All grown up!

It’s after midnight and December 19th now, which means that mini-me turns 18 today! From this tiny and cute baby girl…

… to the beautiful, smart, very funny, lively, compassionate, sensible, sporty, cat-loving, driven young lady she is today…

All grown up now, ready to vote for the first time (municipal elections next year) and do grown up things like legally drink a Flügel and travel on her own. We love her to pieces, enjoy watching her grow and have every confidence in her for her future. Happy birthday, dear S!

Multitasking and tug of war

The holiday season is definitely upon us, another weird year where we are half in quarantine yet again during the holidays. We’re working from home again, office Christmas parties are online again, and all restaurants, theatres, museums and non-essential shops are closed after 5 pm, at least until mid January. This Omicron Covid variant is looking grim as we still await our booster shots (my mother and aunt have had theirs, though, so that’s good).

So, office Christmas parties. There was an online work Christmas get together yesterday with a pub quiz but as there is much left to do before my daughter’s 18th and my aunt’s 85th birthday this weekend (on the same date!) and also for Christmas, I used the time to multitask. The Christmas shopping I have been ordering online is coming in now and things need to be wrapped, so while I was answering online pub quiz questions, I was also wrapping gifts…

Earlier in the week there was an online Christmas do for the volunteers at the Refugee Center where I work and, in between a full day of online meetings, I was able to use my lunch break to participate in that. Glad I did, it was fun. More fun than my regular work Christmas thing as it was more personal.

I spent yesterday evening working on a birthday video for my beloved aunt but when I watched it again this morning before work, the first half felt more like a funeral than a party. So, while working, I listened to all sorts of music on YouTube to figure out another first track for the video. I found a funny one and changed the music in my video during my lunch break. I used the first 3 and a half minutes of this…

As it’s getting quiet at work, I also pinched some time to finish the birthday poster for my daughter (with a small portrait picture for each year of her 18 years), as I do every year. I think I am now finally on top of things (except for party shopping which will happen tomorrow).

I’m really glad the Christmas holiday is coming up! I only have today, Monday and Tuesday to work and then I’ll have two weeks off. Bliss. My current boss and my new boss are caught up in a tug of war over me. My new boss wants me mid February, my old boss wants to hold on to me for a month longer (officially I have a 3 month notice period) and I’m just sitting back, watching it unfold as I simultaneously keep telling my current boss I’d also rather leave sooner than later. She’s so weird. Before I got the job she was encouraging me and saying how I should do all I can to follow my work-heart and now that I am, she’s holding me back. Anyway, it’ll work itself out. I’m starting to get into a Christmas zen mode, no use to to get worked up over things I can’t change.

Richard is getting his Christmas mood on as well, with his traditional call to give to a good cause…

I wonder if the message on the Just Giving page that he links to is also his Christmas message this year…

I hope he’ll still write a message more like he has done in previous years where he reflects on the past year. No pressure and time will tell, but it would be nice.

Anyway, it’s been really busy this week. On Wednesday I even had an insane amount of volunteer work to do at the Refugee Center that didn’t fit into the one afternoon I usually do and it took me all day. As my regular work is now starting to dry up, I’m quitting early today and I’m more than ready for the weekend to arrive. Back to single tasking and getting out of the way of tug of wars.

Paris (et Le Mans)

Ah, it’s so good to be away! We’ve only been gone a few days but already it feels like forever! Junior is on holiday with his girlfriend and her family in Portugal, so it’s just Mr. Esther, mini me and I. Beware, I’m going to just picture spam now (click on images to enlarge if you wish to see them better)…

We left home this past Thursday and drove to Paris, with a break along the way…

We were obediently following the route our car navigator gave us and after about 5 hours of driving, lo and behold, we found ourselves right in the middle of Paris on the Champs Elysees!

Traffic is quite chaotic there. It felt like a free-for-all-everyone-do-as-they-please driving adventure (although, in fairness, red lights are obeyed) and in the end we were glad to get out of there and find our hotel.

We dropped our bags and then immediately started walking (which felt good after all those hours of sitting in the car). We walked by the Jardin de Luxemburg and into the city center with the Notre Dame and took a peek at the famous Shakespeare bookstore that I always like to walk by every time I am in Paris. We walked through the Quartier Latin to find a place to get some dinner. It was quite busy and we were relieved to find a good spot to eat where it was less busy (and that pizza was yummy!).

After dinner we walked on in the direction of Montmartre, we also passed Paris city hall, where the Olympic rings for the next Olympic games are up.

We took a metro to Montmartre, then walked up lots of steps to get to the Sacre Coeur. Mon Dieu, we are not used to climbing so many steps, especially after more than a year in isolation! It was very pretty up there, though (and many people there too), with lovely views over Paris by night.

Took a metro back to the hotel and we were properly exhausted. Slept in and the next morning, after a late breakfast at a sidewalk café, we went to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and then on to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees (mini me wanted to take a peek at all the designer shops). For you Europeans, you may have caught wind of the news that star football player Lionel Messi has transferred from Barcelona to play for Paris St. Germain a few days ago and already there were lines of people waiting to get Messi in Paris t-shirts!

By the way, sprinkled around Paris we saw these little white tents where you could get Covid tested. You can only gain entrance to certain locations if you are either fully vaccinated (which we are) or if you are tested negative for Covid 19.

We walked down the Champs Elysees and then came to the Louvre museum…

We had booked tickets in advance and after showing our “passe sanitaire” (digital Covid pass) we went in and saw so many beautiful things!

I think my favourite was to see Botticelli…

Of course, Da Vinci was awesome too. The row to actually stand in front of the Mona Lisa was insane, though, and we didn’t attempt that. We saw her fine from the side. It was really busy there, so we didn’t want to stay there long.

So much more beautiful art to see! And Mr Esther was in heaven finally seeing a funeral monument with beautiful heraldry (he’s a heraldry expert) he had always wanted to see.

We were exhausted afterwards, so took some time to drink and relax outside on the grass…

We then took a bus to the Eiffel tower, had dinner near there in a cute little square…

Our feet were completely dead when we finally got back to the hotel again at around 9.30 pm. The hotel had a lovely courtyard garden where we could just sit and relax with a beer before falling into bed.

Yesterday was a travel day. Had some breakfast at a sidewalk café (with a cup o’ Richard)…

… and then we left Paris (for now). We’ll be back for one more night on our way back, which makes mini me very happy as she has fallen in love with the city.

It was really busy on the road, lots of holiday traffic, which meant we were delayed for almost an hour after the first part of our journey. We stopped in Le Mans, which was about halfway on our journey, walked around for a short while, popped into a museum so that Mr E could see (and show us) the first example of a coat of arms in colour from 1151, we cooled off in the gentle water spray that was right outside our garage, and then drove on to our cottage not far from Nantes. Oh, and can you spot the dramatic teen in one of the pictures?

We got some groceries at a hypermarché close to where we are staying and finally arrived at our destination at around 7.30 pm. We had dinner at the restaurant on the premises (too tired to cook) and we figure we’ll be happy here for the next two weeks as our cottage is small but comfortable and well kept, with our own private yard.

Today (it’s 3 am as I post this, I’m a night owl and couldn’t sleep yet) we do nothing. We’ll just hang around here, nap, eat, read, play games and maybe go for a swim. Wifi is quite good, so I’ll be able to follow the kick-off of the Richard Armitage birthday auctions later today as well. Off to sleep now (yes, I’m finally ready); I’ll probably wake up late in the morning and won’t have to wait that long for the fun to unfold. 🙂

Lunch break

Mini me, Mr Esther and I just got back from a nice little lunch break. We live near lakes and there is a restaurant just at the lake where we decided to go to for a bite to eat…

It is outdoors, but in an alcove with screens between the tables, and it overlooks the lake, a few islands and the boats that are moored there.

In other news, this week my daughter had a headache so to make sure it was nothing more than that, she took her first DIY at home Covid quick test…

It was negative, thankfully, and she felt fine again not long after. School has given out these free tests to the students so that they can test themselves at home now and again to make sure they are not infectious to others when they go to school.

Ok, back to work now for me for a few more hours to finish up some reports (bleh) before the weekend starts for real (yay!).

Procrastination Sunday

So, today I was supposed to do our weekly groceries and a whole load of laundry but then mini me asked if we could go to Rotterdam for the afternoon. Anything to procrastinate doing household chores, so off we went. We stopped for some bubble tea with little apple flavoured poppy tapioca balls which she loves so much and some churros. I’m neutral on both bubble tea and churros but after a really wet day yesterday it was nice to sit outside and enjoy a little bit of sun while sipping a drink on a bench…

It was chilly, though, so we didn’t stay long. We drove through Rotterdam for a bit…

Of course, groceries still needed to be done after I got home (whirlwind shopping in 45 minutes before the supermarket closed) but being rushed was worth it after a lovely afternoon with my daughter.

This evening, after I got home from my grocery shopping, my brother in London called to tell me he had just seen Emma Thompson at his Waitrose supermarket! She lives not far from where he lives and I have walked by her house before but, unlike my brother, I have never seen her ‘in the wild’. He was waiting to get into the supermarket when she and an elderly lady (he thinks her mum) came out and took off their masks. Seeing Emma made him think of me and we ended up chatting on the phone for an hour. He didn’t take any pictures but Emma must have looked something like this (pictures taken earlier this year and last year)…

We had a late dinner and then we happened upon the BAFTA awards on TV, so that had to be watched. This means that the laundry (already partially washed thanks to Mr Esther) has yet to be folded but folding laundry is overrated isn’t it?