Wednesday, 29 February 2012


I'm having an 'off' day. 
Somehow all the little (and slightly larger) irritations in my life are getting to me.
I know I'm being slightly irrational.
I know that I've got masses to be thankful for.
The sun is shining.
I've got good friends and good health.
But today I just don't see it.
It's one of those days.
Normally I'm a really positive person
I hate it when I feel like this

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The New Season

It's that time of year when car club activities start to show some signs of life.  Nobody wants to drive their 'pride and joy' during the bad weather so it's a real sign of spring when the cars start moving again.  Last weekend was very Marcos-orientated for us.

On Friday night we were invited to a club supper at a house near Hereford.  We've known this couple through club events for quite a while - meeting at pubs and race tracks - but this was the first time we'd driven over to their house.  We had a lovely time and I fell completely in love with their two Persian cats, Scruffy and Nellie.  At the moment I'm wondering if Tom would be prepared to let me have a kitten in the house. Unfortunately I think he's been too used to being an only cat for too long.....

On Sunday we spent the day at Race Retro at the Stoneleigh, nr Warwick.  We drove over in 'the Kitten' (see tab) and spent a very pleasant few hours wandering round all the stands.  We are really keen to follow as much of the Historic Racing Series as possible this year so it was good to go to the club stand and suss out the programme.  We also 'oggled' lots of beautiful cars and enjoyed seening the classic rally cars in action.

It was so warm that we even managed to have a picnic by the car.  I really enjoy picnics and have collected lots of gear over the years.  I made a chicken rice salad and a green salad on Sunday, followed by fresh fruit and little Swiss Chocolates that had come from my friend in Geneva at Christmas.  This was all washed down with a strong pot of Columbian Coffee.  So much better than munching on over-priced burgers from the vans.. and cheaper too!  I can't wait for the season to start properly now.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Malvern in the sun...

My trip to Malvern was started quite badly yesterday afternoon.  The M50 was closed - which resulted in loads of extra traffic taking the southern bypass round Worcester.  This is a woefully inadequate single track road and it took me 50 minutes to do a journey which should take no more than half an hour.  Then - when I arrived at the wool shop - there was a little sign on the door which read "Back in 5 minutes"!  Grrrr!  Anyway, I took myself off to a little coffee shop and passed some time people watching.

I then decided to take a little walk round by the Priory Church.  It looked absolutely stunning in the spring sunshine...

I took a little peak inside as well....

Next I took myself round to 'The Knitting Parlour'.  The owner was delightful and very happy to let me take a picture to post here...  The front room is full of really unusual wools while the back room has a good range of patterns, baby wools and DK yarns...

I then wandered back to the car through the Winter Gardens.  I was really surprised to see this shrub in full bloom... I am a completely remedial gardener - does anyone know what it is?

The low sunlight created some lovely shaddows, but I had to rush away because I was meeting up with a friend in a village near Worcester and I was worried about the traffic. 

This was my 'woolly loot' on the dining room table later...

The lemon and darker yarn on the left are for my current project.  The other three balls are for the baby blanket.  Even though it was a slightly fraught afternoon, I was SO pleased that I made the effort to visit this shop.  I'll definitely go over there again.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

I Feel Good!!!

"I feel good.. so good...!"

This is my celebration dance now that I've finished all my Year 7 reports AND the data collection for Year 8, 9 and 10 (13 classes of information in total).  Tonight I'm going to kick back, open a bottle of Merlot, watch some TV and crochet.  I've found that I can crochet while Mark is driving so my first blanket already looks like this....

(I'm quite pleased with the progress - given that I only started last Sunday
and I crochet at snail speed!)

On Saturday I have plans to do all the food shopping and general house stuff in the morning then take myself off to Malvern after lunch.  I've been told that there's a lovely old-fashioned wool shop there and I'm desperate to take a look.  I'd like to pick up some wool to make a baby blanket for one of my colleagues, who is seven months pregnant.  I'd also like to buy some wool to finish off the project in the picture.  At the moment I've just been using wool that was around the house - but I'm running out of yarn in the correct colour-ways.  Mark is delighted because my plans will give him a decent amount of time in the garage.

This was the view from my bedroom window when I got home this evening...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

On the Sea Front..

Having spent all my life in the Midlands - about as far away from the sea as you can reasonably get in England - I've always had a fascination with beach huts.  I love the way the exteriors tend to be very similar but, when you peek into one, they are so quirky and personal.  I was really intrigued to see a blue plaque on one near the pier in Bournemouth.

When I got closer I was amazed to read this...!

This is an old photo of the original building at the end of Bournemouth Pier.  Apparently the huge areas of glass made it completely unsuitable for its location.  During a storm the glass would rattle and break.  The building was pulled down around 1930.

This is a picture of the pier today.  It suffered terribly during WW2 as much of it was demolished so that it wouldn't be used during an invasion.  In the early 1950s it was rebuilt in the style of the day.  This can be seen from the concrete pillars...

The sun finally came out on Sunday morning and I rushed down to the seafront to take a picture of these beach huts.  Each hut has been painted a slightly different shade and they looked amazing.  I could have messed around taking photos for the rest of the day but we had to get back to Worcester.

The last three days have largely been about making that transition from 'holiday brain' to 'teacher brain' again.  We operate a two week timetable and my weeks are quite imbalanced.  Fortunately I've returned in the 'more admin time/nicer classes' phase of the fortnight.  Next week will hit hard though! 

Monday, 20 February 2012

An Unexpected Find..

While we were in Bournemouth at the weekend we discovered the fabulous Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum on the East cliff above Bournemouth Pier.  The Russell-Cotes were avid collectors of just about everything in the latter stages of the 19th Century.  This house was built between 1898 and 1901 as both a home and a showcase for all their collections. 

This is the view of the house as you go through the gates into the formal gardens.  To me it has a slightly 'Disney-esque' look - but it appears to be a restauration that is accurate to the original appearance of the building.

There's a collection of Japanese Art and artifacts in the modern extension above the shop.  I'd just started taking photos when I was told to put my camera away... Ooops!  Nevertheless I'm rather pleased with this little effort...

This is a (slightly illegal) photo of the dining room - the first room that you visit.  I am a complete fan of Victorian decoration and design so I was completely 'bowled over' by the amazing interiors.  We spent more than two hours just gazing at the wallpapers and furniture.  The house is also full of paintings and beautiful collections.  I'm going to have to go back again to have a proper look at those.

Since I got home I've discovered that the Museum has a great website which includes 360 degree tours of each of the rooms.  Here's a link so that you can enjoy the wild Victorian decor too.... Explore East Cliffe Hall

And the most amazing thing about all of this....?  It's completely FREE!  It was a brilliant way to the spend the morning with my parents and friends.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Our Weekend Away..

Welcome to my new followers... who find me in the process of getting to grips with my new camera!  It's a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX100V, which comes with a very nice Carl Zeiss lense.  It has a couple of 'Intelligent Auto' settings and a very useful 'SCN' setting.  This allows me to select the kind of photo I'd like to achieve - soft skin tone, hazy background, food, pet portrait etc - and then it does it's best to make sense of what I'm taking!  There's also heaps of semi-manual settings.

We've been at a 'formal weekend' with family and friends in Bournemouth for the last couple of days.  This has been a great chance to put the camera through it's paces.  From the start, we've had a fabulous time.  We were up-graded (without asking) to a recently refurbished room with an epic sea view.  It even had a little balcony where I could try out shots of the bay in the different light conditions.

The teddy bears loved the view (taken on 'pet portrait' setting for maximum plush definition!)

This was the view they were enjoying...

Here I was playing with the 'hazy background' setting...

And this was my starter on Friday evening (taken with the 'food' setting ofcourse!)

These are some of my friends, taken before the formal dinner started last night.  The light was very poor for portrait pictures so the camera triumphed again!

And artistic shot of our champagne (taken on 'intelligent auto')

On top of all this camera fun I've also learnt how to crochet a square this weekend.  My dear friend A. has overcome my mental block.... she showed me what to do while we were enjoying a slow breakfast this morning.  I have also discovered that I can crochet while Mark is driving - which has made me extremely happy.  I've always felt quite resentful of the 80 minutes I waste commuting each day.  Now I can crochet my way round the M42!!!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A new 'toy'..

I've been putting money away for a special purchase for quite a while.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of going out and buying my new camera.  It's 'light years' away from the one I was using before.  Here are a few a of the test pictures I took this morning..

The view of Worcester Cathedral from our side of the city... 
(I've always loved this view but have never had a camera capable of capturing the image before.)

The parish church...
(Largely built in the 14th and 15th centuries - but there's been a church here for 1100 years)

Crocuses by the War Memorial..

....and snowdrops.

More snowdrops in the graveyard

I was supposed to be spending the morning doing some Year 11 marking - but the spring-like weather and a new toy completely 'did' for the schoolwork!  Fortunately the marking doesn't have to be done until Tuesday.  Unfortunately I'm the person who is supervising the moderation process so it will look rather bad if I haven't done my paperwork!!! 

I'm looking for some creative excuses to share with my second in department... Any ideas?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Our Valentine's Day Walk..

Today Mark and I decided to continue being tourists in our own area.  This time we crossed the River Severn and headed for the hills at Abberly.  We parked our car in the village then followed a loop of empty country lanes and woodland paths.  We saw this old saw in a corner of a field with a huge view towards Ludlow and the Welsh Marches...

There were loads of snowdrops and I even spotted one primrose as we were walking along.  There were also loads of gorgeous cottages.  We started to play the 'dream cottage game'..!

This is the view of the Teme Valley at the furthest point in the walk.  We'd never walked on these hills before.  I'd certainly like to come back and take some more photos when it's a bit clearer.

After lunch in a pub in the village we followed the brown historic monument signs to the remains of a little 12th century church.  The tower and nave are completely ruined but you can still go into the chancel and take a look around.

We squeezed through the very narrow medieval door...

And discovered this beautiful old roof...

The parish built a new church about 1/4 mile away during the 19th century but it's clear that this church is still used for some services.  It had a really welcoming atmosphere - despite the freezing cold!

The old Rectory seems to be a private house now.  I couldn't resist this picture of the building and the hills through the church window....  I think it would look a lot better with a bit of sunshine!

Hope that you've all had a great Valentine's Day!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Pershore Bridges Walk

Today Mark and I decided to be tourists in our own area (as it's halfterm and Mark is also on holiday).  We decided to explore the little town of Pershore, by the River Avon.  We started out by the historic Pershore Bridges.  These concrete cylinders are anti-tank defences from the Second World War.

There's a pannel which explains how the whole area could have been turned into a 'stop line' if the Germans had invaded.

There also further pannels explaining how the central arch of the this bridge was demolished by the Cavaliers when they retreated through Pershore during the Civil War.  The Parliamentarian troops quickly repaired the bridge with different coloured stone.  You can still see the repair clearly today.

We walked along the river bank for a couple of miles then followed the waymarked track up into the woodland.  These logs had just been felled and they smelled amazing.

Eventually we made our way down off the hill and back towards the Abbey.  This lovely building is practically on our doorstep but I've never been in before.

This beautiful carving dates from 972, when the current building was errected.  There's been a religious building on the site since the third century.

This is the choir of the original Abbey - all that remains of a much larger building.  Henry VIII had a lot to answer for here!

There are some lovely Victorian stained glass windows.  I was taken with the fact that there is an unusual amount of blue glass here...

Now my parents are coming round for Sunday dinner shortly.  I decided to have a 'spring' them to my table this evening....

Thank you to everyone who has nominated/tagged me recently.  I will try to think of some answers to Jo's searching questions!