Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How exciting!

Have you seen the trailer for the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?! OMG, so exciting! Big debate on Twitter now about what's better, HP or the Twilight series. Uh, hello, no contest!

Here is link in case you haven't seen it:

Wonder if they're going to explain why they made that fundamental change at the end of the last film with Harry on the top of the tower?

Feel the urge to re-read the books all over again! But we've got until November (sigh).


Friday, June 25, 2010

No to gite say McNabb/Noyes

We have decided against buying a gite. For the economic reasons see my blog.

The other reasons are largely because it would mean Brian being away on his own for long periods to do the place up, and as I am still working I could only get there 4 weeks of the year anyway. If we were both retired and could spend a few months there at a time we would have been more tempted, but in the current circumstances it just doesn't pan out sadly.

Nice idea but not the right idea.

It wasn't so much the doing up of a place because unlike Chris and Xavier we would have done most of it ourselves (ie Brian) and there would have been no time pressure to finish so no need for architects and builders. France doesn't have building inspectors coming to see that you have done everything right, they apparently work on the theory that if you are going to live there you will make sure it is ok. You have to get a qualified electrician to do the junction box and wire in the sockets, we would have got someone to install a fosse septique, but the rest they leave you to it.

They have a really good way of doing roofing slates with a thing like a crochet hook which means you don't need to nail the slates and therefore they don't split. They sell lovely staircases in Mr Bricolage that you can just buy step by step. They have lovely windows and doors, especially the doors which have a window part in the top half so you can open the window but the door is still shut. Had my car been bigger we might have brought one home for the cottage, they would be ideal.

It was fascinating and we learnt a lot, but won't be buying anything.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

France - bits of it anyway

This is a picture of a heron which I took when we were having a picnic. It got in by mistake and now is refusing to go away! It was meant to be a photo of Brian and me having the picnic.

We have been to France, as some will know, and had a lovely, but very busy time. Brian is toying with the idea of investing his savings into a (to be done up) French property as an investment/holiday home. So we unexpectedly - not having planned to go abroad at all this year, especially as we have a holiday booked in the Scilly Isles in September- went to France. We had a 2 centre holiday.
This being blogger here is Brian outside the second gite which was in the Morbihan area of Brittany, near a town called Josselin and about half an hour from Vannes. From here we explored an amazing amount of Brittany, but also had a day at the beach at Carnac.
This is me outside the first gite - a basic, but very cheap and perfectly adequate apartment in Normandy, a few miles outside Domfront. You will notice that the glass of wine was already being put to good use
Here I am again in Bagnoles sur l'Orne which is a spa town and very pretty. It reminded us both of Uriage, though I think Uriage is prettier.
This is the remains of supper on day 1. If you ever travel to France on a Sunday REMEMBER to take two days worth of food with you. Everything between Le Havre and Domfront was shut except one boulangerie somewhere or other. It had this pizza. I do use the word pizza with some reservations because no Italian would have recognised it as one. It was a pizza base, with tomato puree and then what looked like all the onions left after you have drained the soup from a french onion soup. Only hunger made us eat half of it, the other half went into the bin. Thankfully we also got bread, and the welcome pack from the gite contained cheese and wine, so we survived. We did have tea, coffee, sugar, biscuits etc, but not meals.

No more pics because I can't be bothered to fight with blogger to get them in. We had a good time. The weather was mixed in week one but fab in week two. We saw a fair few houses round the south of Normandy, and although the would probably be affordable the area didn't really appeal. It has some lovely places, but the area is clearly suffering a bit and we didn't feel there would be enough to do there in some ways. We went off to the coast near Mont St Michel which was about an hour away and instantly felt happier, so came to the conclusion that Normandy is just too far inland for us and we need to be nearer the sea.

Brittany was more us. We were staying in the Morbihan area which we both really liked, but which was perhaps a bit more genteel than we are - more Cowbridge than Llantwit. We loved Dinan, and so many of the towns round there are just lovely. So much mediaeval housing is retained in the town centres, and they have lots and lots of flowers everywhere, with parks, walks, no litter and no grafitti. It was lovely. We went to a town called Heulgoat in finistere for the day, and saw some houses there, and that area is now heading the popularity stakes for a few reasons. One is cost - it is cheaper there than the rest of Brittany, but the coast is half an hour away, the area is lovely, and Brian seems to have a tendency to go to nearly the end of a peninsula, not quite fall off, and feel he likes it there!

It was great fun, and we have lots of information now to think about whether it is sensible or worth doing, whether it would be too much work (we are talking cheap renovation projects here) etc etc.

We are now back in Pembs for the last few days of my hols (back to work on Monday!) with lots of food for thought, and a much,much nicer pizza for lunch!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pink elephants (and many other colours) on parade.

Before I get started can I just say that we spotted Alice on Songs of Praise. She is on the left hand side of the cathedral and you can see her briefly during the third hymn. What a strange programme that is. The cameraman was obsessed with the vaulting so we saw more ceiling than people. And they cut the lovely soprano singing Handel to a flock of sheep!!

Anyway, I digress. Trev and I decided to go in search of elephants in London today. It is a huge art exhibition of over 250 elephants to highlight and raise money for Asian elephants. They are being herded up on Friday before they go to Chelsea Royal Hospital. From there they are going to be auctioned. I would love to buy one but I think they would be a little out of my league. They are all different and designed by different artists.

We spotted our first two outside Guardian Royal Exchange from the bus. Then we came across another six in Trafalgar Square. The first picture is me sitting in front of one.

From there we walked down to St James's Park where we saw 6 more. We then walked to Green Park and were passed by soldiers on parade! Something to do with the Queen's birthday I would think.

In Green Park there was a happy herd - there must have been 20 or 30 I think. Here are a few.

That top elephant should buy some good moisturiser.

We stopped for lunch on Picadilly and found this princess in Burlington Arcade. (That's the blue one I am not wasting any more time trying to get these pictures where I want them)
She is covered in Swarovski crystals! We also saw a 3 excellent hares outside the Royal Academy by Barry Flannagan. They had also decorated the statue of Sir Joshua Reynolds with a garland.

After that we went back to Green Park then walked back to the river and saw some more on the South Bank. Eventually recrossing the river and seeing a couple more by St Paul's. If you want to see the lot you can look here. It made a brilliant walk and was great fun. I hope they make a lot of money for the cause.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I'm On't Telly!

Well, I might be anyway. Yes, for all of you who live in the UK you're in for a treat. As you all know, I am super-cool, but what you may not know is that I'm in a Church Choir. Woot!

A couple of months ago I, with some of my fellow choir members, took part in a recording for Songs of Praise, coolest TV show ever I'm sure you agree, and it's just possible I may be in the large group shots when they show the hymns in Winchester Cathedral. I know for certain they will have close ups of some of the cute trebles from our choir not that you'll know who they are, but I was standing nearby!

Anyway, I know you won't be able to contain your excitement when I tell you it's on Sunday 13th June BBC1, 15:30. Enjoy!

More anon

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Spanish sojourn

So I had a wonderful time in Spain last week on my friend Sam's hen do. Sounds extravagant to travel all that way for a hen do but it was a bloody great excuse for a holiday, and actually worked out less than I've paid for some hen dos in the UK!

We went to a tiny village called Cortes des Baza in Granada and stayed in this amazing cave house. It's like something out of Grand Designs, carved out of the rock, and apparently are quite a feature of the region. It was an incredibly sleepy place to say the least and I think the arrival of a group of British girls for the week was the talk of the town. The locals were very nice though, albeit a bit too friendly - the local goat herder decided to invite himself over for a drink at around midnight on evening which we could've done without!!

We didn't do anything touristy (the Alhambra Palace will have to wait) we just really relaxed by the pool and ate and drank way too much. It was fabulous. I read a lovely book called 'Eat.Pray.Love' which I would definitely recommend for holiday reading and also got stuck into the Steig Larsson Millenium trilogy which I've been saving up. We had a few trips out to the local bars but it was really very chilled out and not crazy hen do-ish at all - I think we're all past that now!

To carry on the international flavour, Sam and Ian's wedding is in Italy in August which has definitely softened the blow of this fabulous Spanish trip being over.

Because blogger (and Facebook for that matter) hates me and won't let me upload any photos, I've resorted to another Picasa album instead:

Spanish Sojourn Pics

Love Kate xxxx