Friday 27 October 2017

...time away

Last week we had 6 nights away, staying in a cosy little cottage nestled into a hillside in the North Pennines, near Alston. The moorland setting, the tranquil atmosphere and the freedom from our normal routines really helped me to relax and unwind (something I only fully appreciated when we got back to Leeds, and everything suddenly seemed incredibly loud and fast-paced and stressful!).
Husband got up early every morning to take the XXSCat dog for a walk and watch the sun rise. I managed to join them one morning but, with aching joints stiff from all the extra walking, found it easier to start the days at a slightly more leisurely pace for the rest of the week.
The first day after we arrived we drove into Alston, arriving just in time to take a trip back in time on the South Tynedale Railway. The 3.5 mile line runs from Alston to Lintley, with vintage coaches being pulled by a smart green steam engineOne can choose to return by train or (as we did) on foot along the trackside path. The pretty little station at Alston with its smartly painted signal box reminded us of Oakworth Station from one of my favourite childhood films, The Railway Children.

The following day we drove over  Hartside Summit, navigating miles of road which snaked up one side and down the other, to take a circular walk around Dufton Pike (centre picture below). The vistas and views we encountered were just breath-taking. It was lovely to spend time with Husband, talking about anything and everything as we meandered along together. The XXSCat dog just added a little more joy to the mix - she loved being out and about exploring the world, and didn't mind a bit being thigh deep in mud and cow dung on the final stretch!
Another day took us to the Birdoswald Roman Fort and a 'there and back' walk along part of Hadrian's Wall, marvelling at the amount of effort and hard work that must have gone into its construction.
Our final outing was to the High Force waterfall, following a path through the woods to the base of the waterfall, and then retracing our steps, crossing over a bridge half a mile downstream, and following the bank along the opposite side to view it from above. The mossy green and gold of the woods on one side was perfectly complemented by the rusty tones of the moorland bracken on the other.
Interspersed with all this walking and enjoyment of the Great Outdoors was a lot of relaxation - long, hot, post-walk baths, films, jig-saw puzzles, reading and knitting. I made a Debbie Bliss rabbit to go with the turquoise colour-pop baby blanket knitted earlier this year, as my friend's maternity leave was due to start this week. The new baby's older brother has a well-loved Debbie Bliss bunny made for him by his grandma, who has sadly now passed away. I thought it would be nice for his new little sister to have one of her own. 

The XXSCat dog was more than happy to chill out too, once the accumulated mud from the day's walking had been washed away.

Thursday 12 October 2017

The joy of line and colour in nature. The joy of finding the "leaf of the day". The joy of spotting a serendipitous heart-shaped gathering of leaves in a pond, set against a dreamy reflected sky.

The joy of knitting.
Wolkig cowl, in Cascade Heritage Wave (Tropical)

Saturday 7 October 2017 and receiving gifts

It was my neice's 11th birthday last weekend. Her mum is teaching her to cook and bake, so I got her a well-illustrated cook-book with step-by-step instructions for a whole range of recipes, and 'pimped' a jolly pink apron bought (cheaply) off the internet with an appliqued, hand-embroidered initial. If ever I need justification for keeping all the stuff I keep 'because it might come in handy' this is one of the little projects that will be produced as evidence in my defence! Iron-on interfacing? Tick. Fabric remnant? Tick. Embroidery silk? Tick. Happy hour spent chain-stitching and reminiscing to myself about 'O'-level Needlework classes? Tick!

Later in the week I completed the Rose Smiles scarf I have been working on as a surprise present for a friend at work. This proved to be a really easy pattern for a simple (but still very pretty) little scarf. She was so pleased to receive it and has been wearing it every day since! I had intended to make it for her birthday next year after she mentioned she would love me to make something for her, but when I discovered that her birthday was not until next spring it seemed like a better plan to make it and give it to her now, to keep her warm all winter!

Yesterday evening we went into Leeds City Centre to catch a quick glimpse of the annual Light Night celebrations. Last year my favourite part of the event was an amazing animated light show projected onto the main facade of the Civic Hall  -  this year it was the Town Hall, another iconic city centre building, that provided the 'blank canvas' for the display.

A group of other-worldly-looking mannequins posed on the front steps where wedding parties frequently assemble for photos. Images were projected onto their blank, screen-like faces while coloured lights and patterns and a sound-track of music overlaid with spoken vocals provided a haunting, evocative backdrop. The effect was absolutely awesome.

Events like this - provided free for everyone in the city to access and enjoy  - make me feel so proud to live in Leeds!