Well, what a week this week has been. I’ve been absolutely floored by flu I assume (7 negative Covid tests – no fear) but I can honestly say I’ve never been so poorly. It’s the first time ever that I’ve had time off school too. But, I’m coming round the other side now which is good. If you hear someone sounding like a seal, that would be me coughing haha! Anyway, onto more pressing matters and a very delayed explorations post!
Anyway, I want to share with you today the final part of my journey for honouring the late Queen. You’ll remember from a few posts ago that I was part of ‘The Queue’ (you can see that post here). There was just one final part I needed to do and that was pay my respects at St George’s Chapel which is within Windsor Castle. This is the Queen’s final resting place where she has been reunited in the royal vault with her beloved husband Prince Philip. My dad and I queued together and it was time for us to say bye together. My mum was also here for this too!
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. Originally founded by William the Conqueror, it’s been home to 40 monarchs which is incredibly impressive. The State Apartments are sublime, the contents are wonderful and I really liked seeing the different gifts received throughout the reign of Her Majesty the Queen. Photos are only allowed of the outside which I totally understand. You have to see it to believe it really. The one thing that has stayed with me from these state rooms is the colours: bold, vivid and flawless.
Naturally, there was a huge queue to be able to get this photo. It’s the closest you can get but we’ve all seen this on the television screens. It made me think back to the funeral of Prince Philip. The view of the Long Walk was one of my favourite bits but because this was inside the castle, you weren’t able to take photos.
It’s really quite hard to comprehend how lucky we are to have this amount of history around us. I’m fortunate in that my dad is just as interested as I am – it’s something that has been passed down through our family. It felt fitting and right to see the final resting place and to thank the Queen once again for all she has done.
I hope this little snippet has tempted you into visiting. The amazing thing is, your ticket can be validated for a whole year! And I can confirm, the gift shops are excellent. For more information on visiting, please click here.
I hope you’re all well. This week I’ve been really reflective because of the events in the UK. The sad passing of our dear Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th knocked us from our core. For me personally, she’s the only Queen I’ve ever known. She’s always been there everywhere we look: on passports, stamps, money and postboxes. She’s come to feel like everyone’s grandmother. So one week ago, I joined the queue to see the Queen lying in state. I knew it was going to be an experience but I didn’t expect it to be like it was…
Midnight, Saturday 17th September, Southwark Park. After obsessively watching the live tracker all day, this was where the starting point was. There was a buzz and a sense of electricity in the air with everyone having their own reasons for this journey. All I know is, I felt an overwhelming sense of needing to be there, like it was the right thing to do. The queue constantly moves which isn’t so bad and at 2:41am we had obtained the elusive wristband. The view was equally as fitting!
In my foolishness, I hadn’t realised that the park was the queue to join The Queue so the journey hadn’t actually really begun. Regardless, considering I’d done a full day at work I was feeling positive and very much like the hashtag ‘let’sdothis’. I knew it was going to be hard so I made sure I spoke to every single marshal on route. I mean, those in the queue were constantly moving but they had to stand in the same spot, all night. They were very positive and smiley too which helped.
I love Tower Bridge but I saw this bridge for 4 hours of the wait time. It was freezing cold but thankfully blankets were being given out. Later I saw a news report saying they were from the fire brigade – so thank you for that! Regardless, this was the lowest point. When the cold gets into your bones and you question why you hate yourself so much to have done this. The queue quietened and increasingly looked crestfallen and beaten. I dread to think how I looked. I’d been up since 6am so approaching the 24 hour mark was something I’ve not done in a long time. But then, 6:30am, a miracle was performed: the sun was rising and a coffee cup was spotted. I’ve never experienced a mood shift so rapidly. People went off to find hot drinks, the queue was moving again. Onwards! 6:15am.
This is my favourite photos of the whole queue experience. The best thing was that we were moving again. Feeling buoyant, the hubbub of the queue was increasing now everyone was warm and filled with coffee (hot chocolate for me) and the can do attitude from the marshals meant that everyone felt better. Of course we can queue and keep going – it’s the British way after all! The next stop: The Globe. I cannot thank the staff enough here. They’d opened the toilet facilities for those of us in the queue. I nearly cried (exhausted, emotional, grateful tears) because they had soap and hot water. I can only imagine what we all looked like, but it gave the queue another boost.
We continued walking and queuing. I saw this now as a mission I needed to complete. I hadn’t lost the overwhelming pull towards the Queen but foolishly did wonder how on Earth I’d look when I got there. 11:24am (many hours later) we see the London Eye. Everyone outside of the queue is supportive of the queue. Strangers asking how you are, saying you can do this, helped. Kindness was at the core of the queue. 11:59am – Big Ben. Surely the end is in sight? I’d been in the queue for 12 hours at this point but the sun, the people and the pull was still keeping me going.
The Covid memorial wall generated another moment of hush. It was at this point that I too went quiet. I don’t think any of us realised quite what trauma Covid created for the world. The memorial means a lot to many people so I was thinking of them too. But then the queue stopped. If the cold of 4am was the worst part, the stopping of the queue came a close second. At this point, the world’s press were all standing there making me grumpy. How dare they look fresh and well slept. Irrational, but true. However, the stopping this time was for a very exciting reason. King Charles and Prince William had come to thank those who had queued overnight. It was incredible to be that close to royalty. You could see the pain and grief in their eyes. It was emotional to see them. But it gave the queue another boost to make it over Lambeth Bridge and to the other side where in Westminster Hall, the queen was waiting for us.
Still we progress. Over the bridge, through miles and miles of zig zag railings, excitement building because we are at the last part before Westminster Hall. We can see Westminster Hall, see the security tents. This. Is. It. And then silence. It’s very hard to describe the feeling inside Westminster Hall. It was like nothing else mattered. There she was, the coffin of the only queen many of us have ever known. The crown twinkled under the lights. The flowers stood proud. I had my moment next to her. I bowed my head, my thoughts between myself and her. I’ve never felt emotion like it. Silent tears, immense gratitude. I was proud that I did it. I stood for 15 and a half hours for this moment. I’d not slept for well over 30 hours. None of this mattered though. This woman gave her life to our service, it was the least I could do.
11 miles. 15.5 hours. One experience I will never forget. Thank you to the many many people from the queue, local businesses, police, marshals, strangers passing by and the staff guarding the queen. You’ve made the experience easier for those people in the queue. Once I’d left the hall, the lady at the gate said thank you. That’s still with me now and will be forever.
So, I’ve been surrounded by this gorgeous view for a month now and I’m honestly so grateful for that. It’s beautiful, idyllic and a paradise. Yet, I have more pressing matters at the forefront of my mind… books. Whenever I see a book leave a beach bag, I’m looking to see a) what it is and b) if they are enjoying it. I have that genuine fear of missing out on a good read.
This has led me to think about why people read the type of books they do on holiday. How do they make their choices? What leads them to pick those specific titles?
Well, this has been going round in my head for a few days now and has now turned into a little sun lounger activity of mine… First of all, it’s really pleasing to see just how many people, on the loungers have been adorned with towels, start reading. There’s books everywhere! Always a paperback, never a hardback and only one Kindle. I can totally relate to this; I only packed paperbacks, had my Kindle in hand luggage but didn’t actually use it. In fact, it’s still in flight mode. Hmmm.
The hotel had a bookcase in reception which was very pleasing! I had a little look here and it followed the same pattern: paperbacks, no hardbacks at all. However, there were some larger paperbacks. These were all Grisham. I saw a lot of Grisham on the loungers along with James Patterson. These were the top two authors by a long way. (Embarrassingly, I didn’t read any of Grisham or Patterson!)
In terms of books that I saw multiple people read, this was terribly interesting! They were Tyson’s Fury’s Between the Mask and Ant Middleton’s First Man In. Non-fiction! I didn’t expect to see that… In fact, the Tyson Fury book was my mum’s and she felt chuffed that others had taken it from the hotel bookshelf.
Repeat ‘take outs’ gave me another train of thought. I read (and thoroughly adored) The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller. When I saw that someone else had picked this off the shelf, I felt exactly like my mum did, like I made a good choice. It made me feel validated and like my recommendations could be trusted. Isn’t that silly? I feel silly writing it…
Overwhelmingly, the main genre I saw was crime and thriller. I totally understand that! It’s my favourite after all. But for summer? Where were all the romance novels? The chic lit?
I read one, Lizzie & Dante by Mary Bly which was stunningly beautiful and had me sobbing on my lounger. But this was the only one I saw. Where are the other people sobbing at a good love story? I did spot that this book was moving further back on the hotel bookcase too. But why is that? I always thought summer was about the soppy love novels that were only bearable because of that very reason – the fact that it is summer. There’s something about the smell of suncream that makes me think this… When you know, you know…
Also, there was a distinct lack of female authors too. I helpfully added to that with my own pile. Writers like Liza Jewell, Jenny Han, Jane Corey and Michele Campbell vacationed with me and are all there waiting to be discovered by the next reader.
So, why do we read the things we do on holiday? What is a typical ‘beach read’ and are they changing? What have you spotted? For me, it was all my paperbacks that didn’t fit on the bookcase. How do you pick yours though?
I wanted to share with you today a new explorations post! This time I toddled off to the beautiful seaside town of Whitby. I’ve never been and literally only know about it because of a) Dracula and b) Lucky Ducks made by the Whitby Glass Company. Therefore, I decided it was time for me to pay Whitby Abbey a visit and boy, it did not disappoint.
Standing tall for nearly 1500 years, this monumental ruin features everything you’d expect from a gothic abbey.
Whilst the history is fascinating, for me it was learning about the links between this abbey and Bram Stoker. In 1890, Stoker stayed in Whitby following a gruelling tour of Scotland. Whilst staying here, he absorbed the views that Whitby offered and excited writers, artists and ‘romantic-minded’ visitors for the past century.
Gothic Literature of the time was set in foreign lands with eerie castles and/or ruins and Whitby’s windswept headland with the ruined abbey meant that it gave its own sense of horror; perfect for any story.
You may have heard just this week about the Guinness World Record attempt at Whitby Abbey to celebrate 125 years of Dracula. The challenge: to get the most people dressed as a vampire at the abbey. 1369 people did just that. Impressive!
For more information on this beautiful abbey, it’s history and it’s heritage, please chick here.
How are we all? I mentioned in my last post that I’ve got a couple of exploration posts to write and today I am presenting the first one. I love finding new places and seeing new things and today’s post is super exciting for me and my fellow Potterheads!
First spotted in London back in 2018 to promote the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, eight huge wands will now be touring the country to promote the release of the next film Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets. The installation features the wands of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Lord Voldemort, Newt Scamander, Tina Goldstein, Queenie Goldstein, Gellert Grindelwald and the Elder Wand. These beauties are a whopping fifteen feet high so perfect for seeing the details up close!
There’s also a light display and music from the shows too so I managed to visit twice! The evenings were much busier with hundreds of people queuing to see them! I saw them outside the City Hall in Hull which was very exciting but they sadly departed today to head towards their next venue. You can see them here:
March 11–17 – Birmingham, the Bullring
March 21–27 – Stoke-on-Trent, Smithfield
March 30–April 5 – Reading, the Oracle Shopping Centre
A must see for any Potter or Fantastic Beasts fan, these really did bring a bright of joy and light into this week in Hull. I think one of the best things for me wasn’t just seeing them, but seeing all the youngsters dressed up. It shows you that over twenty years later, the magic lives on. Fantastic Beasts means that there’s another generation to continue the love!
These daytime photos were taken very early in the morning so there wasn’t anyone around, thankfully. I hope you appreciate them! If you’re off to visit, wrap up (it’s cold again!) and embrace the magic. Are you off to see them? Do let me know what you think! Take care everyone and I’ll see you when I’m back for my next post.
Oh, my am I excited to be writing this post. I’ve looked back on my blog history and I’ve not written and explorations post for two years. That’s thanks to the obvious but today I want to share with you some snaps of my recent trip to London.
This trip was definitely a once in a lifetime experience because I was booked into the Shagri-La, the Shard hotel. Mesmerising and iconic, it’s the capital’s highest building with unmatched views of London’s skyline enveloped with 5* excellence.
There are so many things about this hotel that it’s quite overwhelming with where to begin. The staff are excellent, the food sublime. What made it for me was the room which was furnished with everything you could ever ask for: marble bathroom, rain falling shower, heated toilet seat. The bed was quite literally like sleeping on a cloud. (I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve Googled extensively about trying to buy their pillows…) It’s the view though that is quite literally breathtaking. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I didn’t want to stop looking at it.
Oh, the Shangri-La, you have my heart.
I really will never forget that experience. If any of you are around London, take a trip to the Ting restaurant. I highly recommend the breakfast and the dinner menu. (A little shoutout here for Alex and Nathanial who waited on me for the weekend!)
Lastly, this weekend reminded me of what Covid has taken away from us. The chance to go off exploring and see new places. Having the ability to be able to do that again (at the moment anyway) meant that this trip was all the more special to me. And yes, that is a free standing bath overlooking the Tower of London.
Wherever you are in the world, just know that lockdown or not, we’re never really apart because of this platform. I hope this little post has taken you off on a trip to one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Continue to stay safe and well, especially as it’s now wrap up season!
Happy December! 🎄🎅☃️🤶 This is such a wonderful time of the year. I love to see all the decorated Christmas trees, the sparkly lights, the luscious foods and of course, the festive reads. I have indeed read one festive read this month: Sophie Kinsella’s Christmas Shopaholic which I will be reviewing this month.
Anyway, I hope you’re well and December is treating you kindly. If you’re anything like me, you’re loving the fact that we can legitimately eat chocolate every day for the sake of the season! 🍫
However, before the excitement of chocolate and all things Christmassy kicks in, I wanted to share with you a rare day off that I had this week. I’m crazily marking away in the mock period (drowning is a better choice of word) but our heating broke at school which meant that on Tuesday we all had a day off. It was incredibly strange being out and about on Tuesday but I wanted to do something that really made it count. I’ve always wanted to go and see the seals at Donna Nook but never really got there. This was my moment. It was meant to be! It was a cold, crisp yet sunny day. The view was incredible.
Donna Nook Info:
Donna Nook is a beautiful stretch of coastline between Grainthorpe Haven and Saltfleet in Lincolnshire. It covers more than 10 kilometres and every year along this coastline, grey seals come to give birth to their pups near the sand dunes. The Ministry of Defence still maintains part of the area and it is still used by RAF Donna Nook as a practice site. The sign below did make me chuckle.
As soon as I saw the seals I was just in complete awe. They were perfectly relaxed and so beautiful. I took about 100 photos – no joke. I’ve never been so close to them. I felt like Sir David Attenborough. What I found most endearing is that they snore when they’re sleeping so naturally I made about 10 videos of that too.
So for this festive Saturday morning, one of my gifts to you are these ridiculously cute photos, taken by yours truly. I hope they bring you as much squealy delight as they did me. ☺️🥰
There are just no words for how beautiful these animals are. We are so lucky to have them pick a place near us where we can see this wonderful spectacle.
My Christmas gift to myself is to blog more so stay tuned!
So, I appears that I disappeared again. I wish I could pinpoint a reason for this absence but I honestly feel like I say the same thing repeatedly. The only thing I seem to do is work and go to the gym. This is indeed new! More on that another time. I made it to half term thankfully and jetted off to Cyprus for some last minute summer sun.
What this does mean however, is that I completely abandoned you all again. For this I can only apologise. Work feels like a battle at the moment so it’s very much a case of ‘head down, get through it’ mentality. I’m not feeling particularly great this weekend so it’s an opportunity to catch up! I promise I’ll catch up with you all as soon as I can. Please forgive me.
I wanted to share with you the utter joy that was my adventure last weekend. After waiting for three whole years I finally got Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre tickets. This of course meant a weekend away full of all things Harry Potter related and Christmas shopping. 👦🏻⚡️🚂
Saturday started with waking up in a BEAUTIFUL hotel near Buckingham Palace and getting ready for a day of hitting the shops. 💂🏻♂️🛍 I went to Christmas World inside Harrods which was just incredible. I got some beautiful Christmas decorations and presents for my family. It’s a really glorious place with stunning presents. 🎄 The window displays are lovely too. (Sorry about the reflection!)
One of the things I really love about Harrods are the staff. They’re just so so polite, courteous and lovely. This gentleman below, was one of the stars from my weekend. 🌟
From shopping it was time to get ready for the theatre. I was fortunate enough to see both parts in the same day so the first show was in the afternoon and the second was a couple of hours after in the evening. Every Potterhead knows to #keepthesecrets but all I will say is: it was awesome, amazing, incredible and the best show I’ve ever seen.
That’s all you’re getting from me about it but honestly it doesn’t disappoint. It’s funny, dark and incredibly clever. Get your house scarf on and head down there. 🧣 (I absolutely did not end up buying a Cursed Child hoodie, programme, tote bag, pens, owl toy and ANOTHER Gryffindor scarf…)
After the show I took a walk back to my palace of a hotel to see all the pretty lights and sights of London. The outside of the theatre was absolutely stunning.
First stop, Fortnum and Mason. Their Christmas windows are SO divine. I bought my own body weight in biscuits so I’m already feeling pretty festive to be fair! 🍪
I genuinely believe we are so lucky to have a capital city that is just so beautiful. Millions of people visit every year just to be a small part of it. The London eye was looking lovely as was Westminster Abbey which was all lit up ready for the night time. What I enjoyed most was that the streets were pretty quiet which meant a clear view for photos! 📱
Day two in my palace of a hotel and time to check out. The plan for the day was to visit Hyde Park, the Princess Diana Memorial and Kensington Gardens. The sun was shining and it’s that time of year when we can wrap up and bring our the fluffy scarves we bury ourselves in.
I’ve never been to Hyde Park so I was really thrilled to see it. It’s beautiful! You kind of forget you’re in the middle of a big city. The leaves are changing as we embrace Autumn with open arms. 🍁 It was also VERY exciting to see them setting up Winter Wonderland.
Kensington Gardens are equally lovely and home to the Peter Pan statue that I’ve always wanted to see but never quite got there. Just like Hyde Park, the leaves are changing but the sun was shining down offering some autumnal warmth.
The last part of my weekend away was to visit the Cenotaph. It was the Remembrance weekend so there was a real buzz around the city. I was fortunate enough to hear the cannon to mark the silence first hand. It was a humbling experience to be in the city at the same time as this occasion. It’s so so important that we remember all those who served and fought for our protection and freedom. #lestweforget
This weekend was amazing. I feel so lucky to have these opportunities and experiences. I hope you all enjoy the post and hopefully feel like you can experience this with me! Right now, I’m off to check out all the posts I’ve missed from you wonderful people.
First of all, I’M FREE! No more marking, no more school and finally summer is here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely exhausted but at least another academic year is over. I hope all you lovely people are well and are enjoying the weekend.
Today I wanted to share with you a little discovery I’ve made in Hull. My previous post was about my birthday meal and walking home from there I passed a quirky blue sign. Hull has numerous heritage signs all around the city, but this one was ‘alternative’.
I researched into this and was absolutely amazed! I spent a couple of nights this week going round Hessle, the city centre and Newland Avenue to find more.
Firstly, some background information. The original Heritage Plaques, produced by English Heritage, originated in London from 1866. They celebrate notable figures and the buildings they lived or worked in. However, there was strict rules into obtaining one of these blue plaques. So, a local company, Drunk Animal Creative Studio created these plaques to celebrate the people of Hull who make up its beating heart now.
“The weird, the wonderful, the obscure, the fascinating stories and facts that permeate every street and every community in the city are now celebrated through out Alternative Heritage plaques.”
Clearly, this was going to be an opportunity for explorations. I started off dashing to Hessle for a food related sign. The heart wants what the heart wants, after all.
Then I drove back to the centre of down and had a mile and a half walk to locate the following, including finding the studio where these gems are created.
These were in the local shopping centre to celebrate the amazing Bee Lady, parks, on pub walls and on the wall by the always busy A63. As you can see, they celebrate the every day, the people in our community now.
The second evening where I went exploring was the other side of Hull really, around the Drypool Bridge area. Here I found links to mathematicians, food inventors (that can only be found in the city) and the controversial sporting decisions.
My final little walk was along Newland Avenue. I used to spend a lot of time down here at a student. It is down here that one of my favourite signs is. I’ll leave you to work out which one it is!
There’s 22 of these plaques in and around Hull so I guess I consider this part one. It’s become a bit of an obsession of mine to try and find them all. If I accidentally bump into you because I’m looking on walls instead of in front of me, you’ll at least know why.
I love everything about this. Hull has a deep and rich history, something which it’s residents are adding to daily. This is like something I’ve never seen before and it is awesome. Time to start researching where the next ones will take me!
Lastly, I hope you all have a fantastic summer. I’ll be catching up on everything I’ve missed – both commenting on your amazing posts and catching up with my own. My little blog has been a bit neglected but I’ll be back on it! I’ve also got some more books to hide for Left & Found this weekend too.
Yesterday was my birthday so to celebrate my lovely family and I went and did a little exploring. We visited a beautiful place called Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire. As you may be aware, we really enjoy visiting National Trust places and learning all about the people who lived there.
This year, the trust are celebrating 75 years of having this property and the best thing about that is, despite having tenants until 2010, the property hasn’t changed much. Dated from 1700, we were lucky enough to see some black and white photographs which show the rooms haven’t changed much at all.
The building is grand and you can see yourself living there quite easily. It’s one of the few properties I’ve visited where you can see modern(ish) touches. I do have a bit of a thing for really beautiful wallpaper and this place has its own far selection. This below was my personal favourite.
For me this property is a tale of luck. There were plans to fell 800 trees and flatten the estate to make an airport for the Second World War. Thankfully, this did not happen so we are able to enjoy everything this has to offer still today. The bright, airy rooms live on to tell their story some 300 years later.
It wasn’t just about the hall here. The gardens are stunning, with the Victorian Walled Garden helping to protect the gorgeous flowers from the recent rain. The roses were sublime and make me think of the roses at home. The gardens are living, breathing splashes of colour. It was so easy to get lost there, mentally. I especially liked how they’ve trained their apple trees to grow over an archway.
A personal highlight was the opportunity to go on a tractor tour of part of the working estate. There’s 1500 acres of land here with working farmland. So these tractor tours only run for one day. It was awesome! I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. We also saw four deer jumping about the corn fields. What a treat for my birthday!
If you’re interested in visiting this estate, and I couldn’t recommend it more, please click here for more information.
Now, I’m sure you’ve seen from the subtle hints throughout this post that it was my birthday. (I’m not even going to apologise for this!) For me it meant that I could have a day off from exam marking (still feels endless) and I could readdress the balance between my living life and my working life. It was so important to spend quality time with my family. Life is all about making memories after all. I’m so so lucky because where I live currently looks like my own personal florist.
To end the day we had tea at an all you can eat Brazilian steak house which was great. Who doesn’t love endless meat? I even squeezed in a pudding – lord only knows how. I love cake so I’m assuming that’s not too predictable. I’m so so full today though. Cake for breakfast? Maybe not. However, I give you permission to! The staff were so lovely and all sang to me – including the rest of the diners! The atmosphere was electric.
I know that I’m behind on my beloved blog. I’ve not been reading too much so I’ve not written the May review, read the June book or even decided or bought the July one. However, it would mean a lot to me if you guys did a little something for yourself today. I know you’ll read any reviewing I do when I get back. I know you’ll be patient with me whilst I catch up on any amazing posts that I’ve missed. Basically, thank you for supporting me and seeing another birthday with me!
Big love to you all. Happy July!! Summer is here! Xx