I spent last weekend over on the other side of la manche (the English channel), in London. It was lovely to visit my uncle, my aunt and to be welcomed by their close friends. I was spoiled when it came to good food and good company- which made the visit something I will cherish for a long time.
Leaving France was not easy though. Whilst I had no worries taking the Paris Metro to change from the southern to the northern train station, I had a small problem passing through border security. My passport was fine, but I was unable to complete my Arrival Card with a destination, as I had no idea what my aunt’s address was. I was in a slight panic, but fortunately the security guard was kind and calming, and I was soon through the gate and on my way to England!
In the queue for the train, it was strange to hear so many people speaking my home language, but in a British accent. I had the sensation of something very familiar and yet totally strange all at once. Whilst waiting, I met a young girl called Gabby, short for Gabrielle, who had just been to Disneyland with her grandparents. It was nice to meet a little namesake off on her own French adventure.
On the second train journey, I slept for a majority of the time. After waking, I managed to strike up a conversation with the woman next to me by asking the whereabouts of the nearest bin (which happened to be right next to me!). She was working for the University of Kent, for students studying Art History. For her work, she divides her time between Canterbury in England, and Paris – so she knows the train ride very well! In fact, she was once, during a particularly bad snowstorm, her train was stuck under the channel, and she and her fellow passengers were led via an emergency tunnel to another train, and to safety. A reassuring tale.
My arrival in London was smooth – I had even managed to bring a couple of (slightly crushed) pastries all the way from Tours. Seeing my aunt’s familiar face was such a comfort, and it was fascinating to hear all her stories of London and the difficulties of settling in a new place. It was nice to travel around her neighborhood buying things for dinner- which turned out to be a magnificent roast. Even though London is a far cry from anything in Australia, meeting my family and spending time with them made me feel very much at home.