Recently my work put in place a new policy. No nail varnish to be worn unless it is a gel manicure! Imagine my horror. You know I love my nails to be done but now having to spend anything up to £25 a fortnight at a salon to get them done?! This was going to get expensive and quickly.
I began googling and saw a home gel nail kit. To be honest I didn’t have a clue about doing my own gel nails and needing UV lights etc. I googled more and more and eventually decided I’d give it a whirl. I ordered everything I needed from Amazon.
The order came to just under £80 which, if I could actually manage to do them successfully, was a good bargain compared to going to the salon. When everything arrived there were no instructions with the Basix Kit. I googled again and came across this great post on Lulu & Sweetpea.
I followed the tutorial to the letter and that is why there are no progress pictures. Melissa is very strict about not touching things like your phone until you are done completely. If anything touches your nails it means they won’t turn out correctly and I definitely didn’t want that.
The tutorial actually uses the Gelish Basix kit I had bought and so it made it a lot easier. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and I found it all went well. It didn’t turn out perfect but for my first attempt I was more than happy.
I have nothing to compare the Gelish products to but I’m more than happy with the way they applied, looked and lasted. The nails stayed on for a fortnight and had just started to chip on my two pointer fingers which is good going.
Also on Lulu & Sweetpea is a tutorial to remove your nails which I followed and again was pleased with. There are also other tutorials on how to fix a nail or how to add glitter. If you’re thinking of doing your own nails at home I’d definitely recommend the Harmony Gelish nail kit and Lulu & Sweetpea’s blog for showing you how it’s done.
So the first of the Disney X Cath Kidston collaboration has launched and already some of the items are sold out. They’ve released the Winnie the Pooh prints first. I’ll not be ordering anything as I’m holding out for the Minnie and Mickey items but here are my favourites from the range.
Balloon spot raglan dress and elasticated waist skirt
The dress is £75 and the skirt is £40. I love the cut of the dress and the cute cap sleeves but also love how if you have just the skirt you can team it with a plain top so it’s not as much print all at once.
A Day in the Hundred Acre Wood Placement Sweat £35
A cute design on a sweater that’ll be perfect for keeping warm now the days are turning chillier. This is Limited Edition so be sure to keep your eyes out for it coming back in stock.
Balloon spot mini reversible messenger bag £35
I have a couple of this style of bag from Cath Kidston and they are so perfect for when you have a lot to carry. They’re surprisingly roomy and with it being reversible, its like having two bags in one!
Bramley Sprig modal PJ set £40
I love the flowers on these and it’s a true Cath Kidston print. These are Limited Edition too so grab them while you can.
Balloon Spot Breakfast Cup & Saucer £16
Cath Kidston crockery lasts so well. I have a few cups and saucers in various London prints and they look lovely on display but wash well and are sturdy.
There are also home ware and baby items available but these 6 are my favourites. I’m so excited to see what they release next!
In our garden we frequently have foxes. I say frequently, I’m pretty convinced they live in my garden. I think there’s 2-3 and I see at least one every day.
When we moved here we saw our first Fox in April 2015. There seemed to be just one. In the winter this increased to two foxes then back to one.
In the Spring of 2016 we started seeing 2-3. I’m sure now that the 2-3 are a Mother and her 2 cubs.
The British Wildlife Centre says “The mating season is December to February …four or five cubs are born in the Spring and the female fox stays with them….They remain with their mother until Autumn” This all ties in with what we’ve been seeing in our garden.
Some people don’t like foxes and try to deter them from entering their garden but I love them. They’re such a delight to watch through the window. But aren’t they dangerous? That’s what the press would have us believe but the first fox we had was confident. If it saw us it’d simply look at us then lie back down and go back to sleep! We once had the door open in the summer and it wandered over. We quickly closed the door so we’ll never know if it’d actually come in to the house but I doubt it as sometimes when we go out in to the garden you can’t see it’s there as it’s asleep in the bushes but you’ll hear it quickly scrabble away if you venture off the patio and on to the grass.
Lots of people ask me if we feed the foxes and the truth is we don’t. We give them as much peace as we can. If they’re in the garden we leave them be. The only thing we have started doing is, when we cut the grass, we’ll leave a pile of cuttings for them to have a snooze on. They love a grass bed!
It can be tricky to get good pictures of them sometimes. The adult seems far more relaxed around people, the younger cubs though are skittish and incredibly mischievous. They’ll chase the butterflies in the garden and also pinch the squeaky toys from next doors dog meaning we have to go out and throw them back!
The pictures don’t always turn out well as I take them through the window you get reflection like the one above but this is one of the better shots of the cubs. They’re not as confident as the adults and often run when they see me with a camera.
They seem to have a routine of coming in to the garden around 5am and sleeping on and off through the day. Sometimes they’ll have a little get together and play or wash each other or disappear early but usually they’re here until 5pm when they disappear off in to the night to begin their hunting.
When we lived in the North we frequently visited Chatsworth Houses Farm Shop. They sold a wide range of produce including meat and game, poultry, fruits, vegetables, pies, breads, cakes, cheese, jams and lots more.
Recently I read a post over on Emily’s blog that she had visited a farm shop in Stockbridge, a Waitrose Farm Shop none the less! A quick Google and I realised it was less than an hour from us! We’d mentioned a couple of times that we hadn’t really discovered a farm shop and so this seemed like it might be just the ticket.
We went over on Saturday and using sat nav it was pretty easy to find. When we got there it was more than I was expecting. I’d seen on the website that there was a farm shop and café but there was a nursery/garden centre there too. We decided to head in to the shop first.
We wandered round the shop quite quickly as it was much smaller than I thought it would be. They had meats, cheese, fruits and vegetables and a deli along with jams and preserves. There was also a small alcohol section.
The shop was bright and airy and looked like it was in an old barn with large wooden beams adorning the ceilings. The café was in one side whilst the shop was in the other. We didn’t visit the café as it wasn’t long since we’d had lunch.
As we walked around it was definitely a lot smaller than the shop at Chatsworth so I was a little disappointed but my husband left happy as he bought a scotch egg made with black pudding. You can take the man out of Yorkshire…
There was also a lovely display of country kitchen style home wares. None of which would have matched my kitchen but they were all pretty none the less.
After we’d visited the shop we went to look around the garden section. We probably spent longer out there than we did in the shop as we marvelled at just how pretty our garden could be if only we knew what we were doing in it.
We spotted plenty of pretty flowers and trees and was surprised to find a tree growing kiwi fruits!
All in all it was a nice drive out there and a nice little mooch around but I was a little disappointed. Maybe my hopes were a little too high as the Chatsworth Farm Shop is amazing and bigger than Leckford was. We decided we probably won’t visit again and so the hunt for a comparable farm shop goes on.
Saturday 27th August was #IAmTeamGB day. Team GB, ITV, The National Lottery and parkrun were joining forces to create the Nation’s Biggest Sports Day and we embraced this with open arms at Lee on the Solent parkrun.
I was Run Directing on 27th August and we had a lot going on. We had balloons and bunting on the start line and finish funnel, we had t-shirts to wear and stickers to give out. People were encouraged to wear red white and blue to celebrate the achievements of Team GB which they did and they also brought flags to wave. We really got in to the spirit of things. We also had pacers to help people achieve a new PB ranging from 19-34 minutes. We were also given selfie signs for people to take pictures with and upload them to social media, tagging them #IAmTeamGB
Rob was our 19 minute pacer. Photo courtesy of @lotsparkrun on Instagram
There was a lot to fit in to the Runner’s Brief. I needed to tell people the usual rules as well as letting them know what today was all about, who the pacers were and what the signs were for as well as giving our own social media a plug so our runners knew where to find us. I tried to make it amusing to keep people listening and judging by the amount of compliments I got afterwards I think I achieved this.
The run was great and we had a whopping 364 runners in attendance. This is our 7th highest turn out since we began in July 2015. I received compliments on my briefing, people said how much they had enjoyed the run and lots of people took great selfies and group photographs with the selfie signs. It was a brilliant day all round.
Maggie, Fiona and Dee were kept busy barcode scanning. Photo courtesy of @lotsparkrun on Instagram.
I also got to meet Roger who I have chatted to on Twitter and I also follow his blog IRunOffRoad It was great to meet him and finally put a face to the name. Be sure to check out his blog if you’re local or in to running.
And finally Louise posted this selfie of us all in the finish funnel. I love this picture as it includes some of my favourite parkrun family members.
On Saturday 27th August we were all officially members of Team GB and it felt great! parkrun really is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you want to walk it or if you want to run it as fast as you can. Go and join your local parkrun and I promise you won’t regret it. Not a runner? Then why not volunteer? It’s a great way to meet people and help your community.
I’d always wanted to learn to drive but when I lived in Sheffield there was no need. I had my Husband, Mum and friends who could all drive and were there to take me places if I needed it. I also lived within walking distance of the city centre, it was only just over a mile away and then there was public transport. There were buses every 5 minutes going from where I lived in to the city centre. I just didn’t need to learn to drive, I couldn’t justify it at all.
When we moved down to the South Coast in February 2015 we suddenly didn’t live a stones throw away from great High Street shops. I live near the village centre of where we live but it only has a small handful of shops. But there’s buses right? Yes but there is only one bus every half an hour and a couple of times one of those hasn’t shown up which then drops you to one bus an hour. It takes 15 minutes to drive to work, on the bus it takes 50 minutes! It was all becoming a bit inconvenient. If I wanted to go shopping in Portsmouth or Southampton it was costing me over £10 to get there and pretty soon the decision was made. It was now time to learn to drive.
Won’t someone take my money?
I began taking note every time a driving instructor car drove past us and started noting down names, telephone numbers and websites. I must have emailed 5 driving instructors and only received one response telling me she doesn’t work weekends which was ideally when I’d have liked driving lessons. I phoned countless instructors and left so many messages but only received a couple of replies one to tell me they were too busy at the moment and were no longer taking on pupils and another to say they were on holiday and would call me when they got back….they didn’t! This suddenly seemed really difficult. It was like none of the independent driving instructors wanted to take my money.
It was actually whilst ranting about this in the car that we passed an AA driving school car. I’d not looked at them as I presumed they’d be expensive being a big chain. When we got home I looked on their website and found they were actually a similar price to the independent driving schools I’d looked at and had a good offer on that saved me £40 on 10 hours of lessons and amazingly I could start lessons the very next week. This was the week of Christmas and as I get the time off between Christmas and New Year it seemed like an ideal time to start.
I had my first lesson on 28th December 2015. I didn’t really feel nervous before that first lesson. We started right away on the roads practicing setting off and coming to a stop. It wasn’t long before I was progressing with changing gears and steering. With nearly every lesson I was learning something new. My driving instructor had diagrams to explain manoeuvres which made them easier to understand, and also funny little phrases to help remember things e.g. Less space, less pace.
I progressed nicely with my lessons and got on really well with my instructor. He allowed me to keep paying the special rate of £40 off of 10 hours of lessons. I paid £220 for 10 hours. As my lessons progressed the only thing I found difficult was parallel parking and felt I never really improved at it. I just couldn’t get the hang of it (and to be honest I still can’t!)
The First Test
I had my first test on May 25th and failed. My approach speed at junctions was too fast. Afterwards my instructor told me this must have been nerves as I never do it in my lessons. Unfortunately the wait at the test centre for tests is ludicrous and I had to wait until August to take my test again. This did however give me enough time to iron out any other things I’d been struggling with and gave me more time to practice the dreaded parallel parking. I actually had this as the manoeuvre in my first test and someone passed it!
The Second Test
In the hour before my second test we practised parallel parking again and again and again and I only correctly did it maybe twice. Every other manoeuvre I nailed but parallel parking just wasn’t for me. Heading in to my second test I was ridiculously nervous. Waiting for them to call my name I said to my instructor I actually thought I was going to be sick, but then there was my examiner calling my name and I didn’t really have time to think about it again.
Pass or Fail?
I drove really well, my manoeuvre was a turn in the road which I managed in three and that was it. There were no hiccups no nothing, although the examiner did tell me to let go of the nerves a couple of times! And when we pulled back in he uttered those magical words to tell me that I’d passed! I had a hard time believing it that’s for sure and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!
Afterwards my driving instructor told me I’d just taken my test with the head examiner and that he can be harder to impress so I was extra pleased I’d passed!
What does being able to drive mean to me?
It sounds a bit cheesy to say driving has changed my life but it really has. Before it was rare I went out on my day off from work as getting the bus/public transport was a hassle and expensive. Now I can nip out whenever I fancy keeping to my own schedule and not that dictated by public transport.
I also don’t have to rely on friends anymore. If we went out I needed a lift home, if my husband was out of the office and wasn’t going to be back in time I needed a lift home or to plan my day off so that I’m off when he has to travel but now it doesn’t matter.
I can now drive back to the North to see friends and family whenever I like.
Learning to drive is the best thing I’ve ever done.
AA Driving School
I learnt to drive in a brand new Ford Fiesta that was in good condition and well maintained. If learning to drive is something you’re thinking about I recommend the AA Driving School
I know this post is a little late. Really?! It’s the 12th September already!! Time sure is flying and I’m glad September is here. I love the Autumn. It’s my favourite season and not just because this is when Starbucks start serving their Pumpkin Spiced Latte again! However apparently this week is going to be a heat wave so maybe it’s not Autumn just yet!
So here’s my August in pictures
Top Left & Middle Left: Now that I’ve passed my driving test I gave motorway driving a go and drove to Sheffield. I felt like a tourist in my own city and took pictures of pretty buildings and architecture. In the top picture is Millennium Square that has the car park that is affectionately known as the cheese grater! The middle left is Millennium Square again facing the Winter Gardens.
Bottom Left: A new rule was introduced at work where you can no longer wear nail varnish but gel nail varnish is ok. As I like my nails to look pretty it was time to decide. Do I spend lots in the salon or buy the kit and do my own gel nails? I decided to buy the kit and did my own gel nails. The first attempt came out pretty good. I was really pleased.
Middle Bottom: My lovely car. I picked her up on 5th August. There are other posts about her on here though so I won’t go on.
Bottom Right: Just another lovely beach shot taken from parkrun. So lucky to have this view on my doorstep.
Large picture: I was Run Director on the #IAmTeamGB day. There’s a blog post coming up on Friday about the run so be sure to check it out when it goes live at 8am!
On 5th August I went and picked up my Smart ForFour that I have affectionately named Winnie. Just in case you’re wondering why, she’s named Winnie as she is black on the outside and black on the inside, just like Winnie The Witch’s house.
Anyway I hadn’t actually passed my test when we went to pick her up but I had a go at driving her home from the Smart dealer in Poole and then my Husband drove us the rest of the way.
The car was certainly worth the wait. Initially we were told we’d had the car on 23rd July but that it was likely to change to earlier, however it changed to later instead, but like I said, she was worth the wait.
We decided to go to Poole instead of Southampton as we had really good customer service there for my husband’s Mercedes. We went to Southampton but unfortunately nobody seemed interested in serving us or offering any help and the same happened again when we went to look at the Smart Cars. We were told everyone in the Smart dealership had the day off and we’d have to come back another time to look at them. We decided to go to Poole instead where we were met by Neil who took care of us from the second we walked in till the second we drove out of the showroom. He was a great help and also gave us a great price. Very happy customer! The Poole Mercedes and Smart dealership have got customer service just right! We also got to do the grand unveil which I wasn’t expecting. I know my husband got to do this with his Mercedes but to be fair the Mercedes cost a lot more than my little Smart so I was really impressed I got the same treatment!
My car is under there!
Here’s some pictures of Winnie. She’s a Smart ForFour with the Prime Premium Plus package. I’m not going to put down all the technical details and specifications here as, well I don’t understand half of it and it’s just not that type of blog but a couple of my favourite key features for me are:
Sat Nav – A necessity since we’ve only lived in the South for a year
DAB digital radio – Means I can listen to my favourite station Kisstory
Heated leather seats – A little bit of luxury and a toastie butt in winter
And a couple of pictures. Behold shiny Winnie!
And 10 days later I passed my driving test! So now I can zip along in my little Smart car whenever I like!