Donkeys, Dresses, Dinner and Dancing!

OK, so I admit it..I have been a very bad friend to my old school friend, Lauren.

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^^ A photo of us at a party in 2006/2007. Well it is #TBT

She got engaged in December AND asked me to be her bridesmaid, something I was mega excited and happy about. I congratulated them straight away and I couldn’t have been happier for them.

BUT I hadn’t actually seen her since November! See what I mean about being a bad friend! Don’t worry I’m tutting at myself!

We both have lots of excuses as to why we haven’t seen each other in so long though. Lauren is a nurse so works all weird hours, we live a couple of hours apart, I had just moved house, Lauren was looking to move house, it was Christmas, we had holidays. You know what it’s like and the list goes on. However we always make time to message and check in on each other and she is definitely that friend that you can go months without seeing, yet when you meet up it’s like you saw each other yesterday. Those are the best kind of friends and I’m glad to say I have quite a few of those.

I must admit though we haven’t always been the best of friends. When we first met at 13 years old we HATED each other. I don’t even know why. But we were horrible to one another! I mean really horrible! But luckily by the time we got to 6th form (16/17 years old) and were in a few classes together, we seemed to get over our issues, and actually found out we were quite similar and had a lot in common. And the rest as they say is history. At least we have lots to look back on and laugh about now! πŸ™‚

So when we realised it had been 6 months since we had met up and we STILL hadn’t celebrated her engagement properly, we finally got a date in the diary. And so last weekend, Matt and I drove to the New Forest, to visit Lauren and Rich’s new place and to finally share some bubbles!

The drive was long, much longer than it should have been. The satnav decided to take us on a bit of a detour in an attempt for us to miss the motorway traffic, but we always seemed to end up in more traffic. But with the sun shining brightly, music on and a packet of wispa bites to keep us entertained, things could have been worse πŸ˜‰

We finally arrived at their new place 3 hours later! But I only managed a quick hug and hello to Rich before I was getting back in a car to head out bridesmaid dress shopping with Lauren and her other bridesmaid Lucie.

We left the boys behind, having only met once before..in a pub…about 2 years ago. They would be fine, right?

The car journey was a very picturesque one, making our way through the centre of the New Forest. But stupidly I didn’t take a camera and my phone had ran out of battery. So I can only describe it to you. Sunshine, fields and forests that go as far as the eye can see, flowers, cute tiny foals, donkeys, so many horses and lots of children, laughing and having fun. If you haven’t been to the New Forest, you really should. It’s beautiful!

We made it to the dress shop and were let loose πŸ™‚ Lauren is a very chilled Bride to Be and basically let Lucie and I have free reign. We tried on soo many styles and colours. Some we liked, some not so much. But we finally came to a decision on one that we both loved. It fitted us both perfectly and was the colour Lauren had wanted all along. How did we know πŸ˜‰ Unfortunately I can’t say any more. You will just have to wait until December for the wedding! But they are gorgeous.

After all that hard work (we actually managed to do it in about an hour which I think is a miracle!) and to thank Lauren for buying them for us. We thought it was time for some tea…and cake. We crossed the road and actually stumbled across a cafe called Chocol8. Just take a look at this place, how could you resist going in??

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It’s pink, girlie, glam and gorgeous. I was a bit in love. Plus they sold handmade chocolates, fudges and sweets. As well as serving afternoon tea, cakes, sandwiches and smoothies. Perfect.

We ended up staying, gossiping and eating for quite a while. The chairs were too comfy, the cake was too good and we just didn’t want to leave. But we had dinner plans and boys to get back to! So we made our way back through the forest again.

Lucie ended up dropping both Lauren and I off at a local pub, where Matt and Rich had spent most of the afternoon. See we had nothing to worry about. Wimbledon, rugby and beer, we knew they would get on! We chatted about each other’s afternoons and what we had been up to and then looked at the time! Oops.

We rushed back to theirs and then Lauren and I had approximately 10 minutes to get ready before a taxi arrived. I think I’m getting quite good at this rushed getting ready thing, who needs hours? ha πŸ˜‰

Glammed up and ready to go, the 4 of us headed into Southampton for dinner at Grand Cafe.

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The venue, as the same suggests, was pretty grand and I fell in love with the dΓ©cor, a bit like the cafe earlier. Just bigger and better! We were taken to our table by the window and ordered some drinks. Mojitos for Lauren and Matt. A bottle of wine for Rich and I. I guess opposites really do attract ha.

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We were talking so much, that I started to feel a bit sorry for our waiter, who had tried to take our food order about 3 times. But each time we would tell him we hadn’t looked or weren’t ready!

The menu had a good mixture of everything steaks, seafood, vegetarian options etc and we finally decided on 2 sharing boards to start.

The Spicy BBQ, which included ribs, chicken wings, garlic bread, corn on the cob and wedges. Plus the Italian Job, which included Italian meats, mozzarella, olives, plus plenty of breads and dips. There was a lot of food, but we had worked up an appetite and so it all disappeared pretty quickly!

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After the feast, we managed to contain ourselves when the mains arrived and so I managed to get a snap of these!

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^^ The Veggie Burger for Lauren. She’s not a veggie, but sometimes the veggie option is too good to resist!

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^^ A beefburger for Matt

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^^ Ribs for me, because I hadnt had enough with the starter! πŸ˜‰

and finally….

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^^ Rich went caveman and got the ‘Meat on a Stone’ Basically cook your own steak.

The food was good and filling and for once, I couldn’t fit in dessert!! We stayed for a little while longer finishing our drinks and chatting. We had lots to catch up on and I needed to hear about all the wedding plans and of course hear the proposal story again πŸ˜‰

We didn’t even realise the time, it was nearly midnight, so we decided to head to a bar for a couple more drinks. We found a small bar who would let us in, as weirdly most of the places refused us, due to them closing soon. We had no clue where we had ended up and looking around we seemed to be the youngest there! But the music was great, Spice Girls, Gina G, Wigfield! Haha all our old cheesy favourites so we were soon dancing the night away!

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A great day with great friends πŸ™‚ and hopefully we won’t leave it so long next time!

❀

Love, Chloe xxx

Chicago Part 3! Waffles, Walking and Willis Tower!

Matt and I very rarely do set itineraries for our trips away. Sure we make a list of places we would like to visit or that people have recommended but we never make a set plan or day that we must do things. More often than not we will wake up, see what the weather is like and then wait and see where the day takes us and this is exactly what happened on Tuesday…

Having woken up relatively early for a change, we decided to have breakfast out and headed straight back to Wildberry, we had to see what all the fuss was about!

As you can see the weather was still a bit overcast but it had stopped raining yay!

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I love the photo with the yellow taxi in. Matt took this on his I Phone as we were walking along and I just love how it captures everything American, the theatre, the big Chicago sign, the yellow taxi and of course the American Flags. I can still remember the smell of popcorn in the air when I look at this picture πŸ™‚ and that makes me happy!

We made it to Wildberry and there wasn’t a queue hooray!

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Then came the hard decision..waffles or pancakes, waffles or pancakes.

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Waffles won and look how delicious they were! Lots of fresh berries and drizzled with maple syrup, this is what dreams are made of. I love having dessert type food for breakfast, it’s my favourite! πŸ˜‰ Matt went for a Skillet as he wanted to try something different as we don’t really have these in the UK, but I don’t have a picture of this sorry! It was pretty big though and came with a choice of toast or pancakes. Oh and before I forget take a look at the way my English Breakfast tea arrived, I’m loving the hot water filled light bulb!

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After breakfast we decided we would walk to The Arts Institute of Chicago, not realising that we would walk through Millennium Park to get there! It’s so pretty and relaxing and we loved all the sculptures and fountains, so much to take in! Below are some photos of just a few things we passed along the way:

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It was nice just having a leisurely stroll after breakfast and then before we knew it we were at The Arts Institute. We used our City Passes again here, so we got to skip the queues and we got free headset guides included too. Matt and I both enjoy art but we are in no way art buffs so these guides were super helpful.

I really wanted to see American Gothic andΒ A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. So we headed to those first. I didn’t realise just how big A Sunday Afternoon is and it tookΒ George Seurat 3 years to complete! (Painting below)

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We didn’t realise either how many famous artists were displayed at The Arts Institute. Below are just a few of our favourites:

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^^ Claude Monet

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^^ American Gothic by Grant Wood

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^^ Visions of Eternity by Salvador Dali

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^^ Matt liked the black one and I liked the white one, don’t you find it strange that we like the opposite of each other? Unfortunately and very bad of me, I didn’t take down what these we’re called or who they were by, but we really liked them!

After exploring all the different areas of The Arts Institute and discussing which pieces were our favourites and what we would like in our house πŸ˜‰ we decided to head to The Willis Tower. Breakfast was definitely filling as we didn’t even stop for lunch and for once I wasn’t thinking about food!! ha.

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This was one of the things I had added to the ‘list’. For some reason wherever we go in the World I have to visit Madame Tussauds (if there is one) lol lame for some people I know, and I also have to do a skydeck or viewing tower of some sort. I just like being high up and seeing the overall view of the place we are visiting.

So up we went 103 floors to check out the views:

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I love how Chicago has the mixture of the calmness of the lake with the crazy built up city right next door.

But then I spotted it.. the queue for The Ledge, this is what I had really been wanting to do!

The Ledge is a fully enclosed large glass box that extends 4 feet out of the side of the Willis Tower, 103 floors up. You’re meant to see never before seen views of the city..look down if you dare!

Matt isn’t really a fan of heights and so didn’t want to do this, so he sat and waited for me, while I joined the queue. It took a while as so many groups of people wanted to do group photos, single photos, you get the idea. Personally I feel they could run this a bit better with proper roped off queues and maybe staff manning it but I guess it wasn’t too bad a wait.11152686_10155576949460092_4821356471886446434_n

Then it was my turn, the initial step out is weird you really do feel like your about to step off the side of the building, but once that first rush of adrenaline is over you quickly take it all in, it’s a really cool idea and I even managed to take a photo sat down.

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Excitement over, we headed back down to the ground and slowly walked back to the apartment, stopping to pop in a few shops along the way and picking up some snacks and alcohol for the evening, as we had decided to stay in and watch the basketball.

We got back to the apartment and crashed on the sofa together, not realising just how much walking we had done or how long we had been out for! But it was such a good day sightseeing.

That evening we met up with Jason and Christina in the games room of the building. It was nice to just chill after a busy day and fill them in on our adventures. We played pool, we watched the basketball and we ordered in Ribs from Carson’s which were delicious. Why don’t people offer take away ribs here yet?

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Just check out those bibs!

Love, Chloe xx