Sleeping with a Horseshoe

This week has been an amazing week. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, and that the journey has really begun.

I spent last weekend in Paris with one of my best friends, Katherine. It was her first time in Paris and I felt honoured to witness her falling in love with it. There is only one first time to see the Eiffel Tower, eat macaroons at Laduree and explore the Louvre, and we did all of that and more. We were blessed with fantastic weather, and the rare and underrated ability to get on well with each other for four whole days.

Sacre Coeur in the background

Paris -March 2012

I came back to London refreshed and reinvigorated by the memories of the joys of travel and exploration, of which I have so much more to come.

Then on Tuesday I received not one, but two, offers to buy my flat (apartment for you lovely North American readers). I, of course, accepted the first one with great enthusiasm, and spent the rest of the day with a permanent smile on my face. Selling my flat has been on my mind a lot lately, and the lack of offers was beginning to stress me.

As if this wasn’t enough to place me on cloud nine, a third wonderful occurrence took place in the middle of the night. I got a text from my brother telling me that I had been offered a ticket to Burning Man! Tickets are almost impossible to come by for this year’s festival, and so when Phil and I didn’t get any in the main sale we decided not to worry, and that if we were meant to go, tickets would come our way. Not in our wildest dreams did we think we would both find tickets before the end of March. If you could tattoo smiles on faces I would have one on mine.

The next day I went for the most magical meal I have ever eaten. It was at The Fat Duck in Bray. This Heston Blumenthal restaurant makes a meal into an unforgettable experience.

Five different whiskeys made into sweets

Ladies who lunch - for one day only.

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck

The envelope seal is made of chocolate

Like a kid in a sweet shop

The twelve courses including a Madhatter’s Tea Party, sushi while listening to the sound of the sea, and a bag of very special sweets to finish with, including one sealed in an envelope, of which the seal turned out to be chocolate!

Not sure how it happened, but it seems I’ve been sleeping with a horseshoe all week, and I am so incredibly grateful for the luck I have had.

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The Cow and I in the Library

The streets of Brussels smell like waffles and chocolate.

I was fortunate to spend the weekend in Belgium earlier this month. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Brussels. I’d heard that it is a soul-less city of Eurocrats, I found it to be a city full of gorgeous architecture and wonderful food. On the first night we ate in a restaurant with this fine fellow hanging around outside:

Outside Amadeus restaurant in Brussels

I also spent a day in Bruges, which was quaint and the most picturesque place I have been for ages.

A walk through the Begijnhof, which used to be almshouses for wives whose (corrected for grammatical accuracy) husbands were fighting in the crusades, was almost magical. The sunlight through the trees and the daffodils made my heart fill with the gladness of spring. It’s been a long winter.

Almshouses and Daffodils

A lovely spring day in Bruges

Bruges is laced with canals and tourists riding in horse drawn carriages.

A canal in Bruges

Brussels and Bruges were both so much more than I had hoped. I love it when a place exceeds expectations. If ever you get a chance to visit either, do go! I leave you with a picture of me with the sign at the European Parliament written in every European language.

Every European Language

European Parliament

Motorcycle Meditation

My ride home from work today was diverted due to a pretty bad motorcycle collision.

It was on a tight corner that I haven’t quite got the hang of myself, where a lot of traffic is turning onto a road that leads to a tunnel under the river. My heart goes out to the rider who was injured (if not worse) and it has made me think again about how important it is to be vigilant at all times when riding.

I’ve been researching helmets again. I won’t get into the discussion on which one to buy in this post, I mention it because I came across a very interesting theory on webbikeworld.com’s helmet FAQ page:

“The act of riding is a form of meditation, because the concentration that’s required to safely ride a motorcycle tends to focus the mind in a way that eliminates other mental distractions that might interfere with the mission.

This creates a single-mindedness that, in effect, displaces the continuous stream of thoughts that normally flow through our consciousness.

Thoughts about what to eat, who to meet, and worries about the common stresses of everyday life, such as pressures from work and home, disappear from our minds during the ride, because the concentration that’s necessary to focus on the ride pushes those thoughts far into the background.

The result is that the mind becomes refreshed after a ride just like it would after a session of formal meditation or a relaxing vacation.” (webbikeworld.com)

I had never thought about motorcycle riding in this way before, however it is very true. You have to focus on the road, other road users and pedestrians darting into traffic constantly. There is no time for daydreaming. On the days I ride into work, I am much calmer and more awake when I get to my desk compared to when I take the tube.

My annual season ticket for London public transport runs out on Thursday. Of course I am not going to renew it, I will pay for the days when I take public transport separately and try to ride in for my dose of daily meditation most days. It is one more sign that my days of 9-5 office working are nearly over. I have another viewing of the flat tomorrow, no offers yet so I hope this guy likes it enough to make an offer.

The flat selling is my biggest stress at the moment. I really would prefer to have someone purchase it before I fly back to Canada to start trip preparations in earnest. If you know anyone who would like a modern two bedroom flat in Greenwich – please send them this link.   

Motorcycle Dominos

There’s a new game in town, a game that everyone loses other than the spectators. Motorcycle Dominos!

This happens when in a hurry and needing to park in a busy motorcycle bay, and squeezing into a space between two bikes that is only just big enough.

I played this game today, and successfully parked in a space that really wasn’t big enough. All this was fine, until it came time to leave. I had the bike on the centre stand (no room to lean on the side stand) and as I pushed it off the bike tipped and I only just caught the scooter next to me, before it crashed into the next bike, toppling the whole row of bikes.

There I was, with Charlie falling over against my leg, desperately holding on to the scooter – one slip and about 30 bikes would fall in a glorious and horrendous crash!

Luckily for me, and all the bikes, a nice city worker walking by heard my cries of distress and picked Charlie up so I could right the scooter. A quick check for damage (none, thank goodness) and away I rode.

Today’s lessons: Motorcycle Dominos is not for me – and best have someone around when you get in trouble to avoid disaster!