Thursday, 5 April 2018

Emma Bridgewater Pottery Tour

I am completely dotty (pun intended) about Emma Bridgewater pottery so last year's birthday present, from Andy was an experience day at their factory in Stoke-on-Trent. For various reasons, I didn't get to use the voucher until my most recent birthday but it was definitely one of my most favourite ways to celebrate turning 26!

Emma Bridgewater Tour

I decided to spend the day on my own. Partly because Andy didn't want to come and everyone else was at work but also because I very rarely do anything by myself anymore and I thought it would make a nice change!

I took the train down which was really simple and quick from Chester and arrived at the pottery my standard 30 minutes early. I made the mistake of buying a cookies n cream latte from the train coffee shop and only then thought there would probably be a coffee shop at Emma Bridgewater. Happily, there was so I rectified my beverage mistake with a mug of tea, all served in mismatched EB crockery. Incidentally, as much as I love a teapot, I love being served an actual mug of tea instead of a dainty teacup.

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Then the tour began, there was a group of about 12 of us and we were shown around the pottery. They continue to use Victorian and Edwardian machinery for a lot of the production and the patterns are meticulously sponged on by hand, which might seem a strange choice in a world which is moving more and more towards automation but I personally love the authenticity behind the brand.

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Those famous dots are everywhere throughout the tour. From the 'No Bikes' sign to the factory equipment and check out that aga!!

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Emma Bridgewater Tour

The tour was followed by afternoon tea, where I made friends with another solo tourer. Now, as you know, I love an afternoon tea! and this was especially good. Cute sandwiches, tiny desserts and vegetable crisps all served on an assortment of EB crockery.

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Emma Bridgewater Tour

The final part of the day was painting. I picked a mug and then set to work deciding on my design. I went with a dot design and then rather than spell my name out (I just couldn't get it to look right), I used the L sponge throughout. No, not to spell "lol", as a few people have suggested. Happy with my design I added some dots to the inside and my name to the bottom of the mug, et voila! 

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Emma Bridgewater Tour

Emma Bridgewater Tour

I'm actually really proud of my little creation, although I'm not sure I'll be invited to join their apprenticeship scheme anytime soon! 

With a little bit of time until my train and to avoid the weather, I took advantage of the shops. Picking up some discounted napkins and some bargain cake plates. Seriously, as a rule, I don't pay full price for any Emma Bridgewater but these were ridiculously low prices! 

All in all, a wonderful day and I can definitely see myself visiting again. 

Details of Emma Bridgewater tours can be found on their factory tour page

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Baby Loss Reading List

I've said it before, there is a solace to be found in reading. At the start of the month, just after the procedure, I read three Dorthy Koomson books in quick succession. She's one of my favourite authors and I find her reading captivating. Admittedly, I hadn't allowed for the themes of baby loss and miscarriage that are often found in her writing.

I am a very quick reader and I love nothing more than getting lost in fiction. I am not great at reading non-fiction though. But, I have chosen some books in which I believe I will find healing and strength over the coming months. 

Baby Loss, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage

1. Saying Goodbye - Zoe Clark-Coates

We actually sell Saying Goodbye at work, hence the link above. But I'll admit when it first came in I was too scared to pick it up. We were still waiting for our next fertility appointment and I knew I wasn't in the right emotional space and it sounds ridiculous but I worried that if I read about baby loss and miscarriage that I would be entertaining negative thoughts. I know it sounds stupid but I just couldn't face it at the time. 

However, I have picked it up now. I've read Zoe's story and I plan to work through the 90-day plan, at my own pace and in my own time. In the last week or so I have spoken to Zoe every day and already consider her a firm friend, she is wise and kind, so I know her book will also be full of wisdom and comfort. 

2. Rising Strong - Brene Brown

I was given this book for my birthday last year. It has been 11 months and I haven't finished it. I don't think I've ever experienced that with a book. It's not that I don't love the work and words of Brene Brown, I actually really do. I think Rising Strong is challenging and has the power to transform. Unfortunately, I would rather read Harry Potter again than face up to the challenge. But I am determined to get into it and actually finish it, ideally before my next birthday.

3. Option B - Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

My woman crush on Sheryl Sandberg continues. A quote from the cover: "None of us can escape sadness, loss, or life's disappointments, so the best option is to find our option B". 

Well, if every there was a time for embracing and finding Option B. I think it might be now!

4. Dare to Dream - Izzy Judd

This will be my... fifth time reading it I believe. But I find so much hope in Izzy's words as well as reading her own experience with infertility and loss. Plus, a reminder to dare to dream and that amazing thing will happen can't be a bad thing, can they?

If you haven't already read it, I've previously reviewed Dare to Dare

and one fiction...

Trying - Emily Philips

"A hugely funny, searingly honest comedy about to expect when you're not expecting". I've read lots of great reviews that suggest Trying is a light-hearted approach to trying for a baby but is also very honest and at times emotional. I'm looking forward to reading.

I'm planning to review each book after I've read them and will be doing something a bit extra with Saying Goodbye, so watch this space.

What is on your reading list at the moment?

*This blog post is not affiliated with Eden or Waterstones, they are just my preference. Most books listed above are available from other booksellers*

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Keeping Busy List

Keeping Busy, ectopic pregnancy, ecctopic pregnancy survivor

I guess this is the start of the keeping busy list, to actually blog again. So here I am! 

I've shared on my personal facebook page and on Instagram that we tragically lost our baby at the start of this month, due to an ectopic pregnancy. There is a lot more I could say and a whole long story, I know people have questions too. But I'm not quite ready to share it in its entirety yet nor do I know if I ever will be.

For now, I have been signed off work until 2nd February and due to the nature of the medication I was given, we can't try again for another baby for 3 months. Right now, I can't even begin to imagine trying again but also, 3 months is a long time, especially when all I've really thought about for 15 months is having a baby. 

So I know I want to be in the best place physically, emotionally and mentally when our next hospital appointment comes around in April. Right now I am in no way pushing myself, I'm still struggling immensely with physical side effects so I'm learning a lot about taking things easy. 

But I did write a "keep busy" list, late one night when I couldn't sleep. Some of it I've already completed, some of it I may not get around to, but I thought it'd be fun to share anyway:

1. Make a wedding album
2. Change polling name
3. Close Nationwide account
4. Update name on Barclaycard account
5. Find a new savings account
6. Sign up to borrow my doggy
7. Sort pension
8. Reorganise bookcase
9. Watch Twilight
10. Harry Potter marathon
11. Read Hunger Games books
12. Declutter
13. Reupholster chair 
14. Start guide leader pack
15. Swim
16. Barre
17. Yoga
18. Walk
19. Update calendar 
20. Write a story
21. Buy a chilli plant
22. Dust bedroom
23. Bleach bathrooms
24. Plan birthday trip
25. Write letters
26. Buy Birthday cards for next 6 months
27. Visit Library
28. Visit Storyhouse cafe
29. Walk on the beach
30. Walk up Bickerton Hill
31. Make an interiors scrapbook
32. Log recipes in a folder
33. Sort magazines
34. Paint/colour by numbers
35. Jigsaw puzzle
36. Visit The Hilton's 
37. Meet up with Lauren
38. Book photoshoot
39. Go to Baltic markets
40. Go to Liverpool Cathedral
41. Book train to London
42. Find something to do on the Sunday in London
43. Girls night our
44. Plan a budget
45. Visit Gladstone Library
46. Visit Tatton Park
47. Learn Italian
48. Find a night class
49. Read Option B
50. Finish Rising Strong
51. Log books on Good Reads
52. Afternoon tea at Edgar House
53. Walk to farm cafe

In amongst that, I've just started Riverdale on Netflix and of course, I'll watch several episodes/series of One Tree Hill for the 500th time! 

Any other suggestions for my list?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Our Infertility Story: One Year On

September 14th is significant to me. Not only because it's apparently gobstopper day but because it marks exactly a year since I took my last contraceptive pill.

I look back on a journal entry I wrote on 25th September 2016 and cringe a little. "I guess that means I'm now fertile... I'm trying not to stress about how long it might take". But I remember feeling so sure that it would only take a couple of months. That I'd definitely be pregnant by my birthday in February.

I don't think anyone starts trying for a baby and thinks that in a year they won't be heavily pregnant or holding their baby. Certainly, I didn't expect that a year down the line I'd have had multiple hospital visits, all sorts of scans and blood tests and be due to start fertility drugs next week. 

What would I tell myself a year on?

I'd start by telling myself that I am stronger than I, and a few others, give myself credit for. That I can cry and rage until it feels like my heart might break and then wake up in the morning and face the day again. I've sometimes wondered if people confuse tears and feelings of despair with weakness, they are not synonymous. 

It's been a year of immense lows with crippling anxiety. There have been tears, anger and insomnia. 

But I have learnt so much. Not only about my body, but about myself. 

I'm a much healthier version of myself thanks to the lifestyle changes I've made: acupuncture, swimming, yoga, diet changes. 

I'm more assertive and confident, as a result of pushing for answers and appointments. 

My relationship with God is transformed. I've definitely felt for a while that I've been going through the emotions to knowing how to reach out to him, that it's ok to make prayer more of chatting away than sitting in deep, revered silence and hoping to hear something. 

I've met some incredible people. Including my whatsapp queens, a group of girls who are also experiencing infertility. It has been so wonderful to feel so loved, understood and known by women I count as my tribe. Their stories not only break my heart but bring me so much hope. 

Do I think 14th September 2018 will hold the same level of significance? or by then will I be holding our baby in my arms? I really hope so. But I've learnt to accept that there are no guarantees. All I can do is trust God, believe that Clomid could be a miracle drug for me, and ride each wave with my husband, family and friends by my side and counting every blessing. 

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wedding Wednesday: What's your First Dance Style?

Hello! Happy Wedding Wednesday! The gorgeous, Roxana is here with us again this week to talk about things dance styles.

It seems that the online world is brimming with tips on which song to choose and which veil to pick for your special day, but how on Earth can you find the right tunes if you cannot define the perfect dance style for you and your spouse-to-be?

The following is a list of wedding-friendly dance styles that can help you decide whether you’d prefer a more traditional slow and squishy approach, or a more unconventional choreography to start off your adventure in style.

The classics for the romantics

Think: waltz or foxtrot, as these are the two most commonly chosen styles among couples who enjoy a nice rhythm to their moves, whether flowy or with a kick. So much music is written in the spirit of these predominant beats, that you’ll have a wide variety of songs to choose from, slow, quick, mild or upbeat.
The greatest perk is that it’s easy to learn, versatile and you’ll be able to use your skills long after you end your wedding dance. They’re perfect for any occasion, and their timeless styles can be easily adapted to many modern songs.

The all-in-one combo for the hyper

Too indecisive to choose one song, or simply too excited to stick to one style? No problem! Select your top tunes, mash up their best segments into a single song, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to express all sides of your perky personas.
I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You followed by Tutti Frutti, Welcome To The Jungle, Sway, to wrap up with Billy Jean? Why not, the sky’s the limit, and you can improvise on the spot or come up with your own choreography.

The hop for the hip

The free-spirited lovers of dance will appreciate the level of expression offered by modern, hip-hop music, which can be perfect for a memorable wedding dance to kick off your party like a pro. Also, versatile in terms of rhythm, anything from super slow to dizzying tempos can be your tune of choice.
For those who haven’t had a chance to try the style before, or might need an extra nudge to loosen their inner groove, taking adult dance classes is always an option. It’s liberating, empowering, and your feet will fall in love with the beat in no time.

The flash-mob style for the whole party

If your groomsmen and bridesmaids are eager to take part in the first dance as well, you have the opportunity to take your special moment to a whole new level. Couples who love playful group choreographies can create a flash-mob first dance for their closest ones to join them!
Make sure that their outfits allow your desired moves, have someone surprise the guests with the music and who knows, maybe some of your guests will join in if the choreography is simple and catchy enough?

The swing for the flirty

You can pick up the basics of swing in pretty much the same amount of time as the waltz or the foxtrot, meaning that you’ll be comfortable on the dance floor in no time. For more ambitious couples, some of the moves from jitterbug, jive and boogie can take extra time, but will make for a fabulous spectacle.
It’s perfect for fast-paced songs and equally fidgety people, but tricky for those long wedding gowns, so it would be best to change into something more comfortable, such as a flowy dress with undershorts.

The Argentinian traditional for the fiery

A close, intimate embrace and plenty of decorative moves of tango are ideal for those who want to get lost in their wedding dance and completely forget they’re surrounded by people. From traditional accordion-laden songs, all the way to modern electro-tango, there is a whole slew of inspiring songs to consider.

Tango is for the bold and the passionate, and while the basics can be learned quickly, there are expressive moves where both the bride and the groom can turn their dance into one of seduction and beauty.  

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wedding Wednesday: Booking the Wedding Venue: How to Choose and What to Consider

Today the beautiful Olivia is joining us for Wedding Wednesday, to give her top tips on picking your wedding venue.

Once you get engaged, things have a very interesting way of quickly going from “congratulations” to “okay, when and where?” – and when this happens, you want to have your answer ready. Gone are the days when the couple could just go on and say “Oh, we still haven’t decided on the venue and all” because everyone needs to know months in advance what date they are saving for your big day. Hey, it’s the same everywhere – Sydney (where we are), the US, Europe – the wedding madness keeps spreading and we have to admit we kind of love it, no matter how stressful it may get.  
To speed up your organisation process and help you choose the space for your big day, we’ve brainstormed a list of tips that will definitely help.

Rule #1: Start logically

When you get engaged, you can’t immediately know the exact number of people that will be attending the wedding but you can ballpark. Given that these days booking a venue sometimes needs to be done about 12 or so months in advance, you want to go with a venue that can offer the space you may potentially need and a venue that’s flexible to potential changes. For instance, if you give a number of a 100 guests and it turns out 120 is the final number, you want a venue that won’t have a problem making any last-minute changes of such sort. When talking to your venue manager, ask if the situation we’ve just mentioned would be manageable and then decide accordingly.

Rule #2: Explore the offers close to home

If you plan on throwing a wedding on a budget, you should consider abandoning the extravagant version you’ve probably been designing at the back of your head and get realistic. Holding the wedding ceremony close to home doesn’t have to mean it’ll be any less spectacular than it’d be if it were held anywhere else. Don’t trust me? I’ve been going through some affordable wedding venues in Sydney just to be sure and we’ve got to say – the range of offers is spectacular, even when you are on a budget! Also, a wedding close to home will have a sentimental value to it and your guests will have it easier, too! It’s understandable that you’ll have guests coming from all over but sending them on an eight-hour car ride (or longer!) just to get to the wedding isn’t really a selfless thing to do, is it? So, make yourself a cup of coffee, set a plate of what’s left from your cake-tasting venture and start browsing through venues in your neighbourhood!

Rule #3: Find out if the venue is full service or not

If you don’t ask, you won’t know! Asking is a crucial process of organising a successful wedding, especially with such important segments like service, foods and drinks!
Once you pick your desired venue, talk to the venue manager about the services offered for the price. Most venues offer both kitchen and drinks, along with catering (waiters/waitresses). Plus, these days, venues are open to modifying their menus to agree with the couple’s tastes, so make sure you ask about that, too. Don’t be surprised if you are offered a wedding cake with the service as well, or at least a bakery that can make your cake. We understand that it might be a bit unpleasant to strip someone for questions, but this is your big day and you’ve got every right to do so!  

Rule #4: Ask if the venue comes with decorations

Leave guessing for lotteries and ask your potential venue manager anything you need to know, particulars like decorations included. Some couples love their venues relieved of any decorations so that they could do it themselves; others prefer having the option of an already decorated venue. Whichever one suits you, talk to the manager about the offers they have and ways they change the price.

These days it’s way easier to organise everything as there are a number of fabulous venue options and wedding planners available to couples that are to be joined in marriage. Choose your venue wisely and enjoy everything about your big day!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Chester: Brunch at Deva Tap

What is your favourite meal? I think I've said it before and I'll say it again, brunch has to be my favourite. An opportunity to have a nice slow start to the day but with the filling power to keep you going.

My favourite brunch? Anything with smoked salmon. I don't care how middle class that makes me sound, I loveeee Smoked Salmon. 

So when I saw that Deva Tap are now offering a race day brunch, I knew I had to get involved, horse racing or not! 
Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

 We were one of the first people there and were greeted with some surprise (it might be because in my jeans and t-shirt I was evidently not going to the races).

I ordered the "Hot Smoked" - Open toasted pretzel topped with pan roasted smoked salmon. sun-blushed tomato relish, poached eggs, black pepper hollandaise and water cress. with an Apple Juice.

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

Andy went for the "full on" - Bacon, sausage and black pudding pattie, charred tomato, sauteed mushrooms, scramble egg, toasted pretzel, hash brown bites, HP - with an orange juice. 

The service was quick and friendly, as various points we had each member of staff ask us how our meals were.

Andy commented on how creamy the scrambled eggs were and how much he enjoyed the pattie.

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

Race Day Brunch at Deva Tap

I am now obsessed with the sun-blushed tomato relish, it was absolutely amazing! I was a bit confused as to why I couldn't see or taste any smoked salmon, I assumed it was because it was mixed in with the relish. Unfortunately, it turned out this essential brunch ingredient had been forgotten and I was presented with an individual bowl of smoked salmon towards the end of my meal, at which point I was too full to really enjoy it! But I can always forgive teething issues in the first day or so - and the rest of the meal more than made up for it! 

Overall, a really tasty way to start your Saturday - whether you're off to bet on horses or going for a nap (guess which I did?)

Race Day Brunch is served at Deva Tap, Brook Street on race days from 10 - 1pm. 

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