Monday, 21 July 2014

Basket Making at Freshwinds and and Evening Barn Dance

In my last post I told you all about our stay in the Tiny House at Freshwinds camp site.  The reason we had chosen that particular weekend to visit was for the reasons in my title.  James had booked me a place on their basket making workshop for my birthday.  It also just happened to be the same day as their annual barn dance to raise funds for Farm Africa, which we have both heard so much about but had not yet been to, so that would soon be put right.

I love baskets and if I'm honest had never really given it much thought about how they are made.  I was looking forward to learning all about it and can tell you now that I have completed the workshop I will never again look at a basket in the same way.

I was really pleased top discover that Jen from the blog Freshwinds Garden was on the workshop with her sister Paula.  I've followed Jen's blog since our first visit to the camp site so it was lovely to be able to spend some quality time with her and get to know her some more.  She has already blogged all about our workshop, you can read about it here.

I never imagined it being as difficult as it was.  It is very hard on your hands and in years gone by it was a trade for the men, it was thought that women were not strong enough to make baskets (I hate to say it but a part of me can understand why)  After making the base for the basket, I struggled to be able to push the pieces of willow in far enough to ensure a strong basket.  Thankfully John who was running the workshop was on hand to help out when needed.

There were so many different techniques needed to complete just a standard basket, the skill needed really is incredible.  The hardest part for me had to of been the rim of the basket.  I'm glad that came at the end of the day, I would have been really put off if it had of been the beginning.  I can't see it being a craft I will be taking on.  I'm glad I've tried it but I think I can safely say my basket making days are done.  

John was a great teacher, we all ended up with a completed basket.  the great thing with these craft workshops is even though everyone is making the same thing, they always turn out to be slightly different.  Funnily enough the four of us all ended up with the same colour pattern, not intentional, just how it turned out in the end :)

Once the workshop was complete me and James headed into Hastings to grab a bite to eat.  It was then time to head back and set up camp for the night before the barn dance started.  Accommodation was not as luxurious as the previous night, oh no.  We pitched up with a tent in the field with all the orphaned lambs, they seemed very taken with our tent, fortunately we still managed to get a good nights sleep.

I loved the barn dance, a lot more than I thought I would.  Once I got over the initial fear of dancing I actually really enjoyed it.  So much so that I didn't get any photos :(  Jen however managed to get loads so if you want to see more of this.........

Photo taken from Freshwinds Garden blog.

Then pop on over and read her version of things and take a glance at the rest of her photos here.

Back soon.

Gem x x x

Monday, 14 July 2014

Another Visit to Freshwinds Camp-site

This weekend saw another visit to Freshwinds Camp-site in Pett near Hastings.  If memory serves me correct it was our sixth visit but there may well have been more.  It is definitely beginning to feel like a home away from home.  Tim and Anne who run the camp-site are so welcoming, their hospitality never ceases to amaze me, it is always a pleasure being able to go and visit them.

We were really lucky to be able to stay in their new Tiny House on Friday night.  This takes glamping to the extreme.  There are no other words for it except lush.  I could actually live in something like this, one thing is for sure, it would make an immense craft room.  I've already discussed this with James ha-ha.

It was kitted out with everything that you would need for your stay.  From crockery and cutlery to bedding and pillows, all the way through to a china set with teapot, cups and saucers.  Oh and did I mention that it has its own gas hob and kitchen sink.  There isn't anything that Anne hasn't thought about.

No fumbling around for torches in the night and traipsing across a wet field for the toilets in the dark, oh no, solar panels means that it has lights, and it also comes with its own compost toilet inside.  Perfect :)

The shower was incredible, if I am being completely honest, it was even better than my own shower at home.  The bed was really comfy too.  The bedroom area being upstairs on a mezzanine floor feels so separate from the rest of the living quarters, the space has been divided up and used so effectively.

I love the tiny house, I didn't want to leave.  I've already asked Tim & Anne if we can rent it and live in it permanently, if not I may have to consider squatting.  i mean come on, who wouldn't want a view like this from their bedroom window?

All I can say is if you are going to be visiting the area and are looking for somewhere to stay this NEEDS to be on your list of options.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

Check out their website for prices and availability and to book your stay.  they also have 2 yurts, a tipi and a shepherds hut or you can camp in your own tent in their camping field.  I may see you down there some time.

Gem x x x x

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Norpar Barns

I really want my blog to represent what is going on in my life right now.  I find it hard to find the time to blog as regularly as I used to, but I'm determined to make more of an effort to blog regularly and to catch up with what is happening right now in my little world.  There are still quite a few posts in the pipeline but I thought I'd fast forward to the weekend that has just passed and my visit to Norpar barns in Navestock, Essex with my bestie Marie.

I've visited once before but not all the barns were open, I'm glad I re-visited, and will be going back again, especially once Christmas time approaches.

We started off by mooching around the flower and gift barn and then headed off to the summer tea barn for a yummy cream tea.

If your in the area, I'd recommend a visit, even if just for the cream tea, it was lovely.

Beautiful miss matched china and yummy food.

And gorgeous surroundings.  We picked a lovely little table by the window, the view was perfect.

There were even some welcomed little visitors.

I secretly wanted to sneak them home in my handbag, they were so cute.  I'm not sure my girls back at home would agree though, I think they are quite happy as they are.

It is a lovely place.  I'd love to have something like this myself, I would literally be in my element.  I'll update you with the Christmas barns once they are open (a little while yet I know, but it will be here before you know it, and you all know how much I love Christmas hehee).

~ Gem x

Monday, 7 July 2014

Elderflower Cordial

Okay, so yes this post is way overdue but I figured I would type it up anyway, at least you can get yourselves prepared for next year.  Plus the fact I took great pleasure in taking lots of pretty pictures of the ingredients, it seemed a shame to keep them all to myself.

I have never made Elderflower cordial before and have often drooled over fellow blogger's pictures of the pretty stuff in years gone by.  When we moved into our little house I was delighted to discover and Elderflower tree in our very own garden, but what with one thing and another I seemed to miss the Elderflower season last year.  Although the Elderberries were lovely, I was determined not to miss the flower this year.  I've not been doing my seasonal bucket lists recently but if I had of been this would definitely of been on my summer to do list (makes mental note....Must start doing those lists again).

It has such a summery smell, very floral and fragrant, providing it isn't too over-powering, then I'm not so keen.

The sugar helped with the smell, boiling that up for a while made the kitchen smell very sweet.

Then of course there were the lemons.  Not many things say summer like lemons.

And washing all the flowers was a pretty job.  I felt like a proper country housewife making this I can tell you.

But then I had to boil it all up together and then I really wasn't too sure.  It looked very pretty but the smell, hmmm well I didn't like it.   It was so strong, it made me feel a bit sick.  I stuck with it though.  After it had boiled I had to leave it for 24 hours so it the pan it stayed.

I bottled it up the next day and took my first taste.  I was gutted, I hated it.  James quite liked it though, unless he was just being polite.  At least I can say I've tried it, I'm glad I made it but I shan't be doing it again, I'll just stick with the berries in future.  In the excitement of it being finished I forgot to take photos of the actual drink, sorry, but your really not missing all that much.

I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website, I have used many of their recipes for various other things before and have always been impressed.  Give it a go, you may like it and if not, well you can say you tried as well :)

Gem x x x 


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Afternoon Tea at the Grims Dyke Hotel

Having travelled back and forth between Essex and Harrow for my entire life, to visit my grandparents, I fell upon this hotel with my Mum & Nan for the first time last month and I seriously feel as though we have been missing a real treat.  This place is gorgeous.

It is so tucked away you could easily drive past it without really knowing that it was there.  It has a large entrance but the driveway goes on for quite some time and it twists and turns through giant trees, so you literally feel as though you are driving to the middle of no where.  But anyway enough of the driveway, let's talk about the hotel and more importantly the afternoon tea because we all know I love a bit of tea and cake (who doesn't?)

The hotel was very grand, I love this kind of style building.  It was originally built in the early 1870's the style of it just screams elegance.

The gardens were delightful too.

We took a table outside overlooking one of the gardens, the weather was glorious, perfect for afternoon tea on the terrace.  It was so peaceful and if I'm honest with you it is a lifestyle I could seriously get used to.  

We went for the traditional afternoon tea complete with sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and cakes.  It was delicious.

After eating we decided to take a walk through the gardens.  They really were pretty and there was something different to focus on at every step.

It was a perfect afternoon spent is wonderful company.  I'm sure we will definitely be visiting again some time soon.

Love Gem x x x x

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Superdrug: On Our High Street's for 50 Years

This year Superdrug is celebrating it's 50th birthday.  It is a well known shop that can be found on most high streets.  To mark the occasion they have launched some limited edition products to celebrate.  I was kindly sent a selection of these to try out.

I've never been one for pampering or beauty products and tend to use the same things month after month.  So what better excuse then to try something new.

Of all the products the mascara is probably my favourite.  Easy application, no clumps and it lasts all day.  You could say it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Next favourite product is the face mask.  Who doesn't love a face mask?  For someone who isn't a pamper kind of girl even I tend to do the odd mask every now and again, and the peel off ones are my favourite.  I get a great deal of pleasure from these.  It smelt lovely.  There is nothing worse than applying a face mask for it to absolutely stink and knowing that it has to stay on for a good five minutes for it to do anything, I hate that, but this was very pleasant so all was good.  After using this my skin felt extremely soft.  It is something I will be using again.

The nail polishes pretty as they are, are not really my kind of style so I have only used them on my toes. The glitter is very well proportioned and gives a great effect once the polish has dried.  Perfect for those summer sandals.

I don't wear lipstick so the lip is going to be a difficult one for me to test.  I had thought about trying it out when I have my make up trials for the wedding and mentioned to my Mum about it.  She knew the product I was talking about straight away and told me how she used to use it years ago when she wore lipstick (she doesn't tend to wear lipstick any more) so that settles it, this will be one of my beauty must haves for my big day, keeping those lips looking luscious ;p  

You hear (and see) so many horror stories about fake tan and having tried a few products before I have always tended to steer clear.  My skin is very pale, it would always be nice to have a bit of extra colour so I was keen to try this product out. However I still haven't plucked up the courage to try it but I will and when I do I promise to give it a review here on the blog. 

The only product I haven't tried and am not likely to try any time soon is the hair colour remover. My hair is natural, I've only ever dyed it once before and that was quite a few years ago, so I don't think I could give this product a fair try even if I did use it.

For the products I've not yet tried, I will be reviewing them once I've given the a go so do check back to see how I get on.

Love Gem x x x x

N.B Although I have been given these products to try all opinions are my own.