Malvern Hills


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you (only an hour out of Birmingham) the Malvern Hills…





I also took my new camera lens out for a test drive, one which has a crazzzzyyyy good zoom. Cue trying to focus on random things in the distance.

Apart from the initial 20 minutes, where I realised my legs have not done any hill walking for a while (!!) it takes about an hour to get up and down one of the hills!

The great things about this walk are:

  1. You can reach the hills via public transport, Great Malvern train station (train direct from Birmingham New street) only takes an hour and it’s 5 minutes from the bottom of the hill. Plus, it only costs roughly ¬£7 return!
  2. There are a load of country pubs in Malvern that can inspire you to keep walking ūüėČ
  3. The walk can be as short or long as you like, depending on how many ‘peaks’ you want to reach. We did three (two and a half) and that was awesome.
  4. The paths are pretty well defined so you don’t feel like you would ever get lost!
  5. Views, views and more views.





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Tudor Best Reads



If you are looking to read about the TUDOR FAMILY, I’m going to bore you with ONE diagram before we jump in. This is the¬†Tudor¬†family tree,¬†so every book I mention features one of the people within this¬†diagram!

Tudor family tree


The Tudor dynasty¬†began with King Henry VII (Lancaster) and his wife Elizabeth (York) who unified the House of Lancaster and the House of York, finally ending the “war of the roses” and creating a united England. He was the last King who had to secure his place on the throne by winning a battle!

For the first time ever in English history, this period was all about the Queens… you go girls!¬†With Mary Queen of Scotland and Elizabeth Queen of England on the throne at the same time, it was an all female ruling for some parts!

Most people would say¬†this¬†period is most famous for Henry VII and his six wives! And it’s true, as¬†this period was dominated by the need for royal succession. As the previous decades had been a battle for the throne, Henry VII was obsessed with having a strong male heir to keep England under the Tudor Rose. In the end, this need was actually met by his¬†fiery red-headed daughter – Elizabeth – who ruled for¬†44 years on the throne. But there was a¬†second issue, and this was religion. Henry VIII broke with¬†Rome to marry Anne Boleyn. This meant that all his children had different religious upbringings, Mary I was Catholic whilst Elizabeth and¬†Edward VI were Protestant. When Edward died suddenly, at the young age of 15, he excluded his sisters and declared Lady Jane Grey as the rightful heir. Although this only lasted a few days.¬†When Mary took back the throne, she was more determined than ever to punish the Protestants… giving her the nickname “Bloody Mary” for all the people she burnt alive!!! Yuck. Elizabeth, meanwhile, gained the throne after Mary’s death to the cheers of London. She never married, although everyone thought she might to her favourite Robert Dudley, so she supported¬†King James I’s claim (son of Mary Queen of Scots)¬†and he¬†became the first King of¬†Scotland and England.

One crazy thing about all of this, was the only reason we had the Tudor line was due to Catherine of Valois (who was Queen of England, marrying Henry V) having relations with one of her courtiers, Owen Tudor. She was grandmother to Henry VII.



The White Princess (The Cousins' War, #5)

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The White Princess РPhillippa Gregory 

Going to be honest, I really debated adding this one in as it was not one of my favourites. However, it does focus on young Queen Elizabeth of York (Henry VII’s wife) who is divided¬†between the red rose of her new husband and the white rose of her mother and her missing brothers. The reason I didn’t like it was due to the ending, I felt it lacked much of her life.

Want to read more about Elizabeth of York?¬†Elizabeth of York: Forgotten Tudor Queen –¬†Amy Licence and Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen –¬†Alison Weir


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The King’s Pleasure – Norah Lofts

Norah Lofts really brings to life, the entire life of¬†Catherine of Aragon. So defined by her failed marriage Henry VIII¬†it was a good change to read about her as a girl, first meeting Prince Arthur and her younger years as Henry’s wife when it was obvious he loved her.

If you like this, you may like:¬†The Constant Princess¬†–¬†Philippa Gregory


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Murder Most Royal РJean Plaidy 

I liked this book about Anne Boleyn as it takes a slightly different angle. It actually also mentions her relationship with her cousin, Katherine Howard (Henry’s fifth wife) who also shared a similar fate. This book portrays Anne as¬†spirited and intelligent from her time in France to her love of Henry. A really good read.

There are so many more books about Anne Boleyn including:¬†The King’s Secret Matter¬†–¬†Jean Plaidy,¬†The Lady in the Tower¬†–¬†Alison Weir,¬†The Concubine¬†–¬†Norah Lofts and¬†The Other Boleyn Girl –¬†Philippa Gregory¬†


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I, Jane – Diane Haeger

This is an interesting read about Jane Seymour. “Plain Jane” only ever wanted to leave in the peace and quiet of her family home, but when she comes to court…¬†in contrast to Anne Boleyn and her increasingly violent relationship with the King…. Henry VIII falls for her charms! This book is written from Jane’s view, and it was great to gain an insight to her¬†youth, even hinting at a possible romance Jane had with her neighbor¬†William Dormer.


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The Boleyn¬†Inheritance¬†–¬†Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is very hit or miss with me, and this book was no different. It follows three key women during this period, Jane Boleyn (Anne Boleyn’s brother George’s wife), Anne of Cleves (Henry VIII’S fourth wife) and Katherine Howard (Henry VIII’s fifth wife). For me, the best bit was about Anne of Cleves, she comes across as kind and intelligent. Her childhood is interesting and her sections of the book were really inspiring. Jane voice is slightly harder to love, she is portrayed as really manipulative and Katherine Howard (Kitty) was too light and spoilt. I just wasn’t sure… but I do think its worth a read as it follows¬†three very different woman and their relationship with the King.


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The Confession of Katherine Howard РSuzannah Dunn 

So, I cried at this one! Poor Katherine Howard, was only 15 years old when she captured the King’s eyes and heart! However, Katherine was in love with another man.¬†Told in the first person by Cat Tilney (her lady in waiting and friend) this book focused on the teenager behind the crown, who’s passion and love affairs sent her to the executioner’s block.

CATHERINE PARR (Always confusing whether its Katherine or Catherine Parr?)

The Sixth Wife by [Dunn, Suzannah]

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The Sixth Wife –¬†Suzannah Dunn

Henry VIII’s last wife had an uneasy start. Following from the death of Katherine Howard, she has to tread very softly with the aging king. This book is told from the view of her lady-in-waiting,¬†Catherine Willoughby, so lacks Katherine’s voice… however it also really brings to life her later relationship with Thomas Seymour and his betrayal.


Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey

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Innocent Traitor – Alison Weir

The “Nine-day Queen”, Lady Jane Grey, is a sad story about a young girl who got caught up in her parent’s ambition. I loved reading this one from her point of view and Alison Weir really made her character believable and real.

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen

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The Sisters who would be Queen РLeanda De Lisle 

The lives of the Grey sisters is pretty unknown, but when their sister Lady Jane Grey became the “nine-day queen” her two younger sisters Katherine and Mary were heirs and rivals to¬†the Tudor monarchs of Mary and Elizabeth I. This is the story of the three girls, their religion, their loves and the games they played to survive two Queens.

If you like this, you may like: Sisters of Treason –¬†Elizabeth Fremantle OR¬†The Fallen Queen –¬†Emily Purdy


I am sure there are any titles about Mary, but I have yet to find one I really recommend! Sorry!


Rival to the Queen

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Rival to the Queen РCarolly Erickson 

Woah, this is about to get confusing…. Lettie Knollys, daughter of Anne Bolyen’s sister Mary’s child (possibly with Henry VIII??) ends up marrying the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, Elizabeth I’s favourite. These woman become powerful rivals and their love for Robert is tested, in different ways.

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The Virgin’s Lover¬†–¬†Philippa Gregory

This is a Phillippa Gregory book I loved! It follows Elizabeth I and her relationship with Robert Dudley. From her youth when she was imprisoned, Robert and Elizabeth’s lives¬†have always been interlinked. He becomes her friend and first love. But now she is Queen, their love is really tested especially when Robert is already married.

If you like this, you may like:¬†The Marriage Game Paperback –¬†Alison Weir¬†

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The Temptation Of Elizabeth Tudor –¬†Elizabeth Norton

This is a slightly more unknown tale of Elizabeth’s relationship with Thomas Seymour. When¬†Henry VIII died, Elizabeth at the young age of¬†14, is looked after by¬†Catherine Parr (his sixth wife) and her new husband Thomas Seymour, but Thomas is ambitious and sees Elizabeth as an opportunity…


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The Lady Elizabeth РAlison Weir 

Yes! I love this book. This book tells the tale of Queen Elizabeth I, ¬†as a girl, before she becomes the magnificent queen we all know about! Its depicts a small child being motherless…¬†disinherited and left defenseless right up to her first experience of love. I highly recommend this one!


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The Forgotten Queen – D. L. Bogdan

Finally! A book about Margaret, Queen of Scotland (Henry VIII’s sister!). I loved this book about a very powerful and passionate woman, who was made Queen of Scotland and ended up shaping England’s future!

If you like this, you may like: The Tudor Princess –¬†Darcey Bonnette


The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary Queen of Scots (Young Royals, #7)

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The Wild Queen РCarolyn Meyer 

Like the title suggests, this book focuses on Mary Queen of Scots and her ‘wild’ life. From Queen of France to her second, complicated marriage… mixed in with scandal, war and her eventual capture! It was fast paced and I couldn’t put it down.

If you like this, you may like:¬†The Other Queen –¬†Philippa Gregory

Royal Road to Fotheringay: (Mary Stuart) by [Plaidy, Jean]

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The Royal Road to Fotheringhay –¬†Jean Plaidy

This follows a young Mary in her time in France as the short-lived Queen. From her relationship with the Queen of France and her return to Scotland, I loved reading about her time as a young girl before she was Queen of Scotland.

Once you finish this, read part 2:¬†The Captive Queen of Scots ¬†–¬†Jean Plaidy¬†


The Boleyn Bride –¬†Emily Purdy

The story of the Elizabeth Howard, the mother to Mary, George and Anne Boleyn.

Three Sisters, Three Queens –¬†Philippa Gregory

The story of Mary, Margaret and Catherine of Aragon, three very different woman in the initial stages of the Tudor period.

Mary, Queen of France¬†–¬†Jean Plaidy

This is the story of Henry VIII’s youngest¬†sister, Mary.

*The family tree image I created myself, it took ages!! All other images taken from amazon books and the internet, I have to say that or people will get angry and we don’t want that!¬†

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Book review: Brazen


This is the tale of¬†Mary Howard. She is a¬†relatively¬†unknown Duchess, growing up in the court of Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn. Her story is a completely young and new perspective¬†to this period of Tudor history and a refreshing change to the many books written from the viewpoint of one of Henry’s 6 wives.

Mary was the only daughter of Thomas Howard, the powerful and extremely ambitious 3rd Duke of Norfolk who¬†was the¬†prime instigator involved in securing his¬†niece Anne Boleyn to be married to King Henry VIII. Her mother, was a cold woman who alienated her in court. As a result, when¬†Mary is¬†married to Henry Fitzroy (referred to as ‘Fitz’ in the book), King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son from his relationship with Elizabeth Blount, when she is only 14, she finds herself pushed¬†into a dangerous court life. As the queen had only one heir, the young¬†Princess Elizabeth, Fitz became¬†a strong contender for the throne. Some English nobles even believed that the king intended to make Fitz his heir when Anne continued to miscarry sons.

Although not intended to be a love match, the more Mary gets to know¬†Fitz, the more she finds herself falling in love with her husband. Due to their age, and a belief that young boys cannot consummate a marriage too young as it might kill them (this was a crazy theory that King¬†Henry supposedly believed that having an early intercourse with Catherine killed his brother Arthur) the two are parted and forbidden to see each other. It soon becomes clear they might have to go behind the king’s back¬†to be together.

Life at court was precarious, and particularly when Anne Boleyn begins to fall out of favour with the king. Those closest to the queen even had to try desperately to keep their lives. Mary, being her cousin, found herself and her young husband as the center of this.

This book was a really interesting read as I have never heard of Mary Howard before!¬†I though the relationship she had with Henry is really¬†believable, with them both enjoying poetry and being recognized as finding each other attractive, and I enjoyed seeing this period of time from a young girl’s voice. Although only covering a three year span, even the Acknowledgment at the end of the book taught me a lot about this plucky Duchess!

*This images was¬†taken from: There are no real examples of portraits of Mary Howard that I could include! The closest is a “Portrait of a Young Woman” by¬†Hans Holbein the Younger, that some have argued might have been Mary Howard… however she could equally be a young Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife.¬†

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New York guide: The MOMA

moma art

Ahhh I’m so excited to write this.

The MOMA in New York is FULL of the most incredible and famous paintings and artwork. Including the stunning; Starry Night (Van Gogh), Water Lilies (Monet), Persistance of Time (Dali), Campbell’s Soup Cans (Andy Warhol) and Drowning Girl (Roy Lichtenstein) Рwhich are just the beginnings of what there is!

It also features a hidden outside sculpture garden that is such a relaxing place to chill in the sunshine for a bit which a cute little water feature. You could well spend a lot of time here.


At $25 entrance fee, its not the cheapest attraction in New York but for me it was well worth the price. Plus it is free for ALL visitors on Friday nights from 4:00 to 8:00 pm Рbut there are BIG queues.

One tip, if you have a backpack or large bag they will ask you to ‘check’ the bag into a cloakroom, so I suggest bringing a smaller handbag. Also, it is best to start at the TOP of the museum and work your way down. There are a lot of exhibitions to see but floor 3 and 4 contain all the really famous pieces and your little legs (like mine) might get tired near the end!

starry night

The opening hours are 10:30 am until 5:30 pm and on Friday it is open until 8:00 pm. So get down there and take a look! Well worth it. Promise.

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