Thursday, 20 February 2014

January 2014 - Cardiff Hen Do Fun Times!

OK so yes, I totally failed at updating you on the second half of 2013. In fact all I managed to do before giving up was give a summary of the first half of 2013, which I had already told you about! Needless to say, the second half of 2013 was busy. I've put some photos up here for your perusal, from Independence Day to New Years Eve. If you want to know more about any of our adventures from last year just ask and I'll write about it!

But anyway, onwards to 2014, a year which promises much excitement, and has in fact already offered up some fun times! Instead of trying to do a weekly blog post and failing miserably, I think I'm going to aim for a monthly round-up, with extras as I fancy. Let's see how I do!

Our year started like this:

No, we didn't have people over! XD

This was shortly followed a couple of days later by a lovely meal at Alewife with some new friends.

And then... we got back from a fleeting visit to Cardiff a whole month ago already! Ten days in the motherland certainly made me feel totally homesick for the UK, but I'm feeling much better now that we're back in our apartment. We fit so much into that short time, and I managed to see loads of my friends, in no small part due to my awesome sister being in cahoots with said friends to organise me a fabulous HEN DO! Bur more of that shortly.

We arrived at Lemon HQ on the Sunday afternoon after an uneventful journey. My marvellous friends let us stay even though they're both knee deep in work right now, so a massive thank you to both of them, especially Kate for giving up her bed! We were promptly treated to a proper roast dinner, a great start to our stay.

N was right off to work on the Monday morning, even though he wasn't supposed to be working on this trip, go figure! I spent most of the day chilling over jetlag, but did go in the MRI for the first time in the afternoon for one of N's studies. It was much louder than I expected, but fine really.

On the Tuesday we met a friend for lunch at one of our favourite cafes in an arcade in the city centre, The Plan, which serves the most amazing salmon baguettes. Then spent the afternoon relishing the novelty of shopping on a high street, before collecting my friend from the train station who had awesomely taken a couple of her days off to come down from Sheffield to see me :D We had sushi for dinner at our favourite Japanese restaurant in Roath, Tenkaichi. I wish I'd taken more photos!

The Wednesday involved much chilling and shopping - my friend and I both bought new phones! And a lovely lunch at another favourite arcade-based cafe, Madame Fromage, where I indulged in ginger beer and a panini featuring chorizo. Then of course it rained (similar to every afternoon we spent in Cardiff) so I had fun picking up the hire car and driving back to Roath through the rush hour traffic, before having to put my friend back on a bus to the train station :(

On the Thursday I drove N & I down to Dorset for the day so that he could visit our wedding venue for the first time. We made it through some torrential rain on the M5 and trudged through some mud, and thankfully N loved it! Yay! We also met our photographer who was sooooo lovely! Excitement! Then we headed for Montacute House to meet my lovely aunty for lunch, before driving back to Cardiff through some more rain. Great day!

Friday lunchtime saw my little sister arrive in Cardiff. We spent the afternoon shopping for bridesmaids dresses which was incredibly unsuccessful. Apparently our wedding colours are absolutely not in fashion right now! Once we were allowed back to the flat I was greeted by this:

Haha, oh dear! Hen do had begun! I had a surprise bake-off to judge, I was crowned Mary Berry for the evening! Amazing cupcakes and iced buns, and plenty of 90s pop. But best of all were these incredible mugs, one for every guest of the weekend (and N), all hand-drawn by the two fantastic residents of the Roath outpost! As if they didn't have enough to do! Thank you guys!

After not a huge amount of sleep we were all up bright and early for a mystery trip! After spending a not insubstantial time heading west on the M4 we eventually ended up near Tenby and met up with some more friends - we were doing high ropes! My sister is awesome, she had organised exactly what I asked for. Unfortunately I was waaaayyyy more terrified than I expected to be, as in, actually hysterical! But I am so proud of myself for facing my fears and doing 2/3 of the course, and hopefully everyone else had fun too! Unfortunately I was too busy to take photos, but one of friends who was waaaayyy too pregnant to do high ropes took lots for us, which you can see here. We followed this with some well-deserved (and long craved for) fish & chips and pots of tea in Tenby before heading back to the Roath outpost for pizza, and a quiz all about me! Which felt pretty narcissistic, but at least I didn't write the questions. Thank you Kate for putting it together (with N's help), they were great questions and it was fun to find out what all my crazy friends know and don't know about me! Everyone did pretty well though :)

The pace on the Sunday was entirely different as we headed for a spa in the countryside for a lovely chilled day of swimming, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, sitting, drinking tea, lunch, reading magazines and having afternoon tea. But unfortunately the hen do had to end, with some sad goodbyes, but happy memories :)

Unfortunately there was no time for a lie-in on the Monday as it was time to do what we'd come for: the wedding license appointment! We had stayed our required seven consecutive nights in Cardiff so just had to show up and prove identities and we were set, as long as no-one came forward with any legal impediments before February 5th! We took some photos in Sherlock's mind palace (aka Cardiff University main building, which just happens to house the lab in which I did my PhD :D ), then I headed into town, spending some time saying goodbye to the city centre and buying British stuff to bring back, before a final meal with our lovely hosts.

And then Tuesday N and I headed to Cardiff Bay, to go to the Doctor Who Experience initially, which turned out to be closed on Tuesdays :( So instead we had a nice walk across the barrage and back, and some Wagamamas, before going to Starbucks to check in for our flight. The rest of the day was spent drying off, packing and basically waiting for our trip back to Baltimore, which started early on the Wednesday morning.

Everything went smoothly, although it was a long flight because of the wind. This did mean that I was able to watch four full films though! About Time (loved it!), We're The Millers (very funny), Blue Jasmine (meh) and Austenland (brainless, but fun to fill the couple of hours at the end of the flight when I couldn't think any more!)

But the January fun didn't end there! We were straight back to work on the Thursday, and then on the last Saturday of the month we headed out for brunch at our favourite spot, City Cafe, with our wonderful friends, and my favourite little girl :) It was actually the best brunch ever: I couldn't decide whether I wanted savoury or sweet so our friend suggested we get one of each and swap halfway through, it was the perfect balance of Croque Madame & French toast! That weekend was also filled with baking and cooking and tea: N made rolls, I made pork, chorizo & bean stew; and bara brith for St Dwynwen's Day, and set out afternoon tea with one of my new Christmas teapots and the milk & sugar set from my aunty, and I also tried out one of my Christmas flowering teas! So much excitement!

Anyway, that was a lot of writing, so well done if you made it to the end. I'm sure you didn't want to read every little detail of my month, but it turned into a bit of journalling so that I wouldn't forget the fun time we had! More pictures here. I hope you had a lovely January! What did you get up to? Any New Year's Resolutions? How are they going? Leave me a comment and I promise to send you a surprise item of snail mail! :D


  1. So much food! Glad you had a lovely time here and like your mug. I hope it's surviving well, mine is not enjoying being used and washed! I think you know what I got up to in January, and if I had any resolutions, I've forgotten about them already...

    1. Hehe yup! As you know, we're all about the food! Unfortunately N's mug is also starting to look a little worse for wear, but I've been very careful to only wash the inside and the rim of mine (I don't know how mine has escaped being washed up by N, but he's going to do that from now on too :) )

  2. I had the best time ever in Cardiff, can't believe it was a month ago. Turns out the best post-nights cure is Gemma-based fun! Skype soon please xxx

    1. Yay! I had so much fun too, wish we could do it more often! Yes please on the Skype! :D xxx