Ston Easton Park Hotel

I probably say this all the time but one of the perks of living in the UK is our proximity to gorgeous and historic locations. It seems everywhere you travel you can find places that are filled with history and character.

Our trip to Cheddar last weekend is a perfect example of this. I’ve already told you about the attractions of Cheddar itself but I haven’t mentioned the place where we stayed: Ston Easton Park.

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This 18th century Palladian mansion hotel is the perfect place for a weekend getaway in the English countryside. The hotel is situated about 10 miles outside of Cheddar and is surrounded by lovely grounds which are available for country walks. These are some pictures we snapped during a quick walk we did before breakfast.

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The inside of the hotel is equally enjoyable. It has gorgeous sitting rooms, dining rooms, a library, an Edwardian kitchen, and a billiard room which are available for the guests to explore and relax in.

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Even with these beautiful surroundings, I have to admit we spent most of the time lounging and napping in our cozy top-floor room. I am 8 months pregnant after all!

We did manage to venture out of our room for dinner and breakfast downstairs in the dining room. Both meals were excellent. For dinner, there was a 5-course tasting menu which included an amuse bouche of french onion soup foam, a salmon starter, a nutmeg sorbet, partridge with vegetables, and lemon posset with lime sorbet for dessert. The entire meal was delicious from start to finish but I think my favorite part was the nutmeg sorbet. It was so unique and incredibly tasty!

With lots of relaxation, comfortable surroundings, and delicious food, this was definitely the perfect place for our “last hurrah” weekend! If only we could have a “last hurrah” every weekend 🙂

Staying Gorge-ous

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Peter and I did a “last hurrah” weekend before the baby comes and headed off to Cheddar, England yesterday. Cheddar is a village in the county of Somerset that is famous for giving its name to one of my faves — cheddar cheese! Besides being the home of delicious cheese, Cheddar also boasts a magnificent gorge and several caves/caverns that are fun to explore.

We rolled into Cheddar around lunchtime yesterday and immediately found a restaurant that I could sample some of the local offerings. After a cheese-filled meal, we waddled our way past some adorable shops and tea houses up to the tourist office and bought tickets for a walk along the gorge and the caves.

The walk was a 3 mile circuit and started with a 274 step staircase up to the top of the hill. Luckily it had plenty of resting points along the way up the staircase because I was huffing and puffing the whole time!

At the top, there was a viewing tower and a path leading further up the hill. We decided to walk for as long as I felt I could which in the end was only about 1/2 a mile but it was just enough for us to see some beautiful views and take some obligatory “bump” pictures.

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On the way back down, we went up the tower for another vantage point of the lovely valley below. Then it was time to head off to the caverns. We went to Gough cave which was found/excavated in the early 1900s by a local man named Richard Gough. Within the cave, they discovered the skeleton of a man from the Mesolithic period, which is the oldest complete human skeleton in Britain.

Gough’s Cave has lots of pools of water and naturally formed crevices. The cave is also used for storing and maturing cheddar cheese — so cool.

After our tour, I was ready for some relaxation so we strolled back through the village, bought some of the cheese that is matured inside of the caves, and drove off through Cheddar Gorge to our lovely hotel. More on our stay there for another day!

Hibernating

This is usually the time of year that I start to get restless for spring. The short, cold days and extra long nights just get too much and I can’t wait to run, skip, and jump into a new season.

This year, though, is different. As my last few weeks of pregnancy approach, the instinct to turn inward and savor the winter quiet is getting stronger. My slow, sluggish body is perfectly content to spend the days with cups of tea, kitty cat snuggles, and an utter lack of productivity. This instinct is only helped by the fact that the trains aren’t running into London on the weekends this month so seeing friends or doing things in the city would be a huge effort.

For the first time in my life, I can identify with a bear hibernating through the winter. I have full confidence that spring will arrive in its own time. There’s no need to rush or worry. All that needs to be done now is rest and prepare for the season to come…

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Three Years English

My first day in the UK

Three years ago today, I stepped off a plane in the UK with a wedding dress, a fiancee visa, and a plan to make a life here. I knew we’d be getting married in March and I’d try to find a job but beyond that I couldn’t have anticipated all of the wonderful things that would come our way.

The past three years have brought one little kitty cat, two new jobs for me, a new house for both of us, and many new friends and experiences. We’ve had adventures around London, the UK, and the world. I’ve gotten my UK driver’s license, filed taxes in two countries for several years now, and obtained the right to live here indefinitely. Every day, living here seems more and more natural, and that feels so good.

This three year anniversary also affords me the right to apply for UK citizenship. What a huge milestone. Becoming a mother and a UK citizen within a few months of each other is going to make 2015 a year to remember.

In some ways, life right now feels very similar to how it felt back in 2012. I’m on the brink of something wonderful and only time will tell exactly how wonderful it will be!

Just Add Baby

I’ve spoken a lot about the activities we’ve been doing lately out of the house but I haven’t mentioned all of the the baby prep that’s been happening behind the scenes.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been preparing mentally for labor by taking birthing classes and reading books. I’m trying to get physically ready with prenatal pilates and some yoga on the side. We’ve also been doing tons of shopping, sorting, and adorable baby laundry in anticipation of our little girl’s arrival. My former yoga room has now been transformed into a (nearly) complete nursery.

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As you can see, we kept the same color scheme of green, white, and grey but added some touches of pink and lots of nursery furniture. Apologies for the light in these pictures but we had class this morning and by the time I got home the sunshine was gone and the clouds were out. Oh well.

At this point, all we’re missing is baby! She has a few more weeks to go, though, so no rush 🙂