Monday, 25 January 2021

Random Ramblings :: A bit of this and that

Hi there everyone 😀

Well ... after it feeling like there's not really that much happening over here, somehow there seems to have been a fair few bits of random happening over the last few weeks that feel worth rambling about ...

A brand new project ... 
This Art Class in a Box appeared randomly on my Facebook timeline a few weeks ago and I had some Christmas money that I wanted to use to treat myself to something, rather than it just fall into the normal household bills pot ...

What drew me to this one, daft as it sounds, was the colours ... purple is my most favourite colour ever and I really felt that if I could pull off any of these projects they would make a good addition to the 'art wall' that I am hoping to pull together at some point this year ... this is a photo from their website, so I can't claim the credit ...

I've never really painted before so goodness only knows how it will all turn out, but time will tell. For now here is a sneak peak in the box ... 

Searching for Angels ...
One day a couple of weeks ago we managed to take dad out for a walk round our local town and castle grounds. We are so lucky to have this right on our doorstep ...



Our primary objective was searching for 'Angels' ... part of a local art project that has seen pairs of 'Angels' Wings' pop up around the town ...

A bit of gentle decluttering ...
Inspired by other blogs I’ve read there was a little bit of clearing of clutter belonging to my imaginary self ... the imaginary self that needs a big black leather laptop bag and a fabulous pair of heels ...

I am currently deciding whether I can justify sending to a local charity shop or whether to try and sell on Ebay, which is not without effort, but I feel as though I should try and recoup something for the initial layout.

Our first foray ...
There has been a very short initial foray out back ... to take down the tangle of the cobea from the arbour ...

In other cobea news, under the expert advice of Monty Don, we had hoped to collect seeds so we could grow them again this year.

In spite of the cobea giving a fantastic show through late summer and autumn there were only two fat juicy seed pods that developed ...
We left them until December before taking them off the plant and opened one to find ...

... seeds, but not developed at all.

We thought we’d have a go at popping the other one in the airing cupboard to see what happened and then pretty much forgot about it ... until a few days ago.

Well ... it had crisped up lovely and started to split and look ...

The top left picture is the original seeds that we bought ... top right is in flower ... bottom left is the crispy seedpod and bottom left are the seeds we collected ... so that seems pretty successful.

They can be planted in February to that is a job that has definitely been added to the priority list,

More cupcakes ...
This time of the 'Skinny' variety ... totally made unskinny by a generous dollop of full fat and sugary buttercream ... they were ok, but nowhere near as good as something made from scratch with proper sugar and butter ...

Flowers by post ...
These were delivered by post last week ... from some of our closest friends ... and what a treat ...


Plenty of weather ...
A smattering of snow ...


... and after a lot of wet, gloom and grey a bit of random blue sky and even some gentle warm sunshine ...

A virtual dinner party ...
On Saturday night we had our first ever virtual dinner party with our good friends Jackie & Phil. We have got together for Saturday nights at home with good food for as many years as I can remember and we've all really missed it over the last 12 months, so we thought we'd give this a go. I will let you know how we got on next week 😃

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Friday, 22 January 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: January 2021 #2 Moon

Hi there everyone 😀

It's time for this week's photo scavenger hunt ... joining in with Kate from I live, I love, I craft, I am me.

The word for this week is 'Moon'. I did scratch my head a bit when I first saw this as night time photography is not really something that I do much of ... I never have that much luck with the lighting and am a bit rubbish at using my manual camera settings.

But after a bit of a think I was sure that there was something in the archive from a Christmas trip a few years ago to the Festival of Light at Longleat ...

I know the moon is small ... but it really did look spectacular in real life 😀
We went right around the World ... from The North Pole ❆❄❅
To Ancient Egypt 𓀀𓀁𓀂
We even went under the sea 🐟🐠🐟

It was an absolutely spectacular show and I would definitely recommend it if ever you get the chance to go ... it did literally take my breath away and if you want to read more about it or see more photos you can do so here.

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Next week’s photos will be down to my choice and I had been pondering about what I might post but yesterday presented a couple of unexpected photo opportunities so I think I have something up my sleeve.

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Monday, 18 January 2021

50 Things before I'm 60 :: 2020 Update

Hello there everyone 😀

It’s that time of year again ... time to look at what progress I’ve made with my list of 50 things to do before I’m 60.

So far I've shared 47 of the things that I want to achieve including those I shared with you in February of 2020, where there were a fair few things I either already had planned in or wanted to do over the course of the year. As you will probably expect 2020 didn't exactly go to plan but here is how I got on ...

37 - Find a new volunteering opportunity
When I did my February review I'd not long started volunteering at my local foodback, which is literally at the top of the street where I live. At that time I'd only done a couple of shifts but was already enjoying it and starting to learn the ropes.

Well I'm pleased to report that I have carried on with this right through the year and, with lots of volunteers having needed to shield as a result of lockdowns, I've actually done a day pretty much every week throughout the year so have quickly become an 'old hand'. 

I'm still really enjoying and hope to continue for the forseeable future so I think this is one I can now properly tick off the list as achieved 😀

38 - Visit Chatsworth for Christmas and the Christmas Markets
This was our Christmas excursion treat for 2019. We spent the week in Ashford-in-the-Water and got to visit Chatsworth, whilst the Christmas markets were on. We had a nice lunch, a good wander round the gardens and got to see the house all decked out for Christmas. You can read more about our visit here ...


39 - Have a photo featured in the Isle of Wight top 10 fan photos
This was one that I completed during our late 2019 visit to the very lovely Isle of Wight and to say I was chuffed to bits is an understatement. This is the picture that was featured ... it was the most fabulous view on the most beautiful of days ... the Isle of Wight has definitely become a favourite destination for us ...

40 - Take a break in Windsor and see the sights
This time last year, in an effort to shift the January lethargy, I booked us a last minute short break to Windsor. We had a wonderful time exploring ... it was a really lovely break, so different to what we would normally do. At the time I had no idea that it really would be the last break that we took for a fair old while ...


41 - Re-visit Warner Bros Studios to see Gringotts Bank
This was another trip we took back early in 2020, before life as we know it changed drastically. It was probably the last real trip out that we had with mum and dad and, whilst it was a very long day, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. The bank was amazing ...


42 - Cycle to Elford Hall walled garden
I am sad to say that our bikes have not even made it out of the shed this year, which is a bit rubbish really, considering it's something that we could definitely have done more of with the year we've had. Our plan was to take a pretty long bike ride to the walled garden at Elford, have a picnic and ride back. We worked out the mileage and whilst it was a fair distance it seemed doable ... but not without toilet facilities being available and with lockdown restrictions in place these have been closed all year.

We did get to visit the gardens a couple of times though and they were a real haven ...

This is definitely one to be carried forward.

43 - Visit Glamis Castle
When I shared this goal in February we had a cottage holiday booked in Dunkeld in Scotland and tickets booked to visit Glamis Castle. Sadly this all ended up getting firstly postponed to November and then totally cancelled. we’ve not rebooked anything yet and the beautiful holiday cottage that we’d found is no longer available for rental.

We were really disappointed as we’d been going with good friends and we were all really excited had everything planned and it was a really last minute cancellation as we were due to go just as the March lockdown began.

It’s a goal I will definitely be carrying forward but not sure that we will manage to fit it in in 2021 ... maybe one for 2022.

44 - Visit Clevedon
The tiny village of Clevedon on the Severn Estuary and the National Trust property nearby were on the cards for a day trip in 2020. Sadly, it was another outing that had to be put on the back burner, but definitely still on the cards at some point.

45 - Visit new places in The Peak District ... Padley Gorge, Cheedale Stepping Stones, Three Shires Head, New Mills
Having managed to visit one of the new places that we wanted to see in November of 2019 we did have another holiday there planned for Christmas of 2020 ... it was yet another cancellation but we will definitely be back up that way at some point in 2021 and hopefully will get to explore a few more new places.

The one new place that we did get to visit was Padley Gorge and it didn't disappoint ...


46 - Cycle round Carsington Water
This was one of the things we were hoping to do during our Christmas break and another goal carried over for maybe this year.

47 - Read more
So how have I done on my reading challenge? At the beginning of the year I set out with the aim of reading two books a month, or a total of 24. With the year we've had and the time we've had to spend at home I would have thought it would have been an easy goal ... but not quite so ... though I did just about achieve it.

I actually ended up having read a total of 25 books, two of them cookbooks, so not really sure those count. 12 of the 25 were of Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, he has definitely become a favourite character for me. Having read the books and become acquainted with Jack, I'm not sure I'd be able to watch another film with Tom Cruise playing him though ... that just feels so, so wrong.

There were a few other old favourites in there too .. John Grisham, Wilbur Smith and Clive Cussler for adventure and Milly Johnson and Cecelia Aherne for something a little lighter, with a whole lot of strange thrown in from Phillip Pullman.

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I did end up adding another one to the list part way through the year ...

48 - Visit more Cotswold Gardens ... Sezincote, Bourton House, Batsford Arboretum, Cotswold Lavendar and Cerney House
We did manage to get to Sezincote, which was absolutely stunning ...

The plan was to also visit Bourton House, which is just down the road from Sezincote but they had to close because of a Covid outbreak. We did try a drive to the Lavendar Farm, but it was just far too busy to visit safely so I just managed to take a couple of pictures from the car, but that one is definitely for another day ...


So there you have it ... my latest update on the '50 Things I want to do before I'm 60'.

I'll maybe do another post in over the next few weeks with a full list of all of the objectives and see what is on the cards for 2021 😀

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Friday, 15 January 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: January 2021 #2 'New'

Hi there everyone 😀

It's time for this weeks photo scavenger hunt, linking up with Kate over on I live, I love, I craft, I am me ... this week's word is ‘new’. I’m sure this will bring an absolute myriad of interpretations ... new home, new job, new baby, new year, new shoes ... the list could go on forever.

I decided to not to raid the archive for this week's entry and opted for ‘new’ pictures .. see what I did there 😂😂😂

I’m starting with the garden ... something that brings both Martin and I plenty of joy ... though at this time every year we look out back and can't imagine it ever looking good again ... it’s wet, it’s brown, it's dull and there are jobs waiting to be done everywhere we look.

However ... experience tells us that give it a few months and we will start to recognise it again and then we will be inspired to get out there and get cracking.

The first real sign of a new year in the garden for us is the hellebores coming into flower ... always the first blooms of a new year for us and this year is no different ...

Another early ‘new’ for 2021 was my first attempt at coffee and walnut cupcakes. Now coffee and walnut is not something I would normally go for but it’s dad’s favourite and I wanted to make him a treat. These certainly went down very nicely ... even I enjoyed them ... another great recipe from Jane’s Patisserie ...

Another ‘new’ for us is this new home for our tiny cactus collection ... they have lived in the tiny pots they came in for a good few years and it was definitely time to make use of the new pot I had for Christmas ...
They certainly seem quite happy back in the bird cage ...


Another ‘new’ for me this year will be these embroidery projects ... I want to try and fit some kind of ‘art wall’ somewhere in the house and I’m hoping that these will feature ... apologies for the quality of the picture, it really doesn't do the colours justice ... I'm blaming the lighting ...

I also couldn't resist treating myself to a couple of new bits and pieces this month ... firstly this V&A William Morris fabric ... it is so beautiful. I have no idea what I will make with it. For now, I am more than happy to just enjoy looking at it ...
... and secondly a bit of totally unnecessary home decor, just bought purely for the sake of loving it and just knowing that I will be able to find somewhere for it ... I've found it a temporary home for now ...

I’m finishing off today with a ‘new’ from old ...

For a while now we have been hanging onto our burned out Yankee Candles and melting the wax down to make ‘new’ candles and we had a candle making session earlier this week. We did really well and have ended up with seven new, smaller candles ... one candy cane, two plum crumble puddings, one pomegranate and gin fizz and three of my very favourite black cherry ...

I popped the old empty Yankee candle jars on my local Facebook craft group page to see if anyone could use them and they were snapped up within half an hour ... so that's all worked out really well, with another bag of stuff saved from landfill.

Thank you everyone for reading and all of your kind comments on my recent posts ... I will be back next week with an update on how I'm doing with the '50 Things I want to do before I'm 60' and whatever I can find in the archives for next week's photo scavenger hunt ... the word for which is 'Moon' 🌑🌒🌓🌔🌕🌖🌗🌘

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