mental health and travel
A few weeks ago with much excitement I had a holiday to Giverny, France to see and photograph Monet’s house and gardens. Claude Monet is a big name in the art world and it was a real privilege to see and photograph the sights that inspired him to paint so many works. He actually created his gardens and lake/pond for the purpose of painting it. He diverted a nearby river to make the pond.
Giverny is a small village an hours train ride east from Paris and even though I still have anxiety issues I was expecting a fairly easy journey there – I like trains, I like France and I travelled with my mum and Auntie and Uncle who were visiting from America.
Of course it didn’t quite pan out like that. The French trains were nothing less than a fuck up unfortunately…
It was cool travelling to London St. Pancras international station from my home in Hampshire, no problems there and the underground trains were pretty smooth. The Eurostar was smooth too, fast at ‘trois cent’ km/h (185 mph - I asked the conductor) and comfortable. Then we got to St. Lazare station in Paris and ended up being stuck there for about four hours. The announcements in French that we didn’t understand were of “trees on the line from the bad weather” and it was a mission! We were told to get off trains twice after getting on.
We did however arrive in Giverny safe and sound and our accommodation was small but nice in a cottage two minutes’ walk from Monet’s place. We were happy! The next day we joined about one hundred other tourists to have a look around. It was a big house, big gardens and the large pond was amazing. It was wet and windy but that just gave us a unique view. The pond had water lilies, rowing boats tied up and the famous bridge and we stood on it and sat on benches with umbrellas up just watching people and taking photos. Because of the rain it was all slightly grey, but the greens, pinks, and blues of the pond were still superb. Monet’s house was impressive too, though laden with tourists. Bloody tourists – who needs ‘em.
I do love France and the French. I wish I could speak French, but after some ouis, ca vas, bonjours and mercis I’m just an ignorant Englishman with no idea of this language. Usually my broad smile was enough to get me through the social interactions.
That was pretty much it to be honest – though beautiful it was just a quick trip and the next day we headed home to Hampshire. This blog post is really just to showcase some photos.
We had seven hours to kill in Paris before getting the Eurostar home again. As far as mental health is concerned I consider myself about 90 % recovered, but I had a minor flare up while in Paris, unexpected but I was naturally strong through it having been through so much of it before in 2003 – 2010. I began feeling an old panicky thing surfacing at about midday. So naturally the group decided we should have lunch at the busiest restaurant in Paris. We ate at the restaurant at the top of Printemps department store. Big, busy and waiters that clearly didn’t care about being on the ball. I asked our server for some tap water and she had the gall to stand at the table right next to us and chat aimlessly for ten minutes after my request before getting it. I was riding out my anxiety at the time and it really pissed me off. The food was admittedly very good though.
We shopped at Galeries LaFayette too, which is massive and beautiful and smells like heaven…whenever I get the chance to check out expensive fragrances I take it – Armani Prive and Tom Ford are my favourites.
Then we headed home and it didn’t take long.
I am proud of myself for riding out a panic attack without the group really noticing while I was abroad in Paris no less. In many ways after all I have been through with mental illness it’s like water off a ducks back. I have a page on this website dedicated to sharing some mental health tips – check it out in the menu, top left.