Monday, 28 October 2019

Bringing in Autumn with the Bumble Biggie in The New Forest *Ad Gifted

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. The leaves are turning, there's a chill in the air and it's still a great time to go camping. So when Bumble Campers asked me if I'd like to try out their "Bumble Biggie" I jumped at the chance.

Bumble Biggie

I've worked with Bumble Campers on a gifting basis twice before, using their traditional Bumble Bus 2 sleepers to travel to The Peak District and to The Lake District for a wedding. Both trips were brilliant so I was keen to road test the Bumble Biggie and see how it compared.

Bumble Campers Bumble Biggie

It's safe to say this camper is more than comfortable for two people, having a large living area inside equipped with kitchen, area, sink, cupboard storage, shelving and a seating area converting into a full size double bed. You can also stand up fully in this van which is great for moving around and the built in lights are perfect for the darker autumn evenings.

So with the perfect place to call home for the weekend, we set off to The New Forest in search of autumn colours, wild ponies and tasty food.

I got the inspiration to visit The New Forest from travel blogger Jess who had said how beautiful it was and that she'd plan to go back again in autumn sometime. I'm so glad I took her up on her recommendation as the forest did not disappoint when it came to beautiful burnt oranges, red and yellows of the falling leaves and wild mushrooms growing everywhere.

There was also talk of wild ponies being about. Before travelling down I did wonder if we'd be lucky enough to see any roaming about but it turns out there are lots of them and they're dotted around all over. We came across plenty on our walks through the forest as well as driving to our destinations.

She's A Gentry, the New Forest

You're advised not to feed or go near the ponies but as you can see some of them are rather friendly and inquisitive!

Whilst in the New Forest we visited a lovely village known as Burley. This picturesque village in set in the heart of the new forest with ponies and cattle grazing and roaming freely and its stooped in history also, having a pub dating back to the 16th century which was used by smugglers and highwaymen. It's also where the famous white witch Sybil Leek lived and there's even a gift shop called "Coven of Witches". It's the perfect place to visit around Halloween. Whilst we were there they had lots of Halloween themed stalls, fancy dress competitions and more which definitely helped to get you in the Halloween mood.

We also ventured to another place on Jess' recommendation known as The Pig. This beautiful hotel and restaurant is tucked away in Brokenhurst and is the perfect place to relax, unwind and have impeccable food.

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

 The dining of The Pig is known as the "Conservatory Restaurant" full of beautiful rustic charm with herbs and plants growing throughout. All of the food is locally sourced, making the menu contemporary and ever changing with whats in season in the area. The Pig has it's own kitchen garden and greenhouse which make up the produce for the days menu and the food is just divine.

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

They also have a commitment to source their produce from within a 25 mile radius of the restaurant, meaning they support local suppliers and the ingredients are always what is in season at that time.

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

The Pig Hotel, New Forest

The food tasted absolutely gorgeous and incredibly fresh and it was well worth a visit.

She's A Gentry

We had a little wander around the grounds after lunch and I couldn't help but have a little look in the greenhouse! I'd definitely like to visit The Pig again and perhaps even stay. They have spa treatments, accommodation and lovely walks which would make for another lovely weekend away!

So that was our trip to The New Forest! I'm definitely going to hire the Bumble Biggie in future. It's my favourite camper van from Bumble Campers to date and made our camping trip comfortable and cosy for autumn getaway/ The New Forest was also a great place to visit and definitely got us in the autumn mood. I definitely want to return and explore more of the area as it's so lovely and I'd highly recommend it for this time of year!

Have you tried the Bumble Biggie or been to the New Forest?

* I was kindly gifted the use of Bumble Camper's Bumble Biggie for the weekend in exchange for social media coverage. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Finding Running in my Thirties

This is a post that quite honestly I never thought I'd be writing in a million years. My relationship with exercise over the years had been next to non existent until March this year.

Having hit 30 years of age in December 2018, I thought I was content and happy with my rather laid back (read lazy) lifestyle. That was until I decided to do a Parkrun on a whim when visiting my Dad...

I hadn't done a Parkrun in around three years but thought to myself it's "only a 5k, I can do that easy!" Having done no exercise let alone running for three years I soon realized a mile in that actually it's really quite hard. I couldn't breathe and everything hurt which led me to give up and that point I thought oh f*ck and cried... At that moment it dawned on me just how unfit I was and if I didn't do anything about it now, it would only get worse as I got older. I was also quite angry at myself for letting myself give up so easily and not have the will power to continue so two days later I downloaded the "Couch to 5k" app and my love for running was born.

I remember my first few runs with the couch to 5k app, running for 90 seconds then walking for 60 and so on but it was manageable and thought- yes finally I've found something I enjoy! Being outdoors and in the countryside ignited so many feelings of joy for nature and the feeling of freedom- something that has massively helped to improve my mental health. Before I knew it I'd completed the twelve week challenge and could run a full 5k- something I don't think I'd ever done before. Yes I could run a 5k before that but did I stop to walk a bit? Yes. Do I do that now? Nope! And that's what led me to head to Run Fest Run- a running event that i'd highly recommend to all runners but especially newbie runners like myself as the atmosphere, the community, the people and the fun races really help to boost your confidence!

During my couch to 5k running, a friend of mine recommended a book called "Running Like a Girl" by Alexandra Hemmingsley. I bought it straight away and oh my goodness the way that woman writes about running is simply mesmerising. She talks about everything from people in her life being pessimistic about her running a marathon, to completing several marathons and how running has helped her not only with her fitness but to build relationships with her family and friends. Her words were so uplifting to me that when the 2019 London Marathon was televised- i signed up... At this point I couldn't even run 5k but fuelled by Alexandra's words and a passion for my new found exercise, I signed up to the ballot and then shortly after signed up to the Manchester Marathon on the advice that you're guaranteed a spot if you sign up before a certain date.

So that near enough brings me to present day... I've signed up for a flipping marathon!! Having completed a 5k, the next challenge for me was a 10k and weirdly I managed to run further than that 4 weeks before the race! This really gave me the confidence I needed to know I could run the race. The race itself was the Bedford Twilight 10k which I did on my own. To tell you that I was a "tad" nervous is an understatement...Having ran 5k races with my husband prior, he was like my security blanket and would spur me on during the runs but this time I only had myself to rely on. As hard as it was, it gave me real character building and I proved to myself that I can do it and that I'm more resilient than I realised.

I'm currently training for a half marathon later in the year before the full on marathon in April whoop!

So what has running taught me?

Firstly, I find running is amazing for your mental health. I'd been hearing the likes of Fearne Cotton, Chris Evans, Vassos etc bang on about running many times before and thought oh for goodness sake it cant be that great but once you get into it, it really helps to clear your head and it's almost like being in a meditative state. When I run I feel all my worries, anxiety and fears disparate around me and all I concentrate on are my beautiful surroundings, my feet hitting the ground and my breathing. I love to run to music too and certain tracks on my playlist add to that feeling of freedom and happiness. And it's true what they say about the endorphins (who else thinks of dolphins when that word is used). I adore the feeling running gives me. It's much better than any drug, shopping splurge or alcohol can give you. If running is an addiction it's a bloody good one.

Now yes running can be wonderous and gorgeous and make you feel euphoric but don't get me wrong it can be bloody tough too. There are days when I really can't be bothered but hand on heart I can always say that regardless of how I feel prior to a run, I never regret a run once I'm finished. It's a sense of achievement and being like "wow" my body is amazing.

Through building up my mileage I have seen a change in my body. I haven't really lost weight as such but I've noticed that my legs feel strong and solid now. You can't grab jiggle anymore and my legs crave the pavement if I haven't run in a few days.

So that's my news and the best thing I've discovered since turning 30. I'll probably do some more running related posts on the lead up to the marathon and like I say it's really a brilliant tool for your mental health which has led me to run for Mind- the mental health charity for the Manchester Marathon. If you fancy sponsoring me you can donate here-

In the meantime, come say hi on Strava and talk to me all you like about running because I bloody love it!

Sunday, 1 September 2019

The Daily Goal Setter* and how I Organise My Life

Its been a while since I’ve posted. Summer has been busy but now that its September, I’m ready to get my sh*t together and get organised again. I always feel like a new school year is also a fresh start for us working lot too and I’ve been putting into practice some goal setting and mindfulness through the Daily Goal Setter plus some other tips on tricks on how to get organised. 

photo of She's A Gentry using her Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mal Paper

I was very kindly sent the Daily goal Setter from Mal Paper and on first impressions I thought it looked pretty damn gorgeous, especially teamed with my Kate Spade handbag. How sad am I? haha. But yes looks wise it is oh so pretty yet simplistic and the quality is definitely there, making it feel luxe and I was eager to use it. The first few pages give examples of how to list your to dos and weekly overview which is excellent for setting you up in the right frame of mind to tackle your chores and run those errands in a productive and effective way.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mal Paper

So what makes this planner stand out from the rest? Well, it’s not just about being productive with this planner but also takes into consideration the need to be mindful. A lot of us can get carried away with ploughing through a to do list without stopping to think about hat we’ve appreciated or our affirmation for that day. Admittedly on some particularly bad days I found it somewhat difficult to decide what I was grateful for but it does make you stop and think and realise that a) it’s not all bad and b) you still have wonderful things to be thankful for in your life despite what other crap may be going on. I also love that at the end of the day it asks you to reflect on your day so it’s almost like a brief diary that you can look back and summarise.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mal Paper

Another key part of the goal setter I’ve found incredibly useful and such an ingenious simple touch is the idea of prioritising your list. Anything on the A list is a definite requirement whereas B1. B 2 etc could be if I’m on a good run and C1. C2. I would class as the if I get chance/ if the mood strikes me type task. This has freed up my head so much to think right what I can realistically get done today, what must I get done today, what would I like to do but isn’t urgent. For an obsessively organised person like myself this little tool has been a life saver and helped me to really think about what is important.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mal Paper

So how do I organise myself aside from a planner? Well as I say I love to be organised and ahead of myself so that future me is less stressed and worries less. They’re simple things, some more obvious than others but here’s what I’ve found works for me.

photo of She's A Gentry using her Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mal Paper

Other Tips

- Sync notes for the food shop
Yup. Sod scrappy bits of paper and wondering who’s turn it is to go get the shop! If you have an iPhone and live with a partner, friend r whatever, add them to a notes list! It syncs with their phone so when you add something to the food list they get it too. This has revolutionized shopping in our house as when one of us uses the last of an item, we add it to the list and voila its bought rather than thinking “ooh must add that to scrappy paper list” and then forget. You always have your phone with you but a paper food shop list? Not so much. 

- Reminders reminders reminders. 
Again another iPhone feature but I’m sure android devices must have a similar function. I add reminders to go off on my phone all the time. No joke I have them go off everyday. From silly things to, get some chicken out the freezer to, doctors appointment tomorrow, I have it all on my reminders. Who wants to store their brain with things to remember when you can brain dump it onto your phone and forget about it? Use your memory for much more interesting things rather than oh god I forgot to buy cat litter again, sigh… 

- Batch meals
Not only are these cheap to mass make and freeze but I find them so handy to get organised. I can write out a weekly food menu and know that a couple of times that week (or hell even all week if I have enough batch meals frozen), I can not cook and save time. I also know that I don’t need to add hundreds of fresh ingredients to that weekly shop that I won’t end up using, thus saving money too. Plus a quick microwaved batch meal is so handy on evenings when you have plans and don’t have time to cook! Stews are a big yes, lasagne, anything pasta really and you know a hearty meal is sorted.

- Sunday night prep 
This is the biggest of all my organisation hacks which I do every single week without fail. First things first is lunch prep. I make chicken salad for the next three days…I’ve found three days yup! Some of you may be thinking eew gross but honestly how fresh do you think the pre-made ones are in the supermarkets. Three days is the maximum I’ve found with salad staying fresh and for me I then know I have lunch made up until Wednesday next week and I have an extra portion of time each night after work or before work in the mornings- hurrah! The next one is ironing. I know a lot of people iron as they go or in fact don’t iron at all but I have a uniform and if it’s not been ironed it look like a bag of d*ck. So I iron for the week and know that when I go to wear said uniform it’s ready to go, b ish bash bosh.

- Night before prep
 If you come to my house the night before work my kitchen will have my plate, cup and cutlery laid out ready for the next morning. I even have my lunch bag prepped with non fridge needed drink and snacks! Call me crazy but honestly I am not a morning person so anything to make the day start easier and I’m all for it. It takes just seconds for me to do the night before whereas on the morning when I’m slugglish and still waking up I’ve been known to put orange juice on my cereal and the kettle in the fridge…

So those are just some of my little tips and tricks. They won’t be for everyone but for me they work and honestly I find myself feel a lot less stressed because of it. I hate being unorganised and I love to plan and prep. My brain likes it.

photo of She's A Gentry using her Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mal Paper

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any hacks of your own I would LOVE to read them in the comments!

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Dorset Weekender- Where to go on a whistle stop tour

It's been a little while since I blogged of late and to be honest I get pretty busy over the summer with things like travelling to Dorset for an epic weekend.

She's A Gentry

I wasn't planning on blogging about this trip but it was such a blast and I snapped so many photos, it felt almost rude not to!

Brownsea Castle

We headed to Poole in Dorset last Friday afternoon and started the weekend with a Dorset Gin Cruise aboard then "Dorset Queen" with BH1 Gin as the main showcase gin of the evening.

The cruise itself was utterly gorgeous, getting to snap away in front of the Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck.

Dorset Cruises Review

Dorset Cruises review

BH1 Gin review

So what was the gin like? Well the BH1 gin was gorgeous and my kinda gin, being very botanical. It actually contains 13 different botanical elements from juniper to pink grapefruit and even coriander!

As well as the BH1 gin there was a large array of other gins to choose from and cocktails too, with French 75s being a firm favourite on my list.

Dorset Cruises review

Dorset Cruises review

The cruise was just gorgeous, the atmosphere high with excitement and merriment from gin and the views simply breathtaking.

She's A Gentry

On Saturday we got a whistle stop tour of the area, starting with The Priory Hotel in Wareham for a spot of coffee and to soak up the sunshine.

The Priory Hotel, Wareham

This place reminded me so much  of the chateau Chris and I stayed in in France a few years back (this place) and to be honest with the weather being so glorious, we could've well been at a french chateau! 

I'd definitely love to stay here in the future as the hotel itself was just as gorgeous as the grounds and their afternoon teas look divine too.

Durlston Castle view

Next we headed up the Jurassic Coast to Durlston Country Park and up Durlston Castle for a spot of lunch. 

views from Durlston Castle

views from Durlston Castle

Again we had spectacular views of the coastline and could see the Old Harry Rocks from a different angle as well as Poole Bay. There are lots of amazing walks and trails to explore here but as it was a whistle stop tour, we didn't get to explore. Again this is somewhere I'd love to return to as the walks looked awesome.

Brownsea Castle

Our final stop was an island. Brownsea Island to be precise where we went to Brownsea Castle for a spot of tea and cake.

Brownsea Castle

views from Brownsea Castle

Brownsea Castle

The castle itself is stunning and has a mix of architectural style due to being renovated over the centuries and in the grounds you can see deer, chickens and even red squirrels roaming around. We saw a red squirrel during our visit which just made my day, having never seen one in real life before!

The views and even the architecture as well as the Italian garden made us feel as though we were abroad. 

Italian Garden at Brownsea Castle

Italian Garden at Brownsea Castle

We were very privileged to have the opportunity to go in the hotel itself as its not actually open to the public but the island itself is definitly worth a visit for the wildlife views and more.

After all the tour stops on Saturday we headed back to Poole Harbour to the awesome boat we'd been staying on and drank way into the small hours.

If you're looking for a quick trip to Dorset, i'd definitely recommend visiting all these places in a 48-72 hour period but of course if you have longer I'm sure you could see much more or even just embrace these places that I did a whistle stop tour of.

Have you been to Dorset? Where would you recommend?

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