Wonderful Wednesday 29 - ☆ Highlights of 2016 ☆

28 December 2016

I joined Sally's merry little bunch of Wonderful Wednesday bloggers in March this year knowing that it would be a good exercise to push myself to blog more regularly and look for the happy moments in a week. Some weeks have been easier than others (and I know that some weeks I haven't managed at all) but it's been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to all the snippets of wonderfulness I'll find over the course of next year. This week, joining in with Sally, I'm documenting my highlights of the year. In a year with so many national and international low-points, I'm looking at the wonderful moments closer to home because, in the wise words of Albus Dumbledore, "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light".


Moving house... As tiring and stressful (and dusty!) as moving house can be, moving house back in March was one of the best decisions we made this year. We had lived in our old flat for almost four years and although it was a shoebox, it was a delightful little box (the first place we lived in together) and we loved the area, which probably made us stay there for longer than we should have done. I had a 4 hour commute to and from work each day which was not good and I was exhausted constantly. My new commute is about 40 minutes (nothing in London terms!) and only one train rather than 4. We've also got more space and a garden, and the glorious thrill of having more time in the morning and evening still hasn't worn off. Granted I had huge plans for the garden which didn't even get a look in this year but next year, I'm looking at you to get me more organised. Bring on those home-grown veggies.

Discovering tasty gluten free cafés... Visiting the Gluten-Free Shop and Café in Norwich is such a highlight from last year and I can't believe I haven't made it back since. The shop was full of so many gluten free treats and bread that tasted like I remember it tasting! There was also an amazing café and, as I said before, it's still a thrill to be able to go into a restaurant and have your pick of the menu. You can find my review here if you're thinking of popping along yourself.

Another highlight was Beyond Bread bakery in Fitzrovia, London, which I have been back to a few times already this year. It's the perfect brunch/lunch spot with an array of delicious items to choose from - the pastries are a particular favourite.

Being a little thriftier... Helped by the fact that we moved away from an area filled with tempting little coffee shops, places to eat and a rather large M&S food store, the latter part of the year has felt slightly thriftier as we've really worked to make our shops go further. We pulled out the slow cooker as the evenings drew in and it's been lovely coming home to a tasty stew after a cold commute home. Hopefully next year will be even better on that front (particularly if I put my money where my mouth is where our vegetable patch is concerned!).

Holidays... Both of our holidays were family-filled this year - Germany at the end of May to visit my sister in law and her husband, and Ireland in August for a family wedding with some additional days to discover a little more of a country that means so much but that I haven't visited in years.

We're not sure what we're going to do for our holidays next year but I'm looking forward to sitting down and planning them, and discovering some exciting new places.

Lots of family time... Since I moved back home from Japan in 2008, I've lived quite close to my parents and a lot of other family members, which has been a lovely treat. I've enjoyed getting to know them as adults, if that makes sense, and this year we've enjoyed lots of meals together, trips and time just talking. Bring on more of that next year please.

London adventures... As frustrating as London can be, as crowded, dirty and expensive, it's still a wonderfully exciting place that we're not ready to leave just yet. There are still so many places to discover, which we've been able to do this year, new exhibitions to enjoy as well as taking in old favourites. This year's highlights have been watching Top Hat at the BFI on Valentine's Day, the Harry Potter extravaganza at the House of MinaLima in Soho, Taming of the Shrew at the Globe, the Lambeth Country Show, Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds exhibition at the British Museum and today's visit to the Geffrye Museum - the museum of the home in Shoreditch.

London itself was looking pretty beautiful itself today too - look at that mist!

Christmas 2016... Christmas gets an entry all to itself, as I expect it would every year because I love it so. This Christmas has been slightly different as the day itself was just spent with my mister and his mum. It was lovely to plan and cook our own meal, and it was a wonderfully relaxing day...but just a little quieter than usual, when you're used to the noise of a big family Christmas! We made up for that though by having all of my mum's side of the family over for a buffet on Tuesday evening and that was enormous fun. In previous years, working right up to Christmas has meant coming down with whatever bug is going round that year, so this year I saved some annual leave to ensure I could have a couple of days off leading up to the holiday period to rest, plan for Christmas and get the house ready, including time to bake and do a few crafty things. I feel thoroughly relaxed - here's hoping that I can carry that feeling well into 2017!

Happy New Year to you all and I hope you have splendid New Year's Eves, whatever you have planned. The mister and I are at home this year with a dear friend, planning a fabulously special meal and cocktails to welcome in 2017.

See you next year!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartina and Lynsey 

Wonderful Wednesday 28

21 December 2016

Today's little list of happiness marks my last day at work until 2017! Need I say anymore? I am so very ready for this break and Christmas! Things have been no less hectic at work (do I ever say any different?) but I've taken Thursday and Friday off, so even if it entails effectively working those days tacked on to the other three (!) it'll be so very worth it.

On to the good and great...including Christmas trees, paper chains and not getting pneumonia (woo!)


♥ Days off and short weeks... As I said last week, I had a few days off from Wednesday to Friday with very little planned save for Christmas shopping, preparing the house as much as possible and some long-awaited pottering. It was every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped for. I relaxed properly for the first time in months, probably since we went on holiday in August. We have company for most of the Christmas holiday so it was lovely to have a little time to myself to get organised. There was cleaning, baking and wrapping of gifts, together with copious of tea and episodes of Gilmore Girls. And this week is also a short one - just three days - I could easily get used to this!

♥ Shetland... I started watching this after Jasmin mentioned it in one of her Wonderful Wednesdays. I do like watching crime shows and this basically focuses on a policeman solving murders on Shetland, with extended shots of the gorgeous rugged Scottish Islands. We've been thinking about a trip to Scotland for a while and this is only feeding that thought - wild and remote please!

♥ Christmas tree... I waited as long as I could to try to ensure that our little tree stays green and verdant for as long as possible over Christmas, but this weekend we finally chose our Christmas tree! With a little more space than last year, we were able to get a slightly larger tree than the previous ones and I love it. I absolutely adore dressing the tree with the little decorations we've accumulated over our years together, as well as some of the lovely new ones I've picked up this year. It was particularly helpful as I'd been to the doctors on the Saturday morning for flu and pneumonia jabs so was feeling pretty under the weather as a result - nothing that choosing and dressing a Christmas tree couldn't fix (and if I don't get flu or pneumonia, so much the better!)

Also, the delicious Christmas tree smell that greets me as soon as I get home in the evening.

♥ Wrapping Gifts and Christmas Movies... I don't know how much more I can add to this one but I'm really enjoying doing both at the same time, it's so cosy.

♥ Crafty shenanigans... I love the homemade elements to Christmas and over my few days off, I dug out my origami paper and made some paper chains for the first time in years! There was something very therapeutic about it, carefully slicing the strips and stringing them together. I've hung them up on every available surface and will be sad to take them down in a few weeks' time!

♥ Herbal Treats... A few weeks ago, the lovely Eleanor of the Salted Tail blog did an interview with the owner of Bloom Remedies, an aromatherapy company based in Cornwall. I never used to have issues sleeping but stress isn't a great help in that department so I decided to treat myself to one of the Serenity Slumber sets, which contains a pillow spray and pulse point roll-on containing a mixture of lavender, geranium and ylang-ylang. It arrived on Monday (a little pre-Christmas treat!) and I tried them both straightaway that night, feeling instantly soothed by the delicious scents. It may all be in my mind but I slept so very deeply and woke feeling refreshed...which is rare this time of year, particularly when I'm in need of an extended rest!

Roll on some excellent sleeps over the Christmas breaks - small pleasures indeed!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartina and Lynsey - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 27

14 December 2016

Now if you weren't already feeling the Christmas spirit, I have no doubt that that image will ensure that you will be ready to deck the halls, partake of several yule logs and carol like nobody has ever carolled before....or perhaps not. Isn't it terrifyingly great thought? The Victorians certainly knew how to send great tidings of great joy.

You find me in a very chipper mood today, my lovelies, as I'm now off work for a few days (the rest of the week in fact) - back on Monday but only for a short week then too! Here are some of my highlights since my last Wonderful Wednesday (last week's was missed after I hilariously stressed my way to a pulled neck muscle, you heard it here first folks. Stress is not good). On to the joy!


♥ Christmas carols... My brother sings in a choir and the Saturday before last, they were performing at the Victoria & Albert museum, a favourite place anyway but even more so accompanied by a selection of my favourite carols. We stayed for the whole set, which they reprised twice and which meant I could hear In the Bleak Midwinter twice which is my favourite of all carols ever!

♥ First mulled wine of the season... How can you possibly top listening to Christmas carols in the V&A? By following it up with some mulled wine, of course. I can't believe I'd left it so long this year but it was worth the wait. Sweet, with a hint of spice and so warming on a really cold day. It was worth the wait.

♥ Cosy podcasts...I've been going through a phase on my commutes home and downloading some cosy podcasts for the journey - starting with Nigella's Christmassy Sound Bites, before progressing on to the Desert Island Discs back catalogue. It's amazing how many there are available to download and enjoy, and how much has happened since they were recorded (JK Rowling's, for example, was just after the release of the 4th book in the Harry Potter series). I've listened to PD James and am desperate to read some of her novels now, and have Daphne du Maurier, who I already adore, queued up for tomorrow (after I finish with Lord Denning's episode from 1980 - legal high fives all round, he's fantastic!) Just listening to the opening music makes me feel instantly calmer - very necessary over the last few weeks!

♥ Getting organised...I've written all my Christmas cards, done most of my Christmas shopping and have reams of lists for the smaller details. For perhaps the first time ever, I feel on top of things - famous last words?!

♥ Short weeks...Ahhh I've been looking forward to this week for so long now - I'm off now until next Monday (and next week is another short one!) I don't have anything wildly exciting to do, more along  the lines of the getting my hair cut and picking up some last few bits types of tasks, but it's so very wonderful to have the luxury of some annual leave to spare at the end of the year to help me relax into Christmas. I'm hoping to do a little baking too...and and (and!) we're getting our Christmas tree at the weekend, so actually, scratch that line above - I have lots of wildly exciting things to do!

♥ Homemade Cottage Pie... I worked really late on Tuesday making sure I'd completed everything I needed to before setting my out of office message. It was cold and drizzly on the way home, and I had to wait a little longer than usual for my bus but opening the door when I got home, I was greeted by the delicious aroma of hot cottage pie. 10,000 top husband points to my mister - I don't know if I'd have done the same if he was about to have a 5 day weekend! ;D

And on that note, I hope you all have wonderful rest-of-your-weeks!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasminMartina and Lynsey - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 26

30 November 2016

Image found via Pinterest
So sorry for the lack of a post last week. Things got so busy at work - was running around all day on Tuesday, then there were problems on the tube in the evening so I couldn't get home until late (wasn't all bad - we decided to have a meal out while waiting for the issues to be fixed!) and so by the time I got home, there just simply wasn't time to sit down and write.

How is it already the end of November though?! This year has been stampeding by at quite a pace and now there are only a few weeks left!

Without further ado, here are a few happy snippets from last week (and slightly earlier, seeing as I missed last week's post).


♥ Catch-ups with old friends... I feel like I haven't done this in a long time as I've been working so late but one of my oldest friends phoned for a chat on Monday evening as I was on the train home. I have a long enough journey for a really satisfying chat and it was lovely, like no time at all had passed since we last spoke...as is always the way with the closest of friends.

In fact, this last week has involved lots of long-overdue catch ups over food (the best kind of catch up!) - pizza with some friends on Friday night and then some other friends came over to us for dinner on Saturday night. It was the perfect evening of good food, wine and conversation, when suddenly it's midnight and you've no idea how that came around so quickly. We've resolved not to leave it so long next time. This year has really run away with itself.

♥ Flowers from my mister... Look at these gorgeous roses, aren't they splendid?! Getting flowers from my B never fails to put a smile on my face...even when they're by way of an apology for beard hairs in the sink ;D

♥ Mother-daughter Saturday... I spent the whole day with my Mum the Saturday before last, most of it at the V&A actually and it was all kinds of super. We met at South Kensington station, which at 11am was already crowded with people, and went for coffee before heading to the V&A. Mum's a member and there were a few exhibitions we wanted to see - Undressed: a Brief History of Underwear and Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery. Now don't get me wrong, an underwear exhibition sounds like a particularly odd choice of exhibition to visit with your mother but it was more Victorian corsets than kinky nightmares. Such a fascinating exhibition and you wouldn't believe how eye-wateringly painful some of those corsets looked. My particular favourite item was a rather large pair of lace French knickers dating from the 1930s called, if I remember correctly, the 'riding knickers' as they were decorated with some intricate little horsemen in lace. They were my favourites because of the story behind them - the lady for whom they were made wore them in Baghdad when she was living there for a few years in the 1940s. She was with a group of ladies with whom she didn't share any common language and, in order to break the ice, she decided to whip up her skirts and show them her pants! Apparently it worked a treat, they all got on very well after that and showed her what they were wearing too. Good times all round.

So after a couple of hours in the exhibition, we popped to the members' room for lunch (members' privileges, very fancy!) before heading over to check out the medieval embroidery, which was just incredible. They are beautiful enough on their own, that's before you even stop to take in just how old they are. It's incredible how well they've survived.

We rounded off the day with some more tea and cake, and lots of chatting. She told me stories I'd never heard before, about Christmas with my grandparents when she was small. It's a day I'll look back on and treasure, a truly wonderful Saturday.

♥ Saturday Kitchen... For me, a Saturday morning o'dreams includes a leisurely breakfast (usually catching up with Wonderful Wednesdays) in front of Saturday Kitchen, then pottering around the kitchen and cleaning while it continues playing in the background - I find it very comforting. I was slightly bereft when James Martin left, particularly as some of the guest presenters haven't been great, but they seem to be opting for Matt Tebbutt more regularly and I think he's a great presenter - doesn't read off the autocue like a stilted robot, cooks mouth-wateringly good food and is able to do it while chatting to the guests, again in a non robot-like fashion. It was particularly necessary this week as Alan Davies tried to run roughshod over everyone in the studio - he was massively aggravating (stop talking over everyone!) but one good thing that came out of it (apart from a wonderful does of Jose Pizarro, who I adore) - there's going to be a Jonathan Creek Christmas special, and apparently a particularly spooky one at that! I love love love Jonathan Creek and I cannot wait to see it.

♥ Cosy Sundays... After a late night entertaining, a lovely lie-in was just what we both needed on Sunday morning, made extra special because I'd put freshly laundered bed sheets on the day before. I then curled up on the sofa for the best part of the morning in my PJs, with copious mugs of tea and my new issue of the Simple Things - that magazine seems to be perfectly timed to arrive during stressful periods each month, so needed! We then headed into town to look at the Christmas decorations before going to watch 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', which I absolutely adored. It made me so nostalgic for the world of Harry Potter and I really need to make plans to go and visit the studio tour at some point soon, I can't believe I haven't done that yet!

Hope you're all having wonderful weeks so far - let me know what you've been up to!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasmin and Martina - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

My Winter (okaaay primarily Christmas) To-Do List

20 November 2016

Found via Pinterest

I love this time of year more than any other time. As soon as the air gets colder, the evenings get darker earlier and I can dig out all of my woolly favourites, I start thinking about winter and the build up to Christmas. I love the lights in the trees and lining the streets, the songs, the food, spending time with friends and family, and the joyful expectation building as you get closer to the day itself. I'm hugely lucky to be surrounded by people I love at this time of year and all the excuses to get together and enjoy each other's company.

A few bloggers I follow made autumn to do lists/bucket lists, which I thought was a lovely idea but I never got round to sitting down and writing one. A winter to do list on the other hand, this practically wrote itself.

Found here

So here are some things that I want to do over the course of the next month and a half or so, before the end of the year and 2017 brings a whole new list of must-dos!

  • Ramp up the hygge this winter - cosy nights in with the mister, warming stews, festive treats (I haven't found any gluten free mince pies yet!) and candle light, in the absence of a roaring fire to cosy up beside- that will be for another year's list.
  • Decorate the Christmas tree and the house - probably a given but I'm also planning to make some homemade decorations (paper chains never go out of style, right?!) and find a wreath for the front door.
  • Go to a carol concert. 
  • Find some charitable activities to take part in.
  • Read 'A Christmas Carol'. I've watched about 800 adaptations of this but never actually read it myself.
  • Enjoy lots of mulled treats - cider, wine (and hopefully pick up some mulled Pimms that Samantha mentioned in her Wonderful Wednesday this week - is that a thing now?! I hope so!)
  • Take in some Christmas shop windows and Christmas lights. We saw John Lewis' Christmas windows on Oxford Street this afternoon and they of course didn't disappoint as they were themed around the Christmas advert - the hedgehog curled up into a little ball in a cocktail glass was a particular favourite...as well as the squirrels running away with some champers.
  • Do some Christmas baking (we're also planning to tackle some gluten free sausage rolls on Christmas Eve, watch this space - adventures in gluten free pastry are always interesting!)
  • Watch White Christmas, the Snowman, Love Actually, the Sound of Music and Home Alone - this list may increase as I remember other favourite Christmassy movies.
  • Go on a long London walk, stopping off for hot chocolate/mulled whatnot breaks and finishing with a roast of some description.
  • Plan a family Christmas get-together. (We've actually started planning this one already, I'm very excited!)
  • Try some roast chestnuts. I've never actually had these before but I've walked past so many people selling them in London in years past, thought they smelled delicious but didn't stop to try any. This year is the year!

What's on your winter/Christmas to-do list? Have I missed anything crucial on mine?! (I can't ice skate so that is definitely not on my list!)

Wonderful Wednesday 25

16 November 2016

Found here

I don't have a lot of introductory waffle this week, folks. Honestly, have been feeling slightly low so it took a little effort to focus on this post. So, without further ado, grab your tipple of choice and on with the cheer!


♥ Country Living Christmas Fair... Top of the list of All The Good Things this week is this Christmas Fair that I dragged the mister to on Sunday. My mother in law subscribes to Country Living magazine and I saw this advertised when I was ploughing through some of the recent issues when we last visited and my Christmas-loving heart wouldn't let me forget it. It was held in the Business Design Centre in Islington and there were three whole floors just bursting with Christmas cheer. We tasted some festive treats and partook of a few cheeky gin samples (including an amazing one flavoured with tea) and came away with some delicious salted caramel fudge and a rather fantastic cheese, which I've squirelled away with some port I'm saving for the Christmas period. I picked up some ideas for decorations and a few little treats for us. A lovely few hours were had decking the halls and mulling over (hee!) the festive possibilities.

♥ Quiet Saturdays... This Saturday I had no plans, absolutely nothing to do until meeting the mister and his friend for dinner (and they were out all day). I had a leisurely breakfast (catching up on Wonderful Wednesdays and finishing the last episode of the Crown - sob!), then cleaned to my heart's content before cosying up and starting to make a bumper pre-Christmas to-do list. I'm determined to get more organised this year and not be rushing around desperately the weekend before Christmas...we'll see how that goes.

♥ Bullet journalling... Linking on from the above, I've been enjoying using my bullet journal to get myself organised for the Christmas period. I have a page to jot down Christmas present ideas should they pop into my head (please please do!) and have set out the epic Christmas to-do list across a few pages...with some Christmassy doodlings for good measure.

♥ Serious adulting... *drum roll please* This week I finally paid off my professional loan! It has been the bane of my existence over the last (too many) years and a not so subtle reminder about how much education costs. Finally I should be able to even *gasp* start saving properly?!

♥ Christmas adverts... I may not be the only one to mention this this week but my goodness, have you seen John Lewis' Christmas advert?! Last year's really didn't grab me and I was hoping for something extra special this year, particularly after the year we're all having! They did not disappoint - it has everything a good JL advert should have - chintzy England scenes, cute animals and a heartwarming message. I laughed and bawled through my laughter. Perfect. The M&S advert is also good this year - a very glam Mrs Claus...I've also heard good things about the Waitrose advert but it's supposed to be a real tear jerker so I'm saving it up for when I don't have to be anywhere in particular - I get very blotchy when I cry!

Happiest of Wonderful Wednesdays to you all!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasmin and Martina - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 24

9 November 2016

The mornings are getting colder!

Back after a week's break! The reason for this break? Well, as well as working late most evenings (seriously, 10pm was a low), my mister was up in Edinburgh photographing a conference from Monday to late Thursday night (more like the early hours of Friday morning by the time he got home) and he brought my laptop with him as it's a little lighter than his. So although I could've typed up the whole post on my phone, which I have done before, I do like to edit it on the laptop so decided that taking a week off would be far less stressful!

It was odd not having him around though. I think that's the longest we've been apart since we moved in together and it was not fun! I firmly believe in separate interests and taking the time to socialise separately with your own friends, but as I was working late and that brought its own stresses not having the mister around for 4 straight days was tough. So that in and of itself is the first happy snippet of this week's Wonderful Wednesday! On to the rest of the cheer...


♥ Adorable neighbours... This one actually dates from the week before last - Halloween. I came home from work that evening to be greeted by the two little chaps below. Now I'm afraid, because I was home alone, I had made the decision to hide away from trick or treaters at the back of the house but I could still hear the doorbell ringing upstairs and the two little girls and their mum answering the door with treats on hand, and my neighbour each time letting her daughters know that the chocolates were not in fact for them but for the other children shivering on the doorstep. They are very young - valuable learning experience there!

I probably shouldn't mention the fact that at the time all this was going on, I'd put a pan of rice on to boil and walked away from it to do something important (*cough*watch Gilmore Girls*cough*), completely forgetting about it until the smell of smoke hit my nose. Thank goodness they were putting on distracting adorable amusement for me upstairs while I sat in the smoke-filled back room below, hiding from trick or treaters. (The rice, alas, didn't make it...hopefully the pan will live to cook another batch another day...I've been soaking it and finally remembered to buy some scouring pads today. Don't ever let me hear you say I don't bring the fun stories.)

♥ The Crown... Has anyone else started watching this on Netflix? Oh my goodness, I started watching it this weekend and I'm trying my best to ration it because I'm enjoying it so much and don't want it to be over too soon. It is absolutely stunning. I thought I might find it slightly bizarre, effectively watching a costume drama about people who are still alive but as none of the cast look particularly like who they're playing there's some distance there (thankfully, in the case of Matt Smith - hello to you Prince Phillip!) Beautiful, tragic, gripping, splendid stuff. A must watch.

Image found here

♥ Christmas Countdowns... I'm not going to lie, I'm excited about Christmas as soon as my birthday passes at the end of August but that's not something I feel like I can get publicly excited about. Now that both Halloween and Guy Fawkes night have passed, I'm sure it's ok. I popped into the Christmas floor at Liberty's with my brother on Saturday and started getting so excited about the festivities...even picking up two little nutcracker soldiers to add to our Christmas collection. I put one back at first because his beard was slightly dishevelled but then I thought that nobody would want him and that made me want him all the more - I adore him!

Now I've actively started making lists, booking a Christmas shopping delivery and looking at times for carol services. Christmaaaaas!

♥ Brotherly catch-ups... So, further to the above Liberty-based snippet, I spent Saturday catching up with my brother and enjoying a good ol' London day out. We met up in the British Museum for coffee and cake before visiting their Sunken Cities: Egypt's lost worlds exhibition. It's only on until 27th November but if you get the chance, you must. go. It focuses on two ancient Egyptian cities which were recently discovered submerged under the sea and the finds they've discovered (and are still unearthing). An absolutely magnificent exhibition and the British Museum is always good for a few hours (at least) of wandering.

We walked from there to Covent Garden, then in to Soho where after browsing some of the shops for a little while we popped to Bodeans for some American BBQ. Yums. We then met up with my brother's girlfriend and headed to the cinema. I call that a perfect Saturday, even if getting home was slightly marred by an Anonymous protest, which led to various streets being closed off, tube entrances shut in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square and a rather terrifying police presence. Harrumph.

♥ Classic FM on a cold evening... We've got into the habit over the last few nights of hooking the radio up to the speakers and blasting out some classical cosiness while having dinner. In fact, I'm still listening to it while writing this post. How very brainy of me.

♥ Minstrels... Last but by no means least, I discovered this weekend that Minstrels are gluten free and I've been making up for this knowledge ever since!

I hope you're all having wonderful weeks so far!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmiJasmin and Martina - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wonderful Wednesday 23

26 October 2016

This year seems to be flying by! Does anyone else think so too? It doesn't even feel like a week has passed since I was finishing off my last Wonderful Wednesday post, yet here we are. And the clocks go back this weekend...roll on that extra hour in bed! But surely that's something to save for next week...so here are some of the top moments from this past week.


♥ Looking up... Sounds like an odd one but looking up is really wonderful at the moment! I've been loving walking around and gazing at the beautiful leaves changing their colours, particularly in our local park which seems to cover every shade of the autumnal palette. The sky has also been really beautiful over the course of the last week so yes, make sure you keep looking up so as not to miss out on anything gorgeous.

♥ My new issue of the Simple Things has arrived... That's all that needs to be said for that, really. I'm trying so hard to make it last until the weekend when all I want to do is curl up and devour it. It has been a lovely treat to look forward to after some trying days at work though.

♥ Clean bedsheets... Has this already graced a previous Wonderful Wednesday? Whether it has or not, I popped clean bedsheets on this weekend and am still revelling in them now. There's nothing cosier, particularly after a bath and snuggled into new PJs too. Bliss.

♥ Lunching with friends... We were incredibly decadent this weekend and had plans on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's lunch was spent at a local pub with one of my friends who's moving abroad in a week's time. On Sunday we went for lunch chez B who always goes all out when inviting us over (I can't be too gushing because he's likely to read this hoping for a mention! ;D) Seriously though, as a coeliac I do worry that I'm everyone's dreaded dinner guest but I really shouldn't be because i'm not a picky eater and it's really not that difficult to prepare something quick and easy that's also gluten free. Not that B goes for quick and easy, with Sunday's offering being an amazing Cassoulet. Honestly, just look at it:

A Sunday of good food, wine and chattings...exactly what the doctor ordered.

♥ Cosy evenings... So as I mentioned last week, we've taken our slow cooker out of its box and on Monday morning, the mister added together all the ingredients for a beef stew which greeted me when we got home on Monday evening. It was warming and comforting, everything I needed when I stepped in out of the cold, dark, drizzly outdoors. By the time I got home, the mister had also added some calming lavender to the aroma diffuser and put on some Radio 3...which was thankfully not playing some incomprehensible classical music but a comforting concert.

There was enough made to enable us to have delicious leftovers on Tuesday night too, accompanied by some mashed potato and buttery cabbage. I really think wintry dishes are my favourites!

Hope you're all having wonderful weeks so far and the rest of your week passes just as splendidly. I won't be posting next week because I already know I'll be working late most evenings (joy!). See you in 2 weeks!

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaElLauraSarahMimmi, Jasmin and Martina - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

A Snapshot of Ireland

22 October 2016

Ireland, a little blast from the past as August is a wee while ago now. I typed up a whole post, which Blogger then promptly ate, so I lost the will to go back to it for a month or so.

In any case, rather than bore on at length about what we got up to, I thought I would mostly share some photographs of some places that I would recommend if you're ever visiting the west coast of Ireland.

You'll also see that the weather we had, for the most part, was absolutely glorious. That is by no means guaranteed but the country will still be gorgeous....it's remarkably well-suited to drizzle.

The first few days of the holiday were spent at a family wedding and I didn't really take many photos at all, not wanting to carry my camera with me. The wedding was in Bunratty, in County Clare and we decided to stay on for a few extra days, moving to Ennistymon, to spend a little more time in Clare and Galway, where my mum's side of the family come from.

Inis Oirr

There are three Aran Islands - Inis Mor (pronounced Inishmore), Inis Meain (pronounced Inishmaan) and Inis Oirr (pronounced Inisheer) - which you can take ferries to from the mainland (we travelled from Doolin).

This was a must for me as I have amazing memories of getting a fishing boat out to the islands on a trip to Ireland when I was small, fishing for mackerel (can't imagine helping very muh, I was quite young, but I have strong memories of carrying slippery fish around a boat) and then eating the freshly cooked fish that evening.

We decided to do a trip incorporating Inis Oirr (which is the most eastern island) and a boat trip back via the Cliffs of Moher. With the benefit of hindlegs, I'd choose a trip giving you longer on the island as it was so gorgeous and the boat trip back was so crowded, quite long and a lot of us were forced to stay inside as the journey was quite rough - I have a strong stomach so was fine but being around people throwing up on a small boat was not the most fun. It was incredible to see the Cliffs from underneath though!

Visiting Inis Oirr was like travelling back in time - some scattered old cottages around but mostly fields and animals. The main language on the island is Gaelic which was fascinating to hear too.

The Cliffs of Moher

You can walk the 5 miles along the cliffs, some of which passes some perilous drops. It's home to lots of different kinds of sea birds, including puffins which we sadly didn't see!

According to some literature picked up at the exciting Cliffs of Moher Centre, on a clear day you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, as well as the Twelve Pins and the Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loop Head to the south and the Dingle Peninsual and Blasket Islands in Kerry. It was not that clear on our visit but still stunning!

Kilmacduagh Monastery

Kilmacduagh is a ruined abbey near Gort in County Galway. We passed lots of ruined (what looked like) churches as we were driving around throughout the few days but stopped off at this one because it looked so beautifully haunting, standing out amongst all the green.


Ballyvaughan is a small harbour village in County Clare, where we stopped for a few Guinnesses (alas not me) and some fresh seafood.

We had to stop here to quickly snap the disappearing sunlight... So beautiful.

The Burren

In Irish, the Burren is Boireann which means 'great rock' and is more than slightly appropriate. It's a vast landscape of bedrock, with cliffs and caves, rock formations, fossils and archaeological sites to visit.

We only drove through and stopped off briefly, unfortunately, so will definitely need to go back and explore more.

If you do visit, look out for signs to 'The Burren Chocolatier', which will lead you to the Hazel Mountain chocolate shop and factory. I know I mentioned this in my first post-Ireland Wonderful Wednesday post but I am still thinking about their orange blossom carrot cake so it had to be mentioned again!

What would you recommend for our next trip to Ireland? We'll definitely be going back again soon, can't believe we left it so long this time.

Wonderful Wednesday 22

19 October 2016

Credit: Becky Cameron, pop over to her Instagram
for heaps of her wonderful illustrations. This was just perfect!
I may be slightly late to the party to be raising this now but it's so fantastic to see just how many there are of us in Sally's merry Wonderful Wednesday brigade now! It's really lovely that I can count on my Twitter timeline having a flurry of Good Things at that mid-point in the week when last weekend starts to feel like too long ago but the weekend to come is still just sliiiightly out of reach. I love it.

The air is getting much crisper too. I don't feel quite so over-heated walking to the station in my scarf in the mornings and the merry lights glowing in the shop windows in the darkness as I make my way home have me counting down the days to November, Bonfire Night and then all sorts of mulled things ahead. I don't think I've ever been busier at work but I'm focusing on the good things, which I know a little dose of weekly Wonderful Wednesday helps me to do.

Onwards onwards...to the little snippets of splendid over the last seven days...


♥ Cosy mittens... I picked up these cosy woollen mittens in Ireland back in August and they've been folded up in my chest of drawers waiting for the weather to get just that little bit cooler. This weekend was that time and I love them! They may also be perfect for the office when it's just too cold for fingerless gloves outside but the heating is not always completely effective inside but I still need to type. How about that for forward planning?!

♥ Slow cooker meal planning... We received a slow cooker as a wedding gift but haven't been able to use it yet because there was just no space for it in our previous flat, so it sat in its box waiting for our move. The mister excitedly unpacked it on Sunday evening and has been researching slow cooker stews ever since. I've already bookmarked Helen's German Slow Cooker Pork and Beer Hotpot, which looks incredibly tasty. Gluten free beer though, mind.

♥ Children's books... My friend's little boy is turning 2 in a few weeks and as we were visiting them this weekend, I used the opportunity to pick up a few books for him. There are so many wonderful books to choose from, it's really difficult! I knew he didn't have the Gruffalo but that was only available in a slightly different format but I did spy Stick Man, which is by the same author and I watched the TV adaptation at Christmas last year (? Maybe the year before?) and it was so wonderfully heartwarming, all about a lost Stick Man trying to get back to his Stick Lady Love and Stick Family. They went down a TREAT with the little man!

♥ Spending time with some of my favourite littl'uns... So leading on from the above, we spent the weekend with one of my closest friends, her hubby and their (almost) 2 year old little boy. I haven't seen him in months and he's grown so much! He's talking lots now, loves splashing in puddles (nyaaw!) and is obsessed with spiders (ew). Seriously though, I overcame my fear of spiders when he toddled up, held out his little hand and said "spiders?', just so I'd go on a spider hunt with him several times over the course of the weekend.

My friend lives down the road from my aunt and uncle and 3 of my cousins so we popped over there for lunch on Sunday, meaning I got to spend some time with my cousin (who was one of my bridesmaids and is my God-daughter) who I adore. We had a massive Harry Potter geek-out, as she's been to see the stage play and I am so so jealous!

♥ Mid-week Date Nights... I attended a seminar in London on Tuesday evening, so decided to meet up with the mister afterwards and we went out for a spot of dinner, heading to our favourite Japanese restaurant in Soho. My seminar was on Fleet Street and we decided to walk to Soho rather than pushing onto the rush hour tube. It was about a 20/25 minute walk but there's something magical about London at night...despite the crowds...Somerset House was all lit up and the theatres were just starting to let people in for the evening performances. Wonderful. We really felt like we'd earned our dinner too by the time we arrived at the restaurant! Although we may have over-ordered slightly as a result...

♥ Do let me know what's made your week a little rosier by leaving me a comment below (I do love comments!) or dropping me a tweet (I'm @happygoluckycat) or better yet, why not join the fabulous bunch of #WonderfulWednesday bloggers? Pop over to their blogs for a dose of mid-week happiness - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamanthaKerri, LauraSarahPetaEl, LauraSarah and Mimmi - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

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