Friday, 24 December 2010

All Is Calm...

All Is Bright...

Well, here at Ragged Roses HQ, we've reached the point, at long last, where Christmas can begin. The run-up has been fraught with lack of hot water, lack of heating, flu, coughs, splutterings and general inertia...

but now, I can safely say (with my fingers crossed), that the pressies have been bought, almost all wrapped, food is in fridge, carrot ready for Rudolph (but alas no mince pie), fires stocked with logs, shelves stacked with chocolate, grins gradually broadening and the house almost, but not quite, tidy and we're ready and oh so excited ...

Let the Festive Orchestra begin, the curtains rise and the wonder of Christmas commence....

Wishing you all a wonderfully Happy, Peaceful and Memory filled Christmas
See you on the other side!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Baby it's cold outside....

Brrrrrrrrr it's cold! Even colder here at the moment since the boiler has taken it upon itself to break down. So here i am typing away frantically trying to move my fingers in an effort to generate some heat. It seems that more snow is on its way too...
A White Christmas would be lovely but I really hope that I get a chance to go into town beforehand to get some much needed Christmas shopping done. To say I have been in denial over the whole Christmas business this year is somewhat of an understatement....

Over in The Emporium, we have been geared up for Christmas since Santa came and opened our Grotto weeks ago. Snow has very kindly settled on the rooftop and snowflakes are settling on the windowpanes of the various departments. There's even a robin happily chirping away next to the chimney top (best make sure Dottie and I don't light too many fires in the stockroom!). This is our second Christmas at the Emporium -where has the time gone? We have been fortunate enough to have been featured in Homes and Antiques and have had so much fun filling the shelves with festive finds.

If, like me, the thought of all those crowds in town, leaves you cold (pardon the pun) or you're simply at home waiting for the boiler man, please pop over to say hello to us in the Stockroom, we've added mince pies to the custard cream tin too. There's something for everyone from dear Auntie Ada to fussy Cousin Cecil.

We have ripping yarns in the Library, sewing yarns in the Sewing Room, dear little bears in the Nursery, or dear little deer in the Grotto. Bohemian glass in the boudoir or Butterfly Blues in the Dovecote..not to mention the odd fairy or two to add to the magic...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

We're Strictly Tourist...

Well you can't visit Paris without a trip to the old Eiffel Tower can you? After 24 hours roaming the streets of Paris, despite all of the surrounding frenchiness, Little Sister still insisted it didn't feel like Paris because she hadn't seen the Eiffel Tower close up. So our day was planned around her wishes.

After a yummy breakfast at the hotel we strolled along the Seine over to the Right Bank and wandered around the very pretty old streets of the Marais district.

Big Sister wanted to visit a couple of vintage shops that she'd heard about and who was I to say no! Vintage fix fulfilled we headed for the Jewish Quarter, queued in the fastest moving most efficient queue ever for the best falafel in town. Gosh they were delicious.

We stopped at a Jewish baker's for some apple strudel and really loved the jostle and history of the area. If you haven't been it really is worth the visit. I wondered what it must have been like in this area during the war... there were many plaques on walls and we sat beneath the walls of an old Jewish school and read about the tragic fate of many of its pupils.
Tummies full of falafel and strudel we headed for the Rue de Rivoli for some window shopping.

Along and along and along we strolled, past the Louvre to the tearooms that I wanted to show the girls

- Angelina's tea rooms, a favourite haunt of Chanel in her heyday. We stood noses pressed at the windows and savoured the rows and rows of delicacies, each a work of art, the glistening marble worktops, the sparkling chandeliers and the very chic Parisiens taking their tea...

This whetted our appetites for a spot of Chanel hunting so we went along to the Place Vendome to take a peep... none of us finding the courage to enter of course - our woolly berets and scarves didn't seem to quite cut the mustard. Still it was good to daydream...

By this time (a full six hours of walking) our legs needed a rest. How lovely the Jardins de Tuileries are. Having only visited them before in the summer i was so surprised and delighted to see them in their Autumn glory. It was very easy to imagine the area centuries ago, an Impressionist painting come to life. We sat for a while and decided to stroll around the fountain ... but my what was this

This beautiful lady had to avert her eyes...

But he was not the only one,,,

They were all at it....

A hasty retreat and several laughing fits later saw us at the bottom of the Champs Elysee looking up towards the Arc De Triomphe. Never have I seen such traffic and yes, of course, Mr Roses, decided to stand in the middle of it all to take yet another of his 100s of photos of the Arc...

We were truly weary by this point but there to our left on the horizon was the Tower, enticing and calling us. Further and further we walked and larger and larger it loomed.

It is a beautiful thing, I think I appreciated it beauty much much more this time around. Surrounded by the autumn shades of the trees, it just is magnificent. We posed and took photos and posed some more... for Little Sister it truly felt like our Parisian adventure had begun.

Too tired to walk back to the hotel we decided to take a batobus along the Seine towards Notre Dame. Never have my feet felt so relieved and it was lovely to see the sights from the comfort and beauty of the river.

I think, or would like to think, that the sun was just waiting for us to arrive at Notre Dame before it set, for there in a matter of seconds the whole cathedral was bathed in the most glorious golden light of early evening.
More strolling around in the evening followed, a lovely meal in a wonderful little bistro next to the Pantheon that made us feel like we were at home and a last evening walk around the beautiful Latin Quarter. Incredibly, it was so mild and we were so lucky, that we were able to stroll around without our coats eating beautiful flower shaped ice creams, it doesn't get much better.

Paris may well be the most romantic city of all, but trust me, after a day of walking there is NOTHING better than to slip on your PJs, run lukewarm water into the tiniest bath in the world, nab a corner of the bath to sit on with your daughters and to dip those aching feet ...

The next day the rain cleared whilst we were having breakfast,

we reluctantly said farewell to our lovely hotel and headed

north to Montmartre. We arrived in brilliant sunlight,

the crowds thronged,

the sites were as beautiful as ever and it may remind you of every postcard

(The shop in Amelie)

you've ever seen but there is something oh so special about this little village on the hill.

The old alleyways, the plaques everywhere that remind you of its history, the climb up to the top of Sacre Coeur, the breathtaking views of the city and finding the time to sit on some steps to take it all in.

And believe me, there was an awful lot to take in!

PS - for those of you who asked here is the link to the

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Bonjour Paris!

I still can't believe that it is 23 years since I was last in Paris with a young Mr Roses on a very romantic weekend break. It feels like yesterday...
Fast forward 23 years, two daughters and five cats later, and we're back in one of my favourite cities. Never ones to rush into things, we certainly took our time about returning but it was so worth the wait.

Our last visit was pure indulgence - young and child-free we roamed the streets and river bank till late in the night. This time with the girls in tow we decided to let them choose. Anticipating a very different stay in Paris, we were surprised to find that once again our days were full of walking - walking here, there and everywhere, from early in the morning till late at night. And the four of us found it just as romantic as ever.
As we were only there for three days, we knew we had to cram in as much as possible and as much as little legs could manage. So, grab a cuppa, put on your comfiest walking shoes and join us...

We decided to stay once more in the Latin Quarter, our favourite quartier in Paris. Just a few streets away from where we stayed all those years ago, yes, you see, we are creatures of habit. The wonderful thing about Paris, and there are many wonderful things, is that you never know what is going on behind those doors, doors leading onto courtyards, gardens, wonderful centuries old apartments, giving no hints of the secrets they hold.

We had of course seen photos of our hotel before arriving but were rather apprehensive when we saw the closed doors on the rather nondescript street. Well, we needn't have worried - open the doors and we were transported to provincial France, we could have been anywhere.

Cobblestones leading us into a pretty hidden courtyard, pink washed buildings with shutter framed windows on all sides and the autumn coloured leaves framing our view.

It was perfect! Our bedroom turned out to be very French, so glad we did not have to much of the vin while we were there as we would have experienced serious difficulties distinguishing the soft furnishings from the wardrobe!

A view out on to shuttered rooms,

the house where Ernest Hemmingway lived opposite and the one where James joyce finished writing Ulysses just a couple of doors away. We were truly steeped in Parisian history and we hadn't even left the building!

So, less than two hours after stepping off Eurostar we began our Grand Tour. Through the gorgeous, gorgeous streets of the Latin Quarter we skipped, marvelling at the beauty that was everywhere.

Spotting as many Metro signs as we could. Grinning as we watched the very stylish Parisians going about their business, speaking their beautiful language.

The girls wanted to see Notre Dame so we made for the river.

I really wanted to see the Seine above everything else. For me, you don't really feel like you've done Paris until you've walked along the riverbank.

Well Notre Dame wove its magic, a truly spectacular building. Looking even more beautiful on this sun kissed autumn afternoon. We walked down to the River Seine and strolled along the banks, I know people tell you about visiting Paris in the spring, well I've been in the spring and in the summer but Paris in the autumn is gorgeous! Really gorgeous!
Because our youngest daughter had never been before, everything was special and this made it special for us too. Slowly she lost her shyness and the new french words she was learning at school began to flow.

We headed along the river to the Musee D'Orsay to see some paintings, making use of the late night closing on Thursdays.

.Aware that we wouldn't have the time to see them all, we headed for the Van Gogh, Renoir and post impressionist paintings. I was surprised at just how moved we all were to see the Van Gogh paintings, they were truly stunning.
We headed back along the river towards the hotel and literally collapsed on our beds! We needed food and we needed it fast!

After eating at a lovely little restaurant near Notre Dame we went back towards the river and fell in love! If you ever get to Paris please go to this bookshop = Shakespeare and Company.

It is steeped in history and possibly one of the most romantic shops I have ever visited.

Mr Roses said that it is probably the easiest place to imagine falling in love, bumping into somebody as you chose a book from the old wooden shelves, chatting, chatting and then going for a stroll along the river...

We tore ourselves away from the old books and managed to squeeze in a walk along the river before bed.

I remembered the last time we'd done this, Mr Roses and I, and told the girls that it had been oh so romantic until I realised that the black dots I'd kept noticing were really rats and I truly scarpered. Not to be put off this time we set off for our moonlit stroll, until Big Sister of course noticed the scurrying in the corners once more turned out to be rats and we legged it as fast as we can back towards the hotel.

We strolled along the Boulevard Saint Germain,

past famous cafes,

did a spot of window shopping and just soaked it all up.

We were of course really tired but oh so excited about being there, and decided to take the girls to see the Pantheon at night. I fell in love with this building even more, lit up like this, it looked so majestic. I can't remember how many times I strolled round and round it.

So we reached our hotel room, our little legs even shorter than when we started and we closed the shutters, shut out the French singsong that was our backdrop and had one of our best sleeps ever... knowing that there were two more days ahead to savour.