Thursday, June 14, 2012

From Hay-on-Wye to Sussex to Lille, France ... and an upcoming 6-week web writing course!

Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille
(click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

Since our update last week, when we were still in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, much has transpired.

On Friday, the day after I taught the two writing workshops at Richard Booth's Bookshop, we drove back to Sussex, and spent one night in Brighton. While the stay there was short we somehow managed to lose a nifty little nylon bag containing both my laptop and iPhone chargers, a UK-European adapter, and a new screen-cleaning cloth. But we didn't realize it was missing until Saturday evening, after having spent the day picking up a few more camping items in Brighton and then returning to Lewes to re-jig the contents of our car, taking advantage of all we'd learned during our two weeks in Hay-on-Wye.

We then spent the whole of Sunday trying to find the lost bag, first searching our car in Eastbourne (where our dear friend Phoebe put us up until our ferry departure from Dover to Dunkirk on Tuesday morning), and then returning to the various places we stopped with the car while in Brighton. Fortunately, my daughter Luka's presence made the day a pleasure still. She helped to keep things light and funny, and it was a treat to be able to spend another day with her before leaving for the Continent.

In the meantime, Kuljinder (the friend with whom we spent nearly a week in Hove before heading to Herefordshire for the meditation retreat which magically morphed into our two-week stay in Hay-on-Wye) had given us a topnotch recommendation for a small shop by Churchill Square Shopping Centre in Brighton where over the course of Sunday and Monday I managed to quickly replace both my laptop and iPhone chargers on the relative cheap while getting original HP/Apple parts.

So in addition to the return trip to Brighton on Monday, we had a million other tasks to knock out. We did in fact knock them out, as well as a few unanticipated tasks which popped up, but we also knocked ourselves out in the process. We finally returned to Phoebe's in Eastbourne at 11.30 p.m., took quiet showers so as not to awaken or otherwise disturb her and her son Dunstan, and then went to bed around 12.30, only to have to wake up at 4.30 to prepare for our pre-booked 10 a.m. ferry. And as we'd be crossing the Channel at Dover, we had to leave plenty of time for the drive, allowing for traffic, and to pass through customs, etc.

We departed Dover on time, but before doing so fitted our UK-Europe headlight adapters and prepared our GB sticker to warn all European drivers of our British presence. And so it was a great relief, as expected, to finally be on deck with two hours of forced downtime in which to just relax, eat the porridge which Mufidah had prepared before leaving Phoebe's, and to generally chill out until we reached Dunkirk.

After leaving the ferry, we drove into the center of Dunkirk, and walked around until we finally found a free wifi spot at the local Subway sandwich shop. From there we began researching CouchSurfing hosts in the Lille area, a place which Mufidah had only passed through while enroute from London to Avignon nearly a dozen years ago. We've now been in Lille for two days, staying with a most accommodating host who has a lovely, inquisitive black and white cat named Schrödinger who, while lacking a garden, can freely roam the adjacent rooftops (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style) accessible via the terrace outside of Isabelle's living room.

In the meantime, over the past 24 hours, the weeks' long rainy weather has burst into blue-sky sunshine, while we sit in So Good, a friendly café across from the Palais des Beaux-Arts, pictured above. While I've been working on business correspondence and this blog post, Mufidah's been busy sourcing other prospective CouchSurfing hosts in Lille so we can stay on in this quaint city in the north of France, minutes from the border with Belgium.

If there's anyone in the vicinity of Lille who might like to put us up, or if you know someone who might consider the possibility, please let us know. You can contact me via email or call/text +44 7971 774151. Thank you in advance.

Finally, an exciting development ...

I've decided to offer a 6-week web-based Creative Writing Course, using the industry-leading GoToMeeting platform which we've found particularly good, intuitive and ideal for web classes with up to 25 participants, though I'll be limiting this particular class to the first 12 folk who register. The 6-week course fee will be £95. We'll meet via the web for two hours each week. You can learn more about the GoToMeeting platform via the above link. I'll be sending out an annoucement with the specific days/times, etc., but if you'd like to pre-register, send me a brief email.

That's it for now. Thank you, as always, for your continued interest in and support of our traveling endeavors.


  1. Evening Update. We've received an offer for three nights' stay (Fri-Sun nights) with another CouchSurfing host in Lille. So wonderful news!

  2. QUICK UPDATE: Five days later, after a lovely stay with Apolline and her family in Lille, we're now (as of last night) in Paris, staying with a charming 27-year-old Belgian guy named Thomas. The Fiat Punto is safely tucked away in a secure garage, and Mufidah and I are just about to head towards the Saint-Germain area.

    Also, yesterday, I started writing up the details for the upcoming Web-based Creative Writing Workshop, but had to move on to other things, pre-drive-to-Paris, but hope to get notice out today or tomorrow some time. If you're not already subscribed to receive the MLG Newsletter, you can click the above subscribe button.