Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas and New Year round up!

Here's a round up of my Xmas and my thoughts going into the New Year.

First stop Manchester Xmas markets / My favourite pub in the world, The Golden Fleece at Ruleholme, Cumbria-it was unbelievably cosy / Getting my cat fix with Teagan

 One of my favourite people in the world, Sylvia and Mike / My dad! / My mum and dad-love them to bits!

Present from my best friend Danielle / My silly daddy / My gift from Mike-designed by both of us at the jewellers we use in Dubai

Champagne on Christmas Day / Mike's gorgeous Xmas Pudding-we have 3 more in the fridge at home! / My beautiful niece Violet 

My precious niece Lylah-she had grown so much since I last saw her / Auntie Stacey in her gingerbread man pj's, Lylah in her Xmas leggings and Peppa Pig on the iPad / Playing tea parties with our guests the bunny family

Playing dress up / Flying home on the top deck / The bar on the A380

One of our Christmas presents from my mum and dad was dinner at L'Enclume in Cartmel-the number 1 ranked restaurant in the UK by Good Food Guide run by chef Simon Rogan.

We had their 22 course tasting menu and it was the most incredible meal of my life!  I absolutely LOVED everything (and I am quite a fussy eater) and I am already dying to go again.  Here are some of the dishes and that night's menu.  It was incredible.

Sunday 29th December 2013 menu / Valley Venison from Holker Hall / Raw Scallop in elderflower vinegar with caviar 

Thank you so much mum and dad / Part 2 of the menu / Oyster Pebbles

Shrimp Sack / Hot Pot / Chicken dumpling

Milkskin. chesnut, truffle / Meadowsweet with granny apple , sorrel and walnet / Celariac and sweet cheese 'ice cream cones'

I am blessed to have the most amazing parents-they couldn't be more loving and supportive and we were spoiled rotten when we were at home.  I have been an expat for almost 9 years now and this was only the second Xmas we had spent at home so it felt so special-especially as my two nieces are almost 6 and 3 so this time of year is so exciting for them and I was so happy to be a part of it.  

Christmas can be so hard as an expat, I know these days that Skype is amazing for keeping in touch but it's really not the same.  But I do recognise that I have to balance work, Mike's work and also his wishes because he is not really a fan of Christmas like I am.  But I genuinely think he enjoyed Christmas in the UK and he and my mum were in their element Xmas Eve and Xmas Day cooking us up an amazing feast.

I have no doubt we indulged!!  We spent the first weekend with Mike's sister and her family-he has older nephews and nieces than I do so it was lovely to spend time with them and also their gorgeous dog Lola.  We were due to meet one of my best friends Sylvia for lunch at Sharrow Bay in the Lake District on the Monday before Xmas but the weather was SO bad that as we approached Ullswater we were worried we would never get out again as the roads were all flooded and the lake was starting to burst its banks.  So we formulated a plan B and had a lovely afternoon with my god daughters.

Christmas Day was so lovely and relaxed-the format was just as we had grown up with-exactly what I wanted.  I seem to revert to my 16 year old self when I go home, I am so pampered and tend not to lift a finger (naughty me!!).  We opened presents and had Bucks Fizz and bacon rolls for breakfast.  I was spoiled rotten, my mum and dad bought me the Macbook I am typing this post on and a new Kindle and lots of bits including lovely earrings, a box filled with Xmas chocolates (another family tradition), lots of things off my Space NK wishlist and a cat print scarf!  Mike bought me my diamond ring which we designed and had made in Dubai.  I got loads of lovely gifts from my friends-make up and chocolate being the most popular items-they know me so well!!

Boxing Day we had my brother, his wife and my nieces over and Violet and Lylah stayed for a sleepover.  They're at amazing ages now, I absolutely adore them!

Saturday my mum and I had an epic shopping day at the Trafford Centre!  She is the best person ever to go shopping with and we literally shopped til we dropped even though it was absolutely manic in there!!

Sunday, Mike and I we had our truly amazing dinner at L'Enclume.  It was quite expensive and I didn't really know what to expect but I couldn't rave about it more-it was sensational.  It was probably the best quality food I have ever eaten and I think now whenever we go home we will treat ourselves as the menu changes daily depending on the availability and seasonality of the food.

On Monday night we had a great pub meal at our local-the Stagger Inn at Stainton in Cumbria.  If you happen to be reading this and live in the South Lakes area of Cumbria I highly highly recommend it.  Great quality pub food using local ingredients.

I was really sad to leave of course but a new year is always exciting and filled with opportunity.  We chose to fly home on NYE meaning we were actually on the plane when midnight struck (Dubai time).  We were lucky enough to be flying business class (good job as between us we had 88kg of luggage-I reckon at least 70kg of that was my stuff!!) and the Emirates plane we always fly home on has a bar on the upper deck for business and first class passengers so we kind of had our own party in the sky.  The flight wasn't very busy so the crew were all on really good form and we had a giggle or two at the bar.

I took a break from my blog whilst I was in the UK-I posted a couple of pre-written posts but that was it.  I literally didn't have the time or in all honesty the inclination to do anything with it.  I just wanted to relax and be with my family.  2013 was manic-I took over 30 flights,  I worked really hard in my normal job and I really needed that downtime and feel SO much better for it.  I didn't feel as relaxed as I did in the UK for a long time.  2013 was constantly go go go.

A couple of beauty related observations though I did make whilst in the UK.
1-I was so lazy!!  Two days I couldn't even be bothered to take my make up off (hangs head in shame)-and my skin punished me immediately.  As soon as I started properly cleansing again it forgave me!
2-My skin and especially my lips were a lot drier than they are normally-could be purely down to the time of year but I really saw the difference.
3-All my products were a lot stiffer and drier to use as well.  I forget that our apartment during the day is always over 20 degrees even with the air con on.  I guess this affects the texture of my make up but it also makes me wonder if that's why I always seem to have more empties than UK bloggers and go through things quicker.
4-I took FAR too much make up.  I had two large make up bags and one of them I didn't even open the whole time I was there.
5-Not beauty related, but I much prefer dressing for winter than summer.  I love layers, I love jumpers (I bought like 4 in the UK....why???), I love scarves, I love boots.


I get equally as excited and anxious every new year.  Excited at the fresh start and opportunity it offers but also anxious at the unknown.  Apart from Mike losing his mum early December, 2013 turned out to be a pretty good year.  I enjoyed and did well at work-the people I work with are just amazing and it gave me the opportunity to do a second year of frequent travel to Cairo, I treated my mum to a trip to New York for her 60th in March, I attended two of my best friends weddings in the UK in May and had one of my best friends visit us in October.  Plus I got to spend Xmas at home.  My family were happy and healthy and at the end of the day that's all that matters.

I know this is an uber long post so thank you if you've gotten this far.  I am not setting any formal resolutions for 2014-only to say I want to be the best version of me I can be.  Of course I would like to lose some weight, eat healthier and get fitter, I want to be a better friend to my already amazing friends and to be a great daughter, sister and auntie.  I want to work hard (and also this year study hard as I will sit another professional qualification in 2014 which involves studying from this coming Monday until 2nd October) and be successful in my job whilst being a role model in the office.  I want to play a little harder, more fun in 2014!  2013 was fun don't get me wrong but it was almost all work and no play when I look back.  Organisation will be the key-between work, home, studying and blogging.  I know I can do it!!

Here's some words I want to live by in 2014

Finally it would be very remiss of me not to say a massive thank you to every single person who takes the time to read my blog and interact with me.  I hit 500 Bloglovin followers today which is a great start to 2014.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, successful and beautiful 2014



  1. Thanks Isabelle, I am very lucky to have an awesome family xxx

  2. So sorry to hear Mike's mum passed away.. For some reason I read past that, sorry!

    It was fun to follow your Christmas in the UK on Instagram, you clearly have a very loving family! Best wishes to all of you :)

  3. Happy New Year lovely! Looks like you had an awesome Christmas and how lovely for you to spend it at home with your family :) I wish you all the best for 2014 and can't wait to see more of your fab posts throughout the year. xxxx

  4. Hey Stacey, wow, looks like you had a KILLER time this holiday season! I didn't know you only spent 2 Christmas in the UK during the past 9 years! It's really not the same in Dubai I suppose! Glad you had such a lovely family fix. Best of luck with your professional exam and I'd love to read more on the blog when you have the time xx


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