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?

Unexpected Unknown

Go into the unexpected unknown. Explore your city. Explore the next town over. Be a tourist, but leave the map at home. Expect the unexpected. Try a new coffee shop. A new book store. If you can handle it, leave your smartphone at home and just see with your eyes. DD & I do this every once in a while, and these are some of the most fun times we spend together.

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Flow magazine issue 12

Today, I discovered a hidden church on a street I go down at least three times a week. DD was in hysterics that I had completely missed it roughly THREE HUNDRED times. She took great delight in pointing out the beautiful Madonna carved in to the side of the façade, “in case I missed that, too”. 

Also check out NeSpoon’s gorgeous ‘urban jewelry‘: doilies will never look the same again!

Resolutions (the birthday kind)

I’m baaaaaaack! (minus the Jack Nicholson connotations)

I took some time out to connect with people face-to-face (girls trip to Amsterdam). It was wonderful. There was a lot of good food and laughter and culture and the acceptance that we are all ageing (mostly gracefully). So the next girls trip is going to be scheduled at a luxury spa somewhere!

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Today, I turned a year older. Not too much wiser, but older, fer sure. I always feel like my ‘new year’ is my birthday. It’s usually the first day of summer in Iceland and the return of hope that the warmer, brighter months are on the horizon.

So this year, my resolutions are just a reiteration of what I’ve already said before. Could-do, not have-to. Time out when I need it. Face time. Letter-writing. Clawing back on obligations and maxing out on family time.

(and happy 90th birthday to Her Majesty The Queen)

 

 

 

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 VendĂ´me, 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?

Fathers (A-Z)

My dad’s job took him all over the world, often for months at a time (this was 30+ years ago, long before the advent of Skype & even email). I remember him sending me letters when we were apart, with the most amazing drawings on every envelope. Cape Town, Gibraltar, Venezuela…they all came alive in black ink on those old-fashioned blue & red striped Air Mail envelopes. He gave me the world, one sketch at a time. When we travelled with him, we were encouraged to talk to people, try different foods, explore! I learnt so much from him, from how an engine works to reading a map, reading the night sky to learning to ride a bike, and then later, to drive a car. He invented the ‘indoor picnic’ for us, in our tiny apartment, balancing an old door on some books for a picnic table. He created a Cleopatra costume for me when I was ten, including the headdress, the make-up, the works! There was never a second where I felt like he thought I couldn’t be whatever I set my mind to be.

Listening to my daughter talk about her father, I realise I picked someone incredibly similar to my dad. “Dada has a great sense of humour, supports me in tricky situations, takes me on adventures, teaches me to play football (soccer), buys me lots of books and taught me how to take the Tube”, says K. He also chases her about, lets her fall, flings her in the air – all the things that make me shriek! He believes in her. He listens to her. He makes her feel valued, and has given her enough respect for her to expect no less from anyone else. What priceless gifts!

As wonderful as these two men are, they would probably both agree that their intro to fatherhood was similar to Phillip Toledano’s in this hilarious & heart-warming ‘Confessions of a Reluctant Father: How I Learned to Love my Daughter‘. Laugh out loud and enjoy.

And if you love your dad/step-dad/father-person, let him know. Today.

 Image from Pixabay

Big & Point of View

I was temporarily stumped this morning until I trawled through the phone, and found three photos to share for today’s topic. Enjoy!

Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland

I had to lie on the floor to get this shot of the inside of the Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland. The handblown glass seagulls were an added bonus!

London, UK

The London Eye or a giant bicycle wheel? It’s fun playing tourist on the wrong side of the river!

South London, UK

The Shard, soon to be joined by Baby & Mini Shards