I’m Volunteering with Brownies!

Hi everyone!

So just a short post today, buy I wanted to share something new and exciting that I’ve got involved with – volunteering with the Brownies section of Girl Guiding! Girl Guides are split into sections by age- Rainbows are ages 5-7, Brownies 7-10, Guides 10-14 And in some districts, Rangers, which are ages 14-18.

I’m training to be a Brownies Unit Leader, and was influenced by my lovely colleague who is a Guides County Commissioner. I hope to make a difference and give the girls and exciting and memorable experience with Brownies.

I had my first meeting last night, but only two girls turned up, so we think we’re going to combine with another unit of Brownies in a neighbouring village to ensure we have a sustainable group. I’ve been so worried that the girls wouldn’t like me, and I’m still worried in case they didn’t as they didn’t talk to me very much, but I’m telling myself that kids will not trust easily and they have to get to know you first, so fingers crossed they will. They were both very polite and well-behaved so that was lovely. We did have a lovely evening, which involved baking Apple Spice Muffins which were delicious! (And so perfectly Autumnal). Having never been involved in Brownies or Guides or anything growing up, I’m not very clued up on what goes on but I’m very keen to learn, and I’m finding it really interesting.

Has anyone else volunteered in the Girl Guides, Brownies or Rainbows, or something similar? Or work with children in general? Let me know in the comments, any advice would be very much appreciated!

Thanks for reading!

Michelle xx

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Hello September!

I don’t actually know where this year has gone, but it is officially September! I am incredibly excited for Autumn and everything it involves: beautiful colours, crisp mornings, cosy nights, Starbucks/Costa Autumn drinks, Halloween, my hometown’s annual fair, toffee, cinnamon, apple and pumpkin everything, warm jumpers, the build up to Christmas… I really could go on and on! I also have lots of Autumnal blog posts planned so I’m really excited to write them and share them with you all.

I’ve decided to try and do a post like this on the first day of every month, to go over my goals for the month and to recap the previous one. Within my goals, I think i’m going to set myself a followers target to reach at the end of that month. I’d just like to clarify that I did not start blogging for views and followers, I started it because I love writing and wanted an outlet, but I’ve seen so many other posts like this and I don’t think that there is anything wrong with trying to grow your followers and setting yourself goals to achieve!

August Recap

August has been a really busy month! From having family over from the USA, to day trips around the UK, to eating my own body weight in ice cream and spending some time with family and friends. I started to get a little more organised by planning my blog posts up until Christmas so that has really propelled my blogging excitement and ambitions!

Goals for September

At the time of writing this post, my current follower figures are:

Blog – 243 Instagram – 418 Twitter – 699

Here are my goals for this month:

Blog – 400 Instagram – 600 Twitter – 800

I’ve tried to set workable goals for myself and I’ll see how it goes; I will report back on how it goes on October 1st. Please do go ahead and follow my Instagram and my Twitter and subscribe to this blog if you enjoy my content! I’d be so grateful! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve written down a few ideas of posts to write this month, and I hope to use as many as I can this month. As the nights draw in I cannot think of anything I would rather do in the evenings than relax with a hot chocolate and my laptop. With The Great British Bake Off back on our screens (screams with excitement) I am keen to get baking, I’ve also got quite a few books to read and beauty and skincare product reviews planned!

Here’s to September! It’s going to be a wonderful month I hope!

What are your plans for September? What do you love most about Autumn? Let me know in the comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for reading!

Michelle xx

Exploring Oxford

It is truly amazing that you can live near somewhere your whole life, but never really SEE it. My home city of Oxford is really one of those places. I wasn’t until family from the USA visited that I did anything touristy, because you seem to take everything for granted when it’s where you’ve grown up, or in my case I did anyway. I went to college in Oxford and I was walking through the Oxford Castle Quarters every day to get there from the bus stop and I didn’t bat an eyelid, and I was ironically studying to get into university to study history! So now, after doing some actual exploring, I’d like to share some top tips about visiting Oxford and where you should go, but I would also welcome any tips from anyone who has visited, because it is wonderful to feel like a tourist in your own city!

The Radcliffe Camera, Oxford. Photo taken 24th August 2018.

Top Ten Things To Do:

1. Oxford Castle. You can take a guided tour around the remains of the castle, which date back to the Norman era. A must do.

2. St Michael’s Church and Saxon Tower. Just off of the bustling Cornmarket Street is this beautiful church. With the tower dating back to 1040, it is considered the oldest remaining building in Oxford. The views from the top are incredible!

3. Explore Oxford University Colleges and buildings. Of course, Oxford is most famous for its world-class university. There are many colleges that comprise of the university, and each are as grand as each other. Take a guided walking tour around the colleges and the Bodleian Library, Radliffe Camera, Sheldonian Theatre and Christ Church, where

4. Go Punting. This is a must do and a fun activity! Hire a punting boat from Magdalen Bridge (you can fit up to 6 people in one boat) and have endless hours of fun while participating in an Oxford tradition.

5. Visit the Turf Tavern! Now unfortunately this tavern isn’t a good as it used to be in my opinion, as it’s now own by the commercial budget company that I’m sure you’ve heard of – Greene King (sighs), so isn’t as unique and wonderful as it once was. However it’s still worth a visit as the foundations and use of this site as a tavern date back to 1381! It’s hidden away down a winding narrow alleyway near the Bridge of Sighs (a pivotal photography spot when you’re visiting Oxford).

6. Go shopping! The new Westgate Shopping Centre is the main shopping district, offering many big name brands, high street retailers and copious places to eat and drink. Nearby Clarenden Centre offers more of these stores, while Queen Street and Cornmarket Street add to the variety.

7. Get in touch with nature. Even though you’re in the city, the University Parks offer the perfect place for a picnic or a stroll and the Oxford Botanic Gardens are absolutely beautiful to walk around, offering a sense of tranquillity while surrounded by a busy city.

8. Take an open top bus ride. Open top bus tours always provide and insight into the city you’re visiting, and Oxford is not the exception! Google ‘city sightseeing Oxford’ to book your tickets!

9. Tour the museums! Being such a historical city, it’s no wonder that there are an abundance of museums to choose from! The Natural History Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Ashmolean all offer a fundamental and educational experience for all who visit.

10. Enjoy a pub crawl in Jericho. There are many wonderful taverns and bars to choose from in the north of the city, a few of the best being the Old Bookbinder’s Ale House, the Eagle and Child, the Lamb and Flag, Rickety Press, the Duke of Cambridge and Jude the Obscure.

Further afield

These places are great if if you want to explore the wider Oxford area but would like to get out of the city centre, each is as different to each other as can be:

1. Around 10 minutes walk from the city centre is Cowley Road, which is home to a colourful vibrant and exotic scene. Restaurants, shops and bars of many different cultures galore, you’ll certainly be taken in by the contrast of the city centre. You can always walk down it and take the bus back, but parking isn’t exactly easy of the road.

2. Binsey and Port Meadow, where Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, often acquainted! Perfect for a walk on the outskirts of the city but away from the hustle and bustle.

3. Take the bus to Woodstock and Blenheim Palace! The birthplace of Winston Churchill and home to the Dukedom of Marlborough. You can read my latest post about Blenheim here.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! Let me know if you’ve visited any of these places, if you’d like to visit Oxford or if you have any more tips for readers in the comments below!

Michelle xx

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Blenheim Palace

Hi everyone!

Today we visited the beautiful Blenheim Palace in West Oxfordshire. I’ve visited before; if you read my post about the Luna Cinema experience at Blenheim you’ll know, but it’s been a little while since I actually toured the palace. I now only live ten minutes away so yesterday we upgraded to an annual pass. You can do this by asking to donate your entry ticket to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation Charity, which is excellent. I have a feeling Blenheim is going to become my second home now!

Blenheim Palace is situated in the outskirts of the historical market town of Woodstock, where there are many places to stay and a wonderful and vast choice of pubs, resturants and cafes to eat and drink in. Blenheim Palace is really easy to get to: it’s just off the A44 and has copious amounts of parking, with overflow parking available in adjacent fields during major events such as Countryfile Live.

I would throughly recommend starting with the palace tour. You will need to keep the receipt of your entry ticket, or your print-out if you booked tickets online, and show this to the lovely people working on the audio guide stall which is in the colonnade just outside the front steps. The audio guides are brilliant: they are really easy to operate, extremely informative and simple to carry. You learn so much about the family line of the Dukedom of Marlborough, the reason why Blenheim was built, who the land came from, why the palace was decorated in such a way and what each room was used for. I won’t tell you any of the details and information, because as exciting as it is, it’s much better to learn it all yourself when you visit!

After the palace tour, the best thing is to have lunch in the Water Terrace cafe, which has a great selection of food and drink. Once you’re full, why not walk it off with a leisurely stroll around the gorgeous landscaped grounds. The courtyards are beautiful, the Great Lake is breathtaking and the rose garden is lovely!

his isn’t all. You can ride the train from the outside of the palace grounds down to the pleasure gardens, which encompasses an exciting maze and a butterfly house, as well as a toy shop, childrens adventure playground and more places to eat and drink. If you do not wish to take the train, you can drive down to the pleasure gardens as there is parking available. There really is so much to do, and it is great fun for all the family.

A member of our party was in a wheelchair, and we found that the vast majority of Blenheim is wheelchair accessible which is great; we also had my one month old niece with us and her stroller!

Blenheim Palace is of course the birthplace of one of the most infamous Briton’s of all time – Sir Winston Churchill. You can learn all about his life in the Chuchill exhibition inside the palace, and the nearby village of Bladon is where he was laid to rest along with his family at St Martin’s Church.

Overall, I would throughly recommend visiting Blenheim Palace! It’s a must do, especially if you live in or around Oxfordshire! I have a history degree from Oxford Brookes University, and I remember in my first year one of my history professors, Professor Dillinger, comically bellowing “if you haven’t been to Blenheim Palace, what are you doing? Get on the bloody bus and go!” in a lecture. That certainly woke everyone up just after 9am on a rainy morning! So really, take my Professor’s advise, and go!

Thanks for reading!

Michelle x

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The Ordinary Foundation Review

So I have read so many reviews about this foundation and the brand itself, and I just had to give it a try! At only ยฃ5.90 from Cult Beauty, you cannot really go wrong.

The Ordinary is owned by Deciem, who do not test on animals, and therefore do not sell their products in China. None of their products include chemicals such as parabens, sulphates, and many others either, so I think it’s clear that this is an ethical and trustworthy brand.

Cult Beauty provides clear shade swatches, and I usually mess up and get completely the wrong shade when buying online but I chose 1.1 N (fair, neutral) and it actually is the most perfect shade for me!

Often, when I buy something so hyped up I end up disappointed. However I was really surprised with the foundation. I have combination skin and I didn’t find it too drying or too oily either. It’s pretty full coverage but doesn’t mask or cake your face either. I did find that it went a little bit oily without using a setting powder, but the second time I used this I set it with a face powder from Revolution and it lasted all day.

I was a bit shocked when this product arrived as it looks really tiny, however it does state that it is 30ml which is pretty standard for a foundation, so I think they’ve just been clever with the packaging.

Overall I am happy with this product and I think it’s good value for money, so I would purchase it again.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried this foundation and what you think about it, or if you have tried any other products from The Ordinary!

Thanks for reading,

Michelle xx

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Artyard Cafe, Enstone, Oxfordshire.

Hey guys!

So I wanted to tell you all about a lovely little gem in Enstone, West Oxfordshire, pretty close to the edge of The Cotswolds – Artyard Cafe. I live about ten minutes from this place so I’ve visited quite a few times and each time it never ceases to amaze me, so I wanted to write a review!

Basically, the Artyard Cafe is a bistro, bar, cafe, restaurant, sports bar, grill, all rolled into one. There generally is something for everyone. Outside is a covered patio area with tables, a projector, pool/snooker table etc,as well as a children’s play area. Then, you head downstairs to the main entrance via a little terrace area that also has seating. Inside there are two rooms: the main cafe, which is as fun and quirky as could ever be imagined, with art everywhere that you are able to purchase (hence the name ‘Artyard’), and a smaller room out the back, known as “the den” which is where you’d go and chill if you just wanted a drink or to watch a sports game. They have wonderful food, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, to snacks, ice cream and freshly baked cake, it’s just amazing.

Today I sat in the den as the cafe room was quite busy (the Sunday roasts are extremely popular), it was chilly and raining outside and my OH wanted to watch the football. I sat in a little nook in the bay windows and it was so cosy, just watching the world go by.. (sidenote: does anyone else find the sound of cars passing really therapeutic? Just me?). I had a pot of tea (tea always tastes best out of a teapot, this is a fact) which was lovely. I posted this photo on my instagram earlier:

I generally do not think there could be a better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon!

I then decided that I was rather peckish and ordered bbq ribs and fries, but i was not prepared for how huge the portion was! (still ate it all though, obviously)

I love how you even get lemon water to wash your hands with after, what a cute, funky idea!

Overall, I really love this place. Excellent value for money, friendly staff and a unique setting. Here is the website which includes the wonderful menu!

Basically, if you live around this area like me or you are just visiting or passing through, you need to check this place out, and I guarantee you will love it!

Thanks for reading!

Michelle xx

*disclaimer – I’m not affiliated with Artyard Cafe in anyway, nor do i know the management or staff personally, I just really really love it!

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Greatest Showman at Luna Cinemas Blenheim Palace

Hi guys!

So last night I finally got to see the Great Showman, and I have well and truly fallen in love with it! I love musicals and this was phenomenal. Hugh Jackman is such a fabulous actor, and I love Zac Efron, Zendaya and Michelle Williams. All of the cast were brilliant. My favourite songs from the film are Rewrite The Stars, A Million Dreams and This Is Me. 10/10 would watch forty million times.

I saw this at the wonderful Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. I live 10-15 minutes away and I feel so blessed to live so close to this beautiful palace and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The Luna Cinema comes to Blenheim every year (it tours the country, so I’d definitely check if it’s coming to somewhere near you), and it’s a fab experience. I go with my best friend, her mum and her boyfriend and we always have such a laugh!

This year it was raining, so we did get a bit wet and cold, but luckily it did stop raining before the film actually started. We took a huge flask of hot chocolate which was extremely beneficial, and had blankets so that we could wrap up warm. We also took lots of snacks because if you don’t did you even go and see a film?

Had a fabulous evening, I’ve played the Greatest Showman soundtrack on repeat and I wanted to share it on my blog!

Thanks for reading!

Michelle xx