I recently followed the trend and posted on my Instagram page my top nine most liked pictures for the year. It was so nice to look back at some of the memories I made this year and see what my followers had enjoyed seeing on my feed. Some of the photos were my favourites for the year too so I think they were quite accurately picked!
I thought I would do a quick post featuring the top nine pictures and explaining a little more about them and where they were taken. I had suggested I might do this in the caption on the post and lots of people were interested so here goes!
Pictures 1-3 – Bishops Palace
So three pictures from my visit to Bishops Palace in Wells, Somerset made it into my Instagram top nine. I think you will be able to see why – the gardens were just so beautiful and I visited on a very sunny day in August which I think really helped make them look so glorious!
This picture is of the well pools and you can spot the stunning architecture of Wells Cathedral in the background – just gorgeous!
Again this is another picture of the well pools. I loved how the trees were reflected in the water and the sense of calm and peace I got from wandering around the well pools and sitting on that green bench.
The final picture from Bishops Palace that featured on the best nine was this one of the old walls of the palace. I thought they were so pretty with the sun streaming through the window frames and the beautifully maintained gardens.
Picture 4 – Tintagel Old Post Office
Picture 4 is from the lovely Old Post Office in Tintagel, Cornwall. This is a National Trust property, which as a member I have visited a few times. It’s lots of fun to see how the old post office would have worked and you can still send letters from the post box in the wall! We visited in the late summer and enjoyed a good few hours wandering around the town and enjoying the coastal views.
Picture 5 – Valley of the Rocks
This is one of my favourite pictures I took when I stayed in Lynton and visited the Valley of the Rocks in Lynmouth, North Devon. It was a stunning piece of coastline and even though it rained and I got rather wet on my Septemeber walk, the views and grazing sheep and goats made it worth it!
Picture 6 – The Hideaway
This shows the amazing homemade cream tea I enjoyed whilst soaking up the countryside views at The Hideaway, Kingsland Farm in Bridport, Dorset. I stayed in the sublime shepherd’s hut and had the most relaxing and restorative stay. Danette the host is so welcoming and lovely and I would really recommend a stay here – check out my full review here.
Picture 7 – Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum
In Septemeber, during my South West tour, I visited Dorchester and the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum. It was a really interesting attraction, although I visited on a free Sunday open day and so it was really busy. There was so much to learn about the justice system and historical crime which I found really interesting. Apparently, my Instagram followers did too!
Pictures 8 & 9 – Weston Sandsculpture Festival
The final two pictures from my Instagram top nine are from my visit to the Weston Sandsculpture Festival in Weston Super Mare, Somerset. The 2018 festival’s theme was the circus and I was amazed by the incredible skills of the sand sculptures in creating such stunning sculptures. You can find out more about the festival and see more of the sculptures on my blog post review. I also did a top ten favourite sand sculpture post too which is worth checking out to see which ones I loved the most!
So there we have it, a bit more information on the pictures from my Instagram top nine! Please do give me a follow on Instagram if you don’t already to see more cool pictures and to interesting pictures and follow my adventures!
Like with the rest of the human race I have always enjoyed receiving gifts as much as the next person. However, as I have got older I have enjoyed spreading happiness and the gift of giving presents. I always really enjoy seeing my loved ones opening up their chosen presents and seeing their reactions. Presents with thought, presents with love and presents that are personal are the best to both give and receive I think. This year, as with years gone by I was lucky enough to receive a host of lovely and well thought out presents this Christmas.
I thought I would share a few of my favourites with you – they will give you quite an insight into things I like and enjoy as my family and friends clearly know me all too well! I haven’t been able to share all the gifts I received as I really did have many, but thought I would choose a few quirky and different ones for you to peek at.
I am 29 yet still get a stocking every year from my parents. This more often than not includes a pair of Christmas PJs and this year’s were these very warm and fluffy Disney ones from Primark. I think they are super cute and they are really comfy too!
I also received some socks and slippers from my sister Chloe – these were groovy chick themed and transported me back to the 90’s! I remember as a young girl having a groovy chick bedspread and other bits – it was the ‘in’ girl brand to have back then. I can’t believe Primark are now stocking groovy chick clothes years and years later! Thanks, Chloe for taking me back to my childhood whilst keeping my tootsies nice and warm!
A Spot of Fun
My nearest and dearest know that I have a horrible love for squeezing spots! It’s gross I know but I just can’t help myself and my sister Chloe treated me to this yucky but hilarious Pimple Popper kit from Zuru. Basically for all you avid spot squeezers out there you put some rank looking pus-type liquid into it and then sit and squeeze out the spot pores to your heart’s content – delightful eh!
My friend Katy gifted me the game Dobble – I hadn’t heard about this game before but now I absolutely love it and cannot recommend it enough for fast-paced, fun and competitive game. Nathan and I played it numerous times over the new year and we are now addicted to it! Thanks Katy!
In my stocking was also this cute little Christmas themed duck – it can join me in the bath one day, the lucky quacker!
My boyfriend Nathan gave me these Mensa gifts – a 2019 Calendar Challenger which includes a puzzle a day for the rest of the year, and The Absolutely Authentic Mensa Test. I am not sure what he is trying to prove – something about his intelligence or mine! I did have to remind him that I have two degrees and am currently working for my doctorate so I do have some intelligence in the bag.. somewhere! They have provided us with some brain-teasing tests so far which we have enjoyed competing against each other for and working as a team when we both get stuck!
I was treated to these gorgeous Ted Baker sets from my youngest sister Emily. The makeup set has loads of lovely makeup bits including lipsticks, mascara, nail polish and a cute eyeshadow shadow pallet. Emily also gave me the Ella perfume set which has a cute little bottle of gorgeous smelling scent and a pretty jewelled mirror. Such lovely gifts which I certainly will enjoy using.
Gifts to Encourage Calming and Self-Care
In the last couple of years, I have become more keen to enjoy the simple things in life and to try and use things to help me relax. My job and doctorate can be very stressful at times and relaxation time can be limited. My family did a great job this year of buying me gifts they know I will use to take some time for myself and chill. I am obsessed with candles and using them when I am chilling in the evenings and having a bath and so both my step-mum Caroline and sister Chloe got it spot on when buying me these candle selection boxes form Yankee Candle. I can’t wait to try them all and smell all their different and scrummy scents!
I have recently discovered the Happy Place podcast by Fearne Cotton and have been listening to it in the car during long drives. I think Fearne Cotton has done wonders in talking about her mental health and promoting mindfulness and well-being. Nathan brought me Fearne’s book ‘Happy’ which attempts to help people “find joy in every day and let go of perfect”. I feel I need more of this in my life and am excited to get stuck into this book and complete all the exercises within it.
Now I am a fan of mindfull colouring and colouring books used for relaxation, however, I have never come across mindful stickering before! My older sister Sarah gave me this awesome sounding book in which people can use stickers to fill in colourful patterns to relax! Each page has a motivational and inspirational message in it too which I think I will benefit greatly from this year – what a thoughtful and different present idea! Thank you, Sarah!
These pictures really aren’t great and are doing no justice to the wonderful presents but this picture shows some more thoughtful gifts from Chloe. To provide me with a sweet treat are these prosecco flavoured boiled sweets – very tasty I can guarantee! The notebook obviously isn’t for eating but is very cute and stylish and I do love a notebook so a perfect gift for me!
I was also lucky enough to receive one of the Naked Marshmallow Company dipping boxes which went down very well during our new year break. It was gifted to me by Caroline’s sister and family and is such a lovely treat gift. It matches the marshmallow advent calendar I had from the same company and I can assure you that the marshmallows dipped into the chocolate and salted caramel sauces are delicious with a capital D!
Finally, I am really grateful to have received some lovely jewellery from Pandora. I got some gorgeous charms for my bracelet from Nathan and a much-needed safety chain from his parents to keep my bracelet and ever-growing collection of charm safely on my wrist.
Last but not least I got this stunning Pandora necklace from my parents. It’s so pretty and sparkly and I love it! I am a very lucky girl indeed!
Thanks to everyone for their wonderful gifts this year, I love each and every one of them including all the other fab pressies I got but didn’t mention in this post (as it would have gone on for ages!). I guess the best gift I got was also quality time with my boyfriend and family and this is the best gift I could ever ask for! Cheers!
What was your favourite Christmas gift to receive? Let me know in the comments below!
With over 5000 tonnes of sand and 30 amazingly detailed sand sculptures to enjoy at the Weston Sand Sculpture Festival, picking just 10 of my favourites has been quite a challenge!
The theme for the 2018 sand sculpture festival at Weston Super Mare, Somerset was ‘the circus’. This theme allowed for some incredible sand sculptures that detailed the history of the circus, it’s controversies and also the sheer brilliance of its entertainment factor.
To find out more about the festival and my visit a few weeks ago check out the post I wrote – there are loads more photos of the festival and sculptures to see too!
When picking my top ten sculptures I decided to pick 5 from the main festival and 5 entries from the competition zone.
Here we go..
Main Festival Sculptures:
This is the first sculpture you spot once you have entered the festival and what a sculpture it is! I love how fun and exciting it is and how it’s also on one of the photo opportunity sculptures visitors can get involved with and have their photo taken on. You can jump into the car with the monkeys and see what monkey business you can get up to!
I was really intrigued by this sculpture and thought the elephant looked so realistic and lifelike. The information board accompanying the sculpture told visitors that elephants first appeared within the circus in the UK back in 1810. The information also detailed how ex-prime minister David Cameron promised to ban wild animals in the use of circus acts within England and Wales. Sadly, as the artist went on to explain, how this promise was not kept and that in some place animals are still being used within circuses and as entertainment today. This made me feel really sad and disappointed. I immediately felt sorry for the elephant, which obviously wasn’t real, however it symbolised other elephants and animals that should be out roaming in the wild and not used for human entertainment.
This sculpture made me smile, I’m not sure why but it really did. It reminded me not of going to the circus, but instead of watching the worlds strongest man on TV with my big sister – maybe that’s why it made me smile!
Again this was another sculpture that encouraged visitors to think about the history of the circus. Bears used to be a regular feature in circus entertainment as they are very intelligent and could be taught skills and tricks. Luckily no bears are used within circuses today which is definitely a good thing in my eyes!
This rather cheeky sculpture is situated outside the front of the festival and is obviously a fortune teller – I guess she spent her summer predicting visitors would have a fun time at the festival! I didn’t actually notice her as I went in – surprising given her rather ample bosoms but did on the way out and thought it was a great sculpture.
Competition Zone Sculptures:
Another bear sculpture – this one looking very fed up at being part of the circus which made me feel really sad. This one made me think about how lots of people visiting the circus in the past would have loved seeing a bear perform tricks, and whilst I understand that, it is just so cruel. I thought about what the living conditions may have been like for the animals backstage and how they would have been kept caged up and punished for not performing. Definitely makes you pleased bears aren’t used in circuses today, doesn’t it!
This sculpture seemed to be really popular on the day I visited with lots of younger children admiring it and saying how cute the teddy bear looked. The artist created this sculpture around the idea asking whether there is a great puppet master controlling us and thinking about the powerful position the media hold. Another thought-provoking sculpture and more than meets the eye!
Who knows what we saw
I thought this sculpture really summed up fun at the circus for me. I am not one who is scared of clowns and have luckily always found them to be funny growing up and as an adult. This one depicts the trick of pretending to saw someone in half – always a good one to watch just in case it goes wrong! I liked how the clown’s noses were red in colour too!
On the theme of clowns, I chose this horror clown sculpture as one of my favourites – purely for how horribly scary it is! As I just said above, I’ve never been one to be afraid of clowns but after seeing this double-sided clown I’m now not so sure about their harmless nature! I’m not sure I’ll be watching the new ‘IT’ film anytime soon…!
Animal crackers: elect a clown, expect a circus
I hadn’t realised until I wrote this that I had chosen another clown themed sculpture to put in my favourites – I guess these must symbolise the circus for me! I liked this cheeky chappy though and the detail on his outfit – so clever. I really enjoyed the humour in the title of the sculpture too. Apparently, the artist created this sculpture based on the film ‘Animal Crackers’ which is about a family that aims to save a run-down circus – I personally haven’t seen it before myself but am intrigued to check it out now!
So there we have it, my favourites from this year’s Weston Sand Sculpture Festival! Don’t forget to check out my full blog post reviewing the festival and both mine and the festival’s Instagram pages for more details and pictures!
*** I was given free entry to the festival, however, all thoughts, pictures and opinions are entirely my own ***
June was another busy month for me and Scrapbook Adventures. It brought about more nice weather, fun days out and a couple more glamping stays for the glamping series. Don’t forget to click on the links for each adventure if you want to read more!
I kicked off June by seeing the show Flashdance at Exeter Northcott theatre with my friend Charlie. It was such a good show – we were up and singing and dancing at the end – loved it!
I visited West Bay, home to the BBC’s Boradchurch filming locations. I met up with some friends I made whilst at Bournemouth University and we had a good time exploring the harbour, beach and eating lots of nice naughty food.
Nathan and I took a trip to Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre near Okehampton, Devon. We loved it; having lots of fun on the old-fashioned rides and finding out more about the classic vintage fairground.
After spending a few hours at Dingles Nathan and I fancied cooling off with an ice cream at Roadford Lake. This is a lovely place for a walk and a bit of reflection.
The middle of June saw Nathan and I heading on a glamping adventure to Andrewshayes Holiday Park near Dalwood. We stayed in a glamping pod and had a really enjoyable stay. There was a swimming pool and games room which we took full advantage of! Click here to read more!
We were invited to visit Wildwood Escot near Axminsiter. This was a great, family friendly day out and we loved seeing all the animals and hear about how they are looked after. I enjoyed the birds of prey show the most!
My sister Sarah, neiece Orlagh, nephew Cillian, my Nan and I went on a little caravan holiday together to Brean Sands. We had a lovely time and took away some brilliant memories.
We visited Brean Leisure park which Orlagh thought was amazing! She had so much fun on the rides and we loved watching her having such a good time. Ice creams were a must at the end of the day!
We also went to the caravan sites’ little farm, arcade, to the swimming pool and to the soft play area. All were great fun and tired the little ones (and older ones!) out!
Berrow Beach was a lovely sandy beach to visit. We got stuck in the mud and had very sandy sandwiches – basically the classic British beach visit!
June was also the month of my little nephews Christening in Sussex. He was Christened ‘Cillian John’ and was very patient having his photo taken with lots of the guests! Nathan and I spent the weekend in Sussex, staying in a lovely Air B&B.
We enjoyed exploring National Trust’s Monk House and playing some crazy golf on Brighton Seafront. We treated ourselves to a cheeky Harvester meal too!
Another glamping stay was on the cards – this time it was a solo adventure to The Wood Life in Kenn near Exeter. I stayed in a delightful shepherds hut which had a separate bathing wagon with a bath with the most amazing views. I had such an amazing solo stay and would love to return with Nathan one day!
Nathan and I stayed overnight in a bell tent at Owl Valley Glamping in Bideford, North Devon. We had a great stay, fully immersing ourselves in woodland nature and enjoying the games on offer in the parliament building. Really recommend a stay here!
After staying at Owl Valley Glamping Nathan and I took a trip to Westward Ho – a beautiful large sandy beach where we had some delicious local ice cream!
Our last adventure in June was to Padstow in Cornwall. This is one of my favourite places in Cornwall and I have visited many times. We went for an OK dinner at Burger and Fish and later had ice cream on the harbour.
June was a busy but fun month and we were very lucky to stay at three different glamping places! I think the best thing about this month was my solo stay at The Wood Life – it was just so relaxing and fun!
Like April, May 2018 was a busy month indeed! It saw Nathan and mine’s 2-year anniversary, various blog adventures and the start of the Scrapbook Adventures glamping series! Be sure to click on the links below to be taken to my posts for each adventure!
The start of May sent us some beautiful warm weather and so I took myself off to Tiverton for a stroll along the Grand Western Canal. I enjoyed walking a for a couple of miles and admiring the canalside views. I treated myself to a pasty from Ducks Ditty and later had a scone and homemade lemonade at the Tiverton Canal Tearooms and Garden.
As previously mentioned, May saw the start of my glamping series and Nathan and I were lucky enough to spend the first May bank holiday at the glorious Just Us Retreats. Click here to see our review of our awesome glamping experience – we highly recommend!
After a day of teaching at Exeter Univerity, I popped to the beautiful Reed Hall and treated myself to a mint tea and slice of cake!
May 16th was the date of Nathan and I’s 2-year anniversary of being together. We celebrated by going for a meal out at a local restaurant The Three Pigs. Steak and creme brulee was on the menu – yum yum! Nathan brought me some lovely prezzies and flowers too!
As the weather continued to improve I was able to enjoy a few nights out in Exeter chilling with friends and admiring the Quay.
I took myself off on a solo adventure to Torquay where I stayed overnight at The Heritage Hotel. It was a nice stay and the next day I went to Cockington Court which was a fun place for a walk and to pick up some crafty-arty bits.
Nathan and I enjoy a good walk and one weekend we went on a very hot and sweaty walk to Otterton and Landram Bay. Whilst the views were beautiful I didn’t enjoy being nearly chased by cows or running out of water to drink!
After spending the morning exploring the wonderful Bygones and going back in time to the Victorian era we made our way to Torquay’s harbour. Here we spent an interesting hour or so at Torquay’s Dinosaur World learning about all things dinosaur!
All this exploring, taking photos and time travelling had left us pretty hungry and we were in need of a late lunch. I had read good things on Tripadvisor about Anstey’s Cove Cafe and so we thought we would head there.
Discovering Ansteys Cove
Anstey’s Cove isn’t far from Torquay’s harbour and town and was easy to find. We parked in the large car park and took the steep walk down to the beach. What a view!
On arrival at the beach, we were greeted with some lovely views of the sea and lots of tables and chairs on the promenade waiting for us to take a seat.
Anstey’s Cove Cafe has a moderately sized menu including burgers, paninis, jacket potatoes, cake, ice creams and drinks. Nathan chose to have a cheeky Cornish pasty and chips whilst I opted for a tuna and cheese panini. We both went for mugs of steaming hot chocolate too.
As we sat and enjoyed our lunch overlooking the sea we watched a couple of boats sail by. Even though it was mid-late afternoon the sun was shining and it felt like we could have been abroad! There were quite a few other people enjoying the sun and various dog walkers walking their dogs down to the sea.
Apparently, Ansteys Cove has connections to the writer Agatha Christie. It is said that Ansteys Cove provided Agatha with some inspiration for her book the ‘Five Little Pigs’. I can see how this place would provide writers with some amazing views and sights to write about – it’s beautiful.
I love a tasty lunch with a view and this really fitted the bill! I bet it would be even nicer in the summer months, but possibly a lot busier too. I really enjoyed finding this hidden gem of a place and admiring the sunny views. The walk back up to the car park wasn’t so enjoyable though!