Tuesday 28 July 2015

Rain rain go away

Hello lovely friends and readers :)
We're enjoying a lovely holiday at the moment back home in Northern Ireland. Or Norn Irn as we like to say :)  The word "home" has a couple of different meanings for me. If I'm in England, I'll walk "home" from dropping the children to school, or I'll drive "home" from the shops. But, equally, I might say to someone "at home we have brown lemonade" and in that context I mean Norn-Irn-home. When in Norn Irn I'll sigh and say "gah. It's sunny back at home" (England-home). Also when I'm at home (England) I will talk about going "home" (Norn-Irn-home) and when in Norn Irn I'll sigh and say "boo, we have to go home next week" (England-home). But if I ever talk about Home-home, I mean Norn Irn. Got it ???!!? 

Anyway when I said it was sunny back at home, I was alluding to the fact that it's been drizzle-drizzle-drizzle since we got here, interspersed with heavy showers just to mix it up a bit. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being at home (Norn-Irn-home) but it would be even better if it was a bit drier. Actually it's not usually this bad. We go home (NI) most years in the summer and this year has been the wettest ever. Oh well, it could be worse, we could be camping !! And at least the birds are happy!!

We've managed lots of fun despite the incessant rain. We've gone swimming - and met more Norn-Irn'ers who live in England who are home (NI) for a holiday; we've gone to the cinema with my cousin and her Little People - lots of mixup with tickets resulting in a set of free tickets for next week - result ! ; and visiting with my bro, sis-in-law and little nephew. Little Nephew is my Little People's only cousin, he is only 4 and is ToTaLlY GoRgEoUs - my lot completely adore him and the feeling is mutual. We spent a great evening with them, with a (rather damp) barbeque - golf umbrella anyone ???!!! We're staying at my parents' house - they are away at the moment so we are house-sitting for them. When they get back we move into a holiday home for a week, we don't really all fit into their house any more.

Even though it's not too sunny we've enjoyed lots of ice-cream. It is a holiday after all. This one was bubblegum flavoured apparently. Eurgh. But I do like the cone :)

And there have been lattes for the grown-ups of course ...

... and we've stayed in a bit and just chilled, with some new colouring stuff.

I've taken advantage of the new grown-up colouring that's taken over the world! I've always loved doing a sneaky bit of colouring in the children's books, finally I don't have to keep it secret any more !!

I'm loving this birdhouse design, I've decided to make it into a cushion when I get home (perhaps with less fancy brickwork though ....)

Next to crochet and craft, my other favourite thing is shopping. Any kind of shopping, and in fact, the cheaper the better. I do love a bargain! There are loads of local shops here that are dead cheap, pound-shop type of places, we do have them over at home in England too, but I don't usually go as they're in the town-centre and I rarely venture that far (its at least 4 miles for heavens sake, the local shops are about a mile and thats as far as I go - how adventurous!!

Anyway. The cheap shops had loads of those grown-up colouring books, and nice new pens ....

... and loads of craft bits and pieces .... these packs were £1 each ....

.... and some totally bargainous craft books. I treated myself to the Dressmaking book as blogged about by Jo here (http://joeveryday19.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/in-navy.html), and also I bought the Mollie Makes "Woodland Friends" book. Normally £12, I bought it for £3 :)

I've coveted this Mollie Makes book for ages but really couldn't justify it (yes, there are limits to my spending), but this price was perfectly ok! And look, how cute....

and Haaaaaalelujah - a couple of the shops also sold yarn! Hurrah! Hurray! Deep joy! Okay so its cheap (obviously) but at £1 a ball AND at 3-for-2 (I know, I know!! total bargain!!) I couldn't really walk past it now could I. I'll show you the somewhat limited colours I bought another time. But I decided to use this pink to make a cowl. Not sure how the colour shows up here, but its a sort of rosy dusky pink.

As I mentioned its been drizzle-drizzle-drizzle since we got here, interspersed with heavy showers just to mix things up a bit, and my cagoule/raincoat thing has this butterfly pattern on it ...

(incidentally at school we always called them pac-a-macs but people look a it weirdly at me in England when I call it that so I'm not sure if its a Northern Irish thing or a kiddy thing ??!!).

Anyway I had also bought some crochet magazines here that I struggle to get easily at home (without traipsing into town I mean) ....

.... and in one of them is the "Everyday Cowl" ... so I got started ....

I know what you're thinking - you said you were doing it in pink Jill" .... yes I was, but I bought the magazine first, then some nice grey yarn in some cheapy shop or other, and I started the cowl in grey. I love how the first row or two looks a bit like a DNA strand. Now I know how to crochet DNA should the need ever arise.

So anyway I then bought the pink yarn the next day, and decided that a pink cowl would go better with the pac-a-mac. Its not that warm here either, as well as being not that dry. So I started the cowl in the pink last night.....

Pink DNA. Excellent. So I finished nearly the first ball of pink yarn and it looks like this ....

Really pretty. Lovely, even, but seriously short. So I went back to the shop where I got the pink yarn - and yes - of course - No Pink Left. Argh. There was however grey. Just not quite the same grey as the first grey. Which I also didn't have enough of. So "Oh Dear" I said, "I shall just have to buy More Yarn". Is this actually some kind of obsessive compulsive yarn addiction I have ? So after this post I'm starting it for the third time. In the new grey. Good job I enjoy crocheting, eh ?!

Sunday 19 July 2015

Strawberry Lace Scarf

This weekend I've finished and blocked the Strawberry Lace Scarf. I'm so pleased with how it's turned out :) I might have to make myself one. Or possibly two.

As mentioned in a previous post it's from the Crochet Noro book. Its a beautiful book, every single project in it is divine, the pictures are glorious, it makes you want to rush out and buy as much yarn as you can get your hands on (nothing new there then).

Look how crinkly the scarf looked before blocking ....

Here it is pinned out on my blocking boards. I use those foam tile things for kids, you know the ones you can join together, my lot make hopscotch with them in the garden. Don't worry, they aren't muddy, I bought myself a whole pack Just. For. Blocking.

I love how blocking transforms something from a shrivelled up mess into a gorgeous piece of gorgeousness :)

It is a tad (ie a LoT) longer after blocking than I'd anticipated, however I do think that for a scarf it is better to err on the side of too long. Nothing worse than a short scarf, is there.

The scarf is a present for Little Man's mentor, Mrs W. Mrs W. has been so good with him this year, hubby and I are so grateful. She deserves a medal but hopefully a scarf is even better. I hope she likes it :)

Friday 17 July 2015

The Vyne

Earlier this week my dear Friend and I had a visit to the Vyne, a National Trust Property not too far from us. You can read about one of my previous visits to the Vyne here.

Friend and I both have NT membership and usually use it with our respective families, meaning that we never really get to look around the actual houses very much, as we are usually dealing with small ones running off, or older ones declaring they're bored. But this time we had no offspring in tow, it was just the two of us with cameras, chat, and a thirst for a good cuppa.

The Vyne, and by that I mean the house itself, dates back to Tudor times (1600's), although it has had many changes since - you can read a bit more of its history here.

The house is set before a lovely ornamental lake - you can just see the house peeping through on left in the picture above. The Trust have very thoughtfully provided loads of "proper" deckchairs - we decided next time we will bring a proper picnic in a proper picnic hamper :)

The Canadian geese looked a bit hungry, so we didn't hang around as we had no food for them ....

The grounds are beautiful, as you would expect in any NT maintained property :)

We had a very leisurely stroll followed by a cream tea - yum! (For my friends overseas a "cream tea" means a scone with jam and clotted cream (naughty!) and a pot of tea with which to wash it down :)

Next to the tea-room is the shop, I loved these metallic garden ornaments ....

Fortified with tea and scones we went for a mooch around the house. I wasn't able to get many good photographs as flash photography is not allowed, but here are a few that I did manage. I loved how the rooms are all interconnected, you can see the full length of the house looking down through the doorways.

In one of the rooms there was a pianist playing, how lovely!

I spotted this beautiful embroidery on the covering of a chair ....

My favourite part of the house was the Chapel. The Chapel itself was only used by the priest and the choir - the members of the household could join in the service from a raised gallery which was screened off, and the the staff of the house had to sit in a different room altogether. In the Chapel there is some fabulous stained glass which dates back to the 1600's.

The top panels all depict religious images, the bottom panels are of Tudor scenes - of King Henry VIII and various wives. Only one tiny area has been replaced, the rest is original, yes that means it's been there for 400 years. 400 YEARS ! I find that absolutely staggering.

On the floor, in front of where the choir would sit, is some amazing mosaic tiling - it is believed to be Roman ....

My next favourite bit of the house was a series of small rooms that the NT have turned into one of their famed second-hand bookshops. What is it about a bookshop - I could spend hours and hours and hours browsing around, I think its the randomness, you never know when you will find just the right book. I loved how they had the main bookshop, and then "more books" ....

Actually there was another room with all the "yet-to-be-sorted" books, where there were a couple of staff members sorting out what I assume were boxes of donated books. Oh my word, I would have LOVED to have been let loose in there! Anyway I managed to find 3 paperbacks which I will probably take on holidays, and there was a 3 for 2 offer so they cost me £2 total - oooooh I love a good bargain.

Back outside we spotted the same tree that I'd noticed on my previous visit ....

Apparently this tree has stood for quite some time - during the time of Trafalgar (early 1800's), the then owner of the house, William Chute, was offered 100 pounds and then 100 guineas for the tree for timber (presumably for ships), he refused both offers and the tree still stands. A mere 200-plus years old! Look at that crazy angle at which its leaning, its amazing it can hold itself up.

We also had a peek inside the summerhouse. This would have been used as a shelter from which to admire the garden, or as a cosy place to retreat to after dinner, and in more recent times (1800's) it was used as a dovecote. The timbers in the roof have been dated back to the 1600's so it too has been standing a very long time.

There's a flowerbed close by which reflects the shape of the summerhouse ....

.... the pink flowers are geraniums ... imagine planting all of those!!!

We wended our way back dwon the tree-lined path, and onwards home after a very relaxing and reviving day :)

I'll be posting with crochet updates over the weekend, til then byeeeeeeeee