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!

The European Architectural Medal

Every year, Schools of Architecture across the continent nominate one Masters Project for the ‘European Architectural Medal’. This year 120 projects were submitted from 29 countries. On the 26th November the Jury met in the exhibition hall of the Uauim in Bucharest and decided that ‘Re-constructing Porto: The Massarellos School of Construction’ was the winner of the European Architectural Medal 2016.

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The jury commented that ‘It tackles the problem of contextualising in a decaying urban fabric, a common preoccupation in many of our cities, looking for responsible urban regeneration. The school project tackles the brief by connecting it to its surroundings and its access points, by responding to the topography and existing imposing structures like the overhead bridge. It does this physically with the tower of the liftshaft, but also asserts its presence with the same sign. A more subtle expression of building forms and spaces diversify the school functions, as for example from the harsher laboratories on the ground floor to the airy, comfortable work spaces on the first floor. The project correctly combines regard for energy use and sustainability of materials with the characteristics of user needs. The layering of building materials, forms and juxtaposition of volumes, all hint at the didactic process of construction – which is the School’s role.’

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Of the 120 projects submitted, 30 were selected and displayed at the awards ceremony. Throughout 2017 the shortlisted projects will form part of a travelling exhibition stopping at various Architecture Schools across Europe.

I couldn’t quite believe I had been awarded this amazing prize. A really great end to a very enjoyable final year at Architecture School. To read more about the prize check out this link: https://eam.uauim.ro/projects/2016/38/

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHAEL!

Last weekend Michael turned 25. I had been planning his birthday since early April as I always find him so difficult to buy for but had seen some bits that I thought he would like so bought them early! This caused his actual birthday to feel so fleeting and seemed to rush by!

We decided to spend his birthday weekend in London, doing a few architecture-related things as this is one of his most favourite things to do and also went to the theatre to see ‘The Book of Mormon’ which was hilarious! We had some delicious food, the best being a pizza from a street food van at Shoreditch market. For a moment, it transported us back to Florence!

We stayed in a cute hotel that we had visited before but I rang ahead and got our room upgraded with free prosecco and a great view – what a treat!

It was a fun, whirl wind of a weekend. Looking forward to what 25 has in store for us!

Happy Birthday Michael!

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A NOTE ON LEAVING

I did it!

Today is my last day at Arup, potentially my last day as a landscape architect. I love affair with a long coming break up.

I’m waiting for my final commuting train to Bristol, I am slower, taking snapshots with my eyes of every step I take – a journey I have been making for almost two years with a commute to Swindon for a year prior to that.

The billboards, the underground passageways and the smiles of the friendly people at the ticket booth who have become so well acquainted with my everyday ritual.

No bike today he asks? Why you so late, you on holiday? Surely you’re not going to Bristol on your day off? – It’s my final day, I reply! Oh you’re staying in Bath? They say. Yes I beam.

They thought I was on holiday, was it my casual clothing, my bright eyes and gentle smile, my slow demeanour, my steady pace?

I am breathing deeper than I have for weeks, months, could it be years?

Dramatic? Yes.

Lighter. I feel lighter and courageous and what a wonderful feeling that is!

I feel hope. Hope for my life and my being. My mind is restful in this day.

There are twinges of sadness, guilt, quickly washed away with the thought of what may be, will be.

I feel packed with knowledge and lessons. Some stemming from education, but most from experience.

I truly feel like I am on a journey today and this will be a notice on the timeline registering change and decision.

I’m getting off my phone now, my eyes are open, I am ready and I am waiting.

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(Just two little photos with a whole lot of memory – a whole lot of work took place in that seat over two years, physically and mentally, a lot of emotion – I was and still am forever grateful for those trees!)

New beginnings.

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!