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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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

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!

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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HOLY COMMUNION

My neice, Coco Bella, celebrated her First Holy Communion a few weeks back and I have just finished editing some of the photos to get printed. We are so proud of the kind, thoughtful, whitty and clever young girl Coco is turning into. Not to mention her natural beauty and loving nature.

We just cannot get enough of you, Coco Bella!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Our Christmas was spent in Bath with family followed by a relaxing week at home in South Wales. Whilst Michael spent a few days between Christmas and New Years in Bath studying, I had a wonderful few days with my mum and niece. I ‘unplugged’ over the festive period with limited access to the internet and surrounding myself with loved ones, I wanted to focus on the present. It felt so good and needed!

In celebration of the New Year we decided to have a dinner and dance party at home so we had a delicious and fun meal of fajitas, nachos and nibbles. At 11:30 we wrapped up warm and headed out for sparklers and fireworks in the garden. Michael and I agreed that it was the best New Years Eve to date.

We are not usually the type to set ourselves New Years resolutions. However, we thought that ‘kindness’ would be our word for this year. I think we all need a bit more kindness in our lives, not only in the direction of others but for ourselves. We so often beat ourselves up with the fear of failure, comparison and self-judgment so we are going to try and loosen up a little and care more for our bodies, hearts and minds this year.

With this in mind, here are a few things I plan to do for myself. I’m the type of girl who craves dates in the diary and something to look forward to!

  • Apply for my first solo market stall at Frome Independent Market
  • Sign up to a sponsored charity bicycle ride
  • Look for a creative evening course/group, or, better yet, try and set one up!
  • Have friends round for more dinner parties in our home

So here is to a brand New Year.

I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable break. May your year be filled with kindness!

May you have your spirits lifted today in some way.  May you be able to be full of the divine power that you already have within you to let go of whatever it is that you don’t have, and embrace whatever it is that you do have.  This will bring you PEACE and serenity in your life, even if things never, ever turn out the way you want.  May you believe that this life has a purpose…and it’s these very experiences that will refine us, more than anything else.

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CRANE DANCE BRISTOL

We went to see the Bristol crane dance and light show as part of the Heritage Festival with my mum. We arrived a little before it started and found a spot at the harbour side with a great view. It was a beautiful clear evening and the crowds began to fill up and there was a lovely, friendly atmosphere. As the sky turned dark, the live sea shanty style music began on a boat on the river and the cranes were flooded with bright colours as they moved elegantly to the beat of the music. There was something so graceful and romantic about the way these big 65-year-old cargo crane structures danced under the star lit sky. I was so happy to have my mum and Michael there to witness it with me. The crowd oohed and ahhed as if it were a firework display.

What was extra special about the evening, is that the event organisers had purchased a special edition of Michael’s illustration of the Bristol cranes which was used as the event advertisement. To think that the 10,000+ people who attended the event had seen and had their attention attracted by Michael’s work was so amazing. We are so proud and are desperate to get a copy of those leaflets.

A lovely evening and some precious memories!

To see Michael’s sketch on the events Facebook page click here.Cranes_By_Michael_Lewis_0

COCO BELLA

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One of the highlights of our summer was spending time with my wonderful, feisty niece. This summer we were lucky enough to have her for three weeks and whilst Michael and I still had to go to work, we sure made the most of our long weekends and evenings! Our time with Bella was spent laughing, running, playing, jumping, chatting, reading and singing. We absolutely adore this girl and she puts such a sparkle in our eyes. She is turning into such a beautiful little lady, with some added spunk in there too for good measure!

Bella turned seven the day after Michael’s birthday so we made sure to celebrate when we got back from Porto. This summer she learnt to swim, camped for the very first time in the field next door to my ponies (waking up and poking my head out of the tent to be greeted by Ben and Jake was possibly one of the best experiences ever?), toasted marshmallows on our little camp fire, body boarding in the sea and rock climbing, riding and playing with the ponies, jumping over stepping stones at running wild at Ogmore Castle, visiting the Roman Baths, eating Japanese food and many a picnic outdoors in various locations.

At the end of her stay, we are always exhausted but our hearts are full and our cheeks ache from laughing so hard.

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See you soon Coco B, we sure love you!

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.

SUMMER

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I’m not the best at keeping up to date with my blog. Our daily life consumes us and trying to keep active and outdoors as much as possible, means little time to sit, edit and write. In my mind, I see that I make time for this more often, but realistically it does not happen. I am trying to be ok with that.

Recently, life has been throwing us some curve balls. Both in terms of our career and family. In our difficult times, we cling on to ideas of hope and try to plan and arrange things to look forward to. So, in two weeks time we will be camping in the New Forest with a bunch of Michaels work colleagues, friends and their families. At the beginning of August we shall we taking a long weekend break to Porto in celebration of Michaels birthday. A place with great significance this year since Michael has chosen to study the city as part of his final Masters year in Architecture. Mid September, we will be going for a relaxing week in Tuscany, Italy. A special week together before the craziness of Michaels final year absorbs him.

I hope that I will feel encouraged to write here, to document on these good times together.

Before I go, I thought I would post a link to a website I was recommended, not only to share but also as a little reminder for myself to get some headspace! Click here to see what I am talking about. Sign up and treat your mind to just ten minutes.

Happy Friday!