Visiting Romans in Vienne

When in Gaul, do as the Gauls do. Something like that. Last weekend we found an opportunity to prance around like it was 47BC, in the little town of Vienne. After some confusion over where we were meeting, how to get from the ENS to the station, then how to get from the metro to […]

A day in Grenoble

I decided to go to the Alps. Although I have been in Lyon for just over a month, my life here so far has been steadily horizontal – far from the breathless climbs that pushed through every day in La Paz. Skiing was pretty much out of the question; despite my parents paying for private […]

Belgium: Brussels, Ghent, Courtai.

There are several reasons for visiting Belgium. Mine fall into two categories: Food (see – frites, moules, waffles) and Nice Old Things. This time, however, a third motivation presented itself: Following my Boyfriend Around Cities While he Makes Notes on 19th Century Statues for Some ‘Interesting’ Historical Project. Plus waffles. For attractions which elude me, […]

The Twelve Labours of Hercules, updated for the 21st century by French administrative staff

According to internet sites of varying reliability, it was Napoléon Bonaparte who first said ‘If you want a thing done well, do it yourself’. Though presumably he said it in French. Such a statement makes sense within the context of French administration, a vast and knotted series of systems designed to never let anyone into […]

London – Lyon by train

I actually travelled York – Lyon by train, but it sounded better with the alliteration. And although both Yorkshire and London firmly believe themselves to be at The Centre of The Universe, even I must concede that London is probably (marginally) more globally important. So London will be where the journey starts. After a 1st […]

Post-election poetry: Enemies, Wendell Berry.

Enemies If you are not to become a monster,you must care what they think.If you care what they think, how will you not hate them,and so become a monsterof the opposite kind? From where then is love to come—love for your enemythat is the way of liberty?From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go free of you, and […]

Night Mail, W.H Auden

(To be read out loud) Night Mail This is the night mail crossing the Border,Bringing the cheque and the postal order, Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,The shop at the corner, the girl next door. Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time. Past cotton-grass and moorland boulderShovelling […]

On not doing anything

(Disclaimer: Noting that anyone with a bit of free time is pretty lucky, and that many people, from CEO banker wankers to security guards on night shifts, don’t usually find themselves unexpectedly back in the suburbs due to political crises in South America, with too much time and an excessively restful sleeping schedule) Having cut […]

Two poems from Wendy Cope

As I attended the kind of school where you call teachers by their first name, it should be of no surprise to you that there are printed-out poems in the staff loos, for reflection during excretion. This was where I came across Cope’s most famous poem, the Orange: The Orange At lunchtime I bought a […]

What I packed for 3 months in South America

I backpacked around Chile, staying in hostels, as well as travelling in Bolivia on the weekends; worked in Bolivia, stayed in hotels in Peru (with my mum), and visited a range of climates – the jungle, salt flats, hiking in national parks, staying in cities, staying near the coast, mountains. Also La Paz is quite […]