Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Emma Bridgewater Factory

I have long wanted to visit the Emma Bridgewater Factory, especially after seeing so many photos across Instagram and Facebook over the years. However living in Essex it isn't exactly what you would call, 'around the corner'. I decided to add it to my list of 30 things to do before turning 30 with the thought that I'd have an entire year to plan a visit.  On reviewing my list a couple of weeks ago I began to panic that this trip was not going to happen, until I changed my mind-set and thought, well why not! 

It made perfect sense to pair the trip along with something else I had added to my list and that was to go away for a break by myself, another thing not yet completed.  So I booked the day off work, booked myself a hotel and confirmed my decorating studio and tour slots with the factory.

After a somewhat shaky start to last Sunday, my bag was packed and I headed off on the drive ahead.  As soon as I set off the excitement set in, I literally couldn't wait to get there and on arriving at the hotel it took me no time at all to unpack and settle down for the night.  I even made use of the hotels pool and sauna (it would have been rude not to).

Monday soon rolled around and my time to explore the Emma Bridgewater had arrived.  Driving up to the factory I was really surprised by it's location, I kind of expected it to be in a fairly quiet part of town which was not the case, not that it was a problem.  The factory has a large car park to the rear so for anyone travelling by car parking will not be an issue.

Walking from the car park into the courtyard I was really shocked by the sheer size of the factory, it is much bigger than I had ever imagined it to be.  Once in the courtyard I entered the seconds shop ready for my tour to begin.

It was amazing seeing the amount of work that goes into creating each individual piece and being able to see the whole process from start to finish.  I've never seen anything like it before, especially not to this scale.  Being given this insight into the workings of the factory really was quite special and has made me appreciate the work created by Emma Bridgewater and her team even more than I did before.  The tour itself lasted for an hour which will give you an idea of the size of the place, and at £2.50pp it was incredible value for money. 

My favourite part by far was the painting studio, watching the pieces come to life with a wash of colour was just beautiful.  Of course after the tour had finished I had to have a go myself and so picked out a tea cup to paint with my own design.

As the trip was part of my 30 before 30 challenge it seemed appropriate to create a little memory fitting with the occasion.  I can't wait to receive it fired and glazed in the post.  

Painting completed I wasn't quite ready to leave the factory so decided to have a wander around the courtyard which was then I discovered their little cottage garden and wow, I was literally blown away by it's beauty.  It was a little haven complete with the most gorgeous flowers and the cutest little chickens too. It was like a dream.  Oh how I would adore a little garden like this.  One day, I'm not giving up on the dream, not now not ever.

Why I have left it so long to visit I am not entirely sure but I am so glad I've been and seen it all now.  If you've not yet visited the factory, you ought to.  It was such a great morning, one that I shan't be forgetting for a long time.  

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Hatching Butterflies

Without change there would be no butterflies - Wendy Mass

One of the things I had on my list of things to do before turning 30 was to hatch butterflies.  Having never done it before and rarely seeing butterflies around anymore it seemed a good thing to add it to the list and I can happily say that I am so glad I did.  I bloody loved it.  

I ordered my kit via Insect Lore and having received my butterfly house I was able to send off for my caterpillars online through their website.  

Once the caterpillars had been delivered I was astounded by how quickly they grew.  I knew the process that was involved in the caterpillars journey but I was really surprised at how quickly they grew.  I guess when they are in the wild you don't see them from start to finish.  

26th April

5th May

13th May

Of course the best part of the whole process had to be the butterflies themselves after they had emerged from their cocoons.  I was mesmerised and literally spent hours sat watching and photographing them.  They truly are beautiful creatures and it is amazing to think that they have grown from teeny, tiny, little caterpillars.

22nd May

Release day soon came along and it was mixed emotions on my part for sure.  I really didn't want to let them go but the thought of them flying around  in the wild was somewhat heart warming, besides it was also the right thing to do.  

I've not got a clue where the idea came from for me to add this to my list, it isn't particularly something I've had a desire to do before, but something in me must have known it would be a good thing to do.  If you are a lover of nature and all things pretty then I would definitely recommend giving this a go, especially if you have children as I'm certain they would love it too.  The exciting thing for me is that although these beauties have flown the nest, I currently have another four cocoons in my office at work that we are eagerly awaiting butterflies to emerge from.  I sense this becoming rather quite addictive.

~ Gem x  

Monday, 5 June 2017

30 Day's Wild

I can't tell you how much I miss living in the country.  How much I miss not having a garden I can wander out to with my morning cup of tea and chickens at my feet. 

For this very reason it seemed all the more important for me to sign up to this years 30 Day's Wild run by the Wildlife Trust.  Feeling somewhat detatched from wildlife each day I thought this would encourage me to open my eyes to see discover that nature is still at my fingertips.  To embrace it and to make other people aware of exactly what is around us, even in an urban space.  Whether it be on a walk to work or a drive somewhere not too far away, I know it is there, I just need to let it in.

I've created a list of some of the things I'd like to achieve over the next month, a little challenge if you like.  If I manage all of them I'll be made up but even to manage to complete just a few will make me happy.  A few of the things from my list are:

Discover urban wilderness.

Watch a sunset.

Picnic in the wild with the birds.

Make a daisy chain.

Wander through a flower meadow.

Paddle in rock pools.

Wear a flower in my hair.

Go on a nature scavenger hunt.

I'm going to try and log my progress on Instagram using the hashtag #gems30dayswild if you fancied checking it out.  I'd also appreciate any suggestions of things for me to try during the month, I'm always open to suggestions.

It is still open to join too so if you fancied joining in pop over to the Wildlife Trust's website to sign up for your free pack.  If you are going to join in do let me know as I'd love to see what you get up to.

~ Gem x

Friday, 2 June 2017

June 2017 Bucket List

I will be completely honest with you and admit that each month that passes, these lists become harder and harder to create.  That said, I don't intend to give up on them just yet, I can't guarantee that they will be very interesting, but I will try my best.

* Take part in the Wildlife trust's 30 days Wild Challenge ~
This month I have signed up to participate in the Wildlife Trust's '30 Days Wild' challenge.  There is  a blog post about it coming up on Monday so pop back for that.

* Finalise some plans for my birthday next month ~
I was planning a party, I'd booked the venue and the DJ, but with one thing or another I've now cancelled it.  Now I just need to organise something else to do instead.

* Motivate myself to blog more ~
Need I explain?

* Print some of my photos ~
I did this last year and I'm so glad I did.  It is so much nicer having printed photos to look through rather than just flicking through them all on the computer or your phone.  I vowed then that I would do it more often but I still haven't, so that's a job for this month.

* Make a start on my Thirty Before Thirty scrap book ~
I thought it would be a nice idea to create a scrap book of all the things I've managed to achieve from my list of Thirty Before Thirty.  I'm making real good progress with the list and it would be great to have a lasting memory of all the great things I've done in a book of sorts.

That should definitely keep me busy for a while.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Struggle is Real

I've been really struggling to find my voice recently.  Blogging has been feeling a lot like a chore and it shouldn't be that way.  I have found myself in this place many times before and I know there's always a light at the end of the tunnel and I do feel as though I'm reaching it, but I do still wonder whether my time here may be up?

I struggle to see where my blog is headed, what direction it needs to take.  Since moving from the country into the city I've found it hard to know how to continue in this space.  I'll be honest, I'm really surprised I've managed what I have.  The trouble I have is that I know my situation isn't about to change anytime soon.  With that in mind I need to either call it a day or pull myself together and focus.  I'm swaying more towards the latter purely because I enjoy writing and I have put so much time into this space that it would be a real shame to let it go.  It may just mean that things will look a little different around here. 

The important thing for me is not to put too much pressure on myself.  I feel that I am still getting to know myself after everything that has happened.  It's like I'm not entirely sure who I am anymore, which may sound strange to anyone else who may be reading this.  The only way I can even begin to explain it is that we live in a society of labels.  A Mum, a Dad, a Husband, a Wife, you get the gist.  Only I feel like I've lost my label now, it's been taken away from me, something completely out of my control and I'm still in that re-adjustment period where I'm getting to know the real me.  It's all part of the process I know that, and I understand that it is going to take time.  I've just got to roll with it, because at the moment it is all that I can do.

As I'd mentioned in my May bucket list, I have a fair few posts sitting in my drafts, although after reviewing them some seem irrelevant now so will most likely be binned.  However I do have some ideas of future blog posts so I intend to publish those real soon.  Until then thank you for bearing with me.

~ Gem x

Friday, 5 May 2017

A Piece of Cake

Last week we celebrated my Nan's 80th birthday.  Now this isn't usually the type of thing I would share on my blog, however the cake that I ordered to help us celebrate was far too good not to be talked about.

I mean come on, look at it.  I had to try one of the pebbles pretty much straight away because I couldn't get over the fact that they were edible, it looked so life like.  I can assure you everything you see was edible, (minus the wire holding up the flowers).

(Excuse the raindrops, we got caught in a downpour on the way into the house)

If you are local to Essex I cannot recommend Steve's Sweet Catering enough.  Amazing service, and exactly what I was after, in fact better than I could have imagined.  

And my Nan, well she loved it.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

If You Go Down To The Woods Today...

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise.  At least I hope you will be, with the thousands upon thousands of bluebells that are springing up all over the country at the moment.  

I can't get enough of them.  They are absolutely beautiful and they smell amazing too.  Seeing a blanket of purple across the floor beneath the trees, listening to the birds singing their song, at that moment in time I feel weightless.  It's my happy place for sure.  

I've been making the most of seeing them in one of the local woods near me with a few visits over the past couple of weeks and I'll be sad to see them disappear for another year.  I wonder whether I'll be able to squeeze in many more visits, who knows, but I know I shall try.

~ Gem x

Monday, 1 May 2017

May 2017 Bucket List

Today marks the first of a new month and even better it's a bank holiday here in the UK.  I intend to make the most of the extra day off work with copious cups of tea and some down time with my book plus anything else that I can manage to squeeze into my day.  As for the rest of the month I'd like to:

* Get up to date with blogging ~
I have quite a few posts sitting in my drafts at the moment, I'm hoping to change that in the coming weeks

* Focus on my 30 before 30 list ~
I'm very conscious that time is slipping away from me and before I know it July will be here so I'd really like to try and get some more things from the list crossed off this month.

* Get creative ~
I can't remember the last thing that I made.  I have seriously lost my creative mojo so I intend on working to get this back this month.  I have a couple of projects in mind.

Not too much to focus on this month, but there's enough to keep me busy.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Week in Tenerife

I've not long returned from a week spent in Tenerife.  Having never visited the island before it gave me the opportunity to cross off #7 from my list of thirty before thirty (travel somewhere new).  It felt so good to be exploring somewhere I'd not been before, especially when the weather was so amazing, we had glorious warm sunshine every day.

We had booked into the Muthu Grand Golf Plaza hotel in San Miguel de Abona.  If asked whether I would stay there again, I'd have to be honest and say no.   Although the hotel was lovely, I failed and hadn't done enough research prior to the trip, it wasn't really near anything.  Personally when on holiday I like to venture out and try out different restaurants, the hotel wasn't in walking distance to very many of them and those that were close by weren't the kind of places I fancied trying, which meant our options were limited.  The food at the hotel was ok, your typical buffet style food really but with a different theme each night it did add variety and mix it up a bit.

A couple of days were spent catching the rays by the pool at the hotel, but for me a holiday is all about exploring what the country has to offer.  I don't really feel as thought you can say you have been somewhere unless you have actually seen it, and so for us we spent a lot of time on the road driving around the island to see what else was on offer.

Being a volcanic island the landscape is rather dull, however every once in a while it surprised us with a breath-taking view.   During a drive through the mountains to visit Garachico we were at one point above the clouds, quite possibly one of the most surrealist moments I have ever experienced.  We twisted and turned our way around the roads, through pine forests and past sheer drops into the ocean.  It was breath-taking in more than one respect at points but well worth it for the sights that were seen. 

Aside from the beautiful views that we enjoyed during our drives out around the island, the biggest highlight of the week for me had to be the water park, Siam Park.  I bloody loved it, so much so we visited a second time to spend another day here.  It reminded me in many ways of Orlando, somewhere I've not been too for a long time but really want to visit again.  The layout was really good and the rides were all fantastic.  I hardly managed to take any photos while I was here as I was far too busy enjoying myself so you will just have to trust me on this one.  If ever you visit Tenerife, this place has to be on your list of places to check out.   

Another thing you must do is order yourself a Barraquito, a traditional Tenerife drink made with condensed milk, coffee and liquor, my god it is to die for.  These things are absolutely delicious.  I ha enough of them to know.

If I were to ever return to the island, top on my list of places to visit would be Mount Teide and the National Park, I'm not quite sure why we never got here but the week practically flew by.  The rest of the duration would most likely be spent at Siam Park to be honest, I loved it that much.  The shopping centre next door is worth checking out too, it was a really good way to fill an evening and get rid of some of those euros you have taken out with you, with high street shops such as H&M and Mango plus lots of other really great fashion stores. 

Have you visited Tenerife before?  Would you say there is anything I have missed out, somewhere I should have visited during my stay?

~ Gem x