Monday 27 July 2015

Beautiful Bridgnorth

Following our afternoon in Ironbridge Gorge we made our way to Bridgnorth, where we were spending the weekend having our annual catch up with old work friends.

We were staying for two nights at the Parlors Hall Hotel, which was ideally placed and just over the river from the bottom station of the funicular railway.
We settled in to our room, which had more frills than I've seen in a very long time, and had a quick shower, before meeting up with our friends in the garden, which was a very pleasant treat.
Friday night found us in Blue Ginger, an Indian restaurant, pretty much next door to the hotel. Both the service and the food were excellent and we'd definitely recommend it if you are looking for somewhere to eat.

On Saturday the plan was to have a wander around Bridgnorth, visiting a few pubs along the way. After a decent breakfast in the hotel we all met up on the bridge over the Severn and admired the views in every direction before heading up to High Town on the funicular.

Bridgnorth have really gone to town on their floral displays and there seemed to be beautifully coloured hanging baskets everywhere we looked.
The views from the top across the river are spectacular.

We had a walk round the walls at the top, before heading through the Castle Gardens, which were in full bloom, to go back into town.
There was some pretty impressive topiary in homage to WW1, though the tank still needs to develop a bit.

A real surprise was the well tended veg plot along the walls of the garden, looked after by the WI, really well planted with all manner of vegetables and herbs and some really impressive sunflowers.
We wandered past the Old Castle pub, with another excellent floral display, and decided to take a refreshment break in the pub garden before having a walk up the High Street.
There was a market on and town was absolutely packed.  There was a real holiday feel in the air and lots of quaint little shops, perfect for a relaxing mooch about.
It was then time for a another quick refreshment break in The Black Boy before Martin and I decided we would head back up the hill to come back down on the funicular.  We do love a funicular.
Back at the bottom and it was a short walk back over the bridge for a quick pitstop back at Parlors Hall.
It was then time to head off to meet up again at our friends' caravan for the annual BBQ, whatever the weather.  This year we were blessed with warm sunshine and we couldn't have asked for a better spot down by the river.
All too soon it was time to head back to Parlors Hall for one last time, but not before agreeing next year we would meet up in Harrogate.  We're looking forward to it already.

Monday 20 July 2015

Ironbridge Gorge

It was the time of year for our annual catch up with old work friends and this year we were meeting up in Bridgnorth.

As we weren't meeting up until Friday evening, Martin and I decided to have a stop off at the lovely Ironbridge Gorge on our way.

It's somewhere that I've not visited for a very long time and that Martin has never been.  I knew he would love it, so it seemed like a sound plan for a chilled out wander about with maybe a spot of lunch thrown in for good measure.

We parked up across the river and wandered slowly over the bridge to the village.  There are great views of both the village and the river from the bridge and we took plenty of photos on the way.
It's a beautiful setting and the bridge and the river both looked lovely in the warm summer sunshine. It was also really nice and quiet, which made for a very relaxing wander about.

Once on the other side of the bridge there are plenty of great viewing points to get a really good look at the whole of the bridge it all its glory.

Other than the bridge there is a really lovely little high street with quaint shops full of lovely bits and pieces, really good for a mooch around.
There are also some really pretty quaint little streets and the whole of the village is overlooked by the church.
It was soon time for a refreshment break and we headed into The Tea Emporium, where we had a very nice lunch, 
It was only really when we left that we realised why it was called The Tea Emporium.
After lunch we had another quick wander around, before making our way back over the bridge and onto our final destination.  We'd had a lovely afternoon and would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area.

Monday 13 July 2015

My First Crochet Ta-Dah!

The Checkerboard Textures Throw

You will have seen from previous posts that I have got a little bit obsessed with crochet.

My first project started out, back in March, as the checkerboard crochet throw, for which you can find the full pattern here for free.

The picture on the left shows what it should look like ...... and the one on the right is what mine looks like ...... 
Not bad for a first go methinks. I am actually quite proud as it's my first attempt at crocheting in absolutely donkeys years. 

I have adapted the original pattern somewhat. Rather than a five by five squared throw I have gone for seven by four.  This will make it usable as a throw for a single bed, as well as a cuddly for snuggling up in when on the sofa on those cold winter nights.

The original pattern includes 10 different patterned squares and 10 simple granny squares put together to give the checkerboard effect. I decided to have my 'checkerboard' of the patterned squares down the middle, with a granny square border.  

I decided to go with two of each of five different patterned squares instead of the 10 different ones. This was purely because they were my favourites and they turned out well. I then needed 18 granny squares for my border.

I finished off my throw with a final border finishing with a simple scalloped edge.

So that's how it's turned out.  I wanted to share with you how I did it. By no means intended as a tutorial but there may be some useful tips from a crocheting novice. 

I used seven 100g balls of pale grey Olympus double knitting wool (Shade 936),  It was £1.80 a ball at my local post office, so cost me £12.60 overall for wool, which I didn't think was too bad. 

I started out by making the following squares, using a combination of a 3.5 and 4.0 crochet hooks. 
  • 18 Granny squares (4.0) 
  • 2 Popcorn squares (3.5) 
  • 2 Cross stitch squares (4.0)
  • 2 Front Post Treble Crochet squares (3.5)
  • 2 Front Post Double Crochet squares (4.0)
  • 2 Shell Stitch squares (4.0)
The full instructions for making all of the squares can be found on the pattern link here.  If you are struggling with the instructions there are also links to 'Crochet Alongs', where you can see the pattern actually being demonstrated.  I found these really useful for some of the patterns I was really unfamiliar with.

Once I had completed all of my squares and had darned in all of my ends, I 'blocked' the squares and was amazed at the result. It was a bit of an effort, but well worth it. Blocking your squares just straightens out all of the edges and makes sure that they are all exactly the same size. You can find really a really useful tutorial for blocking crochet squares here.

I just folded up a few towels and put them on my ironing board and measured and pinned the squares in batches. I steamed them and then left them for 24 hours before unpinning. The squares should measure 7" x 7" when blocked. 
To make sure that I was happy with my overall pattern, I laid all of the squares out on the bed and just moved them around until I was happy with the final layout.

Rather than whip stitching my squares together I crocheted them on the reverse, using a slip stitch and was really pleased with how it turned out. They look really neat, with a nice flat seam on the front and a nice neat ridge on the back. On my next project I will be confident enough to join on the front. 
I joined my squares in strips first and then joined the strips together.
Having joined all of the squares together I then added my own border. I did a round of single crochet, followed by a round of double crochet and then another round of single crochet before finishing with a simple scalloped edge
Overall I am really pleased with how it's turned out. I'm not really sure as to how long it has taken me to make overall as I haven't really kept track of how long I've spent on it. 

I've made it as a wedding gift, hopefully for someone who does not read my blog, so it will come as a surprise.  
As its my first completed crochet project there will be part of me that will be sad to part with it. I only hope the recipients love it as much as I do.

This is not the end of my crocheting exploits - I already have two cushions to share with you and a bag full of wool for more new and exciting projects so watch this space!

Monday 6 July 2015

In the Garden - June

June - In flower .....
After the abundance of colour and flowering of the Spring, June is definitely a bit of a transition period in the Garden at Number 27.

There is lots of green.  The green of the Spring perennials that have now finished until next year and the green of the plants that don't flower until later in the Summer.

Saying that, we have had a lovely show of Peonies, Freesias, Roses, Foxgloves and Geraniums.

The Hemerocallis is just starting to put it an appearance and the hanging baskets and pots of Summer bedding are starting to look really good. It won't be long before we see blooms on the Sweet Peas and the Lilies.

June - What we've been up to .....
Well, I am a bit ashamed to say that we haven't really got up to that much in the garden this month and it's not for want of something to do.  Top priority for July has to be the borders at the bottom of the garden, they look fine from a distance, but not so good close up.  There is lots of cutting down and weeding definitely on the cards.

As well as the loudest and closest thunderstorm either Martin or I have ever experienced, we have been blessed with some really Summery days in June and we have been inundated with strawberries, resulting in lots of strawberries and ice cream and a good batch of quick and easy strawberry jam,

We have even managed a few impromptu BBQs.

I know, what is going on?

June - And finally .....
I did make a marathon effort one bright sunny day and did a job that had needed doing for ages and ages.  I collected up all of the plastic plant pots that were kicking around the garden and the shed and sat in the sun and washed the lot.

They are now all dried and nicely tucked away in a big plastic box.  I don't know what came over me.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Lullington Open Gardens

It was the weekend and, for a change, the weather was glorious. 

It was the time of year that the villagers of Lullington, a village not too far away, open their gardens to the public. 

The rest of the family were going so I managed to get Martin to agree to tag along. It's not really his thing and his knees are giving him some real gip at the moment so he's not really that keen on walking very far. 

We all met up at the cricket club car park and started out with a wander round the church to look at tables full of random farm and kitchen paraphernalia and a bit of a WW2 exhibition. 

We then started out on our walk round the village, to have a sneaky peek behind the back gates of those who were brave enough, and had worked hard enough, to put their gardens on show. 

There were 12 gardens open for viewing in total, along with a vintage car display, a few plant stalls and plenty of opportunity for refreshments along the way. 

The gardens were a real mixture of everyday ordinary to really lovely but all had something to just pique your interest, be it a good view, an interesting plant or a lovely shady spot to rest our

Garden number 5 was a real treat. Though it is a fairly small garden it was jam packed full of interesting things to look at with some really lovely planting. 
On the forecourt of the garage next door, there was a real good display of vintage cars to keep the boys entertained. 
It was then round a couple more gardens, before heading through the field, with lots more vintage cars on display and some very nice hot dogs and burgers, which went down a treat in the warm sunshine. 
On to Garden number 8 and the front was beautifully planted with a lovely display of delphiniums and lupins framing a lovely view of the village church across the field. The back was really pretty too. 
It was then into garden number 10 and the high point here had to be the views across open countryside beyond. 
This is the second time that we have visited the open gardens in Lullington. The last time was two
years ago. We all remembered visiting Garden number 11, as the family had literally only just moved in and the garden, whilst lovely, needed a lot of work. It was lovely to visit again and see how it is progressing. Lots has been done in the top half of the garden and it is looking really pretty. There is still work to be done in the bottom half, which the family are planning on using as an allotment. 
The next garden had some really lovely views of the church and a bit of an antiquity ...... a manual lawn mower.  The climbing hydrangea was a real beauty.
Another garden and another really pretty view of the church. This one also had a very nice wrought iron garden swing ..... now I could quite fancy one of those.
Garden number 14 was also lovely. It was huge and was entered via an arched walkway. We saw the most beautiful peony and the vegetable beds were a sight to behold. All far further on than
ours are at home. 
From here it was quick wander round the green before heading to the village hall for a well needed drink and a sneaky piece of cake ...... The ladies did say they were all calorie free so I didn't feel too guilty.  

Finally we were on to the last garden of our visit and the highlight of this one, again, had to be the lovely view of the church, framed by a really pretty clematis. 
We were then back where we began, at the church, and it was back to car and the treat of the air conditioning as we headed back to our own little piece of garden at number 27. 
Whilst Martin isn't keen on looking round other peoples gardens I just love it. It's a real chance to have a good wander round a pretty little village and to get inspiration for our own garden and, sometimes, to think that ..... You know what ...... We ain't doing too bad at all.

And finally ....... not that I'm in the least bit religious, but I did like this plaque that we spotted on our wanderings.