Thursday, 16 August 2018

Dreamland ~ Margate

I've really struggled to write this post and on numerous occasions have actually wondered whether to publish it or not.  I don't like writing negative reviews but feel that this one could potentially be justified in saying that perhaps I may have visited a little too early.

After seeing a fellow blogger's post about Dreamland last year it has been on my radar as somewhere to visit.  It's not all that far from home in Essex and on a good run can be reached within an hour and a half with no traffic.  I loved the colour and vibrant look of the place, and the fact it had a real retro appearance to it, I had to visit.  At the beginning of July, the time came for that visit.


On arriving at the entrance I was charged £16, this didn't include the roller-skating as stupidly I had forgotten to take socks with me and being a hot day I was wearing sandals (proper school girl error there).  This was the only option I was given and so I merrily paid the amount.  The park didn't appear to be overly busy which was really nice.  There was plenty of space walking around and this gave the opportunity to take in all the quirky little pieces dotted around the park which really did give it a retro feel it looked to have in the blog post I had read previous to visiting.  


The first ride we decided to go on was the Big Wheel as we thought this would give a feel for what was in the park and also an opportunity to check out the views.  Considering the park seemed pretty empty there was a fairly big queue but nothing too serious, I would say around 30 people were ahead of us, I assumed with it being a ride that's able to take a large capacity of people we wouldn't be waiting all that long.  Only we waited for around 45 minutes, for some reason they were only filling 10 of the pods.  It felt like we wasted so much time for a mediocre ride which was a real shame.


Determined not to let the long wait put a dampener on the day we then headed to the Chair 'O' Plane which thankfully we were able to get onto straight away.  This is one of my favourite rides, such simple technology and a lot of fun.  The old ones are always the best.
  

Already feeling much better about the day we made our way next to the scenic railway.  We were met with a much bigger queue this time and queued for just over an hour.  The ride itself was good and it made a change to see a ride of this type to be manually operated.  Of all the rides in the park this is the biggest so it seemed about right it would have the biggest queue.


The trouble is, this was literally about it, unless we wanted to ride on the small kiddie rides or queue up again for over an hour for the 3 rides we had already been on which personally would not have put me in a much better mood than I was already in.  I had paid £16 to go on 3 rides!  Not impressed, especially as I later learnt that you can in fact pay per ride rather than purchasing a wrist band, this would have been a lot cheaper.

As I have said at the beginning of my post today, I do feel that I have perhaps visited the park too soon as since my visit there have been a number of new (what I would call big) rides that have opened.  I'm just not sure I can bring myself just yet to return.  Maybe in a couple of years I'll visit again and hopefully by then there will be even more rides opened.

Have you visited Dreamland before?  What did you think of it?

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Enjoying The Simple Things

Life is busy and we are all guilty for not taking the time we should to appreciate our surroundings, stressing ourselves with deadlines and life in general.  I have been trying so hard recently to slow things down a little.  Leading up to what is a really busy and stressful time of year for me at work, I am trying hard not to let this get to me.   I've been spending my spare time appreciating the world around me and taking a leaf out of the Norwegian's and Danes book to be more 'hygge' and I have to say it does seem as though it is working, and it feels good.


On Sunday I braved the threatening rain clouds and headed to the local reservoir for a much needed walk in the fresh air with my new trusted rain coat, which can I just say I am in love with (I've wanted one for ages but was always worried it was too bright, well to hell with those thoughts now).  It felt so good to be amongst nature, hearing the leaves crunch beneath my feet and taking in the wildlife that surrounded me.  I'd actually forgotten how good it feels to be out walking, it's been such a long time since I did it last.  And oh how happy it made me feel to see the signs of autumn being right around the corner.  Is anyone else as excited as me for the arrival of Autumn?   Okay so yes, I agree it is still a little early to be getting too excited, but it is definitely getting close and I for one can't wait.  A few more hot sunny days would be a welcomed treat though I'm not going to lie.


It gave me time to think without interruption or distractions, being alone with my thoughts and processing each one properly, giving it my full attention.  I did take my phone with me but that was purely for taking photos, no social media, no phone calls, no texts.  I rarely disconnect from my phone and it really is something I need to do more often, even if only for a couple of hours each day.  It frightens me how addicted to my phone I have become.  I always feel lost without it and that is so wrong.      


I have also started taking steps to calm my evenings after work down, helping me to relax more and chill out.  As someone who loves candles I have really appreciated the evenings drawing in and the fact they have become slightly cooler over the past few days.  It has been the perfect excuse to light some candles, plug in the fairy lights and enjoy the flickering light around the room.  Spending time reading a book or watching Netflix, I am hooked on '13 Reasons Why' at the moment, I'm almost finished season 1 so I'm near enough half way through now.


I'm going to continue taking more steps to be more hygge, enjoying the simple things in life and also making sure I have things to look forward to, it always helps to keep my spirits up.  What do you do to help keep things calm in your life?  I'd love to hear some more suggestions.

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Visiting David Austin Rose Garden

When it comes to roses, David Austin are up there at the top.  I'm always amazed by their huge variety of roses, the colours, the scents, all so beautiful.  It's almost impossible to pick a favourite.  Last month I made the drive up to Worcestershire to explore their gardens and I was blown away.


At times it was difficult to know where to look.  There was so much beauty around every corner and the smell from the moment I stepped ono the footpath leading into the  gift shop can honestly not be described.  It was incredible.



I took so many photos.  Who knew you could take so many photos of rose bushes.



While there I was able to enjoy one of their delicious afternoon tea's on the cutest dinner sets.  The restaurant was gorgeous, I loved the d├ęcor and all the exposed beams.  The staff were really lovely and friendly too, it was just a shame that the service was ridiculously slow.




After lunch there wasn't all that long left to explore as they were soon to be closing, which was a real shame as I could have wandered round for a lot longer.  There was time for a few last photos before the long drive back home to Essex.



In hindsight I should have booked a hotel and stayed up there for the night, however I just look at this as an excuse to return someday, especially as the garden entrance is free.

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

My 40 Before 40 Update - Year 1

How is it even possible that I am updating this one year on already.  Today I turn 31.  This actually frightens me more than turning 30 as I am now officially in my 30's.


I've had a pretty successful year working my way through my 40 before 40 list.  Here is what I have crossed off so far.

1. Complete anything not achieved from my list of thirty before thirty by the time I reach 31.

I finally got to fly in a hot air balloon.  I cannot tell you how many times I have had this booked for it to be cancelled due to the weather.   It was well worth the three year wait though.


The last thing from my 30 before 30 list was to climb the roof of the O2 which I managed to complete this weekend.  Why it took me so long to do I really couldn't tell you, but I'm glad I've done it now.


3. Ride in a helicopter.

I was lucky enough to go one above this and actually got the opportunity to fly a helicopter during a flying lesson.  Such an incredible experience.


8. Attend a life drawing class.

I've now been to two of these classes.  My drawing skills still need a lot of improvements but it's been good fun.


9. Go and see a live performance of The Nutcracker.

After seeing Swan Lake last year The Nutcracker seemed to be the best ballet performance to follow and it did not disappoint.  Truly magical.


20. Have a go at clay pigeon shooting.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would.  It also hurt my shoulder a lot more than I thought it would.  It was still a great experience though and definitely something I would try again.  Plus it felt great being out in the countryside.


27. Go on a girls holiday.

I've been on a couple of girls holidays now and have another planned for September.  I'd like to think that there will be plenty more in the years to come.  The first was to Chicago with Brook (best trip EVER!) and the second a girls weekend to Center Parcs Elvedon Forest to celebrate my sister in law to be's hen weekend.



31. Improve my photography skills and complete some form of photography course.

I attended a 10 week photography course last year which I loved.  It definitely got me thinking more about how to take photos and I also learnt how to use a camera on manual, I never thought I'd achieve that one.

So all in all it's been a pretty good year.  I've been making good head way in starting off some of the other things on my list and am confident that next year will be another successful update.

~ Gem x 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

A Stronger Me

Two years ago today, my life changed forever.  My world fell apart and there was nothing I could do about it.  Still to this day I cannot express to you how it truly made me feel, but I do know that it broke me and I felt as though I had lost everything.  The person who I loved with everything I had and trusted with my life had betrayed me in a way I didn't even think was possible and the feeling of hurt and betrayal will never leave me.  Even two years on I still cry about it from time to time and I often wonder what my life would be like if things were different.  But the truth is, I will never know.  


In the past two years I have learnt more about myself than I ever thought I would.  I've become a stronger, more independent and adventurous version of myself.  I have grown to love and value myself more than I ever have done before.  I have pushed myself to do more, to say yes to opportunities and to try new things.  I have found myself, and I've no doubt I still have more about myself to discover.

It has been a challenging couple of years that hasn't been without it's hitches, but I have battled them head on as best as I can.  I miss my old life and wish that I had never had to experience the pain and upheaval I've had to go through, but it is what it is and in all honesty I wouldn't have done half of the things I have if things had of stayed the same.


I have amazed myself of my strength and determination to get through it all and I feel so proud of myself for how far I have come.  My story isn't over yet.  I may not know exactly what direction I am headed just yet but I will find my way.

Everything happens for a reason, you may not know what the reason is but embrace it anyway.  I am living proof that you can and will get through it, you just have to have the belief in yourself that things will improve in time and that here is a life out there that is worth living.

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Malta

Malta has never been a place I've been interested in visiting before.  It has always struck me as a place visited by elderly people, but how wrong was I.  Having spent a week on the island a couple of months ago, I was struck by it's beauty and mesmerised by it's cities.  It really is a beautiful country and I don't believe it has really been given full credit for it.  


The weather wasn't fantastic when I visited at the beginning of April.  It was very windy and although the sun shone most days (apart from a few overcast days) it was still quite chilly.  I wouldn't say it ruined the week as such, however I would have liked to of visited Gozo and the Blue Lagoon on the Comino Island during the week, but decided against it due to choppy waters.  With both islands being smaller than Malta I gathered it would be far colder on the neighbouring islands due to the wind, plus I am not all that great on boats and didn't fancy getting sea sick.  Still that does give me an excuse to return some day.


Having done some research before my visit I had some places that I wanted to check out during my stay and was pleased that they didn't disappoint. First up was the Popeye Village.  Originally built as the film set for the 1980 musical Popeye starring Robin Williams, it is now a family attraction.  I didn't venture into the attraction but I did take full advantage of the beautiful view and the pretty little coloured shacks built for the film.  It's worth checking out even if only for a photo opportunity.



    Next up was the city of Valletta.  Wandering around the streets, discovering little hidden treasures and just generally soaking up the atmosphere, I fell in love with this place.  On my list of places to visit in Valletta was the Lower Barrack Gardens which were beautiful and did not disappoint, the view was pretty good too.  Top on my list in Valletta was Amorino Ice Cream Parlour.  There honestly isn't a word that cuts this place, the ice cream was literally to die for.




A friend recommend I visit Mdina, The Silent City.  I had looked it up online and wasn't sold but as it had come recommended I thought I'd pay it a visit.  I am so glad I had listened as I would have been gutted to have missed this little treasure.  The buildings were absolutely stunning and the city itself was an Instgrammers paradise.  I spent a good hour wandering around the maze of streets, looking up at the grand buildings and snapping away with my camera.  I'm so glad I made the visit as it is definitely worth seeing if ever you visit          



Last up on my list of must see's was the small fishing village of Marsaxlokk which is located to the south east of the island.  Such  picturesque spot and a great place to sit a while away the hours watching the pretty fishing boats bobbing in the water .  A perfect end to a great week on this beautiful island.


So if Malta isn't on your list of must see travel destinations, add it on there now.  Such a beautiful island full of picturesque villages and cities bursting with photo opportunities.  The trip certainly changed my perspective of Malta.
~ Gem x

Thursday, 29 March 2018

A Cut for Charity

For the past three and a half years I have been growing my hair.  Okay, I understand that may seem like a strange thing to say as with each day that passes we are mostly all growing our hair.  But I had a goal in mind.  I was wanting to grow my hair long enough to allow me to eventually have it cut and then donate some to the Little Princess Trust Charity.  The charity provide wigs to children who have lost their hair through illness or cancer treatment.  Now if that is not a worthy cause then I don't really know what is. 


To try and even begin to imagine what these children and their families must be going through is just unimaginable, so to be able to give such a simple thing that to be honest is something that I just take for granted, really is quite heart warming and satisfying.  

Sorry about the blurry photo, this is the best photo I have of before the cut.

Yesterday the day arrived, it was time to put my words into action and go for the chop.  I've always had long hair so I knew I needed to grow it pretty long in order to keep some length to it.  I was able to keep the length to my shoulders and donate 11 inches which is more than I had initially intended and I am so pleased about that.  They ask for a minimum of 7 inches.  


Lets face it, my hair will grow back, and I am very lucky to have the hair that I have still remaining.  For many they are not so fortunate, so this really is nothing in the grand scheme of things.  The other thing to add is that I am doing this by choice.  I know that there are others out there who are loosing their hair though no choice of their own and it may seem like a very immaterial thing, but for them it isn't and I know for me it wouldn't be either.  So if by doing this I am able to help one person then that is enough for me.  However, if by sharing my experience of cutting and donating my hair encourages others to do the same, well then that is just a pretty amazing thing.  But please read the details on their website first as there are some details to be aware of before going and getting your hair cut.


If anyone does decide to donate their hair or have already done so in the past then I'd love to hear from you.  I find it so incredible to hear other peoples stories and if it can help to inspire others then it is all worth it.   

~ Gem x 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Spring 2018 Bucket List

It has officially been spring for a whole entire week now.  So I think it is fair to say that it's about time I publish my 'Spring Bucket List'.


*Plant some seeds

*Bake biscuits

*Visit Columbia Road Flower Market

* Plant up a vivarium

* Sell at a car-boot-fair

* Walk over the O2 (Up at the O2)

* Make something (it's been a while since I've done something creative)

* Visit a garden

* Sit with a book outside

* Explore somewhere new

I have missed creating my monthly bucket lists this year, however that said, I used to dread that time of the month rolling around as I could never think of what to add to them so have been thankful for not doing them so far this year.  I figured the seasonal ones would be a lot easier but I will admit, I have struggled compiling this list.  Still at least I now have a couple of months before the next one is due. 

~ Gem x

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Malmaison Oxford

Last month I visited the wonderful city of Oxford.  It had been on my radar for some time and the reason for this is purely down to this hotel after spotting it on Instagram.



It's housed within the grounds of Oxford Castle and was once home to Oxford Prison.  In fact keeping many of the features from it's day as a prison you could be forgiven for thinking that was still it's purpose and is the very reason I was keen to visit.


Walking onto the main wing I was blown away by the size of it.  Picturing it full of inmates all those years ago and imagining what life must have been like for them. 



It is definitely something to look into if you are planning a trip to Oxford and if not for a hotel stay then definitely for dinner.  It was quite possibly one of the best meals I have ever had.

Goats cheese and blood orange

Pumpkin and chestnut ravioli

Millionaire Valrhona chocolate mousse
So worth the visit to Oxford if only for this hotel alone.  I loved it.

~ Gem x