The magic of bluebells: exploring Arlington Bluebell Walk

It's become an annual tradition to visit the Arlington Bluebell Walk in East Sussex in late April / early May - springtime would not be the same without it. Luckily for me, it's only a short drive away - but I think it's well worth a longer trek. It has the most beautiful and concentrated display of bluebells I've ever seen, and most of them can be viewed from wide accessible paths. There is a small entrance fee (£6 in 2017) which goes to a group of local charities - and it's worth every penny! 

There are 7 different walks you can take through beautiful woodland and farmland with lots of different vistas. My favourite is the short loop through Beatons Wood where most of the bluebells can be found (this is accessible to wheelchair users). There are some ponds (great for reflections) and lots of tree stumps and of course endless trees to provide interesting focal points for your photographs. Plus there are lots of seats scattered throughout the woodland for when your feet get too weary. The birdsong is so beautiful!

As you would expect, the bluebell walk gets very popular and busy at peak season with families and photographers alike. You can track the progress of the bluebells on the Arlington Bluebell Walk website, which is so helpful for planning your visit. The white wood anenomes appear first, followed by the bluebells - I love to try and capture a mix of both. It's definitely worth getting there as early as you can to beat the crowds, although there is so much space, it's very easy to wander away and find some peace and quiet.

The bluebell woods make the perfect backdrop for some portrait photography. We had some fun trying to get our little dog Misty to pose for the camera. With the help of some treats, we sort of managed it!

I've experimented with lots of different lenses over the years, but have settled on my 85mm f1.8 prime lens as my favourite lens to capture the magic of bluebells (paired with a full frame DSLR, the Canon 6D). I'm not one for wide angle shots, with lots of detail and everything in focus. Instead, I prefer to blur out the foreground and part of the background to try and capture the great swathes of purple and provide a dreamy, gentle feeling. It's not the best lens - and tends to be very soft when you are shooting with it wide open (a small number aperture), so most of these shots were taken somewhere around the f2.2 mark. They're not as sharp as I would like, so I will continue experimenting....

To get the blurry soft foreground, I crouched down low so that I had several rows of bluebells in front of me, and then focussed on a point roughly in the middle of the scene, using an aperture around f1.8-2.2 to create a shallow depth of field. This meant that the bluebells directly in front of me would be out of focus, as would the trees in the very far background, but the section in the middle that I focussed on, would be nice and sharp, drawing the eye there.

If you'd like to understand more about aperture and shallow depth of field, you might want to look at my post on How to get background blur in your photographs

If you'd like to see more photos, I've collected my images from the last 3 years into an album on Flickr: Arlington Bluebell Walk - or you can click through the embedded slideshow below.

Arlington Bluebell Walk, East Sussex

I hope you enjoyed a wander through the Arlington Bluebell Walk. Do let me know if you have any questions in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.


A bedroom tour and a giveaway - win a Nest & Burrow wall hanging!

I'm very excited to share this with you today - both because it's taken ages to finally finish off our bedroom - and because the prize on offer is absolutely gorgeous!

A little while ago I stumbled across the beautiful work of Suzanne of Nest & Burrow (funnily enough through the #mybeautifulsimplicity hashtag I curate on Instagram, as Suzanne had tagged a photo of one of her wall hangings) and I knew immediately that they would be perfect for our bedroom. I'd been hunting for something soft and tactile to hang in the space above our bed. I wanted some gentle muted colours that reminded me of nature and the coast I love so much - of pebbles, sand and shells... And something that would work well with the pink, grey and white that was already there.... So I set my alarm for Suzanne's last shop update and added these two beauties (above and below) from her "beauty in simplicity" collection to my shopping basket very rapidly! I'm thrilled to bits with them. 

#MYNESTANDBURROW giveaway

Suzanne and I have been chatting since then (isn't Instagram wonderful for connecting with like-minded souls?) and thought it would be lovely to do a little collaboration. So I'm thrilled to help Suzanne launch her new Instagram hashtag #mynestandburrow.

I asked Suzanne to tell us a bit more about it: 

#mynestandburrow is about the way you lovingly create spaces in your home {nesting} and the resulting magic that provides a nourishing environment for you and your family’s wellbeing.
It’s about being inspired by nature, bringing the outdoors in, light, natural materials, as well as a strong interior design ethic that says You!

Use the tag to share your favourite spaces and pockets of your home. The cherished places where you entertain, spend time with family and friends, meditate, create, cook, sleep....or simply just be.

And as we are working up to the longest day of the year with the summer solstice this month (or the shortest day and winter solstice for you lovely people in the Southern Hemisphere), I thought it would be lovely to focus on the effect of light in our homes and how it makes us feel. Adding an extension has made so much difference to the light in our home which means all the difference to me......it literally feeds my soul.

Suzanne goes on to explain "I love the natural environment and spending time outdoors helps me thrive and provides immense inspiration. I also have a passion for natural materials, aesthetics and modern interior design. These elements combined have inspired me to design simple yet stylish luxury pieces to help people decorate their homes and create a cosy, nurturing environment - a nest if you like."

Suzanne is very generously offering a wall hanging from her new collection (not released yet) as a prize for one of the images tagged to #mynestandburrow. And I get to choose my favourite image! I'm absolutely delighted to be the guest judge. You have until 06 July to share your images, so get tagging! 

How to enter the giveaway

  1. Follow @nestandburrowuk and @zoepower on Instagram.
  2. Tag photos of your favourite, cherished spaces at home {your nest} that have been inspired by nature and natural materials with #mynestandburrow on Instagram by 06 July 2017. If you can, try and capture the magic of light in your home and what that means to you.
  3. I will choose my favourite image and Suzanne will announce the winner on her Instagram account.
  4. The giveaway is open worldwide.

If you'd like to read a bit more about Suzanne, her work, materials, inspiration and her home, there's a lovely interview over on the Alice in Scandiland blog (Alice has another one of Suzanne's wall hangings and an absolutely beautiful home - do take a look around!).

You can find Suzanne / Nest & Burrow on Etsy | Instagram | Facebook |  and you can sign up to her mailing list to receive an instant 20% discount code and regular updates and offers on her collections.

Now back to my bedroom...read on to find out how I have cosied up my favourite space with inspiration from nature.

My bedroom update

My bedroom update has been a long time coming. In the two and a half years we've been here, the space has evolved from something very colourful and packed with bold vintage prints (see what it looked like before - but you might need sunglasses!), to the calm white oasis you see today. I'd been craving a calmer, gentler space filled with light and free from clutter, with soft muted colours.... a space that better reflected the beautiful coastal environment we now live in. A space with room to breathe and reflect, that encouraged a good night's sleep.

We painted the walls white about a year and a half ago and replaced the carpet with some white laminate flooring at the same time. One set of curtains also got replaced with plain white ones, although I couldn't bear to part with the vintage linen ones you see below as they are just too precious and the room needed a *little* pattern :)

It's a sunny, dual aspect room and the light just bounces around now - I love it!

The pile of blankets in the corner is a bed for our little dog Misty

The pile of blankets in the corner is a bed for our little dog Misty

We have a giant wardrobe from IKEA with sliding doors that keeps everything hidden away and it's absolutely brilliant (we customised the insides to suit our requirements - so much fun!). Initially, I had a second wardrobe in the space you see the mirror above - but we felt it imposed on the room too much and after a big old sort out (thank you Marie Kondo!) I didn't need it anymore. We kept the mirrored door, though. I had planned to put a small chest of drawers in its place to use as a sort of dressing table, but then decided that I loved the clean simple uncluttered look with nothing on display (and less to dust!). So now I have my "dressing table" inside my wardrobe and it works pretty well - except when my husband and I both need to slide our doors at the same time.....

When we adopted our little dog Misty (above) we discovered she LOVES to sit on the window sill and watch the world go by (or snooze!) and that she is very adept at climbing up steps to get there! So I cleared off the window sill to avoid any damage and make space for her :)

I also finally got round to making some cushions the other week. I'd bought the pink Japanese fabric with half moon shapes well over a year ago with the bedroom in mind. Getting my wall hangings up was the push I needed to get my sewing machine out and finish the room off! I'd made the light grey cushions a while back and thought they'd make the perfect companions for the pink half moons.

I absolutely love my birch wall shelf below (the round dorm by Ferm Living) and enjoy changing the displays regularly to suit the season and my mood. It's usually full of treasures I have found on my travels - I'm such a magpie when it comes to pebbles and shells! (although I must confess most of the shells below have come from the Philippines via the shell shop in St. Ives). I fell in love with the shape and it sat on my wishlist for a loooong time. I'm so glad I finally decided to go for it. These days any purchases I make are well considered - I've done some major sorting and decluttering over the last couple of years and anything new has to earn its place.

You get a lovely view of the shelf as you walk past and enter the room (see below).

I've also introduced a bit of greenery into the room to help it feel calm - this sunny windowsill is perfect as it gets the morning light and there is no radiator underneath to dry the plants out.

And a few more details as I love this wool so much....

So there you have it - our bedroom is finally finished (well, for now at least)! Let me know if you've got any questions....and don't forget to enter Suzanne's amazing giveaway - I look forward to seeing all your beautiful images and cosy nests tagged to #mynestandburrow.


5 beautiful places to visit from Gwithian Sands in Cornwall

We had a super lovely break away to Cornwall in April for my husband's 40th birthday, staying in a beautiful self-catering chalet nestled in the dunes at Gwithian Sands. We explored some new (to us) parts of Cornwall, so I thought it would be good to share some of our favourites. It was also our first time travelling with Misty, our small dog, so this changed quite a few things!

1. Gwithian Sands / Hayle

2. Porth Kidney Sands & the cliff path walk to St. Ives from Lelant Saltings

3. St. Ives

4. Porthcurno

5. Sennen Cove

// Where we stayed

// A few more ideas for places to visit....

Keep reading for more info and lots of photos to whet your appetite!


1. Gwithian sands / Hayle

I can't believe that we had never visited this beautiful area before. There are miles of soft sand, stretching from Godrevy lighthouse to the Hayle estuary (strictly speaking there are 4 beaches - Godrevy, Gwithian Towans, Mexico Towans, Hayle Towans - but they all join up at low tide).  There are views of the iconic Godrevy lighthouse in one direction, and St. Ives in the other, as well as large areas of sand dunes and lots of rock pools. Pretty much heaven as far as I am concerned!

And, fortunately for us, the seasonal dog ban runs from 1 May to 30 September, so Misty was allowed on the beach at all times. If you are travelling with a dog, definitely worth checking up on this in advance - you can find the list of beaches with restrictions on the Cornwall government website.

I adored all the S P A C E, and the soft sand was such a treat (all the beaches are shingle in East Sussex). Misty loved it too and enjoyed burying her head in it and then rolling around and around in it! We were super lucky with the weather, which really made the trip - beautiful blue skies most days, although it was rather chilly. But give me blue skies and cold any day over grey....

I know this beach gets busy in the summer, but there's so much space, there's room for everyone. It was so lovely to watch these horse riders galloping along...

We started each day with a walk on the beach (what a treat!) as our chalet was only a few minutes walk away. And quite possibly my favourite day of the holiday was spent walking the length of the beach, splashing in the waves and exploring the rock pools and the dunes. I was in photographic heaven and it was so lovely to see Misty tearing around off the lead.

We got really lucky with the tide times as well (another thing worth checking!). At high tide, the beach is completely covered. We returned "home" to the view below one rather windy day and it was so beautiful. Even though I was really tired, I had to capture it on camera. We both stood and stared until our legs gave way. It really was a gift.

Gwithian is also a popular beach for surfing, and the Gwithian Academy of Surfing offers lessons if you fancy learning. 

I have lots more photos on Flickr in my Gwithian & Godrevy album if you haven't seen enough - or click through the embedded album below.

Gwithian & Godrevy, Cornwall

2. Porth Kidney Sands & cliff path walk to St. Ives

We visited Porth Kidney Sands on the day we did our cliff path walk to St. Ives. We parked at Lelant Saltings and walked through some quiet lanes to reach the South West Coast Path, which leads to Porth Kidney Sands (and onwards to St. Ives). It's a beautiful route, with stunning views the whole way, and you can take the train back if you don't fancy walking (it's the most scenic train ride I've ever been on!).

Porth Kidney Sands is another lovely large stretch of sandy beach, the other side of the Hayle estuary. It's just 2 miles away from St. Ives and at low tide, you can walk round to Carbis Bay. You have the same views across to Godrevy lighthouse in one direction and St. Ives in the other, as from Gwithian.

It's dog friendly year round and hence quite popular with dog walkers. It was pretty much deserted when we were there, so we enjoyed complete peace and quiet. There were beautiful patterns in the sand and the most picturesque sand dunes. Most definitely worth a stop off!

The views from the coast path were breathtaking too - I think my camera stayed out the whole time! Part of the walk borders the West Cornwall golf course, and in the other direction you have beach and sand dunes. 

The coast path eventually descends into Carbis Bay. You need to walk through the spa hotel grounds to pick it up again and reach Porthminster beach in St. Ives. Unfortunately, no dogs were allowed on Carbis Bay beach when we were there, so we found a bench with a view and enjoyed our sandwiches overlooking the beautiful white sands before moving on.

You can view more photos in my Porth Kidney Sands album on Flickr,  or click through the embedded album below.

Porth Kidney Sands, Cornwall

3. St. Ives

St. Ives really needs no introduction, but I couldn't not mention it. I love to explore the sandy beaches and the windy back streets, hunting out pretty houses and art galleries. But this time, with Misty in tow, we couldn't venture onto any of the beaches, or visit the Tate or Barabara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Gallery. But never mind, there was still plenty to explore, and there is definitely something very special about the light in St. Ives, even when it's stormy and overcast.

We stopped for coffee a couple of times at the Porthgwidden beach cafe, enjoying the beautiful views - it was unusually quiet!

I can recommend a wander round the coast path on "the island" if you want to get away from the crowds - the views are lovely and there are some well located benches if you just want to sit and take it all in. The path winds round to Porthmeor beach (below right), by the Tate - another favourite (and another good place for coffee).

I think my favourite beach has to be Porthminster (below), with it's beautiful views across to Godrevy lighthouse (it seemed to follow us, wherever we went!). I had to satisfy myself with a quick snap and views from afar this time though, as Misty wasn't allowed here.

We thoroughly enjoyed wandering around lots of art galleries (and the vast majority welcomed well behaved dogs). I think my favourite would have to be the Porthminster Gallery which had some really beautiful pieces and an interest free payment scheme to make it easier to buy original art. We were very tempted!

On the eating front, our usual haunts didn't allow dogs, so we ended up at Pedn Olva and enjoyed some lovely fish and chips (gluten free for me) with beautiful views of the harbour. They welcomed dogs and bought Misty a bowl of water and a biscuit. We'd happily return.

You can see more photos, including some from previous visits, in my St. Ives album on Flickr, or you can click through the embedded album below.

St. Ives

4. Porthcurno

Porthcurno is the most amazing beach with turquoise water and soft white sand. It's hard to believe you're in the UK! The day we visited it was incredibly cold, but it looked tropical. Well worth the slightly hairy drive down some small windy lanes to get there. Food for the soul indeed. It's also the location for the amazing Minack Theatre - we didn't visit this time, but caught a performance some years back which I will never forget (at least I won't forget the beautiful sunset and scenery :).

There are also some beautiful cliff path walks around Porthcurno, where you can see more jewel-like hidden coves. The paths were lined with bluebells and gorse and lots of other wildflowers - there was so much colour everywhere. 

As always, there are more photos to peruse in my Porthcurno album on Flickr, or you can click through the embedded album below.

Porthcurno, Cornwall

5. Sennen Cove

We visited Sennen Cove the same day as Porthcurno, as they aren't far from each other. Sennen is another beautiful sandy beach with soft white sand, beautiful turquoise water and sand dunes (recognising the pattern here?!). It was soooo cold though - I eventually had to admit defeat when my fingers were so numb I could no longer press my shutter! It's another popular spot with surfers, although it was pretty empty when we visited (but that might have something to do with the temperature!).

If by some miracle you haven't seen enough photos yet, head over to my Sennen Cove album on Flickr, or click through the embedded album below.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

// Where we stayed

As this was my husband's 40th birthday, we pushed the boat out a bit (for us!) and booked a week at Sauveterre Anglais, a self catering 2 bedroom beach house right by the beach at Gwithian Sands with Forever Cornwall (they have a lovely selection of properties in Cornwall). It was amazing! White wooden floors throughout, tasteful decor, modern kitchen, and the most wonderful conservatory and decking with views across the sea to St. Ives. It was the most welcome sight after our ridiculous 10 hour drive to get there (so much so that I even managed to take a few photos before we dumped our bags everywhere)! It's clear from the guest book that people come back time and time again, which speaks volumes. It's the most perfect location, full of light, comfortable, and has the most beautiful views which really expand your space. We'd so love to go back again.


// A few more ideas for places to visit

I'll keep this brief as this has turned into a monster post! Other lovely places you could visit nearby (although quite frankly spending every day on Gwithian beach would be super lovely) are:

I hope that was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas for lovely places to visit in the area :)


SGIEW instagram challenge :: Simplicity ::

I'm thrilled to be the guest judge for the @sogoodineveryway Instagram challenge for the next 3 weeks. The theme is :: Simplicity :: and I'm offering two prints from my Etsy shop as a prize for my favourite image (the winner gets to choose which ones).

How do I join in?

Simply tag any of your new photos on Instagram that fit the theme with #sgiew_simplicity and #sgiew and make sure you follow me @zoepower, the @sogoodineveryway challenge account and lovely hosts @incredibusy @willowdaygram and @redtedart. That's it! I'll share my favourite nine images and the winner in about 3 weeks time.

If you're new to @sogoodineveryway challenges, there's a new theme to join in every 2 or 3 weeks or so, and a guest judge to keep things interesting. It's really fun, so do join in :)

It would also be lovely if you could pop over and have a browse through the hashtag #sgiew_simplicity from time to time and leave some words of encouragement for your fellow participants - it can be a great way to connect with other lovely like minded people and find new ideas and inspiration.

More about the theme :: Simplicity ::

I'll be looking for simple compositions, free from distracting details and clutter, and full of space and calm. So have a think about the type of backgrounds you are using and how much you've got in the frame. You could also try using a shallow depth of field to blur out any distractions, or use a restricted colour palette.... The subject matter can be anything you like, it's all about how it is framed and presented.

Some Inspiration

If you're looking for some inspiration to get you started, I thought I'd share some favourite images that have been tagged to my other hashtag #mybeautifulsimplicity over the last few weeks. Do click through and have a browse around these inspiring accounts - you won't be disappointed. Huge thanks to these amazing photographers for sharing their beautiful images.  NB. your image doesn't have to be a floral one - it just seems we all have a particular love for flowers :)

A post shared by Kyoko (@kyoko29kyokolily) on

A post shared by Gem (@gemblina) on

A post shared by Caroline (@pears39) on

A post shared by Cristina Colli (@c_colli) on

A post shared by Elvira (@elvirasstory) on

A post shared by Kriss MacDonald (@krissmacd) on

A post shared by @buttons49 on

A post shared by @jenny.bee13 on

A post shared by 🍃Annie (@hannie65) on

A post shared by Kayleigh (@kayleighawright) on

A post shared by Tess (@tesslovesflowers) on

A post shared by Hannah (@hannahargyle) on

A post shared by @alf.and.myrtle on

A post shared by Elizabeth (@ehpyle) on

A post shared by b e x (@rebecca.kathryn) on


Introducing #mybeautifulsimplicity

I've finally jumped on the hashtag bandwagon! I've been umming and ahhhing about this for a while, but decided it was finally time to create and curate my own Instagram hashtag to share the kind of images I love. Allow me to introduce #mybeautifulsimplicity

So what's #mybeautifulsimplicity all about?

Well, I'm looking for beautifully simple images, full of space, especially white space. They should feel calm and be free from clutter and detail. Think simple backgrounds with minimal objects - perhaps a flatlay or a still life. Or seascapes and nature images where simplicity is the focus. Using a shallow depth of field can be a great way to create simplicity and blur out any distracting details. The same goes for a limited colour palette. It's not so much the subject matter, but the way it is presented.

To get things started, I've tagged some of my images to give a feel for what the hashtag is about. But I'd LOVE to see YOUR beautifully simple images. Please do join in by adding the hashtag #mybeautifulsimplicity to any images that you think are a good fit.

I'll share some favourites every couple of weeks on my Instagram account @zoepower and some monthly round-ups over here on my blog. I think it's such a lovely way to discover new accounts and inspiration.

Please do spread the word - and get tagging!

A photo posted by Zoë Power (@zoepower) on

A photo posted by Zoë Power (@zoepower) on

A photo posted by Zoë Power (@zoepower) on

A photo posted by Zoë Power (@zoepower) on

A photo posted by Zoë Power (@zoepower) on

A photo posted by Zoë Power (@zoepower) on

Colour Palette Inspiration

I've had so much fun lately making colour palettes from my photos. It's been part of the homework for a colour course I've been doing on Skillshare, but also preparation for my next set of designs for my inspirational quotes. It's been good to reaffirm the colours I'm naturally drawn to (pinks by the bucket load!) - and evident that nature plays a big part in that.

You will find all the colours of the seaside, and many shades of pink and purple, from cold to warm, sourced from spring and summer blooms. They've made me smile so much and cheered up some very grey, cold winter days, so I thought it would be nice to share them. I hope they'll bring you some joy and inspiration too! Feel free to pin away :)

Blush pink colour palette | Jelly Bean Poppies in my Ceramic Magpie bottle vase

Blush pink colour palette | Jelly Bean Poppies in my Ceramic Magpie bottle vase

Warm blush pink colour palette | Dahlia hues

Warm blush pink colour palette | Dahlia hues

Mint and salmon pink colour palette | Minty fresh summer wardrobe

Mint and salmon pink colour palette | Minty fresh summer wardrobe

All the pinks colour palette | Cosmos Velouette

All the pinks colour palette | Cosmos Velouette

Cherry blossom warm pink colour palette 

Cherry blossom warm pink colour palette 

Cherry blossom cool pink colour palette

Cherry blossom cool pink colour palette

Dusky cool pinks colour palette | Magnolia filled skies, Nymans garden, West Sussex, UK

Dusky cool pinks colour palette | Magnolia filled skies, Nymans garden, West Sussex, UK

Beach hut blues colour palette

Beach hut blues colour palette

Sky blue and sand colour palette | Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex, UK

Sky blue and sand colour palette | Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex, UK

Sea, sky and sand dunes colour palette | Holywell beach, Cornwall, UK

Sea, sky and sand dunes colour palette | Holywell beach, Cornwall, UK

Sky blue and aqua colour palette | Porthmeor beach, St. Ives, Cornwall, UK

Sky blue and aqua colour palette | Porthmeor beach, St. Ives, Cornwall, UK

Echeveria blue grey colour palette | Monk's House, East Sussex, UK

Echeveria blue grey colour palette | Monk's House, East Sussex, UK

Cornflower blues and purples colour palette | West Dean Gardens, West Sussex, UK

Cornflower blues and purples colour palette | West Dean Gardens, West Sussex, UK

Tulip pinks and purples colour palette | Monk's House, East Sussex, UK

Tulip pinks and purples colour palette | Monk's House, East Sussex, UK

Japanese Anenome pink colour palette 

Japanese Anenome pink colour palette 

Sand dune neutrals colour palette

Sand dune neutrals colour palette

Pebble grey colour palette | Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK

Pebble grey colour palette | Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK

Pebble grey colour palette 2 | Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK

Pebble grey colour palette 2 | Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK

Hot pink peony colour palette

Hot pink peony colour palette

Warm summer pinks colour palette | University of Oxford Botanic Garden, UK

Warm summer pinks colour palette | University of Oxford Botanic Garden, UK


More Colour Palette Inspiration & Resources

Design Seeds is an amazing, vast collection of colour palettes, created by Jessica Colaluca, using photos from Instagram submitted to the #seedscolor hashtag. You can browse by colour or by collection and the hex values for every colour are provided. In addition to the Design Seeds website, I'm sure you'd love Jessica's Instagram account @designseeds where the colour palettes are also shared. 

Coolors.co is a fantastic free online resource that generates colour palettes for you. You simply keep pressing the space bar to see endless combinations of colours that work together. You can pick a colour from a photo as a starting point if you like and you can lock in colours as you find the ones that work for you. You can save palettes you've created for future reference and also export them in a range of formats with the hex values. There is also an app for iOS and Android, and a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Pinterest is of course another great resource to search for colour inspiration. Just search for "colour palette" and the colours you're looking for. I've started a modest Colour Palette Board with a large helping of blush pinks in case you're interested.


Where do you get your colour inspiration from? I'd love to hear about any great resources you recommend. And do leave me a link to any great Pinterest boards you have :)


Skillshare: My go-to learning resource for lettering, design & illustration

Hello folks! I've been head down for the last few weeks focussing on learning - it was one of my main goals for 2017 and I was determined to make time for it. In particular I've been learning how to use Adobe Illustrator better and taking some tentative steps towards creating my own illustrations to use with my inspirational quotes.  The main resource I've used for all my learning has been Skillshare and I wanted to introduce you, in case you weren't aware of it.

Skillshare is an online learning hub with over 13,000 courses in lettering, design, illustration, photography, business, marketing, freelancing, branding and much more. Classes are all video based, which is such a great way to learn skills that are particularly visual - nothing quite like watching someone lettering or using an application to help you understand better.  Especially when you can pause and rewind to watch again! 

Some classes are free, but the majority require a Skillshare Premium subscription (currently $8 month, when paid in a lump sum, or $12 paid monthly), which allows you to watch any class (the only limit is your time!). I'm existing on a very tight budget these days, so it's been a bit of a lifesaver for me as I can't afford to attend workshops or individual online courses. It's been so helpful to have so many classes available to me in one place for a very reasonable price. This has been how I've taught myself brush lettering and how to use Adobe Illustrator to create the quotes for my Etsy shop.


If you'd like to give Skillshare a try, you can get 3 months for $0.99 by clicking on the following link (and I get a free month for anyone who sign's up - win win!): http://skl.sh/2j1Ss0h

It's got me really excited about learning again, which is a wonderful feeling, and has massively contributed to my wellbeing. I have so many classes queued up that I want to watch - I've only scratched the surface.  The biggest challenge is making the time to watch them! My favourite place to do so is sat at my computer with a notebook in front of me, but there is also an app that means you can watch classes sat on the sofa, or when you are out and about with time to kill - my husband uses his commute as learning time (but don't worry, he's not driving!).

My main focus so far has been on lettering, design, illustration and Adobe Illustrator. But there are lots of courses on photography and Lightroom/Photoshop that I want to take as well as some on branding, Instagram, freelancing.... the list is long! I thought I'd share some favourites below to give you a flavour of what's available. Some I've watched, others are on my "to watch" list. If you want to see all the classes I've saved, you can view My Profile - do let me know what yours is too - I'm always very happy to find new recommendations!

Oh and I should also add that anyone can become a teacher on Skillshare, so if you have skills you'd like to share, you might want to consider the platform. 


Lettering classes

Waterbrush Lettering Essentials - Teela Cunningham

Bounce Letters - Adding Character to your Hand Lettering - Teela Cunningham

Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners - Mary Kate McDevitt

Lettering Layouts - Create Beautiful Messages - Teela Cunningham

Intro to iPad Lettering - Teela Cunningham

~

In addition to the classes above, I'm a big fan of the free tutorials shared by Teela on her website Every Tuesday and by Pieces Calligraphy (including some tips for lefties). Teela also offers an in-depth lettering course, but alas this is outside my budget at present.

Finally, you might also want to follow along with my Brush Lettering & Calligraphy Pinterest Board where I save interesting tutorials and articles.



So what are your favourite learning resources? Do you use Skillshare? I'd love to hear your recommendations. ♡


2016: My Year in Pictures

Happy New Year lovely people! Before I get stuck into all the plans for 2017, I like to pause for a while to savour all those special moments from last year that made me happy and to celebrate all the things big and small that I'm proud of. And for me, there's no better way to do this than by looking back over my photographs.

DISCLAIMER: This is most definitely a highlight reel! Not mentioned are the lows, the tears, the bad Chronic Fatigue days, the frustrations and the self-doubt. I choose to focus on the positives and look for all the things I have to be thankful for. For me, it's the only way.

Inspired by the lovely Hannah Argyle, I've done something a little different this year. Rather than just collect together my favourite images from my "big" camera, I created a favourite grid of images from Instagram each month that capture a wider set of memories. The mosaic above is my collection for the year. I think it's fair to say I'm still in love with colour!

JANUARY 2016

JANUARY 2016

A day of fleeting snow and lots and lots of painting walls white and deliberating over which white flooring to choose. Plus of course some walks by the sea and pretty sunsets over the rooftops.


FEBRUARY 2016

FEBRUARY 2016

Signs of spring just starting to emerge and some big blue skies to help the February blues.


MARCH 2016

MARCH 2016

My first attempts at brush lettering (makes me realise how far I've come!), decorating our bedroom and trips outside in search of spring.


APRIL 2016

APRIL 2016

Colour at last! Feasting on the happy colours of tulips and daffodils and savouring every minute of our week's holiday in Cornwall.


MAY 2016

MAY 2016

Probably the happiest moment of 2016 that changed our lives forever - we adopted Misty :) Plus bluebell carpets, tulip festivals, crab apple blossom in our garden and some meditative shell faffing.


JUNE 2016

JUNE 2016

A floral extravaganza in the garden - reaping the rewards of planting out an entire back garden and most of our front garden. The most Peonies I have ever seen on one bush and the most amazing Lupins and Delphiniums. All the flowers above are from our garden.


JULY 2016

JULY 2016

A wonderful visit to West Dean Gardens in its prime, more flowers from the garden and some beautiful cliff path walks close to home.


AUGUST 2016

AUGUST 2016

Still enjoying the beautiful flowers from West Dean Gardens, plus happy visits from friends, more flowers from the garden, golden fields and walks by a mirror like sea.  Oh and some improved brush lettering!


SEPTEMBER 2016

SEPTEMBER 2016

The loveliest staycation week exploring Littlehampton, Camber Sands and Cuckmere Haven in the sunshine with little Misty. And a big milestone for me - adding some brush lettered inspirational quote designs to my Etsy shop for the first time.


OCTOBER 2016

OCTOBER 2016

A feast of autumn leaves after a lovely short break for my birthday visiting Winkworth Arboretum and Sheffield Park and Garden. Plus perfectly matching flowers from the garden for my gorgeous new bottle vase from the lovely Katie a.k.a Ceramic Magpie.


NOVEMBER 2016

NOVEMBER 2016

Sharing more leaves and bright crisp walks by the sea, whilst I'm head down working on printable calendars and designs for my Etsy shop.


DECEMBER 2016

DECEMBER 2016

Sharing more of my brush lettered designs on Instagram and the 3 printable calendars I created. Plus pretty skies, more beachy walks and the most beautiful paper peonies from A Petal Unfolds. And of course, the crazy pre-Christmas full-on rushing around and prep (not pictured!).


If you fancy taking a look at the full size images from my DSLR, head over to my 2016 Favourites set on Flickr, or click through the embedded album below.

2016 Faves

So this just leaves me to wish you all a most wonderful 2017. I hope it is filled with many happy moments and kindness to yourself, doing more of the things that bring you joy.


Hunting for autumn colour in Sussex and Surrey

Since we moved to East Sussex from Oxford two years ago, I have been on the look out for the best places to find autumn colour, and more specifically, Acers. Acer leaves are my favourite thing to photograph in the autumn - there's something so pleasing and special about their shape and the huge range of colours they display as the season moves on. The best collection of Acers I have ever found is at Westonbirt Arboretum. However, this is now quite a trek for us and most certainly not a day trip anymore. So I've been on the lookout for the best Acer collections closer to home....

Winkworth Arboretum

This year, we visited Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey (The National Trust's only arboretum) for the first time and I wasn't disappointed, even though we were probably a couple of weeks away from the peak colour. It was blissfully quiet as we visited on a week day and I'm sure this considerably added to my enjoyment!

Winkworth is a large place, so be prepared for lots of walking, some of it steep. The visitors map suggests three different routes - we opted for the "Challenging walk" with steep steps of approx. 3.6km that took in most of the arboretum. We soon strayed off track, though, as I got distracted by the leaves, so I'm not sure how much of this we completed. There's also an accessible 1km route with no steps, and a shorter "taste of" walk that is 1.6km.

For us, it was definitely a whole day trip (but bear in mind there are frequent stops for photography - I can spend a LONG time with my head and camera stuck in a single beautiful tree!) and I'm very glad we took a packed lunch with us. There is a small cafe, but the lunch options are limited and it's located at the entrance, so it's quite a trek to get back there.

Since adopting our rescue dog, Misty, one of our additional requirements this year was to find places that allowed dogs to visit. Quite a challenge, it seems! A big tick in the box for Winkworth, though, even if the "short lead" rule seemed a little unnecessary.

I think Misty enjoyed the trip, but got rather impatient with our frequent photography stops! With such a beautiful backdrop, I just had to attempt some portraits. I had grand visions of some beautiful shallow depth of field shots of Misty, with leaves gently falling around her. Reality, however, didn't quite match-up.... Photographing pets is clearly an art form and I have a lot to learn. We had fun, though!

I also got a little obsessed with photographing the seed pods. I love the bright pop of red that really catches the light. Such a brilliant distribution system!

All in all, a thoroughly lovely visit - I look forward to returning next year!

Sheffield Park and Garden

I think the best place for autumn colour and Acers close to home, has to be the National Trust's Sheffield Park and Garden in East Sussex. It really comes alive in the autumn. But with it, of course, come large visitor numbers. If you can, I would try and get there for opening time on a week day. Unfortunately we were restricted to visiting after 1.30pm as this is the only time you are allowed to take dogs in the garden. We visited a couple of times this year, once on a Friday (busy, but still pleasant) and once on a Sunday (jam-packed, noisy and very hard to get much photography in without other people in your shot!).  Still worth it, though, as it's a stunning place with a beautiful Acer collection and one I will most definitely return to next year.

My lens of choice for autumn photography is my 100mm macro lens as it allows me to get nice and close with a decent background blur (and also a good way of avoiding other people in your shots!). All the photos in this post were taken on my macro lens.  One thing I love to do is to try and line up a contrasting colour as the background for my leaf shots - for me, the background is what makes or breaks the shot.

If you'd like to read more about autumn photography you might like my Photo tips: capturing autumn/fall colour post.

One of the great things about Sheffield Park is that there is a lot of concentrated autumn colour in a relatively small space, so you don't have to walk far to take in a lot of beauty. But I guess that's the reason it's so popular and busy....


Other places to visit

Do you have any suggestions for other places to visit for autumn colour not far from East Sussex? I'd love to hear them. Other places I've visited include:

  • Nymans - a beautiful place, but best in the spring and summer I think - there was a little autumn colour, but nothing substantial. Plus, no dogs allowed in the garden.
  • Standen House and Garden - I was very disappointed when I visited here last autumn - hardly anything to see - so I haven't returned since.
  • Wakehurst Place - I love it here and there are quite a few Acers as I recall, but sadly no dogs are allowed, so we haven't visited recently.