I got 99 First World problems…

‘Tis the season for over-indulgence, as Husband and I were discussing the other day. We’re trying to get ski-fit for our holiday later this month, but Christmas parties keep getting in the way. Which made us think of how lucky we are, because we’re trying not to eat too much, as opposed to scrabbling for food and safety. Gives you pause, doesn’t it?

IMAG0415_1On the ski front, there is no snow yet where we’re going (France). After the freak cold front, we’ve had a freak warm front , and it looks like any hope I have of cross-country skiing are going out the window rather sharpish. So it looks like we’re just going to have to ice-skate and hang out and do family things. Ewwwwwww 😀 Perhaps now is a good time to teach DD to play poker?

And back in London, the Icelandic Yule lads are making their way down the mountain; the first one brought DD a fantastic new helmet – ya know, for all that snowboarding she’s probably not going to be doing? Perhaps she can invent a new sport? Riding the chair lift and coming back downhill on a cafeteria tray?

See what I mean about 99 first world problems?

How’s your holiday season panning out?

First Day of School!

So DD is back to school today. It’s her last year of primary school, and we enter into a whirlwind of school visits and testing to get her into senior school next year. I’m done screaming, “She’s 10, leave her alone!”, and hoping the UK miraculously invents middle school, because that’s not going to get me anywhere. I am more focused on reminding her to be herself, chill out, and remember that the right school for her will recognise her. She has a lot to offer and I hope that the testy-choosy people see that. My job is to get her through the next 5-6 months unscathed (OK, relatively whole).

IMG_20160820_082306Our holiday in France did a lot towards that end; we had a really good time with some rousing games of charades and Uno (Granny plays to win!), lots of swim/beach time and ziplining for DD, and lots of book & wine time for me. We did an insane amount of crossword puzzles, too, and spent many evenings discussing the news (sigh, yes, Trump). But all good things must end, and it was lovely to get back home to my super-sprung mattress and reliable WiFi.

The weather is tropical in London today, and we’re expecting warmer temperatures this week – I do love a bit of ‘sensommer’ – that’s late summer for the non-Scandi readers. But I did sneak in a pumpkin spice latte this morning and my Pinterest clothes boards are already filling up with chunky jumpers and boots. The slow cooker is waiting in the wings, DD is already working on Halloween costume ideas and I’m waiting for Wholefoods to list their Thanksgiving menu – can you tell we love autumn?

But for now, I need to sign off, and finish all my filing and shredding for August.

It’s good to be back – à bientôt!

Reaching for the stars in Montmartre

We started this micro-adventure around Paris at the Tour Eiffel, lunched near Notre-Dame, and had hot chocolate and macarons near the Opera Garnier on Saturday. Our train was leaving at about 3pm on Sunday, so we had the morning to conquer Montmartre, round the corner from BB’s apartment.

#paris #france #travel #montmartre #sacrecoeur

If you can climb the bazillion steps to Sacre Coeur, you have conquered Paris!

We caught our breath in time to tour inside Sacre Coeur. It is awe-inspiring and what grabbed me most was the almost equal representation of males & females in the statues, stained glass and other imagery. I was not really expecting this at a Catholic church. It’s probably a good thing we weren’t allowed to take photos inside; I could have lost a day there.

#paris #france #sacrecoeur #montmartre #church#sacrecoeur #paris #france #montmartre #church

After gorging on the metropolis of Paris laid out before us from the viewing points, we went in search of lunch (and thankfully, headed downhill!).

#paris #france #montmartre #stone

This surprising little gem looked like it had been transplanted directly from St-Malo to the centre of Paris.

We had Breton galettes (not up to BB’s stringent standards), and walked past another church on the Rue de Abbesses. Called Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre, the church stopped me in my Art Nouvea-lovin’ tracks. See why?

#paris #france #montmartre

The first example of reinforced cement in church construction – the exterior is covered in brick & tile to create this stunning finish. The church is over 100 years old.

What a way to end our fantastic whistle-stop tour of Paris. DD is enamoured and spent the Eurostar journey home presenting me with all the reasons why we should move to Paris. Honestly, I am sorely tempted! But for now, I am just glad she fell in love the way I did, and had a good weekend with her friends.

Where should we head for our next micro-adventure? Copenhagen? Ghent? Amsterdam?

Flâner in search of sugar…

It’s incredible to think that we started our flâner at the Eiffel Tower, lunched near Notre-Dame and swung by the Louvre, all in five hours. We continued our flâner towards the decadence that is Angelina’s Salon de The. Unfortunately, at least fifty other people had this idea at the same time, and they were all queued on the beautiful mosaic pavement. BB and I wisely decided to walk further on in search of hot chocolate & patisserie. This meant we had to wander through the very tempting Place Vendôme, the shopping zone for those with limitless credit cards. 

#cartier #paris #france #placevendome #jewellery

Not even I, jewellery Luddite, am completely immune to Cartier, especially when it’s this pretty!

#boulangerie #patisserie #paris #france #macaron #hotchocolate #erickayser

We ended up at Boulangerie Eric Kayser for some gooey salted caramel macarons and sinfully rich hot chocolate.

The children were now properly sugared up (yay, said no mother ever) and raring to go, so go we did. Up the road to the Opera Garnier, where DD seemed to realise she was on hallowed ground. Being there put her hours of dancing and mangled feet into perspective: “You think I could dance here some day, Ma?”  I don’t know, but summer school is definitely an option. I dream a dream…

And then, we were at Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. There are actually three buildings, but we headed straight for the one with the rotunda. See why?

#paris #france #haussmann #galerieslafayette #shopping

You can actually take a lift to the top of the Galeries and have a wonderful view over Paris. We didn’t. The sugar rush was fading fast.

On the bus home, clutching the iconic Galeries Lafayette bag.

Next on the WHISTLE-STOP tour: MONTMARTRE

FLÂNER…part deux

So in my previous post, we were on the Batobus heading to Notre-Dame & Île Saint-Louis. We disembarked the Batobus on the Rive Gauche (check my French!) and took in the breathtaking view. DD was marginally disappointed not to see Esmerelda, Quasimodo or indeed, ANY talking gargoyles, but the abundance of historical information everywhere went some way to mollifying her. Damn you, Disney!

Clicking on each photo will take you to a larger one in a new tab…

#notredame #paris #france

900 years old and she’s still got it!

#notredame #wedding #paris #france #travel

Random couples at every tourist spot in town, being photographed. No other wedding party members ever present. Entertaining!

We walked over the Pont Saint-Louis, arbitrated lunch choices, and ended up in a tiny Italian restaurant which seemed to meet with the all-important thumbs up from the children. We had to sprint back to the Batobus to head to the Louvre. Sensibly, we didn’t actually go INSIDE – I’ve seen the Mona Lisa and it’s tiny. I didn’t want to risk DD’s wrath after a 30-minute-queue-to-shuffle-past. We just walked around the grounds and took photos of the children in crazy poses. We are SO cultured.

#louvre #paris #france

I loved the symmetry of these lampposts.

#louvre #paris #france #tuileries

Statue in the Jardin Tuileries – BB & I assumed this same position later that night.

#france #paris #tuileries #sculpture #garden #museum

Rather captivating unnamed sculpture on our way out of the Jardin des Tuileries.

Next stop: do we make it to Angelina’s for patisserie? Do we acquire an iconic Galeries Lafayette shopping bag? 

Let us begin with a flâner…

I was SO excited to head to Paris last Friday, as you could probably tell from my posts. I didn’t count on the fact that I would tear up spectacularly when I saw BB again. She was teary, too. It was amazing to see her again, and the children.

She has a beautiful apartment in a tree-lined neighbourhood – all cobblestone streets, patisseries and Parisian charm. Paris abounds in charm. I love Paris. If I could only ever spend the rest of my life between two places, Paris and London would do. Wait, hang on, I love Reykjavik and New Orleans, too. Hmmm, let’s come back to this debate after I tell you more about my efforts to flâner.

#eiffeltower #paris

#nofilter

BB had a rough plan for the day, allowing for inclement weather. We headed from her apartment to the Eiffel Tower, which never ceases to amaze me no matter how many times I see it. It is equally beautiful in sunshine and rain.

I am deeply grateful for my new smartphone and its camera, which enabled me to get some creative shots with minimal effort on my part.

We took a fun river bus east on the Seine towards Notre-Dame – it’s called the Batobus and it’s a hop-on-hop-off service. Genius! I love the service in London for the same reason – plus it’s a very civilised way to get to work 😉

#batobus #seine #paris #riverboat

DD on the boat – grumpy because I insisted she sit inside instead of hang off the railing outside. Bad mother!

#bridges #paris #seine

Next stop: Notre-Dame & Île Saint-Louis

flâner dans les rues: setting the scene

#paris #france #metro

One of the fanciest Metro entrances I had ever seen! (2002)

In four days (FOUR!), I am going to enjoy a flâner dans les rues de Paris with the Breton Bestie, her daughter (DD’s bestie) and DD. Flâner dans les rues roughly translates to strolling the avenues, wandering the streets. I have been asked to bring tea cakes, fruit rolls and sharp British cheeses. There may be some other goodies transported across La Manche (hey, I have to keep some secrets, BB reads my blog!). BB has stocked up on wine (BB has EXCELLENT taste in wine; I think I’m getting the better end of the deal this weekend)

Spoiler alert: There are going to be many photos. Follow along on Instagram 🙂

I cannot wait to see DD’s face when she sees the Palais Garnier, and possibly dreams of dancing there. Then the Galeries Lafayette for the absolutely decadent interior. We’ll stop at Angelina’s for some restorative hot chocolate and cakes: my favourite is their signature Mont Blanc. You have to love chestnuts to enjoy this dessert; good thing I do!

But most of all, I’m so excited I get to see BB again. We’ll drink good coffee, eat too much, corral the kids, giggle, and catch up on everything that we’ve missed via Viber & Skype. 

Does your bestie live close by? How long have you known him/her? How do you sustain your friendship?

I need a vitamin boost!

We’re back from our hols! It was so good to discover a new part of France, and really feel like we had found our ‘place’ (we’ve been tossing around the idea of a French holiday and/or retirement home for years). It had the hills and trees to keep Husband happy. It had the beach for me & DD. It had really interesting (covetable) architecture.

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Future holiday chateau?

The Basque country in France has the best blend of Spanish/Basque (my favourite) and French (husband’s favourite) – even on the road signs!

Bilingual sign in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Wikipedia)

Bilingual sign in Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle (Wikipedia)

The weather was glorious, sometimes a little too hot, even in the shade, but that’s what the sprinkler park was created for, right?

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DD got to practice her French at the epicerie every day, endearing her greatly to the shopkeeper. We discovered some amazing cuisine – and even a gluten-free cake!

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There will be a recipe for gateau Basque later this week!

We got to start a new sea-glass collection, walking and chatting, jumping in and out of waves. I got hooked on adult colouring. We got to unwind and disconnect and just hang. 

Sadly, my body misunderstood the memo, and I’m now battling the start of a cold…time for a Vit C mocktail boost, a catch-up of all my recorded TV shows and a scroll through the WordPress Reader. Hallelujah for the bank holiday weekend and no work tomorrow.