Saturday, 28 May 2016

Longhorns, Newcastle

Longhorns BBQ Smokehouse, Newcastle Review

Last Saturday I did something a bit scary. I met someone off the internet. Now, the last time I did that I ended up marrying the guy, and I think this time went just as well (no marrying though as bigamy is illegal).

Chloe blogs over at New Girl in Toon and I went on about how much I love her blog in my post a few weeks ago about blogs to follow so I'm not going to go on about it again. Just, go follow okay?! Chloe and I actually have friends in common, and could have met 2 years ago at the mutual friends wedding, but unfortunately it wasn't to be so we eventually met up for the first time on Saturday. I'd never been to Geordie-Land (what I call Newcastle, as Stoke has a Newcastle too) and had always wanted to visit ever since I watched Byker Grove as a kid, so Rich and I made the journey up the motorway and went for brunch at Longhorns BBQ Smokehouse.

American Smokehouse BBQ Graphic Wall

Now I could pretend to know lots of things about the location of the place, but we drove to the car park Chloe directed us to, parked up and it was just around the corner. We said our hellos to Chloe and Simon and headed inside, where we were allowed to choose where to sit. Obviously we chose the table near the window (always thinking about that lighting!) and settled down, chatting away getting to know each other.

Longhorns BBQ Menu on a clipboard

Rich always calls it cheating, but I had started looking at the menu the day before in order to try and narrow down what I wanted for breakfast, but there were too many good looking options, so I wasn't anywhere near deciding when we got there. Torn between many things, we all spent a bit of time trying to settle on options, and Chloe and I were both scoping out what the boys wanted to eat, so we could choose different things, so we could try more of the menu!

Two coffees in black mugs

There was one thing I definitely knew I wanted though, a coffee. I'd been good and not had one all week, so I was excited to get a caffeine fix. The coffee was really smooth, and even though I'm no expert, I knew it was a good coffee. It did give me quite the buzz though, so sorry to Chloe and Simon for talking very quickly for the rest of the day!

Mexican Eggs Benedict

Eventually a decision was made on what to order and the food arrived in good timing. I opted - after flipping between this and the pancakes with syrup for far too long- for the Eggs El Mexicana which is basically a Mexican Eggs Benedict. Poached eggs on a muffin with a chorizo salsa and hollandaise sauce. This was super tasty, it had the right amount of spice, and was unusual, yet yummy. The eggs were poached to perfection without any hint of vinegar and had a beautiful runny yolk.

American breakfast on a tray

Rich and Simon went for the same thing, the 2 meat breakfast, with Texas toast, sausage patty, bacon, poached eggs and syrup. I only managed to swipe a bit of the Texas toast and syrup, but it did make me a bit jealous. Wish I could have ordered both things for myself!

Eggs Benedict with beans

Chloe opted for the Pit Bean Benedict, and for the review of her brunch, you'll have to check out her blog post!

Brunch on trays on a wooden table. Photographer in back

We had a lovely brunch together, and chatted for ages. The staff were great and didn't mind us staying well past our brunches were finished, and after a couple of hours when our bums began to go numb we headed out for a stroll along the quayside before heading to a bar to carry on chatting.

Rich and I had a brilliant day out, and will definitely be back to visit Newcastle again soon, and Chloe and Simon were excellent tour guides! If they'd have us we will definitely be meeting up again, which will more than likely involve food, again as we all chuffing love our grub!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Honeymoon | Flying Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic

So, in case you've been living under a rock - I got married in November and I've written all about it (click that link to catch up!). Rich and I went on a mini-moon straight after the wedding to our favourite Hot Tub Lodges in Yorkshire which I wrote about last time we went a couple of years ago. I didn't take any photos as the entire week was just spent recovering from all the stress and excitement of getting married.

I'm so pleased we didn't go on our big honeymoon straight away, for two reasons, one being that for at least the first 3 days of our mini-moon I really didn't want to do anything which wasn't stuffing my face or lounging in the hot tub, and the other is that I could not have coped with the stress of packing for a big holiday at the same time as the last minute wedding stuff. How do brides do it?!

Clinking mini prosecco glasses

When Rich and I started thinking about our honeymoon we were really at a loss of where to go. We wanted to go somewhere luxurious, but still with plenty to do. America was my number 1 most desired destination, but we couldn't decide on a location which would give us everything we wanted. Eventually we settled on a cruise. It meant we could have the luxury we were after, with lots of activities to do, and we could start and end in America, so I would get to visit at long long last!

I'll talk more about the cruise in my future honeymoon posts, but the one we chose used Miami as it's departure and arrival port, so we decided to extend the holiday by 3 days and stay in Miami first. We saved like crazy for our wedding and honeymoon - as well as very generously being gifted donations towards the cost, and it meant that we could afford to spend the bit extra and travel premium economy to Miami from Heathrow, which was a very exciting experience for me, especially as I'd never flown long-haul before.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Menu

We were welcomed onto the plane with mini glasses of champagne and shown to our very spacious seats, which had little welcome packs on them with a blanket, pillow and bottle of water (there might have been more, this was a few months ago now!). We settled in and were offered newspapers and the menu for the flight (!!) which of course I immediately began looking at, having only ever once eaten on a plane, which I can't remember at all, I was eager to see what it was like.

The air hostesses looked after us so well, once we had settled into our seats they brought around hot towels, which made me feel so fancy!

After takeoff the drinks trolley came round for the first time of many and we were offered a drink and some mini pretzels. All of the things they came around with were included in the ticket price, and you could have had any alcohol you liked, which is why we opted for Virgin over British Airways, as BA only offer you one alcoholic drink per flight. Even though Rich and I aren't big drinkers, as the prices and everything else was identical, we thought why not as it was our honeymoon.

I got very stuck into the entertainment system on the plane, loving the movies, TV shows and games - especially as they had Tetris!

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Main Meal

The main meal arrived and it was surprisingly tasty. I love the mini propeller salt and pepper shakers, and that they gave us a mini cheese and crackers. I ate better on the plane than I do at home! After the wine I was beginning to get a little tipsy, so watched a movie and stopped being quite so hyper and excited for a while.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Fab Ice Lolly

Then they only went and brought us a mini FAB lolly each! This made me so excited again, it really is the little things.

I loved tracking where we were on the map thing on the entertainment system, and seeing how fast and high we were. I did take a lot of things on the plane with me to do, as on the budget Europe planes I've been on before there is no entertainment at all. I didn't end up reading my magazine or using the iPad at all as there was so much to do, which was great as it meant I had those for later on in the holiday.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Afternoon Tea

Nearing the end of the flight they brought around afternoon tea, which consisted of a sandwich, crisps and a mini chocolate bar. It was a little stingy in my opinion, but that's probably cos I'm a bottomless stomach - especially when I'm on holiday.

When the flight landed we were one of the first off the plane, and our luggage was the second group on the luggage carousel, something tiny, but very much appreciated as I hate having to wait ages for your luggage, especially as it's usually so crowded and I end up needing a wee.

The whole flight experience was brilliant, we really felt well looked after, and if we can ever afford it again I would definitely repeat the experience! I'm not sure how I'd like not having as much leg room on such a long flight, or as much room to spread out. I think I spoiled myself for life now.

Next Wednesday I'm going to be talking about our time in Miami, which was an amazing three days.

Rachel x

PS - I also did a vlog of the honeymoon which you can watch below:


Saturday, 21 May 2016

A Fun Day Out at Thorp Perrow

Thorp Perrow Review

A couple of weekends ago was a bank holiday weekend in the UK, and Rich's Mum and Step-Dad came up to visit. As the south coast is so flipping far from us now in North Yorkshire, it doesn't happen very often, and we hadn't actually seen them since we got married in November, so about 6 months!

Bluebell closeup

I'd heard great things about Thorp Perrow from other people who live locally, and some friends, so I decided that come rain or shine on Sunday we were going to go visit.

white daffodils

Of course, it rained. So there isn't actually that many photos of the lovely gardens which we walked through as I didn't want to get my camera wet, but it did dry up enough in the afternoon for me to get a shot of these lovely late daffodils and the bluebells above. The gardens were really pretty and well kept, and I know that Rich and I will be buying season tickets to make the most of them in the summer.

horned black faced goat

Thorp Perrow isn't just about the gorgeous gardens though, they also have an animal section, which has a good variety of animals to look at. The goats were very inquisitive, but unfortunately I didn't get to hear them scream (which is my lifelong wish, ever since seeing this YouTube video: goats screaming).

meerkats on grass

They didn't just have goats though, they had other animals too, such as these cute meerkats which were very sweet, and when a chicken hopped into their pen, they all gathered around their youngest, which was adorable to watch.

wallaby by tree

wallaby and baby in pouch, grazing

The wallaby enclosure was fantastic, because you could go in and interact with them to your hearts content, they were free to wander right up to you and you could stroke and pet them. Visiting in spring was a good choice, as seeing the young in their mothers pouches, but hanging their heads out to eat like in the picture above, made for very sweet viewing.

Bird of prey display crowd

They have a huge area dedicated to birds of prey and owls at Thorp Perrow, and this was my favourite section, as I love owls. I heard a kookaburra's call for the first ever time, and saw many many cute owls. There are free talks and bird displays on twice a day, and we got front row seats for the first one of the day.

Crested Caracaras

Crested Caracaras feeding

The first birds we met were George and Mildred the Crested Caracaras. These were very quick birds who preferred running around on the ground to flying, and would do anything for food, so we were warned to have all food and drink safely put away, or else it would have gone missing. It was interesting learning more about these birds, and their funny story at Thorp Perrow. Crested Caracaras mate for life, so when they got this pair, they were "at it" quite a bit, but they never produced any eggs. Worried, the staff took them for lots of tests, and eventually found that instead of being George and Mildred, they should be called George and George. Luckily for them they decided to train them for displays, and let them live out their days happy together.

European Eagle Owl

European Eagle Owl

European Eagle Owl asking for attention

European Eagle Owl

European Eagle Owl landing on arm

This stunning fellow was a European Eagle Owl, and he had a great time swooping all over the place getting food. He was so affectionate as well, earlier in the day we'd seen someone handling him and he was giving and receiving so many cuddles and snuggles. I've always wanted an owl for a pet anyway, but I want one even more after seeing him. Utterly gorgeous!

Falcon and Handler

The last bird of the show was this falcon, and this is the only non-blurred photo of him that I managed to get, he was so fast my poor camera couldn't keep up with him. The handler swung food around for him on a piece of string, a bit like how you'd swing a poi-poi, and the falcon would swoop down to try and get the food. It was amazing to watch, and really gives you an idea of how powerful the birds are in the wild.

All in all it was a brilliant day out, and Rich and I are definitely buying season tickets so we can go back as often as we can as long as we're living up here.

Have you ever been to a place like this? Do let me know!

Rachel x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wedding Wednesday | The Funny Photos

Funny Wedding Photos

This is the last post in my Wedding Blog Posts series, sad times I know! I've shown you all the parts of the day, so I thought to round it off, I'd show you some of the funny photos the amazing photographer Phil managed to take of us.

Bride and Father laughing

I genuinely have no idea what we're looking or laughing at here, but this photo was taken whilst waiting for the music to start and for us to walk down the aisle. It was the one moment at which I got really tearful, and had to make the decision, either I was going to be a crying heap of lace, or smile and laugh - so laugh is what I did! Luckily my Dad joined in with me so I didn't feel quite so crazy.

Groom and Best Man Holding Hands

Best Man cuddling into Groom

I love the amount of photos of Rich and his best man, Dean, where they are either cuddling or holding hands. They're definitely not shy in showing their affection for each other, and it gave me quite the laugh when looking through the photos when we got them!

Groomsmen wedding cuddles

Groomsmen cuddling

It wasn't just Rich and Dean who were into cuddling though, the other two groomsmen, Andy and Jimmy got involved too. Rich and I didn't spend the night before the wedding together, so I think he was just missing all the cuddles he usually gets!

Bride funny face

The award for the most ridiculous face of the day though has to go to me. What was I doing?! And how can I crease my mouth up so well that it looks as though I have a Disney villain moustache?! I may have had a nice frock on, but I was definitely still my usual dorky self!

Bridesmaid Funny Face

I'm not the only one whose face can do impressive things though, this face from Nat is so funny, because it is one she uses often. Can't remember what was causing her to pull such a funny face though, probably Rich actually being nice to her in his speech (usually they're always teasing each other).

Bride Invisibility Cloak

Groom Game Over Tshirt

These two photos also make me laugh, as they're showing some of the funny "presents" my Dad gave to us as a part of his speech. He talked about my undying love for Harry Potter, so gave me an invisibility cloak (which I seem to have mislaid - any ideas Dad?) and gave Rich a gaming Game Over t-shirt, as Rich is really into his gaming, and many people were joking that he wouldn't be able to game any more since he got married. (Actually he built me my own computer so I can game/blog with him. We're awesome.)

Bride applying lipstick

I love this photo as it shows the actual reality of a wedding. This is after the ceremony when we'd first headed outside to start taking photos. Rich noticed my lipstick had rubbed off so I reapplied it using his phone as a mirror. The things husbands have to do!

Bride in a group hug

Now, it may have looked lovely and warm in all of the outdoor photos, but let me reassure you, it was chuffing freezing. After a while of doing photos I began to lose all feeling in my hands, and when I finally came inside my friends felt how cold I was and immediately huddled all around me, penguin style, to try and warm me up again. It worked though, and I was very grateful to them for it. I don't think I look cold in any of the photos though, which I'm proud of myself for!

Later on, when we were heading out to take the stunning night time snow shots, this photo was taken, and it makes me laugh so much as I look ready to go on a hunt with the giant umbrella and Rich looks very proud to finally be carrying my train properly. Any brides to be reading this post, you need to train your husband to be on how to carry a dress train in the correct way. I didn't think it would be difficult, but it seems to go in the same category as wrapping your hair in a towel - things which men just don't get.

Whilst scrolling through these photos, I saw the cool shadow ones, and then the hands came out, and then this happened. Poor poor photographer Phil. Boys will be boys!

Whilst we were outside, our (very tipsy) friends had managed to persuade photographer Phil to lend them his spare camera to take some photos with. The photos they took turned out so funny that he had to include them in our album. I love these boys, they're such a laugh, and never fail to make me giggle!

That's it. That's all the wedding blog posts done! Next week will be the beginning of the honeymoon blog posts - and hopefully the honeymoon vlog. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my wedding, and that it hasn't been too boring. Thank you for all of your kind comments as well - they always make me so happy.

Rachel x


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Wedding Wednesday | The Little Details

Okay, so far I've talked about the venuethe outfitsthe hair and beauty and the whole day. This time I'm talking about the little details of the day, or basically all the things that I thought were cool which I couldn't do a whole post on.

The Rings

First up, one of the most vital parts of the wedding, and the longest lasting part of the day. The rings. My engagement ring is quite large and blingy, so I knew straight from the beginning that I wanted a very simple wedding ring. Also, as I work in the NHS with patients (sometimes) I'm allowed to wear a wedding ring if it's plan, with no grooves or gems, so it made it quite an easy decision for me. It's very thin and simple, with a notch in it to fit my engagement ring into.

Rich's ring was another story, who knew how many choices men have for a wedding ring. Even choosing the material is difficult! Eventually we settled on this one which is a simple palladium one, with a brushed design. They're both from Hugh Rice who were fantastic and gave us brilliant service from beginning to end, and resized and cleaned my engagement ring and the other ring I always wear at the same time, which was a nice touch. 

The Flowers

My wedding flowers were something which I knew that I wanted, but didn't really know what I wanted. I went to The Topiary Tree Florist to talk to Rose about the vague ideas I had, and she grabbed the idea and ran with it. Everywhere else we'd been said to us "Winter wedding - white roses" which was completely cookie cutter which was what we were trying our hardest to get away from. Rose started grabbing various flowers out of her store to show us, and showing us pictures of things similar to exactly what I wanted. She's utterly brilliant, and the bouquets and buttonholes we got were fantastic, everything I could have ever wanted and more. The fact that she's such a lovely person is icing on the cake.

The Wedding Cake

If you know me, you know I bloody love cake. It's up there with one of my most favourite things in the world, and was my favourite part of wedding planning - cake tasting! Rich and I knew we wanted a very simple looking cake, white and navy, with the only pattern being a white texture. Ever been to a wedding where most of the cake is leftover at the end of the night? Well we didn't want that to happen, so we opted for three different flavours of cake, to hopefully tempt people into having a slice of each. The bottom tier was lemon, the middle was carrot cake and the top was red velvet cake. And all three were chuffing lovely, as Rich and I said at midnight on our wedding night eating it in bed. As it should be. The cake was made by Wendy at Tiers of Affection.

The Readings

The readings are the part of the ceremony where you can most personalise it, and after choosing our friends who we wanted to do us the honour of performing a reading, we then had to try and find two readings which we liked, and fit us and our ceremony. For the first reading we asked Rich's friend Jen to read The One by Cheryl J Barclay which was short (as she was nervous) and really touching. 

For the second reading we asked two of my best friends, Cat and Jen to do a reading together. Finding a reading which would work well with two people was really really difficult. I did lots of internet trawling before finally stumbling across someone who had transcribed the poetry slam piece Love You Like That by Shane Hawley which I knew instantly would work brilliantly for two people, and once modified slightly, was funny and very apt for Rich and I. If you want to watch Cat and Jen do the reading it's the YouTube video above and only 2 minutes long. It was utterly fantastic, I had no idea they were doing props, and it left a lasting impression on all the guests. Even the registrars said that it was the best reading they've ever seen at a wedding, and they'd seen a lot of weddings!

The Hashtag

Being a complete Instagram addict (@inelegantwench btw) I knew I wanted a hashtag for the day, so I'd be able to quickly and easily look at everyones photos in one place. I tried to design it myself but struggled, having very limited design skills, and a high level of perfectionism. Eventually I found this website which lets you enter your own details and choose from a few different designs. I then printed a couple out and put them in some photo frames I had knocking around. They looked great, and the guests most definitely got the message, and I had loads of instagrams to look at after the wedding.

The Speeches

It's traditional for just the groom to give a speech, and the bride to stay blushing and quiet, but that was never going to suit me. I have always enjoyed public speaking, and Rich really wasn't looking forward to doing the speech on his own, so we teamed up and thanked everyone together. To still give it that cute touch, we borrowed (stole) an idea from a couple of our friends who got married last year, and we both wrote a short paragraph to say to each other as a part of the speech. We made a few people cry, so mission accomplished!

Wedding Postbox and Mad-libs

Rowton Castle kindly supplied us with a wedding postbox for our guests to post their cards into, but I thought it could have another use. Instead of a guestbook, I had seen on pinterest wedding mad-libs, where you have sentences with gaps in them which your guests fill in, such as "I think Rich and Rachel's first pet will be a ____". The responses we got ranged from the sweet and touching to the downright cheeky. They were so funny to read through the next day, especially as some people wrote more and more in correlation with the amount they had to drink, increasing their funniness. I'm going to get them bound together and can keep them to flick through in years to come.

Wedding Photo Display

Sadly, Rich's Gran and Grandad aren't with us any longer, and we wanted a way to remember them on the day which wouldn't be too intrusive, or to bring the mood of the day down at any point, so having looked on pinterest I'd seen other people have displays of photos of the sadly departed guests. This was perfect, but I thought it would be fun to have a photo of every guest at the wedding's wedding day, and include one of his Gran and Grandad in memory of them. We had wedding photos ranging from the early 1900s through to just a couple of months before our wedding and it was so interesting looking at what people were wearing. My Great Uncle was wearing flares and platform shoes in his photo! 

The Tragedy Performance

So, Nat and I were huge fans of Steps back in the day, and at primary school we learnt the dance routine for Tragedy, which we then performed at every family function for the next few years. It's also resurfaced at a few weddings, and in a few night clubs since then, as it seems to be something once learnt never forgotten. Shortly after Rich and I got together he may have seen me perform the routine in a club, and then when it was on at a wedding he went to a month later he texted me saying that it was on and it reminded him of me, and he hated it because it's a rubbish song.

The germ of an idea planted itself into my brain, and at my hen do, in a hot tub with all my hens I proposed that we all do the routine flash mob style at the wedding reception. They all emphatically said yes, and it was decided. Nat and I got my Dad to record us doing the routine which we then sent to the hens to practice, and we then performed it in front of everyone at the reception. Everyone loved it, the family for the memories of Nat and I performing it as kids, and our friends for the hilarity. It was so much fun and definitely made the wedding very us. 

I hope you've enjoyed the little insights into the more personal aspects of our wedding day, and I'll be back again next Wednesday showing you some of the funniest photos that the photographer managed to snap. 

Rachel x
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