Happy HOLIdays

The last two weeks have been as jam packed as the others, however the school holidays have now started and we are all enjoying some time to relax, especially as the temperature is rising by the day!

IMG_0384Last weekend we had the opportunity to experience something new and very unique. There was a local movie premiere being held in the town close us, Kalpetta. Chacko and Avi, who run the Our Home, are good friends with one of the main actors so he very kindly donated tickets to all of the children. ‘Take Off’ was a Malayalam film but we were able to understand the storyline with a little help from the older boys. It was far from your typical Bollywood movie and instead focussed on real life ISIS events when a group of Indian nurses working in Iraq were stranded in the war torn city of Mosure. It was a very touching storyline that we thoroughly enjoyed, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it does well as it’s being shown exclusively in Kerala at the moment but it has the potential to go big in India! Our first ever movie premiere was brilliant and we even got to meet some of the actors. A memory both us and the children will never forget.

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The onsite school has closed for summer now and the children all had mixed emotions. Some are excited but others are sad at the thought of not seeing their friends for two months. The last day at school was a busy one, the Science Exhibition was held as it had been postponed from its earlier date. They were all so enthusiastic to show us their inventions and we couldn’t believe some of the masterpieces the kids from local villages had created. Our favourites included real electric fans made from cardboard, batteries and tiny motors and clay volcanos complete with lava and dinosaur models! There were also awards to be given out from the sports and art days held earlier in the year and we were delighted to be asked to present these to the kids. It was a great atmosphere as all of the winners collected their medals and trophies.

We missed Holi Festival due to the exams so to celebrate the end of the school year we bought some powder paints to play with on the first day of the summer holidays. It was just as we expected having seen many photos of Holi Festival and the amount of colour was overwhelming. We ran about chasing each other with the paint for a good couple of hours and it was so fun! It was a really good activity to get both the girls and boys involved in and we were like big kids too. We got some incredible photos of the children playing and this day is such a special memory that will stay with us forever.

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Throughout India there is still a huge amount of work to be done before women will be considered equal to men. Having worked with the Asian Circle we want to do everything we can to work towards equality for women and girls of this country. An estimated three million girls are out of school in India and it’s shocking statistics like this that need to change. At Our Home the girls are treated exactly the same as the boys and they all receive the same education, Chacko and Avi are such an inspiration in the work they do with these children and we wanted to enhance that. We spent a day with the girls simply chatting about how important their education is, what they wanted to do when they grew up and motivating them that if they put their mind to it they can achieve anything their heart desires!

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Our meal this week meant an early start as we decided to change it up a bit and cook breakfast. We opted for omelette with plenty of chilli and onion served with bread bread, sweetened of course as we can’t find regular bread anywhere. This dish was an improvement on our attempt at sweet chilli noodles, and the children loved the taste … as did we!

All in all it’s been two weeks filled with a good meal, lots of laughter, celebrations and our first Indian movie premiere! There’s always something unexpected in store and that’s what we love about India.

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10 tips for your trip to Paris

“Paris is busy, dirty and too touristy.”

“Paris is the most romantic city in the world full of culture, delectable food and incredible wine.”

 

Two very contrasting opinions about the French capital. We love Paris, and the best part for us is it’s only a train away! We want to share some of our tips with you to make sure you have an unforgettable trip. The main tourist spots can be seen in a day, or take your time and you could easily relax for a week here! Whether you’re there for a flying visit or have more time on your hands, there are certain things you need to know before you start exploring…

1) Eurostar sales

Eurostar regularly holds sales where you can bag a great bargain. Starting from £26 one way from London to Paris, you won’t find cheaper than that! Use the opportunity to book a spontaneous weekend away.

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2) The Metro

The metro system is completely different to the London underground, if you leave via London St. Pancras you’ve got a shock when you step out at Gare du Nord! It’s very old and can make you feel a bit uneasy, but brave it and embrace it, it’s the quickest way to cross the pond to Paris. The double decker trains are also quite cool, just watch out for the rats as you step on!

3) Try and speak a bit of French

Probably our best advice for you.  It’s not only polite but you’ll find it helps a lot. We found not many people in Paris spoke English, so they will be more able to assist you if you can understand a bit of the lingo! It’s also fun to practice in some of the little brasseries, give it go and you won’t regret it!

4) Pickpockets and scammers

Paris is notorious for pickpockets. We don’t want to scare you but just be alert. Keep your eyes peeled, backpacks close and senses alert.

5) Holiday Inn Notre Dame

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This little gem is a great place to stay, with rooms starting at €115 it’s not recommended on a backpacker budget but is complete luxury for an affordable price. Friendly staff, a lovely reception area and the best little surprise; a rooftop bar with a magnificent view over the quaint streets of Paris and the iconic Eiffel Tower.

6) Museums

If you’re looking to get a bit cultural Paris is perfect. Full of museums from the Musee d’Orsay to Grand Palais, but of course there’s one that everyone wants to visit; The Louvre! Outside is the must see Instagram spot to get that perfect snap and inside you’ve got the famous Mona Lisa. Don’t underestimate The Louvre, there’s so much more to it that you could easily spend a day here, so give yourself some time to explore!

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7) Parisians smoke – a lot!

If you’re a non-smoker, be warned that the Parisians smoke a lot – not passing judgement but as a non-smoker this can be quite unpleasant especially when you’re trying to enjoy a meal! Just a little tip to prepare you for the fumes…

 

8) Food

Paris is not a good city to visit if you’re on a diet! The croissants, the cheese, the steak, the crepes … do we need go on? All so authentically French, you will find so many great restaurants especially in the Latin quarter, you’re spoilt for choice and we highly recommend you stop by!

9) Eiffel Tower

The one, the only, the Eiffel Tower. It doesn’t disappoint. If you’re wondering whether to go up or not, and a lot of travel blogs we’ve read advise against it, we say go for it! Yes it’s a bit overcrowded at the top and the champagne is overpriced, but the view makes it all worthwhile. Literally draw dropping as you get to the top, we recommend you visit at sunset when there is a majestic feeling surrounding the world’s capital of romance.

 

10) Walk!

Walking is the best way to see most of the hot tourist spots in Paris. Invest in some comfy trainers, pack your bag for the day and set off. You’ll also find plenty of beautiful spots off the tourist map as you explore the streets.

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