Friday, 23 October 2015

Flaunt Ya Haunt - The City of Bath


I'm often told by people that I am lucky to live in Bath and you know what? They're not wrong. 

Growing up, when I mentioned Bath to anyone when I was on holiday in the north, they wouldn't have a clue where it was and/or had never heard of it. Always popular with tourists due to it's wealth of history, the city has had a massive popularity boom over the past twenty or so years, with many wealthy people from London discovering its charms and making the move from the big smoke. With scenes like this, is it any wonder?!


The Royal Crescent


One of the things I love about Bath is its size: all parts of the city are easily and quickly accessible, yet take a ten minute walk and you're in the countryside. It really is the best of both worlds. 

Bath is an ancient city dating back to Roman times, when the Romans settled here to take advantage of the city's natural thermal springs. The Roman Baths are still here today and are a huge tourist attraction.

Much of the city's architecture is beautiful and impressive Georgian structures. When talking about Bath many people rave about the architecture and what a pretty city is; indeed it is, but I'm a country bumpkin at heart and its many green spaces and parks are what make Bath special for me. 

When Travelodge got in touch and asked me write about what I love about Bath, it was easy to think of my favourite place - Royal Victoria Park. I grew up spending weekends and school holidays playing there, having picnics with my family, I've been on dates there and spent many a lunch break wandering amongst the trees and collecting conkers in autumn.

Victoria Park is big - it covers 57 acres* and is far from just a grassy area. It has a pavillion café, tennis courts, mini golf, botanical gardens, children's adventure playground, a skateboarding park, duck ponds, a bandstand, and huge open spaces with trees and paths to walk. Not to mention one of the most prestigious addresses in the city - The Royal Crescent, pictured above.



There is something so grand-feeling about Victoria Park. Perhaps because it was named for and opened by Queen Victoria* herself. The wide avenues and many paths certainly lend themselves to walking, or 'promenading' as used to be so popular back then. I can certainly picture Regency ladies in their fancy attire sashaying in front of the Royal Crescent, parasols in hand.

The park is a beautiful place all year round: in spring and summer it is positively bursting with colours, as a team of gardeners keep it blooming with flowers. Come autumn, leaves create a crunchy carpet, conkers abound and squirrels are busily burying nuts everywhere you look. I like to meander through the park until I can bear the cold no longer, then warm my hands on a cup of tea in the café, whilst people-watching.





On the day I visited to snap these pics, I sat down on a bench for a rest and was greeted by a very inquisitive little squirrel! Sadly I didn't have any treats to give him, but we did play hide and seek around a tree trunk for a while.





The botanical gardens are so tranquil and a great escape from the busy city centre. They are pretty all year round, but are really spectacular in the summer.





I have so many memories of Victoria Park...sliding into the duck pond and getting my feet wet when I was little, playing at the toy boating pond (which sadly is no longer there), countless picnics, getting a hole-in-one at the mini golf and, up behind the skate park is a tree my nan had planted for my granddad when he passed away.


In addition, one of my favourite ever houses lies in the park. I spent my entire childhood wishing I could live there and I still adore it today. I always stop to admire it when I walk past - there is something so whimsical and magical about it! A proper fairytale cottage. 




Whilst walking through Victoria Park I'm always struck by how it doesn't feel that I'm in a city at all - it transports you somewhere else entirely; somewhere peaceful, beautiful and full of nature. 

That is a big part of what makes Bath so great - the whole city is like being in a film set or magical place. It really has to be seen to be believed and I cannot recommend a visit to this fair city highly enough. With celebs such as Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch strolling the streets, I think that's a pretty good seal of approval!

Its popularity and comparative wealth can make Bath an expensive place to stay. There are many stunning boutique hotels and B&Bs, but they come with an equally stunning price tag! At work we always book visitors into the Waterside Travelodge, as it's unbeatable value and just a short walk from both the bus and train stations, and from the city centre. It also benefits from its own parking - a rarity in this city! There is also a city centre Travelodge, which steps right out amongst all the shopping, bars and restaurants that Bath has to offer. 

If you're planning a trip, take a look at the savings you could make right here.

Other places worth checking out:

  • Bath City Farm - a short bus ride/drive from the centre, kids will love the animals.
  • Parade Gardens/Pulteney Weir and Bridge - more stunning scenery.
  • The canal - perfect for leisurely walks all year round.
  • Bath Abbey - gorgeous gothic architecture. 
  • Independent Spirit - if you're looking for a special tipple for your stay, look no further.
  • Walcot Street - Bath's artisan quarter, full of quirky shops and cafés.
  • Green Rocket Café - fab vegetarian and vegan place. Best vege breakfast in the city.
  • Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen - absolutely amazing gourmet vegetarian and vegan food. Booking highly advised.
  • Society Café - independent café, delicious coffee and for the dairy free they offer almond milk as well as soya.
  • Christmas market - if you visit in the run-up to Christmas, be sure to check out the traditional wooden chalets that fill the Abbey courtyard and streets surrounding it. This year the market runs from 26th November to 13th December.
  • Plus all of Bath's many independent shops - the city is known for them, so make sure you support our local retailers!

For ideas of other great cities to visit, check out the hashtag #flauntyahaunt - I've added so many places to my travel wishlist!


Have you ever visited Bath? What did you think?
xx


Big thanks to Travelodge and Talented Talkers.

* Information from visitbath.co.uk



All images used are taken by and are the property of Tiny Grey Cat, unless otherwise credited. The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Autumn Favourites




At the end of September, a curious thing starts to happen: almost the entire blogosphere and Instagram world begin to declare their love/obsession with all things autumn.

Just what is it about autumn - or fall, for the Americans among us - that makes us giddy with excitement? I, for one, have never liked summer. Six weeks off school aside (which sadly does not apply to adults, other than teachers!), I've never understood people's love of summer. I hate heat and so for me, autumn always signalled the end of the torture and start of blissful, cooler weather.

With the cold comes warmer clothing - layers of cosy knits, woolly socks and boots. I love autumn/winter clothes, which gives another tick in the Why Autumn Rules column. Throw in log fires, hot soup, cold, crisp walks with even colder noses, crunchy leaves, beautiful colour displays in the changing trees, and everything pumpkin spiced...add it all up and it equals awesome.

Now that we're well and truly into October, I thought I'd round up some things that I am loving and/or lusting after this season; all of which are my must-haves for a super cosy autumn. Many of them would also make great gifts for any of your autumn-loving gal pals!

First up is an absolute necessity: snuggly blankets. I love to mix colours, patterns and textures, and these two would make the perfect sofa nest together - I love pastel pink and grey/brown as a combo.
Pink blanket - H&M, Herringbone blanket - I Want One of Those

Wrapping up in cosy layers is essential and I love to pile on jumpers, hats and scarves. This faux fur one looks super warm and becomes a great focal point.


Large faux fur scarf - ASOS


To keep my tootsies warm in autumn, I like to wear fun and festively appropriate socks, like these.


Fuzzy bat socks - Topshop, Dino skeleton socks - ASOS

And of course, to keep those toasty toes dry in the lovely British weather, a pair of chunky boots are a must. I'm so pleased that Dr Martens makes a faux leather version of their iconic boot. I really hope they expand their vegan selection to incorporate more colours and styles from their range.
Vegan leather boots - Dr Martens

Once back in from the cold, I like to make sure my home is as cosy, warm and pretty as possible. Lighting can really make or break a room so, to up the snug factor and create a nice ambience I like to light candles in my favourite autumn scents and hang tiny, twinkling fairy lights wherever possible, like these ones* from I Want One of Those.



I didn't think I'd ever actually get excited by a string of lights, but seriously, I'm in love with these. I hate how normal fairy lights get tangled and look kinda clumsy with their dangling cords and, of course, they never reach where you want to plug them in. These string lights are genius - they are teeny tiny LED lights incorporated into a thin piece of wire. Not only does this mean they're streamlined, but also that you can bend them wherever you want them to go and in any shape - yesss! I'm obsessed. I have one string wound around my pom pom garland and a second string that I coiled up and put in a glass mason jar, to create a soft glowy homemade nightlight. I love how it turned out and, as the lights are battery operated, I never have to worry about how I'm going to reach a plug. Bonus!


Silver string lights - c/o I Want One of Those

These would make a supercute gift for any occasion - I might have to stock up on them early for stocking fillers! They also come in copper wire, which is perfect for the rose gold trend that's so popular right now. I have to admit, I'd not heard of I Want One of Those before they got in touch, but their gift pages have so many cool things - we've already ordered a Christmas present for a tricky-to-buy-for person, so I'd highly recommend checking it out! 

Going back to favourite autumn scents; I was smelling all the candles in Homebase recently (and mostly gagging at the overpowering, over-perfumed, sickly scents), when I picked up this one and practically started eating it. Ohmygosh, it smells divine. It smells of warm, spicy pie filling - basically everything you want in a candle! It was really reasonably priced as well, especially compared to certain big candle brands.


Yummy candle - Homebase


Finally, what is better when you're all curled up in your snuggly blankets, than a steaming mug of something tasty. I am loving these distressed enamel style mugs in pastel yellow and blue - so rustic looking. I'd pretend I was cosied up in a little log cabin in the mountains!


Enamel style mug - Dotcomgiftshop

Of course, you need that something tasty to slurp and frankly, it should be the drink of the season - a PSL (pumpkin spice latte, for those not in the know). Unfortunately, the proper Starbucks version contains dairy in the syrup base, so even if I have soy milk, it's not vegan. Thankfully, the wonderful Charis has come up with her own pumpkin spice syrup recipe, hoorah! I've not made it yet, but you bet your boots I'm gonna!  


Photo from Charis' Instagram

This has turned into rather a long post - I just really love autumn! I hope you enjoyed my seasonal favourites.

What are you diggin' at the moment?

Stay cosy!

xx


I was kindly gifted the silver string lights from IWOOT. All opinions are 100% my own and I would gladly spend my own money on this product. I love them!



All images used are taken by and are the property of Tiny Grey Cat, unless otherwise credited. The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Refugee Crisis - Ways to Help


There are some images that once you've been exposed to, you can never un-see them. I have several of these that are burned into my memory, that I'll never forget: an image of a seal cub's head bashed in during Canada's seal clubbing season; an elephant with its face cut off by a poacher, for its tusks; and now an image of little toddler, Aylan Kurdi's tiny lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach - a horrific and tragic end for his search for a better life, away from war-torn Syria.

The photo has provoked a huge reaction, as it should. How many times do we watch awful news stories, think "How terrible", then forget about it and go on with our day? I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but today I couldn't. My eyes are red and swollen from sobbing all morning and I feel sick to my stomach every time I see or think of that photo. This should not be happening - not to men, women and 100% not to children. 

I feel so ashamed and useless and I've spent today asking (to myself and to social media) what can we do??? 

The internet is shamefully quiet on answers to this question, but I would like to thank The Independent newspaper for this article, which is helpful and informative on practical ways to help the refugee crisis.




How We Can Help

Sign a petition
This seems like a pointless and empty gesture, I know, but it's quick, easy, and the more awareness is raised and the more people sign, the more the government will realise our disgust at their ignoring and belittling of the situation. Here are two petitions - there are several more in The Independent article, linked above.

Britain must accept its share of refugees.

Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK.

Donate
I often hear people say they can't afford to donate, which makes me really angry. If you genuinely don't have a penny to spare, that's fine, but you - the one crying poverty whilst buying a £4 coffee from Starbucks; don't be a dick. That £4 could buy food, medicine, warm socks, so many things that are desperately needed. Do you really need that luxury coffee? Didn't think so. Donate. Make sure it's to a non-governmental organisation. It's important to remember that the refugees are not just in Calais - thousands more don't even make it that far and are scattered right across Europe. Remember this when choosing where to donate your money, to ensure it goes everywhere it's needed. 

Save the Children - distributing essential items such as diapers, hygiene kits and food

Red Cross Europe - providing emergency health services at central train stations

Migrant OffShore Aid Station - dedicated to helping prevent deaths at sea. Particularly poignant after the photo of tiny Aylan Kurdi

International Rescue Committee - improving living conditions by setting up camps

The UN Refugee Agency - providing water, mosquito nets, tents, healthcare

Refugee Action - advice about claiming asylum, the asylum process, asylum support

Info from independent.co.uk


Buy Items That Are Needed
This is a great way to directly help the people who need it.

Here is a link to a listing of some of the JustGiving fundraising pages that have been set up for the refugee camp in Calais - that way you can choose which you want to donate to. With these you donate money, then they buy the supplies. 

There are others, such as this GoFundMe page, which lists items which are needed (and those that aren't - helpful).

An Amazon Wishlist has also been set up, where you can directly buy all kinds of items, which will be delivered to London, then driven and distributed in Calais as part of the Kent For Calais appeal. The truck leaves on September 17th, so there's still time to help out.

Again, The Independent article lists more.

Get Involved
If you can't afford to donate or buy supplies, why not volunteer your time. Find out if there's a local group, or organise your own, and help with collections, promotion, driving, anything that's needed.

There are many groups set up around the country to help those in Calais. You can find your nearest one on this map or find more information in this Facebook group

Talk About It
It's horrifying, it's upsetting, which means nobody wants to talk about it. That's part of how it got so bad in the first place. We must talk about it, spread the word, make the government realise that this is not acceptable, that something must be done. Talk to your friends, family, partners, postman, shopkeepers, anyone and everyone - you might just find that you suddenly have a group of people wanting to help, who can make a difference. Talk about it on social media, use all the hashtags - make yourself heard. You might think it's pointless tweeting about it, but what if your one tweet was seen by someone who never watches the news, and prompts them to donate, or organise a delivery of supplies to refugees? Singularly we may not be heard or make a difference, but collectively we have the power to raise our voices and bellow that we support and stand by all those seeking safety and a better life.

Please don't ignore this - do something. Do it for little Aylan and the countless others like him.





All images used are taken by and are the property of Tiny Grey Cat, unless otherwise credited. The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.






Wednesday, 1 July 2015

So Long, June!


June has been and gone without me even really realising. I've had a lot going on and before I even knew it, I woke up and it's July. Whaaat.

One thing I am hating on right now is the heat. I adore bright, sunny days but once the thermometer starts cranking up, I cannot deal. I've always been super sensitive to temperature changes - both hot and cold - so anytime that it veers from the relatively moderate, I start to suffer, big time.

So what did I get up to in June? Well, I...


  • Had Hannes' dad and brother come to stay with us for a week. 
  • Went to the first ever Bristol Tattoo Convention, organised by my friend and tattooist Fil (which was awesome by the way and well worth checking out next year!). 
  • Explored an old, abandoned iron works and took lots of photos, which I'll probably eventually put in a blog post. 
  • Received lots of great snail mail from super lovely internet pals. 
  • Ate lots of yummy food. 
  • Held an Instagram sale and made a tidy sum of dosh from it. There are still some things for sale and I may well be adding more, so check it out over on Insta
  • Hung out with Soldier and Molly.
  • Finished and submitted more illustrations for an upcoming feature in a supercute magazine (eek!)
  • Exchanged contracts on my new house (mega eek!) and gave notice on my rental.


Sheesh!

Here's how June looked in pictures:

Lovely things from lovely people (that embroidery sums up my weather feelings!)...





Yummy food...







Mini adventures at home and nearby...







Kitty snugs...





Exciting house developments...





And all those other little moments I love to document...







So, I get the keys to the new house next week! It feels like forever ago that we made an offer on the house and began the process of buying. Once it was in the hands of the solicitors, it felt as though nothing was happening for ages. Now it is suddenly real and I'll be moving towards the end of July. Holy smokes!

With the move I am having to sell my old faithful car, as I can't have (or need) two cars at the new place. I freakin' LOVE this car and am so sad. I have a decade of memories, of roadtrips and ridiculous shenanigans with her. I've cried bucket loads over selling her and really want her to go to a good home. Here's a link to my ad so if you, or anyone you know in the Bath/Bristol area is looking for a cheap runaround, look no further! I cannot emphasise enough how cheap it is to run (less than £30 for a full tank of petrol!) and how reliable it is - always starts, and I've had to spend less on it in ten years than most people do on their cars in three. She ain't called The Beast for nothin'! Spread the word, peeps.

And that just about wraps up June! 

July is set to be a busy and exciting one, with decorating the new house and getting ready for the move. I'll be doing a house tour once I'm settled in, so look out for that.


How has your June been? 

xx




All images used are taken by and are the property of Tiny Grey Cat, unless otherwise credited. The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.