#InntravelCaptureYork

I was lucky enough to be invited along with a few other bloggers to an event two Sundays ago in York with well-known street photographer, Keith Moss. Although I had checked out Keith’s website full of his incredible work, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on the day. I know I was hoping to learn more about effectively using my DSLR, and that certainly happened, but the whole day was so much more than that. It was about putting fear aside and putting yourself out there for something you are passionate about.

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It was extremely apparent that Keith was passionate about his photography before even meeting him. If you take one look at his black-and-white photos on his website, you immediately feel a connection between the photographer and the people he photographs. People he has never met before, but merely he has seen during his travels.

Because of his knowledge and passion, it was incredible learning from him. He taught us the basics of our cameras and how to best utilise the various settings on them, which was necessary knowledge to start off the day. After practicing those skills by snapping photos of each other, Keith encouraged us to set out into the city and find places we thought might be good to capture our own street photography.

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I will admit that this bit was nerve-wracking for me as we ventured out to capture people going about their days. The perfectionist in me definitely showed itself as I became frustrated when I couldn’t get a shot to look how I thought it should. When we met up again, I mentioned that I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the photos that I took. Keith said that was completely fine as this session wasn’t about getting the best shot as that will take loads of practice, but rather it was for obtaining the skills to give us confidence behind the camera taking a variety of different photos. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me and a good reminder to cut myself some slack and to not stop working for something you want to pursue and excel at. I also appreciated that he said that grittiness and imperfections in photos are sometimes what makes them, which were qualities in some of the photos that I took and happen to like from the day.

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It was a really great day of learning and meeting new people. And, I was pleasantly surprised once I got home and had another look at some of my photos that they weren’t all bad!

Big thanks to Keith for all of his teachings, to Inntravel for hosting the day, and to Zeal Buzz for inviting me along!

Stumbled upon my favorites having lunch when I was out practicing my street photography…

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Loved seeing these two and their smiles at the end of the day…

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A (birth)Day at the Races

For birthday celebration number two (you can read about the 1st celebration here), we decided to attend Ebor Day at York Racecourse. The Brit had been wanting me to experience a good old-fashioned English day out at the races for awhile, so it worked perfectly that one of the biggest races of the year in York took place so close to my birthday. I, of course, was excited to spend time with our friends…and to drink champagne and wear my fascinator!

When we arrived at the train station to head to York, we were greeted by our lovely friends, who had brought buck’s fizz (aka mimosas in the U.S.) and croissants for our journey to the race course. We were off on our merry way and the weather was surprisingly lovely seeing as how horrible most of the summer had been, so we were excited.

If you know the Brit and his group of friends at all, then you know that when it comes time to celebrate or enjoy a day out in which we are all dressed nicely they head straight for the champagne, and this day was no different. We had booked  badges for the County Stand allowing us access to most every part of the course and stands, so as soon as we went through the entrance we found ourselves imbibing at the champagne lawn.

I think we need a set of these Pimm’s chairs in our back garden!

After a few glasses bottles, we strolled over to the Fifth Floor of the Ebor Stand as we had booked in for the Fish and Fizz and the Carvery. It was a good deal since it included food and a drink, so we decided to book this when we booked our badges about a month earlier. The Fish and Fizz was basically loads of seafood piled on a plate — I’m not going to complain about that! I didn’t take a photo, so you’ll have to trust me on the ‘loads’ bit. Three of us had this and the other went for the carvery, which was apparently just as good.

As we were finishing, the first of the races was due to begin and two more of our friends had just arrived, so we set off in search of them and for somewhere to place some bets…not difficult at a race course! I’m not much of a gambler, but I would pick 2 horses and put a few pounds on them to win either way. I actually did well and came out just over £9 ahead of where I started. I was betting measly amounts compared to some of those people though. I heard a man put £10,000 on one horse…just wow. It was definitely a new experience for me to see people throwing that much money around.

There were seven races throughout the day, so we spent it flitting between the finish line and the paddock area where they bring the horses out. These horses are seriously beautiful creatures. And, the legs on some of them? So. Long. I don’t think I have paid much attention before, but a few of those horses were exceptionally tall. I realize this all sounds strange, but I was in awe. Then, in comparison, we have the jockeys, and they are just so small!

Watching the final race from the stands.

We were at the race course from 11:30 AM until about 6:30 PM, and I could not believe how quickly the day went. It did rain for the last hour or so, but we just popped open our umbrellas and all was fine. (I mean it wouldn’t truly have been a day out in England this summer if it hadn’t rained!) I really enjoyed taking part in this British tradition of spending a day at the races, even better celebrating my birthday there! So, thank you to the Brit for arranging it and to our lovely friends for joining us!

On turning 30….

I’m crawling out of my dissertation/procrastination hole for a brief post, and although I have a load of other things I can’t wait to write about, I felt it was important to share….

Yesterday, I turned 30.

I was talking to the Brit at breakfast yesterday about how as a child I always looked at 30 as the age that is the epitome of old. But, wow, young me was very wrong.

I feel like I have so much living left to do!

I feel like I have learned so much in the past 30 years…about family, love, friendships, relationships…about me.

I feel like this life I am living right now is the one I was searching for (despite this pesky dissertation causing me to push the pause button for the next 2 weeks).

And no, I don’t have some amazing job lined up for when September 3rd rolls around and I hand in my dissertation, but I look ahead and I can only see the future as being bright.

These past few months, as I thought about entering a new decade of life, I reflected on where I thought I would be at this time in my life. And, I will admit that where I am is not where I thought I would be. But, I wouldn’t change a thing. I know this life is the one I was meant to live, and that the path I was once headed down was not right for me (maybe, someday, I’ll write about that, but for now, I’d like to focus on the now).

This year, I am completing one of my life’s goals and will – barring any potential dissertation disasters – graduate with my Master’s degree!

This year, I ran my second (and last) marathon and kept myself accountable by completing the one thing I told myself I would do in the year that I turned 30.

This year, I moved to England. It hasn’t been the easiest year as I left everything that seemed familiar and comfortable to me. However, every time I get on a plane to return to England, I always know and feel how right it is to be heading east and back across the Atlantic to Yorkshire.

This year has been eye-opening, as I’ve discovered a lot about myself and about the type of person, fiancee/wife, daughter, sister, and friend that I want to be. I have to say that it is tough to admit to yourself that you haven’t been living your life as purposefully and intentionally as you should be. I have learned that I need to listen more and talk less, which is something I used to be better at and plan to work on for the future. I also have learned that sometimes I must step back, slow down, and relax. And, that I need to admit that I am not always right. (This one sounds so easy and like something I should have learned long ago, but I do struggle with it.) So, this year has taught me that living purposefully is a work in progress and one I want to focus time on.

This year, I learned a lot about how to make a relationship really work. With the Brit, I’ve learned what it means to truly love someone through it all and that this love we have is worth all the fight in the world. I know now that laughing every day is important to how he and I work. I know that although the majority of our relationship has been spent living on separate continents that I am not prepared for that to ever happen again, and I can’t wait to say that the majority of our relationship has been spent living together – that date is approaching! I am so excited that I can say that this year I am marrying my best friend and true partner in life.

This year has been amazing and I know it will only get better. I cannot wait to see what is to come! So, because of that, how does one celebrate a fabulous year and turning 30?! The only way I’ve ever known how to celebrate my birthday – by turning it into a month-long affair! I’ll hopefully get a post up tomorrow about what we did yesterday to celebrate the actual day of my birth, which includes some favorite American treats!

It’s just not cricket.

(I asked the Brit to help me come up with a title for this blog post and he informed me that they use the saying of ‘It’s just not cricket’ when something isn’t right. So, there you go and I just learned something today!)

Today, the Brit and I were supposed to be sitting in the sun at Headingley watching the England v. West Indies One Day International cricket match. Instead, he’s working from home and I’m applying to jobs while listening to the radio commentary from Headingley as we watch the rain pour down outside. (In the words of the English, ‘It is absolutely pissing it down!’) The match was set to begin at 10:30 and has yet to officially be called off, but it is difficult to imagine how the cricket grounds will be playable in the midst of this downpour.

Not only was I looking forward to spending the day with the Brit as it feels like we haven’t seen each other these past two weeks, I was also excited to see some cricket live. All credit to the Brit as he has tried many a time to explain the game to me while watching it on telly and because of that I do understand the very basics of it. However, I knew that if I could see the whole thing happening at once that I would understand it more fully and pick the rules up faster. But unfortunately, I think my cricket lesson will have to be postponed.

Oh, I have seen one other cricket match live, but I don’t think I can count it. It was a match in which the Brit’s 6-year old godson was playing. Granted, it was absolutely adorable to see the little ones in their cricket whites, but all I could think of were the days of my brother playing tee-ball when he was young. (For those who might not know, tee-ball is baseball for little kids in which they hit the baseball off of a tee instead of it being pitched to them.) It was a hysterical mess of cuteness!

So, although today’s match looks like a wash, I’m hoping we can soon catch a live cricket match as I’m really interested in learning more about the sport. And, I hope that the sun comes back. I really hope I didn’t curse the weather with my last blog post!

Mom knows best.

I’m hyped up on caffeine as I power through the last 4000 words (yea, I still have a lot to write) due at 4:30 PM on Monday. As I stare blankly at my notes trying to form coherent sentences, I can’t help but think back to my undergraduate days.

I’m a consistent procrastinator when it comes to writing essays (Researching and taking notes though? Not a problem!), so this was an issue of mine as I studied for my Bachelor’s degree too. Often, I would call my mom the night before the paper was due stressed to the max that I wouldn’t finish it on time. (Yes, I realize this was my fault.)

Regardless of my stupidity, she always knew just what to say to calm me down and get me refocused to power through the night. One of my all-time favorite lines of hers is, “You can do anything for 24 hours.”  I still think of it when I need to just get to the other side of a tough assignment or a stressful meeting because you know what is waiting for me at the end? Usually, non-junk food, a glass or two of wine, my bum on the couch, mindless television, and a good night of sleep.

Mom, thank you for always saying the right things (whether or not I recognized they were the right things at the time!) and for supporting me in everything I do. Thank you for being a strong and independent woman. Thank you for showing me that it is okay not to settle. Thank you for teaching me that just because you try something and it doesn’t work out that it doesn’t mean you failed. Thank you for loving A and I the way you do and opening your arms and your heart to our loves. Thank you for being a woman I am proud to take after (even if I do cringe a little every time the Brit calls me ‘mini Mary’!).

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you.

Thanks for making my friends always feel like part of the family, too! Photo from my brother’s wedding — my best friend, her fiance, Mom, me, the Brit.

P.S. As I’m sure my UK readers have gathered, Mother’s Day in the U.S. is not the same day as it is in the UK.

 

It’s going to be a great weekend!

I wasn’t going to blog again until we returned from the States hungover with love and memories (and booze, of course) after a weekend of celebrating my brother and his soon-to-be wife. Then, I got an e-mail from my other ‘brother’ (my brother’s best friend/best man and our neighbor growing up, who, whether he likes it or not, has been adopted unofficially into our family) that suggested he was surprised I hadn’t written about our ‘big trip’ this weekend. So, Jon, here we go…no crying, remember?! 🙂

The truth is, it is a VERY big weekend for us! My little brother is getting married! I won’t embarrass him too much in this post, but I do have a few things to say about A.

My brother is a great man. A tough guy with a big heart. Tells it like it is. Always good for a laugh. Can talk to anyone. A hard worker. Loves his family and friends like mad. Protective. A best friend. Gives awesome hugs. Just an all-around genuine person.

Nothing but laughs with this one!

Sometimes, we butt heads, but we always get over it. I’ve given him my share of sisterly advice and probably way more than he has ever wanted, but he always listens even if he rarely takes said advice…that’s how it goes though! And, I understand. I get it. It is his life, but I’ve always wanted only the very best for him. I know this weekend will bring nothing but the best for him. And, that? That makes me smile and get teary-eyed.

With their crazy pup!

A has had a few girlfriends throughout the years and none of them were ever good enough…this is my completely unbiased older sister opinion, by the way, and not his words! But then, he met K. I remember it like it was yesterday…we were talking on the phone as I drove home from work when I lived in Washington. He had called to tell me he had a date with this girl and I could tell that A really liked her. I could tell this one was different.

This was in January 2010, and I didn’t actually meet her until November 2010, but I already liked her without meeting her. (Gasp!) She makes my brother happy and that meant the world to me. I’m so thrilled for the two of them as they start this new adventure together. And, Richard and I can’t wait to be part of their big day on Saturday!

Cheers and big love to my baby brother and his soon-to-be wife! We are beyond thrilled for the two of you!

Love you two!

Where has this month gone?

It’s been hectic around here, but I’m not sure why exactly. I’m on my Easter holidays from university (and have been for the past month), so I often find myself wondering what exactly I’ve been doing to make the days fly by.

The Brit had to work in London, so I tagged along for the overnight. The weather was glorious and I enjoyed walking around checking out the shops while he worked. We didn’t do anything overly exciting while there, but it was fun to get out of Yorkshire for even 48 hours.

That same week held a special day for us in our dating history and the Brit surprised me by making dinner reservations at the Fourth Floor in Harvey Nichols Leeds on the Saturday night. So, we took the bus (I still can’t believe I got him to ride the bus!) to the train station and the train into Leeds, so we could both enjoy wine and whatever other cocktails we might fancy.

We got into Leeds thinking we could walk around and check out some shops, but the wind was blowing hard and it was freezing cold. In lieu of shopping, we just decided to head to the Harvey Nichols Bar about an hour before our reservation. The two of us ordered a bottle of Harvey Nichols rosé champagne and some nibbles and just enjoyed talking.

Our table was ready for 7:30 and we enjoyed some fabulous food and the same Harvey Nichols sauvignon blanc that we had when we had a celebrity siting in the Harvey Nichols in London. Their muesli bread is to die for, so definitely try it when the bread basket comes around! I had basil gnocchi for a starter, duck for my main (so delicious and paired with red cabbage and a fancy potato rosti), and a chocolate tart with a Pop Rock-coated bon bon on the side. (The bon bon stole the show! The tart was too dense and I barely ate half of it.) The Brit had scallops for his starter (so yummy!), halibut for his main, and a deconstructed rhubarb cheesecake for his dessert (truthfully, I wish I would have ordered that for dessert!).

After our meal, we hopped back on the train to our town where I was given a little tour of the bars the Brit used to frequent when he was growing up. It was fun to see these places because we usually hang out at more low-key pubs now, so I felt sort of like we were flashing back to our wild and crazy days! Haha.

So, that is some of the excitement we’ve had over these last few weeks!

P.S. One of the recommended tags for this post is ‘walk of shame’! What?! Random.

{Running} Harewood House 10k

Two Sundays ago, the Brit and I along with a friend of ours participated in the first ever Age UK Wrap Up and Run 10k at Harewood House.  The morning started off a bit chilly, but the sun was shining bright. When the race started at 10 AM, we had the perfect conditions for a run.

Because this was the first run that Age UK had sponsored at Harewood House, there was not much information on it aside from it was a 10k. With the training we’ve been doing for the Edinburgh Marathon, my running pace has improved drastically so I was looking for a personal best. (The Brit even gave me a little pep talk that morning!) However, when we pulled up and realized that this race would likely not be on roads at all, I was a bit disappointed. I was pretty sure uneven conditions and a ‘trail race’ aren’t the best place for achieving a personal best. I still went into it thinking I would keep my pace up where I could and give it my all, so that’s what I did!

The Brit and our friend are both speedy, so they got up near the front and I hung back just a bit. Soon, we were off through the field and we were running on grass so I could keep a steady pace. Then, we headed into the woods where the mud began! The trail was uneven and just…well…mud. A couple of times, I was able to find a place that was harder terrain to run on for a short stretch of time before it turned into mud as well. In all honesty, I couldn’t even get frustrated because it was pretty fun to be doing a ‘different’ type of run than my usual runs on the sidewalk and canal path. I just carried on my merry way checking my pace every once in awhile realizing that I was doing quite well.

Then, the hills started. Ha! At the start, the race director kept announcing there would be a ‘slight incline at the 7.5k mark’, so I kept that in my head. But, when I started on this first series of hills, I was soon asking myself what this man considered to be a ‘slight incline’ as these were tough especially on the uneven terrain. Before the ‘slight incline’, there was a long downhill part so I took advantage of that and went as fast as I could without tripping on a rock or a branch.

It evened out around the 5k mark, so I enjoyed the flatness for a bit. Then, the ‘slight incline’ started. Holy wow. This hill was at least a mile long and steep. This is where I saw my pace slow down immensely, but I trudged along and fought off the voice in my head telling me, ‘You can walk up this hill faster than you are running right now.’ Annoying.

Finally, we reached the top and there was about a 1k left, so even though I felt like my lungs were about to collapse, I made myself go as fast as I could because there was a girl in a blue shirt that I had been leap frogging with for most of the race and I was determined to beat her. (Pretty sure she had the same goal in her head.) I knew I could push myself because the end was in sight and then I could sit down or fall over or drink some water or whatever, so off I went. And, guess what?! I beat the girl in the blue shirt! (It’s the little victories, people!)

Although I didn’t beat my personal best for a 10k, I beat my 10k time from a road race we did in November despite the crazy terrain of this race! (Again, little victories!) So, I was still really pleased!

The Brit and our friend? Well, they ran the entire race together and crushed it…both finishing in the top 85 out of 1100 runners! Well done, guys!

So, I would definitely recommend this race in the future. It is only £15 entry fee with £5 going toward a campaign to help elderly people stay warm in the winter. Just keep in mind that it is not a road race, but it was very fun to do something new and spice up the training for a day! Check it out next year!

P.S. I didn’t take any photos. But, I’d definitely recommend checking out Harewood House and its grounds — absolutely beautiful!

Sushi at Sesame

I’ve always been a big sushi lover, so when I first introduced the Brit to sushi on a trip to Portugal in the summer of 2010, I was ecstatic that he loved it as much as I did. Since then, we’ve had some amazing sushi on our travels around the U.S. and Europe. So, why not learn the art of sushi-making ourselves to understand what goes into those lovely little rolls?!

I had heard from the Brit’s sister that she had seen a place near us that did sushi-making lessons and I decided I was on a mission to get him that as part of his Christmas gift. It just so happened that Groupon had a deal for a 2-hour sushi-making class at Sesame in Leeds. I scooped two of them up at a bargain price and was thrilled with my purchase!

We finally got around to booking our lesson and went last Tuesday. Sesame is mainly a deli, but also sells sushi on the side. We started our lesson with an overview from a long-winded man (I have no idea what his name was) and the Brit and I were laughing at how long it would take him to answer a simple question. We were giving each other the side eye and were both thinking, “This could be an interesting night!” After his initial welcome monologue, one of the chefs came out and she actually did most of the instruction.

We learned how to make regular rolls, inside-out rolls, and nigiri. We were both a little disappointed that we didn’t get to use raw fish. In the end though, it made sense why and that was because we weren’t set up in an actual kitchen. Instead, we used smoked salmon and loads of vegetables. The rolls were still absolutely delicious!

We could eat the sushi we made as we went along. However, we were told at the beginning of the class that there would be a little competition at the end so to save our best pieces to arrange them in a tray. I ate all the ugly ones as we went along and saved my best ones. I was taking this competition seriously. It paid off in the end (as you’ll see below) because I took 2nd out of 13 in the competition for my sushi-making and competition! Score! I’ve never been so excited to win a fruit cup in my life! Haha.

If you’re ever looking for a fun night, definitely check out the sushi-making classes at Sesame or any other place that might offer them. We really had a great time and it was fun to try out a new activity! We’re now thinking about hosting our own sushi-making party with some friends this summer!

Winner! With my sushi and my prize!