Coastal

My trip ‘home’ was very much a tale of two halves. The first week was warm and sunny which meant that Archie and I headed for the beach every day. My childhood Cocker Spaniel, Susie, used to walk round anything remotely wet like a puddle. We took her to many coastal spots for long walks and she always managed not to get wet at all. So I was impressed that Archie headed straight for the water and started off with a good old paddle. There was just one occasion that he went in near a breakwater and quite literally bobbed underneath the surface for a second, this is not something you need when you’re dog sitting! I was moving towards him in a nanosecond but then he bobbed up, paddled towards the shore and confidently hit sand once more.

Archie does have one thing in common with Susie though and that is the potential for edible items is never far from his mind. Some of the things he was interested were borderline ‘edible’ including fishy looking things washed up on the shingle. He has a knack for finding the point at which the tide turns and starts receding, therefore locating all the rubbish that gets washed up. He ignored my suggestions that the sand was more interesting and easier to walk on so in the end I had to join him and over the course of that first week we added three tennis balls to our collection.

The promenade fascinates me now in a way that it never did when I lived here. Some mornings we were down there by 8 in the morning (thanks to bright sunshine streaming in and messing up my usual slow starts to the day). Some evenings we were just about using up the last of the daylight. It seemed as though all ages were out at both of these times of day. Babies in prams. Kids on scooters. Older people driving motobility scooters, joggers, dog walkers. I know I’ve said this before but it’s all so darn sociable and accessible and there’s no washing mud off everything with hoses afterwards. Harvey and Riley would miss their daily hose down if we lived here!

I think it was towards the end of the first week that I received a rather distressed message from M. He said that if he didn’t see the funny side he would probably be more cross than he could cope with. So he simply explained that Riley had come back after his morning wee in the field and told him that he was unfortunately taken hostage by a gang of foxes, tied to a tree and sprayed head to toe with fox poo as a punishment for venturing onto their patch. A week later and I am still laughing about it. It is extra funny because that was one morning I didn’t have to deal with it myself. There was no point in the usual ten minute drying off on towels routine so M opened the gate into the kitchen, at which point Riley could easily have made a bid for his bed but instead he walked, with his head down, straight into the bathroom and voluntarily got into the shower cubicle. M said he laughed so much he had tears running down his face. He wasn’t laughing quite so much when the warm water hit the fan let’s say. It tends to increase the strength of the odour somewhat!

During that first week Grandad and I were able to get out and about. We had some nice lunches out. We popped over to a nice little town near here and browsed some charity shops. There was even one day when it was warm enough for him to sit and catch some sun on the seafront. Then came The Beast from The East. I must admit I thought it would never happen, we’ve had a few false alarms this year. We both stocked up at the beginning of the week and that proved to be good timing. Thereafter Grandad stayed in the warm and I walked the few miles there and back to have a cuppa and a biscuit or two. The snow hasn’t been deep here but it’s been enough to make paths tricky. Given that the average age here is probably 90 I was surprised that the town centre paths weren’t salted. You’d think shopkeepers would at least want to keep their customers safe. I helped one old woman out of a shop doorway and over an icy patch to safety. I wanted to walk her home but I’m really not that outgoing so I just hoped she didn’t have far to go.

Modern technology was a useful thing for once with daily reports of weather conditions coming in from West Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Jersey. E, J and M respectively. M’s second trip to Jersey was very bad timing with the weather closing in on the evening before he was due to fly home. All flights out were cancelled on Thursday and he’s on a transfer flight today but I’m not holding my breath. Both E and J have much more snow than we have here. School and university lectures were cancelled. Notably E’s priority was a good cup of coffee and J’s was Haribo, both trekked out in the snow for these! I’m a fine one to talk though, my immediate thought was chocolate! The local shop was quickly cleared of milk and bread which wasn’t too much of a problem. If they’d run out of chocolate now that would be a problem!

Crochet is obviously the ideal hobby for a snow day. I’m over the thrill of making snowmen or getting cold and wet with snowball fights, though I did take note of my cousin’s tip and made some snowballs for Archie to catch. He does indeed like this game. I think he liked wrestling with the towel I tried to dry him off with even more.

I whipped up some quick wristwarmers with a tweedy Aran yarn I found in a charity shop. There is usually quite a bit of yarn to be found here thanks to the older generation. Since they were a big success in that they actually fitted nicely for once I’m planning to make these again when I am home and can raid my pure wool stash. I’ve got a hank of Croft by WYS that will be ideal and warmer than this oatmeal yarn. I might make them a tad longer too.

I’ve made good progress with E’s diamonds and bobbles jumper and will bribe her somehow so that I can get a modelled photo when it is finished. Just the sleeves to do now. All of the projects I brought with me were one colour projects. When the sun disappeared for a few days I had the most unusual and rare for me, craving to make something colourful! I just don’t do colour unless it’s a special request from E or something for my niece. I came across the Coachella scarf pattern on LoveCrochet (a simple puff stitch construction) then went out into the Beast to gather up half a dozen odds and ends of DK to get started. I quickly realised that the ends were going to be huge in number and actually joked on instagram that I would be calling them ‘a fringe’. Well I’m further on with it now and the fringe is a definite possibility. I remember seeing someone on a train with a scarf edge of ends just like this and I think I might just get away with it.

I packed a couple of other crochet projects but wasn’t in the mood for them. I find crochet goes like this sometimes. E’s jumper for instance was ideal for accompanying a good Netflix film. Likewise with the puff stitch scarf; no counting required. Both good snowy day projects to get comfy with, alongside a film, coffee and a bar of Green and Blacks. I’ve done so much walking here because it’s been such a lovely change of scene and also because I didn’t have a car. I think my knee might finally be cooperating. The same cannot be said of my foot where I broke a bone right on the edge five years ago. I’m resigned to that being a nasty nagging pain for good now. I plugged music in for some walks and it’s a great way to distract the mind which reminds me to tell you about an amazing thing I witnessed early one morning. The tide was out far enough to expose some rocks and in the middle of a large flat one there was a young girl, about E’s age I guess, singing her heart out. Obviously I couldn’t hear her but the hands and arms were moving in a musically theatrical way and she was dancing on the spot too. When I got a side view I could see she was belting out a power number. What fantastic courage and a thoroughly inspiring spot to practice!

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Homeward bound

There are some days I can’t even listen to the lyrics of Sovereign Light Cafe without a big lump forming in my throat. The song takes artistic licence by treating Hastings and Bexhill as one, but the video was certainly filmed in Bexhill. It’s not a sad song it just reminds me, in more ways than one, of the great distance between there and here. We used every bit of the south coast when I was a child. Our childhood dog was the most walked dog on the planet. Unlike H and R she absolutely hated water so we never had any fear that she would get carried away with the tide. When we take Riley to the coast we have to be much more careful, he doesn’t have any sense of fear despite the power of the waves.

This past week E packed her books and caught a train from Leeds To Hastings, quite a long trek. I think she had plans to have a coffee or two at the SLC on Bexhill seafront but there were a succession of days where she described the rain as horizontal, so she kept warm and dry and probably did more studying than she would have if the weather had been more favourable.

Our visits overlap by just a day and then M will travel back with E and leave me down there. I’ll miss my faithful four legged friends but I’m sure Archie will be up for cuddles and long walks too. H and R will be miffed if he starts appearing on my blog but I can’t resist photos of spaniels, they are such happy dogs. Archie isn’t a Springer, he’s a Cocker, but in my opinion he’s ten times more bouncy than H and R, he’s full of beans and loves company.

I’ve packed a generous amount of yarn, two books and my kindle. When I was a child my biggest fear was running out of things to read! This seems amusing now because I certainly wasn’t one of those kids that did nothing but read. I was outside in all weathers, running, cycling, making dens, doing all kinds of sport, so I guess this must have been an evening activity only. We never really did get on with regular trips to the library, our lives had too much else going on. There was no internet, no Amazon, and no kindles. Mum has always worked full time so trips to book shops were rare. I got most of my reading material as gifts and the Puffin Club at school when I was primary school age. I still can’t think of anything worse than running out of yarn or books.

Tomorrow M will pack the car and remark on the amount of luggage I am bringing. He does this despite the fact that I am an expert on travelling light. He’s also good at travelling light but the difference is that he forgets vital things and ends up buying them on holiday, like the year he didn’t pack socks, or the year he took two shirts for two weeks!

There will be some tense moments as my much tested patience begins to wear thin. In the ten years we’ve been married we’ve overcome a lot of differences and laugh about some of those now. Some of the things I used to find highly irritating I actually find quite endearing now, the ability of the human being to adapt is a constant source of amazement to me! However, giving a constant verbal commentary of how dreadful other drivers are is not something I find endearing at all. Not only that but I don’t find the comments to be very accurate either. Furthermore the one giving the commentary often performs the very manoeuvre that he was, just seconds ago, criticising. Insert a few choice swear words here if you are so inclined. I certainly do, usually under my breath, and then threaten to plug my phone into the car stereo and select music that I know he hates.

When the kids were small I found it was hugely successful to outline the behaviour I expected from them before we entered a ‘challenging’ social situation for instance. You can’t expect children to know what is expected from them, you have to tell them. I tried to apply this theory to M but unfortunately it didn’t work. I’ve also tried appealing to his sense of survival by suggesting he might cause a stress related illness if he carried on this way. That didn’t work either. So if you see a rather fed up woman staring out of the passenger window on the A1 singing along to The Greatest Hits of Glen Campbell you’ll know it’s me!

Jersey

With two days notice we packed and flew out to Jersey at the beginning of this week. I can’t say too much about the work reasons but I can say that it’s not very often that M is offered work in such a nice location. Expenses were such that we only needed to pay for my flight which was a remarkably cheap £75 so it made sense for me to come along and have a mini break albeit by myself for most of the time.

I don’t know why I’ve never hopped on a boat or plane and visited any of the Channel Islands before. Jersey is part of the British Isles but it is not part of the United Kingdom. It is only nine miles wide by five miles and has a population of about a hundred thousand. According to our chatty taxi driver there are more cars on the island than people and yet the fastest you can drive anywhere on the island is 40mph. They have their own currency but it is compatible with British Pounds. We were told to take anything we received in change to a bank to exchange back to British notes on our last day because UK shops can be ‘funny’ about them. In fact we didn’t need to because we only ended up with a small amount of Jersey cash and we might be returning in a month or two.

We were a bit spoilt with a lovely hotel right on the bay overlooking the harbour in St. Helier. I couldn’t take my eyes off the changing sky, the way the castle lit up, boats coming and going, the tide going in and out. If you look carefully at the top picture you’ll notice a red lcd display to the left. There were two figures, one in meters and one most likely in fathoms, it went from 0.0 to over 8 metres at high tide. At low tide there is a narrow path across the wet sand to the castle. Even in quite severe wet and windy weather there were one or two brave locals walking out that way with dogs. It’s such a beautiful spot I think I’d probably do the same on a daily basis if I lived there with Harvey and Riley.

In the same photograph you can see there are one or two tiny figures on the harbour wall. We walked along to the end on our final morning and then took the lower path where the arches are on our way back so that M could take a closer look at the boats. Typically it was a bright and sunny morning on that day with only hours to go until our flight.

I didn’t take very many photos at all despite covering what seemed like very square inch of St Helier itself. The weather was pretty awful on the first day and due to get worse in the second. I tucked my phone deep into my pocket and largely forgot to take it out for photographs. I visited the indoor market and swung by some of the museums but mainly I had coffee here and there and watched the world go by. There was a noticeable French look about some of the residents which makes sense when you think it’s only 14 miles from France and about 100 miles from mainland Britain.

There’s a lot of history to the island and I watched a great film the night before we flew. It was on Netflix and called Another Mother’s Son. It gave a taste of what life was like under German Occupation during the Second World War. I walked past a hotel called Pomme D’Or which was used as the German Naval HQ during that time. It faces a square which is now called Liberation Square.

We managed to fit in one small, quick excursion when M had a few hours one afternoon. We caught a bus and enjoyed the scenery on the way to St Aubins Bay which we could see from our hotel. I love the way that in Madrid you can go anywhere on a bus or metro for €1.50 and in Jersey you can take any single trip for £2.00. It makes life so much easier. We live just six or seven miles from our nearest main town and it costs an arm and a leg to get there by bus. In St Aubins Bay there are some lovely smart looking seafood restaurants and a place called The Harbour Gallery which is wedged in between what would probably have all been fishermen’s cottages at one point. It’s very higgeldy piggeldy inside with lots of beams and stone walls and a mixture of craft supplies, art gallery, small yarn store and cafe. There’s also workshop space for art. M overheard a Mum having a chat about home schooling and bringing her daughters there for art lessons. What might have been a very quiet trade in the winter seemed to be a thriving little multi purpose venue.

Obviously I’d have been happy to have returned from our trip without any yarn at all but M quite literally shoved me into the yarn area and said, buy something! I didn’t put up much of a fight after spotting some Italian yarns that are harder to find on UK websites let alone in stores. I bought just a single ball of sock yarn since I have now discovered my ‘go to’ crochet sock pattern. I bought two hanks of a merino and bamboo mix yarn in shades that remind of the coast for a possible wrap or shawl. Finally I bought a fun super chunky Italian ball that came with two wooden buttons and that will definitely be a cowl. Quite a modest selection I thought. They have a knit and natter type get together on a Tuesday evening there. Given the size of the island it’s probably the only one too!

I think we ate seafood of some kind for every meal, apart from breakfast of course, though salmon was available. I haven’t always been the biggest seafood eater but these days I like to try new things so we had quite a variety for one week. Seared scallops were probably my favourite.

I took my new forest green project bag for this trip. I took the yarn and pattern for the second sock pictured above but didn’t get round to even starting it. As a last minute thought I threw in a chunky ball of pure wool and that ended up being crocheted into a warm hat on our one night stay in London before flying. My previous favourite hat was looking worse for wear so I thought, no problem, I’ll make a new one. I made a pattern up as I went and added a few popcorn bobbles for interest. It was ideal for the weather conditions. I also packed some pure wool aran and downloaded the pattern I had in mind for that onto my iPad. That was the project I was most in the mood for when we actually got to Jersey. I had two very rainy afternoons in the hotel room with that wonderful view (after I’d made use of the lovely pool and steam room!) and with our own Krupps coffee machine and fresh Jersey milk in the mini fridge I managed to stay awake long enough to get this hat finished by the last day.

Naturally as soon as E saw a photo of the finished hat, she wondered if I might post it to her! I’m always glad to have made something she likes and she does deep red so much better than I do! Besides it gives me chance to be the boring neutrals nerd I’ve always been and make another in oatmeal! The pattern is on the website Yarnspirations. This might be an overlooked gem of a site. Everything I’ve made with their patterns has worked out very well. This red hat for instance is just a classic cable twist design but sometimes the best things are the simplest. I will be adding it to my list of reliable go to patterns. It has worked up so lovely and thick using a soft merino aran weight yarn and yet it has a lot of give due to the post trebles which means it fits like a glove. I’ll be honest and admit that I only twigged that I’d never made a proper cable twist hat in crochet when I saw an old woman wearing one in the classic aran off white shade. Hers was knitted but that’s beside the point, what struck me was how smartly dressed she was and how classic it looked despite being just a woolly hat and incongruous with her tailored suit. You’ve heard of the expression, ‘you should get out more’, well this is what happens when I do get out more! I sit in a coffee shop and spot great hand knitted items!

I hope we get the opportunity to return to Jersey. It looked beautiful in terrible weather so I’d welcome the chance to walk along the miles of promenade in good weather! For now though it’s back to reality. Lots of laundry, dog walking, dog bathing, dog trimming, dogs under my feet, dogs being rather clingy because I’ve been away… you get the gist.

October

These photo scavenge hunts are proving too much fun to miss. I didn’t think I’d have time this month to join in what with E’s departure for uni and then her short notice visits home. In fact the latest one prompted a massive two day sort out that I’d intended to do over three months! She’s been in charge of sorting her own room out for as long as I can remember but it was a bit chaotic after the uni packing. I decided that she needed a really nice, calm, uncluttered area to come home to now and then. I’m quite good at this sort of thing once I’m in the right frame of mind and armed with a hoover for unexpected spiders, loud music and a large coffee.

1. Making. Hats. It’s an annual thing now, a randomly occurring, most pressing need to make a batch of hats (not necessarily at the right time of the year either). This one seems remarkably similar to one I made last year for E but it uses an entirely different pattern. It’s called the Herringbone Slouch Hat by Jennifer Dougherty. It’s easy as pie if you can do post trebles. I’ve yet to make myself one but the wool is standing by!

2. Empty. Beach. This was taken at Huttoft earlier this year. I’m hopeless at remembering dates but it was fairly windy and cool, most definitely woolly hat weather anyway. In my mind it was the best time to visit a beach because we had the place entirely to ourselves. The dogs loved it.

3. Starts with F. Fingerless gloves. I finished making these recently using the foolproof side to side method and then slip stitching down the side leaving a thumb hole. It’s ideal for using up a random ball of yarn that you’ve lost the ball band for and can’t remember whether it’s dk or Aran, or chunky for that matter. It makes perfect tailor made gloves every time. All I need to do now is be less plain and add embellishments!

4. Paper. Despite various crochet planning apps and even an app for a crochet journal I don’t think I’m likely to ever replace good old paper and pen with anything digital. I have a box of these small pads with various crochet notes inside and one day I’m planning on transferring them to a handwritten journal for future reference. Just my hat notes alone would be a handy section to write up instead of working it all out from scratch every time I start one.

5. Neat. I wouldn’t say I was a neat freak but there are some things that need a little order so I find myself trying to keep my little bureau neat and tidy at least. It contains a hundred million random items and I know exactly where each of them are.

6. Street. I most probably take a photo of this very same street every time I go to York. It’s so Dickens and Harry Potter and just makes you feel like you should be wearing something quite different from jeans.

7. Kettle. Once upon a time I’d use a kettle six times a day at the very least. Now it’s far less because we use a coffee machine. My favourite kettle though, is our Kelly Kettle which runs on little twigs or pine cones set alight in the fire cavity. In order to use this I have to drag M out in the car, find some remote lay-by, take the dogs for as long a walk as he can manage and then suggest a freshly brewed mug of tea before setting off for home. It always tastes better in the open air!

8. Unexpected. Walking back to E’s little car to find a very bad driver trying to reverse out of the next parking bay. It probably would have helped if she’d had a booster seat and been able to see over the steering wheel. She was a very small woman in a very big car. Beware! In future I will be keeping the battery ticking over by driving round the village.

9. Vase. If you’ve been following for a while you’ll know that vase comes under the category ‘girly things that I don’t like’. Well they used to in the days before I discovered that they also come without flowers printed or painted onto them! This green one was a recent acquisition. I’d love to know who or where this potter with the mark Hy is. I’ve got quite a few pieces collected mainly from charity shops over the years. I like this piece for its simplicity and the fact that it only takes one stem of something for it to look artistic!

10. Own choice. Harvey, the dog we’ve had from a pup. The dog I taught to sit, wait, find it, fetch, bring it here, lie down, who now does all of this roughly in that order and never gives up hope that you’ll throw something for him. When winter sets in and I’m sweeping mud up from the floor daily, soaking mud balls out of his pads in the sink, trekking through boggy fields, wrecking my car boot with mud, dog slobber and stagnant pond smell, hoovering prairie dog hair dust balls from the hall way… I always think to myself, he’s worth every bit of that hard work. I can’t imagine life without a Spaniel, or two!

Thank you Hawthorn for hosting the photo hunt. http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-scavenger-hunt-link-up-party.html

Photographs

A day late but I’m hoping my wifi connection lasts long enough to link up with Hawthorn Spellweaver’s Photo Scavenger Hunt!

1. The setting sun. Harvey and Riley are somewhere in the foreground of this photo I took on an evening walk in the field behind the caravan site; totally oblivious to the beauty but not to the wildlife smells.

2. Local wild place. This private lake in a hidden location in a village I used to live in really does feel like a local wild place. Home to all kinds of wildlife, I’d love to set up a night camera here.

3. Mug of your favourite drink in the garden. Well not quite the garden but as close as I can get at the moment. It’s a tin mug of Rooibos which I’m very glad I discovered when I wasn’t well and felt I should cut down on the caffeine. The first cup tasted awful but I stuck with it and now I prefer it to normal tea.

4. My kind of beautiful. Always coastlines.

5. Look to the skies. One of the small pleasures of caravanning in a woodland setting is being able to open the skylight windows and see this view. Weather permitting of course!

6. Mini beasts. Beautiful close up but I really don’t like them in the house. Or anything that flutters really.

7. Rain. Something you get used to when you live in the UK. I never mind rain as long as I’m cosy indoors (with crochet).

8. Something summery. Sussex strawberries on Bexhill beach during that recent heatwave.

9. Urban wilderness. I always think of this phrase when we are driving somewhere at the crack of dawn and there’s little traffic on the roads and somehow you notice the infrastructure so much more and particularly how ugly it all is. That’s more than likely what I was thinking when I took this photo on the way to some random city earlier in the year.

10. My own choice. The same beach as no. 8 but definitely somewhere I’d choose to be a lot more often if I still lived along this piece of coast. I’m really hoping for a family holiday there before University begins for E and A Levels begin for J.
http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/junes-scavenger-hunt-link-up-party.html

Sussex

My trusty vintage suitcase has barely been left unpacked lately. I tagged along on a business trip to one of the courts in the South this week. I’m pretty sure M wouldn’t normally travel a few hundred miles for work if it wasn’t the place I come from. The journey down was hot and stressful due to delays and a need to be there at a certain time. We’d left two and a half hours contingency and still only made it with twelve minutes to spare. Needless to say M did not worry in silence.

I spent a few hours in Lewes browsing junk/antique and charity shops with several breaks for cold drinks or coffee. It was over thirty degrees and not even a whiff of a breeze. A fair trade shop owner was offering cold water which was a very thoughtful touch. There were dog bowls outside a lot of places too. H and R were no doubt laying sprawled out on our hall tiles at the time.

On our way to stay with my Uncle and Aunt we stopped over at Eastbourne because M said he wanted to experience a traditional promenade stroll. I totally took these for granted when I was younger. The well kept flower beds and the architecture didn’t really occupy my thoughts at all back then. Now of course I look at the four storey Victorian buildings and realise they are the essence of this stretch of coast.

We did a slow walk to the end of the pier and back too. The water looked impressively blue and inviting. Seafood seemed like the thing to have here so we found a local restaurant and had a bite to eat, sitting outside at 8pm at night in a T shirt! Go Britain! On our drive along to Bexhill I had the strong sense of going back in time (we lived a bit further along the coast). Sometimes I feel sad I don’t live here anymore and sometimes I’m just happy to be visiting. It’s when I come back to Lincolnshire that I feel absolutely no joy or connection whatsoever.

It was nice to spend some time with family but also great to carve out a bit of time to be child, dog and husband free for half a day. This is becoming very rare now! I picked up a secondhand paperback, sandwich, strawberries and a much needed straw hat from one of the cheap beach shops and headed to the beach. Had I known it was going to be so ridiculously hot I think I would have packed a towel and costume too. I was rather envious of those who were cooling off in the sea. A seagull took a little bit too much interest in my strawberries. He kept sidling closer and closer and I’m not a fan of anything with a beak since an incident with a black swan when I was small. I told him, in a soft voice, no I don’t think I really want to share these (lest anyone should hear me talking to a bird and think I was slightly odd). He just shuffled over a bit closer and looked out to sea as if just casually keeping me company. Against my better judgement I did eventually give him my last strawberry, he tossed it a few times and then gulp, it was gone and so was he. Thank goodness. Off to find some tasty chips no doubt.

From the beach it is walking distance to see my Grandad. He was doing a good job of keeping his place as cool as possible by letting the breeze in through the door, keeping the sunny side curtains closed and using a small fan. It was a welcome respite from the heat. His patio thermometer read 50 degrees! A sun trap he couldn’t possibly sit out in this week at least.

Strangely we hardly ever walk down to our village pub for a drink because M would be forever chatting to people I don’t really know. It was enjoyable to walk to and from a pub one evening, sit in the beer garden and have an ice cold gin and tonic. We also had an Italian meal at Sovereign Harbour one evening too which felt very civilised. Later M conceded that maybe the South wasn’t so bad after all. I think it’s gradually winning him over.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘dreams’, as in those which seem impossible to achieve. I’ve come to realise that I need to define what my dream actually is rather than having a random selection. Location will no doubt have a part to play and it is possible that compromise will too.

For now though, home is this flat county and I must make the most of things. I’m not sure how we will make progress with the teardrop trailer that would allow me to tow it to the Lincolnshire coast since we have sited our caravan somewhere for twelve weeks. Still, all good things come to those who wait and I am prepared to wait. The caravan might not be a rustic wooden cabin in the forest but it’s not a bad substitute. We really didn’t use it enough to justify having it last year so this year we will be making up for that. The dogs are already getting used to the idea. They seem to settle down quickly for the journey and know exactly where the meadow is when we get there, not to mention Riley has a favourite half of the seating area and Harvey likes to be where he can see anyone walking by, just like home!

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.)