Sunday, 6 January 2013

Exciting end to 2012 and a warm welcome to 2013

So the festivities are over; today we have pt our decorations away. We try to do it traditionally on 6th: according to tradition, it is unlucky to leave decorations up in the home beyond the end of the festive season, marked by Twelfth Night, and that anyone who forgets to take them down must leave them in place all year to avoid misfortune.

However Twelfth Night is the night before Epiphany, the day when the wise men arrived to give their gifts to the baby Jesus. Some people therefore leave their decorations up and even give gifts for Epiphany.

Anyway our house is now back to being 'normal' with what feels like a little more space. That is until our lovable Ruby came home from the kennels - she is a rescue dog with 'issues' so for the later part of the festivities she went to her second home Witherley Kennels. She has settled there well which is a relief for us when we go away.

The end of 2012 was an exciting new adventure for us - we went to Liverpool by train. This is unusual as we prefer the car but London Midland and Virgin Trains were offering some great deals, it's only one change, and no M6 motorway, so we decided to give it a go. Both journeys were relaxing and stress free; no overcrowding, trains on time both departing and arriving.

We stayed at Hampton by Hilton which is next to Albert Dock. A new build modern hotel with a minimalistic look. A very comfortable bedroom but with an intriguing wardrobe door - sliding from being the wardrobe door to the bathroom door depending on it's position. The floor length mirror opposite gave some unexpected views of the bathroom at times.


 Liverpool was amazing - our first amazement was the amount of chewing gum on the almost invisible pavement. We managed to do so much in just two days:

The Cavern Club

Yellow Duckmarine Tour
 
Tate Liverpool
Liverpool One
Liverpool's skyline is filled with an array or architecture from ancient to ultra modern. The Three Graces were stunning in the morning sunlight with the Liver Building being the most dominant.

Three Graces
Liverpool is not short of a bar or restaurant either - the top level of Liverpool One is the perfect dining setting - it certainly doesn't feel like you have a shopping centre below. We enjoyed meals at  Red Hot and Cafe Rouge; drinks at Bierkeller but our best visit was to All Bar One where we discovered the most wonderful shiraz Little Yerling Shiraz 2008; a £20 New Year treat .


An exciting time and 2012 was not yet over - Party at the Pub The Abbey Nuneaton helped us see in the New Year. Being as our son is a bartender there we joined them for our final tipple in 2012. Or should I say tipples as we certainly saw the New Year in in style - starting slowly with a fabulous bottle of Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc and finishing with a smooth Southern Comfort (I'm not divulging the inbetweens)

Our start to 2013 included a very successful wine and cheese evening with friends. The varieties we tried were:

Cheese:
Cheddar  -  Cornish Brie  -  Wensleydale with cranberries  -  Gorgonzola  -  Emmental 
Marmite cheese  -  Ovejo (spanish)  -  Goats cheese  -  Cheshire 
 
White Wine:
Cheverny  -  Touraine Sauvignon Blanc
 
Red Wine:
Sainsbury's Malbec  -   Ca'Lunghetta Merlot  -  Yellow Tails Shiraz

We didn't try matching so much as trying new - and work the following day lead to reserve sampling. A thoroughly enjoyable evening that I am sure will be repeated.

Finally our last 'hello' to 2013 was a goodbye as our daughter returned to Glamorgan University. We decided to make it a short break and took grandparents to see where she was. They were very happy to see she had settled well and thought the accommodation very modern and clean - something wrong there for student digs!

We stayed at the Parkway Hotel, one of the Best Western chain. Its tucked away from the main Cardiff hussle and is a little like visiting an elderly relative where everything is done proper and laid out. We booked their £99 dinner, bed and breakfast deal which included a delicious four course carvery.

The following morning we all visited Cardiff Bay - a reasonably new development with bars, restaurants and an impressive Pierhead. The Doctor Who Experience  had many excited visitors rushing in and the barrage walk was filled with families; dogs, bike, prams, scooters, walking sticks. The area is a perfect family place. We had lunch at Cafe Rouge - using our 40% off voucher from dining in 2012.

Cardiff Bay
So a busy end to 2012 and quite a busy start to 2013 - January is looking good too with a bit of a french theme !