Orchids Festival – Kew Gardens, London March 2018

by Emma Bumpus on March 19, 2018

As winter sheds it cold and crispy layers Careertraveller takes a speedy 30-minute journey from Central London to Kew’s famous UNESCO World Heritage Site to celebrate their 23rd annual Orchids Festival.

Located in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, is a stunning glasshouse of 10 climatic zones that celebrate Thailand, which home to over 1,100 orchids brings a carnival of colour to this world leader in the study of orchids.

Greeted by a giant floral water dragon and golden Thai cart we step into South East Asia and uncover an exotic paradise of enlightened plant science and Thai culture that smiles with friendly and fun-loving hospitality. Multi-coloured handcrafted Thai umbrellas and pendulous lanterns weave an invigorating trail of wondrous beauty through a botanical forest of flamboyant colour and texture all under canopy.

From the distinctively ‘hot and steamy’ to ‘cool and temperate’ zones awaits a journey of sensory lowland and mountainous orchid species whose blooms spray harmoniously amongst the symbiotic bromeliads, ferns and lichens. Spectacular!

From dry tropic desert cacti to wet tropic jungle, succulent foliage presents a stunning backdrop for bountiful orchids that symbolise Thailand’s’ royal natural beauty.

Careertraveller favourite Paphiopedilum slipper orchid is a captivating genus with it’s unusual looking pouch-like labellum of a flower that cunningly traps insects seeking nectar. Red burning eye candy comes in the form of Anthurium or commonly known Flamingo Flower, whose dazzling show of long, dark green leathery leaves and waxy architectural heart – shaped flowers glisten with bright light loving pride!

Caught in a celestial space of fields and forest we admire the delicate swarms of Dendrobium and Phalaenopsis moth orchids, whose butterfly-like petals gracefully adorn the festival’s centrepiece Bang Pa-In-inspired Orchid Palace. Fit for royalty, this floral display replicates the prominent Thai Summer Palace of the Kings of Thailand and sits elegantly in an ornamental rectangular pond as if on the banks of the Chaopraya River near Bangkok!

Happily lost in this “forest by the sea” we discover Red Mangroves from Phuket Island and unearth their swamp-like protective tidal qualities and buoyant seeds that propagate in far away places. Experiencing Mother Nature, we admire the Elephantine Gardener, a wonderful bamboo creation of Thailand’s Asian elephants who aid deforestation by eating her plants and spreading seeds in dung, producing more plantations. It is no wonder the national emblem of Thailand is the Siamese elephant!

Lunch brings more Thai creativeness outside the conservatory with a pop up tent serving fresh aromatic street food that starts with a winter warmer Orchid Cocktail overlooking Kew’s inspirational gardens. A shaken vodka with ginger liqueur and lemongrass cordial is a winner with fresh chilli and cold pressed citrus, giving just enough spicy edge to indulge a Thai red chicken curry with coriander and jasmine rice. No surprise we discover the plants behind Thai gastronomy and identify their medicinal properties.

Melted by the seasonal and golden butternut squash and fuelled with the flavours of SE Asia we continue our journey inside the conservatory to the tunes of Thai Music Circle who gracefully perform classical Thai music. Amidst the rural rice paddy and cloud forest we soak up Thai life with its diverse geography and strong national identity where local food, celebration and music are prevalent.

Seedbanks are the topic of conversation in the film room, which transports us to the forests and National Parks of Thailand where we consider the effects of deforestation, plant extinction and their impact on the environment. We learn about conservation and Kew’s research of plant species, including their Millenium Seed Bank Partnership, which focussing on endangered plant species introduces us to Kew’s wild botanical garden Wakehurst, home to this seed bank and the largest wild seed conservation project in the world!

In the ‘land of a thousand smiles’ we applaud Kew and this year’s Orchids Festival, hosted in partnership with the Royal Thai Embassy, London and partners, for a wonderful insight to Thailand and the beauty of plant diversity and science.

Further information:

Kew Gardens
Kew Garden Events


Winter brings a coastal injection of island life to Careertraveller and family as they venture off the Essex shoreline, heading 9 miles south of Colchester to Mersea Island.

Adventure heightens as we drive over a causeway called The Strood, whose silky low tide mudflats introduce us to the Blackwater Estuary, famous for it’s saltmarshes and wildlife feeding ground.

Beach life beckons as we drive through chocolate box villages beaming with pride and stunning countryside, teasing us with interrupted estuary views of the island, spanning just 8 miles square!

Sandy shingle beaches and the Victoria Esplanade is our final destination where we are greeted by a seaside carnival of pristine candy coloured beach huts that twinkle with pleasure, fun and relaxation. It is here we meet Betty, the celebrated award winning beach hut owned by the The Little Beach Hut Company, whose award winning beach huts offers guests a slice of luxury hideaway chic.

Immaculately positioned with front row veranda overlooking the sea stands this tantalising tardis with glass interior doors, presenting a harbour of cheerful vintage paraphernalia built to please. Inside is a boat -like haven of carefully constructed space brimming with essentials including water, gas, cooker and sink. Rainbow coloured tableware and crockery come in all shapes and sizes with a captivating mix of spots and stripes in bone china and melamine, which amongst the deckchairs, windbreakers and electric heater radiates grand hospitality.

White washed walls adorned with nautical memorabilia bring the outside in and make this a home for all seasons and a reason to celebrate the good things in life. Amongst the buckets and spades and good old-fashioned dominoes we can’t help but notice a scattering of shells and wooden love hearts. We later discover these have chaperoned 4 successful marriage proposals!

Betty woos us with her fluffy cosy seating, pastel coloured cushions and picnic tables, which enough for 8 people brings on a brew and a pan of hot chocolate for the teenagers after a midwinter game of seashore cricket. Hunger alert is a seafood menu of fresh handpicked local fish and homemade treats delivered beautifully by Hughes Fish Company Ltd who specialise in wet fish, shellfish and seafood platters.

Lunch is aesthetically served in afternoon tea style with a 3-tier high tea serving plate stand just bursting with Vitamin Sea! Top to bottom is a sophisticated abundance of smoked salmon, crayfish tails, smoked mackerel, prawns, mussels in half shell and pièce de résistance lobster. Dressed elegantly with fresh lemon on a bed of salt spraying samphire we inhale the ocean and its invigorating properties before sailing away with the melt-in-the-mouth homemade salmon and chive muffins.

Complementary lemony cream cheese and smoked mackerel pâté add a luxuriously luscious superfood palate to the picnic that justifies the zesty potted lemon posset, whose silky rich texture deserves a Michelin star!

Kite surfing views from our seafront dwelling gets the pulses racing for a brisk winters walk along the island’s coastline, which stretching 13 miles door to door brings us close to nature. Amongst the dog walkers and wading birds we clock the Two Sugars Café before cosying up in Betty’s blankets, board games, magazines and surplus tea and coffee. We get lost amongst amidst the water bottles, playing cards and books and observe nothing is too much for Betty, whose beach front allure and well contained hut is a day-trippers delight.

Smitten with this island, a second visit is definitely on the cards!

Further Information:

The Little Beach Hut Company
Hughes Fish Company Ltd
Visit Mersea Island
Visit Essex – The official tourism organisation for Essex


Rochester sparkles with history and festivity beneath Medway’s crisp blue skies bringing Christmas cheer and lashings of Dickensian joy to careertraveller and family.

Situated 30 miles from London we enter Dickens Country and cross the River Medway on Rochester Bridge, a striking architectural masterpiece of old and new engineering adorned with four handsome bronze lions.

Rochester High Street is a gala itinerary of sweet treats and ancient treasure amidst a parade of costumed street performers that celebrates Charles Dickens. The author’s childhood memories of the town unleash a trail of characters and buildings including Six Poor Travellers House and grade I listed Eastgate House. As we mingle amongst the likes of Fagin, Sykes and Miss Havisham we uncover a town of hidden gems brimming with pretty tearooms, restaurants and independent boutiques.

Sweet Expectations is a tardis of traditional and locally produced Kentish handmade chocolate and sweets, all 500 different varieties! Guilty pleasures appear at Mrs Tickit’s Pantry, a cosy oasis of old-fashioned afternoon tea with a hint of Mrs Tickit, cook and housekeeper of the Meagles family in Dickens novel ‘Little Dorrit’.

Sweetness brings literary nectar at Baggins Book Bazaar, a 2-storey labyrinth of books bursting with illustrative knowledge and trivia covering all genres. We get lost in what claims to be the largest second-hand bookshop in England amidst half a million books, bringing scholarly wanderlust for a meander to Rochester Cathedral, England’s second oldest cathedral!

Mesmerised by the mediaeval Romanesque façade with skyscraper spires we step back in time to 604AD when the cathedral was founded and absorb Advent and Christmas amongst revellers in the heart of the city. Caught in a rapturous procession of Dickensian fever we follow a trail of intoxicating Christmas Market pleasures including artisan chocolates, mulled wine and bratwurst in a Bavarian style food village.

Gifts galore set in the grounds of Rochester Castle we can not resist climbing the 12th century keep, which all 113 feet high on the east bank of the River Medway, brings English heritage alive with historical panorama.

The melodic sound of City of Rochester Pipe Band in the distance takes us back to the city’s magical cobbled streets for a glimpse of Santa’s reindeer. It is here we discover the Candlelit Parade, a heart warming cavalcade of ‘Christmas’ wrapped up in a bundle of history, tradition and community.

A mist of long lasting entertainment includes a free evening Carol Concert outside the cathedral, where families gather beneath the‘guaranteed’ snow to the tunes of Rochester Choral Society Choir and BAE Systems Brass Band. Stunning!

A Funfair nightcap brings an illuminated playground of pure vintage amusement amongst the tinsel lined stalls and attractions all twinkling with fun. An alpine glide on the Heltar Skeltar is a carnival of skyline sights amongst the winter wonderland Carousel, Giant Wheel and of course customary Haunted House.

Christmas comes early to Rochester!

Further information:

Visit Medway – The official tourism website for the district including Rochester, Chatham and and Gillingham
Rochester Castle
Rochester Cathedral
Christmas In Medway


Whitstable, Kent October 2017

by Emma Bumpus on October 31, 2017

Autumnal sunsets, unspoilt beaches and lashings of charming fishermen’s cottages entice careertraveller and family to Crab Cottage, a harbour side booty of bountiful elegance brimming with coastal wanderlust.

Outside is a 19th century red bricked shell that opens into a whitewashed oasis of contemporary furnishings with subtle oceanic hints, including a paperweight crab that puts the ‘C’ in Crab Cottage!

A sea of authentic boat-like wooden flooring adds a stylishly wow factor welcome that arouses the nautical senses and takes us to the seaside! Trendy pendant lights, white wooden shutters and a beautiful collection of artwork are eye candy, which makes our cottage break special.

Tasteful extras emerge as the kids spot the iPod dock, CD player, flat screen TV and DVD recorder, whilst the adults peruse a rather cool collection of magazines and books relating to art, culture and fiction. As we dip into a mini library, including the likes of Tracey Emin and Banksy, we observe a modern day mix of drama and humour on the shelf, a perfect read for an all year round stay.

Captivated by the vintage suitcases on display we embark on a colourful journey of mod cons including Italian design DeLonghi kitchen appliances that glitter with chic hospitality. Sparkling stainless steel appliances and funky bright mugs bring a fresh and fashionable feel to this modernised fisherman’s cottage that comes fully equipped with dishwasher, washing machine and child friendly crabbing gear!

Rustic finishing touches come in the form of stone floor tiles, natural wood kitchen work surface area and an accent splashback, whose metro flat brick tiles flow nicely into the adjacent downstairs bathroom. Here we enter a harmonious spa-like cabin of coastal chic privacy where crisp white horizontal tiles, punctuated by a porthole-style mirror, add the illusion of being at sea!

A portable funky radio with matching camping aluminium mess tins wet the appetite for some serious beach combing fun whatever the weather, which leads us to the private decked garden of evergreen plants and patio furniture. All seasons covered, the kids play ball and search for shells where a driftwood plaque for the ‘Beach’ summons play and a 2-minute walk to the harbour, where fish, food and fun uncover Whitstable Fish and Food Market, quayside crabbing and Harbour Market Village.

Whitstable comes alive with a plethora of local market traders who display and sell an array of hand made crafts and food from over 30 huts brimming with home made fudge and cheese to driftwood gifts and photography. This active and friendly working harbour presents a creative and enterprising community in a thriving fishing town, which famous for oysters is steeped in maritime history.Fabulous!

An irresistible taster at the nearby Lobster Shack reveals a trendy beach bar of a restaurant, which inside presents a lively menu of fresh lobster, shellfish and show stopping seasonal Fruit De Mer seafood platter. Discovering their oysters are farmed onsite in a purification centre, we explore Kent’s Oyster Bay Trail and cycle towards Herne Bay, a 5-mile cycle ride covering 5 miles of promenade, candy coloured beach huts and wildlife conservation land.

Energised from a piece of Kent’s stunning coastline, we return to Crab Cottage for some well-earned luxury, which comes with a house-warming bottle of prosecco and a slumber in airy crisp white bedrooms. Tall ceilings, vintage shabby chic furniture and white washed floorboards exude space and freedom that come with sash windows beaming with natural light.

Our en-suite is a deluxe wide mirrored space that opens up the interior with dressing table and room for a walk in wardrobe! Modest flat screen TVs remain inconspicuous amongst the fresh white walls and cool statement furniture pieces that range from retro fish crate bedside tables to iconic RAR rocker chair.

Our en-suite is a deluxe wide mirrored area that opens up the interior with dressing table and room for a walk in wardrobe! Modest flat screen TVs remain inconspicuous amongst the fresh white walls and cool statement furniture pieces that that range from retro fish crate bedside tables to iconic RAR rocker chair.

Morning brings joy with a 2-minute walk to Harbour Street, where a playground of cafes, art galleries and independent shops are breakfast! We get lost in a magic of heart-warming friendliness and unique merchandise that smacks of award winning artisan produce, including Kent’s only specialist The Cheese Box and Sundae Sundae, whose homemade salted caramel ice cream deserves a mention!

Quirky, chic, unusual and style led, Whitstable presents an alluring mix of old and new wrapped up in a chocolate box sea world of pebbly beaches, native oysters, smuggler proof alley ways and well-known water sports.

Crab Cottage has it all, one stay is never enough!

Further information:

The Whitstable Cottage Company
Visit Canterbury – The official tourism website for the Canterbury district including Herne Bay and Whitstable
Harbour Market Whitstable


Lake District, Cumbria England, August 2017

by Emma Bumpus on October 20, 2017

Careertraveller and family take a short break in the Lake District and step into a magical kingdom of lush valleys, imposing mountains and shimmering lakes, that fittingly honour the national park’s recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Scenic roads, heavenly skies and breathtakingly landscape transport us to a romantic county of poetry, pretty stone farmhouses and tumbling waterfalls amidst a backdrop of infinite peaks and fells. Blown away by nature our adventure begins with a stay at YHA Keswick, a riverside oasis bustling with travellers, hikers and families galore.

A trendy bistro style Riverside Bar and Restaurant is a hearty welcome and introduction to 21st century youth hostelling, whose historical roots steeped in health, education and recreation remain at the forefront of YHA today. Amidst a friendly mix of swish leather seating and fashionable pendant lighting we stylishly check in and discover this 26 room hostel comes complete with modern self catering facilities, free wifi, dry room facilities and unforgettable river facing views. Whilst ground floor aesthetic and light enhancing French doors bring the outdoors in, it is our first floor en-suite bedroom with private balcony that puts Keswick firmly on the Careertraveller roadmap!

Overlooking the stony fast flowing River Greta we inhale verdant views of Fitz Park, whose community sporting facilities and neighbouring Keswick Museum sit pretty below the mesmerisingly rugged Latrigg and Skiddaw skyline. Positioned in pure English countryside we take to this northern Lakes market town brimming with life and culture, which on the shores of Derwent Water includes attractions such as the famous Theatre by the Lake and iconic Keswick Alhambra Cinema, a UK picture house built in 1913.

We get lost in the flavours of Cumbria amidst a surplus of cafes, restaurants and pantries that introduce us to a range of ales, cheese and award winning fudge, the type that lure the discerning Foodie to local farmers markets and celebratory food festivals.

Surrounded by a plethora of dog friendly pubs, independent gift and specialist outdoor clothing shops we discover Moot Hall, an imposing grade II listed building that stands proud in the town’s cobbled market square as Keswick’s tourist information centre. Adventure beckons from this exciting former prison and town hall, which steeped in history dating back to 1813, serves an enthusing mix of tourists, country walkers, cyclists and locals.

An irresistible trip to Derwent Pencil Museum, home to one of the world’s largest colour pencil, is a rainy morning excuse to grab a slice of Cumbria’s graphite history. Inside this playground of colour we trace the roots of the first pencil, not forgetting some fun with the kids in an art class!

Enlightened by Keswick’s ‘all weather’ mix of indoor and outdoor hot spots is an appetising reminder of the Lake District’s ‘cultural landscape’, which takes us to Derwent Water, Cumbria’s third largest lake. Greeted by this ‘queen’ of the English Lakes we take a cruise with Keswick Launch and step into the literary world of Arthur Ransome and discover his Lake District inspired novel Swallows and Amazons. An eight jetty hop on hop off tour takes us round National Trust islands including St Herbert’s Island, an acclaimed film location for Ransomes’s children’s classic turned movie in 1974 and 2016.

Whilst Lodore wows us with its 90-foot cascading waterfall called Lodore Falls, the western shores bring Lingholm, whose lakeside access smacks of unique experiences in the form of artisan produce, private walks and Beatrix Potter, all wrapped up in the beautiful Lingholm Estate. Disembarkation is a 5-minute walk to a prominent grade II listed Victorian house, Potter’s favourite Lakeland holiday home whose octagonal Walled Garden crafted Peter Rabbit!

It is here we meet Alpacaly Ever After and embark on an extraordinary alpaca walk that takes us on a quirky private tour of the grounds, which with alpacas in tow, retraces the footsteps of Beatrix herself. Our guide is Terry, whose love and respect for the animals and estate reveals an exclusively innovative and nurturing approach to social enterprise that benefits all.

Lakeside is our chance to paddle with the alpacas who revel in the stunning Derwent Water shoreline, accrediting the likes of Squirrel Nutkin. Discovering these gentle and curious creatures amidst a backdrop commanding crags and fells is a Cumbrian tonic that leads us through enchanting woodland of romance and health. Beneath Cumbria’s inky blue skies we make friends with the Peruvian livestock who we learn are good with children and make excellent pets.

Amidst the sweet pea and cabbage lined Kitchen Garden, nothing phases these calm camelids and as we return them to their pastures for feeding we learn the ropes and feel blessed to have uncovered this natural piece of paradise.

Inside the Lingholm Shop we observe the alpaca gifts including wool socks and hand knitted alpacas and smile in the knowledge that nothing is wasted and that alpaca wool softer than cashmere and seven times warmer than sheep’s wool!

The smell of homemade Cumbrian artisan bread in the café is our cue to take afternoon tea in the beautifully restored 19th century Greenhouse where cake and sandwiches come served on a cool vintage like milk stool. No surprise the bakery made 2017 finalist in the Taste Cumbria Award!

An evening back at YHA Keswick comes in the form of a sunset drink on the riverside balcony and a tapas style meal that brings new choice and modernity to youth hostelling. Chicken tikka skewers and a selection of nachos and grilled Mediterranean vegetables are plenty, which washed down with a family friendly game of Monopoly by the river makes our stay with YHA social, educational and inspirational.

Bedtime is room with a view, which with the usual revitalising lime green duvets and modern comfortable mattresses we slumber to the streaming River Greta, whose rhythm prepares us for climbing England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike the next day. Up at dawn we breakfast in full English style and enjoy an escorted Lakeland Mountain Guides ride to Seathwaite where our leader Matt shepherds us 978 metres high to the summit with sensational Lexi the dog, an experienced working Labrador who brings added value and distraction to the 9-mile circuit!

The Corridor Route introduces us to pools and cliffs including Styhead Tarn and Broad Crag and quite simply we are dazzled be the beauty of Cumbria. As we lunch amidst the clouds and mountain mist it is clear why so many writers and artists take inspiration from the world heritage site and in the words of Lakeland writer Alfred Wainwright we embrace ‘the summit of England’.

Further information:

YHA Keswick
Alpacaly Ever After
Lakeland Mountain Guides
Go Lakes – official tourist board for the Lake District, Cumbria


World of Wedgwood, Staffordshire July 2017

by Emma Bumpus on July 18, 2017

Careertraveller takes a 90-minute train journey North from London’s Euston railway station and arrives in the beautiful city of Stoke -on -Trent, which known as The Potteries, reveals Staffordshire’s World Capital of Ceramics.

Greeted by a bronze statue of Josiah Wedgwood outside Stoke railway station is an eye opener to the history and heritage of the pottery industry whose infamous Ceramics Trail stands proud in the heart of Britain.

A 10-minute taxi ride transports us to World Of Wedgwood, a glass fronted empire whose encompassing 240-acre Wedgwood Estate reflects a stylish open playground of fountains, courtyard and giant willow tableware sculptures that beckon play and stay.

We enter Josiah territory with a breeze past the giant modern (1957) bronze cast sculpture of the iconic craftsman, potter, philanthropist and entrepreneur and receive a creative welcome of 1,100 Wedgwood plates that cleverly display his portrait. An art installation towering 9 metres high and 6 metres wide brings Wedgwood alive with a palette of 18 distinctive glazes that shimmer with Wedgwood Experience Day allure.

A rather cool VIP-like check in with Guest Services presents an organised itinerary of treats that begin with an escorted guide through the tantalising Flagship Store, where wanderlust flavours of the Far East to England infuse in the sophisticated Wedgwood Tea Emporium.

We breakfast with dignity from a collection of over 50 blends across the continents, choosing a pot of green tea Empress Catherine from the Lord Wedgwood Collection, a smooth mellow green tea blend that tributes the Russian enlightened ruler dating back to 1762. Served handsomely in a bone china teapot, displaying North Yorkshire’s stately home Castle Howard, is Wedgwood’s distinguished Parkland Collection of English heritage tableware, unique to the Flagship Store.

Fuelled and inspired we head to the guided Factory Tour that takes us back to the roots of clay, bone china and production processes performed by talented artists and craftsmen. From casting and glazing to 22 carat hand gold painting, the rafters of Barlaston factory dazzle us with skills and dedication that salute Josiah’s desire for perfection and quintessential British tableware including Jasperware, Black Basalt and Queen’s Ware.

Factory lingo brings diddling sticks and sponging to the tour and steers us towards the Master Craft Studio where opportunity presents itself in the form of a potter’s wheel and skilled guidance. Whilst some grab an apron, others venture to the Wedgwood Tea Emporium for some seriously scintillating and sensory Wonderlust Tea tasting that lifts the soul. Variety comes in a teacup of telescopic colour, radiating travel and history amidst a perfume of white blend ylang ylang and ginger to rose petal, camelia and aloe vera green tea.

Inspired by art and culture we set sail for the Decorating Studio to decorate some genuine Wedgwood straight from the factory. Taking inspiration from Kit Kemp’s Mythical Creatures bone china collection, which sits upon a ceramic fairy-tale dragon built with crockery, we toy with design and illustration in a tardis of striking colour!

Corner to corner of the tantalising Flagship Store is one big adventure bursting with Wedgwood inspiration and cutting edge design from designers including Jasper Conran and Vera Wang. Luxury dinner and giftware delivers promise, passion and renowned Prestige; Wedgwood’s collection of hand painted bespoke pieces including Careertraveller favourite Floral Eden Collection. Botanical and grandiose, this Royal Horticultural Society flower inspired trove is designed and hand painted on site in the Wedgwood Studio, a hub of great British enterprise and heritage that celebrates Made in England.

Afternoon Tea in the fashionably airy Wedgwood Tearoom is an opulent affair of refined tea, tableware and delectable freshly cut finger sandwiches that smile alongside exquisitely dainty pastries. Served on Wedgwood’s Parkland crockery is the ultimate mark of excellence. Surrounded by subtle shades of Wedgwood Jasper Trials and strikingly bold floral print Wedgwood wallpaper embellished with gold, brings a touch of Vera Wang’s fine bone china Hibiscus collection to the table. Stunning!

A final meander round the Wedgwood Museum consolidates the Wedgwood Experience Day with a snapshot of Josiah memorabilia, whose experiments, determination and vision preserve the Wedgwood legacy and artisan skills in the 21st century.

A glimpse of neighbouring new store Brand Junction is an excuse to peruse the latest Waterford, Royal Doulton and Royal Albert collections together in one big trendy warehouse of luxury chic lifestyle goodies brimming with tradition and style.

World of Wedgwood is an exclusive experience bursting with fun, flavour and flair, hence no surprise Stoke-on-Trent has been shortlisted to become UK City of Culture 2021.

Further information:

World Of Wedgwood
Visit Stoke
Enjoy Staffordshire


RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire June 2017

by Emma Bumpus on June 19, 2017

Dramatic lush Derbyshire countryside and 555 square miles of exquisite national parkland take Careertraveller to Chatsworth House in celebration of the first RHS Chatsworth Flower Shower 2017.

History and horticulture explode with virtue and vision as we enter the heart of the Peak District, which south of Sheffield and north of Derby transports us to the market town of Bakewell, home to Bakewell Tart or pudding. Steeped in Anglo –Saxon history we enter a land of charismatic stone built houses and quintessential boutiques on the banks of the River Wye and are intoxicated by the diverse landscape within England’s breath-taking Peak District National Park.

Natural beauty and rural romance take hold with the majestic sight of Chatsworth House, whose 1,000 acre fertile green landscaped estate and 15 kilometres long dry stonewall gives a traditional introduction to the foundations of RHS Chatsworth.

Greeted by a plethora of pop up tents of artisan food, drink and gifts awaits a showground of lavish blooms and gardens that celebrate the work of Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth in 1826. Underpinning the show stands a floral plaque in tribute to the plant hunter, landscape architect and glasshouse designer, whose famous works at Chatsworth include the Emperor Fountain whose record height is 300ft high!

Entertainment galore is a traditional and tropical mix of, gardens, flowers and Talk Theatres that start with sustainable winemaking in the Artisan Kitchen Theatre and Villa Maria, whose naturally organic methods bring nature to the vineyard. Stalls including The Cheshire Cheese Company offering award winning Black Bob extra mature cheddar to Bloomers of Bakewell hand crafted pastries are a culinary journey around the mouth watering Derbyshire Dales!

Crossing the free flowing River Derwent that streams harmoniously through the grounds of Chatsworth looms a taste of the exotic with careertraveller favourite Palladian Style-Bridge, whose vibrant floral artistry delivers a spectacular carnival of willowy snake succulents. Red heart anthurium lilies and fresh cut banana leaves intertwined with giant globe artichokes and sunflowers weave a tapestry of strikingly green foliage that illuminates the show’s ultimate theme ‘Design Revolutionaries’, celebrating 21st century garden innovation.

The bar is set high with 8 stunningly beautiful Show Gardens that beam with honest intelligence, style and expression, the type that derives from soil enriching learning, devotion and pure creativity. Water, grass and stone emerge as loyal and local contributors bursting with historical significance. The IQ Quarry Garden captures Chatsworth with featured gritstone stone sourced from the very quarry that first built Chatsworth House and subsequent wing.

Designed by Paul Hervey–Brookes with support from Horticulture students at Nottingham Trent University stands a plot of mineral extraction and self-seeding wild flowers created for native birds to increase biodiversity.

Accessorised with slate monoliths, recycled kerbing and pre-formed concrete stands Ann-Magreth Bohl’s ‘Passing Light’ sculptural installation, a monumental screen of quarried corten steel that brings the outside in with use of light, shadow and form. Inspired by the Institute of Quarrying’s 100th anniversary and nature’s relationship with hand crafted stone is an award winning ‘Best Show Garden’ award that cements Chatsworth’s place in the RHS calendar.

Moving onto pastures green shines the enchanting Experience Peak District & Derbyshire Garden whose contrastingly 2-part garden conveys Derbyshire countryside joy. A central mown path rising to 17th century statue and country house Italianate planting is beautifully surrounded by rough grass meadows that beam with native wild flowers and life-sized metallic cows. Inspired by local metal mining and surrounding Derbyshire Dales tributes Garden Designer Lee Bestall, with local sponsor C.W. Sellors Fine Jewellery, whose hand-carved insect jewellery is spotted in the trees!

RHS Chatsworth partner Wedgwood bring gardening alive with ‘Gold’ award winning designer Sam Ovens Wedgwood Garden, whose haven of travel inspired colours from Europe and Asia are the source of Wedgwood’s latest Wonderlust Tea and teaware collection. Mood enhancing blackcurrant blooms and pollinating magnet Penstemon ‘Raven’ with heart shaped Hosta sieboldiana ‘Elegans‘ present a romantic mix in an elegant cocoon of dry stone walls and canal- like trough of water, shimmering with Josiah Wedgwood excellence.

Freeform Installation Gardens bring added extra to the show for the first time with RHS, presenting 8 totally different thoughts and concepts behind gardening and a connectivity between art and people. Careertraveller favourite is The Inspire and Achieve Foundation’sThe Good Within’ garden, whose vandalised roofless building displays hope in the form of a centrally placed uplifting beacon. Designed by young people whom the charity support, with partners architects Guy Taylor Associates and plant centre Hortus Loci, survives a building that represents the journey of time and growth for young people.

From Bug Hotels to Outdoor Classroom of bush craft and den building we get lost in the verdant grounds of alfresco wildlife and take to the Floral Marquee for some show stopping plant and flower exhibits under canopy. Rows of sweet peas to peonies present award winning eye candy amongst sprays of multi-coloured dahlias and gladioli that reach for the sky, proving nothing is too much for RHS Chatsworth.

A final mooch around Plant Village is our chance to discover new blooms and species before entering the inflatable Great Conservatory, which 14 metres high represents Joseph Paxton’s original glasshouse or ‘Great Stove’ of tropical plants. Originally built between 1836-1840 at Chatsworth, we stand amongst the sultry palms and banana plants that inspired the legendary Design Revolutionary and take a piece of RHS home to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place (RHS).

Further information:

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017
Chatsworth House
Visit Peak District & Derbyshire – Official Tourism Board


Broadstairs, Thanet, May 2017

by Emma Bumpus on June 7, 2017

Coastal adventure with a twist of 4 star luxury and heaps of quintessential seaside entertainment drives careertraveller and family to the Isle of Thanet, an infinite shoreline adventure.

Azure blue sky and billowing sail like clouds bring the Mediterranean to this picturesque harbour side town teeming with historical and unique treasure, including The Yarrow Hotel. Driving in to the generous red tiled car park is a VIP experience as the eyes soar high to capture this rather majestic and imposing Victorian Grade II Listed building. Greeted by sunny rays, random parakeets and East Kent College, whom own and operate the hotel, we enter the UKs first and only training hotel run by a further education provider.

Inside the lobby awaits a pristine white open space whose lofty ceiling adorned with contemporary pendant lights oozes a fresh panache that comes with a recent, 2016, £10.5 million makeover. Black and white checkerboard floor tiles create an elegant and strikingly timeless entrance with a traditional hexagonal symmetry that shows respect for the building’s history and British heritage.

A welcoming check-in brings an introduction to a range of facilities that lead the eye round a tastefully decorated luxury boutique hotel, which set in a former convalescent home built in 1893 by Sir Alfred Yarrow, offers guests a stimulating mix of leisure.

A fashionable lounge decorated with modern seating and warm spotlights brings a pleasing Edwardian inspired palette of contrasting creams and royal blue, which interspersed with fuchsia pink cushions brings a chic ambiance to the adjacent bar area that sparkles with 21st century hospitality and modernity! A Salon & Spa mooch takes us to a calm Dermalogica skin health fitness oasis, which brimming with leather sofas, gifts and treatments bursts with revive and relaxation.

We take a Yarrow break and hit the promenade; a 5-minute stroll that takes us to the well-manicured cliff top Victoria Gardens that boasts a pretty fertile green with bandstand, clock tower and nearby Lillyputt Minigolf. Here 12 championship holes, not forgetting the lucky 13th, take us on a amusing family outing around windmills, obelisks and rather quirky fishing boat with imitation shark and nets. A gentle reminder we play amidst the biggest fishing industry in the south east!

Situated in a fragrant and beautifully maintained garden of architectural evergreen and sub tropical palms we putt amongst a rainbow of sun-loving borders teeming with vividly vigorous coneflowers and warm climate Atlantic plants, including the towering jewel Echium Pininana!

Brunch is a feathery light teacake, which delivered fresh from local bakers Crusties to the famous canopied Tea Garden is an insight to this charming family run business, which since 1995 has cleverly preserved the former Jack Nun Putting Green. Advertised in the 1930s with having ‘seven powerful’ floodlit’ lamps overlooking the sea, we begin some serious time travelling in the renowned ‘Jewel in Thanet’s Crown’ and set sail for scholarly treasure at the Dickens House Museum. A charming wrought iron gated garden with summer meadow flowers is an invitation inside the Victorian author’s inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in his novel David Copperfield.

A guided tour by Curator ‘Lee’ is a superb insight to the life and history of Charles Dickens, whom we discover relished holidaying in Broadstairs, hence reflected in the museum’s authentic display of memorabilia, including letters, books such as Nicholas Nickelby and mahogany desk. A recreation of Betsey Trotwood’s Parlour is a tribute to the literary hero whose seaside sojourns echo the adjacent The Charles Dickens gastropub, whose devoted Copperfields Restaurant delivers Broadstairs on a Fishermans Platter overlooking Viking Bay.

Stunning views of the curved sandy ‘Seaside Award’ beach and timber harbour illuminate Dickens love and reference to the area in his literature, which prepares us for a lavish trawler of locally sourced fish. Fresh and plump creamy oysters start the show and bring the smell of the seashore to the table, which accompanied by delicate devilled whitebait fried perfectly with spice and seasoning ignites the seafood appetite for some seriously good light and golden crunch salt and pepper squid that hums with Thanet’s salty air! Dessert menu options bring a showpiece to the table with a Kentish Cherry and Orange Cheesecake Crumble that sits pretty in a glass topped with juicy cherry and orange zest cascading down to salivating tiers of cream, vanilla ice cream and crispy biscuit.

Revitalised and replenished in such wondrous scenery is a reminder of Dickens affection for Broadstairs“Our English Watering Place”. A leisurely afternoon spent indulging independent art shops and gelato at Morellis ice cream parlour takes us past the vintage flint fronted Palace Cinema whom take pride in offering a harbour side digital sound, large screen cinema with 111 seats! Amongst an abundance of eateries and traditional seafront crabbing paraphernalia we take the Viking Bay boardwalk and lap up the surf and sandy cove rides.

Evening brings dining delight at the Yarrow whose 64-cover restaurant boasts a glistening wine glass chandelier, caramel coloured leather seats and teal decorated walls adorned with period photos that depict the Yarrow legacy. Pictures of students captured in the 1960s add a stylish glamour to the menu, which designed by award winning chef Ben Williams, a former lecturer at the college, brings a deliciously native appeal to the hotel’s kitchen.

Flawless hospitality reflects the college’s recent ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report and reveals a team of dedicated, friendly and customer focussed staff that care about their guests. Whilst the ‘little un’ is helped with an alternative menu the adults take unadulterated pleasure with the tender selection of Kentish lamb main, which placed artistically alongside a trio of dainty potato cake Pomme Anna with splash of dainty broad beans and delicately cooked baby carrots, brings plot to plate.

Raspberry soufflé to milk chocolate earl grey mousse with chocolate brownie and banana ice cream offer a bold and inspiring choice for this unique training hotel, offering catering and hospitality students hands on experience and a seal of excellent customer service.

Wined, dined and impressed we retire to our interconnecting Suites, whose calming Edwardian inspired powder blue walls and spacious Victorian inspired black and white bathroom radiates extravagance and luxury travel. High ceilings with white woodwork and ceilings enhance the light- filled space and display a subtle twist of old and new. Original period fireplace and modish furnishings such as trendy pendant lamps and neutrally cool and comfortable sofa and chairs are enough to make us want to move in!

Breakfast at the Yarrow is a fine affair with hot and cold choice of continental versus full English, not forgetting the vegetarian option and plentiful fruit in the restaurant. We take ours in the conservatory like ‘Solarium’ that runs along the building, absorbing Thanet rays that once improved the health of the poorly whilst overlooking verdant grounds.

Ready for some coastal adventure we make waves for 7 sunny bays around Broadstairs. Intact with Thanet’s new Coastal Explorers Pack we hit the prestigious Blue Flag beaches for some fun and friendly family rock pooling. Equipped with fishing net, compass, binoculars and maps we uncover seaweed and chalky white cliffs that lead us to sea caves, wildlife and candy coloured beach huts at Stone Bay. Ascending to the North Foreland Lighthouse we cloud spot en route to surfers dream Joss Bay and savour stunning cliff top views along the famously infinite Viking Coastal Trail.

Clean beaches, rocky shores and saltwater air return us to Viking Bay where we make a pit stop of Charles Dickens legendary holiday home Bleak House, which sits mysterious and majestically like a fortress above the harbour. Inside his former ‘airy nest’ rests a handsome four floor Grade II Listed elegant home and mansion, which built in 1801 booms with history. Room to room is a step back in time with tales of the local fort captain during the Napoleanic War to the creation of Dickens works Bleak House and David Copperfield.

A tour of the historical accommodation opens our eyes to this present day wedding venue and luxury Bed and Breakfast, whose rooms named after characters Fagin and Little Doritt are a sophisticated tribute to the novelist whose study still contains his original desk overlooking the North Sea. It is the Copperfield Bridal Suite that grabs the Careertraveller limelight with sumptuous period furniture, luxury bathroom double bath and romantic balcony overlooking Viking Bay that marks ‘the residence he most desired’.

A final peek in the basement Smuggling Museum, revealed in the 1970s, is a treasure trove of shipwreck relics washed into Viking Bay and highlights why Broadstairs is just one big holiday! Just 85 minutes from St. Pancras International in London with Southeastern’s high speed service, one trip is never enough!

Further information:

Yarrow Hotel
Lillyputt Minigolf
Dickens House Museum
Bleak House
The Charles Dickens
Visit Thanet – official tourist board
Coastal Explorer Pack

Details of the Broadstairs Dickens Festival, which celebrates it’s 80th anniversary this month can be found on the following link Broadstairs Dickens Festival.


Chelsea Physic Garden, London England, May 2017

by Emma Bumpus on May 16, 2017

Careertraveller uncovers fertile pleasure-giving treasure on the edge of the River Thames where scent and science take us on a journey to London’s oldest botanical garden.

Entry to this 4 acre walled garden with wrought iron Swan Walk gate and pendulous leafy green vine is a romantic opening to what feels rather clandestine and intimate in the capital’s borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Greeted by fifty shades of mesmeric green oxygenating space awaits a playground of trees, borders and plants, which set in a variegated oasis of colour delivers an elixir of botany that smacks of scientific research and worldwide learning.

Established in 1673 as a centre for learning and study of medicinal plants by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, we time travel back to a period of European Renaissance inspired plant curiosity and botanical exploration across the continents.

Entrenched in global travel and maritime history we uncover the transportation and exchange of plants behind botanical medicine on a free-guided tour conducted by knowledgeable volunteers. A poignant meeting point at the garden statue of benefactor Sir Hans Sloane sows the seeds for a reflective insight to the life of young apothecaries who once studied plant-based medicine.

The Garden of Medicinal Plants takes us on a flight from India to Oceania beds with evidence of cardamom to tea tree traditional herbal medicine, which leads to The Pharmaceutical Garden, a collection of roughly 60 plants used for a variety of modern day ailments. From Oncology to Dermatology we uncover a display of clever medicine boxes revealing modern day medicine in its form, most befitting of a contemporary physic garden, built for peace as well as visitor information and services.

Gardens and herbs galore, our trail of fragrant Mediterranean Rosemary and Lavender to Ginko biloba of China takes an extraordinary U turn in a neighbouring corner of exotic looking architectural plants labelled “poisonous, do not touch”. Strikingly exotic blue, purple flowers of the Himalayan Monkshood cunningly conceal their poison or aconitine toxin and underline the diversity and study of plant chemistry that comes with the origins of a botanical garden.

An educational meander past the traditional Order Beds comes a division of Dicotyledon and Monocotyledon plant families, which define botany with their linear arrangement and artist’s palette of colour bursting with orderly organic growth and bustling wildlife.

Hues of violet blue and sunny yellow and orange assist urban pollinators exceed their potential amongst a spray of flowers, including Phacelia Tanacetifolia, known as Fiddleneck to luminous Eschcholzia Californica or Golden Poppy. It is of no surprise to discover the latter is the official state flower of California and used as a herbal remedy for tooth pain and anxiety.

Getting lost amongst the birds and bees defines this Physic working garden in progress and draws us towards a multitude of gardens within a garden fit for purpose. Artistic yet functional, we uncover a collection of plants used for everyday life such as sugar beet in The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants. Amongst providing high-energy food for Man we discover the vegetable’s use in farming, which raising soil PH levels and feed for livestock, connects us with plants.

From Asia and Australasia to South America we enter the plant-hunting world of Joseph Banks and Robert Fortune in The World Woodland Garden and embark on an evergreen voyage of shade tolerant plants. Beneath the sheltering forest-like palms and sidewalk giant saucer-like hostas we consider the effects of deforestation amidst the lush vegetation and tropical plantation timber and admire the botanists universal species.

The ancient Ginkgo Biloba tree is a Careertraveller favourite with it’s tumbling Rapunzel like shoots that twist and twirl to the ground between dainty fan shaped leaves used for western herbal medicine. Native to China we admire this endangered species known as ‘living fossil’ and step into the world of Chinese traditional medicine, which over the centuries has led to extensive homeopathic research in the fields of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Our plant hunting tour ends at the Tangerine Dream Café where a garden fresh salad and glass of fine chardonnay deliver spring on a plate. Alfresco dining overlooking enchanting grounds are the ultimate garden party and an excuse to sign up for a seasonal course in botany or beekeeping, the list is endless!

A final mooch in the nearby Glasshouses ignite the Careertraveller wanderlust in The Tropical Corridor of medicinal plants from the faraway steamy and sultry tropics and subtropics. Home to the climbing Vanilla Planifolia orchid and latest first chocolate pod from the cacao tree, Chelsea Physic Garden is a breath-taking cauldron of science and travel, which as an independent charity salutes Sir Hans Sloane, volunteers and Friends of the Garden who donate their time and funds to maintain London’s secret garden.

Further information:

Chelsea Physic Garden
Walks, Talks & Workshops


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew London March 2017

by Emma Bumpus on April 4, 2017

Spring explodes on the banks of the River Thames with botanical wanderlust as Careertraveller takes a 30-minute journey from Central London to Kew’s famous UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Greeted by a jungle of green urban space and kaleidoscopic colour we enter a biosphere of pure natural beauty and intelligence derived from a love and curiosity for the arts and science. Up above rests a verdant skyline of oxygenating trees whilst below awaits a curvaceous carpet of Palm House Parterre buttery yellow daffodil beds that escort us to paradise.

Overwhelmed by the initial size and array of plants, glades and gardens we hop on the Kew Explorer land train for a delicious show of outstanding attractions and seasonal highlights. A jolly 45-minute ephemeral commentary brings Kew’s history alive with stories of royalty and conservation dating back to 1759 when Princess Augusta founded the gardens.

A tour around 326 acres of diverse landscape reveals secluded treasure in the form of 38 listed buildings including Kew Palace, temples and glasshouses. From 18th century Orangery, whose classical building once housed ornamental citrus plants to Chinese folly Pagoda, a fashionable gift for the princess we discover 18th century architecture and architect Sir William Chambers.

An Arboretum of almost 14, 000 trees introduces Redwood Grove, an introduction to giant cone-bearing trees where Kew’s tallest tree, a coastal redwood, stands majestically 39.3 metres high. Continuing past oaks and conifers to pine and ancient maidenhair tree Gingko biloba, we uncover the work of Kew’s scientists who study the traditional uses of seeds for medicinal purposes. Amidst bursts of red and pink Rhododendron Dell and Azalea Garden we inhale the romance of ornamental magnolias and Japanese cherry blossom ‘Prunus Shirotea’ trees, whose horizontal branches twinkle with snow white fragrance.

A hop off at The Hive is an opportunity to experience the secret lives of bees by stepping into a 17 metre high installation created by artist Wolfgang Buttress. On the basis that honeybees communicate primarily through vibration, this 170,000-aluminium piece hive-like structure is a fantastically winning experience of multisensory low humming sound, light and vibration. Inviting the visitor to engage by biting a wooden stick connected to a conductor provides a sense of vibrational messages through the bones in the head, which surrounded by wildflower meadow plants, introduces the Pollination Trail.

Hive activities take us on an educated detour to Kew’s own beehives and order beds which situated near the the Jodrell Laboratory underlines the scientific research and projects behind the scenes. A declining bee population is reflected in the Garden’s Pollinator Strategy and explains the Bumblebee Backpacks, whose tiny radio devices help Kew’s scientists track the pollinators preferred flowers. Inspired by the beekeeping and wild flower nectar producing beds, it becomes obvious why The School of Horticulture at Kew is the centre of excellence and worldwide botanical education.

Bee and wild flower identification take us to tropical orchids via the Princess of Wales Conservatory, whose hot and cool climatic zones explain how conservation preserves Kew’s reputation as world leader in study of the species. Opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1987 we get lost in this glasshouse of 10 climatic zones covering rainforests, humid mountains and fruits of the desert and embrace orchid mania. Sultry, fragrant, and exotic wild flowers are an explosion of colour through a steamy voyage of mangroves and water lilies to glossy coffee and cacao plants! A mixture of dry tropic architectural cacti brings the spirit of Mexico alive with the succulent blue Agave tequilana, which aged in the plant for up to 12 years produces tequila!

A breeze past the endangered Chinese Paper Bark Maple with an ornamental stature and coppery orange bark justifies a jaunt to Xstrata Treetop Walkway. Climbing this 18 metre high platform defines the word arboretum, which in Latin translates ‘a place with trees, where we are blown away by nature. Sky-high London views are a lens for wildlife, tree species and seasonal landscape blooms that stretch West to the Sackler Crossing whose S-curve bridge provides lakeside eye candy.

A homebound stroll past the romantic King William’s Temple and iconic glass Palm House is another excuse to sample more of Kew’s listed buildings offering inspiration, open space and relaxation to all. Inside this restored Victorian house, built to house worldwide tropical palms and trees, awaits a rainforest of medicinal and bizarre species across the continents from The Americas to Africa and Australasia. Under the hot and steamy stainless steel rafters we uncover science in the form of fruit, wood from the Ebony Tree and a better understanding of the planet’s DNA and ecology.

Summary, Kew is a utopia of knowledge and perfection that deserves more than a day’s visit. As for the Waterlily House, Marianne North Gallery and Temperate House et al, to be continued!

Further information:

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew