Happy campers – part two

There was lots to do where we stayed in Gatehouse of Fleet, near Castle Douglas. Although it was tricky finding things that we could take the dog to as well. Everywhere we went there were signs for castles, but we didn’t visit any as to certain members of our family, that would be a fate worse than death! We did find a perfect place for the older kids though and it was just a twenty minute drive.


This place was brilliant. You could book the kids in to a workshop where they learn how to make their own chocolate. I thought it was great value. For £14.00 each they got their own apron and hairnet, they made a big slab of chocolate, a chocolate animal in a reusable mould and a marvellous creation with marshmallows. All to take home with them. 


There was also a huge indoor soft play area and a massive outdoor play area with a dinosaur that was about 30ft high. Sadly, Jude had fallen asleep in the car so he missed out. We waited in the car while the kids were in chocolate heaven, but luckily I’d brought my yarn along.


It looks like an advertisement for Cath Kidston doesn’t it? This project is very mobile so it’s really easy to just do a little bit as and when I can. On the way back to the site, we stopped to say hello to some cows. 


I’ve never seen so many cows than in Scotland. Every field was full of them, and sheep. There were animals everywhere. The campsite was surrounded by rabbits. It was like a scene straight out of Watership Down. It was lovely but the poor things were so scared that they ran off if you got within 20 metres. So no photographs, although I did try my hardest.

The next day we took the kids to a local activity centre. There were some very brave souls there trying some very scary things. Ours stuck to grass sledging, lots safer!


While they were busy I took Jude to the huge sandpit to play. He thought this was the best thing ever and didn’t want to leave.

The following day we planned a lovely day  in the Scottish mountains. Otters Pool had been recommended to us by a friend. On the drive up there my hubby kept pulling over for me to take photos. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking.


We passed Loch Dee just further on from here.


After a bit of an unplanned detour down a never ending dirt track through the wilderness, we found Otters Pool. We sat and ate our picnic lunch with the water to one side of us and woodland to the other. It was such a beautiful place, so peaceful.


Flip flops on and towels at the ready, we headed into the water for a paddle with the best view ever.


The scenery was just stunning. It’s like you’re in a whole other world just for a short while. Everyone had such a nice time. Real good, honest, wholesome family time. 


Pepper loved it too, she’s always enjoyed a paddle. I spotted these toadstools in amongst the trees and just had to take a picture. They looked so magical, like they’re from an enchanted forest or fairy glen.


We were nearing the end of our holiday and I’d say it was a very successful one. Many happy memories made. Although we all love going abroad on holiday and living in a bit of luxury, there’s something really special about holidaying closer to home and closer to nature. We have some absolutely beautiful places in the UK that we often overlook. Especially on our doorstep. Perhaps we all need to pretend we’re tourists in our own towns occasionally and go see all the lovely places around us.  

As for my holiday crochet, I’m pretty pleased with what I achieved.


I wasn’t expecting to get this far. I’m looking forward to showing you the finished product cos I haven’t been able to put this down since we got home.

Vicki xx

Happy campers – part one

For this years camping holiday, we decided to try somewhere new that none of us had tried before. We usually go to Wales which is lovely, but for a change, we chose Scotland. It was a little bit further afield but it was a whole new adventure for us. After losing our lovely dog Amber just the week before, we couldn’t bear to put Pepper into kennels as planned. She’s really missing her sister and would’ve been so sad and lonely on her own. The campsite is dog friendly so we squished her in the footwell of the car along with our ever growing collection of camping gear.


We don’t travel light when it comes to camping. We like to have quite a few little   gadgets to make life that bit easier. Things like electric hook-up, a fridge, kettle, toaster and fan heater. Not quite glamping but not too far off!

The weather was awful when we set off. I was driving along the motorway gripping onto the steering wheel so hard my knuckles were white. We stopped half way to change drivers and the weather was still grey but improving. By the time we reached the campsite it was all blue skies and sunshine. Perfect conditions for pitching a tent.


It was a lovely location, we pitched right at the far end of the field so we didn’t have people walking past us constantly. The site was surprisingly quiet, I kept wondering what the catch was. We discovered what it was on the first night. The main road runs alongside the field and at nighttime, just as soon as your head hits your inflatable pillow, about a thousand lorries it seemed, come thundering past heading for the docks. We’d seen comments about road noise on the reviews before we booked, but had kind of hoped they were exaggerating. Sadly they weren’t. It was quite loud but you kind of got used to it. That was really the only negative though. It was a very carefree site, you pitched up where you liked and were just left to get on with your holiday with no interference. 

The first evening, we treated ourselves to fish & chips from an award winning chippy in nearby Castle Douglas. It was really yummy and the sweet girl who served us insisted on buying Pepper a sausage out of her own money. She’d been off her food for a bit but she managed to woof it down with no trouble. The next morning, we awoke to rain and grey skies which had been forecast for the majority of our stay. I’d packed for the chilly weather too. We spent the day in the tent mostly being lazy campers. Which gave me the perfect excuse to crack out my camping crochet. I’d dithered over what to bring with me. I didn’t want to bring too many balls of yarn so that ruled out my blooming flower cushion. I’m loving the colours in it so much though that I decided to make a second cushion to go with it. I picked just 6 of the colours to bring. 


These looked better than I’d imagined, and quick to do too. A perfect holiday project.

The following morning, we awoke to glorious sunshine. This was our view from the tent…


I couldn’t resist pulling my wellies on with my pyjamas and going for a little wander.


There was an abundance of blackberry bushes around so I decided to pick my own breakfast.

 
Lovely! We went for a little explore around the site later on. It’s a very well kept site. Just a five minute walk from our field you’ll find the entertainment areas. There’s a bar, bistro, swimming pool, gym and of course arcades. They were a hit with the big kids. Well actually Jude loved it there too, he discovered the 2p machines and demanded a constant supply of ‘pennies’. While they were all in the arcades, I sneaked off to take a few photos of the beautiful coastline that we were lucky enough to call home for a few days.



The sunsets here were pretty amazing too.

There’s something about being close to natural beauty that leaves you feeling very calm and content with the world. Sights like this were not made by any man, they’ve always been there and always will. Nothing can ever spoil it. It’s very good for the soul to take a few moments every now and again to appreciate these little things in life.

Another thing I appreciate in life is being cooked for. Camping cooking usually falls to the hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed having a break from having to prepare the meals. He’s also an excellent cook so win win! My job was to lay the table and in true Vicki style, I gathered some pretty flowers from the hedgerows to dress it.

I think I’ll leave it there for part one.  Back in a couple of days with the second half. Xxx


My week in pictures 

My first harvest of delicious sweet peas. They smell divine. I’m looking forward to having a constant supply of these beauties for a good while.

A tired toddler after lots of jumping in muddy puddles.

A spot of baking….. Oreo cake. Find the recipe here.

I got my colouring books out for the first time in yonks, anything’s better than watching the boxing.

Trying to vacuum with this lazy pooch. She was budging for nothing or no-one.

Birthday celebrations for our littlest of the bigger kids. Lovely teppanyaki restaurant near China town in Liverpool.

The youngest is becoming a teenager way before his time. He’s pinched my spot in the dining room with my cushions and my phone. So many videos of Thomas the tank engine on YouTube to watch!

I’ve re-covered the chair in the bathroom. No more wet towels on here kids, please??

Now this coaster was made about a month ago. I fully intended to make a whole set of them in different colours. They were to be gifted to a very lovely lady. Unfortunately, I ran out of time so instead she received just the one coaster, along with a couple of eggs from our girls wearing my Egg Cosies and one of my Lavender bags too. I hope she likes them 😊

The weather has been awful here. Rain, rain go away….


There’s been more pretty bunting being made. Not for me this time, for an order. Yes you heard that right, a paying customer 😊 !!


Some more baking, it’s hungry work sewing you know. Although these are quite healthy cookies, full of oats, seeds and fruit. The idea is that when I’m peckish I can grab one of these instead of chocolate.


And finally this…


I couldn’t resist lighting a fire last night while sewing. It was so cold, it felt like winter. Where’s our summer gone?

Vicki xx

Half way

Morning lovelies, are you having a good weekend? It’s half way through and the weather has been strange. We were expecting a heatwave, hotter than Ibiza, apparently. Well that never happened but  let’s see what today brings. Yesterday morning, Jude was so keen to get into the garden, it was wellies and pj’s and straight out there. With his furry friends too.


We managed our first breakfast in the garden the other day too, it was just lovely. 


It always feels a bit like being on holiday when we eat outdoors. I’m looking forward to doing it lots this summer. And lots of garden hooky is in order too.


I’m about halfway through my two blankets for the kids. I’m alternating between the two to stop the boredom setting in. Here’s the c2c (corner to corner) for my step daughter. I had it with me the other day when I was in the bluebell woods incase I got the opportunity to do a spot of hooky. Sadly I didn’t but I did decide to give it a little photo shoot while I was there. I felt a bit silly, kept looking around to make sure no one was coming! It’s not as easy as you’d think actually. I was looking for the perfectly placed branch to drape it over but could I find any? Nope. So this was the best I could do.


It’s a perfect triangle at the moment, and I’ve now finished the purple side so will start on the pink and it will decrease down the other side.

This is the other blanket, the cosy Kermit stripe for my son.


It’s just over half way done. It’s very nice to come back to working on this one after the purple. You can really tell the difference in the yarn. The purple has a glitter running through it which makes it a bit rougher but this one is made with stylecraft special dk which is so much nicer. Super soft in comparison.


While we’re talking crochet, I did a couple more of the egg cosies I started a few months ago. It’s one of those where I need complete concentration so I can count out loud. Hopefully this week I’ll finish them off and show you the finished product.


Our very own cherry blossom has finally come into its own this week. It’s never been so beautiful, it must be very happy. I wanted to enjoy it indoors too so cut a few sprigs to pop in a vase. It’s looking so pretty in our pantry.


Well, that’s it from me for now. Have a great Sunday, see you all soon xxx

Slow sunny Saturdays

Yesterday morning was one of those mornings, the sun was shining, we had no plans, so just pottered around in the garden doing not a lot. I love days like this. Look at this gorgeous blue sky.


There’s still a bit of a chill in the air but I don’t care, if the sun is shining, I want to be outside in it, breathing it all in. Our dog Pepper is a proper sun worshiper, every chance she gets, she’s there.


Unfortunately she doesn’t get much peace with little Jude around, wanting to play trains on her!


She often moves to try and get away from her shadow..


Didn’t last for long though!


Did you spot the hosta in the background? Aren’t they just the most beautiful, luscious shade of green?


We have to keep a close eye on them when we let the chickens have their run of the garden. They love them. Morning girls!


They are so comical, this one here tried to eat my phone just after I took this. She often pecks at my wellies too when I’m cleaning them out! Just above chicken corner, is our stunning ceanothus, creating a floral canopy over their coop. I wonder if it does so well because of all the chicken manure in the soil. It’s just coming into flower this week, I think it’ll be in full bloom in a couple of weeks time.


I actually made some magazine time too, it felt very indulgent. Especially sitting here in the sunshine with a cup of tea.


Just to the left of this photo, you can just see a jug of French lavender. The smell is divine.


I wish we could have more days like this.

Happy weekend all, I hope you get to enjoy a bit of slow, sunny time in your patch.

Vicki xx

The Big Spring Clean

  
I’ve been in spring cleaning mode for a good few weeks now. When the urge takes me I just have to go with it, it’s completely out of my control. It doesn’t have to be Spring either, it can hit anytime of the year. Although I usually despise the never ending task of housework, there’s something very satisfying about having everything in its proper place and glistening clean. I think almost every room in the house has had some kind of clear out or re-organise.

The white goods have been thoroughly gone over, filters cleaned etc. Grubby handprints washed off the walls, vacuum cleaner serviced. Even the car got a clean! I’ve had a good clear out of toys and am trying to sell what I can. The kids bedrooms are getting a much needed deep clean. I think there’s been about six black sacks so far, a car full to the charity shop and a trip to the tip. And there’s still much more to do yet. It’s going to look great by the time I’ve finished, I do hope they appreciate it.

The dogs haven’t escaped my spring cleaning fever either. They’ve been groomed to within an inch of their lives. I stopped just short of putting ribbons in their hair!

With this big Spring clean underway, I thought I’d share with you some helpful cleaning tips that I’ve found invaluable along the way. Just incase you get the urge too!

Clean the microwave

Microwave half a lemon on high for 2 minutes to loosen food splashes with citrusy steam. Wipe dirt away with a damp cloth. Wash the glass turntable in hot soapy water and wipe down inside too, not forgetting the ceiling of the microwave. Clean the outside with hot soapy water including the buttons and buff dry with a clean tea towel.

Make the sink shine

Fill the kettle and pop it on. Wipe around sides and base of sink with a wet sponge. Put half a cup of bicarb down the plughole, followed by half a cup of white vinegar to clear the drain. Sprinkle wet sink with Vim scouring powder and leave to work. Pop a teabag in a mug & pour on the boiling water. Use the remaining water to rinse off the Vim, making sure you sponge around the sides to remove any stubborn marks. Give the taps a good wipe too then buff it all to a shine with a clean tea towel. Replace dishcloths with clean ones then sit and drink your cuppa while admiring your lovely clean sink!

Freshen your carpets

Make your own carpet freshener by mixing bicarb of soda with a few drops of fragrance oil or essential oil of your choice. Leave it overnight to dry then sprinkle over your carpet about ten minutes before you vacuum to leave them smelling fresh and clean.

Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite..

Give your bed a thorough clean to enjoy a good nights sleep.  Strip all your sheets and mattress protector and machine wash at 40 degrees. Wash pillows and duvet too if they’re machine washable.  If not, get them dry cleaned. Your local launderette usually have larger machines if they don’t fit. Using the upholstery attachment on your hoover, give your mattress a really good vacuum, getting into all the indented areas where dusts collects. Flip the mattress to ensure it gets even wear then spray with a fabric freshener and leave to air for the rest of the day. Wipe all around the bed frame with a damp cloth.  Don’t forget to vacuum under the bed too as lots of dust gathers there. Put fresh sheets on before bedtime and have sweet dreams.

Cut down on your ironing

I’m very lucky to have the perfect room for doing laundry.  Most of my washing gets dried on the victorian airer. Where possible, I hang everything on coat hangers so that most of the creases fall out while they’re drying. This also works the same for the washing line outside.

Dust and cobwebs

Quite often I notice a load of cobwebs have appeared on the ceiling. Use the extension of the vacuum cleaner to get up in the corners and get rid. After that, use the brush attachment to go around the skirting boards and collect the dust.  Using a damp cloth and hot soapy water, wipe the skirting. If you have old, decorative skirting boards like me, you might need to use a brush to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Mirrors and glass

I’ve always found the shop-bought glass cleaners end up leaving smears. The best solution for this is to use a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle. I use either paper towels or a microfibre cloth to wipe clean. This is also great for giving bathroom tiles a really good clean and sparkle.

Don’t be a couch potato

Give your sofas a good clean regularly to keep them looking their best.  They do get a lot of use in our house. Remove all scatter cushions and any loose seat or back cushions.  Collect any money, toys, food or general yukiness. Using the upholstery attachment, vacuum thoroughly including the arms.  Do the seat cushions too. Ours is a leather sofa so I use a leather clean and feed spray with a soft cloth. If yours is a fabric one, spot clean any marks with a sponge and a fabric shampoo. Where possible, switch the cushions around so they get even use. Plump up the scatter cushions and put any washable covers in the washing machine for a freshen up. On fabric sofas, spritz with a fabric freshener.

My go to reference for household tips is this booklet. Some of the tips above are inspired from here but I’ve altered them to suit me.

   

 It came with my ideal home magazine a couple of years ago and it’s great for all kinds of practical advice for the home.

Well, I hope you’re inspired now to go forth and clean and get your homes spic & span and ship shape & Bristol fashion!

Don’t forget your pinnies & headscarves in true 1950’s style!

Bye for now… xxx

This week I have been mostly…

  
Having Donkey rides! This was at the weekend at a national trust house we visited. He loved it and cried when it was time to get off. The donkeys were called Gavin and Stacey!

   
   
Making pomanders with my step daughter. I love the smell of oranges and cloves. That and cinnamon is just the essence of Christmas.

I’ve also been dressing the real tree in the dining room, I have to admit I think this is my favourite one.

   
    
    
   
Here’s a picture with one of our pooches, Amber.

  
She’s very cute isn’t she? The next morning I came downstairs to find she’d chewed a few ornaments from the tree. The cute ones are often the worst.

I’ve been wearing my Christmas jumper at every opportunity, I LOVE it! I’m getting all the wear I can out of it as after Christmas it’s not really appropriate.

  
I’ve been trying to do a bit more crochet, it’s coming on… Slowly. And I’ve squeezed in a couple of Christmas movies. The Christmas shopping is finally finished so I need to start wrapping soon, that’s going to be a mission and a half.

New girls

I’d like to introduce you to our two new chickens, named Georgia and Matilda. My hubby had been looking into getting some new feathered friends for a few days, then the other day, he just happened to take the long way home from work ( via North Wales!!) and arrived home with these two…

  
Pretty aren’t they? Georgia is the white one on the left. She’s a Light Sussex, and as we got married in East Sussex at The George, I decided that’s what she should be called. A bit of a tenuous link I know!

   
  
We always let our new girls have a run around the living room and have a few cuddles before we introduce them to the other chickens. That’s the difficult but necessary bit. There’s always going to be a bit of a scuffle when you put new girls in, it’s a territorial thing. There’s always a pecking order and it’s a completely natural ritual that has to take place. That doesn’t make it any easier though. A few feathers were shed but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Our big fluff ball Honey is a bit poorly at the moment. She has a sinus infection like a couple of our other girls have had this year. Antibiotics haven’t touched it so she’s going into the vets this week to get it drained. Poor girl 😔

  
We’re keeping her separate from the others so it doesn’t spread, and we let her roam around the living room last night. After a bit of walking around, she tucked herself into a corner and went to sleep.

Today was a gorgeous day weather wise, so we let all the girls loose in the garden.

   
   
Baby J loves the chickens so much

  
And the dogs too…

  
These two are so cute together 

  
Vicki xxx

 

Today

Today, I started off full of good intentions to be healthy. 

 
I’m yet to have the green tea but I have drunk about 4 glasses of lemon water.

Today, I saved this fabulous little chair from landfill. Baby J is made up with it. Just need to wash the cover as its a bit grubby.

  
Today, I blitzed the dining room and bought it these pretty little flowers for £1. Yes, one whole pound!! 

 
Today, I cleaned out the chickens. Not easy when they’re pecking at your toes I can tell you. Especially Natasha here, she’s the worst for it.

 
Today, I spent a few minutes with a cup of tea in the garden, chilling with one of the dogs. She’s a proper sun worshipper. 

 
Today, I couldn’t resist capturing some of the growing gorgeousness in our back garden. 

    
    
 
Do you love my heart shaped tomatoes growing there? My hubby bought them knowing I’m mad for anything heart shaped.

Today, I had a nice healthy dinner.

  
Huge mistake though, to try and eat it while baby J was still awake. Silly Vicki.

Now here’s the dilemma. My hubby is away with work tonight, do I take the opportunity to have control of the TV? Do I dust off the sewing machine and see what I can run up? Do I finally get my crochet hooks out of semi-retirement and watch the TV too? Or do I have a pamper evening? Think I’ll put the baby to bed, pour a little glass of wine and decide while watering the garden.

Hope you’ve all had a good day today xxx

Happy weekendy stuff

I woke up on Friday morning and looked out of the window to see a grey, rainy and generally yucky day outside. But something was telling me I needed to get out there. Like I needed to breath in big lungfulls of damp, warm, fresh air. So after breakfast that’s exactly what we did. I needed to go to the shops for a few baking and bbq bits so with coats and rain-covers, we headed off by foot instead of the car. It felt good. It was so peaceful and still, the rain had stopped but everywhere underfoot was wet. I absolutely love the smell you get after the rains have been. A real earthy, leafy smell. The smell of the outdoors and nature. It’s only about a twenty minute walk to our closest supermarket, and a rather nice walk it is too.

  
I’m sure we’ll be paying many visits to these fields with Baby J and a ball.

  
It was spookily quiet out, not another soul to be seen.

After we’d been to the shops we walked back the same way, admiring the gorgeous colours sprouting from the old walls.

  
I’ve been wanting to have a go at making elderflower cordial, so have been on the lookout for elderflower growing in the hedgerows. I’m not 100% sure what I’m looking for really. I saw this on our way home but need to do a bit more research. If anyone out there knows if this is the right stuff, do let me know!

 
Once home and Baby J tucked up in bed, I made this yummy cake ready for my step-sons 13th birthday.

  
Not bad for a packet mix. Tasted good and got brownie points for adding mini Oreos & chocolate fingers. We finished the day with another bbq as the weather had been kind for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday morning was glorious. Look at that blue sky …

  
We were able to eat breakfast, lunch & tea outside which was lovely. 

  It was very warm, and I managed to get a wee bit sunburnt, oops! I sat outdoors and did one of my favourite summertime things, podding peas! I remember helping my nan do it when I was a little girl & have loved it ever since.

  
Look at those perfect peas ready to be popped from their pod!

  
It’s a wonder that so many made it into the bowl. They’re so scrummy to eat straight from the pod. A lovely way to spend half an hour, with a little magazine time of course. August’s issue landed on my doormat this morning, can you believe it!! I’ve never got why they’re so ahead.

Late afternoon we decided to bundle everyone into the car, dogs and all, and head ten minutes to the beach. It was so nice, very breezy, but not too many people about. Perfect for the dogs to have a good run & Baby J to have his first proper paddle. He loved it!

   
 

He cried when we had to leave, aw, I did feel bad. We’ll definitely go back soon and for longer.

Sunday morning was forecast for heavy rain, but it wasn’t actually too bad. So me, hubby, baby j & the dogs piled back in the car and went off to west kirby marina for a walk. It was still tough to get parked even with the weather.

   
  

 

It is a good place to come for a walk, just the right length. It takes about 30-40 minutes to get around the whole lake. You can see right across to Wales from here, it’s an amazing sight.

   
   

Well that’s it for my tales for now. I hope you enjoy taking a little peek into my life and out & about on my mini travels. I know I like having this blog to be able to look back on. I really will be doing some crafting this week too so I’ll be back soon to tell you all about that and show you my fantabulous new kitchen too. 

Xxx