Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Summer at Kew: the Glasshouses & the Treetop Walkway

Whatever time of year you visit Kew Gardens, you absolutely cannot miss the glasshouses. The Temperate House was still closed for restoration during my visits, so I spent lots of time exploring the other glasshouses instead!

I blogged a few weeks ago about the petite charms of Kew's Waterlily House (and its not-so-petite waterlilies), and today I'd like to share some snaps from my summer visits to the Palm House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

The Palm House is a riot of green all year round, but it's particularly lush in the summer when the elegant white structure becomes almost overgrown with leafy goodness.

I particularly loved the giant bamboo...

 ...and whatever this is (so weird, so cool).

If you struggle with hot, humid environments I'd recommending visiting the Palm House on a cool day during the summer months - or making it the first stop on your tour of Kew before it warms up for the day.

You'll definitely want to have the energy to climb the spiral stairs up to the viewing gallery, if you can. From here you can enjoy a bird's eye view of the plants as well as an unobstructed view of the Palm House's magnificent roof. If you're not too distracted by those two things, you can also look out the windows and into the grounds for some great views of the gardens.

Click here to read more about the Palm House and to see lots more photos I took when I visited Kew in the spring.

I think it would be very hard not to be charmed by the Palm House, but you may well also fall in love with the Princess of Wales Conservatory - it has ten different climate zones, so many different types of fascinating plants, and is generally pretty awesome (even when it's not filled with orchids).

In the summer the Conservatory's main pond is filled with giant waterlilies and other leafy lushness.

I just cannot get enough of those giant waterlilies, they're so amazing!

Talking of leafy lushness (smooth segue, huh?), Kew's Treetop Walkway is also rather fabulous in the summer.

I mean, if I'm honest, it's fabulous all year round (getting up high and walking through the treetops is gonna be cool whatever the season) but it was wonderful walking among all the leafy branches and seeing how gorgeously green everything was.

The Treetop Walkway is a delightful cross between a gentle stroll through the woods and some adventurous tree climbing, with a bit of forest bathing thrown in - I love it. 

I'll share a few more pics from my summer visits to Kew sometime soon! In the meantime you can catch up with all my previous posts, here.

Click here to browse my entire archive of travel posts.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Subscriber Exclusive: TAKE TO THE SEA Hoop Art Tutorial

July's freebie for my newsletter subscribers is a step-by-step tutorial for sewing some nautical embroidery hoop art!

I took a break during July itself, so I'm catching up this month by sending out two patterns. I'm sending out the offical (albeit slightly belated) July edition of my free pattern newsletter to subscribers today... but if you're not yet signed up, there's still a chance to grab this pattern.

I hate the idea of people signing up slightly too late to receive one of my monthly patterns, so in each free pattern email I send I'm including the link to download the new pattern and the previous month's project. So, if you sign up before August 25th you'll get the link to download the TAKE TO THE SEA Hoop Art tutorial as well as August's floral project. Hurrah!

The TAKE TO THE SEA tutorial includes templates and a step-by-step guide for sewing the felt version of this design, plus an embroidery pattern in case you fancy replicating my original project or putting your own stitchy twist on it.

Click here for more information about my newsletters and to subscribe!

Click here to visit my tutorial archive for lots more free crafty projects.

Friday, 10 August 2018

DIY Floral Hula Hoop Wreath Tutorial

I've got a really fun project to share with you guys today: how to make a gigantic floral wreath!

This tutorial is sponsored by Bostik - it's the first in a series of crafty projects I'll be sharing over the coming months, all made using their range of adhesives. I love the challenge of creating things using specific materials, and I hope you guys will enjoy what I come up with.

The first challenge theme was to make something for the garden, and I immediately wanted to make a garden-friendly wreath (regular readers will know how much I love making wreaths!).

I don't know who first thought of using a hula hoop to make a giant wreath but it's a genius idea and my current fave crafty trend. Oversized stuff is always cool, and it's really easy to find cheap plastic hula hoops in pretty colours on the high street.

I decorated my wreath with plastic fake flowers, which add lots of colour and will also withstand a bit of English drizzle! (If you know it's going to rain heavily or be very windy I'd recommend moving the wreath indoors or to a sheltered spot to help protect it from the elements).

You will need: 

- A plastic hula hoop
- Plastic fake flowers
- Craft glue which will stick to plastic (I used extra strong Bostik Glu Dots)
- Pliers or strong scissors
- String or twine

To make the wreath:
1. Choose a selection of fake flowers to decorate your wreath. I bought five sunflowers, which I thought would make a lovely cheerful display, but you could mix and match lots of different types and colours of flowers.

2. Use a pair of pliers or some strong scissors to disassemble the flowers, removing the individual elements from the main stems.

Once I'd detached the flowers and leaves from the main stems, this is what I had to work with:

3. Locate the join in your hoop and make sure this will be hidden under your floral arrangement. Because I planned to add the sunflowers to the top of the hoop, I placed the join at the top so it would be hidden later.

4. If you'll be adding flowers at the top of the hoop, like me, you'll need to attach a piece of string or twine before you start adding the flowers. If the top of your hoop will be undecorated you can leave this step until you come to hang the hoop.

Cut a long piece of string/twine and knot it securely around the hoop leaving two ends of equal length. Think about where you're planning to hang the wreath (e.g. from a nail in a fence panel, or from a fence post) and make sure you've got an appropriate amount of string/twine for the job.

5. Lay the flowers and leaves out around the hoop to roughly plan your arrangement. When you're happy with how it looks, make a quick sketch of the design or take a digital photograph for reference then set all the pieces to one side.

6. Now it's time to decorate the hoop!

I used extra strong Bostik Glu Dots to secure my flowers and leaves - the mess-free dots stick instantly and make constructing the wreath a quick and easy process.

Glue the flowers and leaves to the hoop one by one, starting in the centre of the design and working outwards. Add the Glu Dots (or your chosen adhesive) to a section of the hula hoop then press the flowers/leaves into place. Repeat to gradually build up your floral design.

7. Hang your finished wreath in the garden and enjoy!

DISCLOSURE: this post is sponsored by Bostik, who also provided the Glu Dots I used to construct the wreath.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

My Flat in Progress, Summer 2017: Shelves!

With an ongoing home renovation project, your usual work/life balance becomes a work/life/DIY juggling act and sometimes that means one (or more) of the balls gets dropped.

Last summer, my flat got put on the backburner while I focused on helping my parents move house then settle into their new place. We took up the old laminate flooring and got carpet fitted in two rooms in June (very exciting!) and I moved the last of my furniture and boxes from my parents' house... and that was about it.

On paper, that doesn't sound like much but actually it made a huge difference to the experience of living in this flat. Two lovely clean rooms to put my stuff in! And shelves to put that stuff on after months of living out of boxes! Hurrah!

It felt kind of amazing - particularly because some of the stuff I was unpacking had been in boxes ever since 2011 when I'd split up with my then-boyfriend and moved back in with my parents to save money (god bless their patience, they are so glad to finally no longer have me living in their spare room!!).

I spent a few very enjoyable afternoons working out where I was going to put all my shelves, then slowly unpacking boxes to fill them. Arranging and rearranging things and generally feeling pretty darn thrilled to have this space to call my own.

One end of my living room is my "home office", which is a phrase that always makes me laugh. It sounds so serious when all it really means is "some shelves and a desk and a printer that doesn't work properly".

Then gradually my personal stuff takes over from all my craft supplies: books of poetry instead of books about sewing, photo albums instead of boxes of felt, etc, etc.

Oh, and I finally had space for my potplants again!

I missed my pot plants while my parents were "babysitting" them. A little bit of green and life in a space is so transformative, even if my potplants are all a bit funny looking thanks to years of my terrible plant parenting.

One "flaw" with this flat is that the windowsills are very narrow so I can't put plants on them. I'm still deciding where to put them for the best, but in the meantime they're squeezed onto shelves as close to the windows as possible. Some in my living room, some in the spare room and some in the kitchen (not pictured).

Mmm... lovely shelves...

Obviously it would have been nice if we'd got loads more DIY projects done last summer (it's always great to get stuff ticked off the To Do list), but it was actually really great just having some quiet time to sit and appreciate the work we'd done so far.

It was also lovely to spend time thinking about things like "where should I put these teacups?"...

... and "what should I put in this basket?"...

... instead of thinking about stuff like appliances and plasterwork and power tools. Simple pleasures, huh?

More flat updates coming soon! In the meantime, you can catch up with all my previous home renovation posts here.