Monday 31 October 2011


Many thanks to the Dancing Queen (AKA Hermione Granger!) for producing once again ...

such fabulously carved pumpkins for Halloween.
She did these on Friday for us, and managed to leave the kitchen totally wrecked for when I got back off holiday!!!
She had left for a party before we got home and explained by text that she had been too busy to clear up!
Also just had to share that we went to see the really funny Sarah Millican on Saturday night. I love the way she had a tea towel amongst her merchandise and echo her sentiments totally!

Sunday 30 October 2011

To Montmartre

On our 2nd full day in Paris, I had planned a visit to Montmartre. Paris is lovely and flat mainly, but the climb to Montmartre is very steep.

I discovered that the train from Maisons Lafitte stopped at a station (Aumer) below the amazing shop that is Galleries Lafayette, so we decided to call in en route. No photograph can ever do justice to the magnificent domed ceiling in here. Its jaw dropping.

As are the beautiful galleries underneath it.
We remembered that you can get out onto the roof in this store, and so made our way there. They have put seats up here now, and on such a glorious day we could have spent hours up here.
The view over the city is beautiful.

And then we spied our destination.
Its not too far to walk from Galleries Lafayette up to Montmartre. The only way to see a place is to walk. I love Montmartre. It is a bit dirty, a lot touristy, crowded and you have to watch your bags/pockets, but it has something special.

Of course there is the Moulin Rouge,
and the Macaroons.
I would love to step back in time and see the famous artists rolling around drunk up here.

The Sacre Couer is a special place too. Its free to wander in - you have to pay if you want to go up into the dome or down into the crypt.

One of the best things about Montmartre is the view. Breathtaking.
And especially for my friend Rosie, I photographed the carousel featured in one of our favourite movie's Amelie,
and also the cafe where Amelie worked - the Cafe de 2 Moulins.

Saturday 29 October 2011

A tight wad's guide to Paris

We visited Paris the same way as we did 2 years ago - on a shoestring. This means instead of staying in one of these...

Three of us stayed in one of these, just 15 minutes by train outside of Paris, but situated on an Island in the middle of the Seine. A snip at £165 Monday - Friday including the ferry crossing! Staying here means that we can make ourselves a decent breakfast before we go out, buy ham and cheese baguettes at the local Boulangerie for 3 euros each before we get on the train, and return to eat in the local town instead of paying Parisian prices. When 2 x coffee's, a coca cola and a very small bowl of ice cream cost 25 euro's in central Paris, you can see why it makes sense to do this!
The Eurocamp caravan was really comfy and they even greeted us with a free bottle of wine. Its not the quietest place on earth with a train line nearby,aeroplanes coming in to land and huge barges passing by, but this is a city break after all. We were very luck with the weather again and got to sit out on the deck on a couple of occasions.

The railway station is a 10 minute walk from the camp site, and the trains are every 5 minutes. They deposit you on the top of the Champs Elysee - right under the Arc de Triumphe.
The young man hates shopping, but would happily spend all his holiday in the spectacular shops on the Champs Elysee. We saw our first "celebrity " spot of the day in the Adiddas shop - Nigel Clough - son of Brian and current manager of Derby County.
We walked down towards the Place de la Concorde, the Tuilleries Gardens and the Louvre. This is one of my favourite bits of Paris.

I am blown away by the scale of everything here. The little black machine on the pyramid was cleaning the glass - so thats how they do it!

One thing I really love about Paris is that if you have enough stamina, things are close enough to see most of them in one day. We certainly charged around like loons on our first full day in the city.
I had read about the bridges where lovers leave padlocks - to signify that they will return again as lovers on Paris Daily Blog, and was delighted to come across these. Next time I am taking a padlock!! Most had their names and dates engraved on them, some had just written on them in felt tip pen. Its wonderful to know that there is so much love and hope in the world.
We hot footed it over to the left bank to find another haunt - which much to my disappointment was closed!! (just for the day!!). Its here we saw our 2nd celebrity spot - but I cannot think for the life of me what her name is. Can you help? She is a Black American lady who appears on TV - I thought she was a comedienne, but I'm sure Ive seen her on Andrew Marrs show recently. She used to be fairly large, but she has had weight loss surgery and is much slimmer now, and she has short hair. Any clues? Any way, she was as disappointed as I was to find the Shakespeare and Co closed.

Edited to say "many thanks" Rosie - it was indeed Jenni Trent Hughes.
At 6.30pm, we decided to take a trip on a Baton Mouche. Nicely timed as we were on the point of collapse! (especially the teenager!)

You get to see the fabulous detail on the amazing bridges. I introduced the phrase "Belle Epoque" (Beautiful Era) to the young man and pointed out features in the Belle Epoque style. I realised a few days later that he though I was saying "Belly Pork"!
As well as providing a nice sit down and a running commentary, we got to float through the city at dusk, and watched her change from her day time attire, into her sparkly evening gown.

A great way to end our first day.

Friday 28 October 2011


Ive been away.

But I'm back with millions of photo's and tales of my very poor school girl French that caused much hilarity!

Saturday 22 October 2011

Park Life

One of our favourite city walks is through Endcliffe Park in Sheffield. You start out in the city and end up in the Peak District - if you walk far enough. Sheffield is famous for being a very green city and this place is very special and well used by the locals.

We spotted these yellow holly berries,
side by side with plenty of red ones - another harsh winter me thinks.
Before our walk, we partook in a few minutes in the outdoor gym. I think this is a brilliant idea. I wouldn't mind a few of these in my garden.

The park and woodlands are really picturesque now, but back in time, this was the area in Sheffield where the steel forges started. The Shepherd Wheel is being restored, and this weekend the woods were full of masters students from Sheffield Uni re creating some of the sights, sounds and skills from the steel making, forging and grinding industry.

I loved it. You can't beat a real fire in the middle of the woods on a crisp day. And all the kids love this kind of thing. Two little boys had me in hysterics trying to pump the massive bellows.

I think its great that people still do this kind of thing. Some of the workers explained the chemistry and science of what was happening, and other forged products.

Brilliant stuff.
And then it was on with the walk.

Seeing what nature has forged and placed along the paths for us to see.

A very favourite place.