Have you been reading Megan’s account of her trip to Europe, over at Not Martha? She and her husband, Scott, travelled to Paris for a holiday and she’s been writing about their experiences of exploring the city.
They caught the Eurostar over from Paris to stay with us here in Nottingham for a few days, and it was a lot of fun. I knew it would be fun to have them to visit, but there was an unexpected benefit in that I now have a better appreciation for both Nottingham and for England in general. When you see a place through the eyes of someone who’s never seen it before, it forces you to take note of all the little things that you’ve taken for granted over the years. I do appreciate the little spot we live in, but it turns out I have been taking for granted some aspects of British life, like vibrant, pedestrianised town centres; our supermarkets; the fact that I live in a city with a castle; and John Lewis. (Not that I take John Lewis entirely for granted, but if I were to move away, I’d miss it.) And Muji – I’m very lucky to live near a branch of Muji!
We spent time before Scott and Megan arrived planning where we could take them, but there was bad weather during their visit and so that altered things somewhat. As a result we never got to take them to Wollaton Park, with its Elizabethan hall. And we didn’t get to have afternoon tea at Langar Hall, a country house hotel with views over the Vale of Belvoir. But we did get to do a lot of other stuff – including tea and cakes at The Walk – a high-end cafe/tea room that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time. It’s the sort of place I’d been saving for a special occasion, and their visit certainly fitted the bill. And we had lunch in the cafe at Nottingham Contemporary (which I believe is managed by the same people who run The Walk, but has a completely different atmosphere). Their current exhibition is of Soviet space artwork, including a few pieces that I think the kids would call ‘mash-ups’ – of Soviet space art mixed with images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary – and the Pope. Fascinating stuff for me, a convent school girl who wanted to be an astronaut when she was a child! I heard that Nottingham design legend Paul Smith himself visited the gallery this week.
Megan’s writing about her visit to Nottingham this week: part one, part two. She’s got some good pictures of the giant spacesuit that’s on display, so do go and have a look. I was in Nottingham Contemporary again last week and one of the museum staff told me that when the exhibition closes, the spacesuit is being taken to Poland, where it will be turned into a bar!
The weather may have altered our plans in terms of where we went, but not what we ate: we stocked up on all sorts of British foods before they arrived. We got through crumpets, toasted teacakes, Marmite, Yorkshire tea, toad in the hole, spotted dick and sticky toffee pudding. Plus a lot of chocolate and some real ale – and luckily for me there was plenty of chocolate left over, so I’m working my way through it all (well, someone’s got to do it).