Something from the weekend: Mostly food

Despite still having lots to do as we settle into the house, we’ve been enjoying spending our weekends exploring our new locale….especially with the new added benefit of a car!

Adam finished work at lunch time on Friday as he had some time to take in lieu, so we drove to nearby Ilkley to walk the dogs down the river and scope out all that the town centre has to offer. We found lots of lovely shops, The Veggie cafe that we’re dying to try out, and our nearest Betty’s Tea Rooms which I hope to visit before long!

On Saturday we took an early morning walk on the gorgeous Otley Chevin, the foresty hill that overlooks the town. The dogs love it up there as there is lots to sniff and explore, and the views are just stunning on a gorgeous day like Saturday.

Lurcher at Otley Chevin

Cooper posing at the Chevin

After breakfast we drove to Kirkstall Abbey to meet my Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law and our little niece Clementine. There’s a monthly Deli Market there with dozens of wonderful food and drink stalls set up inside the beautiful ruins of the abbey. We did a circuit to see what we might like, then bought up lots of goodies….for our lunch we bought a yummy free range scotch egg and incredibly delicious pork and gammon pie from The Blue Pig (as well as some of their sausages for another day), plus some gruyere and rosemary straws. There was a huge amount of sweet stuff to choose from, and we came away with a Chai Spiced flapjack from Oat Cuisine (top prize for their punderful name!), a Vegan Columbian Coffee Tiffin from That Old Chestnut, fudge courtesy of Aunty Emily’s (another great name!), and our first ever Canadian Nanaimo bar from Fayre by Alley. We were also in need of marmalade, so we bought some amazing Orange and Cardamon Marmalade from Hummingbird Preserves. The abbey is well worth a visit in its own right, and I’m sure we’ll be back with our cameras…..and we’ll be no strangers to the Deli Market too I’d imagine!

Scoffing a scotch egg at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market

Scoffing a scotch egg at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market

We popped to Adam’s Brother’s for a cup of tea and niece cuddles, plus some fussing of their two gorgeous Staffies. Then we drove to nearby Arthington to look at a house for sale….we’re not strictly ready to move yet having only just arrived, but I’ve not stopped thinking about this place since Adam found it on Right Move and he eventually decided that the only way to shut me up was to take a look! I’m glad we did….it’s good practise for when we start viewing properly….but in reality it wasn’t quite the dream home I’d thought it was. We shall keep on looking though!

It being a month since we’ve moved here, we decided to celebrate with a meal out at a local vegetarian restaurant on Saturday night, then it was an early night for us after a busy day!

On Sunday we had our friends Craig and Shelley over for morning coffee….we’re delighted to be living so near to them now, and that we’ll get to see them more often. After a quick catch up we all walked to the Designer Craft Fair in the Otley Courthouse to peruse the pretty things, then made our way to the Farmers’ Market in the square. As usual there was lots to tempt us and we came away with full bags….Mornington House‘s scrumptious jams (strawberry, raspberry and damson), Butterscotch and Rocky Road slices from the amazing Yummy Yank, half a dozen huge free range duck eggs and a bun filled with delicious free range hog roast and stuffing from Happy Hogs to bring home for lunch.

Scrummy Rocky Road from The Yummy Yank

Scrummy Rocky Road from The Yummy Yank

After scoffing, Craig and Shelley headed home for some sort of sporting race or match or something, then shortly afterwards Adam’s Dad arrived as he’ll be staying with us this week. He and Adam’s Mum are also making the move up from Hitchin later this week (he’s meeting with builders and things whilst Liz sorts out the movers) and we drove over to their new place to have a little look around the nearby High Street in the afternoon.

I cooked up a roast leg of lamb with all the trimmings for supper, followed by a fruit crumble and custard. The perfect way to end a lovely weekend!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Since I saw you last….

Yes, I know that’s a Gary Barlow song. And no, I won’t apologise for the ear worm.

Anyways! Hello! Long time! It’s been a seriously busy few months, and possibly the most momentous time ever for me. So, without further ado, here’s a whistle stop tour of what I’ve been up to…..

April was really all about wedding prep….making favours, up-cycling furniture for the reception, and oh, you know, making my wedding dress! Just as everyone always says it does, the wedding came round so fast and there was some frantic organising done in those last few weeks! We did manage to fit in some fun and relaxation though, and on the last weekend in April we hosted our joint Hen and Stag do!

Wedding Crafting

Wedding Crafting

Neither of us was terribly keen on doing separate Hen and Stag parties, and whilst we initially intended not to bother at all, when we hatched an idea to do them together we thought it’d be fun. We booked our fabulous dance teachers (Modern Jive World Champions!) Lee and Dawn to teach a bunch of us for a few hours in a local hall. It was great to have lots of friends meet each other for the first time, and the dancing was a brilliant ice breaker as we had to keep swapping partners throughout the class. Even the hounds came along and dressed up for the occasion too! By the end of it we were all pretty good at the little routine, which we vowed to practise and use at the wedding reception a few weeks later.

007 Cooper

007 Cooper

Rock n Roll Digby

Rock n Roll Digby

Afterwards we met up with more friends and had a yummy meal at our favourite Hitchin curry house (they do awesome veggie dishes), then made our way to one of our favourite bars in town to drink lots and lots of cocktails. We love the little Music Room at the back of the old Corn Exchange on the market square, and we have to admit that Pitcher and Piano have done a grand job with the place….not to mention their cocktails.

The morning after we were in need of some serious calories, so a bunch of us headed to The Groundworks for breakfast (the chorizo omlette the most popular) before everyone made their way back home and we began the final preparations for the wedding the following weekend!

Espresso and chocolate crepe at Just Desserts

Espresso and chocolate crepe at Just Desserts

During the week running up to the wedding I was also treated to a night out with my colleagues. We met just around the corner at Just Desserts, which as the name suggests, only serves puddings! We all toasted with fizzy and ate large amounts of waffles, crepes and sundaes, before I headed home wearing a flashing ‘Bride to Be’ sash and with a big bunch of cute balloons.

Bridal shower garms

Bridal shower garms

Bridal shower balloons

Bridal shower balloons

So next of course, we got married! I’ll leave off all the details and photos for now as I’ll write about all that separately. Suffice to say, we had the most amazing time ever though! We actually did the ceremony bit in Greenwich on the 3rd of May, then followed up with the reception on the 24th…..we like to drag things out! Anyway, it was the most wonderful excuse to spend time and have lots of fun with our nearest and dearest, so I’ll look forward to sharing more soon. Here’s one sneak peek of a photo for now though!…..

Me and him on our wedding day in Greenwich

Me and him on our wedding day in Greenwich

In between the ceremony day and the reception, we were super busy getting things ready for the big party. Adam finished work a couple of days before the wedding, so he had a few weeks to help me out with the huge amount of craft and DIY projects we had planned. We did make time for a few dates though, and it was lovely to enjoy his time off with some cocktails and meals out. We discovered (after way too long!) that the Hermitage Road Restaurant, which is just a few minutes walk from us, serves some seriously good cocktails, and we also enjoyed an amazing Thai meal at Sukawatee opposite.

My Husband and a rather yummy cocktail in a tin mug

My Husband and a rather yummy cocktail in a tin mug

We had another week between the wedding reception and going on honeymoon, which we used in part to recover from the party! We both came down with colds, which was a real drag and stopped us from doing all the sorting we’d planned. The house looked like a party supplier had exploded in it, with excess furniture cluttering up the place, and various random things hanging around such as small wooden windmills, boxes of jam jars and copious amounts of left over booze. We did however enjoy spending time going through all our cards and messages, opening gifts, reading the recipes people had given us (we asked for these instead of having a gift registry) and laughing at all the photo booth pictures. We were so very ready for our holiday by the time we set off for the airport though….we’ve not had a proper sunny summer holiday for years and couldn’t wait to relax by the pool!

Waiting for our second flight of three to our honeymoon destination

Waiting for our second flight of three to our honeymoon destination

After thirty hours of travelling (eeep!) we were finally welcomed to our stunning hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali. The relief as we sunk into the huge sofa in the air conditioned club room was immense, and the yummy cold cocktails and gifts we were brought made us start to think it had all been worth it. After checking in, we went to our room to find yet more gifts, and un-packed as we awaited our room service supper before crashing into bed. The time difference and the flights had all happily made it so that we could fall asleep at our usual bed time, bang on bed time in Bali….although that said, we were still rather lazy in the morning and didn’t get to breakfast until pretty late! We spent the day eating, drinking cocktails and exploring the resort….nicely settling in to the incredible weather and the laid back vibe.

Pretty much my view for most of the holiday

Pretty much my view for most of the holiday

Again, hopefully I’ll write in more detail about our trip….we did quite a few activities and excursions (not to mention three trips to the amazing spa!) so there’s lots to write, and stacks of photos too. We totally fell in love with Bali though, and would really recommend it for a holiday….the weather is spot on, the people are delightful and the food is terrific! In the mean time, here’s a few of my iPhone snaps to show you some of the highlights…..

The view from our lovely room

The view from our lovely room

Room service breakfast on the morning of one of our excursions

Room service breakfast on the morning of one of our excursions

Our trip to a coffee and spice plantation, including an awesome coffee tasting with a view to die for

Our trip to a coffee and spice plantation, including an awesome coffee tasting with a view to die for

We saw lots of traditional, local dances, including a wonderful fire dance performance

We saw lots of traditional, local dances, including a wonderful fire dance performance

I LOVED meeting a whole lot of monkeys on one of our outings!

I LOVED meeting a whole lot of monkeys on one of our outings!

We were in Bali for two weeks and loved every minute of it. We did miss the dogs terribly though (my Mum looked after them for the first week, Adam’s Mum for the second) and so were ready to come home to see them. They were a sight for sore eyes when we got home after another thirty hour journey, and their reaction to our return was wonderful. They’d been a little spoiled whilst we were away, with lie-ins in the grown up beds and endless sofa time cuddles, but they were still very pleased to see us and seeing them made parting with Bali all the more bearable!

Adam had a full week off after our return, which was a real treat. We made the most of it and planned lots of meet ups and outings and things….all of which was made even better by the fabulous weather we came home to! By a happy coincidence a bunch of our friends had the Friday of that week off, so we met up in a local park for a picnic. We made up a load of Pimm’s with ginger ale and got a stack of yummy treats from M&S, which we scoffed whilst sitting in the gorgeous sun. It was so nice to come home to such great weather after being so spoiled on holiday, and better still to be able to spend time outdoors with friends.

Picnic Pimm's

Picnic Pimm’s

The indulgences continued as we met friends again for afternoon treats at Just Desserts…..it was lovely enough to sit out in the garden there as we ate delicious sundaes, waffles and crepes.

Just Desserts crew

Just Desserts crew

Then on the Sunday we celebrated my birthday. Adam made me breakfast to have out in the garden, which was just lovely, and I had a whole lot of wonderful birthday cards and gifts to open too.

Birthday breakfast in the garden

Birthday breakfast in the garden

Later we went out for an amazing Sunday roast lunch at The a Black Horse at Ireland….I had their seriously good roast chicken followed by an incredible poached peach dessert which came with a slice of courgette loaf and a stunning coconut panna cotta!

Black Horse birthday pudding

Black Horse birthday pudding

Our first proper day out was to Wimpole Hall, which is a stunning National Trust property about half an hour away. We took the dogs with us and explored the extensive grounds with them first….they love adventuring in new places and the walk was a lovely change to our usual haunts.

The hounds discover a Gothic folly

The hounds discover a Gothic folly

We dropped the dogs back off at the car for a bit whilst we went to look around the gardens, then had a picnic lunch at the car to check on them. Then it was into the house to see all the incredible interiors and chat to the super knowledgeable volunteers in each room. We came away dreaming of a house with a library like the one there, and I know I certainly coveted more than a few of the incredible ornaments all over the place!

After a final check on the dogs, we went to see the charming home farm where we met some darling little piglets, then stopped in at the impressive walled garden before doing a spot of shopping on the way out…. I treated myself to one of their gorgeous picnic blankets made from oddments of yarn, and Adam splurged on some yummy wines and raspberry curd.

Wimpole Hall really is worth a visit if you’re in the area….there’s easily a full day’s worth of things to do there, and they even put on outdoor theatre events in the summer which I bet are worth checking out.

The library at Wimpole Hall

The library at Wimpole Hall

As our second little day trip we decided to drive to Ampthill, in search of the wonderful antiques emporium there. I’d never been to the sweet little market town before, and was delighted to to find that the emporium was even larger and grander than I’d thought! Spread over three floors are stacks of treasures, from old shop fittings and stunning lamps, to rocking horses and vintage clothing. Some of the furniture is just incredible, and there are lots of collectables to root through too. I fell in love with a very old and shabby rocking donkey, who I’d have loved to have taken home to revamp, but with a house fit to burst after all the wedding additions I left without him. I did treat myself to a beautiful silk scarf though, in my current favourite colours of coral and spearmint.

The Ampthill Antiques Emporium

The Ampthill Antiques Emporium

Afterward we found a darling little tea room called Cakestand and Crumb, where we had delicious sandwiches and seriously yummy cake to follow. Everything in there is super cute and chintzy, and I just adored the vintage record player and the lovely old tunes it put out.

Me in my new scarf at Cupcake and Crumb

Me in my new scarf at Cupcake and Crumb

There was still more to look forward to as our amazing wedding photographer Sharon delivered our wedding pictures! They were all wrapped up beautifully with local lavender and lots of other little gifts in a darling linen bag Sharon had made! We just loved going through them all and couldn’t be more grateful for all of Sharon’s hard work….she really goes above and beyond!

Wedding photo package

Wedding photo package

Sharon also featured one of our wedding shots in a local exhibition for the Humanitas charity, which took place in the barn at The George in Hitchin. The theme was ‘Imagining Animals’ and her photo of Adam in a giant panda head, with our guests around us in panda masks looked great amongst all the other wonderful local artwork.

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Exhibitionists!

Soon though it was time to get back to work, although I softened the blow by treating myself to a new pair of shoes to wear to the office….I’d been eying up the silver and white Hamble brogues from Clarkes and when they came into the sale I had to have them (I’d love the Taupe version for winter next!).

Back to school shoes

Back to school shoes

We also had to set to work on finding a new place to live, as we have to move out of our house in Hitchin! We opted to make the move up to West Yorkshire a couple of years earlier than planned, and after a huge amount of faffing, to-ing and fro-ing we finally found a place in Otley. The next job of course was to pack….a job which has filled most of our time since, and is still very much on-going! We’ve loved the fine weather though….it seems a real treat to have had a ‘proper summer’ and to get to wear summery dresses and whatnot. The dogs have enjoyed it too, with lots of paddles in the river and even their very first ice lollies!

Cooper's first blueberry ice lolly!

Cooper’s first blueberry ice lolly!

We spent one lovely sunny weekend with friends Dan and Brigitte, who came for an overnight visit. We took them to The Groundworks for their ‘Late Night Sessions’ cocktail night, which was a great way to spend a hot evening! I especially enjoyed the Gabriella cocktail which came with a rocket lolly dunked in it!

Late Night Sessions at The Grounworks

Late Night Sessions at The Groundworks

Another lush Saturday was spent at my dear friend Claire’s home for her Bridal Shower. Fellow bridesmaid Eileen hosted the Parisian themed afternoon, and I helped with chintzy china and bunting. I ate far too many macaroons and drank far too much fizz, but we had a lovely time playing games and chatting!

Parisian Bridal Shower

Parisian Bridal Shower

And because the last few months have been all about utter indulgence, we took a trip to a favourite local Italian restaurant in Letchworth, where we scoffed yummy pasta before heading to Hitchin Lavender to take some sunset photos. It really is stunning there, and it was lovely to go at ‘golden hour’.

Hannah in the lavender

Hannah in the lavender

Our next fun day out was into London for a very early Christmas present from me to Adam! I booked us onto a speciality whisky, bourbon and rye cocktail making masterclass at 69 Colebrooke Row, and we had an amazing time learning some new recipes and perfecting some old favourites. We also used the opportunity to scoff Fro Yo and drink Taro bubble tea whilst in Islington, as well as having a wander round the flea market.

Adam mixing with the pros at 69 Colebrooke Row

Adam mixing with the pros at 69 Colebrooke Row

We’ve been celebrating another amazing year for soft fruits, and harvested a bumper crop from our greengage tree. I made kilos of jam, a greengage and vanilla tart, and still had plenty left over to eat on their own! The garden has suffered somewhat due to my busyness, and is looking rather over grown! It has had a bit of TLC in the last week or so though, and there are lots of plants I want to dig up to take with us!

Ready to jam

Ready to jam

On Friday I travelled into London to meet my lovely friend Jo and her adorable one year old, Teddy. We had a good mosey along the Southbank (I loved the carnival performance in the Clore Ballroom with steel drums, brass band and dancers in neon pink tutu wigs!) before a gorgeous lunch at the Tate Modern. We walked back along the North bank together, then I was off to church at Aldwych for a wedding rehearsal! I had the honour of being Bridesmaid at Claire and Matthew’s wedding, and it was great to have chance to catch up with folk before the big day, not to mention getting some tips from Rev David on walking down the aisle in high heels, and drinking gin fizz afterwards!

Carnival fun

Carnival fun

Then yesterday was the big day itself! I travelled to Leyton to get ready with Claire and the other Bridesmaids….having a good cry when I buttoned her into her stunning dress and saw how utterly gorgeous she looked! We then travelled into town for the lovely ceremony (I loved singing the hymns and managed my role as veil monitor without disaster!) before heading to North London to the pretty cricket pavilion and marquee where the reception took place. The day was filled with fun and merriment, and all passed by so fast, but it was such a delight to be part of Claire and Matthew’s day.

Bridesmaids on the move

Bridesmaids on the move

Badger wedding cake

Badger wedding cake

We had our good friends Craig and Shelley stay over after the wedding, so this morning saw a lie in for me followed by lots of tea and chatting. They will actually be very near to us when we move so we packed them off with some of our more delicate cargo (the precious contents of Adam’s well stocked bar as well as some of my house plants!) and then the rest of the day has been about walking the dogs and lounging about.

This week will see a packing frenzy ahead of our big move next week…..I’m so excited to be in our new home town, but the thought of getting everything up there is rather a frightening one! Wish me luck as I bubble wrap and tape gun my way through all our junk! I’ll be sure to update you at the other end, but ta-tah for now!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Best Friends

I consider myself to have been very lucky when it comes to friends. I’ve always had a load of brilliant people around me to share fun with and support each other. And luckier still because I’m a pretty rubbish friend most of the time, as I’m crap at keeping in touch and pretty forgetful to boot! That does make me all the more grateful though!

During my adult (if you can call me that!) life, I’ve not really had one best friend as such, instead having an awesome group of ace people from all over, as a sort of team of best friends. Recently though I’ve come to realise that I do actually have one true best friend… my amazingly supportive, generous, kind and wonderful fiancé, Adam. He’s about all you could ask for in a best friend and I don’t think there’s any shame in marrying your bezzer (even if he doesn’t believe that chip butties are a wonderful delicacy).

And with that in mind, I’d like to offer an ode to my bestest, although I can’t take credit for this profundity (it’s actually Queen)….

Ooh you make me live
Whatever this world can give to me
It’s you you’re all I see
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live
Ooh you’re the best friend that I ever had

I’ve been with you such a long time
You’re my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
Oh you’re my best friend

Ooh you make me live

Ooh I’ve been wandering round
But I still come back to you
In rain or shine
You’ve stood by me girl
I’m happy at home
You’re my best friend

Ooh you make me live
Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive
Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you make me live

You’re the first one
When things turn out bad
You know I’ll never be lonely
You’re my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do
You’re my best friend

Ooh you make me live

I’m happy at home
You’re my best friend
Oh you’re my best friend
Ooh you make me live
You you’re my best friend

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. A stunning wedding weekend in Austria

I bally love a good wedding. And so an entire weddingy weekend was just bliss. I was honoured to be be invited to our friends Katie and Peter’s wedding, and even more delighted that it was all taking in place in Austria! If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know that I was lucky enough to take a holiday to Vienna in November for the Christmas markets, and I was only too happy to get back there in the sunnier weather…..

Friday started out a little stressful, as in taking a little holiday, we had to leave the pup for the first time! It was worse still because Adam’s mum, who would usually look after him for us, is away at the moment so he had to go to her friend…..she’s a long time dog owner and lover though and we got him used to her and her house over the last few weeks by going for walks together and visiting her cute little cottage. Still, I was a bit of a wreck and properly welled up as we left him, despite the fact that he was clearly very happy to be having a bit of a holiday of his own!

After dropping Cooper off, we made our way to the airport and had a nice leisurely journey to Vienna. We had a couple of hours to spare at the airport at that end, before the coach arrived to take us to the wedding venue, so we indulged in a nice big dinner….I love the food in Austria, and very happily yummed up a large helping of Wiener Schnitzel with parsley potatoes, as well as some excellent coffee…..there’s no pretence with Viennese food, but it’s all such great quality and so very tasty!

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After a few more guests had arrived on a later flight, our little coach took us south towards Graz, to the little village of Bad Waltersdorf where the wedding venue is. We made the journey fun by taking along some very sweet fizzy wine and lots of sweets, and so it didn’t seem too long a journey at all. We were taken directly to the Schloß Obermayerhofen and walked through the castle grounds up to the idyllic little chalet at the top of the hill. The Gaisrieglhof is a 250 year old farmhouse from nearby Pöllau, rebuilt here and used for the traditional pre-wedding gathering. Some guests had dressed in the traditional national dress, including the beautiful bride, and there were traditional musicians playing and wearing wonderful lederhosen! It was lovely to have a little pre-wedding catch up with everyone and drink a couple of glasses of the delicious local wine after our journey!

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After our long day prior, we enjoyed a bit of a lie in on the Saturday morning and spent most of the day getting ready for the wedding in the afternoon. It was great fun getting ready with some of Adam’s lovely old school friends, and at 2pm we all took a taxi up to the Schloß from our hotel to start the celebrations. We were greeted by lovely cold drinks and yummy nibbles as part of the Agape feast, and before long watched the stunning Katie walk down from her room. We moved through to the pretty meadow behind the castle, where a cute gazebo surrounded by chairs was set up for the civil part of the wedding….it was beautiful to be out in the open air and the weather was certainly kind! There was a Catholic ceremony after that, in the gorgeous Baroque chapel, then music and fizz out on the castle’s terrace as the couple had lots of photos taken.

The wedding breakfast took place in another of the castle’s incredible rooms, and we were treated to an exceptionally good dinner (asparagus soup with herb dumplings, wild garlic ravioli, crusted lamb and a trio of chocolate desserts!) alongside some wonderful local wines. The speeches were all very funny and touching, and after dinner the happy couple took to the floor for a very impressive tango for their first dance.

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We whiled away the night chatting, drinking and dancing, and having a lovely time in great company. There was a midnight feast of gulaschsuppe (possibly my favourite thing we ate on the whole trip and absolutely divine!) and so we were very contented indeed when we finally got to our beds.

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After breakfast and checkout on Sunday morning, another coach took us back to Vienna airport where we dropped off our bags and then made our way into the Vienna Mitte to spend a few hours before our flight home. We’d not managed to visit the popular Zanoni Eis gelateria when we were there last, so that was an obvious choice….. we were a little overwhelmed by the masses of flavours though, but did finally manage to choose six different scoops to fill a nice large tub with (nutella, melon, pistachio, strawberry, coffee and chocolate!). They were all super-yum, but the melon was a definite favourite, and the treat was very welcome in the city heat!

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We had a little mooch around the city after that, going back to the fun clock in the town and also heading back to the wonderful Cafe Pruckel next to the Stadtpark…..we yummed up very naughty iced coffees that were drowning in cream and chocolate! We walked off the treats round the sunny park, and then slowly made our way back to the airport for the flight home.

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We were lucky enough to catch a lift home with some other friends who’d taken the same flight, so our journey wasn’t too arduous. Still, we were pretty exhausted when we got back and flaked out almost immediately. The house didn’t feel like home though until our precious pup was delivered back to us on Monday morning….I’d missed him so terribly and despite having had a wonderful little holiday of his own and loving all the attention from his new friends, he seemed delighted to see us too!

Hope you had a lovely sunny weekend too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….guests, burgers and even a bit of sun

Well it was short lived, but I’m glad the sun hung around at least for the weekend. We had a lovely couple of days….

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On Saturday, and after a walk with the hound, we set off to nearby Letchworth for the little craft fair there and to snoop around the antiques shops. I managed to pick up another bell cloche for my collection, as well as a few more pairs of pretty pastel metal knitting pins and some gorgeous retro glasses, then we made our way home for lunch.

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After that we had a quick trip into town then had our friend Hannah over for a cuppa and chat, before our overnight guests arrived…..great friends of ours Claire and Matthew came up from London in the afternoon, and got to meet Cooper for the first time as he came to pick them up from the station. He loves having guests and immediately fell in love with them….especially when he was presented with lovely gifts from them! Adam and I also got some gorgeous gifts too….yummy fruit cake and fudge from their trip to Cornwall (the latter of which we have scoffed already!).

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After a pot of tea and yumming up a victoria sponge, we drove to the nearby Plume of Feathers where we had a delicious meal and lovely ales (rare burgers with bacon and cheese for Adam and I, and rump steaks for the others!). We made  a pledge to go there more often as the food is amazing, and Cooper is welcome there too!

Back at home, Adam mixed us up some great cocktails and we just chatted the evening away….Cooper very much enjoyed cuddling up with our guests for his evening sofa time and it was nice to relax and catch up for a few hours.

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We were rather naughty again for breakfast on Sunday, scoffing Belgian waffles, pancakes, strawberries, bananas and maple syrup! We walked it off though by snooping around the Sunday car boot sale and having a brief walk through town. Then after a last pot of tea our guests headed back to London….much to Cooper’s disappointment!

The rest of the afternoon was spent loafing about and on a nice walk out with all the dogs….Coops certainly loves being out with his Auntie Piper and Uncle Newton! It was even nice enough to need our sunglasses and for me to leave my gloves off!

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Did you get out and about? I hope you had a great weekend too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….our first overnight guests!

I’m still feeling pretty pantsy all told (hence the late posting of this), but we just *had* to have lots of fun this weekend because we received our first overnight guests! Dear friends Matthew and Siobhan made the journey up from London to spend the weekend with us, straight from work on Friday. It was so lovely to catch up with them, and host them in our new home.

I had spent much of Friday cooking, so that I didn’t need to do too much whilst our guests were here. But we scoffed some lovely cake that Siobhan had made first of all (apple, pear and almond…yum!) along with a pot of tea, then it was a tour of the house before a supper of cottage pie. We had some of Adam’s wonderful dark chocolate and banana loaf for pudding, and then he made us Mint Juleps and Espresso Martinis whilst we chatted the evening away!

On Saturday morning, I served up a big kedgeree breakfast to set us up for the day, and then we took the short walk to the amazing Eric T Moore bookshop. Matthew especially loved the place, and at more than one point we lost him and thought he may just spend the entire weekend there! I picked up some yummy rosemary bread and brownies for lunch from our favourite local bakery, Quotidian, then we toured our guests around town. I had surprisingly managed to remember quite a lot of the things we’d learned on our recent Hitchin History walk and the Ghost walk, so I shared lots of random bits of information as we browsed a few shops.

After that, we took them into St Mary’s church, which is right in the centre of town and the largest church in the county. It’s pretty opulent and really rather impressive! Then we stopped in on the market on the way home, clean forgetting that we had bought brownies already and picking up some obscenely huge cream cakes for later.

I had made Sweet Potato soup with ginger, chilli, lime and coconut for our lunch, which we yummed up alongside the delicious Quotidian bread. Then it was off out again, and over the road to the British Schools Museum where there was an exhibition for the local art club. We saw some wonderful pieces, all at very reasonable prices too!

From there we took the little walk around to Adam’s parents’ place to pick up the dogs, and then from there we walked over to the old Priory grounds for a little stroll. Newton was rather nervous, as he always is this time of year, due to the gun shots of nearby pheasant shooters, but we managed to pay a visit to the Charlton Pig Table and say hello to our piggy friends!

It was a lazy supper on Saturday, as we headed over to our brilliant local pub, The Half Moon, for some lovely beer and pub grub. The pub dog ‘Moon’ was unusually friendly and spent lots of time sniffing around our table for any bits of food (which we weren’t allowed to give to her) and a little affection. Then back at home we gorged on the cream cakes we’d bought and sat around drinking liqueurs and playing board games.

On Sunday morning we continued the gluttony with a breakfast of Belgian waffles with bananas and maple syrup, then attempted to walk it off a little with a pootle around the market and the car boot sale. It was great to get there at a reasonable hour again as the traders really don’t all hang around! I picked up some very lovely miniature playing cards, a wonderful old book of pianforte music and a stunning children’s tea set from the 1940s!

Once home again, we just about had time to conclude the complete tour of the house by showing our guests the cellar and the garden. It was a beautiful day out, so lovely to see the garden all autumnal and sunny. We picked a big handful of fresh bay leaves for Matthew and Siobhan to take home, then made our way to the station as they needed to get back into town for lunch.

Adam and I spent the rest of the afternoon on another walk with the dogs, before heading to Adam’s parents’ for a supper of fajitas. Then it was home for more X Files and an early night. Rather blissful weekend!

Something from the weekend…..mainly eating and shopping

It was with a great deal of difficulty that I dragged myself out of bed this morning……it appears that I’m too old now for starting off the weekend with a 3am bedtime and lots of wine. Still, it was a super fun weekend, and I did manage a little relaxation time too! And we’ve only got two weeks left in London so I want to make the most of it!

After work on Friday it was off to the Post Office with the stacks of things I had to post….I’ve been listing lots on EBay to get rid of some things I don’t use any more before we move. That out of the way, we made our way to Hither Green, where we’d been invited to our friends Siobhan and Matthew’s new place for supper. We were a little early, so we took the opportunity to try out You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, the lovely little florist/coffee shop at the station, where I’ve been wanting to go for ages. It was nearly closing time, so we had our flat whites served to us outside on the pretty melamine tables….and the coffees were perfect! It’s such a darling little place, full of treasures and pretty flowers, and the yummy offerings are a real bonus!

By the time we’d finished, we were in good time to pop round the corner to our friends, for our first snoop around the place! It’s such a lovely flat…..really well laid out and organised, and Matthew and Siobhan have added lots of personal, colourful touches to make it special. The place also smelled amazing, with a lamb tagine in the oven, as well as Sophie Dahl’s chocolate cake……we were ravs by the time we finished chatting and drinking gin and Prosecco, so devoured the delicious meal which came along with yummy roasted veg and home made aubergine dip. The chocolate cake was the real triumph though….topped with creme fraiche and fresh berries, it was perfectly balanced and incredibly moreish.

As usual, we lost track of time in our hours of chattings and ended up taking the night bus home……it was a lovely walk over Tower Bridge from the South of the river though from the bus stop, and we flolloped into bed absolutely shattered at 3am!

A lie in was very much needed on Saturday morning, which fitted in perfectly with our days plans……we were heading over to friends Richard and Tara’s place in Farringdon to meet up for a nice late brunch. Knowing that the meal would probably cost us most of our day’s Weight Watchers Points, we opted to take the 40 minute walk there, through the City and Barbican (which gains us extra points). It was a lovely morning for a wander, and I know I’ll miss taking walks in the City, past the Guildhall and the pretty little gardens.

It was the first time we’d been to their new(ish) place too, and we enjoyed meeting their giant house rabbits! Our friend Sam was visiting for the weekend too, with her daughter, so the six of us popped around the corner to Giant Robot for a slap up brunch. It was a Bloody Mary to start for the most of us, and then their ‘Giant Omellette’ to eat….. both were utterly delicious and I left stuffed and sleepy!

We needed the walk back too, in order to wake me up a little and walk off the gluttony….so we ambled over to Old Spitalfields Market, where we met friends Kate and Jason to potter around Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. I’d been eying up a little Hornsea Pottery Fauna Deer Vase the last time the fair was there, and I’d decided that if the stall still had it, I’d get it! And sure enough, the pretty I Heart Vintage stall was there as usual, and their shelf of cutesy deer ornaments still contained what I was after! I snapped it up and also spent a while snooping their other treasures and getting ever so tempted by various vintage tins, cuckoo clocks and weather houses! I managed to be good though, at least until I came across a stunning green gingham melamine drop leaf table…..I’ve loved the style for ever and moving into the bigger house means we have space for such things. I plan to use it as a desk in my little studio and can’t wait to set it all up!

It was straight home after that (after all, Adam did have a table to carry!), and most of the rest of the day was spent drinking cups of tea, eating and reading, until it was time for an early night.

Sunday started with another naughty brunch of Belgian waffles, banana and maple syrup…..merely to set us up for another day out and about! After having stuffed our faces we jumped on the tube over to Pimlico to go to the car boot sale there. It runs every Sunday, inside and out, and I’m a little miffed that I only recently discovered it and this was our first visit! It’s crammed with booty, and we spent a good while mooching about the various offerings.

I picked up a great haul……several little bits and bobs from a big gingham cloth of treasures on the floor (which Adam had to forcibly remove me from rooting in), a beautiful Toile bed linen set (exactly what I was after for a guest room in the new house), a wonderful little man’s travel set (which will be added to my Etsy shop when I have some more vintage stock), and a darling little sweater with tortoises on it! I’ll post some pictures of my finds soon!

We still had a little energy left for adventure, and needed a cup of coffee, so we walked just round the corner to the Tate Britain. It’s undergoing a lot of work at the moment, so we found it tricky to make our way about, but we eventually found the cafe, only to be served two rather rubbish Americanos. Still, it was worth popping in just to see their awesome collection of Turners (my favourite) and their brilliant shop!

After that though we were pretty shattered, and so once home it was more cups of tea and reading until it was time for a supper of butternut squash risotto and a quick film before another early night! Rock and roll!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. My first stall at Old Spitalfields, gin and baking

So it was a pretty exhausting weekend all in all, not least because of the heat. It was lovely to see the sun come out for some proper summery weather finally, but it was a little too hot to do anything much (I need to be next to a pool with a Pina Colada in hand when it gets higher than 28 degrees). Still, it was an enjoyable weekend all the same…..

After an early night on Friday to prepare, we were up bright and early on Saturday morning and made our way down the road to Old Spitalfields. It was to be my first stall at my favourite market, as part of the Designers Makers market that takes place there every month.

I was super excited, and set up my little stall with a few new additions. We were ready in good time for a change (despite getting there as early as possible, I’ve always struggled to get everything out in time) so I must be getting better at it! I was quite pleased with how everything looked, although I couldn’t take any shots as I’d foolishly left my phone at home!

I was delighted to have some visitors a little into the day….Matthew and Siobhan came along for a chat and brought us fresh lemonade, and Richard and Tara delivered yummy ice cream whilst having a browse. Adam brought us some amazing cheese burgers from the take away window at The Luxe (which my stall was very close to), and I got chance for a wander around the other stalls myself even.

Unfortunately it wasn’t nearly as busy as usual at the market, because of the heat and school holidays perhaps. So I didn’t do nearly as well as I’d hoped, and only just broke even really. It was still a fun day though, and hopefully I’ll make more money when I do the next one on 15th September!

We packed up in record time too….closing up at 5pm and then home by 5:40! Then after a nice refreshing shower we walked back to Poppies Fish and Chips for some supper with the lovely Tara. I enjoyed my roast chicken and chips as usual, especially with lashings of gravy on the chips and mushy peas too (proper Northern lass that I am). Then after that we made our way homeward but stopped off at our favourite local, The Oliver Conquest. They serve over fifty different gins, and we are making our way through them all! We tried some very lovely new ones…. Monkey 47, Bathtub, Larios and Adnam’s Sloe Gin. We love it there so much that we arranged to have our leaving London drinks there next month, just before we move.
Sunday was a super lazy day….we were shattered after the long day before and with it being so hot we had a nice long lie in before spending most of the day slobbing around the flat. We had a rather naughty breakfast AND lunch of cupcakes we’d bought from the market on Saturday. We picked up four delicious cupcakes from Flavour Town Bakery‘s stall….. The Salted Caramel, the Snickers, the Lemon and the Red Velvet. All were amazing, especially the Salted Caramel which was just perfect to my mind.

We didn’t get much more virtuous through the day, as I baked us a banana and red currant loaf with some over-ripe bananas I needed to use up, and the red currants that came in our Abel and Cole box. I was really rather pleased with my recipe, and we both enjoyed a slice with some ice tea I made too. And for supper, we had a rather naughty cauliflower and macaroni cheese I knocked up. Yum!

 

We did a little online shopping for new furniture for the new house, watched a couple of DVDs, and generally pottered about and flollopped on the sofa….. a perfect Sunday really!

Hope you enjoyed the heat and the sun, and had a wonderful weekend whatever you did!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. To Devon for a wedding

Early on Saturday morning we hopped on the tube to Paddington, purchased coffees, and then jumped onto a train which was taking us to sunny Devon. That afternoon, we were invited to the blessing and wedding celebrations of my very dear friends Hannah and Jamie, in a tiny village near to the stunning Devonshire moors.

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For the journey

I spent much of the journey worrying about my little part in the wedding….I was to present a reading as part of the service, which I’ve never done before. Still, snacking all the way and staring out of the window at the glorious countryside around us, it wasn’t too bad a train journey.

We arrived at a little out-of-the-way train station, which it transpired was miles away from the nearest less-out-of-the-way-place (although a jolly cab driver and a couple of horse drawn caravans made the journey very pleasant). Once in Tiverton, the nearest town to the wedding, we realised that we were yet further from our extremely-out-of-the-way destination, and so had to make an SOS call to our lovely friend Lou to come and rescue us. Our journey from Tiverton Parkway station ended up taking us longer than the journey from home *to* that station, but it did take us to the charming Sampson Barton Guest House.

It was a bit of a rush once we arrived, to get ready and head over to the wedding, but I did enjoy calming my nerves with the lovely pot of tea and plate of cake that welcomed us to the guest house. We didn’t get much chance to take in our stunning surroundings before jumping back in Lou’s car to drive to the tiny village of Knowstone, where at the little church and village hall the wedding was to take place.

I was keen to be there in plenty of time, as I’d made one of my little jam jar scenes as a wedding cake topper and wanted to ensure it got set up nicely on the cake….and I wanted to get a seat nice and close to where I was reading so that I had less of a chance of stacking it on the walk up to the lectern! I managed both in plenty of time to sit and wind myself up further whilst waiting for the wedding party to arrive…. and by the time they did, and walked down the isle to Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”, I was a blubbing wreck!

Hannah and Jamie had already gotten married earlier in the day, with a civil ceremony attended by just their very closest friends and family. So everyone seemed wonderfully relaxed as they came into the church, and it seemed very much as though they could now all just enjoy the blessing service and the rest of the day. There was lots of beautiful singing from the choir (brought in specially, and the same choir that Hannah used to sing in, and her mum still does). Before my reading, our friend Chris read a wonderful piece by Dr Seuss, and Hannah’s Godmother ready one of my favourite Sonnets, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.

But after we all sang a hymn together, it was my turn to get up, and with hands shaking I read an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It was all I could do not to burst into tears whilst reading it, but I tried very hard not to rush it and to ensure I didn’t look at Hannah who I knew would be weeping too! I managed quite well until the last line (about ‘people who don’t understand’), then caught sight of Hannah and heard my voice crack as I finally succumbed to the tears.

After that came their blessing, and then it was time to leave the church again, out into the amazing sunshine. The couple looked so very happy (and stunning to boot!) as everyone took photos outside the church in the gorgeous bright light, and they continued to pose for the professional pictures as we all drank Champagne outside the village hall which is right next door.

It was great to catch up with so many people we’ve not seen for ages, and to soak up some of the sun! There was giant Jenga to entertain us also, and Jamie had made an amazing skittle run and coconut shy which were super popular too. It was no time at all though til we were heading inside for more drinks and the highly anticipated Hog Roast buffet! Inside the little village hall, Jamie had swagged white satin all the way across the ceiling, with pretty coloured lights and fairy lights inside…. it all looked so charming, and I especially liked the ribboned jam jars filled with bonbons on each table, as well as the personalised stickers holding the napkins in place.

The caterers had done a smashing job, and I devoured a plate full of absolutely delicious food…. the pork was Free Range so Adam and I had the rare joy of enjoying the full menu (and wading through all the Weight Watchers points we’d saved up for the week too!). Once we’d all filled our faces, Hannah’s Dad kicked off the speeches, and we toasted the couple lots with plenty of yummy Champagne. After that, Hannah’s Mum and Dad, along with a couple of other members of the village, got together to perform a few songs….it was so lovely to have people close to the couple as entertainment, and they got us rearing to go for the first dance!

I didn’t manage to get many good photos on my digital camera whilst inside at all, so I’m rather hoping that my analogue ones come out ok….but I was rather pleased with this rather grainy Instagram snap of Hannah and Jamie dancing their first dance…..

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First Dance

After that, we were up and dancing for most of the evening……. along with our RSVPs we’d all been asked to choose three songs to add to the playlist, and so we all took it in turns to get excited about hearing our choices come on! After a late supper of cheese, pork rolls and cake, we were rather whacked….probably a little to do with all the travelling and fresh air too! But we finished the night dancing to New York New York, swaying in a circle and kicking in time to the music as is tradition, and then made our sleepy ways back to the guest house.

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Full English

Shockingly, we were up in plenty of time to get downstairs for breakfast at a reasonable hour….. We yummed up a bowl each of fresh fruit before our Full English breakfasts were served up…. it was all super delish, especially the mushrooms and black pudding. After that, we walked off a few of the calories whilst adventuring in the guest house’s gardens….. they seem to go on forever! We met a lovely ginger cat on the walk, found a swing in a tree, and spotted stacks of gorgeous plants and flowers.

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A new friend

The Guest House itself is just delightful. The view from our room was incredible, and the house remarkable too. We received a lovely welcome from Bev and Neil, the owners, and I’d be delighted to go back again.

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The view from our room at Sampson Barton Guest House

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Pretty chintz in our room

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Outside the Guest House

By late morning though it was time to check out, so lovely Lou drove us back to Knowstone to help out at the village hall. I had a wonderful time helping Jamie take down the satin ceiling, tidying up and coiling cables and whatnot. It was great to get to spend a bit more time with everyone, especially Hannah and Jamie, and I even got a tour of Hannah’s parents cottage. The village is so very idyllic…. I can’t think that I’ve ever been somewhere where everyone really does know each other, and it’s a credit to the little community that so many people from the village were around to help with the wedding too.

Once we’d gotten nearly everything done, and the village hall restored to its former state, we spent a while relaxing in the beautiful garden at the Masons Arms. The pub actually has a Michelin star and is well known for its amazing restaurant, so it was a shame we weren’t there long enough to discover it properly. Still, it was amazing just to sit and soak up the sun with a cold drink in hand, and to natter to folk a bit longer.

Before too long though, it was time to head back to the station, and homeward. Our friend Timmy gave us company on the train journey home, and despite delays it didn’t seem any time at all before we were home and passed out in bed!

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The garden at the Masons Arms

Something from the weekend….. Champagne, picnic, and friends

What a lucky girl I am! I’ve just had the most wonderful weekend….. This Friday coming is my 30th Birthday and so on Saturday I celebrated my ‘official birthday’ (well, the Queen got one!)….

I had spent most of Friday getting over my fun-filled trip to Paris, but I managed to head to Waitrose for picnic supplies and catch up on some photo uploading etc. before spending a relaxing evening eating pub grub and completing the crossword….

Then on Saturday morning it was time to cut the sandwiches and pack the picnic hampers before heading over to meet everyone. I’ve nearly always had a picnic to celebrate my birthday since living in London, and so for my 30th it seemed apt I did just that. I wanted it to be super special though, so I invited everyone to the stunning little secret garden within the ruined old St Dunstan’s church very near to the flat. It’s so peaceful and beautiful there, and I very much wanted to share that with my friends. And so we walked there heavily laden with picnicking paraphernalia, hoping that the few drops of rain in between the sunny spells didn’t spell disaster!

Once there, Adam, my friend Michelle and I set up ready for everyone….. we hung bunting along the benches and in the trees, spread out cute checked blankets and laid out the goodies I’d prepared…… Cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, home made sausage rolls, salads, fruit and cakes….. I also set up a sort of Pimm’s station and popped the cork on the first bottle of Champagne of the day before my dear friends started to arrive, bringing even more goodies with them! Jane had prepared some yummy crudites and brought along an amazing sweet red wine which is served with strawberries and ice, and Dave was kind enough to dash to the shop to replace the jam I’d left at home so I could serve up some delicious Duchy scones with strawberry jam, clotted cream and strawberries.

I am always so excited about preparing for such occasions and seeing everyone, that I forget that birthdays often mean presents! So I was delighted to receive so many wonderful gifts from everyone….. lots of beautiful flowers… books about how to host the perfect picnic, finding vintage things in London and how to fold napkins in all sorts of designs…. some gorgeous cocktail accessories…. a British themed board game…. a very pretty set of silver trinket boxes…. home made sweeties and preserves… and even an ‘Under A Glass Sky’ patchwork tote bag, hand stitched by my friend Hannah. What a lucky girl I am!

I had such a glorious time chatting to people, yumming up all the treats, and enjoying the shorts bursts of sunshine. At times it was rather like I had my own little private party in the park because so few people know if and visit it, so we nearly had the place to ourselves! Afterwards those of us that remained returned to the flat to drink more Champagne and eat cake, and by the time the last guest had gone I had just enough energy to fill the dishwasher before flolopping into bed!

Thank you to Adam for taking photos all day and letting me share some here…..

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We decided that Sunday should be spent resting up and catching up from the busy week…. we had lots of picnic leftovers too so I had a lovely breakfast of smoked salmon with Prosecco, followed by a second breakfast of donuts and coffee! I also used up lots of left over cherry tomatoes and things to make some fresh pasta sauce to keep in the freezer for a rainy day, planned a soup I’ll make later today from left over cucumber and mint, and then whipped up a salad for lunch with goats cheese, broad beans and asparagus. Yum!

Along with a big post-party clean up, I did a few householdy things, uploaded more photos and generally lounged about all day. As has become tradition, I labeled some of the corks from the bubbles with the date and occasion to keep as a memento, and safely popped away all my gifts. For supper we finished off some of the yummy bread left over from Saturday, along with the Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and the home made chilli jam and red onion chutney we’d received as gifts. Then after finishing season 4 of True Blood finally, it was a very early night for us sleepy heads!

What a lovely ‘official birthday weekend’….. can’t wait til next weekend to celebrate my actual birthday!

Ems x