The North Yorkshire Moors

Last weekend, I organized a retreat for my student leaders to the North Yorkshire Moors.  The photos that you see are taken by a student (a true sign that we need a good camera).  Purple heather, lone trees, dense forests, a lake, getting lost for 14 miles, shooting stars, solo walks, night hikes, and endless blackberries were highlights for us.  I would definitely return to this unique and special landscape.

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Packing in the Fall

I have taken many Fall trips in my life and the above packing list is what I have dwindled down after practicing over and over again.  Of course this always depends on what your plans are, but if you’re going on a standard weekend to week-long trip, this is really all you need to start with.  If you’re going on a long trip, you might want to throw in one more tee and one more sweater, but that’s it.

I like having two pairs of shoes on trips, especially if I’m going to be walking.  That way, if my feet get sore in my sneakers, I can wear my other shoes the next day.  These lace up flats from El-Naturalista are the most versatile shoes I own.  I can wear them to work with dresses or pants, and on the weekends with jeans.  I can wear them with tall socks or no-show socks.  They rock!  I highly recommend all of El Naturalista’s shoes and I own two pairs so far.

I recently added a trench or rain coat to the fall packing list because it’s really miserable to be out traveling without the appropriate rain gear.  I made that mistake in Dijon and I had to wait hours before my clothes dried.

Remember these tips:

  1.  Always check the weather
  2. Make sure everything goes with everything else
  3. don’t try to make up outfits or wear things that you wouldn’t wear in “real” life

Love,

Steph

Pardon me, do you have any Dijon?

There was lots of Dijon in Dijon, but that was about the only thing that went as planned.  Lots of rain and the fact that everything closes on Mondays and Tuesdays provided a creative vacation in this Burgundian town.

Our AirBnB hosts actually picked us up from the train station and filled us in on all of the great things to do in the area.  This was good, because our Frommer’s France guidebook was rendered useless given that every single thing in ti that we wanted to do was either closed or no longer existed.  It was the first full moon of the Fall and we headed to Place Emile Zola to have a wonderful dinner under the clear sky.

The next day we headed to Lac Kir, a man-made lake on the outskirts of town named after and created by the city’s mayor Felix Kir.  In case you are wondering, the Kir (white wine mixed with cassis) is also named after him.  We had a picnic by the lake and walked all the way around!  Ducks were out and about and there were nice autumn leaves beginning to fall.

Our second day in Dijon was showered with rain.  We needed to find some indoor activities so we went to the Musee Des Beaux Arts.  This is one of France’s oldest museums and actually is really boring.  I mean, really boring.  Medieval paintings and sculptures abound, and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.  But I will say, that past the medieval farm tools and the 700th Jesus painting, there is an extremely ugly addition to the museum that houses some amazing modern art!  Monets, Manets, Renoirs, and Picassos are appallingly hung on what looks to be the kind of walls that are carpeted that are used for cubicles in office buildings interspersed with wood paneling.  Tres Bizarre!

One of the coolest things about Dijon is the Rue de la Chouette.  This is a route, marked by a little owl, and it directs you to all of the site of historical significance.  We just became obsessed with finding the owls and not necessarily with the places.  Popular legend has it that the owl (la chouette) carved on the side of the Church of the Notre Dame is a good luck charm: visitors to the church touch the owl with their left hands to make a wish.

One the last day, we did one of our favorite things, which is to stock up on things we can’t get as cheaply in London.  Our shopping trip included:

12 bottles of wine from the Monoprix (local grocery store)

2 local salamis from the central indoor market (featured in the rainbow gallery)

little mustards

olive oil

sunflower oil

special cheese Citeaux made by local monks from Cremerie Porcheret

Above are some other pictures we took on the trip that don’t really fit into the rainbow, but are worth mentioning.  We probably won’t go back to Dijon, but it was another region of France that we had not been to and we’re glad we went.

We have now been to Paris, Bourgogne, La Loire, Bretegne, and Provence.  Where should be go next?

Rainbow Tartans

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I had the coolest day today.  First off, I opened up my inbox and found this picture from my friend Bambi.  This is from her backyard.  Yes, she has a church in her backyard and it always looks this glorious.

Then, I walked into my colleague’s office, and he was wearing this tie:

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Then, I spent the whole lunch talking about rainbows.  It was magical.  So, if some of you remember, I posted a picture of a double rainbow the other day.  If you go back and look carefully at that picture, you’ll see something really crazy:  each rainbow is a mirror image of the other!!!!!!!!  Let me explain in case you can’t see it.  A rainbow is ROYGBIV.  However, in a double rainbow situation it’s ROYGBIV VIBGYOR, not ROYGBIV ROYGBIV.  Fabulous!  It’s probably obvious to many of you out there, but I never knew!

Now back to this tartan business.  I was so excited to see the combination of a tartan and a rainbow, I asked my colleague if I could take a picture of the tie.  After searching on the internet for about ten minutes, I finally found the history of this rainbow tie:

First woven in 1775, this tartan is believed to be an ‘apprentice piece’. The pattern is complex and would have shown the skills of the young hand weaver. This is probably the first time since its creation in 1775 that the tartan has been commercially manufactured. 

But, when you search for rainbow tartan, you get more information than you bargained for.  I was pleased to see these two designs:

The one on the left is a design created in 2000 as a symbol for the gay community.  Apparently it was quite controversial among the old dudes who probably induct the tartans into official tartanhood, but it seems to have made it’s way onto the official tartan registry.

The tartan on the right is simply designed to remind us that everyone deserves to be treated with love and respect.  Seriously, read it here! Maybe the tartan on the right reminded the Tartan Guys that the tartan on the left should be validated.

When you start looking for rainbows, you find them everywhere!  Thanks for the pictures,

Love,

Steph

Reims-ing and Raving

Reims (rhymes with prance) is only a 45 minute TGV ride from Paris.  Situated in Champagne country, it is the perfect side trip. We stayed at an AirBnB for one night in this really beautiful apartment with a very nice lady and explored the city for about 24 hours. Here are some of the highlights:

Pink  Red Biscuits de Reims:  These rose flavoured treats are a great thing to bring back.  The problem is, you can really buy them anywhere in the world, even the specialty cookie shop in your home town.  But, they are made here!  Reims is really proud of their specialities, as are all regions of France, so it’s good to celebrate them while you’re in the area, even if globalization has ruined the specialness of it.

Champagne: Yes, you are only allowed to call this champagne because it comes from champagne.  There are many caves to visit near Reims, but the one we chose was Pommery, given that they had a tour in English and no pre-booking was necessary.  We walked about a mile out of town to get there.  Unfortunately, we missed the English tour and took the French one.  We’s sad to say we didn’t understand a single word, but you do get a coupe of champagne at the end of the tour.  Travel tip:  don’t buy directly from the winery in this case.  Go to a grocery store and get it even cheaper.  In Reims they have a wine warehouse where you can get bottles for reasonable prices.

Cathedral:  It is the pride and joy of this small french town and it is really amazing.  When I was in Greece last September with my students and we were climbing up to a fort, one of the students said, “Not another f-ing fort to climb!”  He said that every time his family goes to a european city, they always climb up a fort.  I was thinking I feel the same way about cathedrals.  I couldn’t identify which is which in a line up, but it’s nice to go in while you’re there.  Actually, I think this is probably the most memorable one I’ve been after Notre Dame and Chartres.

The Forum:  These are roman ruins in the city and they are actually fairly useful today.  There are a few good restaurants around it (we went to the Bistrot de Forum, which was excellent) and you can just kind of wander in and play around on the steps.  At lunch, people eat their picnics on the old steps.

We are thinking about going back to a different city in the region in November.  We would choose to rent bikes and ride to some of the more outlying vineyards.  No rainbow sightings at all!  However, we’ll keep our eyes peeled next time.

Shoe-be-do

photo (1)When I woke up this morning I was in a quite a social mood so I texted my friend only to find out she was at Selfridges buying shoes.  I went to meet her there and found this unexpected rainbow of flip flops on the wall.  It’s probably been about two years since I’ve been in Selfridges.  Since my friend has just moved to London, this is her first time in the famous department store.  It reminded me of the first time I went there two years ago…

First, I needed a new pari of Nike’s and Andrew needed a pair of dress shoes.  He needed those shoes because he had a job interview the next day and I needed running shows because I had left my old, worn-out ones at the Goodwill in Portland.  Two years later my Nike’s are going strong and Andrew’s shoes need to be resoled, but so much has happened in between.

When we first got here, we got sucked into the traveling mentality fueled by the ex-pat community.  For example, instead of asking “What are you doing on Thanksgiving Break?” I’m asked “Where are you going on Thanksgiving break?”  it’s this weird rush to go to as many places as possible to take advantage of being in Europe.  Back home, we were lucky to take one vacation a year, and we were really lucky if that vacation was together.  But, here it’s just assumed that people will travel on holiday.

While I love traveling and seeing different places, Andrew and I have been in the mindset of traveling nearby recently.  We have some really exciting trips coming up, but they’re all by car and train and within two hours of London.  We’re really excited to share those with you, as well as some of our trips from last year that we have yet to write about.

In the meantime we’re enjoying spending time with friends.  LIke to today summiting Primrose Hill in the sun:

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Or last weekend, going to the Fun Dog Show to watch “My Dog’s Got Talent” and the “Golden Retriever Society” with our friends:

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And, I’m happy to say that my blog has inspired one of my dearest friend to have a little bit of fun doing the laundry, even with no dryer, and even if she is cleaning diapers:

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And here’s a double rainbow from earlier in the week:

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Love,

Steph