Before I started this blog, I rarely picked up my camera. I didn't even use the one on my phone all that often except for the occasional blurred snap of the boys to send to Paul at work. Writing was initially my main focus ... capturing memories, moments and anecdotes. Over time, having the images to accompany those words became more and more important to me and now I find that I can't actually start to write a post unless I have the photographs to guide me. Over the past few months, I've tended to struggle more with the writing side of things to be honest, although I think that's due to lack of sleep, the longest ever to-do list and a mind full of a million things.
My favourite photos, hands down, are the ones taken outdoors. I love following the boys round and photographing their adventures ... more often than not, adventures which include ridding the forest floor of sticks and finding a new home for them in their bedrooms. The joys! We head out to explore when the sun is shining, when the rain is pouring, early in the morning, and at last light, too. We're not fussy.
We're incredibly lucky to have so many amazing places on our doorstep, especially as we live close to both the coast and the countryside. We're also within easy reach of one of my favourite places, Bodnant Garden, and one of the nicest nature trails at Hawarden Estate. I've written numerous posts about my love of 'the green, green grass of home' and how much I missed the UK when we were living in Switzerland. I'm not a city person and sometimes struggled living in Zürich and being away from the Welsh countryside ... away from the abundance of green, the crumbling footpaths, the canopies of trees overhead, and the places where the wildlife outnumbers the people. I'm so happy to be home and rediscover my favourite spots with my terrible two in tow.
A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting to Karen from Mini Travellers about how lucky we are to have so many special places to explore across the UK, from simple woodland walks to the most idyllic landscaped gardens, from rolling hills to the deepest lakes ... or both, if you're in the vicinity of the Lake District. We talked about finding a way to celebrate the amazing outdoor spaces and the adventures we take our children on, and also how to discover new places to visit. From this discussion, and with the help of our lovely friends at the National Trust, #UKexplore was born.
#UKexplore is our new Instagram community that we'd like to invite you to join and share your favourite places in the UK and your outdoor adventures. It doesn't have to be one of the 534 National Trust properties; we want to know your 'off the beaten track' spots, too. It could be the most marvellous of meadows, the perfect place for a picnic, the loveliest lake for skimming stones, or rambling routes for running along. Wherever and whenever you're out exploring, simply take a snap and upload it to Instagram so we can all share in your adventures and explore the UK with you. All we ask is that you tag both Karen (@mini_travellers) and I (@theordinarylovely) and use the #UKexplore hashtag so we can find you.
Every month, both Karen and I will feature our favourite images on our blogs and we'll also select one winner each to receive a National Trust Family Admission Day Pass. Nice, right?! #UKexplore will run from the 1st to the last day of the month but we're launching today and will select our first winners from all the images posted between now and the end of April (full terms and conditions are below). You don't have to be a blogger, anyone can join in and be in with a chance to win.
We really hope you'll join us and we can't wait to explore the UK with you.
Terms & Conditions
1. Please only submit (on Instagram) your own photos.
2. Add the #UKexplore hashtag.
3. The challenge runs from 00.00 on the first of the month to 23.59 on the last day of the month.
4. Only photographs uploaded during those times are eligible for that month's competition.
5. Winners will be announced on Mini Travellers and The Ordinary Lovely on the second day of the following month and will be notified on Instagram.
6. Winners have 28 days to provide their address in order to receive their National Trust Family Admission Day Pass (exclusions apply and can be made available upon request). The pass can be used by up to 1 adult and 3 children, or up to 2 adults and 2 children for one day only. There is no cash alternative.
7. Including the #UKexplore hashtag indicates approval for the images to be posted on Mini Travellers and The Ordinary Lovely, and the corresponding social media channels.
8. The judges' decision is final.