Spring at Wimpole Estate – Cambridgeshire

Spring at Wimpole Estate – Cambridgeshire

This blog post is a combination of two recent trips to Wimpole Estate, near Royston in Cambridgeshire. The first was in mid-April where myself, Aidan and 3 friends went there for the day for my birthday! Having arrived in overcast conditions and got sorted with tickets etc, we decided to take our picnic up to the folly on the top of the hill. This meant walking through the parkland where the herds of White Park and Longhorn cattle were grazing, making a pretty picture in the Capability Brown landscape.

Having crossed the edge of the lake, we made our way to the folly just as a rain shower passed over. Taking shelter in the small amount of ruined walls, it passed over within minutes and we were able to enjoy our picnic with commanding views over the parkland back towards the house, and also with an aerial display from a fighter jet from one of the nearby air bases.

After lunch we headed back down towards the house seeing the ominous looking black cloud following behind us. We decided now would be the best time to head to the tea rooms. Three of us made it there in time to beat the almighty hailstorm that followed but unfortunately, the two who opted to take the picnic bags back to the car weren’t so lucky and had to shelter in the car park until it passed! Much like other National Trust ones, the tea rooms were nice although busy and loud but the drinks were ok.

Our next stop was the main reason for visiting Wimpole, the farm. The working farm is still run in a fairly traditional style and has a range of rare breed animals including the White Park cattle and an array of rare breed sheep and pigs. There were also donkeys, shire horses, miniature Shetland ponies, rabbits and chickens to see.

Overall, the farm space is well organised and thought out, although there isn’t as much signage as I would have hoped, especially for saying how much they could highlight about their work to preserve rare breeds. We enjoyed watching the sheep and especially meeting the gentle giants that were the shire horses. We then had the pleasure of seeing some very teeny-tiny baby Bagot goats before heading round to the piggery.

There were quite a few sows with piglets from as young as a few days old up to a couple of months and some sows that were still expecting. As well as these pens, there were a range of pens with piglets old enough to have been weaned, separated into relevant boy and girl age groups. As feeding time approached, the noise level in the piggery rose and in the end it was just a cacophony as the staff came in and started dishing out food.

Although I understand the noise would make it difficult and the pigs needed to be fed, I felt it was a shame that there was no interaction between the staff and the public. A short, informative talk about pigs and what they eat etc, would have made the experience more worthwhile, especially in the age where people now more than ever have a huge disconnect between the land and their lives and more children than ever are clueless as to how their food goes from field to fork.

Having enjoyed our visit, we headed back to the complex that houses the shop, ticket office etc. There are in fact a range of shops here including a bookshop, a garden shop, a toy and fudge shop and the main shop and between us we picked up some new books, some fudge and my friend Becca bought both of us a gorgeous new beanie hat each. As well as the main shops, there were also some stalls selling a range of produce from the farm including a lady who was spinning the wool from the farm’s sheep and knitting them into a range of beautiful products!

Photo: Becca Smith

On our way out, we saw a banner about the upcoming lambing season and it was this that brought my friend Becca and I back again a couple of weeks later. Again, the weather wasn’t the best so we headed straight to the farm.

The lambing set up was great for the space they had and there was lots of opportunities to get close to see the ewes and their new lambs. There were a few great staff and volunteers on hand to answer questions and they were really knowledgeable about the different breeds of sheep. Again, there could have been a bit more static information about the rare breeds but overall we were really happy to see what we did.

Becca and I were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time as two Oxford Down lambs, having been born about 10 minutes before, got to their feet for the first time. All legs and lack of co-ordination, it was beautiful to see a new life finding it’s way in the big wide world, one teetering step at a time!

We rounded off this visit once again with a stop at the tea rooms and having missed the last entry to the house by 5 minutes, cut our losses with another peek in the shops before heading home. It’s really nice to have a property with the range of things to do as Wimpole close to home and I’ll definitely be going back again in the future. Hopefully this time I’ll be able to make it into the house!

I was not paid/asked by National Trust to write about them. I just had a nice day…

A Day Out in Northamptonshire

A Day Out in Northamptonshire

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Back in April, myself, Aidan and my parents decided to spend a day in Northamptonshire. It’s the next county west of where we live in Cambridgeshire and also not too far for my parents to get to from their home in Staffordshire. Although I have been through the county many times, it’s not somewhere that I’ve explored all that much. Back in 2013 I had a few days of holiday to use up from my job so I decided to take myself off camping for a few days and stayed in Northamptonshire. It was then that I first discovered Kirby Hall.

Nestled in the East Midlands, the county itself contains the county town of Northampton and the towns of Kettering, Corby, Market Harborough, Wellingborough, Rushden and Daventry. It’s rolling farmland and woodland make for pretty views as you drive through it.

We were originally planning to visit Apethorpe Palace. This relatively recent acquisition to the English Heritage remit was the childhood home of Charles I and is somewhere I’d really like to visit at some point. We didn’t check the opening times until the day before though and it turns out it’s by guided tour only in July and August. Since we were trying to visit in April, it was time to find a plan B.

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Plan B was Kirby Hall. I had actually visited here on my trip in 2013 but remembered how good it was and since it was Elizabethan, it’s time-frame was the one that my parents, Aidan and I are particularly interested in.

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We arrived bright and early for when it opened at 10am on a gloriously sunny day. The property was set against a bright blue sky and it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, as with many stately homes, the access by public transport is probably limited but don’t let that put you off, I’m sure there’s a way somehow (best place for info will be the English Heritage website).

We were able to pick up free audio guides in the entrance and these are a brilliant way to find out more about the house and it’s grounds. The guide is engaging and informative, with the option to press for further information on things that may be of interest.

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The house was built in the Elizabethan era by and up-and-coming noble family, the Staffords. There are crests and the family symbol of the loosely tied knot all over the house, carved into the stone work. The Stafford’s knot symbol is still the county symbol of Staffordshire to this day.

The house is partially ruined, so some of the house is open to the elements while the rest is still fully intact. There have even been some restorations in some rooms including the recreation of this beautiful wallpaper! (When I win the lottery I’ll be contacting the makers and commissioning some more…)

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The tour of the house and it’s incredible Elizabethan gardens takes 1-1.5 hours and covers the whole property.

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Once we had completed the tour we found a spot for a picnic in the sunshine. Just a word of warning, the property has a collection (flock?!) of peacocks and they are convinced you are going to share your lunch!

After a quick look in the small but functional English Heritage shop, we decided to head to the town of Oundle for the rest of our day.

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Oundle is quite frankly beautiful. Built with the honey coloured stone that runs on a seam through the Midlands and is most famous in the Cotswolds, this small but pretty market town is a must visit in the area.

The centre of the town is partially dominated by the private Oundle School, the third largest boarding school in England, who’s famous alumni include George Blagden (actor playing Louis XIV in Versailles and Athlestan in Vikings), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden singer), Sir Peter Scott (who started the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and co-founded the WWF) and Richard Dawkins amongst others.

We started our time in Oundle by wandering down the pretty high street in a search for drinks and maybe a cake. We glanced down a pretty side alley and saw the courtyard of Dexter’s Bar and Kitchen bathed in sunshine and decided to head down to it. Although this is more of a restaurant than the café we were intending to find, the courtyard in the sunshine won us over and we sat sipping wine and beer and asked for the dessert menu. Dad had a lemon roulade, Aidan chose the cheesecake and Mum and I both chose the ice cream, all of which were delicious.

We took a look at the main menu as well and decided it sounded wonderful and we’ll be making a trip back there at some point this summer to give it a whirl (I’ll report back, gang!).

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Hi Dad!

After finishing up at Dexter’s, we continued down the high street, exploring some of the lovely independent shops including the wonderful Oundle Bookshop (I’ve since found out this is not totally independent but the group is fairly small, I think) where I managed to pick up an excellent book for a friend’s birthday. We also headed past some of the beautiful school buildings and took some time to look around St. Peter’s church, set just back from the high street.

As the sun continued to shine we headed to The Ship Inn for a quick drink and to wait for our friends who were joining us for dinner in the evening.

Our last stop of the day was Salerno’s, the Italian restaurant on the high street. I had first gone there last Summer for a meal organised by the friends who’d come to join us and had found it a brilliant place. On both occasions the food was extremely tasty, the service was excellent and we had a great time. Italian is probably my favourite cuisine so I do like finding good Italian restaurants! I would highly recommend Salerno’s if you’re in the area.

Overall, we had a brilliant day out, Kirby Hall and Oundle were both wonderful and I can’t wait to go back to both again in the future. I’m very grateful that Oundle is nice and close to the place we now call home!

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None of the brands/companies mentioned in this blog paid/asked me to write about them. I just had a nice day and wanted to recommend.

Doing more of what you love

Doing more of what you love

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Hello again, it’s been a while (again…). I am hopefully back for a little while at least with this blog.

For those that are new here, hello, welcome! It’s nice to have you here. I say that I’m going to get back into writing repeatedly, but never do, so we’ll see how long this lasts! I’ll let you into a secret though, I have actually got a lot more posts lined up already! So that’s all very exciting.

A bit about me, I’m in my late 20s, like gin, country music, rubber ducks, knitting, NFL, history, writing, photography, day trips and being outside. I don’t like octopus, people who are overly pretentious, tea, coffee, overly enthusiastic speed bumps and middle lane drivers. I think that covers the basics.

Anyway, over the past few months I’ve been doing a bit of unintentional soul searching. I needed to make some changes and therefore some things that have been a big part of my life are now taking more of a back seat to make way for other things.

One of those things being given more time is writing. I always say I miss it, but then I always drop it straight off my list of things to do in life, therefore it’s an endless cycle. I’ve decided I need to spend more time doing what I love and therefore writing is going to be higher on my priority list (top things currently: being a brownie leader, writing, eating cake, drinking gin and trying to grow my own veg. Bottom things currently: housework…). This time I have a bit of a longer term goal too. I’d like to work on my writing with the end game of actually doing it professionally. Maybe not as my full time work, but bits and bobs every now and then. I have long term dreams of eventually being a content writer for something like BBC’s Countryfile Magazine or maybe writing for one of the County Rural Life magazines etc. Somewhere where I can combine my love of Day Trips in the UK with writing. Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, I won’t know until I try.

I have to admit it’s thanks to my wonderful husband really that I’m back writing. He has now started his own travel blog. Aidan LOVES planes and trains, so he decided he also needed to spend more time doing what he loved and therefore he too has joined the online writing world, which is his excuse for more flights and train journeys! It was because of this that I’m back; he asked me to help with setting up and writing posts for his social media etc. I realised that I’d missed it far more than I’d let myself believe and after a bit of time, I wrote my first blog post in months (it was about our holiday last year, you can read it herepart 2 is here). You can find Aidan’s blog here, it’s called Flights & Times and is a mix of content, including reviews of train and plane journeys, write ups of previous adventures, destination reports of places we’ve visited etc.

I’m really proud of him because, he will admit it too, he’s not really had a hobby (apart from re-enactment, but that’s not really something to do at home of an evening) since leaving Uni and he’s been really consumed by work. I’m proud of how much he’s got to grips with his site, created his content and how much time and effort he’s putting into it. Overall though, I’m so glad to see him finding such enjoyment in it.

Anyway, thanks to helping him out, it sparked something in me to get this back up and running and really make an effort to keep it up this time. It’s something we can do together too! We try and travel by train on days out where we can, so this will provide content for both of us and although blogging takes a lot of time and effort (often more than people realise!), we’re writing about things that truly make us happy and therefore it feels like a joy and not a job.

I’m actually writing this post wayyyyy in advance of when you’re reading it, but we’ve got a lot coming up (that’s already happened?! I don’t know…) in May that we’ll both be able to write about. We’re off to Devon and Cornwall for 10 days and have an action-packed itinerary. We’re really lucky that we’ve got 10 whole days of things we’ll love to do, and so much of it will relate to content for both of us. I genuinely cannot wait!

So what’s coming up on here? Honestly, whatever I fancy, but I think it will be mostly trips out and about, it’s what I most love to write about and I also feel like I’m writing authentically, about stuff I really love, without just writing about the mundane adventures of my day-to-day, or forcing myself to write about things I’m not really that into.

I guess we’ll just see where the future takes us…

Writing for…I’m not sure.

Writing for…I’m not sure.

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It’s been a while but I’m back writing. But this time I’m not really sure what I’m writing about. All I know is that I really miss writing.

So here goes, firstly, since my last post, I’ve got a job, yay! It’s back in the Environmental sector but using my office skills which is pretty great and it’s part time, which was a reality I needed to face. Full time work was just too much, no matter how much I try and ignore my health.

Anyway, it’s a good job with lovely people and although it’s been a bit of a baptism of fire – that’s the downside that comes from working in a small team, I like the fact I’m working with people who value me, my skills and my input into my role. It’s refreshing to be told when I’m doing things well and not just made to feel like I’m never doing things well enough. I’m still my own worst critic but that wasn’t going to change overnight.

The move to Peterborough has been hugely beneficial for both myself and Aidan. We’ve had more time for ourselves and are really enjoying making our house a home. Overall though, we’ve made a really great bunch of new friends, something we haven’t really been able to do properly for 4 years. Thanks to joining the local church and associated house group, we’ve met a big group of people around our age and at a similar time in their lives to us so it’s really, really nice to have that support network.

We’re also enjoying the opportunities to explore a new part of the world, one neither of us has really had much connection with in the past. We’ve been up to Lincoln and across to Norwich and Thetford Forest amongst other things and will hopefully do more of that over the next weeks and months. You never know, I might even write about it!

Overall though, I know I want to write more, but I’m struggling to strike the balance between writing for me and just churning out the most boring and mundane things going on in my lovely but quite frankly nothing-particularly-interesting life. I have no need to commit the mundane to the metaphorical paper, but I miss sitting here and letting the words flow.

I’m hoping that soon I will find that balance that I need and create something I’m proud of, but also something that was purely for my own benefit first and foremost, not for the benefit of trying to gain some kind of following or recognition.

Firstly though, I think I need to create the time to just sit down with my laptop and even give myself the opportunity to see if I have anything to say. I’m not committing to anything more than creating the opportunity for now.

Even writing this has helped, it’s made the fire in my belly for writing burn a little brighter and made me think about what I want from this. It’s good, overall, things are pretty good.

Finding my ‘purpose’ again

Finding my ‘purpose’ again

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This title sounds very dramatic but I couldn’t think of a softer way to say things. Once again, I’ve come back to my blog when I feel like I need it most. So much for trying to post more regularly again now, we all know it’s a lie every time I say it. An unintentional lie, I hasten to add, but this time I’m not gonna say it! Maybe this will be the first post of a regular posting spree, maybe it’s not.

Anyway, I’m back to blogging because I need to write and find the comfort I get from blogging again.

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Reset

Reset

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Hello there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?! I’m not going to apologise, I am a little sad it’s been so long but I’m back and hopefully able to dedicate a bit more time over the next weeks and months to my writing, which excites me.

What happened? Well, life happened. I did really well churning out content in March and I was so happy with all that, but to be honest I’d given up social media and funnily enough had a lot more time on my hands *hangs head in shame* and I was in a proper routine. I went away in April which threw things off kilter and then at the end of the month some big changes happened. I’m not going into details but since then I’ve been metaphorically flailing around not quite sure what to do. I’ve had some pretty big emotions going on with it all too so it’s been hard, I’m not gonna hide that.

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Loneliness: Why as adults do we never admit when we’re lonely?

Loneliness: Why as adults do we never admit when we’re lonely?

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When was the last time you heard someone say ‘I’m lonely’? You just don’t hear it do you, but from various conversations I’ve had about this over the last few years, everyone gets lonely. Humans as a species are made to live in groups, we’re not solitary creatures and it goes against our nature to live in such a manner. As with everything there’s an exception to every rule and there are some people who live completely solitary lifestyles and if that suits them, that’s fine by me. I’m not here to say they shouldn’t live like that at all, but it doesn’t mean that everyone else enjoys being alone.

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Slovenia – Day 2: Trains and boats and… walking!

Slovenia – Day 2: Trains and boats and… walking!

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Day 2 of Slovenia wasn’t blessed with good weather to start with, although first thing it didn’t look terrible. Overcast but ok, I was confident my leather jacket would be fine. It was not fine! I got really rather rained on towards the end of our morning but of course, after I bought an umbrella from one of the tourist shops, it didn’t rain again all day. Typical. Anyway, although it wasn’t the best morning weather wise, we had a great time at Slovenia’s Railway Heritage museum before a sunny afternoon walking around the city.

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Finding your Happy Place; and remembering to visit.

Finding your Happy Place; and remembering to visit.

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Everyone has a ‘happy place’, much as it’s a clichéd saying, it’s true. Everyone has somewhere that they go to, to escape, to breathe, to forget about their problems for a while, or at least have somewhere to process said problems and to enjoy some time with only themselves for company. Sometimes though, I find that life gets busy and takes over and you never visit this place anymore. Or if you do, it’s rarely and not necessarily on your own and therefore it doesn’t serve the above purpose.

If I’m being honest, whilst still keeping a sense of vagueness so my entire life isn’t plastered over the internet, this past week has not been my best one. It went downhill from last Monday onwards and with a few shocks and turns, is hopefully moving forwards again. On Monday evening though, I came home feeling utterly miserable and with no Aidan at home, I decided to go back to my happy place.

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The Underground Overground – My Husband’s Tube Challenge.

The Underground Overground – My Husband’s Tube Challenge.

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A bit of a different post type this time. I want to talk about the amazing challenge my Husband is undertaking to raise money for charity this year. Yes, I am biased but I also think it’s a pretty epic challenge and deserves for me to shout from rooftops about it because I’m really damn proud of him.

So what’s the challenge? Over the course of this year Aidan will be walking all 11 lines of the Underground in London, Overground. It’s approximately 343 miles and he’s aiming to do it within 1 year. You can see all the caveats, rules etc in the first post we put on the website we’ve put together for the challenge here.

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