Sunday 25 October 2015

Open Doors in Ruthin

Last September a lot of Open Doors events were organised all throughout Wales, and when we found out that Ruthin was part of it, we decided to go for it as the castle has always been on our list of things to see.

The weather was sunny and fresh so it was a perfect day to explore a historical town. We started off with Ruthin Castle (we booked a tour the day before as even if it was free the whole weekend, they didn't allow you to visit it at your leisure) at 11 am. It was great to discover the old part of the castle as well as the new ones constructed in the 19th century. We even got to explore the oubliettes and an underground dungeon that had just been cleared out for people to go through. There was a really nice atmosphere around the garden and you could find some colourful peacocks everywhere! If you can afford it, I would definitely recommend to stay there for the night as we had a glimpse of the inside rooms and the hotel looks absolutely amazing... One day! For now, we're thinking of treating ourselves to one of these Medieval Feasts!

Straight after the castle, we visited Nantclwyd y Dre and its peaceful garden (where the view of the town was quite amazing). The house has been renovated in a way that each room represents a different time and you can see how people would have been living there through the centuries. I particularly liked the fact that extensions to the house were added regularly which gives a bit of a labyrinth-like feel to it.

After an incredibly delicious meal at On The Hill (one of the best meals we've ever had and so affordable!), we wandered around the town and made sure to stop at St Peter's Church to admire the renovated gate with its golden details. Contrastingly, the Ruthin Craft Centre just down the road has a really contemporary structure and it was nice to explore the galleries and shop. There were a couple of exhibitions happening at the time but our favourite had to be the ceramic sculptures by Susan O'Byrne.

To be completely honest, we would not hesitate to go back to Ruthin just to have another meal at On The Hill!!

Have a great Sunday guys :)

Monday 19 October 2015

Portfolio Update - Sarah & Mark's Wedding Stationery

Lately I've been working on really interesting projects and the most challenging and inspiring of them has to be Sarah & Mark's wedding stationery. I've worked on some wedding stationery before, but this project was definitely the biggest I've ever done and it's such a great achievement for me! I think the best part is when your clients tell you at the end of the process that they love what you've done and how much it means to them. I mean, that's what any designer would like to hear right?!

When Sarah and Mark approached me, they already had a theme in mind but weren't too sure how the invitations should look. After showing them the wedding pack I did for Gina & David, they were sold on the format and how it would all come together thanks to a ribbon and a small tag.

The part I enjoyed the most was working on the illustrations of flowers and various landmarks that were appearing on the invitations and on all the stationery needed for their big day. It's great to see how consistent every piece of design is and how the red hues from the flowers stand out nicely. The extra touch that makes it very special is the stamp we had made from the logo I created especially for the occasion. Fancy isn't it?

My close friend Alice was invited to the wedding with her partner so she took a few photos of my work on the day (If you're reading it, thank you again!). Have a look at them right here!

Overall, really pleased with it all and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Sarah and Mark. All the best for the future!

Thursday 15 October 2015

48h in Warwick

A little while back, we booked a weekend away in Warwick not knowing that Jason would still have an uncomfortable 28cm tube in his kidney. We kind of thought about cancelling and leaving it for another occasion, but we were so looking forward to it that in the end we still went and promised ourselves to take it easy.

We did take it easy (kind of...) and had an amazing time in this small but full of character old town. During the first day, we strolled around the town centre, admiring these amazing Tudor styled houses. The hospital is still completely intact and looks like it's from a Tim Burton's drawing as nothing is straight! We stayed at the Westham B&B, which was really friendly and reasonably priced. Plus, it was so close to the town centre you could walk there no problem. There's an extra charge for the breakfast but I have to say it was really good so definitely worth it.

It was really nice to not have plans for the whole afternoon so we went wherever the wind was taking us. The Collegiate Church of St Mary was open (and free!) so we couldn't resist exploring it. The weather wasn't really on our side during the whole weekend so it was also nice to find shelter in this stunning 15th century building.

We ended our afternoon in the cosy Thomas Oken Tea Rooms, where everything seemed like it was out of a period movie but with some quirky and modern touches added to it. We loved the experience and the fact that there was both local ales and coffees on the menu (it's really rare when we come across a tea room that serves beer!). The setting was just perfect.

We woke up the next day feeling refreshed from our nice night at the B&B and ready to tackle our big day at Warwick Castle. It opens at 10am, so were there for 10am (haha when we're booking somewhere, we always make sure to be there the moment it opens and leave only when it's closing!).

Because it was bought in the 70s by Madame Tussauds, the whole castle is full of wax sculptures looking (creepily) very real and arranged in various settings. The photos above show how people lived there during the year 1471 when Richard Neville (known as the Kingmaker) was preparing his army for battle. Except for his clothes, I think Jason looks like he could be part of the setting with this helmet!

We were lucky enough to be just on time for a tour of the stately home part of the castle that was owned by the Greville family for generations. We learnt a lot of anecdotes and stories about the prestigious great hall and other highly decorated state rooms that the family redecorated to show the world how wealthy they were. As you might know now, that's the kind of historical interiors I love exploring and this part didn't disappoint me at all. Everything to the last detail was thought about and the restoration they went through to make the rooms exactly the same as they were at the time was truly beautiful.

With the weather starting to clear up, we decided to go around the castle wall and climb many many stairs to go up various towers that had amazing views awaiting for us. The Time Tower experience was a really good short attraction that told us a bit more about the story of the castle since its construction.

We made sure to not miss the Flight of the Eagles show in the afternoon and we were pleasantly surprised at how close the birds would fly over our heads! Birds of prey are so fascinating, it was great to see a proper show taking place in such a magical surrounding. I tried very hard to take some good photos but they were going so fast that it was really tricky!

And finally, to end our day on a good note as the sun was shining, we went around the castle to the Victorian Mill which was changed to one of the earliest hydroelectric power stations in the country.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention the Castle Dungeon that you can book as an extra experience with your ticket. If you like being terrified then go for it. This was definitely not my cup of tea, but Jason loved it! It was so well done that some parts just scared me to death! Other than that, the castle is really family friendly with plenty of activities available. I would recommend to go on a sunny day for the shows that are taking place outdoors, and you definitely need to plan a whole day there if you want to see everything!