Hearts, kisses, roses and all that jazz. Valentines Day it is.
Back when Britney was singing Baby One More Time and and JLO was with P Diddy, I was working as a receptionist/breakfast
chef cook/driver/occasional housekeeper at Le Maison Talbooth. I didn’t know it but there was a Junior Demi Chef de Partie (try saying that after a few) who’s eye I’d caught. The hotel and restaurant Le Talbooth are about 1/2 mile apart, hence being driver chauffeuring guests to dinner (that BMW was smooth!). I remember myself and the other receptionists would find any excuse to pick things up from the restaurant or be the chauffeur to be able to walk through the kitchen. It was full of energy compared to the sleepy hotel!
We finally met in person at the Christmas party. I vaguely remember asking him why expresso cups have tiny handles…what the point?! Even though I’d had a few too many I was still shy so he asked out my friend. Let’s just say chemistry wasn’t there! My friend left for university, Paul got rehoused in the hotel attic (many of the chefs and wait staff lived on site either upstairs above the restaurant or hotel) and six months of chasing I said okay lets be boyfriend/girlfriend (okay, so I have commitment issues and I like to begin a Little Miss sometimes). We moved in together later that year.
I wanted to work in London and for Paul London had better restaurants to work and learn at. A year later we did. It was tough. Paul worked 5 and half days a week, leaving the house at 7am and getting back around 12pm. We had Saturday mornings, Sunday and Monday evenings together. Around this time my love of fitness really caught hold as I had a lot of free evenings!
Two good things did come out of our time in London: Mr AJ and Steve. Mr AJ, the cutest kitten ever with a lot of sass and Steve, Pauls’ best friend, a fellow chef he met at Le Talbooth. They both worked at the Embassy and Steve stayed with us for a year. He met travelling in Australia the year previous, a girl who needed a place to drop her bags off for one day in London before flying off to work as a yacht chef. A minor detail that had a big effect. Steve soon followed to work on the yachts and he needed at Sous Chef. It came at just the right moment. We weren’t happy and I wasn’t going to stop Paul from doing what he wanted. Life hasn’t been the same since!
Paul and Steve got a job offer where boat when not in use, was going to be docked in Barcelona. One day I got a phone call, from Paul asking if I’d like to live there. We holidayed there the year before and fell in love with the city. I’d have to move myself and Mr AJ on my own some, but I didn’t have to be asked twice! August 2005, I was in a new city, with a new language and loving it! A few months later, we adopted D to kept AJ company (in London, he used to invite the next door neighbour’s cat in to hang out!).
The boat only docked once in Barcelona. For the next 7 years, we only saw each other 6 weeks spread out over the year. It wasn’t easy, but it was a nicer place to be than London. Hot summers, a beach and mild winters. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always known that I wouldn’t stay in the UK. I just didn’t know how! It wasn’t easy again being apart. 7 years later, it was too much and we spilt. We were thinking before we made the decision for me to move to France to be closer to his current boat. I still moved to France as I need new air. Instead, it was one of my darkest years. We saw each other occasionally, each hoping we’d change our minds, but never expressing it. I decided to move back to Barcelona and Paul agreed to move the cats and I back. I moved the whole house to Barcelona and back again in a day!
I couldn’t go through with it when I got there. We decided to start again and I moved all the house back to France within 24 hours! Luckily my previous landlady let me stay for the remainder of the month and one of Pauls’ friends had a place for us to stay. Two years have past and we’ve got itchy feet again.
Even though Paul’s job has kept us apart, it’s give so many opportunities and experiences. I would have never learnt Spanish, lived in 2 foreign countries, visited New York, Paris, Milan, Florida, seen the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina, breathed in heat traffic fumes in Nashville, swam in the Caribbean, had an amazing indoor/outdoor bathroom in Antigua (I still can’t find those photos), seen the Ibizan white walls, pine cone forests in Palma, day trips to Italy and met all my amazing friends. I would have never discovered Lemoncello, Panattone, Lululemon, never experienced Corre Foc, trail biking or being able to read road and airport signs along with ingredients labels in six languages. We would never have had the pleasure of being D’s adopted humans. The best bit now is that I get do to more of this with Paul as his current boat winter in the Mediterranean. The summers we still don’t spend together as that’s when his boss is onboard, but this might change soon. Barcelona?
There’s been many haircuts (on Pauls part, he’s had it long, short, shaved, no beard, beard) fashions (did I really wear baggy cargo trousers? Cringe) and more to come. My
wrinkles laughter lines f ine lines wrinkles need extra strength eye cream and I’m giving him grey hair, but for now all’s good and what ever we do or where we are feels completely normal.
You have no idea how hard it was to find photos of us together. That’s what happens in long distance relationships!