Monday, 16 July 2018

A Wonderful Holiday

We're home again after our fortnight in Cornwall. We got back on Friday night after leaving at 10am, there were so many hold-ups with accidents, roadworks and rush hour traffic that it took nearly nine hours to travel the 327 miles, we usually do it much quicker.

We had a wonderful holiday, we had some really lovely weather for a change. We spent lots of time on Black Rock beach at Widemouth Bay, so called because of the black rock which juts out of the sea, but we also visited Trebarwith Strand and Constantine Bay, other favourite beaches of ours where dogs are allowed to run off their leads.


Archie loves it on the beach. He's still not all that keen on waves but he loves to run and splash in the rock pools, and it was good for cooling him down on the hot days we encountered.


We had a couple of cloudy days but there's always something to do in Cornwall. We took ourselves off to visit some favourite places like Boscastle and Tintagel, though we misjudged it the day we visited Padstow as what we though was going to be a miserable day turned out to be scorching.


We didn't miss out on beach fun though, we spent the evening by the sea instead and enjoyed a lovely picnic, as we did on many evenings.


The same thing happened when we visited Port Isaac, it started off cloudy but the sun ended up putting in an appearance. You can see the house which is used in the TV drama Doc Martin to the left of the photo.


We only encountered one instance of rain in the whole fortnight and boy, did it rain, it was torrential, however, it came out nice mid-afternoon so we still managed some time on the beach that day too. I think our worst day, weather wise, was the 4th of July. Not only was it cloudy but it was really windy too, and though it was still warm, it definitely wasn't a beach day. We decided to take the two hour drive to visit Lands End, the most westerly point of England.


Of course, we had to take a photo of the famous signpost.


It was a relaxing holiday. I took my laptop and plenty of knitting but hardly picked up either one. Instead, as is often the case when I'm on holiday, I did lots of reading. It makes a change to be away from technology for a period of time, though there's always lots to catch-up on afterwards.

I think the holiday provided Eleanor with some down time after being stressed during her uni exams, a couple of which she hasn't done so well in and has to resit. She suffers terribly with anxiety and this, unfortunately, comes out in her exam results. It's a good job that she's been getting high grades in her coursework as this will balance out her overall grades somewhat. On top of this, Eleanor split-up with her boyfriend of four years just before the holiday. It was her decision but still upsetting, for us as well as her as he's such a lovely lad and he had become one of the family.

The weekend has been busy. Saturday was spent catching up with all the necessary chores which are waiting after being away from home for a fortnight and yesterday was Eleanor's 20th birthday. It's hard to believe that both my children are now in their twenties and I no longer have any teenagers. We went out for a nice meal and today, friends from university are coming for a night out with Eleanor and her friends from Leeds.

Things are rather busy round here at the moment but I shall be round to check out your news in due course, it may take me a little longer than usual though.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

And We're Off

Well, we will be on Friday. I've still got lots to do, including washing, ironing, packing, changing the beds, housekeeping for my parents and shopping for them to make sure they've got plenty of food in whilst we're away, and other last minute things so I'm signing off the blog now. We're setting off to Cornwall very early on Friday morning as it usually takes us about seven hours with convenience stops for Archie. The lodge does have wi-fi, though I love spending a couple of weeks away from technology so whether I'll even unpack the laptop remains to be seen.


See you in a fortnight.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Tasteless Toms

I've grown my own tomatoes for many years now, I think once you start growing your own, you realise that the taste of a shop bought tomato is poor in comparison. There's only me in our house who eats tomatoes so I usually give them a miss until harvest time comes around when I can pick my own, however, I decided not to grow anything at all this year for a couple of reasons, but it means that if I want some tomatoes on my salads, I'm having to buy them.


We had a greengrocer within walking distance who sold locally grown produce which wouldn't have been so bad, but the shop closed towards the end of last year which means I'm now having to buy from the supermarket.

Perhaps I should have grown a couple of tomato plants after all.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

All-In-One Baby Top

Knowing that one of Eleanor's friends is expecting a baby has given me the opportunity to do a little bit of baby knitting. I used to knit lots of baby garments when I was in my teens. Coming from a large extended family and being the youngest cousin, there always seemed to be someone who was pregnant that I could knit for, but I haven't done any baby knitting for quite some time now.


I already had a ball of Hayfield Bonus DK in my stash so I looked for a pattern that would suit this yarn and I came up with the All-In-One Baby Top by Marianna Mel, a free pattern on Ravelry. As well as it being such a pretty little jacket, it was the All-In-One bit that attracted me as I hate sewing up seams. Knowing that Lucinda has already had a scan and found out that she's expecting a girl, I'd have probably gone for a different colour had I got a choice, but lemon was all that I had in my stash and I really wanted to get it knit up as I knew that Eleanor was seeing her before she went to London last week and would be able to give it to her then.


It didn't take much yarn so I knit the matching hat too, the pattern calls for this to be knit flat but I found modifications on Ravelry to enable me to knit it in the round.


Lucinda was really pleased when Eleanor gave her the little gift so I may have to knit something else now for when the baby's born. I really enjoy knitting things for babies as they're so small, they don't take very long at all.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Wartime Weekend

This weekend was Wartime Weekend at Lotherton. One of the great things about our annual pass for Lotherton is that most of the theme days and events they host are included in the price. We pay just £28.80 for a joint membership as Mick has a Leeds Card, which in itself costs £10 but gives us discounts and offers in and around Leeds. Without the Leeds Card it would cost £36, which is still a good deal considering how many times we visit throughout the year. If we were paying on the gate it would cost us £5.50 each, or £4.20 each with a Leeds Card, every visit.

Anyway back to this weekend. We were told to bring our dancing shoes as there would be vintage singers and military reenactors to take us back to the 1940s. We were forecast thunder storms on Saturday so we decided we'd go on Sunday. As it happened, the thunder storm consisted of one heavy downpour and one clap of thunder late on in the day. Sunday was rather dull but at least it stayed dry. Unfortunately, there weren't any vintage singers on the Sunday, I wonder if they'd been there on Saturday, but there was someone playing prerecorded wartime songs and plenty of people were having a dance.


There were many people sat on the grass enjoying a picnic and although I never join in with a theme it's nice to see that others make an effort, they looked really good dressed in vintage clothes and with the hairstyles of the day.

After stopping for a while to listen to the tunes and watch the dancing, we crossed to a nearby field where the military reenactors had set up.


There were various displays which showcased the uniforms, equipment and weapons from around the world.






I wonder how many of the troops watched this.


It wasn't a huge event but enjoyable to take a look at before our usual wander around the grounds with Archie. As we passed through the orchard we saw that the grass has been allowed to grow and the area is full of buttercups.


I don't know why this little hedgehog was out, they're nocturnal animals and usually sleep during the day.


It was nice to see so many families enjoying the entertainment and it added a little something extra to our walk.

Friday, 15 June 2018

A Surprise Holiday

We weren't going to bother having a holiday this year, perhaps a weekend or two away, but neither of us were all that bothered to spend a week or two weeks away from home. Then, Mick received an email. We've stayed at the same place in Cornwall five times in the last seven years and we really love it there. The email was offering selected past guests a special offer price for June and part of July and it really is a very good deal. Mick didn't bother telling me about the email at first as we'd decided not to have a holiday but he mentioned it in passing quite a while later and I only had to hear that and my mind was changed. We started talking about having a week away on our own as we didn't think that Eleanor would want to come with us this year but that's now changed into a fortnight and Eleanor's decided that she'd like to come too. Well, who wouldn't? A fortnight in Cornwall free of charge!


We only booked it on Wednesday and we go in a fortnight, I can't wait. We stay on a very small site, just ten lodges and two cottages, and it's always so peaceful there, the grounds are beautifully kept and it's very picturesque. It has such good facilities too, four fishing lakes, an indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, spa hot tub, tennis court, games room and an outdoor play area. They also offer massages and spa and beauty treatments. It's dog friendly so Archie comes too and there's some beautiful walks on the doorstep. The site is on the north coast of Cornwall about five miles from Bude, such a lovely area with so many wonderful places to visit.

I'm sure we'll return to many of the same beauty spots we've frequented before but I'm sure we'll discover some more too. I can't wait to go now.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Yarndale Sock Line Reminder

This is just a little reminder for those of you who intend to donate hand made socks for the Yarndale Sock Line that it's now time. Christine from Winwick Mum put up her Yarndale Sock Line 2018 post at the beginning of the month and you can find all the details there, including the address to which the socks should be posted. Don't worry if you haven't yet made your socks, you've got until the 1st of September to get them there so there's plenty of time yet.

Of course, if you're like me, you'll have your socks all ready to post off.


Ha ha, I'm only joking, I don't think I've ever been ahead of myself like this before. I made my Yarndale Socks 2018 back in March, well ahead of the game this year, I'm never usually this organised.


One of the things I love is that you're able to find out exactly where your socks have gone. Christine compiles a list of which socks are donated to which organisation and makes this available online. Last year my socks went to a care home where the residents have dementia which made me very happy as I like to support these kind of organisations with my own lovely mum suffering from dementia too.

I'm hoping that the sock line includes more pairs of socks than ever before. It's such a lovely project to be involved in, I'm sure each pair of socks which is donated brings a little comfort to someone who needs it very much.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

More Than I Can Chew

I think I bit off more than I can chew when I started the Joyful World stitch along back at the beginning of 2016. I'd only completed one cross stitch project at the time so I knew it would be challenging but I decided that I'd take my time on it and go at my own pace. Well, it's been a long time since I picked it up and it's been languishing in it's basket for what seems like an eternity.


It's the fabric I'm using which has put me off. I'd only ever used aida fabric before and this is 28 count linen and I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't for me. What's more, it's such a huge piece of fabric that I spend most of the time manhandling it to get in a good enough position to stitch. I've since used 28 count evenweave fabric when I stitched You Are So Loved for Eleanor and I really like that, it's much softer compared to the harshness of the linen.

Pulling out my Spice of Life blanket, which I wrote about in my Rip It Up And Start Again post, was liberating, I no longer had that nagging feeling knowing it was there waiting for me to work on, and I've been getting those same feelings with this Joyful World project so I've taken the decision to call it a day. There's other cross stitch projects which have caught my eye but I haven't wanted to start something new whilst this has been waiting for my attention.


I'd completed three months and had just started the border for April, so I'd only done a quarter of it. I should say that the charts were from The Snowflower Diaries blog and they're still available there. Perhaps I should have tackled each month separately, it wouldn't have seemed such a big undertaking then.

Life's too short to spend time on projects you're not totally committed to. I'm looking forward to giving some other cross stitch projects a go now, but I won't take on anything quite so big.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The Knitting Circle

I downloaded The Knitting Circle by Ann hood onto my Kindle when it popped up on the Kindle Daily Deals for 99p. I didn't know anything about the story line but given its title and my love of knitting I decided to give it a go.


Mary's little daughter has died and she feels she has nothing left to live for. Her mum, who she has a turbulent relationship with, tells her to go and see Alice at a nearby knitting shop and this is where she joins The Knitting Circle. Alice teaches Mary to knit and she finds that the repetitive action with the needles helps with her anguish and she also meets a group of women each with their own story.

Unlikely friendships are made through The Knitting Circle and secrets are revealed, one much closer to home than she could have imagined.

Though sad, the book is well written, probably because the author has suffered the same grief as Mary herself. I would definitely recommend it, oh, and you don't have to be a knitter yourself to enjoy it, just make sure you have a box of tissues at the ready.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Knitting On The Needles

I've got a few new things on the needles but first of all, here's where I'm at with Eleanor's Boxy sweater. I started this at the beginning of the year but I've knit it on and off in between other projects. There were nearly 400 stitches on the needles and being knit in fingering, or 4 ply, weight, it's taken some time.


The body has now been cast off and I just need to pick up and knit the stitches on the neckband and pick up and knit the sleeves. I've been at this point for a while but I'm waiting until Eleanor comes home from university so that I can get her to try it on and see how long she wants the sleeves. She comes home a week on Tuesday but it's a quick turnaround and then she'll be out the door again. She's spending a few days in London with her boyfriend before they go to see Ed Sheeran at Wembley.

I'm knitting up some hats with yarn from my stash. I'm hoping to get quite a few completed over the summer months so that I can drop them in at a shelter for the homeless. The weather was terrible towards the end of winter and a call was put out for unwanted coats, I didn't have any to donate but I'm hoping that the hats I make will help this coming winter. I've knit three already and as you can see, a fourth is on the needles. I'm using a variety of patterns.


My knitted square blanket has been restarted. I hadn't got far with it, only four squares. You can read about it in A New Obsession post. I came across a different pattern for the squares, one in which you don't have to count the stitches in each decrease row, which makes things much easier. As I was right at the start of the blanket I decided that I'd start again from scratch. Just three squares so far.


Of course, I've got a pair of socks on the go. These are going to be my Dorothy In Oz socks, knit in Giddy Yarns Dorothy colourway. I'm using the Mercury Socks pattern by Kim Drotar which is free on Ravelry, it's a lacy pattern and I'm loving it so far.


There's another couple of projects waiting in the wings but I've resisted casting them on so far. I'd like to get Eleanor's sweater finished soon, which I'll be able to do once she'd tried it on, and then I'm free to have a big cast on session.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

New Sandals

I didn't realise it was four years ago that I bought my last pair of sandals. That's the great thing about a blog, you can look back and find out when you did a particular thing. I wrote about My Gorgeous New Sandals in June 2014 and that very pair of sandals have lasted right up until this year. They've done so well as I wear them every day during the summer months.

I'd been looking for a pair of Jesus sandals and though they weren't exactly what I wanted, the sole was much thicker than I'd have liked, they were pretty close. They've been a great buy though and they were comfortable and have worn well. As they are now looking beyond their best I decided that I needed a new pair this year so I headed back to Clarks to see if they had something similar. I was disappointed to find that the shop didn't have any similar styles but before I gave up, I checked the website and my luck was in, they had exactly what I was looking for originally four years ago, a pair of Jesus sandals with a flat sole.


They come in black, white and gold so I've gone for black again. I've worn them a few times and they're so comfortable so I ordered a second pair to put away ready for when the first pair wear out.


Do you do that? Do you buy more than one if you find something you particularly like, or do you buy the same thing in different colours so that you've got a choice? I have such a hard time finding comfortable footwear that it makes sense to buy a second pair when I find something which fits well.

I do wish the weather wasn't so changeable at the moment though, one day I'm in my lovely new sandals and the next day I'm back in my hand knitted socks, it just can't make up its mind.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Newmillerdam

We had a walk at Newmillerdam yesterday. It's a while since we've been but we were thinking of somewhere different to walk for a change and came up with this lovely park.


There's a central lake with a surfaced path around it, just under two miles in total. There's some gorgeous rhododendrons at the start of the walk.


As you walk you can see the lake to one side. Across the lake is the Boathouse which was built in the 1820's.


Woodland is to the other side.


Archie was a good boy, no jumping in the lake, but he couldn't resist a paddle to cool down.


It was a lovely day, rather warm but with a nice cooling breeze. The dappled shade that the woodland provides was very welcome.


We're half way around here, looking back to where we started out from.


There's always lots of wildlife on the lake. The park is designated as a local nature reserve and is managed for the benefit of wildlife and people. This family of greylag geese were out for a swim.


Everywhere is so lush at the moment. The rain we had recently, mixed with the warm weather, is making everything grow fast and trees and plants are so green.


I managed to get a couple of photos of Archie. Here you can see that his fur is growing back even though it was cut so short just four weeks ago. It'll need cutting again soon.


Here's Archie sitting down for a change, he doesn't often stand, or sit, still for two minutes when we're out and about so it makes taking photos of him very difficult.


Incidentally, I wrote A Sunday Morning Walk post about Newmillerdam back in 2010 just two months after we got Archie, just look what a little scrap he was then.

An abandoned nest. It's sad to see it lined with so much litter.


On closer inspection, there's an egg.


I think it may be a coot's egg as this little one was swimming around nearby with its parents and two siblings. Awww.


Archie had been for a run at the cricket pitch in the morning so he was worn out by the time we got home, it doesn't take much to tire him out these days.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Temple Newsam Rhododendrons

We've been making the most of these warmer days and once Mick gets in from work we've been taking ourselves and Archie off for a nice walk most evenings before we have our tea. Lotherton is a regular haunt but late afternoon on Wednesday we decided to venture to Temple Newsam instead to see the rhododendrons.


I wrote a post about Temple Newsam Rhododendron Walk back in 2012 but I thought you might like to see the flowers again.






It's a stunning sight to see them all in bloom.


There's so much colour about at the moment, even the trees zing at this time of year with their new growth.


The grass in front of the lake looks parched but everywhere else is so green with the odd rhododendron giving a splash of colour on the other side of the water.


There's sometimes donkeys in this field but none on this visit. There's a mass of clover and buttercups though.


It's raining today, I doubt the plants will be complaining as the ground has been so dry that we've been having to water. It's supposed to be nice over the weekend again but in true bank holiday style we're due rain on Monday. If you happen to be in the area I can definitely recommend a visit to Temple Newsam, I think the rhododendrons will be blooming for a few weeks yet but best not to leave it too long.