Our 10-year anniversary in London

I want to start today’s post by wishing my folks a happy 46th wedding anniversary!

My husband and I just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past June. To mark the occasion, we decided to spend a week in my favourite city in the world — London!

Here are some highlights from our trip.

Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe from Sherlock

I’ll admit this right out of the gate — I chose the hotel we stayed at in London solely based on how close it was to Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe from Sherlock. During our May 2012 trip to London, we visited the filming location of Shaun’s neighbourhood from Shaun of the Dead. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to visit another filming location on this trip, so being close to Speedy’s (a real, operational restaurant) was a natural choice since Sherlock is a show we enjoy watching together. After snapping a few touristy photos of the facade, we went inside and ate a traditional English breakfast.

Tower Bridge

On the two previous trips I’ve taken to London, I never spent as much time as I wanted to at Tower Bridge. I rode tour buses that would drive across it a couple times and that was it. Whoop-dee-flippin’-do.

This time we did it properly.

We started from the Tower Hill tube station at the Tower of London and walked across from north to south on the foot path on the west side, finishing at the east end of the Queen’s Walk on the south bank of the Thames. It was spectacular! I took so many photos that I could make a coffee table book of just Tower Bridge!

And I loved every minute of it.

The Champagne Experience on the London Eye

After Tower Bridge, we strolled along the Queen’s Walk towards the London Eye. We’ve both been on the regular 30-minute rotation before, so we wanted to do something special this time around for our anniversary. After browsing their website, I made a reservation for a special package called the Champagne Experience.

With the Champagne Experience, you get to skip the lengthy June tourist lines (in the afternoon of June 2, it was incredibly long), and you board a capsule with a host who carries the champagne and glasses inside a large, wicker picnic basket and serves you the champagne while on board. You still have to share a capsule with other passengers who are also there for the Champagne Experience, but we didn’t mind.

During the rotation, our host asked if anyone in the capsule was celebrating anything special that day. We said it was our 10th wedding anniversary, to which our fellow passengers congratulated us and our host gave us a cork from one of the champagne bottles as a memento. After a couple glasses of champagne and numerous photos of the London skyline, we staggered out of our capsule and into the gift shop. (We truly did stagger. It was really good champagne.)

A poorly framed photo I took of the London Eye while drunk off champagne.

Dinner at The Shard

We really wanted to do it up right for our anniversary dinner. While I was researching different places to visit during our trip, I found out that there are six restaurants located at The Shard — the tallest building in London. We decided to make a reservation at a Chinese restaurant called Hutong on the 33rd floor.

The view was incredible. Both of them. ;)

The food selection was a little different (and pricey) than what we were used to in North America, but we enjoyed the culinary adventure. Our dessert was by far our favourite item. Look at the pretty!

Terrorist Attack at London Bridge and Borough Market

(This was not a highlight, but it was a major event that occurred during our trip.)

I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 4. As I reached for my phone that was sitting on the bedside table, my husband gently touched my shoulder to get my attention. He calmly told me about a terrorist attack that happened the night before on London Bridge and at Borough Market. We were in the exact same area a few days prior. I went to bed a little after 10 p.m. while my husband opted to stay up a little longer and watch an episode or two of the then newly released season of House of Cards. He told me that his phone started lighting up with messages from people back home asking if we were okay. Instead of waking me up, he decided to let me sleep and contact our friends and family to let them know we were safe.

After processing what he told me, I switched on my phone to see that I too had a barrage of concerned messages. We spent an hour or so watching the news on the BBC until nothing new was reported. We discussed whether we still wanted to do the sightseeing we had planned. To this day, I am still surprised that I wanted to continue on with the trip as if nothing had happened. I think I was still in the mindset that this was happening “over there”, so I had nothing to be scared of. We got ready and set out for another day of sightseeing.

A map showing the road closures on the morning of June 4.

Oddly enough, our travels that day took us past some of the barricaded roads around London Bridge. We knew we were close, but we didn’t expect to turn a corner and find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a crowd amongst a lot of TV news cameras and police vehicles. (We were walking to the Tower of London because the Tower Hill tube station had been shut down.)

Seeing it all in person was very odd to me, and the gravity of what happened still hadn’t sunk in. Even today, my brain is still far removed from it, but I think maybe that’s just how I’ve subconsciously decided to deal with it. Would I go back to London? I would, but not for another 5 to 10 years. This last trip allowed me to see everything I really wanted to see, so I think it’s time that I visit some other destinations.

2017: A Lethbridgian Preview

Happy new year!

As much as I would like to charge onward into 2017 with a positive outlook, I already know that I will experience some sadness along with happy times — hopefully more of the latter. So, instead of delving into my resolutions for the new year (I have none, really), let’s gaze into my crystal ball to see what the upcoming year has in store for me.

Ammena’s last dance show

This is the sadness I was talking about. 2017 will be the last year the Ammena Dance Company will put on its annual show, An Explosion of World Dance & Music. This will be my fourth year dancing in the show, and I was shocked to hear it would be my last. I have made a lot of new friends through the company and have thoroughly enjoyed being on stage again, but I also understand the reasons behind the studio’s closure. Everyone involved in the show is dedicated more than ever before to make this year’s show the best ever, and I look forward to making that happen.

(photo credit)

Our 10th wedding anniversary

My husband and I were married on June 2, 2007, so this year we get to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Really, now… WHOOSH! Where did the time go? We’ve been through rough times and good times like most couples, but I am so glad that we persevered and made it this far. We are far from perfect and still have our difficulties, but I think we are in the best place we have ever been, so it can only go up from here.

(photo credit)

A week in London

To celebrate 10 years of marriage, we are going to spend a week in London late May/early June. YAAAAAAAY! I get giddy just thinking about it! London is my favourite city in the world and I always experience something new every time I go. This trip will be my third and my husband’s second. June 2 falls on a Friday this year, so we want to go out for a fancy supper and enjoy a night out on the town. I have been pinning ideas to my Pinterest account for MONTHS now. SO MUCH EXCITE! :D

 

So that’s a brief preview of what the upcoming year has in store for me. I am so glad that I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things with updating the blog on a weekly basis. I look forward to sharing my life with you in the upcoming months, so I hope you will stick around.

Your turn!

What are you looking forward to the most in 2017?

Can we all agree to never speak of 2016 ever again?

2016: A Lethbridgian Review

I’ve only been blogging on a regular basis for the past four weeks, so it may seem a little silly for me to write a year-end review. But I assure you, it can still be done!

I’m going to fill you in on what I was doing before I came back to the blog in November.

January

2016 was going to be the year I would finally lose weight. Forget the past nine or so years I have been saying it, I was actually going to accomplish it this year — and I did! Most of the kudos belong to my treadmill (for getting me off the couch) and my Fitbit (for helping me track my progress). I still have a little more weight to lose, but I have formed a pretty solid foundation as far as my eating and exercise habits go, so I just need to keep going strong into the new year and I may finally reach my goal in 2017. I can’t wait!

13669225_10157364802780045_2764694697988714404_n

February

For the first time since I don’t know when, I experienced true tranquility when I visited the feature pyramid dedicated to the Year of the Monkey at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton. Something about the sound of trickling water, the feel of cool air on my skin, and the sights and smells of the surrounding plant life made me never want to leave. The sense of calm I experienced actually brought tears to my eyes. After coming home, I knew that I needed to see the garden one last time before it changed over to a different theme, so I dragged my family up for a day trip on the final day. The trip was exhausting but worth it.

20160228_194734599_ios

March

This was my third year dancing in the Ammena Dance Company‘s annual show, An Explosion of World Dance & Music. I chose to be in a circus-themed burlesque piece set to Circus by Britney Spears and Applause by Lady Gaga. I wore a ringmaster’s outfit as my costume, and was thrilled to learn that this piece would open the show. It was A LOT of fun!

(photo credit)

April

This year marked 15 years since I graduated from Catholic Central High School (feeling old, now), and since plans for our 10-year reunion fell through, a group of classmates decided to organize a 15-year reunion at Average Joe’s instead. It was a night of drinks, appetizers, and a lot of catching up. Unfortunately, not many of my high school friends were able to attend, but I enjoyed seeing everyone who could.

May

There is not much to note from May aside from finally being given the go-ahead to move my desk at work to a new area. My new space is larger and has more natural light than my old desk. Plus I get to look out of a huge window every day. Not too shabby!

June

My husband and I got to dress up all fancy and attend a ball to celebrate our 9-year wedding anniversary. We clean up pretty good, eh?

July

For most of the first half of 2016, our daughter was obsessed with the children’s show Peppa Pig. My husband’s cousin tipped me off about a Peppa Pig meet & greet happening at West Edmonton Mall, so we decided to plan a whole trip around it. In addition to waiting an ungodly amount of time to meet and have our picture taken with Peppa Pig, we went to the World Waterpark, Galaxyland, the sea lion show, and observed the marine life at Sea Life Caverns.

August

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to take our daughter to Calaway Park during the August long weekend. Nope, not doing that again. But I felt the need to have her experience a right of passage of almost every child who grows up in southern Alberta. She had a blast, so that’s all that matters. Not the line-ups, or the expensive food, or the heat, or all the walking you have to do, or…

September

Another first that our daughter got to experience this summer was her first ride in an airplane. My sister-in-law was getting married just north of Vernon, B.C., and we decided to skip a lengthy car ride in favour of an hour-long plane ride and a little bit of driving. This was one of our smarter ideas out of all of our summer excursions. I’m happy to report our daughter is a natural flyer who enjoyed every minute up in the air. It was nice to be back in B.C. again too since the last time we were both there was shortly after our wedding in 2007. Beautiful, as always.

October

I took a break from social media in October to focus more on myself. The steady decline in sunlit hours wreaks havoc with my mental health and I was not feeling great. I feel the need to take a break from social media every once in a while so I can recharge my batteries (hello, introvert!) and get away from all of the voices on my various social media feeds. It helps me retain my sanity, really, even though it pisses off my friends and followers when I disappear with no warning. But I think it’s better to go on a hiatus than to constantly post depressing updates.

Your turn!

What have you enjoyed about my blog so far?

What would you like to see more of in 2017?