May the road rise up to meet you

I was reminded of this lovely Irish blessing when we were walking in the Peak District this week. The words here of the first part are so apt for our walks in beautiful hills.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.

The wind was not always at our backs, our fault for going away just after Storm Eunice and getting a little bit of the next one or two as well, which meant some windy nights and days, but it was still a brilliant trip. You can always tell how good a walk is by how muddy you are and this was me at the end of day one!

We stayed at a lovely little site called Poplar’s Farm, not far from Ashbourne and spent four nights there.

We had a few specific walks in mind, one inspired by a video from Darren of Scoobie Dee and managed to do them all, albeit a little shortened due to the rain coming in on the last day.

I love the fact that the weather changes so much in the Peak District and the effects on the light and the clouds are amazing.

Our first day we went to Lud’s Church, a short walk across a ridge and down through some woods to this gorge. It was very muddy due to the recent storms but still a brilliant walk, the colours of the moorland and skies just stunning.

On the second day we went to Carsington Water and I got the chance to try out my new binoculars. There are so many different birds who live here and I got to see my first ever cormorant. That was a beautiful sunny day, but with a very fierce wind. Look at these wonderful blue skies!

The final day was the trip to the Dragon’s Back, two amazing hills just over the border in Staffordshire. I had seen Darren’s video last year and although we only got half way round the bottom of the hill before the weather turned bad it was an amazing journey there. I hope to go back one day, maybe not in February, and attempt the walk again.

As always we kept ourselves amused with dice and card games each evening. We are really looking forward to the big trip to Scotland and the Hebrides later this summer. Jacky will be away a few times more in the van before then as well. I am very lucky to be able to share van life with her.

We have a very exciting trip planned on Sunday as we are going to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show in Birmingham 🙂 I have got to be good and not be tempted to actually buy a campervan, (still hoping to pass my driving test next month and then we will see what happens), but we are very excited just to go and look at everything so I will take lots of photos of ideas for if I do get a van.

Meanwhile I am spending time sorting out equipment and clothing for this year’s adventures, be they in tent or van. I have gradually added to my outdoor wardrobe, this week’s purchases being extra thermal layers, so am fully kitted out for fun in any weather. Most of the things that I bought last year for my new mini camping kit were fine, I just needed to replace a couple of items.

I hope that you have had a nice week, my week ahead will involve a lot more crafting as I am now on a deadline to get things finished for my niece before I go back to Spain so should be able to show you some of that soon.

Whatever you do have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Ashmolean treasures

In the summer when we went to Oxford we visited various museums including the Ashmolean and I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful textiles there. There were various exhibition sections and one of my favourites was Mediterranean Threads, showcasing 18th and 19th century Greek embroidery.

The light was understandably not good enough to take many detailed pictures, but they have got a detailed look at the exhibits at this link here. This was one of my favourite pieces, there is so much detail here.

There was also some stunning Japanese silk embroidery, the sheer scale of the pieces and the fine work never ceases to amaze me, I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of this on one of my visits to China and it is incredible work.

I have been really enjoying reading the theses about Bess of Hardwick and the museum had some treasures from that era as well.

The sweet bags I have seen before but the most interesting was this set of wooden serving boards for sweetmeats, that had verses on the back that could then be read aloud.

This set comprised 12 boards in a storage box and dated from 1600. I can imagine that Bess may have had something similar for her table at one of her many houses.

We ate at a stunningly decorated restaurant one evening, Comptoir Libanais, that we found by just walking past. The food was as stunning as the décor and you can see more at their Instagram. I can heartily recommend a visit if there is a branch near you. I love the use of colour and tiles everywhere.

Craft wise I am still knitting, am onto another rabbit at the moment, but have plans to do some more cross stitch soon. Last summer I discovered Readly, a fantastic app that gives you access to lots of digital magazines for one small monthly fee, so I have been enjoying looking at lots of embroidery and cross stitch magazines. I used to do mainly cross stitch when the children were young but have not done much for years apart from the Christmas ornaments. I have found some gorgeous little caravan and camper patterns in one of the magazines so am planning to start that soon.

We have spent part of this weekend preparing the campervan as we are off on a little jolly to the Peak District tomorrow. I was looking back at the other post that I did about Oxford earlier and was reminded that was my very first retirement trip, although it took place before had officially finished work for good. This upcoming one will be my seventh adventure, (counting all of the camping ones last summer as one big one), not bad for just over 6 months of retirement! It makes me very, very happy to be able to do the things that I had planned and I am very grateful to be able to do this.

We have various walks planned including one to the Dragon’s Back, near Buxton. I doubt the weather will give us views like this but we are excited to be away and outdoors anyway. Picture and walk details from here.

I hope that you have all had a good week and have not been too battered by storms if you have been in the UK. It was interesting having a driving lesson in high winds yesterday but everything was fine here. Have a good week ahead, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Tudor times and city beauty

I am currently living in the city of Worcester, a place I know well. Ellen was at university here and my sister has lived here for about 16 years so we have visited many times. It is a very beautiful place with a wealth of fantastic Tudor, Georgian and Victorian architecture.

I have been wandering around taking pictures of some of the lovely buildings and thought that I would share them with you. Yesterday was also the Living History weekend here so I visited the Lypett Household at the wonderful Greyfriars, a National Trust property where Ellen had her first job when she was a student.

The Hopmarket is a wonderful example of Victorian building and is where the hops used for brewing were originally sold from. There are some lovely cafes and shops here, including a very cute little wool shop that I have just had to support.

Some of the buildings have been repurposed, the Hopmarket used to be a hotel and bank and the church below is now a branch of a pub chain, the inside is still as beautiful and Ellen and I have been here many times to eat.

I have not yet been inside the Guildhall, Kerry is due to visit in March so I am saving that for her but it looks amazing, look at these gates!

There are so many beautiful buildings on the main street as well. We also visited a gorgeous tiled Victorian pub last weekend.

The Tudor group looked wonderful inside Greyfriars, the outside of which is pictured above. I have visited a few times before so did not take many pictures as Kerry and I are visiting there as well, so I shall post more after that. I had a great time talking to them about their costumes, weaving and natural dying techniques. It was so nice to be with re-enactors again.

There are also some very cute tea-shops in the city so I am on a mission to visit as many as I can before I leave. This one is called G and Tea and is very near to Greyfriars. The cake was excellent and I particularly loved the little tea strainer, I remember those from my childhood.

I have had a very productive week working on my novel. It is set partly at Hardwick Hall which is an Elizabethan mansion, so it was a fitting end to the week to meet this group, some of whom also have an interest in Bess of Hardwick. I have found quite a few PhD theses about Bess and the hall and am looking forward to reading those over the coming weeks. It is nice to be using the academic skills for something very pleasurable and I am really enjoying the research for the book.

We were able to go to a gig on Friday to see some of the singer songwriters that Jacky loves and had an excellent evening. It was so nice to be in the company of people and hearing live music and there were some excellent songs played. It is wonderful to be able to do such normal things and I am very grateful that things are happening again.

I am working on a gift for my niece at the moment, well two of them but won’t be able to reveal one for a while. I am putting my new machine to good use and will be able to show you some more knitted cuteness soon.

I hope that you have all had a good week and are looking forward to the week ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Stepping back in time, in many respects

This post is going back to some of my travels this past summer, to tell you about all the loveliness from museums that I did not have chance to post about when I was travelling. As you may expect it involves re-enactment and historic costume 🙂

Our first trip was a very special day out to visit our friends in our re-enactment group, Swords of Mercia, most of whom we had not seen for about 2 years. We were not able to join in the full event at Nottingham Castle, due to number restrictions because of the virus, but did have a very lovely day in Nottingham.

We found a beautiful location for lunch, completely by accident, just wandering through the city centre. The Nottingham Secret Garden is one of the many venues that have adapted brilliantly to outside eating and drinking, despite the British weather and we had a delicious tapas lunch there. The interior rooms are also beautiful, though I don’t think that they are open at the moment.

The encampment at the castle was smaller than usual, due to the need to keep distancing but it all worked really well and our friends had a lovely time doing both show and tell and small fight demonstrations. There were people from lots of groups there, all representing different time periods in the castle’s history.

We have some hugely talented people in our group and both of our leatherworkers have spent the down time due to the pandemic refining their skills. Symon and David both do exceptional work making scabbards and bags. These are some of David’s beautiful sword scabbards. If you ever need anything like this, or a decorated leather bag, or a beautiful bespoke hair ornament do visit Buffy Historical Leatherwork and Lionhead Leather.

We were also excited to visit the newly refurbished museum within the castle. After a quick stop in the café for a gluten -free cream tea and a look at their fabulous button wall, we headed for the lace and costume displays.

Nottingham is famous for its lacemaking, firstly hand made lace and latterly machine lace so the displays were fascinating. There were some gorgeous garments from the last 150 years.

They also had lots of samples of lace and the jacquard machines and hole punch cards that were used to make the fabric.

One of my favourite things was this panel commemorating World War 2. A small but really well thought out exhibition with lots of information and very interesting pictures of the lace makers and their craft. Well worth a visit.

We have been invited back to Nottingham Castle to do another event this coming July, fingers crossed we can all go this time, so looking forward to it. Hopefully all of the events that are planned will be able to go ahead this year.

Jacky has been doing some work to the campervan as we go away again in a couple of weeks which is very exciting. I have had a busy week with trying to perfect reversing into parking spaces on my driving lessons, continuing with my very enjoyable creative writing course on Zoom with the WEA, and working on my novel. I have now written 11, 958 words so far and it is really starting to take shape. It takes me back to the days of writing the doctorate, thankfully over a year ago now. It so lovely to be writing things just for me and I am thoroughly enjoying the process.

I hope life is good with all of you, and that you are enjoying your weekend whatever you are doing. I will be back soon with more lovely museum textiles so until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.