Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Gathering.

Last night I had a Christmas gathering at my house for a few of my friends from Guildford. It was a lovely relaxed evening with food, drink, and very good company :)

Me and my best friend Emma :)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone 
Hope you all have a wonderful and blessed day with friends and family

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas....


Friday, 23 December 2011

Hotel Review: The Celtic Manor Resort.

Yesterday was my Dad's 50th birthday. I had the Inter-Club Christmas Ball on Wednesday night so my parents picked me up from my house in Uxbridge yesterday morning, and we drove to the Celtic Manor in Newport, a 5* golf and spa resort, where the Ryder Cup was held in 2010. We were just staying there for a night, it was just a chance for us to all get away together for a nice relaxing day or two.

We got there at around lunchtime, and immediately you can see why this place is 5*. Unlike most places our rooms were already ready for us, so we went to drop off our stuff and explore a bit. We had two Resort Superior rooms with a balcony, and they were both beautiful. They had everything you could need, comfortable beds, desk, sofa, chair, TV, and a large marble bathroom with a separate shower and bath. The bathroom was also full of Elemis products!

After exploring the rooms we headed back downstairs for some lunch in the bar. We had quite a long wait, and service was slow, but when we eventually got our food it was delicious! We just had sandwiches with some chips, but they were really tasty. We then went to the spa for a swim. It was A-mazing. The changing rooms were lovely, very clean and spacious, and in the women's changing/shower area you then have a spa area just for women, which includes a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and cold plunge pool.

After using the spa facilities my mum and I went into the unisex swimming pool area to meet my dad and brother, where there is not only a large pool but also a huge jacuzzi and another sauna. After a couple of hours relaxing and unwinding we went to explore the rest of the hotel. It's huge! There isn't just the Resort, there's also a smaller hotel called the 'Manor Hotel', just down the hill, which you can actually get to via a number of escalators inside the Resort. It felt a bit like going through secret tunnels...the entire way down was deserted. Obviously the Manor Hotel wasn't in use, because it was empty and a lot of it was closed. Maybe they use that hotel for the Golfers?! Anyway, we had a wander 'round and it was very traditional, old rich woods and it all felt very Celtic compared to the more modern Resort.

The dinner we were very disappointed with. We got dinner included with our room rate, and were told that we could only eat at the Olive Tree restaurant. My mum asked a couple of times if we couldn't eat at one of the nicer restaurants, and they told us no. So off we went to the Olive Tree. It was a buffet, and a very badly laid out buffet at that. The restaurant was incredibly hot, there was absolutely no air, and it was incredibly busy what with people staying there for Christmas. You literally couldn't even see the buffet there were that many people and it took forever just to get your food!

The service was very poor, incredibly slow...took forever to get us new cutlery, water, and clear our old plates away. I was also shocked that we had to ask them to keep re-filling the jug of tap water, at a 5* hotel you expect the restaurant staff to be trained to an adequate standard and be taught the basics that you always re-fill the water jug before it's empty, not half an hour later! The buffet food was nice, nothing special, but the problem was because it was so hot you didn't feel like eating much. It definitely wasn't special enough for a 50th birthday dinner.

After dinner the manager asked us if everything was ok, my dad told them of our experience and they apologized and said we could have eaten at another restaurant!!! After all of that, after my mum asked two members of staff beforehand if we could eat at another restaurant and they had told her no, we actually could have! Completely unacceptable. The thing that made us relax slightly after all of that was the live singer and pianist. I don't know what his name was, but he was absolutely amazing! He was a very talented jazz/swing singer/pianist, and he took requests too, so I got my 'Send in the Clowns' request in like I always do :P

The Celtic Manor Resort is beautiful. It definitely wasn't the best hotel we've stayed at, but the staff were very friendly, even if the service was slow. I guess it was good just for one night and just for some time to relax and unwind. I'm not sure it deserves its 5*'s though, I'd say it was more of a 4*. The spa and swimming pool was definitely the highlight of the stay. Unfortunately we don't play Golf, my Grandad does that enough for all of us, so we couldn't test out the golf course...but it must be good if they held the Ryder Cup there?! I also loved the fact that the hotel was so festive, they had Christmas trees everywhere, including a large one in the middle of the lobby with a huge train set going around it. The breakfast was also very tasty (again, a buffet) but again, service was slow.

The Resort

 The Swimming Pool 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas Ball at the Lansdowne Club 2011.

Last night was the Inter-Club Christmas Ball at the Lansdowne Club. It was a fantastic night with great friends! We had a champagne reception, and then a three-course meal before dancing until 2am! There was also casino tables for people to have a flutter on.We had so much fun dancing to old classics like Summer of '69 and Mr Brightside, it was certainly very memorable. Anyway, I'll leave you with a few of the photos!


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Guildford Group.

Last night I went for drinks with a group of friends for Paddy's 21st birthday at 'The Brit' pub. All of our old group from school are back from Uni for the Christmas holidays, so we always make the most of us all being in the same town for once and go out as much as possible. We're going out Friday night as well, and then having a gathering at my house next week. It was so great to see everyone again! Whenever we catch up we never stop laughing. Half of us had colds and flu so we were all coughing and spluttering away (nice, eh), but it didn't stop us having a good time :)


Friday, 16 December 2011

Swan River.

I miss Perth soooo much! Especially at this time of year when it's freezing cold here in the UK and nice and hot over in Perth. I miss the beaches and the river - swimming in the crystal clear waters at South Cott beach and sailing on the Swan River.

My all-time favourite book is Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton. It's set in Perth in the area where I lived. Here is one of my favourite quotes from the book;

'On the long grassy bank beneath the peppermint trees and the cavernous roots of the moreton bay figs...The university clock chimes and a rowing team slides past with the sun in its eyes...the sweet coppery water where jellyfish float and blowfish by the river,the beautiful,the beautiful the river...I burst into the moon, sun, stars of who I really am...Perfectly. Always. Everyplace. Me.'

The Swan River

South Cottesloe Beach


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Kensington Roof Gardens.

Last night was the younger members TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) drinks at the Lansdowne Club. They have half price drinks there on Friday's, and this coupled with me being a lightweight resulted in a tipsy Catherine (a large glass of wine for just £2 - bargain). After pre-drinks at the Lansdowne we headed to the Kensington Roof Gardens for some dancing. This was my first time at the Roof Gardens, and the queue was HUGE, but luckily a couple of friends of mine are members, which meant we got to skip the queue :P

It usually costs £15 to get in (cash, they don't take cards) but it's such an amazing place! The club itself was quite small, I was expecting it to be huge, but they played awesome music, and we had so much fun! I didn't see much of the actual Roof Gardens as it was freeeeezing outside. We had a wander around a small area and went and sat in the Moroccan tent for a bit before heading back inside to warm up and dance. It is definitely the place to go in the Summer!

On the Roof Gardens website it says 'Entrance is strictly over 21 years', but they didn't ID me and I'm only 20 :P haha! I guess it also helped that I was with a member. AND, despite the fact I was obviously drunk when we went in after all those £2 glasses of wine, they didn't bat an eyelid - I was shocked, in Guildford they kick you out of the clubs and refuse you entry if you so much as stumble or even look drunk! So I'm definitely going there again! Amazing place!

Huge thank you to my very responsible and trustworthy friends for making sure I didn't drive home and crashed at a friend's house instead! Also, even though I've started drinking again the past few months and enjoy getting a bit tipsy, I'm actually not THAT bad...a lot of people I know are much much worse drunk than I am. I just get very happy. And after all, I'm only 20! You're only young therefore I've got to make the most of it while I can!

'Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.'

Amy, me and Mel in the Powder Room of the Lansdowne!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Mighty Mince Pie Review.

So here it is, the mighty mince-pie review! I have tried and tested a total of seven different mince pies....and am now feeling rather sick. In fact....I'm feeling very sick. I only tested Sainsbury's, Tesco's and Mr Kipling mince pies, as I don't have any other supermarkets near me. I am very very fussy when it comes to mince pies...and out of the seven, I would only buy two again...the Sainsbury's bakery butter-enriched shortcrust mince pies, and the Mr Kipling mince pies.

1. Sainsbury's Bakery butter-enriched shortcrust mince pies. £1.00
Every year these mince pies are my favourites, so I guess I'm slightly biased. But there is a good reason why they are the winner every year... the pastry is a perfect blend of butteryness and sugar, while the mince is just right, lovely and fruity and not too rich. They literally melt in your mouth.

2. My Kipling mince pies - £1.79
Just your standard mince pie really, easy to eat, nothing bad to say about it apart from the pastry is quite dry and not buttery at all, but the mince is nice and fruity.
3. Sainsbury's Deep filled mince pies - £1.00 (currently reduced from £1.65)
Dry. Tasteless. Pastry is also far too thick with not enough mince. And the little amount of mince that is in there is far too rich. No wonder they're on special offer!

4. Tesco value mince pies - £1.40
Lets just say I can taste and see why they are only £1.40 for 12. Pastry too dry, tasteless, and the mince tastes incredibly processed and 'airy'. I guess they would be good for a party if you don't really care about your guests taste-buds.
5. Mr Kipling mince pies with custard - £1.79
What. The. Hell. At first I got really excited about mince pies with custard in them...but then I bit into one. They're the lazy person's mince pie, ie; for people who can't be bothered to make their own custard or just open a tin of Ambrosia to put with a normal mince pie. You also can't really taste the it just tastes like a custard pie.
6. Tesco's finest deep filled mince pies - £1.25 (currently reduced from £2.50)
These I was also excited about, especially as the pastry looks delicious, and it says on the box that they are 'laced with Courvoisier VS Cognac'. For a normal person I'm sure these mince pies would be pretty tasty, but unfortunately I am very fussy with my alcohol, and unfortunately these mince pies were literally laced with the stuff. So for me they are a no no. The pastry really was delicious though, very buttery. Just a shame about all the alcohol...far too over-powering. So basically these would be amazing if you liked lots of alcohol and walnuts in your mince pies.
7. Sainsbury's iced-topped mince pies. £1.00 (currently reduced from £1.65)
Ew. What. The. Eff. These were even worse than the custard ones. Icing? On a mince pie? It's just wrong!!! And it tastes wrong!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Tim Minchin.

I first heard of Tim Minchin in 2007, when he appeared on the Australian TV show 'Spicks and Specks'. He sang 6 Foot 4 Kiwi, and I fell in love.
Here is that said song;

As you can probably tell from this video, Tim Minchin is a musical comedy genius. A unique comedian, who looks a bit like a ginger, Australian version of Russell Brand (I think its the long hair and eye-liner that makes him look a bit like Russell Brand). It is only recently that Tim Minchin has become well-known and popular in the UK, but I am very proud to announce that I met him in 2009, at the Bruno premiere in London. Me and two friends got free tickets to the premiere, and so we walked down the red (it was actually black) carpet, and mingled with the stars, before then walking out before the film started, because we had a gig to get to (much to all of the security's shock and horror). While we were mingling with the stars, I noticed Tim Minchin standing in a corner with his heavily pregnant wife. I got incredibly excited, and, ignoring the likes of Isla Fisher, ran over to him to ask for a photo. He seemed shocked, but flattered, and kindly not only took a photo, but also had a nice long chat with me about where we were sitting, and why we were leaving before the film started. He seemed impressed that we were willing to leave a premiere for a gig!
Here is said photo (I was very disappointed that he wasn't sporting the usual eye-liner), please excuse the ugliness;

So anyway, the point of this post is to tell you all to get Tim Minchin in your life! RIGHT NOW! Youtube him, I promise you you will become addicted!! He really is an absolute genius, and such a nice guy as well! Really wish I could have him at my 21st - he would defs be the best person to have at a party!!
Here are some of my favourite songs of his;

PS; To get the blog in the Christmas spirit, there is a mince-pie review coming in the next couple of days! So keep a look out!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Ice-Skating at Somerset House.

Last night a few friends and I went ice-skating at Somerset house. I planned it really well RE travel arrangements...I drove in on Wednesday evening because we went for drinks at the Oxford and Cambridge club, so I left my car in the ROSL car-park, and then got a lift home with a friend who lives near me. Then yesterday morning I got the tube back into central, and spent the afternoon with Mr H (Chris). We went round Harrods (was VERY disappointed with Christmas World this year....soooo small!), then went to the Ice-Cream parlour where I had a huge and incredibly yummy ice-cream! Was amazing!

Then I headed over to ROSL to get changed and ready for ice-skating. After getting ready I spent an hour in the toilets napping on the chaise-longue, as they're re-decorating the drawing room, and then I got chatting to an elderly lady who told me I was beautiful, and at first I thought maybe she was slightly blind or something, but then she proceeded to sit down and paint her nails perfectly - made my day!

After chatting to the little old lady I walked over to Somerset House with my bags and skates. I don't know what it is about London but I always love walking around instead of getting a taxi or tube, especially in the winter when it's all pretty with all the lights.

Just a few of our ice-skating group at the entrance of Somerset House

We had such a great time skating, we had the ice-rink to ourselves most of the time, it was raining so I think that put a lot of people off. It was only the second time I had been skating after my little *ahem* accident 3 years ago...when I broke my sternum, so I was very nervous, lacked confidence etc, no where near as good as I used to be. It's quite sad really, to think what I used to be able to do (spirals, spins, jumps, step-sequences, etc) and now I can barely skate forwards...but despite the nerves, a few of us managed to do Scottish Reeling in the middle of the rink! Impressive or what!!

After ice-skating we were soaked through and absolutely freeeezing, so Lotte and I jumped in a taxi and went to the Carlton Club to sit by the fire, have a girly gossip, and a glass of wine :)

And then after all of that I drove I had my car parked in central for well over 24 hours, didn't have to pay any parking fees, and didn't have to pay the £10 congestion charge - perfect!

All in all a great day!

My HUGE ice-cream at Harrods!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Ceilidh at the Caledonian Club.

Friday night was the Inter-Club Caledonian Club Ceilidh! What an incredible evening!! Huge thanks to everyone involved, was a fantastic night and definitely one of the highlights of the year. The night before, on the Thursday, I went to a Lotte's house for Thanksgiving drinks, and didn't end up leaving until Friday morning due to my intoxicated state, and the fact I was driving home. 

So Friday was a bit of a mad rush. I had to drive home to Uxbridge from Chelsea, go to Uni, go into town, do some work on my dissertation, have a nap, get dressed and ready for the Ceilidh, and then drive back into London. And all of this whilst very hungover! Hence why during the day I only managed to eat a slice of toast...and one raw mushroom (I love raw mushrooms! So much nicer than cooked).

The Ceilidh was a black tie event, so I wore one of my long evening dresses. When I drove in I even managed to find a parking space at the ROSL Clubhouse :O which doesn't happen very often because they only have about five spaces and they're free to all members. So I high-fived my car for being so lucky and then went into ROSL to meet my friend Ciara. We went down to the powder room to do our hair and make-up together whilst having a mini-gossiping session, and then of course we took photos in the loos...I mean come on, it's mandatory!

The classic 'mirror toilet shot' that all girls take
when going out somewhere, complete with big cheesy grins!

When we were all ready and had taken a few photos, we went to find a taxi, and were not impressed at all when a man stole one from us!! How dare he, how ungentlemanly of him. We eventually got one and headed to The Caledonian Club in Belgravia. It only cost £4.80 - bargain! After putting our extra bags and coats in the cloakroom we headed upstairs to where the drinks reception was being held. We were then all led into the room where our three course meal was being served, while bagpipes were played! It was all very exciting!

We had traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for dinner, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the Haggis (Sheep's heart, liver and lungs, cooked in the Sheep's stomach). I very gingerly tasted a tiny bit, and then the pieces gradually got bigger and bigger until I realized I liked it and could then put normal portions in my mouth :) but I then made the mistake of pouring the whole glass of whiskey over it all...and I don't like Whiskey. Woops.

After dinner the dancing started. I'm not the best dancer in the world and it was extremely hot in the ballroom, so I only did a few dances, but it was great fun! And the dance floor was a fully sprung dance floor! It was so cool, when everyone was dancing it bounced! :O You could actually see the floor bouncing up and down! Amazing!

A couple of friends and I left at around 2:30am, and when I got home I discovered I was locked out of my house! So I was standing there at 3am in a ball dress outside my house in the middle of Uxbridge, locked out. Fan-bloody-tastic. I kept trying my key and it just kept turning in the lock and it wouldn't open, but eventually I managed to get hold of one of my housemate's who came downstairs and let me in...turns out they had double bolted it when they'd gone to bed, haha. I don't know what I would have done if I'd been locked out all night, I would have had to of driven back to Guildford, or slept in my car in the driveway :/

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ted Baker Raul Dress.

I want this dress. The Ted Baker Raul Lace Ball Dress. I just need a spare £399....which I don't have right now. Literally the most beautiful dress I have seen for a long time. I am in love.

I can't decide which colour I prefer though - the pink shows off the lace detail more but that colour drains me...and the black is more versatile. Hmm. I think the mauve is my favourite.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Drinks With the Girls.

On Tuesday evening I headed into London to meet a couple of my girlfriends for drinks at the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) on Pall Mall. After two bottles of wine in the Long Bar, a lot of gossiping and catching up, we stumbled around the club to give Ciara a tour, as she hadn't been before.

We got some free champagne (we found it in the library!? It must have been there a while though because it was flat...), and then headed to the TV room to do what girls do best...take photos. To be honest I'm surprised we didn't get kicked out as we were giggling loads...but we had a lot of fun! I guess we were contained in one room though, so it wasn't so bad. Here are just a couple of photos that warm my heart and make me giggle a little :)

Love us

Cutest photo ever? I think so!


Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Savage Club.

Friday night I went to an Inter-Club event at The Savage Club. I made the mistake of wearing shoes I can't really walk in, but they are gorgeous (they're a deep red wine colour), and as I was wearing a black dress I didn't want to wear black shoes as well. But after I had had some wine, they made me look even more drunk than I already was. *sigh*.

Anyway, the event itself was brilliant, so much fun! We had a three course meal upstairs in The National Liberal Club (The Savage Club have always been 'nomads' and resided within another club - currently they are inside The National Liberal Club.), which included a delicious 'Supreme of Pheasant en Croute with a Truffle Jus' for the main course, before entertainment that included a violinist, singers, a pianist, and a comedian. Once the entertainment was over we moved downstairs to the Savage Club for drinks. We didn't end up leaving until about 1:30am! And I'm afraid we only got one photo, we were having far too much of a good time!

The Savage Club is a bad influence on me.


Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest We Forget.

Today is Remembrance Day. Not only is it a day for us to remember those killed and injured in WWI and WWII, but also a day for us to remember those who have been killed and injured in all wars, especially the war still going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's important for us to remember those men and women who died fighting for our country. Everyone will know someone who died for our freedom. Thankfully we only have two members of our family who were killed. So today, on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, I will be remembering Reginald Woodcock, and Henry Ellis. Lest We Forget.

Why do I wear a poppy? I'll tell you if I may,
Because I believe remembrance is not only for one day.
I wear it for the fallen, And for those falling still.
For those who come back broken, in body or in will.
For the parents, spouses, siblings, where bereavement takes its toll.
Whose pain will never leave them, it eats into their soul.
For the wino in the corner, of his old life nothing's left.
Now he wishes when in battle, he had died a hero's death.
For the lad who loved a kick-about, in the park with all his mates,
But now his legs are held together, with pins and metal plates.
For the selfless men and women, whose final journey home,
is in a Union flag-draped coffin, on comrades' shoulders borne.
For all those marching proudly, in Remembrance day parades,
My Poppy's worn in gratitude, for the sacrifice they made.

Henry Ellis
Born 11th January 1887
Died 25th September 1917
Rest In Peace

Laying down flowers when I visited Henry Ellis's grave in 2006. I was an un-cool 15 year old - please excuse the clothes.

Grave number IX.E.20. Duhallow ADS Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Richest Hill on Earth.

This morning when I was at my Grandma's she told me she'd found something exciting, that I was going to love. I guessed it was something to do with the family tree, but I had no idea what it would be exactly. What she produced was incredible. She had been looking for a necklace in my late Grandfather's drawer and found a letter folded up...but it wasn't just any old paper letter. It was a copper letter, from the copper mine in Butte, Montana.

It was dated 28th September 1933, and was from my Great Great Uncle Daniel, to my Great Grandfather (Daniel's brother) Frederick. It also has a small message from Dan and Fred's sister Frances on it, as Frances and her family lived near Daniel in America. We have been researching the family tree for many years now, and I have taken an active role since I was seven years old. It's always been important to me to find out who I am and where I've come from, and I love the rush of adrenaline and excitement you get when you find out something new.

Just to hold an 80 year old letter in my hands, that was written by one of my ancestors, was incredible. It even has their fingerprints very clearly on it! It's very difficult to read, but here are some photos;

Just in case you can't read it, it says;

'Dear Fred
Just a copper souvenir from Butte, the greatest mining camp on Earth. Here on business & pleasure & visiting Frances and the family.
Dan Lux'

The bottom part says;
'Harry Bertrand'
'Kenneth Bertrand'
'Hello Freddie and Minnie, from Frances'
(So I'm guessing they signed their names at the bottom of Dan's letter as a kind of 'Hello/from all of us' thing.)

Anyone know anything about these letters or the copper mines in Butte?!

EDIT: We have now found Harry Bertrand's children and grandchildren in the US (our second and third cousins), and are in regular contact with them! Amazing!

Baby Mini Cooper.

I've spent the past few days at my Grandma's house in North Wales. While I was there I spent a day with my best friend Anna, and 11 month old God-daughter Rosie. We took her to Toys r Us where she had great fun playing in a pink baby Mini Cooper, and then we went into Chester to go for lunch at Zizzi's. We had such a funny day - everything kept going wrong, but it gave us lots to laugh about! 

She looks like a such a little pro with one hand on the wheel and the other on her knee!
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