Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Currently in May

Appreciating this life I've got. Everything feels so good at the moment I'm savouring every feeling.
Saying goodbye to some really special people this month. We live on a mission training base and various friends who have been living in our community are now beginning to leave to go to their various different countries. Its such a privilege to live along side such brave and obedient people. I'm inspired all the time. 
Hoping the next bunch of mission trainees are going to be as much fun as this lot have been.
Learning to love people better. 
Anticipating our holiday to Thailand! Yes, Thailand! We leave in about 4 weeks. I can't wait. We've been reassured that everything will be ok despite what is going on over there at the moment.  
Eating no carbohydrates or sugar! I feel sooooo much better for it too. It's not always easy and I do allow myself the odd treat or night off but it's definitely something I can continue to do. 
Watching Game of Thrones season 4. So intense! Who else is watching??
Planning activities to do in Thailand. Something with elephants I think!
Working in bed currently with a stomach ache. Boohooo. We just bought new pillows & duvet though so I'm as comfortable as can be.
Enjoying the time off Sam has had recently with bank holidays and hours owed back. So nice to have him home with me in the daytime.
Ordering maybe a new bikini....I'll see what Sam has to say about that.
Wanting time to slow down. 
Drinking coffee all the time now we have our nespresso machine. I never thought I'd care much for a coffee machine but now I wouldn't go back. Who needs to go out for quality coffee when you can have it in your own home (in bed, like I am now!)
Looking forward to new adventures and experiences in the coming months. Things are rapidly changing for us (no, not pregnant yet!) but other exciting things on the horizon!
Celebrating NEARLY 3 years of marriage. We'll be in Thailand for cocktails! 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Isle of Islay, Scotland: Rockside Pony Beach Trek

Had to give you another peek of another morning at breakfast. This was Easter Sunday and they got us each Cadbury's creme egg! Nom!
Also, each day the hosts prepared picnic baskets that we weren't expecting at all which included some home baking, a flask of hot water and an array of teas and coffees! It was details like this that made our stay so amazing.

On the day of the Laphroaig distillery tour (my last post) we overheard a couple on our tasting tour say they were going pony trekking on the beach. My ears instantly pricked up because that's something I've always wanted to do! We did a three hour horse trek up mountains on our honeymoon but getting to ride a horse on a beach was something different! I gave the eye to Sam and he knew what I wanted. After the tour Sam was on the phone to our b&b hosts asking them to help us get onto this pony trek last minute. With an hour to spare we got a call to say they could fit us in. It was a 40 minute drive to the stables so we skipped lunch and drove straight there. Thank goodness for the picnic baskets because we sat down at the stables for a quick afternoon tea refuel before being taken to our horses.

The weather the whole time we were in Scotland was absolutely incredible. It hadn't been as warm as this in a really long time but the day of the beach trek God gave us THE best weather. It was warm with a cool breeze and I totally lived my dream of riding a horse along the beach and close to the sea. It was the most beautiful beach too. We had a 2hr session over the beach and the hills. So goooood!

I love spontaneous trips like this. There's so much more magic in them.

In our final few days we drove around exploring the island, enjoying the warm sunshine and taking in the scenery around us. God really did good with this Earth of ours.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Isle of Islay, Scotland: Laphroaig & Lagavulin Distillery Tours

Hey, I was totally wrong with my initial thoughts on visiting whiskey distilleries. We did tours and tasting with two of our favourite ones Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Others we visited briefly which was totally worth it because you'd always get a wee dram when you went in. (That's scottish for a little glass of whiskey!) The Laphroaig tour was really good. Sam was in his element and I was genuinely interested! hah. We learnt the process from the very start where we got to taste the grain in different stages. We even got to stand in one of the areas where the grain will get smoked to give the whiskey it's peaty have no idea what I'm talking about do you???!! No me neither! I'll stop there and let the pictures speak to you...

The above photo is when we got  to try what is called 'wash'. Its whiskey before it's distilled and it tastes like warm beer. Ugh.

A quick photo of Jura when we drove past and Sam waiting for the tasting session to begin!

The Laphroaig tasting was particularly good because we got a little nibble with each different cask strength. Sam, bless him, was brave enough to try to Roquefort with the first taster and he HATES cheese. He did so well except I had to laugh because we washed it down pretty quickly and topped his water glass up a few times. 
Here we tried the 10 year (Sam's favourite), the Quarter cask (my favourite) and the 18 year. We bought a bottle of Quarter cask to bring home with us since we both liked it.
The Laphroaig distillery is well worth a visit if ever you visit Islay and I would definitely do the tasting tour.

Next stop and also note, next day, we visited the Lagavulin distillery. I prefer this over Laphroaig because I think it tastes sweeter. Also, most of the distilleries are painted white on the building with big black bold lettering so that when you're coming in on the ferry you can see them from far off. 

There were no nibbled with the Lagavulin tasting but we did get to try whiskey straight from the still before it is casked. It was amazing actually tasting whiskey that way and fun to learn that it's the cask that gives the whiskey it's colouring not anything that is added to it. The tasting took about an hour and we had such a fun group of people on tour with us.
I've now got a new appreciation for whiskey and a husband who wants to make his own at home...

SO fun and so worth doing!
We managed to have a quick visit to Bowmore, Caol Ila, Ardbeg and Kilchoman too.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Isle of Islay, Scotland: Tarbet, Gleneagedale & the World's Best Breakfast

So we went on a quick break to Scotland a few weeks ago. Sam had a few days when his work place was closed so I stole the opportunity and got him to agree to a trip away. Wasn't that hard really. I gave him the task of deciding where to go and he surprised me with choosing Scotland. Little did I know he had bigger go to Isle of Islay where they have 8 different whiskey distilleries! He covered the idea up by suggesting it was the best place to take our new motor since we could practice driving and get used to her. 

So introducing Duchess. (the third). 

We left pretty late in the afternoon because we were anxiously waiting to pick her up. Finally after we were given the keys we drove straight up to Tarbet which should have taken 5hrs but took 7 because of traffic. It went quickly though because we were working out what buttons did what in the new car and powered through with snacks and a service station KFC sharing box. 

We arrived late that evening and went straight to the comfiest bed I've ever slept in. It was amazing. We stayed at the Glebe Country House right on Loch Lomond. Sadly driving up we couldn't see any scenery so when we woke up in the morning we were surprised with all the beauty surrounding us! I could not recommend this place to stay enough! This was only a one night stop for us but it was so worth it. We sat right in the bay window for breakfast the next morning where we ate a buffet of fruit, cereal, yoghurt and toast followed by a cooked breakfast with a tattie scone too of course! Even though we were the only two staying they went all out for us. Such great hospitality! 

Above was the view from our bedroom which we were sad to leave but we had to head off to catch the ferry to Islay. It was a 2hr journey so we had to treat ourselves to a cold brew. 

It was a 10 minute drive from the ferry to our next place to stay. Glenegedale House. What a place! I can't tell you how much of a treat it was to be here. We had no expectations at all, in fact we didn't look too much at it because we literally booked this 2 days before we were due to leave for Scotland and boy, were we spoiled! We were shown to our room as soon as we got there which was beautiful and then given afternoon tea in the main lounge straight away. So welcome after a long journey and so delicious! We couldn't believe what we'd walked into!

Our first nights dinner was booked for us by the couple running our b&b and they recommended a great place where we enjoyed a three course meal finished off by a drink at the whiskey bar where they were playing live music!

Breakfast was equally a very pleasant surprise! We had a breakfast buffet of all the fresh fruit you could think of, yoghurt and cereals followed by porridge if you wanted and a cooked breakfast complete with haggis!
The host also made banana bread, muffins and other baked delights! This was all set on vintage crockery. It could not have been more perfect.

More on Isle of Islay in the next few posts...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Baby Sister's Wedding (Natalie & Sam)

Isn't she the most beautiful bride??!! When I saw Natalie the morning of her wedding she still looked like 'Little Natalie' to me. She is only a year younger than me, and she will hate me for saying it but she always seemed much younger! Maybe because she is so much shorter than me and sweet! Weddings are pretty weird. It didn't really feel like her wedding day, even when all us bridesmaids were doing each other's hair and makeup and fussing over every little detail. The wedding wasn't until 3pm either so we felt (or it seemed) pretty relaxed. 
Then I started to do her makeup (I'm pretty proud of the job I did on that!) and all the emotions started rushing in. I wanted everything to be so perfect for her. Then she put on her dress and she was suddenly this grown up girl I'd never seen before! She really looked amazing. 

The ceremony was beautiful and the reception soooooo much fun. I loved hanging out with family I hadn't seen for a while and loved seeing Natalie surrounded by all her friends and people who loved them. It's funny when you see your sister interacting with the people she went to university with or new friends she's made since becoming a couple. I felt like everything was going to be alright. I'm always worrying about her. She always tells me to stop playing 'mom' but I can't help it. Maybe a little bit of me let go of that when I knew she was married now and had her own life and family to create. 

It was a joyous day anyway, I survived wearing my bridesmaids dress and my Sam kept making me laugh. I love marriage! 

I didn't take my chunky camera on the day and I only took a couple of phone photos. Maybe Natalie will let me share a few pics when she gets them back because this is the only photo I took of her wedding cake that I made. SOOOO proud of it. It turned out so good. You might not be able to tell from the picture but the purple icing has an ombre effect as you go up each layer. It was fruit, lemon and chocolate! Yum. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Baby Sister's Hen Weekend

My little sister got married on April 12th but the weekend before that we had a family girls weekend away. We did something similar for my hen, just momma and my sisters so I think it's going to be our tradition and when big sister gets married we'll do the same. It's such a special time for us all. Even though it's not the last time we'll be together it's still so lovely to get away to our own space and create special memories. Of course, we're going to probably fall out a little bit too (too many personalities in one family!) but ultimately this was a really wonderful weekend together!

Apologies for the photo below. hah. Looks so staged - never take photos against a white background!

Of course, any good weekend (or any weekend for that matter) involves really good food. The first night we ate in our hotel restaurant, thanks for the 25% off voucher we got when booking. It was pretty good, even if mom's salmon was a little funny for Natalie's pasta was too spicy! These are the memories we make. hah. The starters were good though.

We might have had a cooked breakfast both mornings but I won't tell if you don't!

As per tradition we ended up at a National Trust place Tatton Park. The day was VERY wet but that didn't put a damper on any of our plans. It was a really nice place with a gift and tea shop (obligatory). The place was so big I don't think we fully explored the place. Maybe another time when the sun's out and we're a little more motivated to wander.

That evening we went to Bridgewater Hall to hear classical concert "Holst's: The Planets". Natalie has always wanted to hear them so it was a big treat for her. To start with I wasn't too bothered but hearing classical music live is soooooo good. It felt really emotional, especially 'Jupiter'. There may have been a few watery eyes from a few of us. Worth hearing.

JUST A LITTLE BIT EMOTIONAL thinking about her being married!

AND WHAT A TREAT to return to our hotel room afterwards to champagne (actually perry!). The hotel staff had no idea we were on a hen weekend until late into the day and then left this as a little surprise. SO NICE. We opened up a box or two of ferreo rocher, got into our pjs and cuddled up into one big bed to watch a bit of tele. Perfect.

This was earlier at the National Trust house. Maybe don't do this in the future, you might get asked to 'move on please'. Ooops.