Gig review – Ginger Wildheart Songs and Words

I’m going to start this review by saying I’m not a Ginger fan. Why was I there then? Well, it was by the seaside, and I never miss a chance to get out of Birmingham! Plus I’m nosy and curious; who doesn’t want to hear the behind the scenes stories of a band you’re engaged with, even if only in some small way?

Let me backtrack. My musical tastes have been very varied over the years; changing and evolving. When I met hubby he introduced me to loads of bands I’d never heard of and, by osmosis (i.e. him playing them so much at home until I had no choice in the matter) I started to pick up on different stuff. As such the evolvement of my musical tastes continued. We’ve been to see many of these bands – often these days at my request – and that was where I first encountered Ginger. He was playing guitar for another of hubby’s musical heroes (Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks fame) and ended up in the bar of our hotel later that night. I asked if we could get a photo and he said no and ran off, laughing. I took this to be arrogant rockstar behaviour and, being my judgemental self, declared he was a knob.

Fast forward to 2013, and the Wildhearts touring their debut album, Earth versus The Wildhearts, in full. Again I was seduced by a weekend away with friends – the gig was only part of it. And I’m certainly not averse to their music. I was quite often to be heard singing along at home, and I appreciated the clever lyrics and catchy riffs. But at this gig, in Nottingham Rock City, I got it. The place was packed (it was a sold out show) and the energy of the band and the crowd were just brilliant. The performance was so good and so tight that it was like listening to the CD at home. And I had a fab fab time.

So much so that I asked the hubby if we could see them again, on the same tour, a few weeks later in Kentish Town, which we did.

By now I was having to revise my opinion of Ginger. Because you can’t really like a band if you think one or more members are absolute tossers. And I started to think that, actually, I was probably in the wrong with my initial opinion of him. After all, why should he have acquiesced to a photograph he didn’t want just because I requested it? It was late, he was chilling out post performance having a beer. He wasn’t malicious or rude about the refusal, in fact he was quite playful. And then I felt like the knob (not an uncommon occurrence, tbh).

So, back to Songs and Words. Hubby was planning to go to the Birmingham date, but didn’t make it. So I suggested we head down to Weston for what was the final date of the tour, at the Blakehay Theatre.

Blakehay

Great venue. Beautiful building, easy to find, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and a bar so cheap it was rude not to drink quite a lot of vodka. The performance space is fully seated and very intimate (only 10 rows, auditorium style), so every seat had a fabulous view of the stage. Sound was great.

And so to the actual show. I had a really, really ace night. Ginger is very funny, witty, acerbic, self deprecating and honest. He spoke with fervour and raw emotion about the ups and downs of his career – the promising times, the bad times, the drug times and the prison times. The audience were hanging on his every word, just waiting to hear what would come next. The story was punctuated with songs from his albums – clever segues that moved the monologue along, 2-3 tracks combined into a medley. He sounded fab. Great catchy vocals delivered with passion, sung acoustically with just himself and Jase Edwards from Wolfsbane on guitar. There was no stage show. Nothing fancy. Just two people, an album backdrop and a soundman. And it was all the better for it.

S&W

Is he a rockstar? Yes. Does he have rockstar attitude? Yes. But I no longer think it’s negative or arrogant. I left the theatre seeing him as an incredibly talented individual, a brilliant songwriter and a passionate musician who has, at times, had the rug pulled from under his feet (and by his own admission, sometimes kicked it away himself with his destructive behaviour). Ultimately he’s a person doing a job, and obstacles have been put in front of him carrying out that job. To hear his own happy ending – finding love and the success of the Pledge campaigns – was a really nice finish to the show (which, incidentally, was over 3 hours long including the interval – real value for money). And his gratitude to the fans was obvious. Ultimately, through Pledge, he’s giving his fans what they want, at a time when a record company won’t do that.

Of course there’s something in it for him – there’ll be money and adoration – but you really feel that he’s in it for the music. And for that I retract all the bad thoughts I ever had.

Roll on more Songs & Words.

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A trip to the seaside – Weston super Mare

My husband is a big fan of the band The Wildhearts. Front man Ginger Wildheart has been doing a Song and Words tour, where he talks about his life, his experiences, and plays songs from his albums across the years. More of that tomorrow, as it deserves a post of its own.

Anyway.

For one reason or another, husband didn’t make it to the Birmingham show, and was suitably gutted as he’s a massive fan (of both the band and Ginger). Being the good wife that I am (!!!) I kindly offered to accompany him to the last date of the tour in Weston super Mare, which just so happened to fall on a Saturday night, meaning we could have a mini weekend coastal break.

Selfless, eh?

Weston is the closest beach location to Birmingham, and is often known locally as Birmingham on Sea. We tend to drive down once a year, when the weather starts getting better, for some sea air and to eat fish and chips on the beach. It’s become a bit of a standing joke and a yearly pilgrimage.

There’s nothing cosmopolitan about Weston. It’ a typical English seaside town – faded in places, past its best, with donkeys on the beach and shops selling buckets and spades, rock and fishing nets all along the front.

But we really like it!

Husband has childhood memories of trips to see family and all the sentiments that surrounds it. And I love it because he loves it. His happiness makes me happy (sorry, vom-tastic moment). And also, well, ‘cos it’s seasdide innit?!

So, we headed down yesterday afternoon and checked into our B&B; the delightful Florence Guesthouse.

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Situated slightly back from the seafront, my eyes were immediately opened to a side of Weston I hadn’t seen before. I’ve only ever walked along the promenade. Away from the beachfront there’s a plethora of fabulous buildings set back into the hills. Our guesthouse was a stunningly pretty terraced villa building with original features in the breakfast room and a well tended basement garden. I found it on hotels.com and booked the last available room – a superior double. It was a great size, with a comfy sofa as well as the bed, an immaculate en suite bathroom and strong wi-fi connection (such a sign of the times when that’s a selling point!) We were welcomed by a very friendly lady who is the perfect guesthouse host, I certainly couldn’t do it. Imagine going to bed at night knowing strangers would be sharing your roof??!!

From there we headed down to the front. It was a beautiful day according to my camera – clear blue skies. In reality it was mega windy and pretty cold. But it didn’t matter, ‘cos it’s seaside innit?!

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Work on Weston Pier started in November 1903 and it opened in June 1904. That’s pretty good going when you consider how long things take these days.

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I remember reading in the news that the pier had set on fire in 2008. Everyone suspected arson, but it was recorded as most likely to be an electrical fire.

In a good move for the British tourist industry, the pier was rebuilt. Weston also has a permanent Big Wheel “Eye”. More than Birmingham has, but that’s another post…

So, what next? Fish and chips, obvs! We always get takeaway and sit on the beach wall, but it was actually too blinkin’ cold, so we went to Tony’s – a fish and chip café set just back from the promenade and on a downward slope to protect from the wind. Bloody hell, what a decision! Cod for me, plaice for husband, curry sauce to share and the sunshine warming our bones without the harsh wind in the more exposed food establishments. It was as close to the ultimate fish and chips as I’ve ever had. Gorge.

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Today we explored more of Weston, away from the seaside.

Nature is so persistent. The prettiest flowers growing out through stones.

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Where do these steps lead?

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Up to these lovely houses. They have a fab view of the beach.

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Finishing the day with obligatory seaside drinks photos.

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On Sunday we went for a post breakfast stroll (big mention again to Florence Guesthouse for the breakfast..I sensibly availed myself of EVERYTHING! Including cereal, yoghurt, toast, full English and tea).

There was a vintage car show in Weston Gardens..

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And so endeth Weston.

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Having a clear out – have I been doing it all wrong?

Like many women / people, I have too much stuff. Specifically wearable stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like stuff. I like choice. I don’t want a capsule wardrobe, shoes that go with everything and a colour palette theme amongst my clothes. But I do want to have enough space for the things I do love, so I can stop draping things over doors / stacking stuff in piles on the floor and having my husband threaten to put everything in a bin liner and chuck it out (he wouldn’t dare, but it’s a recurring conversation).

Clear out

(needless to say that is not my wardrobe. And if it was I would not be having a clear out. EVER.)

Contrary to my husband’s seeming opinion, I don’t like being untidy. It’s only because I have too much stuff. Trouble is, when I have a clear out, it’s never as thorough as I’d like. And I think the reason is because I’m looking for things to get rid of, not things to keep.

It sounds like a very similar process, but there is in fact a difference. And this is the article that made me see that difference.

http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/the-golden-rules-of-tidying-up-to-joyfully-de-clutter-your-house-life-and-mind-clear-out

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’. If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

I always look at what to get rid of. And then I split it into categories – ebay or charity shop. Ebay stuff invariably sits in a bag for ages, waiting for me to get round to the arduous task of photographing, measuring and listing. and then, when it doesn’t sell straight away, the bag of stuff clutters up valuable space.

But the stuff that’s left behind, well. Based on the advice above – ‘Does this spark joy?’ – I could clear out a lot more. There’s stuff that I keep because it’s “too good” to part with. I may have only worn it a couple of times and feel bad about getting rid of it (especially if it’s doubtful that it will sell on ebay, or more likely I can’t be bothered). Or it’s just not me anymore. But, in truth, when I pick it out to wear, it often goes straight back. Because it doesn’t make me feel fabulous, and who wants to feel anything less than amazing? And so it sits there, taking up valuable room in my overstuffed wardrobe.

This can also be exacerbated by being a bargain hunter. Because sometimes, something is just a really good bargain, and that can totally affect my judgement. I know the “rules” – don’t buy something unless you’d buy it full price. But I find that impossible, because my heart gets all of a flutter. So I’m my own worse enemy.

What a palava! I’ve actually bored myself with this post. But I am going to try and take the advice and actually apply it. Stop hoarding stuff with the intention of ebaying it and never getting round to it. Donate it to charity shops and don’t regret it.

Donations

And don’t fill the space I create with brand new stuff!

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Today I have…

…clashed patterns with leopard print and stripes…

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…photographed appalling parking…

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…congratulated myself on my new Asda jeans

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…sported heart shaped sunglasses…

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…looked at the most delicate bluebells…

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…drunk vodka and tonics in the pub…

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…and adorned my feet with more leopard print

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Mondays can be pretty good, if you make them so.

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Tattooed glamour

Tattoos can, and do, get a bad rep. Potentially even more so on women. To judge a woman as a slut or stupid because she chooses to have ink on her body is ridiculous, but I have seen evidence of such accusations online. Recently a Facebook group called “Your Tattoos Make you a Horrible Mother” was received very badly – and rightly so. How physical appearance affects your ability to care and nurture is beyond me. Anyway, I digress.

One of the ways I love to see tattooed women is dressed up and glamorous. The contrast of the highly polished look with the edginess and often unexpectedness of inked skin is such a beguiling juxtaposition.

Although only temporary, Cara Delavigne embodied the look at the Met Gala this week.

Cara D

She’s received some criticism because they’re only temporary, but she does have real permanent tattoos as well so I think that’s perfectly fine. While I’m not a fan of hers, I do love that she’s strong willed enough to go down the permanent route, in spite of the fact her appearance is her job. It’s two fingers to convention, and doesn’t seem to have done her any harm. Plus, anyone who is promoting visible tattoos as completely ok is doing a good thing.

Here are some great images of glamorous ladies in all their inked glory.

Tattoo 1

Tattoo 3

Tattoo 4

Tattoo 6

Tatttoo 5

Tattoo retro 2

Tattoos obviously go with the territory when you’re a tattoo artist yourself.

Hannah Aitchison

Tattoo 2 Hannah Aitchison

Tattoo Hannah Aitchison

Kat von D

tattoo Kat Von D

Tattoo 2 Kat Von D

Megan Massacre

Tattoo megan massacre

Tattoo megan massacre 2

And of course the odd few celebs (using that term loosely when it comes to Jodie Marsh, obvs)

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Tattoo angelina jolie

Tattoo jodie marsh

And I adore these retro pin up styles

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Retro glamour is just cool full stop though – tattoos or not!

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

 

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