Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Kirkstall Abbey

I wanted to spend some time at the allotment on Sunday, so in the morning we decided to head somewhere close to home so that we wasn't out all day. It's years since I've been to Kirkstall Abbey, which is only at the other side of Leeds to where we live, but it seemed to fit the bill.

Kirkstall Abbey was founded in 1152 by some Cistercian monks who remained there until Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in 1534. The roofs were stripped of lead, though most of the buildings were left standing and used for agricultural purposes. It's now one of the most complete examples of a Cistercian abbey in Britain.

The River Aire runs along side the abbey, and we took a walk along the banks.

It's a haven for wildlife and I saw my first Orange Tip butterfly, though I was too slow to photograph it. It seems to be a good year for them as I've heard of many sightings recently. There were many Speckled Wood butterflies, the one here has a damaged wing, poor thing.

It's lovely to see bluebells out, and we came across some white bluebells on our walk.

Looking back to the abbey from the banks of the River Aire, you can imagine what a magnificent building this would have been.

We're lucky to have another long four day weekend this week, I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter

We have our own little Easter Bunny here. This is Monty, Daniel's rabbit. This photo was taken in May 2009 when he was just over a year old, and featured on my The Good Life blog. He's got a lot bigger since.

Easter isn't Easter without some chocolate crispy nests adorned with mini eggs and little fluffy chicks so I rustled a few up yesterday, I bet they don't last the day.

Have a lovely Easter whatever you're up to.

Friday, 22 April 2011


If we won the lottery, Mick would buy a property in Barbados. I wouldn't have to travel that far afield to find Heaven on Earth, my purchase would be somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales. I remember trips to Appletreewick from when I was a child, and I'm sure the Dales will feature somewhere in my children's memories too, we've been taking them since before they could walk or talk.

Today, we travelled to Burnsall, it's a place we've visited many times. There's a field at the side of the River Wharf where you can park your car and have a picnic. Doesn't it look idylic?

If I zoom out a little you can see that there's a lot of other people who had the same idea.

It was Archie's first time to the Dales and he was eager to get in the river.

Mick and Archie weighed it up.

Archie thought it was very refreshing.

It was a hectic day, chilling out by a river, eating a picnic, whiling away the time, both Archie and Eleanor were zonked out on the way home.

Where is your 'Heaven on Earth'?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

How Hard Can It Be?

I remember my grandma trying to teach me to crochet when I was a little girl. How I wish I'd taken more notice now, how many things do we regret when we get older?

I seem to be having a lot of trouble learning to crochet. I've bought a book which shows step by step instructions on how to do particular stitches and I've watched tutorials online too, but I still can't quite grasp it. Knitting is so much easier, to me anyway.

My first attempt was something from the book I've got. I don't suppose it's too bad as a first attempt, but look how the yarn crisscrosses, I think I'm winding the yarn the wrong way round the hook, I have to try very hard to remember which way it goes.

My second and third attempts, this time from a tutorial online. Still not great.

This is one I did this morning. I don't know if I'm doing my last slip stitch in the right place, it looks a bit odd.

I'll persevere, I really want to be able to crochet.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

What Have I Been Missing?

I remember trying Jaffa Cakes when I was a little girl and hating them, but then, I hated most things which had an orange flavour, apart from oranges surprisingly.

On a recent shopping trip, Eleanor asked if we could put a packet in the trolley as she'd had them at a friend's house and liked them. I thought I'd try them again myself and now wish I hadn't, I LOVE them. All those wasted years!

In fact, I love them so much that I'm even buying Jaffa Cakes Cake Bars now too.

I dread to think what they're doing to my waistline.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Baked and Delicious

I saw this magazine advertised on TV a few weeks ago. It's obviously been very popular as no matter where I looked, I couldn't find it anywhere. I have to admit that one of the reasons for wanting it was the brightly coloured silicone muffin cases which came free with the issue. I've never used silicone bakeware before and fancy trying it out.

I thought I'd missed the boat as a few weeks passed by without me finding the first issue, then last week I popped in to Tesco for my weekly shop and there on the first magazine stand I came to were dozens of copies.

There's some lovely recipes, including these Mediterranean tartlets, I'll definitely have a go at these.

These Bitter chocolate puddings look delicious.

I'm pleased I managed to find issue 1 of the magazine, at 99p it's a bargain, but I don't think I would pay the regular price of £4.99 for future issues.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Letter From America

I get very excited when I receive letters through the post. They're few and far between now as email seems to have taken over the handwritten letter. Imagine my delight when a small package arrived for me from America. I knew that it was on it's way as I had won a giveaway on Claire's blog, No Knitted Knickers, but I was excited all the same.
Inside the envelope was a card and a wrapped parcel.

Not only had Claire sent the thread cutter pendant which I had won in her giveaway, but also a gorgeous little birdie purse to keep the thread cutter in.

Thank you very much, Claire, I'm thrilled with my prize.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Fabby Day

Mick's been working away for a couple of days this week. He travelled back from London last night and decided that he'd worked enough hours this week and would take today off. He couldn't have chosen a better day, it's been glorious.

After a leisurely start to the day and a late breakfast we headed off to Lotherton Hall which I wrote about in an earlier post. We did the Boundary Trail walk again, which isn't far but Eleanor decided she needed a break half way round.

 It's been a really warm day and Archie was soon panting.

We didn't go in the bird garden when we went to Lotherton Hall last time, but this time we decided we'd take a look. Mick stayed outside with Archie as dogs aren't allowed in. What a surprise I had. It's been quite a few years since I've taken a look round the bird garden and what a difference. I don't remember half as many birds last time I was there, but it's definitely worth a look now. To think that the admission is free too. I was aware that Mick was waiting for us so I hot footed it round, but I shall certainly return to wander around at my leisure as it's certainly worth it.

I do love Flamingoes. They're known for standing on one leg. Some people believe that the reason for this is that they're able to allow one side of their body to sleep whilst the other half is still awake, but this has never been proven.

The Andean Condor is the largest bird of prey in the world. It has a wingspan of over three metres and a weight of over twenty five pounds. They're a species of vulture and come from the Andean mountains of South America.

The White Naped Crane breeds in Mongolia, China and Russia. This one was so cute, following us around it's enclosure, though there were two barriers between us as apparently they can have a vicious bite.

Just look at this Superb Starling. Doesn't it have beautiful colours, so different to the starlings we see in our gardens. I think the name Superb Starling suits it perfectly.

The Channel-billed Toucan comes from South America, and although it looks like it's bill is very heavy, it's actually made from the same material as our fingernails and is hollow so it's not quite as heavy as it appears.

Bleeding-heart Doves get their name from the vivid red patch on their chest which, at first glance, appears that it's been wounded. They rarely fly and spend most of their time on the ground.

Yes, I'll definitely be taking another trip to the bird garden at Lotherton Hall, and if you're close by, or you fancy a trip out, I would certainly recommend it.

After wandering round the bird garden we headed back to the car and got out the fold up chairs and ground mats. Eleanor had brought her nail polishes with her and wanted to paint my nails. I'm not a huge fan of nail varnish, although I don't bite my nails I tend to keep them quite short as long nails only get in the way when you're doing housework. Mick and Daniel were throwing an American football around, so I compromised with Eleanor and allowed her to paint my toenails.
Hmmmm, which colour to choose.

Eleanor decides.

Eleanor concentrating whilst applying polish.

All mod cons were brought with us, even a nail dryer.

It's all too much for Archie.

We left Lotherton Hall at about 4pm and have spent the rest of the day in the garden doing lots of tidying up. Mick cut the grass and I've sorted out the border. I need a couple of new plants to replace ones which I've taken out which weren't working, so I feel a trip to the garden centre is imminent. Fingers crossed that the rest of the weekend is as glorious as it's been today.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Crochet, Here I Come

I remember my grandma trying to teach me to crochet when I was a child. Unfortunately, I didn't take much notice as knitting was always my thing.

Recently, I've seen so many wonderful projects on various blogs that I've been inspired to have another go at crochet. I've bought myself a hook, some cheap yarn to practice with and on a visit to Sainsbury's at the weekend I came across this crochet book, First Crochet by Lesley Stanfield. It shows how to get started, various stitches and there's simple projects to tackle as each new stitch is learnt. It was only £3.50, so hopefully, this book and various tutorials which I've come across on You Tube should help me.

I think I'll have to be patient a while longer though as the schools here broke up on Friday so I've got Daniel and Eleanor at home for the next fortnight. My knitting is already on a back burner so I'd better not start any crocheting yet. I should really wait for a quiet house anyway so I can concentrate, and this house is anything but quiet at the moment with those two around.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Happy Mother's Day

I've really enjoyed my Mother's Day today and have been thoroughly spoilt. As you can see, I've been given two gorgeous cards as well as lots of chocolate, Wuthering Heights dvd and some measuring cups. I always find it confusing converting cups to grams. If I'm honest I still can't get used to grams, I still work in ounces, but now I have no excuse to tackle all those recipes which are written in cups, I've been wanting some of these for ages.
Inside my card from Eleanor there was a little piece of paper with a poem made up by her and she promptly produced a little box for me to open. Inside was this gorgeous silver brooch.

After breakfast we decided to go to Ilkley, a town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. We had a lovely walk along the river and then a mooch around the shops.

I thought I would show you a little gift which I got from Eleanor for Mother's Day a few years ago which she made at Brownies. I thought it was so lovely at the time and have kept it ever since.

It's Mum's Survival Kit, it contains everything a mum needs to survive.

I hope you've all had a lovely Mother's Day too.