48 Boulevard Jourdan,

75014 Paris,


Dear Gemma,

I’m writing to you as I’m sipping a frothy latte on one of the many sun-drenched terraces of Paris. Are you jealous yet? Although, I remember you telling me that you hate coffee. Anyway, I have quite the story to tell you. God, I can feel myself blushing scarlet even thinking about it.

Picture this. I’ve stumbled into the first Parisienne restaurant that I’ve caught sight of to satiate the ferocious growling in my stomach. In hindsight, I probably should have realised my mistake as soon as I passed through the gilded doors. Waiters with tiny pointed moustaches waltz around, flutes of champagne balanced precariously on gleaming silver trays. Men wearing too much hair oil and thousand dollar suits laugh raucously and puff on big cigars. I’m instantly overwhelmed by the stench of perfume so strong it stings my nostrils when I take a breath. I hear the sharp tapping sound of stiletto heels attached to long, slender legs as ladies who belong on the front pages of magazines drift by. Rail thin women, all clad from head to toe in designer clothing and diamonds, sport perfectly manicured nails and glossy blow-dried locks that rests in smooth waves just above their shoulders.

I shove my faux-leather purse inside my coat as the Maître D’ directs me to a table. He looks me briefly up and down, taking in my cheap and cheerful clothing before smirking to himself and sashaying away. I’m feeling fairly embarrassed at this stage, as I see people at the tables beside me giggle behind their hands as they appraise my ancient sneakers. But this is nothing in comparison to what’s to come.

By now I’ve been handed a menu and a bead of perspiration is beginning to bead on the nape pf my neck as I catch a glimpse of the extortionate prices. A petite women wearing eyeliner that probably cost more than my entire outfit watches me speculatively, her lips pursed in a mocking smile as she appraises the panicked look on my face.

Another waiter appears out of thin air beside me, nattering away to me in heavily accented English about his recommendations, all costing three figures. My panic doubles when I peer more closely at the menu and notice that there are no English translations. Gemma, you know how hopeless I am at French. So, I just order the first thing that pops into my head- Escargots. Stop. I can just see you giggling right now. Remember my face when Tom spilt ketchup on my brand new white blouse? Well, that’s what I looked like when I was served a huge plate of snails. You know how fussy I am, I couldn’t face even trying one. I had to leave the restaurant a hundred euro poorer and just as hungry as I’d been walking in!

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than read about me being my usual silly self. Say hello to Mam for me!

Lots of love,