Shepherds hut with doors swung open set within a private outside enclosure

Step behind the scenes of my recent photo shoot at The Lodge, Essex

Plus experience the truly blissful weekend escape we had staying at The Lodge.

Here I am actually sat in The Lodge as I write this weeks post.

Looking out of the black-framed crittal doors overlooking adjacent fields the sky has turned to a silver blue glow as the sun settles for another day.

I’ve just opened a bottle of Monastrell, described as a wine consisting of rich ripe black fruits, mocha, toast and hints of tobacco; I’m definitely picking up the black fruits, and even a hint of mocha and tobacco although not detecting any toast!

Nonetheless it’s extremely enjoyable and I need to make sure I leave enough to compliment the curry we’re ordering in later; the other half has just lit the log-burner which is crackling in the background and I literally feel like I’m on a writers retreat.

So this weeks post is a two-in-one, as I’m going to share a behind the scenes of the photo shoot myself and Tamsyn worked on back in October for the Winter edition of Preloved magazine, here at The Lodge in Essex, plus as we’re staying at The Lodge I thought it would be a great opportunity to also share a snippet of our relaxing weekend escape, being able to switch off and re-charge after an incredibly crazy few weeks.

Before I share more on our weekend away let me take you back to August.

Sophie, from Stone and Sage (and the editor of Preloved magazine) messaged to share the theme for the next edition of the magazine which was going to be “Homestead”.

Straight away my thoughts went to the BBC sitcom of the 1970’s “The Good Life” although with every shoot we work on, the most challenging element is to find the right location to bring our ideas to life.

I recall seeing an account on Instagram where a couple were essentially creating their own version of The Good Life, on the Essex coast.

Reaching out to Ffi to see if she’d be interested in being featured in the next edition of Preloved magazine in return for myself and Tamsyn to be able to arrange a photo shoot at The Lodge, she was delighted to be involved.

Situated in the most beautiful rural surroundings, myself and Tamsyn were not disappointed with our chosen location for this photo shoot.

A gorgeous shepherds’ hut nestled amidst the countryside with free roaming hens greeting us on our arrival, the most stunning pond surrounded with reeds ideal for a late afternoon dip and the added bonus of having access to the vegetable garden too.

Open lake with wooden decking perfect for a dip or to relax and enjoy the surroundings

Perfect spot for a later afternoon dip

This shoot was going to be slightly different to previous photo shoots as it was all about the beauty of our natural surroundings, and although the shepherds’ hut is stunning, for this article it was all about telling a story rather than creating beautifully styled shots.

Our focus was to create a collection of photographs which focussed on the joys of being self-sufficient, from growing your own produce, to collecting the eggs each morning to producing your own home-made soup with freshly baked bread.

Woman with a linen apron holding a straw basket full of home-grown vegetables

Collection of home-grown produce

We even made a couple of new friends during the shoot, who were very happy to follow us and the basket full of veggies!

Two black hens eating from a basket of home-grown veggies

Making friends on the shoot

When you have virtually no budget for a photo shoot you have to be a little creative, and when a “model” is needed, well, needs must…..

Woman holding a basket of freshly laid free range eggs

Anyone for eggs?

Woman sat on a wooden bench with a bowl of home-made soup

After a hard days modelling, nothing beats soup by the fire-pit

I’ve worked with Tamsyn Morgans on a few shoots and not only is she an incredible photographer I love her creativity and how she always knows how to bring my vision to life. Tamsyn also works using the tethered process.

Behind the scenes of a photo shoot, following the tethered process of checking images on the laptop

Checking images before making a final call

Having the opportunity to review each image on the laptop immediately after the photos have been taken is a great way to work, as it allows you to see what small adjustments are needed in capturing the perfect shot.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, you may also find my Behind the scenes of the summer edition an interesting read too!

The winter edition of Preloved magazine is out now, order your copy here.

From perusing Tamsyn’s beautiful photography I’m guessing you can see why I ended up booking our very own escape to The Lodge.

As some of you will know the last few weeks have been quite a whirlwind as I’ve made the decision to go back into full-time employment.

Having only had one weekend away this year, I have to say I’ve really missed not having a proper break this year, irregardless of whether we would be going away or not, just switching off and recharging is so important, and I don’t know about you, as soon as the clocks go back, that’s when my body tells me a break is needed.

So, as a treat, following our photo shoot and falling head over heels in love with The Lodge and it’s beautiful surroundings, I decided to book a weekend away for us all, dogs included!

Booking in for 2-nights I was delighted when Ffi messaged me if I’d like to extend our stay by a further night as during November-February they’re offering 3 nights for the price of 2, it was an absolute no-brainer and I can highly recommend if you’re looking for a mini break this winter The Lodge, is well worth a visit.

I mean who wouldn’t want to wake up to this each morning?

View from the bedroom of the shepherds hut overlooking farmland and a bright blue sky

Morning view

Located close to the Essex coastline, The Lodge is perfect, not only an opportunity to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s great to get out and blow away the cobwebs.

Now as owners of two lively Beagles, even if they are now in their senior years, Dizzee (12) and Rascal (10), the Essex coastline is fantastic for dogs, with large sections of the beach dedicated to dogs all year round, and not just between October-March which so many beaches in this country are.

We did two coastal walks during our stay; one from Holland-on-Sea to Clacton and the second from Frinton to Walton-on-the-Naze which I think had to be my favourite.

The beaches are just beautiful expanses of sand and the dogs absolutely loved it!

Essex coastline of sand and shingle beach enclosed by rocks in the background

Beach from Holland-on-Sea heading towards Clacton-on-Sea

Deserted sandy beach with a man and two beagles heading towards beach huts in the distance

Beach from Frinton to Walton

If having a digital detox is your thing, then The Lodge is perfect, with the option to lock your phone away if you desire and there’s the added bonus of no WiFi!

One of the highlights has to be the secluded outside space with its very own private wood burning bath, the perfect way to spend an evening and if you’re fortunate, as we were, a clear sky to do a spot of star gazing.

Metal outdoor bath

Lay back and relax in your own private wood-burning bath

For anyone that’s stayed in a shepherds hut, you’ll know that space can be slightly restricted however the design of The Lodge, built by Ollie, has been very carefully considered.

Two deep drawers under the bed provides ample storage and with a perfectly formed kitchen and bathroom everything you need for a short break has been carefully thought about.

Shepherds hut bedroom area

The bedroom

Shepherds hut living area including fully equipped kitchen and bathroom behind a sliding door

The living area

If the weekend couldn’t get any more prefect, we’ve just had the most amazing view from The Lodge of a firework display to celebrate the Diwali festival.

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect November weekend and we’ll definitely be booking again for a spring/summer break.

The Lodge, Essex shepherds hut by night

The Lodge by night

I know this weeks post is a little different to my normal Home Styling blogs; I hope you’ve still enjoyed reading it.

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