Monday, 25 August 2014

Dogs and dust busting...

Well we may not have fields of golden sunflowers and intense heat but we do have plenty of soggy fields of golden wheat. The dogs have been reacquainting themselves with the local fields after a two week break whilst we were in Italy and a week spent in Suffolk for the cricket festival. There were piles of leftover wheat across the footpath about a foot high so they bounded along jumping every few seconds. That's not what Riley is doing in that last photo, no, he's just getting in the way of Harvey posing in the cut wheat! They had a ball.

For some reason (planets aligning perhaps) I feel an overwhelming urge to sort and spring clean. I'm not counting on that feeling lasting too long but I have completed the first room in our small abode. I've sucked up the million spiders that moved into the conservatory whilst we were away. I've thrown a large number of diving dvd's in the bin (don't tell M, but honestly who sits through ten films of diving exploits? not m anymore, that's for sure!) I've cleaned all 28 panels of window. Boring.

I've hoovered all parts of the sofas, and discovered chocolate wrappers down the side of M's spot, which he strongly denied were his. Seeing as the children rarely join us for tv these days I think his denial has weak grounds. I've cleaned both sofas with some special leather spray cleaner thing. I've washed all cushion covers and donated the large floor cushions to the dogs so that the sofas are spared. Riley loves his and Harvey is not so sure, he prefers to stretch out rather than curl up.

I've donated films and cd's to charity and I've emptied the tonne of Brio train track that was stored in our coffee table/pine chest so that we now have somewhere for the board games we mainly only play at Christmas. In short, the room now only has stuff that we need/use in it, plus the cobwebs have gone. It was the easiest room in the house to start with but still took a whole day. The dreaded dining room is next. Two million books need sorting through (well give or take a few).

I may need to start a new crochet project just for the tea breaks.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

All things cricket..

Another year of county cricket comes to an end. J has had a good season. He's enjoyed himself and I think the pressure he put on himself in previous years is a little less now. He still gives it 100% but at thirteen years old he should be enjoying it too. He got a good number of wickets overall this year but didn't see much action with the bat. I don't think he minded much, he batted at club level and retired pretty much every game (they have to retire at 25 for under 13 club cricket).

He's also played one heck of a lot of men's cricket this year; most weekends for the firsts and seconds. He's got quite a haul of wickets for them and a few runs too. He's most probably learnt a few other things whilst playing for the men's teams too, I dread to think. He played for the Saturday seconds today and got three wickets and he's playing again tomorrow. Is the end of this cricket season in sight? I hope so. I love it but boy does everything else get neglected!

The team photo above is blurred intentionally. It was taken at Culford School, the venue for this year's cricket festival. I have to say that M and I much preferred Holbrook by comparison. Culford School were not very helpful with directions to toilets for the spectators, and for Lincolnshire that is parents and grandparents, siblings and friends. From pitch one the walk was considerable so we ended up having to drive! The only on site refreshments were vending machines, which was poor compared to how hard Holbrook worked to provide tea and coffee all week long. Luckily I received a tip off that I'd need to take extra flasks (thanks J!) and so we were well equipped.

We stayed at a lovely caravan site which was about a fifteen minute drive from the school. E joined Mum and Dad at a cottage for the week, which meant M and I had a lovely peaceful week! Well almost peaceful, we still had to get up and walk the dogs of course and they were rubbish at settling down on a picnic blanket while the cricket was going on. They ended up sleeping in my boot and having lots of frisbee sessions when the breaks were on. Harvey is obsessed, be it frisbee, ball, stick. He would fetch all day long. Riley has a short concentration span and soon gets sidetracked, and this meant trotting casually off to see if anyone had left any picnic food behind. Little devil.

Embarrassingly J had to wear his green training tracksuit trousers on one day because it was a little chilly. I had no idea they were so ridiculously short! He really should have worn his new training shorts and shoved the trousers back in his bag. He has grown yet again and we need to get new school trousers, his current ones are suddenly well above his ankle, how did that happen? I got him to try on his jacket and that looks a little silly too, why they don't invent stretchable uniform that grows with you I don't know!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Italy road trip #9 Rome to Florence via Orvieto

To break up the long drive from Rome to Florence we stopped at a couple of points asking the route. The most memorable of which was Orvieto. I think this is the type of mountain top village that many British people go to Italy specifically to see. It was wonderful. Second and fourth photos are the view from the little cafe where we stopped for coffee. It was a courtyard with nuns and Italian postmen going about their business. Orvieto was a long way up, and has striking stone wall defences and quite a history that I only read about once we were home.

Had we known what an interesting and pretty place it was we might have spent a night here instead of pushing on to Florence. There were quite a few pottery shops but the prices were a but high. It's also a wine region so we did manage to choose a couple of bottles to bring home.

If you take a wrong turn in Orvieto and find yourself in a street that is just one car width you get shouted at big time, with fists waving! Bloody satnav is all I can say!

We loved Orvieto but were excited to get to Florence...

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Results day...

Gorgeous daughter of are awesome!

GCSE results today. A M A Z I N G !!

You can be anything you want to be.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Italy road trip #8 Rome - Hydromania!

You can call me many things but chicken is not one of them. You see that orange topped slide in the top and last photo? Yep, that's the one to avoid if you're over forty and with a delicate derrière. Ouch. You hit the water at goodness knows what speed with the full force on your bottom. It hurts. I did it twice thinking that I'd be able to cross my legs for the second landing, nope. E didn't like the look of it and M wouldn't have survived it. So Jake and I climbed the many stairs to get to the top not once but twice, in fact Jake went a few more times after I stopped.

We were lucky to catch foam time. A klaxon sounds and everyone starts running to a certain spot and foam is sprayed onto everyone below. It was quite good fun. That's Jake on the right, not wanting to open his eyes in case it stung. It did. There was an annoying little rule that you couldn't go back in the pools without rinsing it off, and the only showers were icy cold. We learnt that the hard way!

We also went on the wiggly blue one and the wavy yellow one; quite tame compared to a green and yellow one that started off quite nicely being able to see where you are going but totally encased in a tunnel, the latter half is completed completely blind while you are being thrown around in the tunnel at high speed not knowing when you're going to hit the water. Yuk. We sat and watched people's faces coming out of that slide for a while!

After all that excitement J and E were happy to go and join the wave pool sessions (second photo, E and J centre). I was happy to snooze under one of the red parasols on the extremely comfortable sun beds.

If you are ever in Rome, it's a lovely water park. Lifeguards everywhere and quite strict. Clean and tidy except for the toilets which I'm afraid seems usual for Italy. In particular, the toilets nearest to all the slides and pools was just a ceramic hole in the ground. Yup. Bring your own toilet roll.

Tips we picked up from the Internet before going (toilet roll wasn't one of them but should have been), take your own picnic and go after 3pm when it gets a but cheaper. We made a day of it because it was on Jake's wish list but we did take our own picnic. Fresh plums, nectarines, huge apples, water melon, grapes and a few other bits and bobs!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Italy road trip #7 Rome

Gelato, gelato, always gelato. J insisted on it every day. It was good. Always home made. This one in Rome had thirty odd flavours. Pistachio, melon, Nutella, vienetta, wild cherry, limoncello, espresso, lime, after eight, coconut...

We had a wonderful apartment in Rome for a few days and nights. Air conditioning! Phew. Four floors up but with an old fashioned cage style lift and a great view. Once again I was up very early and sat by the balcony looking for signs of life. There were some beautiful window boxes. An old man came out at 6am and dead headed his red geraniums. Red geraniums seem to be very popular in Italy.

An afternoon at the Colloseum was only slightly spoiled by the weather. It was so hot! When we left the air conditioned car it hit us like a blast of heat. A short walk down a street and we were all struggling with the temperature. It was well over thirty that day. Just walking round the Colloseum we chose the route with shade. We stumbled into a nice cool cafe on the way back to the car and had two large bottles of water between us.

The children were very impressed with the number of orange trees in Rome. We picked a couple in a quiet side street, not knowing whether this was the done thing! Seemed a waste otherwise!

We weren't finished with Rome. Next stop, a tourist attraction of Jake's choice. Hydromania!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Italian crochet magazines...

A break from the many holiday related posts and photos! OK these are slightly holiday related because I bought them in Italy but I'm sure my crochet followers won't mind!

Uncinetto! Italian for crochet! There's  a mixed bag here. Two of the larger magazines have a lot of stitches for crochet fabric (fourth photo down). I thought they might all be in my crochet stitch bible but it seems not. I love the fashion illustrations scattered thoughout. I've google translated some of the captions and it seems that they are suggestions for what you can do with the stitches rather than specific patterns. I like this approach, it encourages you to be creative. There are some specific patterns too.

I've swatched one of the crochet stitch patterns and the diagram symbols were identical to the ones we'd use in the UK, that is to say that my swatch came out like the picture!

The large blue magazine has intricate flowers at the beginning which would make great brooches, lots of motifs, edgings, fabric stitch patterns and some item patterns too. A really good value magazine for less than five euros. I can't wait to try out some of the motifs.

One of the magazines is mainly filet crochet and fine table wares. Doilies and mats etc. I wanted one of these as a contrast to the others. It's fascinating to look at but it remains to be seen whether I can crochet that finely without hand ache!

I threw a macrame magazine into the selection. It's my guilty secret, macrame. I'm sure I've logged it in my blog somewhere before, how I got thrown out of a sewing class because I was so terrible at it. The teacher plonked me in a corner with a macrame pamphlet and a large cone of string. Boy was I happy with that punishment! Such a useful skill macrame. I've made light pulls, bucket handles, jewellery, plant hangers... long before it all became fashionable again. It may well be a challenge to follow the instructions but there are plenty of photographs and I have prior knowledge of the techniques.

The second to last photo shows my raffia hat in progress. I haven't captured the colour correctly at all. Hopefully a photo of the finished thing in proper day light will do that. It's easy enough to crochet with. Held double I think I could have made a nice basket instead.

Finally, the purchases made from a market in Rome. Two large balls of t shirt yarn and some bag handles. By this stage in the holiday we were getting used to the haggling and getting better at it too. M did the deal for me and the yarn and two handles cost less than £12. I was quite happy with that as bag handles alone can be pricey in the uk and also hoopla yarn or similar is £8 plus per cone. One of the balls is charcoal grey and the other is cartoon strips. I'm not sure what to make with them yet. Bags and rugs seem popular choices.

The Rome market was our favourite. It was a mixture of clothes and goods. J was able to get various Italian football tops and shorts. All had 'official merchandise' on them with holograms but we told him that for €8 a piece they were definitely not. They were great quality though. He bought Milan and Juventus tops. They look and feel just the same as his expensive football and cricket official merchandise shirts. We did see one stall selling football gear which was such poor quality it looked like tissue paper. J just laughed and walked on.

There were only a few stalls selling ribbon, cottons, small amounts of novelty yarn, small pieces of fabric, buttons, lace trim etc. I may not have had the choice that J had with his football t shirts but I was very happy to have found something creative to bring home.