Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Clay Pigeon Shooting

You can take the girl out of the country but you can't take the country out of the girl.

For quite a while now I have fancied trying clay pigeon shooting, and it was because of this that I decided to add it to my list of 40 before 40.  If it is one thing that I learnt from my 30 before 30 list it was that by having it, I was encouraged to get the things on it done. 

I knew I wouldn't find this easy.  Give me a still target and an air rifle, I'm fine.  Change that to a moving target and a shot gun you have a completely different story.

I was pretty impressed with myself that I actually managed to hit some of the clays, but I missed a lot more than I hit. 

I had only opted for 30 clays which I was thankful for.  My shoulder was a bit on the achy side after just a few shots, and I was finding that the gun I was using was really kicking back.  That said, it was well worth the achiness and the bruising I was left with over the next few days. 

It felt great being out in the open.  It felt as though I was returning back home again and reminded me just how much I miss living in the countryside.  Definitely a Sunday morning well spent and something to cross off the list.

~ Gem x 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Chunky Knit Blanket

I cannot tell you how long I have adored chunky knit blankets.  I have thought so many times about making one but had always assumed they would take me ages to make, especially as I get distracted so easily and it ends up taking me forever to finish anything.  However on spotting a workshop local to home I decided to sign up and make myself my very own chunky knit blanket.

The excitement of the workshop didn't end there though, oh no.  We were going to be arm knitting, something I didn't discover until we arrived on site and may I add, something I have also wanted to try my hand at for ages (although maybe that should be try my arm at, No? OK, fair enough, that was pretty bad). 

We were using 2kg balls of acrylic wool that feel ridiculously soft, and it is machine washable which is even more of a result.  Within 15 minutes it was already beginning to take shape.  By this point I was kicking myself as to why I had waited so long to make one, it was super easy and so quick.

I had made my blanket in less than 2 hours, that included a break for tea and cake, a very important staple when creating something I'm sure you would all agree.  I was honestly amazed by how quickly I was able to create this, and it is so cosy to sit under, perfect for the cold winter weather that has now arrived. 

The trouble I now have is that I want to make one in every colour possible.  Let' face it, you can never have too many blankets, but I do fear they wouldn't all get used and that would just be sad.

I apologise, I know this is far from the best of photos, however I just wanted to give you an idea of the size of it.  Definitely a couple of hours well spent.  And I am sure this will not be the last one of these blankets that I make.

~ Gem x

Friday, 17 November 2017


I'm still here.  I can't quite believe how long it has been since I last blogged.  It hasn't been intentional.  In fact I have quite a few posts in draft which I had intended to publish while I was away, I just never got round to finishing them.  I'll work on those over the next few days, plus a few new posts to update on all that has been happening in my world lately.  

I'll admit, there have been times over the last few weeks where I have felt as though I was living someone else's life.  And I'm not going to lie, I kind of enjoyed it.  It has been pretty amazing and some good progress has been made on crossing off a few things from my 40 Before 40 List, not something I had of imagined being done so soon.

Life has been kind to me and I'm loving it.  Let's hope it continues.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

November 2017 Bucket List

I can't believe we are almost at the end of 2017.  It feels as though the year has gone so quickly, but yet looking back to January it feels a life time ago.  Isn't it funny how it often feels that way.  A sign of getting older me thinks. 

With that said, in November I'd like to:

* Explore a new city.
Starting this month off in America is an added bonus and should all go to plan I shall be travelling to Chicago today.  It's a city I have always wanted to visit so I'm just a tad excited.

* Create a photobook of all my memories created in America
I'd really like to try and get some more of these photo books and one detailing my most recent trip would be a great memento of my time spent with Brook.

* Go to see a firework display.
I am the biggest kid when it comes to fireworks, I love them and literally find myself mesmerised by all the pretty colours falling from the sky.

* Prepare for Christmas
I'd love to get organised this year with my Christmas shopping, there is nothing worse than that mad rush at the end of December trying to find things to buy for people, I want to avoid that this year.   

* Begin reading my first Christmas book of the year.
The past few months has seen me increase the amount I have been reading.  From one book every few months to one book every 2 weeks, I'm more than impressed with myself so hopefully I should get in at least a couple of Christmas reads this year.

* Get in on the festivities
November for me is all about the build up to December which of course brings us Christmas, a time of year I am always excited for just in case you hadn't gathered this already.  Seeing the start of Christmas events, I want to make the most of them all this year and really enjoy it to the full.  I'm basically just going to try and cram in as much as I can to the last remaining months of 2017.

It's looking like a busy month.  Let's make the rest of 2017 amazing.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Let's Talk Pumpkins

There is something quite special about this time of year, and the tradition of decorating for Autumn is becoming bigger and bigger here in the UK.  Something adopted from our friends across the water in America and Canada, it is something I am extremely happy about.  Any excuse to dig out the decorations has me doing a little happy dance. 

The tradition of carving pumpkins is still rife, however there are so many other ways to decorate a pumpkin and with the help of Pinterest you'll know exactly what I'm going on about.  I love the fact that it isn't all about jack o lanterns now and that pumpkins represent autumn as opposed to Halloween. 

Last year I met up with Laura from Life by Laura for a little crafty get together at my place where we both opted to paint our pumpkins as opposed to carving them, who says pumpkins need to be orange?
We both started off with white paint, giving our pumpkins a couple of coats to ensure the orange could no longer be seen.  Then for me, I used a sponge to paint on gold polka dots.  Very pretty right!?

Laura on the other hand decided to take it to the next level and dug out the crayons and heat gun.  First gluing the crayons to the top of the pumpkins to hold them in place and then slowly melting the wax to create an amazing and colourful effect.  Great for adding a splash of colour in time for Halloween that's for sure.

Photo courtesy of Laura

A second design I chose last year was hollowing out a pumpkin, then spraying it completely gold and filling it with pink flowers.  It was perfect for a special little girls 1st birthday party and made for a great centre piece, plus it looked fantastic beside the white a gold polka dot design too.  

It just goes to show that a pumpkin can look just as good without having to carve it.

So how are you decorating yours this year?

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

My Annual Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

For the past few years now I have made sure a visit to the pumpkin patch is made around this time of year.  A tradition that has been brought over from our dear friends across the pond and one I am extremely grateful for.  They are definitely becoming more and more popular here in the UK.

I'm lucky to have one pretty close by to home in Basildon, Essex.  It is run by Foxes Farm Produce, you may remember that I visited them earlier in the year for their night time miaze maze.  They also have another site in Colchester.  If your close by it is well worth a visit, however I have seen a fair few on Instagram so they are pretty much all over the country now.

I'm not sure that I will ever tire from walking around looking at all the pumpkins, every shape, size and colour.  I literally just cannot get enough of them.

It always nice to be able to do something seasonal, not that I ever need an excuse.  Plus it felt great to be spending time outside in the fresh air too, something I feel that I've not been doing enough of lately.   

Being so early in the season I'm hoping to squeeze in another visit so watch this space.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Feeling Autumnal

I have written my fair share of autumn themed posts over the years and it is no secret how much I love this time of year.  There really isn't much more I can add to what I've already said about my love for the season, other than the fact that with each year it grows and I become even more obsessed and fixated with anything pumpkin related.

I did wonder about writing another autumn themed post and in the end decided to just go with it.  I mean I know I am not alone in my joy at this time of year. 

I have found this year particularly different to the past few years living in the city, a far cry from the rolling countryside that's for sure, but I will make sure I make the effort to seek it out when I can during my weekends.  I'd be telling the biggest lie though if I didn't admit to how much I am missing that old lifestyle, they really are worlds apart and you notice the seasons so much more when you are living amongst the wildlife and nature of the countryside.

That said I have been trying my best to make my living arrangements as cosy and autumnal as I possibly can, which considering my limited space I'm pretty pleased with what I have managed.  It's certainly helping to ease some of the longing of life in the country and I'm embracing the season for all that it has to offer.

~ Gem x

Monday, 2 October 2017

October 2017 Bucket List

With the arrival of Autumn now in full force I intend to make the most of this month and embrace the season as much as I can.  I've no doubt that this will be supported with my trip to the states later in the month, and to say I'm a little excited is an understatement.  

* Hunt for conkers.

* Visit the pumpkin patch.

* Have my own little autumn photo shoot.

* Decorate a pumpkin.

* Capture the beauty of the golden coloured trees.

* Experience tailgating.

* Go to see a football game (of the American kind).

* Dress up for Halloween and embrace the occasion American style.

~ Gem x

Friday, 29 September 2017

London Bucket List

Of all the cities I have ever visited London is still by far my favourite.  There is just so much crammed into the city that it is so easy to miss, hidden little gems tucked around street corners or out of sight high up on the roof tops.  I also feel that as it is somewhere so close to home it is easy to over look some of the more touristy ventures in London.  I know I have done a lot of things but with things changing all the time and others being over looked there is always so much more that I want to experience which is why I thought I'd create a little London bucket list to go with my 40 before 40 list.

The chances are I will be adding to it over the next 10 years, no doubt longer but for now the main things I'd like to check off my list in the city are:

1. Walk along the glass floor of Tower Bridge.

2. Have a drink at the Ice Bar.

3. Venture behind the clock face of Big Ben (if it ever re-opens).

4. Attend a London lates event.

5. Smell the flowers at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

6. Wander around Highgate Cemetery.

7. Dine at the OXO Tower.

8. See the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

9. Explore a part of London I've never visited before.

10. Dine at Aubine restaurant in Selfridges.

11. Climb to the top of The Monument.

If anyone can recommend any thing else I should check out or do I'd be more than happy to hear them.  You can never have too many recommendations.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Layer Marney Tower

If anyone were to have mentioned Layer Marney Tower to me at the beginning of this month I would have instantly thought wedding venue.  It would never have occurred to me to visit as a place of interest on a Sunday afternoon, however I stand corrected and on my quest to explore more of my home county a visit was in order. 

The grounds leading up to the main building are beautiful, the sheep grazing on the approach really adds to the character of the venue.

Walking in through the gift shop into the main courtyard you are greeted with the beauty of the building to your right hand side, the architecture really is spectacular. 

Looking into the old barn and then entering through into the gardens I couldn't help but fall in love with the place.   

It was when I walked into the main building and the tower itself that the feeling of love left me, almost immediately.  I started to feel quite uncomfortable, it was really bizarre, however I continued on up the staircase to tour the rest of the building.  I couldn't tell you what it was exactly that made me feel the way I did but I couldn't wait to get back outside into the gardens, it was so peculiar. 

I left with a mix of emotions.  There was no doubt it was a beautiful building from the outside but there was something about the interior that left me feeling somewhat cold.

Oddly enough it was later that evening after posting an image on Instagram that someone had commented about the Tower being featured on Most Haunted.  I wonder if that could have something to do with the feeling I had experienced, I've honestly no idea but it could explain a few things.

I'd love to know whether you have ever visited and did you sense any odd feelings?  I can't be the only one surely.

~ Gem x

Monday, 25 September 2017

Exploring Cambridge

I've visited Cambridge a few times before now but don't think I'll ever turn down an opportunity to return.  There is something about the place that makes me feel content and it really is a beautiful place to visit.  The architecture is stunning and there is a lovely atmosphere about the place.

Wandering around the streets and stepping into the university buildings I can't help but feel at home there.

Only being an hours drive from Chelmsford it makes the perfect place to visit for a day, however I'm certain with enough research there would be plenty enough to do for a weekend break, especially if you took into account neighbouring villages.

A good few hours were spent wandering the streets with something to look at around every corner.  A walk up to the top of the tower to take in the views from above the city, being able to take it all in from above the hustle and bustle was somewhat peaceful considering it was such a busy day down on street level.

It's a place that never ceases to amaze me, filled with so much beauty.  A true English treasure.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

What I've Been Up To Lately

Aside's from being mega busy at work recently, I have been keeping busy outside of work too.

You might remember last year (and the year before) I visited Foxes Farm Produce's pumpkin patch which isn't too far from home, well this year I was excited to see that they have launched a corn maze.  Sadly I didn't get round to visiting, that was until I discovered during their last weekend that they were open for a torch lit maze.  Having never been to a maze in the dark before I was excited to try something different.  It was a great night and very well organised so well done guys, great work.

An afternoon was spent with my Nan, we drove to Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn Garden City.  My Grandad used to fish there, so when he passed away we decided to buy a bench as a little memorial to him.  It is now a lovely little spot to visit especially as it was a place he loved so much, and it's even nicer when the sun is shining.  

And my first (second, third and fourth) pumpkin spiced lattes have been enjoyed.  I honestly don't think I will ever get sick of their taste, I literally cannot get enough of them.  They are certainly a welcomed treat to the start of my working day and already the staff in my local Starbucks are recognising me as I walk in at the same time each morning (I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not haha).

There is a definite hint of Autumn in the air and I have to say I am so excited about it.

~ Gem x