English Heritage Day Trip

Back in the autumn, I waxed lyrical about my English Heritage membership and all the historic sites across the country you can visit… Well, in the newsletter they email out, I learned Wrest Park¬†(Bedfordshire) was hosting the largest St. George’s Day festival in the country! For a nominal fee (on top of the membership fee), we could go and enjoy all sorts of activities over the weekend! Even better – if tickets were pre-purchased online, you could save an additional 10% – excellent.

So, what did we do? There were a tonne of “living history” re-enactments – everything from Vikings and Romans who lived in England long ago, to Medieval/Renaissance knights and folk, Crusaders, and 18th-century lords and ladies! Plenty of food choices (though an equal amount of people brought picnics as the weather turned nice), activities for kids of all ages, falconry demonstrations, the ability to enjoy the amazing grounds and gardens, and the house was open as well!

My dad really enjoyed it – he’s still talking about it! For Americans, since there’s no “national holiday” like we’re used to with 4th of July celebrations, this was a fun substitute. I even got a little St. George’s Cross flag for that patriotic vibe!

Overhearing a worker when I was having lunch, I learned Wrest Park was expecting 9,000 – 10,000 visitors over the 2-day event! Easily comparable to many of the Civil War or Revolutionary War re-enactment events you’ll find on the east coast of the US.

There are over 300 English Heritage sites to visit across the country – a membership can easily pay for itself in about 4-6 visits.

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Artist (not really)

So, remember how I went to Emma Bridgewater a few weeks ago with my mom and did the design your own mug? Well, 2 weeks later, guess what arrived at my door?

I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon ūüôā Nonetheless, I think my dad is secretly jealous he didn’t get a mug of his own.

Would we take the drive up to Stoke-on-Trent again and do another day at Emma Bridgewater? Absolutely!

Busy Week!

So, remember back in late February/early March where I decided on taking my mom to Emma Bridgewater for that themed Mother’s Day gift? Well, we did that and a few days earlier – that absolutely gorgeous 24c Sunday in London – we went and took a cookie decorating class at Biscuiteers in Notting Hill!

First, Biscuiteers… It had been several years since I’d been over to Notting Hill. Honestly, I don’t get to that part of town that often. Kensington, yes, but not that little smidge bit further. If you do go up to the shop, it’s easier to take Ladbroke Grove tube rather than Notting Hill Gate. We did the Faberge-egg themed chocolate cookies! The staff were really great in instructing us too and I picked up lots of techniques to use at Christmas.

The cost of the class included all supplies, a Biscuiteers apron to keep, and a themed tin to take your cookies home in! The price is a bit high, but I had a 2 for 1 offer I redeemed from January.

And on to Emma Bridgewater! We went the day before Good Friday, so lots of M1 and A50 traffic. Lots. Most accidents were the opposite direction we were headed, but it did make for a long drive home. Tour started at 11:30 and we learned about how they make the pottery – and impressively, how so much is sourced “locally” throughout England, how it is recycled and reused when possible, and the sheer amount of local people employed by the company who started as apprentices for a number of years. My mom loved it and we came home with several pieces.

And more pictures… We were not allowed to take pictures in the design studio itself as there were a number of new designs and commissioned pieces being worked on. The decorate your own pottery was fun – a 1/2 pint mug was included in our visit, but we could’ve “upgraded” to a number of other pieces if we wanted. It’s harder than you’d think – a steady hand certainly helps.

Preparing for Spring (and Mom)

It supposedly felt like spring today in parts of the country. Rumour had it there was bright sunshine in London. Trapped out in the shire, it was slightly overcast here, felt a bit damp, and was breezy. Maybe it would rain? The temperature would have easily reached the ever elusive 15c without the breeze. Needless to say, there are things in the shire springing about – which gives the dogs plenty to smell on their walks. There definitely were crocus – yellow crocus – attempting to peek out!

But now that February is basically gone, March is here and Mother’s Day is right around the corner (word to the wise, in the US, it’s in May and generally always fell right around my mom’s birthday, which often led to us forgetting one day or the other). Weirdly, I’ll type or write “mom” but when addressing her say “ma” – I think it’s a New York thing. English friends say “mum” and Irish friends say “mam.” Dialects…

So, I’m opting for a theme. Emma Bridgewater. Not the taste of everyone for sure, but my mom will love it because it’s pottery and crafts, and definitely English! Waitrose offers an exclusive pitcher with flowers for ¬£68 delivered. Done. They also have a wide range of other flowers and plants at varying prices – and I’ve used them before to send flowers down to Cornwall which arrived on time and just as I selected.

Continuing the Emma Bridgewater theme, I decided to book a day and take my mom/mum/mam up for a factory tour. But even better – they offer a full “factory experience” day where you not only get a tour¬†but have a nice tea and lunch, decorate some pottery¬†and receive a discount on any pottery purchased that day! ¬£30 per person isn’t bad at all considering a mug normally costs ¬£20 and lunch is around ¬£10 at a pub or anywhere out so… easy peasy! Bear in mind, I only live a short 2.5hr drive away, so depending on where you live in the country, your drive could be a bit longer and may involve a hotel stay, but if you planned with your mom/mum/mam or family, or group of friends, it may be a great day out! We’ve never been up to Stoke-on-Trent where all the pottery factories were located so this should be fun, right?

**All the photos in the above collage were taken from Emma Bridgewater’s Instagram page and the copyrights respectfully belong to them!**

 

This post was not sponsored in any way by Waitrose or Emma Bridgewater, but simply¬†products I like and event I will be participating in. That being said, I’ll post pictures and updates for you to see after the fact!

This Weekend

So, a few weeks ago, I waxed lyrical about my new membership to the V&A museum. Woot! I decided to add my dad to my membership for a small fee so he can go to the museum whenever he wants too since he’s retired. We had a very productive, and educational, one-hour tour of museum highlights for the “members only.”

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This weekend, I am going to a free workshop on sugar sculpture as part of the Collecting Europe exhibit/event:

“Renaissance sugar sculpture and 3D printing are combined in this one-off workshop. You‚Äôll learn about the history of sugar sculpture with food historian and artist Tasha Marks, have a chance to make your own 17th-century sugar paste, and cast a sugar centerpiece using one of the 3D printed moulds from Alabaster Ruins. Alongside this taste of history, My Mini Factory will showcase some of their 3D print technology, culminating in a guided tour of the museum where you‚Äôll visit the works that were transformed into AVM Curiosities’ installation, Alabaster Ruins.”

You know how much I like anything free! Stay tuned next week and I’ll let you know how it went!

Gym Resolutions

Blah. New Year resolution to work out more? Nope. Lose x amount of weight? Sorta. Best way to achieve this laudable goal? New gym gear (or kit as they’d say here in the UK)! Spending a small fortune on a gym membership, package of classes, and of course clothing, is the easiest way to achieve this, right?

Well, for me it’s all well and good except I MUST put down the remote and remove myself from the Netflix, Prime, Hulu, and iPlayer for that to occur. (*laughs uncontrollably*) Since it’s supposed to snow/flurry/freeze this weekend, what better way to celebrate such a resolution than to order a bunch of workout stuff!

Affordable? The American staple of every workout gym girl and pseudo-yoga girl is Lululemon. Personally, I think it is overrated and overpriced for most items. Cultish for sure, so it ticks that box – now just go grab your Starbucks and oversized sunglasses and you should be set! Same with Sweaty Betty in the UK but I shouldn’t poke fun at either company. Both make really nice workout/gym gear for the yoga, pilates, spinning class set except it’s super pricey. Like $100/¬£100 for a top or pants/trousers.Too much for the majority of us who won’t make it to the gym past February.¬†Lululemon even worked hard to resolve the rampant problem they had with “see through” pants¬†and other quality issues about three years ago. So do we need expensive gear to leisurely walk around the park with the dog or go to the coffee shop?

Nope! As a devotee of how I can get the best value РI found Aldi and Lidl both had a great selection of gym gear at affordable prices. I made several purchases from Aldi online last week (saving me from getting up at the crack of whenever to drive to my local store when they open at 8am). A selection from Aldi:

Now, some of the items I ordered have since sold out online so it may be wise to check your local store and see if anything is left in stock. I was able to get a Zumba DVD and a fitness peanut/ball too! Everything came to less than £50 and the packaging from Aldi was perfect.

The options from Lidl were equally as good. I simply chose Aldi because I wanted to try their online order process and at this time, Lidl doesn’t offer online shopping for their weekly special buys. Once the week has passed too, you can’t view the Lidl options online either, but if you want to jump start your fitness with healthy eating, they have these options from tomorrow the 12th of January:

Having worn my new gym gear out to walk the dog and do a bit of fitness DVD at home, I can certainly say it’s nice for the amount I paid. If I become a 5-7 day a week, marathon running, intense workout type person I would certainly think I’d need to upgrade to more performance, wicking type gear for sure but for starting out – this is all perfect clothing!

In full disclosure, I’ve purchased small appliances from Aldi (food processor and kettle, both exceptional quality) and from Lidl, small baking items for the holidays (wish I’d purchased more) and more home goods. I’ve been very happy with all my purchases from both places. If your local Aldi or Lidl is out of stock, don’t fret, items like this generally come back in stock every few months though the designs, colours, or exact items may change slightly but many items have a tendency to sell out quickly so if you sign up to their respective email/online/social media notifications, you can stay up to date and maybe plan purchases accordingly.

 

 

This post is not sponsored by Aldi or Lidl in any way. All pictures are copyright/trademarked by both companies respectively.

V&A Follow Up

So, I¬†did get to see Opus Angelicum this weekend. It was amazing. I am absolutely amazed people were able to create such things by hand in crap candle light. No pictures were allowed in the exhibit, but with my phone¬†and ridiculously low lighting, they would’ve just been a dark shadowy mess.

Today, the haute couture fashion houses today are the only ones who use such techniques on a regular basis. And after seeing all the embroidered copes in the exhibit, if you go upstairs to the 4th floor, there is an embroidered cope from the 1800s in the British rooms which looks so basic and pedestrian compared to those in the 1400s!

Here are a few pictures to tide you over from the Cast Courts (all the plaster casts made in the 1800s of other famous works of art) and the British rooms upstairs. There is some video on my Instagram stories of the Cast Courts too (@cindipatter).

The other exhibit I saw since I got in free (woot!) was¬†Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear. Surprisingly, it was more popular than the embroidery, but what do I know? I wouldn’t have necessarily gone to see this if I didn’t have a membership, but it was interesting nonetheless. Also, corsets look painful despite making your clothes look amazing.

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Corset, cotton, whalebone, about 1890. (From the signage in the exhibit, this gave the wearer a 47cm waist!) Photo courtesy and (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The other (tiny) perk of being a museum member – free coat check! I was totally prepared to pay (it was only ¬£1 per item) but hey, save ¬£2 and didn’t have to carry around my heavy coat and shopping¬†bag while there! About half way through my time there, I realised how cold it was in the museum and contemplated retrieving my coat anyway.

And finally, rather than having my tea and lunch in the main dining area (which has great cakes, scones, sandwiches, and hot food at reasonable prices), I had mine in the Member’s Room. The Member’s Room is tucked away in a corner of the 4th floor and almost hidden, but is a nice quiet¬†space when the museum is busy. The food choices are a bit more limited too, but still a varied selection of cakes and scones for your tea and coffee.