Thursday, 19 October 2017

An Unforgettable Experience

I heard of Parc Aquanature a few months ago and I immediately knew that we had to visit this nature reserve during Autumn. This amazing place of 80 hectares counts more than a hundred deers living in the wild in a protected area. Sounds incredible right? Well it was!

During late September/beginning of October, the males get all kinds of virile and start doing a strong noise to rally their females around them. Although we can usually walk freely all around the park, during that period the owners prefer to avoid that in case the males get uneasy. So we decided to hire one of the few off-road buggies they had to explore the whole area. We didn't regret it! Deers are afraid of people but not the buggies as they don't feel it's a threat to them and we managed to get super close!

Our camera was unfortunately struggling a bit with the light (it rained a couple of times!) but I managed to take a few cool photos ;)

We're usually limited to 1h in the buggy but we were so amazed at the sight of all the deers and little bambis jumping around that we were way too slow at the beginning! Jason was driving it and was like a kid with a new toy, sometimes driving faster on the rough path just to scare me a bit!

Now I want to come back in June next year to see all the tiny fawns that will just be born as it will be the right season. I'm so glad we found this place, and the fact that it's only 45mins away from our house is a huge advantage.

After meeting the deers, we did the 1h walk along the river heading North of the main area. The owners were telling us how beautiful it was at that time of the year so we didn't want to miss it.

The atmosphere, the humidity, the colours and landscapes... Everything made me feel like I was back in North Wales for a short moment. Honestly, it was so weird! It just reminded me of our long walks and hikes in Betws-y-Coed and in the Snowdonia valleys. I think we did well settling in Bretagne ;)

Also, I have to mention this incredible mushroom that looks like it's been taken straight out of a cartoon. I found it so cool as I'd never seen a real one like that before! The colour was as vivid in real life as it is on the photo.

Stay tuned for our next adventures or follow along on my Instagram :)

Friday, 13 October 2017

My Work Routine!

Hey guys! I’m finally taking the time to share my work routine as a freelance designer and I know some of you will be curious to see how I organise myself! Plus, I love reading other designer’s routines as it always gives me ideas on how to tweak and improve mine. Here goes!

7.20am: The alarm goes off and five minutes later, the coffee machine is brewing fresh coffee. First, thank god for programmable coffee machines, and second, smelling the fresh coffee definitely wakes me up and it prevents me from being lazy and staying too long in bed. I have to say though, if I have tight deadlines or a very busy day ahead, I usually get ready as fast as I can and as I’m more of an early bird rather than a night owl, I definitely don’t find it difficult, which is the opposite for my boyfriend Jason! These two hilarious dogs definitely represent us (I’m the one who’s wide awake, obvs).

Between 8.30 and 9am: I’m at my desk, ready to rock n roll after a hot shower and proper breakfast (very important to me). I make a point of not eating my breakfast whilst starting to work as I really like to just be switched on with no distractions. I start with my emails, making sure to keep updated all my clients, and I check my to-do list for the week. I use Google Keep to keep track of everything on my phone and I always prepare my to-do lists way in advance so that I know what I have to do without any stressing involved. Then I work hard on all the projects that are priority until lunchtime.

Around 12.30pm: FOOD! I’m always excited about food so I look forward to my lunch break everyday. If I’m super busy, I usually don’t eat until 1pm, but then my belly is making all sorts of noises so it’s no good. I try not to eat too much though as I don’t want to feel sleepy afterwards. Even if Jason and I are working in the same room, we don’t talk much whilst working unless we need an opinion or help with our respective work (he’s a freelance designer too!), so lunch break is also a good time for us to discuss everything and nothing. During this time of year, I do a big batch of homemade soup that lasts us almost the whole week. Yum!

Between 1.30 and 2pm: Back to work! Again, I always decide on which project needs more attention than others before starting and I also try to fit in some time to post on social media as early afternoon is always a good time for my Insta followers. I’m a bit more relaxed in the afternoon and don’t mind checking my phone from time to time and scroll through Twitter and Instagram for example.

4.30pm: I’m having an afternoon break, with a cup of coffee or cappuccino and a biscuit or two. I never used to have coffee in the afternoon but I’m enjoying it now that I’ve embraced my freelance life! Also, it’s because it’s nice coffee and I can’t resist :). I get away from my computer for at least 30mins and I do whatever I feel like doing. It could be sorting out the washing, watching an episode of Friends on TV, or reading a book. The aim is to have a break from work basically.

5pm: Ready to smash that to-do list! This time of day really is different depending on how busy I am. If I’ve done everything I needed to do on that day, then I work on some personal projects and blog posts, or I search for some new work/clients. But if I’m busy and still have things on my to-do list, then I work hard to finalise my designs on time and I send those last emails before the end of the day. Jason is usually still working too by that time of the day so it gives me that motivation to carry on!

7pm: I’m done! Very rarely I will carry on working after that time. By 7pm, I close my computer and I get on with what I feel like doing before starting to prepare food at around 8-8.30pm. Twice a week I try to do a workout to keep healthy, or if it’s nice outside, Jason and I go for a walk along the river down the road from our house. It’s also the best time for Jason and I to keep in touch with both our families and once a week, Jason has a Skype call with his. We also go to the cinema maybe once or twice a month and we always do our food shop on weekdays. Weekends are definitely not made for food shopping! Other than that, I’ll read a book, play around with my clay or even just crash on the sofa to watch a bit of TV if I can’t be bothered!

Weekends: We never work on weekends. We feel that working around 7 hours a day for 5 days a week is definitely enough for us. Yes, there are days when we work more like 10 hours but we try to avoid it! Plus, I definitely need the weekend to recharge the batteries, go out and explore, cook some delicious meals and just chill out. I couldn’t function anymore without my weekends off! I hear so many people on social media saying that we need to ‘hustle’ every minute of the day, every day of the week, but I couldn’t do this. To me, life is not just about work so I guess it depends on people’s priorities :)

Do you guys agree? Or do you have a completely different routine? Let me know what you think!

Friday, 6 October 2017

Beau Rivage

We went to Beau Rivage at the Lac Guerlédan a little while back now, but as it was during a grey and cold day for the time, I felt it was more suitable to share it now! We were on our way to the light and sound show at the Abbaye de Bon Repos and thought it would be a good idea to explore a bit more of the area.

It rained a little bit, and there was hardly anyone there, but we managed to go for a walk alongside the lake and took in the great views from certain points on the rivage. A few photos below!

It was such a nice peaceful moment and even though we wished it was sunnier, it really helped us just relax during a crazy period in our life.

We're hoping to be able to visit the Aquanature park this weekend to see some deers in the wild, fingers crossed we'll manage! What are you up to this weekend?

Monday, 2 October 2017

Wallpaper Giveaway - Create Things & Pay Bills

When Jason and I went freelance last year in the space of two months (yes, we're crazy like that), we knew everything about the challenges it involved and one of them was definitely money. Money might not make you happy, but it pays for your home, bills, food, fuel, and a bunch of useful stuff (thank god we already had our own computers before making this big move).

But because we put enough money aside to prepare for it and that our lifestyle and choices mean that we're the kind of people that don't need much, we definitely didn't want to just concentrate on money.

We're both passionate about our work and really, all we want to do since then is to create things, have happy clients, and essentially, pay our bills. We don't want to be rich, or famous, or have expensive stuff (our home is 50% pre-owned / 50% homemade), we just want to have a life that we enjoy and to put enough money aside to be able to travel from time and time and one day (very far away), buy a house.

I'm sure we're not the only designers out there who think like that so I thought I would make a set of wallpapers to represent this simple, humble thought! I started off with a simple sketch but felt that it was missing something. So when I created it digitally, I went with the flow and had fun adding little elements on the lettering and around it. Hope you like it!


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

What I miss & don't miss from the UK!

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while will know that I used to live in North Wales, which I think is one of the best parts of the world. After living there for more than 5 years, I came back last Christmas (stealing my boyfriend Jason from his family!), and after a short time staying at my parents around Nantes, we moved to Bretagne for a calmer, simpler life in April.

It’s really funny because I remember a conversation that I had with my friends Laura & Ben (hello there, hope you’re reading this post!) a few years back, finding it hard to find anything that was better in the UK than in France. I guess I didn’t experience the British life enough at that point, and also, now that I’m back in the country I was born with more of a grown-up point of view, I have to say I was definitely wrong in many points!

So just for fun, I thought I’d do a little list of things I miss from the UK, and obviously, others that I really don’t miss. Don’t take it too seriously as this is only my point of view. No country is perfect, and I’m only sharing my own experiences, but hopefully it’ll be quite interesting and fun to read!

Things I miss from the UK:

  • The food shows, travel documentaries and Sunday Brunch. Don’t get me wrong, French TV is not the worst and I can definitely find some good food and travel shows, but come on, the UK is doing it way better! You can’t beat The Great British Bake Off, which I watched religiously, or the 3h long Sunday Brunch show that I could not wait to watch every weekend. Although in France they’re showing more movies on the regular channels, which is great, I miss these fun, inspiring, jaw-dropping shows that we used to watch in the UK. Little side note here: I’m NOT talking about British daytime TV! That stuff is the WORST!
  • How easy the paperwork is over there. Jason has a saying for that: ‘One piece of paperwork in the UK would be 10 in France’. And it’s so very true. Everything is crazy in France. There are so many organisations and companies that you need to sort things out with, and they NEVER communicate between each other. Plus, they seem to complicate everything just for the hell of it! We’ve had proper nightmares with the French paperwork that we didn’t have at all in the UK. Both of us being freelance didn’t help much though!
  • Shops like Home Bargains, TK Maxx and B&M. In France, or at least in Bretagne anyway, the only similar shop we have is Stokomani and it’s not that great. Food and shopping in general is definitely more expensive over here and we can’t find all the good bargains and cheaper basic stuff like we used to.
  • A good old fish & chips from time to time. As I said, food is more expensive in France, but you’re also getting better, fresher food so it balances it out in the end. But there are dishes and restaurants I definitely miss from where I used to live. I miss the burgers and mac & cheese at Hickory’s and the deals at Marks & Spencer where you could get a high quality meal for two for only £10. And I almost forgot to mention the amazing choices of granola, muesli and healthy cereals that they have in the UK. In France there’s almost no choice at all! The variety of food in the UK is amazing, but the quality is not always there though.
  • British courtesy and politeness. Yes, I do miss it. People are so much more polite in general in North Wales and even though you get some rough, grumpy people everywhere, I always felt that Welsh people were nicer, polite and people actually smiled at you for no particular reason sometimes. In France, most of the time, if you smile at somebody in the shop, they’ll look at you like you’re crazy or they won’t even pay attention. Don’t know which one is worse! Oh and French people never say sorry.
  • Food festivals in North Wales during Autumn and Winter! We used to go to loads from September all the way up to Christmas. The atmosphere was always amazing, we would taste delicious food, watch great cooks baking in front of us and we always leave with something very tasty and locally made.

Things I don’t miss from the UK:

  • Obviously the weather, particularly because I was living in North Wales! I remember a year where it was grey or raining every bloody day for the whole summer and I was DEPRESSED. But then you do get use to it, and go out and about even if it’s cold or raining because otherwise you wouldn’t do much if you’re waiting for sunny and hot weather before going out of your house. Also, the mountains in Wales actually look very dramatic and moody with bad weather so it does have a certain charm. But still, I ain't made for cold temperatures and rain!
  • The expensive council tax. I’d say that the rent costs are very similar between both countries depending on where you live. If you’re in more of a rural place, you will pay less per month, and our rent in the UK wasn’t crazy, however, £100 on top every month for council tax was too much and you really don’t pay as much in France. But again, maybe it was because of the area we were living in :)
  • And whilst we’re at it, the rows of cheap post-war houses with very thin walls and rubbish insulation. I loved the house we were renting out in Glan Conwy, but you could hear everything that the neighbours were saying and the insulation was almost non-existent.
  • The typical British food that is boiled most of the time with some gravy on top of it. I never managed to enjoy it! However, I would be happy with a very good roast dinner if it’s really well done. Oh and I HATE margarine and their ‘baguettes’ that had nothing to do with a real baguette!
  • Expensive car parks. I honestly don’t remember not paying for parking somewhere except for shops in the UK. And it’s super expensive! Whilst in Bretagne and around Nantes, in the space of 9 months, we’ve only paid 3 times for parking. Once in the city centre of Nantes, and twice in the city centre of Vannes. Any other places that we’ve visited, beaches, small towns, parks, galleries, landmarks, etc. parking was free. So refreshing!
  • And last but not least, I do NOT miss carpet. British people, and the old generation more than the younger, put carpet everywhere in the house. But when I say everywhere, I mean even on the stairs! Madness. We’ve even seen carpet in bathrooms and around toilets! I’ve always hated it, but I was surrounded by it for 5 years, so I never want to see an entire house covered in carpet again.

I would be so curious to know if you guys have some other suggestions? Anybody else miss something from a place they used to live? Do tell me!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Palma de Mallorca

After a peaceful day in Deià, we woke up early on Sunday to catch the first bus to buzzing Palma. Didn't regret it! Palma de Mallorca is the capital and although it's quite a big city, it doesn't feel overwhelming to walk from the centre to the port as everything is concentrated around that area. We arrived so early that there was literally no one at the Plaza Major!

We started to get 'hangry' searching for the 200 year old café Ca'n Joan de S'Aigo in the Old Town but although it's not easy to find, we would recommend it to anyone visiting Palma. All the pastries look delicious and we were tempted to order way more than three! The traditional ensaïmada is to die for.

We then made our way to the Banys Arabs (Arab Baths), the last remaining muslim monument on the island. For only 2,50€ per person, you can't go wrong. A man was playing relaxing music in the garden and it gave a really nice atmosphere to the whole place. The area isn't very big though and you've quickly seen everything, but I'm glad we visited it. Plus, you can admire some beautiful and colourful buildings on your way!

We had to stop at the Catedral, also called La Seu, but as it was Sunday, the interior was only opened for mass and there was already a queue forming way before the time we were allowed in so we gave it a miss. However, the exterior is full of details and we stayed outside of it for a good while admiring them all and taking photos!

We walked aaaall the way to Portixol, with its sandy beach and windy breakwater, and when we came back to the centre, we were literally starving! Many places that I had a look at on TripAdvisor were unfortunately closed, but we found a café inside this beautiful art deco building called Horno Santo Cristo. It wasn't the most amazing food we had but still really good and we had plenty without spending too much.

Also, ice creams, obvs.

Before heading back to the hotel in Deià, we went around the Santa Catalina area and were surprised to find it completely different to the city centre. Definitely quite arty, modern and less touristy. The parc La Feixina was very nice (we almost fell asleep on a bench!) and we liked the view the Es Baluard was offering from the top of the contemporary extension. The museum was closing 10 mins after we'd arrived so we just looked at the installations outside. Quite refreshing!

We couldn't feel our legs anymore at the end of the afternoon but it was so worth it! Now we need to go back to Mallorca to explore other parts of the island ;)

A special thanks to Charles Marlow & Bros for this amazing opportunity! It's not everyday your client offers for you to come to Mallorca for a long weekend and to pay for the hotel and flights. I can never thank you enough!