Hands down the craziest experience the Barbarians have ever done: Shotover Jet in Queenstown

It’s been several years since Ms B & I visited New Zealand during one of our annual visits to see family and friends in Sydney. We were on a tight schedule and spent nearly the whole five days of our trip in Queenstown, the outdoor capital of the world. The town has a pleasant upmarket backpacker vibe to it. There is an abundance of adventure and extreme sports activities on offer, ranging from bungee jumping to downhill mountain biking and white-water rafting. Since 1965 nearly everyone (almost four million people so far) that visits town seems to end up taking a ride with the Shotover Jet on Shotover Creek, not far from the town centre. £80 per person is a bit on the pricey end of the scale for tourist activities, but it’s worth every penny. I’d happily not eat for a week or two just to be able to […]

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Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, New Retrospective, V&A

Last weekend, MrB and I went to the exhibition Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, New Retrospective, V&A (27 May 2017-18 February 2018).  I’m not a fashionista, and only knew Balenciaga from his namesake designer handbags.  I left the exhibition in awe of his skill and creativity, and grateful that he brought us designs that I can easily see myself wearing today: the baby-doll dress, the shift dress, the raglan sleeve, tunic and cocoon coat.       Cristobel Balenciaga (1895-1972) is widely acknowledged as “the designer’s designer”, and although he is not as recognisable a name as Coco Chanel or Christian Dior, there is no doubt as to his legacy and innovation.    Lovingly curated, the V&A draws on its existing collection of his pieces, the largest collection in the UK, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Spanish master’s first fashion salon in Sans Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of the opening […]

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Mayrhofen Spring Skiing in Tirol

I recently joined a friend on a one-week ski tip to Mayrhofen in Tirol, Austria… and I now have a taste for spring skiing which will be hard to quash! (Our husbands stayed in London, so it was girls-only.) Where is Mayrhofen? Mayrhofen is a town in the Zillertal (Ziller river valley) in the Austrian state of Tirol.  It took approximately an hour to reach by bus from Innsbruck, following a short 1h 45min flight from London.  The village is located between the Penken and the Ahorn mountains, and is also close to the Hintertux Glacier, the absolute highlight of my week in the Alps. The Hintertux Glacier At 3,250 metres above sea level, the Hintertux Glacier ski resort is open for business all year round, even in summer (when I may be back).      The Penken I spent most of my time skiing (i.e. taking ski lessons) on the […]

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Zigzagging through Paris on a Segway

Shortly after our visit to the Eiffel Tower, we did another tour with Flat Tire Tours, this time zigzagging through the area between the Tower, Pont Alexandre III, and the Rodin Museum (one of our top spots in Paris, which we visited directly after the Segway tour; tres romantique location, so to say).    I’m 2 metres tall and weigh over 100kg, so did at first felt rather uncomfortable entrusting my life to a wobbly, 45kg light-weight thing that sits on just two wheels and is supposed to be steered simply by me moving my heavy weight forward or backwards, left or right, on the little steering stick that is attached to the wheels and the platform between them.    The introduction and safety instruction was very short, but in Flat Tire Tours’ defence, spending more time on this would have taken the fun out of it. Nonetheless, I still […]

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Our Favourite Paris District: Le Marais

Even though we usually stay in Saint-Germain, when visiting Paris, our favourite part of town is Le Marais (“The Marsh”), the former Jewish quarter, and prior to that the home of the high nobility. We always spend at least a couple of hours sitting on a park bench or (in summer) on the lawn of Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square of the city, dating from 1612. Originally named Place Royale, it was a popular meeting point for the nobility and one of the most fashionable and expensive squares until the Revolution, when most of the nobility moved to the Faubourg Saint-Germain district, just west of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Today, the vaulted arcades house some of Paris’ best art galleries (such as Modus), cool cafes, a lovely perfume shop, and more.    We love the relaxed, laid-back, bohemian atmosphere of the Marais with its many young people, hip fashion shops, and, […]

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