Helllloooo…it’s me

So last blog post was November.  Apologies, but you’ve heard it all before.  So here is a cliff notes version of the past 5 months:

Oz. Was. Amazing.  It was so good to visit with George, Pam and Kieran and explore Western Australia.  Definitely a new experience celebrating Christmas with sunshine and kangaroos rather than freezing temps and snow (or rain and grey skies in the UK).  If you haven’t seen it yet, Dan put together a little video from our trip.  It was such an amazing experience, Western Australia is truly beautiful:

In January, I finally got another thing ticked off the “Living in the UK” checklist when I passed my driving test.  “Now Mandy”, you may be saying, “didn’t you already know how to drive?”

I have been driving in the states since I was 15, but when you move to the UK, your US license is good for a year before you have to start the process from scratch to get a UK license.  The first year I lived here, Dan and I didn’t have a car.  Also, manual cars are the norm over here and I only had ever driven automatics.  So finally after 5 years of living here and having reasons to put it off, saving for visas, a house, etc, I finally took the plunge and started driving lessons.  And I was so lucky as I had the most amazing instructor, a friend of mine, Emily (Learn to Drive with Emily) and I ended up passing my test the first time around!  It was quite a lot of work, I think I started lessons in July, I had to study for and take the theory test, before doing the practical which was a lot harder than my driving test on a closed course in the states!

12524214_1545371762444664_4550985764154731979_nSo Dan always told me that once I passed my driving test, we could get a dog and somehow the stars aligned and Dan came across an ad for a dog that sounded absolutely perfect for us a few days after I passed my test.

Now if you know me at all, you know how much I love dogs and have always wanted one of my own.  We went to visit Colleen and Paul in Plymouth at the end of January and were telling them how we had arranged to see this dog when we got back, but we weren’t too sure.  Paul kept telling us we would be coming home with a dog.

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And sure enough, on February 2nd, we became the proud owners of Betty, a blue and white 3-year-old English bulldog.

IMG_20160214_122326We love her so much and she has been such an amazing addition to our little family!  She’s getting her own post because I could (and do) ramble on about her for days, haha!

IMG_20160423_163920And you can follow her here on her own instagram account (betty.the.bully), specifically created so my Facebook page isn’t flooded with pics of our dog.

In March, Dan and I finally painted the last room in the house that still needed it (only a mere 2 years after moving into the place…).  And we now have a lovely turquoise kitchen:IMG_20160321_163951We had a lovely visit from Kieran and Hailey over Easter weekend.  And although the weather wasn’t that great, we still managed to have good time in between dodging rain clouds!

And that about brings us up to date!  We’ve spent some time prepping for our friends’, Chris and Elise, wedding in September, suits and bridesmaids dresses have been selected!  Hen and Stag parties are next on the list before the big day gets here 🙂

And flights have been booked and plans made to go to Las Vegas in October for our friends’, Matt and Madison, wedding.  Dan has a kite surfing holiday in August and I am coming back to Minnesota for Thanksgiving so lots to look forward to this year!

So see you in another 5 months (just kidding, maybe).

xx

 

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Items of Note

Long time no blog?  So what’s going on in the Ellis household?  Month by month super condensed recap for you all since my last blog was February…

March:  Our washing machine broke.  We bought a new one.

But infinitely more exciting, we booked our tickets to Australia which is now 20 days away!  Dan and I cannot wait, we are flying out December 5th and returning December 28th and will be spending time with George, Pam and Kieran, we have a 6 day camper van trip booked, brewery tour, kayaking, koala sanctuary, sea fishing, kite surfing for the mister, much Kindle reading on a beach for me, and a white Christmas, but of the white sand variety!

April: Dan and I spent a sunny bank holiday with a day trip to Portland, the Olympic sailing took place there.

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May:  Dan celebrated the big 3-0!  We spent his birthday in Bath, where he enjoyed ale and pies at an authentic pub like a proper old man and then dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Italian.  The highlight for him, I am sure, was his super car race day where he got to drive a yellow car(Lamborghini Gallardo) and a red car(Ferrari 458) and a little car(Ariel Atom V8)!

danbdayJune: I went back to Minnesota for a lovely, family filled visit while Dan was in Turkey on a kite surfing holiday with some of his kite surfing buddies.

2015-06-14 12.06.20Dan made a video with his GoPro and some drone footage:

July: Colleen and Paul came down for a fun-filled weekend of bathroom renovations.  Just kidding, it was hellish, and the guys were working their hardest, but due to the work of the previous owners, everything turned into a bit of a nightmare.  Dan ended up finishing it though and it looks a hundreds times better than the old bathroom so got there in the end.  Colleen and I had a lovely sushi lunch anyway, haha!

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August: George and Pam came to visit before flying back out to Oz.  George brought Dan the most wonderful gift in the form of his brewing equipment.  Dandy Brewing has been in full swing since, our first batch was an Australian lager and we’re currently conditioning the second batch, a wheat beer, which should be ready to drink next Friday!

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Also we attended our friends, Chris and Elise’s engagement party, we couldn’t be happier for them and can’t wait for the wedding next year!  Team Dandy and Team Chrelise! 🙂

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September:  September is my birthday and our anniversary month.  I got incredibly spoiled this year as Dan managed to track down a Ted Baker handbag I had been lusting for since I stopped updating this blog pretty much, haha, that was seemingly sold out and never coming back.  But my lovely mister got me the much coveted handbag despite the incompetence of Ted Baker staff, best birthday present!  And we also celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary 🙂

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October:  There was much watching of the rugby world cup in October.  Glad that’s over.

Well, thanks for reading, maybe I’ll post again in a year or so (noooo, the next post shall be a massive Oz post, I promise).

xx

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Home Improvements

After putting it off for half a year, Dan and I finally got around to repainting our lounge.  Ever since we moved in the paint colour in the lounge/landing has been a bit of a mystery.  It looked peach in the daylight, sort of mocha colour in the evening, kind of pinkish in the afternoon, but ugly all the time.  We decided to steer away from neutrals after living in a cream and beige flat for 2 years and ended up going with a light blue and purple colour (a combination stolen from the Dulux inspiration page).  It reminded me of an Easter egg for a while, but I really like it now and it really freshened up the place.

The before:

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And the after:

11015770_724277213156_2004254213_nMuch improved I think!  Next on the list is repainting the kitchen, but we might wait another 6 months before we try to tackle that, haha!

The beginning of January did bring some high-speed winds and half our fence ended up in the street.

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Luckily, our friend, Chris, is a carpenter and came over one weekend and helped Dan set everything straight again.

2014-12-28 14.43.40I am definitely ready for warmer weather (although I can’t really complain looking at the current temperature in Minnesota), but we have had a few nice, sunny weekends!

Dan managed to get out kite surfing quite a bit.  He is currently shivering in a cold wetsuit in the kitchen getting ready to go out now.  And it’s just started raining so even better!  I got him a towel poncho and tea flask for Christmas so he can stay a bit warmer!

10991198_723904495086_3323971233720386405_nDan took me to a shop, American Fizz, that sells all kinds of American food yesterday.  I’ve been there before and it’s really overwhelming.  There’s all this food I’d forgotten about until I see it and need it, haha!  He got me quite a few very nice treats.

11002622_10100965255547347_8624407673199534695_nI am actually most excited about the pepperjack ranch dressing.  They must sell it somewhere, but I have not been able to find ranch in any of the major supermarkets!

xx

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Holidays Are Coming!

Hello everyone!  So what’s gone on the past month and half-ish?  I started a new job at the end of October (same company, different department), which is going really well and was a welcome change!  Dan and I are slowly “feathering our nest” now that most of important work has been done to the house.  We still need to paint the lounge, but think that will be more of a summer job now!

We celebrated Thanksgiving this year as Dan and I both had time off work.  I spent the day cooking up a storm and then we had our friends, Chris and Elise (and Elise’s family dog, Gibson) over for dinner.

2014-11-27 23.42.18Here’s Gibson enjoying a Thanksgiving belly rub 🙂

We had roast chicken (I’ve never really been a fan of turkey), homemade gravy, potato casserole, green bean casserole, stuffing, roast vegetables, cranberry jelly, and I even baked a pumpkin cheesecake after getting my hands on some Libby’s canned pumpkin.

The cranberry jelly was also a special treat because one of the guys I work with brought it back for me when he went to visit his girlfriend in the states.  You can get cranberry sauce with whole cranberries here, but not the kind that comes out of the tin can with ridges still on (the best kind!).

We got our Christmas decorations up on December 1st and it’s feeling quite festive around here!

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And the Ikea orchid from over the years…(2011, 2012, and this year, which is a bit of sad-looking year, haha!).  It’s still alive no matter how many times Dan has threatened to throw it out!  I am just impressed I’ve kept a plant alive this long…

PicMonkey CollageAnd in addition to the holiday prep, Dan has still been managing to go out kite surfing, when weather permits, which usually means windy, wet, nasty weather which we have in abundance 🙂

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Hope everyone is well and we’ll be thinking of you over the holidays!

xx

 

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Can’t Ask for Anything More

The second week in September, Dan and I met up with Steve and Hannah to spend the day in Salisbury before heading to a Frank Turner concert in the evening.

Salisbury is home to the tallest church spire in the UK at an impressive 404 feet.  So when we arrived, we wandered over to the cathedral grounds straight away.

2014-09-13 15.22.45As you can see, Salisbury Cathedral is massive, it’s hard to get it all into one photo!

2014-09-13 15.20.13It’s a beautifully intricate building, taking into account that its construction started somewhere around 1220!

2014-09-13 15.21.41View of a courtyard inside the cathedral.

2014-09-13 15.25.00So much detail!  Down to the gargoyle waterspouts.

2014-09-13 15.28.09After we had our fill of the cathedral, we found some dinner and had a few drinks in a pub garden (that happened to serve Blue Moon!) before heading to the gig.

The supporting act, unbeknownst to myself, was Koo Koo Kanga Roo from Minneapolis, Minnesota!  I got so excited, I tweeted them during the show and met them afterwards at their merch booth.

10494579_10100795228902107_3254588374765359109_n(Apologies for the fuzzy pic, but I still think its awesome!)

Frank Turner was amazing.  I love him.

2014-09-13 21.25.18And I shall leave you with one of my favorite songs of his 🙂

 

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Boat Races and Birthdays

I still feel like I’m trying to catch up with these posts so photo montage and commentary time!

10441146_699821552496_4353446272496300279_nAfter we got back from Amsterdam, we joined Elise’s family friends for their annual raft race on their country estate.  We were the only team that actually made our own raft this year so everyone ended up doing timed trials with ours.  Dan and Chris came in first, but more importantly, team Dandy beat team Chrilise 🙂

Dan made this video with some clips from his GoPro on our way, picnicking, racing, and goofing off in the pool house!

We also watched the Bournemouth Air Festival with Steve and Hannah from their balcony again this year.  Not nearly as sunny as last year, but still a lot of fun.

My friend, Lian, and I went out to dinner one evening at a newish restaurant in Poole, The Stable.  They only serve pizzas and pies and they also have a huge selection of ciders.  Definitely my kind of place!

IMG_20140902_214034And then for my birthday, Dan spoiled me with a massage voucher for the Lush Spa in Poole.  It sounds amazing!  I also will get to tour the kitchens while I’m there as well and looking forward to browsing some of the exclusive products offered there that aren’t in shops.  In addition to my massage, we went to my favorite Japanese restaurant where we ate copious amounts of sushi.  A very good day 🙂

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Amsterdamage

The weekend after Jennie visited us, Dan and I jetted off to Amsterdam with our friends, Chris and Elise.  I’ve never been before so I couldn’t wait, and I was not disappointed.

We flew out from Southampton Airport bright and early, it’s only about 45 minutes to an hour away from us, but we have to catch a 6 am flight.  The flight was only about 50 minutes long, I thought it was too quick as I could have used a snooze on the plane!  We met up with Chris and Elise at Schipol Airport and took the train into the city.

2014-08-17 19.16.27It was about 9 am by the time we got there and we were all starving so we went to Wonderbar Cafe (we ended up spending quite a lot of time there) for some food and celebratory morning beers!

1910644_695815800056_5298286763630210121_nThey also had this incredibly tasty fresh mint tea, drank quite a few of those!  Might need to get my own mint plant so I can make my own!

2014-08-16 11.13.37The only downside of the whole trip was that it rained quite a lot.  It would drizzle for about and hour, really heavily downpour and the you’d get about 15 minutes of beautiful sunshine to lull you into a false sense of security until it started raining again.  The city is so beautiful, it would have been nice to spend more time wandering around, but it just means we’ll have to go again sometime! 🙂

2014-08-16 13.30.31We went on a canal boat ride in the afternoon that went past 100 different landmarks (I didn’t count so can’t be sure).  The houses lined up on the canals are hilarious because they tilt in every direction.

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They all have hoisting beams at the top because they have so many floors and the stairs are too narrow, you have to get all your furniture in through the windows.

2014-08-16 13.41.33The Nemo Science museum, we ended up going there later in the trip, but such a cool building!

2014-08-16 19.49.15-1We ended up having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, where I had to get a picture of Golden Earring’s guitar for my dad, good old Radar Love 🙂

One evening while we were trying to find a place to eat, Elise spotted a place called Maxim Piano Bar, they didn’t open until 9, but looked very intriguing so we ended up going back later.  And it was an absolute find, we spent our last night there as well.  They had a piano up front and the coasters were request forms, the two players we saw were really good and the bar staff was hilarious.  As you can see, we really enjoyed ourselves there…

10294282_10203243436941567_2501602239442969006_nWe went to the Red Light District one evening, had huge pints at a bar called Ziggy’s and had a look at the windows.  It was bit strange, even stranger to see families walking around with their kids.  Still a really beautiful part of Amsterdam though.

2014-08-17 22.35.29The next day, Dan and I had breakfast at a little organic cafe.  Our hotel was in the museum quarter and seemed to be in a very posh crunchy granola part of Amsterdam.  The food there was amazing, they had this Belgian biscuit spread that was toffee flavored, could have eaten it straight out of the jar.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring any back because we just had hand luggage.  But here is Dan enjoying his first cup of English tea, it was exceptionally hard to find, but now we know Dan must always travel with his PG Tips.

2014-08-18 10.45.20After breakfast, Dan and I headed to Vondel Park, it’s a huge park in the middle of Amsterdam with sculptures, lakes, and fountains.

2014-08-18 12.33.44Unfortunately, it really started raining.  Dan and I had to take shelter under a bridge until we just decided to brave it and make a run for it.  We had to go back to the hotel and employ the hair dryer.

2014-08-18 12.28.39After we had dried out a bit, we met up with Chris and Elise and went to the Flower Market, we also visited various cheese shops and loaded up on samples and played around in a hammock store (amazing!).  And because it was still raining, we went to a Medieval Torture museum, which was interesting and horrifying.

2014-08-17 14.45.37On our last evening, we found an Indonesian restaurant for dinner, so good!  Indonesian is apparently really popular in Amsterdam.  And after dinner, we had a few drinks before heading to the piano.

2014-08-18 22.02.19I love this picture, I was trying to photograph my delicious rose beer, but probably should have turned off the flash…

10392401_10203256824796255_3953472166271539663_nCrazy last night at the Piano Bar!

2014-08-19 14.00.00And the next morning we said goodbye!  It was such an amazing trip and such a beautiful city, definitely need to go back!

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Sister Visit

So I’m going to do a bit of catching up on the blog in the next few days so sorry if you are inundated with blog posts!

Jennie came to visit us for 10 days at the end of July!  It was so nice to hang out and show her the new house.  We kept her pretty busy while she was here.

We went into the Bournemouth and walked along the seafront and visited the Russell Cotes Museum, which was lovely, but sweltering inside.

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Apparently, Victorian houses didn’t have air conditioning.  Jennie lucked out weather wise, I think she’s the first person to visit England and come back with a sun burn.

10641002_10100608887347129_8375885438156420517_nThe next day, we all took a drive to Durdle Door.

12530_10100608887746329_2633496270704853460_n(When Cindy, Debbie, and Keegan were visiting and we took them to Durdle Door)

288Much better weather this time!

10614206_10100608887641539_448947267438670199_nWe met my friend, Lian, for waffles at a new restaurant in Bournemouth, Sprinkles Gelato!

PicMonkey CollageAnd the next day, we spent the day at Corfe Castle and did a pub lunch.

996138_10100608888424969_6197733591406057677_nThe next day, Jennie and I went to Hotel Miramir for her belated birthday afternoon tea.  There was a bit of confusion, I had booked the afternoon tea, but when we got there I said cream tea (I didn’t know there was a difference…), but then the waiter just brought out tea and scones and I asked where the rest of it was and it got sorted 🙂

10646906_10100608889048719_5863252579026847253_nWe walked off our afternoon tea by strolling along the beach to watch Dan do some kite surfing!

7081_10100608889058699_349428441891426349_nWe stayed a bit closer to shore than Dan…

10624593_10100608889218379_8220186158674738747_nAnd Jennie caught me in action catching Dan’s kite for him.

10639410_10100608889318179_2127778115768617102_nOn Friday night, Jennie and I headed down to the beach again because in the summer they have fireworks every Friday off the pier.  Before it started we stopped to get some fish and chips.  We were going to eat them on the beach, but it started drizzling.  I told Jennie she was getting a taste of what English weather was actually like!  Luckily, it dried up right before the display started!

2014-08-01 22.01.20We took the Breezer Bus to Swanage the next day and had a wander around there.  We also went to the Moscow State Circus somewhere in there, like I said, we stayed busy!  And for Jennie’s last full day, we trekked to Winchester to meet my friend Fiona, with her history major knowledge, she gave us an excellent tour!  And because I know how much Jennie likes giraffes, she got to meet one of those as well.  Who needs the zoo? 🙂

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House Tour!

Considering we’ve been in the house over a month now, thought it was time to do an update!  We wanted to get a bit of decorating done before we showed it off and there’s still some work to be done, but here we are at the moment:

2014-05-31 11.55.13Our house is a two bedroom semi-detached, which means we share a wall with the neighboring house.  Semi-detached and terraced houses are pretty common in England (need to maximise the space!).

20140531_115731The kitchen needed the least work of the rooms in the house, we might repaint it at some point, but I think we’re going to leave it alone for the time being.

20140531_115743Before and After of the lounge, we still need to paint this room and the landing.  We’re also on the hunt for a square table to go in the corner near the kitchen.  That’s the project for after Jennie visits!

PicMonkey CollageAnd currently:

10543137_690819767146_333932576_nOur bedroom took the most work as the walls weren’t in the best condition after Dan removed a wardrobe that took up the entire length of the wall the previous owners had left behind.

PicMonkey Collage

And After:

10529603_690819512656_409369930_nAnd the most dramatic transformation, the second bedroom or what Dan and I referred to as the Princess room.

PicMonkey CollageAnd After:

10524093_690819697286_1152879679_nAnd the best part, the back garden.  It’s southwest facing, so when it’s sunny, it’s an absolute sun trap.  Our first house purchases included a BBQ and fire pit, we’ve had quite a few BBQs and spent some evening sitting around the fire pit.  Dan has also been slowly transforming the garage in his man cave, haha!  No more wet suits and kite gear in the bath tub 🙂

PicMonkey CollageIt’s been quite the feat getting moved in and set up, especially since our flat was fully furnished so we needed to buy everything from cutlery to a vacuum cleaner when we moved in.  Definitely enjoying home ownership at the moment though!

xx

 

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Fuerteventura!

About a week ago, Dan and I set our alarms for 2am, bacon sandwiches at the ready, and drove up to Luton Airport for a 7 day inclusive stay at Melia Gorriones in Fuerteventura!

After landing at the airport, we had about an hour-long coach ride to our hotel, the landscape is dry and barren, a few shrubs, rocks, and maybe the wayward goat or two.  But when we got closer to the hotel, you could see the bright blue water and palm trees.

Melia Gorriones was absolutely gorgeous, we were a little disappointed we hadn’t opted for sea view in our room, but after a few days we realised we were really only in the room for bed time anyway.  The hotel has 3 pools, two freshwater and one seawater, I spent most of my time at the salt water pool, in a sun lounger, close to the bar.

2014-05-13 12.13.05Dan did find the time to join me by the pool in between his kiting sessions.

10252040_678078934876_5597806527376669928_nSpeaking of kite surfing, had a bit of a very scary moment on our second day.  Dan took his kite out for the first time and the wind picked up very strong, he got pulled away from shore and crashed his kite.  Eventually, a jet ski went over to him and then drove away!  He got his kite back up and made it back to shore (on the complete other side of the beach, cue me running my butt over there as fast as I could!).  We then found out you need to have kite storage with the centre to get rescued (they will rescue you in dire situations, but charge £50 to bring you as well as your kite back).  So we went and got kite storage and some stiff drinks.

1619272_678358364896_1828899484909448347_nWhich ended up being a good thing anyway, it would have been a long way for Dan to drag his kite equipment back and forth from the hotel everyday.

10310657_677962842526_8438293730113274615_nHere’s the view of our hotel from the beach, all the sand you see is a lagoon and was filled with water by the end of trip!

10348796_678564382036_8526390699481855766_oHere is the full lagoon, that tiny speck in the middle is the watch tower on the beach where Dan kited.  The water came up to your knees at the deepest bit.

10320560_677963042126_2002555693116518682_nThis is on the restaurant balcony, taking advantage of our all inclusiveness upon arrival.  The food was absolutely amazing and we definitely ate way too much of it, we started just having big salads everyday for lunch.

10252002_677962822566_7150282594891579297_nIt was not uncommon to eat 4 different animals for dinner, they had veal, salmon, sea bass, swordfish, lamb, venison, steak, trout, squid, prawns, and the list went on!  There was also quite a bit of vino blanco por favor with dinner…and olives, I ate so many olives, probably almost turned into one.

972929_678091928836_1488062442_nOn our last full day, after Dan got in his last kite surfing session, we got a taxi into Costa Calma.  We thought we would do a little souvenir shopping and go out to eat at one of the restaurants we had heard goods things about.

2014-05-16 18.13.14We didn’t find any souvenirs, there were only a few shops and a supermarket in the area so we settled for some beers at a little surf cafe instead.

10268566_678377476596_4895659515691860265_nAnd then drinks at the restaurant!  We went to an Italian restaurant called B-Side, we were the only people there because it was about 6 when we got there and apparently it doesn’t really get busy until 9-10, but it was nice because the manager brought all our food out and had a chat.  The food was amazing!

10306761_678564292216_619578554419747263_nIt was definitely the nicest holiday we’ve ever been on (the hotel is a star up from the hotel we went to in Barbados and you could definitely tell).  We were both very sad to leave, but excited at the same time.

10277466_677962912386_8333438297848549267_nA new adventure awaits us because we exchanged contracts on our first home while we were away 🙂  Our completion date is May 30th and we are out of our flat on June 8th so we will have some time to clean and paint before we’re in!  And the sun is shining in the UK at the moment so we didn’t even have to come back to grey, miserable weather.

xx

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