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 […]

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 […]

Bolivia is burning, the President’s run away, and all the flights are cancelled

After a few weeks of protests in Bolivia, following the national elections (and Morales’ subsequent ‘victory’), I decided it would be a good time to leave the country. A few events motivated this decision: 1, airlines had cancelled several international flights; 2, protester were blockading access to the airport, and 3, the Year Abroad administrator […]

L’Albatros/ the albatross (Baudelaire)

As if a) writing a blog, and b) writing about poetry FOR FUN wasn’t bad enough, today I present to you: c) me writing on my blog about a poem in French. Really, I get it if you just want to exile me to the special jail to which all pretentious Francophiles (indeed all people […]

How to become fluent in any language – in just 3 easy steps !

What is the internet trend that most annoys you, Flora? Glad you asked. After Men Explaining Things To Women on Twitter, and People Oversharing Online, I do find my fists clenching at one particular theme of clickbait content: Youtube videos and blogs with titles such as ‘How I learnt Italian in 1 month!’ or ‘How […]