Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Hopefully you will have read my blog on our last visit to Stratford Upon Avon where we visited Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Hall Croft.

We paid for a “full story” ticket which gets you entry to the five different places – Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Hall Croft. We didn’t have time on the day to visit all five places, so we saved Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s Farm for another day.

Well, we chose another beautiful day to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage! The sun was shining which shows this lovely cottage in its full glory and meant we could explore all the grounds without the threat of rain! A perfect day out!

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a beautiful cottage in Stratford Upon Avon and belonged to the wife of William Shakespeare. The cottage was built in 1463 until the first Hathaway’s moved in as tenant sheep farmers in 1540.

Anne was born in 1556 and lived here until she married Shakespeare in 1582 and moved into his family home on Henley Street, again in Stratford Upon Avon.

In 1610 Anne’s brother, Bartholomew, purchased the lease to the cottage and began to develop it. The cottage was extended, resulting in it doubling in size. Chimneys and an upper floor were built, providing bedrooms and storage.

In the 1700’s the Hathaway family fortunes begin to decline and by 1838, descendants of the Hathaway’s had sold the cottage but remained as tenants. In 1892 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought the cottage, but kept the family on as custodians.

It is wrong really to refer to it as a “cottage”, as it is far larger than you would imagine a cottage to be, and has huge adjoining grounds! Whilst exploring the Cottage and its grounds you will come across;

Willow Arbour, there are a couple of these you will encounter along the woodland walk.

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The Music Note Willow Sculpture was designed by award winning sculpture artist Tom Hare. It is a giant musical stave with music notes and butterflies woven onto it.

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The sculpture leads the way to a special Butterfly Conservation Border planted with flowers to attract the butterflies, and believe me, it works! The gardens were full of beautiful butterflies of all colours!

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The Woodland Walk is really beautiful and well worth doing! Such peace and quiet as you wander through the wood and encounter beautiful trees, flowers, shrubs and even some little bunny rabbits!

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One of the highlights of the visit is the Willow sculpture, a crescent shaped sculpture also known as the “Moon Seat”. This is another design by Tom Hare and is not only beautiful to look at but also acts as the perfect viewing point for the cottage and the gardens.

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The Cottage Garden’s are really beautiful. Someone asked one of the guides whilst we were there how the garden grows such beautiful shrubs, plants and vegetables, to which the guide replied “over 400 years of practice!” It’s true, if the well established gardens hadn’t got the hang of growing the best quality produce by now then maybe it never would have!

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Miss Willmott’s Garden is named after the Edwardian horticulturist who designed the cottage gardens in the 19th Century style. During the Spring and Summer months the garden is full of beautiful scented flowers.

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and of course the main attraction; Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Isn’t it stunning?! The outside is covered in beautiful roses with brightly coloured flower beds with wonderful scents.

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Inside the cottage you will find all of the rooms set up as they would have been back when Anne used to live here.

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The cottage is beautiful inside with long corridors and wonky walls and is full of original Hathaway furniture including the Hathaway bed!

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Outside, just up past the Traditional Orchard you will find the Sculpture Trail and Arbouretum, with some lovely Shakespearian inspired sculptures, and even more fluffy bunnies playing in the sunshine!

And this is by no means all there is to see! During your visit you can also see the Yew Circle, Shottery Brook Walk, Family Activity Tent (check for seasonal activities), Garden Cafe and Sonnet Arbour, where you can listen to Shakespearian verse being read.

A really lovely day out which is highly recommended and best of all, we bought the tickets using our Tesco Clubcard points so the tickets didn’t cost us a penny!

The “full story” tickets we bought are valid for a full 12 months after purchase, so you can visit any of the five locations as many times as you wish for a full year! So the ticket is excellent value for money!

Full story tickets are £22.50, or you can book online for a 10% reduction in ticket prices (you can book your tickets here.)

 

Peggy Porschen’s

If you follow any bloggers on Instagram then I am sure this beautiful pink coloured cake shop in Belgravia needs no introduction! The most popular bloggers with the highest followings have all queued up outside this Insta-worthy building with its beautiful flowered facade at some point!

I first visited in December 2017, so not all that long ago, and have been back a further three times since then. It is certainly one of my favourite London cafes so I will always try to visit whoever I am in the big city.

I looked back on all my visits to Peggy Porschen over the past six months and realised that I have been lucky enough to have visited at different points throughout the year which meant seeing beautiful new displays and seasonal menus each time I visited.

Valentines Day

The Valentine’s Day display was one of my favourites, the lovely big heart made of flowers over the door and the other lovely heart shaped displays inside looked really stunning.

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I had seen their Valentine Day collection of cupcakes on Instagram a few days before I visited and I’d already set my sights on their limited edition “Be Mine Peggy Loves Lulu” chocolate heaven cupcake in honour of Lulu Guinness! It did not disappoint!

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I wish I’d had room left over to try one of their strawberry and champagne fluttering hearts too….maybe next time!

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Easter

I didn’t arrive at Peggy Porschen’s until late when I went for my Easter visit, hence the poorly lit photos – sorry! Still, it looked lovely and Spring-like, and after a long, cold, dark Winter it was perfect to look at and start thinking about the warmer days which were on their way!

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As I arrived so late they had run out of some of the cupcakes I’d got my eye on but it wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter nest cake would it?!

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It was at Easter I also discovered Peggy Porschen’s beautifully decorated biscuits! Aren’t they stunning?

 

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And even better I can get these home in one piece, unlike the cupcakes (don’t risk buying them and then walk around London all day with them – trust me, I’m speaking from heart-breaking experience!) I also bought a couple for family and friends as Easter gifts which they loved!

Summer

The Summer theme was really the most impressive so far! Beautiful Wysteria and Roses and beehives everywhere! The pictures really don’t do it justice and it was the busiest I have ever seen it! At one stage there was a queue all the way up the road to be seated outside in front of this stunning display.

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I couldn’t wait to visit after I saw the amazing goodies they had as part of their summer collection but unfortunately they were completely out of stock of all the lovely bee-themed biscuits I’d got my eye on! I’m pleased they have been so popular but was gutted I didn’t get to try them!

I did, however, get my hands on the wonderful Beehive cupcake I’d wanted to try, and I really can hand on heart say that this is the best cupcake I have ever eaten. It was a chocolate cake with an organic blossom honey centre and is topped with a delicious honey meringue buttercream. I wish I could have bought a box of these to bring home with me but the cakes are so delicate, there was no way they would have survived the three hour coach journey home coupled with the crazy heatwave Britain has been experiencing! I hope I get the chance to go back again whilst this is still on the menu!

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Look at these other beautiful summery cupcakes they had on the menu whilst I was there; all made absolutely perfectly.

Christmas

After visiting for the first time last Christmas, Peggy Porschen’s has now become one of our must visit places when my Mum, my Sister and I visit London as part of our annual Christmas shopping trip.

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Peggy Porschen’s at Christmas is an absolute treasure trove of beautiful cakes, biscuits and even the most stunningly decorated gingerbread houses I have ever seen! It really was a Winter Wonderland and, seeing as Christmas is my favourite time of year, this has to be my favourite theme of all.

The Christmas cupcakes were stunning, my favourites were the Bejewelled Chocolate cupcake and the Jolly Gingerbread cupcakes. Unfortunately they didn’t look as stunning by the time I’d got them home after carrying them around in a box all day but they tasted delicious never the less!

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The Gingerbread Houses were the most beautiful (and the most expensive!) I had ever seen. I wish I’d had the courage to buy one but they were so stunning I don’t think I could have brought myself to break it up and eat it!

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So, hopefully you can see why it appears on many peoples bucket lists to visit when they are in London! If you can get there early first thing when it isn’t so busy, I’d highly recommend popping in – it looks far more beautiful in real life!

 

 

Bear’s Brownies

If any of my readers have a thing for brownies then I think I may have found the holy grail! Thank you Instagram for another amazing find called Bear’s Brownies!

They don’t just do your every day chocolate brownies, they have wide range of flavours to choose from and even have a “free from” menu which is suitable for vegan diets and those of us who have allergies, such as lactose free, dairy free, egg free and low sugar brownies.

Here are just some of the flavours you can order from Bear’s Brownies;

Billionaires Brownies

These are my absolute favourite and are to die for!

These are luxury chocolate brownies with a caramel layer which is then topped with a dark chocolate ganache and gold leaf! They are beyond delicious and even got the seal of approval from hubby who is not at all a fan of sweet treats and desserts! I think it is safe to say that these were his favourites too!

Blondies

These are brownies but are made with white chocolate rather than milk chocolate. They are much lighter than a traditional brownie and are ideal for those who prefer white chocolate to milk chocolate, or vanilla cake rather than chocolate.

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Funfetti Brownies

I love the look of these!

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They are perfect for a Birthday celebration – they are white chocolate blondie brownies but filled with Birthday cake colourful sprinkles!

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Mocha Brownies

Dark chocolate and espresso flavoured brownies – perfect as an after dinner treat with coffee! I love coffee flavoured desserts!

Cookies Brownies

Crunchy Oreo cookie pieces folded through traditional chocolate brownies, perfect for  cookies and cream lovers!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

The classic chocolate fudge brownie flavour, you can’t go wrong with these! Not the most exciting of the bunch but still a really tasty original style brownie!

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Salted Caramel Brownies

These are a close second favourite – salted caramel flavoured brownies with a salted caramel centre and chocolate ganache icing and then sprinkled with crushed pretzels and shimmer!

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Salty and sweet and amazing all at the same time! Plus they look AMAZING!

Bears Brownies also supply seasonal flavours such as Red Velvet Valentine’s Day brownies and Christmas Candy Cane and Christmas Gingerbread brownies! I’m definitely going to order some Christmas flavours this year!

One of the things I love about Bear’s Brownies is that you can order boxes of 12 or 24 but they don’t have to be a box of the same flavour. If you order a box of 12 you can choose up to three different flavours and if you order a box of 24 you can order up to six different flavours! Ideal if you are struggling which flavours to choose from! Note that you can’t order the Billionaire’s Brownies as part of the “fill your own” boxes but I promise you you won’t regret ordering (and scoffing!) a box of 12 of these!

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The other thing I loved was that the brownies arrived beautifully packaged in a black box with a ribbon on, and were securely packaged up to make sure they weren’t damaged during transit.

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You can also add hand-written gift messages free of charge to your order if you like and can choose a delivery date which is suitable for you. Bear’s Brownies deliver all over the country so are ideal to send as gifts to people!

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I cannot recommend these brownies enough, I already can’t wait to put in my next order!

Sand and Sky Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment

I am hoping you have already read my recent blog about the Sand and Sky Porefining Clay mask and will remember how overwhelmingly impressed I was with this product!

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Well, needless to say as I loved the product so much I had soon worked my way through my first pot and needed to order myself some more! I knew they also had an Australian Pink Clay Flash Perfection Exfoliating treatment available so, as I was ordering more of the mask, I thought what the hell, and ordered some of the exfoliator too!

Delivery is free on both of these products and my order was delivered in just over 24 hours which is brilliant! They also sent me a few free hair bobbles and a couple of Sand and Sky headbands to keep the mask and exfoliator out of your hair when you are using it.

As with the porefining clay mask, the exfoliating treatment is made with Australian pink clay. It promises to “absorb oil and refine pores, and resurface and matify your skin.” Again, as with the porefining mask, the product is vegan friendly, cruelty free, PETA approved and contains “no nasties”.

The ingredients it contains will detox, exfoliate and resurface and invigorate your skin.

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The Australian pink clay acts like a magnet to detox by removing toxins, impurities and pollution from your skin. It also eliminates shine and helps to regulate oil production.

The exfoliator contains macadamia seeds, bamboo and finger lime. The macadamia seeds and bamboo removes any dead and dry skin to make your skin feel instantly softer and with a healthy glow. The finger lime then speeds up cell regrowth for a fresh glow.

The treatment also contains olive oil, rosehip and grapeseed which nourish the skin, and witch hazel which gently tightens pores and perks the skin up.

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To use the treatment you start by applying it to cleansed and moist skin. Once applied, massage the treatment into your skin all over your face. Be warned, don’t rub really hard as the treatment it is quite abrasive!

After you’ve given it a good rub over your skin for 30 seconds, leave the treatment on for five minutes to get to work. This is when you will feel your skin start to tingle and the treatment start to get to work and detox.

After five minutes, rinse the treatment off with warm water and then gently pat your skin dry. Sand and Sky recommend that you use your normal serum after this as the treatment will help your skin to absorb your skin care products and make them more effective.

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The treatment, as with the porefining mask, can also be used as a spot treatment as well. Simply add a tiny bit of the treatment to the area and leave on for a couple of hours before rinsing off.

As soon as I received the treatment I couldn’t wait to use it! I was really pleased at how effective the treatment was when I was massaging it into my skin and I could feel it working after just a few seconds. I was surprised that the instructions said to leave the product on for only five minutes, especially as the other Sand and Sky product clay mask has to be left to dry for ten, but when I read up on it the website said the product was designed to be used quickly whilst you are in the shower and didn’t need to be left on for any longer than that. (Be warned – awful selfie picture below!)

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After five minutes I wiped it off and I could see my face was slightly red where I had been massaging the treatment but it was by no means a bad or sore red colour, more of a “glow”. After patting my skin dry, my skin felt much softer than it had before,however at first I didn’t think it felt any less oily. It was only after my skin had dried properly that I could feel that my skin felt matified with no oil and really smooth and soft.

I was impressed with this product and will definitely keep using it as my only exfoliator but I did still prefer the results of the porefining mask if I had to choose between the two. The exfoliating treatment is ideal for regular use (I have combination to oily skin and Sand and Sky recommend using the treatment between one and three times a week) or for when you are short of time, whereas I am using their porefining face mask once or twice a week.

Overall though, another amazing product from Sand and Sky and I hope they continue to make more of these great skincare products in the future. After using their two skincare products I’m definitely a customer for life!

The Naked Bakery

Well you all know by now what a cake and sweet treats fanatic I am so here is another one of my absolute favourite online bakery’s!

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I came across The Naked Bakery on Instagram. What I love most about them is that they offer a wide variety of goodies rather than just specialising in cakes or cupcakes – they offer everything from macarons and meringues to doughnuts and even wedding cakes!

They are called The Naked Bakery because they offer products which are gluten free, plant based, RAW and vegan. All their products are free from dairy, eggs and any animal products, and if you want your products to also be gluten free you have this option too when you order!

I’ve placed a couple of orders with the Naked bakery over the past few months and the products I have ordered have always been brilliant! Their treats not only look but taste incredible

Here are some of the lovely things I’ve ordered from this fantastic bakery so far;

Unicorn Macarons

The unicorn macarons come in boxes of six or twelve and you can pretty much have any flavour you want!

Just a few of the flavours include vanilla, strawberry, lemon, mint, caramel, peanut butter and jam, red velvet, cookie dough, candy floss and bubble gum! Amazing choices!

So far I have tried the cookie dough, bubble gum and candy floss flavours and they were all delicious!

Unicorn Cupcakes

This is probably my favourite product from the Naked Bakery! I’ve ordered a batch of Unicorn Cupcakes with every order I’ve made so far!

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You can order Unicorn cupcakes in any flavour you like including candy floss and bubble gum!

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If you choose a vanilla sponge base they will colour the sponge to any colour you like or as multi coloured. They look and taste fantastic and the pictures really don’t do them justice! Perfect for a Birthday party (or to scoff all to yourself just as I have done!)

Oreo Cupcakes

A chocolate flavoured cupcake filled and topped with Oreo flavoured icing and a glittery Oreo biscuit! The icing on top and the Oreo flavoured filling is delicious and these cupcakes are real show-stoppers!

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White Chocolate and Raspberry Skull Cupcakes

Don’t these look AMAZING?? Again the pictures really don’t do them justice!

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A raspberry and white chocolate sponge topped with a marbled white chocolate buttercream and then topped with a hand painted rose gold coloured skull. I’m definitely going to order some of these around Halloween this year!

So as you can see, they have some fantastic products! I’m hoping to do another order with them very soon but there is just one downside to Naked Bakery – their online shop is often closed due to being fully booked with orders!

You can access the Naked Bakery shop and check product availability here.

At the moment the Naked Bakery are also running a “kickstarter” campaign with the aim of opening a shop to sell all their delicious goodies from!

They only have until 8th July to reach their goal, so please donate if you can! You can read more about their campaign here. All pledges receive something in return, I’ve got everything crossed that they will meet their target on time!!

A day in Bruges

It wasn’t until I saw the 2008 Colin Farrell movie “In Bruges”, a black comedy about two Irish hitmen hiding out, that I had even heard of this Belgian town! I went from first hearing about it, to adding it onto my “absolutely must visit” list less than half an hour into this film…

Seeing this town used as a backdrop for this film was almost a distraction from the storyline itself. The film, as it’s title suggests, does an incredible job of showing Bruges at its best – the beautiful architecture, the stunning Belfry and the wonderful little old bridges. Soon after we had watched the film for the first time, we were booked on a long weekend to go and visit Amsterdam and Bruges!  In fact, we were booked to go on this trip in the May and enjoyed it so much that we booked up to go back again only a few months later in the August!

You always have to take care when you first see a place in a film and decide it is the next place to visit after falling in love with all the Hollywood imagery and effects. You are either going to visit somewhere and find that it completely exceeds your expectations and the film represents it exactly how it is. I’ve found this to be true with Las Vegas, New York and Thailand (Thailand as in Leonardo Dicaprio in “The Beach”.) I’ve also been bitterly disappointed with some places I’ve visited after seeing them featured on the silver screen (spoiler alert – Hollywood is an absolute DUMP in real life!) so I really didn’t know what to expect on my arrival here.

I’m pleased to say that it was everything I had hoped it to be, which is obviously why I booked to go back so soon! It is a beautiful city and in my opinion completely under-rated.

Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact, making it one of the most well-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

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Grote Markt is the largest of Bruges’ two central squares. It is full of beautiful architecture and buildings which have real character – here you will find some Nineteenth century gabled buildings along three sides of the square, and the fourth side features the breathtaking Belfort. There are horse drawn carriages galore within the square if you would like a whistle stop tour of all the main sights. Perfect on those bright and sunny days but beware, they are expensive, as most touristy trips tend to be!

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Whilst here we went for lunch on the square and sat outside so we had a beautiful view of the Belfry. We had been pre-warned that the food would be expensive but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. We sat in the sunshine and had a lovely lunch and some drinks whilst admiring the views and people watching, so well worth it I thought! If you are put off the prices in Grote Markt then if you walk a few streets away from the square you will find places with more reasonable prices (but not as much of a view, obviously!)

 

Anyway, after our pit stop and refreshment break we went on a mission to explore as much as we could during our short time here! Here are some of the main sights that Bruges has to offer;

The Belfry

As the Belfry is Bruges most famous landmark it would be wrong to start with anything else! It features heavily in the In Bruges film and storyline. It is a medieval tower from the 13th Century and used to house a treasury and municipal archives. The city archives were very sadly lost in a huge fire in 1280, and the tower was largely rebuilt.

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The poor Belfry has actually been subject to three fires over the years, the last one was in 1741 when the wooden spire was destroyed and never replaced. If you want to go all the way to the top you can, and you would be a braver person than I am! Friendly word of advice – if you are planning on going to the top of the tower, DON’T watch the In Bruges film before you go!

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There is a fee of 8 euros to climb the 366 steps to the top of the bell tower and it stands at 83 metres (or 272 feet) high! It is at the South end of the Markt (you can’t miss it!) and is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm. You don’t have to do the entire 366 steps all in one go, as on the way up to the tower you can stop at various levels to see the old bells and watch the big bell and see the carillon in action. There are a total of 47 bells which make up the carillon, and they ring every quarter of an hour.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood

Even if you don’t have time to venture inside here, it is worth visiting just to admire the dark gothic and romanesque exterior!

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The basilica consists of an upper and lower chapel and is dedicated to St Basil the Great. The lower chapel was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style and the upstairs chapel was built in the Gothic style in the 16th Century and houses a venerated relic (the physical remains or personal effects of a saint which have been preserved to be used as a memorial for them). The relic is of St Basil the Great and was brought here by Count Robert II from Caesarea Mazaca in modern day Turkey, or Cappadocia, Asia Minor as it was known then.

The basilica is also famous for housing a phial said to contain a cloth with the blood of Jesus Christ on it. This was rumoured to have been brought to the City by Thierry of Alsace after the 12th Century second crusade, however recent research found no evidence of the relic being in Bruges before the year 1250. The phial is made of rock crystal, there is gold thread wound around the neck and the top is sealed with red wax. It is then encased in a glass fronted gold cylinder. I wish we had taken the time to go in and see this now!

St. Salvator’s Cathedral

The cathedral is one of very few buildings in Bruges which has survived all the ages with no damage. It was originally built as a parish church and was not given cathedral status until 1834.

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The newly defined cathedral underwent significant changes after that to make sure it looked more cathedral-esque, and a fortress like Romanesque style tower 99 metres high was built.

Provincial Palace

This is a really beautiful neo-gothic style building which was actually built in two stages the first stage was between 1887 and 1892 and the second stage between 1914 to 1921.

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The building was originally used as a government meeting hall until 1999 and is now used mainly for exhibitions.

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Church of our Lady

We didn’t have time to actually visit here properly and go inside which was a real shame. Even in the distance looking at the beautiful spire you could tell what an impressive building it is. Its tower is 122 metres in height and the building is the tallest in the city and the second tallest brickwork tower in the WORLD!

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Even more annoying, I learned after we had got home that inside you can find Michaelangelo’s “Madonna and Child” sculpture in the transept, believed to have been the only sculpture by Michelangelo to have left Italy within his lifetime. We really should have taken the time to visit here properly!

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The Old St. John’s Hospital

This, as the name suggests, is an old medieval hospital which was founded in the 12th century. It is located next to The Church of our Lady and houses some of Europes oldest surviving hospital buildings. Today part of the hospital buildings houses the popular Hans Memling museum.

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If you have the time to take a boat trip during your visit to Bruges, you’ll get some spectacular views of the Church and the Old St John’s hospital en-route. The trips only cost around 10 euros and can take you to places in the town that you otherwise can’t reach! The pictures of the Church of our Lady and the Old St John’s hospital are spectacular from the water.

If you have time, also check out the well preserved old city gateways; the Kruispoort, the Gentpoort, the Smedenpoort and the Ezelpoort.

And of course, no trip to Bruges would be complete without window shopping at some of the famous Belgian chocolate on offer! Oh, and waffles, you MUST have some Belgian waffles whilst you are here!

Bruges is ever so easy to get around, the train station is only about 2km from the town centre and the train station adjoins the bus station. Local buses can take you from the train station to the town centre or there are plenty of taxis around if you prefer.

Although we visited Bruges both times during the summer months, the weather was still very unpredictable! The first time we visited it was very dark and cold and the rain didn’t stop the whole time we were there! It was no fun trying to capture some good photos in this awful weather, however, the second visit to Bruges with glorious sunshine partly made up for this! Always plan ahead and check the weather before you go – it really can be one extreme to another!

A really beautiful place which is well worth a visit – I would love to go again, but would like to actually stay in Bruges this time, rather than just do a day trip here. A day just isn’t long enough to explore and uncover all that this place has to offer!

Coco & Eve Coconut & Fig Hair Masque

The story which ended in me buying this coconut and fig hair mask is identical to the Sand and Sky Porefining clay mask I bought – I came across an advert for it on Instagram and, as I tend to do with all these other fabulous looking products I come across, I took a screenshot of the advert on my phone to remind me to order some at a later date.

I was spending the week in London doing some training, and as the course was finishing at around 4:30pm every day, I had plenty of time to mooch around and do some “window shopping”. I walked past Harvey Nichols and instantly the amazing cosmetics display caught my eye! I hadn’t realised they were a stockist of several of these products I had come across on Instagram such as Coco & Eve, Sand & Sky and Winky Lux – I had always thought you could only order these items exclusively online!

Anyway, I went in to have a closer look and as soon as I saw the Coco & Eve hair masque I’d had my eye on for the past few months, I knew I had to get one!

The super nourishing coconut and fig hair masque is a five in one treatment which restores dry and damaged hair, improves hair texture and shine, hydrates and deeply conditions, treats split ends and tames frizz and promises to transform your hair in only ten minutes.

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The treatment is sulphate free, phthalate free, paragon free, colour safe, gluten free, cruelty free, PETA approved and 100% vegan!

The benefits of the masque are:

  1. The masque rejuvenates and revives parched hair, damaged by heat, styling, dyes and the environment.
  2. The masque deeply conditions to replenish lost moisture to hydrate.
  3. Improves texture and shine for silky soft hair.
  4. Restores hair to its virgin state to treat split ends and tame frizz.
  5. And all of this you can feel and see after just one wash.

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Check out the fantastic ingredients in the masque;

Raw virgin coconuts from Bali add shine and softness to the hair. They also strengthen and repair the hair by preventing hair breakage and split ends. The coconut also helps prevent problems such as dandruff.

The essence of fig and shea butter work to moisturise and detangle the hair without making it heavy and weighing it down.

Linseed improves the gloss and texture of your hair so it’s silky soft to the touch.

Argan oil treats split ends and tames frizziness to make your hair more manageable whilst adding gloss and shine.

 

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Anyway, so as soon as I got home from London I couldn’t wait to try out this new masque. I am a huge fan of intensive hair treatments in the form of masks, my favourite to date is the Redken extreme intense treatment, however I have to be careful with these types of treatments as my hair is so greasy. I find the treatments usually work really well but the following day my hair feels weighed down with product and gets far more greasy far more quickly.

I also have to be careful with these products because I do tend to end up using far too much! It’s hard to decide how much of this product to use – I don’t want to use loads unnecessarily and waste it, but I should think I need to coat all of my hair in product in order for it to work, it is a mask after all!

I do have long hair so I decided on a decent half-palm-full of product to start me off, and this seemed to cover fine. The difference in this masque is the inclusion of a “tangle tamer” brush, which you brush through your hair after you have applied the product. I thought this was a really good idea and would make sure the product was easily spread and covered all areas of the hair! Make sure when you have finished brushing your hair through that you don’t end up with a load of product stuck in the bristles of the brush though!

I left the mask on for ten minutes, despite my eagerness to leave it one for far longer. With other intensive masks I tend to leave them to work as long as possible, and often leave them on overnight before rinsing them out in the morning! I wanted to see if the product delivered the results it promised after the ten minutes it quoted before I decided what I thought about it though. The website advises that I should use the masque once a week as I have greasy hair, and those with dry hair should use the masque 2 to 3 times a week.

After ten minutes I washed the mask off, it washed out of my hair very easily and didn’t leave any residue, which is something I do find with some of the other makes of masks. As I was rinsing it out my hair felt lovely and smooth and soft so I was really looking forward to seeing the results when I had dried and styled my hair.

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You can buy your hair masques online here. The masques cost £34.90 each, I haven’t used a whole tub yet so I don’t know exactly, but I would estimate you get around ten uses from one tub.

The ONLY downside I have found with this product is, as useful as the tangle tamer brush is, I don’t think it is necessary to include one in every single set which is sold. I think they could be an optional extra if you would like one, but otherwise I think we need to consider the fact that they are plastic and after the third or fourth one you get, and after leaving one in your handbag and one in your car and a spare, I think we may find any extras just being thrown away which isn’t very good!

Otherwise, I am in love with this product and will definitely be replacing all my existing hair treatments for this one as soon as I have finished using them! It is easy to use, lightweight on my hair and the results are impressive after just one ten minute use!

The Jack the Ripper Museum

I’ve spent a lot of time in London over the last couple of months on training courses so I’m always looking for things to do in the late afternoon and early evening to take full advantage whilst I am away from home!

During my last training course I was staying in the Whitechapel area and came across the Jack the Ripper Museum which was only a few minutes walk from my hotel. I am an absolute crime story fanatic and of course the Jack the Ripper story is one of the oldest and most famous unsolved crime stories so I knew I had to pay a visit. I did it just in time too, as it was closed towards the end of May for a refurbishment!

I am not sure whether I timed my visit perfectly or not as I was the only person in the museum the whole time I was there! At first I thought how fantastic, I can get up close to all the exhibits without having to wait, but as soon as I had been walking round the eerie and haunting exhibits for a few minutes I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea…..

In 1888, Jack the Ripper committed a series of murders in the east end of London which shocked the entire world. The Killings spawned hundreds of theories, with each one trying to solve the crimes which, to this day, remain a mystery.

The museum is at 12 Cable Street, and is set in a beautiful Victorian terraced house. It is set across the six floors of the museum and each floor has a different setting;

First Floor – The Murder scene in Mitre Square

This scene relates to the 30th September 1888, the most famous date in Ripper history. In here are two waxwork figures, one of Catherine Eddowes, the second woman who died on this date and Police Constable Watkins, who discovered her body. On one side of the room is a worker’s cart under a street light. These carts were used to move the bodies of the murdered women to the morgue.

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One of the morgues used to store Jack the Ripper’s victims was only a few streets away from the museum. On the wall there is a replica of original graffiti which was left at the murder scene.

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Second Floor – Ripper’s Sitting Room

This room is set up to show how Jack the Ripper may have lived during these times and where he may have planned his murder.

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In this room are newspaper clippings which were written in 1888 and chart the progress of the serial killer’s awful crimes.

Hanging over the fireplace is an original drawing by the person who was the prime suspect in the Jack the Ripper killings, Walter Sickert. To this date there is a debate on whether the subject of the drawing is sleeping or if something more sinister is actually going on…..

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On one of the tables are medical instruments, poison, drug bottles and a skull belonging to the killer.

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On the desk, medical books on surgery and dissection are displayed, along with a letter addressed “from Hell” which may have been written by the Ripper.

A Doctor’s bag which contains knives similar to those used to kill and mutilate the Ripper’s victims is on the floor by the desk.

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Third Floor – Police Station

In this room you will find all the evidence and the profiles of the suspects.

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A crime board shows the sites of all the murders and the evidence the police collected.

In the display case is the actual whistle Police Constable Watkins blew to call for help when he found Catherine Eddowes’ mutilated body in Mitre Square.

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Also here is Police Constable Watkins’ notebook, handcuffs and truncheon he was carrying that day.

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By the desk is a waxwork of Chief Inspector Abberline, the detective in charge of leading the hunt for the Ripper in 1888.

Fourth Floor – Victim’s Bedroom

Up a steep and eerie staircase you can find the fourth floor, which has been arranged as the victims bedrooms may have looked in these times. The walls up this staircase are not decorated in newspaper headings and stories like the others in the rest of the house.

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Jack the Ripper’s victims would have lived in rooms just like this one, in one of London’s most poverty stricken areas.

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A small metal bed with a straw mattress was all the comfort these women would have had. Gin was often the drink of choice in those days, with a bottle costing only a few pence.

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There are rare photos of the victims on the wall of this room, as haunting music quietly plays in the background.

In the display case in this room are some original Victorian bonnets. These would have been worn by women to cover their hair, which would have rarely been washed in those days.

Basement – The Mortuary

This room details the violence of Jack the Ripper’s crimes which still shock everyone today. Note, this room is deemed unsuitable for the under 16’s.

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On the walls of this room are original autopsy photos of the horrific murders which some people may find disturbing. I was really worried about going in here after I read this but most of the photos do not show much detail and, due to when they were taken, are not clear. Having said that, I am a true crime buff and have looked at lots of photos like this so I am quite immune to this type of thing, so please exercise caution if you do get to visit the museum.

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The body of Elizabeth Stride was taken to the parish mortuary of St George-in-the-East. The building, which is only moments from the museum, was once a chapel. On the far wall is a Victorian stained glass window from the mortuary.

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Next to the stained glass window are drawers that were used to store the bodies of the dead until they were collected for burial.

Some of the murdered women had no families to collect their remains. They were buried in mass paupers’ graves and their last resting place unmarked.

and of course, as with most museums, you exit through the;

Gift shop on the Ground Floor

In here you will find a large selection of gift, ceramics, prints and memorabilia which can only be found at the Jack the Ripper museum.

If you would like to read more about the museum or book tickets online you can find their website here.

If this is a case which particularly interests you, you can become a Ripperologist by joining through the museum’s website. The Jack the Ripper museum is the official home of the International Society of Ripperologists  and this worldwide community is dedicated to the study of the Whitechapel murders and in solving the ultimate question – who was Jack the Ripper?

Sand and Sky Porefining Clay Mask

I saw this Australian Pink Clay Porefining Clay Mask advertised on Instagram a while ago and made a note to give it a try at a later date. At the time I was still working my way through my stock of Lush Jelly masks and fresh face masks because, as usual, I couldn’t settle for just one mask, I had to have them all!

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Anyway after saving to move out for several months and foregoing my usual facials at my local beauty salon, my skin was most definitely looking worse for wear and needed something a little extra.

I was spending the week in London doing some training, and as the course was finishing at around 4:30pm every day, I had plenty of time to mooch around and do some “window shopping”.

On one of the days I walked past Harvey Nichols and instantly the Sand and Sky display caught my eye! I hadn’t realised they were a stockist of this product, and to be honest I thought you could only order the face mask online.

I went in to have a closer look, it looked like they had only just got some of this amazing product in stock as they only had the face mask and not the exfoliator, however they were already running low on stocks of the face mask!

Anyway, I was (quite easily) persuaded to buy a pot of this amazing sounding product and I looked forward to getting home at the end of the week to give it a try!

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The face mask is a four in one treatment which promises to tighten pores, supercharge your glow, detoxify and brighten.

Detox

It contains pink Australian clay which deeply cleanses the skin, purifies and tightens pores.

Invigorate

It also contains Organic Liquorice, which stimulates new cell production, and Old Mans Weed which reduces pigmentation.

Refine

It contains Aloe Vera to tighten pores and soothe irritation, and pomegranate which helps boost the production of collagen for plumper skin.

Brighten

It finally contains Kakadu Plum (which is apparently the worlds richest source of Vitamin C!), Kelp and Organic Mangosteen. This combination acts a defence for the skin and leaves skin glowing and clear.

The website will give you more details about what kind of results to expect depending on different skin types. I have combination/oily skin and it describes my skin issues as being excess oil resulting in shiny skin and being prone to blackheads and whiteheads due to excess build up of impurities which makes your pores look larger (yuck, but SPOT ON!)

It says the mask will “mop up excess oil and remove oily debris from deep in the pores”. It says my “skin will feel clean and magnified after each use and over time, skin may become less oily and pores less noticeable”. (Quite the promise!)

It then goes on to give tips for the best use of the mask and that I should use it 2-3 times a week. The product is also a really effective spot treatment which can be left on overnight and to help dry the spot out.

Sand and Sky’s brilliant website also provides more details on what to expect if you have dry and sensitive skin and acne prone skin. You can read more on the product page here.

The mask is Vegan friendly, PETA friendly, cruelty free and contains “no nasties”.

When I got round to using the product, I was disappointed at the size of the pot (60g). Although it is very wasteful, I do like to have my face and hair masks very thick, so I was worried I would get through this expensive pot of product in just two or three uses!

Anyway, I was pleased to see that the product included a little applicator brush, which I thought was a brilliant idea. One of my pet hates is when you’ve got lots of product left on your hands at the end of the process and you can’t get any more of it off and onto your face, so you end up washing the leftovers down the plughole!! Having a little brush to apply it with is far more hygienic than applying it with your fingers too!

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The brush makes this product so, so easy to apply and means you can get an even application all over, I’m honestly not sure why no other face masks seem to have caught on to this fantastic idea! Once you have used the brush it rinses out really easily and dries again very quickly for the next use.

As soon as I applied the product to my face I could feel it working and my skin start to tingle. It is hard to describe but it is almost like you can feel your pores opening up and the product drawing all the nastiness out!

I was surprised when the instructions said to leave the product on for ten minutes. As I said, I usually use a lot of product and so after ten minutes the product usually hasn’t even begun to dry! I couldn’t believe it when after ten minutes, the whole mask had completely dried and changed to a white clay.

Beware of awful face mask photos below! Not for the faint hearted!

The mask is really tightening on the skin, and it is really hard to even smile when it has completely set (I am trying to smile in the second photo I promise!!)

It set so quickly and tightly that the first thing I thought to myself was how difficult this mask was going to be to scrub off! I thought if people are having to spend 30 minutes harshly scrubbing their faces to get this mask off then I would have thought their skin would be exfoliated and refreshed by default!

I was once again pleasantly surprised when I started to rub the mask off with a wet sponge, and as soon as the mask became wet it literally just wipes away! It took only a few seconds to wipe the entire mask off and I noticed the difference the mask had made to my skin straight away.

The pores which had been most visible on my face were now substantially reduced and the mask had left my skin feeling clean, really soft, with no oils and with almost a matte finish. A lot of my pores in problem areas such as my nose and chin still needed a good cleanse, but after just one use I felt confident that after a couple more uses I would have cleared out all of these pores entirely, I had that much faith in this product after just one go!

I have used the product seven times now over the past couple of weeks and, as you can see from the picture, still have quite a bit of product left so it lasts far longer than I had anticipated (there’s at least a third of the pot left).

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Sand and Sky’s face mask is one of the best products I have ever used and I have already ordered two more packs! It is so quick and easy to apply, is not messy and the use of the brush ensures you apply just the right amount of product without waste. You can feel it working straight away, it dries really quickly and is easily washed off without making a mess. Ideal if you are pushed for time before going on a big night out! The results are noticeable after only one use and have only continued to improve after each use.

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If you have the opportunity to get your hands on this then I highly recommend you do! The price tag is expensive (£39.90 per pot), however you can save up to 20% if you go online and buy a set of two (known as the Bestie’s Kit) which will cost you £63.84 for the two. They also offer free world-wide delivery as well so there are no expensive delivery fees to add on!

You can read more about Sand and Sky and their products on their website here.

I can’t wait to try their Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment next!

 

Camden Market

 

God I love this place! I first visited in March 2017 and was absolutely blown away! I’ve been meaning to go back and then a local coach trip advertised a day trip here on the Sunday of the May day bank holiday so I booked it for me, hubby, my friend and her husband to spend the day here.

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As it was a Sunday (and a bank holiday) I knew it would be busy, but I had already earmarked the places I wanted to visit! There’s so much to see and do at Camden Market but here are just some of the highlights (obviously mainly food related!)

Oli Baba’s Halloumi Fries

This was one of the main reasons we first visited Camden Market, to sample these famous halloumi fries!

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The chunks of halloumi are deep fried and then coated in a delicious topping of pomegranate molasses, fresh mint, chilli flakes, za’atar yogurt, pomegranate seeds and sumac! Delicious! Hint: you get a LOT of halloumi per serving so if you want to try other food at the market, I suggest you share between at least two of you!

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The Mac Factory

THE best mac and cheese in London!

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The Mac Factory do six amazing flavours –

Nostalgic – a classic cheese blend.

La Med Babe – Basil Pesto, Baby Mozzarella Balls and Semi-dried tomato.

Super Mario – Sauteed Mushroom, Truffle Oil and garlic.

Posh Spice – Spicy chorizo, Caramelised onions and Harissa.

Hey Mac-Arena – Beef Chilli, Tortilla Crisps, Sour Cream and Jalapeño.

Mambo Italiano – Smoked Pancetta, Mushroom and Garlic.

I always have the Nostalgic flavour but my friend tried the Mambo Italiano and it looked amazing! This place is a must try!

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Highlander Game

Metre long Polish sausages. Not joking!

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A great idea but you won’t be able to eat anything else after trying one of these bad boys!

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La Churreria

I love, love, love churros and these churros are some of the best I’ve ever had! They are served warm with a variety of toppings – my favourites are the caramel sauce and mini marshmallows!

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Half Hitch Gin

If you like gin then this place is a must visit! I don’t drink gin but it smelt delicious and there are friendly staff there who will let you sample some before you buy! Small bottles are £10 each and the large bottles are £35 each, I bought a few bottles for gin loving family and friends!

 

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Chin Chin Labs Ice-cream

My favourite ice cream place! I have one of these nearly every time I go to London! My favourite is the killer cone – a red waffle cone filled with marshmallow fluff which is then toasted, with a scoop of your favourite ice-cream on top! Delicious!

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I’ve also had the amazing sticky toffee sponge cake topped with vanilla ice-cream and a lemon caramel tuile – highly recommended!

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and a limited edition red velvet cake with cream cheese ice-cream and cinnamon toast sprinkled on top! Amazing!

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There are also so many other amazing food places to choose from while you are here;

We really wanted to try the Dutch pancakes but didn’t get the chance on this occasion! Definitely one for next time!

Moomin and Littlephant

Who knew you could still buy Moomin merchandise?? I remember watching the Moomin’s with my sisters when I was little! This shop was a real trip down memory lane!

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Make sure you check out the Stables Market – these old stables date back to 1894 and have some beautiful ornate designs above the shops.

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and here you will find shops selling everything from clothes to jewellery to confectionary to lanterns to cakes and fudge, and anything and everything you can imagine in between.

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Of course, no trip to Camden Market is complete without a visit to see the Amy Winehouse statue…it’s lovely how she stands there amongst the crowds in her home town.

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I highly recommend you pay a visit as soon as possible! I already can’t wait to go back again!

Nashville, a journey to the Deep South

I’ve always wanted to visit Nashville – the home of Country and Western music!

Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and we visited as part of our big tour of the deep south of America so unfortunately our time here was pretty limited. In fact, although we spent roughly the same time in some of the other locations such as Memphis, Chattanooga and Tupelo, Nashville was the one place I really noticed that we wouldn’t have enough time to see the vast majority of the sights this fantastic place had to offer.

I couldn’t wait to visit, mainly to learn more about the history of country and western music, as Nashville is known as the centre of the country music industry, earning it the nickname “Music City”.

Although it was very limited, here’s what we managed to squeeze in during our short time here;

The first point of interest made me chuckle – the John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge – also known by the locals as the Dolly Parton bridge due to its two rather large humps….

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RCA Studio B is a recording studio which was originally known as RCA Studios. The studio helped to revive the popularity of country music and establish Nashville as an international recording centre. 

The recording studio is a single-storey building with offices at the front, but the area of the studio and control room has a second storey which contains an echo chamber.

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Famous artists who recorded songs at Studio B include The Everly Brothers, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, and the one and only, Elvis Presley! In her 1994 memoir, My Life And Other Unfinished Business, Dolly Parton told the story of how she was rushing to her first recording session at the studio in September 1967 and, rushing to make the session on time, drove her car through the side wall of the building. The spot where her car impacted the building is still visible even today!

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Daily tours of the studio are offered by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the tour guides have some fantastic stories to tell which have been gathered over the years – including Elvis Presley banging his head on a low hanging microphone during the recording of “Are you lonesome tonight?” The sound of him doing it can still be heard on the original recording they play for you!

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We also visited the Nashville Parthenon which is in Centennial Park. It is a full scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens and was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Today it is used as an art museum – it is really impressive to look at!

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I don’t even really know how to begin explaining the amazing Country Music Hall of Fame! It is absolutely huge! It is one of the world’s largest museums and this is obvious as soon as you step inside! You could spend weeks here looking at the memorabilia and reading the information contained within one of the world’s most extensive musical collections. 

Here are just a few of the incredible items and collections you can find inside;

Elvis Presley’s gold cadillac – the 1960 Cadillac was customised by Barris Kustom City of North Hollywood. The exterior sheen is due to its 24 carat gold plate highlights and forty painted coats of a translucent mixture of crushed diamonds and fish scales called diamond dust pearl. The interior includes a gold plated television and a record player with automatic changer!

Taylor Swift’s crystal covered guitar! Swoon! The pictures didn’t do it justice at all!

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Elvis Presley’s 24 carat gold leaf piano (starting to see a theme here!) I don’t think this is actually here anymore, as news articles seem to suggest it sold in an auction to the Hard Rock Cafe for $600,000!! I’m glad I got to see it whilst I was there!

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Plus rooms and rooms and rooms of memorabilia from hundreds and hundreds of Country and Western music stars, including Roy Rogers, Patsy Montana, Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, Red Foley, T. Texas Tyler, Spade Cooley, Merle Travis, Hank Thompson, Cindy Walker, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, Keith Urban, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Patsy Kline, Tammy Wynette and infamous names like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton…. the list goes on!

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After spending a good few hours here we continued to explore this amazing city and came across the Johnny Cash Museum. 

God, I really regret not visiting here but I don’t know how we would have had the time!

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It features the largest and most comprehensive collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world, and is located in the heart of Downtown Nashville. It is one of only six attractions in Nashville to receive the coveted AAA Gem rating and is ranked the number 1 music museum in the world by Forbes, Conde’ Naste and National Geographic Traveler – if you get the chance – GO!

Walking the streets of Nashville is amazing feeling. It is so relaxed, and everywhere you look are shops selling Cowboy hats and Cowboy Boots, or really expensive guitars.

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There are bars open everywhere with live music being played and even street sellers selling famous Moonshine! The stuff looked lethal so no, we didn’t have any!

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There’s so much to see and do here, its easy to see why people love it and call it the home of Country and Western music! I just hope I get the opportunity to go back some day!

 

A picnic at The Bush Inn

For all of you who love a good old Afternoon Tea, have I got a treat for you! This is no ordinary Afternoon Tea, it is called a Picnic Bench and is piled high with delicious home-made treats, and it can only be found at a place called The Bush Inn in Hereford.

I have been meaning to visit here since towards the end of last year after seeing their amazing Winter Picnic Bench doing the rounds on Facebook, but with the house move going on and loads of family events, I just didn’t get round to going!

My friends husband booked for them to go as a surprise for Valentines Day and as soon as I saw the photos I knew I had to go as soon as possible! My friend booked the four of us in at the end of April and I was counting down the days until we could go!

Anyway, we booked just in time for their Spring range of picnic benches, and the food on offer was all of my absolute favourites!! I couldn’t believe it when the menu was released,  it was like it was made especially for me!

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Here’s what the Spring picnic bench is made up of:

Chicken burger with salad

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Mozzarella stick with salsa

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Basket of seasoned waffle fries

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Mini macaroni cheese

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Mint Aero cheesecake in a shot glass

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Citrus jelly in a shot glass

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Mini jam jar of passion fruit posset

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Rocky Road slice

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Lemon Victoria sponge cake

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White chocolate coated cake pop

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all served with a mini bottle of Berry Fizz and a Mini Mojito!

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A vegetarian version is available on request – this option is a nut roast burger as an alternative to the chicken burger and everything else remains the same as it is all suitable for vegetarians.

You can only book by calling them directly (01432 830206) and 24 hours notice is required – although be warned, they only serve their picnic benches for a couple of hours a day (12pm to 2pm Tuesday to Saturday, 6:30pm to 8:30pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays 6:00pm to 8:30pm and Saturdays 5:45pm to 7pm) and so places sell out extremely quickly!

The price is £16.50 per person which is an absolute bargain for the amount and quality of food you get per person, I have paid double this for a posh afternoon tea which left me feeling hungry afterwards!

They don’t have a specific website but if you are on Facebook you can find their Facebook page here.

I highly recommend paying a visit if you have the opportunity! I will definitely be coming back! The seasonal picnic benches they have are brilliant. The Easter one they served recently looked delicious and the Winter version they had last year looked incredible so I would definitely like to try another seasonal one at some point! They are currently considering doing a Summer Picnic Bench and a Royal Wedding themed Picnic Bench in May to celebrate Harry and Meghan getting married – sounds a great idea to me!

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A trip to Kensington Palace

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I hadn’t ever thought about visiting Kensington Palace but when I told my Mum I wanted to visit London for the day and asked her what she fancied doing she said she had always wanted to visit! Even better, you can get Kensington Palace entry tickets by exchanging your Tesco Clubcard vouchers, bargain!

Kensington Palace is situated in Kensington Gardens and has been the residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th Century. It is currently the official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Eugenie.

Kensington Palace was built as a royal home for William III and Mary II at the end of the 17th Century. It has had many roles over the years, including a museum and a barracks for soldiers guarding the Great Exhibition. It used to be a small mansion known as Nottingham house. In 1689 the new monarchs, King William III and Queen Mary II, purchased Nottingham House for £20,000 and only weeks later, Sir Christopher Wren began work on transforming it into a royal palace. The new palace had a chapel, courtier accommodation, kitchens, stables, barracks and many grand rooms and state apartments. Queen Mary died in 1694 of smallpox in her bed chamber in the palace but had spent many years before designing and furnishing the palace.

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William didn’t make many alterations to the Palace, and his successor, Queen Anne, only reigned for a short time and so only added the orangery during her time. Anne left no heir and so the palace passed to her distant relative, George Ludwig.

The new King George liked Kensington Palace but found it to be in very poor condition and so plans were made to rebuild it on a much larger scale. A new set of State Apartments were built to replace the old Jacobean house in 1718 to 1722.

During the reign of King George II between 1727 and 1760, the Palace was used to its full potential as George and Queen Caroline enjoyed entertaining their guests in lavish ceremonies. Unfortunately, after Queen Caroline’s death in 1737, the King closed off half of the palace. King George died in his private apartments at Kensington Palace in October 1760.

George III showed little interest in Kensington Palace throughout his reign (1760-1820), but this did mean that the furnishings and paintings were left untouched in dark rooms for this time. The Palace eventually became home to George III’s two sons, Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Prince Augustus was a book collector, and amassed over 50,000 volumes in his apartment! Prince Edward was the father of Queen Victoria, who was born in the palace in 1819. In June 1837 she was told of her accession to the throne, and held her first council in the Red Saloon.

Queen Victoria’s daughters, Princess Louise and Princess Beatrice, later lived in the palace. Louise was a really gifted artist and left the legacy of the statue of the young Queen Victoria which sits at the east side of the palace.

A major restoration of the palace took place in 1898 under the orders of Queen Victoria and in 1912 the rooms were filled with display cases when the palace became home to the London Museum. A lot of damage was caused to the Palace by incendiary bombs during the Second World War.

In the 1960’s, Princess Margaret came to live at the Palace, and further members of the Royal Family began to arrive in the 1970’s and 1980’s, one of the most famous of these being Diana, Princess of Wales, who lived at Kensington Palace up to her death in 1997.

There are several tours you can take within Kensington Palace which are:

The Kings State Apartments

The Kings Staircase leads to the King’s State Apartments, and all visitors for the King would have climbed this staircase, (provided that their clothes and jewels were acceptable to the guards!) The staircase paintings were completed around 1726 by an artist called William Kent, who included a portrait of himself on the ceiling in a brown artists cap and holding a palette. Kent’s work was inspired by the work he had seen in Rome, where he trained to be an artist.

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The Presence Chamber was where the King would sit on his throne, under a crimson silk damask throne canopy, and important guests would be ushered in to bow to him.

The Privy Chamber was one of Queen Caroline’s favourite entertaining spaces. It has another amazing ceiling created by William Kent in 1723 and shows Mars, the Roman god of War, and Minerva the goddess of Wisdom, and surrounding them are the emblems representing the arts and sciences.

The Cupola Room was probably my favourite room of the Palace. This room was the first room decorated by William Kent. In this room he re-created in paint a baroque Roman palace but with the Star of the Order of the Garter as the ceiling’s centrepiece. George II and Queen Caroline hosted really lavish parties in this room.

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The strange object in the centre of this room is a clock and a music box as well as a piece of artwork, and was completed in 1743.

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The Kings Drawing Room would have been packed full of courtiers back in the day, who would have all attended the King’s parties seeking power and patronage.

On the ceiling William Kent has shown the powerful god Jupiter, who accidentally killed his lover Semele, and portraits of Venetian doges line the walls. Next door to this room was the King’s bedchamber, and halfway through the evening he would emerge to make his grand appearance.

The Council Chamber is located in one of Christopher Wren’s pavilions, built on the corners of the original Nottingham House and it has served William III, George I and George II as a meeting place for the Privy Council. The sort of court dress that would once have been worn in these state rooms is on display here.

Queen Caroline’s Closet is a small room which originally belonged to William III as his bedchamber. George I used this room to store books but these were removed after Queen Caroline made one of the most important art discoveries of the era. In 1727, she found hidden in a cabinet a portfolio containing many drawings made by Hans Holbein, the younger of Henry VIII and his courtiers. Caroline later made this room a gallery filled with 300 paintings, miniatures and embroideries.

The Kings Gallery was built for William III as an addition to Wren’s design in the new South front and was finished in around 1700. It was in here that William III played soldiers with his little nephew and intended heir, the Duke of Gloucester. After a riding accident at Hampton Court, it was here that the King caught the chill that led to his death on 8th March 1702.

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The gallery was transformed in 1725 by William Kent for George I. Red damask replaced the green velvet walls and the fine oak joinery was painted white and gilded. Kent and his assistants painted the seven large ceiling canvasses that show scenes from the life of Ulysses.

Queen’s State Apartments

The Queen’s State Apartments are deliberately plainer and lower-key than the Kings, both inside and out. Here you can learn more about the lives of Mary II, Queen Anne and the House of Stuart.

The Queen’s Staircase is a sharp contrast to the grand marble King’s staircase. These apartments were built for Queen Mary between 1689 and 1694.

The Queen’s Gallery was painted white and hung with full length portraits of Kings and Queens  of England. Later, Mary developed a passion for collecting treasures from India, China and Japan. She filled the gallery with artefacts such as Turkish carpets, embroidered hangings and lacquer furniture, alongside her collection of 150 pieces of oriental porcelain.

The Queen’s Closet was where a terrible argument took place between Queen Anne and her childhood friend Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough.

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The Queen’s Eating Room has beautiful panelling which has survived from the 17th Century. In here, William and Mary would share simple private dinners of fish and beer. Mary would also use this room to make tea with the ladies of her household.

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The Queen’s Drawing Room used to be filled with Mary II’s porcelain. This room is the room which is claimed to have lost most of its original character, as it badly damaged by an incendiary bomb on 14th October 1940. Most of the panelling was destroyed which is why the walls are now wallpapered.

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The Queen’s Bedroom was used by Mary as her State bedroom when she and William first moved into the palace. Just as soon as Christopher Wren had finished work on the Queen’s Apartments, Mary had her rooms extended to provide her with more accommodation. This resulted in the Queen’s Gallery and a new private bedchamber being built.

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Victoria Revealed

We were very disappointed because this exhibition was closed when we visited, and it was one of the main exhibitions we wanted to see! We will definitely have to revisit to see this. In this exhibition you can visit the rooms Queen Victoria grew up in and learn more about her life right through from her childhood to her final years. In this section of the palace we would have been able to see:

The Stone Staircase where Princess Victoria first met her cousin and future husband, Prince Albert, for the first time in 1836.

The Red Saloon where Victoria held her first Privy Council on the morning she became Queen in June 1837.

On this tour you will also learn more about how Victoria and Albert fell in love and Victoria’s lonely family life growing up at Kensington Palace.

There is also a separate exhibition about Price Albert known as the Great Exhibition, which was in 1851 and would later be known as his greatest piece of work. It showcased technological and cultural achievements from over the world and attracted over six million visitors.

Modern Royals

This is a changing display – when we were here it was a beautiful Diana exhibition showcasing some of her most famous outfits. Well worth a visit and it slightly made up for the fact that the Victoria exhibition was closed.

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The first dress below was designed by Bruce Oldfield, who designed many dresses for the Princess. She wore it at the Courtauld institute of Art, Somerset House in 1990 and again at the Buckingham Palace state banquet in 1991.The Princess chose the second dress in the below picture for an official visit to Japan. The colour was chosen to complement the flowering cherry blossoms.

Diana chose to wear the Spencer Tiara, a sparkling family heirloom, on a state visit to India in 1992. This second dress was designed to complement it. The embroidery on the bodice of this dress was based on traditional Indian patterns.

The Princess wore this first dress when she danced with actor John Travolta at the White House. This second dress was embellished with falcons, the national bird of Saudi Arabia, when the Princess visited there. The high neckline and long sleeves also respected local customs.

The second dress below was worn by the Princess when she visited Brazil, shortly after their national football team lost to Argentina in the World Cup. Conscious of her hosts feelings, she instructed the designer, Catherine Walker, to avoid the blue and white colours of the Argentinian team when she designed the gown.

The second dress below was worn to the New York gala event before the Christie’s Auction.

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You can also visit the beautiful Palace Gardens, which were transformed in 2012. During the winter months, Queen Anne’s orange trees were protected from the cold inside her magnificent orangery, which was built for her between 1704 and 1705. In the summer months, they were transferred to the terrace outside. Anne also added fountains and an alcove with a garden seat to the south gardens. This still exists but was moved to nearby Lancaster Gate in the 1860’s. In 1705, 100 acres were added to the east side of the palace to form a paddock for royal deer and antelope.

The majority of the works done to the gardens were down to Queen Caroline. She extended the plantings, laid the Broad Walk and had the Round Pond dug in 1728. The Serpentine was formed as a boating lake by flooding several smaller ponds.

The Sunken Garden was laid out during the reign of Edward VII and opened in 1909, and is the most popular of the Palace gardens.

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The east and the south sides of the palace were laid out in 2012 with a new scheme designed by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, inspired by the old layouts of lawns, trees, borders and topiary of George II’s time.

Queen Victoria is present at the front of the Palace in the form of a statue, which was designed by her daughter Louise.

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Kensington Palace was a lovely day out in spite of the cold, wet weather! A place I will definitely have to visit again so I can see the gardens properly in the sunshine and hopefully finally get to see the Victoria exhibition when it re-opens, which should be any day now….

Popaball Drink Shimmers

I first wrote a review over a year ago on Popaball’s amazing Rose Gold shimmer for prosecco, but things have come on a long way since then and Popaball now have a range of SIX of these amazing drinks shimmers, so I thought it was time to write an updated blog!

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Here is the full range of lovely drink shimmers you can currently get from Popaball;

Violet Shimmer

This one tastes delicious! It is blackcurrant flavour and can be used in any drink from champagne to lemonade!

Simply add 1/3 of a teaspoon of the shimmer to a glass of drink which is about half full and watch your drink turn a multicoloured unicorn effect until the bubbles settle, revealing your drink as a beautiful violet purple colour.

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This can also be used in cocktails as an alternative to creme de cassis! It is my favourite shimmer flavour-wise!

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Rose Gold Shimmer

The original drinks shimmer – I love this stuff! I bought several packs when it was released and it was brilliant to take to parties and on girls nights out to jazz up your prosecco. I’ve also bought several as gifts for family and friends!

Everyone loves the shimmery rose gold effect it creates in prosecco! It is raspberry flavoured and also contains edible gold leaf hearts!

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Just fill your glass 3/4 full with prosecco, slowly sprinkle in 1/3 of a teaspoon of the shimmer powder, watch it bubble up and then reveal a beautiful rose gold shimmering unicorn style prosecco! My favourite overall shimmer from the selection so far!

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Blue Pearl shimmer for Gin

This shimmer is designed to be used in gin and tonics, however, I don’t like gin so I have been drinking this in my prosecco just like the other flavours!

The Blue Pearl is blueberry flavoured and (if you are using it in your gin and tonics) you just need to fill 1/2 a glass with ice, add 25ml of gin, and top with tonic water, slowly sprinkle in 1/3 teaspoon of the shimmer powder and watch your gin bubble and then reveal a beautiful blue pearl mermaid style shimmery drink!

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If, like me, gin isn’t your thing, then as with the violet and rose gold shimmer, simply add 1/3 of a teaspoon in with your prosecco/champagne/lemonade or whatever you happen to be drinking!

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Popaball’s latest releases are the Gold, Silver and Bronze drink shimmers which are designed for any drink as they are completely flavourless. As with all the others just fill your glass 2/3 full with a sparkling drink of your choice and add 1/3 of a teaspoon of shimmer, watch it bubble up and then reveal either a lovely gold, silver or bronze coloured shimmery drink!

Gold Drink Shimmer

I was looking forward to trying the gold one most of all as gold is my favourite colour and we had gold and cream as our wedding colours!

When I used it for the first time I wish it had been around when we had got married – we could have put some in everyone’s toasting champagne so it matched our wedding theme!

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The gold one is lovely – really effective and really shimmery!

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Silver Drink Shimmer

This was the colour I was least bothered about out of the three, and when I first sprinkled the powder in I thought it didn’t have much of an effect….

However once all the bubbles have gone and you give the drink a good swirl, the silver colour is actually one of the most effective shimmers of the range!

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Again, if you are getting married this year and silver forms part of your colour theme, I would highly recommend the silver shimmer if one of your arrival or toasting drinks is prosecco or champagne!

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Bronze Drink Shimmer

I wasn’t too sure about this one as although I love bronze/copper colours at the moment, I thought the colouring might be a little bit too dark….. how wrong I was!

It’s true this is the darkest of all the colours from the range but it is also the most shimmery and effective.

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The pictures really don’t do it justice – I thought this had the best “shimmering” effect by far – maybe because the colour is so dark the golden glitter and sparkles stand out far better? This one is definitely another favourite of the range and will probably be the go-to shimmer as unlike my other favourites, the violet and the rose gold, this one is flavourless and so will go with any type of drink!

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I really highly recommend you trying them, the pictures really don’t do the shimmers justice and they are great for all kinds of occasions!

The shimmers cost £7.49 each, are 21 gram packs and each pack contains approximately 21 servings, so although the pots look small, they do last ages!

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Add more shimmer than recommended if you would like a greater effect and taste, but add only a little at a time because the shimmer does cause the drinks to fizz up and overflow if you aren’t careful! I’ve been caught out many times with this!

I wouldn’t add anymore than the recommended amount of the violet shimmer as the blackcurrant taste of this shimmer is quite strong and you only need a little bit for a great taste effect!

I have placed multiple orders with Popaball over the past year or so for their shimmers and bubbles, (and that doesn’t include their products I’ve bought from my local Lakeland), but over the Christmas period they sent me a free double pack of their bursting bubbles to say thank you for my custom over the past year!

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I thought this was a really lovely touch and customer service at its best! Thank you Popaball, it was much appreciated!

You can buy the whole range of shimmers and bubbles online at Popball’s website.

Sudeley Castle

I’ve been wanting to visit Sudeley Castle for ages and we finally went in December 2016 for their Spectacle of Light event. It was a fantastic event which you can read more about here, but we were a bit disappointed that the tickets for this event didn’t include access to the castle, just the surrounding grounds. Anyway, after we had finished wandering around the beautiful grounds we knew we would have to come back very soon to visit the rest! We chose a fantastic day to visit – bright sun and clear skies, and best of all, perfect conditions to take some photos!

The Tithe Barn is one of the first things you come across when you follow the path from the visitors centre. It is pretty stunning for a building which doesn’t have many walls left!

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A tithe was a compulsory payment to the church and represented a tenth of a person’s income. Tithes were frequently paid in agricultural goods and this barn was a store for these goods.

The barn was built in the 15th Century by Ralph Boteler but was destroyed by troops in the Civil War. Surrounding the barn are lovely flowers and shrubs including foxgloves, primroses and hydrangeas. Next to the Tithe Barn you will find a pond full of koi carp, along with your first views of the stunning castle.

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After visiting the Tithe barn you wander along the path until you come across “the Dungeons“. Above the Dungeons is the beautiful castle terrace where you can look out to the Isbourne Valley to Spoonley Wood, the site of a Roman Villa. The mosaic which appears on the terrace is an exact replica of one of the Spoonley Wood floors.

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Next you will come across the Mulberry Garden which lies alongside the terrace and was planted by Emma Dent in the 19th Century.

Mulberry trees were special to Emma, as she was the daughter of a silk manufacturer, and the leaves of a mulberry tree were the only source of food for the silkworms. There is in fact only one mulberry tree in the garden, however there look to be more than this because several trunks grow from one root.

The Dungeon Tower is next to the Mulberry Garden and is listed as an Ancient Monument in its own right.

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The basement area, (which you no longer can go down to unfortunately), housed the original dungeons which went down a total of three levels! In the 19th Century the tower was converted to stabling and offices. A human skeleton was found during the restoration works under the stones and another skull was discovered when the Mulberry Garden was planted. Unfortunately, to this day, it remains a mystery who the remains belong to….

The Royal Ruins are so beautiful to look at and great to photograph with the sun beaming down on them! During the War of the Roses, Sudeley Castle was confiscated by Edward IV, who gave it to his notorious younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester, (more commonly known as Richard III.)

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Richard recreated this area of the castle and built a huge and spectacular banqueting hall in the north east corner, the evidence of which still remains on show today. The huge gothic windows which formed part of the banqueting hall are particularly stunning.

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A large hole can be seen on the far side of the Octagon Tower in the corner,  caused by a cannonball during the second of the two sieges Sudeley endured during the 17th Century. After the war, the winning side ordered the castle to be snubbed and, as a result, most of the inner yard, including the banqueting hall, was destroyed.

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The ruins are now covered with plants and flowers including clematis and roses.

On the ground floor and mezzanine exhibition levels within the castle you will find a children’s museum, which includes a display about Brock, the family’s pet badger, and period-style costumes for the children to try on. Other exhibitions start at the Old Stables which show Sudeley’s timeline and some prehistoric and Anglo Saxon artefacts which have been discovered on the estate over the years. And if all that isn’t enough, you will also find a WW1 exhibition here!

In the upper exhibition levels in the room called the Long Room you will find the Richard III exhibition. In 2013, Richard III’s skeleton was discovered under a Leicester car park. As a result of this discovery his head was forensically reconstructed and in the Richard III exhibition you will find a model of this work. Richard was the owner of Sudeley at the time he rode out of the castle to lead his brother’s army into the battle of Tewkesbury. The model looks out through the Long Room windows towards the ruins of his beautiful banqueting hall….

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The Richard III exhibition leads into the Tudor Room. After Richard III came the Tudor’s, and the castle was owned by all three of the Tudor Kings at some point – Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Henry VII.

Henry VIII stayed here with Anne Boleyn and later, his widow, Queen Katherine Parr, came to live here with her new husband, Thomas Seymour, who had been granted the castle by Edward VI. Katherine Parr is buried in the beautiful church within the gardens.

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Along the corridor from the document room is the old Sewing Room, which is still used for the conservation of textiles today.

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Next you will come across the West Wing Rooms. These small areas haven’t long been opened to the public. In the West Wing rooms you can find some very rare documents, including an extremely important book known as the Bohun Book of Hours. The book contains works which were probably put together for Henry VIII including musical scripts and manuscripts. To this day it is not known how the Book of Hours came to be in Sudeley’s collections.

You leave the West Wing by going down the staircase known as the Haunted Staircase, which forms part of one of the most ancient parts of the castle.

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Sudeley’s housemaids often used to take the long way round to avoid using this staircase! There are said to be three ghosts haunting the grounds at Sudeley – the first is said to be Queen Katherine Parr, seen wearing a green dress, in the library and the gardens. The second is thought to be lady by the name of Janet, who was the housekeeper of the Dent-Brocklehurst family, and has been seen on the Haunted Staircase and in the South Hall. The third ghost is said to be a white hunting poodle called “Boy” who belonged to Prince Rupert of the Rhine and was given the run of the castle during the Civil War. Alongside these three, there were also reports of a darker, more evil presence which resulted in a shamanic exorcism which, hopefully, seems to have done the trick so far!

After you come down the Haunted Staircase this leads to the Queen Elizabeth Corridor. This corridor connects the east and west wings of the Castle. Along the corridor you will find the story of Queen Elizabeth I’s three day visit to the castle in 1592.

Around halfway down the corridor there is a door leading to the Knot Garden. It is a stunning garden and the pattern is based on the pattern of dress worn by Elizabeth in the famous portrait known as The Allegory of the Tudor Succession, a famous group portrait of the Tudor dynasty which was previously in the Sudeley collection.

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Beyond the Knot Garden, in a corner in the ruins, is the small Queen Elizabeth Garden. This is the oldest surviving part of the castle, with walls as old as the 12th Century. A beautiful tableau has been created here, showing Elizabeth in her Presence Chamber, ready to make a formal entrance to one of her banquets being held in the adjoining banqueting hall.

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If you return back to the Queen Elizabeth corridor you will reach the film shed, where a short film is shown about Lady Jane Grey, known as the tragic Nine Day’s Queen.

When the Castle was renovated by the Dents, the converted the East Wing into their principal rooms (I think I would have too, as they have stunning views of the garden and church from here!). The South Hall then became the main staircase of the house, and contains some beautiful Dutch Painted glass, dated between 1580 and 1620.

The Morning Room is a beautiful sunny room and is said to be the favourite of Mary Dent-Brocklehurst, the present owners mother-in-law. Despite being called the Morning Room, this room is still regularly used by the family in the evenings. Other rooms you can visit include the Library, Chandos Bedroom, and the Katherine Parr Ante Room and Katherine Parr Privy.

St Mary’s Church was formerly called the Castle Chapel. It was built in the 15th century and originally had a covered gallery linking it to the Castle. The lost gallery between the old chapel and the Castle has been recreated by a series of arches.

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Katherine Parr and Lady Jane Grey are represented by topiary figures draped in ivy and roses, as they often took this route. The last time they visited St Mary’s Church together was when Lady Jane was Chief Mourner at Katherine’s funeral. Awfully, Katherine’s widower, Thomas Seymour, did not even attend his wife’s funeral. Katherine Parr is the only Queen of England to be buried at a private residence, and you can visit her tomb inside St Mary’s Church.

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Strangely, her coffin was unearthed in the 18th Century beside a wall of the old chapel, and when it was opened her body was still almost perfectly preserved! Her remains were laid to rest again at Sudeley under a beautiful effigy, when St Mary’s church was restored.

The garden immediately surrounding St Mary’s Church is called the White Garden, with its colour symbolising the purity of the Virgin. Along the South wall you will find white roses, peonies, clematis and even a white passion flower.

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To the South of the Church lies the Queen’s Garden which is bordered by double yew hedges. A new rose garden was added to the site in 1989, as roses were the emblems of the Lancastrian, Yorkist and Tudor royal dynasties which the Castle is closely associated with.

In a corner between the castle and the church is the small East Garden. This garden was inspired by Marvell’s poem, “The Garden”, written during the Civil War. It was designed to be a “calm and meditative refuge based predominantly on shades of green”.

The walled Secret Garden can be found to the north of the church. This garden was replanted in 1979 to celebrate Lord and Lady Ashcombe’s marriage, and then replanted again in 1998 to celebrate the marriage of Lady Ashcombe’s son, Henry, to Lili Maltese.

You can find the Pheasantry on the far side of the secret garden which is thought to contain the largest private collection of rare pheasants in the country. You will also find a pair of Snowy owls and an Eagle owl here! When we visited the Pheasantry we managed to make a very pretty peacock friend who followed us nearly all the way back to the car! He seemed to bask in the attention thats for sure! Little scamp!

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A path from the pheasantry leads over the canal to a small Tudor Physic Garden which contains some of the plants that were used for medicinal purposes when Katherine Parr lived at Sudeley. Many of the plants in the garden are actually highly poisonous if not expertly prepared, such as Monkshood and Deadly Nightshade!

Further along the path is the Herb Garden which was created by Sir Roddy Llewellyn in 2011 with planting designs by Jekka McVicar. The final tableau at Sudeley, which you can find at the edge of the Herb Garden, is of Emma Dent. She is depicted in topiaries of yew and is relaxing in a quiet corner of the garden reading a book! I don’t blame her!

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As you can tell, there is so much to see and do at Sudeley Castle, and I’ve not even covered everything! A fantastic day out for all of the family and a place I would definitely re-visit very soon!

NellieNoo Fudge

Ok, so you’ve probably all realised by now that I have a really sweet tooth! Cakes, biscuits, cake pops, cheesecakes, meringues, marshmallows… you name it, I’ve tried stuffing my face with them! One of my all time favourite sweet treats, however, will always be some good old fashioned fudge!

I came across NellieNoo fudge when I was Instagram stalking for some new treats and really couldn’t choose between the wide range of flavours which were on offer! In true Chloe style I couldn’t make a decision on just a couple of flavours so I ordered a huge batch! Here’s what I thought of the fabulous flavours I’ve tried so far:

Malted

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The Malted flavour is a milk Chocolate based fudge and is deliciously creamy and malty tasting (think Malteasers flavour!). It is also one of Nellie Noo’s best sellers!

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Salted Caramel

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I love anything Salted Caramel flavour! I can’t get enough of it at the moment! The Salted Caramel flavour is a milk chocolate based fudge with loads of Salted Caramel stirred throughout. It’s lovely and creamy but you can also taste the crunchy chunks of salted caramel when you eat it! Another one of Nellie Noo’s best sellers and once you have tasted it, its easy to see why! This is my definite favourite!

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Tiramisu

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The Tiramisu is brilliantly designed fudge! A dark chocolate rich, crumbly based fudge which combines the flavours of espresso and lady finger biscuits and is then sprinkled with cocoa powder! Just like a real Tiramisu! Perfect to serve with after dinner coffee!

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Cookies and Cream

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The Cookies and Cream is a white chocolate based fudge and is filled with cream filled dark chocolate cookie chunks! I love the different texture of this one – creamy fudge with crunchy biscuits! A must try for all you Cookies and Cream fans!

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Mocha

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The Mocha is a dark and milk chocolate based fudge which has been combined with  espresso for a rich, dark, coffee flavoured hit! Again, like the tiramisu, great for serving with coffee after dinner at a dinner party! It is really delicious but very rich! I couldn’t eat many of these in one sitting!

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Dulce De Leche

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Dulce De Leche is a white chocolate based fudge and is a smooth and creamy caramel flavoured fudge. I liked this one but not as much as the Salted Caramel because I like the combination of textures however, I’d imagine this flavour is still very popular!

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Cookie Dough

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The Cookie Dough is a white chocolate based fudge with cookie dough swirled throughout to give it a great cookie dough flavour. This one is a Nellie Noo bestseller too and I can see why!

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You can order your Nellie Not fudge online here. The range of flavours on offer is so vast, I don’t think there will be a single person who wouldn’t find something they like! Some interesting flavours to keep an eye out for include Red Velvet, Sweet Carrot, Gin and Tonic and Lavender! They also have seasonal special (grab your Hot Cross Bun flavoured fudge whilst you still can!)

If you subscribe to email offers they will give you 10% off your first order and also have an offer of 3 selected fudges for £10!

Get stuck in!

A trip to Tewkesbury Abbey

Tewkesbury isn’t too far away from me but is another place I have never visited! I had a week off over my Birthday and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have a long overdue trip to this beautiful historic river-side town.

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The main thing I wanted to see was Tewkesbury Abbey. It was such a shame about the weather – it was grey and overcast and drizzly and really cold! I should think this building looks even more spectacular with the sun beaming down on it!

The correct name of Tewkesbury Abbey is The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin. There has been a church situated here at this site since Saxon times, and the church is even mentioned in the Doomsday book, surveyed during 1086.

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King William II (aka William the Conqueror) gave the Manor of Tewkesbury to Robert Fitzhamon, who was a soldier and a great and loyal friend to the King. He and his wife, Sybil de Montgomery, founded the Abbey and brought Abbot Gerald and his monks here from the failing abbey of Cranbourne in Dorset to form the new monastery.

When Fitzhamon died in 1107 from wounds sustained in the Battle of Falaise two years earlier, his body was buried in the Abbey’s chapter house. Building work continued by his daughter Mabel and her husband Robert Fitzroy, who was the eldest illegitimate son of King Henry. The Abbey was consecrated in 1121.

The Abbey itself has some amazing Norman features including the arch and stunning turrets. The quire and transepts were probably the earliest examples of a three-storeyed building in Europe. The tower was created in the late 12th Century and and is the largest and finest Romanesque tower in the world. The tower is 14 metres square and 46 metres high.

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The West front shows six beautiful rounded classic Norman arches. Before the window was installed in the 14th Century there was a total of seven arches.

In medieval times the Abbey would have looked very different – everywhere would have been painted in strikingly bright colours and patterns and biblical patterns, but there is hardly any trace of this within the Abbey today.

The original Norman ceiling in the nave was higher than the one here today and was more than likely made of wood. It was replaced in the 14th Century with stone in the Gothic rib vaulting styling.

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The nave looking towards the high altar. The pillars are Norman but the beautiful vaulting is 14th Century.

The photograph below on the right shows the vaulting upside down as it is a reflection in a cleverly placed mirror so you can admire the detail without hurting your neck straining to look upwards! It is such a stunning vaulted ceiling.

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Stunning net vaulting above the quire. The centre is King Edward IV’s emblem, known as the sun in splendour.

For nearly 300 years, three successive medieval families were the patrons of Tewkesbury Abbey. When the Fitzhamon’s grandson, William, passed away the Abbey devolved through his daughter and into her husbands family, the de Clare’s. The patronage was then inherited by Gilbert de Clare’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband, Hugh le Despenser II. In around 1320 the Despensers began to modernise the abbey. This work was halted temporarily when Hugh was executed for treason in 1326. Eleanor built a beautiful tomb for Hugh, which can be seen in the Abbey today. Eleanor and her son, Hugh le Despenser III, continued work on updating the abbey, including raising the nave roof and adding the beautiful nave vaulting. The high altar, presbytery and quire were transformed and new stained glass windows were added.

Lord Edward Despenser, Hugh Despenser III’s nephew and heir, is commemorated in the beautiful chantry chapel, commissioned by his widow, Elizabeth Burghersh. This is the oldest of the three chapels and has a beautiful fan vaulted ceiling and a statue of Lord Edward on the roof. Unfortunately because of it’s position, you cant get close enough to see the detail which is a real shame.

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A terrible picture I am afraid as this is the closest you can get but this is the wooden effigy of Lord Edward Despenser, kneeling on top of his chantry facing the altar. He is quite faded now but was originally painted with bright vivid colours – a very unusual effigy for its time.

The patronage was then passed to Isabella Despenser following the deaths of her brother and father. She built the most elaborate of the Abbey’s chantry chapels in memory of her first husband, Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Worcester, who died in battled aged only 22.

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The ceiling of the chantry Chapel designed by Isabella Beauchamp – this too used to be full of colour however very little colour now remains.
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The elaborate vaulting of the chantry Chapel built in the 15th century by Isabella Beauchamp for her first husband, Richard, Earl of Worcester.

Richard Neville became Earl of Warwick and Lord of Tewkesbury when he married Anne Beauchamp, the daughter and heir of Isabella and Richard. Richard Neville was known as the “Kingmaker” due to his influence and power.

Richard’s support was critical in the overthrowing of Henry VI and the crowning of Edward IV, however Richard and King Edward IV fell out soon after. Richard later travelled to France and was persuaded to make peace with the Lancastrians and provide his support in restoring Henry VI to the throne. Richard was defeated and killed in the Battle of Barnet in April 1471 when Edward returned to England from exile.

Henry VI’s queen, Margaret of Anjou, came back from France with her son Edward, Prince of Wales and was persuaded to stay and fight for her son’s inheritance. Her plans to combine the two groups in Gloucester were foiled when the Yorkist constable of Gloucester castle prevented their entry into the city. She had no choice but to follow the course of the River Severn, which resulted in her arrival in Tewkesbury on the 3rd May 1471.

On the 4th May 1471, a battle ensued known as the Battle of Tewkesbury. The Lancastrians were forced to retreat towards the town of Tewkesbury, and many sought shelter within the Abbey. It is said that the Yorkist’s pursued them inside the Abbey with swords. At the time, Abbot Strensham was celebrating mass at the high altar. He challenged Edward and his brothers and demanded that the troops did not defile the church with such slaughter and bloodshed. The King withdrew as requested but the Abbot was unable to argue that the Abbey was a place to grant sanctuary, and the Lancastrians were handed over to King Edward. The resulting bloodshed closed the building for a month sop it could be purified and re-consecrated.

There is a brass plate in the floor in the sanctuary which marks the grave of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, the son of King Henry VI, and the end of the Lancastrian bloodline. He was killed during the Battle of Tewkesbury, was the only Prince of Wales to ever die in battle, and was only 17 at the time of his death.

After the battle, the monks of Tewkesbury are rumoured to have picked up pieces of horse armour from the battlefield which they hammered flat to strengthen the door of the sacristy.

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One of the best ceilings I’ve ever seen – the vaulting above the choir with the beautiful stained glass windows below.
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Both the vaulting and the stained glass windows pre-date 1440.

Between 1536 and 1541, to assert his authority as head of the Church in England, Henry VIII disbanded the monastic houses of England and seized all their lands and possessions. Tewkesbury Abbey was finally surrendered to the Commissioners in January 1540. The Commissioners ordered the dismantling of some of the monastic buildings.

The east end of the church once had a magnificent Lady Chapel of which only the foundations now remain. In the years following the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1540, the Lady Chapel was on of the buildings which was dismantled. The footprint of the chapel is outlined with stone slabs in the grass at the east end of the building. Today’s Lady Chapel is now in the south transept.

The townsfolk of Tewkesbury later petitioned the commissioners to be able to buy the church building. The price paid was £483, which was the value of the lead on the roof and the metal in the bells.

In 1609, King James I sold the manor to the Corporation of Tewkesbury for £2,454.

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Tom Denny’s windows were installed in the chapel of St John the Baptist and St Catherine and were to commemorate 900 years since the arrival of the monks at Tewkesbury.

The eastern exterior of the Abbey is my favourite view of this beautiful building. It is marked in the grass where the 14th Century Lady Chapel once stood.

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The eastern exterior

Also keep a look out for the two storey gatehouse, known in the 15th Century as “the grate gate”. This is one of three entrances like this and is thought to have been the monastery’s inner gate.

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The grate gate

As Tewkesbury is a river-side town, it unfortunately often sees the effects of flooding. The Abbey itself has flooded twice during severe floods in 1760, and more recently on 23rd July during the 2007 floods. There were signs of flooding during our visit, and no doubt the heavy rain over the past few weeks has not made the situation any better….

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If you are visiting Tewkesbury for the day I would also recommend paying the town centre a visit. Along Church Street you will find some beautiful half timbered buildings which are worth admiring!

A really lovely place, I am already looking forward to re-visiting. We had hoped to do a little boat trip up the River Severn but after a couple of hours walking around in the cold, wet weather we were really for some lunch and a hot chocolate!  Hopefully the next time we go, the weather will be a bit warmer and we can enjoy a little boat trip to see more of the sights Tewkesbury has to offer!

Having a Lush Easter!

I have to say after the Lush Mother’s Day collection contained so many great and innovative new products, I was rather disappointed when they released the details of the Easter range! I was expecting far more products (akin to the Halloween or Christmas range) and for some reason I was also expecting them to release a giant bath bomb of some sort – like the giant rose bombshell bath bomb they released as part of the Valentine’s Day range.

Anyway, as soon as the Easter range was released I quickly went online and ordered one of everything in order to test them out. It was only when I was half way through trying them all out that I realised the mistake I had made, which was that several of the products, although they looked different, were exactly the same product with exactly the same scent! It was completely my fault, I should have checked the ingredients of them all before I ordered them and I would have realised, however I’ve ended up with several duplicates which of course also means the Easter range was far smaller than I first thought!

Anyway, here’s what I thought of the Easter 2018 range:

Free Rangers Bath Bombs (blue, orange and purple)

The blue one was the first of the three Free Rangers bath bombs I used and it was at this point I realised that all three colours of Free Ranger bath bombs all have the same ingredients and the same scent! If I had known I think I would have just bought myself the purple one and not all three! Anyway, they come in blue, orange and purple.

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The Free Ranger bath bombs are incredibly fast dissolving bath bombs, especially in view of their large size, (seriously, blink a couple of times and you will miss them dissolving!), but the thing I found most disappointing about these bath bombs was the complete lack of scent they seemed to contain!

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After using the first one, I seriously wondered if it had been a dud – I honestly couldn’t smell anything when I was using it and the ingredients Free Rangers contains (Bergamot Oil, Blackcurrant Absolute and Cypress Oil) all should be smells which I think should be really prominent?

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Reviews of this bath bomb say the scent should be similar to that of the Comforter bubble bar which is a truly lovely blackcurranty berry smelling scent, but I couldn’t detect anything even remotely similar to this, so I’m really disappointed, especially in view of the £5.95 price tag.

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The bath water itself was moisturising but no where near as much as I had expected in view of the size and the ingredients it contains. I wish I had checked first and realised that they were all the same scent and then perhaps I wouldn’t have spent nearly £18 on three bath bombs that I don’t love! Having said that, I have bought a couple of these as Easter presents because the design is great (and as the smell is so weak it is unlikely that anyone I give them to will dislike it!)

Poisson D’Avril Bubble Bar

I really didn’t want to have to cut this little guy up as he looks so adorable! I knew I was going to love this bubble bar before it even arrived and I got to smell it and use it, just by checking out the ingredients it contained!

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Packed into this little guy is black pepper oil, cinnamon leaf oil, oak moss absolute and neroli oil – some of my most favourite ingredients!

Despite its size I think you would easily get three good baths out of one little fishy – he’s small but very compact! I used half in one go because I’d been on the sun bed earlier in the day so I could do with the extra moisturising and knew I would love the smell!

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I sprinkled half the chopped bubble bar under running water and this produced a huge amount of lovely thick bubbles and a deep red shimmery mermaid style bath water. The scent is extremely relaxing and warming, almost to the point of spicy but not quite. The water was so soft you could almost feel it working as you spent your time lazing in the tub. I seriously did not want to get out of this bath – if I could have got away with staying in there all night then I would have!

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As predicted, I absolutely love this bubble bar! I’d be hard pushed to say that it wasn’t my absolute favourite – I’m sat here struggling to think of any over bubble bars that even come close to how much I love this bubble bar. Onto the website I go to buy them all!

April Showers Bath Bomb

Not a very Eastery design but definitely an April design! It hasn’t stopped raining for most of the weekend!

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April Showers smells amazing! It dissolves pretty quickly but releases these lovely pink and purple blobs of oil to make your bath water lovely and moisturising. For those of you who are familiar with the now discontinued Lava Lamp bath bomb, this design is very much reminiscent of it.

April Showers contains an abundance of ingredients to make your bath water lovely and soft and make your skin incredibly moisturised! It contains fair trade organic cocoa butter, cypress oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic castor oil. To give it its wonderful scent, April Showers also contains cedar wood, violet leaf absolute, and tonka absolute, so all in all it creates a woody, flowery and sweet scent all in one!

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April Showers is definitely one of my favourites from the Easter range and it’s great they are reusing the Lava Lamp idea after discontinuing it early last year. My boxes of Lush supplies are bursting at the seams at the moment but I may have to grab a few more of these before the Easter range is discontinued!

Which Came First Bath Bomb – Stripes or Spots

These two were the second “duplicate” mistake I made – both contain exactly the same ingredients but just look slightly different!

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These egg shaped bath bombs are slightly bigger than the usual bath bomb, but seriously, after dropping these in the bath, just like the Free Rangers bath bombs, blink and you will miss them! They are probably some of the quickest dissolving bath bombs I’ve ever used!

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They are also a little bit disappointing on the bath art side of things – a lot of pink foam and little bubbles which leaves you with a nice pink coloured bath water, but not much else….

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I liked the scent of these bath bombs but didn’t think the scent was very strong considering their size and their prominent smelling ingredients such as grapefruit oil and sicilian lemon oil. These bombs do also contain vanilla absolute to sweeten the scent slightly, but they still didn’t smell anywhere near as strong as I would have liked.

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Being as they dissolved incredibly quickly, and didn’t smell very strong or provide me with much bath art, I was hoping that they would at least be incredibly moisturising to make up for the lack in other areas….

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The water WAS lovely and moisturising as I had hoped, however I then remembered that these bath bombs are a lot bigger than regular bath bombs and thought to myself, so they should be!

They aren’t my least favourite bath bomb but they certainly aren’t “memorable” by any stretch of the imagination which is a real shame…

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A bit of a let down I’m afraid, especially in view of the £6.95 price tag they each had…

Cream Egg Bubbleroons in Spotty, Circles and Marbled

And finally, the third set of “duplicates” I ordered! I think I could be forgiven for these as they do all look completely different despite having the same name!

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The Cream Egg Bubbleroons come in Spotty, Circles and Marbled designs and are two pieces of bubble bar sandwiched together with a cocoa butter type cream.

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I’ve been chopping each of these in half and then crumbling them up to use half at a time and this seems to be the perfect amount for a lovely bath.

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The bubbleroons contain fair trade organic cocoa butter and fair trade shea butter for moisturising.

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The bubbleroons also contain spearmint oil. Mint is one of my least favourite scents but the cocoa butter and shea butter make them smell sweet and creamy.

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Half of the bubbleroon produces a lovely bath full of fluffy bubbles and soft moisturising water.

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As I say, they all have the same scent but I think that my favourite is the marbled one as the pink and blue create really lovely bath art when you sprinkle them in the bath water!

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A very nice bubbleroon which is just perfect for Easter, I am glad I bought three of them in the end! I’ve nearly used all three!

Bunch of Carrots Re-useable Bubble Bar

I really like the design of this one! Very clever! please ignore the glitter on it, it doesn’t come with any glitter on, its just the Golden Egg bath bomb glitter got EVERYWHERE as usual!

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Although I love the design, I am still a bit dubious of these re-useable bubble bars after my initial experience with the Magic of Christmas bubble wand I used as part of the Christmas collection. This was the first re-useable bubble bar I had used and after swishing it about for a few seconds and holding it under running water (as you are supposed to do!) the bubble bar basically disintegrated and fell into the bath in one clump!

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I held the Bunch of Carrots under the running water and swished it around a bit and it seemed fine but after a few minutes, again the same thing happened and the “carrots” came away from the green stalks! Luckily they came away still in one piece, and to be fair, if for my next three baths I used one whole carrot, I’m still going to get a total of four baths out of this reusable bubble bar, so it is pretty good value for money.

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The bubble bar does make a lot of lovely fluffy bubbles and I do really like the scent. Bunch of Carrots includes buchu oil, sicilian lemon oil and bergamot oil – some of my favourite ingredients! I am just not completely sold on the reusable bubble bar idea still, although if they made another product with this scent, I would definitely buy it!

Another thing to note with this product – be ever so careful once it is wet as the colours in the product are very vivid and will likely stain everything in sight!

Seven Deadly Spins Bubble Spinner

I am a bit unsure about this product, I’m not too sure what it is supposed to be based on but it very much reminds me of a golden snitch from Harry Potter!

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The first thing I noticed about Seven Deadly Spins was how small it was! I know it is a re-useable bubble bar but still, if it is this size it must pack a real punch surely?

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I held the little guy under running water and it did produce a lot of bubbles very quickly without reducing in size at all but I was shocked to see the colour of the water! It was bright yellow and almost radioactive looking!

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I did like its unusual scent (it contains bergamot oil, litsea Cubeba oil and benzoin resinoid, so an almost orangey/lemony/woody scent) but again didn’t find it to be strong enough for my liking! I’m starting to think I need my sense of smell checking!

Although it didn’t reduce in size at all after one use, I think going forward I will chop it and crumble it up and then use it like a normal bubble bar rather than the reusable spinner it is designed as, which kind of defeats the point I suppose!

The other thing which annoyed me about this product was that it stained my lovely white bath rack! None of the other products I have used, even the bright vividly coloured ones have done this before! It has left a bright luminous green/yellow stain on it which I just can’t get off which was very disappointing….

Here Comes the Sun Naked Shower Cream

I wasn’t entirely convinced about these new Naked products but I am definitely coming around to them, mainly because I think of them as being a far stronger and more potent version of a soap! I do like my scents strong!

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Here comes the sun naked shower cream is jam packed with a range of both familiar and really unusual ingredients! Some of the more familiar ingredients in here include fair trade shea butter for softness along with Mandarin Oil, tangerine Oil, bergamot oil, and good old fresh orange juice! The more unusual ingredients are St John’s Wort infusion, organic avocado oil and cup mushroom?? Very strange.

Looking at these ingredients written down I would have thought that they would be one of my favourite scents ever, but I did have concerns with the St John’s Wort infusion….excellent as an anti-inflammatory for the skin, but doesn’t smell particularly appealing to me (a kind of resinous scent). Still, the St John’s Wort is very faint and so I think this may be one of my favourite Naked smelling products!

It glides thickly onto the skin, smells amazing and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft  – what more could you want?

Carrot Soap

How great looking is this soap?? Brilliant! I bought one for my Sister for Easter too as she didn’t want chocolate this year!

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Carrot soap, surprisingly enough, contains fresh carrot infusion and carrot powder to give it its very faint carroty scent! It also contains cedarwood oil, tangerine oil, and gardenia extract to add a woody and citrusy scent and fair trade organic cocoa butter, extra virgin coconut oil and organic castor oil to moisturise your skin.

Carrot lathers up really nicely and leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft – it is a delicate scent and don’t be put off by the carrot ingredient – you can barely detect it and you won’t get out of the shower smelling like Peter Rabbit’s next meal!

Golden Egg Bath Bomb Melt

I have reviewed the Golden egg bath bomb melt before and thought twice about buying another one as although I love the scent of it and the bath water leaves your skin feeling amazing, the glitter is just a little bit too much to cope with!

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I am really pleased that I invested in another one as part of this years collection as the one I bought last year sank like a stone when I put it in the bath! This one bobbed along quite merrily in the bath water as it should do!

When you order one of these little blighters and you unpack your box of goodies, just be warned that this bath bomb will get glitter EVERYWHERE. Then when you get them out of the box to put them away you will get even more glitter EVERYWHERE!

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This bomb is unique in a way because it is part bath bomb, part bath melt. Underneath the top shell of thick golden glitter is another shell of cocoa butter with orange oil which melts away into a lovely yellow foam when it’s submerged in the bath water. Once the middle is exposed, a white foam is revealed which mixes with the yellow, resulting in golden yellow shimmery bath water.

It has some lovely ingredients which give it its delicious scent – brazilian orange oil, bergamot oil and gardenia extract, and also contains fair trade organic cocoa butter,  fair trade olive oil and almond oil which is what makes this such a luxurious bath.

I’m a big fan of the scent and how moisturising it is but not the design – the glitter really is just too much! I will say though, the glitter does wash away very easily with the bath water – no hours of scrubbing the bath as I had expected after all!!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the long Easter weekend and have been spoilt! It’s nice to have a short week this week – back to the gym tomorrow and hopefully a showing of Peter Rabbit at the cinema with my Sister too!

Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea

I’ve got a real thing lately for afternoon tea’s – especially themed ones – so when an advert for the Genie’s Cave afternoon tea at Cutter and Squidge in London came up, I knew I had to pay them a visit!

Upstairs in Cutter and Squidge there is a beautiful tea room filled with incredible looking cakes and treats. For the Genie’s Cave afternoon tea you are escorted downstairs into an underground treasure trove where the walls are painted pink and purple and are adorned with all sorts of brightly coloured jewels, gold pieces and gold coins! It is just like a little cave of treasure!

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The only downside with this was that the lighting was so low that my camera didn’t take very good pictures so apologies for that, but hopefully you’ll get an idea of what to expect!

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A Genie’s Welcome

The first part of the afternoon tea was very unusual as it was a dessert type treat! The Genie’s Welcome comes in a little round glass bowl and is a raspberry flavoured yogurt type treat with raspberry sauce, raspberries and pomegranate seeds mixed in. This is then topped with pashmak which is a type of Iranian Candy Floss sometimes referred to as “Dragon’s Beard! They sell pashmak in Selfridges and I’ve always fancied trying it! It is very similar to candy floss but not as gritty, it is a bit “hair” like for my liking though, hence the Dragon’s Bear name!! This is then topped with a lovely home made thick fluffy meringue which has been torched on the one side.

Selection of Finger Sandwiches

Probably the most boring part of all afternoon teas but some people like sandwiches! The selection was Cucumber and Fresh Mint, Cheese and Tomato Jam and Coronation Chicken.

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Savoury Wishes

The Savoury Wishes part of the afternoon tea included these lovely delights:

  • Dessert Rose Tart with thinly sliced roasted vegetables

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  • Savoury Scones Swirls with roasted peppers and Feta cheese – These were really tasty – swirled pastry with roasted vegetables and feta cheese in. A nice alternative to “normal” scones as they aren’t as thick and heavy!

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  • Golden Cheese Clouds  – These were lovely, I really liked these! Imagine a savoury profiterole style choux bun is the best way to describe them! Very light and very cheesy! Yum!

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Sweet Wishes

The Sweet Wishes part of the afternoon tea included:

  • Raspberry and Rose Tart sprinkled with pistachio emeralds – tiny little pastry tarts filled with raspberry cream centres and topped with crumbled pistachios.

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  • Hidden gem Macaron with peanut butter and jelly.

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  • Magic Carpet Cookies – lovely little carpet shaped melt in the mouth shortbread biscuits topped with cocoa patterns.

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Ruby Dream Cake

A vanilla and strawberry cake with orange glaze and jelly ruby.

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Golden Treasure Biskie

Two chocolate cookie like biscuits with a delicious chocolate mousse in the middle decorated with 24 carat Gold! This was my favourite!

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The afternoon tea is £29.50 per person or £34.50 per person with a glass of bubbly, and Wheat free or dairy free options are also available for the afternoon tea which include a £5 surcharge. When we left they also gave us this lovely little treat to take with you which I thought was a lovely touch.

They are changing the theme at the end of March so get in there quickly if you want to experience it! The staff wouldn’t tell me what the new theme was as they have been sworn to secrecy but I’m looking forward to seeing what the next themed afternoon tea will be!

Happy Birthday to me!

It’s wrong to say Happy Birth”day” to me because in actual fact I have a Birth-week not a Birth”day”! I always pack my Birthday week full of fun and days out with family and friends and this year was no exception!

Here’s what I got up to during this AMAZING week!

On Monday, Mum and I caught the megabus to London! Yes it takes ages but it cost us only £8 each for a return from Gloucester to London! The coach stops at Victoria Coach Station which just so happens to be a five-minute walk away from one of my favourite bakery’s in London – Dominique Ansel’s! So, we popped in here for breakfast before starting our busy London adventure!

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I had an amazing turkey croque monsieur and one of their Blossoming hot chocolates, which I have wanted to try for ages!

I also had a delicious Cookie Shot, a shot glass sized cup made out of cookie and filled with delicious creamy vanilla milk! I bought a pack of six Cookie Shots to take home with me as well! The cakes in here are incredible – check out these lovely Blizzard Bear cakes!

After our lovely refreshment break we caught an Uber over to Kensington Palace. We had a lovely time here, so much so that I am writing a separate blog on this amazing place – the Diana Exhibition which is currently on was definitely an added bonus! Even better, we didn’t pay the entrance fee because we managed to pay for the tickets using our Tesco Clubcard vouchers!