Say what you like about Disney but they sure know how to do aesthetics! The buildings and colour schemes alone in Disneyland had me in rapture, never mind the extensive sparkly Christmas decorations. And the food – yum!
Walt Disney Studios
The happiest place on earth! I last visited Disneyland Paris aged 17 for work purposes and I didn’t get to leave the main park, so the Studio Lot was my first stop this time. It’s a bit smaller than the main park and felt a bit more adult as it’s home to all sorts of film production based attractions, as well as a Pixar section and a mock-up lot featuring bits of film set and props. I’m not sure little kids would be familiar with all of the set pieces (Umbrellas of Cherbourg? The Twilight Zone?) but I was in my geek element!
Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine
I first went to the French architecture museum in Paris when I was 20. One of my best friends had visited a few months before as part of his architecture degree. He’d sent me a postcard which lived on my university bedroom wall, so the museum already seemed familiar. I spent an entire happy day wandering in and out of the gigantic halls, astounded by architectural feats, the permanence of everything.
Immediately it became one of my favourite museums. There’s such a sense of calm there being surrounded by the huge windows that overlook the Eiffel Tower and gardens. The atmosphere is part museum, part library and part reverential sacred space. I’m not sure if it’s the enormity of the building or the many casts of churches and cathedrals, but it’s quite unlike any other museum I’ve visited. Old buildings always fascinate me; what would they say if they could talk? What have they seen? Who have they known? Did the hands that built them know they would be remembered in hundreds of years time? Commemorated, examined by artists and dreamers?
So of course on our most recent and magical trip to Paris I took my friends. We wandered around in silence, speaking quietly in hushed tones so as not to disturb the ancient buildings. And I left with that same sense of wonder, of reverence and of sketching out ideas that might outlast me. Outside the feeling continued on the square tiles of the Trocadero, laid down hundreds of years before, and the “temporary” structure of the Eiffel Tower posing in the background.
Cité des Sciences & de l’Industrie
…but what do you have in your head?
Welcome to an outfit post from the largest science museum in Europe! We went to Paris solely for one piece at this museum. Quite the pilgrimage! Reaching that article was one of the most incredible moments of my life – I started a more specific post but couldn’t articulate the experience adequately, so for the first time ever have been unable to finish a post! This tells you how momentous it was as I am very rarely lost for words.
All of the European museums I have encountered include interactive exhibits which blend virtual reality, puzzles and film alongside traditional displays. It makes for a nice change as many of our UK exhibitions seem to be more object-driven. Highlights included Jeux de Lumiere, a hall of light, vision and optical illusions; the planetarium; the submarine; L’homme et les genes, an exhibition on humans and genetics and my personal favourite C3RV34U, a comprehensive “neuroplay” exhibition about the brain (my top science interest).
Most beautiful of all was the light room. It was so peaceful dancing around in the soft pools of pastel rainbows on the floor, lights gently changing colour. Museums give me such a safe, happy feeling; surrounded by knowledge, learning and research, inspired to think, analyse, and create.
Dress – ModCloth, gift. Bag – €12, flea market in Barcelona. Bunny shoes – £45 (sale), Irregular Choice. Kimono – £35, Topshop, gift.
Christmas in Paris
I spent a wonderful week in Paris back in December – I’ve been travelling a lot recently! I first went to Paris when I was 12. I thought it was beautiful; the pale yellow buildings, the cream and black accents, the navy purple slate colour of the roofs. I’ve been back many times since; multiples times between 12 and 14 with my parents, practising french and visiting friends. In my late teens with school, A-Level French trips and orchestra tours. In my university years, with boys, the New Years we went to Moulin Rouge and the hazy summer festival where we saw Beirut and Arcade Fire. Padlocks on bridges and carved initials in trees.
This time we went for one piece of art, and really just one of us needed to see it, so the other three of us accompanied. The way friends do, out of love. We stayed in a flat overlooking the rooftops of Paris, our living room opening out onto our own roof. We stayed in most nights, playing cards, talking endlessly and getting to know each other, letting the honest truth out over four types of cheese and du pain. Celebrating every hour on the balcony with cold beers and hugs whilst Tour Eiffel sparkled away in the distance, dazzling for 5 minutes on the hour every hour, our preferred form of clock. Paris is even more beautiful at Christmas. The perfectly pointed trees, the cold nip in the air and the magical fairy lights and decorations. It’s very difficult to think about all the tragedy and horror that has unfolded just a couple of short weeks later in this city, I think a lot about the people living there. I’m so grateful to have made these memories.
Let’s start by saying I’m really not much of a drinker and never have been. As a teenager I found adding alcohol to coke or lemonade just ruined the taste and during university I was famed for being the slowest drinker amongst my friends (on average I managed one pint for everybody else’s three rounds). Besides which when you’re a wheat – free vegan, drinks get pretty limited (you’d be surprised how much wine is brewed using isinglass, aka, fish bladder).
However, I’ve always liked trying out cocktails, particularly when they involve unusual ingredients. There is just something about cocktails which draws your imagination in; whether it’s the interesting names (blackberry fizz sounds like the tipple of fairies), specialist ingredients (Midori liquer? Creme de violette?) or wonderful stories behind the creation and naming of a cocktail.
I thought I’d share some favourite cocktails in case you’re looking for something new to try (DRINK RESPONSIBLY KIDS)! During an impromptu house barbecue, I was assigned the dubious task of mixologist whilst the “men” got on with throwing meat at each other and trying not to burn the garden down. There’s only about 4 cocktails I’d claim to be able to make well but I gave it a go!
Bloody Mary (modelled by James)
Ingredients: vodka, tomato juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, worcester sauce/horseradish sauce, celery. This is really the only drink I can talk about in detail as it’s the only one I regularly drink and the only thing I ever go for in pubs. In my opinion I make the best Bloody Marys in town (I imagine most of my friends will disagree), probably because I am very particular with how I like them: lots of horseradish sauce which goes in first, smooth tomato juice only, ground black pepper and celery. NEVER lime as a garnish (as I have stubbornly informed hundreds of barmen across the capital) although cucumber is passable. Wikipedia has an impressive list of variations on this cocktail – has anybody tried any? A Bloody Fairy sounds horrific (absinthe instead of vodka). Cosmopolitan
Ingredients: vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice (as well as lime garnish). Whilst the characters in Bridget Jones are fond of a good bloody mary, I’m sure you’ll all recognise the Cosmopolitan from Sex and The City where Carrie and the gang exclusively drink the rather aesthetically pleasing cocktail. I’m actually never much of a fan of these because I love cranberry juice too much. I just get annoyed at the other flavours. Cuba Libre (modelled by Dave)
Ingredients: Coca-cola, lime, white rum. I personally like my coke unfettered by alcohol but Dave seemed to enjoy this even if it was reminiscent of being a teenager. As you can probably guess from the name, the drink was supposedly created in Cuba to celebrate their freedom in the Spanish-American war. Ideally served in a tumbler (we don’t own any) and on the rocks (ice). Caipirinha (hopefully you recognise the girl in these photos…)
Ingredients: cachaça, lime and sugar. The national cocktail of Brazil! You might know I adore Brazil and I’ve tried a fair few of these at various Brazilian events in my time. Like the bloody mary this is another cocktail I can actually “make” and in my opinion they are easy to get wrong: too much lime and it’s bitter, not enough lime and it’s a sugar punch to the front teeth, too much ice and it’s distilled. The secret is to mash up the lime with the ice first until it’s slightly crushed (you can’t tell from the terrible quality photo), then add granulated brown sugar, then pour the alcohol in last over the top and don’t over stir. A bit tricky but so worth it! Gin Fizz
Ingredients: gin, lemon juice (or lime juice, we used both), soda water. Essentially a posh variation on G&T. I’m not a massive fan of gin but this tasted vaguely of lemonade and Dave seemed to enjoy it! Our little cocktails book listed some bizarre variations using bits of egg such as the above ingredients plus egg white (Silver Fizz), egg yolk (Golden Fizz) and a whole egg (Royal Fizz) which sounds bizarre and is also (luckily) not vegan so I won’t be making any of those anytime soon.
That concludes our cocktails discussion! Let me know if you have tried any of these and if you have a favourite cocktail (and if it’s a bloody mary, let’s compare notes). Here’s some token pictures of the barbecue, as you can see it was GOOD. Thanks for reading and follow on facebook/twitter/bloglovin if you feel inclined!!
P.S. If any of you are based in London and would like to come to a little blog celebration I’m planning in a couple weeks, do get in touch!