Treasurer’s House, York

Hey guys!

Happy March! Just when I thought spring was fast approaching, more snow came. However, that did not stop me exploring this weekend in York.

I absolutely love York; it’s such a beautiful place. The shops are quirky and there is something interesting around every corner. (Not forgetting the Harry Potter shop which I did of course visit!)

I braved the snow and the biting cold to visit Treasurer’s House. I didn’t even know it was there. From the outside, it looks like quite a humble home. I didn’t quite realise what massive surprise lay behind these doors.

Purchased in 1897 by Frank Green, this property became a lavish show home, filled with antiques, art and furniture that he loved.

The house was so impressive that Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (the Prince and Princess of Wales at this point) requested to come and visit and stay. That’s saying something!

The rooms are incredible and eclectic. The size is quite overwhelming. Each room showing a different period of time; a different idea and perspective. My favourite was the rather amazing Blue Drawing Room.

The Tapestry Room was also just awe inspiring. I loved learning about how some tapestries were found behind the walls by pure chance. I find it incredible that tapestries can survive hundreds of years. It’s amazing.

This may sound strange but whilst I was there, I felt completely hidden. Despite being in the centre of York, surrounded by the Minster and many many people, I felt like I was just at peace really. I loved it.

If you’d like more information, look here. It’s definitely worth a visit. There’s a cute little cafe there too and a ghost tour!

I’ve also had chance to finish reading this months Read The Year Book too, so stay tuned for that post!

Sending you all my warm thoughts!

Big love xx



Filed under Days Out, National Trust, Photography, Places

Professor Stephen Hawking

Hey Everyone!

I hope you’re doing well and enjoying March. Spring is certainly on its way.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the news about the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking. I wanted to take the time to reflect on the incredible work he has done in his lifetime.

I find it so hard to comprehend his intelligence and what he discovered. His knowledge and findings have shaped our world today. I can appreciate so much what he has done, despite Science not being my calling.

We’ve lost a treasure but we will always have his teachings and his famous speeches. I’ve attached my favourite quote below. We all could do with remembering this at times.

Despite finding the universe quite incomprehensible, we all have people in our lives that feel like our universe. I know for a fact I certainly do. His children quoted their father today. Personally, I love this quote even more. The value of family is so important.

‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’

Thanks for all the lessons Professor, science and life. We are at a loss without you.

Big love all xx


Filed under Professor Stephen Hawking

The Toy Makers – Robert Dinsdale

Hi Everyone!

Happy 1st March and World Book Day! Today I wanted to share with you a book I’ve just finished reading. I have to say, I absolutely loved it. I cannot emphasise that enough. It was just so magical, so gripping, so enchanting. It’s become one of my favourite books ever. Therefore, I absolutely had to share this with you. A bonus: the cover is absolutely beautiful too.

What’s it all about?

Set in the early 1900s in London, this book is told mainly through the eyes of 15 year old Cathy Wray. It centres around a magical Emporium, owned by Papa Jack, which opens at the first frost and closes on the appearance of snowdrops. The toys are magical and awe inspiring. It’s a place where children’s dreams are fulfilled.

‘Come, go in after him. You would not be the first. Children are already tugging on their parents’ hands; a pair of young lovers hurry to make secrets of their gifts to one another; an old man unwinds his scarf as he hobbled in, if only to feel like a boy again.’

However, Cathy has a problem. She’s 15, pregnant and her parents are none too pleased. They arrange for her baby to be given away once it’s born. Until then, Cathy is kept in hiding at home. Her sister, Lizzy, brings her a newspaper as something to read and entertain herself with. Little did she know that this would be where her adventure begins.

‘Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart? So are we.’

When Cathy reaches the Emporium, she meets Papa Jack. It becomes clear he has a different name, a past life much more tragic than his life now. Papa Jack set up his extraordinary toyshop after arriving from Eastern Europe and Tsarist Russia. He is the father of two young boys he had not seen for many years. Originally a carpenter, Papa Jack crafts exquisite toys out of a variety of materials, such as pine cones and twigs.

‘The most terrible things can happen to a man, but he’ll never lose himself if he remembers he was once a child.’

His two sons, Kaspar and Emil, are also incredible toymakers. Each are thoughtful regarding the sibling rivalry about who will inherit the Emporium in the future. Each make amazing and magical toys; soldiers who battle, night lights with changeable scenes, toy boxes which deal with space, paper trees and my favourite in the Emporium, a complete Wendy House.

‘When you are young, what you want from toys is to feel grown up… Yet, when you are grown, that changes: now, what you want out of toys is to feel young again. You want to be back there, in a place that did not harm or hurt you in a pocket of time built out of memory and love.’

Both Emil and Kaspar take a keen interest in Cathy. When the end of the season arrives and Cathy has to leave, a decision is made for her to live in the Wendy house on the shop floor. Each realise that she’s getting bigger! Both brothers visit her as well as the patchwork dog (desperately wanting one of these now!) Cathy has her baby, a girl named Martha. Time to come clean. Papa Jack allows her to stay at the Emporium. He shows her, using the crank of a toy, the story of Jekabs Godman, his role in a war and how he survived. The tragic tale coming to life.

‘I’d found a kind of… a magic, if you will. A way of reaching the soul of a man.’

The next part of the book jumps to 1914 where the threat of war is more than possible. Cathy and Kaspar are the perfect parents to little Martha. The Emporium acts as a safety blanket for most. And yet, war is fast approaching. Emil tries and fails to sign up to serve his country but Kaspar succeeds. As promised, he writes to Cathy every day. However, the narrative is too positive and Cathy is suspicious. She speaks Papa Jack who reveals a magic book in which father and son have been communicating in. The harsh reality of war is revealed. The narrative here is tear jerking, heartbreaking with every description.

‘For the boys I travel with, tomorrow will be their first taste of foreign air. They ask me about the world as if I know anything of it, when the truth is, that, to me, those years before the Emporium are a dream.’

Rather accurately, Kaspar returns from war a changed man. He’s a ghost of his former self, rarely speaking. However, it is the change in the Emporium that bothers him most. The toys have lost a little magic, the shoppers are different, the men are broken in search of a simpler time. It is Emil’s soldiers that cause the biggest reaction in him.

‘And then he was back there. Back where his fingers were grimed in scarlet and black. Back in his uniform, with pieces of his second lieutenant’s brain smeared across his face. His ears were full of the sounds, his nose was full of the smells. He screamed and screamed.’

It was from this moment that the toys needed to change. The death of Papa Jack meant that there was no number one in charge. The sibling rivalry continued. Kaspar was working on something, something different, something big. Martha knew it too. She wasn’t a little girl anymore. Yet, when her father disappeared, more was left unanswered. All that remained were Emil’s toy soldiers, changed.

‘But Papa Jack’s Emporium must endure where I cannot, and so must you my darling.’

The novel ends with an older Cathy living with Martha as a nanny for her two children; the next generation of children to be wowed by tales from the Emporium. It’s pure magic to the last page. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you. But I completely didn’t expect it!


Read it and love it. Experience your childhood again. Revel in the absolute joy of incredible toys. Worry and feel fear through the war years with the family. Feel like a child again. Dream in magic. I cannot praise or rate this book enough. I love it.

Big love all xx


Filed under Book review, Literature, Magic

Croft Castle and Parkland

Hey Everyone.

February is whizzing by and the snow drops tell me that spring is well on its way. Sometimes we all need a day of peace and tranquility to regroup and recharge. For my parents and I that was this weekend. We decided to visit Croft Castle and Parkland in Yarpole, Herefordshire.

From the outside you can see just how impressive it is. It’s quite a rarity to see a castle standing in its entirety, especially one as old as this. The castle dates back to before the Domesday Book, with the Crofts making a family home there.

Due to descendants of the Croft family, you are limited to what you can see within. However, I did really like beautiful rooms we could see. My favourite room had the most beautiful wallpaper. The gold really stood out; very grand.

One of the most fascinating items in this room was a grand clock. However, this one had eyes. I’ve never this before in my life.

For me, the parkland outside was more incredible than the castle itself. We decided to do the ancient tree walk. I was completely blown away. The suns came out (which always helps) but the trees were just amazing. The oak below is over 500 years old.

These trees create a beautiful landscape. To think they began as a small seed and now hundreds of years later they are these wondrous masterpieces. I just felt so overwhelmed.

I genuinely fell in love with the grounds here. Normally, I’m a property person. I appreciate the land but I adore the interior, the lives it represents and the time periods. Yet, I found myself more and more at peace and full of admiration for the land.

This window of family time was really quite lovely. It’s so easy sometimes for life and jobs to get in the way. It’s also really nice to have a change of pace sometimes. We live in a beautiful world. We need to treasure and nurture it for future generations.

Enjoy the rest of February, spring is nearly here!

Big love xx


Filed under Days Out, National Trust, Photography, Places, UK

RTY: The Course of Love – Alain de Botton

Hey Everyone!

Happy February. Today’s post is part two of Penguin’s Read The Year Challenge. The focus for February is: Get stuck into a story of obsessive love. Whilst researching different love stories, I stumbled across this. I’d never heard of the author before or the novel. Yet, I was intrigued by the fact that Botton’s work is regarded as ‘philosophy of everyday life.’ This clearly was going to be quite a real story; one that would evoke many emotions in me. I wasn’t wrong.


What’s it all about?

The novel follows the relationship of Rabih and Kirsten during their every day lives. The book is structured into 5 sections, each representing a stage in their relationship. Our eyes are opened to the philosophical teachings in italic, blurring emotion and rational thought. It appears to offer explanations to the behaviours displayed. As the novel starts we meet Rabih. He sees Kirsten and knows that she is the one.

“He has never felt anything remotely like this before. The sensation overwhelms him from the first. It isn’t dependent on words – which they will never exchange. It is as if he has in some way always known her, as if she holds out an answer to his very existence…”

However, this novel isn’t meant to be a fairy tale. They meet, fall in love and then real life begins. As a reader, we are with them every step of the way. Real life defines and shapes their relationship. Part one: Romanticism. This first stage of the novel shows their dates and the proposal of marriage. This initial stage of the relationship brings great excitement and wonder.

“He asks her to marry him because it feels like an extremely dangerous thing to do: if the marriage should fail, it would ruin both their lives.”

The second stage of the novel is Ever After. It is here where we would be likely to assume the end. We are all used to that cliche ‘and they all lived happily ever after’. But what happens after that? Well, we see an argument about glasses in IKEA, the proper way of how to tell a story and the matter of punctuality. Little strifes from every day life. Rabih and Kirsten have them all which means we all do.

“We should add that it is a privilege to be the recipient of a sulk: it means the other person respects and trusts us enough to think we should understand their unspoken hurt.”

Along with squabbles, the novel explores the unpredictability of the world of work and the impact this has on relationships. Rabih experiences stresses at work with pay freezes and job changes. Also, anniversary trips abroad don’t go quite right with a misplaced phone. Each draw to the same conclusion: placing blame at one another and criticism. It is what they learn that matters.

“He isn’t angry with her; he is panicked and battered by events. To be a better husband, he recognizes, he will have to learn to place a little less of the wrong, destructive sort of hope in the woman who loves him.”

Children comes next and this in itself brings massive changes to the relationship between Rabih and Kirsten. The time they have together is diminishing, priorities change and the focus becomes the child/ren (Esther and William in the case of Rabih and Kirsten.) They teach their children to be kind, always. Yet, this too causes conflict. How far is too far?

“The relationship nevertheless makes Kirsten worry a little for her daughter’s future. She wonders how other men will be able to measure up to such standards of tenderness and focused attention…”

The next part was a slightly uncomfortable part: adultery. It’s not the cheating that bothers me so much, it’s the fact that Rabih never tells her. To me this feels like a betrayal. I appreciate that he wanted to keep the peace, to not cause massive upset, which he knew it would. He appreciated the sense of closeness and needing to be wanted. Personally, I wasn’t completely convinced by this section. Possibly too much theory and not enough reality?

“Marriage: a deeply peculiar and ultimately unkind thing to inflict on anyone one claims to care for.”

The final part of the novel was Beyond Romanticism. It is here we see ‘real life’ as it were. With the help of a therapist, they’ve learnt the lessons of previous mistakes and can see the errors of their ways. The relationship seems healthier and more realistic. 16 years into their relationship they seem ready for marriage. This may seem like a bizarre concept but it is my interpretation that it is part of the learning process.

“We are ready for marriage when we accept that in a number of significant areas our partner will be wiser, more reasonable and more mature than we are. We should want to learn from them.”



This book is well written and filled with real life experiences that we can all relate to at some point or another. Whether it is my age or the fact that I’m not married or have children, there’s some parts that just feel like theory.

Penguin’s theme was obsessive love and I do believe this is shown. We obsess about being the best possible partner, we want the same in return. We love deeply and passionately. Every single one of us makes mistakes and causes hurt without meaning to.

I’m pleased I’ve read this book. I’ve never really read anything like this before so it was an eye opener. I know that one day the teachings will help me in any relationships I’m in. Basically, love really is an amazing, terrifying thing.

Big love all. Xx


Filed under Book review, Books, Read The Year Challenge, Reading

Harry Potter Studio Tour!

Hello Everyone!

Wow. January soon came and went. We are now into February which feels like quite a shock really. Anyway, I hope you’re all doing well.

Today’s post is rather exciting. After two years of waiting, this weekend I finally managed to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. There aren’t enough words for how amazing this was. I was completely awestruck. I grabbed myself a Harry Potter passport and I was off on a magical adventure.

Without ruining any of the surprises, I just want to share with you some of my favourite bits (which could be difficult because I love every second.)

Firstly, The Great Hall. That was amazing. The magical ceiling, the carved animals, the character costumes. It’s really a sight to behold.

Next, Dumbledore’s office. That was just as mysterious and eclectic as it seemed in the films. It’s really quite small which makes it even more fascinating.

The Weasley Burrow was also really amazing to see up close. I walked around quite silently really. It was so overwhelming to see the magic right before my own very eyes.

Platform 9 and 3/4 is very special. I remember being desperate as a little girl, wishing for my letter so I could go and experience everything my favourite characters were experiencing. Seeing it 20 years after the first book was published, it still filled me with absolute wonder. The little girl in me was screaming. Dreams can come true.

Seeing Privet Drive really surprised me. It’s so small! Now, in reality, it’s obvious that it should be. I was still quite taken aback though. I’ve no idea how the cast all fit with the cameras too.

Next was Diagon Alley. Wow. Just wow. The shops, the cobbles. I could feel all the energy oozing from the floor. It’s incredible. To stand where those amazing actors have stood is just something else. My favourite was the Weasley shop; full of life and colour.

Lastly, and most amazingly was the castle. The home of Hogwarts for so many years. It took 8 weeks for the team to make it and you could see how the characters were placed within. It’s another world, literally.

A dream come true. A childhoods desires explored. Magic coming alive and being real. There’s not enough words for how incredible this place is. Every turn is a surprise, every moment is a joy. I am so so glad I’ve seen it. It’s a must for any fan. It’s a way of keeping the magic alive. Once it’s in you, it stays forever. I never want to lose the feeling I have whenever I read the books or visit a place linked. It’s so special. Get your ticket. Unleash your inner wizard!

Big love xx


Filed under Days Out, Harry Potter, London

Hull Has A Banksy!

Hey Loves!

I hope you’re all well and have had a restful weekend. This week brought some quite astounding news to my attention. You may have heard that Hull has its very own Banksy mural. I can’t believe it!! I have been away this weekend so had to patiently wait until this evening to see it.

It didn’t disappoint. I was absolutely blown away by it. It’s so unexpected, so unique. I’m honoured to have seen it. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. It felt like a time stopping moment. The more I looked, the more I saw; the more it meant.

As well as the art, I love the mystery that surrounds Banksy. I think that’s quite special. I’m happy to not know who he is. I like that veil to his character. That way, the art speaks for itself.

To some this may just be more graffiti. However, it’s brought many people out to see it. Who knew a disused bridge could be so popular?! I hope it’s preserved and cherished forever. Yet, the barriers haven’t been a welcomed asset.

Another unique element brought to the City of Culture, and I’ve seen it! I can’t quite believe it. Head down there and see it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s quite a feeling to have something so amazing on your doorstep.

It appears that whilst I was writing this, the mural has been destroyed.Absolutely devastated. Thank goodness I, and so many others, got to see it before this happened.

Update!! It appears that work has been done to rescue it. Thank goodness!! It’s just so amazing. We need to preserve it forever. We are lucky Banksy chose Hull after all.

Big love xx


Filed under Banksy, City of Culture, Photography