Friday, 29 June 2012

A Lovely Lazy Holiday

We are just back from a week's holiday in Spain.  The weather was gorgeous - it was hot, bright and sunny every single day and I'm now happily sporting the slightly crispy look of a girl who has spent too long in the sun.  My hair feels (and looks) like a haystack and I have some unfortunate tan lines around my neck but my eyes haven't looked so fresh in months.  It was the most relaxing holiday ever.  We stayed in a villa in the mountains in Frigiliana (near Nerja) and the only time we saw anyone else was when we had to make a trip to the supermarket.

The terrace outside the kitchen door.  We ate all of our meals here.
The villa had a lovely rustic feel to it with wood burners in all three bedrooms, exposed beams everywhere and an open fire in the living room.

We spent 12 hours a day outside, breakfasting at 8am on the terrace and finally coming inside so that Andrew could watch the football at 8pm.  We had planned a quiet holiday but expected to have one or two meals out.  In the end, we didn't eat out at all.  I had bought two lovely jersey maxi dresses and a gorgeous jersey jumpsuit for our 'date nights' and didn't wear any of them.  I took an enormous suitcase full of a variety of clothes, just in case, and I brought almost all of them home unworn.  Over the week I wore five bikinis, two swimsuits, four t-shirts (three of them oversized cover-ups), a short black jersey dress and a pair of khaki combat shorts.  Each evening I wore a fresh pair of PJ shorts and a loose cotton top.  That's it.  I must remember this for my next trip because my case this time had a 'heavy' sticker slapped on it the second it was checked in and we had to pay £60 in excess baggage.  

It was quite liberating to wear so few clothes.  I didn't wear a smudge of make-up all week and didn't style my hair, I just washed and went.  

The front door of the villa.
The view from the villa.  Complete seclusion.
We slipped into a lazy daily routine quite quickly.  Coffee, yoghurt and magdalenas for breakfast followed by a couple of hours reading by the pool.  Come midday we'd move to the shade and have a little nan nap.  A late lunch, typically of fresh bread, cheese and salad, would be followed by another doze in the shade and more reading.  Ice cream time (!) was 5pm and I made a point of swimming continuously for an hour at the end of the day before heading up to shower, pop on some fresh PJs and have supper.  There was a built-in barbecue at the villa so we made the most of it.  We ate really well and, of course, managed to squeeze in the odd bowl of nibbles and several glasses of something boozy.

A pretty little spot for reading.
It was seriously quiet and seriously lovely.  I loved every single minute.  We both needed the rest and have come back refreshed and revitalised.

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Jake is with us this weekend and we've nothing much planned so I'm going to get the washing done, potter around the house and watch some films with my best boys.  I'm also going to catch up on some blog reading.  I couldn't access the internet properly in Spain and I've missed you all lots! :-)

Have a great weekend. 



Tuesday, 19 June 2012

A little pizza party

This post is sponsored.  The views are all my own.

A while ago we were offered the chance to sample Domino's Triple Chocolate Cookies.  I didn't need to think about it, my two best boys love Domino's and their idea of a pizza feast finished up with warm triple chocolate cookies is their idea of heaven.  I'm not a huge fan of pizza - I can only eat a slice or two before I feel uncomfortably stuffed but I must admit that the garlic and herb dip at Domino's with their pizza is delish.  

We ordered an American Hot and I insisted on a healthy veggie one.  It was lovely.  I am currently bribing encouraging my stepson, J, to eat an olive every time we have them.  Someone told me years ago that if you think you don't like olives you should force yourself to eat one every time you see them and you will learn to love them.  I tested that theory - I used to hate them - and now I can't get enough.  The big fat green ones are my favourite.  Weird, isn't it.

J, really likes the garlic pizza bread and, boy, can he pack it away these days!  He has just turned 14 and up until Christmas he was a bit of a fussy eater.  Now he gets through huge plates of food, followed by a good helping of dessert only to be "starving!" a couple of hours later.  The teen years are proving irksome in many ways (communicating via grunts, lying in bed until midday, spending hours in the bathroom, wearing a hood almost constantly etc etc) but this is a bonus.  I do not know how parents cope with finicky eaters, it drives me insane! 

I tried to make our pizza party a bit special - I dragged my little vintage tea table into the conservatory and laid out a pretty teacloth but the second the pizzas arrived, hot in their boxes and emitting appetising wafts of cheesy dough, I was fighting a losing a battle.  J and Drew just wanted to get stuck in.  

So, the cookies.  Oh! The Cookies!  There are four provided per portion and they arrive warm and gooey.  They are lush.  L-U-S-H.

We ordered two portions and ate all of them.  I put aside three little cheeky ones to be eaten just before bed with a glass of cold milk.  Utterly gorgeous. 


So, in other news, we are preparing for a little summer holiday to Spain soon.  We have rented a secluded villa in the hills for a week and I can't wait to go.  Life has been a bit worrying and stressful recently and I feel exhausted.  I plan to take a few bikinis, a straw fedora and plenty of reading material so that I can spend my days reading and sleeping in the shade.  So hoping it will be hot.  

Hope everyone is having a good week so far.  I was in Leeds all day today which is miles away from where I live but it was so nice to drive in the sunshine.  I'm working from home for the rest of the week which is ordinarily lovely when the sun is shining but I'm uber busy at the moment.  Grr! 

Thanks again for spending time here and for all of your lovely comments - I so love reading them and do try to get back to everyone eventually!  I'm currently a little bit addicted to Instagram - my username is xxNickiFxx if you feel like saying hi.  It's great fun if you haven't already signed up - like getting a stream of 'mini' blogs all day!  I'd love to see you there.

Love and hugs,



Monday, 11 June 2012

A gorgeous vintage wedding and a little moan about the weather

I am a true English gal so I am going to start with a mini weather report.  It was appalling last week - not just rainy but extraordinarily windy too.  My carefully nurtured little seedlings have, for the most part, spent their first vulnerable weeks in the earth being battered by heavy rain and strong wind.  Every morning I've nipped outside in my jim-jams, anxiously checking for damage and tipping excess water out of the flooded vintage enamel trugs.

I am not enjoying this weather at all.  I am fed up with damp clothes drying all over the house, I am annoyed that I have to switch the lamps on before lunchtime and I generally just feel cross that flip flops, ice cream and heat rashes do not feature in my foreseeable future.  (Well, actually, that's a fib.  We've got a couple of holidays coming up, but you know what I mean.  I want sunshine at home! *wails*  In fact, I demand sunshine!  *stamps feet*)


There is nothing quite like a forthcoming wedding to really ramp up the weather-related wobblies.  One of Andrew's oldest friends was getting married on Saturday and the wedding was one of the loveliest I've been to. (And there was no rain!)  I hardly took any photos because a) I was too caught up in the emotion of the day, b) the only camera I had with me was my iPhone and c) it was so windy that I had to hold down my dress to save flashing my [enormous tummy tucker] pants at passers by.  So I'm afraid that you will have to just take my word for it that the wedding was beautiful.  

Imagine a very slender and strikingly attractive bride in a creamy silk vintage sheath dress, her hand-span waist accentuated by a plain silk belt and diamante buckle.  She wore a little fur cape over her shoulders and just an embellished silk hairband to set off her thick blonde hair which was pulled into a low side ponytail.  She carried a posy of flowers that looked as though they had just been plucked from an old English garden and the shoebox-sized church was filled with peonies, roses and candles.  She and her husband (tall and handsome in a grey suit with bright pink socks) grinned from ear to ear all day.  It was such a treat to be part of their special day.

The reception was held in a black barn deep in the Suffolk countryside and a vintage double decker bus was hired to drive everyone there from the church. (They travelled separately in a chauffeur-driven pastel green classic VW camper van - so cool!).  Inside, the barn was gorgeous.  There were fairy lights and tea lights everywhere you looked, the table decorations were an electic mix of vases and old bottles filled with pale pink blowsy blooms.  If only the silver window vase on one of the tables had fitted in my clutch bag! :-)   We drank plenty of fizz, ate the biggest strawberries I've ever seen and washed down huge chunks of chocolate wedding cake with tea drunk from vintage china.  

The bride and groom have been together for ever having met in Australia when they were both on their travels.  When the groom, as part of his speech, thanked his parents for lending him the money to go to Australia, all those years ago, I felt a lump in my throat.  Aw!   

But every wedding needs a few minor incidents to make it memorable.  I will never forget the best man's speech which was shocking and hilarious in equal measure.  The entire wedding was translated into sign-language by a lovely jolly-looking grey-haired old chap and I still chuckle to myself now when I imagine how he interpreted some of the more 'blue' stories!


So the jubilee bunting has been packed away and it's back to a full 5-day week at work for me this week.  Our spa membership is proving worthwhile so far - we've been a few times already.  In the evenings there are very few people and we often get the swimming pool entirely to ourselves.  RESULT!  The jacuzzi outside is uh-mazing and one of the other members told me last week that it's even lovelier out there when there's snow on the ground so I'm quite looking forward to that this winter.  I'm having my gym induction on Wednesday lunchtime and so don't expect to be fully mobile until the weekend afterwards.  I am ridiculously feeble in the gym.

Have a great week! 



Saturday, 2 June 2012

Weekend Preparations

Well, the bunting is finally up chez nous!  I love bunting outside in the summer and have been wanting to hang this for ages but thought it would feel more special if we waited until school was out.  

We have these pretty patchwork flags around our front door (we don't use our front door) but then we also have a long string of more traditional UJ bunting right along the garden fence and some across the front windows.  Earlier in the week I tied some to the little storage barn in our garden too: 

The left-over heart-shaped bunting was used in the kitchen over the doorway to the conservatory.

It was quite funny hanging the bunting yesterday evening.  Although we live in a village our house is on a main road and there is a lot of traffic.  People were tooting their horns and waving as as they went past and a few of the neighbours walking their dogs stopped to have a laugh at our mini domestics as I instructed Andrew on where to bang the nails in.  Picture a very tired Andrew, only just home from work with lightly crumpled shirt and five o'clock shadow.  Me, arms laden with long strings of bunting, bouncing around and desperate to get outside.  He was not impressed with my bossy instructions of 'down a bit, up a bit, straighten that flag out!'.  I'd keep making him stand like a lemon holding the bunting in place whilst I nipped across the road to see how it looked.  His face was a picture.  Good job he can laugh about it. Ha!  (We were lying in bed this morning and through the open window could hear our next-door neighbours hanging their own bunting.  It was a similar scenario with Jane telling Rob to 'up a bit, no - move it this way a bit'.  We had to laugh.)

After getting the bunting just right, I was splitting mint in the garden and remembered the stash of limes in the kitchen so decided it would be a good idea to kick off the Jubilee weekend with a round of mojitos. 

As with all homemade cocktails they were a little on the strong side and by the third I needed a bit of lie down.  Lovely though - mojitos are my favourite.

We have got loads planned for the weekend.  J (stepson) is staying with us and I'm not sure he's entirely chuffed about the Jubilee Jig and Pig at the local farm tonight but we're dragging him along anyway.  He can sit in the corner on his phone with a J2O and laugh at our dancing for a bit - won't hurt him.  He says his 'other parents' won't be celebrating the Jubilee so I think it's good that we'll be forcing our celebrations on him.  Something for him to remember when he's old.  The programme for the rest of the weekend includes a bonfire and fireworks at the pub tomorrow night and a bit of a show put on by the local thespians (I use that term loosely!) on Tuesday night.  It's at the Working Men's Club and tickets are £1.  The old ladies in the village are doing a cheerleading routine to 'Night Fever' and the post lady is doing a sand dance - it will be worth every penny!

Before the fun begins we're off to join a spa this morning.  I can't wait - I went for a trial session on Wednesday evening and it was so nice, a real treat.  After that, we're heading to the garden centre for a few more plants and then I'm going to make a lemon drizzle cake and some Jubilee cupcakes.  I love it when J's here - the cakes in the house last about 5 minutes, tops.  I'm so pleased I have two lovely chaps to bake for.