Sunday, 24 February 2013

My lovely James

I though long and hard about whether to write about this part of my life.  My blog is my happy place and is about the enjoyable parts of my life, but it doesn't feel right not to include why this is such a significant day for me and why.  I clearly talk a lot about my lovely son Dan who is the light of my life but I was actually mum to 2 wonderful boys.  Our lovely James who was older than Dan by 2 1/2 years died over 6 years ago at the age of 17.  Today would have been his 24th birthday and so it is a very sad day for us.  He was brave,  funny, ecentric, loving, loyal, loved computer games, animals, history, Manchester United, his family and his home.  His death was unexpected, due to heart failure.  We miss him terribly and it would make me the happiest person in the world to be able to talk  about my two sons and what we do together.   So for today this is the saddest part of my life and please excuse me for sharing it and also some photos of James.

May 1990
Dan, James and Chris

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Daffodils and doves

There have been some good times over the half term holiday during 3 days off!    Dan wasn't home but I've made the effort to do somethings on my own.

A couple of bits of good luck too!  I won £50 in a local hospice lottery and found £25 in an old jacket.  So armed with some useful cash I went to a big antique Fair at the Reebok stadium which was much enjoyed, although surprisingly exhausting looking at so many stalls to try and make sure you don't miss a gem!  Perhaps Bargain Hunt is more difficult than it looks!  Anyway among my lovely purchases were another transfer cream pot and a jolly jam jar ..

3 vintage broaches, a lovely cup and a really nice collection of victorian and deco greetings cards.  These cost from 50p to £3.00, less than you would spend on a new card and so much nicer.  I actually prefer them when they are written on as there is a history there. 

I particularly like the  art deco poirot and columbine in the centre.
Here's a clue to another visit

.... a host of golden daffodils (well narcissi anyway).  Yes, a visit to Dove Cottage near Grasmere, Wordsworth's house for 8 years.

No inside photos allowed I'm afraid.  It is a very unpreposing, quite dark place but interesting to look round especially some of the items on display; lovely needlecase, opium scales with a phial of Kendal Black (bought from the pharmacy).  It certainly isn't somewhere where you could feel the creative inspiration but orginally it would have had an uninterrupted view of the lake.

As you can see from the photos we have finally had some lovely sun to enjoy walking in.  Spring is definitely in the air.  On my walks I listen to audio books and I've finished 2 this year already.  The Paris Wife, which was about Ernest Hemminway's first wife.  Quite good, but I found the reader's accent a little annoying and also the characters were very egocentric and unsympathetic (6 out of 10)!  More interesting was the Red House by Mark Haddon.  This is quite a small story being about a week's holiday,  but Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the dog in the night) is brilliant at conveying the strange worlds which go on in our minds and the very varied ways we have of perceiving things - his writing gives me food for thought!  (7 out of 10).

I've been knitting quite a bit ... and this looks like I'm knitting very long scarves for little animals ...
... but no, this isn't me knitting for the dogs.  You have to knit 3 of the pieces and then plait them together to make a collar.  This was quite fiddly getting it the right length but I have sort of managed it and here is the finished jumper.
This is quite a plain, straightforward pattern, but as mentioned before I haven't been able to capture how lovely the wool is, so I've pinched a photo from the internet to give a better idea.
  The pattern is Forge by Rowan and I do quite like it.  I love the long sleeves, and its a lovely soft, non-itchy jumper to wear.  It knitted up very loose for me (must be my tension) and this is the small size.
Still working on my epic cross-stitch so an update soon and I hope to be having a go at making some clothes.  So many projects and so little time.  Back to work now but at least it is still light when I come home!  Hope you have lots of sun to enjoy this week.  Many thanks for any comments which are truly lovely to receive.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Birthdays and weddings

February already!  And 2 of my plans already failed!  I wanted to bake a new recipe each month and also try a new savoury recipe.  I can't believe how quickly January went and I didn't get round to either - so I'll try and double up next month.  Here is my first new bake ... salted caramel malted biscuits.

Quite nice, very sticky and impossible to stack!

We have had a birthday, Gemma was 22 and it was her present I've been working on.  She loves VW camper vans and although she can't afford a real one I made her a cross-stitch cushion in her favourite colour with a personalised number plate.  I think it's turned out quite cute, but I must avoid cross-stitches in future which have a lot of white or cream.  It's a nightmare to keep clean and having a house full of pets its so hard to keep all the pet hairs out of the stitch!  I used the cross-stitch as a panel with a green leafy border.

Gemma had the most lovely cake of which this is a bit!  It is her, sitting in a teacup with Rosie and Tess - very impressed!  (Must point out we didn't make this - it was a professional make!).

We've also had a wedding held on one of the few sunny days recently and a really lovely day ... very informal and also a part-scottish day.  We have lived next to the Sharpes for about 16 years and when they moved three years ago we followed them!  They are like our family so it was lovely to see Paula marrying her Kev and both of them so happy.

Not sure what Kev had just said here though!

We all went to the Stich and Hobbycraft show at the Trafford Centre on Saturday.  This is the first one I've been to and I was a little disappointed.  Firstly I think the entrance fee of £8 is rather expensive.  Then the vast majority of the stalls were papercraft which is something I'm not really into.  It was heaving and the few knit or cross-stitch stalls were difficult to get to.  So I enjoyed being let loose in John Lewis much more and ended up with another cup (Pip) which is just the thing to enjoy with a biccie.

I've finished my first book of the year The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year by Sue Townsend which was quite good, funny in parts but the characters are rather annoying, (less endearing than Adrian Mole) so I would give it a 6 out of 10.  I'm hoping to read a book a month this year.

I'm enjoying a few days off this half-term - hope you are too!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

snow and coincidences

Finally I can upload photos after 5 weeks so I should be back to my normal weekly blogging, but this is a 2 and a bit weeks covered in one - so excuse the length.

What a lovely time I've had.  Dan has been here a lot (including the whole of last week)  and it was all the more enjoyable for being a surprise.  So we've had a cosy, chatty time watching films, walking the dogs and just being ... what could be better.

We went to an antique fair which we enjoyed.  It's funny how your own ideas change.  Two years ago I downsized and got rid of loads of stuff, at the time I wanted plain and easy to clean and ended up with a fairly beige, contemporary, plain look.  Recently I've redeveloped an interest in older things.  I've recently bought an art deco sideboard (here it is in the shop), which is side-by-side with modern pieces.  I don't really care if it goes I like it and this has left me looking for some appropriate period bits to display on it. 

I've been on ebay  (again!) and bought another tablecloth.  I certainly don't need it but look at how lovely it is for £4 and one day I think I will have some inspiration to make something new with some old embroidery. 

I got some lovely deco plates for £2 each (can't wait to have some yummy cake on them).  And back to the Fair I bought a beaded purse for no other reason than it's so beautifully made

and a little silver thimble (Charles Horner 1910 if that means anything to you).  A definite magpie with no real plan, I'm afraid.

On the crafty side I have been mostly cross-stitching, but it's a present so I can't show you until the its finished.  It seems to have taken ages and much longer than the stitching guide.  I've been doing a little knitting and the jumper is almost finished.  I love the wool but just can't get a good photo ... this is the best I can manage.

We avoided the snow for ages and then last weekend it stuck with a vengance - some enjoyable snow times.  The dogs love it and you are never too old to build a snowman!  It went as quickly as it came!


I had a lovely night at Queen Elizabeth School Kirby Lonsdale watching their production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  This was one of my favourite musicals and I still remember every line!  We were watching our very, very close friend Michael who has lived next door to us since he was 2 1/2.  Now 17 he has turned out to be very talented - its so lovely to see young people giving their all in a production .... very moving.  Couldn't get any  photos of this production but here's a reminder of the orginial film  ..... I thought Ted Neely (Jesus) was absolutely lovely when I was 18!

I've mentioned before that our cat Meg seems to thing she is a dog, but now she seems to be turning human!  She prefers her water straight from the tap .....
... she's also found a new way of sitting ....

... and it seems to be catching ...

Last weekend I met up with Jilly who won my giveaway!  Not only was it amazing that she lives around 20  miles away but we then found we actually worked for the same small department at Lancaster University around 30 years ago!  Difficult to believe what a small world it is and we had a lovely time looking at the quilting exhibition at  Fairfield Mill.  Jilly also does a lot of different crafts like me (and likes cake!) so I'm looking forward to us meeting again .. the internet is wonderful for making new friends.  Jilly also brought me a gift, a lovely lavender heart ... so I felt like I had won a give away as well.

So that was the last couple of weeks.  Next weekend  I should have a couple of finished things to show.  I've been practicing with close up shots with my macro lens so I'll end with a rose!