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Life Lately :: Summer Holiday in Cascais, Portugal

Dream Team in Cascais - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Long time, no blog. You may have guessed, I’m back at work! Not too long ago, however, I was living it large in the sun. 

I never really expected to be the kind of person that has ‘summer holidays’ where, you know, I actually went on holiday! I tend to be more of a staycation kind of a gal, truth be told.

Mr H and I have had one hell of a hectic first year of marriage, and the only improvement we would have made to our last holiday, our honeymoon in Warsaw, would have been to have been able to have a few days beside a pool. So we booked two weeks in Portugal with that very goal in mind.

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We were delighted to be joined by my fabulous sister T, who managed to wangle 2 weeks leave and joined us from Australia, to celebrate a belated birthday with us. Result!

The first week of our break was spent in Estoril and Cascais, both along the Portuguese coast, about 30 minutes drive from Lisbon. Estoril has a sleepy sort of resort feel about it, and is most famous for the Casino Estoril, said to be the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s Bond novel Casino Royale! Very glam.

Mr Hello and I were booked into a studio apartment in the Hotel Amazonia Estoril. Having booked our August trip in February, we got an excellent deal, and while I wouldn’t necessarily class it as a luxury hotel, it was spotlessly clean, with helpful staff and had a quiet, boutiquey feel about it. It was exactly what we wanted – nothing too crazy or busy, and there were about 10 or so other groups staying at the same time, who, over the course of our week’s stay, we grew to be on polite head-nodding terms with. The exact amount of getting to know people on holiday I wanted to do! You may not believe it, but I occasionally lean towards the antisocial side of things….

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Cascais is definitely more well known for it’s beach and party scene, and this is where we spent most of our time in our week there. It’s very touristy, being a holiday hotspot for the Portuguese as well as those of us from overseas, but very pleasantly so, in my opinion.

We walked and walked and…..walked over our first week. Mr Hello lived in the area for a few years as a child, and so we spent some time exploring his old haunts. We also drank quite a lot of Super Bock, a rather lethal local beer. It was quite delightful!

If I’m totally honest, the area is not full to the brim with ‘sights’ – and if that’s what you’re looking for I would head closer to Lisbon, but it was absolutely perfect for a relaxing holiday (just what I needed).

There are a few things I would recommend that you do if you do find yourself in either Estoril or Cascais though:

  • From June to September, Estoril is home to a wonderful artisan’s fair – Fiartil Feira de Artisanato do Estoril – which is home to some excellent open air restaurants, local street food vendors, arts and crafts to die for and if you’re lucky, some traditional rancho dancing and fado. A must see.
  • Mercado de Cascais – this is a huge food, fish, flower and general goods market in central Cascais. It feels like a real local market, and can get incredibly busy, but is worth a wander around if you want to feel like a local and marvel at women standing on tables and shouting at the top of their lungs with a baby on their hip.
  • Head to Masala in the centre of Cascais. Living in England, I’m certainly no stranger to a spot of Indian food, but our meals (yes, plural) were incredibly delicious, and I’m pretty sure the term ‘service with a smile’ started off in this restaurant. The team at Masala were fantastic, so good, in fact, that we returned a couple of days later, where they continued to win us over by remembering us! They are always busy, so try and get down there before 9pm, but even if you’re later, the queue moves quickly. I highly recommend the 5 euro gin and tonics, too. They are quite *ahem* large. 

We had a fantastic time in this part of Portugal and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It’s clean, the public transport is cheap, it feels like there are things going on but not too many, and there is also an atmosphere of active relaxation. I highly approve. 

Chrimbo At Home – 2015

Merry Christmas 2015 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

I singularly failed to take any photos of our family Christmas celebration this year, which happened on December 19th. As penance, I offer you a picture of my front door, which I think looks rather festive, if I do say so myself.

In my post about Christmas rituals, I may have mentioned that I love this time of year. I am pleased to report that our celebration lived up to all my hopes and expectations.

Despite the fact that we had offered to host everyone this year, on the day after I finished school (yikes), it all happened rather smoothly. As with many bloggers, the Nigella Christmas Cookbook became my bible.

Here is our intended menu:

  • Salmon and cream cheese blinis
  • John’s famous sausage rolls*
  • Pumpkin & Goats Cheese Lasagne
  • Nut Roast Pie
  • Beef Wellington*
  • Roast Vegetables
  • Bread sauce*
  • Cranberry sauce*
  • Christmas Coleslaw
  • Chocolate Christmas Pudding
  • Christmas Cake
  • Cheese platter
  • Yule Log

All served with copious amounts of prosecco, wine, beer and cider. My delightful sisters in law provided the cheese and yule log. Delegating people. Delegating.

A couple of things got scratched (marked with an *) – 1) because I ran out of time, 2) because people were stuffed to the gills and couldn’t face another bite and 3) because my stove was obviously unaccustomed to such a heavy workload and threw a tantrum.

The Beef Wellington turned into a roast beef with Yorkshire puddings, as it proved to be impossible to find a beef fillet anywhere. I don’t think anyone was particularly disappointed!

It’s been ages, really, since I’ve done any amount of ‘fun’ cooking, and being so exhausted during the week has meant I have relied on my dwindling repertoire of recipes, and shamefully, even more so on justeat.co.uk. Dreadful. As a result, despite the limited time, I really enjoyed whipping up the feast.

I can’t wait until next year!

 

Life Lately

Life Lately - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

A little round-up of recent iPhone snaps, clockwise:

  1. Some well deserved (if I do say so myself), post-planning wine time
  2. Christmas shoes are  A THING I SWEAR. These are my new beauties, some blue velvet and glitter dreams from the Rocha John Rocha range at Debenhams.
  3. Veggie breakfast tartlets I made recently, based on a memory of something similar from a great cafe in Perth. Filo pastry, whisked eggs, a tiny amount of cream, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. A little lacking in salt (I very rarely add salt in my cooking, but sometimes you need to!), which next time I think I’ll remedy by adding some ham.
  4. A snap of my lovely sister in law K, with whom I recently had a rather fabulous girl’s weekend in Lahndahn town. It was swell 🙂

 

A Note on the Flowers: My Penultimate Wedding Round-up

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We had fully intended to head up to the Chelsea flower market a couple of days before the wedding to go and choose our flowers. For a combination of reasons, we needed to hire a car to get up there. But could we find an available car to hire? No. None were available within a 30 mile radius of Rochester it seemed.

I tried to remain calm, and think about what we could do about the flowers. On Thursday morning Mr H and I set off to find what looked to be a flower wholesaler in Medway. We drove there (bearing in mind Mr H was a very nervous driver at this point) only to find it had closed down. Definitely did not get any brownie points for that, Sam.

We then decided to try Dobbies, a nearby garden centre. I had heard good things and they seemed as though they might be the kind of place that sold nice cut flowers. At this stage, I had £ signs over my eyes because I was sure that we’d left it so late that our only option would be something ridiculously expensive. I wasn’t that fussed about flowers to be honest (but full credit to the wonderful florists out there!), but the thought of having nothing in my hands as I walked down the aisle seemed a little odd.

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So we drove around the corner to Dobbies. It was 8:30 am at this point. Closed. Opening at 9:30 am. Typical. Next door was Tesco, so Mr Hello and I went in to grab a sandwich for breakfast. The deli aisles happened to be next to the cut flower section. I am sure you can guess what happened next.

Genuinely, Tesco had a fantastic range of flowers. I bought a couple of pre-made bouquets with white roses and lilies, some pinky flowers, some gypsophila, and a couple of bunches of pink and dark red roses. I was going for burgundy and green colours. I needed enough for 4 bridesmaids bouquets and one HUGE bouquet for me. Seriously, I wanted my arms to hurt because it was so heavy. I wanted a big’un.

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In the end, the bride’s bouquet was from Tesco. All 5 bouquets, plus 10 buttonholes came to a total of £70, which is a bargain if ever I’ve seen one. T, N and I spent Thursday afternoon stripping thorns and leaves and pulling the bouquets together – that day has some of my favourite memories of the wedding week actually. We referred to the A Practical Wedding bouquet tutorial a great deal, seriously, that website is the best thing that ever happened to weddings.

We nabbed some forest green quilting cotton from my fabric stash, and after tying the flowers together with florist’s tape (actually left over from my sister-in-law’s wedding! Recycling for the win!) we secured the bridesmaid’s bouquets with that, and mine with a length of burgundy satin. I pinned in a crucifix from my late paternal grandfather, which was my ‘something borrowed’. I could not have been happier with the result!

As T, my personal florist stated – “It’s about a personal relationship with each stem”. And so it is my friends, so it is.

Wedding Roundup: Portraits on The Pier

There’s no point having your wedding reception at a venue called Sun Pier House if you don’t take advantage of the actual Sun Pier. After we’d downed a drink and had a bit of a natter with the guests, my wonderful maid of honour and sister T rounded us up for some formal portraits on the pier.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0065150801_Sam+John_0208

Mr Hello and I aren’t generally a fan of staged wedding photos, however we had seen some great examples in Hector’s work and so were quite happy to spend half an hour getting a bunch of photo frame ready shots.

This is something I would definitely recommend to someone in the midst of wedding planning. Find a photographer whose work takes your breath away. Don’t choose someone and then ask them to take photos in a specific style – find someone who is an expert in the style you love. We did, and I couldn’t be happier. In fact the day we got our wedding photos back was the first thing that broke my Ice Queen heart and had be quietly crying on the High Street. I adore our photos.

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Both the bride and groom’s party wore navy blue. We asked our friends to choose whatever they wanted to wear, as long as it was navy blue. Some were a little hesitant, because they didn’t want to choose something and then realise I hated it, but after I reassured them that I was not fussy at all, they went ahead with the idea.

We both just really wanted our friends to look like themselves, and feel comfortable in what they were wearing.

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I am actually yelling at our nephew R here saying ‘get him right in the face!’. Nothing like a fresh bunch of flowers in your chops, hey?

 

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I really adore these photos of Mr H’s family. I think they sum up the family I’m marrying into so well!

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Classic Dad shot. He thinks he’s being a comedian by blocking me out of my own wedding photos. (I actually think this shot is hilarious, so perhaps I have actually inherited his sense of humour).

 

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I think my Mum looked absolutely wonderful. This suit is pretty much exactly what I imagined her with and she totally rocked it. My sister kept getting called ‘Liz’ by Mr H’s family, because they thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor – I actually have to agree!

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T was chief joozjer. She kept barking at me to move a piece of hair (much appreciated) and would also spin around and show her knickers to all of Chatham just to make Mr H laugh in the photos. What more could you ask for in a bridesmaid?150801_Sam+John_0244 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0086 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0085 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0082 150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0079

I really love these photos against the exposed brick wall. I may be about to totally break the wedding mystique here, but this wall is actually the back of Staples in Chatham. Very glam, very cool.

I suspect that in post-production Hector picked out the blue of Mr Hello’s suit, the blue in the wall and my eyes. The photo of me looking over his shoulder makes my eyes zing! Such precious photos.

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We could not have been luckier with this mural – it was painted perhaps a week before we were married! Talk about timing.

These formal shots to me show the love and joy that we felt on our wedding day. I don’t find them saccharine or overly romantic – the romance was there, we didn’t need some carefully posed shots to remind us of it! The main point is that I don’t look back at these photos and cringe. I look back and my heart sings.

That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, isn’t it?

 

This post is made in loving memory of my Uncle. He very generously helped our wedding day to be exactly what we hoped it would be. Vale.

Wedding Roundup – Party Time!

Once we arrived at Sun Pier House, it was straight into our ‘cocktail hour’. I use the term ‘cocktail’ incredibly loosely, in fact I shouldn’t really use it at all, because no cocktails were in fact, served. There was an abundance of champagne, wine and beer, which I expect more than made up for it.

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Full credit where credit is due – our wonderful wedding party showed up on Friday to help us decorate Sun Pier. For the most part the venue is exactly to our taste, but there was some extreme pom-pom action we wanted to incorporate, and the odd vintage doily never really goes astray, now does it?

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My sister and I had run up the white bunting ourselves. You may remember in my former life I had a little bunting business. So the skills were there to be used. I had been tempted to go for a very cutesy bunting wedding early on, but as the big day approached I realised my tastes had changed, so in the end I went for (lots of) plain white bunting – festive but not chintzy.

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The pom-poms were sourced from various places, the fan shapes and the pom-pom wreaths from Tiger, but the vast majority were brand new from Ebay.

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My sister picked up our plain card guestbook from Paperchase in the days before the wedding. My Mama, also known as the calligrapher-extraordinaire, illustrated the front and also was the muscle behind our seating plan, which was a limited edition print from IKEA, of all places!

We also caved in to our inner hipsters and bought a Fujifilm Instax Polaroid camera, for a visual guestbook. I am not going to lie here, that darn thing was expensive. Like £90 or something stupid like that. But it was  a hell of a lot of fun, and if we never use it again, we both feel like we got our monies worth. We passed the camera around for our guests to take photos, and then peg them to our ribbon wall.

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This ribbon wall was an inspired idea by Mr H. I had bought these reels of 2cm wide ribbon for the tops of the ribbon sticks, but hadn’t ended up using it all. On our prep day, Mr Hello used the hooks that Sun Pier House already had to display their menus, and wound each spool of ribbon around them, forming a great backdrop and, bonus, somewhere to hang our polaroids!

I read quite a bit of advice on A Practical Wedding that said if you want to include an impromptu element in your wedding, it’s really helpful to ask someone in your party to take responsibility for it. That way, you can forget all about it while you’re talking to everyone, because you know you have someone trusted going around. It was invaluable to have my wonderful bridesmaid N in charge of the Polaroids. She flew all the way over from Australia for the wedding, and I could not be more grateful. I like to think the Polaroid duty also helped her to meet people, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking!

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Luckily, due to the shape of the venue, we were quite easily able to include a little ‘kids zone’, where we put down some astro turf (left over from our Mr H-designed centrepieces), added some puzzles, wooden blocks, crayons and colouring books and let the kids run wild. Sort of.

I had bookmarked the idea ever since I read something similar on Franky’s wedding round-up on Love My Dress. I thought it would be a great way to keep the kids entertained when the grown-up side of things got too boring, and would give their parents a bit of peace so they could enjoy a drink! I’m pleased to say I got excellent feedback…

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Before too long we were sitting down for our main meal. We went for a Middle Eastern style buffet, catered by our great local restaurant Café Moroc. Partly because we knew we had a lot of vegetarians and vegans in attendance, and we all know that Middle Eastern cuisine is big on the ol’ chickpeas, but also because we really like that kind of food and have had some great meals there before.

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It was delicious and I ate so much at that point that I didn’t manage to have any of my wedding cakes. Dis. A. Pointed.

I have two little regrets about the food. Well, little niggles at least. Firstly, we ran out of time to make signs for the food, and I wish we had made the extra effort because my veggie pals had to faff around and ask people to taste things before they ate them. Not very hospitable of me! Oh well…lesson learned.

The second niggle is that there was heaps of food left over and I forgot to tell the caterers that we wanted to keep it. Mr H and I would have loved to have binged on hummus for the next few days, but it was cleared away before we had the chance. Again, lesson learned, and in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.

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We then moved on to the speeches. We never wanted endless speeches or toasts, and I am so delighted to report that the speeches by both of our families were everything we could have wished for at the start of our marriage.

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Mr Hello blubbed delightfully throughout the whole thing. He was the focal point of this part of the day, for sure. As discussed in my ceremony roundup, I am evidently an Ice Queen because I remained composed throughout. It’s a strange thing. Definitely a combination of trying to remember it all, not being able to believe that it’s actually your wedding, and the slightest amount of unexpected stage fright. Anyhow, just call me Elsa.

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My Dad sang some wonderful songs, one was a version of Waltzing Matilda with amazing references to Rochester within it, and a couple of others. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand, let’s just say that.

My sister’s speech was the one that almost tipped me over the edge into Emotionville. She’s bloody great and I am so lucky. She did however, bring up an ear biting incident that happed A LONG TIME AGO SO JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY.

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Mr H’s lovely sister K had then organised a game to get us all in the party mood, complete with papier mâche representations of our goodselves. I am pleased to report these remain in our household. So hilarious, and strangely, so anatomically correct.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0133

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Then we boogied! Our first dance (which is a completely weird experience, let me tell you) was to Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, because every time we heard that song, we couldn’t help but dance.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0137

I am a very earnest dancer. And singer-alonger, it seems.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0138

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I cut some serious shapes, believe you me. We chose to hook up our laptop and used our own curated playlists for the evening. It was great, it was cheap and we had exactly the music we wanted, although if I did it again, I think I might have put a ‘no touchy’ sign on the laptop to stop people from skipping songs. Hey ho, again, a minor detail which had no real impact on the day.

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I’m not sure if you can tell by my face (note: you totally can), that I was so delighted to have so much of my family there. We are all scattered all over the world, and it meant so much to have people who have known me for much longer than the five years I’ve been in England with me as I start this next phase of my life. I love my family.

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We snuck off at a couple of moments for some quality husband/wife time, which I truly recommend, and we also got some more formal shots done, which I will share with you in the next couple of days.

My biggest take-away from the wedding reception was that Mr Hello and I are so totally loved. We’re loved by each other, by our families and by our deliciously wide circle of friends. What a better way to start a marriage.

Wedding Roundup: The Ceremony

The ceremony is quite literally, the main event of the day. The bit that most people feel the most nervous about. I can honestly say in my heart of hearts, that I did not feel remotely nervous about walking down the aisle towards Mr H.

I couldn’t have been looking forward to it more. What was strange, however, and especially so given my background in drama, is that the closer the wedding drew, the less I looked forward to having ‘all eyes on me’, so to speak. Perhaps I’m getting stage fright as I age.

When at last every hair was in place and every lip and cheek rouged, my delightful bridal party and I made our way, on foot, to the Rochester Guildhall for the ceremony. We couldn’t have been more blessed with the weather!

As with all of these wedding posts, these amazing photographs are by Hector of We Heart Pictures.

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A dear friend of ours was married in our town a couple of years ago, and she mentioned that her favourite part of the day was walking along the High Street, with people congratulating her. I now know the feeling, and it truly is wonderful.

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Having arrived 20 minutes late, my dear father thought it would be hilarious to tell me that we were ‘way beyond fashionably late’. Thanks Dad.

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We climbed the stairs and loitered attractively in the anteroom while the registrar ran through some last minute details with me.

Mr H and his family were already in the main chamber, and I really adore these candid shots of them, and our lovely nephew R entertaining his grandparents in the corner!

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My Dad is notoriously hot, and this photo of my sister cooling him down is one of my favourites from the whole day. There’s a palpable sense of anticipation, don’t you think?

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We’re not allowed confetti in Rochester, and so we improvised with ribbon sticks for our guests to wave in our faces in a celebratory manner. They were a hit with the kids, and continue to be a hit with many of the cats in the Rochester area, I’m told!

Mr H made a little wedding zine, which included the order of the day, some of our family history, the story behind our wedding rings – mine is antique, his is a family heirloom sized down from Z+1 to an R – as well as our decision to use my maiden name as our family name. We wanted to share these stories with our guests on the day, and they are now a lasting keepsake.

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Before too long, the bridal crew were gathering on the small stairwell, waiting to enter. My bouquet was in one arm, with the other was tucked firmly in the crook of my father’s. I had time for perhaps one deep breath, before we were off down the aisle!

I approached the whole being ‘given away’ with a lot of thought. I don’t particularly like the historical connotations, and Mr H and I both liked the idea of walking in together. But at the end of the day, I very rarely get to share such special moments with my Dad, and so I am so pleased that we made the traditional decision. I have no regrets.

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A sneaky wink – I have no recollection of doing this, but it’s a wonderful moment nevertheless!

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We were lucky enough to have two readings by wonderful friends. The first was Habitationby Margaret Atwood, read by my dear friend E. I couldn’t have asked for better! The second was an extract from the essay Knowing What’s Nice, by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ll link to  both here for posterity

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By the time you reach the top of the aisle, some little gremlin grabs all the clocks in the world and starts spinning the hands faster – the time absolutely flies.

Before I knew it, we were saying our vows to one another, the vows we wrote together:

I promise to love and cherish the life we build together.

I will care for you, and help you to be the best person you can be.

I will enjoy you when it’s easy, and be loyal when it’s not.

This commitment I make to you for the  rest of my life.

There was the obligatory stumbling over certain words and names, but it was all heartfelt and full of love.

I felt very conscious of what I was doing, and I suppose the seriousness of the matter prevented me from getting choked up – I was fully expecting to be a sobbing mess, but instead some serene goddess replaced me! It felt like my voice was very loud. “Clear”, people said, “Your voice was very clear”, and that means loud. Ho hum.

Rings were presented, and a with momentary panic about swollen knuckles, exchanged. Then we were married!

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Maximum ribbon stick action!

The Honeymoon: Warsaw #2

Grab a hot beverage, sit back and hope for the best of your bandwidth. I’ve got a cracking photo-heavy post for you today!

Ladies and gents, I present the final round-up of our Warsaw Honeymoon.

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I hope that these photos give you some indication of the weather we experienced. Barely a cloud in the sky, the entire time we were there. Now normally this would be something to celebrate, but on this occasion, relentless heat in combination with a scaredy-cat disposition did not work so well. We were too chicken to try to find somewhere to swim.

I think for the most part this was because we didn’t really just want to go to a rec centre for an indoor swim, we either wanted to go somewhere we could swim outside (which we couldn’t find in Warsaw) or in a hotel pool. There’s where we got too chicken – we weren’t sure whether you had to be staying at the hotel to swim, or if, not unlike some other countries, you can just pay to use the facilities and then leave. This is where some prior research would have been handy. Oh well! Onwards we went, in all our sweaty glory.

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These sandals deserve a special commendation. I wore them for about 8 out of the 10 days, and I can’t see any sign on wear on them! Hooray for great quality sandals! I did, however, have to wash three black stripes off my feet each evening. Just a tad dusty…

Warsaw 5 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaMr H and I did a little family history while we were out – this street is where my Polish Grandfather lived in the late 1930s. We now have reason to believe he was Jewish or his extended family was Jewish, so he was cutting it damn fine staying in Warsaw so late. A very lucky man!

On the Saturday, we hopped on the tram (yay, courage!) and ventured out to what we would describe as a Polish Boot Fair. This is right up our street, we love nothing more than a good rummage around other peoples’ belongings.

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You’re not allowed to take anything out of Poland that was made before 1945 without special permission, so this time we walked away empty-handed, not having seen anything we loved enough to go to extra effort for. Now that we’ve been once though, I think we’d have the confidence to go back again, for sure!

Warsaw 7 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaIn our second week we visited the Museum of Modern Art, which was currently showing an exhibition regarding the emancipation of African Nations. This display, which I find totally engaging and wonderfully delivered, was of the postage stamps created for African countries after Independence. It was very though provoking, especially for a couple of design nerds like us.

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While many of the meals we enjoyed were in the touristy Old Town, the meal that has really stayed with me was this sharing platter from Abyssinia, an Ethiopian restaurant in the New Town. Ethopian in Warsaw – strange, huh? Strangely delicious, you mean.

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It was served on a giant pancake, which you tore off, filled with some beef, lamb, chicken, beetroot or dhal, and then ceremoniously shovelled into your face! What’s not to like?

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Just looking at these photos makes me crave it again. We were served with some honey wine, which was spicy and delicious even though I’m usually a little reserved when it comes to unusual drinks. Evidently the wasps thought it was delicious too, and about 4 of them put my I’m-Australian-bugs-don’t-scare-me street cred to the test.

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Elephant Belgian Beer Pub was, without a doubt, our favourite bar in Warsaw. Generally, Mr Hello and I aren’t huge beer drinkers, that is to say we both like beer, but are not particularly snobbish about it. However we were very tempted by the craft beers on offer at Elephant, in fact over the ten days we visited about four or five times, sampling probably two varieties at least each time!

It didn’t hurt that the owner looked like he could be my Uncle, and when we accidentally left some shopping there, they held onto it for us. That sort of customer care when you’re in a foreign city really makes a huge difference!

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So many beers, so little time.

A couple of days later we ventured over the river to Praga, the former industrial district, which is now home to Hipsterland. This part of Warsaw survived the Nazis to a large extent, and so much of the architecture is representative of a pre-WWII Warsaw.

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From walking around, we could definitely see there was more of a creative twist to this part of Praga, compared to what we’d already seen in the main part of Warsaw.

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Excellent architecture, but even more excellent signage:

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Unfortunately the hipsters of Praga evidently don’t rise before nightfall, as most of the bars  looked to me a night-time thing only. Next time we head to Warsaw (and there will definitely be a next time), we’re going to make a night out in Praga the order of the…day.

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Before we knew it, our time in Warsaw was coming to an end, and we capped off our last two nights with fabulous food and some delicious cocktails. I had a Muay Thai first, which was a little underwhelming (too much lime) but my Mojito was probably the best I’ve ever had (just enough lime!). For 20 złoty as well (about £4), I really couldn’t complain!

For those of you looking for an interesting city break, or a honeymoon where culture and relaxation are the order of the day, I really recommend Warsaw. Ten days was more than enough time to see what we wanted to see, but having said that, a little extra time there meant we were ready to come home, but felt refreshed and relaxed after the wedding.

What more could you ask of a Honeymoon?

The Honeymoon: The Apartment & Our First Meal

I wanted to write down my memories of the last ten days as soon as possible after returning, to share here on the blog. When I first started travelling I was a dedicated journal keeper, which means I have some great memories squirrelled away in my book cases! Many of them I have forgotten, so having an analogue version to read from time to time is a real treat.

When we first began thinking of our honeymoon, we were almost immediately sure that we wanted to leave shortly after the wedding. I wanted to preserve the ‘wedding bubble’ for as long as possible, and an immediate honeymoon seemed just the ticket.

Mr H had dreams of Greek beaches, or to be honest any beaches! He was happy with anything that wasn’t a city break. I think he’s forgotten that he said that, because we ended up going for a city break after all, and he was as happy as Larry!

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Warsaw 6 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaWe rented an apartment through AirBnB right in the Old Town in Warsaw. It was a studio, with a basic kitchen (although the only sink was in the bathroom – odd). It was really everything we needed, and was literally on the doorstep of the most beautiful part of the Polish capital city.

We arrived late on Monday afternoon, and caught a taxi from the airport’s official taxi rank (don’t go for the slightly sweaty men that approach you in the Arrivals terminal), we found our little love nest on Ulica Piwna. A beer and some food were in order, so we wandered out to the the bustling square, and braced ourselves to be brave and go to a restaurant.

A word here regarding our choices of restaurants – Warsaw Old Town is very touristy, and I daresay that the vast majority of the restaurants we went to were as well. This bothered us approximately 0%, because we always had excellent service, and they were very happy to speak English. Mr H and I both have the guilts about travelling and not speaking another language fluently, so we do tend to have to screw up our courage to venture out. I say, do what makes you happy. Don’t beat yourself up about not finding a tiny little restaurant where the locals eat – too stressful!

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We settled on Restaurant Bazylisek – it takes up nearly one whole side of the square, and was both very busy and very spacious.

Warsaw 2 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaOften at the start of a meal in Warsaw, we’d be given break, cream cheese that was often flavoured with dill, and some kind of meat pâte. Sometimes it was just lard, though, which I cannot in good faith claim to be a fan of. This was a kind of minced pork.

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We had a litre each (sue me, it was my honeymoon!) of Pilsner Urquell, a pilsner I am a fan of back home. These were about 18 złoty each, which is about £3.60. Occasionally they would be half price on special, so it was £1.80 for a litre of beer! Winning…

Warsaw 5 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaMr Hello made his way through a huge plate of sauerkraut and chicken livers (not remotely my thing) and I had schnitzel, sauerkraut and fries. Nothing groundbreaking, although Mr H was in bliss, as livers are among his favourite foods. Not for me, thanks…

For the rest of the evening we wandered around the Old Town, before heading back to the apartment with some beers from the Deli, snuggling up and reminiscing about the wonderful day that was our wedding!

More to come, so stay tuned!

 

Just When I’m in Danger of Taking Myself Too Seriously…

I remember that my laptop has Photo Booth…

At first I was like this (warning, serious pouting ahead):

Sam after Bridal Trial - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Then I was like this:

Dorky Sam after Bridal Trial - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaYesterday I had my hair and makeup trial for the wedding. Don’t fret, these don’t give too much away! Rest assured there will be plenty of surprises on the day.

Hair and Makeup courtesy of the lovely Hannah at Lipstick & Curls. Dorky face, wouldn’t you know it, model’s own.