Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Freshwinds Camping

Did you all have a lovely Easter?  The weather was a bit of mixed bag.  Beautiful warmth and sunshine on Friday and then it kind of just went downhill from there with the arrival of storm Katie.  We spent our weekend back at Freshwinds Campsite, thankfully staying in their Shepherds Hut, I don't think I could have coped in a tent. 

It was beautiful and cosy in there with the stove burning away.  In fact at times it was too hot, but I wasn't going to complain.

On Saturday night it poured with rain, boy did it rain.  I don't know about you, but I find there is something quite special about sitting and watching the rain from the warmth of inside.  

When it wasn't raining we spent time on the farm.  We had hoped to see some lambs being born, but sadly there were none.  I'm so grateful for the experience we had lambing last year, I'll never forget it.  

The cows seemed happy enough with the extra attention though.

And when we needing warming up after hanging out on the farm, cups of tea were enjoyed back in the shepherd's hut.

It was a lovely weekend and great to catch up with our friends who's farm it is.  Hopefully we will be back again soon to see some new arrivals.

~ Gem x 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Past Week

Happy Easter.  I come to you under a mountain of chocolate Easter eggs (in my dreams).  Why is it that you can't get chocolate bars that taste like Easter eggs?  They have their own unique taste, does anyone else find that or is it just me? 

The Easter decorations are up.  I just couldn't find it in me to put them up earlier this year.  I'd not really been feeling myself, so they were quite late going up, but they made it in time so all is not lost.

I also managed to squeeze in some Easter baking with a Creme Egg Brownie creation.  I made this last year, it went down well so I figured I'd give it another go.

An evening spent in London meeting my all time favourite author Cecelia Ahern.

Plus a gorgeous dinner out with James and the start of a trip away to help friends on their farm, but I'll share more about that later in the week.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone.

~ Gem x

Friday, 25 March 2016

An Evening With Cecelia Ahern

I honestly cannot believe that I am actually typing this post.  I have mentioned on many occasions on this little ole blog here of mine, how much I love Cecelia Ahern's books.  I absolutely adore her work and feel so inspired by her words.  There is always something quite magical about her stories, something that I have never come across with anyone else's work before. After speaking to fellow blogger Sophie (who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year), about book events at Waterstones, I have been finding myself trawling their events page on a regular basis.  So you can imagine my excitement to spot a Q&A session with the award-winning, bestseller author Cecelia Ahern. I messaged Sophie straight away and our tickets were booked.  

The Q&A was focused on Cecelia's latest book release and her first young adult novel, Flawed.  What I've heard about it so far sounds incredible.  It definitely sounds like it's going to be one of those books that is going to make you step back, asses and think about life. 

The inspiration for the book is very much everyday life, I'm looking forward to reading it and trying to work out what news stories it's related to.  It amazed me to learn that she wrote the book in just six weeks.  When I look at what I achieve in six weeks it doesn't feel like much at all, this woman writes whole novels.  402 pages in just six weeks.  Wow, I really need to up my game.

I was really surprised to learn that Cecelia still hand writes all of her books.  The first draft is done with pen and paper, she then types this onto her computer, giving it the second edit, chapter by chapter.  I loved her definition of this being that her first draft comes from the heart.  I honestly believe that this is so true from reading her books.  There is certainly something quite heart warming about them.

Having two of her novels already created into films, P.S I Love You and Where Rainbows End (Love Rosie) I was keen to find out if any of her other books are destined the same way, I'm pleased to report that yes they are.  The one that I am most looking forward to is If You Could See Me Now, I shall be keeping my eyes peeled for that release.  

I can't say that I expected anything less, but she is so down to earth, the kind of girl you could imagine being your best friend.  She came across so professional but at the same time knew how to have a laugh and goofed around a bit, I loved that.  She just interviewed so well.  I don't know if any of you would have seen the Lorraine show yesterday morning, but literally what you saw there is what you get, that's the real deal.  Just an ordinary woman with an incredible imagination and a passion for love and writing.

It was an absolute honor to be in her company and I wish her the very best of luck with her latest novel (to which the sequel 'Perfect' has already been written and is due for release 30/03/2017) May there be many more fantastic books to come, I know I for one will enjoy reading them.  Her work will never get old in my eyes.  I mean come on, she wrote P.S I Love You at the mere age of 21, things can only going to keep getting better and better, the woman is a pure genius.  

And please, I urge you, if you have never read any of Cecelia's work before, you have to.  You are missing out if you don't.

Thank you to Cecelia and the team at Waterstones in Knightsbridge for an amzing evening, I had a great time.  Any event with cake gets my vote,
~ Gem x

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Norpar Easter Barn

Having visited Norpar Barns on numerous occasions, I was yet to visit their Easter Barn, well until Saturday that is.

It was just as I had imagined, bright, colourful and oh so pretty.

I love how they colour co-ordinate their displays.  It makes it so much easier to shop and is very pleasing on the eye too.

I could spend hours there, admiring all of the little decorations.  Near enough everything is my style, so I could also spend a fortune.  

It must take the staff ages to set it all up but it is so worth it.  It all just looks so delightful. 

The days have already started getting longer, all we need now is for the weather to warm up a little bit and spring will have well and truly arrived here in the UK, and I am so ready for it.

~ Gem x

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Princes Room Restaurant

Wednesday evening I was invited along to The Princes Room restaurant for a special evening of live music and canape tasting.  

The restaurant is located within Chelmsford College in their Princes Road campus and is run by their catering students.  It is open to the public during term time, Wednesday - Friday lunchtimes from 12-2 or Wednesday evenings at 7pm.

I've eaten there a couple of times for evening dinner and can't recommend it enough.  The value for money is incredible.  A three course dinner, made freshly from fresh and locally sourced produce for £13.95pp, you honestly cannot go wrong.   

This particular evening the level 1 and 2 students were working with Tom Gore, a top chef from a London restaurant (The Brewery), to re-create a menu of canapes that is usually served at The Brewery.

The quality was no different to what it usually is.  Attention to detail was on top form and the food tasted delicious.  So much so, that I barely took any photos of the selection that was served to us.  What I did manage to get were those that I took in the kitchen, the rest of the evening I was far too busy eating it. 

The students did an amazing job and should all be very proud of themselves.  As a customer there is no way you could tell that the food had been prepared and cooked by students, it really was fantastic.

The live music added a really nice touch to the evening and helped to create the perfect ambiance to the event.  Great work to everyone involved in the evening, I had a great time.

~ Gem x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Past Week

A bit late in the day posting this, I wasn't going to post it but then I figured why not, so here it is.

The weather has been much more spring like this week, although still a bit nippy, but spring is definitely in the air.  Coming home from work to see a sunset like this was very much welcomed. 

My spring bulbs has come into full bloom this week.  They were a gift from my Nan for Christmas.  I do like seeing things I've planted come to life.

A day trip to London to visit the Spring Country Living Fair which I blogged about on Friday.

An amazing dinner at The Princes Room in Chelmsford, where students were hosting a canape evening.  You can read more about it on the blog tomorrow. 

Then finishing off the week nicely with a stop at Norpar Barns to check out their Easter Barn.

I hope you have all had a great week, here is hoping that the next week is just as good.

~ Gem x

Friday, 18 March 2016

Spring Country Living Fair

If you follow me on Instagram you will already know that I spent my day on Wednesday in London at the Spring Country Living Fair held at the Business Design Centre,  I've previously visited the Christmas version of this event but never the spring fair, so I was intrigued to discover what was in store.

Entering through the main doors and looking up I was greeted by the colourful rows of pastel bunting, strung from the ceiling, such a lovely sight.  Lowering my gaze I was struck by the beauty of the gorgeous garden designed by Lucy Summers.  The garden inspired by the beach, included pastel coloured beach huts, a beautiful bike and a small boat filled with beautiful flowers.  Also planted within the garden was the introduction of 'Midnight Mystic' black hyacinths.  I felt very privileged to be seeing them during their first day of public viewing.  Thompson and Morgan started off the species with 3 bulbs costing £150,00 and have taken over seven years to get to the current stage of production, such a great achievement, it's very rare to be seeing such dark coloured blooms.

Located behind the garden was a small seating area which hosts a number of talks throughout the day.  These talks vary from day to day, but definitely worth checking out if you are planning a visit.  I stopped by to check out Georgie Newberry from Common Farm Flowers demonstration of garden floristry which was very inspiring.  Talking through different materials available from our gardens to use in floristry displays all year round.  Even after completing a floristry course a few years ago, it made me think twice about the materials that are available to us in our gardens.

From here I wandered around the stands.  Taking a look at all the stunning works of art created by the designers.  Seeing how much time and effort had been poured into their creations and seeing how proud they are of their wares.  Being able to talk to them about their work, something you don't really get through the internet. One stand I spent a particularly long while at was Ashley Thomas.  Such a lovely lady, I could of stood talking to her all day.  I took a long time gazing at her stand, I honestly wanted to buy everything, her work is incredible.  She painstakingly draws every tiny little detail even down to the repetition of her patterns, to then be transferred onto fabric for cushions, tea towels or wall hangings plus notebooks, greetings cards and mugs. 

I also bumped into Jane Means who you may remember me taking a course with early last year.  I admire her work so much, she is such a talented lady, and her ribbons are to die for.  Such vibrant colours and fantastic quality.  Her stand looked amazing, all the little details with the teeny tiny wrapped parcels dotted around were super cute, I loved it.

Another feature of the show is the Country Living Spring Theatre.  On Wednesday it was host to some very inspiring speakers, including Liz Earle and Jan Constantine, talking about their journey in setting up their business and sharing some pointers with the audience.  Hearing that with hard work and dedication anything is possible left me and I'm sure many others in the room, feeling pretty inspired.  For the remainder of the week the talks include: capturing the good life, turning a hobby into a business, how to be self sufficient and designing and decorating a country home to name but a few.    

One thing I didn't get round to trying was the craft workshops on offer, sadly I just ran out of time.  But it was good to see that one free craft workshop was available to each visitor to the fair and there are some great workshops available to try out.  I personally quite liked the sound of the block printing or the chocolate Easter bunny, maybe something for me to try at home perhaps.  I'll have to do some investigating and YouTube watching I think.   

It really was a great show.  You could tell the organisers had worked really hard at putting it all together, but the hard work paid off.  It is well worth a visit, if you are in or around London the fair is open until Sunday.  It has certainly got me filled with the joys of spring.  

~ Gem x