Penshurst Place is a beautiful and very historic building situated near Tonbridge in Kent. It is the ancestral home of the Sidney family (who still continue to live there), and was the birthplace of the great Elizabethan poet, courtier and soldier, Sir Philip Sidney.
The original medieval house is one of the most complete surviving examples of 14th-century domestic architecture in England. Part of the house and its gardens are open for public viewing between March and October. During the winter months the gardens are open on select weekends and during the school half-term in February.
Visiting Penshurst Place
Penshurst Place was built in 1341 and described as “the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England”. Visitors are able to take a tour of the 10 rooms open to the public including the impressive medieval Baron’s Hall. There are extensive gardens, grounds and parkland to explore, with lots of public footpaths, walking trails and a regional cycle route open all year.
Attractions for children include a huge Adventure Trail play area (very popular with my two children!), a woodland trail and a maize maze which is also a major attraction in the summer. Open in the school holidays and half terms, The Old Coach House hosts free children’s craft activities providing hours of fun for parents and children to make and create together. There is also a toy museum, where you can browse a collection of toys from Yootha Rose, stage designer, artist and royal toymaker, as well as toys from generations of the Sidney family.
The Porcupine Pantry is located next to the main Visitor Entrance and Gift Shop, serving light refreshments, it is open daily all year and free to visit. Set within the Gardens of Penshurst Place and close to the House entrance, the Garden Restaurant also offers a selection of quality home-cooked style hot and cold lunch menus during their seasonal opening hours.
If you are planning on visiting Penshurst Place in Kent, please visit their website to check opening times and for a comprehensive guide on accessibility and admission prices.
It really is a lovely place to visit during the summer holidays!
‘I’m so famishing I’m vanishing!’
The famishing vanishing mahoosive mammoth is a hairy beast who simply can’t think of anything but his tummy. So how, then, can his friend Bug distract him?
The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth: A review
The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth is a bright, bold, and completely hilarious rhyming picture book about one hairy mammoth with a ridiculously large appetite (he’s hungry all day!), and one loyal friend with a series of clever plans to help the mammoth. Essentially Bug tries different ploys to distract the mammoth, with very limited success – until he comes up with one final idea!
The author, Hollie Hughes, is clearly a talented new picture book author. Having three children of her own, she is undoubtedly tuned in to the reading habits and tastes of younger children. The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth is Hollie’s debut picture book with Bloomsbury Publishers, and I’m sure there’ll be lots more to look forward to! Hollie currently lives in Essex with her family.
With oodles of rhyming fun and laughter, this is the perfect picture book for all fans of similar texts written by Julia Donaldson, Neal Layton, Alex T. Smith and Lauren Child.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me a copy of this lovely post!
I really enjoy the wonderful Instagram community which I’m a member of! A couple of months ago I launched my own Muff and Teacake hashtag #thisperfectmoment and it was lovely to see some of my Instagram friends and followers starting to use it with me. It will be great to see even more #thisperfectmoment hashtags popping up all over Instagram in July too!
This hashtag suits my own feed, and so many of the feeds I love to follow too! 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 hostages with the Instagram community!
As the hashtag takes off I will continue to share with you some of my favourite images on Instagram and feature the Instagram account of my absolute 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!
This Perfect Moment June 2016
For June I opted for an image by Lilian Mackenzie which was both incredibly elegant, seasonal and simple – I loved it and it made me smile! Lilian had treated herself, and during what turned out to be tense and intense month for so many people, it was lovely to see someone who had something to smile about – we all need that!
Lilian is a sylist and photographer telling stories of elegance and grace. She is a lover of muted palettes, organic textures and romantic details, and you can find her on instagram as @lingyeungb
I loved This perfect Moment June 2016, what will you submit for this perfect moment in July? I can’t wait to see!
Happy Instagram tagging!
I’ve been having a sort out and a declutter over the past couple of months, and have had the opportunity to go through lots of my children’s old clothes and toys! Many of them have a special sentimental value, and whilst Marie Kondo might not approve, I’m keeping them all as treasured childhood keepsakes!
My children’s baby clothes are carefully packed away but I did find some of my daughters toddler tops and dresses, and decided that I could use them to create something special. I have known for some time that I wanted to replace the Next bunting in her bedroom, and using her toddler tops seemed the perfect solution. I couldn’t have sent my children’s baby clothes away to be chopped up, but her toddler tops seemed perfect – especially as I’d kept the ones made from the prettiest of fabrics.
I had a seamstress, Tamsin from The Patchwork Angel, recommended to me (I am absolutely terrible with a needle and thread!) and contacted her about my idea. She was so encouraging about the whole project that shortly after I sent a parcel of pretty tops and dresses to her, carefully posted by Recorded Delivery!
In no time at all I went to pick up my order and I now have some beautiful and totally meaningful memory bunting for my daughter’s bedroom. It makes me smile whenever I see it and I couldn’t be more pleased!
Thank you Tamsin for such beautiful work and for providing me with something to treasure for ever!
Bewl Water is well known to those of us living in Kent, as it is the largest stretch of open water in South East England. The 800 acre site is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of the High Weald and is open all year round.
It is situated near the picturesque town of Lamberhurst close to beautiful Scotney Castle, and is within an hours drive of Tunbridge Wells, Hastings, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Ashford, Eastbourne and Sevenoaks via the adjacent A21.
Bewl Water for Families
We were invited to spend a family day at Bewl Water, and were interested to see how it had changed since changing ownership at the beginning of the year. Phil, one of the Managers, was our host for part of the day and it was lovely to see his enthusiasm for such a stunning location with so much to offer families.
Bewl Water is already well known for offering a fantastic range of leisure and recreational activities, including fishing, cycling and boating on and around the reservoir with a centre, conference venue, restaurant and café on the shoreline.
Our children loved the lakeside walks (we completed a mini walk as there was so much to see and do!) and visiting the adventure playgrounds, one of which has an absolutely enormous slide – surely the longest slide in Kent!
We were lucky enough to have a great ride on the water taxi, and this was possibly the highlight of the day for our children! A trip out on the pedalloes next time might change their mind though!
Our children are especially excited that this summer visitors to Bewl Water Country Park will also be able to enjoy a relaxing cruise on the water aboard a 70 seater vessel, to be named Bewl Belle. There are two new jetties too, so you will be able to be picked up and dropped off at whichever point you want.
We had lunch at the newly refurbished Waterfront Cafe, and were impressed by the quality of the food, friendly service and stunning lakeside views. We’re also considering a return visit (possibly without the children!) for a meal at the gorgeous Boat House Bistro – the freshly caught trout appeals!
There is also a new land train (always a winner with our son!) and a Kids Academy for learning basic driving skills. Bikes for adults and children are available to hire along with trailers and child seats, and free helmets. You can also learn to be a better biker with one-to-one Learn To Ride lessons, Mountain Bike Spin classes, Led Leisure Rides and Maintenance Courses for children and adults.
There is no doubt that Bewl Water is definitely on the map for us as a family, and with parking at £2 for a day it’s also amazing value for money for visitors of all ages!
Thank you Phil for a great day out and for introducing us to the infinite possibilities we have to enjoy Bewl Water in the coming weeks and months – we’ll be back and probably spend quite a lot of our summer there too!
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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…
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.’
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!
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!