Thursday, 22 April 2010

Click click clicking away...

I don't know if you guys agree but there has been absolutely nothing on TV lately! So i have been using my time in the evenings to do some crochet. My mother in law introduced me to crochet and knitting a year or so ago. Like her, i cant just sit and do nothing in the evenings. Especially when Owen is on the xbox!

I have made a few knitted things. Two of my sisters had babies last year so i knitted some booties, hats etc. I think the most used and treasured knitted present was my 'Super Ted' for my nephew Nathan.

This is a crocheted blanket i finished a few months ago.. i am very proud of it as it is one of the first i did! I chose green tonal colours and worked in a continuous square.

And this is my work in progress.. my Ripple blanket! I used the tutorial from Attic 24 which is really helpful! After many, many, many attempts i could not get it to ripple! No idea why. But then one day, i thought I'd try again... and Ta Da! For some reason i have made it quite wide and i am about half way to the size I'd like it to be. I will keep you posted on its progress!!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Hmmm... Soup!

Well if you know me at all you will know that i am not particularly domesticated! I haven't been married a year yet, but i am gradually picking up the housewifely jobs. I am particularly proud of myself in the last few weeks as i have been making soup! A lovely lady names Penny that i had the priviledge to work with last term gave me this recipe for Tomato Rice Soup. Sounds a little odd but i have found it great for taking to work as a quick lunch!

1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of stock
1 onion
handful of rice (or however much you want)
Tbl spn Dried herbs

Its sooooo easy to make, obviously as i can make it. I like to add a few extras to it too like some finely chopped pepper, bacon and sometimes a sprinkle of chilli flakes to give it a kick. If i have it, i like to use fresh basil too instead of the dried herbs. The good thing about this recipe is its made up of things you'll have in your cupboard! So no forward planning required! (Thank goodness!)

I'm new to this blogging lark and thought i'd take some pictures as i made it. Granted the picture of it cooking does not look very appertising! But it is scrummy!

My sister Mel has just given me a recipe for a thai chicken soup which i may give a go. If you know of any easy recipes along this line, please leave me a message!

Friday, 16 April 2010


Around the end of each half term my husband Owen tends to get fidgety and feels the need to get away! This Easter holiday he decided it would be a city break to Rome!

We flew out Saturday night from Heathrow to Rome Fumichino airport. It didn't take us long to get a taxi to 'Flaminio Village' where we stayed for 4 nights. We rented a tiny bungalow in a camping/bungalow park just outside of the centre of Rome. It was very basic but absolutely fine as a base for all the sight seeing we wanted to do! We got a 'Rome Pass' from the camps information centre which entitled us to as much use of the public transport we wanted, 2 free entries into attractions and discounts off most attractions too. All that for 25 Euros which didn't seem to bad!

We managed to find the train station 'Du Ponti' which is across a very busy dual carriage way near the camp site. It must have been the most run down, graffitied station I've ever seen and a bit like something out of a horror movie. But it got us into Flaminio station and from there we walked through Piazza del Popolo, a large cobbled area with fountains at either side, and along the Tiber river to 'Castel St Angelo'. There were some lovely views along the river and each of the bridges were decorated with statues.

The Castle was built by the Emperor Hadrian as his own Mausoleum which was later used as a fortress. Passageways were built from the castle to link it with the Vatican to use as a refuge.We walked up all the stairs in the castle which brought you to the roof where you had amazing views over the city. You could see the Vatican and St Peters square really well. It was a good way of seeing where all the major buildings are across Rome, it was an impressive sight and the weather being so lovely was an added bonus!

We moved on to Piazza St Pietro, the large area outside St Peters. It again was a lovely area and very impressive. The work that has gone into the building of St Peters and the surrounding area is just immense. It is so big and every bit of it is topped with statues. The columns making up the 'arms' are huge, apparently there was plans to build an arch to join the two ends but it never happened. There are 2 or 3 massive screens on the sides where they show important things. We had not long seen the film 'Angels and Demons' where Tom Hanks is on a mission around Rome to solve a murder/religious mystery. It was weird to see the area for real and i kept remembering parts of the film and where they happened.

From there we walked back to the river and crossed over to Piazza Navona, along the way walking through some beautiful and quaint streets. At piazza Navona was again another fountain but the square was full of artists! Some were doing caricatures but most just selling paintings of Rome. It was a great atmosphere! The square was surrounded by restaurants too! We had lunch here on the third day of our trip. The restaurant we ate at was nice and we sat outside with a great view of the square and the fountains, watching everyone go by.

We also visited the Pantheon and sat outside by a fountain for a bit. Unfortunately there was scaffolding across half the front and it looked like it was about to all collapse. From the outside it just looked like a huge, old, fort building. Then we stepped inside and it was truly amazing! The huge vaulted ceiling was really impressive. The shear size of it is ridiculous, the ceiling seems to play tricks with your eyes. The Pantheon is the most complete ancient Roman structure, finished about 125 AD. It used to have a bronzed roof but it was stripped off and melted down for use in other structures around Rome. It had paintings and statues all around and really was an amazing sight, with the sun shining through the ceiling onto the marble walls!

Not far from the Pantheon, we stumbled across a massive building and thought we'd have a peek inside. Good job we did! It was another church but absolutely covered in paintings! The huge ceiling was very impressive. Every inch of it was painted, a lot of cherubs and angels etc. It was very opulent and had more statues and alters. I'm sorry, i cant remember the name of it!

Through more little side streets we came to 'Fontana Di Trevi'. It was a massive fountain built into the side of a palace. The area was packed but we managed to find a seat to rest up for a bit. (I don't think I've ever walked this much in my life!) You are meant to throw in a coin if you wish to return to Rome, which we did. It had two giant horses coming out of it with three men, the Baroque design is massive and has apparently recently been restored. This was a bustling area, we attempted to get some ice cream from a shop near by but it was horrendously busy. So on our way back up to Piazza del popolo we found an ice cream shop and sat by the fountain to eat it. We also walked up to 'Picnico', a picnic/park area just above piazza del popolo and again had great sights of the city! We could see most of the places we had been to that day and just watched all people going about their business.

On our second day we caught the metro to Colosseo. As the name kind of gives away, the station is literally right next to the Colosseum and it was a surprising view stepping out of the station! The Colosseum was a huge great ruin, bursting up into Rome. We wondered around outside just soaking up the magnitude of the place. We had our typical tourist picture taken with a Gladiator outside, it was very embarrassing but it had to be done i suppose! We went into the Colosseum and looked around all the displays they had inside. They gave information about what the Colosseum was used for, the different types of Gladiators and displays of different costumes. It is still quite amazing to think about what happened there! They used to put criminals and slaves in to basically fight for survival! They could be granted mercy by the Emperor if they were lucky. Celebrations after victories in war used to last over 100 days! It was a way of making entertainment out of executions. It was very impressive walking out into the centre of the Colosseum! With most of it in ruins it was hard to imagine what it was like in its glory days. I kept wondering what it would have been like to be there during the Roman celebrations, with thousands of people, watching brutal fights between Gladiators, slaves and animals. Across the road from the Colosseum is another site of Roman ruins. Huge columns towering over you.

Across the river to the south west is the area called 'Trastevere'. It was full of tiny, quaint streets. We had an ice cream while sitting on a fountain in Piazza St Cosimato. (The Italian ice cream has got to be tried! ... Many times!) We saw some more churches and other buildings. Each church covered in paintings and gold. From the outside these buildings look old and run down but inside they are very opulent!

We had dinner in a little restarant down one of the side streets near the Pantheon. The Italians have strange ideas about meals. They have 4 or 5 courses, with pasta dishes, salad, meat and veg. There are tons of restaurants and cafes around Rome. Some are more expensive where they are right next to the main attractions but they're all around the same prices. Most restaurants had deals on for Pizzas and drinks etc. The cost of dishes didn't seem that different to UK prices, although it was a bit rubbish paying 5 euros for a can of coke! One of my favourite meals was a lunch we got from a shop near 'Campo de Fiori'. The shop sold homemade pizzas and you could order whatever size slice you want and they charged you by weight! Owen also tried a deep fried mozzarella and salami ball thing that someone recommended we try.

On the third day we went to the Spanish steps. We climbed to the top of the steps and to the balconies at the top which overlooked the steps and you could see the main road disappearing off in the distance. The steps were built in 1725 by the French. We went into Trinita dei Monti, the church at the top of the steps and also saw a man in white y-fronts parading about on his balcony on the top floor of the building opposite. Very funny.

'Campo De Fiori' was a busy square where they hold a fruit and veg market every morning til 1pm. This is where we had our lovely lunch, sat on a fountain in the sun! The stalls were selling fruit and veg, flowers, clothing and spices. 'Campo de fiori' means 'Field of flowers' but used to be the site of many public executions.

The weather was great for all 3 days we had in Rome. We had a really heavy thunder storm on Sunday night but it was all over by the morning and we enjoyed sunshine everyday! It was a lovely trip and we both thoroughly enjoyed it! We saw all the major sights we wanted to and some unexpected ones in between. Rome is a fantastic city and i would definitely recommend people go to experience it. Its got so much history and so much to see, along with having a relaxing atmosphere and quaint streets filled with restaurants.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Sharky Goes On Tour! Pt 1

In the summer of 2009 my husband Owen and I went on a mammoth honeymoon for three weeks. We spent two weeks in New Zealand but stopped off in Hong Kong at either end of the trip. Hong Kong was an amazing city, exactly what i expected. Ridiculous wealth and designer brands at one end of the city, but take a train further out and you come across loads of random markets and very strange looking food!

For the first few days we were in Hong Kong we stayed in a hotel called The Renaissance in Tsim Sha Tsui and it was really nice. I remember walking out of the hotel on our first night and stepping out onto the Avenue of Stars. It was such a spectacular sight! The Hong Kong sky line was lit up and reflecting in the harbour.

We had some delicious meals in Hong Kong too. One of our favourite restaraunts was 'The Crystal Jade' in the Gateway arcade. Owen loved his sweet and sour fish so much he had it about 4 times throughout the trip! My favourite was the beef and bell peppers! The fried rice was gorgeous too! Not really like chinese back here in England. Beware though because some of the food is quite weird. I made a mistake on the first time we went there and ordered a noodle soup dish but it was a bit like stodgey noodles in dish water. Pick right and you get amazing tasting food!

We also stayed at The Harbour Plaza in North Point on Hong Kong Island and from there we did most of our sight seeing. One of my favourite days was when we went to Sham Shio Po to the bead market! If you know me at all you will know i love textiles and anything related! So shop after shop after shop of beads, ribbons and fabric was like heaven to me! I made the most of it and brought a few bags of beads and in true charles style have done absolutely nothing with them yet!

There are tons of markets around in Hong Kong. Owen's cousin Anna had lived there for a while so was able to give us some great tips for places to go and see. The public transport there is brilliant so we often caught the metro out to various places across the city. The Goldfish market and flower market were cool. They are literally a whole road full of shops dedicated to fish or flowers. The fish market was a little creepy as there were loads of fish in bags hanging out the front of the shops. But the flower market was an amazing sight! The whole road was full of flowers, i especially liked the shops that just sold orchids. They were gorgeous. Shame i cant keep any alive really.

The Ocean Park was fun. We had to catch a train to Admirality and from there get a bus to Ocean Park. It had lots of rides to go on and attractions to see. I saw my first dolphin and seal show! It was quite exciting and amazing that they can train animals to do all those things but it did make me feel a little sad. The animals do the same show, over and over again, day after day. I'm sure they get well looked after by the staff there but it isnt quite the same as seeing them in their own habitat. The weather was scorching the day we went to Ocean Park and queing for rides was not fun!

We also went to 'The Peak' which is a massive tower on the top of a hill. You have to get the peak tram up to the top and climb quite a few stairs to get to the top viewing platform of the tower. But from there you get the most amazing view across Hong Kong, the island and the harbour. Owen did not enjoy this quite as much as me as he is afraid of heights! It was a little cloudy but you could still see all the majour buildings. We were up there durring the day but i can imagine it is the best place to see the harbour light show at night.

The symphony of lights starts at 8pm every night; over 40 buildings along the skyline are decked out in lights and it is apparently the worlds largest permenant light and sound show. The show goes on for about 10 minutes and if watched from the harbour music is played loud for all to hear. It did not get old either! Every night we were there we went out to watch them and never ceased to be amazed and the magnitude of the skyline and just how beautiful it was. This is a definate must see!!

The Star Ferry was food fun! Its so cheap, its nice to do just for a trip across the harbour. It cost about 20p and gives you a great view of both sides of the harbour. One night we caught it around 8pm and watched the harbour light show from the ferry! There are loads of stations in Central and go to various other ferry terminals along the harbour.

Hong Kong was probably my favourite part of our honey moon in the summer. The food was amazing, we eat alot of chinese style food at home but it really was so much better there! I would encourage anyone to go there if you get the chance. Its so easy to get around and there is so much to see! I would definately go back there, even if it was to just experience that first step out onto the harbour again, lit up by that famous sky line!

The Big Day!

Welcome to my new blog! Inspired by my lovable crazy mother in law i have decided to create a blog. Please dont ask what it is going to be about, because i have no idea!

It has been a pretty eventful 12 months! From becoming an aunty again (twice!) to getting married! I think i'll start with our 'Big Day' as it was easily the best day of my life so far!

I met my husband (hee hee husband! still cant get used to that!) 3 years ago when i started working at the local school where he is a teacher. It didnt take long for him to realise what a catch i am *cough cough* and exactly 364 days after our first date he sent me on a treasure hunt around Bideford! He had left clues at special places around the area where we had been together which eventually led to Instow sand dunes where he proposed. He's going to kill me for writing all this!

We got married at Broomhill Art Hotel and it was the most fantastic weekend i've ever had! All the staff at Broomhill were amazing and i will never forget all the effort they went to for our celebrations. They have an amazing sculpture garden too. If your ever in Barnstaple, North Devon you must visit it!

My husband Owen's best man was his dad Andy. He did a fantastic job! It meant so much to us to have him as best man. No one knows Owen better than his dad and he has always been there for him. They are like two peas in a pod! Theres a very funny clip of our wedding video where they are walking along a road together in exactly the same manner, even checking their watches at the exact same time in the exact same way! Owens mum was also a big part of the wedding, mainly putting up with my rambling emails leading up to the day! From cooking the wedding chocolate brownies to making the favour bags, her help was invaluable!

Our bridesmaids for the day was my sister Steph and Owens two sisters Lindsay and Briony. They all looked gorgeous! I made the bridesmaid dresses and i am so pleased with how they turned out! One of my favourite pictures is off the girls walking down the lane to the ceremony room and me followng behind with my dad.

My parents were great too.. my dad drove me to Broomhill in Owen's Audi TT. Forgetting the flowers was not great but it was fun driving very fast down the link road in the TT! Despite being half an hour late, dad did a good job of walking me down the isle and squishing my big dress down the tiny isle! My sister Mel also helped us alot in the preperations. She was going to be a bridesmaid and repay me for when i was hers the year before but alas....she got fat and had a gorgeous baby boy, Nathan. Thank goodness he arrived on time, just one week before the wedding! I was so chuffed as i was worried she wouldnt be able to make it.

The food was amazing and weather couldn't have been better! We had a band in the evening, 'The Food Fighters'. Just a local band from Bideford but wow did they get the party going! They do covers of loads of types of music and got everyone up dancing, including the grandmas! (not that you can stop Grandma Helga, she was dragging everyone on the dance floor!)

There were some special people there that day and i will never forget it. Thank you to everyone that made it so magical!