Monday, July 30, 2012

Thursday 26 July - Olympicnic!

Current location: Baker Street, London
11.11pm, In a pub in Baker Street, with a bag full of leftover picnic food. Today we had our annual work picnic in Regent's Park. Everyone brought home-made food, from pate and muffins to salads and meatballs (I made vol-au-vents). There was SO much food, and loads to drink too (including vodka jellies).

The weather was amazing so we parked up in the shade of a tree, put the bunting up then found a big space in the sun to play rounders. It's much nicer to be in the park than in work! I really like my colleagues so it was fab to hang out outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, rather than staring at a screen and talking about proofs.

As always, I'm not very good at going home when I'm having fun so, after the cricket, rounders, frisbee, and lots of eating and drinking, I ended up in the pub with the last few standing. Amazing picnic, one of my favourite days of the summer, and it didn't even feel like London.
(Pictures © Olivier Laurent aka Frenchy)

Sunday 22 July - An impromptu barbecue

Current location: Lee, London
11.11am, At netball training. After playing for a couple of hours in the sun, we finished at midday and Rianne (the fully qualified solicitor) suggested doing something to make the most of the beautiful weather. I suggested a barbecue at ours and so an hour later the netball girls turned up with sausages, buns, salad and beers. We were joined by two of my (non-netball) friends, Rochy and Jdog, and we all sat out for most of the afternoon, eating too much, burning a little and eventually going inside to play Monopoly until the early hours.I'm glad our garden is getting some use this summer (and some bunting-ifying) – it's so nice to have a garden when living in London, especially one that gets a fair bit of sun. Good work English summer, and good work netball girls!

Saturday 21 July - Catdog's birthday, 1 of 2

Current location: Kings Cross
11.11pm, Walking from a Thai restaurant to a pub. I managed to get back from Bridgwater in time to go out for Cat's birthday (which is next week but she gets two celebrations, like the Queen). We met for Thai food then carried on in a pub up the road but my tiredness got the better of me and I headed home before too long. Happy birthday (1 of 2), Catdog, my love. x

Saturday 21 July - A Higgins/Harrison meet-up

Current location: Somewhere near Bridgwater, Somerset
11.11am, In Matt's car on the way from Bridgwater station. Parts of the family were all arriving some time this morning to Matt (Claire's fiance)'s parents' house, so we can all meet and get to know each other a bit before the hen/stag/wedding. Their home is amazing, with a huge garden complete with swings, vegetables, flowers, hammocks and a massive lawn. We ate soooo much food, drank champagne, sat in the sunshine and chatted. Lovely!

Sunday 15 July - Back to Franks!

Current location: Peckham
11.11pm, In a pub, playing Taboo. Today is Gfox (our housemate)'s birthday so Andy, Katy, Gfox and I went paintballing this afternoon. I think the less said about that, the better, as it turns out I don't like paintballing. I spent the first two games hiding in a very dark corner counting down until it was over, and then I refused to carry on. What a party pooper. It wasn't the fear of getting hit, it was the being underground, in the dark, and trying to shoot people (I felt like I was in a war). Weird. Anyway after that, we headed home for a super-speedy change of clothes and went to Frank's bar in Peckham, where the sun was shining and the rum was flowing. Our friends Rozanne and Matt, who are Peckham locals, joined us too, then used their local knowledge to take us to an indoor pub when the sun went down and we got chilly. An amazing day with amazing people.

Saturday 14 July - Rianne qualifies!

Current location: Bromley
11.11pm, At Rianne's house. She's my ace and fun friend from netball but, as well as being small and cute, she's also a super-brain who this week became a fully qualified solicitor. A group of us went over to her rooftop terrace for a fab, funny house party and lots of drunken netball chat.

Saturday 7 July - A walk in the countryside

Current location: Lewisham
11.11am, Waking up and calling Sara to say happy birthday and see where she was. In record time Andy and I were up and on our way to Box Hill, a beautiful place in Surrey. I'd never heard of it but it's a lovely part of the countryside with a couple of pubs, a big hill and amazing views – the perfect place to go for a birthday walk. It's also the main venue for the road racing in the Olympics so there were a lot of cyclists out there. It was beautiful, very muddy and very different to London!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Saturday 30 June - A beautiful Swedish/Australian wedding

Current location: Söderköping, Sweden
11.11pm, Dancing in a barn. Which didn't look like a barn because it was so so beautiful.

Today was the day of Emma and Nick's wedding, which has come at the end of the most wonderful few days. After the lakeside hen party on Wednesday night, we all had a loooong walk back to where we were staying, through fields, paths, roads and along canals. As it didn't really get dark, it didn't feel like as late a night as it was. The next morning we were all a bit slow to get up but, once everyone had risen, we headed off in cars towards the sea. Then a boat took around 80 of us on a trip to an island. Despite the hangovers, we had an amazing day walking around the island, swimming in the sea (which was freeeeezing!), eating cinnamon buns, learning Swedish Midsummer dances and songs and generally feeling as though we were in a fairytale. This country is RIDICULOUS!

That evening was a fairly quiet one, with lots of sitting around, chatting, reading and an early night for most. The next day the group split up, with some looking around the village, others heading to the world-famous ice cream shop next door and others using the day to swim, relax and soak up the sun. Rochelle, Sha, Jdog and I went for a bike ride to a small village called Mem, which was about half an hour away along the canal. We saw some ducklings, saw people opening the locks on the canal and stopped for a drink in a really sweet little canal-side bar that had loads of cool artwork in and was surrounded by fields. Heading back for the evening, we were all pretty sleepy again so headed out for dinner then planned an early night. However, as there were about 30 of us staying in a villa, and lots of people normally live on opposite sides of the world so were excited to see each other, no early nights happened. Instead we stayed up late chatting, drinking, being silly and getting excited.

The next morning was beautiful and sunny. The wedding wasn't until 5pm (the beauty of hot weather!) so a few of us decided to head off to the shops and get some last-minutes additions to our outfits. Andy still hadn't arrived but I'd heard from him and he was on his way thanks to an overnight transit from the middle of Wales! A couple of hours of shopping later and we picked Andy up from the stattion. I was so pleased he'd made it; not just because I wanted to see him but because I'm glad he got to see all the lovely scenery and see all his friends again.

Soon, it was time to get ready and head over to the farmhouse where Nicklas grew up, which was the setting for their wedding. The sun was still shining and the farm was stunning; wild flowers, open fields, everyone in bright colours and very excited.

The wedding was wonderful. Emma looked absolutely beautiful, and her and Nick made the ceremony so personal, with music from their families including an incredible song sung by Em's sisters Holly, which had us all crying. Emma and Nick are two of the smiliest, sweetest people I have ever met and their love for each other was astounding. Everyone was grinning throughout the whole ceremony, which was in a wooded area near the barn, with a view of the fields in the background, and petals strewn all over the ground. So pretty!

After the vows and music was over, we went to the lawn to soak up the afternoon sun with a glass of champagne and, as the evening wore on, we all moved in to the barn to dance, hear the speeches and eat amazing paella. There were so many details and sweet little touches to this wedding, so much thought and hard work must have gone in to it, yet it somehow seemed very laid-back and natural.

I am majorly in love with Sweden now, thanks in huge part to the awesomeness of this wedding. Their friends were so lovely, the country is like a dream and the weather topped it all off. I'm super glad Andy got to come and share (some of) it with me too.

Pictures © Andy Lawrence and Johanna Forsell. Click on their names for loads more amaaaazing pictures from the week.