Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fabulous Finds

I've always loved antique furniture.  There's something satisfying about using items that have been used by generations before.  The items have more . . . soul, I guess.  Don't get me wrong, some things are better new: mattresses, for example.  I really don't want a 200+ year old mattress, thank you!  But, my desk?  My kitchen table?  Yeah, I'd rather have something old.  Besides, it's likely to be better built!

Anyway, since we were in the Cotswolds, I figured it was a good time to check out some fun antiques.  So fun.  There are loads of antique shops in the Cotswolds.  Sadly, most of it is just way out of my price range.  But I did find a couple of fun things.

The first of these finds is a brass door knocker.  Don't know how old it really is.  I wouldn't say it was actually an antique.  But it's very cute.
The scene is Corfe Castle, in Devon, and the village.  I completely love it!  I'm not sure if I'll put it up on the front door or not.  At the moment it's on my living room door.

The other fun find is this awesome antique money box.
It's got these 4 slots on the lid for coins.  Then, when you pull open the drawers below, you find that the drawers are subdivided into 2, so there are actually 4 compartments.  Cute huh?  The bottom drawer is just what it appears.  A single drawer.
The box is elm, from the early years of the 19th Century (1800s).  Isn't it fantastic?

So excited by my new finds!  Completely love them both!

The Cotswolds

Mom and I took short break to the Cotswolds.  That's an area in SouthWest England, for those of you not familiar with English geography.  It's a stunning area.  The villages are all built out of this golden limestone, so they glow in the sunlight.  Really pretty.  And, of course, the narrow winding roads!  You know I loved those.  I always tell Mom that the sign of a good road is if you have to change gears more than once!  And, if it's got canopies, even better.  :D

Feeling a bit sluggish (have had this sinus congestion for a couple weeks now) so I'm going to be really lazy and just put the Flickr Gallery here, rather than a walk through of what we did and saw.  I know, lazy.  But... it's either that, or you don't get the update at all!  Warning, though... it's LONG.  214 photos worth.  And, I haven't gone through and edited anything, or deleted the horrible ones.  So, you're stuck with all the warts and blurry photos.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Don't Miss Out!

Thinking of redoing your bathroom?  Need a bit of a sprucing up?  Have a look at my friend V's blog. She's got a giveaway going for $40 gift certificate that will give you a leg up!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Baby Blessings and Other Mischief

Remember back in April when I said that my friends M&J had their baby, Peanut?  Well, this last Sunday, he was blessed.  I drove up on Saturday to spend the weekend in Sheffield.  It was a double blessing (first seeing M&J and the baby!): My Mom got to meet all the wonderful people I became friends with when I lived up North.  We stayed with the Bradbury Family (whom I always refer to as "the Redheaded Family" because all 3 of the kids and their dad are ginger, and their mum's a bit on the ginger side.)  They live nearest M&J, and I love them DEARLY. In a perfect world I'd get to live near all my favourite people.  *sigh*  Someday, yes?  We also had a lovely visit with my friend Sarah, whom I haven't seen in years!  She up and moved to Australia for a year, then got hitched and moved farther North, so it's a little more complicated to see her.  *grumble*  Anyway, we had a grand time visiting with her and her family after the blessing on Sunday.  Also, J's favourite cake in the world is my Spice Cake.  So she asked me to make one for the dinner after the blessing.  Naturally I couldn't just do a plain cake.  I had to make it pretty!  Now, I'm SO not a pro-baker.  But, I do enjoy playing around with the decorating.  I'd love to have mad skills, but sadly the combination of heat and car vibrations on the 4 hour drive north didn't do my feeble attempts to make it cute any favours.  But here's what it looked like when I first finished it off:

My mother made the baby booties and I did the rest.  (If you want the recipe, here's the link.)

So, since we were going to be up north all weekend, we made plans to visit the Lake District.  I'd never been before, so thought it would be the perfect opportunity to check it out.  I booked a place at a National Trust place.  They have various cottages and flats that they rent out.  We stayed at Acorn Bank.  It was a wonderful spot!  Just outside of Penrith.  We totally had a ball walking through the countryside.  I especially enjoyed driving the crazy narrow winding roads.  The best bit was this one bump, where you went over it and our stomachs dropped out from under us!  It was fantastic!  (Yes, I know.  I'm nuts.)

Here's some photos of the walks we did.

 The Lake District is also famously where Beatrix Potter lived for many years.  In fact, she bought many of the farms in the area, and left them in a trust (now called the National Trust, which is now the US equivalent of the National Parks) upon her death.  Many of the stories she wrote are set in and around the area, either inspired by her visits to the area as a child, or once she had returned to live as an adult.  In fact, if you pay attention to the stories, you can recognise the locations and even the streets!  It's pretty cool.  We went to Hill Top Farm (her home), but it was raining, so we didn't want to wait the hour before we could get in.  Instead, we went to the "Beatrix Potter's World".  It had scenes from all the books done out in gorgeous diorama.  Really delicate and pretty.  They also had a kitchen garden set out like Mr McGregor's Garden, complete with Peter's jacket and shoes!

On Wednesday, we started back home, but rather than driving across on the Moterway, we drove along Hadrian's Wall.  It was great exploring the ruined forts and walking along the wall, hiking up to the beautiful crags.  At least, that is, until I took a tumble and twisted my ankle.  As many of you know, this is not an unusual occurrence for me!  I did manage to walk it off, but it was getting late, and we still had a long drive South to make, so we decided to call it a day.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Great weekend and fun couple of days in the Lake District.  I totally recommend it to anyone!

Friday, 2 July 2010

My New Favourite Place

My mom's in town!  Wooo hoo!  And, since she's here, I figured it'd be great fun to enjoy some English Traveling.  So, Tuesday (last week) I was thinking about various places we could go and thought, I've never been to the Channel Islands.  So, suggested to mom that we see about going there.  Jumped on the internet, found cheap flights and a hotel, and we took off the next day!  Got in late Wednesday afternoon.

Had a wonderful walk down from the hotel to St Brelade's Bay.  It short, but VERY steep.  Our hotel was up on the ridge.  Then, once we got down to the bay, we discovered a fabulous promenade all the way along the bay, with fantastic restaurants.  We had dinner at the Crab Shack.  Yummy brochette and crab cakes. Yum!

Of course, dinner's not finished until you've had dessert, and what sort of dessert would you go for, when on Jersey, than Jersey Cream Ice Cream?  Yeay!

After our lovely dinner we walked along the beach. The tide was out, and in Jersey that's really saying something!  We walked down to the outcropping of rocks at one end of the bay and had fun climbing around them looking into the tide pools.

In the morning we rented a car (parking on Jersey is challenging.  Actually, the parking isn't so bad, it's the PAYING for the parking that's frustrating) and went out to the "new" Elizabeth Castle.  It was built starting in 1600 to replace the older castle which was not really suitable for gunpowder warfare.  It was cool, but really the walk out (it was low tide) and back was our favourite part.  Well, that and seeing the nesting Oyster Catcher bird and the Oyster Catcher with 3 chicks!  Adorable balls of fluff on legs (with LONG beaks.)


 This is the Oyster Catcher bird.  It looks like she's caged in, but she's not.  It's open on both ends.  It's to give her protection from the tourists taking photos (she's RIGHT text to the path!)

Since the path is only walkable during low tide, and not everyone wants to walk, they have an amphibious vehicle to shuttle tourists back and forth to the Castle.  Mom and I walked both ways, but we had to be sure not to get caught by the tide on the rout back.

After our foray to Elizabeth Castle, we went up to the older Mont Orgueil.  This turned out to be our absolute favourite stop of the whole island!  First of all, it's a "proper" castle.  Meaning, it's a "bows and arrows" castle with towers and a curtain wall and courtyards and what you think of when you hear the word "castle".  We got there rather late in the day, and spent the rest of the afternoon exploring every nook and cranny, every tower and every cellar.  And, it took AGES.  It's an ENORMOUS castle!  And the staff who run it were brilliant.  They told us to make sure we tried every staircase and every door,
 because there were a lot of hidden gems.  We had such a great time finding all the treasures.

It's difficult to tell in this photo, but the knight has Jersey Cows in relief on the front of his breastplate, and also a cow head on the top of the helmet!

This was awesome.  I asked at the front desk and they said yes, it did work, but the proportions must be wrong, because it only throws something about 30 yards.  So, it was a bit sad.  Well, for non-experts, I still say that's pretty good!

We stayed so long that they had to come find us to tell us they were closing up.  We were literally the last visitors to leave the castle!

We were so tired after all our traipsing around castles that we just wanted dinner and bed.  Drove out to the scenic Corbiere Point for dinner and watched the sun set while we ate. Then we went back to the hotel and crashed.  We were that tired!

The beds were not my favourite.  I really struggled to sleep the whole night.  Never the less, managed to get a bit of kip.  Got up in the morning, and Mom discovered she was pretty stiff from all our walking.  She didn't have as much trouble with the beds as I did, but I'm in better shape physically, so she felt the walking more.
 For some reason, this is the summer of Neolithic Passage Tombs, because that was our first stop of the morning.  The tomb was a little different from the ones in Ireland.  This one didn't have a corbelled roof, for example, and you had to walk bent double for 9 meters.  And the biggest difference is in the inner chamber.  In the Irish tombs, there was the inner chamber, with three small "rooms" radiating off, forming a cross (including the passageway itself.)  In the Jersey one, it's still got the 3 rooms, but the middle one, directly opposite the passageway, is much larger, and has an area that could have functioned as a Vestibule-type place from a modern church.  Kind of interesting.

After our visit to the tomb, we drove around, just looking at the country side.  It was really pretty, but the best bit were these CRAZY narrow roads!  Oh so fun.  You know it's going to be a great drive when the wing mirrors on both sides are touching the hedgerows.  *insert evil grin here*

After lunch at the Victoria Pub, we drove around a bit more before heading to the Durrell Trust, which is their zoo.  On Fridays they have late openings.  So we figured we'd go down and see the animals at dusk, when we thought they'd be most active.  Sadly, they weren't all that visible, much less even active!  Never mind.  We did see a few things.  Specifically, we enjoyed the birds.  They have 2 walk through aviaries.  They were way fun.  Saw some brightly coloured birds, and even a chick "sitting in a silly place" (quote from the advisory upon entering the aviary that you shouldn't touch the birds, and that the adults would get out of the way, but the chicks might still be sitting in silly places.)

 We went back to the Crab Shack for dinner on the beach.  Really tough to beat good crab cakes in the ocean breeze and sun shine, with a view of the sea.

Saturday was our last day on the Island.  Our flight didn't leave til late in the day (6.00 pm) so we had the full day to enjoy.  In the morning we toured the Jersey War Tunnels.  The Channel Islands were the only part of Great Britain which was occupied by the Nazis during WWII.  And they were EVERYWHERE.  You can't go to any part of the island where there aren't bunkers and other remnants of the occupation.  The War Tunnels house a museum about life during the occupation.  I didn't realise before that the Channel Islands were occupied from 1940 clear through til 3 days after VE Day!  An entire year after France was liberated!

 We went back to the Victoria Pub for lunch, and then back out to the Corbiere Lighthouse.  The tide is particularly dramatic out there, with a 40 foot difference between high and low tide.  During low tide you can walk out to the lighthouse, but you have to be really careful, because the tide, in addition to being a huge drop/rise, it's also extremely quick to come in.

The point has several examples of the German occupation buildings.  The observation tower

And the bunker.

After enjoying the sea breeze and the sunshine, we decided it was time to head to the airport and get checked in for the flight.  It was sad to leave the island, but I have to admit.... I was looking forward to my own mattress!  We highly enjoyed the trip to Jersey, and seriously, it's on my list of places to visit!