Sunday, 29 May 2011

Roundhay Park

We've had a lovely day today at Roundhay Park. Being over 700 acres, it is one of the largest parks in Europe. It was spitting with rain when we got there, but we took our chances and unfortunately for us, there was a downpour not long after. I'm glad we decided to see it out though as the sun came out, and although it was very breezy, it was a lovely sunny afternoon.

It will always be somewhere special for Mick and I as we held our wedding reception here in 1990. The Mansion House was built between 1811 and 1826 for Thomas and Elizabeth Nicholson. It was bought by the City of Leeds in 1871 and was leased out by the council as a hotel and restaurant. It's recently undergone a major refurbishment and is once again playing host to brides and grooms. We didn't arrive in anything quite as loud as this double decker bus which was parked outside the building today.

Why is it that whenever we come across trees, my two feel the need to revert back to primates?

Roundhay Park is a fantastic place for dog walking, there's so much open space away from busy roads, and Archie had a wonderful time running off his lead.

There's two lakes, the first is smaller and can be viewed from The Mansion.

The second, Waterloo Lake, is huge. It's a fantastic feature of the park.

Isn't this bandstand wonderful? Sadly, there was no band playing today but I can imagine days gone by with music drifting out to those spectators sat listening on the grass.

We came across rhododendrons literally buzzing with bees. I couldn't resist a photo opportunity.

One of the main reasons for visiting Roundhay Park today was to visit the recently installed gardens. Leeds City Council have been building gardens for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for quite a few years now and some of their past gardens are now on show at Roundhay Park.

2008 was 90 years on from the end of WWI and the Leeds City Council garden for Chelsea in this year was built to commemorate those who fell. The Largest Room In The House was based on the garden at Talbot House in Poperinghe near Ypres in Belgium. Recuperating soldiers were offered a peaceful respite away from the horrors at the front at Talbot House between 1915 and 1918.

The Hesco Garden 2009 highlighted problems caused by climate change. By using locally sourced Yorkshire stone and plants which thrive in wet conditions, it illustrated how we can manage these conditions. This is my personal favourite of the Leeds City Council RHS Chelsea gardens.

The Hesco Garden 2010 celebrated links between people visiting the parks of Leeds and their health and wellbeing. The focal point is a pair of seeping lock gates. This garden won a gold medal at Chelsea.

Another garden on show at Roundhay Park is the Monet Garden. Here, the central pathway running from Monet's garden gate to his house in Giverny is recreated.

The Alhambra Garden is a reproduction of the Patio Acequia.

I loved the planting in this garden, lots of herbs mingled amongst the flowers, and I couldn't resist taking lots of photos.

If you get a chance to go to Roundhay Park and visit these gardens I would definitely recommend it, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, 27 May 2011

The Next Project

When I think about crochet it's always blankets which come to mind. Crochet blankets always look so much cosier than knitted ones somehow and I've longed to make one. So, with one crochet project under my belt I've decided to have a go at a blanket.

The first consideration was which yarn to use. I pondered over the many luxurious lines available, but in the end I have decided to go with an acrylic yarn. The reason being that I'm very new to crochet, this project is really me practicing so I don't want to be spending too much money on yarn until I'm a little more proficient. If I succeed with this project then perhaps I won't mind spending more next time.

So the yarn I have gone for is Stylecraft Special DK inspired by Attic 24 blog. Lucy chose seventeen colours for her Granny Stripe Blanket, but my local yarn shop only had fourteen of those colours. I have to say that I'm very happy with my choice, it's cost a fraction of the price that wool or cotton would have, and it's lovely and soft.

At the moment I'm unsure as to which type of blanket I'll make. I've always fancied one made up of lots of small granny squares, made with lots of random colours, but when I was making my cushion I enjoyed making a larger granny square and now I'm wondering whether to make a large colourful blanket like that. I'll let you know what I decide.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

I Did It

After being inspired by so many wonderful blogs and the gorgeous creations revealed on them, I decided to teach myself to crochet. I bought myself a book, First Crochet by Lesley Stanfield, and with the help of a couple of tutorials on You Tube, How To Crochet Granny Square and How To Change Colour In A Granny Square, I've eventually taught myself to crochet a cushion cover.

I used Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton. I had bought four balls on Ebay, but found that only three of the colours I had purchased went well together so these were the colours I used on the front of the cushion. When it came to the back I was running out of yarn, so the majority of it was crocheted in the fourth colour.

I ran out of yarn a couple of rounds from the end on the back so I finished it off there, but after sewing it together you really can't tell. One thing which I have noticed is that the back looks tighter and tidier than the front, I think this shows how I have progressed as I have gone on.

This is what's left of the four colours, it's a wonder I got it finished without running out.

I've got another crochet project lined up but for now I'm going to get on with some knitting which has been neglected of late in favour of crochet.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Monkeying Around

We had a lovely evening on Thursday watching Eleanor, and the other youngsters in the amateur dramatic society of which she is a member, performing The Jungle Book. This production was staged in the local school.

This production was for the younger members of the company, Eleanor being twelve was one of the eldest taking part, but it was so professional, you wouldn't have known they were such young children on stage.

Eleanor was one of the monkeys and did lots of dancing as well as singing. She thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Rehearsals start this week for Les Miserables. Everyone in the company will take part in this production, which is going to be staged at The Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds in November.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Letter From School

Daniel took his Geology exam today. As if I'm not stressed enough, a letter came home from school adressed to Mick and I advising us that there had been some technical problems.

This year is the first year that the exam has been computerised. From the letter it appears that the exam turned in to chaos when there were technical issues, with some students unable to answer one of the questions, some students found that all their answers had disappeared completely and some students found they couldn't go back and check their answers once they had finished.

Daniel had answered all the questions but 'lost' half of them after the screen froze and ended up having to write half of them out.

Apparently, it was a nationwide problem caused by the provider's software. We have been assured that the circumstances will be fully considered in the marking and awarding of grades.

I don't think this is acceptable. Daniel is very laid back and I know this won't affect his confidence in other exams, but that's not to say that this is the case for all students. Apart from that, why has this happened? Surely the examining body had checked and double checked the software. It doesn't seem so.

Mick tried to contact the exam officer once we'd received the letter but he was unavailable. He left a number for a callback but we haven't heard anything yet. We're left to stew over the weekend.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


It's been a while since I picked up my crochet hook and practised, but this was my last attempt. I can see a little improvement.

It's got a little boring using only one colour so I've treated myself from Ebay to some Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton. I got these three colours, and another one which doesn't really go, for the bargain price of £2.00 per ball.

I hope it's easy to change colour, I haven't looked how to do it yet. I'll be sure to show you how it turns out.

Monday, 16 May 2011


At this moment in time, Daniel will be sat in the school hall taking the first of his GCSE exams, English.

He's got a busy week this week with another English exam on Wednesday, two biology exams on Thursday and a geology exam on Friday. He's got six exams next week and then he breaks up for half-term. After that he has more exams to sit, but only has to go in to school when an exam is scheduled.

Some kids get so stressed over exams, but they don't seem to bother Daniel at all, he's so laid back about everything. I wish I could say the same about his mum. I've been laid awake half the night worrying, I'm such a worrywart.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Happy Birthday, Archie

It's Archie's first birthday today. We haven't had him for a year, he was thirteen weeks old when he came to live with us, but it was on this date last year that he was born.

I didn't realise what a scrawny little thing he was when he was little. It's only when you look back on photos that you see how little he actually was. This photo was taken on 19th August 2010, exactly a week after we got him.

He's enjoyed playing with his presents today, soft squeaky toys.

Birthdays wouldn't be birthdays without chocolate for breakfast. Eleanor made sure he had his daily quota before she left for school. (This is doggy chocolate, please don't feed your dog human chocolate, a chemical called theobromine is included in human chocolate which can be deadly to dogs).

Aren't we daft with our dogs? Well, they are one of the family. Archie got a card from his grandma and grandpa.

Archie's had a lovely walk today, delicious meals and lots of playing. It's a dogs life, you know.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Blog Award

I love being given awards for my blog. It's always nice to know that other people enjoy what I write about, so I was thrilled to bits to receive the Liebster Blog Award from Gail at Yankee Teapot. Thank you so much, Gail.

It also gives me a chance to pass the award on to some other blogs, and also to introduce you to some new blogs if you're not already familiar with them. The rules are that the award must be passed on to blogs with less than 100 followers, so the blogs I'd like to nominate are:-

Fizz Pop Bang Blog

Eight by Six Gardening Blog

I hope you enjoy the blogs as much as I do, and thank you once again, Gail.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

RHS Harlow Carr

I'd like to thank everyone for their good wishes for my dad. He seems to be recovering well and I'm sure he'll be back playing bowls again in no time.

We had planned to go to RHS Harlow Carr on Sunday but my dad needed picking up from the hospital in the morning so we put our plans on hold until after we'd delivered him safely home.

The reason for the planned visit was because there was a plant sale on Sunday as well as a craft fair. It was afternoon before we arrived so we didn't spend very long looking at the gardens, though it appeared that many of the spring displays were on the way out, daffodils already having faded and tulips about to do so. There were still some containers which had lovely mixes of tulips planted in them which has given me lots of inspiration for planting this autumn.

We did visit the vegetable gardens which seem to have been planted up well, though they'll look better once the plants get established in a month or two. I was envious of all the lovely rhubarb forcing pots, they'd look great on my allotment but they're so expensive.

At first glance I thought this was more rhubarb, but a sign close by reavealed it to be Cynara cardunculus. I had to look it up when I got home to find out that they're in fact cardoons.

The plant sale was well attended and I came home with two new plants, a viola Roscastle Black and a dianthus Early Bird Stardust.

Eleanor enjoyed the craft fair and treated herself to a giraffe picture by Giles Bassett-Darby to add to her collection of giraffes. It will look lovely once it's framed.

I hope to return to RHS Harlow Carr in the near future to take in more of the gardens.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Broken Hearted

I've seen the above sign numerous times since Wednesday evening when my dad suffered a heart attack. He was playing bowls at the time and managed to finish his game before he came off the green and told his friends that he'd got chest pain. They rang for an ambulance which took him to hospital.

The first I knew about it was a phone call from my mum asking if we'd be able to pick him up. Nobody realised at that time that it was a heart attack, we all expected him to be coming straight home.

To cut a long story short, he's had angioplasty and some stents have been left in the arteries to widen them. He's come home this morning with eight different types of tablets which he has to take, I think he'll be rattling after a few days.

Pinderfields Hospital is in Wakefield and awkward to get to from where we live if you haven't got a car. My mum doesn't drive so we've been going to both afternoon and evening visiting since Wednesday so I haven't visited many blogs since then. I'm hoping to catch up with you all in the next couple of days.