A TRIP TO MAYFIELD LAVENDER FARM (2ND OF 2 PARTS)

Here’s the first part.

Every summer Jared and I organise different activities for the kids at church as part of our youth ministry outreach program. We always encourage them to spend time with their church friends rather than with their school friends simply because they usually get themselves in trouble when they are with their school friends (yes, we do our best to keep them out of trouble). Whether or not the kids travel during the summer holidays, we always have some activities lined up for them and those that remain in London have the option of joining whatever church activity we’ve planned.

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The lavender field trip wasn’t part of our young people’s summer activity. It never was. It’s rather on my personal bucket list this year; I’ve been wanting to do it since the ‘Burlington Ladies’ lavender picnic didn’t materialise last year. (Take note Aimee, Dynah, Kristine, Marj and Precy!) I wanted to do this excursion on a weekday when it’s not too crowded. So I’ve invited Joy to join me for three reasons — first, she and I both have free time during the week to do an out of town trip together; second, we both share some common interests like baking, crafting, etc., and we enjoy talking about those things other than spiritual matters; and third, it will be our first time to do things together on our own outside of the church. But alas, it never happened. For good reasons. Every time we set a date to go last month it gets either too cloudy and/or rainy, or something else comes up. In hindsight, we realised that the Lord arranged it that way for specific reasons.

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When I mentioned to Jared at the beginning of summer that I thought about inviting the teenage girls to join us for the lavender field trip, he thought it’s not something they’d be interested in doing, and that, it would be the last thing these teenagers would ever wanna do. I told him he was wrong but I didn’t mention anything to the girls until three weeks ago.

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The topic came up when we took Angeli and Anisa out to dinner (we had pizza btw). I was wearing my new maxi skirt and the topic of ‘skirt-sewing’ and ‘lavender trip’ just naturally came up. But before any of our teens and/or anyone from church reading this blog raise their arms up in protest or get jealous that we took the two girls out to dinner without the other kids, let me just say that that week we only had four of our teenagers in town while others were traveling. And we had planned a special activity for those who were in London but for some reasons, two of them couldn’t join us. So with only two girls able to do something with us that week, Jared and I decided to just take them out to dinner after the Wednesday night bible study rather than do something else the following day.

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Over dinner I mentioned to Anisa and Angeli that I was going to a lavender field with Joy wearing the skirt I just made. The girls were thrilled with the prospect of visiting a lavender field for the first time (which greatly surprised Jared. I proved him wrong ha!), they were giggling talking about walking in the field and taking loads of photos in maxi skirt. Anisa even mentioned that she will tell her Mum she needs a new maxi skirt. I told the girls I could teach them how to make the exact same skirt I had on — they got more excited about it so right then and there we planned a sewing workshop. A couple of days later, I took the girls out to a fabric and haberdashery shop to buy the materials. It only costs each of them a total of £9.50 — the fabric was on sale from £5 per metre down to £2 but because they bought 3 metres they got an extra 50 pence discount hence, they only paid £5.50; zipper – £2.30; thread – £1.50, and 20 pence for the hook and eye.

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As soon as we returned to church, we started the workshop. I’ve given the girls detailed instructions on how to take a proper body measurement to determine their waistline; to take the desired length of the skirt; fabric allowance for sewing; width and length of waistband, and so on and so forth — it was clear-cut. Easy enough to follow and they did a great job measuring and cutting the fabrics on their own.

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Sewing is a little bit tricky for beginners but they very quickly learned how to use the sewing machine. Angeli brought her grandma’s sewing machine; Heather brought her dad’s sewing machine; but regrettably, Anisa’s didn’t work, she has the cutest and ‘girliest’ (just made up the word, it’s not in Webster dictionary yet) sewing machine I’ve ever seen. With only 3 sewing machine and five girls, two of them had to wait and work on something like redo the plaits, or cut the fabrics for the belt while others were sewing. I had to quickly move from one girl to the next, keeping an eye on what everyone was doing to make sure they’re on the right track. It was a lot of work and I was moving around like a headless chicken.  At the end of the second day, I was dead tired and felt like the puppies on the pics below haha! (photos from the internet)

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Except for Heather who, instead of a maxi did an easier midi-skirt version, it took the other girls three sessions to work on their skirts. Sewing the invisible zipper was a bit complicated so I had to do it for them except for Heather who had the courage to do it on her own, it was a trial and error but she did it right after two or three attempts. All of them had to remove the stitches or redo whatever mistakes they made, and at times, they showed their frustrations like rolling their eyes or something — that’s expected from teenagers, right?   They seemed excited and happy doing it, but Heather and Angeli were the ones who showed so much enthusiasm and excitement. And for their first ‘real sewing’ project, I must say that the girls did a great job. I am so proud of them. See photos below of all five girls — Anisa, Angeli, Heather, Jasmine and Jemimah — with their skirts on.

And yes, we finally got to do the lavender field trip last week! Heather was away and missed it. (Sorry Heather!) We couldn’t put it off for another week simply because the lavender season is almost over. In fact, mid-July is the best time to visit when the lavender crop is at its finest. As you can see in the photos, the purple hue isn’t as bright as it should have been a month ago.

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The girls look fabulous in their outfits.

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They had fun goofing around the field and posing for photos like there’s no tomorrow!

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Some people passing by actually looked at the girls from head to toe probably wondering why they were in their Sunday’s best.

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Trystan took this beautiful photo of the girls. Well done, Trystan! 

Loved seeing them very happy and having loads of fun. But they’re teenagers so at times they’d roll their eyes when they’re told, ‘Come on girls, give me a big smile!’ 

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Oh, and this ‘sleepy-dreamy’ look? Blame it on the photographer and the magnificent smelling lavender.  The gorgeous smell was very relaxing and made us feel sleepy haha! (I love lavender. I could live in a ‘bahay kubo – ‘small hut’ in the middle of a lavender field.)

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If anyone (am guessing may be some of our church mates who skipped reading the story and just  wanted to see the photos) is wondering why Joy and Oliver ended up joining our young people’s outing (as they’re not part of our teens ministry), here’s the short answer — please scroll up to read the full story — the teenagers just tagged along with us. Joy and I originally planned for this excursion on our own. We talked about going very early as soon as the field opens, taking selfies and/or photos of each other and sitting in the cafe to catch up over tea and scones. But alas, we didn’t even get to sit down and have tea! Lord willing, next year we’ll get to do that ha!? 

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Trystan was our official photographer and he did a wonderful job! Thanks to Oliver/Joy for T’s solo picture below. So cute. He had fun taking pictures of everyone.

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Photos below (courtesy of Joy & Oliver) show the kids and adults alike in action. Even Elijah ended up posing like a model with his head tilted and lips slightly open (with thousands of bees buzzing around us, I was afraid that a bee would actually end up in his mouth as he posed for photographs). 

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There were loads of honeybees around the field and being stung by a bee is not part of the lavender tour. 

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Trystan took this picture of Oliver, Joy and the girls.

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He also captured Elijah and Jeremiah — either gazing at the horizon or watching people, and also, probably arguing on who’s gonna carry the bags.  (We made them carry our bags to free up our hands for the photo shoot. See Elijah carrying my bayong? Thank you man!) Part of the fun of being in the lavender field was actually watching people posing, selfie-taking, or sometimes just staring at the flowers swamped with bees (lavender fields are a magnet for bees).

We didn’t get to tour around the 25 acre field but we got to walk around a portion of the field where the lavender are still in bloom and waiting for harvest. We stayed for about 4 hours and it was long enough for us to leisurely meander around, enjoy the scenery, and take loads of photos.

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We first ended up at the lavender shop, about a mile and a half from the field, but it actually was a blessing in disguise because we got to see Mayfield’s quaint shop.

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I love its rustic charm, and all the beautiful smelling lavender products.

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Mayfield Farm is in a remote but charming part of the Surrey countryside, not in Kent as I originally thought. It’s the only lavender field in England that’s quite close to Britain’s capital city, only 15 miles from central London.

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It has a small shop and a cafe at the entrance of the field where anyone can buy fresh and gorgeous smelling freshly harvested lavender, soaps, aromatherapy, cosmetics, and pretty much everything lavender infused products; the guests can also try their lavender tea, lavender scones and other lavender flavoured sweets. They have a car parking which is free of charge, if you’re able to find somewhere to park. It gets quite busy and the field was crowded when we arrived. In fact, we could hardly get any photos without a photo bomber. But at 5 pm people started leaving and we were able to get some good photos without anyone walking, standing or taking selfie behind us.

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Jared and Trystan both don’t mind taking photos of everyone but themselves. In saying that however, they happily posed for a nice photo with me before we left. (Photo courtesy of Jas).

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See how the lavender is no longer in bright purple hue? Next time we will make sure to visit in mid-July, not in August. Thanks for the pic Trystan!

Jared took loads of photographs and the one below is my number one favourite — the gorgeous blue skies, rows of green and purple hues, and my eyes aren’t shut — they usually are in most photos  — and to top it off, I am holding a lovely bouquet of lavender like a bridesmaid haha!

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Thank you Joy and Oliver for the lavender bouquet! It was one of the best props anyone can have for a photo shoot in the field. Carrying my ‘bayong’ would have been so ‘baduy’ (tacky) haha!

Mayfield isn’t like any of those lavender fields in Provence, France (the lavender capital of the world) but for Londoners who love this gorgeous-smelling plant, it is a great place to visit. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who likes lavender or wants an ‘Instagram-worthy’ photographs. I wish they do allow picnics in the field but sadly, they don’t. Food and drink can only be enjoyed in the sitting area provided in the coffee shop.

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There is no time limit in place for the guests, they can stay for as long as they want, between 10 AM to 6 PM.

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The wafting gorgeous aroma of lavender was overwhelming. I love lavender and just couldn’t get enough of it. It was a blessing to be there; I was reminded while traipsing around the field that only a Wise God can create those magnificent smelling plants. The Lord is the only One who has the power and the ability to provide the increase — growing plants, blooming flowers, bees collecting pollen and nectar to make honey — practically everything around was a beautiful reminder of God’s power in creation. Our teens may not have the time to even pause for a minute and think about God and His glorious creation, but I am so glad they have been a big part of this venture — maxi skirt sewing and lavender farm traipsing — we created a lot of memories together that, hopefully, will linger on long after Jared and I are no longer around. I can only hope that someday their first lavender field trip will become one of those funny stories that they can tell their grandkids.

A TALE OF SEWING A MAXI SKIRT AND A TRIP TO MAYFIELD LAVENDER FARM (1ST OF 2 PARTS)

A few weeks ago I shared a little story how I got into sewing and the reasons for learning a new skill. After I finished my first handmade shift dress, I ventured out into a new project — a pleated maxi ball skirt and a cropped top. I found this tutorial for a skirt that doesn’t require a pattern and the instructions are pretty straightforward and easy to follow. For the cropped top, I couldn’t find any tutorial and just decided to use the pattern I made with Tita Mely

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I had fun making the skirt and it made me feel like I could easily create even the more complicated skirt.

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Sewing the top was a different story altogether. It was a little bit complicated to make, at least for the first time. The fitting wasn’t right when I tried it on and it took me 2-3 hours a day for about 5 days to finally get it right. The arm hole was the most challenging part to sew and I had to work on it at least five times to make it perfect, partly because it has a lining and I wanted a perfect fit. It was purely experimental — trial and error and yes, it was a huge success if I may say so myself.  Definitely learned a lot and will apply the little skills I learned the next time I sew a sleeveless blouse.

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Top photos show some of the mistakes I made — invisible zipper sticking out, twisted fabrics, etc. It was a bit frustrating having to redo the arm hole a few times and I thought about getting Tita Mely to continue the work but decided not to. I started the project and was determined to finish it. And I am so glad I did because in the end, I am happy with the result. The skirt is made of cotton and the top is of poly cotton; both with a cotton lining so it is not see through.  Photos below show the evidence of my hard work. It’s a rather simple maxi skirt and top but putting them on made me feel like a million dollars haha!

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Unpretentiously, I was happy to model my own creation.  This maxi skirt is my new favourite; it’s a classic, always in fashion skirt. It fits my size perfectly and the abundance of fabric makes a beautiful flow as I walk, or rather, frolic around the lavender field. 

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Love this pic that Jared took of myself. 

The next post will be about the ‘maxi skirt project’ with our teenage girls at church and our trip to the lavender field.

Note: Here’s the link to the 2nd Part.