Our Garden

We still have a lot of work to do in our back garden, but in preparation for my family arriving we did get ourselves a nice, new table and chairs. We also replaced the old canopy on the gazebo, since it was getting quite bad.

I think it’s looking much better now!

garden

The back part of the garden still needs to be dug up and fenced in. We’re also planning to turn the furthest part of it into a parking space, so that we can park off the road. It’s moving along very slowly though, but hopefully we’ll eventually get there. You can tell from the next photo that there’s a lot of weeds, big weeds(!) in the back part of the garden that need to be dealt with.

garden-table

Durlston Country Park

One of the days we went to Durlston Country Park, it’s a nature reserve and park that stretches along the coast and they used to have quarries there for limestone in the past. We walked a path along the sea side, saw the lighthouse (of which I didn’t get any good photos) and then had lunch at their restaurant.

I tried Dorset Apple Cake (since we live in Dorset), and it was nice. I’m not sure what’s different to regular apple cake though, since to me they all tend to just be apple cake.

durlston-country-park

There’s also a 40-ton globe made of limestone on the grounds, engraved with the world map (as it was in the 19th century). It was a nice visit, with a lovely walk along the coast, but also somewhat terrifying for someone with a fear of heights, since you walk quite close to the edge. Like most of the English south coast, the cliffs are quite steep, so you want to watch your step!

durlston-2

Beach + Swanage

I took my mom, my brother and Bailey to the beach one day. As it turned out, it was a nudist beach… But at least it wasn’t as packed as the other ones? Have to look at these things from the bright side! And there was no requirement to not wear clothes yourself (like I’ve seen on some beach in Spain), as you approach you just get a warning sign that naturists may be seen.

A wild nudist appears.

Every time I see that sign, that’s what I think. Pokemon has damaged me, and I don’t even play it.

Anyway, we still had a good time at the beach. My mom and I even managed to take a swim in the ocean. It wasn’t exactly warm, but we managed to do it by going in very slowly, getting used to it a little bit at a time. A more brave person may have just run in and done it quickly, but I am not that person.

Bailey enjoying the water.

Bailey enjoying the water.

We didn’t stay as long on the beach as I think we would have liked, since my brother wasn’t really enjoying it and we felt bad. Bailey had fun though, until we were told that he had to be on a lead, which I didn’t know, so he’d been running around until then. Apparently it was because it was “so busy”. Compared to the beach in the town centre, I wouldn’t have called it busy, but I guess it was too busy to have him loose.

Bailey showing off the beach view.

Bailey showing off the beach view.

And yes, the man in the background is most likely nude. Fortunately the photo is too pixelated to tell.

After the beach, we continued onto Swanage, a little beach town nestled in a cove. We didn’t have enough change for the parking meter to stay for more than an hour, which was a shame. (Planning, not my forte!) We sat at a little beach bar and had a milkshake, enjoying the view.

Best banana milkshake in a while.

Best banana milkshake in a while.

Tank Museum + Durdle Door

My 18 year old brother is a big fan of tanks. (I know, that was my reaction too.) Anyway, apparently barely¬†an hour from where I live there’s a tank museum. Not just a tank museum, but The Tank Museum. It’s the largest tank museum in the world, and the third largest museum of armoured vehicles. Fancy that.

Considering these facts, there was nothing to it. We had to make the drive to the tank museum. I’ll be honest, it’s not my cup of tea. It did have some interesting bits though, it does actually trace the history of tanks which was fascinating to see. You can see how they idea started and how they then perfected it through the years. The first tanks used so much petrol that you wonder if it was possible for them go get anywhere. Where did they store it?

My brother and a tank.

My brother and the tank from the movie Fury.

But I digress. There were a lot of tanks. A. lot. of. tanks.

The museum is in the Bovington Camp which trains most of the armed forces in armoured vehicles. So, while driving there, you came across road warning signs that you were approaching a “Tank crossing”. I wish I’d taken a photo. Even more fun, was the random signs that said “Warning. Sudden Gunfire.”

Just for fun, before leaving the museum we put my brother (and myself) in an armored vehicle ride around the grounds. It was incredibly noise and shaky. I can’t imagine being someone that had to spend hours in one of those vehicles.

tank-museum

The plan was that after the museum we’d travel the extra fifteen minutes to go down to Durdle Door, but the museum took a bit longer than we’d expected, so by the time we reached Durdle Door the weather had taken a turn for the worse and it was starting to get dark.

As the rain was starting to come down, my mom and I walked down to the view point and took a picture, then hurried back up the hill again. So, our afternoon with picnic at Durdle Door ended up just being a picture. Also, the path to go up and down is very, very steep. I took a picture of it, but I honestly don’t think it shows how bad it is. By the time we reached the top again my thighs were hurting!

The last bit is the worst, and I don't think you can see it from this angle.

The last bit is the worst, and I don’t think you can see it from this angle.

I’d love to go back again one day when I have more time and can actually go down to the beach and stay for a while. The trek back up again might not be as bad if you didn’t just walk down as well. The incline is so bad you can actually feel it in your knees going down.

At least I got my photo of Durdle Door!

At least I got my photo of Durdle Door!

You can’t actually tell from the photos, but it was actually raining at this point. Not properly coming down yet, but enough to make us quite chilled.

Afternoon Tea

My mom wanted to start the holiday in “an English way”, so we went to a traditional English Tea at one of the hotels in town. The weather was great, sunny and hot – which was nice, until we sat down to tea and realised it was indoors with no air conditioning. We thought we might melt (and some of the cakes nearly did!), but it was still a lovely experience and something I wouldn’t mind doing again.

afternoon-tea

For those that don’t know, afternoon tea is usually served with tea (though you can get coffee these days) and a three tier plate with finger sandwiches, scones and a selection of small cakes.

It’s extremely filling! So if you ever go, make sure you’re properly hungry!

I’m sure different places have different amounts of food, but where we went they definitely weren’t stingy with their selection. We got to choose two flavours for our finger sandwiches each (and I think we got like four each, which felt like a lot at the time), and then you had two scones per person rather than one (and with scones you get jam and clotted cream). Finally they had a selection of four little cakes.

In the end I think I only had one scone and half of each of the cakes, maybe three finger sandwiches. I was stuffed! Definitely worth your money!

We also walked around in the town centere, and I showed them the beach (which was packed due to the heat). I’m terrible at remembering to take photos, so I have very few in all fairness. I’m a bad blogger that way. I know the “big blogs” show lots of photos all the time. That’s just never going to happen here.

The way Bournemouth is laid out, the town centre with all the shops is not far from the beach. You basically can go shopping, then you take a stroll through the Lower Gardens and voila – you’re at the beach!

lower-gardens

The Lower Gardens are quite popular a place for people to go for a picnic or just hanging out. There are apparently Central and Upper Gardens as well, but I’ve only ever walked through the Lower, while the others continue further up through town.

That was our first day.

And suddenly it’s the middle of August!

Right. So, things got pretty busy.

I finished up work, and there was a lot of extra stuff the last few days, including a prom night for the students. The day I finished work, I came home, then went straight into panic-cleaning mode since my family was arriving later that evening. They then spent a week here, and we did some sightseeing and hanging out – it was nice.

After that, I went back to Sweden for two weeks to see the rest of my family. I’ve not been back in England for a week, and I’m slowly gathering energy again. That much socialising and well… doing stuff, wears me out. I have a bunch of photos to share, but I will space them over a few different posts, because I don’t want to spam you too much!

This weekend just gone it was my birthday, and it was celebrated fairly quietly at home with the boyfriend and his parents. We’d invited a few friends over, but a couple were out of town and another decided to have their baby that weekend! So in the end it was just us four. I feel like they all had good excuses though.

I had brought some things back from Sweden, and made a Swedish cake called a Princess cake, which uses green marzipan. It’s three layers, with bottom being strawberry jam, middle being vanilla custard and then you cover it all with some whipped cream and top it with the green marzipan. It was the first time I made it, and I think I can definitely improve on it for the next one, but it wasn’t bad!

Princess Cake!

Princess Cake!

The boyfriend got me an insanely good gift as well; he got me a laptop! It’s perfect for several reasons, I’ll be able to sit more comfortably to write (sitting at the desk for too long tends to make me ache), and I can bring it when I go to Sweden and still be able to do things! (I suspect he may have gotten tired of hearing me curse at the 5+ year old laptop I was using in Sweden when trying to raid in the past.)

IMG_0187

All in all, it was a great birthday, and a good few weeks previous. Will write more about them in the next few days, while spamming you with photos. (Some of which you’ll have seen if you have me on instagram and/or facebook.)

Twelve

Twelve. That’s the amount of working days left until school breaks up for the summer. I’m feeling quite worn down, so I’m very much looking forward to the time off. We don’t start again until September 1. The school holidays are definitely a big bonus when working in a school!

In the evening on the day we break up for summer, my mom, her partner and one of my brothers are coming over to visit for a week. It’ll be fun to show them around this new area where I live. Whenever I’m on outings with school, I try to make mental notes of where we are and if it would be something nice for my family to do.

After a week, they’ll be returning to Sweden, and I’m going with them. Can’t wait to visit home and see the rest of my family. My sister had a baby a month ago, and it will be the first time I see her – it will be so lovely!

Other news is that work did offer me another contract. Fixed-term again, until they break up for summer next year. So, good news – I’m still employed!

And it’s gone…

My one week off is coming to an end, tomorrow it’s back to work. The week has gone by way too fast, and I didn’t get around to doing even half of the things I had planned. Still, it’s been nice to be off and I’ve enjoyed some much needed rest and relaxation.

I’ve received a letter from work confirming that my contract is coming to an end on July 20th, something which I already knew. They’re not offering an extension, but I’m invited to a chat regarding my employment in the near future. Whether or not they will offer me another temporary contract for the fall term remains to be seen. I guess I will find out during that chat.

I’m pretty sure that the letter is worded in that way to make sure that if they do offer a new contract, they only have to do it from the start of the fall term – rather than extending the current one. All of the temporary staff has received the same letter. It means they don’t have to pay us for six weeks. Which is really nice for them, but awful for us.

Still, a new contract from September is more secure than having to go job hunting, and I do enjoy the job. So I am really hoping for a new contract, as frustrating as it might be to be without pay for several weeks.

So, tomorrow it’s back to work. I have six weeks of work, plus two days (school finishes on a Tuesday this year) – then my mom, her partner and one of my brothers come to visit for a week. After that, I fly back to Sweden with them to visit home for two weeks, something I’m really looking forward to.

I just need to find the energy to get through the next six weeks and two days first!

Weddings

There have been a lot of weddings in my life lately. In March we went to a friend’s wedding. in May we had a wedding party for a couple of friends (who had eloped and gotten married in Scotland), and then a large wedding for the boyfriend’s sister.

I enjoy weddings. They’ve all been lovely, and I’ve enjoyed being allowed to share in the joy and happiness of our friends.

It’s strange though, because the wedding-mania (I also have two colleagues at work who are getting married, so there’s been a lot of talk about weddings!) has made me want to get married myself. Which is an odd feeling to me since it’s not something I’ve ever been overly concerned about. For a little while there though, I was feeling like I wanted nothing more than to get married.

Not have a big wedding, mind you. I’d hate that. But to get married. I’m not entirely sure what caused the feeling, but it was pretty frustrating. It turned me into someone I didn’t recognise. The girlfriend who kept whining about getting married. I never wanted to be that person. I think my feelings are finally settling down though, which is nice – because I’m pretty sure I was driving both the boyfriend and myself nuts.

I'm never really allowed a nice photo of the two of us...

I’m never really allowed a nice photo of the two of us…

I would still like to get married one day, but I care more about being married than I do about having a wedding. When the day comes, I’d prefer something smaller, more casual. There’s nothing I hate more than the idea of a lot of people staring at me!

Anyway, the weddings were all lovely – and quite different from each other. Especially the two in May. The first being a fairly informal, relaxed wedding party with easy pick-up foods. No sit down dinner, no speeches – just a lot of people hanging out and mingling, eating some food and dancing. The second was a big, proper wedding with the ceremony, sit-down dinner, speeches, wedding reception… You name it, it probably happened!

Lovely photo of the boyfriend with his mom at the wedding reception.

Lovely photo of the boyfriend with his mom at the wedding reception.

Speaking of speeches… The boyfriend did one for his sister’s wedding, and it was amazing. It was like a comedy skit. A lot of people commented on how well he did, and I’m very proud of him. (Especially considering that he hadn’t written a single thing down!) An uncle recorded it, but sadly the sound cuts out a lot because of all the background noise.

I think we’re all weddinged-out for a bit now. No more pending invitations, so we can relax. And I’m doing just that, enjoying my one week off for half term.

The reception had special coasters...

The reception had special coasters…

The boyfriend's mom showing off a beard, not knowing that the real deal was behind her!

The boyfriend’s mom showing off a beard, not knowing that the real deal was behind her!

Far Away

Living far away from your family isn’t easy at the best of times, so when I got a message last week that my grandma had been taken to the hospital, I was definitely struggling. I wanted very badly to be there for her, able to visit her in the hospital and help out in any way I can. Neither of which is possible when you’re in another country.

She was taken to the hospital last Wednesday morning, and ended up having emergency surgery that afternoon. After that she’s been struggling with an infection, but from what I’m hearing she’s on the mend, and they’re hoping to send her home next week. (With some assistance in the home, since she won’t be able to do everything for a while yet.)

When something like this happens you feel very powerless when you’re far away. It’s made me miss my family extra much, and I can’t wait until end of July when I go home to see them. Especially my grandma, who I will be hugging extra hard.