2016-2017; Another year

Another year is over and we’re all trying to find our feet in 2017. As much as I sometimes see the fuss around ‘New Year’ as a bit pointless, I do like the impression of beginning a new chapter that comes with the change of date – generally speaking, as people we have always found new beginnings and clean slates appealing and a motivation for change  (who starts a new fitness programme on a Thursday?).

I have spent the past week or so drafting a list of my own personal ambitions for 2017. Unfortunately I am currently fighting off a rather persistent illness which has left me quite unable to act on most of them so far,  so I thought I would take the opportunity to look back on 2016 in the meantime instead.

From a global media perspective, 2016 seemed a little cursed. Looking a little closer you home however, I am looking back on 2016 rather fondly. I did lots of fun things, caught up with some old friends, took a couple of holidays, got a new job, made progress on the house and made progress on myself too. As I didn’t really get my act together on the blogging front, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you now.

February – Long Weekend in York

In February I arranged to take Pete to York for his birthday to coincide with both the Jorvik Viking Festival and going to see Týr, a band he is a big fan of but never managed to catch live. I was in the early stages of what would go on to be an epic chest infection and pleurisy but still had a lovely time getting away with Pete and seeing York and all the Viking attractions. Unfortunately the Jorvik Viking Centre itself was closed after being badly flooded at the end of 2015, but the rest of the Viking Festival was really interesting and enjoyable – Pete entered the ‘Best Beard’ Competition and was very pleased to come in 2nd place.

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clockwise from left; Micklegate, Emblem of the City of York, Jorvik Vikings
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clockwise from left; Hnefetavl (Viking Chess), Pete as Dick Turpin, Second Place in Jovik Best Beard Competition

March – Chickens!

Since we moved to Wales in 2013 we have toyed with the idea of getting chickens and in March Pete decided to go for it, built a coop with help from a friend and then bought us four hens from a local farm. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it’s actually been really enjoyable to keep them. It took a few months before they started laying eggs but we haven’t been short of eggs since.

Since we got the first four hens our flock has now grown to 8 with the addition of a cockerel who we hatched from an egg ourselves, two hens that were a gift from a neighbour and one more hen who we rehomed from a colleague of Pete’s who was having to move away and couldn’t take the hen with him.

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The Original flock
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Chipper – Our very own hatchling. Clockwise from top right; hatching day, one day old and four weeks old
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clockwise from top right; me with Chipper at 4 weeks, Mabel & Beauregard, Chipper at 2 and a half months

March-April – A Hen-do & Wedding

At the end of March I went on my first ever hen-do for my good friend Laura. We had a great day and night out in Oxford, starting with a walking tour, then lunch and drinks, followed by cocktail making, a late night tour of the castle then on for more cocktails all followed up with afternoon tea the following day. It was lovely to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in ages and to let my hair down a bit!

Although it was a bit of a trek down from Wales to Oxford I returned the following weekend, this time with Pete, to celebrate the wedding days itself!

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Obligatory Hen-do accessories, Cocktail Making, Afternoon Tea

June – Northumberland

In June we went away to Northumberland for a week with my parents and our dogs. We stayed in a lovely cottage near the ‘village’ of Twice Brewed which was within walking distance of part of Hadrian’s Wall. We had (mostly) great weather and spent lots of time out and about and did lots of walking, I clocked more than 100,000 steps on my FitBit and we tired the dogs out thoroughly.

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Playing Shield-Maiden at Homesteads Roman Fort, Alfred owning Hadrian’s Wall, The Sycamore Gap in Hadrian’s Wall near our cottage
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Ruins of Thirlwall Castle, Molly enjoying the sunshine and a sheep outside the garden wall
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Lindisfarn Castle, Cragside, Bamburgh Castle
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Walking along Hadrian’s Wall and a very tired dog

July – Croatia

For the past three years Pete’s research has required him to spend around 3 months every summer living in Croatia and for the first time in 2016 we actually managed to find a mutually convenient time, and the money, for me to go out and see him. So, despite being terrified of flying on my own, I headed out for a week at the end of July which also happened to include my birthday! It was far from a ‘normal’ holiday, but I was expecting that, staying in an old house in the middle of nowhere with no mains anything – water from a tank that needed to be kept topped up, gas from bottles and the only electricity from a car battery in the main living room. I had the best time and it made the summer apart from Pete and Alf so much easier.

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Me & Pete, My accommodation, The meadow next to the house
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Radio Tracking, Croatian Lunch and a baby Salamander
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Plitvice Lakes 
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Clockwise from left; Lake, Birthday wine and epic food

September – Wedding Weekend

Just after Pete returned from Croatia in September we had a mission of a weekend attending two weddings nearly 300 miles apart. It was important to us to be able to attend both so we didn’t mind making the effort to get to both. It was a lovely weekend with great weather on both days and two lovely (and very different) ceremonies. It was strange that having had very few friends get married we had 3 this year, that combined with 2 babies in our close friendship group probably suggests we’ve got to ‘that stage’ in life (not planning on following suit ourselves mind!).

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Wedding Number 1 – tipis in a field in Yorkshire
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Wedding Number 2 – Pete as an Usher at a Church Wedding in Hampshire

Well that’s ended up being quite a lot longer than I expected, but enjoyable for me to look back at all the pictures we’ve taken over the past year. It’s not that nothing good has happened since September, but I thought I’d better reel myself in before this becomes even more of a mammoth post than it is already!

I’ve been saying this for a fair while now, but I really do hope to get back into blogging properly so hopefully this will just be the first of many 2017 posts!

For now I’ll leave you and say Thank You to everyone who made my 2016 so great, and to everyone who might still be reading this.

Happy New Year,

Love

Betty

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Turtle Bay: Our 3 Year Anniversary

Saturday was me and my boyfriend’s 3 year anniversary 😀
Unfortunately he had to work during the day, but I booked us a table at Turtle Bay – a Caribbean restaurant in town. I’d heard a lot of things about it – both food and cocktails – but we hadn’t had opportunity to go before. Caribbean food isn’t really something I’ve had a lot of experience of before but I had already looked at the menu online and had some pretty high hopes!

Turtle Bay – complete with optimistic outside seating in March

It was a Saturday night, so the place was pretty busy, but we were seated really quickly, even though we got there early. I liked the interior, it was Caribbean styled, but not themed to the point of being tacky. The bar was set in the middle of the restaurant and styled like a beach front hut type thing. The bar was actually really busy in it’s own right, which isn’t surprising given the great range of cocktails the place offers. In fact, the bar was so busy that our drinks took longer to arrive than our food! Even though it wasn’t happy hour and the cocktails were a little pricey, I had to order myself a Raspberry and Chambord Martini – I love Chambord and Martinis are so elegant. It certainly lived up to expectations, so yummy.

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My Raspberry-Chambord Martini

Even though I had looked at the menu online, I hadn’t managed to choose what I wanted. There were so many options, loads of different and interesting things that I wanted to try – Goat Curry, Jerk Chicken, Marinated Pork, Jerk Ribs, Sweet Potato Fries. In the end I went for Browned Jamaican Chicken and Pete had the Goat Curry. Both came in rustic looking metal pots which I liked, I would love to have pots like that at home. Both were really yummy and came with rice and peas (which are actually beans). My chicken came on the bone, which I loved and Pete’s goat was ridiculously tender. They were both spiced really well, the flavours were great and left you with a warm spicy  feeling in your mouth.
The place had dessert menu, so I couldn’t really say no. I ordered the Dark Chocolate Pie, which was actually just a warm, gooey chocolate brownie and came with ice cream. Warm chocolate cakey things with ice cream are one of my favourite desserts and this was awesome – it was so chocolatey and gooey in the middle. Even though I was immensely full I couldn’t not finish it!

Pete’s Goat Curry with Rice and Peas and flatbread
My Jamaican Browned Chicken with Rice and Peas and a fried dumpling
Dark Chocolate Pie with ice cream

I had a really lovely evening. Turtle Bay is a great restaurant – if you’re ever in Southampton you should check it out, I think they also have one in Milton Keynes. They also have a lighter lunch section on the menu if you’re eating during the day. I will definitely be going back, I’d really like to have lunch there and also maybe go on an evening that isn’t a Saturday to see if the atmosphere is any different when it’s less busy. Plus I have to go back at some point to check out happy hour and try some more of their cocktails 🙂

Hope you all had a good weekend,
Love,

I freakin’ love Halloween

So Halloween is nearly here. I’m very excited, Halloween is one of my favourite celebrations, I wish it lasted for longer than one day a year.
Over the weekend I’m heading to a Halloween cocktail party, so have spent a fair amount of time looking up suitably creepy cocktail recipes and trying to decide what ingredients I’m going to need to take. I think I’m going for a dark and bloody theme for my cocktails, black vodka, creme de cassis, chambord, grenadine and any other deep red coloured ingredients I can find 🙂 In all honesty though, black vodka is a bit pricey, so I may just go for a budget vodka and black food colouring :p

Pete and I kicked off our Halloween celebrations last night with an evening of pumpkin carving and watching a movie followed by costume planning. We had a pumpkin each and it was meant to be a bit of a carving competition, but I’m not sure who is going to be the judge, might have to upload the pics on Facebook and put it to ‘the public’ lol.

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Alf thought maybe they were just big balls

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But what is it…?
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My pretty pumpkin and Pete’s Punisher skull

I’ll let you know how the Facebook vote turns out.

I think I finally got my costume sorted last night, and went out to pick up a few bits I needed for it today. Afraid you’ll have to wait to find out what it is though.

I’m also planning on setting about some serious Halloween baking, so there will be lots of cake pictures to put up soon.

Hope you have something fun planned for Halloween,

Trick or Treat,

Betty

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