Allotment Week 1

I got the email I was waiting for, the previous owner had handed over the keys for the shed and greenhouse.

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So I went to collect them and have a good look at what was inside.

It was a pleasant surprise, the previous owner was an elderly gentleman so everything is usable and useful although not very organised or tidy. The first job will be to de-clutter and clean up then we can see exactly what needs replacing or repairing. I did notice he’s left an old welly boot so I think I might plant in it so he’s still with us.

The greenhouse is in a good condition, just a clean up required.

It’s lovely to have a workable plot and to start planning what I want to plant and where. This year I’m keeping things simple. Vegetables I’ve grown before and we use on a regular basis, get plants established and sort out the fundamentals of the plot. I’d like to have a flowered seating area and a wildlife/pond area. Lots of planning and digging ahead.

Here’s to a good growing year.

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Scrapbooking

I’ve started the year as I have the last few years, looking through the 50 things list and updating what was completed the year before and what I could/should do this year to get closer to achieving as many goals as possible.

One of the goals is to start a scrapbook, it’s not something I’ve ever done before and having had a quick look at scrapbooking it’s terrifying !

All the different books, papers, cutters etc, where to start or even how. It’s easy to understand why people avoid crafting. It’s complicated and all the ‘help and tutorials’ make everything look easy and theirs always turns out perfectly however the reality isn’t always that way. It can be tricky, messy and not always straight, but they will be our memories.

So to start with I’m going to collect everything together in a special tin. All tickets, stubs, photographs, anything from days out, events and holidays. Then I can organise and start to plan how to put them together. Until then I can explore ideas and maybe perfect a few techniques or even just some straight lines.

Reading Challenge 2018

I didn’t quite manage to finish the 2017 reading challenge, I was let down by ‘Epic Romance’ and ‘published this year’ – all the other categories I completed and found a couple unread authors I will be reading more of.  Here’s the link Reading challenge 2017 – update

Now for the new challenge.

  1. A book with more than 500 pages.
  2. A book with a number in the title.
  3. A book by a female author.
  4. A popular authors first book.
  5. A book with non-human characters.
  6. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
  7. A book from your childhood.
  8. A book with a colour in the title.
  9. A graphic novel.
  10. A book by an authors you’ve never read before.
  11. A book you own but have never read.
  12. A book the was originally written in another language.
  13. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read.
  14. A book with bad reviews.

I have a couple of ideas from a few categories but any suggestions are always welcome.

Happy reading.

My recent break away

This year, for the first time in many years I wasn’t working over Christmas and Oscar was away with his dad so I decided to treat myself. I bought myself a three day break at a hotel with spa, which fitted in with my 50 things project. I looked around at different sites, hotels and spa’s but finally found one I liked the look of.

Crewe Hall – part of the Qhotels group – A grade 1 listed hotel. From the moment I turned into the tree lined driveway I knew I had made the right choice.

Being a solo traveller I was a little apprehensive but the staff couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful. Check in was quick and simple and I was assisted to my room with my bags. And what a room it was….

The old building is spectacular inside, beautiful rooms and ceilings, stunningly decorated, especially with all the Christmas decorations.

I spent the first afternoon wandering around the maze-like hallways, discovering more and more rooms, the library, Malt bar, chapel and numerous reading nooks with plenty of comfy chairs.

I was bought vouchers for Christmas, so after a relaxed buffet breakfast on day 2  I headed down to the newer wing which has the spa, and booked a few treatments, a facial, a body exfoliation and massage. It was relaxing, luxuriant and if I’m really honest I felt a little guilty at enjoying the me-time.

I spent some time in the gym and plenty of time swimming, in the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. It was lovely sitting pool side reading in the warmth whilst looking at the snow outside.

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It was a perfect break, a time to recharge and catch up on some reading in beautiful surroundings.

A trip to be repeated…. hopefully.

An update

In October we decided to take a short break away to Blackpool, it’s always been one our favourite ‘guilty pleasures’.

We did all our usual activities, saw the lights, into the tower for a dance around the ballroom and a laugh at the circus, made a wax hand at Madame Tussaud’s, a day of swimming at the sandcastle and the highlight….. getting soaked and terrified (mostly me) on the rides at the pleasure beach.

It was a very cold week but good to spend some quality time together.

November arrived with a couple of surprises, a permanent job (in a place I enjoy working with lovely staff) and a new allotment.

As you can see it’s been well looked after and is in a decent condition, unlike the last one. This one is a family affair, myself and my mum. So you can look forward to some allotment blogging in 2018.

A day out in Liverpool for a look at the Grayson Perry dresses in the Walker Art Gallery.

I attempted a little craft project with a few balls of wool I had kept (after my clear out – Bye-Bye knitting needles) and created  a huge pile of pom-poms and created a bedroom rug, it looked pretty good for about two weeks but the constant foot-fall soon took it’s toll and some of them started to ‘shed’ so I’ve moved it to a different part of the room, where it will get less wear. I will replace a couple of the worst affected.

December arrived, busy as December always is. A few birthdays, a night out with friends and Christmas with the family.

A hope you’ve had a lovely time and 2018 is a happy and healthy year for you.

xx

 

Chirk Castle

Another weekend and another new place to visit, the weather had been rainy most of the week but the forecast for the Saturday was looking ok. Originally we were going to Llandudno for the day but a late start meant a change of plan. I had promised a trip to Wales so that’s where we headed, I had a quick look at the National trust book and Google maps, and decided to give Chirk castle a try as it was only an hour away. We may have arrived a little sooner if I hadn’t followed the sat-nav, which took us along lots of very narrow, twisty country lanes.

Oscar didn’t want to do any of the guided tours so we had a little wander around the gardens, which were very muddy, and then walked up to the castle for a self guided tour. Every National Trust place we’ve visited has had something for the children to look for, teddies dotted around the building to be counted, but this one was different. They had cards for each room with 3 or 4 questions on, things to find and count, what do you think an item was used for etc. It was really good as it kept us both entertained working them out and who could spot things first. Some of the answers were surprising too.

As usual the staff/volunteers were very friendly and knowledgeable, with lots of interesting little facts. The place was fairly busy so we made our way back outside and I took advantage of a babysitting device to get a few minutes quiet time …..

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After the main house we went into the dungeons, the stairs were terrifying, a spiral staircase with very worn, different sized steps, which led into a dimly lit circular room. It had a very creepy feel and we didn’t stay long. The climb back out was almost as bad as the one down.

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Then into the keep, time to become a knight in shining armour, well for a few minutes. It was very heavy and uncomfortable to wear.

After being indoors for a while it was time to explore outside, however a few things happened. First we had a shoe disaster, when the front of one of his trainers popped open and his toe was sticking out (thankfully they were old ones) then the rain started, just a drizzle. So we decided to head back and get a warm drink. We spotted some cattle in a field, not sure what type but they had big horns. We went to have a closer look but saw a dead sheep so left quickly to go and report it.

We did get a hot chocolate though and the ever faithful Victoria sponge for Oscar, his favourite.

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We decide to call it a day, new shoes were needed and some clean dry socks too. On the walk back to the car we found this…

So we did as asked, photograph, posted it and re-hid the rock (but not too hidden) A lovely little find. If you are round and about anywhere in the Shropshire area keep a look out for these apparently they’re hidden in plain sight everywhere.

A quick stop on the way home for new shoes, socks and some fish and chips. A great day

Erddig

A lovely sunny Saturday and a need to be outdoors meant a good time to give the new camera an outing.

I decided to try a new (to me) National Trust property, just over the Welsh border in Wrexham is Erddig Hall and gardens. After driving along some narrow country lanes I arrived at the entrance gates and drove up to the car park and some farm type buildings. However I was in for a surprise.

I was a little early and the main house didn’t open for another hour so I made the most of the sunshine and had a walk around the gardens, this was when I saw the house itself. It is beautiful, as are the gardens.

Inside the house was even more surprising, the family was very unusual in that they really cared about and for the servants.

Not only did they have portraits and photographs of the servants, with individual poems written by the family, most worked for the family for many years and when retired had a pension paid to them, some are even buried in the family cemetery.

They were also vegetarian and tee-total although did provide meat and beer for guests and were well known for hosting parties. I had a very informative tour of the ‘below stairs’ servants life followed by a self-guided tour of the rest of the house, although other tours were available.

Back out into the sunshine for another wander around the grounds and the stables to see the donkey’s then it was time to head home.

It was a lovely day and I will return again for see more of the grounds and learn more about the house and family.