Archive for November, 2011

Je suis un flaâneur!

November 30, 2011

I remembered that French word for lounging, strolling along the streets, lazily observing the passers-by – flâner. Even the sound of it is world-weary! Well, that was me today! I was a flâneur in the streets of the Marais, wandering wherever the fancy took me, watching people, browsing in shops. Actually my browsing ended up quite goal-oriented, because I found a shoe shop where a whole lot of shoes were on sale, and I bought a pair that I really like really cheap. I’ve needed new shoes ever since I discovered my desert boots let in water – that was a discovery when catching the train up to Stdney airport.

I also found a bookshop where all sorts of art books were selling at huge discounts – I could’ve bought heaps, but then I’d have the weight to bring back on the plane. So I got a calendar for Aileen and a wonderful bizarre Dracula pop-up book, where the vampires pop up right out from the pages!

It was sunny today – cold but sunny, perfect for wandering. Aileen was doing a bus our she’d booked earlier – we didn’t know when I’d be free until close to leaving Australia. She had a lovely time in the sun too.

Guess what? I discovered a steampunk Metro station! It’s Arts et Métiers, the line there we don’t usually use. It looks like this


Nice, huh?
I’m now back at our apartment, and I took a photo of our little kitchen –


Small but cute. We’re off to the opening of the Salon de Montreuil this evening, which is why I’m blogging earlier.

Still holidaying!

November 29, 2011

We still haven’t adjusted our body clocks properly – we keep falling asleep around 9.30 at night. Maybe beer with Indian restaurant meal had something to do with it.

So Aileen got some face cream and fancy stockings, and we admired the Xmas decorations. Here’s Aileen with the dome and galleries of Galeries Lafayette.


Then we went to meet her friend Maggie, who’d come over for the day by Eurostar train. Getting up at 5.30 in the morning – there’s friendship for you! V nice chatting to her – then I went off to see the Saint Chapelle – yes, more stained glass! It’s like being inside a jewel box. I swear I’ll dream dreams of that unbelievably deep cobalt blue tonight,

Now it’s off to do some more Parisian dining – French food tonight, yum!

Of Parties and Puces

November 27, 2011

Yesterday when I was signing at the bookshop, I was told that the Rue Oberkampf area, where we’re staying, is the area of Paris where young people go to party. Boy, did they party next door to us last night! They were wild, and they went all the way through until morning. We got some sleep, ut only thanks to pillows over the ear and sleeping pills.

I’m going to try inserting the photo from dinner with publisher again –

Ha, got it that time! Sophe (my publisher) is on the left next to Aileen, and Gérard (artist, illustrator) is on the right next to me. (The photo was taken before Gilberte and Valérie arrived)

Today we went to the famous flea market, the marché aux puces, at St Ouen. We only got round a part of it – looking for Xmas presents for Aileen, we checked out the main clothing and jewellery areas. I bought myself some steampunk goggles (genuine Austrian military goggles) and a super-smooth shirt. For Aileen, red boots, poncho and various bits of jewellery.

While we were wandering round, amazing coincidence! We ran into Dario, a teacher from the school where Aileen used to teach. We knew he was holidaying in Paris, but the chance of running into him …!

The weather has turned cloudy again. It showered for about 2 minutes. On the positive side, it’s warmer again too.

Les Enfants sur Le toit

November 26, 2011

Today was my first day on duty – at least for a part of the day – reading and signing at a Montmartre bookshop called Les Enfants sur Le tout. Aileen slept in late, then we went to the top of Montmartre by Metro and funiculaire. One thing we’ve discovered – this ‘off’ season for tourists doesn’t seem very very off at all – tourists everywhere. Last time I went to Montmartre over thirty years ago, the artists in Place du tertre,they were all painting imitation Utrillo streetscapes – now they only do portraits of paying customers.

We didn’t have long for wandering- then we had descend steps to the bookshop. Here’s me with Corinne and Valérie, who own and run the shop, and a third woman who works there.


I did two readings in French – I was a bit disappointed in myself, that my French wasn’t smoother, but Aileen thought I was impressive, So maybe I’m being too hard on myself. The audience was tiny, yet a surprising number of people bought one or hothead books in the course of the afternoon.

It was dark by the time we left the bookshop, and cold. The weather turned sunny today, but cold at the same time. We had some excellent cold weather food at a nearby bistro restaurant – cassoulet for me and rabbit for Aileen.

Waves of sleep are passing over me, even though it’s only 9.30. I guess the body hasn’t adjusted to the time zone. Here’s a view looking up from our window.

À Paris!

November 24, 2011

Well, we’re here! From plane to train to taxi, and there was Gilberte waiting for us with the key. Tonight we’re going to dinner at Sophie’s place in Montmartre – Sophie’s the publisher, Gilberte the editor, and Valérie the translator.

We’ve sorted out SIM cards for using mobiles in France, we’ve visited a nearby supermarket for cheese and wine and other bits and pieces, adding to what Gilberte already had laid in for us.

No time to write more now – no time to take a photo, even.

One More Sleep!

November 22, 2011

Today has been a weird day, because we’d both done more packing than we realised, so there wasn’t much left to do. I remember driving in to town to collect business cards and search for felt or padded vests in the shops (wrong season here – no joy!), and I did some novel planning, called on neighbours, arranged my cabin luggage, printed out a few maps – where did the time go? I must have done more than that, but I can’t think what.

The flights, via Kuala Lumpur and Amsterdam, will last 26 hours – blechhh! Utter boredom, cramped legs, more boredom, too much food. We arrive early in the morning – Thursday morning in Paris. There was a problem with the apartment, would it be ready in time, but now it looks like we’re in luck and we’ll be able to go straight there. In the evening, we go for dinner with the Sophie (publisher), Gilberte (editor) and Valérie (translater) from Hélium. It’ll be great to meet them again – last time was on a flying visit to Paris after I’d finished the US and UK book tours.

Here’s a photo of the Espace Montreuil l’Est, where the book fair happens – I found – many more impressive video clips and virtual tours, but this was all I could download

So one more sleep! We leave for the airport around noon, and Michelle comes over later in the day to live in the house while we’re away (and feeding Habibi). As for that 26 hours – I wipe it from my mind, a slip in time, it doesn’t exist. I wish they’d hurry up and invent cryopods for frozen suspended animation for long distance flights.

Aussie BBQ

November 20, 2011

Here’s what my study looks like, with stuff ready to pack (and there’s more in the lounge room). I need a compression tool!


Took time out from preparations this afternoon – a BBQ at Jamberoo to welcome Keith Stevenson and Nicola O’Shea to Wollongong. Both in publishing, Keith a writer as well as an editor – and they’ve just escaped the Sydney rat race for the peace of the Gong. The BBQ was at Alan Baxter’s place, a little way south at Jamberoo, set in a green valley with black and white cows. Perfect rural peace! Alan and Alinka live in what was once a dormitory house for workers at the milk factory. Cat Sparks and Rob Hood were there too – just back from Phuket.
We had special sausages from the Jamberoo butcher – not only called beef sausages but really totally packed full of local beef. Showers pattering on the roof, dog chasing and catching the remnants of a soccer ball, cows going off to be milked, flies being friendly – a great reminder of all things Aussie before Paris.

Too late, the Vision Splendid!

November 19, 2011

I’ve had a revelation, but I don’t have time to act on it. I was up till after midnight yesterday downloading apps and other material onto my iPad – the one I’m typing on now. Apps for finding cafes in Paris, and opening hours, interactive maps, guides, dictionaries – theres an app for everything you need to know overseas. Many of them free, none of them more than a few bucks. I still feel as if I’ve only just scratched the surface. Fact is, an iPad is the ONLY thing you need for travel in a foreign country – the things you can do with a WIFI connection are just a bonus on top of all the things that apps can do.

Except there’s one tiny huge problem. My iPad is just too bulky to tote around everywhere. What I really needed was n IPHONE! But I don’t have time to shop and buy and do all the downloading now. Life could’ve been so much simpler!


That’s the cover of the French edition of WORLDSHAKER. Very different! French readers have their own traditions of over style. That one certainly worked.

Cats and logos

November 18, 2011

Hah! Habibi, our cat is getting very sooky (well, my cat really, because Aileen’s so much not a cat person). Do you think cats know? I swear every cat I’ve ever had starts acting strange several days before I leave for a while. It’s not as if there are any clues, no obvious signs of packing yet. Anyway, it’ll be his lucky day, because Michelle will be staying in the house most of the time when we’re away, and he loves Michelle.

I’ve been preparing readings in French, and using Google Translate to do a French version of what I’ve said in previous interviews and talks. (Sometimes Google Translate goes barking mad, but mostly it gives me at least the words I need to remember.)

Here’s the logo of the Salon de Monteuil, the big book fair. I’ll be there for the evening launch on Wednesdayember 30th Nov, and for signing on Saturday, Sunday, Monday after that.

Getting frantic!

November 17, 2011

Today, I failed to do my proper day’s writing – O woe! It’s like a contract I make with myself, and still feel as if I ought to fulfill it. I decided to check on the possibility of having a short run of business cards done – mini-adverts really, with the covers of the French books in gloss and colour on both sides. I wasn’t expecting to go ahead with it, until it turned out that I hadn’t left it and it wasn’t hellish expensive. But then I had to create the artwork, which took up almost the whole morning. This afternoon, there were euros and cash passport to arrange – all done successfully this time – so my unfinished writing still hangs suspended in my mind. Oh well. Get real, Richard.

My schedule of signing and talk-giving duties in Paris should allow me a few days entirely for holiday, and several free periods on other days. So I’ve been throwing in my two bob’s worth of what I’d like to do. Aileen wants to visit a particular flea market and Galeries Lafayette/Au Printemps on the Grands Boulevards (we’ll do those together) and visit Versailles (on her own … she has as much free time as she wants, of course). Plus she has a friend from the UK coming over one day, and two days’ of hop-off-and-rejoin bus tours already booked. My wish list takes in Chartres and Fontainebleu (day trips from Paris), the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre, and the Sainte-Chapelle. It’s only a wish list – only some of it will become a reality!

I kicked off this post with a view looking down the street from our apartment (in theory – there might be a tree blocking the view or anything in practice). Now here’s a view across to the other side of the street.