Thursday, 5 May 2011

How to see Paris in a day.

Paris is known for many things. It is often thought of as the City of Love, just bursting with beautifully iconic architecture as well as being the place to be for fashion and food. But with Paris being legendary for so many reasons, is it possible to see it all in just one day? Well, I decided that it was about time to find out.
When booked in advance, a Eurostar return to Paris is often less than £100 for a day trip and this is probably the fastest way to get to the French capital. However, there is not a lot of room for extra luggage, so it is advised to take a small bag for your travels. The Ferry is another popular way to get across the channel, but not recommended for a day trip as journeys can take up to 9 hours. This may be an option for those wanting to take their cars across for a longer stay (although having seen traffic in Paris, this is certainly not something I would recommend!)
It should be warned that this day is not for the faint hearted! The Eurostar to Paris is around a two and a half hour journey so it is best to set off as early as possible, especially with Parisian time being an hour ahead of the British clock. Arriving at Gare du Nord Station for around 10am seems about perfect, with all of the shops, both designer and boutique, opening for your arrival. This is also ideal timing for that tasty croissant from a boutique cafe as a brunch time treat.

There are many options for travelling around the city but there is no doubt that the metro is the fastest one. You can buy a book of ten tickets (which allows you ten journeys) for around 12 Euros and this should be perfectly sufficient for a day’s travelling. For those who want to see the city from above ground, an open-top bus tour or a ride on the river’s Batobus may give you slightly more picturesque views, however this will take a little more time out of those precious exploring hours. The very brave may even want to walk some of the way with beautiful gardens sitting between a few of Paris’ unique landmarks.
Now for the tricky part, just which of these landmarks do you want to see? On first look at a map of Paris this all seems like a mammoth task but in truth some of the sites are just in one large loop around the river.

Notre Dame Cathedral is a good place to start at just a couple of stops down the metro line from Gare du Nord. At a five to ten minute walk from the metro stop the cathedral is impossible to miss, with its gothic exterior leading high into the sky just off of the riverside. This is without a doubt one of the most outstanding cathedrals you will ever see. It boasts an incredible interior with antique chandeliers and vast stained glass windows and it seems hard to conceive that something so extraordinary could have been created with the simpler resources they had at that time. Everything about the cathedral is remarkable – even to an atheist’s eye.

Following the loop across the river, the next logical place to stop is the Louvre Museum which is brilliant to see even if you do not venture in. Home to the world famous Mona Lisa, the museum is mostly based underground but has a glass pyramid entrance surrounded by fountains. The Museum itself is so huge that many say you could spend at least half a day wondering around, so this is not ideal for a day trip but a definite must-see for art enthusiasts.

At this point a walk through the park towards the Arc de Triomphe provides a perfect spot to stop for a bite to eat on a sunny day. This is a rather long walk if you are trying to walk the whole distance however there are metro stops along the way for those who only want to see part of the park.
This walk leads you along to the grand Arc De Triomphe - a landmark so huge that no picture could really do it justice. Again, this is one of Paris’ most iconic sights and the architecture seems exceptional to the untrained (and no doubt to the trained) eye. For a small fee you can climb the stairs to the top of the Arc where you will find wonderful views of a large area of Paris.

Of course, the final landmark stop just has to be the Eiffel Tower. This is a view that you will be seeing right from the beginning of your journey, as the ultimate sight of Paris appears easily across its skyline. Visitors must be prepared to queue, however the view of Paris will be well worth the wait, especially the sights from the very top.

After all of this, most would probably find themselves feeling extremely hungry and so heading back towards the Notre Dame is a very good idea. Restaurant owners and waiters will beckon you into their eateries if you walk around the Latin Quatre and there will be plenty of options from seafood, to fondue and even to steak at fairly reasonable prices. At one open restaurant with a view of the Notre Dame I was able to have a Salmon Fillet with French Fries and Fresh Salad as well as a couple of beers for less than 15 Euros – amazing value for central Paris.

Although another day may be needed to explore the entire city in all its glory – one is all you need to fall in love with Paris, and I think that it is worth every penny.
Published in the May issue of Fifty Magazine at 

Friday, 18 March 2011

Another converged news day!

This is the television bulletin that my team produced during our converged news morning yesterday. I've spoken about the converged newsdays before and this was the last one so the pressure is off a bit now! It didn't go exactly to plan but the planning team from the day before were partly to blame - we were told that we had done well to get so much original footage considering the planning that we were given.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Magazine cover!

For our Features module we had to come up with a magazine idea and create a front cover and contents list. Trying to come up with an idea is harder than you might think - there are thousands and thousands out there and it almost seems impossible to create something entirely different. But we all came up with something! Here's mine:

This is Elements - the figure skating magazine for girls aged 15 - 21. There is already an ice-skating magazine in the UK but it is aimed at all ages and genders so I thought there was definitely a gap in the market for a magazine like this. It focuses on more than just the skating as this is not all that female teenage figure skaters care about. There are articles about beauty, makeup, boys, horoscopes, real-life stories as well as the latest figure skating news. Well, that's the idea anyway. I would really love to launch a magazine like this one day.

Hope you like it!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Moscow City Ballet perform Swan Lake @ Lighthouse Theatre in Poole - 9/2/11

When some friends said they wanted to go and see the ballet last Wednesday I was at least slightly apprehensive. Having ice-skated from a young age I had slipped my foot in a ballet shoe or two but my expertise do not stretch much further. However, with all of the hype around the intense ‘Black Swan’, a film that showed the beauty of ballet in such a way that one of my best friends had become fascinated with the art, I wanted to see if I could appreciate the Moscow City performance.  
During the first few minutes the dancing seemed disappointingly amateur. We wondered if this could have been because of the younger cast, perhaps less precise and perfect than that performed by those with a few more years experience. Many seemed to be slipping or hopping instead of the presenting the clean, elegant finish which even I would expect to each move. Many of the dancing duets and trios failed to dance in time with each other or the music, distracting hugely from what could have been a beautiful portrayal of the celebrations expected from the birthday celebration of the male lead, Prince Siegfried.  If the mistakes were so obvious to my untrained eye, it worried me to think what the experts would be saying. Then again, it’s easy to forget they are only human.
On the other hand, the Jester was played quite brilliantly. He acted with charm and humour and seemed to perform on a different level entirely to the rest of the cast. He was never out of character and seemed quite clearly to be the favourite of the first act.
I thought that I might have a little trouble understanding the story being portrayed by the ballerinas, as it always seems so much easier to watch plays or musical where the vocals tell the story for you. However, admittedly having done some research beforehand, I found the storyline fairly simple to follow – suggesting huge credit for the dancers’ mute acting.
Luckily the cast soon seemed to get their act together, and to my eye they began to perform like the coordinated and professional cast it was clear they had the potential to be. When the swans appeared on stage it was obvious that this was the part of the afternoon that the whole audience had been waiting for. The swans performed in formations that were perfectly synchronised, with each ballerina playing the part beautifully.
But it was the performance of the female lead Princess Odette, who had been cursed to be swan by day and woman by night, who really took the audiences’ breath away. With an elegant physique and arms that never seemed to end, she was perfect for the role as she gracefully swept her arms up and down in character. Her transition between Princess Odette and the evil von Rothbart’s daughter Odile is outstanding as her forced smile provides an eerie and haunting character completely different to her pure portrayal of the swan princess.
Unfortunately the Prince Siegfried was no match for his female lead. Despite having the strength and manly stance appropriate for such a prince, the emotion portrayed did not seem to the same standard as his princess. His purpose seemed just to be an apparatus for the petit dancer to place herself around, and if it was then he served it very well but we all felt his individual performance could have been stronger.
The highlight of his performance seemed to be the final act, when the pair finally seemed to fit as the romantic duo, as they sacrificed themselves to the lake to be freed from the evil villain when they realise they can never break the curse and be together. As the pair fall to the ground at the back of the stage and disappear behind the formations of the other swans I could have sworn the woman in the seat next to me had a tear in her eye. The whole story seems to have had far more of an impact on her than on me, but then she did seem like a much more regular ballet-goer.
Overall I actually quite enjoyed the performance. The soothing music could have sent me to sleep but the dramatic dances sorted that out in a second and as the cast were much improved after the first act we felt that they had performed brilliantly. The dancers’ stamina, strength and flexibility were incredible and above everything else I had utter admiration for how controlled and graceful the dancers managed to be. I don’t think I will become a regular ballet-goer anytime soon, but watching the dancers was a very refreshing change and I would recommend those seeking to do something different to book yourselves in for a show – it was quite stunning.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

TV news day

As part of our course we do a converged newsday once a week, spending a week on radio, then the planning team, television and online. These weeks have been challenging but very rewarding so far and they will no doubt be very useful when we are all launched into the industry next year.

Here's my teams first attempt at a converged television newsday! Not perfect, but good practice for the assessed session.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Review: Ellie Goulding @ The Reading Hexagon 26th November 2010

If you mentioned the name Ellie Goulding one year ago many would not have known her name – but as she headed to Reading’s Hexagon Theatre last Friday for the final night of her UK tour, the intimate venue was filled with people of all ages, waiting to hear the voice of Christmas 2010.  

Support band Bright Light Bright Light provided a disappointing start as their 80’s-style electro pop rhythms and lovey-dovey lyrics just about managed to keep the crowd content.
In comparison, fellow support Sunday Girl really impressed; grabbing the attention of every bobbing head with lead singer Jade Williams’ pitch-perfect voice and their cover of Keisha’s Tick Tock before the quirky, individual headliner appeared.
Ellie Goulding arrived on stage in leather shorts and an army jacket as if she was born to be there, belting out every note with passion as she sang hits such as Every Time We Go,  Guns And Horses and The Writer. She followed with acoustic genius written from her younger years with a stripped back version of The End, providing an emotional insight into the singer’s life before this whirlwind year.
Her beautifully delicate cover of Elton John’s Your Song (originally covered for the Christmas John Lewis Advert) had everyone in the quaint venue swaying as it was filled with the crowd’s voices echoing her words.  
Goulding’s entrancing voice filled the small theatre flawlessly as she offered a glimpse into her life with a home-made film playing in the background showing her gratitude to the fans. It all seems rather amazing work from someone who left university and escaped to London with nothing but a backpack, a guitar and a head filled with dreams.
As the audience chanted “Ellie! Ellie!” at the end, Goulding gracefully re-appeared to sing Human from her new album as well as dancing to chart hit Starry Eyed with her captivated audience. Ellie Goulding has really proved herself as more than a one-hit wonder from the success of this hit song earlier in the year, her performance was stunning and no doubt we shall be seeing much more of her in the future.
Ellie Goulding should not be missed.
Her re-release album ‘Bright Lights’ was released on Monday.

I want to be a student forever

Ok, I don't really want this but I very much enjoy my life right now and the thought of actually having to get a job afterwards is fairly terrifying.

Although it's fairly comforting to know what I want to do when I leave it doesn't change the fact that I realise it could be very hard to get there. So I am preparing myself already...because despite all the fears (losing hair due to stress, hating my job like many other local newspaper journos out there) I am very determined to get there!

Everyone on my course pretty much takes any experience they can get, even if it means writing something you might not usually choose to write about and here is my latest example:

I have started writing articles for Fifty Magazine - an online publication aimed at the over 50's, giving advice on all aspects of life. It feels slightly odd to be giving life advice to people who are more than double my age, especially when the thought of even turning twenty makes me want to scream slightly, but I've been giving it my best shot.

This one is an article on the best way to remove red wine stains. It had me on my knees in the kitchen spilling perfectly good wine on to cream carpets and then scrubbing (well more dabbing actually if you read the article) until the stain was as faint as I could get it.

Check the website next month for my advice on how to lose weight after Chistmas.

Hardly a dream come true...but hopefully it will help me on my way to a flourishing career.