Tag Archives: out of town

his and hers paris… for a day

19 May

One of those cliche lines Londoners use on visitors when extolling the benefits of living in this beautifully flawed city is its close proximity to Europe and that “it’s so quick and easy to pop across to the continent for a weekend”… In reality we all know that we’re as likely to pop to Barcelona as we’re likely to travel from Brixton to Broadway market to meet a friend for brunch… i.e. not very.

Having cast a very cynical view on how far we spread our European wings, to celebrate the final leg of the His and Hers week of birthdays (Jane’s), we decided to take advantage of the proximity of Paris and take a day trip to visit our Gallic neighbours.

With the trip by Eurostar taking less time and money than it does for me to return home to North Devon (ridiculous I know), by catching a 7.15am train from St Pancras and returning from Paris at 9.15pm, you can pack a lot into a day.. Here’s a little photo journal of our day!


Some last minute itinerary planning (please note the homemade Paris “handbook” – one half of the His and Hers has organisational “issues”)

First stop of the day was the Musee Rodin – there were certain tell tale signs that helped us find our way there..

Seeing all of the roses starting to bloom in the garden (or should I say jardin), really made it a special way to start the day

We couldn’t have asked for better weather to appreciate such classic sculptures – Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’


And George coming face to face with the realism of Rodin’s work

After the joys of Musee Rodin, we were all in need of a caffeine pick me up, so we hit a cafe to sample a french cappuccino (way too frothy) and catch up on Paris’ view on the morning news..


After possibly a little too much caffeine, we got a little childish with our photo ops in Jardin des Tuileries…

A wander down Rue Saint-Honoré via Colette (parting with too much money) and into the Marais…

Taking in the magnificence of the Pl. de Vosges – impossible to do in one photo!

And after a full day of walking, a little respite to take in respective news from across the channel..

We were slightly disappointed in the meagre selection of brie in the supermarket….

But we made do and had quite a piquenique on the Eurostar home!


a slightly cyc-hotic idea

2 May

In just over a month’s time this half of the His and Hers will be heading south to Barcelona to spend a few days head nodding to the bleeps and wobbles at the excellent Sonar Festival.

And to get there I will be traveling… by bicycle. Yep, in a moment of bravado / stupidity / drunkenness, a good buddy and I thought a great way to warm up for a weekend of jogging on the spot would be cycling the 900 odd kms from Paris to Barca.

Usually in my travels around London I don’t use a map to guide me – I think that’s half the fun of cycling in London. Getting lost on the one way back streets and mews of Fitzrovia, or seeing how steely your nerve is when all of a sudden you’re heading into the Blackwall tunnel (this hasn’t actually happened to me, although the homing pigeon in me does have a penchant for lanes of the A40).

With the increased level of cycling in preparation for our impending adventure, without fail my geeky tendencies have come to the fore and I’ve been utilising a little technology to help out.

Bike Hub is a ‘cycle satnav’ app that uses Sustrans (pioneer of the ‘Safe Routes’ cycling in the UK) routes to plot quickest or quietest cycle routes in UK & Eire, and Cyclemeter is a GPS app that continually records your time, location, distance, elevation and speed.

What’s great about bike hub is that you have the choice of plotting a number of different route options – from simply A to B journeys or, if like me you want to do one long ride and end up in the same place, it will plot you a round route across whatever distance you want to go (brilliantly you can do it by points of interest – i.e. Pubs).

Once you’ve plotted your journey you can download the journey to your phone and it’s a Satnav to guide you on your merry (cycle)way. The other thing I haven’t mentioned about this very useful app is that its free!

The cyclemeter app on the other hand is more of a post ride / fitness tracker (this appeals to my competitive nature). You can plot regular journeys and sync them to your calendar to see how you’ve improved over time. Warning – if you’re anything like me it can make the journey to work slightly dangerous…  Yes I will make it to work in under 17 minutes!  (I am that much of a loser).

This app will set you back £2.99, but it can also be used for gauging running and walking, so I guess its worth the outlay.

From my pretty regular use of the app it appears to be pretty accurate – the only discrepancy sometimes seems to be with measuring fastest speeds.. However I quite like this, it’s flattering to think I could reach 65KM/H heading down Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace.. Watch out Sir Chris Hoy!

heading south to northside

23 Apr

I am in Melbourne for a couple of weeks and there are a few little haunts that I just can’t miss when I’m in town. One of them is Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, which is home to a clutch of great little shops, restaurants and Northside Records – the “best record store in the world” (The Next Men’s words, not mine).

Ollie’s post on Friday about Record Store Day spurred me on to see how the celebrations went down at Northside. Run by one of Melbourne’s favourite DJs, DJ Chris Gill, Northside is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

To celebrate Record Store Day, Northside had amazing instore appearances from Kurtis Blow, Maseo from De La Soul, The Putbacks and The Psyde Projects. DJs were also playing all day. Chris was having so much fun he was late for a family wedding – so late that he had to divebomb into a pew just as the bride started walking up the aisle. You can imagine how that went down.

Judging by the tunes blaring out of Northside today, it seems Chris doesn’t really need Record Store Day as an excuse to have a good time, but to celebrate a decade of supporting soul – new, old and reinvented – Chris assures me there will be non stop parties all year long.

With previous instores by The Bamboos, The Congos, Eddie Palmieri and loads of Melburnian up-and-comers, I think record lovers can be confident he will be true to his word.

Northside Records – 236 Gertrude Street  Fitzroy, +61 3 9417 7557

shanghai fabric market

20 Apr

Since my parents moved to Shanghai, my sister and I have visited them regularly, and quickly sniffed out the fabric market just south of the Bund. It is a pretty overwhelming place, and there is a lot of very shiny fabric, but there are definitely some treasures to be found.

Just last weekend I was there and bought some beautiful Liberty fabric to line a parka. (Some Liberty fabric is imported from Japan, and a lot seems to “fall off the back of a truck” in Shanghai on its way over to Great Marlborough Street.) I also bought loads of patterned cotton to make sundresses for summer – we have a week in Greece planned for early June and I need to get kitted out. I will show you the fruits of my sewing labours as they emerge…but don’t hold your breath. I am very, very slow at sewing (ask George, who’s been asking me to hem his jeans since last February).

My sister, Felicity, was in Shanghai a few weeks ago and bought some fabric to make cushions. I love big floor cushions as a way of brightening up a room and providing extra seating when surprise guests arrive, and Felicity has done a beautiful job here. I love the crazy combinations she has put together. (This picture is slightly misleading as these cushions are HUGE.)

Now…to sneakily stow them away in my suitcase when I fly back to London!

Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market: 399 Lujiabang Road, Shanghai

shanghai cycle chic

17 Apr

We Londoners consider ourselves pretty chic cyclists. We have the Cityboys with all the gear and no idea (Ollie), the girls on Pashleys with baguettes and flowers in their baskets (me), and the gnarly old timers who swear at pedestrians and snarl at you when you pause at the traffic lights with them (George).

The Shanghainese take it to another level. Shanghai is wonderfully flat so everyone is on their bike most of the time. Initially nervous of cycling along an eight lane freeway, I quickly got with the program and realised it is the quickest and most scenic way to get around. Also, because of the traffic, nobody actually moves that fast. If you do get hit, it will likely be by a cab moving at 2kms an hour, so you should survive relatively unscathed. Dad (who lives in Shanghai), thinks the authorities are trying to phase out cyclists by making it more and more difficult for them to move freely, but I think that would be a travesty. We certainly would no longer be able to see sights like this:

Just catching a few zzzzs…

Group power nap…

While this chap’s not technically on a bicycle, the fact that he’s carrying around all those hazardous bottles of GAS merits his inclusion…

I just took these photos over a long weekend in Shanghai, but photographer Alain Delorme has seen some real crackers in his time:

I would say this just couldn’t be real, but having been to Shanghai a lot over the last couple of years, I can assure you that ANYTHING is possible.


architecture in helsinki

10 Apr

Helsinki was a pretty fun and random place to spend the long weekend (our decision was slightly swayed by the fact that it was the only place we could fly to using our air miles over Easter).

Some observations:

1. There are three very distinct fashion tribes in Helsinki:

                  The “I have raided the costume cupboard of The Killing” Tribe;

                  The “I only shop at Cheap Monday” Tribe;

                 The “I am on my way to a Rammstein concert” Tribe.

There is no real deviation from any of these three.

2. Spending a freezing, snowing day on the Island of Suomenlinna is a lot more fun if you give each other Scandi names and pretend to be Finnish: “Hedvig! Vi cannot miss zi ferrrry!”

3. Everyone in Finland has a Nokia. Do not use your iPhone in public.

4. Everything in Helsinki is ridiculously expensive (8 euro beer anyone?), including the museums. This beautiful foyer is as far as we could afford to venture into Kiasma, the modern art museum.

By the way, this post has nothing to with the super cute Australian band of the same name. Are they still tambourining their way around Melbourne’s premier live music venues?

caneli café, helsinki

10 Apr

A lot of Helsinki seemed really quite closed over Easter, but we were lucky enough to run into Galih, who opened up his coffee shop just for us. Apparently very popular with visiting Melburnians (we do seem to have a knack for sniffing out great coffee), Caneli Café serves the excellent Johan & Nyström coffee from Sweden.

We spent a great hour or so listening to Smokey Robinson and chatting to Galih, who moved to Finland from Indonesia with his family in the 1990s.

Caneli Café only opened in March, but already seems pretty popular with the local hipsters (we obvs fitted right in!).

Caneli Café: Iso Roobertinkatu 46C, Helsinki, http://www.facebook.com/canelicafe