Hello Dublin

Ok so it’s been more than a little quiet around here lately. Life has been busy, we’ve been running around exploring and living life to really document much of it, and to be honest I just haven’t felt like writing that much. Fast forward to right now, I’m sitting at a dining room table, with a cup of tea, it’s raining, I had a scone for breakfast and we are in Ireland.

Yep that’s right, we’ve gone a bit more wayward and said goodbye to the other side of the pond, and made another transatlantic move to the fair green isle. First impressions: It’s good. Wet, cold and almost like being home but not quite.

Moving as always is a bit of a whirlwind, with never ending goodbyes, packing and logistics. I’ve not even begun to process any of this and reflected on my thoughts at saying goodbye to Utah. Moving sucks. Saying goodbye sucks, but life moves on, and as always different seasons of life bring new and exciting opportunities and challenges.

Going forward I’m excited to share this season, with new adventures in Ireland and Europe, old adventures, challenges of parenthood, catscapades and general life updates. So tell me what have you been up to? What tips do you have for international moves, let me know in the comments.

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My 6 favourite moments of 2016

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We have a storm blowing in this week, lots of rain, and then more snow to replace all the piles of snow that have so far melted. We’ve been hibernating with cosy socks and lots of hot chocolate. It reminds me of a big storm last year, just as winter was fading, and as we camped out at the hospital having just welcomed our first child into the world. We emerged bleary eyed, bewildered, overwhelmed, excited and full of love. Its fair to say 2016 was a whirlwind, it was a pretty epic year globally for all sorts of reasons, although we were in our own little bubble for most of it (and still are). There are so many moments of 2016 that could be my favourites, but these are the ones that instantly spring to mind that I thought I’d share with you, seeing as I neglected to blog about virtually anything. One of my last posts was my trip to LA, which wasn’t a bad start to 2016, although I’ve got to be honest anything pre-baby feels like a lifetime ago!

When I started this post I thought it would consist of a few trips, a handful of amusing stories and mundane personal achievements, such as finally cracking how to make Yorkshire puddings at altitude and re-watching the entirety of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. #lifegoals. As it turns out, my 2016 highlights have all been about (unsurprisingly) babies, adventures, making the most of opportunities and spending time with friends and family. So here are the top 6 highlights.

Babies. Having one.

This is so huge it doesn’t even get a number, as the most obvious ‘moment’ of 2016 and many moments since is the life altering crazy world of becoming a parent. We are still very much learning and hope to get it down in the next 10 years or so. It’s undeniable that becoming a parent changes your whole world, not least because your entire perspective changes.You are now responsible for this teeny tiny person night and day, and you will nurture and teach them the ways of the world. I’m proud to say that so far, in the first year, we’ve managed to survive and even take a few trips and regularly leave the house, it’s been pretty awesome so far.

1. Montana and heading North.

Aside from the wonderfulness of parenthood, one of my favourite bits of 2016 was a trip to Glacier National Park. If you follow me at all on Instagram you may have seen some pictures of this stunning park back in the beginning of summer. We decided to go on a bit of a whim, whilst one of my best friends was visiting, and had only a vague idea of what to expect. Lake McDonald was stunning, the ‘Going to the sun road’ was one of the most beautiful and spectacular roads I’ve ever driven along, and later driving through the meandering roads of Montana was beautiful. We also managed to camp with a teeny tiny babe – which was great, even if we were terrified of being eaten by a bear, and we popped into Yellowstone National park on the way back for good measure. This is still one of my favourite parks, made even better when eating ice cream and putting the world to rights with your bestie. We still have yet to spot a bear though.

2. My tribe

This year feels really special, because I’ve tried to invest more time into new friendships, building those relationships and investing into Salt Lake City as my current home. Living abroad, there is always the feeling of wanting to go back home. I’ve accepted I may never shake that, but I also would hate to have squandered my time fruitlessly whilst I’m here. So I’ve committed to being present in everyday life, to saying yes to opportunities, going on adventures, and investing into friendships. Home can be whatever you want it to be, and for me it’s been a real gift to have several homes, and several tribes, especially now we have our own little family. We have also been lucky enough to have some ‘old’ friends come out and visit over the summer, which has meant showing them exciting places, hanging out and catching up, and although it’s not as frequent as I’d like, face to face time is the best. We also got to spend the early part of the Christmas holidays back in dreary old Blighty, eating roast dinners, cream teas and hanging out with dear faces.

3. Sunrises

We have seen many, many sunrises in 2016, but some of my favourites aside from dancing in the kitchen with a newborn, were with some amazing friends who visited from San Francisco, twice. First we got to visit Mesa arch and take some pretty epic photos just before our lives completely changed, and then again at Bryce canyon at the end of the summer. There’s not much better than seeing the sunrise, in a beautiful location with beautiful people.

4. Vancouver Island

Just before summer started, before the glorious warm weather, we got to take a trip up to Vancouver and stay on Vancouver island. It was a trip of firsts, this was our first family holiday, first international flight with a little one and it was just what we needed. We stayed for a handful of days on Vancouver Island, which was beautiful, we loved seeing seals and walking along the beach. As an extra bonus they had a lot of imported English treats, which made my day. We also visited Victoria and ate lots of seafood and kept an eye out for whales. I’d love to go back to go further north into the more remote parts of the island and pretend to be a pirate for a few days exploring Salt spring island and the surrounding islands. We also had a fantastic time exploring Vancouver, eating ice cream and walking around a big city. I really enjoyed Stanley park and the huge trees, as well as being right next to the coast. On the way we also got to go through Seattle, which I’d like to spend more time exploring.

5. Visiting Mars

AKA Scenic byway 12, in Utah. This is another favourite drive, we were lucky to go twice this year, and it’s like nowhere I’ve ever been. For the first trip, we got to spend some quality time with Kiwi Nana, starting out in Bryce, having spent some time walking in Zion, sampling local delicacies, and hanging out. Seeing the red rocks always gives me a thrill, and driving highway 12 is a bit like going to Mars, so is a lot of southern Utah. The highway twists and turns through some of the most dramatic scenery, we stopped at Escalante petrified forest and sunned ourselves by the lake, dreaming of more adventures, then we ended at capitol reef, where we picked apricots, saw petroglyphs and ate pie.

6. Being a palaeontologist/geologist for the day

This is the stuff dreams are made of. When our San Fran friends came to visit we went on an amazing trip to Bryce and again to Mars (See above). At the start of our trip we got to go back to Delta. To U-Dig fossils, which we visited the previous autumn. For a few splendid hours we all got to lose ourselves smashing rocks, chiselling rocks out of a huge rock wall and sifting through dust and rock to find treasure aka trilobites. It was the best kind of fun. Getting dirty and sitting in a huge pile of history. I absolutely felt like I was in an Amelia Peabody adventure, even though it wasn’t Egypt, and it wasn’t mummies, and it may not quite have been dinosaurs bones, trilobites are actually slightly older, but it definitely ticked the bucket list and childhood dream category.

And that’s the highlights of 2016. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

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Hi! How have you been?

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Why hello there, it’s been a bit of a while hasn’t it. Several months in fact. Several crazy beautiful months where Kiwi and I have had many adventures, and baked countless cakes and undoubtedly eaten lots of cheese. WordPress has even changed its format so now I have no idea where most of the buttons are.

You may have seen extracts of our wanderings on Instagram, and now summer is over, the autumn leaves are just about holding on before the snow arrives. It’s still deliciously warm yet the nights are dark earlier, I’m vaguely aware the clocks go back soon, and we are in the final few month of this year.

Life, well life has been momentous, I mentioned way back on the blog we would be expanding, and we did by welcoming a gorgeous new baby back in the spring. We have never been happier and are finding our way within this new parenting club, and learning how to be a small family.

I never intended to have a break or blog hiatus, it kind of just happened and here we are. I’ve missed it. Recently I have begun to find snippets of peace and quiet to sit and type, and I’ve wanted to think about what stories to share and reflect on what I wanted to blog about.That means plenty of more talk about cats, travel, baking and parenthood, I should think these stories will be less frequent, but it’s nice to be back.

LA Weekend – Part 2

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Having spent a fabulous day exploring Santa Monica and Malibu and soaking up the sunshine, it was a little different to wake up to storm and flash flood warnings. I guess it doesn’t often rain in LA. It was fairly windy but armed with a waterproof jacket we set off to walk around the main downtown area. We stumbled upon the end of the world bookstore, selling new and used books and spent ages browsing. It felt a bit Harry Potter-esque. Afterwards we walked around the market and found a lovely coffee shop before heading onto Hollywood.

I’m not sure what I expected, Hollywood I guess is a very diluted version of Gatlinburg, only with less neon, but a similar feel. It was fun to see the walk of fame, and some well known buildings. LA traffic is fairly busy and most the drivers are crazy so that was interesting. It was a bit like being in London again, only instead of narrow twisty roads there were 6+ lane highways! And lots of palm trees.

Afterwards we drove up to the Griffith observatory, admiring the view and catching a star show. This was great and despite being a bit cold after the sun goes down, the view of LA lit up was really something. It was also fun to see the ‘Hollywood’ sign, although I didn’t manage to get a decent picture.

For our final day before heading home we drove around Mulholland drive admiring big mansions and houses on stilts that looked impossible. Although there were other areas in the valley that looked fun to explore we ended up going to Venice beach, as beach and ice cream! Here there is a pretty wooden fishing pier and crazy ‘muscle’ beach paraphernalia. I enjoyed walking around the small canal walkway that is tucked just behind the beach front. Someone decided they wanted to recreate a mini Venice, it wasn’t quite the same, but the little bridges were adorable and it felt miles away from the crazieness of muscle beach just minutes away.

This was really a whistle stop tour of LA, but great fun to see some interesting places. It already feels like a long time ago now as I sit watching the snow out the window. The kitties were very pleased to have their family all complete again mind. And I do enjoy kitty snuggles.

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2015 Christmas gift guide

 

If you haven’t been super organised yet and found all the gifts you need then here are a few online ideas that might hep out. I love finding perfect gifts for people, but by the second week of December I find going into any store too stressful. I enjoy leisurely shopping and being inspired by gifts I haven’t yet thought of, plus you know finding a few gifts for myself :-)

This gift guide want list is a few ideas that you can purchase online and skip the stress of shopping, plus you know if one or two things make there way into your own stocking that’s completely acceptable!!

1.For all the cat lovers out there, I adore these cat plates and may need to hint to Kiwi that I need one! You know for all the cheese platters!

2. For cooking lovers, I currently have my eye on this bread baking book, the Great British Bake Off is one of my favourite shows, and I’m keen to get back into bread making, once I’ve worked out how I adjust to altitude!

3. I always start to hunt for a new diary around September, forget until December and then panic that I won’t know what I’m dong in life because it’s not written down. My two favourites are either a Paperblanks one, they have so many cute designs and I love the layouts, or for extremely busy people, a busy life diary, plus they also do Sept – to Sept for any teachers out there!

4. Beauty sets are one of my most indulgent buys over Christmas, mostly because I love that you can usually get a set to try out a few different things, this year I really want a set from Luxe de Mer, a California brand that makes excellent products.

5. Lastly who doesn’t love chocolate? I love this British brand of hot chocolate, particularly as they have such a huge range of flavours, mint, white chocolate, orange, and you can also find them on Amazon :-)

 

Bryce Canyon

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We recently had a visitor from the UK and keen to make the most of the last of summer/fall we set about visiting all the places. One of our favourite stops was one that we hadn’t really researched much and just planned to stop in as we were driving past. It turned out to be amazing.

Bryce canyon is another one of Utah’s magnificent natural landscapes. When we arrived we had had a chilly night camping, sadly the visitor centre doesn’t have any hot drinks but lots of information about rocks.

Not to be deterred we set about on the scenic route and stopped at a couple of viewpoints. these were stunning. The rocks were very red with pink and orange hues throughout. Most of the canyon is made up of natural needles – pointy stacks that are huge and together look incredible.

We also saw some information stating there had bee some recent mountain lion activity. this as exiting we kept our eyes peeled, but spotting one is unlikely. Bryce canyon however is a popular site for star gazing, a combination of wide open space, elevation, and lack of light pollution make it an ideal spot for gazing into the night sky.

We stopped at a couple of other viewpoints and enjoyed a walk into a small slot canyon we were surprised to find some large trees growing in it. We are planing on going back again when there is a bit more snow as it has some popular cross country ski routes, and to see the sparkly stars. We also will be heading back to a cafe we did find in the local town that did the BEST grilled cheese sandwich. It was AMAZING! I now truly appreciate what Americans are talking about when it comes to grilled sandwiches.

 

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