Sunday, 24 March 2013

A winter week on Skye in pictures

I spent last week in Skye, it seemed a real effort to go away at this chilly time of year but it was worth it. Encountered some snow just north of Glasgow on the way up and then narrowly avoided the worst snowy areas on the way back down although there were lengthy detours to avoid the A66.

The weather in Skye was very good, bright, chilly days and the hotel was warm and absolute bliss compared to this cold house, I didn't have to wear my long johns or vest, how amazing is that!
(I'm wrapped up like a Michellin man since coming back but I still can't get warm).

I'm keeping the words to a minimum and showing a few of my snaps. The landscape was very parched but colourful non the less in a yellowy, brown sort of way and heather burning was taking place on the hills.

Pic 1, edge of Cumbria on the way up

Pic 2, 3 and 4, Glencoe

Pic 5 and 6, looking towards 2 pinnacles known as the Old Man of Storr in the Staffin area

Pic 7, the single track, snaking road up the Quairang mountain range, this area is very recognisable from the film Stardust

Pic 8 and 9, at the top of the Quairang

Pic 10, this is a "stitched" together panorama of the Quairang

Pic 11, just spotted from whizzing by in the car, the turf roofed house featured on Grand Designs last year

Pic 12, leaning Celtic cross in a church yard

Pic 13, beach combing at Elgol, found some lovely sea glass

Pic 14, panorama of Elgol

Pic 15, panorama of Skye bridge from Kyleakin

And lastly, just a couple of little purchases, some lovely fabric and some handmade ceramic buttons.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Monsters and miniatures, and a new machine

I think I have created a monster!

Brace yourselves, it's a huge Bob style bunny. I wanted to use some scraps of wool up so I just kept knitting the 2 balls together for a bit of mottled effect and here he is..... Bob's big brother!

Another little and large would be these crocheted strawberries. The big chunky one is a pin cushion and I'm just finishing the small one as a necklace.

Completed last week for my mums mothers day gift was this miniature embroidery for a brooch.

And lastly, I've been so busy with work and things that I haven't had much of a go on my new sewing machine which arrived last week. I went for this Janome as it does text which is quite a feature in work I like to create and I'm very excited about some of the 400 embroidery stitches. My old Brother machine is still good but this one purrs in a much nicer way! 

I'm looking forward to warmer days and good natural light to get stuck into using it.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Long weekend in South Lakes & Lancaster

I had planned a weekend in the Lakes a few weeks back as a belated birthday getaway for myself as my birthday had occurred mid week during Feb and it wasn't practical to do anything back then.
I left it really late to actually make a booking in my attempt to source a bargain on LateRooms. It seems no matter how last minute I look at LateRooms I never seem to find a real bargain these days.

I actually ended up booking the Travel Lodge at Kendal for a cheap couple of nights.
It worked quite well as a location because I wanted to visit Lancaster and it was only 20 mins away.

Why Lancaster, well at the risk of being a coffee bore, Lancaster is home to J. Atkinson & Co. Coffee Roasters who supply one of my favourite coffee shops in York, Spring Espresso. J. Atkinson also have 2 cafes in Lancaster in lovely old buildings which they have brought back to life.

The building / cafe below is called The Music Room. I'm sure it will be lovely sat outside in this courtyard on a summers day.

You won't be surprised to see Bob's little face pop up at the sight of a lovely flat white!

Below is J Atkinsons shop, step inside and it's like stepping back in time. There are packets of tea and coffee in little brown paper bags, an old wooden counter, little wooden drawers full of interesting things, coffee sacks, tea chests, all sorts of vintage memorabilia, it's wonderful.

Next door to their shop is the other cafe called The Priory Hall and inside I sampled a coffee brewing process I hadn't tried or seen before. This is the vacuum method of brewing coffee via a siphon pot.
You can see the burners lit as the water is heated and the coffee grinds added.

Below, the coffee is then allowed to bloom and infuse, about 2 - 3 minutes before being poured. Each pot below gives a good mug full of coffee. I had a lovely, floral Ethiopian coffee, the cost was very reasonable to watch this bit of 'coffee magic' take place at £2.60 each.

You can see that no food has been consumed yet on this trip, hold on, I had researched that too before setting off on this journey.
I read up on a vegetarian cafe in Lancaster called the Whale Tail Cafe.

As often is the case when seeking out a veggie cafe, many I've been to are down alleyways and not much to look at outside and it was like this with the Whale Tail.
However, venture up the steps and fight your way for a table and you will be rewarded with a wonderful feast.

This is my platter of Whale Tail salads, homemade hummus, a big tub of olives and pitta's. The picture doesn't quite reveal how big or deep my salad dish was, it seemed I would never reach the bottom of the bowl! I have to say it's been one of my best bowls of unusual salad dishes ever. 
I couldn't finish everything so I really couldn't have a pudding but they looked fab.

The Whale Tail have a cookbook so I've bought that as most of the salads are in.

I hadn't been to Lancaster before but I like it, nice place with good food and coffee.

Drove up to Keswick on Saturday, the weather had turned wet and remained so all day with bitterly cold winds.

Still wet in Windermere in the afternoon but very busy down by the lake and I don't like crowds so we carried on to another place on my to do list, Cartmel, home of sticky toffee pudding.

But more importantly, Cartmel Coffee, who also use Atkinsons beans.
There was a lovely warm glow inside on this wet day and I had an enormous rosewater meringue with my tasty coffee.

You can see that Bob passed out at the sight of my huge meringue!

Cartmel was very lovely but I imagine it will be heaving with tourists in summer so this was probably a good time to catch it.

By Sunday morning there had been a good dusting of snow on the fells and it was time to head back. It had been lovely to get away and I know Travel Lodges are hardly luxurious but they are much warmer than the house here so I really appreciated not having all my layers of vests and jumpers on for a couple of days!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Some pretty pastels to welcome Spring

I've seen a glimpse of Spring at the weekend, I went to Scarborough on Saturday and the sun was shining beautifully. In fact, sat in the glass conservatory area of the Spa cafe having tea and a teacake (teacake warning: they heaped loads of greasy butter on) was really very warm. 

There was a re-use and recycling craft fair at the Scarborough Spa and it was something I wanted to visit as I'd been invited to have a stall and stalls were free, but I had to decline as I didn't have the public liability insurance they needed.
I was pleasantly surprised by the stalls, some lovely handmade things, nice quality, well presented and packaged. A few stalls with bits of fabric and haberdashery to tempt me, people spinning wool and paper making. Really good that it was free entry and you got a cotton goodie bag with some recycled pencils and a cup.

I've been making some sugary coloured bunnies like Bob this week.

I also found some nice pastel coloured bits of haberdashery in some local shops this week. Like this easter ribbon, notice the green rabbit which I think Vivienne will like!

We also have a few bits of pretty fabric and I am very excited to say that I've taken the plunge and ordered a new sewing machine. Clothkits had a 25% off sale last Thursday and as they stocked Janome machines and had the one I wanted, it seemed a no-brainer to stop reading reviews and just buy the thing!

I love this retro style note pad my friend bought me, seemed quite appropriate as March is coming in like a lamb so far. I'm sure when I was a small child I used to have a little tin bath or a rocking horse or something with this lamb image on.

To finish off the weekend I went to York yesterday as there was one of the vintage fairs in the Merchant Adventurers Hall. Not as many stalls as I've seen before and the downstairs section had a lot of food this time, jams, sweeties, fudge, biscuits. 
I just bought this small pack of nicely decorated ginger biscuits from the Gingerbread House at Whitby as they looked to have made a real effort with their stall.

Upstairs it was a strange mix of some very expensive silver jewellery stalls, designer type stuff, I'm really not sure what that has to do with vintage! A family portrait photographers stall, a lady trying to sell you into some sort of York shopping card for the designer outlet, again, I don't think that sort of thing should be there.
A few clothes stalls, bits of haberdashery and handmade cushions and more of those cake stands and fruit bowls they make from old records. I really don't like those, they seem impractical to clean with the record grooves and you can't see the paper disc of the middle of the record if you actually use it for fruit. To be honest I didn't see anything as unusual or creative as I'd seen at the Scarborough fair the day before.

Looks like the weather is picking up a bit this week, and for more confirmation that Spring is on the way, I've been observing 2 rabbits burrow digging and taking dried grass and moss down for nest building.