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Showing posts with label adventures with dan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adventures with dan. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My winter pilgrimage

bokeh passports
brittany ferries porthole
rainy window ship
brittany ferries
cheese plate pont aven
cheese goodness brittany
ferry bar drinks
dan eats a biscuit
inside pont aven ferry
cabin selfie
cabin bed brittany ferries
boat breakfast pont aven

Every year we take a trip to my dad's place. He lives in Brittany, and although there are a lot of ways to get there, my absolute favourite is the overnight Brittany Ferries crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo. We get the same ferry almost every time - the Pont Aven - which is by far the best one in my opinion. I love the kitsch mix of patterned carpets, textured tiling and colourful seat designs, and the décor in general, but really I just love being able to get on the boat, dump all my luggage in the sleeping cabin, get dinner, go to the bar for a drink and then sleep through hours and hours of the crossing until morning, when I can get a cooked breakfast and watch the sun rise all blue and inky in the winter sky.
I have an entire set of traditions surrounding this boat journey - I always buy a little plate of cheeses with my meal even if I am completely full after eating the main course, and I also always get a packet of Prince biscuits (they're a bit like the chocolate BN biscuits if you remember those) to eat as a snack in the middle of the night in the cabin.
There's always some kind of cheesy entertainment going on in the bar, which is kind of magnificent against the bleak, blackness of the winter sea spray which pummels the boat as it sails through the night. Plus, the mojito in this bar is the cheapest and most lovingly made cocktail I think I've ever had. We usually sit in the bar for a bit and read or I write in my diary for a while, and then we head back to the cabin where I'll stick a film on my laptop and fall asleep.
I know the ferry isn't really the glamorous option, and some people are probably worried about getting sea sick or being uncomfortable, but while I can't speak for everyone, I've always found that I'm fine on this crossing. I pop a couple of travel-sickness tablets before the boat leaves, and this usually makes me drowsy enough to sleep by bedtime. The cabin is cosy and comes with its own toilet and shower, plus there's this ultra-soothing bagpipe music to wake you up just in time for breakfast in the morning. I have a huge amount of romance and nostalgia attached to Brittany Ferries, and to the Pont Aven boat in particular. For me it symbolises going to visit my dad, and it's also one of the highlights of winter for me, after my birthday!
I hope you enjoyed these photos - I got a brand new lens from Dan's parents for my birthday, so I've been having lots of fun playing around with it.

Monday, 12 January 2015

A creative year

winter brittany shutters

My time without the internet has been less traumatic than anticipated, if I'm honest. I had a chance to see my family, to recharge my batteries, and to think a lot about what I wanted from the next year of my life. I tend to get very existential towards the end of the year, what with my birthday and new year falling so close together. Plus, surrounded by the intense, frosty beauty of midwinter Brittany, I can't help but contemplate the world and my place in it.

I've got a lot planned for this year, and I'm going to share just a few of my ideas here, so you guys can hold me accountable, and then you get to look at some of the photos I took while I was visiting my Dad:

Food:

1. Make a new recipe we’ve never tried before, every single week.
2. Eat cheaply and healthily for the rest of the week.
3. Make lunch and take it to work.

Exercise:

1. Start Pilates – all of my doctors tell me I have to, so I should probably at least give it a go.
2. Go swimming with Dan every single week. Decide which day is best.
3. Attend these ‘back strengthening classes’ the hospital has decided to make me do. Eek!

Creativity:

1. Finish all of my currently unfinished poems (as of the beginning of the year).
2. Collect poems together into small book. Perhaps make it into a poetry zine of sorts and sell it? If not, think of something else to do with them.
3. Write at least three complete songs, and record demos of them.
4. Take a self portrait of me and Dan every single month. Be creative.
5. Buy a proper black fineliner, dig out my watercolours and watercolour paper to do some illustrations.
6. Make the picture-wall for our flat.

Blog-related stuff:

1. Work ahead with blog posts so I am not writing and publishing and photo editing all on one day.
2. Post at least twice a week.
4. Participate in all the networking bits and bobs! Make friends!

Being a functional human being:

1. Remember people’s birthdays and send them cards.
2. Actually collect all of my friends’ postal addresses into one single place. I think they call this an ‘address book’ but it’s been such a long time since I’ve had one that I can’t be sure.

Being magnificent:

1. Wear more glitter.
2. Bother to do my eyeliner more often.
3. Go on adventures, at home and on holiday.
4. Be kind to everyone (including myself).
5. Wear the best clothes.
6. Make time for self-care.
7. Work towards having a job I really love.

So, those are my main goals. I'm hoping that this year is a really meaningful one, with plenty of magic and lots of memories. Winter is always really tough for me, but I'm going to work hard to make it to spring and get a lot of important shizzle done. I feel like I've been out of the blogging loop for so long now - am I doing alright? How are you getting along with your new year goals so far?

frosty morning france
sea glass collection
nutella breakfast tea
winter boat party time
delicate silhouette sunset
moonbeams in winter

Monday, 17 November 2014

Owl Guy: Buying a flat!

Renovation ideas London

As Candy has previously mentioned we are currently at one of those big life landmarks, becoming homeowners. But before we get into all the fun posts about interior decorating I am going to talk about the joy of actually trying to buy a house, or at least our experience. Now a quick disclaimer, this is by no means a generalisation, merely how it went down for us.

We started looking for places about a year ago, it was pretty disheartening initially since we had wanted to try and find something near our flat in South London. However, we quickly realised that London house prices being what they are we had no hope of finding something nice. We started looking at other areas and while much of London is painfully expensive there are lots of nice areas that are much more reasonable. After putting in a few offers on various places and getting outbid we put in an offer on a little place by London City Airport, we really liked it, super cute and a really interesting location (great for Candy’s love of aeroplanes). After quite a nailbiting wait the bank approved our mortgage application and we thought everything was going to work out. Alas upon the bank valuing the property they decided it wasn’t worth as much as we had offered and so they wouldn’t give us as much money as we needed which meant that we couldn’t go ahead with the purchase. We were pretty devastated at the time and did a lot of “grieving”, but in hindsight it seems to have worked out for the best.

After that, getting back into the house hunting game was pretty hard. It is hard to psych yourself up about something after a disappointment like that, but we did and after a few weeks break we started looking again. Around the end of March I went to a viewing in a Victorian terrace conversion flat, it was in pretty bad condition, woodchip wallpaper and artex everywhere and the kitchen ceiling was falling down, but it felt like with a bit (or it turns out, A LOT) of work it could be really nice. I got Candy to come and take a look and she totally agreed (yay!). Anyway, then began negotiations… Now I won’t get into too much detail here but the lease on the flat was short (which in the business means less than 80 years apparently…) and so we agreed that we would buy the flat only if they extended the lease first (because otherwise the bank wouldn’t give us a mortgage… notice a recurring theme). The seller agreed and so we were all set, we got the mortgage approved and were expecting to complete by the end of June, but wait! The lease! It turns out extending a lease is a painfully frustrating legal process... Coupled with all the lawyers going on summer holidays, we didn’t actually get the lease sorted until the end of October! So finally, about 5 months of constant emails and phonecalls we had bought a house!

So now we are in the process of renovating it so we can move in, I won’t give away any of the interior decor, since that will be in other posts, but I will say that watching the transformation is incredible. So watch this space, we are hoping to move in by Christmas and it will be the best present after what has been a completely exhausting year!

"Owl Guy" is a (nearly) monthly series written by my husband Dan, in which he chats about what we've been up to recently!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Why do we think sunsets are pretty?

Brighton Skyline

Last Saturday, I took my husband to visit one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I've watched the sun set in so many different countries all around the world, and even so many places in Great Britain, and I am moved by every sunset I see - perhaps I am sentimental, but I can't think of a sunset that I find so profoundly sublime as the one you can see from Brighton beach.

We walked two and a half miles along the promenade, alongside the crashing waves and the salt-tumbled pebbles, as the sun dipped lower and lower in the sky, before sinking down just far enough to touch the horizon. We watched its final descent below the surface from a bench in front of a neat little row of beach huts which were bathed in the amber glow reflecting from the clouds as the sun descended.

This year has been one of the hardest so far - nothing has been certain, we've had to leave our home, and it has been deeply unsettling not to know what the immediate future holds, even though we do have each other. Looking at a sunset and letting one of the planet's most every day (literally) occurrences overwhelm me was more soothing than I could have ever expected. The sun sets every single day. It is beautiful. Every single day.

What does the sunset look like where you live? And why do you think humans seem to all agree universally that a sunset is pretty?

Sunlight dog
beach silhouettes
Sunset beach huts brighton
Sunset paradise UK

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Brighton Lights - A whirlwind trip back to my hometown

Modern Brighton Postcard

Brightonians (as we call ourselves) are notoriously filled to the brim with pride in our fantastic city. Yes, Brighton IS a city! I count myself so very lucky to have grown up in this wonderful place, and I'd love to bring my kids up here too. It's big enough that I could become street-wise, but small enough that I'd ALWAYS run into someone I knew when wandering around town, and it's sandwiched so beautifully between the seaside and the countryside. I've always loved Brighton but I've never appreciated it as much as I do now that I live in London. Much as I love the bustle of London, and the fact that you can pretty much get EVERYTHING here, there's nothing quite like the inclusive, friendly atmosphere of Brighton. Case in point: I received four compliments on my skirt in Brighton, and whilst I know my skirt is fabulous, I've never received an innocent compliment about my fashion choices in London!

Colourful houses Brighton
Chicwish Neon Lights Skirt Blog
Alleyway fashion shoot
Bokeh skirt blogger style

We decided to travel down to Brighton for the day on an absolute whim. I missed my hometown and if you've got a rail card and you go on the slow train, a day return from London only costs £6. We wandered around the shops, ate hearty donburis at Pompoko, a super cheap and cheerful Japanese place, wandered some more, and had an incredible vegetarian dinner at my favourite restaurant Terre à Terre. We had a tapas plate to share, and a sharing dessert too. Both were absolutely beautiful, complex and perfect. I've wanted to take Dan to Terre à Terre for years now, and I'm so glad we went.

terre a terre tapas review
terre a terre dessert menu

Bellies full, we waddled along the rapidly darkening seafront to the glowing lights of the pier, because Dan has never been to the pier at night. I had a great time playing with the light to make it match my skirt, and telling Dan all about all of the different memories I had of times I spent on this pier in my childhood and adolescence. We walked right to the end, looked out to sea and tasted the salt on our lips, before paying to ride the ghost train (which is actually quite scary since they've renovated it. It includes a really horrific zombie bathroom scene, and a severed head burning in an oven... Dark...)

Typical Brighton Sunset UK
The Palace Pier at Night
Bokeh Brighton Pier
Brighton Pier night fashion
Pier rides Brighton
Blurry lights effect
Merry go round fashion
sunset fashion brighton uk

Brighton is often portrayed as this pastel, saccharine seaside destination, all stripes and sticks of rock, and Mr Whippy ice creams with a flake stuck in at a jaunty angle. Yeah, we've got all of those things, and to the casual visitor it is probably easy to restrict your visit to these aspects of Brighton if you want to. But to me, Brighton is so much more than that. Brighton has a dark, grimy underbelly. It has a thriving arts scene and more youth music than you'd think possible. It's got restaurants and cafés for every taste, it's got countless creepy kebab places, it's got winding alleys, lanes and laines, boulevards, landmarks, local history, and so much character. This has been a love song to my favourite place. I miss you, Brighton, and I'll be back soon, I promise!

Skirt: Chicwish
Top: H&M Basics (it's actually a bodycon dress)
Shoes: Dr Martens

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Owl Guy: City breaks for couples

Romantic holiday New York

Hi, It’s Dan again! This time I am going to talk about holidays. You might have seen a few of Candy’s posts about holidays we have been on, and if so you might have noticed that we tend to go on a particular kind of holiday most of the time. Yup, city breaks! Now I do love to soak up the rays on the beach, but given our busy lives and thus limited time we want to pack as much “doing stuff” into our holidays which means that we inevitably end up going on city breaks.

Seoul Night Lights
Couple in Norway
Oslo Tram Guide tourism
Western Couple in Korea
Parasol or Umbrella Seoul
Shibuya Guide Starbucks

Going to a new city as a couple is great, you get to share all of the new exciting things with someone but there aren’t so many people on the holiday that you all want to do different things. (For group holidays I would totally recommend skiing!) Going to a new city is such a great way to immerse yourself in a new culture, there are always so much to explore! Our favourite way of exploring a city is walking, most cities, when you get down to it aren’t really that big, even London or New York! and walking lets you get a real feel for the atmosphere and take in some of the more obvious sights (how better to look at Korean palaces, downtown New York or the Tokyo tower?). If you do have a long way to go public transport is also great, not only is it usually pretty cheap but you get to feel like a local, just for a few moments! Obviously all that walking has to end somewhere, we usually try to fit in a few local museums and galleries, a good bit of shopping and of course, most importantly lots of restaurants! I mean I’m pretty sure it is a saying that “The best way to get to know somewhere is by its food!” Speaking of museums, everywhere has some totally unique ones and it is great fun to explore them. Oslo has the Fram museum (it has a giant boat in it!) which Candy blogged about, Tokyo has a museum for basically anything you can think of and Venice has a fascinating little museum about the local Jewish population!

Venice sunset scene
Budapest twilight

If you have a little bit of extra time it can be really fun to make a little day trip or two out into the countryside (or another city, whatever floats your boat). We did this during our honeymoon in Tokyo, we made 2 day trips, getting the shinkansen (bullet train) out first to the Tokogawa shrine and then to Aokigahara forest where we got caught in a thunderstorm in a the forest on a mountain and thought we would never make it home!
Finally, one of my favourite things about going on city breaks as a couple is that you get to experience all of these awesome things with someone that you love and spend some time together totally away from all the stresses and anxieties of life! So what kind of holidays do you guys like, and do you usually go with family, as a couple, with friends or as a solo adventurer?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Owl Guy: A new guest post segment by Dan!

Hello, I’m Dan, Candy’s husband and I am going to be doing occasional guest posts on here to give you a slightly different insight into some of the stuff we get up to. For my first post I am going to talk about reading.

couple reading in bed

I really love reading, and I used to read quite a lot. However, as a working adult it is pretty hard to find time to do all of the things you want to do and reading was one of the first ones of these that fell away, quickly condemned to the “not enough time” pile. Fortunately this story has a happy ending. Both Candy and I were sad that we couldn’t seem to find the time to read until we came upon a great solution. In our respective childhoods we used to read a lot in bed, before going to sleep. This stopped for both of us initially due to working late during university and subsequently because browsing the web on our smartphones in bed was just so easy. We made a couple of resolutions to have a little reading slot before bed, but the instant gratification from browsing the internet usually ruined these resolutions pretty quickly. Finally however we came upon a great solution, we could read out loud to each other. This solved the problem of distractions as well being a really fun “couple activity”.

Wise Children in bed

Initially we tried alternating who read each night but it felt a bit disjointed so now we alternate by book, the person whose turn it is to read gets to choose the book. Currently Candy is reading one of her favourite books to me, Wise Children by Angela Carter. I’ve been really enjoying it, Angela Carter’s descriptive flair is mesmerising and her characters feel so alive, helped, of course by Candy’s narration. Once we’ve finished that one, I’m going to read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides out loud to her, which neither of us have read but it looks really good.

This is Dan’s first guest post on my blog, so please show him a bit of love in the comments. Not too much love though - I’ll be watching you.