Sunday, 30 June 2013

Big Hills and Big Skies

Yesterday we spent the day in the Yorkshire Dales with a group of friends who were camping near Appletreewick. The campsite is nestled in a picture-postcard spot right on the river Wharfe and as well as staying in your own tent, you can hire a bell tent or an old Airstream should you fancy. I think this is what's known as "glamping" and probably the closest I'll come to camping.

Our friends - six families in all - had set up a brilliant little camp with a communal kitchen area under a gazebo and lots of seating, and when we arrived a barbecue was going and beers were being opened, always a nice sight to be greeted with. Another family came along for the day too and altogether there were 13 adults and 14 children. I think. It was lovely, everyone was extremely relaxed. I hardly saw Bella and Angus the whole time we were in the campsite, they were so busy running around and playing and generally occupying themselves.

After a huge lunch I took Bella and Angus for what I though would be "a little walk up a hill" near the campsite. Some other friends came too and there was a little party of us setting out on this trek. And it was a trek, because as we got going it became apparent that the hill was rather steep.

It took Angus all of five minutes to find and slip in the nearest pile of sheep poo and he managed to get it all over my jeans. In fact, what with the sheep poo, cow pats, rabbit holes (just perfect for twisting ankles) and thistles it was a bit of an obstacle course, but of the most charming kind.

Angus did not enjoy this climb. Oh no, he did not. While Bella, surefooted and energetic, scampered to the top with her friend Phoebe, I half dragged/half carried Angus to the top. I bribed, I cajoled. I promised sweets. He whined and protested. He confuses the worlds "steep" and "heavy" and as we climbed he kept saying "Mummy, the hill's too heavy", over and over again. We waved at Daddy in the campsite below. I cursed John under my breath as I imagined him sat in one of those really comfortable camping chairs with a beer in his hand.

But the views from the top. Oh, the views.

Dry stone walls and big, big skies.

Not to mention the sheep.

The sun started to burn through the cloud cover and blue skies emerged.

I absolutely love the Yorkshire Dales, I really do.

The walk down was easier, just. Still very steep though. Bella ran on ahead and made me nervous with her fearlessness. 

Angus stayed closer.

Angus said that we'd climbed a mountain and I felt like I had too, city girl that I am. But it was worth it.

Today was spent pottering...baking, a quick supermarket trip, some crochet, taking the kids to the park on their bikes...eating. Lots of eating. The best kind of Sunday, the ones where you are quietly productive but in a relaxed way. Happy-making.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

52 Weeks of Happy...37/52

The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.

A little late but here all the same - joining in with the lovely Jen at little birdiehere are a few of the moments that have made me happy from the last week.

1. You guys! Thank you all so, so much for your comments and kind words, for stopping by and saying hello. Hello new followers, it's wonderful to have you here. And you all said such nice things about our home, too. I did only show you the tidy bits, I'm afraid. I didn't think anyone would want to see a photo of an overflowing washing basket or kitchen tiles that desperately need re-grouting. I didn't realise until people commented on it but yes, I do seem, to have a lot of radios. They don't all work - a couple are just there for the beauty of them or because they hold fond memories - but I have the radio on almost constantly and love it's company. I'm sorry that I can't reply to each comment, I just don't have time, but I've answered any questions in the comment thread.

2. Angus's stubborn insistence that Bella's Hello Kitty bicycle helmet is essential gardening attire.

3. Winning this lovely giveaway from Jenny at The Custards. I knew I'd won that fabulous little 1950's inspired coin purse, but I was delighted when all these lavender-scented vintage treasures came out of the jiffy bag too...buttons, patterns, thread, ribbons. Thank you Jenny! Her blog is testament to her love of vintage, and she has a pretty spectacular courtyard garden too - do pop over and say hello. I have been rather lucky in the giveaways lately...maybe I should buy a lottery ticket while I'm on this winning streak?

4. Foxgloves in the garden. They come back every year. I think they are beautiful.

Have a happy weekend, everyone! 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Colour Collaborative: June - Home

For me, any thoughts on colour begin with the question: what is my favourite colour? I feel that by now, aged thirty five and with two kids and two homes under my belt, I really should know something as basic and fundamental as this. But it's a question which leaves me stumped. I don't really know. It changes all the time depending on my mood and the seasons. My children are very certain of their choices, in that simple way that small people are of everything in their world; Angus, at four, chooses orange (probably because it's the colour of most emergency vehicles) and six year old Bella loves turquoise. 

I am frequently drawn to yellow. I love it, particularly that perfect, sunny, buttercup shade which always makes me feel happy. I've even devoted a whole Pinterest board to it. But I wouldn't chose yellow clothes (although I happily carry my yellow satchel around with me everywhere I go). My clothes fall into a palate of blues, whites, creams and greys, with the odd splash of pink or red. And I am very careful about how I use yellow in our home. (Except in my bathroom, then I do like a nice yellow wall.) It pops up here and there in radios, jugs, pictures, chairs.  

See, that's the thing about colour - it's never straightforward. What works somewhere, or on someone, doesn't necessarily work somewhere else.

I would have said our home was quite colourful. But when I look at these pictures, I see that perhaps there isn't as much colour as I thought. We've painted our walls in very neutral shades - cream, grey, pale green, white. Tones that are easy to live with, easy on the eye, which don't clash with everything else. Our house was built in 1948 and we've tended to choose furniture, patterns and colour with a slightly mid-century, retro feel, in sympathy with the house. 

So the areas of interest seem to come from the accessories, rather like in the way I dress. Colour pops up in the form of lampshades...

...soft furnishings...

... books...

...and crockery, pictures, flowers, family photos, plants, toys... the endless piles of wooden and plastic toys that clutter the place up, or fill it with the joyful evidence of happy children playing, depending on my mood.

What about you? How do you use colour in your home? Are you a fan or neutral walls or bold, strong colours? How do you use pattern and print? Do you like things to match or do you have a more relaxed approach to things? Please tell- I am very nosy and love to imagine what everyone's home looks like!

What is The Colour Collaborative? All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when they work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. Starting small, with just five members for now, we'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways. We're excited by where this might take us, click on the logos below to find out!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A Granny Square Throw (Mollie Makes Magazine)

This throw has been many things; a stash buster, a lesson in colour and randomness, a lesson in planning seasonal projects and something to keep my knees warm throughout this cold spring. I enjoyed it, then I became bored of it, then I enjoyed it again. I liked the colours, I hated the colours. Now it's finished you'll be glad to know I like them again. Very much in fact.

The pattern is from issue 21 of Mollie Makes, an edition which has "Seasons Greetings!" on the cover, which gives you an idea of how long it's been sitting on my coffee table. I started it in February and, apart from a baby blanket and a snake, I've worked continuously on this project throughout these last four months. Is that a really long time or a not? I don't know. I tend to be a project finisher. WIPs annoy me, I like to start something and complete it. If things drag on I lose interest. But while crocheting this blanket it occurred to me that there is a reason why blankets take a year or more to make - you need other, smaller projects in between to maintain interest. And I mustn't always be in such a rush to finish - I need to slow down and enjoy the process more. For sometimes, when you are tired and there is something on tv to enjoy and you have a cup of tea next to you, there is so much pleasure in those rows of steady treble stitches. No pattern, no counting, just soothing trebles that go on and on for miles.

The colours were from a big bag of cotton yarn left over from two scarves and two baby blankets, a big mixture of different colours and lengths. I became obsessed with using every last scrap. I worked out how much yarn was in one treble cluster (about 30cm) and how many clusters were in a round, then calculated how much yarn I needed for a certain round, and measured how much I had left in each ball. (I'm not crazy, I just had to make sure I didn't run out of yarn three quarters of the way round!) And so the colour choices were genuinely random, for the most part.

There are areas which are bright with pinks and purples, then areas which are predominantly green, then blue. It was in danger of looking quite sludgy at one point - I started calling it my swamp blanket - but I found some more purple and pulled in back from the brink. Getting the colours right is hard. One colour will impact not only on the colours either side of it, but on those two or three ahead as well. It's tricky to make that randomness pleasing to the eye.

The colours - those deeper, slightly retro, muted tones I seem to favour - work in our house. 

The border was a pleasure because when you're working on a border you know the end is in sight. It's just treble stitches crocheted into the top of each individual stitch and chain space. I like the crisp definition it gives the edge of the throw.

It looks great in our living room and it's home will be here, thrown over the back or arm of the sofa, or folded like this. It is not huge - it measures 105cm by 120cm, so definitely a throw rather than a blanket. The wonderful thing about cotton is how it is soft and lightweight but also very warm. Perfect for keeping the chill off one's knees during the British summer.

Also - blocking! It makes such a difference!  This image below is of the blanket unblocked. See how the middle purple-edged rectangle is wonky and tilts in a clockwise direction? And how my corners are annoyingly pointed and twisty? (I have no idea why that happens)

This is the throw while being blocked - it is damp and pulled into submission with pins.

And after blocking. It's not totally perfect but see how the inner rectangle sits straight and the edges are more straight and even?

And something magical happens to the weight and drape of a blanket after blocking. It just feels lighter and softer somehow.

I've gone on long enough. I hope you like the throw as much as I do.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Midsummer Rain

When it rains throughout the weekend of the summer solstice you can:

  • Make a Victoria sandwich cake.
  • Go to your local bookshop for coffee, cake and new books.*
  • Buy yet more peonies.
  • Finish the border on a crochet throw.
  • Go to York for the day; stroll around the streets in a raincoat, admire the Minster, have a very nice lunch out, frighten yourself stupid on The Wheel of York (think: heights, high winds and a very flimsily built capsule) then decide to buy divine smelling soap based purely upon the appeal of it's name from here.
  • Play with arrangements on the mantle piece.
  • Buy self-tanning moisturiser.
  • Block the crochet throw.
  • Lament the lateness of the strawberries this year.

Well it would be boring if the weather behaved itself, wouldn't it? And today Wimbledon starts so, like many other British folk, I will become tennis obsessed for the next fortnight despite ignoring the sport's existence for the fifty other weeks of the year. 


Our Songbirds is mine, a delightful little treat of a book full of enchanting illustrations and witty, affrectionate descriptions. Handmade Glamping is Mum's. I don't have a tent or a caravan and no plans to buy either, despite the seductivly styled, fairy lit depictions of camping throughout the book.