Monday, 29 September 2008

Coast love

One of the things that takes getting used to in a foreign country are the shops. It is a delight discovering new shops, of course, but every gal has her trusted favourites: the place she knows will always have the right dress or the right shoes or the best fitting suit. And those shops are the ones I haven't discovered yet here in Paris. One-off delights abound but not those perpetually uplifting places. I think we have some of the best shopping in England. Since I am in a shopping mood (I know, when is that ever not the case!) I bought this dress for my firm's Christmas party on 5 December. Coast is one of the happiest places in the world, filled with gorgeous well structured and perfectly fitting clothes. Anyone who knows me knows all about my Coast addiction!

Check Coast at (one day I might just learn how to make my links clickable!)

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Some photos from the summer

Whilst I'm in London and have access to my own computer I thought I'd add some photos from the summer. The first Autumn leaves are appearing, we are enjoying the last precious days of September sunshine, both in London and Paris, in the knowledge that winter will soon be upon us. So now is a great time to savour some of the fun times had this summer.

Here are some photos from our holiday to Morocco. We loved the people, the sensational food and how relaxing the whole experience was. Dreamy. I've also added a few of my beautiful friend, Sarah, who got married this summer. Sarah's the girl who calls the colour 'Tiffany blue' (see below). I miss her and my close London friends Kate and Lizzie, also below in a photo taken on my birthday.

Friday, 26 September 2008

In the words of fabulous Sarah: 'Tiffany Blue'

Why's the blog gone 'Tiffany blue', in the words of my wonderful friend Sarah? I'm not quite sure why I'm blogging about this as I haven't even sent this blog's link to my friends, so only about 3 people in the world would ever know this blog was anything other than Tiffany blue, but it is that colour in honour of my anniversary gift! More next week!

Off to London

I am SO happy to be going home tomorrow! Just for a weekend, and a pretty GMAT filled one at that, but I want MY bed, my clothes, my family etc. I just want to be with the people I know and love and as great as it is to practice my French, I actually can't wait to speak ENGLISH for the weekend and actually feel eloquent.

It's good timing because next weekend Marc will be here, the weekend after my best friend Kate is coming, and the one after that Mum's coming and we're going to Boston over the following weekend to visit Harvard Business School!

But, for now, in the words of the great Nina Simone 'I'm goin' back home'! Yay!

PS: Swiss Cottage is my underground station!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Harvard Business School Paris Presentation

This presentation was amazing. It made me feel I could do anything. Ok, so clealy I buy all the propaganda, but I was truly inspired.
It started with a question derived from a poem: 'what will you do with this one wild and precious life?'.
They had a panel of French alums who showed what they had done since graduation from HBS. They were truly genereous with their time and answered a myriad of very interesting questions from potential applicants of all ages. The video introduced you to faculty and the case method, and after the presentation I met 3 very cool people in very different industries: a Harvard grad working for a science-art start-up, a Chinese girl living in Paris and working as an auditor and a man who literally does rocket science! The four of us went to dinner and had a great time. The panel spoke about the amazing people you meet at HBS and if tonight was a snapshot of that then I can only imagine.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

This weekend....

This was my first weekend alone in Paris. I have to admit that when I first got here a few weeks ago I had twinges of loneliness but I'm now loving the space and time that comes with living alone.

Marc and I are coming up to our 3 year anniversary, and I'm so looking forward to it. I went out on Saturday and looked for a gift for him. I knew what I wanted to buy but I needed to find it, and I am so satisfied with what I found. I won't say what it is or post a picture because he reads this sometimes! I so hope he likes it!

Then I stumbled upon a very special hat shop called Grevi. It sells gorgeous handmade hats from Florence. I adore hats and have quite a collection, and I had to indulge. I vow to post a hat post sometime soon so that I can show you my new acquisitions! It was so special shopping at Grevi - the shop was so well laid out and the sales lady was so knowleageable and let me try on lots of hats until I found the right one. I love great shopping experiences like that. Paris has an abundance of stunning boutiques and I'll have to watch my purse strings.

One frustration has been my inability to post photos from my camera. I'm using a work laptop and I just don't think it has the right programme. Such a bummer.

On Saturday night I met my wonderful friend Anna. Anna and I first met when we came up for interview at Oxford. We clicked straight away - she is such a special and precious person. Unfortunately we lost touch for a few years - we both spent our junior year abroad here in Paris at different times, so when I graduated she was still in Paris. She's here completing her PhD at Cambridge. What a smart and humble person! We celebrated her birthday with all her friends and her great fiance, Charles, in a lovely bar in Montmartre (where they filmed Amelie!). It's so great that we both happen to be in Paris at the same time and I am so excited to spend more time with her! Yay!

Today, Sunday, I've had my head stuck in GMAT books. I haven't been as productive in a very long time, so I'm pleased. Tomorrow is the Harvard Info Session here in Paris. I'm so excited to go, but I know I'll like what I hear and that even with a great GMAT score (which with my lacking maths skills is still very very uncertain) Harvard would be a reach for me. Still, I'm looking forward to being inspired and hopefully encouraged tomorrow. I'll report back with my impressions.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Nigella’s adapted Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake

I love love love baking. It represents free time and is so soul-enhancing to me. There are few better smells in the world than that of freshly baked cake wafting through the house.
In celebration of the weekend, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favourite recipes. Why do I love it so much? The fluffiness, the tangy lemon with the comforting sponge… most of all though, I love it because it is easy and because I always have these ingredients in the house. This means that a lovely treat is always around the corner.
PS: it may look boring but you won't believe how good it is.
(the recipe has been adapted from Nigella Lawson’s book ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess)

125g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk

Syrup: Lemon juice (from real lemons!) and icing sugar
23 x 13 x 7 cm non stick loaf tin, preheat the oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4.


•Mix the butter and sugar
•Add the flour and salt, folding in gently but thoroughly
•Add the milk, mix in
•Spoon into loaf tin and put cake in oven for 45 mins, or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean
•While it's cooking, dissolve the icing sugar in the lemon juice, over a low heat. I haven’t given precise amounts here because people like the syrup more sweet or more sour etc. I like it quite sour and I like a LOT of it all over the cake. The only guideline here is that it should be very runny.
•As soon as you take the cake out, puncture holes all over the top and pour the syrup on to let it soak in. Make sure there are lots of holes in the top so it doesn't all go down the sides.
•Wait until it's completely cold to take it out of the tin.
•I like to sprinkle multi-coloured ‘hundreds and thousands’ to make the cake dainty.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Lily the Mini

Ok, I know it's silly. Very very silly. But my car has a name and it is Lily.

I love walking in Paris, I love the fact that everyone takes the metro, that nobody drives, that is is such an accessible city for pedestrians.

And yet I miss my lovely car. I don't even know what I'd do with a car in Paris. But isn't there something about just driving off - a true sense of freedom? I recently bought a satellite navigation system and I'm in love. When Ry, a close friend, was in London I drove us to a stately home (the one where they filmed Pride and Prejudice) we were able to just drive through ancient winding roads in Buckinghamshire, fearless and bewitched by the history and beauty of our surroundings. We saw stunning 18th century houses, even older cottages and of course rolling English countryside. It was sublime and I'll try and post photos. The SatNav was there to guide us, allowing us to go where we pleased, safe in the knowledge that it would eventually take us back to the main road. It was a truly lovely day. Here's a picture of Lily.

Tarte Tatin chez Ladurée

So this week, like so many others, I have eaten some truly magnificent cakes!

It all started when Marc came to stay and we went to the cake mecca that is Ladurée. If anyone hasn't heard of this wondrous place they should take a look at the 'merveilles' produced by clicking on the title of this post.
Not only is the food sumputuously magnificent, but everything comes beautifully wrapped in exquisite 18th Century inspired boxes and paper.

Marc ordered a Tarte Tatin, half of which I kindly devoured. Now, Tarte Tatin just isn't a dessert I would order. When dessert's on offer I like chocolate, and when I go for fruity desserts (which I also love) I opt for Tarte au Citron or something involving rhubarb or berries. Apples bore me. But this Tarte Tatin was something else entirely. Buttery, caramelized but not so much that it was bitter in the slightest. The consistency was good - it held together well and and had some texture yet the apples were soft. I loved the rich buttery ever so salty base and the melting apple.... easily the best Tarte Tatin I have ever eaten and enough to make me a convert! I wish you could taste it!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Lehman Brothers and the news - adult innocence?

I felt I just had to write about my reaction to the closing of Lehman Brothers, both because of my own emotions and out of solidarity for those people - my neighbours in Canary Wharf, London's finance district - who will not be going to work tomorrow. Lehman Brothers has an impressive building close to that of my law firm. It is hard to believe that behind the glittering entrance and the smart letterhead lay an organisation that was crumbling to the ground. Today as I reviewed a variety of bank mandates it was hard to belive that so many of the big names are now out of the game.

I grew up with these names, it was inconceivable to me that they could ever disappear. We have lost our innocence about certain things by the time we are adults. We know that not all marriages end in 'happily ever after', that people get ill, that Father Christmas does not exist etc. But what about our innocence about the stability of the world we live in, of the names we grew up with? The ones we dreamed of working for one day?

The great depression, huge organisations falling from one day to the next, people walking out of offices with boxes, widespead mistrust of the banking system - to me all that is the stuff of history books, not of the world I live in. I am shocked to the core by this news.

There are lessons to be learned - not only for banks and business leaders - but also for everyday people I think. The recent news shows me how vigilant one must be. How grateful we should be for our jobs, how important it is never to take anything for granted, even when you are a big player. It reminds me that hard times could be just around the corner. That sobering reality is so very easy to forget. Perhaps the news also signals opportunity for new entrants to the market at some point. For now though, my wish is that those people left jobless today will find something else very very soon.

The beginning...

Welcome to my blog!

Why have I decided to note the details of an ordinary life on here, you might ask. I have often heard the opinion that bloggers are merely self important nobodies, but I wholeheartedly disagree. I have loved reading other people's blogs, and it's never been because they lead an extraordinary life. Rather, it is because I admire something in them and because they lead a good life.

Now is not a time to commence a treatise on the merits of blogging but I can talk about my personal reasons for wanting to blog, which are the following:

1. I am living some interesting experiences right now and look forward to having a platform from which to anayse and simply document them. For example, I have been sent on secondment to a French company for 6 months and am living very close to the Eiffel Tower. I am enjoying rediscovering Paris and hope to introduce you to some of my special finds;

2. I would like to document my journey to an MBA - I will soon be taking the GMAT and thought that someone out there might like to follow my journey;

3. I would really like to have an incentive to take more photos - I am awful for not bothering enough with this even though I love photos and memories;

4. Keeping a blog can be a creative opportunity. I love crafts etc, but I know not the slightest thing about blogs and graphics and things. What better time to learn than the present?; and

5. I'd like to keep tab of so many things: recipes, special places I've visited, books I've enjoyed etc.

Having made this list I'm now thrilled to have started my very own blog!