Saturday, 30 August 2008

Myth and magic at Tintagel Castle...

Our last day dawned bright and sunny, perfect for the long haul up to Tintagel Castle. It's amazing to think that people lived in such a remote spot atop the cliffs - life must have been hard, especially in the winter. Whether you believe the King Arthur legend or no, it's hard not to be captivated by the mystery of the place.

In the interests of supporting English Heritage, we enjoyed a hearty lunch at the castle cafe (okay, so I had a savoury "cream tea" and sweet cream tea - oops!). By way of penance, we elected (well, actually I insisted), that we walk up the hill back into the village. I can't say that I wasn't regretting it by the time we got to the halfway mark!

We found a fantastic shop in the village. It's owned by Peter Pracownik, a master of fantasy art who designed album covers for the likes of Hawkwind, Grateful Dead, Fairport Convention and the Groundhogs (yes, yes, I'm a card-carrying hippy). I was sorely tempted by an original line drawing of a dragon, or one of the many signed prints of his wonderful Tolkien works, dragons and elemental pieces, but I had to settle for a signed book (sigh). Guess what I'll be asking Santa for this year?

We were sad to leave, but it was time to go - until next time......

Friday, 29 August 2008

As I was going to St Ives.....

Despite the cloudy weather, by today I was suffering with the dreaded "sun-bumps". Not really prickly heat as it wasn't hot, but my skin just does not like the sun and reacts by coming up in loads of tiny bumps and blisters (sorry, yuck!). So, I reluctantly had to be "coat Mum" today (ie, I got to sit on the sand with all the towels, coats and stuff while the boys went boarding - hrumph!). I must have made a strange sight, sitting there watching the world go by whilst swaddled from head to foot to keep the sun off my skin.

The boys had a fab time, tho', and it made me smile to watch them all surf into shore together in a perfect line, high-fiving as they hauled their boards back out for the next wave. I thought I'd die laughing when Will came flying in on a huge wave and surfed straight over the top of someone's sandcastle!! They looked a bit surprised to say the least! Hopefully I might have some pics when the film is developed.

The evening was a trip to St Ives. Of course, we'd forgotten that it was Friday night so getting a table for dinner was a bit of a 'mare, and we couldn't get in at Coast, our fave restaurant. Luckily we did get a great place right on the sea front. The narrow streets and higgledy-piggledy old houses and ginnels remind me of Harry Potter's Diagonalley, so it's quite magical just strolling round the shops.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Hellboy - Guillermo del Toro - genius!

More waves today - just Pete and I as the boys were intent on "sand-settlement #3". Tide timing was spot on and the cloudy weather and breeze ensured much successful boarding : )

After watching the sand-settlement be destroyed by the tide, it was a dash home for showers, dinner and a movie.

The local cinema in Wadebridge is a lovely, traditional cinema (no ice-cream interval, sadly). Hellboy II was excellent. Guillermo del Toro is a superb director (if you haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth and like dark "fairy tales", beg, steal or borrow a copy - not for the faint-hearted, but fabulous imagery and wonderful effects). A quick pit-stop at the Spar and home to bed...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Eden project

Decided to give the towels a day off today and head off to the Eden project. It was every bit as good as we remembered it and we had a really good day.

We were a bit disappointed that they weren't doing the late night entertainment as it is really magical seeing the domes lit up at night, but this was made up for by the hands-on den-building and fire-lighting demo.

We scavenged a motley selection of poles, scraps of fabric, cut up inner-tyre rubber, rope and plastic sheeting and got to work.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Wet towels and Waves!!!

Quick update on last night - thought I'd wash the beach towels as they were full of sand. Biiig mistake. The washer wasn't working properly and the towels were soaking. There was nowhere to get anything dry (storage heaters = no night-time heat), so at 1.30am Pete was ironing (yes, you heard it correctly), the towels, to try and steam them dry. I was swapping them on and off the towel airer and the place was like a laundry! Got to bed about 2am, house steamy and towels still clammy and damp. Yuck!

This morning, towels still clammy, but worse than that is the smell - think wet dog meets old socks! Still, we are made of stern stuff so will be taking our pongy towels to the beach and waveboarding nonetheless!!! Just hope no-one is within sniffing distance - maybe the sea air will freshen them up?!

Waveboarding was fabulous, the tide was coming in and the waves were perfect. No sun so not too hot either. The boys made a fantastic sand "settlement" (far too big to call it a sandcastle). They diverted the water from the stream and created a brilliant series of moats around their various "buildings". It attracted quite a crowd by the time they'd finished. (photos still in waterproof camera, so will post later).

Hot showers (with the indoor towels thankfully), tea and a dvd to round off the day.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Pauline's and the first cream tea - yum!

Newquay today for wetsuit for Matt, new waveboard for Will (and a renewed hunt for the elusive Wii controller). Big tick for the wetsuit and waveboard, sad cross for the Wii controller : (

However, the boys seem happy with "old skool" games so I for one am pleased we couldn't get one, if I'm honest. It's nice to have some fun with good old-fashioned games, even if that does make me sound like I'm ready to hang up my pipe and slippers and shuffle off this mortal coil. Besides (cue cunningly evil laugh), I have a fighting chance of beating them at Ludo, but no hope of beating them on the Wii - muhahaaa......!

Today was also the perfect excuse for a trip to our fave lunchtime haunt, Pauline's, in Newquay. Huge cakes, yummy pasties and the friendliest service for miles. Good job I don't live here or I'd be the size of a house!

Next stop, Watergate bay for the first waveboarding session. Fabulous waves even tho' the tide was going out. It's the next best thing to, well, you know.....

Oooh, I could do this every day......

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Bodmin, Wadebridge and the great Wii controller hunt

We promised the boys we'd try and look for Wii controllers today so there was an early (fruitless) shopping trip round Bodmin, Wadebridge and then on to the Cornish Market. As the sun came out we dashed off to Carylon beach to build a sandcastle. What we didn't know, however, was that Carylon is more gravel than sand so it wasn't up to our usual, fortress-style standard! It did the job, tho', and obligingly collapsed as the tide came in - the key feature of any sandcastle-building exercise. Back home for fish & chips and Scrabble (Will won, despite a couple of hotly disputed three-letter words - where's the OSW dictionary when you need it?).

Saturday, 23 August 2008

We are off to Cornwall (stage two)...

Arrived in Bristol late last night and stayed over with Pete's parents. This morning we collected the huge food box Pete's mum had very kindly put together for us and headed off, armed with enough sandwiches, snacks and cakes to feed an army! (It's a long journey, ok?)

When we arrived, first priority for the boys was to set up the Wii - only to find that Will had left the controllers behind (!). This necessistated a mad dash to Tesco to see if they had any (they didn't) so it was back to the cottage for pizza and a hunt thro' the games the owners had provided. We had a great evening playing chess, dominoes and a particularly ruthless, "take no prisoners" game of ludo. Phew, we're a competitive lot!

(Oh, and there was no internet so I won't be posting this lot until we get back....)

Friday, 22 August 2008

Off to Cornwall!

Despite promising myself that today would be spent getting ready for our trip, I was still packing orders at 3pm and made a last-minute dash to the post office at 4pm to get everything sent off before we went away.

Luckily (and this probably makes me the ultimate saddo) I still have the same packing list I've used for the last 3 trips to Cornwall (can't believe I just admitted that), so at least I knew what to pack. A hasty dusting off of the buckets, spades, waveboards and beach tent and it was on to clothes packing. Of course, the weather meant everything had to be packed, from wellies and waterproofs to strappy tops and shorts - the bags were fit to burst by the time I'd finished.

As I had half an hour to spare (!) and the weather was finally dry, I had a complete brainstorm and decided to cut the front lawn (well, the grass was practically knee-high). (The penalty for living in suburbia and "keeping up with the joneses").

One cut, strimmed, and raked lawn (and one very full car) later and we were ready to set off. Cornwall here we come!!! yippee!!!

Guess the Mystery "Fibre"

Here's a recent gift from a friend. Had it not been for the writing on the bag, I would have tried to spin it for sure....

Just as well there was an English translation.....

Yes, Iranian candy floss! Not one to eat in front of anyone you're trying to impress (definitely not first date stuff), but wow, it tastes amazing!!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

"You only sing when you're spinning" (or dyeing!)

I got a cd player for the workshop for my birthday back in June and it was only this week that I realised that I choose very different music depending on what I'm up to in there. For tidying up and washing fleece it's rock all the way, stock taking is quiet "AOR", and dyeing can be anything from folk to rock, calling at all points inbetween.

The workshop is also where I do my singing, usually at the top of my voice and more often than not, out of tune. I have even been known to do a spot of boogeying while the dyes are cooking up (I keep the windows shut so as not to scare anyone's pets or small children). This week's eclectic selection was (in no particular order), Led Zeppelin, Linkin Park, Cher, Jethro Tull, the Hoodoo Gurus and the Lost Prophets and I began to wonder whether music has an influence on my dyeing. I shall be testing this out, so see if you can tell whether I was on a Stairway to Heaven or the Last Train Home (I'll name that tune in two - eek, showing my age now)

Anyway, before I "Ramble On" (sorry), here's what I was doing this week:

Here's Freckles Junior (left), just as he arrived, straight from shearing. He's a shearling so the fleece is downy and soft. Call me weird but I love the feel of raw fleece - I think it's all that untapped potential waiting to be turned into something exciting.

Grotty bits removed, a good bath, and the first batch is washed and ready for dyeing.

Some singing and dancing later (Cher eat your heart out), and here is the dyed fleece....

ps. Used the new program ("Gimp" - why did they call it that?) for editing the pics so if they're not great, my apologies - I'm still learning!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Slip-stitch samples and design inspiration

I had the pattern books out this weekend to do some swatching for my next article in Simply Knitting . Although I will do anything to avoid doing a tension square, swatching for a new design is completely different - exciting and challenging, fun, yet at times frustrating, all rolled up into one wonderful package.

Even tho' may be sure I've got the right stitch pattern with my first swatch, I'll normally do a good few more before I make a final choice for a design. It helps me keep an open mind and try new things rather than always sticking to "safe" patterns. I keep my swatches in a big box and often come back to them for future designs. It's amazing how often a design which didn't make the cut triggers off an idea for another project.

At the moment I'm really into slip-stitch patterns. I chose two for my felted designs for Artesano and they were such fun, I was keen to use them some more in my designs. So, as my next Simply Knitting project will be a cover for a workbox and will need a nice, firm fabric, I
was pretty sure that this would be a perfect excuse for a rummage in my "inspirations" box for a nice slip-stitch pattern.

Several swatches later and I've decided on my design. I also have some new samples for my collection and some more ideas. Later, I shall be trying out the new open source photo-editing software Pete loaded onto the laptop for me to see if I can put some tasters up for you to see (altho' he said it looked quite complicated to use so don't hold your breath!)...

Friday, 1 August 2008

Guild day - time to spin - yippee!

Had a great day today at my spinning guild meeting . The morning was an excellent talk by Val Hughes, showcasing her water, ice and snow collection. Words can't do these amazing felted, stitched and embroidered evening dresses justice, so if you get the chance to see Val's work at one of the stitching shows, be sure to go along.

The afternoon was spent spinning (in between catching up on the news). I spun up some silk samples I bought yonks ago and then andean plyed it into little skeins. I used the cute double whorl spindle (the middle one), which I got (and the two other ones - sheepish grin - ) from Anne Campbell many moons ago. I love it because it's so light yet beautifully balanced.

Here's my mini-skein close up.

Then it was off to the other extreme to spin some combed Wensleydale locks.

I found these locks when I opened my apron (blushes). Immediately wishing I'd brought my wheel, I stubbornly decided that I'd give them a go on the handspindle. Why stubbornly? Well, as you can just about see, the staple is about as long as the spindle (12") and my arms weren't really long enough to get a decent draw. I love handspindling, but this was a bit much, even for me. But I persevered and here are the original locks, the locks after being dog-combed and the small sample I made. Not as bad as I expected but I think one for the wheel next time : )

Came home brimming with spinning ideas and keen to wash a fleece I've been harbouring for a while now to dye up and pop in the shop. Freckles junior is a gorgeous, white shearling Ryeland and I'll be natural dyeing her lovely, soft first clip (altho' I may do a bit of synthetic dyeing too....)
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