Wednesday, 2 September 2015

From cobbles to campestral | Country Attire

Country Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionWhat do I love about the countryside? The freedom.

The freedom to go where you want, the freedom to do what you want and the freedom to wear what you want.

Country Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibition

Dressing precisely as I please is one of life's joys; sometimes I want to go ultra girly, other times I want to wear something tailored but it's always got to be right for me. My style is almost always influenced by the landscape I love, the wilderness and traditional classics. Tartan is one of my staples in winter but I've yet to be able to incorporate my favourite pattern into my summer wardrobe. Until today, that is. Meet my Vivienne Westwood Ladies' Derby Handbag – New Exhibition from my new go-to site for all countryside style inspiration Country Attire. I'm beside myself with love for this perfect accessory which I can carry around to my heart's content all year round. It looks like I scooped the last one of these beauties but you can pick it up in another colour wave Mac Williams which is gorgeous or in New Exhibition you can still get the Derby cross body bag and the Tessuto Derby orb large shopper.

Country Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibition

Country Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibition

The weather was strange on this day; sun hiding behind the thick white and grey marbled clouds yet staying humid with a warm breeze which blew my hair with gentle gusts. A pair of denim shorts is a fail safe staple for me, virtually everything will work with them and they are super comfortable. My bright coral vest top makes for a bold splash of colour with my trusty Joules blouse over to keep my shoulders covered. You could wear this alternative from Joules with Porcelain Butterflies which is so pretty!

Country Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibition

I'm most at home in an ankle boot and virtually live in them some weeks. These Hudson Tafler Hishine Chelsea boots are everything my feet could ask for and make my heart beat that little bit faster... The quality is amazing, with beautiful crafting and details yet retaining the ultimate practicality needed for a hard wearing boot. They are so stylish that I know I can wear them for both a walk off the beaten path and a shopping trip to a boutique alike.

Country Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibitionCountry Attire review Hudson boots Vivienne Westwood derby handbag new exhibition

A huge thank you to Country Attire for all their inspiration and for sending me the shoes and bag to style up. Go check out their amazing new ranges for Autumn/Winter or bag yourself a summer bargain.

Sophie

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Fenland Bushcraft workshop

Fenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop Norfolk

This weekend we got up to something completely different which I'm so excited to tell you about; a bushcraft workshop. What's that you say? Well, bushcraft skills are used to get by in the great outdoors without home comforts and mod cons. I didn't know exactly what to expect from our day course but I had visions of spending six hours on one of those bows trying to make fire – we've all seen it happen on those survival shows (it sometimes takes them days to make fire during which sanity is tested and physical exhaustion overwhelms. I wasn't sure this was how I wanted to spend my Sunday). Thankfully not the case. I suppose I thought we'd get a demonstration and some of us get to try things out. The group was made up of families; I think everyone bar C and I had kids with them and I was curious to see exactly how this was going to play out with what I assumed was quite a grown up context of activities.

Fenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop Norfolk

Fenland Bushcraft is run by Andrew Callaghan who has a wealth of experience in bushcraft and survival skills to share. We congregated on the campsite before heading down to the woodlands and specially arranged area; there was a canopy shelter, and a campfire in the centre with logs to sit around. It immediately felt like we were going back to a wonderfully traditional sense of fun; giant kettles hanging over the fire and the wonderful wisp of smoke from the burning wood. Andrew talked us through the knives that are used during the workshop. The three in the range all looked a little bit mightier than I perhaps ought to be left in charge of. (Cue flashbacks of last year's incident when I accidentally cut my thumb trying to knife open a packet of chorizo before going all woozy on the floor). Andrew gave a demonstration on making tent pegs from scratch and explained what we were going to do ourselves and definitely made it look easy! There was a lot of emphasis on how to use the knives safely which reassured me greatly.

Although my first instinct was to hand the knife straight back to a responsible adult, another part of me really wanted to have a go. We had to go and find a suitable size branch to cut up which was harder than I thought it would be and then I got the fear a bit about sawing it with the really sharp looking saw. The good news is I still have every one of my fingers and not a drop of blood or tears were spilled on that day by me. There was only one plaster issued that I noticed for the rest of our group and that wasn't even knife related. We made our rudimentary tent pegs. Although mine is very much a novice effort I was smugly pleased with having completed it on my own. Deep in concentration and a safe distance away for others I didn't really take much notice of how the rest of the group was getting on other than to feel baffled at how smoothly it seemed to go.

The whole workshop seemed to be one of those rare opportunities for parents to work with their children on something; co-operating and exchanging ideas and feedback on a topic that neither was an authority. Spending time learning new skills and having fun outdoors without overbearing parental control; children were trusted to use the knives (albeit not the sharpest) but trusted with them nevertheless and shown how to use them safely. It was something I can honestly say I've not seen before.

Fenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop NorfolkFenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop NorfolkFenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop Norfolk

We moved on to fire. Starting a fire. We were giving the Ferro rods and a cotton wool ball and shown how to get sparks to light our cotton wool. Of course C managed his no problem but it took me ages to get the knack, I squealed gleefully when mine caught light; a feeling no doubt our distant ancestors felt all those tens of thousands of years ago. They didn't have the luxury of cotton wool so natural tinder had to be sought; the fluff from thistles was amazing, they went up in a burst of flames double quick! (my picture is a blur) We used papery silver birch bark which worked well too, tried cow parsley seed heads but didn't manage to get them lit. It was brilliant fun scouring about for things to set light to before starting little fires back at the camp. Such old fashioned fun and the kids loved it of course.

Fenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop NorfolkFenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop Norfolk

We were given a demonstration of the bow method for lighting a fire (I think I sighed with relief I wasn't going to have to try it; the process was even more intensive than I originally thought). Great to see it with my own eyes. The kids were captivated.

Fenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop NorfolkFenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop Norfolk

Next up was how to put up a shelter. I think I just about grasped how to put up the ridge rope between trees and put up the tarp and secure it which was just as well because for our final task we were spilt into teams for the challenge of erecting a shelter, building a fire and boiling an egg.

Fenland Bushcraft survival skills workshop Norfolk

This was fun and forced us to exchange ideas with the aim of working as a team. We must have learnt something as each team completed the activity successfully!

The day was a really relaxed one; no strict schedule, snack at your leisure, unlimited tea, coffee and squash, run around (kids too), just stick within the boundary. I was thankful for coffee. The workshop was held just outside Wisbech at The Secret Garden Touring Park which is a fabulous site from what we saw. Tidy, organised and yet with a delightful 'back to nature' camping experience; Lesley the owner was a lovely and helpful lady.

It was a great value day for all involved, plus everyone is invited to the beer and sausage tasting afterwards at the campsite which is really popular too. We had a brilliant day out; learning some new skills and whetting our appetite to do more. There are other courses run by Fenland Bushcraft which a whole range of things. I'd love to learn more and C likes the sound of the several day courses. My imagination is running riot with the idea of wild camping, it sounds like such a perfectly natural way to spend time outdoors. I would wholeheartedly recommend this workshop to parents who want to keep their kids entertained. It was absolutely smashing fun for everyone involved and all the kids were focussed on the tasks in hand (as well as enjoying a good bit of running around). Let's face it, how often do kids these days get to use knives and start fires? They clearly relished such a rarity of freedom and excitement while in a safe environment.

To find out more then visit the Fenland Bushcraft website and follow @fenbushcraft on Twitter for the latest

Sophie.

PS. I even wore a pair of those frighteningly practical trousers which unzip at the knee.

Monday, 31 August 2015

The nature of summer 3

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There is so much to see in late summer I don't need to say anything at all. Enjoy

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Sophie

Friday, 28 August 2015

One way to brighten a week or two

Blossoming Gifts Summer Bouquet
The last few weeks have been a somewhat miserable few it has to be said. It started with my grandmother thinking she was on the way out (false alarm) calling me just after 6am in a state so I spent a draining day making sure she was ok, which for someone who is by no means a natural carer, is exhausting.
Then I got struck down myself, thinking I had a kidney infection (I didn't, turns out my kidneys are not where I initially thought which is mildly embarrassing) which actually turned out to be a back ache which poleaxed me more than I would have possible really. After spending a day at home in a considerable amount of discomfort then a verging on miraculous recovery overnight I didn't know what to think.
The first day back at work was something of a reluctance, still feeling quite tired and miserable but my spirits were lifted when I received flowers by post. Even the postman was excited! He naturally assumed they were a surprise so I congenially played along with feigned shock that the were for me. Well, who wouldn't?!
Blossoming Gifts Summer Bouquet
The flower delivery from Blossoming Gifts was the best thing to happen midweek. I was excited to get into the neatly packaged box; the bouquet was really well protected and had a nifty wet/dry sheath to the stems to ensure they didn't dry out during transit but equally didn't flood the box. I didn't know which vase to use to display them so I prepped two and in fact had to use the larger of the two as there was a larger bouquet than it originally looked like (due to being arranged by someone who clearly knows what they're doing). I was delighted to find so many lilies amongst roses and more flowers (which I assumed were gerberas but I'm thinking now that they're not) plus a generous mix of greenery and almost daisy-like sprays.
The lowlight of the past weeks started at 4am on Monday morning when C started getting super ill with a vengeance. I spent the day checking on him and holding up glasses of water and cranberry juice for him to drink and checking he was still conscious (the kind lady at 111 really put the wind up me with her chilling advice at 6:30am of 'if he starts fitting or loses consciousness call 999 immediately'). So it was a worrying day, which fortunately was followed by a much less stressful Tuesday.
Blossoming Gifts Summer BouquetBlossoming Gifts Summer Bouquet
It's been a delight every time I pass the vase full of flowers, it looks so cheerful and smells heavenly that it distracted me in a most welcome way. My bouquet is called 'Summer garden' and it's a mix of gorgeous oranges and peaches which makes my heart sing.
I'm a fan of buying cheap flowers and love to treat myself once in a while, a pretty display in a vase is uplifting every time I set eyes on it. It works wonderfully as a gift from a loved one of as a gift straight to yourself.
Massive thank you to Blossoming Gifts for making my days so much brighter by sending me this gorgeous bouquet to review. Nine days in and it's still looking pretty.

Get yourself a whopper of a discount with my code BGIFTS33 which gets you 33% off a bouquet (except the flowers by post range). Let's call it a gift from me to you xx
Sophie