Saturday, 26 March 2011

Not Quite Peveril Castle

The ruin of the nearly 950 year old Peveril Castle sits high atop a hill, a steep climb from the town below. 

The weather has been glorious all week, so we planned a visit to Peveril Castle in the Peak district for today. Mark and I have been members of English Heritage for nearly ten years, but haven't really taken advantage of our membership in recent years. We thought it was high time we took the Podlings to see some proper castles and figured they couldn't do much damage since they are already ruins! We are also members of the National Trust, but the thought of taking the Podlings to stately homes filled with priceless antiques is somewhat more daunting. Our National Trust visits will be limited to countryside and gardens for a few more years we feel!

It was clearly much colder when we woke up this morning, but we filled our picnic hamper and Thermos and arranged to meet Mark's parents in Castleton in the afternoon. The thirty mile drive to Castleton is beautiful, taking us across the Staffordshire moors and the Peak District National Park. What took us by surprise was quite how high the castle sits above the town. You have to park in the town and walk quite a way up a very steep hill to get to the castle and it looked somewhat daunting. We got there quite late in the afternoon and we knew that by the time we made it up the steep climb the castle would be closed. We decided to save the castle for another (hopefully warmer) day.

We turned back to the town and were grateful to be able to shelter from the cold in the delightful visitor centre, which has a charming little museum attached. The Podlings really enjoyed the museum, so now we plan to take them to some larger museums. As an aside, I can't wait until they are old enough to take to London to see all the wonderful museums and art galleries there. I spent many happy hours wandering around the National Gallery and the British Museum as a postgraduate student.

After we finished looking round the visitor centre, we went back to the car for the picnic. It was so cold, we decided to serve the food from the boot and eat it inside the car. We were so grateful for the Thermos we filled this morning! Tom and Lily fed some bread to a couple of ducks they found nearby and then we said goodbye to Mark's parents and headed home. We will definitely return to Castleton and Peveril castle, but we will be waiting for some warmer weather methinks!
 The fact that it was freezing cold didn't mean that Emma kept her hat on for very long. I guess all that hair keeps her head warm enough!
 Lily 'hang-gliding'. Castleton Visitor Centre had part of a hang-glider suspended above some aerial video footage of the Peak District. Lily loved this and we had trouble tearing her away from it. I hope she never wants to try it for real!

The Podlings think it is never too cold for ice-cream! As you can see, Emma takes ice-cream very seriously!

Mark making the hot drinks for what is quite possibly the coldest picnic we have ever had! He is wearing his flat cap, which he then proceeded to spend a couple of minutes searching for before we pointed out he was wearing it!

Sheltering in the car in cowardly fashion! It was bitterly, bitterly cold!

Sweet Dream Pillows

Lily found one of my homemade lavender sachets in a drawer the other day and was rather taken with it. She asked if she could take it to bed with her and since she had been having trouble sleeping all night I suggested that it was a good idea. I explained that lavender is supposed to help you sleep and that it might well give her sweet dreams. She went happily off to bed with the little sachet and funnily enough slept all night.

When I went to tuck Tom in, he asked if he could have something to help him sleep too, so I said he could borrow one of my other lavender sachets. When he asked if he could have a red one I told him that I didn't have a red one (mine are all very feminine and lacy), but that I would make him one that night if he wanted. He looked very excited and asked if he could have a red one "with some lovely blue on it". When the Podlings were all settled for the night, I came downstairs and made Tom a red and blue lavender pillow with a star applique to the front. I machine-embroidered the message "Sweet Dreams Tom" on the back.

He woke up that night at about two in the morning, but settled quickly back when I gave him his new pillow. He got his torch out to look at it and his smile told me how much he loved it. He is over the moon with his little pillow and has been cuddling it at night since I made it for him. He is such a delight to make things for!

Naturally, little Lily wanted a lavender pillow of her own when she saw Tom's, so the following night I made her a pretty floral pillow with broiderie anglaise trim and ribbon roses. As with Tom's pillow, I personalised Lily's pillow with machine embroidery on the back. Lily is also thrilled with her pillow and has taken it to bed tonight. The children's rooms smell delightful at the moment!

For more details about Tom's pillow and Lily's pillow, please visit my sewing blog, Sew Pretty. There are photos of the backs of the pillows over there too.

Reading to Daddy

Lily took a little while to get started with reading, but something seemed to just click late last year and now she loves it. She can't wait to read to us as soon as she gets a new reading book from school. I hope she will always be this keen to pick up a book. One of the main things I want to pass on to my children is a love of reading. Tom and Lily have both made an excellent start.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Tea in the garden

Lily has been asking to have tea in the garden all week, so this afternoon I baked a Victoria sponge and some honey buns and we used our garden furniture for the first time this year. The weather has been glorious today and it was a very pleasant way to spend the evening. Who knows how long this lovely weather will last, so we shall endeavor to enjoy it while we can.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

My Sewing Blog

Anyone who may be interested in following my sewing endeavours might like to know that I have started a new blog. It is called Sew Pretty and can be found at

It is mainly for my own benefit and so I can show my mum what I'm doing, but anyone is welcome to read along. However, if you are not interested in sewing/crafts you will probably not find it worth your time!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Legoland again

In order to make full use of our annual pass, we visited the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester again on Saturday. All the Podlings enjoy it here, but particularly Tom. It is pretty much little boy heaven! Once again he spent most of his time in the large Lego pool. The first part of his visit is usually spent with him happily building a little city and the second half usually consists of him anxiously watching the other children in case anyone tries to take it apart. We managed to tempt him away this time to try racing Lego cars, so we ended on a good note. Emma had a great time bombing around the place and sitting in the Lego pool happily throwing bricks into its centre. Lily always spends most of her time in the soft play area, but she did have a go at building some Lego this time. It's always a fun day out for the Podlings here.
Lily actually playing with the Lego.

Tom loved this little house which he found ready built in the Lego pool. He asked me to take a photo of it so we could replicate it at home.
A day at the races.
Mark and the Podlings racing Lego horses. Thankfully Lily won...she doesn't lose gracefully!

'Phew, having fun is exhausting!'

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The pen is mightier than the soap!

Apparently, six and a half is not too old for misadventure with pens.
Unfortunately, monkey see, monkey do....!
Emma the tattooed baby!.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

In other news...

...Emma has learned to climb onto the lounge windowsill!

Could she look any more pleased with herself!

Monday, 7 March 2011


First barbecue of the year - Sunday 6th March
First picnic of the year (albeit in the garden) - Monday 7th March

We are grateful for some sunshine and the promise of warmer weather to come.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Bad-Tempered Ladybird

To celebrate World Book Day, Tom and Lily's school encouraged the children to come to school today dressed as a character from a story. Tom wanted to be the Bad-Tempered Ladybird from Eric Carle's story of the same name. Thanks to the short notice, this necessitated some quick costume-making for Mummy!

I popped into a charity shop yesterday morning to buy something red to turn into a costume and found a velvet long-sleeved top for a 14 year old. Last night, I cut the sleeves off and sacrificed a good pair of tights to make sleeves and the 'spare' legs. I sewed the sleeves together and attached them to the back of the costume to make a cape to serve as the wing cases (what little boy doesn't like a cape!). I had just enough black felt in my stash to make a ten-spot ladybird. It took less than 90 minutes to make, every second of which was worth it to see how thrilled Tom was to wear it this morning. It was a very cute, though not very bad-tempered, ladybird that went off to school this morning.

 Tom trying very hard to look bad-tempered.
'Want to fight?'

The costume started life as a long-sleeved velvet top and a pair of tights.
Thank you, Mum, for teaching me to sew!

Paper dolls

Ever since I was blessed with a baby girl, I have been looking forward to the day we could play paper dolls together. That day finally arrived! Lily was home from school sick today, but had recovered enough by Emma's naptime that we could sit together as I introduced her to the exciting world of dressing paper dolls. I printed out several sheets of the delightful Betsy McCall doll from the 1950s. I used this site, which seems to have every Betsy McCall doll ever printed. It should keep us busy for many, many future sick days!

Obviously, Lily is too young to cut these intricate little dolls and dresses out herself, but she was happy to play as I cut and we spent a very happy hour together before it was time to collect Tom from school. We have a powerful new ally in our play unavailable to little girls in the 1950s. Lily was getting frustrated that the dresses kept falling off, so we have been using Blu-Tack to keep them on, though I do feel like it is cheating a little bit!

Lily is now completely hooked! She had them all out again at bedtime and even introduced her Daddy to the wonderful world of paper dolls...a first for him I'm sure! I can't tell you how thrilled I am that I now have an excuse to play paper dolls again myself. Part of me never quite left my girlhood behind!

Caught in the act!

When I was pottering about in the kitchen this morning, Emma watched me take the chocolate button I gave her out of a bag in this drawer. Later in the day, I left the kitchen for a couple of minutes and returned to this scene. She had waited until I left her alone to drag a chair across the kitchen, climb on it, open the drawer, find the bag of sweets, open it and help herself. Not so much 'as easy as stealing sweets from a baby' as 'a baby easily stealing sweets'! She is only19 months old...this one is going to keep me on my toes!
.'Which one shall I have next?"