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“Nicola’s expertise in marketing is adding real value to our schools and supporting our trust through a period of swift growth.”

“Nicola’s expertise in marketing is adding real value to our schools and supporting our trust through a period of swift growth.”

“Nicola’s expertise in marketing, and the thorough, research-based approach she has taken to create a marketing strategy for our schools, is adding real value to our schools and supporting our trust through a period of swift growth.

I’m extremely grateful to Nicola for her measured and strategic approach in working alongside our school leaders and for the quality of the work that she is producing for our schools and the trust.”

CEO, Ridgeway Education Trust, June 2024

Ten years of memories

Ten years of memories

ten years of memories

This year marks 10 years since Hanami Dream was founded. Each month in the build up to the 10th birthday of Hanami Dream in July 2024, I’m taking a look at how the business has changed and different aspects that have shaped the business to where it is today.

Last month, I looked at some of the achievements and accolades I’ve collected over the last ten years to celebrate successes, expertise and growing experience.

This month I’m looking back on one of my proudest moments over the last ten years.

Photography by Squib Photography

blog awards

My tutor at the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners gave me invaluable support and guidance, including entering competitions to get my name out there and a form of marketing.

Amongst other competitions, I decided to play to my blogging strengths and entered the UK Blog Awards, they were the biggest and UK’s longest running programme to recognise influencer talent.

I entered the UK Blog Awards for 3 years and was lucky enough to be a finalist each year.

Just being a finalist gave me a huge sense of achievement, it was a great recognition and a wonderful testament to the level of support shown by my readers.

For full disclosure, I didn’t pay to enter these awards. I nominated my own blog and then it was down to a public vote to get through to the finals. Out of 4,000 entries and nominations I was one of only 6 bloggers in my category. So I was pretty chuffed and honoured to even be considered alongside the calibre of my fellow finalists in the category.

Then a judge picked one winner and one highly commended blog from the 6 finalists in each category.

Photography by Squib Photography

highly commended

Back in 2016, I first took part in the UK Blog Awards and even attended the award ceremony that April. I was delighted that my blog received highly commended in the events category on my debut outing.

Photography by Squib Photography


The following year I entered the wedding category of the UK Blog Awards in 2017 and was chosen as a finalist again. My blog was shortlisted and reached the final stage of the process.

However I was despondent that I didn’t equal (or better) my previous success. I was against stiff competition and returned home from the final empty handed.

I fell out of love with blogging for a while after this knock but eventually dusted myself down and decided to refocus and come back fighting the next year.

It was whilst I was on holiday, that I took a step back and looked at where my strengths lie and what I am really good at. I stopped worrying and looking at what others were doing and concentrated on my own stuff and focused on what I do best – creating my own content.

So, I organised three wonderful styled wedding photo shoots in a year. The uniqueness of the blog at that time came from showcasing my own beautiful and inspirational, trend-led styled wedding shoots, collaborating with local venues and innovative wedding suppliers.

Photography by Squib Photography


In 2018, I made it to the final round yet again. And was absolutely delighted to win the Events and Wedding individual UK Blog Award. It was such a great achievement and I was honoured to be alongside some amazing blogs! I was so pleased to win the UK Blog Awards in a year when I was been doing what I enjoyed best – showcasing my own content and keeping it local.

I remember the moment I found out so vividly. I was sat down on my back step with the bifolds open, enjoying the warm evening air, hunched over my phone trying to follow the results from the UK Blog Awards 2018. Sadly I wasn’t able to physically attend the award ceremony and, whilst I’m pleased to have avoided the big smoke of our capital city in the midst of a minor heat wave, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t there for the announcement of the UK Blog Awards and to hear my company name be called out as a winner.

My wedding blog had come so far … from highly commended in 2016, to winning in 2018!

It was tricky to follow who was winning the awards on the night via social media and they seemed to be whizzing through the categories. Then out of the blue, someone sent me a congratulations tweet. I wasn’t quite sure what this meant. Had I got highly commended, had I actually won, or was it just a prank?

I spent ages trawling through twitter for confirmation. I felt that I couldn’t get too excited until I knew for sure. Then a couple of other bloggers from my category very kindly tagged me in their Instagram stories and included shots of the big screen showing my name as the winner. It was the confirmation that I needed – I was delighted (but in disbelief for ages!)

That hot, humid and thundery night gave me one of the best memories of Hanami Dream.

Photography by Squib Photography


The following year, I was absolutely flattered to take the next step and evolve my involvement and in 2019 to become the wedding judge for the UK Blog Awards 2019.

It was not only a great honour but an inspiration to read all the blogs especially those with fresh content, a unique angle and a new take on topics, those tackling novel subjects that are ahead of trends and give a modern stance on the world of weddings and modern alternatives to old traditions.

It felt right to hand the baton on to the next wedding blog.

Blogging is about making your own niche, being yourself, being unique and doing what you do best. Blogging for me is about being a content creator, a journalist in your own field, reporting on your area of expertise as you see it.

Photography by Squib Photography


It is always great to have another reason to shout about my business and to connect with other professionals and local businesses.

The added promotion not only gave my blog extra exposure, but it also showcased the stunning venues and highly talented wedding industry professionals from small, local and independent businesses, that my blog supported in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside of the Cotswolds.

Winning the UK Blog Awards remains one of my greatest memories over the last ten years one which still makes me feel incredibly proud.

Photography by Squib Photography

All photography in the post are by Farrow Photography from our Secret Garden photoshoot. Look out for more images from other shoots in next month’s post following the build up to the tenth birthday.

Ten years of achievements

Ten years of achievements

ten more years of experience and accolades

This year marks 10 years since Hanami Dream was founded. Each month in the build up to the 10th birthday of Hanami Dream in July 2024, I’m taking a look at how the business has changed and different aspects that have shaped the business to where it is today.

Last month, I looked at some of the blog posts I’ve written over the last ten years to share content, build an audience and demonstrate experience and expertise.

This month I’m looking back on some awards, training and achievements that I’ve added over the last ten years.

Photography by Farrow Photography

celebrating achievements

We often don’t get to look at what we’ve done but it’s always great to reflect and look back on achievements.

Business gurus, psychologists and life coaches all agree on the importance of marking and celebrating achievements whether they’re academic, professional or personal milestones. Take a look at an article I wrote on this topic before.

From early on in our lives, striving for achievement is instilled in us. Whether this was with sticker charts where small steps add up to a reward after lots of hard work. Or dancing or music exams that test learned knowledge and give certificates so you can move up to the next level. Or watching athletes compete to win gold medals at the Olympics.

There are lots of ways to commemorate achievements whether they’re personal milestones, momentous occasions, family events, team building or award ceremonies.

Photography by Farrow Photography

building on expertise

I’ve worked in marketing for over 20 years’ experience in a number of industries including publishing, motorcycle apparel, chartered accountants and businesses connected to the world of weddings.

During my career I’ve obtained my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing and worked in various marketing roles for 13 years before starting my own business, Hanami Dream. These have included planning and managing corporate events and hospitality, plus working for over 6 years for an international clothing brand where I planned and managed photo shoots in some fabulous locations around the world.

Along the way, I’ve also gained valuable experience in project management, website development, product development, communications, operations, analysis and reporting.

Photography by Farrow Photography

continuing training

Hanami Dream was founded in 2014, which combines my marketing skills and photo shoot experience along with my passion for language and knowledge of the local market.

During the start of my new business, I gained new qualifications with the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners and became a Certified Wedding and Event Planner.

The course opened up my eyes to the whole wedding industry beyond just planning. My tutor gave me invaluable support and guidance, as well as some brilliant advice about playing to my strengths, entering competitions, having a niche and fitting the business around my life. I was delighted to be picked as Student of the Month in 2016.

Photography by Farrow Photography

competition champion

I started taking part in (and winning) mood board competitions and colour trend challenges. I enjoyed collating inspiration on Pinterest and showcasing my visions for photoshoots and wedding planning.

I’ve been chosen as #QueenOf Wedding Inspiration by The Royal Connection, received the #SmartSocial award from Marketme, won #BrightPig’s Business of the Week and I am also a WOW Winner, picked by Jacqueline Gold CBE and CEO of Ann Summers. As well as winning Theo Paphitis’s #SBS (Small Business Sunday).

Hanami Dream was shortlisted in the West Oxfordshire Business Awards 2020.

Photography by Farrow Photography

building prowess

I launched #UKWedLunch in 2016, as well as being a guest host on #BrideHour and I was the wedding judge at the UK Blog Awards 2019 (more about the Blog Awards in the next instalment of my ten year celebrations).

I was also pleased to see entries for a #WonderfulWeddingWares Instagram challenge that I ran.

Photography by Farrow Photography

published work

I have had my styled shoots published in print and featured in Your Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wedding magazine and Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine. Plus, an article I wrote on wedding styling trends was published in Your Berks, Buck & Oxon Wedding magazine.

I was proud to have one of my wedding marketing advice articles published on Bride magazine to help wedding suppliers to start and maintain a good company blog.

And Hanami Dream featured in the local press covering the role of judge in the UK Blog Awards 2019.

Photography by Farrow Photography

So if you’re celebrating your achievements at the moment (whether this is a big or small occasion or just giving yourself a little treat) make sure you take the time to give yourself some recognition and a little pat on your back.

All photography in the post are by Farrow Photography from our Wind in the Willows photoshoot. Look out for more images from other shoots in next month’s post following the build up to the tenth birthday.

Ten years of blogging

Ten years of blogging

ten years of blogging

This year marks 10 years since Hanami Dream was founded. Each month in the build up to the 10th birthday of Hanami Dream in July 2024, I’m taking a look at how the business has changed and different aspects that have shaped the business to where it is today.

In February, I looked at some of the photoshoots that I had the pleasure of organising over the last ten years as Hanami Dream. I organised lots in my previous corporate career for an international motorcycle apparel company that took me all round the world. But there was a huge sense of achievement to pull together something that was completely all of my own doing.

first website

Once the first shoot was under our belts, we quickly pulled together a second (images of which feature in this post) and I wanted a place to showcase the content that we had created.

I was encouraged to play to my strengths and build my own website. A home for all our wonderful imagery. Thanks to my experience in my previous corporate world, I had the capabilities to design and write my own website. Alongside the wonderful support, guidance and encouragement of my former boss and mentor at Wycoria, in his new capacity as my webmaster.

Photography by Farrow Photography

Hanami Dream is born

But building a website is only half of the story. This was bigger than just a blog. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. A fresh start. Away from the corporate world. A time to be my own boss and set my own objectives. Something that would fit around my expanding family life and commitments.

I had always dreamt of being a wedding and events planner (and had dabbled in the world of corporate events in my career previously) and helping people celebrate the milestones in their life – the moments that really matter. (Look out for the wedding planning part of my career in next month’s post about how Hanami Dream has evolved over the years!)

business plan

So like I recommend to all my clients, I wrote a business plan – where I was, where I wanted to be and how I planned to get there. I wrote my core values down and started to ponder company names. I think I spent longer conjuring up my branding and company name than I did for any of my children’s names!

Hanami (pronounced ha-na-mee) Dream, my company name came about quite simply because of my love of cherry blossom. I love seeing the blossom buds appearing on branches, the trees laden with beautiful flowers and then the petals floating in the breeze like confetti at a wedding.

Photography by Farrow Photography


At the beginning, the blog posts were a way to share content, build an audience and demonstrate experience and expertise.

During the first year the blog focused on weddings, special occasions, and children’s parties. In the following year, I looked at different types of momentous life events, such as proposals, baby showers, graduations, anniversaries and birthdays, as well as weddings. By 2016, the blog looked at different elements of an event, specifically weddings.

Until my main focus was to provide inspiration to brides and grooms in the Cotswolds. In particular it concentrated on giving wedding tips, tools, trends, traditions, and local venue reviews.


The blog has featured lots of posts on different elements of wedding (and event) planning such as:

Photography by Farrow Photography


I also shared some wedding planning tools to help couples planning their weddings:

holy trinity of wedding planning

I was proud of my Holy Trinity of wedding planning series which honed in on the most important questions to ask at the very beginning of planning any event – who, where and how much. And they are all so intertwined in every decision you make:

Photography by Farrow Photography

compilation lists

As my knowledge of the local wedding market grew, I started to include lists of local suppliers that I recommended in different categories. These types of posts still remain some of my most viewed posts:

guest posts

Along with organising styled shoots, my blog became more well known locally and it covered some wonderful guest posts from local wedding professionals (with top tips and an insight in to different elements of wedding planning from their area of the wedding industry):

Photography by Farrow Photography

local venue reviews

I loved visiting local wedding venues are reviewing their offering – I felt just like the Wedding Inspector:

And it was always great to sing about how brilliant our local area is:

Photography by Farrow Photography


The posts I’ve enjoyed writing the most are the ones when I’ve delved in to trends and predict areas which may be popular in the future – looking at how fashion, films, television programmes, interior design, celebrity weddings and even current affairs influence these trends.

In particular, I love following the colour trends from Pantone and these were the posts that I kept up with even when I took a break from the business during the pandemic. They are relevant in any industry, not just the world of weddings and that’s why they are still important to me now. Here are the current colour trends for Spring 2024, Autumn 2024 and the Colour of the Year from Pantone:

Photography by Farrow Photography

real wedding inspiration

The blog has been at its best when sharing submitted real wedding inspiration:

Photography by Farrow Photography


Looking at the past can always offer inspiration and we can adapt and evolve traditions to suit our individual needs. The origins of some wedding traditions are bonkers and always fascinating to read about:

real wedding inspiration weddings through the decades

My very favourite type of blog post to write is when I get to research the differences and similarities from the past and compare these with the present. I loved my weddings through the decades series that I wrote during lockdown and was grateful for those willing to contribute their own real life stories to the blog:

Photography by Farrow Photography

covid content

Also during lockdown, the blog showed alternative ways to still have a wedding:

marketing advice

As my focus changed and I branched out to offer my marketing support for wedding suppliers, I also included articles of marketing advice:

Photography by Farrow Photography


During my blogging journey, I developed commercially and joined a couple of affiliate programmes to open up further avenues for the blog. The introduction of the advertising space on promoted products suitable for the blog.

counting content creations

The blog has been the overarching thread throughout the life of the business – some of the time generating an income, sometimes bringing together contacts which led to business relationships, and always charting my news and following my journey.

The content on the blog helped to raise my profile and gave me the confidence to enter competitions and awards, plus submit and get articles in publications.

So here we are – 371 blog posts later.

Photography by Farrow Photography

All photography in the post are by Farrow Photography from our Wizard of Oz photoshoot. Look out for more images from other shoots in next month’s post following the build up to the tenth birthday.

Back to school – the ABCs of the leap day

Back to school – the ABCs of the leap day

happy leap day

There’s an extra day to play with this year as 2024 is a leap year. So we will have the pleasure of the 29th February for the first time again in four years. (Not sure I was that pleased to have an extra day in the last leap year of 2020 though!)


The Earth doesn’t takes exactly 365 days to go round the sun. There is actually another five hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds each year. So in order to keep our modern manmade calendar aligned with the solar journey (and to ensure we don’t lose nearly 6 hours a year), we need to add another day in February occasionally.


Whilst we say that there is a leap year every four years this isn’t exactly correct. The general rule of thumb is that if the year is divisible by 4 then it is a leap year. However, a year that is divisible by 100 is NOT a leap year, UNLESS the year is also divisible by 400! So 1900 wasn’t a leap year and neither will be 2100, but 2000 was a leap year. Our next leap years will be 2028 and 2032.


Julius Caesar first introduced the leap year to the calendar in 46 BC. Some famous events during leap years in history include: the first modern Olympic Games took place (in 1896), the Titanic sank (in 1912) and The D-Day landings happened (in 1944).

business studies

February 29th is not really a legal day and many companies don’t recognize Leap Day as a ‘valid day’. Some question whether a document signed on a leap day is legally binding. And lots of people may work for free on this extra day in February.

personal development

When it comes to proposing, traditionally a leap year meant that the tables were turned and women could have the chance to propose. See my previous post on wedding proposals during leap years. However some deem getting married (or even engaged) in a leap year unlucky.


Many cultures believe that leap years are unlucky. Reportedly, the world goes a bit erratic with crazy weather patterns, additional suffering and a pretty gloomy outlook. Hence why some countries believe it is unlucky to make major decisions in a leap year like buying a house or car, or getting married. It is also traditionally seen as unlucky to get married on a leap day (29 February), though some people comment that you’d only have to remember your wedding anniversary every 4 years. 


There are some profound sayings about leap years. For example, a Scottish proverb says that a leap year is bad for livestock: ‘Leap year was ne’er a good sheep year.’ And Italians say ‘anno bisesto, anno funesto’ (meaning that the leap year is doomed) as they believe that women are erratic in a leap year.


The Summer Olympic Games are held every four years on leap years.

media studies

The probability of being born on a leap day are 1 in 1,461 days. So there are only around 5 million people that are born on 29th February. Here are some famous leapers/leaplings:

  • Rapper – Ja Rule
  • Spanish Footballer – Ferrán Torres
  • Composer – Rossini
  • Actor – Joss Ackland
  • Prime Minister of Spain – Pedro Sánchez
  • And even Superman has this rare birthday too

It’s quite an exceptional day. What will you do with the extra day this year?

Top Autumn 2024 colours from Pantone®

Top Autumn 2024 colours from Pantone®

Crazy weather

I’m beginning to think that the warmer weather of last week was ‘false spring’ and led me in to a false sense of warmer months being imminent. Because this week, we are back to the erratic weather including rain, floods, high winds and even more frosty nights and misty mornings.

It seems the shoots in the ground thought the same as me and I hope they can make it unscathed through to spring soon.

Autumn 2024 colours

Whilst I am longing for Spring, it’s at this time of the year that I think about seasons even further away with the recent fashion weeks in New York, London and Milan this month, and Paris this week.

From these fashion weeks, Pantone® have predicted 10 colours that they think will be prevalent in Autumn/Winter 2024/25 which all make me feel warm and cosy like I’m wrapped in a luxurious velvet blanket.


There’s a big vibe of autumnal produce and harvest time in this mix of colours including names of plum, pumpkin, orange, tomato, egg plant (aubergine), and almond milk.


Lots of the colours evoke the natural work around us with fern, rainforest, iguana, pine cone, sheepkin and swan.

Crisp mornings

There’s a sense of chilly cold winter skys from Starlight Blue right through to Evening Blue.


Even these colours are hinting at the crazy changing weather we’re experiencing with extremes such as Storm Front, Sunburn, Misted Yellow and Moonstruck.

Fall 2024 colours 

The top ten colours for Fall 2024 from New York Fashion Week are:
  • Tomato Cream 16-1348
  • Scarlet Smile 19-1558
  • Golden Palm 17-0839 TCX
  • Aventurine 19-5421
  • Red Orange 17-1464
  • Fern 16-0430
  • Italian Plum 19-2514
  • Moonstruck 14-4500
  • Winter Sky 14-4307
  • Lucent White 11-0700

Fall 2024 extra colours from LFW

Most of the colours have the same vibe at London Fashion Week, with some slightly different hues. The noticeable difference was a yellowy brown at NYFW (of Buckthorn Brown) which were replaced with a bright blue (or Wave Ride) at LFW.

Here are the colours for Fall 2024 from LFW:

  • Pureed Pumpkin 17-1449
  • Misted Yellow 14-0837
  • Starlight Blue 12-4609
  • Cherry Tomato 17-1563
  • Sunburn 16-1429
  • Wave Ride 17-4129
  • Storm Front 17-1503
  • Eggplant 19-2311
  • Almond Milk 12-4301
  • Rain Forest 19-5232

Neutral basics

Pantone® have also updated the Fall 2024 Classic Colour Palette. These are a group of neutrals that are core basics in the form of beige, brown, grey, navy, and an earthy brown. The normal whites made it in to the main set of colours this season.

The bonus classic neutral colours for Fall 2024 from NYFW are:

  • White Swan 12-000
  • Raw Umber 17-1422
  • Dark Gull Gray 18-0403
  • Baritone Blue 19-3812
  • Buckhorn Brown 18-0935

    The Fall 2024 Classic Colour Palette at London Fashion Week swapped some of the main colours to the neutral palette including the addition of a moss green. They are:

    • Sheepskin 14-1122
    • Iguana 18-0525
    • Pinecone 19-1121
    • Dark Shadows 19-3906
    • Evening Blue 19-3815

        Colour themes

        Colour plays an important part in our lives and it’ll be interesting to see how these colours filter through to influence everything around us.

        Pantone® is the world-renowned authority on colour and the Pantone® Color of the Year is always really influential in any popular colour themes in fashion, interior design and weddings.

        Celebrating 10 years of Hanami Dream

        Celebrating 10 years of Hanami Dream

        where it all started

        This year marks 10 years since Hanami Dream was founded and it has evolved quite a bit since those first few tentative steps in to working for myself.

        For starters, the logo looked a bit busier and more floral back then, plus the focus of Hanami Dream started off looking at all of life’s momentous milestones such as weddings, special occasions, children’s parties and baby showers.

        But the blog has been the overarching thread throughout the life of the business – some of the time generating an income, sometimes bringing together contacts which led to business relationships, and always charting my news and following my journey.

        Hanami Dream - Weddings & Special Events - UK wedding blog, Oxfordshire

        tenth anniversary

        Each month in the build up to the 10th birthday of Hanami Dream in July 2024, I’ll take a look at how the business has changed and how different aspects have led to where the business is today.

        This month, I’m looking at some of the photo shoots I’ve organised as Hanami Dream and you’ll see more photos from each of these over the next few months.

        After all, it was a photo shoot that started things for Hanami Dream in early 2014. The shoots combined my experience of organising lifestyle shoots and my passion for weddings. But the first shoot wasn’t actually a wedding shoot – they came a bit later down the line.

        I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. A photographer friend of mine asked if I would organise a styled photo shoot with her to provide some photos for her portfolio. She knew that I’d organised lots of shoots in my previous corporate world. One slight complication was that I was 6 months pregnant at the time with my second child – but I always like a tight deadline!

        Photography by Farrow Photography

        alice in wonderland

        For the first shoot, we had a very clear vision of our theme and sourced and made most of the props ourselves and used our own children as the models.

        Hanami Dream and Farrow Photography joined forces to bring to life some inspirational themes for special occasions. Sandra (from Farrow Photography) wanted to show something different for baby and toddler photo shoots and I showcased how you can use a theme to enhance your milestone event, whatever the age of the guest.

        Here are the photos for our cute Alice in Wonderland tea party for children to mark Alice Day (4th July) in 2014:

        Photograph by Farrow Photography

        wizard of oz

        By the second shoot, we started to use other suppliers and show case their products too. We collaborated again in August 2014 when we went over the rainbow to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the release of the Wizard of Oz film.

        We followed the yellow brick road with another themed children’s party, showcasing some amazing products from local suppliers – after all there’s no place like home.

        Photography by Farrow Photography

        wind in the willows

        Following the success of our previous themed photo shoots, we collaborated once again to produce an amazing bridal styled shoot based around another well-known story, The Wind in the Willows. By this third shoot in 2016, we expanded things completely using bride and groom models and having a full lifestyle wedding shoot on location at Minster Mill, a nearby wedding venue.

        Photography by Farrow Photography

        secret garden

        For my fourth shoot, I was delighted to work with a new photography partner on a styled bridal shoot in 2017. It was wonderful to work alongside Steve from Squib Photography. We collaborated to produce an amazing bridal styled shoot based around The Secret Garden. It was also an honour to be able to showcase some amazing products from some fantastic local suppliers and also showcase local Witney venue, Cogges Manor Farm.

        Photography by Farrow Photography


        To coincide with a wedding open day that I coordinated at Cogges Manor Farm in 2017, the Barn was dressed as if it were a real wedding. This was not a traditional wedding fair – it was a relaxed and informal open day showcasing a truly personal wedding option – not a cookie cutter approach at all. Images from the day were fantastically captured by Cat Stephens Photography.

        Photography by Farrow Photography

        journey to the centre of the earth

        I was over the moon to be approached by a beautiful local venue in 2017 to style their wedding venue in order to show it off in a new light and provide all involved with wonderful lifestyle imagery.

        It was great to work alongside Squib Photography again. This time we were at Oxleaze Barn and we collaborated to produce an amazing bridal styled shoot inspired by Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It was also a privilege to be able to showcase some amazing products from some fantastic local suppliers.

        Photography by Farrow Photography


        The other brilliant thing about the photo shoots was they provided great networking opportunities and getting to work together with other suppliers. For me, they also helped lead to the next steps in the journey of Hanami Dream.

        Firstly they gave me things to share on my blog and helped to raise my profile and gave me the confidence to enter competitions and awards, plus submit and get articles in publications.

        Secondly, they were a great way for suppliers to see me working first hand. This developed opportunities to work more closely with some suppliers and provide them with marketing support in their own businesses.

        published articles

        Hanami Dream styled shoots have been published in a number of places in print and online including: Bride Magazine, Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine, Your Berks, Buck and Oxon Wedding magazine, and SoGlos Weddings.

        My shoots brought together wonderful local suppliers. Together we showcased the amazing talent that our part of the UK has to offer the wedding industry and all benefitted from the lifestyle imagery and promotion.

        Photography by Farrow Photography

        All photography in the post are by Farrow Photography. Look out for more images from other shoots in next month’s post following the build up to the tenth birthday.

        Thank you, January!

        Thank you, January!

        wish it had been longer

        I feel a bit cheated out of the whole of this month. With the children going back to school later than usual I lost one and a half weeks at the beginning of the month before I could even hit the ground running. I heard lots of people saying January was soooo long but for me it wasn’t long enough!

        celebrating small wins


        In this scenario, it might be tempting to feel like I’m chasing my tail from the outset (and let’s be honest, the weeks often feel like they’re racing past!) But I’ve started this year with taking time at the end of each day to write down the 3 best things of my day.

        Rather than looking at what is left on my to do list, I’m celebrating the small wins from each day. I’m looking at the donut instead of the hole. Looking at what I have done and not what I haven’t.

        my January achievements

        So thank you January, because this month I’ve been able to achieve (in no particular order):

        • Writing blog posts more regularly again and getting my writing mojo back.
        • Starting a new term at Sing and Sign and meeting some lovely excited new families that I can teach and pass on signing skills to.
        • Designing a shiny new logo for a client.
        • Working on a comms strategy for a new client.
        • Having nice compliments about my work and enthusiasm from CEO.
        • Updating my CV and getting excited about another possible new job to add to the portfolio and recognising how much I’ve achieved in my career.
        • Being invited to an interview for potential new client.
        • Enjoying a laser quest party for my eldest – for the first time in 4 years it’s been within a month of their actual birthday.
        • A wonderful weekend away to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday.
        • Throwing my own pot on a brilliant pottery experience.
        • Time to unwind and complete a 1000 piece jigsaw.
        • Enjoying some great TV such as The Traitors and Pottery Throw Down, and sofa cuddles with whole family watching Junior Bake Off and Gladiators.
        • Seeing all my children doing an amazing job at talent show.
        • Enjoying a fire on a cold day.
        • Having warm relaxing baths.
        • Enjoying reading my book (have read 1 and a half this month – The Wild Other by Clover Stroud and half way through The Wake Up Call by Beth O’Leary).
        • Submitting tax returns with over a week to go before deadline

        1924 vs 2024

        1924 vs 2024

        trends through the decades

        I love looking back through the decades at trends and events (even the recent past) which can provide such inspiration and insight.

        Previously, I looked at real weddings over the years in my ‘weddings through the decades’ series on my wedding blog which looked at Britain at that time, significant inventions, highlights of the year, wedding trends and wedding statistics:

        It’s great to look for patterns and take lessons and learn from each era:

        So in that vein, ten years on since my first blog post, here’s a look at a comparison between the roaring 20s and our current 2020s.

        history repeating

        History has a habit of repeating itself. Trends often recur (yes, flares are back again with a throwback to the 90s and before then the 70s). Some events are cyclical, some habitual, some traditional. How often they occur can vary from daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or this period can differ each time.

        There seems to be a few comparisons between 1924 and 2024, such as:

        • 1924 was a leap year (which this year is too)
        • The Summer Olympics were held in Paris in 1924 and it will host them again this summer. Incidentally, the first Winter Olympics were also held in France in 1924 (in Chamonix French alps).
        • There was a general election in 1924 in the autumn which we can only guess may be when we have one in 2024 too.

        Britain in 1924

        Britain was still recovering after the First World War (which ended in 1918) plus the Spanish flu pandemic (which ended in 1920) which both resulted in many deaths.

        It was a decade of two halves. At the beginning, the peace following war brought prosperity and for some the war had proved quite lucrative. So it was a time of decadence (until the mid-1920s when interest rates and unemployment rose, particularly in the north of England where coal and steel industry suffered).

        • Families started to get smaller with 3 or 4 children the norm. Divorce was now accepted as a marital status. Primary schooling was now free for all children so they stayed until 14 years old.
        • Women were more independent after the suffragette movement gave women over 30 the vote in 1918 (this dropped to 21 years old in 1928) and many had been employed during the war. This confidence resulted in flapper fashion trends with short hair and shorter dresses.
        • George V (grandson of Queen Victoria) was nearly half way through his 26 year reign. He was the first monarch of the house of Windsor.
        • Ramsay MacDonald was the first Labour Prime Minister for nine months of the year until the general election. Coincidentally, he was one of the three founders of the Labour Party along with someone called Keir (Hardie).
        • The first commercial flights took place in this decade and in 1924 British Airways (then called Imperial Airways) began taking tourists abroad.
        • Other great 1920s inventions included fridges, roller coasters and crosswords. And when we first saw Branston Pickle and Heinz Beans.
        • Cinemas were being built around the country with top films of the year being Sherlock Jr, The Last Laugh, and Greed.
        • The first shipping forecast was broadcast on radio and the first tv pictures were broadcast too.
        • Sea shanties were a popular music choice and jazz music was just around the corner in 1926.
        • Walking, cycling and motorsport were popular pastimes.
        • The British Empire Exhibition was a colonial exhibition held at Wembley Park.

        Britain in 2024

        Britian is still recovering from the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis and the aftermath of major world conflicts such as the Ukraine war.

        • Families are smaller still and come in all shapes and sizes with on average 1-2 children. Education is free until age 18.
        • Fashion trends this year include short shorts, metallics, roses and bows.
        • King Charles the third is King of England having just been crowned last year (on my birthday) and the fifth monarch in the house of Windsor.
        • Conservatives are currently in government but Labour may come back in to power led by a man called Keir.
        • There are around 1300 flights a day that fly in and out of Heathrow airport in London, UK. 
        • Technologically, artificial intelligence is the hot topic; 3D printing is advancing; extended/augmented/virtual reality continues to progress; sustainable technology is growing in importance; electric cars are becoming more popular; and you can get desk bikes to charge your phone.
        • Films to look out for this year include a few remakes and sequels of some old classics, as well as: Mean Girls, Madame Web, Ghostbusters, Godzilla, The Fall Guy, Planet of the Apes, Inside Out 2, Despicable Me 4, Alien, Beetlejuice 2, Transformers One, Joker, Gladiator 2, The karate kid, Lion King (live action), and Sonic 3.
        • There are over 480 tv channels in the UK (some are free to watch and others are subscription channels).
        • Music is most commonly listened to via streaming services rather than people owning physical copies of records (or CDs or even cassettes) anymore.
        • Gardening, cooking, reading and video gaming are popular hobbies along with travel, handicrafts and keep fit.
        • Other notable events to look out for in 2024 include the rugby six nations, the Euros 2024 and the US Presidential Election in November.

        What memorable events are we going to look back on in 2024?

        These are a few of my predictions for pivotal occurrences in 2024. What do you think are going to be popular trends this year? How will we remember this year?

        Happy 2024!

        Happy 2024!

        another leap year

        I’m almost a little scared to write a post imagining what the year ahead will bring. 2024 is a leap year and the last one of those that we had didn’t work out that well.

        At the beginning of 2020, I wrote a post looking forward to the year ahead and I was quite pessimistic saying that: ‘Superstition suggests that 2020 may be a bit erratic. Many cultures believe that leap years are unlucky. Reportedly, the world goes a bit erratic with crazy weather patterns, additional suffering and a pretty gloomy outlook. Hence why some countries believe it is unlucky to make major decisions in a leap year like buying a house or car, or getting married.’

        Little did I know how unlucky that year would turn out to be and it started a run of lockdowns and a year that would be unlike any we’d seen before.

        lucky number 24

        So here’s hoping that this leap year will not be anywhere as erratic as the last one! And with it being 2024, some would say that it will be a lucky year as the number 24 is considered lucky in some cultures and traditions.

        In numerology, the number 24 is associated with harmony, balance, family, and diplomacy. Number 24 symbolizes the harmony between the earth and the sky and is believed to bring good fortune. Many Chinese people choose this number for important events and celebrations.

        what’s in a number?

        It got me thinking how prolific the number 24 features in our everyday life:

        • hours in a day
        • bits a computer needs for colour images
        • frames per second of a motion film
        • American tv series starring Kiefer Sutherland as a federal agent
        • carats in pure gold
        • atomic number for chromium (Cr in the periodic table) – a shiny silver metal
        • degrees in the earth’s axle tilt (which is what gives us different seasons and changing daylight hours during the year)
        • letters in the Greek alphabet
        • books in Homer’s Iliad and books in the Odyssey too
        • elders in the Book of Revelation in the Bible
        • sheets of paper that make a quire
        • major and minor keys in Western music
        • number of points on a backgammon board
        • blocks of 15 days that the year is split into in Japanese and Chinese culture (looks like we are in the Lesser Cold microseason at the moment but moving in to Greater Cold soon)
        • date in December of Christmas Eve (and doors on an advent calendar)
        • French department of Dordogne (where we spent a lovely summer holiday last year)
        • number of my first house (think I’ve lived in 7 or 8 more places since)
        • blackbirds baked in a pie (in Sing a Song of Sixpence)
        • elements that make up the human body
        • set of human chromosomes passed down from each parent
        • vertebrae in the human spine

        Here’s to a happy 2024!