Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday 30 December - Forever friends...

Current location: Hayle, Cornwall
11.11am, In the car with Andy and Lily on our way to Kate's house for a coffee. Kate, Lily, Emma, Hannah and I were very close friends at school (Kate I've known for 21 years; the others for about 14 years) and we've managed to all stay in touch and meet up whenever we're all in Cornwall together. They're ace girls and it's always brill to see what everyone is up to and catch up on the news. They're ace!

(Picture borrowed from Lily, taken when we all went to dinner just before Christmas. L-R: Me, Kate, Emma, Lily, Hannah.)

Wednesday 29 December - New Year's Eve Eve Eve

Current location: Truro, Cornwall
11.11am, Sales shopping in Truro, where I wanted to get something for New Year's Eve. And get something, I did. A spangly, sparkly dress, which will go perfectly with my false eyelashes and is sure to get me in the party mood. 49 hours and counting...

Tuesday 28 December - The terrific twos

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11pm, At Pippa's house, with a gin and tonic and some rubbish TV. We'd been to hers as today is the 2nd birthday of my amazing nephew, Zac. He's a sweetheart and we had a fun afternoon of playing, opening presents, eating cake and watching Surf's Up (Vinny's favourite film, and now one of Andy's favourites too). In some ways I can't believe Zac is only two, but in other ways it seems so recently that he came into our lives. Happy Birthday Zac!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday 27 December - Let the games continue!

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11pm, Playing board games with my family. Kate, Jim and baby Ella arrived earlier in the night from London and, once we'd caught up on the gossip, eaten copious amounts of curry and put Ella to bed, we settled in the lounge to test our games skills with Taboo and Mr & Mrs. All was well until Kate got out the University Challenge quiz book she got for Christmas, which is way too far beyond my limited quiz capabilities.

(Image 'Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love' by Caseywasey, taken from WeHeartIt).

Sunday 26 December - The tradition of Boxing Day

Current location: Relubbus, Cornwall
11.11pm, In the Johns household, pouring myself another sloe gin.
Four years ago on Boxing Day, a few friends and I went to the (beautiful and lovely) house of another friend, Jack Johns. I've known him since I was 11 and he has become a very special friend in my life. Anyway, unbeknownst to us, going to their house that day sparked off what I hope is to become a very long-standing tradition. Boxing Day at the Johns house is now something of a Christmas staple, where you can expect ham, gin and lots of very-competitive games, namely Articulate. Sally and Mac Johns are brilliant hosts and I'm already looking forward to next year's Boxing Day party!

Pictures from last year's soiree, taken by Andy.

Saturday 25 December - Christmas Day!!

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11am, Opening presents!!!! We were all huddled in lounge around the Christmas Tree, with various presents draped over us (mainly scarves and hats), eating chocolates and waiting for our neighbours and the Pyrah family to turn up. Such a joyous day; everything that Christmas should be, but even better thanks to the excitement and joy of my two little nephews.

Coincidentally, this is also my 200th post since I began this blog. I've been wondering how long I should keep it going for now that I am no longer living the life of luxury in Berlin, but I guess Christmas Day isn't the day to decide!

Merry Christmas everyone!

(Ps, Thanks to *Overthinking for the image, 'A Touching Christmas Day' on Weheartit.)

Friday 24 December - If you go down to the woods today...

Current location, The Woods, Cornwall
11.11am, In Trevaylor Woods with Pip, Jo, Andy, Mum, Dad, Vinny and Zac. They are beautiful woods just a little out of town and I absolutely love it there. I hadn't been for years, since I used to camp there occasionally as a teenager, but Vinny was convinced we had to go and build a sleigh for Santa there. So we did, all made out of various bits of forest.

Image © The Cornwall Guide

Thursday 23 December - Tom Bawcock's Eve

Current Location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11pm, In the Dock Inn pub in Penzance, celebrating Tom Bawcock's Eve. Tom Bawcock was a resident of Mousehole, a fishing village near Penzance and, as the legend goes, he saved the village from famine back in the olden days!

Now there is a festival celebrating him on 23rd December and we go every year. Though, traditionally, we should celebrate in Mousehole, the Dock Inn in Penzance is full of fisherman singing sea shanties and Cornish carols, and it's become a ritual to go there every 23rd December, eat mince pies, drink Rum and Shrub (a delicious alcoholic cordial) and sing our little hearts out. It's one of the things I really look forward to about Christmas and, this year, it was made even better by the fact that Andy arrived so we could enjoy it together!

The image is of the Tom Bawcock's celebrations in Mousehole, from this blog: check it out as it also explains a lot about the origins and traditions of the festival.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday 22 December - I can see clearly now...

Current location: Truro, Cornwall
11.11am, In Truro doing the last bits of Christmas shopping and getting fitted for my new glasses. Yes, my first pair of glasses. I went to the optician yesterday for the first time in nine years and, apparently, one eye is pretty useless. Not to worry though, the other eye is making up for it by being bionic and super-duper.

So now I have to wear glasses for TV/computers/driving. I chose the pair above (though in tortoiseshell) but, unfortunately, the two cool versions of being bespectacled (geek chic and sexy secretary) seem to have totally bypassed me. So now I look like a crossed between a mum and a massive nerd.

Tuesday 21 December - Skulls and beaks

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11pm, Up on a hill above my house with my mum, checking out Montol Eve, which is the pinnacle of the Montol Festival.

It's ok, you're not expected to know what that is. I have lived in Penzance on and off for 25 years, and I still don't really understand what it's about. All I know is that on 21 December (midwinter), lots of scary-looking revellers join in a procession through town that ends at the hill fort behind our house. They wear masks with beaks, and there are horse's skulls, fires that are called 'Sun Resplendents', Cornish dancing and many other 'traditional' customs. Cornwall is a strange place sometimes!

For more info on the Montol Festival, click here. Image © The Druid Grove of Bega.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday 20 December - All wrapped up

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11am, Wrapping presents. I am nearly all finished with my Christmas shopping, although I do have to go back and re-buy a couple since I found out the recipients in question already own what I bought them! I don't know if that makes me very tuned in to their tastes or very unimaginative!

Browsing for wrapping ideas today, I saw these lovingly wrapped gifts on a blog called Laikonik. It's a blog about creativity, Polish folk art and traditions, and I just think it's so sweet, especially the wrapping ideas, which seem quite Scandinavian-inspired to me. I wish I had wrapped my presents like this now, but I opted for bright, sparkly hot pink and gold!

If you want to wrap your presents like the beautiful ones above, simply click here, where Kasia (the writer of the blog) has explained everything in step-by-step detail. Good luck!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday 19 December - Sunday Run-day

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11pm, Collapsed in front of the TV, without that Sunday night feeling. I had such a productive day (well, productive for a Sunday), which started off with me going to 9am mass, followed by a three-mile run (very impressive for me; I hate running) with Mum and then wrapping of my Christmas presents at Lily's house.

The run was actually really fun; Mum persuaded me to go and I was a bit worried as she is super-fit (she is in a running club and looks/acts about half her actual age) but we went on a really beautiful route and I enjoyed the exercise. We ran along the seafront towards Marazion (though we didn't make it all the way to Marazion) and the sun was shining. Lovely! My legs are aching now though.

The image is of the beach that we ran alongside, and was taken by Andy two years ago. The route that Mum and I ran today was actually the same route that Andy and I walked on Boxing Day 2008 when we had only just met; I think it was the first time we ever spent time on our own, and the area holds lovely memories of Christmas and love and joy. And now running and aching legs.

Saturday 18 December - Seal the deal

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11am, In the hairdresser's, getting a new do for Christmas. I haven't been to a 'real' hairdresser for about a year, instead relying on haircuts from friends and home-dye jobs. The result is some pretty bad-condition hair and a telling off from my miracle-working hairdresser. An hour or two later and I was chopped, blonded and conditioned.

In the afternoon, Mum, Dad and I went for a walk at Godrevy. It was such a beautiful day – bitterly cold but stunning and sunny – and we saw seals at the cove (all the things on the beach in the picture are seals!). If you look over the cliff, any time of year, you can almost always see the seals, but it was only a year or two ag0 that Mum told me this place existed. I love Cornwall!

Image © Flickr/Gwithian

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday 17 December - Little donkey, little wonky, with your missing leg...

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11pm, Fixing Christmas. Dad decided to mend the things that boisterous grandchildren/drunk aunties/years of overuse have broken over the decades. We tend to hoard our Christmas decorations, so we currently have about 30 years' worth on the tree at the moment.

One of the casualties of Christmas was the donkey from our nativity scene; it has had a broken leg (well, no leg at all) since I was born, but Dad decided to do the right thing and fix it. So now it has a wooden leg!! He failed to notice its missing ear, but I guess it gives him a project for next year.

I had such a lovely day – I met my friend Tom Sidney and we had liqueur coffees and Christmas-flavoured pasties. Feeling so festive and excited for Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday 16 December - All around the world

Current location: Everywhere!
11.11am, Checking out the statistics on this blog. Being a lover of travel and other countries, I was particularly interested in where the traffic to this site has been coming from...

Since I started this blog, back on 28 June this year, I've had my biggest followings from the UK, Germany and Australia. Not surprising, since I've lived in all those countries. Other high-ranking countries include the US, Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Spain and Canada. Again, probably attributed to the fact that I have friends in those countries.

But what has been pretty awesome is the number of hits I have had from countries such as Russia, Japan, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Indonesia, India, Slovenia, Sweden, Greece, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Malaysia – places I have very little or no connection with.

Thank you to everyone that finds a small amount of time to visit my blog and see what I've been up to. I hope that, wherever you're reading this from, you're enjoying it... And please feel free to comment and let me know which country you're from or if I've left your country out!

The beautiful pictures are (from top to bottom):
Be my rescue,
I don't know where we're going now,
a hearts a heavy burden and
im gonna travel around the world...

All taken from weheartit (we sure do!).

Wednesday 15 December - Late-night shopping

Current location: Truro, Cornwall
11.11pm, On our way back from Truro, a small 'city' about 40 minutes up the road from Penzance. It's a bit of a tradition to go there every year for late-night shopping so Mum, Pippa and I hopped on a train and headed up north.

After an early dinner and wine, we hit the shops, helped along by an obligatory glass of mulled wine and a brass band playing Christmas carols. Such an exciting, festive atmosphere!

All was well until we tried to get home; whichever trains weren't cancelled were delayed by over an hour, so we had a long, cold wait at the train station.

(Image taken from Christmas Portal4U)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday 14 December - Love-ing life

Current location: Penzance, Cornwall
11.11am, Figuring out my route to go and pick up my nephews from nursery on the other side of town. On the way there, I met my sister (their mum) and she showed me a shortcut through a beautiful little off-road called Love Lane. I'd often driven past Love Lane but never walked down it, and it really is as lovely as it sounds. Although I've never forgotten how beautiful my hometown is, I'm really appreciating being back to soak it all up.

Also, you may or may not have noticed that I have now added my current location to the top of this blog. Seeing as how much I move around at the moment, I thought it might be a useful addition!

(Image of Love Lane from Flickr/rx8wej)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday 13 December - Auntie Lucy

11.11pm, Playing with my nephew, Zac (left). He is almost two and the sweetest little boy I have ever met. He's full of smiles and has big beautiful eyes. A couple of hours later I went to pick up my other nephew Vinny, who chats a-mile-a-minute (and yet still calls me a chatterbox!) and is so much fun. Today consisted of me teaching him a Welsh accent (to go with the Northern and Australian accents he has already perfected), running the whole way to the park and then making pretend salads for each other (I'd have preferred a pretend burger, but I'm on a pretend diet), dressing the two of them up as Superman, complete with bubble-wrap capes, making 100 homemade Christmas cards, giving a lot of piggy backs and generally loving being an auntie.

Sunday 12 December - Eat pray love

11.11am, Sitting in church with my mum, sister, uncle and auntie, feeling tired and laughing at my mum trying not to be a bad Catholic. She was pretty hungover but couldn't complain too much as she had dragged us all to church with her, so smiled sweetly and sung hymns and no doubt prayed for the mass to be over quickly. I was brought up Catholic by my parents (mainly Mum) and went to a Catholic primary school in Penzance. Though I don't really go to church anymore, it's nice to go when I'm back home in Cornwall...

The image is not actually of the church I go/went to, (which is called the Church of the Immaculate Conception) but it's an old postcard of a nearby church in Gulval. I just think it's a cool postcard; taken from

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday 11 December - Let's party like it's 2010!

11.11pm, At my mum's 60th birthday party! My mum, one of the world's finest people, reaches the grand old age of 60 on Monday so she organised a big party to celebrate. At one time in her life, about 10 years ago, reaching 60 wasn't a given. It was a scary time, but she was super brave and vowed that, if she got to 60, she would throw a huge party. She got back to full health and has reached 60 in the finest style. She is uber-fit, uber-fun and uber-fantastic and she really sparkled at her party.
We (the women) hopped in a hot-pink limo first, which drove us all around Penzance, even stopping off for a pre-party cocktail. It was hilarious and so much fun (I'd never been in a limo before but now I think it's my transport of choice) and got us all in the party mood.
The party was so much fun; lots of new and old faces, laughter, heaps of eating and drinking, some speeches, some presents and, all in all, much joy.

Ps, Top picture = My mum and dad. Check out Dad's sparkly suit... It's Versace, don't you know?!
Second picture down = My sisters, Mum and I. L-R: Claire, Me, Mum, Pippa, Kate. How beautiful are they?!

Friday 10 December - Remember the train times?

11.11pm, On the train. My sister Kate and I had a six-hour journey to Penzance from London, which, in theory, should have been really boring. But we pimped our journey with wine, the best picnic and movies (well, Summer Heights High; Kate is a new convert!), and it went so fast and was super-fun!
And when we arrived home at 1am, Claire was there waiting for us. Let the family times begin!

(Picture taken from Boys Colouring Pages)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday 9 December - The festive season continued

11.11pm, Having our house Christmas party! I'm heading home, back to Cornwall tomorrow evening so it was our last night in London together before Christmas. Ruth and Nicky met me after work in Exmouth Market, one of my favourite places in London and only 20 minutes-ish' walk from our house. We wrapped up very warm, had a peruse around the festively decorated shops, helped ourselves to some free mince pies, indulged in a glass of wine (and a freebie glass of champers!), bought a Christmas present or two, then walked home to make halloumi and mushroom burgers, washed down with a gin and ginger.

(Image taken from

Wednesday 8 December - Pedal power

11.11am, Being very proud of myself for cycling in to work! It's the first time I've done it since buying the bike about a month ago, and I've really missed riding. I used to ride almost everywhere by the time we left Berlin, because it was so much easier and faster to cycle there than to use public transport. But, since being in London, I've taken to walking to and from work. It's nice exercise and a fab way to get to know the city but, seeing as it's an hour's walk each way, I sometimes get very tired legs!
So it was a pleasure to be riding again, and not half as scary as I thought. Because I'm riding in rush hour in Central London, it's actually pretty slow, but an improvement on the hour, for sure.

Image of Boris' Bikes taken from Bike Sharing Blogspot. It's a super scheme that Boris Johnson has introduced; these bikes are all over the city and you can hire them for super-low rates: £1 for 24 hours, £5 for 7 days, £45 for a year. I'm genuinely really proud of London for having this scheme!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuesday 7 December - Mexican food with a Scouser (who is actually from Wales)

11.11pm, Walking Bethan to the bus stop after a yummy dinner that saw all of us (Ruth, Nicky, Jack, Bethan and I) tucking into quesadillas, my speciality. Andy taught me to make them when he used to come and visit me in Liverpool (the last chapter of my life; well, the chapter before Berlin, I guess) and so, for that reason, I always associate them with the 'Pool. Which is kind of relevant, as Bethan is my friend from Liverpool too – we met at Spanish class when we were both going through a midlife crisis and wanted to make new friends!

(Picture taken when Bethan came to visit me in Berlin)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday 6 December - Bedtime?

11.11pm, Getting convinced not to go to bed. That's the problem – and blessing – with living with some of my best friends...there's always so much fun to be had! I remember it being the same when I was at uni. I love this time of my life so much. I also love going to bed though.

Ps, What do you think of this bed, from Shawn Lovell Metalworks? I can't decide if it's amazing or awful. My nephew Vinny would love it; he loves 'tree tunnels', when the trees grow over the road and join together in the middle...

Sunday 5 December - Decoration station

11.11pm, Decorating our home! Ruth, Jack and Nicky bought a Christmas tree today and we turned on the Christmas music, put the mince pies in the oven and opened the Christmas box. Out came the baubles, tinsel, lights and glitter. So exciting and festive!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saturday 4 December - The hostess with the mostess

11.11pm, At Emma's housewarming/mulled wine evening in Brentford. Her and Brodie have lived in their gorgeous home for a few months now but haven't celebrated it yet, so thought Christmas would be the perfect time to start the celebrations. We arrived to be greeted with mulled wine, mince pies, Emma in reindeer horns and a lot of people I hadn't seen in years.

Much hilarity followed, including various games featuring spoons, pans and cereal boxes, laughter, a burger, stolen Pringles, a flat air bed, some red bull, a split lip, Sam Kenward (shout out), Catdog my favourite bedmate, a bad man, Rocky, Maden's gossip and late-night chocolate eclairs.

Here are a small selection of the 600+ photos of Emma and I that are currently circulating Facebook... We've known each other for over six years now and I am super lucky to have her in my life, even if she is a little over-familiar with tie-dye. Great party Em and Brodie, can't wait for the next one!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday 3 December - Friday night drinks

11.11pm, Still in the pub after popping out for one post-work drink. I love Friday evenings and the amazing feeling that comes with it, so I was only too happy when a friend from work suggested a drink. A red, white, Winter Pimm's and beer later and I was on the bus home (I did actually remember to get off this time!) where Ruth, Jack and toast awaited. I love weekends!

(Picture of our local pub, The Clachan, taken from The Good Pub Guide).

Thursday 2 December - Covering ground

11.11pm, In an amazing pub with my friend Emily. The pub is called Gordon's Wine Bar near Charing Cross and it was, quite simply, awesome. It's the oldest wine bar in London and Rudyard Kipling used to live in the building above. We sat in this underground bit and made friends with some men who were on a Christmas meet-up in full festive jumpers. Emily was on top form and we had heaps of fun.

On the way home (after maybe one wine too many) I got on the bus and waited patiently for my stop...which never came. I ended up in Newington Green where I was told it was the end of the bus route and the driver was at the end of his shift. Bugger. However, the lovely bus driver took pity on me (I must have looked like a Cornish hillbilly) and dropped me home. Aren't people kind?

(Picture taken from The Purple Passport)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday 1 December - A piece of cake

11.11pm, Trying to warm up as lots of icy snow fell outside. I'd been to meet a good friend for coffee and cake (well, coke and cupcakes) and decided to walk the hour-long route home. It was lovely and refreshing, but oh-so-chilly.

I'd met my friend Lucy at The Hummingbird Bakery in Soho, just around the corner from where I work, literally. The cakes there are ridiculously good, and I opted for the Black Bottom, which is a dark chocolate sponge with a cheesecake centre and cream cheese frosting. It was, quite possibly, the best cake I've ever eaten.

And the company was pretty good too; Lucy is a fellow sub-editor, and she makes her living through freelancing for some pretty awesome magazines. I met her when she came to do some work at Candis while I was still there, and she has remained a firm friend (do I mean that? Is that a phrase? Maybe I mean a firm favourite. Or a good friend…?!) ever since.

Anyway, she's hot stuff and is even more glowing than usual as she is 13 weeks pregnant! (Yesterday was little Scampi's 13-week birthday, in fact. You could say we were eating cake to celebrate that.) Not content with work, babies and a buzzing social life, Lucy also runs a super-duper fashion blog called It's a Look. And, yes, it's definitely worth a look. (Plus it features an extra-special blog post. So that's good.)

(Pictures © The Hummingbird Bakery and Lucy Parley, respectively.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday 30 November - Heading down to Chinatown

11.11pm, Vegging out on the coach, after overeating. Ruth and Nicky were near where I worked, just as I was leaving, so we had an impromptu meet-up. We took refuge from the snow (yippee!) with a red wine in a lovely little pub and then decided to head to Chinatown for our dinner. A bit naughty but very delish. Like true Brits, we settled ourselves in an 'all-you-can-eat' buffet, and stuffed ourselves silly with all sorts of mushrooms, rice, chow mein, sweet and sour, sweet potato, prawns and unidentifiable meat. Yummo.

(Image of Chinatown taken from The Latest)