Saturday 30 November 2019

Christmas market sandwich!

Well I've been lucky enough to sandwich this week with visits to two lovely Christmas markets. The first, last weekend, with my sister in Exeter. Unfortunately it rained but it was lovely spending some quality time together, just the two of us.

I actually got my Christmas cards written. Had a rare day off in the week with nothing planned, so settled down, plenty of coffee on tap and got them written.

Then yesterday (Friday) I was up and out early to go to the Christmas Markets in Bath. I don't think I went last year, so it was nice this year to visit again, plus they were laid out across the city, so much more appealing. Although I will say, despite my very early start, they were super busy from the go!

This was my fave shed, treated myself to a few of the small metal stars in the front of the pic. Picked up my pud too from another stall. I had one two years ago and it was delicious.

I spent the morning mooching on my own, then met up with Sophie who got the train from Reading, a very lovely addition to my day and she managed to catch an earlier train too x

All the shops were looking super festive (Anthropology)

Heaps of tempting festive treats about....

...I was good and went for the decorative variety.

Christmas tunes on street corners to enjoy!

But look at the crowds!!! This is a pic from the Internet from today, 
absolutely heaving!!!

In the evening we met up with my sister and niece for tea, possibly the only chance now to get together before actual Christmas.

A chance to celebrate Sophie's recent Job news too x

The tree by the Abbey looked wonderful, we said our goodbyes then....

.... Sophie and I headed off to the bottom of town for the real reason we were meeting up to see 
Love Actually with a live orchestra at the Forum in Bath. 
It was fantastic, goosebumps in the first five minutes. The perfect way to end a lovely day and start off the Christmas festivities.

I waited until this morning to take stock of what I'd bought. Had a bonus treat of having Sophie at home until I dropped her back at the station late afternoon, to head back to Reading. She's only 2 weeks left before she's home properly for Christmas, can't wait x

A truly lovely weekend x

Thursday 21 November 2019

Time to come clean....

Time to come clean......

....I didn't spend my birthday doing anything lovely.
 I spent my birthday driving up to Newport in the pouring rain....

....sitting in bay 4 of a car park, for 2 hours.....

....whilst this one had an interview..... the Office of National Statistics.

Basically since September, Sophie has been applying for Placement Year jobs, in preparation for a Year in Industry in her third year. Her dream placement was to apply to the GES (Government Economic Service) and be placed at the ONS (Office of National Statistics) Firstly it's really hard to get through the application process and secondly to go through to the interview stage. So just by getting through the door was a huge achievement, as they place you where they think you best fit. Her friend had an interview at the Foreign Office, as she's doing a BA Economics degree. 

Then on Wednesday she had an interview with the Bank of England, again wow! what an achievement to get an interview and get inside the building!!! Just to get that far, she'd had to apply, get through to psychometric testing, then do a video interview, followed by the offer of a physical interview after completing a 90 min maths test.

I wrote this blog post 2 years ago, when we went to London on her 18th birthday. Dreams really can come true. Now she won't hear from the Bank of England for 3 weeks, as she was in the first round of interviews and they interview 100 students for 25 jobs but that is now irrelevant as.....

....she got offered a job at the ONS today!!!!!!

Soooooo very proud.
She has worked really hard juggling her Year 2 studies, whilst applying for placement positions. We are so proud and happy for her. We chose Reading University for the Placement Year opportunities and the invaluable support they give the students and I can't thank them enough for all the advice, mock interviews, CV critique, tips etc they have given her. This Placement Year will give her so many opportunities and invaluable experiences to help her get a job once she completes her degree. 

What a day!

And her friend got offered the job at the Foreign Office too!
I hope they'll both be out celebrating together tonight, they deserve it x

Saturday 16 November 2019

Another year older....

Another year older...... the last of my forties!!

And keeping up with tradition, a celebratory mince pie. 
Always the first of the year, on my birthday, instead of cake, as know one makes me a cake and I try and put off starting to eat mince pies any earlier.

Not many gifts as you can see but I no longer want/need things! I'd rather spend our money on going places, live music, travelling together. That said Jeff did find the larger 'spotty bottle' we saw on holiday, that's us sorted now for Christmas and Sophie had obviously noted my liking for the bowl and platter I'd seen in Vinegar Hill, gifted both by her and Sam. My Mum and Dad sent flowers and money and Jeff's sister popped round with a bunch of flowers too, so thoroughly spoilt. My sister included a Lonely Planet guide to Florence in her gifts, so I can start planning our little adventure. 

As you can see our 'travel, go see things, live music, travel' is in full swing. We've already got tickets to see McFLY, supported by Scouting for Girls at the Bath Festival in May. Then my sister and I have our few days away in Florence. The boys are off to Glastonbury Festival, Sam to the whole thing, Jeff just on the Sunday. Our family holiday is booked, a week in sunny Pollensa to look forward to. Sophie and I are off to see Heathers when it tours in August and Jeff got tickets for us to see Deacon Blue on my actual 50th birthday in Plymouth, for November next year. Big birthdays next year - Sam's 18th, Sophie's 21st and my 50th, so a few potential trips away in the mix there too. 2020 is shaping up to be a good year, best get doing lots of overtime to pay for it all!!

It's all worth in though. Last Friday Jeff and I went to see OMD at the Bath Pavilion. They were celebrating their 40th Anniversary tour and they were brilliant, so much energy and track after track of nostalgia and brilliance, worth every penny x

Growing old with this one isn't so bad xx
We've lots to look forward to x

Thursday 7 November 2019

Bonus time x

Pinch and a punch...... (bit late!!)

What a whirlwind of a week and busy start to the month of November! No sooner had we got back from Girona, I was at the station picking up Sophie from the train station. 

It's 'reading week' so unlike last year, where she stayed in Reading, this year she decided to come home, which meant we got to celebrate her birthday with her too.

Never too old for cake but how is she 20!!!!?
Where have those years gone?

We spent her actual birthday at home (I'd taken a couple of days off work), popping into town for lunch and a mooch around the shops but then spent Tuesday in Exeter, our first visit and we were pleasantly surprised.

Bonus treat lunch in the HUB, it is part of the same small chain, as the one we go to in St Ives.

Sophie got new shoes ready for interviews and a birthday pair of boots! We had a lovely look around and noticed the Christmas market sheds going up, so I will definitely be returning for that, as it's just an hour down the motorway and super easy to park. 

We had a good look around John Lewis and I found my Christmas wrap additions for this year, plus a few other christmassy bits. 

I've also found this years Christmas jumper, the top candy cane one was actually from TU at Sainsbury's and the grey spotty one is from NEXT (it has a tinsel trim around the neck, cuffs and spots!). As soon as Halloween is over, I like to start getting organised, then once my birthday has come and gone mid November, I'm in full on Christmas mode x

Friday 1 November 2019


Jeff and I have just returned from a little trip away, just the two of us, haven't been away just the two of us in 20+ years! We flew out of Bristol on Monday evening to Girona in Spain, via Ryanair and it was just the best idea. Jeff saw flights for £55 return back in August, tying in with half term week too, what's the catch, there always is with Ryanair!?!. We also found a hotel for £160 for 3 nights, so just decided it was meant to be and go for it! It did mean leaving Sam home alone and trusting that he wouldn't throw a party (thankfully he didn't) but you have to trust them at some point!

Day One

Girona was/is a fabulous city. Never really on my radar as a 'must see destination' but I had recently researched it as an airport close to the Costa Brava, for a potential summer holiday spot! It is a great place to spend a few days. You have the old town one side of the river Onyar and the train and bus station on the other, near the Parc de la Devesa. It was actually a Bank Holiday, Festival week there too, so lots of extra things going on.

 In the old town there is an impressive Cathedral, numerous old cobbled, stepped streets and an old city wall that runs along the back of the city. After breakfast and watching the festival parade start at the steps of the Cathedral, we walked all the way along the walls, taking in the gorgeous Spanish sunshine and spectacular views of Girona.

We then found the Les Lletres sculpture en route to the bus station. I love large sculptural pieces of artwork found in unexpected places. We found the bus station ready for the following day, then decided as we were on the far side of the river, we would continue on and walk back through the park, take in the autumn views. 

Due to the Bank Holiday it was home to a large Expo Show and fun fair. We still found a clear area to walk through, found some food stalls to buy lunch and had a picnic on the edge of the park, before crossing back into the old town.

Although we missed the full parade earlier in the morning, we did catch the locals doing traditional Catalan dancing in the square in the early evening, with a live band. Loved it!

The old town was just as beautiful at night and although we wore our coats in the evening, it was so lovely to enjoy the milder weather.

 Day Two!

We decided to bus it to the coast on our second day. I had researched this area as a potential holiday spot, so we thought as we were so close we'd check it out, plus the weather was beach weather! We got a local bus to Parafrugell, about an hour away and we had time for a coffee and little explore there, before catching another bus to Calella de Parafrugell.

What a beautiful place and because it was Autumn, a real treat to be beside the sea, in late October, in warm sunshine. We walked right along the sea edge, looking back across the bay. All the little bays were super accessible, perfect for a summer holiday spot.

Jeff went for a dip, me just a paddle, it was such a treat.

It was a lot quieter than I imagine it would be during the summer season, things were definitely winding down but the few restaurants along the seafront that were open, were busy and it was the most perfect spot for lunch. 

Due to the restricted buses running on the out of season timetable, we got an earlier bus than initially planned, heading back to Girona for the evening and a meal out in the Placa de la Independencia, enjoying a beer and the best pizza I have tasted in a very long time.

Day Three

Our final morning and a cloudy day with rain forecast for later. We decided to head back in to the old town and after breakfast do a little 'Game of Thrones' scene spotting! I've not watched any of the series but Jeff is a fan and could recognise some of the locations used in the film. 

We also walked along the last bit of the wall, on the far side of the city and we are so glad we did, being rewarded with fabulous views of the Cathedral and the old city.

We crossed the Pont de Les Peixateries Velles bridge and enjoyed more views of the Cathedral and colourful buildings along the river.

After a bite to eat, a few provisions bought for tea, we checked out of our hotel, made our way across town to the bus station, before it started to rain! to get the bus back to the airport. All so very easy.

We have both had the best few days, was just the tonic. Until you actually go away and do something like this, you don't realise how much you actually need it. We intend to do this more often, just a couple of days away, definitely in the October half term break but possibly in the Easter or May half term weeks too. Doesn't have to be far, doesn't have to be expensive, just a couple of days somewhere different, preferably a little warmer than back home but a mini break, just the two of us 'somewhere'.

I'm lucky I have my trip to Florence with my sister in May to look forward to, to celebrate our 50th's! We then have our family Summer holiday booked, I have booked a couple of days off early September, to go 'somewhere' with Sam, equivalent to my trip to Paris with Sophie this year. We then will be going to Barcelona hopefully in October, for my actual 50th. So next year is pretty much sorted as February half term and Easter are off limits due to Sam revising for his A Levels. 
I WILL have to be home then to nag him for sure!!!

Another reason for going away is to 'do' things rather than 'buy' things as we don't need anymore 'stuff''! BUT I could not come home without these spotty bottles. We bought the large one in Girona, full of sparkling white wine but 'spotted' the small one at the airport in Duty Free. 
A lovely little momento  of our time in the fabulous city of Girona x