Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Beautiful Warwickshire

In preparation for the Blog Every Day in May challenge hosted by Rosalilium, I spent a few hours last night going through all my posts and I realised that although I posted about us going away for the minibreak to Warwickshire I didn't actually show you what we got up to!!

Our hotel, the Weston Hall Hotel, was a beautiful old country house tucked away in a village called Bulkington. Some areas looked a little tired, but the bed was comfy, the breakfast was amazing and the staff incredibly friendly.

We headed up on Thursday morning and went straight to Cadbury World, using their Purple Thursday 2 for 1 ticket deal. Our entry time was 2pm, perfectly timed that all the school trips were leaving the attraction so it was much quieter. Sion loved the fact you were given chocolate bars to eat on the way round but by far the thing that amazed us was the history behind the Cadbury brand. The village of Bournville was built to allow the workers of the factory to leave the poor conditions of the city and additional benefits were brought in like healthcare, education and leisure activities. Pretty amazing to be so forward thinking for the late 1800s.


On Friday we spent the day wondering around Birmingham and mostly the Bullring shopping centre. We also ate obscene amounts of sushi for lunch, stopping only when everyone else around us had long gone!!

We left the hotel on Saturday morning and decided to stop off in Stratford to soak up some Shakespeare culture. A grey and overcast day turned into a beautiful spring morning so we wondered along the river bank and were passengers on the maiden voyage of the water taxi for the 2014 season! I took the chance for some quiet reflection time in the churchyard that Shakespeare is buried in, although his resting place was inside the church so we didn't see it. We also headed into the town centre and looked at the beautiful buildings and popped in and out of shops.


Heading home through the Warwickshire and Oxfordshire countryside we daydreamed about living in the massive stately homes we passed, until we found ourselves back in our little corner of Hampshire, rested and definitely re-connected!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Journal #10 - Strength

It's been a few weeks since I joined in with Danielle's Journal Day prompt (I never was good at journal or diary writing!). This week's prompt is "What are your strengths?"

I can't quite work out what it is that have squashed my ability to sing my own praises. Is it my British-ness, my femininity or my fear of offending someone less skilled in those areas? Why does to "boast" and "brag" appear to be a negative trait? I am so quick to point out my shortcomings and failures but quickly follow any compliment with a "oh it was nothing" or "oh it looks more complicated that it was". Well no more! I'm putting it out there that there are some things that I'm bloody great at - that I'm proud to have mastered - that I'm happy when other people recognise it in or from me.

I'm a good cook. Most recipes I try come out as they should and I have only had a few disasters...my most recent one was a gluten free loaf of bread that didn't rise and got thrown out along with the tin it was welded to.

I can make people laugh. This is sometimes through my writing, occasionally from tickle beatings and most frequently by me saying or doing something goofy purposely to get a giggle.

I am not afraid to get stuck in and get my hands dirty. Need a tree chopping down or bags or gravel moved - call me.

I'm artistic. Not so much in the classical sense of draw me a giraffe, but I can match colours together, I can picture a room or garden in my head and create it for real.

I can write fluently and succinctly.

I am usually the first to say yes to a challenge. Once I have agreed to something even if I have second thoughts I will see it through to the end.

There may well be things that other people will say are my strengths, but these for me, are the things that come to mind. Now all I need to go is make sure I get home tonight and cook a beautiful dinner, clear the overgrown mess at the bottom of the garden, find the perfect bistro garden set on ebay and start writing the first of my "Blog every day in May" posts...

Why not have a go at saying what your own strengths are, then post them with others at Sometimes Sweet


For this week's word of the week there can only be one word


I spent the early part of the week remembering little snippets of conversations that I had with my niece over the Easter Weekend - one particular highlight took place in a toilet cubicle at the local farm attraction (at the top of her voice) "Auntie Carrie you should probably have a wee now too", quickly followed by "Ooh Auntie Carrie, I like your pink knick-knicks - are they on back to front?" I will now be sure to wear more appropriate underwear on family days out!

On Wednesday it was the 5 year anniversary of my Dad passing away. Of course it gets easier over time, life has to go on. But just occasionally it hits me like a sucker punch that he's not here. I had a quiet day looking at photos and just remembering him and reflected on how life has changed in the five years since I saw him last.

Two extremes of emotions perhaps but then life has a habit of doing that!

Please do head over to The Reading Residence for other Words of the Week.

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

In memory...

Today is the five year anniversary of my Dad passing away...five years sounds a long time, but emotionally it's only a heartbeat. There's a part of me that chokes when I realise that I'll never hear his voice again, never reach over his shoulder to hug him when he's sat in his chair, never introduce him to my partner or children. If I allow myself to acknowledge the sheer bloody unfairness of him not being here I'm afraid I'll slip back down the slippery slope of isolation and depression.

My dad was always interested in what we had been getting up to. I need to remind myself that as difficult and as sad life is without him, life naturally continues. I've made a lot of choices with his advice and enthusiasm for new experiences encouraging me. Today more than ever I need to remember these highlights;

I became an auntie to beautiful, funny and inspiring children.

I went to Peru with my uncle and walked to Machu Picchu, raising £5000 for The Prostate Cancer Charity.

I travelled to Chile to watch my brother get married in a fairy tale castle to his beautiful wife.

I handed in my notice without a job to go to in the middle of the recession because I knew I needed to change my work/life balance...I ended up leaving on Friday and starting my new job on the following Monday

I brought a completely impractical but absolutely beautiful roaring sports car, then traded it in for an equally uneconomical four wheel drive. He would have been impressed with both my choices!

I went to a BBQ the night before my new job instead of staying in sensibly but met the man who I hope to be with for the rest of my life.


I returned to Cuba for the holiday of a lifetime...and blew the remaining savings on another holiday when we got home.

I experienced the joy of falling pregnant and sadly the awfulness of miscarriage.

I moved into the house that we will hopefully raise our children in.

Dad, my life continues on, I wish you were here to enjoy it too but know that the person I am today is the person you helped mould me into. I still dream of you and feel you near me, just out of reach. I'm so proud to have had you as my father.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Word of the Week - Peace

"I long for the countryside, that's where I get my calm and tranquillity - from being able to come and find a spot of green" - Emilia Clarke

Last weekend we spent a few days in the Somerset countryside. After the most peaceful and restful night's sleep on Friday we decided to visit Cheddar Gorge. Despite being in the middle of the Easter holidays the thought of walking up 274 to the viewing tower had seemed to put off a lot of visitors making it un-crowded and peaceful apart from the huffing and puffing coming from me.

We spent the next three hours walking along both sides of the gorge, stopping frequently to admire the view and take pictures, although the photo never seemed to quite capture the depth and scale of what your eyes were seeing.

During a moment of quiet reflection I thought of all the effort we all put in to get something looking perfect; whether it's ourselves, our home, our relationship or our work. Yet here out in the countryside nature has taken it's course, by just letting things be and giving it time the most beautiful creation has appeared.

Perhaps instead of trying to impact and influence everything, we should also try to let nature take it's course and find peace in the end result?

Take a few minutes to pop over to The Reading Residence to take a look at other people's posts, or link up your own

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Breathing in the sun...

“Inhale and hold the evening in your lungs.”
― Sebastian Faulks,

These photographs of our garden were taken this week at about 6pm. The sun, hidden behind the house for the last few hours, threw a golden glow down the length of the lawn.

I was actually taking photos of our broken fencing, ready to send a ranting letter to our letting agency. For the next few minutes I forgot about the broken panels and just breathed in the sun.

Joining in this week with Mammasarus
Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Gallivanting in Glastonbury

This past weekend we enjoyed two days in the beautiful countryside of Somerset, glamping in a campsite on the outskirts of Glastonbury. The site was at the bottom of the mystical Glastonbury Tor so the first task of the weekend was to conquer the summit! 

 The reward for the hard slog was the incredible views of the Somerset levels and surrounding countryside.


All that walking made the G&T back at the campsite taste so much sweeter!


Saturday found us bright eyed and bushy-tailed so after a typical camp breakfast of egg and bacon we drove to the nearby city of Wells and took in the stunning Cathedral. There is no charge to visit inside the cathedral, although you are encouraged to make a donation towards the upkeep of the building and grounds.

All this outside air was making us feel uplifted and virtuous so we took ourselves to the amazing Cheddar Gorge to walk the length of it...but that a whole post in itself...pop back later in the week to see more of what I saw!

Joining in this week with Magic Moments and What's the Story?