Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Isle of Wight

Maybe it's the longer days, maybe the warmer weather, or perhaps the early holiday photos starting to spring up online - but the past few weeks I'd found myself craving walks on the beach, tasty food and just a change of scenery.

Boats at Cowes Isle of Wight

So when my mum suggested spending a few days in the Isle of Wight, I was only too happy to agree. It's a place I'd never visited before, yet close enough to be an easy trip to squeeze into my days off.

We set off on the wettest Wednesday I've seen in a long time - not ideal holiday weather - but fortunately, things did improve! Picking my sister up en route, we boarded the ferry at Southampton and crossed the Solent, arriving on the island early afternoon.

With the rain putting most outdoor activities off the menu, we sought out somewhere to eat and with a bit of googling, came across The Lifeboat Inn, a restaurant alongside a marina. Basically, I'd picked this place because I saw the word 'halloumi' on the menu, which has always served as a good way to find somewhere to eat in my opinion. This tactic did not disappoint - we had some delicious halloumi and falafel burgers, and narrowed down an excellent dessert menu to creme brulee with fresh strawberries.

The Lifeboat Inn East Cowes

Halloumi and falafel burgers

Strawberry and vanilla creme brulee

Lifeboat Marina East Cowes

For our only full day on the island, we started with a drive to Alum Bay. I forget how beautiful beaches in the UK can be, and the coloured sands and sparkling water looked wonderful in the morning sunshine. We took the chairlift down to the beach, and then went out to The Needles by boat.

Cliffs Isle of Wight

Chairlift at Alum Bay
 Alum Bay Isle of Wight

Coloured rocks at Alum Bay

The Needles

We then ventured on to East Cowes, wandering along the sea front and stopping to enjoy some tea and cake in one of the cafes. Shortly after this however, the clouds drifted over and the rain began so we got back in to the car and drove to the south of the island to admire the scenery (if not the blue skies).

Royal Yacht Club Cowes

Cowes Isle of Wight

For dinner we ate at The Bargeman's Rest, a pub near to the hotel - and serving the hugest portions I've seen in a long time. My main could easily have satisified three people, and the peanut brittle sundae I ordered for dessert completely defeated me!

On the final day we returned to East Cowes for breakfast, fuelling up on eggs and coffee before taking a trip to Osborne House, the seaside residence of Queen Victoria. It's a beautiful English Heritage property, and so beautiful in fact that I'm saving it up for a post all of its own!

Osborne House

After a lovely few hours in the house, grounds and beach of Osborne House we headed to the nearby Albert Cottage Hotel and it's Consort Restaurant. I'd highly recommend this as a place to eat on the Isle of Wight - their food was delicious, perfectly portioned and the staff were very attentive. Plus they have the most beautiful gardens outside and seemed to be serving a very popular afternoon tea.

The Consort Restauant Albert Cottage Hotel

Goats Cheese and beetroot


Coconut and mango meringue

Albert Cottage Hotel Garden

And not long after that it was time to go home! Back on the ferry, across a slightly less grey Solent to the mainland and a lovely weekend reunited with my favouite Jack Russell...


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Little Things I've Loved This Week #50

Happy Things Coffee

It feels like a while since I've managed to write one of these posts. Not because I haven't had lots of lovely things to talk about, but just that I've been too busy to sit down and do it! However, as I say frequently, these are one of my favourite posts - a chance to reflect on the good things in life, to appreciate the moments that make me smile and a bank of positive things to look back on when I need a little pick me up. 

With the events in Manchester this week, I deliberated over whether to write this post or not. Whether a list of how wonderful my week has been, while others' lives have changed forever is appropriate. But this post has never been about selfishly celebrating my own happiness. It's about recognising the best bits of life, enjoying the good in smallest of things, finding light in the gloomiest of days and making every day count. And I find it's times like this that it helps to remind ourselves that there is far more good in this world than bad, it just depends where you're looking.

So here are the things I've found to smile about this week:

Compliments on my suturing skills. I've been spending a lot of time in the operating theatre recently, and have been given a few opportunities to close up the incisions at the end of the operation. Suturing was something I found incredibly tricky at medical school and was sure I'd just never get the hang of. So it's really made me happy to receive repeatedly good feedback from my supervisor, telling me that she thinks I'm a natural at it! Like many things I initially found hard at medical school, I think it's sometimes just a case of waiting until you meet the right teacher before you really get something.

Thank yous. All my colleagues are great and always polite, but sometimes we are so caught up in work we don't really acknowledge when we help each other out with the little things. So the fellow junior doctor who sought me out to say thank you for not just checking some blood results while on call, but updating their patient list so she didn't have to do it in the morning made my feel very appreciated. Similarly to the anaesthetist who specifically thanked me the next day for offering to take some bloods on the ward which meant we avoided delays on the operating list. I don't do things for the thanks, but it's nice to be acknowledged.

After works drinks in the sunshine. Finishing an oncall shift at 8pm really doesn't feel so terrible when it's still light enough to sit outside in the evening for a drink. And even better not needing a jacket!

Gold glitter nail varnish. Three days off this weekend = enough time to make it work painting my nails. I forgot I even had this particular Nails Inc polish!

Brie. I often say I'm not really much of a cheese eater - but by that I really just mean that I'd probably be not too bothered if you told me I could never have cheddar cheese ever again. Because Friday evening I treated myself to Brie and baguette and it was delicious! It always takes me back to summer holidays in France.

Homemade Thai green curry. I've never made my own green curry paste before, so I gave it go a Saturday night. There's something rather pleasing about starting with raw ingredients and creating something that unmistakeably smells like a green curry!

Let me know some of the happy moments of your week?


Monday, 8 May 2017

An Afternoon at Ham House

Ham House National Trust Richmond

When there's bright daylight streaming through my blinds, I can't face the thought of staying in all day! So Saturday morning, spying weather that was ideal photo-taking conditions, I packed up my camera, grabbed my National Trust card and jumped on a train to Richmond.

National Trust gardens have become one of my happy-places, somewhere I can wander for ages snapping away. I've been trying to make an effort to visit new places - recently I've also been to Osterley Park and Basildon Park, so Ham House was next on my list.

Thames Path River Sign

Back of Ham House

Ham House is about a mile and a half away from Richmond Station, but it's a beautiful riverside walk beside the Thames. Just before arriving at the house I got a little bit distracted by the polo club next door and ended wandering down a few more footpaths trying to get a glimpse of the polo ponies from afar. 

While I wasn't all that interested in the interiors (it was all dark wood panelling, rather too gloomy for my liking), the exteriors and the gardens were right up my street. In fact, I skipped the house completely when I arrived and headed straight out into the gardens. 

Hedge Tunnel Garden

Statue in garden

Garden gates

The gardens are extensive and absolutely beautiful. Everywhere I turned seemed to hold more and more photo opportunities, and the house itself makes for a pretty stunning backdrop to the greenery. What was especially pleasing (in terms of photography anyway) was the near lack of other visitors, despite being a Saturday afternoon - although it was just gone midday. 

National Trust Gardens

Garden Bench

National Trust gardens

Having covered the gardens, crisscrossing back and forth in search of all the best angles, I wandered through to the Orangery for something to eat. I settled myself at the tables outside, a fruit scone with jam and cream in front of me and plenty of beautiful wisteria to set the scene around me.

The Orangery

Purple tulips

Gardens and house explored, I made my way back along the river to the station, mindful of the hundreds of photos I would have to sort through that evening!

Where are your favourite places to spend a weekend afternoon?

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