Petit Paris: Halloween

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween! Of course when I said this to a French person this morning, I got a little bemused smile, as if to say: 'ah, you Brit, with your silly customs.' Yes I'm half Yank and grew up in Britain, so where I come from it's always been the the done thing to celebrate Halloween. In France on the other hand, it appears no one takes much notice. I haven't seen any signs that Halloween is celebrated here. I've even been invited to a French friend's place for dinner tonight and when I mentioned it was Halloween, she said as second thought: 'oh yes, maybe I'll bake a pumpkin pie.' 

I've been dressing up and throwing or attending Halloween parties since I was little, so this was a little odd. But when in Rome, do as the Romans, so this year I won't really be celebrating Halloween, meaning no pumpkin carving, no big bowl of sweets and no silly witch costumes. I'll just have to be content with nosing at friends' photos on Facebook. Of course if I'm in Paris this time next year, I'm definitely throwing a Halloween party!

Morning Monday

Monday, 28 October 2013

I've been having a bit of a tough time in Paris recently, which is difficult to admit when I'm living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. These difficult days have been a bit more regular recently - probably something to do with the shorter, darker days, the looming winter and not being in the city often enough. Travelling backwards and forwards to London and living out of a suitcase has finally taken its toll. It's made me realise that I'm not learning the language, which considering I've been here nearly a year (albeit one week a month in London or elsewhere) is disappointing. And of course friends forget I'm here, or invite me to events that I can't go to. So I'm trying to take small steps to feeling better and more balanced. Inspired by Trina at La La Lovely's heartfelt post about hard days, here are a few things that help me when I'm having a tough time: 

+ Exercise: when I don't do enough, I feel it, which usually means feeling a bit miserable and grumpy - I know I haven't done nearly enough recently, so on Saturday I dug out my old pair of pink ballet shoes and took a ballet class with a friend in Le Marais - my first in nearly five years. I plie'd, I jumped, I stretched and I sweated. I can hardly walk today, my thighs are so stiff, but it was such good exercise and a real mood booster. I'll definitely be going back next week and I'm signing up for yoga lessons too.

+ Reading: I usually try to have a book on the go, as it's a good distraction and one of the best ways to switch my mind off. I'm currently reading Dominion by C J Samson

+ Cooking/baking: I finding that cooking and baking takes my mind off what's worrying me - there's nothing more therapeutic than chopping an onion or mixing flour, eggs, milk and sugar in a bowl. 

+ Taking baths: especially when I'm feeling tired too after a long day, I pour some Neal's Yard Aromatic Foaming Bath Oil into a hot bath and soak for a good 40minutes or until my fingers start to look like prunes.

+ Cleaning, organising and sorting: Tidy room, tidy mind. On my little walk in the rain through le Marais yesterday, I chanced upon Fleux and found a nice wicker basket to store all my books and papers that have been cluttering the floor under my desk. I then purchased a couple of these boxes from Muji to keep my makeup and cosmetics in, and a small notepad to write down any new French words that I learn and this clear ring binder from Muji to tide any loose papers.  

+ Walking: I'm spoilt for choice of pretty buildings and streets to look at in Paris, and just five minutes walking up our street is an amazing view of the Sacre Coeur.

+ Taking deep breaths: as Trina says in her post, this may sound obvious, but it's one of the best ways to try and calm myself down. And even having a good cry, helps release the pressure.  

+ Drinking cups of tea: being a Brit, I like a nice cup of tea. So much so that I even bring tea bags (especially Clipper) back with me from England! I now have three jars filled with different teas, ranging from normal builders tea to ginger or raspberry and echinacea. 
Pont Neuf by Marika Jayne via La La Lovely 

Paris Balconies

Friday, 25 October 2013

There's nothing better on a grey and dreary day in Paris, than looking up at the beautiful Haussmann buildings lining the streets and spotting the intricately-detailed wrought iron balconies filled with foliage. The swirls and curls perfectly frame the windows, creating a monochrome silhouette; grey against cream stone that adds a little art to the facades. 

Looking up to appreciate the beauty of the Parisian architecture is particularly important to me at the moment, as I've been finding looking down at the streets increasingly difficult. Not only is there a overwhelming amount of dog doo, creating obstacle courses on the pavements, but there's also an upsetting amount of homeless sleeping rough and begging on the metro. Recently, not a day has gone by that I'm not asked for money. It's something that has been bothering me more and more since I moved here, something that makes me feel incredibly helpless, but also very grateful for what I have. So although this post may sound a little down, it's meant in a positive way and a little reminder to myself and to you to keep looking up and appreciating beauty when it's in front of you! Have wonderful weekends.

Photography by Marissa Cox. 

Turquoise, shells and pottery

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

 When mum and I moved into her little house in Canterbury, I was 18 and upset with her that we had to move. Not only was I upset that we were downsizing to a much smaller, 1930s run down semi, previously owned by a builder, his wife and five children (you can imagine the chaos - they had two sets of bunk beds in the small room I moved into), covered in garish floral wallpaper - the kind that had clearly been there for decades - but my parents were also getting divorced, making the move all the more poignant and painful. I hated my new room and the new house that besides the kitchen cabinets and bathroom suite, literally needed to be gutted. But over the years mum has made it her own, adding personal touches, memorabilia from travels, and decorating it to suit her taste and style. I think she's done a great job, and I'm incredibly proud of her and its transformation, so thought I would snap a few of my favourite spaces and corners, and of course Lily the cat who I can't believe is now 14. She doesn't look a day over five. 

+ The turquoise pots mum made herself. She's been making pottery on and off for years and now has a potting studio at the back of the garden. 

+ The antelope skull she inherited when she used to be the Education Officer at Howletts and Port Lympne Zoo Parks. I practically grew up at the zoo, feeding the animals and playing with the baby gorillas who were being hand-reared by the keepers when their mothers rejected them. Feels like a surreal dream now.

+ The driftwood, pinecones and corks she's collected over the years from travels and of course bottles of wine - I love how she's displayed them in glass jars, something I've been trying to replicate at home. 

+ The inky coloured carnival glass jug and glasses she inherited from her Norwegian grandmother, I think. Her father is Norwegian, and mum grew up in California. 

+ The shells she bought back from Kenya, where she lived in the 70s, after leaving the US to study tropical veterinary science and where she met and married my father.

Let me know what you think? Have you ever moved into a house that you hated, but ended up falling in love with? 

Paris in Pictures

Monday, 21 October 2013

I got back to Paris late Saturday night from London, with the hope that I'd arrive in Paris with the energy to go for a glass of wine. I'd actually booked my ticket for early Saturday evening with this notion in mind. Of course I felt just the opposite; I'm not a great sleeper, but there's something about the rhythmic movement of a train that always makes me feel seriously dopey or sends me to sleep. So I trekked home and we put on our new obsession, Game of Thrones. I'll be quite glad when we've finished the 3rd series, so I can have my life back! 

No drinks Saturday night, meant I had a nice long sleep and woke feeling quite fresh, so after a hearty English breakfast, we walked to the 10th arrondissement near the canal so I could take a few snaps. It wasn't really sunny out yesterday, but the temperature was mild and the light bright, so I managed to capture the above. I particularly love the photos of the 10th Mairie (town hall) at the top. Which is your favourite?

Photography by Marissa Cox. 

Toast November

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I couldn't help but give Toast's new November collection shoot a mention. It's truly gorgeous and embodies everything that winter is and should be - that's if I were living out in the wilderness a la Into the Wild, of course. I can just imagine trekking off into the woods, clad in a cosy cardigan, hands in knitted mittens and shoulders draped with a woollen blanket. I'll have to be content with the cobbled streets and boulevards of Paris (I know, terrible right?), but will hopefully have central heating and a mug of hot chocolate waiting for me on my return. The photos were taken by Nicholas James Seaton, who has beautifully captured the raw beauty of winter, with images of snow-capped mountains soaring into a hazy, frost bitten sky.

Weekend in Pictures: Canterbury

Monday, 14 October 2013

We drove over to Canterbury on Saturday morning to celebrate my mum's 60th. Doesn't she look good for 60?! We bought her that beautiful bouquet of flowers, her favourite Pomander candle from Diptyque and I had organised her a surprise dinner at Deeson's Restaurant with various friends. If you ever drive through Canterbury and are looking for a good place to eat, I suggest you book a table at Deeson's. They serve up tasty British, homegrown food - they source produce locally and they grow and rear much of their menu at their smallholding - their staff are super friendly and helped make mum's evening special. And if you have a weakness for sticky toffee pudding like I do, you won't be disappointed.

We spent Sunday roaming around the cathedral, avoiding the rain and I wanted to practise with my new Canon 50mm 1.4F lens, which I've just bought. Then we had lunch - fish & chips, sausages & mash, and of course Fentiman's ginger beer, one of my favourite drinks, at Quex Barn - a new restaurant/cafe that's an offshoot of Quex Park's Farmer's Market and Restaurant, which also sources local produce as well as growing its own.

Snuggle up, winter is coming

Friday, 11 October 2013

Image credit [here] photo by Magdalena Bj√∂rnsdotter 
Ok, so I snatched that line ('winter is coming') from Game of Thrones, which has become my new guilty pleasure in the last few weeks. I'm already midway through season two. If you haven't watched it, I urge you too, it is as good and addictive as everyone says. So I'm a convert and not afraid to admit it. But back to winter, I thought the phrase seemed rather apt, considering it is seriously cold in Paris today. The heating's on and all I want to do is stay indoors and snuggle up in cosy knits under a huge blanket in front of the TV. The images above and below perfectly describe my mood today.

Image credits: 1. [here] 2. [here] 3. [here] 4. [here]

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