Monday, 30 May 2016

PRIDE: Are gay rights still relevant?

It's Pride season again and we are prepped and ready!

We are lucky that Birmingham hosts one of the first UK Prides so we don't have to travel far to celebrate. With outfits ready and the sun shining we headed into town and took our place along the parade route.

We were photographed by quite a few people - Bisbee is quite the star- and one of the photos even appeared in a national paper here!

In preparation for Pride we watched MILK - have you seen it?

We had been meaning to watch it since we visited the Castro while in San Francisco and while the rainbow covered area was a great place to visit I had very little idea about it's significance. I had no idea that the streets we were walking on were the scenes of such momentous and historical relevance. In all honesty I had very little of who Harvey Milk was or why he is such a worshiped figure in the LBGT community.

The film was a documentary, educational and informative while bringing Harvey Milk to life. On finishing the film we both sat in silence, it resonated. The fact that we had been to the locations resonated. The fact that the issues highlighted in the film seemed so out of date yet still occur in parts of the world today, resonated.

The fact that Milk made political history in 1977 by becoming the first openly gay man in politics and was supported by Mayor George Moscone has had more of a baring on my life and other LGBT lives than I ever knew.

We are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where the response to 'i'm gay' is usually 'so what?' and having seen the film I will never EVER take that for granted.

While LGBT in the UK and USA are no longer persecuted or deemed 'sick' it is amazing that there are still headlines like this in today's paper:
From Daily Mail 11/11/2015
Or that in countries like Australia marriage equality is STILL to happen and there are still headlines like this:
From Daily Mail 11/11/2015
It is evidence that while we are a world away from what Harvey Milk fought for - stopping a law being implemented that would lead to the firing of gay teachers and anyone who supported them (he won by 75%) we are not far away enough. How was it only 2 years ago that gay marriage was made legal?

The other point that really stuck with me was the line that Milk kept saying 'show them that they know one of us' - what he was referring to was LGBT individuals coming out and showing family and friends that we are one of you, we are the same. We are no different. Being gay shouldn't define you, it is part of you but it is not all of you. It is something that I completely agree with. I am gay but so what?
'Burst down those closet doors once and for all and stand up and start to fight' - Harvey Milk

Some of Briggs arguments - shown in the film - were that having gay teachers in schools would allows them to recruit children to be gay! However it was the Anita Bryant part of the film that I found shocking - her arguments were based in religion. I found it shocking because the it wasn't that long ago in the news that 'The Mormon church ban children of gay parents'. The main line being ' In their new policy manual, the church also said that Mormon same-sex couples will be considered apostates (The term apostasy is used by sociologists to mean renunciation and criticism of, or opposition to, a person's former religion) under new church guidelines. '

It proves that while the social battle is being won and the LGBT community is more accepted than ever before there is still a way to go especially when it comes to religion and in parts of the world where Harvey Milk's points still resonate.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Are you hiding behind the internet?

There are endless benefits to being online, in our world top of that list is it makes the world a smaller place. Having the ability to Skype family and have them in the room with you is a million times better than seeing them once a year! Then there is the bringing together and keeping in touch with friends that just wouldn't happen based on today hectic schedules for all its faults Facebook has revolutionised our world.

Then there is work, can you imagine a day at work without the internet? I struggle to imagine a day without email – in fact my current job would not exist without the internet – imagine eLearning without the ‘e’. I’d be back in front of a classroom – how old school :)

There are of course the downsides. The fact that you actually have to physically take yourself away from technology to be away from the internet and it’s constant incessant chatter. It’s almost strange how it is now so ingrained in us that we can happily lay in bed checking updates without it ‘over exciting our brains’. Remember when there was all the publicity about how you should turn your TV and computer off at least half an hour before bed to let your brain calm down?!  How are our brains no longer overloaded by this anymore?

The other downside is the hatred and anger that is so often easily put into the world via email, tweets, posts, texts etc! Can you imagine a day when you felt angry or annoyed and had to confront someone face to face to sort it out? It wasn't all that long ago - right?!

It was this example that actually reminded me to write this post. I weirdly started it a month ago after a discussion L&I had on car journey but then promptly forgot to finish it. It was round the time of this: Is it ever appropriate to hate love? We were surprised at the level of hatred and abuse. It’s the same when I get a work email (maybe not on the same level) but the rudeness of some people really surprises me. What surprises me more though is the fact that these are perfectly nice people in real life. We’ll never know with half the commentators on FB posts but my money is on the fact that they would never say half the stuff they write.

Maybe some of them should follow these simple rules:

I guess the ability to be ‘Anon’ is also a benefit in these cases. Often we’ll have an Anon question and they aren't complimentary, in our world though Anons are easy to ignore and delete, move on we don’t know them but imagine if we were young(er) and impressionable – it’s horrible to think about.

Recently there was an article about ‘Online bullying has more than doubled within the last year, with 35 per cent of 11 to 17-year-olds becoming victims of such abuse, a new study finds.’ Source:

The problem is when individuals aren’t caught then there is nothing to stop them from continuing. It’s why I always like to see people standing up for each other on feeds when something mean or down right idiotic is said. I am still reeling from ‘Stone the gays’ put on a WEDDING website – who goes round thinking that stuff?!

In my Mum’s world her ability on a phone when making a complaint has seen her rewarded with things that we would have never been achieved going through an ‘email complaints form’. It turns out companies (in the main) appreciate being told about their mistakes and having the chance to apologise if you speak to them rather than sending angry TYPED comments. It's obvious when you think about it but how quick are you to jump online? I know for sure that Twitter is definitely a place for us to vent and sometimes I feel bad about it. Although it has helped us get results in many situations by getting companies to CALL us to discuss the issue!

This advert I see on the tube every day also got me thinking and I now try to force (as nicely as possible) my customers to meet me face to face if they have any issues. It’s amazing the difference it can make.

It has also helped in a relationship sense. In our world we Skype, WhatsApp and text, we rarely pick up the phone and talk and it is amazing how a lack of tone in text can take an innocent comment and turn it into something else – mainly sarcasm in my case – and how quickly that can turn into an entire misunderstanding. So now we are trying to avoid silly conflicts by talking more, it’s strange how such a simple thing can make such a difference.

And there I shall leave this slightly strange rant. I will get off this laptop and make a call to my wonderful wife, I’m going to be less afraid of the phone and try to start talking more rather than typing more and see if it really can make a difference.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Our First Year Wedding Anniversary Part 3 (The Final Part!) - Bob Bob Ricard

I'd seen photos from the glamorous Russian restaurant Bob Bob Ricard in London on Instagram over the last few years, and always had it on my list of 'one day, if we have the money/an occasion' items.

So when I suggested it to my 'realist' wife for our anniversary and showed her the photos, I definitely expected her to say no. It is the most expensive place we would have ever eaten! So I was shocked when she said she thought it was a great idea, and I booked it before she could change her mind.

My parents very generously offered to pay for most of the meal as our anniversary present, so Saturday we set off all dolled up to have our first anniversary dinner!

And let me tell you, it was incredible. I think I thought the experience would be amazing, but didn't expect the food to be stellar, because it would be more about the experience. Does that make sense? But I was wrong!

The dining room was beautiful, very ornate, with the wait staff in suits with tails, and we ordered a cocktail each to get things started. Sarah ordered a chicken, mushroom and champagne pie, and I ordered the filet mignon, with a few sides each.

It was just divine. The filet mignon cut like butter, was medium rare and to die for - the pie was flavourful and warm, and the top of it was beautiful! Weirdly, one of our favourite bits of the meal was seemingly simple - the honey glazed parsnips and carrots almost brought tears to our eyes. We have tried to recreate it since to no avail.

The sides are quite small, but I'd say the flavour of everything more than made up for it.

And then, we noticed the 'Push for champagne' button at each table - and thought, should we?

How could we not take advantage!

We were delivered two glasses of rose champagne, and after a cheers to this wonderful last year of our lives, we got onto ordering dessert.

We ordered the eton mess ball and strawberry and cream soufflé - which paired very well with our lovely drinks, if I say so myself!

Then, the icing on the cake (quite literally) of this amazing night, they had overheard us talking about our wedding anniversary and surprised us with this pretty little celebration ice cream cake, which had sparklers on it and made us feel very special.

In short, we cannot recommend Bob Bob Ricard enough for a special celebration meal out. Delicious food, fantastic service, one of a kind experience. We will be back, whenever we can find a wonderful occasion to celebrate! Surely getting through this week counts - celebration that it's Friday!

Part 1 of our Year 1 Wedding Anniversary celebrations can be found here! We checked out Book of Mormon.

Part 2 can be found here! We were at Pride!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Making Pizzas and Sipping Cider at The Stable Birmingham!

About a week ago, we were lucky enough to be invited for a cider talk and tasting, as well as making pizzas (!!!) with some fellow Brum bloggers, at The Stable in Birmingham. We were really excited as we've visited The Stable before, for their pre-opening celebration as well as a few more recent delicious dinners out, and also because making our own pizzas sounded so much fun!

The Stable started in Cornwall, using fresh and locally sourced ingredients and forming relationships with lots of cider makers. This combination was such a success that they are now opening up plenty more in locations across the country!

We headed to the restaurant's Birmingham location, which is very well located between New Street station and the Mailbox, and found it immediately.

We were greeted with a glass of Hogan's cider, and took a seat at one of the bench tables to take in the atmosphere. It seems trendy but relaxed, with nice local touches like a mural of a bull to signify their near-the-Bullring location, candles and live music; we felt comfortable and at home there instantly.

We were treated to a cider talk by Alan from Hogan's Cider - he got us to taste five of the different ciders his company makes, and we had a new appreciation for the process the cider goes through from apple to glass. I also got to speak to him about the more recent revival of cider in the USA - when I was growing up, there was no alcoholic cider to be found - you could only find non-alcoholic hot apple cider. I've been a huge apple and fruit cider fan since I moved here, so the talk was very interesting!

A bit merry, we were shown back to the kitchen, where we met the head chef, who showed us how to make pizza. I think they were a bit shocked, as bloggers we had to take photos of every step before completing it, I imagine we took longer than they had hoped! But hey, perfection takes time :)

I made my favourite of their pizzas, the Perry Barr-Baa, with lamb, sweet potato, goats cheese, onions, mozzarella and... in my case lots and lots of mint! Sarah created the new May special pizza, called The Big Jerk. It features jerk chicken, smoked bacon, roasted yellow peppers, red onion, mozzarella and spring onion.

The hardest bit of making our pizzas was getting them from the work surface to the oven in one piece. We needed to get them onto a wooden paddle, which was much harder than we thought it'd be! Sarah took three attempts, and I ended up asking the chef to do it for me before I ended up with pizza on the floor.

I've got to say, I was pretty impressed with our pizza-making abilities (okay, it was mostly because we followed The Stable's recipes. Humour us!) - they tasted divine!

We devoured our creations alongside a cider-tasting board, it was so much fun to get to try so many delicious drinks. The Stable has over 80 ciders in-house at every location. Incredible!

I believe we've tried over half of the pizzas and pies on their menu over the many times we've visited, and we've yet to come across one we didn't love. We are making plans to visit their original Cornwall location later this year/early next when we take a road trip down that way!

We definitely recommend heading to the Stable in Birmingham - or, in fact, whichever location is nearest to you, and trying their delicious pizzas, pies and one of their many varieties of cider!!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Digbeth Dining Club!

If you live around, or can get to, Birmingham you have to check out the Digbeth Dining Club!

Digbeth Dining Club is Birmingham's Original Street Food Event and we finally got to go on the last weekend of April.

If you want the background check out their website here: Digbeth Dining Club

The concept is simple, every Friday night in Digbeth local street food sellers set up their stands, vans and cars and provide a group of people with delicious food. The last Friday of the month is always the biggest event and shuts down an entire Digbeth street. The stands are split between an undercover area at the back of a nightclub and a street. The nightclub itself provides the seating and live music.

The food on offer was full of variety, we had agreed beforehand that we would visit every stand before making a decision on what we would try. That in itself was a challenge - the smells as you walked in immediately got the tummy rumbling and we almost got tempted by a kebab cooking on a car!

Staying strong though we narrowed down our dinner choices to three stands all fulfilling our key criteria:
1) It had to be food we couldn't get everywhere
2) It had to be something we would both like, so we could share
3) It had to look good and smell amazing

Our first course was: Pietanic They are a gourmet Pie shop that travel in Claude - their converted van to deliver fresh homemade pies in delicious flavours. We went for a cheeseburger pie with a side of mash. CHEESEBURGER PIE - it's like marrying Laura and I's favourite food. It was so good.

Second course was from Buddha Belly - you have to track these guys down, the noodles and crispy chicken we had were AMAZING! They specialise in Thai street food. The chef Sai was on Masterchef and you can taste why - the flavours in the dish were incredible!

Our final course was from Becky's Bhaji's . Tagged as the 'best bhaji's ever' our experience did not disappoint. delicious, fresh and with the right amount of spice. They are also made as gluten fee and with completely local ingredients. We were reaching for the Diet Coke after our second bite but they were well worth it.

The queue for Bourneville Waffle was too long as we had a car park ticket to get back for but we'll track them down next time as the millionaire Waffle looked incredible.

If you are near Birmingham city centre on a Friday night check this event out! We had a great time and while we didn't hang around for hours the time we spent there gave a sense of the vibrancy and diversity the event attracts - both caterers and diners!

Entry for the month end events is £1.50 and while we paid it begrudgingly you can see what you get for the fee - the seating areas, the music and the opportunity to try AMAZING food. We will be back!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Our Bachelorette Party Video is Here!!

Hope everyone is enjoying the lovely May weather we are enjoying here! We've had an awesome weekend which we will catch you up with later in the week, but one thing I managed to do was finish and post our Las Vegas Bachelorette party video!

I worked on it a few months ago, then when I picked it up again this weekend, I couldn't find the footage anywhere - was getting really nervous when I finally located it!

I've used all 'free' music, which we will be doing moving forward, so our videos can be viewed on mobile devices and in all countries.

Without further ado, here's the link!!

It was so lovely to remember what an amazing time we had with some of our nearest and dearest - even though we can't believe it was already almost two years ago! Can we go back to this celebration please??

We hope you enjoy it!!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Bank Holiday Cotswold Trip

I love this time of the year in the UK as it's bank holiday time - or as I like to think of it 'free holiday time'. The only challenge is you never know what the weather will be like so planning anything is a risk. Last year we were trudging through mud being rained on in Wales and the year before we were sunbathing in the garden!

As we had Laura's parents staying with us we thought we would make the decision to go somewhere and make it work come rain or shine. The destination was a last minute cabin we found in Somerford Keynes in the south part of the Cotswolds. Not a million miles away from home but tranquil and relaxing and perfect for long dog walks and chilling out.

The relaxing part was taken to a whole new level when we realised on arrival that there was no internet.....three of us had read the cabin description and not one of us had spotted the lack of wifi! After the initial shock we rallied and agreed that it was actually a good thing. If we needed to check something balancing on one foot hanging out of the cabin got us just enough signal to get data to survive :)

The cabin was lovely. A perfect size with a well equipped kitchen and cute bathroom. The fire had to be kept alight with wood they had pre-chopped for us although Laura's Mum took a turn at wood-chopping too. It also came well stocked with board games and puzzles - we discovered bananagrams and had a very competitive game! At night it was so dark and quiet it felt as if we were back on the Isle of Skye.

We had also checked the essentials - like where to eat, shop and what we could do before we left-  we had found a great pub called the Greyhound in Siddington (thank you TripAdvisor) less than 10 minutes away - and that the Cotswolds water park was a short walk away. 

The owner of the cabin was also super helpful and had left us a folder of maps and things to do guides. I had my highlights listed within half an hour of arriving. 

The trip wasn't so much about the doing though, it was just nice to have some time away and a change of scenery. The Cotswold's never fails to looks impressive, we love the quaint villages and houses that look like they belong in story books. The flowers seem to bloom all year and the sense of stepping back in time all add to any trip we make there. 

Somerford Keynes is just a small village, it has a pub and a shop and that's it. Oh and a Sculpture part that backed on to the drive way we had to use to get to our cabin. So in terms of things to do we had to head a bit further afield. Cirencester, Bath and Gloucester were all less than half an hour away but the Cotswold water park seemed like a good choice. Unlike the name would have you thinking it's not a water park with slides and rides, this water park is a park with lots of water well lots of lakes. It does have water activities: kayaking, canoeing, wake boarding etc but it's best know for it's wildlife and beautiful walks - and having a beach! Well a strip of sand - don't go expecting a beach!

We spent a couple of hours walking around the main lakes and Bisbee had her first attempt at a swim. The water was cold so it was a brief attempt and only done because 4 adults were shouting encouragement - we don't think she's a natural water puppy!

The cabin itself was not far from the source of the Thames River so our other walk consisted of us following a stream (the American's were less than impressed with the size of the Thames at points). Compared to the Thames in London it is on the small side but from small acorns grow great trees and from from small streams come great rivers - I was impressed!

I also introduced everyone to pooh sticks - turns up this is a British thing that no-one else had heard off! And I'm not sure in the modern world it holds quite the same level of excitement as it did for me as a kid.

The Greyhound had kept us well fed - everything we had there was amazing. The menu made it hard to choose just one thing but if you are in the area for lunch, dinner or just a snack check it out! Their ice-cream is well worth having - I had mine with a waffle - so good I had two!

Our drive home involved a pit stop in Burton on the Water a typical, beautiful Cotswold village and our timing was perfect as may day celebrations were getting started. We wandered around the fete and entered a duck race - we paid £1 to enter a duck in a race where they float down river and the winner over a set distance gets a prize. Our duck failed...badly...even with Bisbee squealing with excitement and getting us to chase it down stream.

After a yummy baguette we got back in the car and drove to Broadway - one of our favourite Cotswold towns. This time our timing wasn't so good, we arrived at the Broadway hotel just as the lunch time rush did and as our hopes of a cream tea faded into the crowd we suddenly got lucky when Laura's mum spotted a family leaving and swopped in. For the next 2 hours we sat comfortably stuffing our faces. Bisbee's spent the 2 hours sleeping at our feet. As the rain started pouring outside we decided heading home was the best option. Up to that point we had enjoyed an unexpected about of sunshine so it wasn't worth pushing our luck!

The trip to the Cotswold did not disappoint, we can't wait for more guests to share the experience with.