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

Since writing this post I have signed up to take part in the Run Disney 10K race later this year in Disneyland Paris.  I have set up a fundraising page for which The Little Princess Trust is one of my chosen charities.  If you would like to make a donation to my sponsorship page I would be eternally grateful, every donation no matter how small helps.  The link to my page is here:

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

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

My Thoughts & Recent Moments on Instagram

Not only have I not been posting much here on the blog but I've not been putting a whole lot on my Instagram grid either.  I've just not been feeling all that motivated at all.

Cosy nights with Giovanna Fletcher

Do you ever get that feeling when you take a picture with all good intentions of posting it to Instagram but look at it and think to yourself, 'No, it's not how I hoped it would turn out' or 'This really isn't something I'm happy to post on my feed'?  I have been getting this a lot lately.  Even to the point of actually forcing myself to post something purely because I hadn't posted in a while. 

For me personally it has a lot to do with the new algorithm thing, I hate it.  I don't like to be negative, but that is just how it is.   It seems to me that those with huge follower numbers get all the engagement and those with fewer followers are forgotten about and hardly ever seen. 

The most perfect date for brunch with this handsome fella and his Mummy

I know it is not all about the likes and follower numbers, far from it, but when I look at the number of likes I get to the number of followers I have it just doesn't add up, the numbers really don't seem to align at all.  The amount of likes and comments I receive now in comparison to before the new algorithm has dropped dramatically and it has left me feeling a little deflated, I'm sure I am not alone in this.   

Chelmsford Cathedral captured through the snowfall 

I know I just need to find my way again and I'm sure it will come.  It's time to try and forget about the numbers of likes and followers, take my time with it and continue posting what I want more for myself than anything else.  

~ Gem x

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Returning to a Routine

I have seriously struggled to find my blogging mojo recently.  I want to blog, I just feel like I have nothing to say and nothing much to blog about.  The weather really hasn't helped the situation.  It's been very cold, we have even had a fair bit of snow here ,which is unusual, but I generally just don't have a lot to say.  Surprising really as for anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I rarely ever shut up.  Even as I type this I am reading it out aloud to myself.

I used to try publishing 3 times a week on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, recently I have been wondering if I may be better dropping it to twice a week on a Tuesday and Thursday.  I won't be putting any pressure on myself to religiously stick to the new routine but I am going to try.  Besides a new routine may be good to help with the continuity of it.  Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

I have a few post ideas, nothing spectacular, in fact far from it but fingers crossed it will hopefully help to spark something new and kick start my brain into action again.   

~ Gem x

Friday, 2 March 2018

A Weekend Break in Oxford

We are really lucky in the UK to have so many lovely places to explore and discover and it dawned on me recently that I really haven't taken advantage of that enough.  Oxford is less than a 2 hour drive from me and yet up until a couple of weekends ago, I had never visited before.

Having booked the Friday off work I set off mid morning to make the most of a full afternoon to begin exploring the city.  I had done lots of research on places to visit and booked myself 2 nights making sure I had plenty of time to properly explore and discover all that is on offer.  

On arriving the first stop was the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  I was keen to check out the gorgeous Grade 1 listed Victorian Gothic building which houses the museum, and was not disappointed by it's grand ceiling, especially as the light was pouring through it.  Another thing I was excited to see was the dinosaur skeletons I had read about being there.  Having seen the T-Rex skeleton in Chicago late last year at the Field Museum, I couldn't believe there was another so close to home.  Sadly this was a great disappointment as they were in fact casts and not the actual real thing, but it was still nice to see them.

The next stop was the Ashmolean Museum.  Another stunning building, and the oldest purpose built museum that is still in use.  I didn't spend all that long in here.  I will admit to not being the biggest museum fan, I much prefer the architecture, of which in Oxford there is plenty to admire.

Saturday morning, and another glorious sunny day, in fact it is hard to believe how lucky I was with the weather considering the snowy scene I am currently looking out my window to right now.  A very touristy morning spent wandering the streets and photographing the sites.  The grand university buildings, the Radcliff Camera and of course the famous Bridge of sighs.  It truly is a beautiful city.

After exploring the city on street level I decided to climb the Carfax Tower to check out the view from above and was pleased I had made the climb.  It isn't overly tall, however the height definitely gives an advantage view point in which to see the city from a different perspective.  It cost a mere £2.50 entrance fee but on a sunny day like I experienced, it is worth checking out.  

Another place I was keen to visit during my stay was Biscester Village.  I have an outlet shopping village close to home that I regularly pay visits to, so I was keen to shop somewhere different.  I clearly planned my visit at the wrong time though as the place was absolutely heaving with Chinese tourists visiting for the Chinese new year.  There were queues to get into shops and the shops that didn't have queues to get inside were just rammed full of people.  Certainly not an enjoyable shopping trip and I only ended up staying for about half an hour, but I would love to return one day as the d├ęcor and little displays around the village were absolutely beautiful.     

In many ways Oxford did remind me of other cities I have visited in England, however it certainly stands alone in its own right as a city that is worth going to visit if ever you get the opportunity.

~ Gem x