Summer holidays 2014

It’s been a while since I updated my space here. I know holiday photos are boring but this is mainly for me and my family archive. If you want to see some happy pictures, feel free to read on.

Our holidays started with a trip to Shap to take part in the 2014 ‘Total Warrior’ 10km muddy obstacle race. This is the ‘before’ picture.before total warrior 14This is one of the most energy sapping obstacles we did. The Husband and I are smack bang in the middle of this photo. I’m the one up to my chest in mud. I was very grateful to swim through a river shortly after this! The weather was dreadful, which didn’t make much difference to us as competitors but it wasn’t much fun for spectators.total warrior 14 in the mudFortunately, things improved the day we drove to Beddgelert in North Wales. The mountain you can see in the distance is Snowdon, the highest in Wales and England. This was taken from in front of our caravan, which was parked at Cae Du campsite, a site that prides itself in providing a peaceful, quiet environment. Driving the caravan there wasn’t an experience for the faint hearted but Beddgelert proved to be a good base for exploring Snowdonia. View of Snowdon from CampsiteOne of our first days out was to Criccieth, a little coastal town which had everything you could want (except perhaps sand). We found a patch of sheltered pebbly beach and settled in to eat freshly fried chips. We spent the rest of the afternoon building rock caves instead of sand castles. I could have spent a few days here as there seemed to be a high street filled with delightful, independent shops but I never got any closer than admiring them from the car. There was also a cute little castle close to the beach but we never made it to that either, we were contended enough on the beach.Sea at Cricceth North WalesCaenarfon Castle however, was unmissable. It is truly spectacular. There were so many towers and turrets to explore that we spent hours there. You need plenty of stamina and a head for heights. Climbing the towers gives wonderful views over the town, the Menai Straights and the mountains of Snowdonia.Canaerfon CastleThis is the view from the Snowdon Mountain Railway. There aren’t many mountains you can ascend by rail in the UK but Snowdon is one of them. It was very expensive for us to do this trip as a family of five so we were very grateful for mostly good views. The summit was cloudy, cold and windy but I suppose that was a good experience too. Our children now know how true it is when people say that the conditions can change quickly in the mountains.View from SnowdonWe did have some rainy days during our holiday. This photo was taken the day that the remains of Hurricane Bertha passed over. Apart from putting the storm straps on the awning, it didn’t affect us too much. We just settled in with games and crafts and eventually dodged the showers for a walk to the village.Indoor games caravan Wet Wales hillsidesAnother of our days out was to Plas Newydd, a stately home on the Anglesea side of the Menai Straits. The estate is owned by the National Trust, who have made their properties very family friendly in recent years. Our children generally enjoy the quizzes that the NT provide and the Plas Newydd experience was no different. They also took full advantage of the playground and happily explored the terrace and formal gardens. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me because although I’d never really visited the house or gardens before, I stayed at the adjacent outdoor education centre a few times when I was a biology teacher. I used to visit with the 6th form on their field trips and we spent many an hour foraging in the seaweed on the shore below the house.Garden at Plas Newyyd AngleseaSnowdonia has some fabulous coastline. This picture was taken at Nefyn on the Llyn Peninsula. The colours and the light are a wonderful combination of blues, greens, browns and white. We got quite a taste for swimming in the sea, with the beach at Llandanwg, near Harlech having water that seemed surprisingly warm.Ready for swimming Into the Sea North WalesHarlech and Nefyn both had great sandcastle sand too.

Sandcastles 2014In truth, we could have spent a lot of time just exploring the area around the campsite and Beddgelert. This lake was a short, easy walk away along a quiet lane and scenic footpath.Paddling in lake near Beddgellert Beddgellert scenery lane at BeddgellertBut, North Wales has plenty of attractions too and and we couldn’t resist another rail trip from Beddgelert to Porth Madoc on the Welsh Highland Railway, a narrow gauge railway that runs North to Caenarfon too.Dragon bench on Welsh Highland RailwayWe could have spent lots more time exploring North Wales but our time was up after 11 nights. We had a pressing deadline. The Middle Miss wanted to be home in time for her seventh birthday. However, staying on a site with tents stimulated a short camping trip over the August bank holiday weekend. I told Son Number One that I was never camping again and that if he wanted to I was happy to keep paying his subs at cubs. The Husband fancied a trip though and planned to take the older two children to a site near Robin Hood’s Bay, which is just an hour away down the coast. I hummed and ahhed about joining them and eventually I felt sorry for Babykins, who was going to be left behind if I didn’t go. Luckily, it was a great trip on a pleasant site with plenty of sunshine.tent set up camping camping tea timeOn the Saturday, The Husband, Son Number One and The Middle Miss embarked on a bike ride from Hawsker to Ravenscar, the same trip that we did last September with the local scouts.


Coastline from RavenscarBabykins and I explored Robin Hood’s Bay itself.

IMG_1698IMG_1670IMG_1668IMG_1655IMG_1652IMG_1651IMG_1645IMG_1644 It’s an incredibly photogenic place but I just haven’t captured it. The houses appear to be piled on top of each other and cling to the sides of a steep road down to the harbour.

robin hoods bay housesEverything about it is quaint and picturesque.

old bike at robin hood's bay

As you can see from the picture below, fishing is still a part of the town’s activities.

lobster pots robin hood's bay

I didn’t know it had it’s own sea monster!

sea monster robin hood's bay

Mainly, I think, it’s a place to make happy holiday memories…

memory bench robin hood's bay

 

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Yarn talk: Yarndale

I have bought a lot of yarn in the last few weeks, most of it at the wonderful Yarndale festival. Luckily for me, Skipton, where the festival was held, is within a couple of hours drive. Even luckier still, I was able to head there for two nights with my Mum’s caravan and a yarn-loving friend. I was very, very pleased to have her with me as navigator and for general reassurance, especially as it was my first ‘solo’ caravan trip. I had a bit of a panic when we reached a particularly interesting archway across the road. You can see a picture of it here. We breathed in, peered in the wing mirrors and drove through very slowly. We made it through without a hitch but I had the return journey in the back of my mind for most of the weekend.

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Apart from the thought of driving back through that arch we had a perfect weekend. We were able to visit another friend and her new baby who lives close to Skipton. Her husband treated us to a delicious home cooked meal (and a much needed glass of wine) and on the day of the festival, she acted as a taxi service.

IMG_3618We found our way to the auction market by following the bunting that had been strung along the path. As we approached the building we admired the other wooly decorations.

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IMG_3615But of course, there was much, much more to see inside.

IMG_3610I took very few pictures inside the exhibition. I was far too busy, viewing, stroking and buying yarn.

IMG_3607This was one of the more eye-catching pieces of crochet on display. I’m sorry I don’t know whose stall it was on.

IMG_3608I could have taken pictures of ‘The Natural Dye Studio‘s’ stall all afternoon. Their patterns and yarn were absolutely amazing, so brightly coloured and so soft to the touch. I bought a copy of their ‘Desirable Crochet Motifs’ book though goodness knows how I will make use of it. If you want to spend some serious money on some beautiful crochet, you could do a lot worse than to visit their website and buy one of their kits.

My friend and I both spent a ridiculous amount of money (I had been saving up for some time so I don’t feel too guilty).

IMG_3621This was our joint pile of purchases, mine on the right, hers on the left. Anything left of and including the cone of thick, carpet yarn in the middle is hers, including the fabric. We both had things in mind when we bought our yarn. I really shouldn’t need any more projects for at least another year. In order to use up this stash I am going to have to learn some new skills. For example, the fluffy, brown coloured yarn in the bottom right-hand corner came with the most delicate, flowery pattern for an infinity scarf knit on a circular needle. You can see how it is supposed to look here. I bought three different sock yarns, though I have absolutely no idea how to cast-on with four needles. They may become crocheted slippers. I think my favourite purchase of the weekend was the fluffy, rainbow dyed yarn. I specifically wanted something in these colours in order to make a new hat for The Middle Miss as she really has a thing for rainbows at the moment. Apart from some tiny snowflakes, made from the crochet cotton near the top right of the picture, the rainbow hat has been my first project.

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I don’t think it will be long before it is finished, though there is a bit of trial and error going on as I decide how big to make it and how to finish it off.

I think that that is about the end of my post about Yarndale. There are lots of other bloggers who have written about it much more definitively than me so if you want to see more, do a bit of googling or maybe start here.

More yarn talk coming soon….

Oh, and I made it back through that archway with centimetres to spare, under the gaze of a group of cyclists and a worried looking motorist heading in the opposite direction. Not. Fun. At. All.

Summer in Somerset

It is less than two weeks since we came back from our summer holidays but it seems like ages ago. We seem to have packed so much in since then. In the interests of documenting family life, here is my pick of the Somerset pics, a lovely region to visit.

Views from our campsite across the Somerset levels towards Glastonbury Tor.

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Beautiful Wells, the smallest city in England. This is Vicars Close, which is supposed to be the oldest, continually inhabited, residential street in Europe and below that, the cathedral.

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Cheddar gorge and caves. A day out courtesy of my Tesco clubcard points! We visited most of the attractions – the show caves, the museum, the open top bus tour up the gorge and finally, we climbed up the steps to the top of the lookout tower. All 274 of them.
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IMG_7925IMG_2972A Somerset cream tea. Much needed to keep me going on a busy sight-seeing day.

IMG_7916More Somerset produce.

IMG_7933Picnicking at the top of Glastonbury Tor. Our picnic rucksack, containing knives, forks and plates has been well used.

IMG_7941Heading up…

IMG_2995View from the top, where we tried to spot our caravan, though it was much too far away.

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IMG_3004Inside the ancient barn at the (free) Museum of Rural Life in Glastonbury.  This beautiful barn, which originally belonged to Glastonbury Abbey is almost 600 years old. Amazing to think of the time, money, care and attention that was spent on it.

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IMG_3025The Middle Miss was very taken with this shop display in Glastonbury – she loves rainbows.

IMG_7939The best sandcastle sand I’ve come across for a while, at the almost deserted Burnham-on-Sea. Much building was done as you can see below.

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IMG_7970The sky looked like this through most of our holiday. It’s classic English summer weather; blues sky with white fluffly clouds. Warm enough for shorts but not too hot to be uncomfortable. Perfect, in fact.

IMG_3050Well, this is England. It wouldn’t be a summer holiday without a little bit of rain.

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52 weeks of Happy 21/52 and 22/52 Mash Up

IMG_7206I don’t often wear a dress (or a snazzy little belt and necklace) but I was inspired by an instagram image made by CocoRose. I think you should be able to see it here. Silly how wearing something different can make you feel happy.

IMG_7223It’s not every day that a fully functioning steam traction engine comes whistling down the street. The funny noise that this one made got our attention when it chugged into the neighbourhood on Saturday. You can imagine how pleased my children were to be offered a ride around the block on it. The Middle Miss sat nearest the front and thankfully came home free of soot – she was out in her best dress, being due to attend a party minutes later.

IMG_7251Here is a glimpse of the dress in question. Having been inspired by Dani at Teddie and Tottie I decided to make a few hair decorations, both for The Middle Miss and the Birthday Girl she was off to visit. I have been experimenting with patterns ever since. More later perhaps?

IMG_7242Being given flowers by my children always makes me happy. These little forget-me-nots are so cute and the colour is divine.

IMG_7231Caravan time. It’s been half term and we have been on two caravan trips with good weather both times. It doesn’t get much better than that. I want to put my trips into separate posts, hence a relatively short ‘happy’ post. However, the most momentous news of the past week or two can be summarised by the next photo.

IMG_7244It’s a terrible photo but hopefully it shows two children riding their bikes without stabilisers!!!!!!!!! This actually makes me feel quite emotional but more about that at another time. If you are curious as to why then I suggest you read this. May this week bring you happy times….

52 weeks of happy 19/52

My happy post this week is full of images from our first caravan jaunt of the season. This also happened to be our first trip in our new caravan so we didn’t go far from home, just to Hillside Caravan Park at Knayton, near Thirsk. It’s a lovely (some would say luxurious) site that suits our needs very well. You can read more about it here.

greenery1Spring greenery, brightening up the scenery…

IMG_7103Something that I don’t think I’ve seen before (but hope I will again).

IMG_1187A visit from my brother and his wife.

IMG_1209Established traditions. A trip to Knayton must include buying an ice cream from the farm house no matter what the weather. It just so happens that the heavens opened after this was taken….

All the same, our first trip was a success and that made me happy.

The Joy of Caravans – Part one: Knayton

Caravan holidays are a favourite part of our summer holidays. They are not always easy with three small children but they are worth it. My Mum and I are becoming masters at this type of break. This summer we have specialised in the ‘last minute dash’ caravan holiday. The first of our two trips was to Hillside Caravan Park at Knayton, near Thirsk in North Yorkshire. We stayed for four nights from the 8th of August. Luckily for us, the weather was fine, warm and dry.

Hillside is a great caravan park for novices because the pitches are flat and there are several that you can drive onto without the need for reversing. It is also fairly luxurious. The toilet block has underfloor heating and is spotlessly clean. We used a pitch that not only had an electric hook up but also the potential to connect your fresh and waste water. More importantly for a family of Olympic addicts, it had a direct link to the TV arial too. Normally I wouldn’t mind doing without TV but without it we would have missed the spectacle of Mo Farrah’s 5000m win and the drama of Tom Daley’s bronze in the 10m platform diving. It is a quiet, family-friendly site in a ‘play-outside-from-morning-until-night-with-new-friends’ kind of way. Fortunately Son Number One and The Middle Miss were very happy to do just that.

When we were entertaining the children, water was often involved. We visited the local stream a few times to enjoy the usual games – plopping stones in, building dams and playing Pooh sticks.

Our sunsuits and ‘crocs’ have had plenty of wear this year, despite the earlier dismal weather in April, May, June and July.

The Middle Miss preferred wellies. She wasn’t keen on the temperature of the stream water.

There is a lot of freedom for children on a caravan holiday. They get to ‘play out’ without obvious supervision in a way that they don’t at home. The danger from cars is minimal on this kind of site. Because of this, most of the time the oldest two just wanted to go to the ‘park’ (think play area with swings, a climbing frame, slide and balance beams). We had to train them to slip out quietly because Babykins always wanted to go too. Sometimes we went with him when he toddled off after them (sometimes we had to run after him in our nightclothes) but often we went for distraction. You can have a lot of pleasure pouring water from one container to another when you are 20 months old….

Bathing your horses is fun too.

I managed a few moments of peace and quiet. It’s always nice to take time to ‘smell the roses’. In this case it was more like ‘appreciate the blooming verges and hedgerows’.

There was a little bit of time for crochet. As you can see I’m still working on circles for my blanket.

I polished off a bowlful of cherries after scoffing that two whole packets form M and S was surely too much to buy. Well, they’re wheat free after all.

All in all, it was a very pleasant little break. I’ve got a feeling it might become an annual tradition.