Sunday, 24 April 2016

Getting older and setting goals

The little man was getting ready for school on Tuesday morning when he spotted this hot air balloon out the window. Much excitement ensued, involving me hurriedly seeking out the zoom lens for the camera and then leaning out the front window (no doubt to the amusement of the neighbours).

He said he wasn't sure he'd like to go in one as he's afraid of heights (I don't think he is really, but his Daddy is, so he thinks he must be too), but I said I'd love to. As the balloon moved across the sky we saw that it had Happy Birthday written on the other side and the little man said I should go in one for mine.

Now this got me thinking. Every other blogger seems to do these 30 before 30, 90 before 90 (!) blog posts and I'm approaching a big birthday. OK, it's still over 2 years away, but for the first time ever I'm really not happy about getting older. 20 was easy, happy to see the back of my teens, 30 wasn't a problem either, but 40.... I remember my Mum's 40th birthday party as if it were yesterday (rather than 28 years ago) and, well this just makes me feel old (sorry Mum!). 

It's a combination of things... I have properly grey hair nowadays (it's coloured), I have permanent lines that aren't shifting (and the idea of Botox is no longer abhorrent to me - give me another 5 years and I'll decide that a facelift is fine too no doubt). I look tired (and therefore older) all of the time. I find it increasingly hard to loose weight. I also feel as if I've achieved absolutely nothing in nearly 38 years. 

So the question is, do I set myself a 40 before 40 and set it now, so I have some hope of achieving it? Would setting myself some concrete goals spur me on or just set me up for failure (and then feeling even worse about it when the dreaded birthday comes along)? 

I have a few ideas along the lines of getting back into exercise (sticking with the new yoga regime but maybe getting back into running and swimming too), finding time to read some books, trying to sort my business out so I can actually afford to pay myself. They all seem to be things I'm constantly working towards anyway but not managing to do, so I'm not sure how putting myself under even more pressure to achieve them is going to help.

I can of course add stuff like the hot air balloon ride, but that sort of thing is all dependent upon having the time and money (and I honestly have no idea whatsoever how much a hot air balloon ride would cost - it may even be so much that I don't consider it to be worth it anyway).

So, I'm going to have a think about it. I don't want to write a list if it's just going to turn into another annoying to do list, when I already have plenty of those. It'll only work if it's full of things I'll look forward to, and I'd probably need more than 2 years to get through that! 

Have you done a 40 before 40 (or 30 before 30 or similar)? Did you think it was a good idea or did it just put you under too much pressure?

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Garden time again!

I love this time of year as, weather permitting, I can really get back out in the garden again. I've mentioned before that gardening is pretty much my favourite way to relax - nothing too heavy, just a pootle, but at this time of year as the flowers are starting to pop up (and I'm eagerly watching the shoots on my beloved peonies) it's actually quite exciting.

Having said that, we went to the garden centre last weekend and managed to spend a total of £4! I bought some geraniums to brighten up the window box. I'm still a little nervous about buying anything which could be damaged by frost, as there's a risk. I'm also never quite sure what's lurking in the flower beds - I tend to forget what's where, think I have a gap, then later discover I don't!

While we were at the garden centre we had a little look at the greenhouses. I'd quite like to get a small one so I can start growing a few things from seed. We don't have much space though and it'd be very much on show, so I've parked that idea for the time being. It'd have to be a nice pretty looking one and they're expensive! 

I did stumble across a rather odd set up in one of the sheds though... vintage sewing machines and a vintage shop model doing the ironing. An image I just can't get out of my head! Loved the sewing machines though!!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Paris with the 5 year old...

So we decided to take the little man to one of our favourite places. Mr M and I had been to Paris many times in our pre-parenting days and we wanted to show it to him - I also had a little dream of him sailing a boat in the pond at the Jardin du Luxembourg (more on that later). It was good, but didn't go entirely to plan.

The small boy was VERY excited about going to Paris. We reminded him frequently that we would not be going to Disneyland and he seemed OK with that - to be fair he didn't mention it at all while we were away so he clearly was OK with it. He was looking forward to seeing the Eiffel Tower and just visiting Paris (always loves to be somewhere different). As we'd been so many times before it was easy to plan our trip around him - nothing we needed to go and see and we'd do whatever he wanted to. 

So, the first stop was our hotel - the Hotel George Opera. We chose this hotel as it looked to be very child friendly, wasn't too horribly expensive, and had an apartment so the little man could sleep in a separate room (so quieter and we didn't have to go to bed early with him). Unfortunately though when we arrived they'd double booked our room so we had to spend the first night in a standard triple room, which really took the edge off things (we all had to go to bed at 9pm). They did refund us for the first night and move us to the apartment for our second one - it was much much better. 

The breakfast room was lovely and had a really nice area for younger children to play - the little man managed to amuse himself for a few minutes though with the kitchen. 

First stop after dropping off our bags was the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Our hotel was just up the road from Saint Georges metro station (and down from Pigalle) - we'd never stayed in this part of town before and it made a nice change. Once you drop down the hill a bit the ultra touristy, tacky Pigalle area actually becomes quite nice. We took the metro to Trocadero so we could recreate a photo from my first visit 24 years ago (almost to the day) but sadly there were hoardings up which prevented it. The little man was still excited to see the tower though (and not fussed to go up, which was a good thing as we'd left it too late to buy the queue jump tickets) - we walked under the tower and through the gardens on the other side where I hunted for mangnolia in flower (only spotted one the whole weekend and it was too far away to photograph!). 

We found a cafe on Rue Cler for a much needed snack and glass of wine, before heading back to the hotel. We found a great little pizza place for dinner, which was a 10 minute walk from the hotel (we went both nights as the little man loved it and behaved himself there - arguably the most important thing as for the most part his behaviour was atrocious to the point of embarrassing). Trying to find somewhere suitable to eat with him in the evenings was tricky as most places are child friendly during the day (provided they behave - he didn't) but not at night. Our hotel didn't have a restaurant so that wasn't an option... 

On day 2 we headed off to the Jardin du Luxembourg to find the boats. Which we couldn't. We searched and searched and established (as best we could with zero signage or information) that they were closed. Little man was sad. I was possibly even more so. So we headed off to the play area which was brilliant. There's a small entrance fee but for that you get a huge playground with a great range of equipment, which is clean and in excellent condition (so a far cry from South London!). We were there for about an hour and he completely wore himself out, before we walked over to Rue Du Buci (another of Mr M and my favourite spots from years gone by) for lunch. He did OK but kept wanting to crawl along the benches as if he was a toddler (give me strength). 

After lunch we walked up to the river to take a boat trip (something we did do once - I think on our first visit) so very touristy but the plan was to appease the little man. It sort of worked. We took a boat from and back to Pont Neuf. 

He was then complaining about the sun in his eyes (he doesn't have shades as he wears glasses and prescription sunglasses aren't recommended for children) so we headed to the shops to get him a cap. Then a walk through the Louve "Oh look, pyramides!" and the Tuileries where we had ice creams and he had a massive tantrum when he got covered in chocolate ice cream and I wanted to wipe it off. Then a trip on the big wheel before heading back to the hotel to chill out in our larger room for a little while. 

As I mentioned we went to the pizza place again for tea, but then walked up to Sacre Coeur (taking the funicular for the last part) so see the sun go down and the lights come on. This was a bit of a mistake as they were selling lit up Eiffel Tower models up there (we'd already bought him a normal one) so a good 20 minutes of screaming and crying ensued when we said he couldn't have one. Then back to bed...

On our last day the first stop was the Centre Pompidou. It was closed as it was a Tuesday but that was OK as I didn't plan to pay to take the little man in as his attention span was similar to that of a gnat. We had a look at the outside and he commended that it looks like a hamster cage (good observation) then popped to a cafe next door for excellent hot chocolate.

We then agreed to take him to a toy shop. We wanted a nice toy shop so where else but Galleries Lafayette? He chose a Paris bendy bus and was very happy with that. This was the first trip to Paris where I didn't buy anything for myself at all! 

We found a bistro for lunch en route to the Champs Elysees then walked along to the Arc de Triomphe where the little man ran around a bit (and Mr M looked out for car crashes) before heading back to the metro and the hotel to collect our case and travel back to Gare du Nord for our 5pm Eurostar. 

So it was pretty exhausting, but the little man still says he had a brilliant time and he loves Paris. He told me not to be sad that I was leaving as he's going to take me back when he's a bit older. Mr M and I are currently debating whether we ever want to go on holiday with him again!! It's definitely true that there's no such thing as a holiday when you have children - work is much easier!

Hasn't put me off Paris though...