Rediscovering my legs – January Walks

Despite my best intentions, the festive period always degenerates into excuses for staying inside and eating. Whilst my weight hasn’t spiralled *completely* out of control, my activity levels plummeted over December and that just leaves me primed with excuses for January – “But it’s been so long, I just lost all my stamina” (that is of course a complete lie – I never had any stamina to begin with).

Thanks to the positive influences that are Pete (boyfriend) and Alf (dog) I have managed to peel myself out of my chair on occasion and get out to enjoy some fresh air and the beautiful Anglesey coast.

Newborough and Ynys Llandwyn

We had some spectacular weather over the weekend of the 21st & 22nd January and even though domestic tasks took up a large part of the day we wanted to make the most of the sunshine and get out for a walk. Pete decided he wanted to go to Newborough forest for what he described as a short walk to the beach and Llandwyn Island. The ‘short walk’ turned out to be a 2.5 hour, 11.3 km round trip – really I should know better than to have trusted his perception of how long things take!

Whilst I did end up in an awful lot of pain having gone from no activity for practically a month to an 11.3km hike and we had to finish the walk by the torches on our phones, we did get to witness Newborough beach and Ynys Llandwyn at sunset, which was very beautiful even if I’m not overly romantic (for those who don’t know, Ynys Llandwyn is named for Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers).

Unsurprisingly, as such an iconic and picturesque place there were quite a few people gathered, most with very fancy camera set ups and one with a camera drone, while I was just snapping with my phone. To be honest, I’d hate to see the place in August at the height of the tourist season, if you can I would definitely recommend going in the ‘off season’.

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Sunset from Newborough Beach
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The old lighthouse on Llandwyn Island
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Sunset over Llandwyn Island
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Sunset and a Llandwyn Island Lighthouse

Lligwy Beach

The weather this past weekend wasn’t quite as glorious as the weekend before, but we made the most of the bit of sunshine on Saturday afternoon and paid a visit to one of our more regular dog walking locations – Lligwy Beach. It was coming up to low tide which is the best time to visit Lligwy as it means there is masses of open sand that the dogs can run around on and we were keen to try and wear out both Alf and my parent’s dog Molly who had been staying with us for a few days.

We got caught in a very brief hail shower but were rewarded with a lovely rainbow (hail-bow?) afterwards.

This time of year is great on Anglesey as there are so few people around. I could have counted the other people on the beach on my fingers. It’s so nice to be able to get out and see the sky and the sea and have some space to breathe and think and disconnect from all the rubbish for a while.

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Empty Beach, Long Shadows, Rainbow, Brittle Star, Alf on the Rocks
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Molly chasing Alf chasing Pete

I have big plans for getting out and about this year, including climbing Snowdon, which I still haven’t done even though we’ve been up here 3 and a half years and Pete has done it several times. I really need to get over this excuse of ‘breaking myself back in slowly’ and actually put some effort in though, my concept of slowly might frustrate a snail.

Hope you are well and have survived January in more-or-less one piece,

Love

Betty

x

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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Lakes, 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

x

Freedom, Sweet, Sweet Freedom

Dear Readers,

I am positively delighted to be able to announce that I finished and submitted my PhD thesis yesterday! While this isn’t the end of the process and I don’t get to call myself Doctor Betty yet, it does mean I don’t have to look at or even think about it for a while.

As I don’t have a job to go to just yet (not for want of trying!), I now have some time off – some of the first proper time off I’ve had in four years, with no guilt or anxiety of work hanging over me. I have to say, it’s pretty brilliant 🙂

My celebrations so far have been pretty low key. I am immensely happy to have finished, but it all still seems quite unreal and dreamlike, plus all the effort of finishing has left me really tired.

Last night I stayed in with Pete and Alf and we had Indian take-away and a lovely bottle of Prosecco that my Mum and Dad sent for me, along with some pretty flowers, to say well done.

Today I have been quite lazy, enjoying being able to lie-in guilt-free, then I went out for a walk with Pete and Alf for the first time in ages. It was pretty cold but there are signs of spring coming through, including some crocuses beginning to emerge from the grass.

I have a few plans for what to do with my time, some of which aren’t so exciting (like tidying up all the mess I’ve been putting off while I finished up) and some of which are a bit more interesting (including getting back to blogging and some new ideas I have for posts!). In the next few days I’m definitely looking forward to being able to read something that isn’t a scientific paper. I have several books, comics and graphic novels that I have accrued in recent months and am very much looking forward to reading.

Thank you all so much for sticking around during my absence, which was a fair bit longer than I intended. I hope you will like what I have planned.

Love

My 27th Birthday

Last Monday was my 27th birthday 🙂
Whilst I lost a notable amount of work time in the preparation and celebrations, I had a lovely birthday weekend with a lot of my favourite people and far too much food (but really, really good food)!

I had a small party and barbecue on the Saturday. The weather wasn’t quite as nice as it had been during the week and it looked ominously cloudy from time to time, but it never did actually rain. We hung out in my garden with cake, drinks, meat and music for most of the afternoon and into the evening.

I wore my lovely Dorothy Perkins peach/coral polka dot peplum dress, which I’d been waiting for a suitable occasion to wear for ages! To match the vintage styling of the dress I put my hair up in victory rolls. I think they may be my best victory rolls so far 🙂

Happy Birthday bunting made by my mum (from almost entirely reused materials)
Homemade Rocky Road – I’ll blog the recipe soon
Happy Birthday Battenberg Cake 😀
Making a Wish

On my actual birthday, my boyfriend, our dog and I took a day trip to Burley in the New Forest.
We had a lovely lunch in The Queen’s Head pub (dog friendly) before wandering through the village to see the shops. As well as being a typical New Forest village full of ponies and shops selling fudge and ice cream, Burley also plays on its historical links to dragons and witches and has a large number of shops selling associated souvenirs.
The village is actually quite small, so we extended our walk into the surrounding forest and countryside, taking in an old hill fort and barrows. Alf had a fantastic time tearing around, up and down hills and through fields of bracken. He was well and truly knackered by the time we got back to the village. Pete also made the most of being outdoors (his natural habitat) by climbing trees.
We must have walked for about two hours and were in desperate need of drinks when we got back to Burley. As we enjoyed The Queen’s Head so much at lunch, we headed back for refreshments and I got myself a cream tea – which was sooooo yummy.

The Queen’s Head, Burley. Dog Friendly. Awesome Cream Tea.
The cutlery and condiments came in a small picnic basket. So cute.
Alf loves being outside and ran around like a crazy thing
Woo, Bracken!
View from the Hill Fort
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Cream Tea at The Queen’s Head. Soooooo good.
So good it gets two pictures!
Knackered puppy
Alf, Pete and Me 🙂

I had such a lovely time. Thank you to everyone who came to the party and all of you who sent birthday wished via text, facebook or twitter. You’ve made being old a lot easier for me.

Now I need to seriously up my exercise routine to loose these extra pounds I’ve put on this week!

Love

Mud and Science

On Friday, my boyfriend Pete, our dog Alf and I took a trip into the New Forest. We’re not big fans of places that are overrun with other people, so we thought we’d get out on Friday to avoid the bank holiday weekend. 

Pete had brought a VHF tracking collar back from his work in Croatia, the kind of thing they put on wild animals to track their movements, and we took that out with us to test. We put it on Alf for a bit to check it worked, he looked quite cute and didn’t seem to mind having it on.
We walked  by the river, had a picnic and saw a New Forest pony and her foal. Alf isn’t always too sure of water (bless), but as it was so warm he was happily running around in the water, where it was shallow anyway. Unfortunately, at one point he confused a big patch of mud for solid ground, and got almost completely coated in mud :/
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Gnarly roots
Pete talking Alf through how the collar works
Alf contributing to science
Pony and Foal
Very Muddy Puppy
Other than this day out I haven’t done anything else even vaguely celebratory this weekend; I’ve been all work, work, work. No rest for the wicked.
Hope you have had a good long weekend.
Love
 

Wining and Whining

This is pretty much how I’ve spent my week. Whining about most things, from the state of my skin through to  how bored I am of my work and the fact that my boyfriend is working away (again) and I am very bored and lonely without him 😦

As a result of this, I have been indulging in a fair amount of wine drinking of an evening, just to take the edge off :p I’ve drunk more wine than I would of a normal week, not helped by the fact that I have a Co-op just round the corner which has £9 wine for half price, and they put it right next to the queue, so I ended up leaving with two bottles of Rose. I have very little will power.

These two combined may have contributed to my recent blogging identity crisis :/ Sorry about that.

Can you really go wrong with a £9 bottle of wine for £4.50?

I should add that the weather isn’t actually something I’ve been whining about. It has been hot, possibly a little hotter than I would normally like, but after all the cold and rainy weather it has been so wonderful to enjoy some sunshine. To be honest, the glorious weather has been the absolute highlight of my week and goodness knows what my moos would be like without it.

The heat and the sunshine haven’t really helped with my work productivity, and it’s a shame my boyfriend hasn’t been around to enjoy it with me, but I have had our dog Alf to hang out with.
Alf rarely fails to make me smile, so having him around has definitely help keep my spirits up.
He loves the sunshine too, he likes that it means we spend more time outside and he loves just lazing around in the sunshine. He’s such a happy boy 🙂

So, the weather, the wine and Alf have totally made my week. And my Mum, who has put up with my almost nightly moany phone calls. Thanks Mum 🙂

It’s now less than a week until my boyfriend returns, just in time for the Jubilee bank holiday weekend! I hope the weather holds out. It’s May going into June, so it really should, but this is Britain, and it will be a Bank Holiday, so I’m not putting any money on it being nice 😦 I’d like to have a barbecue with friends, but I don;t want to plan anything and jinx it.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and that the weather has made you smile, even if you haven’t been able to get out in it properly yet.
Thanks for bearing with me this week, I can be a nightmare :/

Love

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,