Sunday, 20 January 2019

Nerf battles and Ravens

Well, the ravens really refers to Ravenscraig Woods! Saturday the hubby and I had a rare day off together without any family commitments and, after a wee search online, came up an ideal way to have a quiet but doggy orientated day.

Firstly we decided to investigate Ravenscraig. Now, we'd passed signs for this wood when on route to Cairnpapple and were surprised to discover that it's also owned by the same trust that looks after Beecraigs country park. Unlike it's much larger more well known cousin, Ravenscraig is a small woodland that's been left to fend for itself. The signs indicated that the "long" 2.4km walk would take an hour and in the end we were about that long as all the arrows had worn away, so we kept taking the wrong path and ending up in dead ends!

Still, won't complain as it was a nice walk away from roads or livestock where Missy could get off the lead and hunt for mice. Craig, in the place names referred to here, comes from the Gaelic Craeg, meaning rock, and the walk was certainly very rocky as we would round a small hill that afforded a lovely view above the days fog.

Afterwards, we decided to check out the opening of the Paw Stop - a brand new dog friendly cafe located not sure far away in Bathgate. It wasn't fully functioning yet, and was more an open day in the way of "hi! We exist! Come say hello and have some free cake!"
Missy was much fawned over and was eager to tuck into her party bag. The place was crammed with dogs so I didn't manage any photos, but it looks like it's gonna be a nice wee set up. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll pop by and try the menu.

In the evening we had Foam Dart Thunder event at icombat Glasgow - basically, we got to go and play nerf games with a load of equally enthusiastic nerds in a laser tag arena.
And it was awesome. Again, no photos as I didn't want to risk breaking my camera or phone, but it was a great evening. Despite the mohawks and military get-up, all the people there were really friendly and helpful and had loads of time for us newbies. We did a version of tag, we played a few rounds were we had to get a 'bomb' into the other teams base (read that as a light up bouncy ball) and finished on humans versus zombies. I volunteered to be a starting zombie and think I surprised the kids (event was strictly 11+) with how fast my old feet can take me!
I've previously done paintballing and wasn't very keen as people took it too seriously, and friends of friends I know who are into air soft have put me off the sport by bing far too serious again and treating it too seriously. I mean, they're all toy guns at the end of the day!
So yes, was very pleased at how welcoming the community was to us! Definitely think we'll be along to another event or two, once the bruises calm down...

It's been a busy little week and I don't have much to show in the sewing side of things - I really must just focus on one project and not dither at the three! Hopefully there will be something to show for next week.

Till then!

Monday, 14 January 2019

A Busy Weekend

Well, I've hit the ground running for the year with two very busy days.

Firstly it was up to Perth for a girls catch up with my Inverness based friend. Owing to the hubby working Missy came along for the adventure and we managed a nice day first having lunch at Brewdog and then, after a wander along the high street, some tea and cake at the Bark and Chew.

Missy got some cake too as we all agreed that this was definitely the way to cater (or pander to be more accurate) to dog parents. Firstly Missy was given a blanket to lie on and then her own water bowl with a complimentary gravy bone before I ordered for her the puppy cake. As we waited for our cakes, we admired a spaniel (very bouncy) a dachshund (very dapper) and openly enjoyed the large GSD who could howl 'I love you' in response to his owners declaration of affection.
The cakes were absolutely delicious and I'm not sure what kind of doggy cake it was Missy got, but it certainly didn't last long!

Yesterday was a proper puppy play date - I'd offered to look after Maisie so that my brother could take our niece out as a belated birthday gift and,since they were dropping her off, they decided to bring Ben along and the three dogs enjoyed a walk around our old favourite haunt of Dechmont.
I don't have any photos of the walk as I was too busy puppy wrangling. Missy enjoyed chasing rabbits and Ben had a rare chance off the lead and bumbled along with us, keeping a safe distance from the puppy.

After saying cheerio and heading back to mine, both dogs relaxed and it was nice to see Maisie taking a reflective moment simply gazing out the window. A novelty I suppose for a dog living in a first floor flat, but she was very content and wasn't worried about going out when I opened the door for her or playing with all the toys I put out.
Chaos ensued when my brother turned up and she was suddenly a naughty little puppy again and jumped on the table! She then started barking and jumping on Missy and playing with her toys. He didn't believe me how calm and relaxed she'd been, so I'm fairly certain he's completely wrapped around Maisies little dew claw!

Sewing has taken a bit of a backseat. I'm dabbling in three separate projects based on how much time I have available and haven't made as much progress on any of them as I'd have liked. Hopefully I'll have a quiet evening or two and make a good push on some to have something to show for next week.

Overall a good weekend, but tiring! However there is no rest for the wicked and next weekend is booked out too for adventures. Perhaps one day I'll learn to slow down!

Sunday, 6 January 2019

A Chilly Start

Well, hopefully we wont continue the year as we've started! Everyone, Missy included, has the cold and generally suffering from January Blues, so I'll focus on the more upbeat moments of the week.

We saw in the New Year with friends and it was a real struggle to get to the bells. Missy gave up and was happily asleep for most of the night and we grown ups all decided to meet up again when the fatigue of Christmas had worn off for a take two of the evening.

Walk wise its been rather chilly and staying to the usual dog walks - we're hoping to get properly adventuring next weekend. We weren't stealthy enough with Christmas so Missy overly worried her paw and got an ear infection - thankfully that's mostly cleared up now so I managed to get Missy out for a photo shoot to model her Christmas gift from her aunty:

Every dog needs a Biggles inspired hat! Perfect for the cold weather adventurer! And if the doom and gloom brigade are right, we're going to have lots of snow again this year, so we may well need it.

The first week in January marks my eldest nieces birthday - shes (shock horror) now 14 and wanted a Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch which is officially her favourite Disney film) birthday cake. Knowing that she is truly of the Instagram generation, and that she had been up-selling her cake to all her friends, I knew my work was cut out for me:

I'm rather pleased with it! In addition to baking, I also decided that this was the week to blitz through my sewing "ignored-for-eternity" pile - we all have one, you know, that bundle of items where someones asked you to adjust something they could easily have done themselves, or you've bought something cheap and it needs tweaked a bit or previous projects that you hate the result of and need to just get away from it for a bit, that pile. Well, mines had gotten out of hand, so I decided that this was the week to get a dent in it.

Two dresses adjusted, a complete refit on a hi-vis coat for Missy (it was on sale for £5, it looked big enough for a pony but it was only a thirty minute job to fix!) and a reworking on a completely failed project. Background; I'd gotten excited about pinny dresses, I had a super cute fabric and was overconfident in my ability to self draft a pattern. The result was horrendous, it was like wearing a potato sack and was about as flattering as one. So I shoved it aside and vowed to get back to it.
Well, that was...two years ago? Must be. So I dug it out, popped it on my dress form and just took the time to see what was wrong and reworked the pattern. I added a waist, button side closures, tucked it in and shortened the hem and I'm pretty pleased with it (and totally regretting not taking a before photo! You'll just need to believe me about how awful it was).

Tada! And apparently they are coming back in fashion, so a double win!

Hopefully next week we'll have some adventures to share, so until next time!

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Last Post of 2018

Well, its that gap in the year between Christmas and New Year and it seemed a good moment to squeeze in one last blog post.

My sister, BIL and kids are safely back south after a terrific Christmas - since the last update we all managed Christmas itself including a lovely dog walk at Almondvale, a whole family Nerf battle and a visit out to butterfly world. We have certainly kept ourselves busy!

The Nerf battle is probably a highlight of the week; basically my eldest sister owns her own business and there's unused office space adjacent to her which we commandeered for the games. We started using Missys agility set as an obstacle course to warm everyone into it (and to ensure I got some good action shots of everybody) before chaos reigned and the battle started. I wandered about in a pocket of blissful calm behind the toddler, taking photos and ensuring no one shot at him, feeling very much a war journalist chauffeuring precious cargo through the war zone...
One of my big sewing projects ties into the family Nerf battle and that was a set of tacti-cool Nerf vests for my sisters whole family, including a teeny tiny one for the 18 month old! I've lined the kids ones with jersey to keep them warmer (a huge mistake in terms of sewing, such an awkward fabric to work with) and they worked out great in the end. 

The vests were a real item of envy, I've already had my older sister telling me that she and her eldest boy want one, and with talk of an Easter rematch, I think I may be skipping on buying eggs this year...

That's the only real sewing update, I've spent today working through the 'adjustment pile' - basically the stack of stuff that I've been given to hem, or I've picked up knowing the size is wrong but its an easy fix or sewing failures that I need to revisit when I'm less cross with them!

Well, I shall head off now and decorate my Hogmany cakes - we are going to see the bells in with friends and play some board games whilst eating too much cake and sweets. The perfect way to bring in a new year!

So, I raise a cup my cup tea to you and Missy and I wish you all a  Happy New Year.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Almond Valley

Its the most wonderful time of the year...

My house is officially full with my sister, BIL and niece (5) and nephew (1) and we are counting down the days to Christmas. Its the first year since I was about 19 that I have had the time in between Christmas and New Year off and I'm pleased to have family round to help fill in the days!

So today we did the Almond Valley Museum, Farm and Discovery Centre - more of a small city farm meets outdoor play areas. Its great, you can show the kids some sheep then move onto the trampolines then go and see the goats before playing in the sandpit. Despite a particularity chilly start, the day warmed up and, after a visit to Santa, everyone was warmed up and enjoying the day.
Apart from the cafe, everywhere in te heritage centre is dog friendly, so whilst Missy and I missed out on the Santa visit, she was able to keep up with her cousins looking at all the animals and running about all the different activity areas. I've done Almond Valley quite a few times now, and the favourites amongst my God-kids are the sand pit and the trampolines, so it great to discover that the sledge slide and the many play parks were the top priority of my niece and nephew. 

My sister was most pleased with the special Santa entry price, as well as getting to pet all the bunnies and my BIL seemed to just enjoy the easy going nature of the place - it was that perfect level of busy where there are enough kids about that the place doesn't feel like a ghost town and yet quiet enough that they aren't fighting over getting on things...

We've also managed to fit in some festive baking and, whilst I very much took charge, I am pleased with the joint effort of the cake I made with my niece:

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I have the joy of seeing what new traditions my sisters family have taken on - there is a much talked about 'Yule Cat' who is set to be a big part of tomorrow night and I've made some stockings to hang up for my niece and nephew. I hope they are pleased with the outcome!


As a final note, Missy finally got to meet her doppelganger in Cerberus form:

Until after Christmas!

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Summerhall Gallery

Its that time of year where no matter how hard you try, things dont quite work out to plan. Yesterday was the third attempt at getting out to the Summerhall Gallery to see their joint exhibitions: Invisible Spaces and Visible Girls: revisited. This gallery has been on my radar for a while now owing to the fact its dog friendly and I was simply waiting for an exhibition to catch my eye before heading over. With hubby working retail, our previous two attempts were cancelled as he was called in at short notice and I had warned him that Missy and I would be going ourselves if he was drafted in again.

Thankfully it didn't come to that! With our last "date" day in sight until after Christmas, we quickly filled it with glorious plans - a long walk in the morning, lunch out at the gallery and then the Christmas markets in the evening after a walk through the meadows. Firstly, owing to late finishes at work, the early start never happened. Then the yellow snow warning kicked in and, despite multiple layers, we were all frozen to the bone simply walking to the gallery and had to stop in at a shop and buy a jumper for the hubby. We could see that people were being made to queue to simply get into the markets and made a note that perhaps that wasn't going to happen. 

We did get to the gallery and the exhibitions really surprised me - I had expected to enjoy the Invisible Spaces one more, but the Visible Girls by Anita Corben was absolutely brilliant. Both the hubby and I lost ourselves to the wonderful portraits and were delighted to see that these punks and mods from the 80s had been, where possible, traced again and their portraits redone. I loved seeing past and present side by side, especially getting to see where such fiery and determined young women ended up. If it tours out your way, I highly recommend, its not a big exhibition, but you will find yourself reminiscing on times when everything was just a little bit rougher about the edges.
There was a workshop about archiving going on, and about how we should tackle that in a modern age. Getting to look though old negatives and slides was quite fun, but I didn't really feel like the statement being made was really that much of an argument. We discussed with the curator about whether smart phones have made us worse photographers despite better pictures, and what would happen with archiving a digital generation and then found ourselves drawn back to those portraits from the 80s and forlornly missing the days when you had your spool and the suspense of whether the photos would turn out or not.

Missy looking at the old negatives
We enjoyed some tea and cake in the gallery cafe and then shivered our way across the meadows. Even in her little fleece lined coat Missy looked miserable at being outside and we decided to call it quits whilst we were ahead of the game. Walking to the bus, we could see that the queue into the markets had only gotten worse and that the market itself was crammed with people. Getting home, cuddling up on the sofa with tea and hot chocolate seemed a much better idea, so thats exactly what we did.

I've been doing odds and ends of sewing today, cant really post too much about it (spoilers!) so I'll share some more of the Christmas crafts I've been doing, namely a new and updated wreath as the old one was getting far too shabby:

I've also started my Christmas baking (thank goodness for chest freezers) so there are cupcakes for my niece to help decorate when she visits, and some festive tiffin made. Next its White Christmas (an Aussie delicacy) and some short bread, and perhaps I may find the time to bake some real bread too. We'll just have to wait and see! 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Getting Festive!

It has been a very busy week! I've had the in laws visiting (and going and coming back again as they have used us as a stopover on their York trip) which means that there just isn't enough time to get on with things.

The in laws finished their visit by taking us out to the Chinese lanterns at Edinburgh Zoo. We did this last year which had a traditional Chinese theme, and this year they changed things up a bit by making it a myths and legends theme, including some British legends to go alongside the Chinese ones. Seeing life size unicorns and a duelling Nessie and dragon was a brilliant way to start the weekend, despite the lashing rain and high winds (a given when booking anything in advance!) Below are a few of my favourite photos:

After waving the in laws off, Saturday was a quiet day in with a poorly Missy (someone was greedy and ate too fast and threw up before spending the rest of the day feeling sorry for herself). With a wee ear infection, we decided to keep a cautious eye on her and were pleased when she was back to herself this morning.

After writing all my Christmas cards and boxing up the gifts that need posted, I'm really beginning to feel festive. Today was another (yes, another!) visit to Santa Paws but this time raising funds for the Dogs Trust. It was very different to the Christmas Market the EDCH put on as it was more a photo shoot with a stall selling Dogs Trust bits and bobs and a table with some refreshments, but was still enjoyable as we were surrounded by dogs. Missy as always put in 110% to show up the other dogs and her reindeer antlers were much complimented upon!

On a final note, I did get some crafts done this week, namely a new towel/dressing gown for Missy. As big whovians, I couldn't resist an upcycle of a much loved and overworn dressing gown! It was a well timed project as her poorly episode yesterday was spent snuggled up under it and having cuddles.