Still in touch with my inner eight year old

One of the things I love about the sea is exploring the shoreline and the rock pools and seeing what you can find. As a child I loved being outdoors, I had a very active childhood and my siblings and I were always climbing trees and rocks. We spent every Sunday out somewhere, usually near water as my Dad was a keen fisherman.

The highlight of our year was our two week caravan holiday in Somerset where we would build elaborate sand creations, examine the rock pools for exciting creatures, and go crabbing from the pier. I love it and still get that sense of excitement now whenever I am near a beach.

My walk the other way along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path took me along the gorgeous Castle and South beaches, and all the way to the end of the stunning Giltar Point. The views from the point were amazing, I could see over to Caldey Island and all the way round the coastline with the most amazing cliffs.

There was so much to see as there were lots of boats going to and from the island. There were also, sadly, many dead jellyfish. I think I counted at least 8, all of the same variety and a similar size. They are fascinating creatures to watch and it was awful to see so many lying on the beach.

A couple of days later I went over on a boat trip to Caldey, the island has a Cistercian monastery and some brilliant walks where you can see more of these amazing beaches and cliffs. I also saw my first ever pair of black swans on the old abbey pond.

The following day I went on a seal cruise back to the island, it was quite choppy and it was only a small boat so there was a free roller coaster ride included! We saw lots of basking female seals, it was difficult to get pictures but trust me that is a seal bobbing up and down in the second picture.

Some truly wonderful experiences, I am so lucky to be able to have done this trip and have the life that I now have. It still doesn’t seem real yet, even after all the years of planning it. I am still very much still in holiday mode here, and still have many practical things to sort out, so have not really got into a normal routine yet. I have started learning Spanish though, I can get by in many situations but wanted to learn it in a more structured way. Luckily 20 years of teaching English grammar and basic linguistics is helpful for understanding how other languages work.

We are off on a very exciting trip this weekend as we are going to visit my brother and sister in law, Ben and Amanda, at their cave house in the mountains near Granada! They have owned the house for about 4 years, but due to the fact that they mainly come to Spain outside the school holidays, and I have not been able to do that, I have never seen it. We were going to meet up there in June last year but we all know what happened to plans in 2020!

So I will be back with you next week and may post about that before I continue with the UK tour posts. I hope that you all have a good rest of the week and the weekend. I am off to a friend’s pool this afternoon, and the beach tomorrow as it is still very hot here. I know, it’s a tough life 😉

Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Tenby and the stunning Pembroke Coastal path

I am writing this post on my newly installed Spanish internet, which is making life much easier as I am back on the laptop with a wonderful full signal! I am celebrating one week here today, almost to the hour and it has been a brilliant first week.

I have been to the pool twice, in Mum’s jacuzzi once and managed to officially mark my retirement by spending Monday morning swimming in the sea at exactly the time that I would have been starting the first day of the new term. That was something that I had planned last year and was so happy to get here in time for that. Although I finished in June the summer has felt more like just being on holiday, I now feel officially retired and ready to start my new life here, at least for the next 83 days until I have to sadly leave for 90 days 😦

Meanwhile I am still working through all the pictures from my camping trips as I still have so much more to share with you. After Devon I spent the weekend in Swansea, which I will post about later as I have a series of museum and needlework posts planned from all the lovely things that I have seen on my travels. I then went to Wales, staying a week at the amazing Meadow Farm campsite, on the hill overlooking Tenby with the most stunning views. I loved Tenby, and the campsite, and really did not want to leave there.

The coastal path passes just next to the campsite and that was one of the reasons that I chose the site as well as the views. I had a really lovely time there, the campsite manager was so friendly, I chatted to lots of people and had some wonderful evenings just sitting watching the sun shine on the sea. The picture below shows the view from outside my tent.

It is a beautiful town with the most gorgeous beaches and so many lovely pastel painted houses. I loved walking to and from the campsite and watching the tide go in and out.

A little of the town retains its medieval character, when it was heavily associated with Jasper and Henry Tudor ,later Henry 7th, and I went to visit the National Trust Merchant’s House in the town that dates from that era.

At that time Tenby was the most important port in Wales but changes in the design of boats led to its decline as it has a tidal harbour. Its fortunes were revived as a Georgian resort which means that there are so many elegant houses along the seafront as well as cute cottages from the earlier periods. It also has lots of lovely shops and cafes so is lovely to just wander round.

The first couple of days were cloudy, which was excellent walking weather, so I went along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, with some absolutely breath-taking views of the cliffs. The first walk was towards Saundserfoot, which was a challenging 5km there and back up and down hills and through woodland. I did get down to one of the little bays on route as well.

I will post next time about the other coastal path walks and the boat trips. It really is a stunning area to stay in, and I did not get chance to do all of the things that I had planned there so will return. Part of my reason for doing this tour was to look at potential places to site a caravan and Tenby is very much on the list. Devon was lovely but Wales has my heart and from a practical point of view is more accessible for my nomadic summer life of festivals and events.

Until next time hope you are all ok and having fun. I am back to the beach tomorrow for more swimming as it is still very warm here. Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Tamar trails and of course a waterfall for Jacky!

As you may know my sister is a huge fan of waterfalls so most of our trips involve those. We only saw one this trip but did have a lovely day out doing some of the Tamar trails

There was not as much of a view of the actual Tamar River from the trail but there was a fascinating history of the tin mines in the area on the trails.

The tall chimneys still survive as do many of the old workings, both from the tin mining, and later producing arsenic.

The waterfall we visited was Lydford Gorge and we did just a short walk before it was time to hit the M5 for a slow journey back to Worcester.

It was so good to spend time with Jacky again, she and I have so many interests in common and I love sharing her van life for the odd week or so. She has been away for most of the 6 weeks holidays after the stressful year that she has had as a primary special needs teacher she really deserved the rest.

I am looking forward to more adventures with her next year. Meanwhile I have some very good news, I am finally in Spain! I arrived a couple of days ago and have been spending lots of time with Mum and my aunt Maureen, including a lovely trip to the pool yesterday.

I have lots of sorting to do, not least to put together a new craft space which is very exciting. My lovely aunt and I are going shopping for some storage this afternoon so I can unpack the two large bags of craft stuff I brought with me.

I still have lots of my UK tour to post about so will do as much as I can though things may be a bit slow as I have only a poor mobile Internet signal here.

Meanwhile I hope that you have a good week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A tour of the tors

Jacky and I stayed on a beautiful campsite owned by the Caravan and Camping club outside Tavistock. We spent a lot of time driving round the tors and getting a little bit lost at times but met lots of gorgeous ponies, many, many sheep in the road and had some great walks.

On our first day we took Eva out to the tor we could see from the campsite. It didn’t look very high but was quite a steep climb but the views from the top were well worth it.

We had spotted a group of ponies drinking by a pond and were going to go down to see them when they started up the hill to us. They were very friendly and obviously well used to visitors. I think they wanted some food but we had nothing with us and would not have fed them anyway but the clearly thought the rucksack might have some treats in it.

An amazing day out, finished off with a paddle and a BBQ, which made me very happy as I had been enviously watching other people have them at the last campsite and I don’t have room for one in my little kit.

We went on to Plymouth later that week and did a lot more walking so I will post about that later. I am in Aberystwyth at the moment, having left Tenby reluctantly yesterday as it was a wonderful place. I am currently in a hotel with very lovely soft bed and so much space, a real luxury after seven nights under canvas. It does feel a bit strange as I have been getting very used to my tent but it is nice to have a few quiet days.

I wil try and post again before I leave for the final leg of the tour to Barmouth later this week. I hope that you are all having a good time whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The miracles of modern technology!

So this is my first post coming to you from my tent. I am currently in Devon and am camping at a very lovely little campsite in a village on the banks of the River Exe.

I came from Worksop on the coach and stayed overnight in Exeter as it was too late to come straight to the campsite. It is on a farm and has some chickens and a beautiful pond with a resident heron as well as ducks and moorhens.

I have not visited this part of the UK for a very long time, we came to Lulworth when the children were young but chose this as the campsite has very good public transport links, since I am doing all of this by train, bus and taxi.

So far I have had a very lovely trip on the ferry over to Exmouth and visited Dawlish Warren and been along the coast for a walk. There were lots of yachts and windsurfers to admire and it was beautiful and sunny, so much so that I got burnt as I did not realise how hot it was due to the wind.

I have had to get to grips with so much technology recently, I am writing this using the WordPress app, I have a Smartphone and am using apps on that to buy train tickets and have got power banks for charging things for life on the road. It is all very exciting and amazing that I can continue to blog and keep in touch with you all.

I am off on another train journey tomorrow, on a steam train so am really looking forward to that. I am meeting up with my sister on Monday for some campervan adventures so will be posting more later this week about the other things I have done, there will have been lots of boats involved!

I hope you are all having a good week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Walking back to happiness

I have had the loveliest time on my first solo camping trip in the Peak District. All worked out very well, I was able to manage the train with all of my luggage fine, though was in awe of the true backpackers with their minimal kit, mine was a very large bag and rucksack but I am on the road for 5 weeks and have all my cooking stuff with me and home comforts like chairs and a little table.

The campsite was excellent, in the centre of Edale, just behind the Park Visitor Centre, Fieldhead campsite is a very small site next to the stream, which was lovely to listen to, with an excellent view of the hills just before Mam Tor. It was perfect for my little new blue tent, which survived a very heavy downpour on the first night. The rest of the time the weather was very good, and I am glad that the tent has been tested in rain before I continue my adventures.

I went on two walks of about 4 km each, I was pacing myself as have not been walking consistently and need to get back into it and get my fitness back. It was just bliss though, just wandering and looking at the hills and just being able to stop and stare at all of the beauty. My little heart was very, very happy and so grateful to finally be doing the things I love.

Edale is gorgeous, with lots of cute cottages, typically English with roses at the door and beautiful gardens with drystone walls.

My first day was the walk along the valley underneath Kinder Scout, which is famous for being the site of the mass trespass in 1932 that led the way to public access rights to land. I am so grateful that we have all this to enjoy and for the people that have built and maintain the fantastic paths and bridges. I especially love all the purple heather.

The second day was a little bit of the Pennine Way, which starts in Edale and goes near my old house in Marsden. I never get tired of the views here, over to Mam Tor and am looking forward to returning there next year with Jacky and walking more of that route.

I finished the walk with the biggest pot of tea I have seen in ages and lovely cake and then a quick visit to the parish church where there were lots of very detailed needlepoint kneelers and some lovely old grave stones.

I am temporarily back at Ellen’s as we are off to a WW2 re-enactment event this weekend, just as visitors this time. More camping and am really looking forward to the displays, this is one of the biggest in the UK. Hopefully I will get chance to post about Evesham when we return and this event later in the month but blogging may be a bit sporadic when I am fully on the road for a month.

I hope that you have all had a good week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Northumbrian joys

We had a very lovely, if a little damp at the start, break in Northumberland. Beamish was once again beautiful, even in the rain and with all of the inside areas still closed, we really enjoyed the visit. We especially enjoyed seeing the steam train operating from the colliery and visiting the sweet shop where they were still making the boiled sweets by hand. These sweet moulds were fascinating to see. We will look forward to going back next year when the 1950s are is complete and the houses are open.

Our cabin on the coast was a 15 minute walk from where we parked in Alnmouth and by the time we got there it was lashing down with the most stinging, freezing rain, so we were soaked to the skin by the time we had walked along the cliff path.

The lovely host brought all our bags for us in his off road truck so we didn’t have to carry them, and we quickly had a roaring fire going in the log burner, so we soon dried off. We then had a lovely evening watching the weather from the cabin.

It had mostly cleared up by the evening so we were able to admire the view. I could very happily live there, even with it being so far from the road and loved watching the clouds, sun and sea change all the time.

Sadly our boat trip to see the seals had to be cancelled as there were very high winds on the following day but we spent a lovely morning in Alnwick. There were lots of fabulous charity shops, and a wool shop, and chocolate shop, so we had a very good time putting some money into the local economy. I will share what we got in a later post but we did very well and it was great to be able to shop again, I have really missed my charity shop visits.

We did have an unexpected visit to Warkworth Castle, which was very impressive, and then on to Amble for a blowy walk along the harbour to get a closer view of the island we had seen from our hut, which is a nature reserve for birds.

By the time we got back to Alnmouth the weather was beautiful and we were able to enjoy the walk back to the huts and onto the beach below.

One of the books in the hut was all about pebbles, with some gorgeous illustrations and it was very interesting reading. We saw some great examples of all of the different types of pebbles on the shore, as well as the rock pools and formations of Marden Rocks, which are just below the huts.

Again, a brilliant time in Northumberland, and cabin was just gorgeous. I have long wanted to go and stay in one of the Canopy and Stars‘ properties and was not disappointed. It was so beautiful and I was very reluctant to leave.

We did have a further day visiting Alnwick Gardens, Durham, and the stunning Fountains Abbey, so will post about that later. I feel very lucky to be able to have another holiday, and it was a very good way to celebrate all of the nice things that have happened to the family recently.

The weekend has been quiet and I have been enjoying my Luna and Little Cotton Rabbits crafting again. I will have some finishes to show you next time, as well as the new purchases.

Until then hope you are having fun. Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Up hill and down Dales

We were very lucky with the weather on our trip this week. Despite a cold forecast there were blue skies every day and it was beautifully sunny. I think I have even come back with a sunburnt nose 😉 We did a very commendable 18 km of walking over the three days, and most of it was very much up hill so we we were very impressed with ourselves. Jacky had a major operation just before Christmas and three months ago she could hardly walk outside, and I have been very immobile this winter, so we were really pleased to be able to tackle such walks.

We stayed at the very lovely Dalesbridge campsite near Settle, which was beautifully laid out with great facilities. Due to the restrictions there were only camper vans there the first few days but as the toilet blocks were able to open there were some tents at the end of the week. It was great to see people out enjoying themselves and we had the first BBQ and campfire of the year.

On the first day we just did a short 3 km walk in the afternoon through the Ingleborough nature trail, past the lake and the gorgeous houses of the village of Clapham. It was a beautiful day we saw lots of birds and wildflowers.

On day two we went on the Ingelton Waterfalls Walk, Jacky is a big fan of waterfalls and this trail with 6 in total did not disappoint. There were also amazing views at the top when we crossed open land with a view of Ingleborough, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

The last day was our longest trip, 8 km starting at the Ingleborough lake and going up through Trow Gill, all the way to Gaping Gill, a large pothole which has a stream running into it. This was our most impressive walk, the scenery was amazing and we had some steep climbs out of Trow Gill. We stopped mid – way for a little paddle in the stream near the cave as well. The stone formations are wonderful and of course there were lots of very friendly Dales sheep.

This may not look very steep from this angle, but it was, not so bad going up but a challenge coming down with my dodgy knees!

A really brilliant adventure, this is our third trip to the Dales in the campervan, and although there are so many other places we want to visit, we will definitely be back at some point. It is wonderful to have people that you can do lovely things with. Jacky and I really love walking and being outdoors and I am so lucky to be able to spend time with her doing all this.

I am having a quiet weekend after all that adventure, just finishing off some last bits in the house before I ring the estate agent and it goes on the market. Exciting times! I also had my first driving lesson on Monday, I didn’t bump into anything and really enjoyed it, so am looking forward to the next one. Fingers crossed my plans are all coming together.

I hope that you have a nice weekend, whatever you are doing. The sun is still shining here and it is all very lovely.Take care, have fun, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The value of reflection

As a teacher, and a teacher trainer for 15 years, I use and teach about reflection and its value, and have always enjoyed learning from my experiences. Like many other people, I have been thinking a lot about the last year as we come up to the first anniversary of the UK lockdown.

One of the reasons why I love having a blog is that it allows me to look back on my past makes, trips and life in general. One of the practical advantages is that I can always find where I sourced things from, but also it serves as a reminder of all of happy times. Unlike a diary, this blog is not about everything that happens, but the public facing positive things in my life

I have been reminded of the value of reflecting this week twice, once by my very good friend Sarah, whose blog I read this morning. She has written about her year here, and many of the things that she says I can very much relate to. She writes about her appreciation of living here in Marsden, with the beautiful countryside on our doorstep, and the advantages of not having to commute to work.

I am eagerly awaiting lambing time so I can go and see the little cuties like this one last year. Hopefully the weather will be beautiful again so we can go for lots more walks as well.

Like me Sarah’s life has changed a lot. She works at a university, in addition to being a GP, so she too has been working from home a lot. We have shared the frustrations of not being able to talk to colleagues easily, and missing the things we took for granted a year ago, like going to conferences and just spending time with people.

She has also completed far less projects than she thought she would this past year, and I can share that feeling as well, where did all that extra time go? I think for me, a lot of it went into thinking, and into connecting with others. I have certainly spent for more time talking to relatives and friends this year, on the phone and video calls, just reassuring each other that it would be ok in the end.

Early on in the lockdown I started taking part in a research project, I can’t actually remember how I found about this, maybe through an Instagram or blog post? It was run by Naomi Clarke, someone who I previously had come across as a crafter as she is an avid paper piecer. The project was called Crafting During Coronavirus and the involvement was to keep a diary for a number of weeks, recording what I was doing and how I was feeling. This is part of her PhD work on why people sew.

I really enjoyed being involved in this, I have kept diaries many times before, and being a diary, and only for Naomi to read it was good to be able to write about some of my frustrations of that time. I re-read them recently and we were all trying to get to grips with online teaching over the summer and feeling totally out of our depths. I have become quite adept at it all now, not that I want it to continue but feel very proud that I managed to get my head round all that complex stuff that was introduced last summer.

Naomi contacted me again this week, with another part of the project, which is to create a postcard to my past self. It is to be a crafted postcard so I think I should definitely make it using Liberty. One of my little lockdown treats has been spending what would have been travel to work money on more beautiful fabric like these from Duck Egg Threads.

I think it will have to be hexagons as well as you know how I love them. Not that I have done much paper piecing this year at all, that is one of the things that has not been achieved, overtaken by Barbie couture and Little Cotton Rabbits knitting! These are some of my favourite hexagon creations, made some years ago for Yarndale, so I think the postcard will have to be linen and Liberty.

She has asked us to think about what we would say to our past selves, from our current selves, knowing what we know now. Being a huge fan of any time travel time type stories I have been thinking a lot about what to write. Almost a year ago on the 21st March I wrote a blog post about the start of lockdown. I titled it ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’

I think that what I wrote then still is very true today, but even more so. I consider myself so lucky to have all of my wonderful friends and family, who have been so supportive over the past year. There have been some lovely times, like going to Whitby and Northumberland with Ellen, and Aysgarth with her and Jacky. I will put that in the postcard, along with the power of positive thought and prayer.

My focus in that post, then as now, was on crafting. The immense comfort that I have had from knitting, sewing and embroidering over the past year cannot be underestimated. I know others feel the same, judging by the amount of knitted animals that have been created in the last year on the Little Cotton Rabbits Facebook page. This Egbert, who I finished last July, wearing the first set of striped jumper and dungarees. I am now on my third jumper so have really got to grips with top down knitting.

My stressful meetings, complex concerns about the job and the students, and worrying about my family, don’t completely go away when I craft but it makes it all so much easier to bear. The blog also serves as a useful reminder that I have failed so far to use any of the fabric that I bought on that trip that I posted about last March for Barbie dresses. I have made lots, as you know, including these two made at the very start of lockdown, but just not with that fabric. Oh well, at least it doesn’t go off, does it!

My plans for this weekend are to finish another striped jumper for a little animal and to create the fabric postcard. I also have lots of little DIY tasks to do, Ellen will be up again next week the last weekend of decorating, then it will only be a couple of weeks of finishing touches before the house goes on the market. Exciting times 🙂 What is even more exciting is the Easter holidays, I am not promising much in the way of crafting, due to the house prep, but you never know.

I hope that you are having a nice weekend and that things continue to be positive in the weeks ahead as well. It is strange to think that we may be on the way to a more normal life. I was sat in a friend’s garden this week, in the sun, having a cup of tea. Over a year ago that would be commonplace but I was so grateful just to be able to be there and have a chat with her. It is, as always, the little things that make a difference.

Take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A wintery walk and the makings of a new hat!

Last Sunday I went to the reservoirs, inspired by the snow on the hills. I had a lovely icy walk, lots of beautiful scenery as always, but also some amazing ice formations that had formed, some from the drips on the cliffs and others around the grasses and brambles.

I amused myself taking some arty shots of the frost on the moss and the reflections in the water. It was so lovely and strange to think that in a few shorts weeks we will be back to having lambs on the hills and then all of the rhododendrons in bloom. It doesn’t seem that long since all the walks last year and here we are at the end of January.

In some ways it has been a long year but in others it seems to have flown by. As of tomorrow I only have 150 days left at work. I bought myself some little countdown chalkboards at the start of term last year. In August the first day was with 305 to go, and I am now over half way through! Exciting times indeed. Now I just have to sell the house, pack everything up, learn to drive and try and leave the country, negotiating Brexit on the way 🙂

Ellen came up again this weekend and did the first fitting on the jacket, it is not too bad size wise so the next task is tacking it up fully and another fitting in a few weeks. I am so glad she is able to help with this. Having the mannequin is great but she is not the same shape as me and does not move, so is not good for proper fittings.

We also made a start on the hat to go with the outfit. I have been trawling Pinterest again and had added these two lovely examples to my Steampunk board.

I wanted to make a miniature version and after many trials decided on a 4″ high with a 4″ diameter hat that will be attached to a headband. We made a little mock-up with cardboard and making tape.

I had ordered some embellishments for the hat this week, I was so pleased with the cameo, which I found on Ebay. It goes brilliantly with the blue material.

The gold lace was from my stash, no idea where that came from but may have been a present from Mum from Spain.

The ostrich feathers are so soft and fluffy and look brilliant. I do need to source some more trim for the top and brim edges of the hat. The real thing will be buckram covered in felt. The trim will be useful to hide the joins as buckram can be quite difficult to sew with. I found this very useful tutorial so am using that as a guide to making the top hat, but am just intending to do a flat brim.

I have just found a perfect pair of shoes as well, second hand, which just need a bit of lace adding to them as well. I will also make a handbag, possibly with a clasp and chain but we will see how that goes!

I hope that you have all had a good week and are doing something nice this weekend. Next week I have what will hopefully be my last Saturday teaching session ever so will be very excited to have all my weekends free from then on.

Take care, stay safe, and thanks for visiting.