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Sarah's Picks!

There was no update last week because I completely forgot about it!

This week is slightly different. I asked my teenage sister, Sarah, to pick some things off Etsy for me to feature. She recently had her ears pierced so it seemed like earrings would be a good thing to go with. She's even written her own comments about what she's chosen.

If this goes well, or if I become very lazy, I may ask my other sister Tilly to pick some things as well in the future!

So here we go, Sarah's Picks;

 Earrings - Heart Spots by AmaltheaCPH

I like these earrings because the colours are really nice and they remind me of summer! Also they are very cute ;D

Elegant Leaf by iloniti

These earrings are.....AMAZING!!! I love the how the gold leaves go with those pastel pearls. Very vintage and very pretty. I want them........ !

Emma Earrings by tamar

These earrings are very pretty and very summery <3 I love them!

Little Birds by smallhappinessdesign

I like these earrings because I think those little birds are cute and sweet :] I love those little beads, really nice colour! I'm thinking maybe Spring and Summer earrings ;D

And that's Sarah's Picks! Have a lovely week everyone. Normal service will probably resume next Sunday!

The Walk!

I've just stumbled through the front door with knackered legs and worn out feet, because today I did a five mile walk for the Motor Neurone Disease Association around Bushey Park, near Richmond/Twickenham/Kingston in London.

When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was look out my window. Yesterday it rained a lot so I was praying that it would stay dry, and while it was cloudy that didn't necessarily mean that it would rain. I just had to cross my fingers. My first stop, before getting the bus to Richmond, was to the bakery for breakfast. The original plan was to get cheese straws but I realised that while they're tasty they're not exactly filling. So I also bought a flapjack too.

A flapjack like this by Marmalady, except mine didn't have fruit.

The bus journey was interesting, I've been driving for nearly 7 years now so I'm not used to buses, so the trip consisted of me worrying that I had got on the wrong bus and was going to end up miles away in the wrong direction. When the display showed my stop was next I nearly threw myself out of the door then and there XD

The set off point was the Stockyard Entrance to the park, marked out with blue and orange balloons and a bloke in a blue t-shirt who pointed me to the little tent set up where I could register. I was already wearing the MND t-shirt I was given when I went to cheer at the London Marathon, but they gave me a second one ("this one has extra feet!") and a little two orange feet badge. After that there was nothing to do but stand around and wait for the 11 am kick off. I was on my own and knew absolutely no one, but one of the marshalls wandered over and had a chat with me and explained the route. It started to rain so we all ran under cover, but it quickly cleared up so we all hoped that that would be end of it.

By 11 everyone was ready so we went to the "starting point", the gate to the Park, where a man with a megaphone gave us a few quick details and then we were on our way!

There were quite a few people ahead of me, and my intent was not to stride on ahead like I normally do but to stroll along. Unfortunately I didn't have anyone to talk to and match paces with, and I had Metallica in my ears and some of their music has quite a fast beat, so I slowly but surely began to overtake people until I was well ahead, with only two people in front of me.

The walk was very nice along a path that wound it's way through the park. It's obviously a very popular space, there were lots of cyclists and joggers and a few other walkers as well. The problem with being in front was that I wasn't sure if I was going in the right direction so I occasionally glanced back to see if anyone was following and felt very relieved when I saw the line of other blue shirts, until I ended up going a bit too far ahead and lost sight of them completely but by this time one of the marshalls, who was on a bike, realised just how fast I was walking to he gave me directions for the next section so I knew where I was going.

I spotted a deer like this! (Photo from petekdesign on Etsy)

I eventually caught up with the couple ahead of me when they slowed down to look at some deer that were in the park and talked to them as we walked. And then the rain started, properly. They paused to pull on coats and take cover under a tree but by this point I was in my stride so I carried on walking, even though the rain was rather on the heavy side. It soon stopped but by that point my clothes were quite wet, however I simply bore the damp (I HATE walking in wet jeans) and strolled on regardless, still listening to Metallica who proved to be a very good motivator.

Bushey Park!

And then suddenly the sun came out! And it was at that point that I remembered I had my camera with me so I dug it out of my bag (still walking) and shot my only sunny snap of the day (again, while still walking) as I rounded a corner and found a nice green space. At this point I was starting to slow down as my energy was flagging but I knew I couldn't be too far away from the end. I had been overtaken by two people jogging (jogging five miles!?) but apart from them I was still well ahead. I finally got to the final stretch, which is always the worst part. It was about two thirds of the way up the original path from the main gate but it seemed much, much longer! The end was in sight but it looked like the longest distance in the world!

Me, massively frizzy hair is totally in fashion this season XD

Except obviously it wasn't the longest distance in the world. I walked through the same gate I had started at and wandered back to the tents. The problem with being the first walker to finish (I have no idea where the jogging people went) was that I had no idea where I was going, no crowd to follow, so I stood around like a lemon until someone in yet another blue t-shirt spotted me, asked if I had finished and sent me off to a barn where food had been set out! As soon as the word "tea" was mentioned I nearly collapsed on the floor from relief before getting a sandwich and some sausage rolls.

The next people to arrive were the couple I had spoken to, and then other people began to arrive back and wander in as well. I had a nice conversation with a lady called Kim, who is part of one of the fundraising groups and has now added me to their newsletter and who took the above photo for me, and then I headed home.

In total I've raised £275 for the MND Association! My target was £200 so I'm ecstatic about thoroughly breaking it and owe my sponsors a big, big thank you for contributing on my Justgiving page. This is a charity that is very close to my heart since my Grandad passed away from MND and is always going to be close to my heart, at least until a cure for MND is finally found. It says a lot about this illness that the first two questions I was asked this morning (and several times throughout the day) were "What's your name?" and "Who did you lose to MND?", and those weren't official questions for the registration.

Me and some of my family in Italy in 2005, with my Grandad on the far right!

Have a nice week everyone!

Ham House!

For the first time in a while I managed to get a weekend that was dry and warm, but not excessively hot and humid! To me this is a rarity so I took the opportunity and joined a little social group in their trip to the lovely Ham House.

Ham House is a beautiful red brick building just east of Richmond in Surrey, set near the Thames. It was built in the early 1600's and was owned by Elizabeth Maitland, the countess of Dysart. It stayed in the line of the Earls of Dysart until it was given to the National Trust in 1948. Oh, and it's apparantly haunted but luckily I didn't see any ghosts while I was there.

Obviously, this is the front of Ham House. There's a walk up a paved road to get to the main gates where you pay to go in (or wave your National Trust membership card and get in for free like I did). They don't have a ticket office but they do have a National Trust branded van, where they can also sign up new members if you want to join! Once you get through the gate you're free to wander as you wish, you can go into the house, round the gardens or to the cafe which is in the old orangery. The group I was with decided to go into the house first before going on a short garden tour.

Yes that's me (spot the iPod earphone wire XD) outside the very large front door! This led into the main hall, a lovely big room with a nice tiled floor and various pictures on the walls. There isn't a guided tour, like most NT properties nowadays you just wander as you wish, but we were given a nice mini guidebook which had a suggested route for us to take and gave a bit of information about each room. We got to see some rooms on the first floor and the basement before we returned to the great hall and went back outside.

The main staircase was decorated with beautiful wooden carvings such as this one of a cannon! Unfortunately you can't take photos using a flash and my camera is rubbish in the dark so that's the best picture of several that I took in the place. But the inside of the house really is lovely, my favourite room was the library which was filled with vintage books! The basement was interesting too, although I must say that I think my time at Wimpole Hall spoiled me as some of the basement was on the bare side when compared to that at Wimpole. It was still nice to see though, the best part of these houses is seeing how both sides of the household lived.

And finally we went on a short garden tour. There was a nice "cherry tree orchard", which was missing it's cherry trees because they were removed long before the National Trust took over. At the back of the house were some lovely lawns that then led down to the "wilderness", which is a semi-cultivated space with lots of hedges and tucked away corners for picnics. And there was also a statue of Hermes! Of course, the classical theme is strong in these kinds of places.

Once we were done with our garden tour we had tea and cakes from the cafe and sat outside near the kitchen garden and chatted. It was a really lovely day out, if you're a National Trust member and have to visit Ham House then I thoroughly recommend it!

My next weekend is going to be just as eventful, not only am I working on the Saturday but on the Sunday I'm going to be doing a sponsored walk for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. This is a charity really close to my heart and I've set myself a target of raising £200, you can read more about it at my fundraising page!

Have a lovely week everyone!

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