Thursday, 30 May 2013

Welcome to RHS Chelsea

For the past few years there has been one week in May that you would find me in front of the TV watching all that the RHS Chelsea Flower Show had to offer and this year was no different.  I have always wanted to go but had never managed to get tickets (I always left it way too late and by which point they had all sold out) and this year that did change.

My Mum managed to get tickets for the both of us for the Friday and I couldn't wait.  I made sure to tune in to the BBC last week in the lead up to us going.  I wanted to see what was on offer this year and make a mental note of what I didn't want to miss. 

Come Friday morning I was so excited.  I was finally getting to visit somewhere I had wanted to go for years.  The heavens had opened though, it literally rained all day  and it was so cold, it honestly felt like winter, but we didn't let that bother us, we still made sure we had a great day.

As we entered the gates of the Royal Hospital the fragrant smell of flowers hit you, it was gorgeous.  I made a point of inhaling that smell, it really was beautiful.  Looking around us we really didn't know where to begin.

It was nothing like I ever expected.  There were so many companies there with stalls selling things, I don't know why but I had never imagined there would be anything like that there, I had always thought it would just be flowers and gardens, but it really was so much more.

We started off looking at the Artisan gardens.  They were so much smaller than I ever imagined, it's amazing how big they come across on TV, they literally were tiny.

My favourite was probably the NSPCC, What Will You Leave garden.

I also loved the Cath Kidston shed, the lawnmower outside was gorgeous.  I was a bit gutted that the paint on the grass had been washed away by the rain.

After the Artisan gardens we moved onto the Main Pavilion.  It was filled with every flower imaginable.  The displays were incredible.  So much time and effort had been put in to it all and every small little detail had been thought of.

I came away from the Pavilion with so much inspiration and so many ideas floating around in my mind.  There are loads of things I would like to try out in my own garden at home.

We moved onto the main show gardens next.  I not a huge fan on the modern designs, the more traditional gardens were more my kind of thing.  My favourite of these had to be the Arthritis Garden.  I'm not usually a fan of sculptures in a garden but the designer really captured the feelings in his sculptures, I loved them. 

I also really liked the Homebase garden, and the Centenary garden, this particular garden came with the added bonus of Alan Titchmarsh being in it filming for the BBC, who bless his heart, posed for a photo.

It really was an incredible day, one I won't be forgetting for some time that is for sure.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go and will definitely try and get tickets to go again.

We didn't get to see everything.  Our ticket only allowed us entry from 3:30 which personally worked out quite well as a lot of the people that had the all day ticket had started to leave as we were arriving, I'm pretty sure the rain would have had something to do with that (but it worked in our favour so I wasn't going to complain) perhaps next time I would look at getting the full day ticket too just to have more time to wander round, but for a first visit, it was brilliant.

I'm already looking forward to next year :)

Love Gem x x x x

Monday, 27 May 2013

Essex Young Farmers Country Show

For a few years now I have been looking for a country show that lives up to those that you always see on TV, especially after seeing Kirstie Allsopp's series a couple of years ago.  I have been to a few village country shows but to be honest they have always been a big disappointment so I have often wondered if it is worth going to those that are local to me. 

Since moving into our new place we have been trying to take the country life in our stride.  We have been growing our own in the garden - more about that perhaps in another post soon.  We have been trying to buy locally - there is a farm shop at the top of our lane which we use regularly, if not that one we use the Tiptree farm shop in the village.  We have also been trying to support local events, so on seeing the Essex Young Farmers Country Show we were keen to see what it was all about. 

It's definitely the best one we have been to.  It covered quite a bit of land.  There was loads to see and do, with lots of local producers there, and those that weren't local were relevant which was good.  It was really busy, and when we pulled into the car park we were a little worried but because of the way it was all laid out and the fact that it was spread across a lot of ground, you didn't really notice it once you got inside.  It was so well organised, even getting out again at the end took no time at all, which usually at those kind of events you find yourself sat in your car for hours (quite often longer than the amount of time you spent in the place) so hats off to them there.

I was keen to check out the competition tent with the baking and crafts and what not.  It was a bit disappointing, especially as the rest of the show seemed so good but they had given it a go and some of the categories were quite interesting.  my favourite had to be the welly boot decorating.  I mean come on, this is just genius, it's no surprise it won first place.

I'm glad we went and would definitely go to another of their events.  I have been told about another country show by a friend which is being run for a local charity in July.  I'm hoping to enter some of their competitions.  I'll blog about that afterwards and tell you how I got on.  Wish me luck, either way it will be an experience :).  I'm just hoping it will be a good show, this one has got some beating.

~ Gem x

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Early Preperations

I know a lot of you are going to be cursing me now for saying this but already my thoughts are heading towards Christmas.  For years I have been saying how I would love to make more hand-made gifts and every year I fail to do.  I always end up leaving it to the last minute and run out of time or I don’t have a clue what to make.  Well this year that is going to change, why?  Well because I’m preparing already.

A couple of years back I made an advent calendar for James, last year I made another one for his niece.  This year I will be making more.  I have already received one request to make one so I am planning on making a few to sell, possibly a few more filled with presents to give to friends as their Christmas present. 

 For my first calendar, I made the numbers for each pocket using felt and a machine to cut the numbers out individually, it took ages.  So last year I thought I’d get a bit savvy with it and buy some ready-made numbers from eBay.  There were so many different sellers to choose from it was impossible to know what was going to be the best.  I opted for one seller and ordered 2 batches of numbers in 2 different colours, that way I could make 2 calendars and chop and change the number colours throughout. 

 I paid for the numbers along with 2 lots of postage fees.  The package was sent using eBay delivery with Royal Mail.  I know a lot of people have experienced problems with Royal Mail but I must say I have always found them to be reliable and am yet to experience any troubles (touch wood I’ve not jinxed that now)   I was expecting delays with it being in the run up to Christmas but I was wrong.  They arrived quickly, within a few days which I thought was very impressive, however it had all been sent in one envelope amounting to a lot less than the postage I paid – not so impressive.  I probably should have contacted the seller and complained but in all honesty I had a lot going on and just never got round to it.  It is something that I have become wise to though, it is a big bug bear of mine, charging people for something they are not using or not getting, it is a bit cheeky if you ask me and it is definitely something I will be more cautious of when buying on eBay and similar websites in the future.

 So for me now, it is off to get some more numbers and start sewing some advent calendars ready for the big event J

 Love Gem x x x x

 N.B. This is a sponsored blog post, however all wording and opinions are that of my own.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wedding Floristry

I mentioned in my last post how I have returned back to college.  Some of you may remember that I started a college certificate in floristry back in September.  My last class was back in November.  I was going to be returning back after Christmas but with news of the bungalow I thought it might be best to take a term out and return back again after Easter and that is what I have done.

This term is wedding flowers.  I was pretty excited about doing it, especially as me and James have been in deep conversation about our own wedding hopefully next year. I was keen to get started a learn some more about flowers and ways they can be used in weddings.  being a huge fan of flowers I am hoping for lots of arrangements for the big day.

The first week was buttonholes.  I have used the techniques needed for this before so I found it quite easy. 

I was rearing to go for the second week.  We were making a corsage.

Definitely harder than the first week.  Every leaf and flower you see here was wired individually, it took ages but I was really pleased with the finished design.

I wasn't too keen on the bow, we were told to add it into the arrangement but I left mine out, I just preferred it without.

The third week has so far been my favourite week.  I loved the flowers we used, the colours and the final design.  I love it.

It is a pew end.  Could also be used as a table centre piece though, I quite liked it on our dinner table.  A favourite by far.

Week four was a prayer book spray, that could also be used as a hat or bag corsage.  books are quite popular at weddings now to use as decoration, so I quite liked this idea.

And finally week five.  A bridesmaid's pomander.  I quite enjoyed this one, surprisingly simple, and it came together pretty quickly too.

I'm loving having this one hanging on my bed at the moment.  It looks so pretty.  Not a bad sight to wake up to of a morning :)

We have got 2 weeks off now, so there won't be any more photos of flowers for a couple of weeks, unless I find the time to make something at home.  I doubt it, I'm struggling with time at the moment, but I'm working on it so you never know, watch this space.

Love Gem x x x x

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Journey on A Steam Train

Where to begin.  I seem to have taken another bloggy break, completely unintentional.  Life just kind of got in the way.  The past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind.  So what have I been up to?  Well I've started back at college.  I missed a term out when we moved into our new home, now that we are settled in I have returned but I will tell you more about that in another post. I've also had a weekend away.

Myself and James enjoyed a weekend camping in East Sussex.  We have been to the campsite on numerous occasions before, and have enjoyed every one of them, which is why we always end up going back.  We were so lucky with the weather, especially being a bank holiday (let's face it, British bank holidays are known for their bad weather)  We arrived late Saturday afternoon after having to run a few errands which took longer than planned so it was a case of setting up camp, heading out for a short walk then settling down to make dinner.

We made the most of a full day on Sunday, the sun was shining and so we hopped into the car and made the short drive to Bodiam.  It is a lovely little place with gorgeous grounds around the castle.  We have been there before and on our last visit we spotted the steam train leaving the station and made a pact that we would pay it a special visit next time we were over this way.  I'm so glad we kept to it.  We really did have a wonderful day.

We got the train to Tenderdon, somewhere we have not visited before.  The journey took around 40 minutes, the views across the countryside were spectacular, with plenty of fields filled with sheep and their lambs, gorgeous rape fields, and wetland filled with swans. 

On the way we stopped at a number of old stations, each one looked amazing.

I was pleased to see that Tenderdon was also an old fashioned station, of course I had to get a little snap happy (as you do).

The village was also a beautiful place.  We wandered round the shops.  It was lovely to see so many independent stores too, you don't get many of those anymore.  We felt as though we could of wandered round for hours but it was soon time to catch the train back to Bodiam.  The train on the way back had a first class, carriage so we upgraded our tickets and made the most of it.  I felt as though I was on set of one of those costume drama's, it was fantastic.

We passed their Pullman, serving Sunday lunch.  We have said that is next on our list of things to do.  We have both said about it before, there really is nothing stopping us now :)

It felt great to get away for the weekend.  It was nice not having to worry about the housework, or the washing and being able to spend quality time together again.  We both needed it.  now we are just waiting for the next opportunity.  I hope it comes around soon, I could do with a break ;p

Love Gem x x x x