Friday, 29 May 2015

Garden Highlights!

I do so love looking at pictures of beautiful gardens.  Quite a number of the bloggers I follow are keen gardeners and I can only look on with envy at the pictures of their gardens and the flowers and vegetables they produce.  Clearly a lot of hard work and plenty of love goes into creating these gardens.

My garden and I have a love / hate relationship.  I hate the thought of having to shift myself and get out and do some gardening, but once I'm out there I quite enjoy the work and sometimes there are bits of my garden I actually love.

So, as the sun was shining yesterday, and I was in a joyous mood, I snapped some pics of my garden to share with you.  Most of my garden has arisen from self-seeding and the occasional success story.  My plant knowledge is very limited, so if you can identify any of the mysterious flowers, I'd love to hear from you.

So here we go, this first one I know is phlox, possibly creeping!

The wisteria is almost done.  It's only a small one, but I'm very proud of all the flowers it produced every year.

These lovely little yellow flowers on this shrub are just opening and there are lots of buds so soon it should be covered in yellowness!

The holly bush still has plentiful berries on it.

This purple flower is lovely and I've managed to get in established in another part of the garden - or quite possibly it did it itself!

I have a mass of columbines, possibly an epidemic!  They have definitely self-seeded.

I love the colour of this one, a gorgeous deep purple.

The foxgloves, another self-seeder, are just starting to open.  I've got plenty of them this year.

And finally, my very happy gardening event.  The plant (camelia?) my friend gave me as a birthday present many years ago, has flowered for the first time.  What joy!

So that's that.  I think I'll quit while I'm ahead!  Bye for now.

Monday, 25 May 2015

They Came, We Saw... But Still the Sun Didn't Shine

Following on from yesterday's post about the Royal Visit, we were down on the beach again today to see the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria.

At least it was a more sociable hour and it wasn't raining.  It was still very cold and grey.  There must have been a few thousand people spread out along the beach - all well-wrapped up against the cold.  And what an impressive sight it was.  The Queen Elizabeth came in first.

Closely followed by Queen Victoria.

The Queen Mary had come back out of the river and was waiting for them, just off the coast from New Brighton.

The two smaller ships passed behind the Queen Mary and the three of them proceeded up the river to the Pier Head.

As I type this, they are currently performing an intricately choreographed "River Dance" at the Pier Head, no doubt in front of thousands more people crowded along the water front.

Such an amazing sight to see the Cunard liners together in Liverpool, 175 years after the first Cunard ship set sail from here to Boston.  I feel so lucky to live in such an historic city.

The Queen Mary will be leaving once the dance is over, but she returns on 4th July for more celebrations (maybe the sun will shine then). Liverpool has more fun events and happenings at that time.  So good to see the continued revival of this beautiful city after all the years of decline and negative publicity.  If you ever get the chance, please come and visit Liverpool, I'm sure you'll be amazed.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Royal Visit

Good Morning.   I was up bright and early this morning - out and about in the soaking rain.

This weekend in Liverpool there's quite a buzz.  We're having a special visit.  Three Queens are coming to the city... and the first one was arriving early this morning.

I had set my alarm for 6.45 am but was woken up at 6.20 am by the sound of a ship's hooter.  I jumped up quickly, threw on some clothes and dashed down to the beach.  And there she was - Queen Mary 2, one of Cunard's luxury liners.

Visibility was very poor, the rain was heavy, it was cold and miserable - but never have so many people been out and about on the beach at 6.30 am on a Sunday morning.

I was so glad I was able to witness the enormous cruise liner arriving in Liverpool.  It was worth getting drenched for.  Here's a picture of what she looks like when the sun is shining!

Picture from Wikipedia
Tomorrow, she will be joined by her sister ships, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria.  They are here to celebrate the 175th  anniversary of the Cunard Line.  Cunard's first ship, the Britannia, departed for her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Boston on 4 July 1840.  The company had its head office in Liverpool until 1967.

The Cunard Building is the middle one of
The Three Grace's on Liverpool waterfront.
The three ships will be sailing together up and down a short stretch of the Mersey tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather will be better because, at the moment, the arrival of the Three Queens is all anyone is talking about here on Merseyside.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Handy Dandy Sock Yarn Bags

You will recall that I recently treated myself to a yarn winder, so that I could make lovely 'cakes' of yarn.  The novelty hasn't worn off yet!

I received lots of helpful ideas about using these 'cakes' as centre-pull balls.  With these ideas in mind, I decided to use my Jolly Little Goody Bags to hold the yarn.  These bags were made with DK weight yarn and proved a bit loose so I thought about making some new smaller bags.

Now that I'm making a monthly pair of socks, I find I usually have about 40 g of sock yarn leftover after the socks have been completed.  So putting the two things together, I came up with these Handy Dandy Sock Yarn Bags.

Made from leftover sock yarn, they snugly hold a 50 g ball of sock yarn that can be centre-pulled through the top of the drawstring.

The bags are even stretchy enough to hold a 100g ball of sock yarn.

They are great fun to make, only taking an afternoon or evening.

If you'd like to make a bag or two, the pdf of the pattern can be downloaded for free by clicking HERE.

Alternatively, you can download the pattern into your Ravelry library from the pattern page, HERE.

One bag takes approximately 15 g of sock yarn, that's about 65 metres.  I've tested them out already with the cardigan I'm knitting at the moment (I'm using sock yarn) and the yarn inside the bags stays tangle free to the very end.

So from my 100 g ball of sock yarn, I've made my May socks (the Watermelon socks), three Handy Dandy Sock Yarn Bags and I even had a tiny bit of yarn leftover that I used to make one of my Baby Mice.

Not bad going - no leftovers for me! I hope you enjoy the pattern.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cool and Stylish? I Can Only Dream.

Firstly, I'd like to say a big hello all the new followers of this blog.  It's lovely to have you join me.  This blog is mostly about me being inspired to be creative and I hope that, in turn, I can inspire others.

I seem to have a lot of projects at the moment just waiting to be finished off, but not enough time to deal with them.  There's never enough time!

I've got a crochet pattern I've been working on that I thought I'd be able to share with you but, as is always the case, the writing up of the pattern, taking the photos and publishing the pattern, takes far longer than the actual making of the item.  Hopefully in the next few days I'll have something to show you.

In the meantime, I'm knitting up another cardigan (yes, yet another cardigan).  The pattern is called Funky Grandpa and it's by La Maison Rililie.  I bought this pattern March as a birthday treat, but have only now found the time to cast on.

It's growing really quickly, but then knitting stripes usually does.  I've finished the body and I've started the sleeves.

For the stripes I'm using a variegated sock yarn which creates a lovely colourful effect.

Here's the pattern picture.

I hope I look this cool and stylish when wearing the finished cardi, but I doubt it.  The designer is a young French woman and I'm a middle-aged scouser!  Anyway, I'd better get a move on and sort out that crochet pattern.  See you soon.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Lovely Moments in Cambridge

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  My Hubby and I spent the latter part of last week down in Cambridge.

It's Eve's final term (exams looming) so we thought it would be a nice idea to pop down and see her for a short while, just to give her some moral support.  Also, we know that once Eve has graduated, we probably won't be visiting Cambridge for quite some time, so it was an opportunity for us to have another good look around.

On the way we stopped off at Kimbolton.  It's a gorgeous picturesque village situated about thirty miles from Cambridge.  In the sixteenth century, Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, lived in Kimbolton Castle up to her death.  Unfortunately it isn't possible to visit the building, as it is now a school, but we did have a look around the old church.

We had a drink in this lovely old atmospheric pub before moving on to Cambridge.

Besides the obligatory walk along the river, we visited some of the colleges.  It's one of our favourite things to do.  We especially like to see the quieter colleges that are away from the tourist trail.  This time we visited Selwyn College, which is stunning, Newnham College and Homerton College.  All have beautiful gardens which we sat in and just enjoyed.

Selwyn College

Selwyn College Chapel

Newham College

Homerton College

We had an afternoon at Fenners Cricket Ground.  Very relaxing.

Our final afternoon was spent at the University Sports Ground watching the Varsity Athletics Competition.  It was lovely and sunny sitting on the grass bank at the side of the track.

Cambridge beat Oxford and Eve's housemate, Billy, won the 800 metres race, so there was plenty to cheer about.

It was wonderful to see Eve and be able to give her lots of hugs.  We had a lovely relaxing time and I had plenty of opportunities to knit and crochet.  This post, however, is already long enough, so I will talk about the knitting and crocheting another time.

In the meantime, if you are ever in Cambridge, I would strongly recommend a trip to The Elm Tree pub for a pint of plum mild - delicious.