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Following Mom’s Advice: It Only Took 20 Years

Hello my little honey bear sweethearts, how are you today? Me? I am okay… Today I am finding myself with more of a heavy heart than a full heart, which is always tough to get through.  So here I sit, with a blank screen in front of me and a cursor blinking at a rapid […]

British & Welsh Adventures

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Taking on a Mountain of an Obstacle {And Feeling Really Good About it!}

Have you ever looked at an obstacle and questioned if you could tackle it? I mean, a real physical obstacle? Well, a few weeks ago I had the idea to take a local walk up one of the Welsh hills, at the top sits a medieval castle called Dinas Bran. This walk (closer to a hike) is something that we have talked about doing since I moved to the UK in 2012. On a bright sunny Sunday, we decided it was a perfect day to give it a tackle.

Now this was a good idea in theory, but as we really got underway with our walk I wondered if I took on too much. The grade of the hill was too steep, the path was too muddy and I couldn’t catch my breath. I was overwhelmed, and thinking how silly the idea of the outing was.

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I finally got to a point when I could take a break, where there was a little bench and all, and I finally  caught my breath. Neal turned to me, and asked if I wanted to stop and turn back. And my reply, was an out of breath, “No, that would be stupid. We’ve come this far.”

So, I pulled up my bootstraps and ventured on. Step after step, bit by bit we finally made it to the top. And let me tell you the views and vistas was worth the mud and being out of breath for a short period of time.

I mean really, look at these views:

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And then, I took a deep breath and I sighed. There I was sitting in the sunshine, with Neal and Freddy, after tackling a challenge and obstacle set before me among a medieval castle. And really, could I ask for anything else? Nope, not really.

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A selfie at the top of the hill, whoop whoop!

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How amazing does this spot look?
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Taking on new challenges can be an amazing chance to find what we are made of.  To stretch our legs and get our hearts beating.  To feel a bit of fear or anxiety or have an “oh shit” moment.   And as silly as it sounds, challenges make us feel alive.

With this in mind, I am thrilled to share some exciting news with you all! I have accepted a new role in my current agency, as a Key Account Manager for our large scale web projects.  I will be working with different members of our team, overseeing multiple projects and more. This is a big shift in responsibility and challenges, but I am really excited to climb this new professional mountain step-by-step.

So, here’s to taking on new challenges ! Wishing you all a few new challenges and obstacles to stretch our legs and find what we are made of.

Hugs and love my kittens!

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Falling in Love with Wales

There is something, without a doubt, special about Wales.  I know that I have said this over and over and over again here on the blog, but guys…. I really mean it.  Wales, with the rolling green hills, stunning vistas and endless history; and I have entered into a pretty serious relationship. Essentially, I have fallen in love with since I’ve moved here in June 2012.

Sure, I could live in a bigger city like London or Manchester where the pace is more rapid and there is more to see and do.  But living in a big city, sometimes you have to give up the lush green space that I have really only come to cherish since living in Wales.  You see, coming from the Evergreen State of Washington, being surrounded by green environment is literally in my roots. {pun intended} But I haven’t really appreciated greenery as much as I have until I moved to Wales.  With the vistas are pure and green, my soul and heart are kept happy…. and for that has me constantly feeling grateful and in love.

 

Our adventures don’t include heading to iconic museums or fancy restaurants, instead we head out to see the great rugged landscapes of Wales.  And for some reason, that feels better. That reconnects me to me.  Allows me to get a breath and break from my overly connected life.  (Did I mention cell service in Wales isn’t the best? That allows me to in the “now” rather than on Instagram or Twitter.)

 

You might be wondering where is this surge of admiration for Wales coming from?  Well, I was prepping photos for an adventure we had a few weeks ago (as below), and you guys I was blown away by how beautiful the views were.  And I just had to share, how inspired I felt and how incredibly blessed I feel as an expat…. living in a new country that brings me such joy and recalibration and peace.

 

So, thank you Wales for being a wonderful host country for this little expat.  Or should I say, “diolch i chi”, which is Welsh for thank you.

 

Now, moving on to the images that inspired this post.  A few weeks back, Neal and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful warm October weather by heading to the local beach about 1 hour away.  After we left Freddy run to his heart’s content, we decided that the day was to lovely to just head home.
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 So instead, we decided to head to the Great Orme near Llandudno, a Victorian beach town.   The Great Orme itself is a large inlet off of the coast, which has been mined since the Bronze Age.  You have to pay a toll of £2.50 to drive on the coastal side of the Orme, but trust me friends it is well worth it.

 

Without a cloud in the sky, and the bright sun shining…. I was in my oh-so-happy place.  I couldn’t have wanted anything else, and I felt perfect fulfilment. I mean, just look at these views:
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I promise, Freddy was much more happy on our day out than the sheer look of fear here.
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When we got home, I felt rest and relaxed and wonderfully happy.  The day was unexpected and unplanned, but just wonderfully perfect.
Hope you all have a wonderful day my little jellybeans!
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{PS– All of these photos were taken with my iPhone 6.  Say what!?!}
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For My Fellow Downton Abbey Fans: A Visit to Erddig Countryhome

I know that over the past few weeks, I have shared our adventures from Scotland and I realized that it had been way too long since I feature the beautiful and special Welsh countryside. With that in mind, I am bringing back Wild & Wondrous Wales posts to share all the beauty of this wonderful place! I hope you enjoy!
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There is no pretending that I am a big ol’ Downton Abbey fan.  I have seen ever episode, more than once, and I even make tea parties to watch the premier.  I love the storyline with the family, costuming and of course the upstairs and downstairs drama.   Does it help that the show is set in the stunning Highclere Castle (where the show is filmed)? A real life castle, with hundreds of years of history? Of course it does!  In fact, I like to think that the house is a character to the show too, overlooking the family and servants across generations.

 

Last weekend, I didn’t make the visit to Highclere Castle (although it is on my bucket list), but I did get a chance to visit a similar (yet a bit smaller) country house right here in Wales: Erddig. This home has an amazing history, that actually includes much of the personal stories of the servants themselves.  The family actually wrote poetry for their servants, even formal photography.  These stories add so much more for visitors like me, swoon worthy!

 

The even best part? This magical location is literally minutes from my doorstep, even closer than my office in Chester! You can’t beat that, right?

 

Now, Erddig is a National Trust Property with seasonal hours, so I wanted to visit the house before it goes “under wraps” for conservation during the winter months.  When I arrived on the property, I was greeted with a beautiful mix of autumn colors: bright golds, reds and oranges.  And let me tell you, this blogger was in high heaven.

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One of my favorite things about visiting the interior of Erddig, is getting wonderfully close to so many details of Victorian living. At every turn and corner, you can spy a little detail that is worth photographing (hence my 100+ photos from my 1 hour visit).  Imagine deep wood panels, oil paintings, intricate rugs and even toys in the nursery or sheets of music on the piano.  Everywhere you turn and look, there is something memorable.
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The lovely china set, tucked away in a small cupboard.

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Tea anyone?

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This old typewriter makes my typing heart swoon a bit.

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And these stairs, swooning!

 

And of course, the rooms are simply divine too…
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The family’s private chapel…

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I know that it sounds silly, but sometimes I feel so lucky to have such a beautiful spot less than 10 minutes from home! Each time I stroll through either the gardens or the home at Erddig, I really feel like I am experiencing an episode of Downton Abbey!

 

If you are heading to North Wales or Chester area as part of travels within the UK, I would recommend a visit to Erddig. It is perfect day out, no matter the time of year.  For more information on Erddig, check out the National Trust website.

 

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A Stroll Through the Gardens of Eaton Hall

I am embarrassed to admit this, but we had a day out at the lovely Eaton Hall in Chester at the end of August and only now am I blogging about it.  But that’s how it goes in the blogging world, the posts keep getting put to another week and the schedule keeps shifting.  But I couldn’t let any more time pass without sharing this day out at a stunning country home in Cheshire.
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On the left is the private home and on the right is the bell tower which looks like Big Ben in London. Amazing, right?

The reason why our visit to Eaton Hall was so special is because it is actually the private home to the Duke and Duchess of Westminster. Yeah, you read that right.  The private home to the Duke of Westminster, which dates back to the 17th century. So you know when I visit those castles and estate homes now preserved, this one is still being used… by a real life Duke. Say what!?!
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The courtyard of the stable. Pretty impressive right?

Since it is a private home, it normally isn’t open to the public except for a few times a year as a charity fundraiser. I have been wanting to visit the estate and I was thrilled to finally be free during one of the open days.
The grounds cover just over 10,000 acres including stables,  woodlands, formal gardens, fountains and more.  And let me tell you, from the moment we drove down the quarter mile drive to strolling among the gardens,  I was swooning.
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One of the formal ponds on the estate. The grounds kept going and going…

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There were these almost secret gardens, tucked away. Once I stepped inside it was wonderfully lush and private. **Swoon!**

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The stained glass window inside the private chapel on the estate grounds.

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Another view of the clock tower from the courtyard of the stables. See how similar it is to Big Ben?

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Of course, I couldn’t resist posing for the perfect picture in front of one of the many fountains.  Eaton Hall_Resized

I am so glad that I finally got my blogging act together to share this day out.  If you are in the Cheshire area, I would recommend planning on visiting on an open day next summer.  Next time, Neal and I are planning on bringing a picnic for two!

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