Christmas Countdown Day Six - Christmas Eve Eve!

19:44

It’s Christmas Eve Eve! There is only one more door on the advent calendar to open, and two sleeps until Christmas so it’s all getting very exciting…


Today we haven’t stopped baking and cooking all day! We have prepared all of the Ukrainian food ready to cook for Christmas dinner, and the last of the Christmas baking is done and ready for tomorrow.

I thought that for the last post in the countdown to Christmas I would put together a playlist of 50 Christmas songs for any parties you may need to provide a soundtrack to, or if you just need a compilation of Christmas music for Christmas day!


I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Countdown Day Five! - Tree Decorations

23:17

Our Christmas tree is a mishmash of all of the Christmas ornaments we have collected over the years, most of them have stories behind them or are handmade by one of my sisters or my Mum which makes decorating the tree a really fun job as we go through all of our baubles.

This year we decorated the tree with my niece who provided much entertainment by taking the decorations out of the box and declaring to all of us “it sounds breakable!” about every single one. She also used me as a step ladder to get to the tree while I was fixing the Christmas tree skirt…

Every year me and my sisters get a new ornament from Mum and Dad, when both of my sisters moved out it meant that they had almost enough decorations each to decorate their own trees. I have seen a few really lovely decorations this year, with a country twist that I thought I would share.

The first one is this gorgeous glass bauble filled with pheasant feathers from Feathers & Fluff this is a really elegant and whimsical looking bauble that would look lovely on a Christmas tree. I love the look of glass baubles with the soft fairy lights, this bauble is currently out of stock so you may have to wait until next year to order one but it is a very reasonable £5.99 otherwise.  

Next up is this pack of decorations from Jack Wills, they are more of an investment at £19.95 for a pack of 4, although it does work out cheaper per ornament than the last one, but they are adorable and I am particularly a fan of the defender one! These might be a good option if you have a pet or child that wrecks havoc with the Christmas tree as there will be no breakage!

Lastly, this personalised Stag head bauble. This one is more expensive at £7.99 but it would be a lovely gift or commemorative decoration as you can get it personalised with a name or message. Perhaps this would be a nice gift for a family with a new addition, or as a little wedding gift or something similar!

If you’re feeling super organised you could order a couple new baubles this year and put them away with the Christmas decorations and it will be like Christmas (because it is??) next year when you come to get the decorations out next year and you’ve forgotten all about them!

Links to products mentioned:

Christmas Countdown Day Four! - Christmas Traditions

21:23

Every family has different traditions at Christmas time, I love hearing about other people’s family traditions as everyone seems to do Christmas so differently.


In my family, Christmas usually starts with us going to the local Christmas tree farm to get a tree. Ever since I was really little we have been taking our video camera to fetch the Christmas tree and then filming the day, we have videos from every year and they are really lovely memories to have!


As we have some Ukrainian heritage, part of our traditional Christmas dinner incorporates some classic Ukrainian dishes. In the couple of days before Christmas, we usually have a big cooking day when we make Nalysnyky (savoury crepes filled with cottage cheese and dill baked in cream) and Holubtsi (cabbage rolls filled with rice baked in a tomato sauce). We have these alongside all of the usual turkey dinner with all the trimmings.


As well as the Ukrainian food, we tend to do a lot of Christmas baking! So far this year we have made icebox cookies which is my great grandma's recipe, they are a bit similar to gingerbread; iced shortbread biscuits and I have also made some fairy cakes for my Chemistry class. The only bit of baking we still have to get done is the butter tarts which are little pastry dishes filled with raisins, brown sugar and butter.


I have been at my school from year 7 to year 13 and every year, the penultimate day of term before Christmas is a festive day where we can wear tinsel and Christmas jumpers. The teachers put on a pantomime and we all wind down to the end of term, today was our last ever tinsel day as it’s our last year! We went out with a bang, I went all out with my Christmas jumper, light up necklace and reindeer antler scrunchie. There was lots of tinsel, Christmas lights and glitter all over school.


I hope you enjoyed today’s post, only 2 more days until Christmas Eve! Come back tomorrow for another post!

Christmas Countdown Day Three! - Christmas Movies

20:57

Christmas movies are undoubtedly one of the best things about the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good (or not so good) made for TV Christmas movie but I’ve also got a few favourites that I could watch year after year…

One of my ultimate favourite Christmas movies, and has been since I was really little, is the Raymond Briggs Father Christmas movie, the illustrations are fabulous. I have watched it once already this year with my niece, she’s 3 and she seemed to really like it too! This is a great movie to watch with kids, younger siblings or nieces and nephews. We have the book too which is great to read at Christmas time.

Another movie I really love to watch at Christmas is The Holiday. It’s such a feel-good film, and even though I must have seen it at least 10 times it’s always one of my top picks. I would definitely recommend this one for a cosy Sunday at home (perhaps Christmas eve?!) with a hot chocolate and a blanket!

Lastly, a controversial Christmas classic - Die Hard. I’m a big Die Hard fan, I’d go as far as to say I’m as big a fan as Jake from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Bruce Willis is one of my favourite actors of all time, so even though it’s not strictly a Christmas movie (it is set at Christmas!!) I count it as a Christmas movie! This is also a good choice for when you’re feeling slightly overwhelmed by all of the Christmas spirit and you need a break - but not so much that you don’t want to watch something a little bit Christmassy.

That’s all for today, but the Christmas baking has commenced in my house this afternoon so keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow’s post!

Christmas Countdown Day Two! - Christmas Jumpers

17:26

One of my favourite things about Christmas is breaking out my Christmas jumpers. I have got a few, one of my favourites is this one from Sainsbury’s with a sheep on it saying Baa Humbug!

I am also a fan of some of the more subtle Christmas jumpers, and I have put this one (also from Sainsbury’s!) into my jumper rotation, and I’ve been wearing it to sixth form since the start of December!

I thought I would pick out a few of my favourite Christmas jumpers that I’ve seen available this year to showcase them!

Firstly, this one from Rydale (big surprise, when do my posts not feature Rydale!). This is a really cute Christmas jumper in a fair isle style, but it has a farming twist as one of the lines in the pattern is a row of tractors! This would be a great gift for the farmer in your life, and a perfect outfit for a young farmers christmas meal… It’s a steal at only £15, and although it is in the mens section, ladies could definitely pull it off too!

Another lovely one is this Joules festive Game Bird jumper, I love the colour of this one and the design. It has a few touches of glitter and it would look really nice with a tweed skirt I think as it isn’t as patterned as some. It is a little bit more expensive at £49.96, but will last you ages as you only wear it a couple of times a year, and doesn’t seem to be available on the Joules website any more but you can find it here.

The last one I have picked out is this fair isle one from Fat Face, I have a few bits and bobs from Fat Face and it always seems like really good quality. This Christmas jumper is another one you could probably get away with wearing all December, it comes in a few different colours but I think that the navy one might be my favourite! This one is available on the fat face website for £45.

I hope you have enjoyed day two of the countdown to Christmas, be sure to check back for another post tomorrow!

Christmas Countdown Day One! - Stocking Fillers

19:33

Hello and Merry Christmas (well almost anyway)! This is the first of six posts I will be doing this week to get in the Christmas spirit, today’s topic is Stocking Fillers!

Christmas is exactly one week today so hopefully, you are finished all of your Christmas shopping and decorating, but if you’ve still got a few more stocking fillers to pick up then here are a few ideas…


1. Chocolate
Chocolate is a Christmas essential, and a gift I’m sure anyone would be delighted to receive. Cadbury’s is always a winner, but I have recently been introduced to these Lily O’Briens chocolates by my lovely secret santa and they are delicious too!
2. A Pom Pom Hat
We have had a lot of snow here in England in the last few weeks and it has been very cold so some winter essentials would be a very practical gift. There are some lovely bits in the shops at the moment, like this hat (that also came from my secret santa!) from Rydale. It is lovely and warm, and kept my head cosy last night when we went to do the horses, and has a fabulous pink pom pom on top!

3. A Key Ring
Everyone seems to have one of those fluffy pom poms on their keys at the moment, a lovely gift would be one of these Alpaca ones from Bayard Alpacas. I picked mine up from the Royal Three Counties show this summer and it’s so soft and fluffy. It would make a lovely gift, and the alpaca fur adds a touch of luxury to your keys.

4. A Good Book
If you’re lucky enough to have some time off over Christmas, it’s a great time to curl up with a book and a cup of tea. I have really enjoyed reading Amanda Owen’s book The Yorkshire Shepherdess, it would make a great gift as it’s a great read.

5. A Nail Polish
To go with that time off, it’s nice to have a bit of a pamper. It’s lovely to receive some bits that you might not think to get for yourself, nail polish is a nice gift and Christmas is a time to go all out with your colours. I picked out this metallic gold one by Essie in the shade Copper Penny, it would be a great colour for New Year's Eve!

6. A Polo Belt
A polo belt is a slightly more pricey but extra special gift, I wear my polo belt almost every day and it is such a useful accessory to have. Pampeano is one of the big brands for polo belts but mine is from Rydale and it's brilliant, Tottie also do some really nice and affordable ones.

Make sure to check back here tomorrow for another Christmassy post!

My Top 3 Country Coats: Winter 2017 Edition

18:09

It’s pretty much Christmas now (none of that - “it’s too early for the C-word” here!), so I’m declaring it definitely winter.
Winter is great because you can get out all of the jumpers, thermal leggings and thick boot socks you want, but it is also wet and rainy in England. So a good coat is essential.
I have rounded up my top 3 coats for winter (and Autumn & Spring I suppose) into a handy list for you in case you were looking to do some winter wardrobe shopping, so here it goes…

Number One - Tweed of course!
What sort of coat round-up would it be without a bit of tweed? My go-to coat for hunting or days out when I don’t know what the weather is going to do - it’s warm, pretty waterproof and hardy. If you don’t have one already you’ve probably been living under a rock - or in a really hot country!
I got my tweed for Christmas a few years ago and I wouldn’t go a winter without one now.
Mine is a Bronte one that I got from a country retailer local to me. I actually got the men's fit because I wanted something longer that would keep me really warm - function over fashion!

There are loads of good ones out there- Rydale are really reasonable and good quality, Schoffel are very sleek and functional. I would recommend going and looking at them in person so you can get a look at the tweed in person and pick one you like!

Number Two - One to keep out the rain (and wind)!
When I started working at my local riding stables I knew there were 2 things I needed to invest in- good boots and a genuinely waterproof waterproof. I picked up one from Merrell online for around £60. I can’t seem to find it online (I did buy it back in 2013 mind) but the tag says opti-shell if that means anything to you! It’s the most waterproof coat I’ve ever worn. The zips are all sealed and the coat, although thin, is like a rubber glove on the inside and its ripstop on the outside. It’s one layer thick so there’s nowhere for the water to hide - and it doesn’t. I’ve been wearing this coat in rain so heavy that my jodhpurs are soaked through but I stayed dry on top. I think that they may have discontinued it but I know that Under Armour and Helly Hansen both have similarly impenetrable jackets if you take a look.

Number Three - A good allrounder!
A year or so ago I needed a coat that I could wear to sixth form that I could also wear to the yard, the pub, the woods, you name it - so I went to Rydale. I picked up their ‘Diamond Quilted Waxed Jacket’ in Olive. I love this coat - it is pretty waterproof, warm and good to layer under as well. It was a steal at £40 and you can order it online from their website. I would recommend this coat for the countryside or the city - I’ve even had compliments on it from people at sixth form asking where it’s from!

So whatever you’re up to this winter, I hope this has helped you pick a good winter coat! And if you're in any doubt - a Barbour never looks out of place.

Products mentioned:
2. Merrell Opti-Shell (no longer available) 

A Week In the Life of An Aspiring Vet Student!

20:29

Last week was a particularly busy one, with horses needing to be wormed, goat hooves needing to be trimmed and an open evening at my sixth form I had plenty to be getting on with.

On Sunday, we were up at the yard ready for the jobs to commence. I had ordered the wormers for the horses a couple of weeks back, when we knew it was getting close to their worming date, from Vet UK. Anyone who is not aware of Vet UK, and is a pet owner, needs to go and check it out asap. They are a licensed supplier of pet medications that operate online (hurrah for anyone who can never find time to pop out to Countrywide - other retailers are available! - to collect their feed and so get it delivered straight to the yard like us!) and will deliver to your home. It is a godsend when you’ve got cats, dogs and horses to worm and flea on a regular basis as they will even send you a reminder to reorder when you get low. Also, they stock the Wrapz funny farm bandages which I absolutely love the designs of - they had them at my last work experience and the tractor bandages made a regular appearance while I was around! I am in no way sponsored by Vet UK (in fact they probably will never even see this post) but I just wanted to share my fabulous find with you all in case you wanted to try out their website. But back to the matter at hand, we managed to get both horses wormed, which isn’t always an easy task with ponies let alone a 16.1hh Gelderlander and a 17.2hh TB that aren’t massive fans of being wormed.

The goats were feeling good after their hoof trim, Beattie is getting much better about having her feet done since coming to us in January and the boys were as good as ever. I don’t think she regularly, if ever, had her hooves trimmed at her old home so they’re slowly getting into a decent condition. We’re working on it!


Monday to Wednesday was spent at sixth form, plodding along getting through the week until Wednesday evening which was my YFC club’s New Members Night. We decided to host a pumpkin carving night this year which went down well with everyone. Me and my friend Emily carved a tractor pumpkin (which we were very proud of!) and came 3rd overall. We had a few new members around so hopefully, they will join up this year and have lots of fun at YFC!


On Thursday, it was year 7 open evening at my school and as a Biology Subject Champion, one of my roles is to help out the department at open evenings so I was on duty on Thursday night. My Biology teacher got in a sheep’s head last year for us to dissect in a demonstration style for the prospective students and their parents to watch and ask questions. I was on dissection duty last year as I was familiar with the sheep’s teeth and the ageing process etc. so I was more than happy (much to teachers visiting from other department’s disgust!) to do it again this year. At the start of the open evening, I diligently went and fetched half a head from the Bio Prep Room and brought it to the lab to do the ‘pre open evening prep’ with one of the other subject champions. We decided after last year that it was best to remove the brain, eyeball and then dissect the eyeball to remove the lens before the 10-year-old girls turned up! The lens can be placed over some text to show the magnification power it has which is always a crowd pleaser. We explained about the structure of the mouth, the brain and the parts of the eye to the prospective students which they usually find interesting.

Halfway through the open evening, I returned to the prep room to fetch the other side of the head to swap over, and I hit the jackpot when I found a bag of eyeballs and half a dozen kidneys that had been ordered for us to dissect too. It was funny to hear the biology teacher explaining to the parents that “Katie is applying to do Vet Med this year so we have got her this dissection to do as a treat!” much to their horror - it is true! I butterflied a kidney to put on display and left some eyeballs out for the new year 7s to poke with a glove if they were feeling brave… Overall the open evening was successful and the dissection went quite well. (Apologies for the photos if you are squeamish!)

I had Friday off of sixth form, so I was at my sister’s for dinner and SingStar with my niece. I also worked on our new YFC club programme/calendar as I am the programme secretary for this year, but the design is top secret for now!

Saturday was my last day of placement at the small animal vets I have been working at. I have really enjoyed my time there. This weekend was a particularly enjoyable one as there was a rabbit in that needed syringe feeding, it was really sweet but didn’t much like the syringe so that was a challenge! There was a cat in this week that was also in last weekend and he’s a real cheeky one, he meows all day and really isn’t a fan of taking his tablets. We also had a Rottweiler in but he was a gentle giant. I have seen so much at my work experience placement, from bone marrow sampling on a Bulldog to a rabbit with mites. It has really widened my experience and I’m so grateful to have gotten the placement.

Sunday was my sister’s Halloween party, I spent the morning making chocolate brownies and white chocolate spider webs. I think they looked quite cute if a bit messy, and they tasted great! It was good fun to wind down to half term and nice to see all of the family.

So there you have it, a week in the life of an aspiring vet. I hope you enjoyed a bit of a longer post from me!
P.S. If you're a beef or dairy farmer, I would really appreciate if you could fill out my Bovine TB Survey for my EPQ which you can find here - http://bit.ly/BTBSurveyEPQ

My 18th Birthday

16:29

I celebrated my 18th birthday this weekend with some friends and family so I thought I would share some of the gifts I got (in case you wanted some birthday/ Christmas list inspo) and some photos so that I had a record of my birthday.
My actual birthday was on Friday, so I spent most of it at sixth form but I got to see lots of my friends so it wasn’t all that bad! When I got home I went for a meal out with my family. It was a really nice day and I had some lovely gifts from my family.
My mum and dad got me a new laptop as my old one was in pretty bad shape and I’m going to need to take one to uni with me next year. They also made me a photo book, a recipe book and got me some other bits and bobs like the Canadian farmer's almanac from the year I was born.
My Aunty gave me some money so I could get a new hacking jacket, I picked this one from Equetech and it seems like it is really good quality and it will last for a long time.

My sisters got me a Longchamp Le Pliage bag, a Rydale polo belt and a picnic blanket.These are both really thoughtful presents that they know I will make good use of!

I'm really grateful for all of the presents I got so thank you to all of my friends and family.
Lots of family members and family friends gave me money for my birthday which was really kind, I am still deciding what to put it towards but at the moment I’m leaning towards a long sleeved schoffel.
On Saturday I had a party at home and invited some of my friends and family. We put on roast pork, lots of cake and cider. My sister and my mum made me a tractor cake that was bake off worthy! There was so much attention to detail, my sister even made shredded wheat bales with strawberry lace baler twine. It was a really good night and it was nice to see lots of my friends and family.
I want to thank everyone who came to celebrate with me, sent a card or present or a message. I had a lovely weekend!


Is it nearly Autumn yet?

20:48

As I was taking a breather and having a cup of tea today, sometime between frantically filling in my UCAS form and starting my Chemistry revision, I popped into Google ‘when is the first day of Autumn 2017?’. The 22nd September, which also happens to be my eighteenth Birthday, is the first day of Autumn this year.

Autumn is often regarded as back to school season, a time not many students look forward to, that awkward season between the end of the Summer holidays and the start of the Christmas holidays but in reality, it is the season of so much more. It’s the start of the hunting season (hooray!), the start of jumper season and time to crack out the neoprene lined Le Chameaus!

As well as all of that, shooting starts up again properly, Halloween rolls around, and the leaves start to change colour.

Another calendar event for Autumn is the start of the new Young Farmers year. I’m sure lots of members are filling in their forms for another year, clubs are meeting to elect their new committees and planning for new members night is well underway. It’s my first year as an intermediate member this year too! My club will be having our annual Harvest supper at the start of October, this is where the old chairman hands over to the new chairman and all of the awards and trophies from the last year are presented. Last year it was a really good night and I got the Best Junior Girls Member trophy and the Stockjudging cup. Fingers crossed for another good result this year!

This was officially your Autumn-is-coming-prepare-for-lots-of-hunting-posts warning, so I hope you’re looking forwards to it… Apologies for the lack of posts recently back to school has been hectic, but hopefully, I will be back on track now!

p.s. If you haven't already seen, I have a new profile picture on my social media! It's a custom drawing of me and my goats from www.lizsmithillustration.co.uk She also does family portraits, Christmas cards etc. and they would make great gifts!

My Top 3 Country Boots: 2017 Edition

19:16

Anyone who spends time outdoors, whether it be with horses, walking dogs or farming, will know that good boots are essential. Over the last few years, I have tried countless pairs of boots, always having a favourite pair. Some of the best boots I have had have come from the Muck Boot Co., Ariat, Harry Hall and for a long while a pair of Joules wellies were my tried and trusted favourites but I have recently honed my collection down to three pairs which I could not live without. So without further ado, here are my top 3 pairs of boots of 2017…


Firstly are the Mastergrip 6“ Waterproof work boots from Ariat which I got at the start of this year. They have quickly become my favourite pair of work boots. They are comfortable and secure, they give a lot of ankle support which is really nice in the field where the ground is perhaps more uneven and rough. The boots are obviously waterproof so can deal with any mud or puddles you might face. The composite toe means you don’t have to worry so much around the horses as you have some protection, it also means that when the goats decide to stand on my toes I don’t even notice! They are a substantial boot that is very practical and has a classic style. I highly recommend them and as they are from Ariat you know they are made to a high quality and will hopefully last well.
You can check them out here: http://bit.ly/ariatmastergrip



Next, up in my boot shortlist are the Dublin River Boots. I have had my Dublins since Christmas 2015 and they are still going strong. They are a really comfortable pair of yard boots and they can be put to the test mucking out and doing various jobs or dressed up a bit and worn out. I always get compliments on my Dublin boots and they are definitely a must have. There are so many brands out there selling country boots but I am a big fan of these ones and they have certainly lasted me well so far! They clean up well and are very low-maintenance boots. When I first got them I was distraught at them getting a bit scuffed up but it works into the leather and just adds to the character. I regularly reach for these boots when headed for a long day of walking at a game fair, county show etc. because I know I can walk all day long in them with no problems.
They are available here: http://bit.ly/dublinriver



Lastly but definitely not least are the Le Chameau Vierzonord wellies. I got my chams last May and I can honestly say they are the highest quality wellies I have ever had. The natural rubber and neoprene lining moulds to your feet and makes them extremely comfortable. The boots are completely waterproof and warm which is great for winter. Everyone deserves a pair of luxury wellies in their life! You can feel the difference in quality between them and other neoprene lined wellies on the market at lower prices. For the assured quality I think they are worth it so definitely pop them on your birthday/Christmas list!
You can shop the Le Chameau range here: http://bit.ly/vierzonord


* disclaimer, some of the products mentioned have been kindly sent to me by the aforementioned brands, but my opinions are all unbiased and true.

countryfile

Countryfile Live 2017

19:51

On Sunday, we headed down to Blenheim Palace to go to the Countryfile Live event that was on all weekend.

Last year, we went to the Game Fair at Ragley as it was really close to home but with it being a bit further afield this year, we decided to go to Countryfile Live as Blenheim isn’t too far away and the event looked fabulous last year.

We got there at around 11 and were greeted by the giant gates and an impressive row of grey Fergies.

There was lots to see and do, it was different from some of the other country days out that we have been to in the past as there were less shopping stands and more attractions & shows to see.

We spent some time in the livestock area, it was great to see so many British breeds celebrated! There was even a Highland calf which was so sweet…

Lots of the exhibitors were really interesting, one had a sample of lots trays on the table filled with peas, oats, barley, linseed etc. to identify and feel. It was a really interactive display and definitely drew people in.
Once we had sampled the great food that was on offer and browsed all of the exhibits we could manage, we found a hay bale by the centre ring and watched some of the acts.

We saw the lamb national, the dog & duck show, the BMX stunt show, a gun dog display and a falconry display. There really was something for everyone!




We had a great day out at Countryfile Live and I would definitely recommend it as a day out. There are lots of great things to see and do there, and it would be a great day out for children too.

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