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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

April 29, 2016

Rainton Meadows & Joe's Pond

At the start of April, I went home the glorious North East of England to see friends and family whilst it was the Easter break from work and to celebrate my belated birthday with them. During my time at home the weather wasn't the best but on one particularly grey rainy morning, my friend Dave and I had the "fuck it" attitude and decided to go to a nature reserve to see if there was anything out and about to photograph. We are both avid novice photographers when we go for wanders (Dave more so "professional" and better than me) and hoped they would be some animals or great scenery around.

After searching the wonderful Durham Trust website to find a reserve that wasn't too far away to travel to on a Sunday (Sunday bus service man, who enjoys partaking in those timings) we sifted through what felt like thousands of choices and settled on Rainton Meadows & Joe's Pond. Both sites are strangely plonked right next to a business park and I would never dream they were there! Rainton Meadows is a 2k+ walk of site with wetland and woodland and Joe's Pond, well let me tell you it's more like a lake. Lucky for us, the longer we stayed there, the more and more the sun came out. We got covered in mud, went completely the wrong way around the maze of a reserve, but I got some pretty good snaps regardless.

Pond ReedsSwanTreeHorse at Rainton MeadowsHorseHorseHorsesBlue Eyed HorseFeeding TimeHorsesGetting to the LakeRainton Meadows PondMute SwanRainton MeadowsSwimmingDuck SunbathingDucks at the Pond SideJoe's Pond

If you happen to be in the area, the Meadows were actually lovely. There was also a small food and handmade items market on outside of the visitor centre with a range of stuff for sale - from fresh bread to cupcakes for your dog! The place was very dog friendly and the cute little café did some great paninis, pies, and sandwiches. They also have a photography club so if the reserve is somewhere you can get to regularly, that would be something to definitely look into. We didn't see everything the reserve has to offer (deer, weasels, water voles etc.) but I imagine they'll be out once the weather warms up properly. If you want to catch more of my less than perfect photography, head over to my Flickr or Instagram accounts. But for now, I'll leave you with the best image from the day. My friend captured this beauty, so make sure to check out his Instagram for some great nature photography. This has got to be my most favourite photograph of myself in a long long time.

Horsing Around

Have a wonderful day and remember to have a good chuckle like this guy was!

- A.
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April 22, 2016

Book Club No.3

Hello lovelies, I've not done a whole lot of reading over the last couple of months due to being pretty busy, but I have managed to get some done and I have to say - it's all been positive for once! So if you're wanting some reading material recommendations, stick around and see if any of these books tickle your fancy.

So this first book is one of the most recent graphic novels I've got my hands on. You might know from my previous Book Club posts that I have a major soft spot for graphic novels and comics, so my love for this one should come as no surprise. Matt bought Wytches for me for Christmas and I read this first issue within a matter of days. I had never heard of it but Matt assured me that it had rave reviews and I mean come on, Stephen King rated it so it had to be good and you know, both of them were bang on the money.

As you can guess from its title, Wytches is a horror/thriller comic which is based on yep you guessed it: Witches. Except these witches couldn't be further from the broomstick riding ones you automatically think of when you hear the word. Without ruining the plot, the story revolves around an American family who are busy relocating to another state because of their daughter and something that happened to her. Even within this first segment, there's a lot of twists and turns, the story jumps around time-wise and isn't linear, but its extremely simple to follow and definitely keeps the reader hooked and asking for more. The illustration is really great too - if you're not a fan of gore or you are easily scared, this comic genuinely might scare you (I love horror movies etc. but I scare easily and this made me feel uneasy after the first two chapters!). It's a unique take on a horror story and not your bog-standard plot. I 10/10 would recommend and can't wait to see how the story develops. You can pick up a copy, here.

Now, this has been a book on my reading wishlist for bloody yonks. Room has won several awards and has been recommended by all sorts of reading clubs and shows on TV (including Richard & Judy - ooo!). I had high hopes for this book and it never disappointed once from start to finish. My main reason for finally reading it is it was recently made into a feature-length film which I was desperate to watch after reading some reviews. But of course, I wanted to check the book out first!

Okay, so what about the story. Room is exactly what it says on its cover - it is about a room and its inhabitants. The inhabitants of Room are Ma and a young boy named Jack. You follow their day-to-day life in Room and the developing story and whilst that might not sound that interesting, the way it is written is extraordinary. The whole book is written through the eyes of Jack. Jack is only 5 so you can imagine the way the wording and sentence structure is used. At first I thought it might be difficult to follow this writing style but I can honestly say I have never understood descriptions of characters, places, and objects so vividly as I did reading this book. This is a genuine reason as to why I am worried about watching the movie interpretation because I *think* room looks such a certain way, that I don't want to spend the whole movie thinking "well, they got that wrong. That doesn't look right. Jack said *that* was *this* colour"... You get the idea! But because a book has made me feel that concerned about its film adaptation, you can safely say I must have really enjoyed it. If you somehow have missed out on this gem until now, pick up a copy here because you need to read it.

Milk and Honey
This book is something a little different to what I've featured on here before. Way back during my time at secondary school, my English GCSE sucked the life out of me and left me resenting and hating poetry but as I've gotten older, I've rekindled a love for some of it and try to keep a look-out for new *different* poets who are emerging. The author of Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur, is someone I actually came across on Tumblr. I fell in love with her honest, feminine words and verses and once I learned about Milk and Honey, I knew I needed to get a copy. To cut a long story short, I finally grabbed a copy on eBay and once it arrived on my doorstep, I had read it from cover to cover in around 40 minutes. The poems Rupi has included in the book fall into 4 different chapters - chapters which mark pinnacle moments in her life. It is a rollercoaster to read. Some poems made me feel proud to be a woman, proud to be confident of my body, my sexuality, and of my female role in society, whilst others were harrowing and almost made me cry.

I would recommend this collection of short poems to anyone - especially you ladies because I think every girl and woman can relate to the various poems and imagery to some degree. It is a book I am going to turn to when I need a comfort blanket or a bloody good cry - it will be the perfect accompaniment to every mood and that is why you need to read it. It can be hard to find online and when you do find it, it might be extremely expensive to buy, but check out Amazon and eBay and I hope you manage to snap up a copy!

- A.
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April 15, 2016

Hillier Gardens

Hello you wonderful people, today's offerings is some nature photography because I feel like we need a little bit of that injected back into this blog, don't we? I think my favourite *thing* to photograph is cemeteries/graveyards, but I would say trees, plants, rivers etc. are a firm second runner.

Back in March, Matt's parents came to visit for an afternoon and after a gorgeous hearty Sunday roast at a country pub, we went for a very chilly and windy walk around Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, Hampshire. Hilliers is a well-known name in the garden centre realm, but this is where it all stems from - the 180 acre gardens left to Hampshire County Council in 1977 by Sir Harold Hillier. The gardens are pretty beautiful; bearing in mind we went during the winter, there was still plenty to see and definitely plenty to do if you plan ahead. A restaurant, painting and drawing classes, photography sessions, gardening workshops, and guided tours, there is something for every interest. Because it was such a cold day, we didn't spend too long looking around so we missed out a lot of areas, but its certainly somewhere we will visit again - maybe when its a teeny tiny bit warmer!

In the Tall GrassHillier GardensColoured Grasses & ReedsPop of ColourHillier Gardens PondWinding PathOrangePine ConesFlowersFlowersSir Harold HillierGardensFallen PetalsHillier GardensGrass Hair, Don't CareWatering HoleSir Harold Hillier Gardens

The winter garden section was lovely to wander around - it had such beautiful brightly coloured bushes which you wouldn't expect to see in such an area. It was also surreal to see so many flowers in bloom. I think the crazy mild then terrible weather we've been switching between all winter has confused some of the plants and they've come out of hiding a little too early! Apologies if any of the images are a little blurry; it was so windy it was difficult to get steady snaps of 90% of the plants blowing in the strong winds!

I'd really recommend checking this place out if you're ever in the area or live nearby. With so many events and things to do (including activities for children so it's great for families,) you'd be able to spend a whole day there easily, weather permitting of course. Make sure to check out the Hiller Gardens website to see what's on and when.

- A.
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April 08, 2016

Beamish Museum: Part Two

A couple of weeks ago I shared the first half of this post from my day at Beamish Museum. It's a large open-air museum in the north east of England which is the most surreal but beautiful place to visit for a day if you happen to be in or near the area.

Not only is it a great history lesson, it is a lovely place to just walk around as it's situated in rolling hills and farmlands - perfect for those summer picnic kind of days. I already shared some photos I snapped whilst there, that were mostly of the 1900's farm area, so here are the photos I got of the mining village, the colliery, the 1820's house & gardens, and the high street which has been used for shows such as Downton Abbey - enjoy!

Tram RideSteam TrainChesnut Pit PonyGreenhouseCoal TrainBeamish CollieryGarden ViewHorror SilhouetteGardens with a ViewBeamishBeamish MuseumBeamish Museum CollieryCoal Colliery TrainBeamish CollieryColliery Bridge

For more photos, check out my Flickr page.

- A.
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