London half filled

Last Monday, Hubbie and I went to a clinic on Fleet Street for flu jab. Since the jab reputed to reduce the risk of serious hospitalisation from corona virus, it was a no-brainer decision for us.

From a double decker’s window toward Aldrich…

It was still a few days shy of the second lockdown but the city looked like starting to wind down already. The traffic was light and the streets were empty.

‘Let’s have lunch at Shake Shack!’ We walked towards Covent Garden along Drury Lane.

Surprisingly, building works along the street were busy and somehow furious while theatres and restaurants were deathly still. We wondered what kind of landscape would emerge after this COVID-19 saga.

QR codes filled world is a pain!

At Shake Shack, we were told to scan a QR code in order to pay for our food and drink. However, the procedure didn’t work despite we each tried using our iPhones more than five times. In the end, Hubbie donned a face mask went to the inside of the restaurant and placed the order.

Yay, my burger & chips!

During the first lockdown, Shake Shack was shut down completely – even delivery service, and as a result, we were deprived of our small weekend joy (SS burgers & fries with Netflix) for nearly six months. I hope they will keep going with their takeaway service this time around.

Giant mistletoes over our heads…

We found it so ironic that no one would be allowed to kiss under those mistletoes this Christmas unless you were wearing a face mask. Why on earth did they choose mistletoes as this year’s display? Being ironic?…

The clinic was a stone’s throw from High Court of Justice…

A few tv crews were setting up cameras at a traffic island in front of the high court’s entrance and we wondered if it was anything to do with Johnny Depp’s lost libel case.

I must say that the clinic was the busiest place in London! People filed in every few minutes for the jab and a woman at the reception looked overwhelmed by the surge.

I felt relieved that we both managed to receive the jabs before the lockdown. Two weeks ago, when I booked our appointment, I had no idea that the second lockdown would start from the 5th November. The clinic may stay open for emergency but I can’t imagine they open for routine appointments such as vaccination.

After the clinic, we walked along Chancery Lane towards Grey’s Inn Road & Clerkenwell Road junction.

‘Wow, there are so many buildings and premises related to the legal professions here!’ I was excited to find a few men’s clothings shops, like Jermyn Street’s, but a barrister’s wig and a gown in their window display.

This is what I brought home. A Christmas card and a musical box for my mom…

I bought them from Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden. They stock fabulous 3-D cards and also pretty gifts for all ages. The shop floor was reduced to half and most of the items were behind the counter but the display was dense and it was lovely to be surrounded by beautiful and cheerful objects! The owner remembered me because he was a big fan of Bella and we chatted about our experiences during the first lockdown. We both agreed that the past six months were just a blur, despite many local and global crises. It was like endurance swimming without a goal in sight, we mulled…

Dinner at Lyon

What an extraordinary period we are experiencing! The BLM movement which is happening globally is, for me, a very positive event and I love it to continue growing until racial discrimination is eradicated. Yes, we are still in amidst of the coronavirus crisis. But something as important as this can’t wait because it will be inconvenient for someone else. The tide is taking over all of us…

Now, let’s go back to one evening in Lyon two years ago.

In the past, I visited more than a few largish French cities such as Rennes, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, and they never failed to impress me. Unlike their largest counterpart, Paris, their streets were litter-less and beautifully maintained, and I loved their relaxed atmosphere. And if I were pressed to choose one French city I found the most charming, my answer would have to be Avignon. The city was packed with charm – their pedestrian friendly streets, leafy squares with cafes and restaurants, private boutiques with unique offerings, etc. I loved the place because they had everything I expected from a historic French city in one handy package.

A mellow early evening in Lyon

Having said that, I still recall good vibes which I picked in the late afternoon air of Lyon’s city centre. Lively but civilised, sophisticated yet not snobby, I liked the place very much.

‘So what do you fancy for dinner, mum?’ I asked her as we left our hotel room. ‘Anything. I don’t mind as long as it is not too herby or spicy.’, came her usual reply. ‘Well, it’s very helpful, mum.‘, I sighed.

Can I tell you how my mom can be a real pain when it comes to food? she has so many foods she dislikes, and choosing a restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be very tricky. Her most pet hate is Asian herbs and spices in general therefore Thai or Vietnamese or Indonesian are big no-no. With her, there won’t be any culinary adventure. How sad…

‘Let’s check out rue Mercière. It looks like there are lots of restaurants, according to Google!’

The street was lined with many eateries and some restaurants’ alfresco dining areas were already snapped up by early diners.

Too many places to choose from!

Mum started to say that she wanted Moules-Frites with beer and we sat for a while at one of the outdoor tables of A Belgium restaurant. However, they seemed to be not quite open for business yet and we didn’t see much activities in the inside of the eatery. After sitting around 15 minutes, we gave up and started looking for somewhere else.

‘How about Italian, mum?’ We found anItalian bar/restaurant on rue Thomassin which looked inviting.

Lively but not too raucous…

We were swiftly ushered to a table next the open window by a smiley staff and we eagerly ordered well-earned cold beer…

Ahhh, we missed you!

For dinner, we opted for a platter of antipasto and a plate of multigrain and roasted vegetable salad…

Voilà! Bon appétit 🙂

Mum seemed to enjoy her beer and food. ‘Italian is the safest bet if we are not sure what to eat.’, she smiled as she munched on.

After dinner, we made a detour to a mini supermarket before heading back to a hotel.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière in the distance

‘Look at these apples!‘

We would have bought a couple of them if the season was right…

Lyon, oh Lyon…

The lockdown has entered its second week and we are coping OK so far. We have established a kind of routine and started to feel less stressed about the new normal. Having said that, having too much time on our hands isn’t that great, is it?

Bella is sad about having to stay indoor…

During the time like this, I should be diving into updating my blog. However, I end up fiddling with my iPhone, checking Facebook, Instagram, BBC app, etc… instead. I must be more disciplined and productive.

So here we go. I’m gonna recount our time in Lyon!

Mmm…, I have only myself to blame but the memories of our stay in Lyon are rather hazy and patchy. For nearly two years, they have been left alone in my head and now I find them fading fast like vintage photographs!

A hotel I booked at Lyon was a rather strange one. I can’t recall how I got hold a key to our room – maybe it was through an instruction via Booking.com – we had to let ourselves in and find the room.

Staircase was rather sweep…
The decor was eclectic and fun!

Our room was simple but pleasantly decorated and had a high ceiling and a tall window.

Airy and inviting

Our window was filled by the view of a local church. Would a church bell wake us up the next morning, we wondered.

Beautiful, huh?

After sorting out our luggage, we decided to visit another Monoprix on Rue de la République for mum’s favourite top.

I wished if we were light travellers!

‘Shall we have some lunch here?’ We saw a vegetarian cafeteria around the corner and decided to grab late lunch.

Yummy!

We ordered two lasagnes, one with mixed beans and another one with courgette.

After lunch, we strolled towards the Monoprix…

Early summer in Lyon…

It was Saturday afternoon so the streets were busy with locals and tourists.

The style of the buildings reminded me the one in Paris…

Ornate and elegant…
A tram!

The video reminds me how precious our “ordinary everyday” is. Under this COVID-19 lockdown, we can’t do anything normal, such as sauntering in town, meeting up with friends or going out for drink. Streets are deserted and filled with the fear of virus. How sad is that!

The street then was filled with pedestrians…

The sun was shining…
Balloons!

We looked for mum’s top at the Monoprix but it was sold out. She was disappointed but I consoled her that we would try another store if we come across it.

‘Let’s catch a metro from here!’

On y va!

The ride would be only one stop to Hôtel de Ville but I wanted to reduce the burden on mum’s knee…

Pom’Alpes

As I promised yesterday, I have restarted a chronicle of my French escapade with my mom.

After leaving behind the dynamic backdrop of Sisteron, we headed to our next destination, Lyon, which was about 260km away.

As you can see from the satellite map, the area we drove through was very close to French Alps and the landscape was mainly occupied by forests and boulders.

Amazing, huh?
I wished if I knew more about geology…

At Laragne-Montéglin, we came across this…

Winking apple!

The area was famous for their delicious apples – Vita-Pom, Saint Pétrus and Altess. Mum and I were especially cheered by the apple because our hometown, Nagano, was also famous for being one of the largest producers of the fruit too. ‘I would have love to taste their apples if the season was right!’, mum uttered.

We also agreed their apple tree blossoming must have been a beautiful sight to behold.

Beautiful Parc National des Écrins. Hope to see you again!

At Monestier-de-Clermont, we took A51 and sped towards Lyon…

Sweet remedy

Are you thinking what I am thinking? Longing for the freedom? Feeling like your wings have been clipped? It is only my first day of the lockdown and I am already suffering from boredom and helplessness. How pathetic is that?

I urged Hubbie to check on our local corner shop and to shop some treats if they were open.

Sweet remedy…

He brought back a few packets of baked treats, a pint of milk and a pack of eggs. Well done, you! At a time like this, a small treat like jam round with tea helps us enormously.

Needless to say it but we intend to eat as healthily as possible during the lockdown. However, having some sweet treats once a day will cheer us up and therefore it will help us to keep our morale high.

Oh, how I long for a day I can stroll in to a bakery and have a pastry with latte without care in the world…

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