An English Thanksgiving | Trying to Stay Positive

28 November 2014

This is my second Thanksgiving abroad. Although I hate not being able to see my family this holiday season, I am quite excited to continue my own traditions. This past year in the UK has been wonderful and I'm glad I get to share this special holiday with the friends who have been there for me through my crazy adventures.

I am thankful for the amazing opportunities that have been presented to me here in England. Having said that, it's hard to stay positive during this difficult time in my life right now. If you've noticed my recent absence/withdrawal from the blogging world, there is a reason. I'm going through some major difficulties in trying to stay in the UK. Ever since the completion of my Masters program I have been putting all my time and effort into finding a job to switch over from a student visa to a working visa. Anytime not spent looking for work is spent at my part-time job so that I can pay the bills. I wish it was as easy as applying for a job or two, getting an interview, and then landing a job. It's not. Visa requirements restrict the kinds of jobs I can apply for and no company wants to sponsor an expat with visa expiry date fast approaching. 

I love the life I have made for myself here in England. I want nothing more than to stay, start a career, and be with the person I love. But if things continue to go the way they are I'll be moving back to the states come January 24th. Kicking and screaming of course. Although my life is an 'open blog' I've been hesitant about posting my recent visa problems. Let's face it, it's not exactly a topic most people would want to read about. But the reality is I have less than two months to find a job or go home. And trust me when I say I am trying. 

So this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for the time I have been blessed with here in England. Whether I have two months left or two years, I am glad I did pick up and move to a country where I knew absolutely no one. 

Happy Thanksgiving y'all. 

Wells Cathedral Round 2 | Wells, England

26 November 2014

 I visited Wells Cathedral for the first time about this time last year. My last visit to Wells Cathedral was to transcribe medieval manuscripts. Because it was a class trip, I didn't bring my camera. Fail, right? This time I was prepared. Easily my favorite cathedral EVER, Wells Cathedral was the first Gothic cathedral built in England. I won't bore you with too many details as I've written a post about this cathedral before, but I just HAD to share these pictures!

A 3 pound donation is required to take pictures inside the cathedral which is used for the upkeep of this amazing building. Well worth it since the actual admission to the cathedral is free!

Happy Wednesday!

All the Cheese | Cheddar, England

23 November 2014

Elle and I visited Cheddar to see Cheddar Gorge on our Somerset day trip, however almost immediately after arriving our main focus became cheese. All the cheese. You can't blame us, can you?

Cheddar is obviously famous for being the home of cheddar cheese. Originally, cheddar could only be considered real cheddar if it was made within 30 miles of Wells Cathedral. As far back as the 12th century cheddar cheese was only made from the cows grazing near Cheddar Village. The caves in Cheddar Gorge allowed for the cheese to be stored at the perfect temperature and humidity, giving the village of Cheddar an advantage in cheese making. Today however, cheddar cheese is made around the world. Only one cheddar cheese producer still exists in Cheddar Village.

A trip to Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company was a must. Just small building a few minutes away from the gorge, the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is easy to miss. However, inside is heaven. With over 20 free cheese samples and a small area to see the production of the cheese, it's definitely worth a visit! Let's just say I left Cheddar happy and FULL.

Happy Sunday!

A Day In London By Numbers

20 November 2014

9 hours
2 trains
4 tube stations
1 rain shower
2 museums
3 coffees
2 Instagrams
16 phone photos
1 book purchase
888,246 poppies (being removed)
Countless Christmas Trees

Happy Thursday!

Cheddar Gorge

18 November 2014

Cheddar Gorge has been on my list of places to go since I first moved to England. The only reason I hadn't made the trip out to the gorge was it is quite complicated to get to if you don't have a car. Since Elle and I were making a trip to Glastonbury via bus, we decided why not try and get to Cheddar Gorge as well! After waiting around for a bus that supposedly went straight from Glastonbury to Cheddar, we were told by a local that no such bus existed. Awesome. So we took a bus from Glastonbury to Wells, then Wells to Cheddar. Confused yet? We were. Once we made it to Cheddar however, all our annoyances disappeared.
The village: Charming.
The gorge: Uh-maz-ing.

Cheddar Gorge is Britain's largest gorge at 450 feet high. Although tickets for the site almost 19 pounds, each pass allows you access to two caves, a lookout tower, a three mile gorge walk, and an open bus top tour. Because there is so much to see, each ticket is valid for 10 years! 10 YEARS! Anything you don't get to see on your first trip you can come back and do.

On this particular visit, it was cold and rainy, so  Elle and I opted to do Gough's Cave and Jacob's Lookout Tower only, saving the rest of our tickets for a possible revisit in the summer. Gough's Cave, complete with a rather hilarious audio guide, was absolutely stunning. We even managed to get a glimpse of Cheddar Man, Britain's oldest complete human skeleton! After a walk underground, we made the brave decision to climb the 274 steps up to the lookout tower. Believe me, it's no walk in the park, but the view from the top is absolutely amazing! We even managed to catch a little bit of sun!
Cheddar has easily become one of my favorite places in all of England. Although we braved it during the winter, I highly suggest a trip during the summer!

Happy Tuesday!

Winter Skincare Routine | Lush

14 November 2014

And just like that, Fall seems to have disappeared and Winter is fast approaching! This will be my second winter in England and it’s already obvious my skin hasn’t adjusted to harsh English winters. If your skin is anything like mine it likes a skincare routine that mixes things up on a regular basis. Using a single product daily doesn’t cut it, I have to have at least a couple different cleansers on hand at all times. My routine is constantly changing, which is always a problem when trying to stay budget friendly. My solution? Lush.

I had heard about Lush through the blogging community a few years ago, so I when I did finally move to England I was thrilled to see there was a store in Bristol. Fresh handmade products that use zero animal testing? I’m all over that. Over the past year the Bristol Lush team has helped me through any sort of skin crisis. The beauty about Lush is the variety of products offered in every store. With an ever-constant changing routine it’s nice to be able to have a wide variety of cleansers and moisturizes on hand at all times. After a little help from the lovely team at Lush Bristol, I thought I’d share a review of my more recent finds perfect for winter!
Buche De Noel | Face & Body Cleanser
One sniff of Buche De Noel and you know it’s Christmastime. Using ingredients such as almonds, cranberries, cocoa butter, and even brandy, Buche De Noel is not too harsh on the skin. It's the perfect winter scrub!

Imperialis | Facial Moisturizer
Imperialis is a moisturizer that can make any type of skin happy. Usually my main complaint with moisturizers is how heavy they are on my skin. Imperialis is by far the lightest most effective moisturizer I’ve ever owned. Not to mention, the natural scent of lavender and orange isn’t too overpowering, it’s just right.

Ultrabland | Facial Cleanser
The team at Lush Bristol are notorious for talking me into products that are a little out of my comfort zone. Yet every product recommended exceeds all my expectations. Ultrabland is no exception. As a cream cleanser, you massage gently onto your skin before wiping off with a warm damp cloth. I had never used a cream cleanser before but I’ve found it to be that extra boost my skin needs in my nighttime cleansing routine. Plus the almond and honey scent is to die for!

Let the Good Times Roll | Face & Body Cleanser
Let’s face it; I’m going to buy anything that smells like popcorn and cinnamon! Let the Good Times Roll smells good enough to eat! As one of Lush’s more smooth scrubs, it’s the perfect soft exfoliate and cleanser wrapped into one. By far my favorite winter product!

So White | Shower Gel
So White smells exactly like you think it would: crisp apples! I’m very picky when it comes to shower gels, but So White has instantly become a favorite of mine. I had to get a second bottle within a couple of weeks I went through it so quickly!

Hot Toddy | Shower Gel
By far my favorite Christmas scent at Lush (and that’s saying a lot), Hot Toddy is the perfect shower gel before an evening out. Smelling of Christmas spices, Hot Toddy has just the slightest shimmer to it leaving your body looking oh so lovely!

Pearl | Massage Bar
Massage bars are still a strange concept for me. I admit, I prefer lotion to a massage bar for daily use. However, Pearl is one of those “pamper day” luxuries. A mix of rose and argon oil, Pearl provides that deep moisturizer needed for your body during winter.
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Happy Friday!

The Search for King Arthur | Glastonbury, England

12 November 2014

Elle and I are kindred spirits. Both from the Houston area, both Texas Tech graduates, both now living in Bristol, England. So when I found out I was going to have the weekend off I knew she would be up for a couple days of traveling. We spent hours trying to pick out our destination, but because it was so last minute most places we all booked up! Because of this, we decided to stay slightly local and explore Bristol's surroundings areas. Our first stop: Glastonbury.

Glastonbury is often only discussed today in relation to the famous Glastonbury Festival, held every June. However, the town itself has a unique history to offer. For example, historians have been able to trace Glastonbury's origins to the Iron Age, some 4,000 years ago! It was also the site of Edmund II's coronation in 1016 and even the rumored location of King Arthur grave.
The association of King Arthur and Glastonbury dates back to the 1190s. The legend of King Arthur itself had been firmly established by that time with Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. Most likely, the monks of Glastonbury Abbey created a story about finding King Arthur's grave to bring the abbey extra revenue. However, the 800 year old myth is still told today as there is little evidence to suggest either for or against it!
Elle and I arrived in Glastonbury on a cold but sunny day. I was excited to see the legendary abbey and the rumored grave of King Arthur. We found the abbey easy enough (the entire town is practically built around it) and explored the 36 acre site for only 5 pounds! The peaceful site is home to the abbey, a few ponds, and a remarkable view of Glastonbury Tor. However, the clouds started rolling in and soon enough we were looking for Arthur's grave in the cold winter rain. The sites of Arthur's grave and tomb were marked clearly, but don't be surprised that Arthur really isn't there. His remains were lost during the Reformation! After a few snaps, it was time for a cup of tea at The Looking Glass Cafe before heading to our next stop. 

Happy Wednesday!