Friday, 30 June 2017

Maison Bleu Tea Room Review

Happy National Cream Tea Day.  Yep, if ever there is a day to celebrate, today would definitely be it.  Tea and cake, what is there not to be happy about.  That said, today also seemed to be the perfect opportunity to share with you a new tea room discovery.

Last Saturday I enjoyed the most incredible breakfast with the bestie in the cutest little tea room.  Visiting a tea room I often find it hard to order anything but a cream tea, I'm actually beginning to think that it is a staple in my diet.

This little gem is fairly tucked away in the middle of a residential estate so it could be easy to forget about (until you've paid it a visit that is).  From the moment we walked through the door we were made to feel so welcome and right at home.  Nothing was too much trouble and the husband and wife duo were just amazing hosts.  

The d├ęcor is really modern with something to look at in every direction and with a cute little courtyard garden that is a real sun trap, it is well worth a visit.

If that wasn't enough to tempt you, the milkshakes should be.  I went for the cappuccino milkshake and oh my did it taste incredible.

I will definitely be going back, that's for sure.  They run a monthly craft club on the second Tuesday of each month and a book club on the first Thursday of each month so I'd like to try and check those out when I can too.  Any excuse hehee.

~ Gem x  

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