Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tent Fever

I posted earlier about our week in the Lakes staying in my parents' caravan.  It was great for a few days but there are some real annoyances with staying in a caravan.  While every bit of space is put to use in an efficient and useful way, this leaves very little room to actually live and you spend your whole time inside shuffling around each other awkwardly. Throw in a couple of boisterous kids and it's all a bit of a squash and a squeeze and causes any number of frayed tempers. It's also really hard work constructing and deconstructing beds every night. By necessity, meaning the lack of aforementioned space, it's a one-person job but it's really hard work and fiddly to do.

This led to thoughts of camping and the tent that we already have. We'd lent it to Nick's son who brought it with them when they came to stay for a couple of days where it was masquerading as a caravan awning. Loads more room to move around in there.

The only real advantage of a caravan over a tent is security (because, of course, you can't really lock a tent) and all the gadgets you can therefore have with you (ipad, tv, games consoles and chargers, etc etc). But then surely the whole point of that kind of holiday is to go off grid and really get away from it all.

Our poor old tent is looking a bit the worse for wear after 8 years so it's time to upgrade. Went looking at a couple of places that have tent displays, fell in love and bought this behemoth of a bivouac.

It's a Gelert Corvus Beyond 6+2 tent. That's right, it's an 8 man tent. It's enormous. It has a carpet. It's got windows. It's bigger than some peoples houses.

The girls are off for a weeks holiday in Ibiza with their grandparents and we are going back to the Lake District to try out the tent. Can't wait.  Might take the whole week to put it up. Soooo excited!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Meteors and Mars

For the last few nights I've noticed a very bright light in the sky at around 12.30-ish at night. The first time I saw it I thought it was the police helicopter so didn't think anymore about it. Saw it again the night after and thought it was a bit odd that the helicopter should be in the same place at around the same time 2 nights running. On the third night I watched for a while and it wasn't moving and so couldn't really be the police helicopter.

The answer came from a very surprising source. There's a free magazine in the area called the Padiham Herald. It's a mixture of local business advertising and lots of silly articles, dubious jokes and columns. Columnists include the News From the Hardware Shop and the Grumpy Old Git. I love it and always enjoy reading it when it pops through the letterbox. Actually here's a link to the Hardware Shop. I love this shop it's an Aladdin's cave of stuff. You can get anything from a single nail to a mason cash mixing bowl. It's great. Plus they have a lovely shop dog called Ken!  Oops, I digress somewhat from the main topic, sorry I'll get right back on track straightaway. Anyhow, there was an article in the latest copy that said that Mars is apparantly the closest it's ever been to Earth at the moment and is therefore the brightest object in the night sky other than the moon at the moment. Now I know what I've been seeing these past few nights.

Of course, I did some further research and there is also the Perseids meteor shower over the next couple of nights. We did see a couple of shooting stars on Monday night as it was a nice clear night. Utterly crap and dismal day but lovely clear night. Will have a look outside later to see if there are any more to be seen.

Knitting Angst

There are a few perennial things that are really driving me nuts at the moment.
  1. STRIPES  Grr....  All those bloomin' ends and I can never ever do a good job of disguising them. So frustrating. Just in the process of knitting a cardigan for Natasha and will have to pull it all back as it's a hideous mess at the ends of the rows and looks horrendous.  That's it no more stripes... ever... and that's a promise!
  2. SEAMS  Hate them... they always look terrible and I have actually thrown a garment away in frustration on account of hopeless seaming. Also impossible to unpick seaming....grrr. Well my seams anyway.
  3. STAMINA I'm just not good at finishing things off (e.g. baby jacket finally finished when intended recipient was 18 months old and way too big for it) Just can't help myself starting something else before completing the current project.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tea Cosy

There wasn't much opportunity for knitting while at the caravan but I have since finished off my tea cosy. It's TeabytheSea's pattern which can be found here. Great pattern.

I knitted it in King Cole Merino Blend DK which was lovely to work with and made a really lusciously cosy cosy.  It was for a friend who has just moved house and we tested it out when I gave it to her. I am proud to report that it kept the tea absolutely toasty warm.  Very pleased with how it worked out and am planning more for pressies at christmas.

Home Grown Produce

Got some free seeds from the BBC earlier this year and here's our first success! Carrots. Lovely little carrots... aren't they lovely.  Tasted good too!

Padiham Duck Race

Got back from the lakes in time for the annual Padiham Duck Race. It's such fun.  You pick a duck for a pound and then they are all thrown off a bridge on a river and race downstream to the weir.  Everyone follows their progress and it's always an exciting finish.

And they're off! The Duck Race begins.
Excitement mounting as the ducks pass under the bridge.

Didn't win anything. Maybe next time.

Terror in Simonstone

How could I forget to post about this shocker!

Police Hunt Armed Man in Simonstone

Last week of school, was dropping girls off as usual and noticed the road I usually use on the way to work blocked by a policeman. Assumed it was a traffic accident and carried on as usual. Another parent came rushing up to me as I was getting girls out of car and told me that there was an armed man on the loose in the area and that the school was in "lock-down". Sure enough all the children were being escorted straight into school and there were police patrolling around.

Turned out to be over cautious but in the light of Derrick Bird and Raoul Moat I suppose no-one is taking any chances these days.

Fortunately, it was all over by lunchtime but a worrying morning at first.

Summer Hols Week 1

Aged parents kindly towed their caravan up to the South Lakes for us and we spent a few days getting away from it all.  The weather was mostly kind to us and we didn't have too much rain.

Caravan life is not really for us.  Poor Nick kept banging his head on things as he's rather tall and it's a real pain forever putting beds up and down. However, we were inspired to get out about a bit more and have upgraded our tent.  But more about that in a future post.

Here's Milly Molly Mazda looking very at home and outdoorsy in the lovely woody caravan site. Top box fitted the roof bars so we managed to take all our stuff too.

So what did we get up to.  Well, we took the boat all around Lake Windermere and encountered many different weather systems throughout the day.  Watched the heavy rain that drenched us in Bowness rolling down over the mountains and then an hour later it was sunny again!

Oh well.  I do now possess a rather fetching floral waterproof poncho. Makes me look like a walking tent but I was oh so much drier! All in all a very fun day and a really good way to get around Bowness, Ambleside and the lake in general.
On board - a fairly sunny moment!
We were joined for a couple of days by Nick's son, girlfriend and the boys. That was 8 of us and only a 5 berth caravan. This called for some innovative thinking. There is a teeny tiny porch awning but it became clear that this simply wouldn't be big enough. So They brought our tent along (which they had borrowed) and voila - a caravan awning extension was born.... well more of an annexe really.  Anyhow, it meant we could all stay.  Us and kids in the caravan and the other two in the tent.  Oh and a couple of visiting hedgehogs.  They arrived in the awning on the first night to nab some of the dog's food and came back every night. Very snuffly and noisy but also very cute!

Lots of great little walks around the caravan site.  We needed some supplies so we decided to walk to the farmshop at Sizergh barn.  A lovely stroll through the woods and some fields. Lots of gorgeous wild flowers and some interesting road signs!
Off to the Sizergh Barn
The unusual road sign - lots of looking but nothing spotted!
Got our supplies and ate like kings.  All of the following day to look forward to. A day out in Grizedale Forest.
I just love Grizedale forest. There's so much to do. You can walk, cycle, check out the wood sculptures, and swing from the trees at Go Ape. We packed a picnic, picked an interesting path and finished up on the cairn picnic-ing on the top of the crag with the most spectacular view of Morecambe Bay and the Cumbrian mountains. There were also lots of whinberries growing up there and lots of purple faced children!

Nature highlight of the day was the awesome dragonfly spotted on the way up by elder daughter.
We had a really good time.

School's Out, hosepipe bans and lots of rain!

Blimey, I can't believe that it's the third week of the school holidays already.  Not managed to post for ages.  It rained on St Swithin's Day. It was bound to rain, of course, because a few days prior to this North West Utilities announced a hose pipe ban. It's rained virtually every day since!!

If you don't already know, St Swithin's Day is 15 July, a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.
There is a weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times.
'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'
dost = does
thou = you
nae mair = no more.