Saturday, 30 July 2011

Week #30 of my NEW52 life ...

Not one ... not two ... but three NEW things to share this week!

Firstly, I discovered this quaint little gift shop today ...

Isn't it charming? I've lived in this town for 18 years now and never realised this shop was only just a mile or so from my front door. It's right next door to a farm shop that sells locally grown produce and where you can PYO (pick your own) fruit, and whilst the produce selection wasn't that great when I visited, I was pleasantly surprised to find this little treasure trove of a gift shop. I'll definitely be going there again!

Secondly, I made linguine carbonara for the first time ...

This super speedy recipe was ready within just 15 minutes and made for a wonderfully tasty lunch, and as the weather was good, we decided to eat al fresco and enjoyed it with a glass of chilled white wine ...

Thirdly and lastly, did you know today is National Cheesecake Day in the USA? And although I don't live there, I couldn't resist the temptation, so I thought I'd try my hand at a recipe taken from Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy cook book ...

This is a non-bake cheesecake dessert made with a Digestive biscuit base, mascarpone and double cream filling, drizzled with dark chocolate sauce and fresh tart raspberries ... delicious!!!

All in all, it's been a very tasty week for me and I now have two more easy peasey recipes added to my repertoire. Love that!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Week #29 of my NEW52 life ...

The more observant amongst you, my lovely blog readers, will no doubt have already noticed that weeks 26, 27 & 28 appear to be missing. Well, yes they are, but no they're not. Confused? "Yes" in as much as they're not published and "no" in as much as absolutely nothing new happened at all during those weeks. I'm not kidding you ... no new recipes, no new purchases, no new adventures ... no new anything!!!

But instead of feeling guilty and beating myself up over this, I decided that life goes on, as do the weeks. So I've decided to skip straight over to week #29 ... and here's my NEW52 for last week ...

Very yummy HOME MADE(!) mini chocolate eclairs ... and even if I say so myself, they look pretty good don't they?

They tasted even better ;-)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Week #25 of my NEW52 life ...

Hhhhhmmmmm ... let me think, what NEW52 thing happened in week #25? Oh yeah, I remember ... I joined a new age decade!

And so far, I'm happy to report that being 40 doesn't feel any different from being 30 or even 20 for that matter! So to anyone reading this post who may be worried about turning the "big 4-O", I say remember this ... age is only a number and whilst growing older is mandatory, growing up is most definitely optional.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Week #24 of my NEW52 life ...

Week 24's NEW52 post is actually more to do with my brother than me ... but heck, seeing as he lives in the same house as me, it all counts ... right?!?!?

My brother is 2yrs 8months older than me [insert mental image here]. He's a quiet chap who pretty much keeps himself to himself. He likes his own company and isn't much for socialising. He'll admit it himself, he's a bit lazy and would prefer to sleep all day and stay up all night ... we joke that his ideal job would be as a professional game player for World of Warcraft [insert updated mental image here].

He's not had the best of luck, but than again some might say you make your own luck in this life. He's been laid off a couple of times, most recently when the company he worked for went into administration and had to get rid of all its employees, my brother included. Now I say recently, but in fact, that was back in October 2007 ... just as the global financial crisis was beginning to take effect here in the UK. Suffice to say, being out of work at that time was tough ... any job advertised was inundated with applicants and getting an interview was really challenging. Where we live is next to a large business park and unemployment had never never really been an issue, but even this area was hit hard during the worst time of the crisis.

Anyhoo, roll forward 3yrs 8months and finally, after LOTS of applications and LOTS of rejections, by dear brother has finally got himself a new job!!! Woo-hoo ... and I couldn't be happier for him.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Week #23 of my NEW52 life ...

Do you keep ticket stubs? You know, boarding card stubs, train stubs, cinema stubs, dry-cleaning stubs? OK, not dry-cleaning ticket stubs perhaps, but all of those other bits of paper you have let over whenever you've travelled somewhere?

I do. I have LOTS of them and DH thinks I'm slightly bonkers for keeping all these little bits of paper with "meaningless gibberish written on them". Ah, but that's where's he's wrong, isn't he? Ask any scrapbooker if they keep ticket stubs and I bet the answer will be "Yes!" ... after all they're not meaningless bits of paper, they are in fact memory makers, thought provokers and reminders of days that might otherwise be forgotten.

Even though I've more-or-less completely converted to digital scrapping now, I still retain all my ticket stubs, but I no longer regularly create pages in which to incorporate them. Instead, they languish, seemingly unloved in drawers, boxes and suitcases. Each time I bring the case down from the attic in preparation for another journey, I say to myself that I'll collect everything together in one place, in a journal, so that on cold rainy day, I can read through it and remind myself of warmer, sunnier, more exotic distant lands. A journal with pages to write about my travels and with little pockets to hold all my ticket stubs together ... a travel journal no less, like this ...

And so my journey down memory lane begins ... the dates, the places, the hotels, the journey, the sights, the sounds, the smells ... all to be recorded in my new travel journal ...

With all the little ticket stubs safely stored alongside the memories themselves ...

Now why didn't I think of this years ago?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Want to see more?


Wedding, a set on Flickr.

By popular demand, I've uploaded 50 of my favourite images of Jemma & Ian's wedding day to Flickr. These are all SOOC images as I haven't had the time to run any kind of processing on them yet. Feel free to take a peak.

Week #22 of my NEW52 life ...

Now-a-days I seem to start every post with an apology ... and this one's no different. I said I would post about week #22 a couple of weekends ago, but I never did ... sorry! Just when I think I'm getting caught up on posting, something else creeps up and demands my attention. With that said, let me cast my mind back a few weeks and share with you what was probably the most NEW52 things I've ever experienced in one week!!! This is going to be a LONG post, so go grab yourself a tea / coffee and get comfy before you start reading.

Week #22 began with a bank holiday here in the UK, but rather than relaxing and enjoying the extra day off work, DH and I were running around like headless chickens, whilst we tried to get organised for our trip to Tuscany. Our flight was due to leave Gatwick at 10:55am the following morning and knowing that we'd need to check in at least 1hr before departure and that driving to the airport would take around 1.5hrs, we figured it made sense to book into a B&B (near the airport) the evening before. The B&B was nice enough, though it was located on a busy road with traffic lights right by our room, which meant there was constant noise from idling vehicle engines ... not great!

The first of this weeks new experiences came when we arrived at the airport. We'd bought our flight tickets online (via so didn't have an actual ticket, just a print out with a booking reference. We went to the British Airways check-in zone and were greeted by a row of self service check-in screens. Now, we consider ourselves as fairly frequent travellers, but this was the first time we'd ever had to check ourselves onto a flight ... eeekkkk!!! Thankfully though, it was really easy! It was just a case of keying in a code, scanning our passports and confirming luggage numbers. I don't know about you, but I always think holidays begin the minute your luggage is checked in ... our trip, albeit short, had begun. Bring on the planes, trains and automobiles.

The flight to Pisa took less than 2hrs and we were soon through customs and let loose in Italy ... for the first time!

Usually when we go on holiday, we book a "package" deal where flights, transfers and accommodation are all included in the price. Our trip to Tuscany was different though because everything was organised separately. We'd have to make our own way from the airport at Pisa, to San Gimignano where we were staying ... eeekkk!! Thankfully a friend had given us great advise / instructions on how to get there.

Train timetables in Italy were surprisingly easy to understand. The closest train station to San Gimignano is at Poggibonsi (btw, isn't that just a great sounding name?!?!?) and to get there meant we needed to change trains a couple of times. Firstly we got an express from Pisa Aeroporto to Pisa Centrale, then we got a connecting local commuter train to Empoli and finally another train through to Poggibonsi. It was on the last train that we met up with some fellow British travellers and when asked where they we travelling to, we found out they were actually guests at the same wedding we were attending!!!

By the time we finally arrived at Poggibonsi, it was after 5pm and we were shattered! We were due to catch the local bus to take us to San Gimignano, but the thought of another hour of travelling really didn't appeal, so we grabbed a taxi instead and booked into our hotel a very swift 15 minutes later.

Pre-Wedding Celebrations
No sooner had we arrived, than we were heading out the hotel door to meet up with friends (+ the Brits we'd met on the train) for a pre-wedding dinner. Members of the main bridal party were all staying at a farmhouse approximately 2miles from San Gimignano, and had invited everyone for a meal the evening before the wedding. It was a chance for people to get to know each other before the big day itself, a chance for the two families to meet and mingle and have a glass of two of wine!

The Big Day
It was like a scene from a fairytale wedding with a white carpet leading towards the assembled guests and officiating dignitaries. The groom looked a little nervous as he glanced over his shoulder and caught the first fleeting glimpse his beautiful bride.

The weather was perfect, the sun shone throughout the ceremony and a refreshing breeze kept the temperatures comfortable for everyone that was dressed up to the nines!

Post-Wedding Recovery
We'd planned to head back into San Gimignano the day after the wedding but instead, friends invited us over to the farmhouse for lunch on the patio, under the Tuscan sun. Or at least that was the original idea. The weather, however, had other plans. It rained. A lot. But this didn't dampen our spirits because instead on sitting outside, we sat indoors, ate delicious cured ham with melon and drank tasty wine, made from the grapes grown on the vines outside the very farmhouse we sat in, all the while we listened as Dave (playing his guitar) & John (serenading Paula) entertained us. Bliss.

Homeward Bound
But all too soon, our time in Tuscany was over. So with wonderful memories and 700+ photos, we packed our bags and headed home. Automobiles, trains and planes.

After you've been away, do you have a view / a building / a land-mark that as soon as you see it, you say to yourself "I'm almost home"? We do and this is ours ...

As you can see, it's not a scenic view, or an historic building or even a beautiful land-mark. In fact, it's a bit of an eyesore ... it's the cooling towers from Didcot power station ... however whenever we see them, we know we're nearly home.