Enjoying St Brelade’s Bay

After the not great weather we had on Saturday, we were hoping for a day of sun to explore a different part of Jersey. Thankfully, the sun came out and the sky was blue as could be! The temperature was around 50 degrees Fahrenheit making it a great day to check out St Brelade’s Bay.

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A friend of mine had recommended we eat at Jersey Crab Shack, so we booked a table for 12:30 on Sunday and took a taxi to St Brelade’s Bay about an hour before. As I mentioned in my first post about Jersey, the people were so incredibly friendly, so when we told our taxi driver where we were heading, he came up with a plan for us to enjoy walking on the beach and end up at the Crab Shack just in time for our reservation.

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The tide was out when we arrived leaving us loads of beach to explore. We strolled nearly the entire way to the far end away from the hotels and restaurants of St Brelade’s Bay before turning back. It was truly beautiful with the sun shining down. St Brelade’s Bay is a bit of an oasis as it is much quieter and tucked away from the city and the main road around the island. It would be a great place for families to stay when visiting Jersey.

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Our lunch at Jersey Crab Shack was absolutely delicious. We’re so glad we booked a table too because we saw group after group of people come in only to be turned away because the restaurant was completely booked. (Yes, even in the winter!) If you ever plan to visit Jersey Crab Shack, definitely make sure you reserve a table ahead of time – it’s so easy to do online through their website.

We had a table right at the window and drooled over the menu for a few minutes before deciding on the crab bruschetta to share as a starter. For our main courses, Richard ordered the crab tacos and I ordered the seafood platter (I think that is what it was called). When our meals came, we couldn’t believe how generous the portions were and how great the food looked. Richard’s tacos were brimming with crab meat and my whole platter was just mouth-watering. They tasted as good as they looked, too!

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After finishing our meal, we got a taxi to take us to St Aubin. We were dropped off on one end of the bay, which allowed us to continue enjoying the nice weather by walking along the bay back to St Helier and to our hotel. It was the perfect end to a wonderful Valentine’s weekend.

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I would most definitely recommend Jersey to anyone considering a visit there. We loved everything about the island and are looking forward to returning in the future with our girl.

 

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A Valentine’s Weekend in Jersey

Months ago, I had seen an advert on TV for Jersey. I wondered where this stunning place was, as surely an island with crystal clear beaches was not located that close to England. A quick Google search proved how wrong I was. I made it known to Richard that I was really intrigued by Jersey and would love to visit at some point. I assumed that trip was a while away as we have a lot on in the upcoming year, but he’s sneaky, and at Christmas, he surprised me with a trip to Jersey to take place over Valentine’s Day weekend…for just the two of us!

For those of you who don’t know, Jersey is one of the Channel Islands and is located to the south of England just north of France. The island is 5 miles wide by 9 miles long and full of some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I’m not joking about the nice people, and that is saying a lot from two people who live in Yorkshire. Everyone was always up for a little chat or available to offer recommendations. We were truly blown away by their kindness and overall relaxed mentality.

We flew from Gatwick for a number of reasons I won’t bore you with, but you can just as easily fly from Leeds Bradford or Manchester. From Gatwick, the flight was about 35 minutes, so I’m guessing it would be about an hour-long flight from Leeds or Manchester. Super easy and super short. Ideal.

We arrived on Friday night to misting rain and darkness, so we could just make out that we were driving along the sea during our quick taxi ride from the airport to our hotel, The Club Hotel and Spa, in St Helier. When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted warmly by the staff at reception. Richard had contacted them a week earlier for a restaurant recommendation for Friday night as we were eating in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant on Saturday, so once they knew who we were, we were asked if we wanted them to book us a taxi to the restaurant that evening. The service was flawless from the get-go. I’d highly recommend The Club if you are looking for an adult getaway.

The rooms are spacious and extremely comfortable and fully stocked with everything you could need. When we got to the room, we were greeted with bottles of chilled water by each bed side and freshly baked shortbread. The kettle was there if we needed it and real milk for tea or coffee was only a phone call to reception away.

As I mentioned earlier, the hotel recommended a restaurant, Ormer, for us the first night and it certainly did not disappoint. I should say that we definitely splurged on this trip and went all out on food and drink. We decided from the start that we were going to spoil ourselves and that we did! Ormer was incredible. We both had fish for our mains. Richard loves dover sole, which is traditionally served on the bone, but Ormer served it off the bone in the style of a deconstructed fish pie. He was a happy man. I have such a sweet tooth and I always go for a sweet pudding at the end of a meal, but that night I ordered the cheese board and it was a nice change. I really enjoyed the selection of cheeses that I was given, plus I had a little flashback to my study abroad days in Argentina as they served a bit of dulce de membrillo or quince paste with the cheese board. Exciting!

We were super rock star that night and promptly returned to the hotel after dinner and collapsed into bed. I believe we slept for roughly 10 hours! It was such a wonderful feeling to wake up refreshed on Saturday morning.

That day we decided to wander around St Helier and check out the shops. It was a good idea as the weather wasn’t spectacular, so going in and out of the stores was the best thing for a rainy day. (Plus, it gave Richard a chance to truly enjoy carrying the ultra lovely umbrella the hotel provided us in our room. This is serious. He became a full-fledged umbrella aficionado in one day.)

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Relish, which is this funky little deli that serves these fabulous platters. (It is also a cool shop boasting an incredible assortment of meats, cheeses, antipasti items, and wine. Honestly, we would be broke if we lived nearby as it is was such a great little place full of culinary treasures.) I had the antipasti platter and Richard chose the reuben style one – they were both delicious! The balsamic marinated onions blew both of our minds!

IMG_6597After lunch, the rain had let up a bit and we decided to stroll along St Aubin’s Bay. About 15 minutes into our walk, the light sprinkle became a full on wind and rain storm in which we were both trying to cram under the umbrella. We sought some relief from the weather in one of the little shelters along the promenade until it calmed enough for us to head back to St Helier. It did clear up once more, so we enjoyed wandering around the harbour in St Helier and gawking at the incredible boats docked there. Our walk back to hotel included a stop for a glass of wine at a bar/restaurant where we were served by quite possibly the only unfriendly person in all of Jersey.

jersey1Elizabeth Castle is seen in this photo. When the tide is out, you can walk all the way to the castle. Very cool!

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Once back at the hotel, we took some time to relax as we had big plans for our Valentine’s Day meal that evening! I’ll share about the rest of our weekend in my next post. Hope you’ll come back to read about the rest of our time in Jersey!

A Night in with Friends

After a wonderful but busy Christmas season, we’ve now entered into ‘stay in and save’ mode, as have a lot of our friends. Last Saturday, we were invited for a relaxing get together at the home of two of our great friends, James and Amber. We chilled out and chatted and even got a tour of the beautiful home they are building just a short walk from their current place. A nice thing about going to the home of good friends is that they were completely fine with us bringing our girl and putting her to sleep at their house just as we were sitting down to a delicious homemade curry.

One of the funniest parts of the night was Richard’s amazement at watching his lifelong friend cooking a curry. He just could not get over seeing James cook this meal for us! He was even more blown away once he tasted the samosas, curry, and naan – all homemade! Richard kept telling him he must open his own restaurant. I agree that it was absolutely delicious and the right amount of spice for my liking.

The next day, I was thinking about what a fabulous night we had talking and laughing with these two. This will sound extremely cheesy, but that night was like you see in the movies where friends are smiling and laughing and full of joy for being able to spend time together. The conversation flowed as we reminisced about past memories and planned for future ones. We left with full hearts and feeling energized from spending quality time with such wonderful friends.

Thank you so much, James and Amber, for being such amazing friends that we’re so glad to have in our lives.

xx

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To Londontown We Went

Last year, during the last weekend in October, Richard and I went to London for our last getaway before our baby was due. This year, unknowingly, we booked the same weekend for the three of us to travel down south for a couple of days in our favorite city. In 2013, we had no idea what we were in for with a baby on the way, but I do know we hoped she would be an easy traveler and that she would just go with the flow. So far, she has proved to be an awesome addition to our travels – both near and far!

We had no real plans for our time in London aside from taking her to Hamley’s and Harrods to check out the toys. She is extremely curious about everything around her, so we were both excited to see how she would react to these two places full of sensory overload. If we had to do it again, we would skip Hamley’s. It was just too crowded.

Harrods toy department, on the other hand, was really enjoyable and just the right amount of hectic. It probably also helped that we got there just as it opened on Sunday, so we avoided a lot of the normal tourist onslaught. Our little lady loved looking around at everything there was to see, and we loved gawking at some of the crazy (expensive) gifts on offer. We actually found her Christmas gift there, which we think she will really enjoy.

After we left the toy shop, we wandered around the children’s clothing department and happened to notice The Disney Café. It was lunch time, so we thought we would give it a go. We really enjoyed it! The food was top notch, which we had expected from a restaurant in Harrods. The girl had a ham and cheese toastie cut into the shape of Mickey Mouse, Richard had a savoury crepe, and I had the mini cheeseburgers (and I was pleasantly surprised when the server asked how I would like them to be cooked). And, imagine my surprise when Richard ordered us a bottle of wine! It was such a nice lunch, and we loved watching our girl (wearing Minnie Mouse ears!) chomp away at her toastie whilst looking around at all of the older kids. She was in her element for sure!

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After leaving Harrods we walked towards Hyde Park Corner to Buckingham Palace and on to St James’s Park. We stopped in St James’s Park because it was time for the girl to be fed. (Yes, she had just eaten, but sister needed her milk!) I plopped down to feed her underneath some fabulous towering trees. When she finished I sat her next to me in the leaves and she was amazed by them. She examined them and played for awhile, and it was fun to just see her taking in the textures and the colors of the leaves. Richard would pick up bunches of leaves and throw them up in the air, which absolutely amused her!

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After leaving the park, we headed to Westminster and crossed the Thames at Westminster Bridge to the Southbank. There is a carousel on the Southbank, so Richard took the girl for a ride. She was unsure when they first sat down on the horse, but after a thorough inspection, she smiled big whilst pointing directly at me stood along the side. (Someone had to look after the pram and our shopping!) She seemed to absolutely love the ride, and Richard laughed the entire way around. And me? I could not stop smiling! I love those unexpected moments that we share when we are all together.

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After the carousel ride, we decided it was time to call it a day (plus we had to get back to watch the Strictly Come Dancing results), so we set off walking back to Islington. Once we were near the hotel, I happened to spot an advertisement for Chipotle, and it was all I could think about since it has been ages since I’ve had anything remotely resembling decent Mexican food. We located said restaurant and grabbed takeaway to enjoy in the comforts of our hotel room. The day ended with us plopped on the bed in comfy clothes chowing down on delicious burritos and chips and salsa.

That weekend was made up of so many little moments that were completely unplanned. We smiled a lot and laughed hard and introduced our daughter to a number of new places and experiences. I don’t think either of us could have anticipated how much joy we would get from observing our daughter absorb the world around her. It was great to slow down and really watch her take everything in. This trip allowed us to look back on where we were a year ago – full of wonder about what our daughter would be like and what we would be like as parents – and realize that we are living our life as a family of three in the best way that we know how. And, in my mind, that is a great way to be.

I’m hopeful that we now potentially have a new family tradition of spending an October weekend in London! (What do you think, Richard?)

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Ox Pasture Hall Hotel: All of The Food!

Not only did we enjoy the hotel and the property at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, but we were extremely impressed with the food. When you read this post, you will think that all we did was eat…and well, it is sort of true! We were spoiled with afternoon tea, an evening meal, and breakfast the next morning. All of which were delightful.

After a visit to Scarborough, we headed to the hotel as we were booked to have afternoon tea at 3 PM. (Booking is required for afternoon tea.) We weren’t exactly sure where tea was served, so we asked Lynsey at the front desk and she told us we were welcome to be seated in the lounge. The lounge boasts a couple of leather sofas, and we cozied up on the larger of the two as we waited for our tea. We browsed some photo albums of weddings held at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel when Lynsey appeared with two glasses of fizz for us to enjoy! It was a welcome treat after being pounded by the wind on the seafront.

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Next, out came our tray of scones, sandwiches, and miniature desserts. It was presented nicely on the traditional three-tiered tray. We tucked into the sandwiches whilst waiting for our tea to be served. The sandwich selection included roast beef, prawn with Marie Rose sauce, and brie with chutney. Richard raved about the prawn sandwich. We both liked the roast beef sandwiches. However, Richard doesn’t like soft cheeses, so I ate the brie with chutney sandwiches. The selection was a bit different than the traditional choices, but they were nice.

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Our next course had us enjoying scones with absolutely delicious and silky clotted cream with our choice of jam. I’m a clotted cream enthusiast and Richard realized he is as well, so we constantly found ourselves adding more and more to our scones. With the scones demolished, Richard dove right in to the mini desserts whilst I took a little breather. There were two of each of these allowing us to indulge in lemon cheesecake, a fudge-y brownie with pistachios, parkin, and a chocolate cake with icing. I most enjoyed the brownie and the cheesecake. The cake and its icing were a bit too sweet for me. Richard had both his and my slice of parkin, so I’d say that must have been good! All in all, we enjoyed our afternoon tea and having a relaxing afternoon in the lounge at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel.

The second food experience we had was the evening meal. We ended up pushing our booking back from 7:30 to 8:15 for two reasons:  1) the afternoon tea left us feeling quite full and 2) the results show for Strictly Come Dancing finished just before 8. Priorities, people! We were slightly early, so we wandered to the bar in The Bistro. We were both planning to order a drink, but before we knew it, the bartender asked our room number and suggested we take a seat on one of the sofas in front of the fireplace before bringing us two glasses of prosecco whilst we perused the menu. We both commented on how we really like it when restaurants give you an opportunity to sit in the bar and have a drink whilst you leisurely look over the menu and place your order for starters and mains before being seated at your table.

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Although you can eat in The Bistro, we were having our meal in the Courtyard Restaurant. The Courtyard Restaurant has been awarded 2 rosettes for culinary excellence and is listed in the Michelin guide as a recommended restaurant, so we were both very much looking forward to this meal. Once we were seated at our table, the waiter brought us an amuse bouche of a delicious tomato bisque. He also came around with the bread basket, and we both opted for a slice of the fruit and nut loaf that tasted like it was fresh from the oven. And, the best part was the pats of butter on the table that were perfectly room temperature to top the bread.

For our starters I went with the Ham, Egg, Peas, which is a mini ham hock with pea mousse and a slice of a a hard-boiled quail egg. It had pickled vegetables as an accompaniment and the tanginess complemented the ham well. This isn’t a dish I typically would order and I’m not sure I would again, but I did enjoy it. Richard went for the Yorkshire Coast Fish Cake topped with a perfectly gooey poached egg. I tried a bite, and the egg really made the dish.

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Next up, our mains were delivered to our table. Richard went with the pork, which had belly pork, stuffed tenderloin, and homemade black pudding. I ordered the cod, which was perfectly cooked and served atop fondant potatoes, chorizo ratatouille, and a red pepper coulis. We both agreed the main courses were absolutely delicious, and I can say without a doubt that we both would order them again. All of the pieces of our meals meshed extremely well together in terms of flavor.

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Although we were both feeling full after two courses, we can never pass up dessert. After a peek at the menu, I decided on the apple and pear crumble. It was served delightfully warm with vanilla ice cream on the side. Richard chose the Caribbean Cocktail, which was a platter of four tropical desserts. He surprised me with his decision because if sticky toffee pudding (and it was!) is on the menu then he will usually order that, but he was so happy with his choice. I stole a small bite of the piña colada and it was a great blend of tropical flavors without it being too overwhelming on the coconut side as I find tropical-flavored desserts to sometimes be. We returned to our room incredibly impressed with the food and the service.

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When we went to sleep that night, we both wondered how we would manage to eat breakfast the next morning, but we did. Breakfast was served in the Courtyard Restaurant and we had a lovely table beside the windows overlooking the courtyard.

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For breakfast, there is a buffet of cereals, fruit salad, croissants, yogurts, and fruit juices plus you are able to order a cooked meal. We both ordered tea, and toast and jam were soon brought to our table. Richard went with the full breakfast, which was definitely one of the most well-presented full breakfasts both of us have seen. He said it was extremely tasty as well. I am not a fan of the full breakfast, so I ordered the goats cheese and tomato omelette. The fluffy omelette was cooked to perfection with cheese oozing in all of the right places. The breakfast was the perfect end to a great visit at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel.

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Our dining experience at Ox Pasture Hall was impressive. We particularly enjoyed the evening meal and the breakfast. I feel they truly excelled at those two meals, and the evening meal at Ox Pasture Hall is definitely one we would be glad to indulge in again. It was a fabulous 24 hours of food!

Our stay and our meals were kindly provided to us by Ox Pasture Hall Hotel for the purpose of review. All of the opinions are honest and all photos are my own, unless otherwise noted. I promise to always share my honest perspective when doing reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions. Massive thanks to Ox Pasture Hall for the opportunity!

A Twist on the Traditional Afternoon Tea

There are not many things more quintessentially English than tea, and I do believe that some of my family and friends in the US are convinced I spend my afternoons sat indulging in a traditional afternoon tea with my best china on a frequent basis. It makes me chuckle, but that is just not my reality!

When we have visitors or if we’re feeling particularly fancy, we’ll splurge on traditional afternoon tea complete with finger sandwiches, scones, jam, clotted cream, and a selection of miniature desserts. To me, afternoon tea is a very nice treat, and my daily tea drinking comprises of me with my cuppa (just milk, please!) curled up on our sofa watching television with Richard in the evenings. And, if we’re going all out, one of us will pop to the local shop for some cookies for a treat. We’re pretty rockstar over here!

As I said, the full fancy spread is a wonderful splurge, but the Picnic Bench Afternoon Tea at The Fox Bar & Bistro in Ripponden is more laid-back and much easier on the budget whilst still making you feel like you’ve had a deliciously fun afternoon out.

Earlier this year, a friend mentioned she went to The Fox with her mum who was visiting from New Zealand, so when she explained exactly what the tea compromised of, I knew I had to book in for my mom’s visit in April. The girl and I took my mom to celebrate Mother’s Day with her since we wouldn’t be in the US to share the day in May. We arrived and were asked if we wanted prosecco, tea, or coffee with our tea. I’m pretty sure you know what we went for – bring on the bubbles! Yes, this is afternoon tea and the prosecco option is a few quid more, but definitely the way to go in my opinion.

Our prosecco arrived, and not long after, the lovely creation in the photo below showed up on our table. Prior to that day, I had never eaten at The Fox as it is usually a place we meet friends for a few drinks, so I was pleasantly surprised when we tucked in and all of the food was really tasty. The savory selections included a crayfish sandwich, calamari and chips, leek and potato soup, goats’ cheese tart, salad of rocket (arugula) with parmesan shavings and a balsamic dressing, and a ham and chutney sandwich. The sweet selections were scones with clotted cream and jam (jam first!), strawberry smoothies (served in mini glass milk bottles with adorable striped paper straws), two different cookies, cheesecakes, and chocolate truffle-like puddings served in mini clay pots with a Cadbury mini egg on top (as it was Easter weekend actually). Mom and I did our best to work our way through the food, but it was a lot of food as you can see. It was all very nice, but my favorites were the crayfish sandwich, the calamari and chips, and the scone. We ended up taking all of the desserts home with us and having those for dinner!

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I’ve since been one more time for a ladies’ day out with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. The menu was fairly similar with a few variations in there to adjust to the change in season. It was the first time both of them had been, and we all left happy and pleased with our afternoon chatting and eating. Again, we headed home with leftovers. (And yes, I went with the prosecco once more!)

Something I really like about this twist on traditional tea is that it definitely is for everyone, so we’ve booked in for a date in November with the other families from our antenatal class to celebrate all our babes turning one over the next few months. The Fox recently released their autumnal afternoon tea menu, and I can’t wait to try the mini burger, the mini fish and chips, and the gooey brownie!

If you decide to head to The Fox to enjoy their afternoon tea, these tips will hopefully help you out…definitely book in, it’s only served from Friday to Sunday during certain times, and enjoy the afternoon with some of your favorite people!

This post is just me sharing a fun find! I was not asked to write it by The Fox, but I hope they see it and know they’re onto something with the Picnic Bench Teas! 

A Day at the Sea

This past weekend, we spent 24 hours in our home away from home, Abersoch in North Wales. I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Richard’s family has been visiting Abersoch for years during the summers, so it’s fun to carry on that tradition now that we have a daughter.

Although this was our second time there this summer, this was the first time it was warm enough for us to sit on the beach. That meant that our girl felt sand AND sat in the sea waves for the first time! It was absolutely a huge milestone for us since Richard and I are such big beach fans! She giggled away at the sand, but was slightly unsure about the waves. The wind picked up as the day went on, but it truly was a glorious day on the Welsh coast.

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And what makes a day at the sea even better? Oh, fish and chips or some equally delightful seafood dish! We didn’t indulge this visit as we had a barbecue in the evening, but enjoying fish and chips really does make a trip to the British coast! That being said, Beach Hut Life put together this very cool infographic featuring a range of seaside dishes and where they can be enjoyed. I’ve never mentioned that the beach huts of Abersoch Beach are absolutely iconic, so it’s very fitting that you will see an Abersoch eatery featured on this infographic by BHL. We have yet to try 5 Degrees West, but we plan to in the near future!

Hope you enjoy the infographic and will take a look at BHL as they look to bring more attention to the delights of beach huts and the color and fun they add to the coast!

Fish n Chips: Posh or Nosh – An infographic by the team at Beach Hut Life

I was asked to post on behalf of Beach Hut Life as they grow their website. I obliged as I love gazing at the colorful beach huts of Abersoch. I only wish I would have taken a photo of the huts to share on the blog!

Things That Are Ace, Vol. 1

Many bloggers have a series highlighting things they like, and since moving to England, I’ve acquired quite a few favorites that I’d like to share. So, in what is now about 43rd attempt to get back to blogging, I’d like to start a similar set of posts. The first in this series is a locally-inspired one.

Just Jenny’s Ice Cream

Oh. My. Goodness. If you live in West Yorkshire, get yourself to one of their stockists immediately. About a month ago, I was at our local farm shop and noticed the mini tubs of Just Jenny’s in their freezer, so I picked up two for Richard and I to enjoy that evening as an after dinner treat. Richard loves his vanilla ice cream, so I went with the Just Vanilla for him and I decided to try the Honeycomb flavor. His response, “How have we never tried this before?!” Honestly, this ice cream is incredible! Richard and I have come to the conclusion that we will always have Just Jenny’s in our freezer for visitors from here on out. If you check out their web site, you’ll see that the ice cream is made from milk and cream from the cows on their farm in Barkisland, and they only use natural flavors and locally-sourced ingredients. You can’t argue with that. This ice cream is the real deal.

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Farm Shops

As I mentioned above, I discovered Just Jenny’s at our local farm shop. Farm shops are something special. There are a few farm shops near us, but our favorite is Far Barsey Farm Shop in Barkisland. All of their beef is raised from their own herd while the other meat and poultry they sell are raised locally. We bought our Christmas turkey as well as our bacon and sausage for Christmas breakfast from them. And that Tour de France party we had? All of our burgers and sausages were purchased at Far Barsey. We had a vegetarian in the group, so I picked up a cheese and onion quiche for her and she raved about it’s deliciousness! Some of my favorites from Far Barsey are the mango and chili marinated chicken, the Figit Pie (filled with pork, sage, and apple), and their bacon and sausage. Okay, I basically love everything from there. Everyone who works there is so nice as well, which makes visiting the shop an even better experience.

The Larder Delicatessen (Or, ‘the deli’ as it is referred to in our house!)

The Larder is located in Ripponden and has become a Saturday morning breakfast staple in our house…sausage and egg with brown sauce on ciabatta for Richard and bacon (well done), avocado, hold the red onion, and light mayo on a granary baguette for me. (Leave it to the Yank to request a lunch sandwich for breakfast!) Their lunch sandwiches are incredible as well, and their selection of deli salads, meals, and side dishes (all made in house) are delicious. You can walk into The Larder without a clue as to what you are having for dinner that night and walk out with your entire meal as well as homemade bread, cheese platter, and wine sorted. It’s amazing the deliciousness they have been able to fit into such a small shop. And like Far Barsey, the staff are always friendly.

If anyone reading is local, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorites…if you haven’t done so already! And, if you are ever in the area, definitely add these to your list of must do’s!

 

{Our Wedding} The Rehearsal ‘Dinner’

Want to read the first part of the {Our Wedding} series? Find it here.

I’ve mentioned before that the rehearsal dinner is not a wedding tradition that is common in the UK, but we still wanted to honor the tradition in our own way. Also, because we knew we wanted to invite all of the wedding guests (instead of limiting the invite list to immediate family and those in the wedding party as is common with most rehearsal dinners), we chose to host a cocktail reception. With the resort being all-inclusive, we felt that everyone would be fine having dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants and then we would all meet up later on Friday evening.

We did have a very short wedding rehearsal earlier in the day dressed in our best swimming attire. This gave Silvia, our wedding coordinator, a chance to let us all know what would happen for the ceremony. It was also a good opportunity for our friend who was marrying us to give us a brief outline of his ceremony and to let those doing readings know exactly when they would need to come to the front of the ceremony space. (I tried to think of a better word for this, but couldn’t as we got married on a random spot on the beach.) It was absolutely hilarious because as we were gathered in a circle listening to Silvia an older gentleman in bright multi-colored Speedos joined in to listen. A friend of mine did catch this in a photo and posted it to Instagram with the caption of ‘Honorary groomsman,’ but I feel a little weird putting it on the blog even though I’m really tempted because I want you all to see how enthralled he was in what she was saying despite him having nothing to do with our wedding!

We approached our wedding coordinator, Silvia, with this idea of a cocktail and dessert reception, and she thought it was a great idea, but had to check with their chef about the dessert portion. She also knew immediately of the perfect location at the resort for the reception, which she showed us during our visit in November. That space is a terrace off the buffet restaurant that she planned to decorate with tiki torches amidst the tropical surroundings of the resort. We could truly picture it and it was exactly what we wanted. So, that was the plan!

carnivalterraceCarnival Terrace during the day

Then, Christmas Day rolled around and the Brit, myself, and our friend went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant at the resort — how’s that for mixing it up for your Christmas dinner?! Our waiter was absolutely fabulous, so fun, and kept calling us his ‘table of beautiful people!’ (I’m sure he has a new table of beautiful people every week, but we were loving it!) We enjoyed our whole meal immensely and he made it so much better. When Friday rolled around, he was the bartender at the swim-up bar and asked us where we were eating that night. We told him we had no plans yet, so when he said he would be serving at the Mexican restaurant, we thought, ‘Why not?!’ So, he was kind enough to reserve two tables for 10 in the back of the restaurant for us. There were 24 of us that all went to dinner together, so in the end, we did have a a slightly more traditional yet informal rehearsal dinner and it turned out to be great! Because there were so many of us at dinner, our meal took a little longer than expected so we were 20 minutes late to the cocktail and dessert reception, but it didn’t matter as everyone was on island time and not too concerned.

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The Brit and I finished our meals and raced over to the terrace for the reception. As we were approaching the terrace, the doors that lead out to it were opened for us and we were both greeted with a melon cocktail, which was the ‘welcome drink’ they created for us that night. The terrace looked absolutely perfect with the tiki torches lit and the moon shining down. Scattered around the terrace were high tables lit by candles for people to gather around. There was a bar at one end of the space and a table full of dessert bites at the other side. (I didn’t take a lot of photos as I was too busy enjoying myself!) A server passed the desserts around while people were arriving. There was a great mix of desserts ranging from cheesecakes to chocolate tarts, and the whole gathering was exactly what we had imagined!

BMrehdinMe with my beautiful bridesmaids.

Everyone mingled and those who hadn’t met each other yet were introduced. It was absolutely amazing to see all of these people we love – most of whom had never met before – getting along so well. I walked up to a table full of my closest girl friends just chatting away like they had always known each other. It made my heart burst and my smile couldn’t have been bigger. I think one of the incredible things about a destination wedding is that because everyone is there longer than just an afternoon and evening – as is the case with a more traditional wedding – then people really have an opportunity to get to know one another. It’s a pretty fun time, and I say that having been a guest and the bride at a destination wedding.

Months before, I had decided to say a few words that night because we planned to keep the speeches at the wedding reception in line with the English tradition, which include speeches from the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man (in that order). About halfway through the Friday evening event with time moving very quickly as we were having such a good time, the Brit pulled me aside and suggested I give my little speech. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t just fumble through it with tears streaming down my face, so I put thought and planning into what I was going to say. Not that I really had to be worried about being embarrassed in front of this crowd, but I wanted to be composed.

We managed to pull everyone away from the amazing time they were having with some shouts and maybe even a whistle or two, and I started off by thanking everyone for joining us in this celebration and expressing how touched we were that so many of our nearest and dearest made the journey to be there with us. I maybe then might have poked a little fun at my handsome groom before I went on to thank my incredible bridesmaids, the Brit’s parents, my parents, and finally, the Brit. I think it went down well, and I even had my dad and the Brit tell me I had stolen pieces of their speeches! The bonus of going first!

Soon after, we were kicked off the terrace and continued the celebrations at the lobby bar before a large group of us made our way to the night club. It was a blast, and I think our dance party gave us all a little insight into what a great time we would have as a group the next night! The photos, which include one of my brother and the Brit embraced in a hug on the floor and another of the Brit on our good friend’s shoulders, really paint a picture of the fabulous time we had. I can’t remember what time it was, but the Brit and I (okay, it was mostly me) decided it was time for us to go to sleep. We did have a big day ahead of us in a few short hours!

brosisrehdinUs with my brother and sister-in-law

And, in case you are wondering, we had planned to stay in separate rooms the night before the wedding and try to stick with the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony, but we soon realized we would definitely not be able to avoid each other during the day of the wedding, so we just stayed together and it actually kept the whole thing so much more relaxed.

Next up, the WEDDING DAY!!

A Lovely Little Weekend

I realized yesterday that I don’t often do posts in which I talk about the daily happenings of our life. And, I think I’d like to change that. Instead of always writing about big things, I’d like to share more about life here for us in West Yorkshire. Sometimes, it is hectic and busy, and we have our weekends booked solid. Other times, we don’t want to get up off the couch because there is a Big Bang Theory/How I Met Your Mother marathon (me) or one of the Back to the Future movies (the Brit) on, so we order Thai food and veg out to our heart’s content. It’s a funny little life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

fireplaceI mean, who would really want to leave the comfort of their living room with this keeping them warm in the cold and damp English winters?!

Friday kicked off our weekend with the Brit out with some of his guy friends for a head wetting. This is a tradition here in which the men go out to celebrate the birth of a baby, so this particular head wetting was in honor of one of the Brit’s oldest friends and his fiancée who just had a sweet little boy. I’ve expressed my confusion related to this tradition multiple times and I’ve yet to receive a solid answer on why it happens, so I Googled it to see what the internet had to say. Most of the results that popped up were from various pregnancy and motherhood forums that involved rants from the women about the men not deserving these nights out as they haven’t done the hard work associated with the pregnancy and delivery. Fine, but that still doesn’t answer my question. From what I can gather, the term ‘head wetting’ stems from the idea of baptism and wetting the head of the baby, but in this tradition it  basically means to drink a lot of booze without making it sound like it’s a night full of pints.

I’m completely fine with the idea of the guys going out to celebrate as long as they aren’t claiming full responsibility for the work that is involved in the pregnancy and birth, and from what I can tell, that isn’t what is happening. What I’m not okay with is that the women don’t have a similar tradition and I feel I am completely justified in this. (Although all the men I’ve mentioned it to have had a good laugh about my suggestion!) So, if we are lucky enough to have children in the future, I’m definitely asking some of my lovely female friends if we can arrange a night out as well. I’ll be sure to blog about that when it happens…one day!

Saturday for us included a very quick trip to the mad house that is IKEA. We ran so quickly through there that we barely had time to grab what we actually went to buy. We both wondered if most of the people there were actually planning to make a purchase or if they just went for a day out with the family. The jury is still out.

We then popped into Next Home where we fawned over some of the beautiful furniture before we jetted to the cinemas to see I Give It a Year. I am unsure if this movie will be released in the States because it is very much a British movie complete with British humor. I think I have quite a sarcastic sense of humor and usually do ‘get’ British humor, but some of this was plain awkward and parts of the film just dragged on for what seemed like hours. I will rank it as a decent movie (the Brit says it is ‘good’) with some hilarious parts mixed amongst some awkward parts. Those awkward parts made me nervous laugh because I didn’t know what else to do. (Please tell me I’m not the only one to nervous laugh!) If someone else has seen it, get in touch because I’m curious if you felt the same way I did throughout most of the movie and I don’t want to give anything away in case someone is planning to see it.

Saturday night, my handsome sous chef and I made these delicious shrimp lasagna rolls and brussel sprouts in balsamic vinegar. (These are so good and so simple and I plan to share the recipe soon.) We actually sat at the dinner table for the first time in months. (We’ve gotten into the habit of eating at the coffee table whilst watching tv.) I set the table with a water glass and a wine glass for both of us, and we used our new dishes and cutlery. Seriously big deal in our house!

dishesNew dishes and a newly-organized cupboard.

Sunday was fairly low-key with a Skype session with my family (and a guest appearance by my aunt who recounted a hilarious tale of visiting her daughter/my cousin in Guam), a trip to the grocery store, and an unexpected but welcome family dinner at the new-ish pub in the village about 2 miles from us.

It was a really lovely weekend that went by far too quickly!