Spring in the air

Well ok, it’s raining right now as I type, but wasn’t yesterday just blissfully sunny?! I just adore this time of year….the post Christmas blues and cold weather seem to ebb away as soon as the snow drops appear and little splashes of colour brighten up the garden. I love the thought that warmer and sunnier times are not far away, long dog walks beckon, and for this year of course spring time means our wedding too!

I had a little wander down the garden yesterday, and was delighted to find the lawn is filled with pretty pastel prims, glowing purple crocuses and dainty little snow drops already. The flower beds and pots are also coming to life with darling little tete-tete daffodils starting to bloom and even the tulips are starting to out on a show.

And so to brighten up a rainy grey day, I thought I’d share a few snaps from my wanderings……hope they bring you some Spring time love……

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Ems x

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Blog Every Day in May: Walk to Work

“Describe or photograph your walk to work. Or journey to work if you use transport. Is it pretty or incredibly dull? Can you find something of interest on your way?”

When I first read today’s prompt I was tempted to walk you through my walk to work in photos or a video or something…until I forgot that it was actually today and when I just came to write it, and hadn’t done any preparations at all! Still, the walk from my bedroom, downstairs and into my home studio wouldn’t make for *that* interesting a post, so I’ve decided to share an old walk to work with you instead!

I lived in London for 12 years in total, from a student living in South East London to my last place right in the City. My last year there was easily the most memorable, probably in part due to living so centrally, and making the most of the Capital (especially during Summer 2012 when there was SO much going on!).

A lot of my fond memories do come from my old walk to work though, as I’d leave our flat at Tower Hill, walk over Tower Bridge and along to Borough. I would sometimes cross over at London Bridge on the way home for a change, and walk through St Dunstans or the Tower of London. Which ever way I walked though, whatever the weather and time of day (I would often finish quite late) there were always sights to see and things to photograph…and so I thought I’d share with you some of my memories of that great walk to work….

Ems x

Something from the weekend: (in Instagram)

Because I’m currently inundating you with posts whilst on the Blog Every Day in May Challenge, I thought that for this week at least I’d keep my usual monday post telling you about my weekend fairly brief…. It was another splendid weekend, and as I took plenty of photos, I thought I’d guide you through it via my Instagram pictures….

Saturday morning began with a beautifully sunny walk along the Hambridge Way. Afterwards we had breakfast then headed into town….

We spotted a sign outside St Mary’s Church saying that their bells had been restored and were on show until they are put back up next week, so we popped in to have a look….

After a little shopping we stopped off in the market square to watch the Hitchin Fashion Show….

….then we spent some time there with the GRWE hounds, collecting and raising awareness….

Cooper had a splendid time getting fussed over and adored, and Lacy in particular was excited to be there and have her photo taken!….

We drank lots of amazing coffee as we’ve just got a new coffee machine…testing is going very well!….

I spent some time in the afternoon in the garden…I’m not going to get rid of the bluebells from our unruly lawn but I did do some tidying up and planting around the flower beds….

And I found our pretty apple tree in blossom (it’s not visible from the house because of the FOUR ewe trees!). The evening was originally going to be spent in London, but as we’ve not been sure when our new hound will be arriving we decided it best to stay at home and have a relaxing night in as we wait for him!

Another gorgeous walk started our Sunday….

We saw bumper loads of cowslips and walked til we were shattered!….

We had a snoop around the car boot sale after that, then pottered about the garden again and had lunch before heading to the cinema to watch Iron Man. Once home, I cooked up a big batch of chilli for dinner and then the evening was spent watching New Girl, blogging and relaxing.

Hope you had a picture perfect weekend too?!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Book Love

“Tell us about your favourite book. Or maybe give us a top 5 of the books that changed your life.”

I love to read. Most of the time. I tend to go through phases where I’m addicted to a book and read text after text….but at other times (like now!) I just lose interest! And whilst I could still tell you all about some of my favourite books I have read (Orlando by Virgina Woolf….all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books….the Dexter books by Jeff LIndsey…..and most of PD James) because I’m having a bit of an ‘off’ period at the moment, I thought I’d be better placed to rave about a different kind of book…..

The book shelves in my little studio are crammed with colourful and creative books, and the biggest collection of all is that of my fashion books. I am just crazy about them. The glossy covers, the amazing photography, and of course the wonderful subjects! I’m definitely a style over substance girl, so browsing through these to give me inspiration is a favourite thing to do for me.

Here are some of my favourites….

Radical Fashion by Claire Wilcox

I used to use this a lot when I was at college (studying for my Degree in Theatre Design, a big part of which was Costume Design) so I just had to buy it when I no longer had access to the library! It’s really inspiring though, and full of, well, *radical* fashion.

Dior: 60 Years of Style by Farid Chenoune and Laziz Hamani

This was a very generous gift one Christmas and I really cherish this book. It’s absolutely HUGE and won’t fit on even the massive Victorian bookshelves we have in the house….it’s a true coffee table book (heck, you could even use it *as* a coffee table!) and it offers an enthralling history of one of my favourite design houses.

Put on Your Pearls Girls by Lulu Guinness

How pretty is that cover? SO damn pretty! And what’s more, this is actually a POP-UP BOOK!!! It doesn’t get much more charming than this….named after one of Lulu’s favourite expressions, the book is made up of all the darling little phrases she uses in her accessories. I love it!

Manolo Blahnik Drawings by Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley

I want a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes more than most things….they are just so wonderfully fun and exciting and glamourous. But as that’s not on the cards, I do make do rather well with this book. Blahnik’s designs are very much like theatrical costume drawings, and his style, colours and drama put me in mind of the wonderful Inigo Jones. I love this book so much I have two copies…one coffee table size and one mini version for the studio!

Merry by Koji Mizutani and Paul Smith

On the cover wrap of my copy of this book is a quote from Paul Smith: “The energy of the street makes me happy”….and this book certainly does make me happy! A super-bright collection of hundreds of incredibly smiley and fashion forward Japanese girls, this book is an inspiration, a mood lifter and just plain brill.

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Bank Holiday Fun

“It’s a long weekend! What are your favourite ways to enjoy the extra long weekend off work?”

This is where I start cheating! Those of you who have read my blog before will know that Mondays are usually weekend catch-ups on my site….I nearly always write up what I did over the weekend, and on a Bank Holiday that includes the Monday too! My “Something From The Weekend” posts are actually the one thing I’ve pretty much done since the start…my blog was always meant to be a diary I could come back to in order to remind me of what fun I’ve had, and weekends are where most of the fun happens…especially Bank Holiday long weekends!

Anyway, this won’t be too far away then from my usual Monday posts…..

Saturday morning began with a lovely walk over the common with Adam, Cooper, Adam’s Mum, and her two dogs Newton and Piper. We all came back to our house together afterwards, stopping off at our nearby artisan bakery, Quotidian, for some of their amazing bread on the way….we toasted some of that up for breakfast with marmalade (and a pot of coffee) and then set to work in the garden.

Our garden was a bit of a state when we moved in….it clearly hadn’t had any attention for a while, and certainly not from anyone who knows anything about gardening in an even longer while! It’s pretty big, which is nice, and we have a large patio at the top with borders at each side, then a long lawn. Well, I say ‘lawn’ but actually it’s more like a little woodland….crammed in there are two holly trees, two yews, a very large bay, an ash, an apple tree, a medlar tree, a Victorian tulip tree and another very large tree which nobody had been able to identify! So, where the lawn would be underneath them there is not enough light for grass to grow, so instead it’s full of bluebells, daisies, primroses and other wild things. I quite like it like that and as we have the patio to sit on, I don’t feel like we need a proper lawn really.

Anyway, we’d done some work on one flower bed just after we moved in, so that just needed a tidy up, lots of water and a few more plants adding. The opposite bed however was another matter! We spent hours digging it over, rescuing Japanese Anemones, Snowdrops and Blue Bells from within stacks of knotty Ivy and Ground Elder….the roots were horrific and it was back breaking work, but we managed to clear the upper part of the bed really well and planted lots of nice new things there…I just have to keep an eye out for any vile Ground Elder leaves that pop back up!

We took lunch outside…more of the yummy bread along with cheese and chutney….plus a nice cold shandy to drink! Then after a bit more tidying up, we had to come inside as it started to rain.

After a little rest up from our hard work, we took the hound for his afternoon walk and then headed to one of our favourite pubs, The Plume of Feathers at Little Wymondley. They serve us-friendly meat there, so Adam and I always enjoy their bacon cheese burger, plus of course their amazing chips! We were pretty tired and full after all that, so it was a relaxing evening of telly watching (still on X-Files) for us.

We awoke quite early on Sunday morning, and to the most stunning day. We made the most of it by heading straight out for a lovely long walk….we took the hound through lots of the local farm land, seeing lambs and calves, as well as some buzzrds above! It felt absolutely divine walking in the warmth, and the blue skies made me feel so very happy!

We had a quick breakfast after our walk, and then drove to nearby Royston for a little dog-date…..we’ve been thinking of getting a second pooch for a while now and heard last week about a suitable dog that has just been taken into foster by one of the local rescue charities. We were so excited to meet him, and he certainly didn’t disappoint! He’s a brilliant little Basset Hound cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier (we think!) so he’s really long with little Queen Anne legs, and a big face! He loves being near to people, answers to pretty much any name and adores kisses and cuddles! We’d decided within two minutes that  we wanted him to come and make his forever home with us, and after not much longer I think he’d decided that’s what he wants too! We’ve reserved him, so just now have to wait for our home check, then hopefully he’ll be with us very soon!

After our exciting visit, we popped back home for an iced tea, then went straight back out to catch the last hour of the car boot sale at the market. We found two lovely cake stands to add to my collection, and I got a great cowboy hat for our friends’ Wild West wedding this summer!

We had a yummy lunch of toasted cheese sandwiches, then did a little more work in the garden before taking our afternoon walk…..we took a route I’d not been on before so it was lovely to see some new places, and Cooper loves exploring new territory! There was lots of oil see rape planted across the fields we walked past, and I just adore the vivid yellows against the blue sky in the sun. We also saw several deer (little baby ones too!), lots of pheasants and rabbits of course. I found lots of pretty pheasant feathers for my collection, and Adam picked up an empty pheasant egg for me too! They will all sit safely inside my Victorian Bell Cloches in the dining room!

Adam cooked a scrummy Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner, and we slobbed about in front of the telly after that, before heading very sleepily to bed!

This morning began with a short walk for the hound, then a hearty breakfast of poached duck eggs. After that we preened ourselves a little before our dear friend Hannah arrived, and shortly after that the wonderful Sharon of Sharon Cooper Photography….Sharon very kindly offered to take our engagement photos and so after a chat over an iced tea, we headed out to have our piccies taken!

I always hate having my photograph taken, mainly because I hate photos of myself, but Sharon is great at putting you at ease, and it was so delicious to be outside in the sun that I didn’t mind all too much! We returned to the house and had some shots there, and I was very impressed with how well behaved Cooper was throughout…sitting quietly with his Auntie Hannah whilst waiting for us to have our photos taken, then posing beautifully whilst he joined in some of the shots! I can’t wait to see the shots and will be sure to share them with a more detailed post about the shoot, but in the mean time, Sharon has just sent me this little sneak preview (thank you Sharon!)…

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We did a little shopping after a lunch of tuna melts in the garden, then put in a few more hours gardening….I managed to finish digging up the bottom end of the flower bed, we put edging tiles around it (there are stacks of them in our garden as I think the beds used to go all the way down the length of the garden, where the trees are, and we can still see a sunken path edged in the same tiles!) and then attacked it with weed killer to ensure the Ground Elder doesn’t come back. I dislike using such things, but it was so bad at that end of the bed that it was the only way! We’ll get some meadowy flowers growing there soon hopefully, but it’s all starting to look much smarter already!

We walked at the common again after that, and returned home for an early dinner of butternut squash lasagne, which we also yummed up in the balmy garden. And then once we’d cleared up, Adam was up to his office to start an online course he’s signed up for….. so here I’ve sat since, mooching about the internets and blogging the evening away with the french windows open, a warm breeze coming in and all the birds singing just for me!

Such a blissful weekend!

I trust you’ve all had glorious Bank Holiday weekends too?!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: 5 Lines

“Introduce yourself or sum yourself up in just 5 lines. Include a photograph that you are proud of.”

My name is Emily, and I’m a blogging, crafting, thrifting treasure hunter and events producer living in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

I’m a little bit into everything, and to say my taste is eclectic would be a serious understatement…..I like to think I can see beauty in everything.

I can’t think of any music that I don’t like, there is certainly no food that I won’t eat (with the exception of Marmite which isn’t really a food), and I just don’t believe that any colours clash.

My greatest loves are my wonderful fiance Adam, my darling lurcher Special Agent Doggie Cooper, weddings, blowing bubbles, the TV Tower in Berlin, blue skies and stationery.

I hate having photos taken of me, but I love to take photos of pretty much anything else…. especially road works, buildings that other people think are ugly, and enchanted places where fairies probably live.

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Our secret garden, St Dunstans in the East, near to where we used to live in London. Taken with my Diana analogue camera with 120mm colour negative slide film.

Rainy day post…. memories of sunny walks

Gosh I hate grey skies. It’s not so much the rain as the dismal colour of everything that makes me feel gloomy. Heck, give me a sunny shower to dance about in any day. But give me a sky the colour of an elephant’s behind, and I’m in an instant bad mood.

Still, despite the rather chilly start to the year, I do at least have some fond memories of sunny days out and about. In fact, since getting the hound, I’ve been feeling very ‘back to nature’ and loving filling my lungs with fresh air whilst stomping around muddy fields, and listening to the sky larks sing for me (yes, for me) in the blue sky. Gosh it sounds so far away and romantic right now, so here’s a reminder of what that all looks like, from my stack of iPhone photos taken on my recent walks…..

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Vienna: Must see and do

Well by now you’ll know that in Vienna you simply *must* drink lots of the excellent coffee, and eat copious amounts of cake and sausages. But what to do in between meal times?

We had such an amazing holiday in Vienna, and although a LOT of it was spent at the amazing Christmas Markets (half the reason for us going in honesty!) I think we did pretty well at soaking up what this gorgeous city has to offer….and here is what I’d recommend you do too….

You can’t really get away from Mozart in Vienna, although it’s not quite as Mozart-crazy as Salzburg! The beautiful statue of the composer in the Burrgarten is well worth a look, although you may have to fight through hoards of school trippers to get your photo!

I love the way you can see Vienna’s Gothic masterpiece, the Stephansdom cathedral from so far away, yet it sort of creeps up on you as you discover it up close. One side of the roof is decorated with a rather on-trend chevron tile design, whilst the other bears the Austrian eagle. Inside though is the real surprise, as we found it lit up in a rather crazy tie-dye effect!

The guide books said that if you only go to see one palace in Vienna, make it the Schloss Shonbrunn. And it is certainly worth the short U-bahn trip out of the city. The audio guided tour will take you through the palace’s tumultuous history and gives you an insight into the lives of its many occupants, including the famous Habsburgs.

The palace also boasts incredible grounds, including various themed gardens, fountains, a labyrinth and maze, and a stunning gloriette….the climb up to which is well worth the effort when you turn around to see the whole of Vienna before you.

And as if that’s not enough, your combined ticket will also let you into the palace’s own zoo, the fascinating Wustenhaus (desert house) and the breathtaking Palmenhaus (Palm house) which is actually a replica of the one in our very own Kew Gardens!

Vienna is home to the world’s first Lomography shop, and so a pilgrimage to its vast photo wall was a must for this analogue-lover. It also has a great little gift shop and the rest of the Museum Quarter in which it resides is worth a visit too.

We found out about the Globe museum by chance, and hadn’t planned it into our schedule at all, but as soon as we knew it existed we couldn’t miss it! The museum far exceeded our expectations, and not only houses some of the most visually impressive and historically important  globes in the world (including an entire room featuring globes from private collections) but also teaches you the history of globe manufacture using clever interactive exhibits….I had no idea it would be so interesting! A combined ticket also lets you into the Papyrus museum and the fascinating Esperanto museum!

Vienna is so famed for its musical history that it would be rude to visit without experiencing some live music. We opted for a rather touristy package at the Kursalon in the Stadtpark…..a sort of a variety show featuring chamber music, ballet and opera, this was the perfect taster and had everyone toe tapping along to the familiar tunes of some of Vienna’s greatest inhabitants.

And whilst we’re on music…..Vienna’s answer to the Hollywood walk of fame is great fun, with golden stars featuring famous composers’ names stretching from the Staatsoper, all the way under the U-Bahn station tunnels.

And whilst you’re there, take a look at the charmingly funny Opera loos! In London we have cockney cash machines, but in Vienna there is a public toilet where you can listen to opera! Love it!

I could also argue that no trip to Vienna would be complete without a good fix of Klimt either, and the Secession museum is a great place to get a feel for the artist. Home to his masterpiece the Beethoven Frieze, the building itself is just as impressive, with its owl motifs and Medusa heads over the door!

And just over the road is the colourful Naschmarkt, the city’s largest and most popular farmers’ market.

I personally couldn’t let the opportunity to visit an iconic Bond film scene pass me by, and so we took a bit of a walk over to the Wurstelprater Amusement Park (actually the world’s oldest amuseument park!) to see the Riesenrad…..those of you who are as fond of Bond as I will recognise the Ferris wheel and the sliding glass doors below from The Living Daylights. The 65m wheel also featured in the film The Third Man, as well as cult classic Sunrise.

Vienna really is one of those cities though that you can just amble around all day, and although we crammed in lots, I’d happily return again (in the summer perhaps) to simply soak up some of the lovely atmosphere there.

Ems x

It’s Film Photography Day!

I didn’t know until just now, but today is Film Photography Day! If you’ve been hanging round here for a while, you’ll know I LOVE my analogue cameras, but I’ve not done very much with them for a good while. In part that’s because of the weather (I don’t find film photos very easy unless the sun is shining!) and also because I’ve not yet found a local developer I trust (I used to be spoiled and go to the Lomography shop at Spitalfields which was walking distance from my London flat), but probably mostly it’s because I’ve been quite lazy about it. So, maybe this is the inspiration I need!

I’m hoping to get out and take a few snaps of my new ‘hood soon, and also take a film camera to Vienna next week, where I’m going for a wedding. But in the mean time, I thought I’d reminisce over some of my old snaps….

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Are you celebrating Film Photography Day? Are you going to go snap happy with your analogue camera?

Ems x

Living for the weekend….. Tempting me back to London

Although I’ve made it back into London several times since moving (it’s just SO quick and easy!), I have mainly enjoyed my weekends locally. There’s still lots I want to do around here, and I’ve been really enjoying discovering more about my new ‘hood. But with a stack of fun things to do in London coming up all of a sudden, I know I’ll be tempted back soon!

As usual, there’s a whole host of special events and limited exhibitions taking place in London….and as of this weekend there are a good half a dozen that I feel were specially designed to tempt me back!…..

Tim Walker: Story Teller

Somerset House, East Wing Galleries

Runs until 27th January 2012, Daily Entry 10am to 6pm

Free Admission

I am so incredibly excited to see this exhibition which showcases the work of the amazing contemporary fashion photographer, Tim Walker. Known for his extravagant style, fairytale theatrics and playful scale, Walker is a total hero of mine. Supported by Mulberry (who hosted a star studded opening party this week), the show will focus largely on the photos themselves, but also features some of his best known props and set pieces.

Twin Peaks UK Festival 2012

Riverside Studios, Hammersmith

20th October, 9:30 am til late

Tickets from £60

It is happening again……‘ The Twin Peaks UK Festival is back this weekend at the Riverside Studios. Debuting in Twin Peaks’ 20th anniversary year in 2010, with a follow up event last year, the festival includes screenings, performances, actor Q&A, cabaret, and of course ridiculous amounts of donuts and cherry pie! Twin Peaks is my all time favourite TV show in fact…..so if you’ve not seen it I suggest you do!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

Natural History Museum

19th October 2012 to 3rd March 2013, Daily 10am to 5:50pm

Adult tickets £10

This world-renowned exhibition has been an annual event for me for a good few years now. Hosting the 100 winning images from the competition on stunningly produced backlit screens, the exhibition is a must for all photography enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.

Hollywood Costume Exhibition

Victoria and Albert Museum

20th October 2012 to 27th January 2013

Adults £15.50 (advanced booking is advised with timed tickets)

This exciting exhibition includes over 100 of the most iconic and unforgettable costumes from a century of Hollywood filmmaking. Split into three galleries (‘Act 1: Deconstruction,’ ‘Act 2: Dialogue,’ and ‘Act 3:Finale’) the show promises to take us on a journey through the Golden Age of Hollywood, and is filled with treasures never before seen by the public, including the famous Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition 2012

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Until 17th February 2013

Free Entry

The Royal Observatory Greenwich is again hosting the winning images of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. I’ve been going to this marvelous free exhibition for years, and wouldn’t miss it! The photography showcased here every year is just mind blowing, and this year features incredible new images of the sky, ranging from within our solar system to far into deep space, and including comets, nebulae, aurorae and the transit of Venus.

Crazee Golf

Tintype Gallery, Farringdon

Until 27th October 2012

Open Wednesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm

Curators Oona Grimes & Teresa Grimes invite you to take part in a game of Crazee Golf…..and I can’t resist a game of crazy golf! Featuring 18 holes created by 18 artisits, the exhibition is an artistic representation of the ‘faux world’ of this wonderful British tradition.

Look out London! You’re not rid of me yet!

Ems x