Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Trip to Lincoln

This past weekend was mine and Lee's 11th wedding anniversary. If you remember, last year we went on holiday for our 10th anniversary with family, well I thought this year was going to be much quieter (just a meal out) but then Lee surprised me last week by saying he'd booked a night in a hotel in Lincoln for us! We've been having a rough time recently (not with each other, other stuff) and he wanted to treat us to a nice relaxing time. So on 25th June we set off around 12 to Lincoln. I've never actually been there before!

We stopped close by for lunch and then checked into our hotel room at about 1.40. Even though the official time was 2pm, I often find hotels are ready for you before and if they hadn't have been we would have waited in the bar! We stayed here. We had a king size bed and the room was really nice and came with the added bonus of air conditioning! We had it set to fridge temperature I swear!

We went down to the leisure club and spent a couple of hours swimming and in the jacuzzi. It was a nice big pool and there was a steam room, sauna, and heated loungers too. We then relaxed in the room and each had a bath before setting out to the city centre around 7pm.

We'd planned to go to a certain restaurant and drove round three times trying to find it! It was raining really hard which didn't help, but we eventually found it, and then, they were fully booked. D'oh! There were rivers of rainwater running down the hill, but we walked to a restaurant called Cote which was a French brasserie. As soon as we walked in we were shown to a table, and the hostess took our soaked hoodies to hang them up.

The menu was lots of traditional French food. I ordered a Kir to start with and Lee was pleased to find Orangina on the menu (he doesn't drink alcohol). We shared a garlic bread to start with, and then Lee had half roast chicken with a mushroom sauce and frites, and I had steak-frites which was incredibly delicious. Really well done food, and the prices weren't too bad. The waiter recommended a wine with my steak which was also really nice. Lee had ice cream and I had chocolate fondant. I really really recommend the place if you live near one!

We went back to the hotel and had a drink in the bar; there was a champagne cocktail on the menu made with vodka, elderflower and champagne, so I had that. It was delicious!

In the morning we had breakfast and then checked out. We drove into Lincoln and went first of all to the castle. The Wave of Poppies is there until September and I wanted to see them. It's free to get into the Castle grounds and even if the poppies weren't there it would have been nice to wander around. The poppies are magnificent, though. It was reall poignant to see them, I'm glad I had the chance.

Then we moved the car more into the city centre and wandered around for a bit, I wanted to spend a fortune in Waterstones but resisted! Then my friend Lou and her partner Si came to meet us for coffee which was lovely. Unfortunately we too soon had to leave to come home!

I've never been to Lincoln which is why Lee chose it, plus he'd seen it on a list of underrated places to visit in the UK. I'd defnitely go back and would definitely recommend it!

Relaxing in the hotel room

Rivers of rain in the city centre

My feet got extremely wet!

Lincoln cathedral is huge, much bigger than I thought it would be. 

The wave of poppies from the top of the hill which leads down to them

Close ups

It is really beautiful to see them

This was my present for Lee, I commissioned Emma to draw us and this is the lovely drawing she came back with! Isn't it lovely? Lee really liked it too.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Grrrl Con in Edinburgh

At the beginning of June I went to Grrrl Con in Edinburgh. It was organised by Write Like A Grrrl and Fors Books Sake and was just for women. Lee and two friends came with us and we camped in Musselburgh which was really nice even though it rained a lot.

The conference was excellent - really well organised and I got a lot out of it. There was a talk both first thing and last thing in the afternoon with everyone, and in between times we had workshops in smaller groups. I did "Writing about Sex", and "Magic Realism" on Satirday, and on Sunday I did "Pitch and Plot" and "Writing the Perfect Sentence". The joint talks were really interesting too.

Several of my zine friends were also there which was great; I met my friend Emma in person for the first time, and caught up with Laura, Rachel, Ingrid and Cherry. I also made new friends - everyone introduced themselves and was so friendly. It was a really positive space and I came away feeling really invigorated about myself and my writing.

Here's some photos.

I loved this quote that the first speaker - an agent - used.

On the tables in the cafe were stones with words written on them - it was really fun to play with them! 

I sometimes feel like writing is this, but not at Grrrl Con!

On Saturday evening Lee and I went out to find food, and went to the beach. It was cold but it was lovely to see the sea. 

This was first thing on Sunday morning, ready for our second day. 

And this was the first speaker Denise Mina, she was really funny and engaging. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Trip to London

At the beginning of June I went down to London to stay with my friend Von. We met online several years ago and chat often on Whatsapp, although we don't see each other in person as often as I'd like. I had a really lovely time with Von and her flatmates.

On the Sunday it turned out that some Australian friends of mine were in London too so we met in Hendon Park Cafe which was near where Von lives. It was the first kosher park cafe in the UK and when we arrived the sun was shining brightly so we sat outside. I ordered the Israeli breakfast platter and a vanilla milkshake, and they were both delicious! I'll definitely go back the next time I visit Von!

Israeli platter - hummus, pitta bread, omelette, salad, tuna mayonnaise, and falafels.

Alison, me, Judith, and Von. It was so good to meet them!

After they'd left Von and I had an ice cream each before going back to hers :)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Books of the Month - May

Here's what I read in May, it was a good month for books!

I was looking forward to reading this as I'd heard so much about it, and although it wasn't perfect, it was still pretty good. Here's my in-depth review. 

I read this on the plane to France and didn't really like it. Not worth it

I really liked the premise of this book, which was set on the last day of World War One and is about three young men, one British, one American, and one German. I don't feel like it lived up to its premise really though. Here's my in-depth review though. 

I absolutely loved this, but then I really liked Wonder, which is the book about Auggie himself. These stories are a very cute coda to the novel. You can see my in-depth review here, but do read this and Wonder. 

This was the book like Memoirs of a Geisha that I read. It's about a woman who loses her daughter and grandson in the Nagasaki nuclear bombing. I really really liked it and am glad I took a chance on it. Here's my review.

I didn't love this, but it was okay. I got it from the library in my village which has a small YA section. Here's my review.

This was a really strange book and I only read it all because it's really short so it didn't take long. It's weird because it's basically about three kids who travel back in time to Ellis Island to see immigrants arriving on boats, and then they have to help some of the immigrants and in the process they learn all about coming to America. It felt like it was an educational book too much!

I really liked this book, and it may be the winner of the Carnegie medal. It's about a girl whose dad has just died, and her complicated relationship with her mum and stepdad. My review is here

I like a lot of Joanne Harris' novels, and one of my favourites is Gentlemen and Players which is set in a boys' school in a Yorkshire village. So when I heard this sequel was coming out I ordered it straight away and put it to the top of my TBR pile (which isn't actually a thing because if it was it would crush me to death). I liked it, but I felt it was over long and quite repetitive in parts, it needed some editing.

I got this free from Netgalley and enjoyed it. It's about a girl whose Mum has died of a meth overdose and her life clearly gets turned upside down with the arrival of an uncle she didn't know. It's good, I recommend it. My review is here.

I absolutely loved this, it was as close to a perfect book as I read in May. It's about conjoined twins and it's written in free verse, which I was sceptical of but which really worked. I loved it! My review is here

This was an awful lot of reading! Go me!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Films of the Month - May

Here's what I watched in May - it was a quiet month!

We hadn't seen this is foreeeeeever, so we sat down and watched it. It's still my favourite one I think

This is a really good documentary about Americans' addictions to prescription drugs. Definitely watch it if that sounds like your thing

I was in a Reese Witherspoon mood, and I don't think I'd ever seen this

I'd read a book that was quite similar to Memoirs of a Geisha and realised I'd never seen the film. It's not as good as I remember the book being

This was Lee's choice one Sunday evening. I think it's probably my favourite of the three. 

And this was my choice a week later. We'd not seen it in years and although I don't really like Jim Carrey I do really like this film.

Monday, June 13, 2016

What I Wore 8th May in France

We sadly had to come home on the 8th of May, I would've liked to stay in France about a week longer! I'd love to live there one day. I was complimented on my excellent French and I learnt the words for "shooting star": etoile filante! That'll come in useful I'm sure!

We had to leave for the airport around 3pm but then our flight was delayed which was a pain, but we finally got home around 9pm and Ivy was very happy to see us! This is what I wore to travel in. It was comfortable and neither too hot nor too cold.

You've seen this yellow Scarlett & Jo skirt before, here, but I haven't worn it as much as I've worn the others that I have. Yellow is such a lovely summery colour though so I'll try to wear it again. My black top was from Evans, it actually has a peplum hem that I don't much like so I wear it tucked in. The green cardigan was from Peacocks and I've worn it lots - in fact it's starting to bobble, boo. 

It was very windy so excuse my slightly wild hair!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

What I Wore 7th May in France

The 7th of May was the actual wedding of my godmother and her now-husband! They've been together for almost 30 years and engaged for a while, so it's really lovely that they got married too. It was a small wedding in terms of numbers, but it was utterly beautiful and I'm so happy.

My mum and I went shopping a few weeks ago to find her a hat and me a dress, and this is what I got. I love it, it's so swishy and I love the colours and the length. It was perfect for a wedding and I even braved bare legs because the weather was so lovely.

Funny story - I bought some pink sandals to wear, and when I went to put them on just before the wedding, I discovered one was a size 6, my size, but the other was a size 5 and wouldn't go on my foot! Fail! I'll be taking them back. Since my other sandals were bright yellow my mum very nicely lent me her white and silver sandals to wear as they looked a bit better!

My cardigan was from the Claire Richards collection a couple of years ago.

I know we all complain about hanky hems but in this case I think it looks gorgeous and works well for the dress. 

Here's the bride and groom, don't they look lovely? A's dress was silver (it looks sort of green here, which it wasn't) and utterly beautiful. 

And here's a photo of Lee and I towards the end of the evening when a lot of food had been consumed!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What I Wore 6th May in France

On the Friday of our weekend in France I wore this new dress from the Sprinkle of Glitter collection from Simply Be. I like a lot of the collection but find the prices a bit expensive. This dress at £35 wasn't out of my budget, and I like that it is pure cotton and I love the pattern and the pompoms on the bottom.

I was standing outside the side door out of our bedroom from the cottage here, such a nice backdrop! My shoes were from Evans last summer. 

Look, it has pockets! This is really lovely, well-made dress and I'm going to wear it ALWAYS. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Long Weekend in France - Part II

As I said in my last post we were in France, between Angouleme and Limoges, for my godmother's wedding. She and my mum grew up on the same street so have been friends since they were kids. She's always been there for me when I've needed her, so I was really happy Lee and I were able to go over to France for her wedding. On the Friday we were left to our own devices, so Lee, my mum and I went for a drive in the middle of the day round a few of the villages. I took some quick photos.

This river was so fast flowing that all the weeds were going in the same direction!

This weeping willow was just beautiful. 

We stopped in a bar and my mum had a beer, typical!

This was our hire car, an Opel Mokka and although it looks black it was actually a very dark sparkly brown. It was really nice and fancy!

In the evening we went to eat in La Toscane in Montbron which I can wholeheartedly recommend if you ever find yourself in the area! It is very reasonably priced and it was totally delicious. I took a couple of photos.

My mum and I had a Kir Royale each to start with - a cocktail made of creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and champagne. This one had strawberry flavoured sugar around the edge of the glass, it was yummy!

And this was my dessert - Poire Belle Helene which is bits of pear with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce and lots of chantilly cream. 

The cottage we were staying in had plenty of animals nearby, all of whom were very friendly. 

This little dog was called Chanel and she kept coming to see us and hoovered up the floor when we'd been eating!

These little beetles were all over the grass, they had such an unusual pattern on them!

There were lots of horses, but this one let us stroke his nose and took an apple from us

There were several ginger and white cats around but this one was the most friendly. She came right into our cottage and wanted stroking.

Then she sat down on Lee's knee and made herself comfortable!

Finally this cat was very friendly and wanted her head stroking, but was more skittish than the ginger ones. I love her colouring though!