Three Years/Nine Years

Happy Anniversary Matthew!

Thank you for three wonderful years of marriage and a whopping nine years together. Would you have believed those two kids up there would have started dating, let alone gone 'all in' on the love, house and marriage stuff?

Thank you for your kindness, your humour, your intelligence and your patience.

Thank you for loving me (even when I don't love myself). Thank you for spoiling me and those katzen. Thank you for inspiring me daily to be a better person, a better wife, and a better version of myself.

Thank you for supporting me, no matter what Claire-brained scheme I'm pursuing. Thank you for working so hard to help make our home and our life so comfortable and cosy. Thank you for listening.

Thank you for all the marvellous holidays you plan for us - I'm so lucky to see the world, Matthew-style.

Thank you for enjoying my silliness. Thank you for playing Monopoly with me. Thank you for the way you love my friends.

Thank you for nine wonderful years, and three of those as Mr and Mrs. When I first met you and started speaking franglais I had no idea where this journey would take us, but I'm so glad to be here, with you. Thank you for being my better half.

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I Love Your Blog: Connie Consumes

I have been reading Connie's blog for a couple of years now, and more recently have become friends with her through the most wonderful of members of PIZZA CLUB (the other two members, Vicky and Emma, have also been interviewed for this series!). Connie writes about her foodie and travel adventures over at Connie Consumes, and I'm forever getting great restaurant tips and major food envy from her shares!


How long have you been blogging?

I've been blogging at Connie Consumes for around three years and still love every minute of it!

What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog, or is it more a record of your life?

I blog about food and travel which are two huge parts of my life in London and the main reasons I moved here! I like to think of the blog as a diary and portfolio - it's a reminder of all the incredible adventures we've had and also a place for me to indulge in my love of story telling and writing.

All pictures in this post are courtesy of the lovely Connie!

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

It's a cliche but definitely the people I've met through blogging in London - as an expat, it can be hard to make new friends in a new city, but the blogging community has made this pretty easy!

What is your least favourite thing about blogging?

All the boring technical, behind the scenes stuff which I still don't understand! I'm just a girl who wants to tell everyone what she had for dinner...

Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers?

I've got an old post and a recent post which I really love... The recent one is about our experience at Gaggan, Asia's Best Restaurant according to World's 50 Best Awards; I'm really happy with the way I captured our overall disappointing experience in what I hope is a balanced and informative post. The old one is my recipe for a fancy sausage roll which despite my amateur photography skills is still one of the most popular posts on my blog!

Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations :)

I love Dalton Banks because Vicky and I share a very similar food and travel style, Hand Luggage Only because their photography is to die for, and Woks Of Life for cooking inspiration!

You are the queen of finding amazing places to dine! Where are your go-to sites for inspiration and ideas?

I use instagram a lot... some might even say I'm a little obsessed with it, but I also love reading reviews from Marina O'Laughlin and Jay Rayner, and the Eater Hot Lists. I'm not someone who swears by a critic's review, as I believe people should try things for themselves and form their own opinions, but I do enjoy reading their commentaries!

What would be your perfect meal?

I think I've spent more time thinking about this one than a current issue I'm trying to resolve at work - such a tricky question! I would start with a selection of nigiri and a beef tartare, then follow that up with a stonkingly spicy laksa, before finishing with a gelato - and if anyone knows of a restaurant who can do all that in one meal, please for the love of god, let me know!

Which ingredients or dishes do you loathe?

Aubergine, pumpkin, sweet potato, and mint!

What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?

I truly believe the most successful and engaging blogs are the ones where the blogger is not only passionate, but also knowledgeable about their content - I value their opinions so much more and actually get excited about what they have to share.


Thank you so much for visiting today, Connie!
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Travel: The Grand Canyon by Helicopter

Hello, it's me.

The person still writing up posts on trips that were over a year ago.

But they were awesome, and I like looking back and writing 'em up, so enjoy, my lovelies!

Our Las Vegas-Hawaii-Las Vegas honeymoon was brilliant and filled with so many high points, but one of them truly has to be the helicopter flight we took on the final evening of our holiday. We wanted to end the holiday on a high, and we took that word, high, quite literally, with an evening flight out to the Grand Canyon and back across the city as the sun went down.

We took the sunset tour offered by Papillon, and it was truly worth every penny. We were whisked from our hotel by limo (only in Vegas would a limo be considered a par-for-the-course mode of transport) and taken out to the airfield with another couple. Once there we were checked in, weighed in (to balance the flights), and awaited our resignation.

The waiting room was busy, but not uncomfortably so as three helicopters were heading out. We were assigned a flight with a lovely family from Burnley and strapped ourselves in for the flight out to the canyon.

Up in the air we flew, over the beautiful houses of Lake Las Vegas and Lake Mead.

The enormous Hoover Dam looked tiny as we soared overhead!

After taking in the amazing views across the desert and the mountains, we were into the canyon and ready to land.

We stayed down in the canyon for about 45 minutes, enjoying a champagne picnic and taking in the beautiful views. Out here all was still and calm and the rocks and the river combined to make a stunning vista.

Isn't the helicopter cute?

After soaring upwards, we needed to top up our fuel for the return to Las Vegas, so we got to stop at the Grand Canyon airport!

The Red Rocks which we flew over on our way back to Las Vegas were beautiful! They looked simply otherworldly in the early evening light.

As we came into the city the lights were just turning on for the night. It was so cool to see the tower of The Stratosphere, the Eiffel Tower, the wheel and the Bellagio fountains from up on high!

Forgive the blur - we were at quite a pace! It was so special to see the city we like so much from up in the air.

If you're holidaying in Las Vegas I would heartily recommend a flight with Papillon. The flights felt smooth and safe, the pilots were knowledgeable, friendly and funny, and the whole arrangement ran like clock work. Definitely an ideal way to see the Grand Canyon.
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I Love Your Blog: Dorkface

Jemma, the girl genius behind Dorkface and the loveliness that is The Girl Gang over on social media, is a multi-coloured ray of sunshine. Filled to the brim with humour and creativity, both she and her blog are delightful, and I was so pleased she was able to make time for a quick interview for I Love Your Blog.


The lady herself! The pictures in this post were kindly provided by Jemma :)

How long have you been blogging?

In total, almost 5 years, however Dorkface has only been 3 and a half! I decided to start taking it seriously and putting my rambles to good use, haha.

What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, promoting a business, transitioning into a writing / media / digital career), or is it more a record of your life? 

I blog about a range of topics which all build up to give my readers a greater understand of who I am. So there'll be plenty of lifestyle posts, think pieces, DIY posts, crafty, creative and colourful work, some beauty reviews, and whatever else I fancy! The goals for my blog are mainly just to keep people interested! I love documenting my life for myself, but I'd truly love if this helped me achieve my dreams (SO many! Write a fiction book, create an Art book, Get my designs in places like Paperchase, travel the world!).

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

The inspiration I now feel on a daily basis! I can't believe there was once a time where I came home from work, watched TV and did NOTHING. I feel sorry for old Jemma, haha!

What is your least favourite thing about blogging? 

The gang mentality on social media. It happens, I've had it happen. It can be really damaging. Keeping a distance is healthy.

Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers? 

I do!

This is a personal piece I wrote, but I felt like I'd bared my soul writing it, and I wrote this recently, on how life can change so muchI also created a full guide to blogging, which I put so much effort into!

Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations. 

I LOOOOVE the following SO damn much -

Little White Socks

Lauren Evie

Lazy Thoughts

A Girl Obsessed

Midnight and Lace

I’m always in awe of the sheer amount of writing you manage to do. What are your best tips for creating and organising content? 

Write every damn chance you get! Whether its on your phone scribbling notes on your phone, or writing down an idea in the middle of the night - take advantage of inspiration! I always meticulously plan ahead, for the next month of content. I can switch my schedule around as much as I like, but I have all the ideas/drafts for posts there, ready to go or work on!

I love The Girl Gang, the amazing community you’ve created. What are your hopes and dreams for the future of the group? 

I simply hope people will keep the spirit of it alive! I try to do giveaways, plan fun things, get people involved; but at the heart of it is a simple message of spreading joy. I hope it serves as a nice reminder and encourages people.

I love your creativity and I know you make and sell many beautiful things on your etsy. What are your favourite things to create? Are there any items you’d like to make or design that you haven’t done yet? 

YES OMG. My favourite things for the past few months have been selling original canvas paintings. Each one is unique, and never replicated; and they're my babies! I tend to put these on Twitter or Instagram when they're done, to see if anyone wants them, rather than listing them on Etsy, just as its easier! I'm SOSOSO excited for a current project I'm working on. It's something I've ALWAYS wanted to do, and I've been keeping it hidden for months now. I hope it'll be finished and ready for sale in September, eeep! Keep an eye out!

What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?

Do your own thing, only spread joy, take time away from social media often, and do whatever makes you happy! :)


Thanks so much for popping over, Jemma! What a fun and inspiring interview!
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Travel: Duomo, Florence

Florence's famous cathedral, or Duomo, is such a beautiful building. Topped with a Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, it has long been a symbol of Florence and of Florentine excellence. The cathedral is a large Gothic structure which is actually built on the site of the 7th century church of Santa Reparata - you can tour the ruins of this original church when you visit the cathedral, as some of them are preserved below the current structure.

The Duomo is Florence is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. The only structures larger are St Peter's in the Vatican, St Paul's in London and the Duomo in Milan. So clearly I need to visit Milan to round out the set. While the outside of the building is stunningly ornate, inside a calmer aesthetic is at play. The marble floors and intricate dome are lovely to behold, but the interior was less striking than the sheer opulence of the exterior, and far less busy or decorated than say, St Peter's.

Man, we saw a lot of churches on this break.

In the church we took time to explore the ruins of the older church, as well as looking into some of the smaller side works of art, the beautiful mosaics and marblework, and the the clock above the entrance on the inside of the church. According to the Duomo's website, it was designed in 1443 by Paolo Uccello in accordance with the ora italica, where the 24th hour of the day ended at sunset... and it still works!

After touring the interior we headed back out into the spring sunshine, which had the tower and facade of the cathedral looking splendid (I haven't edited these shots).

We crossed over the street to visit the Baptistry, where we were greeted with one of the the most splendid and ornate domes I have ever seen. Such detail and artistry must have taken a lifetime, if not several lifetimes.

In every church we visited during our Italian visit I was taken aback with the sheer beauty of what had been created. I also developed a semi-permanant neck-crick from looking up at ceilings, domes and frescoes. #travelbloggerproblems, anyone?

If you're visiting Florence, you'll be visiting the Duomo - it's a stunning building!

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My Workout Playlist (Summer 2017)

My Summer Workout Mix

The summer break from school is always a time when I try to get things a little more organised, whether it's catching up on blogging, seeing friends and family, sorting out the hundreds of little things required around the house, or taking a little time to take care of myself, with lots of rest and relaxation, healthy meals, and working out more (I always find that good habits in July and August spill over to September, which is perfect for a busy, busy month!).

As you'll be aware, any workout needs a good soundtrack, so I thought I'd share my current one - these are the tracks that keep me on course when I'm walking, cross-training or heading off to class!

1. Can't Hold Us - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton

2. Scandalous - Mis-Teeq

3. Who's Got A Match? - Biffy Clyro

4. TiK ToK - Kesha

5. What You Waiting For? - Gwen Stefani

6. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) - Kate Bush

7. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor

8. Pass Out - Tinie Tempah

9. XXPEN$IVE - Erika Jayne

10. Paper Planes - M.I.A.

11. You Don't Know Me - Jax Jones

12. Work It -  Missy Elliot

13. Like A G6 - Far East Movement

14. Despacito (Major Lazer & MOSKA remix) - Luis Fonsi

15. All I Do Is Win - DJ Khaled ft. T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg & Rick Ross

16. You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC

17. Worth It - Fifth Harmony

18. Summer - Calvin Harris

19. I Love It - Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX

20. Mr Brightside - The Killers

From rap to rock, dance to Real Housewives, I like to mix it up. You can enjoy this smorgasbord of musical wonder for yourself over on spotify.

What tunes get you in the workout zone?


A few more music posts for your delectation:

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#TravelLinkUp: Travel Fears and Scares

I came late to the travel party. Growing up we rarely had the opportunity to take family holidays, and a few nights under canvas, a daytrip here or there, or a good day on the hill, was the most we could muster.  One driving holiday up from Germany to Denmark, and a couple of school music trips, were the only true 'travel' I'd done until I reached university age. I was lucky enough to live in another country for several years though, so my wandering heart did some cracking exploring while there.

While studying money was short and I worked through my holidays, so while I travelled more (jaunts to the west coast of Scotland, trips to see friends studying elsewhere), I didn't travel very far.

Once I was teaching, however, I caught the travel bug, hard. I still remember the first time I bought a cheap and cheerful Easyjet flight over to Europe. Or the first time I went to the US. Or the first time I stayed in a proper hotel (at the grand old age of 21. I was far too excited by plush beds, tiny toiletries, and the sheer idea of room service!). Since then I've seen so many amazing things, been to some amazing places, and experienced some true wonders. And I'm so grateful, you guys.

I love travelling so much now that I rarely think about the downsides, the worries and the fears, but that's exactly what this month's travel link up is asking us to write about. And when I sat down and thought about it, I was able to come up with a few 'fears' that I have when I'm travelling.

Weather. Specifically, warm weather!

I am a heat and humidity wuss. I get stressed. I can't sleep. I get sunstroke and heatstroke at the drop of a hat (even if I am, in fact, wearing a hat). I am so prone to feeling poorly in the heat that Matthew  actually had to postpone his proposal by 24 hours when too much time in the sun rendered me headachey, dehydrated and confined to bed.

Generally I'm now a master of selecting destinations where I know I can handle the climate, but it means some places I may well never see, and that sometimes my enjoying a destination fully can be a bit of a gamble! Cold or moderate climates I can boss though, and aircon, shade and swimming pools help a lot in warmer places.

Clumsiness. I fall over/bump myself a lot.

Gravity and I work well together for the most part, but sometimes we fall out and I trip / slip / fall / get an attack of the Bambi legs. I'm always worried that I'll come a cropper on holiday and be hobbling around for days (we love to walk a lot on breaks) .

Being late, or being disorganised.

I am, by nature, a worrier. I doublecheck things, set several alarms, live by my Google Calendar. Every night I have a long and well-honed routine of checks and doublechecks before I go to bed, and that's just in my own environment. When travelling these anxieties can really rise to the surface, and I've lost count of the restless nights of sleep I've had prior to heading off on a holiday! There's also a lot of checking of bags, money, passport too, and lists, lists everywhere.

When it comes to getting to the airport or train station, I am perpetually early. Luckily Matthew, my main partner in travelling crime, is an early bird too so we have our routine down pat. However, when travelling with others it can be high-stress - I remember pelting through an airport in Spain after a girls' trip as my three work friends tried to continue shopping while they were 'last call'ing our flight. Made my blood pressure go sky high!

So those were the only fears I could muster, which in the ocean of goodness that is travel equals about a teacup, right? Travel brings such joy, a few worries and wobbles are definitely worth it. I've only been back from holidays for a week and I'm already looking at flights longingly (even if my credit card isn't, ha!).

Looking forward to reading the other posts on this theme! Linking up with the lovely #TravelLinkUp gang :)
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