Monday, 31 March 2014

On Ilkley Moor Bah T'at

Yesterday was Mother's Day in the UK. I got some lovely cards and gifts myself, and after a visit to see my mum and drop off her cards and gifts in the morning, we decided to have a run out to Ilkley.

We headed high up on to the moors to the famous Cow and Calf rock formation.

As it was Mother's Day, Daniel decided to grace us with his presence. Boys will be boys and it wasn't long before he was climbing the rocks. It was nice for all four of us to be out together, it doesn't happen that often these days.

Although it was quite warm, a mist had rolled in and it was hard to see the spa town of Ilkley below.

The moors looked quite bleak blanketed in the mist.

There were some small patches of colour here and there. Pretty little narcissus and gorse.

Quite a few people had left their Mother's Day tributes here.

How sad that posters such as this one have to be displayed. This sheep had been mauled by a dog and left to die. It concerns me and never fails to amaze me how many irresponsible dog owners there are. Needless to say, Archie was kept on his lead, though we witnessed many dogs which weren't.

Over the road from the rocks is the Cow and Calf pub. We decided to call for something to eat on the off chance that they'd have a table free, but it was jam packed, people out for Mother's Day lunch I expect. We were really hungry by this time and didn't want to wait until we found another pub, so we stopped off at the chip shop in Ilkley and got fish and chips. A tasty treat.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Challenge Update - March 2014

My 2014 challenges are:-

1) Knit one hat each week for The Innocent Big Knit.

2) Do something nice for me.

3) Choose a non fiction book from the library.

Yet another pattern has been used for the hats this month. This one is Innocent Big Knit Garlic by Juliet Bernard and can be found on Ravelry. As you can see, they look like garlic bulbs. The pattern calls for size 3.75mm needles, but I didn't have any so I knit on a smaller size 3.25mm but they're still an ok size and will fit on the top of an Innocent Smoothie bottle.

A Day Out In York was my nice thing for March. I had such a lovely time ambling about on my own, it's something I must do much more of.

My non fiction book for March was A Companion & Guide To The Wars Of The Roses by Peter Bramley. It's a really interesting book for anyone wanting to know more about this period in history. It starts with the background to the wars, then goes on to name the main protagonists before dividing up the country by region with information on sites relating to the wars. You may remember the post I did last year, A History Tour In Four Parts. We'd visited various places with connections to The Wars of the Roses and these are mentioned in the book, along with many other places. There's other sites I'd now like to visit after reading this book.

Eleanor's school was closed yesterday due to the teacher's strike action so Mick took the day off work thinking we'd be able to have a day out. It was a lovely sunny morning but the afternoon turned to heavy rain, so it was just as well that Eleanor had plenty of revision to be getting on with for her GCSE's. We all ended up having a day at home. Eleanor's working really hard on her revision for her exams. She's got extra sessions at school over the Easter holiday which she's only too happy to attend as it isn't long now until the exams start. I hope all the effort she's putting in will show in her results.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Highs And Lows

Eleanor took part in the local competitive music festival on Saturday. It was a bit of a mixed bag with a first, a third and an unplaced.

The first class she entered was the Girls Solo, 16 years and under. It was a set song, You Spotted Snakes by Armstrong Gibbs. She did really well and came first. The second class she competed in was Arie Antiche, an open class where she had to sing an Italian aria. She sang Vittoria mio core by Carissimi. Unfortunately, she made a silly mistake right at the start which knocked her confidence a little and she came third out of three. There was only one mark between each of them, and the adjudicator said that she'd chosen the hardest song of the three and that her Italian pronunciation was spot on, so I think if it wasn't for the silly mistake, she'd have probably come first. This is the first time she's competed against adults, and the first time she's entered a class in a foreign language so she'd got herself worked up a bit, which was a shame and quite unlike her as she usually just takes it all in her stride, but it's all good experience. The third class she entered was the Junior Show class. She sang I Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar and didn't get a place. She won the Girls Solo last year so the cup has come home with us again for another year.

Eleanor's recently taken her Grade 6 singing exam. She had to sing four songs, her choices were Don't Cry For Me Argentina by Lloyd Webber, The Willow Song by Sullivan, Vittoria mio core by Carissimi, and she sang it without making a mistake this time, and How Could I Ever Know? by Simon. There are other parts to the exam, such as sight reading, a vaccai vocal exercise and an aural test. She came out with a merit, so we're really proud of her.

It's the end of an era as far as her singing's concerned as her singing teacher has just retired. She's been with her since she started taking singing lessons so it will be strange not popping round for a lesson every week. We're now on the lookout for a new singing teacher for her, it would be a shame not to carry on with her grades now that she's got so far.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Day Out In York

One of my challenges this year is to do something nice for me each month. I spend so much time running around after the rest of the family, or doing things to suit them that I thought it was time that I start pleasing myself sometimes.

We've been having some problems with our internet connection, so an appointment had been made for an engineer to come out and take a look on Saturday, a bit of a wasted day really, so I made up my mind that Mick could wait in for him to arrive and I'd take myself off for a jaunt in York.

We usually drive and park the car at the park and ride, getting a bus in to the centre, but on Saturday, I took the train. From York station, I decided to walk straight up to the minster and have a look around that area.

As I walked towards the minster, I could see the west front.

It's such a huge building and can be seen from many areas around the city.

I popped in to Deans Park, by the side of the minster, to get a better look at the north side.

The south transept contains the famous rose window.

Some of the stained glass in York Minster dates back to the 12th century.

There was plenty going on by the river on Saturday, I stood and watched from Lendal Bridge for a little while.

It was a bit overcast and quite windy, but the weather was still good enough to enjoy a walk. I thought I'd walk the city walls. York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. There are some good views of the minster from this height.

I passed by the river again.

The walls are punctuated by four main gatehouses or 'bars'. Monk Bar was built in the early 14th century and is the tallest of the four bars. It still has a working portcullis.

Micklegate Bar was the traditional ceremonial gate for monarchs entering the city. Traitors' severed heads were displayed on the defences here. One of those heads left to rot was Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, the father of Richard III.

It was time for a snack so I found a little cafe and treated myself to a cup of tea and a jam doughnut. I shouldn't have done really as I'm trying to lose some weight, but in the true spirit of doing something nice for myself, I didn't care. I didn't visit Betty's, probably the most famous tea rooms in York, but plenty of people did, a long queue was snaking its way down the pavement.

After a short break, it was time to hit the shops. I love York for its shopping experience, there's all the large department stores here, but also lots of independent shops too.

I always head for the Shambles, I like all the little gift shops which are down this old street.

Some of the overhanging timber-framed buildings date back to the fourteenth century.

The houses are so close together that it's said you can hold hands across the street out of the upstairs windows.

There's a lovely wool shop in the Shambles named Ramshambles. They stock a good range of yarns, including local brands.

I love a good market and York's Newgate Market offers something for everyone. It stands just to the side of the Shambles.

York was captured by the Vikings and became known as Jorvik. Now, the Jorvik Viking Centre is a very popular visitor attraction. Between 1976 and 1981 excavations revealed houses, workshops and backyards of the Viking-Age city as it stood nearly 1000 years ago, and the centre is built on the place where the excavations took place. I haven't been to the centre since I was a schoolgirl, but it's on my list of places to visit, I think I'm due a return trip.

There's some very old buildings in York, but the earliest row of houses still surviving in the city is Our Lady's Row. They date from 1316.

As well as some buildings being old, some are really beautiful or quirky. I think part of York's charm is the architecture.

I had a wonderful day doing my own thing, but I was shattered after all the walking I did. I slept well that night.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Eleanor went to her friend's fancy dress party on Friday night. Many of her other friends had said that they were going to go in their onesies, so Eleanor decided that she would too. One of her onesies is a giraffe so she thought she'd wear that, but it has feet in it and she couldn't get any shoes on top of it. I suggested wearing her leopard print one as that doesn't have feet in it. She teamed it up with cat ears and a collar with a bell on which she's worn previously on Halloween when she's dressed up as a cat, and she used a bit of make up to make her look cat like. This is the result.

I think she looked quite good. It must be the easiest fancy dress costume we've ever put together.


Friday, 14 March 2014

Little House On The Prairie

I've had this DVD of the first series of Little House On The Prairie for quite some time, but haven't got round to starting it until just recently.

I must have seen just about all the episodes previously, it was one of my favourite programmes as a child. My mum and I would sit and watch it together. Based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it tells the story of a family in the 19th century American west. There's usually a moral behind each story, and it's good family viewing.

Another of my favourite programmes from my childhood was The Waltons. I used to love these type of shows about the trials and tribulations of family life from times gone by. Perhaps that's why I liked Lark Rise to Candleford so much, it's another programme along the same lines. I was really sorry when the BBC axed it after just four series.

Do you enjoy these kind of programmes, or do you have a favourite from your childhood?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Signs Of Spring

It's the middle of March already, where is the year going? There's lots of signs of spring about.

Frogs in the little pond. No sign of any frogspawn though yet.

Spring bulbs putting on a glorious show.

My first butterfly sighting of the year on Sunday, a Peacock.

Cowslip. I must get more of these, I absolutely love them.

Pretty primroses, one of my favourite flowers.

I've seen bees out and about on their business and lambs gamboling in the fields. What signs of spring have you seen?