April Snaps


A few pictures from this month. Not particularly sassy, they were very quickly snapped with a filter or three slapped over them. Most of the pictures are of stuff I received in the post – a free Glossybox, an alternative Ariel tank top from Poland, and some Lush goodies. It’s been quite a hectic week, running around like a headless chicken hither and thither… but if I have to run up and down the hills of Durham, then I will do so whilst smelling of milkshakes, sea salt and raspberry ripple ice creams (odd combination but it works), wearing a T-shirt with a tattooed disney mermaid, thank you very much.



Une tasse de thé…

If I’m not sipping a can of diet coke through a hot pink straw , you can bet that I will have some other sort of beverage nearby, lurking just out of sight. I’m a sucker for brightly coloured drinks, be they iced teas, slush puppies, juices or cocktails…

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I guess I have made my point.

Since summer 2012, I have developed a real taste for herbal teas, and today, having just returned from the health food store, I am writing a tea blog of sorts! Writing the words “tea blog” makes me think of Grav3yard Girl, a texan youtuber who is known for her “tea vlogs”, amongst many other hilarious and fabulous things. If you, like me, are interested in disney theme parks, make-up and  things related to folklore and the paranormal*, then you should give her videos a watch.  If anyone else is a fan of Grav3yard Girl, then regard my following direction as an homage to her – please feel free to go and get some tea, whether it be of the English, herbal or iced variety, before I continue with the monologue that I’ve got going on here.


If you are not into your teas, then I recommend a black coffee or a white/mint hot chocolate! You can get so many different varieties of hot chocolate nowadays – I recently bought my gran ‘Turkish Delight’ flavour by Options, a great supermarket brand. There are also fancy tubs of hot chocolate that you can buy from Whittards of Chelsea – think along the lines of banoffee pie and chilli chocolate. Anyway, enough talk of these delicious chocolatey poisons, back to the subject of tea, glorious tea! I always like to have my tea in a fancy mug.


A cupcake mug will do nicely. This is my all-time favourite mug – but when I travel around, it is too precarious to sling it into a suitcase, so it must sadly remain in and the cupboard, and I must rely on my Aristocats Marie mug instead. My preferred brand of tea is PUKKA teas, which come in oh so many flavours and cost around the £2-3 bracket for a box of twenty sachets. Having managed to get through two boxes of their peppermint and liquorice flavour (weird combination, right?) over the past month, I went on a quest today to purchase some more….

On the shelf where they normally have their PUKKA teas (not sure why I am putting it in capitals, but I guess it makes for a good exclamation, PUKKAAAA!) they also had a new brand called TEAPIGS (TEAPIGS!) This is a brand that I have heard tell of, mostly in the emails that I get sent from beauty box subscriptions. I was curious to see if there would be any difference in taste, and if the TEAPIGS would live up to their elaborate packaging. They were more expensive than the others, at £3….something for 15 tea sachets. But I thought it would be interesting to try them out, seeing as I love the PUKKA version so much.

Verdict: The presentation of the sachet, or “tea temple” as they call it, is pretty, you can see the contents clearly and it is shaped like a pyramid. Taste wise, the emphasis is on the peppermint, with quite a strong (and bitter) minty aftertaste. Whilst this feels quite refreshing, I have to say that I prefer the sweet liquorice aftertaste of the PUKKA tea – it’s also quite pleasing to know that 20p of every purchase of the PUKKA flavour goes to WWF. However, I will definitely have to try some of the other TEAPIG flavours, (I noticed there was crème caramel) On the back of the TEAPIG packaging, it also gives directions on how to enjoy the tea as an iced tea. I’m not sure that this would work well for mint, however you CAN make your own ice tea just by using normal tea bags, sugar and a lemon/peaches! In Germany, they sold Arizona iced tea in really ornate bottles – very sugary but a light and refreshing alternative to juice and sodas (and of course, to the healthiest of liquids… water…)


So there you have it. The first Valise de Louise Tea Blog. I often scour the web for reviews before I buy things now (I mostly look for reviews on make up *coughOPInailpolishcough*) so I thought it was maybe time for me to write a review or two of my own.  Do let me know if there are any drinks or brands that you think I should try – I’d be delighted to hear from you.

*When I was younger, my Dad used to organise tours of churches, graveyards and ancient burial grounds on the Island, and I would always end up tagging along and listening to all the tales of our Island’s rich folklore, history, witchcraft and ghostly happenings. This is a topic that has continued to interest me, (alongside many others) throughout my teens and into my adulthood. I love to tell stories, and after having enjoyed worked as a museum tour guide for six years, I think it would be great to be able to organise tours of my own one day!

Memories of Mountains and Mint Choc Chip

This time last year, I was living in Konstanz, southern Germany, on a glorious lake. During the six months or so that I lived there, I spent so much time strolling around and running to catch last minute buses and trains that I managed to wear out several pairs of ballet flats – including my sparkly Dorothy style ruby red flats They turned from being wonderfully sparkly to quite grungy and started to look like a house had fallen on top of them. But enough about shoes.

My apartment, if you can call it that (it was more of a box, but a very joyous box) was five minutes away from the University, and was set against a dramatic woodland backdrop, but was within reasonable walking distance of the lake. Everytime I walked to Uni, I felt a little bit like I was channeling Katniss Everdeen, and that I was in ‘The Hunger Games’. It was only a five minute walk, but the hilly winding trail would envelop you with trees, trees that seemed to be amongst the clouds and I would always feel as if civilisation was miles away. I’ll always remember those morning strolls, the days where I didn’t decide to ‘surf’ on the bus to class. Sometimes I’d walk with my romanian pal Codrin, and we’d talk about buying a horse to share with the residence, so that we could ride to and from the campus. Perhaps not one of our better ideas. From the town centre, I could walk to Switzerland and back in half an hour (“Sorry I’m late, I got lost in Switzerland“, “We thought we’d walk home after the club, but we accidentally ended up in Switzerland” became pretty common Erasmus student utterances during my time in Konstanz)

The town centre of Konstanz itself was quaint, with a beautiful grey Cathedral in the old quarter, the main street being home to buskers and bizarre sculptures. On my very first full day in Konstanz, I saw a camel in the street. I do not lie. It was surreal – I’d just been to a swiss IKEA with my friend Isabella and we returned to Konstanz to find a camel just casually standing there in the street being all sassy. What is more, on the way home from our journey over the border in Isa’s car, we got a bit side tracked in the swiss mountains – and once you’re in the mountain labyrinth, you can not just simply turn back. You have to keep going, onwards and upwards, travelling on the narrowest roads with hairpin bends. In the blink of an eye, from being on the German motorway, you feel suddenly as if you are in an alpine picture postcard. We saw so many chalets with swiss flags, and snow covering the highest peaks of the mountains. The weirdest part was seeing a snowy part of the mountains covered in llamas. To return from witnessing llamas in Switzerland to seeing a camel in Germany was quite bizarre. I wouldn’t say that either of those animals were creatures that I would associate with either country…

A photo of beautiful Konstanz. A serene lakeside harbour, surrounded by snowcapped mountains…

And ice cream parlours! Did you see that coming?

Ice cream is a big thing in Germany. It seemed to be a habitual thing in Konstanz to go out for a chat with friends and grab an ice cream instead. Not so good for the waistline but a great boost for your wellbeing! That’s how I viewed it anyway. Priced between 80-90 cents for a scoop, I got to try lots of great flavours, from standard ones such as banana, to less conventional flavours such as kiwi and kinder chocolate.

Apparently, when I was younger, I always wanted to travel to America, purely so that I could have an ice cream party. I blame this on perhaps reading too many “The Saddle Club” books. They were not my favourite series of books growing up, I generally preferred boarding school stories, like “Malory Towers” or classics like “Heidi“, “A Little Princess“, “What Katy did“, but when I was about 10, I thought that I had discovered the wonderful life of a modern American girl through “The Saddle Club“, endless chronicles of girlhood which I would read tucked into an alcove at the library, or at sleepovers with a torch when everyone else at the party had finally crashed out. The characters in the books would invariably end up in an ice cream parlour after a day of capers riding their horses and setting the world to rights. They’d tuck into insane sundaes full of sprinkles, chopped pecans and maraschino cherries.

I dreamed of those sundaes. Maybe one day, I’ll get to eat a real north american style sundae – I remember ordering a hot fudge sundae in Canada, taking one bite and my taste buds exploding with rapture, but sadly not being able to tackle anymore than that one spoonful. I guess the moral of the story is not to fill up on a burger and fruit punch beforehand, otherwise there will be not even a millimetre of space for glorious sundaes.

As a reward for reaching this far down this post, I’ll tell you a secret… my all time favourite ice cream. *Drumroll….. takataktakataktakatakkkkkkk*

Citron/Fraise, glace à l’italienne from Manuel – a sweet shop in La Baule. The ice-cream of nine summers. The Holy Grail of ice creams.

And if I can’t have that, then I guess I will settle for a mint choc chip cornetto…

Well, that’s all for now! I apologise for the random dashes from topic to topic. I guess my blog posts reflect my character. Just like Mary Poppins, you’ll never know what miscellaneous object I’m about to pull out of my purple satchel….. or what topic I’m going to write about!

Train Journey

I was at the station, sat down at a table, nervously eyeing the clock and my suitcase. My hands clutched a diabolo fraise, a childhood favourite, a drink that could have easily  been prepared at home in advance,  but the purchase  justified my use of a table and more importantly, a seat, in the crowded station café. I didn’t want to sit on my suitcase in a drab corner. The drink was extortionately priced, although looking back now, I can’t remember offhand how much I paid, but I do remember savouring each drop, hoping to make my lemonade and syrup last for another half hour. My nails had been painted with alternating layers of two new polishes, and they glittered blue, like rays of sunshine catching waves on the sea, every now and then, glimmers of little fish swimming underneath. The nails clashed with the bright red bubbles of my drink and with my hot pink book on the table in front of me, but I was excited and felt sophisticated – leaving the lush green volcanic hills of Clermont for a little while to return to Paris. Paris, a city of elegance, with grungy and crowded metro trains, busy streets and the grime that you will find in any major city lurking underneath the glossy lacquer of chic that is advertised in tourist brochures. Paris, where lovers, artists and ambitious workers go to join the rat race, and to find the dreams that they seek…

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

The motivation for this post comes from Dr Seuss’ book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – if you’re feeling a little hazy, unsure of where your life is taking you or like you need some guidance, pick up this book and have a peruse. It’s a book aimed towards children, however underneath the bright colours and wacky drawings, the words contain Dr Seuss’ famous wit – a wit that knows no age boundaries. It’s not a book that I came across during my childhood but I think reading it as an adult is quite enriching and uplifting – as Dr Seuss says himself, “Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (98¾% guaranteed.)”

So, where do I want to travel and what paths am I going to take? I’m still unsure. There are so many places I want to go, and sometimes I just want to be in a million different places all at once. I want to inhale floral air on hawaiian beaches, take the tram in San Francisco, explore the graveyards, vampire tours and jazz culture of New Orleans, drink butterscotch milkshakes from Zak’s Diner in Ottawa, dance on tables in Konstanz, live in Disneyland Paris and discover countless other countries. As I’m writing this, a Disney animated short springs to mind – have you ever seen “The Three Caballeros”? It’s an old classic from 1944, (including a cigar smoking parrot, ah what you could show in the old days*) where Donald Duck goes on a tour of South America and encounters various different characters along his way, including Pablo the penguin… who is a penguin (no way, Sherlock) who despairs of the prospect of spending all his days in the cold and dreams of living on a warm tropical island.


When he gets to the island, he kicks back, has a mojito or three (ok, no cocktails are actually specified but you get all inclusive holidays these days so I’m sure he would have indulged a little) and after a while the glow of the tropics starts to wear off and poor Pablo starts to miss the South Pole… the moral of the story being enjoy what you have, live in the moment, as the grass is always greener on the other side!

I have big dreams, that’s for sure, dreams of exploring, meeting new people and living in hot climates. But I’m also grateful for the present and need to make the most of every day, wherever I may be! 



*Check out this French bear. He loves his tobacco.


I used to watch this programme when I was small, (random fact coming up) and the voice reminds me of my French grandfather! 

Poisson d’avril

I have been back home for 15 days now (and have a lot of work to complete before I return back for the last term of Uni, garrrrgh) Home is pretty grand. I have been enjoying the company of my family, friends… and books. Todays heralds the beginning of a new month – the first of April, that day of the year where you have to look for joke articles in the newspapers, take bad news with a pinch of salt and let all the Easter chocolate slowly slink down your throat to your thighs. March is over, spring has supposedly sprung, although I think the whole of the United Kingdom begs to differ, and creme eggs are passé (it’s ok, I prefer Kinder Surprise anyway).

Yesterday was Easter Sunday – I’m 22, my brother is 15, we’re old and yet we still searched for eggs in the garden. Last year I was in Germany and had to make do with coloured boiled eggs placed on the shelves in my flat rather than an Easter Egg hunt in the garden – so it was nice to revive a tradition of old.

I tried and failed to get a sweet Easter style picture of Chino. Turns out rabbits won’t pose adorably with chocolate eggs. They will try and eat the eggs because, surprise, bunnies love chocolate. The eggs, however, escaped unscathed and poor Chino was placed behind bars.


He is ridiculously cute, I know, I know, and please rest assured, he did not remain under capture for long. In the late afternoon, I went to my aunt’s, as it was her birthday – she’s a cake baker extraordinaire, as I mentioned in my first ever post, and on this occasion  she’d made a particularly wondrous cake, which was Easter themed, as you can see below.


Tonight I’m going out for a German meal – I’m looking forward in particular to the dessert on the menu (because I obviously have not had enough chocolate or cake over the weekend)
The dessert is described ainsi

“Poor Knights ( German Version of French Toast ) “Easter Style “ with Cinammon Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream
Arme Ritter “Auf Oster Art “ mit Zimt Zucker und Vanille Eis”

When I lived in Konstanz, my friend Flo used to make French toast for Anne Ce and I all the time – I’d go so far as to say that it became a staple part of Anne Ce’s diet. And ice cream was a part of mine…. Konstanz has great ice cream parlours! In any case I am really looking forward to trying the version that will be served up tonight – and savouring a little bit of the past! (how very Proustian).

Besides spending time thinking about food… and chocolate, I have been enjoying BBC iplayer – in particular “In the Flesh”, a three part mini series about Zombies (or sufferers of PDS – Partially Deceased Syndrome) and the return of “Doctor Who”. Luke Newberry was outstanding in his role as tormented Kieran Walker – the last episode of the series was emotionally charged, with an important message about mental health issues. If you’re into the supernatural and psychology, then I would definitely give it a watch.

Well, on that note, I’m off to prepare my face for the German meal…. here’s hoping the French toast lives up to my expectations!