- I was still in toronto for christmas at the turn of 2011 and the first thing on the list was the annual clarke family dessert party! we had a table FULL of sweets and desserts and invited loads of people over and indulged. so yummy!
- I had LOADS of hangouts with friends whilst in toronto - I saw mandi, heather, doris, puppet, andrew (who now lives in the UK!), victorine, lots of people! I ate lots, spent time with my family, it was lovely, but I felt like I needed another week off to recuperate when I returned to england!
- the 25th of january is burns night in the UK (mainly scotland, but here too) so fergus and I spent it at a friend's pub, eating haggis (well, I didn't..), neeps, tatties, swede, cranachan etc! fergus did the reading and we had a lovely evening
- february was a bit of a quiet month, but most importantly, it was fergus' birthday! we didn't have a serious plan for the day, but to go to stratford-upon-avon (the birthplace of shakespeare!) we had a lovely day walking around, seeing the sights, pub-hopping and watching the rugby. we ended up back in warwick for dinner and drinks at one of our favourite indian joints, where fergus ordered the hottest curry the house makes (the "naga/cobra chili curry"...only for indians from india we were warned...)
- march started off in a rather regal manner - the queen came to royalise the new courts of justice in royal leamington spa and I actually got fairly close to her! christina and I braved the cold and waited (what seemed like hours) to see her. she's so little!
- the rest of march was, sadly, a bit of a snore. I worked and that was about it :/
- my friend atchara and I spent a long weekend at her boyfriend's place in liverpool! I'd never been to liverpool before, so it was a nice adventure! it's a lovely city - we shopped, we ate, we went to costco, got trapped atop the highest europe's tallest cathedral and we explored!
- I did some biking through the lovely countryside that's nearby and saw lots of adorable baby lambies!
- probably the best part of april for me was my and fergus' trip to paris! (april in paris..you see how I timed it perfectly there?!) we took the eurostar from london to paris and had an absolutely brilliant time (my first time, fergus has been a few times before) in the city of love! we ate gorgeous french food, did some touristy things (the eiffel tower!) and enjoyed our time there! paris, je t'aime!! <3
we had a nap in the shadow of the tower!
- we had a pirate/sailor/nautical-themed day at starbucks, and even though it wasn't my shift to work, I never turn down any excuse to get my sailor on! plus, we were raising money for motor neurone disease, so it was a good cause. plus, I ended up being featured in a local newspaper for it!
- in may, my friend joy from toronto was in europe/africa doing a bit of travel, so when she stopped in london I went down to the big city to spend a few days with her! we did lots of fun things - we went to museums, did the tower of london, went to a big hindu temple on the outskirts of zone 4 and had afternoon tea in st paul's cathedral!
- I managed to win tickets to the big capital fm summertime ball at wembley stadium in london from work. the weather was TERRIBLE (cold and wet, not nice for an arena without a roof), but fergus and I soldiered on. there were lots of big acts (cee-lo green, jennifer lopez, enrique iglesias, nicole scherzinger, etc.)
- june started off with a visit to warwick castle - a beautiful old castle that I see everyday from my flat, but had yet to visit. so emily and I spent a day (with a two-for-one voucher!) exploring the castle and its grounds. it's an excellent castle, maybe even better than the tower of london I think!
- I tried to grow a few things in my window box at the flat - I had some success with lettuces, coriander, morning glory flowers and tomatoes (which, strangely, even though they're outside and haven't been watered since october, are still producing fruit! it's january!!!)
- meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, my dear friend mandi was forced to sloan alone!! being the crafty minx she is, she brought along a photo of me and I was there in spirit. she even had a couple of the boys pose with me!!
- all good canadians know that the first celebration of july is canada day! well, things are no different here in the UK! canada day in britain is a massive party in trafalgar square, in the heart of london. there were mounties, tim horton's coffee and doughtnuts, poutine (upon further inspection, this was deemed to be false poutine with english cheddar shredded on top! wrong.) and an all-day concert full of canadian bands! the square was FULL of canadian accents, it was hilarious! just like being at home!
- the big travel in july was a voyage back to the homeland! fergus came with me (his first time in toronto) and we saw lots of friends, he met my family, we went for a little romantic getaway to niagara falls, celebrated my sister's 21st birthday, fergus had poutine (for the first time!! he likes it!), the CN tower, lots of touristy canadian things :)
toronto island time!
dinner in greektown with kristin, dad and sharon!
wine tasting in niagara!
- in august, a friend of fergus' came to stay with us - sean from scotland! he was so funny and we had a great time doing a few touristy things. we went to some horse races in stratford, ate some yummy food, went bowling with emily, lots of fun stuff!
- in september I began working at the bell inn. it's a nice little village pub run by viv and chris, a couple of my and fergus' friends. I'm still working there!
- september marked my one-year anniversary (my "immiversary") of living in the UK! I gathered up some friends and headed to one of my favourite indian restaurants in leamington, a keralan place called kayal!
- emily and I went to enjoy the last fading glimmer of summer so we had a picnic in jephson garden!
- october was all about food. I joined in the vegan mofo project, and I tried to post a recipe or recap of the yummy vegan foods I was eating every day.
kale salad, carrots and lemony roasted postatoes
vegan mac n cheeze!
spicy tomato penne!
homemade refried beans, tortilla chips and a salad!
potato and kale enchiladas!
keralan curry in the chicken of plenty!
- the warwick mop fair came to town and fergus and I went out, had a look, ate a candy apple and played a fair game to win a meerkat!
- october means halloween, a holiday most beloved to me, but not too widely celebrated here in the UK. I made the best of it and decorated some pumpkins with emily, watched some scary movies and worked a shift as a zombie barmaid!
- I started a new job in november! yay!! I am now employed by the university of warwick and am really enjoying the job :) to celebrate, I made some pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls!
- fergus, me, molly and tom went to see one of my favourite bands, death cab for cutie, in birmingham! we visited the famous birmingham german market and had a great time at the gig.
- victorian evening (which I missed out on in 2010) was back in town and emily and I went out, petted owls (!!!), rode an old-school carousel and had some hot chocolate. lovely!
- our friend tom was leaving to work a season in a ski chalet in france so we had a little leaving party for him at a pub in kenilworth. fergus came, luke, emily and christina, it was fun!
emily didn't get the serious face memo..
- my birthday is in december and I had a wonderful 24th birthday! lots of presents, time spent with some friends and my lovely fergus and goooood food! I made a three-tiered birthday pavlova, went to jamie's italian in birmingham, to a tiki bar for virgin cocktails and spent the day with my lovely mister :)
- I did some christmas baking! I made ginger sparkle cookies, mexican hot chocolate cookies, peanut butter blondies and sugar plums!
- since it was christmas holidays and everyone had come back from university, a group of us got together for a lovely meal at kayal! luke, atchara, christina, me, fergus, mike p, molly, emily and nick all headed to leamington for a delicious keralan curry!
- this year was my first (planned) christmas in warwick! it was fairly low-key; fergus and I went out for dinner on christmas eve at an italian place in warwick and then to a couple pubs afterwards for drinks with some friends. on christmas day I conjured up (well, not exactly by waving a wand..wasn't that simple!) a lovely christmas dinner! I made a little chicken for fergus, a tofurky for me and all the trimmings! we opened presents, I skyped my mum and sister back in toronto and ate looooads of chocolate! it was relaxed and low-stress - the perfect way to spend the holiday :)
- in the days following christmas, fergus and I headed to holland to meet up with my dad, sister, my dad's partner and her children! we had a really lovely time doing touristy things and just spending time together. we biked, we ate dutch food, we spent a day in antwerp (eating belgian waffles, chocolate, jenever etc), we saw windmills and rang in the new year amsterdam style! it was an amazing time and it was such a treat to get to see some of my family on this side of the pond (you guys need to come over here more often!!)
and thus concludes 2011! its been a blessing to be on this beautiful planet another year, making memories with my friends and family on both sides of the atlantic. this past year has taught me that patience, perseverance and trust in God can get you through just about anything. I feel like I've really strengthened my relationship with God this past year through the three months of trouble I went through in the summer and autumn. 2011 was extremely trying at times but it was also extremely rewarding. I'm thankful for all the things and people I have in my life and learned to appreciate them even more this past year. I hope that 2012 is filled with more great experiences, more travel and more learning. thank you all for following along with me, I wish you all the best for the new year - good health, lots of happiness and new adventures. xx