SUMMER

Every summer we look forward to the visit of my niece, Coco Bella, at the beginning of August. This year, we were able to pick Coco up on her birthday afternoon on our way back from Cambridge. Upon arrival into Bath we headed out to get some pizza and eat it by the canal, enjoying a wonderful sunset, the sky turned orange, pink and yellow and it made us so excited for the summer evenings we would get to spend together over the coming two weeks.

After our pizza, we treated ourselves to some of Bath’s finest ice cream from the Real Italian Ice Cream parlour and headed home giggling, weary eyed and ready for some rest.

On Tuesday we packed up the car bright and early and headed for Wales. (After a little breakfast and magazine rendezvous in town first!)

We sang and chatted the entire way home, excited to be greeted by my mum and take our first dip in the sea. Upon arrival we gave Coco her birthday gifts, which were a big success and grabbed our beach wear.

The following days comprised beaches, swimming in the sea almost every day, surfing, dolphin diving, bbq and picnics outdoors, fireworks and ponies.

We decided to make two day trips this year, leaving the house in the early hours to head north towards Cardiganshire and Mwnt Bay in search of dolphins (which was another big success!) and to Pembrokeshire and Skrinkle Haven. It was such a treat to share these two places with both my mum and Coco, places that Michael and I had found earlier on in the year and had been excited to share with our family.

We were so anxious to see dolphins at Mwnt Bay as they have been Coco’s favourite animal for some time. My mum and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we heard people talking in the car park about seeing the dolphins. We were lucky enough to be in the water playing when the dolphin and its calf, not too far away from us, dived out of the water. A special moment we will never forget!

I will let the photographs tell the rest of the stories. Photographs that we will treasure for years to come.

Coco is 9 and pretty pumped about being in year 5 and having her pen license!

We adore this girl and all the laughter, kindness and fun she brings to our lives.

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CAMBRIDGE

Michael turned 26 and to celebrate we booked a city break in Cambridge. We had never been to Cambridge before (except for Michael’s interview back in the day before university) and we were excited!

We packed up the car and headed for Cambridge early on Saturday morning, checked into our hotel and the heavens opened! It poured and poured and poured. Determined to squeeze in as much as we could, we wandered the maze of back streets and pretty courtyards getting quite lost and quite wet. We headed for Aromi, an Italian cafe we had read about online and fell in love with its delicious food and cosiness, it was the perfect retreat from the rain and we felt like we had been transported to Sicily!

Once our tummies were full and we had dried off a little we continued to sniff out creative and independent shops and perused the arts section at Heffers book store.

By mid afternoon the rain had eased and we headed back to our hotel to freshen up ready for an evening catching up with Michael’s old housemate and his girlfriend.

We met Laurence and Lucy at the pint shop and headed swiftly onto the riverbar steakhouse for a delicious candlelit dinner.

Sunday, we woke early and finally Michael opened some of his gifts which I had long awaited for! It was his birthday!

Heading out as soon as we were up and ready, the sun was shining and we made our way to Fitzbillies for a full English birthday breakfast (and a croissant for me) we watched the city wake up from the cafe window and the tourist start to form queues at every cafe door. We were lucky to get in when we did!

The rest of the afternoon was spent on the River Cam, we plucked up the courage to go for our first punting experience which was more difficult than it looked (and a little stressful – ha ha)! We manage to zig zag our way perfectly towards granchester and broke all punting etiquette rules along the way!But fun nonetheless!

Back safely on dry land, with soggy trousers and tops, we decided to relax in the sun, watching others navigate their punts and had a little birthday cake with candles and fresh tomatoes from the market.

We decided to wander along the river cam towards the centre of town, passing the mathematical bridge, kings college and finishing at the ‘orgasm’ bridge. Enjoying the beautiful architecture, long vistas and picturesque punters.  Relaxing on the rivers edge with a cold drink, watching the last boats of the day go out. Perfect.

As the sun began to set, we wandered towards Jesus green. It was so nice to see families, young and old, teenagers, students and couples all enjoying the evening, outside on the grass, eating, drinking and playing.

We grabbed some dinner at Thaikhun and slowly walked home through the city, through its swathes of green, passing cows, barges and cyclists along the way.

A great birth day spent in beautiful Cambridge!

On Monday morning, we got up early to head into town to grab a croissant and hot chocolate for breakfast, eating it in one of the many green residential squares of Cambridge, watching people head off to work and get ready for their day. We spent some time wandering the clothes shops and happened upon a cute home ware store where we treated ourselves, bringing home a memory of a lovely weekend.

We checked out of our hotel, jumped in the car and did a whilst stop tour of the much talked about in architecture school, Accordia. Pleased to report that I actually loved it and of course Michael did too!

A lovely weekend, catching up with an old, meeting a new friend and exploring an enchanting city.

Happy Birthday Michael! XX

Next it was on to St Albans to pick up another birthday buddy – my niece, Coco!

COPENHAGEN

The weekend before Christmas, we bundled up and headed to Copenhagen, a city we had heard a lot about throughout our design studies at university and through friends who had visited. We didn’t realise quite how much we would fall in love with that city and feel so instantly comfortable. Upon arrival to our cute Airbnb in a family neighbourhood, we felt welcomed by our hosts and their new baby who were about to head off on a Christmas trip themselves.

With a love for design, architecture and crafting we had planned on exploring the city, slowly, taking in the lifestyle and seeking out the ever popular principal of ‘hygge’, commonly defined as ‘cosiness’.

With our visit being so close to Christmas, homes, streets, cafes and shops were filled with twinkling white lights, Christmas trees and the most adorable Christmas gnomes.

On our first day, we decided to take the metro into the city centre to get our first taste of Copenhagen, we walked through Christianshavn, through the art quarter and headed for the Street Food Market to warm up. We must have spent at least 40 minutes deciding what to have because the food all looked so delicious and tasty. We settled for a shredded duck burger and shared a chocolate cheese cake for desert, it was perfect. The Market hall was filled with art, lights, various smells and flavours filled the air, it was bustling with atmosphere. We wish to have a venue like this close to home. It was great. We checked out the new Opera Theatre and a few boutiques along our way, and headed over the river to the Nyhavn Christmas Market. Since we had such an early flight, we decided to get some pasta and vegetables from the local supermarket and spent the evening cosied up in our apartment watching a movie.

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On Saturday, we took the metro to the other side of the city, Kobenhavn, and meandered through the side streets towards the park surrounding the Castle in search of The Little Mermaid sculpture. Along our walk we drooled at all the homeware and antique shops, wishing we could buy loads of furnishings and dreaming of ways to get them back to the UK! It was a cold morning so we made a brief visit to the mermaid sculpture and read a little bit about its history in our favourite lonely planet pocket book. We had decided to visit just one museum on our visit and decided upon the Danish Design Museum which was next on our agenda. We arrived just in time as the doors opened and were so happy to get indoors to defrost and strip all our layers off.

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We loved the design museum, we meandered slowly around, we particularly loved the Danish chair displays they have and the tunnel setting out the history of the chair and all the different styles that have been designed over time. The museum leads you around in a loop ending in the gift shop (Michael’s favourite) and the café (my favourite). We had a delicious lunch, I had a leek and potato soup which was served in a stylish glass tumbler with roasted pancetta and mushrooms on top and Michael had a beef sandwich with a tasty relish. We didn’t want to leave so we browsed the magazines that were on display. In the afternoon we wandered the shopping district, admiring all the trendy and designer boutiques and stopped off for a mid-afternoon snack and warm drink at a popular café.

In the evening we headed for the Tivoli Gardens which was like a magical fantasy world, we happened upon another food hall so grabbed a quick oven baked pizza for dinner. The Christmas displays at Tivoli Gardens were so fun and our cheeks were aching from grinning so much. I am not a fan of theme parks but I loved watching the vintage rides and loved the Christmas spirit that filled the air.

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On our last full day, we rose early and walked through the neighbourhood of our apartment to the beach, we were surprised by how close the coast was to where we were living and loved the boardwalks over the natural marshes towards the sea. We felt like we were stepping into a Cereal or Kinfolk magazine, the tones were muted, with wooden jetties leading out to the water, reeds and grasses lining the shore – it all seemed so typically Scandinavian to us. As ever, Michael was eager to scout out a local Kastrup Sea Baths that he had noticed on the map. We passed some sort of triathlon on our walk along the coast which was fun to watch, despite the cold, men and woman of all ages were sprinting across the sand with their fancy bikes on their shoulders – brave, brave people! We loved the baths and were surprised to see a couple of ladies braving the icy cold waters! After our walk we were cold and craving breakfast so went to the recommended Holm bakery for a tasty brunch.

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In the afternoon we wandered over to the Food Hall and Market again to browse the different stalls, the Architecture museum to browse their book shop and stopped off at a lovely little boutique we had spotted on our first day to buy a Christmas decoration to remind us of our trip and checked out the Church of Our Lady from the outside as it was sadly in use for an event.

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For our final evening, we went ice skating at Frederiksberg Park, which, to our surprise, was a low key rink at the edge of the park filled with local families. For our final meal we headed to Sankt Annae (I think) for a lovely meal. Before heading back to our apartment for our final time, we wandered the eerily quiet city, over the bridge, and did a quick peak of the impressive Frederik’s Church.

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We were so sad to leave early on Monday morning, we felt so instantly comfortable in Copenhagen and loved the way of live that we had experienced.

A few things I want to remember for the future:

  • The way the parents cycled with their children in a bucket trailer attached to their front wheel, the children often wrapped in blankets snuggled in together, reading books – so, so sweet.
  • The Gnome that we fell in love with and brought home as a memory of our trip and named Christianshavn – a running joke throughout our stay
  • The wooden pig that we picked up from the Food Hall and Market near Tivoli Gardens and fondly named Hans – another running joke throughout our stay
  • Being told off by the guards outside the Frederik’s Church for standing where we were and being so scared but laughing at the same time
  • Finding the recycled market and the free workshop like a little cave of all things crafty
  • Trying to remake the leek and potato soup on our return home for our Christmas Eve meal before heading out to Midnight Mass.
  • The feeling of comfort and cosiness as we walked the neighbourhood of Amager, looking at all the homes lit up under the night sky with Christmas lights and candles.
  • Admiring the houses and their wonderful roofs with green spaced surrounding all sides of their homes.
  • Locking up of bikes anywhere and everywhere using a special wheel clamp clip
  • The fashion, ooooh the fashion!
  • The Metro which was always on time to the second and so clean
  • Our attempts at pronouncing Danish words but making up our own instead and laughing about it

We would LOVE to visit Copenhagen again and venture out of the city, onto the mainland countryside. It is not often that I feel so comfortable in a new city that I imagine myself living and becoming well accustomed to the lifestyle.

A great trip with lots of special, festive memories.

Anna X

PEMBROKESHIRE

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The weather was looking to be good for the last weekend in August and since it was a bank holiday weekend, we decided to pack up our and head to the Pembrokeshire Coast – a place I had never been before but heard great things about.

We checked into our not so wonderful camp site and quickly drove away to make the most of the beautiful countryside and coastline that surrounded us. We spent the first day at Skrinkle Haven, a beach we happened upon and absolutely loved. There was a steep and narrow walk down to the beach meaning it wasn’t so easy to get to and therefore not so busy. We swam, admired the wonderful rock formation, played cards and picnicked!

After struggling to find somewhere to have dinner we decide to grab some makings for a barbeque and spent the evening back on Skrinkle Haven as the sun set, another family on the beach had a bomb fire and later we were joined by a young family playing a ukulele and folk songs. It was so beautiful and an evening I hope to remember.

Check these photos out – so much beauty in our own country!

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SUMMER 2016

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This year my mum and I were able to organise our calendar in advance and lucked out with two whole weeks off work, at the same time. My niece Coco came to visit for these two weeks so we had a jam packed, fun filled time!

The weather was pretty good so our days were spent on the beach, having picnics and barbeques. It was a year of firsts of Coco as she perfected her cycling (without stabilisers) and become a whizz on the surf and body board catching nearly every wave that came her way! We also booked her first real riding lesson so she learnt how to walk, steer and trot for the first time too!

We had a wonderful time, so many memories that I hope Coco will remember as she grows. I know that my mum and I will cherish them forever.

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We love you Porthcawl.

We love you summer.

And we love you SO much Coco!

ALGARVE

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We planned a last minute, long weekend in the Algarve in early August. We had been told to steer clear of the Algarve coast, particularly at this time of year. Boozy holidays, hordes of tourists and drunken antics are really not our kind of holiday but after looking on Airbnb we found a cute little converted stable in the countryside north of Faro, with picturesque drives to beaches with more locals and tourists. We checked some flights and timings and things all seemed to align so we went for it and booked a car!

We absolutely loved having the car with us, despite it being a bit nerve wracking at first as we had not driven on the other side of the road before! – It was a success and we can’t wait to do it again! (We lucked out and got a cute Fiat500 which is my dream car so that was a bit of a bonus!)

Our days were filled with dips in the beautiful pool outside out little apartment, beach hoping, picnics and late night dinners. We played a lot of cards and loved exploring the countryside.

One evening we happened upon a medieval festival in a little village and decided to stick around to catch the procession with real life camels, donkeys and snakes walking down the street! We watched jousting re-enactment in the evening as the sun set, a great find and one of the major perks of having a car!

We love finding quieter places, off the beaten track, a little more difficult to get to, but so worth it! (This is definitely one of the perks of having a car!)

We do not have many photographs of our trip which always means that we were able to really relax, unplug and just enjoy our little getaway, we feel so comfortable in Portugal, we love their welcoming, friendly, family focused nature.

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GRADUATION

march-5Michael’s graduation was a day full of celebration! We decided to spend the day together, to appreciate the moment and acknowledge the journey we had both been on.

Graduation day marked the end of Michael’s full time university study – six years in total.

We started the day early and slowly walked in the sunshine along the river towards the pavilion where Michael received his gown.

As the sun glistened upon the Abbey, friends gathered, photographs were taken and butterflies began! Shortly after, we were welcomed into the ceremony and as a guest, I was lucky enough to sit near to the front, wedged amongst very proud and doting parents. I laughed so hard when the lady next to me asked what degree my son was receiving – haha!

I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony, the first one that I have attended as a guest and so I was able to really listen to the speeches and admire the prestigious routines.

After a hundred or so people had walked across the stage, I noticed Michaels grin behind a pillar as he queued for his turn. His name was read out along with the award he received which caused the audience to erupt with applause. I felt so proud. He looked so smart and mature.

The whole ceremony was recorded and we made sure to package up some printed photographs and a CD of the recording to Michaels elderly grandparents. We laughed because the Chancellor whom Michael received his Certificate from is part of the royal family but Michael slapped him on the elbow whilst shaking his hand in quite a friendly, boisterous manor – so funny!

After lots of year group photographs, we ended the day with a delicious meal at ‘The Cow Shed’.

A happy, happy day!

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WOO!

PORTO PART 2

With a love for colour and pattern, we absolutely loved the vast amount of patterned tiles throughout the city. We felt compelled to photograph and stop to admire them on nearly every street. Tiles are present on most buildings, on the ground and tesselated patterns have also been used as a slogan around Porto, present on many buses, billboards and advertisements. Each pattern seems unique. We wondered whether the pattern historically connected with the heritage of families, just like the tartan patterns of Scottish kilts.

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We longed to find a piece of tile to bring home and dreamed to one day have the chance to design or purchase tiles as beautiful as some of the ones we saw to display in our home. I was lucky enough to find a pair of ear rings that remind me of the many blue patterned tiles we saw in Porto, and when wearing them, it will always remind me of this wonderful trip.

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PORTO PART I

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We arrived at around 10am on Wednesday morning after a very early flight out of Bristol. We had come across the cutest little garden house in the centre of Porto on Airbnb and upon arrival, we were amazed. The garden house was beautiful, a newly built apartment with traditional materials. Passion fruit growing above the terrace and a bottle of local Port wine waiting for us! Our host was so kind and genuine, something we found true to most locals we spoke to. This Airbnb was our best experience yet, it was everything we could have dreamed of.

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The second day of our stay in Porto was Michael’s birthday! Whenever we visit new places, we have made it our tradition to get a view from up high – so we decided to head straight for the Clerigos Tower to get a view of Porto from above. After a long and sticky wait, we finally made the climb up and up and up and were greeted with a wonderful view of the city. Terracota rooftops as far as the eye could see.

In the afternoon we wandered around the Crystal Palace Gardens and jumped on the old tram and headed down the seafront towards the urban beaches. The tram was a fun way to see some of the city and to get a rest from the heat.

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In celebration of Michael’s birthday, we went for dinner at a fancy restaurant we had spotted earlier in the day. We chose to sit in the room with traditional Portuguese singers (Fado), it was a great atmosphere and the food was delicious!

On Thursday, we strolled down to the Livraria Lello book shop to see what all the fuss was about. The original wooden craftsmanship was like nothing we had seen before, it was so elegant and beautiful. We enjoyed wandering through the different sections. Despite the amount of tourists and selfie sticks, it remained somewhat peaceful. Michael bought a great architecture book about the natural swimming pool that we had the chance to visit later in the week.

Next we made our way towards the Cathedral, appreciating the views and the glorious weather, and over the Pont Louis Bridge. The bridge offered some great views of the city but also of the landscape further inland.

We jumped in a cable car down to the riverside, booked ourselves onto a boat trip down the river for later in the day and went in search of some Port tasting at the various Cellars. Although we are not wine drinkers, the experience was so fun and we felt very sophisticated siting in a second floor window sipping wine and people watching below. Later we managed to get a free English tour of the Offley cellars, it was interesting to learn how the Port is made and how the cellars operate.

The day turned a bit chaotic when we attempted to grab some lunch an hour before our boat was set to leave. We figured that Portuguese timing is very different to British, and what we would told would take 15 minutes to prepare, took an hour! I managed to delay the boat and Michael hurried the waiters, grabbed our food and we legged it onto our boat. Stressful but so so funny.

Speaking of food, we ate some great and interesting local cuisines from octopus and salted cod to veil and goat! We also consumed a lot of calorific pastries, something that Porto does very well, we particularly enjoyed a treat or two of the traditional ‘Nata’.

I love being on water so I of course enjoyed the boat ride and found it very relaxing. Michael however, hasn’t got strong sea legs and so was a little grumpy (and hungry!).

The next day we got up early, grabbed some croissants from the local supermarket and made our way to the bus stop. Michael had read about Alvaro Siza’s natural swimming pool on the beach in Leca, a few miles out of Porto. I loved being able to see some more of the local neighbourhoods whilst on the bus and seeing the city from a local’s point of view. When we arrived at the pool, we were blown away by how blue the water was and the cute little, secluded private beach that accompanied it. Let’s just say the swimming pool was not as inviting as it looked, that thing was so cold it made your bones ache! The Atlantic ocean sure is refreshing!

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After a few hours relaxing, we made our way back to our apartment and wandered the local art district and the Casa De Musica. In the afternoon we had a tour of the Palacio da Bolsa and learnt a bit more about the history of Porto.

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On our last night, we walked across Pont Louis Bridge after dinner to see the city lit up in all its glory. We watched as the city buzzed of Saturday night life.

Sunday was our last day; we had a late evening flight back to Bristol so had time to hire some bicycles. We crossed the Douro River on a boat fit for bikes and cycled the coastline to the south of Porto. The beaches were very different to the urban beaches we had visited earlier in the week. Past the marina, and along the flat cycle path, the views were picturesque, the sand bright yellow and the ocean so inviting. We spent a couple of hours relaxing and braving the ice cold water before cycling back and saying goodbye to a city that we had fallen in love with.

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Hope to see you again soon, Porto!

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NEW FOREST

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For the past three years we have attended Michaels work summer party and this year it was camping in the New Forest! On Friday afternoon, we finished work a little earlier than usual and packed up the car. We had never been to the New Forest before so we were especially looking forward to it. Upon arrival, we were greeted by wild ponies, sunshine, and cows walking casually down the village pavement!

The weekend kicked off to a good start on Saturday morning with a bike ride on the office Brompton’s along some bumpy terrain, winding through fields and spotting horses and rabbits. We returned to camp for a delicious breakfast of scrambled egg and salmon on our fancy new camping stove. In the afternoon we headed down to the nearby port town of Lymington to seek out the newly placed an observatory that one of Michael’s colleague had designed. In the evening we had a group BBQ with an arts and crafts workshop, stick crowns and twig wrapping were my favourites – so simple, therapeutic and addictive! Michael had been given the task of organising inter-office softball tournament which was a great success!

As the sun set, the office band set up inside the marquee lined with white lights, children danced in pyjamas and adults chilled out listening to the interesting mixture of music the band had to offer…

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On Sunday, we woke to the sound of rain pattering on our tent and snoozed until our tummies started to rumble. We love the feeling of being cosy snuggled amongst our 2 duvets, 3 blankets and 1 sleeping bag (got to love British summers?) in our hand-me-down tent. After freshening up, we joined the rest of the party for croissants, delivered fresh from the local bakery and warm drinks.

Slowly everybody began to pack up their tents, games and children and say their goodbyes before heading off separate ways. We decided to make the most of our Sunday and the sunshine by heading to the local beach, Highcliffe, grabbing some picnic makings and spent the afternoon sunbathing and enjoying the surprisingly warm and clear blue sea!

We chatted about the weekend all the way home, comparing our best bits and planning our next visit to the New Forest. (I’m trying to persuade Michael to join me on a pony trekking weekend. I’m thinking long rides with breaks for lunch at locally recommended pubs or a picnic, and a splash in a river…!)

Thanks for another great summer party FCBS!

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The great photos in this post were provided by futurekitsch via flickr.