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?

Quarantine bedtimes

This quarantine thing has quite an impact on my daily rhythm. I find it difficult to get to bed before 1 or 2 am. Last night it was 2 am, or a little after. I’m a pretty sound sleeper and usually can fall asleep quickly but last night our black cat had decided to grace our bed again. She’d been sleeping curled up near Mr. Esther but as soon as I got into bed, she first decided to lay on top of my side, but that got hot for me, so I pushed her off. I then had to battle her for space on my pillow. She likes to lie on it too, particularly half on my head, which is not comfortable for me either. In the end, after about half an hour, she settled somewhere between Mr. Esther and I and I could finally fall asleep.

Then, this morning, after barely 5.5 hours of sleep, I got up again so that I could help my daughter get some food into her and give her some moral support before she went to school for two socially distanced exams (she has an exam week this week). She does really well in all subjects, except for math, and she was nervous, despite studying really hard for that on her own and also via video calls with friends. She’ll be getting extra help with math from school from next week onwards (we had asked for extra help some 7 or 8 weeks ago as Mr Esther and I are pretty useless with math) but for this exam that help comes too late. Anyway, I figured the least I could do was give her that little bit of extra support this morning, so that meant waking up some 45 minutes before I normally do. When she left I was still tired, so I decided I could just lie down again for another 25 minutes or so before I took a quick shower and started work at 9. Of course, I fell right back asleep and didn’t wake again till 9.30! I hastily got up, threw something on that looks halfway decent infront of a webcam, did a quick brush of the hair, put on a dusting of mascara and then got to my laptop to prepare for my first meeting which was at 10 am. Luckily, there wasn’t too much to prepare.

So, here I am, unshowered and tired. Luckily no more video meetings today, just some chores to do on the computer that aren’t time sensitive, so I took a little time eat a late lunch and now to blog. I’m wearing the Pride & Prejudice green book cover earrings I got from Guylty and lunch was a slice of bread with a little butter and chocolate sprinkles. I look wrinkly, old and my hair is an unwashed mess, but I am happy with the earrings and sprinkles! They are the only things to really bring me joy so far today (and the news from mini-me just now that the exam seemed to go OK, we hope enough for a passing grade).

I really need to work on getting to bed sooner, though. Half an hour past midnight should be doable, right? And then get up at 8.30 am after 8 hours of sleep? And yet… Last night, Mr Esther went upstairs at 1 am and I said I’d be right there and before I knew it an hour had gone by! A little while ago during a video conference, my boss told me she pretends she needs to travel to work, so she gets up early and does her normal routine and that helps her be on time. I am not that disciplined, however, and I just can’t do that because in the back of my mind I keep on thinking it isn’t real anyhow so why bother?

I think it’s time these lockdowns ended and some sense of normality comes back into our lives. Only then will I be able to discipline myself for better bedtimes, I think. However, it will be a long while yet before normality returns. There are talks of possibly setting an evening and night curfew here and vaccinations don’t seem to be progressing that quickly either. I know I need to self-discipline but I’m so terrible at it… Am I alone in this or are you guys just as terrible as I am?

Pictures of the day

I was getting dressed in the morning and looked at my David Bowie 2020 calendar and figured that the December image is my fave image of the calendar. I had my phone with me and just had to take a picture.

Later in the day Mini-me had a nice 17th birthday celebration…

… while the cat was less amused…

… and Junior was in party animal mode during dinner, despite being tired from work….

December 19th, 2020 was a good day.