Britain is home to some of the most beautiful gardens – from The Alnwick Garden (including the Poison Garden) to the grounds of Kensington Palace. For this article, we’ve teamed up with Oldrids and Downtown, retailers of stunning conservatory furniture to highlight some of the most beautiful gardens in the country. We hope they will inspire you to inject something new to your outside space as the sunnier days arrive now that spring has sprung.

Kensington Palace Gardens

Whisk yourself off to the world of Neverland by visiting the incredible Kensington Palace Gardens, which was the key inspiration behind the famous children’s book series Peter Pan. This is such a magical garden and I have fond memories of walking around it with my brother on a very happy white Christmas many years ago.

As well as being home to some royals, the palace is world renowned for its spectacular garden space. The Sunken Garden will make for an intimate experience and allow you to develop your peace of mind during your stroll. It’s the very place where Prince Harry introduced the world to his bride-to-be this year.

The palace prides itself on its gardens, and keeps up with historic traditions when  it comes to planting. In the spring, tulips, pansies and wallflowers bloom, whilst during summer, you will see geraniums, cannas and begonias pop out with colour. This is why it is great to visit at different times of year for a whole new experience each time.

Check out the marble Queen Victoria Statue that sits in the East entrance of Kensington Palace. Celebrate children in the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground.

According to ALVA, Kensington Palace had a 4% increase in visits during 2016 — with 397,285 visits in total.

Biddulph Grange Garden

If you’re looking for a garden that will open your eyes to different cultures, a trip to Biddulph will do just this. The 15-acre land is split into different sections that represent different countries across the globe, with Chinese, Egyptian and multiple themes running throughout. It will give you a greater perspective to gardening features around the world. I love this idea and have yet to visit certain that my children and I would learn so much.

The Egyptian landscape includes towering square hedges and a grand temple protected by two pairs of sphinxes. The temple has detailed stonework with bright colours that accompany the golden yews that were planted within this area. A mysterious passageway that leads to the temple is lit by red lights and there’s also stained-glass window which allows you to see the detail of the monkey-god sculptures and more. If you can’t afford a trip to Egypt, this will give you a good feel for the country.

The beauty of The China Garden is that it brings the entire Chinese culture to one place. Using colour to its advantage, bright reds, yellows and greens are featured on all of the structures within the garden — from pond bridges to pagoda’s. The garden also includes a pagoda tree, paulownia tomentosa, azaleas, bamboos, hostas and more, as well as plants from Japan, Britain and America.

There is so much to see at the Biddulph Grange Garden, so remember to take your smartphone because there will be plenty of aesthetically pleasing photo opportunities! Your Instagram feed will rock after a visit to this special place.

The Alnwick Garden

Visiting The Alnwick Garden is like stepping into another world. Home to famous fountains, poison gardens and one of the biggest treehouses in the world — this place has it all. The 14-acre site has a history of plant growth, as the 3rd Duke of Northumberland brought seeds from all over the world to populate the garden with blooming flowers and generate a unique spark within the community. Now, the site has over 200 species of plants — including some which are deadly so watch  out!

What makes this location different to any other on our list is that they have a Poison Garden. But the question is, are you brave enough to enter? Locked by cast-iron gates with skull plaques saying “These Plants Can Kill”, the garden includes strychnos nux-vomica, hemlock, Ricinus communis and more deadly plants. However, the garden stands for a much greater purpose as it aims to educate people on drugs by featuring cannabis, coca and papaver smniferum.

If you love an adventure, the treehouse that has been built from sustainable Canadian cedar, Scandinavian redwood as well as English and Scots pine is the place you should be going. The wobbly rope bridges will lead you to the treehouse café and restaurant, where trunks power through the flooring and make for a remarkable experience.

Which garden will you visit first and why?

Britain's Most Beautiful Gardens






Cuddle Fairy

Reflections from me

Carole Ann Rice has 30 years’ experience in PR, TV, radio and print media and is the author of two career-change books. Drawing on her own success, Carole Ann uses humour, compassion and inspiration to make the process easy and fun for her clients. So as Spring arrives, I am delighted to share my interview with her including some thoughts on why our New Year Resolutions might have gone a bit wrong.

Tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.

I was brought up in a council house in Northolt, dad had served in the Navy in WW2 – we always had great music on, dad bought a record shop and we got out of housing estate hell. I was a punk in 1976 (one of first in West London) and I went to art college when I was 17.

What was your first job?

I have waitressed, done soul- annihilating administration work on industrial estates in Perivale, was an assistant puppeteer on a TV programme, had my own kid’s network cookery show in the 80s (2 series) which I produced and presented and have been a self-taught journalist for 30 years

What do you do now?

I am a life coach, columnist, author and I have a coaching academy where I train people to become world class life coaches

What would you say to someone who is despairing that they did not stick to their New Year resolutions?

It is still possible to make positive changes. When setting a goal, make it achievable, don’t set the bar too high, be realistic and take small steps. Consistency is key to success and be patient. Don’t expect overnight results.

What is visualisation and how can women harness it to improve their lives positively?

Having a clear idea of what you want is all. If you have clarity you don’t need therapy. Energy follows intention. Create a vision board or day dream regularly. Deep down we all know what we want but we don’t trust themselves.

What is peer support and how can it help women in their lives?

You need people who really “get” you. Find your tribe. Network or create online groups of likeminded people.

Who has supported you at your most challenging times?

My female business networks – and my coaches

If you could recommend ONE book to a woman, what would it be and why?

Women Who Run With The Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes – just read the introduction and you will see why.

Carol Ann’s website –


Spring has officially arrived even if the weather needs to catch up. Dark days are going and sunshine is just around the corner. Spring is a time of new life so here is a quote to get us started.


“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

Now typically I would ask you to reflect on that quote but today I am actually asking you (and me) to get out of our heads and to really spring into action. Your challenge this week is to DO something and here are some ideas.

  1. Make something you have never made before. It might be arts and craft, cookery, a vision board or something else entirely.

Share the results with us in words and/or pictures and I bet you learn something along the way too. If you are like me it will be something like you should have tried something simpler, followed instructions or made sure you had all the ingredients/tools for the job!

2. Style yourself for Spring. Inject a colour you would not usually wear. Do it your way and share a pic with  us. Express yourself and all that!

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

3. Write a poem to celebrate the new season. Now who immediately thought “I can’t write poetry!” and such  negative self-talk. You don’t know what you can do until you try!

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” Steve Jobs

We can all blossom with the support of Best Boot Forward so this week let’s take a leap into  creativity and see where  it takes us.

Don’t forget to join our fabulous Facebook Community too for every day conversation and support. In a nutshell, Best Boot Forward is all about making positive, achievable changes to our lives together, offering support to other women and having some fun along the way.


1. Link back to us! New badge coming soon but in the meantime a backlink to this post is super.

2. Please comment on this post and the one from Chloe over at Indigo Wilderness and at least one other. Obviously the more you comment, the better and it is a super way to get to know other people and to interest them in your blog.

3. Link up to 3 posts per week.

4. The linky is open for a week so there is plenty of time to link up, but the earlier you get in the more visitors you are likely to get.

5. Tag Kate at @kateonthinice and myself at @IndigoChlo on Twitter for a retweet with #BestBootForward







At this time of year, it’s impossible to walk into a supermarket without being confronted by aisles full of chocolate Easter eggs. From tiny milk chocolate Easter eggs, all the way to large decadent dark chocolate eggs accompanied by melt-in-your-mouth truffles – hard to resist these delectable treats, even when you’re trying to be healthy.

But just where did chocolate eggs come from? And why are they associated with Easter? The puzzle has been solved – how egg-cellent!

Welcoming the Spring

It may surprise you, but the idea of Easter – in one form or another – has been around since the Medieval period. There’s references to Easter eggs in Anglo-Saxon culture, Persian society, and Pagan rituals.

Eggs have long been associated with spring, symbolising the transition from winter to summer. Anglo-Saxons celebrated the reawakening of nature, fertility and the goddess of spring (called Eostre), by burying eggs. Persians, on the other hand, displayed decorated eggs on Iranian New Year (known as Nowruz). While Pagans viewed celebrated the Sun God, representing new life – it’s believed Christianity absorbed this custom and the egg became a symbol of the resurrection.

Thoughtful Gifts

It wasn’t until centuries later that eggs began being given as gifts and looked more like the Easter eggs that we’d recognise today.

As far back as 13th century England, people gave eggs as gifts to the church on Good Friday. Fast forward a few centuries and dyed eggs were frequently given as presents.

There were also more extravagant egg offerings. During Henry VIII’s reign, he was gifted a silver encased egg from the Vatican. While in the 19th century, Carl Fabergé designed his famous Fabergé eggs for the Russian Czar.

It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that the modern idea of the Easter egg arose. Crafted as toys and bought by the wealthy, eggs were filled with treats were gifted. But it was the Victorians who truly cemented the idea – those clever Victorians! They would fill an egg-shaped object with chocolates, paving the way for chocolate Easter eggs.

Delicious Chocolate Eggs

The very first chocolate Easter eggs were made in Germany in the early 18th century and became popular throughout Europe, spreading to France and the UK. Then, as family-time and traditions became more important, the Victorians embraced the chocolate egg, gifting them to children.

It wasn’t until after WWII and the end of rationing that chocolate Easter eggs really egg-sploded, and the market became saturated, creating the Easter tradition we all know and love, with brands like Thorntons producing millions of eggs every year.

And there you have it! Enjoy your delicious Easter treats!

The History of Chocolate Easter Eggs

Cuddle Fairy
My Random Musings
The Pramshed

Easter is here, which means that it’s time to tuck in to hot-cross buns and Easter eggs. Yum! But what if your family is tired of these traditional favourites? In this post we’re going to look at some fun and interesting alternatives. You can give these as presents or enjoy them yourself. Either way, they could really make Easter feel special.

Vegan Treats

Instead of sticking to the same old chocolate-based presents, you could try giving a natural gift instead. Vegan food could be just thing, because it fits perfectly with the theme of spring and fresh growth. It’s also healthy and can be quite delicious. What’s more, there are vegan alternatives to chocolate available. So, everyone will be smiling.

Gin Miniatures

Need something to wash down those vegan treats? A gin taster or gift set from a site like Just Miniatures could be just the thing – provided you are over 18, of course. These make brilliant presents, because they’re easy to wrap, and they’re definitely fun as well as interesting. Plus, you might just discover your new favourite variant of gin.

Beauty Products

These could be either a present for someone else or a little gift for yourself. Beauty products come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the smallest pots of face cream to the biggest bottles of shampoo. And let’s not forget bath products, like bubble bath and oils, which are welcome at any time of year.

Beautiful Flowers

Spring is the season in which plants everywhere come into glorious bloom, making it the perfect time to give someone a bunch of bright, gorgeous flowers. These will not only add colour to a home, but provide a fragrant atmosphere to enjoy throughout Easter.

Fascinating Books

Easter means time off, and to many that could translate into valuable extra hours that might be best spent curled up with a brilliant book. It doesn’t matter if the books you give as a present are fiction or non-fiction, just as long as they are interesting.

This list presents just some extra options for Easter, but of course there are hundreds of possible presents that could be given during this special time. And let’s not forget that the best gift of all, for many of us, is simply being able to spend time with our families. Enjoy your Easter and may you give and receive many wonderful presents.

Fun And Interesting Alternatives to Easter Eggs



The Pramshed