A hot sunny day in London found me squeezing into my seat on the Eurostar, bound for a weekend in Paris. The seats have definitely got smaller I thought as I tried to find somewhere to put my bags and various paraphernalia, including a pair of trousers I’d washed that weren’t quite dry and needed hanging up.
I explained my predicament to the French lady sitting beside me and how embarrassed I was about it. ‘Oh, but pas de problem’ she replied, ‘How funny!’
The weather had caused no end of problems for my weekend packing. What to bring? Pumps? Sandals? Boots? Shorts? Jeans? Never jeans in Paris, they just don’t cut the mustard. Nor do sneakers.
I looked at my ‘travelling companion’. Silk scarf, check. Fashionable jacket and skirt, check. Tidy hair, check. Matching bag and shoes? Well, not quite. The bag was yellow, the shoes navy. Ah, but I had noticed this before in France, the bag doesn’t always have to match; the look is effortless chic regardless.
I wiped the crisp crumbs from down my front hurriedly and surreptitiously, hoping she didn’t notice. No chance; she was gripped by her Blackberry as were the two gentlemen across the aisle from us and indeed many of the Thursday night crowd aboard the Eurostar – heads down, tapping away merrily.
‘Would you like to read my Grazia?’ she said suddenly, passing it to me. ‘How kind!’ I exclaimed, ‘I’d love to’ noticing it was the French version. How very appropriate. She opened some Pringles: ‘Please, help yourself’. I thanked her and remarked how the first thing I did when staying in a hotel room on business was to open the minibar and eat a tub of Pringles: ‘Every time, I do that’. ‘Eet’s okay, sometimes you don’t have family there, you are away from home, so, you do it. Eet’s like a comfort’.
We discussed the fine weather and I remarked how difficult it was to know what to wear. She just looked at me and smiled politely. Clearly not a problem she ever had.
I felt a trip to the bar was de rigeur and I applied lipgloss.
A few jovial types stood by the round tall tables, I put my mint tea on the counter top by the window and looked out at flat French countryside dotted with Cypress trees and the golden light of the sun going down. ‘Please come and join us’ I heard a man say and looked around to see him take my tea and put it on the table he was sharing with a younger gentleman.
The younger – French – man studied Water Management. The older man was Swiss and told me he lived in hotels across the world. We chatted away animatedly, all excited to be heading to Paris. ‘What astrological sign are you?’ said Mr Swiss. ‘Scorpio’ I replied. ‘Me too!’ said Water Management student. ‘That makes three of us’ said Mr Swiss as we all high fived. The 2nd, 6th and 15th November. ‘You know, I think we all look a little bit alike’. ‘Hmm, I’m not sure about that’ I replied, ‘But, there is something – definitely something’.
The train started to pull into Paris and we said our goodbyes. I headed back to my seat to pick up my things followed by Mr S: ‘I never knew it was so fast now – two and half hours? That’s definitely quicker than before’ I stated. ‘Maybe, maybe not’ Mr S said, ‘When you’re in good company, time flies’.