Category Archives: bruce

Escaping in Cornwall at The Headlands Hotel

springtime in cornwall roadtrip from sussex




The weather cooled down during our second day in Cornwall – a not completely unexpected change from the astoundingly good weather on Friday. It wasn’t raining though, and that’s always good enough around here. After a seriously good breakfast at the breakfast buffet at The Headland Hotel, we went for a long walk along the coast and ended up having a little picnic lunch on a cliff looking out to sea.

breakfast at the headland hotel buffet

We have the most amazing picnic bag and it’s really upped our game this spring so far – it’s got plates and silverware and little wine glasses, plus a heat protected wine carryon on one side and a roll up fleece blanket that is also rainproof on the other side. And it just looks like a regular backpack! It’s amazing. (We got ours at Next for 25 bucks, weirdly, but I’m sure this sort of thing exists in other places, if you are so inclined to look. I’m here to aid you in all your picnicking needs!).






We also managed to book in for my first afternoon tea that same afternoon. I’ve had many a cream tea (mostly in Derbyshire the first summer I ever came to England when we went on holiday with Jon’s family to the Peak District), but had never actually gotten around to doing afternoon or high tea, so we took advantage of the fact that the hotel does a good one (and even did some really nice gluten-free ones for Jon). The main thing separating cream tea from afternoon tea is that cream tea is a hot drink with scones, clotted cream and jam, while afternoon tea has the whole shebang piled high on a tiered tray, with finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones. The more you know. Now that I’ve actually experienced both, I think I’d just stick with cream tea – the scones are the life of the party anyway!

afternoon tea at the headland hotel

There was a fair amount of laying around in the room during the weekend too, mostly to apologize every time we had to leave Bruce for awhile. The hotel is dog friendly and there were so many dogs when we were there – it was so dreamy! Just fancy English people and their dogs, all over the place. They left a little welcome pack for Bruce when we checked into the room, and a big blanket to put on the bed for him, which was a nice touch.


Jon and I were pretty nervous about leaving him in the room and having him whine and cry and drive everyone crazy while we were out. Dog-friendliness aside, a few parts of the hotel aren’t open to pups, including the main restaurant where we had breakfast each morning (and where tea was served), so he had to be left alone at least a little bit. And if he couldn’t handle it, we were going to have to switch off eating, one staying in the room, one going out, which would have been dumb and put a real damper on the weekend. But he was cool with it and seemed to just sleep while we were out. Plus there was an angry chihuahua staying in the room next door that was much more badly behaved, so I feel like we won the weekend. Is that how parents of humans feel? If the kids nearby are badly behaved jerks it makes you feel better about your own?



On Sunday the weather picked back up again and the sunshine was glorious. We took another morning walk in the opposite direction out to Little Fistral Beach, then made our way back, had some lunch and dropped Bruce off in the room once again before renting some stand up paddleboards and heading out on to the open water, decked out in the sexiest of full wetsuits and booties. They make such a difference, and there were so many people out on the water, despite the fact that it was freezing cold. I really loved that about Cornwall – it didn’t matter what the weather was, people were in the water, on the water and by the water. It was like a chillier version of Southern California, with a really outdoorsy vibe everywhere. The SoCal of England!







I spoke about it in my newsletter last week, but going out on the Atlantic Ocean on a SUP, versus the winding river that I’m used to at home, was terrifying and exhilarating. I was certain I was going to be dragged out to sea, where I would just have to live on my board forever like Buddy the Elf on his ice floe, except I wouldn’t wind up in New York, I would just….die. But we didn’t die! We paddled along the coast going in and out of various coves, stopping to enjoy the sun on the beaches and even climbing some rocky outlays to explore and jump in, aided by some very adventurous little kids with serious skills and no lack of courageous genes.






The Headland Hotel itself was gorgeous. It sits imperiously on the coast, looking equally parts majestic and terrifying. It’s been redone since The Witches was filmed there nearly 30 years ago, but it’s still very much an iconic Victorian hotel. It felt very old English – the rooms were still large and the ceilings were high, unlike more contemporary hotels. And there were lots of antique bits that made it feel very much a part of the landscape.

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We had one fancy dinner on our last night at the hotel’s traditional restaurant. Three courses of locally sourced Cornish deliciousness, and a really nice bottle of wine in a room with sea views, timed to watch the sunset. Perfect. This was my Christmas present after all, so a nice meal was very appreciated. Thanks Jon!





The next morning we got up and gathered our things and said farewell to the Headland. Bruce was pumped to get back on the road, but he’s really excited for anything to happen, ever. Low expectations with this one.

restaurant at the headland hotel

I hope we get to go back sometime. It seems like the most magical place to be on a stormy winter’s night, the waves crashing on the cliffs below. Spooky and Victorian, just the way I like it.


Emerging from hibernation

Whether or not it’s been connected to the dreary winter, I have withdrawn into myself these past few months and can feel myself unfolding as the days lengthen and the sun peeps out and as the winds grow warmer and warmer. I have been writing, but not online, or at least not personally and online. But things are changing, spring is coming, and my social calendar is starting to fill up again, which is nice after the dearth of events while everyone hibernates after the Christmas and new year holiday season.  It’s time to start living again. If my phone is to be believed, the last several months have mostly been spent taking pictures of Bruce with a selfie every few weeks just to prove I still exist. Also, the odd vintage fair, pub lunch,  and doggy play group. But it will be nice to start doing more, soon. So much more! Fare thee well winter. No one will miss you.

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Our first Christmas in Shoreham

Merry Christmas from the positively balmy climes of Shoreham-by-Sea on the day after Christmas! It barely went below 50F yesterday, so it was not a white christmas, whatsoever. But this was the first holiday season in our flat, and it was also spent on our own, so it had a lot of good going on. Today, Boxing Day, we’ll be heading up to see the Norris family and spending time with in-laws, toddlers, and at least one octogenarian, so don’t worry, we aren’t completely escaping the grasp of holiday family time.
Christmas Eve we abided by tradition, opening a single gift (Jon got me corn socks, what a gent) and watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, which is sadly not a holiday staple in this country. But the live action one with Jim Carrey gets annual tv airing? Ugh, seriously England. Taste. Get some.
Christmas Day we slept late, and Jon took Bruce for a walk-where, in life imitating art, he was yelled at by a drunken neighbor from a few floors up, chilling on his balcony with a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, who shouted down “Boy! What day is it?”, to which Jon replied, in true Dickensian fashion “Why, it’s Christmas Day sir!” and then they both laughed and Jon carried on.
While all THAT was happening, I was making cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, and smoked salmon. And starting on the mimosas. And that’s how the day went! We eventually opened some gifts, ate more food, drank more drinks, watched movies, and even had a visit from some friends, which was unexpected and joyful. And while I wouldn’t want to spend every Christmas this way-I feel like skipping the rigors of family time is cheating, somehow-it was a good break from the usual travel, cooking, forced banter, whispered fights in rooms of inlaws sort of thing that seems to happen this time of year. And we got to choose what holiday stuff we watched all day instead of begrudgingly watching whatever the old people and/or small children choose, but since we watched-in order-White Christmas, Arthur Christmas, Shrek the Halls, and Downton Abbey, I’m not sure if I fit more in with the children or the old folks….maybe somewhere in the middle? Anyway. Ho ho ho and all that.
Bruce has a gift for you. He’s been watching you all year.

Christmas Bruce


This was going to be our Christmas card, but we went with something else. But Merry Christmas from the (not as angry as we look) Sheets-Norris household nonetheless!

a wasp christmas 2014

No, but really, our Christmas day looked more like all of this. Much less waspy, I think.

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Christmas Masquerade

Writing is often an act of vulnerability. The way that I often choose to write makes me feel exposed and vulnerable and open to the eyes of anyone who may be wandering by. But writing is an act that has always made me feel most myself, most at home and strongest, and I am my best self when I am writing. So. Hello! I took a time out! But I’m here! Let’s see where that takes us.

Last February, in the cold and rainy season, Jon and I bought our flat. This means we’ve been in the midst of spending our first holiday season in our home. (Home! Our home! I revel in that word. It feels good, and we are the luckiest pair of assholes around).  We put up our tree last Monday, and would have done so earlier on the very first day of December, except for Jon was struck down with illness all of last week, poor thing.  So Monday we put on Christmas records, poured some prosecco, put Bruce in his finest Santa outfit, and pulled the tree out from the closet for it’s inaugural putting up in our living room. I like to go for surround sound events, so a Christmas move was also on tv. But since Jon picked out the movie, it was Die Hard. But it was on mute. Anyway…..

Shoreham Christmas Tree 2014

Dog in Santa Costume

christmas vinyl ashley sheets

Christmas Vinyl



Sheets Norris Christmas 2014


santa bruce

reindeer headband tree decorating with BruceFirst Christmas in ShorehamOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbruce putting angel on the tree

I apologize for my inability to focus the camera in these pictures. I blame the low light and the prosecco.

On Saturday I put on my snazziest red dress, Jon dusted off his tux, and we went to his work’s Christmas Masquerade in our finest mystery masks. Do love a themed party! The fete took place in some massive teepees set up on the Brighton seafront, Tardis-like in their ability to hold so much more on the inside than they look like they can contain from the outside. There were twinkly lights and a dance floor, rockin’ fire breathers and a table wandering magician during dinner who surprisingly wasn’t awkward, and instead blew our minds with his conjuring. We ate and drank and danced (well, I danced, with the ladies Jon works with, many of whom are in my book club. And with my coworker, who was also there because Jon’s business is one of our clients, so we were invited. Small world, Brighton). And it was so much fun! I remember as a kid seeing movies where the parents went off to Christmas parties all decked out in fancy clothes for an evening of grown up fun, leaving the children at home in their pajamas with a nanny in the wings. My parents never did that, at least not that I can remember (there was definitely never a nanny), and the fact that I get to put on a twirly dress and heels and do my hair and makeup and actually have somewhere to go with all of that now is so surreal to me, if I stop to think about it. Although Bruce needs no nanny, so that’s good for me.

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Of course this also gives me the opportunity to really glam up, which I super duper enjoy and should probably write about sometime. The power of a red lip is nothing to sneer at.

One work party down, the house is decorated and it’s only the tenth of the month. The Christmas season is well on its way, and it may actually be the jolliest one yet. What a difference a year makes!

Brighton has a dog cafe

Turns out Brighton has a dog cafe now with the best name ever-Chubby Chops Cafe. Chubby freakin chops cafe, how cute is that?! And the resident dogs there are named George and Bonnie and they are grumpy faced and adorable and make weird noises with their smashed faces when they get excited. Bruce was his usual anti-social self, but the trio had a good time together regardless.

It all reminded me of the Dog Cafe Jon and I went to in Seoul when we first started dating. There were a lot more dogs there-I hope Chubby Chops grows too, because I am so down for a truly dog friendly place that isn’t a pub. Not that I don’t love pubs, but it’s a lot easier when the furry ones can run around and play and skid around and you don’t have to worry about someone accidentally letting them outside.

I had a pink lemonade (they say it’s homemade and if it is, well done them), Jon had a berry smoothie and some cake because that son of a b is always eating cake, and it was all good. Solid Sunday afternoon with some dogs, and we shall definitely return. If you have a dog and live in/around Brighton, you should go too-the staff are really super nice, and at least half the people there didn’t have dogs, so it’s no big deal if you don’t have any pups. They are in the Lanes, right by that weird mermaid fountain!

Oh, and the other best part of last weekend? (obviously the dog cafe was the main best part) Seeing a working Dalek outside the Mini Maker Faire at the Dome. Well, not working working, it didn’t incinerate anyone. But it said “exterminate!” a lot and chased kids around of its own volition, so that was pretty great. daleks in brighton

And last thing-Jon was struck down with a change of seasons cold at the end of last week, as you get, so while I worked from home on Friday he drugged himself up and slept on the couch next to me, and this was my view.

Doctor Bruce, always on call.


a year with Bruce

It’s no secret that I am obsessed and delighted by my dog. The internet tells no lies! Bruce is, without a doubt, one of, if not the very best thing in my life. Sorry husband and family and friends (or, I say sorry, but I know at least Jon feels the same, so I take it back as far as he is concerned).

We brought Bruce home from Raystede Sanctuary one year ago today. I don’t know what we’d do without him, but I love love love that furry little man with his cute face and weird noises. Happy birthday Bruce Bruce. You light up my life.