Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 23


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! 

Saturday, 22 October 2016

A Snapshot of Ireland


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

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.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 22

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! 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 21

ALWAYS Liz Lemon.
Anther week, another train-based Wonderful Wednesday. I'm looking forward to a return to the weeks where I can sit and leisurely draft my happy little catch up, rather than frantically tap out what I can remember on a train journey home when all I would like to do is shut my eyes (and try not to fall asleep only to end up in Kings Cross - I suppose that's one perk of tapping away on my phone! Look at that, I really am finding the happy here!) before getting home to spell check the bejeesus out of it, before hitting 'post'. Gah.

So without further ado, as Michelle would suggest, ON WITH THE WONDERFUL...

****

♥ Perfect cheesecake...even if I do say so myself. My brother and his girlfriend bought me an amazing new gluten free cookbook for my birthday, which I'd been wanting to buy for myself after hearing so many good things about it - Naomi Devlin's River Cottage Gluten Free. They came over to ours for dinner on Saturday (and stayed, because we finally have a guest room!) so I decided to bake something from the book in honour of the occasion. Long-term WW readers may have worked out that I definitely bring the sweet on these occasions, while the mister cooks up the tasty savoury options.

I decided to choose the blueberry cheese cake, pulling out all the stops myself by making the base from scratch rather than using gluten free digestives and even making it the night before to allow for extra chilling time. It did not disappoint. So much so that it disappeared in two sittings. Yums.



♥ Time with my brother... My brother and I have always been close but there were times growing up when I absolutely haaaated him, couldn't stand to be in the same room as him. So on those occasions the thought of inviting him over for dinner as we did on Saturday and to stay over would have been unthinkable. But our Saturday night was so much fun! I remember thinking (and I may have been slightly tiddly at the time but it still counts) that it was just so great to be getting along like the closest of friends, like adults (ha - says the 34 year old!) Does that even make sense? My brain is not working right now, it is late as I type this!

♥ Autumn walks... I walked into the town centre on Saturday morning to pop to the hairdresser and pick up a few last minute bits for dinner that evening. I had thought about getting the bus when I'd left earlier as it was drizzling slightly miserably and I needed to do a frantic pre-guests clean of the house, but when I stepped outside the skies were clear and blue, and there was a fresh cool breeze so I decided to walk home instead. I'm so glad I did. I walked through the park, which was full of joggers, dog walkers and kiddoes playing football. The trees are all just starting to turn and the leaves haven't started falling to such an extent that the paths are covered...there are still heaps of conkers lying around and the beginnings of leaf fall. I looked up as I walked along and couldn't resist snapping a photo. Gorgeous yellow canopy. Beautiful autumn day.



♥ Successful adulting... This could have been a really sad item but I'm turning it around and seeing the good in it - my aunt came over at the weekend and told us all about a little kitten that turned up on her doorstep. She has a dog, so can't really contemplate keeping it but she took it to the vet so that it could be checked for a microchip. Nothing was to be found and, with a heavy heart, she left it with the vet hoping that its owner would somehow track it down. She received a call from the vet at the end of the week saying that no one had turned up looking for the kitten and asking if she would consider re-homing it or knew of anything who would. She offered it to the mister and I and my goodness, we were so tempted! She sent a photo, which nearly broke my heart (the big kitteny paws!) but after much thought (we may even have chosen a name for it by this point! Sob!) and a very sensible discussion, we realised that we just couldn't have the kitten. It's not the right time.

♥ New slippers...I couldn't end on a sad kitten story (even if I did manage to turn it into a Good Thing) so I'll finish with the glorious news that I have some new slippers for winter 2016 - they're more of a slipper sock really, but they have a grippy underneath - I'm quite clumsy, need all the help I can get - and...wait for it...a fluffy white pom pom on the top of each one. Practical, warm and stylish.

That's it for this week, my lovelies. Short and sweet but I was determined to post something and not let work stress take over. That was the whole purpose of joining this happy little bunch in the first place!

♥ 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 and Laura - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight! 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Wonderful Wednesday 20

The fantastic Lizzy Stewart
This picture is everything I have wanted to do for the last week but alas, these last few weeks have been so incredibly busy at work...and the rest of October isn't looking like it's going to be any different. I'm using my commute home on Tuesday evening to type this post, so I am sorry if it's a little more rushed and typo-ridden than usual (the horrors of auto correct and a small screen!) I haven't had a chance to respond to all of the lovely comments left on my last post, which I always try to do, or comment on any of the wonderful posts in my Bloglovin - honestly, I usually save the wonderful wednesdays until the weekend to have a glorious wonderful-binge with my Saturday morning breakfast but this weekend there were just so many posts saved by the time I was able to take a look that I just couldn't face them. NOT GOOD at all.

I have managed to trawl my tired old brain for some of the highlights of the last week...not always easy when you're working really late and can only just about drag yourself onto a train and off again, before going to bed! Ok, so before all the tiny violins in the world start playing for me, on with the happy!

****

♥ American chocolate... Not all, mind, but one of my colleagues just returned this week from a trip to the States and brought back peanut butter M&Ms and salted caramel Hershey Kisses. Bad timing for my pre-Christmas healthy eating plan (I have to at least try!) but great news for my manic work-induced stress eating. I'm a conflicted soul but wow they're good.

♥ Return of the bobble hat... Tying into my recent excitement about the cooler weather but on Tuesday morning I was able to wear my hat to the station without overheating and managed to retain a straight fringe despite the (very pretty but very damp) early morning dew.

Also fitting into the 'yay the weather's infinitely cooler!' category but not specifically mentioned as they don't contribute to frizz-defying wonder - the snuggly hoodies I've dug out of boxes, the extra thick duvet we've replaced our lighter summer duvet with and setting the heating to come on just before we have to be up in the morning. So wonderful.

♥ Relaxing weekends...or at least Saturdays. This weekend, the mister and I popped up to Norfolk to visit his mum. We travelled up on Friday evening and I was really excited to discover that there's now a Leon and an Ed's Diner at Liverpool Street Station, both of which are excellent for gluten free options. I very virtuously ordered a falafel-based option at Leon (albeit swiftly negated by the side order of baked fries and the bag of Percy Pigs on the train) and was able to sit and enjoy it in plenty of time before our train arrived. 



Saturday was a day of glorious relaxation. Honestly, I've been like a coiled spring of stress over the last week, with shoulders up around my ears somewhere, but for the first time all week I had nothing to do and it was BLISS. I read my new issue of the Simple Things, drank lots of tea and even managed a quick meditation...although my mind wandered constantly throughout that so it wasn't the most successful option. I helped the mister make a roast dinner (strictly sous-chef I might add) before curling up in front of the TV with a few glasses of red wine. Of course, the benefits of all that were swiftly undone the following day thanks to a rail-replacement disrupted journey home and a nasty pushy woman on the tube. Not very wonderful Wednesday but ugh woman, don't give Londoners a bad name!

I couldn't end the weekend thoughts on that though, so here's a shot of the gorgeous evening light on Saturday evening and my mother in law's last blooming (blossoming?!) tomato plant. 


The beginnings of a bullet journal... Finally, I'm so excited to have started a bullet journal this month. I'd been planning to wait until the new year but with the next few months already proving to be quite busy and the wonder of this system meaning that you can pick it up at anytime, I decided to pick up a new notebook now (always exciting!) and dive right in. I'm really enjoying all the different possibilities and having laid out October already, have started thinking about what I'd like to do differently next month. There are so many beautiful bullet journals out there and while I don't think I'll ever have the time or patience to turn mine into such a work of art, it's making my stationery/planning/list-loving heart very happy indeed.

I hope you've all had wonderful 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 - SallyMichelleHelenKateJoEmmaSamantha and Kerri and the lovely Wonderful Wednesday newbies LauraSarahPeta and El (I thiiink that's everyone - do let me know if I've missed anyone!) - and then join me in counting down the days until the weekend. It's in sight!