Thursday 31 December 2015

And that my Friends ...... was 2015!

Hi there everyone

Well, here we are ... Almost at the end of another year, how quickly they seem to pass.

I've had a bit of a blog break this week, Martin and I have just felt really lazy and have made the most of that chill out time, between Christmas and New Year, by not doing very much at all.

I do have lots to tell you about though, including our family Christmas break In Yorkshire, a Christmas wedding and an update on where I am with my list of 50 things to do before I'm 60 so look out for my usual Monday posts, which should be back on track from next week.

It seems that this time of year it's 'de rigeur' in the bloggersphere to take stock and do a bit of a review of the most popular posts of the year, so, not wanting to be left out, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.

So here we go .... In reverse order .... the 10 (well, actually it's 11) most popular posts on Life of Pottering for 2015 ....

In joint 10th place you liked my holiday cottage reviews of The Rest and The Haybarn, two of the holiday cottages that we stayed in this year, both in the lovely Peak District.
In close competition for 9th & 8th most popular posts were two posts from our holiday in The Cairngorms.  You liked reading about our visits to Royal Deeside, in particular, Balmoral and Ballater.
Then we had my post about our visit to Sudbury Hall, A National Trust property that we had been meaning to visit for years, but never seemed to have the time to stop whilst passing.

The 6th most popular post this year was my list of the 50 things I want to do before I'm 60, an update on this will be posted over the next few weeks, so you can see how I am getting on.

Then we have one of my first posts of 2015, A Crafty Hand Made Christmas, where I shared my new bracelet making efforts with you.

In 4th place is another travel post, back in Derbyshire, with our wander around Leek.

In 3rd place came the recipe for Morello Cherry jam, one of very few recipe posts that I've done this year.

In 2nd place was another National Trust visit, this time to Stonywell, a new property, which opened just this year, in Leciestershire.

The most popular post of the year came as a bit of a surprise, it was the post about my decoupage placemats upcycling project. I am pleased to report that these are still in service and doing a great job.

So, that's it then, from Life of Pottering for 2015. I can't wait to see what 2016 brings. I hope you all have a great New Year and hopefully I'll see you all in 2016.

Monday 14 December 2015

Thorpe, Derbyshire - Stepping Stones & Tissington

It was the last full day of our week's break staying at The Rest, a lovely warm, cosy and relaxing cottage in Thorpe, in the lovely Peak District.

After a slow start we decided that it would be wrong to have stayed here and not at least have visited the stepping stones, so that's exactly what we did.

It was raining and the river was pretty high, and had flooded it's bank in places, but we were dressed for it and soon ended up back in one of our favourite spots, where we messed about taking photos for a bit before heading back to the car.
We then decided that Tissington might be worth another try and we were pleased that we did, as the gorgeous gift and sweet shops were both open for business and we couldn't help but make just a few purchases.

Both shops are definitely worth a special trip. The gift shop was overflowing with beautiful things, all colour coordinated and looking amazing. The sweet shop was a real treat too and we couldn't resist fudge, flying saucers, jazzies and violet creams.

It was then Back to The Rest for our last afternoon of chilling, hot tub, peppered venison with Gorgonzola scones, which had been bubbling all day in the slow cooker, and a last evening of TV, before heading for home and the madness that comes with the preparations for Christmas.

Thorpe, Derbyshire - Out in the Rain

On Tuesday we were both shattered after our busy day out and about with mum and dad, so had a nice lie in before heading out to Tissington, a lovely little village, literally just up the road.

We were hoping for a mooch round a couple of nice gift shops, but were disappointed to find all were closed up.

We had been planning visiting the tea room for an early lunch but had a change of heart as a coach party had just arrived and were forming an orderly queue for service.

Instead, we headed to the Manifold Tea Rooms at Ilam Hall where, after a quick wander about in the rain, we had a very hearty steak and ale pie for lunch before heading back, still in the pouring rain, to The Rest. After all, we didn't want to be overdoing it.

We had a very lazy afternoon and I managed to finish off my crocheted cushion squares before finishing off the afternoon with not much else at all really.

Wednesday was my 51st birthday. I can't quite believe a year has passed already since I was celebrating my 50th in Norfolk last year.

We had another very lazy get up and banana and blueberry pancakes for breakfast before heading out to Bakewell for the afternoon.

We had a wander around, got very wet, found a fab fabric shop, before drying out over lunch the the old original Bakewell pudding shop, where we had an amazing lunch topped off by the biggest piece of cake I have ever been faced with. Gingerbread and caramel ... Just lush. Martin was pretty impressed with Bakewell pudding too.
Back to the rest for a doze before a quick dip in the hot tub to then settle down for this week's episode of The Apprentice. Days don't get much better.

We really seem to be easing into this relaxing lark!

Monday 7 December 2015

Thorpe, Derbyshire - Big Day Out

On the Monday of our week away, staying in The Rest in Thorpe, mum and dad were joining us for the day so we'd got a big day out planned, with not much relaxing on the cards.

They were with us in time for our favourite breakfast of Bacon and Parsley hot cakes, topped with poached eggs, for breakfast, before we headed out for the day.

We headed for Wirksworth, a small town we'd driven through before and wanted to revisit. We parked up and had a wander up and down the High Street, which was really interesting.
We also had a good old mooch in the charity and small gift shops and I actually managed to find some blue wool, which has worked as a treat for my button art elephant's tail.
We were really lucky with the weather and actually saw blue skies for the first time this week.
We also managed to pick up our first cache of the holiday.

Having spent a pleasant hour in Wirkswirth we headed off to Cromford Mills, where I was looking forward to mooching round the fabric ship and the antique shops.

I'm not quite sure how it happened but I actually didn't buy anything in the fabric shop, though I did find a brand new reel of Gutterman thread for 20p in one of the antique shops and a selection of ribbon in another, so i didn't come away totally empty handed.

We had a quick wander over by the canal before heading on our way for our next stop.
From Cromford Mill we headed into Matlock, where mum and I had a good wander round some of the sprawling antique shops, whilst dad and Martin hung around outside .... not really their thing!

Our next stop was at Massons Mill shopping village where we picked up these place mats, which I have managed to turn into some really nice Christmas decorations.
We then had one last stop of the day at Carsington Reservoir where, I'm afraid, all we did, was to have a drink and a very nice piece of cake in the restaurant and a quick wander around the few small shops.

We did pick up one more cache before we all decided that was quite enough activity for one day and headed back to The Rest for lasagne, before peace descended again, as mum and dad headed for home.

Monday 30 November 2015

Thorpe, Derbyshire - and ...... relax!

We were away for my 51st birthday week, staying in a lovely cottage in Thorpe, in the lovely Peak District.

The cottage was called The Rest and that really is what we were hoping for. Martin was definitely ready for a break, even though it isn't really that long since our Guernsey holiday, and even I, lady of so called leisure, was ready for some serious rest and relaxation, before the madness of the next couple of months kicks in proper.

The weather forecast was not good which, in a way, was a good thing, as it did confine us to barracks for a few lazy afternoons where we could really wind down. When the weather is good we don't tend to relax much as we just have to get out and about.

From the moment we arrived we could see that The Rest would be a great place to hunker down on those wet and windy afternoons, generally chilling and catching up with a few bits that we'd brought away with us to look at.

Our first full day, Saturday, was wet and windy and we didn't venture far. We just popped into Ashbourne to have a look at the 'artisan' market. I have a real need at the moment to see what other hand made stuff is out there. The more I look the happier I am with the quality of stuff I am turning out from Hand Made at Number 27. It's also good to look at prices too, I can't believe how much you can pay for a small purse ... £10.50!! No padding, no zipper covers, no frills, just a couple of pieces of fabric stitched together with a lining and a zip.

We were only out for about an hour and spent the afternoon just chilling. I got a load of squares crocheted for a cushion I am making as a Christmas gift whilst Martin was glued to his ipad. We did break off to sample the hot tub in the pouring rain which was a real treat.

We ended our first day with a slow cooker curry and a nice cosy, lazy evening watching Strictly and X-factor.

So far so good ... we were definitely ticking off the need to relax box.

On Sunday we decided we would make a bit of an effort and make a trip over to the Chatsworth estate garden centre and farm shop. The garden centre is normally a good start for Christmas shopping and the farm shop is also a bit of a treat.

The farm shop was absolutely packed and full of gorgeous looking food of every variety, with a full rainbow of colours of fruit and vegetables.  I couldn't resist a few sneaky snaps.
We weren't out long and I spent the afternoon adding buttons and bows to a stack of Christmas themed stuffed hearts I'd already made. These are stock for a craft Fayre, I am attending later this month, and will look great hung on the white twiggy tree Martin has bought me for my birthday.
A lazy afternoon was followed by another dip in the hot tub, no rain this time, an old favourite, chicken tortilla bake, for tea and slobbing in front of the TV for the rest of the evening.

We are really starting to get to grips with this relaxing business!

Monday 23 November 2015

The Rest - Thorpe, Derbyshire

When did we visit?
13-20 November 2015

How much was it?

Who did we book with?

What were our initial impressions?
This cottage is in a lovely spot, on the road that takes you from the A515, just outside of Ashbourne, to Dovedale. Thorpe Cloud can be seen from the cottage and there are great views from the small car park across the road from the cottage.
When we first arrived our first thought was, hey it's a bit tricky getting on the drive, which was best achieved with a nifty bit of reversing, but the road was very quiet this time of year and didn't give us much of a problem.

The cottage is a bungalow and the front door is in the middle. We tentatively entered, wondering what we would find. Our first thoughts were oooh, lovely and warm and cosy. We decided we'd head left to explore first.

We went through the hall and into the lounge and thought straight away, we would be dead comfy and cosy in here. Through the lounge into the kitchen to find a dining area with a pretty round table set for two.

The kitchen was really spacious, with plenty of storage and equipment and there was some milk in the fridge and some lovely local cookies to welcome us.

We went out of the kitchen door and were surprised to find ourselves in a small, but charming conservatory, with an outside door to the front garden and another door leading in to the back of the cottage.

Through there was a well equipped utility area and separate loo. We went through another door which lead us into the third bedroom, which was just lovely and had doors opening into the courtyard area with the hot tub, which we would definitely be making use of whilst we were here.

Back through to where we started to discover two nice double bedrooms and a spotlessly clean bathroom.

First impressions definitely hit the spot

Our likes over the course of our stay ...
  • The kitchen was well equipped, we found everything that we needed. 
  • The shower was seriously powerful and nice and hot.  
  • Separate towels were provided for use with the hot tub, which we loved. We went in almost every day. It was really private and we loved chilling out there in the dusk in the wind and the rain.
  • The lounge was dead comfy, though Martin found the sofa just a bit too slouchy for his liking.
  • The cottage is in a brilliant location with loads of lovely walks from the the front door. In very easy driving distance of most places that we wanted to visit, Ashbourne, Tissington, Bakewell, Chatsworth and Matlock.
  • It was just what we needed as we'd come away for a bit of rest and relaxation before the madness of December descends.
  • The heating temperature easy to regulate throughout the cottage.
  • It was very quiet, light and bright, but cozy at the same time, it's definitely somewhere to retreat to if you've been out walking or biking for the day.
  • There was plenty of space. 
  • The Rest is a cottage that's nice to just spend time in, rather than it just provide a bed for the night. It was easy to imagine living here.
Anything that could have made it better ...
As the week went by we really struggled to find anything we didn't like about this cottage. 

There were just a few small things that would make it even nicer ...
  • Big fluffy bath sheets would have been lovely.  We were glad that we had taken our own as the towels provided were quite small - you couldn't wrap yourselves up in them and wander about.
  • The hot tub area could be made a bit more attractive, but this may look prettier in a different season.
  • The sofas are very slouchy and if, like us, you struggle with knee and joint pain, they could be quite difficult to get out of!
Would we recommend this cottage to our friends and family?
Most definitely, with no hesitation.

Would we stay in this cottage again?
Absolutely.  I can see it would be a great spot at any time of year.  In the Spring and Summer, it would be lovely to get out and about more, though I guess the area will be quite busy.  In the Autumn and Winter it is just lovely to hunker down and enjoy the quietness of the Peaks.

Monday 16 November 2015

International Earth Cache Day

International EarthCache Day 2015The 2nd Sunday in October is an important date on the Geocaching calendar.

It's what's known as International Earth Cache Day,

It's a day when a virtual souvenir badge is available to all cachers completing an Earth Cache.

Last year we headed out with mum and dad and completed an Earth cache on Cannock Chase.

This year we had to go a little bit further afield, to find an Earth cache that we hadn't completed, and we were off to Barr Beacon, a local beauty spot and war memorial, with amazing views over Birmingham.

I have to confess that I did used to come here when a lot younger and not for Geocaching!!

It was a really lovely bright day but the wind nearly took us off our feet when we got out of the car.

We were greeted by an amazing and huge kite flying above us.  It seemed to be either a giant squid or octopus, not sure which.

We had a really good walk, taking in the war memorial and finding the information that we needed to be able to complete the Earth cache, before completing a few other caches that were also in the park.
Out of the wind, it was actually quite warm.

We felt quite virtuous, having completed our bracing walk, but soon headed for home to claim our souvenir.

Monday 9 November 2015

Guernsey - Coming Home

Well ... this is it ... my last Guernsey holiday post!

Whilst we were on Guernsey we did manage to pull in a good few museum visits, as well as our coastal tour.

We were really keen to visit a number of the WW2 museums and managed to fit in trips to the Signals Museum, the Underground Museum and the Occupation Museum.

All were really well worth the visit.  The Occupation Museum especially, had lots of personal stories and mementos of what happened to individual people in the war and it was absolutely fascinating.

Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head for home.
We managed to pull in a quick breakfast by the bathing pools, with the tide in, before a, thankfully, uneventful boarding of The Liberation to begin our onward journey back to Poole and then home.

Although it was a nice easy boarding, it was just a little rough o the way back and I was as sick as a dog.  I think it will be a long time before I travel with Condor again.

In spite of our travel shenanigans we loved our holiday on Guernsey and would most definitely recommend a visit if you get the chance.

Monday 2 November 2015

Guernsey - The Little Chapel

Whilst we did spend the majority of our time on Guernsey exploring the coast, we did manage to fit in a few more bits of sightseeing throughout the course of our time on the island.

When we were greeted at Rose Cottage by our lovely host, he told us that visiting Guernsey and not seeing The Little Chapel, is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.

It was definitely added, as a priority, to our list of places to visit whilst we were here.

We weren't disappointed.  It's only a tiny little place, but it is breathtaking.

The day we visited it was a beautiful bright sunny day and it was really hard to get our photographs to do justice to the mosaics, as the glare from the sun was causing us a few problems.

We persevered and ended up being there ages, whilst trying to get some decent pictures.  I hope you like what we've ended up with.

We did manage to also visit a few other places whilst on Guernsey and we would definitely recommend the Underground Museum, the Occupation Museum and the German Naval Signals HQ.

All really tell the story of Guernsey during the occupation and tell lots of poignant stories about people's lives on the island during this time.  Most definitely food for thought.

I have just one more post to publish about our holiday on Guernsey, just in time for us to be heading off on our travels again.  This time we won't be going far, but hopefully it will be just as lovely.

Monday 26 October 2015

Guernsey - The Last of our Coastal Tour

It was the penultimate full day of our holiday and we really wanted to finish off our tour around the coast of the North East tip of the island which we hadn't yet seen, before heading out back to the west coast to take in a sunset and to grab some fish and chips.

We started out at Fort Pembroke and the most beautiful beach we've ever seen.  We wandered past our first Martello tower of the day and up to the fort, where it was quite breezy, to say the least, but just beautiful all the same.
This was followed by lunch with one hell of a view.  L'Ancresse Bay just stretches as far as you can see in both directions.  
After lunch we walked up to the nearest Martello tower and the views looking back over the bay were amazing.  The whole bay is is just surrounded on the coast side with a ring of Martello towers.  You can see them for as far as the eye can see.
It was then further around the North East tip to Fort Doyle, ending up at Beaucette Marina, to end off our pretty much full island coastal tour.
It was back to Rose Cottage for a quick pitstop, before heading back out to Fort Grey for our sunset. And what a sunset it was, we took loads of photos and I've tried to just pick out the best to share with you. We were very surprised to see two groups of people taking an evening dip .... it was pretty chilly.
We followed off the sunset with fish and chips from the chippy, ate sat in the car, watching the sea ... lovely.