Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Warner Brother's Harry Potter Studio Tour

This time last year I had not seen any of the Harry Potter films, not one of them.  Fast forward a year and I have watched every one, some of them more than once and can now gladly say I have even been to the studios to see the movies come to life.

If you are a Harry Potter fan and have not yet been to the studios, then I suggest you get your tickets booked.  If you are not a Harry Potter fan, then I suggest you still book a ticket, because it is definitely worth going to see.

From the moment the tour started I was blown away.  I don't really want to say too much in a blog post as I really don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't yet visited and is planning on doing so.  But the work that goes into making each and every one of those films is just incredible.

Having walked round some of the sets and seen a lot of the props used on screen I can certainly appreciate the films that bit more now.  I've since sat down to watch some of the films again and somehow they now seem even better than when I first saw them.  Knowing that I have stepped foot on the very ground used for some of the scenes I now kind of feel a part of it in some strange kind of way.  It really is magic.  I cant imagine how great it must feel to have bene part of the crew bringing the books to life on our screens.  

I'm so glad this was added to my list of 'Thirty Before Thirty' and that I was able to cross it off.  It didn't disappoint that's for sure.  Especially seeing as I got to experience it with the biggest Harry Potter fan I know.

~ Gem x

Monday, 17 July 2017

30th Cake Smash

With this year marking a milestone birthday, I knew that I wanted to celebrate it in style.  Initially I set out to throw a party.  I booked the venue, the DJ, bought my outfit and started buying decorations and props.  It was only when I started to think about all the expense and the fact that in reality it was all for other people, I decided to do something selfish and instead change my plans to arrange something for me.

I started doing a bit of research, and this is where Pinterest becomes your best friend, you can literally find anything on there.  I came across a few different adult cake smashes and it was then that I knew what I wanted to do instead of throwing a party.  Who said that the kids should have all the fun with the new craze of birthday cake smashes?  Exactly, no one.  

I contacted Maryann of The Menagerie Lifestyle Photography and told her what I was thinking about, and thankfully she was straight on board with the idea.  

It was so much fun, although I have to admit it did feel rather strange just demolishing a cake, especially when I had put so much effort into making it look so pretty.  But for the photos at the end of it, it was totally worth it.

I'm so glad for the sudden change of plan, it will definitely be something I will remember that's for sure.  And who knows, maybe it could become a new birthday tradition.  Perhaps I should start researching for next year.

Big thanks to Maryann for the photos and for taking me serious and understanding exactly where I was coming from with this idea.
~ Gem x

All images were taken by The Menagerie Lifestyle Photography

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Epping and Ongar Railway

Over the past ten years I have been to a fair few steam railways but I have never visited the one closest to me nor have I ever dined on one before.  It has been something I have always wanted to do, it sounds so posh don't you think!

Last weekend the Epping and Ongar Railway were running their Poppadum Prairie, an evening on the railway with a curry served to your seats.  Being my birthday weekend it seemed the perfect night out.

We arrived early so that we could explore the platform and take a few photos (I know that sounds nothing like me, definitely not the early part anyway)

I loved the platform, all the little details and old fashioned pieces dotted about the place.

Once we boarded the train, I was a little disappointed, it wasn't as nice as any of the other trains I'd been on before which was a real shame, however the food was pretty good so I couldn't grumble too much.

The line is only very short, the journey to Ongar didn't take very long, I'd say probably around twenty minutes, so we did the journey there and back twice which wasn't ideal as there wasn't really anything to look at aside from the fields we passed but it was still a fairly pleasurable journey.

The stations were by far the best part for me though, with plenty to be looking at.

And of course as dusk fell upon us, the sunset kept me happy.

The Orient Express it was not, but it is something crossed off the bucket list.  I'd definitely be keen to try other railways though to see how they compare.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Thirty Before Thirty Review

It feels like a lifetime ago that I initially wrote my list.  So much has happened in the past year, more than I could ever have imagined and for that I have been really thankfully for having this list to focus on, something to take my mind off of an otherwise awful time in my life.  It has meant that my last year in my twenties has been filled with lots of happy memories, ones I will remember for a lifetime.

1. Climb the roof of the O2.
How I never achieved this one I'm not entirely sure, especially seeing as it isn't that far from home.  I'm definitely going to try and do it over the summer.

2. Cross something off my bucket list.
Dinner on a steam train.  Not quite the Orient Express, granted, but a nice evening never the less.  A blog post for this will be coming up in the next week.

4. Visit a lavender farm.
Such a relaxing and beautiful day, and that smell.

5. Go for a walk or a run in the rain.
I opted for the less strenuous of the two and went for a walk in the rain.  It was unbelievably peaceful, I loved every second even though I was absolutely soaked.

6. Ride in a hot air balloon.
I have booked this up so many times this past year and every time it has been cancelled due to the weather, so I will keep trying and just hope that I can do it soon.

7. Travel somewhere new.
A week in Tenerife, although I've visited other canary islands, this one was new to me.

8. Watch a film in an outdoor space.
No idea how I've missed this in previous years but I think it is safe to say the 3 visits this past year will certainly not be my last.

9. Improve my cooking skills.
I have  along way to go with this but little steps and there are definite improvements.

10. Start some form of exercise.
I started boot-camp for a couple of months at my workplace.  Hard work but surprisingly good fun too.

11. Get some henna.
Struggling to find somewhere to get it done I decided to try doing it myself.  not the best attempt in the world but an attempt all the same.

12. Try my hand at vlogging.
It's hard to capture this one in an image.  I have been playing around with Instagram stories and getting used to talking to a camera a bit more so I'm happy to have covered this one even if it's only slight.

13. Spend more time on myself.
I've definitely been doing more of this lately, and I have to say it feels so good.  It's something I want to try and keep up too, fingers crossed.

14. Dine at The Rooftop Bar in London.

Wow, how had I never visited this place before?  I'll never know.

Trying out a new tea room, not just new to me but actually a brand new business too.

17. Experience Christmas at Kew Gardens.
I was invited along to Kew for their press viewing of the show last year and I was blown away by the beauty of all the lights, it was lovely.

18. Spend at least one day by the coast.
A couple of days were spent by the coast this year, but the highlight oddly enough was close to home in Southend, with a breezy walk along the pier.

19. Pay a visit to London's Sky Garden.
I was quite disappointed with the Sky Garden's, it has really been hyped up and I struggled to work out what all the fuss was about, not sure whether I was missing something here?

20. Do something spontaneous.
I did a few spontaneous things this last year.  2 tattoos, one new piercing and a last minute visit to V festival.  It pays to be spontaneous, that I have learnt this year.

21. Grow something beautiful.
I've been growing sweet peas recently although they are still to flower.  But springtime saw a pretty hyacinth grown from a bulb adorning the windowsill which smelt just as gorgeous as it looked once it was in full flower.

22. Make something to keep me warm through my 30's.
Knitting a hot water bottle cover seemed to be the perfect thing to keep me warm, plus it was really simple to make too.  

23. Try a food I've never tried before.
I've been very open to trying new foods this past year, some I have hated but others I have been surprised about and have actually really liked.  I mean Blueberries, why did I think I would hate them?

24. Go and see a ballet performance.
I think the fact that I have added to go and see The Nutcracker to my 40 before 40 list shows that I enjoyed this one.  A live performance of Swan Lake had me absolutely mesmerised.

25. Travel away for a break somewhere alone.
Incorporated wit my Emma Bridgewater visit, this is something I would definitely like to do more often.

26. Find a new challenge.
Taking part in The Wildlife Trust's 30 days wild was a new challenge to get stuck into, but also starting my new job, that has been a whole different kind of challenge, but a good one all the same.

27.  Acquire a taste for coffee.
A massive tick to this one.  Especially Starbucks flavoured coffees.  Soon enough it will be Pumpkin Spiced Lattes time again, quite possibly my new favourite time of the year.  Not to mention the red cups, who need an excuse for coffee really but lets face it, when they come In pretty cups they are even more tempting.

28. Watch the Harry Potter films.
As if this time last year I had never seen any of the Harry Potter films, where had I been?!  You can all now rest assured that I have seen them and yes I loved them.  

29. Visit the Harry Potter studios.
There will be a blog post about this coming up very soon.  I absolutely loved the studios and can't wait to watch all the films again, this time in a completely different light.  It was incredible.

30. Make a list of 40 things to do before I reach 40.
I'm pleased to say that I have already started making plans with this list, and am excited to get started on crossing things off.

That's it, I've done it (almost).  Not a bad year at all, one that has been filled with so many memories that's for sure.

~ Gem x