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Wedding Anniversary Mini-Break

We made a conscious decision to spend as much time as possible together after Mr H-L was ill a few years ago, and going away for our wedding anniversary every year is part of that. This year, we chose to stay in England and booked Wilton Court in Ross-On-Wye, close to the Welsh border, a five star Elizabethan hotel dating from 1500.


Being a good husband, Mr H-L insisted on the best room, so this was our bedroom for three nights. All low beams and creaky floorboards, it was lovely and cosy and very hard to force yourself out of bed in the mornings – good job breakfast was served until 10am!


Situated right on the banks of the River Wye, the views from our room were breathtaking. Watching a pair of swans fly in and glide on to the water in absolute synchronisation was a treat. That’s out hotel, just right of centre.


A bit of a grainy mirror selfie on our first night, but you get the idea. We made it even more special by dressing up to the nines every night for dinner – I actually took three different frocks so I didn’t have to wear the same one twice!


Suffice to say that the food was incredible – here are a couple of the starters, just two of the many dishes we devoured over the course of three days.


Venison and Black Pudding Scotch Eggs – wow!


Mr H-L’s shirt matched the flowers at breakfast the next morning.


We decided to leave the car at the hotel and explore on foot after breakfast. It was just a twenty minute walk into Ross-on-Wye and, luckily, the rain held off all day for us.

This notice made me laugh – not much of a display to boast about at the moment as the flowerbeds were totally empty!


How’s this for a tiny front garden to make you look twice? Pink cushions and matching pink gravel.


There is lots of interesting architecture in Ross, if that floats your boat like it does mine. All fascinating stuff – and this pub had a huge piece of art outside the front in the form of a fish sculpture.


No, not the crumbling walls of ancient city walls at all – this was built in the 19th century to look like ruins!


If you like browsing through antique and vintage shops, you’d love the ones in Ross. ‘Elizabethan House Antiques’ was the perfect building in which to house antiques, being over 500 years old itself.

Yep, that’s me about to go inside as the Mister quickly hides his wallet.


On the first floor, the floors and walls were all over the place. Can you see how the window is leaning out? It’s not just the camera making it look that wonky – it really does lean that far from upright.


A glass of fizz and a prawn cocktail at ‘The Royal‘ was all we dared eat for lunch, knowing that we would be having three courses for supper.

Relaxing in the library back at the hotel. It’s a small room with not much natural light, but doesn’t the black make it feel cosy as opposed to gloomy?


Champagne and canapés before dinner. Well, there were canapés, but we’d eaten them at this point!


The following day Mr H-L drove us forty minutes to the other side of the county to visit the Chase Distillery as he’s a fan of their gins and vodkas. It was a Sunday and he hadn’t rung to see if they were open. 

They weren’t.

So we headed to Hay-on-Wye instead, a town we’d been planning on visiting anyway. Of course, we had to sample the cider and fizz in a local pub, as well as the pork scratchings!

As we’d saved ourselves for dinner again by not having lunch, we were ready to demolish all that was laid in front of us that evening, including these five local cheeses.


A record, even for us, to each have five different drinks on the go at the same time!!


Heading back on Bank Holiday Monday, we took the scenic route following the River Wye and stopped to explore Tintern Castle, which is actually ancient monastic ruins dating from around 1100.

In order to delay going home for as long as possible, we picked The Boys up and took them out for lunch with the family.

The Boys recently decided that they’d like suits “Like Daddy’s” – how cute?!


This was just a starter!!


No, I’m not bored of champagne yet:)


Finally, it was back to normality on Tuesday…….but just for a day!

Our actual wedding anniversary was on Wednesday, so Mr H-L insisted on taking me out to Holbrook House for lunch on the day itself.

My red dress has been out a lot this past week.


More amazing food and a wonderful way to end a fantastic few days.


Or so I thought, until we got back home to find these on the doorstep.



I assumed they were from the husband, but it turns out he was as surprised as me to see them sitting there.

On reading the card, we found out that they were sent by the jewellers from which my darling hubby had bought me an incredible anniversary present.

If you love watches, then you’ll know what was inside this iconic green box.


I’m one lucky lady, that’s for sure!!


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Anniversary in Amsterdam

Two years ago on May 3rd I married Mr H-L, on the tenth anniversary of our first date.

After twelve years, I still get butterflies in my tummy when I see him:)

Wedding

We decided there and then that we would celebrate every wedding anniversary in style and go away on our own – life after The Big C is very precious and each anniversary is a bonus.

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Life before The Boys included the odd city break to Barcelona, Venice, Bruges and the like so, for our first anniversary we went to Geneva – this year we chose Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands, often mistakenly referred to as Holland. Watch this brilliantly amusing clip to find out why https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE_IUPInEuc

We swear by the DK ‘Eyewitness’ Travel Guides – they’re perfect for us as we want to pack in as much culture as is humanly possible in three days!

DK book

Getting there couldn’t be simpler – trains leave from Schiphol airport and go direct to the centre of Amsterdam from where our hotel was just a short walk.

Amsterdam Centraal Station is a pretty fine piece of architecture itself and looks especially lovely lit up at night.

station

After checking in at 10pm, we went exploring…..

canal by night

….and sat outside a bar overlooking a canal with a pint of the local beer.

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Saturday was spent doing the sights.

Anne Frank's Huis

canal view

Another beer and a spot of lunch in between sightseeing.

bar

No prizes for guessing where we are in this photo – the completely wonderful Van Gogh museum in which we immersed ourselves for the entire afternoon.

Van Gogh

We discovered an amazing Tapas Bar down a side street, met a lovely Dutch couple and ended up staying until nearly midnight eating, drinking and chatting.

Tapas

Sunday saw a turn in the weather, but it didn’t stop us walking the suggested canal route in the DK book, the pages of which were soaked through by the end.

The walk took us past many notable buildings and we also took a slight detour to a museum that the guide recommended.

The house in the centre of the photo below was left to the city in the will of it’s last owner in about 1890, on condition that it was opened to the public as a museum – the Willet-Holthuysen museum.

museum

Two of the floors are left exactly as they were, the lower ground floor was reconstructed to the same period and the top floor displays all her art.

It’s well worth a visit as it shows how the Merchants typically lived at that time. It also gives you an idea of what all the other houses would have looked before over a hundred years of constant modernising took it’s toll and saw them chopped up into offices and flats.

merchant's house

More beer in a bid to shelter from the rain…..

beer

….which led to emergency use of the (very) public facilities!

loo

The same night was our actual anniversary and my lovely husband booked an evening canal cruise inclusive of five courses and as much prosecco and wine that you could drink!

Unfortunately, even a newly purchased dutch umbrella couldn’t stop the damp air making frizz out of my hair:(

cruise

The food was spectacular – have you ever heard of Broccoli Panna Cotta with Piccallilli?!

Cruise food

Amsterdam must be a romantic hot-spot because, aside from the usual Hen parties and Stag groups, we witnessed a proposal on our dinner cruise…..

proposal

….and a newly married couple being whisked away by tuk-tuk, complete with tins trailing along noisily behind.

wedding tuk tuk

Monday saw us taking the obligatory trip out to the bulb fields to see the tulips. Altogether now – “When it’s Spring again, I’ll bring again, Tulips from Amsterdam”.

tulip fields

bulbfields

Keukenhof was the destination though, a 70 acre wooded park about half an hour from the city, which only opens for eight weeks of the year whilst the tulips are in bloom. How lucky were we that it coincided with our trip!

pinks

purples

vista

These flower ‘beds’ made me smile.

flower beds

windmill

2015 marks 125 years since the death of Van Gogh and Keukenhof planted an incredible floral tribute.

Van Gogh floral

The blossom on the cherry trees was magnificent and reminded me of his painting “Almond Blossom”.

almond blossom

On the walk back from the tour bus to collect our suitcases we spotted those fatal words “Seafood Bar”, an unassuming place hiding behind row upon row of bicycles.

(Did I mention the 22,000,000,000 bikes for the Dutch population of 17,000,000,000?!)

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There was no way we were ever going to walk by and not go in!

Seafood

Just look at his face and the anticipation of dripping all that lobster sauce down the paper bibs they give you.

Bruce

Champagne and Mixed Grill – the perfect end to a perfect wedding anniversary.

Now, where shall we go next year?


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Rooster inspired Hen Tea Cosy

We keep hens.

That is to say, when my husband moved down to Somerset from London he made the typical Escape To The Country statement “I-want-to-keep-chickens-and-grow-a-vegetable-patch”.

As a born and bred Somerset lass, the novelty (if there ever was one) of such things has long since waned.  Don’t get me wrong, we loved picking and eating our own home-grown veg, after all, nothing really beats a freshly picked carrot eaten straight from the (pesticide free) soil. As children we even used to set up a stall on the front lawn to sell the surplus to our neighbours down the road.

It’s the laborious journey to this bountiful harvest that I don’t miss, mainly the never-ending removal of waist-high weeds that myself and my three siblings seemed to be constantly battling with. The stinging nettles and thistles fought us every step of the way, not to mention the dreaded slug of which I have almost a phobia (“Limaxaphobia”, apparently).  I had visions of my husband doing the ‘nice’ bits ie. planting and picking, and I would probably be the one left with all the rubbish jobs as he works long hours.

So no vegetable patch.

But what about chickens?

Long story short, I relented and surprised hubby with a build-your-own chicken coop for his birthday a couple of years ago. He’s a blokey type of bloke and enjoyed building the coop and run so much that I nearly didn’t bother with the hens, but Christmas was only three weeks later so present shopping was easy that year.

We started with six hens, two of which quickly became broody and prompted the donation of some fertilized eggs from a farmer friend for them to sit on. Twenty-one days later we had three black chicks which turned out to be two hens and a cockerel.

And what a handsome beast he is! We gave him the unimaginative but obvious name “Cock” and he definitely rules the roost among his harem of girls.

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I now thoroughly adore all nine birds and could watch them pecking their way round the garden all day long.

Watching them peck for worms and other tasty titbits reminded me that I had some fabric remnants from a roman blind in my son’s bedroom called “Rooster” by Clarke & Clarke – here’s what I made with it: –

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Photos of the hens will be sure to ‘wing’ their way onto these pages before very long and will no doubt inspire some more hen creativity in one form or other.

For those who would like to make a similar tea cosy, a tutorial is on it’s way shortly so “follow” the blog to make sure sure you don’t miss out!


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First Wedding Anniversary!

Hubby and I have just returned from a lovely city break in Geneva for our first wedding anniversary. Four days of sight-seeing, sampling the (VERY expensive) Swiss cuisine and relaxing in general, we are now refreshed and glad to be home again – not.

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Seriously though, I did enjoy being pampered away from the six children, two dogs, eight hens and an extremely vocal cockerel, but am now thoroughly revitalized and itching to get creating once more.

I. Love. Flowers.

Flicking through our holiday snaps, I noticed a disproportionate number of flower pics, some also featuring yours truly; here are a couple of examples: –

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I crocheted a basket a few weeks ago and was not quite happy with it, but not sure what it needed to finish it off. The seam was not exactly invisible and kept jumping out at me so something had to be done and, whilst admiring the Genevan (is that even a word?) floral displays, I thought “flowers”. So that’s what I did. Results to follow:)