I gotta cut loose, footloose!

Thursday was a pretty momentous day in this here little flat of ours. Why you ask? Because Andrew finally agreed to watch Footloose!

Footloose is one of my absolute favourite films! And I've been determined for him to watch it since we started our classics binge a few months ago. I was able to use my birthday to get him to watch Dirty Dancing, as he kept quoting "Nobody puts Baby in the corner" to everything, without ever actually seeing the film. Now I'm not sure he necessarily liked either of the films but he didn't hate them so that's something!

Doesn't this song just make every bone in your body want to dance? It's such an uplifting song that I will never tire of hearing!

Wedding: Our Cake Toppers

One thing we knew we didn't want when planning our wedding was a big multi-tiered wedding cake - despite our parents best efforts to persuade us otherwise. We both had our hearts set on a cake table instead, something reminiscent of a village fete with all sorts of cakes for our guests to choose from.

Despite our objections to the traditional wedding cake centre piece, I did have my heart set on some personalised cake toppers, something we could keep to remind us of the day.
I'd seen these wooden doll cake toppers around on Pinterest and thought they'd be perfect, and in keeping with the slightly homemade theme we had in mind. A week after we booked our wedding I ordered some from an Etsy store in America. They were one of the first things I bought for the wedding, though I didn't actually do anything with them until a week before the big day.
I wanted to keep them simple, if only to make my life easier, and was very pleased with how they turned out. To paint them all you need is basic acrylic paint and a selection of different size brushes. I then sprayed mine with acrylic sealant to finish.

As well as the wooden dolls I also made some last minute mini bunting to put on top of one of the cakes, to match the bunting I had made for the room. For this I used cheap knitting needles that I found in Tiger, strung some string between them & used Manx tartan ribbon to make the flags.
We were over the moon with how our vision of a cake table came together, but more on that later!

As we arrived at the reception venue our Mums were both huddled around the cake table secretly prepping the one that they had decided we would cut, and as you can see, they kind of got their way & turned it in to a more traditional-looking wedding cake with ribbons & decorations. Mums, eh? What are you gonna do?! :-)

The London Sea Life Aquarium

After we stepped off the London Eye and had our feet firmly back on the ground, we ventured over to the London Sea Life Aquarium. On my 26 before 26 list I included "Visit an aquarium" as this is something I have only ever done once & as it was a very long time ago (on a year 6 school trip to Scarborough in fact), I really wanted to go again!
Thanks to the combination ticket we purchased we were able to bypass the long queues and head straight in. As expected it was super busy and at the start it felt very overcrowded, though luckily the crowds dissipated as we went further in.
The aquarium was dark and atmospheric, with the calming sound of water being occasionally interrupted by loud shouts of enjoyment from small children. They would ooh & ahhh at the sharks, while asking their parents all manner of questions. Their excitement was infectious!
As well as the sharks we also saw lots of beautiful tropical fish, including some of the cast of Finding Nemo. There were Clown fishes (Nemo & Marlin) & Royal Blue Tang fishes (Dory), Banded Cleaner Shrimp (Jacques), Moorish Idol fishes (Gill), Long-spine Blowfishes (Bloat), Yello Tang fishes (Bubbles) & Pacific Green Sea Turtles (Crush). Duuuuude! Sadly there were no Squirts. Baby turtles would have been amazing!
This little guy (Bloat), was definitely posing for this picture. I think he even smiled a little bit!
The penguin exhibit kinda bummed me out. There was a huge crowd of people gathered in front of this small window and inside was a small group of penguins huddled in a corner, except for this one guy. He would walk (waddle) over to the window where he would dive in to the water, swim to the other end, jump out and repeat. It was like he'd been brainwashed & it made me so sad that these beautiful creatures were kept inside in such a sucky environment.
It was fascinating to see some of natures creatures that you wouldn't normally see. The way the giant turtle and stingrays glided in the water was mesmerising. Obviously we went home & watched Finding Nemo afterwards. It's the logical step after a day looking at fish.

The London Eye

A few weeks ago we took advantage of a long weekend for a day of playing tourist in this city we call home. Andrew had never been on the London Eye before, and I fancied visiting the Sea Life Aquarium (two things on my 26 before 26 list), so we purchased a combination ticket and headed to the South Bank for the day...
First up, was the London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK. It was opened by Tony Blair on 31st December 1999 and is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.
We were very lucky with the weather for our visit, however you can see in these pictures that there was a bit of a haze over London, which slightly reduced how far we could see.
September 2011
May 2013
I've been lucky enough to go on the London Eye a few times, experiencing the ever changing landscape from 443 feet up. Above is a picture I took in September 2011, a couple of months after I moved to London. You can see how much things have changed in just the last 2 and a half years: the Shard was about half way finished, the Walkie Talkie didn't exist yet and, the one I am most sad about, the iconic Gherkin hadn't yet been wiped from the London skyline by the Cheesegrater (the Leadenhall building).
Despite the haze it's incredible how much you can see from the top of the London Eye; on a really clear day you can see for 25 miles! Some of the highlights are: Buckingham Palace, the Horse Guards Parade, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, the Barbican towers, Battersea Power Station, and the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, peaking out amongst a crowd of roof tops. As well as all the skyscrapers - old and new.
The total rotation on the London Eye takes 30 minutes, and moves at 26cm per second. This allows passengers to step on & off the pods (there are 32 in total) without the wheel having to stop.
Just like the Eiffel Tower before it, the Millennium Wheel was only intended as a temporary structure and was initially only given 5 years planning permission. But 14 years later it is still there and very much an iconic structure in London, with 3,500,000 people visiting it every year!

Read: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

"May the odds be ever in your favor"

For a long time I was adamant that I wouldn't read The Hunger Games trilogy. The whole thing felt like a bit of a craze and I didn't want to feel like I was joining a fan club. But then last August we finally watched the first film. It was marketed as "Young Adult Science Fiction", a genre I had no interest in and thus had no visions of liking it all that much... but oh how wrong I was. I ended up really enjoying it and couldn't wait for the next film (yes please, more Jennifer Lawrence). But before doing so I thought I'd give the books a read.

I was drawn in by the shiny ones of course - hello magpie tendencies - and after a month of the first (very shiny gold) one sitting on my shelf, I finally took the plunge. And plunge I did! I became completely engrossed in it. I read it whenever I could - before work, during lunch, after work, before bed, on the train, waiting for Andrew. I already knew the outcome from the film, but the book was (obviously) so much better! I even shamelessly fell a little bit for Peeta... I finished the first book in under a week - something I hadn't done in a long time - and rushed out to buy the second one.
Whilst reading Catching Fire I'll admit that I started to become a tiny bit obsessed (and fell a little bit more for that boy with the bread). I watched the first film again - twice in one week! And although I'd never planned to join any fan clubs, I had inevitably become a fan. Not the type of fan that frequents forums, writes fan fiction and buys a Mockingjay pin (well, I wont completely rule that one out because who doesn't love a good brooch?!), but the kind where you happily watch the films a few more times and wait patiently for the next. And that's ok. I think...

As with the first book, I finished the second in under a week, and the third, Mockingjay, in even less time. In just over two weeks I'd read the whole trilogy and it felt refreshing to have been so eager to read again! I often struggled to put the book down, or leave it be for too long, and I just kept thinking "but what happens next?!" -  I had to know!

If you haven't already read The Hunger Games trilogy I highly recommend giving it a go. Who knows, maybe you'll end up enjoying it too!

D.C: The United States Capitol and the National Air & Space Museum

We awoke early on the Monday morning & rushed across Manhattan to Penn(sylvania) Station for the next leg of our journey - an Amtrak train to Washington, D.C., home of the President!
After a 3 hour train journey we arrived in to Union Station and a quiet and grey Washington. There was a threat of rain on the horizon but it felt very peaceful, with hardly a soul around ('cause they were all busy working hard in big important government jobs, obviously!). We stepped out on to Columbus Circle, where a replica of the Liberty Bell, a bicentennial gift from the American Legion, sits surrounded by the 50 flags of the U.S. states.
From the station we headed to the United States Capitol, the meeting place of the US Congress that sits at the top of Capitol Hill. It is magnificently huge & aside from the White House, is the best known symbol of D.C. Every 4 years the Capitol plays host to the presidential inauguration, with Thomas Jefferson (the 3rd President of the United States) being the first in 1801.
After the Capitol we set off to find somewhere to eat, and wandered past the Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress - the second largest library in the world by number of items catalogued. The library is housed in four buildings in Washington and the Thomas Jefferson building is the oldest. In front of the building, and pictured above, is The Court of Neptune - a bronze fountain that features the King of the Sea & his sons.
After a late lunch we walked in the rain to The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, one that we both fancied visiting. D.C. has a great wealth of museums & galleries, with 17 of the 19 Smithsonian museums based there. Each building is huge - as you would expect in the States, and all the ones in Washington have free admission.
We saw some incredible items on display, such as The Spirit of St. Louis (top picture), the single engine & single seat monoplane that was flown by Charles Lindbergh on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927 and the Wright Flyer, built by the Wright brothers in 1903 and was the first successful powered aircraft.
One exhibit I was really excited to see was the Amelia Earhart one. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean & an incredible woman! The plane on display is her Lockheed Vega 5B, a single engine plane she intended to fly to Paris from Newfoundland in 1932. Due to mechanical problems she instead landed in Northern Ireland after a 14 hours 56 minutes flight.
Sadly most of The Smithsonian museums close at 5.30pm for most of the year, so our visit was slightly rushed, but we managed to take in quite a lot before heading to our accommodation, where our hosts kindly invited us to join their dinner party - a perfect end to our first day in Washington!