Friday, 30 November 2012

Minimalist Packing

I've been inspired by other blogger's descriptions of what they packed when they went on holiday, and I decided to "showcase" what I took for our 4 day holiday to Lille, France.  It all fit into a tiny case, and I didn't get tired of the combinations.  Also, to be fair, it's only 4 days, so even if I wore the same thing 4 days, no one but Gorgeous Husband and I would know.

This is what I took:

2 roll neck sweaters (turtle necks, as they are known in North America)
2 skirts
2 pair of boots
1 tunic
1 coat
1 hat
1 umbrella
1 scarf/gloves set
some jewellery
1 long sleeve tee shirt (worn as nightwear, or daywear if it was too warm for the roll necks)
pjama bottoms

The outfits: (needless to say, no ironing needed!)

These are the second pair of boots.  I haven't included them in photos, because I threw them out in France.  They were worn out, and would have cost about £20 to repair.  Besides I had already bought 3 pair of new boots and needed the space in the suitcase for the new ones! Photo in the British Library, next to a bronze seat that looks like an open book.

My philosophy when I travel is to take old clothes that I don't particularly care about.  If I find something new and exciting, I ditch the old clothes in a bin somewhere and just come home with the new ones.  If I don't find anything, no worries, the old clothes just come home again.

I did wear everything, even the hat.  It's a great squashy one that packs flat and is good for drizzle.  Those times when you don't really need an umbrella.  Or it is too windy for one.

The small striped purse I wore under my coat.  It contained my wallet and money.  My passport was in my security pouch which I wear under my clothes.  If I were to have my bag snatched, they would grab the large bag, which contained my umbrella, camera, lunch, guidebook, makeup and anything else that I thought I might have need of.

The over-the-head small purse meant I was never worried about setting my purse down somewhere and forgetting it.  It left both hands free and I could wear it while we had coffee or lunch.  The big bag would be on the floor near my feet (or sometimes between my feet).  Maybe I'm a bit paranoid, but when we went to Paris, my knapsack was always being opened.  I didn't lose anything valuable that time, but it does make me aware that while travelling, being safe rather than sorry is a good motto to follow.

Does anyone else have any tips for travelling? 

Monday, 19 November 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The last time I was at this magnificent Tudor mansion in Cheshire was 17 years ago.  How can I be so sure?  I first set eyes on Little Morton Hall the day after Gorgeous Husband and I had had our English wedding.  I don't remember if we knew what we were going to see, or if we found it by chance, but I do remember that by the time we arrived, after an hour or so of twisting roads, I felt sick as a dog.  I sometimes get carsick, and so it was the day we arrived at here.

Before even having a look around, I went to the cafe to have a coffee and see if I could feel a bit more human.  I decided to have a " cherry flapjack" as they had that on the menu.  I was accustomed to seeing a flapjack as a small pancake in Canada, and I thought it sounded rather good.  However, what arrived was something that looked like a granola bar.  In England, a flapjack isn't a pancake at all! 

Some of the beautiful leaded glass windows.  Original Tudor mansion from the 1600s.

This building is one of those fabulous old Tudor buildings, unique in the way its architecture resembles a line of washing, all sagging inward, and full of peculiar angles and nooks and crannies. Some architects aren't sure why the building is still able to stand, considering its "unusual" sloping condition.

                      An "artistic" photo.  Gorgeous Husband framed me in the leaded pane.

 This is the Long Gallery, which is upstairs.  Apparently, the ladies of the day used to use this long open space to exercise by walking up and down, back and forth.  Not the most interesting of past times, I wouldn't say.
This fireplace, with what looks like a plaster work crest, is in one of the upstairs rooms. That's one of the things I love about England: it has so many mind-bogglingly ancient things.

                          A lovely outfit of the Tudor times.  (The latest in their fashion!)

They even had Tudor outfits that you could try on.  I've got to say, I'm glad I don't have to wear that baby bonnet thing on my head all the time, as it is massively unflattering.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

It was an Art-full Holiday

Here I am, in front of the wonderful, and wonderfully named, Palais des Beaux Arts (the Palace of Beautiful Art) in Lille.  The building itself is a work of art, and typical of what I would call the "wedding cake" school of architecture so prevelent in France.  In other words, elaborate and richly detailed.  None of that "clean lines" nonsense!

                    I know, I'm just a tiny figure, but the "star" of the photo is the building.

 The Palais des Beaux Arts had an enormous ceramic collection, and I especially liked these casks that had taps coming out of them.  No idea what they might have been used for.

We also enjoyed looking at the exhibition of the artwork of Hieronymus Bosch, who is a particularly favourite of Gorgeous Husband's.  Bosch loved to paint grotesque, over-the-top figures in heaven and hell situations.  For a fellow born around 1450, he had quite a warped imagination.  Also, we were amazed how close we could get to the actual work, as they were not roped off.  Bosch was a master of painting detail, so much so, that a fox no bigger than a grain of rice, still had a recognisable expression.

 We also discovered this upside-town house, which was an example of modern art.  Everything in the house was upside down, in that the plumbing and furniture was all on the ceiling.  You could go in and walk around, which we thought would be neat.  As it turns out, I could only stay in the house for a few minutes before I began to feel woozy.  Something about the slant of the floor, and seeing everything topsy turvey had an adverse affect on me and I had to get out of there right away.  It just brought home to me how much I rely on my sight to make sense of the world.

This jolly "cat on a bicycle" fellow was in another modern art gallery, that I forgot to check the name of.  They had a lot of papier mache figures and expensive handcrafts and paintings.  A feast for the eyes, if not the wallet.

This collection of psychedelic flowers is a sculpture close to the Eurostar train station.  Notice I am actually wearing a hat!  The weather was somewhat drizzly, not a proper rain, just a bit of a whimper with not enough energy to collect itself into actual rain drops.

We walked down this street one morning, and it seemed that there were lots of artists and craftspeople out with their wares, in addition to the cute little boutiques that were open.  This particular shop had a white cat outside that the owner had taught a trick.  If you walked up to the cat, held out your palm, and said "merci!" the cat would put its paw in your hand.  Ever so cute. You will appreciate this if you've ever tried to teach a cat anything.  They are not particularly good pupils!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Oooh, I'm in Love!

Yes, it's official.  I'm in love with Lille, France.  You didn't really think I'd chucked in Gorgeous Husband, did you?  We had such a fabulous time in this French city, that is so near to England, yet so distinctly French.  I look a little pale in this shot, as it is night time, and we had to use the flash.  My real colouring was actually quite normal.

 Who couldn't love a city that has such fabulous fashion shopping?  A hat shop!  The Style Crone would absolutely love it.

 Here is a knitted dress in the window of a chic little boutique not far from our hotel.  Or "chick" shop as Gorgeous Husband liked to pronounce it.

 When I die, you can just scatter my ashes here in this incredible shoe shop.  Everything was so yummy, I thought I would pass out.  Not that I bought anything here, but I did succumb to buying 3 pair of boots elsewhere.

On our last day, we went to the Sunday market, which not only had all the fabulous food you would expect of a French market, but someone also playing the accordian.  Plus I found some wonderful colourful leather bags.  I didn't buy one for the following reasons:  I was greedy and already had 3 pair of boots, Gorgeous Husband would have gone pale at the thought of more purchases, no room in the suitcase, and to be honest, the colours weren't exactly what I wanted/needed.  There was a lucky escape!

Do you feel guilty if you think you have bought too much at one time?  (Like 2 identical pair of boots in black and brown?)  I blame it on Gorgeous Husband.  I said, "would I be a greedy pig to buy another pair of these wonderfully comfortable boots in brown?"  And he said, "do what you like."  I rest my case.  Who could resist that?!