Sunday, 31 March 2019

Mothers Day Gone to the Dogs

That sounds like it was a bad day, but it went very well!

Mothers Day Cuddles
Its been a crazy week. There was a midweek one day trip to Ireland for my Dads wedding which involved getting up at 4am, catching the first flight out, finding and gathering the clan, watching the vows, eating far too much food and then getting the last plane home. A quick turnaround owing to the fact hubby couldn't get the day off on the Thursday, but it was worth it! 

The green tea is extra green in Ireland!
Saturday however was a disaster. The car failed its MOT and parts wouldn't arrive till Monday, so there was a mad panic to try and rearrange Mothers Day and at the same time figure ou just how on earth I was going to get into work on Monday. Whilst I can work from home, Monday I'm chairing a meeting and I need to do a face-to-face handover with a colleague who's leaving the company and who's position isn't going to be filled straight away - somehow muggins here has been landed with taking on the extra duties in the interim. Public transport offered an hour and a half commute as a best case scenario (sorry Scotrail, but I've had too many trains cancelled to trust you on that let alone a connecting bus) so I was very grateful to be offered a loan of my sisters car. My insurance let's me drive other cars with third party cover and, to quote her 'its a banger anyway, third party is fine!'.

To be fair, it is a banger. Can only be opened manually from the passenger side and the petrol gauge doesn't work when the tanks more than half full. But still, it'll get me to and from work and hopefully I'll have mine back tomorrow evening. Hopefully. 
At least it's let me tick off another make of car off the to-look-at list - the failed MOT is the last straw, ours will be getting replaced before the road tax runs out.

So Saturday was a slightly outraged but quiet day for Missy and I. She's been stiff in the shoulder, so that was always the plan knowing that Sunday was going to be another play date with Maisie - our favourite Little Miss Pout Face. The quick revision of plans saw us organising a brunch at the Paw Stop, the little dog friendly cafe in Bathgate we went to the opening of with my mum and brother, followed by a meet up with the remaining Scottish leg of the sibling family back at mine.

The Paw Stop was pretty quiet, which suited us as it was Pouts first time in a cafe and we were quickly enamoured with the canine employees Tara and Nala. The menu suited us all well as we all found something to our liking (both pooches had puppy muffins and some ham at dessert time). We didn't feel rushed and enjoyed chatting as all the dogs played together or took turns chilling out. 

Tara: Is everything alright with the food?
Then it was back to mine to see my sister, my eldest niece (14) and nephew (9) and Wee Ben. Wee Ben doesn't like Maisie. She's really calmed down since she first showed up in October (well, in a relative sense, she's still bonkers who has to say hi to anything moving regardless of its opinion in the matter and is constantly running about chasing balls or anyone who may try and play) so I was disheartened that he wouldn't even entertain a sniff from her. Hopefully they'll figure it out, Missy has certainly decided that Pouty isn't as annoying as she was at first and plays more with her now - a blossoming friendship. 

We took them around the local park, and we all had a quick play in the swing park too as it was deserted, and all three showed off their very different temperaments. Maisie running circles and loving life (even if that meant a wade in the bog of eternal stench, sorry bro), Missy stalking through the undergrowth looking for small furry animals and vermin and finally Wee Ben, plodding along with the humans looking like an extra from an 80s glam rock band (his fur desperately needs cut!).

Afterwards it was cake and a chat. The cake was uninspired this year and I stole the idea off the mothers day card I'd bought, before adding in one baby llama for each of us, me, both my sisters and my brother. Came out surprisingly well! Although I was so keen to make sure everyone got a slice to take home I forgot to save any for myself! 

Maybe next time!

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Puppies and Poltergeists

Well, despite best efforts, we did not find a poltergeist on our puppy play date around Bangor Village Hospital. Both Missy and Maisie put in a good effort in their hunt for one but returned empty pawed. At almost 7 months old, Maisie is past the worst of puppy hood and Missy is much more inclined to the notion of spending a day together.

It was a trip out to Dechmont to enjoy the spring sunshine. The site was also chosen as it's not too bad mud wise (unless a certain someone wants to chase bunnies under the rhododendrons) and my brother didn't want to waste the time and money spent the previous day on Maisies trip to the groomers.
They certainly did something right, Maisie was so brilliant white she was almost glowing! We spotted a sign saying that the site was officially bought and set to be developed, so I don't know how much longer we'll be able to hunt for ghosts amongst the abandoned buildings. I'm glad to see it being developed, but think it a pity it's becoming housing - the local community will really miss not just the dog walking spot but the place were all the kids seem to learn to ride their bikes and enjoy the rarity of a large open space.

We all had lunch together at mine and then the hubby and I were gearing up for our second shot at Nerf battle at Icombat Glasgow. The place has had a big upgrade and everyone got lost trying to find the new entrance, but once we got there we had an absolute scream. I prefer the new layout and felt that I managed to hold my own this time, so must be improving! And only one huge bruise this time and (touch wood) my legs don't hurt from all the sprinting about - very pleased!

The weather today has gone back to a miserable wintery wind with showers, although when the sun graces us it's rather enjoyable. Missy has enjoyed a relatively quiet day being snuggled on the sofa with me or sunbathing in front of the French windows in the kitchen whilst I've been sewing. My current project is coming along swiftly, but isn't ready to show off, so I'll share a different project I finished this week instead.

A dancing skirt! Long story short, for national dancing I wear an Aboyne outfit and, when practising, we pretend to hold the skirt whilst doing the arm movements to the dance. At our last set of exams (I just did Highland this time) a lot of the feedback was that no one was actually touching their skirts. They were standing pretending to hold one whilst their actual dress sat limp. So the dance teacher has suggested a practice skirt, but why buy one when I have so much fabric stashed away? And so here we are, a monster high themed circle skirt - not bad for a self drafted pattern eyeballed off my official Aboyne skirt!

Just a short post today, it's set to be a busy week and I've barely begun getting it organised! Hopefully I should have some craft projects to show off next post!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Cammo Estate

Its been a typical Scottish spring weekend, snow one day and then glaring low sun the next - I cant complain, at least today was dry!

So, I've been playing about with the Dog Furiendly site that launched earlier this year and, whilst not complete, it does list some places I didn't know about. Last weeks Muiravonside was one, and this weekends walk around the Cammo Estate was another. Located by Edinburgh Airport, it was a quick and easy drive out and we were well rewarded with a nice easy-going walk where Missy could quite safely be off the leash and ignore all the other dogs in her quest to find small furry rodents.

It took us about an hour to dither around the estate and admire the strange tall tower and the canal. The offices are more complete than the main manor and Missy got lost in the old piggery chasing the ghosts of scents. In true dog walker fashion, we only stopped to look at the map as we were leaving, and realised there was a visitors centre. We had clocked a load of orienteering posts, so I think next time we pop by we might have a shot at that - its been years since I did orienteering. 

Today is St Patricks day and to be honest, its been a bit of a wash out. Normally something local is organised but this year people clearly aren't feeling it. I made a cake to match the colours of the Irish flag and made a point of wishing my Irish relations a good day, but that was really it. Perhaps next year!

Its that time of year when my sewing stash gets full of starry fabric and I have something strange in the works - with the upcoming Magic Circle competition, the hubby has asked for a Wizards Carpet Bag. Complete with several pockets neatly hidden away inside and a leatherette base and details. Its my first time using a bag frame and I was frustrated when looking for tutorials online which mostly referred me to use the instructions provided with the frame. Would have been good advice had it come with instructions! So I made it up as I went along and I'm rather pleased with the results:

I do love the print, and have enough to make a matching waistcoat for the hubby. I might give bag frames another go and make myself a proper Mary Poppins-esque carpet bag, but that's a project for another day!

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Revisiting Summerhall

Well, it's been a changeable weekend - Saturday was almost warm when out of the Arctic wind and today has been sleet and snow. Oorlich is a definite way to describe today's weather, and is a terribly fun word to say.

Saturday I took my mum out to the Summerhall Gallery. I had originally scoped out a new country park in the area but, being or the very fair weather walking type, my mother wasn't keen so we went for an indoors idea instead.
I've previously mentioned the Summerhall gallery, it's an interesting wee place and we caught it between main exhibitions, so just looked around at the smaller ones that were available. Some of it was pretty pretentious and high brow, but some evoked interesting conversation. My mother is not in any way an arts type, so it was interesting how the subject of grieving a memory you realise you have now forgotten impacted her and kept a steady conversation going between us. Even if it was merely trying to figure out how the topic was being expressed in a piece.

We did a short walk through the meadows both going in and out of the gallery and I had spotted all the daffodils in bloom, so Missy humoured me with some photos and spring truly felt like if had arrived, at least, when out the wind!

So imagine my surprise at snow this morning. Missy went out for a 5km run with the hubby and came back soaked through and shivering. She was quickly swaddled up with a hot water bottle - she is casting out her winter coat and probably found her sleeker summer one not up to the challenge of the sleet.

Difference a day makes!
The hubby and I had planned on going into Edinburgh and doing a non doggy day (a rarity, and organised well in advance with the dog walker coming in at lunchtime). There was two exhibitions at the National Museum of Scotland - one on robots (very much my mechanical engineer husbands kind if thing) and one on Scottish Samplers from the 1700s and 1800s (very much my kind of thing). We did the samplers first and, once the hubby realised exactly what we were looking at (he had expected tapestries, not the small practice pieces of sewing we were admiring), we both thoroughly enjoyed admiring the tiny stitches and the lost art of hand sewing. Looking at the mix of French knots, embroidery, cross stitch, eyelet and button holes, and black work we were both very impressed with the exhibition. It saddened me a bit that such fine art is really lost now (some of the cross stitch work was millimetres across) but it won't make give up the sewing machine. No matter how beautiful, I will not sew button holes by hand!

The robot exhibition was equally as good, if a bit of a gear change from the library like environment of the first exhibition. We were met with the creepiest life like baby doll robot I have ever seen and then swiftly moved into automaton and then the actual robots. I have a soft spot for automaton - gears and clockwork and wind up pieces fascinate me and I was very charmed with a rabbit in a cabbage that would sit up, bite a piece and then sink back down again into his cabbage bed. There were model solar systems and celestial clocks and a whole wonder of oddities. And then we were at the robots. Clearly the clever rabbit and planets could not hold the attention of the kids for here they all were - getting pictures with the robots and running about touching every button visible.

Well, we would go on a Sunday in the pouring sleet, so I can't complain that it was busy, only that I had been caught out by how quiet the first section had been! The robots first focused on the original classic robot/human design that we now think of and the different senses that they were trying to recreate from movement,  sight and touch to emotion and empathy. Some of it was horrifically uncanny valley, but some, like the robot with the bob haircut, were really cute. Lastly they focused on where the technology is going and to be fair, we live in an interesting age, so I look forward to seeing where it does go!

I've been lost in spring again with my sewing, and I'm super pleased with this completely self drafted pattern for a drawstring teapot cosy. I saw a similar design in Copenhagen and was charmed with the idea of a cosy I wouldn't need to remove from a teapot that was still relatively one size fits all (I've tested it on a few of my teapots and it certainly lives up to that expectation!)

That's all for now - once we reach April and we're officially 'on season' I should hopefully get some new adventures in, I've given up on the notion of an early spring to plan anything too outrageous before then!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Glasgow Botanical Gardens and Muiravonside Country Park

I've finally discovered a Botanical gardens that allows dogs - and with it being in Glasgow, it's not too far away for a wee day trip out.
The Glasgow Botanical Gardens is located beside the river Kelvin and is surrounded by the city. Missy and I were out with my friend and next time I would plan to park in a nearby multi storey or something as it was sheer luck we managed to get parked on the road (pulling off a swift parallel park I may add, my most hated road manoeuvre!)

It's still barely spring, so I didn't have high hopes of there being much in bloom and was therefore surprised at the blossom on some trees alongside swathes of purple crocus flowers. We were even treated to some bumblebees enjoying the warm weather (if 7C could ever be considered truly warm!).
Missy was not allowed in the greenhouse, so we took turns popping in to be bowled over by the scents of the hyacinth and daffodils before enjoying the more traditional greenhouse offerings of cacti and ferns. The architecture and design of the greenhouses, and some of the benches, where as enjoyable to admire as the flowers were and we quickly filled a few hours bumbling about like the bees we had seen earlier.

The only word of caution I have is the number of very fat, very bold and very slow squirrels about! I hadn't spotted any on the first lap round and, on the second, realised it was late enough in the day people were taking the small kids out to feed said portly squirrels. Thankfully my arm was not ripped out of its socket as I initially feared would happen when I realised we were surrounded by squirrels being fed by small giggling children (who would have had their days truly ruined should Missy have been allowed any length of lead). I managed to coerce Missy into a rodent free direction by physically holding onto her collar and turning whilst bodily blocking the squirrels from sight.
Thankfully Missy took my treacherous behaviour well and didn't make any kind of scene as she was escorted back to the much quieter herb gardens. The weather had started to turn so we decided to go and find somewhere to sit and have a catch up over some tea and cake.

Not quite tea and cake, but Loop and Scoop proudly proclaimed on the building to be dog friendly and soon we were enjoying churros and ice cream with tea (a heaven sent combination, I can assure you!). Missy got the wafer off my ice cream and had a nap as my friend and I caught up on each others lives and made plans for trying to catch up again sooner. By then the rain was torrential so we all dashed to the car and headed home - not a bad wee day!

It was a double adventure weekend as the hubby and I managed to get out to Muiravonside Country Park.  Out near Falkirk/Linlithgow it was a short drive away and provided a new place to explore. First we did the sculpture trail and then we did the much longer green route which took us alongside the river and through the woodland. The sculpture and poetry trail had a few nice pieces to look at and was also a 'play trail' so there was loads of rocks and sunken in tyres and such for children to play and climb on before finishing up at the little play park. I was rather enamoured by the converted dovecot which now has bat boxes:

It was an odd weather day with a strong arctic wind but, when free of it, was warm and sunny, so we decided on the long walk to give Missy a chance to stretch her legs before we had a look about the small farm. There was sheep and cows and horses, so it ticked all the farmyard boxes! We've decided to suggest it as a picnic point for the Easter family get together, so hopefully we'll be back with plenty of cake in tow! If not with family, our friends with small kids will really enjoy the country park too, so a definite recommend!

I have managed to polish off one of my larger projects - my new charm quilt for the bed. Ironically after my celebrating playing with Spring fabrics, this is most certainly a winter piece - but that's the peril of starting a project in the correct season, inevitably its finished as soon as its no longer appropriate. I'm starting my Easter sewing right now for that exact reason!