Tag: France

Summer Lovin …

happened so fast … As that song from Grease goes.  Maybe I should change the lyrics to “Summer lovin, please come as fast as you can?”  And that folks, is the reason why I would make a really crap lyricist.

As I type this I look out the window and it is greyest of grey outside.  Our little village is covered in mist.  Thinking of summer at the moment feels a bit ludicrous, or perhaps, this is the perfect time to dream of summer and going on holiday? Some of you have probably even booked your summer trips already.  We did that too last year and the year before that, booked as early as February. This year though, things are a bit on hold for now. But I will save that for another post.   For now, I want to take you and myself back to the summer of 2014.

It was the summer we took a road-trip from Cornwall to the French countryside and stayed at Eurocamp at the La Croix du Viuex Pont at Berny-Riviera, which was near enough for us to have a day trip to Paris and Disneyland and back.

IMG_6809Little T eating ice-cream at the plaza in Vic-Sur-Aisne

If you asked little T, of course what made the trip memorable was seeing Elsa and Anna live in Disneyland, Paris.  If you asked me and my husband, we’d say we loved the long and lazy days spent doing absolutely nothing but ambling down quiet and empty roads in the French countryside.

vicsur_littlestepsWalking around Vic-Sur-Aisne, love, love, love the French shutters and flower boxes.

Even the nearby town, Compiègne felt like a ghost town when we visited.  There was hardly anyone in the streets.  Although to be fair, later in the day, the French came out and of course to us, seemed impeccably stylish even in their every day wear.

townhall_littlestepsThe town hall and empty streets of Compiègne.

We live in a small village too here in Cornwall, but walking around in our little village, chances are, you’ll meet someone, especially a dog-walker, strolling around the village.  But not in the French countryside, we wondered, where everyone was!  But that was part of the charm I guess, the emptiness and solitude of the French countryside, what more can one ask?  Of course, this isn’t what everyone wants in a holiday.  Some may prefer the maddening chaos of Paris which I also enjoyed actually. I loved walking around the streets of Paris and gazing at old rambling buildings.  Although the crowd was a little bit too much for me, I think a day in Paris is enough, although my husband said, perhaps visit in a quiet month, like in autumn.

IMG_7008A lovely cobbled street in Paris.

To me a perfect vacation is just that … meandering through streets, walking around like a local, making wrong turns and discovering things on your own, especially places that are not mentioned in tour guides.  Having no itinerary, If you feel like lazing around on the beach and reading a good book, then so be it.  Don’t have lists of things to do while on vacation.  Remember, it’s all about taking a break from the madness of your everyday life.

What is your idea of a perfect holiday?

*This is an entry for James Villa Holiday’s competition.

The Year that was – 2014

I’ve been tagged by the lovely Louise aptly called “A New Year’s Tag”.  Admittedly I’m a bit late for this, but hey, better late than never right?  So here goes …

What was your highlight of 2014?

IMG_6962

The road trip to France and a quick dash to Belgium, made even more special when two members of my family from the Phil were able to join us.  We also managed to take little T to Disneyland, and of course, Paris.  It was a lovely ten-day holiday, even though it rained really hard on the first few days, and it was scorching hot in Paris!

IMG_6615

This was also the year Little T started “big school” 🙂

What are you excited for in 2015?

There are a couple of things I am excited about, but I don’t really want to jinx it, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep this one a bit of a secret.  Will share it with you guys, when I absolutely know that it’s certainly going to happen 😉  For now, I shall be mum about it.

Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Don’t believe in making them.  Used to write a long list when I was younger, but always failed to tick it off.  What’s the point?  I’m a great believe in Nike’s old slogan “Just do it!”, so if there’s really something you want to do in your life, you don’t need to wait till the year is over and the New Year has come to do it, just do it!

Blogging high?

Don’t really have a blogging high, because I don’t really pay much attention to stats and other stuff.  I love to blog, this is my “me” time.  I guess my blogging high is when bloggers I admire and really like also visit my blog and comment.  Now that gives me a real high 😉

Picture of the year?

Loads!  But if I have to pick one, it would have to be little T’s first day of school photo.

IMG_7364

 What about you?

What was the highlight of your 2014?

Do share.

I’m tagging the following lovely ladies, no pressure to do it too, I know how you all must be so busy!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the names below, do go and visit their blogs – they are so worth a read 🙂

Jocelyn of The Reading Residence

Suzanne of 3 Children of It

Annie of Montgomery Fest

Carrie of Space for the Butterflies

Sophie of Sophie is

S is for Streets

IMG_6943

Little T on her dad’s shoulders, walking the streets of Paris.

Paris has many famous landmarks and tourist spots, but what also struck me were the many interesting streets, especially the side streets, far from the maddening tourist crowds.

IMG_6946

I loved the shadows formed on this lovely building in Trocadero street near the Eiffel tower.  We stopped and had coffee in a lovely cafe in the area there.

IMG_6947

And little T had to have some ice-cream of course, after all, it was a very warm day in Paris.  As you can see, the serving surprised and delighted the little one:

IMG_6953

After the treat, we headed off again, trying to stay away from the chaotic crowds.

IMG_6968

Every where you looked just seemed so poetic.  Reminds me a bit of that Ginsberg poem “Supermarket in California”, only this is Paris in the daylight, but you could easily spot a Whitman or a Lorca pondering the side-streets or furisously scribbling on their tattered notebooks in small Parisian cafes, which are everywhere.

IMG_7006

I also loved stopping and looking into open windows.  If you squint you can actually see the very high ceilings in that apartment in the photo above.

IMG_7007

Parisians probably muttering to themselves “Darn tourists

IMG_7008

This small, cobbled side-street was pleasantly quiet, considering it was not very far from the Notre Dame where all the tourists flocked.

IMG_7010

Don’t be fooled by this seemingly empty(ish) main street.  I think it looked empty because of the  traffic.  The madness happened right after I clicked and then streets were engulfed in feet, cars and buses.

It feels almost more than just a couple of months since our trip to France.  Just last night, little T said to me, “Let’s go back to France mummy!”  I suggested somewhere we’ve never visited before.  She replied, “But France is my favourite place!”  I asked her – what will we do in France?  Half expecting her to say, go to Disneyland.  Instead she said, “I’m going to play in the sand.  Do my exercises with Auntie T, while you talk to Lola (lola means grandmother).  It’s no wonder that those are her happy memories of France, now all I have to do is convince her that we can also make those lovely memories elsewhere too.

S is for streets.

Linking this post up with PODcast’s #alphabetphotographyproject.

What is your favourite holiday memory?

P is for Paris

IMG_6958

The Eiffel tower, probably one of the most photographed structure in the world.

Our Paris adventure was a chaotic one.  If you’re thinking of visiting and value your sanity, especially when travelling with a little one, don’t visit during the peak season.  It’s just pure utter madness.

I remember talking to the teenage daughter of the lovely Irish woman we met at the camp, who also travelled with us on the same bus to Paris, she said, “I didn’t think Paris would be like that!  Somehow I imagined that it would be different”  I interrupted her and said “You mean like in the movies?”  She immediately agreed.  I said I think we’ve all seen too many romantic love stories set in Paris.  Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful city and certainly worth visiting … just not in the tourist season…  More on our Parisian adventure later.

P is for Paris.

Linking-up with PODcast’s #Alphabetphotographyproject.

 

La Croix du Vieux Pont Campsite & Eurocamp (A sort-of-Review)

At the La Croix du View Pont Campsite where we stayed, it wasn’t just Eurocamp (whose accommodations we used), there were other lovely accommodations as well.  In fact, probably the next time we go, we might try the others, just to know what it’s like.

While the little villa we stayed in was ample enough for a small family like ours, I had a few negatives:

  • The rooms were too small.  I’m a bit claustrophobic and the other rooms (though little T and I had the “double room”) felt way too small.  I’m wondering how a family with really tall kids would manage!
  • It looked a bit out-dated.  The cushions in the lounge/diner kept falling off and wouldn’t stay put.
  • The “clean” wasn’t done really well.  We found some not very pleasant things under the cushions.
  • My main peeve was the bathroom!  It was clean enough, but the shower kept falling off and was either too hot or too cold.

Other than that, it did feel like a home-away-from home.  My husband didn’t feel much of the negatives, so it could also be just me.  The place had everything you’d need from cooking utensils and even its own barbecue grill in the lawn, complete with deck-chairs.

On a positive note, I admire Eurocamp’s service and staff.  They were the best!  They were all accommodating and friendly, as soon as you report something, a young staff would hop on their bike and see to it right away.  One even left a really friendly/note when we were out, just to say that they dropped by and reminded us that we needed anything, there weren’t far away!  I think that’s what you call really good service.  Don’t you agree?

IMG_6878

As for the campsite itself, La Croix du View Pont, certainly catered to families!  As mentioned, they have a man-made beach, water-activities, two swimming pools, and one had a slide.  A lovely Irish lady recommended the kiddie disco, apparently great for kids and grown-ups as well, though we didn’t have the chance to see it.  You could also rent bikes and have a day-out of biking around the camp and also the nearby villages.  Sadly, we weren’t able to do that either.

IMG_6881

Little T does a “selfie” in a canoe ride.

IMG_7027

Little T enjoys the trampoline.

IMG_6884

And of course, we always came back to the man-made beach for some fun in the sand.

IMG_6894

Not so sure whether Victor, little T’s inflatable dinosaur enjoyed being buried in the sand though.

Have you stayed at La Cruix du Vieux Pont Campsite and used Eurocamp’s accommodations too?

Did you like it?

What’s your favourite holiday campsite or go-to-place?

This post is linked-up with #countrykids.

Walking around Vic-Sur-Aisne

The Eurocamp where we stayed at for ten days was located at the La Croix du Vieux Pont at Berny-Riviera, which was conveniently located right beside the very quaint French town called Vic-Sur-Aisne in Picardy (about 100 kilometres northeast of Paris).  The husband specifically chose this site because of its location – not that far from Paris and Disneyland.  As for me, the location was perfect because I was more interested in the French countryside.

Come and have a little walk with us around this very pretty little town:

IMG_6797

 First stop:  A little patisserie and boulangerie.  There’s little T pointing at the huge meringues by the shop window.  It was too big for her, she never finished it!  We bought very delicious and the softest croissants I’ve ever tasted in my life.  Sorry folks, I can never be a food-blogger – when it’s in front of me, taking photos is far from my mind.  Eating is more important!

IMG_6794

The Chateau de Vic-Sur-Aisne dominates the town with its very presence.  Unluckily for us, it was a bank holiday Monday, so we couldn’t go inside to have a look.  So instead we just took some photos outside, which actually was enough.

IMG_6799

Would’ve loved to try out this restaurant, but it always seemed shut!  One thing I’ve noticed, they don’t seem to open really long.  I’m wondering how businesses survive in France with what seems to me, very little opening hours?

IMG_6814

 I love walking through small towns in France, everywhere you look is pretty and quaint.

IMG_6806

Love the shutters and flower-boxes.

IMG_6812

And there’s little T of course, doing her funny dance in the middle of the plaza.

IMG_6823

The Town Hall.

IMG_6826

More shutters and flowers….

IMG_6827

Even this rusty shutters look pretty!

IMG_6845

We kept walking until we reached the Vic-Sur-Aisne French War Cemetery.

IMG_6847

This is another moving WWI cemetery/memorial where hundreds of French soldiers lay buried.

IMG_6859

I didn’t notice, until my husband pointed out to me that the crosses were actually back-to-back.  Two graves, not one.

IMG_6856

And if you look closely at all the names listed here, most of them died really young – men in their late teens, early 20s.  My husband said that just like the Somme, the place, Vic-Sur, was also a frontline in both WWI and WW2.

IMG_6860

I find it so surprising that inspire of being ravished by both wars, somehow France still managed to preserve so many of its lovely and historical buildings.  Thank goodness for that.  Like I mentioned on this post about the war memorial in the Somme – the sad and frightening thing about all this, is that war is still happening today as I type this.  As if we have never learned our lessons from our past. Will we ever?

IMG_6870

The walk ended in a lighter note as little T spied a playground near the woods.  Of course we had to stop and she had to play.

This post is linked-up with #CountryKids

And also:

Family Friday

 Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

N is for Notre Dame

Completed in 1335, the Notre-Dame de Paris is certainly a sight to behold.  According to my historian husband, during WW2, Hitler ordered the destruction of Paris, but the Commander in-charge (probably thinking of the Notre Dame, Eiffel and all other beautiful historical buildings in Paris), just wouldn’t or couldn’t do it.  Thank goodness for that!

IMG_6991

We spent a manic day in Paris and since it was peak-season, it was just sheer-utter madness and chaos.  The queue to go inside the Notre Dame was probably a kilometre long.  None of us had the patience to wait, especially in the heat.  Yes, you heard it right.  By then, the weather improved and summer was back with a vengeance.  I’m used to heat, in my country 30C is the norm and I’ve also lived in Ghana where it’s even more humid.  But that – the heat almost rivalled Manila’s temperature!

IMG_6994

I’m not really sure who these greenish statues are, but I just love the contrast against the Cathedral’s otherwise brownish facade.

I was really content just taking photos of the famous Cathedral by the river Seine, far from the maddening tourist crowd.

IMG_6988

A day in Paris isn’t enough.  But the next time we visit, it definitely won’t be in the summer!  Will do a different post on our rather un-pleasant experience in Paris.

Linking this post-up with PODcast’s #Alphabetphotographyproject.  Do check out the other lovely photographs in this link-up.

N is for Notre Dame.

Some much needed R&R

The first few days of our holiday were a bit manic, although to be fair, apart from our Disneyland trip, we didn’t exactly begin our days early and usually did our “touristy bit”, usually after lunch.  But even that could be tiring.

We finally had the chance for some much need rest and relaxation after our day in Disney and lucky for us, the rain seemed to have stopped.   That gave us a chance to explore our campsite.

IMG_6724

There was a lake where you could go fishing, canoeing and a few other activities.

IMG_6731

A man-made beach where you could just laze around and read while the little ones play with sand.  Later on, little T felt the need to change into her swimsuit and have a little dip.

IMG_6735

The first thing she said to me was “It’s cold mummy!”

IMG_6741

But of course that didn’t stop her from dipping in and out of the pool with her inflatable dinosaur whom she named Victor.

IMG_6751

But kids are never really cold are they?  Their boundless energy of running around like loonies keeps them warm.  Later in the week, the weather really made a big improvement and I actually felt really warm.  That little man-made beach became packed with visitors and the water suddenly became really nice and warm, just the way we like it.

This post is linked-up with #CountryKids.

 

Have you visited a campsite like this one?

Did you like it?

M is for Memorial (Thiepval Memorial)

IMG_7035

Yesterday was the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, for this week’s #alphabetphotography project, it’s only appropriate that my “M” stands for Memorial.

A famous American War Diplomat referred to the First World War as “the most seminal catastrophe of the 20th century, even worse than the WW2”.  And indeed it is evident in countries like France whose beautiful landscape became a horrifying battleground, you will know this as you drive around the French countryside where many graves will be seen dotted all over the fields.  Many times, I find myself holding my breath as we drove by and a lot of times, the mood inside our car became solemn driving past all those WWI cemeteries.

IMG_7039

During the last day of our holiday in France, we visited the Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, which is probably one of the most important war memorials where 72, 195 British and South African men perished in the famous battle.  These fallen soldiers’ bodies were never found.

IMG_7040

Little T looking out into the beautiful French landscape that has witnessed so much death in the past.

IMG_7056

If you visit, you will find an inscription that reads:

Here are recorded names of officers and men of the British armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrade in death.

IMG_7047

My husband found two of his Uncles names on the list of the dead soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.

IMG_7049

At the back of the memorial, you will find a cemetery where many of these graves were unknown soldiers, 300 British and also 300 French graves.

IMG_7051

Above photo is a  gravestone of one of the unknown British soldiers and in the French side, a single word is written, Inconnu (Unknown).

And on the cemetery’s cross of sacrifice are the words:

That the world may remember the common sacrifice of two and a half million dead, here have been laid side by side Soldiers of France and of the British Empire in eternal comradeship.

We left the Thiepval Memorial quiet, lost in each others thoughts, thinking of all those lives lost and all those bodies that still remaining missing today.

Have you visited a World War I memorial?

This post is linked-up with PODcast’s #alphabetphotographyproject.