Sunday, 17 June 2012

Happy Father's Day to the happiest Irish man around!

So today is Father's Day and unfortunately I can't be spending it with my Dad so I thought I'd post a little tribute on here for him instead.  Considering his dislike of the camera and photos being taken of him...and especially them being posted on Facebook! I managed to find a pretty good assortment to sum up the kind of Dad he is! 

He is great at making things.  Growing up, he would always help me with school projects to make sure I had the coolest things.  He can make things out of nothing, like when we were on holiday in Zante he rigged up this makeshift volleyball net which gave us hours of fun! 

He also helped us make this awesome slip and slide in our back garden last Easter, and we used to have tons of these as kids as well.  Growing up, he also made us a treehouse in our garden complete with fireman's pole to slide down which we thought was pretty fantastic! 

He also took this rope from his 72 hour pack and we climbed a hill and he turned it into a little rock climbing session for us all! 

He's also always up for joining in the fun and crazy things we do like a few Christmas' ago when we had a sledging session in a nearby field.  It was his awesome idea to use a spare tyre cover as a sledge and wow did it go fast! Him and my mom were game enough to try it out too! 

and he was only too happy to join in our human pyramid too! 

and testing out the water...'jumping' on our ice covered pond! 

and having his head measured in the middle of Ikea! He's a good sport! 

He's also had to put up with alot growing up in a house of 5 girls! but he was always more than happy chauffeuring us around London to all our favourite haunts! and of course joining in the cupcaking escapades too! 

and posing for Easter egg hunt pics! 

He's also a big lover of free samples! hence why one of our favourite family trips is to go to our local Costco! and so even though High St Kensington makes him feel older than he'd like these days he's more than happy to join us in trips to Whole Foods if it means he gets to stock up on freebies! 

I think it's the Irish in him! he also loves a great bargain! He will always make a beeline for the clearance corners! 

He loves sweet things, which is probably where we all get it from! Growing up he would buy tubs of ice cream from the supermarket and hunker down for the evening in front of the T.V with a whole tub and a spoon, we would often join him with our own spoons and we'd polish off those tubs in no time - and I'm talking 2 litre tubs too! 

Here he is enjoying some fruit cake my sister bought him for Father's Day last year! The way to his heart is definitely through baked goods! 

He loves to read (although in this picture he's actually sleeping whilst pretending to read!).  

With 5 girls around, things get pretty tiring pretty quickly! and my dad is a bit of a sleepyhead! Growing up, he'd fall asleep every evening on the sofa.  Sometimes if I'd been watching a film in the TV room 'til late, I'd walk through the lounge at about 1am to find him still sleeping away! One of my favourite things to do would be to wake him up and tell him it was 7am and he was late for work! He would always wake up thoroughly panicked until I told him it was actually only 1am! or I'd have whole conversations with him during these periods like about how he was going to agree to buy me something expensive or let me get my ears pierced and then the next morning he wouldn't recall any of it! 

In recent years, he's developed a keen fascination with making bread! It started when we went to the Caribbean and stored all our stuff at my parents house including our bread maker (which we had got 2 years earlier and never got out the box!) My dad started using it whilst we were away and his biggest fear when we returned is that we would want it back! We didn't and he's been having fun whipping up loaves ever since! 

He's been there for all the big moments in my life, from my first day of University (yes he drove over 8 hours to take me to Stirling!)

He did some dodgy deals with a garage by swopping a few finished bumpers for a beat up Punto that needed some work, and he worked on it and turned it into my beautiful first car! Oh the fun that me and Huey had! 

He was there the first time I went through the Temple...

and not only did he walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, but since he was a Bishop at the time he was also able to conduct the ceremony and marry us which was super special.  He also gave a rather spectacular father of the bride speech at the reception about my I.T skills, yeah my mom has never let him live that one down! 

He was there at my graduation from university, probably breathing a sigh of relief that I'd seen my course through! I didn't really love my time at uni or my course and there was a point during it where I really wanted to quit.  My mom and I came up with a great idea and it seemed reasonable until we put it to my dad who told me quitting uni was just not an option! I was pretty upset at the time, but looking back now many of the amazing things that have happened in my life since would not have happened if I hadn't got my degree so I'm grateful to a dad, wiser than myself, who made me see it through.  

Being surrounded by girls, he's also had to put up with quite a lot of teasing regarding his fashion sense! Dad staples are jeans, checked shirts, and of course the obligatory fisherman's hat! How he loves his hats! 

I have always been a Daddy's girl.  

I think it comes down to the fact that I was the baby in the family, the fourth girl - and my dad was probably really hoping for a boy! So for a while I was his boy.  He used to take me clothes shopping to all the boys sections and he used to take me to his work where I had my own pair of overalls, he taught me the bumper skills and car skills I needed to know so I could recognise different bumpers from different cars! and I liked to please him and be his boy for a good few years! Until I started discovering make up and nail polish and became more of a girl! He didn't love it, he used to say 'what have you dropped on your toes' when I'd painted them a bright colour - I'd roll my eyes and tell him it was just nail polish! but I think he's come to embrace having four girls now! He gets fashion advice for free, whether it's wanted or not! He gets free hair cuts from my sister Mel.  He gets his head pampered with cleanser, toner and moisturiser from me! and more baked goods then he can handle from all of us! and he's finally got two son-in-laws now too that he can take to scrapyards and car auctions and do all his manly things with that we don't enjoy! 

So here's wishing my lovely dad an even lovelier Father's day.  I love everything about him, even his love of talking (which comes from him being Irish!) I can tolerate his stories about how many bumpers he's sold on any given day or the book he's been reading about the Boer war that he will tell me about in great detail, just don't get him started about his rock collection or back in the day when he used to work at the BBC! 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Birthday BBQ's and Bakes

A few weekends back we headed to Shropshire for my mom's birthday.  This was the view that greeted us from our bedroom window! Of course it helped that we had amazing sunny weather all weekend too.  Yes, England in the sunshine is pretty spectacular - it's a pity that sunshine is as infrequent as it is! 

I told my dad the massive purple flowers in the front garden were amazing, he said what purple flowers.  What flowers? They are all over our garden!! Apparently once I referred to them as Rhododendrons he realised what I was on about.  

I stumbled upon these enormous Tulips! have you ever seen such big Tulips? I hadn't, so I just had to snap a picture of them looking all lovely basking in the sunlight! 

When the birthday girl got home from work it was time for the present opening to begin.  Flower arranging books a la Paula Pryke, sticks of Droewors (a South African meat) and Root Beer Floats made my mom a very happy birthday girl indeed! 

As did this rustic jug that she got from my dad, and if you'd known the presents he's got her in the past you would be as surprised as we were that he actually did pretty well this year! She promptly went downstairs and arranged one of the bouquets of flowers she had received at work along with some greenery from the garden and came up with this lovely arrangement - yeah she's a bit of a pro! 

and we ended the night by all indulging in a piece of my mom's favourite dessert - Key Lime Pie

On Saturday, we headed over to Weston Park.  I have no idea why the grand house was flying the American flag, but it certainly made me happy to see it! 

Here is a pic of my mom just before she made her amazing discovery of some 'ancient' coins! Yes, she found a pile of coins on the ground and was sure they were going to make her a small fortune.  Upon closer inspection By realised they were 2p's and one of them even had the date of 1992 on it...ancient indeed! We laughed about that for a while and teased her for the rest of the day but she put them in her bag and is convinced that they are going to be of worth to someone...some day! 

For the tree lover in our family, that's Byron, he was loving all these huge unusual trees that surrounded us.  

Dad was less enthused, haha.  No, he's just been in the wars recently and so all the walking around was taking it's toll on him.  We left him resting under this tree for a while and picked him up later! 

You can't really see but in the shadows underneath that tree were loads of deer just chilling out, I think they were shading themselves from the hot sun! 

The happy couple...soaking up the sun...

and By was loving it too - we haven't had many shorts and t-shirt kind of days recently so when they come around you just have to make the most of them! 

Of course if you're South African that means having a braaivleis so that's exactly what we did! 

Boerewors and all...because nothing says braaivleis more than Boerie rolls! 

My new flowery headband, courtesy of By.

I whipped up a pineapple and carrot salad, to complete our S.A theme! and my mom whipped up a mango and avocado salad.

We brought a little taste of America to our evening with Root Beer Floats because no Jones family fun is complete without them! 

Here are the South Africans, enjoying the fruits of their labours...

and just to finish off our weekend of tasty bakes, my mom made a traditional South African Granadilla Fridge Tart.  Her mom used to make it for her growing up, and I don't know why she's waited so long to make it for us because it was amazing! I can see it making plenty of appearances in the future! 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Crazy Flavour Hot Chocolates & The Town With The Longest Name!

On part 2 of our adventures we decided to drive through the mountains to the quaint little village of Pentrefoelas.  Along the way Nadira couldn't stop commenting about how beautiful the scenery was.  So we stopped in one of the little lay by's to take a pic of the view.  I balanced the camera on the roof of our car in order to take a self timer shot.  I didn't realise I had set the self timer option to take 5 photos in a row.  So it managed to capture us smiling nicely whilst also capturing our faces as a huge gust of wind started to blow the camera off the roof of the car...

haha, yes you've never seen me move so fast as I jumped down from the wall and managed to save the camera from falling off! 

There was only one reason why we had decided to head to the village of Pentrefoelas and it was to check out this place - The Riverside Chocolate House.

I had randomly read something about them online and when I saw that they did coconut hot chocolates it was a done deal! I'm not even usually a huge hot chocolate fan but these were seriously tasty! Nad had a mint hot chocolate (above) and mine below is the coconut one.  It was so rich and creamy.

They also made homemade chocolates and truffles with quite unusual flavours, we picked up a few banoffee ones for the way home!

Next stop was Betws-y-coed, which has some rather good views too.

We scaled the rocks in our smart boots to check out the views down below the bridge...

and they were certainly worth it! 

As we drove back home, the sun came out for about 10 minutes so of course we had to pull over and take some more pictures (in nicer weather!)

Luckily we stumbled upon this pretty little spot...

and snapped a few more bridge pics! 

and I decided to get arty with some slow shutter speed shots, I must admit I was pretty happy with myself that I remembered how to do this (without the camera pro around!)

Afterwards we had to pay a trip to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerch.... you get the idea, I'm not going to waste my time trying to type out that crazy long name! It's the longest town name in the UK and one of the longest in the world, I think second only to a town in India.  Why they have to have a name that is so crazy long is beyond me! but we decided to be tourists and snap some pics anyway, we drive through this village often on our way to church but have never snapped a shot of it before.  I'm holding up a postcard of that very sign that Nad had bought earlier in the day....

and Angelesey offers some pretty spectacular views of the Menai Bridge and Menai Straits so we took a few pics, unfortunately the sun had gone away again! 

We ended our fun filled weekend the only way us R-Unit girls know how - with some homemade Mint Oreo shakes of course! It was a seriously tasty...and fun weekend! It has been a good few years since Nadira and I have had a proper catch up so it was awesome to spend 3 uninterrupted days with her.  She also provided me with such amazing company that it stopped me from missing By quite so much! 

She's currently jet setting in Kazakhstan as I type this! so she certainly gets around which is why it was so funny that she was overly impressed with North Wales! and seeing it through her eyes made me appreciate it that little bit more too!