Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I hit another milestone on my weightless journey today.
I'm really happy with the way things are going, I've been clearing out my wardrobe after losing five dress sizes and needed something new to wear which didn't make me look like a 'bag lady'...lol...I've donated five big sacks of clothing (there'll be more eventually) to The Yorkshire Air Ambulance Charity, they do a fantastic job and always need funds!
I've a lot to lose, still have a way to go, so when I began I decided I'd award my self a little something after each ten pounds lost, just a little incentive to me from me to keep me on the right track, so...this week, another ten pound reward!
I decided it doesn't have to be anything big or important so it's usually something which I don't actually need but do covet.
This time I chose a little sewing machine for the dolls house I'm renovating.
I saw it couple of weeks ago and promised myself if it was still for sale I'd buy it at my next weightless milestone...it was so I have!
I'm really pleased with it, it's so cute and I know I should really be getting on with making furniture etc first but I couldn't resist it.
You see, it reminds me of my gran.
She had one pretty similar and a little box for her sewing equipment too, just like the box here and she kept it in the same place next to the treadle under the machine when it wasn't in use.
I have started on my furniture.
I've already made a little table, two beds and a three piece suite frame which I've padded ready for covering.
I've made curtain poles and curtains too.
DH has brought me bits of wadding and materials to use and I'm enjoying it immensely.
Here's the little sewing machine which reminds me so much of my gran.
Monday, March 31, 2014
I didn't manage to get a blog in last week what with one thing and another so this was my walk I should have posted then.
As some of you already know, my DH is an upholsterer and part of the job entails visiting clients in their own homes so sometimes he takes on a job which is a bit farther away than the radius he usually works in.
If it's a long way off we usually combine it with a walk in the area and that's what happened last week.
A lady who had used DH's services before moved away from the area and has recommended him to a new friend she's made in the area she's moved to so we set off to visit her in a beautiful part of North Yorkshire we hadn't been to for quite some time.
We weren't disappointed!
The day dawned beautifully sunny, bright blue skies and a gentle breeze.
The night before had been rain, lots of rain, and we were thinking maybe it would be very wet so it was a pleasant surprise to draw back the curtains to see the sun streaming in through the window.
After a sustaining breakfast of porridge with sweet black cherries I made a couple of flasks up, coffee for DH and plain old hot water for me...I never drink tea or coffee unlike the average quintessential English person...I added a couple of apples and a handful of almonds to my bag and we were set.
We intended to find a nice little pub for lunch.
The drive down was lovely, it was so nice to see the sun and feel the breeze through the open window.
Spring has sprung very well in some places and not so good in others.
Most of the trees are still devoid of any green growth but the hedges are beginning to colour up quite nicely and here and there the blackthorn is in flower. Their creamy white flowers cover the bare stems before any leaves emerge making them easy to distinguish from the hawthorns which open their leaves before flowering and are only now coming into tiny leaves or buds making the hedges take on an ethereal greenish glow.
Delicate primroses, sulphur yellow celandines and sweet white violets studded the hedgerow bottoms and pretty dancing daffodils were making their appearance felt.
Small finches flittered through the trees, their undulating way of flying making them easy to spot whilst cock pheasants resplendent in their breeding plumage strutted around their territories like alert soldiers keeping out the enemy! We even spotted a couple of boxing hares but they're notorious for disappearing at the first sight of anyone so no picture this time.
We stopped in our usual spot in Fairydale to watch a buzzard being harried by two crows, he'd strayed too near to their untidy, twiggy nests in the rookery high in the beech trees, they eventually got him to leave the area as they never gave him any peace, constantly flying at him, even brave enough to be tweaking his tail and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
It's so much fun to watch, they're like little dare devil pilots zooming about on a mission!
New spring lambs gambolled in the green fields, their woolly little skins always seem too big for them, they sag and crinkle as if they could do with a good iron. They were energetically playing 'I'm the king of the castle' on the little muck heaps provided by the farmers but never straying far from their dams. Their little haunting, wavering voices carried on the breeze as the dams answered in lower tones and their docked little bobbing tails fair shivered and shook as the enjoyed the game.
We drove over the high tops of the wolds stopping at the summit before dropping down into the Vale of Pickering where the vista was spread before us like a patchwork quilt, it shimmered in the heat haze making the far distance seem a smoky blue.
We sat, relaxed and happy, as we drank in the beauty.
A field of early oilseed rape was already in flower, the beautiful yellow field reached out before us like a cloth of gold...thankfully the horrible smell which goes with the beauty wasn't yet in evidence.
Motoring on we eventually arrived in the beautiful little village of Settrington-with-Scagglethorpe. It's a gorgeous little place which a lot of people just drive past, catching a glimpse of the beck as they cross the bridge, as the main road runs right past it but not through it.
They don't know what a delight they're missing!
First things first, we had to find the client's house.
The village is made up of two street which run parallel to each other with the beck meandering through the middle of them, there is a single track lane, two bridges and two fords and little ginnels which link the streets.
We needed to be at the far side of the beck but the fords were still too high to cross due to the recent flooding so DH had to take a circuitous route round the backs of the houses so we could cross the water.
The beck is a tributary of the River Derwent and has been very high these past few weeks, it has lowered considerably but even the locals weren't using it yet. Some of the banks were still boggy and wet around the bridges too.
Well, we eventually got to the right house and...no one was in!!
Her friend, DH's other client, came across from her house to tell us they'd been unexpectedly invited out for Sunday lunch and would be back later so we decided to walk around the village whilst we waited.
We parked the car up in the new clients driveway and set off along the banks of the beck. The breeze was ruffling the long green fronds of the weeping willows and a magnificent cockerel was leading his harem along the hedge and drystone wall bottoms foraging for titbits. He gave one almighty crow when I ventured too near and en-masse, they legged it disappearing into a farm gateway never to be seen again!
We crossed the beck by the little wooden bridge, the water was quite deep and running strongly, looking down the length of the beck from the centre of the railings. It sparkled in the sunlight. Fronds of water weed and grass drifted in the current giving it a green glow.
Following the narrow path around the beck edges, we threaded our way beneath the overhanging willow fronds which dappled the sunlight over the path as the sun shone through the gently wafting arc of greenery.
The cottages on the opposite banks shone mellowly in the sunlight as the fine sandstone soaked up the sunshine.
The little patches to the front of them were filled with daffodils, violets and the now dying green foliage of the earlier snowdrops.
We could hear the hum of a lawn mower, somebody obviously thought the grass needed a haircut though it's very early to start in on that particular activity, and a young couple were busy planting their seed potatoes. This is early too as the old tradition states you always plant them on Easter Monday whatever the date as it's a moveable feast, they seemed to be getting in early!
A little robin serenaded us from the bare branches of an old gnarled apple tree before dropping down onto the path before us and poking about in the hedge bottom. It's bright red breast sparkled in the sunlight but the bird was too quick for me and my photo came out blurred! I've called the bird it as it's impossible to tell male from female as their colours are exactly the same.
The lovely old parish church of All Saints stands atop a steep incline commanding a magnificent view over the village. The churchyard was awash with bright yellow daffodils all fluttering and dancing in the breeze as per Wordsworth. There was a beautiful cerulean blue sky overhead and it looked so peaceful, standing there having rebutted the ravages of time, a sentinel to the thirteenth century craftsmen who built it.
Adjascent is Settrington House, a magnificent fifteenth century country house built for Lord Sykes, the owner of Sledmere Hall. It was used only at week-ends to entertain shooting parties but is now lived in permanently and is a private dwelling.
The lodge gates looked beautiful, all gold and black wrought iron marred only by their surroundings which boasted several large signs stating the land was private property and trespassers would be prosecuted...naturally we didn't venture through!
Sauntering back down the hill we rested awhile on a comfy wooden bench by the side of the little brick bridge, the sun was warm on our backs and it would have been so easy to doze off but a car arrived, edging it's way along the lane before disappearing into the driveway of a cottage, the cottage we'd parked up in, DH's client had arrived home so we followed along, climbing the hill to the house to meet her.
The view from her garden was wonderful, looking down on the beck and paths and up to the properties on the other bank.
She very kindly said I could look around while her and DH did business but I sat on an old moss covered stone step and gazed out across the valley.
The weeping willows swayed their green fronds and the little beck burbled past the quaint stone cottages and I fancifully wished i lived there...not much chance of that...lol...house prices are astronomical for quaint country cottages and besides most of them have been in family ownership for generations so they don't come up for sale very often.
I did eventually stroll along the paths between the flower beds, spring flowers were sparse except for daffodils as it seems more of a minimalist garden than the country one I'd have chosen but it was still beautiful in it's own way.
An old gnarled apple tree was hung with necklaces of stones, each with a hole through and strung on wire. It did look effective!
Little steps bathed in sunlight headed up to an area behind the house where two ponies grazed contentedly and old chimney pots had been planted up with flowers to make an interesting feature in a bare corner.
A Chinese style archway led you through rosemary hedges, already in flower I couldn't resist squeezing them to get the heady scent.
I sat on the bench at the top of the garden and relaxed, watching an old beech tree in the churchyard which the crows had chosen as their rookery. They were busy bringing twigs to titivate their old nests and cawing raucously to each other as the colony began to establish their nest heiracy for the breeding season. I like to watch them but I don't think I'd like to live near them, I bet they wake you up at the crack of sparrow!
We found a nice little pub in Scagglethorpe, The Ham & Cheese, which was doing Sunday lunches and very nice it was too.
All in all a good day out.
The ford across the beck
Sunlight dapples the path
The noisy rookery
A beautiful weeping willow
The seat by the beck
Mellow sandstone cottages
All Saints Church
Settrington Houses's magnificent gates
Chimney pot planters
Anyone got an iron?
Pretty white violets
Creamy blackthorn flowers
A host of golden daffodils
Early oilseed rape...looks beautiful...smells yuck!
The chickens legged it when I got too near!
Pretty cottages across the beck
Monday, March 17, 2014
Well, yesterday was another morning of sitting watching DH garden whilst I itched to be helping but there's only so much you can do with one hand...lol...very frustrating!
It was a bright day with a clear blue sky, scudding fluffy white clouds and just right for a long walk. The only bugbear being the very strong and very chilly north east wind.
DH is an upholsterer and part of his job entails three visits to customers in their homes. The first is to see and measure up their items, the second to take away the items when the material has arrived and the third to return the items in all their finished glory.
Yesterday was the third visit to a customer who used to live near us but then moved away down towards the Holderness Plain after buying an old water mill. They're renovating it themselves and it meant a nice trip with their furniture.
The Old Mill is set in a little shallow sided valley on the banks of the mill pond and race, a manmade structure that saved enough water to work the water wheel to grind the flour. Sadly none of that is left now, just the mill pond, the race and the millers house.
As we rounded the bend into the drive way it looked breath takingly gorgeous. We could see that the beautiful elliptical pond had small streams running from each end of it, snaking their way across the fields in a thin silvery line.
It's ingenious how the pond was constructed to change an ankle depth little brook into enough depth of water to force the water wheel to turn. The narrow wide stepped run off from the pond is called the mill race, it actually generated enough force to make the water race across the mill wheel's wooden bucket paddles to turn the mill wheel.
It's a pity that part of the building has been demolished.
The pond was sparkling in the sunlight, swaying green fronded weeping willows and yellow blossomed forsythia bounding the edges as the wind ruffled water displayed breath taking reflections of the blue sky and the trees...so pretty.
Further down the drive pretty yellow dancing daffodils were swaying in the wind under the protection of a small grove of horse chestnut trees. The tree's sticky buds were already reddening up with the first of their new spring leaves.
It reminded me of a verse my dad used to say:
She wore her yellow petticoat.
She wore her greenest gown.
She turned to the north wind
And curtsied up and down.
Who am I?
Answer: A daffodil.
After leaving the mill we drove back up into the wolds again leaving the flat Holderness Plain behind us. Wind turbines, those huge blots on the landscape, were abundant on the tops of the wolds, you could hear the 'whumf, whumf' of their huge arms as they steadily turned in the sunshine .
Eventually they were behind us and the greening fields of the wolds met our gaze. We were aiming for Londesbrough Hill and a walk in the beech woods that lead down to the rim of the valley with it's distant views of the flat plains of Holderness.
We stopped in a lay-by and donned our walking boots.
it was quite sheltered behind the belt of trees but it was deceiving as DH found out to his cost...lol...ever the brave man he didn't put his coat on...Uh! Uh! he should have known better!
Out of the tree line the wind was fierce and very cold. I was snug in my fleece, complete with hat, scarf and gloves whilst DH shivered...lol...he'd actually said in the car "I won't need my coat, I've got my vest, flannel shirt and a thick jumper on so it won't be cold'...famous last words!!
We stepped out into the first ride, originally fenced around the wire mesh and occasional piece of barbed wire showed through the greenery of ground elder and ivy which had covered it almost from view.
The wood is actually part of the Londesborough Estate and private property but the fence has been down for years and no one seems to mind who walks there so we were happy enough even though we were technically trespassers!
The undergrowth was carpeted in the new bright green shoots of ground elder and occasionally little purple sweet violets and yellow primroses poked their pretty heads through their ruffs of green leaves to brighten the way a little.
Tiny little paths converged into the ride which was carpeted with the fallen russet leaves of the beeches. Crisp and crackly they crunched underfoot as we walked.
A brave little marmalade hoverfly sat on the bright yellow head of a dandelion, it didn't move when I took it's picture, perhaps it needed to warm up in the sunshine.
The beech trees were still bare of shoots though some of the smaller branches were still clothed in their crisp russet brown leaves, remnants of autumn which hadn't fallen yet. The leaves rustled in the wind.
Looking upwards the beech's bare branches swayed and shimmied in the wind, I felt dizzy after taking the shot, from looking upwards and the trees seeming to move, and had to hang on to DH until I got my orientation back!
The loggers had been at work thinning out the trees and large piles of logs lay in uniform lengths and piles dotted between the trees, the smell of sap was redolent and the ends of the logs seemed to glow in the sunlight which dappled down through the canopy to the woodland floor.
A squirrel's drey caught my eye, the perfectly round construction wedged high in the tree, built around and between two forks, it was bedecked with russet beech leaves and you could even see the little entrance hole...not sure if anyone was home but we did see a little grey squirrel further down the track.
As we neared the rim of the wold the wind seemed to get stronger, blasting into us making it difficult for me to take a photograph as I couldn't seem to keep the camera still...I'm only using one hand properly...hence the blurred picture of the squirrels drey!
The loggers had trimmed the brushwood at the edge of the wood so we had a clear view across the Holderness plain to Drax Power Station and beyond to Londesborough Hall itself.
Every time I see Drax it reminds me of my eldest son.
The cooling towers are always belching steam out and often the clouds seem as if they are almost to the tops of the towers so he dubbed it a 'cloud factory'. He was only four at the time but the name stuck and we always call it that now.
Yesterday the clouds were very low and it seemed misty in the far distance so the power station looked ethereal, like it was a fairy tale castle rising from the mist...silly I know but I wanted my son to be there to see it!
Not sure what he'd have thought...lol...he's forty now!
The only thing wrong with the woodland walk was there didn't seem to be any birds, no birdsong or pretty littlies flitting from branch to branch as we disturbed them...very odd!
DH seemed minute as he strolled through the tall young birches, lots of them were being well and truly hugged by the parasitic ivy. They looked pretty but it will eventually turn to a deathly hold for the trees.
The ivies were still sporting their purpley-green berries, their leaves looked so pretty with their delicate veining.
Some of the little twigs also had lichens on them, pretty sage green and pale yellow, caused by the wet weather we've had.
Arriving back at the car windswept and rosy cheeked I took my coat off and re-parted my hair whilst DH put his coat and the heater on!
He sat warming his hands around a steaming mug of coffee as the warmth flowed back into him.
It was a good walk, a little cold but very invigorating and it didn't rain which is a bonus after all the wet weather we've been experiencing.
I thoroughly enjoyed it!
The beautiful mill pond
Pretty yellow forsythia
Daffodils under the horse chestnut trees
Marmalade hoverfly on a dandelion flower
DH looks small under the tall young beech trees
Parasitic ivy hugs the beech trees
The swaying canopy that made me feel dizzy!
Pretty yellow primroses
Yellow and green lichens on a twig
Delicate veining on an ivy leaf
A well constructed squirrel's drey
Londesborough Hall c1589
Drax Power Station aka The Cloud Factory!
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The weathermen forecast that sunday would be the hottest day of the year so far, hard to believe after the wettest on record but they were right!
Sunday dawned with clear blue skies and warm sunshine...officially we were hotter than Greece!
After a leisurely breakfast in the conservatory, watching the birds on the feeders, DH faffed about in the garden whilst I sat on the bench near the pond, in the sunshine and watched...I usually faff about too but l'm recovering from an allergic reaction which made me ill and a painful torn deltoid muscle in my shoulder and have been told to take it easy...so I watched, all the while itching to be out there faffing and did succumb a couple of times by pulling a few unwanted items before being told in no uncertain terms to 'Sit down and behave!' :-(
He did promise a ride out if I did behave, so behave I did! :-)
The day seemed to grow warmer and warmer so that when we did set off we were in t shirts, with the car windows wound down and the air conditioner on too!
I knew I wouldn't be able to walk very far so with that in mind we decided to visit Filey Dams Nature Reserve, one of the smallest in the country at only six hectares but it boasts the only remaining freshwater marshes in the area.
The walk between hides is short, the whole reserve can be walked in five minutes but it's a beautiful little place with lots to see and watch though this time of year the wild life is a little sparse.
The first hide is only fifty steps away from the car park but even before we reached it a chirpy little chiff-chaff was proclaiming his territory from the top of a bare birch tree. We couldn't see him but his repetitive call, from which he gets his name, sounded long and clear over the area.
A cocky little robin redbreast eyed us cheekily as we passed under his perch in the wispy bare branches, his melodious song echoing through the trees.
The hide was empty, the darkness engulfed us as we tried to open the shutters quietly. Sunshine glistened over the surface of the lagoon as canada geese wiffled in to land, their feet skidding across the meniscus like they were water skiing and a pretty little female pheasant pecked desultorily at the brown vegetation around the edges.
A loved up pair of greylag geese left a wake as they swam out to the island, the gander seemed very attentive as they disappeared into the long grass. DH tried to open another shutter but succeeded in banging it and the gander's head appeared above the grass peering this way and that at the noise...he was certainly wary and also very comical.
We watched as a large flock of noisy black headed gulls arrived, their raucous cries ringing out over the water disturbing the peace and quiet and the ever vigilant greylag gander once again raised his head above the parapet to see what all the commotion was!
We did wonder if they were nest building.
We left the hide, moving down along the wire meshed board walk to the smaller lagoon edged around with pussy willows, their fluffy little buds had just appeared, delightful small grey soft growths along the stems.
There's a seat at the end of the walk so you're sat out in the middle of the lake. The sides and back of you are surrounded with the soft reed beds, habitat for the orange tip butterflies, frogs, toads and great crested newts whilst to the front is an open expanse of crystal clear placid water.
As we sat there we could hear a lone frog croaking his love song forlornly in the hope of an answer but he seemed to be the first arrival and no other frog answered his call.
Spring seemed to have sprung for some of the residents.
A poor little mallard duck was being pursued by two very persistent suitors and even though she kept flying off across the lagoon they followed and gave her no peace. She was flapping off continually and squawking her indignance at very opportunity. The drakes can be so aggressive in their lust that they have been known to drown the poor little females, sometimes she can have six or seven drakes all over her!
The mallard drakes are such pretty birds with their iridescent green heads, yellow beaks, orange legs and one purple feather to their wings, I love the cocky little curls to their tails too.
The feisty little females are drab in comparison though their plumage is a pretty mottle of creams and browns necessary for camouflage when they're sitting on eggs.
The other resident of the lagoon was a lone and very vocal coot, for such a small bird it made an awful lot of noise, very loud too!
With her pretty white face, red eyes and jet black body she makes an arresting sight as she paddles away around the fringes of the marsh picking at the water plants and searching for insects and larvae and emitting such a haunting call.
We went on to the second hide, it covers more of the same lagoon as the first hide but further around. They use highland cattle on the banks to keep down the vegetation but they weren't there today probably taken in as the marsh had flooded with the bad winter and is only just returned to it's normal level.
We wandered back through the birch wood grove.
I love silver birches with their peeling bark and beautiful russet and white trunks. They often have new catkins at the same time as their cones and today was no exception. The catkins were out in abundance, their pale greeney-yellow appendages dingle-dangling to sway in the gentle breeze, tinged with a deep marooney purple at the edges of the seed pods...so beautiful.
The golden sunlight filtered down through the bare canopy dappling the pathway and flashing bright glints at us.
We spent a very pleasant hour in the reserve, we didn't see another soul and it was so nice to not be bundled up in wet weather clothing, to stroll along the wooden walkways above the water and feel the sunshine on our backs.
It didn't last of course, as I'm typing this I'm back in a warm jumper, with the heating going and if I look out of the window the garden is covered in a pristine whiteness from a very hard frost whilst the fog is making swirling shapes against the backdrop of the cherry trees but...at least it isn't raining!
Beautiful birch catkins
The very vocal little coot
The ever protective greylag goose
Lagoon in the sunshine
Mallard drake, this one's a bit of a hybrid as he's got white flanks which he shouldn't really have!
A pretty little hen pheasant
Thursday, March 06, 2014
I decided when I began my weightloss journey to lose in increments of ten pounds at a time and reward myself after each one.
Well, this week saw my seventh reward arrive.
I usually pick something that I want but don't really need as a treat. They weren't meant to be expensive things, just little encouragement gifts and over time I've had things as diverse as a new nail polish, a lobster and even a desk lamp.
This time, more by good luck than good management, I've chosen a dolls house!
Sounds a bit bizarre but I've never had one, not even as a child, and have wanted one since I was a little girl, unfortunately over the years the prices of them have sky rocketed so they were well out of my league but....
Last week, walking past a second hand shop what did I espy...there in the window was a dilapidated looking Lundby dolls house from the fifties and I just had to have it!
Lundby houses are quite expensive so I was expecting it to be dear but it wasn't. The nice man in the shop said it had been reserved by a lady who wanted it as a Christmas gift but she hadn't returned after paying a deposit so he'd have to give her chance to see if she still wanted it. He rang her whilst I was there and told her she had to pay the balance and collect it by monday if she still wanted it. I was to call back in on tuesday and see if she'd collected it or not. If she didn't want it the man would keep it for me.
I was actually outside waiting for the shop to open on tuesday morning as we walked past again on monday evening and it was still in the window!
When I'd told DH about it he'd said he'd buy it for me and I can spend time doing it up.
Sooo, I'm the proud owner of a beautiful but ramshackle old dolls house...and l love it!
My lovely Lundby dolls house, I'm going to enjoy renovating.
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