May Favourites

May has been another super-busy month but not without lots of things to celebrate! This post is a little later than I originally intended, but we went on holiday so I’ve been super busy! Anyway here’s what I have been loving throughout May:

The return of Lucky Dip Club, My Rainbow Life box RRP: £15

I know I mentioned it in my previous April Lust List but this time it’s actually here! May saw the official release of the Lucky Dip Club in its’ new format; My Rainbow Life! The box features one super-cute and functional item that has been collaborated on with an equally cool indie artist plus the much loved subscriber mag ‘Girl Planet’. The great thing about the new format is that you get something you’ll actually use as opposed to lots of little bits and bobs that you might not. This months fun and functional surprise was a little treat tray. The idea behind it is that it can fit two treats (perhaps a hot drink and a yummy snack) and it’s there to remind you to TREAT YO SELF. And let’s be honest, we could all do with treating ourselves a little more. Well, probably not me. I probably treat myself too much but, whatever. Obviously my treat tray is going to be used for one thing and one thing only- hello handy bath time aide! Also, I have a feature in this months mag, just sayin’.

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Montagne Jeunesse Candyfloss Scrub RRP: £1 from Primark

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while you’ll know I love the Montagne Jeunesse face masks. The Candyfloss scrub is for sure one of my favourites. It smells incredible and leaves your skin feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. The perfect sweet treat for tired skin!

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Baby Bee Enamel Pin RRP $12 from Wawe Studio

I absolutely adore enamel pins and have a sizeable collection of my own. This super-cute Baby Bee pin from Wawe Studio combines my two greatest loves; bumble bees and kewpies! I just had to have it. It came packaged really well with some art postcards and a little pom pom – adorable!

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Into The Water Book by Paula Hawkins RRP £10 from Waterstones

Into The Water is the highly anticipated second novel by Paula Hawkins. Following on from the monumental success of The Girl On The Train was obviously going to be no small feat but, I’m actually really impressed with this book.  At first it is a little confusing getting to grips with all the characters as the story is told through multiple viewpoints. After awhile though it wasn’t a problem and I found that the different characters all added something to the story.

Into The Water opens with Nel Abbott’s death in the infamous drowning pool. It follows on to the tell the stories of her sister, her daughter, the policemen and women working on her case and the lives of those around her. It’s an intriguing story to say the least and, whilst it’s nothing at all like The Girl On The Train, I think it’s brilliant in its own right. Definitely worth a read.

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Sonny Angel Sky Colour Series RRP £7.95 from Didi Inspired

When the Sky Colour Series Sonny Angels were announced I have to say, I was super excited! The last set (Easter) were nice enough but nothing special. In all honesty the designs/colours left me feeling a little disappointed (so much so they didn’t even make it in to my monthly favourites?!). So it was a pleasant surprise to have something super-cute to bridge the gap until Halloween rolls around again.  Sky Colour Sonny’s feature cute weather-related hats such as rain, thunder, rainbow etc and they seem to be replacing the usual Summer series which features tanned Sonny Angel in holiday-themed hats and T-Shirts. I much prefer these as they are adorable.

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Fjallraven Kanken Backpack RRP £65 from My Kanken Bag.com

Prior to going on holiday I decided to get a new “travel” bag. One that would be suitable for carrying books, makeup and the essentials. I have wanted a Fjallraven Kanken bag for ages so decided to go with that as I wanted something hardwearing and long lasting; something that could accompany me on many adventures. This bag is super cute, comfortable to wear and really spacious! I got mine in Ochre which is pretty much mustard yellow. I definitely recommend this bag if you travel a lot.

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Space Girl bath bomb from the Lush Kitchen

And last but not least I was really loving the throwback Space Girl bath bomb from the Lush Kitchen. It smells super-sweet and it’s a great all rounder. For more info on it you can catch my haul post here!

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What have you been loving in May?

Life Updates.

It’s been a little while since I wrote a personal blog post and today I thought I would just check in with where I’m at. I like to reflect on what I’m doing every now and then as it’s good to look back and see how far I’ve come and acknowledge what I have achieved. I don’t think I do it often enough!

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Primark Haul May 2017 | Summer Holiday Shop

I’m off on my holidays next week and as ever I pretty much left buying the essentials until the very last minute. Luckily for me Primark is full of wonderful bits and bobs at the moment and it’s all very reasonably priced. Here’s what I got:

Tropical Bikini Top: £8

Tropical High Waisted Bikini Bottoms: £5

I had managed to pick up a couple of cute bikinis/swimsuits a couple months ago but definitely didn’t have as many as I would have liked. This bikini set is super-cheap and cute with a bright tropical print. What I love most about it is that the top is under-wired and features straps (as opposed to strings) so it’s very supportive and flattering. The bottoms are high-waisted too so these are great if you’re a little self conscious about your stomach.

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Black Swimsuit £13

I knew I wanted a swimsuit for the beach, as it gives you a bit of extra coverage which I like. What I quite often find though is that one pieces look quite childish. However, this one combines both comfort and style. It’s a super-flattering piece with gold detailing for a sophisticated finish. And at just £13 it’s a total bargain.

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Flamingo Print Cover Up Dress £4

This dress features a relaxed fit and flared cut making it ideal for lounging on the beach (worn over the top of a bikini) or by the pool. I love the playful flamingo print which gives me serious tropical-vibes.

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Beach Wrap £3

This bright beach wrap can be worn in multiple ways but I think I will wear it tied around my waist. It features a tropical palm tree print and comes in one size. The fabric is super-lightweight and floaty making it ideal for covering up but allowing you to still stay cool.

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Embroidered Floral Tunic Dress £13

This lightweight tunic dress features a relaxed fit, pretty embroidery detailing on the chest and three-quarter length sleeves with frill detailing. I absolutely love the design of this dress and think the embroidery is just beautiful – but I have to admit to not being keen on the sleeves. I’m going to chop them off and hope for the best!

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Ice Cream T-Shirt £5

This tee is probably my favourite purchase. I love the mint colour and ice cream design. It’s a nice soft, knitted T-Shirt that I think is just perfect for Summer!

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Pom Pom Trim Shorts £8

Crafted from a lightweight crepe, these shorts feature a comfortable waistband, embroidery detailing and a fun pom pom trim at the hem. I love the length of these shorts as they are a little longer than most in Primark and are quite flattering.

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Bead Embellished Sandals £10

Crafted from real leather, these sandals feature a vibrant and playful beaded design that I think will be perfect for warm climes.

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Candyfloss Scrub Facemask £1 each

And last but not least I picked up two Candyfloss facemasks. These smell incredible (good enough to eat!) and will be ideal for getting my skin ready for the sun!

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What have you been loving in Primark recently?

 

 

 

Mini Lush Kitchen Haul (plus bonus bits)

I feel like it has been ages since I wrote my last Lush Kitchen Haul. In reality it was just a month ago! I have been so busy with my wonderful trip to Cornwall; time really flies!

Anyway, I haven’t actually been buying that much from the Kitchen lately. There just hasn’t been anything I’ve really fancied (sad times.) That said there were a couple of surprise releases that were particularly special that I felt were worth a mention.

Avowash Shower Gel

If you’ve read my Top Ten Lush post, you’ll know that Avobath bath bomb is one of my all time favourites. I just can’t get enough of that smell! When the Kitchen announced they would be making the shower gel version I knew I had to have it! I purchased two bottles and my boyfriend kindly bought me an extra one meaning I have three bottles of the good green stuff altogether. The scent is a gorgeous citrus, fairly true to the bath bomb. Although I can detect something else that smells a tiiiiiny bit like tea-tree to me. I took a bottle with me to Cornwall to use in the shower each morning and it definitely helped to wake me up, providing an invigorating wash that seemed to help with the muscle pains I was feeling. The next time this pops up I definitely recommend grabbing a bottle or two.

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Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly

Although I have been debating buying a shower jelly for the longest time, I have never gotten round to it. I just haven’t found a scent that I’ve been all that in to if I’m being honest. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this is the first shower jelly I’ve ever owned. At any rate, at least it’s a good place to start! I decided on the shower jelly because everyone said it smelled just like the Comforter. I am a huge fan of the Comforter. In my stash I currently have a big Comforter bubble bar, the shower cream and a solid perfume. I was definitely interested in owning the shower jelly too! When I opened the lid and took a sniff I could definitely recognise the blackberry element of the Comforter in there but somehow it smells even more fruity if possible. For me there is this gorgeous note of cherries that features quite strongly. I adore this scent! It actually smells edible and, what with the jelly-like design, reminds me quite strongly of a pudding! I haven’t used the jelly yet so I can’t say how I feel about it as a product, but it’s one I’m really excited to try.

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Space Girl Bath Bomb

Space Girl Bath Bomb wasn’t announced on the usual Friday menu so I had no idea it would be coming out at all. I had actually been requesting this bath bomb for weeks as prior to it being discontinued it was always a favourite. It’s funny though because even though I knew I loved it, where around three years had elapsed since I last tried it, I had forgotten what the scent was. Anyway, the night before it came in to the Kitchen there was a surprise announcement on Facebook. I couldn’t believe it! The next day I excitedly logged on and bought five. My boyfriend kindly topped that number up by buying another five as a surprise for me. When I found out he had done this I was incredibly grateful but also a little sceptical. Did I really need ten Space Girl bath bombs? When they arrived I opened the box to be greeted by the most magical smell of all. In that moment I knew; hell yes I needed ten! WOW. The smell of Space Girl is just like Palma Violets/sweets and is incredible. The design is also one of my favourites being a cute little planet with glitter. It turns the bath a pale lilac which is so lovely. This has to be my favourite Lush Kitchen purchase to date!

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The last two things I want to talk about are not from the Kitchen but they are exclusive bits that will only be around for a very short while. Plus I have wanted these for so long and am so incredibly excited there was no way I could leave them out!

Lush Botanical Tote Bag RRP £6.95

When I saw this announced on Instagram I lost it. I have been trying (and failing) to get this bag for months! It was originally showcased at the big Summit event which I was unable to attend due to work commitments. Then it popped up in the kitchen for a very limited time. I completely missed it. However I was so desperate for it because A. I use tote bags every single day. I don’t really like handbags and tote bags are such an easy way to carry everyday essentials. B. I love botanical prints. When Lush bought out the botanical designs it reminded me so much of all the lovely illustrations you get in vintage field guides. C. I love Lush! So why wouldn’t I want this amazing bag?! Long story short, they came out whilst I was away in Cornwall, but my lovely mother popped in to our local Lush and picked me up two! I will probably grab a couple more before these leave completely as it’s my favourite bag ever.

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Lush Botanical Knot Wrap RRP £4.50

And last but not least is this amazing knot wrap with the same botanical design! I hadn’t seen these before and didn’t know they would be bringing them out but I love them. I have already been putting mine to good use as a lovely little backdrop for all my Lush photographs! Not sure if I will use for my hair or just as a prop. Either way I’m sure I will get a lot of use out of it.

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What have you been buying in the Lush Kitchen lately?

 

 

Visiting The Eden Project PT 2

If you haven’t read it, please go back here to read the first part of our visit to the Eden Project. In part one I wrote about the rainforest biome. In part two I will be writing about the Mediterranean biome.

Entering the Mediterranean biome was certainly a different experience from the last. Light and airy it felt much more comfortable and a lot less wild. Created to emulate landscapes of the Mediterranean, South Africa, California and Western Australia and showcase the incredible plants that grow there, the Mediterranean biome is a huge and fascinating space.

Upon entering we were greeted with the strong smell of olives and wafting herbs. At the entrance is a patch where cacti and huge sprouting aloe veras grow. I adore cacti so I was particularly interested in this part of the biome.

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Much like the rainforest biome, there are winding paths that reveal secrets around every single corner. The Mediterranean biome had a huge and varied array of plants and flowers that I had never seen before but were certainly very beautiful.

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The carefully tended flower beds were a riot of colour, with each plant seeming to be in competition with the last. Vibrant petals, unique designs, flowers with fur and fluff and an array of South African proteas; every kind of flower you could think of, the Mediterranean biome had it all.

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Also much like the Rainforest biome, the Mediterranean biome had stone stairways winding up to higher levels to explore. However this biome did not have a tree-top walk or viewing platform at the very top (which suited me just fine.)

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In the vineyard was an assortment of amazing Bacchanalian sculptures and just past those was a large al fresco dining area. The food smelt absolutely delicious but we decided we would eat lunch at the pasty shop we had spotted on the way in so we gave this one a miss.

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We spent perhaps an hour in the Mediterranean biome, wandering around and pointing out the incredible plants to each other. This was a little less time than we had spent in the rainforest. The area seemed to have a little less to explore but in terms of plants and flowers it was more interesting and varied.

Outside we took a walk through the gardens, soaking up the sunshine and admiring the pretty views.

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We stopped for lunch at the pasty shop as I had been desperate to try my first Cornish pasty! My only complaint was that it was a 40 minute wait to be served (eek!) but nonetheless the pasty was delicious. Even the little robins and sparrows were flapping around the tables, eagerly awaiting a peck. For those who don’t fancy waiting though, there are lots of alternative options. The Eden Project has several restaurants serving good quality meals and snacks.

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After our late lunch we meandered through the remainder of the gardens, stopping to take photographs of the little water features and wildflowers.

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Our last port of call was the ‘The Core’ a little visitor centre of sorts with interactive displays.

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Inside was a huge wall of recycled fridge freezers and a ton of alphabet letters. This kept us entertained for a good while as we’re basically just overgrown children at heart.

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The Core is also home to the impressive seed sculpture by Peter Randall-Page. The seed is one of the biggest sculptures in history to be made out of a single rock. The huge granite sculpture started life as a 167-tonne boulder and took more than two years to create. I loved this sculpture because as I think I’ve said before, I really love novelty oversized things.

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All in all we had a wonderful time exploring the Eden Project. I would like to go back again and explore more of the surrounding areas outside of the biomes. I also think depending on what time of year you visit the experience will be completely different so I’d be interested to go back in Autumn!

Visiting the Eden Project PT 1

Visiting the Eden Project has sat gathering dust on my bucket list for years now. I adore spending my free-time in botanical gardens, wandering around and looking at all the amazing plants and flowers. I  have even been known to lurk around a garden centre or two. Luckily for me, Gareth also enjoys spending time outdoors and had also really wanted to visit The Eden Project. Anyway, when we decided to book our holiday, we definitely had it in mind.

Entrance in to The Eden Project is £27.50 per adult, but Gareth’s mum kindly donated her Tesco Clubcard points to us so we got in for free. (Yay!)
As we entered we were greeted by the sight of those iconic biome structures, looming impressively up in to the sky. Shouldered by carved out quarry, lush green trees and nestled in the midst of carefully sculpted flower beds, the Eden Project looked beautiful. Overhead was a zip wire and as we descended the hill towards the biomes we laughed at the brave people whizzing past.

There are two main biomes at The Eden Project. A rainforest biome with tropical trees and plants and the other Mediterranean. For the sake of not overwhelming my post with around 60-odd photos I’m going to split The Eden Project up over two blogs. In this one I will be talking about the rainforest biome.

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As soon as we had stepped in to the biome the the heat hit me in a wave. Unsurprisingly tropical plants require tropical climes. That translates to a very hot and damp atmosphere, one that feels slightly disorientating when stepped in to from the cold. The other thing I immediately noticed was how tall the trees were and how wild it all seemed. Great big tangles of ferns and plants thriving and spreading out creating a very real sensation of being in an actual jungle.

We noticed a small sign that described some of the wildlife that had been introduced in to The Eden Project for the purpose of controlling damaging insects. Small lizards, tree frogs and roul-roul partridges.

I was determined to seek out these unusual creatures, no doubt lurking just below the foliage. It wasn’t long before we spotted the partridges with their funny red mohawks, pecking and scratching at the soil.

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The rainforest biome is home to many exotic species of plants and covers everything from the Tropical Islands, Southeast Asia, West Africa and Tropical South America. As we walked down the damp pathways we were surprised and delighted at every corner. The Malaysian Hut with its’ vegetable plot and paddy field was particularly interesting and looked as if it had been scooped up from a real rainforest.

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I was excited to get up close to the Titan Arum which is the worlds largest perennial herb. This exotic and rare plant looks incredible and when fully open, smells of rotting flesh. Fortunately it wasn’t open when we were there although that could have been quite a unique experience!

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Eventually we came across the canopy walkway; a series of precarious looking rope bridges weaving high above the plants below.  On one of the bridges clouds of steam curled up from below creating an interesting fog effect that everyone wanted to stop and take photographs in.

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At the heart of the rainforest biome is an impressive crashing waterfall, sending spray out across the path and pooling in a little pond below. This pond contained the most enormous lily pads we had ever seen.

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For those who are very brave, there is a swaying metal staircase that leads to a suspended platform right at the very top of the biome, affording impressive views of the entire rainforest. I was not so brave so I let Gareth go ahead without me, armed with my camera whilst I sat and watched a brown lizard crawl across a canopy. Looking at the photos he took I can tell the view was beautiful but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

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One of the wonderful things (and there are many wonderful things) about The Eden Project and the rainforest biome is the sheer amount of unique and interesting things there is to see. Cacoa  pods hanging from branches, bunches of green bananas growing high above, wild rubber plants and incredible pineapples springing up from the ground. The Eden Project takes the secrets and beauty of the jungle and reveals it to you bit by bit as you make your way around the 240 metre long structure.

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Of the two biomes this was my favourite but honestly I enjoyed exploring both. Keep your eyes peeled for the next post in which I will be talking about the Mediterranean biome!

Visiting Tintagel Castle

The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun shone hotly on the day we decided to visit Tintagel Castle. The perfect weather to be climbing a steep cliff!

So I will admit it. Although Tintagel Castle is surrounded in history and legend, I really wasn’t aware of its’ existence until Gareth decided we were going there. The main lure for me was that it’s an English Heritage site and we get in to those for free. I wasn’t expecting much.

Situated in the picturesque village of Tintagel, the iconic castle is famed for its’ links with King Arthur (Geoffrey Monmouth named it as the place King Arthur was conceived.) The ruins sit high up on a cliff overlooking the sea. There’s a small beach there too, with the famous Merlin’s cave tunnelling in to the rock face.

Gareth laughed at my need to stop for a cappuccino at a homely looking cafe. And for then clutching on to it for dear life as we descended an impossibly steep hill on the footpath to the castle. (Obviously London, he poked fun at me.)

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As we rounded the corner we were greeted with the welcoming site of the sea. Shouldered by rolling hills, the path down to the sea and beach was a very pleasant walk.

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As we reached the ticket office it turned out I had failed to print out the necessary coupons to gain free entry. (I didn’t know this was even a thing.) Luckily entry to the castle is very fair at just £8.50 per adult.

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We decided to explore the small, stony beach first as the tide was out and that meant we would be able to venture in to Merlin’s cave.

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In the cold, damp of Merlin’s cave we heard pigeons cooing overhead, obviously discomfited at our intrusion. We had fun clambering over rocks and stones to peer in to the small rock pool with a dark glossy surface.

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Outside on the beach I marvelled at how blue the sea was (a million miles away from Southend!) and we ambled from rock pool to rock pool. I was so desperate to find a star fish. I’m sad to say I didn’t find one. I did however, come across lots of little fish and curious jelly-like creatures.

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From the beach we began our ascent up the cliff. A winding stair case goes all the way up which makes it easy enough to get to the top. But make no mistakes, your calves will start to feel the burn once you are done with all the stairs.

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At the top, the ruins of the castle are accompanied by little plaques describing what each room is. I found the ruins to be interesting but the thing that really captured my attention was the view which was nothing short of beautiful.

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We sat for awhile just taking in the views (and catching our breaths.) It really was lovely to be up there in the sunshine. I can imagine that if it had been raining it would be quite a different experience.

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All in all we spent 3 exciting hours exploring Tintagel Castle ruins and the beach. I am so pleased we went as it was truly stunning and unlike anything else I have experienced before. I would say this is the least child-friendly of the locations we visited due to the amount of steep hills, stairs and general climbing. (So it’s a good job we don’t have children!) Just something to bear in mind if you’re looking for a family day out.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

On the day we decided to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan it was positively dreary and had been raining all morning. I hadn’t done my usual research so I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew that a bit of drizzle wouldn’t dampen our holiday plans.

Situated in St Austell, Cornwall, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is both historic and mysterious. Described as a ‘genuine secret garden’ because it was lost under overgrowth for decades, the Lost Gardens is set on 200 acres of woodland, ‘jungle’, fields and gardens. Admission is a very reasonable £14.50 per adult.

As soon as we entered the Gardens I started to feel quite excited. Exotic-looking trees loomed ahead and swallows darted around weaving in between the outside cafe tables, chirping noisily.

We decided to walk through the woods first. Upon entering we were greeted by a signpost that read ‘The Giant’s Woodland Adventure’ and a rather large head curiously peeking up from the ground.

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The woods are a truly magical place to walk through at this time of year with the floor carpeted in brilliant bluebells. As we walked we came across the Mud Maiden, a giant sleeping sculpture. She looked so peaceful laying there on the damp, mossy earth, her hair made of daffodils and ivy hugging at her shoulders.

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Eventually we came across a peculiar bee hive. Not a real, functional one but an oversized version with lots of fun facts and images of bees plastered to the walls inside. It felt as if the more we walked through the woods the more interesting and unique things we saw. It truly captured and sparked my imagination. I can’t help but think this would be the most enchanting place to visit for children.

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Finally exiting the woods we were greeted with a narrow, gravelly path, flanked either side by lush green ferns, towering trees and unusual plants.

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We walked down a steep hill, past a murky pond that was framed with flowers and plants. This part of the gardens is known as ‘The Jungle’.

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As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t done my usual research. So I didn’t realise that the gardens had a rope bridge. Personally I’m not a fan of heights, particularly not ones of the ‘this doesn’t feel safe, my body is actually swaying’ variety. But the rope bridge, stretching across the pond, looked incredibly adventurous. Plus a tiny little child was doing it so I’d have looked pretty pathetic if I backed out. I clung on to the rope with white knuckles, managing to avoid looking down and taking small steps. I have to admit, it was actually pretty fun and made me feel like I was really in a jungle. (Apart from the bit where the man behind me over-zealously swayed the whole bridge with his clumsy steps, causing me to feel sick and the child in front to scream out… that wasn’t so fun.)

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Off of the bridge and back on to solid land we began walking down hill across a wooden path way that weaved in and out between tall trees.

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At the bottom of the hill we came across a curious structure called ‘The Witches Hat’. From here there were several paths we could have taken. We opted for the one that led down to the ponds and Kingfisher Walk as we had been told by employees that Kingfishers were regularly spotted there.

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Peering in to one of the ponds I was delighted to see lots of tiny black tadpoles darting about. Although we sat for awhile in the bird hide we didn’t catch the glossy orange and blue feathers of a kingfisher. Just a lone robin and the calls of crows overhead.

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From the ponds we walked up a treacherously steep hill (Cornwall is just basically a hill it seems) and towards the manicured gardens. The first we stopped at was the Flower Garden which, curiously enough, didn’t seem to have that many flowers in at all. Regardless it was still very picturesque and charming.

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From the gardens we walked to the farm. The strange thing about The Lost Gardens of Heligan is that it almost feels as if you are cramming several days out in to one. Just as you become immersed in woodland you are in the jungle. Just as you are exploring the jungle you are in the gardens. And as soon as you’ve taken in the neat greenhouses and carefully planted trees you’re in the middle of a farm! Yes, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is a curious place and time does feel a little irrelevant there. I think that is certainly part of the fun though.

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On the farm I was pleased to spot more chaffinches. I love these little birds but rarely get the chance to see them up close. In a pen outside we saw chickens and ducks scratching at the ground. In a barn we saw adorable piglets playing and chasing each other, sheep, lambs and cows.

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From the farm we took a dusty path and exited in to what felt like more jungle. Beautiful pink blooms flowered on the trees and it was a real pleasure to walk among them, listening to the bird song as we went.

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We came across unexpected surprises at almost every turn; little trickling water features and incredible plants and flowers like nothing we had ever seen before. This for me was pretty impressive as we have explored many gardens together.

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When we finally reached the end it felt as if we had been in the gardens for an entire day. It was actually closer to three hours. I honestly could have spent more time there though, just wandering around and taking everything in. If I ever have the chance to go again I will most definitely; the Lost Gardens of Heligan was the highlight of our trip for me and the memories of it will last forever.

 

Cornwall Bucket List

I have always wanted to visit Cornwall. Growing up, my mum had shared lots of fond memories of her own childhood holidays there. I wanted to see the sights for myself!

Prior to visiting Cornwall I had made a little ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to see and do. We have just got back from a wonderful trip and so I thought I would share that list.

Please look out for more blog posts as I should be posting one each day this week. These will go in to more detail about some of the wonderful places we have visited!

Stay in a cottage

Nuthatch is a small and cosy cottage nestled at the top of a very steep hill, surrounded by dense woodland to one side and vast, open farmland to the other. At the heart of Bodmin, this cottage was the perfect location for us to ferry to-and-fro across Cornwall. Plus just look at it, it’s charming!

I loved staying in this little cottage, even if it was impossibly cold in the evenings. Inside were traditional wooden beams, a spacious bedroom, a bath tub and a small but perfectly formed kitchen/living room area. The kitchen window overlooked a field of gentle cows. We would rush to that window every time we heard the metallic calling of a pheasant, who would strut down the lane past the cottage every evening.

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Visit Tintagel

An English Heritage site, Tintagel castle is iconic with its’ links to King Arthur. We visited on the warmest day of our trip, the sky a brilliant blue and the sun beaming down from high up in the sky.

The site itself is absolutely stunning and exceeded all of our expectations. From the stony beach with it’s dark Merlin’s cave and rock pools filled with mysterious creatures to the castle ruins and impressive cliffs- everything was simply wonderful.

There’s lots of walking up steep hills and endless staircases though, so if you’re planning to make the trip I can’t stress that sensible footwear is key.

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Visit The Eden Project

The Eden Project has long since been on my ‘To Do’ list and was one of the major reasons I wanted to go to Cornwall in the first place.

The iconic honeycomb-esque biomes are even more impressive in person than they are on TV or the internet. The vast structures loom up high and are surrounded by tall quarry walls which frame them quite picturesquely. Inside you become immersed in rainforest or mediterranean climes. My personal favourite was the rainforest with it’s curious lizards and partridges lurking in the foliage. The rainforest biome is also home to the Titan Arum which is an absolutely monstrous perennial herb with the largest collection of flowers in the world.

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Visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Probably the highlight of our entire trip, the Lost Gardens of Heligan delighted, inspired and sparked my imagination to its fullest.

These historic gardens are set on 200 acres of land and are truly impressive. Personal highlights for me were the incredible giant structures and the swinging rope bridge which had me feeling like a forgotten character in an Indiana Jones film. Seriously though, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is an absolute must if you’re going anywhere near Cornwall.

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Eat a Cornish pasty

Of course you can’t go to Cornwall and not sample a traditional Cornish Pasty! The first one we ate was at The Eden Project where we had to wait a (harder to digest) 40 minutes for it to be served! After that we stuck to the traditional bakeries where pasties and cakes are incredible and seem to (scarily) become a staple part of the holiday diet.

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…and Cornish ice cream!

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Go to the beach

I had heard good things about the beaches in Cornwall but even so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on one filled with golden sand, not a pebble in sight!

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…and look in rock pools!

I’m not sure why but I have always been fascinated with rock pools and peering in them to see what strange creatures dwell there. Even now at the old age of 27 I still want to stick my nose in them and see what I can find. I definitely spent more time than is probably acceptable just walking from rock pool to rock pool. I had hoped to see a Starfish but unfortunately that was not to be. I did see a lot of other interesting things though!

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Visit fishing villages

We really wanted to explore the fishing villages/villages of Cornwall and get a taste of what life is like on the coast. I think we actually did pretty well as on this trip we managed to see Port Isaac, Padstow, Fowey, Perranporth and Newquay! (Not bad for a Monday-Friday.)

Port Isaac is famously known as being the location for the TV program Doc Martin (although I didn’t personally know this when we went there.) Funnily enough when we visited they where filming a scene for this show and, as we rounded the corner Martin Clunes was just standing there which was pretty surreal. We were ushered to the side whilst filming commenced. Coincidentally Port Isaac is very picturesque.

In Padstow we ate the nicest fish and chips I have ever tasted and managed to locate a lucky pixie for my mum. In Fowey we ate hot pasties from the bakery and shopped in the independent little shops selling quirky mugs and bits and bobs.

It seems to me as if Cornwall is just one gigantic hill! Every village was treacherously steep to climb and certainly a workout for the calves.

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All in all Cornwall is a beautiful part of the world and I throughly enjoyed our little holiday there. I would definitely go back!

The Weald Park Country Show

I have never been to a country show before. I guess I’ve never really lived close enough to the countryside for it to be a thing. When we saw the Weald Dog and Country Show advertised, I wasn’t really sure what it was all about but I thought given the bank holiday weekend it might be nice to spend my Sunday doing something other than napping. (Although I did manage to find the time to do that too.)

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much was going on at Weald. As we entered I saw masses of tents, stalls, food vans and various ‘arenas’ seated out with straw bales. The atmosphere was lively, with lots of excitable dogs running around, people clutching boxes of hog roast and children with fistfuls of ice cream. I’m not usually a fan of overly busy or packed out events but Weald is a really big, open space and this country show was very well organised.

Naturally I wanted to see the cute farm animals first so we headed over to the stalls and pens that were owned by Gemma’s Farm. Honestly, it took all my willpower not to stuff my pockets full with adorable fluffy chicks. The Silkie chicks in particular really melted my heart. I’ve always wanted to own Silkies as they are such friendly balls of fluff.
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We stopped to watch a training exercise hosted by Canine Security. If I wanted a dog before this show it was only compounded further by this and the sheer volume of adorable dogs all around us. I must admit, the smaller ones did look particularly kidnap-able (but don’t worry, I didn’t steal any dogs. This time.)

Sheep racing was another fun event that drew a large crowd of mostly excitable children who were used as obstacles.

I definitely had a soft spot for Bellini who was just five weeks old, rather small and an absolute cutie-pie.

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The Weald Country Show had a really good mix of stalls, activities and events which made for a packed itinerary. We just drifted around however, catching shows as we passed them and sampling the freebies. It was really great to see lots of local businesses selling local produce and I was particularly pleased to see the RSPB stand recruiting members.

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One stall that we found particularly interesting was the Brentwood Model Boat Association. This quirky stall was packed with realistic miniature boats that were impressively detailed. I even spotted a tiny Steve Zissou. One man was driving a model boat on the big lake and it was fascinating to watch!

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We stopped for a bite to eat before watching the Motorbike Stunt Team perform in the main arena. This team consisted of a mother and son duo and although I’m not really in to the whole motorbike thing, I found myself really enjoying the show and cheering them on. This was clearly a crowd-favourite as a huge swarm of people gathered around the sidelines.

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And of course, no country show would be complete without a birds of prey display. Sadly we missed the main World of Wings flying event, however I was pretty happy with just observing the birds. I was particularly fond of the Tawny Owl.

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Another super-fun stall was one selling hats, gloves and accessories all made from Alpaca wool. To the side of this stall was a little pen with three alpacas inside. I have seen alpacas before but none as cute as these guys; I definitely wanted to get in the pen and give them a cuddle.

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On one stall we sampled the most amazing toffee vodka and fruit liqueurs. (I’m happy to report we purchased a couple of bottles.) I was also fascinated by the stall selling Antler cut offs (and I’m kind of regretting not purchasing one now. Not that I have any use for it whatsoever.) And of course, I naturally gravitated to the stall selling bath bombs and products.

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All in all we spent around three hours wandering around the stalls and watching the displays. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday and, as I mentioned previously, so well organised. I will definitely be looking out for more country shows to attend!

April Lust List

April has been yet another busy month for me. It has been a month filled with fun events and personal projects- and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Now that it’s May (I can’t believe how quickly this year is going!) it’s time to look back at what I have loved.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links.

The Woman in Cabin 10 book by Ruth Ware £7.99 from Waterstones.

I haven’t had a great deal of time to read this month so I’m ashamed to say I got through just two, maybe three books, squeezing in reading on my commutes to and from work. One book that I read and found absolutely gripping though was The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. The premise of the book wasn’t immediately catching to me, but my mum kept suggesting and recommending it so I thought I’d give it a go. I’m happy to report that I’m glad I did! The Woman in Cabin 10 is in essence, a sophisticated Whodunnit? set on a luxury cruise ship. Lo Blacklock, travel journalist is our protagonist and we follow her through her chance to make it big covering the maiden voyage of a boutique cruise ship. Things don’t exactly go to plan on board though, and one night Lo is awoken by the sounds of someone being thrown overboard. Lo desperately tries to find out who has been murdered but becomes increasingly frustrated and paranoid as cruise staff are stubborn and unhelpful. The book is a really fast-paced, tense read and it’s easy to consume it in just a couple of sittings. I really enjoyed the character development and the unsettling atmosphere that Ware creates. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of thriller.

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Magic Mushroom Bubble Bar from the Lush Kitchen

When the Magic Mushroom bubble bars were announced in the kitchen I was pretty excited. For one thing they look absolutely adorable (who doesn’t love a good Fly Algaric?!) and for another they are scented like delicious strawberries. Sharing the Yummy Mummy/Roller scent I knew I would adore these. I bought four (and as always wished I had bought more) and immediately fell in love. They are the most effective bubble bar I have ever used, creating huge swathes of bubbles that are super-soft and highly scented. You could easily use just half a bubble bar to create a wonderful bath however, I like the decadence of a whole bar.

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Montagne Jeunesse Manuka Honey Hair Rescue Hair Mask £1 from Primark

I have been a big fan of the Montagne Jeunesse face masks for years. In particular I love the honey face mask as nothing is quite as effective as that is at clearing my face up from a particularly bad breakout. Plus it smells amazing. Anyway, as I was browsing in Primark the other day I came across some new hair rescue masks by the same brand. Perfect timing really as my hair has been feeling super dry and damaged. I noticed they had a Manuka Honey mask so figured I would give it a go. All I can say is wow! These masks smell exactly the same as the face masks (absolutely delicious) and they really work. After using one my hair was left feeling so soft and nourished. I immediately went back and stocked up. I haven’t seen these in any other shops yet so if you want to give them a try I would definitely pop in to Primark. These have to be my beauty buy of the month.

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Lush Bee Tote Bag £4.50 from Lush

I popped in to Lush the other day to pick up some goodies and whilst I was there I noticed an adorable tote bag printed with bees. The sales assistant explained to me that it was made out of a recycled knot wrap and it had a little pocket in the front with in which it could fold itself. A big fan of bees and tote bags I knew I just had to it have it. This bag is a lot thinner than a usual tote bag so I don’t think I could use it for everyday wear however, I think I will take it along with me on trips to Lush and the supermarket. At £4.50 it’s great value for money and a cute little thing to have. I haven’t seen these online so you may have to pop in to store if you want to get your hands on one.

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Plush Ladybird Bubble Bar £11 from Plushies by Squishie.

Another Lush-themed item on the list is this incredible plush ladybird bubble bar by Plushies by Squishie. So, I have been following this maker over on Instagram for awhile now, admiring her fantastic creations from afar. However, when she announced she would be opening up an Etsy shop I knew I had to get involved and snap up one of her pieces! Plushies by Squishie creates plush versions of popular Lush products. The reason this is so great is that Lush comes up with the most adorable products and at times you can feel guilty using them, so instead end up stashing them away. With a plush version of your Lush, you can forever keep that little guy which enables you to use up the real goodies guilt free! I love the ladybird bubble bar because it looks great and smells wonderful, so the plush version was a no brainer for me! Such great care and attention to detail has gone in to this little guy. I will definitely try to buy some more when she brings them out again! I believe they sold out in a matter of hours so if you want one you’ll have to stay tuned for updates and be prepared to do a lot of refreshing!

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The Return of The Lucky Dip Club

Okay okay. So it’s not quite back in my life…yet. But Leona has just announced the return of our beloved subscription box and the new format sounds incredible! To test out the new postage options Leona sent out some Pinyatay goodies. More specifically, this cute little guy! I loved receiving this piece of happy mail and it has definitely made me feel excited for the May launch of ‘My Rainbow Life’.

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Pin Swapping and This Amazing Zebra Finch Brooch

This month I have been swapping enamel pins like nobodies business. It’s great to swap with other creatives and build up a cool collection of pins in the process! Anyway, when Lucky Dip Club held a swap shop over on their Facebook page I definitely thought I’d get involved! One of the swaps I made was with a woman who had this incredible vintage tin zebra finch brooch up for grabs. I was so excited to see this up in the swap shop as I adore zebra finches and keep many of my own. I even have a zebra finch tattoo! This was without doubt my favourite swap this month and I’m so in love with it. I haven’t worn it yet, and I’m not sure if I will as I’m very clumsy and don’t want to damage it. But for now it looks lovely sitting pretty on my chest of drawers!

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What have you been loving this month?

 

A Day Out in Southend-on-Sea (Plus a Competition!)

Please note, the following post has been sponsored by Essex Business School at the University of Essex. Please read through to the end to find out more about the fantastic competition they are running over on Instagram and for your chance to win £500 worth of Summer days out across Essex and London. All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and Southend-on-Sea is my personal recommendation.

Southend-on-Sea holds many fond childhood memories for me. Long, sunshine-filled days spent on the beach, skipping stones in to the sea, burning my tongue on hot, salty chips and returning home on the train with hands sticky from candy floss and sand.

That’s why, when the Essex Business School at the University of Essex asked me to pick one of my favourite days out in Essex, I immediately thought of the seaside town.

A short drive from us, Gareth and I decided to spend an afternoon exploring Adventure Island and building some more recent memories.

Upon entering the park we were hit by the smell of smokey sausages and burgers wafting up from the food stalls, the bright lights and sounds of playful screams carrying on the wind. It rolled over me like a wave of nostalgia and I was instantly transported back to the summer I spent with a friend, gobbling up candy floss like it was going out of fashion before riding the Scorpion eight times, only stopping to empty the entire contents of my stomach, (like some terribly misguided afterthought.)

 

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Although it pains me to admit it, I’m not quite as brave as I was was back in those days. Looking at some of the newer (admittedly slightly more impressive and scary-looking) rides I wondered how I would fare. Gareth is of a similar disposition so at the very least I felt in safe company. We decided to start things off small. And when I say small, I really do mean small; we got on the Kiddie Coaster (yes, that’s the actual name of the ride!) Sizing up the miniature roller coaster I felt pretty confident. 1. There was a queue of young children waiting to get on the ride, and if a young child isn’t scared by it, than nor am I (just who was I kidding?) 2. The ride doesn’t have any loops. Any terrifying vertical drops. No stop/start element to make you feel as if your heart is going to explode. 3. It lasts all of two minutes. Max. 

It was fine, really it was. Maybe I spent the entire ride holding on to the metal bar until my knuckles were white, my stomach somersaulting as I listened to the girl sat behind me (of about four) laugh and exclaim happily as my life flashed before my eyes but… it was fine.

Anyway after that we didn’t go on any more roller coasters and the day was all the more fun for it. I was happy to discover that the Crooked House was still standing and just as crooked as ever as this was always a childhood favourite. Afterwards we stumbled in to the sunshine disorientated and slightly dizzy. I’m not sure if Gareth really got it but you can’t visit Adventure Island without paying the Crooked House a visit, it’s a must!

The Big Wheel was a gentle ride that we both greatly enjoyed, especially as it affords views across the whole park and the sea. The giant spinning turtle (Archelon) swings were another firm favourite, making us feel really rather relaxed considering we were in the middle of a theme park!

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There’s an indoor element to Adventure Island that wasn’t around when I was a kid. This space has soft play and rides for younger children. I think this is a fantastic idea as when the weather turns and it’s not so warm there’s still something to keep the kids occupied. I have to admit, I’m a big fan of carousels so I definitely eyed up the shiny, galloping horses and wondered if it was socially acceptable to have a go. As the ride was aimed at children though I thought probably not!

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The great thing about Adventure Island is that no matter what your age it will reduce you to the mindset of a small, excitable child. After a fun (albeit exhausting) morning of dashing between the rides we decided to head out and have some lunch on the beach. And when you’re by the seaside there really is no better option than hot chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. The lunch of a well-adjusted adult, I promise.

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After lunch we decided to check out the Pier which extends an impressive 1.34 miles in to the Thames Estuary making it the world’s longest pleasure pier. Naturally we opted for the train.

I have never taken the train down the pier before so I was pleasantly surprised by the experience and how much I enjoyed it. The retro-looking carriages rattled down the tracks at a slow enough pace that we were able to really take in the views.

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At the end of the pier we were happy to spot Ruddy Turnstones (which we affectionately named ‘sea-quails’ because of their resemblance to one of our button quails.)  After a little research we discovered that the RSPB were protecting the Ruddy Turnstones at Southend-on-Sea so we felt quite lucky to see them!

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All in all we had a wonderful time at Southend-on-Sea. There really is just so much to do and see; truly there is something for everyone!

Competition time!

Now you have read about one of my favourite days out in Essex, how about sharing some of yours?

Would you like to win up to £500 worth of days out across Essex and London and have a fun-filled summer packed with adventure? The Essex Business School at the University of Essex are running a competition over on Instagram to find Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction. (And trust me, the prize is a good one!)

This competition celebrates the launch of the new and highly anticipated BSc Tourism Management degree in Southend-on-Sea. If you want to see the world with an international career in travel and tourism, it’s not too late to apply for October 2017 entry.

How do I enter?

If you’re aged 16-25, you have until 18 May to snap a photo of your favourite place to visit in Essex and post it on your Instagram. Make sure to name your attraction in the caption, and let our friends at the Essex Business School know why you love it so much. It could be anything; from your local park to the bowling alley. Maybe like me you love to spend a day by the sea! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #essexyouthtourism and tag @essexebs so they can see your entry.

The most photographed attraction will be crowned Essex’s Best Youth Tourist Attraction 2017, but the most creative, inspirational or fun photo will win the summer prize package. Follow @essexebs on Instagram to keep up-to-date with the competition and find out the winner!

For full terms and conditions please read here!

What’s the prize?

The winner will receive:

  • A pair of two day adult London Pass tickets with Oyster Travelcard 
  • Two Adventure Island Blue Annual Passes for Southend-on-Sea’s beachfront theme park 
  • Escape Live in Southend-on-Sea entry for four people 
  • Two Rollerworld Roller Disco tickets

Pretty great huh? So if you’d like your summer sorted this year, get your camera at the ready for some Insta-worthy days out!

 

 

Birds of Prey Experience Day

I just want to preface this post with an explanation; I will not be including the name of this organisation/company because although the experience wasn’t wholly negative it also wasn’t the best ever either. And I really don’t want to spread any bad vibes or tread on anyones feet – this is just my personal experience.

Anyway we booked in for this particular Birds of Prey Experience Day when we saw it advertised on Groupon at just £15 per person. Most Birds of Prey handling days are over double that in price so it seemed like a really great deal – especially for a whole two hours.

Now, myself and my partner have been to many aviaries, bird centres and bird experience days so we did hold a certain level of expectation. We have both held and flown different types of owl and hawk and have always enjoyed the experience so we were really looking forward to this one.

When we arrived we were instantly disappointed to find that there was over 30 people in our group. That’s about 20 too many if you’re wondering. We knew from the offset that with so many participants we would not be doing a whole lot of flying/handling of the birds. Another thing to note was that there was just one person on hand to show us the birds.

After a 40 minute introductory talk we were finally allowed to handle our first bird which was a brown chested barn owl. Barn owls are lovely creatures so I was quite happy to hold one again. We had to line up and take it in turns to have the bird fly to us (just once.) Unfortunately this process took a matter of minutes to experience personally and then another 30 odd as we stood waiting for everyone else to have a go.

Nevertheless the barn owl was a pleasure to hold and to fly.

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After flying the barn owl we flew and held a Harris Hawk. I have handled these before on a couple of occasions so again, this was nothing new to me but Harris Hawks are very lively birds and I enjoyed holding this one. Actually, as the hawk was much perkier this process took much less time than the previous and we probably each held the hawk for mere seconds before it was taken from us and instructed to fly to the next person.

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And in terms of flying/handling the birds that was it. I’m not going to lie; I was very surprised and quite disappointed that in two hours we were only able to hold two birds – eek! But as I mentioned earlier, the problem was that the event was oversold and there really was just too many people!

Next we were treated to some talks on different birds and shown a very beautiful Goshawk and Crowned Eagle. The remainder of the time was spent showing us these birds and educating us on how they are reared/handled and their numbers in the wild.

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The talks were very in-depth and informative and it was nice to see these wonderful birds up close. If I have one criticism though it’s that there was more talking involved than actual experience.

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All in all we had an enjoyable time holding, flying and getting up close and personal with the birds. However, I really don’t think I’d do this particular experience again as there are so many others out there that are much more hands on and personal. If you’re thinking of going on one of these experience days I recommend doing thorough research before booking anything!

Curious Calke Abbey

Firstly I just want to apologise for the weird publishing schedule lately; I have been incredibly busy and not putting out posts as frequently as I would like. Whilst there may be a few kinks for me to iron out, I’m going to endeavour to publish more content next month. That out of the way…

I am a big fan of impromptu trips and exploring places I haven’t seen before so, when we found ourselves at Calke Abbey on a sunshine-filled Wednesday morning I was very happy. Calke Abbey stands on the site of a medieval religious house and is a Grade I listed property that sits just outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch (AKA the home of Adrian Mole and KP.) The Baroque Mansion was passed in to the hands of the National Trust in 1985 and is affectionately described as ‘The Un-stately Home and Country Estate’.

As we were on a flying visit to Gareth’s hometown to partake in some early birthday celebrations with family members, we had the pleasure of visiting Calke Abbey with his parents which was lovely.

We started out with a walk through the grounds and up a winding hill to a wooded area, past an enclosure filled with beautiful fallow deer. As we walked we noticed fun sculptures of insects and animals which we guessed were part of a trail.

Gareth’s dad had mentioned that around this time of year the woods were filled with bluebells and, as I have always wanted to see the bluebells in Spring I was keen to take some photographs. We were in luck as the further in to the woods we walked the more we saw, the ground littered with a sea of flowers gently bobbing in the breeze.

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There are lots of different walks that you can take around Calke Abbey, and the one we took looped around in a circle that brought us up a hill then back down and around to the front of the mansion. I imagine I added quite a bit of extra time to that walk, stopping every so often to take photographs! Naturally I was particularly drawn to a tree filled with bird feeders and chirping. I was excited to spot a pair of chaffinches among lots of other garden favourites such as the little coal tit I managed to snap a photo of.

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After our walk we headed to the mansion. Entrance to Calke Abbey is £13.50 per adult. I think this is really reasonable and I would be more than happy to pay that for the whole experience, although on this occasion Gareth’s parents very kindly treated us to the day out.

I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect from Calke Abbey; I certainly didn’t expect it to be as intriguing as it was.

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Inside Calke Abbey we were immediately greeted with the site of dusty glass cabinets filled with curious taxidermy; stuffed otters with fish clamped permanently in their jaws, birds captured in mid-flight and impressive stag heads mounted to the walls. The first room was impossibly full with a wooden table at the centre set with tea things and a faux cake, a grey coat casually slung over the back of one chair. Something about this set-up left me feeling as if the room had only recently been left, as if the occupant would appear at any moment and resume tea. This left me deeply reminiscent of Dennis Sever’s house which is designed to leave you feeling as if you have stumbled upon one families abrupt exit from the property.

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On the first floor of the property the rooms are dark, lit only by lamps and flickering candles (fake of course.) There is a strange mix of opulence, disrepair and clutter. Each room seemed to be in competition with the last in terms of what it could contain. Threadbare armchairs and elaborate paintings in ornate frames sat side by side; it really was quite unique to see.

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In one room the contents of drawers from the Breakfast Room were laid out and displayed on tables. As we poured over carefully preserved insects, shells and other curios I couldn’t help but wonder about the family that had lived there and collected all this stuff with such earnest. I think that this was one of the rare occasions where a walking tour of the building would have actually been not only useful but extremely interesting.

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One thing that became obvious with each room was the inhabitants love of taxidermy.  I honestly think there were enough stuffed birds and animals on display to rival that of the Natural History Museum.  I particularly enjoyed perusing the cabinet of pheasants, even if the colour had somewhat been bleached from their initially vibrant feathers.

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I particularly enjoyed a room that resembled a tea parlour. (But really, I have no idea what the rooms purpose was.) With lots of little round tables and chintzy chairs, this dark room felt cosy yet strangely claustrophobic. I’m not sure if all the stuff was placed for us to view or if it was very much a part of the Harpur’s everyday life. The latter would not surprise me if it were the case; the sheer volume of possessions in the house would inevitably lead to clutter on every surface.

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The library was another room of interest. With shelves lined with impressive leather bound books, we were reliably informed that unlike most estates, the books were all completely readable and not fake. I particularly enjoyed the story of the Ostrich egg which was given as a 21st birthday present.

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Unlike the lower floor, the upper floors were in state of disrepair with peeling paint walls and original wallpaper that had somewhat succumbed to the damp. One ceiling looked particularly precarious with a great big crack through the plaster. We were informed this was being held up and suspended from above. Some rooms seemed to be mostly for storage, with old rocking horses, dolls houses and small nursery chairs stashed away to gather dust, unloved but intriguing all the same.

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We walked a loop of the house and ended back down on the ground floor and by a cold stone passage that led to the kitchen. This was a large, open room; still cluttered but this time with useful kitchenalia.

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In the kitchen I came across a little door that led to another side room. This room really made me think of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings and for me, was quite reminiscent of ‘The Room’. This is my favourite photograph from the day, it feels really characterful to me.

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We ended our tour with a walk through a cold, bricked tunnel and brew house, lit by an eery orange glow. As someone who enjoys exploring tunnels, caves and dark spaces I found this really interesting.

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Finally we stopped for tea and the most delicious scones I have ever tasted, complete with thick cream and sweet jam.

All in all Calke Abbey is a wonderful day out. Not restored but instead preserved, it is like stepping in to a time capsule and is deeply interesting. With its’ collection of strange and unique objects, I feel that Calke Abbey is the type of place you could visit time and again only to spot something different on each occasion. I really hope that I will have another opportunity to pay it another visit as this has been one of my favourite days out of 2017 so far.