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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An anti-ode to summer

So it looks like summer is over, supposing it ever properly started, and you know what, I am glad.
Summer is probably my least favorite season, which probably leaves me in a minority.
I love autumn, winter and early spring.
I like wearing boots and big socks, scarves and hats and coats. I like thick knits, wool and faux fur. I feel uncomfortable in swimsuits, bandeau tops and sandals. I can cope with skirts and shorts, but only if I can wear them with reasonably thick tights. I get more excited about fluffy ear-muffs than sunglasses. I like to sit under blankets, all wrapped up. I love open fires (not that I have one).
It’s only been a week since the prospect of autumn arriving has been being thrown around, and I’ve already bought some big woolly socks and wellies!
Why do I dislike summer so? Well, partly it’s because I’m a bit of a delicate flower (haha). As much as I like to see sunshine, I don’t like it when it’s hot, I hate it when it’s humid, I despise sweating and I burn at the drop of a hat. Another thing that puts me off summer is the fact that it’s almost entirely taken over by school holidays, meaning the world is over-run with people and children. Everywhere is busy. I’m an anti-social so-and-so at heart.
But Autumn. Autumn is full of beautiful colours, moody skies and bracing winds. Autumn can be warm but never too hot, and when it’s not you get to pile on lovely layers of jumpers and bundles of scarves. I can go out in the autumn and walk without getting too hot and without places being too busy to be enjoyable.
Autumn gives way to winter. Yes it’s dark, yes it’s cold, yes it rains quite a lot. I don’t even mind the rain that much, it’s so nice to curl up inside with a blanket and hot chocolate while it’s raining cats and dogs outside. Winter also brings wonderful crisp mornings with glittering frosts and the prospect of snow! Winter is the perfect season for breaking out sequined party wear, shimmering make-up and glittery heels.


I’m sure a lot of you will probably disagree with me on a lot of this, but to me, autumn and winter are the most beautiful and enjoyable times of year with the most exciting fashion. Summer is too, ordinary.
I do kind of understand why so many people love the summer so much, but I think autumn and winter are too quickly dismissed, especially given they make up the majority of our year in the UK! Autumn and winter have so much more to offer if you look past the rain and the grey clouds and embrace the positives! Find yourself a good pair of wellies, a big coat and go walk through an autumnal forest and kick leaves and then tell me autumn is not a beautiful time of the year!

All pictures included in this blog are from morgueFile.com, a resource for copyright free images.
I hope you’re making the best of your current weather, whatever it is.
Love,
Betty
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