Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Singing Santa

Happy Boxing Day, one and all!

What would Christmas be without... Singing Santa?

Had a lovely time in the Hysterical City of Carlisle. I used to spend Christmas there often as a kid, but not since 2006 when, sadly, my nana passed away. Felt six years was probably a safe amount of time to try again! 

Managed to catch up with my cousins, Darren & Craig. Big northern lads - 'ard as nails, tough as boots. They all say words like 'boook', 'coook' and 'fil-em'. Hadn't seen Daz's daughter Katie (my first cousin once removed...?) since she was very little. Now she's 14, wearing makeup and talking about getting her ears pierced! Managed to catch a sneaky snap of her with her Great Uncle (my dad!). Don't think I ever met any of my great uncles or aunts, so it's rather an historic moment. 

Also managed a lovely one of her and Daz

Me + cousins Darren & Sean last year.

Mum's side of the family are hard to keep up with because there are so many of them. Dad's side, because I see them so rarely. The boys belong to my dad's sister, Jean. We also managed a jaunt up to Dumfries to see family. I'd always thought that their boys, Scott and Ross, were my cousins. Turns out they're my second cousins once removed... who invented this system?

Complicated, huh?

Still, a wonderful, festive, over-fed and flatulent (that'll be the mince pies) holiday. 

Incredible Christmas dinner courtesy of Lynne & Craig (and Ben!).

Not even going to mention Downton Abbey.

(Or, for that matter, Call the Midwife. What is it about Christmas and tragedy? 'Your dead child is right here, you're practically standing on top of her...' - seriously? Ho, ho, bloody ho!)

Anyway, Santa was rather lovely this year. I now have tickets to Bill Bailey in the summer, and a smartphone that's a lot smarter than I am! 

(May take me a while to figure out how to use it...)

It's also been a good year (yes, Frank, a very good year) for hats...

Top left: me scruffy winter hat. Top right, from Mum, bottom left, from Marilyn, bottom right: a loop scarf from Craig & Lynne that also doubles as a Mother Mary-style headscarf. I think this may just be my new most favouratist thing in the whole world! 

That isn't over-exposure guys - that's a halo.


Much head love people! Roll on 2013.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Saint Davids Weekend

Just had a lovely weekend in a cottage in St. Davids (Tyddewi), Wales. Britain's smallest city.

It was Dad's birthday on Saturday and Marilyn usually whisks him away to a Landmark Trust property. First time I've been around, so hopped in the car with them. Had a brilliant time, plenty of walks and open fires. Also, lots and lots of ancient sites. 

Those who remember my old blog may remember a distinct love of standing stones. The far South West of Wales is like the Mecca of prehistoric sites. We managed to get around quite a few - highlights in the video above. Pentre Ifan is just a stone's throw away from Foel Drygarn, an impressive Iron Age settlement. Going to be discussing all of these with my mate Paul, who runs The Northern Antiquarian (Facebook).

Had a wonderful pootle around Porth Mawr. I reckon it's Epona's holiday home, there are wild ponies everywhere. Plenty of dramatic seascapes and even a cromlech right up on the hill. Might even have stumbled across an unmarked circle.

I'd like to mention a couple of places we stopped for food, which were absolutely lovely. The first is Café Thirty-Five (Facebook) in Solva. Really friendly, yummy menu and huge fish tank. The other is The Sloop pub in Porthgain. It is awesomely excellent, brimming with local history and quirky nick-nacks. Well worth a visit.

The cottage itself had a perfect view of the cathedral, and a gorgeous fireplace.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Giant's Cave

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Fantastic weekend catching up with my friend Dan in Bristol. We've known each other since we were about sixteen, both BRIT school brats, but haven't really seen each other properly in years. I headed off to Africa, and Dan's spent the past four years teaching English in Taiwan. Met up briefly on his return, but this time we got to do the proper how-do-you-do.

Turns out he's moved from London to Bristol, which is only 45 minutes away. We drank copious quantities of wine, ate an extremely greasy yet satisfying Chinese, then headed out to Wonky, where we danced until 2am. If nothing else, it was nice to know I'm still capable!

Brilliant night, followed by a lazy day getting lost around town and eating at a fancy French restaurant. Highlight being The Giant's Cave, also known as Ghyston's Cave, beneath Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Observatory. Joke of it being, it's so narrow you have to bend down to climb the steps. No way you could get a giant down there!

Don't ask.