Why I’m Using Instagram Stories

I have long been a fan of Instagram, but as a person who doesn’t necessarily like change, I was somewhat sceptical about Instagram Stories. I’ve never been a fan of SnapChat – apparently the closest thing to Instagram stories online…

Why I’m Using Instagram Stories

Having said that I have been pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment to be had from viewing and uploading these stories. It can be a bit of a challenge, there is something much more spontaneous about a story. It is less ‘polished’ and pre-planned, more instant and informal! I am still trying to work out how to approach stories, and how to use them to compliment my normal Instagram feed and grow my following. However, here are a few initial thoughts…


using-instagram-stories


Instagram Stories allow users to create a ‘story’ of images and videos that is automatically deleted after 24 hours. You have the option to draw on photos and videos, and add text and filters. The basic concept is to document and share pictures and videos of your daily life (usually uneventful, hence why being deleted after 24 hours isn’t a problem) without clogging up your main Instagram feed.

To view someone else’s story, just click on their profile photo, and their story will appear, showing all the stories they’ve posted in the last 24hrs. Stories are shown in chronological order from oldest to newest. You can’t like a story, or place a comment on it but if you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct. As with SnapChat, you can tap to move forwards to the next story or swipe back to move to someone else’s story.

Instagram Stories for Small Businesses

This is a new way for users to post content on Instagram. For example, you can post about limited edition offers, products or services as your story disappears after 24 hours. Instagram stories also provides opportunities to post behind the scenes content at events, run takeovers or partnerships with influencers, communicate more informally and quickly on a 1:1 basis by running live, real time and completely up-to-date content.

It also provides a clever opportunity to ‘beat’ Instagram’s new Facebook style algorithm which upset so many users, helping your images and videos to be viewed instantly and chronologically!

I’m hoping to get to the point where I post at least one photo and one story per day! What’s your story? Are you using Instagram Stories? I’d love to hear from you!

Please do connect with me on my Instagram feed, I’m looking forward to seeing your stories!

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A Blogging Break at Lake Annecy

I think one of the difficulties as a blogger is finding the right balance between life and blogging! As bloggers we do tend to feel guilty if we’re not blogging regularly, and always wonder what impact that will have on our followers and our ability to be noticed! Having said that life is often about balance, and as a blogger I constantly try to achieve the right balance between keeping an up-to-date blog and yet ensuring my posts are genuine and have something meaningful/relevant to say. I don’t want to write somewhat bland ‘time-filling’ pieces of possibly meaningless text.

A Blogging Break at Lake Annecy

I guess what I’m really saying is that this summer I have taken a rather spontaneous blogging break and feel so much more refreshed and focused for it! It’s surprising how when you stop trying too hard and simply relax you somehow become much clearer about your priorities and ideas for developing your blog and/or business and moving on! We have a family photography business and we have found the break has refocused us with this too, new ideas and aims seem to come naturally when you don’t try too hard! We’re even offering our wedding photography collections for Lake Annecy for 2017 and 2018!

So here are a few images from our summer holiday, it was short yet sweet and spent in one of the most beautiful areas of France – Lake Annecy. I also managed to tick something off last years birthday list too! We really were blessed with everything we wanted for a family holiday, opportunities to sightsee, time to relax by the pool, glorious hot sunny days and mountain cool mornings and evenings to refresh and re-energise! Needless to say, as two keen photographers we had to choose somewhere with lots of photo opportunities, and Lake Annecy provided them in abundance!


Lake Annecy



Lake Annecy



Lake Annecy



Lake Annecy



Mountains Lake Annecy



Destination Weddings Lake Annecy



Lake Annecy Flowers



Lake Annecy



Lake Annecy



Lake Annecy


We hope to return (for work and pleasure!) to what has become one of our all-time favourite holiday destinations!

If you are planning a visit to Lake Annecy we’ll happily provide some recommendations, please do get in touch!

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The Arty Book

If you’re anything like us, the holidays are now half over and finding activities to keep children interested (especially if you’re trying to work from home!) can be a challenge!

Bloomsbury recently kindly sent me a copy of their new publication The Arty Book, and it’s certainly come to my rescue this week as we’re back from holiday and trying to catch up with a few work related things!

The Arty Book

Whether you are a doodler or a drawer, a colouring expert or a painter, you will find plenty in this visually stunning and very innovative art book to extend your children’s artistic imagination.


A fantastic and highly recommended creative book for kids!


As you open the book you get to spend time with ‘Arty’, your creative buddy, who on every page will give you a starting point for simple yet extraordinary art activities. You can add stripes and spots, lumps and bumps, tape, paint, pencil and so much more to the pages of this book, to make your own ‘Arty’ creations. The colour palette for the ‘Arty’ pages is bold black and red, which provides the perfect backdrop for children to add their own colourful designs.

We took the book out for a couple of days to keep our children busy during long car journeys, and they both loved completing some of the activities. Some pages, however, require paint and glue and collage materials – so you just have to be selective about what you choose if you are out and about!

The Arty Book is simply perfect for a rainy day, for enjoying alone or with friends and family, and will supply hours of creative adventure. The book has the added benefit of Including lots of amazing Arty stickers too!

Thank you bloomsbury for a wonderful book and for saving my sanity on a number of occasions!

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This Perfect Moment July 2016

Despite the many changes of late, I really enjoy using Instagram and being part of the wonderful Instagram community! My own Muff and Teacake hashtag  #thisperfectmoment has been going for a few months now and it is lovely to see some of my Instagram friends and followers starting to use it with me.

This hashtag was chosen because it suits my own feed, and so many of the feeds I love to follow too! Whether it’s a summer flower, a beach scene or country landscape, a special summer holiday moment with family and friends, or a project you’re working on, I hope you will use and share your summer #thisperfectmoment hashtags with me and with the Instagram community!

This Perfect Moment July 2016

For July I opted for a summery image by Andrea – I loved it, a stunning sunset and a beautiful beach – surely the ‘s’ in the sky stands for sunset, or summer, sublime…?


The chosen image for July's #thisperfectmoment hashtag competition from Muff and Teacake...


Andrea has a gorgeous feed, and you can find her on instagram as @capetowngirl12

She captures the true spirit of Instagram, posting pictures of her daily life, travel, flowers, texture, colour, sky, and her many loves and interests – basically anything that brings her joy!

I loved This perfect Moment July 2016, what will you submit for #thisperfectmoment in August? I can’t wait to see!

Happy Instagram tagging!

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Visiting Penshurst Place

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.


A guide to visiting Penshurst Place in Kent


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.


Penshurst Place for families



The orchard at Penshurst Place


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.


Penshurst Place - Things To Do



Penshurst Place for families



Penshurst Place in Kent



Kent family days out


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.


Kent Days Out



Kent Days Out with Children


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!

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The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth: A review

‘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!



Book review for Bloomsbury Children's Books



 

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!

Happy reading!

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This Perfect Moment June 2016

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 hashtags 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!


June 2016 This Perfect moment hashtag winner!


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!

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Memory Bunting

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!

Memory Bunting

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.


Memory bunting made from baby clothes.


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!

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Bewl Water for Families

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.


Reservoir Bewl Water



The reservoir Bewl Water



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 reservoir



Bewl Water reservoir



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.


Bewl Water, Kent


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!


Bewl Water adventure playground



Play area, Bewl Water



Water Taxi Bewl Water



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!


Bewl Water pedalloes


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.


New jetty Bewl Water



New jetty Bewl Water



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!


Land train Bewl Water


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.


Bewl Water



A review of Bewl Water



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!


Bewl Water visitors


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!

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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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