Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Trip to Knaresborough Castle

My other half is a bit of a historian on the sly.  Even after... er... eighteen years, he amazes me with his knowledge.  And it's not that he has studied History in an educational establishment, he really does have a passion for it, and it is all self taught.  One thing he really seriously loves, are castles!  When ever we go away, he always checks to see if there are castles in the area, and then puts them on his mental list of places to visit.

Last night it was decided that we should go out today as the forecast was looking good, and it was looking like we were heading for a historical trip out!  After spending a while debating whether Richmond Castle was too far away, I decided that it was.  Although I would love to go to Richmond Castle with the children, I didn't want them cooped up in the car for hours on end.  We decided on Knaresborough castle, near Harrogate, as neither of us have been before and we both love the beautiful drive through the Ribble Valley, past Pendle, and out towards Harrogate.

We packed a picnic, blankets and suncream, set out, and had a fabulous day.  Unfortunately I didn't manage to take many photos, and the sun prevented me taking a photo worth showing of The King's Tower (the only building in the castle that remains after most of the castle was demolished in 1648 after Parliamentarians gained control during the Civil War in 1644).  We did however go into The King's Tower, and down into the 'prison' (originally used as a cold room, but later used as a prison).  We were also lucky enough to venture down into one of the Sallyports, underground tunnels used for secret entry or exit from the castle.

I also managed to find myself a doorway.

I do like doorways!

We contemplated how many people had walked these steps for them to look like this.

My favourite part of the day was sitting on the grass, on our picnic blanket(s), eating and chatting in the sunshine.  My favourite view of the day was this...

... what a very special view, and one that I could sit and look at for a long time... if the children could sit still long enough that is!!!  The boat you can see are rowing boats you can hire.  Something I would love to do when the Tinker is a little bigger, with not so many ants in his pants!!!

If you haven't visited Knaresborough, it is definitely a place I would recommend.  Beautiful, although a little too busy with traffic on a sunny Saturday in the middle of the holidays!

Happy weekend.  Hope that you manage to visit somewhere as lovely this weekend!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Another birthday, a lovely card, and another cake!!

Today was my dad's birthday.  I often struggle when it comes to making cards for my dad... not this time!  I knew straight away what I wanted to do.  It was the perfect opportunity to practise some paper cutting without feeling that I was indulging myself, and as his birthday present was a new wheelbarrow, so the card had to be allotment related. 

It was quite a bit more adventurous than the card that I did for the Fairy's birthday, and although the writing caused me a few problems (it was too small, and therefore too fiddly), I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

And then there was the cake.  I love to make cakes, as you have probably already noticed, but this week I have simply made too many, and eaten to many pieces!  This was delicious though... a simple sponge filled with jam, cream and strawberries.  Yum!

The little Tinker is beginning to think it is a daily task, asking today if he can make another.  I think it will have to be bread I will be making with the children over the holidays rather than cake otherwise I am going to end up being huge by the end of the summer!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Little Lady's Tea Party

The Fairy's Tea Party yesterday went down a treat... I am still recovering from having eight excited and very (very) vocal seven year olds competing to have their voices heard!!!!

The planning for the party began weeks ago.  I managed to persuade the fairy that it wasn't really another princess party she wanted, but a tea party with a proper tea set and pretty dresses.  To be honest, she didn't really need much persuasion, she loved the idea.

Before we went away we set about making some tea cup invitations, she cover sheets of card with strips of patterned paper and I drew a template of a tea cup for her to cut out.  She did an excellent job, only needing help with the handles.

Organization of the party stopped there for a few weeks, until the day of her birthday, when we were on holiday, and I realized I hadn't even thought about her cake.  I was thinking tea cup, but the handle was causing me dilemmas!  A quick text to my sister and I thought I have it all under control.... a giant fairy cake!  The beginning of this week I started to think about how I was actually going to manage it, and after hours of thought, phone calls and messages to various people regarding different tins, on Friday night I came up with this...

I used a deep cake tin, and a glass pudding basin to make the cake, tapering the bottom once the cake had been made.  I used butter icing and jam to hold the layers together, and butter icing to decorate. Apparently you can buy cupcake shaped cake tins, but if you want to make one without, and would like to know how I did it, just give me a shout and I'll let you know.  

On Friday night I also hung the paper pom-poms from the ceiling for decoration.  They look fantastic, and her face was a picture when she came downstairs on Saturday morning.

Although there are always a few games planned for the parties I have done for the Fairy, I have always done an activity with them also.  This year we made some little fairy cake brooches out of felt.  It was an excellent activity, all of them got stuck in, really concentrated on what they were doing (there were some serious looks of determination around the table!) and made some lovely brooches. 

These were the almost finished products... luckily my mum was on hand to stitch the brooch backs onto them whilst I played some games with them before tea (my husband had informed me earlier in the week that he was having to work... agh!!!).

Then came tea...

A proper tea party.  The girls were really funny, they loved using the tea set, and being 'ladies' (although this did slip slightly on occasions!).  

Hopefully it will be a party they will all remember.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Preparing to Party!

Tomorrow is the Fairy's birthday party, so the past few days I have been getting into the spirit of it.  This morning I got out the tea set that I inherited from Granny Kitty's (my granny) as she is going to be having a tea party.  I also have been on a cake making mission.  We now have fairy cakes, all decorated and ready, and a cake waiting to be decorated.  I'm waiting for her to go to sleep before I make a start!  I like the cake to be a surprise, and to decorate downstairs ready for her when she gets up in the morning of her party.

This year I have been busy making paper decorations.  I was shown these tissue paper pom-poms by seventyseventyone design and wanted to make them straight away.  They reminded me of the many flowers I made at primary school out of tissues at playtime on rainy days.  I had a great time making them with my lovely helper, and now I have a huge pile waiting to be hung up.  It really is time she went to sleep, I have an awful lot to do, and can still hear her bumping!!

Time to get busy.  Have a good weekend everyone!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

It's too cold... I wish I was still on holiday!!!

Summer...bah!!!  It has been miserable today.  I don't think that it has stopped raining at all today.  Every time I have looked out of the window there has been rain.  My husband greeted us with 'Happy Sunday' this morning at breakfast time and the Tinker said "daddy it is not Sunday, it is raining"!!!

At least I have the memories of beautiful sunshine, clear blue sea, soft sand, needing an ice cold beer... the list goes on.

We had a fabulous holiday.  We went back to Puerto de Pollenca in Mallorca, after having a great time there last year.  We decided that this was an area we would like to explore more, and hired a car so we could get into the mountains and do a little more traveling.  Although we didn't do as much exploring as we initially intended, the children just wanted to swim and visit the beach, we did have some fantastic experiences... some of which I would not like to re-live!!!
I thought I would share some holiday pictures with you.

This was the very scary drive the Formentor lighthouse.  There really were some spectacular views, including those of the bay of Puerto de Pollenca, but there were shear drops off the side of the (very narrow) road, resulting in me having sore fingers from gripping the side of my seat!!

One of the things I love the most about holidays is visiting the old parts of towns and walking down streets like these...

Pollenca Town
Alcudia Old Town
... I also love the door ways...

I would like this to be the entrance to my home!

... and the knowledge that behind these magnificent doors are beautifully tiled entrance halls!

And look at these for windows to look out of and check the weather in the morning!!!

Although we are not a religious family, we do have a tendency to drift towards religious buildings... I guess because of the architecture, but there is also the guarantee of magnificent stained glass in larger churches.

  I was amazed at the intricacy of the stone work...

...and the beauty of glass.
Apologies for the awful photo, my camera hated it in
there and this is the best I could capture.
 Oh, and a pretty flower dancing in the breeze!

Most of all, I loved the huge smiles I saw so much of on the faces of my gorgeous ones!!

For those who have not yet had their holidays, I hope you to have a fantastic time.  Happy Sunday everyone!!!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

An hour (or so) of crafting!

Very rarely do I get chance these days, to sit down and do something completely different, but today was one of those days.  The little Tinker was at a birthday party this afternoon and I had encouraged my husband to take him so that I could get some packing done!!  That wasn't a total blag, I really did have a lot of sorting to do, but I also had the Fairy's birthday card to make as it is her birthday while we are away.  

As I have mentioned previously, I do like to make cards for people, and as my children have never had a bought card from us, the pressure was on!!  Last night I sat with my husband, asking him for ideas... I got 'anything with fairies or princesses'.  I gave up, I didn't want to think fairies or princesses.  I'd managed to steer her away from having a princess party (we're having a tea party with granny Kitty's* tea set) and didn't want to go down that route.  

I have however, gone down the fairy route!  This morning I had a revelation, remembering a match the silhouette puzzle in one of the Fairy's magazines, and thought that I would take the opportunity to try my hand at paper cutting, something I have been wanting to have a go at for a while now.  The delicate and intricate work of Rob Ryan has always intrigued me, and I do love the excuse to get very sharp implements and paper out!!

I started work on my design this morning while the design was fresh in my head, and managed to do the cutting out this afternoon.  Seven fairies, one for each year of her life.
 This is how it turned out...

I am pretty pleased with the outcome.  The fairies looked really pretty when held up to the light, but as it was going to be a card, I had to put paper behind them.  I think that this will be one to frame and put up in her room.

Although I am pleased with the outcome, I did become a little disheartened when I looked at the work of Nic aka Supercutetilly.  Her work is absolutely fabulous.  I'd seen her at one of the Chorley Contemporary Crafters fairs earlier in the year when I stopped to admire her very beautiful textiles work, but since then she has taken up paper cutting.  I think I have a long way to go!!!  Please do bob over and see her work, it really is something else.

I must go now... I hadn't intended to blog!  A bit more packing and then a soak and early night.  See you in a couple of weeks!!!

N.B *Before I forget, Granny Kitty was my granny, my dad's mum (head of the family, cake, pastry and bread maker, and not a lady to be messed with!)... I will be sharing some of memories of her (and more) over the next few months.

Friday, 1 July 2011

My kind of food!

One of the things I love about this time of year is being able to eat tapas or mezze style food, especially if you can get outside to do it.  I love the sharing food, everyone getting stuck in, and also being able to experience lots of different flavours and textures.  It is even better when quite a few of you are eating and you all chip in a bit!!  Relaxed dining at its best.

This was just a simple supper I made a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately we were unable to eat it outside as it had got a little nippy.  Here we have (from the bowl of salad and going clockwise) a mixed salad with a simple dressing of virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, Spanish omelette, bread, marinated olives (our favourites are from the olive counter in Booths), and finally baked feta.

Unfortunately I should be organising our stuff to go away so I don't have time to share how to do the omelette or the feta, but I will as soon as we get back so that you too can enjoy them over the summer!!

Although I love cooking, I am looking forward to having some time where I don't have to plan or make food!