Teenage Dali Dreams

In 1997, it was basically a requirement if you identified as an alternative or artsy teenager (we were lovingly or perhaps not-so-lovingly referred to as freaks in my school) to have a Dali poster adorning at least one wall in your bedroom. It was my personal mission to cover every square inch of my walls with either clippings from art magazines of Dali paintings or Trent Reznor’s face. How else would people know I was angsty and awesome?

Actually, everything I owned was covered in some taped together collage of teenage expression.

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I remember my introduction to Dali’s work. Fourteen years old, sat in a random field in the middle of a breezy summer night under the Tennessee stars. I’m sure my parents thought I was at a sleepover watching Jared Leto be moody in My-So-Called-Life.

I wasn’t.

Flashlight in hand, thumbing through a giant coffee table sized book of Dali paintings. Absorbed in the colours, it was just me and the sea of grass bending rhythmically against the wind. Dark Side of the Moon softly echoing from the speakers of Big John’s truck parked a few meters away. One of those ‘it’s so good to be alive’ moments.

I remember thinking that this Dali guy really gets it. He sees it all. He includes it all. All of the things that matter. What a genius.
One of those extremely rare instances as a teenager where you actually feel understood. And you understand.

Dreaming big at that point in my life included a fantasy involving living in California one day. I’d be an actress or an artist or something bright and bohemian. You are full of so much magic and pain and possibility at 14. I’d resigned myself to the very real possibility that I’d probably never see a Dali painting in person.

But that was ok. I’m from a small town and my expectations were always reasonable and carefully managed.

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I never ever in a million years dreamt that I’d regularly have the opportunity to see and experience the things I have done. Living in Europe. A stone’s throw from all of the great works.

It’s mind-blowing and I’m still not 100% sure how everything aligned and got me here and onto this path. And the fact that it’s still so limitless. There is still so much available to me I’ve yet to explore. Damn, it’s intense.

Every gallery, every beautiful old red brick building I pass…it’s not lost on me for a second.
I’m thankful even when it’s shit and rainy and I’m tired and the London air smells like trash and burning.
This place is horrible and fantastic and I’m goddamn lucky.
At least I’ve had the choice. I have had the opportunity and that’s everything.

Blah blah blah. Nostalgia. I’m waxing now. I’ll stop.

Right, so Dali. I was heading somewhere with this I promise.

I had the honour and privilege to visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain last year. I never got around to posting the photos because well, honestly it’s been a challenging year and I’ve been focusing on other things and not focusing etc.

Alas, I want to get these up because it was a breathtaking experience and it’s just time move on with more recent photography so here we are…

What an absolute dream to visit this place, truly. It was cathartic and heartbreaking and confusing and exhilarating to see all of these works in person. I hope you enjoy.

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Lisbon

The next few posts are going to be less wordy and more of a photo dump as I’m so far behind posting anything…x

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My culinary choices consisted mostly of octopus…naturally. ❤

A Cevicheria https://www.facebook.com/ACevicheriaChefKiko/

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BBQ octopus with pork rind

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Salmon & tiger milk ceviche with edamame and peanut

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Tuna ceviche with tapioca and tomato

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Whitefish ceviche with potato lime and seaweed

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Halibut with quinoa, mussel, prawn, seaweed, cockle, oyster foam & kombu

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Banana & peanut butter cake

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Lisbon Timeout Market had an unbelievable selection of eats to choose from…spent a good portion of the day here eating!

Cold Octopus salad

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Roasted octopus stew with potato crisps…

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Salad with goats cheese & honey ice cream

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Chocolate bomb

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Portuguese custard tart

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Seafood hotpot

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Piel Island

Not far from the coast of Barrow-In-Furness lies a curious little island with an rich and interesting history. Earliest records stretch back to the 12th century when King Stephen placed the island under the care of Savignac Monks and the Cistercian order. It was here that for centuries grain, wool, wine and other precious commodities were stored (and smuggled).

What remains of the castle and it’s surrounding fortifications today is mostly a mass of crumbling stone and a pub called ‘The Ship Inn’. This pub has taken care of those that pass through with lunch and a pint of local ale for centuries. Traditionally whomever runs the pub is crowned ‘King of Piel Island’ and the tradition continues to this day. Apparently there is a ceremony that involves you sitting in a 300 year old wooden throne and having beer poured all over you.

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My idea of heaven.

Last July when we visited Cumbria we took a tiny little boat across waters peppered with jellies to explore Piel island and a few pints.

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We made a friend on the ferry over. 😉

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And even more friends once we got there!

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I love a good sheepie cuddle. ❤

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Our tour guide Mr. Chicken was ace.

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Because I can’t seem to do more than one thing at I time, I nearly fell of the side off the island and tumbled into the sea when I was busy framing a shot and not watching my feet. Thankfully my darling father-in-law was there in time to pull me out of the brambles and into safety. You really can’t take me anywhere!

We celebrated my near death experience with a pint!

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A few little jellies…

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That’s it! Piel Island done! x

Coniston Old Man

Oh crap….I’m almost a full year behind on posting. 😦

I have no idea how that happened.

I’m so bad.

I keep doing this to you! All 7 of you who come here. LOL.

Well anyway, sorry!!!

The good news is that I’ve got tons of travel photos in the vault – we’ve been galvanting this past year and I’ve been documenting it per usual- so I’ll catch everyone up. All 7 of you.

What do you say we go ahead and sweep the last year of neglecting my poor blog right under the rug and pick up where I left off last July? Yeah?! Great. 😀

Soooooo….right. Lake District. Summer Holiday.

After an initial taster walk around the Lakes, S and I decided to take a crack at the Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag walk. Coniston Old Man is a gorgeous mountain (12 largest in England) which stands 2,634 feet above Cumbria and boasts some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness.

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Swirling layers of fluffy clouds slicing through the horizon. Bright rolling hills carpeted with greenery and napping sheep. SHEEEEEEEEP.

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Ancient boulders jutting from the Earth like sleeping giants in some fantasy novel.

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The surprise discovery of tiny sparkling lakes as blue as anything, shimmering in the sunlight like a bag of sapphires.

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Making lots of new friends.

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Pretty romantic stuff.

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But holy hell, you’ve got to work for it. It’s a proper 5 hour climb with some bouldering and nausea-inducing ‘do not look down for the love of god’ moments (granted that’s coming from a complete mountaineering novice whom spent much of last summer drinking craft ale and lazing about. Talking about myself. Cheers mate!)

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S was ahead of me most of the climb as I heaved and puffed and swore under my breath (and also swore quite loudly) until my body warmed up and I got into the rhythm of the ascent. Once my lungs caught up and my booty kicked in (S calls it the powerhouse which I think is quite sweet because dumptruck is probably more accurate).

I’m getting off-topic. This is about mountaining not the size of my ass.

Anyway, it was simply windy and warm and lovely and challenging. Totally surreal to be up with the clouds. To have climbed your way up to something that high. For me anyway. I’m new to heights!

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We did it in just over 5 hours and we were pretty knackered by the time we got back to the car, but it was really amazing.

Next up… Piel Island!

Summer in the Lake District – Walla Crag, Keswick

When the need for surroundings involving less concrete and more sheep became all-consuming this past July, we took some time off and drove up to Cumbria stay with my lovely in-laws.

10 glorious days were had. 10 spectacularly restorative days without buses heaving with Summer tourists. Quiet mornings free from angry elbows digging into my ribcage as I try to squeeze on the 8:00am train into London. Tranquil afternoons. Peaceful evenings. Just clean mountain air, craft beer, and lots of green and blue.

I’ve mixed a bit of black & white as well. Hope you enjoy. x

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Belgique! Discovering Ghent, Bruges, & Brussels…Part Six – The Atomium

There was one final place on our list to visit before our stay in Belgium came to an end!

I give you, The Atomium in Brussels.

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Constructed for the 1958 World Fair in Brussels, this futuristic architectural wonder is equal parts science fiction and brilliant design. Crafted of steel and standing at 102 meters high, this amazing structure is a replica of the unit cell of an iron crystal atom – magnified 165 billion times.

And you can go inside of it!

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Inside the beast…

Elevator shaft…S looks up intently.

View from the top sphere…

2001: A Space Odyssey on a loop…

Each giant steel sphere is connected to the next by tunnels containing either metal staircases or escalators lit with rainbow light panels that flicker and pulse as you descend.

A little video…

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Read more about the Atomium here: http://www.atomium.be/

Farewell Belgium! You were very good to us – thanks and see you again one day! xx

Belgique! Discovering Ghent, Bruges, & Brussels…Part Cinq!!—-Brussels <3

On our last day in Belgium we wandered around Brussels a bit aimlessly. A happy and relaxed last-day-on-holiday sort of aimlessness. Eyeing the shop windows for choccy, stopping in for Moule Frites, exploring some back streets and churches. Blissful wandering.

Camera in hand as always. Enjoy. x

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So many treats…

Belgique! Discovering Ghent, Bruges, & Brussels…Part Quatre!! Onward to Bruges!

One of these days I’ll get all of our photos up from our Belgium trip. There are just so many! 😛

Ghent was indeed quite beautiful, but Bruges really stole my heart and I didn’t want to leave. ❤

We lucked out yet again with an amazing Airbnb situation (I know there have been a lot of horror stories floating around lately but we've always had great experiences – do your research!)

I would strongly suggest staying here if you go to Bruges.
Mina stays quite booked up so you may have difficulty securing the reservation because of the amazing stack of reviews and awards she's gotten, but if you can, it's really the most perfect little place.

We were picked up at the train station gratis (amazing)!!

Fed and watered like royalty…

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And the ensuite room was stocked with everything you would need (including a Nespresso machine! DREAMLIFE!)
You can book here directly (if you aren’t into Airbnb) http://www.biminthus.be/index.php?lang=en

Bruges is where I really let my chocoholic flag fly proudly.

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Who doesn’t need a big pair of chocolate boobs?

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No shortage of beer!

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Mmmmmmmmm KWAK!

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Beer bible! The only bible for me!!

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Satan makes delicious beer. No surprises there.

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Food was wonderful as well!

Fondue…

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Vol-au-vent au poulet
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And Bruges, itself…simply stunning.

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Basilica of the Holy Blood

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DALI Museum

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Up next! Brussels & the Atomium…

Belgique! Discovering Ghent, Bruges, & Brussels …part one

Ahhhhhh Belgium! So many reasons to visit this beautiful country.

Picturesque cottages. Quirky Cobblestone streets. Beer. (REALLY AMAZING BEER) Art. Chocolate. (REALLY AMAZING CHOCOLATE) Swans. Misty canals. Moules Frites. Medieval churches. Waterzooi. More beer. More beer. More beer.

And rain. If you like and/or can tolerate rain, then yes. Visit.

I read a travel blog before my recent trip to Belgium where the author said the one thing she was able to determine by her visit to Belgium, was that it is always raining.
I would like to add to that statement by offering up my observation that if it is not raining, it has either just stopped raining or is about to start raining again.

BUT we went in February – which is really us begging to be rained upon. I promise I’m not complaining!

As you may know if you’ve followed my blog or are actually my real life friend, a year and half ago S and I bought a nice big house in a gorgeous leafy area of London. It is lovely and we are much happier and have loads more spaces than in the flat in Stockwell, TRUST.
But the “semi-constant” home improvements to said dwelling have definitely limited our ability to travel as often as we would like. We would travel every weekend if we could. But wouldn’t everyone?

Eventually the daily grinding commute and bustle of such a enormous and unforgiving city, creates a time bomb situation where you must get the hell out of Dodge. This happened last year around this time when we went to Slovenia. Like clockwork, by January of this year I was again up to my neck with boiling hatred for London.

So, it was time to GIT!

And this is where being in London has its advantages. One 25 minute train journey to St. Pancras Station, hop aboard The Eurostar, put in your heaphones, sip on your latte and in a few short hours you can be wining and dining in a myriad of amazing European cities. It’s the bees pyjamas.

So we chose Belgium for OPERATION: DECOMPRESS VIA ALL OF THE BEER.

We love Airbnb! It has always served us well. Both places we stayed in Belgium were probably the luckiest we’ve gotten with Airbnb accommodation thus far. The old Monastery conversion we stayed at in Ghent was absolutely stunning!

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Skip the fees and book directly through them here: http://bbmariereine.be/recensies.html

And the historic town centre itself is incredible.

Sint-Michielskerk glowing at night…

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Graffiti tunnel…

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We had a beautiful dinner at De Graslei http://www.restaurantdegraslei.be/en where I ordered the very traditional Flanders dish “Waterzooi”

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It was SO YUMMY.

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As was my dinner date. ❤

All the walking around in the freezing rain made us VERY thirsty. So we spent a lovely evening sampling (pouring beers directly into our faces) a few of the 250 beers on offer at Pub ‘de Dulle Griet’ http://www.dedullegriet.be/en/

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If you want to drink the gigantic “Max” beer, you must hand over one of your shoes. It goes in the basket, the bell is rung, your shoe is lifted high to the ceiling and here comes your beer!

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And then you drink the rest of the beers…

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ALL THE BEER! Up next…The Design Museum Exhibit Lightopia and WAFFLES!

A Very Autumnal Pug Meet!

I realise it’s Christmas and these photos are from November, but I’ve been a very busy lady per usual so sorryabouthat!

Anyway, PUGS! Enjoy the snarfly, wrinkly, flarpy puggleses and a few Frenchies!

This one is mine.

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My magical Mrs. Tumness.

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Queen of the Flarp. Princess of all of the peppermints. The wuggle wugwuggs.

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That’s her with her Grampa bear.

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And here’s me cheating on her with another wuggs.

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ACK! That face! Love it.

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Annnnnndddd another one!

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Just letting it all hang out. 😛

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And those are mine too! Sir Noodles (self proclaimed King of Pugs) and my other half, Mr. Gimmeyummy!

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Pretty darn magical!

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Happy Christmas!!! xxx

My Brother Arrives!

Hooray for visitors! My big brother recently flew from Nashville to London to visit me (first time travelling outside of the US mind you). This consisted of us basically dragging him around to anything and everything historically notable we could cram into his short stay! We made sure to keep him calm in the face of public transport by plying him with lots of craft beer! Please forgive the combination of bad iphone photos and proper photographs! 😉

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The boys ready for the 49ers game!

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Climbing at Trafalgar Square…

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Imperial War Museum!

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British Museum!

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Boat taxi home on the Thames…

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The obligatory phone booth shot!

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The Emirates Air Line!

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Deep thoughts on the Thames with Dan…

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Off to the Tower of London!

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A little afternoon stroll…

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I already miss ya bro! Come back soon! xx
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Another Glorious Green Park Pug Meet + Being A Tourist…

I’m about 2 weeks late with this – better late than never.

Prepare yourself for a big dose of HAPPY.

Because PUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGSSSSSS!!!!

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NOODLES is convinced that he is their leader…

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I even brought some friends this time to share in my crazy.

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Who’s pug is this? DOESN’T MATTER – I just had to HUG him.

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Pepper is such a little tart…

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Once Sir Noodles felt that all of the pugs had been conquered, we headed to the pub for a bite to eat with Stu-pot.
He’s been visiting us from China where is a fancy pants tea ambassador! ❤
Stu has an amazing Tea blog by the way, check it – http://teaearlgreyhotblog.tumblr.com/

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Then off to Tower Bridge for a stroll along the Thames.

ACK!!! Tourists!

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My dog has been more places than you.

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If you live in London you should check out the poppy installation currently at the Tower.

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ww1-centenary/poppies-in-the-moat

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We ended with pints and grub at Southwark Tavern…

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Fish and Chips!! Yummmmmm.

This is Stu showing me how to take an appropriately obnoxious selfie because apparently my attempts at selfie taking were not obnoxious enough. 😉

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It was a brilliant pug & London event-filled day! And then it was bedtime for all! Cheers! x

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A Weekend in Worcester…

It was that time again.

Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep.

We needed a break!

One Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, we piled the family into the car (pups included) and headed North for a couple of days of respite.

Goodbye London, hello Worcester!

Pronounced “Wooster” Not “WAR-CHESTER” (as I continue to do despite knowing very well how it should be pronounced).

Our friends live in a beautiful old Georgian house filled to the brim with antiques nestled quietly between neighbouring farms.

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The view from breakfast…

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A gorgeous hike…

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Happy little babies…

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A bit of rain…

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Which gave me plenty of time to explore this amazing house stuffed to the brim with antique tins, boxes, bottles, prints, signs and general oddities!

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Pepper was not at all pleased when we told her it was time to leave! (Neither we were)

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Thanks Linda & Al!!

xxoo

Beautiful Barton-On-Sea and The New Forest – now with MORE PONIES!

Barton-On-Sea is a very special place. When we can no longer stand the incessant hum of city life, this is our escape. A couple of hours in the car driving South takes you to a magical land where animals roam free. Sparkling waters, crumbling orange coastline, and The New Forest nearby…Cows, pigs, ponies, donkeys…all just knocking around your neighbourhood as tame as a house cat.
We recently escaped to the sea for a few days of peace and sunshine. It was as rad as it always is. Enjoy the photos! x

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Cars! – For my Dad on his 62nd birthday, I dedicate this to you!

My Dad has always been obsessed with cars. Actually, most of the men in my life have had a deep love for a superbly crafted automobile. The curves, the sparkle. The speed. The smell of expensive leather.
I get it, I really do.
I’ve never walked down the street with a man and watched him turn his head for a beautiful woman (honestly I think this is an urban myth or everyone else has dated assholes) but I have seen this happen more times then I could ever recollect with beautiful cars. I have witnessed my brother drop repeated F-bombs and actually blush with excitement at the sight of a classic corvette. I am convinced that the slow moving pedestrian traffic on Kings Road is entirely due to the ridiculous population of ultra expensive cars. You guys freak out over sexy machines the way I freak out over miniature ponies. And that’s okay!

Right, so today My husband and I ventured to Oxleas Wood for an impromtu picnic and some frisbee with the dogs. Much to our delight, there was some sort of classic car & BBQ event complete with a Rockabilly band in full swing!

There was absolutely NO way I was going to just walk by and not take photos for my Dad. That would just never happen. And tomorrow is his birthday! So what excellent timing! Hey Dad! I hope you enjoy this car-themed birthday blog post just for you!! x

Noodles starts us off right with a bit of window surfing on the drive to the park…

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He gets really zen in the wind…

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And then we did Frisbee!

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And other people did kites! It was a great day for kites.

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Pepper spent the entire time trying to be more adorable than she currently is.

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Ha! Like that is even possible.

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Good try Pepper pug. You are the maximum level of cute allowed by the UK Government.

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We tried to take a nice duo selfie but Pepper kept licking my eye balls and it was just too dang bright outside.

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And then the sun turned to storm clouds…

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So we decided to beat the rain and hiked up the monster hill and started snapping car photos!

I’m going to preface this section by saying that my car knowledge is even lower than my ability to fully appreciate cars. I can identify cars that are clearly rad but I don’t know what they are called or why they are special or how many horses they have in their doo-hickey. So forgive me for being a complete jerk and making up new names for these cars. Because I’m about to do that. Maybe my Dad can enlighten me afterwards. Or disown me entirely.

THIS is obviously a super awesome VW Bus and a child would know that. And it is awesome.

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This used to be a VW bus right?

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And now it’s a VW Truck? Okay. VW-BUSSYTRUCK. Boom! This is easy. NEXT!

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Sweet Lord, this is clearly Jessica Rabbit as an automobile. Jessica Rabbit In-CAR-nate?
That’s either the worst or best pun ever. Worst, right?

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That looks like the back end of a woman in a tight red dress to me.

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I know I’m getting a bit abstract here. But I see what I see.

This is some sort of old-timey truck with it’s flappy flaps up so all the men can see the horses in the doo-hickey. Amiright?

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This is a tow truck and I know that because I can read.

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This is Elvis’ car and I know this because his name is all over it.

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Elvis apparently had really good taste because this car is gorgeous and makes me want a chocolate malt and a flash mob doing Grease Lightning to come into my life immediately.

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Not entirely convinced that this was CAR, more like a wonderful vehicular creation of scraps and doo-dads.

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Cool nonetheless!

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Yeah okay fine it’s probably a car.

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A car clearly blasting Metal on the road to Hell.

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Speaking of things that aren’t cars. This is not a car. I was informed that this is a deathtrap.

THE Deathrap.

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Aaaannnndddd it’s covered in Spiders.

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I told the lady sitting on it that I thought it was pretty cool and she said “yeah we were going for something a bit retro.”

Hmmmmm I’m no expert but…

That’s not the word you were looking for.

THIS is retro.

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And really fun.

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This must belong to Gatsby. Obviously.

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And this would be the opposite of that. TAZ.

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This is Dick Tracy’s car.

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I loved Dick Tracy. That was back before Madonna got all sculpted and sinewy. She was a proper babe. All of the Cleavage.

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A series of beat up but exceptionally wonderful old trucks…

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This car also had his flap up. It must have magic inside.

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This is the George Clooney of classic cars. I might leave my husband for this car.

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Am I becoming a car enthusiast?

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This is simply stunning.

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This car knows what’s up. I want to go to the party that this car is going to. I bet there is an infinity pool.

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Not as awesome but still awesome. Subtly awesome.

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They are all awesome. Which is why they are even here.

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I have no idea what this is but it’s amazing and has an airplane hood ornament and looks like its eating a chrome sandwich.

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I give you “The Flying Ford Chromewich”

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This might be the shiniest car I have ever seen.

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I actually looked this one up because I loved it so much. British make!

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It’s simply dreamy.

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This truck was my favourite and as much as a pile of metal can make a person swoon, it made me swoon.
Something so beautiful about the rust pattern & colour…

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I mean… just incredible.

Sigh.

And that’s it! My random and fantastically surprising Sunday afternoon with a bunch of old cars. I hope you got a kick out of the photos dad! I love you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! xxx

Four Countries In Four Days – Part 3

It was brought to my attention that I completely forgot to mention the epic meat feast Uros treated us to in Ljubljana at CAD http://www.gostilna-cad.si/gb/index.html This was the day we walked around in the rain and watched the Rugby in the pub!

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This was my first experience with Serbian/Bosnian cuisine and it reminded me of Thanksgiving because the food was so delicious and plentiful but my stomach started waving the white flag of defeat shortly after we started!

So there you go! Homage has been paid Uros! All was not forgotten!

So let’s wrap up this colossally amazing trip with more photos of things we saw, ate and drank! 😉

The last full day/night in Ljubljana we met up with Uros and Jani and drove to Lake Bled, easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

The boys!

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The castle!

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The church in the middle of Lake Bled!

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Uros!

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Jani!

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Me trying to express how hungry I was with very lady-like hand gestures…

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They took the hint and we went immediately for Slovenian Pizza and beer!

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Which, was UNBELIEVABLE.

Afterwards we took a stroll down to the bottom of the hill to get a good view of the castle…

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Then we piled into the car for a scenic drive…

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And did some frolicking in the snow…

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The men were quite triumphant after navigating the deep snow banks…

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Which kicked off an obligatory snowball fight!

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Then we drove into Austria! Because why not?

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We got there just in time for a sunset stroll in Klagenfurt…

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We stopped for a coffee and ice cream and cake! MMMMMmmmmmm.

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More Dragons!

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SCHMUCK JEWELLERS. AMAZING. At least they are upfront about it right??

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The boys steering the ship to nowhere…

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Thank you Jani for the beautiful tiny dusk tour of Klagenfurt! xx

The next morning Uros took us out for a scrumptious breakfast in a gorgeous little French cafe in Ljubljana.

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Then we packed our bags and headed to Italy for one last stroll around the coast in Trieste.

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And that’s it! Four countries! Four days! All of the funtimes!

Thank you to Uros and Jani for being such incredible hosts and tour guides for us. We were absolutely desperate for a few days out of London and you gave us the most relaxing and gorgeous holiday. We are forever grateful and you are always welcome to stay with us at Westcombe Manor! We miss “Lah jub jub” already!!! xx

PUGS! London Monthly Pug Meetup @ Green Park!

AHHHHH!!!! The first Saturday of every month there is a gathering of pugs and pug owners in Green Park. I’m not entirely sure why it has taken so incredibly long for me to attend, but I have now corrected this cosmic mistake and will forever attend the monthly pug meets! I was so excited meeting these amazing creatures that I overzealously mishandled a puppy and sustained a minor eye injury. All in the game yo!

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Behold! Pugs galore! All shapes and sizes! All magical and super rad.

Princess Peppermint Sparklechops was ready for it.

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I certainly was. I picked up the first stranger pug I saw. MINE! HUGS! GIMME!

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Pepper is all “What the hell mom?” and I’m all “I CAN HUG ALL OF THE PUGS. DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. GO PLAY!”

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And off she went!!

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Puuuuuuuuggggggggzzzzzzzz…

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This is the slugger that did me eye in…

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Sir Noodles got some snuggles too…

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Pretty much the best day ever. Plum pugger’d out!

If you live in London and own a pug, why not join the rest of us crazies at one of London’s pug meetups? http://www.meetup.com/londonpugs/

See you there! x

Horniman Museum: An Afternoon of Delightful Curiosities

Frederick John Horniman was once the world’s biggest tea trader and an eccentric collector of vast curiosities with a passion for objects of great interest, culture and beauty.
His extensive and eclectic collection of priceless objects is now housed at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in the Forest Hill area of London.
We recently spent a quiet Saturday afternoon exploring the treasures within, and I (of course) brought along my camera so I could document these delightful and intriguing finds. Enjoy!

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Go see it for yourself!!! There was so much stuff but my camera is rubbish in low light! http://www.horniman.ac.uk/

Up Next: 4 countries in 4 days!

Kitchen Reveal!

We have finally finished remodelling the kitchen (for the most part). It still needs a lick of paint in a few spots where the wallpaper was peeled away for our new kitchen window to be installed. And we need a new and more modern breakfast table, but I’d say it is 99.9% finished and 100% perfect.

We had such a tough time deciding whether to pay tribute to our Edwardian home and go with a more rustic style or embrace a more clean and simple aesthetic. In the end, we went with modern! And Sparkly!

Before:

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And then updated to:

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And now I present to you our new beautiful massive London Kitchen of my dreams:

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It’s simply sparkletastic! I hope you like it as much as we do! x

(Staying) Home for the Holidays.

After the crazy/busy/wonderful/stressful
year we’ve had, all we wanted for Christmas was to kick our feet up and RELAX.

We didn’t go anywhere this year.
No Spain, no Cumbria, no Nashville.
Nope, not in 2013.
We’ve had a proper staycation.

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We bought a Christmas tree and hung up stockings and all that jazz.

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I’m not religious at all but I love Christmas decorations and the traditional bits associated with it.

Combine that with having this big old house that hasn’t been painted or decorated yet…I probably went a little crazy decking the halls.

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I only have 3 days left of my vacation and I’m pretty sad about it.
I’ve gotten used to eating meals with my husband (gasp!) and getting to accompany him on dog walks (what?!).

We’ve spent a lot of time watching films in and out of the cinema as well as working our way through The Wire (which is downright unbelievably good television).

S even made us a gorgeous Christmas dinner! Amazing!

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And because these are too fantastic not to share-here are a couple of brilliant shots from the company Holiday party.
Can you guess the theme?

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We’ve been dog sitting a little muppet of a dog over the holidays as well so there are THREE pups in our pack currently. Lots of walks and lots of fun at Greenwich park.

Meet Cooper. The Fraggle.

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I took my camera along on one of our walks the other day to capture some more of the magic that is my new neighbourhood.
I seriously cannot believe I get to live in such a beautiful place.

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That view NEVER gets old.

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We made a few furry friends along the way.

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Simon and the pups at the top of One Tree Hill. Simply breathtaking.

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I know I’m very lucky. I love my life and especially the people and creatures that are part of it.

Wherever you are in the world I hope you are feeling the same way and enjoying all the beautiful things that make the world so magical. If it’s not going so well for you, take a deep breath and know that you are loved and that the New Year is just around the corner.
Draw a line under the bad stuff and get ready for a year of joy! xx

A little piece of home with The Cadillac Three…

Sometimes weeks go by where I barely think of my old life in Nashville. Sometimes it’s all-consuming and I get so swept up in the nostalgia that it’s all I can think about. That’s the tricky part about living in the same place for 28 years and then suddenly starting over in a new country. It doesn’t all just go away and get replaced by new things.
There are the new things and the old things, and sometimes they work against each other.

I don’t know when I’ll be home again and that upsets me a little.
I just try to focus on my life here and that works until I see photos of my niece and nephew or see another friend has announced a pregnancy or gotten engaged.

Another wedding I will surely miss. Another baby. Life goes on…

It’s sad, but it’s the choice I made and I’ve never regretted it for one second.

I think about it sometimes, if my husband just announced one day: “I’m ready for a quieter life! Let’s go live in Nashville!!!”

I’m not sure I’d want to go back and live there.
Part of me does because it’s so comfortable and familiar.
I know everyone and everyone knows me.
It would be so easy. Like your favourite flip-flops.
We’ve been through so much together Nashville and I.

I think perhaps I’ve outgrown it somehow and I’d actually feel a bit lost.
It’s impossible to say really. My opinion on the subject changes monthly.

I do miss my friends though. This never changes. And when friends come to London I get REALLY excited.

Recently, some friends I’ve known for half of my life came to play a few gigs in London and I went out to Camden to see them.

They’ve been playing music together since they were kids and although I’ve seen them in a lot of different bands over the years, this one (The Cadillac Three) is probably the most authentic and solid thing I’ve seen any of them do. https://www.facebook.com/TheCadillacThree?fref=ts

Or maybe this is just my favourite?

I will fess up and say that although I love Pecan Pie and Dolly Parton and I swear on Tara that I am a Southern girl through and through – I’m really not a huge Southern Rock fan.

I am however, very happy to report that their show was really really good and I had a blast.

Not just saying that! It was GREAT.

I actually almost flaked out on going because it was a school night and I knew it was going to take me an hour to get there and an hour back- but I seriously love these dudes so I made it happen and I’m glad for it.

Twas most excellent!

And yeah, of course I took some photos!

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Kelbs & I hanging after the show…

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See y’all later! xx

A Change of Scenery.

Howdy!

I am overjoyed to inform you that I am officially on Christmas Holiday as of today (yes I said holiday, not vacation).
I’ve finally assimilated! I have 11 days to do whatever I want and I’m going to try to spend as much of it as possible in yoga leggings eating clementines and watching films with my main squeeze and my cuddly pups.

A lot has transpired in the last few months since I’ve disappeared from my blog. We’ve sold our flat in Stockwell and bought an old Edwardian house in Greenwich/Blackheath.

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It’s basically the house I’ve dreamt about living in since I was 5 years old and started watching fluffy period films.

It’s also a reasonably big house so the dogs are pretty much in heaven and spend much of their day running up and down stairs and out the cat flap into the back garden so they can bark at EVERYTHING THAT MOVES. 😉

My work life has been hectic but spectacularly fun and rewarding. The business has been growing exponentially which has presented me with the opportunity to really hone my skills and stay challenged on a daily basis.
I also get to work with the raddest group of women and honestly love my fucking job.

I have also fallen madly in love with living in the UK and I feel much more at home here than I did last year around this time.
I know it’s hard to believe that I would have ever not been in love with London, but coming from Tennessee, London life got pretty exhausting pretty darn fast.

Living in a city the size of London can be intense regardless of where you are from. I am from Nashville, and I belly laugh at the thought of how I used to fume with rage sitting in traffic with my Starbucks latte listening to Fresh Air on NPR.

I had no idea. At least I didn’t have to share space with anyone!

In Nashville, you drive from point A to point B and you can sing loudly and badly in your car.
You can cry. Scream. No one is watching you.
This is your time. You and Terry Gross. You and your iced mocha.
Traffic or no traffic, you get to travel to work in privacy.

I remember those days fondly, but I think now I actually prefer not having to drive everywhere.
Not having to stop for gas or put air in my tires. I definitely don’t miss my monthly freak out because smoke is pouring out from under the hood of my poor car.

Nope. Now I just get on the train and am transported to my destination.

That being said, there are just so many people in London.
From the moment I leave my house in the morning and make my way to the train station I’m surrounded by them. People on public transport typically have complete disregard of anyone else around them.

There are also plenty of polite people that get out of their seats to let an elderly man sit but they are outweighed by the assholes, trust me.

It is also REALLY difficult to stay positive and think happy thoughts when it’s 8:00am and I’m standing with a 50 lb backpack squished against the wall of the train underneath the armpit of a guy reading a newspaper than keeps flapping into my face every time the train starts to sway a bit.

FLAP. FLAP. FLAP.

I actually slapped a paper out of a man’s hands once in protest and he seemed quite horrified, but I think I was secretly celebrated as a hero to everyone else that witnessed my tube rage.

Then there are the people towering over you with their disgusting bacon buttie morning breath, or even better those heart-warming individuals that want to share their breakfast experience with everyone on the tube. There they are-chomping away on their smelly baguettes from Upper Crust as I watch bits of sweet corn topple from their mouths and onto the puddles of their coffee already being sloshed all over my backpack.

LE SIGH.

All the while everyone exiting and entering the carriage is stepping on my toes as my face gets pushed deeper and deeper into the glass of the train door. At no point when I thought of my life at 30 did it include getting punched in the boob so often.

Sometimes I get lucky and I get a seat! Then you get to be wedged between two assholes blasting horrible top 40 shit on crappy headphones. But at least you are sitting!

You basically have to learn the public transportation game if you are going to be a successful commuter and not lose it on someone.

You’ve got to learn the ebb and flow of the trains/buses/tubes you take.

What carriages are usually less busy?

What part of the platform should I stand at so that the door opens to align with the exit tunnel at the station in order to saving me exactly 24 seconds of fighting through the herd of commuters to the escalators?

Don’t be lazy and be an escalator-stander. Save yourself another 45 seconds by walking up the left side.
Burn off some calories. Get out some aggression. Hold onto the hand rail.

Do be aware though that should you fall, they will step over your lifeless body. This will of course also be recorded on someone’s iPhone and posted to Youtube within the hour for you to revisit!

Commuting via public transport can be one of the single most stressful and infuriating experiences if you don’t do it right.
My journey every day consists of two trains, two buses, and two tube journeys to get me to work and back home.
Sometimes I just have to look at the floor in front of me when I’m walking because it is mentally taxing to look at any more faces. But I’ve gotten a good set of headphones and I never leave the house without at least 4 TV shows downloaded onto my iPhone ready to be watched. I check emails, troll facebook, read a good book. The key is to stay busy!

My commute to and from work has been made much more enjoyable now that I can just huddle in the corner of the train and watch Top Chef. I still get stepped on and bumped into, but at least I’m distracted by Tom Colicchio’s beautiful shiny head and it makes it all okay somehow.

Anyway, back to our recent move! We moved for a number of reasons. We were really annoyed with the neighbourhood we were living in. Aside from the fantastic people at the dog park, the rest of our neighbours were horrible and I dreaded my walk to the tube every day. There was a lot of litter everywhere, people were really anti-social, and it just wasn’t a pleasant experience.

We also needed a bigger space. We needed a place with a garden for the dogs. They have limitless energy and the 1st floor flat just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

We are now just a short walk to Greenwich Park which I have chronicled before when Becca visited…https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/beccas-visit/

This is my happy place these days. This is where I go to unwind and decompress from the urban overload of my Monday-Friday routine. Here is a snapshot of how we spend our weekend in our new neighbourhood!

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View of London at dusk from One Tree Hill.

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Pups in flight…

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Queen Elizabeth’s Oak.

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Here is a little snippet from http://www.thegreenwichphantom.co.uk/2007/12/queen-elizabeths-oak/ explaining why this tree is so special:

“Why Queen Elizabeth’s Oak? Because popular tradition reckons that Henry VIII sported with Anne Boleyn under its branches (well, ok, ‘danced’) and the fruit of his loins, the future QEI “oft partook of refreshments” in its shade. It’s not, by the way, the tree under which she was sitting eating an apple when she discovered she had been made Queen.”

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My husband has taught me this year that the key to living happily in London is about finding the right balance. 2014 will find me striving for this. I think by next year I’ll be an old pro at this city life thing, you wait and see. xx

You can never have too many ponies…

I remember the exact moment I realized that the magical sparkly world I lived in might be a big horrible lie. I was 6 years old and I had been seeing this commercial for weeks in between my much-cherished Saturday morning cartoons:

Omg. They fly. They are ponies that fly. Flutter Ponies. Holy shit. NEED.

I decided that I had to have a flutter pony more than anything in the world and eventually I wore my mother down and was soon standing in the “Barbie aisle” of Target (as I always called it).
AKA the “PINK aisle” (American girls you know what I’m talking about).

Anyway, there I am. A shiny naive six-year-old Jamie Susan. I’m rocking the SIDE PONYTAIL and I’ve got my SLIP-ON KEDS and I’m taking FOREVER carefully selecting my magical flutter pony.
Probably the most important decision of my life at this point.

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How do you choose a new best friend!?

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I picked the pale yellow one with pink hair. I don’t recall her name. But I couldn’t get out of Target fast enough to free her from her packaging and watch my new friend fly across the parking lot.

I literally threw her into the air. I watched with all of the hope in the universe. My pony was gonna flutter around my head like a butterfly and my life would be complete.

Instead, gravity ripped her from the air and she landed near my mom’s car with a loud plastic THUD.

I remember my mother gazing down at me with amazement on her face.

“Why did you do that??”

I looked at her incredulously. WHAT A STUPID QUESTION!

I can honestly still recall the sensation of my tiny angry face hurting from pinching it up in disdain and shock at my flutter pony’s poor performance.

“Moooooooooooom!!! She’s broken!!!” I bellowed.

“Oh Jamie.” She sighed. She picked up my poor flutter pony and handed it back to me.

The car ride home involved a long conversation about what you see on TV vs. reality.

This conversation was necessary I suppose, but it stabbed me in the heart as I clutched my stupid pony. I simply refused to believe that the Saturday Morning cartoon advertising THAT I TRUSTED AND APPRECIATED would lie to me this way. Don’t they know how awful it is to lie about whether or not a pony can fly?

LIFE LESSONS.

So, let’s speed up 24 years into the future of my life. I still love ponies. I love magic. I love fantasy. I am however, completely lacking of the beautiful naiveté I clutched onto as a child.

Aren’t we all…

Photography lets me tap into that little girl that believed all those glittery falacies and sometimes I get the opportunity to capture images that directly source those pure innocent feelings. It’s a gift I receive on a regular basis.

On a hike through New Forest, a few months back when the weather was still bitter and the Spring flowers were desperately trying to push through, I encountered ponies.
Velvety, soft and magnificent ponies. Gentle and wild all at the same time.
It was extraordinary and it made me feel very pleased to be alive and grateful for EVERYTHING good in the world.

I also found some super fluffy sheep and some delightful foresty bits.

Enjoy!

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Towards the middle of the day, after hiking for a couple of wintry hours, we stopped in Burley for lunch and I saw this in a shop window…

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This immediately reached in and dredged the whole bittersweet flutter pony childhood tale from my memory banks.

And then on the last leg of the hike, I climbed over mounds of prickly bushes and through deep pockets of mud just to say hello without trying to “capture the moment”…

My husband pulled out his iPhone just at the right time and snapped this sweet little blurry shot of me COMPLETELY in my element.

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Life is beautiful folks.
Even in a world where plastic ponies don’t actually fly. xx

RHS Wisley

I’ve always loved flowers and plants in general, but I never really SAW them for what they are until I got into photography. Suddenly all of these mesmerizing geometric patterns and abstract neon art designs suddenly became available to me. And then I couldn’t stop noticing everything everywhere. The deep cracks within the bark on trees. Discarded snail shells. Contrast. Colour. Light. Shadow.
It has become my therapy, my inspiration and my passion.
If you aren’t into flora and fauna, look away now. Because I’m about to lay it on heavy. If you are however, I hope you enjoy this feast of bontanical porn from my recent trip to RHS Wisley in Guildford.

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See?? Rainbows and magic and all of that…

Next up…More ponies and forest treats…

The worst zoo I’ve ever been to, the most spectacular landscape in England, and parking lot ponies…

I have a love/hate relationship with zoos.
As an animal lover (and I use this lightly as I’m probably more of a fanatic than a lover) I appreciate the opportunity to see animals. Anytime, anywhere…I’m game.
Hahaha. See what I did there???

Oy vey.

Anywayyyyy…I’ve only been to one animal park where I didn’t feel like the animals were sad and bored and miserable. See here: https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/the-lake-district-and-lemurs/ And here: https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/parental-invasion/

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Recently this Safari park made the news because this happened: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/24/tiger-mauls-zoo-worker-cumbria

This made me very sad because I love this place dearly. It doesn’t feel like a zoo and they are so incredibly dedicated to animal conservation. But they are wild animals…so I suppose these things happen.

All of that being said, when researching fun things we could hit up on the drive back to London, I saw that there was a “world famous” zoo in Dartmoor as featured in the film “We Bought a Zoo”
http://www.dartmoorzoo.org/

I remembered that Jonsi did the soundtrack for this film and I though I haven’t actually seen the film, the website for the real-life zoo made it sound like a wonderland of zoological proportions. It also bragged about how great it was for photographers because the animal enclosures were so close up. I was exceptionally excited!

Cue disappointment.

First, there were hardly any animals. Half of the exhibits were empty. No indication given as to why. It was like touring an abandoned zoo. When we did actually find animals, they were very very far away.

I used my super duper zoom lens to capture this. We were squinting to make out what animals these were from about a football field away.

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And granted, those are big fat adorable Capybaras. But after seeing them…from a mile away…there was about 15 minutes of walked past completely empty exhibits until we found a clearly distressed racoon pacing in circles in a very tiny little chain linked space. Screaming like he was on fire. It was fucking grim.
Needless to say I didn’t photograph the poor guy.

The petting zoo area was fenced off in such a way that you couldn’t actually pet anything. We watched as family after family pushed their prams through the muddy path only to find out that all the animals were 50 feet from the fence and you could not enter to actually pet them.

We watched as couple after couple tried to explain to their incredibly disappointed children on the way back through the mud that “they don’t know why the goats are so far away” and “they don’t know where all the animals are…”

BUMMER.

I did get a couple photos.

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The Cheetah exhibit was the only only exhibit where you could actually get uninterrupted photos.
The Lion & Tiger enclosures were small and surrounded by chainlink on all sides.

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The whole experience just made me feel horrible to be human.

I just looked at the zoo map online again and I’m simply puzzled. Where were all these animals?

We thought about asking for our money back, but then realized that Dartmoor Zoo definitely needed that money more than us. Sheesh.

We were at the Zoo for about 45 minutes. I’m not even joking. We walked back to the carpark in complete silence. Once inside the car we just sort of looked at one another in a state of shock and grumpily continued our journey home.

Thankfully, we decided to cut through Dartmoor National Park and the day was SAVED!!!

SAVED BY SHEEP!!!

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SAVED BY PONIES!!!

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My husband is brilliant at spotting things way before I see them (because of his super sharp astronaut vision) And he was able to see ponies congregating in a carpark off the side of the road in time for us to hang a sharp right and park the car amongst them.

These ponies were the most ultra chilled out group of ponies I have ever met.

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I’d say they were “stoner ponies” if such a thing existed because they were M-E-L-L-O-W.

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Check out the utter disbelief on my face.

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Followed by complete happiness…

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After more time petting ponies than we had probably spent in the Dartmoor Zoo, I reluctantly got back in the car, blowing air-kisses at my new fluffy gypsy friends as we pulled back out onto the main road.

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Thinking I had seen it all, that the day was not only saved but could not get much better, I made another friend by the side of the road!

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Also mega-laidback and happy to be hugged.

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GLASS HALF FULL!

Next up…RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey

Dusk in Looe and a cemetary stroll…

No matter where you are in the UK, you are never that far from a beach.
Living in London, surrounded by concrete and sky scrapers every day, I forget this.

Growing up in a land-locked state, the closest beach was a 7 hour drive.

It’s still magical. Every single time. Even if it’s a freezing cold England beach and there is zero chance of actually getting a tan or taking a swim!

During our weekend getaway to Cornwall, we spent a few hours in the lovely little seaside town of Looe.

We just missed the sunset…

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On our drive back, we spotted a spooky looking graveyard poking out from behind some dark trees and. I loudly announced “creepy graveyard”, prompting an immediate  U-turn, and drove down a narrow forest path to a errie looking church. It was almost nightfall. 

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Goodbye dusky cemetary!!!

Next up…The worst zoo I’ve ever been to, the most spectacular landscape in England, and parking lot ponies…

The Eden Project Part II…

I’m back! AGAIN. Sorry for the delay. I am the reigning Queen of blog hiatuses.
But I never give up!
Has it really been 3 months?! Dang.
It’s like my days just get gobbled up by a big and unforgiving minute-munching monster!
I had so much time to kill when I lived in Nashville-nothing but slow sweet syrupy time.
But in London? Nope. I’m in a constant state of “hurryhurry-rushrush-getoutofmyway-movefaster-I’m sooooo late”

Even though it’s hilariously behind schedule, here is the second batch of delightful little flowers and plants from my birthday Eden Project visit!

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Weird and amazing little wood carvings and teensy sculptures…

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The SEED…

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Giant metal butterfly sculpture…

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In case you didn’t know, The Terminator lives at The Eden Project…

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I guess he’s into gardening?

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See you later beautiful biomes!!!!

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Coming up next…Ice cold beaches in Looe and a creepy Cornwall graveyard stroll…

Turning 30 & The Eden Project Part I…

My 30th birthday gift was a beautiful surprise road-trip to Cornwall.

S booked for us the most adorable little cottage…

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With Alpacas in the front yard…SQUEEEEEE!

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Oh to be able to sleep in as long as you want and wake up to warm sunshine streaming through your window with only the soft bleating of goats in the distance. HEAVEN!

We spent an entire day trying to absorb all of the exquisite botanical treasures at The Eden Project http://www.edenproject.com/visit-us/whats-here

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Lots of photos of flowers and teeny tiny plants await you…Enjoy!

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Hooray for my 30s!!!!!!!

Next up: Even more Eden Project treasures…

A Snowy Day in London…

I’ve gotten quite used to listening to most people around me moan about the dreary winter weather in England.
I used to think everyone was just being grumpy and dramatic.
But to be honest, I’m getting a bit weary of the cold myself.

Recently London was blanketed in snow and it seemed like everyone gave up their constant complaining for a few days and really enjoyed it! Imagine that!

I really and truly love snow days and was very excited to take the pups out and do some frolicking!

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Pepper’s not so sure about it…

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But she soon got some cuddles and warmed up a bit…

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Snow is also good for wrestling!

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Noodles happens to love the snow…as well as affection from his favorite park buddy!

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Okay, so that’s officially enough snow for me!
Bring on some Spring!!!

Going Home…

After one whole year away from all the beautiful people I love dearly and have MISSED EVERY SINGLE DAY(like you wouldn’t even understand) I simply had to go home.

My life would of course be much easier if all of my friends and family were located in the same city, but like most families, they are strewn out around the United States.

It’s always going to be challenging to see all of the folks that I would like to when I visit. It’s simply not possible. I will also miss weddings, births, and killer dinner parties whilst I’m abroad.

This is just a sad reality of my spectacularly fun new life. ;(

We flew into Cleveland first because that’s where a big chunk of my family live.

My beautiful Aunts did their best to make our stay the most relaxing and fun few days imaginable…

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I even got to spend some quality time with the family pets!

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And no trip to CLE is complete without stopping by Cedar Point.

We rodes some epic and terrifying coasters…

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Ate some massive BBQ turkey legs…

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Then we passed out from jet lag exhaustion!

Followed by a quick flight to Nashville!!

I immediately had a bar party and invited everyone to come out and give me a year’s worth of hugs.

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They complied!

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Toasts were made…

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I was so excited to spend time with some of my besties…

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And baby!

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OOooohhh baby!

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This one made me want one of my own…

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Even with fussy scrunched up sad baby face…

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There were lots of babies being made whilst I was away…

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Big fat squooshy pretty babies!!!

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And some of the babies I knew a year ago weren’t babies anymore, but little tiny people…

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Simon made some new friends as well…Of the furry variety…

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And the wacky-conspiracy-theory-Jesus-loving-rocker-chick variety…

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Crazy girls are the hottest. Always. That is a fact.

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LOVE YOU LALA. Forevs. PS. Her Dad MIGHT be Ziggy Stardust. FYI.

Moving on…

My mom was as pretty as I remember her being…

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My brother was still a massive fantasy football dweeb…

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Gorgeous sunny Murphmurph was just as gorgeous and sunny as ever…

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Becca was still awesome and smart and sharing her love of great food…

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She and her fantastic fiance took us out to Dinner at Silo http://www.silotn.com

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Exceptional and elevated Southern cuisine welcoming me home proved to be JUST what I needed…

Especially deviled eggs three ways…

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Deep fried greenbeans…

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And pork belly…

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We even visited my beloved Bombay Palace http://www.bombaypalacetn.com/

They were all super excited to see me too! Awwwwww!

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Actually, we did a lot of eating.

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And of course, we had to work some of it off…

No better place than Edwin Warner Park…

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So that was our trip back to Nashville via Cleveland. A ton of photos I know, but some super wonderful days with friends and family! Hopefully I’ll be back sooner than later and can see more of my loved ones this time! See ya soon Nashville xx

Barton on Sea

I was just about to post the first batch of my Spain photos and realized that yet again, I’ve got photos from other trips that I’ve not posted!

I’m not sure how my spectacularly magical Summer trip to Barton fell through the cracks of my blog posts, but I’m here to rectify this oversight!

Beaches, flowers, forests full of ponies, frolicking puppies, and double rainbows.
Pretty damn magical.
Enjoy!

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Rainbows and wild ponies in New Forest!!!

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Amazinggggggg!!!!
xx

The dog park

We’ve got a routine with our pup Noodz that is pretty much the highlight of my day.

At 9:30am every morning a BIG group of dog owners and their gorgeous dogs meet at the park down the street from us for an hour or so of full on doggle action.
Sometimes there are only a few dogs, other times it’s closer to 20.
It’s the best antidepressant you could imagine.

Without fail. Rain or shine. Mud or snow.
I get up every morning knowing that there are wagging tales, big bright puppy smiles, and a community of fellow dog lovers waiting for us across the street.

If you aren’t a dog owner, or animal lover, you might not get it.

But our dog is pretty much our child, and finding such a great group of people to get training tips from, brag about your dog with, and bemoan the not so fun aspects of dog ownership with…well it’s amazing.

I took my camera along with me the other day in an attempt to capture some of the magic.

I give you, (some of) the pups of Larkhall Park:

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Playtime!

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Here comes Noodz!

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More dog park posts coming soon!

Itty bitty feeties and warm schnozzles.

I already have a lot of pups in my life.

Noodz (our babyfoxdog creature)

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Tank (the über-snuggly office pup)

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Closeup

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Soooooooper muzzlepowsch moisture droplet closeup

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Chewywampabear

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He loves nap time with Noodz…

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And Introducing the newest member of our little family…

Princess Peppermint Sparklechops “Pepper” MY BABY PUGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!

Merry Christmas to me!!!!

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Thankfully, Noodz ADORES her.

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They both love sleepytime on Daddy’s lap after breakfast…

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She’s amazingly smart and sweet and we love her so very very very very much.

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DREAMS DO COME TRUE! PUGDREAMS!

Autumn in Richmond Park (and pups!)

I think most people would say that Autumn is their favorite season.

What’s not to love?

Somehow lattes and hot teas taste better when the air has that Autumnal briskness that is only present in October and November.

And pulling out your favorite sweaters and scarves from their lonely spots in the closet…it’s my favorite yearly fashion transition!

And THE LEAVES ooohhh the leaves…

I want to live in a house constructed of crispy fall leaves.

Richmond Park is one of the most magical places in London no matter what time of year you visit, but an October or November trip is extra special because everything is a warm shade of GOLD or RED

I took Sir Noodles and his bestie Chewywampa on a big leafy hike a few weeks ago…

Remember this little guy?

https://nashvillegirlinlondon.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/chewdles-the-bromance/

Needless to say, we had the best time stomping around the forest and basking in all the gorgeous reddish hues.

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After 4 hours of magical hiking through the woods, the pooches (and myself) were absolutely shattered and had a nice snooze on the ride home.

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Happy Autumn-ing! xx

Tiny Holiday in Kirkby Lonsdale

I’ve been living in the UK for over a year now and I’ve learned a lot of things.
It may seem obvious to you, but to me it’s been an epiphany.

You simply MUST go on holiday every now and again.
For the sake of your own personal sanity and the sanity of those around you having to listen to you moan and be grumpy as fuck all the time.

It totally sorts you out. Trust me!

I never used to take many trips.

I longed to travel more than anything.
Even just a quick weekend away to kick back and relax.

Nope.

I worked too much, made too little money, took too many classes at a time, and anytime I saved up enough money to go somewhere, something would surely come up.

Car trouble, an unexpected medical issue,emergency vet bill, self-inflicted hair dye disaster…

SOMETHING.always got in the way.

But life is definitely changed for me now.

I’m far less stressed, certainly less broke, and much better prepared to face unexpected expenses than I was a few years ago.

So yeah, take a vacation people.

If you can swing it.

It does wonders for your temperament!

Especially when you live in a big city like London.

Being packed together with millions of other people on public transport day in and day out can leave you craving a bit of scenery that is more of the green and blue variety and less of the concrete and glass variety.

We decided that our souls needed a bit of open sky a few months back and we took a 4 day trip to Kirkby Lonsdale.

We went on a breathtaking waterfall/English countryside trek as well as a stroll through the village and a couple of visits to different farms around the area (so I could fulfill my lifelong dream of hugging a SHEEP!)

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The raddest steps in England.

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English sweets.

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If you ever find yourself in Kirkby Lonsdale, you simply MUST do this:http://www.ingletonwaterfallstrail.co.uk/

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Those are pennies!

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Penny Mushrooms!

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SHEEPS!

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SHEEPS THAT WOULD NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LET ME HUG THEM.

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SADFACE.

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Isn’t it other-worldly beautiful? Sigh.

So then we visited farms!

And I made friends and kissed fuzzy animal faces and my dreams came true.

I don’t remember this guy’s name, but he was ace.

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Hands down the friendliest goat I’ve ever met.

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BAAAABY GOAT!

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Lambies!!

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Snouts!

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He’s got PIGGY EYEBROWS!!!

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(pig sex photobomb totally happening in the background for extra points)

Which is how you end up with BAAAAABY PIGGIES!

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And buns! So many buns…

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Check out all the feet floof!

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BIG bun…

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Baaaaby cows!

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TEETH!

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They are totally making the same facial expression!

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Huggggggssss….

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Horsies…

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Silly horsies…

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Mustachioed horsies…

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With furry feet!

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Tiny emo horsies with stubb-tastic legs and ombre hipster fringe!

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I’ve seen dogs with longer legs…

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Owls…

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Alpacas…

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Soooooper goofy donkey friends…

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Chickens…

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The moment you have been waiting for.

The hugging of a sheep done by ME!

He came right up to me and said hello.

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So I said hello back.

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Quite gleefully I might add…

And then I did what any reasonable person might do when confronted with a really sweet sheep friend.

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I hugged him!

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And he was totally into it!

Best tiny Holiday ever! xx

Parental Invasion!

While we are on the subject of people visiting me in London….

My Parents came to see me!!!!!!!

In April, they decided to be brave and close their dental practice (for the first time in like ONE BILLION YEARS) to come visit me in London!

They only had 9 days and that included a trip up North to Cumbria to visit the In-Laws (as well as my most favorite Animal Park) so we really had to cram a lot in…
By now, I’m pretty much the official “First trip to London must-see tour guide”…

Of course, we had to go to Westminster…

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As well as Westminster Abbey…

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Mom attempts to soak in more than a thousand years of history…

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Tralfagar was next…

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It was pouring down rain off and on, but we soldiered through!

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A stormy stroll along the Thames…

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We stopped in Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of William Shakespeare) on the way up North to experience some of the festivities taking place in honor of his birthday.

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Strolling around the Lake District…

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AND FINALLY, SAFARI PARK HAPPY PLACE!!!

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Sleepytime bear…

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MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE GIRAFFE…

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GIRAFFE KIIIIIISSSSSSEEESSSSSS….

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Look at this guy’s FINGERS!!!

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MAKING FRIENDS LIKE I DO.

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I don’t really like these guys very much…

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They are very very large and agressive…

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But THIS dude right here is THE BEST!

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THE END XXOO

Becca’s visit!

Leaving Nashville a year ago was a mixed bag.
I was super sad to leave my friends and family, but extremely excited to marry my sweetheart and stoked to be starting a new life in London.

I worried that no one would ever come visit me.

I mean, I did move 4,000 miles away and across the Atlantic Ocean.
Tickets are expensive and taking time off work is tough(especially for Americans).

But lo and behold, this has not stopped people from continuing to make the journey.

Which, makes me feel REALLY LOVED.

I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that I happen live in one of the coolest city’s in the world, but I like to think that it’s only a tiny part of why people have made the trip.

Becca is one of my GIRLS!
We worked together for years and she is probably the most reliable and trustworthy person I know.
She also threw my bachelorette brunch and has generally just always been an incredibly great friend to me.

When I found out she was going to come visit me I literally jumped up and down in my bedroom screaming “BECCA’S GONNA COME SEEEEEE MEEEEEEE!!!!!” at the top of my lungs while my dog looked at me with distinct disapproval of my volume level.

We had a REALLY good time and saw ALL OF THE THINGS.

We were out and about every single day walking (and shopping) our butts off.

I have photographic evidence of all the funtimes.
Most of the photos are of Becca because she’s just really super pretty.

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A day exploring Greenwich…

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The Prime Meridian Line-where time begins!

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Becca is also a MAJOR Harry Potter fan.
She took a bus one of the days she was visiting and went on a 3 hour superfan tour the Studio where they filmed all of the HP movies.

All by herself. Awwwww..

Bearing this in mind, it was simply imperative that she visit the Millenium Bridge as it is apparently featured in a scene of one of the films where some scary smoke monster thing flies over it or destroys it or something?

Clearly I haven’t seen the films.

She was a little excited.

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Simply adorable.

Here we are slurping down a few beautiful craft cocktails at Bar Social…

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And then snarfing down some gorgeously sinful pizza in Shoreditch…

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And beer…

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And the prettiest little butter lettuce & avocado salad…

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Did I mention that Sir Noodles fell in love with Becca during her stay?

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(she’s totally channeling some ultra hot Uma Thurman in this shot)

Exploring Salisbury + Salisbury Cathedral with the hubbs and the Noodz.

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Sunday Roast…

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Let’s all just take a moment of silence for how breathtaking my friend is.

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Unfortunately she couldn’t stay forever and had to go home. SADFACE.

Til next time!

xxoo

Chewdles: The Bromance

By now, you should all be very familiar with my fluffy-fox-creature-pup Noodles.

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AKA: Noodz, Schnoodles, Schnoddles, Knob dog, BeeBee, Noodies, and Noodie Noodie.

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We recently had our friend from Nashville visit us, and he took quite the shine to her.

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He still loves his Daddy though…

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Now it is time for you to meet his best friend in the whole wide world.

CHEWY

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Meet Chewy. AKA: Chewbacca, Baxter, Baccy and Chewstifer Bagshot/ Chewstifer Baggins, Chop Suey Chewy, Chewy Chow Mein, and Bubba Lou.

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Chewy is my friend Anna’s Lhasa Apso, and Noodles’ best friend for life.
They basically run the park and wear each other out on a regular basis.

It’s all sorts of adorable.

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We recently took them to Battersea park for a super fabulous doggy play date and adult picnic, and they were inseparable.

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They even got in the pond for a swim!

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The rest of the afternoon was pretty much a feast of fluff and dog wrestling.

Enjoy!

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Those may look like vicious snarling teeth, but I assure you, it’s all just puppy play and they always end up in snuggletown.

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TRUE LOVE!!!!!! XXOO

Broadgate Farm and Cows…

Hello friends! I’m not in the habit of dedications here at Gimmeyummy, but in this case, I must make an exception and dedicate this entry to one of my BFF’s in Nashville, TN.
This is for you Katie Warren. You may be the only other person on this planet who specifically understands my sincere love for baby cows. Thank you for always supporting my embarrassing need to hug animals!

One of my favorite places to stay in England is the gorgeous little Bed & Breakfast at Broadgate Farms in Bleasdale, Preston, Lancashire.

With the tastiest Full English Breakfast you could dare to dream of and the cutest most well-stocked guest rooms, there is no other lodging choice for us when we visit my husband’s family up North.

The last time we stayed at Broadgate, I was lucky enough to get to explore the working farm and get a bunch of great shots of the property and the adorable little cows they raise.

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GLAMOUR SHOT! HA!

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And of course, my favorite and the most important part… COWS!!!

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LOOK AT THOSE SQUIDGY LITTLE NOSES!

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And those super long plush eyelashes!!!

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And the HAIRDOS! AMIRIGHT?

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THESE are the bitty babies.

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This guy almost took my ring off…but it was SO WORTH IT.

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I present to you, my very first Gimmeyummy Video experience for your viewing pleasure.

YES, I know how ridiculous I am. DEAL.

Back from Italy Adventure and Noodz in the Snow!

Alas, I have returned!

ITALY WAS THE BUSINESS! AMAZING TIMES WERE HAD!

I have about 2,000 photos to sort through and upload before I start posting (as well as my most recent Scotland trip…and I just got a new job…grrrrr)

Until then, I leave you with more photos of the newest addition to our family “Sir Noodles of Shropshire on the Glenn” the Pomeranian/Papillon mix.

We just call him “Noodz” and “Doggles” and he’s about 5 months old now.

He just gets cuter and fuzzier as time goes on!

He LOVES the cardboard insert of toilet paper rolls.

Weirdo.

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He also loves the snow.

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This is “Paddy” the Jack Russell mix, his BFF at the park.

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Paddy has mad fashion sense.

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And “Zeus” the Yellow Lab.

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Those are what we call “soulful” dog eyes.

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And this is “Hercules”…very stoic!

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I love my dog’s fluffy head situation.

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And those satellite dish ears!

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And watching him run with his daddy!

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Like a little bunny!! I finally got a bunny! (sort of) 😉

Hampton Court

It is becoming more and more evident that I should have been born a princess.

I am absolutely and utterly obsessed with castles and the sordid history of royals past…it is all consuming.

I am bewitched by the tales of King Henry VIII and the saga of his SIX wives.

I watched the Showtime series “The Tudors” like it was my job, and have also read several books about Ann Boleyn and Henry VIII… never tiring of the story.

A few weeks ago, I actually got to visit Hampton Court.

My eyes were operating on overdrive and my tiny little heart just fluttered away inside my chest as we strolled around the Palace.

Hampton Court is infinitely beautiful.

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I have this fixation with windows.

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It is difficult to comprehend fully that Catherine of Aragon looked out of these very same windows.

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Unaware of the turmoil she faced…

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That her King would lust after Anne Boleyn so much…going to the most desperate of lengths to possess her.

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And that this beguiling woman would become his new Queen, only to be cast aside and sentenced to death when she could not provide an heir and gossip prevailed…

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The sheer scale of Hampton Court…

The soaring ceilings….

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The exquisite frescos, super-saturated with color…

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What hands have opened these doors? To what end?

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Grandiose rooms…

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Ghosts that have left their mark…

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Crystal chandeliers and marble staircases…

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Massive kitchens…

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What horrors have been seen by these mirrors? What secrets?

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How can we process all of this beauty?

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Gardens that bring tears to your eyes…or MY eyes at least…

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Bask in the majesty…

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The tiny details…

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I really should be sauntering around in a mammoth gown right now…dripping in gems…

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Surrounded by so much magic…

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The air is electrified…

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There is this immense feeling that you are being watched…

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And I’ve never been happier…

Meet Sir Noodles the Paperanian

In a feeble attempt to curb some of my cute animal hysteria, my husband and I acquired the fluffiest little bundle of cuddles in November.

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Like ANYTHING could curb my addiction to darling little creatures.

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When we got him at 6 weeks old, he was barely bigger that my hand.

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He has grown like a weed!

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He loves to eat my hair…

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And my face…

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Clocking in at 6.5 lbs now, he is almost as big as a small cat.

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But bath time transforms our little bear/fox cub into a drowned rat.

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He is always on the move!

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And even though he is unbelievably adorable, he is a quite the feisty little beast.

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And he loves his daddy more than anything…

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Which is funny, because so do I!

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I love my little London family!

Richmond Park

Soooo… there is this park in London with lots of deer and they just run around and hang out and generally aren’t bothered by your presence.

I went there.

This is what I saw.

Enjoy!

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I named this guy Admiral Chill pants. Cuz he don’t care.

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That’s my hot husband looking hot in his leather in some nature. mmmm.

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Big blue sky.

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And my big smile. Twas a happy day.

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xx

Wabbits…

The thing is…I have a really really overwhelming desire to hug animals.
All of them.
A basket of sea otters.
A box full of baby chickens.
A bag overflowing with super soft squishy rabbits.

Even an armful of turtles.

I’m like the crazy youtube cat girl who wants to hug all the cats in the world…except that her video was fake and I’m not batshit crazy.
I just like creatures.

My new London buddy “M” apparently wanted to crawl into my heart as quickly as possible, because she took me to Vauxhall City Farm today and spent several HOURS squeeing about animals with me.

There was so much squeeing.

Meet Misty. She is very tolerant.

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Misty made my “I simply must hug a bunny today or I will die” dreams come true.

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This might be the most unattractive photo of myself that I have ever willingly posted on the internet for all to see, but it’s important that you understand how much I wanted to hug that damn rabbit.

And then snuggle him…

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And then sway with him while snuggling him (yes, like a 3 year old).

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Like this three year old.

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But dude, seriously. CHECK OUT THOSE FEET!

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If Misty didn’t hop around in her own poop all day I would want to put it in my mouth.

So, I settled for kissing her (notice her bun-riffic disapproval).

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But I wasn’t the only one requiring rabbit-cuddles.

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M fell in love too.

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And then I got crazy with the close-ups.

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LOOK AT ITS FACE! GAHHHHHH! KATIE ARE YOU SEEING THIS!? IS YOUR HEART EXPLODING?

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And then Misty started giving me the side-eye and we knew that her tolerance bucket was full and we kindly returned her to her happy play area.

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And then there was this guy.

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We didn’t get to hang out with him though because he was busy being chubby and sleepy the entire time.

Okay! So onto the chickens!

This guy was cool.

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This guy was kind of a jerk and bit me (but I had my camera in his face so I suppose I might have had it coming).

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This guy had some sort of shrunken head syndrome action going on because the proportions just don’t add up.

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Mother Nature is hysterical.

Ohhhhh, and I maybe hugged some chickens too.

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We had a little moment.

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I definitely like petting them more than eating them.

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Again, I must point out that I was NOT alone in my chasing around of chickens shenanigans.

This gentleman was totally doing it too!

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See? Wasn’t the only one. Just saying.

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So this brings us to these ridiculous fuzzy creatures of absolute hilarity.

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Look. At. THAT. HAIR.

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It’s just breathtakingly comical.

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Hello. I’m an Alpaca. I’m cooler than anything else that exists.

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JUST BE MY FRAND!

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And maybe YOU don’t get excited by cows, but I can barely keep it together.

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Even though they are majorly sassy…

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They are still SO darling and soft and I want to pet them.

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I even want to pet this fellow…

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And this one giving me the duck stink eye…

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And how do you hug a goat you ask?

Easy.

Gently take hold of his horns…

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Guide him ever so sweetly into your loving embrace…

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And then wrap your arms squarely around his big goat head and SQUEEZE!

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I know, I know. Seek help immediately.

Well kids, this is just who I am.

I leave you with bunny ears.

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http://www.vauxhallcityfarm.org/
xxoo

TEA. A Love Affair.

I have always loved tea.

Growing up in the South, iced tea is generally part of daily existence.

Iced Sweet tea, Iced Green Tea, Iced Peach Tea, Iced Passionfruit Tea…the varieties are endless.

I’ve never really gotten into hot tea as much (aside from wintry days where my throat is highly unhappy).

A few years ago I stumbled upon Teavana in the Green Hills Mall and developed a very serious crush with the place.

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But they are SO EXPENSIVE. And they try to up-sell you to death.
It got to the point where I didn’t even want to make eye contact with the sales associates when I went into the store.
They also don’t tell you that the canisters they put the tea in cost extra (or at least failed to mention that to me any of the 50 times I bought tea).
And some of the “teas” don’t even contain tea at all. Just sweetened dried fruit & flowers…but they still call it “TEA”.
(Is there not a rule against this)?

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Anyway, I still love tea.

To be more accurate, I’m pretty much obsessed with hot tea since I moved to the UK.
Specifically Earl Grey.

At first, it’s a little weird that everyone is always going on and on about having a “cuppa” tea all the damn time.
But I quickly realized that I had never had Earl Grey tea with milk & sugar before.

MY BRAIN——-> WAIT A MINUTE! THIS IS EFFING STELLAR!

A hot cup of tea can fix your soul.

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Part of the joy of tea is the ceremony…

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And adorable china…

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And having a hot tea date…

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I can’t stop drinking it. I crave it!
I have even been using agave syrup and soy milk to be healthier.
It has fully replaced coffee in my life.
I know…THAT’S CRAZY TALK!

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I order it everywhere we go.
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I just can’t help myself.

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And people here even drink it alongside their meals. Even with cheeseburgers!
(By the way, I ate a cheeseburger the other day and it was phenomenally delicious).

See? DELICIOUS!

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So, long story short, tea is important. Drink it and feel better.

Now, how about I leave you with some spectacular street art from my travels around Brick Lane in London?

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And of course, lest you forget…The Beginning is Nigh!

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Adventures with Duck

Although my status as a carnivore has for the most part, been on a down trend, every so often I break away and indulge in some good old-fashioned meat-eating.
My favorite animal to eat is duck.
The deliciously tasty and most excellent duck.
The skin especially, is just down right decadent.

Guh.

How can one commit to a life of complete vegetarianism after tasting duck skin?

Tell me this!

My spectacular trip to London this Summer involved my first ever Peking Duck experience, which I shall never forget, no matter how many more brain injuries I sustain in my life.

The started out with no plans of a duck feast in sight.
We did a little sight-seeing…

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Hung out in the park and acted like annoyingly adorable teenagers…

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Met up with QT and consumed some wine on a boat bar on the Thames River…

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Before you know it we were on a tipsy mission, wandering the streets of London in search of the duck feast to end all duck feasts…

Soon enough we were seated in a fabulously elegant Chinese restaurant ordering a duck and a half, and even more wine…

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Moi, patiently awaiting the duck feast!

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Snacks!

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THE DUCK!!!

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MMMMmmmmmmm…

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Duck Skin…

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The spread…

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So here is what you do to make your taste buds have the biggest most fantastical explosive party in your mouth ever…

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You take a pancake, you spread some plum sauce on it, you add cucumber and spring onions…

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You grab a nice tender chunk of duck meat and top it with a crispy crunchy lacquered duck skin crackling and you roll it up as quickly as possible; inhaling it like you are in a prison camp.

Because it disappears fast!

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QT tries to hide the shame of shoveling duck into his mouth…

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Oh! And they clean the rest of the duck and stir fry it with bean sprouts!

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There is no shame! Only joy!

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Wow. That was an awesome day.

So the other night, I attempted to make my first duck and roasties using the UK fan oven.

DUCK!

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Check out those taters atop my new Acacia chopping block…

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And the finished product!

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MAGNIFICENT! CRISPY SKIN, TENDER DUCK!

Super easy to make!

Simply sear the duck legs for a few moments on a hot skillet til the skin gets nice and brown and transfer to the oven with raw sliced potatoes for 1.25 hours on 190 degrees Celcius
(for UK fan ovens).

You can season the potatoes however you wish, although I just opted for simple salt & pepper.
As the duck legs cook, the fat seeps out of the duck and cooks the potatoes to the most gorgeous crispy golden brown, while also enriching it with a truly sinful flavour.

Here is the US equivalent…375 F for 1.25 hours
(Remember, I’m all British now)

Okay y’all…more later! Back to veggies and soymilk for me!