On our last Thanksgiving in the US (until the next one we spend over here…) I am thankful for:
- My husband, for sharing his life with me and being an absolute rock of support and love
- My family, for their understanding, patience and support
- My friends, both those who I have grown to love dearly in Washington, DC and those I am returning to rekindle my friendships with in London
- All of you who read this blog and who chatter with me on Twitter and Instagram!
There are many more things I am thankful for, however for now I will keep it brief. Being reminded to think about all you have and all that it gives you is very special. I shall certainly try and bring this celebration back to the UK and to make sure I spend that one day thinking extra hard about all I have and how lucky I am to be where I am and surrounded by so many special people.
Sending good wishes your way, eat, drink, be merry and enjoy an afternoon nap if you can!
The time has come for us to return to London. We move back in January. Two months. In total we will have lived in the US for 27 months, during which we have experienced some of our toughest times and some absolutely wonderful times, we’ve met many amazing people who I hope will be lasting friends. It was absolutely the right decision to move here and experience this and now it feels like the right time to do the return journey.
There’s a lot to think about of course. Moving country is not easy, as we have learnt, even if you’ve lived there before. We’re going through another period of pretty big change and trying to work it all out again. We’re going back to something which is so familiar and yet viewed through a new perspective and I imagine possibly also so changed from what we left. I’m excited though, the new opportunities this brings, the friendships we can re-kindle, the city I love I get to live in again. London here we come…
Work took me to Australia in August, which was wonderful as it meant I got to see my sister and family. I also got to see koalas, wombats, kangaroos and all sorts of cute Australian wildlife.
I’ve always loved wombats, we had a book as children called “The Muddle Headed Wombat” which was one of my favourites growing up.
I started out in Brisbane, for a small city it has excellent shopping and is very picturesque with its river setting.
We managed to sneak away to the beach one day, J enjoyed throwing himself straight into the sea. I enjoyed watching my niece and nephew have fun in the sand and sea.
We also managed to get out into the bush, the sound of being woken by laughing kookaburras is really quite special. They’re also a beautiful bird and watching them, the parakeets and the cockatoos all flying around was fabulous.
I then headed over to Perth for the next part of my work trip. I was actually staying and working in Fremantle so didn’t get to see much of Perth but I did manage a trip along the Swan River to enjoy seeing the city and all the surrounds. Not a city I would rush to return to but I’m glad I went there.
One of the things I love about Australia is seeing all the plants that were in the books I grew up with. My mama is Australian and as Granny was in Australia she used to send us across Australian children’s books. “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie” was one of my favourite ever books and I still look at Banksia plants and see the evil Banksia men.
A very quick turn around after Australia and we were off again, this time heading home, to return to my home and see one of my best friends get married. It was a beautiful wedding and they were blessed with glorious weather. N did an amazing job organising it all with all the details carefully thought out and wonderfully bought to fruition.
I still feel very lucky that we were able to fly back for her wedding and were able to share that day with N and her husband. Plus of course it was lovely seeing both sets of parents and actually relaxing a little!
It’s my birthday tomorrow, another year passed already! This time last year J and I headed up to NYC for the weekend, for dinner at the Gramercy Tavern, a walk along the highline and general soaking up of NYC, it was really rather lovely.
This year we’re in Australia! Celebrating with my sister and her family. My brother-in-law shares the same birthday so it will be a double celebration tomorrow. I feel incredibly lucky to have spent my last two birthdays celebrating in different places to those I grew up in.
J and I were commenting only yesterday how lucky we are to travel so much, and we seem to have been given an extra dose of luckiness this year. A chance to see my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece now, opportunities to return to celebrate with bestest of friends in May and July and visiting a new country, South Africa, in June.
So tomorrow we shall be celebrating making it to the other side of the world, being with family and the passing of another year. I do wonder what the next year will hold but I feel hopeful for it. Hopeful that with J, my family and my friends at my side it’ll be a good year. Onwards dear friends, onwards.
We went to Northumberland over the memorial day weekend. A good friend of ours from university was getting married and we had the perfect excuse to travel back and enjoy some days in the UK.
I’d never been to Northumberland, sure I’ve visited places up north but not there. The train journey itself was fabulous, watching the sun set over the English countryside as we sped along. A good friend had been super organised and managed to get us £25 first class tickets which made the journey all the more fun.
Then we arrived, to the old country house hotel, where the beds were four poster and the bathrooms carpeted. Seeing old friends and meeting new.
One of the best bits was waking to this view…
The wedding itself was beautiful, the bride wore a vintage 1920’s dress, the location was a stunning English Heritage priory and the reception was held in a marquee overlooking the estuary and the coast. Then back to London on Sunday to enjoy time wandering that fabulous city for a few days together.
I think one day we’ll be back to this far flung corner of England. If nothing else just to see that view again.
Last weekend we went out exploring with a friend. We’ve been to a Virginia vineyard before, last summer, and thought it was about time for another trip. This time we headed further, out West to the beginnings of the rolling Shenandoah hills. It is just beautiful and peaceful out there. Lots of green, wide open spaces, no sirens, no car horns, relaxing.
We chose to go to DuCard vineyards on the basis that they had a singer performing that afternoon. The singer was Curtis Prince, he had a lovely voice and was playing the kind of songs you want to listen to on a warm spring afternoon with a glass of wine in your hand.
The vineyard is small but the setting is just lovely and the wines were good, plus as an added bonus a lot better than the ones we had tried last year. We especially enjoyed the rose and the Popham Run Red, both of which we bought a bottle of to enjoy at home.
If you ever are in that neck of the woods I would thoroughly recommend a visit, even without live music, a glass of rose on their patio with the sun gently warming you is well worth the effort.
In the last year three couples I know have divorced, two of which I went to their weddings and watched them do exactly what I did just over three years ago. It makes you think seeing your peers divorcing.
As a child I didn’t really see divorce, my parents are still married, coming up on 38 years in May, all my friends’ parents were still married. There was one of my mama’s friends who had divorced but I didn’t really understand it, she had always been that way to me and there was nothing odd about it. Then at 13 one of best friends told me her parents were getting a divorce, her dad had been having an affair. She didn’t talk about it much, alluded to it now and then but mostly in passing and her mum seemed to take it incredibly in her stride. I remember knowing that this woman was strong and respecting her for what she put up with and how she dealt with it.
Then the years ticked by and marriage became something my friends talked about, that I talked about with J, that we eventually embarked upon. We all knew about divorce of course but I think that it was more of an idea than a reality.
And so these three couples have been a slight shock, bringing it home that divorce is a reality. I don’t know what the statistics are these days but I know I have heard figures bandied around between 30 – 50% of marriages end in divorce. I suspect in a majority of these cases the divorce was the ‘right’ thing. That looking back both parties will appreciate that what they did was what they needed. I’ll be interested to talk to my friends in a few years and see what their thoughts are.
In the meantime I shall hope I can be there for them when they need, and I shall hug J just that little bit tighter tonight and be very grateful that he and I both still want to be in this together.
I know a lot of people are doing these posts and I’m late but selfishly I want to do one, if only so I can look back and say, yes, 2011 was the year I…
Came back to the US in January after an amazing holiday and realised that this was for real, that we lived here and that I needed to get on with it and *be* here
Found a job which I really like, after taking a temping job to get me back in the swing of things
Returned to the UK in May for a wonderful wedding and an amazing time with good friends
Experienced my first ever DC summer, quite the sticky humid experience. But lovely too to get a summer! I think I even got a bit of a tan
Returned to the UK with J for four weeks, seeing my mama and papa and sisters (both the one from Oz and the one in the UK) and all my nieces and nephews
A quick about turn in the US then back to the UK for five and a half weeks without J, that was hard
Our first Christmas together and then a visit from J’s parents to celebrate New Year
We hosted our first house party in the US and it was good! At least we enjoyed ourselves 😉
This was an odd year for holidays, we went abroad but we didn’t ever really go somewhere just the two of us and relax. I did my first trip to Massachusetts and also ticked off Nevada, Arizona and California. We went back to the UK and as much as it is wonderful being back it can be a little stressful, I’m sure those of you who live away from family will know how hard it can be catching time with everyone and squeezing as much as possible out of the given time.
It’s been a good year in the main, three good friends getting married, four good friends getting engaged, pregnancies being announced and lots going on. I feel good about 2012 though. More so than I did about 2011. Partly I’m more settled in the US, much happier here than I was before, I have good friends here now and a good job. Things with J are stronger, working through everything has built more solid foundations for continuing to build our lives together.
I’m hoping therefore that 2012 can be perhaps a more fun year, one with a little travel, one with some entertaining, one with friends old and new. Without some of trials we came through at the beginning of last year to face and overcome.
Being away from home and without your own kitchen makes it hard to cook so I am enjoying very much staying with friends who are allowing me into their kitchen. I find cooking very therapeutic and also appreciate knowing what I’m actually eating. So it has been rather wonderful to be able to cook up a storm again.
On Sunday J and I cooked a roast for our friends, with a wonderful silverside of beef from The Ginger Pig (one of my favourite places in London), we did all the trimings, roasties, yorkshires, gravy and of course veg. It was rather yummy if I do say myself. Then I whipped up an apple and berry crumble. Not being able to get Bramley apples in America it’s a treat to cook with them again.
Yesterday in need of something lighter I made a smoked mackerel pate (so simple, smoked mackerel, cottage cheese and creme fraiche all whipped together with a fork then add lots of pepper, a squeeze or two of lemon juice and a splash of tabasco) and we had that with salad.
Tonight, is one of my favourite dishes, Coq au Riesling. Courtesy of Nigel Slater and his real food cookbook. I’m not a chicken fan but this is well, wonderful really.
Sorry there’s no pictures, I’ve really been cooking for the joy not the blog. Perhaps tonight I’ll take a few and I will share that recipe because if you’ve never made it before you should, it’s delicious.
I’m back in the UK and realised I’ve been a little AWOL. So a short apology for my absence, I’ve been catching up with friends, seeing family and working too, things will go back to normal soon I’m sure and then I’ll be back. In the meantime some apples from my parents back garden, yummy juicy, sharply sweet apples. x