Impromptu visit to Kew

One of my favourite places in London is Kew Gardens, so when my sister and her husband invited me for an impromptu trip recently I couldn’t say no. Kew is known for having plants, trees and flowers from around the world, there’s so much to see and it’s a great place to get lost in for the day.

First stop was the Hive which is a large structure made of metal and has lights that blink according to bee activity in a real beehive at Kew.

You can’t go to Kew and not visit the Palm House, which holds tropical plants from around the world. It’s usually really hot in here and as usual I had to wait for my camera to de-fog before I could take some photos. One plant we were pleased to find was the Sensitive plant. When you touch the open leaves they react immediately and close together.

From there we went to the Waterlily House hoping to find the giant lily pads that I remember from my childhood but have missed on my previous visits. Unfortunately they’d been moved, so I’ll have to try again another time. I did, however see some pretty waterlily flowers though.

Next we went to the Woodland area, and with it being late summer and the weather unsettled we got caught in a heavy downpour, thankfully though we were able to shelter under a giant Elm tree until the rain stopped. The Woodland area had a great number of trees of all types, my favourite though were the Redwood trees. These giants have a reddish, rough grain trunk and can grow to a phenomenal size.

Walking further along came across a huge wooden table, which seems like it would be perfect for all my family when they come to dinner! And hidden nearby was a log trail that you could walk across, made up of different types of trees, so educational as well as fun. There was also a badger set and tunnels you could go into.

By the time we reached the log trail we’d made it to the far end of the grounds and it was getting late so we started heading back towards the gates. I had a relaxing, fun day out and it’s always a pleasure and a privilege to see the beautiful plants, trees and flowers that can be found around the world so close to where I live.

Mayfield Lavender Farm

Last weekend my sister and I made the trip to Mayfield Lavender Farm in Surrey, something we’d been wanting to do for a long time. As soon as we reached the farm we could smell the lavender even before you caught sight of any. Walking up to the fields we could see rows and rows of lavender; I couldn’t wait to take to take a closer look and take some photos.

As we made our way up the fields we could see hundreds of bumble bees flitting from flower to flower, stem to stem, gathering pollen. In the fields there were picnic tables, a red London phone box and structures to create photographic backdrops. There was also a tractor that you could take a ride on that would take you across to the far end of the land.

The farm was much busier than I anticipated and it required a lot of patience to try and get the type of photos that I wanted. There were people doing live chats, making videos and taking lots of photos for social media which has made a place like this very popular.

After walking through the fields soaking in the beautiful scent of the lavender and the stunning purple views we decided to head to the gift shop to see what we could take home to help make the experience and sensation continue into our homes. There were lots and lots of lavender based products on sale. There were bunches of lavender, with a pretty bird enjoying the view, lavender flavoured drinks, jams and fudge. They also had a book for visitors to leave messages in and I was surprised to see that visitors had come from all around the world to see the flowers.

After looking around we opted for some lavender flowers for ourselves and our mum, some chocolate and some soap. Then feeling weary we started our journey home, with one last look as the fields.

The trip to the lavender farm was great, although the flowers weren’t as vibrant purple as I expected (maybe they would be earlier in the season, July to September), the view was still amazing and the scent was so fragrant and relaxing. I would definitely recommend a visit to a lavender farm, but some advice I would offer is to get there early.

Hatfield House

A few weeks ago I went to Hatfield House, situated just outside London, which is a Jacobean styled country house that was Elizabeth I’s childhood home. The site was huge with beautiful gardens, grounds and a farm along with the main building. The house itself was grand looking and had an unusual looking, moving fountain in front of it.

The rooms inside were stunning, and as I walked from room to room and through the corridors I could see the level of detail that went into the embellishment and upkeep of the place. The ceilings were one of my favourite features with each room having a particular style, each beautiful in their own way. The hallways were covered with intricately woven tapestries and the elegant furnishings were stunning, like this green velvet chair.

My absolute favourite room was the Armoury. The pretty cut out panels contrasting with the masculine figures wearing amour made the room both modern and historical at the same time. The other rooms that really stood out to me were the Long Gallery with its distinctive golden ceiling and the Library which would be my dream room with all the amazing books.

Once I’d looked around the grand house I made my way to the gardens. There were several garden each with a different style and character. The one that I liked the best was West Garden with the fountain centrepiece and pretty flowers. The others were just as lovely, one had a large sundial while the others had long walkways and primped hedges.

Heading further out were the Woodland Gardens, and I was happy that I was in time to see the carpet of bluebells that had bloomed. Beyond, were the grounds, which were magnificent. I was able to look in all directions at the wonderful green landscape without seeing the borders. One interesting landmark that I came across was a tree with a plaque, stating that this was the spot that Queen Elizabeth I was standing in when she was told she would be queen.

After walking through part of the enormous grounds I headed back towards the entrance, stopping to visit the gift and toy shop.

Spending the day at Hatfield House was relaxing, informative and beautiful. The House had stunning rooms that were without doubt fit for a Queen, and the gardens were amazing with pretty flowers, fountains and greenery as far as the eye could see. It’s no wonder that such a place has been used so frequently in films and holds such appeal with the public.

Rainbow popcorn

My brother and his family went to Qatar not too long ago to visit family, and my sister-in-law kindly brought back some treats for me in the shape of this colourful rainbow popcorn. The popcorn kernels are coated in coloured sugar with each colour having a different taste. I was told they’re all the rage in Qatar.

It’s quite fun to try and work out what each colour tastes like but I did find the popcorn quite sweet so I couldn’t eat a lot.

It’s a really colourful and fun idea, and it’ll be interesting to see if it catches on in the UK.

Brighton – part 1

I enjoy taking day trips to places I’ve never been to before and one such place that a friend and I went to not so long ago was Brighton. It was an early start and took a few hours by train to get to but we managed to arrive just as the sun was becoming brighter and warmer. First we wandered throughout the lanes discovering lots of cool street art (which I will post separately) and just in time for the market and shops to start opening. Something I noticed quite quickly was just how quirky some of the shops and props were and that there was so much colour everywhere, which I loved.

We walked along the market stalls that had interesting products for sale and along nearby roads, some of which had some really colourful houses. One shop that I was particularly keen on visiting was a well known cake shop called Choccywoccydoodah which has some amazing cake designs and eggs just in time for Easter. We didn’t stop to buy any though as we were keen to keep moving and see everything on our list. Another shop that I was pleased to unexpectedly come across was one that sold rubber ducks and only rubber ducks.

Next we went to see the famous Royal Pavilion which upon arrival, we could see why it was so popular and considered so beautiful. The Indo-Islamic style of the building was striking especially against the bright blue sky and quite unusual for an English town. I spent quite some time just looking up at the intricate detail of the embellishments and the curves and spires that reached up high.

After the Royal Pavilion and it’s gardens we headed towards the coast, photos of which I will post soon.

Chocolate, cheese and wine fair

I recently went to a mini chocolate, cheese and wine fair to see what goodies (by which I mean chocolate) was on offer.

The stall were stacked high with various cheese blocks, and excitingly, in one section, there was a cheese carving competition. I only managed to see the beginning of the sculptures (as I forgot to go back) but they did have on display a finished cheese sculpture of someone famous.

I took a quick whizz around the wine stalls just out of curiosity, but didn’t linger long as I don’t drink. One wine that I did think was interesting was a chocolate flavoured wine. Wonder what people think of it. Other foods on display were delicious looking breads and baked goods as well as different oils to add taste.

There were only a few chocolate stalls but the products on display were really unique. There were chocolates embellished with coloured patterns and prints, which would make great gifts, and some that had unusual flavours and designs. I especially like the pearl effect Easter eggs on display.

Even though the fair wasn’t very big I thought the products and competitions were interesting and it made for a nice afternoon out.chocolate, cheese and wine fair