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The rest of the holiday

St Albans, Farnham and Hemel Hempstead


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Edit from January 2019: Fleetville Emporium was demolished in 2016 or 2017, and Dolce Italia on St Peter's Street closed down and became a charity shop at around the same time. Little Marrakesh and the Meating Room are both still going strong though!

We've managed to fit a lot into the last few days!

On New Year's Eve we woke up to heavy frost;

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Dave and I then went to see my Nana, who is unfortunately laid up at the moment with a broken ankle she suffered on Christmas Day.

In the evening Dave and I were thinking about going into London to see the fireworks, but decided against it in the end because it was cold and wet, we were too tired and we felt more like relaxing at home with Mum and Kate and watching the fireworks on TV instead.

On New Year's Day we had a big family gathering and exchanged presents, things we had deliberately not done on Christmas Day this year.

Yesterday was also eventful. The first thing Dave and I did was go back to the church to pay our wedding deposit, give back the filled-in legal document and have our IDs checked. Then we met up with Mum at Dolce Italia café, where we had a hot drink and a cake and I managed to knock my tall glass of hot chocolate off the table into my lap. Thank goodness I was wearing black trousers!

On our way home Dave and I stopped off at the Fleetville Emporium, a large place filled with antiques, vintage clothing, secondhand books, records and lots more. Every time I go there, it's extended itself a bit more. Dave bought some shoe lasts, but I didn't get anything. I did however buy some delicious rum balls from Simmon's nearby.

That evening we went out for dinner at Little Marrakesh, one of my all-time favourite restaurants anywhere in the world. I love everything about this place - the decor, atmosphere, food and service! We shared the Moroccan Mezze as a starter; hummous, tabbouleh, saffron-marinated sautéed potato and carrot chunks, chopped beetroot, filo prawns, a red pepper mixture and crushed grilled aubergine. Then I had grilled swordfish with Moroccan rice and Dave had a tagine, though I've forgotten what kind. The food was as delicious as ever.

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We thought about going into The Boot for a drink afterwards, but it looked too crowded for us, so we gave a miss.

Speaking of food, for lunch today we met up with Emma and Mark at The Meating Room, a fantastic new gourmet burger restaurant in St Albans city centre. This is another place I would recommend to all visitors. The burgers all have local names; I had a St Peter's, their version of a cheeseburger, with a lovely, thick, juicy patty. The burgers all come with amazing rosemary salted chips. I found out that our waitress was from Romania, but had worked with Bulgarians in Romania so had picked up some words from them; I tried out the word for 'thank you' (blagodariya) on her and she understood me, or at least was kind enough to say she did.

Dave left for Manchester late afternoon. After that, Mum and I went to Hemel Hempstead to have dinner at Kate & Andrew's. Special mention to the delicious bread & butter pudding!

Back in St Albans, at about 11pm I'm getting a train to Gatwick for my early-morning flight back to Bulgaria.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:43 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom christmas sisters dave mum st_albans st_peter's_church hemel_hempstead farnham british_cuisine Comments (0)

Goodbye St Albans - Bulgaria tomorrow!

St Albans, Hatfield and Hemel Hempstead


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I've been saying my goodbyes gradually over the last few days in preparation for my departure to Bulgaria tomorrow for my new teaching contract for the coming academic year.

I went to Asda in Hatfield on Wednesday morning to buy some trainers and casual trousers, neither of which they had (apart from jeans). I did get to speak to some friends who work there, though, which was nice. Then that evening I went down to the rugby club and caught up with some people there.

Yesterday Dave and I went into St Albans city centre, had lunch at the Meating Room (a gem of a burger place which had been highly recommended to me) and stopped at the cemetery on our way home in order say hello and goodbye to Dad. We went out again in the evening to have a drink and game or two of pool at The Crown.

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Earlier today we went to Hemel Hempstead for a birthday barbecue at Kate & Andrew's.

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Dave has now left for Manchester as he has work tomorrow. My flight leaves Gatwick at 6.35 am so I'm not going to go to bed tonight - I can't risk sleeping through my alarm! I'm getting a train in the middle of the night. My first time flying with Ryanair - hopefully it will go OK!

I've been given instructions for what to do on arrival in Sofia. I'll need to go to a specific taxi company desk at the airport, get a taxi to the main bus station and then a bus from there to Veliko Tarnovo. I know how much the ticket should cost and how long the journey should be.

Posted by 3Traveller 07:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dad dave mum hatfield st_albans hemel_hempstead Comments (0)

Back to Ecuador soon

Hemel Hempstead and St Albans


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Yesterday I said goodbye to Dave, who had to drive back to Manchester. It was really hard for both of us. At least when I get back to Ecuador I can start enquiring about time off - Dave is going to fly out and visit me for three weeks, hopefully in June. We're hoping to go to the Galápagos Islands and a few other places we haven't been to before...

Something else to look forward to, but in a much shorter term, is Mum coming to Ecuador next month! She's decided to visit me during UK half term. I can't wait!

Emma, Mark, Dave and I went to Kate and Andrew's for dinner last Saturday. Venison stew and rice pudding were on the menu so who was I to refuse such an invitation? :-D

Company was great, as ever, and the food was delicious. Venison stew with dumplings served with peas and mashed potato with sautéed onion mixed in, with rice pudding afterwards and some clementines later on. We'd had some deliciously sweet, crisp, juicy red grapes beforehand. We played a board game about Britain after dinner, but I've forgotten its name.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:53 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dave mum st_albans hemel_hempstead british_cuisine Comments (0)

Old Hemel

Hemel Hempstead


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Dave and I visited Kate and Andrew in Hemel Hempstead this morning. First of all we admired all the decorating they'd done over the last few months and then we walked into town through Old Hemel. I took one or two photos. I think it's a shame that the new town doesn't look as nice as the old; even though it isn't historic, it could still look a lot better without all the concrete!

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I got my hair cut at a place Kate had recommended to me because they do all kinds of things for only £9.90. When you arrive in the UK after having lived in a cheap country like Ecuador for months, a £9.90 haircut is definitely less of a shock to the system than the typical UK £25-30! They didn't blow-dry or straighten it but the cut was just as good as any I've had done in more expensive places.

After that I bought some black shoes to wear at Dad's funeral tomorrow and then take back to Ecuador for work. After getting some lunch from a pasty shop, Kate got me and herself some black gloves to wear tomorrow.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:21 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dad dave hemel_hempstead Comments (0)

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