Friday 31 August 2012

Why revisit a city?

When there are so many new places to explore, why return to a place you've been before?

I'm specifically thinking of Barcelona and Paris, both of which we spent time in on this holiday, having previously stayed there.

1) It's good to see some familiar landmarks
Especially when you're in a country that speaks a different language to your own, there is something to be said for that feeling of familiarity. In Paris for example, you get it the moment you glimpse the Eiffel Tower...

2) You can share places that others haven't visited
In Barcelona, I insisted that we visited Parc Guell - a place A hadn't been before. I knew he'd love it (as well as looking forward to seeing it again myself) and it was lovely to share it with him...

Thursday 30 August 2012

Technical help

I have been utterly rubbish at running recently. My heart is not in it in the same way as some of my other activities, but it is the sport that keeps me most healthy and in shape - ballet and swimming are fabulous but they don't have the same calorie burn!

Yesterday I headed out. I didn't want to run continuously because I knew I'd get tired and demoralised quickly (it's been a while...), so instead I decided to cover a longer distance with 4 minutes walking to 1 minute running. It went well, except for taking a wrong turning and cutting about a mile off the route, and has boosted my confidence to go out again.

What amused me was my technology usage on this walk/run:
  • garmin - for recording the route and my pace (didn't bother with the heart rate monitor seeing as I wasn't running most of it)
  • interval timer app on my phone - this is brilliant! Gone are the days of peering at my garmin repeatedly to work out if I've run the required distance/time. And it buzzes/bings over whichever music or podcast I'm listening to.
  • samsung hope relay app - if you haven't already signed up, please do! Basically, for every mile you walk/run/cycle/skate/etc, Samsung donates £1 to charity. And as an added novelty, you get to make your own mini-runner character and every now and again a recording of a sportsperson wishing you well!
  • podcasts - I love Marathon Talk podcasts and feel like a loser if I listen to them and haven't run in a while. Much better to listen whilst running.
my samsung hope relay character

Wednesday 29 August 2012

What I love about Biarritz and Hendaye

Isn't that amazing?! It was 2pm and we were sat on Hendaye beach, enjoying the sun and waiting for our friend J to arrive.

Why were we waiting for J? Well, apart from the fact that he lives in the area and we were looking foward to catching up after 4 years, he was bringing his surf board!

Not me :) J showing how it's really done.

Because of it's position on the West coast of France, Hendaye usually has really good waves for surfing. It was the first place I ever tried surfing. I have face-planted into these waves many times!

J's board is a beautiful 9' long board - so much more stable than the foam boards I used in Devon and Tenerife. Unfortunately this type of board is very expensive so I won't be getting one any time soon, but it's definitely on my wish list!

It was so good that every time I caught a wave, I at least got my feet on the board; in the hour or so that I was in the water, I even managed to properly surf one wave :) That might not sound like much, but it's much better than my progress in Tenerife last summer! I mostly put the improvement down to the board, but also to J's tuition - it's so handy to have someone watching you and giving new tips each time you fall off.

But it's not just the surfing and beaches that make this area great. It's also the food (for example, my amazing seafood and jacket potato from La Dauphine in St Jean de Luz), the company (I love having friends to visit in different parts of the world!), the fact that Spain is a 10 minute boat ride away and the sunsets...

Friday 24 August 2012

Yummy scrummy

Looking through my holiday snaps I couldn't avoid a food post!

I love food and have a special place in my heart for seafood, so travelling from coast to coast of France and Spain was pretty much perfect for me...

Warning - picture heavy post!

A genius dish of fish and seafood served with a baked potato, from my favourite French restaurant in St Jean de Luz.
Beautiful goats cheese salad in Hendaye.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Ripple-y goodness

Whilst holidaying I put some serious time into my summer colours project: a ripple blanket.

I'm using this pattern from Lucy - it's really straightforward to follow, even for relative newbies like myself. I have only made one proper mistake so far, which is making my initial chain too tight. It's a problem that I'll just have to live with - it's not major - it just means that one edge looks a bit stretched as opposed to all the lovely bendy ripples!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The panda quest continues

The main reason for driving to Madrid whilst all sane Spaniards were heading to the coast was that Madrid has a zoo, and in that zoo they have four pandas! That's a lot of panda-y goodness. After my slightly disappointing encounter with the two at Edinburgh Zoo, we figured four pandas would definitely do the trick :)

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Road Trippin'

As you've probably gathered, I went off exploring for a couple of weeks. It was soooooo much fun and I'm a little disappointed to be home (the holiday blues is normal - right?).

The plans for the trip were pretty sparse: the only things that were booked were the ferry crossings and a hotel in one of the cities we were visiting. Everything else was planned and organised as we went (including a bonus trip to an extra country!).

It looks something like this:

With our major stop points being:
Biarritz/Hendaye (beach, a particular favourite restaurant, surfing and dinner with friends who live in the area)
Madrid (for the pandas at Madrid Zoo, and also the non-camping portion of the holiday)
Barcelona area (city exploration, beach, hopefully meeting with friends - unfortunately we didn't manage this meet-up)

On the way home, we also spent a night in Andorra (why visit two countries when you could visit three?!), met with friends who have recently moved to France (somewhere in the region south east of Bordeaux) and managed an afternoon in Paris.

Beautiful and exhausting :)

PS: I promise some better quality photos to follow - these are mostly quick clicks from my phone!

Monday 20 August 2012

Questionnaire-y type post

Whilst I was off on my jaunts (which I will be blogging about over the next few days), two of my blogging friends (Elle at eat run sail and Mrs DiscoBows at Disco & Bows) nominated me for a Liebster Award. It's not my normal type of post, but here goes...

Liebster is a German word that means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Then answer the questions the tagger sent for them, plus create 11 questions for the people they’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Notify the people you have tagged.
5. No tag backs.

Things about me:
1) I love the sea.
2) I love flying.
3) I'm very good at starting projects and not very good at finishing them. Hopefully, as I age I'm starting to buck this trend.
4) Gardening is a particular example of the above - I love gardening and always start with lots of good intentions and end up not giving the plants enough care and attention.
5) I'm much too worried about what other people think of me and I hate thinking that someone might be laughing at me.
6) If I could do everything I want to, I would need to be a superhero! My ideal weekly activities would be: 2-3 ballet lessons, karate lesson, homegroup, swimming, 1-2 runs, Spanish and/or French lessons, meeting with friends and one quiet night in.
7) I roller skated a LOT as a child (think artistic skating, like ice dancing). I was never great at it but got to the point of landing the odd double jump, which is pretty cool. I am, consequently, quite at home on eight wheels.
8) I have big feet (due to being tall). The other day, a shop assistant in a Spanish department store almost laughed when I asked for a shoe in my size (and it wasn't because of my awful Spanish pronunciation!).
9) I do both ends of the spectrum - tomboy-one-of-the-lads rigging (e.g. for fireworks) and lady-what-lunches (dressing up and enjoying dining out).
10) The fact that I've worked on about 30 fireworks shows does not dull my excitement when I see a show. Sometimes I even jump up and down when watching.
11) Pandas :)

Saturday 11 August 2012

Things I've learnt this week.

If you decide to drive 700 miles in one day, don't do it on the first Saturday in August - you will be stuck in hot traffic jams and almost double your journey time.

Seawater and sunshine is much cheaper than having my highlights done at the hairdresser.

My sun cream strategy (put it on before going out) works better that's A's strategy (put some on when you notice that you're a bit pink)!

Torrential rain in a usually hot and sunny location means the waiters end up having to run between the main restaurant and the plastic-protected outdoor seating area continuously. They will normally do this with good grace even though they are gradually getting more soggy and wind-swept.

Campsites with great showers do exist.

Tea always tastes nicer outside (not a new one, but something I've been reminded of).

Simple meals are the best.

Some friends are so fantastic that you can go without seeing them for several years and it'll feel like yesterday :)

Friday 3 August 2012

I made pie! (sort of)

A couple of days ago I had visitors for dinner so I decided it was a perfect chance to cross another item off my Summer Ambitions list and make a pie.

However, knowing that my guests were not necessarily huge pastry fans (or at least not to the extent that I am), I rummaged through my pie cookbooks and found a perfect sounding Chicken and Ham Cobbler.

As well as being less pastry based, it was also a lot easier to make - basically making the chicken and ham mixture for the base and a savoury, almost scone-like topping. I didn't have the required casserole dish, but I think my large ceramic did the job. And it was yummy :)