Christmas at Chatsworth House

We visited Chatsworth House to see the Christmas decorations as part of our annual 'sisters Christmas' day out. The decorations are always beautiful and it is such a treat to take a day off work and do something purely indulgent and christmassy. The theme this year was 'Dickens' so there were lots of beautiful traditionally decorated Christmas trees.

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I know it's not very Christmassy, but I the toilets at the entrance to Chatsworth House are just so decadent that they are worthy of a mention!

Bonfire Night

A belated bonfire night post. It seems that we are building quite a tradition with bonfire night at the barns before we are even living there. Last year I really thought that we would be living in our new home but once again we were scavenging around the building site to build a bonfire ready for a Guy Fawkes night. It was a lovely evening, if a little chilly. In fact it became too light when the moon rose! We lit the fire, had a few fireworks and then tucked into some bonfire food and mulled wine. Then we enjoyed a couple of commercial fireworks displays across the valley (for free!) and had a lovely time playing with sparklers!

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Secret Christmas Crochet and Octopuses

Crochet Octopuses or Octopi?

I have been feeding my crochet mania with Christmas presents and also some more crochet octopuses. I thought the white octopus looked a bit scary so changed the eyes and mouth so now it looks a bit more cute rather than frightening. There seems to be a bit of a baby boom at work and with friends so have been using the premature baby octopus pattern to make a quick gift for them all.  I think I've been a bit obsessed lately although this will come more apparent when I do the big Christmas present reveal in January :)

Seaside Autumn Getaway

We have just come back from a much needed holiday away at the seaside on the Lincolnshire Coast. We have been finding barn converting and working very stressful this autumn so were very pleased to get away from it all.

We did lots of walking by the sea and looking for migrating sea birds (not at all knowledgeably), as well as getting plenty of relaxation  We came across an interesting art installation at Chapel Six Marshes; a 'Structure on the Edge' tower overlooking the sea which originated from Lincolnshire County Councils 'Bathing Beauties' project. Its a wind tunnel which funnels the sea breeze up from the floor and washes over the viewer who is looking out of tiny viewing windows. It's also pivots a small way so is a little unnerving when you move towards the viewing window and it tilts downwards.

North Sea Observatory

North Sea Observatory

Another interesting development is the North Sea Observatory at Chapel St Leonards. This is another Lincolnshire County Council project,but from chatting to the owner of the nearby cafe, it's been in progress for about as long as our barns!

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On our last day the beautiful weather tempted us out bird watching and we were quite surprised to see lots of birds as we usually find that as soon as we get the binoculars out the birds all fly away. We don't call them bird scarers without reason! We ventured out to Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve and managed to get there quite early before lots of people and had a lovely walk around the bird hides. 


We started our holiday with a visit to Gloucester to see Extreme Robots, the touring version of Robot Wars. It was great fun to see all these very clever robots all having a go at destroying each other, although it must be a bit heartrending after so much work building a robot to see reduced to a pile of bashed up bits and pieces. I loved seeing a Dalek up close too!

Revamped website

I've been a bit preoccupied lately with updating the website, so no making or baking of late, although I have been working furiously away with secret Christmas presents. The white heather barn website probably doesn't look very different but I wanted to spruce up the layout and lay the foundations for future development. Haha! barn conversion puns! This is still work in progress but is ready for blog posts, so I have no excuses. Lol.

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Curling tongs heat proof cover

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A sewing day with Nottingham Patchwork Group and I now have a heat proof curling tongs travel mat. I saw the sheep fabric and couldn't resist it. I used heat proof wadding and reflective ironing cover material and just sort of made up the pattern. I wanted something that wouldn't be too bulky but would protect the wand and be heat proof too. It had it's first packing outing on our Yorkshire holiday and passed the test with flying colours.

Crochet basket

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Another holiday and another crochet project. This actually was a bit of an impromptu crochet job as some yarn in a bin box called to me when I was guarding the bikes whilst waiting outside the fish and chip shop. You know how it goes, it's bank holiday weekend and you are just standing around not wanting to go too far (we hadn't taken bike locks), and the yarn shop is very close to the chippy, and the sale basket is just there and there is some interesting yarn at a great price. It was meant to be. I then had to come up with an idea for 3 balls of superbulky yarn which recommended 15mm needles for knitting. Whoppers then. However, since I happened to have all my crochet hooks with me :) I chose a 10mm hook and made a start straight away. I ended up undoing my first effort as whilst it was making a pretty sturdy fabric I wanted to make something that would stand up on it's own and could be used as a bin liner or similar so the following day I went shopping for a plastic bin or bag of some sort and saw the perfect item; a plastic flexi bag.

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Now I had something to work around for size.  All went swimmingly well until I ran out of pink super bulky yarn with not much hope of getting some more. You see how my projects escalate? So, back to the yarn shop (The Mill in Sutton on Sea) for something to improvise with to finish the basket. I ended up buying 3 balls of chunky yarn to ply together to make the right thickness. It was a bit too thick with 3 strands but this actually worked in my favour because the flexi bag was wider at the top than the bottom so I didn't need to do any shaping. Anyway, it was finished in quite short order with a bit of a flower embellishment to finish off the pink wool. Now I have a lovely crocheted basket that I'm not really sure what to do with. At the moment it is holding my current patterns, books and projects and being both useful and stylish! Just in case it looks like I spent all my holiday crocheting I can confirm that I did a lot of cycling and walking too (and some embroidery, but that is another story)!

Crochet Festival Hat

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This is one of my holiday projects. I seem to be unable to go away on holiday without some sort of yarn or textile project........there are so many things to make and so little time! Of course it depends on how much space there is to pack and since our holidays this year are again UK based and budget holidays due to the barn conversion, I had plenty of room in the car to take some rainy weather activities. Our holidays this summer were split into two separate weeks and two locations. For our first holiday to the North Yorkshire Moors we were largely blessed with beautiful weather and very purple heathery moors. Perfect for walking and photographing.  I did have a day out (!) on a train trip to London for work meeting but made the best use of my time on the train to start crocheting a hat. A request had been made to make a 'festival' hat for a friend of one of my son's in law, who had inadvertently binned his mates favourite festival hat. The only clue to what a festival hat looks like was a photo of a little girl wearing a crocheted girly hat so not really much use.  I was pretty much making it up as I went along. I used cotton dk yarn with two strands together and found a pattern on the internet and just got on with it adapting it as I went. It didn't go quite to plan as I had intended to do many yarn changes to make it look random but I didn't have a lot of room on the train so made do with a couple of colour changes. I did feel a bit silly trying the partial hat out for size on the train but I had to check that it was going to fit an adult, or in fact anyone. I finished the hat the following day and was entirely unsure that it would be suitable for anyone, let alone a bloke, but at least it was finished. I'm cautiously optimistic that it might be ok as the 'mate' has seen a picture of it. Miracles do happen.

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The Yorkshire moors in all their heathery glory. Apparantly the heather was in flower two weeks earlier than usual which timed it perfectly with our holiday.