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Friday, 28 May 2010

More Yorkshire Delights

The County of Yorkshire is only a few miles south of us, down the old Roman road , through Piercebridge, the site of a Roman Fort, and across the River Tees.
We sallied forth this morning because a) the weather was wonderful, b) we had a picnic to eat and c) we had a walk from the local paper to try out. A bloke called Mark Reid does a map and description every week in The Northern Echo and he was recommended by Ivy who we often walk with on the DCC guided walks. Well done Mark! It was a ripper. It was only 4 miles but it was beautiful and rich in history so here goes......
A long time ago before the Romans came this way and built the road on their way to Hadrian's Wall, the area was inhabited by some Iron Age tribes who have been grouped together and called The Brigantes. Celtic tribes who mined lead, traded with Romans and others and farmed the area. They had a large fort at Stanwick protected by deep ditches and earthworks. We walked that way today and on our way had to cross the graveyard at St John the Baptist at Stanwick.
Then we walked across the fields and round the meadows, avoiding the bullocks and admiring the wildlife and birdsong. This little Red Admiral was obviously on its last wings because it stayed still long enough for me to photograph it.

We followed the lines of iron age earthworks and ditches and admired the rumpled ground hiding the remains of an iron age settlement.

The earthworks were quite impressive in some parts. They would have been an impediment to any invader of the time.
The picnic was delicious, the weather stayed wonderful, we only got lost once, the cows left us alone and we returned home via Archer's Jersey Ice Cream parlour, which is attached to their farmhouse.

I had vanilla and DJ had black cherry and we brought a tub of Vanilla home. All the icecream comes from this little girlie's mother and aunties! Hasn't she got lovely earrings?
Still lovely weather outside so a bit of hedge trimming is underway.
Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sorrow about Sorrel but Joy about Yorkshires

One of the main reasons for buying a new cooker was so that we could have glass doors in order to see the yorkshire puddings rise while they cooked, instead of having the "Yorkshire Pudding Russian Roulette Routine" inside an oven with no glass in the doors and no thermostat light.
Here's the first result of a no-recipe-no-measure one, just cooked for dinner with a chicken roast.

GREAT SUCCESS The herb patch in the garden is doing really well too.
BUT... the sorrel has been overtaken by the recent burst of hot weather and is going to seed rapidly. Does anyone know what to do with a large ripe sorrel plant? I've only just learned what to do with a couple of leaves at a time. eg. salad leaves and chicken soup.

The front of the house was overgrown with clematis and climbing rose when I bought it a year ago. It was very badly overgrown and needed removing. It is slowly but surely being replaced with wisteria, virginia creeper and climbing rose. As you can see, the wisteria is well advanced up the drain pipe it has been planted to camouflage. The others are doing really well too.

Some more warm weather would help. I'd like it too. How about you?
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Summer Outings

DJ made a splendid rhubarb and custard tart. His brother and sister in law drove up from Oughtershaw near Hawes, where they were having a week in a cottage in the Dales, and this was dessert. The rhubarb came from my brother's allotment in Barnet. We had been away, staying there for a couple of days, visiting them and getting to ride the tube to the O2 to see Carmen. It was a tremendous spectacle. We enjoyed a sunny day in town and visited the big machines at the Science Museum, the big skeletons at the Natural History Museum, lunched at the Royal Albert Hall and then bussed to Oxford Street to buy me some socks and trainers because my feet were blistering in my sandals. I'd had the good sense not to wear my new red shoes but the old comfy sandals were doing their first day of the year on bare feet in the sun and the feet couldn't take the strain.
Then on to the O2 for Carmen. It was sung in English but that made it no easier to understand. Doing opera "in the round" means you don't get it all in your face and anyway, it doesn't sound like english when its sung like that. But the production, the spectacle and the soloists were outstanding.

We saw Robin Hood at the pictures last week and like Chillsider, thoroughly enjoyed it but thought it overdid the battle scenes. We are also looking forward to the next one. This afternoon we are off to see The Bad Lieutenant. We love bargains and the Orange 241 Wednesday deal gets us both into the pics for £5.40 and two pizzas for the price of one at Pizza Express. Bring it on!

Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

My car needs a major operation and I'm at home awaiting the phone call to tell me what it is and how much it will cost. It has been such a fit and well car up until now that it was quite a shock when a light started blinking on the dashboard. It is in for "diagnostic tests".
So I did a spot of dyeing to hang out to dry in the sun while I waited. I used a garnet red shade on some more of the merino/tunisian batch of wool and also threw in a scarf I had knitted in blue/grey/white mixes. The Merino picks up the dye better than the Tunisian wool and the pure Tunisian is on the left, the Merino/Tunisian mix in the middle and a blue acrylic and Tunisian mix is on the right.
I was cheered up when my new shoes came.

I tried a pair on in another colour at the shops yesterday but they hadn't got them in lovely, shiny, Dorothy red. Clarks are able to check their computer for availability and then arrange to have them sent to the shop or delivered to your door. My door! Yes Please!

They are like new slippers.

I shall go round to the P.O. to send some teaspoons to Moscow that I sold on ebay and try them out properly. DJ will sit in the sunny courtyard and wait for news from the Car Hospital.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 17 May 2010

Ticket To Ride

Saturday was lovely so we set off to the North York Moors to take part in the "Spring Steam Gala".

The engines have names like Nigel Gresley and Eric Treacey and so must be male, and men talk knowledgeably about what number they are and how many times they have ridden them and where!!! I wonder if the carriages are female. There were women around but they seemed to be carrying the sandwiches.
Here's an engine but I've no idea which one. We drove to Grosmont in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and bought a rover-return ticket to Pickering. This allowed us to get on and off at the three stations in between.
A small train came in, heading for Goathland, the village used for the TV series "Heartbeat" and also the station used in a Harry Potter movie. I managed to grab this armchair at the front of the saloon in the teak-built carriage. We had a wander round the pretty village of Goathland where most of the buildings are still labelled as if they were in Aidensfield and blue and white Ford Anglias all claim to be the original police car used in the series. Then we caught another train to Pickering. We wandered round the town and had a very delicious, haddock and chips in a comfortable pub.
Then we sauntered back to the station for the return train to Grosmont.
There were none!
There was a brushwood fire on the line (probably started by a spark from the steam engine which drew our carriages into Pickering) and the fire brigade had closed the line. That meant that an awful lot of people were at the wrong ends of the railway line as their day out came to a worrying end, including us. They gathered on the platform at Pickering where immensely good humoured, polite and informative staff, got taxis for families with young ones, and tried to rally bus drivers out of their armchairs where they were happily watching the football Grand Final between Chelsea and Portsmouth, in order to come and transport the rest of us. They didn't have much luck with that and with a couple of hours or more looming between then and the likelihood of fit people with no kids getting on a coach, we decided to take action.

We walked across town to catch the Coastliner. This is a grand double-decker which travels hourly across the moors from Leeds to Whitby. We had our bus passes and enjoyed a friendly and stunningly beautiful ride as far as Goathland with some other ex-train-riders. The bus didn't go to Grosmont, so we walked the three and a half miles down the old wagonway to Grosmont from Goathland.

It was a beautiful walk and we got back to the car in the early evening and drove home over the Moors to a sausage sandwich supper. Quite an adventure via car, train, bus, foot and car again for the eleven hours we were out.

We were up early yesterday for a walk in the Bellburn woods up the road, to see the bluebells and then picnic in the Bishop's Palace Deer Shelter. Today was less eventful. My car broke down and we went to Wickes to see about a new kitchen. It's kitchen sale time and the one we want comes with a "free" dishwasher. Makes up for the cost of the new parts for the car.
Cheers Gillian

Friday, 14 May 2010

North Of The Tyne

North of the Tyne River estuary is a small town called Tynemouth. It is a lovely place with classy old Georgian and Victorian buildings and a grand sweeping crescent of terraced houses overlooking the North Sea from atop a cliff.
The next small town to the north is Cullercoats. Yesterday on the news (North Eastern England News !) was a report about the awarding of a "Blue Flag" for Cullercoats Beach and DJ wanted to go and see it. So today we did. Then we headed north along the coast, through Whitley Bay to St Mary's Lighthouse.We walked along the cliff path from Seaton Sluice to the lighthouse. It was a mild, sunny day and this large black woolly dog was bounding in and out of the crystal clear water.
As we approached the lighthouse it got cloudier and cooler and we ate our picnic sitting on some cold rocks in a bit of a chill wind.
We had to get back across the causeway before the tide came in just after 2pm that day, and did so, as the rock pools were beginning to fill up and herald the incoming tide. There are warnings about NOT trying to run across at the last minute!
Tomorrow we have decided to go to the North York Moors Railway's spring steam fest and take another picnic, hope for better weather and ride the steam trains. Watch this space.
Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Lamb Chops and Pork Crackling!

We each have an annual ticket to the Beamish Museum, which will run out at the end of June, so after the frost had cleared we took off for a visit and a three mile walk around the circuit. The day was sunny when we left but it deteriorated into cloudy patches and some showers as we did the walk.
It was advertised as "Spring lambs and Ducklings". We found the orphan lambs first. They were at the Home Farm in a barn and ran towards us, bleating, as if were the bearers of milk-feeding-bottles.
Sorry! Not us!
Then we went through the stables and sties , followed by these chooks and found...An incubator/warm lamp section with some growing chicks and a duckling.The real pigsties down the back of the Home Farm, house this old girl (on the right!) who seems to be having a Chat with DJ. But she was really waiting for her mistress to offer her a sweetie!!!
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 3 May 2010

Spinning A Yarn and Then Dyeing

This is the colourful result of dyeing some mixed merino and Tunisian hill-sheep yarns which I plied together.The merino was Australian-super-fine and the Tunisian wool was almost like mohair. So I plied a strand of each together to produce a yarn which would knit at close to 8Pply/double. Then I went into the Dye Box. I mixed blue and purple.

It starts as a hank of wool like this. This particular one is from Tunisia. Their sheep roam the steeper slopes and look a bit like a cross between sheep and goats, and, indeed this wool looks like a cross between wool and mohair. I bought a few hanks last year at the souk while I was there.
I wound some superfine merino together with the tunisian wool using my winder and niddy-noddy.
They were then dyed and dried in skeins in the soft wind and occasional sun.
It was planned that today would be a trip to the seaside in the morning and a guided walk around Barnard Castle in the afternoon. BUT the weather was ghastly for being out for a long time and both were decided against. So, DJ did some painting and I did the dyeing.
We had a wonderful meal of "Chicken Fajitas" which I have never had before and was orchestrated by DJ, because he had had them before.
It was too late to take photos. They were eaten too soon.
Cheers Gillian