Saturday, 25 November 2017

V-stitch blanket

On this cold and icy morning, I thought I would take a moment and share with you my V-stitch blanket which I finally finished this week. Although I say 'finally,' it has probably been the easiest and fastest blanket I have worked so far. I had never tried working the v-stitch before so I am really quite happy with how it turned out.
The yarn I used is a wool/acrylic blend which is a perfect compromise for me as it makes for a very cosy blanket and yet can be thrown in the washing machine with little worry.
Instead of a border I finished it off with some fringing.

The 'arty' shot........

and the out-take........

I give up!

J. X

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Bright November days

November days can often be grey, dull and gloomy but recently we have been fortunate enough to enjoy some beautiful sunshine. Even better is that these sunny days have fallen on the weekends when we have been able to seize the opportunity to get out.
Last week we walked up Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. As it was a beautifully clear day there were amazing views right out towards the sea. There were a few fell runners on the mountain and one even challenged Lily to a short race! Of course she was up for it and gave it her all.
It was a long but (fairly) easy climb to the summit but we didn't spend very long up there as it was sooo windy! We hastily ate our lunch in the wind shelter and retraced our steps back down the mountain.
This weekend's walk was closer to home. We went through the fields and up towards one of our favourite viewpoints overlooking the mountains. It was a beautiful frosty morning and named 'ice day' by Lily who was fascinated by the frozen puddles. There are now more leaves on the ground than on the trees, their dark silhouettes contrasting against the brightness of the sky.
Wintry weather is creeping in now and I'm wearing my woolly jumpers on a daily basis with scarves and mittens within easy reach for those colder mornings. I'm not good with cold weather and always have to wrap up well.
Yesterday I treated myself to my first mince pie of the season and this week, once I've finished making my sofa throw I will begin my festive planning. Yes! It's getting close to that time of year again. Who's ready?
J. X

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Fresh air and Fireworks

Last Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. A light frost, blue sky and a sharp chill in the air. My favourite kind of Autumn day.
We had an early start as we were headed for an easily accessible, and therefore, very popular part of the Lakes which is far better enjoyed before the crowds descend. Having packed a rucksack and prepared a packed lunch the evening before, we were out of the house nice and early, delayed slightly only in order to defrost the car.

The early start was definitely worthwhile, however, and we enjoyed the first half of our walk in peaceful surroundings. Having initially walked up a steep incline, we soon warmed up and  were rewarded with stunning views of the landscape awash with Autumn colour. Lily was fascinated by the wishing tree to the edge of the path. Coins are wedged into the bark of the fallen trunk by passers by in the belief it will bring them good fortune. They are becoming a common sight on many walks. Our pathway continued along the hillside, parallel to the road down below, eventually dropping down once again to pass along the lake shore.

After a brief stop to eat our lunch - it was far too cold to sit around for very long - we made our way to a favourite cafĂ© for a much needed warming drink. My choice at this time of year is hot apple and cinnamon cordial - delicious!

Following our morning's activity we spent the afternoon pottering and relaxing at home before going back out again in the evening to watch the fireworks. Lily doesn't really like loud noises so we watched from a 'safe' distance. Blimey! It was cold. I was glad we were well wrapped up and thankfully, as the display was quite small we were not out for very long.
Returning home we enjoyed some Sticky Ginger Cake (I always have to make this for Bonfire Night) and lit some sparklers in the garden. Lily was too wary to hold hers so I put them in one of the garden pots!

Recipe for Sticky Ginger Cake:

225g Self Raising flour
1 tspn Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tspn Ground Ginger
1 tspn Mixed Spice
1 tspn Ground Cinnamon
115g Butter
115g Dark Brown Sugar
115g Black Treacle
115g Golden Syrup
275 mls Milk
1 beaten egg

Sieve the dry ingredients, then rub in the butter.
Melt together the syrup, treacle, sugar and milk.
Mix together and add the beaten egg. Pour into a loaf tin (the mixture is quite runny) and bake at 140 for around 50 minutes.

J. X

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Autumn Joy

The surrounding countryside has taken on a distinctive russet hue, trees are almost aglow with gorgeous Autumn colour, drifts of leaves line the lanes and cover pathways and there is a comforting scent of  wood smoke in the air. There can be no doubt we are in the midst of our Autumn season and all the beauty it has to offer.
Yesterday's morning frost made way for a stunning, bright clear day which set off the Autumn scenery in all it's glory. A wonderful treat following some dark and overcast days.
The clocks going back has meant some cosy evenings in. It's so satisfying to draw the curtains, light some candles and make use of the blankets scattered on the sofas. Alongside this simple pleasure there have been some delicious aromas emerging from the kitchen. Apple and cinnamon crumble and sticky ginger cake are perfect sweet treats at this time of year.
Last week we spent a few days in Edinburgh, which always seems to happen at this time of year. We took some time to enjoy the city and relax in familiar surroundings. Princes Street Gardens are beautiful in the Autumn and there are always plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. This time we discovered a delightful walled garden just off Canongate which we had never noticed before. Lily busied herself trying to catch the leaves falling from the trees while we sat and soaked up the sunshine. Some more photographs from our previous visit can be seen here.
Since our return I have mostly been keeping busy with visiting a family member in hospital. I do feel like I have been chasing my tail the last few days but I have managed to find a little time to enjoy some walks and another bike ride to the seafront (I really, really need some padded shorts!!!)
Thankfully, within the next few days life should return to a reasonable level of calm once again but for this evening we're lighting up the pumpkins and getting ready to welcome some 'trick or treaters' and with any luck I'll have some treats left over for myself.
Happy Hallowe'en!
J. X

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

In Search of Autumn

October is marching on, and although I've settled into a 'sort of' routine I haven't managed to post as much as I would like. I think it has just taken me a little longer to adjust than I originally anticipated.
Life is very good, however, and with weekdays now being filled with work and school it has been even more important for us to make the most of our precious time together at the weekends. Therefore, when Lily came home from school last week with a little note requesting we go out and search for signs of Autumn, it didn't take much persuading for us to gather together our warm socks and boots and head off into the woods.
We ambled through the fields, which have become incredibly muddy over the last couple of weeks. Being careful of my footing I was very glad of my new 'sorry I forgot your birthday' field boots. The hedgerows are full of berries with bursts of red everywhere and there were still plenty of Rosehips for the picking, the birds having seen off the last of the elderberries. Although the sky was grey, the air was warm and still and it didn't take long for jackets to be removed.                         
Since our last walk the woodland floor had become covered with leaves. On the pathway beneath the now scant canopy of the trees they had turned brown and squelchy, but in the clearings where the track opened up there was a great variety of colour, the russet, yellow and orange underfoot in sharp contrast to looking upward at the black silhouette of the tree branches against the murky sky.
At this time of year my inner child never tires of kicking through the leaves, so when Lily is around I make the most of every opportunity, along with trying to catch some as they fluttered down on us from above. We gathered leaves of each colour to take into school along with a handful of conkers.
At the farm shop there was a gorgeous display of locally grown pumpkins for sale. I couldn't resist taking a photograph.
I think we found Autumn.
J. X