16 December 2016

More Collaborative Crochet

I'm here with yet more completed crochet to show off! :-) This time another lovely baby blanket. This was a collaborative blanket made with friends. It is now a little tradition with a group of friends to make each other baby blankets, you can see our other efforts here, here and here.

14 December 2016

Wonderful Wednesday ... 32

Well I'm attempting to get myself more in the Christmas spirit... This week's list is just ALL the Christmas things, and as I type this at work (on my lunch hour don't worry!!!) my whole office is covered in decorations and my screen is adorned with tinsel... so I'm trying my very very best to get Christmassy over here...

8 December 2016

Little crochet cat pal

May I kindly introduce you to Chubby Cat, my latest crochet pal! He turned out a little chubbier than I expected, but I am SO happy with him, he is rather cute.

Chubby Cat is a present for a very special new little arrival baby Bea who came into the world last month.

7 December 2016

Wonderful Wednesday ... 31

Helloooo, I'm in such a good mood today, it could very much be to do with number 2.... more on that later, but also it's only 1.5 weeks until my xmas hols start!Screeeeam! I'm not feeling in the least bit proper Christmassy yet and still have ALL the presents to buy (oh and decide on too!) but we won't think about all that for now... Nope, for now it is time for that little slice of wonderfulness on a Wednesday....

1. Vlogmas If you don't 'DO' youtube then you will have no idea what on earth this is! lol! But basically lots of Youtubers who vlog regularly do a thing in December where they vlog daily. My very absolute faves Fleur de Force, Zoella and Tanya Burr are vlogging daily and it is SUCH a treat to have 3 new vids every day. In fact there are so many days I'm still a few days in the past and just cannot keep up. Youtube for me has pretty much taken over normal TV viewing now, it's ALL I want to watch. Check them out if you haven't already....

2. Gym I'm back! yes! I've done 2 days this week and I feel good, a 2 WHOLE days, can you believe it, lol! heheh. I do hope obviously I can keep up this motivation. I did a general cardio day on Monday with some intervals on bike, and running machine then a spinning class yesterday and you know what I frigging loved it. I buzzed back home as high as a kite! Just feels awesome to be back at it and to be doing something physical again and working hard to get those endorphins flowing. I've been so lazy recently.

3. Sewing for friends A friend emailed this week to ask if I could make a little something for her daughter, of course I said! no problem! I planned it, got the bits together (made entirely from existing craft stash) and had it all done and completed ready to post 2 days later (I'm SO good!) Love little sewing projects like this and it's nice to be able to do things for friends.

4. Getting dressed up It was our office Xmas party last Friday night. I put on my spangly dress, with my sequin little bolero thing and sparkly jewelry and made a bit more effort with my hair and make up. I really enjoy getting dressed up, when you have time and not rushed etc it can feel really fun. The party was lovely, lots of yummy food and fun conversation. More of these evenings please! I don't get out much.

5. A nephew day Last Saturday I spent the whole day with my nephews and it was fab. Firstly a visit to Corey (3) and we played with his dinosaurs and then with his duplo and then of course with 'aunty Jo's phone'. I even got him interested in Pokemon, looking through all the Pokemon I have caught in turn with great interest. Then 'baby James' (2) popped by and we all went to Grandma's house to hang out more. Super fun!

6. Zoella hand cream Treated myself to a little something in Superdrug the other day. Went in for basic hair bobbles came out with a bag full of stuff I didn't need (always the way am I right!?) but one of said purchases was Zoella handcream. I'm a HUGE Zoella fan as explained above too, but never bought her products. But after hearing her talk about the handcream I must admit I was intrigued, and it was £5 and on offer.... it smells of Gingerbread! It is divine! I cannot stop smelling it and putting it on.

Well if this little happy list was not enough for you then bob along over to check out these guys too.... or better yet join the Wonderful Wednesday gang yourself!!!  SallyHelenMichelleKateCatSamElKerriMimmiIsabelle and Sarah.

30 November 2016

Wonderful Wednesday ... 30

Here's a little happy list of some stuff that's keeping that smile on my face recently...

1. Taking photos I bloody love taking photos! I am not going to use the word 'photography' here as I don't think that is what I am doing! hehe. I use my iPhone, I don't know about settings and focus, and all those other scary words I just point my camera at stuff and press the button. I have a little fiddle with lighting and I enjoy framing my pictures well but other than that I just snap.  But I just love snapping. I'm very much enjoying my new iPhone 7, it's funny to look through old blog photos, which have always been taken on my phone and see the differences as the iPhone cameras improve (and I would like to think my photo taking skills along with it).  Even if I had a big fancy camera I don't think that I would use it, I love that my camera is in my pocket and with me wherever I go at all times. 

2. Fresh air Mark and I enjoyed another beautiful walk last weekend, there's a blog post all about it here. I have a cold at the moment and was feeling pretty grotty at the end of my super busy stressy week last week. Mark had suggested a walk at the weekend mid week but I didn't think I would be up to it.  But I was and we went, and yeah walking up steep bits full of cold in the freezing cold makes breathing difficult but I am SO glad we ventured out. Seriously there ain't much a bit of beautiful scenery and amazing fresh air can't cure.

3. Getting to the other end This whole month has felt busy and stressy, both with work stuff and out of work stuff. I have been away from home overnight 3 times this month too which always makes me a bit discombobulated (gosh what a good word!!!) and then graduation (not mine, I work in a uni) I have simply been surviving by checking my diary each day and bobbing along from one thing to the next. Looking over my diary for the next few weeks and there are so many happy blank spaces (sometimes this is bad but at the moment good!) and then 2 weeks off for Christmas to look forward to too.... I have that happy feeling of 'getting out the other end'.

4. Sunday evening tidy up I always do the house work on a Sunday afternoon/evening. Pretty much without fail (ok ok once or twice I am super lazy!) I drag myself round the house with the hoover. I can never be bothered, it seems a lot of hard work but I know it is always worth it. I hate an untidy, dirty house and I hate starting the new week with an untidy, dirty house. I have my little routine and I just plough through, hoovering, polishing, dusting, bathroom cleaning etc etc.  Takes a couple of hours but I LOVE the feeling of a clean and organised home.

5. Christmas crafts Oooh, well you know I ALWAYS love crafting, but Christmas crafting, well that's a whole new level!!! I have a Christmas craft Pinterest board, duh, naturally! I have been super enjoying picking out fun little things to make for friends and family. Everyone loves a handmade Christmas gift right? (lol, probably not!). I'm even hand making my office secret santa gift this year. The budget is £5, but how do you put a value on crafts? The only problem is I never seem to have quite enough time to make everything that I want to make . 

6. More babies I visited one of my bestest friends and her new baby last night. So that's the second baby to be born from my little group of bestest school chums recently. It was fab to have two friends pregnant at the same time, but it's going to be even more fab to have two new babies! And one is a boy and one a girl, perfect! I love seeing my friends become mothers, aw! My friend admitted last night, it was a lot of pain, lots of hard work in the first few weeks but she beamed when she said it is SO worth it, just mega aw! 

Well if this little happy list was not enough for you then bob along over to check out these guys too.... or better yet join the Wonderful Wednesday gang yourself!!!  SallyHelenMichelleKateCatSamElKerriMimmiIsabelle and Sarah.

28 November 2016

Walla Crag Walk

We went for another lovely walk this weekend... it's great to get outside, especially at this time of year and make the most of any times that it is not raining!  We have been lucky it has mostly been dry up here, but very very cold.

Our chosen destination this weekend was Walla Crag and Ashness Bridge which is just outside Keswick, Cumbria. You simply drive out of Keswick on the Borrowdale road and not far up come to a car park set in the woods, in Great Wood actually. Then the walks are easily signposted from there.

It was an amazingly beautiful walk, and just my type of walk, not too challenging, and included a bit of everything, stunning lake views, open countryside, fields of animals and woodland. The scenery seemed to change round every corner which makes the walk all the more interesting.

The walk is basically walking up Walla Crag on one side, past Ashness Bridge then over the Crag and back down the back to the car park, a lovely loop path.

That lake down there is Derwent Water.

I couldn't stop snapping the view as it changed every so slightly round every bend.

Me on a bridge! I'm not great on bridges, even teeny ones like this (it was quite a drop!!!) I have to wait until Mark has cleared the bridge before stepping on... as there is usually the 'hilarious' bouncing trying to make it rocky for me... honestly, people have no consideration! hehe.

As we reached the turning point of the walk the view was beautiful behind us back down towards Keswick.

Of course we had to take a selfie at Ashness Bridge. This wee old bridge is probably one of the most photographed spots in all the Lakes.

The path got steeper and rockier as we ventured up...

On the top of the crag the scenery changed again to open moorland, it looked quite wild on this day as the sun was starting to disappear.

We stopped on top of the crag for the view.  I like putting subjects in my views, so here's my photo of Mark taking a photo of the view.   You can see the town of Keswick clearly here.

I always enjoy little styles and gates....

And finally dropping back down into Keswick. Isn't it fascinating when you know somewhere so well but you are on a different walk to usual and you are not sure where it is going to pop out? Well, I love this bit anyway...

I spotted these guys on the way down... check out those snowy tops too!

The walk ended back where it started in Great Wood, but was a lovely walk through the woodland back to the car.

A thoroughly enjoyable walk. It took just over 2 hours and has a good amount of ups and downs, nothing challenging at all! And the views, as you can see are so worth it!

25 November 2016

Wonderful Wednesday ... 29

I'm back! (yes ok, so it's a little late.... lol!) I missed last week, actually thought I had missed a few weeks, but no turns out just the one. But that's kind of how I have been feeling lately... time is racing SO fast (can we just take a minute to comprehend that Christmas Day is 1 month today!!!) I feel like I need to somehow catch up with myself and stop for a moment... I don't know where I have been, what I have been doing, but I just feel so 'busy'.

I'm looking forward to getting this week out of the way frankly and I can hopefully finally wind down a bit...

But having moaned on now there have been some pretty darn wonderful bits and bobs over the past couple of weeks, so without further ado...

1. My littlest nephew saying 'Aunty Jo' I was vising my sister and nephew the other weekend. I had a crappy journey in a too warm, packed out train so grumped off in a huge rush and crush of people only to be greeted by the most wonderful thing EVER! My littlest nephew James (aged 2) was there to greet me (obvs with Jen too) and he spotted me from far back in a crowd of people and a huge smile formed on his face. Then as I approached he quietly said 'Aunty Jo!!!' aw! Mega aw! This was the first time I had heard this new trick and I was ever so proud and honored.

2. Feeling inspired I was at a conference last week for a couple of days. Yawn, work related point, yawn! I work in alumni relations and due to its very nature it is not competitive, we can't steal another uni's alumni! So it is SO sharey and supportive an industry, I always find conferences very inspiring due to this.  But there was one talk at this conference that blew me away! And I was literally buzzing furiously scribbling down ideas. You know when you think you have heard it all, and get all arrogant thinking yeah, there's nothing new I can hear or learn and then that one thing, put a different way, a new idea just sparks your imagination and you get that excited inspired feeling.

3. New cosy knits I've acquired (thanks mummy!) not one, not two, but 3 super cosy new knits of late and I cannot telly you how excited I am to wear them. I love over sized super snuggly jumpers, long length ones so over the bum, super soft, slouchy and cosy warm. Honestly I am so excited to wear them, if I didn't get funny looks I could easily wear all 3 at once! lol!

4. Oxford So said conference above, was in Oxford, not somewhere I have ever really been before. And I loved it, was thoroughly magnificent and I was blown away by the pretty streets and old buildings and history plus not to mention the sheer NUMBER of pokestops (sorry but it's true, literally everything was a pokestop! lol - yes I'm still playing it, yes I'm a big sad geek, yes!)

5. Autumn sunshine It has been super cold and super frosty this week but also mostly sunny. We enjoyed the prettiest wintery walk last weekend and I was just so delighted by the pretty autumn sunshine. I took photos for a blog post here and I didn't even edit them. I usually lighten photos, brighten up and have a little fiddle with contrast etc but these were just lovely as they were. There really are some very pretty days at this time of year.

6. A new puppy So Mark's parents surprised us all this week by posting a photo onto Facebook introducing a new member of the family! Teeny chocolate brown Cockerpoo puppy Dillon! What!!!? He was a surprise to everyone, something they had been planning and plotting for some time though. So we rushed over there as soon as we could... and we were climbed over, bounded upon, nibbled, chewed, attacked  and we couldn't be happier. Seriously is there anything else that is guaranteed to put a ridiculously massive loopy grin on your face than a brand new puppy. My goodness he is cute, all big paws and the softest, curliest coat... they are not going to be able to keep me away!

7. Frank Turner We saw one of our fave artists Frank Turner in our very own city this week, screeeam! We have seen him before and he just puts on the most energetic, fantastic fun live shows ever! In the middle of a very very busy stress week this was perfect escapism... I danced and clapped along and sang at the top of my lungs.

Did you know we're quite the Wonderful Wednesday gang now! There's a hashtag and everything... #wonderfulwednesday if you fancy giving it a go, let us know... and don't forget to so by the rest of the gang for more wonderfulness, or like me you are just nosey....  SallyHelenMichelleKateCatSamElKerriMimmiIsabelle and Sarah.

21 November 2016

A Beautiful Frosty Autumn Day

It occurred to us that we have had very little daylight of late, going to work at first light and coming home in the dark.  So a good dose of vitamin D was in order and the daylight hours of Sunday were spent exploring outside.

We headed to Lowther Castle just up the road, it is a ruined castle so the visitor attraction is outside and there are HUGE gardens to explore, perfect.

It was a stunningly beautiful day, frosty and very cold so we wrapped up warm. I've left my photos un edited and un filtered because I think the natural autumn light captured is really rather lovely.

Lowther, as you can see, is a ruin, it has a very long history in these parts and at one time the family owned great swathes of Cumbria. Their land is still vast and perfect for an explore. 

The Castle itself was left to ruin in the 1930s and in 2012 was brought back to life with a multi-million restoration project and opening of the site to visitors. I don't think the plan is to ever restore the castle to a full building but rather to manage the ruin.  The main focus is on the gardens and restoring what they can of them.

I visited the Castle a while back (peers through blog posts for exact date, apparently April 2014. Aren't blogs GREAT for that, my blog is a record of all the beautiful places I have visited) so over two years since my last visit and it was fantastic to see so much positive change. Loads has been done to the gardens to restore what they can and loads of original treasures have been uncovered.

There's a new exhibition inside the sculpture gallery, a part of the castle that has been restored with its roof. The exhibition explains the history and ownership of the castle and shows pictures of the interior. It is fascinating seeing the photos of the rooms next to photos of what the ruin looks like now. 

The gardens are really what we came for and you can walk for hours here. It is great that there is so much outside to explore and you can pretty much walk anywhere you like!

The ground was thick with frost and crunchy leaves.

We walked right along the boundary of the castle gardens, along a terrace.  The terrace has a steep wall down and overlooks the rest of the Lowther estate stretching for miles and miles...

As you can see, not a bad view at all! You can just make out some Lake District fells in the distance (don't ask me which ones, bad Cumbrian!!!) but they were covered in snow!

Playing with my new iPhone 7 camera! (love it, but do wish there was a macro setting).

And of course a feet in leaves shot had to be done! I loved that loads of the paths were blanketed in bright yellow leaves.


Of course there is a tearoom at Lowther (and a gift shop!) the tearoom is GOOD! Hot chocolates and cheese scones were consumed, yum!

Then back out to explore the rest of the gardens!

The gardens are so well planned, with the banking on the side, and the trees cut way to capture slight glimpses of the views.

Look what we found in the trees! I did have a go too, but Mark 'hilariously' kept pushing me really high and scaring me so I wimped out and jumped off!

Once we finished wandering the castle grounds we were still in an exploring mood. We wondered whether you could walk in the rest of the Lowther park itself. Turns out yes, yes you can, there are SO many walks and it is beautiful. Lots of new walk possibilities.... yeah

So we set off the explore outside the castle walls, following the river...

We walked another good couple of hours along the prettiest of paths admiring the beautiful autumn scenery around us.  The path went beside the river, over little bridges, through gates, into the cutest little villages and through churchyards and farmer's fields. Just my kind of walk.

I didn't exactly plan my footwear appropriately (I always maintain the shoes are never a practical consideration). I should however learn from ALL walks Mark and I EVER go on, there is always mud, and not just little puddles I'm talking great quagmires. How is it that I am always the muddiest, always!

So the result of canvas cons (with holes in) wading through ankle deep mud, yep, mud covered bare feet when i got home, it went right through my socks too, lovely!

Are you Cumbrian? Have you explored much of the Lowther estate? I would love to hear about new walks and do a little more exploring in this area.