Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Orange Grove, and a Moment of Fame

Every week before French class, I go for coffee with one of my coworkers, who also happens to be taking French at the Alliance Française. We meet at the same cafe around the corner. At least, until this week, when we found the cafe closed. Like, permanently closed.

So we went across the street to another cafe, and what should greet me when we walked through the doors but this huge mural of an orange grove on the back wall. With the turquoise chairs and ketchup bottles, I felt like I was in a diner in Winter Haven! So this is clearly meant to be our new weekly meeting place.

I'm a bit fuzzy-headed this morning because Dave and I went to a dinner last night where numerous bottles of champagne and wine were consumed. This was at the home of the boyfriend of another work colleague, Natalie, who then came down with a fever before dinner and had to go to bed. We offered to go home and leave her in peace, but her boyfriend, who's a chef, wanted us to stay because he'd been cooking for hours. Awkward! Every once in a while Natalie would contribute to the conversation from her sick bed in the upstairs loft. (It was a very small apartment.)

It's been quite a social week, actually. I also met up with my old Peace Corps friend Rene, on Thursday night. She happened to be passing through London with her kids. We just had a quick drink at her hotel, but that was enough to check in with each other. I hadn't seen her since 1994!

Yesterday after French I went to the National Gallery to have a wander among some famous painters. It's been a while since I've been able to browse an art museum at leisure, and I spent a couple of hours there with Cézanne, Goya, Hogarth, Canaletto, Turner and many others. My favorite painting on this visit was this one, of a rhinoceros nicknamed "Miss Clara" who toured Europe in the mid-1700s. Can you imagine how strange a rhinoceros must have looked to most Europeans at that time?

Finally, did I ever tell you that once last June, while walking Olga from Hampstead Heath back toward home, I saw the Google Streetview car drive by? It was a fair distance away and I wasn't certain it was photographing at the time -- it seemed to be moving awfully fast. But yesterday I looked on Streetview and there we are!


  1. Wow, instant infamy! And that orange grove in the diner looks so Floridian...

  2. You will get a little bit of summer then in each of your London winter weeks.

  3. Oh wow, I'm amazed you found that streetwise photo with you and Olga in it. I had a similar encounter in Italy but, I was never able to find it even though I carefully wrote down the name of the street I was on. Maybe the cameras weren't rolling then.
    I love the orange grove. It's a sure sign that it should be your new meeting place.

  4. When you make "Streetview" your life is complete. Nothing else compares. Sad to say, it will all be downhill from now on.

  5. As a Florida boy, that cafe was destined for you!
    And now I'm curious - with a professional chef cooking, what did you have for dinner?

  6. Whoa! That cafe!
    Do they serve fresh-squeezed orange juice? Grits?
    What a beautiful neighborhood you were walking through. You are preserved for the ages.

  7. You are getting famous-er and famous-er, and Olga right along with you. Cool!

  8. Now that is really cool to see yourself on google. My wife happened to be walking across the yard in our Google shot.

  9. I'd be a regular at that cafe too - all that colour and style - I have to admit googling Winter Haven, my knowledge of Florida is abysmal.

    You can now join the exalted ranks of bloggers who feature on Google. Greenaway Gardens looks an ideal area to walk with Olga.

    Ms Soup

  10. I love weekly rituals with friends. that orange grove place looks groovy. and you, on street view!