ROAD TRIP, ANYONE?

Living in London, Ryan and I didn’t have a car, but as soon as a move to Bristol was on the cards, that all changed and Carla the little Corsa came into our lives.

And thank god she did.

As the summer months roll in and the weather grows warm, my favourite thing to do after work is to convince my boyfriend to jump in the car and whisk me off (I can’t drive) to the nearest beach to unwind. Only thirty minutes from our flat, we spend long evenings eating chips while staring out to sea, and even when it’s raining, we sit inside the cosy car dissecting our days.

At the weekend, however, we tend to venture a little further afield. Having family in all four corners of the UK, we spend a lot of time traveling to Cornwall, Whitby, and York – not to mention ferrying between our two lives in Bristol and London on an almost weekly basis. Ignoring petrol prices and fighting over what radio station we should tune into, we aren’t so good at taking care of the car, and probably don’t pay enough attention to driving safely during the summer.

If you’re guilty of doing the same, here are some tips to make sure you are driving safely on your next road trip.

Keep Hydrated

In the same way you wouldn’t run a marathon without a bottle of water to hand, your car can’t travel long distances without any H2o, so be sure to top up your radiator with water mixed with coolant. Although water is technically all that is required, a mixture of the two will prevent the water from boiling and causing the engine to overheat. When it comes to hydration, you mustn’t forget your humans, either. Both the driver and passengers of the vehicle should have a bottle of water to hand each in order to keep hydrated throughout the journey.

Stay Cool

As mentioned, it’s important to make sure your car’s cooling system is in good working order during the warmer months. Older cars should be inspected regularly by a professional (especially if you’re heading off on a long journey) as the coolant can leak.

It’s important the driver avoids overheating too, so if you’re lucky enough to have air con installed in your vehicle, don’t be shy and turn it on. Alternatively, roll those windows down and enjoy the breeze.

Check Your Tyres

Car tyres are the legs of your vehicle and are one of the most important parts, so make sure you are keeping tabs on how they’re holding up. You can start by checking tread depths with a 20p piece, and if the outer band of the coin disappears from view, the tyre is safe. You should also check the pressure of your tyres by following the manufacturer’s guidelines to prolong their life and maximise fuel consumption.

If you need a little guidance on tyre safety, find out more and book your car tyres conveniently at Point S.

Throw Some Shade

Sounds obvious, but make sure to keep the sun out of your eyes while driving. Make sure you always have a pair of good sunglasses to hand and use your sun shield whenever you need to.

Whether you drive on a daily basis or are heading out on the open road this summer, make sure to take care of your car as much as you do yourself.

Happy Road Trippin’!

*this is a sponsored post*

HOW TO SPEND 48HRS IN PARIS (PART II)

When we woke up on the Tuesday, we checked out of our hotel, Le Chambre du Marais, and left our coats and bags behind to explore the local area. Our first stop of the day (surprisingly) wasn’t breakfast, but the Musee Picasso Paris. A gorgeous, modern, brightly lit building filled with some of Picasso’s greatest works; I was pleased to find that the Olga Picasso exhibition was still running. I love modern art and really enjoyed delving into the history of the artist himself. The museum focuses on his relationships with family, particularly his son, wife and lovers – and I’m nosey, so I loved it. Mum, on the other hand, wasn’t overly impressed and was keen to move on…

Before we did though, we were in desperate need of some caffeine and Parisian pastry, so we headed up to the roof of the museum to soak up some Vitamin D and indulge in a little breakfast. Everything was really warm and fresh and very fairly priced, so head up there if you’re after something light on a sunny day.

After a lengthy turn about the gift shop, we then headed off on our walk, heading towards a garden where a grandiose statue stands in a perfectly preened square. It’s here where you feel like you’re experiencing true Parisian architecture. Everything is immaculate and beautiful and romantic. I would have liked to have stopped for a coffee on this square as there were plenty of places to choose from, but we had lots to fit in, so kept on.

Mum is in charge of the productions her school puts on at the end of each summer, and last year, she chose Les Miserables – an ambitious choice for a primary school. Since then, she has wanted to visit Victor Hugo’s house, so in we went. We had a not-so-chic moment here where mum thought the security at the museum asked her to leave her bag at the door (and she did?!) and the guy on the door also thought I was under 22 – win.

His house was a little old and spooky and I was fascinated by the fact his wallpaper and carpets matched and clashed, something mum tells me is a trend returning to the world of interiors. (Even if it isn’t, I’m into it.) There were no English guides left as we walked around, which was a shame, but we sort of got the gist of what was going on. Once we had browsed the floors of Hugo’s house (definitely worth a visit if you are a fan, not so much if not), we strolled towards the church a friend of mine got married in just before Christmas. It’s such a gorgeous church, and is worth a visit even if it’s of no sentimental value. It’s epic, with high ceilings and statues adorning the sides, so definitely go if you like impressive buildings.

After we left the church, we grabbed a coffee to go and strolled towards the Notre Dame. Over bridges, along gorgeous streets, we followed our old school map towards the cathedral.

I was so, so impressed. I have only ever seen it with scaffolding across the front, but the building itself is what can only be described as epic. The intricate detail of the exterior and the huge spires that catapult from the top of it are so impressive. And the queue goes down super quickly, so don’t be put off and take a wander inside.

We crossed over the bridge towards the Latin Quarter (a very busy part of the city) to find Shakespeare & Company, a bookshop I have seen featured on Olivia’s blog a couple of times. A shop you’d expect to find on Diagon Alley; it’s all old and higgledy – piggeldy and you can’t take photographs inside. Look out for the quotes and clippings on the walls – I found these more impressive than the shelves of books they have inside.

On the doorstep of the store, you’ll find a lucky dip box, where you pay 6 euros to take a chance on their literary taste buds. Mum bought one for her friend, to say thank you for the clippings and recommendations and I walked away with a tote bag I use almost every day.

The night before, we checked out prices of boat rides along The Seine, as we wanted to see the city from a different angle. We chose to go from Du Pont Neuf, where tickets for an hour long boat ride cost just £12.00 (and if you grab a leaflet, you get a couple of euros off, which was a bargain!). You don’t have to book, so we just went along, picked up tickets and had an ice cream while we waited for it to arrive.

I normally hate tourist sodden attractions such as these but I honestly had the best time. The trip was so informative (mum was most pleased the guide looked like Paolo Nutini) and we learnt so much about Paris – my favourite piece of trivia being that the city expanded from an island and they built outwards, which is why there are so many bridges. I found that fascinating. The boat rides span across the whole city, and take you right back to where you started. If it’s a sunny day, I would highly recommend this boat tour. Once we got off the boat, we found a little square, Place Dauphine, where we sat on a bench and enjoyed a coffee outside a coffee shop, watching the world go by.

We wandered around St Germain for a while (I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed) before crossing the bridge back over to The Louvre, to see if we would get in. Unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays – worth noting – so that was a little unsuccessful. However, we enjoyed wandering around all the same and I got to take my favourite snap of the trip.

We went back to our hotel to pick up our things and wandered around Le Marais to find a quick bite to eat, but ended up grabbing a baguette and jumping on the Eurostar instead. We slept most of the way home and dad was waiting to pick us up from King’s Cross. 

We honestly had the best 48 hours in Paris you could imagine. Of course, we didn’t see absolutely everything – The Pantheon; inside the Louvre; Musee d’Orsay; another church mum had her eye on. But I suppose it’s a great excuse to go back.

If you have any questions about any of the places we visited, do give me a shout, or if you have any further recommendations for our next trip, let me know. I hope you have enjoyed these posts. I know they’re a little different from my usual ones, but sometimes that’s not such a bad thing.

A bientot, mes amis!

HOW TO SPEND 48HRS IN PARIS (PART I)

If you are trawling the Internet looking for posts about how to spend 48hrs in Paris (much like mum and I did before we went) you’ve found the holy grail. With the help of the wonderful Lou Lou in Paris and an embarrassingly old-school (but actually pretty great) guidebook mum bought a couple of days before we set off, we managed to plan and get to see everything we wanted to in just 48 (very busy) hours. If you are looking for a whistle stop tour of the world’s most romantic city, then you’re in the right place. Read on to find out how to best utilise your time – and squeeze in most of the sights – in under 48 hours.

We arrived in Paris at around 10.30am, and as soon as we hopped off the Eurostar, we headed north to Montmartre, as we were staying in Le Marais and knew we wouldn’t get the chance to head up there again. The area is most famous for the grandiose Sacre Coeur and, of course, the Moulin Rouge, but is now a haven for hipsters; sex shops selling toys in the shape of the Eiffel Tower (for those who love it more than others, I guess!) and enough graffiti to rival Shoreditch. Although we didn’t find any absinthe or spot Satine, it was nice to be hit in the face by two iconic buildings as soon as we arrived.

Mum’s friend had given her some newspaper clippings about Paris ahead of our trip, and within these, she found an article written by Florence Welch (mum’s ultimate woman crush) who recommended visiting Le Rue des Martyrs, an avenue close to Montmartre, so we just had to go. There are tons of gorgeous eateries to choose from along the route, as well as lots of really cool shops. We decided on a breakfast of coffee and warm breads with condiments at MARLETTE (would highly recommend) before heading to the Metro to check into our hotel, Le Chambre du Marais.

Once we had unpacked our things and put our feet up for half a second, we set out on our self-made walking tour of the city. Le Marais is quite a cool part of Paris and is quite close to the epic Centre Pompidou, so we walked via there, just so mum could see it. If you have time, definitely head up to Restaurant Cafe Georges at the top where you can enjoy a drink, a snack or some lunch while taking in impressive views of the whole of the city.

From the Pompidou, we simply followed The Seine and allowed it to guide us. It was a gorgeous day, so we just sort of wandered, trying to catch our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower en route and listening to the sounds of accordion players and watching the happy sunbathers relax along the banks of the Seine.

As mum’s a huge Dan Brown fan, she was really keen to get to The Louvre, so we stomped it to there. We stopped off for a gelato in the sun and spotted these chaps in front of a church. We thought they were quite a nice contrast to the romantic architecture of Paris, so I took a snap of them. Do make sure to constantly look around as you wander; Paris is beautiful and is filled with hidden highlights.

By the time we got to the museum, it was actually closed for the day and was also closed the following day (always closed on Tuesdays), so we didn’t manage to get inside at all, but would definitely suggest heading in if you can. It’s free (which I didn’t realise until I went in December). If you get time, definitely explore Jardin des Tuileries that are situated in front of the pyramid. On a summer’s day, it’s such a nice place to just hang out and soak up the busy atmosphere. Plus, this woman who you might have seen on my Instagram is #assgoals.

We wandered back towards our hotel from The Louvre, popping into shops and having a nosey along the way, laughing at how all coffee shops place their tables in such a way that customers can just sit and stare at passersby. We hopped across the river to try and peek into the Musee D’Orsay but the queues were huge and we were in need of a rest, so we walked on home. We did come across this street, the Rue St Sauveu, though, which was filled with really gorgeous bars, eateries, shops and intimate galleries and is definitely worth a mooch if you’re in the area.

Once we had chilled out, showered and changed back at the hotel, we headed out for dinner on the recommendation of the lovely Lou. She had given us the most amazing Google map of recommendations for places to eat and drink and we decided on Biglove Caffe, which you’ll find on Rue Debelleyme, just around the corner from our hotel. It serves fresh pasta dishes and doughy pizzas, as well as antipasti and a gorgeous selection of wines and I cannot recommend it enough – we had a really good time with food on this trip, thanks to Lou, so thank you, lady!

Of course, we had to walk off our carb-heavy dinner, so what better excuse than to head to the Eiffel Tower for the hourly nighttime light show the residents despise? I, of course, loved the flashing lights and mum enjoyed the novelty of it all as it was her first time in the city. We walked around the tower and along the banks of the river onto the other side, passing by the amazing Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Flamme de la Liberte before hopping onto the Metro for one of the most comfortable night’s sleep back at our hotel.

Stay tuned for what we got up to on day 2 of our 48 hours in Paris…

THE GALLERY

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I’m not an illustrator.

Nor do I paint or draw.

And I certainly don’t know much about art, except for knowing what I do and do not like. I’m drawn to portraits, neon strokes and photographs, mainly. I like pictures of faces, stories and things that hurt my eyes or make a statement. I like art both old and new, but mostly modern and colourful.

But the thing I love most about the art world? The place in which the pieces are housed.

Art galleries are a place of stillness, quiet and calm in cities normally abuzz with activity. They’re a place for opinions and unrushed time. They’re the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. I particularly like the gift shops at the end. I always buy the postcards. The black and white ones. Always with faces in them.

But which are my favourites?

Although The Met mesmerised me, The Tate Modern will never be topped. Not only is it located in one of my favourite parts of London, but it was also one of my favourite first date spots shared with Ryan. I’d known him for no more than three weeks when we headed there one Saturday afternoon. After wandering the halls, we sat side by side on the floor of the Turbine Hall, just so we could chat some before we went our separate ways for the evening. We’d already had coffee, wandered along the river and walked as slowly as we possibly could, but we still had more to say to each other, so we sat awhile. You know what it’s like when you first meet someone: so little time, so much to say.

Although The Tate makes for the perfect date, The Saatchi in Sloane Square is dear to me, too. Filled with space, light from the large windows and deathly quiet at anytime of day, it’s a great way to clear the mind. Or just look at the pretty pictures, of course.

And The National Portrait. A classic I love for no other reason than because I like to look at paintings and drawings of people. Plus, the building itself is epic.

I know art galleries can seem intimidating and it can sometimes feel like you don’t belong if you don’t know your Pollock from your Hockney or you’re not wearing something other than a pair of jeans, but they’re free for a reason: art is universal and all are welcome.

What’s your favourite gallery in the world and why? I’d love to know.

THE RESOLUTIONS

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Each year, I make promises to myself.

To take steps to make this year a little bit better than the last. To enhance my life and move forward. And 2017 will be no different.

As I reflect on last year’s goals, I have come to realise that I have achieved 3/5 of them, which – for such a busy year – is pretty good going if you ask me. Carrying over my wish to actively help a chosen charity into this year, here’s what I will be focusing my energy on over the next twelve months…

Wear My Wardrobe

I have closets in Bristol and London. I have two chests of drawers, four shelves and umpteen boxes of shoes that reside in each available corner of my flat. Why then, do I seem to end up wearing the same five things to work each week and shoving on a pair of mom jeans and a jumper at the weekend? I’ve decided that, this year, as 2017 could potentially be our final year on earth before we implode from Trump’s bad decision-making and the fallout from Brexit, I am going to dress as if each day were my last. Dunagrees on a Monday? Sure. Stripes and spots? Why not?

If, by the end of January, there is anything I haven’t taken off its hanger or uncrumpled from its drawer, I am going to sell it on Depop or hand it over to charity for someone else to love. Watch this space.

Quit the Junk

I love trash TV. So much so I wrote about my adoration for it a few months back. However, as much as I worship it as a means to switch off, I have come to realise it does nothing for my creativity levels and that the more time spent watching things on catch up, the less I read and write. This year, I am going to unwind with books, notepads and pens rather than drifting off to the dulcet tones of Chigwell or Cheyne Walk crackling from my laptop.

Geek it Up

Last year, I said I wanted to learn how to code. I had a blast at it and decided that I simply couldn’t dedicate that much time to something that didn’t involve people (I hate hiding behind my screen for eight hours a day as it is) so put an end to that digital adventure.

I do still want to channel my desire to learn into something else, though.

I recently watched Caitlin Moran giving a talk to creatives about the best advice she had for them. My favourite piece of advice was to be as geeky and interested in what you love as possible. She said ‘you cannot be too obsessed with what it is you’re going to do for a career’. So, with this in mind, I am going to sign up for writing courses (that I can afford), watch YouTube videos on how to be a better wordsmith and work hard each night to get to where I want to be.

So, aside from aiming to drop two dress sizes by summer and swearing to exercise as hard as Kayla Itsines, those are the top three things I want to focus on this year. I pretty much want to wear clothes and work hard. Should be easy, right?

What are your resolutions for 2017? I’d love to know.