Train to Turkey - Leg 1 - Penzance to London

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We’re on our way! The weather in Cornwall was fantastic, a tropical 25℃ with unspoilt sunshine, it better stay like this across Europe, we’re going to have a mega time if it does. Before we could get going with Leg one we needed a final positioning trip to get to Penzance, we travelled as a four so we could be waved off in proper Cornish fashion, with a G&T! Before we get to that it was time for something new, on the train we had a brand new beer from Padstow, Freddy Has Landed, not a bad beer but not to my taste and was stronger than it needed to be at 6.6, still no complaints. We chased that with a Frog Brothers from Black Flag, a much better beer (in my view). The train was pretty quick, it’s less than an hour down to Penzance and that goes very quickly when you’re passing such stunning views of Cornwall.

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Once we were in Penzance we headed into town for a goodbye meal, the first pub was a let down but we eventually found our way to The Turk’s Head on Chapel Street. Now THIS was a pub, absolutely fantastic line up of cask ales with that real pub feeling. Regretting that we didn’t just come here first we set to work with a perfectly served pint of Bath Ales Prophecy, a wonderful light pale ale which is remarkably similar to St Austell’s Proper Job before it changed. The pub reminded me that I still need to write my scoring matrix, I’m confident this place would have done very well. After a bit of a rushed but perfectly served dinner we headed down to the station and en-route had a quick paddle in the water, as you do.

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When we got to the station the sleeper train was ready and waiting for us, we weren’t mega early so we had to run to the front for the obligatory photo with the engine. We all boarded and jumped into the onboard lounge bar, which was all new since we last took the sleeper. Newer isn’t always better and as lovely as the lounge looked, with sofas and cute little two seater tables the old one was much more comfortable, fun and nostalgic. The old one had tables service too, which sadly is now a thing of the past!

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We shared some lovely Tarquins and tonic and as the train pulled away were officially on our way! A week of trains and travel awaited us (and we were pretty excited about it!). We set to work filling out our Interrail passes, making sure not to mess them up before we’d even got on our way. As the train made it’s way we were spoilt with the most stunning sunset and red sky across Cornwall, not bad at all. At St Austell we waved goodbye to the parents and (now a little worse for wear) I decided to get off and say goodbye, luckily the train wasn’t in a rush!

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Now on our own we headed to our cabin and got ourselves some sleep. I was on the bottom bunk and it didn’t take too long before I was fast asleep which isn’t something that usually happens on the sleeper train! A few bumps in the night but nothing really to report, 7 or so hours after we left Penzance we were woken up to a bang on the door where Jean, our attendant had our breakfast and tea ready. We were in London, easy. This really is the best way to commute between London and Cornwall, while I enjoyed the 4 and a bit hour trip the day earlier waking up and being where you need to be is just fantastic. Long live the sleeper.

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After a quick shake up we were ready to get going, 6:30am and on to Leg number two!

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Thank you, 2018

Readers of the blog will know that 2018 was The Year of Smart, my first attempt at utilising the concept of a yearly theme to help maintain direction and focus on productivity. The good news is it went well..! The theme worked as intended and helped provide overarching guidance and had many good benefits over using a simple list of annual goals as I have done in the past. The theme really helped in providing the space to adjust course and make good decisions as the year progressed; whenever there was a key activity or action the year of smart was always on my mind to provide steer. I even remember Victoria asking me in the car showroom is the new car was in compliance with the year of smart (it was, as far as I was concerned!). There are a number of things that I'm planning on adjusting in 2019 but the good news is the a theme will remain - more on that in another post.

Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle

Back to 2018 and having thought about this a little it’s actually quite difficult to list the outputs, the theme touched on many things, almost providing input behind the scene. Below are some of the more significant areas that the theme had an impact on throughout the year.

  • We made the decision to focus on improving our financial stability. We now have clear budgeting, minimal credit, rainy day money and all our banking in one system. This is big! It certainly took some work to get it to where it is and I'm very happy with how everything sits. The subreddit r/UKPersonalFinance has been a fantastic resource on making improvements, there is a wealth of good UK-Specific advice on finances here.
  • We both made the decision to accept new jobs. Massive! For me it's been a challenging few months acclimatising to a new organisation but since joining I have managed to reduce my levels of stress and no longer feel like work is consuming my existence. I have a great opportunity with plenty of work in the pipeline at Colliers and am looking forward to making change, you can read about my new job here. Victoria also found a new opportunity in her field of work and it settling in well, I'm very excited and incredibly proud of her.
  • A bit if a splurge, but the decision to buy a new car has allowed us to travel to and from Cornwall more efficiently and safely than before. Our trek to the West Country is no longer the arduous journey that it once was and writing this I still can’t quite believe how much of an improvement this has made. Yes, the car is a bit of a shiny toy that goes scary fast but it has a proper purpose (and four doors).
  • Lastly and most importantly, wedding planning took front and centre in 2018 and as I write this post there are only 99 days to go - exciting! Victoria has done an unbelievably good job at organising everything from table decorations to the DJ, she even excelled in managing to find what I can only describe as the most adorable place to stay in all of Medway (which I’ll reveal later in 2019!). She has done such a good job that I have demoted myself to the role of Chairman, only weighing in and approving when necessary... That's not completely true, I have done a little bit of helping, booking the Honeymoon (which was surprisingly difficult) and organising the Singapore Fling Weekend and associated engagement photographs among other duties.

All in all a great and very exciting year. below are some of my un-blogged highlights below..

Network at the National Theatre

Network at The National Theatre

Network at The National Theatre

Our first taste of theatre at The National, this was absolutely incredible. It was a bit of a treat because it wasn't the cheapest of things but Victoria and I enjoyed every moment, so much so that we saw another three productions later in the year (Julie, The Lehman Trilogy and Home, I'm Darling).

Our Singapore Fling

Singapore Botanical Gardens

Singapore Botanical Gardens

This was a bit of a treat... We went to Singapore for a long weekend, stayed again at the beautiful Marina Bay Sands and spent some time enjoying the city. The main purpose of the trip was to get some photographs for our engagement since we were too excited at the time to take any (apart from one photo taken by an oblivious russian tourist). The photos were taken by Alvin and Michelle at Awesome Memories, we absolutely love the pictures and they don't show how INCREDIBLY hot it was at the time!

Lomas’ Stag do in Bournemouth

Bournemouth (this was the only blog-safe photograph)

Bournemouth (this was the only blog-safe photograph)

This was my first proper stag do and having never been to bournemouth before it felt like we had landed in the UK equivalent of Prague - There were stag parties EVERYWHERE. Being a bit of an outsider to the group I soon earned rapport since I was the only person on the bus that bought cold beer, I further excelled by walking head first into a lamp post while trying to be funny. Not a weekend I or any of the others will forget any time soon, I'll save the rest of the details for another time.

James’ Stag do in Nottingham

BrewDog Nottingham

BrewDog Nottingham

Nottingham is a pretty fun city, we visited and drank a lot the year prior ahead of our first Tough Mudder. A weekend of Gin, Golf, Gaming, Gambling, Girls (in hooters) and of course... Gay Pride! We all had a great time and the even got some BrewDog hours in too! The gin caves were a personal highlight.

Fireworks at Medway Yacht Club

Medway Yacht Club

Medway Yacht Club

Not a huge event but it was nice to just be at home and with good company. We had some drinks, food and watched the bonfire and fireworks from the comfort of a bench on the Yacht Club patio. The fireworks were a little more crazy than usual with a few stray ones which added to the excitement!

Christmas in Cornwall

Boscastle, Cornwall

Boscastle, Cornwall

What more do I need to say? We love being in Cornwall, love seeing our family in Cornwall and generally just love everything to do with Cornwall. We had a great time in Charlestown and Harrowbarrow and even got the chance to visit the beautiful Boscastle.

Cornwall, Summer 2018

Another month, another trip to Cornwall! Well, not quite... It has been a long time since we were last down, the summer of 2018 shall be known for two things, 1. Being very hot and 2. Having many weddings. As a result of number 2 we haven't been in Cornwall quite as much as we would like but we found a window in early August and seized the opportunity. This trip was also the maiden voyage of the Audi - and oh my! What a difference it makes. We're riding in business class now!!

The Rising Sun, Tamar Valley, Gunnislake, Cornwall

The Rising Sun, Tamar Valley, Gunnislake, Cornwall

The Rising Sun in Gunnislake has to be one of the most lovely pubs in Cornwall.. And I don't throw that title around willy nilly. It ticks all of my crcuial 'Proper British Pub' requirements:

  1. Be in a remote, resonably inaccessible place
  2. Be Cosy and Inviting
  3. Be Rustic and 'Weathered' (Read: old and a bit tatty)
  4. Have that weird but somehow lovely pub smell (I'm sure you know what I mean)
  5. Have live music with local talent
  6. Serve good, proper pub food (pies, fish and chips, etc)
  7. Have the toilets located in an outside building
  8. Have a resident patron (who is always there)
  9. Be a Freehouse (not part of a brewery chain)
  10. Most importantly of all: Serve amazing, local, Cask Ale

I will certainly update this post if I do find a better Cornish pub, but for now it takes the crown. Just look at that view, who needs a coastline when you've got that??

My Mother and I, The Longstore, Charlestown, Cornwall

My Mother and I, The Longstore, Charlestown, Cornwall

On the other end of the 'lovely' spectrum is one of my most favourite resturants, The Longstore, Charlestown. Rustic and quaint is it not, but food here is simple and delicious, the service is fantastic and the atmostphere is exactly what it should be. It is always on my list of places to eat when in Cornwall and I pray for Oysters to be on the specials board.

Despite Kelly and my Mother's busy schedule running Mr Small's we managed to find time over the weekend for dinner and of course, wine.

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That's my beer, not his. After a long morning Owen and I thought we'd take our non-union-mandated break from Mr Small's. In contrast to the previous two reviews I absolutely do NOT recommend going to the Rann Wartha Wetherspoons in St Austell. Not only is exactly like every other Wetherspoons in the UK, it's possibly the dreariest example I can think of. The place has nothing good going for it except cheap beer and well, cheap beer = bad beer (I still drank it though). Go elsewhere!

April 2017 - The Missing Blogs

April was a reasonably quiet month, Victoria and I began to welcome the warmer weather in our still relatively new home, and we managed to continue the trend of visiting Cornwall as often as possible!

After moving into our home, it was quite apparent that the decking in the back garden needed to be sorted quite early on. The deck had somehow developed an uneven shape that led to it being bouncy in places while also being incredibly slippery when wet. With a little planning, we agreed to buy the necessary materials and re-install it. Doing so, was no small feat and it needed several family members assistance to rip out the old and lay the new. Blood, sweat and tears went into building the new decking, but as I write this ten months later, I'm pleased to say it still stands strong.

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Topes has become a bit of a birthday tradition for us and well, who's surprised...? The food is as good as it gets. Always a complete treat we had a fantastic birthday meal and enjoyed dressing up for the occasion.

No longer was our birthday over before we were back on the road to Cornwall, the weather by this time had certainly improved, and Kelly and I agreed it was about time to pull the boat out and get it wet. We spent the day messing around Fowey and took the dinghy all the way up to Golant, further up river than we'd taken the boat before.

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Getting up close and personal to the Lifeboat is, of course, something that can't be avoided... Fowey has a beautiful Trent class lifeboat.

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As most will know, I am not a football fan, but an upcoming game with local Devon team Plymouth Argyle was not one to miss. They ended the match with a promotion to League 1 for 2017-18 and a 6-1 win over Newport. Oh, and there was a pitch invasion! Here's the BBC report.

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To close out the month and in preparation for Egypt later in the year, I took my PADI Nitrox course with Southern Scuba. A surprisingly easy certification I would recommend to anyone.