Holidays


“Only one thing marred the trip,” I wrote in my last post. But even that had good consequences, as well as bad.

On the way to Carcassonne, I’d expected not to catch the direct train from Marseille. This would have meant waiting for hours and then changing trains twice on the way. In the event, my plane landed half and hour early and I caught the direct train easily. Plain sailing.

Not so on the return journey. My train was delayed by a full hour. And my suitcase was stolen, probably at the station after Carcassonne. It felt like déjà vu. Exactly twenty years earlier my rucksack was stolen on a train from the airport into Paris. This created no end of complications, involving replacing passports and credit cards.

There was nothing important or valuable in the suitcase. But still.

“You should tell the guard,” said a girl who spoke good English. I found the guard, who also spoke good English but was very unhelpful, unless you count telling me I should have been watching the case all the time.

At Marseille’s Saint-Charles Station, I searched for the police station and found it.

Police Notice

That wasn’t much help. I asked at the information place what I should do. The guy there wasn’t at all helpful. But at my Japanese hotel, I was given a map and walking directions to the nearest police station, which I found easily.

Two things interested me during the two hours I spent there. I wish I could have taken photos, but I decided that wouldn’t be a good move!

As I stood waiting in a queue, a man arrived all cut up and dripping blood. The police officers talked to him from behind the protected counter, and he answered. The people sitting on benches in a corner moved up to let him sit, which he did. A woman who talked to him and seemed to be trying to help got snapped at, but he did thank – profusely – a couple who came into the station with him, for their help.

After a short while, two police officers arrived to administer first aid before taking him away. When I was told to sit and wait, I noticed blood on the bench where he’d been sitting and kept away from it.

Just before that, while I stood at the counter waiting for them to deal with me, I saw two officers – one female and one male – kissing. It occurred to me that this was a strange place to carry on a romance. As I sat in the waiting area, it became obvious that this was a procedure that took place every time an officer entered or left the area behind the counter – men with men, men with women and presumably women with women if there’d been more than one woman. Yes, it was only the kiss-on-each-cheek type, but to one who doesn’t live in France, it seems strange in that setting.

At eleven o’clock, when they finally finished with me, I asked, “Is it safe to walk back to the hotel at this time?” showing an officer the hotel on my map. He pointed to the way I should walk, telling me not to walk round the other way because it’s not safe. That didn’t make me feel wonderful, but I got back in one piece.

The other good outcome was that I didn’t have to deal with a suitcase on the way home. This was particularly useful at Ben Gurion Airport, which was very crowded because of a holiday. I was pleased to be able to get out in record time.

Just clothes

And I got new clothes.

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve written about me on this blog, so here goes…

My most recent news is about the few days I spent in France, due to the providence of my publisher, Crooked Cat Books. The “gathering” of authors was both fruitful and fun, and the location of Carcassonne was perfect.

Black Jacket

You can see how much I enjoyed it!

Then, on the way back, I spent a day in Marseille, which also has plenty to see.

Marseille

And I loved the Japanese hotel I stayed in.

Japanese Art

Only one thing marred the trip, but I’ll leave that for another post.

It was great to return home. (Sorry about the misted window.)

Returning Home

Oh yes! A month ago, I was thrilled to be able to share five special photos on Sharon Booth’s lovely blog. Do have a look if you haven’t yet. A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.

Several years ago, we set out on a hike in Switzerland with our three children. It began to pour with rain, but we’re hardy people; rain doesn’t deter us. We knew we’d have to traverse a narrow ledge ahead, but hey, we could do it. Then we passed a couple going the other way. “You’re brave,” they said. That’s when we turned back.

Hiking in Switzerland

When you hear those two words, “You’re brave,” you suddenly think, “Am I brave? Do I want to be brave? Have I made a big mistake?”

When we heard those words on that hike, we realised we didn’t want to be so brave and didn’t go to that ledge. There was no problem doing that. This memoir author, who also worried about those words, would have had more difficulty pulling out if she’d wanted to. Fortunately, she decided she didn’t.

My MemoirI’m still planning to write a memoir one day. I’ve even thought of a format and written the first chapter. The revelations in it won’t be as hard as the ones Susan Burrowes owned up to. And many of the people in it are no longer alive and able to be hurt by it. Someone wants me to leave something out. It’s a very small part of the whole and can easily be omitted. It shows something important, but there are other examples.

That's me

 

 

I’ll have to be ready for people to tell me I’m brave. I think I will be.

Have you been told you’re brave? How did you react?

Yes, I was away again – another trip to the UK. This one was shorter than the last – only two weeks, but very worthwhile. I visited friends and family. I had a lovely week with my husband in Stratford-upon-Avon, Eastbourne and Richmond.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon (photo by David Drori)

But the main reason for the trip was to give a talk and a workshop on social anxiety. I’m pleased and proud with the way they went and hope to do more of that in the future. I wrote more about the talk and the workshop on the other blog.

I might be a bit quiet for a bit, as I have many things to attend to. But don’t forget the next in the series Letters from Elsewhere, which will be on 20th April.

And… Happy Birthday to this blog, which is nine years old tomorrow (23rd March).

It’s that time of year (for some). The time when you have to think up presents for everyone. It’s hard.

But there’s one person who wouldn’t be a problem. You know exactly what you want to give that person. You know she’s quiet and locked inside herself. You know he’d benefit from reading

because you’ve read it yourself. You know it’s an easy-to-read, no-nonsense, comprehensive book.

However, there’s still a problem. You don’t want to embarrass that person. If he opened it in front of others, he wouldn’t thank you for giving it to him.

How can you give her the book, disguise what’s inside the package and make sure she opens it when she’s alone?

This is where your creative abilities come in. I’ve done my part. I wrote the book and I put the challenge to you!

Before anything else, I was shocked 😉 to discover that not everyone has seen my video introducing Social Anxiety Revealed. If you’re one of those unfortunate people, here’s the link you need to sort it: [See it, say it, sorted. Don’t mind me; I’m just learning the lingo. See below.]

***

“It’s been an awfully long time since you last wrote a blog post,” said everyone.

“I know,” I replied, “and I’m awfully sorry, but life got in the way again.”

“You haven’t been travelling again, have you?” said everyone.

“Actually, I have.” I gave a sheepish grin. “I’ve literally spent like the last six weeks in various like places in the UK.”

“Picked up the lingo, too,” said everyone.

“Just trying to blend in. I didn’t like it when two people I met in Cardiff thought I sounded foreign. I mean… well… if I don’t sound British, then what do I sound?”

Making Welsh Cakes

Making Welsh cakes in Cardiff market

“Weird?” suggested everyone.

“Yeah, but apart from that.”

“What have you been up to?” said everyone, clumsily changing the subject.

“I went geocaching around Wittenham Clump. I did belly dancing and zumba. I walked in Devon, Cambridge, the Lake District, Chess Valley and Richmond. I travelled in cars, buses, trains, planes, a bicycle and a boat.

Cycling in Devon

“I got detrained in Newark. I know I did, because the guard said so, so I don’t care about that red squiggly line that’s appeared below the word. (And no, I don’t want to change it to detained, retained or restrained, but if you annoy me any more, Spelling Checker, you may have to restrain me to prevent me from getting detained.)

“I spent five days at an Arvon retreat and have some great ideas about how to complete one of my works in progress.

Totleigh Barton

“I ate in various restaurants, including Mexican, Italian and Indian. I ate sandwiches a little too often. I ate food on planes that I didn’t particularly like. I enjoyed home cooking that I didn’t have to prepare. The most delicious thing I ate was cheesecake in a Turkish café in Chesham.

“I visited art museums and an old house. I saw a musical, two plays and a film.

“I read books, including one that I loved: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I also read from one out loud, while taking part in a book festival.

Reading

Reading from Neither Here Nor There

“I had two dogs and a cat on my lap… at different times. But most of all, I met and talked to lots of people and had a great time doing it. I hope they enjoyed my company, too.”

Swansea

“Sounds wonderful,” said everyone.

“It was!”

To all my Facebook friends with a birthday in August (17 by my count!), I wish you a wonderful day of sweet and simple pleasure.

לכל חבריי בפייסבוק עם יום הולדת באוגוסט, אני מאחלת לכם יום נפלא של הנאה מתוקה ופשוטה. א

In my youth, my August birthday was a blessing and a curse.

I enjoyed the fact that I was always on holiday from school on this special day. I was free to spend the day enjoying myself, even if there weren’t many special things to do.

But that also meant that everyone else was on holiday and not around to celebrate with me. I was often away, too, on that day.

And, with a birthday at the end of August, I was always the youngest in the class – a fact that held great significance when we were young and was not advantageous.

August Birthdays are the Best

Now, it’s all good. Summer, freedom, almost always sunshine. And the fact that I’m the youngest of all my old school friends doesn’t bother me one bit!

From this year, I’ll be sharing August with my baby: Social Anxiety Revealed, published on August 22, just three days before my birthday.

Cover

 

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