A Week Up North – Part 1

I’ve wanted to have a holiday in Lancashire for a few years. When I was little we would go and stay with my Gran who lived in Colne. I have recently diagnosed myself with a fairly reasonable case of Nostalgia and this week away was a symptom. I found a farm in Clitheroe with a converted stable for holiday accommodation (My post about the farm is Here, it’s yarn related! Oh, and there’s a seriously superduper yarn related surprise at the bottom of this post too).

What I wanted to do was visit places I’d been to as a child and show my own kids a part of their heritage. A lot of memories about going up north relate to my fascination with the Pendle witches. I think it’s fair to say that I was obsessed with the stories from 400 years ago. When I was about eleven I even wrote a little history book complete with illustrations! The story of these people was told to me by Gran as we looked out of the back room window of her house. She’d ask me if I could see the witch of Pendle Hill, for that was the view we had. This time round, I think it was pretty much a done deal that we should do a mini tour of the Pendle area, including walking up Pendle Hill. As a child I was told that I wouldn’t enjoy clambering up the steep sides and therefore had never been further than the foot of it. Last week I achieved a life time ambition and went to the top!

First stop of the Pendle tour: Witches Galore in Newchurch, quite possibly my favourite shop when I was little. I think the promise of going there was more exciting than actually stepping foot inside. The animatronic display in the little far right window was also a lure. Put 10p in the slot and a witch would stir her bubbling cauldron whilst her familiars got up to mischief behind her (something like that anyway. Sadly, it’s not there anymore. I asked. It’s been gone for nearly ten years). Last week I bought a mug  and a fridge magnet as souvenirs, which still tickles me for some reason!

In the village of Roughlee is a statue of Alice Nutter, one of the women accused of witchcraft. The statue was designed by a local artist and it was put in place in 2012 to mark the 400th anniversary of her death, well, all of their deaths; their hangings.

We also went to the Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford to learn more history of the area.

 

Interestingly, Pendle Hill is also where the Quaker movement was founded, so moved was the guy who founded it when he went to the top. Lancashire has a history heavily steeped in religion, which is maybe one of the reasons why witchcraft was more prevalent here than in other places.  Also, I’m sure the fact that the Lancashire witch trials were recorded in great detail has something to do with it.

Another day, another trip down memory lane. I see this as Postman Pat country. The lanes are so reminiscent of one of my favourite programmes as a kid (I even had the lunch box. I remember picking at the picture on the front whilst I waited for my mum to come and pick me up from school because I had a toothache). OK, this Nostalgia thing is worse than I first thought.

Anyway, this is Malham, a village across the border and into the Yorkshire Dales. For years I thought I’d dreamed this place up. I must have been pretty young when we went for me to think I’d invented it. Revisiting, I have to say that it is completely within the realms of possibility that this place is a figment of someone’s imagination. Aside from the hoards of tourists that bring you back to earth, Malham Cove is an absolute stunner.

I think I’ve done pretty well in managing not to capture too many of the other human visitors. The kids likened the place to the world of Zelda and I know exactly what they mean. It’s a fantasy land. I can’t see any reason why a faery or two wouldn’t want to live here. Just look at it!!

  Anyone else get Picnic At Hanging Rock vibes? Ethereal is a good word to describe it. This pic, by the way, is the bottom of that big cliff face. The water comes from somewhere underneath. That’s another kind of wizardry. Nature is awesome!

Mum told us we were foolish to try Lake Windermere in August. She was right, it was heaving with people. Traffic was hideous and I couldn’t quite believe how all of us people had turned somewhere so beautiful into something ugly. We did no research, just thought we were were close enough that we shouldn’t miss out on a quick look. Sat in a traffic jam, hastily googling on my phone I found lots of places that would have been much better but by then it was too late. We were idiots. Regardless, the views were breath taking.

For part two I want to tell you all about the holiday accommodation and the story behind Freda and Darrell’s farm in Clitheroe. I think you’ll like it. I couldn’t quite believe my luck that we’d found somewhere that had their own wool to spin and dye! More on that another day soon.

But wait, that’s not all. A couple of weeks before the holiday I happened to see on Facebook that Lucy of Attic 24 had put out an open invitation for a knit & natter group in Skipton. We were twenty five minutes from Skipton! It was an opportunity I really couldn’t miss. It was our last day and I thought why the hell not?! I’d regret it if I chickened out. Steeling myself, I stepped into Cooper’s Cafe and joined a group of very lovely and welcoming people. Crikey I was nervous. I don’t know how I came across, no idea at all. It’s all a bit of a blur really. I don’t think I made a twonk of myself but you never know! I had one moment where I thought “I wish I hadn’t said that” (I’ve got no filter) but mostly I think I was well behaved. It was a bit of a worry that I’d come across as a crazy stalker but thankfully there were other newbies there too so I didn’t feel alone. It turned out that they were normal; fingers crossed I was too. And I know that I’m not a weirdo stalker, so there’s that.  I loved that everyone was equally enthusiastic about each other’s projects, I loved that we were all asking questions and sharing knowledge. I loved how relaxing it was. It was wonderful to join in and I left full of inspiration about starting a group in my own town. I’m extremely glad that I’ve started making myself do “brave” things. I know I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

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A Holiday in Valle De Lecrin.

I’ve been on holiday! About a month ago one of my sisters asked me if I fancied a trip away. She had a week off work coming up and was planning a holiday. Originally she was going to go with a friend but her friend had had to back out. Her misfortune was my gain because I said “Yes!” (If you’ve seen my crochet vlogs on YouTube, you’ll know I’ve been saying yes to everything this year in a bid to be more brave). It all happened very quickly; all of a sudden four nights in Andalucia had been booked!

Looking out of the aeroplane window got me excited. Before that I was kind of anxious about the whole thing. I barely slept the night before, knowing that I had to get out of bed at 3.15am and drive us an hour and fifteen to Bristol airport. Other people do this sort of thing all the time but to me it’s pretty alien. Honestly, this year has been nuts. Saying “yes” to things has meant that I’ve been to Edinburgh Yarn Festival, had a weekend break in Amsterdam and now I’ve been to Spain for the first time. All of these have been brilliant but also very budgetty. (By the way, I’m also “yessing” to less extravagant stuff too, I’m not about to leave us penniless by jet setting all over just cos I want to. You know, simple things: Do you want to go for a walk? “Yes”).

Our destination? Saleres, a small, quiet town in Valle De Lecrin, an absolutely stunning part of Spain near the Sierra Nevada mountains . Read about the area here. Isn’t it lovely?! There are no shops in Saleres but there is a bread man who comes round twice a day in his van. And there’s a fish man too who visits everyday. If you hear a tooting horn, then you know someone has come to sell you food. You don’t need a fruit man as there’s loads of it growing on your doorstep. It was wonderful to pluck your own sweet oranges from trees that are in all directions. Lemons were huge and we needed those for G&T’s. We braved the prickly pear fruit, burning the spines off before we handled them and we weren’t sure whether the other things we spied were persimmon or not. It was awesome and I was greedy. We spotted almond trees too and there were allotments aplenty, quite sporadic in their placement but I’m guessing those local guys knew what they were doing. Lots of broad beans, onions and happy tomato plants . The area was abundant in everything. Super lush.

It was AirBnB time. My sister was clever enough to find decent accommodation. I was searching in the wrong places. Just because the airport was in Malaga, did not mean we should stay in Malaga. We stayed in a lovely house, which was traditionally moorish in style.  We had three terraces to ourselves and they were mostly private. I did notice an old man in the distance whilst I was using the outdoor shower. He didn’t seem to mind me having a wash. In fact, I think he was rather enjoying himself until he realised I’d turned round and seen him! The house was cool inside and the terraces had hot hot sunshine from morning until sunset. Bliss.

The very first stop was a supermarket to stock up on food and drink (cava and rioja obvs). How I wish I could have fit a jamon into my suitcase. I did squeeze in a fat chorizo and a packet of morcilla (Spanish black pud). Yum!

On our first full day we flipflopped down to Canuelo beach, a very nearly desserted shingle beach. It’s quite a walk down to get there. It’s so worth it though. Stunning, I tell you! Walking back up the hill left me with a beetroot face. It was very hot and super steep. I understand that in peak season there is a bus. You’re not allowed to drive down, you park at the top.  We saw police come and put a ticket on the only car brazen enough to break up the beauty of the place. I minded my own business and got on with some beach crochet (there’s a post coming soon about Wool and the Gang’s Tina Tape yarn).

The next day was a trip to Alhambra, a palace/fortress that we couldn’t get tickets for. It was completely sold out. We learned that it’s usually booked up weeks in advance.  However, what the official people didn’t tell us (but a friendly guide did) is that there is half a day’s worth of stuff you can do for free! It’s a bonkers place, absolutely massive and I’m kind of glad of all the stuff we couldn’t see  (I would have been seriously worn out). We did get to see extraordinary, imposing architecture. There is also an art gallery and museum on site, which we had a wander round.

In the evening we thought we’d stroll over to the next town for a drink and some tapas at one of the bars there. We got lost. Quite a few times actually. After stumbling through some oranges groves and making a couple more wrong turns, we reached our destination. Restabal is another of the towns in Valle de Lecrin, a sign told us it was 1.5km away from Saleres. We found Bar Jovi, which served cold beer (dos cervezas por favor) and delicious tapas. The gubbins that we read at the house told us Restabal was a twenty minute walk away. Hmm, it was a twenty minute march not a casual stroll (we didn’t get lost on the way home, despite it being dark). Whatever, we’re young and fit, it was fine. And the frogs we heard! On the way home, we passed a giant round metal vat/reservoir doodah with water in it. There were frogs hanging out in there and the sounds bouncing off the walls were incredible!

Squeezing in more terrace top crochet.

The last day was a walk to Albunuelas, which was about 3km in the other direction. The path we took is part of the GR7. The GR7 goes through several European countries and is a walkers dream. Or so I understand. Read about it here. The views were awesome, the pathways were brilliant, and we didn’t get lost! It was ridiculously hot though and there are very few shady places. We took plenty of water and when we got to Albunuelas we found a quiet bar (we followed old guys after their sherry). My Spanish is awful but my sister is way better than me. She got across to just keep the tapas coming. There was confusion about menus, I don’t think it was one of the places we’d been told would do three course lunches for 9 Euros. However…

Goodness me! I loved the tapas, it was completely fabulous. (Top right pic is from Bar Jovi). The woman behind the bar was lovely, she made a huge effort to impress us (flaming sausages!). We only had a couple of beers each yet we got through six plates of yummy snacks.

Interesting wildlife too.  House martins and swifts zipped about the sky and a gecko sat with us on our top terrace. I know we get lizards here, in fact, there’s a dead slow worm in the garden right now, but I do love seeing them skitter about the place as you walk past. We also saw an eagle owl living on some bloke’s balcony. There were half a tonne of cats on street corners too. They’d come in the house if you let them but we were told to discourage them. A wise decision unless you’re a legit cat lady.

On our last night we steeped in the outdoor tub. Sat neck deep in hot water, we listened to the frogs sing and gazed at bats and shooting stars. Then it was time to go home. Over so quickly. Everything was properly enjoyable. I don’t think I was ever unhappy at all. I wonder where we’ll go next time?!

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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.

the-national-wool-museum-in-wales

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.

newcastle-emlynn

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

the-cliff-terrace-at-aberystwyth

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.

views-of-aberystwyth

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.

holiday-food-and-drink

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.

on-the-rocks-at-llangrannog

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

octopus-sandcastle

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.

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.

A lovely start to the summer holidays

Up on Hound Tor

We spent the day on Dartmoor yesterday. Nice and sunny up on Hound Tor. We kind of had two picnics. First, a lunch and then an afternoon snack (I made courgette cake) after some walking.

Through the heather to Hound Tor

I took this photo from behind some medieval ruins of an old Dartmoor Longhouse. There are a handful of ruins here.

Hound Tor, Dartmoor

It looks so small from a distance but Hound Tor is massive. Also, somewhat radioactive.

We walked up to Hound Tor, past the village and then went down into the valley to throw stones in the river. The boys loved every bit of it. Walking down the steep valley, carrying a two year old was a bit punishing on my knees but he kept falling over so… He also didn’t enjoy walking back up the hill. His legs are only little.

getting ingredients for quiche lorraine

I also made some mini Quiche Lorraine. It was supposed to be a joint effort between me and the boys but they didn’t stay around long. This recipe came from Rachel Allen’s Bake. So did the courgette cake (which is called Zucchini Bread in the book). The recipe is for a big quiche but I thought small ones would be easier to transport for picnics. Just cook them for less time.

mini quiche lorraine

They worked quite well and we took them with us for our Dartmoor picnic and also for a picnic the day before, to Blackbury Camp in East Devon.

Summer time at Blackbury camp.

It’s an English Heritage site, known locally for its bluebells in spring. It’s an iron age hill fort and brilliant for kids to run around in.

A big bit of flint with quartz

My boy found a big lump of flint with quartz inside. He was very happy with it. His index finger just about shows the scar he gained from his exchange with a saw, on our recent camping trip.

Hello little grass hopper!

Grass hoppers were everywhere. This one is sitting on the inside of my arm.

IMG_20150728_161212355_HDR

On Tuesday we went to a birthday party on Exmouth beach. It started out a bit cold and windy but soon after, the sun came out and the boys got slowly braver and a little less clothed. The seaweed did funny things as the tide came in.

IMG_20150728_143215644

There were a few of these Barrel Jellyfish dotted about the place. It wasn’t this blue in real life but it’s a picture taken on my phone, which does funny things without me asking. They looked like aliens. There was much stick poking from many six year olds. Fascinating.

So that kind of rounds up the first week. We did other fun stuff too. Hanging out with friends, trips to the park and such. I don’t think I’m going to do summer holiday updates every week, it’s just that I haven’t done much in the way of crafting. After my wasp sting at the beginning of the week, my hand swelled up and I thought it best not to do any crochet or sewing.

Sewing machine adventures and walking in the country

sewing machine

This is my cranky old sewing  machine (it’s not mine, it’s my Mum’s). It likes to be used a certain way and it has taken me over two decades for me to really understand it.  I reckon it’s been that long anyway. I’m sure this was the machine I was allowed to use when I was little.

toadstool bag in pieces

Here are the pieces of my toadstool bag. Hmm, I was going to try and add a magnetic clasp to this to make it proper snazzy.  It’s not something I’ve done before. Sadly, I’ve lost my recent purchase of said magnetic clasp. Shame.

purse sewing pattern

I didn’t get very far with the toadstool bag before I realised that birthday presents had to be made for the weekend. Two small purses are being made from a really good online tutorial at skiptomylou. I’ve used the pattern before, about a month ago and I really liked it. Deffo a go-to recipe for a nice present.

new crochet owls

I’ve also been working on a crochet pattern this week. I’m excited by it. Way more than I thought I’d be. These are the prototypes that I’ve been working on. I typed up the pattern and handed it out to my crochet friends for testing. It turns out that pattern writing is tricksy. And because it’s so tricksy, it is far from being ready to release into the wild. Soon.

red salston manor

I had a lovely time on Tuesday evening. I went for a walk along the river Otter. These are the chimney tops of Salston Manor, I can’t believe it is sitting empty! Absolutely bonkers.

There’s a group of  people who meet regularly to walk around nearby places. Nice places, obviously. And no dawdling allowed. This time, we managed to squeeze in a quick drink at the pub too!

sunset bridge over river otter

I took a ridiculous amount of photographs but never really stood still to take them. Therefore, I have a huge selection of blurry pictures and only a few that managed to refuse the blur .

cows at sunset

The first time I joined the Weekly Walk I didn’t take my camera. Then when I did, I didn’t make an effort to use it properly. Tsk.

cows in a field. sunset

I don’t really mind cows. They’re OK. Moo.