Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Photo Scavenger Hunt : September

September has gone by in a flash and it's already time for the monthly Scavenger Hunt organised by Jill at Made with Love. I found it a little easier this month though I only took the last couple at the weekend. Here's my entry.

S is for : Swings on the local playground.

2pm : Saturday 27 September, waiting for the train to Southport.

Car park : The National Trust car park at Formby.

Hat : Keeping the sun off watching a bowling competition. My Dad is one of the men on the green.

In the mirror : The latest collections in Next.

Garden : Mum and Dad's front garden.

Lock : I don't think anyone has opened this lock in a while.

Nails : Rusty old nails from my parents' garage. They've just had the roof replaced.

Lamp : Pretty stained glass lamps outside a local house.

Street sign : Take care - children and ducks crossing!

Game : This was a window display in a local charity shop. I almost used it for lamp but liked the use of the monopoly board as the table top.

Outside your window : An unidentified moth not just outside my window but also on my window!

Edited to add: Thanks to Louise for identifying it as a Large Yellow Underwing.

If you feel inspired to join in, you can find all the categories for October here. x

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Of yoga bags & dreamcatchers

Before I begin, I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you for all your kind words on my last post. It means a lot to know there are so many of you out there who care about us. It's only been a week but it feels much longer than that. Both of us are fine and, for the most part, it's business as usual. The only real change is getting Chickpea into the routine of taking medication. She has to work her way up to the full dose so I've written the schedule on a calendar so she knows what to take when. Which has made me feel useful and has satisfied my practical problem-solving side.

Anyway, as I said, it's pretty much business as usual and that's how I want it to be, at least on my blog so...

I still have a couple of things from the summer to show you but, for a change, I thought I'd show you some crafting. Over the summer I managed to finish off a couple of projects and made progress on a couple of others. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that it was back in March that I started my yoga mat bag! It didn't take long to complete the bag part but I lost momentum when it came to the strap.

In the end I just had to put my mind to it and, luckily, managed to complete it before the class restarted last week. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out and it attracted a few admiring glances - that and lots of teasing :) The atmosphere at the class has been lovely since we restarted. Doing the walks over the summer really helped us get to know each other better and brought us much closer. So much so that, if we can get our act together, we plan to hire a cottage for a walking weekend. If we don't, we'll definitely be doing our walks again next summer.

The other thing I completed was a dreamcatcher. Like the bag, it was a pattern in Simply Crochet magazine (issue 5). Although the web is made up of different colours, it's actually the same yarn, Katia Candy, shade 656. As I only needed small amounts, I unwound the ball until I reached a colour change and made several little balls. The ring is an embroidery hoop.

I bought the crystal a while back, not because I liked the crystal but because I wanted the silver chain it was on for another pendant. I knew it would come in handy for something! The ribbons with the silver balls and pink crystals were from Lidl and came in lots of different colours. The other ribbons were cut off clothes - they're the ribbons you find in shoulders to stop clothes falling off hangers in shops. Yes, I save everything!

I've also finished knitting all the pieces of my cardigan (photo of the pattern here). Unfortunately, I've hit a problem in that the needles I need to complete the edging already have something else on them! I need to ask Mum if she has a set so I can finish it. My light summer cardigan will just be ready in time for winter...

Last but not least, I've put a border on my wonky star quilt. The star was a sample made in a workshop, using a technique I will never ever use again as it came out completely wonky and sticks up in the middle. I'd tried to salvage it by adding the applique in the corners but it was then abandoned and stuffed in a drawer. However, I wanted something to practice free motion machine quilting on and this seemed to fit the bill. It was meant to be a quick finish so that I could move onto doing the quilting: I can't tell you how many times I had to unpick and resew that border! I've layered it all up with the wadding now but haven't started the quilting yet - if it turns out ok I'll show you the finished result. If you never see it again, you'll know why!

I have also almost finished the little birds quilt which was my blogiversary giveaway. Louise, it will be with you shortly!

To finish, not something I've made but which I've grown - the bargain 50p chilli plant! I don't think I really believed it would actually produce chillis but here they are. We haven't been brave enough to try any yet - they're habaneros so are going to be very hot!

Hope you had a lovely weekend. We had a day out yesterday which I'll tell you about later. For now though, here's a taster of what we saw. xx

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


I'm a private person. That seems odd when you consider that I write a public blog but I'm usually sparing in what I reveal here about my personal life. I've actually sat on this post a couple of days wondering whether to say anything but sometimes you do just want to share.

Last week my bright, beautiful, funny, kind, warm-hearted and sunny-natured daughter was diagnosed with a medical condition which means she will have to take medication for the rest of her life. A potentially life-threatening condition. It's been a lot to take in and Chickpea has adjusted to the news far better than me. My mind and heart have been all over the place. The day after the news, I thought I was doing fine but, when a colleague asked how she was getting on, I had to walk off so that I wouldn't break down in the middle of the office. I've had to resist the urge to ring her every few minutes to check how she is. Which is ridiculous because, as she points out, nothing has changed except to have given something a name. She is very much of the 'que sera sera' school of thought. I love her more than words can ever possibly say.

So we're going through a period of adjustment. Working out what is the new norm and settling into a pattern. The sun continues to rise and set and we will get through this. x

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Weekend flora & fauna

I've been home alone this weekend as Chickpea has gone to spend a few days with her boyfriend. Usually I quite enjoy having the luxury of some time to myself but I'm feeling her absence this time. As well as keeping myself busy with crafting and some necessary housework, I made sure I got out of the house and have been for a couple of walks. Yesterday I walked the path along the golf course and today I spent an hour in the woods. I'm going to leave the photos to speak for themselves.

Blue tit in the bottom left hand corner - I pointed my camera and hoped for the best! I also saw chaffinches and willow warblers but they were both too fast and I came home with lots of photos of empty trees!

Speckled wood

Speckled wood and Small tortoiseshell

I'm pretty sure these are orange mosscaps. The colour was much more vibrant in reality.

No idea what this was but all of them had these dark patches around the edge of the cap.

I also found this pretty little feather. Initially I wondered if it might be from the blue tit but, looking at some photos, I think it may be from a jay - which would be very exciting as I've never seen one around here!

Well, the internet has been driving me crazy while I've been trying to write this, so I'm going to click Publish before it can disappear again! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. x

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Rivington terraced gardens

After our walk up to Rivington Pike in July which took us through the edge of the terraced gardens, I really wanted to go back for a proper look. We eventually did so on the lovely sunny Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend.

The first part of the walk takes you through Breres Meadow where the tree line marks the start of the gardens. The Terraced Gardens were built by William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme, in the early 1900s. Before he planted trees and shrubs, and built waterfalls, rockpools, terraces, bridges and towers, there was nothing but open hillside and moorland.

We were following a self-guided trail using the red waymarkers to show us the route.

At various stages there are numbered posts to show you where there's information in the trail guide.

Here we're looking at one of the many garden shelters. It was built in 1922 to look out over Breres meadow, though there are too many trees to see the meadow these days.

Next stop is the Ravine.

All of the waterfalls and the stream going down the hillside are completely manmade, all designed by T H Mawson. Some areas you could guess have been constructed but others, like the part above, look really natural.

The lake is part of the Japanese garden, built in 1922, which was surrounded by exotic plants and shrubs and flamingoes! I don't know what they would have made of a windswept hill in Lancashire!

There would also have been ornamental lanterns and tea houses but these have long since disappeared.

At one time the area had been completely taken over by rhododendrons but most have been cleared away: there are just a few remaining.

Time for a quick sit down to consult the map before we continue onwards.

Next on the trail are a range of ruined garden buildings which would have been storage sheds.


We're now at the bottom of a flight of stairs known as the Long Walk.

Just through the archway, there's an open area. To the right, a garden shelter overlooking what was once the tennis courts.

You'd struggle to find your ball among all the bilberries now!

On the right, another garden shelter.

This one overlooks what would have been the Great Lawn, where Lord Lever held several open days.

Continuing on to the top of the Long Walk and turning left, we arrived at the site of the main house, known as 'the Bungalow'.

All that remains of The Bungalow are areas of tiled floor.


Below the site of the Bungalow was a bowls and croquet lawn.

In the far corner, only the base of the sundial remains.

Continuing on, we're reaching the highest point of the trail.

And arrive at the Pigeon Tower, constructed in 1910.

The lower floors housed ornamental doves but it's believed the top floor was used by Lady Lever as a sewing room. Would you ever be able to concentrate on sewing with those views in front of you?

What goes up must come down, so we headed off on the final part of the trail.

Another garden shelter. They all look a bit spooky with the entrances and windows covered with bars.

The last landmark is a large pond known as the Swimming Pool as Lord Lever apparently liked to take a dip each morning while in residence. He must have been a hardy soul!

And here's the man himself with his lady wife.

While writing this post, I learned that Rivington Terraced Gardens were recently named as one of the ten best 'secret lost' gardens by BBC Countryfile magazine. I also found out that an application is being made to the Heritage Lottery fund for money to preserve the gardens and to repair and conserve the buildings. The intention is not to restore it to its original state but to maintain the air of 'faded grandeur and mystery', which seems to me an appropriate approach to take. I do hope they're successful - they can definitely have my regular unwinnings anyway! x