Chapter 6 (of 20) The False Spring
Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michael, will take you back in time to the story that began my French culinary experiences while reading A Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter and culinary experience.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway.
Chapter 6 (of 20) The False Spring, accompanied by French Toast ‘Kipferl’ Style – milk bread fried in egg, with homemade apple and seasonal compote, fresh fruit and cinnamon at Kipferl, Camden Passage, Islington.
Notes From Chapter 6: The False Spring
A WorkLife Book Club For One
Notes about Spring Mornings
When spring came, even the false spring, there was no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.
In the spring mornings I would work early.
So that day after work we would go racing.
Hemingway was talking about making the most of the beautiful spring days and getting up early to work while his wife and the streets below were still asleep. Then when finished writing, he and his wife, Hadley, could choose how to spend the rest of the beautiful spring day. In the chapter he told the story of the day they chose to go racing.
This note serves as a reminder of a simple WorkLife practice that makes time for work and making the most of beautiful days.
Notes about Money
‘Do we have enough money to really bet, Tatie?’ my wife asked.
It was all part of the fight against poverty that you never win except by not spending.
But then we did not think ever of ourselves as poor. We did not accept it. It only seemed odd to be rich. We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply.
Recently I had coffee with a friend. I mentioned how, during the pandemic, because my work had stopped overnight, I had taken the financial support the government had made available.
Meaning well, my friend said she realised how privileged she was – she meant because she was financially OK. Or Rich. Whereas because I had needed to take the government financial support, she thought I was less privileged or poor!
What she said bothered me – it bothered me a LOT!
Because I don’t feel less privileged than her or anyone else for that matter.
And I certainly don’t think of myself as poor.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
I feel extremely privileged.
I feel extremely rich.
And that’s because of my work.
As a WorkLife learning practitioner, writer and creator, my work gives me a far greater sense of privilege and richness than money has ever or could ever.
I used to work in Investment Banking. I worked with good people in a good environment, and it afforded me a great lifestyle. I never had to give a second thought to spending money on whatever I wanted to spend it on. I had great experiences because of that.
But, and there is a but, a very BIG BUT.
My work wasn’t fulfilling. It was OK. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se. It simply had become mundane because I had been doing it for so long.
BUT, more than that. It had never been fulfilling.
Then as soon as I began my transition into the work I’m doing now, I immediately had a sense of fulfilment in my WorkLife, and with it came a sense of richness – not the richness of money, but the richness that came from doing good work.
From the outset in serving the people I worked with, the criteria that guided my work have always been that it has to be Helpful, Insightful and Inspiring. This is what gives me a sense of privilege and richness.
It has, over the course of almost twenty years working in my field, been financially challenging many times. Working freelance and navigating through ups and downs brought about by downturns in the market (financial crashes or the pandemic), resulting in learning budgets being frozen, made getting work hard, which made it financially challenging.
BUT throughout all of this, I’ve always felt extremely privileged and rich.
Because during downturns, when I didn’t have a lot of work, or as in the pandemic when I had no work, I spent my time creating.
Creating learning resources that are accessible to everyone, to help people self direct their WorkLife learning in the areas that are important to them.
This means that people can continue to self direct their learning regardless of company learning budgets being frozen. People who lose their job because of downturns can also continue to self direct their learning, while doing what they need to do to return to work. And so can people who set themselves up in business, who also perhaps have limited learning budgets.
Because my work has taught me that the one thing that can never be taken away from you is your learning.
My work gives me a sense of privilege and richness that money has ever and could ever.
Notes about Experiences
‘Do you remember I bought some wine from Aigle home to the chalet? They sold it to us at the inn. They said it should go with the trout. We bought it wrapped in copies of La Gazette de Lausanne, I think.’
‘The Sion wine was even better. Do you remember how Mrs Gangeswisch cooked the trout au bleu when we got back to the chalet? They were such wonderful trout, Tatie, and we drank the Sion wine and ate out on the porch with the mountainside dropping off below and we could look across the lake and see the Dent du Midi with the snow half down it and the trees at the mouth of the Rhône where it flowed into the lake.’
Creating experiences on that spring day led Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, to reminisce about memorable experiences from times gone by.
Lately, I find myself reminiscing a lot about memorable experiences from times gone by.
I also find myself thinking about the times over the last twenty years when things have been financially hard when I stopped creating experiences. I deprived myself because I felt I couldn’t spend money on creating an experience because I needed it to pay the bills.
In taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on a Moveable Feast, I’m creating memorable experiences. They don’t cost a lot. They don’t have to. I simply enjoy reading a chapter over a plate and a glass. It’s a simple pleasure that gives me immense satisfaction.
I walk wherever I’m going, and along the way, I’m discovering new places to create new experiences over a plate and a glass and a new chapter.
Words of Wisdom
‘Memory is hunger.’ Hadley Richardson.
For me, this line gives a sense of longing for the good experiences of the past to return and a sense of realising the importance of creating new experiences..
Experiences are the thing that bring richness and privilege to our lives. They don’t have to cost a lot of money. I needed to be reminded of that.
I’m not sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast over a glass and a plate.
It most likely will be another spontaneous happening. It may take a little planning to keep the French theme going, or, as I walk and explore and discover, it may not …
The Continuing Story …
I can now share where Chapter 7 (of 20) The End of an Avocation Took Me …
Today I enjoyed French Toast ‘Kipferl’ Style – milk bread fried in egg, with homemade apple and seasonal compote, fresh fruit and cinnamon at Kipferl, Camden Passage, Islington.
Kipferl is an Austrian restaurant & patisserie in a bright and spacious chalet-like space. Once again, unknowingly, my choice was serendipitous with the chapter, as Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, were reminiscing about their chalet and experiences while in Switzerland.
Se souvenir de toi, Norma.
#FunFact1 The usual French name for French Toast is Pain Perdu, ‘lost bread’, reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread. (Source Wikipedia)
The first known recorded recipe for French toast comes from Rome around 300 A.D. The Roman author Apicius included it in his cookbook titled “Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome“. For centuries, the French themselves called this dish “Roman Bread”. Today, French toast has spread to much of the world. Because the recipe is seen as a good way to make use of stale bread without wasting it, many countries today refer to this dish as ‘lost bread’. (Source Science Questions with Surprising Answers)
#FunFact2. Camden Passage, Islington, is hidden down a pedestrian-only cobbled back street. The passage was built, as an alley, along the backs of houses on Upper Street, then Islington High Street, in 1767. Since the 1950’s Camden Passage has ranked alongside Portobello, Kensington Church Street and Spitalfields as one of London’s leading antique locations. In later years the area has diversified with many new shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and market stalls. (Source Camden Passage Islington and Wikipedia).
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Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.