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#BEDM – Gadgets

I’m not much of a gadget person. If something is going to come into my house, it needs to have a practical purpose or it can just jog on. (Our house is small and space is at a premium, so unless it benefits my day to day life on a regular basis, it’s got not place crossing the threshold.) That being said, there are a few gadgets that are worth mentioning.

smoothie

First up is the Magimix blender. Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s just a blender. But it is brilliant. We had a blender that I’d inherited from a friend who no longer needed it. It sat at the back of a kitchen cupboard until I started the Feeling Fabulous course and my smoothie addiction was born. The old blender wasn’t watertight and every now and then would spray the wall with green smoothie mix. Not ideal. So we decided to splash out on a new blender as smoothies were going to be a daily occurrence in our house. We headed to the John Lewis site and picked the blender with the best reviews and wasn’t akin to a mortgage deposit. We opted for the Magimix Le Blender and it is A-mazing! I was so impressed with all the different options it has, much more than our old one. I love it and we do indeed use it daily. Money well spent. I got a little over excited a made a little video of me making a smoothie in it. Don’t feel like you have to watch it!

My new favourite gadget is something that has lots and lots of potential. It’s the new Cricut Explore that arrived last week. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities, but I had so much fun playing around with it over the weekend. Every thing has been thought of, from getting the machine out of the box, to carrying it around (it comes with its own bag), storage, to ease of use. You basically: Plug it in > Switch it on > Go! Seriously. I hate it when making stuff is fiddly and time consuming. Just let me get my craft on, damn it! This is why I don’t sew very often. Is there anything more frustrating than unpacking your sewing machine, fabric all ready to go, cotton threaded through only to find your bobbin thread is just about to run out?! ARGH! Too faffy. This is not like that. It’s way easier. It took just a few minutes to set up, find a design I wanted to make and get cutting. Perfect!

cricut

cricut explore I didn’t have long to play with it on Monday but I did pick a ready made design from the Design Room. I wanted to make something that I could put up on my wall and chose arrow art.

arrows poster

What do you think? (Apologies for the shoddy iPhone photos! It was getting late and I was losing the light) It took less than thirty minutes from start to finish. Not bad at all! And that’s just the beginning!

My final gadget is my iPhone. It’s the first thing I pick up in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. Not only is it amazing design, but it is an amazing invention. Sure, you can use it for phone calls, you know, if you want to be old school about it. But for me, the thing that impresses me most is what it does to connect us beyond that. For example, my sister can post a picture of her tea cup from Canada and in an instant, I can see it on my phone through Instagram. Even though she’s on the other side of the world, I still feel connected to her. Things like that blow my mind!

Now, if someone could just great glasses lenses that don’t need cleaning every five seconds, I’d be mega impressed! How about you? What’s your number one gadget?

Disclaimer: I received the Cricut Explore to review. All opinions are my own.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Pinsley Woods, Long Hanborough, Witney

The weather this bank holiday Sunday has been lovely here in Oxfordshire and we wanted to head out and make the most of it. During the week, hicksleigh posted a gorgeous picture of bluebells over on Instagram. It was a picture of Pinsley Woods and I knew straight away that it would be perfect for a Sunday morning dog walk. I wasn’t wrong! (You’re going to have to bear with me here – I got a little picture happy and took loads! Don’t worry, I’ve not posted them all below. To see the others, check out my flickr page.) Bluebells We parked in the layby just in front of the cemetery as you head out of Church Hanborough towards Long Hanborough and took the path along the allotments. You can see the woods straight ahead and it’s a circular walk around the edge of the woods. It was a little boggy in places, thanks to the rain last weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. You definitely need to wear walking boots or wellies though. While the walk is pretty flat, there are a few ridges to walk along and tree roots to step over. Woods The woods are enchanting, with paths leading off all over the place. There are fallen trees and little holes for burrows, which make it completely adorable. Poppy loved it. There were so many smells for her to follow that she didn’t know which way to go first! Poppy in the woods At one point, there was something in the middle of the bluebells that really got her attention and she kept walking on her hind legs to get a better view! We also passed fields full of sheep, lambs and gloriously yellow oilseed rape. Poppy and the bluebells Bluebell Bluebell woods trees After a while, we came across a clearing and the remnants of a paved path. We took a little detour and let Poppy off the lead for a little while. She was really well behaved until she noticed that I was distracted, taking *another* photo, and decided to roll around in a huge pile of fresh fox poo. She was covered! It was all over her neck, her side, her harness and she even managed to get some on the inside of her ears! So very gross! We washed some of it off in the woods and then again when we got back to the car. She’s had one bath and another one is on the cards as she still stinks! She loved it and thought it was the best thing ever. Poppy on the run I’ll definitely go back to Pinsley Woods, again and again. It’s such a great spot and there are a number of different walks you can do around it and through it. Next time, though, I’ll be keeping a close eye on Poppy and her tell tale signs that she’s found some poo! I don’t know how long the bluebells will be out for, but if you do get a chance to see them, they are really beautiful.

PS. This is my #BEDM post for today. The topic is sci-fi, which isn’t really my bag, so this is what I’m writing about today instead! Enjoy 🙂

The Walk: If you walk around the woods using the path that runs around the edge, it should be about a mile and take 45 minutes to an hour, but there are lots of paths crisscrossing through the woods so you can be as quick or as slow as you like.
Cost: Completely free. Just get out there and enjoy!
Car Park: We parked  in the layby in front of the cemetery just between Church Hanborough and Long Hanborough. It’s free, but it’s not very big. There are a few other laybys on the other side of the woods which you can also park in.
Refreshments: There’s no little cafe nearby but there is a pub in Church Hanborough called the Hand and Shears. We didn’t venture in, due to Poppy being covered in poo, but it looks okay. We didn’t explore Long Hanborough either, so if you know if somewhere perfect for putting your paws up, let me know!
Toilets: None.

#BEDM: My Favourite Posts

Well, hello again and happy Friday! I don’t know about you but I am so looking forward to a long weekend. I know we just had one, but I’ve been working like a crazy person this week. I’ve got a weekend of crafting planned – how about you?

So todays Blog Everyday in May post is supposed to be a round up of my favourite posts. I found this really difficult because I can only really remember the last few posts I’ve written! I had a little look through and in no particular order, here they are:

How to Completely Change Your Garden

wall

This is one of my favourite posts because it shows the huge transformation our garden has taken. Our garden is not quite finished yet, but it has taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears and swears to overhaul. Thanks to the current weather, it’s perfect for weeds, which seem to have overtaken every space possible so I guess it’s nearly time to get out there and tackle it head on. The finishing line is in sight…

Hand Knitted Hat

Hand knitted hat

I chose this post because it records quite an epic achievement for me – knitting my own hat. Not as simple as it sounds, this hat had a number of stitches that I’d never used before and had to get some help. It remains my favourite hat of all time!

Tuesday Treat – New Stationery

post it notes

My weekly Tuesday Treat series covers a range of topics, but this one sticks out in my mind for two reasons: 1. It was written this week and 2. It was written from the heart. I was completely giddy about my new stationery, so much so that I haven’t stopped using it all week and it really made me happy. The post didn’t take long to write at all, which is always a sign of a good post I think.

Friday Cake Day

Friday Cake Day Cupcake

I had to include this one. It’s my first ever post all about baking cakes for work. I had no idea that I started this blog in 2011, it feels like its been a constant companion for much longer, but it’s only been three years. I’ve learnt such a lot about blogging since then, but this post comes from a completely place… just me, writing about what I was up to, not really expecting anyone other than my Mum (Hi Mum!) to read it. What a journey!

Poppy

Poppydog

This one’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s not one post, but a category. I love writing about Poppy. She cracks me up on a daily basis, whether she’s attempting to roll in fox poo or playing with her chicken, howling as I’m putting my shoes or snorting at a passerby, she’s bloody brilliant! I feel so blessed to have her as part of our family and I love sharing her little adventures on my blog.

How about you? Do you have a favourite topic that you love reading or writing about? Are you taking part in #BEDM? If so, let me know!

Dog Walks in Berkshire ~ Welford Park

This one’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s only open for a few weeks and won’t be open again until January next year. That being said, it’s well worth a visit as it’s got lovely walks around the snowdrops, perfect for photographers, and they do great food. Dogs are required to be on leads on at all times, which is no issue for Poppy, as we wouldn’t walk her there without it. There are lots of great smells for her to enjoy and something got her attention a lot, which involved lots of air sniffing, pulling and refusal to move!

We visited Welford Park on the last weekend, so some of the snowdrops were a little weary after all the rain and wind we’d had. It was a bright, sunny day so we made the most of it and walked all the way around the snowdrops and anywhere else we could find. Welford Park is well equipped for visitors, as there’s plenty of parking in the field opposite (free) and there’s always someone checking the road so you can have safe passage across to the park.

welford parkThe River Lambourn runs through the park and is so clear. There were a few remaining signs of how high the water had been and one or two sections of the walk were closed off. But it didn’t spoil the visit. I’m just pleased that so much of it was open after all the rain.

snowdropsThere really are loads and loads of snowdrops to admire, with a few varieties on show. Some had weathered the storms better than others but there were also quite a few crocuses around to brighten up the day even more. The snowdrop section is fenced off in order to protect them, but you can still enjoy them.

welford waterI really like coming here, as it’s such a beautiful place. I wish it was open more, later on in the year, as I’d love to see it in different seasons. We’re definitely going to make it an annual visit.

spring poppyPoppy was very good all along the walk. There are a few bins around the property and the food tent, but there aren’t any along the walk so be sure you’re equipped to carry full poo bags around with you for a bit. Poppy has an uncanny ability of going when you’re furthest from a bin. She’s got skills! (I love this picture of her, even though her face is in shadow. She looks so small!)

soup at welfordThey do really good food at Welford Park, but it’s not fancy. My OH ordered a sausage bap and that’s exactly what he got. A bap (unbuttered) with a couple of sausages in. I opted for a bowl of carrot soup and it was lush. There is a food tent, where dogs are welcome, as most of the time, you need to order your food indoors. However, on the day we went, everyone was eating in the tent. We didn’t want to put Poppy through that, so we sat outside on a picnic table.

dewey poppyWe have a little pack of things we take when we go out with Poppy. We’ve learnt to include at least one towel, as she often gets really wet! Love the little bits of dew on her nose! She generally walks, led by her nose, which means her ears get soaked too because they’re so huge!

The Walk: While the walk isn’t the longest one around, if you explore the Wild Garden, the Rose Garden and the Bamboo Forest, it all adds up. Plus, it’s an incredibly beautiful place to walk, with lots of gorgeous plants and wildlife to see.
Cost: There is a small fee to pay when you arrive, but it isn’t much. (Can’t remember and the snowdrop section has been removed from their website until next year.)
Car Park: There’s an ample car park in a field opposite, which is manned during opening hours. There’s also a disabled parking section closer to the park. Parking is free.
Refreshments: There’s a lovely tea rooms, serving tea, coffee, light lunches and cakes. Well worth a visit. They also have picnic tables outside and you could easily bring a picnic blanket and a thermos if the weather was nice enough!
Toilets: There are toilets close to the Old Laundry tea rooms.