I started July in Italy, albeit on the last day of my trip. I had a late flight home, so I had a full day to explore Bologna before I headed back to the airport. I took the opportunity to climb to the top of the Towers of Bologna, eat some more pizza, and indulge in my final Italian gelato.
The journey home was long, as my flight was delayed, yet again. I finally crawled through my front door at 3 am and flopped into bed.
Here’s a look back at some of the other things I got up to in July:
Eel Pie Island
A couple of days after returning from Italy, I caught up with my friend Rachael, and we headed to the quirky Eel Pie Island.
Eel Pie Island sits on the River Thames near Twickenham. It only opens to the public a couple of times a year, and me and Rach seem to have made it into a bit of an annual trip.
Back in the 1960s, there was a hotel on the island which became popular with jazz and blues musicians. The Rolling Stones, The Who and Pink Floyd all played at Eel Pie Island Hotel before it burnt to the ground in 1971.
Today, the island has around 50 homes and approx 26 artists’ studios.
Dragon Boat Race
From an annual adventure to an event I’d never been to before, Kingston’s Dragon Boat Challenge took place on the 17th of July.
We used to have Dragon Boat races back in the Shire, but I had never been to watch before.
Dragon Boats are similar to canoes but fitted with a dragon’s head and tail. Each boat has a drummer who helps to keep the rowers in time with each other. Teams, many of whom race in fancy dress, compete to raise money for charity.
The race took part on a stretch of the River Thames alongside one of my favourite local parks, Canbury Gardens.
I decided to wander down with my camera to take a look.
Canbury Gardens had been transformed into a village for the competitors, with an arts & crafts market and food stalls for everyone to enjoy.
It’s a popular event, and with the warm weather added into the mix, it was difficult to get a good spot by the riverside. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy and not afraid to get my hands dirty, so I found myself balancing precariously on top of a rock at the water’s edge to make sure I could get close enough to take some photos.
It was a fun morning out, although next year it would be great to get a team together and compete. Watch this space!
For those of you who’ve followed my Mindful Musings for a while, you’ll know how much I love taking photos. Over the years, my photos have often accompanied my blog posts.
Whilst I’d still describe myself as a hobby photographer, I had a couple of opportunities in July to get out there and take photos for a couple of my clients.
First up was an opportunity to take some photos for my previous employer. I’ve been working on a commercial brochure for the organisation, and they wanted a team photo included. They also wanted some headshots of the staff for their website.
So I agreed to go in and take the photos with my new camera.
It’s always a pleasure to go back, see the old team and meet new faces.
The following day I drove to Leeds Castle in Kent to get some content for one of my clients, who run Segway Tours out of the castle grounds. Not only did I get to take photos of the Segways and some of the riders, but I also had the opportunity to head out on two tours myself!
I loved the experience and got some fantastic footage.
Throughout August, they’re offering a 50% discount on all weekday Adventure & Scenic Tours. Book one of their tours between now and the end of August* and enter ‘summer50’ at the checkout. Click here to visit their website and book your tour.
* except for the August bank holiday
Mayfield Lavender Farm
July also saw me head out to one of my favourite places in Surrey.
I’d visited Mayfield Lavender Farm before but not since the pandemic. With a spare weekend, I packed up my camera and headed off early in a bid to avoid the crowds.
It’s an insanely popular spot for families and Instagrammers alike, and at just £4.50 to get in, a visit to the farm isn’t going to break the bank.
Mayfield Lavender Farm is a working farm, but they’ve done a great job making it the perfect place for those Instagram pics.
Once you’ve parked up, you’re free to wander around the fields, with footpaths in between the rows of lavender to ensure you don’t trample on the beautiful purple flowers. There is a food van to get some light refreshments in the middle of the field or a more substantial cafe and shop by the entrance where you can get a range of hot and cold food, all with a hint of lavender.
There’s an old tractor for the kids to clamber on, a traditional red telephone box which looks great against the colour of the lavender and if you’re tired of walking, you can always hop on the little tractor train which takes you around the outside of the field.
The harvest for this year is almost over, but it’s definitely worth adding to your bucket list next Summer.
Considering the UK is known for its rain and slightly unpredictable weather, it’s been weeks since we saw any significant rainfall.
A hose pipe ban has now come into force across large areas of the country, and grassland from a distance looks more like the desert.
We’re coming to the end of a three or four-day amber warm weather warning, and temperatures broke UK records earlier in July as they reached the heady heights of 40 degrees Celcius.
I’m grateful I was in Italy in June/July with similar temperatures, so I have coped with the heat surprisingly well.
The UK’s infrastructure just wasn’t built for this kind of heat.
It’s lovely to have a hot, dry summer, but what worries me and many others is the reason for the rise in temperatures.
Fingers crossed for some precipitation this week and some slightly cooler temperatures.
And if the rain arrives, you might just find me dancing in it.
That’s all for this week. How was July for you?