A surprise trip to… Paris!

So, I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to find out where we are going for my surprise birthday trip. I’ve been pestering and pestering, trying to guess and even force the information out of a certain someone, but to no avail. I know it has to be somewhere in Europe… I’ve narrowed it down to two Cities: Rome and Paris. The week prior, I was 100% sure it was Rome but then it suddenly dawned on me that someone might want me to think it was Rome, when in fact it was absolutely not Rome. Or am I second guessing myself? Maybe it is Rome. Nah, I’m being bold and I’m punting for Paris now. Probably. Almost 100% likely.

Today is the day. It’s all a big secret and I’m still not allowed to know where we are going. I head home from work, get my stuff together (including all the emergency ASOS purchases) and we head to the train station. On the train we jump, but only after having waited an extra 30 minutes due to delays, of course. We are heading up to London – will it be to the airport or to the Eurostar? Drumroll please… to the Eurostar! We’re going to Paris!!!!! How exciting! [insert grinning emoji here].

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We seat ourselves on the Eurostar and I am presented with a picnic for the journey – sparkling wine and everything, which I proceed to consume without a glass, straight from the bottle (classy, aren’t I) but if you don’t have a glass, what are you to do? By the time we arrive in Paris I’m feeling rather merry, which makes the walk from the station to the hotel all the more fun. We are staying at the Maison Souquet hotel, which is just around the corner from the Moulin Rouge, it also used to be a brothel, so I’m expecting great things… I was not disappointed! There was plenty of brocade, velvet, deep colours and more tassels than you could shake a nipple at – perfection. I even had a birthday card from the hotel!

 

It was pretty late by this point, so it was straight to bed for us, to ready ourselves for the next day’s sightseeing and exploring. Not going to lie, I was beyond excited and feeling like the luckiest person alive by this point. I would have been quite happy to spend the next few days shut in our hotel room and I still would have had the best time.

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It won’t surprise you, that the first stop we made on our trip, was to a boulangerie, namely Du Pain et des Idées, billed as one of the best bakeries in Paris. We turned up outside and there was a queue out the door, which is always a good sign. So we waited our turn, deciding what we were going to have, taking the opportunity to inhale the baked wonderfulness. I settle on a croissant and a pain au choc, whilst my companion keeps it simple with deux croissant (check me out). Ooh la la.

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Needless to say, the bakery did not fail us. Hands down, the best croissant I have ever had in my life, and I have had a fair few. The buttery goodness was next level. Flaky, soft and buttery, all at once. I don’t know how they do it, but they certainly do do it. After we were done swooning over croissants, we head off for some sight-seeing.

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We wander down to the Canal Saint-Martin, then over to the town hall, where I was asked to take a photo of someone for the first time on this trip. I have an unrivalled knack at getting chosen by other tourists to take photos of them, I think it is because I look completely non-threatening and they know that if I try to run off with their phone, they will definitely be able to catch me. Stupid approachable face. After that we head to Tour Saint-Jacques, where we sat in the grounds for a bit of a rest, seeing as it was above 30 degrees at this point and we’d been walking for a while. As per, a slightly dishevelled man sat much too close to use on the bench we were sitting on and soon we departed to Sainte-Chapelle, which has some rather wonderful stained-glass windows (as well as a man recording said stained-glass windows on camcorder, which was a bit of a throwback).

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After that we popped along to see the Notre Dame in its scaffold-clad state. I’m fairly sure there were more people there taking photos of it scaffolded up than there would be on a normal day. Then, our tummies called, and we treated ourselves to a scrummy baguette, took it down to the river, and sat on the bank with our legs hanging over the edge to eat. There is no better way to eat a sandwich, in my opinion. This was to be swiftly followed by an ice cream from Berthillon. I opted for a scoop of peach and a scoop of blackcurrant (because I love that tang). Again, there was a queue out the door and we were not disappointed.

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We wandered along to a place called 59 Rivoli which is an artist exhibition space. If you like weird art and climbing up a crap tonne of stairs, then this is the place for you. I’d have liked to have a proper look around here, but I seemed to be on the verge of death. I was sweating like absolute madness and I didn’t seem to be able to cool down or take a good lungful of air, no matter how hard I tried, so we ended up having to exit. But not before inadvertently wandering into a room filled with cotton-wool-stuffed tights (weird).

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After replenishing myself with liquid in a nearby café, we mooched along to Palais Royal, where we sat and did a bit of people watching and had a bit of a smooch on a bench, in true Parisian fashion. We were about done in by that point, so it was back to the hotel for a rest and shower, before heading out for the evening to see a cabaret. I’d been to Paris previously and to the Moulin Rouge, so we decided to go to Le Lido instead, for something a bit different.

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Before, dinner time! And much to my companions dismay I had decided to take charge of proceedings and choose a restaurant. Which in my book, means going out, wandering the streets and walking in somewhere and hoping it’s good. This method has never failed me yet; however, it does make my companion rather uncomfortable, which makes it even more enjoyable for me. We walk past a few places and nothing is jumping out at me, until we stumble across a tiny pizza place called Magna (which is well worth the visit, if you’re in the area). This place serves ‘folded pizza’, which essentially means they make a pizza, fold it in four and place it in a cardboard cone, for ease of eating on the go. This pizza was incred. And obviously I was super smug about this, as is my right.

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We had a bit of time before our show at Le Lido, so we thought it would be nice to walk along the Champs Elysees. However, it turned out it was not nice to walk along the Champs Elysees as it was TIPPING it down with rain. Needless to say, we got soaked to the skin and ended up seeking shelter in a restaurant.

Whilst waiting outside Le Lido to get in, we spot a Kim Jong Un impersonator striding about, trying to persuade tourists to have a photo with him for the princely sum of €5. He had a surprising number of takers. He was also unexpectedly convincing, apart from the bit where we heard him speak, as he sounded rather more like an east-end market stall holder, than he did a North Korean dictator.

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We take up position in Le Lido. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed by the show at Le Lido, I was expecting something similar to Moulin Rouge, where they have a whole load of drama and danger, but Le Lido was entirely dancing. It was good in its own way, but if you are interested in more than boobs bouncing up and down and little knickers, then I’d recommend Moulin Rouge, which also has boobs bouncing up and down and little knickers.

What will tomorrow bring?

Bonnie

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To Brighton and Back

For reasons unknown to even myself, I quite like a bit of Olly Murs and he was on in Brighton recently, so we thought we’d head down to Brighton to see him and make a bit of a weekend of it. I haven’t been to Brighton since I was a kid – all I was really expecting, was people wearing interesting clothes and the opportunity to buy vegan shoes. Well, I can tell you, Brighton did not disappoint on either of those fronts.

On our way down we stopped off at Westmeston, which is on the northern slopes of the South Downs (according to Google maps). We had a short wander up the downs (harhar) dodging a number of cow pats along the way. It’s a nice view here and I can see why people would like walking along here, but I don’t like walking along here, or anywhere, because I just don’t really see the point in it unless you are going somewhere… like to the shop to get food, or to a restaurant to get food…

On our way back from our short walk I managed to offend some dog walkers by loudly proclaiming that “poo is definitely a fetish thing”, having reached this topic after having avoided said cow pats and dodging a couple of dog ‘presents’. It must have sounded like it was my fetish thing (which it most definitely is not), so I can understand why they looked at me so, but we’d merely slipped into this convo after I narrowly avoided slipping in the aforementioned cow pat, so you can see how we got there. They did look truly horrified, and I don’t blame them.

 

You have to pay for parking everywhere here, which we categorically refused to do, so we dropped our stuff off at the AirBnb, drove out of the centre and plonked the car in a residential area and started the trek back into Brighton centre. Trek is not an over-exaggeration btw – it took FOREVER. The road just seemed to go on and on and on and on. It didn’t seem to matter how fast or powerfully I put one foot in front of the other, I just didn’t appear to be getting anywhere. People have climbed Mount Everest in a shorter time than it took us to walk back into Brighton, and that’s not even a lie.

To stave off the impending tantrum, we stopped at the Tinto Taperia, for some tapas (if you hadn’t already guessed). Tapas can be a bit hit and miss, but this got a decent rating online, so we thought we’d give it a go and we weren’t disappointed. I’m a big fan of padron peppers, so we weren’t leaving this place without trying some of those, and their patatas bravas and chopitos (deep fried baby squid) were on point, meaning I left one very happy customer. My experience marred only by having to listen to the man on the table next to us talk about marathons, but you can’t have everything.

 

Not to break from tradition, the following evening it was tapas for dinner again or ‘small plates’ according to the restaurant, 64 Degrees in Brighton Lanes. Unfortunately it was tipping it down with rain when we left and en route to the restaurant, I took a shortcut across the front of a hotel as it was under cover. Needless to say I lost my footing in the rain and I went down hard, into a massive puddle of water. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I then couldn’t get up because the bastard tiles were so slippery I actually needed help to get up off the floor.  Rising from the puddle, I found myself completely sodden and dragging myself to dinner, the evening topped off by me getting my coat pocket stuck on the door knob in the restaurant. Excellent.

The food was epic here and we sat up by the kitchen, so we could see everything being made. If you are ever doubting how hard people work in a kitchen, take any opportunity to sit and watch your food being made, because they do not stop! The food was beyond yummy and I’d recommend you book, as the place is tiny.

The following day we’d arranged to have lunch at the Gingerman restaurant. This place popped up on loads of different lists of ‘best places to eat in Brighton’ and the menu looked good, so we were game to give it a try. The food was great, I can’t deny that, but the service was utter crap. Our starters came without too much trouble, but the second lot of drinks we ordered got completely forgotten about, as did our mains. You’d think this would be pretty difficult in a restaurant this small It’s a tiny restaurant, so you can see every table in there with a casting glance) but you didn’t have a hope in hell catching either of the waitresses’ eyes.

Usually you can feel it when someone is staring at you, but it seemed that no matter how long or how hard my eyes bored into the back of their heads, it didn’t make an ounce of difference. In a matter of moments there would have been smoke coming off the back of their heads (that was the level of laser stare I was giving them) when eventually one of them came over with our long forgotten drinks and the main courses we had waited 45 minutes for.

The couple next to us even got served their mains before their starters, so I don’t think we were alone in our experience. We wanted dessert – we’d had our eyes on the apple crumble soufflé from the off – but we’d waited so long now, that we were too hacked off to sit there and wait for another course. It’s a shame, because the food was really good there, but not good enough to make up for the fact that it took about thrice as long as it needed to take, as well as being ignored by the staff for the entire meal… it’s not like I was up for a deep and meaningful conversation with them or anything, but it would have been nice to get the bill before the turn of the century.

 

To cheer ourselves up after this, we went for a wander around the streets of Brighton, taking the opportunity to dive into all the retro, vintage and second-hand shops (and there are a lot of them) we could find. In one of the shops, we came face to face with what I think you would term a ‘complete nutter’. In an antique shop, we were standing looking at some furniture when an old Gollywog toy fell down in front of me. I’d just picked it up to pop it back on the shelf, when I heard some incredibly deep and raspy breathing. I turned round to find an overweight and sweating man, loudly exclaiming (at the same time as loudly mouth breathing) that Gollywog toys “couldn’t possibly be racist”. He had a wild look in his eye and we dodged around him pretty sharpish.

We decided that seeing as we were in Brighton, beside the seaside, we ought to have an ice cream. Earlier on in the day we’d wandered past an ice cream shop with a massive queue in front of it, so, thinking that queue = good, we headed to Gelato Gusto. I lucked out here, because they do dairy free ice cream and it was AMAZING!! You never get good dairy free ice cream, it’s always really melty and icy and it’s always super obvious that it’s dairy free. But not this one – this was hands down the best dairy free ice cream I have had and I’d go as far as saying it was just as good (if not better) than the dairy options there. AND they had sprinkle cones, which made my life.

 

The evening brought with it the Olly Murs concert we had come to Brighton for. Upon entering the concert venue, we came to realise there were two distinctive age groups and we fit neither of them. There were the very young, say, 12 or 13 and there were the quite-a-lot-older, say, 55. Out Olly came, and boy, was he appealing to the latter. There was much more grinding up against the mic stand and gyrating than I had bargained for and at one point someone even shouted “get your cock out Olly”. Ick.

Despite the oddly sexual nature of the show, I did very much enjoy it. I’d forgotten how many absolute bangers Olly Murs had released and he did a few covers of some well-known songs. It was more like a party than it was a concert. He did seem to only play the first 16 bars of each of his songs though, which left me wondering whether he had somehow lost the rights to his own music… but I had a genuinely great time, so you’ll receive no complaints from me, Olly.

Bonnie

Madrid Part 2: dining conceptually

Today we head to DSTAgE for lunch. DSTAgE is a ‘concept’, which essentially means they do interesting things with food and a lot of the things on the menu you won’t have seen before. It has 2 Michelin stars, so we’re expecting good things from the 14-course tasting menu. The first thing I’ll tell you, is that it isn’t easy to find. There’s no sign above the door and no name printed on the window, so we end up wandering up and down the street for a few minutes, with no idea where it is. Eventually, we hedge our bets and tried the only door without a sign above it, and it turned out to be the right place – perhaps you need to locate them conceptually or something?

Now, I’m not going to lie to you, there were a few properly weird things on this menu, and they weren’t things that I would necessarily be keen on eating again. But, it’s a 14-course tasting menu and it’s a ‘concept’ so there are bound to be some odd things on there. Despite some strange textures, tastes and combinations, it’s interesting to see what these conceptual chefs manage to do with food. How they come up with these ideas and make these things edible, I’ll never know.

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We start off with a squid something or other (as I recall, it was squid, coated in squid, covered in squid) served at the bar on a bed of ocean paraphernalia, with plenty of wafty dry ice. This was followed by a prawn dish, which was made on a block of Himalayan salt (very on trend) in front of us and was topped with the ‘legs and moustaches of the prawn’. This sounds super weird and it was served on some kind of leaf at the kitchen, but it was surprisingly nice, considering we were eating moustaches.

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I disagree on all levels, however, with what I think was either our 6thor 7thcourse. They brought it to the table but refused to tell us what we were going to be eating, encouraging us to guess after tasting it, which would have been fine, if all the other courses hadn’t been described in minute detail. So, needless to say, we were incredibly suspicious of course 6 or 7 (whichever it was). It looked dubious, to say the least. It was brown and layered and had a suspect sheen to it. I was pretty sure I knew what it was at this point, but I was trying to convince myself that I couldn’t possibly be right, so I cut a piece off (it provided much resistance) and popped it in to my mouth.

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As soon as it was in there, I knew my guess had been correct. I chewed, experiencing feelings of both intense pleasure (because my guess was right) and incredible revulsion (because what I had guessed was not something pleasurable to consume). It did not go down easily, let me tell you that for free. It kept trying to resurface and I had to concentrate exceedingly hard so as not to gob it back out on to my plate. My gullet was putting up a fair fight against this going further down, and I don’t blame it for a moment. I’ll put you out of your misery if I must – IT WAS FISH SKIN. And not just one piece of fish skin, it was layers and layers of fish skin; it was akin to a fish skin lasagne and it was about as good as it sounds, which is disgusting, let’s be frank.

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The fish skin course over, it moved along much more pleasantly for the rest of the meal, meaning there was nothing I wanted to spit out. Even if I didn’t like every single course, I can appreciate the amount of effort that had gone into it. I had my meal with the wine pairing, which I think is worth it, but do be prepared for a bit of a bank breaker with this one, it was not cheap.

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Someone looks pleased with their candy floss…

We head back over to watch some more tennis. It’s obscenely hot sitting in the sun today and I’m concerned that I’m going to sweat myself down to 0% water content. We meet up with one of the tennis players’ father’s and spent a good chunk of the day with him and end up heading back to the hotel the players are staying at for a drink or two. I must admit, that when I say ‘we’, it is the royal ‘we’ in every sense, because I absolutely do not know a single tennis player and I’m 100% riding the wave of other people’s successes in life here.

We have another terrifying journey back to the apartment we are staying in. One of the cars put on to ferry the players about is arranged to take us back and we hop in. The guy has pretty limited English and we pull away and nearly smash into the back of a parked car. Close shave. It turns out that he has no real idea where he’s going and is jabbering at us in Spanish we aren’t really getting the gist of, until the hand signals come clear to me and I realise he wants us to put the directions on Google maps for him. This would have been fine, but he drove the whole way one handed with the phone in his hand, constantly turning around to try and speak to us, which is less than conducive to a smooth and un-hair-raising journey. We manage to make it back in one piece, but it was another journey resulting in some fairly jellied legs.

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The following day and it’s time to go home. We’ve got some time to kill in the morning, so we go for a wander around the shops in the area. We’ve been staying in Plaza de las Salesas; a square right in the middle of what I guess you would refer to of the ‘hipster’ quarter of Madrid. There are loads of vintage shops around there (I’m a big fan of second hand things) so cases in tow, we browse the retro clothes shops of Madrid. This area is well worth a visit – there’s SO much stuff in these shops and there are so many of them – you’d be hard pressed to come away without buying something (obvs I bought something). We took the opportunity to have an ice cream and make use of the instant camera I carted all the way here with me (an Instax Mini 90 if you’re interested), which returned a pretty cute result I feel, despite my hand looking completely weird.

Bonnie

Madrid Part 1: Rafael Nadal gets the (ruck) sack

We’re in Madrid to see the Mutua Madrid Open (that’s tennis, for those of you who don’t know); we know someone who’s a doubles player and she’s sorted us out with some tickets so we can go and watch her, under the guise of coaches. I’m entirely dubious that anyone would ever believe that I’m a tennis coach of any sort. Perhaps the only type of tennis coach I could possibly pass as would be the under 10’s and even then, I’m not too sure if anyone’s going to believe it. This is highly amusing to everyone at work and I’m taking a constant ribbing, with everyone referring to me as ‘coach’ each time they ask me a question.

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We have a mooch about in the morning after we arrive and treat ourselves to a hot sandwich filled with Serrano ham, cheese and tomato, which we consume sat on a set of steps in a square – the only way to consume a takeaway hot sandwich, really. We head to the ground to register ourselves, which was the most lengthy registration process I have ever experienced in the world – there was this online form to fill out and they wanted every single piece of personal information (including the name of your mother’s first cat).

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Basic bitchin’ it with my Aperol Spritz

Eventually we’re registered and we meet the player who sorted us out with the tickets, head to the player’s lounge with her and grab something to eat. As we’re heading in, I’m having to smoosh my way through a bit of a crowd. I’ve got my rucksack on and as I’m squishing my way through the throng, I swing round and manage to whack someone with my bag. I turn around to profusely apologise (cos British and I can’t just walk away with a clear conscience having thwacked someone with my rucksack) and realise that I’ve smacked someone rather famous with my bag… RAFAEL NADAL. Christ! I did think it felt rather solid when my bag made contact with this individual. I apologise for my luggage related faux pas; he says it’s okay. Phew. I’m just hoping I’m not affecting his game with my clumsiness… I’d hate to be responsible for a loss on his part because I’m not sure how I’d live that one down (fortunately, it turns out I wasn’t).

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We sit and watch a couple of matches. You can get up and move around from match to match whenever there’s a break, so you can watch as many or as few as you want. Or, if a match isn’t turning out to be super interesting, you can head off and find another one which is more to your taste.

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Not my most flattering angle…

What was interesting, however, was the Uber ride back from the ground. It started as it meant to go on, with our driver pulling up on the wrong side of the road and then proceeding to attempt to reverse back to us (whilst still on the wrong side of the road) with cars behind him beeping furiously. He seemed unperturbed. Our level of embarrassment reached its peak and we leapt in before he could finish this manoeuvre and we headed away. We were travelling at speed (‘home James and don’t spare the horses’ style) bombing it down the main road and up to the roundabout, narrowly avoiding a cyclist. He’s hurtling along, before he realises he’s missed the exit. We screech to a halt on the roundabout and before we know it, he’s attempting to reverse back around the roundabout so he can come off at the right exit, in full view of the police, no less! The police aren’t having any of that and start on the whistle (accompanied by some wild gesticulations) until he gives up and flies forth towards the next exit.

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We’re careering down narrow cobbled streets, thundering along at an exceptional pace considering the circumstances and red lights seem to mean nothing to him. Through we go, without even a mild consideration for the highway code until we meet something we definitely need to stop for: a pedestrian. The brakes are slammed on, we screech to a halt. My organs continue to move forward inside my body. My nerves are shot. Praise Jesus, it isn’t too long until we’re at our destination and I stumble out of the Uber with legs like jelly, unable to stand unaided. Good God. Of course, I still give him a 5-star rating.

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If there be tapas, I be smilin’
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BEAUT

The next day is Sunday and there aren’t any matches on, so we head out for a mooch around Madrid. We have a look in some interesting shops and have a browse around the Museo Nacional del Prado, which is well worth a visit, as there’s a lot in there to look at (plus, some saucy old nudes, which I’m a big fan of). After that we headed over to Parque del Buen Retiro. We had a bit of a chill on the grass there as it was pretty warm at this point. The park was rammed as there was a holiday in Spain, so even finding a space to lay down my jacket to have a snooze on was a bit of a mission, but of course, we managed.

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There’s a lake in the park and you can hire out a rowing boat and pootle around in that for an hour (which I did last time I came to Madrid), but the queue for the boats was so long that it just wasn’t going to be worth waiting for it. But it’s a good laugh if you get to have a go – they’re basically like bathtubs with oars, which are notoriously tricky to control, if you’ve ever tried to row a bathtub.

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Hot stuff

On our way out of the park we stopped for a drink at one of the cafés and I treated myself to a horchata, which is a milk made from sweetened tiger nuts which have been soaked and ground. It usually comes with a load of crushed ice and is such a good drink in the heat – yum. We went out for tapas for dinner at a place called Entre Santos. The food here was great – it has a pretty small menu (but that’s a good sign when it comes to a tapas menu) and the drinks were good too! I had a basil cocktail which I’ve never seen on a menu before, and it came in a little wooden box in a little clear bag, which was super cute and super tasty. It’s better than it sounds, I promise – I’ve made it sound like it was served in an old Tesco’s carrier bag. Definitely would recommend this place.

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On our way back, we somehow managed to get locked out of the apartment… we were stuck on the outside of the main door and try as we might we couldn’t get the key to work in the lock. We were trying every which way to unlock the door, but the key was categorically refusing to turn. Forlorn, and fully against spending the night cuddled up on the doorstep (as it was getting pretty chilly at this point), we ended up having to call the host of our AirBnb and ask for help to get in. As soon as we’d done that, we thought we’d give it one more try, and with a jiggle of the key we were in. So, it turns out, we weren’t stuck out there after all; we’d simply failed to employ any common sense or outside-the-box thinking. Our AirBnb host was most pleased to not have to come and help the idiot English access the building, and I don’t blame her, to be quite frank.

Bonnie

St. Lucia Day 9: the finale

Having been told Soufriere market was worth a look around, we thought we’d head out and spend our last morning in St. Lucia having a mooch about. You’ll remember that we went to Castries on the basis that it was ‘worth a look around’? We should have been much more cynical about this than we were, but we weren’t. So, we went to Soufriere market to have a browse, and low and behold – there was nothing to browse. Sigh. It was really just a tiny market for people in the town and it wasn’t even a market in the recognisable sense of the word. It was mainly just people selling things from the doorsteps of their homes, be it second hand clothes or mysterious bric-a-brac, but ‘people selling stuff they no longer want from the doorstep’ is a bit of a mouthful in comparison to ‘market’, so I can see why they went with it.

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Soufriere from above

Other than that, there was a slightly more bustling area of market, where fish were being sold out of a wheel barrow and you took home your decapitated fish in a bin liner… each to their own, I guess. Perhaps you’d call that character? Personally, I’d just call it horrifying, but it depends on your opinion on wheelbarrow/ bin liner fish. Perhaps our opinions on those differ?

We began our drive back to the airport and with a bit of time to kill, stopped off at the Choiseul Art Gallery on our way. They have loads of different things there, from baskets woven by local people, to earrings made out of sea plastic, pots and ceramics made there on the island, to paintings and drawings done by the owner herself. They are a husband and wife team – he spends his time turning interesting materials in to jewellery-worthy states and she crafts, creates and paints, ending up with some completely different pieces of art that are quite unlike other bits and pieces I’ve seen.

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Final view from the hotel

She took us on a tour of the place when we arrived (once we had been greeted by their friendly dog Rock, and a couple of not so friendly dogs) and she took time explaining how everything was made, about the people who were making it and the materials they were using. One of the materials she’s using is the hard shell of the calabash, which is a big, round gourd type thing. Everyone we had spoken to who had mentioned the calabash, had been quite vociferous about how horrible it was to eat, and how they did their best to avoid it at all costs. She asked us what we knew about the calabash, clearly knowing that this would be the only thing we knew about it. In full knowledge that I was being set up, but with very little I could do about it, I told her that we know it isn’t very nice to eat.

A gleeful look in her eye told me she was primed and ready to inform me otherwise (I can only assume this is how she gets her kicks). Looking very pleased with herself, she told me that it was in fact, edible (not that I’d said that it wasn’t, being well aware of the game that was afoot). According to her, you could live off of it on a desert island, which is hardly a ringing endorsement, considering that you would literally eat anything half-edible if you were stranded on a desert island, would you not? With an awkward smile and a nod from me, she took this as further encouragement to sing the praises of the calabash. I’m wondering where we are about to go with this. Is she about to tell me that the Queen ate a slice of calabash and deemed it edible? Is she about to tell me that Prince Charles at a slice of calabash and deemed it edible, because that certainly would not hint toward edibility in my eyes. No, no, it wasn’t the Royal Family she used as advocacy for the calabash, oh no. it was none other than her dogs. Her dogs had been eating the calabash for years and they were still alive… this is how she tried to sell this idea to us! Well, this certainly explains why those dogs looked so angry…

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Not my calabash pic

Nearing the airport, we need to fill up the car, following the directions to the nearest fuel station, we promptly take a wrong turning and end up on the business side of the airport in front of a police officer. We stop to ask her the way to the fuel station (turns out you can literally see it from where we were) and she very kindly gives us directions – such a nice lady! We turn the car around to leave and my companion here, attempting to indicate to pull back out onto the road, instead turns on all of the windscreen wipers, starts spraying the windscreen, causing the windscreen wiper to emit an almighty squeal against the window, as it was so dry. The poor police officer is standing behind us having been spritzed with the windscreen wash, looking rather quizzical and I’m now laughing hysterically, practically in the footwell having lost all control of myself. I still cannot think about this without laughing, it just sets me off, the look on that poor woman’s face as we drove away.

We’re on the plane, getting seated and it comes to light that I’m seated next to the longest man in the world. He’s more legs and arms than I have ever seen. It feels like all of his limbs are on my side, I no longer have any armrest because his stupidly lengthy arm has commandeered the entire thing and his knee is protruding half way across my seating area. Fortunately, I’m not that tall, but I’m still not appreciating having half the space I am supposed to be provided with. I give him secret evils through the back of my head. I’m after a sip of water, so I take a glug of water before my companion promptly makes me laugh, causing water to come pouring out of my mouth, only to be sprayed all over him. The longest man in the world was not amused, watching from his vantage point of my seat.

The flight was generally uneventful, apart from the member of cabin crew who looked incredibly uncomfortable for the entire flight – I can only assume he was terribly constipated, based on the face he was making. On one hand, I’m happy to be going home because I like being at home, but on the other hand, I’m sad to be leaving, because I’ve had such an epic time, it’s been so eventful and I’m going to miss it when I get back, but I think that has a lot to do with the company and much less to do with the place, coupled with the fact that I do seem to be quite eventful.

Bonnie

Fave pics from the holiday:

St. Lucia Day 8: Prince Charles’ choice

It turns out that having a hotel room open to the elements isn’t necessarily such a great idea in practice. It turns out that the elements not only keep you awake, but they wake you up as well. And not only are you at the mercy of said elements, you are also at the mercy (so it turns out) of the wildlife. The wind is insane up here, which makes sense, as you’re essentially half way up a mountain, but it makes SO MUCH NOISE. And don’t forget the sun – that little sun does insist on rising before 7 am and that little sun does insist on forcing you to wake. As does the bird who comes in at some ungodly hour to peck at the choux bun the hotel left on your pillow last night. Grrrrrrrr.

As much as I like to moan, we did wake up to a rainbow arcing over the Pitons, so I really shouldn’t complain too much. We’re off for some more whale watching and we head down to the town of Soufriere, where we park up outside the place and meet a man who introduces himself as ‘Usually Darren’. Now, I can’t say if this is his given name, whether he isn’t always Darren or whether there’s a man named ‘Unusually Darren’ and this is the only way he can differentiate himself from said Darren. Usually Darren is very kindly going to look after our car whilst we are on the boat – thanks UD.

The whale watching tour goes off without a hitch, apart from one couple who board the boat and immediately proceed to remove their clothes, until they are sitting there in their swimmers. What? This is all kinds of weird – who goes whale watching with a big group of people you’ve never met, and with speed, decide it’s appropriate to remove your clothes. I was uncomfortable. They were, of course, British.

Once we get out there and I’ve forgotten about the mostly naked British people, we find some pilot whales. I’ve never seen a pilot whale before, but they give the impression of being quite stumpy, round and cute, even though they are about 20ft long. They don’t do a great deal, so there was no jumping and splashing about, but it was good to see something we haven’t seen before, nonetheless.

Back on dry land, Usually Darren is excited to see us back at the car. The car hasn’t been stolen or broken into, so it goes without saying that we must part with our cash and Usually Darren must receive it. Back at Ladera resort, we take the opportunity to go and watch the hummingbirds. They have a seating area with feeders around it, so you can watch the birds come and go. It still amazes me how quick they are – here one moment and gone the next – you don’t even see them go. I get a few decent snaps of their comings and goings, but it’s particularly tricky to capture these speedy creatures.

That afternoon we head to Fond Doux Plantation and Resort, where you can take a tour of their plantation. This is apparently Prince Charles’ resort (or the eccentric Prince Charlesy version of a resort) of choice on the island and if you know anything about Prince Charles, this should tell you all you need to know about this place. Boy oh boy, was this an experience. It started off with us booking in for the tour, assisted by a man with THE longest fingernails I have ever seen in my life. They are well over an inch long and I cannot stop staring at them whilst he’s booking us in – I cannot focus on anything else. Booking completed and fingernail staring time over, we both need the loo, so we head to the respective male and female bathrooms, which are quite literally the same room, just with what appears to be a piece of cardboard to separate them from one another. But at least you can chat to one another whilst you are doing your business. Weird? Yes.

We’re greeted by our tour guide – Clinton. Clinton appears to have sprinted here as he’s dripping in sweat. My suspicions are swiftly confirmed by his greeting of “Hi guys, I’m Clinton, I ran here”. Well, with that settled, we begin our tour of the plantation. He starts off pointing out a few of his favourite plants and giving us some info about the banana plants. He tells us that this plantation used to supply Hershey’s (who apparently own Hotel Chocolat) with cocoa but they had started growing their own cocoa and no longer had any need for Fond Doux. Clinton clearly harboured some ill-feelings towards Hershey’s and loudly and frequently proclaimed that Hershey’s would no longer have the best chocolate in the world now they were growing their own cacao, ensuring us that Fond Doux would soon be giving them a run for their money and that they were going to ‘show them’… K hun.

Clinton was now bounding around in the bushes, plucking off flowers for us to sniff and admire, each time assuring us that this was his favourite plant and informing us of its various qualities and uses, half of which seemed to be hangover cures, the other half of which were ‘to make you big and strong’, which involved him flexing his arm muscles each time he said so (I think we may have even caught a glimpse of abs at one point). Clinton then spots a cinnamon tree, gleefully eyeing it up before springing over there to cut us off a piece of bark to nibble. He stood there beaming at us. This was another one of his favourite plants.

With a sideways glance at one another and a questioning widening of the eyes, it dawned on us that Clinton may not just be simply high on the spice of life. Clinton may, in fact, simply be high on spice. This guy was something else – floating through the plantation, practically giddy with ecstasy (hopefully not the pill kind) giggling along to his own jokes and wafting through the undergrowth – it was tricky to keep up with him at times, as he’d get so excited about the next cocoa pod to look at, he’d flounce off, leaving us in his dust, hurrying to catch up.

I don’t know what Clinton had been smoking, but it was certainly some potent stuff and would probably have taken out a whole herd of cattle with one whiff. Never have I seen a man quite so high in charge of a tour of a plantation. In fact, never have I ever seen a man quite so high in charge of a tour. Or, for that matter, quite so high.

Despite the vehement protestations against Hershey’s we’d been hearing from Clinton all afternoon, we went to Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant in St. Lucia, Boucan for dinner, which is on their plantation. Now, it’s worth mentioning that everything on the menu contains chocolate. I genuinely did not think this was possible, but it is, and they have done it. Chocolate in your dinner may sound like a weird concept (and it is) but it worked. The same cannot be said, however, for the cocoa nibs (which I will hereon refer to as ‘nibs’). NIBS ARE THE WORST. I’m not even overexaggerating here, nibs are legit the worst things to have happened to the world, since forever. They are crunchy and yucky and bitter and weird, and they seem to increase in your mouth as you are chewing them instead of reducing. They defy the laws of chewing.

Not only that, but they would sneak up on you! You would take a bite out of something, 100% sure that it contained no nibs, in fact, you would bet your life saving on it and then out of nowhere, you would find yourself chewing on something akin to a splintered table leg. THE WORST! The fish had nibs in, the meat had nibs in, the sauce had nibs in, the butter had nibs in… even the drinks had nibs in. EVERYTHING HAD NIBS IN. Honestly, I thought I had died, woken up and found myself in nib hell. Were the pillows of the hotel stuffed with nibs? Did boiling hot nibs rain down upon you from the shower head? Where does it end? I feel it only ends when you spontaneously combust, exploding into a sea of nibs… nibs cascading across the floor, because you are no longer made of flesh, you are made of nibs. You are nibs.

Bonnie

St. Lucia Day 6: wet Wednesday

Last night we attended the manager’s cocktails on the veranda at the hotel. You essentially meet the main members of staff at the hotel, from the manager (obvs) to the head of hospitality etc etc. The one who particularly caught our eye, was the sommelier. Reason being, was that we were attempting to figure out his nationality based entirely on the way he looked and miserably failing, that and the fact he was clearly trying to breathe in so he looked thinner, but kept letting his tummy go when he thought no one was watching. It was impossible – he definitely didn’t look French and that would be WAY too obvious, considering his job, but where could he be from? There are so many other wine nations. In the end, we reduced ourselves to checking the hotel website for his name and then stalking him on LinkedIn (low, I know).

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Double parked hun?

We eventually settled on him being either South African or Argentinian. Our research informed us that he’d attended multiple wine schools in France, but we simply put this down to the best wine schools being there, so he probably travelled to learn, right? We also found out that he went to Uni in Lyon, but again, he was probably an expat kid (on account of him either being Argentinian or South African) so that made sense. He just can’t be French, because he doesn’t look French. The French have a certain look about them, don’t they? You know what I mean – you always know when someone is French before you speak to them. He came over to speak to us. It was time to find out whether it was South Africa or Argentina. Well, turns out he was French. Who saw that coming?!

There’s another waterfall just down the road from the Sugar Beach resort, called the Piton Falls. It has hot baths where you can relax, listening to the sound of the waterfall and it’s quiet and peaceful. It took us about six attempts to get there, which was less relaxing and peaceful – each time we left the hotel, we realised we’d forgotten something else. The guy manning the gate clearly thought we were a pair of complete loons. It got so awkward as well, because each time you go back through the gate you feel like you have to justify why you’re going back in and make some kind of amusing light-hearted joke about having forgotten your wallet, or your swimsuit, or your towel… it got to the point where we no longer had anything to say to the man on the gate, and just resorted to hanging our heads in shame and avoiding eye contact – this is the appropriately British thing to do, once all banter has been exhausted.

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It’s fashion, look it up

Back at the resort, it’s beach time. We’ve kind of had enough of chilling on the beach, so we opt for an activity – namely, the banana boat. Now, I haven’t been on one of these in years and this is essentially an inflatable sofa being towed around at high speed, attached by a piece of string, to the back of a speed boat. We get on without too much trouble (this is usually where I literally and figuratively fall down) and we are away, only after having signed a form saying the resort isn’t liable if we drown or get our heads cut by the propeller. It’s all good at first, we’re merrily bobbing along, making our way to open water and nothing too dramatic is happening – I’m feeling a bit nervy, but I think anyone would be in this situation, don’t you?

So chill

We’re speeding up. We’re whizzing across the waves at high speed, and then I see the turn coming – the boat has turned right but the inflatable sofa hasn’t caught on to that yet, so we are swinging wildly out to the left, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH – the scream has come out and I can’t stop it now, I’ve broken the seal. Each time we swing out to the side and get whipped back in, I am screaming, SCREAMING at the top of my lungs like nothing you’ve ever heard before – like a banshee on steroids. Apparently this is all too funny and my companion is falling about laughing (as much as you can fall about on an inflatable sofa). I can’t even hear his guffaws over my screaming, but I can see the belly laughs happening. I want to say something to him, tell him to shut up, but each time I open my mouth to speak, a shriek just comes out. The guy driving the boat is looking back at us, clearly concerned there is something wrong with me (which there is) and attempting to decipher whether he should be stopping or continuing.

By now, the laughter has infected me and I’m exhibiting an impressive combination of laughing uproariously until we swing out, then seamlessly slipping into a long, drawn out scream as we head off in the opposite direction to the boat. We’re now at the point where I’ve been laughing, screaming and bumping over waves for such a long time, that I’m desperate for a wee. Each time I scream it makes me laugh and each time I laugh it’s making me need to wee – we’re hurtling over waves, getting splashed left right and centre. I’m laughing so much that I can no longer see and I can’t say for sure whether the water on the inflatable sofa is sea spray or wee. I have no control over myself. None. After 10 whole minutes of screaming, laughing and (maybe) weeing, we are back on dry land. My tummy hurts from laughing so much and I can barely walk in a straight line. I am drunk on laughter.

The rest of the day seems to continue in a similar fashion. We’re chilling in our plunge pool with some music on and I’ve treated myself to a Piton beer (super lady-like). I’m looking at the wall next to the plunge pool and I’m pretty sure that it’s possible to climb on to the wall, run along it and scoot up the incline, onto the railings and over on to our balcony (I’ve had a few drinks at this point). I decide that we simply must try, so I set about scrambling on to the wall from the pool. I can’t imagine what this looked like from behind, other than a giant sausage with arms and legs, trying to heave itself up an on to what was a surprisingly high wall, with absolutely no grace whatsoever. I eventually flop on to the wall, where I realise how high up the balcony is, how steep the incline is on this bit of wall and how smooth it is.

Such a lady

Try as I might, this is not happening – there is no way I’m managing to clamber up this bit of wall and leap over on to our balcony – the wall is soaking wet from the pool water, it’s too slippery and I can’t get any purchase… someone else seems to manage this with complete ease, however and I’m left, crouched on the wall. It’s at this point I realise that I can’t get down either. It’s too far to jump and I can’t climb down either, as my feet are nowhere near the floor if I hang over the edge. HELP! Because I’ve had a few drinks, I start to find this pretty amusing, and soon enough I’m laughing to myself, crouched on the wall alone, soaking wet from the pool. I’ve laughed so much now, that I need a wee again and I’m very much struggling to hold it in, in my current position – crouched on a high wall, in fits of laughter, whilst feeling nervous about never being able to get down and dying on top of this wall.

My companion offers to lift me down, which I abjectly refuse to go along with because A) I don’t want him to have any idea how heavy I am, B) I’m not actually sure if he’s going to be able to lift me down, and I really don’t want to hear him grunt as he takes me weight (because that would be terribly upsetting would most definitely ruin my day) and C) I’m a bit tipsy and I don’t want to fall on him and squash him. After refusing for what was probably around 30 minutes, I’m eventually persuaded that I won’t flatten him into a pancake and I awkwardly half fall/ half jump on to him, clinging to him like one of those little koalas you used to get attached to the pull-cords of lights back in the day. Always glamorous.

Bonnie  

St Lucia Day 4: it’s alright once you’re in

Today is the day we go whale watching (we went with Mystic Man Ocean Adventures) – I’m now no longer allowed to set the alarm, so we get up and away without any hassle whatsoever, which is fine, but distinctly less fun, don’t you think? We head down to the boat and wait around for the guy to come and pick us up, forgetting that everything is on Caribbean time here, in the Caribbean, meaning that 9.30 doesn’t really mean 9.30, it actually means “when I get there, somewhere in the realms of 9.30, because there’s no rush”. We eventually leave, having had to make awkward conversation with some Canadian people in hats, and when I say ‘hat’, I don’t mean like a cap to keep the sun off of your face, I mean like a proper brimmed hat; the kind you would use if you were a horse rancher, which I don’t think either of them were… but Canadians.

We pop on to the boat and head around to the next bit of cove, where we jump on a catamaran with a bunch of other people (I think we are the only culture who pops and jumps anywhere). There’s quite a few of us on there, so we opt to go and sit on the nets at the front of the boat. We think this will make an excellent vantage point (which it did, and I could tell everyone wanted to be sitting where we were sitting, but “you snooze, you lose” in my opinion) but we fail to consider the fact that: A) there is nothing to lean against, so we had to engage the abs the entire boat ride (or in my case, just roll around each time we hit a big wave and then struggle back up) and B) nets have holes in them, holes let things through, boats go on water, meaning bottoms get wet.

I managed to avoid the worst of the splash, probably only because I was rolling around like an empty Coke can in the breeze each time we went over a wave, in comparison to my companion who has distinctly better core than I do, who managed to stay in place, getting decidedly soaked.

We were on the lookout the entire time for whales (we both love whales and any chance to see them we will be taking it) unfortunately we didn’t see any whales (wah) but we did see dolphins! All the dolphins in fact; we saw spinner dolphins and common dolphins and there were absolutely loads of them – the whole family had come out to play. The guy doing the tour estimated that there were about 100 dolphins around us!

They were leaping out of the water, circling around the boat and swimming right underneath us. They were splashing around and playing, doing somersaults and all sorts – it was like the dolphin gymnastics! Some of the height these guys got was incredible, if you’d spun around at the right moment you would have sworn you’d just seen a flying dolphin. The spinner dolphins are the ones doing all the acrobatics and the pan-tropical dolphins are the ones who are mooching along more sensibly.

The rare hover dolphin

Once we were back on dry land again, it was time to head up to Jade Mountain hotel, which is just behind the one we were staying in (Anse Chastanet) and owned by the same guy (I’ll come on to him later – not physically of course – perhaps in a later post, as I don’t feel that a few sentences about this will do him and the situation any justice). We went for lunch in their restaurant which has a view over the pitons across the water. It would have been lovely up there if it wasn’t a complete wind trap. Each time you put something down on the table, it slowly started making its way across, before catching a gust and plunging to the floor. My sunglasses, napkin and menu all suffered the same fate. The loo was also really nice here, if you are interested (which I am), because nothing beats a good loo and it’s not at all weird that I’ve included a photo of it.

The food was good, but I have to say, the service felt a little uncomfortable. It was all very quiet and I felt as if I had to be on my best behaviour, which soon slipped, but nonetheless… we got asked about 8 times whether our food was okay, and it got to the point where we were replying to questions more than we were eating.

After that, we asked if there was a room available for us to look at – the architecture here is supposed to be really cool (it looked a bit communist for my liking… so many pillars… but each to their own). The rooms at the front are open to the elements and we were shown a room which had two out of the usual four walls. We asked what you would do if there was a hurricane, seeing as you are missing half your walls and there is no way to block said hurricane, and were told that you should hide in the bath… there weren’t two baths, so I only assume that one of you had to sacrifice yourself to the wind.

Excuse the terrible hair

I’m on board with interesting architecture (despite the hotel looking a tad like a fit-flop if you go for the aerial view) and making the most of the view you have and all that jazz, but I do feel somewhat as if missing half of your room is a bit much, especially seeing as you have paid an extortionate amount of money for this room, only to be provided with a mere fraction of it. But maybe that’s just me.

What else is there to do in the afternoon in St. Lucia than spend it on the beach? So, down we head. We are sitting there chilling, managing not to steal anyone’s water,  chatting our usual rubbish and making an extra-ordinary amount of noise laughing, when a guy spots us and comes over on his way down to the water. He asks us if we have been for a swim yet and we tell him that we’ve been snorkelling a couple of times and where the best spots we’ve found are. He asks if we are going to come in to the water, “we might in a bit” we reply, and away he goes, donning his inflatable life jacket on his way – this was entirely amusing, but 100% expected if you’d have met this guy – he was super cute and super, super camp.

Anyway, he’s plunging into the water and messing about with his other half (also super cute) and they are yelping and shouting and having an all-round great time, before looking back at us where we are sat on our sun-loungers and exclaiming “it’s alright once you’re in”. I mean, have you even been on holiday if someone doesn’t say that? I think not. This phrase is literally the most ridiculous thing you can say to anyone about the water, but we still all insist on saying it to everyone when we are in the water and they are thinking about it. I swear to God that someone would plunge into the icy waters of the Arctic, be in the throes of contracting hypothermia and still proclaim that it’s “alright once you’re in”, simply because we, as British people, cannot help ourselves.

Bonnie

St. Lucia, Day 1: fire towels

There’s nothing like a holiday to get you back on the blog post hype, right? I’ve been silent, I know, and I’m sorry… kind of. Like, I’m going to apologise for it because that’s what you’re supposed to do and all that, but I’m not even really sure why we bother to do it. Life happens or you just don’t feel like writing anything, or you literally just forget that your blog even exists until you get that reminder from WordPress about making a payment to renew your domain. All I’m saying, is that I don’t feel like anyone really cares for the apology, ya know? So, I’ll say soz, but I’m not even sure I mean it, or that you really want me to say it.

Anyway, so I went on holiday and I wanted to tell you about it. I went to St Lucia which isn’t a place I had even remotely considered going, but when the offer came up, I thought ‘why on earth not’, because you might as well go to these places, even if you don’t actually have any idea where they are or what there is to do there, or even why you might want to go there at all. So off I went. Off I went at the crack of dawn.

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View from the hotel

I had to get up before the birds had even started to sing (it was THAT early) and lugging your suitcase down 2 flights of stairs is not the one at any point of the day, let alone at daybreak. After clanging my way down the stairs with a suitcase which was 100% at least twice as heavy as when I had packed it the night before, I was in my Uber away to the airport. I was incredibly pleased to hear the camp-as-you-like voice of Steve Allen wafting towards me from the LBC breakfast show. In case you weren’t aware (which you most definitely won’t be, on account of me never having told you) I am a huge Steve Allen fan and it causes me great pain that his show is on unfortunately early in the morning, meaning I rarely get to listen to him on the radio, unless I want to be rising with the morning sun (which I really do not).

We’re making haste in the Uber when I begin to develop a rather unfortunate-feeling tummy ache, and by ‘unfortunate-feeling’ I mean that I feel as if my bum hole is about to explosively disconnect itself from the rest of my body. I shouldn’t have eaten those 20 chillies with my lunch yesterday, but I did, so there. We’re trotting along the motorway at a fair clip now, which would be fine, if the Uber driver didn’t keep getting perilously close to the van in front of us, then braking hard and swerving to avoid the impending collision. It would literally have been easier to drive inside the back of the van and ponce a lift all the way there. I don’t know if he was trying to slipstream or what, but it would have been much better for my explodey-bum-hole situation if he wasn’t doing whatever he was trying to do.

We landed in St Lucia a while later. Oh, and when I say ‘we’, I don’t mean myself and the Uber driver, in case you were worrying. I went on holiday with someone I actually know, I didn’t just strike up an incredible and intense relationship with my Uber man and whisk him away to a Caribbean island. I do however accept that something like that happening is always a possibility and I would never put it past myself – the feelings between a girl and her 5-star Uber driver are not something to be sniffed at.

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A moodier view from the hotel

We arrive at the airport and set about procuring our hire car, which takes an exceptionally long time and is mainly down to the fact that there were so many people trying to help at the car rental desk, that they actually began to hinder one another’s progress. To the point where I think that there were actually 2 of them working at one computer. But we make it out of the airport unscathed, if a little sweaty, and begin to make our way to the hotel. I’m very excited by this point, not about the fact that I am on holiday as such, but mainly due to the density of goats (hands down best farm animal and I will accept no argument) on the street AND the fact that there are actual real life bananas growing by the side of the road. Did you hear me? REAL LIFE BANANAS!

We make it to the hotel in one piece, but only just. The fancy-ass hotel we are going to is down a road which I can only describe to you as being the most ridiculous (not fancy-ass) road I have ever had the misfortune to travel along in my entire life. This road (if you could even call it that) is the lumpiest and bumpiest thing I have ever experienced. It was so ridiculous that it caused uncontrollable laughter to be expelled from my face. It was so ridiculous that at one point, I think I actually got hit in the face with my own boob, and I’m not even over-exaggerating. There is no lower point in life, than the point where you get pelted in the face by your own chest appendages. I don’t know how the physics of the earth managed it, because this should definitely be a thing which is physically impossible (like licking your own elbow, or doing the splits) but I can only assume that I am some sort of exception to the rule… You might even say I was the 8thwonder of the world, but obviously I will leave that for you to decide.

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Such a cute room

We arrive at the Anse Chastanet hotel in Soufriere (after a complete boob bashing) and we are greeted with a ‘cooling’ peppermint towel. I don’t know if any of you have applied peppermint directly to your face, but it’s not an experience I would describe as particularly ‘cooling’. In fact, it was rather fierce and much like setting fire to a Polo mint and then shoving it up your nose; that’s the kind of experience we are talking about here. My face was burning, my nose was burning, my throat was burning, and I even think my lungs were burning. My very existence was burning. I wouldn’t have been surprised if smoke started billowing out of my arse, resulting in my becoming the muse for the next How to Train Your Dragon film.

Bonnie

Burgundy be bringing me fame (maybe)

Aight, so, here’s the thing. I actually properly love burgundy as a clothing colour. I like it because it always goes with my skin tone and the colour of my hair, and not everything is matchy matchy when you are ginge, I tell you. It’s a strong colour, which always look way better on me than wishy-washy colours; I’m too pale for them (I think) and I just become a wishy-washy person, ya know? I don’t even just love it for Autumn either, I just generally love it as a colour and bust it out whenever I can, but without looking like I only own burgundy garms.

I’m trying to get back on the Insta hype, but I’m finding it hard, I’m not going to lie. Like, how do you become Insta-famous when you legit have nothing interesting to take pics of in your life? How???? Urgh. Anyway, one of my top girls suggested that I come up with some sort of theme for it, or at the very least, some form of plan. The word ‘theme’ and ‘plan’ made me audibly sigh as I consumed them via ear hole, and as much as I hate theming and planning, I have to admit that she is right. She is correct. Correctamundo. As much as it pains me to admit it.

that jumper tho

I couldn’t embrace the theme life – I chop and change too much and I have -38% chance of sticking with anything I decide upon, so I elected to colour-coordinate it. The whole thing isn’t going to be the same colour (don’t worry, that would end me), but every line of 3 tiles is going to have a colour theme. Which brings me back to the whole burgundy thing. This weeks’ set are all having a burgundy theme, whether you like it or not.

I’m hoping that having a colour theme is going to make it easier for me to post, whether that actually becomes a reality, is another matter. The last time I attempted to reach for Insta fame, I lasted for about 2 weeks before I crumbled, having gained about 1 follower. It’s too hard work, like, it’s really hard work and I don’t know how people do it. The second I post something, I’m staring at the screen like “WHY HASN’T ANYONE LIKED IT???? IT’S BEEN 2 SECONDS!!!!!!!!”. I find myself unbearable, and that really is saying something.

Rambling… bring it in Bonnie… Right, I’m going to aim for 3 or 4 posts a week (probably more like 3) because there is just no way I can post on a daily basis. Some people are out there posting like 3 times a day – whose life is that interesting? Because mine certainly isn’t! I don’t do enough cool stuff, eat enough cool stuff or wear enough cool stuff to post that damn regularly. I’m getting hot under the collar trying to choose a colour for next weeks’ tiles (check me out on the vernacular) because I’m just not sure that I have enough yellow items to keep me on the straight and narrow.

This post started out with me wanting to get you to follow my Insta, but the whole ‘pushing the content’ thing didn’t really happen – I just ended up having a bit of a rant about how hard it is to the Insta thing and basically moaned about not being cool enough. But, well, if you happen to come across my Insta, if you just happen to happen by it, give me a follow? And if you are feeling exceptionally friv, how about you like my 2 burgundy themed posts? Treat me, you know you want to.

Bonnie

The false pocket infuriation

This weekend I went to Cambridgeshire to see one of my girls for her birthday. She was having a bit of a ‘gathering’ on the Saturday night with a bunch of her friends. I still feel uncomfortable about calling a group of people coming together of an evening and partaking in a few beverages, a ‘party’. There is something about the word ‘party’ which just makes the whole thing a little too serious and pressured. Like, if only 3 people turn up to your gathering, it doesn’t matter. There’s no judgement, it’s not a big deal – it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a gathering. But a party? A PARTY needs people. There is a requirement for attendance, so you don’t look like a complete looser. If only 3 people turn up to a party, your life is as good as over, is it not? Can you imagine? A party and only 3 people turn up. The ground would have to swallow me up there and then. It could not be lived down.

Anyway, I went there early so we could spend some QT and I’d help her set it all up on the Saturday. We went out for some drinks at the local Spoons on the Friday night. We thought it would be appropriate to share a bottle of prosecco, seeing as it was her birthday – and any excuse for prosecco right?

I’d decided that space buns were going to be a thing that day (mainly due to it being 32 degrees and me really not enjoying my hair being stuck to the back of my neck with sweat). I teamed those little bobbles of gloriousness with my new mustard yellow crop top with the pom-pom fringe, some big gold hoops and the dark blue maxi skirt everyone seems to love.

Everyone asks me where this is from, and I always tell them it is from River Island (which is not a lie), but I also have to explain to them that I bought this when I was an actual child of 15 and I’ve had it ever since (it’s been through various stages of tightness during that period). Because so many people have said they like it, I don’t want anyone to go mooching about the shops trying to locate this skirt that was in Spring/Summer Season 2009. As funny as that would be, I just can’t do that to my fellow ladies. I also just kind of don’t want them to wear the same clothes as me, because if they did – I would have to burn the skirt, which I don’t want to do, because as everyone says, it’s a nice skirt.

Where was I???? Oh prosecco! Well, it turns out I was very much wrong about the pro being a good idea. This prosecco was THE WORST prosecco I have ever consumed in my life. I can’t even explain what it tasted like; all I can say was it was legitimately one of the worst alcoholic beverages I have ever had the misfortune to consume. It almost tasted mouldy.

Oh, and to top the night off… You know how I said about wanting to burn my clothes if I ever saw anyone wearing the same thing? Well, I certainly wish I hadn’t said that out loud, because the universe clearly decided to punish me for it, by burning a huge great hole in my skirt when someone dropped their cigarette ash on me. URGH!!! Is this genuinely a punishment for being a bit of a brat about the clothes thing? Because it really does feel like it and I can now only assume that they whole world is entirely against me.

Whatever. Back to the gathering… I was finding it hard to decide what to wear for this, obvs there is no need to be super smart, but I wanted to look decent as well as minimise the sweat level as much as possible. Do you know what this calls for? This calls for the new wide leg, high waisted light blue trousers. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

They tie up at the waist and nip you in just nicely and skim over everything else. I teamed them with a white tee with a blue and a red stripe on it, flatform sandals, chunky gold hoops and some tortoiseshell mirror sunglasses. I loved myself so much in this outfit, ngl. I felt fash AF.

The whole gathering thing started off a bit slowly, because no one really knew each other. But a bottle of vodka later and I was still sitting outside at ridiculous o’clock – putting the world to rights with my new mate Tim. We were discussing (in an alcohol fuelled state) the fact that we both felt as if we should achieve more and make a bigger difference with our brains, but were so far achieving precisely nothing of note, as a result of extensive procrastination and a generally lack of belief in oneself – and the classic ‘it’s easier to just not try’ thing, which so many of us suffer at the hand of. In addition, we discussed how incredibly unfair it is that women’s trousers never have sufficient pockets, and that the false pocket is possibly the most infuriating invention in the entire world, and he is certainly not wrong.

Bonnie

Another day, another slice o’ pie

23rd June

Heading back to Moresby island today in preparation for our boat expedition the following day. We had to go back through Queen Charlotte to get there, meaning we HAD to stop at Queen B’s café, we really didn’t have a choice. First, however, we went for a little mooch around the town. We treated ourselves to another totem pole viewing and saw a truck load of bald eagles circling around above us and chilling on the beach.

Couple of baldies

As well as a row of ravens sitting next to the kid’s park. I think they wanted to have a go on the slide but thought we’d judge them if they hopped on (I would have FYI).

I had an enchilada at Queen B’s, which was scrummy and topped it off with a slice of pumpkin and pecan pie, which beat that enchilada hands down, even though it was a pretty good enchilada. But ain’t no enchilada as good as no pie. U get me?

We got to our hotel on Moresby Island, which was The Sandspit Inn. My door didn’t really shut, but that was easily overcome by using my total bodyweight to yank it shut after me. If you think about it, it’s pretty much an additional safety feature – no one is going to waltz in and steal my things if the door is too big for the frame and they can’t open it, are they? No, they aren’t. After battling with that for a while, I laid on the bed and vegetated for a while/the rest of the evening.

The evening was turning into night and I was looking forward to bedding down and getting in a good night’s sleep before we started exploring via boat the next day. No sooner than my head rested upon the pillow, did the hotel bar turn into some sort of club and start pumping out all of the bass. I don’t mind a bit of loud music, but it really is a surprise when your hotel turns out to be an absolute slave to the sesh and not the least bit interested in their guests getting a decent amount of shut eye. I can only imagine how loud the music would have been if my door wasn’t quite so snug in the door frame. Silver linings and all that.

Bonnie

BFTs: Big Fuckin’ Trees

22nd June

We headed to a place called Port Clements today, there’s not much there and to be honest it wasn’t really worth the drive, but we did stop for another slice of pie on the way there (see, told you I’d opened the floodgate). The pie was at a place called Angela’s place, which happened to be another gas station-cum-diner, or a ‘social café and fuel station’ as per the sign.

I’d say that this pie had a better filling than the previous nights, but the pastry wasn’t as nice… So, I can’t say which one was better… I’d possibly lean towards the first one as the whole experience was just a little better.

We stopped to see the Golden Spruce on our way back, which was a GIANT let down. Basically, it used to be this big gold coloured spruce tree, until some proper nut job cut it down in a protest. I’m all for a protest and that, but cutting down a super old one-of-a-kind tree? Nah. You can have a little read about that sitch here, if you’re interested. Anyway, so we went there to look at this stump, which was exactly that – a stump. I’ll give you £1 if you can even see a hint of golden in this pic… thought not.

In this park, there were some huge trees, like, properly massive trees. Well over the wingspan of one girl. Some of them, it probably would have taken about 8 or 9 of you holding hands to go all the way around the tree.

I feel like most of what I talk about revolves around food, but I’m actually fine about that, so here’s some more about food… Because dinner was SO good last night, we went to Sherri’s Gas Bar & Grill again to eat. We had a summer salad, which was mad tasty – I’ve never had raspberries, blackberries, mandarin and nuts in a salad before, but I WILL be having it again, Mouth-watering doesn’t even begin to do this justice.

Following on from yesterday’s crab cakes, I couldn’t help but opt for another crab-containing meal. I had a crab patty burger, which was NEXT LEVEL. It was just… I can’t even describe it, it was so yummy. Moist, perfectly seasoned, beyond fresh. I could wax lyrical about this crab burger for the rest of the day if no one stopped me. Is anyone going to stop me? I tell you what would stop me though; stuffing my face with another crab burger.

Obviously, there was room for pie. Apple pie and lemon meringue pie (promise I didn’t eat both slices on my own). Apple pie was distinctly better than the lemon meringue – nicely spiced, pastry was fierce and the whole thing was just on ittttt.

Yummo. See, pie is becoming a serious problem for me. Like, it may even be an addiction. I’ve had 3 different kinds of pie in 1 day. HELP!

Bonnie

Pickle spears and little deers

19th June

The next couple of days involved travelling back to Whitehorse, the only notable happening was the consumption of some pickle sticks at the Airport Chalet in Whitehorse. I’ve never had a pickle stick in all my life – in essence, they are sticks of pickle (or gherkin if you are from da UK) which are bread-crumbed and then fried, resulting in the most glorious tasting things I have ever had the fortune to eat in my life.

We experienced a rather wonderful sunset as we were flying back to Vancouver – quite vibrant in colour, and I love the lil moon peeking through.

20th June

The following day saw us travelling to Haida Gwaii. Haida Gwaii is what used to be known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, in and around that area there are loads of cool first nation island ruins, where you can see the houses that existed on the islands, old house frontal poles and mortuary poles. First, however, we are heading to Masset where we have a few nights stay at the Eagles Feast House, which is a guesthouse right on the water.

When we land, we have about an hour and a half drive to where we are staying. The island is so peaceful, like, I’ve never been anywhere to tranquil in my entire life. It just has this aura of relaxation about it. The islands are being overrun with deer, and they are everywhere! We saw a little one on our drive toward Queen Charlotte, such a little bambi!

When we were in Queen Charlotte we stopped at this great little café called Queen B’s.

They have daily specials and everything is home-made and delicious. I had hummus, pita, salad and soup, accompanied by a cranberry sparkler.

We took in some totem poles, before arriving at our B&B in Masset, where I had a nice room overlooking the water.

I was looking forward to some downtime in Masset, we hadn’t anything planned, and it would be nice to have a break and just not really do anything. All the travelling we’ve been doing has resulted in a haze of tiredness. So, I settled down that evening for a date with Jake Peralta, of Brooklyn 99 (taking advantage of the free WiFi of course).

Bonnie

Today, ft. more driving ‘n’ wind.

17th June

When is there not driving to be done? There is always driving to be done. In Canada, one does not simply, not drive. Here, people think 2 hours is a short drive… Like, HUN, 2 minutes is a short drive – 2 hours, and you will need to present a strong business case to gain my attendance.

Anyway, we were heading back to Eagle Plains, which means we were going back through the mountains where it had been snowing a mere day or two prior. Well, when we passed back through that area, it was literally like a different planet. Snow was not a thing, it was well above freezing and there was actual sun.

The only downside to this, was that it was obscenely windy. So windy, that getting a decent selfie was impossible. So windy, that in every single photo of me, you can see my forehead. My forehead is a thing few have seen. Even worse than that, it looks like I have a Rod Stewart mullet going on, which is less than ideal. People were starting to mistake me for dear Rod and began asking for off the cuff renditions of Maggie May (I was only too obliging).

I can’t even describe to you how knotty my hair was after braving the wind at the Arctic Circle sign. It was almost like it had been woven into a mat: that’s how tangled up it was.

Also, how cool is this hazy mountain vibe? It looks like it was born to be on a gallery wall. All the pinks and greys and blue are just everything to me.

We stopped for a bit by the river to have a rest and stretch our legs. I made the MASSIVE error of getting out of the car and going for a wander down the river banks – I experienced major regrets. I don’t usually get bitten by mosquitos, but this was most definitely an exception. If I’d been wearing trousers like a sensible person, then none of this would have happened, but I wasn’t, I was wearing tights. Obvs not just the tights, cos that would be weird, but a tights and dress combo, like a normal person.

I got savaged by these little winged assholes, so, I had some properly mangy looking legs for like a week. Hot or not? Most definitely not. But, on the plus side, I did find a pebble that looked like a heart – so silver linings and all that.

It almost makes the mauled legs worth it… apart from the fact that it really doesn’t.

Bonnie

Having your arm in the socket is overrated

15th June

Had another pretty chilled day today – the place we are staying at keeps huskies, and if you are short on things to do, you can take one out for a walk. So, this is exactly what I did. Let me tell you one thing right now: HUSKIES ARE MAD STRONG. I don’t know why this came as a surprise to me (seeing as they pull sleds for a living) but by the time this walk was over, my right shoulder was dramatically less in the socket than it was when it began.

I even took out one of the smaller ones who was only a year old, but she was still ridiculously strong. Like, it was more like being pulled along by a horse than it was a dog. As a result, I think they should measure things in husky power, rather than horse power.

Even though I’m a fully paid up member of the ‘don’t really like dogs’ club, even I have to admit, these pups were frickin’ cute. Even when they did stop to drink out of puddles which were more mud than water and pause to consume what I think was some sort of moss. Yick.

I even let one eat a piece of dog biscuit out of my flesh and bone hand. But between you and me, that was the 4th bit of biscuit I had provided, after wussing out and dropping the other ones each time the doggo’s face came at me. But don’t tell anyone, please.

After my arm had been stretched sufficiently (if only I could do that with my legs), resulting ruined ligaments and tendons for life, we popped out to find the local car wash. The trouble with the roads around here, is that your car gets properly dusty.

Then, the dust gets everywhere, and when you get out of the car, you end up with mud all over the back of your trousers. Not that that happened EVERY SINGLE time or anything… it’s almost like I never learn.

Bonnie

Chilly feets and gnarly eats

14th June

We’re up nice and early again today, and once I’ve consumed a bucket of coffee and snacked on some more of that granola, we’re on our way to Tuktoyaktuk. Tuktoyaktuk (or ‘Tuk’ if you don’t have all day) is a hamlet which is north of the Arctic Circle, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean. Until recently you couldn’t access Tuk unless by plane or ice road once the ocean had frozen. Just last year, they built a road, so you can drive all the way there from Inuvik. Because the road is pretty new, there is a low weight limit on it, meaning trucks still can’t get down there. But I am not driving a truck, so I can certainly get down there, and paddling in the Arctic Ocean is pretty tempting isn’t it? Especially when I don’t know a single person who has done that.

So, we head off; the journey takes about 3 hours in total, and let me tell you now, that journey is BORING. The scenery the entire way looks exactly the same, apart from a couple of pingos which appear out of the landscape along the way. A pingo is a mound of ice covered in earth, and this area is known as the ‘land of the pingos’. Yes, there are pingos, but I don’t think there are quite enough to legitimately name the area ‘land of the pingos’… ‘area containing some pingos’ would be much more appropriate I feel, but that is another argument for another day.

The first section of the drive is a little… well, a little uncomfortable, let’s just say that. There are some bitch-ass ruts on this road, and I felt like I was either going to smash my head into the roof of the car or hit myself in the face with my boobs – that’s how bumpy this was. This pic doesn’t do it one iota of justice, but I promise you a smooth ride, it was not.

As we were driving along, we came across a lonely little caribou in the road. I’m not sure if this little one was a girl or a boy, but it was pretty damned cute, so I am going to make her a her. Anyway, she was all on her own, which was kinda sad, because I feel like they aren’t really supposed to be in their own, so I am guessing she missed the rest of them when they made the migration or something… Or maybe she got left behind for some reason. Anyway, I managed to get some cute pics of the little lady, and she went for a bit of a jump around and trot along the road in front of us.

Once she’d sauntered off into the distance, we carried on, eventually arriving at the Tuktoyaktuk sign, for the obligatory pics.

As we drive in, we come to the realisation that the sea if still frozen – we were not expecting this! Usually by now it’s completely melted, but there is a definite amount for freezage going on here. We were booked onto a tour with an Inuvialuit lady, who is native to the area, and called Eileen. Once we have located Eileen, after borrowing a helpful Canadian lady’s phone, she comes and grabs us, and we head to her house. Now, I have to admit, I was dubious about the entire thing. When you arrive here, it really does appear if there is nothing here, not just limited amounts of things, but literally nothing, and in all honesty, it looks a bit of a state.

Eileen serves us up some traditional fare, some of which was edible and some of which was distinctly not, but I am proud to say I tried it all. There was caribou stew, which was surprisingly nice and dried whale meat, which was unsurprisingly un-nice; it just tasted so much like dead whale, I cannot even begin to tell you. We had some muktuk, which is the skin and blubber of a whale and this is genuinely rancid. Eileen was telling us that people cover it in brown sauce, and I can 100% understand why, because you do not actually want to taste that stuff when you are consuming it. Dried musk ox was the chewiest thing I have ever attempted to consume in my life, and I am sorry to say, that one had to come back out of my mouth as there was no chance that was going down the hatch without resulting in much retching. The smoked white fish was genuinely really tasty, and the piece de resistance was the bannock. Oh, the bannock [insert lovestruck emoji here]. If this bannock had DMs, I would be sliding right into those because this was the tastiest thing in the whole of Canada, hands down, no argument. No word of a lie, I am 97% sure I ate an entire loaf of it.

Eileen looking fierce in her mum’s dress parka – who knew there was such a thing as a dress parka?!

Her husband, Billy, took us out into his trappers’ tent and showed us some of the different animals he had trapped in his time. Whilst this was interesting, and really cool to see how they made a living, I’ve not got any pics, because dead cute ‘n’ fluffies actually breaks my heart. We headed back out and went to see the first Tuk sign, which was put there in the 70s, and is in relatively good condition, all things considered. Here we are looking like a few heavies outside da club.

After that, she took us to see her smokehouse which was on the beach, right next to the ocean.

I took this opportunity to remove my shoes and socks and have a paddle in the Arctic Ocean. Just to let you know – it’s cold AF. Like, next level cold, so cold that I have never experienced a chill like it. Icy doesn’t even do it justice!

It’s also really hard to get your shoes back on after you’ve gone for your paddle (as exhibited in the below photographic evidence).

Your feet are numb to the core and the pebbles are massive and the whole thing is a bit of a palaver; but it is SO worth it, just to say you did it. Even if I did get a higher than desired level of silt in my suede shoes.

Bonnie

A lazy day and school bus suppers

13th June

You may have noticed that I missed a day out, if you did – then thank you for religiously reading this – you and the one other person who isn’t my mum should probably get married or something. Anyway, the reason I missed a day out, is because on that day I did literally nothing. I didn’t wake up until about 1pm, and for a couple of reasons; firstly, because the sun is up here until about 1am, and secondly, because all the driving had knackered me.

When I did wake up, I sat in bed and read my book, replied to a bunch of messages and emails, progressed to watching re-runs of Friends, Will & Grace and 2 and a Half Men and then ate a fat bag of granola and drank about a gallon of coffee. All in all, a pretty productive day, wouldn’t you say? I needed a break in all honesty – holidays are tiring when you are on the move constantly, never sleeping in the same place for more than a couple of nights, driving and straining your eyes looking for the non-existent wildlife of British Columbia.

The next day I managed to rise from my coffin at a slightly more reasonable time, but in all honesty, achieved about as little. What I did achieve, however, was the consumption of food. There aren’t many places to eat in Inuvik, in fact, the only options you have are a couple of hotels and one family-run restaurant. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother with the hotels and I’d stick with the family-run, which is called Alestine’s, if you’re interested.

Alestine’s is only open from 5pm-8pm in the evenings, so make sure you get there on time. This place is a cute little shack on Franklin Road, where they do all their cooking out of the back of a bright yellow school bus.

The service is friendly, and you’re served by the wife of the family, who is rushed off her feet constantly because of the popularity of this place. They have about 5 main course options on the menu and one dessert, which are given to change as and when things are in and out of season, or when the chef fancies something different. We entered in and who else did we see sitting in there, but Susan and Michael! We promptly park ourselves down on their table and ask them what’s good on the menu. After taking that in, I order the fish tacos at the recommendation of Susan. I’ve never had fish tacos, but when in Rome and all that…

My fish tacos soon arrived, and boy did I enjoy them. They came with fries (as does everything in Canada) and they were filled with fried white fish, mango salsa and a light coleslaw. YUM!! I wolfed those down in about 8 seconds flat, got my hands covered in sauce and ended up with chutney all round my face – so it was a good meal for sure. It took all my mental strength to try and not wipe my hands on my trousers. I’ll leave you to decide for yourselves whether I managed that or not.

I’m so bad with wiping my hands on my trousers. I KNOW I shouldn’t be doing it, but I literally cannot help myself – the desire is too overwhelming. It’s clearly much more ladylike and polite to wipe ones’ hands upon a napkin of a serviette, but I just feel like my trousers really do the job better, and it’s obviously way better for the environment if I shun all serviettes and refuse to use them. That practically makes me an eco-warrior, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it??????

Bonnie

“You’re bringing the Arctic Circle into disrepute”

11th June

Overnight it continued snowing, and when I looked out the window in the morning there was still a smattering of snow. I’d been looking forward to being snowed in and having to dig the car out and put on the snow-chains to be honest – but no such luck. All I got was to slip about a foot on the metal grid out the front of the hotel #MichelleODrama. Because it’s all kindsa of mountainous between here and the next stop (Inuvik) we decided to set off with an American couple we’d met in the hotel, called Michael and Susan. Safety in numbers and all that!

Because I’m a born daredevil, I opt to drive first and lead the pack as such. No sooner do we get down the hill from the hotel, does all the snow disappear – muchos dissappointios! However, in the place of the snow, was a sludge you would be hard pressed to call a road. There were some spots which were black-ice-level slippery. Some impressive skids were done in the 4×4. I think I pretty much held my breath for the entire drive – that’s how hard I was concentrating.

We start climbing up towards the Arctic Circle, the snow has made a reappearance and the temperature is dropping big style. By the time we reach the Arctic Circle sign it’s -5 degrees Celsius, the wind-chill factor making it a cool MINUS 20!!!! Chilly does not even cover it. The sign appears out of the snow and we pull over to get some pics. Now, this was a dramatic 10 minutes, even for me. I stop the car and I get out… And only I get out… It turns out that in the cold and snow, the passenger door and the rear doors have frozen shut and we can’t get them open. No amount of tugging is opening those bad boys, so an amount of clambering had to be done to exit the vehicle.

I was desperate for a wee by now, so I headed to the loo. It’s so windy here, I was almost blown past the lav – but I made it in eventually, after a long battle with the door. I get in there, and the loo seat is covered in snow. This is something I have NEVER experienced in all of my loo visits. A good inch of snow stands between my bare arse and the toilet seat… Hovering seems a good idea at this point.

After a tricky few minutes I exit the loo, struggling to do my trousers up in the freezing conditions, only to hear Michael (the American guy) shouting though the wind at me “Bonnie, do your trousers up! You are bringing the Arctic Circle into disrepute!”. Needless to say, this did not help me with doing my trousers up – not only were my hands frozen, they were now jiggling around uncontrollably as a result of intense laughter. And I was trying to run.

It was way too cold to get any decent photos, so we accept that we will have to stop on the way back and get the pics. Seriously weak selfie game was exhibited.

Ooh, I forgot to mention! When I got out of the car here, I got a high 5 from Michael saying I was a great little driver. Never has anything made my life more than this did. He is my new fave person.

I carried on driving and I’m not going to lie, it got beyond terrifying. Obvs I loved how terrifying it was, but it really was scary. It started snowing heavily and visibility was non-existent. All I could see in front of me was white, and the occasional flash of the lights on the RV we’d come up behind. Driving down this road, the wind was whipping up the snow from beside the road, meaning I couldn’t see where the road was or where the other cars were.

There isn’t anywhere you can stop, and even if you did stop, you run the risk of getting hit by another car who just hasn’t seen you in the snow – so I press on. This was white knuckle – I’m not gonna lie. When I eventually got out of the car, my hands were screaming in pain from how hard I’d been gripping the steering wheel. Even though I thought I might vom from the fear, it was EPIC and I would drive through another snowstorm in a heartbeat.

After the treachery of the icy mountains, the rest of the drive was pretty mundane. We crossed over on a ferry, entered into Port McPherson and stopped for something to eat at the tourist centre. Again, there’s hardly anything here, but a break was definitely required, and the local food cooked at the tourist centre was really yummy, making it worth the stop. They had bannock, soup and fish, all done on the BBQ, and they had a tipi set up that you could have a look in. One of the guys explained about putting up the tipi and told us it was his first time – pretty good for a first attempt I think!

As we were coming into Inuvik (which was to be our home for the next couple of days), we paused to stretch our legs. There was a short hike, which I opted for, turning out to be the most non-event hike of my life.

A lot of climbing and a whole load of nothing to see, apart from hella bear poo. But a selfie at the top was required all the same. Selfie game much closer to being ok point.

We arrived in the evening at Arctic Chalet, Inuvik, which was where we were staying. We had clearly interrupted the woman who runs its dinner, and she did not seem best pleased.

Apologising profusely to Judy, we were handed some keys and pointed in the direction of some wooden cabins, where snow-covered loo seats haunted my dreams.

Bonnie

A rare moose sighting

10th June

Today’s the day we start the serious driving. Our aim on this trip is to reach the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk in the North West Territories – it’s about as far as you can go without actually plopping into the ocean. The first leg of the journey is to travel from Dawson City to Eagle Plains and you’re driving on the Dempster Highway. Again, ‘highway’ is a fierce stretch for what is actually a gravel road. We’re hoping to see some wildlife along the way – it’s not a massively busy road, on account of the number of people wanting to drive in the wild wilderness being relatively slim, so we are thinking our chances are pretty good. We really should have learned by now, that we are not blessed with frequent and numerate animal sightings… but we started our travels with high hopes nonetheless.

There weren’t many places to stop on our previous journeys, maybe one or two gas stations and places to eat along the way. On the way to Eagle Plains, there really is nowhere to stop. There is nowhere to get a drink, there is nowhere to get something to eat and there is nowhere to get gas, so make sure you fill up before you go. It’s about 400km and it takes about 7 hours – less if you drive like your 18-year-old son, and more if you drive like your 81-year-old nan. The first place to stop off along the way is Tombstone Interpretive Centre, here you can learn about the wildlife in the area, stop for a rest and grab yourself a cup of Labrador tea from the stove. Labrador is a plant btw, not the dog.

There’s a few trails around this area, but because it was a bit miz on that day, we didn’t opt for anything strenuous. We followed the Beaver trail along to a beaver dam, in the hope that we would spot some of the toothy little fellows.

As I am sure you have already guessed, we did not. The most we saw was a sign of beaver habitation – a gnawed stump of tree.

The dry spell continues, as do the heart crushing feels. A chipmunk would do at this point… ANYTHING!! Whilst I was waiting patiently for a beaver to swim by (none did), I did see a squirrel (which I bet you can’t even see in this pic) and a bird. WOOHOO!! Not. No offense squirrel and bird, but we have you at home and you just aren’t what we made the journey for.

We continued along our way, keeping our eyes peeled for bears, moose and the like. We came across a creek; a red creek. This creek is red because it’s essentially rusty, which is pretty neat and it really stands out in comparison to the hundreds of very non-red creeks we had driven past that day.

So much of the scenery Is gawj, but as it was drizzling constantly there weren’t a lot of good photo ops.

After many, many hours of driving, we make it to Eagle Plains… just as it starts to snow. Now, we had heard that snow had been a possibility, but only on the high grounds, so we had thought we weren’t going to see any of those white flakes. Well, it turns out that Eagle Plains is pretty much atop a mountain, so snow shouldn’t really have been that unexpected.

It’s chilling right down now, and we’re glad to get inside the one and only hotel in Eagle Plains – the Eagle Plains Hotel (no one messed around with a creative name for that one, did they?). The most interesting thing about this place is that it was built in the 80s and not a single thing has been done to it since. There is a fairly large crack in one of the windows in the dining room which has probably been residing there since about 1984. Amusingly, in the dining room the tables come equipped with a miniature sled containing your sugar, coffee cups, pepper and salt (with an extraordinary amount of rice in it). When I say extraordinary – I mean the salt to rice ratio was pro rice.

This is the only place to get food, so you have to eat here, but they have a relatively decent menu considering they are in the arse end of nowhere, and they have daily specials too. In the bar you are greeted to what I would imagine is approximately a national parks-full of taxidermy mammals. On the plus side, we did finally see a moose… Positively devilish don’t you think?

Bonnie

No Sourdough Sourdough Joe’s

9th June

Last night we went for dinner at Klondike Kates restaurant in Whitehorse. We are told it’s the best restaurant in town, but I’m slightly disinclined to agree with that. The food was nice, and the service was friendly, but it was no better than anywhere else we ate. In fact, other places were more fun and enjoyable. I don’t know whether it was entirely down to the atmosphere inside, and in my opinion, some of the other restaurants are better.

After we’d eaten, we went for a walk that someone in the hotel had recommended. To get to the walk, you have to cross over the river on the ferry, oh, and it’s a really easy walk.

The ferry comes and goes as there are people to use it, so if you wait there, they’ll come and get you, which is neat. We crossed over as foot passengers on the ferry, which takes about 10 minutes once you set off. Also, here ferry guys though – we watched this ferry go across so many times and not once did they make a single mistake. I swear they actually must be Gods or something… because it was genuinely impressive!

Once you come off the ferry and walk up the road, to get to the walk you need to take the first left into the campground. Keep walking through the campground until you see a yellow gate (a 10 or 15 minutes’ walk). Head through the yellow gate and down towards the beach – on your left-hand side there will be a break in the trees and you can cross a stream over a little bridge and you’ll be walking next to the river.

Across the river, you can look at the hills and keep your eyes peeled for some wildlife! Obviously we saw a grand total of nothing, in-keeping with the rest of the holiday.

As you walk along, you’ll come to some steamboat wrecks on your left. These were left here at the end of the gold-rush when they were no longer needed (they were beached on the banks of the river and have been left there).

These are pretty cool to look at – there are a few of them there at different stages of dilapidation – the ones further back are in better condition. I went for a bit of an investigate and wandered round the back and climbed up on top of one of them to have a look.

The sunset is beaut here, coupled with the fact that it never really gets dark (it was 20 hours of sunshine when I was there), so you can still walk around happily at 10/11 o’clock at night.

The next morning we went across on the ferry again, but this time by car. We wanted to drive up the Top of the World Highway and take a photo of ourselves next to the sign… so we drive for a while and didn’t find the sign, and we drove for a while more and didn’t find the sign… turns out the sign is no longer there… so we drove a LONG while for literally no reason! But, we did find some snow, so that was a win, kinda.

I took the opportunity to stake my claim on the snow, with a classic year 8 ‘Bonnie was here’. Do not judge me…

And a couple of people threw some snowballs at me… Hmpf… bullies!

We popped to Sourdough Joe’s for dins – FYI no sourdough is served here, despite the name. The food was yummay here and IMO it’s the best restaurant in Dawson City. It’s got a chilled vibe and it’s a bit of fun, making for a very enjoyable dinner.

After that we headed back to the hotel and popped into the bar. They have a guy who plays some tunes at the piano each night from 7 until 9, and I have never seen a man enjoy playing the piano more than this guy does.

Some jaunty tunes, a couple of Yukon Gold’s later and some money in the tip jar, made for a great end to the evening.

Bonnie

It’s Mine Time

8th June

Breakfast was calling me, and Riverwest Bistro answered with a breakfast burrito. If you’re looking for places to eat in Dawson City, Riverwest Bistro has plenty of options. It’s a bit of a diner joint and it’s by no means upmarket, but the coffee was fresh, and the food was good, so you’ll have no complaints from me.

We went for a mooch about the town, stopping off in the Northwest Territories Visitor Centre. This place was really good, the lady working there (Dawn) was incredibly informative and hugely knowledgeable – it’s worth popping in there if you need some information about the drive up the Dempster Highway.

Whilst we were in there, we got to talking and she mentioned that there were some cyclists heading up the same way as us who needed a food package dropped off, as it was too heavy for them to carry with them. We offered to take their food package up with us, and feeling like exceedingly good citizens, we headed off with the food package (which turned out to be pretty damn heavy after you have been carrying it for 20 minutes). I can only imagine they were concealing bricks in their food package for some unknown reason.

To fill up our afternoon, we booked ourselves onto a goldmining tour. We had wanted to go on a trip with a native guy in a boat, but he was all booked up – so that was a no go. A shame, to be honest, because we’d been recommended this in the visitors centre and they seemed genuinely excited about it, so we were a bit disappointed, but you can’t have everything. We chose a tour with Goldbottom Mine Tours, departing at 1.30. I have to be honest, I wasn’t bowled over by this tour – I think it was lacking a little something. However, I do think you should go on a gold mining tour whilst you are here. Gold mining is the entire reason this town exists and it’s worth getting to know a bit about it, and the tour was still enjoyable, even if it wasn’t outstanding.

I’ll tell you a little bit about what goes down during the tour. You start off outside the tour office and head up the road to the Goldbottom Mine site (it’s a bit of a bumpy ride). Whilst you’re travelling, the guide talks about the mining history of the area before you stop off at the site and switch your shoes for wellies. The tour guide takes you for a look around the old house there, which is full of cool artefacts and has been done out to look like it would have back in the day.

You head up to a mining site which is in use at the moment and if you are lucky, you’ll get to talk to one of the guys who is mining there. We spoke to a guy named Dale, who told us about the machinery he was using and how much gold he was extracting on a daily basis – this was by far and away the best bit of the tour.

After that we headed back to the Goldbottom Mine site and he showed us how you separate the gold you have panned for from the black sand and other bits and pieces you end up with. This was interesting, and apart from the rude American woman basically rugby tackling me in a bid to get a photo, went off without a hitch. Once we were done with that, the tour guide showed us a huge nugget of gold which one of the people who owned the mine had found.

Here the rude American lady saga continues. We’re standing listening to the guy explaining about the nugget and she’s standing behind me, and I can feel her touching my hair. I pass it off as an accident and continue listening. Then she touches my hair again… Now I know this clearly is no accident, like, she’s kind of tugging on it – does she really think I can’t feel this? Hey, rude American lady – that’s actually attached to my head you know!!!!! CREEP. I end up having to move because I can’t actually address this out loud in front of all these people. The funny thing is, I’m pretty used to people touching my hair; people ALWAYS touch my hair. But, it’s usually accompanied by a verbalisation of the hair touching intentions, such as, ‘isn’t your hair long’, or, ‘isn’t your hair a pretty colour’. One does not simply touch another person’s hair in creepy silence. So, I placed myself out of reach of silent hair stroker and pretended it never happened.

Now it was time for panning for gold! This is where I came slightly unstuck, as I didn’t really know what I was doing and the man just kind of left you to it. I think they could do with working on this section of the tour, as I wasn’t the only one who found this frustrating. Eventually he came back and explained, but I was already miffed by this point, so I enjoyed it less than I wanted to. Also, Goldbottom Mine Tours, if you’re listening, a hot drink and a snack wouldn’t go amiss at some point in the tour. Whilst we are getting sorted with our wellies, it would be easy to sort out some tea and coffee and a biscuit, which I know would be appreciated by your tourists. Oh, and if you could weed out the hair strokers beforehand, that would be GREAT.

Bonnie

The Road to Dawson City (which is not a City)

7th June

Back to the Burnt Toast Café, Whitehorse for some breakfast before the next leg of the journey. The girl serving was rushed off her feet – they were busy yesterday at lunchtime, but this was something else – they definitely need to get someone else in to help! There was a bit of a wait for food and people just kept on coming in (clearly this is the place to be! Either that, or there’s not really anywhere else to go, or a combo of the two). Anyway, the wait was well worth it, because the food was delicious. I had the Breakfast Sandwich, which consisted of a bun, filled with an egg, bacon, tomato and spinach, accompanied by hash browns (fried potatoes). BEYOND SCRUMMY!! And just the right thing to stave off the hunger on a 7-hour trip to Dawson City.

We hit the road, heading in the direction of Dawson City. The drive from Whitehorse to Dawson City is a long old drive (about 530 kilometres) and it takes a while, especially when you aren’t used to the gravel road and you’re on the lookout for wildlife. We saw precisely nothing the whole way, despite someone having seen 10 bears the day before. There are campgrounds along the way, and they are always nicely located. We stopped at one on a lake, which was really pretty – and they are always a good comfort stop as well – there really aren’t that many places to stop for a wee!

Ooh, so there’s this place you HAVE to stop at if you are driving from Whitehorse to Dawson City, it’s called Braeburn Lodge (located on mile 55 o the Klondike Highway).

You have to stop here because they do these GIANT cinnamon buns. When I say GIANT, I am not over exaggerating – they are literally the size of your face and so frickin’ tasty as well. There is no way you can drive past this place without stopping. It’s so out of the way that you get Carnation Evaporated milk with your coffee!

If you go to the loo, you’ll see people have decorated the back of the toilet door with graffiti (obviously I can only speak for the ladies’ loos here – I can’t say for the men’s – and I’m certainly not brave enough to go in there and check for you). But anyway, people are telling you what their names are, when they came and where they are going from and to. The one which stood out to me most, however, was one which read ‘7/10 would poo here again 2017’. That speaks to me, in a serious way.

Stop off at the Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site – there’s a nice trail here which goes down a set of steps first, then travels upwards. You get a great view of the Yukon river here, where there’s a tiny island with some nesting birds atop it. To walk to the top of the trail and back would take less and an hour, I’d say about 45 minutes… I took it upon myself to run it, so it didn’t take me very long (all that pent-up energy again).

We get to Dawson City in the afternoon; it took us about 7 hours to get up here in total. 7 hours on the road and we didn’t see a SINGLE animal, not even one! This was all kinds of disappointing, especially considering we’d heard about a guy who had seen 10 bears the day before – I think we were almost expecting them to be lined up along the highway with a welcome banner. They were not.

Dawson City looks like a cowboy town. I don’t know what I was expecting from the name ‘Dawson City’, but this wasn’t it. I think this place has definitely been named in jest, because a City this is certainly not. All the facades are wooden clad and painted in bright colours, it’s right on the river and it looks super cute.

To be honest though, at that point I was so tired from all the driving that I hardly knew my arse from my elbow. We were staying at the Downtown Hotel in Whitehorse, as hotels in Whitehorse go, it was good. Good Wi-Fi, coffee machine and clean and comfy. Oh, and it has swinging saloon doors on the front, so if that doesn’t persuade you to stay here, nothing will. I elected to skip dinner (a bit of a first for me) and headed straight to bed. Needless to say, I woke up beyond hungry and wondering why on earth I had elected to miss a meal.

Bonnie

On the way to Whitehorse

Today is the day we go to Whitehorse! This is where the holiday bit of the holiday begins. As nice as it is, when you’re with family, it’s not the same as actually being on holiday. This is where we’re beginning our journey up through the Arctic circle and all the way to Tuk, so I can paddle in the Arctic ocean. Woohoo!!

Having got up at ridiculous o’clock (turns out you can still screech to a halt at red lights when there’s no traffic on the road) and arrived at the airport and made it through security, I was on the hunt for some breakfast. After having a wander round the available options, something caught my eye – something I thought too good to be true… FRUIT SALAD!! Never have I enjoyed a plastic cup full of fruit, in an airport, so much in my entire life. Honestly, I could feel the threat of scurvy leaving my body and I felt as if I could conquer the world. It really is amazing how much of a difference vitamin C makes to your existence.

We jumped on a prop plane and flew a couple of hours to Whitehorse. I was sat next to a guy who was backpacking… Well, I don’t actually know if he was a backpacker, but he certainly smelled like he was backpacking (unwashed clothes have such a distinctive smell). Safely arrived, we picked up our car from Go North Car & RV Rental. There aren’t many options when it comes to car rental in Whitehorse and the reason we used them was because they were the only rental company that would give us a full size spare tyre. Why is this important? Well, most of the roads we would be driving on are going to be ‘all weather roads’, which essentially means gravel and potholes. Services are few and far between, so if you get a flat, you aren’t going to get to the next spot with a donut tyre.

Once we get there, we check in at our hotel: Town and Mountain Hotel, Whitehorse. Again, there aren’t a tonne of options when it comes to places to stay in Whitehorse, but it was clean, so no complaints (and there was decent Wi-Fi)! Oh, quick thing – all hotels here look like they were built in the 70s and haven’t changed since, and that would be because they WERE built in the 70s and HAVEN’T changed since. All the artex and chintzy bedspreads you could wish for.

I’m properly rav by now, so we head out to find some lunch. We come by a place called the Burnt Toast Café and liking the look of it, head in. The walls are black and there’s rock music pumping out of the door, based on that, the food has got to be tasty, right? And I was right [insert drooly emoji here].

To continue staving off scurvy, I opted for a salad – but to be honest, the whole menu sounded DELICIOUS and based on everyone else’s food I saw coming out, it looked it too. I had the Gnarly Barley salad, which came with goats’ cheese and a maple and balsamic dressing; I can’t even begin to explain how yummy it was.

We went for a mooch around the town and had a look the gift shops… I’m still waiting for something to jump out at me to buy, I’ve not seen anything which speaks to me yet. We were looking for something to do for the rest of the afternoon; having read about the Takhini hot springs, we decided we’d give that a try. We got beyond lost trying to get there and ended up having to stop and ask someone. Let’s just say, that signage in Canada seems to be pretty much non-existent, rendering it nigh on impossible to locate anything if you don’t know where it is (much driving around was done).

Eventually we located it (FYI it’s further away than you think it is) and went for a dip. It cost $12 to get into the Tahkini Hot Springs and I think it’s worth it. There are two different hot pools at Takhini; one warm one and one hot one. It’s not glam here, but it’s relaxing and out in the open with a nice view. It would be amazing here in the ice and snow and they even have a ‘best frozen hair’ competition… I may be returning… To make it even more enjoyable there was a cute little chipmunk hanging around at the side of the pool having a snack. They are SO cute, AND it didn’t run away as I splashed over in its direction to stare at it (if only people were like that too).

After a hard day of lounging, it was time for dinner – turns out you can work up quite an appetite doing 100% of nothing. There was only one other place which stood out to eat: Klondike Rib and Salmon.

It’s hella popular and you can’t book – so there might be a bit of a wait, but that’s good – a wait means people love it! I had the special, which was 2 salmon skewers, a half rack of ribs, focaccia, garlic mash and roasted vegetables.

It was SO yummy, and SO much food; more food than a human should consume, I’m sure (of course, I ate it all). It’s fun in there, it’s a laugh and it’s bustling and busy, accompanied with great food – what’s not to like? If you’re looking for places to eat in Whitehorse, this is the one.

Bonnie

R.I.P Dungarees: Squamish and Horseshoe Bay

4th June

Today we headed up to Squamish and Horseshoe Bay; a couple of hours outside of Vancouver. It’s a pretty drive once you get out of Vancouver and get past all the red lights and stop signs available to screech to a halt at. I do so love coming to a smooth stop – I’m really starting to miss it… Anyway, we stopped off at Shannon Falls on our way up. You can walk up the trail here and you come to a pretty waterfall. There are a few steps to go up, but it’s not too tricky. It took us about 30 minutes to walk up, take a few photos and come back down. There are two levels on the Shannon Falls trail – the first gives you a view of the whole waterfall from the front, the second (a bit further up) gives you a more side on view, so you can see the torrent of water coming down.

I had some pent-up energy (on account of having done precisely no exercise since the last week) so I took a little jog up the steps… That certainly relieved me of all that pent-up energy.

We carried on our journey to Squamish. There isn’t a tonne of stuff in Squamish; it’s more about the journey to be honest, but there are some nice gift shops with some native art in them and some places to grab a coffee and a bit to eat. We stopped for lunch at a little place called Green Olive Market and Café, run by a husband and wife. I opted for a Greek salad for the following reasons A) Who doesn’t love a Greek salad? And B) I was starting to worry I was getting scurvy because they don’t seem to eat vegetables in Canada.

On our way to Horseshoe Bay from Squamish, we pulled in at Porteau Cove. As the name suggests, it’s a cove (who’d have guessed it). It’s got loads of drift wood which is well worth a climb over – I managed to get pretty far without having to touch the ground and without falling off. I hear balance is key here.

It’s really pretty here, with the water in the foreground and the mountains in the background and it’s so peaceful as well. It’s also got a campground there (Porteau Cove Provincial Park Campground), and if you were camping it would be a great place to stay I think.

I had a bit of an incident on the beach here at Porteau Cove. We’d walked down to the water to see how cold it was (pretty cold) and whilst we were down there, my mum asked me if I would show her how to do a squat – she’s thinking about working on her fitness and strength, you see. Now, I don’t profess to be a professional squatter or anything, but I definitely do them and I have done them in the gym as well, so that’s as close as you can get to professional in my eyes. So, I give her a quick demo on how to squat.

To show off my best squatting form, I prepare, get my feet in the right position and lower myself into a properly deep squat – I’m talking more than 90 degrees here. I regret this, and I’ll tell you for why. When I lowered myself in to the deepest of all squats, a thing happened. The thing that happened, was that I split my dungarees… My FAVOURITE dungarees [insert anguished emoji here]. As a cool breeze caressed my right buttock, I can only describe myself as entirely forlorn. I’m trying to look over my shoulder to see said split. I can’t see it, but I know it’s there – I heard it go and I can feel a certain chill overcoming my arse. Fortunately, I’m wearing a jacket which covers the split, which is a small mercy. Dejected, I head back to the car and I even sit in the front (a major risk to life), which I think shows the true extent of my pain. R.I.P dungarees – R.I.P… Rip… You get it? See, I’m funny even when I’m broken hearted.

We arrive at Horseshoe Bay, which again, is really pretty. We take a look round a souvenir shop and have a bit of a wander, trying to work up an appetite for dinner. We sit on the pier for a bit and watch some Amish people larking around in a group. They are all young – I’d say 25 and under. Whilst I am questioning the combination of ankle length, pink, floral dress and walking boots, one of the men wanders by, carrying a rather fetching replica Gucci handbag. I’m assuming it was his partners handbag, but I think it would be rather more fun if it was his, don’t you?

We went to Trolls for dinner. People seem to rave about it, so we thought we would give it a go. They are famous for their battered salmon, so I was after giving that a try, but they were fresh out of it, so that was a no go. I opted for cod, as the only other fish option was halibut and I wasn’t feeling that.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t bad by any means, it was tasty for sure, but I’m not sure it’s deserving of the reputation it has. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, but I’d imagine it’s something along the lines of not believing everything you hear.

Bonnie

Babies in bikinis: bore off!

Why? Why??? WHY??? Why would you put your child in a bikini? Perhaps I’m missing something, but I really don’t understand it. Last time I checked, 4-year-olds didn’t have cleavage to show off or a tan to get, so what’s up wid dis? Please, someone explain it to me. I’m flippin’ the bird to baby bikinis. I’m giving the finger to feckless swimwear attitudes. And, to add to that, I hate anyone who puts their baby in one, y’all are not ma people.

It annoys me, I’m not going to lie. In fact, I find it very annoying. V annoyeaux. To the point where I get a rage on at the pool and ruins my swim. This probably makes me sound like I foam at the mouth in the pool and mutter obscenities under my breath (which I basically do), and I’ll explain why.

They look ridiculous, actually, properly ridiculous. Tiny children wearing grown up clothes, looks ridiculous. Miniature adults – no one needs that in their life. It’s just like when people put makeup on their kids or put them in heels and a skimpy dress; it actually makes me gag, its horrifying. Why does anyone want a 5-year-old to look like a 35-year-old? It’s beyond me, it honestly is.

Why are bikinis for year 3’s even being made? Whoever is making them should be removed from the swimwear industry forthwith. Not only do they look ridic, they are entirely impractical, and you know it. They are impractical for adults, let alone children. Tiny children have nothing to anchor a bikini down and hell inevitably ensues.

They jump I the pool and their tops come off – I couldn’t count how many kids I’ve seen with a bikini top round their neck because its ridden up when they’ve jumped in the pool. They dive in, and their bottoms come off, and parents are spending all their time pulling up bikini bottoms and stopping their kids from being throttled by their own swimwear. Why put children in clothes that come off as soon as they are in contact with the water? Why cause yourself this hassle? If they were in a swimsuit, none of this would have happened. There would be no strangulation and no accidental bare bums and you could all actually enjoy your swimming. Imagine that!

I don’t feel like the process of having to yank your swimwear around is enjoyable for a child. We know it isn’t enjoyable for adults, so it’s going to be less enjoyable for children, surely? I reckon kids wanna have fun in the pool, without having to worry about their bikini coming of when they are trying to wriggle into a rubber ring, don’t you?

Please, do me a favour, and just go for the swimsuit next time. A one-piece, a simple one-piece. Poolside doesn’t need to look like the swimsuit round of Miniature Miss World. Ease my pain and enable me to have a stress-free swim on a Monday and Friday aft. Stop forcing me into blind rage over kiddie swimwear. You don’t know the trouble you cause me, do you? Well, I guess you do now…

Bonnie

 

Oh snow, how I love you so

Snow today! Snow, snow, snow snow! Not gonna lie, I was praying for a snow storm all day I could go home, and I bet you were too, weren’t you? I know you were, so that question is mighty irrelevant.

I know people love to moan about the snow, but it’s really not that hard to deal with. If you can go out in it, go out in it, and if you can’t, you can’t – so stop stressin’ people. In fact, let it snow so much that the whole country comes to a grinding halt and we can just stay at home and have snowball fights in the street. And I don’t mean the kind of ‘grinding halt’ where a few trains are cancelled and delayed and we all feel like we are living in the war… I mean COMPLETE GRINDING HALT. How wonderful would that be? It would be wonderfully wonderful unless you are one of those people who hates having a free day off (weirdos).

Before I went to work I took a shameless selfie of me in the garden wearing my teddy bear hat – you can’t pass up a snow selfie, it’s not like it snows every day is it?!

I made it to work with limited trouble this morning, apart from a slightly dramatic slide over a hidden mini roundabout, which I found terribly fun despite the clear risk to life on the completely empty street. I did have a real life near death experience when I got to the car park however. I got out of the car in all the snow related regalia (teddy hat and mittens), threw my rucksack over my shoulder and started heading towards the stairs. I walked over painted white line, sneakily concealed by the snow. As my boot made contact with the hidden line, my right foot shot out in front of me. I had no control. All control was lost. I was now in some sort of lunging situation in the car park, which was embarrassing in itself, as I am certainly no seasoned lunger. I could feel the strain on my right leg. The muscles in my right thigh were screaming, and I could feel intense pressure on my knee.

Mitz

If someone came now, it would possibly be too mortifying for words, and I probably wouldn’t be able to make it through the door to work and show my face. It wouldn’t be long before someone else comes into the car park and sees me in this horrifying display of lunge. No one shall see this! No one! With Herculean effort, I managed to get my right leg back under the power of my being. I willed it back from the point of no return, to the point of safety under my body. How I did this, I will never know. It was touch and go for a while there. I saved myself from the full fall – a slip is more than enough to shit you up.

Bonnie

Sorry, and some other things

URGH!! I’m sorry I’ve posted a grand total of nothing in the last few months. I’m sorry, but it simply has not been possible, I’ve had loads on. On the other hand, I’ve also has like minus 10 motivation. So, there it is, I’ve been honest with you and I am sorry, but such is life. Some days one has the motivation, some days one doesn’t. Some days, one refers to oneself as “one”.

Anyway, I’ve had loads on at work and I’m in the process of trying to own an abode. Which is a distinctly long and dreary process. It’s also stressful, because you have no idea what any of the words mean that people are saying to you, and because you don’t want to sound like a complete idiot, you nod along knowingly when estate agents are talking to you about square footage and the like, whilst secretly having precisely no idea what any of this means. What does a square foot look like? I have no idea. Each time I try and envisage said square foot, all I end up doing is picturing a particularly square foot. Why does my brain do this to me? Sigh.

What I am trying to say here, in a roundabout way, is that I have been very busy with other things and my mind has been very busy with other things. This has resulted in me not really having time for other things, or space for other things in my brain, for that matter. But I’m back now and that’s all we really need to worry about, isn’t it? You’ll have missed me, of course you will, but I’m here now and you don’t need to worry any longer. Your mind may rest. It may rest assured, that for at least another few months I will be here. And if I am not here, you will at least know I am trying my best to be here, even if I am failing to achieve that. That will be a comfort to you, I’m sure.

Also, I’m writing a book! I’m not 100% sure what it is about yet, or where it is going or if I will finish it, or if I will really start it in all honesty. But I have some words on a page and I can now say I am writing a book, which makes me sound a lot more impressive than I actually am. AND it gives me something else to talk about, other than the usual nonsensical rubbish I usually talk about, so we can all be glad about that, can’t we?

Bonnie

Christmas Recipes: Gluten Free Mince Pies

Gluten free is becoming more and more popular. Some people are going GF as a dietary choice or to have something to hashtag on Insta, and some people are actually real gluten free-ers. I’ve a mate who is a real gluten free-er, and she was saying she hadn’t appreciated mince pies enough before she had had to stop eating anything with gluten in it, so that got me thinking. Surely gluten free pastry can’t be that difficult to make, can it?! Plus, I’ve just made more than enough mincemeat to feed an army, so I need to do something with it. You can find my recipe for homemade mincemeat here on my blog, it’s so yummy and it will beat any shop bought version hands down, and it’s simple to make too.

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So, I got Googling and I found a few recipes for gluten free shortcrust pastry. They were all much of a muchness, with xanthan gum cropping up in all the recipes I read through. I got some gluten free flour, which, by the way, is the weirdest thing to touch ever; it feels like cornflour when you touch it and it made my insides feel uncomfortable when I was rubbing it into the butter.

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In the end, I decided to follow the gluten free shortcrust pastry recipe from the Tesco website, and you can view the original here. The reason I chose this one was because it got 5 stars, whereas others had got 4.2’s and the like. Moi being moi, I changed the recipe a little bit, as you know, I find it impossible to follow a recipe to a letter. I added some lemon zest to the pastry because no Christmas recipe is complete without some sort of zest.

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I like a mini mince pie, and for multiple reasons; they look super cute, people will be really impressed at their miniatureness and you can have more than one and not even feel remotely guilty about it.

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Ingredients:

  • 225g gluten free white flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 110g cold butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg

 

Method:

  1. Weigh the flour into a large bowl and add the salt, xanthan gum and sugar.
  2. Tip in the butter and, using your fingers, rub the butter and flour mixture together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the egg and combine until you have a smooth ball of pastry. If the mixture is dry and crumbly, add a teaspoon of water at a time until your pastry forms a smooth ball.
  4. Wrap your pastry in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 170°
  6. Flour your surface (making sure you use your gluten free flour) and roll out the pastry until it’s about the thickness of a £1 coin. As I was making mini ones, I rolled it out even thinner than this, but for a normal sized pie, the thickness of a £1 coin will be about right.
  7. Grease the pie tin you are going to be using, and cut out rounds of pastry and press them evenly into the tins.
  8. Place a spoonful of mincemeat into the pastry. For my mini ones, I used a teaspoonful of mincemeat. For larger ones, it will be about a dessertspoonful.
  9. Cut out the stars to top your mince pies, and place them on top, pressing them down slightly to secure them.
  10. Brush the tops of the mince pies with a splash of milk to give them a bit of a sheen and place them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown.
  11. Leave them to cool for a bit in the tin and then remove them to a rack to cool completely. Dust them with some icing sugar before you serve them, and I promise, everyone will have more than one!

 

I found it was a little difficult to handle the gluten free pastry in the beginning; it was cracking when I was trying to put it in the tin. After I’d kneaded it a bit more and re-rolled, I found it much easier to handle – so, I would suggest giving it a little bit more of a knead than you would your usual pastry, before you start rolling it out. I shaped the pastry slightly before I pushed it into the moulds, to try an combat a bit of the cracking – which worked quite well.

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You could put proper tops on the top of your pies if you wanted, but I prefer the stars. This is mainly because I can never manage to keep the mincemeat inside the pies when they have a lid on, and it always seems to sort of explode everywhere and look like a complete brown car crash on the plate (yuck). The stars resolve that issue, and they look nice and festive as well.

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If you make them, I’d love to hear how they go!

 

Bonnie

Christmas Recipes: Mincemeat

We love this mincemeat at home – it beats any mincemeat in a jar, absolutely hands down. It’s beyond tasty, and the nice big chunks of fruit and almonds in the mix make it even better. Plus, there is no suet in this mincemeat recipe, so its suitable for vegetarians and you don’t have to eat chunks of actual animal fat – winner! This is also the only recipe I have seen with cranberries in, and I can tell you; they make all the difference.

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I’ve found dried cranberries to sometimes be tricky to get a hold of. You should be fine over the Christmas period, but they aren’t standard stock in some of the smaller shops, so you are best going to something like a Tesco Extra (other stores are available, teehee). Oh, and make sure you have some jars to store your mincemeat in. We always have tonnes of empty jam jars hanging around in the cupboard, but this recipe will fill 4 jam jars, so make sure you have enough!

it’s so simple to make, all you do is add all the ingredients to the pan and cook it for 10 minutes once the butter has melted – it is genuinely that simple. I made the fatal error of not selecting a late enough pan, so I had to tip the mixture into a bigger pan. I wonder if this ever happens to Mary Berry? I doubt it, she is too good to make such rookie errors.

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Overflowing pan 

I doubled up this recipe because we make lots of mince pies in the run up to Christmas and we keep making them after Christmas as well! Plus, we had so much dried fruit in the house, it wasn’t all fitting in the tin, so I used this as an excuse to get rid of a fair few bags of the stuff. This recipe is from Mary Berry (gotta love Maz), and the original recipe is here if you want to take a look at it. It’s pretty close to Maz’s original, but I can never leave a recipe untouched, so there are some small changes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 175g currants
  • 175g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g dried cranberries
  • 100g chopped mixed peel
  • 1 small cooking apple
  • 125g butter, cubed
  • 50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 200ml brandy

 

Method:

  1. Peel and core the apple, then chop into small chunks – about the same size as the sultanas.
  2. Measure all the ingredients (apart from the brandy) into a large pan and heat gently, until all the butter has melted.
  3. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, then leave to cool.
  4. Once the mixture is cool, stir in the brandy.
  5. Spoon your mincemeat into sterilised jars and you are good to go!

 

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Glistening and gleaming 

When you stir in the brandy, you’ll probably think it looks like a lot – but trust me, it’s just the right amount. If you don’t have any brandy, you can use either sherry or rum, they work just as well, but will give a different flavour.

This mincemeat keeps forever; we still have some in the cupboard from last year. The combination of the butter and booze allows it to keep well. You can make it well in advance if you are one of those people who is very organised and prepared (I am not, as you may be aware).

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The finished articles 

Bonnie

Make your own Christmas wreath – I did!

Each year I make my own Christmas wreath to hang on our front door. There are tonnes of beautiful wreaths out there to buy, but I always find they are a bit expensive and they are never quite how you want them to be. Plus, I enjoy making my own one and I get a lot of pleasure out of making a gorgeous wreath for everyone to see when they come to the door. You might have found the thought of making your own Christmas wreath a bit daunting, but I promise, if I can do it, anyone can! The main point here, is that you have fun with it, and I’m a fan of anything which looks rustic at Christmas anyway.

I have been doing this for a while now, so I have all the bits I need, but there are a couple of things you will need to buy before you get started:

  • Wreath ring; the one I have is 20 inches across, but it will depend how big your door is as to what size you will need. Take a look at the one I have from Amazon, here.
  • Binding wire; this is the wire florists use to make their arrangements. I tend to go for wire like this, it’s dark so you can’t see it.
  • Wreath hook; trying to hang thig on the front of your door with a piece of string will be a complete nightmare (I promise, I tried) so a wreath hook like this is what it’s all about.

It’s important to have an idea of the kind of look you want to achieve before-hand. You need to think about the kind of foliage you are going to use and how you are going to decorate it. I tend to keep mine pretty simple, but you can add as much to it as you like.

Here are a few photos of ideas I have seen online that I think are super cute:

I mostly use ivy in my wreath, and there are a couple of reasons for this. One being that our garden is full of it, so I don’t have to go trekking high and low to find it. I also really like the different colours in the ivy and the different sizes of leaves – this helps it hang nicely on your wreath ring. It’s also very easy to work with as it’s so bendy and flexible.

I decorated it with a red bow made out of a length of red ribbon and some pinecones. I used to use holly when I first started doing this, but we have a door knocker instead of a bell and I got a few complaints about people being speared in the hand when they tried to knock on the door (all part of the fun I say).

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you can see the holly issue 

Once you have sourced all your bits and bobs to decorate your wreath with, head out into the cold and cut yourself some foliage. If you want to use bits of Christmas tree; head to your local seller and ask if they have any bits you can use that have been cut off or have fallen off. If you notice a holly tree in someone’s garden, knock on the door and ask if you can cut a sprig or two off the bottom – most people have been more than happy for me to do this in my experience. And you can always rummage around in the garden of friends and family for bits of tree.

The first time you do this, you will have no idea how much you need. But, to give you an idea, I used about 20 lengths of ivy which were about 1 foot or a foot and a half long. I headed out to the garden in my sexy plastic gardening clogs and dressing gown, and released a tree from the clutches of a load of ivy, and headed back inside.

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I cut off some lengths of binding wire, between 2 and 3 inches in length. I make sure I have these ready, as by the time you are grappling with branches and wreath rings, you don’t want to be snipping up bits of wire.

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I start off with some thicker bits of ivy to give myself a bit of a base and some coverage. Plus, it’s easier to wind your wire round these big bits when there is nothing else on your wreath ring. I hold the ivy up to the wreath ring, then bend a length of wire around the ivy and twist the wire together at the back to hold it in place.

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I keep going round and round in circles until my wreath ring is completely covered, and I don’t have any bare patches. At this point I then go and put it on the door. This gives you the opportunity to take a step back and make sure you are happy with your wreath. I often see parts that need a bit more added or a bit taking away. If one bit has too many leaves, you can snip off any you don’t want.

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Once I’m happy, I add my decorations. This year I only wanted to add a couple of pine cones at the bottom and a big bow, but you can add holly, baubles, ribbons, or even some battery-operated lights! The opportunities are endless with your wreath! Last year I used holly, some extra red berries and a little robin (who I couldn’t find this year). I wanted it to look a bit wild and unkempt this year, and I think I achieved that. Next year I am sure it will look completely different and I will be coming at you with something that doesn’t even look remotely similar. If you want to make your own wreath and you do have a go at it, please let me know how it goes!

Bonnie

The 2 Day Hangover

The work Christmas party was on Wednesday. Ohhhhhhhh the work Christmas party was on Wednesday. That was days ago and I am still not okay. Who even knows what happened that night? Not I! I thought I didn’t drink that much… Turns out that was a lie! Christ.

drunk camera man it seems…

I woke up the next morning feeling a bit tired, but that was about all. But, as time went on, I started feeling a bit retchy and my tummy a bit churny. No bother – I’ll just have some water and that will sort me right out. It didn’t. Just a little bit more water, that won’t make me feel sick at all. It did. I’ll just sit here for a moment, next to the loo and I’ll rest my eyes for a bit – I won’t be sick. I was. Hell. HELL. Urgh, but at least I wasn’t sick ON anyone this time, so I’ll take that as a win. I shoved all my stuff into my bag and met the girls downstairs for a spot of breakfast. I kept retching at the breakfast table which was less than glamorous, and I could barely manage half a slice of toast on account of each bite resurfacing in a less than lovely manner.

da outfit – looking pretty Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat 

Dress is from Zara (but I bought it like 6 days ago and obvs it’s already gone from the site) and boots are from ASOS. I do love a boot at a party, because you can wear socks and socks are comfy and I love them. Plus, no one likes chilly toes. But, I digress.

There was a coach taking us back to the office in the morning. I made it down the stairs with a bit of retching along the way and managed to deposit myself on the coach without too much mishap. The coach seemed to go over every bump possible and round every corner as fast as possible. It was like the driver was trying to make me vom as fast as possible. It’s any wonder I didn’t vom all over the girl in the seat in front of me, I would have done as well if she’d carried on shouting over my head. It got so bad that I had to stop talking because I feared that opening my mouth may result in sick coming out of it, and I NEVER stop talking, ever. So, it was bad.

I made it to work without being sick in the coach, but I didn’t last much longer. I stumbled off the coach in a daze, by this time, it was now tipping it down with rain. I grabbed my sodden bag and dragged myself up the steps and into the office. I ditched my crap, threw of my coat and legged it to the loo just in the nick of time. Charging to my favourite cubicle (far right-hand side), I threw myself through the door, locked it behind me and made connection with the cool white ceramic. Ah heaven. As I retched up the half a litre of water I had drunk on the coach I wondered what it was like to feel well. When was the last time I had felt well? Was it when myself and one of the girls had pushed the button for the lift, got in and pushed the button to go one floor up, travelled up, got out of the lift, only to realise we’d stayed on exactly the same floor and we had stumbled out on to the same floor we were just on. However, I don’t think anyone noticed. All they noticed, was us bent double, laughing so much we could barely walk straight. But I’m sure they were all none the wiser as to what had happened.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, that’s right, I was clinging onto the loo. Sicking done, and mouth wash swilled, I headed back out into the office and switched on my laptop. It was then that another wave of nausea hit me and I had to make it swiftish back to the loo. Clinging to the loo again, trying to remember the last time I felt well. Was it when myself and my team were headed to the photo booth? It might have been. We went in there and had a few photos; we all had turkey hats on in one of them (we fondly call that the triple turkey). On the way out, I leant on the wall of the photo booth, only to quickly find out it was an inflatable photo booth which wasn’t at all ready to hold my weight. At that point Ben came running out for a photo, absolutely smashed. We raised this point, at which point he informed us he wasn’t at all drunk, and proved that point by throwing his whole glass of wine over his shoulder.

Photo Booth 1 

Anywhere, where way we? So, I was vomming in the loo, then I went out for a bit of fresh air. I had a bit of a retch out there and I was worried I was going to be sick in the top pocket of my dungarees. At this point, the decision was made by my manager that I should take the rest of the day off. I can tell you now, it was a sorry Uber ride home. I got straight into bed, after drinking about 3 points of water, and slept until 6 pm. I don’t know where all that water went, but it didn’t even generate a wee!! How dehydrated was I?! I struggled downstairs to heat myself some chicken soup (which took me about 3 years to eat) and I was back in bed again. I had more water, but I think had turned into some kind of sponge, because I was still absorbing it.

Photo Booth 2 

I made it to work and planted myself at the desk. Ready for a fruitful days’ work. And then it hit; The Hangover 2. I could barely finish half my breakfast and the retching was happening again. I was slumped down on my desk when it started snowing – I could barely muster half a level of excitement at the arrival of snow. The retching happened again. I managed to force down a sausage roll at lunch time and dragged myself out for a walk with Ellie and Ben. It was freezing. Freezing I tell you. The rest of the day passed in a blur. I’m not sure what happened. Did I do any work? I couldn’t say. I got my emails down from 125 to 70, but I can’t tell you whether that was because I replied to them or because I just kept opening them, reading them and never responding to them. Either way, I’ll take it as a win as I have less emails than when I started.

Photo Booth 3 

Finally, the retching has stopped. But I keep having horrifying flashbacks. Like, flashback to the time when I told this guy that “his name made him sound better looking than he was”. Genuinely horrified at myself. Genuinely horrified. But, at least that is one less person I have to be nice to, because he will just ignore me forever now. And that’s a small win, right? Not really, but I need to put a good spin on this. Sorry bro.

Bonnie

The comfort food cogitation

Does anyone else have comfort food? I know we all eat comfort food to make ourselves feel better (or try to, anyway) but does anyone else have a meal or a snack they turn to, that makes them feel better?

I have two which I turn to in a bid to make myself feel better, and both are equally disgusting or delicious, depending on who you are, and whether you are a gluten free/vegan/plant based diet/thin person. My go-to comfort foods are heavy in the carb department – as all good comfort foods are.

My first comfort food is Marmite pasta; and you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. There’s something about this beige/brown bowlful of food which is incredibly comforting. I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of it, or whether it’s because I link Marmite with childhood, and allowing those Marmitey childhood feelings to resurface makes me feel better. But once I’ve eaten it, feel better I certainly do. Funnily enough, having it in the chipped bowl makes me feet better too. I feel like the chipped bowl gets me, it knows me.

 

If you’re interested, all you do is cook yourself a portion of pasta. Then, over a low heat in a small pan, warm a spoonful of butter and a spoonful of Marmite together and stir to make a sauce. Then pour the salty goodness over your pasta. Tuck in and you will be in heaven, unless you hate Marmite, then in which case, you will be in hell.

My second comfort food is a ravioli in tomato sauce, from a tin. This old chestnut gets carted out when we are in dire straits. When all hope is lost, or I am feeling very unwell, the tinned ravioli never fails to make an appearance. I’m sure a lot of you will think tinned ravioli is truly grim, but again, it has positive childhood connotations and memories for me. I had tinned ravioli for lunch today. I drove past Sainsbury’s on my way back from work and all of a sudden, I needed it.

 

But I’ve gone from using ravioli to make my tummy ache better or my sore throat better, to using it to make my head better, or my mind better. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? I’m not quite sure, I’m not sure if it matters either. There’s something about eating ravioli from a tin, wearing your jim-jams, sitting in your bed, snuggled up in your blankets that gives me a feeling of safety, and safety is akin to comfort, right?

Now I’m thinking about it, I don’t know if these are comfort foods, or more foods that I use to tell people I’m either feeling unhappy, or I’m feeling ill. The second I get the ravioli out my dad goes “that’s when I know you aren’t feeling well”. So, maybe I use these things to signal to those who know me best, that I’m not alright, and I probably need a bit of help. Sometimes I guess I don’t even need help, but I just need someone to ask, “are you okay?”, or “what’s up”. Having someone recognise that you aren’t alright, and to make themselves available for you to not be alright and have a little cry, is what we want really, isn’t it?

These things don’t really make you feel better, but they make you think you feel better. Kind of like a placebo effect, but instead of taking sugar pills, you are eating pasta out of tins. They are creating a reaction inside your brain, and your brain is tricking you into making you feel better or happier for a moment. I’d imagine all of these comfort foods are attached to a nice memory or a nice time in our lives.  As long as they work for you, that’s the main point.

 

So, what is your comfort food? I’d love to know.

 

Bonnie

When is a hill not a hill, and actually a mountain? When it’s Box Hill, that’s when.

We went for a walk up Box Hill this weekend – turns out it isn’t a hill and it’s actually a mountain, but that’s another matter and far be it from me to email the National Trust and ask them if “hill” is really an accurate representation of the facts. But walking up Box Hill is one of the top things to do in Surrey (apparently), and you should do these things at least once, shouldn’t you? It was my turn to drive and I was weirdly nervous about it. I say “weirdly” like I never get nervous about anything and it’s totally out of the ordinary for me to worry unnecessarily about things (it’s not, as you know). But, WEIRDLY I was really nervy about driving and I kept worrying I was going to forget how to do it because that does happen sometimes. I feel this is on account of driving being a learned skill. It’s not like creativity, you can’t forget how to be creative, you are just a creative person. But you can forget how to drive, because you aren’t a car. So there. It’s a thing and it happens and I definitely can’t be the only one this happens to. It probably happens to Lewis Hamilton as well. Probably.

As it turns out, I didn’t forget how to drive and all my driving was impeccable I’d say, and I didn’t struggle too much with the sat-nav and managed to follow it quite capably. I seem to find it hard to have both the verbal directions and the screen directions, and I can’t concentrate with them both and I end up paying zero attention to the road, which isn’t ideal, so I tend to mute the woman and just look at where I am supposed to be going. Also, I don’t really like her telling me what to do and I feel I should be able to make my own decisions, and that by muting her, I am taking back some ownership.

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Wait. Let’s back track for a moment. I said “we” went to Box Hill. “We” as in two people, two people as in a couple and half of this couple isn’t one of my weird selection of friends, for once. The other half of this couple is a real boy! Well, man really, but I am just trying to assure you he is a real person and not a cardboard cut out (he isn’t, I promise), but I’m now worried that I have promised when I didn’t need to and now you don’t believe me. ACK! Oh well, believe what you want, but he’s real, I promise… Christ. Oh, and not only is he real, but he is hella handsome. So step back bitches – he’s mine. Don’t make me hurt you.

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Anywho; we (yasss!!) got to Box Hill in one piece and started on our (yay!!) merry way along the stepping stones walk. Our “merry” way lasted for approximately 6 seconds before the path turned into a treacherous set of steps, slick with mud and the souls of those who had fallen. Seriously, I have slipped about less on an ice rink. The situation was diabolical and I am genuinely surprised I didn’t end up on my arse, caked in mud, next to the skeleton of the last girl who slipped as a result of her inappropriate footwear and never made it out alive. Some of us ended up on our arses, but it wasn’t me… HEH.

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Watching people slip and slide around activated my inner cringe gauge and I genuinely have aching abs from all the internal cringing I was doing, plus all the laughing I was doing at people falling over. I did a lot of laughing. I laughed until my face hurt and I couldn’t really breathe much and I lost the ability to walk (see, the learned skills just escape me).

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We got to the stepping stones and I was silently willing someone to fall in. I know it’s not right to will people to make a fool of themselves, but I genuinely can’t help it and I couldn’t stop my mind urging them to make a fatal error and slip into the water. Alas, no one did, and I know I shouldn’t say it’s a shame, but it’s a shame. I posed for a quick photo on the stepping stones, which turned out to be the only in-focus pic of me from the entire day (thanks hun, the next David Bailey you are not).

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Rocking the nerdy camera-clad look
Finally, we were on firmer ground. To have grass beneath my feet was for the world to be right again. I was living the dream. There was a cute little footbridge, upon which I challenged my masculine company to a game of Pooh sticks. The masculine company didn’t know what that was, so I graciously explained the rules of Pooh sticks to the obvious newcomer to the field, then selected my stick. I released my stick from my grasp, sure that I was going to win (considering I had experience on my side) then dashed over to the other side of the bridge to await my sweet victory. Shit. I lost. Can you even believe I lost? I lost!!!!!!! I hate losing. I’m convinced it was a fix, there is no other explanation. How did he win????????????????

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After the Pooh stick fiasco, we headed on up the hill. Oh wait, not the hill, the mountain, and not just any mountain, it was akin to trekking up Mount Everest. I was half expecting Sherpa Tensing to pop up and offer to carry the bags. If only he had, it may have reduced the amount of sweating that was done. I had to take my coat off half way up. I had to stop and take a photo of some cows, not because I wanted photos of cows, but purely so I had an excuse to catch my breath.

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I give you: cows
I’d got to the point where I couldn’t really get a decent lungful of air. Every breath hurt, and I was 99% sure I was close to a lung collapsing. To our shame, as we got to the top of the hill, we were met by a literal granny, who was bounding up the hill, assisted merely by the arm of a woman I assume to be her daughter. If I can get up a hill with breathing apparatus at that age, I will be impressed, let alone walking unaided – which I struggle with now to be honest.

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photo credit @notdavidbailey
Bonnie

The Malteser reindeer consideration

Why are Malteser reindeer so good? Why? They are other worldly in comparison to other festive chocolate treats. I am convinced they are a gift from the heavens. Nothing this tasty can have been created by one of us mere mortals. These came from a higher being; of that I’ve no doubt. I am surprised they haven’t been depicted in paintings of the birth of Jesus, and I’m equally surprised that they weren’t given at least one mention in the Bible. I’m fairly sure Mary whipped one of these bad boys out of her knapsack whilst she and Joseph were travelling on the donkey.

I’ve done a serious amount of thinking about why they are so damned delicious, and I have come up with a few reasons. These are the kinds of things I think about when I am sitting on the loo, treating myself to a change of scenery for five minutes. I feel my best work is done seated in the cubicle on the far right-hand side of the ground floor ladies’ bathroom at work. Many an epiphany has been had with my back resting against the cistern and my head resting against the loo roll dispenser. Possibly not the most hygienic of places to do great work, but I doubt Einstein would judge my choice. Whatever works for you, right?

I digress; I was supposed to be explaining why Malteser reindeer are the tastiest deer in all the land, and now I shall. Hold onto your hats people, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

  1. Chocolate to filling ratio

In comparison to your average run of the mill Malteser, the reindeer has a distinctly thicker chocolate coating and this makes a huge difference. The thicker chocolate layer protecting the delectable creamy Malteser filling is a deal breaker and a maker. It takes this treat from average to mind blowing in the first bite. Just thinking about taking a bite of one of these bad boys is genuinely causing me issues in the world of excess saliva production.

  1. Reindeer shape

I am 100% sure that when a snack if shaped as something cute, like a little reindeer, it tastes 100,000,000 times better. No lie. There is something inherently enjoyable about decapitating a reindeer in one bite. Also, because it isn’t a uniform shape, there isn’t a strict uniformity in biscuit to chocolate ratio. Every mouthful is different, yet equally enjoyable.

  1. Availability

They are only available once a year. Yes, they get reinvented at Easter to become bunnies, but the scrummy reindeer is only available for a couple of months of the year. The second Halloween is over and the Christmas treat aisle is at full capacity in Tesco, it’s game on. The most wonderful time of the year has begun. You can never over indulge to the point where you will never want another one. They are only around for 8 weeks. That is not enough time to eat so many that you will never want to look one square in the eye again. There is an extended “off season”, where you have 10 months to recover. To forget about their chocolatey goodness, then start to yearn for a taste of sweet reindeer as the weather starts to turn colder and the nights draw in. The once-a-year deer know the game, and they play it oh so well.

 

There is no greater feeling than tearing open the wrapper on the first Malteser reindeer of the season. The scrumptious waft of deliciousness emanates from inside the wrapper. It’s an “eyes closed” moment as you take a bite of your first reindeer of the festive season. This moment is almost akin to love making. The passion I feel for these things is near to unrivalled. Are these better than sex? Well, no, let’s not be entirely ridiculous. These are not better than sex. They come close, I’m not going to lie, but they haven’t quite made it to that level yet. Can the two be combined? Is that a thing that can happen? (if you’re reading this, I think we need to talk, because I’m not sure I’m going to stop thinking about this as an option any time soon). Anyway, they aren’t better, unless you are having terrible sex, in which case they might actually be better than the sex you are having. If that is the case, have more reindeer and that will probably make you feel better about the whole sex thing. And at the very least, you will eat so many that you will feel entirely sick and your “not tonight dear” won’t be a falsity this time.

 

Bonnie

Don’t put a damper on my hamper

One of the guys at work is having a baby. Well, not him obviously, but his wife is. I say obviously, but there was that time when that man had a baby, so you can never be overly sure with these things. Anyway, I digress. I feel like the perfect gift in this situation is always a hamper, it can never not be a hamper. We knew the little one was going to be a girl, so I set about getting a collection going at work to get a few bits to buy them a present. I sent a card around with a ‘collection’ envelope, entitled “Ross is having a baby!”. Someone very helpfully changed my post-it note so it read “Ross’s wife is having a baby!”. Thanks pal, I’m not sure that was necessary, but I’m really glad you did that in your tiny scrawly penmanship. I’m pretty sure everyone knew what was meant, but TY bro. Not.

But whatever, let’s not put a damper on my hamper, because I LOVE choosing presents for people. It’s genuinely one of my fave things to do, and I think I am pretty good at it (most of the time, anyway). I put a fair amount of thought into these things and always try to go for something which they will like and use, rather than it just being your average gift.

So, I always prefer getting lots of little bits and pieces when it comes to a gift, so a hamper is ideal. You can fill it full of cute little bits and bobs, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth if you are on a budget. I had a browse through the likes of Tesco, Boots and Marks and Spencer and here is a list of what I ended up getting:

  • Cotton wool pleat
  • Sterilising tablets
  • Sudocrem
  • Johnsons baby powder
  • Johnsons baby bath
  • Ultra-soft baby wipes
  • 2 bibs
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • Polar bear towel
  • Dress, babygro and tights set
  • Bunny toy



The trick here is to get items of all different sizes and shapes so you can display them nicely in your basket. You need some small items to fill up gaps, some taller items to give you a bit of height and some soft items that you can use to pad out the bottom and drape here and there.

I started by draping the cute little towel over one corner of the basket, and using the rest of the towel to pad out the bottom of the basket so you would be able to see everything once it was all in there. I then spent ages fiddling about trying to display the dress set nicely. I started off by taking the hanger out and draping the outfit over the side, but it looked a bit weird. It looked a bit sad and droopy and I wasn’t a fan of that; it looked like it had given up the ghost. Kind of like when you see someone come out of a bar really drunk and they just “rest for a moment” over someone’s garden wall until 7 in the morning. So, I actually ended up putting the hanger back in and using it to support the dress so it stood up nicely.

After wrestling with the dress for a while, I got it in place and I set about adding the rest of the items in. It was pretty plain sailing from there. I put the cotton wool pleats over the other side to give a bit of height, and then popped in the wipes, the baby powder and the bath stuff. I propped up the sterilising tablets. I propped up the sterilising tablets again. Then I propped them up again, until I lost my patience and quickly shoved in the Sudocrem at the front to support everything.

All I was left with was the bunny, the bibs and the tiny little sockies. I slid the bibs in at the back and arranged the little socks at the front. Lastly was the pink bunny toy. This was harder to position than I had imagined, mainly on account of it being literally the softest toy in the entire world, and wherever I placed it, it just slithered out. I eventually managed to jam its leg behind the bath stuff to anchor it in. I felt a bit sorry for the bunny, but it was being difficult and I feel it deserved what it got in the end.


When we gave it to him, he was so pleased with it. He had such a big smile on his face and I was so happy for that. This is why I like gifts. When you give someone something they weren’t expecting, or something really thoughtful, and they have that look of pure joy on their faces; that’s what gifts are all about. I guess what I am trying to say, is that things don’t have to cost the earth, and it really is the thought that counts.

Bonnie

The one with the birthday bacon

I had quite the weekend of socialising this weekend. On Friday night Claire came round and we made pasta and drank prosecco. Finally, I’ve found two things I am actually good at – drinking prosecco and eating pasta… Perhaps I should have been Italian.


The requirement for a second bottle was unexpected, and we had to emergency chill it in the freezer. There was no space in the freezer, so the peas had to take one for the team and make their new home on the floor, rather than in the bottom drawer of the freezer, but I’m sure they were fine with that, it was so we could have prosecco after all.

One prosecco…
Two prosecco…

Two bottles of prosecco in and an artfully made pesto pasta down, we went out for a couple of cocktails. As we got there, Claire realised she didn’t have her ID and she’d left it at home. We knew we wouldn’t get in without her ID, but it was worth a shot anyway right? You never know! We tried, and as expected we failed. Even offering photos of Claire’s 21st birthday from her camera roll did nothing to sway the bouncer, so off we toddled to give Claire’s boyfriend a call and rectify the ID issue.


We managed to source a drink in another bar where the ID process is distinctly more lax, so we were satisfied for the time being. We used this time to have a goss and a bitch sesh; because what else do girls do over a cocktail? Claire’s ID turned up (thanks Pete) and we were on our way to the bar. We had a couple of drinkies, but to be honest, all we wanted to do was goss, and it was a bit loud in there – so we made our way to a pub where we could bitch to our hearts were content, without having to shout over a Calvin Harris remix.


After what I can only describe as the most disgusting glass of wine I have ever had the misfortune to sling down the hatch (which I didn’t hesitate to mention to the bouncer who was hanging around), we needed another cocktail.

Face says it all

I couldn’t even tell you what we ordered, but it was probably the least tasty cocktail I have ever experienced in my life. We got talking to a table of randoms and managed to palm off our drinks on them, in return for something that was distinctly more to our taste.

#ootd

All of a sudden it was 2am and we were in McDonalds procuring ourselves a chicken legend meal each. The Uber turned up and it wasn’t long before I was getting more chicken legend meal on the seat than I was in my mouth. Apparently, I refused to drink any of my diet coke and Claire was left with more diet coke than anyone can drink and a tip was required to satiate the aggressive Russian Uber driver and stop him from giving her a 1 star rating.

Only acceptable one of the both of us

The next morning, I was suffering, I’m not going to lie. I woke up and tried to get out of bed and I simply couldn’t. There was no way I could get up without vomming, so I had to retreat back under the covers and lay there and question what I was doing with my life until I could slide out of bed and get myself a drink of water. I couldn’t make it all the way to the sink in one go, so I had to have a rest on the loo for a bit and press my cheek against the cool tiles until I recovered enough to make it to the sink and turn the tap on.
It took the whole day to recover, multiple naps and some pop tarts to get me back up and running again. It was Tara’s 21st birthday so there was no way I could cancel, I simply had to go out. I got all dolled up; pink was the theme this evening, so I had a pink skirt on and I went all pink on the eyeshadow front. PINK PINK PINK. I started off lightly and had a diet coke, I was feeling like I needed to ease myself in.


Tara’s mum was practically forcing alcohol down my neck. All of a sudden there was a glass of prosecco in front of me and the thought of drinking it was turning my stomach. But, because I am a trooper, I forced it down the hatch.

The classic “waiting for your mate in the loo” pic

The night went on and we headed into Kingston, to da club. Tara got a tonne of free drinks cos she had that 21st badge on, and I got precisely no free drinks. But, there was a point where she couldn’t drink all the free drinks, so I did end up with a free drink, but it wasn’t intended for me, but I’m not sure that’s the point.

We had a good dance, and I mean a GOOD DANCE. So much so, that by the time we got home we were pretty much sober. We had a cheeky chicken wrap before we started the Uber journey, because basically the entire reason we go on a night out is for the food at the end. We had Imran the Uber driver, and I have to say; genuinely the best Uber driver I have ever experienced in my life. Us and Imran, we put the world to rights, and we even gave him a “compliment” as we exited the vehicle, and I have never given an Uber drive a compliment in my life. You should take that as a compliment in itself Imran.

When we woke up I made Tara a birthday bacon sandwich and put some candles in it.

Cutie! Oh and #notmydad

Because when you don’t have a cake, birthday bacon is probably the next best thing. In fact, I am now starting to wonder why we even bother with birthday cake, and why we don’t just have birthday bacon sandwiches instead.


I think that would be a better way to celebrate. I’m going to make it a thing starting from now. I can see no situation where this wouldn’t be a goer… Unless you were a vegetarian. Or worse, vegan.

 

Bonnie

October Edition: Things that have made me happy this month

There’s a tonne of other things that have made me happy over the last month, but these are just a few of them, and the ones I had photos of to show you. It’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference I think. These are some of the little things. These little things have created some of the biggest smiles this month. I’m not 100% sure why I have decided to post about this, but it has been a really nice post to write and I think I will make it a monthly thing.

I guess it’s because I have been feeling really good this month; way better than I have been feeling at other points during this year, and I thought that was a worthy thing to shout about. Maybe this will inspire some of you others to write about things that have made you happy this month. If it does, then you people pay way too much attention to me 😛

 

My new tiara:

So, a little story behind the tiara. The long and the short of it is, I met this guy on Tinder and we arranged to go on a date. We went to an Italian and I was super nervous (obvs, because I get super nervous about these things), oh, and coupled with the fact that he’s possibly the most beautiful person in the world. It is safe to say my nerves were no longer nerves, and they had escalated into major nerves. I’m not sure if any of the words I was saying were making any sense, but oh wells.

Anyway, he bought me a frickin’ tiara. A frickin’ tiara. A TIARA. Uhm, yes please. Firstly, no one has ever bought me anything on a date ever. Secondly, no one has ever bought me a tiara ever. And thirdly, no one has ever arranged for a tiara to be brought out to me by a waiter on a plate. I want to wear it forever but I don’t want to ruin it. I legit want to wear it to sleep because it is that glorious.


IT’S A TIARRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

 

Excuse the dressing gown

I deleted Tinder:

Tinder is a dick; nuff said. I am so glad to have that little flamey icon gone from my “entertainment” folder. The fact that it was even in that folder shows how little faith I had. I feel like I am slating Tinder, when I actually think it is a kind of good idea. Places like POF where anyone under the sun could message you, I was certainly no fan of. At least with Tinder, you know you are attracted to them and they are attracted to you and it means you don’t have to have those awkward conversations where you basically have to tell people you don’t like their face, but by saying things like “you aren’t my type”. Non-fan of dat. So, byeeeeeeee Tinder and all my matches, I hope life treats you all well. Unless you were a dick, and in that case I hope your lives are merely “fine”.



I got some clothes made smaller:

This was a really nice feeling. I had a few pairs of trousers and a jumpsuit that were way too big for me around the waist, so I took them to the tailors and had them made smaller. They weren’t super expensive or anything like that, but one of my pairs of trousers were pink and I couldn’t give those up, and I had never had a chance to wear my jumpsuit and I think it is pretty fierce, so I want to give it an outing. It was the best feeling to get these taken in, and it proves that going to the gym and eating vegetables rather than pizza, has paid off. Yay!


Boots:

It is autumn, and that means it is boot season. So, I have been busting out the boots at every available opportunity. I seem to be a fan of an ankle boot, and I have accumulated more pairs than I thought I had. Oh, and stacked heels. I am such a fan of a stacked heel, there are no better heels in the world. Stacked, stacked, stacked.

 

This isn’t even nearly all of them

This note:

This little note made me happy. Things like this make my day, if not my week. One of the girls at work always gives me the crusts from her pizza. This might not seem like something to gush over, but I think it is the best thing in the world. Getting someone’s leftover crusts might not seem like a huge thing, but having someone that thinks about you enough to save their food and leave you a little note; they are the best people in the world.

Bonnie

Pumpkin Pie Recipe – perfect way to use up spare Halloween pumpkin

Okay, so I made this and it is pretty damn tasty. It is the perfect way to use up some of your Halloween pumpkin, because let’s be honest, no one ever knows what to do with that. It’s nice and decadent and it’s a bit different from your usual pie fillings. I really like this, and it makes a killer photo with all your pumpkins scattered around.

Exhibit A

It doesn’t take too long to make, maybe an hour and a half all in. It would have taken me an hour and a half if I hadn’t had a major disaster in the middle of it. I had made my pastry case, and I was just getting it out of the oven having blind baked it to perfection, when my entire brain shut down and I dropped the tin on the floor.

Had it been anyone else, I am sure the tin would have sailed straight down and landed on its base with no harm done. But, obviously, that didn’t happen. The tin came crashing down on its side, making a proper racket and causing the cat to hurtle out the cat flap so fast, he nearly took it off its hinges. The perfectly baked pastry case flung out to the left-hand side and plopped unceremoniously into the cats’ water bowl. WTF. There was no saving the pastry case, so I just let it drown until I could bear to begin the clean-up operation.

This recipe is a bit of a mash up of recipes from here, there and everywhere. Plus as bit of my own, because I can never follow a recipe to the tee and I always add or change something. So, enjoy making your pie. Oh, and don’t drop your pastry.


For the pastry:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 150g cold butter
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp water

 

For the filling:

  • 500g pumpkin
  • 1 (400g ish) tin condensed milk
  • 175g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

 

You will need:

  • Medium pan
  • Large bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Blender
  • 23cm deep tart tin
  • Baking beans
  • Whisk

 

Method:

To make the pastry, cut the butter into cubes and add it to a large bowl with the flour and sugar. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and combine until it forms a smooth ball. If the mixture is still too crumbly, add a tablespoon of water to bring it together. Wrap your pastry in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Whilst the pastry is in the fridge, you can make your pumpkin puree that you need for the filling. Cut 500g of pumpkin into small chunks and place in a medium pot. Cover with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.

Drain the water from the pumpkin and using a blender or a stick blender, puree the pumpkin until the lumps have gone. Set this aside to cool down.

Get your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin. Place your pastry in the tin and press the pastry into the tin, making sure you press it into the edges. Put the pastry back in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.

Heat your oven to 180c. Once your pastry has chilled, line the pastry case with foil and pour in your baking beans. Blind bake your pastry case for 15 to 20 minutes, until the case is golden.

Whilst you are blind baking your pastry, you can make your filling. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, condensed milk, sugar, eggs, spices and salt. Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.

Remove your baking beans and foil from the pastry case, and pour in your pumpkin mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is stable and a knife inserted comes out clean.

 

Then enjoy! I left mine to cool most of the way and then cut myself a big old slice and served it with a dollop of crème fraiche. Crème fraiche is a bit more acidic so it goes nicely with the sweetness of the pumpkin and it’s not as luxurious as cream, which I am not a major fan of.  Oh also, it was lactose free crème fraiche, because my body is not a major fan of the whole lactose thing.

Bonnie

I’m having a quarter-life crisis

A quarter-life crisis. Who even knew that was a thing?! Well, it turns out it is, and I am having one. I want to change my job, I want to stop doing stuff, I want to start doing different stuff. I’m not sure what is happening. I thought this was only supposed to happen when you were about 50 and you went out and bought a convertible car and got your nipples pierced. I’m not going to buy a convertible, because quite frankly I can’t afford one, and I’m not going to get my nipples pierced (although I did consider doing so when I was 16).

But this is weird right? Has anyone else experienced the quarter-life crisis? Is it just me? Or is this actually a really normal thing for a 23-year-old to experience? If it is, then I am wondering why I haven’t heard about it before. But here I am, sitting in front of Strictly Come Dancing with my cat, alone on a Saturday night, watching Aston Merrygold do a spooky Halloween themed paso doble, criticising his leg extensions, accompanied by a cup of tea, pretty much questioning my entire life. Maybe this is a mid-life thing? I shouldn’t be so concerned as to whether Anton Du Beke has had a face-lift, should I? No other people my age are worried about things like that, are they?

But anyway, back to my quarter-life crisis. I want to quit my job, mainly because I hate it, but also because I feel like it’s just not creative enough for me. But I also don’t want to quit, because I have no idea what other jobs to look at, let alone actually apply for. Is there anything else I can do? What skills do I have? Will anyone want to employ me? What can I actually do? I genuinely have no idea. Will I be able to make any friends at my fictitious new job? Or will I end up having lunch in my car because no one likes me? Because that is a definite possibility.

I’m in on a Saturday night, looking like a complete crazy cat lady. Sitting in my jim jams on the sofa, blanket tucked around me, with panda eyes so dark, that I’m not even sure I look human anymore, and I may have actually started morphing into a panda. I’m 23 and I am in on a Saturday night. This shouldn’t be happening. Why aren’t I one of those popular people who have a tonne of superficial friends they can call in times like these?

I’d like to learn a new skill. I really want to learn how to sew, like proper sewing with a sewing machine so I can make my own clothes and alter stuff. But when is there time to learn how to sew? I feel like I don’t even have enough time to go to sleep, let alone learn a new skill. There are so many things I want to do and learn and see, but when is there time to do all these things? I can’t do all this, have a social life, go to work, go to the gym, eat and sleep, can I? There is simply not enough time in the day.

Urgh. My mind went spinning out of control so I thought I would go for a nap. I laid there for a bit hoping I would fall asleep. Obviously, I didn’t. What actually happened was I laid there for an hour staring at the ceiling, singing my own version of Calvin Harris’s “Feels”, where I replaced the word “feels” with “ceilings”. I can promise you now, that “don’t be afraid to catch ceilings”, will be top of the charts in the not too distant future.

Anyway, so I haven’t really solved my quarter-life crisis. All I’ve done is watch Strictly, stare at the ceiling and change one word in a song to make it my own. So… yeah, that was my evening. Productive eh?

 

Bonnie

The Weirdo Proposition

Why are people afraid to enjoy things? Why are people so afraid to be passionate about things? I don’t get it. Okay, I kind of do get it. I understand that sometimes people don’t have the self-confidence to be positive and vocal about the things that they enjoy and are happy about. They worry people are going to think they are “sad”, or that they are “losers”, or that these people are going to look down on them because they are interested in more than just Love Island and wine (which are completely legitimate interests by the way).

Well people, I am going to tell you that worrying about liking something and being passionate about it because people might think it is stupid, sad or boring, is completely counter intuitive. It’s completely and utterly counter intuitive. If you are defensive when someone tries to talk to you about something you enjoy, YOU have already decided that you are the loser. Not them, not anyone else, no one but you. You have already made the decision for them – that they are going to find whatever you are talking about boring, or think you are a “weirdo” for liking it. They weren’t thinking you were a weirdo before, but now they are thinking you are a weirdo for shutting down a conversation about something that you like. Have some self-respect here, stop putting yourself down on this one.

If anyone actually says you are a loser for liking something, or tells you that you are weird for liking something, then are they really worth talking to about anything? I doubt it. If they can’t be bothered to have a conversation about the fact that you like trains, or photography, or makeup or whatever, then they aren’t even worth having a conversation with about anything. I think often people are jealous that someone has a passion. They don’t have anything in their lives they are excited about, and you do, and they don’t like that. So, they shut you down by calling you a “loser”, a “weirdo” or sad.

I’ve got to the point where being called a “loser” is almost a compliment to me. It means I am interested in something and you aren’t. It means I have a passion and you don’t. I enjoy my life and all the things in it, and you don’t. You’re jealous. If I had £1 for each time someone had called me one of these words, I would be a millionaire by now. I get called a loser/sad/weirdo on a daily basis. But you know what, that’s actually okay; I’m cool with it. I’m reading a Japanese crime novel which has been translated into English, why’s that so weird? My pen has a unicorn on the top of it, why’s that so odd? My hairband matches my shoes, and apparently that’s weird. These things aren’t weird, but so what if they are?! Yeah Bonnie’s weird – cool story bro… come up with something new already.

 

The definition of weirdo: a person whose dress or behaviour seems strange or eccentric.

Is liking to read strange or eccentric? Don’t think so. Is enjoying black and white films particularly out of the ordinary? Nope.

Let’s take a look at some synonyms for “weirdo”: individualist, nonconformist, free spirit.

In my book, these are all positive words. So, I’m weird and that makes me an individual and that means I am different to you. Well, good! Because I don’t want to be like you if you are horrible to people for being interested in things.

 

I don’t get why we shame people for liking things. Fortunately, I’m not worried enough about people liking what I like, and I don’t mind if people call me a loser. But not everyone is like that. Some people will take it to heart if you say their hobby is “sad”, and they will be afraid to ever mention it to someone again. If you are one of those people who shames people for being into stuff, then stop it. Stop it right now, because it’s the most ridiculous thing, and you saying that is way more telling than someone getting excited about something they are interested in. Like “OMG you are so cool, I love that you just made someone feel really bad about themselves”. Legit get over yourselves. These people are mean, and they don’t have real friends, they are literally just people who hang around with a bunch of people who are scared of them

And, if you are one of those people who stresses when someone says you are “sad”, a “loser” or a “weirdo”, you know what? Chuck it in the fuck it bucket and move on. Tell someone who cares; because lots of people care.

My standard response to someone telling me I am any of these things, is to go “yeah I know”. They never know what to say to that. They aren’t expecting that, they are expecting you to get defensive about it or to go quiet. So, do neither. I propose a new way of thinking, where the people who don’t like anything apart from making you feel bad, are the weirdos.

 

Anyway, rant over, for now at least. Cheesy grins people.

Bonnie

Wronged at the water cooler

I was HANGING at work the other day, not going to lie. I’d been out with some of the work lot the night before and drunk A LOT. Like, really a lot. I didn’t get into work until 9 that morning, and considering I am supposed to start at 7.30, turns out I was a little late. But no matter, we will press on with the day. I was fine, sitting at my desk quite happily, until we got to about 11. This is when everything started to go a bit downhill. I started getting a bit of a shake on and my eyes weren’t focusing on the emails I was pretending I was reading. I needed a break, a few minutes away from my desk – that will sort me right out. Did it fuck.

I went to the kitchen area to get some water from the water cooler, and low and behold there was precisely no water left. I could see there was no water left, but I had to press the button down just in case there happened to be a secret store of water that would mean I didn’t have to change the bottle. But I had no such luck. Not even a drip was relinquished by the water cooler. Urgh.

You aren’t supposed to change the bottle on the water cooler yourself, because it’s heavy and whatever, and you are supposed to call one of the maintenance guys to come and do that. But nobody got time for dat. When you are experiencing the unquenchable thirst, the pain of having to wait for a heavily tattooed Polish man to come and assist you is a no go. Water simply must be had.

So, I did it myself. Normally I’m fine and I switch it over no problem, but today was a different story. I took the empty bottle off the top with minimal trouble, and after a bit of wrestling, I managed to peel the sticker off the bottom of the new water bottle. Here’s where it started going a bit awry. I grabbed hold of the handle of the water bottle and gave it a bit of a lift (testing the water if you will). It was no heavier than usual, so I engaged in the lift and hefted the new bottle off the rack and in the direction of the cooler. It was at this point, that I lost it. All of a sudden, my arms failed me and I seemed incapable of lifting the bottle any higher than my waist. Crap. I really had to engage the core to heft that water bottle into the right position. Clearly, I need to work on my clean and jerk, because this was not happening, and I had visions of me dropping the bottle with an almighty bang and me having to chase a rolling bottle down the corridor.

 

Anyway, somehow I managed to get the bottle into the cooler, and I stood waiting for the water to filter through the system. This can take a bit of time, so I assumed a leaning stance against the counter top, much like a cowboy leans against the bar in a Western, but probably much less cooly. Elaine the cleaner sauntered around the corner and I geared up for our daily chat which consists of one of the following three options.

Option number 1: Elaine proclaiming “Aint it hot in here?!”, when it really isn’t, but obviously I just agree because I am polite and British. I strongly suspect this has something to do with her being “that age” rather than it actually being warm in the office, but we won’t mention that.

Option number 2: Elaine asking if “I’ve much planned for the weekend”. This one usually first rears its ugly head on a Tuesday, when I obviously have nothing planned, and surfaces on a pretty much daily basis until I come up with an answer which satisfies her. I’m not sure I ever satisfy Elaine with my weekend plans, as they usually consist of “nothing much really”.

Option 3: she says something which I have no idea how to respond to. Well, I do know how I would like to respond to it, but I often can’t say what I want to out loud.

Option three is what we came up against on this day. I was standing near the water cooler, having just replenished it with a fresh bottle. Elaine saw me do this, as she reminded me I shouldn’t do this and I should get one of the maintenance blokes to do it. I glossed over this comment, as Elaine and I have discussed this many a time before, and she is well aware of my feelings with regard to waiting for people to do things for me.

As I stood there with my bottle in hand, waiting for the water to filter through so I could fill my bottle with the cool refreshing liquid I had just hailed up there, Elaine did a thing. She did a thing that would change my feelings towards this woman forever. She took a plastic cup from the dispenser. This may seem like a small thing, but the act of removing that plastic cup from the dispenser carries big meaning. But, not only did she take one plastic cups… She took two.

I stood there with a look of fire in my eyes. I knew where this was going. I could tell what was about to happen without her even opening her mouth to utter those words. I was steeling myself for the question; I was staying as calm as possible so as not to flip my lid. Just as I had thought the moment was going to pass, the words came. The dreaded words, “do you mind if I go first?”. The torrent of abusive phrases that swam through my head at that point don’t even bear thinking about. Somehow, I managed to keep my mouth shut, how I did that I will never know.

Through gritted teeth and the most clenched jaw you have ever seen in your life, I uttered the words “sure, not a problem!”. Not a problem? Of course it’s a bloody problem Elaine. Who on Gods earth do you think you are woman? You have quite literally stood there and watched me struggle to begin the process of quenching my thirst. You have unhelpfully reminded me that I shouldn’t be taking action to quench my thirst – which is precisely no help to a thirsty person, and now, NOW, you are going to actually ask me if you can have first go at the water?

You know what Elaine? You know what? Have it. Have all the water. Just go straight ahead. Don’t mind me or anything, you just take what you came for and leave. Don’t worry about the fact that I have gone to a serious amount of effort to get us to this point. Don’t you even bat an eyelid. There are words for people like you in this life. I didn’t want to say it Elaine, and I didn’t want it to come to this. I am ashamed to say that as she pottered back to wherever she came from (hell most likely), that under my breath I uttered the words “liquid larcener” at her back.

Water cooler

The one with the bastard sink

Started the day off with a major hunger on. The fry up called, and I answered. I treated the three of us and cooked breakfast (don’t say I don’t treat you guys).


After that the sink broke a little bit. The pipe underneath the sink appeared to be leaking, and there was rather more water outside of the sink pipes than there should have been. I informed Les of the sink/water situation and he attended the scene. Much swearing ensued, and after calling the sink a “bastard” approximately a thousand times, the issue appeared to be fixed.

It wasn’t. The water was spewing out. The sink was even more of a bastard than it ever was before. Many sodden tea towels later, a rather red in the face Les managed to staunch the flow and fixed the bastard sink. Bastard.

I wanted to go to Bushy Park today, but I felt like I needed to give Les a hand with some gardening before I went out. Seeing as the bastard sink had put him a couple of hours behind, I thought I would oblige and assist him. I donned the gawjus Tesco tracksuit bottoms and the sexy Eminem t-shirt and headed into the wilderness.

It was my job to pull up the carrots and beetroot we were growing. I always think it is an excellent idea to grow things, until you have to look after them and water the plants and weed the earth. My god I HATE weeding. But somehow, some stuff had grown, and there were some healthy-looking beetroot specimens and some things which I was told were carrots.

I was quite pleased with the beetroot, but I am not going to lie – the carrots are shit. Some of them are so short and fat and don’t really resemble carrots. One of them is miniature and would probably win an award for the “longest time growing for nothing” award. One of them looks more like a turnip, and one of them is actually yellow. WTF.

 

Smallest carrot ever

 

Turnip or carrot?
Carrot or parsnip?

I thought I had done my time, but I hadn’t. There was weeding to be done. Oh hell (remember I hate weeding). I did my best, but I am not going to lie, there were a lot of weeds interspersed with actual plants which needed to stay in the ground, so it was pretty hard going. I weeded this bit for approximately 5 hours and hardly made any progress. When I say 5 hours, it was more like 15 minutes, but time takes on a whole new level of slow when you are crouched in the mud pulling up what you are hoping is grass and not a flower.

I finally managed to escape to Bushy Park with Gail. The whole reason I wanted to go was because it was rutting season and all the boy deer would be out doing their thing and showing off to the ladies. There is definitely a joke in there somewhere about them being horny, if only they didn’t have antlers.

 

We saw some of the lads out and about in the park, making that weird mooing sound, I’m not sure whether the girls find it attractive or not. I don’t know if I would be overly keen on a giant antlered man mooing at me whilst I was trying to eat my grass, but who knows – the ladies like what they like.

 

A couple of the boys had a bit of a to do and it call kicked off when one of them gave chase and started pelting after the other one. Nothing much happened in the end, and it was a bit disappointing. I feel like it was all for show, and the ladies barely even looked up as it was going on.

 

We went for a wander through the park and did our best to avoid getting run over by kids on bikes. There was one hairy moment where there was a kid coming at me from behind on a tiny bike, he was bending and weaving like this was the slalom section of the race and I had to take a dive into the long grass to avoid being taken out.

As he whizzed off with his mum following closely behind, another kid tried to take her out, but on a much bigger bike. My internal organs all simultaneously cringed as her foot got caught on the wheel of the bike. All I could imagine was her foot getting caught in the spokes and her going flat on her face, and me not being able to do a single thing to help because I was laughing too much. Somehow her foot managed to untangle itself and we were safe.

 

After Gail and I had taken a romantic turn around the grounds, we headed out and stopped for a coffee. In this coffee shop, I actually had a smoothie called a “Cool Pina”, which had lime, pineapple, cucumber and almond milk in it (unfortunately no alcohol). It was really tasty and I imagine it would be described as “refreshing” if they were to make an advert for it with many descriptors. I felt refreshed as I sipped this refreshingly fresh fruit smoothie.

Bonnie

The Fast Arm Slow Feet Hypotheses

I was jazzed today. I went into work feeling GREAT and I was sure I was going to get as much done as humanly possible. As you can imagine, it didn’t really work out like that, as usual. There was a ridiculous amount of traffic on the way this morning, and a journey which usually takes me 10 minutes, ended up taking me 40 minutes. I was not happy about this. There were temporary lights (which I am pretty sure should be in Room 101 – no justification required please Frank Skinner) and I crawled all the way there. In fact, crawling would have been quicker, I’m sure of it.

Eventually I got to work, and I remembered that we had a 2 hour long gathering of the whole company, so watch presentations about all the new stuff that is going to be happening and how good or badly we had done over the last few months. Now, I am super sad, and I love watching these things – all my mates think I am a complete loser. But I like hearing about what other departments are doing, and I like watching people speaking. Also, there are always videos to watch, and I LOVE a video.

Turns out, 2 hours is a long time to concentrate, and I did have to glance at some graphs on a screen, which is quite a distressing thing for me to have to do, and by the end of the 2 hours I was slumped in my chair and staring blurry eyed at the ceiling. Even the complimentary breakfast was doing nothing to keep me from losing concentration. That took us up to 11, and then it’s pretty much lunch time, so there was no point in really starting anything.

It was katsu chicken curry on the menu today as well, and one never gets much work done in anticipation of katsu. No one. It didn’t even bother me in the slightest that I had to queue for 15 whole minutes to get my lunch. In fact, all it does it prove that katsu is THE BEST and it simply cannot be beaten, ever. I ate it all and I felt sick, but it was worth it. I’m still not sure it’s gone down.

Ellie and I went out for a walk at lunch and discussed the finer points of whether it is easier to walk with fast feet and slow arms, or slow feet and fast arms. It was quite a conundrum, and a puzzle worth solving I feel, so we gave it some thought.

Our reckoning is, that it is easier to walk with fast feet and slow arms, because you can almost waltz it, but if you are fast-arming it, your feet have no choice but to engage in the fastness, and you can’t stop yourself from zooming along like a complete cretin. By the way, to get to this lofty point of knowledge, we had to test our hypothesis, and unsurprisingly, walking like this down the road gets you a lot of looks from the people driving past… A lot of looks. Especially when you are walking past a hospital. I’m not sorry about it though, despite the fact that we must have looked like we were clinically insane escapees, we have done some ground-breaking work on the matter. And that, friends, makes us pretty much scientists.

After all that walking, and at various speeds, I was rather tired, so there was next to no chance of any achievement happening after lunch. Plus, there is only so much you can achieve in one day, and no one likes an overachiever do they?

 

Bonnie

The one with the slippery nipple

I was back at work today. My God, I did not want to go. I even had a tiny cry last night because I didn’t want to go to work – just like a kid not wanting to go back to school after the summer holidays. How sad is that? No need to answer, I know it is sad, and I know it is crazy, you really don’t need to tell me.

I got to work and I took the greatest pleasure in deleting all of the emails I got whilst I was away. I couldn’t remember how to do anything at all, and it took me about 10 minutes to figure out where I needed to save this document, after not having to save it for a month. I wasted a lot of the day on staring blankly at me screen, not being able to recall what I was supposed to do with something, after I had got it.

I also wasted a good amount of time perusing the Macmillan coffee morning charity bake sale. I had completely forgotten about this, so I didn’t have any change, so I had to hit up my contacts and I managed to source myself £1 to get a gluten and dairy free brownie, which was actually surprisingly nice.

Finally, after many hours of waiting, it was time to go home. Well, not quite, it was actually time to go swimming. Seeing as I haven’t done any exercise whatsoever in a month, this was a fairly daunting prospect. I told my friends that if I didn’t make it in tomorrow because I had drowned, that it had been nice knowing them.

I got to the pool, got changed, and quickly realised that I had forgotten to bring a hair band. After scouring the surfaces, the hairdryer area and the showers, I could not locate a hairband. I even went out to reception to see if there was a spare one, but to no avail. Nuts. Trying to swim without my hair tied back isn’t really an option. I have a lot of hair, and if I leave it down, it’s like trying to swim with a bucket of cement on the back of my head. Which is hard, as you can imagine.

I couldn’t see an option. There didn’t appear to be a way around this. Until I looked down at my swimsuit. Now, this isn’t the usual swimsuit I wear, normally I wear a sporty one that flattens everything out and makes you more streamlined, whilst simultaneously squeezing all your back fat out of the back of your costume in horrifying lumps. But today, I had a more fashionable swimsuit on, because I couldn’t find the ghastly sporty, back fat enhancing number.

This swimsuit had a lace up bit at the front. It is like a v neck one, but with some loops and a bit of string that you can use to make cleavage by tightening it up, I guess. I’m sure you already know what I am thinking here. I’m thinking, that I will untie the string bit, take it out of the loops, and use it to tie my hair up. It’s a brilliant idea! What could possibly go wrong? Don’t even start, I know I’m an idiot. I know. I KNOW.

So, I action my plan, and after a bit of fussing I have my hair tied back, and what is now a swimsuit with a VERY deep v neck. I plop into the water, and let’s just say, there were a certain degree of movement, which wasn’t present when the string was instated in its rightful place. I’m not sure I can swim like this; the nips are barely covered. I’m convinced that if I push off from the wall that my swimsuit it going to slip and I will basically be boobs out in the swimming pool. Lifeguards will be looking on horrified and small children will be heard crying in the background.

But, I’m here now, so I might as well make the most of it and try and swim. I tentatively push away from the wall, and everything is going swimmingly (pun intended) so far. Everything is remaining in place, all is where it should be and life is good. I swim for a bit, I do a few lengths, everything seems fine.

I push off from the wall a bit harder, and all of a sudden everything is distinctly less fine. Very much, distinctly less fine. There was a certain coolness against the skin where there wasn’t before. Chillier in places than one is perhaps used to. And when I say that, I mean that nips weren’t in, they were bordering on the out. I didn’t want them to be out. I very much wanted them to be in and a woman was heading towards me, and she was wearing goggles, and she was most definitely going to see, and I was most definitely going to die of embarrassment.

I stopped in the middle of the lane, pulled my swimsuit up violently (and in the process, gave myself a minor wedgie) and scrambled back to the wall. I think I had managed to preserve my dignity, somewhat. Christ Bonnie.

 

Bonnie

South Africa Day 20: Elephant Fights and Hyena Bites 

First thing we saw today were a couple of giraffes having a cuddle. I’m sure they weren’t really having a snug, but that’s what it looked like to me, so that’s what I’ll say they were doing. Anyway, it looked CUTE, with their necks kinda twisted together.

We were out looking for a leopard today. There had been some sightings, and we were combing the area looking out for those beautiful spots. The other guests who were in the truck with us hadn’t seen a leopard yet, and they hadn’t done any other game drives, so the ranger was trying his best to find one.

We found some more elephants. There were two young boys play fighting with one another, which was so cool to see. I’d never seen them do that in real life – they were just like human teenage brothers! They were pushing and shoving each other and one of them turned and ran into the bush, swiftly followed by a tusk in the rump from his playmate.



They thundered off into the trees and we could hear them messing around in there; crashing into trees and crashing into each other it seems. There was a little one in the herd who was just staring to learn to use his trunk to strip leaves from branches. It was so endearing watching him learning. Struggling to control his trunk and tackle the branches, was just CUTE. They are so like humans in so many ways.

We stumbled upon a hyena laying out in the open. He was so chilled, and it turns out he wasn’t far from their den – so it looked like he had been kicked out. Maybe he came home late or something and Mrs Hyena wasn’t happy? Who knows!



Not long after that, we got a call telling us there were some hyenas feeding on a baby giraffe. They couldn’t tell whether the hyenas had taken down the giraffe themselves or whether they had snaffled it off of a leopard. Poor little giraffe. But that’s life I guess – and it’s interesting even if it is a bit horrible, so we decided to head over there to take a look.

On our way over there we hit a roadblock, a giraffe roadblock. There were 6 giraffes standing in the road in front of us, and more to the left and the right of us. They were non-movers.


We had to wait until the one at the front decided they were going to follow the rest of the group, and ran towards us and went to our left. Soon the others followed suit and the road was clear. These guys were probably the group that the little one was taken from – which would explain why they were acting kinda strangely.


We got to where the hyenas were feeding on the baby giraffe and they were all laying around on the ground. Their tummies were so full that they couldn’t get up, they looked like they had swallowed footballs! They were fit to burst, and all they could manage was to lift their heads and glance at us when we arrived.

Look at that tum

 

They soon lost interest in us when the pups arrived and started squabbling over the remains of the giraffe. Mum had to wade in, and one of the little ones didn’t take kindly to her interference and started trying to bite her ankles – which was hilarious to watch. He was snapping and snarling at her as she tried to stop them arguing with one another.



This was a really nice sighting for our last one of our holiday. We have been really lucky with everything we have seen. Seeing the Big 5, then the Super 7 and only being one off seeing the Dangerous 9. All we need to do is stumble upon a Nile crocodile and we will have a full set (somehow, I don’t think that is likely). Some of the sightings we have had of these animals have been one of a kind and once in a lifetime kind of sightings. They haven’t just been glimpses of tails and ears in the bush, 300 metres away. We have seen animals up close and doing their thing. Which is beyond amazing.

I am really going to miss waking up each morning and seeing all these amazing animals. Going back home and opening the curtains to the odd one-legged pigeon and urban fox rummaging through a bin, isn’t quite the same. I’m sad to leave. I’m really, really sad to leave.

 

Bonnie

South Africa Day 19: Lions Sleeping and Hippos Creeping 

We are at a new place now, which is a lodge rather than a camp. I have to say, I much prefer the camp. There were loads less people and the whole experience was much more personal. We got here yesterday afternoon, so we had a game drive in the evening. I got a really good photo of a giraffe as the sun was going down, with the last of the sunlight on his face.

We also saw a hyena going down to the water to drink, which was pretty cool. I hadn’t seen one in the light yet. There was a hippo in the water, and they are super territorial, and as soon as the hyena had started drinking, the hippo was on its way over to it.

It got closer and closer to the hyena, until the hyena decided it was time to scoot off, well out of the reach of the hippo. It sauntered off up the bank and disappeared into the bush.

The next morning, we were out nice and early, and the first thing we saw was a hyena. They aren’t usually out and about at this time, so it looked like she was coming back from a hunt. Kind of like a “morning after the night before” thing.

We saw some more white rhino, which were lazing about and chilling. After our rhino encounter, we saw some elephants, and there were little babies! I don’t know what it is about baby elephants, but they are so endearing.



Just as we were heading back to the lodge, we found some buffalo. This now means I have officially seen not only the big 5, but the super 7 too! There were about 150 buffalo in the herd, and we watched them for a while.

It was interesting to watch the birds on the buffalo picking off the ticks and parasites from them. Their bright red beaks stand out against the brown of the buffalo.

Buffalo weren’t as ugly as I thought they would be, and their horns reminded me of an old fashioned Swiss milkmaid.

That afternoon, the first animals we happened on were a group of lesser mongoose. I love these little guys, as the interact with each other constantly. They are always chattering away and playing. Pulling each other’s tails, chasing after one another and engaging in a bit of rough and tumble.


We saw another hippo in a watering hole, and a giraffe came down to drink at the edge. It isn’t often you see a giraffe drinking and it was cool to watch the way they have to splay their front legs so they can reach the water.


Both hippo and giraffe kept a beady eye on one another, but there was no aggression shown by the hippo. I guess this must be because the giraffe doesn’t really pose a threat.



Just around the corner from these guys, were some lions. Yay, more cats!!! There were a few females and a male.

I still can’t get over just how much they are like out domestic cats at home. They do all the same things, and it’s so cute to watch.



Watching them stretch out and move around is beyond enjoyable. They all had a good wriggle and stayed dozing in the last of the afternoon sun.

Bonnie

South Africa Day 18: Elephants from the Shower and Cheetah Power

After yesterday’s game drive, some elephants visited my tent. Eek! As it happened, I was in the shower. The showers have glass doors which look out into the bush, so, if an animal happens to wander by, you can see them whilst you are having a shower. An elephant walked past, just as I was rinsing the conditioner out of my hair. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. Do I run for the camera? Do I just carry on washing my hair?? Do I just stroll out there naked??? Who knows.

In the end, I grabbed a towel and wrapped it round me, and walked onto the veranda, dripping with water, to watch the elephant go about its business. It wandered on by, and went to find some food down the other end. I was just about to get in the shower when another elephant appeared. I wasn’t going to let this one go without a photo, so I grabbed the camera from inside.

The elephant walked down towards me, stopping to snack on some leaves and things as it went. I think it stopped to look at me for a bit, we made some pretty intense eye contact, and then the elephant wandered on by.

Another one came down, and the same thing happened, but there was less pausing this time. I guess because the other ones had proved it was safe to come through, so the elephant didn’t feel the need to eye me up in such great detail.

That afternoon on the game drive, we also saw rhinos. I’m not going to put any photos on here, because of the whole poaching sitch, and I don’t want to be the person that hashtags it on Instagram and points poachers in the right direction.

But we saw white rhino and we saw black rhino too. Funny story actually, we had seen the white rhino and we were driving off to our next port of call. I just happened to look over my shoulder, and I saw some rhino running along behind us. I had just assumed they were the same ones, so I didn’t say anything, and as it happens, the girl behind me in the truck saw them too and we both thought the same. It wasn’t until one of the guys told us what we were looking for, that we both piped up and said we had seen them.

The guys practically had their jaws on the floor, and I don’t think they believed us at first. But low and behold, there they were. Cool little fact about the rhinos, they are actually called wide lipped and hook lipped. It is thought that the Afrikaans word for wide was accidentally mistranslated to white, and from then on, they were called black and white. Another theory, is that because the black rhino is so aggressive, people thought it had demons in it, and it was possessed. And that the black and white thing was a bit of a ying/yang concept.

 

The next morning was out last game drive here in Thornybush game reserve, and I will be really, really sad to leave the Chapungu camp. As it was the last day, we decided to go searching for the final thing on our list; cheetah. The last cheetah sightings were way down in the south of the camp, literally as far as you could go. It was going to be a really long drive there to try and find these guys.

We drove for what seemed like forever. We stopped for a coffee and a leg stretch at a watering hole with some hippos in it. I was about half way through my coffee, when Jacques (the ranger) herded us into the truck and packed all of the coffee stuff up. We were driving at the speed of light, bouncing over the bumps in the road and narrowly avoiding thorny trees and branches. We slowed down and approached another truck which was stopped on the side of the track.

On our left-hand side was a female cheetah, making her way along through the bush. Shortly followed by 4 cubs [insert major heart explosion here]. These little ones weren’t even 2 months old yet, and they were still sooooooo teeny.



They are heart meltingly cute. They little tails stick up in the air when they run and they are so fluffy. They were all bounding around and playing with each other, just like little kittens. They were scrambling up trees, pushing each other out of them, and clambering back up again. They break my heart. It’s like they hold actual power over me.



We couldn’t get close because they were so small, and the guys don’t disturb them when they are that little. But just seeing them playing with each other, was enough to seal the deal for me, and ensure that I would definitely be coming back here again.

I didn’t want to leave the camp, I’ve had such a wonderful time there. I just wish I could stay on forever. It’s the best place.

Wildlife seen today:

  • African fish eagle
  • Elephant
  • Hippo
  • Cheetah – mummy and cubs
  • Banded mongoose
  • Nyala
  • Kudu
  • Impala

Bonnie

South Africa Day 16 (AM): Excited Rangers and Cheetah Wagers

We had a 5 am wakeup call this morning. When I say wakeup call, I mean someone came and knocked on the door of my tent to make sure I was awake. At 5.30 am we had coffee and rusk (which is a little bit like biscotti in the sense that is hard and best dipped in your hot drink), up at the lodge, and we jumped in the truck and we were on our way.

The guys had been hearing some interesting stuff on the radio last night, and we were in for a long and fast drive, to try and see something special. They wouldn’t say what it was, because they don’t want to disappoint you when you can’t see what they were looking for, but they were clearly buzzing about it and were super excited. I had my suspicions it was a cheetah, whereas Les thought it was a rhino… we will see!

We saw some zebra on the way, which the guy called pyjama donkeys (such a good name). Zebra are so vibrant in comparison to the other animals in the bush, and once you have spotted them, they really stand out against the background… If you can spot them in the first place!


We then spotted some elephant in the bush, it looked like there was only one or two about. The guys wanted to keep on trucking to catch up with whatever we were chasing, so we left the elephant and carried on. At about 7.45 we got to what we were looking for – a pack of wild dogs, amazing! Apparently, these guys haven’t been seen for in ages, they have been up in the northern area for a long while and this is the first time they have come back south in a long time.

 

Mummies and daddies

They need an area of around 20 hectares in which to hunt, and they have the highest success rates of all predators. Some packs of wild dogs have a hunt success rate of 97 percent, how good is that?! They have incredible stamina, and they work together to run their prey down. The lead dog follows the animal they are chasing, and the others work to cut the prey off on the left or right-hand sides. They also use slipstreaming to help conserve some energy, and the lead dog switches over with one behind, to give itself a break.

 

Puppies!

There were a group of 6 adults and 7 pups. They had started off the season with 12 pups, so they have had a better than 50% survival rate, which is really good. They were so sweet, with their giant ears and all laying on top of one another in a big bundle. They were beyond cute.

 

Puppies! Puppies!

We started off on the chase after the thing we were originally chasing, but over the radio the guide had heard no trace of the animal we were after, and seeing as it was another hour away and the wind was getting up, he decided not to continue going after whatever it was. We had the fortune of coming across a mummy giraffe and her baby, alone in the bush. The baby giraffe was less than a week old and he was still unsteady on his legs and was sticking close to his mum.