Lincoln Knights’ Trail

Last Sunday, Edward and I decide to play tourists in our own city and follow the new Lincoln Knights’ Trail. The trail follows 36 hand-painted knight sculptures around the town centre and its landmarks – it was created to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Lincoln and the sealing of the Charter of the Forest. It seemed like a good way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon so we picked-up a map from the tourist information office near the Cathedral and set out on our quest to find all 36 knights. Unfortunately, we could only see 35 of them as one had been moved to make space for the Lincoln Bike Fest also taking place that day.

If you live in Lincoln or planning a visit this summer, the Knights’ Trail is a great way to see the city. It takes all over town, from the Cathedral to the buzzing High Street. I’d recommend to wear a comfortable pair of shoes though… Following the knights from first to last, Fitbit calculated that we walked a little less than 10K in about 3 hours – including an ice cream break at Go Gelato!

April & May Books

This is usually a monthly feature but after reading only one long book in April, I decided to combine April and May books into a more substantial post. I’ve been making more time for reading these past few weeks and I’m enjoying it. I had been feeling anxious and often overwhelmed since the beginning of the year, and I realised that spending too much time surrounded by screens outside of work was probably part of the problem… Getting lost into a story is a good way to unplug and one of my favourite ways to do so!

April & May Books

Sycamore Row | John Grisham
This book is legal thriller, very well written and beautifully tied up together – except for the last chapter, which felt a bit unessential. This was the only downside of this book: there are lengths and they don’t necessarily add to the narrative. This novel is apparently the sequel to A Time to Kill featuring the same principal character, Jake Brigance. Sycamore Row takes place more than thirty years ago in Mississippi so the blatant racism of that era is very central to the storyline. If you like the genre, it’s a good read overall.

Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay | J. K. Rowling
Being a fan of the Harry Potter series, I was looking forward to diving into this new story set in the same magical universe – especially after reading several positive reviews of the movie. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the book… The storyline is good but the screenplay format makes it difficult to really get into. I plan of watching the film and might try the book again, someday.

Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone | J. K. Rowling
As mentioned above, I am from the ‘Harry Potter generation’ and I read every book (and saw every movie) at least twice. Edward, however, has never read any of the books (or saw any of the movies) so I decided it was time I introduce him to the BEST book series ever. We got a beautifully illustrated paperback copy of the first novel and started reading it together. We took the habit of reading bits aloud to each other during our morning commute or on longer car trips… It makes our time on the road much more interesting!

Wild | Cheryl Strayed
I first heard of this book whilst watching the recent Gilmore Girls revival but forgot about it until it popped in the Kindle store suggestions after I read Travelled Far. It is as good as everyone says. I truly enjoyed reading Cheryl’s adventure on the PCT and liked her honesty and authenticity. A recommended read, especially for keen hikers!

The Doll’s House | M. J. Arlidge
I bought this book from a discount store whilst waiting for Edward to pick me up from a trade show a few weeks ago… For a £2 book, it was good enough; not the best thriller I’ve read but it was gripping and I found myself reading way past midnight a few times.

Lost In Translation: A Life in a New Language | Eva Hoffman
This is probably my favourite book on this list. A thoughtful memoir touching subjects such as exile, immigration and the foreignness that comes with it and follows you in everything you do. It is also about living in another language than you own and how it sometime shapes your thoughts. I was moved by Eva’s words, maybe because I can relate to many of them, but mostly because she writes simply and in such an accessible way. Eva Hoffman recounts her own story as a young Polish immigrant in Canada, and later the United States. I’d recommend this book to all my fellow expats but also to anyone who has an interest in linguistics or foreign cultures.

Happy reading!

Nottingham 10K 2017

Last Sunday, Edward and I found ourselves on the start line of the Nottingham 10K along with 3000 other runners. It was the second edition of the race – part of the Asda Foundation 10K Series – and after the brilliant event of last year, we were both looking forward to it.

Nottingham 10K 2017

We left home early as we were not sure where to let our car… Unlike last year, the race was taking place on the outskirts of the city and there was no mention of a dedicated car park in the registration email we received. We finally parked on one of the streets adjacent to the football stadium where the race village was set.

Arriving early let us plenty of time to have a snack, queue for the bathrooms and have a look around. When the time came to take our places in the corral, Edward convinced me to stand just behind the ’55 minutes’ pacer. The race kicked off promptly at 9.30 AM after a quick warm-up and a minute of silence for the victims of the Manchester attack. I had never seen a start line so quiet – it was every touching to witness everyone bowing their head in silence.

Nottingham 10K 2017 - Map

Unfortunately, I was unable to keep up with our 55-minute pacer but I still managed to run a PB with an official chip time of 1:02:36. I’m still hoping to run a sub-60 10K before the end of this year and I think I could have done it with a bit more training. I also stopped three times to use my inhaler, which is a lot. The first time – after only 3K – I felt like I had hit a wall.

I enjoyed the race but not as much as I did last year, mostly because of the slightly boring new route. Last year’s route started at the Old Market Square and took us around the city centre and along the river Trent and its historic monuments. There was lots to see and the spectators were cheerful. This year’s route was very ‘linear’ and took us from suburban residential streets to the National Watersports Centre and around the Regatta Lake. The spectators were not as enthusiastic either – though we got cheered on by a group of campers at the entrance of the country park and they were REALLY into it!

It was a pleasant race nonetheless and I might enter again next year. In the meantime, I’m slowly increasing my distance and training for an eventual half-marathon. I’m also finding myself heading to the trails more often and truly enjoying it.

24 Hours in Dublin

Earlier this year, we travelled to Northern Ireland for our friends’ wedding and decided to take an extra day off to make a little holiday out of it. We were flying to and from Dublin and it would have been a shame not to visit the city whilst we were there… We left Lusty Beg Island early on the last day of our trip and headed down to the Fair City.

Because we didn’t know much time we would have in Dublin, we didn’t make plans and played it by ear. We spent most of a rainy afternoon walking the streets and alleys, shopping for souvenirs and doing some street photography. We saw craft markets, leprechauns and many crowded pubs. I also got a ‘free hug’ from a random guy offering them near the famous Temple Bar.

We are already speaking of going back to Ireland as we’d like to spend more time in Dublin but also visit other parts of the country. Maybe a motorcycle road trip is in order?

Travel Tag

I was recently nominated for this Travel Tag by Katie, at Fatty McCupcakes. I don’t usually take part in those ‘tag’ things but I decided to make an exception for this one for many reasons…

First, I was really touched by the nomination and the shower of kind words Katie had for me and my little blog.

I also really love Miss McCupcakes’s blog and wait impatiently for new posts every week – she’s sarcastic, intelligent, funny and often makes me laugh to tears at my desk (which get me weird looks from my colleagues who seem confused that I could find anything THAT funny). Have a look at her blog, you won’t be disappointed! Just make sure you can laugh freely first…

And, well, I’ve travelled quite a bit in the last few years and this Travel Tag sounds fun, so why not?

Here we go…

What is your favorite place that you have visited?
I’m not sure I can choose only one! In England, the Peak District has my heart because it’s the first place I visited on my first trip here and that’s where I fell in love with the country. It’s also our go-to place for hiking.

Peak District

Abroad, I would say New York and Berlin. Edward and I visited the Big Apple to celebrate our first New Year together and we created some beautiful memories there – we even have a ‘love lock’ engraved with our names in Central Park! More recently, Berlin was the perfect escape during a busy holiday season. We had a really good time there and it’s definitely a place I’d recommend for a weekend away.

NYC & Berlin

If you could visit anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
Those questions are tough! I think if I could, I’d take a trip back home… I’m not sure I’m ready to go back but I guess I’ll have to someday? It would be nice to hug my dad, have giggles with my sister, go for a drink with my best friend, hike up the Vallée-de-la-Jacques-Cartier with Edward, get a nice meal and taffy on the snow in Old Quebec afterwards…

Quebec

Would you rather go on a city holiday or a beach holiday?
A city holiday, always. Though we are travelling to Croatia in a few days and I’m really excited for the sunshine! We are staying on a little island away from any major cities but we will be visiting Dubrovnik on the first day. We will certainly spend some time relaxing on the beach but I tend to get a bit restless so we also have plans to go hiking and rent kayaks.

My top three travel essentials are:
The first item on my packing list is always my photography kit: camera, spare batteries, memory cards, chargers, lenses and a travel tripod. My iPhone is also part of the kit because let’s be honest, we all like to post a few travel snaps on Instagram!

Following a bad experience (and countless blisters) with ballet flats in Paris, comfy walking shoes are now an essential. I still pack a pair of fashionable shoes for the evenings but I wear mostly trainers during the day.

Last but not least, snacks. I always carry protein bars or breakfast biscuits and a bottle of water in my bag. It may seem obvious but keeping your blood sugar at an acceptable level and staying properly hydrated will make any trip much more pleasant, and – I speak from experience here – could avert pointless arguments.

Travel Essentials

Are you an overpacker or an underpacker?
Definitely an overpacker! It’s always a bit of a gamble to put my suitcase on the check-in scale at the airport but the only time I had to pay an overweight charge was on my one-way flight to London, which is understandable. My carry-on is often overpacked, too. I like to be prepared so I put loads of stuff in there ‘just in case’…

What is your favorite thing about going on vacations?
My love of travel comes from my passion for foreign languages and my curiosity for different cultures. I like walking around a new city to observe and photograph people, listen to their accent, learn new words… But I think my favourite thing about being away on holiday – and yes, I know it’s cheesy – is sharing all of it with Edward. Exploring new surroundings, getting lost together… Like everyone else, we lead busy lives and spending a few days together away from everything that is familiar to us is our way to catch our breath, find our balance and grow closer to each other.

Travel Selfies

Would you rather go on vacation with family or friends?
I’d say it depends on the type of vacation but I wouldn’t mind either way, as long as it’s only for a few days.

What is the most adventurous dish you have ever tried from another country?
I’ve never had the opportunity to travel to exotic places so I’ve never tasted anything very adventurous. I’ve had many ‘clichés’ dishes: pretzels in New York, croissants in Paris, currywurst in Berlin, etc. Nothing too strange!

To complete this Travel Tag ‘challenge’, I’d like to nominate these amazing bloggers:

Beyond The Camera Shutter
A blog you’ll certainly enjoy if you’re into photography, motorcycles, travel or sci-fi. It’s also Edward’s blog and I know he has travelled to some beautiful places and would certainly have answers for those questions!

La petite Mary qui rêve de voyages et d’Espagne
Mary is a very good friend of mine, a talented photographer and a novice traveller. I’m curious to see what she has to say about her past trips and the many ones to come!

Adventures & Naps
Alanna is a fellow Canadian expat in the UK who blogs about her life in England. I always enjoy reading her blog – I’m certain you would too – and I’m curious to know more about her and her travelling experiences.