NM9

Devon


Rested. 

Devon holiday snaps! 
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A little breathing space

Llangollen International Eisteddfod, Wales
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Festivities 2015

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The Barcelona Birthday


We are in love with this city. If you want any of our recommendations (for pintxos, brewpubs, sees or stays: hit us up with a message)


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SUMMER

Sweet summer in Brum, life's not all weddings
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Granddad Turned 90!


Happy birthday Charlie boy! 

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Granny Wales' House


We went to Granny's house by the sea. It's full of her treasure collections.


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These little minkies...


... played in the garden.

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These little minkies...


... had fun at the beach.

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Fazeley Studios, Digbeth


Corinne turned 21, we had a party.

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bonnie


This is what Scotland looks like.

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21

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family


Today my beautiful cousin Hannah gets married. Super excited to see her in some more fancy dress.
(That's her in the head scarf, me in the blue hat with her brothers and my sister)
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V turned 20


This week the youngest of our siblings turned 20. We've survived the teens. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY VANESS

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Charlie & Ella- Now we are two!


These guys are the cutest right? We just spent a lovely couple of days tickling and giggling with this lovely little pair. We did all sorts of exploring and chattering, pointing and naming ...and getting excited, though we were not quite sure why.

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Happy Birthday Mum


Today is my Mum's birthday. We'll be eating and walking in celebration. And showing her this video from The Kid President:






Our first dance was a fairly pimping Strip the Willow accompanied by our live band (four friends from beach mission and a new friend who called the instructions). I got to dance with every man present (and Malc danced with every woman) twice as we weaved our way down the line of assembled friends and relatives. Constantly spinning all that way was a bit of a epic adventure but I loved it, though I do remember yelling "Please help me I think I'm going to die" to one of the guys near the end of the first lap.










Our wedding photographers were: Sam Kelsall, Jessica Adams and Jack Adams. The final photo by Laura Street. 
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A year ago...


...we graduated!

 


Congratulations to the Aber crowd following the same route this year. 
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Los bebés


Last week the two of us travelled to Suffolk to visit Nom's aunty Bibi. She and uncle Joff were moving to a bigger house just a few minutes walk from where they'd been staying. This sounds relatively simple, but added to the equation were two four-month-old twins, two young, boisterous Labradors and the fact that Joff was away moving most of their stuff from their previous home in Derbyshire. You can see, then, why we were drafted in to help. Fortunately for us Bibi cooks a wonderful Spanish omelette and, as you can see, the babies are ridiculously cute.







Joff and Bibi's new home is in a small village surrounded by ample stretches of greenery. The dogs and babies take regular walks past a farmhouse that keeps some interesting pets: chickens, geese and Norfolk pigs, which have recently been revived from extinction!






The new house is very quaint: it has old crooked door frames (low enough to bump your head), a thatched roof, an enormous fireplace, and a vegetable patch. We'd happily swap pads with them for a while, and we're sure they'll be happy there.





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Plaster Party


It was my sister's 18th birthday today. She had some people round for food. My parents are having a load of work done on their house and the most convenient available party space was a room that's recently been stripped down, knocked through and freshly plastered. I think they were a bit embarrassed about it, but I thought it looked pretty suave in a continental, unpolished, minimalist sort of way. I told them not to bother with the new floorboards. Here's the birthday girl by the way:


Enjoy being an adult Vanessa.
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Flowers




Mum sent me some flowers today from her garden. I washed my entire "garden" in the kitchen sink. 
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21 Again


Mum threw a garden party to celebrate her big birthday. She made a tun of tiny cakes so that everyone could try a bit of each and most people didn't stop at one, particularly with the mini-meringues (topped with chocolate paste).



There was a hammock and two sofas in the garden to lounge on. We decorated with swathes of bunting and a spot of reused tissue paper...

 

Drank a fair bit of Pimms...


Milled around chatting...











And did a spot of photo boothing in the summer house!







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London Baby


Happy Birthday

Mum turned 50 this week so she and I hopped down to London to celebrate with Corinne. We found dinner in LEON then desert and champagne in Caffe Vergnano 1882.





And let our hair down in the hotel. 



Bathurst Mews- I'd take one of these houses for free. You might not be able to see it, but there is a horse standing outside its stable at the end of the street. And that Olive Tree is quality.



Mum and I strolled through Hyde Park and sat at the Lido by the Serpentine for some elevenses. There was a heron, plenty of other close-up birds and two chinooks, cue plenty of "oh wow, that's amazing!" from Mum.



Then we stumbled across the rose garden, which is incredibly scented and full of delicate colours.




We'd planned to walk past Buckingham Palace on our way to lunch with Corinne but this crowd persuaded us to linger and watch the Changing of the Guard. Reader beware: if you go to watch the Changing of the Guard, what you will actually do is watch the back of the crowd watching people marching around, while you shuffle around trying to catch a glimpse of some red and gold on your tip-toes. (And when you do finally get a clear view of the procession, your camera battery will have just conked out). Still, if its not raining, its pretty good fun.




P.S Does anyone know who any of these chaps are?

 Photos from previous London adventures are on our Flickr.
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Dunker

 













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Jon's birthday

Last Saturday we went to Birmingham Nature Centre for Jon's birthday. A lot has happened since then, but here's some photos in the sunshine. 
































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the SCOTTISH holiday

Nathan Coley, There Will Be No Miracles Here, 2006
During our trip to Scotland we stayed at my Uncle Gav's house in Polmont near Falkirk, which proved a good point to travel to and from and a very hospitable home in which to stay.






During our stay we looked at some galleries, such as...

The Modern Art Galleries of Scotland 

Clockwise left to right: the plinth for Reclining Figure Henry Moore; metal sculpture, artist unknown; Nom outside the Dean Gallery and Work no. 975 EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT Martin Creed.

We enjoyed a lot of the work, particularly the permanent sculpture pieces in the gallery gardens, August Sander's marathon People of The 20th Century collection (made all the more impressive as the prints were taken directly from the photographer's negatives) and other individual works by the likes of Emin, Creed, Hatoum, Munch and Lucas. Curiously, the grounds of The Dean Gallery contains a small patch of allotments with no obvious connection to the gallery itself (organic veg for the café perhaps...?) Simultaneously secluded, rural, cultured and urban, we both agreed we could think of no place more interesting to grow produce.

Talbot Rice
This Edinburgh University gallery (which is in their Old College building) was showing a retrospective Rosemarie Trockel exhibition. We were both impressed by the provision of such a large and seemingly well-staffed gallery space within a university, although we were also bemused by the lack of obvious themes in Trockel's work and found it hard to engage with.


Stills
On our meandering route to the Talbot Rice Gallery we came across the small but intense Stills gallery. They were showing the second part of Social Documents: The Ethics Encounter, an unsettling collection of photographs and films around the theme of 'war, sex and political urgency'. The pieces were sometimes uncomfortably close to the exhibition's remit: to include material exploring the 'murkier waters' around the ethical codes imposed on more conventional documentary and investigative photography. Dani Marti's 'post-coital portraits' were particularly near the knuckle. The exhibition also included the very timely My Neck is Thinner than a Hair: Engines by The Atlas Group, 100 pictures collated from Lebanese archives of engines found near the scenes of car bombs during it's civil war of 1975-91. We like the overall operation of the gallery: an experimental and theoretically-minded approach to exhibiting photographs.


We ate and drank in some great places...

Amore Dogs
We'd read about Amore Dogs (and it's sister restaurant The Dogs) online before we went north. It didn't disappoint: tasty, decent portions of simple but well made Italian food for reasonable prices - so reasonable in fact that Uncle Gav didn't quite trust the menu until the bill had been paid.



Henderson's!
Our namesake company sells itself as an established essential food outlet in Edinburgh. Having originally set up an outlet for their excess farm produce, Henderson's now have a shop, deli, bistro and restaurant which serve interesting, ethical, vegetarian food. We had lunch in the bistro: soup of the day with a choice of homemade bread and pâté. We experienced Baba Ganoush (a powerful purée of baked aubergine and raw garlic) for the first time and enjoyed it enough to make it for our first guests when we got home.


eteaket
Another highly anticipated Internet discovery was this glorious establishment with a menu of over 40 teas and a range of cakes. Each tea is served in a china tea pot and infuser, with an hourglass timer for the perfect brewing time. Their mismatched, delicate cups and saucers fit in with the feminine 'boutique' decor. The cliental seem to reflect their design decisions, but gentlemen should not be dissuaded from experiencing this surprisingly rare example of tea connoisseurship. Perhaps eteaket is also a reaction to the macho coffee house aesthetic of dark-stained wood double espressos, wi-fi access and business-while-u-drink. It's not only a place to experience fine tea, but a space to relax and have a natter.

Malc tried a fine Bouteaque Blue Mist and Nom had the Chocolate Abyss (with chocolate, cocoa and coconut pieces) and enjoyed it so much that we purchased two tubs to bring home. It went well with our Tunnocks teacakes (25p!).

We experienced the downside to its deserved popularity on more than one occasion when we were turned away because there were no seats left. Go first thing in the morning or later in the evening (they open until 7) to avoid the disappointment.



Loch Lomond
We cooked pope's eye steak on an open fire mid way through our adventure on Loch Lomond (of which more later).


Caffe la Ronda
A perfect mother's coffee stop in Linlithgow, Caffe La Ronda isn't glamorous but it was a nice rest stop and shelter from the elements.



Fredericks coffee house
Another Edinburgh winner, we ended up in Fredrick's having been turned away from eteaket, and only noticed it because the pot plants outside had been blown over, but we'd go back. We had a white chocolate mocha (yummy!) and a cappuccino (a little heavy on the steamed milk, but good). We enjoyed the view of the street below and well chosen decor. Looked and felt great, tasted great and was quiet too.


The Kenilworth
Is a beautiful restored pub with a fine whiskey list. Mentioned in Uncle Bob's Pub Audio Tour (New Town). On the pricey side, but enjoyable high seating with cosy vibe and thoroughly tiled walls.


Oliphants
If Oliphants in Linlithgow doesn't already qualify for legendary status, it should. We had heard rumour that they had closed down, a tragedy especially because Bob the dog had eaten the last of our frozen reserve of imported Oliphant's meat pies. So, great joy when we found both the shops still open. 

We ate the goods sitting beside Linlithgow Loch and were amused by the advice of a passing scot "they're bad for you they are".


Good, solid, old Linlithgow pub with eight ales always on, including their own personal brew. 


Other things we got up to

  • Checked out the highland coos, deer and fish farm at Beecraig's.


  • Walked along the canal from Polmont to Linlithgow (shooting stills for an animation along the way) and caught the train back again. In between the two journeys we took in several eateries, the Palace and several shops.
  • We loaded Gav's car up with a canoe and he took us to Inchcailloch, an island on Loch Lomond, for a BBQed steak sandwich. We had a walk around the island taking in its highest viewpoint and this pile of moss that looked remarkably like a dog.





And finally...

Tips for surviving the journey:
- a laptop, a series of House and some headphone splitters* go a very long way.
- painting can be a mobile activity
- two extra plastic cups make a picnic shareable
- old scottish ladies with trashy magazines and sandwiches make good travel companions
- avoid Birmingham New Street during Friday's rush hour at all costs (particularly during strikes)


* This is our 5 way headphone splitter- share music with five people, or mix music from two mp3 into unto four pairs of ears.
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Pink and Blue

On Valentine's day we got some brand new, tiny cousins and this weekend we got to meet them. Here are Charlie and Ella (and Corinne and I).

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23: A Daysaver Adventure


For a birthday treat, Nom took me on a Daysaver Adventure. For the uninitiated, a Daysaver Adventure involves catching the first bus that comes to your nearest bus stop, buying a Daysaver ticket - which can take you anywhere and everywhere on the network - and getting off wherever you fancy. We began on Sutton Road with the 905 to Birmingham city centre. When we arrived at Bull Street we took advantage of our proximity to Cyber Candy to pick up supplies (see above) before visiting the New Art Now exhibition at the BMAG and drinking a swift half (or two) of real ale at the Briar Rose.

Then we caught the 47 to Cotteridge, jumping off on the Pershore Road for a canal-side walk.









We ended up in Kings Norton where we had a mooch around the green before catching the 45 back into town. On the way we ate a picnic (cheeky!) of mini pasties, Thai prawn crackers and jelly.


We had some more ale at the Wellington, before heading to Short Heath on the 7 to visit my family, who live nearby, and my grandparents who were visiting. They had prepared a lovely meal of fried plantain, followed by tuna steaks then sticky toffee pudding. My sister also made a wonderful cake which was oozing buttercream! What a day!



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