Wicked weekends

I am so thrilled the U.K. has bank holidays, it’s an opportunity for those of us who work full time to take a few days holiday without having to dip into our precious holiday funds from work. Here are my tips on making the most of these times and what you can get up to on our next long weekend!

What did I do?

Friday / Saturday

Over the first of our May bank holidays I literally did not stop. I had my lovely friend Lauren to stay (I met Lauren at University, when we went to watch Downton Abbey in the common room and hit it off!) Friday night which was wonderful. I got to show her our new flat, chill out, have a catch up and then end the night by watching hilarious YouTube videos.

The next day we went exploring the area and ended up in the most adorable, chocolate box / postcard village you have ever imagined in your life! Minster Lovell. We had previously searched places to visit close by and Minster Lovell came up as a suggestion due to its beautiful 15th century ruined Manor House and church.

We loved the little village so much! It reminded us of Cranford / Lark Rise to Candleford (books / BBC drama). When we were there we went to the local pub for a yummy cool drink which was much deserved!

On the way back we went on to Oxford where I accidentally (on purpose) introduced Lauren to the most adorable range of purses. These purses are in the design of bookshelves / books / shops and all sorts! They’re sold in a cute independent store where she treated herself to the cutest purse (I will be returning next payday to get myself one)!

Sunday

On Sunday Jon and I headed off early to Lyme Regis as I had never been and desperately wanted to go fossil hunting! This was a pretty long day as the drive down was a little over two and a half hours (same back), so it is quite a commitment to do, but totally worth it when we live in such a beautiful country.

Due to the hot weather the beach was completely packed, so we ended up clambering across rocks bare foot, squelching through the clay and sand looking for fossils on the way to a secluded section of beach. Totally worth it! We pitched up, had a dip, read some of our books and ate the picnic Jon had made. It was wonderful!

We had a good few hours at the beach before having a little mooch round the town, where Jon of course found a bookshop, then we headed off home and slept soundly till morning when it was (thankfully) BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY!

Monday

This was a great day, as it is usually a day we have to work, so we spent it together exploring Oxfordshire and its nature reserves! We decided to stay closer to home because it isn’t often you find yourself in a situation where you can do anything you want and more often than not people tend to go further afield in search, whereas I love to explore my doorstep!

We went to a nature reserve about 40 minutes drive from us called Foxholes.

Foxholes is a beautiful forest / woodland with fields, a river and little pathways running through it owned by BBOWT.

We did admittedly get lost, but with a compass, maps and Jon we got back to our little blue beetle in no time and went for a lovely late lunch in Burford at the Priory.

Rounding up

When it comes to it I think that it’s vital to make the most of our free time together. People, me included, spend so much time on our phones, computers and watching tv now that we just don’t switch off enough, leading us to feel tired, down and stressed. For this very reason it’s so important that we clock off even if for a day or so and spend it exploring our magical world, reading its books and enjoying its natural beauty!

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Pets at Christmas

I am pretty sure our dogs, cats and small little pets don’t have the faintest idea what we are doing come December. We cover our house in lights, tinsel and all sorts of decorations not to mention adding a beautiful green (or pink perhaps) tree for our cats to jump on and burry themselves in.

Dogs Basil decorates himself

If you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts already, I am completely festive crazy and I love any excuse for wrapping up presents, a good party or cooking a fancy dinner (also, give me a blanket and a cosy cup of hot chocolate, a movie and my best girlfriends and I’m good to go)!

Most years my dogs have to put up with my festive frivolities, I love to cover them in tinsel or LED lights and make them sparkle for however long it takes them to rip off the decorations and chew them up. My childhood German Shepherd Basil however, put up with my love of all things sparkly. As you can see in the picture above he would quite happily sit there and let me decorate him Capturewhereas Henry, our German Shepherd Puppy (the newest addition to the family) would prefer to take baubles off the tree and eat them (as caught in the photo to the left). 

When Christmas comes about at the house, my dogs take to helping themselves to all sorts. We currently have three beautiful dogs who have very stubborn and individual personalities.  Since getting Milly, who is my younger brothers dog almost three years ago now, we have moved the Christmas tree into the dining room at the front of our house opposed to the Living-Room, where the dogs are allowed freely! This prevents them all destroying the decorations and gives some breathing space to the room we use the most. It also means that the log burner in the Living-Room doesn’t droop the tree so its a win-win for us, not so much the dogs who think Christmas has quite literally come early and they have a big green bush to destroy!

Cats

I don’t own a cat myself, but I did grow up with a big fluffy black cat called Gladice! I’ve read lots of stories online and in papers about cats climbing Christmas trees, knocking them over and all sorts of funny things.My older brother and his wife have a cat, she’s the most I spend with a cat until I get my own and when it comes to Christmas trees she’s particularly dull. I know in the future Jon would quite like a cat (hoping we can get a dog first to be honest, so I can walk with purpose more). If we ever did get one, I’d probably be that person who takes a photo of my cat with an antler headband on or try to wrap it up if it sat on my paper!

Pet gifts

My parents have almost always given gifts to our pets for birthdays and Christmas, and why not! Our pets are part of the family and make us happy 365 days (unless they poop on the rug…) of the year, so why not treat them (and us) to extra toys, treats or a special day out walking somewhere!

I’ve noticed in upmarket food stores such as Whole Foods, they’re selling pet advent calendars, Christmas dinners and the cutest stockings for our pets. Little things like this are adorable and something I’m all for, but I’d much rather make my own Christmas foods for my pets as they’re cheaper and often much healthier!

Small pets

Last but not least….

There are so many types of pets people keep nowadays, more so than ever before and also different to ever before! I have a pet hamster called Walter, my best friend has a hamster also (who is almost the same age as Walter). I have other friends with guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, hedgehogs and even tortoises!

For us, Walter gets spoilt every day of the year (usually by Jon)! At Christmas he gets a little hamster cake which is homemade and always a hamster version of a roast dinner (raw vegetables and a slither of fruit)! I swear if I ate as well as my hamster ad ran in a wheel for half the night, I’d be my dream body shape.

Don’t forget, if you get a pet for Christmas it’s for life! Love and care for it constantly for the remainder of its life and if you can’t, I’m always here to help.

Have a woofing good Christmas,

love Lucy x

Home comforts

Cosy home comforts for most of us are more or less the same.

  • Hot drinks in pretty mugs
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Warm fires
  • Cookies
  • Warm muffins
  • Wine
  • Pet snuggles
  • Friends and family …

The list goes on and on! So for this cold weekend in November, be you in England at home, Norway sledding or Canada reading a book here’s my favourite blueberry muffin recipe for everyone to try!

You will need need the following ingredients and utensils…

Utensils:

  1. Mixer OR strong arm and wooden spoon
  2. 1 mixing bowl
  3. 2 other spare bowls (can’t have enough)
  4. 1 sieve
  5. Muffin cases
  6. Muffin baking tray
  7. Scales
  8. Wire rack
  9. Spoon or three (I like soup spoons for this)
  10. Apron
  11. Oven / dragon

Ingredients:

  1. 110g butter / vegan butter
  2. 250g plain flour
  3. 250g golden caster sugar
  4. 2 eggs / vegan ‘no-egg’
  5. Splash of milk / vegan alternative
  6. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. Half a vanilla pod
  8. A pinch of teaspoon salt
  9. 200g + fresh blueberries (more the yummier)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180ish degrees / gas mark 4. Set out the muffin cases in the muffin tray and put on the side.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the golden caster sugar, a dash of salt and mix it all together.

Eat a blueberry (vital)

Then mix together the butter / milk and vanilla pod extract until smooth.

Eat another blueberry

Pour both bowls into one and add in the remaining blueberries!

Mix all up together gently so as not to mush the blueberries.

Get yourself two spoons and scoop up a big dollop of mixture and then use the other to push it into the muffin case. I’d suggest filling them around half full and make sure there are an even number of blueberries distributed throughout.

After you’ve done this and licked any remaining ingredients off the spoon, give the bowl to a child or dog to lick of you feel generous, or like Jon and I, sit down and lick the bowl whilst the muffins cook.

Bake them for around 15/20 minutes or so. Set a timer to check them after 15 minutes as some ovens vary. My mums for example is a big range and can take minutes, it’s literally a dragon!

When they’re done you’ll know as they’ll start to crack on the tops and go a beautiful golden brown.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack, or like me an upside down pizza tray, as I left my wire rack at my friends house!

It’s vital you leave them to cool, you may end up with blueberry burns if not and trust me, that’s not something you want to be explaining to your friends at lunch the next day…

So whilst waiting for them to cool, tidy up, pop on the kettle and get ready to cosy up under a blanket and eat some scrumptious muffins!