Monday, August 29, 2011

Staring at the sun...

If you are brave (or silly) enough to follow my ramblings on Twitter you may have noticed I have a penchant for photographing sunsets.

We are very lucky to live on top of a big hill.

Actually, I say lucky, but doesn't always feel like it when I have to struggle up said hill with a rucksack, two bags of shopping and a stroppy toddler who doesn't want to walk anymore. But I digress...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Riot Raffle

A few weeks ago I watched in horror as the events in Tottenham spread throughout east and south London. Like many people I was unable to turn away from the TV and found myself almost in tears as rioters and looters made their way through Camden and Ealing - parts of London I know, and where people I love have their homes - leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

More than a hundred homes were destroyed during the riots, and businesses estimate costs running into the hundreds of millions. Those hardest hit were the many small, independent businesses that still cling on in an already difficult financial climate. With no huge corporation to back them up many have seen everything they have worked hard for many years to achieve completely destroyed by a bunch of yobs in an opportunistic frenzy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#TheGallery - Capturing a Moment to Remember.

Friday was World Photography Day
"World Photography Day is all about celebrating photography and remembering how special a photograph can be."
So Tara dedicated this week's Gallery to capturing a moment to treasure, something to look back on in the future that would spark a memory. Unusually, she insisted that this week's picture be taken on World Photography Day itself (or at least over the weekend).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#TheGallery Black and White

Once again Tara has given me a wonderful excuse to share some pictures with you that I fully intended to blog earlier but never quite got around to it...
This weeks theme is Black and White.
I LOVE black and white photographs!
The absence of colour to distract the eye brings details out to the fore and lends itself particularly well to architectural images.
Whilst on holiday in Yorkshire recently, we visited the magnificent ruins of Whitby Abbey. The weather was, well, changeable. Wet and windy when we arrived, clearing to warm sunshine by the time we had made our way back to the entrance and the welcome presence of a vintage land rover based ice-cream van. Of course, the plus side of the dodgy weather was that the exposed abbey was almost deserted when we got there which made getting some atmospheric (ie: not full of tourists!) shots much easier!
So here is a selection from my Whitby Abbey photo album. In black and white.

Hope you enjoyed this selection - there are more black and white and colour photographs from our Whitby trip to see on the Tales from Mount Pleasant Facebook page (including the aforementioned vintage ice-cream van!)
And don't forget to head over to Tara's blog to see all the other Gallery entries this week.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Puzzlewood - A Forest Adventure

We are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
The Forest of Dean is approx 43 square miles of woodland, dotted with villages and market towns, nestled between the rivers Wye and Severn on the English/Welsh border. One of the best things about the area is the history that seeps out of every pore. Although now primarily a tourist destination, up until very recent times (and, to a lesser extent, in the present day) the Forest of Dean was very much a working forest, riddled with mine works both deep within the earth and open-cast.
Nowhere is this extensive working more apparent than at the fabulously named Puzzlewood.

Situated near the market town of Coleford this tourist attraction has benefited immensely over the past few years from BBC patronage - fans of Doctor Who and Merlin may recognise the surreal landscape - the attraction has been developed to include cafe, indoor wooden maze, outdoor Willow maze, play area and large picnic area.

The Puzzlewood itself is quite breath taking. From the moment you step through the living archway the light changes as the brilliant sunshine is filtered through the leaves of beech, ash, lime and oak trees that tower above.
The formations were created hundreds of thousands of years ago by the erosion of natural underground cave systems, exposing rich veins of iron ore to the surface which were then exploited by early Foresters, digging it out of the rock using little more than antler picks and rock tools.

All around there are amazing rock formations, secret caves, rickety bridges made of yew branches. The root systems of many of the huge trees are clearly visible snaking through the rocks. Everywhere is carpeted with bright green moss and ferns with the rich red of the compacted earth pathways wandering in and out of gullies and through clefts in the rock.

I was utterly entranced by the place! Needless to say, the Little Man and his two older cousins who accompanied us absolutely loved it! Indeed I would say that this small but beautifully formed piece of woodland could keep any child (and most adults) occupied and captivated for hours...

Meet our tour guide: a very friendly Robin kept us company!
What could be around the corner? 

Climbing the rocks...
Be warned though - the pathways are quite rough and ready, narrow in some places, steep in others. Pushchairs are not permitted within the wood and I would suggest that it is not for those who are at all unsteady on their feet or have difficulty walking. Sensible shoes are a must (I actually saw one visitor in wedge heeled sandals. I can't imagine she got very far!), as is old clothing. The paths can be slippy and little people have a tendency to run about a lot! The Little Man landed on his bum several times and the stains caused by the glorious iron-rich red soil are a PIG to get out!

Once we had finished having fun in the woods it was back out to explore the rest of the attraction, enjoying a picnic lunch (how refreshing to find a tourist attraction that actually provides ample tables for picnics with none of the "only food bought on the premises may be eaten here" signs so commonly seen elsewhere!) and letting the kids burn any remaining energy in the playground.

At less than £20 for a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) and no charge for children under 4, I think Puzzlewood represents excellent value for money and well worth a visit if you are staying in the area.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Win a Nick Jr Goody Bag!

This giveaway is now closed.

Congratulations to 

Lorraine Cooper

hope your little one enjoys her special prize :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Crochet... I'm hooked!

I know, I know - I am probably one of the last to jump on this particular bandwagon but a week or so ago I picked up a crochet hook and learned how to crochet. It's something I have been meaning to do for a while. I mean I have been knitting for years (well decades actually...) and I have had a go at pretty much everything - cabling, fancy stitches, colour, patterns, jumpers, jackets, socks, baby clothes...quite a lot of baby clothes come to think of it, more socks, bags etc etc. But for some reason the lure of the crochet hook has never attracted me that much.

Until now.

I blame this...

This - if you haven't seen it before - is a brand new magazine dedicated to handmade living. It's chocca full of wonderful ideas, inspiration, interviews, makes and general handmade loveliness. It is right up my alley and so refreshingly gorgeous it surely must be almost illegal.... (I am assured it isn't)

So, yes, I am absolutely in love with Mollie Makes. I dream that one day me or one of my makes might feature within it's beautiful matt paper covers. In the meantime I lust after dinky felties and crocheted flowers, scrummy interiors and to-die-for studio spaces (imagine a space totally dedicated to toys, no teetering piles of bike magazines, no spending half an hour tidying up before I can get anything out and then having to put it all away again so the Little Man can do Play Doh... oh, a girl can dream),

You see it was the flowers that did it.My Other Half suffers really badly from hay fever so real flowers in the house are pretty much a no-no (I do manage to slip some in when he's not paying attention on very rare occasions...) I'm really not a fan of chintzy, floral fabrics, preferring more stylised designs. But when I saw that gorgeous cover and knew that I could have a house full of flowers I loved without making his nose twitch!

So I had to learn how to crochet!  With the help of this tutorial I got the basics together fairly quickly (although I feed the yarn like I knit, with my right hand not my left. I'm sure I will work it out eventually!) and this was my first flower attempt...

Not bad but far from perfect. So I kept at it. Last night I felt confident enough to try an ACTUAL PROJECT. Coincidentally (not that I believe in coincidence mind you!) one of my fave reads the Angel Eden blog posted a tutorial a few days ago that was absolutely perfect - a Crochet Jar Cover - I could make something pretty with my new found skill and find another use for an old jam jar!

Wanna see? Of course you do...

Now it's pretty safe to say I am hooked - I love it! The simplicity. The speed at which projects grow. Most of all I love the way crochet lends itself to itty bitty projects so much more than knitting! It is much easier to pick up and put down when the Little Man demands attention and SOOOO much easier to pick up the single stitch if the hook falls out. If you have ever tried picking up an entire row of knitting when the needle gets pulled out you'll know what I mean...

So thank you Mollie Makes for inspiring me where all others have failed, and Abi at Angel Eden for the great tutorial :)
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