Sunshine celebrations!

All has been a little on the quiet front from me over the last couple of weeks since my last post. If you read that, you might recall I had a huge exam in London. If I passed it, it would hopefully be my last ever exam – or, at least, my last ever compulsory one! Well, I found out last week that I did indeed pass – a huge relief to know!

The weekend before the results were released was spent in a slightly nervous haze, trying to distract myself from what could, quite easily, be terrible news by visiting my parents and spending time with my mum in sunny Derbyshire. They are lucky to live right on the edge of the Peak District, and so my mum and I went for a sunny, but blustery, walk in the local National Trust Estate at Longshaw. The views of Burbage Edge were lovely, and made me realise again how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful part of the world. We had a walk down to what we always called the Skating Lake when we were little (apparently, once upon a time, the winters used to be cold enough to freeze lakes in the UK!) and were met with rather a lot of very frisky toads, the big warty females giving the puny little males ‘piggy backs’ as one little girl there pointed out! I never knew that whilst frogs lay eggs as frogspawn, toads lay long strings with tiny black eggs all the way along – a little piece of highly useless information that might one day come up trumps in a pub quiz! After our walk, we drove on to Chatsworth Farm Shop Cafe, where we set a trend by sitting outside on the empty terrace, in the sunshine which was doing its best to keep us warm and happy on an early April day. We demolished a cake and a coffee each and sat feeling pretty pleased with our afternoon out.

The following day I was back in Nottingham, meeting old university friends for a quick coffee in the morning, followed by lunch and a catch up with one of my best friends at the Attenbourough Nature Reserve Cafe, feeding the ducks (and trying to avoid the greedy swans) and walking around the lake in beautiful sunshine. It was certainly a good weekend for step counts on my FitBit!

Finally, the good exam news arrived at the end of a long Monday at work, and after my initial elation, I have to admit that I felt a bit of an anti-climax: Monday evening, work for the rest of the week – not a very easy evening to spend celebrating! However, I did decide to have a little experiment with gin and tonic, trying to replicate a cocktail I had had in London on the day of the exam – elderflower gin, tonic, cucumber curls, mint and lime. It tasted pretty good!

Eventually, it was time for the weekend, when finally I could let my hair down and celebrate passing. As luck would have it, it was GORGEOUS weather – warm, sunny, almost cloudless skies. It was as though the weather gods knew that it was a weekend, in the middle of the Easter holidays, and that people wanted to have a good time. On top of that, it was the Grand National – perfect combination! After a champagne brunch, we headed into Nottingham to find a sunny bar, which didn’t prove too difficult as we settled into a table on the terrace of the Slug and Lettuce with our pints of cider. Town was, predictably, heaving, full of people enjoying the weather and enjoying life. Our bets were placed for the Grand National, and when the time came we got very excited cheering on our (multiple) horses. Between the two of us, we managed to back One For Arthur (the winner) and had an each way bet on one of the runners up, earning us almost ¬£100 from our ¬£20 bets. ¬†Unfortunately, none of my horses decided to perform particularly well, but maybe that will teach me for choosing name, or colours, over studying form!

Moving on from the Slug, as the sun started hiding behind the Cornerhouse, we decided to go back to what has now become my favourite bar in Nottingham – Be At One Bar. I’ve previously blogged about how fantastic this place is, and this weekend’s trip there didn’t disappoint – consistently good quality, interesting cocktails with excellent bar staff service. This time, we found some props that had been left by the hen do on our table before us, so had fun pulling silly faces and taking selfies with these. Our drinks tonight were the Cointreau Fizz (Cointreau, fresh passionfruit, lime juice and agave syrup topped with champagne) and frozen peach bellinis (Grey Goose Vodka, peach liqueur, peach juice and prosecco) and, like last time, they were pretty perfect! We even managed to blag ourselves a free cocktail each next time we visit as we filled in a survey with one of the waitresses!

Eventually it was time to leave and to fill our hungry stomachs. We decided to go to the Pieminster restaurant, as we had visited previously and had delicious pies, good sides, and friendly service. The first time I visited, I saw another table having amazing-looking pies delivered to them that I couldn’t see on the menu – so I asked what they were and was told they were a special Groupon deal, called ‘The Mothership’. This was, apparently, any pie on the menu, served on mashed potato and topped with mushy peas, crispy shallots and cheddar cheese, with a boat of pie-specific gravy on the side. This time, the menu had changed to incorporate these mothership pies – so this is what we ordered. They didn’t disappoint, and as you might expect, didn’t last long! They were finished off with desserts of ‘Sticky Toffee Pud’ and ‘Toffee Apple Ice Cream Pie’ – both pretty lovely!

Sunday dawned bright and early, and was an even warmer beautiful day. It didn’t make sense to waste the sunshine, so the weekend was finished off by the first barbecue of the year – the absolute highlight of which had to be the crozzled, blackened, deliciously salty halloumi… Here’s to many more sunny barbecues over the rest of the year, and to lots more warm weather!

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