Mothering

A walk without coats, hats and scarves! What a luxury! I swear even the dogs were excited. With the rapeseed fields in partial bloom it felt very much like a summer’s day yesterday. As usual the dogs were our first priority and we tried a new public footpath/farm track not far from home. I think they like new smells to track and it didn’t take Riley long to find evidence of foxes. Luckily a loud bellow from M put him off too much rolling in it.

We spent a lovely hour or so sitting on a sunny bench in the cathedral/castle square of Lincoln, with coffee, just watching the world go by. I tend to be able to identify the different nationalities of people by sight and M verifies it by ear. We make a good team. There was a huge variety of tourists yesterday all snapping away with their phones. There were many dogs being dragged round the cobbles too. Ours would not have liked that at all. Harvey hates being on a lead and Riley isn’t keen on crowds.

I finished the crochet project bag. The pocket wasn’t too tricky. I attached it along the bottom edge first of all to get it nice and straight and then just pinned the sides and sewed those. I decided against pockets all the way round like the bag I was replicating, I just don’t need that much pocket space. I did divide the pocket into thirds though, a third for hooks and the rest for my notebook and scissors. Like the original it holds up to four 100g balls of yarn at a squash, three more comfortably (two with a large bar of green & blacks 😉); this will meet most of my needs for a project bag.

I could have done the eyelet row a hundred different ways but kept it simple with a row of trebles, threading the leather cord through every other group of three. Thanks to my big sort out I’ve identified at least three or four more random leftover balls of slightly coarse yarn that would make another two or three of these bags. They are fairly quick to make and could be used for something other than crochet projects.

It’s a quiet Mother’s Day here this year. M and J are at an away match somewhere near Skegness today. J has scored a goal with his head apparently. I should really be watching but I tend to fob J off with the excuse that I come to all of his cricket matches and I really can’t stand the Dads shouting at football matches. E is working at the children’s farm and dealing with the usual lack of common sense and good manners. It is extra busy today because the weather is ideal and probably because all Mother’s get a free plant!

E’s card is spot on (she does drive me bonkers but I love her too). She goes off to uni in September and I’ve gone through all the emotions and ended up with the shock; ‘oh hell, my child is leaving home!’ J’s card is another very funny handmade variety where my head gets superimposed on a different body. This year, somehow, he managed to find a muscly body sprinkling fairy dust, so I’m looking down on a bed of flowers sprinkling fairy dust with big muscles. Just don’t tell the men in white coats or they’ll take him away!

Challenge

In the interests of trying new things… today a photo challenge and a new app. I’m always late to the party with these linking things but Hawthorn ( hhttp://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/ ) has drawn me in with the promise ‘if I can do it so can you!’ So, the above photo collage was done with ‘Pic Collage’, an app I’ve had on my iPad for a while but haven’t done much with. It was very simple to use. From top to bottom, left to right…

Flowers. Experimenting with my new phone camera macro lens. A viola? A mini pansy anyway.

Baking. Always bread. Eaten fresh from the bread maker (yes I know that’s not proper baking but it’s as close as I’ll get!)

Reading. Gritty new novels or old classics. I’m not fussy.

Comfortable. This dog invented the word.

Favourite colour. Blue, any shade, anywhere, anything.

Candles. Every day. Pine, sandalwood, fresh linen.

Hat. Ella loves this one I crocheted for her. I need one myself!

Walk. Easily done without dogs, but extremely amusing with them. Springers; why walk when you can bounce?

Favourite mug: so many pottery mugs to choose from my growing collection, but this seventies one is current favourite, it holds a lot of coffee!

Own choice: How I’d like my Mothers Day breakfast tray to look tomorrow morning! Lots of elements from the photo hunt plus chocolate!

Huttoft

Today was a good day.  (This is not the place to talk about yesterday). I’ve tried to explain to M that when you grow up by the coast the lure of the sea never leaves you. Thankfully Rick Stein said something very similar a few nights ago while M was watching one of his programmes from about thirty years ago (I’d happily live without sky tv thanks!). Upon hearing Rick reflect on this matter M looked ‘enlightened’ and I knew we’d be heading towards the coast pretty soon.

Riley has never seen the sea before. It would have been overwhelming for him when we first adopted him. Back then he hated new places. If we took him for a walk somewhere we’d been before he’d trot off happily but if it was a new location he’d walk beside us with his head down. I think it was a sign of trust that he ran off like an over excited child today. He took one sip of the sea water, decided it wasn’t that tasty but still stayed in the water for a very long time. Although the tide was incoming today it was quite rough and deep in places so we had to keep calling him in. We could see that his legs were being washed from under him at times. He just hasn’t experienced tidal water before, unlike Harvey who seems to sense when to go for a swim and when not to.

This beach was new to us too. We’ve often visited this stretch of coast since it’s the closest, as the crow flies. Although it’s only about forty miles it takes some time to drive down narrow and winding country lanes for most of the journey. We travel through the Lincolnshire Wolds which is always uplifting since the rest of Lincolnshire is so flat. The beach itself is called Moggs Eye Beach near Huttoft, I can’t find any information on where the Moggs Eye name comes from but the village of Huttoft is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book several times apparently. I’m not much of a history buff but I can’t help but imagine what life was like when you drive by ancient churches, windmills and tiny little white stone cottages.

It was too windy and cold to sit still on the beach, even between the sand dunes, so lunch was eaten in the car with the dogs well and truly worn out and snoring in the boot. It was soothing to watch the waves break onto the sand but also entertaining to watch other dog walkers. One very brave man arrived with a camera and tripod and did a series of delay timer video clips of himself doing star jumps and little speeches on the beach. I thought he might be a travel vlogger and M thought he was making a video profile for a dating website. I guess we will never know.

My wip attack has taken a bit of a nosedive in favour of a project idea that suddenly came to me. In fact it was the result of sorting out wips that gave me the idea to make a duplicate project bag! I bought this fantastic canvas project bag in Brighton last year:

http://yarnandknitting.com/product/ditty-project-bag/

It’s been absolutely perfect, it sits flat because of the round base, it opens easily with the drawstring, it has plenty of pocket space on the outside which I use for hooks, a notepad, ball bands, scissors and a pencil. It’s a good size for most of the projects that I’m likely to cart around with me but not big enough for blankets or perhaps garments unless just for transporting parts of those. 

I’ve quite literally chucked it in suitcases, large handbags, baskets, backpacks, the floor of the car, wherever I go! I often empty out one project in favour of another depending on the type of project I want to take on the road which is why it’ll be useful to have a similar project bag. I’m simply using the dimensions from the canvas version and recreating it in crochet. I picked up the yarn for less than £1, it’s too coarse for anything worn next to the skin but ideal for a bag or basket. It must be about Aran/worsted weight and I’m using a 5mm hook to make it a tight fabric but not too stiff.

I haven’t got a plan for attaching the pocket(s) but that should be fairly straightforward. I might dig out some leather cord for the drawstring. I’m undecided about whether to introduce a second colour. I’ve got a similar yarn in a deep mustard colour which was also thrifted (I’m wondering whether these are rug yarns perhaps?) but knowing me this could end up being a monochrome affair!

Macro

The first day of Spring in Lincolnshire leaves a lot to be desired. Plans to take our four legged friends to the coast (for me as much as them) have been shelved until the rain stops. The last time we took a drive out to the coast it was sou’wester weather and we spent much of it clutching a weak mug of tea in a steamed up fish and chip shop.

Harvey has experienced the sea and sand on numerous occasions but we’ve only had Riley for three years and can’t quite remember whether he’s been to the coast with us. He’s certainly been everywhere else imaginable, forests, nature reserves, canal side walks, lakes, country parks, camping. He loves car journeys and looks out of the window constantly on even the longest road trips. I suppose the rain does give me a bit of extra time to do some amateur dog grooming. Neat coats make for less mud, well a little bit less anyway.

Another wip bites the dust this week. It was quite a tedious and long sewing up job and took me most of the Sunday football match that M and J watched yesterday. There were a gazillion ends to weave in too. Overall I’ve no idea whether the finished jumper will be a good fit or not. It looks long in the sleeves and short in the body to me. I’d use a yarn with a bit more fuzz if I made one again, that way the cables would still be defined but not as clearly as they are with this yarn. The pattern called for three balls of 100g dk yarn but this size has only needed two. If I pay attention to yardage I might be able to make another using a dk tweed yarn from my stash. On the other hand, why make something twice when there is so much choice out there?

M ran a few errands this morning, mainly dog food purchases and men’s toiletries. I swear that M and J use ten times the amount of toiletries than I do. I have mentioned the ozone layer on more than one occasion. Today though, I did not. M spotted an inexpensive clip on lense for phone cameras and thought I might like it for blogging. I love it. It actually has three lens; macro, wide angle and fish eye. I’m having trouble wth the tiny screw thread on the wide angle one but the other two work perfectly. I’ve spared you the fish eye photographs of both the dogs noses!

The macro lense is incredible. That yarn close up is lace weight can you believe? I’m not sure how often I will use it for blogging but it’ll be a lot of fun for nature and wildlife subjects. OK maybe just nature. I tried the four legged wildlife in the house for close ups and they move too much. I need to teach them to stay still for a reward or maybe a tennis ball. I’m not proud of this particularly, but I taught one of my previous Springer Spaniels to balance a dog chocolate button on his nose for however long i wanted him to and then with a nod or raise of one eyebrow from me he would flip it in the air and catch it. I was young, is all I can say, there is so much more you could train a dog to do. Alerting me to the doorbell would have been more useful for a start!

I’ve now got four quite monotonous wips to tackle. I will probably stick with M’s linen stitch scarf to start with. I’ve realised that projects get shoved to one side when a potential problem creeps into my mind. In this case I think I might need a third ball to make it a wearable length and I’m also wondering about the yarn I’ll need for the tassels. I’m going to ignore those niggles and see what happens when the yarn runs out.

The other three monotonous projects are another scarf, socks and the blanket currently pictured in my header. I think I can at least find some enthusiasm for finishing the blanket because it’s going to be much needed when M finishes the teardrop trailer this year and we take it on its first camping trip. I’ve got a blue vintage suitcase packed with vintage goodies to kit the trailer out with so crochet blankets fit the bill nicely. I’m working on M to agree to doing Route 500 some time later this year. So far, every time I mention Scotland he mentions midgies. They can’t be that bad surely?

York

I had a pleasant few hours in York yesterday. It’s such a photogenic city but I was on a mission rather than a ‘photo walk’ so I only snapped a few quick shots.  Mission Birkenstock failed unfortunately but I found J a tall, skinny fit sweatshirt which was a coup of sorts. It’s not always easy finding a basic item like this for a skinny 16 year old who happens to be 6’3. He likes them to fit like a glove, have enough sleeve length, no loud colours, no big slogans. Thank you Superdry for ticking all those boxes! He doesn’t have much non school clothing but what he does have he’s very fussy about.

I found E some nice things too. York was very geared up for Mothers Day and shops/gifts for women. After that I wandered up a road I hadn’t discovered before (in search of a quiet spot for coffee) and happened upon a yarn/craft shop called The York Makery. I managed to resist all yarn (how?) but treated myself to a new mug. I love how the shopping trip totally tells the story of my life, gifts galore for the children and a mug for me! The truth is I’m happy with my mug and don’t want for much these days. I’m even thinking of needle felt patching the parts that Riley chewed on my Birkenstocks. Make do and mend! They are only worn indoors after all.

Wilbur the Whale got sewn up, in bed, quite late, in place of bedtime reading. I gauged reactions the next morning and no-one got that excited about him. One child, who shall remain nameless, thought he’d make a better cushion than a toy. The other was more appreciative of the colours I’d chosen at least! I think he turned out better than expected and is a cheery addition to the top of my wool cabinets for now. He’s no longer a wip which is a good feeling and I’ve dug out the next project that got shelved for similarly daft reasons.

This small baby pram blanket was started quite a while ago. I think I was aiming to use up some basic stylecraft yarn that I had lying about. The reason I stopped working on this project was because it was clear I hadn’t paid enough attention to how far each colour would go. The blue has indeed run out and the scrap of pale blue I’ve dug out probably won’t go very far at all. It is also a tiny shade different. The perfectionist in me doesn’t like that, but now, with the benefit of distancing myself from it for a while I think it’ll make a perfectly nice blanket regardless and the blue is as close a match as I’d ever get not knowing for sure what brand it was in the first place. There is definitely enough yarn to complete a simple border too. I reckon this one could be done and dusted with the help of just two good Netflix films!
Good food to be had at Bill’s, 12 Coney Street.

Good coffee to be had at the Coffee Bike located in The Shambles. https://coffee-bike.com/

The York Makery is at 36 Gillygate.

Perfect


What a perfect day! It was warm enough to leave my dog walking coat at home. I have to take a few bits and bobs on these walks including keys, water, an emergency dog lead even though we never use it, phone, glasses etc, so without the coat pockets I have to use a small rucksack which was exactly where I left it last year complete with bird watching binoculars and sunglasses. I added fresh water in my light weight bottle and off we went.

The binoculars didn’t leave the bag despite there being all kinds out there today. I was in demand with the throwing stick, Harvey is relentless. We took two tennis balls with us and came back with one deflated football. Harvey thought it was a fair deal. He crunches the tennis balls until they are a pulpy mess and don’t fit in the thrower. Then he abandons them and goes in search of a stick, only today he found something more exciting than a stick.

The dogs had an extra long swimming session today while I watched from the bench. Riley came over periodically and shook himself right next to me. He’s a sharing sort. Harvey dropped various soggy reeds at my feet, none of which were suitable for throwing. In the end I found the remains of a dog toy in the bushes and he thought it was Christmas! Easily pleased. There was zero chance of reading a few pages of my book while they ‘played’ so we set off for the return walk. The lake must have stagnated over the winter because they absolutely stunk. They snored like pigs all afternoon after all that exercise.

M was home unexpectedly early from an assignment in Birmingham. In fact just in time to take me out for lunch. We had an amazing ham salad in the Bailgate area of Lincoln not far from the cathedral. It will soon be even more busy with tourists. Today there were a number of groups walking round with maps on their phones. We had quite a good view of lost tourists from our window seats!

This afternoon I had a little time to make some progess with the random crochet whale. I needed to google how to do bullion stitch first of all. I’ve never done it before and you can see that I started off with fat slugs and worked towards slender worms, ok maybe maggots then. I’m quite impressed with bullion stitch, it was fun and adds dimension to this whale. There’s a gusset to sew in between the two body panels which looks quite fiddly but I’ll try not to put it off, this is one wip I want out of the way and he may well end up on top of my bureau to keep me company while I’m weaving!

Cowl

It was a glorious day today. The sun was shining and the sky was blue. I wasn’t going to spend a second day sleeping and waking and wondering what day it was. I convinced M that I was feeling much better (I lied) and we took advantage of a cancellation of work to take a drive out to one of the market towns near here.

On a Tuesday this little town has a fruit and veg auction under a glass topped Victorian canopy within an old fashioned cobble stoned market square. They sell all kinds of weird and wonderful fruit and vegetables as well as plants. A one off visit is usually more than enough to fill all the random pots and troughs we have scattered about at the front of our property. There really isn’t much point in planting tubs out the back because the dogs are often out there without being supervised. Harvey has always thought that tubs and pots are specifically for digging up. He brings the mangled plants to you which he thinks is being helpful. When you put it in the context of us praising him for bringing all the branches that are littering the garden for the bonfire you can see where he’s coming from.

M loves the banter of this auction, he’s been going since long before we me and he’s actually quite good at it. It also went some way to balancing out the trip to Ikea. He suffered that and I suffered this three hour long auction! We’ve ended up with enough plants to give half to Mum for her garden and that was after filling an old rusty wheelbarrow chock full of lupins, primula, hyacinths and tulips, six or seven large pots and a window box. We spent less than £15 including flowers and vegetables. I’ve got a kitchen full of flowers which were going for 30p a bunch and enough vegetables to do stews for a month!

The above photos of my new stash busting cowl were taken in haste this morning before we set off. It’s lovely and thick and warm. I didn’t manage to stand through the whole auction so M bought me a large coffee and I sat in the churchyard nearby with the sun on my face. I was still glad of the warm cowl though. Every now and then M dropped off a tray of plants with me. Then a nice old man asked if I would mind looking after his plants too. I didn’t mind at all. Then a nice old woman came to ask me if I was thinking of someone buried in the churchyard, which would normally have been an unwelcome question but I told her I was. I told her I was thinking of my Nan, who isn’t buried in the churchyard (but at rest somewhere much nicer) and that she would probably have enjoyed this auction. In return she told me a lot about her Mum. A little bit later still and another old chap decided I would be a good bet for a chat but unfortunately his accent was a bit of a struggle and he gave up on me before too long.

So, for the crochet details… it seems there are quite a few variations on a theme when it comes to these forked half trebles. Most of them seemed to use a variety that ended with a loop being pulled through five loops on the hook. The one I used did not. It doesn’t show in the flat photo but in the other shot you can see how this stitch kind of puffs up the row. I eventually found the link again and it’s http://makeanddocrew.com/cowl-caron-cakes-yarn-free-crochet-pattern/ I don’t think mine looks much like theirs to be honest but I followed the stitch instructions to the letter so the differences are probably due to the yarn type. If I’d been in the mood for faffing about with selfies I might have taken some sideways shots or just better shots like the ones in the link, but hey, it’s the best I can do today!

If I made another then I would construct it the way I’m making M’s scarf, in a continuous tube. It would be fit for the coldest of days, it would take longer than two evenings to make and it would stash bust more of my aran weight supplies. It would also eliminate that raw edge which, for some strange OCD kind of reason, I prefer to tuck under and out of sight (but you can see it in the oatmeal stripe above). It would be a good sized project for me because I get bored with blankets too easily and garments are not so easy to cart around.

I really ought to be setting myself a target to finish a few wips first. Perhaps one a week. I bravely opened the first box of wips today and found the two halves of a crochet whale 🐳 . I know, it’s very random. It doesn’t seem to be in need of much work, just some surface cross stitch and sewing up. It was probably the thought of attempting the cross stitch that made me shove it to one side. I was never very good at cross stitch at school. Hopefully he’ll be the first wip I cross off the list this week. I’ve no idea why I started making this whale but he’d make a good shelf ornament or perhaps a door stop if I filled his bottom half with something heavy, but first the dreaded cross stitch!

Storage


While we were away in Wales (an awful lot of W’s in that sentence so far!) Mum stayed with J just to make sure he was still on the road to recovery and not about to start a two day diet of chocolate flavoured cereal and jelly (I seem to lose the battle Weetos versus Weetabix every time). Although it’s not every day your daughter whacks a load of old wood up for a feature wall in the main bedroom (makes me laugh out loud!) Mum actually has a great eye for interior design and is often ahead of the trends. She took the two bedroom photos above and messaged them to me with enthusiastic approval, which reminded me that I haven’t really done a bedroom makeover post yet.

The room is far from finished. M has man diy to complete, like wiring in the new ceiling light fittings. We are changing them from white plastic cord to braided fabric cord and then having big old fashioned bulbs with cage shades. I can just see my Grandfather’s face now… he’d be wondering where the fabric for the shade had got to! It does indeed look like a bare shade but they are architectural and I like them!

The wardrobes are built and functioning but need doors and a whitewash. Skirting boards have yet to be painted. We’ve taken delivery of a new kingsize mattress but it is sitting on the old super king base until M builds a new one. We’ve yet to choose blinds for the two windows. I’m still looking for something arty for above the bed. It feels like we have worked solidly on this room since January and should be finished by now. To be fair though it was a huge task. It was major work getting nasty seventies wallpaper off with the steamer. There was a pale blue layer, a peach layer and a magnolia layer, whoever lived here before just kept wallpapering over the last layer!

It is totally mood changing when you finally achieve home decor by choice. I realise now that a lot of my not so happy days spent here were a lot to do with the awful stuff I had to live with and lack of space until we had both time and money to sort it out. We gave the children’s rooms priority at first and both involved structural work, after that we knocked the kitchen through to the old L shaped dining room so that was a major undertaking. Our bedroom has been the last room to be tackled and then it’ll be back to the beginning with fresh paint in the dining room and maybe a re-think so that it can be a part time craft space too.

Somehow, and I’m still wondering how, I managed to persuade M to go to IKEA yesterday! We are both now going down with what Jake has been so ill with, hacking coughs, hot but with the shivers. We dosed up with max flu strength stuff and of course M moaned and moaned. He was mainly concerned that I wasn’t patient enough to wait for him to build a yarn storage solution. Once I had explained that there’s only so much rustic wood you can foist on one room and offered up metal as a new material that wouldn’t compete with the rustic wardrobes, floor, bed frame and wall, then he finally saw the purpose of at least going to have a look at the cabinets I had in mind.

He cheered up considerably once we had a cuddly toy, a plant and candles for E in the trolley and a rug for J (yes E is 19 now but has a soft spot for Ikea cuddly toys). That was clearly his priority, to make sure the children had ‘gifts’. He cheered up even more when we paid for round one and with the receipt won a £5 voucher to spend in the food hall. The cashier explained that you could win absolutely anything in store from a donut to a 3-piece suite. He would not have been very gracious if it had been a donut but he did howl with laughter when he overheard a man with a broad Yorkshire accent say, ‘it’s a bloody donut, all this way and we’ve won a bloody donut!’ He wasn’t going without it though, he told his wife, ‘you get t’donut and I’ll get t’car!’

So, we bought two of these metal cabinets. They don’t seem to have a name but they are from the PS range. They are very sturdy for only £55 each and they didn’t require an Allen key to put together! It’s given me six deep and wide shelves to fill with yarn. So that’ll be variagated dk, plain dk, Aran, chunky, superchunky and miscellaneous bits and bobs like my weighing scales for yarn, needles, hooks, blah blah. I’ve made a start with winding all of my variegated dk into yarn cakes with my wool  winder. It seemed like a good idea at the time but boy is my arm aching already! Luckily quite a bit of my yarn is already wound so I will do a bit each day. I’m surprised that the contents of my first plastic box haven’t completely filled this first shelf. I’ve tossed all the small leftovers and coarser yarn into the round basket for weaving. I’ll have a bit more choice of colour when I do my next piece.

I’m quite glad that the new bedroom layout wouldn’t accommodate my old yarn cupboard with its stacks of plastic boxes inside. It was a faff when I wanted a box at the bottom of the pile and it was so easy to forget what I had even though the boxes were mainly clear. I feel that this new system, although open to the elements (we don’t seem to get many moths but I will look into deterrents) will be so much more conducive to creativity and using stuff up!

M will feel useful once more when I tell him I’d like a scaffold plank shelf or two above my new cabinets. It might be another six months or a year before we go to Ikea again though! Feng shui wise it is probably saying ‘it’s you, me and the yarn in this marriage’ when you’ve got your entire yarn stash in the bedroom. However, with my little bureau, music and a comfy chair, it’s a happy space to work in now. Harvey and Riley might just be allowed in to snooze on the rug too!

Trove

With no rhyme or reason I chose yarn that I liked the look and credentials of. It is all British, some Welsh and some from West Yorkshire Spinners. It’s hard to pick a favourite.

The Wensleydale sheep yarn is extremely soft and slightly silky. If you google that breed you can see why. Secretly I think they have a lot in common with the afghan hound! There seems to have been lots of babies born to both sides of the family lately. I can’t imagine there will be many more but who knows? If there is I may well be making some of this gorgeous organic Wensleydale sheep yarn into simple crochet boat neck tops with wooden buttons. Or perhaps little striped knitted pixie hats like I did for the girl/boy twins recently.

The yarn in my rustic wooden box (made by M) is also Welsh. It’s a little coarse which is ideal for a hard wearing cushion cover, bag, place mats, iPad pouch. It’s going to be touch deciding which. In fact some of it may well end up being made into a coffee cup sleeves. M and I covered over four hundred miles between Thursday and Saturday mainly running on take out coffee! I guess some of the places that sell coffee don’t want to be seen to be providing excess packaging so it seems harder to find the extra cardboard sleeves that help when it’s too hot to hold.

I was sold on the West Yorkshire Spinners ‘Illustrious’ partly because it is British but also because I love that colour! I’ve got a grey hat that I crocheted and wear all the time. It’s time I made an identical one in a different colour.

The Bluefaced Leicester patterned yarn will become a knitted in the round scarf for M since he was kindly paying for all this yarn. He has an expression at times like this, ‘what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours too’! There was a scarf made up with this yarn in the shop that he was rather taken with and if I try and push to one side the memories of him losing several scarves, both handmade and purchased, on trains then I will no doubt enjoy making him something so lovely and thick and warm. M is the more colourful of the two of us and if orange is involved then all the better.

I swore I’d leave the knitting well alone after struggling to finish the baby items recently but before I do that I might as well give the knit pro cubics a go. I’ve heard good things about these from several sources lately and even if I still have to work on this scarf in short sessions it won’t be difficult to cart around with me because they are also circulars.

I’m feeling inspired and raring to go with new crochet projects. There’s going to be a fair bit of wool winding before I can start anything. If today’s rather tedious non stop rain continues that’s an activity I won’t mind staying indoors for. We had leisurely Sunday dog walking in mind but we adopted plan B instead which was a quick run round the field for the dogs, home to dry off and then a slow coffee with the Sunday newspapers.

Yarn from: Snowdonia Wool, Abergele, North Wales (snowdoniawool.co.uk)

Wales

A quick look at my photography locations facility on iPad tells me that I have taken similar photos of the highest motorway in England before. No doubt I’ve already mentioned that little fact here too. I find it fascinating. One minute you are gazing out at horrible factories and industrial chimneys and the next you have beautiful snow capped hills. There’s a little farm that is wedged between north and south bound lanes somewhere round about here too. I’m not sure of the story but it looks a lot like they refused to be bought out when they built the motorway. I can only imagine what the pollution levels must be like for them and their livestock.

Anyway, it’s a great stretch of motorway for woolgathering (daydreaming) which I found myself trying hard to do with M’s relentless running commentary about other drivers invading my thoughts. I did politely suggest he refrain but alas that only served to provoke more of the same. Music worked in the end, though it’s always a toss up between the driving rants and M singing along to Cat Stevens, I’m not sure which is worse.

Colwyn Bay was a pleasant surprise, a whole lot of perfectly preserved Victorian architecture. Just look at that WHSmith architectural canopy! So wonderful that it hadn’t been pulled down and modernised at any stage. It’s even got stained glass portraits of WHSmith and Son (presumably!) on one side and literary greats on the other. It was foul weather the half day I spent here. After battling the wind and rain along the coast towards Rhos I had to admit defeat and head back to the hotel for tea and towels.

Luckily M finished work in good time and we headed off to Llandudno. After salty chips from a paper cone and a reassurance that the four mile marine drive wasn’t high up at all (the fish and chip shop man lied) we set off for the scenic ride. I can imagine this is even more stunning in the middle of summer and I’d love to do it on foot one day but with only one afternoon at our disposal we had to make the best of it. We stopped half way to take photo’s; you can see the road we’ve taken. Even though there is no chance of surviving the car going through the low stone wall and over the edge it’s very unlikely to happen accidentally and it helped enormously that it was all one way, unlike in Italy where you just want to hug the solid rock side of the road and not the tiny little inadequate wall with the sheer drop the other side.

The Station in Colwyn Bay was in a good spot for us. Lovely people and good food and it had sympathetically retained its railway station architecture. Even though the children are teenagers now it always feels like such a novelty to be sitting in a pub on our own. M inevitably messages them both to make sure everything is ok even when they have grandparents spoiling them in our absence. He readily admits he doesn’t ever want them to leave home whereas I just view it as an inevitable next stage of parenting. It’s been a shorter journey, by eight years, for M so I can understand where he’s coming from. Somewhere along my parenting journey I really lost a sense of who I had been, who I was now, and who I wanted to be. Not in a dramatic way, just in those few times I actually stopped to think in those full on years with small children. Mentally, these days, I seem to be preparing myself for regaining that sense of self, aiming for a healthy balance.

These coastal views and the sea air really were chicken soup for the soul. Just what I needed after two months of bedroom diy, the disappointment of not travelling south to my home territory and awful coughs and colds (these are ongoing!). It was short but sweet. On the way home today we stopped at a small town called Abergele, at a tiny little wool shop called Snowdonia Wool. I could have chatted all day to the wonderful owner who was very likeminded about British Wool and ‘wool miles’. I’ve added to my yarn stash considerably but I don’t feel at all guilty. It’s my main passion or hobby and we really don’t have much in the way of local places where you can ‘squidge’ good quality British yarn before you buy it. I’ll take some photos of my new supplies soon.

(There are a couple of short videos clips of the Llandudno coastal drive on my instagram feed.)