Friday, 30 September 2016

September - You Beauty!

It's been years and years since we've had a good Summer, but 2016 has been absolutely crackin'! From about May onwards we've enjoyed glorious blue skies, warm (even hot hot hot!) temperatures, hardly any rain, and all round Summer fabulousness. You can only imagine my delight when September arrived and it just kept on giving - blue skies, sunny days, lunches's been an absolute beaut and I have loved every minute of it! 

But it's the last day of September today so I suppose it's time to start thinking about putting some socks on, getting the tights out of the cupboard, and finding the scarves as the mornings become chillier and the nights start to draw in. Before then though, let's have a look at some of the glorious highlights from September: food, beer, more food, holidays, blue skies, Bob adventures, and general embracing of life's good times. 

The month began with a game of bingo. Which is not just for grannies. Instead I would say it is for people who are demons with numbers and can keep up with the endless monotone of the bingo caller - spoken in a nasal drone 'all the 2's, 22...'

Next up was our brillo holiday in the beautiful Lake District. Gorgeous scenery, gorgeous sunny days, lots of smiles, beer, cake, ice cream and chips. Happy days. 

Let's not forget about the pizza of dreams at Barbarossa Pizza as Dave and I celebrated 8 years together. 8! Where has the time gone? Notice that I have chosen to post a photo of the dreamiest pizza rather than a photo of us. Says it all really...

And finally the Bobbo. As each day goes by he becomes a bigger part of our little family. He is utterly barmy, totally gorgeous, and one of the most affectionate dogs I have ever met. I shamelessly adore him. And he makes me laugh every single day. Here he is meeting donkeys for the first time. 

I can't believe it's October tomorrow. I dare not even think about how fast this year has flown by. Crazy times. But October means crunchy leaves, and soup, and cosy scarves, and the first hint of chill in the air. I do love the seasons but I wouldn't be sorry if we lived somewhere that was Summer all year round either, you could have a different pair of sandals for every day and never have to wear socks ever again! 

So hello October. Let's see what you have to bring, eh? 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Round Our Way - Pizza of Dreams

You know that feeling when everyone else in the whole world has been somewhere and you haven't, and you're desperate to try it but life just keeps on getting in the way? That was me about Barbarossa Pizza on Bedford Street in Middlesbrough. So many people were going, posting photos, checking in, eating ALL OF THE PIZZA and I wasn't and frankly it simply wasn't on! The temptation to spit my dummy out was high! After many failed attempts at trying to organise it, Dave and I finally got our bums in gear and decided to go there to celebrate our 8 year 'non-iversary' (thus called because we're not actually married, except we practically are in everything but the piece of paper declaring it legal and all that boring stuff). Wednesday evening at 6pm, the table was booked, I stayed behind at work cos there really was little point in going home then coming back - excitement levels were high! 

First up let's talk decor. Like many of the foodie delights along Bedford Street there's a definite trend towards minimal, NYC loft-style with all the brick and all the wood. This pleases me no end as it's a style I really like and is really appropriate for the small size of most of them. The best thing about this place though is the GIANT pizza oven that you can see through the open kitchen hatch. The giant pizza oven that basically cooks up the most delicious of pizzas that taste just like they do in Italy. I'm actually drooling just remembering how utterly divine it really was...

Next up the menu. Just the right amount of toppings to choose from and three different options for the dough: sourdough, wholemeal, and gluten free (yay for the GF family!) We opted for the sourdough base with chicken, peppers, and rocket, with a side of patatas bravas, just in case there wasn't going to be enough carbs with the pizza...a glass of pink for me, a red for Dave, badda boo badda bing, bring on the pizza! 

The pizza: oh me, oh my. Perfectly proportioned, there is no other way to describe it other than dreamy. The base was perfect, the sauce was just right, the chunks of fresh mozzarella were so fresh and so yummy that I can't even...the chicken, the peppers, the peppery rocket with the balsamic dressing. Oh. My. God. Pizza of dreams. Easily the best pizza I have eaten in years, and definitely - DEFINITELY - authentic. Which didn't really come as too much of a surprise to me as the chef is Sicilian, plus the one million reviews I had read from friends who had been/seen/checked in/drooled, you know the drill. 

Expectations were high. Expectations were met. Since going there I too have raved to about one million people, and my new boss was so utterly convinced by my review (and the fact that they have gluten free) he is planning to take his wife there soon. 

I'm not gonna lie, since going I've probably looked at the photo of that pizza at least 3 times a day. It's like I can't get it out of my head! I'm not sure my usual 'highly recommends' even comes close. If you're a pizza fan I urge you to go and try it. 

Make sure you book a table, it's small and understandably always full up. You can call to reserve a table: 01642 802409 and you can follow their Facebook page: Barbarossa Pizza.  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Holiday part 2: Sheep in high heels AKA the night of camping hell

Dave and I are big fans of camping. We've enjoyed many a holiday in the great outdoors and so from the start we've been pretty keen to see how the Bobbo would get on camping too, so that it would be another option for future holiday ideas. Instead of going full-on canvas we decided we would try him (and us) in one of these camping pod thingies that you see so much about. There was one available kinda on the way home from the Lakes so we booked it up and got all excited about having another day of holidays! 

First of all let's talk about the pod. Hmmm, in the photo that I saw it had a sink area and looked all kinds of big. When we arrived it had two single camp beds, a futon, and a teeny tiny window that let in no light. Dave described it as being a bit like a shed, for me it felt really enclosed, rather like a big wooden coffin and I was definitely not feeling it at all...and neither was Bob. On high alert from the moment we arrived, we swayed back and forth between deciding if we were even going to stay or just give it up and head home. We really should have listened to our instincts, but being the hardy fools that we are, we decided to see the experiment out and stay the night. 

Here's the pod by the way. Looks all kinds of nice from the outside...

The best part was the meal at the pub down the road. More chips were involved. And more beer too. Woop! 

We watched a glorious sunset from the top of the moors and then decided it was time to head to bed. We closed the door of the tiny shed/coffin pod and went to bed...where we didn't really sleep at all. 

First of all some sheep arrived in the field. Sheep that seemed to be wearing high heel stilettos. Sheep in high heels and wooden decking is a strange combination for humans, add in a dog on high alert, not entirely at one with nature and trouble started to brew. Deep growls from the Bobbo did not deter the sheep one bit as they continued to dance around our decking in their high heel shoes *

*side note, we got off pretty lightly we found out in the morning. One man in the field was sleeping in a tent and he awoke in the middle of the night to find a sheep head-butting him through the canvas. These sheep were all kinds of mean...

After they'd finished dancing around our decking they headed off to the bins and knocked them over too. Barmy sheep! Deep growls. There was lots of us trying to coax Bob to lie back down and ignore the sheep and all the other noises. He even got up at one point in the night and started pacing up and down the tiny shed/coffin's making me tired just remembering it. As dawn finally broke we all staggered out of the pod bleary eyed and feeling pretty sorry for ourselves. We enjoyed-ish a big breakfast, packed up the car, and set off for home. 

Valuable lessons we have learned from this overnight experience:
1. Bob does not like camping
2. Bob does not like sheep. Especially if they wear high heels and eat his kibble
3. Bob will not be coming on any camping holidays with us
4. Claire and Dave do not enjoy sleeping in tiny camp beds
5. It's much colder than you expect in a shed/coffin/pod
6. Sheep are dickheads

Thursday, 22 September 2016

WWW - the week that was

I was going to call this 'The Week Without WiFi' and have this ready to go out on Monday. Ahem. Life, work, busy, yada yada. Anyway here I am, better late than never to talk about the holiday!! The holiday that after 4 days back at work and extreme busy-ness now feels like a gazillion years ago *sad face* 

So, the week that was/the week without WiFi. We went to the beautiful Lake District, we took the Bobbo with us, we stayed in a fab place that used to be a tennis pavilion that was surrounded by trees, and birds - especially robins, and speaking of special - deer! Yep we saw an actual deer in our garden! The neighbour saw three! That was pretty magical I can tell you. Oh and yep, there was no internet signal, which we kind of knew about, but closer to the truth would be that there was no signal of any kind, even mobile to send a text message. Well and truly switched off from the world we settled into an absolutely brilliant week! 

Jennings ale at the local pub
We walked, we strolled, we read books, we ate ice creams and way too many chips, we drank all the Jennings ale (has to be done really considering it's my last name and all, and no, sadly it's not my future empire to inherit...). We enjoyed glorious blue skies and sunny days (only one half day of rain in the Lakes is almost a miracle!), and if you've never been it's a stunner of a place and around literally every corner is yet another beautiful sight. Here, I'll show you a few so you can see what I mean. 

Could there be a better example of the rolling English countryside?
Those mountains are totally real I promise you!
Rydal Water - yep, glorious!
Lake Windermere and the gorgeous blue skies!
By the end of every single day we were all so relaxed that some of us went to sleep at 6.30 in the evening and stayed that way until 13 hours later...

Let sleeping Bobs lie
It truly was a stupendous week and I was really quite upset that we had to come home. 

But I guess if you went on holiday every week it wouldn't be special anymore would it? 

The holiday is not quite over though so make sure you come back tomorrow to read the next installment. There's sheep in high heels...see you then! 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Out of Office

Well hello there. Thanks for popping by. Normal ramblings will resume soon. Myself, Dave, and Bob the Dog are out of the office in the beautiful Lake District. We're hoping for some sun, a comfy bench, and some relaxing times. See you on the other side... 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Capsule the Claire way

I know I keep banging on about this whole nearly 4 years and no good job, but it has honestly been the cause of many a revelation to me. Just let me talk about it again today for a brief paragraph before the point of this post emerges. So you know the drill by now - very little disposable income meant really thinking about how I spent my money, which definitely led to a reduction in a lot of the stuff that had previously been a big part of my life. The stuff came in many shapes and sizes and a lot of it was clothes. Like a whole heap of clothes that were often not worn as there are only so many days to fill in a week. During that time I really didn't miss buying the new clothes that much, and whenever I did want to add to my wardrobe I would hit the charity shops and generally come back with a good little haul that cost only a small amount of money. At the time I called this phase skint, but I have recently come to realise that it was a form of re-education. I simply didn't, and don't any longer, need that much stuff. Which is a very long winded way of bringing me to my point. 

The point being that I am really inspired by the idea of a capsule wardrobe. There are many variations on the capsule and I am not choosing the absolute version where you can only have a certain number of clothes in your wardrobe at any one time. What I am taking is the idea of season by season having a collection of clothes, well thought out and considered, that can be easily mixed and matched, and represents the style of Claire. Which by the way has changed quite a lot over the past few years. A style evolution is probably a whole post on its own but recently I have discovered that unintentionally or not, I wear a kind of uniform for work and one for weekends. Which is why I am 100% certain that I can do the capsule thing. It'll definitely make getting ready for work on a morning so much easier when choice is restricted! 

I've not tied down the absolute essentials yet as it's very much in between seasons at the moment but I'm thinking along the lines of a couple of pairs of smart (and strutty!) trousers, lots of variety in the tops department, couple of pairs of leggings, bring out the opaque tights as the colder days set in, some funky ankle boots, and the rest will be decided upon as the days go by. Autumn is a really easy time to try this I reckon, before the jumpers set in and the scarves come out. If you're interested I'll be happy to give you a breakdown of the wardrobe choices - shout out in the comments. 

In the meantime, if you like the idea of this and want to give it a try, there's a couple of people I would really recommend checking out. First up is Anna who started her capsule about a year ago and was probably the front runner in getting me interested in the idea. Along the way I've also come across Alli and Kat who have some really interesting video content around capsules, responsible shopping, and do some excellent charity shop hauls! 

What do you reckon? Do you think I'll give in once I see my bank balance and just go wild in the aisles? I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Wednesday Weirdness

This song is following me around! The first time I heard it was in a trailer for a film with Ewan McGregor that looked all kind of good, so good that I can't remember the title...

Then I went to Orange Pip Market and Amelia Coburn played it with her cute ukulele...

And then not one, but two buskers on two different days were playing it over lunchtime! 

Weird or what?! 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Round Our Way - The Dorman Museum and Dresser's Tea Rooms

I reckon that the last time I went to the Dorman Museum was when I was in art college and we stopped off over the road at a greasy spoon for a full English breakfast. As that was probably in like 1994 I was well overdue a visit. I called on my ladies, Tee and Andy, plans were made and to the museum we went. 

The primary reason for this visit was to see the Memories of Childhood exhibition before it closes tomorrow (nothing like being late to the party...) and, in full disclosure, to drink tea and eat cake. All things absolutely worthy of a soggy Saturday in early September. The exhibition was cute and full of all sorts of weird and wonderful things, including a tea caddy that I'm sure used to belong to my mam! The stuffed animals were a bit on the eep-y side, so not my thing, but the rest of it was interesting and the stories behind some of the famous children's tales were also really interesting! The exhibition itself was pretty small but we wandered around the rest of the ground floor of the museum (definitely going back to see upstairs next time!) which was also full of all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Including a car and an ice-cream bike truck! 

I think it's safe to say we were all keen to get to the tea rooms. I was particularly looking foward to it as it came highly recommended from my new colleague who is a total cake fiend just like me (YES!) so after a quick wander round the shop at all the childhood toy memories, we headed right there and slotted ourselves into a table for three. 

I opted for crumpets, followed by brownie. Tee had toffee crisp cake, and Andy had brownie too, topped off with a pot of tea for three, and please can we have one of those really cute tea cosies too! 

My crumpets were pretty much perfection. Call me weird but I always ask for them to be toasted extra as I like a crunch in my crumpet, so it's always very pleasing when they arrive just how I like them. 

Yasssssss! Crunchy, crumpet-y joy right there. The brownie was also good, as were the 3 cups of tea in the mismatched crockery. 

All in all it was a very satisfactory visit. I am almost certain I will be back for more as there were many things on the menu that I wanted to try including a wensleydale and mango chutney sandwich - hello! You had me at mango chutney #chutneyforlife 

I would highly recommend a visit. The museum is free (unless you are attending one of the temporary exhibitions where you sometimes have to pay) and the tea rooms are just inside so if you're not a museum kinda person (if this is you I'm not sure we can be friends...) so you could still enjoy all the yummy delights and cute tea cosies. 

The website to find out more about the museum and the upcoming exhibitions can be found by clicking the link after these handy dandy arrows >> Dorman Museum


Friday, 2 September 2016

I'm currently unavailable to take your call...

Ooopsy, look at that, it would appear that I'm not too good at this blogging thing now that full time work is back on the horizon. This is mainly because full time going out also seems to be back! Since starting my job 3 weeks ago I have probably been out more times in that short space of time than in the last 4 years - I kid you not. Cocktails, cinema, dinner, coffee, cake, markets, new coffee shops, more cake, it's been a whirlwind three weeks and I am LOVING IT! 

I would absolutely admit to being way out of practice. I have nothing to wear and on the cocktails night I drank 4 different ones and essentially ended up like this:


The icing on the cake to all this out-ness is that Tee is home and has been for two glorious weeks. This always makes me happy and as you can see from the above photo leaves me with a grin so wide that my eyes disappear. All the feels, all of the time. What can I say, I love that girl, and her being home is just the bestest of the best. 

I am out AGAIN for cocktails tonight. Who am I?! I treated myself to a new going out bag, and I clearly need some more of these going out clothes cos as much as I loved wearing that jumpsuit, no-one tells you that you have to take the whole effin' thing off to go to the loo! Not at all practical, in any way, shape or form. 

So much fun is being had, and it's tip top being able to go out and see all my buddies again. Yip-ee-do-dah! Where shall we go next...?