Go on an adventure in the rain to find a Fairy Door

FairydoorLast week we were blessed with fabulous sunshine and amazing temperatures, this week we weren’t (unless you’re a duck or plant starved of water). But rain doesn’t have to mean the end of outdoor fun and games if you have some wellies and a decent waterproof coat. There’s nothing better than getting out into the countryside and experiencing some nature close to home. Sure you might need a shower or three when you arrive home caked in mud but getting outside is good for the whole family. You could even add some magic to your trip and go on an adventure in the rain to find a Fairy Door!fairydoor5

We did just that a short time ago and found this amazing fairy residence nestled in a pretty little woodland quite near to us.

fairydoor2
Inside the fully working door there were instructions on the kinds of gifts the fairy likes to receive. These messages change throughout the year depending on the seasons and the fairy’s mood!

This particular Fairy Door is located in a private woodland in Derbyshire which the landowner graciously allows the public to visit all year round. Thanks to all the extra touches I’m convinced the owner must love housing this magical little cottage and seeing just how much pleasure it brings to local children and adults alike.fairydoor3

Aside from fairies though we found a wonderful small stream and had a great time looking for birds and squirrels hiding in the trees. We’ve been somewhat inspired by watching Springwatch!

By far the muddiest member of our family was our pet Dalmatian who turned almost completely brown after he rolled around on the ground, but muddy footprints aside he had a great time too :)

fairydoor4
There’s actually quite a few fairy doors located across the country, so why not ask around and see if there’s a local one you could visit for a magical rainy adventure!

The Woollen Woods 2016

queenofheartsEvery year a magical event takes place as part of Voluntary Arts Week – The Woollen Woods. Woodlands across the country become inhabited with all manner of knitted (or crocheted) creatures to the delight of thousands of visitors. It all started last year with seven woods (of which Derbyshire was one) and this year it grew even bigger. This was the second year I’d had the pleasure of joining in with the Derbyshire Woollen Woods held in Belper Parks Wood.  It was such a huge success that I felt compelled to share a few pics (and videos) for those who couldn’t manage to make it along.mouse

It took months of hard work by local crafters (and a few further afield) to make enough pieces to decorate the majority of Belper Woods but as you can hopefully see from these pics it was definitely worth it. The creations were displayed between 7-15th May this year and the response we received was absolutely wonderful. We even had some visitors travel quite a distance for a day out in our Woolly Wonderland!whiterabbitI believe there’s a special childlike joy that only magical woolly creatures can bring and with that in mind here’s a few of my favourite pieces (not made by me) and two mini video tours. bunny

If looking through this post has got you itching to get involved with the Derbyshire event then pop over to Anne Clark Handmade and send Anne an email. owlAnne organised the Derbyshire Woollen Woods for both years and we’ve also yarn bombed several other events including local festivals, Christmas decorations, the hospital, museum and much more!

If you weren’t lucky enough to be able to visit a Woollen Woods this year then keep your eyes peeled on the Voluntary Arts Week website for details of the event next year.snake

To see some pics of last years Woollen Woods check out my 2015 post.

snails

McDonald’s Restaurant Evolution

McDonaldsboxes2When I was pregnant with my twins I had one major craving and that was for Big Macs! I couldn’t get enough then and I still love them now, so I was very excited to be invited along to the Clifton branch of McDonald’s last week. I learnt all about McDonald’s restaurant evolution and even got to make my very own Big Mac!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by McDonald’s but the opinions below are entirely my own and unbiased.

But I know all about McDonald’s

This seems to be a common misconception amongst generations that have grown up with a McDonald’s store nearby. Sure the Big Mac that you order now is virtually identical to the original 1967 burger but McDonald’s is moving with the times and there’s some exciting new features planned for your local store soon!Drinks

It’s all about convenience

Great fast food should be quick to obtain, ridiculously tasty and a stress-free experience. Of course that can mean different things to different people and McDonald’s recognises that individual needs demand personalised options. In addition to familiar staples such as the Drive thru and Order Counter you can now place your order at a Quick Touchscreen Kiosk like the one below. The touchscreen is really easy to use and can even be adapted into several languages or used in an accessibility mode (perfect for wheelchair users or shorter guests).

touchscreenkiosk

Freshness means customisation!

In days gone by people with a particular food hate (like salt on fries) would have been forgiven for thinking McDonald’s wasn’t the restaurant for them. All the food was cooked in advance which meant the contents was set in stone. Well no more, all McDonald’s food is now cooked to order, which aside from being infinitely fresher also means that it’s much more customisable. Even the new touchscreen kiosk offers you the option to remove any food features that you don’t like (such as salt on fries, or Bacon on a Big Tasty).

McDonaldsburgers

But… trying to carry all that food while watching the kids is a nightmare!

I’ve been there too, trying to balance 3 happy meals, 2 adult meals plus 5 drinks just can’t be done. However you can now choose table service and have your food brought to you. Just pick an area and select it when you order and once assembled a member of staff will bring it straight over.

tableservice

The kids run riot if I try to take them out!

Not to worry, McDonald’s is even bringing touchscreen tablets to entertain the kids while you finish your meal. Angry Birds is the current Happy Meal theme and all the games were available to play plus much more. Adults can of course use the tablets too.

Tablets

 

Time to go behind the scenes

I was invited to step behind the counter to visit the kitchens and other storage areas. The sheer scale of organisation was dizzying, plus I’ve never seen so much bread before in my life! Out back there’s some major recycling taking place, the most impressive of which is that McDonald’s takes all their used oil and converts it into Bio Diesel to power their trucks!!

MakingBigMac

We went back into the kitchens where a hive of activity was taking place, everyone has a distinct role and seemed to execute it with ease. After a quick demonstration I was assured that I could make my very own Big Mac. However I felt slightly intimidated by the speed with which the staff work (plus Big Macs are rather iconic!) but I gave it a whirl and I was unreasonably proud of the end result (as my Twitter & Instagram followers are probably already aware) :)

MakingBigMac2

Although I can’t promise that both buns have exactly 3.5g of onions (bet you never knew it was so precise!)

MyBigMac

Big Mac complete we took a walk over to the new beverage station and marvelled over the coffee machines (which freshly grind the beans) and watched a demonstration of the Frozen Strawberry Lemonade machine (it’s mesmerising to watch and even self-cleans!)

What I’ll take away from the event

As a huge global company it’s tempting to think that McDonald’s doesn’t listen or notice their customers needs but from my observation that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every member of staff has to work in their stores and interact with the general public (yep even the suited corporate employees have served you meals) so they truly understand how a restaurant works. They care about their employees and are aiming to be a truly flexible employer (great for students, parents or anyone with time restrictive responsibilities). They’re not stuck in the past or hiding behind a name, they’re attempting to take their stores into the future and make your personal visit an enjoyable experience and so far I’d say they’re hitting that goal.

McDonaldsBoxes

For More Information

Pop over to McDonald’s website for further info.