Sunday, 31 May 2009

Anniversary part two

So after having an enjoyable Thursday off last week to visit my Uncle and cousin in London, I woke up on Friday, thinking I only have one more day of work until the bank holiday. So the alarm goes off at 7, and R asks me to set the alarm for 8. 'Well, how about 7.30? I have to get to work'...'No you don't'. Whaaa? R secretly booked the day off work for me. Very intrigued....

So we had a nice breakfast, and R said he needed to pop out for a bit, but he'd be back soon. I wasn't sure what he was up to, I thought possibly getting lunch supplies, or even picking up secret guests??? Anyway at about 10, he comes back, and tells me to pack a bag. Whaaa? He rented a car and we were going to a secret destination! Then he realised I needed to be map girl, so I get to know where we're going. A lovely 4 day trip to Cornwall! Looe, to be precise! Yay!!!!! Once again, I was completely and utterly spoiled, and am the luckiest gal alive.

We decided to take the costal route, and drove along the south of England from Brighton to Southampton, to Poole, to Dorchester, to Exeter, to Plymouth and finally to Cornwall. It was lovely and sunny and fanastic. He had booked a little guest house, The Gulls Hotel, with the most AMAZING views out the bay window.

We spent Friday night enjoying yummy pub food, fish n'chips and scampi!

On Saturday, we did the coastal hike to the next village, Polperro. It took about 4 hours, and was sunny the whole way. We even ran into some horses!

The big one in the front came up to me - I was worried he was going to headbutt me but apparently he was just being friendly (sorry, I get worried when big animals come near me, basic human instinct of self-preservation, methinks). Unfortunately, I didn't have any carrots or food for him, but he appreciated a little nose stroke.

On Sunday, we went a bit further into Cornwall and visited the Eden Project. It's basically a multi-million pound hippy dream. They've built two 'biomes', one with Mediterranean flora and one with Rainforest. They are definitely pretty cool, but I'm not really sure the point? I thought the information about local produce and plants was much more interesting because it showed what you could actually do in your own backyard, and how to source local and organice fruits and veg. They had a great allotment center, and it really inspired us to get our butts into gear to get a garden! (someday...sigh)

It was such a lovely weekend, and really great to do a romantic holiday. We're lucky in that we get to travel a lot back home to LA, or out to France, but they're always 'family holidays', where we stay with our parents. This was such a beautiful trip to spend alone.

It was funny, seeing so many families around, because it makes you appreciate the 'alone' time we spend together. Once we have kids, we won't get to do these kinds of holidays anymore. I think a trip to Looe with a few MCKs in tow would be brilliant and so much fun, but just a totally different experience. It's nice to take advantage of just the two of us for awhile

Here are a few more pictures of Cornwall. I can't wait to go back :)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Anniversary part one

So 18th May was our one year wedding anniversary. We had such a fantastic day! I woke up early and made R a nice big breakfast, including pork and apple sausages, scrambled eggs and toast! He gave me my present, and it was an amazing ink drawing he did of El Campello, where we went on honeymoon, mounted and framed. We've put it up in the bedroom and it looks great.

I headed off to work, and went about my business when I received a call downstairs from reception that I had something waiting for me - I went downstairs and there was the most amazing bouquet of flowers! Well lucky me, I thought, as I carried them upstairs. Everyone oohed and ahhed over the flowers from R, and asked about our plans for the evening. 'Oh, I don't know, it's a surprise'. Then, after lunch, ANOTHER call downstairs - something ELSE waiting for me! How sweet, R's parents sent me a basket of flowers, too! So spoiled, let me tell you.

Anyway, I told R I was going to the gym and that I would meet him at the train station for 6. Unbeknownst to him, Gerald from work was helping me bring in the enormous framed photograph of New York I got for him, from a local artist in Brighton. I wrapped it up in leftover Christmas paper, and headed off to meet him. When we came home, it was so great to surprise him with a pressie! He really liked it; I can't wait to put it up! (It's so big, we're going to need something a bit more substantial to hang it!)

Afterwards, we headed off for dinner at Food for Friends! What a nice surprise! It's this really posh and nice veggie restaurant in Brighton (I will say that for Brighton, they have great veggie options!)

Our food was delish! We had organic cider, brewed in Sussex, a great mezze dish with all sorts of hummus, babaganoush, etc, with pita bread. Then for a main, I had mushroom baked with feta cheese and pine nuts, with sweet potato fries and, all topped with a pesto sauce. Omg, amazing. For desert, we shared the truffles. I have to say, I'm not a big money person - we live comfortably, and enjoy what we do. But friggin heck, I would love to be loaded, just so we could eat like that everyday! I'd also be a bloater. Maybe that's why I'm poor - to keep me healthy!

After that, it was a few cheeky bevvies at the Fiddler's Elbow, and off home! A great night, and just reminds me (as if I need it - I'm reminded everyday) how lucky I am to have found R, the Irishman and American Lady, in the middle of Scotland! The world works in mysterious, and amazing, ways.

Little did I know, there was much much more in store...

Thursday, 14 May 2009

learning how to cook

amwas a horrible cook. Growing up, my stepfather was the chef (as he had owned several health food restaurants before, he was pretty darn good at it). As a result, we had delicious and nutritious meals plopped in front of us, day in and day out. Score! But, that also meant I never ever learned how to cook for myself. That was okay for the first two years of college. Living on campus meant I had to pay for 'meal points' and eat in the dining halls. Hey, that's fine with me! The big test came when I went to Edinburgh to study for my third year. Huh. I have to make my own food. How does that work? Well, it didn't. As my flatmates will confirm, my third year at college, I lived on cereal, Guinness and cheese on toast, with some Diet Coke thrown in for good measure. And while I lost 15lbs (wahey!), it was probably due to malnutrition rather than any amazing lifestyle improvements.

This continued on for my final year at college (I did improve slightly - I could now cook rice, pasta and occasionally chicken). I moved back to Edinburgh, and met The Man of My Dreams (R). Suddenly, I didn't just have to cook (ha) for myself, I had someone to share meals with. At first, it was great, because he offered to cook all the time (real meals for the first time in 2 years probably contributed to my stone weight gain - that and being in lurve). But then I realised I was going to have to start cooking myself *gulp*.

R's favourite story is the time I offered to cook dinner and shoo'ed him away and said, 'I'm FINE'. Two minutes later, I had to ask him to come in and show me how to chop an onion. Yes, I had never before in my life chopped an onion.

Luckily, I slowly but steadily began learning how to cook. It really was a completely new experience to me. I was a stickler for following recipes - because lets face it, you can't go 'off book' unless you know what happens when you go 'on book'. And I didn't. I didn't have a clue how long it took to boil an egg, or roast vegetables, or cook beef. So if a recipe said 'fry for 10 minutes' I was fine, but god forbid it said 'roast until tender'. ??!?!?!?

Now, 3 years on, I have come to the realisation that I finally know 'how to cook'. I still follow recipes, but know what I like, and how to change recipes to suit my needs. I can create a meal using leftovers and bits and bobs, off the top of my head. When I go to the shops, I don't need to cart around books with me, because I know what goes into a home cooked meal. It's such a liberating feeling, and I've been really lucky to have R support me along the way (even with not so yummy results!).

Last night was a prime example of my confidence as a cook. I was following a recipe for 'Prawn and Rice Salad', but realised a) we didn't have rice and b) I don't like raw courgettes. So instead, I used what we had and adapted the recipe and BOY OH BOY was it yum.

I soaked some lemon and coriander couscous in hot water. Then I fried up the diced courgettes, and threw in the prawns to warm them up. Combine the prawns and courgettes with the couscous, add some lemon juice and pepper, and serve on a bed of rocket, topped with torn basil and a little bit of olive oil. YUMMY!

Next on my list is following in Leashie's footsteps and learning how to bake!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Star Trek

I have to admit, as a trekkie, I was slightly apprehensive about the latest Star Trek film (aptly called Star Trek 90210 in the Guardian). I've been watching Star Trek for at least 15 years now - I started with The Next Generation, and loved watching it after dinner with my mom on Wednesday nights. I remember when they started showing The Original Series again, I was so surprised by how gimmicky it looked (funny how TNG now looks like that to me!). But my mom told me how amazing and wonderful it was to watch the show growing up in the 60's, a more optimistic view of the future rather than the doom and gloom dystopias normally used for science fiction/future worlds. I started to really enjoy TOS, and could see how great the show was with the limited effects they had. The point wasn't the amazing sets or fight scenes or technology, it was about normal life - racism, fear, adventure, sexism, compromise, diplomacy, etc, just set in a different time. The same is true for the series that followed (my faves being TNG and Voyager - although how could I not love Major Kira in Deep Space Nine!)

So 5 series, 10 movies and several book later, I was nervous that in the effort to 'mass market' Star Trek, they film would lose the essence of what makes it Star Trek.

But I did really really enjoy it. I had a few niggles with it (what's the the RANDOM aliens??? This isn't Star Wars and Mose Eisley, there are established aliens in Star Trek!) but all in all, I thought it was a great transfer, and I thought all the characters were awesome (Bones and Scotty being my faves!). It was definitely more action packed and technically 'cool' than previous films, and it worked really well. It managed to keep the same relationships and comedy and nerdiness of the series, and still be a summer block buster hit. I'm looking forward to future films with the 90210 cast!

But of course, now I'm excited about watching the first 10 films all over again, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture! R's not very excited about this (he liked the movie but not that much...) but I'm sure I can convince him :)

Friday, 8 May 2009

Training's going well

I had a good gym sesh today. I'm 8 weeks into my 20 week plan (culminating, of course, with the Olympic distance triathlon on 2nd August - you can sponsor me here), so I thought I'd try a mini triathlon this fine Friday evening.

I did 40 minutes on the bike, which came to 17.5km and burned 360 cals (you gotta take those with a pinch of salt!)
I then ran 20 minutes on the treadmill at 10min/mile pace, which came to 3.3km (or 2 miles) and burned 275 calories.
Then I hopped in the pool and did 900metres straight, in about 15 minutes. I took it nice and slow, trying to stretch out my arms. I like doing 50 or 100 laps without stopping, just cruising, but I also know I need to work on my speed. Anyway, that came to just under half the distance of the tri, and I was fine for that, so I know August will be no problem! I did this in 1.5 hours, so I should be course for my 2.45 tri time *fingers crossed*

I also managed to put together a photo montage of our wedding - only took me 51 weeks! Well, just in time for our one year anniversary. We hadn't used our vouchers for Habitat yet, but I finally decided to get the 55cmx55cm black frame with a multi-photo mount. I got some photos printed today at the local print shop and they look great! I'm inspired to prance around in my wedding dress on the 18th!

Hopefully we'll get some sunny weather this weekend, as Ronan and I are planning on doing a pub walking tour in Sussex. Walking and pubs, two of my favourite things! All in all, I'm getting super excited about summer and can't wait for it to be here so we can do more outdoors activities. A year ago exactly, Lauren was here in Brighton and it was absolutely sweltering! Here's to hoping for a bit more of that kind of weather soon!