Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gay Pareeeee... Uhem!

Hello, this is Alice. I have hijacked Kierans login to blog on his behalf, as he is currently dissertationing, and therefore has no time for such piffling pursuits at Blogging!

This time last week we were in Paris (oh what a shame we're not still there) and were being uber touristy, as is acceptable in such places as Paris.

After arriving into Paris very late on Friday 22nd Aug, we got to our hotel and crashed out at about 1am... The bed was the most comfortable I've ever known (due to the fact that there was a feather duvet underneath the sheets as well as on top of us) so sleep was pretty much instantaneous...

When we woke up and left to begin our adventure properly we found that, rather conveniently, our hotel was situated a two minute walk from La Defense metro station which we needed to see pretty much everything we'd planned to see and more. These included (cue photos...)

...The Louvre, inevitably...

As you can see, the Venus de Milo was surrounded by people snapping at her feverishly. But we did get a photo up close, with some weirdo in the foreground;

We had a Chocolat Chaud each, which took rather a long time to arrive at our table. I blame Kieran, who spoke to the waiter in English... one of those waiters who like to have a bit of fun if he doesn't like certain customers perhaps!...
25 minutes later...

Anyway, we made our way out of the Louvre and towards the Champs Elysees, where we bought the grand total of two chocolate eclairs and a fruit juice as everything else was way out of our price range. We did stop by this old thing though...

And there's Kieran too...
After returning to La Defense for a nap, as we were shattered (Here's Kieran in a kind of lollypop land, not in his dreams but actually La Defense),

Then we went out for dinner at 8pm at which I managed to order raw beef... which was pretty nice actually... although obviously a stark contrast to the veggie option K had (Pasta).
Then we took a stroll around Les Jardins Tuileries where there was a funfair...

After another night's sleep in the most comfortable bed in the world, and hot chocolate and pain au raisins, we went to a landmark that needs no introduction... my embarrassment while buying the tickets I tripped up in my French pronunciation, and instead of saying deux personnes moins vingt-cinque ans sil vous plais [sp] I said deux poissons moins vingt-cinque ans sil vous plais Thankfully I was understood just the same, given the circumstances... marvelous...
And then we climbed the many many many steps... gloating at the people still queuing as we did so...

Then after a lunch of sandwiches and because I love the film of Amelie, we climbed some more steps to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur... and looked out over the garden used in the film, realising of course the way that it had been dressed up in the name of artistic license.
Looking up the hill...

And down the hill...

We went inside too, but we are respectful tourists and therefore did not take photos. I lit a candle too, which was rather nice... The nuns' singing mass was beautiful and the atmosphere was certainly a blessed one... even the most talkative tourists were hushed into peaceful silence!

As we were apparently in the mood to marvel at cathedrals we made our way to Notre Dame, and got in very quickly. However, we left there steaming with rage (Kieran more than me) at the way in which hundreds of people were chatting, squeaking their shoes on the floor, videoing the worship, and generally gawking at the people in funny costumes as if it had all been put on like a circus show. We decided the best thing to do was to get some supper...

Where my Date became very animated in conversation.

And its a shame this picture came out blurry...

...but the waiter was really moody, so we didn't think we'd ask him to do a re-take. Please also notice the ketchup bottle on the table... maybe he thought that we English/American people couldn't eat a meal without it!
We had the best weather on the last day and even found a place less likely to be found by tourists passing through... and I was quite pleased to be able to direct a little old french lady, in french, to the boulangerie, as seen here...


Anyway, I am aware that this blog post is insanely long, and Kieran wouldn't have written half so much, or put in so many pictures... you lucky things!

So I bid you adieu. More anon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Modern Pentathlon

It would appear you can't put links on comments.
Anyway here is a bit of slapstick

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic ends

As a really non sporty person unless horses are involved, I have been amazed at how hooked I have been on the Olympics. Helped of course by the number of medals the UK have got but also because the range of sports on british tv has been much wider than the usual obsession with track and field that we usually get. I still can't believe we came 4th in the overall table. However I do think our bit of the closing ceremony was really feeble. The bus was ok, but the elderly guitar rocker and Leona Lewis just didn't work in a stadium like that, with dire sound, and such a dreary song. Am I the only one who thought it was crap? And why was David Beckham there? He's a professional footballer and so nothing to do with the Olympics which is still theoretically amateur (in the widest possible meaning of the word). Doesn't bode well. Boris was entertaining though as once he got onto the podium he couldn't figure out what to do with his hands so did pockets, then in front, then behind, then at his side like the others - except when he was waving.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


W e have a date for the performance of Brian's piece that was done in Manchester in February. it will be on Radio 3 on Sat 6 Sept at 10.30 pm as part of the Hear & Now programme. I know a lot of you have heard it already, but those who haven't can either listen in on the day, or listen to it on the BBC iPlayer on the computer (which is really good actually, I use it a lot) for up to a week after the programme has been aired. This is a picture Brian's brother took of him taking his bow at the end.

It is so exciting!!!!!!!!!

Olympics part 2

Aren't they great! Who'd have thought I would sit enthralled by a bicycle race? I thought it was good when we were ahead of France but to be ahead of Australia - for however briefly it will be - bloody marvelous!
Anyway. I have three observation brought on by incessant Olympic watching.
1. Notice how there are five olympic rings representing five continents. That's how many there were when I was at school but between my education and my children's education there have become 7 continents. Who decided that?
2. I was watching Nastia Liukin, the American gymnast one morning before work (whatever, it's only a fortnight, I'm not actually turning into Homer Simpson). Anyway, she finished her mat work which was clearly very good and when she finished her coach kissed her on the lips. Then kept kissing her. I was totally horified! When I related this to Erin and Mike later in the day Mike looked her up and we discovered that her coach was her father. Phew! We all thought! Then a few moments later we all though. Nooo! That is still inappropriate. It wasn't normal parental affection or maybe I'm just too British. What do other people think?
3. The reporters seem so intrusive. They keep interviewing people who have lost out on a medal. They interviewed Paula Radcliffe who was in tears, literally sobbing, and kept saying "How do you feel". Then they interviewed the other Jamaican guy who was in the 100 metres and more or less said. "What does it feel to be a loserr" I could go on.
4. (OK I can't count) Since when did medal become a verb?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weather update... despite the sundances I'm sure you all did, they did no good and it absolutely peed down over the weekend :( We were at Weston Park in Stafford (thanks for the offer of the shower Boo, we totally would've invaded if we'd gone to Chelmsford!) and it was quite an experience. We didn't arrive until around 8pm on Friday night and although we hadn't packed that much stuff, had NOT anticipated the hour long walk (yes that's one hour of walking) from the car park to the camping area lugging our tent, air bed, clothes etc which don't sound heavy but really were after an hour... By the time we got through security and got our wristbands it was basically dark and the campsites were pretty much full. We ended up trudging along, arms aching, hunting fruitlessly for a spot for quite some time. A load of tents had been pitched in what they call a 'fire lane' which is a lane they keep empty in amongst all the tents so if there is an emergency they can evacuate people easily. Lots of people had decided to camp in one of these so we decided 'stuff it, we'll just camp here' and as we started un packing I spotted a space a little further in right amongst the tents. Happily we camped there as all the tents that had been put up in said fire lane got moved at 7am on Saturday morning. Think I would've actually cried if that had happened.

We then spent at least an hour putting the tent up in the dark - Carl was understandably not a happy bunny and I felt like crying because the whole festival thing had been my idea. However! Saturday dawned and was a great day - dry and sunny until the evening we saw loads of good bands including Amy Winehouse, Girls Aloud (yay!), The Rifles, The Chemical Brothers, Lenny Kravitz and Goldie Looking Chain. Then on Saturday evening it started to rain and didn't stop until Sunday morning, by which time the entire site had turned into a boggy, horrible swamp. Thank god for RAF issued boots and posh all weather jacket (for Carl) and for hand-me down Hunter wellies from Nicky and attractive lilac kagoul from mum (for me). Sunday was also a fab day but we did decide not to stay for headline act (Muse) so we could get out of the carpark quickly - which I guess shows we're getting all old and sensible :)

The loos in the campsite were absolutely unspeakable - the smell was so bad we didn't dare go near them, but the loos in the arena were actually great. Long queues but every single one we went into was clean and some even had loo roll in! I think the trick is to approach the toilets with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised when they're not full of poo, rather than approach with optimism and be horrified with the contents. Was nice to get home and have a shower though!

Love Kate xxxx

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August weather

So you'd think that being an August baby I would be accustomed to approaching my birthday bathed in sunshine and planning out door activity and ways to pass the time that involve soaking up the summer sun and balmy breeze. However, I've had enough rain soaked birthday BBQ's in my time to know that it invariably pees it down even if it is August. So why then, with last summer being one of the wettest ever and this one being little better, did I think it was a good idea to book tickets to V Festival the weekend before my birthday?!

I think Carl and I are going to get payback for not having any rain on our camping holiday in July. Nobody's that lucky with the British weather. Luckily being a dog owner I'm a bit more prepared for weather than when I skipped off to Glastonbury aged 17 without so much as a kagoul. So if you have time to do a quick sundance between now and Saturday that would be good :)

Love Kate xxxx

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Like many people I watched the Olympics opening ceremony and like many people was absolutely gob smacked by them. Then like many British people thought Oh my giddy aunt (nothing personal, Peggy) London is going to have to compete with that in four years time. We couldn't even get the millennium celebrations right!
Erin thought the best we could muster was morris dancers. Mike (her boyfriend) said that if we wanted to show what England was like we should have threatening hoodies and lager louts. I thought about what was quite impressive recently and thought of Diana's funeral. Maybe we could do it like a funeral but without a corpse. However my colleague Andrew, hit on a good idea. As we were musing on the problem he pointed out that some of our most popular exports are Benny Hill, Carry On films and Mr Bean! We could have the athletes dressed up as naughty nurses and dirty old men! Like this.
Or does anyone have a better idea?