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The Life & Adventures of Laura The triumphs and tribulations of UK living & teaching.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 7 February 2016 | Views [648]

Where has January gone? I currently seem to be measuring time by looking at the expiry dates on food in my fridge and making remarks such as ‘4th of February … crap that needs to go in the freezer.’ 

I’ve lost a bit of time this week – Friday definitely felt like Thursday, although I’m not complaining because usually I feel like Wednesday is surely Friday! It’s been a bit of a doozy of a week that started off on Tuesday night with me slipping over in the shower (one of those stupid bath and shower combinations that is not suitable for the unco-ordinated like myself.) Luckily I didn’t break anything, but it did result in two whopper bruises (Emily, if you’re reading, think of the killer bruise you got a Buller when avoiding that kid that skied in your way) on my hip and knee. I went to bed feeling sore and sorry for myself, but grateful to be in one piece, to wake at 4am with killer pains in my stomach. Unfortunately they wouldn’t go away and I found myself in hospital for the day. After two separate trips to A&E, 2 blood tests, 3 cannulas, two vials of anti nausea medication and just enough morphine to send my head spinning, I was diagnosed with gastritis and in a comfy enough state to go home. Unfortunately my arms now look like pin cushions as my veins are very hard to find, and even required an ultrasound to locate the third time round! Luckily it’s easy to treat, and hopefully it won’t happen again.

Pete has a two word answer when I remark that I don’t know where January has gone…. wedding planning.  In a matter of a month we have booked and confirmed nearly every element of the wedding with invitations to hit people’s mailboxes shortly. I am pretty proud of our efforts since we are co-ordinating everything from overseas with the help of a few key people back at home. Luckily we’ve found some awesome suppliers and made a just under 3 month international engagement possible! Today we spent what was probably the windiest day of the year traipsing around Brighton to have some engagement photos taken. We’ve taken some really fun and iconic shots, and can’t wait to share them in a few weeks time.

We were lucky enough to have two weeks off over Christmas and decided to spend them exploring the UK. We headed of to friends in Oxford for Christmas and had a wonderful day. For me ,sharing Christmas with a big group of people and eating turkey and all of the traditional Christmas foods in the cold weather had a lot more spirit than a summer Christmas and for once I actually ate the turkey! From Oxford we headed over the border into Wales, with our first stop being in the northern town of Llangollen.  As one former colleague described me, I am a secret nerd, and have always dreamed of taking a barge over the Pontcysllte aqueduct. A boat, on a canal that is a bridge…. now that is just a little bit cool huh?! The trip lived up to expectations and we had a great time drinking mulled wine, eating mince pies and singing Christmas carols.

We stayed in a room right on the river and enjoyed some lovely walks. They’d recently opened the dam, so the water was high and flowing fast. Some daring people were even taking to it in kayaks, which was a sight to see. Next we headed off to Porthmadogg a 45-minute drive away through Snowdonia National Park. Although it was the wrong time of year for ascending Mount Snowdon, we enjoyed the rain cascading down the mountains in mini waterfalls and a vintage train ride from Porthmadogg to Ffestinog.  After a cosy night at a small boutique hotel, we drove another 45 minutes north to Caernarfon.

In true Laura spirit, I left the Wales guidebook Pete got me for Christmas at home on the coffee table as we were leaving, but none the less, Caernarfon Castle was one of the gems we ‘stumbled upon’ should we have used the guide book to plan our journey.  It was also in Caernarfon I realised I’d left my bathers behind which were going to be essential in a few days time in Bath…. things were going well. We had a fabulous time exploring the castle and a deluxe birthday dinner at a gastro pub. Our B&B was wasn’t very busy, so we got pick of rooms and chose an apartment style room with a large bathroom featuring a claw foot bath. It was absolute bliss and a fabulous way to spend a birthday. The following morning, I ticked trying Welsh rarebit (fancy welsh cheese sauce) on toast off my list before we said goodbye to our host and buckled in for the journey to Cardiff.

After a few days in the country it was nice to see the city. We had great views of the river, park and castle from our hotel and were walking distance from everywhere. We had no set plans other than Cardiff Castle and ice-skating, and enjoyed our time exploring the city and having a cheeky cocktail or two. The city itself is quite small, but very pretty and features some sites such as the church that Roald Dahl was baptised in. It was definitely worth a visit and the behind the scenes tour of the castle lead us to some spectacular rooms.

On New Years Eve, we had a lovely pub meal before heading out to Winter Wonderland for a midnight skate. Whilst the rink was crowded and bumpy, we enjoyed watching the fireworks and ringing the New Year on the ice. Not long after the clock struck twelve, Pete proposed and brought in the New Year in the most wonderful way.

A little tired after new years, we spent New Years Day driving back into England to explore Bath. Because of the public holiday, the thermal baths for swimming were closed, so I booked us into a hotel with thermal baths inside of them.  Because of the new year, we had unrestricted access to the Turkish Baths. The baths included plunge pools, infrared and traditional saunas, a steam room, a thermal pool with water fountains to massage you, and the one thing I couldn’t get over … an alcove with a lion in it that had lavender scented ice coming out of it’s mouth into a glass bowl so you could cool yourself down post steam room. If that wasn’t enough you could have a cool floral water or cup of thick chocolate to drink whilst you did the ‘circuit’. I think I’ve told Pete I want to go back about 50 times since! It was the most relaxing experience and the hotel itself was stunning with a giant king size bed so high you almost had to climb up into it … amazing.

Aside from the luxe hotel, we both loved Bath. The ancient Roman baths were a site to behold and the site was amazingly restored. It was incredible to see such clever ideas being implemented so many years ago. Visiting places such as this as special to us because they are so different to anything we have in Australia and it is amazing to take a journey back in time.

We had a wonderful week and a bit in Wales and Bath and were sad to return home and back to work. Luckily this term is just a quickie and we are off to Sweden in the term break chasing the Northern Lights. But that is a story for another time.


Laura & Pete 

Lately we: got engaged, visited Wales, visited Bath, became addicted to Turkish Baths, visited A&E, had an engagement photo shoot in Brighton, planned a wedding in a month, took a camera on holidays without a battery in it, hit my head on a stair case in a castle, soaked in a claw foot tub, cooled myself with lavender ice that came out of a stone lion’s mouth, took a quick detour to Stratford Upon Avon (Shakespeare's Birthplace), ate the last of our Tim Tams! 

Tags: a&e, bath, caernarfon, cardiff, christmas, engaged, romans, turkish baths, wales



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