Chepstow Castle

Hey there…

I thought I would share another set of snaps from my recent travels in the West Country (see my post about the Bristol Balloon Fiesta from the same trip). Whilst we were in the area S and I also spent a morning at Chepstow Castle


Chepstow is just over the border in Wales. It’s a ruined castle, which, if I remember correctly was originally a Norman castle with later Medieval additions.

Old wood


I know ruined castle’s aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like this sort of thing then Chepstow is great. Maybe it’s a bit unusual but I love looking around ruined castles. Family holidays when I was a child usually involved a trip to at least one ancient monument – my Father being a big lover of history and in particularly ruined castles. I guess he’s passed that on to me too! There’s just something so evocative about a ruined castle, especially if you know a little about British history (which I flatter myself that I do) and apply a little imagination to thinking about the people who would have once inhabited these places, and what their lives must have been like.




I’m also a bit of a romance novel fan for some light, escapist reading, and Barbara Erskine is a long time favourite of mine. Her novels are often partially set in the past and often based on real historical figures who owned or lived in some of the UK’s medieval castles.





Roses granny square progress

My granny blanket is progressing slowly…very slowly (or at least it seems that way!).


So far I’ve made it to 14 x 13 rows of small granny squares. The amount of ends I will have to fasten off at the finish is terrifying…and the blanket still looks teeny to me!


It just seems to be growing at a snails pace. 13 x 14 rows of squares means I have made 182 squares so far, and I feel like it needs to be at least twice as big to be of a decent size. Is it ok to admit as a crochet blogger that I am kinda sick of granny squares right now?! Well I am!

Roses granny square blanket

I may have to put this to one side for a little and come back to it when I’ve got over my granny square inertia. Either that or I’ll have to consider making this small granny square square the centre of the blanket and giving it a really deep border make up of rows of granny square stitching going right the way around. It wasn’t my original plan for this blanket, but…Hmmm. I think I’ll mull it over for a little while while I work on something different. Maybe I should work up another one of those mats which I showed in a recent post, with the lacy edging. I was asked about a pattern for that and have been meaning to share some details. I will try and do it soon, promise! I am just too lazy and procrastinate-y at the moment.

Apart from that I’ve been enjoying the end of summer. We’re in the middle of a mini heat wave here this week, 30 degrees. I’ve also treated myself to a little sparkly something, from a local store.


I love costume jewellery and I love finding things in independent stores rather than the big chains. I don’t know why, but the kinds of things I see there are so much more me than most of what you find in the high street names. Independents seem to stock more delicate, classic things as opposed to on trend stuff. I am really not a trendy person and have no pretension or desire to be!


Have a great end to your week, enjoy the sun!

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2016

I am so excited to be sharing a blog post about this with you, because this event is becoming a real highlight of my year. Some of you, may have heard of the above annual event which takes place at the Ashton Court Estate on the outskirts of Bristol. Up until a few years ago, I’d never heard of this event although I can’t think how I had missed it for so many years!


For those of you who don’t know, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is an event held in August every year, spanning a weekend where hot air ballon-ists from around the world gather to launch mass ascents. What is a ‘mass ascent’, you may ask? At 6am and 6pm on scheduled Fiesta days, the balloonists gather together in the Fiesta launch area, inflate their balloons and head for the skies! This can mean over 100 balloons taking off together during the same hour. The mass ascents are combined with a fun-fair, various entertainments (I believe some baby-racing took place, though S and I being childless don’t go in for that sort of thing for obvious reasons) and stalls selling food and drinks throughout the weekend.


I absolutely love this event. S and I went last year too, and vowed to return as often as we could to marvel at the spectical of these beautiful balloons in flight. We’ve just returned from this year’s event, so of course I had to share some photos with you.



This year’s event was a little tense – there were problems with the evening mass ascents on several days- the balloons were unable to go up because of the weather conditions – high wind speeds and too much cloud cover prevented them.



Sunday was the final day of the event and our last chance to see an evening ascent. We crossed our fingers and headed over to the site in good time arriving not long after 5pm to choose our patch of grass. The balloon pilots gather for a pre-flight briefing before each planned ascent – this is where a final decision on whether to go up is made, dependent on weather conditions. The crowd on this occassion was certaintly waiting with bated breath! Once the decision is made, the crowd are notified using a smoke signal – yup, a smoke signal! A pipe near the launching area gives off red smoke for no ascent, yellow or orange for partial and green for a clear mass ascent.

Well, we were in luck – the signal was green, the balloons could go! One balloon is sent up first to do a final test of conditions. Provided everything is satisfactory up above, a klaxon sounds and the mass ascent begins!



I can’t really describe how amazing it is to see all the balloons take off, but as you can see, I did take a lot of pictures! It’s also quite fun to see the tethered balloons inflating on the ground, but really nothing beats seeing them glide up over the horizon, silent and serene except for the occassional blasts from the burners.

All I can say is, if you can, go – you will love it!




Roses granny square blanket

First things first…I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend. Thank you to the people who commented on my last post so kindly. I’m pleased to say I’ve been having a deliciously selfish weekend, lolloping about the house crocheting and drinking cups to tea. Yesterday, my wish to lay on the grass and watch the clouds pass by was granted as S and I headed to the park for a picnic, and I was able to do just that. It was bliss!



A couple of people commented on the lacy mat that appeared in the photos on my last post. I will share some details of how I made that soon – I need to go back and make another mat first in order to remember exactly what I did! I’ll get to it later this week hopefully.

In the meantime I wanted to share my current crochet obsession, which is this granny blanket. littlesquares2

I’m using Stylecraft Special again. I think I am developing a minor obsession with this yarn. I’ve been making little shade cards for myself by winding bits of yarn around luggage tags. They are so much fun to play around with to develop colour combinations – but maybe more on that another time.

The inspiration for this particilar blanket came from the pages of some of my books. I have a beautiful french book about Roses, which S bought from when we were on holiday in Paris once, years ago. Sadly I am not a fluent french speaker, but it’s one of those books that is really more about the pictures anyway! It has lots of reproductions of Victorian and pre-raphelite art and William Morris prints involving roses – that kind of thing. The colours are all very deep and rich pinks, reds and greens. I think this blanket and colour combination had been lodged in my head for a while, and then last week it suddenly because an itch that had to be scratched, and so the Roses Granny Blanket began.


I am loving making it so far. It’s been a while since I’ve made a granny squares blanket, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is, and how good those little squares look when they are all neatly joined together. At the moment I am supressing the thought of all those ends to fasten in, which is always the least fun part of granny square blankets!


Well, I’m heading back to my blanket and bag of yarn…enjoy the rest of your weekend!



Slowing down…

doliy1I really feel like I need to slow down a little. I’ve been feeling so tired. I went for a run this morning and it was absolutely exhausting – much more so than usual.

Keeping up with life is just too much sometimes – work, Ph.D, family, everything that needs sorting out with the house. We live in a Victorian property, and while it’s largely in good nick, since we moved in there have still been a few things to organise and think about – re-tiling in the bathroom, re-pointing outside, trees that are out of hand and really should be cut down.


My eyes have been feeling really strained and tired too, which adds to the tiredness – I think it’s too much staring at the computer screen. That’ll be a trip to the opticians for me then…

When I got home form work yesterday night, I felt so exhausted I just lay on the sofa for 15 minutes until S got home. It felt so strange, I realised I never just sit and do nothing. I can’t remember the last time I did. Even when I’m sitting down on the sofa I’m normally making something. Maybe I should try and work in a little ‘nothing’ time each day. Does anyone else do this? How do you fit it in?


What I really want is to be lying on some grass somewhere, in the sunshine watching the clouds go by overhead. Maybe I’ll get to do that at the weekend…here’s hoping.

Baking notes: Coffee & Walnut cake


So coffee and walnut cake was the bake of this week!

It came out pretty well, but once again the baking time was waay longer than it said in the recipe – another 20 minutes on top of the 40 it was supposed to have, so an hour in total.

I’m also a little unsure about the icing. The icing in the recipe was a cream cheese icing rather than a traditional buttercream. I don’t quite get the idea of cream cheese icing for coffee and walnut cake. I think it’s fine with carrot cake – I’m used to having it then. But with coffee and walnut, I think you want a proper coffee flavoured icing too. The recipe for the icing basically instructed you to beat a lot of cream cheese with some sugar. I did this, and then also attempted to add some coffee flavouring by mixing a little instant coffee with some water and then adding that to the mix. I can’t say it really added any flavour. Neither did the sugar specified in the recipe to be honest. The icing just tasted like cream cheese which just seems odd to me. Next time I’ll be doing the more traditional buttercream, coffee flavoured finish!