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Friday, 26 August 2011

August In Collage

Thank you for following my 'Colourful' August Adventures.  It has been a busy, exciting month.  I am off on the long awaited 'Glamping' trip, well I will be as soon as I have thrown everything into the car.  Have a Happy week folks!  See you all soon. xxx    

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A 'Real' Alpaca Adventure

I was so excited this morning, today I had arranged to go out into the 'Wilds of Worcestershire' to visit Cotswold Vale Alpacas 'Farm'.  What beautiful weather we had too.  You can see how parched the grass is, we have had a  very dry spell in this county.
We were made very welcome on the farm by Ginnie, who breeds Alpacas, spins, knits and felts with their gorgeous fleece.
  I have never been close up and personal with an Alpaca, they look adorable, unfortunately for me they are not up for hugs and cuddles but they do get close and show an interest in people.  Ginnie currently has thirty eight Alpaca with one more expected any day soon.  These were all the girls of various ages.  The array of natural colours is stunning.  There are Huacaya and Suri Alpaca, the Suri Alpaca having the longer fleeces and the Huacaya having a fluffier fleece.
I was surrounded by Alpaca.  They are adorable and have such a gentle none threatening nature.  They have such kind faces and they even look like they have a sweet smile.  I am quite nervous around horses, cows and large animals, but I felt fine surrounded by Alpaca.
Some of the babies were still suckling from their newly sheared Mums.
All babies are so cute aren't they?
I loved the way they were happy to chillax with us close by.  I couldn't help looking and seeing gorgeous knitted stripes of natural colour.  Since I have been spinning, I look at animals and see yarn!
Euan is a farmer in the making, with his 'Goat Farm' training this year and today feeding Alpaca.  He had a very hands on experience and really enjoyed himself.  He is very confident around all these different animals.  He is feeding 'Ace' here, Ace is a two year old Huacaya male.
This is another male, his name is Ewen.  Ewen has a fantastic fleece and he is a stud male.
Here is Euan feeding Ewen.
Mom and I have gone halves on Ace's fleece.  Boy oh boy, it is going to be a treat to spin with.  I can feel a luxurious shawl on my shoulders already, born and raised 'Worcestershire Alpaca'.
My apologies for the poor quality photograph, but I wanted to show you, Ginnie spins and sells her own Alpaca yarn.
She also knits these gorgeous bags and felts them into a very strong fabric, oooh I don't know how I resisted one of these!
They are sold with a label including a photograph of the animal that the fleece came from.  How cool is that!
Ooooh!  I don't know how I resisted one of these either!  A scrumptious litter of three week old kittens and we did get a cuddle.
This is the last photograph, it's Ronnie and Roxy, the pygmy goats!  These are little bundles of fun too.  I could definitely make room in my back garden.  What a brilliant Alpaca Adventure.   It was very educational and we had great fun.  I have some beautiful Alpaca fleece to enjoy.   I am off to work on a business plan!  I need a career change.  Euan would be a brilliant 'Farm Manager'.  I will definitely go back to the farm, I have asked Ginnie to let me know when the 'Australian Shearers' are in town!  Wink, wink!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Yeah Maaannn! Glastonbury!

This is my favourite place on the planet.  I have loved Glastonbury for over a decade.  I have never been to the Festival though, I think I am too old, unless I was 'Glamping' with my own porta loo!  I first visited Glastonbury on my birthday when Henry was about three, he was very cute back then.  He trudged up the Tor singing 'Happy Birthday' and 'I love my Mom' songs.  It melted my heart.  He still loves the Tor and is always happy there with good energy.  I have visited Glastonbury many times with and without the children.   I have stayed at The Shambhala twice,  for two day breaks and walked up the Tor alone, for Sunrise which was blissful and sunset which was blissful.  The last couple of times I have been to Glastonbury I just couldn't make it up the Tor.  My energy just wasn't there.  Euan was born with a club foot and has had three or four operations, he is fine and surgery has worked really well so far, but I am always conscious of him doing too much and I worry when he says his foot hurts, so we have played at the bottom of the Tor while Henry has made light work of going up and down and up and down!  I have a few problems with general fitness, extra weight doesn't help, my back is dodgey and my knees often ache.  I love this hill.  This time I was determined to make it to the top and so was Euan.
  Euan and Henry carried on without me, I used Lacey to pull me up!  I counted steps, I sat in peculiar places and regained my breath four times!  I cursed a little and met a few of my demons, but somehow I wheezed and puffed my way to the top!  It was like meeting an old friend again.  I must get fitter!  Euan was absolutely fine and very pleased with himself.  It was great to take Lacey to the top too (or rather she took me!)

I love this poem too:  'Jerusalem' by William Blake;

 "The poem was inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea, travelled to the area that is now England and visited Glastonbury.[2] The legend is linked to an idea in the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes a new Jerusalem. The Christian church in general, and the English Church in particular, used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace.[3]
In the most common interpretation of the poem, Blake implies that a visit of Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the "dark Satanic Mills" of the Industrial Revolution. Analysts note that Blake asks four questions rather than asserting the historical truth of Christ's visit; According to this view, the poem says that there may, or may not, have been a divine visit, when there was briefly heaven in England. But that was then; now, we are faced with the challenge of creating such a country once again.[4][5]"  (Wikipedia)

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land

I cant explain what it is about this hill, it has many myths and legends about it.  'The Ancient Isle of Avalon', 'The Home of the Fairy King', 'A place where Dragons Sleep', 'The Heart Chakra of the Planet', 'Part of an Ancient and enormous Astrological Map', 'An Elysium, where the veil is thin between this world and other worlds'.  It really depends on what you read...  To me the energy is tangible.  It is simply a fantastic place.  It draws many 'Pilgrims' from all over the globe.
The humped hill you can see in the centre if this picture is Wearyall Hill  It is suppose to be the place where Joseph of Arimathea stuck his staff in the ground and from it grew 'The Holy Thorn'.  In recent years ( the last couple of years) this alleged 'Holy thorn' tree has been victim to brutal vandalism, chopping and burning which is very sad.  There is an off cut that grows in the grounds of the ruins of 'Glastonbury Abbey' that flowers each 'Christmas'.  Glastonbury Abbey is also said to be the burial place of 'King Arthur and Guinevere'.  Of course Merlin is asleep in a cave within the Tor.  He will return!
I took my own 'Glastonbury Love heart' picture.
This is one of the clearer carvings on the tower, it is 'Saint Brigid' milking her 'Holy Cow'.  Saint Brigid and the pagan Goddess Brigid are often taken as the same person.  Glastonbury Abbey was said to be the site of a major, ancient Druid centre, prior to becoming the site of the The first Christian Church in England.  Whatever your beliefs Glastonbury has been a major spiritual Centre for thousands of years.
At the foot of the Tor are two Holy Springs, This is the White Spring and across the road is 'The Red Spring or The Blood Spring'.  It is believed by many that the water has healing properties.  It sure is refreshing anyway after puffing and panting your way up the hill.  I like to have a slurp from both.  People tie little 'prayer' rags and ribbons around the springs and in the nearby trees.  There were also little 'corn dollies' decorating the spring.  It is said these waters have never run dry and they are always pure.  Euan said it was amazing as it cured his cold, I pointed out it was the first I had heard about him having a cold!  
This is just a random shot of Glastonbury High Street many of the buildings were built using stone from the 'Dissolution of the Monastries' in 1539 when Glastonbury Abbey was destroyed.  The last Abbot, Richard Whiting resisted and was hanged. drawn and quartered as a traitor to the King Henry VIII, on Glastonbury Tor on November the 15th 1539 .  (The dog in the picture is not Lacey it is just a 'Look a likie'.) 
 For those of you that have hung on in there and actually read this rambling post I thank you and I have a little reward.  Look what I spotted in a shop window in the High Street.......
I feel a 'Mini Glasto Granny Square' Project coming on!  Oooh Fringe and all! 

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Once we had established none of us had Trench foot or frostbite, we decided to go to the beach!  (For my Yurting trip next week I am packing wellies, thermals and my trusty Aran!) Geographically, where we live, 'The Midlands' is about as far from the coast as anyone can be in the UK.  We live about a 2 hour drive from this beach, from the campsite in Wookey it is only about a 30 minute trip.  Kids and dogs love the beach.  This is one of the rare 'Dog Beaches' and Lacey loves it.  She comes alive, chasing seagulls, shaking seaweed and looking for the biggest lump of driftwood that she can possibly find.  This is the beach at Brean Downs.  It is an area of historical and geological interest.
We had the beach almost to ourselves.
 Euan likes to explore, and Lacey isn't too far behind.
See how many goats you can count up there!  (But don't give yourself eye strain!)  I was a bit worried about them but they prance about up there without a care in the world.
There is a steep path to the top of Brean Downs, but there was a sign the last time I went, giving the statistics for how many dogs fall over the edge each year!  The 'National Trust' who own the site say there have been times when statistically a dog a month loses it's life over the cliff, there have been incidents of two dogs in as many weeks!  Really, Dogs, cliffs, rabbits and goats is not a great combination.  Lacey pulls on her lead, there is no way I would take her up there and I get terrible vertigo, it is more about edges than heights for me.
It is no good playing 'Spot the Teenager' in these pictures because he slept in the car on the way there, when we arrived he mumbled for us to carry on he would stay in the car to sleep, so a bit bemused Euan and I left him.  Having a teenage brother causes Euan a great deal of age inappropriate entertainment and amusement, but it also puzzles him somewhat.  How can you not enthuse about the beach?  He kept talking abut Henry and how much he would really like this beach, and we should go and get him, I explained it was Henry's choice and he was ok to make that choice.  It amazes me how having kids is so transient, the dynamics always shift.
I tried to photograph Lacey but she moved so fast I just got the tip of her tail and shadow.
We plodded back to the car to find Henry waking up, he said 'Come on then shall we go?'  'Where?' we asked.  'The Beach' he replied!!!  He didn't even know we had already been!  He is going to be a pure joy 'Glamping' next week!  He will get chance to go to the beach though.
I am really enjoying reading other 'Holiday Blogs' at the moment.  I guess I must be intrinsically nosey!  I am adding more places to my 'Must Visit One Day List'.  My Next post will be about a trip to my favourite place,    'Glastonbury' - 'The Ancient Isle of Avalon'.   

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Character Building Camping!

This is Wookey High Street.  Wookey is a tiny village in Somerset.  It is a perfect place to keep a teenager out of mischief.
There is not much night life, unless the Cemetery livens up after midnight!
Wookey Farm 'Goat Farm' is safely tucked away about a mile down a tiny country lane.  The lane is so small it even has grass growing in the middle of it in places.  I think it is great to find yourself in the middle of nowhere.
Euan enjoyed the rope swings again.
The Teenager kept his distance!  He didn't want to ruin his street cred!  These 'Holiday' snaps are a bit like 'Spot the Ball' competitions.  Can you spot the teen?  To be honest I am amazed he is still speaking to me, we had the coldest night of my life on the first night!  It genuinely made me reflect on homeless people, I was so miserably cold and it is August.  I have seen homeless people in London sleeping under cardboard boxes in December!  I am aware all UK Cities have homelessness issues and many large towns too.  I was under canvas, full clothed including my coat, Freezing.  I was so desperately cold I even wore Euans shorts on my head as I did not have a hat or hood!  I usually do not feel the cold.  Both boys were much too cold too.  I am not a small lady and Euan climbed into my single sleeping bag with me at 2am, his teeth were chattering and he was trying very hard to be brave!  I find it tricky enough to stay put on a single inflatable mattress, two of us zipped into one sleeping bag was a challenge to say the least!  Henry had his own tent!  I had a very realistic and stressful dream there was a blizzard and we lost  him in the snow!  I was quite relieved to see him in the morning, even though he had a face like thunder.  I went straight out to buy Woolly hats and thick socks in readiness for the next night!  I didn't think to pack them for a short 'Summer' break.
The Sunshine came out so my friend could visit with her three children.  It was even warm enough for little bare toe toes!
Molly-Rose and Toby-Joe are ten months old.  I know they will very soon be teenagers!  Aren't they a beautiful pair?  The children enjoyed playing together and the Mum's enjoyed a cuppa and a natter.
Molly likes 'Teenagers' and they sat together for quite a while in mutual entertainment.  Toby-Joe can crawl and liked the younger boys, he was desperate to join in cricket and football.  Molly preferred a bit of intellectual 'raspberry blowing' with Henry.  It is lovely to catch up with old friends, it stirs up many memories and is thought provoking in a 'There we were and Here we are!' kind of way.  I found it quite weird watching our five children together.  I wonder if we will see each others Grandchildren!

(I am sure it would be kinder to you if I broke my 'holiday' snaps into separate posts.  I am so grateful and happy to have new followers I would hate anyone to drop off with boredom!  Kids, Camping and quiet UK Villages is not everyone's cup of tea.  I am feeling much better about it all now I am home.  I have had a deep bubble bath and I know I have a warm, dry bed for the night.  I never knew two nights could feel like so long!  I feel like I have returned home after a major ordeal.   'Whose character was I trying to build?!)  

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Off Camping Again - Wish me Luck!

I found this funny
Well the car is packed to the max.  The dog is excited and my youngest is excited.  My oldest son is still in bed and is probably trying to get forgotten and left behind.  It is another one of 'Mom's Crazy Character Building Road Trips'.  "A time to bond!  Spend some quality time together!  It's what memories are made of!"  I told my teenage son yesterday when we were having an argument. I won't show him this post, because, Yep, the weather forecast is not good for the South West, in fact it is the opposite of 'good'!  Heavy Sustained Rain is the suggestion.  Come often do these weather dudes get it wrong?  How hard can it be to pitch a tent in the rain, surely it will be easy with a bit of good old fashioned family 'Teamwork'.  If it goes wrong I just blame the teenager, right?  The pain will all be forgotten over a slug of Somerset Scrumpy surely!  My partner is not daft he is staying home on Chicken duties.  Tomorrow I am due to meet up with an old friend and her five year old son and ten month old twins...that is my motivation.  Wish me luck.  Bon Voyage and all that.  See you soon...

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

'Soft fruit' Meringues and 'Gala Pie'

The Cultivated Blackberries in my garden have grown really well this year and a ripening beautifully.  I have been picking and freezing them.  I like my cultivated variety because the blackberries are huge, fat and juicy, but the real bonus is there are no thorns on the plant!  The other morning I had a chicken by my feet doing vertical jumps, trying to peck the bag of blackberries our of my hand.  They love the soft fruit and there is enough to go round.  When the chickens keep laying such fantastic eggs I can't begrudge them some fruit.  I do object to them scratching in my vegetable beds though and shoo them off a bit over enthusiastically.
Here is another tasty recipe including eggs.  It is great served hot or cold, it would be good for picnics with what is left of the UK Summer weather.
I have Linked this to Lavender and Loveage 'Herbs on Saturday' follow the link for your chance to win a copy of 'The Cooks Herb Garden'

Gala Pie
500g of shortcrust pastry to line a 2lb loaf tin
400g of sausage meat
150g of diced Pork loin (I used loin steaks and snipped them up)
150g of bacon, I used lardons.
1 onion very finely diced
2 tablespoons of Freshly chopped sage
4 large hard boiled Eggs Peeled (or six smaller ones)
Pepper to taste
Egg Yolk to glaze the pastry

Line the loaf tin with shortcrust pastry, roll out a pastry lid for the pie and reserve...
Mix the sausage, pork and bacon together with the onion and sage.  Add pepper to your own taste.
Spoon half of the meat mixture into the pastry case.
Place the hard boiled eggs into the mixture.
Cover the eggs with the remaining half of the meat.
Place on the pastry lid.
Brush with Egg yolk to glaze.
Put in a hot oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
Cover with foil and cook in a medium oven for an hour.
Brush again with the egg yolk glaze and cook on high for a further 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

With some spare egg whites I whizzed up some meringues.  I don't have an electric whisk so Euan and I took turns until our muscles ached, but the reward was worth it.
Meringue, with Creme Fraiche and fresh berries (Blackberries and Raspberries) Delicious.
We love our chickens!

Edit:   If you do happen to find yourself with a glut of Blackberries this year (and I strongly suggest you do!)
'A Trifle Rushed' has a Fantastic Use for Them, Here:

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Yummy Yurt Day

I am afraid this is my only photograph from Yummy Yurt Day.  My new friend Tom has used my trolley to trudge my Kiwi Spinning wheel up a woody uphill path.  Yurt day was a fantastic success, I was too busy to take pictures and when I wasn't busy it kind of felt inappropriate to take pictures as people were all happy and relaxed, chatting away and doing their own thing.  I contemplated photographs and getting people to pose, but I really didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable or stop the flow of chat and craft that was happening.  ( There are more photographs that have been posted in The Yummy Yurt Day thread in the Yummy Yarns UK Group, after looking at the ones of me today I have started to 'Diet'!!!)   Some Yurt folk were knitting, others were working on crochet.  I was fascinated by crocheted 'Plarn',  plastic yarn made from carrier bags.  It made a very strong durable bag.  Others were spindling and there were three wheels.  Two of which were mine!  Yes I have a guilty confession, I have been unfaithful to my little Kiwi.  I bought an Ashford 'Joy', second hand for a very good price a couple of months ago.  It has been hidden away!  I did sell some old jewelry that I did not wear to fund the extravagance though.
Here she is folded up and not in use.  I think she is lovely.  I used her for the first time on Yurt Day.  I had been saving some fibre that I received in a Yummy Yarns Easter swap package, from my lovely swap partner Fran, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time in the Yummy Yurt.
I don't know if it was the fibre, the wheel, the setting or the company, but I had a lovely spin.
My new friend Tom is having his 9th Birthday today and he had been really looking forward to 'Yummy Yurt Day'.  He is very enthusiastic about learning to spin.  It was my pleasure to provide him with a spindle and some fibre of his own.  He is a little star and stuck at spindling for about an hour.  It is not an easy skill to master.  He was very excited about having a go on a wheel, so the deal was struck, he could use my Kiwi if he could get it up the hill to the Yurt.  Bless him, he was a super star.  He really had me laughing, such a friendly, polite boy.  We sat next to each other spinning away.  First he practiced treadling, getting an even speed and changing the direction of the wheel.  Then he used some yarn to practice treadling it evenly onto the bobbin.  He did get into a few 'pickles' and tangles but I left him to it, to sort himself out.  After I had left he had a go spinning fibre on another wheel.  I think the last I heard he was looking at wheels on ebay!  Watch this space...He has a deal with his Mom, he will spin the yarn and she will knit it.
I had to buy a momento of the day and this fibre will be a real treat to work with.
It was great to meet new like minded people and to meet Ravelry friends in person.  We had a lovely relaxed day, including a Yummy Yurt Lunch.  We all loved our Woodland Yurt setting, it is a shame the weather prevented us from running around and playing hobbits!  I think we have started a pressure group to have another Yurt Day in the future.  It has made me quite excited about my 'Glamping' holiday in just under two weeks.  I will be staying in a Mongolian Yurt for a week!!  I hope I survive to tell the tale.
This is the Yurt I will be stopping in.
My parents are coming with me, my boys and the dog!  We will also pitch a big tent.  We are sure to have fun as it is a couple of miles from the Cornish coast and we might have some time for running around and playing hobbits!