Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Busy Winter

Winter is probably my least favourite season of all. After growing up in a part of the world where it hardly ever gets cold, it has been a long and hard adjustment getting used to the UK winters. Twelve years after moving here, it seems like I am finally starting to appreciate that the cold months have a lot going for it too.

Over the past five months we have had a lot of rainy, cold and dark days to get through, but there were also a lot of brilliantly sunny days where we just had to head out into the countryside for some much needed Vitamin D and fresh air.

Even though the fields were Very muddy and some of the puddles were even frozen on some of the walks, I could really appreciate the beauty of the landscape on a crisp and sunny Winter's day.

Little T also adds his own excitement to these expeditions and makes me forget that it's cold and wet and to just enjoy these special moments spent together.

We discovered some amazing new walks in our surrounding area, but we also went to a few of our old favourites. On one particularly beautiful day we headed out to a place that holds a special place in our hearts, but that we haven't visited since before Little T was born.

Years ago, a dear friend invited us to stay in their house near Arendal over the August bank holiday weekend, and as we enjoyed it so much, we went back there several years running. Unfortunately we haven't been able to take up their offer for quite some time now, but that hasn't stopped us from missing this beautiful little town, and that is why we took on the 200 mile round trip just for a walk around this much loved place.


It was strange and yet lovely to see the familiar landscape again, especially as it was so much altered by the effects of Winter. It was an absolutely perfect day, it ended wonderfully with a fish and chips dinner from our favourite "Chippy", eaten in the car with the windows steaming up :)

Of course, over the winter months there were the inevitable colds and coughs to deal with and some days that were just so cold and dreary that staying at home was all we wanted to do. Luckily these were far and few between and for the most part we kept as busy as possible, even on the days where the sun was hiding behind a thick blanket of clouds.

We are very lucky that there are so many amazing indoor attractions all around us, and we visited as many of them as we could. One of our favourites was definitely the Living Rainforest near Newbury. Once you step through the doors of the hothouses, you completely forget that it's cold outside and you can just marvel at the amazing plants, animals, reptiles and birds all around you. We have spent many, many happy hours whiling away cold days in here.

We had our fill of museums too, from military ones to tiny ones on local history, we visited them near and far. The best ones though were the ones that catered to our individual passions. Little T is still fascinated by dinosaurs and visiting the Natural History Museum in Oxford with him was just simply amazing.

It has been almost a month since we were here and he still talks about it with such joy and enthusiasm.

For me, it was the Pitt Rivers Museum that sits at the back of the same building that was the most fascinating of all.

It is brimful of the most interesting and strange objects from all over the world spanning hundreds if not thousands of years of human history. You could leave me here for days and I still wouldn't get bored with looking through all the glass cases.

Last but not least was P's passion, cars and motorbikes, and for that we headed to Coventry to visit the Transport Museum. Unfortunately they were right in the middle of a huge transformation program and a lot of the galleries were closed for renovation.

None the less, there were still plenty of amazing things to see and enjoy. From ultra modern concept cars to the very earliest models of motorized vehicles and some true classics too. 

The most captivating gallery of all was the Land Speed Record cars. I have only ever seen these on television before and never paid them much attention to be honest. I was however absolutely amazed and stunned by their sheer size and complexity after spending a considerable amount of time looking around this room.

We are already planning another visit to this museum when all of the works are finished and it is open fully again with lots of new and exciting exhibitions to explore.

All in all it has been a really fun and happy five months for us, with lots of lovely memories to look back on. With Spring in the air, there is a feeling of change to come and I am looking forward to what the rest of the year has in store for us. Little T will be starting school after the Easter break, leaving me with three child free hours to fill every day. It is something that I am both very excited and nervous about. 

The biggest change to come though is that our little family of three is soon to become a family of four. These past five months have been extra special as I have been growing a new little life inside me. Although there were a few months of nausea and fatigue that almost put a damper on our fun filled winter, I am very happy that we were able to give Little T a Winter to remember before his (and our) whole world changes forever :)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Is it just me, or is there a lot of crochet popping up on television these days. I find myself spotting beautiful blankets all over my favourite shows and I have to say it does make me happy to see it, every time. It does also make me want to crochet a lot of new blankets, but that's not necessarily a bad thing now is it :)

One blanket that really caught my eye belongs to Dee Reynolds, part of the gang from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia". It is a very vintage looking blanket, a ripple pattern, most definitely using a v-stitch. After seeing it on my telly for the umpteenth time, I decided that this is the blanket that will make it from my screen to my living room. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet I found an almost identical pattern in a matter of minutes and had ordered some very special wool from the fabulous people at Wool Warehouse.

Although this is a very light weight wool, it is really surprisingly warm and snugly and just so gorgeously soft to touch. I wasted no time at all and got stuck into this project as soon as the parcel came to my door.

 Within a mere four weeks, my blanket was complete! Just in time for the drastic change in weather.

I was very tempted to leave this blanket border-less, but then thought that maybe a simple little edging will be just the finishing touch to make this great blanket perfect.

It may not be an exact replica of Dee's blanket, but then I never aimed for that anyway. I took inspiration from somewhere new, adjusted it to my own taste, and in the end I have a blanket that I absolute love and adore. Just the thing to curl up under when watching my favourite shows, looking for my next project to jump out at me :)

Friday, 31 October 2014


During my childhood, Halloween was not something that we celebrated or even participated in and I remember well feeling very envious of the children in American movies and shows who got to dress up in costumes, run around their neighbourhoods getting candy and scaring each other with silly tricks. As an adult though, I have had many a crazy time joining in with the Halloween fun and now look forward to this holiday more and more every year.

With the leaves turning from their lush summer greens to flaming reds and oranges and the evenings drawing in, it feels almost natural to want to celebrate a holiday that requires you to carve pumpkins into grotesque and scary faces, dress up in costumes of all things supernatural and eat way too many brightly coloured sugary treats.

This year was the first time that Little T was really aware of what Halloween is and for some reason over the past few days he has been telling anybody who would listen that he is going to be a hedgehog for Halloween! Unfortunately Trick or Treating doesn't seem to be a very popular tradition where we live at the moment and I really had no time or ideas to come up with a hedgehog outfit at the last minute. I did however want to still celebrate the day in some way that he would love and there's no better way than baking a cake!

The two of us spent a very happy and crazy couple of hours in the kitchen creating this Hedgehog Halloween cake this morning, which turned out to be the perfect dessert after having a dinner of "worms" (spaghetti to the rest of us) while watching some of the bigger kids run around outside in their plastic masks and fake fangs.

Here's wishing you all a Happy Halloween!!!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Way back in February I excitedly started a new blanket using Lucy's Hexagon tutorial. I had a big bag of my favourite cotton yarn in 24 delicious colours all ready to go and within a few days I had made a very good start on this new adventure of mine. I was loving it and had no doubt in my mind that I would have it done and dusted in no time at all.

Unfortunately this initial enthusiasm started to wane with the passing weeks and warming weather and soon I found myself falling out of love with the hexagons. I started working on it less and less and picked up lots of smaller projects to fill my crochet time, to the point where this blanket went into total hibernation, something that has never happened to me before.

However, since coming back from Canada and with the evenings drawing in and getting cooler, I have found a renewed vigour for getting this blanket finished. I soon started enjoying working on the hexagons again and before I knew it, I was loving this blanket once more, working on it every spare moment I could find.

Last week, I worked the very last of the total 180 hexagons and finally I could start on the edging. I had two colours picked out that I had not used in the main blanket for this very purpose and got to work over the weekend.

As luck would have it, I ran out of yarn just before I got all the way round and had to wait for some more yarn to come in the mail.

Thankfully my wait was short lived and I was able to work the last few stitches yesterday afternoon. Just like that, it was done, finished, complete! I have to admit, I did do a little happy dance while I stood back to admire all of the colourfulness in it's entirety.

Maybe it's not quite as big as I had first envisioned it. Sure it took a lot longer than I ever thought it would. And perhaps my love for it was in question at one point, but there is no two ways about it now, I am one happy bunny that this blanket is done and ready to use for the coming winter.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Long Overdue

We have been back from our Canada trip for well over a week now, and have been slowly settling back into our normal lives here at home. After three weeks of having grandparents, aunts and cousins all around, it has been a bit tricky adjusting to being just us again, especially as P is working away from home for a while and only comes home on the weekends. I feel a bit teary every time I think back on our trip, it was so mazing to spend time with my family again and for them to spend time with Little T, and yet it seems like we hardly had any time together at all. We waited so long to see each other, years to be exact, and then it was all over in the blink of an eye. I don't want to sound ungrateful though, I know that some time together is always better than no time at all and I do have some wonderful and beautiful memories of our time together to look back on.

My sister is a wonderfully talented cook and treated us to many, many delicious meals over our stay, but the one meal that stands out from all the rest was the time she came home with a squirming bag of live lobsters! Caught that morning somewhere along the beautiful coast line of Nova Scotia, these were a treat like no other. There was some deliberation on the best way to get these little critters into the freezer, but in the end with plenty of squeals and screams from all of us, and a big pair of kitchen tongs, we got them in.

From the freezer into huge pots of boiling water they went and then we waited with ill disguised impatience for them to turn bright pink.

As neither my parents nor I had ever tried lobster before, my sister was very generous and bought each of us our very own lobster, plus a couple of spare ones. A good thing that was too or there may have been a bit of a scrapple to get another little bite of sweet and delicious meat :)

We were very lucky with the weather and got to enjoy weeks of hot and sunny days, and we were very happy to spend most of our time in my sister's beautiful home and garden. Finding trips out that would cater to all of the ages in our group of seven was a little bit challenging, so staying at home, letting the kids run around and play together, while we caught up and chatted away was one of the best options for all of us.

Don't worry though, we did do a few fun things, like going to the Annapolis Valley to pick blueberries. I have never seen nor tasted such big and sweet blueberries in my life and we spent a glorious morning between the bushes, picking a huge boxful to take home.

On our way home, we stopped at the gorgeous Gaspereau Valley Fibres Farm Wool Shop. This little gem of a shop is stocked to the rafters with all natural fibres, plenty of them from Canada and some even spun right there on site from the fleeces of the animals on display on the farm surrounding the shop.

My mum and I had a leisurely browse around the shop while the rest of the family had a look around the farm. The friendly and helpful staff was happy for us to squish and fondle the yarn to our hearts content as we desperately tried to come to a decision on which yarn to buy.

It was without a doubt one of the most amazing yarn shops I have ever had the pleasure of visiting and I dearly hope that I will have the opportunity to go there again some day.

We also had a great day walking around the stunning Shubenacadie wildlife park, where we encountered some of Canada's beautiful creatures. The kids were able to run around, feeding the peacocks and ducks while my parents marvelled at seeing moose, mountain lions and wolves for the very first time.

Of course we did make several trips to the shops too, I couldn't go home before I stopped by Michael's first and as always I had to stock up on all of the wonderful choc-chips and other baking paraphernalia that can only be found on that side of the pond.

This visit may have been heart-wrenchingly short and even though I now miss my family even more than before, I wouldn't exchange it for all of the money in the world.