A casual elegance [305]

Greetings from Paris...

On the road again. Or at least the rails.


Looks like I’m officially out of early retirement. At least that’s what the last year or so has felt like. I’m certainly happy to be travelling again. Even if our imaginary borders come with a little more friction.

I’ve lost count of how many times someone has said “Welcome to Paris!” I’ve started to add “…it’s a pleasure to be here” to my “Thankyou!” And it is.

I’m here helping to deliver the Advanced Masters in digital strategy at Grenoble Ecole de Management. There are not many photos of me at work because I haven’t asked anyone and over here people seem to respect your privacy a little bit more.

Yesterday, sleep deprived and not feeling my best I delivered an all day workshop and really enjoyed it. I’m in Paris at the invitation of James Barisic. In the podcast I called it the second best course of it’s kind in Paris but it’s apparently the second most popular. Not sure if that’s quite the same thing but I can see that the class he has assembled are clearly destined for great things. Well at least 95% of them are. There are two at the back that could really do with paying attention a little more.

After the class I popped to a shop and bought bread, wine, cheese and a tomato before making my way back to the hotel.

It was so good. Too good. Over the next few hours i’d had my fill and some, and then went to get lost in the city.

I logged the location of the hotel in the app Crows Flight before heading out. That way I could walk without thinking and when I felt like I needed to return, an arrow would take me back.

Paris is a city deeper than I can fathom. But I’m having fun trying.


Unsolved mysteries of Quantum Leap with Donald P Bellisario.

There have been many projects where children have been given cameras to document their families, surroundings and life. In this instance it’s refugee children in Turkey. I’ll never tire to see kids thrive as they learn (in this case) analogue photography. What a wonderful way to insert a little magic into a child’s life.

But then I would say that. I have loaded two of my analogue cameras with film and really slowed things down.

Of course I totally forgot to bring one of the cameras here.


I recently finished the book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I normally read thinner lesser involved fiction. Something to help me escape for a little while. But this book, a gift from a friend entrapped me. Beautifully written it held me captive and took me places. It’s set before, during, and after World War II when Jewish cousins Kavalier and Clay get into a fledgling comics industry and become big names as it reaches a golden age.

The narratives in this book flow across a number of planes. Well researched historical fiction, literary exploration of subcultures, what it means to escape, plus romance to name a few.

I got lost in the sometimes lavish prose but miss it now it’s gone. I wanted to get to the end but at the same time didn’t want it to finish.

But it did. And I sighed pleased there was a happy-ish ending.

Thankfully I got to get into another part of Chabon’s universe with an offshoot series of six comics.

This series is Brian K. Vaughan’s love letter to his chosen medium and a fitting tribute to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The comics follow three characters as they try to break into the comic book industry and end up with a publication so popular the corporate giants want to steal it.

Sometimes i’d rather there was no international mobile data allowance. That it was just too cost prohibitive to have a mobile phone abroad.

What would travel look like then? Probably how it used to.

Adventure happens when we step out of our comfort zone and that includes the bubbles we carry around us. Our constant always-on connection to home, friends and family.

How can you possibly know what it’s like to be there when your attention spans an umbilical cord to elsewhere.

Removing the unlimited digital assistance from handheld devices does not leave you on your own. It forces you to reach out to those around you.

The best experiences I had on my recent bike ride came from interacting with people I was dependent on.

To be immersed you need to interact with your environment at an analog level. To have your life intersect with others in your immediate surroundings.

That’s the way to travel.


A couple of podcasts I listened to this week were this examination by 99pi of why English spelling and pronunciation are so weird and this Guardian long read about a lone Palestinian aid worker falsely accused of the biggest aid money heist in history.


These packs of Tilda rice are an affordable and convenient way to pack camping grub.

Edible cold or easy to heat in a pan there are a cheap meal at a quid (£1) a pack. don’t worry, I didn’t bring any to Paris.

A pudding from home. Pancakes can be a healthy pudding if you keep them small ;-)

A pudding from a cafe here in Paris. Creme Brûlée with Nutella. Tasted amazing. The addition of Nutella was just enough of a hint not to be weird.

Like discovering a whole new pudding. I wish I could remember my face when I first tasted cheesecake. My fave… Something like this perhaps…


I now have a morse key.

I have even started to learn morse code aka CW. It’s much more involved that I previously thought it would be and it more than just learning another language. Take these abbreviations for starters.



Thanks for reading.

I’m here in Paris for a couple more days. Next week I have meetings that might lead to more interesting things.

I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.” ~ Ernest Hemingway


See you out there.