Tag: bank holiday

Jaded…

…is the best word I can think of to describe my physical and mental state after Easter weekend.

As usual I threw myself wholeheartedly into the thought of time off work and no alarms by getting my drink on. Vodka has been the nectar of choice, although wine, shots and – randomly – amaretto also made an appearance.

Because I’m lucky enough not to suffer hangovers, I never feel so bad that I say “I’m never drinking again”. I may feel a little delicate, tired and headachey, but I don’t get sick or dizzy or any of the horrible hangover side effects that might limit one’s future imbibement.

This morning I have had a little wobble at myself for drinking too much. I don’t have an alcohol problem by any means, but I don’t have an off switch. And whilst I’m usually limited by a 2 day weekend, 4 days off at Easter meant more booze than usual. I overindulged more than once and the results weren’t pretty. I got emotional and became a handful and the poor husband had to deal with the results. Not fun, for either of us!

Still, Easter tends to mark a line drawn in the sand between winter and summer, and I become aware of the need to at least try and lose some weight as the weather improves and the layers of clothes decrease. There’ll be post work walks in the evening sunshine, early starts for days out and a real kicker to cut back on the bad stuff so I can strut my stuff in the summer sunshine (I really can’t pull that off! I’m so not a strutter!)

Aside from feeling a bit cross with myself and wishing I was at home in bed, Easter was good. The right balance of doing stuff and not doing stuff, seeing family and friends, a gig, some real life clothes shopping (which I hardly ever do anymore) and a pub lunch with my Mother in Law. A washing machine incident threatened to ruin play on Saturday, but I managed to sort it out (although I did use pretty much every towel we own in the process of draining the water from it!)

It was surprisingly light on pigging out as well, as I didn’t have any chocolate in the flat on Sunday (epic Easter fail), although I did eat my own body weight in roast lamb.

Here’s one of my favourite Aerosmith songs to finish. It was the gorgeous Steven Tyler’s 68th birthday at the weekend. He’s just so cool – you can read my thoughts about him here

How was your Easter?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Cocktails and Curry

You’d think, as Brits, we’d have known better than to make bank holiday plans that involved being outdoors – or at least have a contingency plan – but we, er, didn’t. Which is why we spent a good chunk of a very wet bank holiday Monday lounging on the sofa watching Criminal Minds.

Bank holiday

Not wanting the day to be an entire washout, not least because it’s the last bank holiday of the year, we spent at least an hour trying to decide on a cuisine and therefore a restaurant that we could eat out at in the evening. Otherwise I may well have stayed in my PJs all day and night.

We decided on Indian food – one of our favourite cuisines. We more often eat indian food at home via delivery rather than in a restaurant, but fancied the sense of occasion that eating out brings (and a reason to get dressed!)

And with there being a cocktail bar just 3 doors away from the restaurant, which had reduced priced cocktails all day, it seemed daft not to combine the two!

La Plancha in Moseley is a true gem of a bar.

La Plancha restaurant

La Plancha

Small and cosy with an extensive cocktail menu and great tapas. Like really great. So great that we almost changed our curry plans. It’s one of the only bars in Moseley that doesn’t attract the pub crawl crowd at weekends.

First I had a Myzo and husband had an Old Fashioned.

Myzo and old fashioned

Myzo is one of my most favourite cocktails, and my first choice whenever we’re in La Plancha. It’s both sweet and sour and spicy – vanilla vodka, lemon juice and elderflower cordial, shaken with chopped up chilli and then strained, garnished with a full chilli. It has a real kick to it. I can recommend, from personal experience, not eating the chilli – even if you’re dared to by your husband (very mature behaviour).

Myzo

You may end up in the bathroom with your head under the cold tap for 10 minutes, followed by the staff having to give you milk to cool your mouth.

An Old Fashioned is whisky based (bleugh) and very strong. That’s all I know!

Second drink was a Pornstar Martini for me and a Long Island Iced Tea for husband.

Pornstar martini and long island iced tea

Despite it’s trashy name, a Pornstar Martini is a really nice drink – a mix of passionfruit and vanilla vodka, with passion fruit puree and a shot of prosecco on the side (OK, that bit’s not so classy!) For some reason the barman kept topping up my prosecco shots, which was jolly nice of him! If he’d have topped up the cocktail continuously I’d definitely have stayed all night (and probably not been in work today!)

Pornstar Martini passionfruit

The Long Island Iced Tea has one of the highest booze content out there, with tequila, vodka, gin and rum. A firm favourite with both of us!

Imlees restaurant is definitely our favourite Indian restaurant in Moseley.

Imlees restaurant

It’s been refurbished fairly recently (about 18 months ago) and the interior is lovely, with lots of cream leather, wood and glass chandeliers.

Imlees interior

Imlees interior 2

The food is exceptionally good, with some great unusual menu choices. Plus it’s bring your own booze, which is always useful when there’s too much month at the end of the money.

I had chilli chicken to start – it was sweet and spicy and gooey and tasty and perfectly cooked, with a nice fresh salad garnish for a bit of crunch.

Chilli chicken

Husband had onion bhajis, which I always think are a bit of a waste of a starter selection when there are so many other good options, but I have to say these were fantastic – light and fluffy and very tasty. And, because he couldn’t decide, he also had some paneer (cheese) samosas, which you can see peeking out on the plate as well.

Onion bhajis

After the starters we were served a small lemon sorbet – a lovely refreshing palette cleanser.

No pictures of mains but they were bloomin’ lovely. I had peppery chicken which I’ve never seen on an Indian menu before; it was thick and saucy with chunks of green pepper and chicken flavoured with black pepper. Really really tasty and one I’ll definitely have again.

Husband had king prawn madras which had lots of huge juicy prawns and a bright red sauce.

The side orders were also different to the usual offerings – a naan bread with both keema and garlic (delish) and fried rice with chicken (also delish).

I wore an F&F floral teadress that I bought in last year’s sale, and my new ASOS 70s leather studded platform clogs which are currently in the sale at just £20. So much love for these!

Floral dress ASOS clogs

ASOS clogs

ASOS clogs and floral dress

I love unexpected nights out that come from nowhere and become a resounding success! And I love living somewhere that affords me so many options right on my doorstep.

And I love food. Obvs.

Hotel review – Kyriad Gare Nice (one last French related post)

It’s important when booking a hotel to have done your research so you know what to expect and aren’t disappointed. I knew, therefore, that many of the rooms in this hotel are overlooking the railway lines.

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Was it a problem? Not at all! We used our room purely for getting ready and sleeping. The windows are extremely efficient in keeping out the traffic noise and the trains don’t run through the night anyway. The room itself was ideal for our needs – spacious enough for a two night stay, clean, with an incredibly comfortable bed and pillows. The walls are covered in fabric rather than standard wallpaper, which gives a nice touch, and the dark wooden furniture and black out curtains make the room feel comfortable and higher end than a basic chain hotel. The bathroom is bright and well equipped with a strong shower which always had plenty of warm water. Small things like plug sockets near to the dressing table, a full length mirror and a powerful hairdryer made our stay ideal for a city break.

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The staff, without exception, were very helpful. All spoke excellent English. On arrival and departure our bags were stored away securely so we could enjoy our day before and after check in without having to lug them around with us. When I asked for extra teabags they were brought to our room within minutes.

Location, for us, was ideal. Just 20 minutes from the airport in a pre-booked transfer, 5 minutes walk from Nice Ville train station so we could quickly and easily get about (we went to Cannes and Antibes) and literally right at the beginning of a Metro line (although we didn’t use it). There’s a good size cheap supermarket next door and it’s around a 10-15 minute walk down the main shopping street and down to Place Massena and Jardin Albert 1er.

The only slight blight on the stay was the fact that the hotel doesn’t switch the air conditioning on until mid May, so both our bedroom and the hallways were very warm. However, the French windows open on to a Juliet balcony so we were able to get some air circulating.

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I’d have no hesitation in staying there again.

Final day in Nice – time to soak up everything about the city

Our last day in Nice was all about seeing every last bit of the city – revisiting parts we’d already seen and enjoyed as well as discovering more nooks and crannies. We hadn’t been to Castle Hill, and the steps looked steeper than ever after 2 days of walking, so we went touristy and got the little train from the seafront.

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It covered a fair bit of the Old Town that we were already familiar with, before going back out to the port and ascending the hill up to get views across the city roofs and the coast line.

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Back at sea level, the gardens run through the middle of the city. The Jardin Albert 1er – the oldest gardens in Nice are a green oasis and very well used by residents and tourists alike. Fountains, mist coming through the floor, a sculpture and beautiful flowers and trees combine to make a perfect escape space.

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On the Promenade du Paillon sit the fountains – I was rather taken with this as shown by the number of photos (and this is the cut down version!)

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After all that that walking it was time for an ice cream! Pamplemousse (grapefruit) and menthe (mint). The grapefruit was refreshingly sorbet like.

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Look at the colours and flavours!

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After the hard work of an ice cream, it was time for a cocktail – frozen daiquiri for me and an old fashioned for husband.

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Quite a pleasant view!

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Some more piccies of the stunning architecture before we left

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Place Massena underwent a 13 million euro refurbishment in 2007. The buddhas on the lampposts light up at night. There are 7 of them, each representing one of the continents,

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The windows and balconies on the side of tis building are painted on – not real. The attention to detail is fantastic.

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Some last minute pics of the coast, taken from the pebbly beach

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And so it was Au Revoir to Nice!

A day out by train, because we Cannes! (and Antibes, too)

While researching Nice and all the nice things to do, I read that it was easy to get out and about for the day by train. Blessed with almost 3 full days and being located about 5 minutes walk from the train station, we set off for Cannes.

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Just half an hour along the coast, we arrived there at around 10.45 and found our way to the seafront. It’s evidently an area with money, noticeable by the proliferation of designer shops. Designer collage

Luckily, with it being Sunday, everything was closed, or I’d have gone on a shopping spree (ha, ha, RIGHT!!! £1500 for a bag? Never! Although the window display at D&G was very pretty.

D&G 2

Unlike Nice, the beach in Cannes is soft white sand, and there were lots of people sunbathing and children playing. The sea is just as blue as in Nice, and the waves lapped gently at the shore as we meandered along.

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I’m very partial to Birds of Paradise flowers – I had them in my wedding bouquet.

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The most imposing hotel we saw was the Carlton – a drinks menu showed 11 euros for a Coke!

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The town is gearing up for the film festival, and there was evidence of staging being built in preparation for the town coming to life. I’m sure there’ll be more and more yachts arriving this week, but those that were already in the harbour were pretty impressive.

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Not being overly enamoured with Cannes (I know it has an old town but we had already walked miles) and wanting to squeeze in Antibes on the way back, we headed back to the station for the 3 short stops to our next destination, where we had promised ourselves lunch. The graffitied trains were something to behold!

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Antibes is much prettier, more French and less touristy, but still with the same blue sea and another well stocked port.

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A small and pretty cathedral is at the centre.

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I couldn’t resist a picture of this well lived in decorated van at the street market

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After a lunch of chorizo and ratatouille crepe with copious amounts of rose wine it was time to catch the train back to Nice. Double decker trains – such a novelty!

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Nice Ville station is very ornate.

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We walked around 10 miles over the course of the day, but everything was so pretty we hadn’t even noticed. My feet certainly felt it once I took my sandals off though.

Nice is more than just nice…it’s bloomin’ beautiful

A 4 o’clock alarm is a wicked wicked thing. Although it is slightly easier to get out of bed when you know you have a flight to catch!

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It’s been an age since we flew from Birmingham airport. Considering Birmingham is the UK’s second city (supposedly) we seem to get less choice, higher costs, and general short changed-ness when it comes to air travel.

Unusually, Nice was an exception. A 7.45am Saturday morning departure and an 8pm Monday night return meant making the most of pretty much every moment of the long awaited bank holiday weekend.

The day started (of course) with a holiday breakfast (yes, a 2 night break counts as a holiday)…a sausage, egg and bacon bagel and a glass of rose. Tea drinkers were definitely in the minority, even at 6.30am.

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Uneventful check in, boarding, flight, arrival and transfer meant that we arrived in Nice Ville (town) feeling stress free and ready to go by 11am. 5 hours door to door (accounting for the 1 hour time difference) is pretty good going, especially when you consider the contrast between home and away.

Too early to check into our hotel room, we stored our bags in the lobby and set off on foot to explore. Our driver from the airport had told us that Nice was an easy city to get your bearings in and get around, and he was right. It’s large enough to feel cosmopolitan and spread out, but not so much that you fear never finding your hotel again. There’s a good vibe about it.

Nice is the fifth most populous city in France after Paris, Marseilles, Lyon and Toulouse.

Heree come the photographs…

Stunning architecture, fountains and wide open squares

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Churches

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A bright, clean and spacious promenade

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Boutique shops, along with some UK high street flashbacks

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Wonder why the region is called the Cote D’Azur? Wonder no more! These are the views from the Promenade de Anglais. The sea is bluer than a camera can capture. It’s definitely one for the most developed lens in the world – the human eye.

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As planned we decided to get our bearings by taking an open top bus tour. At 22 euros each and lasting 90 minutes, the tour started on the seafront and meandered along the coast, out to the port and then back up into the hills. Fabulous buildings were everywhere – from neoclassical styles and colours through to the modern art museum and the very quirky blockhead; La Tête Carrée (the first habitable sculpture in the world).

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Considering we had such an early start, at an ungodly hour, we more than did justice to the city on our first day. We were left tired, but looking forward to more…

 

A great bank holiday Monday

Here’s what I got up to.

We drove to Clent Hills for some sunshine and fresh air and beautiful views.

Clent

BUT…

The rest of Birmingham had the same idea and it was manic. No parking spaces and an impatient husband conspired against us.

So we came home and went out locally.

We watched great blues and jazz music c/o Moseley’s best pub on a sunny day, The Prince of Wales.

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Hannah Johnson and The Broken Hearts are a great Country band with a sweet female vocalist, a cool steel guitarist, an amazing lead guitarist and a double bassist. Double bass is my favourite instrument.

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So cool.

So we drank some cocktails (an Old Fashioned for him and a hmm.a.hmm.aaaa.hmm for me…I can’t remember the name, but it contained gin and elderflower).

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And then went for Moroccan food, starting with mussels with chilli which, I am so hooked on, I can’t have anything else when I eat here.

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Much love for Bank Holiday!