:: Catching up – A trip to Iceland ::

Yes, I’m on catch up, getting back into the swing of regular blogging, checking messages and seeing what my blogland friends are up to. I’m catching up. Not only with what you’ve all been busy doing, but letting you know what I’ve been doing to. So here we go with the trip to Iceland!

Now, you are warned, this is a biggy! Get yourself a cuppa and settle down for a read and a ponder over my snaps.

Back in October Mr. Mixture43 was the BIG 5 0, and to celebrate we went to Iceland. Now it wasn’t as simple as that… we were scheduled to go in February but of course my health took a turn for the worst and we rescheduled. We went at Easter, over Easter weekend  in fact.

Oh we were so excited!20150402_123224

We flew from Glasgow to Reykjavik, didn’t take long, and as I hate flying (I really do)  I took my Diazepam!! It was relatively painless.

The scenery was stunning – still in the depths of their Winter, with the snow just starting to melt away.20150402_16215320150402_180353

Finally we arrived in Reykjavik at our hotel, the view was fantastic! There was a lot of low cloud, and we resigned ourselves early on that we probably wouldn’t see the Northern Lights, but there was much more to do.20150403_080717

I can see why the Icelandic landscape is used for movie sets etc, particularly space scenes, it was like landing on another planet, another world.20150403_132843

The contrast between black lava volcanic rock and the pure untouched snow and ice was stunning.  20150403_154141

On our first venture out of the main city, on a tour of the local area, we were able to see just how isolated the out lying villages are. It was bitterly cold, -10c and we were suitably wrapped up against the wind. 20150403_095726

At Thingvellir National Park the blizzard didn’t stop us from exploring the Tectonic plates, the site of an Ancient Viking Parliament (I’ll let you read about it here if you want to) – The European and American plates here are moving apart all the time – I’m sure you know Iceland is highly volcanic and every home is built to Earthquake standards!_DSC0174

The Rift Valley was spectacular; visibility was actually quite good!_DSC0177

One of the most spectacular places we visited was Gullfoss Waterfall – the largest in Europe. It was immense in it’s power, force and with all of the winter snow starting to melt, it was phenomenal to hear.20150403_161002   20150403_160932 20150403_160918

The colour contrasts were breathtaking. 20150403_160904 20150403_160342

The shop also does a warming cuppa and cake – well it was bitterly cold and blizzarding out there!20150403_162232

Geysir next and the power of the underground geothermal hot springs. Yes it did smell a bit of rotten eggs, all that sulphur you see, but the ground was warm to the touch and the steam itself was hot.20150403_172059 20150403_170652

Now, I’m not a very brave person when it comes to water. I love walking, relaxing and spending time near water; rivers, lakes and the seaside. However I’ve never been a strong swimmer, or enjoyed being on a boat. I’ve always been sea sick. So going Whale Watching on a large fishing vessel, rolling in the sea, in a super large padded waterproof onsey with buoyancy aid – really? Yes, really! Well it’s a look

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But I wasn’t the only one looking stupid… so that was ok._DSC0231

Got a great view looking back at Reykjavik and the harbour.20150405_132015

_DSC0285_DSC0283Out to the ocean and glaciers.20150405_132220

We did see some dolphins, whales and porpoise, but they are too small to see on the photos, so the memory card in my brain will just have to store them!

A must do, when in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon, the geothermal spa hot springs. They are wonderful! The water is soft, smooth and almost silky as it is rich in the minerals from the volcanic rock it seeps from. Just bathing and relaxing in them was bliss, and they weren’t smelly at all. They were the most wonderful duck egg blue colour, and they come out of the ground at 38c

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You may be thinking well all of these wonderful tourist attractions are great but what are the town and the people like? Well they were friendly and relaxed. However after the economic crisis that hit Iceland, and then the rest of the world a few years ago, things are quite expensive. Coffee, tea and food in particular, however eat locally (this means fish) and you’re fine. I did enjoy my freshly caught lobster tails and mushroom risotto.20150403_201935

But there were many other sights that really showed the character and humour of the Icelanders. Here are my snappy snaps around town gallery!20150403_21401920150405_105513

So many wonderful window displays.20150405_105122 20150405_10513920150405_113340 20150405_11332120150405_110239 20150405_110245

In a town where they build homes from tin and the earth is black or grey, these flashes of colour really shout out in a busy side street!

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The centre of Reykjavik was unlike anywhere else I have been; buildings built to withstand earthquakes, using what appear to be the simplest of materials, concrete, tin and wood..20150405_122825_DSC0247_DSC0246

The spectacular church.

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But of course my creative crafty mind just had to seek out all things woolly! With such a unique yarn – the fibres behave differently and are strong because of the climate in Iceland – there were many woollen products, but these were my favourites.

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This was hanging on display in the bus station! Along with fabric bunting, cultural artwork and poetry. Amazing!bus crochet

Traditional knits – all handmade and very expensive. I know there is a lot of work in them, there were so many varieties but I liked the monochrome ones with undyed yarn. So beautiful.4752944-Wollen_Icelandic_sweaters_the_original_pattern_Reykjavik

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I absolutely love this from Carregyarns, the tonal colours remind me of the green lychee and moss on the volcanic rock across the landscapes.

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Yes, I did come home with yarn….Lettlopi

And ordered some to arrive after we got home from the Alafoss shop. They have online sales too, but beware of the shipping costs!

So there you go, I hope you have enjoyed catching up with my trip to Iceland. We want to go again, unusual as we don’t often revisit, but we loved it so very much. In fact, as different as it is to my home life and environment, it is the kind of place I could live. A trip next summer, during Icelandic spring will be fantastic.  In the meantime I have many projects to consider with Icelandic inspiration. Hmmmm…. where to start? Happy hooking. :O)xxxxx

::Nearly new beginning::

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You may remember our first trip away last May in our lovely new caravan purchase Doris, here at Wasdale part one? But I’m sad to say that at the end of the summer, we parted with your not long new to us caravan Doris.

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But to be honest, when we stripped her right down intending to make her lovely and cosy or little jaunts and breaks away, there was a lot more to do to her that we at first thought. She had lots of rotten timbers, there was some saggy seems and a bit of a spongy floor. Yes Paul Hollywood, she had a soggy bottom.We found this all out after a few days of rain and  yucky wet weather. Although new to this caravan malarky, we weren’t that naive to think it had  just happened.

I was very very sad.

But…

We have done lots of research and some significant saving up and TA-Dah!!! Today we purchased another caravan. Meet Elsie!

elsieI have so many renewed plans for her; curtains and flooring mainly as she is a lot younger than Doris. We decided we wanted a solid van, without having to put in new sides, floors. So any work on Elsie will be cosmetic.

I love this fabric from Amy Butler soul blossoms range, fresh, light and cheerful.

amy butler soul blossomsI love these dishes from J G Meakin. I’ll be trawling eBay and other sellers for some of these.

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then there will be the blanket making. I’m already going to put my Autumn Cosy Ripple into Elsie as I think it will be great to cosy up to on the spring evenings. It will add a contrast to the other colours which I like.

autumn rippleSo there you have it. I’m so excited. We’ll be spending British holidays in her in the next few years- with some fly away city breaks mixed in there. Then there are the festivals and the walking holidays not to mention J and his mission to cycle Lands End to John O’groats next year. Elsie will definitely come in handy then. I’ll post some inside pictures soon, and I’ll let you know how we get on. :O)xx

::That holiday feeling::

I’m feeling refreshed and beginning to get that holiday feeling now: the one just before we go away. We’re preparing for a three week holiday in France- yes, that’s right three weeks! I am so happy to be rested and ready with my holiday feeling just about peaking ready for the off.

poncho edgeOver the last few weeks I have completed many projects that have prepared me for that holiday feeling and in readiness for the new term in September. Here are a few peeks.

20140726_21153920140726_230441Oh those ends, they always take ages and I dread starting them but it looks so much better once they’re done. This is just a sneaky peak at my completed Poncho- I’m taking it to France to photograph in the beautiful and abundant sunflower fields surrounding the house we will be staying at (once we’ve left Paris!) I think having spent  months on this project and taking so much care and attention of it that it’s only right for me to do it justice in a proper photo shoot! YaY! I do looooove this project so much- it really does make my heart sing just to look at it and feel it’s glorious textures! Ahhhhhhhh… (sighs wistfully).poncho finishingI’m hoping that I’ll be able to wear my poncho on those dusky, sunset evenings when it is feeling a little chilly in the air. Oh happy holiday! Next there was the arrival of some beautiful Drops Muskat cotton- well I had ordered it so it was expected. But how soft, luscious and lovely this yarn is – waiting to be whipped up into some beautiful blankets and cushions me thinks!

muskatThen there was the completing of my classroom- having moved classrooms again. This is a huge job, files, resources, relabelling drawers (which my amazing class partner K will do this time) and then the reorganising, re-theming and sorting out of everything from bookshelves to backing paper. As we’re doing a terms topic on The Victorians, we decided to go with a Sherlock theme for the first half term (and a Charles Dickens one for the next half when we do Oliver Twist). Also a bit of a school room feel. What do you think?20140804_13003420140804_130055

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And then there are my garden projects. I’ve never been able to grow Clematis before, they’ve always wilted, dried up, died or just never done anything. But look..

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A proper flower and seed head! I love how this looks so spiky but it’s actually really soft and fluffy! Then there are my geraniums and nasturtiums ditto for them too- it must be the weather we’ve had this year. I know, back in June,  when I see summer blooms that the holidays are not far around the corner.

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So we are getting packed and ready to load up the roof box, pack those bags (including suncream and aftersun, of course), crank up the bike rack and of course the crochet bag. I’ll be working on my kaleidoscope blanket whilst I’m away- lots to catch up on and it’s quite portable and not so big and warm to sit under! Hey ho! That holiday feeling- ready, steady, we’re off!

sunflowers

 

 

::Moving on:

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It is always with a mixture of emotions that I approach the end of the school term as a Deputy Head teacher, a year 6 class teacher, a parent and just as me! In all aspects moving on is a key theme.

The changes happening within school, moving classrooms for September, moving files, records and handing over to the next teacher, transition for the children, the emotional last few weeks for the year 6 children as they begin their moving on journey mentally for secondary school, all bring their stresses, strains and emotional roller coasters. Especially in this hot and humid weather!

20140531_142114In addition there are my sons own transitional journeys: one moving back home from first year at university and the entering of his final GCSE year for my youngest. And then there is me. The ending of another year brings home the knowledge that I know I have made a difference to the children in my school, class and my boys; their outlooks, self-belief, confidence and resilience to move onto new challenges. Moving on confidently is the aim in every sense. I believe I achieved it.

I spent Friday, our last day of term, in a parallel world. On the one hand I marvelled in the joy and knowledge that the year 6 children have the ability to put together a leaver’s assembly that represents their journey through our changing school. The reminiscing, laughing, crying and togetherness of a shared journey through their childhood, supported by dedicated staff, challenged by their peers. I continue to learn from them. It was wonderful to drink in the amazement, wonder and pleasure they had in this their final event in our school. It brought them a mixture of emotions: some they couldn’t contain. Those recent, quiet moments at home, spending a little bit of time on myself, have helped me to get through.

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But on the other hand, I also spent Friday consoling, reassuring and sharing, time, hugs and experiences with the children who have been a huge part of my life this year. This was a special year group for me – they were my first Reception class in this school seven years ago and it has been such a privilege to watch these young people grow over the years, from curious, exploring, exuberant infants to confident, open-minded, responsible juniors. I am extremely proud of every one of them.

Now I say changing school, because we also had the challenge of Ofsted this week. Yes the last week of term. It was both unexpected at this late stage and also a blessing in disguise – I no longer have to worry over the summer about a first week Ofsted in September. It is done and dusted. It went well. We have all worked so very hard. I am so very, very tired. I have spent my evenings snuggled under my growing ripple stitch blanket trying to stay awake to communicate with my family!

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Moving on for me over the next few weeks involves a substantial amount of rest. Sharing my life with a large primary school is a huge commitment for me and my family: their patience and understanding are what gets me through the months, weeks, days and hours that I spend in this highly intensive, challenging and immensely rewarding job. I love my job. It is a privilege.

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My many craft, crochet, baking and sewing projects will help me along. I will be spending lots of time with my family: holidaying in France (Ulcot actually- here on the map and below in the picture), walking up fells, lazy days at home, and we’ll be sharing experiences, laughs, love, kindness, challenges and time.

beckermondsThe surrounding sunflower fields of our holiday destination.

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Then there are my copious gifts. Many, many beautiful and generous gifts from children in the school, not just my class. But also colleagues.

20140720_111154This one just about sums it up. Its a beautiful vase from my colleague by Rob Ryan and it reads, ‘There is no such thing as spare time. There is no such thing as work time. There is no such thing as quality time. There is no such thing as free time. There is no such thing as down time. There is only time.’

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Over the summer months, I will be preparing my boys for their next journey through life, moving onto pastures new. A new shared flat for E as he enters his second university year and the final year of GCSE for Little J (although he will be JP from now on- he is much taller than me!) He has many ideas, hopes and dreams for his future yet to unfold and it never ceases to astound me how much I admire my two offspring. It catches me unawares sometimes and I have to take a moment to compose myself as it overwhelms me. As new parents J and I always joked that our babies didn’t come with a manual, we would always do what felt right for us, they would be treated as individuals and although we would make mistakes as parents, we would make them together and with the very best intentions, always. They are so very different, yet so similar! ( I pinched the eye idea from Lucy@Attic24).

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In our summer of moving on, I couldn’t be more filled with pride, love, joy and delight at my wonderful sons. I don’t mind saying, I feel we have done an awesome job so far. My heart is full and overflowing; it swells every time I think of the independent individuals our boys have become. As a Mum, I am also moving on.

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::Liebster Award nomination- woohoo::

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I have been lucky enough to be nominated by Amanda at Amjaylou for a Leibster award. This is a fabulous idea; you can get to know a little bit about your favourite blogs and also to find new blogs. I love it!

So here are the answers to Amanda’s questions, some random facts about me – (steady now!) and my nominations for awards of blogs I love, love, love.

1. How many WIP’s do you have at the moment?
I currently have 3 wip’s that have actually been started, but many many more in my head! Cushion love, blanket love, and bunting for my new nephews bedroom is a must before christmas!

2. What are they?
I have my kaleidoscope blanket Cal from The Natural Dye Studio ( christmas present from my lovely Hubby) which is coming along nicely, but takes lots of 3mm hook size concentration!20140510_094442

My ripple blanket for Doris Caravan in style craft DK Attic24 pack – which is a great pick up and carry on project.CAM00359

My peruvian poncho in Cascade 220 – which is a joy at 5mm size chunky, fabulous colours and grows so quickly.20140526_094026

I’m currently catching up with the May section of my kaleidoscope blanket (yes I know we’re in June, hence the reason for catching up!)

3. Regarding days out what would be your idea of heaven?

I love to visit the seaside and collect shells, stones, sea-glass and just to breath in the salty fresh air. Lying on my back on a beautifully crocheted blanket, guessing the shapes of the clouds, with the warm sun an a gentle breeze. We live 20 mins away from the West Cumbria coast so it’s great on a Sunday morning to plod along the beach, collect the Sunday papers and sometimes have a cheeky ice-cream in the local shop!20140615_113954

4. What would be your idea of hell?
End to end football, cycling, rugby- or actually Golf. I cannot stand Golf! Having to go and watch it , a whole day or more of it (the TV is bad enough) would be absolutely awful! Yuck! Argh!

5. What book are you reading at the moment?
As a year 6 teacher, I am constantly looking for great inspiring rears for my class and to motivate my reluctant boy readers to get into a good book. I have just completed Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve ( it was fabulous) and I am currently reading The Knife of never letting go by Patrick Ness and I LoVe LoVe it. My favourite personal text favourites are Tess of the D’Urbervilles and anything else by Hardy. Carlos Luis Zafon’s The shadow of the Wind is a firm favourite as is The Book Thief.

mortal knife tess shadow thief

6. What is your favourite tipple? ( can include non-alcoholic!)

A Mojito Mocktail – complete with lime juice, elderflower cordial, soda and a secret non-alcoholic ingredient from a bistro I love in my nearby town.

7. What’s been the best holiday you’ve been on so far?
A few years ago we took the boys aged 15 and 11 to Barcelona- it was amazing. I had been before 20 years ago and desperately wanted my family to see this wonderful city. It didn’t disappoint and they all loved it too. The Sagrada Familia was still unfinished and just as spectacular as I remember. Gaudi has always been a design inspiration to me and I felt quite emotional revisiting these beautiful buildings, Parc Guell and the amazing mosaics. The boys were thrilled to visit the Football stadium. Later, we travelled by hire car to a quiet fishing village up the coast and holidayed there with the french and spanish holiday makers. It was wonderful. A close second was our family holiday in Rome and Pompeii last year. As you can see- I love architecture!

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8. What is your dream destination?
I really want to visit Sydney, Australia and walk along the harbour, visit the opera house and take in the sights before travelling up to Cairns to the rest Barrier reef. We’re hoping to go next year.

9. What would you put into Room 101?
Tin openers and garlic presses. They never last very long, always break down when you need them, and become worse than useless right at the wrong moment!

10. Do you have a favourite TV chef?
I don’t have one chef that I like in particular- they all get a bit samey after a while I feel. But I do absolutely love watching MasterChef- the normal ones not the celebrities or the chefs one. Also, I’m a real Saturday Morning Kitchen fan- I rarely miss it.

11. What is your all-time favourite cake?
It has to be a good old fashioned lemon cheesecake- it just can’t be beaten. My mum makes an amazing cheesecake with preserved lemons chopped up into the creamy mixture and it has chocolate digestives for the base. It is divine!! (Note to self- get the recipe from my mum!)

Now to the 11 random facts about myself.
1.I am a trained textile designer and worked as a textile designer for The Burton Group before my children were born.
2. I play the cello and all three descant, treble and tenor recorders.
3. I love tulips- very, very, very much.
4. My favourite chocolate is Green and Blacks 75% dark- closely followed by Lindt salted caramel.
5. I run- and completed The Cumbrian Run in 2011 a long 13.1 miles in 2hrs. Very proud.
6. I have raised just under £5000 for Cancer Research in the last 4 years.
7. I have cycled the Coast to Coast cycle route- 142 miles in 3 days.
8. I have been a teacher for 10 years and a deputy Head for 2 of them.
9. I am still best friends with my child hood best friend who I met when we were 12.
10. I drive a VW Beetle.
11. The first album I bought, aged 14 was hatful of Hollow by the Smiths- I still have it as a very treasured possession.

My chosen favourite blogs.

Loopy Freak with a list
Little Room of Rachel
Fox’s Lane
Little Red Squirrel
Little woollie
Lulu loves Crochet
Haken en Meer
Eclectic Gypsyland
Little Tin Bird
Betty and Annie
Poppy and Bliss

My 11 questions for them
1. When and why did you start to craft (crochet, knit, sew, make?)
2. What are your favourite colour combinations?
3. What have been the last 3 things you have made?
4. What would be your dream holiday destination and why?
5. What is your favourite food?
6. Who do you most admire – past or present?
7. Who would be at your dream dinner party?
8. What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
9. If you could live in any country which one would it be and why?
10. what would be your favourite film?
11. What will your next project (s) be?

I hope my nominees enjoy this as much as I have! Wishing you all the very best of weekends. xx

::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.

:: Year End Review: 2013: Part Two::

So here it is… part two. In some words (but mainly pictures). It took me so very long to get the pictures sorted I have resolved to organise my photo library for the new year!! A New Years resolution I hope to keep! Enjoy :o)xx

•∆• July

July 2013

Camping at the Cambridge Folk festival, finishing my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket, Ta-Dah post here, and new yarn arrives for Festival granny stripe blanket!

•∆• August

August 2013

Rome and Pompeii was AmAzInG!!! Amazing weather, amazing sights and history and amazing company. Our first family holiday without E was a bit emotional but we moved on and we're ok! Plodding on with new projects.

•∆• September

September 2013

E went on his way to Leeds College of Music and so so so proud we are, you can read all about it in my post here! My studio in the HayLoft was finished. School started back and the old routine of life springs back quickly. Weekends are taken up with visits to Leeds while E settles in. We all miss him. :o( However a super special trip to Yarndale cheers me up no end with my friend Fi!

•∆• October

October 2013

Tutti-fruity lampshade is finished see the Ta-Dah post here. J and I have our birthday, and we splash out on a night at the malmaison in Leeds and visit E at the same time. Half term visit to Saltaire was wonderfully relaxing and a bonus visit to E too! :o)

•∆• November

November 2013

Cold, cold, cold… wet and windy too. But beautifully Autumnal, see here for an autumn walk. Bonfire night, busy with my Autumn Wreath and the little details for that. So happy with it's completion- a new challenge having never made one before.

•∆• December

December 2013

With a deeply satisfying sigh we reach the end of the year. E home from College, end of a challenging school term and a joyous time making and creating presents for friends and family. Chilly hands dug down deep in pockets for a head clearing Boxing day walk.

It is so lovely, happy and satisying to look back over my year – finding crochet again around late spring and beginning my blog and Facebook page. It felt strange 'talking' and sharing my life with the great wide world, but that has now become such a blessing when I look back over my year in print and photos.

Thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported me, with comments, likes, and shares- they mean a lot!

I look forwards to finding new 'friends' and learning more, trying more and challenging myself to even greater heights!

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favourite MixTures from the year 

::2013: Year end review: part one::
::Transition::
-Lovely – Sunny Festival Granny stripe blanket!-
– Whilst the weather…-
::It's great to have a catch up…::