24 January 2016

Happy New Year! & A Wake Up Swim

3...2...1...Happy New Year!

Ok so it's slightly belated but Happy New Year! We're now well into the start of the year, the holidays feel so long ago, but meeting up with friends the chat is still turning to how was your Christmas/New Year/Winter Solstice? Dan, my long-term man friend, and I are one click away from booking our next trip soon as we decide where to go! There's so many places I want to visit, but we might be going to New York (sooooooo excited) to visit our friend Louie (featured topless later in the post) this year so we're going to have to make some harsh choices about where else we go away in 2016. Decisions, decisions. Currently we're toying with the idea of going to either Berlin, Amsterdam or Copenhagen (help me make a choice, which one has the best bakeries?! Jokes but no jokes). But seriously planning holidays is hard, the dream is to visit them all eventually but which one first?!

Anyway, New Year normally calls for a bunch of resolutions that we all know I'm not going to keep and then I'll feel the pressure building up towards September because I know I haven't done that thing that I said I'd do this year (this is normally always learning to drive, oh no! You know my secret, I'm in my twenties and I can't drive, the shame! Where's that woman with the bell from Game of Thrones when you need her!). Which is why I never make New Year's resolutions. If I want to eat healthier or learn to drive/knit/sing my name backwards I'll do it but if I pressurise myself into it, it's just going to go one way or more accurately won't happen at all. That's right, this girl does not respond to peer pressure, even if the peer is herself...wait, that makes no sense (on with the post!).

Moving on, I don't make New Year's resolutions but I do make plans. And this year my first plan of 2016 was to get some friends down to Broadstairs for New Year and do the New Year's Day swim off Viking Bay. I'm going to get it out of the way and say it was bloody freezing. Definitely worse coming out of the sea than being in it, however, it also has to be the best way to get rid of a hangover. Honestly, we all felt amazing afterwards, don't know if it was the adrenaline, cold or the copious amounts of Bailey's coffee drunk afterwards but it worked a treat, leaving us open to going to the pub afterwards...It's safe to safe we did not repeat the swim on the 2nd January, but it probably would have helped a couple of us.

Anyway before New Year's Eve, our friends Alex and Louie came down for a bit of sea air, plenty of pub trips and some wintery walks round the beaches of Broadstairs. My family are Swiss, so New Year's Eve is the big celebration in our calendar where we all sit round, eat fondue, drink and submit ourselves to various stupid forfeits when your dipping fodder of choice falls in the fondue pot. In order to make room for fondue we set off on a walk round the bays from Broadstairs to Ramsgate in search of shells and a birthday breakfast for my mum's boyfriend at the Royal Harbour Brasserie in Ramsgate, while my mum was working.

It was a gorgeous day but pretty misty walking round the bays, so there are not any beautiful sea views in this post I'm afraid, but there is a photo of a cat, some posy shots of me (and one of me getting soaked when the tide came in) and a shot of me, Alex, Dan, Louie and my mum in our swimsuits so get excited for those photos. This is Class A entertainment.

Of course Louie is not featured in many of these photos, because he is the slowest walker known to man and was having a John Mayer moment sitting on a rock watching the sea and composing a poem (this last bit may be a lie), similarly Dan and my mum's boyfriend were miles ahead so are also not featured (they don't appreciate shell collecting like me and Alex do). We also found a jellyfish so that took up a lot of our time trying to put it back into the water (we're animal activists first and foremost). So if you're reading this and wondering why there are zero photos of anyone else...that's why. On to some photos of Alex and a cat on a bench.

Playing the classic game of chicken with the sea, you're always dicing with the possibility that your heeled boots will get stuck in the sand and you will get soaked. Excluded from this set of photos is the moment I then face planted the sand as Alex continued snapping photos. We also both managed to drop our glasses into the sea at several points during the walk (the hazards of being a shell collector). I wouldn't say the reason why we're friends is because we're both super clumsy but it's definitely bought us closer together. That and showering together after swimming in the sea.

 After several more photos and nagging Louie to get off the rock. We arrived in Ramsgate and headed down the harbour arm to the restaurant on the pier, The Royal Harbour Brasserie. I love this restaurant, we've been going there since we came over to the UK and it's changed hands a few times but the people that have got it now have nailed it. Inside it's all quirky with pews from churches as benches and plush red and leather seats, paper mache fish hanging from the ceiling (its cool not tacky) and lots of exposed wood. On a non-misty day you can see right out to sea and also have a great view of the town and how it's built up into the cliff. The food is simple British plates with a focus on seafood, and for me the best time to go is for breakfast. 

Absolutely starving we ordered a round of hot chocolates (complete with enough marshmallows to put you in a sugar coma for life) and of course a couple of beers (it was the holidays, I don't just drink everyday...), some Kentish English breakfasts, a Swedish hash with chorizo, bacon, sausage and onions, and I went for the duck egg with brown shrimps in shrimpy butter on toast. We've got so many great suppliers in Kent, there are some amazing butchers and growers so we're pretty spoilt eating out. I always go for the duck egg with brown shrimp. It is soooooo good and something you don't get everywhere else. I'm having a craving for that shrimp butter right now. This is torture. Just look at that yolk! 

After drinking and eating something close to our fill (there's always room for cheese). We picked up some cheese and bits for fondue at the local deli, and headed back to Broadstairs via the coolest place ever; The Petticoat Lane Emporium

The Petticoat Lane Emporium has to be on your list of things to do if you're visiting Thanet, there's so many great things going on down there but if you're looking for some vintage furnishings/clothes on the cheap head there. It's full of different corner stands with all sorts of things from the bizarre (stuffed mini deer anyone?) to the wonderful (all of the enamel kitchenware). It's an instagrammers dream and if you like rummaging round London markets you should put this place down on your holiday list. There's also a cafe upstairs you know if you want some cake, which of course everyone does. Hardly anyone was around so we roamed the stalls looking for gems, there was some gorgeous bits of 70s furniture which I fell in love with then had to be torn away from (it would never fit in our current flat). Definitely check it out if you're into your vintage wear/ware. Margate's Old Town also has some great shops to look around but this place felt a lot more affordable. Alex bought a leather doctor's bag for £15. While I bought one of several enamel baking trays I wanted.

After walking round the emporium it was back to ours for cheese, followed by Jurassic Park, followed by fondue, followed by watching the fireworks from the harbour in Broadstairs with champers as my mum, in place of the traditional Swiss cowbells, rang in the New Year with a pair of saucepan lids....port, more cheese and finally bed came while we awaited the inevitable. 

The New Years Day Swim.

Here are my tips to surviving the New Years Day Swim:

1) Make sure you go with people that have stronger wills than you, so when you threaten to pull out they stop you. 

2) Wrap the biggest towel you have round a hot water bottle and a flask of Bailey's Coffee (this saves lives).

3) Wear flipflops. 

4) Turn on the heating in your house before you leave. 

5) Eat plenty of cheese before hand, you will need these calories. Also make sure there is cheese ready for afterwards. Preferably croissants and ham as well. Better yet, if anyone's not swimming get them to make you breakfast on your return.

6) Call dibs on the shower before you go in the sea. 

If you follow these golden rules you'll live a long and healthy life, and have a successful New Year's Swim. Now for the photos you've all been waiting for. Beware of our assorted wobbly bits/cheese stores. Do it once and be the legend that swam in the sea on New Year's Day. The swim in Broadstairs is organised by the Neptune pub for charity so it's all for a good cause!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a cracking holiday. I'm so excited for this year. Can't wait to get another holiday booked in the diary, we're leaning towards Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but if anyone has any recommendations drop me a comment below. Do you have any funny New Year stories/traditions? We're thinking of making the New Year's Swim a yearly thing, will have to persuade Louie to fly back from New York although maybe we can do it there in the Hudson River...maybe not if it's anything like the Thames! I've never been to America so am excited to visit soon, salivating about all the pizza and bbq joints. Bring on the meat! Also donuts...did you know the guy that made the original cronut place is opening a bakery here in London this year! I literally cannot contain myself. I love me a cronut. It's a food trend I am not sad about (let's be honest there's not many that I would be sad about...maybe a tofu trend). Anyway enough chat about cronuts, I'm going to eat one, or something, it's probably going to be cheese. Got to keep those reserves I am Swiss.

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