Tuesday, January 31, 2012

*squee* France!

I just noticed the sticker on some Granny Smith apples I bought today (we were going to make pie, nom nom nom), informing me that they are from the Val de Loire. Technically a different area from the Val du Loir where I was living over the summer, but pronounced the same, and not exactly what one could call very far away (the next valley to the South).

Yay seeing stickers on food for places I've been! :-D

I feel all worldly and well-travelled now. Distance from the realities of day to day life there are making me slightly nostalgic for my summer in the castle in France. I am appreciating it now. Or possibly just missing not being totally freezing at every moment of the day.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

St Moritz

A view from the cable car:

You know you're in Switzerland when the street signs look like this:

This was the view from our hotel. Yes, that's a swimming pool in the bottom left. It's heated.

Sleighs! Ponies pulling sleighs! Well, actually horses. Don't you love their head feathers?!

It snowed for the first half of our trip. Which was nice, but resulted in a lot of this:

I suddenly realised that it has been two weeks since I last got around to posting on here, and it hasn't been for a lack of things to say that I haven't posted, I've just been busy! I went to Switzerland for work for a few days, which was lovely. The first day I was pretty miserable, standing about watching other people skiing while it is snowing, in boots that your feet aren't used to, with a dripping nose and streaming eyes is not fun. Especially when you've forgotten to bring your money so can't even go in to the cafe and buy a hot drink. And to get there you have to fight your way though terrorists on snow (aka skiers). PMS was not improving things either. However, the second day improved things. The weather for a start! I also didn't have to stand about for ages, I had some free time to explore the village, which was neat. It's pretty small, and it really reminded me of Wanaka in New Zealand. Stunningly pretty mountain village, with the misfortune to be near excellent skifields. The shops were all Gucci and Prada and god knows what that I didn't really notice, with the occasional restaurant and cafe. I had a delicious hot chocolate, sent some postcards, and then it was time to be working again.

They have delicious food in Switzerland! Or possibly that was just the swanky restaurant we went to. But NOM NOM NOM I hadn't realised that I like veal, or that it is possible to cook spinach in such a way that it is TOTALLY DELICIOUS. Not that I have anything against spinach cooked normally. Or at least I didn't, until now. I shall have to infiltrate their kitchens and steal their secret powers of making spinach more delicious than anything, ever. It's a pretty good secret power, when you think about it.

Day three provided me with some time to discover the swanky hotel's 'wellness' area. "Wellness" Sam thought to herself. "Sauna, here I come!" I spent a happy hour lounging about in two different saunas, which I enjoyed greatly. This was definitely my best hour in the whole trip. I did spend a few minutes contemplating what I should wear in the sauna though. I am aware that some people *glances sideways at Finnish friends* don't wear clothes in the Sauna. I am aware that other people may or may not be greatly offended by this. I am aware that Europe tends towards public nudity at any given moment. There was a lot of naked people in France. Switzerland is next to France. Close enough right? As it turned out, I didn't actually find out, because I had the WHOLE THING to myself the WHOLE time, it was awesome. All the ski bunnies were outside enjoying the cold sunshine.

I later checked on the internet and discovered that my uncertainly as to clothing ettiquette was entirely justified. One could more or less flip a coin or roll a die to figure out which European countries favour nudity, and which think you should be dressed. And they're all pretty set in "their" tradition about it, and get mighty upset if you get it wrong! After quite a bit of reading online I came to the conclusion that Switzerland was probably on the side of nudity, but wouldn't be too offended if you wore clothes. Although I guess that was the point of the ladies only sauna, if you don't want to get naked in front of the opposite sex. Hard luck if you're a particularly modest bloke, it was either ladies or mixed! I did read the 'sauna guidelines' notice on each door. None of them at any point mentioned their position on this mixed topic, so I really honestly can't be sure what the appropriate state of dress was. Luckily I didn't have to find out the hard way!

Anyway, off to bed for me now. There is more exciting travel planned in the near future. And no, I don't know where to!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Making the most of London

Now that I am based in London again I have vowed to make the most of it, and so far I have been. I was going to go ice-skating outside the Natural History Museum, but the ice-rink had been closed down. So I decided to go to the one in Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, but alas that was also closed down now. Damn temporary ice rinks! So I gave up and wondered in towards Soho and the West End along Piccadilly. I haven't walked along that way before, and it was well worth it! I gaped at all the absurdly expensive jewellery in the windows, and discovered a delicious place to get chocolate- Khave Dunyasi. It was super delicious. I just had a hot chocolate, but I was left feeling pretty confident that everything in there was super tasty.

After my pause for a delicious hot drink (and reprieve from the chilly evening) I braved the darkness of early evening, and continued on to the West End. I had been considering going to see a film, but I felt like watching something a bit different, and there wasn't anything that caught my fancy. Then I remembered seeing a place selling cheap tickets to some of the theatres, so rocked on up. I was a bit sceptical of my chances when I was informed that the computer systems were down, but would be back in ten minutes, and when they finally did come back on (after about ten minutes) the girl in front of me paid £75 to go and see Matilda the following day. I was less keen when they said £35 for Chicago, which sure, I would like to see, but for £35? So I asked about Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, and was very pleased to find out that he could get tickets to Les Mis for £18, but with a restricted view, or £25 for a proper view. As I wanted to enjoy it I went for the £25 ticket, and I'm glad I did!

I have officially fallen in love with theatre, it is amazing. I had such a good time, even though I was there by myself. It really was incredible, I don't even know how to describe it! I want to see more now, everything! I could go again and again. I've still got the songs from Les Mis going around in my head, I'm thinking of getting the album. I want to remember them properly, I'll never get them out of my head otherwise! Hopefully I will be able to go and see more soon, maybe even tomorrow evening, or the day after. I want to see the Phantom of the Opera, and Chicago. They're my next top two. I want to go and see some Shakespeare at the Globe, but that doesn't open until Feb or March I don't think, presumably because it is open air and they would all die of hypothermia in the winter!

I am planning to go and explore the Victoria and Albert Museum (finally) tomorrow, with some friends who moved over here at the end of last year, and I haven't had the chance to catch up with until now. Seeing friends AND museums at the same time!!! And I'm even going to have time to paint my nails in the morning. I still haven't worked out what colour, I'm bored with the ones I have. Maybe time for something new and exciting.

In further adventuring news, it would seem that I am going to Switzerland this weekend. Yay! I'm not much of a ski bunny, but I like pretty, snowy scenery and I don't mind a bit of cold. I'll drink hot chocolate and stay inside mostly. Afternoons out with the kids sledding or whatever, but that's fine. I can do sledding. I think. So long as it doesn't involve strapping my feet to things and standing up then I'm willing to try!

Right, time for some chamomile tea and sleeping before I end up sleep deprived again. That would be a terrible state to be going to the museum in.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Caribbean Adventures part V

Finally! Took a while I know, but I wanted to sort through some pictures before I put them up. I had a tour of Nevis on Boxing day I think it was, which was interesting. Nevis is small. Really small. 12,000 people all up. It feels a lot like the East Coast of New Zealand wrapped into a circle to be an island, and dropped into a different sea. The lifestyle (coastal), the laid-back atmosphere. Oh, did I mention the size? There was a definitely everybody-knows-everybody feel. Presumably because everybody does more or less know everybody on the island. So yeah, here are some pictures anyway.

I took this one looking East and possibly South a bit. If you look really hard you can see the outline of another island, which is I believe Antigua, although I can't quite recall.
This is peeking though the not-quite-rainforest up at Nevis Peak. It is an actual mountain at 985m, but only just. And it is semi-permanently covered in cloud, this was the only time I actually saw it without cloud for he whole trip. Handily it was while I was free to take pictures and do stuff.
This is part of an old sugar mill. It's mostly ruins now, but they were quite interesting. I guess because it is such a small place they can't afford to make things in to tourist attractions, but I would've been interested in seeing a bit more, like how they worked and stuff. This one was in the grounds of a hotel complex, they have turned some into bits of an outdoor restaurant and things like that, it was pretty neat.
Looking North to St Kitts. I would have liked to look around St Kitts, but no chance this time around.
Me on Pinny's beach on Boxing day. Newly braided and just finished my tour of Nevis. The background is the beach where we spent most of our time, and in the distance you can see St Kitts again.
Pinny's beach at sunset. There were some stunning sunsets! And sunrises, but I was less excited to see those.

That concludes my final post from the Caribbean, almost two weeks after getting back to London. But don't shoot me yet, I never did get around to doing that one from France. And that was in the summer! "But I've been busy!" she moans....