::P, P, Pick up a poncho – again ::

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_nOk, it’s a work in progress, a WIP as they say. It remains in progress, but my poncho is getting more and more beautiful and colourful as it grows. And it’s nearly there. I keep on p, p, picking up that poncho!10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_nBut then I put it down as something else takes over. My Ripple stitch blanket was the most recent distraction. 20140713_18473510389357_822150724470830_4787128616661467355_nThen there will be my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket again. They seem to do triangular rotation, depending on my mood, time and inclination.20140510_09444220140531_163331k blanketNow back to the poncho again. You may remember how it started back at the beginning of the year.CAM00183The beautiful yarn I purchased from Deramores, gorgeous Cascade Peruvian wool, very apt indeed considering the inspiration.

5a872-6a0192aab0192b970d01a73d7c9d4b970d-pi20140420_190606Then there was the starting off, and the pulling out, the frogging, the restart and then the progress.20140513_20015420140525_082255It will give me great pleasure to wear my poncho on our French holiday when we arrive at the Farmhouse we are borrowing from a colleague. We have been before, three times, and it ‘s almost like having a family holiday home. I’ll tell you about it soon, but for now it’s time to concentrate on the Poncho, to get it finished for my cool French evenings with my local wine, cheese and some amazing bread. I’ll enjoy wearing it for evening sunset walks – when I get it finished! Need to keep on p, p, picking up my poncho!poncho 1

:: Ripple all the way::

20140713_173815I know, I know you wait weeks for a post and then two come along within a short space of time!! But, I am so enjoying my ripple stitch summer blanket at the moment- it really is relaxing, the repetition of the ripples forming a lovely little rhythm. I have had a rare afternoon of snugglery on the sofa rippling all the way. Blissful.

20140713_183435I’m also enjoying being random, but still not quite random. I know that doesn’t make any sense at all. Let me explain. I have my big bag of style craft colours and I choose three that compliment each other, then I work them in making sure I do a double row of treble stitches  and two single rows of treble stitches of each colour. Every 8 rows or so I add a single treble stripe of plum, then off I go again with the stripes. That’s as much pattern repeat as it gets. It really is random colours for my ripple all the way!20140713_184812I decided to call it Summer Ripple Blanket because of the array of beautiful summer ice-cream and sunshine colours. It’s going to live happily in Doris caravan ands it was essential that it had a summery feel to it.20140713_184722I do love it so.20140713_184838Now for the folded shots, lets pose, left, right, work that ripple! Oh Yeah!20140713_184920

20140712_122708And… here is a little bit of help for those wanting to give it a try. I’m not great with the diagram malarchy but I hope it helps. For the treble together are when you get through the first loop stage of your treble and hold it on your hook whilst you get to the next stage with the following stitch (3 loops on your hook) then you pull the yarn through them all. It gives you a ‘v’ shape which forms the trough of your ripple. The two treble stitches into the same loop give you the ‘peak’ or upside down ‘v’ at the other end. It really doesn’t matter how many trebles you have in between, I have 4 on each side of the peaks and troughs, as long as they are equal. The multiples for your foundation chain will need to be even – the number of chains in the side parts (mine is 4) then 6 additional for the peaks and troughs, then 3 for turning at the end. I measured the space I wanted mine to fit then did the fancy maths to figure out how many chains that would be based on my little sample of repeats. There is more detail for this in Lucy’s amazing post at Attic24 – she describes it so much better than me. happy ripple hooky. •∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•∆•

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::Summer Ripple happy hooky::

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It has been a while since I last posted and so much has happened here in the Hayloft. At the end of the summer term it all goes a little crazy following SATs: there is the Year 6 performance, the Summer Fayre, performing Arts Evening, the leavers assembly and on top of all that we have the Australia day to celebrate all of our learning this term about Australia. In amongst all of that it has been difficult to have the energy to pick up my crochet hook, and when I found the going a little tricky with my Kaleidoscope blanket, it was my Summer Ripple blanket that I have turned to for some Summer Ripple hooky happiness.

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It all started in Doris Caravan in May when we went for a trip to Wasdale and I began my crochet ripple hooky journey. What an amazingly relaxing stitch it is, you just keep going on the little ripple roller coaster, changing colours as you go and it grows so quickly. I’m using style craft DK from The Wool warehouse and I treated myself to two of the Lucy Attic24 packs to make this blanket. I have added some lime yarn of my own, to add a bit of Zing! Lucy has now kindly solved that problem by having her own lime colour commissioned! Yay!

It started off quite random, but it has found a pattern all of it;s own and it has begun to take shape rather beautifully I think. What do you think? There has been outside in the glorious sunshine hooky.

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Also some cosy up on the sofa ripple hooky.

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I think I’ll make a quick tutorial for this pattern soon, when I get five minutes to draw it out and think about the words. In the meantime I’l keep on with my rippling, and hope to get to the end of term next week in one piece. Happy hooky everyone. :O)xxxxx

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:: Blue skies and wild flowers::

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We’re nearly at the end of our half term holiday and what a mixed bag it’s been: whistle stop trip to Edinburgh for a GCSE art project (don’t ask!), crochet, shopping, some school work and catching up with the returned-from-University-for-the-year child! Yes all done for the year! Sitting relaxing in the garden with my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket, listening to the birds twittering in the crab-apple tree above me, the cat purring near my feet and the sun warming my face, made me smile and just pause for a minute to savour life around me.

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As it was soooo pretty, today I went for a pootle around the locality (the village) with my Hubby in the lovely, gorgeous sunshine. What a fantastic day it has been; blue skies, really clear and sometimes just a whisp of white fluffiness to change the view, an abundance of wild flowers scattering their colourfulness in the hedgerows and fields. The hummmmmmm of tractors making their first cut of the season in the grassy fields taking advantage of the sunshine.

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We could see all the way over to Dumfries; it was a little hazy and shimmery in the heat over the Solway but the outline of the hills and Criefell could be seen. Beautiful; it made me smile and wish for the summer months to speed towards us with the promise of long walks along the beach, picnics in the fields near the lake, the rainy days in with the games and the long trip to France in the car, laden with holiday hopes and dreams. Oooooh I can smell and hear the markets now, with their stalls swollen with local produce – the cheese, the hams, the tomatoes!!!

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Now back to our walk. I’ll let you look at the pictures, they tell their own sunny, hedgerow story really. But doesn’t it make your heart swell and jump with delight when you get an unexpected day like today?  I love wild flowers and they last for such a short time, it is lovely to cherish and take notice of them while you can. Long, luscious sweeps of buttercups, wild orchids, clover, wild geraniums and tonnes of tiny forget-me-nots that were just a blur when the picture was taken. I wish you could have seen them. I hope you enjoyed your day. :O)xxx

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::Poncho progress::

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Oh what a happy weekend it has been, despite working for most of it in school, preparing and organising, I have returned happily every day to my poncho project. It was back in February when I first thought of designing and making a Poncho; something warm, cosy and to beat the chills of a spring or summer evening, inspired by my blogland friend Lucy. I mused over Peruvian traditions, yarn choices, colours and shapes of the garment. It was  a bubbling pot of ideas, steeping in flavours, developing depth and becoming more and more unctuous day by day. Eventually I settled on yarn, some springtime yarn skein happiness this magical, beautiful, peruvian 100% wool Cascade 220 from Deramores. It gives me such  delight to work with all the 24 colours I chose from over 100 shades.

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So having decided on the yarn, the shape and the colour combinations, I began with the skeins.  wound them and organised them, I sketch booked some ideas, colours and shapes, then I set about making a start.ImageImage

I thought you might like to see the progress I’ve made, it is remarkable how my Creative Mind can see the finished project before I’ve even started it! Simple stitch arrangements, trebles, doubles and some clusters, and colour combinations from my research (with some creative licence used too).Image

The pattern is something I have devised myself, and follows a loose repeat in sections. I have sections of stitches, changing colours, then new sections of stitch combinations. they will all be repeated in some way. The increases are created at the four ‘corners’. I’m keeping notes of this  project so I’m planning on writing up a tutorial for it- REALLY?? I hear you say?- well I figured it might inspire, help or support someone out there! It is a little complex so the tutorial might be a summer holiday project – I couldn’t get the numbers and details sorted whilst I have school stuff going on in my head!ImageImage

Sunny morning, weekend crochet. Its coming along beautifully and the combinations are singing.Image

So there you are, a little bit of hooky action in pictures, not so many words today, thought I’d let the colour loveliness speak for itself. You don’t need me babbling on! I’m thrilled with how this project is coming along, the repetitive stitching, the revelation of the colourful combinations, how they play and dance about with every new addition. I’m truly loving picking it up, and working just a little more, with every row evolving the overall look.

Thank you for dropping by to see me today! Happy summer hooky. :O)xxxx

::Simple Mixtures::

I often think about how life can, at times, be a wonderfully simple mixture of a whole bunch of happy things. A great cup of coffee, a piece of homemade cake or a snatched moment of something creative. Crochet, family, food and a feast of sensory delights is my idea of the simple life – not necessarily in that order – a happy mixture.  So today I focussed on the things around me that brought me a simple pleasure – May Mixtures.

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Whilst catching up with all my Facebook and Blog friends, I saw this cushion and was immediately reminded of Lucy’s projects over at Attic24 for Yarndale this year. She’s championing Mandalas- It’s May Mandala Mayhem! The idea is really simple but incredibly effective. I saw this photograph a while ago, and it happens to be the same one that has inspired Lucy with her Yarndale project, from Finnish artist Anu Tuominen. Simple and stunning.

ImageThen there is the amazingly glorious Babette blanket from Ellblo on Ravelry, this stash busting arrangement of granny squares is the best I’ve seen so far. I LoVe LoVe it so much. It makes my heart squeeze and swell with adoration. Simple mixtures of colour and sizes, no black or white was her only rule. It works brilliantly.

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It always fills me with delight waking on Saturday mornings after a hectic week at work, to my crochet, Saturday Kitchen and a lovely leisurely breakfast with super good coffee and maybe even toast! Toast is such a simple pleasure- buttery, crispy and warm. No time during the week, oh no, porridge it is at 6.30am to fill me up until playtime (10.30am). Oh yes, toast is a simple pleasure for a simple life especially when someone else makes it for you!

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J decided to take me and little J out for lunch. We decided to go to Priest’s MiIl at Caldbeck again as I haven’t been since I was ill at February half term. I found my first glimpse of the bluebells that begin to fill the verges and hedgerows here, they sweep beautifully , nodding their heads in the breeze.ImageImage

Aren’t they just adorable?

Lunch was a simple affair; leek and cheddar tart and a mixture of delicious homemade salads, (they do the best apple chutney) with another good coffee. In fact it has been a good coffee day!

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A pop into the Wool Clip, for more Wild Wood Wool from Cecilia and Jean’s collection of delicious yarns. I went for a mixture of darker plum, grey and navy shades this time. I have a quick and easy project in mind. Image

On the return journey home we passed some beautiful trees, I just had to take a photo of them. Simple colours in nature but stunning.

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Today seems to have been a mixture of lots of simple little bits and bobs, but I think they come together well enough in their own patchwork of simple snapshots.  It always fills me with joy to be reminded of the simple things around me, pulling me out of work mode and the intensity of work life at this time of year with the year sixes and all their changes. Enjoying the simple pleasures of life, mixtures and bubbles of calm moments, help to ground me over the weekends. Recharging my batteries, connecting with the world around me and stopping me in my tracks to appreciate all that is simple and good in my life brings me calm. I cherish it all. :O)xxxxx

::Wasdale – Part two::

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It has taken me a couple of weeks I know to come back to this post about our Caravan trip to Wasdale – I have been so very busy with school, family and getting sorted that I almost forgot that I’d left this one just hanging there!!

Waking up in Doris the caravan in Wasdale was incredibly funny- the sun blazing through the windows (note to self, get blackout blinds) at 4am, was both lovely and conversely irritating. It did enable a quiet cup of tea and a little bit of crochet ripply happiness whilst J and little J slept. They didn’t even stir when I boiled the kettle – although I did catch it before it began to whistle it’s happy tune!

For day two we decided to go for a picnic up to a tarn adjacent to Scawfell Pike. My back was feeling lots better and although I wanted to have a good walk, I was conscious of not overdoing it.

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ImageImageImageThe tarn was a shimmering, flat, oasis in the middle of the grassy, bumpy, flatland between the fells.

The sky reflected beautifully and it was quite bizarre to find it nestled there 240m up!

The ground was very soggy so we sat on our coats to have our picnic.Image

There had been a deluge of water up there, only a few days before, and the sight of a big blob of Frogspawn, in the middle of the grassland confirmed how deep the water had been, but also how much it had receded. Unfortunately this bunch of early frog life wasn’t going to make it now, in the clear warm sun. I was assured that it wouldn’t be right for me to interfere with nature, as I tried to think of a way of returning these little guys to the water. J and Little J were right of course. It was nature’s way.

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The walk back was lovely, with that satisfying tired feeling of having accomplished something, physical tiredness as against the mental tiredness I experience mostly as a teacher. I enjoyed retracing our steps as we followed the cairns, seeing how the light had changed over the hours we had been walking, and also thinking of ice-cream rewards!!

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We returned to Doris, satisfied, hungry and ready for a snuggly caravan evening; a little bit more crochet ripples, good cups of tea, and we made plans for the next and final day of our mini-break.

We decided that we had weary legs, (well I did anyway) and so St. Bedes would be a great place to see. It is the  western start of the Coast to Coast walk, the Wainwright path, and also I had heard it was quaint and untouched. So off we went. It was a much more blustery day and we could feel the Western coast chill in the air.  I needed my hat!ImageImageImageImage

We climbed up the coastal path to see the sea and view the town below, feeling the cool air and the warmth of the sun on our faces. Lots of caravans in the static caravan park. It’s a bit of a shame that there was some vandalism and graffiti, which did put me off a bit really. The old part of the town, inland a little, was so much more piratey and smuggler-like. But as it started to rain we decided to go for a cup of coffee and cake instead.Image

 We ventured over the Gosforth Pottery for a souvenir of our trip and I bought a lovely hand thrown vase that now sits beautifully on my kitchen table with my favourite floral delights.Image

It has been lovely going away in our Doris caravan, and visiting Wasdale, my favourite part of the lakes. I have enjoyed being with J and Little J, sleeping almost outdoors, being away  from the rough and tumble of life during the working week, and most of all connecting to the beautiful countryside and drinking in it’s glamour, glory and power.

::Kaleidoscope blanket- progress::

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Lots of pictures for my colourful Kaleidoscope Blanket Mystery CAL from The Natural Dye Studio, I’m just completing the attaching of the motifs for February and have started to hook the ones for March. I’m a little behind, having been rippling along on my ripply blanket for a little hooky break, but I’m love, love loving the progress and therapy of this blanket. I introduced this blanket back in March after making some progress with it and finishing other WIP’s.Image

It’s beautiful hand-dyed merino wool and I’m working it on a 3.5m hook, so that my tension matches the size the triangles need to be. The beauty of this blanket is the mysterious nature of receiving a package in the post, filled with the scrummiest and loveliest yarn, winding it all up, then exploring and figuring out the colour combinations for the motifs. The Photo album on my Facebook page has the very beginnings of the blanket and shows the progress made, even with the travelling motif making in the car!ImageImage

Anyone not familiar with the Natural dye Studio, should have a peep over at their Facebook page (there are links to their website too) and revel in the colour, designs and magnificence of Amanda Perkins’ designs. I first saw her at yarn dale and I will be meeting up with Amanda at Woolfest this June. She has some fabulous ideas, including the completed and cryptically photographed finished Kaleidoscope Blanket!

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This is her recent Supernova Blanket.

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So I’ll be hooking away at my colourful Kaleidoscope Blanket for the next few weeks, winding the newly arrived package of yarn and watching the pattern unfold. We even have a Ravelry group to see each others progress- but no peeping at the next stage. Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!

:: Wasdale Part One::

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Remember in my post, Weekend Relaxing, I mentioned purchases? Well the big purchase we made was a new-to-us Caravan. Meet Doris, she is my latest makeover project, (well the house is nearly finished), and as E said, “You’ve run out of places to crochet in the house so you need more space?” Maybe…. was my reply! Having camped in our super-large family tent since the boys were 5 and 8 years old, we have enjoyed many holiday trips, to the sea in Norfolk, Exeter and the Jurassic coast, and also to other parts of The Lake District. Getting a caravan seemed like the next step for us.

Our new-to-us caravan Doris. Now she is 30 years old, so classed as Retro or Classic instead of Vintage, and is in need of a makeover and a bit of a Mixture43 treatment, but she’s perfectly roadworthy and habitable. Lots and lots of beige… I’ll leave it at that!

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I used my Festival Granny Stripe Blanket and my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket to cheer her up for this trip and it certainly did the trick, along with a couple of homemade crochet cushions.Image

Ooooh did you spot my new book? It has some lovely inspirational caravan makeover pictures (but more of that later).

Once we’d got her ship-shaped – well caravan-shaped I should say, we settled down for an evening view of the area. It was a lovely Gold rated David Bellamy caravan and camping site near to the west coast at Seascale, so lots of flaura and fauna to look at and of course being in an Area of Outstanding beauty you wouldn’t expect anything other than beautiful things to look at!

 Just look at the view from Doris’s window!Image

Wasdale and nearby Eskdale fells and mountains were only a few miles away, so we plotted and planned our walking and ascent. We had such beautiful weather on our trip to the South Lakes Area of Wasdale. J and I visited there over twenty years ago (was it really so long ago?) and I have always thought it would be lovely to return, I hoped it would still be as beautiful as I had remembered. It is breathtakingly stunning. We looked out at the view over a homemade supper cooked on Doris’s stove top. We are going to have many adventures, it’s going to be great!

A little bit of morning snuggly ripply hooky in my Doris bed…Image

We decided that we would walk along the side of the Lake. As I was just recovering from an acute episode with my back… lets just say half an hour to get off the floor in excruciating pain and not standing up straight for what seemed like eternity (bottom out like a duck and sideways slant is never a good look), we thought that a flat-ish walk would be better. To be honest I really needed to move about too so I gritted my teeth and off we went.Image

It was such a lovely walk, peaceful, tranquil, silent even at times but for the flowing and rippling water and rustling leaves in the gentle breeze.

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The light casts such beautiful shadows on the fells and mountain, it’s quite Scandinavian to look at, well so I’ve ben told. I haven’t been there… yet!

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Skimming stones… you just have to at every opportunity, always a competition! Dad and son… who won? Not so little J of course!Image

You can see how far the water rose in the recent months with all of the wet and windy weather, in fact one of the locals told us it had been pouring down until only two days before, and he was heartily sick of rain! I’m not surprised with this much water , however it’s not called the Lake District or nothing!

Then there were the damaged trees…ImageImage

I was so proud of myself for walking along an undulating road and not a flat one as promised and my back did very well. In fact at times I forgot all about it what with the beautiful Wasdale scenery and sounds to look and listen to.

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After a little rest, some buttered hot crossed buns and a slurp of coffee, that we had in our rucsac, we set off back the other way. My back had warmed up by now and was actually beginning to sort itself out. I was feeling so much better and enjoying the chat, jokes and banter that was flowing back and forth from Little J and J. Oh my, how 15 year olds, (really my baby is 15?) can talk of such random things!

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I knew I wanted to go to the sea. I love being near the water, lakes, sea, streams, it is always so calming and reminds me of caravanning trips with my parents to Great Yarmouth, Poole in Dorset and Western Super-mare. I loved caravanning as a girl, the joy of hitching up and getting off, the waking up and remembering where you were in your cosy caravan bed. The return from school on a Friday evening and seeing the bags packed and ready for the off. My children are too old for that kind of excitement, but I have to say I was so overjoyed when little J decided to come with us, no wifi, no Xbox and all those other teenage boy toys. But he was very pleasantly surprised. He is outdoorsy too, I might add, so enjoys a good walk. And he does love water… he’s my water baby.ImageImage

Seascale is a quiet place, although being one of the starting places for the C2C cycle ride, it can get busy from Easter to October.  Last year E and J made that self same ride across the country cycling 142 miles in two days, they did Seascale to Whitby. Little J and I followed in the car with supplies, flapjacks and coffee. It was quite the adventure!

Anyhoo….  Seascale and the beach. Lots of lovely bits and bobs and ripples!!Image

Fish shaped stone, in a gorgeous shade of blue.ImageImageImage

We enjoyed an ice cream sitting on a bench looking at the sea. Then, with weary legs and a hungry tummy, we headed off back to Doris for the night.

The evening view from Doris was spectacular.

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The day ended with a Very satisfying ‘CLUNK’ as I laid down and snuggled in my Doris bed. The relief in my back was fantastic and having not slept so well for a week or more, I slept like a baby. Wasdale and Doris the Caravan had lived up to every dream and expectation I had and more.  Great times ahead.

::Returning::

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It is always with a hint of sadness when returning from a holiday or short break, such as the one we have just had in Wasdale in the South West Lakes.  It feels strange to be travelling back home, without the excitement and anticipation that I left home with, but with my mind wandering to the jobs, ahead. Maybe not travelling so far away, only 50 minutes, makes the journey home, which never seems long after a holiday, seem returning that bit shorter. Wasdale and Eskdale were breathtakingly beautiful, the above picture, taken from the window of our new-to-us caravan Doris, really doesn’t do it justice.

Returning always has a tinge of wistfulness.

Returning with the thoughts of the unloading of the car, the bags and the caravan this time, and the umpteen loads of washing! It seems to happen every time, I have romantic notions of savouring the time away but end up returning with more work than when I went. It always takes me a few days to settle back into the swing and flow of home life again, to get back to normal.

Returning to work. It has been such a short holiday, not the usual 2 weeks at Easter for the children and for me as a teacher. It is a much needed time for recharging those tired and worn out batteries, and the main reason for getting away is to have that mental break. I don’t suppose anyone reading this thinks that teachers have a dreamy amount of time off, or an equally easy working day, especially we are now into report season and planning classrooms and classes for the next school year. I must admit, but very quietly, to gazing off out of the car window, thinking about how I’m going to theme my classroom before the return to school with children present. We’re doing a topic on Australia. My thoughts also return to planning for work, before I return to work!

Returning to Wasdale. Who knows? i usually have an unwritten rule about not returning or going back to somewhere as there are so many places to discover. But, J and I were at the very same spot 20 years ago, (wow that makes me gel old), and we climbed Great and Green Gable then. It is such a beautiful place, how could I not return?

So, I have lots of pictures to sift through and ideas and notions about our next caravan break. It’s so lovely to deck her out with homemade cushions and blankets for now, and to up and off. I’ll show you a few pictures now, but the rest will follow in a proper post about the adventures of Doris and the South West Lakes.

Here are a few to enjoy. :O)xxx

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Can you see the beautiful Scafell Pike over there? At 978m high, its the highest mountain in England and was first ascended by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.. how about that! I love the way the light and shadows play.

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The seaside at Seascale on the West Coast.ImageImage

Seaside ripple inspiration.

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My new crochet ripple blanket for when Doris has had her makeover.