Sunday, 9 June 2019

Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway

Its been a weekend of two halves. Saturday rained. It poured and chucked it down. It drizzled and spat and was just a generally gruesome day. Sunday however, well, it may be cloudy at points, but its been warm and dry and just the right kind of day for getting out and about in the world.

Its been a funny weekend for reminiscing. We've got a friend visiting and, without really meaning to, we've mostly been recollecting adventures past and how things once were. My hubby and said friend are going to London for a boys weekend at the end of August (there's a wrestling match involved, so I'm very happy to leave them to it) and I was fondly recounting when I went as a kid with a family friend who, in the nicest and most fond way possible, is an absolute anorak, so we'd actually gone down to see some new plane or something at the time and caught a steam show too. It came out that our friend had never been on a steam train and we decided that needed rectified immediately.

The Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway is an oldie but a goodie - I've been to a few Thomas days and even without an event, the atmosphere is great and its busy. I like to see these little volunteer run places doing well and, as we waited for the train, we watched the model railway (house in an old carriage) and wandered about the engine shed. The place must be full of mice; Missy's nose was going the whole time as we looked about the old carriages.

It takes about an hour to do the round trip on the train, starting at Bo'ness and finishing in Manuel where they turn the around and head back down the line. It was busy enough that there was a good atmosphere but not so busy that we were going to struggle getting seats and soon we were on our way enjoying a picnic and admiring the view. We were sat directly behind the engine and there really is no noise quite like a steam train as it chugs along the track.

Missy was much admired by the staff, being mistaken as a puppy rottie, and her modelling skills got a good laugh (and a shot on the train footplate, not many dogs can claim that). After the round trip we decided to go on the harbour walk and let Missy stretch her legs. We had not real destination in mind other that a vague 'that way, towards Kinneil' and ended up going for a walk around a tidal island. 
The gorse bushes were clearly full of rabbits and Missy was almost yellow from the pollen when she decided to check in on us. As a treat, we spotted the train passing us by and I was lucky enough to get a shot of it before we lost it in the foliage. 

As I said, Saturday was miserable so I managed a lot of sewing. Missy was given plenty of walks and chased some bunnies, but wasn't in the mood for a soggy adventure and happily slept on the sofa whilst I worked away. I have a large project that I aim to start this week, but wanted to do a palette cleanse project first as I've done a few large ones on the bounce. This ones a gift for my sister who adores all things spooky:

There's a lot more to the set, but didn't want to clutter the photo too much - 4 place mats, 6 coasters, 3 big bowl covers, 4 small bowl covers (a must against the cats), 3 pot holders, the teapot cosie and table runner. I'm rather looking forward to offering to set the table when I next visit!

Although I am concerned her other house guests may start to presume she's a witch in disguise - or that she's gone completely batty!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

A busy week and Calmity Forest

It's been a pretty crazy week, but a pretty awesome one. 

After a whirlwind visit from the in laws who took Missy away on her holidays, it was a double family holiday to Disneyland Paris with my sister, her hubby and two kids. Its the first time I've done Disney with kids - my niece and nephew being 2 and 5 respectively, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it went amazingly. 

Of course there was some tantrums, but they were of the sort triggered by having too much happy - my nephew was inconsolable after two goes on Casey Junior, and then a boat ride and then a Mickey Mouse pizza! It was great to see the delight on their faces and see them truly believe in the magic of it all. I couldn't honestly pick my favourite parts, but watching my niece explore the Cheshire Cat Maze was definitely one of them!

Missy didn't miss out on any fun and was spoiled completely rotten whilst away with her grandparents. I was sent daily updates of the places they all visited and what friends she had made. She was returned to us Saturday morning and, at time of writing, is still sleeping off the week, much like the rest of us!

We decided to go to Calmity Forest today as it was pointed out as a good walk to us by the FIL when we were visiting Ruby. It was a delightful riverside walk that, in drier weather, would be a definite recommend. Its clearly rained all week whilst we were away as the ground is absolutely saturated through (and my garden has sprouted like crazy).

Missy certainly enjoyed the walk - she was hunting voles in the long grass and sniffing along the old deer trails. Its funny how empty the house felt without her, even with all my family staying. Very pleased to have her back!

I didn't get much sewing done whilst away, but I'll share this fabulous set of short dungarees I made for my niece as part of her Disney experience. Shes a big Darth Vader fan (and yes, we did queue to meet him) so I felt the print was just perfect. An added bonus is that the white bits all glow in the dark too!

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Ruby and Agria Dog Walk

A busy little weekend with all the family visiting - firstly I had the in-laws pop down on the Friday in order to meet a very important puppy:

This is Ruby, Missy's newest little cousin. At three weeks old, she's far too young to come home, but we were delighted to go and visit her. Despite a litter of ten, the mother dog was anxious as her puppies were held, but the in laws seemed to pass some canine maternal test and she was soon happy to let them have pick of the litter.

It was the Agria Dog walk on Saturday and Missy had won tickets to go along. We're always keen to support the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and the notion of a sponsored walk from Seafield to Joppa and back (3.1 miles) seemed a rather nice way to spend the day. Maisie came along for the adventure with my mum literally in tow. It was supposed to be a gathering of the cousins with Wee Ben, but last change work commitments meant that he missed the event.
We did have a bit of a laugh at my father in law who was proudly showing off little Rubys picture to the other dog walkers along the way. She's already a much loved little thing!

The weather held for the walk itself and we walked along the promenade up to Joppa and then the beach back down to Seafeild. Most of the dogs had on EDCH bandanas so its was really easy to see who was all taking part and it was great to see so many dogs at the event and Maisie is doing really well with her socialisation.

There was also a fun day afterwards and my Manchester based sister managed to arrive in time to cheer Missy on in the Prettiest Girl and Best Rescue competition. Sadly she placed in neither, but that's OK, she's certainly first in the opinion of the family!

Weather was terrible today so we split up in a boys and girls group with my sisters family and us girls went to Deep Sea World whilst the boys had a quiet day in. It was a really good day although it got very busy after lunch. Highlights were definitely the naughty hermit crab and watching the seahorse feed.

Now that I'm not worried about spoilers, here's a little gift I made for my sister:


A matching set - a project bag and sewing basket. The basket is an upcycle, the original fabric was  ghastly 60s throwback and the seams had given up in a few places:

Quite an improvement!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Fisherrow Harbour Festival

Its been a glorious week for weather. Tuesday hit low 20sC and its been shorts on and no coats. I had spotted the Fisherrow Harbour Festival a few weeks back as a recommended event on Facebook and had roped my friend into coming along to keep me company as the hubby was working all weekend. 

Saturday morning arrived and so did the rain. The fine misty rain that creeps into the bones despite the mild temperature. We were belligerent and decided to go on ahead with going to the festival anyway. There was live music, a fire truck, search and rescue and the good old guess the sweets in the jar. 
I think its a pity it wasn't nicer as the turn out would have been better, but we still had a nice time mooching about the stalls and watching the harbour being officially opened before Missy had a good run on the beach. It was a bit too chilly to hang about so, after watching the live band for a few songs, we abandoned our visit.

Ironically, my friends parents are so used to her going on walks with me and Missy that they have started recommending dog friendly places they've found. There was a garden centre by the Straighton Park and Ride they had previously recommended, so we gave that a try and were not disappointed!

I've had a productive week in the garden and in the house with my sewing. The vegetable patch is starting to take shape again after the frost and I'm pretty happy with how its coming together. I've started the annual saga of spring cleaning and keep fiding more fabric hidden away, so I've been thinking a little outside the box on what to do with it all. Sewing wise I've managed a string of projects, but I'll just share the one today as it ties in with the clean up:

Some lovely Winnie the Pooh storage boxes. I'm super pleased with these ones as I actually used some old plastic bag-for-life bags instead of interfacing to stiffen them up. I dont know about anyone else but I seem to collect these types of bag and half of them are ridiculously oversized or awkwardly shaped! A good way to use them up without throwing them out. And it saves my interfacing for other projects. A win-win!

Monday, 6 May 2019

Crathes Castle

It was a last minute change of plans this weekend! The hubby managed to wrangle a long weekend at the last minute and so we decided to go see his mother for her birthday in Aberdeenshire and to get a well deserved break from the rat race (you know you are getting old when you look forward to bad phone reception!)

I had the dentist first thing Saturday, so we had brunch and headed straight up in the car. The weather has turned and, due to an overnight frost (the neighbouring towns had had snow the day previously) it was cold and we decided to warm up in front of the fire. 
For those following my garden exploits, yes. The frost wiped out a third of the pumpkins. Thankfully I have spare in the cold frame I was saving for a seedling sale at work, so those will be staying with me! 

We had a nice walk about the fields and Missy was happy to watch and not chase the deer we saw. The bunnies were free game, but it was certainly rodents 5 and Missy nil by the end of the walk.

Sunday we offered to help next door who, on top of just having a baby, has ended up looking after her brothers dog in addition to her own. Missy has a Romeo and Juliet-esque relationship with Duke, the dog next door, and was unimpressed that his equally hairy cousin dog had come to visit. Duke is a who-knows-what that looks like a hairy carpet on legs and Pickles is a wire haired German pointer. They make a great pair running wild and boisterously playing, but Missy dislikes being outnumbered and waited till the end of the walk when they had calmed down somewhat to play.

The afternoon dog walk was a drive down to Crathes Castle, a National Trust site that, whilst dogs are not permitted in the castle or main garden, are allowed in the surrounding woodland. The sun had come out and the wind dropped and we enjoyed something close to pleasant as we followed the trail and admired the many dogs we met. We were lucky enough to come across a flyball competition and decided to watch a few races. Missy was unhappy with the set up, which is unusual as she's watched agility shows and competitions with us before. We think the frantic barking was too similar to the shelter for her. There was a small marquee selling treats and she cheered right up at the freebies and a new Kong toy!

Flyball - looks like good fun if your dog is ball-driven
It was a year ago last Friday that my in-laws lost Flash, and you can tell they are wanting another dog now. They have decided on getting their very first puppy together (having always adopted rescues) and are waiting on a little girl Hungarian Vizsla as their next companion. We'd all hoped she'd be born on my MILs birthday, but in true stubborn Vizsla style that never happened.

Today was a get up and go kind of day. We invited the rugs next door on the morning walk and were all pleased that Duke and Pickles were a bit calmer. Missy and Pickles were flushing rabbits from the gorse whilst Duke excitedly ran about with them - I'm fairly certain he had no idea what the game at hand was, but certainly made up for that with his enthusiasm. They all failed to spot a young roe deer with his antlers, and I wasn't quick enough on the mark to get a photo, but c'est la vie. 

Once we were all well walked we headed back in for some brunch and were dismayed as it started to snow. As you can see from the photos, though cold it was actually quite a pleasant morning - so we certainly timed that well. Once the weather broke we got in the car and headed home. Missy has been playing with her new Kong toy as we unpacked everything again and it looks like another walk and then a quiet evening. Well deserved, I think!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Bird Watching at Holyrood

This was to be a quiet weekend with the hubby working both days, but the thought of two days with no solid plan was too against my nature. Fortunately, a good friend of mine came to the rescue and a girls day was organised (Missy most definitely being one of the girls!).

The weather was originally meant to be pretty bleak Saturday, so we decided on a trip to town to do Holyrood and Arthur's Seat with the intention of finding a nice cosy pub once we were too wet and cold. It came as a bit of a surprise as the overcast clouds broke as we met up and the sun came out for us. Our walk turned into a meander before we simply gave up by the loch and decided to share some  chocolate mini eggs and watch the birds as Missy sunbathed.

A pheasant was strutting about taking no notice of the many dogs off lead. Missy gave up her sunbathing to stand and watch the silly thing as it confidently strode towards us. I'm not terribly sure what it expected, but eventually Missy gave a lighthearted run at it and stopped a good ten feet from it as it flew (she enjoys flushing pheasants, especially when you least expect to have a shrieking ball of feathers flap noisily past your head, but has never had an inclination to catch one) and it grudgingly stared at us from the other side of the lake.

Missy trying this bird watching malarkey
My friend will insist she isn't a bird watcher. She will compel you to believe that she doesn't take any interest at all in the sport and that she only knows her different ducks due to her father being a keen bird watcher. Well, as we playfully argued over the semantics of using the word "sea" to describe gulls, she pointed out pheasants, different ducks and then spotted the heron.
It was small by heron standards, perhaps a hatch-ling from last year, and it was creeping about in the reeds and doing a very good job of not being noticed. We both grabbed our cameras and waited for the moment it would become visible from the reed. Except it didn't move from them. It kept creeping round, one long leg moving after another long careful step. Missy had figured out we were looking at something and, sniffing, she stood up for a better look.

The heron opened its wings and glided away from us to the other side of the lake. Unimpressed, Missy returned to sunbathing as my friend and I compared photos. She had brought her telescopic lens so had managed some good close ups whilst I only had my basic lens and had caught the scene as a whole.
Deciding that that was certainly enough excitement for the day, we headed to the Auld Hoose and had the biggest plate of nachos you have ever seen. We couldn't finish it and Missy was allowed a few plain nachos. We said farewells, stopped midway home to walk at Almond Valley and then arrived home at four.
As the heavens opened.
I had a brief panic about my courgettes which I had planted out that morning, but decided there was nothing to really be done and chilled out with some tea and a good book.

Today was a quiet day. The sun was shining as promised and I did some more gardening (moving my established strawberries into a bigger pot and getting my Chinese Cabbage out of the seedling trays and into something a bit more suitable). For the most part I was rolling about in the grass playing with my macro lens. It was a Christmas gift and I've only just had a chance to play with it now. 

There was some baking too and then some sewing. I've just finished a new project, but want to do some matching pieces to go with it before I show it off, so I'll share a project from earlier in the week:

These were meant to be a surprise present for my nephew, but after receiving a picture of him grinning away in a set I had made his sister some years ago, I panicked about the fit. Turns out my nephew is growing much faster than my niece did! After a quick discussion, I've added some little extensions to the shoulder straps and my sister is confident that he should be able to wear them for a wee bit.
I'm going to skip age 2 and move right onto age 3!

Next weekend promises some exciting adventures, so I'll see you all then!

Sunday, 21 April 2019

An Eggcellent Easter

Its been a busy little Easter! The day was kick started with the family egg competition (I placed second, which is the best I've managed since we started getting competitive!) and then it was off to a family picnic at Muiravonside.

Finally! The fur-cousins posing together!
My brother had hoped to come, but as he works nights, it was always dependant on how much sleep he had managed. The thermometer has hit 21C both days this weekend and, with the blazing sunshine, Maisie wasnt letting him have any sleep. My mum offered to take Pouty out on the day trip and my brother agreed it was a good idea (spoiler, he clocked in five hours whilst we were out).

Piggy heaven
My sister (unsurprisingly) was late, but it gave us time to get the dogs worn out so they would behave for the picnic. Pouty stole off with half of my nieces sausage roll, but it was well deserved on my nieces part as she did try to push Maisie away *with* the sausage roll. Missy stole the entire picnic blanket and sat between the hubby and I, carefully watching for any stray bits of food. 

Then it was a walk about the farm. My nephew had had enough by then so went home with his mother whilst we kept Wee Ben and my niece for a proper walk. We decided to go on the river trail to see how close we could get to the aqueduct. I showed off my childish side by getting my socks and shoes off and wading in the river - Missy and Maisie both joined me (as did my hubby) but my mother and niece laughed from the sidelines. Wee Ben wouldn't entertain the notion of entering the water and watched from the bank.

The walk took us up to and onto the aqueduct so we got some good photos and enjoyed the scenery. By then it was almost 5pm so we called it quits and headed back to the car. I always put Ben in the boot with Missy (apparantly he wont travel in the boot for my sister, but he's as good as gold for me and doesn't make a peep) and Maisie (very soggy having being "washed" in the river after trying to imitate the pigs we saw earlier) sat between my mum and niece in the back. Pouty was feeling left out at not being in the boot (hence the first photo) but after a few moments decided there wasn't quite enough space!)

After dropping Ben and my niece off we went back to mine for dinner and Missy and Pouty played in the garden. Pouty loves the freedom of it and it was wonderful just watching her play and run about. My brother was very pleased to have her returned to him and we'd worn her out so much he even got a full nights (days?) sleep today, so was very chipper when wishing us a happy Easter!

Of course I made something for everyone for Easter! These little cones held a good handful of kinder treats (or, in the case of the doggies, a dentastix, some smackos and some biscuits) and I'm sure my creative family will find other uses for them. 

Today has been spent pottering in the garden. I have managed to get all my seedlings out of the house and either into the little plastic greenhouses I have or into growbags. I officially have a "corn field" (24 plants over two growbags) and several pumpkin patches! I'm in the process of fobbing off giving way my giant sunflowers (well, at the moment they are three inches tall, they have a lot of growing to get to their promised 8/10 feet!) and my work are doing a seedling swap, so my spare pumpkins will be going along to that. With half a dozen courgette plants waiting to get potted and put out, I don't think I'll have space for much else though!

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!