Sunday, 26 February 2012

The perfect French Sunday

(fur coat I was going to buy for €8 but it was too damage to make it worth fixing)
(Blue bag: €1, brown bag: €5, striped top: €1)
(Shirt: flea market, jeans: TopShop, glasses: RayBan, necklace: Barcelona)

I had the perfect French Sunday today: woke up early to go to the flea market with a friend and then went for an afternoon walk in the botanical garden and the area around the Montpellier arc de triomphe before we finished off our day with some coffee and macaroons.  It was a really lovely and relaxing finish to the weekend.  The weather has been perfect recently and it feels like spring is just around the corner for us.  A lot of my friends braved going to the beach on Saturday but for me it's not warm enough yet.  It needs to be at least 25 degrees Celsius for that.

 I had a bit of a farce with my retake this week.  I originally thought it was on Wednesday so I went and it turned out it was going to be on Saturday.  So I went to my exam yesterday at 8am thinking I would just retake the lecture that I had failed the exam for (French Literature of the Middle Ages, 16th and 17th century) so I revised for that.  But it turns out we were being assessed on the work we had done for our seminars so I had to write a literary commentary about a passage from Madame Bovary.  A novel I haven't thought about since I finished my module on it in November.  What a nightmare.  I won't be missing the university here when I leave that's for sure.  But the exam is done now and my efforts for getting up at 6:45 were rewarded when Wales beat England in the rugby as well as winning the Triple Crown.  I was a happy lady last night.

I'm back at university tomorrow after two weeks off.  It'll be good to get back into the swing of things and have a semblance of a routine again.  I also have the other half visiting in one week tomorrow which I'm really looking forward to.  I haven't seen him since November so it'll be nice to see him again.

I reached 50 followers today which is very exciting, thank you all for reading and all your lovely comments I really appreciate it! I hope you've all had a great weekend

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Great Britain, Keep My Bones

(photos are taken from over a two year period in various parts of the UK such as Plymouth, Bath, Portsmouth, Cardiff and London)

My love affair with all things United Kingdom related began when I was 5 and my dad taught me my first English sentence to send me off on my first day of school with: 'Hello my name is Nina'.  That was the start of my long and ongoing love for the United Kingdom.  

The lessons in my international school were all taught in English.  When I first went to school I spoke German and Dutch having lived in Holland for 5 years but not a word of English except the phrase my dad had taught me that I used as an answer to everything.  But according to my memory learning English was a fast and painless process, one day I couldn't communicate with my classmates and then the next day I could.  My maths problems were to do with ‘if Bill has one pound and the apples cost twenty pence how many apples can he buy?’ The only difference was that we never used inches and miles.  We celebrated the Queen's Golden Jubilee where we decorated the gym with blue, white and red ribbons and sang the national anthem.  Today I can sing verse one and two of the God Save The Queen but can never seem to get past the second line of the German national anthem.  I learnt all about the United Kingdom without ever having actually visited.  I read about what the British girls liked to wear and do in magazines such as Mizz and Sugar which were imported into Oman.

I visited the UK for the first time when I was 13, it was around that time when my mum's favorite read became The Good Schools Guide because we were in the process of choosing a boarding school for me.  We had a short list of 5 school we chose to look at and drove around the country visiting them.  At first I didn't like the UK very much.  Compared to Oman, where it's illegal to have a dirty car and to beg, the UK felt a little grimy and shabby.  I went to boarding school when I was 14 and that was the big moment when I really grew to love the UK.

I couldn't have asked for a better place to grow up in and become a teenager.  There is something very special about the United Kingdom.  The country in itself has so much to offer.  From the amazing Yorkshire Dales, to the valleys of Wales, the Devonshire coast and the amazing big cities like London and Leeds.  The weather is notorious but that's what makes it so fitting.  But it's the little things about the great attitude that the British have and their way of life that really strike a chord with me: the late night chippies, polite and dignified queuing, the crazy stag and hen dos that you see partying on the streets on a Friday night, rugby weekends, Bank Holiday, fish and chips by the seaside, endless reruns of Come Dine With Me, people saying sorry for everything, custard creams, tea with too much milk, Mr Green telling you to go to cashier number 3, Harry Potter, festivals in the rain, Welsh daffodils in March, crumpets, celebrities turning on the Christmas lights in November, TopShop, double decker buses, cider and black and of course the Royal Family.

I miss the UK so very much when I'm in France, sadly I've not had the money to visit since I left last June so I'm making the best out of my life on the continent and for now will look forward to spending my summer back in Britain.

(NB: I wrote Great Britain in the blog title because Great Britain includes England, Scotland and Wales.  The United Kingdom is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  I've not been to Northern Ireland yet hence 'Great Britain Keep My Bones)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

I wanna be the King of Spain - Barcelona day three

(shoes made out of chocolate)
(translation: the smallest hamster in the world)

So this is the final installment of photos from my Barcelona visit last 2 weekends ago.  Can't believe it was already more than a week ago, it feels like so much longer.

So on my last day my friend and I set out to grab some churros in town.  We ended up eating them in a tapas bar off La Rambla (famous for it's street performers) where my friend lives.  It was a very touristic restaurant and we ended up paying more for the churros than we should have done but it was a great restaurant and you could see all the tapas laid out, plus it was great for people watching.  Whilst we were sat there we hard a whole mix of languages, from Dutch to Swiss German, English and French.  That's what I love about big cities: they are such melting pots and full of interesting people.

After our churros we went for a walk and initial set off to Montjuïc (a hill in Barcelona) because I wanted to see The Palau Nacional which houses the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.  But we read the map wrong and ended up walking in the complete opposite direction of where we were heading.  So we ended up seeing more of Barcelona than we bargained for.  But it was a beautiful day and I just couldn't get enough of the beautiful buildings.  In the end we took a metro to  Montjuïc, which was the perfect last tourist visit for me. The views of Barcelona were spectacular. What I loved about the Barcelona's location is the huge variety.  It is right by the sea but then you get the spectacular views of the hills.  Perfect location really.

On the way back we got caught up in a huge parade on La Rambla which was part of the Castell celebrations that day.  Castells are human pyramids which are built during festivals predominately in Catalonia.  The parade had lots of groups of drummers and each drum had their own animal mascot.  We saw one group that had a squirrel and another which was lead by a huge paper-mache lizard.

And that was the end of my trip.  I had a long train journey back the next day which took me through the beautiful countryside of Spain again.  I'm already planning a return visit in the summer when the temperatures are warmer so we can go to the beach and enjoy Barcelona in baking heat.  The city has really left a strong impression with me, I won't be forgetting that visit in a hurry.

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