Glass café au lait bowl 

by Hester Thomas   Artist: Robert Nelson


In 1968 my sister went to Paris and brought back a glass bowl which, she explained, the French used at breakfast, filled with hot chocolate into which they dipped bread and then drank. 

Everything about this – the bowl as a cup, the drinking of hot chocolate at breakfast, the dunking of bread – was so unorthodox and outrageous that I was profoundly appalled but impressed.

Until that moment, I had considered our childhood town, Bishop Auckland, to be perfect. But the bowl revealed a scintillating life elsewhere. The future shimmered irreverent, exotic, tantalising.

Ultimately it drew me from France to Australia, to Poli and Robert, who bought similar ceramic bowls in Paris and drank coffee from them at home in Melbourne.


Biographies: Hester Thomas (writer) and Robert Nelson (artist)

Hester Thomas was a journalist and web writer. She also trained business people how to improve their writing skills. She is the author of the novel The Rollercoaster Year available from

Robert Nelson is an artist, art critic and academic who painted the scenic backdrops for Polixeni Papapetrou’s photography. His most recent book is A History of Inspiration. They met via Polixeni – Hester’s good friend and Robert’s late wife.


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