Ben and I have completed our challenge and ran a half marathon last weekend! 13.1 miles and our legs are not happy with us.
Thankful for all the good wishes and support of our friends and family – what a relief that it’s over! X
And when I say I want to live in Somerset, I mean that I’d love to live in the Cathedral city of Wells. Second smallest city in England.
It was a cloudy and grey day when we arrived for a small day trip in Wells – we had only a few hours here after parking the car and most of that was having a mediocre pub lunch. (Pub in the main square – dry burger). But once we got walking around the market and Cathedral itself, it was much more enjoyable.
The town is a thing of beauty in its preserved architecture in the city centre, and very well appointed. Even though house prices (yes, I’ve checked) are out of our range. This is a city worth a visit and definitely worth having on the ‘I’d live here’ list.
Bonus: if you travel here from London, you will pass Stonehenge! X
My favourite county. Somerset. What a great place. All of my favourite memories are from this part of England, some of the happiest days and weekends I have spent in the company of this beautiful English countryside. And this past weekend was no exception.
I got down to the old Medieval town of Axbridge on Friday night – weary eyed and thirsty for a glass of wine or a cold cider (can’t pass up the cider in Somerset!). Ben and my friends hired out a B&B all to ourselves. It is called the Compton House and it is the most beautiful home. They have the comfiest beds! We all said so. Each room had an ensuite as well – which was great for the couples. We had about 13 or 14 in total, and it was the perfect size.
Axbridge as a town is beautiful. On Saturday, we went on a small walk through the town. Now – here’s why I love Somerset so much. Not only is the countryside one of the most beautiful in England with its green rolling hills and apple orchards, or that the villages are the most perfectly preserved pieces of history, but the people are the friendliest I have ever encountered. Anywhere in the world.
Let me remind you that it was in the lovely Somerset village of Shepton Beauchamp that Ben and I were welcomed to the community by a lovely lady we met at the local choir concert – who then proceeded to introduce us to her friends. I was practically in tears. I fucking love this county.
As we walked aimlessly through the beautiful village, we glanced over to see a cute site – a small box office stall inside a building. It was the box office for the Roxy Cinema – the smallest cinema in England. It seats 30, with room for a love seat at the back for a bit of romance. It also has a fully stocked bar. What a find! As we were awing the cuteness of it all, the owner walked outside and asked us to come in and promptly gave us a tour of the lovely place. Told us all about it history and how it started. And never once was there a sales pitch or being mad that we didn’t purchase a movie ticket. She was just so happy to show us around and tell us her story.
And we had the same thing happen just a bit further down the road at the Almshouse Tea House. The owner was the sweetest gentleman who was so proud of his business (which was doing amazingly good trade!) and his venue’s history. It still has many of the original features – 1450 stands out in my mind as it’s date – but I’ll have to confirm that one.
A tour of Somerset should be on someone’s bucket list. I want to live here.
What a wonderful opportunity! After a successful store opening in Kazan, the team flew to St Petersburg to present new store concepts to the client. Whilst I hate flying and it is probably one of the most stressful things I endure, the joy of touching down in a new country with new culture is enough to keep me going. And Russia is such a different place!
But I surprisingly love it.
I must say that it helps immensely going around with a good friend and translator. I fear I have only been able to pick up ‘Please’ on this trip, but I have added it to my repertoire of words quickly. How strange that a passion for learning this difficult and strange language has already engulfed me! I have been looking at courses ever since I have returned.
We did not get to spend much time in the city as we were with the client most hours, but I certainly saw a lot of it from the taxi window. We did go on a night walk to the old palace, which is now the world famous Hermitage Museum. It is a stunning site, even at night – and such a brilliant green by day!
And we stayed at the W Hotel, which I must say was well appointed and very close to the museum and other churches.
So sorry for the bad image quality as night shots aren’t the best on an iPhone! But I had to share the beauty with you.
On Saturday Ben and I headed to one of my parts of London – Richmond. It is a beautiful oasis on the river, just past Chiswick and Kew (also lovely parts of the world). We have memories here from our days of living in nearby Chiswick, however moving north to Stortford we’ve not been able to visit since!
We arrived after a rainstorm on Saturday – the air fresh and the sun shining. After checking in at our hotel, the Bingham, an witnessing a small backyard wedding (!!) we walked down to the main streets of the town. Richmond is stunning in the sunshine! After wandering in and out of shops, we found ourselves along the Thames and decided to walk back to the hotel along this lovely stretch of river.
At night, we jumped on the opportunity to have local craft beer in the Craft Beer Cellar which was properly packed – and shared a pint of IPA which was delicious.
As I left early the next morning for Russia, Ben stayed on in Richmond to enjoy a few more of the sites, as well as reminisce in our old home town of Chiswick.
The other week I went on a business trip to Kazan in Russia to review a new store we designed. I headed there armed with no more than my notebook, iPhone (for pictures), tape measure, and a pack of drawings. And even as we boarded our first flight towards Moscow, I had no idea what to expect.
And I was pleasantly surprised.
When we arrived to Kazan in darkness after a day of traveling, I jumped into a taxi with my coworkers unable to speak any form of the complex language. I felt entirely in the hands of my friend and translator – where would I be without her! And I quickly learned that Ben’s driving is significantly better and safer than I previously believed. I saw nothing of the city that night except for car parks and our hotel lobby, with a blackness in the distance that could have only been one of the lakes or rivers that run through the city.
When I woke up to sunshine and 20 degree (C) weather, everything looked so much different! What a stunning city in the sun!
We had a small bit of spare time on the last day we were there and thus we walked down the main shopping street to the Kremlin. On the street was fantastic architectural buildings from old Russia, and ending with the beautiful white brick of the Kremlin against the blue sky was a definite treat.
We ate pilaf which was delicious – and sampled a Russian dessert which was a light mousse with chocolate on the outside, but rolled up into a ball. It was delicious. I can’t remember what it was called. We had fruit juice water which was very tasty – and a tea flavoured with autumn (apples, cinnamon, and green tea).
Plus by the end of my trip, my lovely friend taught me some words! I can now say ‘good afternoon,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘goodbye,’ and my room number in Russian!
Stay tuned – I’m heading to St Petersburg in 2 weeks time! X
Ben and I have always adored the colour navy. The best of the blue hues. Its a deep and beautiful colour, full of the mystery of black but the softness of pinks. When paired with other colours and details it can sharpen them and highlight even minute details.
My engagement ring is also a sapphire – a beautiful rich navy blue.
So what do you think of using blue as our wedding colour? I thought I’d put some inspiration for your thoughts. Would it be too much for a spring wedding? x
Ben has asked me to marry him – and I said yes!
What a crazy whirlwind it has been since then. I have been neck deep in bridal blogs and wedding venue sites, looking aimlessly at Pinterest boards and budgets, and have been freaking out every time I look at my left hand. What!
So I am so sorry it’s been such a long time since I have posted! Things have gone a bit upside down and priorities have certainly shifted! (I do not dare to open up my Duolingo that I haven’t touched – no doubt that owl has certainly taken away some of my levels by now.) But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
We have received such an outpouring of love and support that it is overwhelming and so beautiful all at once. We have promised to print out and keep all of the words that have been said as it has been our motivation and has certainly meant so much to us!
So let me tell you how it happened: we were walking back to our home rail station from The Globe after an amazing and wonderful birthday day in London. We walked over the Millennium Bridge and Ben wandered up to Saint Paul’s Cathedral which is just on the other side of the river. I took a couple of choice photographs thinking this will be great for the blog. Then as we wandered up the steps to the entrance of the Cathedral, Ben turned me around, got on one knee and asked me to marry him!
I was so overwhelmed I barely remember what he said.
So I am going to be marrying the most wonderful man in the world – ah! I cannot be more happy or excited. X
I had the most exciting Sunday this past week – it was my birthday! I know some people might not feel like their birthdays are a big deal, but I always feel like that day is super special to me.
We returned from France on the Saturday, and this was my one day between the holiday am starting back at work. I thought Ben and I could spend it quietly at home in Bishops Stortford – maybe going to a nice brunch and spending the remainder of the day in the sunshine.
Little did I know he had something entirely different up his sleeve!
We boarded our train into London Liverpool Street around 11am, after a morning of coffee and bagels (yum!!) I thought – are we going to the Southbank? Shoreditch? Islington? Is he just teasing me and we are only going to the next town down the line?
I followed him all the way to Canary Wharf, where we got off of the DLR and walked to the Museum of London. First order of the day was to see the exhibition on slavery and sugar import in the docklands. It’s fascinating, and takes you through London’s history up until preset day- including a life size model of what the city would have looked like in the 17/1800s! Highly recommend it.
Afterwards, we took a lovely walk through the new part of the city (which reminds me of New York really..) and ‘stumbled’ upon the Thames Clipper! I had never been on the Thames before for anything – and so we boarded heading towards the older part of the city. We cruised past the Docklands and under Tower Bridge which was AMAZING to see at that angle, and disembarked at Embankment. Next on our plan for the day: Gordon’s Wine Bar!
I ADORE this wine bar. It was the location for Ben and my first date, and has been the scene of many of my meet ups with friends since. They serve my favourite bottle of red wine in the world – Chianti Conti Serristori. Adore. Adore. Adore.
With this and a bite to eat at the best place to grab a Bratwurst hot dog (Herman ze German), we walked across our bridge to the SouthBank. The last thing we were going to do today, Ben told me, was watch Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
I had the most amazing birthday. Ending the day with a walk along Millennium Bridge back towards Liverpool Street with St Paul’s in our midst, I felt already on cloud nine. This – if you want to copy it my friends – comprised the happiest day of my life.