Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Super Secret Sunday: A London Adventure

Matthew is such a planner.

He thrives on timetables, spreadsheets and itineraries.

It's a running joke with my girlfriends that amongst the many reasons Matthew is a keeper, his mad skills at planning holidays and trips must rank in the top ten, for sure.

However, I also like a good spreadsheet, so every so often it's nice to take the reins!  On Sunday was one such occasion.  Matthew let me take the whole day to plan us an adventure in London.  What follows is how Super Secret Sunday unfolded.  After the wedding rush and a lovely minimoon up in Matlock, this was the perfect way to conclude our break before work and Junior League and life kicked in!

I will always work cute stationery into a plan, wherever possible.

I planned for something to happen every two hours.  An hour before, Matthew got to open an envelope, so he knew what was coming next!

Ready for the off.

We breakfasted at home (M is not a morning person, so I wanted my schedule to honour that!) and then jumped onto the tube across to Greenwich.  Because first item of business was....a boat trip along the Thames!


The Shard and Tower Bridge.

The Tower of London.

The Shard and HMS Belfast.

Loved this view of the City and St Paul's.

The Houses of Parliament.

Cheesey boat based selfie.

Canary Wharf

After catching some of our city's most marvellous sights from a different point of view, we bimbled up from Westminster towards Trafalgar Square.

Hi, Nelson!

Because I had booked us lunch at Portrait, the gorgeous restaurant atop the National Portrait Gallery.

Such a unique, beautiful view of London, with Nelson in the foreground!

After a long, leisurely lunch we heading across to Covent Garden, where we had a jolly couple of hours exploring the London Transport Museum.

In a tube carriage from Victorian times.

After that we went to Christopher's for cocktails - I'm happy to report their drinks are just as delicious as their brunches!

Cocktails were definitely a mini-moon theme!

And then, when you're close to Covent Garden, there's a clear family favourite for dinner:

I put three pounds on just looking at this menu.

Best steak in town!  All in all I thought the day went well and I had such fun planning a busy, silly, tasty day for Matthew.  We've decided to do something like this every other month, with us taking turns to plan.  Such a fun way to spend time together and explore our awesome city together!

Life Lately

Today, we are back to life with a bump.

After the fever pitch intensity of the last fortnight of wedding planning, then the busy-ness of the big day itself, and the delicious lull of the tailend of last week, now we are back to reality!  Matthew is back to work, and all this week I'm in school prepping for back to school.  The boys return September 3rd, training commences September 1st, so this week I'm in for two full days and two half-days to get my room in order.  I've been so frenetic with all the nuptual based activities and things to organise, it will be lovely in a way to return to the tried and true rhythm of September, as tiring as it always is.

Last week was charming.  After the wedding we were lucky enough to have several of the players still around, and it was great to do lunches, dinners, and drinks.  Throughout the wedding experience Matthew and I were just blown away by the phenomenal amount of support and the huge outpouring of love in our general direction.  Our friends and family are just the best!

Our little minimoon to Matlock was super too, just the ideal respite from it all.  Aunty Kaz very kindly looked after the katzen, leaving us free to enjoy the break.  Originally we had been forecast rain, rain, rain, but instead our time in Derbyshire was sunny, cool and delicious.  On Thursday we arrived and shared a 'chippy tea' (always a treat for northern types!) before conquering a few of the local hills (never trust a road called 'Steep Turnpike' - the clue is definitely in the name!) then finding a cute local pub with a good range of real ales.

Friday dawned clear and crisp.  The forecast was for rain, so we set off straight after a yummy breakfast for a walk.  We walked a few miles in a loop to the nearby beauty spot of Matlock Bar and had a great time snooping and playing on the 2p machines.  Then we stretched our legs some more and had some delicious tea and scones by the Riverside.  The rest of the afternoon was filled with strolling and reading.  We then found a cute little cocktail bar and a super Italian restaurant before retiring early.  Fresh air makes me sleepy!

Saturday we found ourselves stuck with our bags as our B&B had no storage.  Matthew's team, Blyth Spartans, were down to play a match against Matlock FC (our minimoon location being no accident.  Check out my wife-points!), so he met up with the boys and I curled up and enjoyed copious cups of tea!  I would have loved to attend the match but the suitcase was an encumbrance.  An afternoon of reading and writing was a very pleasant way to spend some time instead!

On Sunday we enjoyed the first of what I hope are many 'Super Secret Sundays'.  More on that in the next post!

Then yesterday was a day of cleaning, tidying, writing notes and ironing.

Because today, life gets real!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Meal planning Monday: 25th August 2014

Linking up with At Home With Mrs M and Organizing Junkie for another Meal Planning Monday.  Now the excitements of the wedding have passed and with the new school year on the horizon, it definitely feels like time to start getting organised around the house again!  Here's this week's menu:


Today (a grey, rainy London Bank Holiday Monday!) we are having Jerk Chicken with rice and vegetables.  We had some Jerk chicken canapes at our shindig which were a total hit, but which Matthew and I have never tasted, so I thought I'd perform a culinary homage.  Plus, as it's Notting Hill Carnival weekend, it felt fitting to have something delicious and in theme.

The rest of the week plays out thusly:

Tuesday:  I'm out at the movies, but I'll be defrosting Matthew a portion of chili con carne to have with rice.

Wednesday:  After a couple of days back at work, I feel a lazy tea will work best.  I'll pick up some mozzarella and chorizo to make some pita bread pizzas.

Thursday:  Chicken stir fry with glass noodles and summer vegetables.

Friday: Roasted vegetable pasta.

Saturday: Homemade chicken noodle soup with sourdough bread.

Sunday: Mexican chicken with rice.  Yum!

Our Wedding: Some Guest Shots!

Well hello there!

I am now happily one week into this whole married thing, and really could not be happier.  I am getting a very silly but nonetheless delightful kick out of saying 'my husband', and Matthew is enjoying tutting whenever I say the incorrect surname.  I counter that as it's going to take about eleventy million years to do all the name changing, I can enjoy my maiden name for a little longer!

Our day was absolutely beautiful, truly everything we had hoped, wished, and planned for.  To be so surrounded by love and support on a wedding day was a huge blessing, and really started our married life off in style! Today I'll post a few of the lovely shots taken by friends and family on social media, and there will be a landslide of pro shots once we have them!  I know a fair few people who couldn't make it, so here seemed the ideal place to share.

Plus, who doesn't love a good nose at a wedding!  Thank you to Siobhan, Jenna, Martin, Vixie, Sam, Christy and Emily for using the hashtag and taking such sweet pictures!

 Emily made her beautiful bridesmaid dress (the girl is seriously talented!) - I love this wee snap she shot between service and reception!


Converse up!  I was going to wear Converse with my dress until I realised I couldn't bend down to tie the laces.  Kaz and Vixie represented instead.
 Our gorgeous array of cakes, all handmade by the delightful Kaz!  Such a huge gift and such delicious goodies.  Everyone was raving about her cakes!


Kaz and Shona at my house before we all headed into town!


A quick snap with Christy towards the end of the party.

Table decor.  My mother-in-law loved the occasional owls we had dotted around so much she took them home, and they now adorn a bookcase or similar up north.  Love that!


Badgers, clearly.


Christy snapped this selfie while waiting to come and help me into my dress.  Isn't she beautiful!


Adam loved our ice cream van!


A first dance snap!

Lou + bubbles = joy!
 Yep, cake.

Vixie and Kaz rocking those shoes!


I tried to put little details here, there and everywhere - I'm glad people enjoyed them!

It was so lovely to hang out with all of bridal squad before the service :)


Pretty sky!  We were so lucky with the weather!


Badgers and bouquets!


So grateful to school for letting us use the grounds!  Perfect setting for a reception.

I hope you've enjoyed this little sneak peek.  More to follow once the pro pics arrive!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our wedding: Music for dancin'!

And now we come to our fourth and final playlist.

I told you these playlists were a project!

Our DJ, Marcus, was amazing and I'll be doing a proper write up on him and Mighty Fine (the company he works for) in the next month or so.  He and his tunes and his lights kept us all thoroughly entertained!

We gave him this whole playlist, but only specified the first two and last two songs.

Our first dance was 'Do You Realize?' by The Flaming Lips.  An odd choice, perhaps, but we love that song.  And then....it was Hammer TIME!

Our last two songs were 'Closing Time' by Semisonic (reminding us both of our youth!), and then The Proclaimers (da-da-da-da!) to wrap up the evening. Such fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our wedding: 'Wedding breakfast' music

We carry on with our musical journey!  After the speeches, we put this playlist on as people ate barbecue, mingled, drank, and generally had a great time.

The 'wedding breakfast' is in quotation marks because the term really confused M when we started our planning journey.

WARNING: This playlist is gorgonzola level cheesey!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our wedding: Arrival of the guests and drinks reception

Continuing our wedding music themed posts, here's our playlist for people arriving at the reception, mingling and catching up.  All good solid ballads with a few silly moments too!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our wedding: Music at the Church

One of the things Matthew and I were most excited to plan for our wedding was the music - from hymns to choral pieces to slow songs and floor fillers.  I made up playlists for the four main (musical) parts of our big day, and I figured I'd share them here now we are all done!  It'll be nice to look back on, means friends and family who couldn't make the trip might get a taste of the day, and I thought if anyone else is now planning their wedding and happens upon it, they might notice something they like!  I'll be posting next week with oh. So. Many. Pictures.

First up, the music at the church.  Our church, St Clement Danes, is stunning, and the choir and organist were fabulous.  We're not really flower people or high fashion people, but we love us some sublime music:


PS Yep, I'm aware that it's kind of a wedding-music-greatest-hits-mix.  Hey, waddya gonna do?  You go see the Stones, you want to hear the classics, right (hat-tip to Chef).

PPS Yep, several cross-overs with the British Royal Wedding of 2011.  Maybe they were aiming for the same wedding-music-greatest-hits feel?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today.

Today.

Today, I get to see so many people I adore.



Today, I get to marry one of my favourite people on the planet.


Matthew, I'm so glad I met you, and I cannot wait to be your wife, and start the adventure of married life together.  This day six years ago, I had no idea that a little conversation in ze French would lead to such a lovely, lovely place.  Thank you for being my best friend, my champion, and someone who puts up with all my nonsense daily.*


Gosh darn it, I am EXCITED!





* Four months and 9 days till Christmas, honey!

Friday, August 15, 2014

100 Happy Days: 91-95

As I've been using these to countdown to our wedding, I expect the last missive will be in a wee while!  Such a fun project to complete!


My new planner arrived!


Fresh pesto for lunch :)


Teacher toy!


Beautiful Fry.


"Helpful" Poppet!

Beer Pong.


Wedding central!


Early morning kisses.

Where are we off to?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

100 Happy Days: 86 - 90


A gift from Matthew....
 ...and a chill with Popps.


Homemade iced coffee!


A good book and a train journey.


A beautiful wedding - the last we attended as guests before our own!



A day of batch cooking - filling the freezer ahead of school beginning next month!

Hi, I'm Claire...

Hi, I'm Claire...

About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

If you'd like to work together, or if you'd just like to say hello, my email is: countrymouseclaire@gmail.com

Please note that on occasion affiliate links may be used in this blog. All items received for review or paid posts will always be disclosed.

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