Sunday, 25 April 2010

Back to the grindstone

Well here I am crocheting together blanket number 2.  Think the granny square madness is beginning to subside a little and have signed up for a Baktus scarf swap just to have a change really.

Been back at work for a week now and the blues have finally lifted. It's always a bit of a bummer turning back to normality after a blissful couple of weeks off the grindstone. Sigh.... Having said that, it's only 5 more weeks until half term.... yay!

Had a bit of good news too. Stepson the elder told us that his wife is preggers.  Really pleased for the two of them. Baby due in October so plenty of time to inundate them with knitted baby stuff.  Already planning a BSJ, crochet blanket and lots of booties and hats. It will be a winter baby so there's TONS of potential knitting/crochet to do. All cute and small too! What a good do.

Wonder if they know what they are letting themselves in for.  Performed a rather extreme act of parental devotion over the weekend.  Both girls used the toilet and suddenly a cry of sheer pain and devastation rent the air.  Daughter the younger had dropped her favourite necklace into the poo-infested toilet bowl. It's a pink plastic pendant encasing a little starfish (which looks real... and I think it might well be real too).  There was no option.... on with the marigolds and had to fish it out for her. Bleughhhh...... After a stint in some bleach you'd never know though. Mind you I may be scarred for life!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Happy Club

Sigh.. the Easter hols are drawing to a close and it's back to work and school on Monday. Spent today contemplating how great it's been these last couple of weeks.

The weather has been excellent. Lots of sunny days to enjoy. Lots of lovely walks and playing out time for the girls and G and D next door. They have become the best of friends and are so lucky to have a wood all to themselves to play in. They also hang out in a conifer at the end of the street which they call the tree house although they really just hang about under the branches at the trunk.  Today they set up a Happy Club. The motto is "turn your sadness into happiness". They spent quite a bit of time planning it all out. Apparantly, Saturday is party day, Sunday is meeting day and on school days it operates from 3.30 until 5.30.  They even wrote out invitations for a couple of kids who live across the street and went and posted them! One of them came straight over to join in the fun and before too long it seemed that every kid in the area was playing down there!

There's been no need to organise many things really as they've been playing away quite happily. This has meant lots of lovely sitting around the back garden keeping an eye on them and crocheting away. Fabulous. Nick has fixed the burst pipe in outside toilet, mended the broken brolly and power washed the steps and back path. It's been fab. Really don't want it to end......

Other notable items. The dog has had a haircut and looks half the size now. Very cute though. Will get a picture of her tomorrow. She kind of likes it but is a bit funny about having paws and rear end trimmed. This makes for a kind of sporran effect from behind. It's a good job she's cute enough not to look completely ridiculous.

Also rhubarb has gone beserk these last couple of days so it looks like rhubarb crumble and custard over the weekend. Yummy!

Up, up and away

Blimey, I'm still a bit gobsmacked by the balloon ride. It was amazing. It's something I've always wanted to try and it certainly didn't disappoint. It was serene, smooth, fun, exhilarating, and I really can't think of enough adjectives to do it justice.

So here's how it all went.

We'd been to Scotland on the bike on Wednesday and were dead tired after a 340-is mile trip but couldn't crash out until 11.00pm. That's when you ring to get final confirmation that your balloon flight is actually going ahead. It was, so hooray! However, meeting point was changed (something to do with prevailing winds as I recall) and we had to be there at 6.30am.  It's about an hour's ride from home so that meant setting of at 5.00am (just to allow an extra 30 mins to cover any potential mishaps en route) and that in turn meant a 4.00am get up. Oo-er would it be worth it?

Set off in the dark and it didn't get light until we were about halfway there. It was quite chilly too and there was some frost on the ground around Lancaster. Our meeting point was the Little Chef at Ings in the south Lakes. Great I thought, will get there in time for a nice hot cuppa and a wee. How wrong I was - the damn place doesn't open until 7 so there was nothing for it but to go tramping through the little woods behind it to find a suitable spot to relieve myself. This is no mean feat with bike gear and an extra pair of leggings to contend with. Most inelegant.

There were a number of people sitting in cars on the car park who seemed to be waiting too and I realised that I had no idea how many passengers there would be on the flight. Bang on 6.30 a battered minibus arrived with the Virgin Balloon on the side followed shortly after by a flat bed truck with an ENORMOUS basket on it.  We all piled into the minisbus and were driven to a field in Kentmere that was full of noisy sheep and lots of sheep poo. Participation was very much the order of the day and we helped drag the basket off the truck and spread out the balloon on the ground.  While all this was going on there was much releasing of small black balloons and lots of tutting and sighing from the pilot.

The balloon is first inflated with cold air and they had a couple of fans blowing away. We were given the safety info and told that once inflated with cold air the hot air would be blown in and we'd have to jump in to provide "ballast". The basket was divided into 5 sections; a central strip for the pilot with the burners and four compartments on each corner each holding 4 people. There were 16 passengers altogether. It's snug but makes for good balance and the compartments probably add to the stability too.

We all got in and the take off was amazingly smooth. I sort of expected to have that stomach churn you get when a lift starts up, but not at all. It was hardly noticeable.  We climbed fairly quickly and ultimately got up to 4215ft at the highest point. The speed varied quite a bit at different heights and at one point we were completely still and not moving at all.  Time for the in-flight photo.  We rose way above the clouds and watched them rolling over the hillsides. Could just make out the summit of Scafell poking out of a blanket of clouds.

We were travelling in a southerly direction and flew towards lake Windermere. It was spectacular and we were able to fly right over it. It was now time to land. Apparently, the wind speed at ground level kept increasing so we all sat down and assumed the position quite a few times to no avail. We were getting a bit giggly at this point. This extended the flight so no-one was unhappy about it.  On one landing attempt we skirted the top of some trees which was quite exciting.

Eventually a suitable spot was found and the wind was okay. It was to be a "tip and drag" landing so we all sat down and assumed the position again and down we came with a bump.  The basket ends up on it's side so we were all sort of on our backs and laughing our heads off.  We'd been in radio contact with the "chasers" all the way through and they were on the way to collect us.  We got out of the basket all a bit undignified and silly, when a farmer came roaring up on a quad bike with a face like thunder not too happy with a big red balloon landing in his field. He was soon followed by his wife who was even fiercer.  Happily the pilot was able to smooth things over and we were soon helping to pack up the balloon. Bit like packing up a really massive tent. The minibus arrived and we stopped at Lowick Green to admire a heavenly view and enjoy a glass of champagne before being taken back to the meeting point.

It was brilliant. We saw deer, foxes, swans, lots of sheep, and amazing views. I would love to do it again. It was so worth the 4.00am start.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Get your motor runnin'

Oh joy! Oh rapture! Both girls staying at grandparents tonight leaving Nick and I free to head out on the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes our way!

So we decided to spend the day out on the bike. First chance we've had for ages. It was agreed that we'd go to Tibbie Shiels.  A lovely spot in Scotland that Nick has been promising to take me to for the last 10 years but somehow it's just never worked out.

The weather was amazing. Clear blue skies all the way from Padiham to Scotland. We took the A59 and A6 passing through Kirby Lonsdale and then up over Shap (where we stopped for a cuppa but ended up having some rather lovely chip butties). From there a bit of blast up the M6 and as usual on motorways I snoozed off for a bit and Nick kept having to prod me now and again to wake me up. It never ceases to amaze me that I haven't fallen off while snoozing so far! Turned off the M6 at Moffat to take the fabulous Selkirk road that leads to Tibbie Shiels.

Stopped at the little shack for a cuppa, admired the view and had a little stroll around. It is gorgeous. St Marys Loch (Tibbie Shiels is the name of the inn/hotel that stands on the bit of land between the two lochs) is the largest natural loch in the Scottish Border. Local legend has it that the loch has no bottom and it is reputed to be the coldest loch in Scotland.

We didn't dip our toes in to find out but it was rather lovely.

The little cafe was nice too. Lovely looking cakes and scones but sadly was still a bit full of chip butty to indulge.

Don't know if I mentioned where the latest granny square madness stems from. I was just surfing the internet when I came across some gorgeous blankets that were made for specific camper vans that can be hired at Snailtrail . Fell in love with the vans and in a moment of madness almost bought a lovely orange 1974 T2 that was for sale on eBay. In Accrington too which is only a few miles up the road from us. Sanity and lack of cash won in the end though and I'm working through it by extensive use of GST (that's Granny Square Therapy of course). Then I saw this fantastic camper and the madness is coming back. I am resisting the urge to check eBay to see if the Accy van is still there..... must..... stay.... strong.......

After having a nice cuppa we carried on to Selkirk and took the A7 back to Carlisle and the M6. What a great road that is too.  Stopped for a bite to eat at Tebay services on the M6 - the only decent motorway services in the UK if you ask me for some lovely local fare and then home.  About 320 miles altogether. Bum faring well but knees a bit stiff. All sorted with a nice hot bath and plenty of cups of tea.

But dear friends the adventure doesn't end here... oh no!  Tomorrow, weather permitting, we are finally taking the hot air balloon ride I got as a 40th birthday present! Can't wait. I'm soooo excited about it. Got cancelled at the last minute last time we booked (last year) so fingers crossed. We won't know for definite until 11.00pm when we check the website. Cross your toes too just to be on the safe side. It's an early start though. Got to be at Newby Bridge in the South Lakes by 6.30am. We'll be on the motorbike again I think. Well we'll have to be actually since I left the car on my mum's drive. Setting off at 5.00am. be continued....

Crochet Disaster

Oh no! Dropped my crochet hook last night and it slipped down the side of the sofa.  No problem I thought I'll be able to get it out.  But this was not to be.  The little blighter sipped right down and is now residing right underneath. I can feel it through the fabric on the bottom. Along with what feels like money.
Sigh... not yet desperate enough the cut fabric to retrieve it. Happily have another hook the same size. Not as good to use though

Monday, 12 April 2010

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed the Easter break this year. I think it's a combination of things really. Being generally ready for a break, a long gruelling winter bursting into spring, the age of the kids and their growing independence and great weather.

It's been fabulous weather again today. We decided to head to Spring Wood for a walk and an ice-cream. Too early for the bluebells and initially it all looked a bit barren. Lots of late DAFFODILS though!

On closer inspection though, there was plenty to see and lots going on. The first bluebell and only one we saw. Not to mention lots of yellow Celandines and White Wood Anemomes and Wild Garlic flowers.

And then every so often there would be a small sapling displaying a riot of fresh green leaves in amongst all of the lifeless bigger trees. Another one of those little things that fills me with an enormous sense of wellbeing and joy.

Everyone got a bit giddy and full of the joys of. This is what happened when I tried to organise a nice group shop. Come on guys! Get it together!!

Fortunately, the woolly and ovine types were much more obliging.

Ahh. Then, of course, it was time for ice-cream. Harmsworths have been at this site for as long as I can remember. It's delicious home-made ice-cream. And that's all he sells at the moment. None of that namby-pamby ice lolly malarky! Poor chap can't take a day off once the weather picks up or he gets complaints from all the pensioners who go there to sit on the car park, watch the birds and have an ice-cream. It is rather delicious though.

Look it's Mr Harmsworth making up our 99s. And here we are enjoying them.

Yummy. All in all a rather nice trip out. Also helped older girl to forget about slightly traumatic dentist appointment earlier on. Poor thing has a hole in one of her back teeth which developed and abcess a few weeks ago.  It's now been capped. This involved an injection (which I didn't tell her about) and a metal crown being glued over the cleaned out tooth. Happily, she thinks it look quite cool and has shown it off to anyone willing to look so far.

Also finished the granny blanket which is now on the bed of older girl.

I'm pretty pleased with it and it's been a real learning curve too. Am already starting some more squares for another little blankie for daughter the younger.

Twit Twoo

Finally after living at this house for 10 years and hearing them I've finally seen an owl in the woods behind the house!  Heard it around 8.45pm-ish and walked down the back path following the sound and got lucky! There it was on a low branch until it saw me and flew off. Done a bit of research in younger daughter's guide to British birds and I reckon it's a tawny owl.

Found a picture of one to show you. I was so thrilled. It's given me a huge amount of pleasure.  See I'm so easily pleased.  The bats are also back. I think they are most likely to be common Pipistelle bats. They are lovely to see as they dart about in the twilight. I think they might roost in our roof. 

Saturday, 10 April 2010


It's been fantastic weather today. I was sitting outside in shorts and a vesty top and there was even suncream involved. Great stuff. Got myself set up on the top of the steps and finally finished my Granny Squares. 54 of them altogether. I'm quite proud of myself for not getting distracted by the lovely sock wool I bought recently (2 lots of Regia - another set of Kaffe Fassett Easter colourway and some Flusi in yellow, orange and green) or the Cheap as Chips swap parcel that arrived at the same time.

I am determined to actually start and finish just one project this Easter and it looks like I'm going to do it too! Unlike my usual habit of kicking off something new when it all gets a bit tedious or I acquire a 'must knit' yarn.

Will go and do some more joining up now. Photos to follow tomorrow.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Granny Square Madness

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the infamous Granny Squares.

I'm using up some bright red and pale pink acrylic that I got in a moment of madness in Lidl last year. Had thoughts of knitting up some stuff for the girls but that was never really gonna happen now was it? I was seduced by the thought of bargain yarn. It's OK as far as acrylic goes but not especially nice so it's been sitting in the back of the stash cupboard for quite a while making me feel guilty. I am so glad to be shifting it by making a blanket. It's my first one so I don't mind if it turns into a pigs ear since I spent barely a tenner on it. Would be heartbroken if it was anything posher!

I'm up to nearly 30 squares so far and there's still plenty of yarn left so hopefully it will be a decent size. Must remember to save some yarn for sewing/crocheting together and a border though. Will try to remember to take some progress shots and let you know how it's coming along.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

More Holiday Fun

Well we are into the Easter holidays fully now. So far all has been good. The tooth trauma is over now and distraught daughter suitably consoled by note from tooth fairy and payment even though tooth actually lost in the sewers somewhere!

DH working this week so just me and the girls. How I love working term-time only, it's just so much easier. G and D the kids next door have practically moved in and we've had a really fun day today. They played for hours in the wood at the back of the house and I now have a pile of 26 granny squares so far! Must remember to take a picture. I'm using up some cheap acrylic yarn I got at Lidl last year so brownie points for me for using up stash and not buying more yarn! Good for me!

After playing quite happily,  lots of running about and shouting mostly, it began to get a bit fractious so it was definitely time for a walk. Had to take G and D from next door too. The dog was in need of a bit of exercise too so gathered kids, lead, ball, plastic poo bag and set off. Total chaos. Excitable giddy kids and lead chewing silly dog.

 Off they all ran and left me holding the dog and puffing and panting to keep up. Found them draped artistically over the park railings!
Plenty of steam was let off in the park and lots of muck and dirt attracted in the process. Back home mid afternoon and G and D ended up staying for tea. All got a bit too much again, so nothing for it but to go out for another walk! This is the joy of light evenings. You can nip out after tea for an hour or so and burn off all that energy.

Decided to head up to the cricket ground and wood behind it. 
Found an abandoned space hopper which was bounced all the way home and is now in my back garden... Here we are having our photo taken while I'm taking a pic of DH taking the pic....hmmm... getting a bit of mind melt with that one!

I'll try to clarify a bit. Here we are having a little sit down. The kids proudly showing off the abandoned space hopper that they have now adopted and re-homed. I'm taking a photo of DH.

And here is the view we have from the bench along with DH taking the previous photo!

One of the things I love about spring evenings is the light. In the depths of winter it just sort of suddenly gets dark in the space of what seems like just a few minutes. Once the clocks go forward and you are into spring though, you get a fantastic sunset, dusk, twilight thing going on.  Lots of lovely shadows. It's great and it gives me a ridiculous amount of pleasure to see.

I love this picture of the kids' shadows. In a funny kind of way it reminds me of Peter Pan. This set off a bit of an arty farty mood so here are some more pictures of the lovely effects of evening light. The town is a bit higgledly piggedly and there are always lots of roofs to be seen. Also a few peculiar buildings.
Love this funny gatehouse. It's in two halves. Sadly, this half is in a pretty poor state and the roof is starting to go. The other side is looked after and lived in. What a cool house that must be. Owner was pottering about so didn't like to start taking photos of that half while they were looking on!

 Love this old part of town. Really nice hodge-podge of stone buildings. The weather really picked up this evening and the blue sky looked divine. Cue gratuitous church and big sky picture.

I also love the way the sun going down can give you two views of things. Depending on the direction you see ordinary things looking quite beautiful in silhouette.
Or bathed in setting sunshine.

While I was getting carried away with the gorgeousness of everyday objects (like chimneys) and taking arty farty photos, I forgot that I was the only one with a door key on me and found DH waiting stoically on the doorstep. Here he is and it's a gratuitous bike shot too!

Monday, 5 April 2010


Hooray! Easter hols have begun.  It's been pretty eventful really in a chilled out and relaxed kind of way.

Took the annual trip to Sedgewick to visit my parents at the caravan site there.  Weather much better than anticipated and we had a really great afternoon.  Took a walk round the site. I think I've already gone on (and on) about how late everything is this year, no doubt because of the very cold winter we've had. It even snowed briefly again on Thursday.  All that aside though we did see lots of DAFFODILS.  Hooray! Thoughts of Wordsworth and his hosts of golden daffodils - highly appropriate since we were in the Lake District.

The River Kent runs alongside the site and there was a group of people canoe-ing along. Looked very exciting and fun. I would imagine pretty chilly though.... brr...

Unfortunately, on the way up there was an accident on the M6 so we did spend a long time  crawling a relatively short distance. Frustrating but can't be helped really.  On the plus side I did get a bit of knitting done. Was on a deadline for a party on Sunday. Also managed to get some more done after the work sitting in the sunshine

I was up until midnight finish this doll off. I did think it was a bit odd having a birthday party on Easter Sunday but you can't help when your birthday is can you? So I duly finished the doll and got to the party venue only to find there was nothing going on. How stupid did I feel when I looked at the invite and realised we were a whole week early.  It's not until next week. Doh! This is a repeat of the Sport Relief Mile fiasco.  Maybe it's the start of a downward spiral. Am I losing the plot? If you see any marbles lying around they are probably mine.  Send them back would you!

While I was frantically knitting away the kids (this includes grandparents of course) were busy building a den.

Off home we went. Natasha proudly showing off her wobbly front tooth which duly fell out shortly before the bedtime and then panic ensued when we realised we'd lost the special little tooth bag that she likes to leave her tooth under the pillow in.  Luckily we found it, and inside a two pound coin from the last tooth fairy visit that we'd forgotten all about! Happy days.... peace and harmony restored.

There's another wobbly tooth on the bottom row but more of that later.

Natasha woke up to a payment from the Tooth Fairy and they both had an easter egg hunt as well. Chocolate fest for much of the weekend has followed.

The weekend has been really great. Weather better than expected so DH power washed the back path and stone steps. They look great.

There has also been lots of dressing up too.  The girls are particularly into the morrocan outfits that my parents brought back for them in February.

DH spent some time scanning in some old slides that his dad found when he was having a clear out recently. They are great. From around 1968/69 we think.

They were on holiday in Magaluf in this photo. Check out DH's sandals (with socks too!) and the flower power dresses!

DH looking ever the poser. Nothing much changes. I'm only surprised he isn't wearing shades. Oh hang on... what's he holding.... I rest my case!

Bottom row wobbly tooth has tenaciously hung on for days despite much fiddling by daughter.  At bedtime tonight it was looking like if was definitely on it's last legs and she was constantly messing with it. It would go left, right, backwards, forwards... all directions. And then, when she was brushing her teeth out it popped and fell straight down the plughole. Devastation, daughter utterly distraught and inconsolable. Have reassured her that tooth fairy will still visit despite lack of tooth to swap.... sigh...have created a tooth fairy note to go with coin this time.... heartbreaking but kind of funny at the same time. Does that make me a bad mummy?

Granny square madness continues. Must get some pics to show you.