Thankful to be wild and free

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Often, when the husband and I sit down to a meal and remember our favourite people, we feel frustrated that our friends are now so spread out across the world. Even within London, they seem to live across the length and breadth of our (massive) city. It’s fun to have the excuse to travel and see people, but it’s also quite sad not to be able to spend as much time together now as we did when younger. 

We recently headed for the north of Edinburgh, to a place called Fife where our friends Stuart and Imo live. The husband was best man for Stuart, and Stuart composed my wedding entrance music, so they are terribly dear and special to us! It was a gorgeous weekend of eating haggis, meeting Percy (their new dachshund puppy), endless walks through fields and woods, and sitting by the wood-burning stove sipping whisky, laughing about everything and nothing.

Quality time with such wonderful people is priceless – we have so much to be thankful for. It’s a shame Fife and London are on quite the opposite ends of the country! Do you have close friends who live far away from you? How do you manage to keep in touch? Hopefully it won’t be too long before we are back in bonny Scotland! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating – what are you thankful for this week?

 

Images: Courage & Dash

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Breathing slowly.

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Last week, we had the pleasure of staying at Kirnan Estate, a set of cottages+B&B in Kilmartin Glen, Argyll, which is surrounded by acres and acres of land and 6miles of salmon fishing. There were sheep and donkeys and goats and geese and free range chickens that produced eggs with brightest orange yolks the size of my fist.

One drizzly day, the husband and I thought to take a walk around the estate, in particular to the woods behind our cottage – it looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings or Snow White. We wandered over that misty afternoon and were transported hundreds of years back. Wild and eerily quiet and seemingly untouched, the forest was cloaked with furry lichen and soft moss which had grown over uprooted trees and across untrodden paths.

It was so quiet.

Everything was dark and grey-green; raindrops hung from every pine needle and fallen branch. It was so strangely satisfying to get lost amongst the stillness of nature. We splashed across streams and trudged through boggy ground and felt delighted! City life sometimes makes you forget the simple things.

 

Images: Courage & Dash

24 hours in Norwich: A Guide

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Norwich is such a charming city. I had heard lots of good things about it and so was pretty keen to go! It was a lovely day out with plenty to see and do, as well as with places to rest in, but we didn’t have much time. I think 48 hours would be perfect for time to see the Castle (a museum and gallery – top picture), go into the Cathedral, and wander around the Lanes (independent businesses, pictured above) and antique shops. Here are our top picks for 24 hours in the city:

Stop number 1: Looses Emporium | http://www.loosesemporium.co.uk/ | 23-25 Magdalen St, Norwich, NR3 1LP

This place is pretty huge and has a whole range of items from furniture to Roman coins to children’s books. I found a few bits and bobs (like the fireside spaniels and an enamel teapot), but I could easily have bought more if I had room in my bag!

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Stop number 2: St Gregory’s Antiques & Collectibles | http://www.st-gregorys-antiques.co.uk/ | Pottergate/St Gregory’s Alley, Norwich NR2 1ER

Antiques in a 14th century church? Yes! So cute. The church is beautiful with a well-looked after stained glass window – I loved the old airplane suspended from the ceiling! A lot of old stuff in a bit if a jumble but good for a rummage. Loved the collection of old pocket watches and clocks.

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Stop number 3: Aladdin’s Cave | http://www.aladdinscavenorwich.co.uk/ | 52-56 Magdalen Street Norwich, NR3 1JE

I couldn’t take a picture of the shop front as I didn’t have a lens with a wide-enough angle! This place is prety big, with a pretty good mix of things. There were old toys, a fab selection of ephemera, and plenty of china.

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If you are in Norwich, you have to visit the Cathedral. We barely had time to because I had spent all day rummaging through old things. As the sun was out, however, we couldn’t help but laze about in the grounds of the Cathedral and bask in the light.

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Places for food & drink: We stumbled upon Number 17 late-ish afternoon, desperate for food before our train home. How glad we were! The lovely, family-run place had outdoor dining in a little courtyard/back garden, where the B&B rooms were. We loved the fruit growing on the trees, the quiet garden, and the vintage crockery/tea sets. Oh, also, the food is freshly made and the cakes are homemade!

1. Number 17 Bed & Breakfast | http://www.number17norwich.co.uk/ | Colegate, Norwich, NR3 1BN

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2. Roots | http://www.rootsnorwich.co.uk/  | 6 Pottergate, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1DS

We stuck our heads in but didn’t end up stopping here for food. However, the menu looked delicious and reasonably priced. We loved the idea of cake tapas!

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Images: Courage & Dash

Drinking it all in…

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“I am so fond of tea that I could write a whole dissertation on its virtues. It comforts and enlivens without the risks attendant on spirituous liquors. Gentle herb! Let the florid grape yield to thee. Thy soft influence is a more safe inspirer of social joy.”
― James Boswell, London Journal, 1762-1763

I love tea – tea on its own, or with scones and cake and buttered toasts; tea on a summery evening or on a cold, winter morning. Today I visited Best of Britannia (you should definitely go have a look – it’s a market stocked full of all types of British designer-makers), and discovered the wonderful Comins Tea House, in Dorset (more on them next time!). Rob, the co-owner/founder of the teahouse, has such respect for Oriental tea-drinking ceremonies and traditions. It reminded me of tea drinking as a child with my father – his Chinese roots had instilled in him a real reverence for and delight in taking tea properly, and he loved to share those traditions.

When Dragonfly Tea (a family-owned British company with over 100 years experience) gave us a copy of their new guidebook, Brewed With a View, we were really intrigued. I rather love taking my tea in bed or while lounging on a sofa, but this guide book paired tea with locations, and encouraged the reader to connect the flavours of the tea with the scenery. I guess tea drinking is supposed to be a public and communal experience! Think of all the poetry reading and calligraphy that must have happened under moonlit pavilions in China…

I chose Pu’er, a fermented black tea with a slightly earthy taste. As you can see, I still take my loose leaf tea without straining – a Chinese habit! Brewed with a view paired my choice of tea with Glengoyne Distillery in Strathclyde (I think the connection is smokey whisky?) – imagine drinking tea in a distillery! Would love to try that. 

Of course, I paired my tea with a chocolate chip cookie, because, really, if we are thinking of tea as a comfort, cookies definitely fall under that definition! We do intend, however, to give the guidebook a whirl – wouldn’t it be fun to sip tea that evoked connections with your surroundings?

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A limited first-run of the Brewed With a View guidebook (which comes with tea samples) is available at the following visitor centres and on dragonflytea.com:

–       Liverpool Tourist Information Centre, Albert Dock
–       Tatton Park Visitor Centre
–       Kibble Palace Shop
–       Glengoyne Distillery Shop
–       Roman Baths Tourist Shop
–       Glamis Castle Visitors Office

Let us know if you do manage to pick one up and use it!

For more information, visit http://dragonflytea.com.

 

Images & Styling: Courage & Dash