Tuesday, 25 October 2016

8 Years In

Around 2pm today Mark and I will have been married for 8 years.  During this time we’ve lived in 7 different houses, 3 countries, and we’ve visited lots of towns in Cyprus, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia together as well as holidays in Spain, Borneo and the odd road trip in the UK.  Although there's been some really rough times in there where we’ve just held tight, we’ve mostly had plain sailing and have certainly been blessed. 
However, I do wish I could go back and squeeze my 23 year old self and say marriage will be ok. 

I freaked out so badly and made myself so ill before our wedding.  I knew I wanted my marriage to last forever, I didn’t just want a wedding, I wanted ‘everything’ so I knew I had to put work into it.  I was worried that I didn’t have role models or that I was too young.  I kept thinking about calling off the wedding so we could work harder on ourselves, I just wanted a test I could pass to say we could do this.  I wish I knew then, and reminded myself that Mark was a good person who would reassure me when times were tough. 
I would explain to my 23 year old self that the Honeymoon phase was a downright lie for us.
I was writing my 2nd dissertation in a year, I was trying to write 20,000 words and keep a house and work 20 hours a week and volunteer and be home with our little dog.  I wanted a family (which would have been crazy young for me) and I wanted a full time job already.  I wanted somewhere bigger than our tiny 1 bedroom flat with a cupboard of a kitchen.  I wish I knew then that I wasn’t expected to do it all and listened when Mark reminded me of this.
I would tell my 23 year old self not to worry and that time will go so quickly and I shouldn’t ever rush it.
I don’t want it to sound too clichéd but we’ve been on some amazing adventures, but we’ve also gone through the tough stuff in between.  We’ve dragged our belongings from hotel to hotel between renting and moving to the other side of the world.  We’ve cared for each other when we’re ill or had scary hospital treatments and comforted each other in grief.    
I would tell my 23 year old self that we’ll hire yachts for nights out and go to parties at the High Commissioners house; we’ll go snorkelling in crystal clear oceans and watch the sunset over Borneo from our cabana.  We’ll meet some interesting characters in Spain at a little restaurant by the sea and care for foster children in our own home.    But we’ll also have countless special times together which would be insignificant to anyone else, having breakfast out on a Saturday in Ellon, having brunch out on a Sunday in Singapore, trips to Edinburgh or staying at the Marcliffe, BBQing at Benachie, afternoon tea at Pittodrie House, singing carols in Cruden Bay, dancing at weddings and all those silly code words that can make us laugh that no one else would understand.
I wish I could tell my 24 year old self that we’ll both slowly become new people, maybe more patient or assertive and we’ll build a life that we’ll love.  Happy Anniversary Mark!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Road tripping and New Kennels

What did you do this weekend?  I went to Hogwarts!  Ok, I went on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden, Watford but you know, close enough.

Mark and I are a bit run down with colds right now so as long as he’s feeling better I will hijack the cute pictures he managed to take and fill up a post on why you should stop what you’re doing and go on the tour!

In the meantime I thought I could keep a note of the day before when we drove up to Watford, so that I’d not have to get up early on tour day.

On the Thursday before we travelled Mark ended up needing to stay late at work for a meeting…….. and then we got stuck in really bad traffic.  So by the time we were on the road home we knew we wanted to treat ourselves to some carry out Chinese food and not have to bother about finding something in the freezer.  Unfortunately the first place we went to didn’t take a card, “that’s ok” I said, “let’s just go to the normal place”, except they don’t take cards either and the cash machine next to them was broken….  Fast forward to a trip into town to get money and Mark making a phone order to speed the process up and I was munching into my delicious salt and pepper chicken in less than half an hour.  Not exactly the peaceful start to ‘our anniversary trip’ I envisaged.
leaving work in the dark
By this time it was about 9 so we decided to do a quick tidy up and then head straight to bed.  When we eventually got up on Friday (alarm free!) Mark started packing our things whilst I packed Daisy’s belongings and then went for a short walk with her.  We managed to get into the car pretty quickly and dropped her off at her new ‘kennels’ in Devon.  We’re now putting her to La Dee Da Dog which is a home boarding option for those pampered pooches who haven’t seen in the inside of a regular kennel.  Actually it works out a lot cheaper than half of the kennels I looked up, and although they did look fantastic, Daisy’s not used to them so we didn’t feel it was appropriate for her.  When we found Dee we were very happy with her big garden, comfy chairs for pups to lounge on and kind nature.

With Daisy waved off we headed onto the road, well I say road, but there was a slight miscommunication and the tickets weren’t picked up so after that little detour and a trip to Tesco we were on the road.
just a wee snack for the road
I picked the Watford Mercure hotel to stay at because 1) it was the second cheapest hotel at £55 for a very large family room 2) it had a pool which would keep us entertained when not at the studios. 3) they accepted taste card at their own restaurant 4) free parking.  As this was supposed to be a super budget trip we more than happy with what we got.

We got to Watford really quickly and were pleasantly surprised that it was very easy to find our hotel, we parked up and went straight into the reception who checked us in no problem.  We found our room which happened to be near to the pool and planned on jumping right in, except for there was a swimming class and anyone not involved could only use the Jacuzzi, steam room or sauna.  After faffing about for an hour and hoping in and out of the things we were allowed to use we eventually got in the pool for half an hour before deciding we were hungry! 

We decided to just eat at the hotel because we couldn’t be bothered going out and we found that they were on taste card so we might as well use a 2 for 1 deal on it.  I had a burger and then sticky toffee pudding and I don’t remember what Mark had, but he did like it.  When our bill came they knocked off about £21 so it was exceptionally good value.
sneak peak
All in all it was a very easy trip and I would definitely recommend the hotel as a great cheap and cheerful option for anyone visiting the Warner Brothers Studio in Watford.  Can’t wait to write up about the actual tour now, I desperately want to be back!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Feeling Thankful

A couple of years ago when we lived in Singapore we were invited to a thanksgiving party by some Americans and also hosted a thanksgiving dinner at home.  When I was little we used to visit my Granda’s old army friend in Canada and often went at Thanksgiving time for them and joined in on their celebrations. 
Although this isn’t somethings we’ll do again, it was really fun and sweet (from an outsiders perspective) to gather round when the season changes and give thanks for everything we have. 
So in honour of Canadian thanksgiving:
I'm thankful that we have a cosy house of our own.  When we started saving up to buy whilst living in Aberdeen I never thought we’d first become homeowners in the middle of Devon.
I'm thankful that we have the ability to travel around our beautiful new county and visit rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, hills, moors, rivers and valleys.  Where we live is gorgeous, the route we take to travel to work each day is breathtakingly beautiful and I shouldn’t be so blasé about it.
I'm thankful we have the ability to stop in by cosy county pubs or grand hotels to eat.  We’re able to go to places people only visit on holiday, and I call this place my home.
I'm thankful we get amazing summer weather which means I can use an outdoor swimming pool without getting frostbite, and although I do miss having a white Christmas, I'm grateful that our heating bills are much lower now due to a milder climate.
Most importantly, and after everything Mark has been through, I'm thankful for our good health.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Impey Walk

On Saturday Mark and I took full advantage of the glorious autumn weather and headed out to Knightshayes for a sit down and rest for him / walk for me and Daisy in the sunshine.

Daisy and I headed to the top car park and walked past the kiddos making dens in the woods to follow the path out through the trees to start our walk.  I love the Impey walk and think it’s a great opportunity for her to be off the lead and sniff around in the ‘proper countryside’ like she used to in Scotland.  I love to see her run free without a care in the world and just go wherever her nose takes her.

This is a super easy walk and we passed a few other people out with dogs and kids, as we started at the top of the hill it was a very easy downhill walk.  Everyone was going the opposite way from us which meant we were only in each other’s company for a little while which fitted in with us perfectly.  Although Daisy is good off the lead, I wouldn’t have let her run quite so free if there was a convoy of people as she’d be very inclined to say hello (read: putting her paws on their knee to signal she wants attention)
Instead of looping back up the hill we walked out the lower entrance and to the tea room where Mark had bagged a lovely spot in the sun to have his black coffee in.  I got some tea and although I did look at the sweet treats, I decided it as it would be just too mean to make Mark watch me nibble cake.

We stayed out for a little while before it started to get a little bit dark (not hard at this time of year!) and whilst Mark headed for the car, I started to walk Daisy down the hill so I could tire her out a bit more before home time.
It was a really lovely way to spend the day, especially as things have been a bit all over the place with Mark being hospitalised so I was full of joy to be out and about having a nice relaxing time.  It’s such a pretty part of the countryside and I always feel more at home being out on a hill and it felt like ages since I’d really been outside and a bit peaceful.  Let’s hope there are plenty more walks and eventually hikes with Mark at my side! 


Sooo, it’s been a bit busy lately.  Poor Mark was rushed into hospital and for about a week I rushed from home to work to hospital and back again, I was out of the house for 13 hours each day and exhausted.  No time for blogging then.  Also, nobody wants to see a review of the café at RDE.
When Marks on the mend I’m sure we’ll be out and about again, but for now we are adventure free….which I have to say, I really quite like.