The week started with an opp shop. We stumbled upon it in the heat of midday, it could have been a mirage – a huge warehouse filled with rack upon rack of cool clothes with a scattering of cardboard signs reading 3 Euro. My clothes’ve been in need of a bit of replacement for a while now – with no sewing machine, nor space to set one up, slowly parting seams and fraying hems have remained un-mended. So, obviously it was great timing to stumble upon this shop.
One night we had dinner at a very cute cafe near Bastille – a large, rambling place filled with paraphernalia collected over many years. A stuffed rhino head (hopefully it was fibreglass) over the urinal, a python skin spread amongst the Turkish rugs, potted ferns everywhere and far too many fire extinguishers, slowly spinning ceiling fans and a softly purring tortoise shell cat. Red leather couches and mahogany – the place has the vague feel of having been transported from Louisiana. I ate my first steak tartare, a not-altogether unpleasant taste – I guess anything with capers is a winner.
Another night a delicious Vietnamese cafe (neither of us seems to’ve felt much like cooking this week). A small place down a little street, its windows sporting little pots of ivy and roses, the scent of noodles and spices grabs you before you enter and changes all your dinner plans. So good. The waiter a smiling, silver-haired Frenchman in a crisp white robe. He speaks slowly and we can understand. Beside us an ancient woman, her hair dyed a violent orange. She is bent double over her pho but when the waiter’s wife, the chef, comes out to say hello to this regular, we realise the little old lady is simply bent double. Full stop. She has a warm smile and wishes us ‘bon appetite’ as she shuffles past. It feels a little bit like a slice of colonial history, still breathing.
The food is delicious. A pho so heavily laden with fresh basil and mint that it looks like the harvest from a small village garden, the broth strong with the scent of anise. Ah, better than raw mince I think.
Much of the city is on holiday and it seems quiet and more peaceful here. But that could just be that we’ve not been out much – apart from some brief exceptions, the week has been spent painting. I’ve got a small, tentative exhibition scheduled for a couple of weeks time and, given that I’ve been working on those adventure game backgrounds, I’ve got to do one painting a day for the next 9-10 days. My arm is sore, but four days in and four paintings done. It’s a fun exercise, a bit of a challenge