Posts Tagged ‘visitor’

Hanging with the Romans

Monday, February 24th, 2014

My first week of self/un – employment was great. This was largely thanks to my friend, Pip, coming to visit which provided me with a great distraction for my lack of work. You may remember Pip from my first year of adventures in Paris. Pip was my shopping/museum/sanity buddy in that crazy city and a fellow Aussie trying to find her place (and preferably passport) in Europe. She has since lived in Dusseldorf and is now in London and a mere two and a half hour train ride from me! Hoorah!

Pip had picked up a guidebook for northern England – a surprisingly thin book that somehow managed to cut half of Manchester city centre off the map (and it isn’t a big city.). However, this handy book suggested Chester as a good place to visit so we booked some bargain tickets on a very slow train.

According to, Chester is one of Europe’s prettiest cities. I would agree, it definitely rates highly on my Prettiness Scale.   It also wins big points for having been established by the Romans over 2000 years ago. It always amazes me how far those Romans managed to get. Very impressive.

Ye olde Chester.

Ye olde Chester.

The main town centre is surrounded by a ye olde wall first built by the Romans and you can walk around the entire city with a fantastic raised view of the river Dee, England’s oldest race course, and into people’s backyards. Then there is the Cathedral which features one of the most peaceful courtyard gardens I have ever stepped foot in. The main city centre features some beautifully preserved medieval half-timbered buildings. There’s something so wonderful about black timber beams criss-crossing over white building exteriors. My camera finger goes snap happy whenever I’m in the presence of such architecture.

Peace and quiet (and a couple of mer-people) in the Cathedral courtyard.

Peace and quiet (and a couple of mer-people) in the Cathedral courtyard.

We somehow managed to score decent weather and the sun shone for most of our day out. It was lovely to be able to wander around outside for an entire day, enjoying new sights, good weather and fun times with friends. I have missed these random adventures and plan on doing it more over the next year. There’s so much to see in this world – this week I am off to another Roman town, York to attend a conference. I don’t think I’ll have much time to explore but it is just nice to get on a train and travel to a new place. I think I would had made a good Roman.

Walking on a wall.

Walking on a wall.

A Visit From Big Brother

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Last week saw the arrival of my older brother, Ben, visiting his little sis before heading to England to learn how to bake at the School of Artisan Food. Despite being siblings, we tend to get along quite well and have quite a few things in common, including a desire to make things. We went on an exploratory tour of Paris’s sewing and knitting shops and discovered a few new gems that I will return to another time to either undertake courses or buy fun things like knitting needles, wool and cross stitch patterns. We also completed two courses – a macaron baking course and a knitting course. Fun fun!

The macaron course was run by La Cuisine which delivers English courses on a variety of cooking topics. The course consisted of around 10 people and was run by Jenni, the woman who also happens to bake the cakes that I eat at my favourite coffee shop, Kooka Boora. The students were split into two teams – the other group made a chocolate ganache macaron, while Ben, Tom, another student and I worked on a salted butter caramel macaron. Despite the class only going for two hours, it was very hands on and it was up to the students to make everything. Jenni provided clear explanation and assistance while the students made mixtures, piped macaron biscuits and heated sugar.

The end results were quite impressive for a first attempt and everyone left with a box full of macarons to take home. While Jenni suggested we sample a macaron in its fresh state, she also suggested we leave the rest in the fridge over night as macarons are best served a day old. She was right – by leaving them to settle the outside shell becomes crisp while the inside softens and becomes chewy.


Salted butter caramel macaron

It was a really fun experience and I want to take some more cooking courses. Soon I might rival my brother in his culinary abilities – it will be France vs England in the battle of the baked goods.

The knitting course Ben and I took was held at Sweat Shop, a local sewing/knitting/craft zone where people go and use sewing machines and learn how to sew. We took a two hour course with a very cool, knitted-sweater-wearing Frenchman called Sebastien who in two hours had taught us how to knit, purl, and knit with two colours. Ben was a bit more advanced than me, having learnt to knit in the past few months, but I managed to progress quite quickly which Sebastien was very happy to see. He showed us some of the other beginner students’ work and they were full of holes and generally useless. Not us. We’re pros. So now I have ordered a bunch of knitting books online and am eager to start a project. I’ll need to find some decent knitting needles but I don’t really know what size to purchase. I will investigate once I have a project to work on. I might knit socks and then turn them into sock creatures. That sounds like a good use of time.

Knitting at Sweat Shop

My knitting is just beginning

If you would like to see some more photos of Paris that actually feature me and you want to see what my brother is up to, check out my brother’s Flickr site and visit his website, abitofbutter.