27 July 2016

Wonderful Wednesday ... 15

Ooops, I've been a little absent the past couple of weeks from this little post of joy. Last week I was on holiday and the week before was a super busy at work I just plain forgot!

So loads to catch up on... let's get into it... my round up of what's been making me smile lately...

1. The middle of nowhere. OK so I went camping, you've probably seen the post all about that already... Yes one or two of my happy little list will be about said camping because truly I cannot think of anything that makes me happier than being in a stunning place, in the tent, exploring with my Mark. We went to Kielder, which is the most remote village in the country. It was only an hour away but I felt like I was a WORLD away... It felt like a different planet... amazing.

2. Pokemon Go.. Probably a controversial one! haha. But I LOVE it, and this is MY blog! :-) Yes I freely admit I am a 30 (odd) year old woman who enjoys catching imaginary creatures on her mobile phone! hehe. Yes this is how I choose to spend my time, not all my time, but some... Mark and I both love it. I love it for many reasons... I have never really liked computer games... find them boring and tedious and frustrating... but this one I can do, you collect stuff, simple! In terms of games it is a fantastic achievement! We were literally in the house the other day waiting for the rain to stop so we could go out and play computer games! hehe. It gets people out... we are already quite an active couple, we do loads outside, but on the average evening we are inside sitting watching TV, well Pokemon Go makes us go out in evenings.  We've walked miles and I've discovered new bits of my new neighborhood. It actively encourages you to notice bits and bobs of historical interest (poke stops) around your city (score!) and the amount of new people I have said hello to, had conversations with, or nodded and smiled at has been amazing! It's a fantastic community... Plus everyone I've met playing so far has exceeded the age of 25! What's NOT to love?

3. Heat. My golly it was hot last week, eh!? We were camping on the hottest two days of the year and it was just simply glorious! I think I mentioned just HOW nice the weather was about a million times. Yeah that epic storm the next day was probably my fault! hehe. We were so lucky with the weather for our week off and it being hot whilst on holiday makes it feel like a 'proper' holiday! We were in Keilder in Northumberland, not exactly known for its tropical temperatures, but it just made it all the more magical. I admit, I am not one who adores baking hot weather but if I am away from it all, and therefore don't give two hoots about what I wear or having to wear make up, it's just fab!

4. Running. This has probably appeared on here a few times, but the past few days I've been running again! wuhu. Looking through my Nike Plus app, there has never been a month in past couple of years I haven't actually ran, but it feels ever so long since my last running spurt. I've put running aside in favour of biking recently and I've very much enjoyed clocking up the miles on my two wheels. But the other day I felt like a run, so I did and it was good. I've been out the past few mornings too and I've been planning new routes and getting all excited about it again. I want to get back up to my 10ks soon.

5. Crocheting blankets. I cannot stop pinning pictures of super pretty crochet blankets... I've been in the middle of a few different ones lately, with blankets for friends and commissions... I started a  new blanket for myself (I'm nowhere near the end of the last one I started). I've done a good few rows of said new blanket and now I want to start another... We had another friend recently announce a pregnancy so looks like I get to plan yet another one... wuhu!

6. Costume planning. We are going to a music festival next month, wuhu! Just a little local one... But on the Saturday night everyone dresses up for one huge costume party. Sometimes with a theme, sometimes without... Last time we were ShAmy (as in Sheldon and Amy from Big Bang) we thought our costumes were amazing, but we saw a lot of puzzled faces! hehe. This year we thought we had THE best costume idea ever and I was getting all excited and carried away.... aaargh... we were going to be our Pokemon Go characters (mine has purple hair, wuu!) I realise this is probably only exciting for me... hehe. But then they announced a theme... so back to the drawing board... theme is 'Jungle' so I guess I'm going as a leopard or something then? Anyone got any more creative suggestions?

7. The power of tidying. So judging by the point above I'm not the most 'grown up' of people... but there is one grown up thing that does suit me and that's cleaning and tidying.. I do like to keep a clean and tidy house. I've felt somewhat out of sorts recently... with a super busy stress time at work, then a week on hol.  At the weekend I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, especially with the idea of going back to work. But I gave myself a few hours and gave the house a good seeing too. I felt lighter and happier instantly, ah!

If you enjoyed this, don't forget to check out the wonderful  SallyMichelleKateHelenCat and Kate for their weekly musings on all things happy. 

Oh, and I actually posted TWO, yes TWO whole blog posts this week about things other than wonderful wednesdaying... You can find all the photos from my camping trip here and a super posh Afternoon Tea here.

What's been making your Wednesday wonderful?

25 July 2016

Afternoon Tea at Armathwaite Hall

Recently we enjoyed a very posh afternoon tea at a beautiful country house hotel in the Lake District, Amathwaite Hall, just outside of Keswick.

Ok, so we don't normally frequent such places, this was a lovely gift from Mark's brother and sister in law. A whole gang of us went along... Mark and I, Mark's sister, son Alex and partner Neil with his 3 boys and Mark's parents.

Armathwaite Hall is a Grade II listed building, 4 star country house hotel and spa on the shore of Basenthwaite Lake. I have wanted to visit for ever, but never really had the opportunity before... So when we got the vouchers for Christmas I have been super excited... I couldn't resist snapping some photos...

I even loved the driveway... you always know you are going somewhere special when there is a long drive lined with Rhododendron bushes.

The back of the hotel was even more spectacular than the front... Check out that view out towards Bassenthwaite Lake.

There are acres of beautiful grounds, which guests are invited to explore... I love this old row of trees.

The hotel is really well known also for it spa. I will have to come back and sample the facilities here another time...

There was a wedding happening when we arrived, with wedding guests out on the lawn and drinking on the terrace, how lovely.

So of course on to the CAKE... it was delightful as you would expect! Because there were SO many of us there was SO much food! droooool...... I couldn't wait to get stuck in..... I enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate, a fresh made warm cinnamon and apple scone with fresh cream, a little lemon cheesecake in glass, cute little cheese and cucumber finger sandwiches (with no crusts - screeeam!) Yummy yummy yummy!
The afternoon tea that we enjoyed was a gift, but if you wish to go it costs £22.50 per person, booking is essential.
Where have you been for a fabulous Afternoon Tea? It is by FAR the best meal of the day! hehe.

23 July 2016

Camping in Kielder

I've been off work all week this week, wuhu! Much needed, after a stressful, super busy few weeks at work I tell you. For a little break away we decided to go to Kielder Forest with the big new tent and our bikes for a few days away from it all.

Kielder Forest and Water are in Northumberland, on the border with Scotland. To get there from Carlisle is about a 1 hour drive, and you actually go up into Scotland and out again. Kielder Village where we stayed in the campsite, is the most remote village in the country.

There are SO many things to do and see around Kielder, with the large reservoir to boat on, play in, cycle, walk round. Numerous visitor centres and attractions dotted around the lake, mountain bike trails, cafes, pubs, play areas etc etc. We were SO excited to visit and it did not disappoint. In fact it very much exceeded my expectations. The entire place is stunningly beautiful, I felt a million miles away from everything, pure relaxation (and of course no phone signal and very little internet!)

So we arrived on a super sunny Monday afternoon after a scenic drive up through the teeny country Scottish roads. The plan was three nights at Kielder Campsite and 3 days of biking fun and exploring.

I highly recommend the campsite. The site warden could not be more friendly and helpful, a lovely welcome. The site is basic but beautiful, a long strip clearing nestled beside a stream and in the middle of the deep forest. But actually only a stones throw away from Kielder Castle, the area's main visitor centre, the start of the bike trails, a pub and a village shop, what else could you possibly need?

We put up the tent, I was super excited about the first outing for our new tent. We now have a huge tunnel tent that you can stand up in!!! This is revolutionary for me. Then we were keen to have a wander and explore our new surroundings.

Just through the campsite is the Angler's Arms, about 2 minutes walk. The pub is decent enough with good range of drinks and home cooked food. Of course we stopped for a cool pint in the sunny beer garden and marveled at HOW nice the weather was. We couldn't believe our luck to be camping in this beautiful place on the sunniest day of the yer so far, score!

We kept on wandering and found Kielder Castle. It houses a visitor centre and cafe. We got some ice creams and enjoyed the scenery. NO we didn't hunt down free wifi to check Pokemon in the area, we wouldn't do that!!! lol (No Pokemon in Kielder at all FYI!)

We had some giggles in a maze we found. Mark hilariously ran off leaving me lost in the middle. The maze was higher than us, but there were little step bits to stand on every now and again, was funny when Mark popped up over the other side!

The middle of the maze was a cool cube like structure with pretty glass rocks all caged in. We stopped for a selfie!

Hehe! How many selfies do you typically take before you get an 'ok' one? selfie outtakes! I LOVE our faces here, squinting from the sun, just had to share.

As the evening drew on we wandered further into the woods. Mark actually knows the area a bit more than me as he completed the 2015 Kielder Marathon. I was already super impressed that he completed a marathon, but after having cycled the route I now know he is insane and also superman, its NOT flat as one might expect being round a lake!

So we wandered to the viaduct that Mark was keen to see after remembering running across it. The place has an interesting history, this was an old railway line before the reservoir was made here. Makes you wonder what else is lurking under that water?

Back through the little forest lane to our pretty campsite...

A most wonderful, peaceful evening was spent, chilling with some ciders on the grass, reading, crocheting and just generally enjoying being outside in the heat!

The next day came the hard work. 27 Miles round the lake bike ride. It was tough, I won't lie, it was STUPIDLY hot, it's NOT flat, as I explained above, and turns out 27 miles is a long way. But SO worth it, a most beautiful bike ride, really enjoyed it.

The view from the dam is just epic.

At the opposite end of the lake to Kielder village is Folstone village. A picturesque little place with the promise of a tearoom...

Oh and the tearoom did not disappoint.. I do love a good tearoom. This one was in the old school! We could also sit outside! The ladies didn't seem to mind our red and sweaty faces... We enjoyed cheese toasties and a lovely gluten free almond chocolate concoction, that I could happily eat until it came out of my ears, delicious it were.

Such a pretty place...

Lovely refreshing cool Fentimans...

Setting off over the dam to complete the last half of the ride with full happy bellies.

I didn't take any photos after that, oops! We got back to our tent, Mark made a little shelter so we could snooze in some shade (the tent was hotter than hell inside!!! lol!) We then cooked up some pot noodles for tea and sat and made the most of the weather.

Sadly the weather took a dramatic turn for the worse the next day. The heavens opened and it did not stop! Thunder, lightening, epic rain! I don't know if it was the worse storm I've witnessed but sure sounds like it when you are stuck in a tent throughout. Was pretty dramatic. 

The tent sprung some leaks (due to sheer volume of water not faulty tent) and the forecast was for same all day. So we made the heartbreaking decision to call it quits and head home early... boo! But a day hiding in a tent and then facing a soggy night's sleep didn't appeal much.  But that's the great thing about local camping... you can always just come home....

I cannot grumble about our trip cut short (ok ok, so I did a  BIT!) bit we had 2 glorious days of un-broken sunshine and this place was magical. With it being only an hours drive I am positive we will be back as soon as possible to explore the rest...

6 July 2016

Wonderful Wednesday ... 14

Here's a list of happy things that have been keeping me going this week...

1. Stripes. Judging by my wardrobe and the 'dream' wardrobe saved bookmark pages on the computer, I apparently have a thing for stripes! hehe.  ALL my clothes recently are stripey, and to find items I like I often just put 'stripe' into the search on clothes shop websites. A good couple of years ago I would never have worn stripes, not flattering, too bold... but I just don't care now. The boldness makes me happy, and as for flattering... well I judge clothing by how it makes ME feel.. and stripes make me smile a lot.

2. New Massive tent. I'm SO excited! Mark and I just bought a massive new tent. We went round to his parent's to put it up in their garden last night (It won't fit in ours) you can stand up in it and it has a proper porch area you can sit in on deckchairs. I love camping, it's one of my very favourite things to do. But camping in a little bit more luxury, and not having to do that awkward shuffle from horizontal to vertical, all whilst balancing on one leg simultaneously stepping into your wellies and not hitting your back on wet tent roof as you climb out, OH yes!

3. Camping trip planning. This links to number 2... we have booked a trip for 2 weeks time, wuhu wuhu! We are off to Kielder for three nights to test the new tent out. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere, but with a little village, a huge reservoir to wander or bike around and of course fantastic mountain biking red graded trails, I think we will find enough to keep us amused. Cannot WAIT!

4. Pet Lamb YouTube Channel. I am just LOVING these ladies. They are fast becoming one of my fave things to watch on YouTube. At first they were just baking vids, nothing wrong with a baking vid, except when you are trying to be a bit more healthy... but they have branched out into tag vids and chatty vids, they are just super fun and lovely to watch.

5. Getting stuff done. This is my super busy time of year at work. (I know BAD to mention work on my blog!) I'm an Alumni Officer so at this time of year a whole new bunch of alumni are welcomed, so there are emails to write, graduation bits to plan and data... oh the endless data... I have about a space of 2 weeks which are historically manic panic for me.  But this time I actually feel in control and on top of things and it's all coming together nicely. I'm actually excited about graduation week, next week, wuhu!

6. Something super exciting to look forward to. Something SO exciting happened this week. Aaaargh, I cannot really spill the beans (maybe in future posts?) but somebody close to me booked something amazingly happy that they have been thinking about and wanting for EVER! Very happy for them, but also happy for me as I get something super lovely to look forward to. 

7. An evening with friends. On Friday night a bunch of us popped up the road, over the border to Dumfries, Scotland to catch up with another good friend. It was an evening of yummy food, crochet and fab chats. What could be better really?

For more Wonderful Wednesday, do pop over to check out these lovely lot...  SallyMichelleKateHelenCat and Kate