Monday, September 01, 2014

lishbon

It's been a long time since my dormant travel bug tickled my toes.

And Lisbon, what a lovely city! You don't hear much about Lisbon in the grand spectrum of European cities. Most people go to Barcelona or Rome or Paris for long weekend breaks. But the Portuguese capital started to make its way onto the pages of travel magazines a year or two ago.

It is the most underrated city I've been to. I think. It's not completely overrun with tourists, the avenues and streets are wide and walkable (all covered in white cobbles - not a street or pavement is without the smooth cobbles. I did trip and fall on face, sure, but whatever), and the people love children.

Women, men and children would swoop in and touch Sebastian wherever we went, and were so accommodating in restaurants and while we travelled. We walked with him everywhere, up and down streets, all over town basically. My little boy was a (mostly) lovely traveller - very relaxed, even stretching across our laps during the flight there,to sleep.
(Beginner's luck?)

The flight back deserves its own post.

Anyway. The weather was perfect. About 28 degrees, stark and sunny - about the average temperature I enjoy most. Sebby could wear his summer clothes a bit longer, while me and the Brit ran around scantily-cladded.

I managed to reverse all the work I have done on my diet, via the medium of 'pasteis de nata', those criminally-good custard tart thingies the Portuguese make so well. We went to the original cafe where the initial recipe was sown by nuns. Seriously.

We slotted them like biscuits, fresh and crispy from the oven. I can't really describe how tasty these were, so I won't.
But I will say this: never in my life has I tasted something so crispy and crunchy, and yet so buttery and smooth all at once. Dusted in cinnamon, warm from the oven's embrace..... No wonder Cafe de Belem sells 20 000 of those bad boys a day. (And at 1 euro a tart, they're dong OK....)

We ordered Portuguese food in, loitered by the pool on top of our apartment, meandered through gardens and tiny streets.

We took Seb on buses, on the metro, everywhere. The little lad's mind must have been blown a few times.

Anyway, enough talking, more pictures. Lisbon is hands down a wonderful city, well worth a visit. It's small enough to walk around over a few days, the weather is amazing, there are beaches nearby and I believe it has a cracking nightlife.
(One area we couldn't partake in, was the night vibe in Bairro Alto where I was told that the streets become awash with bucket-sized mojitos. Next time.)



 Many buildings are covered top to bottom in tiles.
 Arco de Augusta

 The secret-recipe pasteis de Belem in process.
 Look at this thing.

 Oh ja. I bought a new set of 'fun' shades. They're red velvet Ray Ban reflectors, cue right. I haven't been in a duty free for a while. It shows, doesn't it.
 The Cafe de Belem hall - filled with snacking tourists!
 My heart melts.
 No trip to Portugal would be complete without a dish of grilled sardines.




 Portuguese windows
 My sunglasses can reflect everything within a 20 mile radius.
 Standard pavement view.
Mother and boy child statue.
 Our pool with Lisbonic [sic] views
 Cocks.

 Seb's bath time in the sink. Not overly impressed.
 Husband and views


 Ifound an old friend - at a 'museu de cerveja', a 'beer emporium' basically. Mozambique in a sip.


 Them tiles.
 It's not quite Mediterranean...it's more sort Atlanticanean.




 Bougainvillea eeverywhere....
 Dried fish. Not keen.
 Warm in Portugal. Keen.
Our first family trip.

It was lovely to spend four glorious days, just me and my little family. So good for all of us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

lisbon

So.

Tomorrow we going to.......


{drumroll}
{first real trip as a family}
{first city break for a long time}
{first flight since October last year}
{first flight with an infant. Eeeeeeeek}
{a two and a half hour flight with an infant. Eeeek.}
{first mini-break since our babymoon in France.....when I had twins :(}

...Lisbon.

We are going to Portugal for 4 days.

Why Portugal (you ask? Or maybe you don't?) Well, why not really?

We have been before, but to the Algarve on the south coast. This time we are taking in a city, and one which comes highly underrated I believe. Great food, vibe, and as someone pointed out today, "The Portuguese are very family-oriented."

We are Air b'n b'ing it, so that we can make Sebastian's food and lounge by our own pool. Grab the last of the European rays before Autumn well and truly hits.

We are packing as we speak. Well actually, I'm typing this blog post and my husband is fiddling with some technical virtual reality gadget in our lounge.

But we have been packing for almost two hours now and still not quite there. Packing for a child is a monolithic task, let me assure you.

Travel cot, muslins, toys, enough nappies, formula just in case, milk pump, clothes, wipes, bibs, spoons, bottles, swimming trunks, suncream, hat, car seat to be attached to pram, Calpol, a towel.

And that's just his stuff.

It will be a good practice trip for when we head to South Africa in December, nonetheless. Christ only knows how much we need a change of scenery/holiday around here.

Anyway, we are looking at this as a bit of an adventure.

I just hope it's an enjoyable adventure.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

the cornershop

It was a bank holiday yesterday in the UK, and even though it was chucking it down outside, we thought we'd go and do something cool.

One thing a new parent in London doesn't have much time for: London. The galleries, the museums, the markets, the shops, and the popups.

Popups are one of the best things about London, and even though it's a very 'East London' thing, back before we had a child, we'd make the trek over there, simply because one does that.

Popups come in the form of restaurants, shops, stalls, galleries or exhibitions. It's simply a space that someone will rent for only a limited time, so when it's up, best you go before it's closed again. Apparently popups became a 'thing' not because it's hipster, but because of the recession. People  - and especially struggling artists - can't afford to rent a space permanently, so they do so for a month or two in hope they get their big break.

Anyway, you know all this already. Probably. I don't know what people know or don't know anymore, so bear with me.

We scooped up our baby and all visited an absolutely incredible popup exhibition- fuck, if only I'd thought of it myself. Tucked away a small street in Bethnal Green, the Cornershop is a full on off-license where everything inside is made entirely of felt.

Lucy Sparrow, the artist (and isn't that a delightful name?) has been all over the news, and is just so lovely too. Answers everyone's questions as they come in and gawp at the shelves of tins, packets, jars and newspapers, all beautifully sewn together in impeccable detail.

Took her seven months to make (which is kind of quick, given there are hundreds and hundreds of items - and she sells them too.)

I ordered a massive box of Kellogg's cereal, after grappling with choice - do we get a jar of Marmite or packet of Carr's water biscuits? Choice paralysis is a problem when you go there. You want everything.
It gets pulled down at the end of the week, and she then heads to New York to set up a convenience store there.
 A lot of her items have sold out, but you can order what's left online, right here.
I thought the cornflakes would make a nice pillow. For the kitchen. You know, when I need to sleep on the counter.
 The details are incredible - she got the tone and agenda right for each newspaper and magazine.



 If you blink quickly, it looks like a normal shop. Then you look a bit closer...

 Loved this.





 Seb and husband check out the ice creams.

 If I was still a smoker....

Made sure we dressed the part. It is east London after all.