Powered by Blogger.

The best views in Paris

Soooo it's been ages since my last travel post, and ages since my first and last post about our little trip to Paris back in September. I had intended to write this post up a long while ago but then the terror attacks happened to my beautiful little city (I don't know why I say this like I live here or am remotely French, I just have Paris feels). I left it quite a while because when I looked at the photos from our trip it was all I could think about and everything felt a bit 'tainted'. 

Anyway, things have definitely changed since then and I feel like people are flowing back into the city again. I don't want people to feel unsafe or discouraged as it's definitely a bucket list destination for so many. I know myself that I won't be intimidated by these awful people. Politics aside, I thought I'd share what was a unexpected favourite part of our most recent trip - the magnificent view from the Arc de Triomphe.

Maybe I'm biased here because this was the only view we got over the three days that wasn't marred by cloud and rain (thanks September) but I really didn't anticipate that the view from the top would be so stunning. Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower are both higher vantage points but this hit the spot for me. 

From the top of l'Arc de Triomphe you're in a very central position. Look down the Champs Elysess and the shoppers and tourists are bustling, Look up towards La Defense and you'll see the impressive skyscrapers of the business district. The Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur can also be enjoyed in all their glory. We've seen the cityscape from various viewpoints but this took the biscuit.

The weather was perfect (although bloody windy so hold onto your hats), the trees were just starting to turn their varying shades of amber and copper, and I could've spent hours up there spying on the world below, picking out monuments with the telescopes.

A must too is to view the arc from below - not forgetting that it is primarily a war monument, the architecture is also beautiful. 

It's even free to go up if you're an EU citizen under 25 thanks to Paris's generous policy on museums and monuments - just flash your passport at the ticket booth. If you're headed to Paris, pop this on your list.

More on Paris travel:

TBE reads: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I had heard so many good things about Neil Gaiman’s writing, but something was stopping me from delving in that until now I hadn't been able to put my finger on. I think that having largely steered clear of anything fantastical or magical apart from good old Harry Potter throughout my degree had left unable to tap into that childlike sense of imagination I once had. I was stuck in the real world with no desire to leave it. A foray into the weird and wonderful mind of Gaiman has definitely changed that.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a book that requires you suspend your disbelief wherever possible, as a man returns to his childhood home town and recalls some events from his youth that, witchcraft and monsters notwithstanding, are a little out of the ordinary. A local suicide that seems somewhat suspicious sparks the narrator and his friend Lettie (who claims the pond on her farm is in fact an ocean, hence the title) to investigate. This results in a series of traumatising events, weird and wonderful discoveries, and not necessarily the happiest of endings.

The adult part of my brain began a psych evaluation on the narrator - I wondered why he would ever make something so ludicrous up! The kid in me however was totally routing for the characters, desperate for them to triumph against evil. I think in this way you could liken the story to a kind of Life of Pi situation. Has this all been dreamt up in this boy's head to cope with the family turmoil that's more than apparent, or is this for real? I think readers will of course believe whatever they want to. As a kid I always wanted to believe there was something more than our human world (I don't think I'm alone in having waited for a Hogwarts letter), and this totally taps back into that.

The writing style is also just beautiful, and Gaiman definitely has a talent for painting vivid visions of creatures that are entirely mythical and downright scary. The ending is so delicately described that I was truly left in awe! If you're looking for something a bit different to read this is an excellent choice! This might have been my first Neil Gaiman novel but I doubt it'll be the last.

Have you read any good books lately?

3 ways to put your beauty samples to good use

If you've ever been subscribed to the likes of Birchbox, Glossybox and co then you'll know that beauty boxes often deliver way more samples than you know what to do with. I personally ended all my subscription boxes after shopping around a bit because I was getting such a build-up of miniatures. Last week I found a big box full and realised I should probably find a few ways to get through them faster.

1. Rotate - I'm not a massive fan of continually switching products. I think part of the reason I didn't get on with beauty boxes was that ultimately once I know something works for me I tend to just stick with it. That said I'm trying to sneak a sample product or two into my muji stash every month or so just to give it a try. You never know, you might find something better this way!

2. Prep - With many sub boxes you also get little pouches for the products. If you have enough of a range, use a couple of these to compile travel kits for things like the gym, holidays and staying over at friends. This way you won't have to worry about decanting giant bottles or lugging them around with you. They're handy for handbags too!

3. Give - If you already have a full-size of a product or just know you're not going to use it, pass it on to someone else who might benefit. You could even put them into gifts like this homemade 'spa in a jar' idea that I found over on Pinterest. I did a few of these for the ladies in my life at Christmas and they were very well received!

So don't let your samples go to waste, put them to good use instead! 

To be read

I'm hoping to read a lot more this year than I did last year. Although I love books and took a literature degree I find it very hard to concentrate and consistently commit to reading whole novels when I feel stressed and busy. It's so hard to sit back and get into a story when there's stuff on my mind! January will hopefully be quite laid back and I'll be able to rekindle my inner bookworm. 

I've already lined up a few choices for this year's reading list, so I thought I'd share what I'll be devouring and reviewing in the coming month or so. 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell - I have to admit I was sucked in by the title and cover but I'm very excited to read this. From the blurb I think this will be quite an adventure, with both political and fantastical elements thrown in. I'm going to start this tonight so watch this space!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I read this coming of age (with a twist) story quite a while ago before the film come out but I got through it so quickly that I didn't really take it all in. I did this with the Hunger Games books and when I re-read them I picked up on more details that made it a much better read. Something's calling me back to this one.

Walking with Sausage Dogs by Matt Whyman - I have an extensive obsession with dachshunds of all sizes and my Auntie got me this book for Christmas. It looks like such a funny, cute read and has received great reviews so this will be a nice change as I don't often read light-hearted material and probably should!

What reads have you got lined up so far in 2016?