Friday, 16 February 2018

Sunday lunch at the Vale Resort

My parents-in-law bought us a voucher for Sunday lunch at the Vale Resort for our third wedding anniversary, and we finally booked to go last Sunday. We decided it would be good to double it up as a belated anniversary celebration and a Valentine's lunch!

It was a very cold day so I got wrapped up in my coat, hat and scarf. I only had to walk for about 20 seconds to get from the car park to the hotel, but I love any excuse to put on all my winter layers. However, I must admit that I didn't realise just how black my outfit was until I looked at this photo after we got home.




We were given the menu to have a look at as soon as we were seated in the Vale Grill. As we had a specific Sunday Lunch voucher, the menu was nice and simple with five options for each course. Our voucher was for a 2 course dinner, but we could also add a third course for £3 each if we wanted to. We knew the portions would be very generous and nothing grabbed our attention on the starter menu, so we decided we'd go for mains and desserts rather than going for the full three courses. 




For our mains, we both ordered the Roasted Sirloin of Welsh Beef. I tend to choose chicken whenever we eat out and I'm not a big fan of pork loin, so the beef was the obvious option for me. The main was made up of a few slices of beef (obviously), roast potatoes, a big Yorkshire pudding, green beans, mangetout, broccoli, roasted carrots and parsnips, cauliflower cheese, and gravy. 




Just look at the size of this! The green vegetables, roasted vegetables and cauliflower cheese were served in separate dishes so that we could help ourselves, and it's fair to say that we had a very generous helping of everything. Neil doesn't like cauliflower cheese and I love it, so that was an excellent plus for me as it was one of my favourite parts of the meal! The beef was cooked just right, and the roasted root vegetables and the roast potatoes in particular were excellent. I'm not ashamed to admit that I completely cleared my plate... in fact, I'd have been very ashamed if I hadn't. 

We'd already decided what we wanted for dessert before taking another look at the menu - pistachio panna cotta! I love panna cotta, whatever the flavour, and it's always a nice light option after such a big main meal. 




This dessert was exquisite, and I'm not just talking about the pretty presentation. Every aspect of this dish was absolutely delicious, even the little accompanying wafer. The toasted marshmallows were a stroke of genius and perfectly complemented the pistachios. Chocolate would never make it into my top five choices when it comes to ice cream flavours so I thought that might let the dish down for me, but this particular chocolate ice cream was lovely. 

At the end of the meal, we had a bill of £4.30 for our two pints of diet Coke. I was expecting them to be at least £3 each, so that was a pleasant surprise! If we'd have paid for our meal, it would have been £17.95 each. I think this is pretty good value when you take the quality and quantity of the food, and the quality of the resort itself, into account. 

I can definitely confirm that we'd be happy to visit the Vale Resort for Sunday lunch again. Have you ever been to the Vale for a meal? What did you think? 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Things I'd like to tell my 5 year old self

Do you ever wish you could go back in time and give some much-needed advice to your younger self? Do you ever wonder how your life could have turned out if you knew then what you know now?

After re-discovering this hilarious photo of myself from approximately 1992, I thought I'd blog about the long list of things I'd like to tell my 5 year old self.




'One day, you'll discover hair straighteners and your life will suddenly become much easier. Until then, you'll experiment with all kinds of terrible hairstyles including a mid-teen phase of positioning ten mini butterfly clips at the top of your head every morning. If you could skip that phase, your older self would be eternally grateful.'

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'You've got the nicest parents in the world. Don't ever forget that, and don't ever take them for granted.'

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'Don't worry, you won't always be so fussy and angsty about your food. Believe it or not, you'll actually turn into someone who completely and utterly loves food. However, you will always hate peas and sweetcorn.'

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'Nicola will still be your best friend in 26 years, and probably for another 50 years after that!'

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'Just after your 30th birthday, something really horrible with life-changing repercussions is going to happen to you. I want you to know that you WILL get through it and you'll somehow find a level of strength you never knew you had.'

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'You will never ever be good at sports, however hard you try. And do you know what? Although it might seem like the most important thing in the world right now, you won't care once you leave school and realise that your sporting prowess isn't a big deal in the real world.'

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'On a similar note, you'll always hate sports day (and not just because you'll have to wear that yellow tshirt every year). You'll never understand why some people are so competitive about every little thing, and you'll always hate any kind of competitive event... unless it's a spelling test. You ace those spelling tests.'

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'You don't want to follow the crowd now, and you still won't want to in 26 years' time. However, you will become very susceptible to buying pretty Disney products you've seen on Instagram and buying jewellery from Pandora. Don't worry though, you're going to have excellent budgeting skills so you'll only succumb to what you can afford!'

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'You know those cliques you get so intimidated by, even at 5 years old? Everyone will tell you there won't be any cliques once you leave school, but there will be. They're everywhere, however old you are, and you just have to learn to be comfortable with doing your own thing.'

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'There's really no need for you to be so afraid of dogs. One day, you're going to have your own dog and you'll love her more than you ever thought possible.'

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'You will stop biting your nails one day, but only when you discover nail varnish at 14 years old. You'll feel very guilty in the meantime about receiving Polly Pocket sets from your parents to reward you for stopping for a few weeks, then not being able to stop yourself from starting again.'

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'This will be one of the hardest lessons to learn, and you still won't have mastered it in 26 years' time, but you don't need people in your life who make you feel rubbish about yourself. You do a good enough job of that all by yourself. Whoever they are, just do whatever you need to in order to let them go.'

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'Stop worrying and obsessing over every tiny little thing you do wrong, and remember you're a good person and your heart is in the right place. You're only 5, why are you so worried all the time?!' 

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'I'm not going to lie to you, life is going to be very hard at times. Make the most of all the little (and big) things that make you happy.'

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Which pearls of wisdom would you share with your 5 year old self? 


Friday, 2 February 2018

My favourite Disney pairings

I don't usually succumb to the incessant commercialisation of Valentine's Day. However, the Disney Store has scuppered my principles for this year!

I wandered in to the Cardiff store a couple of weeks ago to get a little dose of Disney magic (I miss Walt Disney World, don't judge me) and decided to browse through the Valentine's section. 20 seconds later, I was sheepishly standing in the queue. Who could have left these beauties behind?




I don't think I've ever seen Bianca and Bernard plushes anywhere, not even in Florida's massive World of Disney store, so I just had to pick them up and make them mine straight away. I've learnt from past experience that certain products don't stay in the Disney Store for long and, true to form, these had already sold out when I went back a few days later.

This lovely little purchase got me thinking about my favourite Disney pairings, and I decided it would be a great topic for a blog post. I'll note at this point that my favourite pairings include sidekicks and best friends, as well as actual couples. Disney has an excellent knack of portraying and promoting all kinds of love and loyalty, not just the romantic kind! 



Belle and the Beast 

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite films, and Belle and the Beast are two of my favourite Disney characters of all time. In fact, I much prefer the Beast to the prince at the end. 'For who could ever learn to love a beast?' 





Pongo and Perdita 

I'm pretty sure my love for dalmatians comes purely from watching 101 Dalmatians so often when I was younger, and Pongo and Perdita have been one of my favourite Disney couples for a very long time! 'Perdy, we'll take them home with us. All of them. Our pets would never turn them out.'





Jaq and Gus 

I could quite happily watch Cinderella over and over again, but not because of the princess and fairy godmother factor... just because of Jaq and Gus! Especially Gus. 'Cinderelly Cinderelly!'





Tod and Copper 

I can't actually watch The Fox and the Hound very often because it makes me cry like a baby, but Tod and Copper are right up there with my favourite Disney characters. 'Forever is a long long time, and time has a way of changing things.'





Rapunzel and Flynn Rider

Tangled is one of my favourite modern Disney films, and Flynn and Rapunzel are definitely one of my favourite Disney couples. Flynn Rider is hilarious and endearingly cocky, and Rapunzel is determined to keep her dream alive. 'Here comes the smoulder!'





Timon and Pumbaa

Surely these two should be on everyone's 'favourite Disney pairings' list? They bring lots of much-needed cheer to the Lion King and we could all learn a lot from their motto... 'Hakuna Matata! It means no worries for the rest of your days.'





Mickey and Minnie 

And of course, no Disney pairings list would be complete without the most iconic Disney couple of all - Mickey and Minnie Mouse. 'Oh Minnie, you're all the music I'll ever need!'






After scheduling this post, I suddenly had a few qualms that perhaps I should have published it on or around Valentine's Day rather than on a random day in February. However, I always argue that Valentine's Day is pointless because you should show people that you love them every day, so I'm applying the same principle to this blog post!

Who are your favourite Disney couples, friends and sidekicks? 

Friday, 26 January 2018

Coco: My (spoiler-free) ramblings

I saw Coco in the cinema on Sunday and it was AMAZING.

I've had a frantically busy week and haven't had time to plan/write a lengthy blog post, or to take any blog-worthy photographs for that matter, so I thought I'd write a short post on my main thoughts while watching Coco. Don't panic, there are no spoilers!

However, some of these thoughts are mysteriously specific and won't make the slightest sense if you haven't seen the film, so in that case perhaps you should save yourself the confusion and stop reading now. Don't say I didn't warn you.





  • Wow, this film is visually spectacular and beautifully colourful.
  • Coco (the character) is completely not what I expected and I love her.
  • Hooray, I still remember some Spanish from my A Level days!
  • Dante's face reminds me of the hyenas in The Lion King.
  • The plaza reminds me of the Magic Kingdom and I really wish I was back there.
  • I really love the way they're bringing Mexican culture to life in this film. It feels so authentic!
  • Why can't you just let the poor boy do whatever he wants to in his spare time as long as he does his shoe-related activities when he's supposed to?
  • The security in many of this film's prime locations is a lot more lax than I'd like.
  • That is one excellent twist which I didn't see coming, and this is one heavy storyline for a children's film.
  • He just admitted to WHAT in a Disney film?
  • This is shaping up to be even sadder than the first twenty minutes of Up, and that's something I never thought I'd say.
  • Remember him! Remember him!
  • There's a river of tears running down my face and I can't do a thing to stop it.
  • I LOVE THIS FILM. 




Have you seen Coco? What did you think? 

Friday, 19 January 2018

My TV favourites

I'd much prefer to read a book than watch television. I'll quite happily turn off the TV if nothing takes my fancy and curl up with a hot chocolate and my Kindle.

However, there are a few TV programmes I make an exception for and could watch over and over again. They feel 'comfortable' because I've loved them for so long, and they make me forget about everything else just for a minute. They're a bit like a comfort blanket, you could say.

So, which programmes will always put a stop to my channel scrolling?



1. Friends 

I must have seen every episode of Friends about a hundred times by now, and I'm still not tired of it. I might check if there's anything else on if the episode is from Season 6 or 7 (the weakest in my opinion), but on the whole this is absolutely my go-to TV programme of choice. It makes me laugh, sometimes makes me cry, and makes me reminisce about my house sharing days. It does tend to be on Comedy Central whenever I put the TV on, but all ten series are now on Netflix too when I desperately need my Friends fix. I own all the DVDs, but does anyone actually watch Friends DVDs anymore when it's so readily available everywhere else?





2. Neighbours

I used to watch Neighbours religiously when I was a teenager and a student, then working life got in the way and I didn't watch it properly for about eight years. When I was off sick for a while at the end of 2016, I started watching it again and now I'm completely hooked. I spent hours poring over Wikipedia pages to get myself up to date on all the storylines I'd missed (don't judge me, I was recovering and couldn't drive anywhere!), and now I eagerly watch each episode on CatchUp when I get home from work. The hilarity of the ridiculous situations these characters get themselves and other people in to honestly makes my day.





3. Suits

Neil suggested that we should start watching Suits a couple of years ago. I just pretended to watch it at first because I didn't really like any of the other series we'd started watching on Netflix, but it quickly became a bit of an obsession for both of us. After a lot of binge-watching and 'oh, let's just watch one more' moments, we caught up and watched series 7 in real time as it was aired. Due to the unexpected mid-season break, we've watched the whole six and a half series again over the last few months and we're waiting with bated breath for its return later this month!





4. The Big Bang Theory

Although I don't love The Big Bang Theory as much as I love Friends, it's still one of my favourites. I'll happily re-watch episodes of this on E4 whenever Friends isn't on (or if the Friends episodes are from Season 6 or 7!) and I absolutely love Sheldon and Amy. I can't stand Penny, but let's not dwell on that. I must admit that I don't get all the geeky references and it makes me wish I was more intelligent than I actually am, but I still find it hilarious.





5. Outnumbered 

This programme always cheers me up! In some ways it's very relatable, and in other ways it makes me very grateful for my clean and tidy house. Hugh Dennis, Ben and Karen make this programme for me, but I do think they should have stopped filming before the last series as the children are way too old to be funny anymore. As this one isn't shown as often as the others on my 'top 5' list, I always make sure I put it on if I spot it as I'm scrolling through the channels.





What are your go-to TV programmes? 

Friday, 12 January 2018

My post-Christmas sale bargains

I very rarely buy anything at full price. I've always got lots of website links for potential purchases saved on my phone, and I either wait for them to go down in price or for a discount code to swoop into my inbox. This means that the post-Christmas sales are a highly exciting event for me!

I always save a certain amount of money throughout December to make sure I've got enough to spend in the sales after Christmas, and I also had some Quidco cashback and eBay funds to spend.

It's safe to say that I've picked up some amazing bargains over the last few weeks. I use the post-Christmas sales to stock up on new dresses for work, holiday clothes, and anything else I need/want which I didn't get for Christmas.

I've included links for the items below wherever possible, just in case you fancy grabbing a bargain before they all disappear.




Hunter wellies from Schuh - I've wanted Hunter wellies for ages
and got a children's pair in the sale with a discount of £16 (and a huge £61 discount on the pink pair I saw on ASOS). Hooray for having small feet! 




A floral dress for work, a lacy pink dress and a black midi dress from Debenhams. These three dresses combined cost £39, and I saved £96 on them in total! 




A black and white dress for work, a playsuit ready for Florida, and a pink summer dress.
I saved £32 in total on these items which were all from New Look.




A blue summer dress from ASOS ready for Florida.
At £7.50 with a saving of £17.50, I couldn't go wrong!




Rose gold sequin shoes from New Look - a saving of £11. 




Cosy jumper dress from the Fat Face outlet in McArthur Glen - £25 off! 




Winnie the Pooh pyjamas from Asda - a saving of £7. 




A floral openwork charm from Pandora for my
grey leather bracelet - half price and £10 off.




Bath bomb and gift box from Lush - both items
were half price which resulted in a saving of £10.75. The gift card I had from my brother for Christmas paid for these purchases!




Soap & Glory Sugar Crush tin from Boots, half price with a saving of £5. 




And last but not least, the photo doesn't do this beautiful Ted Baker bag justice...
half price in John Lewis with a saving of £40.


I happily worked out that I've saved a whopping £270.25 in total, which is a lot more than what I actually spent. This makes my bargain hunting heart very happy. 

Have you blogged about your post-Christmas sale purchases? Please send me your links if so! 

Friday, 5 January 2018

Best of 2017

Happy new year to all my readers!

2017 was a mixed bag. In some ways, it was even more difficult than 2016 as the reality of what I'd been through the previous year really started to sink in. I hit a very low point between June and August as the one year anniversary of my diagnosis loomed large, and I had lots of niggly health issues all year which caused some frustration. However, there were also many positives to report on from 2017. 

I really enjoyed writing last year's highlights post so I thought I'd do the same thing for 2017 to make sure I reflected on all those positives. Enjoy!



Celebrated three months all clear 



We celebrated my first 'all clear' appointment after my operation with a visit to Via Napoli. This started the tradition of going for a nice meal after every oncology appointment! 



Fake Christmas 



I celebrated fake Christmas with my university friends in Minehead. 



Milton Keynes 



We went to Milton Keynes for the weekend to visit Fee and Dave. I blogged about it here



Spa day at the Hilton Hotel 



Nicola and I went to the Hilton Hotel for a spa day and an excellent afternoon tea.



The Lion King theatre break 



Neil and I went to London for the weekend to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. I blogged about it here



Celebrated six months all clear 



We celebrated my next 'all clear' appointment in April with a meal at Miller & Carter. 



Walt Disney World 



We went on another amazing holiday to Walt Disney World! I blogged about our meals here, my shopping haul here and my character meets here



Sophie and Bryan's wedding 



We celebrated the lovely Sophie and Bryan's wedding day with them at Court Colman Manor in Bridgend. 



First support group meeting



I attended my first ever support group meeting (and subsequent lunch!) which I blogged about here



Rhys and Rhiannon's wedding 



We celebrated Rhys and Rhiannon's wedding with them over two days in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. 



My birthday 



I celebrated my 31st birthday with a lovely meal at Bar 44! 



Celebrated nine months all clear 



We celebrated my next 'all clear' appointment in July with our first visit to Moksh. I blogged about it here



Jessie 



We brought our beautiful puppy home. I blogged about her first few weeks with us here



Weekend in Portishead 



I visited Amy for the weekend in Portishead. I blogged about it here



Third wedding anniversary 



We celebrated our third wedding anniversary with dinner at Etc, afternoon tea at Pettigrew Tea Rooms and a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I blogged about our anniversary here



Celebrated one year all clear 



We celebrated being given the 'all clear' for a whole year with an amazing meal at Restaurant James Sommerin. I blogged about it here



Florence 



We spent a week in beautiful Florence. I blogged about it here



Bristol shopping trip 



I spent the day in Bristol with my university friends, and blogged about my amazing festive pizza here



More afternoon teas than I can count 



I had afternoon tea at the Mercure Hotel in Swansea, the Hilton Hotel, Llanerch Vineyard, The Park Plaza, and at Pettigrew Tea Rooms (several times!). 



Christmas 



We had a lovely Christmas with family and friends. I blogged about it here.



So as you can see, 2017 had lots of highs as well as lows and it's important to remember this as I step tentatively in to 2018! 

What were your highlights of 2017?