I've arrived back in London and despite spending half the time panicking what-am-I-doing-with-my-life (please tell me I am not the only one) I have also spent a lot of time searching for the best pastry shops and bakeries in town, so thats great fun! Not just for me but for anyone who reads this blog.
Just over a year ago, I wrote a blog post called "Finding the Masters." It was a blog post about how at that stage in my life I needed to find people who would essentially teach me what I needed to know.
It turns out that the chapter I'm at in the book I'm reading is titled "L'eclair au Chocolat" and I am not sure if it was entirely coincidental that I walked into a deli and coffee shop who are proud to promote themselves as being elected "the best chocolate eclair in Paris 2015."
My father was in Paris a few weeks ago, and I am only now putting up pictures of our beautiful tea-time at the Plaza Athenee, where I work as a pastry chef when I "want to work"- not my words...!!
I've faced my fears.
I've come back to Venice after a year. I was so nervous about coming back, worried that I wouldn't be able to accept the fact that I had ever left for good. I often returned, hoping that that way of life could be picked up as easily as it was at the beginning. But then last year broke away a large bond with Venice and I haven't been able to face her until now.
But I'm okay. Last year when I was leaving, every street made me nostalgic and churned my stomach up into a sick feeling of sadness and regret of the fact that I wouldn't live here and Venice wasn't right for me. You told me I didn't belong here right now. You said "darling, Venice is a place to go but not a place to be." I refused to listen to you and couldn't accept the fact that perhaps you were right.
But now I walk down the streets with a sense of awe and amazement, admiring how the green water reflects the buildings in an incredible way, how that palace is even more beautiful then ever, how those musicians seem even more talented and your glass of wine still only costs 1 euro.
You told me Venice is a fish, however I see Venice as a huge rich dark chocolate cake. If you had never tried chocolate in your life you would never miss it, but since you know the sweet richness of it you always crave it. So you have a slice and it's amazing. Your spoon slides neatly into the first mouthful and the inside of your cheeks tingle and make you smile. Once you finished the first slice you want more. So you have another slice and it's still delicious. But then you start eating it all with a spoon and you can't stop. So you keep going until all the cake is finished. You feel sick. You hate the cake and you hate yourself for eating it. If you ate the huge chocolate cake every day you'd be ill and you'd feel terrible. In order to really appreciate it's goodness, you need to have it once in a while and then leave it until you crave it again.
When you were my age, you sang a song called "A place to go". I was thinking about that song today and realised that you must have felt the same way as I do now. You were searching for it too, that place "where you'll be free". Have you found it yet?
I think I've found my place to go. A place out of this mad world. A place where people aren't elbowing you out of the way but instead inviting you to walk beside them. A place where you can be totally at peace. A place to go but not to be.
How good do I feel to finally accept this.
You singing "A place to go"
"We do NOT tolerate lateness at this school." Warned the director.
Do you remember your first day at school? Your parents waving you goodbye by the gates as your mum called, "Don't forget to eat your sandwich!" and your dad smiled "There's my brave girl."
Well, it was like that for me today. Except without the parents or the sandwich.
Tomorrow I've got Art in the morning and Science in the afternoon. And the day after I have English in the morning and Technology in the afternoon. And you know what? I have never been so excited to start school. Because despite my form teacher telling us that we all need to behave ourselves and cooperate with one another, I can't wait to bring my pencils in to school for the first drawing lesson.
Let me clarify: One of the criteria of the patisserie diploma is that our "entremet" (frozen dessert) is perfectly decorated for the judges. So for this, we will be having art classes.
In order to understand emulsion and what happens to cream at such a temperature and why, we will have "applied science". We're also having health and safety lessons and law and economics for business.
I told my teacher today that there was no need for me to have English lessons. I am English. She looked at me and told me in her thick French accent: "Oui, mais, Yoo maye weesh to sweetch to anozzer class, however I will bee organizeeng many outeengs and trips, visiteeng Michelak's patisserie and maybee wee weell get a chance meet him." I stopped, gobsmacked. I LOVE SCHOOL TRIPS. And Michalak? HE IS THE PATISSERIE SEX-GOD OF FRANCE.
I was also told that we will get a chance to compete in competitions, such as "the best apprentice." And WHO DOESN'T LOVE A COMPETITION.
Letter addressed to all apprentices:
Regarding the terms and conditions of the something something, and as an employee, we would like to kindly remind you that it is forbidden to use mobile phones and walkmen or wear caps or hoodies in the building.
In order to preserve the cleanliness of the walls and floors of the building, all food and drink must be consumed in the canteen.
Any students caught smoking in the school will be put through an immediate interrogation.
Thank you Sir, Mademoiselle and allow us to assure you our very best wishes,
Please bear with me today, fellow blog-reader. Despite being overwhelmed after my first day of school I am also over-tired. Similarly to how Angelina Jolie is both an assassin and a trustworthy wife in
Mr and Mrs Smith
, I am a patisserie chef disguised as a school girl. Or vice-versa. I have had an intense week of early starts and raspberry tarts. And yes, I did make that rhyme up on purpose.
These are photos of the patisseries we have been making this week:
Paris is beautiful