Friday, 27 March 2015

Paris in spring

Audrey Hepburn famously said 'Paris is always a good idea!'
I agree. it is something, Nathan and I have wanted to do for a few years and as each year has come and gone we have made sensible decisions that really finances wouldn't stretch or would be better used elsewhere. I think the wait made the trip all the more sweet. Simon and Carol bequested us Marriott points for our birthday (the only good thing which comes from Simon having to work in Portsmouth during the week) and with the blessing of having willing and able parents we were able to get away for three whole nights! It was so, so lovely.
At the airport on the way home, I jotted down a few thoughts on travelling to Paris in case in the future we get the opportunity to come again - oh I do hope so!

1. It sucks when the RER B from Charles Ge Galle a Paris is broken The alternative is to travel by coach which circulates the airport's complex roundabout system twice before you exit, takes over an hour and a half into Paris and costs 17.50 euro instead of the 40 minute 10 euro journey on the train.
2. Glaciere station is closer than Saint Jacques to Marriott Rive Gauche - tried and tested both.

Within moments of stepping off the metro we bumped into 'Mr Could- he- possibly -look  -anymore French?' 

3.Being an elite member at a hotel is great - upgraded to a suite, VIP lounge with complementary breakfast, soft drinks and hor d'eves, free wifi.
4. Choosing to upgrade to a suite with two bathrooms instead of one with a view is the better choice.
5. It is really hard to smile when someone has offered to take a photo for you on your own camera because inside all you are thinking is 'please don't steal my camera!' This happened at our very first photo of the day on the bridge opposite Notre Dam, a student girl offered and I said 'yes' but inside my heart was racing and I just wanted my camera back! I felt bad because she was genuinely wanting to be helpful and I think I was on high 'pick pocket' alert having read plenty about it in the travel guides - sad that we become so distrusting isn't it? Anyway the rest of the trip we took plenty of selfies and felt the better for it!  Nathan Obliged for a photo shoot as we queued to climb the bell tower of Notre Dam. This man cracks me up with his ability to goof around (most the ofthe time unintentionally) in front of the camera!

6. The bell tower is a good work out though apparently not as much as climbing the arc d'triumph (the girls behind me commented, so I take their word for it). The view from the top is great and if your hubs is a Paris expert he can point out all the main attractions including the street lined with kebab shops! What can I say - former missionary! Grecs were a weekly highlight!

7. Nothing compares well to Angelina's African hot chocolate! As thick as sauce - chocolate heaven.

8. I love Parisian parks. Plenty of chairs for communal gathering or lazy magazine reading (there is a WHSmiths right by the Tuileries gardens perfect for picking up an English mag), wide tree lined avenues. Trampoline areas which made me wistful for the children, lots of runners, Australians who ignore the polite requests to stay off the grass, couples freely showing PDA, families punting mini yachts on the lake, couples doing paired Tai chi, live music, more runners!

9. Seriously, how big is the Louvre??? Mind blowing!
10. Scare Coeur = a great place to visit at dusk. Musicians holding impromptu concerts on the stairs. John Lennon's 'Imagine' gets the large mixed crowd going. Being on a hill it is a great place to watch the lights come on over the city. Take momentary peace inside the basilisk, watch the nun carefully prepare for mass with a quiet reverence and then be escorted by bodyguard to a different chapel. The square close by still holds the same atmosphere and picture etched in my memory from 1994/5 when I visited on my French exchange.

11. It is a good idea to make sure that the hubs wears decent socks  with out holes. Holey socks, rub and create blisters which hurt. Keeping hubs watered and well fed is advised if you don't want him to have a grumpy couple of hours (negotiated down to 1.5 hours!)
12. Musee d'Orsay - fabulous building, great clock and rose sculpted ceiling. Nathan has a hippy taste in art - showing  a preference for pieces displaying the colours of the rainbow. He shows great disdain for art depicting Jesus surrounded by 12 naked  apostles and will likely made a loud comment about it! Some parents can actually take their children to places like this and get them engaged in related activities on ipads - we saw it with our own eyes! We giggled at the thoughts of how our three would have each interacted with the art gallery! Not sure we are in a rush to make the theoretical into reality!

A few quick points to round of this list -

13. American ladies are noticeably louder than most other demographics of people "YOU TOLD ME TO GET OFF" shouted three times, loud in the VIP lounge, loud on the metro.
14. H&M sells different things in France than England, so if you see something in the French one buy it then.
15. When you order a salad, it will be HUGE!
16. Kebabs in France are soooo much better - fact.
17. Duty free at airports in England is so much better than in France - fact.

18. If you do get the chance to visit this city, then go with your love because nothing else compares - fact.x

Around Paris in a number of selfies

Our collective favourite selfie of the trip
-Tuleries Gardens

Monday, 9 March 2015

The 52 Project 10/52 ( World Book Day & The Great's Birthday party)

Joseph is always quite decisive about which character he wants to dress up as for World Book Day. fortunately they are in the main achievable. Ben on the other hand is late in the day and has expectations that Mum can accomplish any thing! I wish I had his confidence. He settled for Anakin ( I want to add again to the end of that sentence, as I think he may have gone as him before) but in his rebellious persona. I do feel like it is a bit of a cop out, as Anakin is mainly a film character and though we do have plenty of Star wars books I don't think it hits the brief. However, neither boy wanted to take up my suggestions of  Saucepan Man or Moonface from the Faraway Tree which we read at bedtime and like I say, late in the day Anakin it was. Joseph wanted to go as the Lion from       ' The Lion who wanted to Love.'  (Mum alert - worried that he would get mocked for taking a picture book into school!! Stopped myself from intervening as I believe he has enough confidence to be able to bounce of any such banter! Though I did suggest he take his animal encyclopedia in as well as that has lions in it too!)
A trip to Yorkshire Trading was a huge success. We went in with the aim of chunky brown wool to make the mane. Instead found this perfect trim in the remnant basket for £2. The sales assistant even suggested getting an elastic headband to attach it to as an idea - what service! An evening of stitching later and boom - one lion's mane. True it didn't quite last the rigor of the day but it looked great on the way to school. The boys were super impressed with my simple attempts at face painting. Nothing makes a boy smile quite so much as unexpectedly finding giant fangs on his face. After school, Ben did some DIY face painting ' Anakin has a black scar not red Mum!' Then they went in the bin to prevent any disastrous mix of face paints and Seth!

In other news. we took trip 13465362 + 1 to Spec Savers this week. Both boys have one pair of lost glasses, Joseph has now lost his second pair (at school may I add!) and Ben had broken his again (at school may I add again!). Fortunately, Ben's were able to be fixed and Joseph had another pair ordered. We went to a couple of shops then headed home. On leaving the car, noticing Ben was no longer waering his newly fixed spectacles I asked 
'Ben where are you glasses?'
'Errrr..... I don't know... they were in my pocket!'
No glasses in pocket, no glasses in the car,  please hand me my straight jacket now, seriously I think I am going crazy!!! My mantra in these moments is 'Majorie says laugh' 

A phone call later to The Card factory and they were found and I won't go into detail about what happened  to the car he retreieved from the bath, when he came into the bathroom, whilst I was on the loo. Let's just say, I wasn't going to put my hand in there to retrieve it and for a couple of days it looked like the loo was permanently blocked!
Seth's photo this week, was taken at Grandma Josie and Grandad Derick's birthday party. He really was not sure about the firework candel on top of their amazing birthday cake and his facial expressions were a picture. 

As were Joseph's dancing moves and Ben's break dancing. Had to laugh that I had organised a craft activity making Mother's day cards and the only children who were not interested in having a go were my own. Joseph did make some fangs though - so creative haha!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The 52 project 9/52

I love watching my boy play with his cars, in exactly the same style hi brothers did - get down low and play with them on the trunk at eye level using your best and widest variety of appropriate noises, every so often put one in your mouth, chew, then release and back to driving.
New words of note is - 'anman' Iron man! 'Erbie'  
Grandma and Grandad came to babysit on Saturday. Their car was already on the drive when we arrived back from the York Pantomine, though they had gone for a walk. Seth immediately announced 'am-ma?' - see car mad!

Show us your muscles!

Some photos you just have to add in for legacy purposes don't you. He had a good giggle when he saw this one. This is a ' mum asked for a photo, I'm smiling but not feeling it, take it quick cos I'm outta here'  type of pose!

That's better!

Two smiley boys ready for the York pantomine.
This year it was Beauty and the Beast. As ever a fun afternoon, which Nathan tries to dodge as panto is not his thing. So he willingly took Seth to York and we got to enjoy some over dramatised fun! Joseph had ants in his pants and was eager to get a better view of the action. Whenever music came on he wanted to dance. If we lived in York, he would absolutely love to be in it for sure.