York Cocoa House

It’s another quick stop for the Hot Chocolate Hot Spots – gosh, try saying that 10 times over – but yes it’s been a while since the last spot, sorry about that but all my hot drinks lately have come in the form of to-go cups! So for a little recap, if you haven’t already read the previous hot chocolate stops or would like a refresher, take a look at my Crumbs and The Perky Peacock posts. But I’m settled back comfortably in York and it is now the perfect weather for a toasty warm mug of chocolate goodness, so expect some more as there are still a LOAD more places I need to visit and share with you guys.

On a chilly, autumn morning after a dreaded 9am start at uni – a cosy, chocolate filled atmosphere and a friend to catch up with was something definitely in need! The York Cocoa House was a place we’d visited before so it was an easy, quick decision to make for a toasty, warm cup of hot cocoa!

It’s a little taste of Old York in a cottage styled building and when entering you feel as though you’ve transported back in time to a traditional chocolatiers.  We were greeted by the lovely staff and walked through the twinkly lit archway, taking a seat by one of their amazing Autumnal displays, so festive! We already knew we wanted hot chocolates but when deciding what type of hot chocolate, we were completely spoiled for choice. They range from so many different flavours  from peppermint, ginger, caramel, orange, chilli, classic and a lot more. I decided on a orange hot chocolate and a raspberry chocolate cup! (I original wanted a lemon one but they were all out! 😦 )

The drinks and cakes arrived, the hot chocolates came with a cute little strawberry truffle on the side… now if you have a solid sweet tooth then you will love the raspberry chocolate cup. Personally, it was too sweet for me – I’m more of a savoury eater – and on its own I would have loved it but with the sweetness of the hot chocolate (and that darn, gorgeous little truffle) it all got a little overwhelming for me – sweet in a sickly way. So I ended up just eating the chocolate cup casing leaving the raspberry centre, but THAT HOT CHOCOLATE THOUGH! As you can see in one of the pictures above, where I may be looking at it in disgust, no, that is the look of love. Trust me. It had just the right amount of an orange kick, at a perfect drinking temperature and an overall smooth, silky texture.

Aside from its appearance, what makes the place really unique  is that literally everything – and I really mean everything – will have some form of chocolate as an ingredient. So if you don’t like chocolate you’re pretty much screwed. I’m sorry, let me rephrase that – who the heck doesn’t like chocolate?! The Cocoa House would be an amazing pit-stop for those tiring shopping days, it’s in the heart of the city so a must-try within this build up to Christmas because it just oozes festivity!

They have a lovely selection of to-go nibbles too, and hot chocolate blends so you can make your own heavenly chocolate drinks at home. You can check out what they have HERE and also see the full selection of menus.

Chocolate lover out x

 

 

 

Confessions of an English Literature Student: September

Please note: All actions conducted throughout this post are not commonly practiced by all English Literature students – it’s just me, well I like to think other students do but I highly doubt it, so again, this is just me.

Let’s start at the beginning. It’s a few weeks before the start of 3rd year…

It’s the end of August. September is dawning. You remember you have a reading list, you haven’t read anything from that reading list, you don’t have any of the books on that reading list in your possession! – $@!% – You search for the books on Amazon but you find that they are cheaper on Ebay, score! Oh, second hand? You think, ‘ah, a few coffee rings, some creased spines and dog-eared pages, it’ll be okay.’ Add them all to your bag. Proceed to checkout. You want to pay extra for next-day delivery because you’re an idiot and you left it too late and need them as soon as possible. Turns out next-day delivery is more expensive than the books themselves – what?! – So you go back to Amazon. You see that Amazon works out cheaper (next-day delivery included)! – Better! – Proceed to checkout, pay, order confirmed – success!

The next day you are expecting the books to arrive. It’s not a clothes or shoes delivery, so you haven’t been hanging around the front door all morning or peering out of the windows waiting for a delivery van to park up – puh-lease like I do that anyway, who am I kidding? Of course I do that – but these are just books (spoken like a passionate English Literature student, eh?)

The books finally arrive. You unbox them to make sure they’re all there. Really you are secretly checking the thickness of each one, as you calculate how long it would actually take you to finish each one. Ah, you can get each one read in two days easy! In reality: Two weeks tops – give or take a few days – for each one. You place your mini library in a pile on your desk, you aim to start reading straight away. The pile isn’t touched for two weeks. The new term starts in two days. You panic. Time has gone too fast, you’ve been too busy…binge watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix all Summer. You pick up the slimmest book of the lot. By luck it is also the first book on the reading list. You begin to read it. The introduction is long, like really long. You skip that and find the first chapter. Eleven pages in you put the book down. It hasn’t enticed you yet so you think ‘time for a cuppa’. You make the tea. You sit in front of the TV.

Forty-four minutes later. The episode you have just viewed has ended on a cliffhanger. You’ve finished your tea…a while ago. You need to know what happens in the next episode. You reach for the TV remote, but then hesitate. You reach for the book instead, good girl. You tell yourself to read up until the next chapter. When you reach the next chapter the plot finally begins to get interesting, so you continue reading. Ah, false alarm, the book has hit a lull. The book gets placed down (again). You say to yourself ‘you love books, you really do!’

You tell yourself, you’ll read more tomorrow.

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The confessional chronicles is a little something I thought would be fun to share with you guys. It’s basically an update of what I get up to at Uni (or haven’t got up to) but kind of like a behind-the-scenes version of all the kafuffle and chaos that comes along the way – I know every student at some point can relate with. Stay tuned for my first day of third year…

Sincerely,
the bookworm finding it difficult to finish a book (oh the irony!)
x

P.S. I do love books, I really do!

Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Okay all you bookworms, I got a little something for you. I only do book reviews when I really think the book deserved to be buzzed about (or if it was so awful that I don’t think any human should read it, ever.) But The Miniaturist definitely deserves to be buzzed about!

My first take on it was just how refreshing it was to read! Within the sea of newly published print that are piled up in Waterstones, WH Smith and are top selling on Amazon – Burton’s book stood out to me. Okay, you know the whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? – (C’mon I know we all do it) and I’ll admit I did that with this one, it was Waterstones’ whole ‘limited edition book cover’ and the ‘exclusive only at Waterstones’ promotions that got me – and I was bloody glad it did! It’s a rare gem that is beautiful inside and out, Burton’s writing style is reminiscent of the classical greats, yet the modern twists of language and its fluidity when telling the story is what makes it unique.

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It is a pretty looking cover, right?

So, now about the actual story….

Burton takes us back all the way to the year 1686, Amsterdam and with the year and setting this story immediately oozes a uniqueness and quality that other recent publications lack. Although the story is written in English the thing that makes it different is the Amsterdam-ian phrases that Burton slips into the story when talking about a certain type of food or dress, it brings the culture of the setting alive!

The reader is viewing this world through the eyes of our protagonist, the very young Petronella as we witness the way she adjust to her newly married life and the complications she also has been married to. We are whisked back to the very old, highly religious and traditional ways of society where there are clear divisions of those that are prestigious and the paupers. The characters Burton has created live in a world we are not familiar with, we gain a taste of the harshness of the real world yet it offers a hint of a fairy-tale –  from evil sister in-laws to slaves and secrets, it’s constantly full of surprises! It made me go ‘WHAT!?’ a couple of times with a few gasps and once maybe I think I was like ‘NOOOO’ whilst my jaw had dropped for a few pages. So yeah, the perfect page-turner and in my opinion, a modern classic.

And I suppose that’s all I can really say without giving it all away!

If you’ve already read it and loved it as much as I did – or maybe you hated it, its not everybody cup of tea – but I’d still love to hear your opinions!  😉 And recommendations for reads are always in need, so please give me some! Need something to escape from my uni reading list!

Bookworm out!

 

Intern Iram

Hey there you lovely lot! I have something a little extra special to share with you guys today! So it may have looked like I got up to nothing over the Summer, but I was actually working undercover for a top secret organisation where I was under oath and sworn to secrecy to not tell a soul about it!

Okay, I’ve been watching too many agent/spy movies – sorry, not sorry – but I did keep myself busy over the summer by bagging myself an internship experience with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)! And I thought it might be useful to tell you guys my experience and the benefits I received from it! Especially for those who are still at uni (like myself) and are looking for some advice on getting some experience for the big, wide, world of work!

So, as a Creative Writing and English Lit undergrad it wasn’t an internship that appealed to me at first. Why? Because the LEP provide support for small businesses across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding and basically I didn’t have the first clue about businesses – shocker – or how they functioned! But here’s my experience, it’s quite brief but hopefully you get the general gist of what I did. Here we go…

My experience:
It wasn’t the first job I had in mind to apply to or at the top of my ‘most interested’ list but I took a risk with it, after all it was the experience I wanted to gain from it which would make it easier to apply for future jobs as it is seen as a professional position.

So, from the interview stage (which I somehow succeeded at) my first day came around pretty quickly. First feels were mostly nerves and a little bit of excitement! Previously I had only worked in retail so this was my first professional job, my first office job and in my head I was telling myself it was my first grown-up job! So there I was, intern Iram reporting for duty!

All I can say was that I was completely surprised! The job was totally not what I expected (in a good way!) My role as ‘Communications Intern’ – sounds fancy right? – meant that I was assisting the Communications Officer with projects i.e. updating social media, designing emails, writing for the website, attending events  etc etc… I won’t bore you with all the details but I blooming loved it! Mostly because of the people I was lucky enough to be surrounded with. I was surprised at how broad the organisation was and within the lovely little office in York, a range of different departments were present. From a fellow intern like myself to chief officers and managers, everybody just got along with everybody – and I was welcomed in with open arms into their little work family!

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Bagged myself a cheeky little bio on the LEP website too!

 I’ll give you a little peek of my workspace I had for the summer! (looks empty but there were other people around!)

From the dinghy little sports shop I used to work at, this became a whole new working world for me. Most importantly during my experience, I learnt a hell of a lot of things! My people skills grew massively alongside my confidence! I was putting my own ideas forward and learned the ins and outs of new digital software which at first was completely alien to me but (not meaning to brag) I could end up using it with my eyes closed towards the end! Now that’s what I call learning new skills!

So, basically if you watch too many American TV shows and movies (like me) then get it out of your head whatever it is you think interns are expected to do. I wasn’t standing around making photocopies all day and I didn’t become the office coffee slave! Here’s a little spoiler alert in the real world of internships – you actually learn things!

I kept a dated day-to-day record of what tasks I was supposed to work on, this was so I could reflect back on at then end of what I had done and when, so basically just a checklist to keep things in order. Oooh, I think that counts as more skills gained, organisation and meeting deadlines on point! Score!

My personal little space feat. a cuppa and maoams 🙂

Not only was the inside all lovely and cool, the office building was placed on site of one of the campuses of the University of York, and was full of wildlife – particularly geese (and from this came a lot of geese poop – not as great!)

Pretty isn’t it?

So, as my time with the LEP came to an end I was able to leave with a small portfolio of the projects I participated in. I know this will benefit massively in the future because it’s something I can show future potential employers in interviews (hopefully making me look more impressive 😉 )

However, before I left on my last day I got spoilt rotten by the staff with the most lovely gifts ever! Along with a lovely bunch of pink roses and a couple of lovely cards with the sweetest messages from everyone! I was definitely feeling the love!

My advice: For those wanting an internship/placement

  • For all those who are studying an undergraduate course at uni I strongly recommend applying for placements and internships at some point, whether they’re paid or unpaid, no matter how short or long they last, it will look AMAZING on your CV and from it you will have gained some professional references which will help when applying for those big time jobs in the future.
  • Working as a communications intern wasn’t a job role I thought I would be interested in, but I surprised myself and ended up thoroughly enjoying my time with the LEP. So apply for things a little outside your comfort zone, things that don’t normally appeal to you. You’ll find that you have this whole range of hidden talents and skills, I know I did! And if you don’t like it you have to remember placements are only temporary, you’re not there forever!
  • I applied for this internship through my university on the York St John website. A lot of universities/colleges will offer this for their students and generally have someone in charge of handling internships/placements. So have a nosy round your uni website or get in touch with a tutor or someone from the careers advisory. Talk to a careers advisor about what line of work interests you so this way you might be able to get a placement that’s suited to that career field.
  • If you are successful in getting a placement then keep in contact with your colleagues, you will be asked for valid references from future jobs you want to apply to and if you’re lucky enough as I was to work with a lovely group of people then you will have no problem in getting a glowing reference!

As an English student I underestimated just how broad the career fields reached for such a subject. The world of marketing and communications is an ocean and I’ve just dipped my toe in it – it is just one of the many options I can take as a future career.

So what am I doing now? *Warning! Sarcasm up ahead* I have the lovely jubbly third (and final) year of uni to attend! Yay! Where I get the honour of writing a super, duper, awesome dissertation! Awesome, cool, I can’t wait! Okay, was that too much? Yeah, I thought so too. For all of you who are not about to experience their third year (lucky buggers) I’ll be regularly updating my experiences on here of what’s to come, and I’ll try my very best to give the best possible advice I can – so you can either learn from me or my mistakes! A win-win situation really!

I hope this post was helpful! And if you have any questions, or would want me to explain things further drop me a few lines at iramahmed@outlook.com or comment on the post and I will definitely get back to you!

Ciao for now!

Autumn in August

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Sleeveless Long Top – New Look

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“August rain: The best of the Summer gone, and the new fall not yet born, The odd uneven time.” -Sylvia Plath

Pretty much sums up the whole of a British summer if you ask me because let’s face it, Britain + Sun = world gone mad! So, for some reason Autumn becomes that time of year where everyone wants to camouflage themselves with the leaves and the trees, basically becoming one with nature. And I have to say, I’m not complaining! Autumn is something England can do well and I can almost hear the crisp and the crunch of those vibrant coloured leaves under my boots. Every shop on the high street is flourishing with autumnal  colours, 70s vibes, suede, suede, oh, and SUEDE! These are just a few of my favourite wardrobe pieces for Autumn…for now! I’m still shopping about, because a girl can’t be too prepared, right? Just a little something for this in-between season stage. Full looks of these pieces will be posted on my Instagram – outfit of the days is something I like to play with 😉

And a new creative writing little something (Autumn inspired, obviously) will be coming soon so stay tuned!

🙂 – Iram x

Breakfast Week

Not a morning person? But LOVE breakfast? Oh, the irony!!

Okay, so maybe your like me, you love getting up to a full blown English brekkie but too lazy to actually get up out of bed and make it yourself? Sound about right?

Never fear, breakfast cafe’s are here! I still remember the first time I had breakfast that wasn’t in my house or anyone  else’s. I’m about to take you into a little venture of my past… *strum of harps  that indicate a flashback scene*

05:10 am | 26th December 2008 – It was a biting, cold and chilly Boxing Day morning. The sun wasn’t awake yet but we were. Why? Because the major, mega, massive boxing day sale that NEXT held every year was about to break loose at Middlesbrough’s shopping centre (we stayed over at Middlesbrough for Christmas) and we – my cousins and sisters and I – wanted to be one of the first ones there! I’ll spare you the  cramped, stuffy, claustrophobic details of what went on inside the store, but it got to around half 7 and we were done! Next stop, breakfast at Milligan’s (which I recently found out has been shut down for years!)

And thus was the place I had my first breakfast in an outside place! Remember, I was a young, naive, thirteen year old who got easily excited with food (I still do) so this was a pretty special moment for me – it was also the first time I had poached eggs! Deprived! I know!

But now, it was only until very recently that I realised my love for eating out for breakfast still remains and it’s something I do a lot of! Luckily most places now serve breakfast up until noon, so I don’t have to wake up mega early to go. When I do go because of the time I would probably class it more as having BRUNCH than breakfast!

But anyhoooo…. you’ve seen all the fashion weeks from Milan, Paris, London etc. But prepare yourself for…Iram’s Breakfast Week! I’m about to show you my favourite places to eat breakfast (or brunch), so if you’re within the regions of Doncaster or York, I think you’ll like this!

NYC Bar & Grill, Doncaster – A 5 stack of pancakes, drizzled with chocolate sauce and sliced bananas in each layer! This was love, I’m telling you! A side of hashbrowns and orange juice served in jam jars – all in a New York diner style setting! It doesn’t get better than that!

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Cafe 68, York – It’s small, quirky and is right down the road from my university! Poached eggs on toasted bread baguettes topped with hollandaise sauce with a side helping of smoked salmon – lush! Oh, and a good ol’ brew of Yorkshire tea, staying true to the Brit stereotype!

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The Perky Peacock, York – You may have seen this before in a previous post in a Hot Chocolate Hotspot piece but it’s here again (because it was that good). Slightly similar to Cafe 68 of poached eggs, but these toasted pieces of artisan bread were much bigger – win! But it could have done with some hollandaise sauce too! Nevertheless – it was scrumptious!

Frankies and Benny’s – Okay, so this is the one I suppose everyone can enjoy. Because their food is just too good F&B have like a gazillion other branches in the UK. Lauren and I were lucky enough to go on such a gorgeous day so we sat outside on the patio area soaking in the sun! Lauren got The Works Scrambler and I opted for a fluffy cheese and tomato omelette and drowned it in baked beans! Gobbled up the whole lot! But that wasn’t enough for us, oh no, we then shared a blubbery waffle, with blueberry sauce poured over it with ice cream! And yes, you guessed it, blueberry flavoured of course! Who said dessert is just for after dinner?

(I was slightly obsessed with the plant pots they had on the tables, which would explain the random image of one I have included in there –  sorry, not sorry!)

And there you have it! If anybody has ANY suggestions for great places to eat breakfast! Send them my way please!! Comment, email etc… you know the drill 😉

x – Iram

University Book Haul: Semester 1

Does anyone else get excited as I do when that brown, flat packed, Amazon box slides through the letterbox? Landing with a deep, thunderous THUD on the floor of the hallway, echoing throughout the house and announcing its presence, letting everybody know – the books have arrived!

I am one month away until I am back at University for my third – and sadly my last – year for my undergraduate degree! Like all universities, they love it when their students are super duper prepared for upcoming modules and lectures which is why I have already received my reading list for the year (I actually got it a while ago but I only had a proper look at it recently, oops!)

So getting to the point, I want to show you my book haul for September from the reading list uni provided me with thinking that some of the titles may entice you so that you can read them with me!

So for the first semester I had the hardest decision of just choosing TWO modules from a massive range! As I am doing a joint honours course in creative writing and english literature I had to choose one for each, so in the end I decided upon 20th century writing and scriptwriting!

The 20th Century Writing module:

Just hover the images for the titles, author’ s names and dates!

The good thing about uni reading lists is that they tend to be novels that are unique and nobody has really heard of or read. They’re books that are not at the top of every book chart in Waterstones that every body in the world is reading, but instead they’re underrated, hidden gems that may become one of my favourites.

I love it when that happens!

Scripwriting module:

A shorter list but I feel that’s because these books are much more theoretical, if your into writing scripts and my creative writing tutors are recommending them, then why not give them a go (I must say the books they have previously advised us to read have improved my writing massively over the last year!)

Tip: For those who are thinking of or have already chosen English Literature to study, the advice I would perhaps give to you is pick topics/modules that you wouldn’t normally choose but make sure they still appeal to you in some way. That way you become much more open minded to other genres and it broadens your literature knowledge and understanding. Obviously pick ones that you know you would enjoy too! This balance of genres I found made it much more easier when it came to writing assignments, as a lot of the time books from all different genres can cross reference with each other.

P.S. If your into writing and would like some more tips and advice, I have titles of books that were a massive help throughout my second year of uni. Just comment on this post, email, tweet me, whatever you fancy if you would like to know any more information!

🙂 x – Iram

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City Tours: York

So then York, my place of study, my (recent) place of work, my second home and one of many places when the old meets the new. This summer I have started a new internship based in York and although I am there almost everyday of the week I hardly get to see York. So, my friend and I decided to become those annoying tourists you see with a camera worn as a necklace, a backpack for ease and trainers for comfort, we were off!

(A little bit of architectural photography coming your way too)

First stop -and probably the most beautiful- was York Minster. Here’s how it went…

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Situated in the heart of York, the Minster is a beacon to all who visit (If I still have a view of the Minster wherever I am I know I’m not lost)! The archaic and grand stature provides you with a sense of security, it will remain there and never leave like it has done for the past few centuries.

The detail within stain glass windows will always mesmerise me.

Meet Rehanna: My crazy best friend (we all have one)! She began to find her inner photographer. (She can be found on Instagram with the name @Itsmerehannaaa)

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This room in the Minster very quickly became our favourite, the domed ceiling so high that our necks hurt from craning up to see it and the mosaic tiled floors were screaming to be photographed.

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A different perspective of the Minster after the FIRST lot of stairs…

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A selfie was necessary!

The York Minster Tower Tour was a new experience for me. We hiked up through the small, narrow, winding passageways and staircases. Warning: You get pretty dizzy! (If you do decide to go on the tower tour make sure you read all the health & safety regulations!) The staircase gives a ‘never going to end’ illusion. Our legs were getting tired, we had to take a break (or two) but I’ll tell you now, in the end it was completely worth it because we reached this view:

The amount of all those stairs we climbed was explained…we were extremely high!

And the wind up there was epic! Utterly windswept!

Next stop: York’s Chocolate Story!
For those who don’t know, York is very well known for it’s chocolate! More importantly, it’s history of chocolate…and we were about to find out all about it!

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We got a small taste of how Charlie felt in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It began in a ride in an elevator as we were transported in time to when Chocolate first hit England. Our guided tour consisted of little chocolate tastings and videos along the way, ending with making our own chocolate lollies!

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Chocolate tasting using all 5 of our senses!

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Walks through the York Shambles.

A cheeky stop for an outfit of the day picture:

Our last stop was the evening Ghost Walk and before that we had a little time to kill so we took a walk over to Clifford’s Tower:

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Twinning in Denim

Last Stop: The Ghost Walk

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More Information:
Click here for more info on The York Chocolate Story
A
nd here for more info on The York Minster

Keep up to date with all things York by following them on Twitter:
@VisitYork

RISE

Happy Friday guys! I’ve realised that it’s been a while since I’ve posted a poem and considering that poetry was my least favourite form of fiction, I surprisingly have a notebook full of them just waiting to be shared! Weird how things change eh?

The majority of them still need a tweak here and there until I can be completely satisfied with them and here is one that I submitted as part of one of my uni assignments. I’ve always had a huge interest of the parallel and unknown worlds which I have read about or seen in movies and now I have set my heart on creating one for myself. My poem Rise is just a small creation drawn from this influence and to quote from my creative writing tutor, he stated Rise is more of an exciting place in the extent to which it gets the reader involved in making sense of the more fragmented and unexplained imagery.’

With that in mind, hope you enjoy! x

RISE

Wind creaks and cracks the ground
It starts with an eruption from the earth.
A tower that would reach the trailing tune of the
birds
then continue to cough and
splutter its excess waste into the
heavens.
An outbreak of several more, then another several,
they stand hand in hand
line by line,
some stand grand
some cower sheepishly.
Like the pipes of an organ
blowing off steam
against the orange flames that lick the atmosphere with

a fiery glow
and the wind continues to blow.

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Nature Photography Shoot

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Hey!

So my photo-shoot from the Nature Trail my sister and I ventured upon last week is now uploaded!  Here’s a little background information of the journey:

We went to Potteric Carr Nature Reserve right here in Doncaster! (From living here most of my life I had no idea something so beautiful was so local!) It consisted of a long walk – approximately 3 hours to walk round the whole reserve – but completely worth it. There were shorter routes available to explore but we were determined to view it all.

We began by crossing a few bridges, and stumbled upon a beautiful lake with a small pier. The whole place was crawling with wildlife, although majority of the time we just saw ducks and geese, the birds never stopped singing and chirping. There were fantastic natural structures; vines made into arches and stones carved into caterpillars, also, when you reach the woods they engulf you. I felt like Red Riding Hood on the quest to reach her sick her Grandma (fortunately there were no Big Bad Wolf) and the atmosphere creates this feeling that you are in something so deep and magical it is as though you have been transported into another world.

It is inspirational as much as it is scenic and influenced me to write my own short story (see previous post ‘The Valley of Vines’). The pictures I took were a massive success, I tried my best to do the scenery justice through my digital eye so I hope you check it out – Just go to the Photography Page and click ‘Nature Shoot’ to view the gallery!

Hope you like them!