Thursday, 14 September 2017

Being Adventurous

Last Saturday morning was sunny, warm but a little breezy as the 50+ Adventure Club met at Canoe2 at Rushden Lakes to canoe the River Nene.  We were fitted with  our buoyancy aid, given a paddle and each boat had a barrel for personal belongings and some had small ones.  I had brought my lunch, a drink, my phone and car keys which went in the big barrel but I kept my camera in a small one.
No, the dog did not go with us!

We had the usual safety briefing and then decided which way to go.  Originally it was planned that we would go upstream to Wellingborough, but we were advised against this as the first lock was 375 metres for the portage which is a long way to carry a heavy Canadian canoe, even with the wheels provided.  So downstream we would go.

After leaving the Rushden Lake (a short portage of 10metres, watched by visitors, so we tried to look professional!) we entered the river.  It was so tranquil
with the sun shining and hardly any breeze.  We went past the first lock with everyone helping to manhandle the canoes out and then into the water, when we saw this canoe coming back - why?
Their set of wheels were floating away and needed rescuing!!!

We approached the A6 viaduct over the valley
Note the black sky!!
and then behind that Irthlingborough's Old Bridge 

The sky was getting blacker to our left and there was thunder and lightning in the distance, but we kept on - well we had nowhere else to go!!

Then Irthlingborough Lock came into view and the decision was made to stop here for lunch because it was just starting to rain and how!  A deluge!  The boats were taken out of the water
This photo was taken after lunch but the sky is still grey!

and we all sheltered where we could
Under scrubby bushes
In the lee of the lock gate - note the rain on the lens!
Where is she going - sorry I shouldn't ask!
It poured for half an hour and then just as we finished our sandwiches the sun came out, so back in to the canoes.

Most of us decided to take a detour up Stanwick Backwater but once I saw this
I knew where we were and we decided to turn round and head for home.  I know that there is a lock a few hundred yards on and we didn't need to carry our canoe again.

It was a wonderful afternoon and on the return trip we saw a kingfisher, herons, an egret and a huge flock of Canada Geese taking off with a great deal of noise  However the highlight for me was when we were on a very still bit of water and I noticed a twig floating along, but it was moving and then I realised it was a snake swimming across  the river.  Only a gentle grass snake but really exciting to see it.

The sky was getting black again as we paddled very fast across Rushden Lake back to base and as I got into the car the heavens opened, but it hadn't stopped us having a great afternoon!!

I have also been smocking, embroidering, crocheting and sewing machining, but this will have to wait until another time!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The end of the holidays!

In the UK the school summer holidays have just come to an end and all my grandchildren started back today.  I have received photos of them in their school uniforms and two of them are starting new schools.  The eldest is my grandson who goes to his secondary school and is cycling there on his own; how he has grown up lately and the youngest is joining her sister at a new school.  She too, looked so grown up.  Good luck to them all.

However on Monday I had the two 'Cambridge' grandchildren for the day and when my son and daughter in law dropped them off we had the grand removal of the plaster on 'Es' arm that she fractured whilst in my care at the beginning of the holidays (see my last blog)!!  I had decided to take them down to Rushden Lakes and hire a pedalo from Canoe2, however in the meantime I had a call from my niece and as she was free we met up including her two boys.  This meant war and needless to say a race ensued, after a bit of practice.

I think we won.  In these two photos we were practising and taking pictures of each other!!  We had already had a walk round the lake so after this it was back to my house for lunch and a great day was had by all, even if I did have wobbly legs after all the pedalling!!

I am back there on Saturday as the 50+ Adventure club are having a canoeing afternoon on the River Nene.  Hopefully no-one, especially me, will fall in.  I have canoed with the club before - down the River Wye, on the River Nene from Oundle to Fotheringhay and on the River Severn from Bridgnorth.  I regret to say that on the trip down the Severn my partner and I did capsize, but luckily we were on a sandbank and the water only came up to our knees!  We were still a little damp for the return journey on the Severn Valley Railway!!

At the end of August the Mini Mania group showed of their 'makes', but yours truly had cheated like mad.  The topic was " the Seaside" and we could do anything that we wanted to. 

Back in 2010 I went on a Pat Archibald workshop called 'Banks and Braes' and using a photo from the year before I made this
'Sandcastle at Holkham'

The photo had been taken on a holiday the year before when we went to Holkham Beach and the tide was out and so my son and grandson built a sandcastle.  I used foils and glue balls with gold sprinkled over and finished with machine embroidery.  I love this piece and thought it was very apt for the subject matter for Mini Mania.  By the way, this is the same grandson going off to his secondary school and his back view on the pedalo!!

September's Mini Mania is 'Circles' and we can do anything we like and I have a few ideas, but putting them into practice maybe a little more difficult. 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Out and about

August has been a deliberately quiet month for me and I planned it that way.  I tried to organise my diary that I had time to myself in order to do what I wanted to do and this included lots of sewing.  I have made 12 hospital gowns or pyjamas for Pyjama Fairies mainly because in September I am giving a talk about the charity to a women's group and  needed some garments to show them.  I have also sat outside on the patio and read a book or two and I have also looked after my grandchildren as it is the school holidays and thereby hangs a tale.

I had the children at the start of the holidays so decided to let them do the high ropes at a local park.  I went to book them in and they went to the playground.  Next thing I heard was E wailing as she had fallen off a roundabout.  Well after a visit to hospital it was discovered she had fractured her elbow and so had to spend their 2 week Mexican holiday in plaster and all under Granny's watch!!

I looked after them last week and decided to go to Wimpole Hall and Farm and we all enjoyed the day out -
first at the playground, then feeding the squealing pigs

watching the cow being milked

and they loved it!  After lunch I made a bargain with my grandson - we could go to the adventure playground if we then went and looked round the Hall, that was my treat for the day.

Do you know what - they loved looking round the house and this was entirely down to the 'guides' in each room who provided really interesting information for them.  My grandson was impressed when I got full marks for knowing that the last owner, Mrs Bambridge was the daughter of Rudyard Kipling.  Well I knew that from my trip to Batemans so was that cheating?!!  The children learnt about the 'trompe l'eoil' painting and why the backs of some of the doors had rough baize - so that the servants were aware they were entering the posh  part of the house (it was also sound proofing as well).  It was such a success that I might take them to other places.

Tuesday was my day for looking after Will and as the weather was good I decided that he would like Castle Ashby again.  This time we arrived as the Meerkats were going to be fed. 
Looking for the keeper with food!!
 While we waited we looked at the -

The Kunekune pigs
and we saw a very large rabbit with enormous ears.  Will shouted that he could see another one
Digging a hole
Almost there
Gone underground!!
that was digging this hole and immediately disappeared underground!!
It was now time to return to the meerkats who we racing round their enclosure and getting very excited.  They are not fed there, but pass through a tunnel to another pen for feeding but one meerkat was always trying to get through the tunnel which was blocked
and then at last they were through -

I wondered what they were fed on -
Grubs that were alive and wriggling!!

Will and I also saw this field of 'elephants' that he loved.
A sculpture of four adults and one baby elephant.

What impressed me the most however, was that when we walked through the gardens he asked me if we could go and see the Mulberry Bush!!  I was gobsmacked that he remembered from April and he is only three!  Maybe it was because we sang the Nursery Rhyme "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush etc"  We sang it again, needless to say.

August Mini Mania is due to be shown tomorrow, but alas dear reader, I have cheated.  I will explain all when next I blog.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Charity giving

This is a complete departure from my normal writing and I hope you will forgive me for including something so personal, and quite short, on my blog page.

My sister has had Alzheimer's for  2.5 years but we knew that something was wrong long before that: little things like repeating a story and thinking it was the first time.  What is more distressing is that she knows that she has it and even now becomes very upset and tearful because she knows that it is incurable.  There is only 19 months difference in age between us and as so many children do, we fought and quarrelled together, but as we grew older we would talk on the phone for hours and go out together. 

It upsets me now that I cannot ring her and have a telephone conversation because she no longer remembers what goes on from day to dayWhat is worse, she is forgetting what happened in the past.

Around 225,000 people develop dementia in the UK every year - that's equivalent to one person every three minutes and so in September I am taking part in the Alzheimer Society's Memory Walk to raise money to try and develop a world without dementia.  The walk itself is only 8kms (5 miles) but it is the fundraising that is so important.

So please support me by going to my fundraising page and donating

Thank you so much and I hope that the link works!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Kent Weekend part 2 and other things

As promised here is the second part of my Kent weekend even if it was weeks ago, plus a few other items.

The weather was glorious whilst I was in Kent and on Saturday we went to Rye in the morning, and after a coffee we went on another tour of this lovely, and historic hilltop town, with its cobbled streets.  Well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
No enhancements, this was the colour of the sky!! 

What we were doing at the same time was 'geocaching' which is a brilliant way of getting children out walking and keeping their interest.  You require a GPS phone and an app and then find the cache nearest to you.  I think we found two in Rye.

Our next stop for geocaching was in Biddenden and we found one near the village and then walked into their Millennium Field where the children raced on ahead looking for the first cache
 When we found the second in the field we also discovered this wonderful sundial -
Each square on the plinth is a month, which you stand on
Yes, it was 4.00 in the afternoon, standing on July!
"Walk in the sun now and always" for December/January
On Sunday we took a picnic and headed to Fairlight church.  We had our picnic on the Downs with the church on one side and the lifeboat lookout on the other

and in the distance Camber Sands
and then climbed the tower.

What I was not expecting was this -
The Carillon
but I did have a go and played a reasonable rendition of Amazing Grace using the music that you can see behind the wires.  The children also had a go and we did feel sorry for people living nearby who had to put up with the awful noise of the church bells, badly played, at weekends. We were actually playing the church bells because we passed them on our way to the top of the tower.
Looking North

Looking South with the English Channel in the background
What a wonderful and hot weekend.

A few days later I went by train to York with three friends.  We spent the morning walking round the wonderful streets. 
Love the overhanging upper floors
Georgian facades

We walked the old city walls
York Minster in the background

The front façade
After a short tour of the Minster, the Chapter House and Crypt we headed for Betty's where we had to queue for delicious 'Afternoon Tea' and fell into conversation with two Chinese girls who had no idea what to do with the tea strainer!!  We advised them how to cope with the jam and cream on a scone and discovered that the Chinese think that the English only talk about the weather and always carry an umbrella.  We didn't have an umbrella between the four of us!!  We had a great outing and lots of talking, but not about the weather.
I must go back to York for a longer visit - too much to see and do in a day.
Craft has rather been on the back burner during these summer months as I have been working on the vegetable garden in Cambridge. I am not sure whether I mentioned that during the Spring my son decided to turn the 'veg patch' into raised beds
In the foreground bed, potatoes mounded up, with carrots and beetroot covered
He has planted sunflowers around the edges of the beds

and this one is about 7 foot high with an enormous head.  We have been harvesting lots of vegetables, with more to come.

I did manage to complete the July Mini Mania, 'New York Beauty', but it was hard work.  It even had hand sewing in it, that I loathe doing in my patchwork.  I quite openly admit that I am cheating for August's mini but no more on that until the end of the month!
July - New York Beauty's nod to the Hungry Caterpillar!