I was reflecting back on 2020’s Spring season and decided to put together some of my photos of Bristol in lockdown. (This is our first Spring in England since moving here last fall.) I did not venture out much as my husband was the designated person from our family to do the grocery shopping, so most of these photos come from late May or early June.
Lots of empty streets….
Even the busiest roads in Bristol were quiet…
And space to queue outside before entering grocery stores. Someone handling the queue and managing the number of shoppers by counting how many people go in or come out….
In June, some of our local restaurants that had been closed began to open up back up for take-away orders. These places, too, had space to queue outside and barriers to keep employees separate from anyone picking up an order…
We tried to pick up something from a restaurant that wasn’t delivering on days we went out for errands or groceries, hoping to support these business owners.
And of course, always seeing lots of rainbows in windows as signs that, while Bristol is in lockdown, there is lots of support for the NHS…
Guest post from my sister, Jenny, about her cooking class in Italy that she took while studying abroad in Florence. I was fascinated by all the things she cooked and learned there, so I’m excited for her to share that here!
Hello! My name is Jenny and I’m really excited to be sharing a little bit about my experience taking a cooking class in Italy! When I went to Florence, I knew I was going to study science and travel writing, but there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to take some type of culinary class. The class I picked was Italian Regional Foods in the Cultural Perspective at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute. I chose this one because we got to learn about the cuisine of each region of Italy as well as learn about the history and culture of that region. It was awesome!
One of the coolest aspects of my cooking class was getting to cook in the Il Mercato Centrale, or the Central Market. We were able to use state-of-the-art equipment in one of the most bustling places in Florence, and visitors could watch us prepare dishes through the glass windows while we paid attention to our chef and his sous-chef describing what to do next.
Like I mentioned, the class was all about regional cuisine. Each week, we tackled a new region by cooking a famous and popular dish from that region and discussed the historical significance of it. We started in the North with Liguria and moved through Italy, ending with Sardegna.
Some other dishes we made were tiramisu from Veneto, cannolis from Sicily, and of course, pizza from Campania e Puglia….
Below, left: My favorite pasta dish we made was from Sardegna called Malloreddus sardi al sugo di maiale e frutta secca, aka pasta made with pork, saffron-infused dough, and dried fruit. The island Sardegna has been a crossroads for many cultural influences over the ages due to its central location in the Mediterranean, and you can see that legacy in their cuisine. So in malloreddus, for example, the pork would come from Spain to the west while the saffron came from regions further east.
We made the malloreddus from scratch, and used a small ridged board to make the little pasta pieces. It was super fun and super delicious!
Above, right: At the end of the semester for our final, we had to pick a dish to make and present it to our chefs, describing to them the techniques we used and the history of the region it came from. My group chose Tortino alla gianduia con crema di pere, a mini chocolate cake with pear sauce. It was adorable and delicious and our chefs said we baked it perfectly! (Success!)
It was so enjoyable to be able to take a cooking class in Italy and really learn about the culture through the cuisine. I was able to take the recipes home with me as well, so I would always be able to recreate those dishes again. Thanks for reading through, and thanks to Kate for letting me guest post!
Back with Part 2 of my Bristol Apartment Tour in the kitchen + living area. You can see the photo tour of the bedrooms back in Part 1.
Let’s jump right in!
Like I mentioned in part 1 – when we moved, everything we brought with us had to fit in about 6 suitcases. So we have been working hard to get ourselves settled, furnishing our flat and trying to make it feel like home.
We’ve started collecting some art from around the UK – mostly Bristol and Edinburgh so far. I love seeing the art around the flat every day.
My husband and I both love media and video games – so finding a TV console that could wrangle all our gaming controllers, systems, and TV accessories while still looking presentable was a challenge. I love this one we got from Wayfair – plenty of surface area to hold charging stands for all our controllers and shelving for the game systems. All of our cords are tied up with velcro cable ties and our power strips are supported along the back… hidden from view, neat and organized!
And just across…. I’ve wanted a blue velvet couch for years. Now was my chance!
Perfect for lounging.
Since the UK lockdown started in March, my husband and I have both been working from home. We converted our dining space into a co-working space….
The view isn’t bad!
This is our second Stendig calendar designed by Massimo Vignelli. I love the huge size (3 feet x 4 feet!) and the design. The months alternate between white with black numbers and black with white numbers. We use it for meal planning.
My husband (who does all the cooking for us) loves this kitchen and it was a big part of why he liked this flat. And he loves the open floor plan because he can feel like he’s in the living room even while he is cooking.
We picked up those 3 barstools second-hand from a restaurant. I was ecstatic to scoop them up because I love the Tolix style design. Really durable, practical, and comfortable without taking up much visual space.
If you are wondering where our refrigerator or freezer is… both are actually under the counter! I think this is more common in UK flats than in the USA. The double oven takes center stage in the kitchen instead…
And new to our kitchen… an at-home espresso machine/coffee station we put together a couple of months ago. Loving the flexibility it offers, and it reminds me of working as a barista back in college!
The living room opens up to the terrace….
As the weather gets warmer, we are spending more and more time outside – just hanging out. Enjoying the spring. Loving the views.
And that’s it for the kitchen and living area! Hope you enjoyed the photos from this Bristol apartment tour. 🙂
I’m so excited to finally share a Bristol England Apartment Tour! We moved to the UK from California back in September and got into this apartment in October. After a whirlwind few months of getting settled and finding our footing, I can finally say we are loving our place here.
We initially thought we’d be using a liaison to help us find a flat while we were still living in the States, but we decided at the last minute to wait until we’d moved and look for a place ourselves. That meant we needed to spend time researching flats online the week before we moved and calling up agents to make a short list of places we were interested in seeing on arrival. We landed in Bristol on a Friday morning, looked at this flat Friday afternoon, and by Friday evening we were signing the lease.When it’s the right thing and you know, you know.
Let’s do this. First up…
The Master Bedroom
When we moved, everything we brought with us had to fit in about 6 suitcases. We left most of our things (furniture, lots of clothing, kitchen supplies, etc) behind in a storage locker. So we really started with a blank slate in England and needed to purchase everything we would need while we live here.
We made these display frames to organize jewelry out of cotton wrapped foam board and Ikea Hovsta frames….
I love the way it doubles as organization and wall art. Plus, now I can enjoy jewelry even when I’m not wearing it. Win-win.
We picked up this valet stand at Ikea also, to make a home for those in-between clothes that you’ll wear again but don’t want to put back in the closet. You know what I’m talking about.
Speaking of the closet…. Most of the flats we had on our list to visit had armoire-style storage, so the built in closet here is something we loved about this space….
The Guest Room
Our second bedroom is a jack-of-all-trades. We use it as our guest room (the sofa is a pull-out bed), art studio, and occasional office.
We were looking to add a lot of storage in here, so we choose cabinets from Ikea to organize everything. For example, this cabinet holds the art supplies I have with me currently….
And we used the 3 sets of Eket cabinets together as a TV console:
Lots of storage + TV console. I love the height of these for the TV.
Last but not least, I painted a set of watercolors and picked up this second-hand end-table from the British Heart Foundation.
I’ll be back with photos of the living area + kitchen for Part 2 of this Bristol England apartment tour!
I mentioned in the post about moving to the UK that I’d taken a corporate job in the Netherlands, working for the hospital in Groningen. (I’ve since finished up my work there and am now working for a hospital in Belgium – more to come on Belgium!) Back in December, I posted a “day in the life” on my instagram stories and I want to make a home for that here on the blog as well.
No two days are exactly the same with so much travel for work, but here is what a typical Friday looked like for me every other week when I traveled home to Bristol from Groningen.
My mornings always started with a 15 minute walk to work from my hotel. I love getting my blood flowing and mind cleared with the chance to walk in the morning, something I never really do in the States where I almost always commute by car everywhere.
Since this was a day from December, I was turning to oliebollen for a snack because it is popular that time of year. It’s kinda like a beignet – warm, doughy, and topped with powdered sugar if you’d like. Yum.
Friday afternoons I’d start my commute back to Bristol, going from the hospital to the train station to the airport….
My flight was usually right through dinner time, so I liked eating a small meal/snack before and after so that I wouldn’t get too hungry in flight.
Finished my days by kicking off my shoes and relaxing a little before bed. And always leaving all my unpacking till the morning, haha.
Working in the Netherlands was a great experience and opportunity! I love documenting a day in the life like this and seeing how an average day can look so different as time goes by.
Last week I shared photos from our weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland last November. I absolutely loved exploring the city by foot and learning about the history of the area. But for a change of pace, we also had the chance to take a Scottish Highlands tour and explore the dramatic landscapes of Scotland.
To make things easy on ourselves and maximize our time, we opted for a 1-day bus tour with Heart of Scotland Tours that took us all the way up to Lock Ness and back (about 3.5-4 hours one way if you don’t make any stops). Absolutely the right choice for us. Our tour guide was great, talking through all sorts of history of the areas, glens, and villages we passed. And our group was small, only 9 of us, so it felt easy to ask questions and take our time.
Of course, we did want to stop and take in the sights, and we had a chance to do so in a few places along the way to and from Loch Ness. Here are some photos from Glencoe on our way north…
We arrived at Loch Ness around lunchtime, and grabbed some fish and chips from The Moorings for lunch before the Loch Ness tour….
Felt good to eat something warm in the November chill! We explored a little bit of Fort Augustus, the village where the Loch Ness tour starts….
…and then headed for the boat!
Austin and I love a boat tour, and Loch Ness was no exception. It’s always interesting to me to hear all about a place.
We learned that the Loch Noss’ water is so dark and murky (and mysterious?) because it is full of peat from the soil all around the loch…
…and that the loch is so deep, it is actually the largest volume of water lake in all of the British Isles.
And if you are wondering whether we saw the Loch Ness monster… well, if you look closely enough….
After the Loch Ness tour, we headed back to the bus and back to Edinburgh. We made a couple of stops along the way, first at Spean Bridge Mill.
It was a nice place to stretch our legs, grab a bite, and pick up any souvenirs you might want.
And we stopped for ice cream in Pitlochry after dark. Plenty of flavors to choose from, including Scotch of course.
All in all, a great day and I loved all of our Scottish Highlands Tour. Just like Edinburgh, I already want to go and explore more!
Like I said in my last post about Paris, I’ve been looking through my travel photos and reliving the memories of past trips while we stay inside, social distancing. Last week, I posted photos of our first anniversary trip, and now I want to post photos from our second anniversary weekend exploring Scotland last November. Let’s start with Edinburgh, Scotland!
We rented a car and drove from Bristol to Edinburgh. It was a journey of about 7 hours, and our first time seeing a lot of the British countryside along the way. I love a good road trip.
The evening we arrived, we visited the Edinburgh Christmas Market….
European Christmas markets are so fun – we spent the evening checking out the shops, trying lots of different food, and enjoying the holiday music. And since we had driven up and knew we had extra room in our car, we were able to purchase some large prints by a local Scottish artist. Perfect.
In the morning, we explored Edinburgh by foot. Here is the entrance to Edinburgh castle…
Like always, I’m drawn to the juxtaposition of the old and new. There’s a grand view of the modern city buildings below the castle….
Love a snapshot of two eras.
We listened to a Rick Steves audio tour: Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Walk. Since we had the tour on our phones, we walked the Royal Mile at a leisurely pace with lots of stops along the way whenever we liked. Totally convenient.
The Royal Mile
Here are some snapshots I took along the walk….
Lots of holiday decorations – I love the winter vibes.
Traffic cones topping the statues – this is a long-running thing in Edinburgh, we saw it in a lot of places! Here’s James Braidwood on the left, the founder of the first fire department in Edinburgh, and David Hume on the right, an Enlightenment philosopher born in Edinburgh.
Our favorite part of the walk was turning off the main route of the Royal Mile to explore a close, or alleyway: Lady Stair’s Close.
We would’ve completely missed this if we hadn’t heard Rick Steves mention it on the audio tour! The Writers’ Museumis a free museum just off Lady Stair’s Close that highlights some of the great Scottish writers. We loved it.
The museum is inside Lady Stair’s House, and walking through the house felt like a unique chance to explore how a wealthy Edinburgh home in history might have looked and felt.
Since we are spending so much time at home lately with social distancing, I find myself looking through old photos and reminiscing about being outside and exploring. I thought I’d share my favorite photos from our first anniversary trip to see Paris in the fall, November 2018.
In no particular order, here are some of my fave photos/memories….
Seeing two of Monet’s paintings that feature a figure in the landscape, Woman with a Parasol, Turned to the Right and Woman with a Parasol, Turned to the Left:
Those paintings are in the Musée d’Orsay, which was once a train station and is now such a cool space to explore art.
See that old train station clock? It’s in the Beaux-Arts style that was popular in France in the late 1800s.
We spent an afternoon wandering the Champs-Élysées, seeing the Arc de Triomphe and exploring the shops…
The trees were a lovely orange color this time of year! I love fall colors.
We ate at Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées, something that I’d been wanting to do for years! It definitely lived up to the hype, our late lunch was amazing….
And of course, we had to try their macaron specialities. Plus several macarons for take-away!
Speaking of food, for our anniversary dinner we did a dinner cruise along the Seine – what an amazing experience! Dinner was great, but my favorite part was seeing so many famous sites of Paris from the river – a totally different perspective from the sightseeing we had done in the day time.
Checking out Notre-Dame in between courses…
So cool to see the city by night from the river.
To compare and contrast, here is a photo I took of Notre-Dame the day before from a nearby bridge….
Loved floating underneath that same bridge later during the dinner.
My favorite neighborhood for sightseeing in Paris is definitely Montmartre. I love going here in the evening and watching the sunset from the top of the steps leading up to the Sacré-Coeur….
The views over the city from up here are beautiful.
And the neighborhood is great for walking around, grabbing a bite, and just taking in the evening.
Last but not least, one of my favorite memories from this trip is hopping the scooters to scoot our way along the Seine in style. We rode from the Louvre all the way to the Eiffel Tower, and it felt like a great way to save time and still see the city up close!
Best wishes to everyone self-isolating and social distancing out there. I hope these photos provided a moment of escape for you, like they did for me.
Sharing some of my favorite photos today from touring the Tower of London. These are from my sister’s trip to visit and see London for the first time back in January – loved the chance to take in some sightseeing together.
We started our Tower of London visit with the Yeoman Warder tour (free with admission ticket). So cool to walk around and get an overview of a thousand years of history all around the Tower.
And of course, we saw the guards while we were walking around….
After the tour, we spent a couple hours exploring further on our own.
We saw tons of armor in the Line of Kings exhibit, a display that was originally opened to visitors in the 1600s! It has changed a lot over the years, but one thing you could always count on seeing there: so much armor.
After our visit, we crossed the Tower Bridge as the sun set. We took this photo across the river from the Tower of London. Love those views of the city lights….
Then caught the tube home….
You can find tickets to the Tower of London online here.