Friday, 31 August 2007

Lovely, lovely, lovely

Last weekend I received a beautiful package of treats from Tracy at Pink Purl as part of a little swap we set up. Everything was gorgeously wrapped in pink tissue with white ribbons. The girls were very excited about the chocolate ...

Every time I thought we must have pulled everything out of the envelope, Millie produced another little parcel. Such a generous parcel, and all so beautifully made - thanks so much, Tracy!

Monday, 27 August 2007

The times they are a-changing

I was a late convert to walking for pleasure. I remember as a student thinking people must be mad to go into the country to walk - I mean, there were animals that might attack! And mud! And far more interesting things to do at home! As a postdoc in North Carolina I joined a group of colleagues hiking up a mountain one day; I thought I was pretty fit, having been going regularly to the gym and religiously doing my sit-ups - but after 20 minutes forced march uphill in 98% humidity I thought my time had come.

Anyway, we went with Mum & Dad to a little time share place in the Lake District shortly after we came back to the UK in 1999, and decided to do some very gentle walks. We started with Tarn Hows (easy peasy) and then did Wansfell Pike - rather tougher but eminently do-able and very rewarding. And that was it. Since then we've tried to get up to the Lakes every couple of years. One year we made it up Helvellyn - utterly wonderful - then the following year we tackled Snowdonia and ate Cornish (Welsh?) pasties on top of Cadair Idris. I have really been enjoying Griff Rhys Jones Mountain recently (though I would have preferred more mountain and less padding) and the Wainwright Walks that have been following them on BBC Four. Sad, I know.

And now we have our lovely little ones. We had a pause of a few years when Elsie was a baby; then when I was pregnant with Millie we ventured up to the Lakes again and Bear would hare off for speed fell walking while we had a nap. Now this year we've had them doing some short but reasonably challenging walks - bits of a Langdale Pikes walk, the start of Wansfell, some rock scrambling. All fun stuff because we don't want to put them off and anyway, when they get tired we know we'll end up carrying them. But still, standing on the edge of Buttermere and looking up at Haystacks, or driving past Keswick and being watched over by Skiddaw I can hear those peaks calling again ...

Different perspectives

This is how I saw the village of Elterwater:

This is Elsie's abiding memory of the place:

She'll be watching Top Gear next.

Our holiday, or how we dragged two small people up a mountain

As promised , here are finally some pictures from our holiday in the Lake District. The girls travelled beautifully, bribed with all manner of plastic tat courtesy of Mr. Tesco. Favourites on the way up were cuddly small Night Garden toys, and on the way back, would you believe it, a pencil sharpener. Personally I'd have gone for the multicoloured pop-a-point pencils, but then I am not 2. Or 5.

We had rented a house in Troutbeck, which is up the hill from Ambleside. We shared with my sister and brother-in-law and their little girl so we went for a big house and ended up having a wing each!!!

The views of and from the garden were stunning, and the kitchen was bigger than the ground floor of our house, but we kept consoling ourselves with the thought that it would be unbelievably difficult to drive up the hill in the winter.

Bear and I like to walk, and the girls were keen to have a go too. We only had wellies and Doodles with us for them, so when we spotted these tiny pink walking shoes, we couldn't resist them. Elsie liked them very much, so much so that she says next time she would like to have proper waterproof boots, a walking stick and a breathable jacket if you please!

Both girls were keen on rock scrambling and clambering up slopes, and giving me kittens by jumping down from boulder to boulder.

I was amazed they got up some of the slopes they did, and one day we walked up from the house to Wansfell Pike. We had a picnic on the way,

and the girls made it up from the steep path onto the fell itself. I drew the line at letting them up the final push as they were tired, and it was steep and windy and I just wasn't sure we could get them both safely up & down. At the end of the day Millie had a well earned kip on the garden bench.

We did the obligatory boat trip on Ullswater; there's a reason why everyone does it, and that's because it is quite stunning:

We climbed off the boat at Howtown for some stick fishing and throwing stones into the lake (avoiding the ducks, panic not!) then back to Glenridding for afternoon tea.

We revisited Tarn Hows to feed the geese and gaze out at the Langdales, and to picnic and fish at the edge of the lake,

and one day took a breathtaking drive over Honister Pass to Buttermere. Millie was carried a long way on Bear's shoulders, but Elsie, being a Big Girl, walked for miles and miles. And has asked if we can go bakc again next year. Fine by me ...

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Quick cake stand

I love baking and have been coveting cake stands for months now, but I simply couldn't justify spending lots of cash on something I really wouldn't use very frequently. I saw an idea on Betz White's blog a while back about making a cake stand from glass plates and since then I've been scouring my favourite local charity shops for suitable components. I knew the citizens of Saffron Walden wouldn't let me down and eventually I found a plate and a candle holder and got to work with some ridiculously sticky glue:

It took a long, long time to dry (and of course wasn't ready in time for me to use it at a tea party on Sunday) but it turned out well:

The glue join is a bit visible, but when it has a cake on it you'd never know.

That's a redcurrant meringue pie - which is both sweet and tart and a very great summer (ha! that's a joke) treat.

£1.50 vs lots of money - I'm happy!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

I should go away more often

We had a lovely holiday, and I promise to post some pictures very soon - there are literally hundreds to choose from so it'll take me a little while to whittle them down!

But in the meantime, I was surprised and delighted to receive nominations for three blogging awards while I was away. I really didn't expect any of this, being a relative newbie, but I'm extremely chuffed that people thought of me.

The first one is the Nice Matters award; this was started by Bella Enchanted who says:

"This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people , good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world! "

Gosh. I don't know what to say. Thank you very much to Caroline at dolliedaydream, Jo at Angel Jem's City Cottage and Nicolette at de vliegende koe.

Next was this one, from Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits:

It was started here. This one makes me smile, but I don't think I rock anymore; I'm not sure I ever really did - maybe twenty years ago :-) I do think it's brilliant though, and since having two small girls, "Pink is my favourite colour" - to quote my favourite 2 year old.

Last but not least came The Power of Schmooze from Tracy at Pink Purl:

I must confess to being a little nervous about this one initially - "schmooze" has a few dodgy connotations here, but then I read a description of this one as being "to reward bloggers who not only blog but also participate in a conversation with other bloggers, creating new communities." I like that! Though I think it may be a polite way of saying that I talk a lot ;-)

So now I'm supposed to nominate people - 7 Nice People, 5 schmoozers and an unspecified number of Rockin' Girlies. The trouble is, I can't decide, so I think I might just cheat a bit. There are lots of blogs I adore and read avidly and wait eagerly for updates; but there are a few whose writers are also generous and kind in their comments, engage in email and share a great deal of themselves. So ladies, here you are - I list you in no particular order and invite you to choose any or all of these awards for yourselves. You all deserve all of them, and I know some of you have already had some of them, probably more than once. Which says a lot all by itself.

Simmy at Echoes of a Dream

Alice at The Magpie Files

Ali at domesticali
Caroline at dolliedaydream

Jo at Angel Jem's City Cottage

Kim at RaggedRoses

Julia at VintageHeaven
Tracy at Pink Purl

Nicolette at de vliegende koe

Becca at Knittymama

Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits

Tash at VintagePretty

Friday, 3 August 2007

En vacances

We're off to the Lakes for a couple of weeks - which makes great sense, driving from a part of the country that is currently gorgeously warm to one where it's going to rain tomorrow. Apparently it's going to get better over the next few days though, so we can but hope! I doubt I'll have any internet access till we get back though, so apologies if I don't reply to email.

I'll leave you with some backpacks I've made this week. I'm still not entirely happy with the handles; I've tried a couple of different attachments but have more ideas to try when I get back. I'll sort it out!

These were for the children of Elsie's childminder, S. She will be going to a different lady in the autumn as S is moving on to other things. She's been absolutely brilliant with Elsie and has played a big role in her transition to school, and her children have looked out for Elsie in the playground which has been wonderful. I had great fun making these! The cupcake and flower patterns are from Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits. The cheeky gnomes look very at home on the grass!

This is one I made for the fundraiser Tracy has been organising over at Pink Purl. It was a bit different making an adult sized bag - good, but different! I used some material I found at Ikea the other day. They have some really vibrant patterns and colours at the moment; I was a bit taken aback at having to measure and cut myself - especially since the cutting table was a bit of a dumping ground - but I suppose that's the Ikea way!

Have a lovely fortnight!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

If you read nothing else today

Please, read this post about inflammatory breast cancer on ToddlerPlanet. I followed the link from TheMagpieFiles and am so very glad I did. Awful though it is to think of, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of it.

Oh, that old farmer!

We live in a village that's officially classified as rural. It kind of isn't, as we're only a few miles outside Cambridge, but it is a tiny little place and has a thriving community, village shop, mobile library and so on. And lots and lots of fields around it.

Anyway, the girls had a picnic tea tonight since the dining table is covered in sewing stuff, and the outside table had a washing line through the umbrella hole (yes, quite). Very fancy - you know, fishfingers and mash on the finest plastic fairy plates. Afterwards they went off to play, and I sneaked onto the computer until they wandered in and started putting bands and clips in my hair. Which was all very lovely, until I asked them why they weren't making the most of the garden. "Well Mummy," came the answer. "It's because it smells of piggies out there." I think the more delicate term is "A proper country scent".

They don't tell you about muck spraying in Country Living. We're eating inside tonight.