oxford

Early autumn wanderings

I've enjoyed a couple of lovely outings with my camera recently to capture the last glimmer of summer and the new beginnings of autumn. I love this time of year - maybe it's because I'm an autumn baby - or maybe it's all that beautiful colour and gorgeous light....and the best is yet to come :)

I took a Blythe along with me to the Oxford Botanic Garden in mid-September, and met up with the lovely Ruby Red for some leisurely wanderings and a jolly good catch-up. I find a friend helps to fortify my courage with taking Blythe photos in public :) We were surprised to see so much lovely colour and carpets of beautiful cyclamens and what looked to me like crocuses. A thoroughly lovely day!

And last weekend Al and I ventured out to the fabulous Batsford Arboretum in Moreton-on-the-Marsh. It's such a beautiful place - we've visited often and it looks different every time. There was a surprising amount of autumn colour for this time of year - I love spotting the bursts of red amongst the green. And adore how magical everything looks when a sunbeam bursts through the cloud. I took bambi along with me for a little photoshoot. She took a few tumbles and is a little bit worse for wear, but I loved photographing her "out in the wild", so I guess a few tumbles go with the territory!

We also had fun taking a few portraits of each other - I needed a new pic for my blog and Al wanted to play with his new 56mm f1.2 lens for the Fuji XT1. It really does produce some dreamy results. And the Arboretum provides a lovely backdrop. I've played around with a few textures too to soften things a little. All photos of me taken by my lovely husband alpower.com and post-processed by me.

I always find walking through so much greenery and space so calming and restorative - I can highly recommend it as a way to unwind and refresh.

I've updated my Red Bubble Shop with my latest photos. If there's a particular image you would like to see that's not in Red Bubble, please let me know (hello@zoepower.co.uk) and I will happily add it for you.

Summer lovin'

I took a very welcome break from all the DIY in late May and headed to my favourite little sanctuary in Oxford, the University Botanic Garden, for my summer floral fix. It's such a peaceful space, as oasis of calm, tucked away right in the City centre. And right now it's just bursting with colour. I spent a happy hour wandering and snapping with my camera before meeting a lovely friend for lunch.

There was just so much to see, from the country garden borders above to beds of beautiful Irises of many varieties to the wild summer meadow to big blousy peonies....

All that colour really is tonic for the soul, especially when coupled with birdsong :)

I spent a long time in the large bed of Poppies, watching them dancing gracefully in the breeze. Such a beautiful, elegant flower....

I love the little details my macro lens brings out - nature really is pretty amazing.

A thoroughly lovely and restorative visit - I will be back soon! I hope you are all enjoying some summer colour, wherever you are. xxx

It's the simple things

For me, there really is so much joy to be found in the simple things in life. Like a glorious sunny spring walk around the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford. Last Sunday Al and I packed up a picnic and headed out on foot with our cameras in search of spring. I'm pleased to say we found it in abundance, looking most glorious, basking in the beautiful sunshine.

There is a beautiful circular walk around the College grounds, with paths lined with daffodils and clusters of beautiful crocuses. I don't think anything lifts the spirits quite as much as golden daffodils aglow in the sunshine - yellow for me is the colour of happy. The perfect tonic after a winter of cold and grey.

We even found a Fritillary or two, which had popped up early, encouraged by all the lovely sunshine and warmth.

I love the randomness of where the crocuses pop up - little clusters of happiness all lit up, nestling amongst the daffodils and the pretty purple Scilla Siberica flowers. Of course it meant getting low down with my camera to get the best angles - I'm very good at getting in the zone when I have a vision of what I want to capture - but unfortunately this often means that I'm not really thinking about what I'm asking my poor body to do to capture said shot. I was limping around for a few days after this beautiful walk - a mild case of spring flower strain ;)

The beautiful sunshine created some beautiful shadows and patterns with the Magdalen College architecture too.

A day of warmth and joy. It really is the simple things :)

Spring has sprung in Oxford, oh yes!

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see longer, sunny days, trees dusted in beautiful blossom and flowers poking up through the ground. Oh yes, spring is most definitely here and is most welcome indeed!

There is an absolutely gorgeous cherry blossom tree on the High Street in Oxford outside the University Church of St. Mary's. It's my spring barometer and is usually one of the first things to bloom, often in early February. I photograph it every year - it's my spring ritual and I never get bored of it! I caught it a bit late this year, as the blossom is already falling and making a very pretty carpet....

I was very happy to win the lovely Emily Quinton's Floral Friday competition last Friday with an iPhone shot of this beautiful tree :)

I also spent a most wonderful afternoon pottering around the University's Botanic Garden - another one of my favourite haunts. I'm always itching to get out my macro lens once the spring flowers start poking through, so I was a bit trigger happy - but who could blame me? I also had a lovely picnic lunch OUTSIDE in the sunshine with a lovely friend :)

I stepped inside one of the beautiful glass houses to be greeted by the most divine scent of Jasmine - and so many floral and ferny delights. It was so warm too. I felt like a happy cat in a window :)

I also braved some of the hotter glass houses - really didn't need my feather down coat and woolly hat that's for sure! The beautiful, delicate (and tiny) crocuses below were in the Alpine House.

I hope you're not bored of springy images yet, as there are lots more coming! I had the most delicious walk last Sunday amongst daffodils and crocuses galore....watch this space! And enjoy this gorgeous spring sunshine when it appears :)

Crafty bloggers' evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford

So what do you get when you mix a bunch of Oxford bloggers, the Cath Kidston store in Oxford, mulled wine, delicious noms, and some Xmas crafting activities? A whole lot of fun, lots of chatter, much distraction, photo taking and shopping!

I had a really fun evening with NatashaVickiCathrynCatherineDina, and Rosalind. The lovely people at CK had laid on a marvellous feast and prepared some very pretty crafting tables, ready for us to make our own Christmas decorations from a kit.

Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford
Bloggers' crafty evening at Cath Kidston, Oxford

We started very enthusiastically, but it wasn't long before the temptations of an empty Cath Kidston store lured us away from crafting.... It was all looking so pretty and so Christmassy.....

Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford

I just adore the wallpaper that runs up the staircase - I'd love a feature wall in this....

Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford
Cath Kidston, Oxford

I completely fell in love with the mushroom print and came away with some fabric (I'm thinking tote bag, with a red polka dot lining to start with...), a mug and a plate :) And those pastel spoons looked so good with it, so they came along too...

I think I went a bit mushroom crazy - LOVE this print!
I think I went a bit mushroom crazy - LOVE this print!

As we were leaving, the very lovely people at Cath Kidston pressed a goody bag into our hands. This was inside...

Our goody bag
Our goody bag

As I was rather too distracted to finish the task at hand during the evening (I blame the mulled wine and fabulous company!), I finished sewing my santa back at home and he now has pride of place hanging on the fireplace :)

Cath Kidston Xmas decoration I made

Thanks so much to Charlotte for arranging the evening and to everyone at Cath Kidston for looking after us so well - it was lots of fun.

It's a big day for Cath Kidston today, as the new flagship store in Picadilly has just opened (the largest in the world!). Definitely on my must visit list the next time I'm in London. And watch out for those Cath Kidston taxis!!

My new best friend

I've wanted to learn to sew for ages. About 5 years ago I bought a tiny John Lewis sewing machine. It was red and looked very pretty. But I didn't know how to use it so it stayed in its box. For years. Much time passed and I went on a "make friends with your sewing machine course" which was good, but I never seemed to have the time to practice (photography was always so much easier...) and I didn't know where to start really with following a pattern, etc. So more time passed and my little red machine stayed in its box.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure to attend an intensive sewing course for beginners with Louise Paeman. It took place over two Saturdays and as well as covering how to use your sewing machine, we actually made some things, learning how best to place our patterns on our fabrics, how to cut out, how to follow a pattern, how to sew in a zip, and lots of useful tips and tricks. I absolutely loved it and can highly recommend Louise's courses if you are in the Oxford area.

Just as I was about to get stuck into the first bit of real sewing at the end of our first day, my little red machine decided to die. Louise kindly lent me her machine and my goodness, it was a dream! Chalk and cheese! So to cut a long story short, I decided on a beautiful new Janome sewing machine for my 40th birthday present. I love it! It's my new best friend. And at the moment, I am particularly relishing the speed control - as you can see I have it set to tortoise speed :)

The first thing we made was a reversible tote bag. I chose some beautiful vintage fabrics - the large print is Roundelay by Jonelle (not sure who made the lining fabric).

Tote bag I made
Tote bag I made
Tote bag I made

Our second make was a cosmetic bag. I decided to use a different fabric again for the lining, which made it more complicated, but I love the contrast. We used iron on interfacing to give the bag some support so it would stand up OK. And we gave it a flat bottom - and a zip! Not bad for the second thing I've ever sewn on a machine!

Cosmetic bag I made
Cosmetic bag I made

I found the fabric when I was on holiday in the USA, in a tiny store on Mount Desert Island in Maine. It is a Tammis Keefe Tribute by Michael Miller Fabrics called Tammis Dogs.

You can read more about Tammis Keefe in this great Tribute post on the Making it Fun blog

- I adore her designs. I wish I'd bought more, now...

Cosmetic bag I made
Cosmetic bag I made

I'm rather pleased with my makes. There are some wonky bits, but you don't really notice them. And I'm going to make more - this machine is not going to hide in a box!

Friday Favourites ~ Vintage market treasures

Happy Friday one and all! Something a little different today. I thought I would share some of my favourite vintage finds over the last several months via some mosaics of my Instagram snaps....

The first mosaic below shows some of the treasure I have found at the vintage market in Oxford. It is held every Thursday in Gloucester Green and is fabulous! I work nearby and try to manage a quick dash round in my lunch hour most weeks. You will find a wide range of different sellers with everything from china to coins to clothes to books to art.... If you live near Oxford, do go and have a browse! Read more about it at www.oxfordantiquemarket.co.uk

The second mosaic below shows other vintage finds I have sourced from lots of places, including these fabulous shops:

Enjoy browsing and treasure hunting and have a fabulous weekend! x

A sunny summer Sunday stroll

I hope you're all enjoying this gorgeous summer weather we've been having! So very lovely to have day after day of sunshine and blue skies - tonic for the soul indeed.

Sunbathing in the Botanic Garden, Oxford

The lovely Candy Pop and I ventured out last Sunday for a stroll around Oxford in the sunshine - what a scorcher!

We started out in the beautiful Botanic Garden - everything's out in full bloom, so there was colour everywhere you looked. I bought a Blythe along with me for some summer shots and we managed to find a pretty spot in the shade for a pic or two :)

Summer brights
Summer meadow
Summer in the Botanic Garden, Oxford
Layers of purple
Pastel prettiness

After some sparkling limonata and a superfood salad al fresco in the cool breeze, we headed onwards to the beautiful and peaceful Magdalen College (oh and there may have been a short pit stop to acquire a gorgeous minty owl vase on the way....). Plenty of quiet, shady spots here for some outfit shots. Oh and some of the deer had wandered unusually close by, so we got a bonus peek of these beautiful shy creatures (but sadly no pics - wrong lens on at the time...). Photos of me taken by the very lovely Candy Pop.

Summer days at Magdalen College, Oxford
Summer days at Magdalen College, Oxford
Summer days at Magdalen College, Oxford
Summer days at Magdalen College, Oxford

What I'm wearing: top - Anthropologie (many moons ago) | denim skirt - Howies (also many moons ago) | Birkies | hoop handled bag made from vintage fabrics - Reloved Preloved (one of many - I *adore* these bags :)

We stopped for a little rest in the shade on the lawn and I couldn't get over how immaculate the grass looked - lots of love and care has clearly gone into tending this. It also made a fabulous backdrop for some more Blythe shots.

Summer days at Magdalen College, Oxford
In my bag...
Gorgeous yellow prints
Summer florals

Well that's all for now folks - back soon with some more summery photos. Hope you're all enjoying this fabulous sunshine and managing to stay cool! Z x

Did you know the O3 Gallery in Oxford has a lovely shop?

And it sells some of my greeting cards (above and below). Plus a whole bunch of lovely other things, including cards, prints, artwork, jewellery and gifts made by local and national artists.

Greeting card designs

The shop nestles neatly on the top level of the circular gallery, whilst the main space is used for exhibitions. You can find the O3 Gallery in the Oxford Castle.

O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford

I just love the bunny necklace below and the fabulous brooches by Sketch Inc.

O3 Gallery, Oxford
O3 Gallery, Oxford

I also adore these stunning rings by Monvatoo - I'll take the owl and the rabbit please ;)

Here are a few more of my card designs available at the O3 Gallery:

Greeting card designs
Greeting card designs
Greeting card designs

Whilst these particular card designs can only be found at the O3 Gallery, you can also buy my cards in packs from my Etsy shop and individually from my Red Bubble shop, along with a range of other prints. Wishing you all a most fabulous sunny summer weekend - get out and enjoy that sunshine!

Oxford in bloom

This is really part II of my earlier post - it was such a lovely day I was a bit trigger happy and there were too many pics for one post! So let's rewind back to last Sunday...

Oxford really was looking stunning in the spring sunshine, reminding me how lucky I am to live here. All the blossom had exploded at once and everywhere was just sooo pretty. I'm so glad I got a chance to capture it all as the wind and rain has since blown all those pretty delicate petals away....

So, after stuffing ourselves full of cake and tea at the Randolph, we decided a gentle meander through Oxford in the sunshine was in order. And a few more outfit shots for good measure. Photos of me (a rare treat for you ;) taken by the very lovely Candy Pop.

Blossom loveliness
Blossom loveliness
Blog photoshoot
Blog photoshoot
Blog photoshoot
Blog photoshoot

What I'm wearing:

Pink tunic and jeans by Joules Brogues by Clarks Scarf ~ vintage (from The Shop off Brick Lane)

Vintage lace

Candy Pop wears: Vintage lace blouse and necklace

Christchurch College, Oxford
Oxford bike
No.18
Magdalen School for Boys
Blossom loveliness