Monday, 20 October 2014

The Best Christmas Present EVER!

You might be think I'm a bit keen posting about Christmas in October, but there's only 65 days until the best day of the year and I'm super excited. Who doesn't love being able to wear your PJs all day, eating your own body weight in chocolate, drinking Baileys until your wobbly and watching The Muppet Christmas Carol?

I've been reminiscing about my favourite holiday periods spent with my family, the year I got my Barbie house was pretty special and spending time with my late grandfather will always bring back good memories for me. I think the best Christmas I've ever had had to be in 2009...

I wanted a dog pretty much all of my life but my mum was never keen on the idea, a dog is a huge commitment. My brother and I would beg my mum for a dog every year and despite always having wonderful presents and a lovely Christmas we were always a tad disappointed that there wasn't a puppy with a big bow on under the tree.

My mum finally surprised my brother and I on Christmas day nearly five years ago with the best little Labrador anyone could wish for. My mum let us open all of our other Christmas presents first, she even let us put a movie on and tuck into our selection boxes and then she said 'I think I forgot one of your presents, let me go upstairs and check' She came back downstairs with a puppy in her arms and I burst into tears. She was perfect and the pet I always dreamed of. Sookie was one of the first names that came to mind  for her and it stuck (it's a Gilmore Girls reference) and I think it suits her.

The years of waiting were worth it and I'm now the owner of the cheekiest, cutest, most loveable and spoiled rotten dog in the whole world. I mean, look at her! She's so sassy, has her own way at all times and gives the best hugs. I like to think she follows after me ;)

She is also probably one of the most photographed dogs in history, I'm always trying to get her to pose for me which she does with a huge sigh and only if I promise her a treat.

Me making Sookie pose for a photo // Sookie's first day with the family // Sookie helping me out with outfit photos // Sookie doesn't like antlers // Sookie's first birthday (yes, I got her a cake. Problem?) // Adorable // Sookie looking a bit like Dobby // Sookie in one of her many coats // Sookie generally looking pretty cool

We don't have any children in the family so Sookie is basically my mothers grandchild and my baby. She gets loads of Christmas presents, she's allowed to sit on the sofa and gets the attention from at least one member of the family at all times. She's not just a pet to us, she's a family member and is truly loved. We're completely mad about her and wouldn't have it any other way.

I don't think any Christmas present will ever top getting Sookie. Have you ever got a pet for Christmas?
What are your fondest festive memories?

This is my entry to the Transun “Win a trip to Lapland competition.”

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Under the Weather

Birthday parties, a trip to London, a refurbishment in work, going to yoga & the gym and making sure I leave time to hang out with Martyn and see my friends has taken it's toll on me over the past month. I've been off work for a few days as I've got a bad case of shingles. Boohoo. Apparently shingles can appear if you're feeling a bit run down or stressed so I've had a few days at home to myself and I've done all the things I love but don't normally have the time too. (Except I had to do it with a tingly right hand side and a rash)

I made Martyn a chocolate orange cake because I like to bake but hate chocolate orange so I didn't eat any of it. All the baking fun without the calories, wooo.

I've watched over 30 episodes of Gilmore Girls and I'm now making loads of pop culture references and speaking faster than the speed of light. Luke > all the other men in Stars Hollow, why does it take Lorelai take so long to figure this out?! I've seen every episode at least 4 times now and I never get bored.

Had a lie in and made my favourite brunch, baked eggs.

I've tried to take in as many vitamins as possible by using my new juicer. Vitamins will make me well again, right? Having shingles is no fun at all.

Before the ever-so-fun shingles I went to see Martyn's band support Masked Intruder. I don't get to go out as much as I used to and Martyn works most weekends so I had a blast at this gig and it I really enjoyed dancing to this.

I also went out book shopping WITHOUT MY PHONE. Can you imagine that? I didn't check twitter the entire way to Cardiff on the train, I didn't post any photos on instagram and I walked around with two hands free to look at books. I bought a guide to Budapest (I just booked a holiday there) and a geeky book about the London Underground. I'm thinking of going out minus a phone more often.

I'm really looking forward to being well rested and heading to Bath for an overnight trip next weekend and hosting a blogger meet up at Pettigrew Tea Rooms on Sunday.

How do you fit it all in? Work, friends, fun. Being an adult is tricky isn't it?

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Cardiff Country Fair

Last weekend I attended the Cardiff Country Fair, held within the beautiful grounds of Cardiff Castle which showcased the essence of rural Wales in the city. It celebrated the best of farming, food and the countryside from across the UK. I live in Newport which is only 15 minutes away by train to Cardiff but it's well worth making the journey to the Welsh capital if you live a little further afield because there are plenty of big cultural events here, I love living so close to a capital city.

Livestock including cows, sheep, goats and pigs grazed around Cardiff Castle during the fair. There were cooking demonstrations, country games and more than 100 keen bakers entered their Victoria sponges, Welsh cakes, chutneys and jams into the cooking competition which was judged by Beca Lyne-Pirkis, a “Bake off” finalist in 2013. Bustling with families, keen cooks and students; the event had something to entertain everyone.

Cardiff Castle grounds with views of the Millennium Stadium in the background.

I was able to explore the grounds and the keep of the castle as part of the entry price to the fair. The castle is a mixture of  medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion. The future site of Cardiff Castle was first used by the Romans as a defensive location for many years and was probably built about AD 55.

I made a bee-line for the food and drink stalls. With a wide range of local and regional produce, all lovingly crafted by independent retailers, there were so many delicious treats to taste and buy. I took a few treats home including some lovely Welsh cheese and my favourite, elderflower wine. I can highly recommend the Snowdon smoked cheese, it's the best I've ever had.
Whilst at the fair, I also had the opportunity to watch one of the cooking demonstrations, which was a  new experience for me. I watched the team from Welsh Beef create budget friendly meals and I got to sample plenty of the food they cooked. A Shepherds pie with a creamy leek base was my favourite from that session. 
My afternoon ended with looking (and petting) some lovely curly haired cows, fluffy alpacas and cute piggies.

This is the first ever video I have made to go on this blog so don't laugh at my appalling iMovie skills ;) 

I had a fantastic afternoon at the Cardiff Country Show. There is so much to do in Cardiff and the surrounding areas that you could definitely have a little holiday here. I shared this post about my favourite things to do in Wales and if you want any other recommendations just ask and I will be more than happy to help. If you are looking to stay in Cardiff for the Fair next year or to visit all our lovely historical sitesibis hotels is an option you can consider as it's slap bang in the middle of the city centre and close to Queen Street train station.

Did you visit the Country Fair this year? Have you ever been to Cardiff?

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

M&S Collection - Striped Padded Non-Wired Full Cup DD-G Bra review

There’s a new wirefree bra option for fuller busts on the market, thanks to the latest innovation from the Marks & SpencerThe new bra took more than a year to develop, and instead of an underwire uses compression foam technology in the cups to provide the shape and support required in larger sizes. I had read a lot about this bra in the press and was very intrigued. I was pretty certain that a bra without wiring would never be able to hold me and support me so I was a little sceptical when M&S offered to fit me with one of their new bras. 
M&S COLLECTION Striped Padded Non-Wired Full Cup DD-G Bra

M&S COLLECTION Striped Padded Non-Wired Full Cup DD-G Bra

M&S COLLECTION Striped Padded Non-Wired Full Cup DD-G Bra

The fitting experience was very pleasant and my fitter has been working at M&S for over 20 years and really knew her stuff. The sizing in this bra differs from a regular bra so I advise popping into the store to get a fitting or ordering few sizes online to make sure you get a good fit. I'm normally a 36FF-G but found that a 38F was the perfect fit with this style. The back comes up a little tight (a few of the M&S site reviews have mentioned this too) so I would size up. 
The moulded cups are trimmed with a lace underband and wide lace wings that help smooth the back and support the bust, while the shoulder straps are made from a high density fabric for additional support. I found that this bra didn't give me the round shape which I normally like to have as I wear very moulded bras and this was a softer cup but it looked lovely under clothes and there was none of that dreaded back fat over spill or digging in. The wide lace at the back really did a great job of smoothing me and creating a clean sillouette under my clothes. 
The bra is very affordable at just £22.50 and comes in sizes 32-40 DD-G. I typically pay around £30+ for my bras(a definite downside to having a fuller bust) so I think the price is great.

I picked up this bra from M&S Cardiff Capital which has been transformed from a Home and Food store to one offering over 20,000 sq ft of Women’s, Men’s and Kids’ fashion, as well as Food and Beauty.  The fashion-focused redevelopment establishes an entire ground floor dedicated to Womenswear, showcasing M&S’ sought-after Limited Edition, per una and Indigo clothing collections, as well as footwear and lingerie. 

This bra has definitely opened my eyes to non-wired options on the market now and it's so refreshing to not be wearing something with uncomfortable wiring. Do you ever wear non-wired bras?

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

London at Night

Between the romance of a skyline filled with multicoloured light and centuries-old buildings illuminated with floodlights, there’s something undeniably dreamy about London’s post-sunset glow. Wandering around the city is the best way to get to know it so Martyn and I took a late night walk to work off all the burgers and shakes we indulged in on our trip.

London at night

We started in Covent Garden where our hotel was and walked down to the Southbank, taking in some of the never additions to the skyline like the London Eye and admiring the beautiful hotels along the Thames.

This is a picture of the London eye at night

Parliament at night

No matter how long you’ve lived in London or how many times you visit, the sight of the city’s most famous building, the Houses of Parliament’s clock tower, looming over the Thames never gets old. The tower looked beautiful in golden light and I loved hearing the bell ring out minus all the noisy day time traffic. 

This is a picture of Big Ben lit up at night

This is a picture of Westminster Abbey at night

This is a picture of tower bridge, London at night.

Tower Bridge remains as much of a London icon in the 21st century as it’s always been since it opened over 120 years ago. If you get off at London Bridge station you can exit one way to visit the Shard and another way to walk down to the river for views of the Thames, HMS Belfast and buildings like the Gherkin

Our walk around London felt very relaxed and romantic despite it being a Friday night in one of the busiest cities in the world. What are your favourite spots for a nighttime stroll in London?

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