Friday, 10 June 2016

Being a little sewing bee, making a summer dress

Every year it happens a television series appears on the box and suddenly that hobby becomes oh so cool and ever so popular. We've seen it with the Great British Bake Off where baking is the latest craze and everyone is talking cupcakes. Although I do still wonder what ever happened to fairy cakes and when they grew up and got larger and became the cool big brother cupcake?

Since the sewing bee came back onto our screens my enthusiasm for dress making has been ignited once again. Although If I'm completely and brutally honest the latest series of the Sewing Bee does seem to be a bit too clever for my level of sewing and as I watch, even myself a keen amateur sewer i'm losing interest.

I don't see myself making a lace bra or a Chinese blouse anytime soon. However I still have the book from the first series of the sewing bee that includes basic garments and easier patterns and in particular some lovely summer dresses. As I have some gorgeous materials currently at home in my sewing box I decided to make a summer dress out of this AMAZING rubber duck material.
Rubber duck material
Rubber duck material
Sewing supplies in my collection
Sewing supplies in my collection
As the summer is now in full swing I decided to make the summer dress and started by printing out the pattern rather than try to draw it out myself. This was a time consuming job all on its own and consisted of printing out 32 A4 pieces of paper, cutting them all down to size and sticking them together took ages and then once fixed into a pattern it was time to cut all the pattern pieces out.
Cutting out a dress pattern from A4 pages
Cutting out a dress pattern from A4 pages
With all my pattern pieces cut out of paper it was time to pin these to the material and start cutting the dress pieces. I decided to go for the next size up to what I normally wear to give myself a bit of wiggle room and material to take in rather than cut it too small and be stuck. However now that it is placed on the mannequin it looks worryingly small for me, but I will persevere.


With all the pattern pieces cut out it's time to start sewing my new dress together.
Laying the pattern pieces on the mannequin
Laying the pattern pieces on the mannequin
Test fitting on the mannequin
Test fitting on the mannequin
The front and back bodice has been pinned, tacked and sewn and the centre panel and skirt are pinned in place on the mannequin ready for sewing.

Check in with my blog in the next few days to see how my new rubber duck pattern dress comes out. For now it's off to bed. x

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Wadebridge to Padstow bike ride on the camel trail

At the moment I appear to be living it quite possibly the best place in the UK, the weather has been stunning for weeks now. I am hearing on the radio and on the news that there has been terrible flooding in London, thunderstorms in Ireland and very chilly temperatures across the majority of the east of England. However in the south west we are being blessed with day after day of glorious warm sunshine and I am making the most of it.

After a long day stuck in the office, as soon as I finished work on Friday we loaded up our bikes into the van and headed a few miles up the road to Wadebridge to spend an evening cycling in the Cornish sunshine. 
Cruiser bike ready to ride
Cruiser bike ready to ride
I feel so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing cycle route just a few miles from my house a route that spans a total length of 18.2 miles all completely off roads and winding its way from the coast of Padstow along the river camel to Wadebridge, up to Bodmin and then on up to Wenfordbridge and the end of the trail.

After a long day at work it was the perfect summers evening to cycle from Wadebridge to Padstow and back. It's a completely flat trail and this meant that I was able to utilise my completely useless but ever so cool cruiser. Buying a bike in Cornwall that has no gears and can only be used on the flat is quite possibly a complete waste of money however the camel trail is the perfect place to use a bike like this. 

Within about 30 minutes we had cycled the 5 miles from Wadebridge to Padstow and were in the bustling harbour. We grabbed a chippy tea and a beer and sat on the harbour wall watching the ferry boat chug to and from Padstow to Rock across the river. Padstow is so beautiful if not perhaps a little spoilt by being so busy but we found a nice quiet spot and enjoyed the evening. 
The camel estuary between Wadebridge and Padstow
The camel estuary between Wadebridge and Padstow
Sun setting over the river Camel, Cornwall
Sun setting over the river Camel, Cornwall
Sun setting over the river Camel, Cornwall

Iron bridge over the river camel, near Padstow, Cornwall
Iron bridge over the river camel, near Padstow, Cornwall
Padstow in the evening sun
Padstow in the evening sun
Padstow harbour
Padstow harbour
Last of the sunlight over the camel estuary, Padstow, Cornwall
Last of the sunlight over the camel estuary, Padstow, Cornwall
Looking across to Rock from Padstow
Looking across to Rock from Padstow
My other half doing his best seagull impression.
My other half doing his best seagull impression.
Padstow to Rock water taxi
Padstow to Rock water taxi
Enjoying a relaxed evening by the water

As night began to fall we headed back to the trail to cycle back to Wadebridge and then home. However we were slightly drawn to the ice cream parlour and had to stop for a bit of dessert to fuel the cycle back. Although by the time the ice cream was consumed and we were back in the saddle of our bikes the evening was definitely drawing in and the light was fading fast. 
 
Icecream eating in Padstow, Cornwall
Icecream eating in Padstow, Cornwall
We cycled back just as it was getting a bit too dark and arrived back into Wadebridge at twenty past ten at night!!!! How amazing is that! night time cycling. 

We had an absolutely gorgeous night out, chippy tea, beer and ice cream but felt ever so slightly less guilty about consuming all this naughty food as the ten mile bike ride to get it cancelled it out... plus calories don't count on a Friday, do they?

Friday, 27 May 2016

My favourite places to go camping, but can you guess where?

Talk about PERFECT Timing, last night through my letter box arrived the 'Halfords Guide to Camping' and it's a gorgeous little book of ideas to inspire the next camping trip.

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday and was lucky enough to not only go camping for the weekend for my birthday but it was also the hottest and sunniest weekend of the year so far. It was amazing, me and my partner had the best four day mini break, road tripping in the van.

The minute we finished work on the Thursday we were in our T4 camper van, named Stanley and were heading up the coast. In less than an hours time we were watching the sun set over the beach and had a beer in hand. It doesn't matter where you go as long as you go somewhere that isn't your regular work or home location and your holiday starts the minute you arrive. We travelled all over the west country that weekend from North Cornwall to Bath and then down south to the New Forest. It was amazing and you can read all about the adventure in depth on my blog here.

Getting back to the reasoning behind this blog post is this cute little camping guide that was on the door mat when I returned home from work. This is no flimsy leaflet that finds it's way through the letter box and straight into the recycling bin. This is a chunky heavy weight booklet bursting full of information about camping. Taking a tour around the UK the booklet sweeps around the UK with campsites, attractions and cycle rides and within just a few pages I am planning my next camping weekend and possibly even camping week away.

Flicking through the pages with my partner we started to remember some of our favourite camping trips that we have been on over the last eight years of being together.

Cornwall
Starting on home turf my favourite place to go camping has to be Cornwall. I know I live in Cornwall and when I say I live 7 miles from the beach and that doesn't sound very far at all there is still something very exciting about going to the beach and especially spending the night at the beach. 
There are so many campsites in Cornwall and so many have fields literally above the cliffs over looking the beach. 
One of my favourites is a really simple campsite at Bedruthan steps. This probably sounds totally crazy as its literally only a ten minute drive from my home but there is nothing better than the simple things in life. This campsite is nothing more that a field and a beach, there's a small toilet and shower in a shed and that is it! 

The campsite is only open for two months of the year during the summer and the minute you arrive you are completely and utterly absorbed by it's beauty. When the tides out there is a gorgeous rugged beach and when the sun sets over the water I don't want to be anywhere else. With a glass of something cold and a few friends I absolutely love camping here.
Surfing and camping in Cornwall
Surfing and camping in Cornwall
Amsterdam

Now my most memorable camping experience goes from one end of Cornwall to the other side of the Netherlands. One of my favourite bands were playing at a festival in Amsterdam called Fat Freddies Drop and so we decided that we would embark on an epic road trip travelling across the UK with various stops along the way and end up in Amsterdam. We stayed in a gorgeous camp site on the outskirts of the city of Amsterdam on the edge of the main train line into the city.

At first sight the campsite was just off a motorway, near a train station and close to the airport, it had barbed wire around the entrance gates and the perimeters, with security guards at the entrance. However once inside it was one of the nicest camp sites I have stayed in. With wonderful lush green grass, surrounded by trees and a very clean block of showers and toilets with the friendliest staff you could wish for when travelling in a foreign country, it was perfect.
Campsite in Amsterdam
Campsite in Amsterdam
After several nights in the city of Amsterdam and taking in all the sights and sounds of the music festival it was a long road trip back to the UK but one of my favourite camping holidays.
Amsterdam City Centre
Amsterdam City Centre
Cycling in the city of Amsterdam
Cycling in the city of Amsterdam
Belgium
Another favourite camping trip has to be another European road trip, this time across to Belgium. It was one of the first times we had taken the van abroad and it was such an adventure. From driving on the wrong side of the road, well technically the right side of the road to attending a classic Volkswagen drag racing festival. 
Volkswagen drag racing in Belgium
Volkswagen drag racing in Belgium
However as camping goes you can never tell what the weather is going to do and you need to pack and prepare for every eventuality and we had gone completely unprepared. 
It was lovely driving over, the sun was constantly shining and it was really hot but once we arrived the heavens opened and it poured with rain all night. 
This wasn't such a problem for us as after a long drive across the UK and Europe we were tired and just got a good nights sleep listening to the rain on the van roof. 
It wasn't until the following day once the sun was back out that we realised that a lot more festival goers had arrived during the night and the fields were mud baths. 
I didn't have the correct footwear just a pair of trainers and the mud was knee deep! 
It was a brilliant weekend, an excellent adventure but a definite reminder to pack for every weather eventuality when camping. 

Camping at a muddy festival
Camping at a muddy festival
Sinking in the mud at a festival
Sinking in the mud at a festival

It doesn't matter whether your camping in a small 2 man tent or you have a huge Winnebago getting away from the daily stresses of life and camping is such a brilliant way to spend a weekend. It's the places and the people that you go with that make the memories. From camping in a tent at a music festival to camping in our van In remote locations I absolutely love the adventure. Even when covered from top to toe in mud I love it.
Festival camper van with friends
Festival camper van with friends
Sitting in my living room flicking through the pages of this little Halfords guide to camping I'm now full of ideas for our next adventure in our van.

Feeling inspired? You can download a copy of the camping guide and find out loads more information on camping and even festival survival here. Plus if you are inspired and need a new tent there are loads available at Halfords including a gorgeous Orla Kiely tent!!!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Good luck Josh Curnow

I'm not normally one to get addicted to watching things like The X Factor, The Voice and Britains Got Talent because I fear they destroy talent and create a generation of manufactured pop artists.
I despise pop music and much prefer to find myself at live local gigs, supporting small festivals and lesser know artists.

I've written many a blog post about some of my favourite live musicians and not one of these have ever been created or produced through a talent show. These artists have opened my mind to a whole world of new and interesting music and I love it.

Some of my favourite gigs in Cornwall include John Butler Trio, The Cat Empire, Zion Train, and then some local artists including Willie and the Bandits, Backbeat Soundsystem, The Sum Of, Land Of The Giants, The Claze and The Grenaways and last but not least Josh Curnow 
Josh Curnow CD'S
Josh Curnow CD'S
I found myself curled up on the sofa one Saturday evening with Britains Got Talent on. It's not my usual Saturday night entertainment and my partner was outside working on his car and I think I was possibly even reading a book or doing something else at the same time and the program was background noise. Then out of the corner of my eye noticed that Josh Curnow a singer song writer that I have seen live several times and that is a family friend of a friend was on the television.
Josh Curnow playing Live In Truro
Josh Curnow playing Live In Truro
He wasn't singing, yet, he was actually giving headbutt kisses to his girlfriend Jen. I started banging on the living room window to my partner who was outside working on his car, that, I think Josh Curnow was just on the television.

That was it for us, we have watched him audition and now in just a few minutes will be performing live in the semi final.

If you haven't yet seen his live audition then you need to. He has amazing gruff deep tones to his voice and covers one of my favourite Greenday songs beautifully in his BGT audition.


I just want to wish Josh all the very best for tonight, I'm sure the whole of Cornwall will be behind him tonight and really do wish him all the best at getting through to the live final as he really deserves the success. 

GOOD LUCK JOSH - PLEASE VOTE JOSH

Getting back in between the waves in Cornwall

I moved to Cornwall ten years ago because I loved the beach and wanted to learn to surf and that still hasn't changed now. I'm still learning to surf and every year my confidence goes up and up and I think that this will be the year I master it. Then the winter comes, the waves get big and scary, I lose all of my confidence and I'm back to square one learning to surf again.

Although I do usually try to continue surfing throughout the winter, this year saw storm after storm batter the Cornish coast and learning to surf took a back step.

But with weather as gorgeous as it is at the moment, with the lifeguards being back on duty should anything go wrong and the water warming up I managed to finally get in the water this weekend.
Great Western Beach Newquay
Great Western Beach Newquay
I've been in a few times during winter with the aid of boots, gloves, a hood and a winter wetsuit but this weekend I ditched the accessories and finally felt the sea water on my skin and it felt amazing. OK so I was still in a winter wetsuit but feeling the sand between my toes is a wonderfully uplifting feeling.

I might not be able to surf very well and I'm going to always be learning but whilst I'm trying, I'm making friends, keeping fit and have a huge smile on my face and can't wait to get in the water again soon.
Tolcarne Beach Newquay
Tolcarne Beach Newquay
If you think your to old and thinking about taking up a new hobby and trying to learn something new, don't ever think your too old and always keep trying, and definitely always keep smiling.

The sun's shining, get out there, get in the water and have fun.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Beach BBQ and a gorgeous sunset across Cornwall

When I first moved to Cornwall nearly ten years ago, the idea of beach BBQ's was so exciting. Being a city girl and more accustomed to the more civilised garden BBQ I couldn't wait to cook my food on the beach.
I had visions of catching fish and cooking it straight away, being warm all night and having the most amazing evening. A stunningly beautiful beach scene with good food, good drink, good people and a lovely location.

The reality is that the weather in the UK just doesn't let me succeed in that dream as much as I would like. This weekend my friends had planned to meet on the beach for a BBQ in the evening but the weather was having other ideas.

On Saturday it did NOT stop raining. I went to bed Friday evening listening to the sound of the rain hammering down on the window panes and this continued all day Saturday. We started sending messages to each other and making back up plans as the afternoon turned into early evening and the rain continued to pour. But about an hour before we were due to meet on the beach the clouds started to break up and the sun finally started to make an appearance.

With most things, it's always better late than never and after such a diabolical day it felt even more special to enjoy an evening on the beach with friends.

We lit the BBQ's, drank beer and enjoyed a wonderful evening with the simpler things in life, good views and good friends.

Porth Beach Newquay Sunset
Porth Beach Newquay Sunset
It was an amazing evening and so pleased that I live in Cornwall and can enjoy these simple pleasures in life. 
Porth Beach Newquay Sunset
Last glimpses on sun behind the clifftop
Love an evening with good friends

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Road Trip, Camping in the UK. Bude, Bath and Beyond...

As you get older in life suddenly things or rather objects in life aren't so important, especially when it comes to your birthday. I remember as a young child getting a copy of the Argos catalogue months before my birthday and studying the pages from cover to cover creating the ultimate birthday list. Writing down the catalogue number and the page number and marking the item with a felt tip pen birthdays were extremely exciting.

Now in my thirties, things have very much changed and although I don't dread my birthday and fear getting older, I no longer have a list of things that I 'want' Instead I have a mental list of things I'd quite like around the house, including a casserole dish, a spatula and even a new ironing board cover. When did I get so domesticated?

I'm not sure what happened but when my other half ask 'What I wanted for my birthday' I replied with camping!

I wanted to go off and get away from it all, I wanted to sleep under the stars in a van without WiFi and without television and get back to basics.

My partner pulled a brilliant weekend away out of the bag and started by driving up the coast just an hour away just the other side of Bude where we wild camped the night. We were not alone as two other vans joined us for the evening but we enjoyed waking up to the sound of the waves and a morning stomp up a very big hill to the next beach and back.
Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Steep hill climb off the beach up onto the coast path
Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Northcott beach near Bude Cornwall

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Northcott beach near Bude Cornwall

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
North Cornwall Coast Path

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Walking along the North Cornwall coast path from Northcott beach to Sandymouth beach

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Walking to Sandymouth Beach near Bude Cornwall

Northcott Mouth Beach Bude Cornwall
Sandymouth Beach near Bude Cornwall


I was feeling extremely lucky, as not only were we staying in a beautiful location but the sun was shining and it was hot. I write this today as the wind howls and the rain rolls down the window so getting sunshine whilst off work in the UK is something to get excited about.
Sandymouth Beach near Bude Cornwall
Sunrise on Sandymouth beach near Bude Cornwall
We then left the North Cornish coast and headed up country for a few hours until we reached Bath. We arrived at the Bath Marina campsite which sounds amazing however doesn't quite live up to it's name. It is right on the canal and does have a tow path access directly to the city centre however the facilities somewhat reminded me of an eighties holiday camp and the staff weren't particularly helpful either. We asked the reception staff if they had any cycle maps for the local area of which they didn't and when asked which direction we should head to get to the two tunnels cycle path were answered with a vague knowledge of the attraction but no idea where it was!

We made a start on the tow path and with a combination of a few cycle route signs and some very friendly people we found the two tunnels cycle paths. For anyone that hasn't experienced these tunnels on a bike I would HIGHLY recommend.
One of the tunnels is over a mile long and is the longest cycling tunnel in the UK, It's really is pretty cool. As you enter the tunnel your eyes take a while to adjust to the dimly lit corridor and the temperature drops, as the tunnel bends around you can't see the end or the beginning of the tunnel and then out of nowhere you catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of light and realise that there are lights and sounds all around and a feature of cycling through the tunnel.
Two Tunnels cycle path near Bath
Entrance to the Two Tunnels cycle path near Bath

Two Tunnels cycle path near Bath
Inside the Tunnel, the longest cycling tunnel in the UK just over 1 mile long
Cycling the canal paths around Bath
Cycling the canal paths around Bath
It's an awesome experience whether you walk or cycle the tunnel but hugely recommend exploring the area if you get the chance.

After cycling through the tunnels we met up with another canal path and made our way back into bath city centre and back to the camp site. In total we covered around 16 miles and feeling very pleased with our efforts decided to head back to the van, have a shower and head back into the city for dinner. However before we had even made it to the nearest bus stop we bumped into the riverside pub. Another thing the staff in the camp site had failed to mention, the fact that there was a pub a few minutes walk away!

We soon ditched the idea of getting the bus into the city centre and opted to stay by the river and have a meal here. It was a lovely evening and we watched the sun set over the water enjoying a glass of wine and a very lovely first day.
Sun setting over the canal in Bath
Sun setting over the canal in Bath
Bath marina, canal boats
Bath Marina
4 puddings on a slate
A whole slate full of desserts
Food and wine coma, but delicious and well worth it!
The Boathouse Bath
The Boathouse Bath
The following morning I woke up early and completed another few miles of walking along the canal path before my other half woke up and then it was back in the van before heading to the new forest. Another place I have never been to so when we arrived at quite possibly the most beautiful camp site I was hugely excited. My partner had booked us onto a pitch right next to a fishing lake in an adult only section of the camp site and it was perfect.
Camping in the T4 in the New Forest
Camping in the T4 in the New Forest
The sun continued to shine and so we headed off on our bikes again through the new forest in search of the nearest pub. We actually went for the second nearest pub and completed a lovely, if not rather hilly in places, 8 mile bike ride. After a bite to eat, and a pint it was time to cycle back to the camp site for the next activity, Go Ape.
Cycling in the New Forest
Cycling in the New Forest
The Green Dragon in Brook - The New Forest
The Green Dragon in Brook - The New Forest
Drinking a pint in a beer garden
Enjoying a pint in a beer garden

Now I do love the outdoors, I love cycling, surfing, running and all things active but I wasn't sure about heights and being Tarzan for the afternoon. It wasn't long before we arrived in another beautiful forest and I was being harnessed up and ready to start the sessions. It was late in the afternoon and we were on the last session of the day and suddenly the walking, cycling and beer drinking in the sun was taking effect and I was feeling sleepy!!!
Go Ape near the New ForestGo Ape near the New Forest
That soon changed as I climbed the first rope ladder up a huge tree and had to use a zip wire to get back down. It wasn't something that I would have chosen to do normally, however it was brilliant and would hugely recommend it to anyone. I've never done rock climbing or used a harness before and when a very confident child whizzed around my feet during the training protesting she knew what to do I soon found myself feeling a little worried and embarrassed.

The first few times I was clipping myself on I struggled and got my partner to double check them and the first leap off our of a tree was particularly scary but by the end I was loving it.
Go Ape flatforms in the trees in the New Forest
Go Ape flatforms in the trees in the New Forest
Certificates at the end of Go Ape
We might be adults but feeling very proud at the end getting our certificates

After nearly two hours of climbing, jumping and swinging through the trees it was time to leave and with the sun setting it was time to find another pub for the evening.

The following day we didn't really have any plans and found ourselves yet again enjoying the sunshine with good food and good drink in a beer garden in the new forest. I was so happy, the weekend was turning into something really wonderful and that afternoon with heavy stomachs we cycled another 17 miles.
Cycling in the new forestHuge trees in the new forest
We camped the final night in the new forest itself, in a camp site with no pitches, with very few rules and we didn't even have to pay until the following morning. We rocked up, camped under a tree and paid in the morning. It was great and apart from showers and toilets in a nearby building, there was nothing else here, apart from forest. It was amazing to just sit, and chat, and drink. No clubhouse, no TV, no Internet just the forest and our little van.
Camping in the New Forest
Camping in the New Forest
On our last day we were up early and headed into the local village of Lyndhurst where we managed to dine alfresco for breakfast. It was gorgeously hot and sunny and we were so lucky to be able to enjoy the sunshine.
Boiling a kettle whilst campingEnjoying breakfast in Lyndhurst
 After breakfast we headed in the van across the New Forest until we reached our last destination and had an afternoon cream tea and more beer in the quant little village of Burley before heading back on the road home to Cornwall.

As far as birthdays go this has been my favourite and getting back to basics and camping and making memories means so much more than anything I could purchase from the Argos catalogue!!!

Except for unicorn onesies!!! Every Birthday girl needs a unicorn onesie for camping in the UK when the evenings get cold!!!
Unicorn OnesieUnicorn Onesie
 Unicorn Onesie

Unicorn Onesie
Just being all grown up on my birthday.... Being a UNICORN hee hee