Sunday, 25 March 2012


LSMS Concert at Shuttleworth College, Padiham

On possibly the best day of the year so far in terms of weather we had to go to a concert.  Big Girl started to learn euphonioum (posted here ) in November and was playing in her first ever concert.  I must confess that I was a teensy bit naffed off about missing out on such glorious weather but am pleased to report that I was blown away by the whole thing.

The lessons Big Girl goes to are provided by the Lancashire Schools Music Service so this was a concert by all kinds of groups within that remit.  There was a local Samba percussion group, string ensemble, guitar ensemble, flute ensemble and various windbands of all ages.

They were all amazing and when the Burnley Junior Windband performed, with big girl on euphonium, I just about burst with pride.  This is the great thing about a big brass instrument - there usually aren't many of them so you can actually HEAR them playing (unlike trumpets or clarinets - there's just too many of them).  And she played her little heart out and kept going all the way through.  She was thrilled!  And I nearly burst with pride!

There was a lot of shifting about to allow the various groups to perform and there must have been at least 150 children involved.  The organisation was excellent.  The venue is the local high school in Padiham, Shuttleworth College, which is a brand new building and very modern.  They took full advantage of the open arrangement and some of the smaller ensembles played in the various balconies rather than on the main floor.  It was really different.

The standard of playing from the senior groups was astounding with some great mixes of modern and traditional pieces. From a lady gaga mix from the strings to pomp and circumstance from the Lancashire wind players.   Can't wait for the next one.

Mist before seven, sunny at eleven

Clocks changed last night so I'm all confused at the moment.  It always takes me a day or two to get used to the clocks changing.

Woke to a really foggy,misty morning and husbeast jumped into his magic knickers (aka compression shorts) and headed out for a run.  I, on the other hand, looked at the sunny haze, sighed and went back to sleep for half an hour.

Sure enough the mist lifted as the morning wore on so it was definitely time to nip out to the shop with the girls.  It was glorious today.  Felt more like a summer day than early spring and we were out in tshirts and strappy tops.  Fab!

Usual long way round was agreed to see how the pussy willows were getting along and check out the ducks. I'm always amazed by pussy willows.  They are so fluffy and almost like little animals and then the next time you look at them, they have sprouted yellowy bits and have turned back into plants. Bizarre.
Pussy willows and sunshine on Padiham Greenway

How does your garden grow?

Now I don't want anyone to think for a minute that I am any kind of gardener.  I'm not.  Anything that occurs in my garden is usually a bit of a fluke and not at all deliberate.  I am still always overly excited when anything I've planted actually grows.

Last year I decided that it was about time that I grew some daffodils.  I love them so much.  They are so cheeky and brassy and in-your-face-it's-spring-y.  I'm always admiring them when I see them in other peoples' gardens, the park or on the grass verges along the roads but I've never had any of my own to admire.  Never had the gumption to get some bulbs and plant them at the appropriate time.  I don't know why.  It's a little bit sad to get to my forties and admit to never planting daffodils.

Anyway, I had a bit of a bulb buying frenzy in Aldi late last year and as a bit of a bulb planting novice, not to mention the paranoid notion that nothing would grow in any case, I again had a bit of a frenzy when it came to planting said bulbs.  I made no note of what went where, or even what kind of bulbs they were (other than a general "flowering" category).

Time passed and I forgot all about this little episode of bulbtastic frenzy.  Until things started to appear.  It's all bit haphazard and random but I've had soooooooo much pleasure when something new has popped out.

Here are my latest specimens and very lovely they are too!

I love this cheeky orange nosed daffy!
Four handsome daffs in a pot standing guard together
Beautiful stripy tulips.  They are simply divine
Side view of those lovely stripy tulips
I'm feeling quite the Percy Thrower right now.  I will definitely get more bulbs for next year - this time I might even attempt to have some kind of organised planting plan.... but I doubt it!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A lovely surprise

I got given flowers this afternoon. A thank you from a colleague I helped out. I didn't do anything especially amazing either. It's made me stupidly happy because, let's face it, it's great to be appreciated!
Lovely pink chrysanthemums that smell
really sweet.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Equi-what nots

I declared spring on 1st March but I thought I should just mention that we have had the spring equinox and it is therefore OFFICIALLY spring now.  Hooray!

Being a bit of a pedant I felt compelled to look up equinox to find out what it was exactly and discovered that there is also an equilux. This is when the day is half day and half night and may not necessarily occur on the same day as the equinox.  All very interesting.

The good news is that every day is going to get a teensy bit lighter for a couple of months so lots more light to enjoy and do stuff in.  Lovely

Mothers Day Outing

It was Mothering Sunday at the weekend so what to do, what to do.... the weather looked promising so we decided to head out for a walk and then some lunch well deserved after a bracing walk. Off to Silverdale.
Me and my mum
A real family favourite and I always have a hankering to go and have a wander round once or twice a year.  It's not too far away and sits on Morecambe bay on the Lancashire border.  It's an area of outstanding natural beauty and, well, I just like it lots and lots.
Lindeth Tower where Elizabeth Gaskell spent her summers
We parked outside the Wolf House Gallery and walked down the lane past Gibraltar Farm and Lindeth Tower where the victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell spent her summer holidays.  It must have been a wonderful escape from the smog and grime of industrial Manchester.  The views of the bay from the tower must be spectacular.  We got to the footpath on Jack Scout, a promontory owned by the National Trust and just about the only cliff on Morecambe bay.  It's a hot spot for lots of orchids at various times of the year probably due to the mild microclimate that's there.  We didn't spot any orchids but there was lots of gorse in flower.  Gorse has a lovely coconutty smell.  Yummy.
Gorse on Jack Scout, Silverdale
There are one or two little coves to explore here which are rocky and interesting.  You can't venture too far out though.  Innocent and enticing as it may seem danger lurks in these parts such as sudden fast tides and quicksand.  Can't be too careful.
Magnificent Morecambe Bay
We headed along the edge of the coast as the tide was out to Jenny Brown's point.  Lots of rock scrambling for the girls and interesting stuff to look at.  Love the green posts that were sticking up randomly. Presumably to moor boats... I'm not sure.  They look great though.
We were blessed with lots of lovely sunshine.  It was really warm at times but quite chilly in the shade or when the sun briefly disappeared behind one of the infrequent clouds.
A PadihamKnitter shadow!
Reached the picturesque Jenny Brown's cottages.  Time to sit for a few minutes with our flask of hot chocolate and some biccies and just look and ponder.
Jenny Brown's Cottages
The sea must come right up to these cottages as there judging by the bits and bobs hanging over the wall.  Lovely spot though, if a bit isolated.

Time to head back to Silverdale for some lunch.  Just one more place to visit on the way back around - the Giant's Chair.  Luck was on our side and we had it all to ourselves.  It's really annoying if you get there and someone is already sitting on it, or worse picnicking on it as they are in for the long haul then.
All together on the Giant's Chair
Back into Silverdale and lunch at the Silverdale Hotel.  It was warm enough to sit outside too which was handy as we had dogs with us.  Sarnies and chips - nothing too fancy and then a stroll back to the cars via the Wolf House Gallery. Had a coffee there while the girls had a run around the play area and we checked out Janice McGloine the resident artist.  I love her quirky paintings and her unique style - check them out.  Here's an example
Janice McGloine  'Quirky' picture
So there you have it, a really splendid day out!

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Yarnival Woolly Advert in the Post Office Window
Heard about this event via Ravelry and simply had to go as it was in Trawden which is not too far from me.  About 10 miles in fact, so in a moment of absolute bravado (madness is more like it though) I announced my intention to cycle there and back!

I chose a route and set off.  Powered along the bypass to Barrowford - bit of a slog on the uphill but wonderful on the downhill stretch. This will be a piece of cake, I thought.  Turned off and was pleased to find a handy underpass system to guide me under the M65 and I headed into Nelson.  I had decided to take a rural route but had only checked it out on Google Maps..... silly woman.  It looked so innocuous and of course there are no contours on Google Maps so I was completely unprepared for the one and a half miles of hill that is Barkerhouse Road!  And then just when I thought  I was at the top there was even more hill to go up.  It took me ages.  But I did it.  Hooray for me.  Sweaty and with a face the colour of beetroot I must say the twisty downhill bit was good fun.

Heading into the village of Trawden I suddenly realised that I hadn't made a note of the building that I was headed for and was a bit worried that after all the hill related hassle of getting there it would be all in vain. I needn't have worried as the wonderful organisers had been busy...
There was no mistaking the venue as there was yarn graffiti everywhere and very jolly it was too.  The best use I've ever seen fuzzy yarn put to on the Trawden sign!
I especially loved the bicycle.  It is really quite spectacular don't you think.  Inside there was a small but choice selection of stalls and happenings and some delicious cakes on sale in the cafe.  You got a free brew with your entry ticket which was really nice.  The turnout was pretty good. Hundreds of people making the overall event a real success.

I met some really interesting, quirky and cool people too.
Pete from Spindlers 2
Pete from Spindlers 2 was demonstrating hand spinning and has some simply gorgeous spindles for sale too.
Beautiful wooden spindles from Spindlers 2

Freyalyn was also spinning but this time with a wheel rather than by hand.
Freyalyn in action
She also had lots and lots of truly gorgeous hand-dyed fibres and yarns.  Had to treat myself to some which I have neglected to take a piccie of...silly me.
Some of Freyalyn's sumptuous hand-dyed sock yarn. Yummy
And there was also the lovely textile and button items from Handcrafted Textiles , braiding kits from Berlin Braids and a delicious selection of yarns from the Hawthorn Tree to name but a few.
Kate, event organiser and purveyor of gorgeous yarns at the Hawthorn Tree
There was also an ongoing knit and natter in the cafe area where lots of lovely work was displayed.  There were scouts and cubs getting stuck into knitting and lots of other informational stalls too.  There was a super cute Ronaldsay sheep with two 3 week old lambs outside but didn't get a decent shot of them - the lambs kept jumping about and being scampish!
Displays of knitting and crochet pieces - I especially liked the green monster made by pupils at Trawden Forest Primary School.
Decided to take a different route home.  Just couldn't face having to go back up that massive hill again. Took the opposite way out of Trawden and after a bit of guesswork and following the advice gleaned from one of the Yarnival chaps, found my way back via some back streets, an unexpected nature reserve and the canal before rejoining the bypass at Barrowford.  Much easier and a lot flatter route than the way there.  Even the sudden downpour of rain didn't bother me all that much.  Was a bit saddle sore when I got home though.

Took my new iPhone with me and all the photos were taken using it.  They are ok - not used to the phone so lots have my finger over the viewfinder!! Also used the GPS to find out where I was when unsure.  Nick was able to track my progress too so that was pretty cool - he would have been able to pinpoint where exactly I was if I'd needed to be picked up at all!

All in all a really great event.  I hear there is talk of next year's event so maybe it'll be back again next year. I do hope so.  Although I will choose a different route to cycle next time!!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Deer Stalking

Just look at the cute deer.  He has antlers.  FLUFFY antlers.  Ahhhhhhh.  How cute is that!  Expensive zoom lens beginning to earn it's keep!  Taken from our bedroom window at about 7.45 this morning.

Bye bye bike and hello new tech

Firstly some sad news.  After over a year of commuting to work on his pedal powered bike, N decided to sell his bike.  It was a bit of a wrench to let it go but it has just been sitting outside the house not being used. We don't have a garage it can't really be taken off road and stored so the decision was taken.
Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees
We've had some fun times on this bike so it feels like the end of an era for us.  But then again, we are into different things these days.  Given some time to do what we like, it would more likely be a walk in the fells or a challenging cycle.  Not so much bike ride.... sigh...

Bye bye bike
We put iton ebay and got a very decent amount of interest and a good price for it so that was a relief.  Nick treated me to an iPhone and has got a watch that does loads of sporty monitoring type stuff (he's into that type of stuff) and has discovered Endomondo to upload all of this worthy activity - apparently his work colleagues have the bug too so it's all very completive and manly!!! That said, it's a very cool idea and worth checking out.

I have had an android handset for a while now and have been telling myself (and everyone else) that it does all the same stuff that an apple phone does for all this time.  I can now admit to you that I was talking lots and lots of bunkum.  This phone wipes the floor with anything else on the market and I haven't even got the very latest super-duper model either!  Love it!

Still getting used to the camera though and need to play with that a lot more.  Love the GPS and mapping which comes in handy and well it's simply gorgeous.  So tactile and well put together.  Me happy!

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Not been very green fingered. My poor little office pot plant is beyond help now methinks. Oh well lesson learned. Plants are for the garden and not just the office!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Rainbow Blanket

There are a couple of babies on the horizon in the family in the coming months so that is one excellent reason to be cracking on with some little blankies.

This is the first and it's a rainbow. I'm really enjoying it so far.
It's based on the Neat Ripple of Attic 24 fame.  I've used a mixture of Stylecraft Special DK (cream, Jaffa, Bright Green) and Patons Fab.  Chained 140 to start and am doing a single row of the cream with 2 rows of each colour in between. Really bright and fun.

Crochet Watch

In the course of searching for the signs of spring, also caught glimpses of other stuff too.

Check out the granny square blanket on the window sill

I had to take the photo a bit to the side or the owners would have thought I was some kind of peeping tom I'm sure!  Really enjoyed spotting that, so imagine how surprised I was to spot this as well!

A really huge granny square blankie hanging out to dry.  A huge, cheery colourful one at that!
What a jolly surprise!

Big pat on the back

Today is an anniversary.

Twelve months, that's a whole year, of not smoking.  Hip, hip, hooray!!  It really hasn't been that bad. Surprisingly easy in fact... here's how it has gone

Days 1-3
Cold turkey quit over a weekend.  Bit foggy and hazy, drank lots of fruit juice to help alleviate blood sugar levels.  Only a few pyscho rage episodes.  Nowhere near as hellish as I'd imagined.

There is lots of really helpful information about going cold turkey on the Why Quit website. It's well worth a read through but be warned there is lots and lots and lots of stuff to go through.  It's very informative though and I think knowing some of the ways nicotine affects and changes the way your body works is quite shocking.

Day 4-9
First week at work without smoking.  Not a problem.  No real urges to go back on it. Hadn't really had any cravings at all, it's more a case of forgetting that you don't smoke any more and then being a bit unsure what to do with yourself.

This is the first stage of tackling your smoking triggers.  You have got to keep positive and focussed about stopping and it's not so bad.

Month 1
Physical withdrawals included: disturbed sleep, foul metallic taste in mouth, irritability.

It seems really unfair that you do something 'good' like giving up smoking and spend the first few weeks suffering a whole range of withdrawals that no-one tells you about!!  Sleep disturbance, digestion problems, constipation, foul taste, coughing, nose bleeds, bleeding gums etc etc.... it's almost enough to make you go out start up again.

You have to look at it positively.  It's all about the healing.  Most smokers start in their teens and so you have to adjust to not smoking in an adult body.  It takes longer to heal when you are older so these symptoms can go on for a while. It's a good thing though - it means you are getting rid of the harm that the smoking did to you.

Month 6
Most physical stuff now sorted.  No annoying cough when lying down in bed anymore. Appalled by the smell of smoking now... glad to be free of all that.  Beginning to get to a point where most smoking triggers have occurred and have sailed through.  Beginning to think of myself as a non-smoker.

12 Months
Barely think about smoking now.  Ready to tackle the extra weight I've put on.  A combination of eating a bit more and altered metabolism.  Although, age and laziness also contributing factors! Still grumpy though I think I've probably always had that tendency!  Just wish I'd got to this point a lot sooner.

It is still a victory though and I am patting myself on the back.  Well done me!!

Spring is sprung

It seems that lots of people are obsessing about the beginning of Spring.  It's a national hobby I think.  Taking notice of the weather, flowers, wildlife and anything that hints of warmer and longer days to come. It's no exception here.  The girls will persist in getting bigger so new walking boots have been purchased and today was an excellent chance to wear them in and look for those signs of spring.

We are really extremely lucky to live in a little town that is truly only moments away from open countryside, woodland, parkland and riverside scenery.  So off we set. Up the main road to the park to begin our stroll.
Through the gates and a moment to admire the carpet of crocus.  Looking lovely.  Purple on one side and white on the other.
Past the bowling green at the other side of the river.  Not much going on at this time of year but the little wooden pavilion looks to have had a recent coat of paint and is looking rather smart. After passing through the park, it was on to the river path to look for pussy willows.
They are a bit sparse this year as it was all getting a bit overgrown along the footpath last year so there was some very harsh cutting back at the end of autumn.  We did manage to spot these beauties though.

We also spotted lots of the hanging catkins as well as some cheery and very bright yellow celandines.  Looks like spring is springing up as we speak.

Follow the river path around to see what we can see.  Lots of activity with the usual crowds of Mallards, a few Muscovy ducks and a pair of extremely noisy geese.  We carry on along the river path and then head off to Grove Plantation, a favourite woodland spot.

It's a fairly old wood and was once adjoining some open cast mining and quite industrial which is almost impossible to imagine nowadays. It's had some regeneration over the last few years and there is a sweet little stretch of it called the Trail of Words.  There are some lovely wood sculptures and some poetry for you to look at.

There are also lots of hollow trees.  Sadly the girls are beginning to get a bit too big to squeeze in together like in years past but Littlest Girl just couldn't help herself!
Glance across the field to see the magnificent Gawthorpe Hall. There are stately homes close by too. All this wonderful stuff within minutes walk of our house.  We are blessed.

After park, riverside and woodland we turn off and head up through the fields to make our way home.  It's quite smelly at times as there are huge pyramid shaped piles of what we think is some kind of poultry poo.  Stinky.  But all that is blown away when we see this....

...Yes!  The first lambs of the year.  A field full of them. We have now declared it officially.  Spring is definitely sprung
Look! Twin lambs.  Double ahhhhhh!!

So there you have it.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Horsing around

Nipped over the Blackburn with the girls for various Saturday activities and on the way home we caught sight of a wedding party in a horse drawn carriage. The horses were a pair of gorgeous grey shire horses called Beau and Victor.

Beau (left) and Vicor
Little Girl saying hello to Victor
Little Girl saying hello to Beau
They were enormous beasts but very gentle and friendly.  Just love their fluffy feet.