Barcelona, Such a Beautiful Horizon

Continuing my reminiscing….

After leaving Paris we drove 130miles before I did my stint of the driving – which turned out to be my only stint, probably for both of our safety!  The drive from Paris to Barcelona is around 650miles so we made a stop over at a good old Formule 1 hotel in a town called Cahors – quite a pretty town.

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The next morning we decided to take the smaller roads to see a bit more of the area, making a stop in Toulouse; a quick visit to the main square which was very pretty.  Upon leaving the centre, we heard a strange popping sound and pulled over to see what it was – a huge screw in our quickly flattening tyre.

As I mentioned in my previous post we had made so many lists of things to pack and the boot of the car was so full it took a while to unpack everything to get to the spare tyre.  When we eventually reached the tyre we found we’d forgotten to bring a wheel brace!  We spent a while driving around looking for a garage, no where was open – it being a Sunday. In the end we resorted to parking in the car park and calling the RAC – luckily we had taken out European cover.  We waited an hour for our rescue in unshaded 39C sun. Thankfully a quick tyre change sorted all out.

CampingPunctures.jpgEventually we made it to Camping Globo Rojo in Canet De Mar – really lovely site with excellent facilities and a pool – hurrah!  We spent the next few days travelling in and out of Barcelona by train – around a 50minute journey for only €6 return.

Barcelona is a fascinating city, we had never been before so we weren’t quite sure what to expect.  After leaving the train station, mapless, we wondered around the streets until we came across Casa Batlló – one of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces.  It is immediately obvious that this is a work of Gaudi; covered in tiny mosaic tiles, the unconventional roof, curves and patterns everywhere.  The interior of the house is indescribable – I don’t think we saw many straight lines.  Gaudi refurbished the house in 1904 but much of the interior is strikingly modern. It is hard to believe it was designed over a century ago!

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View from street, roof detail, attic arches and internal light in hall.
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Fireplace, internal hall, door frame details,  unusual light fitting and ceiling.
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Typical tourists.
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Beautiful window on the first floor.
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Chimney Stack

Next we wondered our way to the Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s greatest, unfinished masterpiece!  Again, like Casa Batlló it is hard to describe, it is very surreal.  Even unfinished and covered in scaffolding (a common theme on our travels!) it is breathtaking.

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Some details from the exterior and interior of the Sagrada Familia
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Watching over Barcelona.

Park Güell is another of Barcelona’s sights that is well worth visiting.  The walk up the steep hill approaching it was a struggle in the heat but the view you are rewarded with on arrival is more than worth it.  The park is full of wonderfully landscaped areas and Gaudi creations, including his home.

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Park Güell

Lastly we wondered down Las Ramblas – lined with street performers and tourists.  We decided to take a break from the hussle and bussle and found the beautiful Plaça Reial where we ate some great tapas and paella.  We also stumbled across the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria – a fantastic market hall selling every food you could think of.

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Colourful sights at St Joseph’s Market
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The beautiful Plaça Reial and Las Ramblas street performer.
We both really enjoyed Barcelona, it is a beautiful city full of amazing architecture and atmosphere.  Our next planned journey was to meet my family in the French town of Roujan for a week.  On our way back up to France we made a stop at the pretty Spanish town of Figueres to visit the Dalì Museum – as you can imagine very bizarre but fascinating!
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Figueres street and the Salvador Dalì Theatre Museum.
We spent the following week with my family, lazing by the pool and visiting the fortified town of Carcassonne – supposedly the inspiration for Disney’s castle.  A very interesting town with some lovely places to eat.
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Carcassonne
Our next planned stop was the Côte D’Azur, particularly Nice and Monte Carlo – day dreams for another day!

Live, learn, love

 

Laura

xx.

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Dreams of Travels Gone By

This gloomy, wet, January weather has got me reminiscing about travels gone by, in particularly the 3 months my partner and I spent travelling Europe after we finished university.  I decided I would put this day dreaming to good use and write a few posts about our experiences.

We started planning our trip during our second year as a motivation during the increased workload of the final year.  We both worked the holidays at a local farm shop and pick your own.  In between weighing baskets of fruit and pitting gooseberries I was busy reading my Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, making lists upon lists of places to visit, where to stay and what to take with us.

We toyed initially with the idea of buying a van and converting it into a camper van, however this proved very expensive and distracting to two third year students!  We finally realised the cheapest way to travel was by car and to camp.  Admittedly, we are more “glampers” than campers so the car was stuffed full of everything we could possibly need.

Two weeks after our graduation ceremonies we set off in our Renault Megane, packed to the brim with everything off my list and feeling ridiculously excited.

We travelled by ferry from Dover to Calais and spent the first 3 nights at the lovely Huttopia near Versailles.

 

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We weren’t very good at “roughing it”!

We spent the next few days catching the train into Paris from the nearby station.  Paris is one of my favourite cities and we have visited a few times, I never tire of it.  My favourite part of Paris is the Notre Dame cathedral.  It’s situated so beautifully on an embankment in the Seine.  The building is covered in ornate carvings and to stand and take in its height does make you feel quite small and insignificant.  We also spent some time exploring the Tuileries Gardens that surround the Louvre – which we visited during our previous stay.
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Beautiful Paris
 

One place that we have returned each time we have been to Paris is the Maison de Gyros – unashamed to say the BEST kebabs we have ever eaten, so much so we’ve been 4 times on various visits, definitely check it out if you’re in the area.

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Delicious!

For our last day in Paris we visited the Palace of Versailles; a short walk from the site, down a beautiful tree lined avenue. Upon arriving at the gates I realised we had completely underestimated the scale of the place and should have got up earlier!  It really is a grand palace of a huge scale – occupying 70,000 square metres of land!

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The grounds of the Palace

We spent hours walking the gardens, eating sorbet on the lawns and exploring Marie Antoinette’s Le Hameau – a small hamlet within the grounds built by her architect Richard Mique.
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Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet in the grounds of Versailles
 
The opulence of the palace really is something you have to see to believe.  Beautiful frescos cover the walls, gold gilding everywhere you look, it really is a spectacle.

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A chapel in the Palace

The busiest area of the palace was quite obviously the Hall of Mirrors.  Undeniably it is stunning, if not ostentatious.  We tried to get the best photo we could but the place was packed with tourists – the mirrors made it seem even busier than it probably was.

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The very busy but impressive Hall of Mirrors

The next morning,  we packed the boot of the car (with much difficulty!) and set off again for our next stop – Barcelona.

 

Live, learn, love

 

Laura

xx.

 

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year!

We have had a great 2015 – visited new places, good friend’s weddings, the spa f1 grand prix, Fleetwood Mac…  Let’s hope 2016 is full of as many exciting and happy times.

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Happy New Year!

 

Laura

xx.

 

Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich!

We first went to Berlin in 2011, mainly for the Christmas markets. After visiting various other markets in different countries we just couldn’t quite compare them to Berlin. We were so taken with the atmosphere, the people and the places that we decided to return again this year. We spent the majority of our time exploring the Christmas markets of Alexander Platz, Rotes Rathaus, Potsdamer Platz and the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt. Even the Grinch would have a hard time avoiding the festive spirit at any of these markets. They are full of people from all over the world, catching up with friends, eating all kinds of delicious food and mostly indulging in at least a few mugs of glühwein.

We must have eaten our way through most of the food on offer at the markets. Bratwurst, Frikadeller, sliced and fried potatoes, crêpes with apfelmus, baked apples and of course currywurst, to name but a few.

Frikadeller

 

Lot’s of mugs of glühwein

He wasn’t so keen at first!
Delicious baked apple with raisins, almonds and vanilla sauce

 

Decorations on one of the stalls

Very patiently collecting mugs for me 🙂

As well as overindulging on anything in sight, we tried to visit much of the cultural sights that are everywhere you turn in the city. Berlin has such a sad but fascinating history which can be quite difficult to get your head around in only 4 days. What we admire so much about the city is that all is laid bare for you to see. Scars of the past are scattered across buildings and over the ground all around you. Nothing is hidden or excused but serves rather as a warning to never to return to such times and as a sign of the progress the city has made. It is now a vibrant and exciting place to be and the people of Berlin are welcoming and warm.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words so I shall stop singing Berlin’s praises and let the photographs tell you the rest. There are many more on my instagram page so please take a look

 

Station entrance at Friedrichstraße – once a boarder crossing between East and West Berlin
The impressive dome of the Reichstag building designed by Lord Norman Foster

 

The modern buildings of Potsdamer Platz

 

The Gendarmenmarkt

 

The Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate

 

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

 

Symbolic sculpture near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

 

Detail from the new Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Live. Learn. Love.
Laura

xX.

Cosy Christmas

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I love this time of year.  The food, the family, the friends, all of it!  I  have been itching to put up our decorations! Last Sunday I managed to persuade the other half to venture into the attic to get them down and so for a week now I have been finishing off our festive home :).

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Tried a new spot for the tree, lasted about 2 days before I moved it to the usual spot!

I am a bit of a perfectionist with the Christmas tree, I’ve already moved it around a few time and has finally settled back in it’s usual spot.  I think the tree has reached maximum decoration capacity this year, I’m struggling to find empty branches for new ornaments.  Still, I imagine I will end up finding some new additions in the shops.

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Much better!

I also managed to persuade my Dad to help put up some lights outside – as you can see form the photo, my Dad tells hilarious jokes…….hmmm.

We were hoping to have our log burner installed and running by now but it has proven to be a lot more work than we anticipated.  We have managed to install the slate slab and the other half has been very busy checking that all his work meets the building regulations – very confusing! This weekend he is planning to spend a lot of time on it so hopefully I will have a few more photos for you :).

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My two handy men 🙂
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Going for the “modern” look……. 

 

Until next time,

Live, Learn and Festive Love

 

Laura

xx.

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

….Dare I say it?

Well, it certainly is looking at lot like Christmas in school.  We finish early December for Christmas so I like to make the most of the short few weeks before the holidays!

I’ve been busy this month planning all kinds of festive crafts for my little lovelies.  I’ve started by introducing a little bit of winter into our classroom.

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My room is pretty small so I have to make use of any surfaces I have.  I’ve used our craft storage unit to create a winter themed mark making area – please excuse the missing “i” in winter, I think it must have dropped behind the unit, I’ve just noticed!

I’ve included a couple of word banks from Twinkl, Teacher’s Pet and Communication 4 All as well as some winter themed songs and word cards (links at bottom of this post).  I will be adding some winter themed paper and “sparkly” pens/crayons to encourage them to write independently.

I also try to select books from the reading corner to complement my theme. At the moment they are really enjoying Stick Man by Julia Donaldson (they love any of her books).

I’ve put up one wintery display so far, which is a festive house.  I’m going to use the “windows” to display their Christmas cards when they’re made.

Wall display

I used wallpaper with a brick pattern to back the board and regular display paper for the windows.  We were very lucky to be given some ex-display materials from a parent who works in a well known department store, which I used to create the door.  The wreath is made of the children’s handprints.  I used scraps of felt to create the christmas lights on the tree and some fake snow material from the pound shop.

Another addition I put out each year is this gorgeous knitted nativity scene.

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The children love playing with it and using it to act out the nativity.  My partner’s Grandmother knitted it for me to use in my classroom. She was a very talented lady. Unfortunately she passed away last month, so this lovely little nativity set is extra special to us :).

So between sneaking bits of Christmas into my classroom (and home!), we have been very busy rehearsing for our Christmas play  (A Little Bird Told Me by Out of the Ark) which will be performed next week!  As I mentioned, we finish earlier than most schools for the holidays so our play is always put on during the last week of November.

On a non school related note, our slate hearth slab is ready for pick up meaning we can finally start installing the log burner this weekend, so I will take some photos and blog about that hopefully next week if it’s finished! 🙂

I’ve included below some of the links for resources I have mentioned in this post.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading.

Laura

xx.

Resources:

Winter Word Mat – Communication4all

Winter Word Mat from Teacher’s Pet

Winter Topic Cards from Twinkl

Little Snowflakes Song from Early LeaRning HQ

http://www.therange.co.uk/arthouse-rustic-brick-wallpaper//the-range/fcp-product/115262

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Hope you’ve had a spooktacular (sorry!) day.

image1Thought I’d upload a photo of the pumpkins we carved.  I say we, what I actually mean is I decided the design and the other half carved (I told you he is clever!)

We had a few trick or treaters but luckily we had lots of sweets left for us to treat ourselves with.

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Also had an extra treat of some Belgian cherry beer – first tried it at the Belgian Grand Prix this year.  Guy found a little Belgian shop in town which stocks it – very tasty!

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Enjoyed drinking my Lindermans and watching The Rocky Horror Show Live on Sky Arts HD – Looking forward to going again in February!!

All in all, a lazy and relaxing Halloween.

Laura

xx.