Good TV for ‘Tweens’

 

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My Little Miss Muffet ❤

So, Little Miss Muffet has now officially entered in her ‘Tweens’, a concept unbeknownst to our parents’ generation. For them, we were all just ‘growing kids’. 🙂 In simple terms, this age group was best interpreted in one of the Amul Milk Chocolate Campaigns in the 80s’ where the child would sing “I’m too old to ride tricycles but too young to be a Pilot…” and many such do’s and don’ts.

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Image Courtesy: Uploaded by: Amul The Taste of India, Feb 19, 2016

So anyways, one of my dilemmas has been finding good on-screen content for her. She is too old for Disney cartoons series (at least that’s what she says), but then I find her too young for anything else. And that’s not her fault. The problem is that there is a big range of programmes for the tiny tots and children up to the age of 7 and then every thing else is a teenage love story, girls’ vying for boys’ attention stories, gymnasts and ballerinas stories whose training and discipline is less showcased and more about the cat fights, and you guessed right, getting a boyfriend (eye rolling).

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Different Strokes: Image Courtesy: Imdb

 

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Small Wonder: Image Courtesy – eightieskids.com

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Full House: Image Courtesy : theindependent.co.uk

I tried to get her to see programmes that I grew up seeing… Full House, Small Wonders, Different Strokes… and soon I realised I had a problem with these programmes too… My Miss Muffet could not actually relate to the jokes or the language on Different Strokes…I am not quite sure why. Besides the poor quality on You Tube did not help much either. She was just about liking Small Wonder, but she did not warm up to the caricaturist of a Robot in Vicki. Miss Muffet is quite an avid follower and dedicated to knowing about  and robotics in general. At a time when you have Sophia The AI Humanoid Robot… Small Wonder was too naïve for her. Besides, every time Jamie slammed the door on Harriet… she would go, “that’s not nice, Mumma. Jamie is hurting Harriet. This is not a nice way to treat someone.” I eye rolled and agreed 😊. Full House was an instant hit, mainly because of the absolutely adorable girls and Joey. But what got us all squirming in our seats was the incessant making out on the show. And with the girls growing up on the show, the stories of kisses, boyfriends etc. became more intense and we kind off had to sit with her and fast forward those really awkward moments… also because she found them mighty YUCKYYY!!!

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So now, what are you left with? A lot of us today do not subscribe to the broadcasting channels or the DTH, especially a lot of us on transferable jobs. So we watch say, the basic terrestrial or free-view channels and the streaming services, Netflix and Amazon being most common. Of course, some take more or less, depending on the usage. Even on there, the programmes for this age group was missing… until we managed to find a few. So I thought of listing them here, in case you have missed them. Quite possible that I am late to the party, but then hey, my audience, who is a 9 year old, finds them relevant now or the past year.

And yes, before I go any further… may I say, Australia has been churning out some really smart, creative and fun content. 😊

Our best choices are as follows:

  1. The InBestigators (Netflix)
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The InBestigators. Image Courtesy : msn.com

  • The Inbestigators is an Australian Children’s comedy drama television series. It focuses on four very smart kids who start their own detective agency and vlog about their cases and how they solve them. Absolutely adorable, clever and very well done. I was hooked along with the daughter. And trust me, I am waiting to see if they are making Season 3 😊
  1. Little Lunch (Netflix)
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Little Lunch: IMage Courtesy – IMdb

  • Again a brilliant Australian make 😊 A comedy drama television series which is based on what goes on on the playground during recess. Told from the perspective of the kids, it is absolutely endearing. Based on a book series written by Danny Katz, this one is not to be missed.
  1. Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History (Netflix)
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Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History – Image courtesy – TMdb

  • This is a Netflix special and a good one at that. It is just the right tonality mixed with facts, fun and animation for little minds to absorb history and stay interested. Do not judge this programme to be a Kevin Hart’s comedy special because it is not. It is good sense TV for kids, to get them a glimpse of world history, of African American heroes and their contributions to the world.
  1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Amazon Prime)
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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Image Courtesy – Amazon Prime

  • This one, directed by Hiroshi Saito is a wonderful adaptation of the classic. After I failed to get my daughter hooked to the classic, simply because of the language, I searched for it on TV. And voila! This one is just fabulous. A must try 😊

Then there is also BrainChild, The Healing Powers of Dude amongst few more.

Now, I am in no way trying to justify increased screen time. So if you are really tingly about wanting to debate on whether or not and how much of screen time is good or bad…well, we can do that some other day 😊

For today, this was my two cents on feel good TV for ‘tweens’ or the ‘in-betweens’. And if you have any more suggestions on good content for children on television, please recommend. We are all ears 😊

 

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Making Sense Of It All

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This blog started off as a blog documenting my parenting journey, but then I digressed at times, at other times life happened and at still other times, I got busy, parenting 🙂

Well, anyways, a lot of social media has taken over the age old blogging…aarrghh.. how archaic that sounds, but then hey, attention spans have been diminished, blogging it seems is of no use as people do not like to read anymore, heck, attention has moved from insta feed to insta stories even. With a forced timeline of how long you should remember or refer to a story as not more than 24 hours, so to speak.

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My Little Miss Muffet is now 9 years old and is quite a curious mind. Shy but curious. In a world that rues in pinks and blues and where definitions get drawn from infancy in pink bonnets and blue booties, my little lady has thankfully learnt to not stick to definitions. She questions them all. Mumma, why do some people say boys can’t play with dolls? Mumma, why do kids tease me at school when I pick up a  book on Robots? Mumma, Why is it so essential to talk about ballet shoes and tutus to be included in a girl’s group?Mumma, why can’t I play with boys? Mumma, who are gays? Mumma, what is autism?

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Of course, she can. She can play with boys. She does not have to talk about tutus or shoes if she does not want to. She can read books on Robotics and no, she does not have to worry about getting included in an all girls group. She is learning to love the world where there is a slow but concerted effort to accept gays as wonderful and mainstream and she is learning to help and be kind to her friends on the autistic spectrum.

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But all these notions of idealism are still not reaching the playground as much as we want. And that is because they haven’t yet permeated into the households. We like to define and put up these banners of changing mindsets on leadership platforms and on news headlines, but have a recce at a children’s playground during recess, and you will realise, the changes are yet to happen. They are trickling down, slowly, but they are not as well conditioned as we want them to be.  Amongst the three of us, my husband works from home and I am a stay at home mum. For a family that has recently moved to a new country, the child is the only one who is actually going through the cultural changes and facing the new country’s life and lifestyle head-on. She is the one adapting to the accents and the intonations. She is the one learning to make friends anew in a new environment. She is the one trying to fit in or may be not and carve out an identity of her own.

Our kids are learning, absorbing, processing and implementing a lot of the world without our direct intervention and trust me, we as adults do not credit them as much. 

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In this short span of two years, my Little Miss Muffet has gone from being a complete stranger to being an active participant in her class, has been bullied for playing with boys and has been booed for not being too girly. Has been called weird and too ‘posh’ for speaking too well for her age, has been deserted on the playground because suddenly she was not fit to be in a boy’s group or the girls’. She has learnt to be sympathetic with kids less able, she has learnt to be kinder to kids who have bullied her and she has learnt to slowly, very slowly, stand up for herself. She would come home with a lot of ‘Whys’ and I realised that I had an uni-dimensional view of the world compared to hers and that I had to instil more confidence and faith in her, all the while learning to be better at it myself.

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It was only then, that I realised that she was living the actual drill of living in a global world. She was learning on an everyday basis to keep her Indian roots and sensibilities intact and learning to appreciate or discard world views as she deemed important. And she was doing all this without an adult intervention. Yes she had her teachers and they are swell. They are the absolute best. But I want you to remember and think… Our kids are out in the world, albeit in controlled environs of the school, for almost the entire daylight hours and  they hardly ever get credited for their human relations and the decisions they make to become who they eventually will turn out to be.

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I am learning to be more patient. I am learning to be kinder. I am learning and making an effort to understand the culture a lot better than I knew before and trust me, it is all because of the Little Lady.

Oh, our kids teach us along the way, all the time that we are trying to turn them into what we think is a socially accepted definition of a citizen. It’s not easy for them, trust me, it’s not easy.

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In a world, where they are learning fundamental concepts of climate change, body image, newer genders, women in history, children as world leaders…we as parents have some learning and unlearning to do. And we have a stronger role to play in their comprehension of the world.

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Don’t Let Go… Yet.

IMG_20191029_140017.jpgEverywhere I see, I am met with colours. Colours that are muted and bright at the same time. Yellow, burnt sienna, red, rust, brown, auburn, terracotta red, ochre yellow, pale yellow, green and then… There is the Grey. How all encompassing, all embracing and all over… This grey. It is loud enough to drown out your core personality and yet subtle enough to let you go by and highlight who you are. It’s a paradox of a palette and the cold air only substantiates this paradox. The cold air makes you lonely and makes you want company and at the same time, makes you want to just get into that cocoon.

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In all of this we are also embraced with this tech wrap, if I may, and it somewhere, gives you this illusion that we are all Connected. It makes you feel we are all that one call away or just a ping away… But that call never comes… That ping does not ring… The video calls never get done. That conversation never happens and the earth just rotates around the sun a whole year again, and by then, its too late to call or ping or connect and then it all just gets awkward.. And then all the connections dwindle. And then you get all autumnal and give out muddled words like Letting Go.

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Autumn gives you great lessons of letting go. Autumn plays out great colours. But autumn feels mesmerising only because it is so short a season. The letting go does not quite validate with our essence of being humans. You need a brighter palette. You need to hold on. You need to reach out. To connect, to converse. And have a brighter palette of colours. A brighter mix of minds. A memorable mix of conversations for your brain and soul to thrive.

Pick up that phone and call. Ping someone to ask how they are. If talking is limiting to you, then email. But reach out. Don’t let go So easily. Life is not so poetic as the colours of autumn. Meet. Greet. Dive in and Thrive. Nourish and Nurture. And most of all, before you let go, Reach Out.

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EmBee…

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I could not not write about you…

You are gone too soon… EmBee…

I am thinking… you are probably confronting your Lord Shiva and saying, “Dude, what the heck…I was just getting started…”

Not fair, Shiva, not fair… your need cannot be greater than ours. This earth needs more like EmBee and for longer. You could not have brought him on this earth to just tease us…

Oh EmBee…

Days spent in your company in our job back in Hanmer MSL

Days spent where you shared stories about your GURU, your spirituality, your parents…

Days spent listening to your music…

When you left Hanmer, we continued to be in touch… your Headless Lines Days… you excelled…

Your shaadi.com days… you excelled…

Your Vision, your dream, your passion… Door No.1 and you excelled…

Your passion for  fitness, gadgets, tatoos, music… your love for Shiva…

You touched lives, you inspired people, you  recognised and appreciated so many more, you were gentle and kind with a heart that shone… oh Mihir, your Shiva could not have needed you more than we did… You put your heart and soul into everything that you did and you were the very sincerest best to everyone you met. You inspired me to go back to writing because you could not imagine me only sewing… you seeded thoughts of BossGirl in my mind. You and I spoke and each of those words still ring in my ears…. not too long ago… You could not go… not now… not for long… but your Shiva wasn’t fair 😦

He is my Shiva too but I am angry with him… seething really, for this was not to be… he could not have needed you more than everyone here did… we need more hearts like yours … more souls that touched…

I can’t shake you off… You… are for keeps… and I am going to keep you in my hearts… as the 24 year old boy I first met… alive … with headphones on, with a smile and a tapping feet… carrying the world on your shoulders ever so slightly, triumphantly… who gave a twist to the world’s headlines with his wit and humor, who reviewed gadgets with such passion…who worked out like a challenge to himself, who worked hard, partied hard, and grooved to the music of better times and better eras, who was like a Midas making success out of everything that he touched, who thought about the traffic dodging delivery guy with as much heart and reminded us to tip him as much as for the rain soaked guy stuck in traffic and offered them chai and parle g biscuits…

After he met Sachin Tendulkar at his retro pub @Door No. 1 in Mumbai, his fb status said, “Life Complete”… well, we all disagree…

Your life wasn’t complete… you were just getting started… what you gave us was a glimpse of what a passionate heart and a loving soul could achieve and more than that…Give!!!

Mihir… my Friend… like I said before… you hit us in the gut, man… this gut wrenching pain is here to stay and it’s not a nice feeling.

But I will chant and pray for you… you my soulful friend deserve the peace. Heaven is a better place today and I promise to keep you in my prayers… Always.

Bye for now…You Kind Soul.

 

 

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Tete-a-Tete with Myself

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Picture courtesy : Internet

This is coming exactly after two months that I did take the leap of faith, but then I am only ready now to write about it, finally. Also, I can totally vouch for the fact that I am definitely ‘Myself’ now after what seemed ages. And this leap of faith helped… big time!!!

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I am not a person who regrets. Anything. Ever. I believe strongly that everything happens for a reason and everything is a journey forward, towards something meaningful. I do not even overtly think about what’s coming. I do not plan. I am not a to-do list kind of a person either. My Mum and Dad always tell me that you just do what comes your way. Whatever it is… there is nothing called a challenge or a difficulty or anything like that. If it has come your way, you just roll up your sleeves and get going… do it! I am also someone who wears my heart on my sleeve… much to the contempt and annoyance of a lot of dear people in my life, but then again, while I do feel sorry for them, I try my best, trust me, to curb my emotions.. and again, if the emotional babble do come rushing out my mouth, I have learnt over time to accept myself for that, with that. This is who I am. Unapologetically 🙂 And this realisation and acceptance did not come easy.

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Bag Making 🙂

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My Career ❤

Ever since I quit my job, I honed my skills to become a bagmaker, something which I always wanted to do and it is something that gives me joy. I wish I could scale up someday.. but then for now, it is just awesome. It gives me the perfect combination of looking after my home, my daughter and yet have a career. It does not definitely give me a lot of money… actually nothing compared to what I did earn in my previous stint as a Communications Specialist… but then, the joy that this part of my life gives me is nothing compared to the bank balance.

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But what did happen, was that me being the lazy person that I am, I cocooned too much. And when you are nuzzled in a shell and get all cozy and warm with your feet inside the blanket, you start to conjure up thoughts of how uncomfortable everything is outside the blanket. That pretty much started happening to me. I just sat at home, working my ass off (excuse the slang, but nothing else seems appropriate), and yet, I was so comfortably cosy and snuggled up in my mind and in my home, that anything that changed a wee bit of that schedule, played havoc with my mind. It started off as minor anxieties of what if I don’t get a cab home, or what if I lose my way or that I am not good looking enough or presentable enough, or what if everyone thinks I am a tailor and sit huddled up on the sewing machine like Nirupa Roy and everyone thinks that I am a loser… these were just thoughts and still manageable. Things started to get worse when me who loved to travel started getting anxious about it… when I started overthinking while going up a lighthouse, when I started feeling claustrophobic in a Mall and thinking there could be Bomb Blasts or that I would definitely end up flying in a plane that would eventually crash… first, I did not share these thoughts… over time, I started thinking out loud … and it was then that I realised that I was heading towards something very negative. This was not fun. This was not Me. I used to have parallel train of thoughts… going back and forth in my head to the person that I was to the pathetic version of a person that I had become. Most importantly, this was definitely not the kind of ‘Mom’ that I wanted to be to my daughter. I do not believe in Role Models. There cannot be one type of role model. I am someone who gets inspired and everyone inspires me and everything around me is an inspiration. So as a Mother, it is okay to be scared sometimes, messy at times, clumsy and effervescent too… but definitely nothing that should stop you from going about your life.

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I have to say and I am filled with gratitude and affection for the Man in my life… my husband who believed in me, and although he has never seen me in my brightest and the most positive self, he still knew that this was not me. He pushed me to do more. To get over this… never for once looking down at me or making me feel bad for whatever it was that I was going through. Slowly, his faith was what gave me the strength and motivation to be my best, to make him feel that he could trust me, that he had a partner in me and that I was just as capable and able of everything that I could put my mind to.

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He asked me to go to India alone to get my Mother-in-Law along with me to the UK. Now any other time it would not have been a big deal. But when you read above for what all my head was filled with, for the kind of thoughts that brewed in my brain, you would know how anxious I would have really been. And that too, leaving my daughter behind… I had never been without her everrrr!!! And to go away for an entire month was downright impossible. But he couldn’t take leave from work and I just had to do this journey.

So I did… I got on that plane… literally gritting my teeth for ten hours of my journey, imagining a nosediving plane and imagining the worst. There were slight turbulances and you can picture me with not just my heart but all my organs in my mouth. The lights were all dim and it was dark inside the plane. People snored … some dove deep into the realms of cine magic and I sat there in the dark, crying bitterly…. like there was no tomorrow.

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But slowly, through all that, something amazing happened. I felt my heart loosen up. My mind too and I felt good. All of a sudden I felt fearless, like as if I was out of the grips of something that was holding me back. Like as if I had loosened up the knots of a net that I was entangled in. I felt so much better. And not just better… I knew I was Done! I was done moping, thinking stupid thoughts, getting ensnared in my own mind… I knew I was done and not only was I done… I WAS BACK!!! And there is no going back 🙂

Thoughts of meeting my parents and meeting two my dear friends suddenly became the foremost of my thoughts and I couldn’t wait to land. It was as if my husband knew that I had to fly to know that my plane wouldn’t crash and not every plane does 🙂  Well, it may be funny to you, but ask a suffering mind!

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Of course, staying alone without Moina was again the second of the most challenging part of the job. I never knew how difficult it is to leave your child behind. I have huge respect for working parents, parents who travel or are posted outside who cannot be with their kids… coz, God, that’s difficult. And no amount of Whatsapp video calls or Skype calls could make up for that separation. But again, this separation also did something wonderful for my daughter. She became a  lot more independent. She started caring for herself as also of her father. I would guide her over video calls on how to make herself  a quick brunch or snack or warm up some milk or serve dinner to her dad and she did all of that so confidently and amazingly well. She is just 8 so this is kinda a big deal.

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So yeah, while I am not the advocator of leaving my child and going on a vacation alone, but some times little amounts of time away could actually help the child become more confident, responsible and learn to be more organised and caring.

I got my Mom-in-Law along with me. I had the best time in the longest time as I got to spend time with my parents all by myself. They are such power banks I tell you. I spent a lot of time with one of my close friends and of course I am still sad that I could not meet my other dearest friend… and the sadness is only because I am going to meet her only after another year has passed and that feels like a long time… but then, it’s alright. There is lots to do and it’s a beautiful world out there. A world that is full of possibilities, affirmation, dreams and being fabulous. My dotty girl suddenly is all grown up and she is now looking out for all of us… more sensitive, being more responsible around the house and like I said, Being absolutely Wonderful.

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Sometimes, that’s all you need… a talk with your mind, a good cry, doing what scares the shit out of you, spending some time alone and most importantly, accepting ourselves and not try to be anything or anyone else. Be unapologetic of who we are. We are fabulous. We are unique. There is only one of us in the world and that makes us all so special.

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In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. 

So let’s just remember that…. Celebrate ourselves. and Move on … there is a journey of Life that lies ahead and there is still so much to do, so much to see, so much to share 🙂

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And thank you so much, if you have really managed to come this far in the blog post.

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A W(h)ale of a Time

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So okay, I got exhausted and lost my way with the Paris blog and never got around to finishing it. After that we also visited my brother and his family to Oslo, Norway for ten days but still haven’t got around writing about it because … Life took over, but of course! So we are gonna start writing again and we will write about Oslo, but for now, I am just going to write about Wales.

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Yeah, it’s our second trip to Wales and this time it was to Cardiff. I got my Mother-in-Law to UK to be here with us for four months and while she loves to travel too, she of course has her limitations now, as she just about turned a grand old 80 years of age and has troubling knees. So for the next four months we have to plan for trips which are easy on her and doesn’t stress her a lot.

So here’s our Mantra when we go travelling… we are usually tight on the number of days for most of our trips. And now with a child and an old lady in our spectrum of travellers, we don’t go all crazy about sight seeing. We do plan and decide to see the important ones, but we take it slow and easy and never quite roam with the ‘Regret tag’ for having missed something. Take it easy and slow and see what we can. 

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Airbnb

We booked an AirBnB which was very conveniently located to the City Centre. So we were just five minutes drive away from anywhere in the city. Now, Cardiff is beautiful. It is modern and old at the same time. It is not too crazy on the crowd but you sure have slow traffic too. But it is so so green and we loved it. We visited the Cardiff Castle, the Art Gallery in the National Museum of Cardiff and we also made it to Cardiff Bay.

But of course you know that Cardiff is the capital of Wales and is an ancient city that dates back to early neolithic times around 6000BC. It has seen a lot of change of hands in its history in between the Romans, Normans and British. Now, I am no tourist guide, so should you be more keen to know more about this city, there is always Wikipedia 🙂 So pardon me, if I am not entirely accurate.

We left for Cardiff on a Friday, after school hours around 4pm in the evening and thank god for Summer, we reached at 8pm and it still looked like we had an entire day to ourselves. Anyway, the airbnb was comfortable and cosy and very clean. I even had carried dinner from home and it was great to just heat up some home made parathas and jeera aloo in a place away from home … food is such a big comforter, is it not?!

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The Clock Tower that we did not go inside of…but oh, look, so pretty!

The next day we tried to go to Cardiff Bay but hadn’t quite planned it very well, so we ended up driving in circles and not finding a place to park. Eh, we were so disappointed 😦 Anyway, we drove down to Cardiff Castle from there and that was great!!! We could not do the Clock tower as it was getting quite late and we knew we would have missed one thing or the other. So we decided to do the ‘Keep’ and the House Tour. I love visiting houses, old homes, heritage properties… there is so much history, there is so much that you can know about the daily lives of people and eras by gone… the history behind those walls and furnitures and needlework and house libraries are so  different from the keeps and the dungeons and the hollow castle corridors that usually have tales of gruesome killings and tortures and neglect. So well, we tucked the grand old lady in  the coffee shop inside the Castle grounds… she was more than happy to just be able to see the grounds and the castle building from the outside, at the same time all cosy in the cafe with a hot mug of coffee and a butter croissant to give her company 🙂

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View from the Keep

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View from the top

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Inside the Keep

The Keep was beautiful. It’s known as a Shell keep as it provides a Shell to the smaller buildings inside. The view from the top of the Castle grounds and the city is just beautiful.

Once we came down the Keep, we then were on time to do the House Tour. This is probably one of the most opulent properties that I have seen… It was not just opulent but beautiful, delicate craftsmanship, some very OTT features that were quite ostentatious… but then, hey, I am not complaining 🙂 Thank god for all the rich people in the past that we have so much eye candy today 🙂

cofGold Leaf Panelling and intricate work on the Ceiling

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One of the Gods of the Days of the week in Stained Glass

 

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This sculpture has two faces… One below blowing trumpets and one on top with donkey ears. There was an inscription in Latin below that when translated meant, “don’t blow your own trumpet else you will look like an arse… 😁… Cardiff Castle

Now my husband is a Piscean so obviously he is drawn to the waters. He was getting very restless that he still hadn’t got around to Cardiff Bay. So I pinged a friend who had recently visited Cardiff with her family and thank god for her help and guidance, we were able to plan our next day fairly well. We drove down to the Bay and had a beautiful morning just walking down the place. The Bay is famous for the Roald Dahl plass which is a public space or square dedicated to the memory of the Cardiff born Author Roald Dahl. The square has some great dining venues and was also the setting to quite a few episodes of Doctor Who. The Roald Dahl Plass is a beautiful building and the bay itself from anywhere that you may see makes for a fine view. We took the boat ride on the Bay which gives you the perfect opportunity to take in the history as well as the sightings of the wet natural reserve and the city, what with its onboard commentary. We take boat rides wherever possible. I find it to be one of the easiest and relaxing ways to sight see, as it gives you a totally different perspective and outlook of the place. Besides, the running commentaries on most of these boat-rides are quite good and fill you in on anecdotes, stories and facts that you may quite miss otherwise.

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The bay from the boat. The dome shaped Roald Dahl Plass

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The wet natural reserve

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Carousel Love

Once we were done with the boat ride, we decided against popular demand that we would visit the art gallery in the National Museum of Cardiff. The art gallery houses work by some of my favourite artistes’ Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir. It is because of these and some more  collection of French Art assembled by granddaughters of the wealthy industrialist David Davies bequeathed to the National Museum in the 1950s and 1960s that make Wales’s National Gallery one of international standing. It was also the first time that we got to see the works of David Nash, one of Britains most notable and important artists whose work needs to be seen to believe! His work called ‘Sculpture Though the Season’ is a beautiful depiction of his manipulation  and carving of wood.

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The Blue Lady by Renoir

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Landscape at Auvers in the Rain by Van Gogh

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This one was so internalising for some reason – David Nash

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I could look at this for hours

 

Art I have realised has its own way of expanding our minds to seamless throes of imagination and possibilities of how the human mind works. I am left spellbound to how the human mind thinks, imagines, curates and reproduces its thoughts and perspectives on materials that could be mundane in day to day lives. Be it painting, sculpture, pottery, architecture or even digital for that matter… does it not make you think that when there is such amazing ways to delve deep into the human minds through the learning and acquiring the knowledge of art, why and how is it that we attach such negation or casualness to art and spend so much of our time and ourselves to randomness, really! Art has defined ages, defined the crossover of civilisations, revolutions, various movements and campaigns… my Dad has always told us since we were kids that whenever we go visiting new places, we must make it a point to visit the museums of places, as they are the textbooks of history for our eyes. Try this next time… make it a point to visit the museum. Start with wherever you are. Local, national, international… you are going to back so much richer 🙂

Okay, so I went on a rambling trip. But yeah, that was  a snapshot of my trip to Wales. Love it, love the city of Cardiff and love the country for its views and its people. I am sure we are going back again to another part of Wales soon. Come back right here to read more. And thank you so much if you managed to stay till the last sentence here 🙂

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The Journey Inwards… Paris!

Did I wander away after my first post about Paris?! I sure did. I never got around completing it. But then Paris does that to you. Takes your heart away… meandering through the city and her lanes and her nooks and crannies and always getting overwhelmed by the imperious poise of the Iron Lady can be a bit much, actually.

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So anyway, I am here now. Well, the blog was supposed to be about my daughter and our journey of bringing her up, so I must mention how she has been taking in all of this. So well, she has been hearing from us about Paris and we always make it a point to brief her all about where we are going. My husband and I have been travelling with her since she was 21 days old and she has taken to it really well. I have to tell you this, I have done international journeys with her and domestic, and alone too with her, and she has never been a bother. Her arms always around me in amusement, awe, surprise, delight and wonder. It’s awesome having the Little Lady all excited wanting to travel 🙂

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So, anyway, we booked our Eiffel Tour for the next morning slot as that was the only one available as we had a jam packed day after that. And unfortunately for us (or so we thought), that we could get tickets only till the second floor and not till the top. So we were sad, and verry sleepy and even verrrryyy coollddd… but Tour De Eiffel had to be done. So we reached at 7am for a 7:45 slot. But can you believe what happened… while we were all grumpy that we couldn’t go till the top, while we waited, my husband showed us the top of the Eiffel from where we were waiting for the Tour Guide, and the Eiffel was covered till almost half of herself in fog and it was predicted to be fogged out for the entire week after that… oh dear!!!!!! Weren’t we glad we were going till the second floor 🙂  We called our parents, my husband and I while we stood below the Eiffel and as we went up her structure and video called them so they could be a part of our journey while we were taking in the entire experience. Thank God for mobile phones and internet.

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Oh Eiffel, aren’t you just beautiful!

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And oh Paris, what a beautiful Girl you got there 🙂 Doesn’t she dress you up just so amazingly well. She has stood the ravages of time… she has witnessed a new Paris develop and grow… she has brought lovers together… she has given respite to many… she has inspired countless others… she has reunited hearts and helped create memories… she has made many proud.. she has been the Lady that everyone dreams of… Strong and Poised, Elegant and Assertive.

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Once we came down the Eiffel Tower, we made our way to the Arc De Triumph… but unfortunately we could only see her from the outside. There was a long, snake of a queue that seemed endless and we had our tickets booked for the Louvre. So, we had to break away from there and we rushed to the Louvre. All the time, my brother kept guiding us about how to, where to, when to… aah, he saved us precious time 🙂

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Now, here is a tip… unless you really are on a leisurely trip to Paris, most people and trust me when I say, most people go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci and again trust me, if you start from the ground floor, you are gonna need an entire day and you will still not be done and you will have to dismantle your legs and keep them in the cupboard and forget all about them. And although we were already in that position by walking all over DisneyLand two days before that and the soles of our feet were burning, we did the Louvre our way 🙂 We headed straight to the third floor where the Mona Lisa is kept and we started the Louvre tour from there. Again, the gallery in which she sits, has innumerable masterpieces and you just cannot overlook any of them. Each more exquisite than the other and you wonder, how much more beautiful can the Mona Lisa be if these are all this good.

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But then, again, Mona Lisa is Mona Lisa. She is not the over the top stunner. She is not screaming for attention. She is just like Eiffel. Poised, intense, mysterious and grand, simple and fluid… Mona Lisa draws you in, compels you to look beyond the face, takes you to the moment in your head to when the Maestro was painting her and try to imagine why she smiled, what made her smile or is she really smiling. Be totally prepared to be caught unawares in a room full of people with no inch space as she sits behind a bullet proof glass and the crowds gather to see her and you get a gooooooddddd 15 seconds on the clock to feel all that you wish you could feel when you stood before her 🙂

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After having done with the selfie and the groupie and the solo with Monalisa :-), we finaly headed to see the entire Louvre. Like I said, Moina trudged along, squatting sometimes in the galleries, questioning sometimes, wowwwwwiiinnggg all the time… it just took us one more painting and one more statue to make her forget her burning feet and paining legs… she would squeal, and her eyes all big and round with amusement. The Egyptian level was her most favourite what with Egyptian Civilization being on her syllabus. She could relate to it and she went all bonkers with all the details and information.

 

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Oh, we were still not done for the day. From the Louvre, we ran like crazy for our cruise on the River Seine. In the dusk with all the lights lit up everywhere and the Eiffel all aglow, what a sight was River Seine. The witness to history, the true custodian of Paris, the real spine of Paris. You can see how the city revolves around her…is designed around her, her true reflections found in the numerous artistes that line her streets, be it poets, romantics, philosophers, criminals… they all found heart in her 🙂 As we cruised on the River Seine and saw the Eiffel in all her grandness, you realise how much of everything in the beautiful and historical City of Paris is imperious, big, making a statement and yet poised and beautiful, creating history, giving voice… to revolutionaries then and now.

That was a great day. We had missed our lunch that so by the time we got out of the Louvre, we were famished. It was already evening. So we headed straight to dinner to this beautiful and buzzing cafe called Castel Cafe. It’s very close to the Eiffel but not very expensive. The most pleasing staff and very delicious food. We gorged on some very tasty grilled chicken, bolognese pasta and crepes 🙂 We were now happy souls with tummies full, weary legs, aching bodies but hearts full of history, art, warmth, beauty and bagful of stories to tell.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this. I just have one more post to write about Paris before I can move on to life as it happens 🙂

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Paris

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She needs no adjectives. She needs no poems. She needs no introductions. No new effort by me to top anyone’s impression about Paris. Paris is what Paris is and this is how I felt her.

As we drove in to the city from Disneyland, we were met with nothing but traffic and motorists, graffitis on the subways and buildings everywhere. Trust me, it felt nothing like the picture we had in our head. And if you have lived your better part of the life in Mumbai (literally the Mega City of India), the concrete jungle anywhere in the world fails to leave an impression. So we were muttering under our breath as to what we were to see… coz’ unlike Edinburgh, York, Chester or for that matter even London, Paris felt New! Brand New!! And all the while my brother, who has been to Paris a couple of times before, kept calling us up and telling us, “Absorb Paris. Let Paris get under your skin. Feel her. Absorb her.” And we were just not getting it…

First Sightings

…Till we reached the inner roads leading into the city from where we first laid our eyes on her… SHE… is magnificent. Opulent. Imperious. Graceful. Strong yet Petite. She is lyrical and poetic and a historical witness… all in one. SHE… The Iron Lady… The gorgeous lace of steel… The Eiffel Tower. And when we reached our hotel, we could see some more of her. Just outside the main gate of the hotel, we could see her… right there… standing tall… making her presence felt… like a custodian or guardian… like a lady who knows of her beauty but chooses not to express it … and mind you, there is so much more power in the beauty that does not speak of itself.

Wherever we went we could see her. Okay, not from everywhere in the city, but most places.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Our next stop the same day was Notre Dame Cathedral and somehow we ended up getting into the entrance that wasn’t the  main door. It so happened that we entered the cathedral through to the door which took us to the bell tower.

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The Bell 

Now ideally we would have been really excited…we usually are about seeing all things old to the world and new to us  😊 but somehow this time we landed up completely unprepared. So anyway, as we went up the Bell Tower, it was just like what you would call, a tower 😊 A long winding flight of stairs that just went circling inside the tower and there was no way to find out how many steps you were gonna climb up or how many floors coz you just couldn’t see all the way up. It was one blind circle-y kind of flight of stairs. Only one person at a time… and the claustrophobic soul that I am, I started to feel my heart in my mouth coz I didn’t know where we were headed and how much higher. But anyway, we finally reached after what seemed like my lungs would burst open, level one from where you get a great view of the gargoyles and the city… but then you climb another almost 150 stairs up to go further up. I stopped at the first level after climbing 240 steps and my daughter and husband went further up. It is definitely worth the try to go all the way up for the magnificent view of the city…

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The Gargoyles up Close

but hey, if you are claustrophobic or not used to a lot of exercise or have the fear of heights… please do not try. It’s not that the steps are a lot… I have done 800 steps to and fro… but it’s the way the tower is built that it actually gets too close for comfort.

 

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Beautiful Beautiful Paris from the top of the Notre Dame

Once we were down, we walked a little bit ahead to finally see the main entrance and then we laughed so hard for missing that 😊 but anyways, it was worth the effort and we said we would do the cathedral again before we left Paris coz, you just cannot leave Paris without seeing the beautiful Rose windows of the Notre Dame. Which when we came back for was STUNNING.

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Notre Dame Entrance

 

 

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When you do visit Paris, you just must take your time to look around the Cathedral. The stain glass rose windows are beautiful. It is so well worth the wait in the winding queue which we did at -2 degrees.

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Beautiful Rose Windows

 

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And then once you are done, you come out and walk down to  a small stall outside the restaurant to a lady who sells the most amazing mulled wine.  You are gonna love.

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I have more to share about the Iron Lady herself, but then that just has to wait for the next post.

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Disney – The World’s Best Imagineer!

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Entering the Dreamland

Paris!!! Long been on our list and I am sure it’s on everybody’s list. Somehow, a freak chance of holidays, some discount vouchers, and some desperate need to get out and about made us plan for Paris. But as luck would have it, just as we completed our entire process of booking everything, hotels and Disneyland, visa etc., we started hearing about the gilet jaunes or the Yellow Vest Movements and the civil unrest in France. Oh dear, how we passed those days in sheer distress and worries.. the unrest pics all over the media looked horrific. A lot of money was invested in the bookings and logistical preparations, we wanted to go and the look of it all was quite scary. But soon we realised that the demonstrations were talking place only on Saturdays and my husband and my family persisted that we must just continue. So we did. And… may I say, we are so glad we decided to carry on with the trip.

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Childhood 🙂

We left for Paris on 24th December, 2018 early morning at 2am. Thankfully my little one is used to travelling a lot, is a real sport. Whatever the oddest of hours maybe, she is super excited to join in the fun and really likes to take it all in. Our flight was at 6am and  as soon as we landed in Paris, we headed straight to Disneyland. My brother and sister in law were constantly guiding us over the phone about the commute, the conveyance etc. as they had been there before and it was great.

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Disneyland Paris, although the name. is not in Paris and is almost 50 miles outside the city and also away from Charles De Gaulle Airport. Thank god for Uber, the drive was great. Soon after checking in to the hotel, we scooted off for the park.

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Main Street at Night

 

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Giant Fairy Lights… Would you still call them Fairy Lights?! 🙂

And boy, were we excited when we reached. It was awesome! awesome!! awesome!!! A sea of people, literally, what it being the peak time to visit Disney, despite the bone chilling cold. It was -1 degree and not one soul was deterred. It was such a happy place. Adults and kids, all excited. May be the adults were more excited.

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Now, if only that Cake was real

 

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The Ever After Story Book

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Christmas Day before the Parade

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Snow White’s Palace

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The Mouseketeer With his Mouse

As soon as you step into the park, you can literally see that one man’s dream of creating a joyous place for everyone. WALT DISNEYThe best Engineer of Imaginations…The Best IMAGINEER Ever!!!

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The Prince and The Princess of all Fairytales

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I have to tell you… the two days we spent in Disneyland, were probaly the two days of worryless I have ever been. It was just fun and rides, lights and songs, dances and performances and costumes and fun eats and throngs of kids and people from all over the world… we met a few people who had travelled all the way from Guatemala to celebrate Christmas in Disneyland.

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My husband and daughter went for all the rides (I am one crazy fearful chick) so while I looked they had a great time. I am so surprised at my daughter’s personality. I used to think she is a shy child. And may be not into thrills or anything. But this trip was such a revelation. I got to see my child from a new perspective. I was conscious that I did not want to rub off my fear of rides and thrills on her. She accompanied her father everywhere and took in the entire experience. And she lovvveeeddd ittt 🙂

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Miniature Castles and Palaces from all the Fairy Tales

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Miniature Castles and Palaces from all the Fairy Tales

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Miniature Castles and Palaces from all the Fairy Tales

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Miniature Castles and Palaces from all the Fairy Tales

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Miniature Castles and Palaces from all the Fairy Tales

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Miniature Castles and Palaces from all the Fairy Tales

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Sea of people from all over the world

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We got to see the Disney Special Christmas Parade of all the characters, special performaces by the characters on the occasion of Christmas and most importantly the absolutely stunning, mind blowing fireworks.

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The Tree at Night

I am telling you, no one does it better than Disney! For the brief two days, we forgot all our worries, our stresses, our worklife etc. I am telling you, we all owe ourselves at least one Disneyland trip in our lifetimes. It could be anywhere in the world, be it Paris, Hong Kong or in the US… you just gotta do this… you owe it to your childhood. We are all just grown up versions of our childhood and the dreams are all alive, tucked away under our skin and the deluge of adulthood. But try, you will not be disappointed.

And how was my Paris trip?! That definitely needs another post 🙂

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A Little More of Wales…

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Walk on the Promenade

Our second day in Wales… Holyhead to be specific. We had only half a day before we could drive back home. So we had to make a choice between what we could manage to see that day and what we could give amiss. We had to choose between Holyhead Breakwater Country Park or take a mini cruise trip to the Puffin Islands or see the Beaumaris Castle. We decided to skip the Country Park.. coz’ as much as we wanted to do that… the cruise and the castle was on our way back home. So we decided on that one.

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No, I can’t caption this 🙂

Also, there was one more thing. I do not quite remember how or when, but sometime in my years as a student studying for my post graduate degree, I would have studied for the various General Knowledge questions while appearing for a Central Examination. Amongst them, I vaguely remembered that there was something called the longest place name. Now I did not quite know how or why, but just before we left for the trip, I started Googling (Now that’s a word I never thought I would write or say) and holy smokes!!! I found the longest place name in Europe right here in Wales and of course it was one of the longest place names in the world. And also, by golly, it was right there on our way home, like no detour or anything!

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The name with the translation

I asked my husband if we could stop there. I promised him we won’t spend any more time other than geo-tagging myself there (so shallow you think)…but I don’t know why, I just wanted to go there and mark myself as having visited something that I had studied as a young girl.  The husband was the sweetest and he obliged 😊 We did do a small photo shoot right there at the railway station, in front of all the 58 characters of the English Alphabet but sounding oh so different 😊 … The longest place name in Europe was pretty much a PR exercise and as an erstwhile PR professional, this caught my fancy, If you are more keen to know about the name, visit here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

And if you want to know how to pronounce it, there is one weatherman who totally rocked it and you can find him here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHxO0UdpoxM

 

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Beautiful Beaumaris

Anyway, after a quick drive around the place, we drove down to get our mini cruise, but as luck would have it, the weather was rough that day and all cruises had been cancelled. So without wasting any more time, we just went over to Beaumaris Castle, which is just a five minute walk from the promenade. Beaumaris Castle… a castle that could have pretty much been the perfect castle had it been completed… not as imperious as the many castles that you get to see all over England; but definitely beautiful. You can see why it is described so.

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The Castle that was almost perfect 

It is symmetrical, it’s got moat, towers, gatehouses and is beautifully concentric. A must visit for all architecture buffs… no wonder it is listed as one of the world heritage sites. After going in and around the castle, we just came out and sat on the grass, near the moat, as the view was gorgeous… almost right out of an English storybook!

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Colours of the Cosy Season

 

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Walk on Walls @Beaumaris

 

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Isn’t she gorgeous?!

 

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The paddocks in the distant

 

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We sat right under that canopy 🙂

 

The day was beautiful and we had the best and quietest moment in a long while. I could have sat there forever… even if it meant not talking to anyone. Just sit… in the lap of nature… absorbing it all, in unison, to the earth.

But then, the tummies growled and the clock ticked another two hours, reminding us of a school run the next day. So we rushed to one of the best reviewed fish and chips takeaway called Seawave. We literally gobbled up our lunch and then as a final trudge-along on the promenade, we took some more pics and headed home.

I cannot say how much we loved the trip. It was beautiful. With the right amount of time that we spent everywhere… yes we skip[ed some sightings, but then hey, life is not about getting everything, isn’t it?!

We are definitely coming back for the rest of Wales, soon 😊 Like I said, Wales, you have my heart.

 

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Wales ❤

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