Barcelona part three – Olympic Park and beyond

Found this in my drafts. Oops.

I guess I got busy yet again and never got around to posting. Typical me. These are so old now it’s laughable. 2016.

Still…I want a record of my travels so I’ll add to the heap – outdated as it is!

One of our last days in Barcelona was spent wandering around a very awesome albeit seemingly abandoned Olympic Park…

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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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Barcelona part two – Montjuïc Cactus Park

In Barcelona there is a magical little succulent garden packed with every spiny cactus imaginable. Pure bliss for someone as obsessed with photographing plants as I am…

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The things that were eaten in Spain

Food in Spain is amazing in general but Barcelona was pretty next level…

The best burger I’ve had in my entire life at http://www.granjapetitbo.com/

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Another delicious burger at http://anaucogourmet.es/

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Root Vegetable crisps + honey & sesame seeds at http://www.negrocarbongrill.com/

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Tempura fried veggies, craft beer and rare steak at http://biercab.com/

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Dreamy pina coladas and guacamole at https://www.facebook.com/Pachucobcn/

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Followed by another on on the beach…

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Followed by mojitos…

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daiquiris…

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Then an exquisite dinner of tapas at http://www.betlem.es/

Steak tartare

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Octopus, artichoke & pea

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Crab ravioli

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Roasted Octopus

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Apparently all I eat is Octopus so I decided to order a whole one roasted in paprika in Figueres.
It was the best thing I ate on the whole trip (next to that legendary burger because it was EPIC)!!

It’s a shame I don’t have anything for scale. Let’s say bigger than a rabbit smaller than a cat. I ate the whole thing. Obvs.

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Sintra

If you holiday in Lisbon, a breath-taking day trip to Sintra is a must. Make the time…trust me.

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Quinta Regaleira

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Really spot-on octopus and potato salad in the outdoor cafe…

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Pena Palace

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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 Trois – Lightopia & the Design Museum Gent

There were lots of rainy days when we were in Belgium (which is perfectly fine if your top priority is drinking beer 24/7)!

In an effort to not be completely sloshed for the duration of our holiday, we visited the Design Museum Gent to see the temporary exhibition, Lightopia.

Lightopia is a playful and mesmerising exploration of light. From the humble but extraordinary beginnings of electricity, through the evolution to ultra modern and cutting edge lighting fixtures, we wandered around for hours absorbing the artistry and immersive experiences that the exhibition offered.

The design museum itself was really beautiful, but the contemporary light fixtures woven throughout the 18th century drawing rooms takes you on this amazing journey from the past into the future. Walking away and further contemplating my experience over a large pint of delicious Belgian beer, this part of the exhibition was what really stayed with me.

Photos presented below without comment – Enjoy!

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Next up… Onward to Bruges!

Belgique! Discovering Ghent, Bruges, & Brussels …part DEUX – Waffles!

Who’s in the mood for some motherflippin waffles?!

The answer is: ALL Y’ALL.

Because you just can’t say no to waffles.

(Unless you are punishing yourself, coeliac or obnoxious)…then fine.
More waffs for moi!

I did some investigative “wafflesearch” (snort…high-fiving myself) before we left for Belgium!
Although I usually cringe at the thought of doing the same exact touristy things that everyone else does on holiday, there are certain rights of passage when you visit a place for the first time.

No one goes to Florence and says
“Keep me away from all this perfect gnocchi and gorgeous gelato”.

No one “mehs” at a sexy hunk of crusty baguette freshly slathered with salted butter in Paris.

The point I’m making is that no one was going to keep me from my waffle experience. It’s Belgium, we are doing the waffle thing. It’s sorted.

So there’s this place called “MAX” http://www.etablissementmax.be/en/ in Ghent.
It’s this incredible little art nouveau cafe that specialises in waffles and apple fritters – even claims to have invented them in 1839! Here’s a little video about it:

After an afternoon spent schlepping around looking at beautiful churches, swans swimming in canals, drinking beer and other magical things – we plopped ourselves down in the wicker chairs and planned our* waffle attack.

(*I should note that S only ordered a beer. I am a lone waffle warrior.)

Isn’t it a beautiful building?

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The inside is just as gorgeous. Who doesn’t love art nouveau??

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So what did I order? Well…obviously I ordered a waffle.

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A big, fluffy, light-as-air, splendid and amazing waffle. Crispy. Slightly Sweet. Yum.

And a fancy coffee… REAL fancy.

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And then I thought…well if they really invented the apple fritter, I should probably order one…you know…since i’m here…

So I did! Eeeeee!

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Then I made this face because GLUTONY.

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S just sat and sipped his Chimay in a state of loving, and non-judgemental supervision as I tucked into my mountain of treats.

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I did my best, but living a mostly carb free existence and eating (and drinking) carbs non-stop for 2 days was catching up to me by this point.
Since I was receiving no help from my (I don’t have a sweet-tooth) better half, I really only made a slight dent in my sugar feast. He always says I’m really talented at eating all the desserts and I appreciate the support.

I’m thrilled to report that everything was absolutely spot-on perfection!

When in Ghent, go to MAX!
Order the waffle.
Die of happy!

Next up – LIGHTOPIA!!!!

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

Paris, FINALLY! Part Two. AND Three.

Annnnd we’re back! I decided to cram the rest of the photos into one last post so this is your warning that it’s a LONG one!

So picking up from where we left off with part one of our Paris trip, after a sweet little breakfast at Maison Lacombe we made our way toward Notre Dame and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

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Centre Georges Pompidou!!! Amazing!!!

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The walk to Notre Dame…

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Lunch at Aux Arts Etc Cafe’ Galerie

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The experience and food in this quaint little cafe was beyond wonderful and the staff/owner was very welcoming and lovely!

Off to the Pantheon…

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The Eiffel Tower!

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Collectively sharing our feelings about Selfie sticks…

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The sweetest older lady and dog duo there ever was…

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We were completely destroyed from all the walking and had a simple charcuterie and cheese feast for dinner…

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Nommmmmmmmm.

The next morning we took a boat cruise on the Seine from The Eiffel Tower…

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Then a quick little pit stop in Bistro De Montemartre…

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http://en.bistromontmartre.com/

Followed by a walk through the beautiful and somber Montmartre Cemetery…

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Our journey to Sacré-Coeur began with more walking around Montmartre…

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SACRE-COEUR!!!

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Our last dinner was at a tiny neighbourhood restaurant in Ternes called Le Petit Acacia.

We were incredibly lucky to yet again, have a stellar meal.

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The parents look pretty darn happy and relaxed! 😉

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The FOOD!

Roasted Bone Marrow

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Suckling Pig

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Confit Duck

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Creme Brulee

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On our last day in Paris we toured the Musee D’Orsay (simply wondrous and astounding!) then we dined at another fantastic restaurant Le Recrutement Cafe for one final Parisan feast.

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They still look happy! Success!

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Lovingly threatening my darling with my Escargot tongs…

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Which was short lived because then there was escargot! YUM.

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Beef stew

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Salad with duck gizzards and foie gras

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Cheesecake (my mother says this was the best she’s had)

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Cheeky Cheese Plate

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Apple Tart with salted butter ice cream

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And creme brulee #2 for moi.

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One final look before heading to Gare Du Norde…

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So that’s it. Sadly!

Thank you for taking the time to scroll through all the photographs!

And goodbye beautiful Paris, thank you for not disappointing! See you again soon! x

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Paris, FINALLY! Part One

I was supposed to go to Paris about a year and a half ago with my friend Nikki and her mother and sister-in-law, but I royally screwed that up by misplacing my passport on my flight home from Nashville and missed the trip altogether.
I WAS GUTTED. So very very sad.

Since then, I’ve been to cities in Slovenia, Austria, Croatia and Italy…but Paris remained an elusive destination forever taunting me for being irresponsible with my travel documents.

I’m thrilled to report that Paris is officially conquered!

My folks flew over for 10 days (they are still here actually!) and we took the Eurostar over for a little Parisian city break!

We rented a beautiful flat in Ternes for 3 nights and had the dreamiest time exploring Paris!
This might be the fastest gimmeyummy photo-taking to blog posting turnaround ever. Split up into two posts – Enjoy!

Our lovely apartment!

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A beautiful first meal near the flat at L’ANNEX.

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I enjoyed a few well deserved glasses of crisp grassy Sancerre…

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Followed by the most gorgeous Escargot…

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Rare Rib of beef…

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And SWEETS!

Apple Tart…

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Panna Cotta with Raspberry…

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http://annexdumarche.wix.com/lannexe

Then a night walk to the Arc du Triomphe…

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…and many many stairs to the top!

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We awoke the next day to gorgeous electric blue skies and had a beautiful little breakfast at Maison Lacombe.

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I had read that people travel all over for their croissants and I completely understand why as I was unable to get a photograph after shovelling the croissant into my face in record speed.

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I shall leave you with these and pick up at Notre Dame and all the rest tomorrow! Stay tuned! xx

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

Four Countries in Four Days – Part TWO!

Where did we leave off? Breakfast in England. Quick afternoon flight to Italy. Seaside dinner in Piran. Cheeky drinks in Croatia. This clearly is a great way to start a holiday.
As our eventful first night was nearing a close, I suppose we were well within our rights to pass out when we got to Uros’ flat in Ljubljana, but noooooo. HOLIDAY!!

We freshened up and high-tailed it to Zlata Ladjica – The Golden Ship, to drink more beers and meet more friends.

This is where I fell in love with Bevog Tak:

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One of the most beautiful beers I’ve ever had. And the artwork is amazing as well.

Burburan-Bevog Last

I’m not sure how easy is is to get your hands on Bevog, but if you see it in your local specialty beer shop, snatch it up. It’s excellent.

http://www.bevog.at/#beers

Here is a very blurry and VERY MERRY snap of us after a few drinks:

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On the way home I noticed a little vigil in support of Ukraine…heavy times…

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On that note, we grabbed some street food and made our way back the flat for a well-deserved sleep.

I was lucky enough to wake up to beautiful Slovenian donuts filled with peach jam and super thick dark coffee.

Yum. Thank you to Uros’ brother Niko!!!

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We ventured out in the rain to roam around the city…

Dragons!

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Translation: Tits

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The sculptures around Ljubljana are like something out of a Tool video. Which obviously makes me love it all the more.

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Nightmarish pope related Church doors!

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Yes, that is a turd sculpture. Bronze turds with faces. Spectacular.

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We met up with Ajda and her wee little pup Laika (like the dog the Soviets sent to space!)

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We stopped at an adorable coffee shop for a spell…

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I realised that I was so enamoured with her Boston Terrier that I never got a photo of Adja for the blog! EEEE!!!
So I’ve snatched one from her facebook!

This is Ajda, she’s great!

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The sun came out eventually…

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Dragon in the sun!!!

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We spent the rest of the day in an Irish pub watching Six Nations and took an early night to prepare for the next day’s events.

Next up…Lake Bled, the best pizza I’ve ever eaten and an evening stroll in Austria. xx

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