28 April 2014

A Trip to Lowther Castle...

Last week I was off work and when my friend suggested a trip to nearby Lowther Castle for a little explore I was so excited, I have been wanting to visit for ages...

Like most historic properties Lowther has a beautiful gift shop and an excellent tea room, but unlike most historic properties, as you will see from the rest of the photos, Lowther is not quite whole...

Lowther was let to go to ruin years back and now the estate are managing a restoration of sorts.  They are ensuring the safety of what is left and making the most of bits that can be repaired and restoring the grounds and gardens.

I don't think this place even needs a roof, you still get the sense of the beauty and magnificence of this place.  As long as you have a good imagination this place really does not need to be complete.

 Putting in some formal planting round the back.
The garden was very very overgrown when they started the restoration and they are slowly uncovering original features such as this pretty railed terrace, must be such an exciting job.

There are a few pretty summer houses within the grounds too that are being restored.  Oh how wonderful to have a little tea party in here!

 The ruined castle peeking through the trees looks so romantic on this grey day.

 I love an ancient avenue of trees.

The gardens have some amazing views, I think it is obvious why they built this summer house in this spot.

 The grounds are vast!

This was my fave bit of the gardens, beautiful daffodil lined lawns with views down to the castle.  Wow!  It will be exciting to visit Lowther again and again and see the developments happening with the restoration.
You can find out more and check out all the visit details here... http://www.lowthercastle.org/ 

24 April 2014

A Trip To ... The Scottish Solway Coast

Over Easter weekend, Mark and I went on a little camping trip to Dalbeattie Forest and the Scottish Solway Coast.  It turned out to be the BEST camping trip ever, I loved every second.  Here are our photos...

Despite Dalbeattie being only around an hour's drive away from home neither of us had been to the area before.  I guess that's what happens sometimes, with the Lake District on the doorstep you tend to forget there are other places to explore!  But lesson learnt now, as this place was stunning!

We stayed at Gorsebank, we found out about the camp site through a link from the 7 Stanes website.  We wanted to stay near to the mountain biking route and this was ideal, with the route linked through right from the farm.

We fell in love with this place instantly, we had a 'wild' camping pitch in a little secluded corner and the views all around were of the woods and fields so it really felt like 'wild' camping.  Elsewhere on the camp site you can rent wooden tents, camping pods, tepees and even posh pods complete with their own hot tubs! wow.

There was loads of space and things to explore on the site, we went on a little wander and happened upon the chain bridge (it was across a big swamp so quite scary! lol!) and a tyre swing.  Just perfect for us big kids!

Mark cooking our dinner on the camping stove.  Now did I mention that this was Easter Bank Hol and we were in Scotland??? Look at that weather! We had un broken sunshine the whole weekend, miracle! We were sooo happy!

On the first evening we biked a little way down the road and came across the beautiful little picturesque village of Kippford.  We biked along the beach front and gazed at all the pretty (and expensive) looking houses.

The beach was entirely made up of crushed shells!

So this is what we came to do! The Dalbeattie 7 Stane route.  The 7 Stanes are mountain biking routes at various places in the Scottish borders and they are some of the most fun and popular purpose built tracks in the country.  We chose the red 'Hardrock Trail' route which was 25km of ups and downs and jumps and obstacles, was super fun!  Here is our 'before' pic!

The obligatory shot of the bikes at the Dalbeattie stane.  Each of the 7 has a different stane and I suppose the point it to collect them all.  We have done a few of the routes before at other places but my goal is to do all 7 again this summer.

Mark on the big scary 'slab' obstacle.  Er yeah, that is a pushchair you can see at the bottom there, this worried us slightly!

A much needed break for lunch.  Oh look how pretty and shiny the bike looks in the sunshine, sigh....

Mark on more scary obstacles.

Me on a little obstacle! hehe.

And here are our after faces! Lovely and sweaty with beautiful helmet hair, but so so happy after a super fun day of biking!

On the way home we stopped off at Sandyhills and had a little wander in the sand.  Wow walking barefoot on a proper sandy beach, now I feel soooo excited for summer and even better weather to come.

17 April 2014

Growing up...

The one thing that scares me or upsets me most in life is the thought of 'growing up'! Being professional, having responsibilities, marriage, mortgages, babies, all utterly terrifying!

It's not really about ageing, or dying, but more about the change and responsibility.  I will be 34 this year (cripes!), never been married, no kids, I'm on no impressive career path and I can't drive! I've never had a grown up attitude to money either, frittering away all I earn each month on one too many silly dresses! I live on my own in a little flat with my cat, about 5 mins walk away from my parents and the house I grew up in. My flat is full of 'childish' things, the predominant decor theme being bright primary colours and the more polka dots the better! And I have more stuffed toys that I should probably admit to! 

I have a boyfriend, yes, we have been together 5 years this year (how did that happen!) but we have never lived together, he has his place I have mine and that's how we like it.  I have been away to uni, and lived back with my parents a couple of times now and even had a stint down in London but I always come home, I'm a home person and need to be back where it is familiar and 'safe'.  I even (should I admit this???) get a little bit scared and sad when I have to get a train, even just for a work meeting for the day, I don't like this feeling of leaving.   My only responsibility in life is Meg, my cat, and I will be honest here and say as much as I love her now I was petrified when she first came to live with me, I didn't think I could handle it! 

People are always surprised when I tell them my age, usually they think I am a lot younger.  This should be a compliment I guess but actually kind of insults me.  I obviously don't dress in a grown up professional way (I wear stupid polka dots, Tatty Devine and Converse to work most days!) and I don't have that professional aura about me! haha! I really admire women who are my age and younger and are many grades higher than me at work and can command a room but that will just never be me.  Whilst perhaps sometimes I think I ought to start being more serious and professional in truth I really have no real desire for it; I just don't have the motivation or competitive drive to be like that.

I'm often shocked at how friends I went to school with have seamlessly glided (or so would seem to me) into grown up life, with mortgages, cars, husbands and many onto baby number two or three! Sometimes when I'm with them I feel very 'young' in comparison as I just cannot relate to their lifestyles.  Most weekends my primary thought is 'where can we go biking?' Mark and I love going out to the pub, getting muddy out on our bikes and most of all camping! People my age aren't meant to be doing these things, are they?  Close friends and family getting married and having babies, whilst is lovely and I'm happy that they are happy, deep down it makes me really sad! I'm sad for change and sad that life will never be the same again.

I've always felt this way, I have some weird peter pan complex.  We used to play dressing up and mother and baby with our dolls when little, but it always seemed so far away for me, not something that I was sure I wanted or would have.  I don't have a 'dream wedding' in mind, I can't picture a 'dream house', a big family and responsibilities, it's not necessarily that I don't want these things (I think I do!?) it's literally just my head hasn't caught up to my wrinkles and grey hairs yet!

One of the most harrowing things from childhood that has stuck in my head ever since (along with the song!) is from Care Bears the Movie 2, I've just IMDB this and it came out in 1987, when I was 7, so I have felt this way for a long time!  In it there is this song 'Growing up' and it shows all the care bears as babies then by the end of the song they are grown up (NOOOO!)  In the last scene one of the bears puts his little stuffed toy star up on a shelf as he has outgrown it! (utterly devastating!) He then walks out the door, just as the song finishes though he bursts back through and grabs it up off the shelf! I know exactly how he feels!

You can watch it here, but I'm warning you, it's not an easy watch! Those lyrics, just heartbreaking!

Am I a freak, or are there other people out there forever a kid trapped in an adult body?

15 April 2014

What I'm Working on...

If like me you crochet or spend your time enjoying any type of craft chances are you will have many projects on the go at the same time! I get so excited when an idea of something new pops into my head I have to get started straight away, leaving a few little projects half finished!

This little cat above, has been 'legless' for quite a while now, poor thing! He is a prototype for some little crochet pals I am working on.  He is actually my own pattern, I am pleased with him but I am not sure he is quite right yet, so he remains in my work in progress pile.

 Little cat is half finished but yes, I started on the next one! I wanted to test my pattern so far so I started on a new little pal.  I am not sure exactly what he is going to be yet, maybe a bunny, maybe a pig, or perhaps another cat!

This is a shawl for my grandma that was meant to be for Christmas! Christmas was 4 months ago and this still has a long way to go! oops!  Well it's all summery out there right now so she doesn't need a shawl at the moment, perhaps I might get it finished for next Christmas...

What are you currently working on?  How many different projects do you have on the go at once?

10 April 2014

A Babygro Owl

Recently I blogged about Babygro Bear he was my very first babygro crafty commission.  Since then I had a request to make an Owl,  so I thought I would introduce you to him as well..

These little treasures are made up out of old grown out of babygros, so they are a special keepsake and reminder of your baby's first outfits.  I think this is a much nicer idea to make the onsies into a toy that can be on display rather than keeping outfits in a drawer somewhere.

I loved the mix of patterns I was given to work with for this project.  The babygros feel sooo soft as they have been worn and washed a fair few times.

I picked out some details, the bright pink fabric was actually on the underside of the feet on one of the onsies and the pink spotty fabric was the top of a cute little dress.

I have seen loads of handmade owls recently and for inspiration I simply google image searched owls and of course looked on Pinterest.  In the end I decided to make my own pattern, just drawing out a simple owl outline shape, a goggle shape for the eyes and oval shapes for the wings on the side.

One of the little onsies had some lovely scalloped edging details round the collar and cuffs so I cut this off and thought it would make a lovely detail on the front of the owl, you can see it here. 

All the detail I hand stitched, mainly using a blanket stitch in contrasting thread so the stitches became part of the detail.  I then used my machine to sew up the main shape.

On the back of the Owl, you can see a different fabric again and a little label detail from one of the outfits embroidered on.  I like to use the little details like this, I think it adds that extra little bit of personalisation.

All these little outfits were either Baker Baby or Cath Kidston! That's one cool baby!  But the patterns were lovely to work with and I think look really effective together on this rag doll owl.

I am now taking commissions for these little babygro bears and owls.  If you would like one simply email me perfecthidingplace@live.com to discuss prices etc.