A weekend in the windy city {Dublin}

I know, I know, okay? When people refer to the ‘windy city’, they mean Chicago. But when we visited Dublin last month, Ireland’s capital made a very serious case for claiming the title. It also drizzled very lightly the entire time. It is not an exaggeration to say that even when it was sunny it was drizzling. But despite the adverse weather conditions and the almost knife fight which we witnessed outside a pub (I wish I was joking) we had a lovely time.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the north of Ireland – it’s where my mum is from – but very little in the South (the Republic). But one thing that all of Ireland has in common is that it feels its history very keenly. I think this probably has to do with the fact the violent events which have defined the country’s history are not long over. And sometimes the odd headline reminds you that those issues are not entirely laid to rest. So you cannot visit Dublin and avoid the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent fight for independence from Britain. Photographs of the revolutionary leaders adorn pub walls; songs tell old stories of national pride. The bullet holes from 1916 still pepper the walls of the General Post Office.

Here are a collection of photographs from the city – I hope you’ll enjoy flicking through. Oh, and if you need a soundtrack, the first picture is of folk heroine Molly Malone, her statue stands in Grafton Street.  Here is The Dubliner’s version of the wonderful song about her.

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Molly Malone, Grafton Street

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The Guinness Factory

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General Post Office, O’Connell Street

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Pint of Guinness

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The Old City

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Temple Bar

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Light bulb moment

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Cream bicycle on cobbles

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The River Liffey

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Irish election poster

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Deli

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O’Neill’s

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Dublin Castle

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Ocean currents

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Happy New Year!

The cynic in me is tempted to avoid new year’s resolutions. Largely because I’ve never stuck to them in the past and tend to give myself a bit of a hard time when I don’t succeed at things.  But setting an intention is meaningful in itself. Even if it only lasts for one day, you’ve still taken the time to think about what you’d like to change — definitely worth doing in my book.

So even if things go slightly awry as I rush headlong back into real life, here are the intentions I’d like to set for 2016:

  1. Mornings. I resolutely and proudly am not a morning person. My mornings are a hectic rush which usually consist of dragging myself out of bed, losing my keys, not being able to find any clothes that aren’t creased and then nearly missing my train. In 2016 I’d like to change that.  I would love my mornings to be a time of mindful preparation for the day whether that’s heading to the gym for an early morning swim or making breakfast and listening to the radio before walking calmly to the train station. This will be a challenge – it’ll mean going to bed earlier, waking up earlier and putting in effort, but I think the improved peace of mind will be more than worth it.
  2. Yoga. I really really love yoga, but it’s one of the things that gets squeezed out of my life when things get busy or I get stressed. I want 2016 to be the year that I get into better yoga practice and stick with it.  I’m starting with Adriene’s 30 day Yoga Camp – let me know if you’re joining too!
  3. Packed lunches. Ah, packed lunches. You are so much healthier and cheaper than buying lunch every day in Soho. So why am I so terrible at sticking with you? This year, please can we be better friends? I promise to dedicate at least one hour every Sunday evening to preparing you so that hopefully we can make things work this time around.

And to round things off, we started 2016 with a lovely walk to High Force Waterfall at Forest-in-Teesdale. It was freezing (literally — there were icicles!) but great.

Happy new year!

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And finally a bonus new year picture of these three jokers. Left to right my Dad, my little brother and Matt.

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Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

The Friday Frame {18} Early morning cows

So turns out the ‘Friday Frames’ series is less of an ‘every Friday’ type thing, more of a ‘sometimes, often not on a Friday’ type thing.  Let’s call it an ‘occasional photography series’.  Okay good, I feel better now.  I’ve really learned that the best way to enjoy this blog is to just go with the flow and post what I feel like when I feel like it.

And on that note, here’s a picture of some cows in a field in Lincolnshire. The sun had just risen, and I had woken up in a room with the radiators turned on. I can’t stand sleeping with central heating on, even when it’s freezing, because it gives me a potentially real and potentially completely psychosomatic headache. I therefore put on shoes and a big jumper over my pyjamas and clumped down the long drive of the farm where we were staying.  I say clumped because I can never quite bring myself to tie my shoelaces when I’m wearing shoes with pyjamas, and a strange trying-to-stop-shoes-coming-off gait is the result. . It was lovely to be out in the cold, fresh air.  And then I came to rest on a gate in front of a field full of cows.* And that was lovely too.

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Listening to Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, Don’t Speak by No Doubt and Here (in your arms) by Hellogoodbye.

*… also horses.

Moderately incoherent rambling and photograph © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Be Thankful

Thanksgiving.  It’s not a holiday we celebrate on this side of the pond, but I’ve seen enough American films and read enough décor blog posts to know the deal. Pumpkin pie, cinnamon-scented candles, turkey, more pumpkins, and that episode of Friends where Rachel crucially misunderstands the ingredients of a ‘traditional English trifle’ and everyone pretends to like it. Oh, and then there’s the thankfulness part. Taking a moment to reflect on everything that you have to be grateful for in your life – a way to end the year with a focus on the positives.

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Although as a British person I am duty-bound to view most US traditions with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned grumpy cynicism (sorry guys!), I really like this one. And in that spirit, I was tagged by the lovely lady over at White Walls and Wanderlust to complete the ‘Be Thankful Challenge’. So here goes.

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Rules

– Share this image in your blog post.
– Write about 5 people in your life you are thankful for.
– Write about 5 things in 2015 that you are thankful for.
– Spread the love and challenge 5 other blogs to take part.

Five people I am thankful for (in no particular order!)

  • The Boy. My partner in crime, my best friend and the person who makes me laugh most in the world, who seems to be able to fix everything from broken taps to broken hearts and who makes every day better just by being in it. I’m so soppy.
  • My family. Some more of my very favourite people.  Being with them is like being wrapped in a great big blanket and protected from everything that is wrong with the world. They’re quite funny too.  And as my brother once said in one of his more profound moments, “Families aren’t made to be apart.”
  • My friends! All here together because picking one or two favourites wouldn’t seem fair. I love them all for different reasons, and they all mean the world to me. They are the most intelligent, kind and funny bunch of people, and I’m so glad I’ve been lucky enough to collect them along the way.
  • Dan. Perhaps it’s odd to have somebody on your list you’ve never actually met, but I know this person is patient, kind and incredibly good at his job. Dan is the therapist who helped my boyfriend through his serious and very scary struggle with anxiety this year, and I could not be more grateful to him.
  • Everyone reading this. Too clichéd? Sorry. But honestly, I’m truly thankful for everyone who reads my blog, and for the conversations we have in this little corner of the internet about cakes and fairy lights and adventures and everything in between.

Five things I am thankful for

  • My flat. It’s been my first home away from my family, and my first with Matt. It’s warm and cosy and clean and finally feels like home. It’s our safe little nest for the end of the day, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
  • Challenges. My first year after graduating hasn’t been without its fair share of struggles, some of them very big and real and scary. But I’ve faced them all, overcome them, and my life is better as a result. I’m grateful for everything those hard times taught me.
  • My job. I’ve found a job and a team that I absolutely love. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that a terrible job can make you truly miserable. If you hate your job I beg you to leave right now if you can find a way. There is much better out there for you, you just need to find it.
  • Britain. For all of its faults – and there are many – I’m incredibly thankful that this is my home. I’m thankful that I live in a generally peaceful, liberal country where my rights are preserved and protected. I’m thankful that medical care is free and available to everyone who needs it. And I’m also grateful for the wry humour, the conversations about the weather and that wonderful British awkwardness.
  • Language. I love the intricacies of language, discovering new words and unusual sayings, and that feeling of immense satisfaction when you find the right words. I’m also evidently a windbag, given I’ve basically written a paragraph for each of these!

Five nominations

Fuelled by Oats – a lovely positive sunbeam of a blog and blogger

The Thankful Heart – such a fitting blog name, her blog really encapsulates this whole theme perfectly.

Persephone H – a fellow foodie

With all my Affection – one of the prettiest blogs around

A Cornish Mum – this blog has a little bit of everything for everyone

Listening to: Hold my Hand by Jess Glynn, Ashes and Wine by The Civil Wars and Masochist by Ingrid Michaelson.

The words and the images apart from those relating to the challenge are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Wanderlust {Warsaw}: painting in the street

While I was in Warsaw I took a lot of pictures of walls, and a few of the ground. Luckily I wasn’t just going mad — the walls and the floor were more interesting than they are in most places. That’s the round about way of saying that there was a lot of street art around and about, and here are some photographs of it. Enjoy!

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We saw this as we arrived, and it warmed my heart 🙂

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Red balloon

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Why is the sky dark at night?

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A bit of a scarier one

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Lady in pink

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Blue bird, umbrellas

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Godzilla?

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Warsaw, what you’ve done to me

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Yes, Beyonce

All images © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Flying saucer cakes – honey & vanilla madeleines

The best thing about creating food, as far as I’m concerned, is making it for other people.  It’s one of my favourite ways to show I love somebody.  When I was about ten, that meant trying to make a pink mushroom birthday cake for my mum, and learning the hard way that you cannot ice a cake when it’s hot from the oven.  As I got older and slightly more handy in the kitchen, it has meant pancakes or scrambled eggs or huge plates of pasta for my hungry brother, and impromptu desserts for whoever is coming around for dinner.  Surprise birthday cakes in sixth form and careful research to find out which baking would most cheer up a friend mid essay crisis.

And that’s how I came to make madeleines for the first time.  My boyfriend has been talking for a while about a kind of cake crossed with a biscuit which he remembered from holidays in France.  It took some googling to find out what he was referring to, but it turned out to be these little golden cakes — denser than a sponge, but lighter than a biscuit. And so I set about working out how to make them, then putting two into a tupperware each evening for him to take to work the next day.  What can I say, I love through cake.

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Traditionally, madeleines are made in a special tin which creates delicate little shell-shaped cakes.  But let’s be honest, I have neither the space nor the money to buy a whole new set of trays.   One day, I will have a kitchen straight out of a Lakeland Plastics catalogue.   Today is not that day: I have two functioning cupboards in my kitchen, so adaptability is the name of the baking game here.  I took a gamble, made my first batch in a cupcake tray, and it worked just fine.  They may not be as refined as their French cousins, but I kind of enjoy their spaceship stylings.  This version is delicately flavoured with vanilla and honey, and although I do ostensibly make these for M, they don’t all make it to his lunchbox…

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Ingredients

  • 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 1 whole egg, separated, plus 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Directions

– Preheat oven to 190c (170c fan oven or gas mark 5).

– Use a tiny amount of the melted butter to grease a 12-hole cupcake tray (or a madeleine tray if you have one) and use a sieve to dust lightly with flour.

– Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl. Put the butter, egg yolk, honey and vanilla into a separate bowl and whisk together.

– Using a hand held whisk, whisk the two egg whites until stiff.

– Fold the butter mixture into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed, then gently fold in the egg whites until thoroughly combined.  Be careful not over mix (you want to keep the volume in the egg whites).

– Divide between the moulds and bake for 10-12 mins until golden brown and firm to the touch.

– Leave to cool in the moulds for a few minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

– Dust with icing sugar before serving, if you like.

I haven’t tried it, but I feel like these would be really fun to decorate with smarties, chocolate chips, coloured icing and strawberry laces, to make them look like actual spaceships. That would definitely be a legitimate use of time for a twenty-something, right?

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Listening to: Overwhelmed by Rachel Platten, Stutter by Marianas Trench and Girl by Beck.

Edit: 10th July 2016

My mum bought us madeleine trays! These ones are kind of prettier – I even dusted them with icing sugar…

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This recipe is from the BBC Good Food website.  All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {17} Monkey Nuts

On a recent visit to Oxford — almost a year to the day since I finished finals — we rapidly found our way back to our favourite pub in Jericho, the part of town near college. They have a huge barrel of monkey nuts that you can help yourself to, and tall plastic cups to carry them back to your table.  Cracking the husks and shaking out the nuts is a great way to pass the time, merrily showering yourself, your companions and the gingham tablecloths with flakes of dusty shell.

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All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

An accidental hiatus, 101 followers and a little bit of hope

Well hello there. It’s been a while — oops. I promise I have a good excuse.

Okay — not really. But I have been busy. And, to put the icing on the sheepish cake, I logged back into WordPress yesterday after a period of good intentions paving the way to absolutely no blog posts whatsoever to find I’d missed a bit of an exciting milestone. One hundred and one people are now following ohtogoawandering which, I’ll admit, makes me beam with pride. In some ways, I never set out to write this blog for anybody but myself, but equally it’s nice to know that people enjoy what I create here in my tiny corner of the internet.

And I wanted to mark the occasion somehow: it feels like a watershed in many ways — a new beginning. A moment to look to the next one hundred, and the next few years. And it happens to coincide with other lines in the sand.

I’ve gone from a period in my life where I was really struggling a lot, felt as though I had lost my way and was very unhappy, to a period where I feel like the way ahead is clear, bright and full of promise. Where I feel appreciated, where my hard work seems to pay off, and where I look forward to getting up each morning.

Alongside that, we woke up in the UK yesterday to a new government: a less positive change. The fragile hopes of the left wing in Britain were dashed as we welcomed in five years of a conservative majority government. An administration that rode to power fuelled primarily by people’s fear and anger. The leaders of the two main liberal parties in Britain resigned, taking full responsibility for their party’s crushing defeats– their resignation speeches are not easy to watch. It isn’t easy to watch people give their all for a cause you believe in, and then to watch them lose, no matter how graceful their exits.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, gave a particularly emotional speech after watching his party lose seat after seat. But tinged as it was with personal sadness and defeat, his message was ultimately one of hope for the future. It struck a chord among a huge number of people: even if Clegg’s political record is far from flawless, he spoke to hope, generosity and liberalism in a dark moment for those who fear another five years of a party whose primary concern is the rich and powerful. And it reminded us that before we turn to the easy refuges of cynicism and anger, the most powerful weapon we have is our hope that things will get better.

It’s that little voice that has always got me through the rubbish times, and it’s that which will preserve left wing idealism. And no matter what your political feelings or your situation, hope is not something to be sniggered at or denigrated in favour of ‘realism’: anybody who has ever changed anything started with a belief that things could change. And they can.

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A bit of an emotional one this time, but it’s something I needed to write. Thanks to each and every one of my one hundred and one followers — I hope you continue to enjoy my blog! 

Listening to: Girl Crush by Little Big Town, I Feel the Earth Move by Carole King, Woman (Oh Mama) by Joy Williams, Word Up! by Little Mix.

The Walt Whitman image is from Pinterest, where it sadly becomes almost impossible to find the original creator. All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

‘If I should have a daughter…’

Today it’s Mother’s Day in the UK. Or, to give it its traditional name, Mothering Sunday. Sitting in the pub yesterday evening, somebody suddenly exclaimed that they’d forgotten to post their Mother’s Day card: a phone call would have to do this year. Another of my friends piped up that he hadn’t sent a card at all, because well, what was the actual point of Mother’s Day anyway? Isn’t it just a festival made up, seemingly like so many others, to get us all to buy things in order to say thank-yous that we should be saying all year anyway? Well, yes, perhaps in some ways. When I mentioned what I knew of the day’s history, he was surprised. And interested. I don’t think many people know about the day’s roots, so I looked into it a little more, and felt like it might be an interesting little nugget to share here (any excuse for a bit of history…).

Mothering Sunday started off as the day that people would return to their ‘mother church’: the church in the place where they had grown up, in about the sixteenth century. It later became the day that those ‘in service’ away from home would go home to see their mothers: traditionally, they’d pick wildflowers on the way to give as presents. This tradition then evolved into the day that we know today: a day to say thank you to our mothers. But not just our mothers. At our church growing up we used to give out daffodils on Mothering Sunday: not just to women with children, but to all of the women. Historically, Mother’s Day was always about coming home; remembering the place and the people you came from, and it makes sense that Mother’s Day should still serve as a moment to be grateful for all of the women who have made us the people we are today, whether they are related to us or not. Yes, in some ways it is hideously commercialised, but any day that makes us pause and say thank you can’t be all bad.

So, thank you to my mum, of course, who I know diligently reads my blog. And her dedication and support in that department sums up her approach to mothering in all of my twenty two years. Always there, often in the background, caring and loving and never asking for anything in return. The safest of refuges no matter what happens. Love you mum! And thank you to all of the other amazing women, whether they’ve been in my life fleetingly or since the beginning, who have taught me so much about grace, wisdom, bravery and just getting on with stuff.

And to finish, the indomitable Sarah Kay, on mothers, and the kind of mother she would like to be. A perfect, passionate poem about mothers and daughters. It’s entitled ‘B’. Enjoy!

Listening to: Budapest by George Ezra, 212 by Azalea Banks and Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars.

The poem is of course by Sarah Kay. All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

No-bake Caramel and Peach cheesecake. Or, the day I smashed the oven door.

This creamy cheesecake is certainly a thing of beauty. But beauty born admittedly of absolute disaster… Every cloud? When one of our university friends was over for dinner a couple of weeks ago I was lifting an apple crumble out of the oven (domestic goddess) and somehow the combination of hot ceramics and oven gloves meant I managed to drop the whole thing onto the inside of the oven door. The inside glass panel shattered instantly into a million tiny pieces (safety glass — great) and we three were left for a moment as if frozen: just staring at what had just happened. And swearing.

Perhaps the most stressful part about renting, especially renting when you’re just starting out and don’t have an abundance of extra money lying around, is that you don’t own most of the stuff that you could potentially break during your everyday apple-crumble-creation activities. And so smashing the oven was followed by hours of sweeping up broken glass, and trying to get the shards out of the door mechanism so that it would actually shut, and then more hours of agonising over how much a new oven door was going to cost… I write this now from the safe vantage point of having had the oven door inside panel replaced at not too extravagant a cost last week, so… phew.

But to cut to the chase, here is what you need to know:

1) I had no oven for a few weeks

2) I cannot survive without pudding

So I made this cheesecake. It was nice. It is not necessary to smash your oven door in order to enjoy it in all of its glory.

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Ingredients

For the base
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter
For the filling
  • 450g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tin Coronation caramel (you could use Dulche de leche or something similar )
  • 240ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
To go on top
  • 1 tin of peaches
  • 15g butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar, or more

Directions

– To make the base, simply melt the butter in a large bowl (I just melt mine in the microwave – you can melt yours however you like. How liberal of me) and then add the crushed digestives (I don’t have a food processor so I put my biscuits in a freezer bag and hit them with a rolling pin until they were powder)

– Mix until the butter is evenly distributed, and then grease your tin (I used a spring-form circular number) and press the mixture down so that it forms an even base. I used the flat bottom of a glass to get the base nice and flat.

– Put into the fridge to chill and harden.

– In a large bowl (or a mixer if you have one) beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the can of caramel and beat until smooth and all combined.

– In a separate medium bowl, beat cream and powdered sugar on high until soft peaks form – about 3 mins with a mixer, or about 10 mins + very sore arms if you’re just using a whisk like I was…

– With a rubber spatula, stir about one-third of the whipped cream/icing sugar mix into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the rest. Make sure it’s all combined, but avoid over-mixing.

– Tip onto the base and smooth the top with a spatula.

– Cover tightly and refrigerate until firm, 3 hours (or up to 2 days).

– For the decorative caramelised peaches, first line a baking tray with grease proof paper.

– Empty your tin of peaches into a sieve, and rinse under cold water, then pat dry with kitchen towel to get rid of as much moisture as possible.

– Heat the butter in a frying pan, and when it’s hot lay the peaches in carefully, so they’re not touching each other. Sprinkle enough brown sugar over the top to cover each piece. Cook for about 2 mins, then flip them over. Coat the new side with more brown sugar, and then flip again.

– One the peaches are sticky and somewhat caramelised, lay them out on the grease proof paper. Let them cool completely.

– Arrange on the top of your cheesecake however you like before serving.

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Listening to: Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars, Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, Places to Go by Leftover Cuties, Completely by Caro Emerald.

Recipe adapted from this one from The Food Charlatan: I changed the base (her crust required an oven…) and used tinned peaches rather than fresh because it’s what I had, as well as making a few other tweaks.

All other content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.