Ghost train...

Insular realization.

Living nowadays in London with the Eurotunnel makes you sometimes forget that Great Britain is actually an island... French in London, a fellow citizen and blogger based in London - as it says on the tin, posted recently an article (in French sorry) about his own realization of this insular status: after the early September blaze led to condemn one of the two chunnels, everyone was trying to find alternative ways to leave or come to London and the only "viable" alternative to the overbooked flights were good old boats.

Before the Chunnel, you indeed had to enjoy the ferries ad nauseam (literally). 5-6 hours with on one side red-burnt English tourists returning from their week off on the French Riviera and indulging their greasy chips; and on the other side buses of drunk French pupils sizing the opportunity of a week away from their parents to experiment the impact of cheap beer on their bowels... Lovely. But what great memories! Engraved in your mind - and your nostrils- forever.

Now with the Eurostar you are a little more than 2h away from Paris, which means that you could even commute faster than some people actually in Paris...

All by myself.

The train is definitely a great alternative to travel to mainland Europe. Faster than the ferry, greener than planes (I must admit less green than the fellows bending overboard on ferries, but still not bad), extremely convenient as it picks you downtown and drops you downtown... Nothing to complain about, unless you end up in one of those coaches where you have to share your compartment with hords of toddlers and talkative Chinese tourists crossing the Channel to complete their round-Europe-in-32-hour tour.

But let's be fair, most of the time you can easily screen out these noisy parasits and enjoy a moment of relaxation. You just need to forget that the reason why your Blackberry is no longer synching is because a sea and some tons of rocks are hanging above your head.

Another option is to travel during these awkward times when the traffic is partially interupted... Most of the people decide to look for alternative routes (some even opt for a pilgrimage on a Ferry), which means that when you are lucky to come onboard the yellow and black train, you can sometime enjoy the following view:

I came back from Paris on Tuesday 16th September evening and had to share the whole carriage with noone but myself. These two hours might have been quite enjoyable as a result. But in all honesty, I am some kind of a social animal, and I almost came to miss the toddler who starts crying in Gare du Nord and finaly fall asleep in St Pancras. Almost.


Eat your Japanese carrots, Boy!

Your plate is your future.

When you are young and reluctant to eat what's in your plate, your parents always come back to you with some absurd rationals on why you should tuck in. They try to find in your plate some omens of your favourable future, just like Greeks were looking at the inners of a sacrificied animal for good auspices...

And the worst thing is that candid and credulous as a child can be, they tend to believe it all. Interestingly enough we even have a colloqual expression in French for "falling for a story": we say that someone "à gober l'histoire", literally "has swallowed the story".

The kind of lies or popular culinary legends argue that if you "Eat your soup and you will grow tall and strong", if you "Eat your spinach and you will be strong like Popeye"... And when it comes to carrots, well, there are two options:
  • first for naughty children : "eat your carrots, they'll make you kind and polite"
  • Alternatively, for organic and nutriceuticals friendly-parents: "eat your carrots, they'll make your bum skin soft and rosy"

Japanese loneliness.

These children stories came back to my mind when eating in a Japanese restaurant (to prepare myself for my upcoming trip to the country of the Rising Sun), I faced this bottle of still water. Now, I don't read ideograms, but I thought the imagery was quite explicit... It seemed that by hydrating myself I would improve the tonus of my bum. After all, we are made of more than 60% of water so that would make sense. And is the last ideogram just pointing at the areas where the benefits will be the most obvious???

As I said I am about to leave for a three-week journey in Japan, and I had a sudden flashback at Bill Murray in Lost in Translation when living this "experience". I will soon be the one hanging desperately around in Shibuya... Better go to my fridge and grab my last bunch of carrots to remain kind and polite during my whole stay.