And so, its now Christmas!

Well my friends out there – the words of the song have been ringing through my ears today – and so this is Christmas, and what have we done, another year older….. -

Its been a while I know and so much has being going on here keeping me super busy. Our eldest daughter Elizabeth with grand daughter Melissa, have relocated to Shotley Bridge from Plymouth. I went down by train on the 15th of November returning with them and all their belongings on 27th November. After a week plus of unpacking Elizabeth started her new job in Newcastle, Melissa had her first day at Shotley Bridge nursery and I began my ‘new job’ of before and after nursery carer for Melissa! Its been busy but fun too and a delight to be able to spend so much time with them.

Melissa celebrated her 4th birthday just after they arrived and cousin Ebony thoroughly enjoyed helping to make her day special!

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No sooner had they arrived than our weather took a turn into winter with the temperatures plummeting, a fall of snow and around 10days of continual ice and frost. No fun for walking up the steep banks between our house and Elizabeth’s!

Due to work commitments Robert was unfortunately unable to join us for the Shotley Bridge Dickensian celebrations and the arrival of Father Christmas but Elizabeth, Melissa and I braved the winter chill to enjoy the experience. Santa arrived in a beautiful coach pulled by two big black horses, very inappropriately named Bart and Fred! While Santa greeted the local children he allowed others to take a ride in his carriage – this really appealed to Melissa so we joined the queue!

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Not sure who enjoyed it more Mummy and Grandma or Melissa, we felt really special on our short ride along the main road and back. Our small local stores had put on a lovely Christmas display making us all feel very festive.

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I am adding a link here to our local web site where there are some great images of the event if you would like to look.

http://sbvt.wordpress.com/

Christmas preparations have been pushed a little to one side or squeezed in where ever I could manage. With one week to Christmas eve my final push begins so I have spent a considerable time today wrapping and tidying, I have the final bits of food shopping to do but …. I think I am winning!

Our celebrations will begin in earnest on Saturday with the birthday of our younger daughter Jennie, from then on we have planned several family gatherings over the festive season and hope that Roberts Mum and Dad will be able to join us to complete the family line up – especially as they have something special to celebrate on Boxing Day – 60 years of marriage!

So to all our friends and followers -  we wish you the happiest of Christmas holidays and a healthy happy New Year too!

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Little things.

 

 

It certainly is the little things I am appreciating about being ‘home’. Getting our life out of storage and emptying the boxes to refill our home was a little like opening up the box of cherished Christmas decorations each year where you revisit long forgotten memories.

Most of the items we put into storage were either necessary to our everyday living or of sentimental value.These have now been stashed around the house, some in the same place as before others have found different positions, a few things still languish in boxes awaiting the right place to put them.

We have then added a few new items,, again some necessary to our everyday living others reflecting our new interests. Robert has purchased a couple of guitars and an amplifier, he continues to ‘research’ e bay for other things he would like to add to this new collection. I of course got Bertha my lovely spinning wheel and my very comfy rocking chair.

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So the house is in order – well it will do for now – the days are drawing in and the garden is very colourful. Living so close to open countryside we don’t see too much of the birds in the summer, they choose to spend time in the fields and hedges rather than around the houses, but now they are flitting around much more, looking for berries and bits to eat. We have a resident wren who has nested near our neighbours garage every year since we have been here. She is around quite regularly and sings her little tune. The Robin is back and again delights me with his early morning songs. Great tits, coal tits and blue tits have been flying across and using our trees as a half way stopping place.

It seemed like I should give back to these little creatures for the pleasure they are giving me so, I ordered a smart new bird feeding station from the internet. It arrived very swiftly and awaited my attention for a couple of days then, yesterday, I decided it was time to put it together. It took a while…there were lots of bits and a not so easy to read diagram – however eventually I had it sorted and took the lower section into the garden to position it in the ground.

The spike needed to be sunk in for 16” of its length, a useful marker had been placed at the correct point for me to stop. Hammer in hand and a piece of wood to protect the top of the metal from damage, I began my task. I should have realised that we probably don’t have anywhere near that depth of soil before I hit stone and thick hard clay sub soil! It did go down about 8” and seemed fairly solid, as we are quite sheltered I decided that would have to do. I returned indoors to get the rest of the ‘bits’, put it all together and stood back to admire my achievement. It seemed a bit more wobbly now – it will be fine. Back indoors I looked out at my new feeder and wondered how long it would be before the birds might find it…. at this point I noticed it wasn’t quite straight…well I am sure the birds wont mind will they!

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So as I sit writing this the birds are beginning to explore this new stopping place and finding the treats I have left for them. It has bought the garden to life, such a small addition with big reward for me and the birds!

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Now what was it I was going to do?

Today seems to be one of those days when I don’t end up doing things that I thought I would be doing – like right now… I came upstairs to spin, then remembered I was going to blog….

This morning I baked cake, I did not intend to bake cake but somehow it just happened that I decided to bake cake. It all began with the sour dough.

A group of my Ravelry friends have got me into making sour dough starter, I call mine Horace as he is always hungry it seems. Now if you have ever dabbled in sour dough or come across friendship cake (which seems to have changed its name over the years to be called Herman the German cake) you will be aware that it needs looking after. Tender loving care to be precise otherwise it dies or becomes smelly – not good!

I started my starter last Monday and have fed, halved, stirred and re fed it keeping it pleasantly warm most of the time. It soon lets you know when its not warm enough as it sulks and separates. At this point I give it a good stir, a little food, warm it up and off it goes again!

Friday I made my usual pizza and bread and used a little of the starter as I was not confident of it working without some ‘proper’ yeast. The dough was silky and smooth, it felt lovely. The pizza and bread turned out just fine.

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So this morning after decanting a little for my neighbour to collect later I used a cupful of starter with 2 cups of flour to see how it would get on alone. While it was proving I decided to make the cake….. before I could turn around its lunch time. Where did the morning go?

My days seem to be a bit like this, I can’t say I have done anything in particular just been constantly on the go. I have spun some more yarn, this time to make gloves. Its merino and very soft, in lovely autumn shades. The first glove is part knit.

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and the yarn I spun previously is now a little throw.

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It is lovely knitting with my own hand spun. It feels very squishy and soft.

Saturday we attended the Snods Edge Beer Festival with Christopher and Helen. They had a great time tasting local beers with Robert, I was designated driver which is fine as I don’t care for beer. Snods Edge is a small Hamlet along the road from us. Our house comes within the parish church boundary. We are 20 houses here at Bridge Island – there are only150 in the whole parish! There always seems to be some event or other happening in the village hall and this one was well attended. We arrived at 3.30pm and left around 6, the event went on until 11pm and as we left a small coach party arrived, looked like they were in for a busy night too.

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To our surprise we received a telephone call Sunday evening to say we had won one of the door prizes, Chocolates, fizzy wine and a DVD – sound like a recipe for a good night in!

Our days are much cooler now and another frosty morning today meant Robert had to clean the car off before he could leave for work. The past few days have been sunny however showing up some lovely autumn colours around the garden.

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So now back to where I was going …. spinning for a while….more soon!

Doing an edit on this to re publish. I published on Monday but it looks like the e-mail notifications did not go out. If you are getting it twice I apologise… if not – enjoy!

A chill in the air!

The days are certainly getting shorter and cooler and wetter! Last night it was time to turn on the lights around 7.30pm and our central heating is taking the chill off the house both night and morning.

Not too much in the way of Autumn colours as yet but yesterday I drove out to Stanhope in Weardale to attend a spinning group there. What a beautiful drive. Its been around 5 years since I went that way but its only 12 miles from home, in fact within about 5 miles there are the most terrific views on a good day.

After a few miles there is a cattle guard across the road, from there on you are in North Pennines National Park – an area of outstanding natural beauty. The sheep did not seem daunted by a would be fleece napper, complete with spinning wheel, they were lazily strolling either side of the road. I wanted to stop and take pictures to share with you but found there were not too many suitable places. The side of the road has been badly affected by weather and is very pothole strewn. Eventually I found a pull in and got out with the camera. It was at this point I realised I should have bought a coat! The wind almost blew me flat added to which it was very chilly.

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Right in the distance, in the bottom picture, I could see the North East coast. I wish I could have found a better spot to take some shots. The marker posts alongside the road are a tell tale sign of what the weather can be like up here in winter – they are snow markers! I guess I wont be going to the Stanhope spinners group in bad weather.

They were a lovely bunch of ladies drawn from many locations across the area and I met a couple of spinners who have been spinning for over 40 years. They had a wealth of knowledge and were very generous about passing it on.

My life seems very full of fluff and wool right now, I am so enjoying having Bertha around to keep me company. Last Saturday was Spin in public day where those who can, display to the public at large, that spinning is a pass time to be enjoyed. I joined a other spinners at The Knit Studio in Blackfriars in Newcastle spending a very pleasant few hours under the Walnut tree beside the historic buildings there.P1290428

These ladies too were most helpful with tips on how to get Bertha working more smoothly. So much so that a couple of days later I had this:-

P1290429This is the first yarn I have finished on Bertha. See, I have been busy.I have already started to knit with it. Ok its a bit lumpy bumpy but I want to actually use it – progress shots next time.

What’s happening ?

Hello everyone!

Well, apologies for neglecting my blog but phew, life has been more than hectic!

This is my second week with Robert back at work and finally I feel some calmness with time to relax and put words on paper… well I suppose that should be on screen.

We have had a fair bit of family stuff in the last few weeks but have also been getting the house a bit straighter. This past week end we had a visit from Liz and Ron (with their friends Cathy and Dennis) who are on a tour of the UK as the final part of their Europe vacation.

I met Liz through our mutual love of knitting via the internet site Ravelry. We then visited with them at their California home and took a trip together to Lake Tahoe in April. It was lovely to be able to welcome them to the North East on a beautiful week end and show them some of our favourite places.

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Ron and Dennis at the Quayside

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Liz enjoying The Sage

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Here we are all together in Blackfriars Restaurant Sunday afternoon!

P1290360I have made a couple of acquisitions over the past week or so. The first is Bertha my spinning wheel who is going to keep me company and hopefully out of too much trouble this winter.

She dates from around 1965 –75, I believe, I bought her from e-bay. When we collected her the young lady who was selling told me she had been given the wheel by someone who was clearing out their Mums attic after she had passed away.

The wheel has been kept very well, the seller had not taken to spinning but had still looked after her. With a little oil and a few tweaks she was running well and we are enjoying getting to know each other!

My second purchase again from e-bay was a lovely rocking chair.

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This is so comfy … I am sitting in it right now…. in our smaller bedroom which we have turned into a den for our hobbies.

Number one question we are being asked at the moment is ‘how does Robert feel being back at work’… Robert being Robert is taking it all in his stride. He is getting to know what is required of the job he is involved with, getting to know new faces and renewing old friendships. All good so far. Mind – getting up while its still dark (6am alarm) is not going down so well with either of us.

And me? well as I said before I have not had a minute ….. so much I want and need to do the day flies over.

Second question…. do we miss our travelling and haRVey? again life has been so busy we just have not had time to even consider what we might have been doing. I confess I did have a couple of jealous moments when reading what some of our friends have been up to… Sue and Paul (www.soos-ontheroad.blogspot.com) were at Lake Superior….. and Aggie and George have been visiting too… in Utah and then up to see the presidents  at Mount Rushmore…Aggie

This is Aggie with a mutual friend of ours Vanmoose! and of course the Presidents

It seems our season is turning, cooler blustery weather this week with P1290414some rain too. So to finish off with here are a couple of images of the garden. The Japanese anemone are in full bloom.

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This one is looking down from the den window on the top part of the garden with the burn (stream) just over the fence in the top right corner.

I thought it might be nice to share some images of our home and surroundings so there will be more in up coming blogs I hope.

This will be first blog without my editor in chief (Robert) giving it the once over so hopefully there are no glaring typos else I will be in big trouble when he reads it!

Hopefully more soon! Elaine

Settling in and the family visits.

Well Hello, Here we are at the new blog address…. when we left our travelling behind I was not sure if I would continue with a blog or not however so many people have encouraged me to continue…. here we go….

After having the furniture delivered, unpacking, cleaning, a little decorating the next step was to travel south to Mum and Dad Hills to collect our belongings we had left there. This coincided with Roberts birthday which seemed great timing and we were grateful for the respite and TLC Mum and Dad always give us. We seem to glide from one food event to the next with lots of chat and a few jobs inter leaved between.

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Like the rest of the family we know they are pleased to have us home and it was lovely to spend time with them again.

We hired a van in Nuneaton, filled it with our boxes, drove the 3 and a half hours north where Jennie and Andy met us at home to help unload. Next day we raided Ikea for new furniture then early Thursday drove the van back south, returning again on the Friday to the North East in our car. Phew….it was a bit hectic….

Last weekend we spent a fair bit of time unpacking and getting the house straight for the visit of Elizabeth (big daughter) Alistair and Melissa who arrived on Monday evening.

We were so pleased the weather has taken a turn for the better. A visit to Newcastle Quayside, The Sage and The Baltic was requested and for once we could walk by the river without the normal cold NE wind chilling us.

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We looked out from the viewing gallery at the Baltic, over the city skyline, a view I never tire of.

Ebony came to play on Tuesday afternoon.

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It is lovely that despite the children not getting together very often and the fact that there is 3 years difference in ages they get on so well.

We had everyone over for tea on Tuesday evening which was a hectic event too. To have all our children (and partners of course) around one table together is a rare and special event – I loved every minute of it.

The only person missing was Kai who was on an aeroplane returning from a Turkish adventure with Mummy. We were able to collect him on Wednesday and bring him over for the afternoon.

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They played in the garden for a while where Kai kindly helped Melissa overcome her fear of ants by showing her how to stamp on them. Typical boy!

Aunty Lizzy had a great idea for something to make with paper plates

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The colouring in took a great

deal of concentration!

But the end results now decorate our hallwayIMG_3712

All good things have to come to an end and on Thursday we took Elizabeth and Melissa (Al had travelled down the morning before) to Harrogate to visit with Alistair’s parents. They will visit other family and friends as they travel back south to their home in Plymouth. While we have been travelling we have gone south to visit with them and usually it rains… I hope they take note of the beautiful weather we arranged when they came north!

So today is Friday again, the time is flying over. I am sitting in our kitchen, doors wide open looking at our garden, another beautiful day which we need to make the most of. How are we feeling now not travelling??? Have we had time to analyse – I don’t think we have! I do feel like I am trying to cram everything in to a deadline date just like when we are only here for our summer break. This time however the deadline is Roberts return to work on September 3rd. Life will be so different then.