NYE In The Cotswolds – Pt 2

On New Years Eve we pretty much all woke up with very sore heads.  Matt and Phil kindly made everyone bacon and egg sandwiches and cups of tea to nurse us back to health.  Slowly we got ready to go for a refreshing and exhilarating walk through the quaint English countryside, however no one really took into consideration the extremely heavy rainfall we’d heard throughout the night… this would turn out to be our downfall (HA!  Downpour, rainfall, get it?!  No?  Alright).

I took a few pictures of our cottage and the surroundings while I waited for people to get their walking boots on (although some people, myself included, only had trainers, and others had very unsuitable footwear – most notably Tamara).

Our lovely cottage, Juniper House

 

Then we started the walk!  It was a half hour to the starting point, so we followed the leader (Matt) and took in the quintessential English-ness around us.

Matt had everything a leader could wish for – emergency torch, a hip flask full of whisky, a keen sense of adventure and a laminated folder of maps and local directions.

 

Before turning off onto a narrow path we saw the above river riding rather high.  Ignoring this huge signal of danger completely we just carried on!  Gotta love the British attitude eh?  When all the odds are against you and you don’t even have proper walking shoes, just ignore it and carry on!

 

After a short while we were met by this field.  It looked a bit wet.  Turns out it was completely flooded.  Nevertheless we put our trust in Matt who led us across with gritty determination.  At first the ice cold marsh water seeping into our shoes was quite funny, by the time we reached the gate the novelty had worn off and fears of trench-foot and gangrene had set in.  Would we even make it back to the cottage alive?!

The troops follow a highly strategic route across the field, more commonly known as winging it

Poor Tamara had the least suitable shoes and became stranded.  Phil rescued her by way of a piggy back.

Needless to say when we saw the state of the next path we were meant to take, it was a unanimous NO.  We took a different route on Matt’s direction, hoping it would be a little bit dryer.

Any volunteers?

Things started to look up a little bit now, although there was a great deal of discontentment in the group at Matt’s leadership and map reading skills.  We carried on down this path for about twenty minutes until we reached what can only be described as a dead end.

How many men does it take to read a map?  More than this apparently.

 

How many men does it take to ask for directions?  One.  Matt to be precise.

 

The boys look on in disdain

What happened next was in hindsight hilarious but at the time in no way hilarious whatsoever.  We had to walk back over the flooded field.  I’d only just got the feeling back in my toes.

Matt tries desperately to keep up morale

Once over the field however, our luck looked up –  we found a concrete path.  We ambled through a farm and eventually found a safe haven – a pub.

Tamara and I made an adorable friend
This farm had New Years Eve dinner sorted
A quick blow dry before heading into the pub’s warmth.
Is there really anything cosier than an English pub?  I really don’t think there is.  We stayed here much longer than planned.  But eventually we did have to leave, there were pizzas to eat and drinks to be drunk back at Juniper House.
Big up the thatched roof cottage

We got a little sidetracked on the walk back by an awesome park.

Pretty sky

In an attempt to be a bit more sensible (and because some were still feeling rough), a few took naps once back at the cottage.  Matt redeemed himself by taking on pizza duty, myself and the other two girls put on pretty clothes and the beer/wine/gin came out once again.

NYE In The Cotswolds – Pt 1

The Cotswolds is an absolutely adorable part of the UK.  This year (last year?) I headed down there with a big group of Poms and a sprinkling of Aussies (Melburnians to be precise, woo!) to eat and drink ourselves into festive stupors for four days – with the occasional walk thrown in here and there.  I also took my running gear just to be optimistic (it stayed in my bag the whole time).

On Monday Phil, Tamara and I arrived to a warm and cosy cottage somewhere along Fosse Way bustling with Yorkshiremen carrying beers.  Boded well.  We had dinner reservations at the local pub at 8:30pm so until then we explored the cottage and got started on the wide variety of beverages available.  Beer, prosecco, red wine and even gin – I made cocktails.

The first living room

 

Gorgeous little kitchen

 

After it was discovered there was a children’s play room next to the living room, we did what anyone would do and turned snakes and ladders into a drinking game.

 

 

 

 

 

Later we arrived at the pub which was literally stumbling distance from our cottage.  Everybody picked their tipple and we ate.

 

The food was a little overpriced, but that’s what happens in the middle of nowhere.  I had venison wellington although most went for the pork belly.

Back at the cottage we let our food settle and then the drinking resumed.

 

 

For some reason the children’s play room had by this point become the congregation point for everyone.  This night was a very late one for everyone.  I got to bed around 3am I think and I was one of the first to go.

One by one we all dropped off.  Plans for the following day involved a long country walk and then more drinking.  Naturally we all had high hopes for this, naturally things didn’t go the way we planned…

A Quick Stop In London

This week I went to visit my brother Nick who lives in Balham.  We call Nick the ‘German’ of the family, because he is incredibly organised and precise about everything.  Naturally, when I arrived Tuesday morning he had a full itinerary mapped out that would take up my two days there.

I dropped my stuff at Nick’s lovely and surprisingly-roomy-for-London flat then we headed out in search of brunch.

 

We browsed a few places before settling down at Trinity Stores, a gorgeous little cafe right next to Balham station.  

 

They had autumnal decor up in the forms of leaves on the ceiling and root vegetables on the tables.

 

 

 

Next we headed to Southbank to browse the Christmas markets.  We found an absolute belter of a present for mum, which I won’t reveal in case she reads this.  I am considering moving to London provided I can find work, so far my three potential cities are the big smoke, Bristol and Manchester.  To be honest I really did notice the unfriendliness of London on this visit, but I guess after a year in Melbourne I’ve just grown used to people smiling all the time.

 

 

 

 

After a couple of mulled wines and a shivery chat Nick took me to one of his favourite haunts, a little gin bar called The Oliver Conquest.

 

 

Then we started to make our way back to the flat.  We stopped off in Clapham on the way to take a quick look at the street my mum used to live on when she was in her early twenties (lived in Paris in her early twenties, and in London too, go mum!) and then to her old local pub, The Windmill.

 

 

According to mum the decor wasn’t as nice as it is now back in her day!  A quick change and freshen up at Nick’s and then we headed out for dinner.  He took me to Franco Manca which is a new addition to Balham.  They already have a few really successful places in Brixton and other parts of London, their prices are very low for London too.

 

 

 

I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t finish the whole thing

A few cocktails along Clapham High Street later and I was well and truly knackered.  The next morning my lovely brother made me a bacon sandwich for breakfast and we headed back to the city to peruse the National Gallery.  He also pointed out the below instalment, apparently Boris Johnson appointed a female artist to create something and she opted to produce a Big Blue Cock.  Brilliant!

 

A few hours later and I was on a train back up north taking in the beautiful winter scenery.  I want to go back to see Nick at some point and explore Brixton, but nevertheless we certainly packed a lot in to just two days.  London’s a place I only ever feel I’m scratching the surface with, that makes me think the only way to truly discover it would be to live there.

Jeudi et Vendredi à Paris

Our final couple days in gay Paree.  We went to the East parts of the city (on foot, had to work off the wine and kir somehow) to Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  I recommend spending the two euros it costs for a map, we didn’t and quickly got horribly lost.  That with the first signs of lunch hunger was not a good combo.

It’s a beautiful cemetery, as they all are in Paris.  We tracked down the graves of Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.  Grave hunting is hungry work, so now we headed to Gare de Lyon to seek out the famous Le Train Bleu restaurant.

We took the metro instead of walking (we were really hungry).  The interior of the restaurant is absolutely stunning, reminiscent of the Palace at Versailles.

 

 

I love food.  I love cooking it, looking at it and definitely eating it.  I don’t mind paying more for good food.  The main we went for tasted good, but it didn’t look good.  It actually reminded me of a school dinner.  Worth 37 euros?  No, I don’t think so.  The absence of any vegetables confused us a little.  I guess you need to spend more here.  That said, my dessert was amazing.

Le Train Bleu is expensive – I started looking at the wine menu and remarked to mum that you could only buy some wines by the bottle…. then I realised that was actually the price for a glass.  But I was glad we went, it’s super pretty.

On Thursday night we headed to Arc du Triomphe to meet up with Carys, who is my best friend’s younger sister working as an au pair for a year.  We wandered the Christmas markets, drank mulled cider and almost lost our lives crossing the road at Place du Concorde.

Friday morning was a quick stop at Shakespeare and Company, an awesome little bookshop just next to Notre Dame.

 

 

 

 

After this we grabbed a coffee and headed off to the airport, waving goodbye to France for now.  Au revoir!

Mecredi à Paris

Today we went to the Palace of Versailles for a good look around.  I love history (so much so I studied it at University) so touristy things like this are often right up my street.  It was still lung clenchingly cold, and even though my ears hurt it was nice to be in the beginnings of a proper European winter.  I’ve missed it a little!

The palace is stunning as you approach it, and even more so inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were a bit knackered by Wednesday, so on our way back from the palace we just picked up some food from a supermarket, wandered around Les Halles, stopped for another glass of kir and then had dinner together in our hotel room with a bottle of very dry, French wine.