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!
I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s something I’ve always told myself and others – partly because I’ve never experienced anything from the paranormal, and partly because the thought of anything ghostly scares me! So when Bodmin Jail in Cornwall invited us down for an overnight stay at Britain’s most haunted venue I wasn’t so sure! Staying overnight and exploring a jail I hadn’t visited before, with a group of people I didn’t know, – not quite for me on my first paranormal experience I don’t think.
History and Paranormal Tour
We opted to go on the 2 hour Historical and Paranormal Tour. The jail offers this every Friday and Saturday night at 6.30pm. The tour is advertised as “an in-depth guided paranormal jail tour through the history of this unique destination”. And this is exactly what we got!
We were met by our host Kirsten in the restaurant and gift shop area of the jail. Kirsten introduced herself and told us we were going to have a private tour around the jail – how exciting! Kirsten told us about her work and her role at the jail; she seemed genuinely really interested in all things paranormal and was full of awesome stories and facts.
Our tour started outside by the front entrance to the jail – I was glad we brought our coats as it was a chilly night indeed – the ghost stories only made the goosebumps increase! Kirsten told us about how the prisoners would have arrived at the jail back in the 1700 – 1800 hundreds. She explained some of the common crimes that would have led to the prisoners being imprisoned here which was quite enlightening.
This was taken during the day – it was much more scary at night time!
We moved on to where the medical section of the prison had been. Kirsten had lots of gruesome stories for this section of the prison! It was hard to believe that women would have given birth in this section of the prison whilst they were detained. Many children lived within the prison too – what kind of life must that have been?
Next we spent time looking around the stables and the execution pit. Apparently there were 60 executions at the jail between 1735 and 1909. You can see a list of all the prisoners that were hung whilst at the prison.
It’s mad to think that an execution used to be a public display and crowds of people (up to 25,000!) would go and watch; as it was some sort of family attraction. Apparently, people used to be able to see the executions from trains that run from London to Penzance – trains would stop below the prison wall so passengers could witness the execution from their seats! Imagine that! It’s certainly not something I would have wanted to see – the thought of it really gives me the creeps. In 1868 the law was changed which ensured that executions took place in private.
Whilst standing by the stables Kirsten said she felt a presence.. definitely time for us to move on!
Inside the Jail
We moved on through to the entrance to the jail – we were actually the first people to be taken through the new entrance – how exciting! There are quite a few renovations and building works going on at the moment but this didn’t disrupt our tour – only added to it when we heard about how the builders will now only work in pairs due to mysterious going ons!
We entered the jail and went down to the ground floor. Here, Kirsten turned off her torch meaning it was pitch black! Kirsten asked us if it was ok if she shared with us if she saw any orbs or felt any presence of paranormal spirits. I reluctantly said yes.
As we stood in the pitch black being able to see nothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous and let out an anxious laugh. I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face! Kirsten told us she could see a shadow in the doorway behind us. I couldn’t see anything myself but I think that’s because my eyes were closed out of fear!! I oddly felt a cold sensation behind my left shoulder, near to where Nathan was standing next to me. I didn’t think anything of it until a few minutes later Kirsten told us there was a presence standing behind Nathan – now that really freaked me out! Could I have witnessed a sudden drop in temperature that Kirsten had told us we could experience if a prison spirit was nearby!?
Nathan, who believes in paranormal stuff and ghosts more than me, said at times felt he could see shadows and explained he felt a funny sensation on his nose – not sure what that was about but Kirsten was very interested in it! Apparently, all those that attend the overnight stays at the jail are added to a private Facebook page where photos and stories are shared based on their experiences.
Exploring the Cells
Having spent enough time in the dark we carried on our tour looking at the various displays with manikins. Each display is accompanied by information boards telling you what is being depicted in the scene. I read these with interest in the dim torchlight. It’s amazing when you’re feeling a little spooked how the manikins look like they are moving or winking at you!
We climbed the spiral staircases to the other wings of the prison. Here we found out lots more about prison life and about some of the prisoners that resided here. I won’t go into too much detail about the stories in case you go on the tour for yourself – I don’t want any spoilers!
Kirsten was great in answering all our questions and appeared to know so much about the prison and its history. She told us lots of stories about the paranormal activity she has witnessed during nighttime tours of the jail and also gave us information about how the overnight stays work – I was even tempted to book one up! On reflection, I’m still not sure I could handle it but I know we would be in safe hands with Kirsten and her paranormal partner Paul.
Whilst we were walking around we spotted some of the building works which are going ahead to make a hotel at the jail. Can you imagine staying within the jail knowing all the gruesome encounters that went on – I don’t think I’d sleep! I reckon it would be pretty cool though and something to tick off your bucket list – I mean how many people can say they’ve stayed in a jail which happens to be the most haunted hotel! We even saw where there would be a room right next to where people used to be hung over the side of the building – imagine sleeping well knowing that!
The building of the 63 roomed hotel has caused some controversy locally. I remember seeing some articles in the media about it, with some locals being unhappy about the proposed idea. I guess you can get married at the jail so why not stay the night there too! I think some people are worried it will ruin the attraction but I’m undecided. They are currently creating the hotel from two derelict cell blocks so nothing I assume none of the current exhibition will be disrupted.
I will be really intrigued to see how it looks and what the decor is like – I mean how do you decorate a room in a prison! I can’t imagine how much a nights stay will cost but I’m sure it would be a night to remember – especially if you combine it with one of the jail’s overnight tours! Maybe we will get invited back sometime!
After two hours our tour had come to an end – I couldn’t believe how fast the time had passed. I was relieved we had made it out without any dramas! My head was full of interesting ghost stories and prison facts – what a brilliant tour.
Nathan and I both really enjoyed the tour and it was something a bit different to do on a winter Friday night. We were talking about our experience for days and recommended it to all our friends. I think £25 per person is a reasonable price fun and memorable night out.
There is also a restaurant and tea room at the jail and they run many special events. I liked the sound of the tapas night they were holding the same week we visited. The jail also offers scary cinema nights and during the day people can visit the jail and walk around at their own pace exploring the exhibits. There’s a well stocked and fun gift shop too. Check out the Bodmin Jail Facebook page for the latest info and events list.
Big thanks to all the lovely staff at Bodmin Jail and special gratitude to Kirsten for guiding us around and sharing all her knowledge with us. You never know, we might be back!!
***Whilst the tour was provided to us on a complimentary basis, all thoughts and opinions within this post are my own***
Would you be brave enough to visit the jail? Take a tour and stay overnight? What do you think of a hotel being built within the jail? Let me know your thoughts below 🙂