“Thank you for being my bridesmaid”

This Summer I was honoured to be bridesmaid to my no1 best friend. That’s 23 years of friendship- a lifetime of beautiful memories. There’s not many people in this world that can say that they’ve known someone their whole life, and when i mean whole life i mean since we were bumps in our mums tums! So that explains the emotion that arrived on this day, it was overwhelming, I was so happy for her.

It’s days like these that you wish you could live every day, and thats why they are so important to cherish. You must reminisce of the fun times and special memories we experience, after all there are so that enter our lives, and then they are then gone, its important to capture them and to talk about the stories, to keep the memories alive.

The wedding photos truly reflect how magical that day was. I wanted to share them on my blog, so i wouldn’t forget them, and to express how thankful i was to be part of such as special day,  as i have never felt so blessed to be apart of such a wonderful group of girls, standing together as the bridesmaids for the beautiful bride.

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Admiration

In response to the Daily Post weekly photo challenge: Admiration

When I saw this weeks photo challenge there was only one person that came to mind, and that was my mum. I have always admired her ability to look at life positively, with grace and with love. She reminds me that there is only a short amount of time that we get on this planet, and so she plans to live happily every day by doing the things she loves. Whether it’s just taking the dogs down to the river to watch them play, or planting new flowers in the garden, log hunting for fire wood, or doing a bit of DIY. It’s these small things that she enjoys which makes every day feel worth living. The big experiences are important to, and she says these can shape and define you as a person, whether it’s a career change, traveling or taking on a different hobby. My favourite saying of hers is ‘It’s important to have a little bit of everything’ and I definitely think this is true. I will always see my mum as the most amazing person, having brought up four children who all turned out pretty ok, she’s inspiring, encouraging and always there to help deal with life’s ups and downs, so thank you mum!

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ahhh Lemon Drizzle Cake. It’s my total favourite, and with a cuppa tea it can really be one of the best things on this planet. I have been trying to perfect the recipe to get just the right amount of lemon inside the cake, and make the lemon glaze and drizzle just that little bit sweeter. So here we are, the recipe that makes this fine loaf of a cake!

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You start with a basic sponge recipe (which is always the weight of an egg in flour, butter & sugar, doubled, tripled etc. depending how big you want your cake) and then drizzle it in lemon heaven..

Cake:

3 large eggs (200g)

self raising flour (200g)

caster sugar (200g)

unsalted butter (room temp) (200g)

Zest of 2 lemons (but if you like lemon, zest another)!

*If using electric whisk add 1 small tsp baking powder

Now I like to add lemon drizzle and a lemon icing glaze, as I believe you can never have enough lemony goodness!

Drizzle:

Juice of 1 lemon

7 tsp of caster sugar

Lemon glaze:

Juice of two lemons (ones you zested)

(150g) icing sugar

Grease a bread tin (about 24 x 10.4) & pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F.

Mix together your cake ingredients until you’re left with a nice smooth cake batter. Pour into your pan & bake for about 35-40mins. While you’re waiting, make the lemon drizzle by adding the lemon juice and caster sugar into a small pan, then heat up on the lowest temperature (as you don’t want it to get too hot) while mixing continuously  the sugar should start to dissolve into the juice, give it a little try after a minute or so and it should taste like a lemon syrup. Put to one side as this is your drizzle!  Then mix together your icing sugar & other lemon juice until totally smooth, pop it to one side and this is your lemon glaze to pour over the cake once cool. After 35mins check the cake by inserting a skewer into the middle, if it comes out clean it’s done. If not, give it a few mins more. When it’s ready use your skewer to poke holes all over the cake, all the way down to the bottom. Pour over your lemon drizzle while the cake is still warm so it can absorb all the lovely syrup. Then wait half an hour- hour before adding the glaze. Sometimes it’s nice to add in stages so that some does go down into the cake, but its up to you how you like it, as it’s always best served warm.

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My Iceland Adventure

Oh wow, what an incredible country! It’s hard to explain what Iceland really feels like as it’s like no other place I have ever been. You expect the vast surreal landscapes and picturesque panoramas, however nothing you read on the internet prepares you for whats to come; Iceland feels alive, from the exploding geysers and gushing waterfalls, to the crazy and unpredictable ever changing weather, and volcanic mountains at every step- it’s mesmerising!

On day one our flight landed at Keflavik airport, and we proceeded to collect out rental car from a fun company called SadCars. I had read about them being one of the best and also the cheapest so we decided to roll with these guys. It was definitely the right decision as they were incredibly friendly and helped with our query of whether we should either rent a 2WD or 4×4. Seeing as we were not driving all the way around the ring road, and new that all the dangerous F roads were inaccessible during the winter we decided to go with a small 2 wheel drive to help keep the cost down. However after having a few hiccups with the car through the trip, if I were to go again I would definitely recommend hiring the 4×4 during the winter months.

Driving straight from the airport we headed for the Blue Lagoon. One of the 25 wonders of the world, a geothermal spa with 40 degree murky blue water, it was like something out of a dream! I wasn’t sure what quite to expect, but I had read about the rather chilling entrance into the water as the changing rooms are a few steps away. It definitely made for an entertaining run from the -2 degrees into the warm water. The water contains three ingredients- Silica, Algae and minerals, and you can find FREE silica mud to put on your face at certain swim up locations around the lagoon! We definitely made the most of it as there were different types of mud to chose from in which each had special qualities for improving the skin, and it sure does the trick!

One of the best bits to the Lagoon is the swim up bar, and as you swim closer there becomes a louder crowd gathering. Our blue lagoon package that we bought included a free drink so we grabbed that quickly and headed off to a quieter location where we could relax and take in the surroundings better. The other attractions at the lagoon are steam rooms, a waterfall (great for a back massage), saunas, cafe and restaurant. I would definitely recommend spending a whole morning or afternoon at the Lagoon as we had spent only spent three hours there and I could have easily spent longer chilling and relaxing at this amazing place.

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BLUE LAGOON

We stayed just outside of Reykjavik city centre at The Viking Hotel- it’s the only viking themed hotel in Iceland all furnished inside with west nordic decor, and there was even a small geothermal hot tub! They served a small but well needed breakfast to kick start the day, and also let us top up our flask with coffee from the machine, knowing there wouldn’t be any Starbucks caffeine fixes en route to our destinations.

On our first full day we headed to the Golden Circle, we started by heading NE on Route 36 towards our first stop-Þingvellir National Park. It was a picturesque drive which took about half an hour, passing through snowy mountain ranges, valleys and fields roaming with Icelandic horses. This area is where the North American & Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly splitting apart from each other, and it’s here you can see the rocky terrain of the earth where the plates create deep fissures in the ground.
Our next stop on the list was Oxararfoss waterfall, however we didn’t have much luck on finding this one as some of the walking routes for it had be cornered off having been to dangerous to trek through, so unfortunately we had to skip it. We drove on to see the Geysers At Haukadalura, a geothermal area about 60km away from Þingvellir National Park. There are two famous Geysers here called Geysir and Strokkur. The original Geysir no longer erupts after an earthquake shut it down, and is now called ‘little geyser’ (the name always makes me laugh when i say it) but a second one called Strokkur constantly explodes with scalding water shooting 100 feet into the air every 10 minutes or so! There are also bubbling pools, mud pits and exploding water vents. This is the place where Iceland feels alive, and is definitely worth spending a while exploring the awesome surroundings.

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STROKKUR
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STROKKUR

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The next major highlight of the Golden Circle trip was the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, where the river Hvita falls 100 feet into a crevice in the Earth. The atmosphere is dramatic as you approach, the loud sound of gushing water and thick mist makes for such an impressive scene. It gets really windy around this area so it’s best to were the extra layers, and keep hold of your gloves when taking those pictures as you don’t want to see them tumbling down into the waterfall never to be seen again…

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GULLFOSS WATERFALL

On the way back from Gullfoss I was adamant on finding this hidden waterfall called Brurfoss. It’s very much off the tourist track, and even some of the locals don’t know it’s location. It’s unique due to the turquoise coloured water, and I had read about it online as some people had managed to find it and left pretty helpful instructions, but still not clear enough that you can find it with ease, so do prepare to wander aimlessly if you go looking for it! Due to our 2WD we couldn’t get the car down to a closer route so we had to park up by the main road which wasn’t ideal, however it made for a fun trek through knee deep snow! It was the greatest feeling once we had found it an hour or so later. As you draw nearer you hear the sound of water, then you come to a wooden bridge and there it is, in front of you, this incredible mass of turquoise water falling from the dark volcanic boulders, it was a beautiful sight and one that I won’t ever forget.

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BRUARFOSS WATERFALL
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BRUARFOSS WATERFALL

After finding this hidden gem we wandered back to the car, the last light of the day filling the sky as the clouds had just passed with a heavy falling of snow. I had my camera out on manual mode and was snapping away. I managed to get an awesome shot of the sun light speckled through the window pane of the glass. It is now one of my favourite photos and a great memory of the adventurous day spent searching for Bruarfoss waterfall.

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SUNSET – ICELAND

On our third day we travelled further south and down towards the east of Iceland to discover the waterfalls-Skogafoss or Seljalandsfoss. It took around 2 hours to drive from our Reykjavik destination, so you have to be pretty excited about waterfalls if you’re prepared to drive this far to go and see them. First stop was Seljalandsfoss where you can actually follow a path that takes you behind the waterfall itself! This was awesome as you could feel the force of the water as you got closer. Prepare to get wet here as you get completely covered in spray when you stand at the back! There was also a hidden waterfall nearby where you could walk between a tiny crevice into a cave like structure where it opened out into a huge waterfall crashing down from above. The boulder in the middle was a great place to stand to get the best view and pictures of the water cascading down. Next stop was Skogafoss- 20 minutes down the main ring road you come to it, there are few signs along the way however you can’t miss it as it’s huge. This was my favourite waterfall as the walk up to it was pretty intense, the sound of water crashing down got louder and louder and completely towered over you once you got as close as you dare. Also, if you get to see Skogafoss when the sun is shining, a rainbow appears all the way over the waterfall, it transforms the place and makes it look even more magical ( although I have only seen photos of this as our day was unfortunately cloudy)!

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SELJALANDSFOSS
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BEHIND SELJALANDSFOSS
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HIDDEN WATERFALL
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SKOGAFOSS

After our waterfall hunt, we carried on a littler further to try and find the wreckage from an old airplane crash in Iceland on Sólheimasandur black sand beach. It’s one of Iceland’s most iconic & haunting photography locations. On Saturday Nov 24, 1973 a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach in the south of Iceland after experiencing some severe icing. Luckily the crew members survived and it has now become a popular destination for photos, especially now that Justin Bieber has used it in one of his music videos!

The crash itself was pretty hard to get too, seeing as it was 4km from the nearest road and out stranded somewhere on the beach. It was also raining and the beach was completely covered in mist so we didn’t think we could get take the car, so instead we decided to park up and walk. After half an hour of walking we realised it has been a bad decision, as other 4×4 cars were making there way down and we couldn’t see the plane crash at all. We has also begun to lose the cars headlights in the process of trying to follow them. After nearly an hour of walking a 4×4 car pulled up and a very lovely couple shouted out to us to see if we wanted a lift to the wreckage- we accepted instantly and were so happy to have almost been rescued! I can’t remember their names now but we finally got to the plane crash and what an incredible place it was…

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Sólheimasandur

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On the final day of the trip we decided to spend the day in Reykjavik, as i wanted to check out the city and the iconic places to visit. Reykjavik is only a small city, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character and colour. You can travel everywhere by foot and within minutes you’ll notice it’s a city that takes pride on skirting away from the norm. It doesn’t have the usual shops, bars, cafes and restaurants you find in other European cities, instead it has individual quirky places to explore the Icelandic culture. The country even got rid of McDonalds after the economic crash in 2008, as the fast food industry isn’t at all booming there.

Whilst on the subject of unhealthy food, one of the places I had read about were the Icelandic hot dogs, and believe it or not, the world’s most successful hotdog stand is not, as many would assume, in New York City, but instead, it is in the heart of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. It’s said to be packed every day, whenever the stand is open, and surprisingly it was quite hard to find at first as its tucked behind a few buildings near to the seafront. The man asks “One with everything” which means the classic dog they sell where the lamb-based hotdog is covered in ketchup, mustard, fried and raw onion and remoulade, a type of sweet mayonnaise dressing. I have never tried a New York hot dog, but this was no doubt one of the best hot dogs i have ever tasted!

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Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur ‘The best hot dogs in the world’

One thing I loved is how Reykjavik is covered in colour; from the multicoloured rooftops and corrugated steel the houses are made from, to the graffiti that decorates downtown Reykjavik (the so called ‘Soho’ like areas of the city). Streets art is not merely tolerated in these cities but they are embraced. It’s difficult not to walk down a street without seeing something brightly coloured to catch your eye, and in this sense the art doesn’t feel disrespectful: it feels free and liberated, and creatively thought over. I  decided to check these areas out, and wow, some of the graffiti pieces I came across were just amazing- My favourite being the huge mushroom piece that filled the side of a building.

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REYJAVIK- GRAFFITI

I hope that you enjoyed this insight into my little Iceland adventure. From chilling at the Blue Lagoon, to chasing waterfalls and exploring Reykjavik’s colourful streets ; these are just a few of the many reasons why so many people decide to have an Icelandic adventure, and I definitely intend to go back one day!

Iceland Countdown

The count down to my Icelandic adventure begins! In just under 42 hours I will be on my way to the land of volcanoes, geothermal pools, northern lights, epic waterfalls and furry Icelandic horses- I can’t wait to explore this amazing country! I have also heard that the Icelanders have an odd obsession with hot dogs, so hoping I come across a few hot dog stands along the way..

Be sure to check out my Iceland post full of photos and quick tips in a few days or so!  I will tell you about the places I explored and hopefully the hidden gems…that’s if I can find them first!

 

Mood Boards

I had forgotten how fun creating mood boards were, and how visually appealing they can be once you get all of your ideas down on one page. Throughout my time at school, college and uni I would always need to create some sort of mood board or ideas page before starting a design or art project- making the time to get all my scrappy ideas and thoughts from my head down on paper, printing visuals and snapping photos, it was the best bit!

So the reason for this post is to show a few mood boards I have created recently, as I have been getting all sorts of waves of inspiration which has been so refreshing! I started off with an ‘Oceans Bliss’ board, as I guess spring/summer is on the way and I have too much excitement for beach trips and the sea air!

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Ocean Bliss

 

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Simple

Design

Today I started to design some new images for my blog re-fresh, and then with other thoughts to actually start a whole new blog from scratch, I began to play around with some of my favourite photographs and fonts.

‘Colour My Day’ was the initial idea for the new name of my blog, which sits boldly in front of my circular images, that are slightly faded and set as the background. Futura, Bebas Neue, Courier regular and Brush Script MT are the initial fonts that I used which suited my images, although there is still some re-jigging to do!

My favourite image is the sea one, so I decided to write some of my favourite words down in front of the image, almost like a poem to try and bring a story into the design. I chose to stick with the Futura font as it’s a simple style that doesn’t distract from the photo too much.

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Pancake Sundays

The only way to start a valentines Sunday is to have pancakes for breakfast, and I went all out with a whole stack and extra toppings, with the greatest combination of ingredients out there- blueberries, maple syrup and bacon! I’d usually be up for making the homemade dodgier versions but there was no point messing around on a day like today, so the only place to do it right was Pickle & Rye…

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Next stop, Richmond Park. Some well needed fresh air and exercise was needed to walk off those full stacks of goodness! As always the park was full of families and couples, some with their dogs, cycling or jogging, and as the sun appeared through the clouds this Sunday was made just a little bit brighter.

A cold walk then called for a Cafe Nero pit stop, or more like a few hours curled up on the sofa reading my new book (The Versions of Us), doing some back and forth research on Iceland (the next trip on my list), and taking a few trips to the counter to refuel on coffee and tea. It’s days like these I wish every day began with pancakes…

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Lemon & Ginger

Recently I have been starting my day with the concoction of lemon and Ginger tea. I had read about it’s amazing way to revitalize your body and help in so many different ways to improve your health. I used to think how on earth could you start your day without coffee!? But this really works, and if you can get through two days of replacing coffee with this drink, you are on your way to a more hydrated, more detoxed and healthier you! These are just some of it’s super powers…

* Relieves stress and mood swings
* Fights off flu, cough and cold
* Fights against cancers
* Keeps motion sickness at bay
* Aids digestion
* Eases joint pain in arthritis
* Improves immunity
* Enhances blood flow
* Prevents heart disease
* Cures low grade fever
* Refreshes the mind
* Detox your body and eliminate toxins

Easily make it by just using 5 cm ginger root, 1 Litre fresh water, 2tbsp  organic lemon juice, 1-2 tsp honey– Finely chop ginger root and infuse in freshly boiled water for at least 20 minutes, so the infusion maximizes the transfer of the active ingredients into the liquid. Add lemon juice, honey and stir. Serve hot or cold for a refreshing and revitalizing treat 🙂

 

 

Lanzarote Adventure

Desperate for some sunshine I spent a week exploring this amazing island, with the guaranteed good weather, volcanic landscape, beaches and my camera in hand, it was the perfect little adventure.

The best way to get around the Island is to drive, so hiring a car was a good option for the trip, that way you got more freedom and can explore every little bit of the island. It’s definitely more exciting finding somewhere off the beaten track, away from the tourist destinations that you can call ‘your place’ and that is almost undiscovered by others. My favourite place from the trip was the mountain just up and around the corner from the Beatriz hotel, here you could climb to the top of the volcano to see the sunset, and see the view of the trailing volcano peaks in the distance. Unfortunately there was some cloud cover but in a way this made for a more effective photo shoot as the clouds became wispy and patches of pink sky started to appear through the gaps.

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COSTA TEGUISE- MOUNT CORONA
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COSTA TEGUISE- MOUNT CORONA

With good weather every day meant there was a sunset opportunity every evening! On the first night before discovering Mount Corona I wasn’t sure how to get the best shot of probably the clearest sunset of the week, so I decided to chase this one in the car, heading south towards Playa Blanca there were some great opportunities to get different angles and views of the sun setting, the colours were so vibrant and dusk quickly followed which allowed the colours to change into a hazy pink and purple once the sun had disappeared…

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SUNSET REFLECTION
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SUNSET- TEGUISE
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SUNSET- TEGUISE

The beauty of this little island is that nothing is too far of an hours drive along deserted roads and picturesque scenery, so to drive anywhere is a breeze, just as long as you have a rough idea as to the place you’re heading! For one of the days I had to make way for visiting the Timanfaya National Park (also know as the fire mountains). It’s here that you can see a spectacular volcanic vast land, which was the center of a massive volcanic catastrophe 250 years ago and erupted for over six years! As the cars are banned from driving around the narrow roads, a bus tour takes people around the park instead, which allows you to see the most breath taking views of the craters and the lava valleys. The crusty land is burnt red in some places making it seem like a spacey ordeal, almost like you’re on Mars! Once back at the top, there is a great restaurant (El Diabolo) at the highest point in the park where you can have a meal or drink and look out at the view. It is also here that chicken is cooked on top of a hole in the ground with only natural volcanic heat cooking it from beneath the earth’s surface- it’s without a doubt the worlds coolest BBQ!

One of the highlights was getting to meet a camel- or i should say many camels! As there were at least 50 or so all lined up in groups ready to take people on trips just a little way up to a small view point around the Timanafaya area. They were very friendly animals, as I had expected them to be spitting all over you, as I had heard that camels and lamas are known to do this! Luckily they had fairly sturdy seats on them so you didn’t have to straddle one so it was a fairly comfy ride, although on the way up the camel in front of mine needed the loo and ended up peeing for nearly half the journey!

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TIMANFAYA
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TIMANFAYA
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TIMANFAYA
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EL DIABLO
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TIMANFAYA
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TIMANFAYA

Another great attraction were the caves, The Jameos del Agua and the Cueva de los verdes are separate caves and very different, but are part of a 6KM long lava tube that formed 4000 years ago! I was excited to visit the Jameos Del Aqua as I had heard about the species of blind albino crabs that you can see in the natural lake which was formed within the cave, and it is the only place in the world you can find them! Surprisingly they were absolutely tiny, so small in fact that my camera even found it hard to pick them out, they covered the bed of the lake and looked like small white glowing pebbles from a distance, which made the cave look even more magical! The entrance to the cave was amazing, as you enter by climbing down a stone stair case into the first cave known as ‘Jameo Chico’, there was an unusual bar / restaurant, and then looking down you get a great view over the small blue lake. The Cueva de los verdes was a completely different experience, as the caves were much deeper underground, you could only see these caves as part of a tour, as there was every chance of getting lost if directing yourself alone. The lava tubes were lit up with special lighting effects, and this made for a real theatrical experience, as you also had to duck and crawl along narrow ways to get round parts of the cave.

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JAMEOS DEL AGUA
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JAMEOS DEL AGUA- ‘JAMEITOS’
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CUEVA DE LOS VERDES