Tara Tuesdays – Part Eleven

Productiveness….oh and a bit more about my Grand Tour…!

I have been having a bit of a productive streak of late and you may recall last week I told you about my knitted squares that are for my patchwork blanket?! Well, I decided to use the non-alpaca yarn squares to make up a patchwork cushion which I started sewing up this week. It took a REALLY long time and was tricky in parts BUT I am delighted with the final result which I have now finished! What do you think?! I am thinking if the cushion looks like this, how cool will the blanket look?!

Also, very recently I caught up with one of good friends Liz from my old job. A while back she had kindly knitted me some Milagro hearts that are from the “Gifted, lovely little things to knit and crochet book” by Mags Kandis (she used MY alpaca yarn I hasten to add!!!!). Liz is a fabulous knitter and we made friends at work when I saw her knitting during lunchtime in the lift lobby. 10 minutes later I had grabbed my knitting and joined her and we spent most lunch times together every day from then on in!! We hadn’t quite worked out how to join the hearts together as there is a pattern in the book to make a door hanger from them. We decided to knit an I-cord and sew it through the hearts, the finished result looks like this!

Much better than the original pattern (even if I do say so myself) and again I was thrilled with how this turned out! Every time I look at it, it will remind me of Liz!

When I last wrote about my travels I had enthused (and some) about my beach trek, but we did so much more in Wales! We went to Portmeiron which I was a bit underwhelmed with but also Harlech Castle which was amazing! As a vertigo sufferer, I confronted and conquered my fear and was almost blown off the top of the Castle! It was stunning however and well worth it! I even found a fabric shop in Harlech (there’s a thing) and bought some great fabric that was a discontinued line of Sofa Workshop material which I am sure I can make something lovely from when I find the right project for it!

We met up with our friends Andy and Claire again on the Saturday and had a great meal with them and then drove to Porthmadog on the Sunday and travelled on the Blaenau Ffestiniog railway which was brilliant! I managed to get some fab shots of the train out of the window, one of which I have attached. We had a fish and chip supper in the Harbour in Porthmadog and then headed back to Arthog where we had a beer watching the sun go down. This is my favourite picture of the whole holiday (apart from my riding ones of course!) and I must have this enlarged and framed and put onto canvas, small hint there for hubby if he is reading?!

Our hosts at the Slate Shed had suggested we drive up to the Lakes and we thought that as they had seen the Landy, they must have thought we were hard core off roaders! We made our way to the Lakes on the most scariest track. This was driving at it’s hairiest for me!!!! There was one bend where I just couldn’t get the car to go any further. Being a non-experienced 4 wheel driver (I have only used it twice in the snow!) it didn’t even enter my head to put the 4 wheel on, doh! I shouted at hubby “Why isn’t the car moving, what’s wrong with it?!” and was getting myself into a real pickle with a stress neck and everything, so decided to reverse down the track a bit and then put my foot down and give it some welly to get it round the bend. Why I hadn’t thought of this before I don’t know! There were what seemed like hundreds of gates that we had to keep opening and closing and we stopped for some pictures and tried to do some timed ones of us doing star jumps! What is so funny about this picture and the other ones not included here is that none of them caught us jumping, just the end bits!!!! It made us laugh anyway! When we finally got back onto the main road, Si a day later went back to take a picture of the road we had driven down. If you zoom into this picture you will see it is UNSUITABLE FOR MOTOR VEHICLES! That aside, we had such a great time in Wales and I would most definitely go back there!

The next part of our trip was to Cornwall but we broke the journey up and stayed at Winscombe first which was lovely. We stopped off at Raglan Castle and TreTower en route. Our hosts cooked us a fabulous meal and we had coffee and snuggled up with a roaring fire afterwards! It was a long drive to Cornwall from Winscombe which is near Somerset so we stopped off at Cheddar Gorge which was minutes away from where we were staying.

That’s probably enough now for this week, so more on our adventures in Cornwall next time when I get to almost the end of our wonderful trip, all good things have to come to an end at some time I guess! TTFN!

Tara Tuesdays – Part Ten

Tara – I love your blogs about your travels as you’re so enthusiastic about your trips and always take great photos! Will look forward to the next one and in the meantime I love the fact that I can see how the patchwork blanket turned out after you used my Accuquilt cutter, takes 2 minutes to cut all the squares and 6 months to sew lol, pmsl and all that jazz!

Oops upside your head!

I thought it probably sensible, and more importantly so as not to upset the boss, that this week I should write about some of the things I have been making lately to include a little show and tell. I expect you are all bored by my holiday escapades although I do still have some more to share with you on that….sorry!

Anyway, back to my craft stuff. For some time now I have been knitting squares using mainly alpaca and Rooster DK yarns and once I have enough (100 I think) I plan to sew them all together and then back with some fabric for a snuggly cosy blanket. Here are some of my favourite squares made so far:

Patterns have been taken from “200 knitted blocks” by Jan Eaton and “201 knitting, motifs, blocks, projects & ideas” by my Teacher Nicki Trench. My aunt gave me the idea to make a blanket as she is doing something similar and she also bought be the knitted blocks book too. This is my ongoing project which I will get done as and when, what is nice about it is you can just pick it up when you feel like it and it doesn’t take too long to knock up a square or two! It has also been a great opportunity for me to practice different patterns, cable & slip stitch as well as decreasing and increasing! Since writing I have changed my mind again on this and think the squares knitted using the DK yarn will probably be better as a cushion cover as they are a different size to the alpaca squares, so still more to knit me thinks!

I have a stall at my Village Summer Fair in July and as I have had a bit of spare time on my hands recently I made these cushions which I hope to sell.

I used 16 inch pads and quite like the quartered patchwork look. Some of the fabrics are from a donated bag of remnants from Em and the red cushion is Cath Kidston and some other fabrics I already had.

The bird and flower appliqued cushion is my own creation but I was inspired by my teachers latest book “A passion for quilting” and I used her templates to make this. I have other stock for sale and as there are four of us in my gang, all of our creations will be on our stall.

In a moment of weakness I offered to make two of my dear friends a patchwork blanket for their Christmas gift (last year I hasten to add!) I did say to them at the time that there was no chance that it would be ready in time for Crimbo; however last week (only six months late) I finally finished it! My friend Uta picked out the majority of the fabrics from my stash and also provided her own fleecy blanket for me to back onto. However, as with most sewing projects, it needed altering so I had to use more squares than originally envisaged. One Monday night at our weekly get together before Crimbo, Em kindly brought her Accuquilt machine along for me to use to cut the squares which helped enormously! I eventually got round to sewing three of the lines together but then left it until this week where I managed to complete the whole thing. Dave (Uta’s partner) has contributed to the blanket by donating a couple of his shirts, as have hubby and I! I was really pleased with how it turned out. Both Dave and and even my bears seemed to like it, so much so, they fancied a bit of “Oops upside your head!” Commissions considered if anyone is interested….

Until next time……….

Tara Tuesdays – Part Nine

Although I’m away in Cornwall, I have been able to update my blog in a lovely cafe with internet access overlooking the beach.  I am actually looking at a very similar scene to the one described by Tara and her pony trekking!  The beach is in front of me and I’m surrounded by people in wet suits.  My view this morning:

Here is ‘Tara Tuesdays Part Nine’:

After having a lovely time with our friends Andy and Claire in Shropshire our next stop was Wales. We had arranged to meet up with Andy and Claire on the Saturday and Sunday of our stay here as they have a caravan not far from Porthmadog and we wanted to see more of them before we headed off to our next stop off. Andy being a familiar driver in Wales kindly planned a scenic route for us through Bala which was quite frightening, a sheer drop on one side of the road! I took it very slowly but we arrived at Arthog in one piece where we stayed at the Slate Shed. We were greeted with a much needed pot of tea and unpacked the Landy once again and went to our room which was beautiful – the photo below shows our view from where we had breakfast every morning!

We went for a short but steep walk as we were staying on the Mawdach trail and we had seen Julia Bradbury do her railway walks programme here too. We were going out for dinner that evening so we didn’t have as much time as we wanted but we still had a small explore. The camera’s SD card decided to die at this point too which caused us no end of problems later on. We had two tiny spare cards and it was a case of having to save pictures to the laptop every night and then delete which became a pain until we bought a new card!

Our hosts at the Slate Shed had recommended the 3 eateries that we went to during our time and I have to say we had some of the nicest food ever, the lamb was delish, I had proper (not out of a tin) corned beef too, absolutely gorgeous!

I had been looking forward to this part of our holiday SO much as we were staying very near to a Pony Trekking Centre and I had pre-booked a beach trek on the estuary. As the time had FINALLY come I was beside myself with excitement! We got to the Centre far too early and no-one was about although we could just see through one of the doors where I saw someone tacking up 2 horses. Eventually Sophie opened the door and I filled in the paperwork and went to meet my ride Della. She is a 10 (or 12) year old 14.2 hh grey part cob mare and she looked tiny compared to Bomber! I was SO lucky as it was just me on the trek!!!! FANTASTIC or what! I later found out that the group can be up to 28 people! I got onto Della and we headed down to the beach. Hubby was the chief photographer and did me proud with the shots and videos he got of me! He endured about a 6 mile trek to meet up with us too, bless him! What a top chap he is! I haven’t ridden out in the open since I first started riding when I was 9 years old so this in itself, and even before we got to the beach, was just perfect! Della was an absolute joy to ride, so responsive and unlike Bomber, this was a real treat for me. Sophie and I got on like a house on fire and chatted away like two old friends even though we had only just met! Her horse is called Bianca and she is almost 30 years old and quite feisty! We got to the beach and trotted IN THE SEA! And then we had a really long & fast canter across the beach! OH MY GOD, this was just my best riding experience EVER! We did another canter and then headed back to the Centre but also squeezed another one in on the way! All in all, the entire trek was 2 hours and really was worth the money. I want to go back to Wales SO much even if it is only to experience this again! I was on such a high for the rest of the time we were away and wanted to tell anyone who would listen about my experience! What a lucky, lucky girl I am! This will stay with me forever!  Check out the state of my boots afterwards too!

We did tons more whilst we were here but I will save all that for next time!

Tara Tuesdays – Part Eight

I didn’t realise Tara stayed with a Blue Peter presenter, I have grossly underestimated her star power!  Here is part eight…

Grand Tour continuation

I hope by now that you aren’t getting bored by hearing about my shenanigans on holiday as there is still plenty more to come! We had a pleasant drive to Derbyshire and were staying with Simon Groom (from Blue Peter) and his lovely wife Gilly at Manor Farm in Dethick. For me, this farm is something straight out of Country Living magazine! Everything is just perfect and I would live there if I could, not sure how Gilly would feel about that but anyway! Due to a mix up on the booking our original plan was to stay here for 3 nights and then to move onto the Peacock at Rowsley which is somewhere hubby has always wanted to stay. Unfortunately we only had to stay with Gilly one night, and then we went to the Peacock and then came back to Gilly. However, this worked in our favour as we had so much luggage and were able to leave it Manor Farm until we came back which helped no end!

The weather wasn’t great although we did have one really good day. We have been to Derbyshire a few times before as hubby’s Dad was from Bakewell and it is just such a beautiful part of the world. Whilst we were here we visited Chatsworth, OMG wow factor! It was great to watch the programme that has recently been on the BBC all about it as we were lucky enough to see it in all its glory without the scaffolding! Some of it was very over the top and not my taste at all but some of it was just amazing! Pics below.

We also visited Lady Bower Reservoir, which initially I thought was going to be some boring war type thing so I wasn’t overly keen. Well, I soon changed my mind when we got there! It reminded me of Canada (not that I’ve ever been to Canada) but you know what I mean! The Dam Busters was filmed here apparently (bit of useful info for you there) and it was simply breath-taking!

And we went to the Blue John and Speedwell Caverns when we had the worst weather ever! Very interesting stuff!

Our next stop was Wollerton in Shropshire where we were staying with our dear friends Andy & Claire. Claire was just the best as she did not some, but ALL of my washing for us which was fab as we were getting short on the smalls front! We had a great couple of days with them, RAF Cosford and Stokesay Castle before heading onto Wales! Unfortunately, when we got to Wales the memory stick in the new camera died and I hadn’t saved our pics to the laptop at that point so I don’t have any shots to share from here yet, sorry!

More on Wales next time, where I experienced the highlight of my trip!