Tuesday, 30 April 2013

More photos from the Lakes...

Just a few more pictures from our day in the Lake District. I love the Lake District so much! I would love to live there, but first we would have to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or probably several rainbows if we were going to be able to afford a property in the Lake District! We will satisfy ourselves with visiting it whenever we can and be grateful that we live fairly close to it. Two hours in the car and we are in the bottom of the Lake District, that's not too bad really.

A pretty holiday cottage in Near Sawrey. There are a lot of stone buildings in the Lake District and I think they are so delightful.

Lake Windermere 

Taken near our picnic spot at Coniston Water 

The girls paddling in Coniston Water (in wellies, it was much too cold for bare feet!)

This pair of swans basically frog-marched us back to our car. They weren't remotely aggressive (they were probably just hoping we would feed them), but swans are big birds and they were quite intimidating. Emma was not at all impressed!

Wray Castle

When we were in the ticket office of Hill Top Farm, the lady at the desk told us of nearby Wray Castle. The castle has only recently opened its doors to the public, but she told us that there was a lot to entertain the children there. After we had finished our visit to Hill Top, we therefore popped on over to Wray Castle and managed to get in half an hour before closing time.

A mock-Gothic castle near Lake Windermere, the building came to the National Trust empty, so it is not a typical Trust property. They seem somewhat at a loss with what to do with it, but they are trying hard to make it a very family friendly place. They have set aside several rooms for children, including a reading room (with lots of fluffy bean bags), a craft room, an 'outdoors inside' room and, the girls' favourite, a dress-up and role play area. There is still much to be done here (there is even a suggestions board for ideas!), but the Podlings had a fabulous time in the short time we were there and they would have loved more time to play and explore. Luckily, although the castle shut at five, the grounds were open until dusk, so the Podlings spent a happy hour playing in the lovely adventure play area before we set off for our picnic by Coniston Water.

An unplanned, but definitely worthwhile addition to our day, Wray Castle is certainly somewhere we would take the children again, especially if we were in the Lakes on a wet day. I think Lily would go back just for the tyre swing!

We all know how much Emma loves to dress-up, so she was in her element here!

 Lily loved the tyre swing

In the adventure play area

My handsome boy

Mummy in a den!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Hill Top Farm

Hill Top Farm

I have always loved Beatrix Potter and her delightful books and have wanted to visit her Lake District home for some time. We are only about a two hour drive from the Lake District, so my birthday seemed the perfect excuse to fulfil my long-held wish. It was pouring with rain when we left home, but by the time we reached the village of Near Sawrey the sun was shining brightly and we couldn't have asked for a nicer spring day.

Beatrix Potter left Hill Top Farm to the National Trust after her death with instructions that it was to remain exactly as she left it. Her will gave detailed instructions as to what should be displayed and where. Therefore, when you walk into the house at Hill Top, you are seeing it exactly as it was in Beatrix Potter's day. You can only imagine what a thrill this was for me! This was her house, with her things, displayed where she wanted them. It was a simply awe-inspiring experience. Sadly you were not allowed to take photos inside the house, otherwise, I can assure you, you would have been inundated with interior photos! 'The Tale of Samuel Whiskers' is set inside Hill Top House, so go and grab your copy now and look through it to get some ideas of the interior of the house.

Beatrix Potter drew from life, so many of the illustrations in her books were taken from her home and the surrounding area. It was such a thrill to see the actual dresser that Anna-Maria runs past with her stolen dough in 'The Tale of Samuel Whiskers', to see the plaster ham that Hunca Munca tries to cut in 'The Tale of Two Bad Mice' and the oak longcase clock illustrated in 'The Tailor of Gloucester'. Likewise the garden and gates are illustrated in many of her books, so everywhere you look you have delightful reminders of her much-loved stories.

My visit to Hill Top Farm was the best birthday present I could have asked for and was a joy and a delight from start to finish.

The Podlings all enjoyed their visit to Hill Top Farm. The next generation of Beatrix Potter fans! 

To the right of the gate is the rhubarb patch from 'The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck'. You see the gate itself in the illustration...go and read your copy again, you know you want to!

You can't really see them in the photo, but there were a lot of rabbits in this little field opposite the garden which may, or may not, have been related to Peter Rabbit and his friends!

Lily brought her much-loved Jemima Puddleduck toy to Hill Top Farm, so it seemed necessary to take a photo!

A kindly passer-by took our photo, but unfortunately the sun was a bit bright for Tom and Lily

As you look towards the house, the top left window was Beatrix's bedroom, the window above the porch was the little room she used to display her collection of momentos and curios and the top right window was the sitting room. You walk straight into the entrance hall , the window of which you can see on the left. The bottom right window is the parlour. The front door is illustrated in The Tale of Samuel Whiskers. 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Birthday

Tea in a favourite tea cup and my new Brambly Hedge book (because you are never too old for picture books!) 

My birthday on Friday was lovely, quiet day. Emma and I played and read together and she helped to make my birthday cake. When Tom and Lily came home, the three of them decorated my cake together. I iced the cake for them (Lily told me to use pink icing) and then I gave them lots of different decorations and candles and allowed them to get on with it. I wasn't allowed to see the cake until they were finished and I think they did a lovely job. They didn't make much mess either, somewhat to my surprise (and relief)! The Podlings and I had a little birthday tea, but we saved the cake until Mark came home from work.

My birthday treat proper was to come the next day, a day trip the Lake District and a visit to Hill Top Farm (home of Beatrix Potter) with the family.

My pretty little cake maker

My finished birthday cake, decorated by the Podlings

Thursday, 25 April 2013

I made myself a birthday present...

My Cath Kidston inspired book bag

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I treated myself to a Cath Kidston bag...sort of. I love Cath Kidston. I browse wistfully though her catalogue and website and love everything about her...except her prices! My goodness, Cath Kidston is expensive! I have been drooling over one particular bag for a while, but seriously who wants to pay £16 for a simple cotton book bag? I decided to make my own for the rather more reasonable price of £0. I used a pretty rose print fabric I have had in my stash for ages. I have about four metres of this fabric as I had originally intended to make myself a dress out of it. When the fabric arrived I found the cream was too yellow for my skin tone, so the dress was out. I love the fabric though, so I am always looking for ways to use it!

I lined the bag with another cotton fabric I had, a cream with a rose pattern in a lighter cream trailing across it. I have no idea if Cath Kidston's bags are lined as I have never seen one 'in the flesh', but my outer fabric was a little flimsy on its own, plus I think a lining makes everything look so much neater. The dimensions for the bag were conveniently printed in the catalogue, so I just added a seam allowance and went for it. I estimated the handles' width and length and sewed them between the outer and lining fabrics to keep everything neat.

I am really pleased with my Cath Kidston inspired bag. I may have to make more and play around with embellishments. I think I could have a great deal of fun embellishing book bags!

The Cath Kidston book bag that inspired me

Showing the lining fabric


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Knypersley Tower

Last Saturday was the first time we had walked around Knypersley Reservoir, so we were both surprised and delighted to stumble across this wonderful old stone tower in the woods. I felt as though I had stumbled into a children's book! An abandoned stone tower in the middle of a wood...why, anything might happen! I was completely captivated by this tower and determined to find out more about it.

Knypersley Tower, also called Warder's Tower, was built as a gamekeeper's cottage in 1828 by the landowner of the time, John Bateman. Although it was occupied until the 1950s, this beautiful Grade II listed building is now on English Heritage's Buildings At Risk Register. Vandals have attacked the parapet stones, the roof leaks, the floors are rotten and ivy is damaging the masonry.

The Landmark Trust raised half the funds needed to restore the tower, but unfortunately their renovation plans were thwarted by the discovery that several species of bat use the tower as a maternity roost. As all bats and their roosts are protected by law, this beautiful old building will be left to decay. It really upsets me that such a beautiful part of history will gradually be lost because a few flying mammals have infested it. Such a terrible shame!


Monday, 22 April 2013

Knypersley Reservoir

A few pictures from our walk around Knypersley Reservoir in Greenway Bank Country Park on Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful afternoon and it was so nice to be outside and not to feel cold! It finally felt like Spring! We had a lovely walk, followed by a picnic and the Podlings then fed the ducks and geese before we headed for home. A perfect afternoon with my favourite people!

Emma 'fishing' with a stick

The squirrels were out in force. We saw loads of them!

Lily in the hollow at the base of a live tree. In case you are wondering what she has round her neck, I had been altering a dress the day before and she insisted on keeping the fabric I cut off the bottom. She chose to wear it as a scarf on Saturday. Just so you know!


Lily enjoying the picnic

Feeding the geese and ducks