Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Wednesday Wish List

Here are some of the things I've been coveting this week...

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Every time I see these incredible statement necklaces from La Vidriola, I'm always blown away by how spectacular they are. They're true works of art. At the moment, my heart belongs to their sea life designs- which are of course perfect for summer- and these are just six of the necklaces I have my eye on. I think my favourites are the amazing Great Barrier Reef statement necklace (#1), and Reef Shark necklace (#2), because the detail to both is incredible. With so much detail involved in the designs, they don't come cheap, but everything featured above is currently on sale!

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Aussie jewellery brand Erstwilder are taking us on a trip down memory lane with their brand new vintage-toy-inspired jewellery collection, which was released just this morning. The sixteen piece collection features brooches, earrings, and a necklace based on beloved children's toys and treats from days gone by. I particularly love the Russian doll (which I've purchased!), rocking horse, and wind up bird designs, but the designs are all so cute. They're making me all nostalgic for childhood, and my days of working in a vintage-style toy shop. The collection is already proving popular, with many pieces already sold out, but I've linked to as many available pieces as possible above. If you're trying to locate a particular piece, you can find the links to other Erstwilder stockists here.

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Cath Kidston have launched several new season collections this week, and I've fallen in love with so many of them. One of my favourite new ranges has to be the otters- I mean, seriously, look how cute that print is! It's so adorable, and I want it all! I particularly love the cosmetics cases, but I've only just bought a wash bag and a make up bag from the Alice in Wonderland collection, so I have no need for more. I am tempted to treat myself to the notebook, pen, and shopping bag, though. There are more pieces in the range on the website, and more still to come, including cushions, bath mats, and trinket trays.

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Another of my new favourite Cath Kidston designs has got to be the Mini Badgers and Friends print. It features black and white British wildlife, including foxes, badgers, otters, hedgehogs, squirrels, deer, rabbits, and owls, mixed with pink flowers on a white background, and it is beautiful. In fact, as a animal lover, it's one of my favourite Cath Kidston prints to date. It naturally makes me think of The Animals of Farthing Wood (a programme I was obsessed with growing up), but I seem to say that whenever I see a print or pattern made up of our wildlife. Haha! There is also a blue variation of the Mini Badgers and Friends Print on the website, but I definitely prefer the white designs. I particularly love the stationery and the saddle bag, and can't wait for more of the homeware to be released. I got a new season CK look book through the door the other day, and the china looks stunning. I'm tempted to start a collection...

Cath Kidston Bumble Bee Cotton Zip Purse

I also this lovely Cath Kidston bumble bee print purse. There are lots of other beautiful bee print things in the collection worth checking out on the website, too.

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And last but not least, I'm loving this gorgeous Cosmic Love star print swing dress and skirt from Hell Bunny. They're both absolutely stunning. I can't help thinking that they'd both be perfect for Halloween, Christmas, and New Year.

If you'd like to see more of the fashion and homeware pieces on my wish list, check out my wish list boards on Pinterest. You can also find all previous Wednesday Wish List posts here.

Any favourites this week?

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Sunday Favourites #336

It's time for this week's Sunday Favourites...

Coco Cake Land's matcha Totoro cake is so cute.

A Beautiful Mess can show you how to add a built in bra to clothing. What a genius idea!

This vegan watermelon cake from Little White Socks looks amazing.

These DIY gold summer place card holders by Maritza Lisa would be perfect for a summer party.

I love this 'be nice or leaf' print from A Dornan Smith Design.

I adore these DIY summer fruit rope bags from Pfefferminzgruen and really want to make one. The tutorial is in German, but it translates well to English with the translate button.

Oh Joy's painted cake stand DIY looks like a fun and easy way to brighten up a plain glass cake stand.

I also love Oh Joy's chic hat gallery wall.

These DIY splatter painted concrete sphere bookends are really eye catching. My only problem is I have too many books to need bookends. (Not that there's such a thing as too many books)!

Tilly and the Buttons show you how to print fabric- with a parsnip! I want to have a go!

This collage of paper plants from Be Color And is so pretty.

I love these DIY painted lockers from A Kailo Chic Life.

This amazing colourful Hawaiian hotel.

Beautiful paper cut art from Kanako Abe.

This root beer float pie from Sprinkle Bakes sounds delicious.

How adorable is Valkyrie the Maine Coon kitten with his human-like-face?!

Lovely Links

♥ Becky Bedbug wrote an insightful post about the best destinations for plus size travellers.

♥ Allie from Inside Allie's World wrote an open apology letter to her arms.

♥ Aycan from Little White Socks shared 46 ideas to inspire your snail mail writing.

♥ Charlotte from Colours and Carousels talks about the impact blogging has on spending money.

♥ Sugar and Cloth show you how they edit their photos for Instagram quickly with a video tutorial.

♥ Kaylah of The Dainty Squid's blogged about her visit to the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona, and her photos are amazing.

♥ Thai cave rescue: how the nightmare began. Apparently the captain of the football team didn't lead the boys in to the cave, but went in to find them when they didn't return home.

♥ Huge crowds filled central London to protest Donald Trump and make it clear he's not welcome. I've never been prouder to be English / British. I would've joined in if I could've.

♥ 24 of the best photos from the anti-Trump women's march in London. I think 'Trump is worse than Comic Sans' is my favourite.

♥ 'I didn't care about the NHS until...' We all moan about the NHS, but it's not until you need them that you really appreciate what they do.

♥ These interesting animal facts shared by a zoo employee. Did you know one fifth of all mammal species are bats? You do now!

♥ And also this video of a group of men working to rescue a beached giant manta ray. I knew manta rays were big, but I didn't realise they were that big!

If you'd like to see more stuff like this, check out my Pinterest and Tumblr. You can also find all previous Sunday Favourites posts here.

What did you enjoy most this week?

Saturday, 14 July 2018

The Cotswold Wildlife Park July 2018

Last Monday, I turned another year older, and since I'm not one for wild parties (introvert alert!), I chose to spend the afternoon wandering around my local zoo, The Cotswold Wildlife Park, with my Mum in the blistering 33'C heat.

I don't know why I thought visiting a zoo was a good idea during a heatwave, since I hate the heat, and have been finding it unbearable these past few weeks, but I didn't want to spend my entire birthday at home doing nothing, so I decided to brave it. Well, you guys know how much I love a good trip to the zoo!

Naturally, this wasn't my first visit to The Cotswold Wildlife Park; I've lived locally to it my entire life and have visited it approximately 98254679 times over the years, with a fair few birthdays spent there since the late eighties. I've even blogged about a couple of my most recent visits (which you'll find links to at the end of this post).

As a huge animal lover, it's always been one of my favourite places, and even after a life time of visits, I still enjoy each one, and like to fit in at least one visit each year. Call me biased or sentimental or whatever, but there's just something special about the place that keeps me returning year after year.

You see, The Cotswold Wildlife Park is a little different to your average zoo. It's set on 160 acres of land, with lots of green open space, hundreds of trees, neatly manicured lawns, and gardens, with a two hundred year old gothic manor house in the centre of the park. Many areas of the grounds look more like a stately home than a zoo, and it almost feels like you're viewing a private menagerie at a wealthy aristocrat's Cotswold home instead of a modern day zoo.

With professionally landscaped gardens and flower beds planted around the generously-sized animal enclosures, it's a truly beautiful place to visit, and so much lovelier to wander around than those old ugly old city zoos with small wrought iron cages and concrete enclosures.

You'd expect such a beautiful place to have strict rules about their lawns, but surprisingly, they've very relaxed and allow visitors to walk, relax and picnic on the grass around the park, and also on the picnic benches dotted around near the enclosures of the larger animals. We never take food in with us these days, but we often stopped for a picnic on the great lawn or down by the lions when we were growing up.

It's a relatively small zoo compared to places like Whipsnade Wild Animal Park and Chester Zoo, but The Cotswold Wildlife Park actually has one of the largest zoological collections in the UK with over 260 species of animals. They have show-stoppers like rhinos, lions and giraffes, cute critters such as otters, red pandas, and lemurs, spectacular anacondas, crocodiles, and giant tortoises, feathered favourites like macaws, owls, and penguins, unusual curiosities like binturongs, armadillos, and pallas cats, and so much more. There are so many amazing animals to see here, and quite a few rare creatures I've never seen anywhere else before. There's something for everybody, and enough to interest even the most frequent of zoo visitors.

My favourite animals to see at the wildlife park are the tapirs, giant anteaters, armadillos, pallas cats, giraffe, rhinos, sifakas, and otters, but I enjoy every section- with the exception of the insect house which I prefer to give a wide berth because spiders. I always enjoyed seeing the butterflies and leaf-cutter ants in there when I was younger, though.

We arrived just after half two, which still left us with more than enough time to see everything as the wildlife park is open until 6pm during the summer, and our visits usually average three to four hours. You could easily spend an entire day at the wildlife park as there is so much to see and do- besides the animals and plants, there's a great adventure playground for kids, a train that takes you around the park, a manor house to explore, a restaurant, kiosks, gift shop etc. plus animal talks and feeding times- but after a life time of visits and with no kids in tow, we don't do it all these days. We know the place inside out, so we have our visits down to a fine art. On your first visit, expect to spend a minimum of four hours in the park viewing the animals and plants alone.

My Mum used to take my sisters and I to the wildlife park all the time when we were kids, but I can't remember the last time she and I last visited together (I'm guessing at least sixteen or seventeen years), so it was lovely to visit with her again.

We had a lovely few hours wandering around looking at amazing animals and beautiful plants in the blazing heat, but man alive, it was hot. Swelteringly hot. So hot it was almost hard to believe we were wandering around a zoo in The Cotswolds.

The park was surprisingly quiet considering the sunshine, so it had a refreshingly calm and relaxing atmosphere, with mostly adult couples strolling around and very few screaming kids, so Monday afternoon is clearly a great time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. We only had a couple of people near us at any one time, so we were able to get a great view at each enclosure, and spend as long as we wanted watching the animals and taking photos without holding anyone up, which was awesome. Not that we stayed long at most enclosures because it was waaay too hot to stand around in the baking heat, and we kept pressing on to find some shade. The ground was so hot it was actually burning my feet through my shoes! (The tarmac on one of the roads we took to get to the wildlife park had actually started to melt!) Fortunately, there are a few sections canopied with trees which provided relief from the heat, so we took advantage of them, and spent longer watching the animals in those areas. We also cooled down with an ice cream from the kiosk near the children's playground, which was so icy cold it actually worked a treat. I don't think I've ever appreciated an ice cream more.

The highlights of our visit include:

♥ Observing a crowned sifaka watching the world go by at the front of his enclosure, and curiously checking us out with those beautiful wide yellow eyes.

♥ Watching the group of otters running around, and the two little squeakers standing up on tree stumps crying for our attention.

♥ Seeing a wolverine for the first time, and watching them tumbling around together in their woodland enclosure- apart from one little guy who was contently taking a snooze on his back.

♥ Getting a peek at the adorable binturong, which looks like a cross between a wolverine, aye-aye, a bear, and a monkey. It also looks like it belongs in the movie 'Labyrinth'. I didn't get a photo because he was indoors behind finger-smudged glass.

♥ Witnessing the maras chasing each other around their enclosure at lightning speed, and one squeezing underneath a fence within its enclosure to outsmart the other..

♥ Watching the tapirs grazing in their paddock- just because they're one of my favourite animals ever.

♥ Taking a rest overlooking the rhino paddock, and watching the impressive animals grazing a few metres away. They all had wet patches around their eyes. I don't know whether rhinos sweat around their eyes in the heat, or if the keepers had applied mud to protect their skin from the sun.

♥ Visiting the giraffe house and getting to see them graze from their eye level.

I'd expected most of the animals to be flaked out in the heat, but most of them were active, and didn't seem phased by it at all. Out of all the enclosures we visited,  I think the only animals we weren't able to spot were the lions, giant anteaters, and porcupines. We didn't visit every single section, though, because my Mum was knackered after working eight days in a row and the heat was unbearable, so we missed out part of the walled gardens, the tropical house, some of the aviaries, and the reptile, bat and insect houses in the centre of the park. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to see the armadillos or the anteaters, but I have done it all before so I took what I could get, and enjoyed the areas we did cover.

We only spent about two and a half hours at the park this time, but we had such a lovely visit once again, and it made for such an enjoyable birthday afternoon for this animal lover. It was my first venture out of the house for something other than a medical appointment or quick trip to the supermarket since Easter, so it was really appreciated- even if I pulled all my muscles after months of little use!

If you're ever in Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, or The Cotswolds, you need to fit in a visit to The Cotswold Wildlife Park! You'll find it on the edge of The Cotswolds just two miles from the historic Cotswold town of Burford, twenty miles from Oxford, and twenty two from Cheltenham. It's open every day but Christmas Day, and it's a wonderful place to visit for all ages. You can even bring your dogs in with you (providing they're well behaved and kept on a lead at all times). 

Take it from a local; you need to visit this place!

Forget the picturesque Cotswold countryside and the quaint little Cotswold villages, the best place you can visit in the Cotswolds is The Cotswold Wildlife Park! Add it to the top of your Cotswold bucket list!

I've lost count of how many times I've been to The Cotswold Wildlife Park, but even after three decades of visits I still enjoy every trip there, and I'm already looking forward to going back for another visit! I know I'll be back within the year. Just you try and stop me!

When was the last time you went to the zoo?

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