Paris I had actually gone abroad before. To Germany when I was about eight. I was there for three days and I maintain this was the first time I saw ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ on a video from the local emporium. When I say this to people, they gasp, not actually recognizing that not everyone can afford to go abroad sometimes. I hadn’t even actually been on holiday alone for any kind of extended period. That overnighter to Southend, and three years at University, but I’m sure neither of those count. I’m talking about a-lone. Without a support network. In a completely alien environment. So I thought it was about time.

Two hours after I’d found about my new job (more later) I was in the travel shop booking a three day trip to Paris. I always said that this would be the first place I went to and it seemed logical. As usual it was related to something. I wanted to stand on the Eiffel Tower in the spot were Tom Baker and Lalla Ward recorded that iconic scene in the Doctor Who episode ‘City of Death’ (‘the thing about Paris is … it has a bouquet …’) and to see the Mona Lisa. Once I’d covered those, everything else would be a bonus. There is something liberating about going into a travel agent and saying that I want to go away in three days and just picking a hotel out of a hat. Everyone should try last minute once in a while. Yes it’s bound to be more expensive than if you’d planned ahead, but the look smile on the travel agent’s face when you simply sit there and say yes to everything was a picture.

I’d never flown before. Not because I was actually scared. I didn’t have any fear of it. It’s just another one of those things I’d never gotten around to. And another one I’m happy to say I can cross off the list. I liked the simplicity of ‘EasyJet’. Yes, it was just like traveling by train, but this was an even more pleasant experience. I wasn’t prepared for that rush as the plane roars up the runway and into the air. I we left the ground the only thing I could do was laugh. For moments I felt superhuman. I WAS FLYING! Looking down at the landscape I understood how the first balloonist must have felt when the land spread out before him. Patterns of colour and lines. So familiar, from the ground suddenly made no sense. And before I could and my bearings, the plane burst through another barrier and within moments the phrase ‘blanket of clouds’ finally resonated. I hadn’t realized that in the sky although the place must have been proceeding at some speed to stay in the air, the view of the window would be at almost a standstill. Only the usual baby crying broke the silence. And then quicker than it had begun, the plane voluntarily landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport and …. <>

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