I CHANGED ADDRESS!

Blog address that is, of course!

The change of real address is coming later this month for the Brit and meūüėČ

So yes – today is the day! I’m so excited for you to go to the new blog and see it and hopefully you will like it and follow along on this new journey!

Please simply click the picture below to be taken to the new address! xx

AV

“Wine is Bottled Poetry,” or, Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch

Happy Travel Tuesday!

I posted a version of this post back in June on Claire’s blog, Somewhere… beyond the sea. And well, we are exactly at this point of my trip in South Africa right now, so I thought why not give you the walk through the wine farms I visited in the Western Cape!ūüôā

After some wonderful time spent in Cape Town, we had the amazing opportunity to go house-sitting for one of T’s¬†friend who lives on a vineyard in Stellenbosch, the heart of the Cape Winelands.

I mean look at this view? It’s pretty unbelievable!

view from hillcrest

We were both on vacations, so we took the opportunity to really enjoy ourselves and go for lots of tastings! We ended up going to 8 different farms in the surroundings! And I’m pretty sure we only grazed the surface.¬†There really is something for everyone out there!

tasting room of tokara

On one day we went to grab tea and dessert at La Motte, on another lovely day out we had a lunch at the Hillcrest Berry farm and tasted goat’s cheese at the Fairview Cheesery. On one of our last days in Stellenbosch, we also had lunch at Tokara and visited the Waterford Estate. All wonderful memories! Gosh, so much to tell and not enough time, I’m afraid!

On today‚Äôs post I wanted to share my two favourite tasting experiences with you – and if it isn’t enough do let me know¬†;)

ALL-ROUND FAVOURITE: SPICE ROUTE

A friend of T had recommended Spice Route because she said the prices were affordable and there was something for everyone. So it was actually our first outing of the week and perhaps the most diverse and interesting!

spice route

We started with the chocolate and wine tasting and it was great! The generous portions of chocolate were from everywhere in the world and paired perfectly with South African wines. If you’ve never wine tasted before they will let you know exactly how to get the best out of the experience. It’s pretty basic and delicious! Step 1: taste the wine. Step 2: take a bite of chocolate Step 3: take a sip of the wine again. The experience really shows you how different the wine can be when paired with food.

spice route wine

Afterwards, we adventured ourselves in the rest of the property. They have pretty much everything you might want to get your teeth into! In addition to the wine tasting, you could taste the traditional biltong – a cured meat that resembles jerky and you can taste Ostrich, beef or game meat. You could taste their beer and visit their brewery. And you could even go stuff your face with more chocolate at their roastery! I really liked this whole experience because there was a bit of everything and we definitely spent a lot of time there!

spice route choco

 Spice Route, Paarl. ZAR 75, per person. (approx.. £4)

 CHAMPAGNE TASTING: JC LEROUX

When T told me that they did a sparkling wine tasting, I was so excited! When I learned it could be paired with marshmallows, my excitement level went through the roof! On October 31st, instead of celebrating Halloween (which, I was told, isn’t really a thing in SA anyways) we headed to JC LeRoux for some bubbly.

JC Leroux

The whole experience was superb! We waited patiently in a fully hot pink room (which I loved!) for the server to set up our booth and lay out our champagne flutes and pairings.

M&M tasting

There were 5 different wines and three of them were paired with marshmallows and the last two with meringues. I can’t describe how amazing this all tasted. My sugar levels were probably through the roof! Usually at tastings, you don’t drink the WHOLE thing, but I drank every last bit of bubbly that was in front of me. How could I waste such delicious wine!

me with bubbly

JC LeRoux , Stellenbosch. ZAR 60, per person. (approx. £3.5)

That week in Stellenbosch was definitely a highlight of my trip! We had so much fun and I loved that we were able to treat ourselves to some delicious treats like these, while discovering the surroundings.

Have you ever done a wine tasting?xx

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traveltuesday

Linking up with the lovely Bonnie, Courtney, Cynthia & Yalanda.

English Christmas + Scottish Hogmanay

Happy Monday!

The holidays were such a busy period for me Рlots of travelling (through the UK) and lots of friends and family reunion! You might have caught glimpses on Twitter or Instagram or even through hints in previous posts. While we might be well into the first week of January now, I thought that I would do a roundup of how my holidays went. My first real holidays living away from home (as the last two years I did make it home for the holiday period).

english christmas

We went down to England to spend the holidays with the Brit’s family and I have to say that the prospect of being away from home for the holidays had been weighing on me since I moved here. In retrospect, it was hard, but I felt so welcome and had lots of fun!

We went down with the Brit’s best friend who was driving back home on the 20th. It was a lovely drive down to England but we were all exhausted by the time we arrived in the Midlands.

The next day, we all went out to spend the afternoon in Ashby-de-la-Zouch (yes that is the real name and yes I giggle every time I say it out loud). Photos will probably be coming later on the blog, but the castle was super cute and so was the town!

On the Monday and Tuesday, I was in London having a blast with a fellow Canadian who attended St Andrews and we walked aimlessly around London both amazed that we have made it back to the UK! Yay expats!

Then Christmas came and it was lovely! A nice exchange of gifts and a pretty amazing dinner! I also tasted Christmas pudding!! What a weird tradition – I don’t think I like things with sultanas in them so much, but hey, it was a true British Christmas! We even watched the Christmas episode of Doctor Who after dinner!

I was pretty happy that the gifts I bought to my family made it there on time and we even opened presents on Skype! My mother had taken care of sending some packages weeks in advance knowing I would be going to England and not get anything that would arrive in Scotland. So we had Christmas stockings directly from Canada and cute little gifts! There is nothing more that could warm my heart!

And the Brit offered me some¬†amazing things (on top of making me feel at home while I spent Christmas abroad)¬†– 100 points to Hufflepuff seriously! Oh and he offered me a ukulele, which I’ve been talking about for nearly a year! He started teaching me to play guitars last year and I was terrible and didn’t really like it. But the ukulele is just so cute and tiny and easier. I’m working hard on¬†about two songs – which might be my entire repertoire, knowing my musical talentsūüėČ

I obviously offered myself some nice books too – because books! I bought Mindy Kaling’s Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? And I loved it by the way. Great read if you love Kaling’s humour! I also bought a book on screenwriting and a book recommended by Waterstones,¬†The Rabbit Back Literature Society. I also bought the Brit the new Malcolm Gladwell book and I might borrow it soon. I’m looking forward to all these great reads!

scottish hogmanay

After Christmas, the days went by fast and by Saturday we were planning our return to Scotland. Sadly the Brit’s bff was ill and couldn’t drive up so we decided to take the train last minute (which was a weekend of hell for the rail network!). A friend (the same Canadian friend from London) was coming to stay with us for Hogmanay as well so we all headed back up to Scotland on the 28th.

So I have this thing about New Year’s Eve – it’s overrated. Period. I think when you try really hard to make new year’s memorable it will always be below your expectations, so you will always be disappointed. So for the last few years, I have tried not to plan too much or to care too much. I go out, I try to be with family or friends and enjoy myself. That is all that matters to me!

And that way, this year far exceeded my expectations!

Since my Canadian friend was there, we made poutine together as our last meal of 2014. We then started pre-drinking as we chatted until 8-9pm (yes we pre-drink early here). Then got ready to go to a friend’s house party. I didn’t expect much from it but it was such a blast! There was dancing, singing, drinking, and general merriment. We also ended up playing¬†a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity.

At around 11:30 we decided that we had to go watch the fireworks that were being fired¬†from both Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill. So at midnight we screamed and kissed and watched in awe as the coordinated fireworks lit the sky. And when it was done, we all sang Auld Lang Syne. But it happens that where we were wasn’t the most fun because as our group sang people walked away, silently judging us for being drunk on New Year’s Eve. But even though no one sang along with us, it was nonetheless hilarious and a great moment I will keep as one¬†of my best New Year’s memories!

We went back to the flat and partied on for another 3 hours of dancing, singing and drinking. Definitely a night of fun and happiness to remember!

2015-01-01 00.08.08

I think the only way you can really succeed at spending the holidays abroad is to have an amazing group of people around you! So thank you to everyone who made these holidays special.

That’s my secret! What’s yours?xx

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Reflections on 2014 + Aspirations for 2015

It’s that time of the year when we are all recapping the last year and looking forward to the new year that has just started. One chapter just closed and one just opened. Hence why I thought that today I would share reflections on 2014 and aspirations for 2015!

looking back

Let me start by saying that 2013 was a great year. It took me through 8 countries, I lived abroad on my own, met the amazing Mr. TTIACF, started amazing friendships overseas, finished writing a dissertation I am so proud of and graduated from one of the top universities in this country. It’s a year that I look back on with much fondness.

Then 2014 came along – and it was a tough one. Definitely a year that I am very happy to leave behind.

It was a year of long distance Рwith friends and the boyfriend. A year of missing people and places so much it physically hurt. It was a year of deep anxiety. A year full of uncertainties and pressures thanks to visa issues, moving issues, starting to pay back my loans issues, trying to find a job issues, etc.

However, 2014 was also full of victories! This year I am proud of myself because:

— I grew closer to my parents —
—¬†Completely cleaned up my life in Canada —
—¬†Became more confident as a person and woman —
—¬†Reunited with friends and realised that time apart doesn’t change true friendship —
—¬†Moved abroad. Again! And survived. Again! —
—¬†Moved in with the Brit —
—¬†I got¬†a job! —
—¬†I visited 5-6 new places this year —
— I founded this blog and kept with it! —

The small and big victories really make me happy when I look back on them. The concept of the reverse bucket list is dear to me because it always means looking back only to the awesome things I have accomplished instead of feeling sad about the difficult things I have encountered.


looking forward

As for 2015 – well I pride myself on not having new year’s resolutions – but I will say that I do have goals. Every 1st January marks a new chapter starting and always wish to accomplish a few things in that new year.

Finish the first draft of my book.

As you all know, I’ve been working on a book inspired by my experience in St Andrews. I wrote nearly 50k words this summer but have since hit a bit of a writer’s block. I would love to be able to finish the first draft this year.

Design and relaunch my blog.

This one is coming very very soon. I purchased hosting services and a new domain and will be redesigning with the help of a friend and hoping it will all be live before the end of the month. It’s very exciting and I hope most of you will follow me in this new endeavour.

Visit at least 5 new places.

They say you should always aspire to see new places. This year they were all very local – whether in Canada or in the UK. I’m hoping to keep that going so I can discover more of this wonderful adoptive country. But I’m also hoping to be able to hop around Europe a lot more as well!

Visit home again.

I don’t really need to explain this one. I’m hoping to spend a few weeks home next summer! My parents are already excited!

Reunite with my person.

I haven’t seen my person since we had a tearful goodbye after our graduation from St Andrews. We are constantly talking on Facebook, Skype, Whatsapp, etc. but I miss her so bad and I hope 2015 brings us a reunion!

Reunite with a best friend from Australia.

I met this lovely Aussie girl back in 2008 when we were both working for the athletics department of our undergrad uni. After our graduation in June 2011, she moved back home and I haven’t seen her since. We’ve been talking and we’re hoping to arrange a reunion sometimes in the spring. So exciting to be reuniting 4 years later!

Bake/Cook more.

The more I blog and the more I visit restaurants – the more I get interested by food. In the recent years I have started to bake quite a lot and have become obsessed with the show Masterchef Australia. The more I settle in with the Brit too, and the more I want to become a baking goddess and try new things. I’m hoping to widen my set of skills in the new year.

Read at least 36 books.

I started this challenge on Goodreads a bit late last year and made it only to 26/30 books (although to be fair I did reread HP 4-5-6-7 with the Brit over the year, so technically I did make itūüėČ ). But pushing myself to read more this year with this challenge really gave me the taste for reading for fun again. I enjoy checking books off my list so much too! So I’m setting myself up with 3 books a month/ 36 books for the year 2015.

Put myself out there (i.e. auditions + selling my skills).

This is one of my 30 before 30 goals. I think I’ve become increasingly better at dealing with rejection and being told no – and although it still hurts, I think it’s a necessary evil. If I never go to audition or if I never pitch my blog to companies then I will never know. All you gotta lose is a little time – but again the personal growth will 100% make this time¬†spent¬†worth it.


Yesterday, Melyssa of The Nectar Collective wrote that 2014 had been a year of learning and was excited for 2015, to be a year of blossoming. Well this truly fits for me as well and even though 2014 was a rough year, it laid the foundation for 2015, which will for sure be a good one!

What are your aspirations for 2015?xx

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Third Month in Scotland by the Numbers

Happy New Year!

My my time does fly! I can’t believe that this first of January marks my third¬†month in Scotland! December was another busy month. Full of work, full of reunions and fun meet ups, full of road trips and full of celebrations! While I wasn’t able to go home for the holidays, it was still so much fun to spend it in England/Scotland with the Brit. December definitely ended the year 2014 on a very good note and I am very happy to be recapping it for you today!

third month

One afternoon spent walking in the snow!

woke up to Arthur's seat under a layer of snow #Edinburgh #snow #snowday #arthursseat

A photo posted by Camila (@caminioca) on

7 days working at the Christmas market.

12 red velvet cupcakes baked and then devoured!

Multiple visits to Stirling for job/flat meetings.

3 castles visited (+ 1 failed attempt).castles

1 flat secured! (More on that later).

THE best sushi I have ever had!best sushi

30 minutes walk to the lovely Portobello beach.

Visit of the National Scottish Portrait Gallery.portrait

5h drive down from Edinburgh to England.drive england

1 reunion with a long lost Canadian friend.

2 days in London.london

My second Christmas with the Brit.

Second snow of the season!second snow

5-6 chaotic hours on the train back up to Scotland.

287 steps climbed to the top of the Scott Monument.

up scott monument

1 New Year’s celebration!new year's eve

 Hope your December was as lovely as mine and wish you all a happy new year!xx

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You can always catch up on my other months:

First Month in Scotland by the Numbers
Second Month in Scotland by the Numbers