Tag Archives: British

Trivia Questions for Facetime Trivia Night!

Skype Trivia

If you are sitting at home bored in isolation I highly recommend throwing a virtual trivia night with friends and/or family. This has become the thing we look forward to each week as we wait for life to return to normality and has been so great for lifting the spirits!

If you’re long distance it can also be a great 2-player game to play with your significant otter 😉

Below is a list we came up with of general fact, geography, food, funny, film and tv, and 90’s pub quiz questions – perfect to use for a Facetime or Skype trivia night with friends during lockdown (or anytime!).

You may notice we especially love Big Bang Theory, Harry Potter, Inbetweeners and food! There are also many Canadian and UK-themed questions as we were playing with friends from both places. The great thing is you can find or create questions to suit those playing so feel free to use our quizzes or use some for inspiration in creating your own!

*FaceTime and Skype each allow you to have video with 6 people at a time. WhatsApp allows 4. FaceTime also allows up to 50 people on a call (without video enabled) and has worked really well for us. This is the most fun we’ve had in isolation – it’s been such a good laugh and I hope it will be for you too.

Try it!

TRIVIA QUIZ 1

1. What is used to flavour Earl Grey tea? A: Bergamot
2. Which 2007 Hollywood film (the 3rd in its series) was the most expensive ever made? A: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
3. Which UK food brand has not changed its packaging since 1881? A: Lyle’s (golden syrup)
4. Which country eats the most pizza (per person ratio)? A: Norway
5. The highest grossing painting ever sold was called ‘Salvador Mundi’ – who painted it? A: Picasso
6. Which small black and white mammal known to Africa, Asia and India doesn’t give a damn? A: Honey badger
7. Who is the richest person in the world and what company do they own? A: Jeff Bezos – Amazon
8. Which character was the first to go missing on ‘Stranger Things’? A: Will
9. What was the first team to ever win the FA cup? A: Wanderers
10. What spell does Harry cast on Draco in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince? A: Sectum Sempra
11. What is the highest rated film on IMdB? A: The Godfather
12. What is the most expensive herb to buy? A: Saffron
13. Which country celebrates the ‘Monkey Buffet Festival’ which includes giving fruit and vegetables to the local monkey population? A: Thailand
14. Which country has the highest number of female doctors? A: Finland
15. What is the hottest pepper in the world in Scoville Units? A: The Carolina Reaper
16. How many wives did King Henry the 8th have? A: 6
17. Which Bond actor suited up as a Stormtrooper for the Star Wars film ‘The Force Awakens’? A: Daniel Craig
18. What does the computer tech term ‘CPU’ stand for? A: Central Processing Unit
19. Nanaimo bars – a chocolate, custard and coconut tray bake – are named after Nanaimo in which Canadian province? A: British Colombia
20. What swims 1/8th of an inch per hour? A: Sperm
21. Who wrote Winnie the Pooh? A: A.A. Milne
22. Which famous person has been likened to the North American snack of ‘Cheetos’ and is sometimes referred to as a ‘man baby’? A: Donald Trump
23. What sport has been played on the moon? A: Golf
24. “You go Glen Coco!” is a quote from which teen movie? A: Mean Girls
25. What is the longest running tv series in the world? A: The Simpsons
26. ‘Heroes in a half shell’ is the tagline for what 80s/90s tv series? A: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
27. The French ‘Coq au Vin’ translates to what culinary dish? A: chicken in wine
28. What is the main ingredient in gin? A: Juniper berries
29. What food chain has the most locations globally with 42,998 locations? A: Subway
30. What is the most sexually active nation in the world? A: Greece
31. What is ‘Lord Hereford’s Knob’? A: A mountain (in Wales)
32. Which actress appeared in Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice and The Duchess? A: Kiera Knightley
33. What was the name of Ed Sheeran’s first single released in 2011? A: The A Team
34. Since the 70s what food is generally eaten in Japan on Christmas Day? A: KFC
35. What does the word ‘Brobdingnagian’ mean? A: large, big, enormous etc,.
36. What Inbetweeners character says: ‘I thought it was a fart sir!’ A: Will
37. In which country did the Michelin Star rating system originate? A: France
38. ‘Takeout woman’ could be considered the opposite name of which classic arcade game? A: Pac Man
39. What is the main ingredient in a frittata? A: Eggs
40: Doc Brown is a character from what iconic 80s film? A: Back to the Future

TRIVIA QUIZ 2

1. Who was the first person to swim the English Channel? A: Captain Matthew Webb
2. In what year was the first Harry Potter film released? A: 2001
3. In what country do they hold a tomato food fight in the streets every August? A: Spain
4. What hugely popular 90s toy involved cleaning up virtual poo? A: Tamagotchi
5. George Bailey is the main character of which classic Christmas film released in 1946? A: It’s A Wonderful Life
6. Which pancake-like relative of the shark could be described as a ‘majestic sea flaf flap?’ A: Stingray
7. What is the most common flavour of pie served at Canadian Thanksgiving? A: Pumpkin Pie
8. What is the next word in this line from the 2001 movie Shrek – ‘Please don’t stand on the grass, wipe your shoes, wipe your _______ ?’ A: Face
9. What is the name of the ancient network of trade routes established during the Han Dynasty between 130 BCE and 1453 CE? A: The Silk Road
10. The most expensive commercial ever made was a 2004 commercial featuring Nicole Kidman and cost 33 million. What product was it advertising? A: Perfume (Chanel No. 5)
11. An orchidometer is a medical instrument used to measure what part of the body? A: Testicles
12. What does the tech/photography term JPEG stand for? A: Joint photographic experts group
13. In 2018 which country launched the most vegan products, knocking Germany out of the top spot? A: United Kingdom
15. Which Inbetweeners character tells Will he won’t be known as ‘briefcase mong’ anymore but will be known as ‘The Lion, The Witch and Speccy Kid who Shit Himself.’? A: Jay
16. ‘Tagine’ refers to both a type of stew and a cooking vessel in which country? A: Morocco
17. Who was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic ocean? A: Amelia Earhart
18. In what city did Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches originate? A: Philadelphia, USA
19. What are the names of 3 of the 5 D-Day beaches? A: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword
20. What is the smallest bird species in the world? A: Hummingbird
21. Which Star Wars character famously shouted ‘It’s A Trap!’? A: Admiral Ackbar
22. Which football player has scored the most goals in the English Premier League? A: Alan Shearer
23. Who was the first president of the United States? A: George Washington
24. Which chocolate confection has the provocative trademarked tagline: ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.’? A: M&M’s
25. In January 2018 one of the many slang words added into the Oxford English Dictionary includes a word which crosses something found in a baby’s diaper with a violent weather event – what is the slang word? A: Poonami
26. What is the only animal in the world where the male gives birth? A: Seahorse
27. The tradition of afternoon tea was introduced by the Duchess of which British place? A: Duchess of Bedford
28. What does Harry Potter say when travelling by floo powder for the first time after Mrs. Weasley instructs him to ‘speak very clearly?’ A: Diagonally
29. The first hot air balloon flight launched from which city? A: Paris, France
30. What was the first animated film ever released by Disney? A: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
31. Who wrote Moby Dick? A: Herman Melville
32. This species of penguin is known for its striking blue eyes and though it is one of the smallest breeds of penguins is known to be the most fearless – basically, who is the Chuck Norris of penguins? A: Adelie
33. Which country exports the most coffee? A: Brazil
34. What movie is the following quote from: ‘I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR’? A: Elf
35. What are the last names of all 4 of the main male Big Bang Theory characters? A: Raj Koothrapali, Howard Wolowitz, Leonard Hofstadder, Sheldon Cooper
36. What is the name of the region of the North Atlantic where a number of ships and aircraft have disappeared? A: The Bermuda Triangle
37. Finish this Lord of the Rings quote: ‘One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and _______________? A: In the darkness bind them
38. Can you name 1 of the 2 countries in the world where you will NOT find Coca-Cola? A: Cuba, North Korea
39. Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote which famous series of books for kids which features an orphan girl? A: Anne of Green Gables
40. This animal features in a 1953 Christmas song and while its name is derived from the Greek word for ‘river horse’ a more apt description might be ‘angry river cow’ – what animal is it? A: Hippopotamus

TRIVIA QUIZ 3

1. What is the tallest mountain in the UK? A: Ben Nevis
2. Which British politician said “Champagne should be dry, cold and free?” A: Winston Churchill
3. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum in which Indian city? A: Agra
4. Ben & Jerry’s flavour ‘Bourbon Pecan Pie’ can only be purchased in which US state? A: Texas
5. Which ancient civilisation used the symbol of winged penises to ward off sickness? A: The Romans
6. What is the tallest species of penguin? A: Emperor Penguin
7. Which Inbetweeners character says “There is nothing funny about testicles.”? A: Mr. Gilbert
8. In what country was the Lord of the Rings trilogy filmed? A: New Zealand
9. The writer Darles Chickens was born in what UK port city? A: Portsmouth
10. ‘Dhaka’ is known as the ‘city of mosques’ and is the capital city of which country? A: Bangladesh
11. What is the most popular Dominoes pizza topping in both the UK and USA? A: Pepperoni
12. Star Wars character Mace Windu wields a lightsabre of which colour? A: purple
13. Which Big Bang Theory character says “the robot hand got stuck on your what?” A: Leonard
14. What is the name of the deepest place on Earth located in the South Pacific Ocean and measuring 11,000 meters deep? A: The Mariana Trench
15. In what country was the famed Titanic built? *Bonus point for the city* A: Belfast, Ireland
16. What is the deadliest creature to humans killing approximately 725,000 people per year? A: mosquitos
17. Which London Bridge is destroyed by death eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? A: Millennium Bridge
18. Which museum is the most visited in the world with over 8 million visitors per year? A: The Louvre
19. The natural reflex in babies to fan their toes out when the bottom of the foot is stroked is known as what? A: The Babinski Reflex (or Plantar Reflex)
20. What are a group of lions called? A: A pride
21. How many characters does Mike Myers play in the Austin Powers films? A: 4 (Austin, Dr. Evil, Fat B*stard & Goldmemeber)
22. What plant does Harry Potter eat to allow him to breathe under water in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? A: Gillyweed
23. What is the name of the round, colourful cardboard disks which were wildly popular with 90’s kids? A: Pogs
24. Which one-hit-wonder band released the song “Jump Around” in 1989? A: House of Pain
25. In Star Wars Episode 1 Anakin Skywalker is discovered working for Watto as a slave on what planet? A: Tatooine
26. What is the highest-selling chocolate bar in the United Kingdom? A: Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
27. In what country did the legend of the Easter bunny originate? A: Germany
28. Who wrote “To Kill A Mockingbird”? A: Harper Lee
29. ‘Bulgogi’ is a dish of thinly-sliced, marinated stir-fried beef or pork (usually served over rice) which originated in which country? A: Korea
30. This circular, stringed instrument is heard most often in country music; Taylor Swift plays one in the video for her song ‘Mean’ – which instrument is it? A: Banjo
31. What is the name of the South Carolina fort where the first shot of the civil war took place? A: Fort Sumpter
32. What was the first ever flavoured potato chip flavour? A: Barbeque
33. What are the 3 things that don’t impress Shania Twain much (in her 1998 hit ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’)? *1 point for each* A: rocket scientist, Brad Pitt, having a car
34. Which Canadian hockey player legend has scored the most goals ever with 894? A: Wayne Gretzky
35. Which popular beer brand promised and delivered a free beer to every British soldier of WW2 the Christmas of 1939, and was also one of the first brands to introduce employee benefits such as medical, dental, pensions and 2 free beers per week? A: Guinness
36. What does the computer term ‘RAM’ stand for? A: Random Access Memory
37. Ornithology is the study of what? A: Birds
38. What is the name of the popular tourist road in the USA which takes you through small, scenic towns from the state of New Mexico to Missouri? A: Route 66
39. ‘Dump,’ ‘floater’ and ‘wipe’ are techniques used in what team sport? A: Water Polo
40. Which Big Bang Theory character, after being asked what beverage they have served, says “There was a single cube of chicken bouillon in the cupboard when we moved in and it’s been bugging me for 8 years.” A: Sheldon

TRIVIA QUIZ 4

1. What is the busiest holiday for Dominoes pizza delivery? A: New Years Eve
2. ‘Peshwari’ naan is an Indian oven-baked flatbread of what flavour? A: Coconut
3. Which Forrest Gump character says this iconic quote: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” A: ‘Bubba’ (Benjamin Buford Blue)
4. What is the longest bone in the body? A: Femur
5. What is the most popular doughnut flavour in America? A: Glazed
6. Bali is known for its volcanic mountains, Yoga retreats and rice paddies and is actually made up of 3 islands belonging to which country? A: Indonesia
7. The Titanic had 2 sister ships with identical passenger facilities, one of which went on to be used as a troop ship during WW1. What are the names of the two sister ships? A: HMHS Britannic, RMS Olympic
8. Which bounty hunter captures Han Solo in Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back? A: Boba Fett
9. British Swallows migrate to what country for the winter? A: South Africa
10. ‘Spotted dick’ is a British pudding (dessert) made of suet and what? A: Dried fruit
11. ‘Wiarton Willy’ is a famous Canadian mammal – what type of animal is he and what is he famous for? A: Groundhog, his shadow
12. This spice is a type of seed (but can be ground) which originated in Iran and the Mediterranean and is the most-consumed spice in the world – which spice is it? A: Cumin
13. This fortified steel and concrete structure holds a large portion of the U.S.’s gold and sits within a Kentucky army base – what is it called? A: Fort Knox
14. In Harry Potter what is the name of Hagrid’s former pet spider who lives in the Forbidden Forest? A: Aragog
15. Which keyboard letter do you press alongside ‘Ctrl’ to undo an action? A: Letter ‘Z’
16. The U.K. football teams ‘Harts’ and ‘Hibbs’ both come from which Scottish city? A: Edinburgh
17. What is the most popular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavour? A: Cookie Dough
18. Which Disney re-make was the highest grossing movie of 2017? A: Beauty and the Beast
19. What are a group of Ravens called? A: An unkindness
20. What was the name of the woman who began the suffragette movement in Britain, founding the WSPU in 1903? A: Emmeline Pankhurst
21. Teabags were created by accident in 1908 in the United States and were originally made of what material? A: Silk
22. ‘Shrove Tuesday’ is another name for which holiday? A: Pancake Day
23. What spell is used in Harry Potter to disarm an opponent – usually of their wand? A: Expelliarmus
24. What is the full name of the Canadian NHL hockey team for Montreal? A: Montreal Canadiens
25. Black Beauty was written in 1877 by which English author? A: Anna Sewell
26. In 1991 ‘Right Said Fred’ released the hit song ‘I’m Too Sexy’ – name as many things as you can that the singer is ‘too sexy’ for. *1/2 point for each* A: His love, his shirt, Milan, New York, Japan, your party, his car, his hat, this song
27. What is an ampersand? A: The ‘&’ sign
28. Which mythological creature is said to inhabit the Scottish Highlands? A: Lochness Monster
29. What is the highest grossing Broadway musical with a net of over 1.6 billion? A: The Lion King
30. How many calories (under 10) are in 1 gram of alcohol? A: 7
31. This dog breed also refers to a cocktail made with vodka and grapefruit juice – what is it called? A: Greyhound
32. What are the names used to refer to the extra-terrestrial, robotic ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in the Transformers movies? A: Autobots and Decepticons
33. Who led the Scottish army to victory over the English at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314? A: Robert the Bruce
34. A young woman in the 1920’s who behaved and dressed boldly was called what? A: A flapper
35. What is the name of Dustin’s pet from the upside-down in ‘Stranger Things’? A: D’Artagnon (Dart for short)
36. Who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican? A: Michaelangelo
37. What is the fastest flying bird in the world able to dive at almost 200 miles per hour and can be found on every continent except Antarctica? A: Peregrine Falcon
38. Which Inbetweeners character describes ‘caravaning’ as ‘a sense of shitting in a bucket in a cupboard you don’t get with other holidays’? A: Will
39. This cooking toy which used a lightbulb to cook processed food bought in packets at Toys R Us was lusted after by many a 90s kid – what was it called? A: Easy Bake Oven
40. In her 2012 song Katy Perry ‘has heard it’s beautiful’ and wants to see your what? A: Peacock

How have you all been staying sane? 🙂

 

 

 

Expat Life Lately: Baby Bump!

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6 months ago now – shortly after we said ‘I Do’ for the second time – I called J into the bathroom at his auntie’s with some exciting news. 3+ weeks it said on the little digital screen. It’s such a mix of feelings when that little message appears: excitement, uncertainty, panic, happiness.

Within another four weeks we’d have the pram, the car seat, some tiny clothes. My Pinterest boards of food, travel, weddings were suddenly replaced with nurseries and baby things. Facebook swiftly switched from showing me ads of wedding venues to ones of breast pumps and nursing bras.

Before we knew it we were moving around the corner to a bigger house, painting the nursery, DIYing shelves together for the bump which we could now both feel moving about each day, filling in the Peter Rabbit baby book his mum bought us and assembling the crib my mum sent us.

Baby Room Chandelier (1 of 1)

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I really thought we were going to have a girl. J changed his mind after a few weeks and decided it was a boy in there so we made a bet that the winner would be treated to a free breakfast. I didn’t get a free breakfast. J was awfully smug that day. But he did say, while he enjoyed the sweet spoils of being right, that we could name him Hudson. The name I most loved and which is also a bit of a nod to my Canadian roots.

The first thing I bought, before I even knew what we were having, was a penguin pram suit and a Peter Rabbit bedside lamp. J came home one night from the mall with a white blanket for the pram and a fluffy Peter Rabbit housecoat with bunny ears on the hood. It’s such a precious feeling the first time your SO buys something for the little one and seeing him spend hours playing with our five month old nephew melts my heart a lot. And when he sends me sweet texts out of the blue to say he loves us.

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We are so excited to meet this little guy in June but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every now and then I have 2 minutes of panic thinking ‘what are we doing!’ and ‘everything is about to change’ and ‘will I ever have a full night’s sleep again?’ But I know J will be the best dad in the world as he’s already the best husband I could ever have asked for and he’s been so supportive throughout our whole relationship and the pregnancy. There’s no one I’d rather have babies with!

He even brought me a card and some fresh squeezed orange juice Sunday morning for British Mother’s Day 🙂

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All of a sudden things you always knew about but never really thought about, I mean REALLY thought about become all you think about. It is such an amazing but strange experience knowing you are growing a tiny human. And perhaps even stranger, is the thought that this is the beginning of the next cycle – we are no longer the children in our family, we are the next parents. The new tear-wipers, cheerleaders, taxi cabs to friend’s houses, Christmas dinner makers, teachers, tooth fairies, Santa Clause’s, dinosaurs (in my day we had dial-up internet – I could make a sandwich by the time msn loaded – you don’t know what msn is??).

And one day our little one, who at this moment, knows nothing but his warm, squishy existence will grow up and maybe have children of his own and we will become the grandparents. I suppose until we became pregnant it never really sunk in that we will grow old. It seemed very distant and far away that growing old thing. But the white hair I found a few weeks back (“J is this attached to my head!?!” – it was) is a sign that we are in fact growing older and things are changing.

Thoughts of the upcoming baby shower I was planning, and summer trips to the seaside with our new bundle and to Canada all seem so far away at the moment with everything going on. Everyone and everything is in limbo. But in these moments I must remember that I have everything I will ever need – J is here with me and that’s what matters. And soon we will add another musketeer to a household filled with love.

What are you doing at the moment to keep busy and stay positive? And if you have or are expecting a little one – what was the first thing you or your SO bought for them?

Review: Hampton Court Palace

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Hampton Court – King Henry the 8th’s main palace of residence – has been on our to-see list for some time now. While it is recognised for being the palace of one of history’s most infamous tyrants – King Henry was far from the only royal who called Hampton Court home.

When the initial buildings were assembled in 1515 beside a quiet part of the Thames under the direction of Cardinal Thomas Wolsley there were nothing but fields surrounding as far as the eye could see. Today, Hampton Court sits on 60 acres in the heart of a bustling Surrey which has built up around it over the centuries.

One of the key features of Hampton Court is that it is a pick-and-mix of Tudor and Baroque style architecture. In King Henry’s reign it was erected and expanded in the Tudor style which consists of the traditional castle features of hard lines, battlements and windows which are more squared as well as its signature dark red brick.

When it was taken over by William the third and Queen Mary the 2nd they began renovations in the Baroque style which typically consists of softer lines, arches and white and gold accents.

We visited Hampton Court gardens last summer when we attended an outdoor cinema showing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone but have only just toured the inside this past January when tickets were on sale for half price – keep an eye out for future discounts!

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We started off in the Cumberland Art Gallery which house paintings by the likes of Italians Caneletto (1697 – 1798) and Caravaggio (1571 – 1610), Flemish-born Van Dyck (1599 – 1641) and German-born Holbein (1497 – 1543). They even have a self portrait by Dutch-born Rembrandt who is considered one of the best visual artists of all time and the crowning jewel of Dutch artists.

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My other half said the Cumberland gallery was the highlight for him.

We explored many grand reception and dining rooms…

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And of course, the master suite’s with their ambitious canopy beds, decorated fireplaces and sprawling ceilings.

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Image result for hampton court palace rooms

We also paused over Queen Caroline’s bathroom. It’s quite an interesting feature as science at the time deemed bathing frequently to be dangerous and even those rich enough to have the luxury of a bath and servants to cart heated water to and fro only bathed now and then, washing hair every 12 days or so (sometimes longer). Queen Caroline on the other hand bathed comparatively often and also bathed her children regularly in orange and rose scented water.

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Some children were equally delighted and horrified to learn from one of the museum attendants about the ‘Groom of the Stool.’ While by today’s standards wiping royal bums doesn’t sound like the kind of job which would have resumes pouring in on Indeed.com – in days of yore it was a sought-after position in the court as the Groom of the Stool was one of the only people in England who had 1 on 1 time with the King and could use that time to influence his decisions.

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There is an intricate chapel with balcony, remodelled by Queen Anne in 1710, which still holds services today.

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My own personal favourites though, were the kitchens and the tennis court. An avid cook, I was fascinated with the large, open kitchen and the considerable fireplace where meals for 800 could be produced daily by a kitchen staff of 200 for monarchs and their courts during the Tudor, Stuart and Georgian periods.

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Recipes of the Hampton Court kitchens included salmon & fig pies, mutton and beef stews, game dishes, peacock, apple fritters, french toast and Marzipan cake. Some of King Henry’s personal favourites were supposedly bone marrow tarts and ‘Maids of Honour’ – a butter puff pastry tart with a mildly sweet cheese curd filling.

Surrey bakery and tearooms ‘Newens’ boast the original secret ‘Maids of Honour’ recipe which they still keep under lock and key. So if all that history and walking gets you feeling peckish – you could always make a pit stop on the way home for a cuppa and a famous tart.

I was surprised to see the array of exotic herbs and spices which were used as far back as the Tudor times. Flavours of Rosemary, Coriander, Saffron, Basil, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mace, Ginger, Parsley, Salt and Sage to name a few were shipped from as far away as China, India and Africa. They sweetened their meals with sugar imported from Cyprus and enjoyed citrus fruit, almonds, artichokes and olive oil from the Mediterranean.

Period actors made sweets, turned spits in front of the fire and regaled us with tales of their lives in the 16th century. As it was a frosty January day, listening also seemed a great excuse to warm ourselves in front of the blazing fireplace.

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Of course a visit wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through the Great Hall, where the royal feasts would have been enjoyed at long tables under carved timber ceilings. When Henry married Anne Boleyn he had her coat of arms and their initials engraved in the overhang. After he ordered her execution he also ordered for these carvings to be removed but some of them were missed – see if you can spot them.

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My other highlight was the tennis court as it’s quite unique to Hampton Court as far as palaces go.

Hampton Court’s tennis court is the oldest in the world. There has been a court on the site since 1526 and Wolsley and Henry were both known to be good players. The tennis court as it stands today has one original wall and three which date to the 17th century during Charles the first’s reign.

Originally the balls were filled with clay, sand and powdered eggshell and could feel somewhat weaponized but since the 1500s balls were instead filled with more forgiving leather and animal hair.

The original game of tennis was more of a mix of tennis and squash and has changed significantly over the years into the game we know today.

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Image result for hampton court tennis court

While on our second visit we didn’t explore the gardens as much as on our first visit, we did stumble upon quite a few quiet courtyard gardens.

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And on a warm spring or summer day, many more hours could be enjoyed in the palace gardens…

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The palace has regular events, concerts and exhibitions so it’s worth having a look on their website to see what is up and coming:

Hampton Court Website

Regular admission is:
Adult – £22
Child – £10.90
Members – Free

The kitchen gardens can be explored for free without admission.

Overall it is definitely worth a visit, especially for any history buffs. The price is a bit steep but if you can take advantage of a discount offer it’s a pleasant way to spend a day in Surrey.

4/5 Maids of Honour

Have you visited Hampton Court? What would you most like to see or what was your favourite part?

Toodle pip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Do… Again!”

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As some of you know, J and I met quite some years ago now on Plenty of Fish while I lived in Canada and he lived in the UK. Skype dates quickly turned into the sort of whirlwind romance Taylor Swift might sing about. Many Skype calls, flights and letters later I moved to England to be with him, and it was the best thing I ever did.

Two years after moving here, 3 days before Christmas, he took me to the place I had declared the most beautiful spot in the world – the top of Winnats Pass in the Peak District and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I said “of course I will!”

As we had to be married to live on the barracks of his next posting we had a small, tweed affair at the registry office in Cambridge with close family and friends that spring. Two years later, after saving loads of pennies, having our original venue fall through 6 months before and arranging for all my Canadian family and friends to fly over we got to re-live one of the happiest days of our lives – this time with the white dress and all the trimmings.

I wrote a very personal ceremony which his cousin delivered and we said our handwritten vows to one another surrounded by all those who we love and who love us while sheep grazed on the wet, Derbyshire hills behind us. It rained the whole day in British fashion, and yet it was wonderful. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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My dad lead me down the aisle and handed me off to ‘the only man he’s ever approved of’ to the song ‘Then’ by Brad Paisley. Seeing J standing there, and the emotion we both felt is something neither of us will forget as we continue onto new adventures together, forever by one another’s side as husband and wife.

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The ceremony encompassed hearty laughs, family jokes, heartfelt words, many a proud look from parents and was sealed with a triumphant kiss and a refrain of ‘Circles’ by Jana Kramer.

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After the ceremony surrounded by our best friends we trudged up a slippery slope in stiletto heels – armed with brollies and laughter- and didn’t let a few raindrops stop us making the most of a magical day. In the climb I must have put my heel through the lace of my dress causing a rip a few inches wide near the bottom but no matter. My dress now bears the stains and wear of a wedding day well spent.

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We spent the next part of the day enjoying the company of all those who had travelled so far to celebrate our love with us – some having driven hours from different parts of the UK and some having flown from Ontario and Nova Scotia – while we shared a toast, some ord’oeuvres and the children roguishly helped themselves to chocolates off the too-tempting-to-resist cake.

I had to ask our photographer to snap a quick pic before all the chocolates mysteriously disappeared! Someone asked me afterwards if it was meant to look like we were sitting on a snowflake in a bowl of Poutine – the fact that the chocolates kind of look like fries, gravy and cheese curds is completely incidental!

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This is also the point in the day when I began to rethink my choice of a mermaid style dress as after a 1/2 hour trip to the loo with determined bridesmaids in tow I decided I would not be tinkling for the rest of the evening. And though we didn’t go to bed until nearly 2am – I was resolved in my decision and stuck to it!

We managed to tell parts of our story and ourselves through all the little details – from leather suitcases and love letter table numbers tied with string (which included Hogwarts, Cambridge United FC, London and Maple Leaf themed envelopes) – to the personalised plane cuff links I surprised him with on the morning of our special day.

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Our sweets table featured Canadian treats like: Jolly Rachers, Oh Henry bars and butter tarts and British Rosy Apples, Tangfastics and a giant Bakewell Tart – as we were so near to the pastries’ namesake town the day wouldn’t have been complete without a Bakewell.

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The butter tarts lasted about ten seconds!

Sprinkled on the tables were plane confetti’s cut from maps and hearts made from Florida travel brochures. Florida being where we met for the first time and where we have spent many happy memories together.

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Milk bottles sat on aged books at every table and each held a handful of gypsophelia and sunflowers – my favourite flower – which our auntie Pauline thoughtfully arranged for us.

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We stole a few moments to ourselves before dinner to take in the postcard-perfect landscape and our superb photographer duo preserved these loving seconds for us to keep always.

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Our flower girl (whom we’d forgotten to send down the aisle earlier) ushered the bridal party into the Orangery with her basket of dried rose petals – where a very British afternoon tea and some equally touching and hilarious speeches awaited from our best man, our maid of honour and then J and myself to one another.

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When I watch back his vows, and the speech he spent hours upstairs writing one night I can’t describe the sense of sheer love and respect I have for him. When I see his cheeky smile, how he talks with his hands and the way he looks at me – everything about him just makes my heart happy.

Following dinner were times of merriment, conversation and cocktails until the clock struck seven and the father daughter dance begun.

My dad, who lives back home in Canada, who truly is my biggest fan and cries at every single airport goodbye – even after I’ve lived here for 4 years – swayed with me to Carrie Underwood’s ‘Girl You Think I Am.’ And the words You think I’m brave. You think I’m fearless… I wanna be the girl you think I am… really hit home.

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He then put my hand in J’s – knowing that near of far, I would always be in good hands. J held me close while Brad Paisley’s ‘Then’ said all the things I feel every time I look at him. Because somehow, when I think I couldn’t possibly love him more, I do.

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We enjoyed an evening of dancing, pizza, sparklers and kisses. Later in the night I even ended up doing an impromptu rendition of ‘Circles.’

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At 1:30am we finally said goodnight to our guests knowing that we had made memories that will last us a lifetime of drinking tea together, and travelling to new places, and dancing in the kitchen and couch snuggles. Memories that in 50 years, 80 years time we can look back on and say ‘And I thought I loved you then.’

 

Expat Life Lately: RHS Chelsea Flower Show

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May All Your Weeds Be Wildflowers
-Anonymous

Last week my husband came home from work and said that he’d been asked to help with the 75th Anniversary D-Day Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As is often the case in the army my man happened to mention he likes gardening (he did help me plant that tomato plant that one time right?) and before he knew it it had become common knowledge that he is some master landscaper and floral designer extraordinaire. After a week of calling him Mr. Titchmarsh and giggling it came to pass that a couple extra hands were needed to strip out the D-Day Garden and a free pass was up for grabs. He did not have to twist my arm.

A free pass and all I have to do to earn it is gardening? Which I love? Win-win!

I watched BBC coverage of the show in anticipation all week surprising myself with my knowledge of flower species as I’m mostly a veggie-growing girl.

When the day finally came we visited the pavillion which housed regal lupins, pastel foxgloves, towering delphiniums and velvety peonies. There were roses blushing in every shade and a real buzz – although that could have been a combination of the bees and the sneezing. So much sneezing.

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We visited the plethora of gardens I’d seen on the TV. The Moroccan garden, the Yorkshire garden, Duchess Kate’s Back to Nature Garden and many others. Inspiration for our yard and our wedding were propagating like bluebells in my mind.

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But the highlight for me wasn’t the flowers – gorgeous as they were. The highlight for me was that I had the opportunity to speak to so many interesting people about so many interesting things and that I got to play a small part in helping with the D-Day Garden which will be transported to France for a permanent home in Arromanches, overlooking Gold Beach.

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The D-Day veterans (the youngest of which was 93) told me about their younger years during the war; why they joined and how wonderful it was when people thanked them for their service. One of them echoed back a thought I have had so many times – that we never learn. They told me of the wives they came to meet after the war and of visits to Canada and gave me tried and true words of wisdom: “Life goes by too fast – don’t waste one second of it.”

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I also spoke with the designer -John- and his family about building the garden and they told me of how washers (which the soldiers are made of) had taken over their entire home – being found in pockets and in shoes and on windowsills. They explained that sea thrift was the last flower the soldiers would have seen as they left Portsmouth and the first they would have seen during the D-Day landings.

I also fangirled a little bit when I asked if he’d met any of the royals in the week and he told me he’d met the Duchess of Cambridgeshire herself who I adore, and also Princess Beatrice. He said Kate carried herself very well and he was struck by just how tall she was.

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As we separated plastic pots and plopped sea thrift back into their containers I came to find that another lady who helped with the garden was an archaeologist which is every child’s dream job and I wanted to know everything. It turns out she’d been on Time Team which is one of my favourite shows and her most valued find was a 9th century comb made of bone in perfect condition all but for one prong.

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All in all it was a day filled to the brim and what’s the Chelsea Flower Show without trying to squeeze tall plants in tiny cars?

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We carried home an armful of flowers and good advice and reminisced on a wonderful day that went by just as fast as the old veterans said. Now I’m off to the garden as I can hardly think of a better way to enjoy every second.

 

 

The Ultimate BIR Tikka Masala

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This post will be short and sweet (and coconutty and delicious). I’ve been trying for 3 years to cook a curry at home which tastes like a British Indian takeaway tikka masala. I’ve tried countless recipes and have always ended up a little underwhelmed. “What is your secret!” I ask each time we frequent one of our favourite curry houses.

Well, I’ve finally cracked it! The trick to making a British Indian curry (or BIR curry) is a homemade base curry sauce. In essence, you are making two recipes and combining them. While it does seem like a lot of work, once you have a batch of base curry you can freeze this in bags (I do mine in 300ml and 600ml portions) so that in future you can make curries much faster. You can also use this base curry sauce for nearly any curry (madras, vindaloo, korma, tikka, jalfrezi, ect) and for many other Indian side dishes such as saag chana.

So without further ado… my recipe for the ultimate BIR tikka masala!

*as I’m vegetarian I omit the chicken but of course this can be added, or you can use Quorn chicken but honestly I love this sauce so much I could drink it and prefer simply this delicious sauce over rice. If you want it to be as red in colour as in Indian restaurants you can add red food colouring powder which is what they use to get the bright red colouration.

ULTIMATE BIR TIKKA MASALA SAUCE

2 chef spoons coconut flour (approx. 9 tbsp.)
1 chef spoon ground almond (approx. 4 tbsp.)
½ chef spoon sugar (approx. 2 tbsp.)
600ml curry base
2 cups masala paste (approx. 500ml)
Optional: 1-2 tbsp. single cream for garnish
Fresh Coriander

Dry fry the coconut flour, ground almond and sugar for 2 minutes. Add heated 600ml of curry base and heat until bubbling, simmer for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups masala paste and heat on medium heat for 5-10 minutes (my sauce is quite thick therefore I don’t reduce it like in some similar recipes). Serve over rice and garnish with single cream and a generous sprinkle of fresh coriander. Although used as a garnish the coriander really does add flavour to the curry and I highly recommend using it!

Curry Base:

8 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
250 – 300ml olive/vegetable oil
2 ½ tbsp. ginger puree (can add ¼ – ½ tsp fresh grated ginger)
4 tbsp. garlic puree
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. ground coriander (I grind the seeds in a magic bullet with 2 pinches cumin seeds)
1 tbsp. ground fenugreek
1 tbsp. Paprika
6 Cardamom pods
1 tbsp. salt
2 cans chopped tomatoes (approx. 800ml)
Water (just enough to cover the vegetables)

In a large saucepan, add the oil. Once hot add a pinch of cumin seeds and a pinch of coriander seeds, fry for 2 minutes.

Fry the onions until cooked. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, paprika, cardamom, salt and allow to fry for a minute or so to release the aromatics.

Add the peppers, carrots and celery. Add in the chopped tomatoes then add enough water to cover the vegetables.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for approx. 1 hour, making sure all the vegetables are very soft. Liquidize the mixture with a hand blender or food processor.

Re-add the mixture to the pan and cook for another 10 mins. Allow the gravy to cool and then pour into freezer bags. The curry base will keep for months in the freezer until needed.

Masala Paste:

150ml condensed milk
150ml coconut milk
2 tbsp. tomato paste (x2 concentrated)
1 ½ tbsp. tandoori masala (I used Natco brand)
1 tbsp. Paprika
1 tsp. “spice mix” (I used Ras El Hanout which has a clove-y aroma)
1 ½ tbsp. fresh lemon
1 tsp. ginger puree
1 tsp. garlic puree

Expat Life Lately: 3 year recap video

These are just a few clips I found over the past 3 years since I made the move to England to be with my British one and only. I didn’t even realize I’d had a video of us in the Peak District when I’d first moved over. I told him it was the most beautiful place in the world and 3 years later he took me to that same spot to ask me to be his wife.

What a wild and wonderful ride it’s been! Love him so much.

British Words of the Week:

redders: hot                       (Last summer was absolutely redders)
icers: cold                          (Guy Fawkes night is gonna be icers!)
hoofing: amazing             (That posh tea was hoofing!)
Ruby Murry: curry           (Fancy a ruby murry?)

Toodle pip!

Murder Mystery Dinner Train, Kidderminster

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I have been dying to go on a murder mystery dinner on a train for the past 3 years; it’s what I’ve asked for for my birthday three years running. My wonderful but time-challenged other half kept waiting too long to book the tickets (they sell out about 6 months in advance). But alas! This year was the year! And it was worth the wait 🙂

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There are quite a few steam train murder mystery dinners dotted about the country, but we went to the Severn Valley Railway in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. If we’d known how lovely and Victorian the station was we’d have left a bit earlier and had a stroll through the museum or perhaps stopped for a cream tea and watched the carousel of antiquated steam and diesel engines puffing in and out of the station. They’ve even got a Saturday night fish & chippy train service.

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Goodbye 2018… hello 1946!

Our evening murder mystery plot took place in 1946; I love any excuse to dress up. As we waited to board the train the actors and actresses strolled up and down the platform interacting with passengers. I kept my ears open for any clues!

The train was comfortable and so wonderfully nostalgic; the actors performed each scene in each train car so you were never left out of the action. We had a slow, meandering journey past world-war era train stations and countryside which gave us time to eat our 3-course meal. The only downside was that the train was stiflingly hot.

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We had a Greek chicken salad to start, stuffed red peppers with roast potatoes, new potatoes and veg, and a caramel cheese cake for dessert. The food was good. My favourite were the roasted Rosemary potatoes. Drinks on board the train were really reasonable. £1 for bottled water or lime & cordial and £3 for a glass of the house white.

After our leisurely journey we stopped off at Bridgenorth station for 45 minutes; the cool, fresh air was very welcome. It was a lovely, old-fashioned station with an indoor bar. It was a nice chance to stretch our legs and the drama continued on the platform. That’s when the murder happened.

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I was excited but hesitant about going on a murder mystery as I wanted it to be silly and to focus on the who-dunnit aspect (think Mrs. Marple or Murdoch Mysteries) as I’m a sensitive person who doesn’t do violence and horror. This was a perfect choice; a light, fun evening of acting and kitsch (exactly what I’d hoped for).

The train picked up pace on the way back and the detective inspector asked us for our help in determining who-dunnit and their motive which we wrote on our sheets.

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After tea/coffee the detective came back with all the suspects and talked through their motives until ready to make the big reveal. It was Colonel Mustard with a candlestick in the library! (Not really, but you’ll hear these jokes a lot on a murder mystery night). The person with the closest answer won a prize. I completely over-thought the scenario and was way off! I’ll have to sharpen my sleuthing skills for next time!

The whole experience lasted approximately 2 hours and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I would absolutely love to go again!

For two people it cost £170. Parking was £3 all day and drinks cost extra. The murder mystery evenings are very popular and book up quickly so I would suggest looking around Christmas time for a summer mystery.

If you’d like to check out their murder mysteries and myriad of other offers, you can find out more by clicking on “Events and Experiences” on their website:
http://www.svr.co.uk/MurderMystery.aspx

5/5 magnifying glasses 🙂

Have you ever been to a murder mystery evening? Did you guess the murderer?

P.S. Thank you to the amazing love of my life for a wonderful birthday 🙂

 

 

 

The Big Things and the Little Things

While I still enjoy leaving little surprises around the house for my better half, I’ll admit that since becoming a teacher a lot of my creativity and energy goes into the classroom. After long days, hours of planning and preparation and out of pocket expense (to put a smile on my 26 children’s faces) I feel like I don’t plan quite as much magic for my man as I did before and don’t always have the funds to treat him to things I would like to.

Although when I slow down and take a look back I realise how much we actually do for each-other. I’m not really slacking as much as what I sometimes think. But there’s always room for one or two more surprises isn’t there?

Some of the things we’ve given each-other in the past year have been quite expensive; like engagement rings, whisking me away for our engagement in Derbyshire and wedding clothes, but the small things… flowers, notes, small gestures mean just as much.

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The Big Things…

We’ve been talking for a couple years about tweed suits and I told my man a couple years back that when I got a job as a teacher I would buy him one. He supported me in every way all through the brutal teacher training year and I wanted to say thank you. As his measurements are hard to fit off-the-rack I bit the bullet and had him a suit tailor-made which he wore to our wedding.

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I love that because it was tailor-made we could have it embossed with our names and future wedding date, and picked everything from the type of tweed, to the lining to the pockets and cut. It took 2 hours to make all the decisions and afterwards we had no idea what it would look like. Thankfully, it turned out better than we’d hoped. We would highly recommend Aidan Sweeney and will treasure this suit for many years to come.

The Little Things…

The past month or so I have started to visit all the websites I used to love perusing for romantic and fun ideas (especially pinterest and the dating divas) and thinking about what I can do to surprise the man I absolutely adore and now get to call my husband :).

One small surprise (thankfully costing much less than the suit) were a burgundy tie and a lovely green bowtie which I found for a good price on Etsy.

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He has also brought home flowers “just because” on a few occasions lately which is something I always love!

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As I haven’t planned a proper date in ages and inspired by the most incredible sunset we saw driving home the other night I decided to surprise my husband with a cost-effective but still sweet sunset date. Unfortunately cloud rolled in and we didn’t really get to see a sunset but it’s the thought that counts! It was still lovely to just spend some time together snacking on our favourite snacks and looking out into the distance. Although next time I would bring a flask of tea rather than a cold drink! He thanked me afterwards for doing something like that; those little words mean the world.

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Something I absolutely adore him for are all the crazy things he agrees to do for me when it comes to my job. From teaching an army-style PE lesson with me last year when I was on placement in Year 5, to pretending to be Dumbledore for a Harry Potter lesson, to cutting out resources and cooking dinners when I’m working late, to last week agreeing to play Prince Harry in a dance skit with us teachers for our school’s talent show complete with his uniform.

We actually had the best time. Those kids are seriously amazing and we loved watching them show off their talents. Plus it was such a hoot doing our ridiculous royal wedding dance. I always know I can count on him when it comes to asking unorthodox favours! Just one of the many reasons why I love him.

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We did a re-enactment of this video plus a bit of the “floss” and the “dab.” It was brilliant!

From the big things to the little things and everything in between, it’s been a wonderful adventure and I can’t wait to see what surprises our summer has in store.

Will you be watching the royal wedding today?
Cheerio old chaps!

 

Expat Life Lately: My Birthday, Tough Mudder & Sunshine

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It’s been a very long spring and the constant cloud and cool temperatures were definitely starting to get us down. So much so that one evening purely to get out of the house and cheer up I agreed to go to the gym with my man and as it turns out blaring a bit of T. Swift and dancing around (there were only us two in the gym) was a perfect antidote to the weather. We had so much fun together acting complete fools. It reminded me of how me and my best friends from back home used to dance around in our living rooms. Music is such a great pick-me-up.

The sunshine has been a long time coming but we are so lucky to be having a gorgeous May long weekend here in Wales! It arrived just in time for my birthday. My other half brought me some lovely red roses home on Friday and on Saturday (my birthday) we woke up at the crack of dawn to go to his tough mudder event. It was a lovely, hot day and I enjoyed watching him in his element. Afterwards we sat out in a beer garden with friends, grabbed pizza and played Harry Potter SceneIt and Cluedo.

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I’ve been wanting to go on this murder mystery dinner on a steam train for ages and my man managed to book us in for one as my birthday present so I can’t wait for that! He also got me a lovely birthday card; the first card addressed to ‘my wife’ 🙂

With money I received for my birthday I just booked us tickets to see HP and the Philosopher’s Stone through Luna cinema which does outdoor movies at all sorts of cool locations around the UK. Can’t wait!

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We’ve taken advantage of the sunshine by climbing Sugar Loaf mountain (for the 4th time… every time I say never again but there you go), having a barbeque in the park with friends and splashing around in the river. I’m hoping for an impromptu beach day today to wrap up a smashing long weekend.

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Hope yous are all enjoying the sunshine! What are you looking forward to this summer?

Cheerio!