drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…back to normal

Back home, safe and sound now and back to work too this morning.

Tonight it felt like last week and the snow never happened – all melted away and everything quite calm.  Yesterday we journeyed 250 mile through parts of the country that had experienced heavy snow and the only road that wasn’t cleared was the one we live on – the forgotten cul-de-sac, forgotten by the council as they never send a gritter or snow plough down here.  As we live on a hill and can only get out by going uphill most residents have to park their cars on the road going down to the village when it snows – it is safer and usually more passable.

It wasn’t easy getting back into work today – I spent more than an hour alone reading the emails waiting in my inbox – most of them about the weather and who had struggled in and who was working at home and the offer of a free breakfast butty from our employers to the ones who had braved the snow.  I was very surprised to find the auditors had decided to call off their visit last Tuesday – they were put off by the threat of snow so after all that hard work preparing before my week away we have to wait now until after Easter.

After work we headed to Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop – the vegetable aisle was quite bare in places, no cabbage, cauliflower or courgettes, the suppliers having difficulty providing the goods because of the snow.  I took advantage of a few grocery items on offer and stocked up on fresh eggs and bread – have you noticed toilet rolls are becoming much smaller, when I came to put them away tonight we had an old one at the back of the cupboard it was both taller and fatter than this more recent equivalent.

The second item we listed on eBay, the curved shower screen, has now been sold and waiting collection so on Thursday my first day off we will be listing a few more items – DH has already written the information ready for me to proof read and then we will have to decide on a price.   I don’t think this time round I will take that much notice of the eBay suggestions on price – I think we could have got a little bit more than we did for our goods given they were brand new and discontinued so very useful for the people who have bought them to be able to get hold of them – I know we have been in this position ourselves trying to find something that has been discontinued so I am more than pleased we have been able to help these buyers out.

We arrived home yesterday to only two letters after over a week away – that must be a first.  Usually we can’t open the door – though a lot of the mail waiting on the mat can often be junk.  We assumed that the postman probably hadn’t got round with the snow – we were probably right as today we had a flurry of mail.  Amongst the usual kind of business letters – my annual tax summary, annual pension statement, new terms and conditions for our banks etc (so plenty of bedtime reading) I had been sent a £5 reward voucher from Wyevale to use at their garden centres and a 20% off Neal’s Yard voucher code – so I can use this to buy my next lot of face cream and serum (one of my indulgences – I only hope it is working, but how would I know what my skin would be like if I used something else?  I can hardly compare unless I use different creams at the same time on the different halves of my face – but that sounds far too complicated for me!

Well my cosy bed beckons and I need my beauty sleep just in case the face cream needs a lot of help to rejuvenate my ageing skin.

Back soon x



beach cottage, bEAching, general chit chat

bEAching…stuck in the tin can


Well – we are well and truly stuck up here in Scotland with not a hope of getting back home to Yorkshire yet.

Our only route back first to the border, then down the M6 and finally across the M62, which is at present closed, sounds far too risky and I would rather be in a rocky, noisy tin can of a caravan than stuck for 12 hours or more without heat, food or drink as some motorists have been.

The noise from the gales battering our caravan is horrendous and has prevented us getting much sleep for the last two nights but the rocking is something else – it is making us feel quite sea sick and with each gust I fear our anchorage might give way and we will be whisked off into the sea and looking at the huge swell on the sea from our window here I would not want to end up in it!  The swell is so high that we can barely see the land opposite across the bay and every now and again a huge wave hits the caravan window.

Luckily no trees down yet – but no roofing felt left on the log store that has been ripped away last night.

However, as you can see thankfully we are still snow free unlike the rest of the country and all our relatives who are snowed in from Yarm through North Yorkshire to Sheffield and also those in Lincolnshire and probably everywhere in between.  We had thought we could get as far as our nearest relative from here and stay with them for a while but looking at their Facebook pictures that is no longer a possibility.  So we will have to put up and stay put for a while – I am expected back at work on Monday – we will have to wait and see if Sunday travel might be possible.

Obviously there has been no gardening going on here – yesterday we braved the elements and drove to the next village for lunch at the local cafe just to get away from the noise for a while – we were their first customers.  They had just had their power switched back on after a morning long power cut – eek power cuts – if we get a power cut now we would have no means of heating (gas boiler like any other is powered by electricity) or cooking (gas cooker has a fail safe electric ignition) we would have to go to bed I think and stay there to keep warm!  One of the villagers had some quite spectacular pictures of some frozen waves and I could see icy slush along the shoreline as we drove up the coast road which I have never ever seen before.  Today the temperature is up to zero so feels comparatively warm to what it has been.

You would think that having an enforced break might be an ideal way of using the time to plan and think but I find the weather going on outside far too distracting and we are spending most of our time reading up on the weather news.  I think our plans today are to go into Stranraer – we found the winds were not as strong further up the coast in the basin of the bay so might go and replenish milk and bread and buy some lunch out.

We will probably avoid what the locals term the ‘Car Wash’ that is the stretch just along the main road from here where there is a concrete sea wall around Terally Bay and when the sea hits this with force sends up huge sprays of sea water across the road but complete with rocks and pebbles – exciting to see – the kids love it but many a car is dented around these parts from using this road.  I think we will use the back road today which comes out after the ‘Car Wash’.

Taken earlier today by a local – the ‘Car Wash’  – the road snakes around just where these waves are crashing over the sea wall on the left.

Apparently there is a local pantomime in the village hall tonight – we need a good laugh so might go along.


UPDATE – since going in to town this afternoon we unexpectedly  learnt of a diesel shortage here as the tankers cannot get through – we only knew because on our way out-of-town we saw a huge queue at the petrol station so went to investigate – guess what our car runs on – on discovering this was the only petrol station in town to have any diesel at all we joined the queue – we were amongst the few lucky ones – after we filled our car they only had another 120 litres left.

Reports say M62 is still closed tonight and there have been more power cuts – luckily not local to us.

But what next I ask?



bEAching, cottage garden, drEAming, general chit chat

bEAching…a week in the cottage garden (weather permitting)

Everything was ready to pack yesterday morning for our trip to Scotland but it still took a while to assemble and get into bags and then into the car.  I often feel I spend my life packing and unpacking and it is not a job I like doing but sometimes needs must.   Part of the problem is remembering what is already at the cottage (caravan) – I do make notes when we leave but some things just escape my memory so if there is no note I have to search my brain and ask myself do I really need more brown rice or toilet rolls!  I have over the years got my packing down to a bit of a fine art with the aid of my trusty packing list and by duplicating items like toiletries so I don’t even have to think about these – although DH will insist on packing his toilet bag and I then have to remove it again and remind him he doesn’t need it.

The journey up to Scotland was quite enjoyable – outside it was like a beautiful spring day – glorious sunshine and blue skies, but bitterly cold.  Here and there from the car widow I spotted drifts of snowdrops and many clumps of daffodils  about to burst open – but the temperatures over the journey wavered from 6 degrees down to minus one – maybe not the best time to be setting out to spend a few days at the cottage (caravan).

– On a long journey like this we can either chat or doze or both and I did both.  We always have things to discuss, things in our life we want to change, a rant about people who have annoyed us, problems at work, life in general or often just stuff – being in a car for so long is a very good place to catch up.  As we left the outskirts of Manchester behind the heavy motorway traffic petered out and I was asleep so by the time I woke we had reached the Kendal junction and it was fairly quiet from then on.

We stopped for lunch at the Burton in Kendal services for a Costa toasted sandwich – I really like their Halloumi and mixed roast pepper Focaccia.  Once across the border we usually stop in Castle Douglas for another drink and a bag of chips for tea – Moore’s are an award-winning fish and chip shop and their chips are always good – we take our own bread and butter though as we prefer brown and most chip shops only serve those soft white rolls spread with margarine or cheap butter – not my favourite.

As well as a bit of a rest this week  we were hoping for a few fine days to be able to go in the garden but the forecast for the next few days is snow and very low temperatures – nothing we can do but wait and see what the weather turns out like.  I have plenty of books and magazines to occupy myself if it does snow.

I was pleasantly surprised this morning  when we woke and opened the curtains to see more sunshine and I could tell from the chill in the air inside the caravan that it was cold outside but nothing prevents me from getting out into our garden other than lashing rain – so with layer upon layer we wrapped up warmly and with secateurs in hand and a rake set off into the upper wood to do a bit of clearing in the undergrowth.

Over the years we have had all sorts of people going into the wood and chopping down trees – from Scottish Power to the local council and then leaving us with what is termed ‘nature piles’ – this is their term for not taking the stuff away and clearing up after themselves.  Woodland it seems is fair game for anyone – we even had a Birch tree chopped down and taken by some thieving individual – maybe for logs we will never know – but they too left us the branches and just took the trunk.  This is the downside of not living up at the cottage – you don’t know what is going on or who is trespassing.  Someone has also been helping themselves to our seasoned log pile – do they really think we don’t notice!

Believe me you can have too many nature piles and some of them have to go so we can make a safe path through the wood again and we also need to remove some of the ivy that is threatening to strangle the whole wood floor.  We had very little ivy at one time but when trees are taken down and light is let in the balance of undergrowth changes.  Scottish Power took out four large trees (by ‘accident’ they said) a few years ago without even telling us and this has been the major cause of all our problems.  Of course once felled large mature trees take years to replace so their apologies did nothing to make me feel better.

Anyway enough ranting – I am sure with a bit of hard work this week we can clear what we need to.

Sorry for the lack of photos I don’t usually post when we are at the cottage but I have managed to connect briefly to the internet but don’t expect the photos until I get back home.

Back soon x

drEAming, fashion, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about

mEAndering…down memory lane in 1970’s Cheltenham

Here is part 2 of our trip down to Cirencester and Cheltenham…

For anyone that doesn’t know Cheltenham it is a Regency spa town and this is an example of the houses you will find there – usually painted and quite often adorned with wrought iron balconies and canopies – from my first visit when I attended my interview for the fashion course I fell in love with Cheltenham and this house was always one of my favourites just off the town centre – I love the intricate iron work.


As we wandered through the town we were surprised at how much we remembered –  we walked down the famous Promenade…


– it felt very much as it always did with Cavendish House (now House of Fraser) at the top of the street –  but many of the other shops along the stretch had changed.  It is a shame the trees are bare at the moment it looks quite splendid when they are in full leaf.

Habitat was at the very bottom of the street in the 70’s – our favourite shop because it was so modern and different then – but now long gone.  I remember that on a Saturday morning it was usual to see many of the wealthy shoppers parading the Promenade and Montpellier in their furs and jewels accompanied by their Afghan hounds and other beautifully groomed long-haired pedigree dogs.  Such a contrast to my home town of Huddersfield where the shoppers were much more about a bargain from a mill shop or the markets.


Behind the Promenade lies Regent Street with the Everyman Theatre – this has quite rightly received the Heritage Award for the complete refurbishment in 2011.


We eventually came to the High Street – the old HSBC bank (then the Midland) is still on the corner – I had my first bank account here and ran up an overdraft of £10 in my first term and was called in by the bank manager who looked at me sternly from across his desk and told me in no uncertain terms that overdrafts were a definite no no – putting the fear of God in me I went straight out to get the local paper and found myself a weekend job at the nearby hospital to pay it off and then went to bank with the Co-op where the two ‘old’ ladies on the counter upstairs always addressed me by my christian name and enquired after my progress on the course.

This is quite a famous pub because of the lovely old tiled exterior – it was never our local but it is good to know it has survived demolition.  Our local was still there but I expect the owners have long retired.

Further along the little old fashioned jewellers shop is still in business (surprisingly it looks just as it did then) – this is where we chose my engagement ring –  a diamond between to deep blue saphires and cost a hefty £28.  I still have the handwritten receipt and of course the ring!


Turning off the High street into one of the many side alleys we just had to go and see where our second rented house once stood – now demolished and the site occupied by a Lidl supermarket.  This picture is all that is left of 30 Grosvenor Terrace.  (I am the one on the bike and as you will notice beards were very much in fashion then!)


Our previous house called simply ’58’ was out on the Prestbury Road, which back then was a rather fine row of large semi-detached Regency properties with our very shabby student house letting the side down.  It now stands looking very grand and much more in keeping with its well maintained neighbours who have managed to keep their beautiful wrought iron canopies intact.

This house holds very special memories –  this is where I met both my life long friends and my husband – this is where we packed more fun into the few years we lived here than the rest of my life.  In all the time we lived here we never had a key – there was no lock to the front door so the occupants and everyone else just walked in and out – quite unbelievable now but I can assure you as poor students on very frugal grants we certainly had nothing of value to pinch so it was never a problem!!



The Art College at the top of Pittville near the racecourse has been demolished in places and rebuilt – this is how the fashion block looked when I was a student there from 1972 to 1975 …

Google image University of Gloucestershire


…and this is me leaning out of one of the upstairs windows – being young and slim I always got roped in to modelling both my own and other students creations for photo shoots and shows so I thought it might be fun to show you fashion in the seventies.




It was usual during our course to be involved in projects with fabric manufacturers like Courtaulds promoting their new fabrics.  We would be sent rolls of various fabrics and had to design outfits to suit.  This one was a hit with ICI fibres and was featured in the trade magazine Fashion Weekly – I remember that seeing my outfit in print was quite exciting – I think I even wore the coat a few times afterwards.



Below was a project for Heathcote fabrics in fine wool crepe and I made the coat for myself afterwards in grey wool for a trip to London – I thought I was the bees knees at the time!

Oddly whilst we were in Cheltenham I actually saw someone wearing an almost identical coat (now 40 years later – which just shows how fashions just keep coming around).


As well as the very stylised line and ink drawings I was very much into experimenting with pastels back then and drew large A3 sized freehand drawings onto coloured pastel paper which were so different to my fellow students that I worried the examiners might frown upon them.



Luckily not – but all my drawings do seem a bit crude now – with all the latest technology Fashion students today produce work that looks much more professional.

When I started work at New Look patterns in Bradford I was asked to design a simple range of patterns for the fabric manufacturers Landau Sekers to team up with our Special Offer patterns – I found these old drawings the other day.


I wondered if any of the patterns I designed back then might still be available now and Googled vintage New Look patterns and sure enough among the hundreds that are featured on Google images there are many designs that I remember doing –  though in general they are not my drawings on the envelope fronts as we used a professional illustrator called Alan who lived near Warrington and each week we would send him a pack of sample clothes we had made with fabric swatches and colour guides and he sent the hand painted drawings back to be used on the envelope fronts.

So that is my recent trip down memory lane and it was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be – I just wish I could go back and do it all over again and yes I certainly do miss Cheltenham.

back soon x

out and about, mEAndering, drEAming, general chit chat

mEAndering…goodbye to Uncle P

It has been a bittersweet few days.  We travelled down to Cirencester on Thursday morning for my Uncles funeral, he died suddenly, leaving the whole family shocked and upset at his passing.  You may remember this picture of him that I included in my mum’s Family Album recently.


Uncle P was married to my late dad’s younger sister (the one here with the cake tin) – he was always full of life – ‘a happy chappy’ I guess – full of wit and wisdom and well-known for the occasional practical joke.

All our side of the family wanted to attend the funeral even though we had long journeys to get there involving a night in a hotel.  Those going from North Yorkshire chose to go down after work on Wednesday evening, stay in a hotel overnight and then go back home after the funeral.   Those of us here in the west of Yorkshire chose to journey down early on Thursday morning and stay over coming back Friday.

Even though it was a sad affair it was lovely to see all of the wider family, some of whom we have not seen for months or in some cases years, and catch up with all their news and the latest arrivals.

As is usual at these events there are many cousins –  first cousins, second cousins and third cousins and not forgetting all the once removed ones – I am never sure how the heirarchy of cousins fits together but we were all there.  Little L discovered her third cousin (possibly removed, possibly not), Little H – they are of similar age and even though it was the first time they had ever met got on so well to the point that little L did not want to leave her new playmate and go home and had a bit of a sulk on at home time!

After a bite to eat and a lot of catching up, a few tears and a few laughs, we set off to find our Premier Inn hotel at Little Witcombe – just outside Gloucester – only to be directed by the Google place finder to the one at Barnwood.  We didn’t even know it was the wrong one until the lady on reception could not locate our booking.  We then had to run back to the car in the lashing rain with all our luggage – repack it into the boot and set off with a few vague directions from the polish receptionist to find the right one.

All we knew was there was a lot of left turns and roundabouts involved – but more by sheer luck than management we eventually came to Little Witcombe – only to discover the hotel is in the middle of nowhere without a takeaway or chip shop in sight and the restaurant next door had stopped serving long ago for the night.

So after dumping our luggage in our room it was back into the car again to find a local takeaway – we ended up a few miles away on the outskirts of Gloucester at Domino Pizza – my first ever and although I am not a fan of takeaways and fast food it was surprisingly good.

On Friday morning before heading homeward we had our trip to Cheltenham where both DH and I met and lived for a few years whilst at Art College – it is many years since we had been there and I was a bit hesitant about going back – sometimes just having the memory of how it was is better – but I really enjoyed trying to spot buildings and places we remembered and what had been knocked down or changed.

I will fill you in on our visit on my next post.  I am experiencing some computer problems at the moment so posting is a bit intermittent.

Back soon x

drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…of Italy and a car

You may have noticed that I have been quiet the last few days – no I haven’t come down with anything – thankfully – although we had 3 people go home last Wednesday, I was pleased it was my last day and I could escape the germs.  I have been wiping desks, door handles and key boards each morning with my Dettol wipes just to try to keep them away.  Coughs and sneezes from work colleagues are harder to avoid!
No, the reason for my absence is that I have been a little overwhelmed lately  – well a lot overwhelmed actually.
I have a couple of large projects on the go at the moment and they are taking up all my spare time.  Once the time has been put in to deal with these the end results should be very enjoyable!
The first mammoth project is that I have to change my car before it is no longer useable.  It is sixteen years old and due an MOT by the end of this month and I already know it won’t pass so I decided that enough is enough and I need to buy a new one.  One that will last me another 16 years and hopefully one where the heater works during the journey to work not just as I drive into the car park, and where I can open or lock all the doors at once. 
After slogging around the showrooms, reading reviews and taking a test drive I have settled on one and placed an order – just got to arrange the insurance and then sit back and wait for delivery.  I am so sad though to be saying goodbye to my old faithfull friend – I just get so upset at the final parting.
The other project on the go is what I am referring to as the ‘Italian Job’
We are invited to my niece’s wedding in Italy (she is marrying an Italian) in April.  The ceremony and reception takes place in a small village in Northern Italy near Verona and Vicenza and not far from Venice.  We intend to make a small holiday of it and go for 9 days – three of which will be taken up getting to the wedding, enjoying the wedding day and then saying our goodbyes and moving on.  We will be meeting up with my two daughters for the wedding itself but then each of us are planning to go off in different directions. 
After the wedding OH and I have decided on a few days in Vicenza followed by a few days in Venice before flying home. 
We will need to book a hotel to stay in on landing at Venice Marco Polo then move round to the outskirts of Vicenza to another hotel closer to the wedding venue for 3 days.  Then another short move to an apartment for 3 nights in the centre of Vicenza to experience Italian life and finally moving to Venice for the remaining three days.  Four different hotels / apartments in all.  That’s a lot of packing and unpacking and a lot of booking.
The choosing of all these different places to stay has been a bit of a headache and so time-consuming – scrolling through endless internet pages of hotels in the region – what did we do before the internet?  Places that look OK on Booking.com can look quite different when viewing the travellers own photos on Tripadvisor.  I really hate it when you see a lovely hotel room on a website – stylish and clean and then discover that this is their only room of that decorative standard and on arrival you are shown to something quite different and very shabby in appearance (and I don’t mean in a chic way).
We have booked the flights, the hotel for the wedding and the train connection so far but still many bookings to go yet.  It is not a cheap way to take a holiday either – I can see why people opt for a package deal.
So I may be quiet for a few more days yet…I am still following and reading along though with everyone’s blogs and hopefully all will be back to normal again soon and blogging will resume.  If anyone has any tips for Italian travel they will be very welcome.

Back soon x

drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…looking back on our non-plastic kitchen

Did I mention that when we were Art students in the early seventies we were big on saving the planet – the generation that came a while after us during the Thatcher years seemed to completely ignore the topic and it became a spend, spend, spend world and consumerism was born in a big way.
One of the ways we tried to ‘save the planet’ was that we had an almost fully non-plastic kitchen.  With all the recent discussion in the news of plastic waste I was reminded of our efforts back then and that it is not actually that hard to achieve it just takes a bit of adjustment.
We carefully selected our kitchen contents and only bought items of glass, wood, enamel, metal,  china or pot.  Looking back it is incredible that we managed a whole kitchen by today’s standards as most people have Tupperware, or plastic washing up bowls and formica counter tops not to mention all the groceries we buy and store in the kitchen that come packaged in plastics.
We lived in rented accommodation back then –  a tiny 3 bedroom terraced house in Cheltenham just off the high street behind the Co-op on Grosvenor Terrace.  Ours was the blue house – they were all painted a different colour.  The living room was so small it didn’t even accommodate a 3 piece suite.  The dining table was squashed in here in the corner as there was no dining room nor a dining kitchen.
The kitchen was in fact more like an old scullery down a passage at the back of the house which opened up in to a bit of a dismal yard with no rear access but at least we could hang a washing line out there.  The windows in the kitchen were the original painted metal frames and the floor was made of those red clay tiles.  The whole house was cold at times but even more so in the kitchen – there was no heating at all in any of the rooms and all we could afford then was a two bar electric fire for the living room.  We just shivered in the other rooms and dived into bed quickly!
The bathroom was quite colourful a yellow toilet, pink basin and white bath – no doubt whatever the landlord could find going cheap at the time!
The only items in the kitchen, which was about 8′ x 6′, was an old gas cooker, a white pottery sink in the corner and the previous tenants had left a small wooden dresser on the back wall.  There were no kitchen units or wall cupboards built-in or otherwise.
Being a handy kind of man OH set to and made a kitchen unit to fit next to the gas cooker from some MDF and old packing cases that we found  – as you can imagine trying to cook when you have no horizontal surface to put anything on is near impossible.   The unit didn’t have anything posh like doors it looked more like a bookcase with a work top on it – you would call it open shelving these days and you would be thought of as extremely modern.  In those days you were thought of as a poor student!  The work top was a huge slab of dark grey slate – about 3″ thick and 3′ long with a round hole in one end.  We found it on some waste land and somehow using that old technique of rollers Egyptian style managed to roll it home and then called on friends to help lift it on top of the frame – whether any other resident that came after us ever got it out again would be another story!  It was a brilliant place for putting down hot pans though!
We painted the dresser grey – it scrubbed up quite well.  We also acquired a fridge at this point – our first ever, second or third hand of course.  The door seal on the fridge and the wire shelving coated in plastic was one of the few things that had plastic and unavoidable.
We used enamel buckets and basins and a wire metal dish drainer.  We had a dish mop and dish brush made of real bristle and wood – which you can still buy in some hardware stores.  Our cooking utensils were wooden or metal – no plastic handles allowed.
For food storage we used the old-fashioned glass jars with ground stoppers and glass basins with a saucer on top to keep food and left overs safe and fresh in the fridge.
We had no Tupperware or plastic bowls.  We only bought foods that were free from plastic wrappings, our vegetables were packed in paper bags and the cheese and butter wrapped in greaseproof paper.  Sauces came in jars and most food items were free of any tamper proof shrink wrapped cellophane or plastic display trays.  We used Stardrops for washing up and cleaning as this came in a glass bottle as did the milk.
The waste bin was one of those old style pails with a lid made of enamel. In fact we generated so little waste our old tin dustbin in the yard was rarely full of any rubbish – which is just as well as we had to carry it through the house to the front doorstep on bin day.
With all the discussions recently in the news about China and our plastic waste it is no bad thing that we should review our use of plastics especially the single use of plastics for packaging.  Remembering our kitchen all those years ago and how some of the values we held then have fallen by the wayside a bit over the years I am mindful now in the light of the current plastics awareness that is sweeping the country that I must make an effort to reject plastic once again and challenge myself to having a non- plastic kitchen.
Of course it would be wrong to get rid of anything plastic by throwing it away better we hang on to it now for as long as possible and when we have to renew look for an alternative material, but we can avoid such things as squeezy sauce bottles opting for the glass ones instead or buying vegetables that are loose not prepackaged.  Every small change will eventually make a difference.  I possibly won’t be going back to a 3″ thick slate work top though!!