Friday, 16 November 2018

Annual Christmas shopping trip

For the last ten years or so, my uni friends and I have organised a Christmas shopping get-together just before Christmas. We usually meet in late November or early December, but we met a little earlier this year due to my impending trip to New York.

Our first few meet ups took place in Cribbs Causeway, and we've also met in Cardiff a few times. However, in recent years, we've met in Bristol city centre as that's the most convenient meeting point for the majority of the group.

Our trip was scheduled in for last Sunday and I decided to catch the Megabus to Bristol. It only cost £10 for a return ticket and it was certainly a lot more relaxing than trying to drive my way around Bristol. I took a photo of City Hall from the bus just before I left Cardiff, purely because of the unexpected rainbow!

It was raining when I left Cardiff, but I was met with brilliant sunshine and blue skies when I arrived in Bristol. I wandered around a couple of shops and made some standard purchases from Lush before making my way to our meeting point on Park Street. I got trapped in the massive Remembrance Day crowd while I walked to Park Street, so I stopped for a while to watch some of the ceremony and to pay my respects by observing the two minute silence.

We all met just before 12 and decided to go straight for lunch. These days, there's a lot more focus on eating and talking than there is on actual shopping during our meet ups. Our go-to restaurant is Pizza Express as there's always something on the menu to suit everyone, so we made our way there immediately.

I ordered a pink gin cocktail and the ragu romana pizza. I don't think my pizza was quite as good as last year's festive beauty, but it was still pretty excellent. To be fair, I don't think I've ever been disappointed by a meal in Pizza Express.

After a long lunch with lots of catching up, we looked around a few of the pretty shops on Park Street. Although I didn't buy much as I've nearly finished my Christmas shopping, I always love looking around the beautiful independent shops and soaking in the Christmassy atmosphere.

I needed to get back to the Megabus stop by 4:30pm, so we finished off the day with a caramelised orange hot chocolate in Costa. Let's be honest, no Christmas shopping trip is complete without a Christmas hot chocolate with all the trimmings. I did accidentally ask for a caramelised onion hot chocolate which was pretty embarrassing, but let's gloss over that part.

I was completely exhausted by the time I got on the bus. I even managed to have a little nap on the journey back to Cardiff which is unheard of for me. I loved catching up with everyone and sampling Bristol's Christmassy atmosphere, and it feels pretty exciting that one of my pre-Christmas staples has already taken place. 39 days to go until the big day!

Friday, 9 November 2018

Our travel adventures as husband and wife

We're off to New York in just over three weeks! We haven't had more than a couple of days off work since our last big holiday in May, so we're very excited about our pre-Christmas getaway.

We travelled to New York together for the first time in February 2013. It was one of our first holidays together as a couple and, in some ways, it feels as if it happened a whole lifetime ago. This got me thinking about all the places we've travelled to together since then... cue blogging inspiration alert.

I decided to focus on the holidays we've been on since we got married in August 2014. We didn't get photos of the two of us on every occasion, but I'm quite impressed that we managed as many as we did considering we don't particularly like having our photos taken.

Please excuse the inconsistent photo sizes... we've both had lots of different cameras and phones over the last four years! 

Rome, September 2014

We went to Rome for the first leg of our honeymoon. Rome is an amazing place and we loved the four days we spent there, apart from the stress of trying to cross their hectic roads.

Lake Garda, September 2014

The second leg of our honeymoon was spent in beautiful Malcesine. A completely different pace to Rome with breathtaking beauty at every turn.

Venice, September 2014

The last leg of our honeymoon was spent in Venice. More beautiful views, architecture and food... it's safe to say that we were well and truly in love with Italy by the time we left.

Disneyland Paris, December 2014

We went to Disneyland Paris for the first time in December 2014. We couldn't afford to go to Walt Disney World in 2014 due to our wedding and honeymoon but we still wanted our Disney fix. Disney + Christmas = perfection!

Amalfi, April 2015

We decided we wanted to see a different part of Italy in 2015, so we went to Amalfi on the Amalfi Coast.  Definitely one of the most beautiful coastlines I've ever seen in my life.

Walt Disney World, September 2015

It was finally time to go back to our favourite place in the world in September 2015. This was our first trip back to Florida since we got engaged there in 2013, so it was an extra special holiday for us.

Toronto, March 2016

We spent a week in Toronto in March 2016. Toronto is an incredible city with loads to see, and we also went on a day trip to Niagara Falls while we were there.

Walt Disney World, September 2016

Surprise surprise, we ended up back in Walt Disney World in September 2016. Although this trip was overshadowed by my cancer diagnosis, escaping to the most magical place on earth for two weeks was the ideal distraction.

London, October 2016

We went on an overnight theatre break to London in October 2016 to see Aladdin at the West End. I was still recovering from my operation so we had a slow couple of days, and it was lovely to get away for a night.

London, March 2017

We booked another theatre break in March 2017 as we loved the first one so much. This time we went to see The Lion King and it was absolutely amazing.

Walt Disney World, April 2017

I know I know, we can't keep away. This trip was only eight months after the last one which meant we didn't have to wait quite so long for it to arrive!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, August 2017

I bought tickets for us to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Watford for Neil's birthday back in March. We booked our trip in August to coincide with our anniversary, and we had a brilliant time.

Florence, October 2017

It was time for us to try yet another part of Italy in October 2017. We loved Florence and I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for the perfect mix of culture, city life and relaxation.

Walt Disney World, May 2018

Back again... yes, we do enjoy going back to Walt Disney World every year. We just love it that much!

Llangennith, October 2018

We went on our first holiday with Jessie in October. It was so lovely to be able to take Jessie with us and we'll definitely be planning more dog-friendly weekends away in the near future.

Next stop... New York! 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Why autumn is my favourite season

While everyone else was basking in June and July's heatwave, I secretly couldn't wait for autumn to arrive.

The house was unbearably hot, the office was unbearably hot, the great outdoors was unbearably hot. Everywhere and everything was unbearably hot and I longed for the day when it would be cool enough to wear my tights and boots again.

August came along and decided to be its usual frizz-inducing hot and rainy self, so I was delighted when autumn finally announced itself.

Here are just a few reasons why autumn is my favourite season...

1. Memories 

I don't think summer will ever feel the same for me after the events of two years ago. The summer of 2016 was riddled with tests and uncertainty, and every summer since has brought back vivid memories of that horrible time. Once October arrives and autumn is in full swing, I instantly feel a little better.

2. The cooler weather 

I absolutely adore dry autumnal days. Cold, crisp and sunny days are far more enjoyable than a sweltering hot day, in my humble heatwave-hating opinion.

3. Ugg boots 

Following on from the previous point, autumn provides the ideal weather for my beloved collection of Ugg boots. Dry and cold is the perfect combination for these comfy beauties!

4. Wearing all the layers

Wrapping myself up in a big coat, jumper, hat, scarf and gloves makes me inexplicably happy. I feel a little incomplete in the summer without all my cosy layers and accessories, and autumn's cooler weather also means I've got more items to colour-coordinate. What's not to love?

5. Pretty trees 

I love autumn leaves, whether they're still attached to trees or if they've fallen on the ground. They're beautifully instagrammable, they make me smile, and they can brighten up the dullest of days.

6. Jessie's favourite season 

Autumn is also Jessie's favourite season. The summer is too hot for her as she's got such a thick fur coat, and I felt so terrible for her during the heatwave. She couldn't go for long walks and couldn't even get particularly cool at home, so she's in her element at this time of year.

7. Catching up with friends

I always seem to cram most of my meet ups with friends who don't live locally into the autumn. I caught up with Sarah, Liz and Fee last month and have got another few outings planned for this month, including the annual Christmas shopping trip with my university friends (which generally involves more eating than shopping).

8. Candles 

I light candles all year round, but I love bringing out the autumnal and Christmassy scents once October arrives. Is there anything better than lighting a cinnamon-scented candle and curling up on the sofa in your pyjamas with a hot chocolate and a good book?

9. Hot chocolate 

Talking of hot chocolate... I know I drink a lot of it all year round, but it feels like an extra special treat when I drink it during the autumn months. I had to stay away from hot chocolate during the heatwave which made me even more grumpy!

10. Christmas! 

Once autumn is here, I can officially start my Christmas shopping. Once I've started my Christmas shopping, it's only a matter of time until I can start sneakily adding Christmas touches to the house and digging out my Christmas jumpers. And now that Halloween is over and November is here, it really is nearly Christmas!

What's your favourite season? Are there any other autumnal fans out there? 

Friday, 26 October 2018

Two years in the clear

Last Friday, I had one of my regular check-up appointments at the hospital and was thankfully given the all clear at the two year mark.

This might sound strange and a little ungrateful, but being told I'm in the clear doesn't immediately fill me with elation and make me want to celebrate. If I'm completely honest, it always feels a little... hollow.

I've blogged in the past about how anxious these appointments make me feel, and it takes me a long time to recover afterwards even if the outcome is positive. And, in addition to the lingering anxiety, there's always that small voice in my head that says, 'But things aren't positive, I'm still left with the impact of the cancer and the surgery and nothing will ever change that.' When that little voice gets louder and more vociferous, it's quite easy to slip into a pattern of feeling angry about the whole situation rather than focusing on the good news.

I've now progressed to annual appointments after being on six monthly appointments for the last year. Again, I've had lots of mixed feelings about this. Part of me is pleased because of the dread that sets in before these appointments, but another part of me likes the reassurance of being told by an expert that there's nothing sinister lurking around. I've also got ongoing appointments at the hospital about related issues which means I won't be able to enjoy a twelve month break away from the place in reality.

So, as you can see, there are currently lots of mixed feelings circling around in my brain and it can sometimes feel as if there's no room for anything else. That's probably a whole other blog post in itself.

Back when I had my first post-op check-up in January 2017, we started a tradition of going out for a nice meal after my appointments. Even if we don't feel as if 'celebrate' is quite the right word to use, it's always important to acknowledge good news, to enjoy the little things and to have something to look forward to. This time around, we decided to book a table at Penarth's Pier64. I'd never been before, but it came highly recommended from Neil and a few of our friends.

I put on a pretty new dress and my favourite burgundy accessories, and we headed to the restaurant by 7pm after a quick photo shoot with Jessie. 

We decided to go all out and order three courses... why ever not? In case you're wondering, I was VERY careful about rolling my sleeves up and not splashing food on my very white dress while I ate. 

I ordered deep fried cauliflower florets to start, sirloin steak with caramelised onions and red wine jus for my main, and lemon posset for dessert. The food was lovely, as was the general atmosphere and decor, and I'd definitely like to go back to Pier64 next time we're celebrating a special occasion. 

How do you 'celebrate' after difficult appointments or occasions? Let me know if you've got any tips on how to deal with the mixed feelings I've mentioned in this post... 

Friday, 19 October 2018

My unpopular opinions on Walt Disney World

I love reading 'unpopular opinion' blog posts so I decided it was time I wrote one of my own. I might well have unpopular opinions on all manner of things, but I thought I'd start by blogging specifically about my unpopular Walt Disney World opinions.

I don't understand the massive Starbucks obsession

I'm quite partial to a Starbucks hot chocolate when I'm at home. However, I really can't understand why people flock to Starbucks in Walt Disney World when there are so many other amazing options available. Why would you spend money on a drink you can buy on your nearest high street when there are so many delicious park-exclusive beverages to try?

I don't like the Carousel of Progress

I've only been on the Carousel of Progress once and I really didn't like it. It's one of those classic rides that everyone seems to love, but it didn't do anything for me. It did break while I was on it which meant I had to watch the same scene about six times, but I don't think I'd have loved it whether it was working or not.

I don't enjoy meeting 'face' characters

As I've mentioned before, meeting characters isn't a huge priority for me when we go to Walt Disney World. When I do meet characters, it's absolutely essential that they're 'costume' characters who don't have the ability to talk to me. I have no idea how to talk to characters and just thinking about it makes me cringe.

I don't see the point of posing in front of walls

I'm on Instagram and I love Disney so I should enjoy posing in front of the bubblegum wall, right? Wrong. I'd prefer to pose for a photo with a beautiful backdrop, and Walt Disney World certainly isn't short of beautiful backdrops. I've also never been a fan of copying what everyone else is doing, and it does sometimes feel as if everyone in the world is posing for bubblegum wall photos.

Children shouldn't be allowed to sit on adults' shoulders during shows and parades

Why do people think it's acceptable to block everyone else's view by lifting a child onto their shoulders? Pick them up so that their head is level with yours by all means, but don't be selfish. Children don't have a special right to a better view than everyone else. Don't even get me started on adults who push children (who are often as tall as I am) to the front when I've queued for the perfect spot for an hour...

I can't stand the thought of eating a turkey leg

I've tried and loved most of the classic Disney snacks, but I will never understand how people can eat those gigantic turkey legs. Even the thought of them makes me feel sick. Give me a massive sugary snack over a meaty one any day!

Hollywood Studios is my least favourite Disney park

Hollywood Studios has always been my least favourite park since I started going to Walt Disney World in 2012. Although I love some of the rides and attractions there, particularly the Tower of Terror and the Beauty and the Beast show, it doesn't hold the same appeal as the other parks do for me.

There's no need to film every ride, every show and every parade

I often wonder what it must have been like to visit a Disney park before camera phones were invented. I don't understand why people feel the need to film every ride, show and parade... when are you ever going to watch those videos? I get irrationally annoyed when I have to watch something through someone's phone screen because they insist on filming everything and blocking my view.

Do you agree with any of my opinions? Do you have any unpopular opinions of your own to share? Let me know!

Friday, 12 October 2018

A weekend away in the Gower

Last weekend, we took Jessie on her very first holiday. She stayed in my parents' house with us for one night last Christmas, but the three of us had never been on a proper holiday together until last weekend.

We'd been researching dog-friendly hotels in the Gower for a while, then one of our friends recommended the King's Head Inn in Llangennith which sounded perfect. The Gower is an ideal distance for a two night stay, and it also meant we could stay at my parents' house for the third night as they don't live too far from there.

We finished our packing on the Friday morning, then left for Llangennith at around 2pm. If I'm being completely honest, it probably took me longer to pack Jessie's things than to pack my own belongings. I bought a new backpack for her to mark the occasion which she seemed pretty excited about, even if that's not particularly evident in this photo.

It took us just over an hour to get to the King's Head Inn. We'd been allocated a spacious ground floor room, and the pub itself where we'd eat our breakfast and dinner was only a stone's throw away. 

We went out for a walk to explore our surroundings as soon as we'd unpacked. The clouds were beginning to gather and we were concerned that it might rain, so we were eager to do some exploring before the weather turned. We walked towards Rhossili for about half an hour but decided to turn back before catching a glimpse of the beach. We had the whole of Saturday to explore and didn't want to tire Jessie's little legs out too much on the first day. In true holiday style, we did make time for a family selfie before making our way back down the hill! 

We had a glass of wine and a beer in the pub's outdoor seating area before making our way back to our room to feed Jessie and to get ready for our evening meal. The pub had a dog-friendly eating area which meant we were able to take Jessie along with us for all our meals. We met dogs of all shapes and sizes in the pub over the two days and Jessie made lots of new friends. On the Friday evening, she even felt comfortable enough to steal another dog's chew when they took their eyes off it for five seconds. Naughty Jessie! 

It was forecast to rain pretty much all day on Saturday and, true to form, it was pouring down when we went for breakfast. We were trying to decide how to deal with the wet weather while we ate our breakfast, then we looked out of the window and realised it was brightening up. We thankfully didn't see another drop of rain all day, and we were pretty delighted that the forecast was wrong. 

After breakfast, we got ready to set off for a long walk. We decided to take a different route to the one we took on Friday afternoon for a change of scenery. We walked through the village to Hillend campsite, then on to Llangennith Beach from there. It was Jessie's first time at the beach and she loved it. She seemed fairly non-plussed about the sea, but she was definitely a very big fan of the sand and the shells.

We had a little paddle with Jessie in the sea and walked along the beach for quite a while, then we turned and walked back towards the campsite entrance. We stopped outside a little cafe for a hot drink and some toasted teacakes (and some treats for Jessie), then we walked back to the pub for an afternoon drink to reward ourselves for completing such a long walk. 

We then had a couple of hours to relax before heading back out for our evening meal. We met the usual crowd of dogs and their owners, but all the dogs and humans were noticeably much more tired than they'd been the night before after walking all day! Poor Jessie was completely zonked and was fast asleep within minutes of us getting back to our room. 

On Sunday morning, we had breakfast then drove to my parents' house after we'd checked out of our room. My brother happened to be staying for the weekend so it was great to be able to catch up with him too, and Jessie loved all the extra attention. My mother cooked a lovely Sunday lunch, then we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon and evening interspersed with a couple of little walks for Jessie. She was very excited about seeing everyone but was clearly still exhausted from her exciting exertions the day before. 

We went for a hot chocolate and a cake in Costa with my parents on Monday morning before heading back to Penarth in the afternoon. We immediately threw ourselves back into reality and did all our unpacking, laundry and food shopping in record time ready to go back to work the following day. 

It was so lovely to spend a proper long weekend with Neil and to be able to take Jessie with us wherever we went, as well as having the opportunity to catch up with my parents and my brother. It's no secret that I love going on holiday (who doesn't)?, but there's always a tinge of sadness when we leave Jessie behind which is why this one was so enjoyable. We'll definitely be booking to go back to Llangennith at some point! 

Have you taken your dog on holiday recently? Let me know if you've got any recommendations! 

Friday, 28 September 2018

Ten things I love about blogging

If you've read last week's blog post, you'll already know that blogging is one of the new hobbies I've picked up over the last few years.

Inspired by Cat's blog post a couple of months ago, I thought it was about time I blogged about why I enjoy blogging so much. This also means I had the opportunity to make use of one of my greatest loves... a list!

1. I like to think of my blog as a digital journal or scrapbook. Although I look back at some of my older posts and cringe at the quality of the photography and sometimes even the writing, it's nice to be able to look back at the things I've shared over the years and to relive some of those memories.

2. I find it much easier to write about things than to talk about them. I've shared some very personal posts on this blog over the last two years since my cancer diagnosis, and it always feels very therapeutic to be able to get those feelings down on paper (or on screen).

3. Following on from the last point, writing is a great distraction for me when I need to escape from whatever thoughts I've got whirring around in my busy brain. Writing also helps me to be more mindful and to anchor myself in the present moment, which can only be a good thing.

4. Instagram is my favourite social networking platform, and I like to think of my blog as an extension or a supplement for my Instagram grid. If I've been somewhere instagrammable and shared lots of photos on Instagram, you can almost certainly expect a follow-up blog post on the topic.

5. I publish a new blog post every Friday at 5pm, and I've found that having such a defined schedule has really helped me to brainstorm and organise ideas for new content. When I used to publish hap-hazardly a few years ago, I'd either go for weeks without posting anything or I'd enthusiastically post a few times per week and use up all my ideas too quickly.

6. I particularly enjoy stretching blog posts on a certain topic into a series, such as my 'Twelve posts of Christmas' series or birthday haul posts. It makes my content last for a few weeks and also makes the posts more digestible for my readers.

7. Very few people read my blog, if I'm completely honest. However, although I'd be lying if I said I never got annoyed about this, I do blog for my own enjoyment first and foremost which means it doesn't really matter how many people read my posts in the grand scheme of things.

8. I'm pretty shy in real life. Blogging has allowed me to find my own voice and to share my experiences, all from the comfort of my laptop while wearing my pyjamas and drinking a hot chocolate.

9. I don't blog about divisive topics. This is partly because I've always worked in places where I have to remain politically neutral, but also because my blog is my happy place. I blog about whatever I want to blog about, and not necessarily about whatever everyone else is talking about.

10. Last but not least, my blog serves as my 'brain dump' for photos, exciting times, new adventures and, occasionally (see point 2!), difficult times. I love having a little corner of the internet that's all mine where I can document snippets of my life and blog about the simple little things that make me happy.

Have you blogged about why you love blogging? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 21 September 2018

Hobbies of an early-30-something

During that hazy twenty minutes between my alarm going off and eventually forcing myself out of bed, I always have a quick scroll through the day's Timehop memories. I joined Facebook about 11 years ago which means that Timehop now shows me updates from as far back as 2007. I was in my third year of university for the first half of 2007 and worked in Tesco for the last half, so life was very different back then.

My daily trip down memory lane has made me realise that my hobbies and interests have changed quite a bit over the last ten years as I've got older and my lifestyle and priorities have changed. I enthusiastically decided a few weeks ago that this would make an excellent topic for a blog post.

So, here's a bit of an audit on how my hobbies have changed from my early 20s to my early 30s...

New hobbies

I set up my blog in 2011 and have been blogging pretty regularly since, particularly over the last five years. Blogging is a great creative outlet for me and I do genuinely enjoy updating my own little corner of the internet.

Although I used to walk everywhere when I was a student, that was more out of necessity rather than because I enjoyed it. I couldn't afford to pay for taxis and I didn't pass my driving test until I was 21, so walking felt like a bit of a chore. Nowadays, I love going out for walks around our beautiful local areas.

Eating Believe it or not, I used to be quite a fussy eater when I was younger. While I was at university and for a couple of years afterwards, I didn't really appreciate the joy of food like I do now. I'm not a very good cook and I couldn't afford to eat out much, so I used to live on pasta and beans on toast. These days, it won't surprise you to hear that I LOVE eating. 

Walt Disney World
I went to Walt Disney World for the first time when I was 25 and I well and truly caught the bug. I've been six times since then and fully intend to go back next year.

I've always worn pyjamas (obviously), but I've only started getting really excited about them during the last few years. I think I prefer shopping for new pyjamas than shopping for actual clothes.

I was absolutely terrified of dogs in my early 20s. Now, I think I actually prefer dogs to people most of the time and I've even got my own amazing dog.

Old hobbies

In my early 20s and for many years before that, I used to spend an absolute fortune on rugby tickets. I went to watch Swansea playing regularly when I was still in school, and I bought tickets to watch both Cardiff and Wales on a regular basis throughout my time at university. These days, I'm not bothered about watching the games on TV let alone in real life. I'm not sure when I fell out of love with it, but at some point it just stopped being a priority for me.

Collecting newspaper cuttings
Anyone who has ever lived with me will know that my bedroom walls and furniture used to be completely covered in newspaper cuttings featuring my favourite rugby memories, my favourite rugby players and my favourite celebrities. I also had separate folders full of cuttings which I couldn't fit on the walls. About six years ago, I decided that my bedroom walls looked much nicer without all that clutter and I haven't looked back since! 

Going out on a Friday and/or Saturday night
I used to go out quite regularly at the weekends in my early 20s, but these days I love nothing more than to curl up in my aforementioned pyjamas on a Saturday night with a film and a hot chocolate (and perhaps a glass of wine if I'm feeling adventurous).

Hobbies that have lasted the distance

I've loved reading since I was about four years old when I used to devour new Enid Blyton books every day. My love for reading has never wavered, and I hope it never will.

I started going to the gym during my second year at university. I've been a member of a few different gyms over the years and have experimented with exercise classes, cardio and weight training. This is definitely a hobby that's remained very constant over the last ten years or so.

My love for Disney has grown since I started visiting Walt Disney World (and so has my collection of Mickey ears), but it's always been there since I was a little girl who was obsessed with 101 Dalmatians, Bambi and the Jungle Book.

Listening to music became a hobby in my mid teens, and it's still up there as one of my favourites. My music taste hasn't really changed since then... I'm currently listening to S Club 7's Greatest Hits.

I did have quite a big gap where I didn't watch Neighbours for a few years during my mid 20s, but it's well and truly back in my life now and brightening up my evenings.

Buying pink things 
This isn't really a hobby as such, but pink has been my favourite colour for as long as I can remember and that remains the case to this day!

How have your hobbies changed over the last ten years? 

Friday, 14 September 2018

A summer of afternoon teas

Before last month, I'd only been for one afternoon tea in 2018. Can you believe it?

Thankfully, this precarious situation has been rectified over the last few weeks and I've been for two afternoon teas with lovely people. The first one was a brand new experience and the second was in one of my favourite haunts, so I thought I'd blog about them both to give you a bit of a flavour!

Sarah bought a voucher for a Mad Hatter's afternoon tea in Llety Cynin for my birthday back in June. We decided to book it for a Saturday in mid August as a mid point between both our birthdays. I stayed in Sarah's house on the Friday night to make a proper weekend of it, and we drove to Llety Cynin on the Saturday afternoon with high expectations.

From the minute we arrived, we definitely weren't disappointed. The function room was smaller than expected and only had about six tables, but this was a good thing as it meant our food was brought out quickly and it was nice and quiet. The room was perfectly themed and we even had photo props on our table. It was immediately clear that a lot of thought had gone into the whole afternoon tea experience as well as the food itself.

I had a peach iced tea to start which was tasty and refreshing. We were told we could have tea, coffee or iced tea to drink, or all three if we were so inclined! Unlimited drink refills were also made available for us if we wanted them, free of charge. 

The food came out within about ten minutes and it was a very impressive sight, to put it mildly. I loved the effort that had gone into the presentation, mostly because it made it very instagrammable. We had a selection of sandwiches, chive scones with cream cheese and parma ham, and an amazing selection of cakes.

The cakes were all homemade, including the Jammy Dodger, and the macaron was one of the best cakes I've ever had at an afternoon tea. I didn't need to eat anything for the rest of the day which is always a good sign that they didn't skimp on the portions. 

A few weeks after my great experience at Llety Cynin's Mad Hatter's afternoon tea with Sarah, Liz came to visit for a few hours on a lovely sunny day. We booked a table at Pettigrew Tea Rooms as it's one of our old favourites, and Liz also brought Abigail along (her 8 month old baby) for her very first afternoon tea experience!

One of the many plus points for Pettigrew Tea Rooms is that you have loads of choice when it comes to your drink, sandwiches, scones and cake. They have a great choice of flavoured teas on offer, as well as coffee and hot chocolate. I went for the Mango Noir tea as I'd never tried it before, and I managed to drink an entire teapot of it. 

We chose egg mayonnaise, brie and fruit chutney, and cheddar and tomato on mixed bread for our sandwiches, and we also had fruit scones with all the trimmings. And, as is customary at Pettigrew Tea Rooms, we had a massive slab of cake to finish. We both opted for the Passionfruit, Lime and Coconut loaf cake to take away and it was scrumptious. I was a little bit gutted that I offered to share it with Neil.. that'll teach me for trying to be thoughtful. 

I'm on a mission to make sure I book in a couple more afternoon teas before the end of 2018, and I've already got one booked in tomorrow with Amy which I'm very excited about. As always, keep an eye on my Instagram for updates. 

Do you have any afternoon tea recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!