Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Kew Gardens in March: the Orchids Festival (and a Very Lucky Lizard)

Sitting down to write this blog post I've realised how terribly timed it is - here I am blogging about the annual Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens when this year's festival has literally just finished and you'll have to wait a whole year to see it for yourself. I am a bad, mean blogger and I apologise.

Hopefully enough of the sheer joy of the TROPICAL COLOUR EXPLOSION that is the Orchid Festival will seep out of these photos for you to enjoy in the meantime!

The annual festival runs from mid-February to mid-March in Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory and is a wonderful burst of warmth and colour. I visited in 2015 (regular readers will know I'm sloooowly blogging about my year's membership of the gardens in 2015, which is one of the best things I think I've ever spent money on) and absolutely adored it.


The Conservatory is already a gorgeous space to explore, but the addition of the orchid-filled displays is the icing on the botanical cake.

I got a peek at the preparations for the festival when I visited the gardens in January, but I was entirely unprepared for the sheer volume and variety of the orchids that would be on display.

I don't even like orchids that much (I don't dislike them, don't get me wrong, they're just nowhere near being my fave flower or my top choice for a houseplant) but en masse like this they made my heart positively sing.

You can learn all about orchids and their habitats at the festival, of course. Kew is never short of opportunities to learn some fascinating plant facts. But I mostly just wandered about gazing at the displays, trying not to repeatedly say "wow" out loud or let my jaw drop open in front of passing strangers.

All that and I encountered one of the Conservatory's resident pest controllers - a very chilled out Chinese Water Dragon who wandered across one of the paths to everyone's great delight. I'm not sure if lizards care about orchids (I'm guessing probably not), but a massive glass house has got to be a pretty great space for a lizard to live!

More Kew adventures soon!

You'll find all my Kew posts here, and you can read about all of my travels in the UK here.

You might also enjoy reading about my visit to the Camellia Festival at Chiswick House & Gardens. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

My Flat in Progress: February 2017

If you've been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I moved to the seaside about a year ago and bought a flat. It was a big change, and an exciting one!

I'm living walking distance from the beach, which is amazing - I've been on so many walks since moving here and have started actively pining for the sea if I'm away from it for too long. My flat is a bit of a fixer-upper, though, and we (myself, with lots of help from my parents) have lots of projects to do to get it looking at its best.

We had a busy few weeks after I first moved in, cleaning everything, buying loads of important stuff like lightbulbs and a fridge and a new loo seat, and making a start on the decorating and DIY. Click here to see what we got up to!

February continued to be pretty DIY-focused and slightly chaotic. I was living out of boxes, with everything piled up in a corner of my bedroom next to two single beds (one for me, one for whichever of my parents was visiting that week), while we worked on the living room and spare bedroom.

Every time my parents came to visit, they brought me a few more boxes of my stuff (which was mostly still in storage at their house) or a bit of furniture. Moving in gradually like this meant I didn't have to spend money on a moving van, but also meant we had plenty of space to work on the messy DIY without worrying about where to put everything.


Juggling my creative business and my home renovation project was tricky at times and led to some interesting photo set-ups! (If you're curious, you can see the photos I was taking here and here).


This is one of the ways I was really lucky to have my parents helping me out - I'd put in some hours working towards a deadline, then join them in whatever bit of DIY we were working on that day. Together we moved everything forwards much, much quicker than I would have done on my own even if I had the skills to work solo on this stuff (which I do not). 

February was all about the walls.

The walls in the spare room were like the surface of the moon, lumps and craters everywhere, which took a lot of hours of filling and sanding to get looking smooth (god bless my dad and all the dust-covered hours he put in with the sander).

The spare room went from looking like this (on the left is how it looked when I moved in, on the right how it looked mid-filling)...

... to this. New light shade, freshly painted white walls, and new new wall vent (the new vent we'd fitted in January turning out not to be sturdy enough for the strong winds we get here on the coast!). Still lots to get done, but "finished" enough to serve as an actual bedroom for my first official houseguest!


We also filled and sanded bits of the living room walls, and my dad did a bit of replastering.

Was it fun discovering patches of the wall that needed replastering? It was not. Did it give me anxiety looking at this corner of my living room when it looked like that? It absolutely did.

It was a great relief getting everything patched up neatly!!


After I'd photographed those rather fabulous paint layers, of course.

As well as sanding, filling, replastering and painting assorted walls, we started prepping the window frames in the lounge (more filling and sanding)...

 ... and (after much online browsing and umming and ahhhing about prices and features) I bought some new appliances: a vacuum cleaner (I'd been borrowing my parents' hoover before then), and a washing machine. I was so excited about the washing machine I took a photo of the ceremonial first wash, haha.


As you can see, we patched up the underside of the kitchen counter a bit before installing the washing machine. The cabinets in my kitchen are not in great condition and are so musty that I'm not actually using them. I have a couple of shelving units standing in a corner instead, and the rest of my kitchen stuff packed up in crates.

It's not ideal, but - just like camping dormitory style surrounded by boxes, and doing photoshoots on a dustsheet amidst DIY chaos - it's only temporary and will be totally worth it in the long run!

More flat updates coming soon...

Friday, 16 March 2018

Special Offer: Crafty Bargains!

Psst - bargain alert! Everything left in my destash & decluttering sale is now half the listed price until the end of March 2018.

The offer excludes postage costs, but (as always) you'll only pay exactly what it costs me to send your package.

There's handmade goodness...

... craft books...

... craft supplies...

... and a few other lovely bits and bobs I no longer have room for:

Click here to see everything available!

P.S. If you don't have an Instagram account, you can message me via my contact form and I'll get back to you asap. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Kew Gardens in March: Signs of Spring

During my year's membership of Kew Gardens I sometimes struggled to find the time to take proper days off and go visit the gardens, but when I did it was so worth it.

In January I explored the rock garden and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, then took a walk round the gardens enjoying the bare trees and occasional bits of winter colour. I was busy with deadlines in February, so by the time March rolled round I couldn't wait to go back!

After the rather grey weather in January it was wonderful to have a day of blue skies and sunshine. The first signs of spring were showing themselves - daffodils by the Temple of Aeolus (the ruler of the winds)...

... and carpets of crocuses, gleaming in the spring light. 

What a difference a bit of blue sky makes! The gardens were still looking rather bare, but the buildings gleamed and the branches of the trees looked quite gorgeous against a backdrop of blue.


I revisited some of the areas of the gardens that I'd been to before, like the lake (there's something so calming about a stroll round a lake, isn't there?)...

... and explored some new ones, including the Great Pagoda, the Japanese Landscape and the Marianne North Gallery (so fabulous!).

After my walk (and a cuppa and a piece of cake - v. important) I headed indoors to enjoy the Orchids Festival... which I'll be blogging about next week. Spoiler: there were a LOT of orchids!

Want more Kew pics? Click here to see all the posts in the series so far.