Tuesday, 17 December 2013

1st Wedding Anniversary

Getting married after a whirlwind romance, many people thought we wouldn't last through our first year of marriage.

I'm glad to say that on Friday we proved them wrong... We happily celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary!

We were lucky enough to both have a long weekend off so decided to do something really special to celebrate.

Friday morning at 0930 I finished work and blearily-eye hopped into Hubby's car, who was waiting outside work to whisk me away. I headed home, changed out of my scrubs and threw myself under the shower and then threw some bits and bobs in a suitcase. We were going away.

I grabbed my pillow and settled down in the passenger seat of the car for a post-nightshift snooze. We were off to Cornwall, but I needed a few hours of sleep. Next thing I knew I'd woken up with tummy rumblings on the A303... home of about 2 million Little Chefs. Feeling nostalgic we stopped for lunch.

I had a burger and Hubby had a veggie burger. To be honest I expected them to be awful, but they were alright. The patty's were still juicy, buns fresh and they had onions rings inside... yum yum yum! They also came with crispy chips and delicious coleslaw. Maybe it was just the exhaustion speaking or maybe Little Chef is tastier than I remember?!

Just after 5pm we arrived at our beautiful little cottage in Cornwall. We stayed in the magical Stargazey, one of the cottages that makes up Woolsdown Cottages near Bude. The cottage was so beautiful that it really deserves its own post... so that's what I'm going to do later on in the week.

We spent the evening drinking Champagne (that we were given on our wedding day), eating posh Waitrose food and lounging in the enormous tin bath.

The next morning we went to the Eden Project, a place I've wanted to go since it opened (and I'll write another post about that too). Another evening was spent watching DVDs, eating delicious food and trying not to drown in that big big big bath!

It was with a heavy heart that we packed up our bits to leave on Sunday, although we had a big smile put on our faces by the lovely family who own the cottage we stayed in... they gave us a cute little bag of goodies to nibble on in the car. So thoughtful!

The drive home was about 5 hours, so a couple of hours in we stopped to stretch our legs. On our wanderings we found a beautiful little bridge and I insisted on a quick game of Pooh sticks. I lost... but it's the taking part that counts, right?

After a long drive we were back at home, with lots of happy memories (and lots of work to make up for!!). I can't wait until the next weekend we get to spend together!!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Last Minute Wedding Planning

This time a year ago it was just a few days until my Wedding. Rather unconventionally I met my husband exactly 3 months to the day before we got married. People still ask how I knew he was the one, but I simply just knew. A year down the line, if I could go back in time, I still wouldn't change my mind.

As you can imagine we didn't have much time to plan a wedding. 

We decided on the 13th of December for a couple of reasons. Firstly it seemed fitting to pick a day that was exactly 3 months since we met, secondly being a week day made it easier to organise as placed weren't booked and finally it means that every year our wedding anniversary will fall in the middle of a yearly meteor shower. Very romantic. 

We knew that we just wanted something small. Both hubby and I can be quite shy. We have also both lost a parent and I recently lost my godmother too. A big wedding wouldn't have been right for us without them. 

At the time we lived close to Brighton. It seemed the perfect place. Lots of places that we could potentially have dinner, hotels for the few relatives who were coming to stay at and I could spend the night before at my best friend's house in Hove.

We decided on the Town Hall. The little rooms are sumptuously decorated and the town hall itself is very grand looking. They're also so helpful (and a bit of a bargain too!).

After that we could do the boring bit of giving notice. No-one told me that they'd split us up into two appointments and ask us both questions about the other. I spelt hubby's middle name wrong and was a bit worried that they'd not let us get married... thankfully they did! Finally we could start to sort out the details...

We bought our simple wedding bands while visiting the in-laws one weekend and hubby bought a suit for the occasion too. That was pretty much all of the stuff hubby had to sort out... I still had quite a lot to do.

The first (and maybe scariest) thing I bought was my dress. I remember going home to tell my dad that I was getting married in 5 weeks time. He was delighted for me, which was wonderful as I was so worried that he'd tell me not to rush things. The next morning one of the girls who works with him, that I've known for ages dragged me "just to look' at a couple of dresses... reminding me that 5 weeks was not a long time. 

I knew we'd be having a small wedding, so as beautiful as big puffy princess dresses are, it just wouldn't have been right. Initially I thought I'd get a 50s style calf length wedding dress but I went along with trying on some other styles. I loved the big princesses dresses and had such fun putting them on, but then I tried on something special. A full length floaty dress with sheer arms and little jewelled straps. Nothing like I had imagined but it was perfect. Even more perfect was the fact that the sample size fitted. So having just gone out to try on dresses for fun by lunchtime that day I had my beautiful wedding dress packed carefully and was carrying it home. Getting shoes ended up being an equally simple (but much less expensive) trip to Debenhams.

At the time of our wedding our youngest niece had recently been discharged from special care and still needed oxygen with her all the time. We needed to find somewhere to have dinner afterwards that meant we wouldn't be exposing her to lots of germs. A very short stroll from the town hall is the Hotel Du Vin. They have a beautiful little private dining room with an open fire and a good wine list. Two things that were very important to us. We decided to book there. 

(I had to pinch the picture from www.myboutiquehotel.com)

At the same time I found they had some very lovely hotel rooms. The nicest room not only had two roll top baths in the bedroom but also a telescope. Perfect for watching the falling stars out of the window! Thankfully the room was still free with only a month or so to go, so we booked that too.

I often wonder what the people at the hotel thought when I was booking things so last minute. I'm sure that they thought I was insane. 

Our invitations were from vista print, which thankfully arrived within a week of ordering them. I had all these dreams of beautiful handmade invitations but with such little time and so many other things going on at work it was never going to happen. I was so pleased with these invitations, it was important to me to have something special to send to the special few invitees and these were perfect.

I had planned to bake a small wedding cake myself and even went as far as buying two cake tins. Retrospectively this idea was complete madness. Luckily, in Costco of all places, we saw these beautiful glazed fruit cakes bursting with dried fruit and nuts. I decided to buy a couple of those and cut one smaller to make the cake layered. I decorated it with ribbon, shimmery dust and snow flakes. It looked beautiful and tasted delicious, not to mention that it probably saved me hours of tears in the kitchen. 

The final thing I had to do was to organise flowers. I didn't have any bridesmaids so I just wanted something little for myself. Two days before the wedding I had been at a study day in Hove, and took a walk to the pretty florist nearest to my friend's house. I explained that I was getting married in two days and wanted a simple wintery bouquet. After the lovely florist lady had got over the shock of my last minute request she promised to make something nice and I told her I'd pick it up the morning of the wedding. 

The next day, the day before the wedding, I just had a few loose ends to tie up. The friend I was staying with met me at my flat and helped me carry the cake, dress and shoes to her house. We popped out the shops in the afternoon and I spent an hour in the lego store picking the mini figures who looked most like us to be bride and groom on our cake. I think that I did pretty well!

With a whole 24 hours to spare I had everything organised and wasn't feeling stressed out in the least. It was the beginning of a perfect wedding...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Family Weekend

I spent a lot of time telling people how much I adore my job, but the massive downside is having to work so many weekends and special occasions and missing out on family time. As I'm working over Christmas we decided to spend this weekend going to see friends and relatives as a pre-Christmas treat.

Friday night we drove down to Kent to visit my Dad. We're usually cursed with the traffic but it took us less than 2 hours. Lucky for us my Dad owns a hotel and a bar so we arrived, dropped our stuff in our room and joined him for a few drinks before bedtime.

We woke up in the morning to a lovely view over the channel. After heading out to find some breakfast we spent the rest of the day travelling around visiting all my friends who have had babies. I love baby cuddles so I had a lovely time, while hubby looked completely petrified and wouldn't hold any of them.

Food is something very special when we visit home. My dad will often say that the only 3 things that give you pleasure in life are love, wine and food. Dinner was a collection of delicious nibbly bits both from my Dad and a friend of his. We had iberico ham, beautiful sweet gruyere cheese, smoked anchovies, saussicon and piles of warm, fresh bread.

My Dad also put together a salmon and crab ceviche. It was so delicious. It makes me wish that I lived close enough to come for dinner more. It's no surprise that dinner out is often so disappointing when the food at home is so wonderful.

On Sunday we jumped back in the car and drove to Milton Keynes to swap Christmas pressies with the in-laws. The best part of the day was getting to see how grown up our little niece is. She's walking and starting to speak as well as growing a little mop of hair.

I was thoroughly spoilt and left with a massive pile of presents including a pasta maker (so watch this space to see the final results...) I had so many presents to pile into the car that I completely forgot to take the slow cooker my mother-in-law has given me, so I'll have to remember that next time.

It was another wonderful weekend spent with wonderful people. Hopefully I can make it three brilliant weekends in a row with this one that's up and coming?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Finally we found the time to decorate the Christmas tree. It's been tricky this year as our fluffy 4 legged addition to the family has not made things easy for us...

She is obsessed by the tree. She sits under it miaowing for hours at a time, especially if the lights at on. In the interests of trying not to tempt her too much we've left all baubles off the bottom 1/4 of the tree and obviously we've kept the glass baubles packed away.

Most people would be upset at no beautiful glass baubles, but not me. This means I've been able to cover the tree in my favourite (if a little gaudy) glittery baubles. There's something extra festive about glitter.

Last year hubby bought me a little snowman and he has taken pride of place nestling in the tree, hopefully keeping my baubles safe from the kitten.

Last year we had a flashing light up star, but it was a little much even for my fairy light loving tastes. I've replaced it with a glittery star, in keeping with my baubles.

I've seen some gorgeous Christmas bunting and lovely wreaths but I think that this year we'll just stick with the tree and getting out the snow globe. I was hoping to make a yearly snow globe a tradition. Last year we got this light up one from M&S, so I'll have to see if I can find one for this year. Perhaps we'll find one next weekend on our 1st wedding anniversary weekend away...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Finally December is here! It seems that with each passing year I get more and more excited about Christmas and the month of December. This year I'm working over Christmas (3rd year running...), although that's nothing unusual as I used to spend Christmas at work with my Dad every year. In fact there's something special about the mood at work on Christmas day.

I'm trying to make the most of the run up to Christmas by organising lots of fun things to fill my non-working days with. This means December will be hectic, but hopefully awesome.

We kicked off December by having a thoroughly festive Sunday. We got up early and almost totally finished our Christmas shopping. An organisational first. After that we did the most important thing that has to be done on the first weekend of December... We got the tree!

Different people have different tree rules. I like to get mine the first weekend so that I have it up as long as possible.

Since meeting Hubby last year I've been introduced to real trees. Our tree last year was a little lop sided and bald in patches. It had a certain charm, but in all honesty looked a little sad, because of that we decided to get serious about our tree choosing this year. We needed the perfect tree.

Homebase had 15% off everything on Sunday so we headed there and got to tree choosing. We instantly ran to the drop-resistant needle trees in the biggest size and started comparing. Unlike last year there were many fine specimens so we picked one and took it home.

Little did I realise that I'd then come second to the tree and be relegated to the back seat, but it was worth it to get that baby home!

At home we all swung into the festive spirit including the cat who decided to join us in wearing a Christmas jumper. Now before you start worrying about her not enjoying her jumper she purrs like crazy while it's on. Strange kitty.

I can't wait until later in the week when the tree is settled so that we can decorate it with lots of twinkly lights. Squeeee!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Winter Wonderland and the Magical Ice Kingdom

I know that it's been around for years, but I've never been to Winter Wonderland before. I've heard so many wonderful things about it, so this year Hubby and I decided to spend a precious weekend not at work visiting.

Initially we were just going to have a wander around, but after browsing the website I convinced Hubby that we should go to the Magical Ice Kingdom, there's something awe-inspiring about ice sculptures and I loved the idea of getting to see lots of them.

I'm going to be controversial here and say that I hated Winter Wonderland. Maybe it was exceptionally busy when we went but we could hardly move. We just shuffled around squeezed next to all the other stressed, squashed people being repeatedly bashed into by buggies. I have a bit of an issue with dense crowds so it was probably worse for me than most, but I definitely won't be going back.

Although I was incredibly stressed by all the pushing and shoving, there were some lovely bits to our day. The first thing I do when I'm feeling out of sorts is to eat, so that's what we did. I had a mahoosive spicy bratwurst topped with sauerkraut. It was almost enough to make me forget how grumpy all the people made me. It was also nice and warming to stand near the giant BBQ and warm up my cold fingers.

After eating we decided to browse some stalls and find the Winter Wonderland. Fat chance of being able to get close enough to any of the stalls, so we shuffled along, caught in the current of the crowd until we reached the Magical Kingdom of Ice.

I'd brought nice warm gloves and put on two pairs of socks to keep my toes warm. The Magical Kingdom of Ice is a giant refrigerated tent full of ice sculptures. The first few sculptures were some lovely fairytale-esque wild animals and fairy houses made of snow. They were like something from Enid Blyton's imagination.

After that it all got a little bit dark. Scary trolls and goblins wealding weapons were gathering around, back lit in eerie colours.

Next was an Ice Castle. The ice castle contained an ice dungeon with little ice rats, stocks, a prison cell and a head chopping block! The most exciting way out was to climb the castle and slide down the big ice slide. (I felt like a massive kid doing this, but why should they have all the fun?!)

The way out had some more fairytale sculptures that were better suited to my tastes than scary goblins and a dungeon. There was a frog prince, a majestic lion and beautiful swans swimming across an ice lake.

There was even a mini-ice bar almost at the exit, but unfortunately they didn't have any hot chocolate ready and there was no way that I could manage a cold drink. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of hot chocolate, but the free stollen and gingerbread on the way out more than made up for it.

Needing a bit of warming up we headed to try some mulled cider by Koppaberg. Not being able to choose (an eternal dilemma that Hubby and I have) we picked an apple and a mixed fruit. Both were delicious. In a stroke of luck I preferred the mixed fruit which was headily scented with clove while Hubby was a fan of the apple. It was also a lovely touch being able to have a real mug when so many places had paper cups.

After Winter Wonderland we stopped for some noodles and hopped back on the train home, squished, exhausted, but happy.