Friday, 24 July 2009

Lille, France

North of Paris to a city called Lille is where I ventured to last month. As I sat on the Eurostar on the Friday night thoughts of red wine, baguettes and cheese filled my head. I hadn’t been to France in over a year and never as north as Lille… I was excited. Excited for the adventure and a chance to practice my (poor) French.

Lille is situated on the DeĆ»le River, near France's border with Belgium. This close proximity plays an intricate part of the culture and spoken dialect in Lille, finding more similarities with its neighbours than the south of France which made for an interesting experience. For starters my French skills (if you can call them that) were completely useless. I spoke English instead which made everyone’s life easier. Secondly not only is the wine really nice but the beer is fantastic, try the local selections of Ch’ti. And thirdly the mussels were delicious (so I’ve heard, I don’t like them myself!). Okay so there are only a few things…

One attraction that should not be missed and was one of my personal favorites is…Known to the locals as ‘La Piscine’ this museum of art and industry is housed in a former municipal swimming pool designed by Lille architect Albert Baert. It’s only a short metro ride away to neighbouring city Roubaix. Don’t let the exterior put you off, as inside is an exquisite example of art deco showcasing the permanent collections in the old cloakrooms, shower cabinets and pool itself.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bikram Yoga

I’ve always wanted to try Bikram Yoga (aka Hot or Fire Yoga) but the tipping point was the introductory offer my local studio provided. Now that the price was right and my coworkers had been and loved it, I had no more excuses. I drank gallons of water in preparation (and several trips of to the loo) for my first class on Wednesday night, gathered my workout stuff and towels and headed into the 45 degree (Celsius) studio.

Classes are guided by specific dialogue, as a beginner you’re advised to stay at the back of the room so you can follow the more experienced students, as the teacher doesn’t demonstrate the poses. It includes 26 postures and two breathing exercises lasting roughly 90 minutes.

First impressions – it’s freakin’ hot!! My breathing became difficult and you’re advised to not drink water for the first 20 minutes to help your body acclimatize to the weather, I found it quite difficult! Request of ‘ignore the sweat’ came across the microphone w/ me murmuring: ‘it’s stinging my eyeballs pls lord let me use the towel’; especially when doing the Dandayamana - Bibhaktapada – Janushirasana pose (thanks Wikipedia for your help on that one!). Brikram Yoga is definitely a challenge yet the poses aren’t difficult, the difficulty lies in maneuvering them in the heat. Every session is a different experience as your body is different every time. As much I loved complaining about the heat and the sweat one thing was for certain: I felt good. Really good. My posture was improving and muscles I didn’t even I know had were hurting – in a good way! I’d highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already.

We're Back!

Hi all, we’re back!! Sorry for the short hiccup….what can we say? It’s SUMMER TIME and we’ve been enjoying ourselves. Plus aren’t we all just a little bit busier in the warmer months – what with all the cottage and city breaks, holidays and weddings planned. Hopefully you haven’t missed us too much.