Thursday, 16 August 2012

Where I come from...

I grew up in the same house, in the same town until I was 18.  For the last 8 years I have lived in 12 different areas including 3 different countries: Scotland, Wales & Turks and Caicos - soon to be 4 as we are about to leave for Canada! 

I have recently got into following all kinds of fun travel blogs of people living in new countries and having fun adventures so when I saw this 'where I come from' post by Allie over at beauty & the feast I decided it would be fun to join in too! 

Whilst my love of America is widely known, and some of my friends have been offended by my lack of patriotism to England (Laur, I'm talking about you! hehe) I do actually love where I'm from! 

So without further ado...let's talk about

Harpenden! Harpenden is a small town in the home counties, just 30 miles north of London.  It is full of leafy tree lined streets, parks and greens around every corner, more estate agents and hairdressers than actual shops, and people who are even buying second houses and pretending to live in them just to get in to the awesome school I attended - true story! It is full of cute little cafe's and coffee shops and tons of independent restaurants that you won't find in every town like Grafitti, an Italian restaurant my friends and I used to frequent where you could draw on the tablecloths and if it was good enough your artwork would get framed on the wall! 

My happiest memories of growing up here are...

...tree climbing at Gilpin Green (despite the concrete sign planted in the ground saying 'No climbing') We would bust out our best french accents when the old ladies would come out and tell us to get down! riding at the ups and downs! on the swings at old 24 Spenser Rd (my old house!)
...feeding the ducks at The River Lea
...kite flying at the common
...snow days spent sledging at Rothamstead Park
...after school milkshakes at Lassiter's
...summer wasn't summer without a trip to the strawberry p.y.o
...being an Old Georgian meant my tights were green, school hymns were sung in Latin, we played lacrosse and carried our ingredients to school in wicker baskets and we loved it! 
...Thorn's tobacconist (which was also a sweet shop) was where we always headed after school to spend all our pocket money!
...road trips to The Waffle House
...beat the clock Monday night's at Cafe Blue Dog
...scaling 'The Wall' in stripey knee high socks to and from various house parties!
...pubbing it up at The Inn On The Green & The George, where I would spend all my 'beer' money on the computerised jukebox
...London being only a 30 min train ride away, which was perfect for fun day trips (My first ever day out recorded in my baby book was to Harrod's in London - what can I say, start as you mean to go on!) We used to love the toy department at Harrod's and gaze adoringly at the little pink Barbie 4 x 4! It also came in very handy for going to see gigs in my teenage years! and for mammoth shopping trips at all our favourite haunts from Covent Garden to Camden to High St Ken and everywhere in between!

Go check out everyone else's over at Shades of Grey and a Pinch of Pink.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Brighton State of Mind

A few weekends ago I spent an amazing day in Brighton with my friends! It's been 4 years since I was last there for mine and By's 1st anniversary! so my visit was looong overdue! Growing up we used to go to Brighton loads because it was a straight direct train from Harpenden to Brighton which was the end of the line and it has a special place in my heart so I was mega excited about our visit!

There's no denying it, aside from London - Brighton has to be the coolest city in England.

and we started our day as we planned to go on - by eating some amazing food! Laur and Caz had spotted this very cool eatery called Bill's.  I loved everything about it, from the fun little jars of chutneys and jams that lined every wall...

to the bunches of coloured raffia and tissue paper that hung in every corner...

They were used to wrap up any purchase that was made but I just thought they were a pretty awesome way to decorate a place in general!

Even the pots that held the cutlery were cool!

You were able to browse as you please whilst you waited for your food to come, and then you could tick a card on your table with what you wanted to buy and at the end of your meal your purchases would get added on to your bill and arrive at your table all beautifully wrapped up - genius!

Of course it wasn't just the decor that was first class, we got these rather delicious smoothies - pineapple pieces and all!

and the food was AMAZ-ing, check out my french toast! What a way to start the day!

The girls got scrambled eggs on toast and eggs benedict, the menu reminded me quite alot of Granger & Co, but this place was slightly cooler in my opinion and the service was a million times better!

It was so good that when we met up with Jo and Nats later on we may or may not have gone back for round 2 and I got this amazing lamington! 

We were seriously lucky with the weather, and so we couldn't pass up the chance to head to the beach!

We sat for a spot of sunbathing...

and Caz and Jo went down to the water to check out the temp, pretty chilly indeed!

Of course you can't go to Brighton without taking the obligatory tourist pics on the pier!

They even had some Jubilee and Olympic themed ones this time around too!

and we took a little rest after our busy morning on these jolly deck chairs!

After some shopping in The Lanes, we hunted out Boho Gelato, as I had read it was one of the top 10 things to do in Brighton!  With flavours like choc pretzel, white chocolate coconut crispy, carrot cake, birthday cake and even dairy free flavours we were glad we paid it a visit! 

Being the milkshake fans we are, we turned our ice creams into milkshakes! 

and in my opinion nothing pairs better with a milkshake than a cupcake! So we headed to Angel Food Bakery, one of my favourite ever UK cupcakeries, to complete our treat filled day!

I'll let those pictures do the talking! Let me just say you won't find better tasting cupcakes this side of the Atlantic that's for sure! How I loved having a cupcake fest accompanied by some of my best friends (we missed the others who couldn't make it!)

We said goodbye to Jo and Nats and headed back to the beach...

There were so many people packed into every little beach cafe and bar so we decided to pick up some take away slush puppies and sit ourselves right at the water's edge!

and of course just when you think a day can't get more perfect...

You hunt down a Mexican! Believe it or not Dos Sombreros seemed to be the only Mexican in Brighton, lucky for us!

and you know you're off to a good start when free tortillas and salsa are involved!

Caz had a fajita fest...

and Laur went down the Tex Mex route with spicy chicken and sweet potato fries!

I was absolutely loving  my chicken Taco's complete with mango salsa and super creamy refried beans!  As most of you know I've been to more than my fair share of Mexican's in my time and this one more than impressed!

In my opinion there is no better day then one spent with amazing friends and amazing food!