Friday, 30 December 2016

30 Before 30 Half Way Update

Time seems to be passing by so fast lately.  Not only are we at the end of another year but I am halfway through my last year in my twenties, which seems an appropriate time to do another update on my 30 before 30 list.

My last update was the first quarter back at the end of September and I am pleased to report that since then I have crossed more off my list.

In my first quarter I had crossed off #4 Visit a Lavender Farm, #8 Watch a film in an outdoor space, #10 Start some form of exercise, #20 Do something spontaneous.

This second quarter I have been able to cross off:

#2 Cross Something Off My Bucket List.
Skating at Somerset house is always something I have wanted to do.  Finally getting round to booking it and visiting this Christmas was amazing.  Sometime you worry that things won't live up t your expectations but this was just as magical as I'd always imagined it to be.  

As you may have seen from my blog post earlier this month, I managed to visit Kew Gardens at the end of November to experience the sights of Kew under it's Christmas spell and it was pretty magical.

# Try a food I have never tried before.
There have been a few new foods I have tired, the one that really sticks in my mind is Mussels.  I absolutely hated them though, but I tried them and that in itself is a milestone.

#27 Acquire a taste for coffee.
I have been drinking coffee regularly now.  I've fallen in love with the Christmas coffee's in Costa and Starbucks but also really like the chilled coffees you can buy in supermarkets.

Again, as in the last update, there are a few points I have touched on but I don't feel happy to say that I have fulfilled them entirely, so for now this is it.  Slightly worrying to have only crossed 7 of the 30 points off the list but there are still 6 months to go and I am determined to do it.

~ Gem x

Monday, 26 December 2016

Christmas at Center Parcs

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  It's all just over so quick isn't it?!

Christmas was always going to be a little different this year after what had happened earlier in the year, and so as a family we decided to go for something completely different and I have to say, so far it has been an amazing idea and I have loved every second.  (Yes check me out, a dedicated blogger, I am writing to you direct from Center Parcs)

We arrived on Friday to a very festive check in booth.  As we weren't able to get into our lodge we decided to head straight to The Pancake House to start the weekend off as we intended to carry it on.  It is Christmas after all.

I love the effort that has gone into making the place feel festive.  There are fairy lights practically everywhere and an air of festive spirit about the place which just makes it feel all the more magical.  I love Center Parcs at the best of times but Christmas time is amazing.  

We've not done all that much as far as activities go, although a few of us have hired bikes and myself and my sister in law did try out a tandem (absolutely hilarious, and thankfully didn't end in anyone getting hurt).  There has been lots of walking, lots of eating, and swimming (isn't the pool one of the best bits of Center Parcs?!) and generally just spending time together as a family which in my opinion has been pretty special.   

I'm sure by the end of the trip I won't want to go home, which is usually the case whenever I visit Center Parcs, but then that is all the more reason to book up to come back again.

That's all from me for now.  I'm off to make the most of the rest of my trip.  Happy Holidays.

~ Gem x

Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas

A very quick post from me today to wish all of my readers a very merry Christmas.

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, it is a good one.

My bags are packed, the car is fully loaded with the Christmas CD ready to be played as I head to Center Parcs for Christmas and I couldn't be more excited.

There are sure to be some updates from me on my Instagram, but on the whole I intend to be making the most of the time away with loved ones.

Have a great Christmas.

~ Gem x


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas at Your Front Door

One thing I love about this time of year is seeing how people decorate their doorways for the season.

Seeing homes that look like they should be gracing a page in Country Living magazine.  So festive and welcoming at this special time of year. 

I couldn't help but snap a few during my walks recently. 

How will you be decorating your entrance way this year?

~ Gem x

Monday, 19 December 2016

Home Christmas Tour

Christmas is a little different this year, setting up my decorations in a different place felt strange, but it does feel good to have them around me during the run up to the 25th.  It wouldn't feel like Christmas without them.

I had hoped for a slightly taller tree this year, as the flat has really high ceilings.  But the taller they got, the fatter they got, so I had to make do with a 7ft tree, which is still pretty amazing.

I've been very good and have restrained from buying many new decorations, it's been really hard though, believe me.  I love Christmas and always find the shops filled with so many beautiful decorations at this time of year.  If I could buy them all I would, but this year that just wasn't possible. 

The one and only new purchase has been for this window display.  Paper snowflake pom poms from Poundland and some gorgeous star lights which I have admired on Pinterest for years.  Finally having amazing windows to hang them from I just couldn't resist them. 

So the decorations are up and almost all the presents have been bought.  All that leaves now is to wrap them and enjoy the festivities of the season.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Skate Somerset House

I've been ice skating in London a few times around Christmas in the past, however one rink that I have always wanted to visit was Somerset House.

It always looks so grand and so pretty with the huge Fortnum and Masons Christmas tree.  I've always left it to late to get tickets in previous years but last weekend I manage to get hold of some and was able to witness the scene for myself .

It truly is just as stunning in real life as it is in the photos you see.  I'm so pleased to be able to cross this off my December bucket list, especially as it's somewhere I've wanted to visit for years.

It does get booked up pretty quickly though, so if it's something you are wanting to do this year, you'd best get your skates on (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist) as tickets are already selling out.

~ Gem x

Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas at Kew

A couple of weeks back I was lucky enough to be invited along to Kew Gardens for the preview evening of their annual event Christmas at Kew.

It is an event I have wanted to visit for a good couple of years now, I've even added it to my list of 30 before 30.  Looking at the images on social media in the past, I have been blown away by it's beauty. I won't lie, I was a little worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations and I would leave at the end of the evening feeling somewhat disappointed by it all.  I needn't have worried.

As soon as we reached the entrance gates the sound of carollers filled the air and the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree enticed us in to discover more of what Kew had to offer. 

I loved every second of the evening.  Around every corner we were graced with yet another beautiful display and endless twinkling lights.  I felt like a kid in a candy store, I am a sucker for twinkling lights.  

The trail flowed so well, you could tell a lot of thought, time and effort had been put into organising it all.  It really capsulates the Christmas spirit and walking around, hot spiced apple in hand, I felt so festive.  Now in it's fourth year, I'm not surprised it's an event they decided to bring back again and it's definitely an event I'd like to see back in the future. 

For anyone around the London area I would say it is a must see this Christmas.  It is just the ticket to get you in that festive spirit.

~ Gem x   

Friday, 2 December 2016

December Bucket List

As if it's the last month of 2016 already.  In all fairness I will be glad to see the back of this year.  It has been somewhat of a shit sandwich, starting and ending well but with the most awful middle, one I'm very glad to put behind me. 

I'm wanting to end the year on a high with those that I hold dear to me, those who have supported me through thick and thin and that without them in all honestly I don't know how I would have coped this year. 

* Go to a carol concert ~
I'm a big fan of Christmas carols so I'm looking forward to spreading some Christmas cheer (and singing loud for all to hear)

* Spend Christmas with my amazing family ~
We have our moments, what family doesn't? I honestly don't think they realise how incredible they have been for me this year though, especially my Mum.  I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with them this Christmas

*Check out the ice rink at Somerset House ~
I've wanted to go here for years and have never got round to it.  I'm fed up with wanting to do things and not doing it, so I'm hoping this is one thing I can change this month.

*Soak in the Festive atmosphere ~
This is a no brainer right.

*Go for a Christmas Lights drive ~
I love driving round and checking out everyone's Christmas lights.  It's something I've often done with a good friend of mine so it would be nice to try and fit this in this month too if I can.

I hope you all have an incredible December.  Let's see this last month out with a bang.

~ Gem 

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Saying Goodbye to the Orchards

I knew that the day I'd have to say goodbye to my little home would be a sad day.  It's a day I have dreaded since moving in, back in February 2013.  It's a day that is almost here.  That day is tomorrow.

It has been a journey full of ups and downs.  Lots of incredible memories that I will treasure forever, but also some of the saddest times of my life.  Times I never imagined I would ever encounter.

Meeting the most incredible lady,  Mrs Pudney.  She had lived there since the second world war.  She was posted to The Orchards as a land girl, fell in love and married the farmer and lived there for the rest of her life, right up to the grand age of 94, such an inspirational woman.  I miss her dearly, her stories were just fascinating.   

The past three, almost four years, has given me that taste for country living and it's left me hungry for more.  I know that it is the lifestyle for me.  Who knew I would become such a lover of chickens, such funny little characters giving us the most delicious eggs I've ever tasted. 
I may not be moving straight into the next step of that country dream but I know it is in my future, it has to be, I will make sure it is. 

It has been a really tough few weeks, going through all of my belongings and evaluating what I have.  It makes you wonder why you hold on to some things.  It has given me a lot of time to think about who I am and what I want from life.  The one thing I want more than anything though is to be happy.  I intend to work on that, doing things for myself and living for the moment, because if I've learnt one thing this year, it is that you really don't know what is round the corner. 

So as the season moves to Christmas I'm determined to embrace it.  You'll be seeing a lot of Christmas themed posts about the place and I'm going to be looking forward to what lies ahead, whatever that may be.  But the one thing I do know for sure is that I will forever hold a place in my heart for The Orchards, my little piece of country life and I will be eternally grateful for the experience it has provided me with these past few years.

~ Gem x

Friday, 18 November 2016

Christmas with LUSH

I blogged last month about the blogger event I attended at LUSH Romford.  Back then it seemed just a little to early (even for me)  to talk about their Christmas range.  Now we are mid way through November and I can't refrain from talking about Christmas any longer as you at have noticed from my article published on Wednesday.

The range this Christmas is pretty special with some favourites from last year returning and a few new products being introduced.  Take a look a just a small selection of what's in store.

 Peeping Santa bubble bar.

 Luxury Christmas Pub bath bomb.

 Father Christmas bath bomb.

*New* Santasaurus reusable bubble bar (my favourite newbie this year)

 *New* Ruby Red Slippers bubble bar.

 Butterbear gift set (perfect for the little ones this Christmas)

*New* Jester reusable bubble bar

I am loving the Christmas range this year and have stocked up with a pretty big collection, and there is still plenty more that I could happily buy. 

So if you're stuck for gift ideas this Christmas, pop into your local Lush store, I'm sure you will find something for just about anyone in there.

~ Gem x