Sorry for the long silence. We are back after an amazing trip to England and France. I absolutely loved it. OK so it rained most of the time, but on Sunday we were in Herefordshire and it was the MOST glorious day. On a sunny day there is nowhere as beautiful as the English countryside. There is just nowhere you would rather be. The rolling green hills, the flowers, blue sky, white clouds. Add to that a long lunch in the garden with friends and you are in heaven. And actually London and Paris, even in the rain, are lovely cities.
We saw lots of friends which was really great, it is amazing how 20 years on my old university friends seem just the same and we are all just as close. Apart from seeing them I spent most of my time in M & S marvelling at the prices and the gorgeous clothes, underwear, creams and food there. I think I could live in M & S and only leave to buy books now and again.
Whatever else, the whole trip made me feel very strongly that I belong in Europe. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I suppose bad in the sense that I am unlikely to live there for the next few years, but also good because at least I know where I belong. Although Rupert and I disagree over the Paris versus London location. I favour London, he wants to live in Paris. However, as long as I can take the Eurostar to my friends and M & S every month I may be persuaded.
Meanwhile back home (for the moment) it was Olivia’s 10th birthday yesterday. She and I went for a manicure together which was great fun. She kept asking the poor manicurist what she was doing every other minute. Leo was very impressed with his sister’s advanced age and assumed she would have changed overnight.
“So Barbie,” he asked (he has called her Barbie since he was a baby). “Don’t your shoes fit you now?”
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009
I know just how you feel about the Europe thing. I’ve lived in Canada for almost 5 years (my god, where did that time go!) and although I have enjoyed it, as soon as I step onto European soil I feel more confident in my step and somehow very at home. Being in North America has been great – don’t get me wrong – we have experianced things we never would have in England, know in the back of my mind where I belong. We plan to head back one day, but not before we’ve seen a bit more of life this side of the pond first! Wishing you all luck – and thanks for a great blog, I do love all your observations!
So agree with you (and Natalie). I never felt so European as when I lived in the States for a while and when visiting my brother in Canada. North America is a great experience and there are so many positives about life there, but I know that I belong in Europe.
Isn’t it interesting that we have a need to identify where we belong – even if we aren’t there? It gives some comfort, I think, and the base from which we can explore the world.
I agree with Rupert – Paris over London!
Oh dear, as lovely as it is – especially in the summer when Europe and the Gulf do not compare favourably – I know from bitter experience that it can be dangerous nipping home for even a few days. We moved here from Paris twenty years ago swapping our apartment in a block built by Haussman in the 8th arrondissement for a simple modern villa in a sandpit in Jumeirah. And although life in Dubai was a far, far nicer experience then than it is today, I wept every evening for weeks for everything we’d left behind.
But then slowly the country grew on me, it was people that made it at first – friends are the first essential wherever you live in the world – people who encouraged us not to rush Home at every opportunity but to explore and enjoy all the extraordinary destinations on our doorstep. So for almost three years, we didn’t set foot in Europe once preferring instead to head for the myriad of marvelous places within a far shorter flight of here: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan (especially Jordan), Egypt, Oman (heaven!) and simply in-cred-ible India. Don’t be put off at the prospect of travelling to any of these countries (especially India) with small children in tow, Gulf expat kids are incredibly resilient and having them along opens more doors than you can possibly imagine. Alternatively, if you just want to hit the shops on a long weekend with girlfriends, Helena, head first for Mumbai (take at least 2 empty suitcases with you) or maybe Beirut, even. Apart from the weather in the winter, the desert and the Hajar mountains, the cosmopolitan atmosphere and the easy availability of help in the home, being able to take weekend breaks in destinations that for friends at home are seriously long-haul, is one of the best aspects of living in the Emirates. View your time here as being an invaluable opportunity to see so much more of the world for you’ll always have Paris & London & Milan or wherever…
those four short years i spent in London/England, solidified two things in my mind. First that the friends i made are lifelong depend on for anything friends that are always the same and second that there is nowhere else in the world that i can think i would rather end up. A country house and a pub in walking distance. Sun or not nowhere else for me
How does Tony feel about that plan? I agree with you, heavenly England any time…
Sorry , forgot to mention the best best part of my plan is living by the pub by MYSELF>>>>
HA HA HA
No will need someone to carry me home at night
Hello Helena. I’ve followed your blog for a while and seeing that your daughter has just hit 10 made me think I would comment for the first time…..purely to say that as you (and therefore no doubt she too) enjoy books please recommend that Olivia reads the book “Marianne’s Dreams” about a little girl who is 10. I just found it again after losing it for decades and loved it all over again – it was certainly my favourite book as a little girl who had just gone into double figures! And I will finally put your book on my Amazon list too. Carry on the great writing and if you’re ever down this way I hope we may tempt you to visit our restaurant.