Dog walks in Oxford – Iffley Meadows

While the weather on Bank Holiday Monday wasn’t exactly what we all wanted, it was lovely having the extra day off. I’d been nagging at Phil for ages to go for a lovely walk somewhere but between the weather and redecorating the bedroom, we hadn’t been anywhere for ages, with the exception of Stowe Gardens the day before. We planned to head out early, taking a breakfast of marmite sandwiches and a Thermos full of tea to eat somewhere. The main reason we went to Iffley Meadows is because of the fritillaries. There aren’t many times where flooding can be a good thing, but at Iffley Meadows, where the ground was still very wet (wellington boots were essential), the damp conditions mean the fritillaries thrive there. And thriving they were!

Snakehead fritillary at Iffley meadows Snakehead fritillary at BBOWT Iffley Meadows BBOWT Iffley Meadows Light purple snakehead fritillary White snakehead fritillary There were a few different ones but they were all lovely and I took about a million pictures. I can’t believe we haven’t been before, especially as we’ve driven right past it loads of times. The fritillaries were coming to the end of their season, but I’m so glad we went to see them. We didn’t just see the fritillaries, but we also saw what we think was a badger paw print in the mud and we heard loads of birds, including a cuckoo, reed warblers and a grass hopper warbler.

Muddy Iffley Meadows Badger print Snakehead fritillary Poppydog at Iffley Meadows Purple snakehead fritillary Poppy loved it there as there were so many different smells for her to enjoy. She was so tired when we got back home! She didn’t mind walking through muddy water as it meant she could smell lots more things.

We walked back along the Thames, as we wanted to have breakfast at Iffley Lock. It was lovely. The sun came out and we’d headed out quite early so it was still pretty quiet. Poppy wasn’t overly keen on the ducks flying about (she’s got a real thing about them at the moment) but apart from that, it was pretty idyllic. It’s well worth visiting Iffley Meadows, even when the fritillaries are out of season, as it’s a wonderful little spot. But make sure you go back when they’re in season. Just make sure you wear your wellies!

The Walk: There are some paths around the meadows from where other people have walked, just be careful not to get trapped by water, as we did!
Cost: Completely free, so why not join BBOWT to help them look after this beautiful place?!
Car Park: There’s no car park, but we parked just the other side of Donnington Bridge. Just make sure you check for areas that are permit parking only.
Refreshments: We took our own but there are lots of places to eat in East Oxford.
Toilets: Nope. Don’t forget to pack your She Wee!

TV Recommendations – May

There have been some epic TV show on over the last few weeks, some of which have restored some of my faith in the BBC programmers! (I have issues with some of their choices over which shows to keep *ahem* New Tricks *ahem* and which shows to cull *ahem* The Hour *ahem*!) Here are some of the best things I’ve seen recently.

TV Recommendations - May

[Thirteen – BBC Three || Inside Obama’s White House – BBC2 ||
Line of Duty – BBC 2 || The A Word – BBC One]

I’d seen adverts for Thirteen on the iPlayer, but as it was on BBC Three, assumed it was for young people! While that may be the main demographic for the channel, this show was really good. It was gripping, weird, disturbing and really well put together. BBC Three is now solely on iPlayer, which means there are loads of box sets on there. Thirteen is one of them, meaning you can binge watch, which is how we watched Thirteen. Good work BBC, good work.

It’s no secret that I’m pretty much in love with Barack Obama. This documentary is a fascinating, and at times, incredibly terrifying glimpse, into the world of American politics. I won’t pretend to fully understand the way British politics work, let alone American politics, but oh my word, it seems bonkers. This shows the highs and lows of Obama’s presidency, as well as the stumbling blocks along the way, most notably the Republican party. As it’s on the iPlayer, it’s only going to be playable for 30 days and I think the first episode has already vanished into the ether (why isn’t it there for longer BBC?!) but it’s bound to reappear somewhere, someday. If it does, watch it, especially in the wake of the fact that Trump might be the Republican nomination. *shudders*

I first came across Line of Duty last year, when Keeley Hawes played Lindsey Denton. I was gripped then and I’ve been gripped watching series 3. What I didn’t realise until later was that the series with Keeley Hawes was series two, meaning I had to also watch series 1 and OH MY GOD am I glad I did! It made so much more sense and made it very clear who The Caddy was. (I didn’t know until I saw it on series one but thought I knew, and I was right!) We caught up on series one on Netflix, where they also currently have series two. So I’m guessing that if you missed it on iPlayer (and the first few episodes have already disappeared), then I’m pretty sure it’ll end up on Netflix too. If you haven’t watched any of them, then boy, you are in for a treat. It’s as good as Happy Valley in my humble TV addicts opinion!

If you haven’t heard about The A Word, then you have a great series ready and waiting for you. About a little boy who receives a diagnosis for Autism, and the reaction of the family, is heartbreaking, enraging, frustrating and hilarious. The soundtrack is awesome, as music is what the little boy, Joe, goes to for comfort. Well worth watching.

I’ve also been watching the new series of The Good Wife, which as much as it pains me to say this, is not great. Obviously I’m staying up to date with Game of Thrones, hoping for something good to finally happen for the remaining Stark children. I’m looking forward to the return of Birmingham’s finest Peaky Blinders too, though am in desperate need of a box set to devour. There’s very little that I haven’t seen (!) but if you’ve got any good recommendations, then please let me know!

Bank Holiday at Stowe Gardens

After many weeks of being busy with school work and sorting out the redecorating of our bedroom, we were finally able to leave all of that behind and head out into the spring sunshine for a much needed breath of fresh air. We decided to head back to Stowe Gardens, as we really enjoyed our last visit there but wanted to see it in spring.  We packed our bag, forgetting much needed binoculars and camera, and headed off towards Stowe Gardens.

We arrived early, while there was still a chill in the air but that soon disappeared. It was fairly quiet, though busy enough for Poppy to enjoy a few rubs from other people. You could hear the sheep and their little lambs bleating away in the sunshine. They were so cute!

Sheep at Stowe GardensThe gardens were really gorgeous in the spring sunshine. Everything looked so bright and fresh, what a change from the misery of winter!

Spring at Stowe Gardens Stowe Gardens in the sun Memorial at Stowe GardensPrimroses at Stowe GardensThe gardens were packed by the time we were coming to the end of our walk. We tried to head in directions and along paths we didn’t go down last time. It was so busy that we couldn’t get into the cafe for lunch as they were queueing out the door! Next time, I think we’ll pack a picnic, as there are so many great areas to sit and watch the world go by.

We did over 10,000 steps and were thoroughly pooped by the time we got home. It’s a great place to go for walks, as you can do as much or as little as you like. I like it because while you’re looking around at the flowers, the buildings and statues and the wildlife,you don’t really notice the length of the walk. It was the perfect way to relax over the bank holiday weekend.

Fashion Revolution Day 2016

Three years ago today, Rana Plaza, a building housing clothing factories collapsed, killing over 1000 people and injuring over 2000. The clothing factories were making goods for companies such as Primark, Benetton and Monsoon and despite warnings about cracks appearing in the building, the buildings owners ignored them. Three years on, and justice still hasn’t been served for the victims or their families, with very little compensation being paid. Not only that, there have been other tragedies within the clothing industry since. People shouldn’t have to work in buildings so dangerous that they are at risk of collapse. No one should die making clothes. Companies should know exactly who is making their products and under what conditions they are working in. Saying that they simply weren’t aware of the issue is not enough. It’s 2016 for crying out loud!

Fast fashion isn't free

[Image source]

This year, Fashion Revelution is asking everyone to find out #whomademyclothes. Every company should be have a transparent supply chain. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for in this day and age. Surely, they’ve got nothing to hide and if companies like People Tree can do it, then why can’t all the others? So, this year, I’m asking Seasalt, People Tree and Oasis #Whomademyclothes. I’d like to be able to thank them for the amazing job they did on some of my favourite items.

#whomademyclothes

[who made my clothes? image courtesy of Fashion Revolution]

Every company should be transparent throughout all aspects of the supply chain. No one should be exempt from this and no one should die making clothes, working in dangerous conditions. Not now, not ever. We mustn’t stop asking companies #whomademyclothes? until each and everyone of them can answer us. Bring on the fashion revolution!