Strumpshaw, February

It seems like spring has arrived early this year. We took a trip one Sunday to Strumpshaw – I’ve blogged about this place many times before. I guess because we so often visit as it’s only a short drive from Norwich.

This time we walked around the woodland trail and took in some of the river bank but we barely saw any birds at all. We heard them in the trees but they were too high up. It was only back near the picnic benches at reception that I was able to really get my camera out and take a few snaps of the usual garden birds. Although we didn’t see much it was still a nice walk in the fresh air and sunshine.

Though I’ve just remembered I did see a couple of redpolls fly over while my hands were full and I couldn’t take a photo!

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Winter Robins

Winter Robins

The robin is one of my favourite birds because they are so obliging and friendly. One of the easiest garden birds to photograph. And I’m not the only fan – the nation voted the robin its favourite bird.

Here are some of the photos I’ve managed to capture of robins this winter. Currently the robin in our garden regularly greets me as I come back from my daily walk and he sits there on the bush near the front door as I struggle to get the pram through. I’ve started offering a hand of seeds to him – with a little patience, I hope to have him feeding out of my hand.

Snowflake Earrings: a review of ethical fine jewellery from Ingle & Rhode

Snowflake Earrings: a review of ethical fine jewellery from Ingle & Rhode

Today I’m sharing with you my first collaboration of 2019 and it’s an exciting one! I’ve been asked to review a piece by the ethical fine jewellery brand Ingle & Rhode, and I’ll be taking a look at their beautiful Snowflake Earrings, which they have kindly gifted to me to try out.


Have you ever wondered where the diamonds and gemstones for your jewellery are sourced? David Rhode did when he tried to buy an engagement ring and no jeweller was able to enlighten him, so he launched his own ethical jewellery company with friend Tim Ingle in 2007. You can read more about their story here. Following the scandal of blood diamonds in the ’90s, which caused countless deaths and misery, it’s vitally important to any ethical consumer to know where and how to buy ethically sourced conflict-free diamonds, and Ingle & Rhode were one of the first jewellers to achieve this goal.

Snowflake Earrings

I was thrilled to received as a gift the snowflake earrings from Ingle & Rhode’s stunning silver collection. The earrings themselves are exquisitely delicate and beautiful; the snowflake is a classic design and the silver is robust without weighing the ear down. I love that the silver of the snowflake stems is not overly shiny as it makes the diamond in the centre stand out more.

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The shape captures the delicate beauty of snowflakes perfectly and I’ve loved wearing them in the snowy weather we’ve had recently. The diamond in the centre of the snowflake gives these earrings a beautiful sparkle, as unique as snowflakes. They hang beautifully and draw the eye. The clasp is very secure, which is quite unusual in earrings, and they won’t slip out – which is great as I’m a fiddler and I’ve lost many an earring this way!

These gorgeous earrings can be paired with all sorts of things, especially during the colder months. They are stunning on their own but they can also be paired with this beautiful matching snowflake pendant. I’ve worn these earrings with thick, winter knitwear and also with dressy gear when going out; I’ve even worn them to the shops, and felt very decadent! They will make a wonderful gift, especially on Valentine’s Day.


Ethical jewellery

Like all good millennials, I’m worried about things; more specifically, the planet. But I’ve never really extended that anxiety to jewellery, though ethical consumerism goes far beyond a reuseable coffee cup. Precious metals and minerals are often sourced in war zones, and consequently people working in the mines are subject to horrific exploitation and abuse; often mines use child labour and fatal accidents are common, as this report by the Human Rights Watch into the trade in the Marange diamonds details.

All of Ingle & Rhode’s diamonds and gemstones can be traced back to the mine and are extracted from Canadian mines, which trade conflict-free diamonds. Ingle & Rhode also ensure that they use in their products gold and platinum from FairTrade or recycled sources. Now that my eyes have been opened to the ethics of jewellery manufacturing, I will certainly be a lot more choosy and inquisitive about where the raw materials have been sourced.

While you’ve heard of Fair Trade, you’ve probably not heard of Fairmining; essentially, this involves mining for precious metals and gems in conflict-free areas, without human exploitation and with a view to limiting environmental harm. The Fairmined label is an assurance that the materials used to create the jewellery have been mined under good working conditions and with fair pay. If you practice ethical consumerism, you can extend these standards to jewels as well, and it’s reassuring to know that all of Ingle & Rhode’s gold, silver, and minerals are sourced from mines that are accredited with the Fairmined label, which means those mines are responsible employers and their practices protect the environment and the miners.

How often do you buy anything and know where it came from? Admiring these earrings and knowing all the component parts that have been crafted together to make such a beautiful product have all been sustainably, fairly and ethically sourced means I can wear three gorgeous snowflake earrings with pride. For years I haven’t bought cheap jewellery because it doesn’t last and just gets dumped eventually; Ingle & Rhode’s beautiful snowflake earrings are a rare piece that will certainly stand the test of time. At £395 they are a a substantial investment but if you were to splash out on yourself or on a loved one you can rest assured that this piece would stand the test of time.


Ingle & Rhode Engagement & Wedding Rings

Ingle & Rhode are perhaps more well known for their wonderful range of eternity, engagement, and wedding rings, but they also offer a bespoke custom made service where you can design your own ring; therefore, if you have something specific in mind they can create it for you.

Again, all of these rings are created using recycled gold, silver and platinum, and ethically sourced diamonds and sapphires. The collections are beautiful, timeless classic creations, which I’m sure you’ll fall in love with as much as I have.

Ingle & Rhode create their jewellery using materials that have been ethically sourced in conflict-free mines. All gold, silver, diamonds, gemstones and minerals can be traced back to the mine, which carries the ‘Fairmined’ certification. Traceability is of huge importance in evaluating the ethical credentials of any brand, and clearly this company take this responsibility seriously and are dedicated to protecting workers and the environment throughout the supply chain. It’s also a huge boon to the modern consumer to know that their purchase is supporting fair mining across the globe and protecting the environment.


I was sent the snowflake earrings as a gift to give my honest review of the product and brand.

Back to blogging

Hello! It’s 2019 and I’ve had 3/4 months away from blogging due to the arrival of a certain baby.

He’s settling into – dare I say it? – the vague resemblance of a sleeping routine that includes a solid amount of unbroken sleep so finally I have a little energy again. And maybe even the odd evening to myself? So I thought it was time to return to blogging as I’ve kind of missed it.

What did I miss?

Here are a few of the photos I’ve been taking recently on daytime winter walks with the baby. I’ve also got a new lens (manual only – help!) so I’ll be trying that out soon and really challenging my photography skills (tips are welcome.)

Strumpshaw Fen, end of August

Strumpshaw Fen, end of August

After 2-3 months of blistering heat, August has been quite temperate and we’ve had a chance to cool off. I’ve also noticed a lot of autumn flowers and berries a bit earlier than normal as they have ripened too soon in the excessive heat.

So I get to do my autum berry photoshoots earlier than usual. :)

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We walked round RSPB Strumpshaw fen at the end of August and it was a windy, grey day so not many birds were out and about. There was a family of swans with their young cygnets and a flock of what I think were wild grey partridges, though they were very distant.

Those clouds!

Rewilding Britain with Beavers

Recently Michael Gove attended an event in Gloucestershire to release beavers back into the wild as part of a project to rewild Britain. A male and a female Eurasian beaver, a species hunted to extinction in the UK 400 years ago for their fur, meat, and scent glands, were released into the Forest of Dean. They join other iconic British species that became extinct and have returned to the Forest of Dean, such as the wild boar.

The area will be regularly monitored throughout the 3 year project and it is hoped that the beavers will reduce the local flood risk and benefit the health of the ecosystem; being a ‘keystone species’, beavers play a part in shaping the landscape through their dam-building activities. The Eurasian beavers are expected to build a series of natural dams that will slow rainwater and prevent floods from the steep hills in the area.

You can read more about global rewilding success stories here, including the wolf in the US and the giant tortoise in the Galapagos islands.

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Beaver Facts

  • Beavers are vegetarian
  • They live in ‘lodges’, which they construct from branches and sticks – they have a drying off den and an inner, drier den for the family to sleep and socialise in
  • They are the largest native European rodent
  • Beavers are ecosystem engineers, or ‘keystone species’; their dam-building behaviour shapes the ecosystem by slowing down the flow of the river, resulting in particular species thriving. The largest beaver dam is in Canada and is visible from space
  • They have transparent eyelids and can see underwater
  • They sometimes share their homes with muskrats
  • Beavers are monogamous and will mate for life
  • A beaver’s tooth enamel contains iron, which gives it that orange colour and enables them to gnaw through trees.

My top 5 Amazon Ethical Buys

… And no that’s not an oxymoron. I know a lot of you will think Amazon’s ethical credentials are pretty low, what with all the monopolising practically every industry and controversies over the treatment of its workforce, but unfortunately Amazon is a fact of modern life and it would be difficult not to shop there. I’d love to know your thoughts on this – have you boycotted or do you avoid shopping from Amazon?

In the meantime, since I do use Amazon every now and again, it’s good to know what sort of ethical products you can buy there and of course there’s a lot as practically every company wants to sell through them. I’m looking mainly at the ethics of reducing plastic, reducing waste, and finding sustainable alternatives to lessen the environmental impact. I hope this guide is helpful!

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Ecoegg Laundry Egg: the ethical way to wash your clothes

So this is a pretty cool find. You can use it in your wash for all types of fabric and it completely replaces the need for washing powder. It uses natural cleaning pellets which don’t contain the harsh chemicals you find in normal detergents. Better still, it lasts 720 washes which is the equivalent of 3 years’ washing for the average family of four!

Bamboo Toothbrushes: reduce plastic with these bamboo toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes are one of the worst marine pollutants and are always being found washed up on beaches or in smaller pieces in the stomachs of marine life. There is an easy solution – replace your normal toothbrush with a bamboo one, which is 100% biodegradeable! This particular set contains 4 so one for each of the average family, and they are all different colours so you don’t confuse your toothbrush with anyone else’s. The bristles are BPA free and the packaging is made from biodegradeable recycled materials.

KeepCup: get your morning coffee in this re-useable cup

I’ve had my KeepCup for about 5 years now and it’s still going strong. Initially I used to get annoyed looks for baristas when I presented it and gave my coffee order but now they’re a bit more used to it. I take it all over with me and it fits in my handbags after use (do carry tissues so you can dry it out if you don’t have anywhere to wash it.) The UK gets through 7 million coffee cups per day and we throw away around 2.5 billion per year but less than 1% are actually recycled. The plastic polythylene used to make paper coffee cups waterproof breaks down into micro plastics, which end up in the stomachs of marine life. And let’s not forget that disposable cups are made from virgin paper pulp so trees are felled to produce a piece of pointless plastic-paper that is used to drink a single latte. If you do one thing to reduce your environmental impact, let it be buying and using a re-useable coffee cup!

Cheeky Panda Bamboo Toilet Roll: toilet roll made from sustainable material

One thing we can forget about when trying to be more ethical consumers is toilet roll; paper made to be wasted. The Cheeky Panda style of toilet roll uses 100% bamboo, which is natural, biodegrdeable and sustainable. I’ve noticed no difference in quality in using bamboo bog roll. Cheeky Panda also do bamboo tissues. Why is bamboo more sustainable? It grows faster than trees, produces more oxygen and absorbs more carbon. It regrows when cut and requires no fertilisers. (Psst: also, it’s vegan as there’s no gelatin-glue for the cardboard inner tube.)

Pilot B2P – pens made from plastic bottles: don’t just recycle your plastic bottles, buy everyday items made from those recycled bottles!

The UK consumes around 13 billion plastic bottles per year and more than 3 billion are not recycled. Obviously I would encourage you to invest in your own drinks bottle, which are all quite cheap, but on top of that it’s good to buy things made from recycled plastic as it puts to good use the plastic waste we’re still disposing of. Greenpeace suggest 9 ways to reduce you household plastic use. 

 

What are your top ethical buys?

 

 

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