Monday, 27 April 2015

Stratford-Upon-Avon

We love Stratford-Upon-Avon, known as Shakespeare's birth place it is quintessentially British, packed with history and a great place to spend the day.

With our friend Lisa in tow we decided to make the most of the lovely weather and head there on Saturday. It's a half an hour drive from home and as a tourist place it has plenty of parking - even if it is pricey!

Highlights (in our opinion) are:

  • Taking a canal boat into the surrounding countryside - just beautiful
  • Wandering the streets and admiring the old buildings - including Shakespeare house
  • Hanging out by the canals admiring the view and the sculptures 
  • Popping into the all year Christmas shop
  • Making a pit-stop in the fudge store, or cheese store or any store allowing you samples
  • Chilling out in a pub by the canals

You can check out what their tourist board recommends here: http://www.visitstratforduponavon.co.uk/

We did most of these on Saturday and were lucky enough to time it for Shakespeare's birthday celebrations so there were street performances, Morris dancers, Irish dancers (not sure of the link to Shakespeare but I love Irish music so it was fine with me), bands playing and a street market. It didn't leave much time for exploring the shops!


With Bisbee in tow we had also scoped out a dog friendly pub - the Dirty Duck - it had a great menu and views overlooking the canals, it was the perfect spot to chill out, catch up and enjoy a fruit cider. How very British :)

Bisbee would like the steak please!

There is something so relaxing about having the time to hang out with great people in great places - while it would have been nice to sit at home by heading out we had an unexpectedly fun day.

Outside Shakespeare House!
A personal highlight was poor Bisbee being passed around a hen party for pictures - well she was modelling her baby grow and looked super cute (even if we say so)! Although L did feel the need to inform anyone who looked over that the only reason she was wearing a baby grow was because she had just had an operation.

It is so nice having our old Bisbee back, after 3 days of moping around and being diagnosed as a 'drama queen' by the vet it was great to see her back to her energetic self - she even resumed the position of guard dog protecting L from the sun of all things! This is what our Sunday looked like:

We hope you had a fun weekend!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

I am about to blow your mind!

Well okay I won't blow your mind I might just change the way you think about certain things and if you are anything like me when someone tells you something that changes what you once knew *mind blown*!

Here's an example: Mount Everest is the tallest mountain - I have always been told this is true or had I always thought this was true? All I know is if I had ever been asked the question I would have answered Mount Everest. However the tallest mountain is in fact Mauna Kea, Mount Everest just has the highest peak!

See *mind blown*

How about this one: The forbidden fruit mentioned in Genesis is an apple - right? Wrong! Well maybe right but in actual fact the bible doesn't actually name the forbidden fruit it's just been passed through the history books that it was referring to an apple! Makes you wonder what else in the bible has been interpreted the wrong way or in a way that suits the person reading it- sorry I won't go there - but seriously I have only ever seen pictures depicting an apple!

I was reading a list of misconceptions that people believe to be true in the paper this morning, the article is here, and it is fascinating. The study was conducted by Ripleys Believe it or Not in London. I love history and I love knowing how things started or how phrases originated - I did a fun fact Friday on it way back when: here and here (this was the original)- so these kinds of articles always get my attention.

Source
It never fails to amaze me how much we take as fact without ever doubting it, whether it be an old wives tale, a superstition or just out of habit or because our parents did it yet how much has the world changed? How much more do we know now compared to ever 20 years ago? How much do we now turn to Google for instead of our parents? However old beliefs die hard and I for one know first hand that changing someone's mind can take years even if you are armed with all the facts.

I always love to drop in that homosexuality is present in every species yet homophobia is only present in one because that tends to end any debate on 'being gay is a new thing' or 'why are there so many more gay people now - it must be because more people are reading about it'!

Now a few of the misconceptions I did know about or had figured out but vitamin c is not an effective treatment for a cold - what! That's right it builds up an immune system helping prevent cold and flu but once you have it scientists say there is little or no evidence that vitamin c will help you fight it!

That goldfish only have a 3 second memory - I always thought this wasn't the case and now it has been proven - goldfish actually react to light and music and other sensory cues! I knew Nigel and John (my goldfish of 12 years) were listening to me although my family convinced me I was imaging it.

And that shaving doesn't make hair grow back quicker - I have been told that it does by Laura on a regular basis and now I feel like I finally have the proof! It does appear that shaving encourages hair growth but in reality it's just stubble - hair grows at the same rate and thickness whether you save frequently or not.

Another one I will have to drop into conversation at some point is the fact that we don't just have 5 senses - did you know we actually have at least nine and research says it's actually more like 21!

Finally and because I have one bothering me now - houseflies only live for 24 hours - not true! They can live for a month in the wild - right let me find that fly swat I can't work with the incessant buzzing!

The buzzing by the way is the beating of it's two wings #notsofunfact.

So there you have it - did I blow your mind? Have you got any misconceptions that you always thought were true until one day some article or some person challenged your very beliefs?

Oh and a quick dog fact - the 1 human year = 7 dog years is just a myth, it can vary depending on the size and breed of dog quite significantly.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Our little girl!

Well not so little girl had her op today to save the world from lots of other Bisbee's - which while they would have been super cute - is a good thing. We ummed and ahhed and googled and asked friends and fellow pet owners before making the decision. We knew we would get her spayed we just didn't know if we should let her have her first season or not and it seemed that the world was divided.


Our vet was pro getting it done as soon as she was 6 months while others seemed to believe there were health benefits to waiting till her first season - including confirmation that she would be fully grown. We debated until she got to 6 months and still hadn't made a decision then after reading a few more stories about how other dogs had been through weeks of discomfort and some had 3 week seasons we made our decision. We would get her booked in at almost 7 months - not 100% fully grown but also not exactly 6 months old either.

I guess we will never know if we made the right decision on timing but we made the right decision for us and therefore her. 3 weeks of discomfort in the heat would be no fun for anyone and at least doing it now she will be back to her usual self just in time to enjoy the weather.

However watching her walk out of the vets was the saddest moment we have had to date. Her initial reaction was to raise her head and the cone of shame and wag her tail but after than brief exertion she has barely acknowledged us. She cried when she banged the cone on the door frame and when L was gently cuddling her in the car home. She stood still for a good five minutes when we arrived home, not wanting to move and wanting more than anything to get out of the cone of shame.

Had we mentioned that Bisbee has always been a drama queen?

If we hadn't she is. She always has been. We love her for it because in the main it's hilarious. She sneaks up on you in the kitchen - ninja style - then when you have the audacity to move to cook she screams as if you stood on her when in reality you stood by her! You moved your foot by her!

In fact we have told our neighbours that if you hear a puppy scream it is most likely that we moved near her head and she didn't expect it.

Modelling the cone-of-shame

But anyway our little drama Queen is now out of the cone of shame - we didn't have the heart to make her sleep in it - and into baby grows. I know, I promised i'd never be that 'puppy mummy' but I am, I somehow fell so in love with this puppy that I would do anything and everything just to make her life a little easier. So they you have it we have our puppy sleeping in baby grows hoping that it's more comfortable than the cone of shame and hoping she can get her rest and be back to being our Bisbee soon.


Guess which end s the head :)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Have you been to Stuttgart?

I'm just wondering if you've ever been to Stuttgart? If not you should - you know if you want a great mini break, you like beer or you just want to discover somewhere new!

I mentioned in the last post that we were finally following up on invites and getting out to explore and we were invited to Stuttgart by a lovely lady called Hanna who was from Stuttgart. We met Hanna back in London 2 years ago  - she had followed our blog and sent us a message (via our Facebook page I think) saying she was coming to London and would we like to meet for a drink. So on a very rainy night we met in a bar in Hammersmith and despite the language barrier we got on great. We got to hang out again when Hanna came to visit us in Birmingham while on a trip to the UK to visit friends and so when she invited us to Stuttgart before she left for her world tour we did everything we could to make it happen.

We had hoped to head over for her leaving party but unfortunately work commitments meant we couldn't make the dates work. Easter tied in with Laura's brothers birthday though so we agreed we'd fly over Friday morning and back on Sunday night. Conveniently Birmingham did direct flights to Stuttgart and it only took 1 hour 20!

As an extra bonus our flight to Stuttgart was only quarter full so it was like we had our own private flight. Laura and I passed out for most of it - well a 4am start has that effect - but on arrival we were good to go. Hanna met us at the airport and took us back to her flat. After a diet coke kick we made our plans and decided to make the most of the beautiful sunshine and explore the city.

Stuttgart is Germany's 6th largest city and is capital of the Baden-Wurttemberg region, it is famous for it's automobile history especially Mercede-Benz and Porsche who both have museums in the city. It is also known as being a visitor friendly city in general- they male being a tourist easy. Plus those clever Germans are so good at speaking English that you find yourself reluctantly turning off the translation app and speaking the mother tongue. Well German was never a strong point of mine even when I was taking a GCSE in it.

With our trip advisor list on our phone, Hanna's local knowledge and Laura's brother request to find and drink a beer boot we set off. The metro ran us straight into the centre in 10 minutes and before we knew it we were in full tourist mode. Selfie stick in hand we made the most of the quiet streets and beautiful weather. Turns our Easter Friday most things close in the Catholic city so we had the place (almost) to ourselves.

We saw the old castle and new palace, the Schlossplatz (which was where Laura spent the 2006 world cup), Kunst museum, Staats theatre, Schillerplatz, we went up the main station (Hauptbahnof) to see over the city and the Mercedes-Benz arena (well we drove past it).



Best of all Hanna knew a central pub that did the all important boot of beer so we headed there for a late lunch. We sampled a local specialty called 'cheating on god' - so called because monks were forbidden from eating meat of Fridays so they hid in in a ravioli type dish so god wouldn't see it! It was SO good though - as an atheist I did feel like I was cheating so much as indulging!
My feelings on beer may be obvious!

After being fed and watered - well intoxicated - turns out they charge more for tap water than for beer or soft drinks in Stuttgart!- we headed to Wilhelma the city's botanical gardens and zoo. The gardens were beautiful you could walk through indoor rain forests with birds and butterflies flying around, admire the waterfall and in our case learn new names for plants - turns out daffodils are Easter Bells in Germany!

Wilhelma also had a massive aquarium and selection of wild birds that seem to fly in and out as they pleased. The flamingos seemed pleased to stay put and entertain us though which we appreciated as the boot of beer meant we lost Jason for almost an hour trying to find the bathroom!

We weren't comfortable seeing the larger animals in captivity so called it a day rather than see lions, tigers, monkeys etc in cages.

On Saturday we got to enjoy a very traditional German experience thanks to Hanna's family. We drove to her parents house and were treated to a traditional meal of 2 types of sausages, bacon joint, spatzle and lentils. It was delicious! At the end of the meal we were invited to participate in sharing schnapps. They had homemade versions and they were SO GOOD. Laura and I favoured the bratsapple and without knowing how strong it was got rather merry!

Our hosts were wonderful and spoke such good English that it was like hanging out with family - we got to experience flying a drone (they can go a mile upwards you know - although not advisable when drunk) and got to see a beautiful part of the country. It was like a traditional alpine village or German market everywhere we looked and we were so glad we got to experience it.


On our trip back to the city we got to really see how hilly Stuttgart is. It makes for gorgeous scenery and the vineyards that pop up holding on to the hill add to the pretty views.

Saturday night was spent relaxing in Hanna's flat before heading out to enjoy the city nightlife and extra strong cocktails. Watching the sunrise at 6am and hearing the bells ring through the street was a great way to end the night.

Our Sunday flew by - mainly as it didn't start to 1pm - but we still got to explore a museum, enjoy a schnitzel and see a guy get out of his house on a rollercoaster! Well why not when you live on a hill. We also got to use the selfie stick to capture the views over the city!

It was a jam-packed weekend and we slept the whole of Monday once we arrived home.  We had such a great weekend and were so lucky Hanna had asked us over. We would definitely recommend Stuttgart for a mini break !



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Where we are now!

Well hello there! How are you?

Life is good. Our life is good. It's quite bizarre having a life - well a life that isn't spent travelling in a car or getting home at 8pm or up at 6am. We know how lucky we are though, we acknowledge it almost everyday. We know we are the lucky ones and we are really trying to make the most of living in wedded bliss. Can you believe it's almost 10 months since we tied the knot?!

I was prompted to write this post after two messages in one day asking why we had stopped blogging and as I am on a 3 hour train ride it seemed the perfect time to start a new post. So the reasons we have stopped blogging are so undramatic they are almost not worth mentioning but here goes:
1) As we are together much, much more we are focusing on being in the moment and that doesn't involve opening a laptop
2) Bisbee - well spending time with Bisbee. She is a dream come true and is bringing such joy to our lives that when we aren't snuggled up together we are discovering new places with her, having our evening walk or being amused how such a little package can contain such entertainment. She is pure happiness and love.
3) Laura's brother has moved in with us while he sets up a life here in the UK - the clever sausage managed to get a job in a week so next step is a flat.
4) We are focusing on people that add value to our lives - this blog has opened so many doors and introduced us to so many new people but up until now we haven't been able to set up meetings or follow up on invites so we are making the effort and it is invigorating and taking us to places we had never thought about - including cute market towns in the North, places that inspired films (Lord of Rings was one) and new cities in foreign lands Stuttgart to name one (we'll do a separate post on that :))
5) Along the same lines we are also giving our parents more time. Before Laura's family had to track our movements via the blog - we were never able to set up regular Skype dates and now we can. It's refreshing to be able to catch up weekly. The same goes for my parents, we actually get to hang out with them and spend quality time together rather than spend tired evenings with them -it's so nice.

We loved London, we loved our life in London but moving out was hands down the BEST decision we have made to date. Seven years in the amazing city was enough - we saw the Olympics, we saw numerous Oxford vs Cambridge boat races, a Royal Wedding, a Jubilee, Prides, parades, free music events, theatre shows, so many restaurants, pubs and clubs and the most impressive (in my opinion) historical sites and we loved it all. Well we didn't love the constant traffic, the commuting, public transport (while efficient it was never pleasant), the time it took to get ANYWHERE, the crowds and the cost - but you know nowhere is perfect!

The thing is now we can visit (as I frequently do for work) and enjoy all it has to offer before heading back to the country and breathing a big sigh of relief. To be a tourist in London is great and we plan to be a tourist on numerous occasions over the summer but to be a Londoner takes energy we'd rather spend elsewhere.

And so life is good. We are excited for the summer and what it will bring - especially now my wonderful wife has sorted a doggy passport - the three of us will no doubt be on tour before long! I'm hoping we'll do a drive up to the top of Scotland at some point on a road trip and maybe make it across the channel- BRING IT ON!

So to answer the anon on tumblr who asked how married life is treating us - the answer is very well thank you!

If you want to keep up with our goings on we are far better at updating our Facebook page, Instagram page and twitter! Keep in touch we'd love to hear from you.