Monday 23 December 2019

A Festive Joy in the Everyday Ordinary - December, 11-21

Hi there everyone 😁

In just a few days it will be Christmas Day and we will be spending the day with family ... eating far too much, and promising that we will eat more healthily after the festivities have passed ... and who knows ... maybe we will.

It's been tricky knowing quite what to post today ... I've still got lots of our Isle of Wight holiday to share with you and there's still a week of exploring in the Peak District. I kind of felt I wanted something a bit festive and was planning on sharing our visit to the Chatsworth at Christmas event, but the photos are still all on my phone and I couldn't face sorting through and transferring them ... sorry 😧

I'm writing this post in a small gap in between running errands and social engagements and needed something a bit quick so apologies that I've gone for the easy option. I'm not even sure there will be anything festive about the moments that I share but do be sure that I do wish you all the most peaceful of the festive seasons and thank you so much for showing an interest and letting me continue to share our 'ordinary' adventures with you ...
Day 11 - The picture is nothing at all to do with what made me smile today, but it is festive πŸŽ„ I did my second volunteering shift at our local foodback today and boy was it busy. I came home absolutely shattered but feeling very grateful for all that we have and how 'easy' we have it ... it's not the same for everyone.
Day 12 - Today I went to make my mark. It's not something that I always do but I do very much appreciate the fact that others went a long way to make sure that I have the right to do so.
Day 13 - And finally ... the wreath is up!
Day 14 - We had a wander round a local Victorian Christmas market in the Castle grounds. It was late afternoon and the sun on the castle was just beautiful.
Day 15 - Not very festive and not that exciting but to me ... a defrosted freezer has been so long overdue πŸ˜
Day 16 - A friend popped round to collect some bits and came bearing gifts. I've seen lots of comments about Jayne's bread pudding on Facebook and now I can confirm that they are all true ... it was delicious πŸ’œ
Day 17 - Martin's duck curry πŸ˜‹
Day 18 - After consultation with the Neff engineer the problem of our very odd shaped Yorkshire puddings is resolved πŸ˜
Forget the fan setting, it's top and bottom heat all the way from now. 
Day 19 - Home made turkey breakfast patties with mushrooms and poached eggs for breakfast πŸ˜‹
Day 20 - Our first go at slow cooked red cabbage - definitely a success!
Day 21 - Fabulous night out celebrating Christmas with fabulous food and the very best of friends πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Monday 16 December 2019

Willow Cottage - Ashford-in-the-Water, The Peak District

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

I know I still have lots to share with you about our break on the Isle of Wight back in September, but thought I'd have a bit of a change today and tell you about the cottage that we stayed in recently when we spent a week a bit closer to home, in the very lovely Peak District in Derbyshire.

When did we visit?
16-23 November 2019

How many does it sleep?
6 - in two nice size double rooms and one twin

How much was it?

Who did we book with?
Sykes Holiday Cottages

We always look forward to our November break ... we never go too far and it’s always a good opportunity to take a bit of time out before the Christmas season gets under way in earnest.

For the last few years we’ve tried to do something ‘Christmassy’ ... last year it was the Longleat festival of light, the year before it was Castle Howard for Christmas. This year we had Chatsworth and their Christmas Markets on the cards.

We were staying in Willow Cottage in Ashford in the Water and had been watching the flood warnings closely the week before we went. The cottage is right on the River Wye and we watched the warnings move from red to amber, back to red and then amber again.

Having spoken to the owner we were reassured that flooding was very unlikely as the property had never flooded before and though the cottage was very close to the river there were plenty of other places for the water to go.

Our journey up was fairly uneventful, with the heavy flooding of the previous week having all but receded, and we made a couple of stop offs on the way ... Chatsworth garden centre for lunch and a quick mooch round the Peak Shopping Village at Rowsley.

We arrived bang on time at 3pm and yes, the cottage was very close to the river, which was pretty high and flowing very rapidly ... as was the parking spot for the car ... but the weather forecast didn’t look too bad.

I have to say that it’s the first time we have stayed in a cottage where we were greeted by sandbags at the front and back doors ... which certainly gave us food for thought.

The cottage is in a lovely spot though, in the heart of the village but tucked away at the end of a lane with nowhere to go past it to ... other than the river. So we expected it would be a nice quiet spot, which was just what we wanted. It was well within walking distance of the village pubs, cafe and shop and we were both looking forward to spending some time reacquainting ourselves with the village.

There was nothing to be disappointed about inside the cottage. There was plenty of room, but it had a real cosy feel to it and it looked spotlessly clean.

Whilst I do have a few photos of the inside of the cottage to share with you I must apologise for the poor quality ... I'm blaming it on the time of year and the light levels. Hopefully they are good enough for you to get an idea of what it was like.

The front door opened into a nice big country style kitchen, with plenty of storage, a dining table and chairs and a downstairs loo off it ...
The cosy lounge was through the kitchen at the back of the property ...
From the lounge window you could really see just how close, and how high, the river was ...
The stairs lead off the lounge to three bedrooms, two doubles and a twin. The twin was a little tight but the two doubles were nice and roomy, again with plenty of storage ...
... and another great view of the river from the double at the back ...

The bathroom, again was very roomy, with a bath and separate shower cubicle ...
Before unpacking we did have a quick wander down to the deck in the garden, next to the river. This is the view looking towards the Sheepwash Bridge. Hard to imagine that some visitors earlier in the year had written in the visitors' book about swimming in the river ...
This is the view of the back of the house from the bottom of the garden ... looking a little bleak at the moment, but the pictures on the Sykes' website taken with plenty of summer blooms looked just lovely ...
We were soon unpacked, showered and settled down in front of the TV for a cosy Saturday night in with a bit of Strictly.

Our likes over the course of our stay ...
  • The location of the cottage was perfect for us, both in the fact that it was in the heart of the village and the situation of the village within The Peak District. It was very easy to get out about and there were lots of interesting places to visit without going very far.
  • The space ... for just the two of us the cottage was very spacious. There was plenty of room and plenty of storage space, which is always useful as it's good to be able to stow all your bits and pieces away.
  • It was lovely and clean ... no nasty or grubby spots at all.
  • The kitchen had plenty of everything that we needed and was well set out and good for cooking in.
  • Lovely cosy and comfy beds.
  • Nice reliable Wifi.
  • The heating was very easy to control ... and nice and quick to warm up.
Anything that could have made it better ...
  • It would have been good to have been able to come in and out of the cottage via the back door, where there was a bit of a porch, so muddy walking boots could have been taken off before getting fully in, but both garden gates were padlocked so this wasn't possible during our stay.
  • A log burner would have been a real treat.
Would we recommend this property to our friends and family?
Most certainly

Would we stay in this cottage again?
I think there is every likelihood that we would stay here again. It was a lovely cottage in the perfect spot for exploring that higher part of The Peak District ... somewhere that we are never likely to tire of πŸ˜€


Thursday 12 December 2019

Joy in the Everyday Ordinary - December, 1-10

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

Well, here we are ... December, and another year nearly gone. It is so true that the older you get the faster the time goes.

I remember finishing work in January 2014, knowing that I had five years to manage before my pension kicked in and thinking that it seemed like forever ... and now, in the blinking of an eye, that time is here ... it's just a little bit scary really and definitely cause for making the most of every single day.

December is shaping up to be a month full of social activities, spending plenty of time with friends and family and starting to get into my new volunteering venture, which is shaping up to be a very rewarding and humbling experience.

Martin finishes work this week and has a full four weeks off, with not very much on the calendar at all ... other than the usual activities that come with the festive time of year ... and we are both looking forward to having a bit of a chilled out Christmas, but for now ... here is the start of our December ...
Day 1 - The weather was fine and we got out back to do the first bit of gardening that we'd done in an age, but was long overdue. We had a seriously good leaf clearing session and it was so good knowing it was all done in time for the last green bin collection of the season ... and the garden looked a hundred times tidier πŸ˜€
Day 2 - A Christmas afternoon tea catch up with two lovely ladies that I haven't seen for far too long
Day 3 - Martin's advent calendar is well and truly up and running and he is really enjoying trying the different teas, he especially enjoyed this one!
Day 4 - I did my first volunteer shift at the local food bank today and I really enjoyed it. I have to say though, I had forgotten what doing a proper day's work was like (and this was only an afternoon). My knees were killing me when I'd finished and I had the first bath I'd had in about 10 years! And, boy, did I enjoy it. I had a lovely soak and really reflected on just how lucky we are to have it so easy ... there are so many others that are not so lucky.
Day 5 - After a flurry of orders for reusable face wipes I had a day cutting out and ended up with some simply gorgeous fabrics on the cutting mat.
Day 6 - Nearly a week on and the flowers that Jackie & Phil bought me at the weekend are still looking lovely 
Day 7 - Today was the loveliest of days. I spent the morning at our local craft group, with Jackie and Rachel, where we all had a go at making our own Christmas wreaths. We were joined by Martin, Phil and Tom for a leisurely lunch at the pub just down the road ... there may even have been a little snooze back home on the sofa before Strictly and I'm a Celebrity πŸ˜
Day 8 - After a lovely but very busy Saturday we had a far more chilled out Sunday. We did manage to scatter a few Christmas decorations about though and it was lovely cosying up for the evening with the Christmas mantel.
Day 9 - It was a very productive day at the sewing machine for me today, with all last minute orders now completed in plenty of time for Christmas πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„
Day 10 - I spent a lovely afternoon with my good friend Jo, chatting a stormy afternoon away, trying out a new cost afternoon tea spot ☕🍰☕


Monday 9 December 2019

Isle of Wight Holiday Diary #6 - Ryde ... where we walked!

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

Welcome to the next instalment of my Isle of Wight Holiday Diary, where we are on to the second of our three weeks away ...

Day 8 - Saturday
We couldn't quite believe that we still had sunshine ... that was a full week of uninterrupted blue skies and warm temperatures. It was due to turn though and we were definitely making the most of it. Today we headed back to Ryde, one of our favourite places on the island.

We started off with our usual walk out on the pier ...
... where we headed straight for our favourite spot in the only Costa we ever frequent ... it was just a tad breezy out there, but we were determined to stick it out ...
I don't think I will ever tire of this view from the pier ...
We started our usual amble along the front, past the harbour ...
... and alongside the beach, which really does seem to go on for ever ...
We walked a bit further than normal this time and actually made it all the way to Appley Tower, where I left Martin on a bench whilst I photographed it from every angle possible ...
Whilst neither of could face walking any further I was sure I could see some brightly coloured umbrellas on the headland in the distance and an idea started to form πŸ˜€

We headed back the way we'd come, passing the arc of brightly coloured beach huts ...

... and made our way back to the car, where the good old OS map was consulted.

I noticed that Puckpool Park was not that very far away and, as it was somewhere I'd thought might be worth a look, we decided to head in that direction.

We parked up and had a bit of a wander and were quite surprised with what we found. In a lot of ways it was a bit like your normal everyday municipal park, but there was a bit of a difference ...

It's right on the coast and I wandered if, just maybe, it might be possible to wander through and find the umbrellas that I'd spotted from Appley Tower. Well the answer was a big, fat resounding yes and this was the view we had for a late lunch ...
Seriously, it does not get much better than this. Warm sunshine, clear blue skies, the most fabulous food and a view to die for. Safe to say, lunch went down very well ... we could have sat there all afternoon.

Rather than retrace our steps through the park we decided to walk along the coast back to the car, which was a real treat, with more pretty beach huts ...
... and more fabulous views along the coast ...
With aching legs it was time to head back to Bramble Cottage, with everything crossed that the weather forecasters had got it wrong and heavy rain was not on the way πŸ˜€


Friday 6 December 2019

Isle of Wight Holiday Diary #5 - Culver Down & The Bembridge Windmill

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

It's December, the temperature has dropped and we are just back from a November break in The Peak District. It seems a little odd writing about the blue skies and sunshine we had back in September when we spent three weeks on the Isle of Wight, but I'm trying to keep some semblance of order to my posts ... so apologies if it feels a little strange ...

Having spent four very full days exploring West Wight and not having yet been near The Needles, Mottistone or Yarmouth ... we were saving those for when mum and dad joined us ... we decided it was time to head East ...

Day 7  Friday
We were heading for Bembridge but on the lookout for other more 'off the beaten track' places that might be worth a stop off.

It was another glorious day, we had been so lucky with the weather so far, and we branched off up to Culver Down, with no real idea what to expect.

We parked up right at the end of the headland and had a bit of a wander. The views were amazing ... we could see for miles. Looking North we could see the mainland and The Spinnaker Tower over in Portsmouth ...

... and to the South we could see the beach and the pier at Sandown ...

The area, including Bembridge Fort is owned by the National Trust, which sadly is not open to the public, though some pre-booked guided tours are available at certain times of year.

There is still plenty to see though, even without visiting the fort. We had a wander round the headland and had a good look at the old battery ...
We also had a good look at the very impressive Yarborough Monument, the tallest on the island.
It was originally built on the slightly higher summit of Bembridge Down, but was painstakingly moved, stone by stone, in the 1860s. It was to make way for Bembridge Fort, which was built as part of the island’s defences against invasion.
The Earl of Yarborough, 1781-1846, was born Charles Anderson Pelham in Lincolnshire. Thanks to the twin circumstances of birth and marriage, he rose to wealth and power. He received a baronetcy on the death of his father and, in 1806, married Henrietta Simpson. She inherited the estate of her uncle, Sir Richard Worsley, the largest landowner on the Isle of Wight.

It really is pretty impressive ...
The Culver Arms looked pretty welcoming but we didn't visit ... we had other plans for lunch today ... our first non-picnic lunch ...

There was one more thing that we pulled in to have a look at whilst up on the down and that was the compass point ... where we found another fabulous view ...
It was time for lunch and Martin had spotted a beach cafe on the OS map which looked like a possibility. We ended up wandering a bit further along the beach though ...

... and found The Crab and Lobster ...
The menu was amazing, though a bit pricey ...
Martin opted for a crab salad and I had a prawn sandwich and we both thoroughly enjoyed it ...
Refreshed and raring to go we headed that little bit closer to Bembridge, but couldn't resist stopping off at the windmill, which is a small National Trust property that we hadn't visited before.

Parking is basically in a layby on the side of the road and the windmill is accessed via a short track. The weather certainly showed it off at its best ...
The windmill is in full working order and, whilst it was not operational on our visit, we did go inside and climb the old wooden stairs up to the top level ...
We weren't there long, but it was definitely worth a look and I couldn't resist stopping for a play with the shiniest conkers on the way back to the car ...
I really do hope that I never get too old to be able to resist picking up these bright, shiny beauties ... I really can't help picking them up when I see them and pretty much every coat I own has at least one conker in the pocket 😁

By now time was getting on and we decided to save Bembridge village and the lifeboat station for another day.

We'd had another lovely day, not actually doing very much at all, but loving it all the same ... taking it slow is definitely just the ticket πŸ˜€