Thursday, 28 April 2016

Liebster Blog Awards 2016

Hi All,

I've been very kindly nominated by the lovely Fiona over at Lucy's Cottage Blog as part of the Liebster Blog Awards and I'm very touched by the nomination, thank you Fiona :-) Please do ensure you check out Fiona's blog; it always puts a smile on my face and Fiona always includes lovely photos showing her creations, her gorgeous dogs, her amazing purchases and especially her beautiful cottage (which I've aspired to live in since I was a little girl!). You can also follow Fiona on Instagram where she posts yet more beautifully colourful photos (@lucys_cottage)

The idea of the Liebster Blog Awards is to discover new blogs and here's what you need to do to take part:
  • Ensure you thank the person who has nominated you and include links back to their blog, after all it's important you share their lovely blog too!
  • Include a photo/badge of the Liebster Blog Awards logo on your blog post to show you've taken part.
  • Answer the 10 questions asked by the blogger who has nominated you
  • Nominate 5 bloggers that you want to share with your followers and blog viewers
  • Create 10 new questions to ask your nominees - have some fun!
  • Ensure you make your nominees aware that they have been nominated so they know to answer their questions!

I follow so many wonderful blogs that picking five wasn't easy, but here are my five nominees:

Jo at awholeplotoflove - Because Jo never fails to make me giggle at her posts, I love seeing her gardening photos and also love hearing how Rocky Hound is!

Sarah at Down By The Sea - Because Sarah posts the most wonderful photos down in Dorset and has a very cute Westie called Tavi!

Dawn at Doing it for ourselves in Wales - Because I just love reading all about what Dawn is up to on her smallholding, her food photos also make my tummy rumble!

Lucy at Lucy & Pinto - Because I love hearing about Lucy's progress with her gorgeous pony, Pinto. I miss riding and being around horses a lot so I adore getting my 'horsey fix' through her blog!

Kirsty at Rural Retreat Restoration - Because I love reading about the progress on their beautiful house and grounds, I also like looking through her recipes too!

Now to answer my questions asked by Fiona (Lucy's Cottage):

What book are you currently reading?
I'm actually reading two at the moment! The first is 'War and Peace' by Leo Tolstoy; I loved the recent BBC TV adaptation and decided to give the huge book a go - loving it so far but it's not easy reading, hence why I need some lighter relief every so often, so I'm also reading 'The Yorkshire Shepherdess' by Amanda Owen - fantastic book (Thank you Dawn)!

What is your favourite season?
Autumn - I love the array of colours created by the falling leaves, autumn flowering plants and there's nothing like a blustery Autumnal walk through woodland or along a beach. Not only that but it's a time of year when the weather can be mild and sunny but without my hay fever driving me mad!

Do you prefer Halloween or Bonfire Night?
Bonfire Night! I love watching fireworks and love seeing everyone in our village heading out of their homes all wrapped up against the elements to see the bonfire being lit and the fireworks being set off, great community spirit!

What is your favourite kind of cake?
I'm not a particularly sweet-toothed person despite the fact I love baking cakes and cupcakes. I do however love a slice of a classic British favourite, Victoria Sponge. It's got to have fresh cream sandwiched in the middle along with strawberry or raspberry jam, yum!

Which historical figure would you most like to buy a pint/glass of vino for?
Jane Austen - I hope she counts as she is one of the best authors of all time in my opinion! I'm a hopeless romantic and adored reading her books in my teens and still do now. I found it fascinating to think of how very different life was then as to how it is now. I think she'd quite enjoy a glass of vino and hearing about how the world works these days...

Do you collect anything?
My partner Jack would say "yes Emma collects many things; cake baking equipment, cupcake cases, books, yarn and fabric", but I think these are more bad habits that collections, though they are rather large! The one thing I do collect on top of these is Wade Whimsies, they're small ceramic mostly animal figures made by Wade back in the 1950s onwards. My Grandad gave me his small collection and I built it from there - I now have over 200 of them. Sadly I keep them mostly boxed up as they're a pain to dust around!

Where were you born?
I was born in Cambridgeshire and raised in a small village not far from the city. I lived in the same house for almost 25 years. I have wonderful memories of growing up in Cambridgeshire.

What is your favourite Christmas movie?
Without doubt it has to be 'It's a Wonderful Life'. It's such a lovely story, with lovely music too. I have to include 'Holiday Inn' too though, another great old movie and with my favourite Christmas song in too (Bing Crosby singing 'White Christmas').

If you could have a super-power, what would it be?
Super speed crocheting! Now that would be good!

Here are my 10 questions for my nominees:
1. What was your first pet and what was their name?
2. If you could live a day in a different era of time, when would you choose?
3. What would your ideal 3 course meal consist of?
4. What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
5. If you were given £1 million what would you spend it on?
6. What makes you smile the most?
7. What holiday destination would you most like to visit?
8. Chocolate bar or packet of crisps?
9. If you could meet any famous person (present or passed away) who would it be?
10. What are your top 3 favourite animals?

Thank you again Fiona for nominating me :-) I'm also really going to enjoy discovering more blogs to read!

Em x

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Funny Photo: Barry

Just had to share this photo of Barry from last week; he'd had a tiring day of following me around everywhere, walks and playing with toys. Obviously this is all exhausting so when he had the chance to sit up on the armchair with me he decided to take me quite literally and sit like an old man and have forty winks!

Shhh don't wake him!

Hen Do Spa Weekend, Bit Of Gardening And SNOW?!

I had a lovely weekend on my wonderful best friend's Hen Do; we went to Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire (near Silverstone). As Jess had been here before and said it was lovely it was decided a while back that we'd go here and she was right. It's a lovely hotel and spa and I enjoyed the relaxation and giggles with my bestie. The food was wonderful too - a bonus because I adore food (just in case you didn't already know!). I hope Jess had a good time anyway; only 5 weeks until the wedding now!

I had a dessert for once! I had paid for it after all and it was delicious!

I said goodbye to Jess and the other girls on Sunday morning after we had checked out and made the short journey home. A very excitable Barry was waiting for me, crying like mad when he saw me. He enjoyed his boys weekend with Jack but was pleased his Mummy had returned. I took him for a nice walk around Sunday lunchtime and then spent the afternoon in the garden with the dog and the tortoises.

I had a good tidy in the garden; edged the lawn where it is overgrowing into the borders and path, looks much tidier now. I gave my herbs a spruce up and planted a new Mint; I went with a Moroccan mint as it smells lovely, but I did almost come away with a Strawberry Mint - amazing smell! The Montana Clematis is covered in flower buds so will look beautiful in another couple of week's time I should think. I'm also pleased to see everything has already grown somewhat in my wildflower/Alpine bed. It's already serving its purpose of attracting the bees and I saw a butterfly yesterday too. Just a few more plants to go in and it will hopefully be a nice busy and colourful flower bed. I think the bulbs that have come up are Alliums but I can't honestly remember what I planted last year!

Finally, it's Tuesday afternoon as I write this post and we've had snow showers on and off all afternoon. What's happening with the weather?! Does it not know it's May next week and we're meant to be having a garden party at my parents with family and friends this Sunday. I hope it warms up a little anyway, I've got so many plants waiting to go outside that I almost did put outside on Sunday only to have a harsh frost last night. I had to scrape the car this morning before work! I know I've moaned already about hay fever but I would rather the temperatures were in double figures!

I'm very excited for our dinner tonight; I put a beef brisket joint into the slow cooker this morning before work. I made a spice mixture of cayenne pepper, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, cumin and paprika, all grinded down in my pestle and mortar. This was then mixed with brown sugar and rubbed all over the meat before I added it to the slow cooker with some beef stock. When I got home from work a short while ago the house smelled delicious and sweetly spicy. I'm going to have a go at making a homemade barbecue sauce and then I'll mix this with the beef once I've shredded it. We're then having it in tortilla wraps with salad and coleslaw, yum! I'll let you know how it goes anyway and try and take some photos if I haven't already devoured it all.

Have a good week everyone!

Em x

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Enjoying The Sunshine

It was glorious weather yesterday; I was so pleased to finish work and then spent all afternoon in the garden with Barry and the tortoises. Barry had a vets appointment (you gasp but for once he's absolutely fine!), just for his annual jabs now that he's all better. The vet said that Barry looks the picture of health, very fit and muscly with all the walking and activities we do.

I spent the afternoon pottering around the garden; the tortoises were sunbathing in their run and chomping on dandelions, there was a big bumblebee busy at work around my lavender plants in the garden and Barry was hunting spiders. I busied myself with planting a few more plants in the wildflower bed, admired the little blackcurrants appearing on my blackcurrant plant and I also re-potted some seedlings.

Squirt & Lola enjoying the April sunshine

I also bought two bargain bunches of Irises in Tesco for £1 each. They're some of my favourite flowers and being purple I suppose it's quite easy to guess that (I do love purple). They're opening quickly anyway and providing nice colour on the dining table.

One thing I have really noticed since the weekend is the return of hay fever :-( My eyes have been very itchy, I've been sneezing nonstop too. I'm just about managing to keep it under control with tissues, nasal spray, eye drops and tablets - I just need a gas mask and I'm complete! I really hope it isn't as bad as last year, it really got me down last year because it was the worst it had ever been and I've suffered for over 20 years. When will I outgrow it?!?! I'm back at the doctors next week anyway to see what other treatments I can try.

Regardless of hay fever, I try not to let it stop me getting outdoors (after all it does has something to do trying to build up an immunity) and gardening is one of my forms of relaxing so it's important I continue when I can. I love seeing colour appear in the garden regardless of hayfever and I've got a lot of seeds on the go.

My favourite plants/flowers;
Gerbera - such happy giant daisy faces
Mesembryanthemum - hope I got that right!
Dogwood - I love the red stems and contrasting green leaves
Lavender - for the bees
Buddleia - for the butterflies
Saxifrage - A new addition to my garden this year and I love the little flowers
Sage - my favourite herb

What are your favourite plants/flowers?

Em x

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Dog Walking Holiday; Wye Valley, Wales

We're back from a lovely weekend in Wales; this was my first time visiting Wales and I'm completely in love with the scenery, it's beautiful! I understand there's a whole lot more of Wales to explore but we've made a start at least.

We set off early Saturday morning down the M4 towards Wales and looked a little worriedly at each other as we drove through a heavy snow storm! Thankfully as soon as we got into Wales we had nothing but glorious sunshine the whole weekend we were there. It was noticeably chilly, but you could certainly feel the sun's warmth when lugging the camera bag around and striding out on our walks. I'd planned a whole itinerary for the weekend, much to Jack's amusement, but I think he's glad about me being organised.

Walk 1: 'Trellech Beacon'
First stop was just outside of Trellech, to a Forestry Commission car park. Once parked, we donned the walking boots (my new walking boots have been well and truly christened this weekend) and an excitable Barry was very pleased to be out of the car and ready to explore. Our first walk consisted of an easy 3.5 mile walk around woodland and heathland, also taking in the beautiful Cleddon Falls. It was the perfect way to ease us into the Wye Valley, with beautiful views too. Barry loved drinking and splashing in Cleddon Falls and relished jumping from rock to rock too, we swear he's part Mountain Goat!

Our route

Barry the Mountain Goat

I absolutely loved this mossy wall

Splashing around Cleddon Falls

Part of Cleddon Falls

After Walk 1, we got back into the car and drove back into England to a lovely place called Clearwell, where we stopped at The Butchers Arms for some lunch. The staff here were very friendly and it was lovely to talk about places nearby and about Jack Russells too. Barry was more than happy to sit under the table while we ate some lunch, to see if Jack or I would drop a chip! I did come prepared though and he gobbled up a chew pretty quickly. We then got back into the car (much to Barry's disgust - he's been a very good boy with all the car journeys this weekend though) and headed back onto Wales' side of the Wye Valley and onto Penallt, near Monmouth where we were staying on Saturday night.

I booked a B&B room a while back at the lovely 'Inn at Penallt'. It looked like a great location for some walks, was pet friendly and the menu for the evening looked good too (always thinking with my stomach). We parked up the car as it was too early to check in and instead headed off on the next walk I had planned - all walks I found via Google, I'll provide links at the end of the blog.

Walk 2: 'The Penallt-imate' (Jack's name for it!)
This walk was slightly longer than our first walk at 4 miles, but considerably more a 'hiking' route as opposed to walking, with various terrains and hills (my they were hills!). This walk took in woodlands carpeted with Bluebells, open grassland while walking along the River Wye, a couple of pubs along the way (we stopped at one) and a small amount of roadwork (Where we only met one car the whole time). I loved this walk, it was certainly tough in places climbing up through steep woodland, but the views were fantastic and the River Wye looked lovely in the sunshine. I'd certainly like to come back again in the summer when the trees are full of leaves. We stopped at The Boathouse pub for a quick drink part-way around this circular walk before continuing on through beautiful Bluebell woodlands. The climb was tiring on the way up but when you reach the old church at Penallt you're rewarded with stunning views.

Our route

River Wye

The noser/poser

"Come on Mum, keep up!"

Old Church at Penallt

Great views when we had a rest at the church before the final climb back to where we were staying

We finally made it back to the Inn at Penallt feeling a little weary and rather hot in the sunshine and big coats. We checked into our room which was a lovely cosy room separate from the main pub and overlooked the pretty gardens. As soon as Jack had lifted Barry's crate into the room, Barry went straight into it and fell fast asleep, I think we wore him out! We had a little rest for a short while too and a nice shower before leaving Barry with his dinner while we went for ours. I'd had a quick nose at the menu before I booked us in and it sounded great but I wasn't expecting such fantastic food (food in general was good when you're tired and hungry!). I had a lovely leek and potato soup to start, followed by pork belly. Jack of course had dessert too but I was feeling rather tired and full by that stage. The food was delicious and the pub was very popular so a great atmosphere too. You are able to eat in the bar side of the pub with your dog if you want to but as Barry was so tired we decided to leave him to happily snooze in the room.

Fantastic food in the pub for dinner, an added bonus after a day of walking

We slept well on Saturday night and woke up feeling ready for some more walking on Sunday. The breakfast included in our stay was so yummy; we picked from a menu the evening before so it was cooked fresh once you arrived at your table. It set us up for the day and not long afterwards we checked out of the room and drove towards Abergavenny for our final walk.

Tasty Full Welsh Breakfast

Walk 3: Blorenge Mountain
We drove to the 'foxhunter' car park part-way up Blorenge Mountain. Once out of the car the walking route to the top of the mountain is nearby and is mostly over rocky upland, though can be a bit boggy and slippery in places (cue filthy dog and lots of rock jumping too!). It was quite chilly as we set off, although the sun shone which did keep us a little warmer. It was a fun walk to the top; Barry is incapable of walking, he instead chooses to run and bounce everywhere, but he had us in stitches trying to leap over some of the boggiest areas. Sometimes he'd run straight through them covering himself in mud and then other times he'd leap like a Gazelle over them. It didn't take too long to reach the top and front of the mountain where we sat down overlooking Abergavenny below. The views were fantastic as the weather was so bright and clear and we had lots of sheep grazing around us too (as responsible dog owners Barry was back on his lead at this point so as not to scare the sheep and their lambs, even though he didn't show too much of an interest in them anyway). We then headed back the way we came, choosing a slightly rockier route to pretend we too were Mountain Goats! In all this was just under a 3 mile walk.

Our route

So glad we remembered our hats!

Rock climbing can be added to Barry's favourite hobbies

My Two Favourites xx

Barry & I


View from Blorenge Mountain of Abergavenny below

Blurry photo as my shutter speed wasn't correct but it gives you an idea of how Barry chooses to get around!

Flying Jack Russell Again!

We got back to the car, attempted to clean some of the mud off of Bazza before heading back down the mountain and into Abergavenny. We found a Waitrose and bought ourselves a sandwich for lunch to see us through the journey home and ate it in the car park while Barry chomped on a chew I gave him. We then set off home, going back through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

We had a fantastic time and it's shown us just how stress-free it is to pop in the car, drive a couple of hours to somewhere different to enjoy a walking holiday together. We're already looking into some other holidays and I definitely want to return to Wales soon (suggestions of where to go next are appreciated). Barry still isn't massively keen on the car, but there was no sickness at all this weekend and other than a small amount of panting and crying as we arrived at our destinations he was as good as gold. He was so exhausted on Sunday that when we got all the way home after a 2 hour car journey we were amazed as we pulled onto our gravel driveway and didn't hear a peep from him in the boot. When we opened the boot he was squinting back at us with a wrinkled face, he'd obviously been fast asleep the whole way home! I gave him a good bath on Sunday afternoon as the boggy mud was hard to get off, and he then promptly curled up in my lap to dry off and snooze. We all went to bed early on Sunday night!

This is where Barry loves to dry off after a bath, wrapped in a towel on my lap!

Sorry that this post has been so photo-heavy! I have to say it was lovely getting the camera back out again though and the photography bug has returned! I've included a few links below to the walks we completed and where we stayed. It's really worth a visit!

Helpful Links:
The Inn at Penallt B&B; 
Walk 3: Blorenge Mountain;
The Boat Inn, Penallt;

Em x

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Throwback Thursday: Barry's First Pub Trip!

Taken last year of Jack with a cheeky smile on his face and a little Barry in his arms; this was one of Barry's first walks to the village pub where he instantly became a hit (we're told not to bother coming to the pub unless we bring him with us!)

Dog Walks: Greenham Common, Newbury, West Berkshire

I'm afraid I stupidly forgot my camera and then my phone went flat half way around, but I did manage to get just one photo of Barry enjoying his walk at Greenham Common.

I used to come to Greenham Common a lot when we first moved to Newbury; I missed all of the RSPB nature reserves back in East Anglia and so I was thrilled to discover this place. Walk-wise it's very easy and flat with stone track all the way around (our walk was around 2.5 miles yesterday). The gorse looks so pretty at the moment and it's great to see so much wildlife (mainly birds, but on warmer days it's quite common to see snakes). I enjoyed a lovely walk here last night with my friend and Barry enjoyed running between all of the gorse. The dark rain clouds threatened above but luckily they held off right until the moment we got back in our cars to drive to my friend's house.

We enjoyed a nice evening catching up with our friends then and Barry was completely worn out having raced around Greenham Common at 100mph! He also didn't think much to going in and out of the car so frequently but he's definitely getting better, slowly but surely.

Not a great photo but here he is fast asleep in my arms, always has to be as near to me as possible in case I decide to leave him! He'd snuggled right in and looks like a little person here! My little limpet.

Em x

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Weekend; Dog Show & Huge Roast Dinner!

Hi all, hope you're all well!

I'm a little late in writing a weekend blog post but better late than never! Did you all have a nice weekend? We had glorious sunshine on Saturday morning, though it was chilly, followed by rain and then more sunshine on Sunday so we can't really complain. I'm very glad that we made the most of the sunshine on Saturday morning as the heavens really did open that afternoon.

We enjoyed a trip out Saturday morning to the All About Dogs Show at Newbury showground. We attended last year and found it good fun and it was nice to see lots of people there again this year. There's a flower and garden show on at the same time which you get free entry into when attending the dog show and so it was nice to buy some bargain plants too. Barry enjoyed meeting lots of dogs of all shapes and sizes; he was quite nervous, as always, around other dogs but that's exactly why we go to these types of events where he'll hopefully meet lots of friendly dogs. He was amazed at watching the K9 Aqua event where the dogs launch themselves into the water after a tennis ball. I think he'd have been good at this as he loves tennis balls and loves water but he wasn't going to let me out of his sight and there's no way I was going for a swim! We did however take part in the hurdles which Barry really enjoyed. I waited at the other end and he flew over the straw bales to get back to his mummy as quickly as possible! He went so quick he almost somersaulted over the last! He was so tired by the time we got home that he almost seemed glad when we told him we were popping out without him!

Happy worn out dog

Jack and I popped into Newbury on Saturday afternoon; we bought some dinner from the butchers and bought me my very first pair of walking boots! I live in my wellies at home when out walking and they're so comfy and versatile that I don't feel like I need better walking shoes, however we're off to Wales this weekend and I feel like walking boots will be a good purchase as I'll live in them from now on! I tried on numerous pairs, some felt so heavy on my size 4 feet! I eventually found a pair I really liked; they're very comfy and quite lightweight and I've worn them on a few dog walks now and they're great for supporting my weak ankles (how do you build muscle up on your ankles?!). I'm sure I'll rack up plenty of miles in them anyway; my Fitbit informed me this morning that since last Autumn when Jack bought my Fitbit for me as a Birthday present, I've walked the length of Italy - 736 miles to be precise! Although that obviously includes miles you do around the house when doing housework and we all know just how much ground you cover darting from kitchen, to living room etc.

My first pair of walking boots!

We had a nice quiet Saturday evening finally catching up on the Night Manager (BBC 1 TV drama series). It was very good, Tom Hiddleston is a great actor and I can see why they've now put him in the running as a potential 007 of the future, though I still wish Daniel Craig would continue as he's a great Bond. We had an indoor barbeque on Saturday for dinner; we bought marinated ribs and chicken wings from the butchers, all reduced as they don't open Sunday and wanted rid of them. Very tasty and I can't wait for outdoor barbeques.

I also spent Saturday evening baking a fruit loaf for my Nan and Step Grandad as we were visiting them on Sunday for a roast dinner and catch up. Syd has a sweet tooth so I knew he'd be over the moon if I turned up with a cake for him. I also bought Nan a beautiful bunch of flowers.

Fruit Loaf for Syd

And Flowers for Nan

We had a lovely roast dinner at Nan's on Sunday; she did far too much food as per usual but Nan is famous for that! My brother and his girlfriend joined us too which made Nan's day, she loves to see her grandchildren and it was lovely to catch up. Both Nan and Syd were also very pleased to have Barry there too for lots of cuddles, sadly they had their Boxer, Daisy, put to sleep a few weeks ago, so they feel very lost having had dogs in the house continually for over two decades. Daisy lived to a very good age for a Boxer though and was totally spoilt, so I keep reminding Nan that she lived the most wonderful pampered life with them. Barry was a very good boy anyway and did stay still briefly to be cuddled to death by both Nan and Syd (they treat him as if he is a great grandchild!).

My Nan was fascinated by my brother's selfie stick - I always laugh when I see people with them but it was the best way to get us all in this photo.

Nan cooked roast beef and pork chops, "because you can't have just one meat", along with a field's worth of broccoli, cabbage, parsnips, carrots, brussel sprouts, roast potatoes AND new potatoes! Nan also did one of her famous Yorkshire puddings, which we all passed around as if it were a hat and tore off a piece (it's tradition in our family!). This huge dinner was then followed up with strawberries and ice cream. It was lovely chatting away with Nan and Syd anyway and I felt guilty when we had to head home again, but it's a two hour journey each way to Bedfordshire so we wanted to be able to get home and make lunches etc. for work on Monday. Nan as usual sent me home with half the contents of her freezer; a whole chicken, a gigantic gammon joint, steak for Jack and bacon. She tried to send me home with a 4kg pork joint too but there was no way that beast would fit in my freezer sadly! So instead she replaced said pork joint with a dozen fresh eggs from their hens and some chews for Barry.

Beautiful fresh eggs from Nan's hens, laid that day

So it was a lovely weekend of dog shows, a little bit of gardening and family time. Lovely! I'm counting down to the end of the month when my parents return from their latest trip out to France, I've really missed them this time and it's feeling like a really long time so I'm really looking forward to seeing them at the end of this month. I said 'really' a lot!

I'm also very excited for our trip to Wales this weekend! I surprised Jack for Valentines by booking us in at a lovely B&B Pub that's pet friendly too so we're going for a mini holiday. It's my first time to Wales too which is exciting as the scenery looks stunning. We're off to the Wye Valley; it's less than 2 hours' drive from home and looks like there are plenty of walks to explore, which Barry will love. We're staying in Penallt, not far from Monmouth and I've already planned our walks while we're there (just staying Saturday night but heading there early Saturday morning to get two full days there). I've planned for us to head towards Abergavenny on Sunday and we're going to do a walk on Blorenge mountain, so that's exciting. If anyone has been to the Wye Valley and can recommend walks, places to visit etc. then please do let me know. As I say, it's a totally new area to us so I'm only planning walks based on my internet research. I hope the weather is nice, regardless we will still have fun!

Have a good week all!

Em x

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Winter or Spring?

This weather keeps playing with us; one minute we get lovely blue skies and sunshine coaxing the new leaves to appear on the trees and persuading the bees to come out looking for colour in our gardens... then the next minute you can see your own breath again as you walk the dog in torrential cold downpours!

Funnily enough I don't take photos when out walking in the rain, therefore below are two nicer, happier, sunnier photos!

Send Us Your Country Blog Swap

I have taken part in my first blog swap and it was really good fun! I took part in the 'send us your country' blog swap via the lovely Creative Chaos who hosts lots of fun blog swaps.

My swap partner was Lyn and I was very excited to find she lives in Australia! I received the most beautiful gifts from Lyn in my swap box and really she has totally put me to shame on finding such wonderful presents related to her country. We exchanged a few emails prior to our swap to get an understanding of what we're both like, what we like spending our spare time doing etc. and I'm pleased we've also found each other on Instagram where Lyn posts some gorgeous photos of her quilting and patchwork projects, as well as her lovely dogs.

Lyn's gifts to me are so perfect for what I love doing; I received two brilliant cookie cutters, one in the shape of Australia and the other a cute little Koala, I can't wait to bake some biscuits with those soon, Shortbread in the shape of Australia will be a novelty! I'm pretty sure Jack will nab the pecan nuts too, they're his favourite (you must be psychic Lyn!)

I received a lovely yarn bag which will be perfect for holding my crochet hooks when I take my crochet on trips with me; we're off to my parents soon as the crochet hooks usually end up getting lost in the bottom of my handbag! I adore the soap too, it smells divine!

I'm obsessed with stationery bits like pens, keyrings etc. so I love these bits Lyn got me, the little boomerang magnet is now on our fridge!

The tea towel is such pretty colours along with the oven glove, bright and colourful is just what I love! I love the coasters too and have already made use of them in the conservatory where I discovered mugs keep getting left on the MDF of the tortoise's indoor run and leaving beautiful rings!

And last but by no means least, I am completely IN LOVE with the mug Lyn got me! I have found it almost impossible to find a nice Jack Russell mug here and have been looking for one and this is perfect! The Jack Russells on it are so cute and I love it! It's beautiful bone china too which I love, I'm a delicate drinker and not very good with big heavy mugs!

So to say I was pleased and impressed is an understatement, thank you so much Lyn for the wonderful thought you put into the presents I received from you, It arrived on Friday when I'd had a long tiring day and I was so touched by it all. I only hope the gifts I have sent Lyn are pleasing to her, though she's most definitely out-done with me with these beautiful items.

If you'd like to take part in a blog swap then do take a look at Creative Chaos' blog; her blog is wonderful (and always so colourful) anyway, and the blog swaps are such good fun. I feel like I've now made a friend in Lyn and definitely feel like part of the blogging community. I'd definitely like to take part in another one.

Em x