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!

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{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.

BRrehdin

table1rehdin

table2rehdin

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!!

{Our Wedding} The Week Before

I’m still laughing at myself for hitting ‘Publish’ instead of ‘Save Draft’ on this post the other day — oops!!

The Brit and I knew from the start that we wanted to have a destination wedding. We wanted to find a balance and a sort of ‘neutral territory’ between our two countries, and although the Caribbean is closer to the US, we knew we wanted a warm destination so it seemed like the best choice.

After two weeks of debate and scouring the internet for resorts and locations that suited our styles, we finally decided on a resort in the Dominican Republic called Now Larimar. One thing with destination weddings is you aren’t always so lucky to visit your resort prior to making a decision, so we chose Now Larimar based on the website, the advice of a travel agent we were using in the States, and online reviews. (Although I later came to realize that TripAdvisor can sometimes be your worst enemy having worked myself into a tizzy a few times about things I read, so I had to stop myself from reading reviews.) We were able to visit the resort a month before the wedding because we were in the DR for my cousin’s wedding, so that made the last month incredibly easy as we knew exactly what details needed our attention and what decor we still had to purchase.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur room was on the second floor on the far left. I want to go back.

Because this trip was not just any old holiday but our wedding, we splurged on the Preferred Club Ocean Front Master Suite. It was a great decision! We had plenty of room for all of the wedding things we brought with us with a living/dining room, two bathrooms (one of which was the size of the entire downstairs of our house and I am not exaggerating), a wonderful bedroom, and a stunning balcony boasting a hot tub and an outdoor shower that allowed us to wake up to this view every morning….

morningview

The Brit and I left for Punta Cana on Christmas Eve, so we actually spent Christmas Day there. This was the first time both of us were somewhere warm for Christmas, which was weird but incredible all at the same time. (I mean, we saw Santa arrive on the beach in a helicopter!) We were both so excited to be in the sun again and definitely made the most out of our time by the pool. A friend of mine was also there with us beginning on Christmas Eve, so the three of us amused ourselves by making trips to the swim-up bar, soaking up the sun, taking walks on the beach, and tearing up the floor at the disco at night! It was really great!

crabcococollageWe also watched a crab race and drank from coconuts. All funny touristy things that we had a good laugh about!

The Brit and I did have some wedding errands to complete (for example, assembling welcome bags for our guests and our centerpieces) and we had some loose ends to tie up with our wedding coordinator, so we took care of those things as well. One advantage of having the wedding at an all-inclusive resort is that most have their own wedding department, which means they take care of everything from the flowers to the food to the entertainment for your wedding day. We were assigned our own wedding coordinator when we first put our deposit down in early 2012 and she was our contact at the resort throughout the whole planning process. I feel we really lucked out with our coordinator, Silvia, as she was extremely kind with some of our crazy requests and had some great ideas that she thought would suit our tastes.

DSC03681The welcome bags and booklets we made for our guests. The booklets were a BIG surprise to our guests. I’m so glad the Brit came up with this idea because our hard work on them paid off with everyone loving them!

The whirlwind began on the evening of December 26th when more guests began to arrive. It was so exciting and fun to see everyone in a warm and relaxed environment! Our friends and family were there to celebrate with us and they all came with the best attitude of just wanting to have fun! It was really amazing!

ThursdinnergroupOur Thursday night dinner crew — we have some AMAZING friends!

It was also on this day when a storm decided to sweep through the midwest and the northeast of the US, which is of course where nearly all of our US guests live. It’s so funny looking back on it now because I had some tears the morning of the 27th when my parents’ flight was cancelled, but then I just moved on with it because they were rescheduled on a flight for Friday (which ended up being cancelled too and the woman at United got them re-booked with US Airways when my mom explained her daughter was getting married the next day — thank you, United woman!!). Soon after, we found out my aunt and uncle’s flight as well as the flight of one of my bridesmaids and her fiancé were also cancelled, and it didn’t appear they would make it at all. Ha! Still, I was oddly calm. I think I knew it would all work out. And, it did because they all ended up arriving on Friday!

The best part of this is we had no idea my bridesmaid was able to reschedule her flight, so we just happened into the lobby and who comes running at me?! Jessi! I would have loved for someone to have captured a photo of that moment because I didn’t know what to do, and my eyes couldn’t believe what I was seeing. All I could say over and over again was, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” I then remembered I had cancelled their dinners and her bouquet, so the Brit took over and ran to the wedding coordinator’s office and added them back on — no problem at all! That excitement was soon followed by the arrival of my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and my aunt and uncle.

Everyone had made it and it was time for the fun to continue with our own take on the rehearsal dinner!

To be continued….

{The Olympics} Women’s Beach Volleyball Finals

In 2011, the lottery for Olympics tickets opened for UK citizens, so the Brit entered for three events:  the Opening Ceremonies, athletics (which included the 100m men’s final), and women’s beach volleyball. We were pretty lucky as he was one of the only people that we actually knew that got tickets through the lottery, and you already know what they were for because of the title of the post. Both of us were excited, especially me knowing there was a chance I could see Team USA in either the bronze or gold medal match!

The day arrived and the weather was absolutely beautiful in London. (The Brit asked me to stress how nice it was since I often talk about how rainy it has been this year…haha!) I had big plans to paint my nails red, white, and blue, but I forgot my nail polish at home, so that didn’t go so well. I wore a blue shirt and the Pennsylvania necklace that the Brit got me for Christmas, so I was country pride, but definitely nowhere near over-the-top and the nails would have been a nice touch; that’s how it goes sometimes!

To get into the venue at Horse Guards Parade, you had to go through airport-style security, which was so seamless and the volunteers directing us and the military completing the security checks were so friendly. The Brit made a comment that airports should take lessons from them…so true!

St James Park

Horse Guards Parade constructed from sand!

Once inside, there were loads of places to grab food and drink. And, when I say ‘drink’, I’m not just talking soda, juice, and water; we are talking beer, wine, and champagne! We started out with a couple beers, but when the Brit went back to the bar between the two matches, he came back with 4 glasses of pink champagne! Seeing him walk up the bleachers with those plastic cups of champagne had me in stitches! He still hasn’t told me how much that cost, and I think we’ll keep it that way!

There was a group of English people sat in the row in front of us who were waving US flags and continually yelled ‘yee-haw’ when something good happened. A bit random, definitely…but all in good fun! The atmosphere inside the stadium was brilliant as well. They would play music in between each point, got the wave going quite a few times, and had the crowd involved in various chants and slow to fast clap segments! And, with nearly everyone at least one drink in, it really was like a giant party!

The views from inside the venue were stunning! Check this photo out…

The first match was Brazil v. China for the bronze medal match. Brazil ended up with the win and the bronze medal. It was so exciting to watch and got me really pumped for the gold medal match between both teams from the US. Yes, we were that lucky that we got to see Team USA play Team USA!

I just thought this was a neat shot from when Brazil won the bronze medal.

During time outs and between matches, these people came out to rake the sand and the announcers would crack jokes about the ‘rakers’, who would rake to Benny Hill music. It was brilliant! Here is a photo of the volunteers who were deemed the rakers…

In addition to the rakers, there was some lively entertainment in the form of dancers who even had costume changes between sets. Below, you can see them in their red, white, and blue outfits that they wore throughout the gold medal match.

The start of the gold medal match!

It was fun to not have to pick sides, although the Brit will tell you I was cheering a bit louder for Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. I attribute that to the fact that I knew this would be their last Olympics, so I wanted them to go out with a bang! We had a good laugh though when we realized all of the British people in attendance were cheering for the other team representing the USA of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross.

It was really an amazing match and both teams played very well, but Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor came out on top. (I don’t have any good photos of the three teams on the podium because we videoed that part, and after I watched it again, it is a very bouncy video and you hear my voice cracking as I scream my lungs out, so I think I’ll keep that on my laptop for now! :)) It really was an incredible experience, particularly getting to hear the Star-Spangled Banner and see the US flag flying high on the gold and silver medal flag poles!

Back to Wales for Celebration #3

The weekend that we went to the races for my second birthday celebration also happened to be a bank holiday weekend meaning Monday was a holiday here. With the extra-long weekend, we decided to head to back to Abersoch for Sunday and Monday.

We were hoping for a true summer day to spend at the beach and on the sea. And luckily, we had fabulous weather on Sunday! Unfortunately, I took zero photos because I was too busy absorbing every ray of sun that came my way, so you’ll have to check out my last three posts on Abersoch to check out the views! I really wish I would have taken some though because the beach was absolutely packed with people trying to enjoy what little summer we have had this year.

The Brit’s mum had packed some treats for us plus some fizz, so we enjoyed a nice little picnic on the beach along with sandwiches and burgers from the little cafe on Abersoch Beach. The sun stayed strong into the early afternoon then it got a little cooler when the wind blew, but it was so enjoyable to be outside.

That evening, we had a reservation at the Venetia for a nice meal. This is the same place where we had a meal and we stayed for the Brit’s sister’s birthday in summer 2011, so we were excited to go back with the Brit’s parents. Whilst we were sat in the bar checking out the menu and enjoying a drink, the lovely owner asked if I was the one who wrote the blog post about them the summer before! I think I blushed a little, but it was so neat that she said something — so thank you if you are reading this! 🙂

This is the lone photo we have from the weekend showing us happy and sun-kissed:

Our meal and entire dining experience was fabulous once more (and I’m not just saying this knowing the owners might be reading this post!). I wish I could remember what I had, and I should have written it down knowing I wouldn’t be writing a post about the meal until after I finished my dissertation, but I did not. It was all delicious — from starter to dessert, we enjoyed it all! It was so nice to celebrate my 30th for the 3rd time in such a great place!

We had a fairly early night and awoke to blowing wind and pounding rain, so we set off for home in the morning as soon as we realized we wouldn’t have another beach day. It truly was a great bank holiday weekend!

{Road Trip} Burnsall, North Yorkshire

Burnsall could also be known on this blog as ‘the-place-we-decided-to visit-because-we-saw-it-on-Don’t Tell the Bride-then-the-Brit-remembered-he-used-to-take-school-cycling-trips-to-the-village-a-mile-away-and-he-thought-it-was-a-beautiful-place.’ Phew!

The lovely River Wharfe running through Burnsall

The bridge in Burnsall...you can see the clouds that rolled in later in the afternoon.

This past weekend, we had beautiful spring weather here in England. On Saturday, we went for a run, but when Sunday rolled around, we nixed our normal running route in favor of a walk to somewhere new. We still had to drive about an hour to Burnsall, but the scenery and the leg stretching (and rope swinging!) once there was well worth it.

Having some fun on the swing we stumbled upon!

Wheeeeee!

On the drive there, we passed Bolton Abbey and The Devonshire Arms, which we both decided we’ll have to return to when we have more time and/or when we want to have a day of luxury.

Once in Burnsall, an extremely small village (I believe Wikipedia says that the 2001 consensus listed the population as 112 and I doubt it has increased much since then), we headed along the river towards Appletreewick, which is the even smaller village where the Brit would camp on his school cycling trips. The round-trip walk was about 2 miles and we could have kept going on the trail, but the clouds started to roll in and it was getting chilly!

The campground in Appletreewick, which apparently 'looks smaller than I remember it!' 🙂

We finished up with a glass of Diet Coke each at the The Red Lion & Manor House, which is where the groom hosted the wedding in that particular episode of DTTB, before heading home! All in all, a really great day out!

The River Wharfe in Appletreewick

The sun came out!!