Sunday, 28 June 2020

Penshurst Place Gardens: a fairytale jewel in Kent!

Penshurst Place you gorgeous fairytale-esque gem! Exploring the gardens of the 14th century Manor House was a sense of happy freedom last felt months ago. Life in lockdown has taken its toll I admit, and I'm pretty blooming glad that we're now allowed to shoot sought-after content I'd started to plan for 2020 beforehand. Until normality is within closer reach we will be avoiding London, which means at the moment we are making the most of areas outside the capital. Penshurst Place is a beautiful tranquil landscape of heaven; think apple trees, climbing roses and dream-like courtyards.
Last Saturday we enjoyed strolling around the grounds, making the most of one of the first tourist-y things we've done since the world ground to a halt. Bunch of bright blooms in hand, the cherry-print dress from asos I'd wanted to wear for blossom season finally made its first appearance, and the stunning pink roses climbing high was a cute coincidence that just so happened to coincide with my outfit and handheld flowers! Matching pink rainbow-striped hat and new addition heart shaped sunglasses finished off the summer solstice vibe, post-Barbados style!


Luckily it was a blue-skied day, and with social distancing measures firmly in place the acres were easy to explore in carefree harmony. The Manor House is closed for now, but the gardens and cafe remain open with social distancing measures firmly in place, reassuringly carried out well and putting our afternoon at ease. The Garden has different themes, colour and season wise, and our wanderings took us towards jade green waters housing vibrant water lilies, orchards and flower beds; in particular a gorgeous courtyard surrounded by displays of white roses, the ultimate Alice in Wonderland type of enchanting escapism. Lush lavender jostles for space alongside magnolia blossom and frothing fountains. Craving the Cotswolds, the tumbling pink displays of flowers were almost enough to cast us there, albeit Garden of England style! 

I'll admit I'm not always the biggest fan of Kent, I don't seem to be enchanted by the same kind of spell a lot of others seem to fall under in regards to the Garden of England. Although they say to bloom where you're planted I'd rather enjoy adventures outside of the county as much as I can, especially when it comes to content - I like to get as creative as possible in different spaces - but I've got to admit Penshurst Place was a real jewel, a childhood favourite and one we'll most definitely be returning to now and then, especially given the current circumstances!

It's so lovely to have the option to get creative with content, and after not feeling very inspired to blog or be as active on my social media channels, I'm finally ready to start making a reappearance again. One of the biggest reasons I enjoy what I do so much is down to all the adventures and places we venture, and knowing I can make my visions come alive with new travels on the map is one of the main things that keeps me inspired! Hoping to at least tick some more boxes in 2020 in regards to wanderlust! Be sure to follow me over on Instagram and Twitter for surplus pictures and content! ♥︎
 If you want to visit the gorgeous Penshurst Place Gardens then be sure to check out their website for further information on opening times and social distancing measures. We'll most definitely be coming back for another visit very soon! ♥︎


Have you been to any pretty places or gardens lately? Let me know in the comments! 


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Wednesday, 15 April 2020

5 unexpected things helping my mental health during the lockdown

When the lockdown was first announced, my anxiety, already quite bad, shot through the roof. I had built a much better space for myself mentally whilst away for my birthday, only for it all to come crashing down soon after we got home as the news reached horrifying heights. I honestly didn't know how I'd be able to cope with the prospect of a lockdown. In brief, a lot of the time I work from home alone whilst my boyfriend does both early and late shifts, and often our precious two days off are the silver lining I look forward to. My boyfriend is a key worker so is still going to work as normal. Both loneliness and low moods can culminate in my anxiety and depression worsening. Despite being all too familiar with solitude, and it being something I prefer over a social work enivornment, I was still concerned about how I would cope. 

Soon after the first week of lockdown, I was taken aback by how much my general mood seemed to be improving, and that actually, I seemed to be coping a lot better than most people I was talking to. This seemed both strange and bizarre, and I couldn't understand it. When I set eyes upon this really insightful article that I related to on many levels, I felt relief that I wasn't the only one with mental health struggles who seemed to be doing surprisingly OK. With a vow made to myself to tackle more honest topics on the blog again, I've decided to focus on 5 things that I've found to be of great help to my mental health and general wellbeing during the lockdown and this unsettling, unknown time.

5 unexpected things helping my mental health during the lockdown 

Focusing on what I CAN do, not what I CAN'T 
I'm personally finding it neither productive nor helpful hearing everyone talk about what they're missing out on and can't wait to do once the lockdown is over. Even though it's understandable, personally it only gets me frustrated and resentful and I don't want to be simmering with resentment, so instead I'm choosing NOT to imagine all the wonderful things I could be doing, and instead putting all my energy into what I can do during the current moment. Luckily I have a major new chapter and career focus in my life that I've just started, so have been pouring my heart and soul into that. It's been a massive game-changer in taking my mind off things. I've heard of people making lists of places they want to visit/travel/explore when this is all over, writing down anything they want to do, placing them in a jar and keep that jar for when the future looks brighter. Even though right now those things won't help me, everyone's different and it's all about doing things that will help you day by day, block by block.

Switching off from the toxicity on social media 
Speaking to a friend recently, we discussed how much hypocrisy and martyrdom there is online at the moment. We both agreed it has had a detrimental effect on our mental health, making us feel guilty and ashamed for merely going shopping for essential food items and for daily exercise (which we are currently allowed to do in the UK, so long as you observe Government guidelines and social distance.) I'm 100% for people making valid points, spreading awareness and standing up for what they believe in, especially when it comes to calling out shameless individuals flouting rules and making the lockdown shadow even further over the summer, but what pisses me off is the amount of triggering tweets people seem to throw out without a second thought for someone else's mental health. The lack of thought to those already fighting battles with their mental health astounds me, especially when I see the amount of individuals retweeting purely for shock value and scare-mongering purposes. I'd really urge anyone to consider and think twice before sharing such content right now. Unfortunately I seem to be following a few people that have retweeted content that has affected me quite badly, and it's definitely made me question just why I happen to be following them in the first place. The toxicity on social media has reached violent heights in my eyes, every time I go on twitter I instantly feel sick. Now I limit my time and try to avoid the news, having a look only to keep informed as and when. Logging off, switching off and unfollowing, muting, whatever - make sure life online isn't ruining yours.

Making mental mind blocks 
Like everyone else, I have so many places that mean so much to me that I can't frequent right now. But as mentioned above, it isn't helping me to think of any of them. I don't know quite how, but I've managed to mentally block a lot of them out of my mind. Those places no longer exist for me, until further notice. I limit myself to the odd fleeting thought of something I enjoy, and will enjoy in the future, and that's enough. I prefer to focus on what I can do, day by day. It's baffling to me how I've managed to keep such control and mentally file the places I love away into some faraway filing cabinet, but it's helping me so much in the here and now. I try not to look through photos on my phone of all the places I've been to that are all off limits, but when I do I try not to get nostalgic and just (for example if I'm editing a picture for Instagram) keep matter of fact about things and not think too deeply about it all. My boyfriend and I are great creatures of habit and visit a few places weekly, and have done ever since we first dated. But right now routine has been broken, and will stay broken until things get back to normal. Like I said, I'm choosing to focus on taking things one day at a time.

When the lockdown was first announced I wanted answers - how long will it stay like this? When will things get back to normal? How many weeks or months will lockdown remain in place for? I wasted time scrolling through people's opinions online. Funnily enough, everyone was an expert in predicting when lockdown would be over. Realistically nobody has answers and any crystal ball currently looks cloudy. None of us know. So I've stopped putting time constraints on the current situation and am just going to wait and see what happens. False hope is a faithless potion to the remedy we all want to magic before our eyes. Answers are unavailable right now, so I'm intending to take it day by day until there's a brighter outcome.


Being selective in who I give my time & energy to 
One key thing I've realised during lockdown is to make note of who is draining my energy and who is replenishing it. A few messages I've received have really got me down when otherwise I've been feeling as bright as is possible to feel in the moment. Naturally we're all going to be talking about what's going on - how can we not? - but taking my wellbeing into account I don't want to speak to someone who is constantly reminding me of all the worry and fear I'm already trying so hard to keep under control. Likewise when people are putting content up online that's positive I find it sad when others can't seem to resist mentioning what's going on - especially when the post has literally nothing to do with all the upset. Let's allow those that want to create a positive and safe space online away from all this horror to do so. We all need a distraction right now, and I'm personally enjoying seeing colourful photos of spring blooms and pretty dresses. Same goes for all the rainbows drawn on roads and encouraging teddy bears in windows. We all need some joy to run with right now.


Realising I can't control the situation 
I can't control the uncontrollable, simple as that. Before the lockdown, whenever we had a day out planned I'd always freak out at the possibility of something derailing it. I like to know we can definitely do something, what time we're leaving, etc. etc. Any change of plan left me bitterly disappointed and panicked. But since this has happened I've realised there's something peaceful about not having to make structured plans. My boyfriend and I have just enjoyed a week off together, originally we'd planned a fun-filled time with lots of busy days out. Obviously this didn't happen but we were both surprised by the really enjoyable week we both had regardless. We read a lot, took peaceful walks, watched some amazing Spike Lee movies (my favourite director and one of my heroes), some amazing Harrison Ford movies (Graham's favourite actor and one of his heroes), ate some lovely food and enjoyed a pizza delivery. We clinked wine and beer bottles and had cake to celebrate Graham's birthday on Saturday. The week whizzed past because we made the best of it, and I'm so glad we did. If the lockdown has taught me anything it's that sometimes you just have to get on with things and make the best of what you've got.

There are lots of other little things helping my mental health during the lockdown right now, but these are the key points I wanted to make. Please remember to take care of your mental health and do what's right for you during this difficult time, while of course adhering to the guidelines too to keep everyone safe! I know everyone's situation is different and that we all have our struggles and worries right now. Sending everyone reading this lots of love and light! ♥︎


What's helping you stay positive during the lockdown? 

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Sunday, 5 April 2020

Beautiful Barbados | Hunte's Gardens

Wow. Life has truly turned upside down since we celebrated my 30th birthday back in February. My boyfriend and I were lucky to bask in the sunshine on one of my favourite Caribbean islands in the world, beautiful Barbados. Soon after we got back all the chaos descended and I haven't felt up to sharing much on social media since the lockdown, but with the support and encouragement from lots of loved ones I've decided to press on and share the first chapter of our "beautiful Barbados" adventures with you. I think sometimes it's nice to have an escape from the news, I know it's helping my anxious mind keep as positive as possible right now by focusing on all the things I can, rather than can't, do.




Hunte's Garden's aka 'the most enchanting place on Earth' was our chosen outing for the first full-length day we had in Barbados. Desperate to soak up as much of the holiday as we possibly could, we wanted a tranquil, easy-going day out, and this tropical nirvana was MAGIC. Situated in St Joseph, the tropical gardens open up fairytale views for miles, including bubbling fountains, lush flowers in breathtakingly bright colours and palm trees beneath cobalt blue skies. The only blot on our horizon was an unbelievably rude cab driver who insisted upon arrival we wouldn't need more than an hour here and tried to dictate our day for us. After realising we were having none of it, he thankfully got the message and I'm so glad we stood firm, especially seeing as we spent a good 3-4 hours here!



Skipping stones, beautiful buddhas and wishing wells sat pretty alongside all the greenery, flowers springing everywhere in sight. We were surprised at how much there was to explore, with lots of gorgeous spots to sit if you wanted to just drink in the scenery. Every corner felt like your own little jungle corridor of pure paradise! Unintentionally, lilacs and greens were my colour code for the holiday. Vibrant violets coupled with gemstone tones such as jade and emerald in exotic brights seemed to be my island-inspired hues, the clash of green against purple captured in many of my outfits during our stay in Barbados. For Hunte's Gardens I wore my new polka-dot mini-dress in the prettiest lilac shade, plus heart-shaped sunglasses.


After exploring the dream-like gardens, we went for refreshments - rum punch and warmed carrot cake to be precise, the best I've ever tasted no less! The owner - Anthony Hunte - greeted us and a few other guests as we sat in chic, cosy surroundings overlooking palm trees and flower fields. Despite visiting some other hidden gems in Barbados during our stay, Hunte's Gardens remained a firm favourite and was definitely one of my favourite days out there. I wanted to stay forever! If you are looking to visit Barbados in the future, I'd definitely make Hunte's Garden's one of your hot-spots! ♥︎ 

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy Barbados: top 5 colourful places to visit on the island.
~
Butterfly

"Yes it's true, the best things in life are free. Not material, chemical or physically. Try it for yourself, you'll get a guaranteed high, from spiritual love, natural miracle drug." - Stevie Wonder, Chemical Love. 

🔮🌿☘