So, I'm back from a week in Paris. We had a great time, although it was painfully expensive.
I proposed to Girlfriend whilst I was there, and am delighted she said yes.
The Louvre was a fantastic experience and well worth spending more than one day there. I had forgotten one of my favourite paintings by Caravaggio (a portrait of the Grandmaster of the Knights of Malta) was there and it was great to see it first hand.
The crowd gathered round the Mona Lisa was huge (what on earth is it about that painting? I just don't get it). We did the usual touristy things and it was a great holiday.
A couple of things I noticed though, was how clean the streets were. It wasn't necessarily because the streets were cleaned so frequently, people just didn't drop litter, even though huge amounts of them were eating lunch as they went about their business.
Litter is something that I get a lot of complaints about, and fair enough. But there wouldn't be so much litter if people didn't just drop stuff on the street, even though a bin can be a couple of yards away.
Another thing I noticed was how few drunk people I saw. Going out at night to bars and bistro's, the vast majority of the people were drinking coffee or soft drinks. It wasn't because alcohol was much more expensive, as the price was comparable with coffee or coke. People just weren't drinking to excess, and most weren't drinking alcohol at all. This makes me wonder even more just how effective Mr MacAskill's plan to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol would be.
There was a also a high number of police around, more than I've ever seen before. On top of that, small squads of soldiers were sometimes out on foot patrol looking very professional (apart from one guy at the back who was busy texting one time).
Apart from two noteable exceptions the service was usually pretty indifferent at best, which is quite galling (did you see what I did there?) given the prices that were being charged (£26 for a mixed grill in a small restaurant).
Waiting at the airport for a flight home early in the morning, four Americans (resplendent in their new 'Paris' T shirts) sat down and loudly proclaimed that the French would make a fortune if they sold MacDonald's breakfasts. Yup, because clearly there's little profit to be made by charging £16 for two croissants and two thimble sized cups of coffee.
Ironically, it has now been announced that MacDonalds is opening a 'restaurant' in the Louvre, which is upsetting the French no end, though they haven't started rioting in the streets over it yet.
Anyhoo, it's good to be back and we got the ring here. It's a great shop on George St in Edinburgh, with some fantastic items. I've bought a few things from there in the past few years, and it's well worth a visit.
Parliament is back and it's been good to get in and catch up. I have also started a post graduate course in housing at Stirling University, which I'm finding really interesting and useful.
All in all, it has been an interesting time really, and I suppose the wedding plans will have to start soon. Boss has kindly agreed to be my best man, and Fiance has got her bridesmaids lined up too.
I will endeavour not to put up too many posts on the wedding preparations. A colleague in Parliament would come in and give extremely lengthy and detailed updates on her wedding over the course of the two years it took to organise and there really can't be anything more boring.