#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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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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If I could escape: Cardiff Bay

Dumbo – Vianney

Bonjour, bonjour

Here I am, eating Nutella with a spoon, watching Gilmore Girls (no spoilers, just season 3), praying for the snow to fall. Because the snow is falling everywhere except where I am, of course. And what could be better, with such cold temperature and white sky than blue pictures? Snow or blue, I don’t want just a white sky saying “oh you think it is going to snow but heyhey nooo” so, today I am bringing you with me to Cardiff Bay, a blue Cardiff Bay!

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It is a really nice place in Cardiff. There are no shopping centre, huge things to visit but it is a beautiful place to see. To be honest, when we moved in Cardiff we didn’t know that Cardiff Bay existed and to see the sea, or at least water, is something great because we miss our ocean.

So, what can you do in Cardiff Bay? If you’re a Doctor Who dan, there is the experience. I don’t watch Doctor Who so I can’t tell you how is it but from what I’ve heard, the experience is good! And you should hurry because from what I’ve heard, the experience is not going to last forever…

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There is also the Norwegian church, it is pretty cool, there is a gallery, sometimes craft markets and photos, a coffee shop… It is a nice place. It used to be a Lutheran church, build in 1868 and it became a cultural centre. Cardiff used to be a huge port, some of the sailors were Norwegian and they needed a place to pray so, there you go; Norwegian Church!

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And you have the views. I mean, have you seen those views? All that blue? Well, as I am writing it is rather write (without snow) and grey but this day, look at that blue! The beautiful red building is called Pierhead and was build in 1897, it is made of terra-cotta and you know what? The clock’s name is “Little Big Ben”, cool isn’t it? Pierhead is a sort of museum, you can see stuffs explaining why it is here, a video about the Welsh heroes… Interesting.

To the right you can see the Assembly of Wales, did you know that they only have an assembly since the Government of Wales Act in 1998? And it can legislate without asking to the UK only since 2011. Isn’t that crazy? Tell you what, countries deciding for others, people governing without really being elected… Sometimes, the world does not go round!

To the left, you can glimpse Roald Dahl Plass and, in the background, the Millenium Centre but we will see that later…

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Roald Dahl Plass! Did you know that the author was born in Cardiff? So, because the man in quite famous and has done something with his life, they named a place after him. It is sometimes used as an amphitheatre. So, Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff and he had Norwegian ancestors… Ah! Everything is linked! Hey, what about that church again? Oh, you can see it from the Real Dahl Plass.

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The Pierhead is really beautiful from the outside so I’d say you have to see it if you come to Cardiff. Although, if it is closed and you can’t go in (opening times: from Monday to Saturday 10:30 – 4;30), don’t worry because it is beautiful and there are intersting stuffs in but they could have done much better :)

So, I was looking at the Pierhead and then I turned my head. What do I see? Something very familiar…

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A restaurant on stilts. Just like the one I have in my beautiful region in France. Well, not exactly the same but quite the same! Don’t you just want to sit on a bench, look at the horizon and enjoy the moment? Or sit at this restaurant on stilts with a glass of wine/beer/water  and a book? Isn’t it nice?

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And here it comes, the beautiful Millenium Centre! It is huge! There is a sort of tourist information, a coffee shop, a shop and of course you can listen to music. At the Wales Millenium Centre you can see opera, ballets, theatre, and musicals! For Christmas, my Love bought 2 tickets to see Mary Poppins… it was awesome, I was 5 at every scene, I wanted to cry and at the end, Mary Poppins leaves with her umbrella and she flies… She flies! That was just like a dream! If you’re near Cardiff, you should try to go and see something there because it is really beautiful.

A nice promenade, a flood barrier, water, seagulls, restaurants, things to visit/to see, a huge place to have a good time watching a show… This is Cardiff Bay. From Cardiff Centre there is a bus but there is also a boat, yes, a boat! You take it in Bute Parc (near to the castle) and it will drive you to Cardiff Bay but you can also take it in Cardiff Bay and it will take you to Bute Parc. This is something to try because it is not that expensive (can’t remember the price) and you have the chance to see things from a different perspective. You can see the Millenium Centre from the Taff for example :)

I hope you liked the promenade, don’t hesitate and share your thoughts, your blue/grey/white skies but know that if you have snowy skies with real snow coming down, I will be extremely jealous. Des bisous

(You can find this article in French here)

 

If I could escape: Cardiff Castle

Mercy – Duffy

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Salut, salut

So, what are your plans for today: Christmas prep, sunday cold walk? Chilling maybe?

When we arrived in Cardiff, all we knew about it were the rugby stadium and the castle. Of course, there’s more too see but for me, the castle is really important. It is the first thing we visited, the road I take every morning, all the important persons that came there, all the History there…! I find that fascinating and the thing that is really cool when you visit the castle is the audioguide, it tells you a lot of stories and captivating stuffs!

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It’s a really peaceful place! The colours are splendid, constructing, it is absolutely gorgeous. There’s an admission fee (£12 for adults, £9 for kids, £10.50 for seniors and students), but you can stay there as long as you want. If it wasn’t -2° outside, I would love to sit on a bench and read. You can go in the castle, in the house and enjoy the green land all around and you have the possibility to add £3 (for adults, £2 for kids, £2.50 for seniors and student) to have a house tour with a guide, it is really interesting. The guide we had was a nice man, funny and told us good stories about the castle and the house. I think it’s more than okay to pay £3 for that.

Big crushes for the highest room, from which you’ll have a magnificent view, a pretty fountain with a beautiful statue (only for the house tour) et the library with the names of Great Men and old books (house tour with a guide or without).

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We really enjoyed walking between those walls, full of History with the canteen, Churchill’s voice, old beds, photos and old adverts. I may be strange but I love going to places like this, closing my eyes, breathing and imaging how it was so many years ago.

Climbing the Castle’s steps, you’ll see step by step that you’re going up and the view is changing, the colours are changing. The view from the top is amazing; on one side you have the greenness that surrounds the castle, the city center with the rugby stadium and on the other side, more green with mountains, Castell Coch to your left and the city hall to your right.

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You think you’re done? If I can give you an advice, walk under the trees. You’ll have a wonderful view and if you look closely, you’ll find new friends. Also, you should be there for the sunset… take into account the time to visit the castle and the house (around 2-3 hours), the last admission is at 4pm and the castle closes at 5pm. Since the sun sets around 4pm those days, it’s a perfect timing and it’s worth it!

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Last really good info: the castle belongs to the people of Cardiff and not the city. It is really nice because if you live or work in Cardiff, you can have a castle key and with it you have free access to the castle for 3 years. What do you think about that?

I think I am going to do some Christmas stuffs, walk in my cold city and hope for some wind. I love a little bit of wind here because I love to see the proud dragon flying in the air. Just like the other time at the castle, look at it, isn’t it beautiful? I think I’m never going to get rid of that.

Des bisous.

More info on Cardiff Castle website, if you want to read this post in French click here.

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Cardiff: where to sleep?

Song I Just Wrote – Nadeah

Salut, salut!

If you know my French blog, you might have noticed that with the Barbu and the little Ginger, we came to Cardiff to work. If it is a thing you are considering, you have to know that finding a nice apartment here can be as easy as complicated so I just have one advice: come before the students, late August or early September. We’ve been in a lot of places since we arrived in Cardiff, that was stressful but at least, now I am able to give some advice about where to sleep in the city. All the places listed here are for an average budget, there are 3 airbnbs and 2 hotels.

During our year here, I’ll have other places to show you; where to walk, where to eat… So stay here :)

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We stayed at Helen’s one week and the room is really nice; there’s enough space so you won’t feel squeezed, the shower is in the room and there’s also a sofa. The balcony is a plus, it’s really nice to know that you can go outside but it was so cold that we didn’t enjoyed it. When you book at Helen’s, know that it is only a room, not an apartment. It will be enough if you eat outside every time but keep in mind that you might have to do so. For us, it was difficult because on a low budget, we couldn’t afford to eat outside every time and I needed to have something to eat for lunch at work so we asked Helen if we could use her kitchen. She said yes, but we had to wait for them to be out of the kitchen, so we could use it around 9pm, 10.30pm. The kitchen wasn’t included in the price so we won’t complain, it was already nice enough to allow us to use it. Just a little damper: the heat was off, so it was a little bit cold.

The area: we fell in love with the neighbourhood, it is really lovely, with a parc within 5mn walk. If we could, we would have taken an apartment there!

In short: nice room, good size, clean, 30mn walk from Cardiff center, lovely dog and nice hosts.

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First, I have to tell you that we didn’t get the apartment we can see in the photos. We think that Mike has probably a couple of apartments and only one is photographed. It’s a pity because those photos are not so good and the apartment we had was better than this one. It was big enough, with an open kitchen, and a nice sofa. I was so happy to be able to cook again! The oven is good, the fridge too and there’s a washing machine. If I can give you an advice I would say that you have to be careful when using the washing machine; remove anything that is on top of it or you’ll have a high chance to break something. One morning, while we were still in bed, a man came in the apartment and by the time the Barbu went to see who was there, the man left and he just saw his hair. We texted Mike immediately and he fixed the problem: it was just his handy man who didn’t know that someone was in the apartment. It dishearten us, I have to admit that but it is the only problem we had. About the cleanliness: so-so. It wasn’t dirty but not irreproachable.

The area: the apartment is on Cowbridge Road, it is a well-known road so it means good transports and it is only a 30mn walk from the city center.

In short: nice apartment, good size, seagulls as neighbours and noisy humans, 30mn from the city center.

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One word: crush. This apartment is a dream, well decorated and so comfy! It is small but extremely cosy, not oppressive. I’ve chosen to show you a photo of the kitchen because, look at that kitchen! It’s a ground floor flat but we felt safe there. It is well heated, comfy, there is a washing machine-dryer. Emily is very nice, easily reachable and she accepts pets! About that, there is a cat flap on the kitchen door so you might find yourself face to face with a cat but don’t worry, they will vanished as soon as they’ll see you. We really enjoyed everything there, it was a sweet pause during our stressful apartment research. The apartment was typically the kind of apartment we would like to have one day!

The area: the apartment is near Cowbridge Road, so easy access and transports, close to the city center. The lane is tranquil, there’s now problems.

In short: dream apartment, cosy, 30mn walk from the center, pets allowed and there’s a parking place.


  • Royal Hotel (website)

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I am not going to be able to tell you a lot about this hotel because we stayed there just one night before going at Helen’s. It is in the city center which is really good to visit. The room had a nice size, the bed was comfortable and the shower just as it should be. People who work there are really nice and if you need help they will happily help you, there is also a room so you can let your luggage if you have to free the room but leave later.

The area: the hotel is in the city center, it is animated so really good.

In short: well situated, comfy, you can find special offers on booking.com.

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We stayed there a week. Initially, we went to an airbnb but once there, we couldn’t stay more than 30mn because of humidity! Our mouths furry, I started to feel asthma again… Impossible to stay there! Of course, the cancelation was strict so no refundable but we had to move out and the easiest thing was to go to this hotel. Honestly, it was really nice! Okay, the room is not big but it’s enough, the bed is nice, the shower too… Just what we needed. There’s a microwave in the hall free to use, so you can buy something in a supermarket and reheat it there, breakfast is nice because you can take whatever you want (but you have to pay more for it).

The area: the hotel is just after the railway but the area seems quite tranquil, just 20mn walk from city center.

In short: nice, comfy and good price-quality ratio.


Well! That was a long article! I love to read the “…: where to sleep?” article on other blogs, because no matter which city the person is talking about, she gives your her own opinion, it feels realer, you know what I mean? I hope you will like my article too, I’ve tried to give you everything I could but if you need anything else, don’t hesitate and comment below.

I know that Cardiff is not the n°1 destination in the UK but I’m positive: you have to try it! As I said previously, I will give you adresses of yummy places, good walks here and so on. We really enjoy living here so, whoever you are/wherever you are, I hope I will make you want to come here.

I wish you a lovely Monday, des bisous.