Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Half Term Snapshots

 Half way through the half term break, and this is what we've been up to:

We drove six hours north, to Durham. The weather was vile and I was full of cold but we listened to podcasts and Graceland on the way. 

This one came with us, enjoying most of the space in the boot and building a nest from our coats while we all sat on our bags and talked about how we need to buy a top box.

As we drove further north the sky cleared and it suddenly got so much colder. When we left home on Saturday morning is was an overcast, wet and windy 17°C. When we got out of the car at Leicester for a break, is was just as wet and windy but 6°C. My fingers were pink and stinging while I took Ziggy for a walk, and he was having none of it. I've never seen him jump back into the boot so quickly.

On Sunday we visited Seaham beach for fresh air, a chance to let Ziggy off the lead for a good run and, oh ok, the sea glass. 

This one managed to fill both his wellies completely with sea water within two minutes of arriving at the beach. I had to take him back up to the car and instruct him to dry his feet with the old tea towel we keep in the boot for muddy paws, give him my socks and put his trainers on. His welly boots are still damp.

I don't know if it was because we were so much further north, or the bitterly cold wind, or I was unused to the rare sight of the sun after weeks of rain, but the quality of light suddenly seemed very different; bluer, brighter, and with longer shadows, almost wintry.

Angus spent some of his pocket money on a small draughts and chess set and spent a lot of time playing with Bella, or anyone brave enough.

He's a draughts ninja, swift, silent and deadly. Don't worry though, I can beat him at Guess Who.

We left the dog with John's parents on Monday and drove up to Vindolanda in Northumberland. Based near Hadrian's Wall, it was a Roman fort and village which is now ruins and a museum. (Dog's aren't allowed as it's an active archaeological dig site.)

It's well worth a visit. The approach to history is imaginative, accessible and informative. 

Parts of the wall, like above, have been recreated, while the rest of the fort is a ruin that you can walk through and over, imagining how many people have done the same over the years.

The scenery around the site is stunning, but goodness it was cold.

Angus discovered Asterix books this holiday. As soon as he was in the car, he was engrossed, chuckling away to himself, hand in a bag of sweets.

We also took the dog to lots of new places. This is Penshaw Monument you can see on the hill, a Victorian folly which you can climb to although we didn't. Another time.

We also took a trip into Durham, the prettiest of cities, for a bit of shopping and cake. We ate a lot of cake. But it was a lovely trip all in all, despite the many hours of travelling. Lots of family time, fresh air, walking and hanging out together in an unhurried way.

Back home today and plans for the rest of half term include: clean the house, catch up on the washing and ironing mountain, bake lots of pumpkin related food, tidy the garden, chop fire wood, wash the car, admin, and a million and one other things.

And I will definitely be eating more cake.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Sock Weather

Octoberish things:

Enjoying the most beautiful walk through the countryside on Sunday afternoon with the kids and my Dad. I get a bit obsessed with getting to the woods during the autumn, especially these with the copper beech trees. It's been so wet, I am at work Monday to Friday...when it's dry enough for a walk, I pounce.

We've had so much rain that everything is still quite green, but give it a couple more weeks and it will be a different landscape.

I listened to the kids chat companionably with each other, teasing and laughing, and Angus asking my Dad a million questions about absolutely everything, as he does. Bella filmed Angus throwing leaves into the air in slow motion, I took photos of everything, soaked up all the autumn smells and feels. It did me good.

At home I banished all the baseball bats and raincoats from the peg rail to the hall cupboard, and gave it a bit of autumn love. I bought different types of squash for the kitchen table. Eventually they will be roasted and turned into soup, or possibly risotto.

I am rediscovering my love of reading. I do this every autumn, it's definitely to do with the nights drawing in and wanting to create a feeling of cosiness. My taste in literature at this time of year is usually crime fiction, especially if it's the English country house type plot. Fortunately my Dad also enjoys these kinds of mysteries and he always passes any he'dsread my way. (I'm currently reading Colour Scheme my Ngaio Marsh.)

 Autumn is also the time of year when I want to buy and read all the magazines. I can go most of the year without indulging, but show me the October and Christmas issues and I go weak at the knees. So far, all of these have impressed me. 91 is, as ever, worth every penny and packed with the most beautiful features and articles, Mindful Christmas has got a lot of good articles and original ideas for how to celebrate the season in a less consumerist, stressful way, and that issue of Mollie Makes (number 111) is their best in ages. There are a couple of excellent projects in there I really want to make including a Christmas jumper and some beautiful garlands.

And the second issue of South Coast Journal is now available. This is a free magazine local to the Chichester area and I write their food feature. It gives me such a thrill to be part of it, as I think they are doing something really special.

It's still not quite cold enough for a fire but we have started to chop and store wood in readiness, and I just finished, yesterday in fact, a pair of crocheted socks to keep my toes warm.

The pattern is Laverna socks by Vicki Brown and I chose Malabrigo sock yarn in Arco Iris. The colour is much darker than the photo on the website would have you believe, but I still like it. 

The bulk of the sock is made up of a pattern which alternates one slip stitch and one half treble, which creates a beautiful, diagonal weave shape. It took me a while to get the hang of though, as the slip stitches are impossible to get your hook into if you've worked them too tight. So part of sock one is a little tight and the rest a little loose, whereas in sock two my tension is fine overall. 

This has resulted in a pair of socks where one is marginally bigger than the other, but since my left foot is half a size bigger than my right, I'll pretend I planned it that way. The other socks I've crocheted have been bed socks, so I'm interested to see how wearable these actually are on a day to day basis.

That's all I have. Leaves, books and socks. Two more days until half term and I am clinging on for dear life.