Tag Archives: Travel

Weekend in Luxembourg

This week has been one of good omens, or coincidences, which ever you prefer. At the weekend me and the husband were discussing some of our favourite trips, and Luxembourg came back into the conversation – we travelled there for a gig just under 2 years ago to see DJ Shadow. We’ve made city breaks for gigs a bit of thing now, but especially since moving to Oxford where a lot of bigger bands don’t play, particularly non-UK based bands: they’ll often play London and Manchester and sometimes Glasgow. Travelling to London started becoming an unwelcome expense – not just the travel, which sometimes included a horribly basic hotel or having to get a late night coach home that takes 2hrs, but also drinks being incredibly overpriced (£5 for a very bland lager sir, single vodka and redbull that’ll be £9 madam etc..). So we made a concious decision to start travelling, to gigs especially to cities we’ve not visited before and bonus if the venue is just that side of smaller and more intimate.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist at den Atelier

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist at den Atelier

So that is how Luxembourg came about initially, it also helped that at the time I had a fair amount of nectar points that can be exchanged for easyjet flights making the weekend even cheaper. We saw DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist in den Atelier, a really cool intimate venue where you could pretty much see the stage from anywhere, it felt like the crowd was probably only 500 people, but according to their website they can accommodate up to 1200, but it felt like seeing them in a small club.

So the day after we’d been talking about how nice Luxembourg was, another favourite band Interpol* announced a European tour, with UK dates in Manchester and London. So we checked out where else they were playing and narrowed it down to Copenhagen and Luxembourg (both weekend dates). After a quick search it was clear that Luxembourg was going to be the cheapest option by far, so to cut this rambling short: exactly 2 years to the day we saw Interpol play in Amsterdam, we booked tickets to see them in Luxembourg. Also the same day a blog post about Luxembourg came up on my feed, so it felt like all the signs were there.

So two years later, I’m going to tell you about my favourite things in Luxembourg, as it seems I never bothered to blog at the time!

The first thing we did was pick up at Luxembourg Card similar to city cards, its actually valid for the whole country, getting you into many attractions and exhibits for free and to be honest is actually a lot cheaper than most other city cards. We picked up a 2 day card and definitely got some good use out of it just with Luxembourg city. It also includes public transport in the price making it super easy to get around and we actually managed to make it to at least 5 attractions over the 48 hours as I recall (would’ve been 6 but the Bock du Casemates is closed in winter).

mirrors with the worrds Rectum Newt Racoon in a large gallery space with a woman in front taking a self portait with wooden crates in the background

Rectum Newt Racoon – Self portrait in front of sculptures by David Altmejd

These included the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM) a contemporary art museum where the building itself is as impressive as the art it holds (€7) and the next door fortress Museum Dräi Eechelen (€5), Casino Luxembourg (which is now free, but was I think the standard €5) which was full of typography and graphic design. Not to mention the historical Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg (€5), Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art (€7) and Villa Vauban – Luxembourg City Art Museum (€5) ~ it’s worth noting that some of these venues we probably wouldn’t have bothered going to without the card, and I’m glad we did because they were in stunning buildings with loads of history. It was good to see art and artefacts that were outside of our usual tastes, and of course all these venues meant seeing parts of the city that we might otherwise have ignored due to the comfort of staying within a certain walking radius. If you have the means and will to go further afield there are breweries and swimming pools and other stuff included in your Luxembourg card that is valid up to 3 days, worth noting the days don’t have to be consecutive either – so if you want to spend a day doing museums, a day travelling or doing nothing, then another day doing something then that’s ok – you just fill out the days you actually use the card.

Luxembourg is also home to a what I was going to simply say, a delightful park to walk along that follows the flow of the river, particularly from where we were based close to the Rue Dr Charles Marx, it was a nice walk into the centre via the infamous Adolphe bridge  but as the Luxembourg website says so much more eloquently “Laid out along more romantic lines, the Pétrusse Parks combine steep slopes, strange rock formations and the ruins of fortifications and bastions to form a harmonious unit”

the blue painted metal Adolphe Bridge, viewed from a distance surrounded by green vegetation and trees

Adolphe Bridge, Luxembourg City

Other things to do include the Notre Dame cathedral, maybe not as impressive as it’s Paris counterpart but still a beautiful church, very close to the gold lady war memorial. In the same area is the Place Guillaume II which has a few statues and the surrounding streets are very picturesque.

So after all this we’re very excited to return, particularly as it will be high summer, rather than winter, so we’d  love to hear any more tips of what to do in the comments!

*not just a favourite band, but a band touring their first album, of which several songs were ‘our songs’ early on in our relationship so actually hold a really special place in our hearts

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Blog Challenge: Location Independence

Day 9 of the 10 day challenge, it’s nearly over and this challenge is possibly tortuous. Imagine you’re on a long holiday in your dream destination and describe how you’d get your work done. First of all, making me day dream of somewhere fantastic by the sea that’s warm, but not too hot, quiet, and surrounded by compelling scenery is quite possibly one of the meanest things you could do on what must be the wettest day here in Oxford for over 2 months. A lovely, wet, soggy reminder that Autumn is well on the way (a total contrast to the scorchio end of last week where it still felt like mid-August!).

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I’m going to transport myself back to the picturesque town of Cavtat in Croatia where I spent two glorious weeks this summer. However for my dream blog post I’ll do things a little different. If I was here to work as well as play, I’d wake early and head out to capture some landscape shots during golden hour, and some town shots whilst the streets are mostly empty. Then I’d have breakfast on our apartment balcony whilst catching up with the news. After breakfast I’d plan some easy going trips as you don’t want to be too much in the midday sun – air conditioned art galleries can be the perfect place to visit when it’s hot outside. Late afternoon I’d likely chill out by the pool catching up on some reading. After dinner there’d be more photo opportunities as the sun sets then evening is when I’d start working on some images on the computer.

I suppose the point this post has hammered home, is the need to plan your day effectively to maximise what you want to get out of it, which I have been doing since starting this challenge. And by keeping my MIA’s to 3 (most important actions) tops, I’ve found that I actually achieve my goals for the day, rather than going to bed stressed because I’ve only done 4 things out of 10 for example (because I’ve chosen unrealistically).

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9

Blog Challenge: Creating a vision for the future

Today is more difficult, I’m supposed to write my perfect day from waking up to going to sleep. Thing is, I don’t really know what makes a perfect day, I know what makes a good day, so after reading through some other people’s responses, I think I’ll attempt something maybe not perfect but as close to as I can manage.

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The perfect viewing spot, Cafe des Nattes, Tunisia

So I awake early, like 6am – and I don’t feel like turning the alarm on snooze, I spring out of bed, get dressed and go for a run. It’s sunny, but fresh and there’s an amazing sunrise on the horizon. I make it home in time to get showered and changed and head back out with my camera to photograph things in the sun’s rays. I make it home for brunch and do some writing and spend the afternoon processing the photos I’ve taken (in my perfect life, I never had a massive back log).

I have dinner with my husband and then we either chill out with a good book, or go to see a band perform before heading to bed.

Seems like I only want a few simple things from life after all.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

Blog Challenge: Discovering your WHY

Day 2 of this blog challenge was a bit more difficult to respond to, as the question is why you want to live the freedom lifestyle, ie the lifestyle mentioned in yesterday’s post. I always stumble when asked why I take photographs, partly because I’ve had people ask me incredulously  (and sometimes aggressively) ‘what are you photographing that for?’ because they don’t see the beauty or interesting nuances of what you’re photographing the thing you are (mind you, the situation that springs to mind most of all was way before facebook and selfies and instagram took off). Or the other situation is that it can feel incredibly clichéd to say, that I find certain things beautiful and want to share them with other people, or evoke a certain feeling in people when they look at your art. But it’s true, much I guess the same reasons that people feel the need to write stories, or even blog posts, because they want to share something and hope that other people have a response.

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Hall of Taste at the House of Bols, Amsterdam.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite photos I’ve taken in recent years, in the Bols Museum. Seeing the inside of this museum on the internet was one of the reasons that Amsterdam moved up my travel list, and I was not left disappointed.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2

Five Fab Coffee Shops in Oxford

When I first had this idea for a blog post, I only had three coffee shops to recommend. Thankfully since then I’ve A. explored a bit more and B. a new coffee shop opened adding to the list. I’m in no way a coffee aficionado, in fact my favourite tipple is a latte – but it’s also one of the coffee types that is more often made incorrectly. How many people are thinking eurgh a latte is just a milky coffee? If you are, you’d be wrong, or perhaps a customer of several high street chains, who just throw in extra milk to make a drink medium or large: a good latte is all about having the right ratio of coffee to milk and so few places seem to get this even close to right.

Like all lists, this is by no means comprehensive or finite. It’s my list of places to go first and foremost for quality of the coffee, service, and atmosphere – and I’d love to hear your suggestions to expand the list!

1. Joe Perks – 76 St Clement’s St, Oxford OX4 1AH

28587369230_772ba17e18_oProbably known more for their cocktails and dogs (although as I finished this post, I got wind that the dogs were gone, in place of a much fancier menu), their attention to detail is on point with everything. After my first coffee here, I was heard sighing “why are they not closer to where I live/work/the centre of Oxford”.

2. The Missing Bean Roastery Cafe – 1 Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, OX4 1RE

The place where beans are roasted for the Missing Bean Cafe on Turl Street, where you can pick up your weekly supply of freshly roasted coffee, try a new blend or pick up a wee treat from A Rosie Life Pop Up Shop. They are also proponents of reusable takeaway coffee cups which gets a big thumbs up from me.

3. Barefoot Cafe – 74a, Walton Street, OX2 6EA

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What not to love? apart from the great coffee, the absolutely beautiful cafe, there’s also the super amazing cake! Their loyalty card (collect 9 stamps to get a freebie) gives you a stamp for each coffee or cake. During the recent heatwave, they served me with a coffee with cold milk, I found it way more refreshing than an iced latte, I may be converted. Oh, did I mention that the cake is great? I recently tried the courgette cake and it lasted 3 sittings – immense! Don’t even get me started on the bread….

4. Brew – 75B Banbury Rd, Oxford OX2 6PE

Ok so technically listed as Banbury Road, the entrance is on North Parade – not to be confused with the further north, South Parade. North Parade is a small shopping street, ull of independant delights and regularly closes to traffic to hold their street market. They have this amazingly fancy copper.. coffee machine? (maybe it just heats the water, I really don’t know), and also a record player so you can pick your own tunes if you’re lucky enough to grab one of the handful of seats.

5. Delicatessen Cafe – 42B Abingdon Rd, OX1 4PE

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I don’t even know what this cafe is actually called – it’s not listed on google or any where else that I can find on the internet and the address I’ve given is for the hairdressers next door. I stumbled upon this place during Artweeks 2015 and it stuck in my mind. There’s also a good selection of weekend papers to browse whilst you’re there.

So these are my top 5 coffee places in Oxford, all a short walk from the city centre, and coincidentally, all independent businesses – what are you recommendations? I appreciate that not everyone wants to walk outside the city centre just for a brew, so another alternative from high street chains could be Oxford’s own mini-chain Taylors. They have two cafes on the high street (one at either end), and two on the opposite corners of Little Clarendon Street/Woodstock Road. My preference is the high street ones, top tip – a large coffee on the high street is the same size/price as a medium at the Clarendon Street outlets.

Bout of books day 1-2

So today’s reading has been interesting to say the least. My usual peaceful commute via bus into Oxford was disturbed by someone’s phone screeching out bagpipes music for the most of it.

Currently I’m trying to finish ‘The Art of Travel’ which I started during the Dewey’s readathon, however the current chapter on the Lake District and Wordsworth is boring me slightly meaning I’m finding it hard to push through…

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Updating a day later, and it’s finished – here’s my brief ‘review’ from Goodreads

“One of those books where I’m kicking myself I didn’t read it earlier, it was everything I expected and more. Split into sections prefixed with ‘On’ such as On Anticipation or On the Sublime, each one with a little grid that displays the place(s) and the guide (s) that will be your travelling companions in that chapter. Looking at reasons why people started travelling, and why, and why people go where… there was only one chapter that I didn’t like (I absolutely hated in fact) which was the one with the Lake District (place) with Wordsworth (guide), as I don’t really like either. Kind of funny that my reasons for not liking the lakes were echoed in this book, around pre-conceptions.
Absolute must read for anyone interested seeing whilst travelling. “

This book has given me so much more to think about /research in relation to my art/photography work based on travel. The section on the Sublime had some interesting quotes from Edward Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, that excited me so much I’ve already ordered it from Amazon, in a month I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any excessive books (but I had a voucher so that makes it ok right?).

So after finishing on that high note today, it was straight onto We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a perfect readathon book, given that it was so quick to read (probably under 40 minutes). Based on a TED talk she gave a few years ago, she talks about her personal experiences in Nigeria, of women not being equal, about male friends who’ve not realised that equality is not yet ‘there’ until it’s slapped them in the face. I’d recommend this to everyone.

More on That Iceland…

Shameless plug klaxon!

One of the photographs I’m exhibiting as part of Oxford Artweeks’ in May is this image of Lómagnúpur. It’s definitely one of my personal favourites as it shows the rich colours of the Icelandic landscape, draped in black, green and gold.

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An additional opportunity to exhibit at Oxford Town Hall is through a competition being run by the Poseytude Gallery entitled ‘Change The World’ which asks for works that reflects changes in the world today:

We live in a changing and ever more challenging world. Our environment and resources are being depleted and nature with the elements of air, wind, fire and water is testing us. Our countryside is being reduced due to meet rising population and seaside being eroded due to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns….What would you want to remind people of the beauty of our planet? Tell us through your art medium and briefly in your words how we can use or be inspired by it to make a change.

The top 8 artworks in each category through voting on social media will be exhibited, with judges decided the top three and there are prizes for those but honestly, just the thought of exhibiting in such an amazing venue would be prize enough. So I’m asking my lovely followers to consider voting for my photo (and you can re-vote every 24 hours!), I’m currently in 12th position, overall but no idea how I’m doing in my category, voting ends on the 24th April.

We also had to provide a blurb to go with our artwork (see below). I decided to submit one of my Icelandic landscapes partly because I’ve been following with interest the ongoing  subject of the Icelandic Highlands. If you’re a fan of Iceland or Bjork you can’t fail to have missed the events to promote awareness of the potential destruction of some of Iceland’s unspoilt nature in favour of power plants, there is now a campaign to turn the highlands into a national park.

Lómagnúpur
Iceland is famous for its outstanding natural beauty which attracts hundreds of thousands visitors each year. However this doesn’t stop the threat of destruction to nature, in particular the Icelandic highlands which have limited protection, the government has plans to build power plants and erect power lines, potentially destroying large areas of nature. Here is Lómagnúpur, part of a protected national heritage site in Iceland, an example of the nature that could be destroyed.
So if you feel like giving my photo a vote the link is here* and if you want to find out more about the Icelandic Highlands click here and sign the petition   here !**
*although the competition takes you to facebook, you don’t need facebook to enter, just a valid email address
** Google chrome recommended for translating stuff