Archive for the ‘gardens’ Category

Monday 7th August 2017
We started the day with coffee at Culture Rapide and then made our way to Saint-Cloud for a day away from the cities busy streets.
We got the metro to La Motte-Picquet – Grenelle, an area we’ve visited a couple of time in the past (the Albert Khan Gardens and Parc André Citroën are close by) and walked across the Seine to the small suburb of Saint-Cloud. With Le Château & a vast parkland (classified as a Historic Monument and includes Marie Antoinette’s rose garden) this small area to the west of Paris is a hidden gem.
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Saint-Cloud offers a lovely view over Paris as it sits above the Seine and with everyone settling into ‘holiday mode’ the town centre seemed very sleepy and relaxed.
We had a lovely day in the sunshine and enjoyed seeing a different area of Paris.

In the evening we ate at le mezze du chef on Rue Ménilmontoant; a bijou but busy veggie bistro with a few set menu offers and a great range of authentic Turkish treats.

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NEXT UP: 8th August (Follow That Muse) & 9th August (Open Secret)
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Thursday 27th July 2017: Gig 3: New Cross Inn, London
with Red Tape Riot | Human In Bloom | Pillow Queens
The day started with coffees at The Bluebird Café in Chelsea.
“Bluebird Chelsea is a London landmark, a gleaming Art Deco icon right on the King’s Road. Made up of a chilled out Café & Courtyard on the ground floor and a more refined Restaurant & Bar on the first floor, it comes complete with its own Wine Cellar and Food Store too!”
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We decided to stay in the area for lunch and shopping as the rain was pretty heavy; the thought of facing the chaos that is the London Underground more than once in a day was not overly appealing and with so much on our doorstep it was easy to have a lazy day.

First show in London of 2017….

We arrived in New Cross in what seemed to be a biblical storm, sideways rain that battered down on the rooftops so hard you could almost feel it, and we popped into the Red Lion Coffee Co. for a little refreshment before making our way to the venue.

A couple of years ago we were booked for a fab show at The New Cross Inn so we were really looking forward to the night ahead.
First up on the bill was Irish ‘girl’ band Pillow Queens; full of youthful energy and 90’s indie vibes (think Lush or Elastica) despite the group clearly being far too young to remember those bands 1st time round.
“fast becoming Dublin’s most talked about up-and-coming pop-punk band.
Their catchy songs and upfront lyrics earned them a spot on the bill for Dublin’s top music venue Whelans’ Ones To Watch Festival earlier this year, playing one of the most crowded shows across the entire weekend.”

We were up next and seemed to just be starting when it was time to play our last song (half an hour just files when you’re having fun). The sound on stage was great and friends in the audience confirmed the quality of the set when we were done. It’s always so lovely to have friends come see us when we’re playing in London, and it was an extra nice surprise when our Edinburgh friends showed up without letting us know they were in town.
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The best thing about not headlining events, is that there is time for drinking and chatting after a performance and that is just what we did.
BIG THANKS to Ewan and Steven for the wonderful company and banter!

After our set, it was time for the only London-based band on the bill, Human in Bloom
“a brand new indie-alt-rock 4 piece from East London. Psych-alt-rock-indie-electronic-experimental-folk-pop at it’s very best.”
They brought the house down – super energy on stage & once they had finished someone came around with copies of their EP for free which I thought was a nice touch.

Headliners for the night were Red Tape Riot who are on tour all the way from South Africa.
“a 5 piece indie band who produce music with a cutting contrast between heartfelt melodies and strong party grooves. Influenced by the Post-Punk sounds of the 80’s, modern Indie Rock, Brit Pop, Drum n’ Bass and Electro dance scenes, the result is a highly danceable and catchy sound.”
I’d never heard of them before booking the show the bar was full of fans singing along to their tracks, so they must have a decent fan base in the city. Their sound is epic rock similar to The Killers (catchy choruses and sing-a-long lyrics that everyone was loving).

Friday 28th July 2017
Alexis’s Birthday
WiFi in our hotel is not great so we went out early to make use of the internet at The Bluebird café and had a lazy morning there (FaceTime with family sending ‘happy birthday’ wishes for Alexis and soaking up the ambience at the hipster spot that was at one time a car garage.

With a relaxing day planned we wandered along to Sloane Square and caught the tube to Kew. Neither Alexis nor I had been to Kew Gardens, but we both love spending time at the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh so figured it would be a lovely way to spend the day; we weren’t wrong. From the treetop walk to the hot houses, Kew Gardens is full of amazing sights and sounds and it’s very easy to spend a whole day here without exhausting all the possibilities.
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Afterwards we had booked a meal at the famous Sagar restaurant in Hammersmith – a vegetarian South Indian specialist; Sagar’s menu features dosa (Indian pancakes), classic curries and some of the tastiest poori (deep-fried Indian bread) that we’d ever tried. With full stomachs we walked home along Hammersmith Road to our Earl’s Court hotel for the penultimate night of this stay in London.

COMING UP
29TH JULY BugBear Promotions presents JD Kelleher live at The Dublin Castle

 

Days off in Paris
Monday 20th
The morning after the night before (when the night before involved playing a concert in Paris) turned quickly into the early afternoon…needless to say we slept quite late. After morning coffees we decided to walk into the Marais in search of Les Pates Vivantes (one of our favourite restaurants in Paris). When we arrived and discovered it was closed we walked to the next street and stopped at a little café for falafel & hummus. Sitting outside having lunch, with the sun shining and the Marais buzzing; tourists and locals, dancing around one another, making their way to wherever it was they were heading, I was feeling very lucky. There is such a sense of romance in the streets of Paris and it’s easy to get swept away with the mode of the city, so after lunch we stopped by the beautiful Parfums de Nicolaï and indulged in a little retail therapy (when in Rome, or even Paris).

A treat from Paris

A treat from Paris

In the evening we discovered a lovely little park “aussi mignon comme tout” just a few blocks from our apartment. Right on the edge of Bagnolet, Séverine Square is pretty small but has lots of benches and shaded areas, large trees and well-tended flowerbeds. It’s definitely a park for locals; a suburban park with kids play areas and picnic tables, what more could you want.

Tuesday 21st
Today we ventured out to the Albert Khan gardens & museum. We tried to go last year, only to discover it was closed, but having heard good things about the space we made our way back. Across the city by METRO, it seems like the easiest thing in the world. I do love the Paris system of I journey = 1 price, unlike in London where they have a zonal system and it can cost a fortune to get from 1 end to the other. It turns out that a visit to the Albert Kahn gardens was a great tip! We spent a very peaceful few hours wandering around the statue garden, admiring the structures and different types of plants (we even saw a red squirrel), before visiting the exhibition “In search of Albert Kahn” which was really interesting.

flower in the Albert Khan garden

flower in the Albert Khan garden

Albert Kahn (1860-1940) was convinced that shared knowledge of foreign societies would encourage respect and promote peaceful relations amongst them. He was a very rich man and from 1888 he set up the series of bursaries (Autour du Monde), he opened the first centre for preventive medicine and established forums for discussion and research in France (National Committee for Social and Political Studies).
Between 1909 to 1931, Albert Khan commissioned photographers and filmmakers to record life in over 50 countries. Some of the images seemed very familiar, almost as if someone had used a filter on a current image (Venice looked particularly unchanged in the 100 years between the photograph in his archives and ones I took a few years ago).

Feeling very cultured we left and headed for the Jardin du Luxembourg (one of Alexis’s favourite places in the city). We sat in the sun and watched the boats in the pond (testing my flag knowledge – which is not great) and the kids terrorizing the fish and ducks with their punting sticks. Everyone always seems so happy at the Jardin du Luxembourg (except those duck I suppose).

Enjoying the Paris sunshine

Enjoying the Paris sunshine

In the evening we caught up with friends. We met at La Rotonde Stalingrad for a few drinks on the terrace before wandering down the Plage. I love moments like this in Paris; it almost feels like you belong in a place when you get to hang out with the locals. There were ‘congratulations’ to be given and ‘cheers to absent friends’ to be had, as well as a distant ‘happy birthday’ to be wished… a good evening all round.

Sending birthday wishes from Paris

Sending birthday wishes from Paris

It was late before we realized we hadn’t eaten, so we said out goodbyes and headed into town for something to eat (midnight in Paris is a perfectly acceptable time to order food, or even a coffee apparently).

Wednesday 22nd
In the morning we searched out a cafe recommended by Alexis’s dad, ‘Cream’ – an “on-trend café” which only plays analogue music. It was lovely & just a short walk from out apartment “halfway up the hill in Belleville”. The coffee was nice, strong and not expensive at all and the LP closest to the record player was Fleetwood Mac.

Coffee at Cream, Paris

Coffee at Cream, Paris

We sat outside on the small decked area to make the most of the morning sunshine (Scots abroad eh) and planned the rest of the day. Next stop Père Lachaise, which was situated at the bottom of the street. So back up the hill we go, this time looking out for an Amy Thomas bakery tip also located on the same street as our apartment.

If every we move to Paris this is the street to stay in – everything is right here!

Amy Thomas is a blogger who’s ‘Paris, My Sweet’ book I am currently reading. It’s about her life between NYC & Paris and her love of all things sweet. Amy’s tip, La Flûte Gana was closed “summer holiday 4th July to 4th August”… just our luck, however in Paris this is never a big deal as there is always another great bakery near by. With cakes in hand (tart au citron & some kind of dark chocolate mouse creation) we made our way via Père Lachaise to Pigalle / Montmartre and the top of another hill to Sacre Coeur.

View from Sacre Coeur

View from Sacre Coeur

We headed out in the evening to a Paris / British meet up at a bar near the Pantheon, which was arranged by our friend Carole. Every month she arranges an evening where people get together to practice speaking English and tonight the meet up was at a very ‘British’ pub in the city. Chatting on the boulevard in front of the bar it was obvious that everyone was lovely; a mixed bunch from all over the world. The conversation flowed along with the real ale and cider, bringing tales of trips to the UK & life in Paris and before we knew it the sun had set on our beautiful surroundings and it was time to once again find a late night meal before heading back to our tiny apartment.

NEXT GIG:                 Thursday 23rd July 2015 @ La Dame De Canton with AsOne
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