After a few whirlwind weekends away, I am ready to settle into the London transition into winter. I’m ready for warm beverages, comfy scarves, big homemade batches of chili and evenings in with my nose buried in a book. I’ve been pretty bad at catching up on my internet perusing as of late, but after a Saturday spent being a complete hermit (bliss), here are some of my favorite recent finds.
The Serial podcast (so addicting… the suspense might kill me.) And the Stuff You Should Know podcasts.
“Le Big Mac.” Its been 20 years since Pulp Fiction was released. Some behind-the-scenes stories.
This autumn butternut squash soup with sausage and kale.
Convinced this is still the best show on TV right now… funny now to look back at how it started.
An AMAZINGly read-able guide to the US Midterm elections from the geniuses over at The Skimm.
What’s that, Vogue? A November cover shoot with Natalia Vodianova shot by
Absolutely stunning photo essay of Paris – you’ll be thrown back in time.
J. Crew making me want all the things (again)
The penguins were the best thing about Madagascar and now they have their own movie. With Benedict Cumberbatch. I’m in.
Everything Neil Patrick Harris does. Can’t wait for him to host the Oscars.
Photo from Amsterdam by Jess-On-Thames
It has been just over one year since I moved from Brussels to London. I’ve recorded a few thoughts on moving to London thus far… but one year in, I thought it only fitting to confirm:
1. It is addicting to live somewhere where so many people love what they get up to on a regular basis.
2. It can feel like a gigantic metropolis or a little village.
3. It can be comforting.
4. It can be overwhelming.
5. I am still not cool enough for Shoreditch.
6. I gloat a little bit when I’m smart enough to check for weekend Tube closures.
7. British television is amazing: the documentaries, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, The Honorable Woman, Luther, Strictly Come Dancing, Great British Bake Off, anything with David Attenborough or Simon Reeves in it… I can keep going.
8. I have only ventured south of the river a handful of times (because Southbank doesn’t count). There is no excuse.
9. Londoners can be very territorial (see point above).
10. There is such a thing as historical monument overload. (But one can recover very quickly.)
11. Trains are expensive. And why on earth they need to give you so many tickets every time you travel is beyond me.
12. Half my salary has gone to London bookstores.
13. You can pay for virtually anything by card.
14. I respectfully decline to start calling a garbage truck a “dustbin lorry”.
15. Eating out is just as much about the experience as the food.
16. I’m still chuckling about a menu that offered “Braised English Kid” on it.
17. You can get carded. I did. (It was ridiculous.)
18. London is a charitable city. But most of the time likes to pretend it isn’t.
19. Everyone talked to me about tea… but the coffee to be found is amazing.
20. London’s green spaces are very possibly more special than its concrete ones.
21. The NHS is hard to get your head around.
22. If someone says “Hallo, y’aright?” they are not actually curious to know if you are alright.
23. London squirrels = town jesters. Seagulls = menaces. October spiders = absolutely terrifying.
24. Even just thinking about the V&A lowers my blood pressure.
25. I love it.
I’m surprised how quickly London has come to feel like home… if home also happens to be a place where you often can’t wait to get out and explore something new.
Photos by Jess-On-Thames – Little Venice, The Shard, Portobello Road and Parliament Hill.
Ahhhh, Paris. Paris in autumn is magical. In what has become a spontaneous and absolutely fabulous series of travel weekends, my friend Lindsay and I just got back from two days in Paris.
Traveling to Paris in the autumn feels like something of a pilgrimage for me now, spoiled as I am to still live only a two hour train ride away. It sends me back to 2001 when myself and a dozen other naive American students from upstate New York ignored our advisers’ advice to not pack everything we owned and instead shoved all our earthly belongings into over-sized suitcases to prepare for a year “à Paris”. We were spoiled rotten and had the choice of more or less any classes in the city. Want to study literature at La Sorbonne? OK. Politics at Sciences-Po? Pas de probleme. I didn’t realise at the time how lucky we were.
Things were thrown into limbo when, 6 days into our trip, the date turned September 11, 2001. The year of adventure I thought we were setting out on became a year of truly feeling the distance and wondering if part of us didn’t really want to be back home.
My own way of processing entailed throwing myself into discovering Paris. We had art history passes which allowed us free entry into practically every art museum across the city. I’m pretty sure I’ve walked through every hallway in The Louvre (which actually isn’t a good thing because you end up telling others its not worth it unless you have time to see it all). I watched the leaves fall in the Tuileries Gardens and learned how to tie my scarves like the Parisian girls did. I lamented the absence of take-away coffee (for these were the days before Starbucks came to France) but learned the pleasures of lingering with a book at the sidewalk cafe.
I cannot count the number of walks I’ve taken across the Pont des Arts or the times I wandered down one of my favorite streets: la Rue de Saint Andre des Arts which connects the Place St Michel to the St Germain area. I grew used to the sound of church bells ringing on a weekend. I proclaimed nutella-banana crepes the best dessert on earth and I embraced a closet-full of black clothing. I purchased more than a few pairs of European-looking shoes. I smiled to myself when I understood most of Amelie in the movie theatre without the help of subtitles.
Going back now is incredibly special. Some things have changed: There is an electronic billboard on a building that lines the Seine – just down the way from l’Academie Nationale – that almost sent me into shock. Some of my old favorite haunts are gone and some delightful new ones have appeared. The scaffolding has finally come off the front of Notre Dame (the evening autumn light when it hits the facade is not to be missed.)
There simply isn’t a better way to state how I feel about Paris than to quote Casablanca. I doubt I will ever live in Paris again – but going back will always feel a delightful autumn shade of comforting.