29 December 2016

2017 New Year's Resolutions

Oh gawd how is it nearly the end of December & almost the final sunset for 2016? 

Although to be fair I think most people will be glad to see the back of this year, myself included. Anyhow, it’s that time of year again to reflect & set new resolutions for the year ahead. I was almost going to shun it this year. Sometimes just the thought of making resolutions starts to make me panic.

Last year I posted my 2016 resolutions in January & set 5 goals, some I did better on than others:
  1. Read more. I haven’t kept count exactly, but definitely think it’s less than 10 which is pretty poor. I’ve started using the Goodreads app, so hopefully this will keep me on track for 2017.
  2. Eat healthier. I got off to such a great start at the beginning of the year full of vigour with my shiny new nutribullet, tea detoxes, piloxing & I even attended a Vitality Brunch event. It was all so healthy that it actually made me sick before my holiday. So, everything needs to be done within moderation. That said a Maccie D’s every week is probably not ideal for the bikini body.
  3. Learn to use my DSLR & photograph more. Well, I acquired my dream camera the Olympus Pen in February which looks oh so pretty, but sadly I just haven’t done it justice. I did switch phones from the iPhone 6 to the Samsung Galaxy Edge 7 which I must admit does trump the iPhone & has upped my Instagram game (becky_wren)
  4. Have more adventures. Yep, going on a girls surf camp to Morocco was my big adventure & a weekend away SUP’ing at Lake Wimbleball was pretty awesome too. I also bought a second hand SUP & been out paddle boarding a few times this winter.
  5. Blog more. Hmm… yes, I know, this one didn’t quite happen. Again I started off full of excitement, stacks of ideas & then I started a new job at the end of March. And everything just kind of got busy & I fell out of sync with writing for me & worrying about pleasing everyone else.

So what does 2017’s resolutions look like?

I was reading the lovely Louise Croft’s post over at Pauper to Princess where she used a template from blogger Secret Owl & it gave me some inspiration to do something a little bit different. This template has more of a laid back thought provoking approach rather than setting hard hitting goals which set you up to fail.

So, here’s a snap shot of my 2017 resolutions. It’s a real mix of actions & feelings.

I won’t go through all of them, but here’s a few that stand out:
  • Organise – I’m pretty chuffed as I’ve already KonMari the hell out of my office this afternoon & finally de-cluttered some boxes from a previous company I left 2 and half years ago! Plans are already in play for doing up my ensuite & the garage needs a rainy day to declutter my old school & Uni files. 
  • Gain – a new job. Yep, my secondment in PR & Social Media comes to an end in March & it will be on to the next adventure – whatever that might be, which is kind of exciting & daunting.
  • Travel to – I’m hoping by putting Sri Lanka in writing is a step closer for Dan & I to actually go either later this year or for New Year. It will definitely be an adventure & will help me with my other goals of improving my surf / SUP skills.
  • Do less – stressing & worrying what others think! This applies to my parents, friends & work colleagues. I’m a typical cancerian & take things to heart & stress about what people say or think for far too long. Hopefully with ‘doing more’ yoga will help me find some inner peace & stress less.
  • Practice – always! I had the horses in mind when I thought of this one, but it applies to everything. Even when I go for a quick ride up the road you need to be ‘on it’ & working the horse in the right outline, thinking about your position etc. It goes for any sport, work, & blogging.  I guess we're always learning & practicing, as one day one of those pipe dreams might just come true.

Have you had a chance to think about your New Year's resolutions for 2017? I'd love to hear them & find out how you got on with your goals from this year.

28 December 2016

What I Got for Christmas 2016

Hey Country Bumpkins!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family & loved ones?

I’ve debated for a few days whether or not to post my Christmas presents, with fear it could seem like I’m a bragging spoilt teenager. However, as one of my new resolutions (to be revealed tomorrow) is all about worrying less about what other people think, stopping procrastinating about my blog & just write – I will embrace my new mantra & just get on with it!

So, once again I’ve been a very lucky girl & pretty spoilt by both my parents & Dan. I might be 35, but do still get a buzz from unwrapping gifts & wondering what on earth I’ve been bought. I was pleased not to receive a single pair of socks, although my mum did buy me 3 pairs of fancy knicks. Ta mum.

Below is a snap shot of some of my fave presents…

Top row – left to right:
  • Candles – Since reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking I’m all about finding my Hygge this winter, getting cosy with a good book, whilst burning some candles. So, I was pleased to receive 3 new scents to try out: No 2 by Senini of England – a fresh mix of lily, white tea & cotton musk; patchouli which smells herby or hippie according to google; Westcountry Collection plum pudding – a cocktail of sweet juicy raisins, sultanas & currants with nutmeg & mixed spice – basically Christmas in a candle!
  • Earrings from Allum & Sidaway – I can’t wait to wear these dainty little silver link & gold heart shaped earrings from my parents. They’re not too in your face but enough to add a bit of pizazz to an outfit.
  • Rituals Hammam Mint Tea from Dan’s brother Toby & girlfriend Lucy - the box in itself is just beautiful with a lush mosaic print. It also reminds me of my week in Morocco & the strange taxi driver who took us for mint tea.

Middle row – left to right:
  • Ripcurl hoodie – was spot on from Dan, consisting of my fave colour - turquoise, fave surf brand of the moment & is lovely & snug. We just need some beach adventures now.
  • Pot of roses – my gorgeous goddaughter Evie painted the pot, in again my favourite colours & the roses have been sprayed gold. It’s currently jazzing up the grey paving & adding a bit of sunshine to winter.
  • Cosy snood – my folks do surprise me sometimes, & purchased this lovely cosy snood from Goulds of Dorchester which matches my furry Animal headband.

Bottom row – left to right:
  • Surf Café Living by Jane & Myles Lamberth – is right up my street & was a fab present from my best friend Rach, I can’t wait to get stuck in.
  • Framed picture of Dan & I – this actually made me well up. I didn’t realise the other week Dan was keen to take a selfie of us before my Christmas drinks party & sneakily printed the pic the next day. He’s a keeper J
  • Eau So Fresh by Daisy – Marc Jacobs – it’s been a while since anyone’s bought me perfume & it always smells so much better when you wear bought perfume. I think I’m going to get through this bottle pretty quick as it’s so easy to wear day or night & smells fresh & light, but not too girly.
Anyhow, I guess I have been pretty spoilt this Christmas by the ones I love.

What did you guys get for Christmas? What was your favourite or funniest gift?

27 December 2016

Spotify – my 2016 wrapped up

Those dudes over at Spotify our geniuses. & guess what they’re Swedish too, who knew? The Swedes brought us Ikea, H&M, Abba & now Spotify. Even though it’s been going for 10 years, I only set up an account back in 2013. I remember a couple of the cool kids in the office kept banging on about it being the way forward to listen to music – well I finally got there in the end.

It’s crazy to think how the way we listen to music has changed so much even during my last 30 years from growing up with vinyl at the folks house, to playing cassettes on my Sony Walkman, CD’s on a portable device & a lot of CD players who never really lasted that long, through to Apple’s iPod / iTunes & now streaming through Spotify. I skipped the short lived MP3 players – they just looked pointless.

I guess I was a bit of a laggard when it came to Spotify, but I’m all over it now & love their 2016 outdoor marketing campaign ‘Thanks 2016, it’s been weird.

And then they sent me my 2016 in stats ‘Your 2016, wrapped’ which is pretty darn cool & got me very excited. Aww thanks Spotify, you guys are the best & your marketing works. High praise!

They also included my Top 2016 songs playlist  with over 100 songs & 6 hours of playtime, Well that's New Year's Eve warm up sorted - genius!

No surprises that Bob Marley & The Wailers 'Could you be loved' was my top played song. It was definitely the anthem to my summer surf trip to Morocco & made it onto our playlist - see another good reason for Spotify.

There are a lot of surf tunes on there from Manu Chao, Blink 182 to Sunset Sons. As well as a few from the Jurassic Fields festival - headliners Fun Lovin' Criminals & folk band Duncan Disorderly & The Scallywags

Anyhow, feel free to have a listen to my top songs 2016 playlist, there are a few shockers on there, but I'll let you be the judge of that! 

Have you received a playlist from Spotify or any other good streaming company? What's been your fave tunes for 2016?

24 December 2016

It’s been a while...

Hey Country Bumpkins!

Yep, it has been a while since I last blogged back in August, almost 4 whole months.*Hangs head in shame.

Have no fear folks, my blogging hiatus is over! I’m leaving all my measly writing excuses along with the rest of the crap that went down in 2016, I’m swallowing a whopping great big positive mental attitude pill & getting ready to crack on with 2017 as well as bottle of Heston’s mulled cider.

In a nutshell, as I don’t want to be all doom & gloom this Christmas, but the last 4 months have been a bit of a roller coaster to say the least. Starting off with Dan & I breaking up for a few months over the summer, we’re now back together – phew, so look out for more adventure posts to follow including tales of SUPing & surfing. Barley my gorgeous chestnut Irish boy had a benign tumour cut out of his foot in August & has been on box rest ever since as it’s taken a very long time to grow over. Jonty went on a jumping hiatus during the autumn, however, on Monday we had an amazing jump lesson with eventer Jo Rimmer which left me buzzing & wanting to kick on for next year. And the worst bit of crap was my darling mum being very poorly this autumn/winter. So, all those stresses that life threw at me left me feeling pretty meh & I couldn’t find the heart to blog.

After a few people at work commented that they hadn’t seen me blogging for a while, I decided that Country Bumpkin Chic needed to be heading into 2017 with a new look & feel. It was also another good excuse that if I had a brand spanking new look I’d get my blogging thang back. So, I got back in touch with Serena Ozgowicz from Pretty Wild Things, who originally created a festival vibe blogger template back in the summer of 2014 – which was perfect for when I was gallivanting around interviewing the likes of Seth Lakeman, Newton Faulkner & Andy Jordan, you know – the fit one who used to be Made in Chelsea.

My new look is stripped back with a clean & simple vibe. I’m not afraid to use black & white, which I know my designer friends gave me the thumbs up for. I’m still being true to Country Bumpkin Chic & the swallow from the previous template has flown over to the new one, & had a re-vamp making him look pretty darn country chic. I’ve also added a carousel for images at the top, so you can easily see recent posts. As well as adding in some topic headers for the key areas I will be writing about - Food, Travel, Fitness, Dorset & Interviews.
Anyhow… I’d love to know what you think of the new look & I promise to blog more this festive period & next year. Watch this space for more tales from Country Bumpkin Chic.

Have a fabulous Christmas with family & loved ones. 

My little Xmas tree...

20 August 2016

Thru the Lens in Taghazout

During my stay in Taghazout, Morocco I took my Olympus Pen E-PL7 camera out & about to capture the culture & beautiful colours of the village. Here's my top ten faves.

The Police...

14 August 2016

Take me back to Taghazout - Top Ten Snaps

A week ago I arrived back from an amazing week on the Surf Maroc Girls Surf Camp in Taghazout. I met some fab people, had a lot of laughs in & out of the water, caught my first proper green waves & had a speeding fine - less said about that the better! Anyhow to combat the holiday blues, here's my top ten snaps from Taghazout.

1. The view from my bedroom.
The Taghazout Villa is set right on the beach & you can see Hash Point break which is perfect for the pro surfers in the winter. I had a cosy turquoise coloured double room to myself & loved waking up to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. I also went to sleep to the sound of the Moroccan youth club playing berber music!

06 March 2016

Winter Sunset in Charming Charminster

Another weekend and another trip out playing with my new Olympus Pen. This weekend we popped across the road and hiked up the hills in front of my house to capture the winter sunset. It was perfect for playing around with the sun light and natural features in the field from the River Frome to trees and people.

I’m still getting used to all the amazing Olympus Pen settings, it really is trial and error, and having a bit of fun along the way. Here’s my latest efforts.

The view of Charminster Valley from my front door

29 February 2016

Lewesdon Hill Woody Shoot

A few weeks ago my new toy arrived. I don’t think I’ve ever lusted over a piece of technology quite so much, but this isn’t any piece of tech – it’s the Olympus Pen E-PL7 camera. The ultimate bloggers camera. And it was worth the 2 month wait for the white/gold model.

I want to get to know my new camera first before I post a proper review, although even after a few outings I know I’m going to be singing its praise. So, here’s a few shots from a trip to Lewesdon Hill just outside Beaminster deep in the Dorset countryside. Perfect for trying out the different modes and effects. 

Introducing the sassy little Olympus Pen E-PL7

24 February 2016

Zumba with Olivia Jones


There’s no better way to start a wet and miserable Monday than with the ultimate dance-fitness party. That’s what I discovered this week when I got invited along to one of Oliva Jones’ Zumba classes in Dorchester.

So, what is Zumba?
It’s a dance based class created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez in the 90s. It involves a mix of dance and aerobic elements including hip hop, salsa, samba, merangue and mambo as well as fitness style squats and lunges. Did you know that over 15 million people a week across 180 countries take part in Zumba!

What’s the Zumba vibe?
The music has a real carnival vibe. Think Black Eyed Peas, Bruno Mars’s Uptown Funk mixed with the Latin side of Strictly Come Dancing and you’re pretty much there. It’s a fun and energetic way to exercise without feeling like you’re working out, because you have a group of 30+ people or laughing and whooping their way along to the music and following Olivia’s instructions. It’s easy to see why Zumba is still popular.

Who can attend?
Anyone! Zumba is wide appeal and Olivia’s classes attract young and old – the biggest age range has been 16 to 80 years old! You could have a full family generation attending. Predominantly the class is attended by women. However, that night there was a man attending who could shimmy shoulder roll better than any lady!

How fit do I need to be to attend?
Zumba is a great class to get you back into fitness. There was a wide range of fitness levels and as Olivia explained it’s up to the individual how much they want to push themselves. Before each dance section Olivia gave alternatives to some of the more intense exercises and there were plenty of water breaks.

Personally, I have a general fitness level and managed to just about keep up with the moves and did in fact break into a sweat – which hasn’t happened at some of the exercise classes I’ve attended around Dorchester this year. Might have been something to do with the Trinity Club’s heating – but I felt like I had a proper workout, without even trying too hard.

Do I need to be coordinated or good at dancing?
This was my main concern as I’ve only taken a Zumba class twice and that was a number of years ago. I stood second row back behind the lovely Linda a Zumba regular, who definitely knew her steps and made it easy to follow.

Olivia stands on stage at the front and gives very clear instructions making the class easy to follow. If you go wrong – it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re moving and having fun is what counts at Zumba. And if you do turn the wrong way, instead of feeling mortified like in most gym class sessions, you just laugh it off.

What are the benefits of Zumba?
Apart from banishing the Monday blues, it’s a great form of aerobic exercise that gets every part of your body moving. There’s a real feel good factor to Zumba which is aided by the upbeat music and the community vibe of the other attendees. An average person can burn between 600-1000 calories.

3 words to describe Olivia’s Zumba classes?
Fun, energetic and social.
Perfect for beating the Monday blues and putting you in the right frame of mind for the week ahead.

Where are Olivia’s classes & how much?
The lovely Olivia

To join the ultimate dance-fitness party with Olivia you can find her in the following places across Dorchester.
Zumba classes  in Dorchester

Classes are £4 and if you take part in the loyalty scheme, after 10 sessions you’ll get your 11th one free!

Contact Olivia 07710983322 or follow Sister Fitness UK on Facebook 

Olivia & her sister Vicky have a range of in Dorchester & Weymouth under Sister Fitness

Upcoming Zumba parties….

Coming soon – the local fitness instructors around Dorchester are getting together for a fundraising event for Lions on 30th April. Follow Sister Fitness UK for more info.

Party for Kili - one of the Zumba ladies is holding a fundraising party for her Mt Kilimanjaro climb on Friday 27th May. Check out the details below.

21 February 2016

Spring / Summer 2016 Motivation

I finally got round to buying some photos of Jonty and I showing at Dorset County Show last year from Jay Photos. They arrived in the post this week, a decent size at 12x8”. I’ve framed a few for Mother’s Day and one for my house. The colour and features are so clear – as well as my ever growing laughter lines!

These photos are my motivation to get through the next few months of what feels like a never ending winter of rain, wind and knee deep mud!

Jonty strutting his stuff - such a handsome boy...

Strange faces of determination..

Relieved is the word...

The focus this year will be on Jonty as my other horse Barley is sadly still recovering from his tendon op. That’s a whole other story and one not for publishing in public. So, it will be down to Jonty to pave the way for Team Wren this season. However, there’s still a lot to do before we even get to an event this spring, but the photos from Dorset County Show remind me that anything is possible and hardwork pays off – he looks stunning strutting his stuff. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth!

There’s never a dull moment with Jonty – I could write a book about his antics. At Dorset County Show he was pulled in second but then asked to leave as he threw a wobbly when the dray horses went by. Pretty understandable, but very frustrating. He then went on and jumped a near perfect working hunter round in his other class, apart from a few rolled poles. If I’m honest I was just relieved to get him round.

And this weekend he totally took me by surprise and decided to get down and roll in the mud whilst on a ride! There were quite a few choice words, I have never dismounted so quickly. Not quite sure how I wasn’t crushed or the saddle damaged. As I say, there’s never a dull moment with Jonty around and I can’t wait to have more adventures with this talented horse and see how far we can progress in our showing, dressage, show jumping and eventing. We like to mix up our events to keep everyone on their toes. Makes life more interesting. 

14 February 2016

Fuerteventura through a lens

Just over a week ago I was catching some much needed winter sun on the island of Fuerteventura or 'Further than Truro' as Dan's mum calls it. It almost seems like a distant memory ago. Thankfully armed with my Canon 1200D DSLR [C] and iPhone [i] I captured some pretty okay shots. Here are my fave Fuerteventura pics.
We travelled with good old Thomson & soon discovered our TUI smile. [i]
Arty Fuerteventura airport shot. [i]
We stayed half board at the 5* Riu Palace - Tres Islas about a 5  minute drive outside Corralejo and had a fab room with a view. [i]
The sunrises were spectacular and not too early at 7.30am. [i]
The hotel is set on Flag beach with it's beautiful sandy beaches and a view of the Isle de Lobos. [i]
The hotel had 4 tennis courts which you could hire out at 5 euros each. Sadly I was beaten by Federer! [i]
The Riu hotels have an a la carte restaurant where you can take a break from the standard evening buffet and try something a bit more high end at no extra cost. [i]
The Krystal menu. [i]
On the spoon - tuna tataki with smoked creamed aubergine; goat's cheese in pastry & I'm really not sure what was in the glass - as it was different to the menu. [i]
Red tuna tartare with avocado, ponzu (not sure what that is!), potato chip and garlic - was okay. [i]
Dan had pea soup with toasted butter, mascarpone cheese and prawns. [i]
Braised Iberian pork cheeks with sweet potato puree and glazed shallots - this was my best meal of the week, it sounded so wrong, but was delicious. [i]
Apple and calvados crumble with vanilla ice cream - any pudding with alcohol is always going to be great! [i]
We hired a car for the week from Plus Car at the airport for 102 Euros for 7 days, which worked out at about £11 a day. So, Doris the Yaris was our trusty stead for getting us around the island in search of good surf spots for Dan. [i]
Doris did very well bombing around the north track or the moon as I kept referring it to. The lunar volcanic landscape is very bizarre and took a bit of getting used to. I did miss the green fields of Dorset! [i]
Looking very pleased with myself at being in a bikini in January at Playa del Castillo near El Cotillo. [i]
A few waves at El Cotillo - I was just pleased to feel the sand between my toes. [i]
Not sure which beach this is, somewhere near El Cotillo off the beaten track. [i]
Spot the doggy. He was loving life with his 3 Spanish owners who were living out of their van. [C]
Where's Doris? [C]
Mid week we took the boat across to the little island of Lobos. For pedestrians like me it's 15 Euros and for surfers 10 Euros - bargain! We took the 10am boat which returned at 4pm for a little day out in search of waves and sun! [i]
There she is... Dan looking for waves. [C]
This guy was there to great us... [C]
The locals were very laid back...you kind of get the gist with their spelling! [C]
The water in this little inlet at El Puertito was turquoise blue. [C]
There are just a few houses on the island, powered by solar power. It was a very chilled and laid back vibe. [C]
The hike for the perfect wave begins. La Caldera volcano in the distance, we were heading to the left of that! [C]
Fuerteventura is just a stone's through away. [C]
Dan riding a 'sic' wave. [C]
I actually captured this on my iPhone - not too shabby! [i]
I hiked to the top of La Caldera - was pretty steep, but the view was worth it. You could see our hotel on Flag Beach, Corralejo and Lanzarote on the other side of Lobos. [i]
Yep, I climbed that! [i]
On Thursday we headed out at first light to catch an early wave and make a real day on the island. We of course headed down the north track and across to the 'bubble' a well known surf spot. [i]
In search of the perfect wave at The Bubble...[C]
To get to the good surf spots we drove past the little fishing village of Manjanicho every day. It's a very bizarre little village almost shanty like but full of character. [C]
Morning breaking over Manjanicho. [C]
 Morning breaking over Manjanicho - not a soul was awake. [C]
On route to the south of the island. [C]
This is pretty much what the landscape of Fuerteventura looks like - volcanic and arid. [i]
West of the island near the National Park - Betancuria. [C]
Treats for making it to the other end of the island and arriving at Morro Jable. It took a couple of hours if that to get from one side to the other. Morro Jable was the more touristy end of the island with lots of shops, restaurants, bars etc and a long promenade by the beach. [i]
The lighthouse at Morro Jable. [i]
We spotted some goats roaming the national park near Corralejo. We also spotted some camels doing a trek, but my photos were a bit blurry. [i]
That Friday feeling of island life. Spot Lobos in the distance. [i]
A busker at Cantante bar/restaurant in Corralejo. [i]
On the way back to the car we came across this great impromptu set up in an alley with all the locals getting involved capturing the laid back charm of Corralejo. [i]
Salty hair, just don't care - this pretty much sums up our Fuerteventura adventures. [i] Where next?