Life Rambles: Last-Minute Gift Ideas

So there’s just a week until Christmas and I’m still panicking about the bits and bobs I haven’t yet bought. There’s always someone who is super-tricky to buy for. Someone you end up leaving until the last-minute to sort out present wise, isn’t there? Inevitably I then get panicked and just buy whatever I can find, which is never a good idea for anyone! So on that note, I thought I’d try to share some of last-minute gift ideas. These should all work for most people and that will still arrive in time for the big day – either because they’re local or because they don’t involve posting. Hopefully you’ll find it super helpful!

Last-Minute Gift Ideas - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Make Them Something!

Granted making them a gift does mean you need a bit of time, but if you’re not seeing them until Christmas Day you can make the most of the weekend and knock something up then. I’m thinking super-yummy fudge, which requires just three ingredients or chocolate orange cookies or even a jar full of all the dry ingredients needed for cupcakes or biscuits. Whack the homemade treats in a jar, add some ribbon and hey presto you’re done. Super easy, and so thoughtful too!

Talking of making those last-minute gifts, what about creating a gorgeous hamper of treats? I love nothing more than getting food at Christmas, especially when it’s those bits and pieces I’d never treat myself to usually. If such delights came my way on Christmas day in a cute box or basket I’d be super happy. I bet you know someone who would be too.

Bookish Gifts

My best last-minute gift suggestion has to be to head to your local independent bookshop, or Waterstones and gift them a book. I guarantee you’ll find something, even if it’s just one book, no matter what they like or if they’re not a big reader. I’m a big fan of the Penguin Classics for everyone or beautiful picture books for little ones. And if they’re not big readers humour books are always a good idea – like the grown up editions of the Famous Five, Mr Men or the Ladybird Books for example. If you’re still struggling just pop in and ask the booksellers, they’ll know exactly what to suggest. Or check out Waterstones’ Christmas gift guide – there are loads of suggestions there.

Be Charitable

If you know they’re a bookish person but think they have enough books, why not consider gifting a book in their name? There are two brilliant ways you can do this. Firstly by donating books to children in care via Booktrust. Booktrust is the UK’s biggest reading charity and they are aiming to give a book to all 9,000 children in care this Christmas. By donating £10 to Booktrust you’ll be ensuring a child gets a book this Christmas. How awesome is that?

Talking of gifting books, the other people doing that this year are Books Made Better. They’re a publisher focused on publishing more diverse books and ensuring they get into the hands of people who might not always see themselves in books. They’re doing this in many ways, but one is their Books Made Better Book Club. The aim of the club is to choose an inclusive book every two months and asks people to donate to get these books into the hands of schools, communities and individuals across the UK. The current read is A Change is Gonna Come an anthology from Black, Asian and Minority Ethic writers. A truly special book. And an important one too. So why not support the Books Made Better team?

Talking of lovely bookish, charitable things, what about donating to any charity in lieu of a present? I really like this idea and I’m actually considering it for a couple of people on my to buy for list. There are tons of options – like buying a bed for someone through Crisis at Christmas, or to donating to any charity on their behalf.

Downloadable Gifts

I’m always so impressed at the super creative people on Etsy who can create beautiful printable things. And what better way to show your support than buying something from them. Plus they’re great last-minute gift ideas thanks to the fact you don’t have to wrap anything! It’s even better if you have a decent printer to print your item on, but if you don’t have one just gifting it to someone else still works. I’m really hoping I get this gorgeous 2018 printable calendar this Christmas. Are you listening Santa?

My final suggestion for a last-minute gift idea? A magazine subscription. Again it is downloadable so you can shop from the comfort of your own home. Plus with nothing to wrap, you can buy and print it off just five minutes before you see the person you’re buying for. What’s not to love about that? Plus there’s a magazine for everyone out there – I’m a particular fan of Simple Things, The Week and delicious.

So there we go, my last-minute gift suggestions. I hope you find them helpful! Happy shopping!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #99

Merry Friday everyone! How are we all this week? I for one am totally ready for the weekend to begin. I’ve had a lovely week, but because it’s been my last full week in the office, and other people’s last week, it’s been super busy. I feel like I haven’t stopped at all. But it’s also been sprinkled with all the fun things too. So without further ado, let’s move onto my favourite things this week.

This past weekend was a really relaxed one and it was just what I needed. After trips to Paris, Manchester and Hamburg over the last few weeks it was lovely to have a free weekend, with no plans. It really is one of my favourite things.

favourite-things-decorations

I made the most of my quiet weekend by decorating my house for Christmas. And man, on man, does it look and feel so festive now. We’ve got all the lights and so many colourful decorations and I am totally on board with this. Can we keep them up forever please? I mean apart from the fact that my trees (yes, I have two) are real and will therefore wither and die eventually.

Also it snowed on Sunday! Hooray. Yes it means I missed my Sunday run, which I was actually looking forward to, but I’m not silly and I wasn’t going to run while it was SNOWING! Unfortunately the snow didn’t settle, but it was still lovely to see the flakes falling from the sky.

A post shared by Fi Evans (@fievans) on

On Wednesday night I caught up with some lovely publishing buddies over cocktails at The Booking Office at St Pancras station. It’s a fabulous bar and restaurant situated in the old ticket hall of the station, with leather chairs and bar stools and delicious cocktails. At the moment they’ve got Harry Potter inspired cocktails which are a little quirky and fun.

Next up on the favourite things lists is a quiet evening in. With a couple of busy nights this week it was really lovely to have a night in earlier in the week to get things done. Plus it was an opportunity to eat pizza! I made, and froze, some pizza bases at the weekend so we topped them with all the leftovers in the fridge (bacon, mozzarella and veg) and took the opportunity to catch up on some TV. I’m obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy at the moment, is anyone else a fan?

I’m currently rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and I seem to be constantly surprised by what I’m reading. It’s been awhile since I read book five of Potter and it would appear that I’d forgotten some excellent scenes in the book. This morning on my commute I was reading about Ron turning the staircase to the girl’s dormitory into a stone slide and I may have giggled!

favourite-things-lights

Also this week I finally feel like I’ve gotten further ahead on my Christmas shopping. Okay, it was a manic Thursday lunchtime that brought this on, but actually once I stopped and thought about what I needed to get it was actually very productive and I’m feeling a little more relaxed. Phew. I even bought something for the Lunabean that I know she’ll love. Yes the dog gets presents, and no that doesn’t make me crazy!

The final point in this favourite things post is of course festive themed! Over the weekend I finally watched my favourite Christmas film – Arthur Christmas. I love it so much! It was the perfect film to watch on Sunday when the snow was falling outside.

What has made your favourite things list this week? And are you all prepared for Christmas?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Favourite Online Reads

Greetings team! How are you all today? I’m feeling optimistic and hopeful of getting all the things done today ahead of a long overdue Christmas catch-up over cocktails. Yeah for festive fun! Today I thought I’d share some of my favourite recent online reads – from other blogs, via twitter and various websites as I always find those posts so useful from other people. So I hope you find something interesting in this post for you!

Life Rambles - Favourite Online Reads - This and That Blog

Favourite Online Reads: The Articles

I stumbled across a post about how to have a productive brainstorming session the other day and I found the article so useful. Mainly for my day job, rather than general life, so if you’re in marketing definitely give this a quick read. I like the idea of breaking and building ideas, which is a similar idea to something else I heard recently of reframing an idea and considering it from another angle. Definitely a useful skill for brainstorming.

Less of an article and more of an image, but the image titled ‘optimism’ on Cup of Jo right now speaks to me on a deep level. I love it. I think it’s the recipe and new planner points that are talking to me the most right now!

Is anyone else incredibly pleased at TIME Magazine’s choice for person of the year? I think the silence breakers was the best choice, and sends a much-needed message to many of the idiots out there that just don’t get it. Well done TIME.

Favourite Online Reads: The Blogs

Rosie’s recent post, Reading, Listening, watching – November, has given me some really good ideas of what to get obsessed with next on Netflix. It’s also reminded me that I really need to check out Audible. I’m sure I’ll be obsessed if I give it a try.

Rebecca’s latest post has reminded me of the wonderful gifts you can find on Etsy, which is just perfect as I’ve still got a fair few presents to purchase. Head on over to her Christmas // Finding Unique Gifts post to see some lovely things you’ll want to buy. I am seriously considering putting the wall calendar on my own list. It’s so cute.

I agreed so much with Jasmin’s latest post about the best ways to grow your twitter following, not only do she have good tips but she’s also talking such sense. I realised, while reading, that I’m a culprit when it comes to some of the ‘don’t do’ things on her list. For example I definitely must do better in engaging rather than just broadcasting. A very valid point!

Along a similar vein is Jaye’s post about re-sparking creativity when you’re feeling flat, which I think could work across a lot of different areas of life – be it blogging, work, life admin. So why not give one or two ago?

And finally, ending on a festive note, I’ve taken note of the five things on Katie’s festive London list and will be trying to fit as many in before heading home to the parents’ for Christmas. Who doesn’t want to experience all the delights of London at Christmas – like rooftop bars and twinkly lights aplenty?

Favourite Online Reads: From the Twittersphere, Instagram and YouTube

The below tweet from @martischodt made my day the other week – it’s basically my thought process when it comes to dresses. So funny!

What do we want?

DRESSES WITH POCKETS!

How do we want them?

FILLED WITH SNACKS!

What kind of snacks?

PREFERABLY A REFRESHING MIX OF SALTY AND SWEET BUT WE’RE NOT TOO PICKY FOCUS ON THE POCKETS

Something else I saw on twitter last week, which I think is worth remembering was a note about drinking at Christmas. About how you shouldn’t pressure someone who doesn’t drink to join in when you are. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. I’m not a big drinker and will probably only have one or two drinks over the entire two-week Christmas period, including my work Christmas parties. It’s just not something that’s a big part of my christmas as I don’t like a lot of alcohols and I really shouldn’t have to justify thins multiple times at each event/meal/party. It’s just so annoying and unnecessary and that’s as someone who doesn’t like it, imagine how much harder you’d find it if was for other more complex reasons?

And finally, rounding out the favourite online reads list is Kelly Clarkson’s Carpool Karaoke, which is currently up on YouTube. I think she’s such a brilliant artist and a great role model. And this video really reminds me how astonishingly good her voice is, and also how funny she it. I love her.

-Fi x

Life Rambles: Stress Free December

Stress-Free-December

It’s a well known fact around here that I like to take a weekend each month to do nothing. I’ve found that taking those two days and allowing myself moments to do nothing really help. It means an opportunity for a lie-in or time for a run and then there’s the option to be spontaneous. But in December that thinking seems to disappear out the window. I always seem to be so busy in December, why is that? It is filled will all the events; Christmas parties, work Christmas lunches, meet ups with friends, Christmas drinks and then the main event itself. Never mind New Year plans, present buying, the wrapping and the organising that comes hand-in-hand with the festivities. Talk about stressful! Anyway, I know that I want a stress free December so I’ve made a plan of how to stay clam and relaxed and enjoy the festive period that we are about to embark on.

Baking Festive Treats

Baking is like therapy for me. All of the mixing and kneading and taking random ingredients and turning them into a tasty treat is, for me, a calming experience. For Christmas I’m planning to bake mince pies, gingerbread, some melted snowman biscuits and perhaps some chocolate bark. I’m also contemplating some edible presents – although I better make a definite decision on that soon….

Say No

One thing that I know will allow me to have a stress free December is saying no to people. I’m going to say no to some events because If I’m going to see people at another time then I don’t NEED to see them the other two times as well. I’m learning that I can’t do everything, and that is totally okay.

Organise a Film Night

Is there anything more relaxing that a film night? I think not. A night of Netflix or Christmas films with a backdrop of twinkly fairy lights and Christmas themed snacks is guaranteed to create a stress free December. In fact on Sunday, with the snow falling, it was the perfect opportunity to make the most of doing nothing. So I snuggled under a blanket and watched my favourite Christmas film; Arthur Christmas. I honestly think I reached peak relaxation!

Christmas Reading

I’m a bookworm so of course I would need to add reading onto the ‘how to have a stress free December’ list. But at this time of year why not make it a festive book? From Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas series or a festive crime tale from Agatha Christie – Hercule Poirot’s Christmas or even a classic like The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol. Whatever you choose I can guarantee that a couple of hours with a good book and a mug of something warm will chase away any stress that this year could bring. 

Have a Games Night

Dig out Trivial Pursuit, Bananagrams, The Logo Game, Articulate or just a pack of playing cards and have a games night. As an Evans, a games night is always on the agenda. A couple of hours of competitive fun and endless bouts of laughter is exactly what is needed. Especially when it includes a handful of your favourite people, a vat of mulled wine and a box of mince pies.

Winter Walks

When I’m at home with my parents we go on at least one walk a day. Even before the dog we did this, I think it was a way to balance out all the festive food! Anyway there’s something about a long meandering walk through nature that really blows the cobwebs away and clears your head. Also it’s impossible to be stressed when you’re surrounded by trees and followed by a bounding puppy!

So there we have it the little ways that I am going to have a stress free December. Honestly it’s already working. I’ve had the most relaxing weekend and I feel suitably refreshed ready for the busy week ahead! What gets you through this festive time of year?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #98

First off, sorry that this Friday favourites post is a day late. Oops! In my defense I’ve had to fit five days of work into four and, of course, I’ve been ill. So yeah life’s been fairly full on recently. But anyway, there’s certainly been good stuff sprinkled in there too so let us focus on that.

And with that let’s start with number one of today’s Friday favourites post, a festive trip to Hamburg. Yep that has to be top of the list as, quite frankly, I had the most incredible weekend. Visiting a German Christmas market has been on my bucket list for the longest time and it was everything I’d expected. The markets were the most incredible ever – with amazing stalls, delicious food and the most incredible Christmas decorations on sale.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

On the subject of food, let’s make this number two on the list, it was all delicious. We ate an amazing amount, basically stopping everything five minutes for some new snack! As a result I think I managed to tick everything off my ‘must-eat’ list. Like hot chocolate, mini pancakes smothered in Nutella obvs, fries, all the Bratwurst and crepes. Basically all the festive food.  Yummy

Also making it on to the Friday favourites list is visiting Hamburg’s most famous tourist attraction – the Miniatur Wunderland. An incredibly detailed mini world spread over three floors of an old warehouse, which includes a replica of Hamburg airport, Las Vegas and great swathes of Europe. It sounds really odd and weird, but in fact it’s incredible. The attention to detail is astonishing with planes taking off, working ferris wheels and trains winding through all the different countries and towns. It’s amazing. Definitely worth a visit.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Also cheering me up this week? All the festive things. Today we put up our Christmas decorations and things are looking beautiful in the house. We’ve gone slightly wild with two trees and lots of fairy lights but it’s the best time of year so it’s certainly worth it! Next on the festive list is finishing all my present shopping – I’ve still got a way to go sadly. Someone send me some motivation to finish it, pretty please!

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

I treated myself to Leon’s Festive Wrap and can I just say, it’s the best thing EVER. If you’ve not had it yet you really must try it. It’s stuffing, cranberry and turkey wrapped up in the yummiest wrap and it’s possibly better than an M&S Festive sandwich. Yes, really!

In other festive news it was my work Christmas party, which was held at The Apartment at The Hoxton Hotel. And the venue was just perfect with a room for karaoke and beer pong, plus space for dancing, standing around chatting, comfy sofas and delicious food. Definitely worth a visit if you can make it!

While I’ve been feeling really rubbish this week, it has meant that I’ve allowed myself to snuggle up on the sofa and have a quiet night once or twice this week. It’s been just what I needed. Sometimes I forget how necessary doing nothing really is. Especially when it’s all so busy on the lead up to Christmas. It’s almost essential if you ask me.

Talking of essential things, getting to spend a whole weekend with my faves – the sisterlings. There really is no one better than these two for nattering, exploring and eating all the food you can find. They’re just the best company around.

Friday Favourites - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

Finally, rounding off the Friday favourites list this week is the fact that there’s a new little baby in the family as of this week. Yippee! One of my cousins in Australia celebrated the arrival of their second little boy this week and he’s super-cute. I can’t wait to meet him, hopefully next year. Aren’t new babies just the cutest?

So, how’s your week been? What’s at the top of your favourites list?

-Fi

The Book Corner: November Reading Update

Greetings team, and how are you this lovely Wednesday morning? Sorry we’ve been a bit AWOL over the last few days, life’s just been busy and our planning has not been quite up to scratch. Clearly I should have followed my own advice and been a bit more productive. Obviously I’m a work in progress! Anyway, let’s get right onto today’s post – a bookish update for you all. Read on to for my November reading update, which is chock full of brilliant books.

November Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Amazingly I’ve never read this book, crazy right! But with the most recent film adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh I decided it was time to give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s Christie at her best, as she weaves an intriguing tale of murder, suspicion, secrets and danger. I love the character of Poirot and find the way he solves a crime fascinating. Needless to say I never manage to keep up with him. I much preferred the book to the film as the film had unnecessary changes, like a chase through the snow. *eye roll* How ridiculous!

The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders

This is a tale of a young girl, and her family, dealing with their grief at the loss of her older sister. It uses the idea of cuddly toys that live in another world, with the child that’s no longer here, to explore grief. And while it’s a lovely book with beautiful moments I found it a bit lacking in editing. It just felt like it was 200 pages too long and there was lots of information and sections that either didn’t add anything or make sense to the rest of the story. So yeah, not a huge fan of this book if I’m honest. Which is sad as I normally love Kate Saunders’ writing and I liked the idea of the book on paper. Just not in reality.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

I’m about two years late to read The Lie Tree, one of only two (I think) children’s books to win the overall Costa Prize. So you could say I expected a lot with this book. Thankfully it did not disappoint. It was excellent and is beautifully written. The story of a young girl trying to please her mother and make her father notice her in a world which prides itself on dutiful daughters. Rather than a girl who loves science, exploring and doing her own thing. The main character, Faith, is wonderfully written and you feel like you know her inside out by the end of the book. Story wise this is a brilliant read – I was hooked from page one. Basically you need to read it!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I had no idea what this book was about, only that everyone I knew who’d read it, adored it. And they were so right, it’s a great book. It follows Eleanor who sticks to the exact same routine week after week; with no deviation from it and no interaction with people other than with her work colleagues when she absolutely has to, or with the man who runs her local shop. Eleanor’s completely fine with this and sees no need to change. And then she helps a stranger who has a fall in front of her and slowly she beings to change how she lives her life – with a little persuading by Ralph, a new work colleague.

As Eleanor makes small changes to her way of life she starts to question events from her childhood that she’s tried to ignore and never properly considered or remembered. Can she survive what’s revealed? Basically Eleanor is the most wonderfully realised character I’ve read in a long time. She’s fully formed on the page and you can’t help but root for her as everything starts to happen in her life. It’s in parts a devastating book to read, but overall you finish it feeling warmed to the soul and hopeful about what the future means for Eleanor. I could not recommend Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine enough.

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

When I opened a surprise parcel from an ex work colleague and discovered a signed copy of book three in the incredible Rebel of the Sands trilogy I may have squealed with delight. That’s how much I needed to read Hero at the Fall. I finished book two back in the summer (you can read my thoughts on that one in my September book update) and since then have been really curious to see what’s going to happen at the end. I was not disappointed. While I felt it was a little long in sections and could have been edited a little more it was still an engrossing read and full of all the things I expect in this series – surprise deaths, unsung heroes, heroic acts, friendship, love and epic battle scenes. Definitely a good ending to an epic series.

Bring Me Back by B A Paris

This is the third of B A Paris’ twisty thrillers and all three books have had me hooked from chapter one. This one was perhaps my least favourite of the three. However I’d still recommend it if you love page-turning reads that keep you guessing page after page. The premise is that Finn’s girlfriend went missing 12 years ago and has never been found. He’s moved on with his life and is all set to marry her sister. But then mysterious things start to happen which make Finn question whether she’s really gone or not… So yes, Bring Me Back is another gripping read from B A Paris but not as good as her other books!

So there we go, those are the six brilliant books that made up my November reading. Have you read any of these books, what did you think of them?

– Fi x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #97

It’s a Friday and therefore time for me to share my highlights from the past seven days. I feel like the last one of these I wrote was ages ago and so much has happened in that time. But then I guess two weeks is 14 days and a girl can do a lot of stuff in 14 days! I’ve also just realised that today is the first of December – WHAT! I mean how did we get here? But also hooray for all the festive things that are almost upon us. Also judging by the speed that 2017 is flying by the 25th is going to be here in no time at all! But before we all panic about just how much needs to be done before that date let’s focus on my past week and the little things that made my week.

<>  First up on the list has to be Manchester. I had a wonderful time exploring the city and catching up with my fabulous friends. Someone said to me earlier this week that good friend were hard to find. And that’s absolutely true. Well I’ve found mine and I’m not letting them go.

<> Also on the same Manchester note I had a great time exploring the Northern Quarter. It’s not somewhere I’ve really been before, even though Fi was at uni in the city and I visited quite a lot. Well now I’m a big fan, and am already itching to get back there and explore it further.

Highlights-Manchester

<> Next on the highlights list is all the food! I made a truly scrummy and super easy pasta dish on Monday night. Pasta, salmon, courgette, spinach and tomatoes smothered in pesto. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before, but it’s definitely going to become a staple. Another dinner highlight was a bit of a using up all the food situation with a big pan of potatoes, ham, all the veg and eggs to make a breakfast scramble type thing which is definitely an old favourite.

<> What else is there to talk about this week? I must have more highlights!! Oh yes I must include last night’s trip back to Horsley for some arts and crafting fun. My Mum organised a trip to her local ceramics cafe which included champagne and pizza and painting and it was a great night. Going somewhere like this always reminds me how much I enjoy getting creative. I really should do it more often. Maybe that’s a resolution for the new year…

<> Oh yes, because of the trip out to the countryside I had puppy cuddles last night/this morning. Gosh I’ve missed that crazy bean. Also today marks the two year anniversary of the parental units rescuing that teeny tiny puppy and giving her a home. I know having a puppy in our lives has been the best thing ever – but I hope it’s been good for her too. From the looks of the below and her Instagram hashtag #lunaevanspup I think it just might be. The image on the left is her on day one and image on the right is her a couple of weeks ago. Doesn’t she look far less worried and much happier, or am I imagining it?

Highlights-Luna-pup

<> I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for approximately the 576th time and it’s still wonderful. If a little long.

<> My heating is now on for an hour in the morning, as well as the three hours at night. It feels quite decadent to wake up warm and toasty, although it takes getting out of bed incredibly hard!

<> This week I’ve discovered The Guilty Feminist podcast and I’m obsessed! I mean I knew this existed before now but for one reason or another I hadn’t actually listened to an episode. But before my Manchester weekend I had a brief moment of prepping for the train journey and downloaded three episodes, and now I’m hooked. I found myself nodding along with so many of the points, and it’s also absolutely hysterical. It reminds me a little of The Last Leg, except, in podcast form and with women included! 

So there we have them my weekly highlights. It’s been a rather good one I would say. How has your last week of November been? And more importantly do you have your Christmas tree up yet? I’m trying to figure out when mine should go up…

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Winter Bucket List

Winter Bucket List - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

So it’s officially Winter tomorrow (side note: how did that happen?!). And as such it’s time to think about all the things I want to do, sights I want to see and experiences I want to have during the coldest season. I love doing these sorts of posts ahead of a new season, not least because it reminds me of why I love each one. Invariably I end up deciding that this upcoming season is actually my favourite, not the one we’ve just had. so let’s see if my Winter bucket list has me exclaiming the same thing this time…

Winter Bucket List

<> Pick up mulled wine and wander the Southbank Christmas markets, stopping only for a Nutella crepe

<> Go scrunching through the icy leaves as the sun sets and the dog frolics

<> Get organised for the new year. Ensure I’m prepared and know what I’m hoping to achieve at the start of the year

<> Spend a day snuggled under duvets on the sofa watching Disney films and Harry Potter

<> Get up early and run through the frosty streets as the sun rises

<> Go ice skating all bundled up in scarves and hats

<> Make my own gingerbread, sticky ginger cake and mulled wine mix

<> Plan some 2018 travels. 2018 has to be the year when I spread out my trips. I’m aiming for a few weekends away, starting with one in February

<> Explore all the London Christmas lights and focus on enjoying them, not taking pictures of them

<> Make the most of the time between Christmas and New Year for nights of board games with the family

<> Have a good old spring clean ahead of a new year

<> Spend time with my favourites with trips to the pub and catch ups over gin

<> Give Vegan January a whirl

So there we have it, my winter bucket list. What do you think, have I missed something really obvious? What are your winter plans?

-Fi x

 

 

Out and About: A Weekend in Paris

I think it’s quite obvious that I couldn’t go to Paris without writing at least one blog post about it. I mean I like to travel, and I like to write. And I like that this blog is somewhat of a travel journal for me. Alongside my instagram account obviously! So sharing our Paris trip on here was bound to happen. So without further ado, here’s what we did with our weekend in Paris.

I should start by saying that this is the perfect weekend in Paris if you’ve done the main attractions before. If you haven’t and you are planning to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum, or make your way up the Eiffel Tower then this post isn’t for you. Or it is but you’ll need a little longer at each location to complete this list. You can also check out previous Paris posts here; Visiting the Arc de Triomphe and Paris on a Budget.

<> First up book a late night Friday Eurostar train. We got the last train from London, which at 20:01 arrives at Gare Du Nord at 23:17. If you stay near the station, in Montmarte, then you’ve got a quick 10 minute taxi ride to your accommodation. Easy. The 8pm train also leaves plenty of time to get to St Pancras from elsewhere in London (or the suburbs) so you can visit the Searcy’s Champagne Bar and stock up on M&S food for a train picnic dinner. What a way to start the trip, am I right?

<> On Saturday morning start your day with a local breakfast of fresh coffee and pastries. There are plenty of breakfast places throughout Paris that serving a very filling petit dejeuner. Or do what we did and walk to your local bakery and feast on croissants in your apartment.

Paris-Autumn

<> Next head to the river. The metro is super easy in Paris and you can get a 24 or 48 hour ticket for each of the zones, which lets you take as many journeys as you want during that time frame. We opted for the zone 1-3, 48 hour ticket which was less than €20. And so totally worth it. We headed straight to Chatelet metro stop and then walked along the river, crossing at the Pont Neuf onto Île de la Cité (Île de la Cité is one of two islands in the middle of the River Seine).

<> Once on Île de la Cité wander around the island and passed Notre Dame Cathedral. This cathedral is stunning. The gargoyles and flying buttresses are beautifully carved and the stained glass windows are beautiful. From Notre Dame cross to the other side of the river (the opposite of where you came from) and explore the quaint lanes, small shops and eateries of the neighbourhood. Shakespeare & Co. bookshop is in this part of the city, so stop here if you want to peruse for books.

Paris-Notre-Dame

<> Stop for coffee or an early lunch around here, or have a brief sit in the nearby park or squares and churchyards dotted around the area. We found Odette’s which had delicious coffee and tasty choux buns. And if you can manage the walk up the tiny staircase to the next floor there’s a fantastic table in the window with stunning views across to Notre Dame.

<> Once you’ve refuelled head back along the river to the Pont des Arts and cross back over the Seine to the Musee du Louvre. The buildings of the Louvre are stunning. You’ve got the classic grand buildings of Paris, but in the courtyard is the glass and iron of the pyramid. The pairing makes for a striking contrast and is a big tourist trap. You can’t help but spend some time here, just staring in wonder. Next to the Musee du Louvre is the Palais Royal which has a fabulous art installation by Daniel Buren in the building’s courtyard. They look like sticks of rock coming out of the ground.

<> From the Louvre and the Palais Royal it’s only a quick stroll to the Jardin du Tuileries which in Autumn looks absolutely stunning. In any city a stroll through the park is always a must. There’s something relaxing about being in the greenery, with the busy roads and tall buildings out of your sight line – it’s tranquil. These gardens are landscaped with lots of chairs dotted around, so if you want to stop and have a rest and people watch then this is the place for you.

<> After the park we jumped back onto the metro and headed back to Montmarte for the afternoon. We explored the roads around the area before heading to the Sacre Coeur. Perched on the top of a hill, it’s quite a climb up steps to get to this church. There is a funicular that you can get on which gets you up there in no time at all. By the way if you have the travel card then it covers the funicular. The view from the Sacre Couer is absolutely stunning.  We visited on a wet and rainy day, but we were still able to see Paris stretched out in front of us.

<> If you’re staying in Montmarte now is a perfect opportunity to wander back to you hotel or apartment and have a rest and recharge the batteries. We did exactly that, before heading back out for dinner. A friend living in the Paris suggested a lovely restaurant near our apartment. So we headed there and feasted on steak and wine.

Paris-Montmarte

<> After dinner and drinks I highly recommend heading back into Paris to the Place du Trocadero. This is probably the ultimate touristic way to spend your Saturday night. But it’s also pretty unforgettable. From the Place du Trocadero you get an epic view of the Eiffel Tower all lit up in the dark. It’s a stunning sight, especially on each hour where the lights give a little show to everyone watching. Even if you’re not there bang on the hour the visual effect of the giant tower lit up against the dark sky is still a stunning site. Plus a post dinner crepe is a pretty fab way to end the evening! If your spending a weekend in Paris then I think it’s a must do.

<> For us day two was a lot calmer. We started our day at a local cafe for breakfast and chatted away about our trip so far and plans for the rest of the day. From there we dropped our bags at a left luggage shop before heading back into the city for a final wander.

<> We visited Galleries Lafayette and exclaimed over the Christmas windows in all their intricate details. They also have a giant gold hot air balloon filled with toys inside the shop – it sounds a little odd now I type this, but actually it was quite mesmerizing with the music and the almost choreographed movement. This giant department store also has a roof terrace which once again offers stunning panoramas of the city rooftops.

<> The rest of our last morning was filled with more shopping and coffee stops. Plus we just HAD to stop at Laudree for macarons. The selection is unbelievable and the rows and rows of colours just look so pretty! Let me tell you this, eating macarons on the Eurostar back to London made me feel pretty happy.

Phew, when you write it all down, it seems like a super busy weekend in Paris. No wonder my feet were in pain on my return! I had such a lovely trip though. I really want to make sure I have more of these long weekends in European cities next year. Now I know I’ve done Salzburg already this year and that I have Hamburg planned for this weekend but hopefully 2018 can be a year of four European city breaks. Obviously I’m hoping that one of these can be an Evans girls trip. Tell me, what are your favourite European cities, where should we visit next? And have you ever spent a weekend in Paris, or do you have plans to?

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #96

Morning team, and how are you all? I’m sat on the sofa tapping away before I head off to Manchester for the weekend. It’s Friend-mass weekend and I’m so excited to get celebrating and to catch up with the besties. Hooray! So that’s definitely top of the list on today’s Friday favourites post.

<>Number two on the list – also Christmas related – all the glorious decorations currently popping up in London. They’re just all so beautiful. There’s just something about the twinkly Christmas lights that fills me with joy. I need to do a proper tour of London to see them all, but heading to The Southbank this week was certainly a good place to start. So pretty.

Friday Favourites #96 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

<> In keeping with the Christmas theme that I’ve started with let’s discuss the glorious Southbank Christmas market. It’s back and the pop up drink hut is there with all its lovely seats around fires and armchairs and sofas. Basically it’s the perfect place to sit and gossip away with the besties.

<> Also this week, and making it on to the favourites list, we have more long overdue catch ups – that seems to be a standard on this list every week. But I have good people in my life so that should always be celebrated!

<> This week I devoured the brilliant Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and loved every page. It’s such a good read, and gorgeous too – look at those sparkles. I highly recommend you add it to your TBR pile and get reading. The character of Eleanor is just beautifully written and she’s so wonderful, you really do root for her from page one. And the way the secrets are revealed is just perfect. READ IT!

Friday Favourites #96 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

<> While I do love a good catch up, sometimes a night on the sofa recharging and watching random TV shows is the one. So Wednesday night’s activities of The Good Place, pasta and Lau were just what I needed. Isn’t it awesome to have good people that you can sit on the sofa with and barely talk too and no one takes it personally?

<> Talking of The Good Place have you watched it yet? We’ve just finished series one and OH MY. I did not see that twist coming. So so good. You must watch it!

<> Guys, don’t hate me, but I’ve done over half of my Christmas shopping and the wrapping and I’m so proud of myself! Granted I had no choice as I need to deliver a lot of them this weekend but still, go me! Not only is it good to be that organised, but I totally adored the choosing process. and of course the wrapping – who doesn’t love using all the festive accouterments on the presents?

So there we go, lots of happy things making it on to the favourites list. What would make it on to yours this week?

-Fi x

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