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!

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

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

(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

My Spanish Animal Friends…

I made a few friends in Spain…the furry four legged variety.

And of course, because I am me, I took their photos…

Farm cats…

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Scaredy cats…

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“Jimmy”!!!

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Look at his big fat grumpy head! xxxooo

This dog that looks like yoda…

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My niece-kitties “Six” and “Seven”…

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Snuggle time!

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Super schnozzle close-up…

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And last but not least, my Father-In-Law’s adorable beagle mix “Benny”

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If this goofball doesn’t bring immediate joy into your heart then something is clearly broken inside of your soul.

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Benny shows off his serious dog model good looks…

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Benny loves his uncle!

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Hooray for Spanish furballs! Til we meet again!

Next up…Christmas in Spain 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!

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

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

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) 😉