Thursday, 31 October 2013



Or home-owner-ween in our case! BAM!

Today we are dressed as Rocky Horror Picture Show party-goers in preparation for our third or fourth (lost count) annual Rocky Horror viewing at Prince Charles Cinema in London, but as we are separate, I'm finding it easier to say I'm the Monopoly guy. Photos coming soooooooon!

As office manager/creative director/resident American in my office, I'm throwing a small Halloween bash for my colleagues in the afternoon. It includes Monster cupcakes, carved pumpkin, sweets, and a good old fashioned donut-on-a-string contest. Thanks of course to my beautiful fiancee for staying up way past our bedtime to make the cupcakes into monster faces!!!

Also, I'm making the couriers trick or treat. So far I've gotten a lot of confused what-is-this-weirdo-doing-should-I-take-candy-from-a-stranger reactions, ooh except they would have thought sweets not candy, because this isn't America, but they take the candy anyway and do say Trick or Treat, so I'm #Hallowwinning, really.

I've said before that it makes me sad that the UK isn't all about Halloween like home, or really excited about ANY holiday - but I'm pleased to report that my English office has been very good about it. My colleague Hugo is my new favourite because he has worn a child's cat princess dress all day. It's apparently pretty constricting, for vital things like breathing, but I'm impressed.

Have a fantastic Halloween - what are you up to, and what are you dressed as?

Also, watch this - I love Jon Stewart more than most people, and so when Kristen Schaal shows up, who I also love, and talk about 'sexy' Halloween costumes, which is one of my totes fav topics... it's just the best.

Is Kristen gay? If not, can someone PLEASE convert her?

Next year, I'm going as sexy pizza.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

♥ Home Sweet (New) Home ♥

There are so many wonderful quotes with the message that life is for living and you can't let opportunities pass you by. This year we've really taken that advice, in numerous areas of our lives together. Thanks to Laura, we've always had our 'grand plan' (she's always thinking five years ahead haha) but sometimes life is unpredictable, and you just have to take a chance!

And so without any further ado, cryptic messages or inexplicable excitement, we. have. officially. bought...... a house! Our very own home. A place to call our own, to make memories, to raise our furbabies.

WHAAAA?? We can hardly believe it either! As if planning a wedding wasn't already enough!

Here's how it happened. In August we were visiting Lauren & Sarah in Birmingham and spotted a house on their estate for sale, that Laura had picked out as one she wanted from the very first time we saw them in May 2012. Even though we knew we weren't financially ready (you know, with a wedding to pay for and all) we wanted to see the house so we had some idea of what we would get in the area for the price they were asking. It was an interesting visit. The house was a good size and although decorated it was an interesting colour scheme (burnt orange stripes, nice!), we weren't sold but we saw potential. That was until we spoke to L&S afterwards and found that there were lots of not-ideal things we should be aware of about the house....we were soon put off completely! The estate agent we had met had thought we were an easy sale so when we met up with her later and told her we weren't interested she wasn't impressed in the least!

Thankfully she recovered and with a bit of quick thinking she suggested that she show us another house on the estate as we were in the area. As we walked through the door the house was so well finished it was like walking into a show home- it was perfect! There was more space in this one, the kitchen had a built in dish washer - a must for Laura (and surprisingly uncommon in UK homes). As we continued to look around the smiles on our faces grew and by the time we reached the last room we were so excited......then reality hit. This house was a good deal more that the one we had visited originally. We couldn't even afford the first house, so what were we excited for?

Sarah's Mum, who 3 months ago had made a huge step in inviting Laura home for Sarah's 30th, had come with us as she loves looking at houses. We were so grateful to have her with us as she comforted us when we realised the first house wouldn't work out and spent time asking the people selling loads of questions - about the neighbours, the local rates, the appliances etc - all the grown up questions we wouldn't have thought about, and then as we sat on the couch facing reality she offered us a solution - a loan from her and Sarah's Dad - then she spoke to Sarah's sister to ask for her help and in a whirlwind of organisation and funds she got us enough to cover a deposit and, we still can't believe we are writing this: WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!!
Isn't it the most British-ist thing you ever did see?
So just before heading to Idaho we were running around like crazy people getting a mortgage, sending off passports and payslips, meeting solicitors and getting everything in place for survey and searches while we were away.

We decided to move out of our London flat to save money, as now instead of saving up to buy a house, we are saving to pay everyone back! Typical us, doing it backwards, but it is much more rewarding missing a few meals out here and there as we know it will help us get our dream home. In another amazing surprise move, Margaret and Andy offered to let us stay with them! So generous, and is enabling us to save quite a bit each month. It's also been really fun involving them in house-related fun times, like looking for fitted wardrobes and purchasing our first sofa!

It's not been without hardships, though - because we are living in Reading and working in London, and driving in, it takes about two hours to get to work each morning, and 1.5 to get back home in the evening. That's a lot of time travelling! Laura also has to stay at work almost an hour longer than her hours each day, while Sarah is on her way back from her work, further in town. This means way less time to ourselves during the week as we don’t get home until gone 8pm. But on the plus side, we love coming in together and not using public transport – lots of hand holding, radio singing, waking up quality time! And we are very grateful to Sarah’s mum, who makes dinner for us ready for when we arrive.

In the new year, we will be finding a Monday to Friday flatshare, so we can continue to work in London while decorating our dream home on the weekends.

So there you have it! If all goes to plan, we’ll be moving in 16th November – our 56 month anniversary. We can’t wait to show you updates and photos as we spend our first Christmas season in our new home!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Javea or Xabia, a beautiful spot on the Costa Blanca

Javea or Xabia, depending on which name you find easier to pronounce, is a beautiful area in Spain. Officially part of the Costa Blanca it is surrounded by the Mediterranean on one side and an hour away from Valencia to the North and Benidorm and Alicante to the South. Javea is made up of three separate parts; the beach (Arenal), the port and the old town all well linked my road. Overlooking the town is the Montgo – not quite a mountain by a constant presence providing shelter between the mainland and coast.

The holiday was my 30th birthday present so I had a few months build up and a chance to research before arriving in mid-October. Flying into Alicante with my Mum and Dad we knew we had an hour’s drive to our apartment. Our flight landed at 1am local time and although finding our hire car was simple the journey was not! Mainly due to small Spanish road signs and no clear direction on which way Alicante was.

After driving in the opposite direction for 45 minutes we realised that we hadn't seen an Alicante road sign and on arrival at a toll booth got the news we dreaded. Our destination was the complete opposite direction! Thanks to straight roads we could turn around and re-do the 45 minute drive before getting on the right road – nightmare!

An Aunt had joined us at the apartment and we settled in making ourselves at home before passing out. The apartment (found on owners direct) was exactly what we needed. Spacious, with three bedrooms we had plenty of space to spread out and when morning arrived we found ourselves looking out over the beautiful pool.

The apartment was by the marina, a short walk from the beach and main town centre and in a complex that looked like it belonged someone more exotic than Spain.

For a relaxing break I could not recommend Javier more. Although the journey from the airport was not great once we were there we had everything we needed in a short distance. From essentials like supermarkets to the non-essential nail bars this small town had it all. Along the seafront was a continuous line of bars and restaurants offering everything from tapas to fish and chips, Chinese to Italian – it became hard making a decision!

With temperatures between 25 – 30 degrees it was perfect weather to lay on the sandy beach and explore the area. The old town held a market on two days and wandering the streets you got a real sense that not much had changed since the town was first built in the 14th century.

On the Wednesday we heard Valencia was celebrating the ‘Day of the Valencian Community’ with a fiesta so my Aunt and Uncle drove the hour and a bit to arrive just in time for fireworks. It was a new one on me – fireworks in the day! But the noise was more than enough to get the party started.
From the fireworks we followed the crowd to the town square for traditional Spanish dancing – castanets and all, before the final event – a parade through the streets. Featuring Christian and Moors army outfits, dancing horses and bands it is an experience to enjoy up close.

Not only is the 9th of October the day of celebration for the communities independence from Moorish rule it is also the ‘Lovers Day’ or ‘Feast of Sant Dionís’ where gifts are exchanged between couples. All in all a great day of celebration in a beautiful city – I loved Valencia and can’t wait to bring Laura back!

I also took a day trip to Benidorm. My parents met in a bar on Benidorm seafront some 36 years ago and after a brief holiday romance and some perseverance on my Dad’s part they were reunited in the UK and have been together ever since. As well as enjoying dinner by sunset on the promenade we paid a visit to the very bar and the hotel my Mum stayed in all those years ago. It hadn't changed! While Benidorm in itself fulfills the expectation of being tacky and full of high rises the people were aged anywhere between 20 – 90. Turns out it is a place for all ages and with the bustling old streets packed with shops and bars you can see why. I personally was glad to get back to the quiet, relaxed Javier but I can see the appeal if you want sun, sand and sangria!

When I wasn’t day tripping or standing on my bed to get wifi signal and connect briefly every day to L I loved nothing more than strolling to the beach, talking a dip in the warm ocean and then sleeping or reading on the beach. Although tanning wasn’t my top priority it seems relaxing in the sun allows me to turn a colour that causes L to go ‘who are you and what have you done with my Sarah’ – there I was thinking I was a bronzed beauty :)

Depending on what you want from a holiday I couldn't recommend Javier more highly. Easy to get to – just a 2 and a bit hour flight from London, not too expensive (our week cost just over £250 per person including flights) and with a local Spanish feel with British ex pats (if you need a paper or directions) it really was a great holiday!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Happy 25th Laura

Today my wonderful fiancée turned 25 and although we are apart I thought I would do a quick post wishing her the very happiest of birthdays.

I have no idea where to start with this post as she has achieved so much in her 25 years that it would take way more than a post to explain even the half of it. This blog in itself is testament to just how much she's done in the past 4 years!

I admire her so so much for so many reasons, not least because not many 25 year old have left their home towns to set up life in a foreign country. I am so glad she did otherwise I would never have met her-imagine that! Terrible!

Not only is she far more organised, capable and better than me I just about everything but I honestly believe she makes me a better person each and every day! Her ability to make our dreams come true never fails to impress me, where my cynicism may have held us back she has found solutions or made it happen. My Laura really does make my dreams come true!

As I sit here way to far away from her I look at all the amazing photos of things we've done and couldn't be more grateful that she picked me to spend life's journey with, I am one lucky lady!

Next year is set to be our most exciting so far and I can't wait, mainly because this beautiful, wonderful, amazing, incredible women is becoming my wife! I am not one to wish life away but seriously June can't come quick enough.

I love that girl more than life its self! I hope celebrating in Israel with Agent Smiffy gets the year ahead started off in the best way possible! And the we can spend the rest of this month celebrating an extended birthday together next week.


-sorry for the lack of photos, turns out Internet here is intermittent and can't do photos!-

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Aaaand, we're off again!!

As you're reading this, we are currently in two different places - Sarah is on her way to Spain with her parents, and Laura is still in London at a Brentford football game, but heading to Israel with her Dad shortly. It's weird because it's the first holiday we've had apart, besides when Laura is in Idaho without S, and the first birthday we've spent apart.

Alicante, Spain

Jerusalem, Israel
But both holidays will be AMAZING and everywhere has free wifi these days to keep in touch, so we are sure we'll come back with lots to share in the way of birthdays, adventures, sunburns in Laura's case, sun tans in Sarah's...

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Our Autumn List, Plus a Bonus PSA

When we arrived back in ole' England a few weeks ago, we were (unpleasantly) surprised with how COLD it was! Apparently Autumn came while we were away! We were shivering outside for like 20 minutes waiting for Sarah's Dad to pick us up, and completely over it.

And then, sometime last week, I remembered - it's AUTUMN! As in, my favourite season of the year! The time for cute outfits, pumpkin flavoured everything, my BIRTHDAY, the lead up to 'no-diet' month (December, duh), and I finally don't have to see the mid-riff of every teen and tween on display! Hallelujah!!! Put that skin away, minors!

Then, of course, it randomly got warm again, so everybody awkwardly left their scarves at home, and everyone was sad. Except my colleagues who love outdoor summer activities.

We are currently going through some big changes at home, just got back from an amazing holiday, and preparing for one more hot holiday this weekend - so today, 3rd October, I'm going to make and share my our list for Autumn 2013.

Celebrate my BIRTHDAY - this Sunday! For the first time since we've been together, Sarah and I will be spending my big day apart (sadface) but will both be on holiday (redeemingly happy face!) - I'm turning 25 in Israel with my Dad, and Sarah will be in Spain with her parentals!

Introduce Sarah to a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup

Try a new recipe every week - when it's cold outside, it's so much more fun to bake, cook, and listen to Michael Buble's Christmas album secretly in October - just kidding you guys, it's Bieber's Christmas album.

Go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween!

Dress up for Halloween (separate to RHPS) - I'm in charge of my office Halloween party this year - so you know it'll be over the top and American-ized, like all good holidays are!

Carve pumpkins 
Aww, remember Paul you guys?
Start wearing cute scarves, hats and gloves immediately! Well, immediately upon our returns from holiday. You hear that Britain? Cool down. Now.

Restart our romantic date night once a month, as summer was just too busy to keep to any romancin' schedule

Have a child trick or treat at my house - or my work, or anywhere! I can't believe the child in the flat below us doesn't get to trick or treat, surely that's child cruelty? I'll give out candy to the couriers at work if I have to, it is FINALLY happening this year.

Side note, Last year I worked with a guy with two kids, who he wouldn't let participate in Halloween because it 'encourages celebrating the devil' or something of the sort. I was (and am still) completely offended by that - Halloween may have historically been about the evil spirits or whatev, but these days its about candy, and also about candy. No, it's about letting your child dress up, they can be whomever they want to be for that night! Also, it's about adults doing it too. And candy.

And no, Britain, it is not about dressing sluttily and getting plastered. It's about candy.

Well that took an odd turn. I'm off to wear all of my scarves at once, and to Instagram the hell out of it.

Also, judging from my social media feed, a lot of us suffer from CFD. Watch this PSA video on the horrific symptoms of this seasonal disorder.

Honey badger got CFD, but honey badger don't care.