Looking for Old Jack’s Boat

Monday was a bank holiday in the UK and amazingly it coincided with the best weather of the year so far. Actually, the hottest, sunniest day was Tuesday but luckily for us, my children had an extra day of holiday due to school being closed for staff training. Days like these are few and far between. It was a great opportunity to get out and about.

I have been promising The Middle Miss a trip to Staithes for a while now. It’s not far from where we live – less than an hour away in the car. Usually, if we are heading that far along the coast we aim for Whitby but Staithes is actually closer and we had a reason to visit.

If you have small children and you watch CBeebies you will probably know where I am going with this. If not, I will explain… Old Jack’s Boat is a relatively new series starring Bernard Cribbins as ‘Old Jack’, the captain of a magical boat called The Rainbow.

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Now, I have yet to watch a full episode, but, a while ago I saw the opening and thought “That looks a lot like Staithes”. As I watched a bit more I heard the words (that begin every story that Old Jack tells) “Once upon a twinkly time The Rainbow set off from Staithes, waved goodbye to Whitby and headed off over the horizon…” Not only had the BBC filmed the series in such a lovely, local place, they had also chosen to keep the real name. I hit google to find out more and discovered this quote from the show’s production team “Staithes was a wonderful backdrop to the series and we took the decision to retain its name as we wanted the programme to feel rooted in a real place.” I was immediately excited by the fact that I could take my children to see this very real, very special place.

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Staithes is a very magical looking little village, especially on such a sunny day. There is one main street winding down the steep cliff side to the quay. The houses seem to built on top of each other, each one clinging on to it’s place alongside the road or the river. It’s not really the best place to visit with a pushchair because of the gradient of the hill….I’m not sure which is worse, going up or down.

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IMG_2313We wound our way down to the seafront, ready to look for Old Jack’s Boat. Alas, it wasn’t in port. If it had been, it would have been moored up on the far side of this picture, just in front of the lobster pots and the small stone building with the red square on it. If you watch the opening sequence on the CBeebies website you will be able to see it.

Undeterred, we went on to the small crescent of beach where, I was reliably informed by The Middle Miss, Jack’s dog, Salty, lost his blanket. We thought we had better go and search for it. In fact, the children just got stuck into digging in the sand, enlarging big holes that someone else had previously begun.

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We had the beach pretty much to ourselves, the sun was shining (have I mentioned that already?) and we were sheltered from the wind. Bliss, a chance to sit back and feel the sand between my toes or skip off to take a few more photos.

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The digging progressed into seaweed gathering, which was then turned into ‘hair’ on a very sandy face by The Middle Miss. The only downside of the beach being so quiet was that I think the whole of Staithes could hear my darling daughter keeping her brothers in order. She told them in no uncertain terms just what she required for her work of art. Eventually Son Number One resigned from her work force and it was time to head back up the village.

IMG_7063On the way we passed Captain Cook’s Cottage, where, as is says on the plaque, a young James Cook got his first taste of the sea while working as a shop apprentice. Both my children have studied Cook at school and Son Number One was quite taken with the idea that he actually lived in this house. Another example of a story coming to life in Staithes.

IMG_2331A bit further up the hill, we found a craft gallery selling all kinds of things knitted, stitched and painted. This beautiful mermaid sculpture was in the sunny courtyard behind.

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IMG_2341Finally, we crossed the little foot bridge across the river to see if we could spot Old Jack’s house but we weren’t very good at that. We had a little peek in at the lifeboat station and stood on the quayside where Old Jack would be coming back soon to moor up The Rainbow, next to the lobster pots. After that there was nothing for it but to drag ourselves (and push the pushchair) back up the hill, just in time for tea and cake.

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Hearts and buttons

IMG_6978Last Tuesday felt like a day to sit down and do a bit of button sewing-on. It seemed like the first time in ages when the house was quiet and I could indulge. I had enough hearts crocheted and stiffened to make two more hanging decorations. In the time that babykins was a playgroup I managed to stitch on almost all the buttons for them both. Stitching them all together into the final hanging shape always takes me ages but I finished one last night. Getting good pictures of these is so difficult. I wish I could afford a professional product photographer! When I do it there are shadows where I don’t want them, the colours don’t show at their best and the focus is off in places! I think it’s partly that they are so long – 60cm or 2′ from the top bit of crochet to the bottom. hanging heartsWhat a difference natural light makes to an amateur photographer. The photo in the centre above was taken at night with a flash and a Canon digital ixus 80IS. I have played around a little with it but it still looks wrong. The two outer photos were done in natural light with an iPhone in HD mode (iPhone 5 I think, it was my Mum’s).

I have one more decoration to finish off and then I will have to get on with more crocheting and blocking out and experimenting with more photography. Maybe I should take them out into the garden and hang them amongst some branches? I’d be happy to hear any top tips, bearing in mind that my cameras are limited those mentioned above.

Come for a walk with me

IMG_2021Put on your wellies, warm clothes and waterproofs because we are going to visit a Cumbrian hill farm.

IMG_2039Just look at those snow drifts piled high against the dry stone walls. A few days before this photo was taken the road was completely blocked.

IMG_2019When I took this photo the weather was dry and fairly bright, despite the cloud. The air is cold, clean and crisp up here. Turning to the left we can admire the landscape of deceptively dry-looking open fell and the snowy North Pennines in the distance.

IMG_2051Carrying on along the road, the modern farm house comes into view. Usually by this time of year the fields at either side of this road are starting to fill up with ewes and new lambs but the long winter has delayed things a bit.

IMG_1996Cross the cattle grid into the farm yard.

IMG_1992This road is actually a public bridleway as you can see from the photo. When the weather is better this is a fairly popular route with cyclists. They often speed through the farm with the sound of several barking sheepdogs ringing in their ears.

IMG_1988Turning around 180 degrees to look back on the cattle grid and the view over the fell.

IMG_2062After passing through the first part of the farm, we carry on into the older part of the farm. Straight ahead is the byre where the sheep are brought if they need more help during lambing time. You can just see a tiny bit of white wall beyond the byre. That is the old farm house, now a holiday cottage, where we stayed.

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IMG_2079Now we have arrived at our accommodation, complete with genuine farmer in high viz jacket (my brother-in-law). This house dates from the 1700’s and is built right into the slope of the hill.view from cottageThis is the view from the front door of the cottage. The photos from top to bottom, left to right are as follows: looking to the right the public bridleway continues up to Loadpot Hill after first dipping down to the foot of the valley. Straight ahead is the building where the cows overwinter and to the left is the picnic table and beyond that the sheep maternity ward byre. The green frame on the door is surrounding a new heavy duty mesh door that has been put in place in an attempt to keep the badgers out. Badgers have caused a bit of trouble this year. I suspect that they are being driven to attacking lambs as their normal food is running thin due to the hard winter. While we were there, my brother-in-law saw badgers in his main barn during daylight hours, eating the cattle feed. That is not normal behaviour.

IMG_6715Inside the house there is a cosy living room with an even cosier stove. Thankfully these days there are also some electric wall heaters, otherwise it would be a very cold place to stay.

IMG_6717This is the view from the kitchen window. It’s a cracker, though it is sometimes obscured by a sheep peering in. There is one house further up the valley, you might just be able to pick out the roof, four squares in from the left and five whole squares up. It is currently under major renovations. I’m sure it will be on ‘Grand Designs’ one day. I remember poking around in it a few years ago and it was completely derelict with no access road, no mains water or electricity. I’d love to see it when it’s done.

IMG_6766 The mesh on the window is a bit of a necessity  because it’s base is actually level(ish) with the ground outside and the area beyond the window often acts as a sheep pen. You can see this in the picture above. I’m always entertained when a sheep strolls past while I’m washing up.

IMG_6726Here is the same view but taken from an upstairs window. I would really like to take you on a little photographic walk down the snowy track next to the fence but I’m not sure my photos are good enough.

I hope you have enjoyed this little visit to Scales Farm (click on the link for more photos). It’s well worth a visit for the views alone, which I can’t do justice to with my camera.

 

The Joy of Snow….up close

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IMG_1509I’m sure I never used to see ‘proper’ snowflakes when I was a child. Was I just not looking carefully enough, caught up in the more exciting activities that come with snow? Is this viewing of snowflakes the consequence of age or has the type of snow we get changed?

I’d love the opportunity to see snowflakes under a microscope but for now, the macro function of my camera will do.

All images taken with Canon Digital Ixus 80IS and edited with iPhoto.

Inspiration from Little Tin Bird, here. Scroll down to the last picture.

The Joy Of……The Internet

When I learned to crochet, years ago, I felt as if I was enjoying my hobby in isolation. There wasn’t much around that was very inspiring and I certainly didn’t know anyone else who I could share ideas with. When I took up my hook again almost two years ago I was lucky enough to discover Attic 24. The first time I looked at that blog I was hooked (sorry, bad pun). At last, here was someone making crochet that looked a bit more modern and fun.

Of course once you find one blog that you like the look of it is only a matter of a few clicks and sure enough, you will find more inspiration than you know what to do with. Sometimes it can be a bit daunting. There is one blog that I regularly read in disbelief. I can hardly believe that one person can do so much crafty stuff. Mostly though, I just enjoy looking at all the lovely things that other people make. I love the fact that a craft like crochet, that had a bit of a fuddy duddy reputation when I was growing up has got a whole new lease of life through modern technology. I wonder what my Grandma would have made of it?

Another visual source of inspiration is Instagram – a photography app for smart phones. I am aware that there was a bit of an upset in the Instagram world a week or two ago over who owns the rights to the pictures posted there. I’m not sure if it’s been resolved but for now I ams sticking with it. It took me a while to get to grips with Instagram as a social network but now that I have, I love it. Most of the people that I ‘follow’ on Instagram are crocheters (is that a word?). Here is the picture that inspired the crocheted jar covers in my last post. I have asked permission to share this here, by the way.89d8870c25a611e2901022000a9e13ab_7The same person (I only know them by the name on their Instagram account – nillams) also posted this…

43e749b60d2a11e29bac22000a1c032a_7and then the pattern…057e3e640f8711e2b3af22000a1fb856_7Which inspired my to make these…IMG_5544

It’s not really about the quality of the photography for me. It’s about being able to connect with other people who like the same things. If you are an experienced blogger/tweeter/social media user maybe this isn’t news to you? For me, this is the joy of the internet.

Autumn Outings: Part One – Durham

The weather has been reasonably kind over the last few weeks, allowing us some autumn outings.

In the first week of the month, Son Number One went on a school trip to Durham Botanical Gardens. The following weekend we decided to have a family trip there as he was keen to show us around. It was a perfect day to appreciate a garden in autumn.

I bet every visitor to the garden photographed this tree

Bright blue skies and golden leaves, warm enough to leave your coat behind but cool enough to be autumnal.

There were still lots of lovely bedding plants around and I couldn’t help taking lots of pictures of the dahlias.

Although it was hard at times not to imagine the pleasure of a child free visit to these gardens, the real joy of this trip was watching Son Number One. He helped his sister do all the clues on the ‘quiz trail’ and guided us around the garden in a very confident fashion.

By a complete coincidence we met some of our best friends there, though they were almost ready for leaving when we arrived. It didn’t stop the children exploring the greenhouses together. One houses a small collection of ‘minibeasts’ (well, the spiders weren’t so mini, they were big and hairy) and a fish pond, one houses the cactus collection, one houses a ‘tropical rainforest’ complete with spray and one houses a large tank containing giant lily pads (somehow I managed to miss this). The boys had a great time trying to photograph the minibeasts. I won’t scare you with the results but I will give you Son Number One’s fish photo’s because I think they are quite pretty.

I should probably mention that a large part of the garden is accessible with a push chair. We took our Phil and Ted’s 3 wheeler and managed to go ‘off road’ quite a bit. All in all, we had a lovely afternoon out. We should visit Durham more often as it really is on our doorstep. It was funny to be there on one of the first afternoons of the new university term. The Husband and I felt quite old as we watched swathe after swathe of students go to and from the playing fields. They all looked so young and full of vim and vigour. It seems incredible that is is almost 20 years since we began our university careers. Son Number One is closer to University age than we are. Scary thought.