors’ mantelpieces. We chose a restaurant with windows opened wide to the sea and watched as the little world of Positano passed us by. A sixty-something couple walked along the little esplanade, he in a sandy-coloured linen suit and she in a candy-pink trouser ensemble, dripping with gold jewellery. Day-trippers squeezed themselves into rare patches of space on the public beach, and those who could afford it paid to go private. The painters continued with their daily work and boat owners hassled tourists to take a trip on their vessels. to quieter, neighbouring bays. It was a mesmerising scene.
Even lunch at Positano was memorable. My Capri salad consisted of the juiciest mozzarella I have ever eaten, bearing a light tang from the basil garnish and flavoursome beef tomatoes. It only added to the afternoon we were about to have.
There was no room for us on the public beach so somewhat reluctantly, we forked out for two loungers on the shingly private section. This was money well spent, however, as we enjoyed the shade of an umbrella once the sun became too strong. Trotting down to the sea, we were safely enclosed in a roped off swimmers’ area as we enjoyed a refreshing dip. Then, floating on our backs, we gazed at the backdrop of the town. All those beautiful houses creating a rainbow cascade down the cliff inspired a surge of positive emotion, the sort of feeling you never forget because it happens so seldom. Once back on the beach, drying off on our bright orange loungers, I knew that this would go down on the list of one of the best days of my life. That is what I call the Positano Effect: for a place to have such a strong and energising impact on a person that it will become part of their personal history.
Back in London, the Positano Effect remained. I put a picture of the town on my desktop. I sought out films featuring the fishing village – Under the Tuscan Sun, Only You, The Talented Mister Ripley, just to glimpse Positano again. A 1953 quote by John Steinbeck expresses such a reaction:
“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
With a fascinating history stemming from ancient times when Positano provided the Emperor Tiberius with flour whilst he holidayed on Capri, to legends of a miraculous Madonna, from the poverty which forced many of its inhabitants to emigrate in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the riches of tourism drawing all sorts of visitors and artisans to its shores, Positano has an unexpected and lasting effect. As we drove away I was already conjuring luck to bring us back. One day, Monsieur, one day.
As long as I’ve been travelling, I’ve collected mementoes to remind me of special places or experiences. As I write, I’m surrounded by many of them: a small, treasured oil of the Doge’s Palace in Venice, a mass-produced Eiffel Tower in grey metal, a photo of Monsieur holding a kitten at a pilgrim’s hostel in France, a painted magnetic trishaw from Melaka.
Some souvenirs are more poignant than others. Take, for instance, my $2.00 snow shaker of New York. It was bought in 1999 and yes, the World Trade Centre is depicted in twin towers of glorious black plastic. I paid next to nothing for it, yet was completely unaware of the significance it would come to bear. It has become, through unbelievable events, a very special $2.00 snow shaker.
On a religious note, we have statues of saints from Lourdes and Naples, and a mother-of-pearl- inlaid crucifix from Syria, a gift from my intrepid brother, a man who shares my nomadic DNA. There is a special scarf from the Middle East, a woven bag from the Lebanese/ Israeli border where we were surrounded by camouflage-wearing teens on tanks as we bought it, and a jewellery box from a souk in Luxor, one of my first successes in the fine art of haggling.
In every place we visit, I have to stop and check out the souvenir shops. The amusement value of this is undervalued by many a tourist. For instance, how many gondolier’s hats are sold in Venice each year, bearing tiny “made in China” stickers? It’s amazing how those 3 little words, once found, can automatically remove all trace of romance.
Then there are the perennial money-spinners. In Spain, last year, I was thrilled to see that they are still producing postcards of technicoloured seventies flamenco dancers with sewn-on ruffles of satin providing a 3-D skirt. Wonderful! I bought a couple to add to my collection.
There’s the effect of globalisation, too. Now grown up I find it amusing to see that teenagers still make a beeline for the local Hard Rock Cafe when travelling to a city with their parents, emerging with the requisite Hard Rock tee shirt, a bellyful of burger and a couple of dazed adults moaning about the youth of today.
Sadly for some, there are also those mean relatives who are still foisting tees on unsuspecting tots, forcing them to walk around emblazoned with “My auntie went to Vegas and all she bought me was this lousy tee shirt”. Save your money, PLEASE!
Years ago, when I lived in Venice, I took a train to see the sites of Padova. Having been rendered speechless by St Anthony’s shrivelled mandible in the reliquary, chosen for display because of his oratorial excellence, I felt it time to explore the souvenir shop. It was towards the end of my Italian stay so I was conscious of running out of money, but I did always regret not buying a certain pen. It was one of those brightly-coloured plastic pens with the top half filled with a background scene, some sort of clear liquid and a floating picture. In Venice, they contained a gondola that floated up or down, but here, the pens held tiny Virgin Maries which floated up and down in total serenity. I always find it oddly humourous to see such tacky representations of revered figures, but this one I simply adored and talked about for years until I finally found something similar in Lourdes. This time I bought the pen but I know I’ll never use it. Something about its commercial irreverence just doesn’t seem right. Just as using a mouse on the face of the Pope printed on a mouse mat I saw in Rome seems a bit wrong.
However, we can be a bit irreverent when it comes to naming things. Following a recent business trip, Monsieur returned with a bottle of sangria in the shape of a bull with castanets slung over its back. He’s a dignified beast, even if the sangria was a bit watery and the bottle top is rudely located under his tail. Promptly named Juan Carlos, after the King of Spain, he now has pride of place on the top of a bookcase, a position far preferable to standing in a row of stock on a souvenir shop shelf.
Looking for a suitable New Zealand souvenir to add to the list, how about possum fur nipple-warmers? No, I don’t possess any at this point, but who knows? One day perhaps.
In the meantime I wonder what will find it’s way into the suitcase on my next trip?
Epicurienne, travel lover and amateur foodie, was born in New Zealand, where the green-lipped mussels and Tip Top ice cream spoiled her tastes forever. At university she studied European languages before crossing the Tasman to become a Sydney-sider for a while.
After a year in Oz, replete with bush fires and dramatic sunsets, hotel shift work and the delight of meeting Kenny Everett and Cleo Laine during Mardi Gras, Epicurienne set off for the UK to study the fine and decorative arts (ie old paintings and breakables) but not before returning to New Zealand for a few weeks to fatten up on dairy products.
Following a stint at an auction house school and a spell in Venice which bewitched her forever, Epicurienne settled in London to undertake Real Work whilst harbouring a desire to one day write about her love of travel, different cultures and food, glorious food.
Epicurienne lives in London with Monsieur, her resident Frenchman. They are currently endeavouring to lose the weight gained through her more successful kitchen experimentation, and planning their next travel fix.