A Weekend in Amsterdam.

Did I catch my cold in Amsterdam or did the kids give it to me when I got back?! Either way, it’s snotsville here at the minute and I’m not sure if I can coherently conjure up words. If you would like to see what happened this weekend then please come, come on a virtual tour of my one of my favourite cities (I’ve been to Amsterdam four times!!). I will bung up pictures and see what I can do! Beware, many pictures of wool skeins will appear at some point and then it’s back to the tour via some phone pics.

I love Amsterdam, it’s friendly, it’s easy and it’s fun. The architecture always blows me away, the canals too. The last time I went was ten years ago and what I didn’t realise then is that it is a city full of young and beautiful people. I didn’t quite feel old this time but if you’re not quick on your feet then tram/bicycle squashing seems pretty inevitable. I don’t recall feeling panicky before, but this time round my brain wasn’t quick enough to feel casual about crossing roads. I didn’t think to get a photo of the crazy crisscross of multiple lanes for cars, bikes and trams.

  The weather was mostly good. On our last day it was glorious sunshine. The day before was overcast and we didn’t mind a bit of rain. There was no need for a real coat or anything.

  Upon arrival the first thing I made everyone do was visit Stephen and Penelope’s. It’s the “home” of knitwear designer Stephen West and someone not called Penelope. I dragged seven other people on my mission for wool. I felt marginally guilty; not a single one of those people was remotely interested in this pilgrimage but it was alright cos we went for beer straight after. I had to take lots of photos because it would have been taking the Mick to spend too much time in situ. Oh, crikey I wanted to buy it all. I went in having already decided to at least come out with a tote bag. They didn’t have any left and that made me sad. So I spent 5 Euro on a teeny drawstring bag instead. And two skeins of souvenir dutch yarn to squish.

Undercover Otter is a yarn actually from Amsterdam, you can’t get more souveniry than that! I’ve got plans for this yarn but have no idea when I’ll get the time to make anything (certainly not for the next couple of weeks whilst the kids are off school).

Being a dweeb.

Look at what I missed here?! Right next door to Stephen and Penelope’s is a gorgeous looking fabric shop! I didn’t take this pic until the next day (when it was closed, boo). In all the yarny excitement I was blind to all else. Gutted. Anyone know where I can buy geo patterned fabric? What makes me cross is that it was all so bargainous, I missed out on bargains!

We spent half a day in the Rijksmuseum. Yes, it’s pretty impressive but my back ached far too much to give a stuff by the end of floor two. Look, I have a degree in Art History but even I thought it all looked the blinkin’ same (hyperbolic of me, I know). Floor three  should have been my favourite but I hardly saw any of it. By that time I’d given up.

Highlights of the museum included Petronella Oortman’s dollhouse. No one was looking at the painting of it (see above) but everyone was clamouring to get a look at the real deal. I was interested to see it because I’ve just read The Miniaturist (it was OK, not as amazing as I was lead to believe). The Miniaturist is set in 17th century Amsterdam and was inspired by this very dollhouse. Not sure how the real Petronella would have felt about someone making up a fanciful story about her though. Also, there was the other “must see” that is Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. We kept calling it The Night’s Watch and wondering where Jon Snow was. Hilarious, aren’t we?

We walked all over the city. People’s fitbits confirmed well over twenty thousands steps per day. Fitbits! We all loved the Albert Cuyp market. Loads of great stalls. Wool, fabric and food. I was very happy.

Amsterdam’s night life is notorious and you really shouldn’t miss out on it. It is a marvel to walk the streets and see with your own eyes. Sadly, pictures taken in the dark, on my phone after a few beers; I didn’t get anything to even come close to capturing the true nutjobness of the red light district. You have to see it for yourself. The city’s lights at night are stunning too. The canals are lit up, it’s magic!

A fab way of seeing the city is a trip on a barge. We did this on our last morning, with the sun out and jumpers off. I learned loads about the history of the place and it was a good accompaniment to The Miniaturist. We chugged down the Herengracht (where all the mega rich people used to live) and around the Golden Bend. There are certain sights you can only see here by boat and I think it’s essential if you’re after a touristy excursion. It was just the right thing to end the break on. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Garden on the last day of October

shoesThere was lovely autumn sunshine yesterday. I went into the garden in my Hallowe’en get up to take a few pictures. The garden isn’t as exciting to me now but I think I should have a record of what it looks like in a different season.

Autumn is seriously beautiful. The other day I drove back home from the weekly shop through an orange tunnel of trees. Low sun, autumn leaves, winding roads through the woods. There was definitely some magic going on.

autumn-figI haven’t got much to say today. It was only five minutes in the garden, finding what I liked best about it.

end-of-fig

kerria-jcrocosmia autumn-garden-stuff autumn-garden

courgetteThere is one last courgette hanging on. And since I can’t be bothered to tear up the bedraggled runner beans yet, there are still some of those too.

berries nasturtiums-reseedingOne bed dug over and manured. Nasturtiums are trying their luck. I could salad them up before the frosts, I suppose.

hosta-seedsI’m most impressed with the hosta seeds. Pretty!  Last year I took some of these and planted them. Nowt happened. Next year I’m really going to look after my hostas. This year so many snails and slugs dined on them, they ended up looking like lace.

That’s it for now. Shock,horror, I have done very little crochet in the last week. We’ve been away for half term and had poorliness. I’ve taken to reading more too, which takes up stitchy time. I’ll try and find a better balance this week.

little-halloween-garland little-crochet-batPs. I found a couple more dodgy pictures of my little halloween garland.

Summer Holiday in Cardigan Bay.

seagull

This year our summer holiday was in Cardigan Bay, west Wales. What an awesome place! I’m not sure why you’d want to read about my holiday on a craft blog but I’m sharing it anyway! Ha.Ha. :I

penbryn-beach-west-wales

It was over cast at first but not cold. It didn’t stop us from beaching it. The first day we went to Penbryn, a National Trust beach. Three things made this a particulary interesting place to be that day. One: I learned that it was used in a James Bond movie ( a teeny weeny, miniscule moment at the end of Die Another Day). Two: There was a wedding happening right there on the beach (we stood there gawping with our buckets and spades). And three: I thought I found a dead body. I felt a bit stupid when I realised it was a faded buoy and not a pensioners bald head wedged in the rocks, but you know, it was a few seconds of heart pounding interesting.

cave

I love a good cave. There were a lot of caves.

moomin

This is a hippo, or possibly a moomin.

 

from-penbryn-to-llangrannog

This was our coastal walk from Penbryn to Llangrannog. We didn’t actually make it as far as Llangrannog. We had to give up because it was too hard going for the kids. Lots of uppy downy.

beach-at-new-quay-wales

On a really hot day we went to New Quay. The tide was out so we had a paddle between the boats.

new-quay-wales

This was where we waited for a boat to come and take us on a dolphin watching tour. The tour was fifty minutes of wondering where they were and then five minutes of “Oh wow! Look! A dolphin!” Then we had to go back to the quay. To be fair, it was a pretty blimmin good five minutes of dolphin watching. I’d never seen one before and we got to watch a mummy and baby dolphin do some peaceful swimming.

the-national-wool-museum-in-wales

We  ditched the kids one day and went to the National Wool Museum. The kids were sent with Grandma and Grandad to the Internal Fire Museum of Power! Sounds like a pretty good place too but I was happy with some wool.

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There were working looms, which were very loud and fast. It was mesmerising to watch but I didn’t like the man putting his hands so close to the shuttle thingies. He knew what he was doing.

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We did Newcastle Emlynn that day too. It had good shops and some castle leftovers.

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We went to Aberystwyth, which we thought was an odd place. I can imagine that it would’ve been a bit of a party town a hundred years ago but now, a lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss on some of those buildings. I did like it though! There’s definitely a sense of nostalgia here.

electrci-cliff-train-at-aberystwyth

We went on the cliff terrace railway. We journeyed upon a worrisome train that was working loose at the seams. The hill is so steep that you wonder how this thing can pass health and safety tests. Well, we didn’t crash to our deaths that day so, all was good.

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The views were alright.

castle-n-stuff

Lots of cool architecture in Aberystwyth. Having been here, it makes me want to watch Hinterlands, a crime drama filmed in the area. I hear it’s pretty good.

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We had a couple of days of barbeque weather too. Yay!

llangrannog

Our holiday was concluded with ice creams at Llangrannog. I loved this beach. The tide was out and I could walk round to the next bay.

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Whilst I wondered about taking pictures of rocks and stuff, the boys and Husband dug holes in the sand.

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I didn’t want to miss out on playing with sand either. This is my effort. It was initially just a motte and bailey castle (Eldest learned about these at school last year) but a giant octopus came and smothered it.

beach-at-llangrannog

Llangrannog was possibly my favourite. We did lots of other stuff too but I think I’ve shared quite enough holiday snaps for today! I’m off to get my craft on. I’ve got a massive list of stuff to make now that the boys are at school.

A Wander Around Haytor.

Hanging out with Dartmoor ponies.

As I mentioned in my last post, we went to Dartmoor on Sunday. Mostly this was to meet with friends for lunch but we also explored Haytor too. Usually we skip the tor and go to the pretty quarry a few hundred metres away. However, the boys wanted to climb a “mountain” so we stuck to the rocks.

haytor toes.

I think the tor looks like a giant’s foot sticking out of the ground. Too many toes I know, so a mutant giant. (I know some of those people). I haven’t managed to capture the size of it (big), the walk/climb up to it is quite hard work, especially after a roast dinner (and a late night).

The quality of the picture is not that great as I’m told my ISO number was too high for outdoors. Low number for outdoorsy pics next time.

Haytor views

This is at the foot of it. It’s easy to climb as there are steps cut into it. It’s still hugely windy up there and it makes me feel uneasy. The kids could easily get whooshed off the tops of one of the toes (I wouldn’t let them up the very tops anyway and certainly not on the big toes). I didn’t take pictures up the top because of this.

Haytor rocks

Rocks n stuff.

rocks

crow.

This guy flew around quite a bit. Think he was on the look out for someone’s picnic.

Hazy hot Dartmoor day

Then there’s the obligatory Dartmoor ponies. They were quite aloof. Not interested in talking to us at all.

Plants that grow on Dartmoor.

If you look closely, there’s loads of interesting plants living in the crevices of the rocks. Not sure what this is.

Mossy rocky blanket. Haytor, Dartmoor.

I think this might be my favourite picture. I love the mossy blanket that has come away from the granite. Apparently this picture has good bokeh!

lichens

There was a lizard sunbathing on this rock. He moved so blimmin fast, he was gone before I could ask him for a picture.

From Haytor

Some bilberries (or windberries- same thing, I think) are trying to grow here. Are they a relation of the blueberry? I could be wrong about that.

And all the faces in the rocks too! I didn’t spot David Bowie any where…

Well, that was Dartmoor. A tiny bit of it anyway. It’s a pretty big chunk of Devon. And my favourite fact about Dartmoor is, it’s radioactive! If I visit enough, I’m assuming that I will get some kind of super powers. I think that’s how it works.

Into the Bluebell Woods

Into the woods

Hello, Just here to share some bluebell photos. They aren’t very good, I’m afraid. I think I’m using the wrong lense again. I’m on a bit of a downer though and that usually makes me think everything is rubbish. Boo flippin hoo. Maybe tomorrow they’ll look lovely!

Anyway, here is Blackbury Camp in East Devon (not blackberry, thank you). It’s a fabulous place for bluebells and I always time my visits incorrectly. Usually I’m too early and they’re not quite out. To be honest, I don’t think these are at their peak just yet. I could go back in a day or two, it’s only a ten minute drive from me but I bet I won’t.

through holly

This is me trying to be clever. I should work on perfecting the basics of photography before getting artsy fartsy.

White bluebell

I noticed white bluebells (?) dotted about the place. Good for them.

Sea of bluebells

It wasn’t the best day, weather wise. Mostly grey, turning sunny towards the end of the visit. Twas a Monday afternoon.

Path through the bluebells.

The history of Blackbury Camp is interesting. It’s an old Iron age fort, possibly somewhere I’d head in a zombie apocalypse. It’s a kind of oval shaped bowl with two entrances and a moaty type thing around the outside. Now it’s all mud n trees but it presumably would’ve had wooden ramparts sitting sturdily on the rim of the bowl. These pics don’t really show the shape of it but google does.

Bluebells growing

In previous years we’ve had picnics here among the blubells in April/May or in the summer when the kids catch grasshoppers and run around playing hide n seek.

Bluebells growing on the slopes of Blackbury Camp.

Because I was unhappy with these pictures, I admit I fiddled with them on Pic Monkey. I’ve had to warm them up somewhat because they looked so dull. Obvs, I blame the weather.

Bluebell woods

This one in particular got the editing treatment. It looks better than it did but no amount of fiddling can improve a truly crud photo… pah, onwards and upwards. I’ve asked for a photography book for my birthday, which is next week. The first anniversary of my very first blog post is coming up soon too. I think I’ll write up a crochet pattern for that one as it feels like it’s been a while.  Right then, I’m off to go and cheer myself up.

 

A Pretend Spring Cottage Garden.

I love forget me nots.

Now that the garden is well into the first stage of Spring prettiness, I am here to unashamedly post shed loads of photographs just because I want to. I also thought I’d post these sunny pictures today because outside it is cold, wet and grotty. What a flippin’ miserable day. Most of the pictures have been taken in the last two weeks but some with the cat were before that.

bottom of the garden.

In that nesting box, we’ve spotted a pair of coal tits flitting in and out. We watched them a few days ago collecting tufts of garden string to line their nest with.

Twatting about with pictures in the garden.

There’s no particular order. I did think about planning them out in a nice sequence but I was getting confused.

weeds and pots

Springing up.

Spring is here in my cottage garden!

spring garden flowers

some sort of cherry

sitting on the fence

Scary Marceline

Freaky pussy.

Forget me nots with the promise of Roxanne

kerria japonica

Marcy sitting in the grass

muscari in the afternoon sun

muscari in the shade

The muscari finally decided to come out to play.

peonie

The peonie has chosen not to take part in any games just yet.

Sat on the fence again

Delphinium is waking up

Burgeoning clematis Montana

Clematis is not quite ready.

Bumble bee and forget me nots

This picture is a missed opportunity. Must fit some more camera learning in. Mind you, that bee was gone just as quickly as it arrived.

blurry spring pics

Bluebells in the garden

a different view of the garden

I’ve also got my veg beds that need sorting. We planted some peas a couple of weeks ago and they’re coming up now. But there’s not much else going on there.

Honestly, I’ve been planning on a lovely garden post for ages and now that I’ve decided to do it, I can’t think of much to say! Probs for the best. Better get back to something more crafty.

I link up here:

www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

 

A quick visit to Stoke Fleming.

Blackpool Sands in a cold April.

Husband grew up here in Stoke Fleming, and his parents still live in the same house they’ve had for over forty years. It’s near the busy town of Dartmouth and the area is always rammed with visitors, especially in the summer. I remember holidaying in Stoke Fleming when I was little, completely unaware that at some point I was probably only a few metres away from future husband. When we first met, that made my mind boggle a bit. Actually, I doubt we were that near each other because I’m fairly sure that locals wouldn’t have mixed with a grockle like me!

lichen

We went and stayed last weekend and the weather was pretty bad. It changed our plans for hanging around outside all the time. We did do things but not as much as we’d hoped.

As usual I have randomly clicked away at stuff I like. I haven’t worked out an order in which to place the pictures but fingers crossed I’ll have a blog post by the end of it!

Walls and stuff. Stoke Fleming.

The rain is good for green, there was lots of green. I like all the old walls with weeds and wayside plants.

Spring flowers on our walk.

The early flowers are here with the promise of bluebells and foxgloves to come. It’s a shame it was such a grey day.

woolly bits and their sheep

Lots of lambs with their mummies. I was tempted to gather all the wool from the barbed wire but that might have been be a step too far. I’ve got enough of a wool stash already.

From Stoke Fleming to Blackpool Sands

One of things we knew the boys would like was a trip to the beach. It’s a nice walk from Grandma and Grandad’s house and not that far either. What I find funny is that you can see the sea on either side of this little lane. These gates are pretty much opposite each other.

A peek at the sea - Copy

I love the walk down to the beach, it’s exciting to catch glimpses of it through the trees. It makes me feel a little bit dizzy though as the drop is quite steep. I don’t do heights.

Sea view. Blackpool Sands - Copy

Because of the dizzy, I rushed taking pictures up here. I’m sure that’s why I’m still getting waves of dizziness right now. I was moaning about being dizzy in the week and I’m starting to wonder if this is what triggered it. I believe it’s an actual thing and I’m not just making it up!

The other end of Blackpool Sands

That’s one end of the beach.

One end of Blackpool Sands - Copy

This is the other end. This is where we explored. Somewhere in the middle of the beach is a cafe and shop. It might sound peculiar but this is where we had our wedding reception a few years ago. It’s called the Venus Cafe and it was lovely. Haven’t been for a while but it’s definitely still going.

The top end of Blackpool Sands

I like this end of the beach, there’s a river. The boys took their shoes and socks off and went for a paddle. I have no idea why, it was blinkin freezing.

river meets sea

I watched the river meet the sea. The shape of it changes all the time.

Watching the waves

I also tried to take photographs of the sea doing its thing. Some worked out alright but I need a different lense if I want to get a better picture. I didn’t fancy taking the camera any closer to the waves. I was too far away to get the full impact of them. I reckon you could make these piddly waves look fairly impressive with the right equipment.

Hedgehog pebble

Grandma found a pebble that looked like a hedgehog! He came home with us. Little eyes and everything!!

chasing blue beetles

This beastie tried to run away from me. He (she?) was beautiful! I only wanted to take a picture.

And then it was home time. The Easter holidays are just about over. Back to school tomorrow. We’ve had lots of adventures and it has been lovely. (One of my highlights was watching cows in a dairy and drinking some proper fresh cow milk. A low point was today; rushing to the train station to go on an adventure to the museum in Exeter. The museum was closed).

We’re ready to get back to normal now please.

Since it’s Spring…

pretty crocus

The garden is slowly waking up. We’re still not in “pretty” territory but it’s on its way.

spring flowers

The muscari in my garden are well behind others. I see them all over town; big and bright, in huge swathes or on their own, poking out of cracks in the pavement . This is their second year in the garden, I guess they need to establish themselves before being impressive.

New Forget Me Nots.

Forget me nots are so pretty when in their masses. In their masses they can get fungal diseases, which I think occurred last year when it was really soggy. I can see dark splotches on the leaves, which I reckon is fungal. I could tear them all up and give them a break but I’ll see how it goes.

Celandines.

Celandines are usually one of the first flowers to come round after winter. I would have had more but when we first moved in I ripped them all out. I didn’t know what they wear. They’d probably be considered weeds in someone else’s garden but I like the bright they bring.

Budding branches.

Living twigs. That’s the fig on the left and on the right is some sort of miniature cherry relative. Dancing with the butterflies? Something like that.

Crocus in the garden.

The crocuses in my garden are few and far between. I must have planted hundreds of bulbs in all the autumns we’ve lived here and yet I see very few waiting to come back after each of their first appearances.

Peony in March

Isn’t this a bit early for a peony? I used the macro lense for this but I struggle to see where the focus is and so I wiggle the lense miniscule amounts and take a picture at each wiggle (I know where I want the focus to be but it doesn’t always end up in the right place) . The margin for accurate focus is barely anything. I think I’m doing something wrong.

Erysimum.

I’ve had erysimum all through the winter. It’s gone straggly but it’s still flowering.

Daffodils still going.

There are still lots of daffs going strong. I’m amazed how long the season has been.

garden waking up.

This is the biggest area for flowers, down at the bottom of the garden. See? It hasn’t quite got there yet. There’s a lot more green than there was a couple of weeks ago though. And look at the first garden pictures I posted ten months ago (scroll past the shawl). Let’s see how it looks in another two months!

 

Spring plants and flowers at Escot Park.

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It was half term last week and on Monday I took my boys to Escot Park near Ottery St Mary, Devon. We’ve got an annual pass as it isn’t far from where we live. It has loads of stuff for the children to do and lots of interesting things to see.

This year there will be even more to see as there will be new enclosures for some animals. They already have an excellent space for red squirrels (if you’re lucky they come up and say hello to you. They might even try to search your pockets for nuts!!). There are otters, wild boar and birds of prey too and they will soon be joined by lynx, wolves, wild cats and pine martins. I think that’s right, I’m saying it from memory.

Escot also has lots of interesting trees and plants. This is the bit I like. At different times of year there is always something beautiful to see. I will go back and see the bluebells and at some point, enthusiastically yet carefully put my nose in all the roses of the walled garden.

Excuse me if the picture quality is dodgy, I took these photographs on my phone. The only thing I’ve done is to squash the size down a bit.

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Who doesn’t love a teasel?!

Apologies if you’re not keen on snowdrops…

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The snowdrops were amazing. I don’t recall seeing them there before, must’ve always missed them. I got told off by the boys at this point, for taking too many photos. They wanted to go and play on the pirate ship.

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Good old crocus.

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I don’t normally like camelias but even I thought these ones were beautiful.

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I used to want cyclamens in the garden but they look better in this environment. Plus I did plant some a few years ago and I reckon the vine weevil got them. They never did come back.

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So, yeah, that was nice. The boys had fun and so did I. It was a lovely sunny day. I’m glad we went. I shall take small boy back next week if the weather is good. Gotta get my money’s worth on that annual pass.

A mishmash of catch ups.

Putting together the fireplace blanket.

To begin my mishmash here is some progress on the fireplace blanket. I can tell it’s going to be a weighty blanket for its size. Soon it’ll be finished but I am so gonna run out of wool.  More balls have been ordered but not sure yet as to whether it’ll be enough for an impressive border.

new witchy amigurumi

I’m also working on a witchy pattern for Halloween. I’m not 100% happy with her hat yet. And she’s got man hands, which’ll have to get sorted.

A stripey birthday card

My first Sharpie adventure. A simple birthday card.

Say hello to Marceline

We got a cat! This is Marceline the Vampire Queen. She arrived during the last week of the summer holidays. Daughter of Cinnamon, Grandaughter of Nutmeg.

Marcy on the bed.

She’s a lovely girl who likes shades of red.

Marceline in the garden

She has been enjoying some late summer sunshine…

Marcy exploring her new garden

And getting to know the garden. She thinks leeks are tasty.

messy veg patch. end of season.

It’s the end of the season for sure. This is the point where I stop trying to maintain the garden and let it go nuts. I’ve got to be good and go out there for a tidy up. Nemotodes arrived in the post last week so I know I’ve got to get a move on. Hopefully these parasitic wormy friends will sort out my vine weevil problem. The idea is that they’ll feast upon the grub guts like there’s no tomorrow.

salvia patens. cambridge blue.

Salvia Patens. Time to gather their seeds so I can grow more. It’s a bit wet out there right now though.

Autumn berries.

Hawthorn and Holly. I used to get excited about seeing all this red because I thought I could nick it at Christmas to decorate my house Pagan style.  I now know that it’ll all be gone by then. The birds will scoff them all.

Pink cosmos and bee

Pink Cosmos. I’m impressed that I’ve still got flowers in the garden at all. There is still quite a lot of colour out there. Still, it’s not really Autumn yet.

calendula in the front garden.

These Calendula are in the front garden. I don’t really look after the front the way I do the back garden. It gets straggly and neglected.

calendula and bee

It doesn’t seem to matter to the bees and their friends. They still get their buzz on.

Any way, I should go now to continue with the crochet. I’ve got a long list of things to finish and more yet to start. Also, I’m gonna make a pie for tomorrow’s tea. Bake off is making me do it.