Thursday, 8 December 2011

It's Christmas!

Okay, well it's not. Not just yet anyway. Last weekend, Seth and I actually had a weekend of not doing very much! On Friday night, Seth and I had a lovely evening in which consisted of the film "The Adjustment Bureau", Ben and Jerry's and Ferrero Rocher. It was lovely because Seth works late quite a lot during the week and we don't really get to spend a lot of time together so we really enjoyed it.On Saturday, poor Seth was studying all day. Which meant, of course, that I just had to go shopping! It's not as selfish as it sounds though, it was Christmas shopping, so at least I was buying for other people! I / we've actually managed to do most of our shopping now, which is actually pretty early for us! We're both pretty last minute people when it comes to buying presents but we seem to be pretty good this year.

On Sunday afternoon, we put up the decorations! Always a fun occasion! I hadn't been feeling well and so Seth pretty much made me sit on the sofa while he did the decorating. That lasted for all of 10 minutes before I insisted on helping! We were quite pleased with our efforts. We, of course, had to listen to Christmas music as the decorations going up, it has to be done! My favourite ones which we may have listened to more than once were Il Divo's version of "O Holy Night" and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing "The First Nowell". I absolutely love their arrangement of it, it is so beautiful. Laura and I went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' Christmas Devotional in December 2005 and they sung it then. It was just incredible. I can't describe how beautiful it was, hearing them singing it live and even listening to it on youtube, it gives me goosebumps. It brings back many happy memories of that Christmas with Laura. Laura and I are so close to our family and we thought it would be really hard having Christmas away from them. We missed them a lot, of course, but we had such a fun Christmas together that year. I also always love watching the Christmas Devotional every year, it really helps me to remember the real meaning of Christmas - even though the presents and spending time with family are wonderful, it's a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Here are the pictures of our lovely decorations. I know you're dying to see our handiwork!
Seth putting the bits of the tree together......
and adding the pretty fairy lights

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Ball Weekend

Well actually, there were two of them. It all sounds very glamorous, does it not? On Friday night, we went to Seth's Actuarial Society Ball. It started at 6.30 which didn't leave a huge amount of time to make myself look pretty so I had to take my clothes for the ball to work, change at work then get the train into London Bridge. I didn't really fancy getting the tube to Liverpool Street at rush hour to meet Seth at his office, being as I was all dressed up and the tubes aren't that lovely at the best of times so I got a taxi. I work on the outskirts of London so I don't really get to see much, I don't work in a particularly amazing area but I absolutely love being in central London right in the middle of everything. It is such a great city and I loved just taking everything in. Definitely one of the advantages of travelling by taxi instead of the underground! It especially looks amazing at night time, seeing everything lit up. I've never seen the area that Seth works in before so I got to see it for the first time. It's really close to Liverpool Street station but to be honest, all I've ever seen of the area is, well, Liverpool Street station. But the area is lovely, there are a lot of amazing shops and restaurants. It made me feel quite envious that I don't work in that area and get to see it every day like Seth does. We met up with a couple of friends at Seth's office and then walked to the Tower of London. Seth and his friend weren't quite sure of how to get there from where we were and they were checking out google maps on their phones while I just read the road sign right in front of us which was so much easier. Technology isn't everything, you know!

The ball wasn't actually held IN the Tower of London, which would have been pretty cool, but in a massive marquee in the grounds. I don't think I've ever seen such a big marquee before, it was pretty huge. And it needed to be because I think there must have been around 350-400 people there. I always love people watching and this was a great opportunity for it. I found it quite amusing because a lot of the guys were  there, looking at the girls, and the girls were also looking at the girls, but to see what they were wearing, etc. It's funny how we do that! I definitely fell into that category of girls, I loved seeing all of the different dresses there, some of them were so beautiful! We had drinks first of all and I met some of Seth's work colleagues who are all really nice. We then went in to be seated. This part of the marquee looked amazing, there were fairy lights all across the ceiling which gave the illusion of a night sky. Seth and I were sitting on a table with just one other person from his office and then 7 guys from one of the other offices. They were all really nice, although sometimes they were talking about actuarial stuff and I had no clue about that whatsoever so I just had to smile. I would have nodded as well but that would have made them think that I knew what they were talking about when clearly, I had no idea! It was a fun evening and I really enjoyed meeting the people that Seth works with, it was nice to put faces to the names. This is the only photo that we actually took at the ball:
By the end of the night my feet were killing me! I had always thought that the sandals I was wearing were comfortable. Not so. We got a taxi with Seth's friends back to the office so we could pick up our stuff. At this point, Seth took off his socks so that I could wear them to help cushion my sore feet a bit! By the time we arrived at the station near our house, my feet were really quite sore, so I changed into Seth's shoes that he had been wearing earlier on in the day. I was quite a sight to behold in my long black evening gown and massive shoes. I didn't resemble a clown at all. Seth and I laughed a lot at how ridiculous I looked. I really wish that we'd taken a photo of me now so you can laugh at me and we even talked about taking one but by that point we were too cold and tired and just wanted to get home. Seth carried me some of the way home too, even though he had a backpack and a suit carrier as well. Greater love hath no man!

We went to the second ball on Saturday. This was our church's gold and green ball, which Seth and I were on the organising committee for. We were in charge of decorations, so after having four hours sleep the night before, we went to the church in Maidstone at 10am to start decorating. We had bought 150 metres of gold and green material to decorate the hall with. I'm making myself sound better than I was. Seth was the one who was climbing up and down the ladder and making it look pretty, I sat on a chair saying, "higher, lower, left a bit, right a bit". I think I played a very important role in the whole thing. Seth is a perfectionist so of course, the decorations looked amazing when they were finished! I had the responsibility of cutting strips of green material. Of course I wasn't playing with the material at the same time.
We finished setting everything up, material, fairy lights and the table settings with 10 minutes to spare before the ball started. It was a lot of fun and there was a good mix of people there of all ages. The band was great and a lot of people were up and dancing, us included. I can't remember the last time that Seth and I had danced, so I enjoyed dancing with him. When we were in Lancaster, we learned ballroom and latin dancing  and Seth already knew how to do ceroc, so we had fun jiving and cerocing (yeah, it's not a word) away. We saw some friends that we hadn't seen in a while so it was lovely catching up with them. It was a really busy weekend and we were pretty tired afterwards, but I must say, I rather enjoyed going to two balls in one weekend! Cinderella has nothing on me.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Weekend in Liverpool

I can't remember the last time Lin, Laura and I had a girls weekend. So we were all really looking forward to spending this weekend together in Liverpool, staying at Laura's. Lins and I met up with each other at Euston station and travelled up to Liverpool together. Laura met us at the station at just after 10 when our train got in and we walked back to her apartment. Our walk took us right through the city centre and it looked beautiful. All of the Christmas lights are up. I love seeing Christmas lights but these ones seemed particularly beautiful. When we got back to Laura's apartment, she surprised us with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I had the chocolate dreamcake one again, just as I did the last time we were up and it was as tasty as I remember!

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I got a new phone a couple of weeks ago. One of the apps on it is Sound Hound, where you can hum a certain song and it will tell you the name of the song and who it is by. Laura couldn't wait to get her hands on it to see how it worked. The funniest thing is, every time she sung, it didn't recognise the songs that she was singing. We didn't recognise them either! :)
Actually, I think this may have been Laura's victory dance when it finally did know which song she was singing! We had a fun evening, chatting and dancing away. Laura always dances, but it is especially amusing now as she has floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows with the police headquarters across the road from her so if anyone was to look, they would be able to see Laura dancing away!

The next morning, we went to the gym at the Hilton hotel underneath Laura's apartment. Laura and Lin had a good workout, whereas I just had fun taking pictures of them!
There are probably going to be a lot of pictures in this blog post as I took loads over the weekend so I am being selective in choosing them, as otherwise there would be quite a few here. When we finished at the gym we went back to Lau's, got ready then headed out. As it was about 11 we went for brunch at Patisserie Valerie, which consisted of amazing cakes and hot chocolates. Mmmm healthy! I've wanted to go to Patisserie Valerie for a while as their cakes look amazing, so I was quite pleased when Laura suggested that we go there.
The cakes were absolutely delicious! Well, mine was at least, I didn't try their ones to know what they were like. I have the hugest sweet tooth so I was pretty surprised when even I couldn't finish my cake! Shocking!
Once we had finished gorging ourselves we walked down to the Museum of Liverpool. Laura was so funny, she was running along doing heel clicks, it was hilarious. We kept making her do it again to get a picture of it, but sadly I didn't manage to get a picture of it on my camera! I did get a picture of her amongst the pigeons though. It reminded me of a scene from Mary Poppins :). The Museum of Liverpool was pretty cool. They had a karaoke booth in there with loads of wigs as well. This was the result.
You might wonder why I would actually choose to let people see these pictures and to be honest, I can't help but wonder that myself when I look at these again. But then they just make me laugh so I have to share them!

Once we had finished there, we walked around Albert Dock for a bit and then headed to the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles played. It's really cool down there, it was great being down here and listening to the music.
If you look closely, in the photo of Lin and Laura you can see two women behind them on the right and on the left hand side. The woman on the left hand side kept posing for photos which I assume her husband was taking. The thing was, each time it was exactly the same pose and the same background and I kid you not, I think she took about 8 photos like that every 5 minutes or so, it was a great source of amusement for us! The woman on the right hand side loved the music. A lot. She was dancing around like a mad thing. There isn't much room in the Cavern Club, people are packed in pretty tightly and yet she managed to take up loads of space dancing around. It was funny to watch her.

We went for dinner at the Red Hot World Buffet. Laura had been there a couple of times before and seems to have made friends with the manager in those times that she's been there. When Laura called earlier to make a reservation they said that they were fully booked so we went there anyway and decided to wait for a table. The manager saw Laura and about 5 minutes later we were seated. It pays to have connections! The food was great, they have pretty much any type of food you can imagine and it is delicious.
We went back to Laura's afterwards to watch "Strictly Come Dancing". We always used to watch it together when we lived at home so it was fun watching it together again. We also had a nice little sing-along, something else we always did a lot when we lived at home, it was really fun to do it together again.

We went out a bit later on for a late evening sweets dash ready for mine and Lin's journey home on the Sunday, then when we got back, we were just hanging out, Laura was dancing some more and using a torch that she found in her 72 hour pack (whilst getting out a sleeping bag for me) to say good evening to the police in their headquarters opposite by using morse code. It was quite funny watching her do it. I would have been amused if one of the police actually saw it!
On Sunday we went to church then when we got home Lins and I packed our stuff while Laura got lunch ready. I was having fun trying to roll up a double air mattress and making it fit into the tiny bag that it had come out of. I've seen Seth do it a few times but clearly I need to pay more attention because I really wasn't having much luck!

Laura walked us to the train station and she and Lins made sure I was safely on the train before they went to Lin's train. Laura even carried my case onto the train for me, she's so good! I've thought a lot about last weekend and how much fun we had and once again, I think I am safe in saying that I have the best family ever.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Let them eat cake

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to bake a cake for a bake sale at church to raise money for a Sarcoma charity. Laura was with me at the time that I was asked and she laughed, knowing what my baking ability is like. Still I rose to the challenge. Well, semi-rose to the challenge. My good friend, Betty and I made this cake. I taught her everything she knows. The icing is a bit messy at the bottom but I'm sure it still tasted okay! And of course I didn't eat the left over icing straight from the tub....


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Playing with the Booths

Our friends Anna and Phil came to stay with us for the weekend. We were so excited about them coming down as they are two of our best friends from Lancaster. Being as though we used to hang out all the time when we lived there, we miss them a lot and it felt like we hadn't seen them for ages! In reality it's only been just over a month but it still counts!

On Saturday we went into London to play. Being as though we only live about 20 minutes train journey away from London, it had to be done. I love that we live so close to the city, it's so nice to have it all right on our doorstep. Since we moved we've actually only managed to get into London at the weekend a couple of times so it was nice to be there on Saturday with Anna and Phil. We wandered around London Bridge for a little while and they saw the area where Seth spent 9 weeks doing his internship (they moved office locations when he got the job so he now works in a different part of London). I love the area, it's very modern as there has been a lot of redevelopment and there are a lot of new offices and restaurants. I didn't take any of these photos but I love them so I thought I'd use them:
This was the office where Seth was based during his internship

Last year for our anniversary, I went down to London and Seth and I went for dinner at one of the restaurants there (you can just about see it behind the fountains in the top right picture). It had floor to ceiling windows and mirrors on every wall where there wasn't a window so regardless of where you were sitting, you could see Tower Bridge. I really loved it and I love the atmosphere of the area as well.

We headed over to Westminster to see Big Ben and then after that, to another one of my favourite areas of London - South Kensington. I always dream that I will live in one of the properties there but until we are billionaires, that's just not going to happen. Still, there's nothing wrong with dreaming! We ate lunch there and then headed in to the Natural History Museum. I think we were in there for a few hours, there is so much to see! We didn't do it all as it would have taken forever but we enjoyed taking it all in. I especially enjoyed the dinosaur exhibition, for some reason, it fascinates me. It also made me think of my niece, Tor and my friend, Naomi, who sing about dinosaurs and think that they should bring out Jurassic Park: The Musical. Those two are crazy when they get together! I took this photo of Phil while we were at the museum. It amused me. Yeah, I have the mentality of a 5 year old.
We could have stayed in London for longer but after we finished at the museum, we were all pretty tired so we decided to head home and get takeaway. We are all pretty indecisive people so it actually took a while to decide whether we would get Chinese or Pizza delivery.
We ended up going with pizza, which was very tasty too, I might add! We watched "Thor" while we ate. I've seen it before and I have to say, it's really not my type of film, but there is good eye candy so it makes it bearable!

On Sunday we went to church and then when we got home, we didn't really have that much time so we had lunch and then walked Anna and Phil to the train station. It was so lovely getting to see them again, we're looking forward to the next time already!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Coconut doughnuts and raspberry rolls

I had been looking forward to this weekend all week long. That is nothing unusual for me, I pretty much live for the weekends, even if we're not up to anything in particular. But this weekend, my sister Laura came to stay with us! Laura is two years older than me and we have always been really close. We seem to have a million in-jokes and we have so many amazing memories together. When we moved back down south I was looking forward to her and the rest of the family only being 2 and a half hours away, but no sooner had we moved than Laura got a job as a law lecturer in Liverpool and moved up north! And to think, the whole time we had been in Lancaster, she could have at least moved to Liverpool then, but no. It's okay though, we forgive her.

I was practically giddy with excitement on Friday at work and Laura was texting me regularly with updates of where she was. When I got the train home from work, she was at the station, ready to meet me as she had only arrived a little while before. Seth didn't get home until a lot later on, he works so hard, but we had fun, just us two girlies. We had dinner as we watched Strictly Come Dancing - It Takes Two (Mum, Laura and I are all Strictly addicts, it's so good! I want Holly Valance and Artem Chigvintsev to win). I asked Laura if she fancied anything for dessert. She was debating over it and when I suggested having raspberry rolls, although she'd not had them before she wanted to try them. So we ended up having raspberry rolls. Note the plural. They're nothing special, just mini sponge swiss roll-type things filled with raspberry sauce and vanilla cream.  Laura had 7 of them :), not that I can judge because I had 5! I think the funniest thing about it was that Lau kept saying how stuffed she was as she was reaching for another one. Chanchita! When Seth got home, we had a nice time together just catching up and talking. Seth gets on really well with my family and they love him too. We always say that he's Mum's favourite! He handles us very well, which isn't always easy as when we are all together, there are about 5 conversations going on at once with everyone talking over everyone else and yet, everyone there still somehow manages to keep track of each conversation and respond accordingly!

On Saturday, Seth couldn't come out to play with us - we were both giving talks at our church conference that evening and Seth had to work on that, so Laura and I went into Bromley to spend some time looking around there. Laura had been raving to me about a coconut doughnut from Greggs bakery and had described it to me in great depth so when she saw a Greggs, she suggested that we get one. I ended up getting a chocolate one, being the chocoholic that I am, although in hindsight, I wish I'd tried to coconut one, it looked delicious.

And you can see that Laura obviously thought so too!

We seemed to eat quite a lot on Saturday actually as we went for lunch while we were still in Bromley, then we went home, got Seth, drove to Maidstone for the men's part of the conference then we went into Maidstone and went to Caffe Nero for hot chocolates and a cake! In our defence, we did split our caramel slice. I miss Caffe Nero doing shots of coconut in their drinks, but a shot of almond is every bit as good, it tasted like liquid marzipan. Laura had a shot of banana in hers, but mine was nicer.

The conference was really good, all of the speakers spoke on really uplifting topics (we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - you can find out about what we believe on When it was finished, we went for dinner. It was nice for us both to be with Seth as well, being as though we didn't really get to see him much that day.

When we got home that night, we watched "Strictly Come Dancing". Well, I think Laura and I saw about two dances before we fell asleep :)

Sunday was good, we went to conference again and then when we got home we just had a fun afternoon and evening together playing games and eating grapes. We had to get the healthy element in there somewhere, especially after the gluttony of yesterday (although it was so good and more than worth it!). And we pretended to be grapes.

Yeah, we're weird like that.

I'm so glad that Laura didn't leave on Sunday night as we would have just been watching the clock the whole time to make sure she didn't miss her train. Instead, we got to enjoy the evening together. Even though it was Laura's Birthday on Monday, we gave her her present on Sunday evening as we knew it would end up being a bit of a rush. She has a million watches (not literally) but she actually wears all of them (not all at once) and so, what better present to get her than a watch? She was pretty pleased with it. We chose well!

On Monday morning, Laura came with us to the station and we said goodbye there as she got on the same train as Seth to take her into London to get the train back up to Liverpool. The weekend went by so quickly, but we had so much fun. We always do when we get together.