Sunday 11 December 2011

This last month...

Has had a few challenges for us.
We've moved into Cara the caravan, and tried to settle in. I think it would work if we had just one more room, and the awning worked as we hoped. We had intended to do all our cooking in the awning, and have space for playing, and hoped to eat out there instead. We've got heat out there, but the condensation has been a problem- it drips constantly (unless its frozen!). We stopped trying to cook out there (that only made it worse) and the girls aren't too keen to play out there much if we're not cooking. DH has been busy working on the leak along the side of the caravan ( in the awning) so although he'd had that to deal with, it hasn't affected things too badly.
As it is, that's meant the caravan living space has also been our cooking, eating  and bed space. Not great.
DH and the girls have settled in but I haven't.I think part of my issue with it has been that I'm the one out at work four days, without daylight eithe end.
After a bad day, involving a night of no sleep with a screamy child, I explained my feelings *very clearly* and after discussions we have given our tenants notice- we can have our own house again 4th March. That is a long way off, and coping ideas in the short term we've had include me having odd nights in a hotel close to work.
We're also not managing to cook food as we would usually- DH has had a busy week, but I realise that yesterday I managed to make a quick coleslaw in my parents kitchen, which just seems too difficult in the caravan. So I'm not inclined to cook, something I would do a bit more of, and for other reasons we've just not managed to eat as well- something that is bothering us. No chance of home made mincepies this year, even though I have seen the mincemeat I made last year.
We're having a night at my parents, and it feels luxurious to have the choice of a bath or a shower ( I really, really miss a bath), a kitchen with surfaces to use for cooking, and space to just be quiet on my own for a while- or the girls to be busy playing in another room. That's not mentioning the delicious meal Mum made for us all- fabulous!
I feel its been a really useful experiment-we know DH and the girls enjoy the caravan, and I would probably be ok with a dry awning space. If we were on our own land we could build temporary shelter around the caravan to solve a lot of problems, but we're on a caravan site and limited by that. I think this is an idea for summer- but a ppositive thing from this is that it has also got me to accept that moving to our old house is an acceptable choice. Moving there will give us a home, most importantly (to me, anyway!) but that also we can try to sell it again. We've reduced our belongings, so it hopefully won't be too cluttered, and we can really work on clarifying where we want to be for the longer term.
Our travels have shown us so many places seem better for growing our own food than windy wintery Yorkshire- but we need to find what really will suit us. So many adventures still ahead.....
There is one other thing that's on the cards, but until we've had chance to discuss it with a few more folks I won't say more right now.
I'll finish up with an apology- Christmas is hardly happening at our place. This year Christmas cards will be a miracle, and I've not got any shopping done. I have tried to delegate to DH- which hasn't really worked.
Normally Christmas starts straight after Big One's birthday, but I've really not been up to facing it. So, dear friends, we still love you but won't be showing it with gifts or cards this year. If we see you you'll get a big hug. If we don't see you, you might get an email if you're very lucky!

Thursday 10 November 2011

Birthday Girl

Big Ones choice for her birthday 'cake'.
A very special day, and even more special as a new little girl has today as her birthday- welcome baby Heather! And happy birthday grown up Rach as well!

Saturday 5 November 2011

More patchwork


Only a couple of pics at a time- some of mum-in-laws quilts on display this weekend.

Textile exhibition

Great grandma is blind now, but some of her amazing hand embroidery is part of the display in Crosshills.

Friday 4 November 2011

We have a pitch!

Today our caravan moved to a brand new pitch, and we have learned to put up the awning, albeit with half marked poles, 1 broken joint and incomplete instructions. It didn't rain much, and with only a fair amount of grumpiness (we needed lunch, not crisps) and we had it figured out within 3 hrs. We didn't finish until after dark though, so no final pic as my phone doesn't flash.
We're really happy about the living space we'll have, so just another week of getting moved in.
We had a quick trip to collect our Suma order this morning-we've not been for about 7 months but its such an interesting place to call into-the folk we meet seem happy in their work,helpful, and we get good,mostly organic, wholesale priced food. Fab!

This weekend DHs parents are running a textiles exhibition and sale, so we'll be busy hopefully helping, and I intend to buy loads of raffle tickets as the patchwork quilt Mum-in-law has designed and made is stunning!

Next week has a birthday in it, so time not at work must be spent planning and preparing, and a few trips out and about are planned.
I'm not entirely sure when we'll be properly moving, but its getting exciting seeing we've got somewhere real to go to!

Sunday 30 October 2011

Just another Busy Day

I've not have much to say here for a week or two, but life's been going apace as usual. My parents have returned from their holiday, we've been madly tidying up before they returned, and fit in a day of learning with Robin Wood to properly sharpen my carving knives with DH.
We have bought our home-to-be, a very lovely (and huge) caravan. We're just waiting for the pitch to be finished at the campsite, and hopefully that will be this week.
I'm spending most of my week working for a living, which is still enjoyable, and the novelty of getting paid happened last week- a very nice experience!
We had a trip to Leeds City Museum, which was so interesting Big One wants to return for her birthday treat- even more than she wants to go to yoga. There is a yoga class starting up, with the first one on her birthday which was just what she wanted to do- until recently. We'll see how things settle down before making a definate re-organisation I think.
We've been to the Square Chapel today, which prompted the girls to repeat the performance when we got home for their grandparents. They did all right- for the first 2 minutes, anyway!
We're planning to help at a Craft Exhibition at St Peters, Crosshills (near Skipton) this weekend- and, somehow, start to move into the caravan. Fingers crossed it all magically comes together!

The bits I forgot

I was rushing with my last post, can you tell?
We've also managed to catch up with friends who are dear but rarely near these days (Pizza Hut has its uses!), and I've been unsuccessfully attempting to crochet a shawl. I've gone back to the start yet again, and I'm on my third pattern. I'm trying to crochet- the knitted ones don't appeal the same way, but I think using laceweight yarn is just proving very tricky for me, let alone following a pattern. I think I'll try one more week, and then go back to small projects. I've not got the patience for big things either!
A quick snap of the family with 'Cara'. Her previous family named her, and the girls love the name, as well as the bunks!

Sunday 16 October 2011

Last photo

From our walk on Saturday.

Pics from a walk

We spotted fungi and a Little One up a tree...but my phone only lets me attach a couple of pics, that's why I'm serial posting.

Forest school

The girls loved getting elderberries to make paint, and then painting flags for bunting!Big One's photo has got lost though :-(
On our walk on Saturday we found a cave...

Busy weekend

Yesterday we managed to find a 'new to us' little patch of south-facing woodland to explore.
Today has been busier in the kitchen- 4 loaves sourdough bread,4.5 jars apple pickle and 11 jars apple butter.
This afternoon we got to the Square Chapel and saw a performance called 'Turned Out Nice Again' which was perfect for the girls. Both girls are easily scared by performances (and TV- octonaughts is too scary) so today was a first- they both stayed for all of it! Well, apart from a toilet trip. No scary loud bits or dark bits, gentle audience participation and lots of singing, dancing and physical humour. I loved seeing them both enjoy the show.

Friday 14 October 2011

Learning to knit

I've been going to a knitting class, and its worked! Two bus trips to work, two lunch times and one hat knitted, and a couple of hours last night had the second hat made and both sewn up. I will be asking for help with sewing up, as I definately need to work on that. I hope the smaller one will be lovely for a 1 yr old who I haven't seen for a long time....
Right, must round up the troops for Forest School!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Autumn crafts

We managed a walk on Sunday, and collected some leaves. Big One wanted to make a picture, and Little One helped make a candle holder. Good fun while DH sorted tea!

Sunday 9 October 2011

A 'weekend'

We've had our first weekend for a while- marked out with days at work before and the anticipation of the week to come.

My parents went on their travels, and hopefully they'll have a lovely few weeks away. DH and I have had time to talk, and have clearer ideas for our plans for the future, including how we'd like home ed to work for us.
We realise to make sure it happens, at least initially, we need time set aside to make sure we can follow where Big One leads. This week my parents have been upset about her learning to read (and HE in general), and I've realised that part of that (at least) is that this week Big One has decided to be interested in it, AND wants to do it with my mum (her favourite person, and knew she was going away). The arguements haven't been nice, but I (we) really hope things will be different when my parents return.

Not least because we've found the caravan we want to buy! DH is doing some tow training soon, so we've arranged to buy and collect it in a fortnight. Its just what we want, with a huge awning and sounds like lots of extras...but we forgot to take pics, so that'll have to wait until it really is ours.
In the meantime, I've been enjoying my bit of home ed. This morning we were in the kitchen so Big One made chocolate meringues with grandmas heavy handmixer (been to find ours in storage- it has a stand so little people can do it), then tuna fishcakes which went so fast I only got a pic of the last one, and the rest of this weeks bread. I hoped to get some cookies made for work, but that'll have to keep till next week.

Later we'll do some making with some pretty leaves from our walk in the woods today. I haven't been there for about 20 years, so it was lovely to share with my family somewhere I went to back when I helped out with Brownies! Scary how time flies...

Posted from my phone- please excuse the typos.

Friday 7 October 2011

Scrumptious Sourdough

One of the luxuries of being in a house is an oven, and I absolutely love sourdough bread. This is probably 2 thirds of our weeks bread- and for some reason it rose even more in the oven! A good day already.

Friday 30 September 2011

See the bouquet?

Its not every day I make a bouquet- I think this is the one and only. Lucky me, it features on the cover of a magazine! Mike and Petra were married at The Mother Magazine camp which we were at in the summer.

Thursday 29 September 2011

The last few weeks

We've been busy again, and haven't had chance to get some thoughts down.
We have had a wonderfully fabulous end to WWOOFing with 2 weeks at Lower Shaw Farm in Swindon. We all decided we wanted to return to our first host for the end of our trip, and I'm really glad we all agreed.
The girls loved the company, the playing but especially the animals, and we adults enjoyed, um, the same! We were only planning on being there 10 days, but Andrea said we could stay for her birthday celebrations, so we did.
While we were there, there was a Women's creativity weekend that I was a participant for, so DH and the girls had two days playing out, and generally keeping a low profile. I think that was a bit of a challenge at times, but I really appreciated the chance to try out new things.
I've been busy recommending LSF as a destination for families- we've had such a wonderful time and looking forward to planning a return visit next year.

We've returned to home base in Huddersfield, staying with my parents for a few months. We've started settling in, but that isn't going so well.
My parents have various holidays planned, so the idea was we'd be housesitting with a few weeks overlap. However, my parents are not supportive of home educating. In fact, they are anti-home educating and feel we are depriving Big One of a suitable education. She should be spending more time with children her own age (the slightly older home ed kids she chooses to play with are not suitable) and she should be made to sit down and read, write and do numbers.

That isn't what we want for her, and we don't want to have any conversation we're having about the girls turned into 'if she went to school/she should go to school' etc. Thankfully my parents feel it isn't going well- my mum especially is suffering seeing how 'deprived' Big One is. We are both quite firm on our opinions, but my mum isn't great at communicating around the issue and is feeling ill. My Dad quite agrees with her, but can talk to us about it.
This has helped us a bit, and DH and I realise that a lot of our issues with school education ( apart from starting too early) are about discipline, or the lack of it.

Anyway, to avoid a serious rift we've been asked to leave, and thinking about it DH and I are relieved. We thought it'd a be a struggle to share living space with these strong disagreements, and thought it'd be us saying we had to leave soon. This also means we haven't the choices we were trying to work through- I haven't the proof of income to rent anywhere, our tenants would need 8 weeks notice (and we don't want to live there) and that leaves buying a caravan as the way to go.

My parents go away for a few weeks in just over 1 weeks time, so fingers crossed we can manage this coming week.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

More baking

Big One wanted to be busy in the kitchen too. can't wait until they're ready!

Home baking

First batch of 'andrea's' sourdough just out of the oven. It definately won't last long! Thanks andrea!

Thursday 22 September 2011

Crafty moment

I keep meaning to share what I've been up to- when I get 5 minutes! This is what I've been doing: a couple of scarves, a hat for me, a felted hat that is more doll size than anything else, a plaster and paper bowl, a slate and silver necklace. Andrea has the other scarf I made yesterday- its her birthday today. I'm making a picture with fabric, but that's going slowly. I only wish for more hours in the day!

Thursday 15 September 2011

On to our Final WWOOF

 We’ve been hiding.

No, actually we’ve been far too busy having a brilliant time to keep up with the blog!

We had a few days near home last week catching up with DH’s family. An older relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer- thankfully she has a ‘good’ type that is responding to drugs. Anyway, we wanted to spend some time with her, and we haven’t seen DH’s parents since March, so it was very good to see them as well.

We’re back to our starting WWOOF host, in Swindon. Lower Shaw Farm has been a favourite with us all for all sorts of different reasons- from the tyre swings, to not needing to camp, to fun work, etc. We planned to be here 10 days, but we’ve been asked to stay a little longer ( which took no thinking about at all on our part- um, yes please!) so we’re having 2 weeks of fun. Sorry, hard work! We’ve had a day off today.

Big One on the tyre swing

Maggie and Charlie at Lower Shaw Farm


So far while we’ve been here I’ve adopted the chickens- Matt is away so I’m trainee poultry keeper, keeping them fed, watered but with lots of help collecting the eggs. We’ve been harvesting in the garden,a bit of weeding and digging, and DH has been building a brash ‘hedge’, and helping getting the first cafe of the term off to a good start. The girls have loved helping, from filling salt cellars to cleaning a play house, to feeding and moving the sheep, and of course playing in the play barn, with the tyre swings and cargo net. I was meant to be helping with the knitting cafe, but instead I was able to learn a little about casting on and off, and stocking stitch. I just need to remember to get some knitting 'sticks' and get practicing- Big One is keen to knit and I don’t want to hold her back! At the weekend we had an afternoon out to Coleshill National Trust Open Day, so we could look around a veg box scheme garden, and able to buy some Huuuge icecreams- they were officially for the girls but we all got a good taste. The goats there were well petted by Big One, and we all enjoyed having a good look at the water mill- unfortunately not quite enough water that afternoon to grind flour, but they had been milling that morning.

Little One on the Rope Swing

I have only cooked one meal by myself for everyone so far . I’m much more comfortable helping, but can do it if pushed, and I enjoy it once I get started! Anyway, cooking for 8 or 10 isn’t too scary ( especially with a kitchen that has everything to hand- from spices to graters to anything you might need), and the courgette lasagne went down well as did the potato wedges and beans.

As I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t mentioned I’ve been getting into crochet again over the last couple of weeks. My mum has a little furry scarf that she likes, but would prefer in yarn. I’ve known this a while, but I only just got around to attempting to copy it in crochet. I managed to use a 10 mm hook ( souvenir from Isle of Skye wool shop) and some nice extra chunky yarn from Castle Douglas yarn shop and very quickly whipped up a scarf. The first one I did is for me( well, I made it for mum but when asked about colours she wanted something different) the second is lined up for a birthday present, and then Big One wanted one of her own and I’ve just finished mums today. I’ve also made myself a hat- but it was a little loose over my ears so felting was the plan, and now sized as a newborn gift!Luckily we know a new baby-  hope she'll get some wear out of it..... Photos would help, but I’ll save that for later with my phone.

Today has been our day off, so we’ve been busy exploring- not only a trip to a yarn shop, but also a mosy over to Avebury- which is amazing. We’ve been to Stonehenge and were stupended, amazed, etc despite not being able to touch the stones. Avebury has a village within it, so it is expected that you walk amongst the stones, touch the stones and feel the magic. Today was a glorious sunny day- and I get the feeling there’s some magic left there. We had a lovely day with new friends- it was a LSF WWOOFers trip as our French and German friends came with us. Handy having a van that seats 6!

Julie has kindly just given me some pictures she has taken, so all images (unless I get organised and will label suitably) are thanks to Julie- I'm trying hard to place these pictures in the post, and it just isn't working for me. Its the girls bedtime, and I simply cannot do this for longer. Apologies for the random pics....
The Rooms at LSF

The veg garden and re-covered polytunnel at LSF

Avebury- WWOOFers trip out

DH and the girls at Avebury

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Woodland Opportunity in Kent

Anyone want to work some overstood chestnut in Kent?
We've been sad to hear the couple who were living in the wood,starting to work it this summer are being pulled in different directions.
The wood has mains water installed this year, and there's a caravan, tree bog and several shelters, probably a shower - we haven't been there for a few month so don't know how far the plans got before things changed.
We WWOOFed there earlier in the year, and the owners would ideally like a couple to be there for a longer term. If we lived locally we'd definitely be up to going to help on a daily basis, but unfortunately we can't.
Its beautiful. There's a small area of conifers that need felling first, but its mostly chestnut IIRC. The access road in the wood is a bit of a challenge, but you can also walk in from a main road nearby.
Get in touch if you're interested, and I'll pass your details onto the owner.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Saturday 3 September 2011

Final Camp

I'm quite sad, really to realise tonight is our last proper night living in our tent. Its kept the worst of the weather off us for the last months, and its been brilliant. Our stove has kept the temperature nice and hot when needed, and cheered us up in the cold and damp (and in the frost back when we started)- which fortunately hasn't been that often. I've been mulling over if we have one item that's been priceless, or something to really shout about - but I can't choose! Would it be our handy kitchen units? The hanging shelves ( thanks Sue!) our beds? our sleeping bags? The wellies that have lasted Big One more than a few weeks? The van that's taken us everywhere with hardly a grumble? I can't choose- I'll  mull it over and come up with reviews some other time.On other things.....

Our budget has gone completely to pot, and to put it bluntly, we've run out of money. We have money due in next week, but until then we're watching the pennies. I was wondering how we got in this situation- because it really has snuck up on us!
However, with a few hundred extra pounds for tires to pass the MOT, a few hundred pounds of lovely things like a kelly kettle, some interesting books and Austrian scythe(before these extra costs came to light!), another few hundred pounds for a replacement fan for the van, another £500 for extra storage for the stuff we didn't sell (our mistake-we forgot the 6 months would be up before we returned), and an extra 2 weeks campsite fees (yes, another £200) for not going back to a WWOOF host. With extra time not working we've done more driving around Scotland, which has been another four hundred pounds not included in our budget. I thought we had a pretty healthy contingency fund of about £1000 ( when our entire budget was only £4000)- but all our extras have got to nearer £2000. Oh well. Thankfully we've had tenants in the house and at the moment we'd be really stuck without that income.

Tomorrow we pack up and head to visit family for a few days- a relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer and gets some results this week, so we want to be around for them. We have our final WWOOFing 10 days at Lower Shaw Farm, our first ever hosts,after that, and we're really looking forward to it. They have somewhere for us all to stay, so that's how tonight is our last proper tent night. Sob!

Friday 2 September 2011

Rainy day fun

We found a park in Castle Douglas- perfect for rolling UP hill,lol!

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Holiday time

We've had a great extended holiday with N and J near Banff- DH's uncle and aunt. We had planned to be there a week, but with things not working out at Echo's, we stayed a little longer. We managed to fit in some carving- I made a spatula and a cooking spoon ( the best I've made so far, so we left that as a gift) and DH made a few eating spoons ( ditto- his best so far left for them). We were able to relax, do things at our own pace and not be obliged to work! We couldn't help it though, after a few days we were itching to help with their woodland. They have 30 acres, and had some thinning done last winter. They can thin without license, and although much of the thinnings is left for wildlife, some was being extracted by hand for firewood. With bad backs etc, this was getting a bit hard for N&J, so we were happy to help and have a go using timber tongs for a few hours some days. I really enjoyed that we could just do as much as we wanted- no obligations- and really enjoy what we were doing. We managed to find some carving wood- some sneaky sycamore was either felled and starting to put roots out, or still had a tiny bit of  bark to attach it to the stump, so was still growing and green. Dh said we couldn't bring it all, but he found some room for a bit of apple J asked him to prune while he had his chainsaw out.
N and J also very kindly let us use their caravan while we sorted out all our kit from the mud- giving us oppertunity to unpack the van and have a bit of a sort-through as well. We all happily squeezed into a 2-berth 40 (ish) year old caravan, and it has us really looking forward to a caravan of our own (with enough beds for us all!). We had about 3 nights in there, and especially enjoyed sitting at a table (without an audience for the girls to play up to/other people around for them to watch).
Moving back into our tent was like coming home though, and we appreciated the  nice short grass, level ground and generally fabulous camping place N & J have for us- even a couple of nicely spaced trees nearby so DH's hammock got an airing ( for the girls to play in, of course!).

I managed to finally fasten together some of the squares I've been crocheting. No plan or design, just squares Big One picked out of the book for me to crochet, in the yarn mother-in-law gave me ( along with book, hook and scissors!) for Christmas. One dolly size snuggle blanket. I've even adapted the design of a couple of squares to do what I want! I'm not too keen on the counting bit of following patterns- I still find it hard to figure out what constitutes a row, but squares seem a nice forgiving way to get on, and I like small things to do and complete, rather than a huge project that I forget where I'm at with- while we're travelling at least! Pic appeared in a previous post.
Previous posts have beach and McDuff aquarium pics, so I won't say much more, except we really had a great time.
Its taken me so long to finish this post, we've had another holiday, this time near Loch Ness. We stayed in Cannich, a lovely campsite but a bit midgy and very damp. The Loch Ness exhibition was really great, and the visit to the Isle of Skye was beautiful, though a long drive. A friend from back home made a 20 mile detour to visit us, and it was really, really lovely seeing them- just too short a visit!
We'll definately be holidaying up the west coast again. Ben Nevis on the drive down was shrouded in clouds, and Fort William looked worth another visit ( seeing as we just drove through). We almost met up with Wondering Wanderers, but they had to work so we'll manage that another time.
The Premier Inn that was our home last night is the newest we've been to- an even larger room than normal ( not that usual rooms are small), air conditioning, and smaller wardrobey shelves thing that's great for the girls to play in. We weren't sure about buying a meal, but when the pub had an all-you-can-eat chinese buffet, well, we did and it was a nice change.
Right, must get packed up so we can get to our next campsite for midday, and then enjoy grandparents visiting this afternoon.
We're realising our time on the road is coming to an end, but we've still got a bit more fun to have first!

Saturday 27 August 2011

Daytrip to Skye

We've not got there yet, but we found a lovely picnic spot by a sealoch and a view to the bridge. It's been a good drive across the country, but the best scenery is here at the coast.

Friday 26 August 2011

Holiday day

Midges aren't too bad right now, and we found the Skin so Soft as repellant! All of us busy and happy.

Thursday 25 August 2011


My mother in law got me started with crochet at Christmas. Here's a few of the squares Big One has had me learn to make, made into a dolly's blanket. Thanks mum-in-law!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

McDuff Aquarium

This was last week- I didn't have phone reception properly until yesterday so these didn't send. Big One is enjoying the 'hands on' part- starfish, anenomes, hermit crabs, etc all to touch!