Travel to a new place is always thrilling, reminding me how soon the unknown becomes familiar. Some deep territorial instinct seems to claim the small details and promptly spin them into remembered knowledge while the bigger picture remains indifferently mysterious. That's how it felt last weekend in Lille.
Our room overlooked the railway and traffic in ‘Toutes Directions’ and massive new build, but the larger life of the city was far less interesting than our daily trips along 'our' route ~ the cycle track discovered on the first night ~ taking us directly into the old town of Flemish buildings painted ochre & russet with sloping triangular roofs and rococo cherubic & garlanded mouldings.
It’s easy to lose yourself here, as the tourist ‘city map’ apparently locates roads where there's room for the print rather than with reliable reference to location and has no truck with scale, but Lilleans are friendly, and speak English far better than my pigeon French.
And anyway Hazel and I were happily indifferent as we sat with our notebooks at a pavement bar, beside a fountain, by the river, on a bench in the park or a log in the Bois du Boulogne. This was a writing retreat, our ‘artist’s date’ with the kind of process writing we used to do when we performed words together as Live & Lippy a decade ago.