Sunday, 25 October 2020

Trick or Treat!

Well, when your haunted woodland walk with your dog buddies from the walker, and the letter of the week is T, what else are you gonna do?

It was a last minute decision this week to join in on the walk. My sister had originally planned on visiting this weekend, then Scottish lockdown happened, so we agreed to a day trip midway and then Manchester went into teir 3, so that got cancelled and I've been a bit bummed out this week (post holiday blues haven't helped either!). The dog walkers usually have a Halloween party, but restrictions have put a brake on that, so they decided to organise a woodland walk and outdoor training session.

So where did we go? A pet cemetery! We had no idea the place existed, and it fitted in perfectly with the theme of the walk. There was some recall training and lead etiquette training (Missy, having passed her level 4 training last year thought this very beneath her, but she enjoyed the fuss all the same).

Everyone stuck to social distancing and dogs were to stay on lead as we had a reactive pooch leading the way, but we still had plenty of opportunity to chat with the other dog owners. 

In other news, today was a nice break from the rain we've had all week. Poor Missy was absolutely soaked yesterday and was in a huff for the rest of the day. She's prone to getting a bit of a chill in her old age and had cheered up substantially this morning after getting to spend our extra of the day in bed having a cuddle.

In sewing news, I have finished Project Christmas Part 1, which I will share after the event, so in the meantime I will share this little stitch:
I got the opportunity to do some test stitching for Acid Panda Crafts and was rather pleased with how this turned out. Its perhaps a little too accurate for the household!  

Saturday, 17 October 2020

An Unexpected Week Away


Its been a bit of a crazy week! As I've mentioned previously, Missy is an Explorer for Dog Furiendly and, owing to changes in restrictions in different parts of the UK, the opportunity for a last minute staycation in Durham was offered. Having the week booked off and, with nothing to lose, I put her forward and Missy was fortunate enough to be chosen!

We didn't have a lot of time to plan, and with the threat of new Covid restrictions in the North East, decided to keep planning relatively minimal and wing the week.


On our drive down we decided to stop in an see the High Force Waterfall. I'd found mixed reviews online about the best way to see it; either going to the Rabys Estate and paying, or going to Bowlees Visitors Centre and taking the free walk. With time of the essence, and some pretty harsh weather, we opted for Rabys. It was certainly an expensive 20 minute walk with £3 parking and then the £2 per human, but if you are short on time or have mobility issues, then this would be a better option than Bowlees (spoiler alert, we did that at the end of the week).

After checking in to the Heather View Leisure Park, which as explorers we were to officially review, we explored the local village and scoped out the route that would double up as the morning walk. Time to make the battle plans, we had a whole County to conquer.


Our first full day was designated to Beamish: The Living Museum. This has been on our to-do list for years, and we finally had a base of operations near enough to it that it was a feasible option for us. We had to pre-book, as most places do these days with Covid, which as unfortunate as it was the wettest day of our holiday. Saying that, we all had rain coats and umbrellas, so werent put off and we managed to find shelter for the worst of the squalls.

Beamish, whilst very dog friendly, does not allow dogs in the buildings, so we had to take turn about with Missy, however there is so much to look at that we never really felt like we were idly waiting about. There is reduced staff and some areas have had to be shut owing to the current way of the world, but it was still a really enjoyable day for us - we arrived for opening and were there until it was almost time to close, with a stop of course to enjoy our afternoon tea in the 1950s area.

Being a bit of a Downtown Abbey fan, the Edwardian village was probably my favourite bit, although Missy would say the Georgian farm was her favourite, owing to the pigs and the horses. The gift-shop at the end does allow dogs in, and despite being soaked, the staff were all very pleased to see Missy and she was much fawned over.


Our second full day was in the village of Barnard Castle. The castle there, unsurprisingly called Barnard Castle, is an English Heritage site. Having held our Historic Scotland passes for more than a year, we are eligble into these sites for free (and I'm certain the reverse is true for those thinking of a trip North of the border), so it made sense to bag a few of these sites whist in the area. Missy is a master of the spiral staircase and has been nosing around castles for years now, and this one did not disappoint.

Again, we had to prebook, and the staff were great with us. We were told were the hidden gems were and got the back story of the ruin before being left to find a sunny picnic spot and then explore. The staff also told us about the walk from Barnard Castle to Eggleston Abbey (which was a general free to visit site and didnt require prebooking) and, emboldened by the bright sky, we went for it (after a stop at the Ringtons cafe for lunch were we sat outside - there were plenty of dog friendly cafes, but they were all busy, which I like to see).

I'll confess this now, we are terrible ramblers. Spoilt after years of Scottish Heritage walks where there is a sign every 10ft, we inevitably get lost. So, if anyone wishes to follow this walk, read carefully: after getting to the river and following the sign to the Abbey, you end up in a caravan site. Do not panic. Follow exit signs and then go through the fields following the direction of the river. Eventually you come to a very narrow gate, just squeeze through and follow the road a few minutes and you are there. We, and another couple, all got lost in the caravan site and thankfully got directions from a visitor.

The Abbey is a quaint ruin and worth a stroll about, although we felt some more signs about it would have been nice. There are no facilities at the Abbey, so we didnt stay too long as the weather had turned and decided to risk retracing our steps.

Quote of the day, from yours truly, "But sheep are really intimidating!"


Our last full day was a revisit to the waterfall. We had done a touristy thing, we'd done a historical thing, so it was time to enjoy some of the nature that is considered part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We went with the Bowlees Visitors Centre route this time so we could compare the two. The visitors centre is dog friendly (though not in the upstairs gallery) and the staff were keen to explain the routes available to us. Armed with a map, we decided to go and see all three of the waterfalls available.

The Low Force Waterfall was first in line and we had the surprise of a film crew setting up a fallen bridge prop across it. They were very friendly and had left plenty of space for us tourists to go and awe over the falls. Then we followed the very nicely marked path up to the High Force waterfall. There was two viewing platforms, one literally across the river from the Rabys viewing post, and another literally on top of the drop.

To compare the two options, we preferred the second route - Missy is a dog that needs a lot of walking (she did 15miles and was still ready for an evening walk), and we were well equipped to handle the rough paths, however, as I said earlier, the Rabys option is perfect to allow those who may struggle on uneven paths or simply don't have a few hours to spare, so I'm not going to discredit the option.

After admiring the falls, we decided to give rambling another go. We had a map this time that clearly outlined the other half of the circular route, so what could go wrong? We went over to the Rabys Estate, grabbed some hot chocolate after deciding it looked too busy inside (dogs were welcome, but given the current situation we decided to avoid it), we set off.

It went well to begin with, there was one turnstile we had to pick up Missy and pass her over, but we found the right sign and were emboldened. I'm not sure when we ended up in the wrong field, but have to stress that at no point where we genuinely lost, we were just a field too far over. Eventually we could go no further and had to admit defeat and follow the road. Missy was disgruntled to be picked up and once more handed over a fence like a sack of potatoes, but accepted it with grace and as much dignity as she could muster.

We were only 5 minutes from Bowlees at that point and accepted that perhaps we should give up rambling for another year. In order to redeem ourselves, we made our way to the last waterfall: Summerhill Force and Gibsons Cave. I'm pleased to say we didnt get lost!


And that was us. There were plenty of ideas and options for dog friendly stops on the way home, but with all the castles needing pre-booked, we decided to just pack up and get up the road again. Its safe to say though that we found so many things to do that we are going to have to come back again.

But, perhaps, we're best to leave the rambling to the experts next time!

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Autumn leaves

Not along post today - it's been one of those odd weeks where I have been very busy, but don't have very much to show for it!

It's been one of those bright and sunny weekends that's cool and crisp. The kind of day where you start with a jumper, your coat, hat and scarf on mum long about the chill and then an hour later your stripped down to your jumper wondering if it really is October. 

The main highlight of this weekend has been catching up with friends. Saturday Missy and I enjoyed a 10km stroll along the canal with one friend, and then today the hubby and I caught up with friends we haven't seen since February. With the new restrictions, we decided on a picnic in the garden with them and it was a lovely day. So nice to see people in the flesh and not on a screen!

On a crafts front, I'm very pleased with this spooky dreamcatcher inspired spiders Web thar I put together to add to the growing window display. Missy isn't all that worried about Halloween (unlike Christmas) so it's been fun to dress the house up a bit and enjoy it without worrying about her anxiety.

Well, that's all for today, we have some pretty exciting stuff to share with you all next week, but I won't spoil the surprise! 

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Prancing about the Pineapple House

It's been another funny week. I've been in a flump, and then I've gotten frustrated at myself for feeling a bit blue which puts me back in a flump. We officially canned hopes of going away for our upcoming annual leave (we had never planned anything ambitious, but with talk of a circuit breaker lock down and restrictions getting more severe in other bits of the country, even a midweek break to Perth seems risky). 

So I've decided I'm going to embrace Halloween. I'm building a window display (expect some Halloween crafts next week) and we're adding some spooky embellishments about the house. We have some creepy audio books lined up for the evenings and have a list of classic horror (well, gothic, I don't like gory horror) movies lined up to watch at weekends.

There was another storm this weekend so yesterday was an absolute wash out of a day. You know it's bad when Missy doesn't want to go out! But that was OK, I spent some time prepping up some craft projects before getting the Halloween decorations up. 

Then today was the next letter for the #leadthewayatoz. I'd already decided on the Pineapple House for when P came up (I have a list of some fun places that will work for certain letters) so gave my older sister a call and a puppy play date with Wee Ben was put together. 

I love her to pieces, but I find it hysterical how different my sister is to me, from her atrocious time keeping to her wonderful optimism that the weather will be fine. Noting the rain from last night, I'd brought wellies to wear - at least my sister had trainers, but my eldest neice was in converse. There was much scuttling about the edges of paths and a few gallant leaps over puddles whilst I waded through it all and laughed at the shrieking. It was all taken in good humour, though I do not envy my sister and the laundry she will be doing tonight! 

My neice also got stuck up a tree, and then my nephew (I think to prove her wrong, as younger brothers are prone to do) also got stuck in the same tree. I got photos of it all, but alas, I am not permitted to share, so you will just have to imagine the awkward shrieks and many bottoms up in the air. 

I've been scrap busting again (in a bid to stop it getting as out of hand as it once was) and I was pleased to put together these tote bags. They are in preparation for Christmas as I am hoping to go a bit more eco friendly and try not to use lots of wrapping paper. 

Well, that's all for now. I have webs to spin and spiders to decorate! 

Sunday, 27 September 2020

A Coco Comatose at Laurieston Castle

So, before I start my weekly rambles, before you guess this weeks letter for #leadthewayatoz, just stop the bus. Go check out this:

Roxy has made a wool that is legit inspired by Missy. She hand dyed and hand spun actual wool in tribute to Missy. This must be a first in the canine world and, having been privvy to the month's of experiments behind the scenes on this (including but not restricted to a very odd call asking exactly what shade of tan she was (unwanted answer, it changes depending on the season and light)) I am awed at the effort that has gone into this. I'm almost intimidated by the task of what to make with it... 

And now back to regular programming!

This was a week of two halves. I won't lie, I've been rather blue this week. Plans for Perth visits have been cancelled. Plans for my sister to visit have been cancelled. And, after a brief high looking at places to stay for our upcoming annual leave, hubby and I decided it was probably best we shelve it for now and cancel any hopes of going away. Whilst the joy of an 8 hour day will never wear off after 11 hour shifts, I legit missed seeing and being about folk (safely, of course) this week too.

Roxy, also blue at her cancelled trip, suggested and organised an island play date on Animal Crossing with my avatar popping over and the kids showing me about. We had a call on loud speaker and hearing them babble away happily really cheered me up.
My virtual call that was meant to replace this months Perth visit didn't cheer me up as much as I'd hoped. My Inverness freind is struggling - she hasn't seen her mum since last Christmas, and with the new restrictions her trip has been cancelled again. Her brother is shielding, so she can't and won't take chances. The distance between us has honestly never felt greater. 

I woke up bummed out. Hubby is working all weekend, and wasn't really in the mood for coming up with something clever for this week and at first the #leadthewayatoz letter of J just annoyed me. Jupiter Artland was fully booked. A Jet from the Museum of Flight would be pimp, but it was frozen this morning, who wants to take turns going in and out of hangers in weather like this? And I would need someone to come with there. 
I googled for some ideas and struck upon it. Japanese Garden, who knew we had one in Edinburgh and, better yet, it allowed dogs! 

I messaged my friend on the off chance she was free and, hooray, the day was afoot. The drive was easy enough, parking a bit tight as the day was now glorious and it was clearly a popular spot. The Kyoto Garden of Friendship is just one part of the grounds and we had a leisurely stroll about them. Missy was in the mood to pose for me and we quickly got some nice photos for the competition. 
There's a Mimis Bakery on site too, and after a oreo slice and a hot chocolate in the nice sunny courtyard I was ready to fall asleep. We walked off our respective chocolate comatoses with another lap of the castle! 
Whilst my friend thinks I'm mad for the length I was prepared to go to for the competition, I think it shows that it's doing what it set out to do; whilst it certainly reinvigorates old walks, it's also to encourage people to go and find new places to enjoy. 

In sewing news, it's my neices birthday and I thought these dungaree dress inspired culottes were exactly what she needed. Apparently there is a little confusion as to what they are exactly, but when it sinks in that it's a dress she can run about and climb trees in, I'm sure it'll become a firm favourite! 

Feeling more upbeat for the week ahead! 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Vikings and Saxons

This weekend felt almost like a return to normal, which I've really needed. 

Restrictions are ramping up again and I feel like every tiny piece of freedom I have earned through good behaviour has been taken away from me because there are those who wont behave. So I was pleasantly surprised that the tourist board gave Duncarron Medieval Fort the go ahead to continue with their Vikings and Saxons event. The main rule (in addition to the 2m) was for everyone, Vikings included to wear masks.

The weather was that perfect mix of sunny but not particularly hot, which is what Missys like best. We arrived for the event starting and watched the Vikings parade into the village before browsing the stalls. Missy in was in full tart mode and was cuddling up to everyone who would look at her and was clearly loving the attention. After some axe throwing (which hubby was far better at than me), we were shown lots of weaponry and then watched some Viking fighting.

What was particularly nice was that as it was a re-enactment event for re-enactors, which meant that a lot of the stalls were selling supplies. Hubby got a very nice magicians hat that I plan to draft a pattern from, and I managed to get some really nice fabric. I'm justifying breaking my fabric buy ban with the fact that I have earmarked projects for it all!

Talking of projects, hubby convinced me to make a bag for one of his solitaire games: Castellion. Basically he needed a tile bag, but one wasn't going to fit in the box. The solution was obvious, make the box fit in the bag! 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

The Natural Nemorivagant

If you haven't guessed, this weeks letter is N. 
Nemorivagant is a rarely used word to describe someone who enjoys walking in woodland, and its a word that perfectly summarises Missy. So sit back and enjoy seeing her enjoy her favourite place in Nature, the woods.

Its been a busy week; the hubby took his brother to Alton Towers for a few days, so my first week working from home was really an alone experience. Missy kept me company, dozing away on the spare bed whilst I battled against IT and all the teething problems long term home working causes. I ordered a new monitor and keyboard through work and took Missy on a walk around Eliburn Park so that I could pick them up (which was handy) and then I lost hours due to IT just settling in.
But I got there. I had to borrow a chair from the office (I spent longer having to read the 8 page health and safety guide, watch the demo video and then provide contact details than I actually spent in the office) as I'm too old these days to hunch over a desk for hours. My sewing space has been completely dismantled and dispersed about the house, so every project seems to take twice as long, but my intention is that as I make a new space, I'll have it organised perfectly. I just need to persevere a little longer!

Sewing has gone well - I have completed two Christmas projects and finished my nieces birthday gift over the last two/three weeks. I have plans for another three Christmas makes, possibly four, depending on time. I cant share any of them just now as I don't want to spoil any surprises!

Hubby and BIL both survived Alton Towers in one piece and I think they've managed to get away with one of the last holidays again with the new restrictions coming in.
I'm not gonna lie, its wearing me down. But then I look at Missy and realise that perhaps I should think more dog, she's happy. She gets to go on nice walks and enjoy nature. She is surrounded in love and attention within the four walls we live in, more would be nice, but she's happy to just have us. And she lives in the forever now.
I suppose what I'm trying to say if focus on the little things that make you happy as we weather the big problems. And here's a picture of Missy being cute if you need help on a little happy thought.