Monday, 30 May 2016

May Favourites

Short and sweet, but oh so special, here are my two favourites from May. 

First up, let's be shallow and talk hair. In all the time I've been colouring my hair I've rarely been one to follow trends; in fact when I had bright red hair and I started seeing people walking around in their pyjamas outdoors with the same colour, I decided it was time to get rid and went back to kind of my original colour. This time however, I'm totally following the masses, like a sheep, and I don't care! As soon as I saw my hairdresser post a photo with rose gold I immediately liked the photo with all the heart eye emojis and decided instantly that I'm a gonna need me some of that. So I did just that. And I LOVE it! It's not too much in your face, it's subtle but oh so nice (the photos don't really do it justice) and it feels all kinds of summer and rose wine vibes - sweet! Here's a shameless selfie showing it off:


The second favourite of the month is of course our holiday. Oh it was SO GOOD! We were really lucky with the weather, the village we stayed in was so cute and really good location-wise for all the things and places we wanted to visit. We relaxed, we refreshed, we rebooted, all the good things in life. Bob the Dog was a brilliant holiday companion and truly took everything in his stride. He even walked 8 miles one day which is truly amazing! He's pretty much been asleep since we came back... I'm really hoping that below you'll be able to see a little video of our day at Kielder Water and Forest, which was definitely up there in my top 3 days, and is a pretty good summary of the holiday (fingers crossed it works!)

video

Friday, 27 May 2016

HOLIDAYS ROCK part 2: English Heritage

What I'm about to tell you is the most middle class thing I will ever own up to: last year we became members of the English Heritage. Eek! I mean seriously, it's probably some kind of crime against my working class roots! Before you go all Judy Judgement on me, let me tell you a bit more of the story. 

When we were on our epic roadtrip round Britain last year we decided to call into Stonehenge, simply because we were in the area. When we got there it was a bit of a shock because man, was it expensive to get in there to see a big old bunch of rocks! I don't remember how much exactly but it was upwards of £20 each (each!) - yikes! There was some blokey standing there from English Heritage who explained to us that we could take out a joint membership which would cost this much and then we would save this much...we're normally not one to fall for that kind of thing but actually it all kind of made sense. And the savings were huge if you had plans to visit lots of sites, so a financially sound decision also. 

Fast forward almost a year later to our holiday last week. Where we were staying in Bellingham was super close to all kinds of English Heritage places so we packed our membership cards with us and swiped our way into all sorts of halls and castles and gardens without handing over a penny!


First up was the lovely Belsay Hall and Castle. As we had Bob the Dog with us we couldn't go into the hall but we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the woodland and cragside walks, both of which were frankly an absolute delight!

Next up was Hadrian's Wall. We went to two spots along the way here: Housestead's and Chester's Roman Fort. If you're not into seeing old ruins and bits of wall that date back 2000 years, this probably isn't going to be your thing, but it was actually pretty interesting, and Chester's in particular is in a beautiful setting. We enjoyed a lovely cuppa and a sticky bun in the cafe and the ladies who worked there made a huge fuss of Bob and gave him a saucer of biscuits for free! 



Our final visit was to Aydon Castle. We were actually recommended this by someone from English Heritage when we visited Belsay, who described it as a hidden gem at the bottom of a dirt track - with a description like that we couldn't resist! It really was all kinds of gem-like too. Built in the 13th century it's the only castle with all the rooms still remaining, and the added bonus was that as it is unfurnished we could take Bob in too! He only woof-ed once when he heard people upstairs in his castle - how rude...! We wandered from room to room admiring old beams and cupboards in walls, but the most exciting thing of all was being able to walk round the battlements at the top! Normally these kind of things are all closed off but you could freely trot around pretending to be a soldier, or you know, just be cool and walk round all chill like...



If you're ever in the area, I would definitely recommend a visit! Camera-trickery aside, it really was a lovely find and a great end to the holiday. 


So the moral of this tale? If like us, you're willing to accept the complete and utter middle-class-like shocked face emoji of being a member of the English Heritage you can find out more here. I never thought I would say it, but on the way home we were already talking about other places we can visit to make sure we get the most out of the membership and plan to rejoin when our current one expires. I don't think you can get a better recommendation than that! 

Monday, 23 May 2016

HOLIDAYS ROCK!

As this goes live I'm back at work and the holiday is officially over *sob* Which is very sad as it was an absolutely bloody brilliant week! Northumberland you did us proud! We only got rained on once, which for North East England in May is pretty amazing, the rest of the days it was glorious blue skies, warm sun, and epic relaxation and chilling out. Some days we went for an all day adventure, other days we lazed around til lunchtime and did a couple of hours strolling in the afternoons. The location was gorgeous and really couldn't be a better example of England's green and pleasant lands. Roll on the next one! Take it away photos! 

Blue skies, green fields, and sheep - England in a nutshell!

The South Riverside Walk at the North Tyne River

Kielder Water and Forest Park

Kielder Water and Forest Park

My trusty walking boots at Kielder Waterside

Belsay Hall and Castle - the Cragside Walk

Belsay Hall and Castle - the Cragside Walk

Belsay Castle, and the fireplaces in the high walls!

The North Riverside Walk at the North Tyne River

Hadrian's Wall!

In the grounds of Chester's Roman Fort

Aydon Castle - a total hidden gem! 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Time out

I'm interrupting normal proceedings and going radio silent for next week. Me and Dave and Bob the Dog are off on our jolly holidays and the plan for the week is total and utter relaxation, lazy contemplation, and all the ice-creams everyday. See you on the other side...

Monday, 9 May 2016

Peter Panning

I was having this text conversation with my sister the other day and we were chatting about this and that and she asked me what I was up to. I replied that I was catching up on some YouTube videos. Her reply? Your niece is doing that too.

I should at this point tell you that my niece is 12...

...does this make me 12 too?

Fast forward a few days later and I started to think back to that conversation, and to the general idea of what it means to get older. When I was actually 12, I had no concept of what it would be like to be 41 (my actual age) but if anyone had asked me I would probably have said that I would be looking after all my children and flicking through the catalogue to pick out the latest furniture for my home (anyone else do that when they were kids...?) As things have worked out, my life is nothing like that (can we have a hallelujah!) and at 41 I don't feel old, older, or more mature than I did when I was 19. Am I stuck in a time-warp, forever trying to recreate my much missed youth? Nope, but I now know the thing that adults never tell you when you are kids - no-one ever grows up! Seriously, that feeling older thing is a total urban myth.

I can back this up with further evidence from two very important people in my life. First up is Dave. Dave is quite a lot older than me and people have this ridiculous notion that I live with an adult. Let me stop you for a moment there while I have a good belly laugh first, and then secondly say HA! Don't be fooled by the age thing, there are basically two big kids living in this house with the over-sized dog/horse. The second is my Pops. In actual years, he will be 70 this year, but believe me when I say that in his head he is still 25. He still throws engines around at work, he still throws himself around in cars with no doors doing hill challenges and rallying, and he likes nothing better than to cause mischief. Adults - nil, Big Kids - high five!

Obviously in actual terms I am an adult, doing adult things: I go to work, I pay the bills, I do the food shop and boring housework-y things that are definitely the worst aspect of adulting, but believe me, in my head I am still the same as I was when I was 19. (This was a big age for me, it was when I finally finally realised that I was okay to just be me, my true self, and be all the things that go with being me).

But turning 40 doesn't mean that you have to stop time, cease all fun, and start wearing beige (I seriously read an article once that recommended you should start wearing neutral tones past 35 - as if!), nor does it mean that you have to go around saying that you don't understand Snapchat and don't have time to watch that YouTube nonsense. I'm here to put you right kids! Snapchat is hilarious and YouTube can be anything you want it to be. Ner-ner-ner.

The general concept of being "too old" is bullshizz - people are doing some amazing stuff now at all ages. And just because the numbers increase each year doesn't mean that you have to lose some sense of self with them. Do what makes you happy! If that means watching videos and vlogs from the crazy world of YouTube then go right ahead, no matter how old you are. I fully plan on remaining the same way as I am now until I'm at least 65, when I will retire to the country, let my hair go grey, invest in some crackin' good nighties* which I will match with my wellies, and stomp about my country house looking after my pigs. In my spare time I will still be listening to new music, dancing around the kitchen, and checking in on my YouTube peeps.  

*Sidenote: it's highly unlikely that anyone will want to visit me as, hello, crazy woman who keeps pigs, which is why it'll be okay for me to be stomping about in my nightwear, in case you were wondering.  

Friday, 6 May 2016

Follow the yellow brick road...

...or some blogs that I love. I decided that after discussing my reasons for Unfollowing some bloggers in a recent purge, that I'd share some of the blogs I get really excited about. This is not an exhaustive list as my feed is pretty full, but these are probably the ones I will read first before anything else. I'll link to each one in the title and then tell you why I love them so.

Garance Dore
I've talked before about my love for Garance Dore in a recent monthly favourites. Her blog is quite simply divine! The photographs are always stunning and oh so stylish. The content is massive in range and includes everything from the latest in beauty and fashion to think pieces written by Garance which are always so funny (this just makes me believe even more that we could be best friends...) A lot of the products are high end and there's a lot about NYC as this is where they are based, but it never ever puts me off. This is less about promoting a lifestyle and more about creating diverse and interesting content that has me clicking back for more every single day.

Cupcakes and Cashmere
Both Emily (of Cupcakes...) and Garance are probably the two main style blogs that I read. Having said that they are poles apart in style and live on opposite coasts of the USA. I absolutely love Emily's style and she has a lot of weekly series that I look forward to, which was a big inspiration behind me trying a few series on this blog. As with Garance the content is very diverse and all about a whole range of everything from eating habits to latest discoveries in bronzer. I enjoy the mix and have yet to come across a post that has had me clicking away. Another thing I really like is that the posts are waiting for me when I check into Bloglovin on a morning, which is quite unusual for a US based blog as they seem to mainly publish in the afternoon UK time.

Minimalist Baker
You didn't think we'd get through this without a foodie blog? Come on! Where to start? I think I love Dana and John. Every recipe I've ever tried has been absolutely bloody gorgeous and they really are minimalist - a small ingredients list and usually made in one bowl, the recipes are easy to follow, totally delicious, and the photographs often make me drool. They're incredibly interactive with their readers and often reply to comments and always always like your photo if you post to instagram using the hashtag #minimalistbaker which makes me feel all kind of fan-girly and oh my god they actually looked at my photo (#geek) I've recently pre-ordered their brand new cookbook and cannot wait for it to arrive! So! Much! Excitement! I am almost certain there will be some drooling...

A Model Recommends
Ah the lovely Ruth. This one is a real mixed bag: in-depth product reviews and testing, wish-lists, style posts, lots of lifestyle, and these days all sorts of baby stuff thrown in there too. My favourite is the Sunday Tittle-Tattle weekly post for both the title and the ramblings that emerge from it. Ruth is funny and down to earth, I'd say a bit ditzy and completely loveable. I've been following loyally for a long while now and feel like we've all been on a journey together. Normally I would be turned off at the first mention of pregnancy and babies but as a loyal reader, the news was so brilliant I think it even brought a tear to my eye. Most of the baby stuff is pointed towards an alternative blog which I even started following, not because I want to know about the best baby bag to carry but because I genuinely enjoy reading everything that Ruth creates, and you can't really ask for a better recommendation than that!

The Londoner
If you want to travel the world but don't have the wallet to do it then I'd recommend having a read of Rosie's blog. If on the other hand you are easily jealous and find rich people highly annoying then avoid this one like the plague! I very much enjoy living vicariously through this blog. I have no idea how and I don't really feel the need to know why she is always here, there, everywhere, and all over the world, but she shares massive posts that are heavy on the photographs and more often than not involve some seriously drool-worthy food porn! Rosie is tall and glamorous with a stunning body and an expensive wardrobe, but she's also goofy and uses terrible dad-jokes to end her blog posts. Reading her posts is more like reading a stylish travel guide, and I like starting my day with a bowl of soggy cereal whilst reading about her latest adventures!

Have you got any blog recommendations to share? I have so many more but I cherry picked my top five just for you. Anyone else's Bloglovin always crammed full...?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

MUST WATCH: The Night Manager

I'm interrupting my usual twice weekly schedule to tell you that you must find a way to watch The Night Manager (BBC). I should also preface this by saying that if you have it recorded as a series link on your Tivo box, make sure that you don't just leave the remote control on the chair arm, highlighting the last episode, as when someone sits down it might just get deleted. And then you might have to start shouting and panicking and frantically trying to find out how you can recover said last episode. You might also have to shout with joy when you discover that you can actually recover said episode and celebrate that you don't have to make an immediate order to Amazon Prime for it to arrive on DVD the next day. True story...

Anyway, final episode dramas aside, I have to tell you about how absolutely bloody brilliant this BBC series was. Edge of your seat, nail biting tension, genuine terror filled moments, which you will absolutely HAVE to keep on watching until you reach the concluding episode (when I started watching I had been growing my nails...I have no nails left now). 

In typical BBC style it's set in some stunning locations which might make you green with envy when you realise that actually, someone really owns that amazing house on the hilltop overlooking the ocean. 

The cast is absolutely bloody brilliant, and Hugh Laurie as Dickie Roper, the arch villain was a total revelation. Genuinely scary, there were a few times when I hid my head inside my jumper for fear of what might happen next. And can we just take some time to talk about Tom Hiddleston? Ah, Tom, you beautiful beautiful man. He's so god-damned chiselled you could probably sharpen knives on his cheekbones - of course he's the hero of the tale, and oh boy, does he play it well! Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander...all brilliant, and all made the series what it was. 

I honestly can't recommend this enough. Both Dave and I loved it and both said how absolutely brilliant it was when it was finished. I've just checked BBC iPlayer and sadly it's not showing on there at the moment, but the info page does give you some other options of where to find it. Try them all, honestly you'll thank me for it!  

Follow this link for all that info and to read about it in more detail >> The Night Manager

Monday, 2 May 2016

Breakfast-for-dinner potato mash'em up - a recipe

Perhaps it needs a snazzier title? But the title of the blog post definitely sums up this little recipe that I've recently invented. I have been enjoying it as breakfast-for-dinner and it's mash'em up as you can add in any added extras that you fancy, thus making it your very own version.

Things you will definitely need:
  • potatoes (these can be a few small ones or one big one)
  • oil (or butter if you're feeling extravagant)
  • eggs (1 or 2, depending on how your pantry is looking that day)
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper
I would suggest adding in the following but the mash'em up idea lets you go with your own style:
  • mushrooms
  • bacon/parma ham/facon (is that how you spell it?!)
  • baked beans (these are probably best served on the side rather than mixed it, but whatever you fancy, go mash it up!)
Instructions:
  1. In a smallish pan boil up some water ready for the potatoes
  2. Slice potatoes thinly (about 0.5 cm)
  3. Boil potatoes for about 8-10 minutes
  4. Check the potatoes are cooked and drain them ready to pop into the frying pan
  5. Heat up some oil (or butter) and chuck in your potatoes
  6. Add your salt and pepper seasoning and give them a good swirl around so that they are coated
  7. Sprinkle over a generous pinch of paprika (either normal or smoked will work)
  8. Add in any of your additional extras such as mushrooms and bacon at this point
  9. Swirl around until everything is starting to smell delicious and the potatoes are getting a little bit crispier
  10. It's time to add your eggs now. I've been cracking them directly over the pan and then scrambling that way but you can also whisk beforehand if you're a bit worried about shells etc.
  11. Using a wooden spoon or similar, give it all a good mix up until your eggs are scrambled, your potatoes are nicely crispy, and the optional extras are all ready to go
  12. Serve with either toast or a bagel
  13. ENJOY!
I don't have a photo to accompany this post as it's probably not the most photogenic recipe you may ever see, but it is incredibly tasty and I can highly recommend giving it a go! Let me know in the comments if you do, and feel free to suggest any alternatives as optional extras - I'm always open to new food suggestions!