Chelsea in Bloom 2019

The Chelsea Flower show is world famous and incredibly popular, so for those of us who can’t visit, an event called Chelsea in Bloom is a nice aternative. Shops in the Chelsea area take part in celebrating the flower show by decoratating their shop fronts in beautiful flowers. They compete with one another to create the best displays. Can you guess this year’s theme?

My sister and I went along one day to take a look. There were 88 displays in all but I don’t think we managed to see all of them. Some were really impressive, some were quite fun and others pointing to a more serious aspect of pollution.

I really liked the ‘pretty’ fish made of leaves and flowers.

Some displays were huge covering the height of the building while others had more detail to them.

My favourites displays were the purple shark, the oyster shell surrounded by colourful flowers, and the googly eyed octopus.

We spent a few hours walking around looking at the displays before we decided it was getting late and headed for home (not to mention we were exhausted). I thought some of the displays were really creative and colourful and I enjoyed seeing them. If you’re interested in seeing who the winners of the competition were click here.

Groombridge Place

I recently went to Groombridge Place in Kent for a day out with my family. It seems to be a fairly popular tourist attraction but thankfully it wasn’t too busy the day we went.

Groomsbridge Place is a moated manor house and was used as Longbridge house, the home of the Bennet’s family in the film Pride and Prejudice. This was the view as we started to walk up to the main part of the site.

The manor was closed off unfortunately, but we could see the house and the details through the gate and over the low walls. I was quite excited to see this place as Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books and it’s always fun to see places and buildings used in films too.

After we had a look at the manor house, we continued along the path up to the main entrance. Having bought our tickets we found a place to have our lunch and take in our surroundings. We spotted a Sherlock Holmes sign on one of the smaller buildings. It turns out that Arthur Conan Doyle regularly visited Groombridge.

After lunch we then decided to take a boat ride down the stream, looking out for wood beings along the way.

Departing from the boat we were near the play area, where there was a play about to begin. We left the kids and my mum to keep an eye on them and the rest of us decided to go into the Enchanted forest. The forest was quite wild, you could see some trees that had been tidied but left where they had fallen. The thing that jumped out the most was that there was seemingly an endless carpet of bluebells.

Getting closer we were enthralled by how beautiful the rich blue looked in the forest. I tried to get some close up photos but it was tricky as there were quite a few spiders which I could see, which I wasn’t too keen on.

We wandered around the forest for quite some time, there were quite a lot of steep parts and it was quite tiring, especially as it was becoming fairly hot, and the air starting to feel quite close. Along the way we found some interesting things. We found a huge totem pole, with expertly carved animals, some travellers caravans that were really pretty and intricately decorated, a huge amount of wild garlic plants, and my favorite, swings hanging from tree branches. There were some strung from high branches that swung over a carpet of bluebells which I thought was very picturesque.

Finally finding our way out we collected my mum and the kids (who all wondered where’d we’d been for so long) and made our way to the birds of prey show. Along the way we crossed paths with a family of geese, who hissed at us when we got too close to their gosling sand some zeedonks who were resting in the sun. The birds of prey show had some really cute, tiny owls that were great fun to watch as they ran around.

The star of the show was a falcon that flew incredibly fast over the crowd. I felt the wind clip past my head as it zoomed past at super speeds. Once it landed it enjoyed a well deserved meal.

Once the show was over we headed down to the gardens. There were some pretty, hidden away parts as well as areas that were more formally groomed. There were also peacocks walking around and showing off their beautiful feathers.

I really liked how neat some of the hedges and flower arrangements were.

After walking back to the main entrance we bought some souvenirs and headed back to the car. We were all pretty tired but we all had a really nice day out at Groombridge and all the beautiful, interesting things it had to offer.

Regents Park in Spring

The recent Easter break in London was accompanied with soaring temperatures, and I wanted to make the most of having a couple of extra days off work and the great weather. I love the royal parks in London so I decided to explore Regents park especially as Spring is well and truly in swing.

The area surrounding Regents park is quite posh, the Regency style buildings look really elegant with their tall pillars. Upon entering the park I was greeted with a beautiful, colourful flower display, a theme that carried on throughout the park.

Walking through the main path I came across a pretty pink, blossomed tree overhanging a stream that I thought looked iconic of Spring.

Walking over the nearby bridge I came across wonderful weeping willow trees and what I loved even more was that the humble daisy was making it’s mark too among it’s beautiful cousins by creating what seemed a carpet white. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many daises before.

Further on I came across some more beautifully arranged flower displays, the colours and types all cleverly and carefully working together.

Moving away from the flower displays I spotted trees that had pink and white blossoms. There were plenty of flowers on the trees but the grass seemed to be covered in pink and white petals, making all look very pretty. One blossom tree that really intrigued me had dark red flowers and red leaves too. I’ve never seen a tree like this before so it was nice to come across it.

Following the path through the trees I came across a garden with a waterfall so I tried to make the water look misty by slowing down the shutterspeed. I think my photo came out ok but I still need to work on my skills.

Also in the area I saw a well-dressed scarecrow guarding the allotments and its early sprouting vegetables, people sheltering from the sun under the long droopy branches of willow trees with a book, and a really interesting but slightly creepy tree with branches that were growing and intertwining with the fence it was next to.

As well as the areas of that park that were groomed and very orderly, there was a section that had trees and foliage growing more wildly. I liked that you could go off track if you wanted to and get lost among tall tress and less beaten path.

At this point, having walked around for a few hours (and getting lost a couple of time), it was starting to become quite hot and I was getting tired, so I thought I should leave and get something to eat. I headed towards the Avenue gardens and the exit nearby. The Avenue gardens have lots of formal displays of flowers and fountains. I like that they have used flowers in some of the fountains too instead of water to create an interesting look.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Regents park and I loved the wonderfully varied, colourful, flower displays, which all made me smile. I look forward to visiting other royal parks soon and coming back here to see what more there is.

London quirks

One of the many things I love about London are the quirks that you unexpectedly come across. There’s old and new sitting side by side and some really creative and fun quirks. Here’s a few that I came across in my recent visit that made me smile.

I went to Hyde park and came across a lovely vintage car. Upon closer inspection I saw that it had been transformed and was selling ice cream which I thought that was a wonderful idea.

Further on I discovered this bright blue house. I love how bold and vibrant it is.

Also on my wonderings around London I came across a really high pink building, which I thought was a unique colour and some really pretty floral displays which made me feel Spring was on it’s way.

I wasn’t in London for very long but I enjoyed coming across some lovely, quirky things. I look forward to my next visit and will keep my eyes peeled for more curiosities which in London are always just around a corner.

2018 Highlights

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect back on the year. I hope that you all have had a significant and positive one. 2018 for me has had some highs, such as having a new niece join our family, starting a new job, as well as experiencing fun, new things such as taking a candy making course. I’ve also been able to visit new places and had a break away with my family. My lows have been feeling unmotivated and uninspired at times to post on my blog, and wondering if it’s still relevant. I have also felt like the world is passing me by and that I have so much I still want to do.

I leave you with some of my favourite photos of the 2018 and I wish you all happy New Year and with the hope that 2019 is one of fullfillment, happiness and adventure for all of us.

Bournemouth Family Trip

At the end of Summer I went to Bournemouth for a few days with my family, it was initially meant to be a several days away for a few of us, but in the end it was 15 of us in our cars heading to the coast.

On the day we got to Bournemouth and once we were settled into our hotel rooms, we decided to make the most of the rest of the day and headed to the beachfront. Although it was late summer it was still pretty warm, especially as we have had an incredibly hot summer this year in the UK.

We all spent time splashing around in the sea, relaxing on the beach and then when it became too cold we started our way back to our room to freshen up and then go to dinner. I found it incredibly refreshing to be by the sea and away from the city landscape.

The next day we split up into smaller groups, with my group first going to the aquarium. I didn’t really take many photos here as the lighting wasn’t great, and with the thick glass it was difficult, so I just enjoyed my young nieces’ excitement at the various fish and sea creatures they saw and tried to guess the names of, and walked steadily through the exhibits taking in the sights, sounds and smells.

After the aquarium we decided to go to the gardens that were nearby. There are Lower, Central and Upper Gardens, which seem to stretch on for miles, with changing flora and fauna to create various textures as you walk through.

After lunch we had planned to do some more activities but it rained for the rest of the day. It didn’t stop me though; I asked my sister, her husband and her daughter to pick me up and we made our way to another beach close by called Boscome. It was still raining steadily and it was quite windy too on the seafront, but I thought it felt refreshing and a change from the sun. I was also really pleased to find some colourful beach huts, which I have been on the look out for whenever I go to the coast.

We didn’t stay too long, as it was getting cold and quiet late. After my sister dropped me back at my hotel I rested before getting ready for dinner and then to watch the fireworks on the pier.

On the third day we packed our bags and checked out, ready to leave Bournemouth, but before we did we made a detour to Durdle Door, which is along the Jurassic Coast, and is a World Heritage Site. I’ve been go Durdle Door a few years ago and loved it, so I definitely wanted to visit again. There’s a really steep rocky path that leads from the car park to the coast edge, and then a steep set of stairs that lead to the beach. On my last visit you had to walk strategically on rocks to get down and then back up again, thankfully since then they’ve carved out steps that make it much easier.

The view from the top was amazing, and we were lucky to have some fantastic, sunny weather too, making the blues of the sea and sky really striking.

Once on the beach we soaked in the sun and the sea breeze while walking along the pebbly beach.

We didn’t stay too long, before making our climb back up to the car and heading towards another place nearby called Lulworth Cove. This is also along the Jurassic Coast and seemed to have a lot of boats sitting in the arc made naturally by the sea.

After sitting on the white pebbled beach and relaxing for a while, we made our way back to the car, visiting the gift shop along the way and started our very long journey home.

The trip to Bournemouth was great, I really liked that there was a lot to see and do, and most of it didn’t cost very much or was completely free. We had some really good weather and I loved walking along the various seafronts, and exploring the seemingly endless gardens. I would go back again some day as I’m sure there’s much more to do than what we covered in the few days that we were there.

Sunflower and Lavender Fields

Yesterday I went to a sunflower field in Hertfordshire with my sister, my nieces and my brother in law who kindly drove us there. Last year I visited Mayfield lavender farm which was a lovely visit and I was keen to see other flower fields (I’d love to see tulips in Holland). Hitchin Lavender had a sunflower field and next to it a lavender field, which meant that we got to see both on this visit.

We started at the far end and walked up the rows, but more than the sunflowers and lavender, what really took my attention was an empty field with nothing but bales of hay scattered around. I’ve seen such bales on drives through the country on numerous occasions and always wanted to stop and take some photos. This one has a fence around it but part of it was broken so I took my chance and went through it to take some shots.

It was quite difficult to walk in this field as the corn stalk were short but quite sharp so I had to tread carefully or risk being poked in my ankles (which I did), but I worked my way across the field and to see the bales of hay that were spread out as well as get up close to a few.

After some time gazing across the field of the round bales I came back through to the main field which had the sunflowers. There were thousands of sunflowers but I think due to the very hot summer we’ve had and the heavy heads the sunflowers were quite droopy, which made it difficult to take photos. There were still some smaller ones though that looked fresh with all their petal intact which looked pretty.

After walking through the sunflowers we moved onto the lavender field which was right next to the sunflowers, but was much bigger.

The lavender smelled lovely and looked great, spread out ahead almost as far as the eye could see. We were given paper bags and scissors at the entrance and told we could take back any flowers we pleased, so we filled our bags with a few sunflowers and plenty of lavender.

Having wondered around for a couple of hours, taking photos, smelling the scent of the flowers and just taking in the pleasant, relaxing view on a sunny day we started heading back to the car and to get something to eat – it’s hard and hungry work walking through large fields but immensely rewarding, and I would definitely recommend a visit, especially as a small break from the city.

Chelsea in Bloom 2018

The Chelsea Flower Show is a world famous event that happens each year in London. Lucky for me though an alternative event called Chelsea in Bloom that takes place at the same time. Chelsea in Bloom is a flower competition that boutiques, restaurants and other retailers take part in around Chelsea, each showing off their creative flair. This year my sister and I decided to scout out the displays. The theme this year was ‘Summer of Love’ inspired by the Royal Wedding and the 60’s/70’s cultural revolution. Some of the shop fronts had pretty arches over doorways, others had some truly creative and beautiful pieces.

One that I really liked was the arch of blue and purple flowers, because it was really neat, I love blues and purples and most importantly the flowers smelled amazing. I can’t say the other displays really smelled of much but this one had a very fragrant smell, one that I wish I could have bottled.

The other ones that really stood out for me were the giant colourful skeletons, The pretty swans and the huge floral engagement rings. My other favourite was the hotel front covered entirely in flowers, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a good photo of that as there was a double decker bus parked right in front of it!

It was quite tiring walking around, especially as the map provided wasn’t very accurate, but we did manage to find most of the flower displays and it was great to see fresh flowers used to create some really interesting, fun and sometimes beautiful displays. I think it was a nice, free, event and one that I can imagine revisiting next year.

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.

Holland Park, London

We’ve had some lovely weather this summer in London and I was able to make the most of it by going to Holland Park one sunny day. The park has so many different types of plants and flowers, and it was a delight to walk along the winding paths taking in all the vibrant colours and varying scents.

One of the main features of the park is it’s beautiful Japanese Kyoto Garden. I was surprised to see that they had Koi carp (and pennies) in the pond as well as a peacock strutting around. There was a pretty waterfall and a walkway that allowed you to cross the pond and through the garden. I found the garden very peaceful and aesthetically pleasing.

There are also some smaller gardens within the park, some that held interesting statues, and others that had stunning flower displays, as well as a giant game of chess.

Overall the park had some beautiful features and you can tell it was very well maintained, and on a sunny day it made for a lovely day out, one that I would definitely recommend.