20 October 2016

Paris, Day Three - The Eiffel Tower

Golly, I am behind - I was hoping to get all the Paris posts up before I vanished off to Prague for a few days last week but to no avail. Still, 'going on holiday too often' is really not the kind of problem I can complain about!

Back to Paris for now then, and the tales of a trip I took with my brother, my kids, and his kids. Three pairs of siblings in all! Travelling with all the kids was amazing because, not only are they all brilliant and funny, but it forces you to take things at a slower pace than I usually would. Hence, our day trip to the Eiffel Tower really did take pretty much all day!

Now, I know I'm not offering information on a really new, original, cutting-edge attraction here... a visit to the Eiffel Tower is probably the most obvious thing you can do in Paris - but there must be a reason for that, right? It was definitely high on the priority list for the kiddos anyway, who were eager to see this iconic monument in real life!

We headed in via the Trocedero metro station as we'd heard it gave the most dramatic approach and we really wanted to kids to have that 'wow' factor on first seeing the tower - and we weren't disappointed!

Progress over to the tower itself was slow of course - with numerous stops for photo-taking and climbing on things. My little niece was particularly taken with the beautiful carousel!

So far so good, right? Twas at the next stage we erred...

The lads were all determined to walk up the steps as much was possible, and this was initially the plan for all of us (my brother and myself carrying the littlest one and the pushchair between us). By the time we got to the bottom of the tower, however, the little lady had fallen fast asleep in her pushchair, making the whole carrying issue a little trickier.

No problem, we decided - the boys could go up the steps as planned with my bro, and I'd take the girls up in the lift so mademoiselle could snooze. We'd all meet at the first floor. Simple?

Well, not so much. We'd not counted on the queue for the lift taking over an hour (it looked deceptively short!), or the fact that the lift doesn't actually stop at the first floor on the way up. Oops. We'd avoided walking up so we didn't have to carry the baby and the pushchair between two adults, but now I found myself carrying them both, one under each arm, down the same amount of steps. Oh, and did I mention my crippling fear of heights?

(Of course, the lift does stop off at the first floor on the way back down, so I could have just stayed on to be safely delivered to the arranged meeting point,.. but did this occur to be before going down all the steps? No. No it didn't)

My brother and the boys will have been patiently waiting for us as planned though, right? Also a no. Turns out they'd gone wandering looking for us back up on the second floor. Cue panic.

Eventually though, we were reunited! I don't know if I was more relieved to be with the boys again, or to find that they had left us some of the picnic! It was a well earned drink that accompanied our feast of bread and cheese!

Once we were out of food and everyone had recovered from the stress of separation, it was time to head further up to view the city from the top of the tower. This time we all went together!

As I mentioned, I'm really not a fan of heights, and the lift wasn't my favourite thing in the world (it just. kept. going), but I was surprisingly okay-ish with being at the top. I don't know if it's because we were SO high up that it didn't seem real anymore? It was the second floor that freaked me out most!)

It's hard to be a coward around the kids so I did my best to be brave (badly, sure, but you gotta try!) - I was pretty happy to be back on the ground in the end though!

The next logical step was, of course, ice cream! Then a good long play in the park before making our way back to the hostel.

I think I'd originally counted aside a couple of hours for our Eiffel Tower visit, and we were out for closer to seven! Though we definitely made sure we'd left plenty of time for tea!

Our search for an evening meal took us to the rather brilliant BBOYZ - a hip-hop themed burger bar. This was right up my brother's street - he's always loved hip-hop way more than a ginger-haired white boy from West Yorkshire should.

I was more interested in the food though, and I loved my 'Le Cyprus Hill' burger - peppers, avocado, salsa and nachos along with cheese topped my big juicy burger! 

Stuffed and tired, it was time to roll on back to bed in the hopes of recovering enough energy for another day of exploring this beautiful city!

6 October 2016

Degustabox - September 2016

Degustabox delivery day is always one of my favourite days of the month - nothing gets you through a tough day at work like an awesome delivery of exciting foodstuffs!

Overall, September's wasn't my favourite box - few things had me truly excited on opening this one - but I think that just speaks for the usual stands of the subscription because it was still full of some tip-top quality items:

Metcalfe's Popcorn Thins (RRP £1.00) - I've had these popcorn thins before and think they're lovely! I do prefer the milk chocolate version, but the dark chocolate makes me feel more like a grown up!

Get Fruity Bars (RRP £1.00) - I usually try to pass the fruit bars off on the kids, who don't always realise I'm fobbing them off with a 'healthy' treat, but neither of them like pineapple so I thought I'd try this one myself : actually very tasty and the pineapple, coconut and lime flavour combo is a winner!

Cape Drinks (RRP £1.59 each) - You know that anything tea in it usually goes down a treat with me - and the Cape drinks are no exception! These fruity drinks with anti-oxidant packed rooibos tea have added vitamins, ginseng and botanical extracts, but most importantly, they're delicious!

Teisseire Sirop (RRP £2.99) - This is definitely a fancier version of the squash I usually buy! No added sugar and a lovely unique flavour means this is popular with everyone in the house!

Cirio Borlotti Beans (RRP £1.89 for a pack of three) - I'll admit that I don't really know what to do with beans that haven't already been canned in tomato sauce ready to be heated and poured over toast. My brother cooks proper food though, and he's got some good suggestions for me! 

Mrs Crimble's Fusilli (RRP £1.99) - I generally love pasta but sadly no one in the house likes mushrooms so this one is wasted on us a bit, but I'll pass it on to a good home where it can be appreciated!

Miso Tasty Soup (RRP £3.65) - The spicy soup is the perfect thing to have in my cupboard at work for emergency lunch options, especially now that it's getting cold!

Hartley's Jelly Pots (4 x RRP £0.50) - Who doesn't like jelly? Well, apparently my kids don't, but that's ok, means I get to keep these cute lil jelly pots to myself! My favourite is the tropical flavour!

Say Yes to No Bread Chips (RRP £1.49) - I wasn't particularly excited about these as I've had toasted bread snacks before that have just been really dry and tasteless, but these were actually pretty nice - thinner than ones I've had previously these tasted more like thick crisps. But breadier.

Chia Seed (2 x RRP £1.00) - I know Chia Seeds are all the rage with healthy types, as they're a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. These are really easy to add to other foods for a non-intrusive nutritious boost!

The value of the goods inside the box always outweighs it's £12.99 per month subscription cost, but if that's not enough of a bargain you can save a whopping £7 off the cost of your first box if you enter the code BLDEG15 on checking out. It's a great way to discover new brands and products, and is always fun to open and see what each box contains!

4 October 2016

Paris, Day Two - The Louvre

After a fairly relaxed day of getting to Paris and settling into our accommodation, it was time to crack on with some of the bigger 'challenges' of the trip: getting all four kids around the city on the Metro without losing any of them, and keeping them all entertained in the world's largest museum.

Not before a good breakfast though, of course - continental breakfast was included in price we paid for our hostel accommodation, and there's nothing like a pile of baked goods with jam to start you off for the day!

When everyone had eaten their fill, it was time to tackle the metro! The adults on the trip (that's me and my brother) had used the underground transport system plenty before on previous trips so were confident we could get us about without too much trauma - the colour-coded system is a piece of cake to navigate. We were more concerned about getting everyone on and off all in one group!

One ticket will get you to any stop, we saved on tickets by buying them in bundles of ten. We even managed to keep track of all the kids (even on the couple of really busy trains later in the day!) who loved zipping around underneath the city!

The main reason for trip to Paris was that my nephew Corey (in the middle down there!) has been learning all about it at school. Visiting the Louvre was one of his top priorities on the holiday!

Entrance to the museum is free for those under 18, so it only ended up costing thirty euros for the six of us to get in - all those priceless artefacts and works of art for significantly less than it would have cost for us all to go to the cinema!

Due to some inexpert map reading, we did seem to get a little stuck in the French Sculpture section. These wonderful big open airy rooms full of magnificent statues really were awe inspiring though - if you are going to get stuck anywhere this was not a bad place to be!

It was also a great spot to play a (obviously quiet, well-behaved) game of hide and seek! (Though one of our party was a little too good at it, I genuinely thought we'd lost Harry for good a couple of times!)

The kids were really impressed with some of the things they saw, especially the giant sculptures in the 'Near Eastern Antiquities' section of the museum.

For them though, the main thing they wanted to see was of course the museum's most famous resident, the lovely Mona Lisa. We wound our way to the famous lady, through halls and halls of incredible artworks. There's really nothing scarier than medieval religious paintings!

I know a lot of people go specifically for this one painting but I would definitely recommend at least glancing at some of the other exhibitions on the way through or you'll miss some truly spectacular visions - and make sure you look up! Some of the paintings on the ceilings are

The Mona Lisa itself is a famously small painting, surrounded by crowds. There were a lot of people around! A bit of patience though and the kids managed to get through to the front of the barrier (in between the hordes of people trying to take a selfie with the painting!) to get a good look!

At that point we'd been in the museum for around four hours, so we figured it was time to head out for some fresh air, sunshine, and food. (It did still take us a good 20 minutes to get out, this place is huge, but plenty more to see on our way to the exit!)

An ice cream was a well-deserved treat for all the hard work art-appreciation we'd been doing, and a walk through the beautiful Jardin De Tuileries (with a playground stop off) was a lovely way to finish the expedition before heading back to the hostel for well needed showering-and-chilling time.

The rest of the day was spent running round the kids favourite holiday spot, the park next to the hostel. We'd spotted a local pizza place on our wanderings on the previous day, so all headed to 'Pizza Time' for tea for delicious pizza (even if a couple of menu-translation issues meant we didn't all get exactly the pizza toppings we were expecting!)

It was a long, hot day - but a great one, filled with incredible sights, good food and some of my favourite people!