Visiting Whitstable in Kent

There’s nothing nicer than a family day out at the seaside, and we think that one of the nicest seaside’s to visit is Whitstable in Kent.

Visiting Whitstable in Kent

Whitstable harbour was built in 1832 by the Canterbury and Whitstable railway company in order to serve the ‘Crab and Winkle’ line, the world’s first passenger railway service. The Crab and Winkle line also carried coal, and linked Canterbury and London via a steam ship from Whitstable harbour. Today the harbour fish markets are popular with locals and tourists, and a couple of restaurants (including the famous and hugely popular ‘The Crab and Winkle’) are also situated in the harbour, ready to serve up the day’s catch. In the summer months, visitors flock to the stalls and restaurants, ready to enjoy superbly fresh sea food, including the famous Whitstable oysters.


Whitstable Oysters



Whitstable



Whitstable is well-known for its culinary delights, and these extend beyond the harbour to the town, where there are plenty of restaurants, bistros and coffee shops ready to serve the visitors who flock to this seaside town in the summer months. We were spoilt for choice when we visited!

Whitstable High Street



Whitstable Shops



Whitstable Shops



When visiting Whitstable you can also pay a visit to the RNLI shop and have a peek at their lifeboat station where you can see their newest lifeboat, Atlantic 85 ‘Lewisco’, active since 25th October 2014. In close proximity is the Whitstable Yacht Club, where racing yachts are parked along the beach, and the wooden launching jetty runs down into the water.

Whitstable Beach



Thumbs up for Whitstable



Whitstable Beach



The beach at Whitstable


The pebble beach at Whitstable is divided into sections by large wooden barriers known as ‘groynes’, these give the beach a more secluded and private feel, and it’s lovely when you find a section of beach which you can have to yourself, your own private beach!

The town of Whitstable grew from the main road to Canterbury, now known as the High Street (and awash with lots of pretty shops, boutiques and galleries), and the cobbled streets and alleyways developed as local residents wanted quick access to the beaches. The multitude of very narrow alleys also served as convenient escape routes for smugglers, as Whitstable was, like most Kentish coastal towns, awash with the illegal trade in tobacco and spirits.

Famous for its thriving culinary, arts, fishing and sailing communities, Whitstable has something to inspire and delight all tastes.

If you’re planning on visiting Whitstable, please share your experiences – I’d love to hear from you!

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Flower Photography Workshop Kent

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I’m running my first flower photography workshop in Kent next month. I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to share some of what I’ve been taught and learnt about flower photography over the past couple of years!

Flower Photography Workshop Kent

I’m going to be running the workshop at Millbrook Garden Centre in Gravesend, the perfect place to talk about flowers and flower photography!


A flower photography workshop at Millbrook Garden Centre


We will focus on creating floral close-ups, identifying how to photograph different flowers, developing a flower photography style using natural light, how to get the best from cameras including camera phones, basic editing, and tips and tricks for floral photography  – with some practical opportunities to practice too!


Rose Photography


This workshop is suitable for beginners and intermediate photographers and will take place on Monday 18th July from 10am to 12 noon. The cost is £20 and this includes refreshments and a slice of cake!

I hope lots of people will be able to come along! Places are limited so you’ll need to book online via the Millbrook website!


Muff and Teacake Flower Photography


I popped along to Millbrook the other evening to chat to people about the workshop and attend The Millbrook Rose Festival! There were some gorgeous displays of roses and lots of opportunities to ‘ask the experts’ about roses!


Rose Festival


The annual Millbrook Rose Festival being held from Thursday June 16th until Thursday June 30th in all three of their centres in Kent and Sussex.

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Wolfish Stew: A Review

Little Grey rabbit has to be constantly on his guard as he skips through the woods, and must always keep a look out for the bushy tail, knees, snout and feet, that belong to Blue. Blue is a sneaky and hungry wolf who enjoys making WOLFISH STEW!

Wolfish Stew: A Review

When Grey is distracted (‘Oooo Berries!’) the reader automatically fears the worst, but behind his super cute and fluffy exterior Grey is just as ruthless as Blue, and (without wanting to spoil the ending…) the wolfish stew served up on the last page has an unexpected ingredient!


A review of Wolfish Stew


The pacy text of Wolfish Stew is well matched by the illustrations which are full of witty details and this funny, original story will have younger readers giggling with surprise and delight. Who doesn’t enjoy a story with a twist at the end!

The author, Suzi Moore was brought up in Manchester but now lives in Somerset with her husband. She is well-tuned in to what children like to read, having worked as both a nanny and a teaching assistant. Wolfish Stew is her second book for Bloomsbury, the first being Two Little Bears.

Thank you Bloomsbury for sending me such a lovely picture book to review!

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Toucan Boxes: A Review

Toucan Box is a subscription craft box for kids aged 3-8, crammed full of activities, books and crafts to entertain your little ones. We ordered the Petite Box for our daughter as a free trial as she loves craft activities!

Toucan Boxes: A Review

Petite Box : £4.98 Inc Delivery – Delivered Fortnightly

The Petite box contains all the materials you need for 1 themed activity, so it’s suitable for 1 child. It is crammed with stickers, pens and instruction booklets. There is also an incentive to collect the sets of stickers and exchange full sets for bonus gifts.


Toucan Boxes - Online craft subscription boxes for children.


This is a fortnightly box, so every two weeks you will be sent a different themed box and charged. There is no contract and you are able to cancel at anytime.

We actually loved this box and thought it was good value for money! My daughter had the Royal Crown Box and was able to make and decorate a crown and some card finger puppets. Having the Toucan box delivered with my daughter’s name on the box really added to her excitement. The packaging is fun and inviting and there are additional craft ideas on the box too! My daughter couldn’t wait to see what was inside.


Toucan Boxes - Craft boxes for children.


Toucan also produce a Grande Box (£12.90 Inc Delivery – Delivered Monthly) which contains all the materials for 2 themed activities, plus a good quality story book and a parents activity pack with extra ideas. The theme of the box is changed each month.

The Super Box (£19.90 Inc Delivery – Delivered Monthly) has all the materials for 4 themed activities, plus a good quality story book and an extra parents activity pack with extra ideas. This like the Grande Box, it is a monthly box, with the theme changed each month. You can also add an “Extra Sibling” option for an extra £9.95


Toucan Boxes - Subscription craft boxes for children.


Toucan Box also produce themed bundle boxes which contain a range of activities to keep children creatively busy.

I haven’t decide whether to commit to a fortnightly subscription (although my daughter insists I do!), but will definitely be looking to get some boxes for both my children for the school summer holidays! They would be ideal to take away too as, very cleverly, everything is included in the box for the activity and no extra craft materials are needed!

Have you subscribed to Toucan Box, I’d love to hear from you!

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The Peony Shop

I think that the more I enjoy and develop my photography skills, the more I want to photograph flowers! The more I photograph flowers, the more I want to do photography! These two passions of mine seem to go hand in hand as time goes on!

With flowers and photography being such a winning combination, I couldn’t resist a visit to The Peony Shop by Bloom & Wild at Topshop in London.


Bloom & Wild The Peony Shop



Bloom & Wild The Peony Shop in London


The Peony Shop

As a huge fan of Bloom & Wild I knew it would be something special and I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the gorgeous peonies which were on display! There were buckets of them, different shades of pink, and all ready to unfurl their tightly packed petals in a splendid display of sumptuous beauty! Peony flowers don’t last long, but my goodness they produce gorgeous flowers!


Peonies from Bloom and Wild



Bloom & Wild Peony Display London



Bloom & Wild Peony Shop London June 2016


I’m tempted to treat myself to a peony plant for our cutting flower garden, I’ve just got to decide which one to buy, and at the moment the choice is almost impossible to make!


Hanging peony bauble


I absolutely adored the curtain of hanging baubles which were the perfect shape and size for a peony, and provided such a striking display! The peony blooms in buckets were provided so  that customers could make a pick and mix bouquet. With 6 varieties of peonies to choose from there was plenty opportunity to make a truly unique and beautiful small, medium or large bouquet.

My daughter even had a bespoke peony crown made for her at The Peony Shop which you can see on my Instagram feed!


Bloom & Wild Peony Workshop - June 2016-5



Bloom & Wild Peony Workshop - June 2016-8



Peonies are absolutely there at the top of my list of favourite flowers and it was lovely to see them on display here.

Do you have a favourite flower? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

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5 Ways To Use An Interior Designer

A short while ago I wrote about my decision to use an interior designer to help with our master bedroom update. We’re not the sort of family who would ever have considered this, and yet we’ve had our consultation and are now on the way to planning a whole new look for our master bedroom!

Interior designers generally have a selection of packages to choose from and the options can sometimes be very reasonably priced – so here are a few ideas to help you decide whether hiring one is right for you, and how you can expect to benefit if you do! The golden rule is to decide what you want help with and make this your focus.

5 Ways To Use An Interior Designer

1. Room Layout

A fresh pair of eyes is always welcome, and if you have a room with multiple doors, alcoves or an oddly shaped room, then an interior designer can discuss these options with you, make a floor plan if necessary and help you achieve the best possible layout.

Our master bedroom has a slightly unusual, almost ‘L-Shaped’ floor space, complete with 3 alcoves! We were confident with the bedroom layout (and it was lovely to be told we had our layout right!), but we were struggling with creating a separate office area and it was here we needed the help! Simple tips like moving our desk, creating shelving in an alcove and re-hanging a door the other way around made such a difference!

2. Furniture

We are intending to replace our bedroom furniture, and wanted some advice on this. An interior designer can offer support on how to use existing pieces or how to start anew. For us the advice was simple, replace and have less furniture but slightly bigger in size. We’re now looking at a larger wardrobe and chest of drawers which will still fit in the designated spaces but offer us so much more storage! Why didn’t we think of this!

3. Mood Boards

This was probably the area I struggled with most! With so many styles and colour schemes to choose from I had no idea where to start. Our designer looked around our house, asked lots of relevant questions and discussed our tastes and then came up with two options. We liked them both but realised as we looked at her mood boards that whilst she had kept to our brief we were ready to challenge ourselves.


Yellow and silver grey bedroom design with white accessories.


Designing our Master Bedroom

 

We have rejected the neutrals and calming greens in favour of white, yellow and silver grey – a choice we’d never have made without her mood boards! We have since gone back to her (at her own suggestion!) with our colour ideas and wait to see the result!

4. Contractors

If you need carpenters, electricians and decorators then ask your designer, he or she will be able to recommend some and liaise with them to ensure you get the service and look you require!

5. Suppliers

As part of the mood boards, we’ve been given access to home décor ranges from a whole host of different online, high street and bespoke suppliers. Some we thought might be out of our budget but aren’t, and some we’ve never heard of but have now happily ‘discovered’!

To sum up, there is much to be gained from expert opinion – a fresh pair of eyes, a fresh approach and a host of design experience can do wonders to clarify your preferences and firmly set you on the path to achieving your perfect home, whatever your budget!

Have you started an interior design project? If so, I’d love to hear from you and see if you agree with my 5 ways to use an interior designer!

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Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton: A Review

When Bloomsbury Books sent me a copy of Introducing Teddy, complete with a multicoloured bow tie, I was immediately intrigued! The key to this delightfully written and illustrated picture book lies with the attached advice which stated that the best way to wear a bow tie is however you like!

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton: A Review

Errol and his teddy, Thomas, are best friends who do everything together. Whether it’s riding a bike, playing in the tree house, having a tea party or all of the above, every day holds something fun to do together…


A story about friendship...


A story about friendship…

 

One sunny day, Errol finds that Thomas the Teddy is sad, and Errol can’t figure out why. Then Thomas the Teddy finally tells Errol what Teddy has been afraid to say: ‘In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. I wish my name was Tilly.’ And Errol says, ‘I don’t care if you’re a girl teddy or a boy teddy! What matters is that you are my friend.’


introducing-teddy-by-jessica-walton-a-review


Friendship

 

Error reacts with kindness, acceptance and warmth – all he wants is for his beloved bear to be happy! This truly is a sweet and gentle story essentially about being true to yourself and being a good friend!


introducing-teddy


Being true to yourself…

 

Yes, Introducing Teddy is about a transgender bear, but it is written in such a way that it can be used to simply tell a story about friendship and being true to yourself, or it can provide a gentle way to enter into a discussion with younger children about gender identity.

I look forward to reading more from Jessica Walton!

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This Perfect Moment May 2016

Since I launched the #thisperfectmoment hashtag I’ve been busy looking at some of the beautiful images appearing on my Instagram feed! Thank you to all those of you who’ve started to join in!

This Perfect Moment May 2016

It’s lovely to see the variety of images and I’ve found it really difficult to choose my favourites! To make my selection easier I decided to keep with a theme, so the two favourite images I’ve chosen this month reflect the gorgeous purple and mauve colours of May, from beautiful larkspur to the magnificent wisteria which has been appearing all over Instagram! I’m all in favour of a bit of Instagram wisteria hysteria!


this-perfect-moment-may


Beautiful Larkspur

 

Wisteria is a remarkably important flower in Chinese art and Feng Shui and has distinct symbolism in Buddhism. Wisteria is a symbol of humility and reflection in Shin Buddhism. The Jodo Shinshu sect uses two intertwined, upside-down wisteria flowers as its crest.


this-perfect-moment-may


Cascades of Wisteria

 

Thank you @oandystudio and @bognorpete for using the #thisperfectmoment hashtag – they are simply beautiful images!

I look forward to seeing what June brings and the perfect moments we’ll all be sharing! I’ll be back next month with some more favourites! In the meantime do keep sharing and tagging your photos!

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Summer Kitchen Style: A Touch of Teal

The arrival of late spring and early summer always seems to herald a renewed determination to give our house a spring clean and freshen up the rooms with some new accessories! We’ve now begun our project to redecorate our master bedroom and I will shortly be sharing an update with you following a recent visit from our interior designer. It was an inspiring visit and whilst we wait to begin this project (we’re using a decorator for ‘phase one’ and are currently having to wait for him to start) I’ve been wondering what we can do to freshen up our kitchen too!

We have a modern shaker style kitchen with pale wooden doors and sleek steel handles, and I’m thinking of updating it with some new coloured accessories.

Summer Kitchen Style: A Touch of Teal

I am especially tempted by teal since I saw the new Teal Range Cooker from Everhot. It’s an amazing colour and the chrome handles give it a really contemporary feel. This is definitely a real statement piece and one of these cookers which will happily sit on my wish list! It’s retro and yet very contemporary, and wouldn’t be out of place on the stylish set of The Great British Bake Off!


summer-kitchen-style


Super stylish!

 

Everhot’s handbuilt cookers are the most energy efficient heat storage ranges on the market, and they use less than half the energy of an equivalent comparable range cooker. Everhot cookers gently warm a kitchen using electricity, so they’re quick to switch on or off, easy to install and well suited to running off solar or other forms of renewable energy.


summer-kitchen-style


Retro Chic!

 

I can’t see us being able to get one of these for a while, but I’m consoling myself with contemplating purchasing a few teal accessories to go some way to achieving the look! I love this teal range from Le Creuset, it’s beautiful and would be very long lasting!


summer-kitchen-style


Beautiful Le Creuset!

 

I also love this beautiful decorative bowl from Ziggi Ziggi, it would look stunning as it catches the light on a kitchen work surface or kitchen windowsill!


summer-kitchen-style


Beautiful glass bowl…

 

The thing to remember with coloured accessories is ‘less is more’. There is no doubt that this cooker would be the statement piece in any kitchen. I would be tempted to keep the units and tiles a very neutral yet complimentary cream, and just add a few accessories to compliment the teal. Regard the teal as your accent colour and aim to have three additional pieces in different parts of the kitchen which are also teal, any more and the colour palette could become too confusing to the eye. The aim of an accent colour is to look intentional and draw the eye around the room. Don’t forget an accent color isn’t limited to small accessories, it can also be used on upholstery, painted furniture, and art.

Have you made plans to update your kitchen or use accent colours? I’d love to hear about your summer kitchen style!

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NB – This is not a paid for or sponsored post, and all opinions are my own.

In Car Entertainment for Children

As a family we do our fair share of travelling. We have family in South Wales and our children are used to long car journeys of anything between 3 and 5 hours duration. In all fairness both children have got so used to the longer journeys that they they’re great travellers and make very little fuss when we leave home and embark on a new journey.

This year we will be undertaking a very long journey as we travel from Kent to South West France. We have already been planning our journey and looking at suitable places we can stop at, without having to make our journey too much longer than it already is! The children are excited, we are excited and yet there is still the realisation that this will be a very long journey for them, their longest to date!

In Car Entertainment for Children

I have been planning what we can pack and take on the journey to keep them occupied, and thought I’d share a few idea with you as to what we’ve found useful in the past… The criteria is fairly straightforward for all our holiday packing, nothing too messy or too bulky!

Both my children love to write, doodle and draw, so a couple of note books as well as colouring books are a must! I also love these crayons which come in one long stick, I found them recently in a party shop and wish I’d made a note of the name – something along the lines of ‘poppit’ crayons possibly?! They save space and can be put into the side pocket of the car door without any trouble!


in-car-entertainment-for-children


Plenty of options to keep busy!

 

A comic often gets included as they have stories, activities and drawing included, so that adds to the variety too! Collectors Cards (whatever is the current favourite!) or Tops Trumps are always winners, especially if it’s a new set! An information book which can be dipped into time and time again always works well too! Snacks are a must, it’s surprising how a snack and a drink can break up the journey and ease restlessness! Nothing too sticky or messy though, dry snacks and sweets are so much easier!


In car entertainment for children


Amazon Fire Tablet


Amazon Fire Tablet


Plenty of options!

 

Finally, the new Amazon Fire Tablet has to be a must this summer! I think it will appear with every traveller and in every rucksack imaginable! It has a super 7″ IPS display, and we loved the new colours – especially the bright orange Tangerine one – no arguing in the car about whether it was for my son or daughter!


in-car-childrens-entertainment


Tangerine!

 

It has thousands of apps, games and in-app items which are actually free, and Prime members (I wouldn’t be without my Amazon Prime account!) can stream thousands of Prime video titles, access over 800,000 book titles, thousands of audiobooks and over a million songs. There is also free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices.

The tablets cost £49.99 but you can now pay £10 extra to double the internal storage from 8GB to 16GB. Now if that doesn’t help our journey along then I don’t know what will!

What would you pack for your in car entertainment for children during a long journey, I’d love to hear from you!

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NB – This is not a paid for or sponsored post, and all opinions on the Amazon Fire Tablet are my own.

Clearer Thinking – Filofax Tablet Cases

One of the very first gifts my husband bought me was a Filofax diary. I still have, and cherish, the deep chocolate brown cover and the well thumbed pages which contained every detail of my day-to-day existence when we first met – appointments, contact telephone numbers, addresses and important notes for the days and weeks ahead, all stored with great care and precision!

I am still very much a ‘list person’ and could not imagine ever being without a printed diary and notebook, there is simply something so satisfying about writing things down and ticking them off on my numerous and never-ending ‘to-do’ lists! Equally, I now cannot imagine life without my iPad, which also goes everywhere with me and has become a constant point of reference for my ‘online life’.

Clearer Thinking – Filofax Tablet Cases

When I was kindly sent a Filofax Tablet Case I was, quite simply, thrilled! Here was everything I needed and wanted in one super stylish, fashionable and functional case!


Filofax Tablet Cases


Filofax Tablet Cases

 

I am now the proud owner of a Finsbury zip iPad 2/3/4 Tablet Case, and I couldn’t be happier. The case has the filofax quality I’ve come to expect, with beautiful hand finished leather cover and a handy pen holder.

Filofax are masters of their craft and their organisers always make me feel super efficient from the moment I hold them! The craftsmanship of my new case makes me want to do it justice, and so (for a little while at least) I know I will rush less and take my time neatly filling in everything on the pristine diary and notebook pages.


Filofax Tablet Case


Stylish and Practical

 

I also love the 360 degree rotatable iPad 2/3/4 holder, which folds open to enable multiple viewing positions – perfect for when i’m catching up on blog posts and keeping up to date with social media. As a busy working mum, photographer and blogger this really has everything I wanted, and makes both my digital life and paper organisation so much easier. I am also in love with the beautiful raspberry colour!

My goal for 2016 was to simplify my life, focus on my priorities and become more organised! I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way to achieve this than with a gorgeous Filofax Tablet Cases!

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This Perfect Moment

I recently wrote a post on using hashtags on Instagram, and it got me thinking about the wonderful Instagram community which I’m a member of! There have recently been some updates and algorithm changes to Instagram, and these have understandably brought anxiety to those who love this social media platform as much as I do! I really hope that they won’t spoil Instagram and take away from our enjoyment of this wonderful social media platform – I’m remaining optimistic!

This Perfect Moment

Instagram’s clean new look is a winner for me, I love it and the newly designed icons look so much more contemporary. I’m still not sure about the forthcoming changes to our Instagram feeds (and more importantly how these are displayed), and so want to make sure we all find ways to continue to see and interact with each others feeds…


A new Instagram hashtag from Muff and Teacake


A hashtag for Instagram

 

Today I’m launching my own Muff and Teacake hashtag – #thisperfectmoment and hope lots of my followers will use it with me. It would be lovely to see lots of #thisperfectmoment hashtags popping up all over Instagram, and I can quickly search the feed using this hashtag during the week.

I’ve chosen it as it suits my own feed, and so many of the feeds I love to follow! Whether it’s a beautiful flower, a landscape, a special moment with family and friends, or a project you’re working on, I hope you will use and share your #thisperfectmoment hastags!

As it takes off I hope to share with you some of my favourite images and feature the Instagram account of my favourite image each month on my blog here! I’m hoping there will be lots to choose from and I’ll be spoilt for choice!

What will you submit for this perfect moment? I can’t wait to see!

Happy Monday and happy Instagram tagging!

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