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A Sneaky (Very) Early Birthday Trip Away To Paris, Easter and Progress With The Barn and Garden!

We had known for some time that our favourite band of today, Future Islands, were going to be playing in Paris 02nd April, but had decided not to go as we felt it would prove too costly and my Mum would not be in France at the time to look after Summer.

The closer we were getting to the date, the more tempting it was becoming and it was hard not to look into the price of train tickets etc...

We talked about it again a week before the concert and decided that we deserved the chance to let our hair down as we have been working around the clock and don't tend to go out of an evening like we would have done quite regularly in England. In fact, if we do decide to let our hair down, it is usually a few drinks and a private disco in our sitting room, or a meal with friends (with a few drinks too of course!). We would like to go out more often, but it is difficult with the limited selection of places to go (out of the summer season when there are various festivals that go on - big and small), the none existence of night taxis in our area (there is a bus from one of the clubs at 7am! A little too late for me and the club probably not quite to our taste!) and the leaving Summer/asking a friend to give up their night to babysit.

We have two sets of friends out here who we would truly trust with our lives and therefore would be the only options we would be happy with looking after Summer. We doubted very much that either would be available at such short notice, but by absolute chance, the first friend we asked was happy to have Summer stay the night with her and her family. Summer was over the moon as this would mean she would be having a sleep over at her "boyfriend's" house! Yes, at 4 years old, she has a boyfriend - and a very handsome French one at that! ;o) I am sure by boyfriend, she means a friend who is a boy, but he is quite a hit with all the girls at school and they do have the odd cuddle and kiss of the cheek sometimes - quite cute really! :o) He has two older brothers too who she really likes, so we knew she would have a great time and be very well looked after.

So, after a little panick from me in regards to dangerous money spending and Scott assuring me we will be fine and have to live every now and again - the tickets, train and hotel was booked and we were set to go! Even better - my lovely Mum, Sis and Cuz Claire all put some money towards it as a very early birthday treat (our birthdays are in July!), which we were very appreciative of - an amazing prezzie - thank you all again so much! :o) x

The concert was going to be at La Cigale in our favourite part of Paris, Montmartre, so we booked a hotel nearby at an affordable rate and after checking ratings were OK on trip advisor. We went for Hotel Nation - just a couple of minutes walk from La Cigale and at an offer of €65 for the night (actually more than I wanted to spend, but looking around, that was a good price for a mid range hotel.

My Mum and Simon made a fleeting visit the weekend before we were due to leave, so it was nice to see them and catch up and for Summer to see Nana and Grampsie, although more brief than we all would have preferred!

Mum had mentioned that there was a David Bowie Expo going on at Le Philharmonie de Paris while we were there, so we were definitely going to try and make it there in the little time we had - gotta love the Bowie - an extra treat!!! We were extra excited now!

It was another very comfortable train ride on the TGV from Niort to Montparnasse and down to the Metro where we bought our book of 10 tickets and caught the tube to Monmartre.

The hotel was a few minutes walk from the Metro. We checked in and climbed the 80 steps to our room - luggage in hand! The room was lovely and clean with a shower and sink, but the toilets were communal with a very small WC in the middle of each flight of stairs - attention must be paid after a few drinks and I will certainly just be going for number ones here - not so private! :o/

It was coming up to 3.30pm and the concert was at 7pm. We so desparately wanted to go to the Bowie expo, so after grabbing some maps from the front desk and finding our route, we were going for it! The Philharmonie was 30 mins away by tube, so we knew time would be tight, but we could do it!

Unfortunately, the tube we needed was called out of service with all passengers getting on, waiting and then being told to get back off again twice in a row due to overcrowdedness, so after having lost 30mins, we decided to take a different route. I am so glad we did as although we only had 1.5 hours to look around and had to rush it, the expo was amazing! So well produced and set out with so much to see and learn, digital displays and footage, topped of with show stopping outrageously out there Bowie outfits and songs playing all the while. It actually left me feeling rather emotional - would recommend it to anyone!

We made it out at 5.30pm, had a quick bite to eat, a catch up phone call with Summer, who was very happy and enjoying playing with her friends, so our minds were put at rest and it was time to catch the tube back for the concert - Future Islands, here we come! :o)

The concert was fantastic! La Cigale is a brilliant place for a concert, a beautiful theatre which provided a great atmosphere for an intimate concert. We had a great spot right near to the stage and the band did not fail to entertain! The atmosphere was electric and we danced through the entire concert - just what we needed!

Afterwards, we took a short walk to a bar where two French men were playing the guitar and harmonica, drawing me in with a brilliant rendition on "Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye and following it up with a bit of Nina Simone and some French ditties - perfect!

The night was not over! We decided to make the most of our freedom and went on to a bar next to the Moulin rouge to have a bit of a boogie!

A fantastic night! Definitely let our hair down good and proper!!

Couldn't wait to see Summer again the next day! We got back in time to pick her up from school and then we were onto Easter weekend! She was so excited!

In France, it is the magic "cloche" - bell, which hides the eggs for the children, but Summer understands that the Easter Bunny still visits the English children and that is who left the eggs for her!

She had so much fun searching for her eggs in the garden with her little basket and bunny ears which came with the choccy gift form Great Aunty Mary! :o) There was so much chocolate! We had been given all the choccy gifts from the family to pass onto her, so she was well and truly spoilt!

Then it was back to work with Scott carrying on with the breaking of the concrete in the barn and me with the garden tasks.

We have also had to focus on advertising rooms in the house which we rent out in UK - slightly stressful and could do without it at the moment as money is now very tight following our little trip to Paris and with more materials needed for the barn. We have also just been stung with our "Taxe d'Aménagement" which is a huge bill that has followed on from us getting the permis de construire last year for the barn to become habitable - OUCH! Really - OUCH!!!

So, the priority is getting the rooms filled, which is a juggle with the work we need to do here and takes a lot of time advertising and managing. Fingers crossed!

We had a little catch up meeting together last week and worked out we need every single day we have available to get the bits needing to be done to the barn and cottage done before the holiday season! Crazy times! Just have to stay positive and we will get through it!

Until next time! :o)

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