I have created this blog to share my interest in all forms of stitching, quilting, sewing, knitting, medieval re-enactment and costume making – particularly my love of historical embroidery. I also love travelling,especially when it also involves any of my other interests.
The planned visits to Trust properties didn’t happen due to some heavy rain so instead I have been taking advantage of the time to organise the van and have a walk around the village.
This is what I love about being able to travel with no time restrictions, I can spend my life being able to not worry about seeing everything at once, and just enjoy where I am. I will be back in this area in the summer so will add the properties to my list for then.
Wolverley is a very cute little English village, and had a couple of unusual features that make is special.
The first is a local legend concerning the Lord of the Manor, Sir John Attwood, who went off to fight in the early 1200s in the Middle East. He was injured and captured, but was then allegedly mysteriously returned home by a swan.
The legend is commemorated by a carving near the river and the knight’s effigy can be found in the local church.
The Manor House is now a nursing home, but there are many other beautiful old houses, showing this has always been a place of importance. This one below was built in 1876 and reminds me of Lacock Abbey, another Trust house.
There are also some very cute cottages in the middle of the village, some made even more special by the matching garlands on the doors!
I love the idea of spring or Easter wreaths as well as Christmas ones, these tulips are so pretty. It was lovely to see all the trees in blossom along the river.
The village is dominated by a beautiful church which sits high on the red rock outcrop, with a winding path up to it.
As with all old churches there were some gorgeous headstones.
There was also some beautiful embroidery done by the local Mothers’ Union and WI.
I have seen a similar Mary stitching in other churches so maybe it was a common thing for the Union to make.
In the church there was also this very unusual stitched map. There were cross stitched pictures done from photos of village locations with an embroidered map of the village, and information about the houses.
It was there I discovered that the village had some old Rock houses. Similar to the cave houses in Spain, these are a feature of this area.
There were two old ones in the centre of the village, clearly long abandoned but it looked like one had maybe been used for a Nativity or Santa’s Grotto.
I love little wanders like this, off the main tourist trail, it is so interesting what you find. I ended with a nice pint of cider watching a boat go through the lock, all in the name of canal history research you understand!
The van is now sorted properly, I needed to live in it again for a while to work out where things would be be stored and maximise my space.
I will be going back to my sister’s tomorrow and leaving Katy behind for a few months. I still have lots of adventures planned though so will be back here with more of those soon.
Hope you all have a good week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
The secondary school I went to was a very traditional one, with a founder’s day and a school song which started with this line. I do also remember something about it being ‘bright with gardens and rich in streams’.
We also had four different houses that you belonged to, a bit like Hogwart’s, and my house was Severn. The others were Avon, Bredon and Cotswold.
So I grew up knowing the Severn Valley quite well, at least my part of it, but have been keen to explore other areas on my UK trips. I am currently camping in Worcestershire, just outside a little village called Wolverley.
I chose this location as it is right by the canal as well so I’ve been doing some canal walks and visiting some canal heritage sites. There are also squirrels that play in front of the trees and I love seeing them.
The River Severn was a very important one in terms of trade in the area. It is the longest river in the UK and runs from its source in Wales, through the major cities of Worcester and Gloucester to join the sea near Bristol. This meant that the river, and the canals that joined it, were vitally important for trade.
I have always loved visiting canals, living so close to the one in Marsden I walked there a lot. It was doing the history of canals course with the WEA last autumn thar gave me a new appreciation of what feats of engineering they are. I love all heritage and appreciate industrial heritage just as much as the grand houses that I love.
Walking alongside this part of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal you can only marvel at the rock that had to be cut through to make the route. Many routes followed contour lines and so this canal has many bends in it.
It is also very wide in places, making it good for trade, though there are lots of locks that can still only take one boat at a time. Ultimately it was these delays that made the new railways so much more competitive, and so many were closed.
Happily there has been a lot of restoration for leisure purposes and so boats can be seen up and down this canal. Many of the houses also have their own moorings. I love the decorations in the second photo from one of the canalside houses.
I also visited Stourport on Severn, which in the Georgian era was the second biggest inland port in the UK. The canal linked with the river and with the Trent and Mersey canal, enabling goods to be transported north.
The river was very high, probably as a result of all the snow that we had last week melting. There are often floods in this area.
Thankfully the canal basins have been saved and although there is no trade now, there are places to hire narrow boats and the surrounding wharves and canal hotels have been preserved.
It has been lovely being back camping in Katy and I have not been too cold at all. There was one night where it was -3 and I woke up to ice on the inside of the windows, but I was warm and toasty with my fleeces and hot water bottles.
I have a couple of new things in her, the mandala I stitched looks very lovely and I have a cute new storage tin. A friend had a similar one which I loved so found this on Ebay.
I was also given these cute lavender sachets for Christmas and they have the same fabric as my cushion backs. So all is very pretty in Katy!
I am also planning a couple of National Trust visits and some woodland walking so will hopefully be able to post about those before I return to Ellen’s next week.
I hope that you are all having a good weekend, the sun is shining here and it feels very spring like, there are so many daffodils around which is lovely.
Whatever you are doing have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
On my travels I met many lovely people who shared my enthusiasm for the outdoor life. One of the things that I especially love about being at campsites or festivals is admiring other people’s vans or tents and so I have had a lovely time this summer. I thought that I would share some of my favourite finds with you.
I am very much looking forward to next summer when I will be going to at least one vanlife festival. Jacky and I went to the NEC in Birmingham last year and although that was very impressive, I am more interested in the self builds, the ones with personality, and the quirky campers. There is actually a company called Quirky Campers, where you can hire these types of holiday homes as well.
One of the very quirkiest, which we came across in the Hebrides, was the Chalet Van. It actually looks very standard inside, but the outside has a very Swiss chalet vibe. The couple that were driving it had rented it and it was certainly causing a lot of conversation everywhere they went! Love it or hate it, it is very unusual.
There were some other hire vans on the road with very distinctive paint jobs, such as this one in Scotland. I will add some more stickers to Katy, I have got some quotes that I want to add and she needs a name badge, but this takes decoration to the next level. I really love to see themed vans and am looking forward to seeing more at festivals next year. I know many van lifers don’t decorate as they want their vans to be more ‘stealth’ so they can be parked up anywhere but I do love colourful.
I met a few people travelling with Romahomes, or the similar Mezan vans. That would have been my first choice if more were available as automatic, I am very, very happy with Katy but one day there may be a Romahome in my future, when I get too old and crumbly for a micro camper 😉
Also in the small and cute category were the various versions of small caravans. I love the old style Eriba vans and there were many of those around. This one was in Scotland.
In the Lake District there was this cute little van, complete with solar panels. Again that is something that may be an option for me in the future, to have a little caravan as well as a van.
The smallest and cutest award has to go to this, the tiniest caravan that I have ever seen, pulled by a Smart car, which in itself is tiny. This was in Shropshire. It came complete with an awning and was literally the size of a double bed. I would love to have found out more about it but the couple arrived late and I left the following day so did not get chance to ask them about it.
I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but it is about 5 feet tall. I would love to know where it came from and whether it is a custom build.
Also in Shropshire were these lovely vintage set ups, next to each other, the campervan and the trailer tent. Whenever I see older vehicles like this I think about all of the adventures they must have been on in their lives, and what happy family memories are held in them.
At many other campsites were the Tent Box, or roof tents. I can see the appeal in terms of quick set up, but they do seem very expensive for the space you get. I can set up my little tent in about 15 minutes on my own and it was only £120 which is a tenth of the price of the cheapest tent box.
This adventurous couple were using their tent box on top of a trailer, it looked great for fine weather but it was certainly not a 2 minute job to pack it all away.
It is lovely to see so many people out and about again, after the last two years it is so precious to be able to do all this and to see other people having fun. I have always loved camping, I know for many people it is their worst nightmare but I just love the camaraderie, the being in such beautiful locations and the sense of adventure I get. Even if I am just sitting reading in Katy it feels special.
I am however getting used to being in one place again and slowly getting back into the routine of Spain. We have lots of nice things planned with the sewing and knitting groups over the next few months, including a Christmas decoration workshop that I will be leading, so I have been amusing myself buying pretty ribbons and beads for that. Unfortunately that was one thing I didn’t think I would be doing here so gave away all of my old stash!
I am also going to try and set myself some targets for these next couple of months, I don’t seem to have done very much crafting at all since retirement as I have been too busy so thought a few concrete goals might help me focus! There are so many projects on my WIP pile 😉
I am off to knitting group now, am currently making some of Julie’s reindeer for a Christmas fundraiser, looking forward to making some of the cute seasonal clothes, can’t decide which dress to go for though as they are all gorgeous. More of that in the next post. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
By the time you read this post I will have spent a total of 8 weeks on the road experiencing van life for the first time in my own van, rather than Eva, my sister’s wonderful van. So I thought that it would be useful to think about how things have gone.
I have been watching another set of videos on YouTube recently, hosted by Wild She Goes, where she interviewed other women living in vans about their experiences as solo travellers. It has been really interesting and made me think about the reality versus my expectations when I wrote my planning post in March.
In terms of the van and its layout I am really happy. I love the fact that I can remove the kitchen, the first couple of weeks were so hot that it was great to have that flexibility. I have used the kitchen as a food prep area but also as a lounge area in the evenings. I store my stitching in one of the compartmentsand have my wine and my tablet on the top.
For the first couple of journeys I took it down and travelled with it flat, which meant unloading all of the kitchen stuff back into the footwell storage boxes. Then I bungee corded it to the sides, there are some metal struts just for that so I used those and part of the boot shelf and it works really well. I now don’t even unload the stuff and everything has survived daily journeys as well.
The chair bed has worked very well for both day and night use. I prop it up against the blue storage box during the day which gives me a backrest. It is long enough for me to stretch out on at night and I have been really cosy. I have just bought a thicker fleece blanket as the last week has been colder at night, so use that in the evenings.
I have also bought a plastic storage unit for toiletries which lives on the front seat. This means I can access everything I need on a day to day basis without going to the tent. I keep clothes and night clothes in the blue box so I can get changed morning and night in the van.
I love having my little reading corner, I pack the books away for travelling and I have recently added a privacy curtain for when I am here reading. It also helps keeps the bugs out!
Other upgrades have been some flower garlands, to pretty up the top of the storage lockers, a dream catcher, my collection of postcards on the ceiling of all of my travels, and my growing collection of magnets. I did also put two layers of interlocking foam tiles from Aldi under the boot carpet as I could still feel the ridges initially. That has helped keep it cosy, along with the window blinds.
I am pleased that I had the little tent, especially in the first two weeks so that I could sleep in it during the really hot period. I have also used it when the pitch I have been given wasn’t suitable for using my sister’s awning, such as in the Lake District where the car was parked away from the pitches, and in Lancashire where the pitch was too small. I will definitely keep that as an option.
I tested out my sister’s awning, a Quecha Base Camp Arpanaz, at last site in the Peak District. I could pitch it by myself but it was a bit of a struggle as it is heavy and it was windy. I saw another awning on that site so have ordered something similar to this one in the second photo. I have got it for a bargain price of £60, when most others have been between £120 and £200. I don’t need as much space as the Quecha has and this one is a lot lighter with smaller poles.
I have only used Caravan and Camping Club sites, partly as they are such good value, about £7 a night on average this summer as they have had a non electric discount. I have just got my over 60s membership so will get discount next year as well. I also love the fact that the sites are so clean and well cared for with unlimited free showers and they all have laundry facilities. I also like the fact that there are friendly and helpful wardens if you need anything. I will definitely be using them as my main sites next year.
In terms of travelling so I have met so many lovely people, as last year I think people are more inclined to talk to you if you are on your own. Lots of people have been interested in the van so that has been lovely. At the last campsite in the Peak District I noticed another Renault Kangoo when I arrived and its owner, Julie, came and said hello. She is travelling full time in Roo, her fully converted van below, having a gap year from teaching. I also met up with one of the women from one of my Facebook van groups, who was in the Lake District and responded to one of my posts.
Driving has been fine so far, I have coped with some scary roads in the Lake District, very narrow lanes and busy cities and motorways. I am very proud of what I have done as a new driver, even if there have been many wrong turns when following the Sat Nav!
There have only been two mishaps so far, the friend’s gate that I mentioned previously and getting the keys locked in the car when it locked itself on me. That was a very nerve wracking hour and a half until a lovely AA man came and sorted it. Needless to say my keys never leave my side now!
I am so amazed that I am finally doing this, after so many years of planning and the setbacks during Covid and beyond. I have my three little embroideries, started during lockdown as a reminder to never give up. I am also working on some other stitching for the van as she still has a few more spaces for pretty things 😉
So to conclude this very long post, it has been amazing, wonderful, better than I ever expected and more than I dreamed of. I have been so, so happy here in little Katy and love van life more than I ever thought I would.
I am so grateful for all the people I have met, the support of my family and friends, my wonderful daughter for storing my camping stuff and especially my sister for looking after Katy when I am away. I will miss my adventures in her so much while I am in Spain. I will leave you with one final picture from one of my favourite summer evenings in Shropshire where I just sat in my van, with the back doors open, reading and watching the most amazing purple sunset.
I hope that you have all enjoyed my adventures as much as I have, until next time have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
I am sitting in Katy on a lovely sunny day in Hayfield, at the edge of the High Peak as I write this. This is my last day camping, and it has flown so fast. I am having a quiet afternoon after a busy morning sorting, and drying an awning, as yesterday was the first really wet weather of the whole 3 months here in the UK for the summer 2022 tour.
I have written a post on van life in general so this one is just about my beloved Peak District and the glorious views on my walks here. I keep saying I will have to not come back here again, and explore other parts of the UK next year but it is so lovely I might well be back!
Hayfield is where the Kinder Mass trespass started from in April 1932. I mentioned this last summer as my first stop on my 2021 UK tour was at Edale, which is just the other side of the hill. So it is a fitting end to my trip to be here again.
It was that trespass that led to legislation that gives the right to roam over all of these wonderful places and I am so grateful to be able to do this. Most of all grateful for the continued improvement in my health. I only walk for 2 to 3 hours a day but am so happy to be able to do that and explore.
My walks have taken me all around Kinder, including the now very dry reservoir. This campsite has so many brilliant footpaths from it so I have only driven once this week, to visit a textile museum that I will write about in another post.
There have been many babbling streams, old bridges, moss covered walls, friendly sheep, blue skies and amazing clouds.
I am off to my sister’s tomorrow and sorting out Katy to leave her there for the next few months. I will be at Ellen’s for a few days helping her with some decorating then back to Spain next weekend! The time has flown by and I have loved it. Now to get on with planning the winter adventures and booking sites for next summer 😉
The next post will be all about how van life has been so until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
If you are a regular reader you will know how much I love visiting museums, especially where there are textiles involved. My recent trip to Lancashire included a visit to a museum owned by the local council, Towneley Hall, and it was very interesting not just for its collections but also its history.
Burnley has a long textile heritage, much of Lancashire was involved in the wool and cotton trades and there are many mill buildings still to be seen.
This building was a rather grand house however, owned by the same family for many centuries. It had a fascinating mix of architecture, from Tudor long galleries and panelled rooms to a Regency style suite which is now used for weddings and events.
The family who owned the house decided it was too big for them and sold it to the local council in 1901, who decided to turn it into a museum. However they had nothing to put in it so they started taking donations from a number of varied sources.
This has led to a very eclectic collection, some with links to Burnley life and others random. They were no doubt very interesting to the local population when the museum was first opened, who probably marvelled at the mummy case and contents found by an Egyptologist who was a friend of the last owner.
It raises many questions about what are the purposes of museums and what functions they have. There are many debates in heritage circles about what is in our museums, and where it came from, indeed should some things be returned to their original countries?
There were a small selection of textiles from Kashmir which were very beautiful.
How things are interpreted is also interesting, this was very much a ‘things in glass cases’ type of museum, which reflects its heritage. I have been lucky enough to visit many museums of all different types and having a daughter who worked in the heritage industry find all of these questions very interesting.
There were quite a few local exhibits as well including embroidered postcards and banners from the World Wars.
It was a very nice visit and the staff were very knowledgeable and friendly, not only about the collection but also about the history of the hall so well worth a visit if you are in the area.
After Lancashire I met up with my oldest friend, Sue, celebrating 40 years since we first met at Polytechnic. We had a brilliant time catching up, we haven’t really changed a bit!
I have had a quick trip back to Ellen’s to do some car sorting. I got Katy stuck on a gate a few weeks ago but am pleased to say that my car bodywork skills are good enough that I was able to mend the damage, and some more flower stickers covered up the slight difference in paint! Also met up with a few of the medieval group for a day’s event at Nottingham.
I am now at my final campsite of this summer, back in the Peak District for my last week in Katy. I have finally got the cushion inners and have bought a new privacy curtain for when I am sitting in the back reading. I am also trying out Jacky’s awning tent to see how it works compared to my little tent.
I have been having some great walks with stunning views, the drive here was wonderful and I am surrounded by lovely hills again.
I have more museum visits to share with you so the next post will be that or Peak District views. Until next time, have fun, take care stay safe and thanks for visiting.
Having lived in Yorkshire for 35 years I feel that I know it well, I have visited, worked in and holidayed around much of the county. However I have not spent as much time in Lancashire and it has been lovely to spend more time in this part of the country.
We used to joke in Marsden, which was the last village before the border with Greater Manchester and the Lancashire area, that the War of the Roses was still remembered 400 odd years later. That war, which we re-enact one of the battles of at the Tewkesbury event, was between the house of York and the house of Lancaster for control of the throne.
Of course the borders have moved many times so parts of my current trip were once in Yorkshire anyway. It was amusing to be driving in and out of Yorkshire and Lancashire as I travelled around.
I have been staying in Clitheroe at a lovely quiet site just next to the River Ribble. The town has a castle and is very near one of my favourite National Trust houses, Gawthorpe Hall, with its amazing textile collection. It was very hard to resist a 4th visit 😉
Since I have been on the road for about 9 weeks now I have decided to have a quiet few days here.
A walk by the river on a sunny Sunday was just what was needed, time to stop and look at the berries and the acorns, no squirrels to be seen though.
There was a lovely bridge and a little further exploration led to a nice pub with a little sunny garden to sit in.
I did actually go back into North Yorkshire on my second day here as the route I was planning was very fog bound and though I am OK with country lanes it is nice to see where you are going when you really don’t know where you are going!
I headed for Settle and was rewarded with beautiful scenery for a walk around Austwick, where Jacky and I stayed nearly 3 years ago on our first Dales trip.
It was lovely to be there again, following the old bridleways.
There were some very friendly cows!
I have spent the evenings stitching and have now got a nice collection of Christmas ornaments finished. I may make a couple more just for my tiny tree then need to move on to some knitting.
There are 6 of these ones in the picture above, which are for the Huddersfield friends. The ones below are for the rest of the family. All of the designs come from the JBW book I bought last Christmas.
I have also been enjoying sitting in my little reading nook in Katy, I need to try and get through as many of these books as I can in the next 3 weeks!
I have visited a little museum which was very interesting from a heritage management aspect so I shall be back soon with more pictures from that trip. As for the War of the Roses I think both the red and the white rose counties are equally lovely, though my heart will always belong to Yorkshire ! Until next time have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
As I mentioned in my last post I have been doing a lot of driving around the Lake District and there have been some quite challenging roads. Everywhere there are small winding, narrow roads so it has been great practise for me.
The biggest challenge was driving to Ullswater via the Kingstone Pass, the highest road pass in the Lake District at around 1500 feet above sea level. I don’t have any pictures as just needed to keep going! It winds up and up with amazing views then you have to drive all the way down again.
I am very proud of myself for achieving this, I am really enjoying the driving and van life generally. Even after all this time I get a huge thrill sitting in my cosy little Katy on an evening with my wine and stitching watching even more van life videos!
The drive was rewarded by the stunning views of Ullswater, the second largest lake. I wanted to see the Aira Force waterfall but the car park was full. Luckily there was another National Trust car park a couple of miles away and I had a beautiful walk along the Ullswater Path to the waterfall and back.
I have been making good use of my Trust membership again here and visited a fantastic house which I will tell you about in the next post.
I also met up for coffee with another solo female van owner who I got in contact with through a Facebook group I am a member of. She saw the post about my drive through Kirkstone and got in touch as she was in the area.
It was brilliant to meet up with someone else who shared my passion. She has a beautiful van, acquired in May and is off to Ireland next. The group does organise camping meet ups so hopefully I can join one of those next year.
I had a fascinating walk around the hills of Coniston after we met and discovered a copper mine that has been preserved as a heritage site. You can event rent cottages and have weddings there. It was a wonderful insight into life in the Lakes.
There were also so many waterfalls on the trail.
Next stop is Lancashire, a county I lived next to for 35 years but never explored much so I have a few days there before our next re-enactment event.
Hope you are a having a lovely autumn, or spring wherever you are. It has been wonderful to sit and watch the squirrels hiding nuts and see the leaves turn. I have always considered autumn as a time of new beginnings, comes from 35 years of teaching and am excited to return to Spain in a few weeks.
The rabbits have still been very active and have come really close to the van in the evenings.
Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
One of the most famous people connected with the Lake District is Wordsworth, who wrote the poem about daffodils that starts with the above line. I have been doing lots of wandering this week, not lonely but solitary, looking at the beauty of a Lake District preparing for autumn rather than spring.
The campsite is set in a very rural area just outside Windermere, perfect for walks with stunning views. I have a new mapping app so used that to find footpaths in the local area. I love the old footpath signs and the stone stiles here.
The first day’s walk had brilliant views across to the fells and I met some very cute Herdwick sheep. The Lakeland walls are so beautiful, especially when covered in moss.
The second day was a woodland walk, and I came across the best little den I have seen in a forest. It had clearly been there for ages by the moss on it.
The autumn foliage was wonderful, there were so many berries. I could have made the best blackberry crumbles if only I had an oven in the van!
The site is full of rabbits who are so tame, they are just hopping around the tents eating grass and fallen leaves.
Day 3 was a drive to Windermere and then after a walk along the shore I did a bit of practise at driving down all the little country lanes on the way back. I am loving all the exploration that I am able to do now that I have Katy.
This is such a lovely place to be and I was very glad to have 8 nights here as that gave me lots of chance to explore. I will tell you more about the rest of the week in the next post. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.
Our final two days were spent at the Caravan and Camping Club site at Edinbane, which is next to a loch. We had not seen this part of Skye before so on our full day we drive to Neis Point to see the lighthouse there.
The views across the bay of the cliffs were incredible, there were several waterfalls tumbling down the cliffs in the distance and some amazing scenery. However the best was yet to come!
We wanted to go on a boat trip while we were in Skye, with the hope of seeing some more seals and sea birds. We went with a very knowledgeable man, Trevor, from Skye Marine, just next door to our campsite. The trip took us out into a more open loch where we saw not only seals resting on the rocks but a whole school of dolphins!
This was the highlight of the trip for me, not just one but about 50 dolphins, jumping out of the water in pairs and swimming right up to the boat. Such a magical moment that was better than anything we were expecting. It was difficult to get pictures as they were so fast but you can just see one coming up out of the water in the distance here.
There was also an amazing waterfall on one of the cliffs, an especially unexpected treat for my sister, who loves waterfalls.
A wonderful end to the holiday. We travelled back via a night at Loch Ness, no monsters sadly but after seeing, seals, deer, eagles, dolphins and possibly otters we didn’t feel too disappointed. That figure in the picture below is a paddleboarder enjoying a quiet trip.
We were planning to spend the night in Glencoe and do some walking but encountered the only bad weather of our trip at that point so drove on to a service station park up near Lanark.
When we planned this trip in January it seemed like a dream come true and it was. It was over 2000 miles, on some incredible roads, visiting eight amazing islands and meeting so many lovely people on the way.
I am back in the Lake District in a couple of weeks and will return to Scotland as soon as I can. A truly magical land.
I will be posting soon about our trip to another island, Anglesey in North Wales, as soon as I can.There may well be more pictures of waves as looking at my pictures it seems I am a little addicted!
Meanwhile have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.