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.


  1. The third picture from the top, the woodland scene with sunlight streaming in, is just wonderful - it so makes me want to be there! And of course, seeing the motorway sign for Ripon and Thirsk made me feel a little homesick :-)
    Sounds like you have well balanced your long hours in the car with being out and about in the fresh (cold) air.

    Gillian, I have a question, since you know so many recipe books. One of my nieces is mentally ill. She loves baking, and following the strict order and "rules" of a recipe can often help in making her feel calmer and better. Her Mam says a little recipe book would be the perfect Christmas gift for her. As we don't come across recipe books in English over here that easily, I was wondering whether you can recommend a specific baking book that I can order online?

    1. I'm sorry to hear that your niece is struggling with her mental health and wish her well. I, too, turn to baking for calm and comfort when I'm feeling stressed.

      I think the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf is a lovely introduction to baking, especially cupcakes and other US style cakes and cookies. I would also recommend How To Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson as her style of writing is so reassuring and warm. I haven't tried it myself, but Baking with Kim-Joy looks like a fun and whimsical book with great online reviews, and might appeal more to a younger cook.

    2. Thank you, Gillian! I shall have a look at all three and order one (or two) for my niece.
      Yes, it is a constant worry at the back of my mind. I don't get to see her more than once a year, but her mother and I are texting a lot, so I know what's going on - and often, it is not good.

  2. What lovely happy family photos - full of fresh air and fun. The October half term was always one of our favourites too - I think we might need to reinstate an October break although I don't work in a school any more.
    Love the way dogs nest!

  3. Fantastic photos, the one of John is particularly nice. Durham looks lovely, I've never been there, but I'd love to visit one day. Dogs do like to take up all the space don't they. We like a good Asterix book in this house too, and all the board games. I hope you have a good rest of the week. Clean the house and make pumpkin things are on my list of things to do as well. CJ xx

  4. What lovely photos of you all. Yes, I've noticed a different light here this past week, so fresh and clear and the wonderful blue sky is just to be marvelled at :-)

  5. Oh Gillian, thank you for sharing such lovely photos and thoughts of family and loving time together. It makes my heart full to read and see. A wonderful way to start my day from London, Ontario way far away.

  6. I think the light here in the North East is rather good, and yes the east wind is cold. You need your big coat. My sons loved Asterix too. Durham is lovely , has sucha good vibe, all those students. Dogs always get the best places.

  7. That looks like a super trip, amazing photos and it's always good to take the dog on holiday. We went on a bike ride out at Dumford bridge to Penistone on Sunday, I wore only a hoody as it seemed quite pleasant here but oh my I was frozen when I got out there. It is only half an hour away but what a difference in temperature!

  8. A lovely start to the holidays... oh, that sun! Hope you enjoy the rest of the week free of cold

  9. Beautiful.

  10. It does look arctic! Love a good Roman fort - they did build to last.

  11. There is definitely a different quality of light - a photographers dream. I am a teeny bit jealous because that is the sort of half term we would be having if we weren't building a house! But hey ho! Jo xxx

  12. Thanks for sharing your lovely family! These photos are wonderful!

  13. What a great start to half term you had, Gillian! I hope the second half wasn't to hectic. 'Normal stuff' can often be very tiring, but hopefully the cake eating helped!


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