#HISTOIRESEXPATRIÉES N*1: Roath, my neighbourhood

Shout – Bloom

Hey, coucou

I was about to post a recipe but as I was reading blog posts I crossed Lucie‘s which led me to L’occhio di Lucie. Where am I going? Well, L’occhio di Lucie has just started something that I really appreciate: a monthly rendez-vous for expats. Each month there will be a new theme and we will have the occasion to write about it from our expat point of view, no matter where we live. I remember, when we lived in France I enjoyed following expat adventures such as Pomdepin‘s or American Mom in Bordeaux on Instagram… I love those blogs because I travel with them, and they give me another point of view of something that I might already know and for me, this is very enriching. This is a very open-minded gesture, you discover new things, new ways of seeing things…

I’ve decided to join that little expat group, this article take part in this #HistoiresExpatriées rendez-vous. Every month the theme will be different and I can’t wait to discover new themes and make you discover my point of view as an expat in Cardiff. This month we’re talking about neighbourhood. When we first arrived in Cardiff we lived in Cathays for 5 months and now we’re living in Roath. So, let’s go to Roath.

 

When I knew that I was going to live in Wales, I absolutely wanted a bay window in my flat. At least one. Some might find that stupid or simple but honestly, I really love those windows, it’s charming and I want a bay window since I am 9 so, I’ve waited enough time. If you ask me which neighbourhood I prefer between my old one and this one, I’ld say this one because the streets are cleaner, calmer, closer to parcs, and the houses are very beautiful, with a very nice victorian style. Some of them are divided into flats, some are just houses which means triple bay window + garden, this is pretty cool! And, I think they match those automnal colours.

 

Roath is located in the North-East of centre Cardiff and we live close to Penylan, I can’t really see the “borders” of those two neighbourhoods. Apparently, the name Roath could come from the Irish ráth which means fort or the Welsh rhodd which means gift. I have to confess, I like the second theory :)

Roath has been a simple land for a long time until housing developed in the 19th century. In 1887 the third marquis of Bute, a very important family in Cardiff, along with other landowners gave land to Cardiff Corporation. They developed a huge parc with gardens and recreation ground and the third marquis of Bute formally opened it in 1894. This family, as I said, is very important in Cardiff and they used to worship in St Margaret’s Church that you can see above, it also has its mausoleum and crypt. The church is supposed to be located where and old chapel was but this building dates back from 1870-1873.

Let’s go back to the parcs and the nature, I’m bringing you with me to Waterloo Gardens, one of my favourite place.

 

I love this place because it is very close to where I live. It’s nice to breathe there, not much city noises, people walking their dogs, squirrels having fun (and pooing on you, yep, that happened to me), kids hiding and us, running.

« A m’asseoir sur un banc cinq minutes avec toi, et regardez les gens tant qu’il y en a, te parler du bon temps qu’est mort ou qui reviendra, en serrant dans ma main tes petits doigts. » Mistral Gagnant – Renaud (French song)

If you’re from Great Britain you probably know that but for us, it is not common the closing times of parcs along with the sunset. It is nice though, especially when you run in parcs because obviously you don’t want to be shut in a parc. We love this parc but there’s a little problem, Cardiff decided, because of a minor flooding risk, to cut 140 trees. So, it goes beyond absurd to cut so many trees for a minor risk but it will also cost millions, it will completely change the face of the parcs and what about the squirrels? What about their houses? Uh? Not-cool-at-all. I really appreciate and support the people who defend those trees and who, to raise awareness, pins posters up on them with pun on words or references.

The beauty and the diversity of those trees are amazing. I walked in the parcs yesterday, camera in my hand, and it’s a colour downpour. I can’t post all the pictures here, some may find that boring but, what can I say, I have my heads in the clouds most of the time and those trees illuminates the sky and I like that.

I have to confess that what I really like in the parcs are the Chip and Dale, some are very shy, some are quite courageous and come closer. Some people might say that I’m not patient but in reality in depends on what teases my patience. Sitting around a tree and waiting for a squirrel to look at me and taking photograph… I love it. And I can be patient for it.

After a little bit of observation, I left Waterloo Gardens, not without being itched by an holly leaf.

In my neighbourhood there is more than one parc and now I’m bringing you to Recreation Ground, where people meet to have a picnic, light a barbecue, play and relax and where rugby or football teams meet on Sundays.

I find autumn magical. I’m here in the middle of a place, I take a picture and turn over, take another one and I have two completely different picture. One is ginger, the other one is golden. So beautiful!

Some streets are covered with gold, there are rests in the foliages, and new friends appeared.

Walking dow to Recreation Ground, we arrive to Roath Pleasure Gardens with its bowling, tennis and basket fields, it’s very nice to walk in or, as we do, run it.

I took the time to take a cliché shot with the red box, perfectly in the tone.

Even if the parcs are what I prefer, I couldn’t let you believe that I live among the trees while I’m living in Cardiff so in a city. So I re-walk down Recreation Ground…

To arrive on the noisy side, that I also like. There is another church, St Andrew’s.

Roath has more than one famous street, I only took 2 of them in picture because to be honest, I can’t photograph this world, it is too fast, too noisy. I would very like to give this alive side of my neighbourhood back to you but I just simply can’t, I find my pictures quite ugly ahah

I’m bringing you to Wellfield Road, I like it, it is a shopping street with well-known shops but also independent ones and restaurants. There are little arcades, in one of them there’s a cafe called “Cafe du chat noir” and a hairdresser called “La femme”, sounds very French… And there’s Albany Road, even bigger and longer.

There are 2 addresses that I particularly like; Juno Lounge (very nice coffee, nice things to eat), Beti Biggs (a home decor shop) but there’s also Flying Tiger, The Wellfield Bookshop, The Coffi House and all the restaurants that make me want to eat even if I just did.

And of course, there’s more than one pub, I chose to show you this one because I really like its cosy feeling, it is big inside and we feel good.

I hope I did pass this nice neighbourhood feeling, I’m very happy with the first theme of our new monthly rendez-vous because I took time to walk in Roath and observe, enjoy it. I’m used to marvel while I walk but I usually don’t take the time to photograph it.

I wish you a nice weekend and I’ll post a recipe on Monday. Des bisous

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An escape to Bristol

Teardrop – Massive Attack

Hey, coucou

After posting two recipes this week, I’m taking you with me to Bristol with its autumnal colours. Those photos were taken last year but I couldn’t post them any other day than today, November 11th so they’ve nicely waited for a year in my album.

We went to visit Bristol last year, on November 13th for the « Remembrance Sunday ». I don’t know if you know about this but in France we have a lot of bank holidays and November 11th is one of them, it is strange for us not to have a day off on that day but, in the end, it is fine. What is great is that you still commemorate the First World War, you don’t need a bank holiday for that and we really appreciate it. We were surprised on the November 11th because we were at Ikea and at 11h11 everyone stopped moving, everyone stopped speaking. It was intense.

Because the Cathedral is very famous, it was the first thing we wanted to visit. We didn’t know until we arrived but there was an exhibition in front of it… The atmosphere was really special, I’ve got photos for you to imagine how it was.

The exhibition was called « Shrouds of the Somme » and was created by Rob Heard. On July 1st 1916, 19 240 soldiers of the British Empire were killed and it was only the first day at the Battle of the Somme. In the end, on November 18th 1916, 127 751 soldiers were killed in one of the bloodiest battle ever. The artist sewed white sheets on dolls to represent the 19 240 first deaths of that battle. Usually, crosses with poppies are alined and it is very touching but seeing dolls it makes things more real, it is very breath taking.

We were kind of cooled, fixed, when we entered the cathedral to visit it.

In 1140 an abbaye was founded here. A lot of things happened and in 1539 the abbaye is dissolved. In 1542 what was left of the abbaye became the cathedral. In 1941 war damages destroyed the stained glasses of the North Wing of the nave. They were replaced by stained glasses commemorating the war contribution by civil forces.

Here’s the nave and a beautiful sculpture. The inside of the cathedral is very, very, very pretty; the stained glasses are sumptuous. There is something quite special here, in the UK because your cemeteries are often very close to the cathedrals or churches, as a garden whereas in France they are not and it is a curiosity for us. Your graves are different too. Of course we visited the « garden » of the cathedral where really old graves are with trees and decorations, it might appear seedy but culturally speaking I think it is interesting…

Back in town, we saw the city hall with that fancy man looking perplexed and a wink to our beloved French city.

Then we went to visit Saint Mary Redcliffe Church, it was on our map so we were like « why not? »

This church, on those grounds, dates back to 1292 – 1370, it is an anglican parish that Queen Elizabeth I loved, especially because of what makes it famous: its gothic architecture. It is also interesting from the inside because of its little treasures; a statue of Queen Elizabeth I, an octogonal medieval column with an angel, Sir William Penn’s armour (founding father of Pennsylvania, pretty impressive right?), and the graves of rich benefactors of the church as well as its stained glasses.

And something intrigued me quite a lot: this (click on the link to see it)!

It might only be a water sculpture for you but it is more than that. Water sinks by a pipe and spreads through the moving rod. By chance (or accident, see it as you like), we never know where the water is going to fall which means that we don’t know where the rod is going to go. It is written on the sign that it is a metaphor to life: you never know what is going to happen by chance or by accident… Intriguing, right? It intrigued me so much that I just couldn’t move away, I got stuck and le Barbu was completely desperate by my « bug system ». And every time I watch that video I’m like « mmm quite true », it is calming.

We ended our Bristol walk by a walk around the Christmas market and of course, a street art walk. Bristol is well-known worldwide for its street art, there are specialized city guides, specialized maps which will tell you where to find the most beautiful, the most unexpected, the funniest, the one you shouldn’t miss… We saw a lot of them but I’m just going to share my 4 favourite in a non-ordered way.

The first one doesn’t need any comment, it is just so cool and powerful! I don’t really have any reason for the second, I like its shape.

Is it possible to talk about Bristol without mentioning Banksy? Of course not. You will find this graffiti on Stokes Croft, it is quite old (1999), I admit but I think it is accurate even nowadays. There are a lot of Banksy’s graffiti in Bristol but it was the one I really wanted to see. Another graffiti I really wanted to see: « Breakdancing Jesus » by Cosmo Sarson. I think it is very beautiful and in reality it is very stunning (8,5 meters), I love it! It is also on Stokes Croft and by the way, if you like street art, that’s somewhere to go for sure.

Et voilà, my post on Bristol is already over. Unfortunately I couldn’t show you everything we did or saw but there are a lot of things we weren’t able to do so I’m planning on going there again, an afternoon to visit Bristol is not enough, there is plenty to see. If you have « must sees », share them here please :)

Here’s Bristol port, nice and a little hipster. Des bisous

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Castell Coch and its magical forest

Lion – Casi

Hey, coucou

Olala, a new post already, yes it can happen! On top of that, today we’re going to visit a castle which is located 20mn away from Cardiff centre and very easy to find, you can drive there, take the bus or even take your bike and you’ll have a nice promenade. Before I start, let me introduce you the castle with its name: its name is Castell Coch in Welsh, Castle Coch in English. Castell is pretty easy to translate but what about coch? Coch means red in English and it comes from the red rubble sandstone the castle is made of. That’s it! Simple as ABC and we’ve learnt a new word in Welsh ✓

Let me take you upstairs…

It’s a medieval castle (1240-65) which was left abandoned until 1880 when the 3rd Marquis of Bute, passionate about Middle Ages decided to take care of it. He appointed William Burges and they renovated the castle to bring it back to life. This castle is a side-castle because the Marquis’ residence was Cardiff castle (my post about Cardiff castle). Burge died in 1881 but the work continued thanks to the plans he made and the castle was refurbished.

The first room we visited was the banqueting hall and I was immediately attracted by the windows… Well, the view isn’t blocked by buildings! I don’t know about you, but I will be completely okay with this view when I wake up!

Here’s the room. It is decorated on the walls with paintings relating the exploits of St Justin, the man even has the privilege to have his statue on the fireplace. I like this room, especially the view, but wait until you see the next one… My favourite of the whole castle!

I want to live in this room, under this ceiling. I often have my head in the clouds (literally, or not) so I kind of have a fascination for beautiful skies and beautiful ceilings and this one is probably one of the beautifulest I’ve ever seen. Don’t you think? The blue is sparkling, decorated with magnificent birds and golden stars. I admit, it may be a little bit too much but it is the drawing room, they didn’t have tv so they needed something to be occupied and there are so many details in this room that you will be busy for a long time. There are a beautiful fireplace with persons, a chandelier, benches near the windows to admire the view, to dream and on the walls are painted characters from the Fables de La Fontaine. Exactly what I told you, that will keep you busy; look at the walls, find who is who and recite the Fables. There are also paintings of dedicate flowers.

We visited the bedrooms and although Lord Buke’s is quite small and basic, Lady Buke’s is quite spacious. I think it is almost my apartment size. Strangely, even though it is empty it appears oppressive because of all the dark colours and gold everywhere. This being said, I like the dome.

Of course, if you follow the blog or if you know me, you know that food and I are in a close relationship and we appreciate each other very much so I could not not go in the kitchen and stay for a while, to Le Barbu’s utter despair. I could easily imagine it busy with the cooks and the servants, bringing it to life. I loved this kitchen, very spacious! It is in front of the banqueting hall and there is an opening to the left so the cooks could give the plates to the servants. There are 3 red doors in the kitchen which means that it used to be three kitchen fireplaces in the Middle Ages, yet only one was used during Victorian time. It may be a detail for you but for me, such a beautiful table means a lot, it’s a dream. A real dream. I would love to cook in a kitchen like this one. Welsh cakes anyone?

We continued to walk in the castle, go upstairs and visit all the nooks and the prisons (I would like to be locked in there!). The cool thing in this castle is that it is a nice visit, it won’t take 3 hours to see everything, it is not Tower of London, but a fine castle.

It looks like a “Disney Tower” don’t you think?

The castle tour being done, we continued visiting around the castle and there, you have to open your eyes, it is green! There is green everywhere. It is so magnificent that it’s magical.

I though I was in a fairytale, a legend or a movie with princesses and princes, knights on horses, druids and little fairies. I’m not crazy, I’m just overwhelmed by those Welsh legends. It is completely in me at that time.

As you can see, the castle is surrounded by green, even the foam has covered the foundations. Oh! I almost forgot! You definitely should visit the shop, nice stuffs there! You can buy books about history, knights, the country, woolen plaid (I want one SO badly) and… bookmarks made of sheep poo. Yes! In Wales, there are 3 sheep for 1 inhabitant, so they use them for meat, wool and some smart persons though “hey, why not use their poo?”, very clever indeed because it is ecological (poo for paper instead of trees) and funny so I think people will be curious enough to buy it. I was very happy to buy a poo bookmark but I lost it, I’m very sad now :(

I didn’t retouched this photo, not the colour, not the framing. If you look closer, you’ll see that the horizon line is very horizontal, it is just that the path is on a slope. Now, tell me, can’t you imagine princesses and princes, knights on horses, druids and little fairies? I am sure you do!

We would advise you to enter the forest and walk, it worth it because it is extremely beautiful, the nature smells good, the colours are extraordinary, you might find animals, walkers with their dogs, runners… And walk, walk, walk and let yourself be guided by the smell of a tearoom. I confess, you can go to the tearoom with your car but, the walk in the forest is magical. The tearoom, Forest Cafe, will guide you with the smell and then you could enjoy a good time surrounded by nature. Sit outside with the peacock and the squirrels or inside, near a fireplace. The boss is very very nice. The food is simple but it’s not a restaurant, it’s just a tearoom and it’s the perfect place to relax.

I hope you enjoyed our tour, I’m writing those lines and I just want to go to the forest again (and I need to buy another poo bookmark). Those photos were taken in spring, I’m sure it looks fab in the autumn. See you here soon, des bisous.

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A year in Wales

Calon Lan – Fron Male Voici Choral & Cerys Matthews

Hey, coucou

Today is a special day and because of that there’s a special blog post. At the beginning of July 2016, I learned that I got a job as an French language assistant with the CIEP, I was really happy when I discovered that the school where I’ll be working is where I wanted to go, Wales. After a talk with my family, le Barbu and my cat (don’t judge), we all agreed that it was a great opportunity and I said yes. We spent our summer enjoying the sun (cliché ;)), our families and friends who nicely agreed to eat a raclette in the garden under 35 degrees!

We left Bordeaux to London on September 26th and on the 27th we crossed the Severn Bridge for the first time, the famous bridge which links England to Wales since 1966. Of course we had our problems, it couldn’t happen in any other way: we rented a car in St Pancras and it took us an hour to find the agency, our phones were dead, out of batteries when we crossed the Severn Bridge and it was completely dark so it wasn’t really easy to find our way to the agency in Cardiff. We got lost and luckily two women who were walking by the bay took us to the agency, but of course it was closed so they gave us the way to our hotel. Finding our way in a new city by night wasn’t easy but at least we found nice people.

In this blog post, I want to talk about this place we discovered and its inhabitants, about prejudices we had and those we now fight or approve of at least 80%, and about life here.

Wales, the country

During my schooling, I did an arts baccalaureate with English as an option and an English language, literature and civilisation licence so I know one or two things about English and Anglophone culture but unfortunately, I think I’ve never heard of Wales as a country before and that is exactly the reason why it was my first choice when I had to make wishes to be a French assistant. I wanted to know things about this country, as a country not as a region. It has its Assembly for 20 years now so it really should be considered as a specific country by everyone. It has its own cities and countrysides, mountains and beaches, its own language and traditions. Never say to a Welsh that he is English, I did it with my students to see their reaction and they hated it!

Let’s talk about Welsh people then. I could say that they are the nicest people I’ve ever met but one should never generalise. If they see you lost, they guide you. They smile and say hello when walking in the parks, the streets. They are sociable, of course they might talk about weather (you’ll learn it!) but they talk to you, in the bus, in the queue, in the pub… They always apologise, even if you push them but I think it’s all over the UK. Queuing is very important, one should never overtake! They always ask if you are okay, taxis are really talkative; they might not care about your life but they’ll talk. Welsh people are open-minded, at least the ones we know, we only met welcoming, interested and interesting people. They all love Tom Jones (I’m joking… Am I?).

Let’s talk about clichés and little things to know:

  • Yes, there’s a lot of sheep
  • Yes, there are a lot of castles
  • Yes, it is very green
  • Yes, they have an accent. Actually no, they have accents! Cardiff accent is not the same than in Newport or in the Valleys, the West, the North… You can learn them, even speak them but never as much as they do.
  • Anyway, if you go North, they’ll only speak 50% of a word. Actually, they all do that.
  • I don’t do politics but, thanks Cardiff for the European sign.
  • The food is good; welsh cakes, cawl, welsh breakfast, leeks. Yes leeks are particularly good here.
  • They are drunks. Do you know that Irish cliché? They are the same. I’m slightly exaggerating. They do drink a lot though!
  • There are no cafés with terraces, why should it be with this weather? But, there are a lot of pubs and they really are charming… Nothing is cosier than a pub!
  • Welsh is not really spoken, not that much and few of them know how to pronounce the name of this city Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwy rndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch but when they do, they show off!
  • Signs are in English and in Welsh, sometimes in Welsh and in English.
  • They say “cheers drive” when leaving a bus.
  • They might call you love.
  • They have a Welsh culture festival, the Eisteddfod and I’m really proud because I can finally pronounce it! This festival is all about Welsh arts and they elect and decorate their national poet, I could show you a picture but I’m quite afraid of him (bisous!)
  • There is the famous “everyone can cuddle but only the Welsh can cwtch”. A cwtch is a cuddle but nicer. Because it’s Welsh.
  • Welsh people are proud, and they should be! They have a dragon on their flag! And an absolutely beautiful anthem.
  • It does not always rain… Sometimes it drizzle. I’m joking, sometimes it is sunny, we even had 28 degrees this summer and we had sunburns.
  • They love sports and when the national or local team plays, they all wear the jersey (women and men) and they prefer cheering anyone but the English, even the French! Well, they used too, now with what happened lately…
  • Merlin, King Arthur, Roald Dhal, Bonnie Tyler, Tom Jones, Duffy, Charlotte Church, Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Gareth Bale, Christian Bale, Luke Evans… All are Welsh! Yes, I put Merlin and King Arthur because what if they were real?
  • I probably should stop my list here. But I also have to say that they are funny, they use specific words and they are all named Jones or Davies. It is not true but it’s like in France, we are not all named Martin or Dubois but almost everyone.

I also have to say that they have strange things in their supermarkets but I need to write a post about it because you won’t believe it. Very interesting.

Another thing, the school where I work is a comprehensive school, all boys. I have to admit that it scared me at first because it is really different from what I’m used to but I feel like there are less trouble and some of them are really nice, attentives. Of course I’ll admit that when they are 14, they are like every 14 year-old boy. But still, it is something really different and that’s cool!

When we arrived, I made a little wishlist:

  • Running in London
  • Running in Cardiff ✓
  • Run a race ✓
  • Go to the cinema ✓
  • See a cricket game ✓
  • See a rugby game at the Millenium Stadium ✓
  • See a musical at the Wales Millenium Centre ✓
  • Go to Snowdonia ✓
  • Go to Brecon Beacons ✓
  • Go to the Pembrokeshire ✓
  • Visit Tintern Abbey
  • Go to Hay-on-Wye ✓
  • See a hockey game ✓
  • Go on a hike
  • Learn Welsh (I’m still trying…)

As you can see, we did most of the thing on my list and I’m very pleased! You can find all my blog posts about visiting Wales here. I made a wide list because we were supposed to stay a year so we wanted to see most of Wales, but since we’re staying a little but longer…

  • Go on a hike to Pen-Y-Fan
  • Go to Tenby (check out this new website about Tenby)
  • Go to Tintern Abbey
  • Run a half-marathon (it’s Sunday, I’m scared…)
  • Run 10k in a race
  • Go to Aberystwyth
  • See the waterfalls in Brecon Beacons
  • Learn Welsh
  • Run in London
  • Rent a small boat in Roath Park
  • Rent a cottage for a couple of days
  • Going back to Snowdonia

And for this list, let’s see where we are next year ;)

I don’t know if you are still here after all those words but I think I don’t have enough words to describe how this country touches me and blows me away. I feel like this country and its inhabitants changed me, some parts of me are changed for ever and some of my opinions are turned. I could talk about this place by personifying it completely, it has a soul and is filled with an amazing beauty. I like living in a human sized capital, being 30mn from the coast and 30mn from the countryside. I like having so much castle to discover that I won’t be able to see them all. I like this green and this blue, those powerful colours, the red of the dragon and its personality. I like having the possibility to walk in a park within a 5mn walk, I like that there are so much parks. I like the freedom: grey, green, pink or blue hair whatever, skirt, gothic, chinos or shorts even if it is 5 degrees and no one looks at you. I like this open-mindedness, this mix of religions and cultures, those signs with every colour skins. I like turning my tv on S4C and understanding nothing except hello and having to put the English subtitles. I madly like those accents, those warm people even if they might seem scary at first sight. I actually like this rain. I like the sheep, the animals that live here even if I’m a little bit scared of the swans when I run near them. I like racing with the squirrel. I like the seagulls. I like the daffodils, they tell us that spring is coming. I remember sitting in front of a lake in Snowdonia, breathing and feeling like crying because of the beauty. I will never forget that. This country is so beautiful.

We were supposed to stay a year but we’re staying longer. Now my lovely Wales, you are a part of me and you will always be. I love you so, very much. I wanted to tell you, and whoever will read this. WALES FOREVER. Happy anniversary to you and us or, as you would say penblwydd hapus. End of my sentimental speech,

Des bisous to you too, thanks for being here.

All the pictures are from my Instagram and it’s here.

 

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Richmond Park, closer to nature

Share With You – Nashville Cast

Hey, salut,

Today le Barbu and I will wander out of the country, in a really well-known city, by the way you can follow me on Instagram (meloubee) if you want to see all those beautiful places I always talk about and yummy things. So, we’re on our way to a city but on the blog I’m bringing you to a lovely natural place. The photos were taken on June 11th but in my head the images and feelings are still wide awake. Le Barbu had offered me tickets to see Nashville in concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London and we took advantage of the early end of it to go to a place we wanted to see with our own eyes: Richmond Park.

This green landscape is a pure beauty and only 25mn away from London! You can see some of the famous buildings from the park.

Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve which dates back to 1627, but what is surprising is that cars can go in, only 40km/h of course but still, it is surprising to see them in. You may think it is not necessary to go to this park if you visit London because there are a lot of parks there but, there is something special here, unique. Not only the park is splendid but its inhabitants are even more splendid. Majestic, touching but impressive, used to humans but wild. Who are they?

Bambis! Yes, bambis everywhere! When you are in your car you see them, when you walk you see them, they are never really far and they are beautiful. They sleep, walk, run, play and live in liberty with some friends. They know humans are here but each of us keep its distance, each of us is respectful. Unfortunately when we were there 2 girls ran after them to take a selfie, I think it is stupid and alarming. I’m sorry but bothering wild animals just to have a selfie… no need to comment on that but on top of that it can be really dangerous; stags, deers and fawns are, as I said, wild animals in this place and I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t like to be charge at by one of them.

Please, anywhere you go, any nature reserve, any parc, please don’t run after animals, don’t chase them, if they want to see you, they will come. They are so beautiful in their environment and we are so lucky to see that that we should be respectful. Scaring them for a selfie… Think about it.

Apart from bambis you could see birds, beetles, bats, squirrels… Trees and wildflowers are splendid too, there is a lot of grass of course and we even saw a lake. Such a natural space so close from London city yet so calm, it really is marvelous. Richmond Park is 2500 acres of nature. And colours! While I’m writing this post I’m actually thinking that those photos were taken during summer and I’d like to go back there during autumn, I’ sure it is magnificent too.

Walking by we felt a little bit observed, it was time to go back home because it takes us 2h30 for London – Cardiff and as soon as the sun went down, we admired the colours and hop, in the car.

I hope you enjoyed the walk, the beauty of nature that Richmond Park is. Don’t hesitate, tell me what your thoughts are, if you’ve already been there or if you know other nature reserves. Des bisous

Penarth: blue, calm and serenity

One Love – Blue

Salut, salut

While we’re currently on holidays in France, I wanted to write an escape post. I’ve several places I want to show you and I didn’t really know which one to post today but I saw those photos and I remembered exactly how I felt this day, on the 04th July, I posted a photo on Instagram saying “Just what I needed”. This echoes to our holidays because it is exactly what we needed too! Not for the same reason, obviously but to see our family, our coast, our environment.

So today we’re going to Penarth. Penarth is between Cardiff, where we live, and Barry, where I work. We went there 5mn when we crossed the barrage but we turned around just after until this day when we decided to go to the well-known pier. We parked up on the little hill and walked down to the rocky beach.

We walked along the beautiful promenade to the pier. What a beauty! It reminds me the one in Arcachon (see here), I love piers because I find them really poetic. This one is quite old and takes us back in time, back to the Victorian era, construction started in 1894 and opened in 1895. It was used by the Army during the 1st World War and was abandoned until 1929 when Penarth Borough Council bought it and boosted it with its Art Deco pavilion. It was used as a theatre, cinema, and from 1934 to 1939 as a ballroom. Then 2nd World War and… it closed. It re-opened in 1950, what a story! Nowadays, the pavilion includes a gallery, an auditorium, a 70 seats cinema, shops, restaurants and cafés… with a Bristol Channel view. Nice isn’t it?

Seat on a bench, look offshore, breathe in, breathe out, and tell yourself that everything is going to be okay.

On this day, 04th July, was a “feel blue” day. A day like that: you don’t want to go out but you want to get some fresh air, you’re hungry but you don’t want to eat, you want to be alone but with someone. It happens right after Manchester’s attacks on the 22nd May and Borough Market’s attacks on the 3rd July. British people have a different way of reacting in those cases, the famous “keep calm and going on”, whereas we tend to lower our heads and shut ourselves away, they tend to keep their heads up and walk together, determined to face the pain. I really like this cultural difference, it allows us to see things differently. The atmosphere was tensed, kind of tired but it was also the day of One Love Manchester concert organized by Ariana Grande so there was a hint of defiance and hope. For those days, nothing’s better than blue.

This fresh air was so good and this blue is amazing. Blue is my favourite colour, I find it soothing, comforting, and I like its shades. It reminds me of: the ocean, I grew up near the ocean, the sky where my head is often and the colour of some people’s eyes. Blue suits me, it comforts me.

We turned around and walked back to the car park. Instead of putting our little body back in the car right away, we walked to the cliff, it was a nice promenade. The Wales Coastal Path is awesome, you can explore the country by following the coast, you have a 1400km walk possible! From Chepstow (South East) to Queensferry (North East). We walked for a while to see the islands Flat Holm and Steep Holm then we came home.

I hope you enjoyed the promenade with us, I’m curious, tell me: what do you do on those “feel blue” days? During the next 5 days it’s all about celebration in Bayonne where I’m on holidays. If you want to see more of it, I invite you to look at the article I made 2 years ago on my French version of the blog, here, I’ll try to translate it soon.

Des bisous

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Discovering Pembrokeshire: Newport and Fishguard – visit, where to sleep, to eat

On est bien comme ça (acoustique) – Vianney

Salut, salut

Already my last post about North Pembrokeshire! We were supposed to stay the entire second day but as I told you in my previous past about the boat trip, bad weather invited itself in and even if rain is fine, rain without coat nor umbrella is kind of annoying. We shortened our visit but we visited after our boat trip and didn’t come back as soon as we woke up the next day, we wanted to see stuffs first and I’m going to show them to you today.

First of all, let’s talk about an essential thing: beddy-byes, where to sleep. We checked the hotels but they were expensive and we checked Airbnb and found better places and cheaper so… Airbnb it is! If you’ve never used Airbnb, I have a link for you that would make you and me save money so click here. We chose Joanna’s place in Llanychaer with the sweet name “Lavender cottage“; ideally situated between St Davids and Newport, calm, surrounded by land. We didn’t hear a single noise, no cars, no sirens, no city noises and that was a dream, we could only hear the rain falling and some cows far away. For a night, we didn’t need such a big place but we chose extra comfort, you would be really at ease if you go there alone or as a couple during a couple of nights or even a week. I really want to go back there during winter, to light a fire in the beautiful chimney… There are enough photos on Airbnb of the inside so I just post two that I’ve taken of the outside.

After our boat trip, we were pretty hungry, our host asked us if we had plans and we told him that we were thinking about eating in Fishguard but he advised us a pub in Newport, we thought that a local’s advise was worth taken and we went there. The Golden Lion is a typical pub, super cute and calm! You can eat inside, outside and in the backyard garden. As in most of the pubs, the food is simple but gourmet, prices are okay and people welcoming. I had the chance to hear a man talking in Welsh to a waitress and I love it, I absolutely don’t understand a thing but I love it! I’m learning Welsh, slowly but surely, it is very hard. Anyway, I recommend this pub to you, the food was great!

We finished our day by a walk in Newport’s seaside. It’s a small place but very cute, very “fishermen’s village”, rock houses, rock walls and in front of some houses,  a little garden with benches facing the sea. My post’s cover photo is in Newport actually, you can see that despite the tide, it’s absolutely lovely. Colours were so beautiful, a deep blue mixed with grey and the night’s light gave the atmosphere a sweet touch.

We spend a lovely night in our Lavender cottage and we woke up with the rain’s sound. It wanted to waste our plans but no, we absolutely wanted to see Fishguard so we went there. Fishguard has this “fishermen’s village” touch too and is lovely, under mist and rain but still lovely. The tide + mist + rain gave a melancholic air to it but I like those coloured houses in the middle of this grey. Sitting here and watching the seagulls is very soothing.

Our last stop before going back to Cardiff: Pentre Ifan, we wanted to see an old thing. This place is on a hill thanks to which, in theory, there’s a beautiful view over the countryside and the seaside but because of the weather we could see sheep. Pentre Ifan is a neolithic burial chamber (so 45000 year-old!) and formed by the largest dolmen in Wales and when we saw the thing, only one question came “How? How did they do that?”. The pebble is 5m long and weight more then 16 tonnes, and it is poised on three other pebbles made of the same bluestone that was used for the menhirs at Stonehenge. It is completely crazy, I keep thinking about it and I can’t find the answer, the thing is heavy! They were really strong! I’m sure there’s a explanation so if you have it, I take it.

That’s it, our Pembrokeshire’s discovery is over! We want to go back to visit South Pembrokeshire (and I really want to see other puffins) because villages there seem to be as pretty as what we saw. Pembrokeshire is super cool, we had a great time there and a fab anniversary.

If you want to see other posts about Pembrokeshire:

There are also other posts about our visits in Wales here: CRUSH #10.

So tell me, how much do you love Wales? Where’s your favourite place? We still have a lot to see, we’re not gone yet!

I leave you with Léo l’escargot (escargot is snail in French), inhabitant of Pentre Ifan and des bisous.

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A boat trip from St Justinian to Ramsey & Skomer island

Salut, salut

Here is the article about « the thing that we don’t do every day », finally. This article is important for me because I’d like to make you feel at least a quarter of what we felt, of the beauty we witnessed and it might be difficult with words because this place doesn’t need words. When we looked for something original to do for our 10 years anniversary, I remembered that I read in my Lonely Planet something about boat trips around Ramsey island in Pembrokeshire and we thought that it was exactly the right time to do it because we don’t do boat trips in our every day life. There are several tour operators possible included Voyages of Discovery, Thousand Islands and Blue Ocean Adventures; prices are similar and time on boat too. We didn’t know which one to choose so I simply sent an email asking them why they were the best choice among all (depending on tour, staff and boats), it’s a really simple thing to do and might appear stupid but you easily get an idea according to who answer and how they talk about their company. Among the three of them, one didn’t answer and the first who answered talked about the boats’ safety so we chose this one. « We’ll explore with Voyages of Discovery ».

Once we had the tour operator, we had to choose the tour. At first we wanted the big one, 2h30 on a boat for £60 and the title was « offshore islands whale and dolphin watch », a tour around Grassholm and the Small Lighthouse, seemed to be great; expensive but great. I called to book and the lady on the phone told me to call the next day to check the weather, unfortunately because of the weather the tour was canceled (could be dangerous to go there with the wind etc) but they advised another tour, 1h to 1h30 on a boat for £26 around Ramsey Island to see some animals, caves and the island so we were a little bit disappointed because it wasn’t a big one but we though that it was better than nothing so we said yes. The following day we arrived at St Davids and when we went to their office they told us that the last boat for this tour just went out, that was on us, we should have get there earlier. The last tour they had for the day was in an hour, a 2h boat tour called « Islands expedition » for £45 around Ramsey Island and Skomer Island. Per-fect! It was exactly between the two previous one, in term of prices and time. Per-fect!

This time, we didn’t dawdle, we didn’t want to be late so we went back to the car and drove 15mn to arrive at St Justinian. When we arrived, there’s a free car park but no empty spaces so we had to go to the £3 one. We went there and here’s the #VeryBritishProblem… We had to pay £3 right, but we had £2.50 old coins and £3 new coins. Guess what? The machine doesn’t take new pounds! This is absolutely ridiculous, I mean okay you changed the coins, fine, they’re better now but wasn’t it possible to think about machines first? Anyway, we called Voyages of Discovery and they were very nice, they took our number plate and told us to give £3 to Sam. We just needed to find who Sam was. Finally, we arrived at the boat rendez-vous point and Sam was the first person we saw, great! He looks like a beach boy from our Atlantic coast, blond hair and a Jax Teller’ look, it made us smile and we got the feeling that it was going to be great.

We still had 40mn to waste so we walked along the cliff. Breathtaking.

Then we took the stairs and sat closed to the dog, Sam and other people. He gave us big coats because even with 24 degrees on the mainland, it was going to be chilly on the boat. The boat arrived with a driver and a guide, Neil and Martin, they helped us go onboard, advised us to put our coat on, explained how to put the life jackets, checked and let’s go. We were a little bit afraid but so excited!

This water’s colour is unbelievable, it looks like a painting which shines and reflects. We got closer to Ramsey Island and saw opposite currents forming holes, tides, Neil and Martin explained to us how it works, and we even went into one of them, it was scary but so interesting! Once the boat started we got off easily. The island is beautiful, huge and really impressing, birds flew over us, they are called shearwaters.

Martin told us that we were going to one of the caves because we might find friends there…

So, here is Phoque the seal (phoque means seal in French, Le Barbu lacks of originality for names). We can clearly see him with our own eyes but I had to zoom with my camera , don’t worry we weren’t so closed with the boat. Actually, this is one of the thing we really liked about this boat trip, we could see animals but neither Martin or Neil wanted to go after them nor closer because they wanted to respect their lives and we appreciated it, we were on their lands so we let them and admired them from a respectful distance. We stayed a little near Ramsey Island to watch birds and Mr Phoque, breathe and realise how lucky we were then we went away. Direction: offshore!

And offshore, we could see the beautiful Ramsey Island, birds and… dolphins and porpoises! Voilà. You’re on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by blue and you glimpse a fin, two fins, three fins. It is magic. We could see them jumping and during those moments we didn’t really take photos because we were just enjoying. I got this one while photographing Ramsey Island. How lucky we were!

We didn’t see a lot of them but as I said, we weren’t going to chase them we were lucky enough to see what we saw and that was fine for us. We stayed a little while, we watched them and then we went to Skomer Island.

The closer we got to Skomer, the the more birds we saw. I was impatient to meet puffins, I think they are really cute, I thought they were bigger though. But the littlest the cutest, right? With their little orange bec, they look like penguin-birds.

Skomer Island is owned by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and is managed by National Trust of South and West Wales. It is a scientific site and a Historic Monument! It is the largest island of Pembrokeshire with its 730 acres. There are more than 6000 puffins’ couples on Skomer and more than 2000 couples on Skokholm (an island nearby), 120000 shearwaters’ couples on Skomer and 45000 on Skokholm, we saw thousands of them and it was crazy! We also had the chance to see Miss Mouette (mouette means seagull in French), she had less friends than the puffins and the shearwaters but they were here too. Actually, Miss Mouette sat on our boat and stayed for a while, looking at us, pooed, photobombed one of my photos and went away. Martin called her Steven for Steven Seagull/Seagal and we found it funny. It is funny, isn’t it? We also saw some jellyfishes, one of them I’ve never seen before the moon jellyfish, beautiful but scary! Martin told us that it was dangerous to swim here because of them.

Our 2h tour was going to end, we were sad but so happy at the same time! We were so lucky to witness all that beauty but the weather started to look gloomy. On our way back, we saw two cute seals, they were looking at us with only their heads out of the water but we couldn’t really see more than that because of the mist that was coming. We went on the boat with a shiny sun and 24 degrees and we landed back with a huge mist and 14 degrees… In two hours! But what a souvenir we created during those two hours, one of our most beautiful!

Useful info: we chose Voyages of Discovery, a 2h tour for £45 per person, the money is taken from your account only when you take the boat. There are 12 people on the boat and 2 employees. We met a young man at the office, Sam, Neil (I’m really sorry if I spelled it wrong), and Martin and they were all extremely nice and we had an unforgettable time, thanks a lot! Honestly, I was a little bit afraid first but they reassured me because they were so professional, we learnt a lot, saw beautiful places and animals that we’re not used to see, we had a fabulous time. It was an amazing gift for our 10 years anniversary and we’re really happy we chose this over material gifts. In those times you see how little you are, you human, and how nature is spectacular, we’re so lucky and we should preserve our beautiful planet because it deserves it…

I hope I was able to show you how beautiful this moment was, how extraordinary it was and I hope you understand that I highly recommend you to do it too, it worths the price. I leave you with Miss Mouette and her photobomb, and Skomer going away. Des bisous

(photos are mine, please don’t use them without permission)

Discovering Pembrokeshire: St Davids

Without you – Tobias Jesso Jr

Salut, salut

Today I’m not posting a recipe but a lovely tour in Wales. For our 10 years anniversary (10 years…!), le Barbu and I decided not to buy gifts but to discover somewhere new, create memories and do things we don’t do in our everyday life. We went from East to West, that’s how you realise that Wales is not a large country because it took us only 2H20 to go from Cardiff to St Davids! I’ll write 3 posts about our little tour in North Pembrokeshire: 1st today about St Davids, 2nd Wednesday about “a thing we don’t do in our everyday life” and 3rd Friday about lovely places.

We took our car to get there, by leaving at 9am we arrived at 11:30am, perfect timing for what we had planned. Roads are quite good, there’s the M4 but it gets better when you leave it and take little roads, Welsh roads where you can see sheep, cows, beaches and coast. Motorways are great because they are faster but so boring whereas little roads are good fun. We drove past St Brides Bay, it was sunny, gorgeous and a nice sun welcomed us in St Davids.

Why did we choose this town? Everyone knows about St Patrick, Irish and others celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, well there’s one for each country and in Wales, it is Saint David. There’s a cathedral to visit, a nice town and what I’ve liked a lot was the legend of Saint David. I’m going to tell you the story, very briefly, according to what I’ve read on historic-uk and in my book Welsh Legends and Myths by G. Watkins. It might not be all accurate, legends after are not supposed to be strict history.

Let’s go back to 6th century. A beautiful little girl, Nonnita, born Royal Princess in a small town called Menevia embraced the new religion, Christianity. She devoted herself to a life of celibacy and devotion for her only God and showed absolutely no interest in men. Little by little, she became well-known and people come from far away to see her, hear her words and wisdom. Sant, King of Ceredigion is one of those people, when he saw her he felt a powerful desire and even though she resisted, he took her and violated her. I’ve read a lot of legends about Saint David and they are all quite similar but a lot of them just mention his “royal blood parents” without this part of the story and I think it’s not fair because it is important to explain that Nonnita resisted.

Nonnita became pregnant and when her waters broke, she took refuge near the sea. She washed herself and lay down in the mud. A storm started with ugly clouds and pouring rain but as soon as the child arrived, a single ray of sunshine illuminated the mother and her child. Nonnita decided to give him the name “Dewi Sant” in Welsh, “Dewi” is “David” in English. He was raised as a Christian and his mother left to establish several religious sites but his education was taking care of by two priests, Saint Columba and Saint Finnegan. They taught him theology, languages and history, they also engaged a blind tutor, Paulinius. Guess what? His first miracle is going to be for him! He splashed water into Paulinius’ eyes and when he reopened them, he was able to see! What was the first thing he saw? A bunch of daffodils… Hence the Welsh symbol.

Saint David developed his religious side, he is called “David the Water Drinker” because of one of his rule: always drink water, unless it is safer to drink wine or beer. He was a strict vegetarian and frequently immersed himself in freezing water as an act of piety. He traveled a lot and was really well-known, so much that people complained they couldn’t see him in churches because there were too much of them. No problem, he took a handkerchief, put it on the floor, stood on it and a small hill appeared so everyone can see him. Classy, right? So he preached and a dove landed on his shoulder. Super classy, right? He taught people to “do the little things”, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was named bishop. He foresaw his death and at around 100 years-old he died during a Viking raid on 1st March 589. AH! Hence the national day…

In 1120 Pope Calistuts II canonised him and declared that 2 pilgrimages to David’s tomb = 1 to Rome, 3 pilgrimages to David’s tomb = 1 to Jerusalem.

Now you know every thing, roughly, about his legend. Let’s see the cathedral.

Photos: entrance, the Bible in Welsh, one of the gorgeous ceilings, the Lady Chapel.

Good to know: you have to pay £2 to take photos in the cathedral. First, we were like “oh, common’ there are a lot of people without a badge so they haven’t payed, we’re not going to” but then, after 30 secondes “hum, cathedral, God, karma, respect…” and we payed, I got a beautiful self-sticking thing on my arm. The cathedral is really beautiful and huge (as you can see in the first photo of the post)! It is rustic, walls and decorations are amazing. There’s also a treasure room that I liked but Le Barbu didn’t because he doesn’t understand the fact that Church posses things but he liked the cathedral anyway, that means that even if you have different tastes and opinions, everyone can enjoy the cathedral and find something interesting. There was something that was strange though, 3 statues: one of Saint Patrick (Ireland’s patron saint), one of Saint David (Wales’ patron saint) and one of Saint Andrew (Scotland’s patron saint) but none of Saint George (England’s patron saint). The big question is: why? That was strange and funny at the same time.

After this little tour, we went to the town centre and even though we hadn’t much time, I can tell you one thing: I’m falling in-love with cottages, those little houses are so cute!

Photos: part of the cemetery, town centre pub, one of the cottages, beautiful flowers.

Le Barbu ate a Welsh rarebit in that pub and found it quite good, staffs were nice but, again, we didn’t stay long. If you don’t know what a Welsh rarebit is, it is a “nice but fat meal” (looks like that). We arrived in St Davids under a clear blue sky, 26 degrees, very nice and all of a sudden, clouds, rain and little thunder. Great. Awesome. I was a little bit scared for the rest of our day but it went away as fast as it came. Maybe we can thank Dewi. Or not? We decided in St Davids that if one day we want to change our careers, we’d take cows for their milk, hen for their eggs and sheep for their wool. And that, that is a great plan! They also have nice birds here, jackdaws they are called. They look like ravens but nicer and with a better sound.

We went back to the cathedral to take our car and fly to our next adventure. Saint Davids’ flag was proudly flying, water from the stream was making a soft noise and ran peacefully, birds were singing their lives, elderly people were sitting on benches and pupils were playing around. Saint Davids was pleasant! Authentic, natural and pleasant.

I hope that you enjoyed the little tour, on Wednesday I’ll take you with us to one of our best memory ever! Des bisous

 

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CRUSH #10

Hen Wlad fy Nhadau – Welsh Choir of the Black Mountain

Salut, salut

You probably know it (or you don’t), we’re living in Cardiff since October and Wales is a real crush for us, wherever we will be in a month, 10 months, a year, 10 years… It will be “Wales forever”. The other day I found an advert by Visit Wales in which we see Luke Evans (recently in Beauty and the Beast) talking a little but about his country and how should I say that… I fell in love. The views are stunning, the way he speaks like a story teller, the effects; the advert in itself that makes me want to grab my backpack and just go, right now. I am absolutely crazy about those 40sc, I saw them I don’t know how many times but just hearing the Welsh names makes me smile. I know I totally sound crazy but, last time I shared a video of my sand dune that I really miss and I wanted to share a little bit of Wales too. Here is the advert:

So, am I the only one who wants to backpack? Honestly? In 11 days we’re heading West for 2 little days, I can’t wait to see more of Wales!

If you want to see more posts about Wales, here are the ones I’ve written:

Des bisous

(Find this article in French here)