Monday, 29 September 2014

A weekend in the Derbyshire Peaks

I have just returned from a long weekend in the Derbyshire Peak District with two friends where we stayed in Tideswell in a very well appointed cottage owned by a friend of mine - end of advertisement!!

We had the most glorious weather the whole weekend, though the mornings were a little chilly. Our first stop on the way was at Chatsworth, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, but we only chose to tour the gardens.  We thought the estate would be closed following the recent death of the Dowager Duchess, but though the flag flew at half mast all was as usual.  They had a display of modern sculptures as well as their permanent ones.

Loved this one!!

On the way to the vegetable garden

Of course their cascade and fountain are world famous and and work entirely by gravity!

Saturday morning was spent in Matlock Bath and we went up the Heights of Abraham in a cable car with some serious views over the surrounding countryside.

On the way down!!
By the time we got to the bottom we needed lunch and found a restaurant where they served small adult portions for only £4.50 - looks like full size to us including the salad.  We struggled to finish this small adult portion!!  However we were able to sit outside in the sun.

Following lunch we headed back to Tideswell but were side-tracked by an embroidery shop and 'Heirs and Graces' a quilt shop with a huge selection of fabrics and a workshop in progress.  We admired their work and chatted, but I regret we didn't buy anything.  On to Cauldwell Mill for a look round and tea, and then I got lost!!  My friends are not map readers so I was driving and map reading and mistook the signs for Ashford in the Water for Ashbourne and found I was travelling South instead of North!!  I corrected myself after 20 minutes or so, turned round and headed back the correct way.

Sunday was hot, hot and getting hotter.  The whole world seemed to be out cycling, walking or motor biking.  I have never seen so many motor bikes as we did in Matlock and again on the road Sunday.  We eventually found the Monsal Trail which is an old railway line used by everyone it seemed.  We were walking and dodging bikes, both adults and children, dogs, and walkers, though we all agreed that the best was when we saw a 'Granny' in a wheelchair sitting on a platform in front of a bike being pedaled by a younger man, who could have been a son/grandson. There is hope for us oldies to get out and about!!  She was enjoying herself as well!!
Big skies from the Monsal Trail

Following this we headed for Bakewell for a Sunday lunch, and no, we did not have a Bakewell pudding or tart.  Too many calories.  Retail therapy beckoned and then we headed back to cottage for a well deserved rest.

BUT just as we headed back to the car in Bakewell, we saw this chap who was completely oblivious to the crowds on the bank of the river, less than 6 feet from him:- 
A grey heron

Oh and this was a sign that Autumn is on the way - 
Wonderful colours

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Online learning

Firstly my apologies for the delay in blogging but I have not had time; another full-on week and I had to schedule time to make a cake.  What is happening - I am supposed to be retired!!

There may not be any photos with this post though something may come to mind!!

Sometime ago I went on holiday to Northumberland and whilst there saw friends and had great food and lots of chat.  One of them knows I love history and mentioned that she was starting a new online learning course about Hadrian's Wall, how it was built and the history of the Romans who built it.  So I signed up for it (it is free) and anyone still can if you wish and I received the first weeks reading/viewing/discussion this week.  It is so interesting and I have learnt an awful lot in this opening session.  I also put in my opinions as well in the discussion forums and was delighted when some people 'Liked' what I said.  There was mention of Twitter but I don't, and have no intention of starting 'Twittering'!!

The only problem with the course is that I now want to go to Hadrian's Wall and Vindolanda where they are still excavating and finding the most fascinating artefacts, including Roman shoes!!!  The Romans first arrived in Britain in AD43 and stayed for about 400 years and at this particular site they built layer upon layer of buildings during the time they were around, never clearing the ground and leaving everything in place and it is because of the anaerobic nature of this that all these items have been preserved. I thought the pieces of Roman roof tile that I have were brilliant but shoes!!!  Incredible.

I have just returned from my U3A Handicrafts group meeting where we had half a day making items for the sales table that we will be having in October.  I am making little tree decorations and did wonder whether I could count my time and charge £100 for it as it has taken me so long to make, .  After falling off their chairs laughing it was decided that about £3.50 would be right.  I find this outrageous, because there were some lovely items being made by everyone, that would be sold for practically nothing.  People in my town expect something well made, by hand, for practically nothing, especially patchwork items and they have no conception of the price of fabric and we can never charge for our time when it is selling for charity.  Sorry, rant over.

A small tree decoration 
Work in progress but lovely fabric
The blanket is progressing slowly especially as I spent all of last weekend undoing four rows that I had done wrong.  Anyway here it is measuring 10 inches now with 300+ stitches to crochet in each row.
Love the bobble row but must make it wider next time.
I am off to charge my batteries over the weekend and there is no internet so I feel that my right arm will be missing but lots to report on next week, though busy all week - again.

Oh and by the way, you may have noticed that there are now advertisements on my blog. Every time you click on one I get paid and 'Yes' I do have an accountant who will set me up with the tax people!!  Nothing underhand here.

Friday, 19 September 2014


After a particularly busy week it was good to get Nordic walking today, but before I tell you about that I must mention our History group meeting yesterday.

I am Treasurer of the History group of my local U3A and we had our first indoor meeting after a summer visiting Stately Homes etc.  The visit to Blenheim Palace was one (my last post). The group has grown from about 30 when we started to 130 and so we moved to a larger venue and this was the first meeting in the hall.  I talked about the group's final accounts for the previous year, we had a discussion about group issues and then I was going to give a presentation using PowerPoint through the hall's own visual system.  We couldn't get it to work and I suddenly realised that I would have to "wing it" - I love that expression as it says it all.  I had none of the photos that had been taken specially for the talk, only me trying to be cheerful and feeling like an actor who has no lines but must keep the show going.  I couldn't see anyone falling asleep and I got a few laughs so it can't have been all bad, but by the time I got home I was exhausted.

So this morning's walk was a real tonic.  It started from the Kings Head pub in Wadenhoe where lunch was booked and we walked around the village ...
A very small doorway!!
The dovecote
 ... visiting the medieval dovecote and then down to the river over the first bridge.  
Ford and Mill in the background

At this point the River Nene is shallow and is easily fordable but we didn't fancy getting out feet wet.  That would happen later in the very damp grass even though our boots were waterproof.  We couldn't understand that at all.

Spiders webs in the bushes
 Still being arty with my new camera and I couldn't resist the webs.  Lovely with the light rain on them.
Loved this sign
This sign was in Achurch and the farm buildings are for sale for development if you have about £1 million!!

Horse trough in front.
 This is the elaborate cover for the village well at Achurch.  The river meanwhile, meanders through the meadows and in total we crossed it four times, there and back.
Crossing the River Nene again.
Please note that most of us were in short sleeves because though we started in drizzle by this time it was warm, muggy and misty.  So finally we headed back to the pub for a very convivial lunch.  A lovely walk through some of the beautiful villages of Northamptonshire and hardly anything mentioned about the result of the Scottish vote last night!!!!  

A Postscript for my readers abroad - Scotland which has been a member of the UNITED Kingdom for over 300 years, wanted to break away and form their own independent country, thus breaking up the union.  They held a referendum to see whether the people wanted this to happen and the vote was Yes - 45%, No - 55% so it is still the United Kingdom and hopefully that is the way it will remain, certainly in my lifetime.  If you want to know more go here.

Thankfully, a quiet weekend ahead with plenty of time for sewing!

Postscript for all - I have discovered that if you double click on the photos they come up on the screen bigger - at least they do for me; so you can see my arty spiders webs even better!!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Another 'Grand Day Out'

My apologies to Wallace and Gromit for the title today, and apologies to readers who have absolutely no idea who they are, but I have discovered that I have a reader in the British Indian Ocean Territory  which I find incredibly exciting!!  Are there palm trees swaying in the breeze, azure seas, and miles of silver sands; please let me keep my illusions if there aren't!  I shall not get into the politics of the island here.

Anyway, I digress.  
A very 'stately' pile!
No, this not where ! live, this is Blenheim Palace, built by the first Duke of Marlborough and his wife Sarah, after the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, with land (the village of Woodstock) and £240,000 provided by Queen Anne's government, from a grateful nation.  It is still owned and lived in by the family and the rooms that are open to the public are beautifully maintained and we couldn't see any dust anywhere!!

I particularly wanted to see the room where Sir Winston Churchill was born and was very moved by the exhibition they have there.  His mother, American Jennie Jerome, was married to Lord Randolph Churchill, third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and was at Blenheim when she had a fall and went into premature labour, hence  Churchill was born there.  The exhibition has all sorts of memorabilia concerning the great man's life with audio of him speaking, especially those well known World War 2 speeches. which choke me up every time I hear them.  They also have his wartime siren suit and slippers both in velvet maroon with his initials monogrammed.  He wrote " At Blenheim I took two very important decisions:  to be born and to marry".  He proposed to Clemmie, his adored wife there, though it did take him a while to pluck up the courage apparently!!

After this my friend and I went out to the gardens:-
The Column of Victory 
The 1st duke commemorated as a Roman General on the top.
Another view of the Column
Perhaps I should mention at this point that I have a new camera and this was its first big outing so some  may find the photos a little arty!!
The Water Terraces
A sphinx, bearing the head of the 2nd wife of the 9th Duke
I was kneeling on steps at this point trying to get a clear picture of the head which was rather incongruous on a sphinx body.

A lovely place that I would like to go back to as there was so much to see.

I have finished this handy little pot that is no more than 3½ inches (9cm) high and twists down for easy transportation.  Ideal for loose threads or woolly bits for classes or workshops.  The only machining was the seam from top to bottom, that I realise is at the front of the photo; the rest is hand sewn.  The circle is ½ inch in depth cut from a cardboard Pringle tube and further stiffened with plastic parcel tape.

Should be useful.

The woolly blanket is progressing and my embroidery sampler is back from the being framed.  Now where to hang it - Hmm?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Archaeology and wild swimming

In my last post I said that these current two weeks are very busy and I was not exaggerating!  Friday morning was Crochet Club but I could only stay a short while to show my new blanket:-
Detail of the blanket
The lovely yummy colours
The pattern is from 'Little Woollie' using my lovely colours bought through the Wool Warehouse on behalf of Attic24 and I think they are a lovely combination.  Can we have a collection of pinks, mauve etc. please?

Straight from crochet club to another archaeological dig that I told you about back in June. This is the site of a Roman cemetery and all sorts of artifacts have been found.
A reminder of what the site looked like
Small Roman coin
The coin is of small value because the poorer Roman villagers would have bartered their goods.  For example this coin might have been  bartered for a chicken and used to make up the value.  It is not some poor Roman's weekly wage!!
A broken millstone 
This hole is the butt end of a ditch with animal offerings on the pile to the left.
A similar butt end was found at the other side of the site with more animal offerings.
This a medieval peg tile.

There are Roman walls, a blackened hearth and the most exciting items I can now tell you about - Roman skeletons.  This site was a Roman burial ground and 20 skeletons have been found to date ranging from children (buried together) to full grown adults.  I have photographs of them but am not allowed to show them on the internet.  The adult men were nearly 6 foot tall which surprised me.  The millstone above was used to line the grave.

Yesterday I drove to Norfolk where I went Wild Swimming on the River Bure and it was something I had always wanted to do but will not repeat!!  We had a crowd of other canoeists watching these mad 50+ Adventure people swim.

With our canoe man to rescue us, we set off down river trying to avoid the weed that wanted to entangle us and the water was bitterly cold.  My hired wet suit prevented me swimming on my front and seemed to want to drag me down so I did everything on my back.  Even the swans swimming up river wouldn't pass us, as we shouted encouragement to each other, and seemed bemused by the whole thing!!

Since I was a child I have had a fear of finding a dead body in weed and this was at the back of my mind the whole time and after we had been going a while it was suggested that we get out at the next activity centre and have a hot drink and get warm at the fire.  This sounded like a good idea and after a hot shower at a Girl Guide Centre we all felt much warmer. But we had swum over half a mile so we didn't feel too bad about it and when I swim next it will be in a pool where you can see the bottom and the water is clean and warm!!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Squirrel nibbles and other things

I am now into a very busy two weeks, but on Sunday I decided to become a 'Domestic Goddess' and rushed round cleaning (it does get done sometimes) and having picked a few cucumbers from the greenhouse decided that these needed pickling.  See my blog and find out why.  So I sprinkled salt on some shallots and the chopped up cucumbers in a glass bowl and left them for about two hours to draw out the liquid.

Meanwhile having watched the BBC programme 'Sweets Made Simple' AND bought the recipe book, I decided to have a go at tempering chocolate.  I bought a sweet thermometer which looked as if it might be useful and followed the recipe for 


I tempered the chocolate - 
Not the right temperature yet

toasted the nuts - 

mixed them all together into heaps and let them cool down.  Yum, yum
Makes about 25-30
Having whipped these up in a short while I had to finish the pickles and after adding some celery seed, mustard seed and sugar to white vinegar and simmering, I poured the liquid over the vegetables in the warm jar and sealed it.  Leave until Christmas and we will see what they taste like.
The jar on the left was made two weeks ago
Monday was a trip with the U3A to Rushton Hall to have a talk about its history.  Though now a luxury hotel it was originally built by the Tresham family in 1438.  The Treshams were staunch Roman Catholics in the very turbulent Protestant time of Elizabeth 1 and we were shown the tunnels that run from the chapel, via the house, coming out into the parkland near the equally famous Triangular Lodge.

I sat looking at the frieze round the room we were sitting in and was brown and about 3 feet deep and peeling off the wall, and thought that this was not a very good advertisement for the hotel.  However our guide said that the frieze was leather and put up at the time the house was built and would have been covered with gold leaf and was about 500 years old!! Sticking it back on the wall was a very difficult task!!
Looking towards the entrance
I love these bay windows
The front door
The main house and lawns
Tuesday of course, is Cambridge day but slightly different now as my little granddaughter started school the day before.  They don't go full time for two weeks so I had three school trips on my bike pulling the 'chariot': to school for 9.00am for grandson and granddaughter, back home for me, back to school at 11.25 to pick up granddaughter, back home, back again at 3.30pm to pick up grandson, with granddaughter in the chariot and grandson riding his little bike.  I was out of condition after the summer holiday and granddaughter is getting bigger so the 'chariot' is heavy to pull.  Roll on the day when she can ride her bike, because it is a mile to school and though Cambridge is a cyclists heaven, the 'chariot' is very cumbersome and I have to ride on the main roads.  Grandson rides on paths and we meet at traffic lights!!
Not my photo but similar to our chariot, but ours seat 2
Quite hard work, but excellent exercise!!