Thursday, 28 February 2013

In a thrifting mood...

Woohoo! I'm on a roll. I have been out two days in a row on my own. I'm sure it's just the result of the long dark cold winter and the sudden appearance of sunshine!

I drove for twenty minutes through beautiful deserted country lanes to Market Rasen. I made a large cup of tea and put it in a travel mug for the ride out there but ended up having it on the way back at a pull in with a nice view. I wish Harvey liked car journeys better. I used to have a large English Springer called Algie and he adored driving. He sat in the front (in the days when they didn't stop you for that) and just contentedly watched the world go by. If he got a nice walk too that was a bonus but mainly he just wanted to be with me rather than left at home. Harvey on the other hand, shakes with fear and hyperventilates like a steam train.

I did the four charity shops in no time then stopped off at the bakery of a cricket friend and bought the children and M a freshly baked farmhouse loaf. The smell of it on the way home was tantalising. I won't be eating any of it. I might, however, have a small piece of the shortbread I am going to attempt to make with gluten free flour and dairy free butter using the shortbread mould I found today for an absolute song; £1.50. I think they are quite expensive new.

I'm quite pleased with the oak candlestick I found too. Whoever labelled it 'Lincolnshire Oak' probably didn't have their reading glasses on at the time. There's a small printed label on the bottom that says 'Cornish Oak'. Either way I am happy. Another bargain at £1.50. For someone who loves candles I only have one other candlestick that will hold these single traditionally sized candles.

The limed oak photo frame was another £1.50 find. It fits in well here with other limed oak frames. I've been meaning to frame some more current snaps. Apart from the children's school and county cricket portraits all the photo's on display go back to when they were very small! Perfect for embarrassing them when their friends visit!

Finally I added to my rustic pottery collection. The blue mottled and green striped mugs are today's finds. The latter is marked underneath and comes from Bideford. A place in Devon that I've been to numerous times as a child. The salt and pepper pots are in unused condition and cost 50p each. I like the fact they fill from the top; so much easier.

Flowers from my lovely husband. (Wonder if he was feeling guilty about not lifting a finger while we were away?)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Blue finds...

We had a gloriously sunny day here in the UK today. Still very very cold but the sun makes such a difference. I had planned a big clear out but the sun was too good to waste so I decided to go for a walk. A city walk this time, rather than a country lane one.

It did take me a couple of hours to actually leave the house (so frustrating!), but I still had plenty of the day left. I drove to the old part, the Cathedral area and parked up. Having pretty much skirted the entire town, the long way, I was still feeling energetic so popped into a couple of charity shops on my way back.

I can never resist a good basket or a coastal read. I usually like my baskets more rustic but the chipped blue paint on the metal handles of this 'find' won me over. It would be perfect for filling with Easter gifts but we tend not to do Easter in a big way so it's probably destined to be a bread basket for the dining room table. The paint matches the colour of two of our mismatched dining chairs.

I also bought two more random pottery mugs for my collection. They have survived the dishwasher so they are good to use. I must photograph these some time. Chunky pottery is a love or hate thing it seems. Dad wouldn't enjoy drinking out of them, nor would my Nan have done, she sought out a proper china cup and saucer for a holiday cottage we once rented which only supplied chunky pottery mugs. Nan always did have class.

The book has planted the idea of a visit to the coast on M's next day off. A bracing walk then back to the car for a flask of tea and a picnic. Promise of a good picnic is all it will take to persuade M!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Waffling away...

It's amazing how quickly this blanket has grown. You can just about see here that I've got to finish the charcoal grey stripe before I begin to make the exact same piece all over again, with the colours in a different order. Mmmh, this is beginning to feel like second sock syndrome; it's never as much fun, but I think I will be spurred on by Jake's enthusiasm for the finished article.

I like the stitch so much I am planning a new cowl with some black aran wool I've had lying around for a while. The advantages of the stitch are that It is double sided, works up quickly, creates a gentle waffle texture that is nice and warm and interesting to look at. Another bonus is that you could easily leave the edges without a border and it would look tidy enough. I quite like the fact that it isn't (to the untrained eye) too obviously crochet.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Ticket to ride...

I forgot to tell you about our little run in with the ticket men at Liverpool station. Bear in mind that I won't even hover on a double yellow line for two seconds let alone try and cheat on a child's rail ticket!

I went through the gates first showing my ticket and stepped to one side, out of the flow of people, to wait for Ella. She was right behind me but had been asked to step aside to a third ticket inspector. I quickly went over and explained that she was with me. He politely asked how old she was and there was a worrying pause while he looked her up and down before he decided to let us proceed.

It never occurred to me that they would question her age. I suppose she does look older than 15 at times. Sixteen is the cut off point if you're not familiar with UK rules. Is this the same in other countries? Do let me know. If they had decided not to believe us we had absolutely nothing on us that would have proved otherwise.

Would Mr Chubbs, discretely travelling in her E's suitcase, have been enough to convince them? He was mighty happy to be back home and lying comfortably against his favourite bear cushion, occasionally flicking through E's latest reading matter. He doesn't know what Ella sees in John. He thinks Paul is far better looking.

Half term treats...

Ella and I both had a little pocket money saved for half term. We rarely shop, and when we do we usually have the men with us. It was nice to have that space and to go slightly mad just this once. I am usually the one in our household who watches the pennies. M is slightly more extravagant. Though I am a firm believer that there are some things not worth buying cheaply.

We didn't plan to buy footwear but Ella has been deliberating over buying her first pair of Dr Martens for some time, worried that they would make her feet look huge. When we came across a Dr Martens shop we agreed she should try a pair on for fun. Walking up and down the shop in them she said, 'Drat, I love them!' Her feet have been the same size for the last two or three years so we reckoned they have stopped growing. My daughter is so much cooler than I was at her age!

I certainly didn't expect to buy anything in there myself but then spotted the boots of my dreams! Wow, so comfortable! I rarely treat myself but with Ella's encouragement we both walked out of there with big brown paper bags and big smiles all round!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Liverpool part two...

Where to begin? I went through a bit of a Beatles phase when I was much younger and played singles on my grandparents record player. They didn't have many by the Beatles but it was the start of listening to music that I could actually make sense of ie. music that didn't drown out the voices. Stories to tell. It introduced me to 40s, 50s and 60s sounds which I then secretly listened to for years, whilst all my friends were listening to much cooler stuff like The Smiths, Eurythmics and Prince.

Now of course I am so glad I did listen to that kind of music as it has a timeless kind of quality with a feel good vibe. My ears work less efficiently now so I rely on my memory to fill in the gaps so to speak. It means I can still listen to the Beatles, Roy Orbison, Cat Stevens... And a few others, and still make sense of it. Other music sounds like machinery to me. When Ella played her music through speakers in our hotel room I instinctively looked towards the kettle and couldn't understand why it wasn't showing a red light. That's what I assumed the noise was.

Anyway, back to Liverpool and an over emotional teenage Beatles fan. She was practically in tears with excitement when we descended the steps into The Beatles Story with Hey Jude playing loudly on outdoor speakers. We stopped and read every single last word, and there were a lot of words. The early years were most interesting and towards the end Ella actually saw and heard John Lennon speak for the first time. She was mesmerised.

I can't tell you what The Fab4D Experience was like because when we got there it was out of action due to a technical fault. There was however, an exhibition of Beatles photographs which had never been shown to the public until now which was pretty good.

The third photo shows the inside of the Yellow Submarine. I took some great 'proper' photographs of Ella in there, with her digital SLR camera but she's not keen to be on my blog.

It was quite difficult to photograph anything at all due to low lighting levels and the many German and Russian visitors we went in with. They all chose to use the audio commentary devices so they seemed to drift through the exhibitions like Zombies which was rather eerie. We were the only two without headphones on and able to chat to each other!

The most exciting site we visited had to be the Cavern Club. It was impossible to take a photo, it was quite busy when we went and there was a live act on stage with crowds watching (he was rubbish according to Ella!). It really did feel like stepping back in time.

So we return with a few souvenirs. Ella has fabric patches, stickers, postcards and a sweatshirt.

So much for a day of recovery yesterday. I spent four hours just cleaning up after the men. I can't even begin to describe the state of the house and why they thought it was all acceptable. It's a mystery to me.

I will show you our non Beatles purchases tomorrow.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Liverpool part one...

I write from the comfort of a superkingsize bed with fluffy feather duvet and large cushions. I have never ached more. As my good blog friend T warned me; there's a lot of walking in Liverpool!

People seem to spend a lot of time complaining about the train services in this country but we only found it to be a good experience. It was a little busy at times but it is half term; lots of small children visiting lots of big museums.

All our trains were on time. All were clean. All the staff were helpful, friendly and polite. Not all the passengers were a delight though. The worst being a badly behaved 5 year old who only had to stamp his feet for anything he wanted. One of the things he wanted was an overpriced KitKat from the buffet trolley which was given to him without a wrapper to prevent the chocolate melting all over his hands. Since his spatial awareness was non existent we had to quickly move magazines and belongings from the table to prevent a sticky disaster, and what did the Mother have to sort his hands out with? One tissue. Useless. Surely everyone knows wipes are an essential piece of survival kit with children until they are at least ten!

I last visited Liverpool with Ella when she was seven, which was eight years ago. Since then they have built Liverpool One which can be seen in the photos below. An architecturally stunning shopping area which I imagine is even nicer in sunny weather as it is a sort of indoor/outdoor type thing with some grassy areas incorporated. It was nice lit up at night too.

Whilst the shopping area was unrecognisable the dockside hadn't changed at all and we were able to identify the spot where Ella was photographed at seven years at Albert Dock with a big ice cream in her hand.

Beatles attractions don't seem to be promoted by leaflets in Liverpool which is a bit of an oversight since we didn't learn about the magical mystery tours until we were there and had already planned our itinerary. Mind you, tours on coaches or open top buses are useless for me unless they have a printed version of the audio commentary.

It was perishing cold for the entire trip which meant we actually purchased a thermal layer for Ella. Even so it was a very bracing walking alongside the river from The Beatles Story to The Fab 4D Experience. You cannot walk anywhere in Liverpool without seeing a Lambanana. Don't ask me what these are all about, it passed me by last time too! (4th photo)

On the subject of cold again, you can see Ella in the final photo wearing a fleece all in one (a onesie) as she defrosts in our hotel room. She was so cold out walking that she announced she was going to buy one of these and wear it on top of her ultra cool clothes just to be warm, thankfully she waited until after a hot bath!

It was a nice chance to have some quality Mother/Daughter time. We played a card quiz game one evening and laughed our heads off. We did face packs another night and laughed even harder. Mainly though, we read our books and savoured the lack of disturbances that the men and dog usually provide!

I will post some of our Beatles related snaps in the next post.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Beatles crochet...

E and I are off to Liverpool tomorrow. We have done this exact same journey/trip before when E was about 6 or 7. There was some kind of children's week or children's festival on with lots of events all over the city, including a fantastic gruesome body type exhibition with a gigantic nose that seeped green slime. Just perfect for children of that age! I can't believe I was mad enough to travel all that way by train with a small child but I suppose the train journey was one of the most exciting aspects for E back then with everything of interest along the way pointed out!

This time, instead of sitting opposite a small girl with golden brown wispy curls and bright purple clothes (she wouldn't wear anything but purple at that age) I will be sitting opposite a teenager with jet black straightened hair wearing a black leather jacket and black converse creepers on her feet. Thankfully no tattoos or facial piercings.

These days E likes journeys wearing headphones. This suits me fine. I have a big thick book to read, and I am also thinking of taking a project that requires just one hook and one ball of yarn. Maybe something appropriate...

A crocheted record album!

Image 1 from:

Image 2 from:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Walking back to happiness...

These photo's were taken on our old coach road walk. E and her friend walking, chatting. J in shorts kicking a ball to M. It turned out to be the calm before the storm. Such is life with big children, dare I say, teenage. I think I gave my parents a run for their money at fifteen too.

Leaving father and daughter to sort out their own mess I did a sort of 'Harold Fry' yesterday afternoon. I stepped out for a sunny walk round the village and ended up having a sunny walk round three villages!

This is quite an achievement for me, on my own, since even for walks round the village it is sometimes difficult to leave the house. The weather was undoubtedly an incentive. I think it was about ten degrees with blazing sunshine. I actually smiled at the sheer pleasure of it. I set off with a thin coat on which was soon taken off, and just like Harold Fry I left the house wearing totally unsuitable footwear for a long walk. My usual every day boots have never given me any discomfort - until I walked six miles in them!

I am now sporting a huge unburst blister on the back of my heel which I am hoping will heal in time for our trip on Wednesday. E and I are setting off by train to Liverpool for a couple of days. She is a big Beatles fan so we will be doing all the related attractions.

Meanwhile M will be ferrying J to and from.... Yes you've guessed it, cricket training! Five solid days of cricket training. The smile on his face this morning says he is in cricket heaven.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Fresh air...

There's a whole lot of walking going on round here. The temperatures are ever so slightly up, the sun is out. It's very uplifting after all the snow, ice, sleet, rain and face freezing temperatures.

These photo's were taken on an old coach lane near to where we live. It is reputed to be haunted too but it's not at all spooky in the day time.

We had a glorious hour or two walking along, with the children and the dog and not an iPod or iPad in sight! There was a football but that was a small price to pay for prising Jake away from the Xbox.

Harvey was pleased to find a large puddle of course!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Simple crochet...

Sooner or later the little cogs in my brain will tell me that I need a more stimulating crochet challenge but for now I am content to triple crochet up and down (triple triple double to be more precise). It grows incredibly quickly which is surprising for quite a dense stitch.

After six colours I will be casting on for the other half of this blanket which will be constructed exactly the same way but with the colours in a different order. I can't quite see it in my mind but I think it will work out ok. Jake is checking the progress daily.

Kermit has his eye on it too.

...and yes that is actual sunshine in the second photograph. Remarkable isn't it?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Here today and gone tomorrow...

The more it
The more it
The more it

And Nobody
How cold my
Are Growing.

It came, it came down fast, we slept, it melted, it melted fast. It is now sunny.

Four inches of snow just disappeared overnight. The weather forecast predicted all this of course, there are no surprises anymore.

...and so my crochet blanket for Jake grows.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Winter walks, step by step...

Step one: leave your perfectly good 4x4 car at home and take the just cleaned family car two miles up a dirt track with more pot holes than tarmac.

Step two: breathe in the arctic air and make pleasant remarks about the lovely trees (husband doesn't give a toss about trees because he is wearing totally inadequate footwear).

Step three: tell the dog that if he thinks you are taking your gloves off in this weather to throw a muddy stick he can think again, then throw it a hundred times anyway.

Step four: come across lovely footbridge with rope and think how nice this area will be in twenty years time when the thousands of new saplings have grown.

Step five: admire teasel heads and try and take an arty photograph of them (and fail miserably)

Step six: try taking arty photograph of afore mentioned bridge instead and blame the weather and low light levels for dull photo.

Step seven: get out of the way fast when dog finds suitably deep and muddy puddle to hurtle through.

Step eight: load stinking, shivering, soaking wet dog into boot of car and remark (with totally numb face) how lovely the walk and fresh air had been.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Simplified granny hexagon...

I've had a pattern request for the colourful hexagons I was experimenting with recently. It's always nice to hear from blog readers. As a result I will now be attempting a written pattern! I have called it a simplified granny hexagon because there are quite a few variations out there and a lot of them seem to use 3dctogs or puff clusters. I have dispensed with that and used dc (us) or tr (uk) throughout. It is much easier to remember if you put it down for a week and come back to it!

Blogger for the iPad has improved considerably lately but I am still waiting patiently for more control over photo placement. Currently I can only place them after the text. I could get round this by doing multiple posts but that would be a bore to link back to, so I will just have to hope you can work out which pictures correspond to which bits of the pattern. It is fairly obvious because most rounds begin in a new colour. So here goes...

Using yarn and appropriate hook (I used DK with a 4mm hook)
I am using U.S. terminology simply because that was preferred by my lovely blog reader who requested the pattern.

1st colour: Start with a magic circle, ch 3, 11dc (U.S. terminology), slip stitch (ss) in 3rd st of initial 3ch, fasten off.

2nd colour: in any space between dc's - ch 3, dc in same space, 2dc in each space around (12 pairs of dc's) ss in top ch of initial 3 ch as before, fasten off.

3rd colour: ch3 (counts as first dc) 3dc in each space between pairs of dc's. ss as before, fasten off.

4th colour: ch3, * ss in 1st space between 3dc group, repeat from * to end, ending with a ss under the first 3ch made, ch3.

Shape hexagon as follows: corners are 3dc, 2ch, 3dc and 3dc in between each corner. Making sure that you work by placing hook under each ch3 made on previously made.

Looking at the photos should make things much clearer. I am not a professional pattern writer so don't hesitate to let me know if I have made a mistake somewhere.

If you don't like magic circle starts you can just as easily chain 3, 4 or 5 and join to make a circle, then dc into the circle 12 times.

If you already know how to join as you go this will obviously be undertaken in the final round. Be warned, it is quite fiddly with hexagons!