Monday, 14 January 2019

Best of 2018

I always enjoy writing my 'best of' posts at the end of every year. In case you missed it twelve months ago, you can read last year's post here!

2018 had a difficult ending as we had some bad news just after getting back from New York. It's much easier to focus on the negatives when the chips are down, and these types of posts help to remind me that there were lots of good times to be thankful for in 2018.

You might notice that there's a definite 'food and Jessie' theme running throughout which pretty much sums up my day-to-day life. I'm perfectly fine with that.

I haven't been able to include every highlight which is always a good sign that it was a full and busy year, but here are some of my favourite moments from 2018.

Fake Christmas 

The annual Fake Christmas tradition with my university friends continued last January. Liz was my Secret Santa and I think you'll all agree that these gifts are perfect for me. 

Sunday lunch at the Vale Resort 

Neil's parents bought us a voucher for Sunday lunch at the Vale Resort for our third wedding anniversary, and we finally had the chance to redeem it last February. I blogged about it here

Went out for dinner with Sophie 

Sophie and I went to Penarth's Etc one evening in February for a nice dinner and cocktails. We left our husbands at home with the Playstation and takeaway pizza! 

Jessie's first snow

We had a crazy amount of snow at the beginning of March. Although she was extremely confused at first, Jessie loved it once her little legs had found their bearings.

Afternoon tea at Machynys Golf Club and Spa

I had a lovely week off before starting my new job last March. The week included a few days at my parents' house and afternoon tea and a manicure at Machynys with Nicola.

New job 

That leads me nicely on to one of my biggest highlights of 2018... starting my new job in March! I bought myself this 'celebration' necklace from Clogau as a treat to mark the occasion. 

Jessie's first birthday 

We celebrated Jessie's first birthday in April and she was spoilt rotten (even more so than usual). I blogged about it here.  

A weekend with my uni friends

I spent the weekend in Bristol with my university friends in April. We don't get to catch up very often so it was lovely to see everyone so soon after our Fake Christmas shenanigans.  

18 months all clear 

We had dinner at Viva Brazil in April to celebrate me being all clear at the 18 month mark. I had a procedure during the same week to get an irritating long-term eye problem sorted, hence the need for glasses in this photo! Horrible procedure, great result. 

Final support group meeting and lunch 

My support group sadly came to an end in 2018 due to funding cuts. The end of the group obviously wasn't something to celebrate, but we all had a lovely afternoon after our final meeting with a plastic jug of pink Prosecco... perils of eating out in Cardiff on a rugby day.  

Walt Disney World 

Neil and I spent an amazing fortnight in Florida's Walt Disney World in May. It's my favourite place in the world, and you can read a photographic summary of our trip here

My birthday 

We celebrated my birthday with lots of eating, shopping and more eating. I blogged about it here

Finished our major re-decorating project 

We finally finished re-decorating our house (for now), including a beautiful pink, grey and white makeover for our bedroom. I blogged about it here

Mad Hatter's afternoon tea with Sarah 

Sarah bought me a voucher for this amazing afternoon tea as a birthday gift, and we went together in August. I blogged about it here

Fourth wedding anniversary 

We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary with a meal in Llanerch Vineyard and some lovely gifts. I blogged about it here

Afternoon tea with Liz and Abbie 

I went back to Pettigrew Tea Rooms in September after a long (for me) absence and had afternoon tea with Liz and baby Abbie. I blogged about it here

Afternoon tea in Portishead with Amy 

I visited Amy for the day in September and we had an absolutely MASSIVE afternoon tea in Portishead. 

Weekend with Sarah

Sarah came to visit for the weekend at the end of September. We drank Prosecco, went for a nice walk around Cardiff Bay, and had pancakes in Bill's for breakfast. 


Neil and I took Jessie on her first holiday and spent a lovely few days in Llangennith, followed by a day at my parents' house. I blogged about it here

Visited Fee in Milton Keynes 

I spent a lovely weekend with Fee and Liz in October. The weekend was obviously structured around food... always the best way to structure a weekend. We did do a bit of walking to make up for it. 

Two years all clear 

We had a spectacular meal at Pier 64 in October to celebrate me being all clear at the two year mark. I blogged about it here

Christmas shopping trip in Bristol 

I went to Bristol for the day in November for the traditional Christmas shopping trip with my university friends. I blogged about it here

Afternoon tea with Jo 

I caught up with Jo for the first time in ages in November with yet another delicious afternoon tea in Pettigrew Tea Rooms. 

Weekend with Nicola 

Nicola came to stay for the weekend at the end of November. We did lots of shopping and had afternoon tea in Pettigrew Tea Rooms (I'm sensing a bit of a theme here). 

New York 

Neil and I spent a week in New York at the beginning of December and were completely and utterly wowed by all the Christmas lights. You can read a photographic summary of our trip here

Work Christmas party 

I went to my first work Christmas party with my new colleagues in December. We ate a lovely meal in Las Iguanas then went on to Rum & Fizz before finishing off the evening at Dirty Martini. 


No highlights post would be complete without mentioning Christmas at the end. I blogged about it here, along with a summary of our new year celebrations.

Have you published a 'best of 2018' post? Let me know if so, I'd love to read it! 

Friday, 4 January 2019

Christmas and new year celebrations

Happy new year! I've had a busy couple of weeks over the festive period with my family and friends so I thought I'd write a little summary for my blog.

Friday 21 December

I finished work on the Friday before Christmas and drove straight to McArthur Glen after leaving the office to meet Sarah. We had a massive meal in Frankie and Benny's and wandered around a few shops before exchanging Christmas presents. It was absolutely pouring with rain but that didn't take away from the company and the festive atmosphere.

Saturday 22 December and Sunday 23 December 

Neil and I finished off all our Christmas shopping and wrapping on the Saturday, then we had our own little Christmas Day on the Sunday where we opened our gifts from each other. We also went to the cinema to see the new Fantastic Beasts film, had an Indian takeaway and watched Elf on DVD in the evening.

Christmas Eve

Neil had to work on Christmas Eve which meant I had a quiet start to the day. I did some pre-Christmas cleaning and watched The Holiday, then Neil came back home just after lunch. We then headed to my parents' house with Jessie and a very full car boot! My brother had already arrived so Jessie had plenty of attention to keep her busy. We had a lovely relaxing evening with lots of chocolates, Pringles and Christmas TV.

Christmas Day 

Me, Neil and my brother opened our stockings together on Christmas morning, then the three of us went downstairs with my parents to open our presents under the tree. We had bacon sandwiches for brunch then settled down to watch TV and to play with our respective gifts.

My brother cooked the Christmas dinner and it was scrumptious. After dinner, we all flopped in front of the TV and watched Home Alone 2 and Rise of the Guardians. Jessie was spoilt rotten with lots of new toys and treats, and she was in her element all day. We left my parents' house at around 10pm to drive home, and she slept like a baby all the way back.

Boxing Day 

We went to Neil's parents' house on Boxing Day to spend the day with his parents and sister. We all opened our gifts before eating another lovely lunch, then we watched Paddington and Mrs Doubtfire before Neil and I headed home. I know I say this every year, but I feel very fortunate that we've got so many family members to celebrate the festive season with.

Thursday 27 December 

We had a day to ourselves on the 27th, and I'd well and truly reached the stage where I had no idea what day it was. We took Jessie to Cosmeston for a long walk, then I spent a couple of hours sorting through all my Christmas presents and putting them away (after I'd painstakingly photographed them, of course). As always, I'm hugely grateful to everyone for my thoughtful gifts and I can't wait to use them all.

We had a meat, cheese, chutney and mulled wine feast in the evening. I can confirm that it was just as delicious as it sounds.

Friday 28 December 

On Friday 28th, we drove back to my parents' house to see my sister, brother in law and nephews as they'd arrived there on Boxing Day. Jessie loved all the extra attention, and even my smallest nephew made a fuss of her even though he was nervous at first. We then called in to see Nicola and her two children on our way back to Penarth. I think Jessie and Nicola's eleven-month-old baby were equally fascinated with each other! I had some more lovely gifts to open from my sister and from Nicola, so of course I had to photograph those too.

Saturday 29 December and Sunday 30 December 

We had a quiet weekend recovering from all the festivities and spent lots of quality time with each other and with Jessie. We went in to Cardiff for a few hours and picked up some bargains, and Neil cooked a Christmas dinner just for the two of us which was pretty spectacular (and huge).

New Year's Eve 

We did some shopping in Cardiff Bay in the afternoon then went out with my in-laws for a meal in the evening. We all walked to our local Harvester restaurant which was surprisingly peaceful and quiet. Neil and I somehow managed to get a decent pre-dinner family selfie with Jessie after many failed attempts!

New Year's Day 

We had a nice lie in on New Year's Day before taking Jessie for a walk in the sunshine. We then went to see my in-laws in the afternoon and had another lovely lunch with them before watching The Croods together. I was exhausted in the evening so went to bed before midnight for the first time in ages!

We both had the rest of the week off work so we've managed to get a few bits and pieces sorted around the house as well as lots of shopping, walks with Jessie and a trip to the cinema. We're off to see Neil's auntie tomorrow to finish off our Christmas visits, then we'll be taking the decorations down on Sunday to officially mark the end of our Christmas break (sob).

Hope you've all had a great Christmas and new year!

Friday, 21 December 2018

Christmas in New York

Last week, I blogged about what we got up to in New York.

This week's post will focus specifically on all the beautiful Christmas decorations the city has to offer. After all, there are only 4 days to go until the big day!

The Rockefeller Christmas tree

How could I start with anything else? As I've said numerous times on all my social media channels, I've wanted to see this iconic Christmas tree ever since I saw Home Alone 2. We saw the tree from the back on our first night as we couldn't get anywhere near the front, and even that view made me well up. It was more spectacular than I could ever have imagined.

We visited the Rockefeller Center many times during our trip and managed to see the tree from every angle possible, during the day and the night. Thankfully it wasn't quite as busy as it was on our first night for the rest of the holiday!

The 72ft tree is the focal point of the Rockefeller decorations, and rightly so, but the whole area around the Rockefeller Center is charmingly festive. This includes the famous ice rink and the mesmerising decorations in the Channel Gardens. Every detail was absolutely perfect and I could have stared at it all forever.

Fifth Avenue 

Fifth Avenue was filled with an absolute wealth of decadent Christmas decorations. The extravaganza started with the giant UNICEF crystal snowflake just after clearing Central Park, and everything else just snowballed from that point (see what I did there?).

Lots of the high-end designer shops along Fifth Avenue had beautiful large-scale displays on their storefronts, as well as inventive window displays. It was a pretty impressive sight during the day, let alone at night when everything was all lit up and twinkly.

Saks Fifth Avenue is the avenue's centrepiece during the festive season, and a very impressive one at that. Every night, the store would put on a spectacular lights show with accompanying music which made us feel super Christmassy. As an extra bonus, Saks is situated directly opposite the Rockefeller tree which meant we could spin around and experience both at once. Slightly surreal, but completely magical. 


We only went to Macy's once on our previous trip to New York due to a lack of time, but we became a little obsessed with it this time. It was only a ten minute walk away from our hotel and the store's Christmas decorations, both inside and outside, were out of this world. The decorations on the ground floor were particularly impressive and I couldn't get enough of their giant suspended baubles. They all rotated very slowly which meant it sometimes took about 20 seconds to get a decent shot, but it was completely worth it.

As for the exterior, I honestly felt as if I was an extra in Miracle on 34th Street whenever I walked past. Macy's is an absolutely massive store and they certainly make sure passers-by are swept up in the infectious spirit of Christmas with their beautiful window displays and outdoor decorations. I just wish there was a Macy's in Cardiff! 

Radio City Music Hall

I loved Radio City Music Hall's Christmas display. It was pretty minimal compared to some of the decorations I've raved about already, but something about it just caught my eye whenever we walked past.

The displays in the surrounding area were also really eye catching. I'd seen a lot of them on Instagram before we arrived so I was very excited when we came across them on our first night. Radio City is pretty close to Rockefeller Center so we made sure we saw these decorations several times during our trip. Unfortunately, it was impossible to capture the sheer scale of these displays with a simple photo!

Central Park 

We made a conscious effort to spend quite a bit of time in Central Park during this holiday. On our last day, we wandered to the Wollman Rink... not to ice skate, but for me to take a nice photo. It looked so perfect against the beautiful city backdrop and the blue sky. I know this doesn't strictly fit in with the Christmas decorations theme, but it looks like an idyllic Christmas card so I figured it was fine to include it in this post.

As well as all these notable sights, there were beautiful Christmas trees and decorations in hotel lobbies, shops, apartment entrances and restaurants all over the city. If I'd have had my way, I'd have blagged my way in and taken photos of all of them.

New York City is pretty special whenever you visit, but it was truly magical during the festive season. I'm so glad I was able to experience it and to tick such a big dream off my bucket list.

In the meantime... 'Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!'