Friday, 21 July 2017

Living a (very) quiet life ... *updated with pictures 01 August*

Well what a boring old so and so I have been over the last week.  I can't believe how little I have done and how quickly the time has flown by just lazing around doing very little!

Sunday morning dawned  warm and sunny and I spent the morning by the pool, but there were weather warnings about a huge storm heading our way.  By late afternoon the clouds were rolling in and I popped to the supermarket for some essentials and prepared to stay put.

It was still raining the next morning, but thankfully the worst of the storm had bypassed my little island.  The Monday was still chilly, wet and windy but I ventured out up to Taxiarchis before heading down to the old port to meet up with friends and the happy couple.  We had a great evening and I headed home just after midnight.
I spent the next day in bed ill - I'm blaming the grill place we went to for dinner, a few people had complained of upset stomach, sickness etc - the weather wasn't all that great so I didn't miss much.

I took it easy for a couple of days and when I finally felt better I headed to my favourite restaurant on the seafront - Scuna for a beautiful Greek salad and moussaka.

Friday was the first time I managed to motivate myself enough to get up and go to the beach.  I spent a lovely few hours on Agia Eleni before the hoardes arrived and had a late lunch at the Golden Bay hotel before catching the bus back and lazing by the pool until the sun went down.

I think my brain has finally switched off after the last few months and I've literally come to a halt.

My goddaughter and her grandparents arrive from Athens on Monday for a few days so hopefully we will explore the island and they will love it as much as I do and the it's the wedding on Thursday before I fly home on Friday! So a much busier second week :)
I need to have a walk around the old town and take some pictures - maybe tomorrow ;)

H xxx

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Getting my Shirley on... *updated 01 August with pictures!*

Firstly, I have to apologise for no pictures on the posts - for some reason Blogger won't allow me to access my photos on the iPad or iPhone so I'm afraid my posts are going to be even more boring than usual until I can get home and upload photos from a PCs
An it looks as though I'll have to source a better (Apple friendly) blog platform.

Anyway... I'm getting my Shirley on again!
My holiday this year coincides with my friends wedding so I'm here a bit later than I would normally choose - but it's always the best feeling stepping off that plane ✈️
Due to lack of organisation I didn't get to bed until late on Thursday night and then had the worst nights sleep ever.  When the alarm went off at 0445 I felt like I'd hardly closed my eyes! 
Never mind, Dad dropped me off at the airport and after a speedy check in I headed for some breakfast, a good nutritious start to the day was needed so I headed to the nearest eatery and ended up with a warm croissant and a lovely chilled glass of prosecco!
Delicious 😋

After a mooch around the shops the flight was called and we boarded immediately, such is the problem of a small airport at Skíathos we ended up siting on the runway for almost an hour waiting for a landing spot but hey ho we finally were on our way.

Best part of a book later we were coming in to land and a familiar sense of calm settled around me - I love this place so much.

For the first time we "parked" at the far side of the airport apron and actually got on a bus to the terminal - I know!! Those of you familiar with the airport will find this hard to believe but I promise you I wasn't dreaming lol

Luggage, smiley doors, transfer coach and within an hour and 15 minutes of landing I was being welcomed by Asimina and unpacking.  I decided to head straight up to see Taxiarchis and Eleni and just relax at the pool bar.

The walk up Papadiamantis Street saw no significant changes from last year and the welcome at the pool bar was warmer than ever.  I whiled away the afternoon chatting to Eleni before Taxiarchis and Mike arrived and after a good catch up I headed home.
I couldn't be bothered to get dressed and go out so threw a pair of shorts on and popped next door to the tennis club for a salad before having an early night.

A decent sleep and no alarm made me very slow and meh this morning so I finished unpacking and had a lazy day by the pool at the tennis club.
Comfy beds, good music and an awesome frappé and before I knew it, I'd finished my book and was almost halfway through another!!

I decided on a laid back night (are there any other types here?! Lol) and ate a delicious stifado at Nikos before strolling home :)

Beach tomorrow - I have gorgeous homegrown tomatoes and cucumber from Asimina for my picnic :) now to engage the brain and decide which beach to go to ....
Kalinichta x

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Getting back on track...

Well hello there,  I am so very sorry I've been AWOL.

The last few months have been a lot more difficult than I ever anticipated.
Thankfully I've not had too much grief to deal with in my lifetime, but when it does come along I'm never quite sure how to go about things.

My dearest Aunt lost her battle with cancer on the 22nd April and took us all by surprise.
Merely a couple of weeks after her consultation where the words "there's nothing more we can do" were finally said, she slipped away quietly at home.
I dreaded those words.
They get ingrained in your mind, make your heart skip a beat and then you realise that life is never going to be the same again.

I'm thankful it was quick for her, but selfishly it's so difficult to deal with for those of us left behind, but it's been a long 4 years for her and I'm relieved it's finally all over.

On the outside it's business as usual:  get up, go to work, come home, start again.  No matter how bad things get, you have to smile and be pleasant and just keep going.
On the inside, however, it's a totally different story - I have depression, so this was never going to be easy.  But what has surprised me the most is that my creative self has wandered off and left me, I've got orders backing up and just no motivation to get on and do them.
I tried knitting instead of crochet and managed a little dress for my friends' grandaughter but even then, I found it hard going.  I've not wanted to post here either, I need to finish Samoa and other bits and bobs but just couldn't find the words.

My dining room is now full of my Aunt's crafty stash - fabric, threads, patterns, books, embroidery materials, gadgets and enough beads to open my own shop - yet still, motivation and inspiration have left me empty of ideas.
I know it will come back and I'll love the crafts I shared with her again but at the moment everything I'm doing is a chore.  It's like I'm going through the motions and when the next day comes I do it again.

I was so lucky to have 2 work trips very close together which got me away from day to day life and offered interesting distractions and I'll be forever grateful to the Cyprus group for their support; they kept me going that first week and were such a lovely, genuine bunch.  I don't think I've ever laughed so much in a lift in my whole life!  
My Aunt was really looking forward to me going and just two days before she passed away we were talking about the trip and how great it would be to see places I'd not visited in over 15 years.  I'm so sad I didn't get to share it with her.

What I did share was 40 years - my whole life is filled with precious memories which I will treasure forever.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Apologies ...

Oh dear, what a couple of weeks it's been since my last post.

A heartbreaking bereavement swiftly followed by a work trip to Cyprus; I've not had the time or mindset to write.

I do, however have plenty to collaborate and share once I get my head in order - as Miranda says "bear with"


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

First day in paradise: Samoa 2016

We landed just before sunrise at Faleolo airport and were welcomed by the resident band playing local music and singing and as soon as the luggage arrived we joined the queue for the bureau de change.  The Samoan tala isn't a closed currency but it is very difficult to obtain especially in the UK so most visitors take Australian dollars and get it changed at the airport.  As expected, the queue was rather long and by the time we emerged, dawn had broken ...

We were given gorgeous fresh flower leis from our drivers Joe and Chris and once the vans were packed up we set off across the island to our first accommodation; Coconuts Beach Club

One of the first tourist hotels on the islands, Coconuts has a bit of a history including almost complete destruction when a tsunami hit the islands in September 2009.
Our drive took us from the airport on the west of the island, right across the middle to the south coast, and less than an hour later we were checking in and sipping coconut cocktails (yes, at that time of the morning!)
Hannah and I were sharing a 2 bedroom beach fale which, as the name suggests, was beach front with the South Pacific just a few steps away.  Despite the rain (which featured very heavily during our trip unfortunately) I took myself off for a quick paddle with my coconut, as you do...

We has time to freshen up before having breakfast and then having a full tour of the property; the original accommodation known as the tree house (a small block of rooms was built back in 1992, the beach fales which were completed in 1994 and finally the over-water fales which were the first ones in Samoa back in 1997 with more added in 1999.
The tsunami pretty much wiped out the whole property but by February 2010 they were ready to accept guests again and were fully operational in no time...

We then met up with Chris and Joe and they took us the short journey inland to the Lupe Sina Treesort...

I've never seen anything like it before!  Designed and built by owner Jack (an American who has lived on Samoa over 30 years) it is certainly unique!  The main accommodation is the Samson suite, built within the branches of an ancient Banyan tree (over 300 tears old they think) climbing the narrow stairs up 12 metres into a tree was like being transported to a mythical land and the view was just stunning - I can only imagine what it must be like on a clear sunny day looking out over the rainforest to the ocean beyond.  Some members of the group criticised it for being very old fashioned but I think bright modern fixtures would look totally out of place in the heart of a tree.  I certainly wouldn't call it luxurious but it's definitely a once in a lifetime experience...

Unfortunately we couldn't view the other tree house (Star Gazer) as there were guests staying but the view from their deck area was just so beautiful...

The Star Gazer is around 10 metres up in an Ava tree and the bedroom has a glass ceiling so that you can watch the stars from your bed - and with very little light pollution I can only imagine it to be spectacular.
We were invited to the main house for refreshments and were treated to fresh coconuts and home made chocolate cake, I love this place already!

We were scheduled to do a gorge walk in the afternoon but after extremely heavy rains it turned into a river walk - some of us carried on and had a great time and the rest of us (me included) headed back to Coconuts and relaxed for a while.

Dinner was in the lovely Mika's Restaurant, listening to the tales of the river walk and then the Fia Fia began...

Fiafia is a celebration of everything Samoan:  filled with colour, music, song dancing and of course fire!

I was invited to take part in the 'ava ceremony and stood up, raised the coconut shell cup and said my first Samoan words "la manuia" which has a multitude of meanings: happy, well, good.  I then (having watched a couple of people before me) took a drink and then threw the rest of the contents over my shoulder - symbolising the throwing away of misfortune!

After such a long and busy day (London felt like forever ago!) it was time to head to bed.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

An epic journey - Samoa 2016

I hope you don't mind travelling back in time with me for a few posts, I didn't get a chance to blog while I was away in Samoa last year as our days were very busy so I thought I'd do a year on (like I did with the USA) mind you, its crept up on me quicker than I thought 😮

Back in November 2015 I attended a training evening based around the islands of the South Pacific.  I was sitting next to Alison from the Samoa Tourism Authority whom I'd met before at another event, she knew about my love of rugby and that I wanted to visit the South Pacific, anyway, as normal with these things there's a little prize draw after dinner, and there's usually a good selection of goodie bags, wine, accommodation and fam trip places up for grabs.  Alison's prize was accommodation in Samoa and guess who won?! Yey!!
Alison later explained I could swap my accommodation for a place on the Tourism Exchange which was taking place the following April. I said I'd love to and that was that.

So on April 6th 2016 I caught the train from Newcastle to London for the first 247 miles of my "epic journey"; as Samoa is on the dateline, I suppose it's the furthest place from home without leaving the planet!  The sun was shining in London when I arrived at Kings Cross...

I made my way over to Heathrow and enjoyed a night in the Travelodge before getting up bright and early the next morning to head over to the airport to meet Alison and the group and set off on leg 2.
Blimey, these places work like clockwork 24 hours a day I really don't know why I was worrying so much.  A couple of minutes on the hoppa bus to terminal 5 and then I was on the Heathrow Express to terminal 2 eating my "grab 'n' go" breakfast of tea and a croissant.  Just a few minutes later and I was at the check in desks :)

Now, meeting up with friends and family isn't too stressful as you know what they look like, however, meeting a group of people you've never clapped eyes on is a bit of a nightmare!  Alison arrived and we checked in together as everyone else had already gone through.  A quick meet and greet with Elizabeth, Hannah and Nicole at the gate and before we knew it we were called for boarding...

I've not flown Singapore Airlines before and know they are one of the best so was looking forward to this...

the view from seat 53A of a dull and rainy London...

I was quite impressed by the room in economy (even though business class was almost empty we weren't important enough for an upgrade lol)  and we were given a little amenities kit - not had one in economy before, and I got acquainted with the entertainment system before the drinks trolley came around.  I had the whole row to myself so I popped my feet up and read my book before stretching out and having a snooze...

The food trolley woke me up and I enjoyed my shiitake mushrooms and vegetables in ginger sauce with fried rice.  Film time "The Lady in the Van" followed by a bit of crochet, another film "Star Wars" and some more sleep and before I knew it, we were somewhere over the Andaman Sea and the breakfast trolley was doing the rounds and the eggs Benedict were delicious...

Time to watch one more film (Suffragette) from my planner before landing.  
That was the longest leg of 6747 miles done.  We didn't have too long to wait in Singapore airport but had a wander around the shops and got to know each other a bit more.  

The Sydney flight was around 8 hours (covering 3915 miles) and as it co-incided with UK night time I wanted to try and catch up on a bit of sleep to help me adjust to the 12 hour time difference.  I checked my watch and realised I'd been on the go for 24 hours just as the captain announced we were flying over Ayres Rock - typical I was on the wrong side of the aircraft!  On the way into Sydney the sun was shining high above the clouds...

We met up with the other members of the group who had come from various other destinations across Europe so it was nice to finally have us all together :)
It was dark when we left Sydney for the final leg of our epic journey.  Only 2697 mile to go and we would be in Samoa!!! 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Photo Challenge Week 14: Pond

After missing the photo challenge last week, I made sure I was prepared early for this weeks post!

On my way home from seeing the lovely ladies at my local wool shop / crochet group  on my day off I made a little detour to the village pond.

Now, I admit it's been years since I was last down here but apart from being a lot tidier, nothing much has changed ...

Despite the dull weather the ducks were in fine form and making plenty of racket as they swam towards each other and then I spotted a beautiful swan heading towards me

My friend had told me earlier that a swan had nested right alongside the fence so I assumed this speedy bird was the owner of that nest, by the time she reached me she was hissing a bit too much for my liking so I legged it!

I'll come down again soon when the babies have arrived and try to get some pictures of the fluffies!

It's funny, being down there on a dull spring day reminded me of coming down here with the Brownies some 30 odd years ago and looking for frog spawn - blimey I hadn't realised it was that long ago and now I feel old!!

Monday, 3 April 2017

Goodbye March!

The last couple of weeks have been so busy all of the days have flowed into one at a frightening speed and I missed the end of March!!

And that means I don't get to look at one of my favourite pictures anymore ...

obviously I didn't take it but it was my idea and I'm so glad I got to do it.
You can find out more here about where it was taken etc in my previous blog post about my trip to America.

I didn't manage the photo challenge last week as my inspiration deserted me when it came to the subject "van" - I think I'm pretty much sorted for this week though so that's good.

I've been gifting a few makes which is always a good feeling :)  my new bunny pattern is lovely and everyone seems to like them too...

I've got one on the hook and another 2 orders, as well as an order for an old style.  And I'm SO excited to be able to finally share my penguin with you!  I fell in love with this pattern as soon as I saw it as it's the perfect penguin...

Isn't he gorgeous!? Even if I say so myself :)  Both him and the bunnies are from a lovely designer, called Amy over at Little Muggles - her designs are so sweet and the patterns are very easy to follow. I have a feeling I'll be hooking up more of her creatures in the future.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Photo Challenge Week 12: Historical

Oh my goodness - I could fill an entire library with historical pictures, I'm such a history geek!!
It's taken me all week but I finally decided on this one ...

This is the "Cooperage", one of the oldest buildings in Newcastle and has a great history..

I've always known it as a pub, which my Dad used to drink in occasionally (sadly, I've never actually been inside). 

The first storey of the Cooperage was built back in 1430 - the ceiling timbers supposedly came from a Dutch merchant's ship that had sunk in the river Tyne which runs opposite the building.  
Due to the close proximity of the old town wall at the foot of Castle Hill, there was no room to extend out so they went up and a new storey was added every century or so.

In 1531 the building was granted to the merchant Thomas Horsley and was then occupied by generations of prominent merchant families until around 1742.  Records show that silk dyer Mr J Robinson bought the building in 1841 but by 1853 it was listed as a grocery store.

In 1863 an established cooper (barrel maker) moved into the building.  Barrel making was big business as they were used were used to transport all kinds of goods from the river: beer, wine, butter and fish.  John Arthur Cooper bought the building in 1876 and carried on the barrel making business.  6 generations and almost a century later, the family moved the business to Ponteland and in 1974 it became a pub.

Long since closed, archaeological digs have taken place inside and pottery from the 14th and 15th century has been found along with Roman pieces.

As with most old buildings, it's said to be haunted.  One particular tale is that the ghost of a sailor who was nailed to a side door for attacking maid on the Long Stairs and he is still said to pound the door to this day 👻

The steps running up the side near the bottom right-hand are known as the "long stairs" which managed to survive the Great Fire of Newcastle in 1854 and they lead up to the castle keep.
The building next door (on the right) is the Michelin star restaurant House of Tides which is a fantastic place.

I love history, especially in my beautiful city so I hope I haven't bored you!! X

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Photo Challenge Week 11: Spiral

So here we go on my first endeavour into blog photo challenges - eek!

I picked this one up from reading Nana Cathy's blog and have watched (or read) from the side lines for the last couple of weeks seeing what others have submitted just so I get the right idea.

The hint which came out last week was "spiral" and I immediately knew which picture I would submit...

I love this picture :)  taken on a day out with my Mum, we walked the stairs rather than took the lift in the Baltic Mill on the Gateshead Quayside.  I looked down over the handrail to see how high up we were and loved the reflection from the floor below (you can just see me in the bottom right corner of the reflection as I took the picture) it actually looks a lot higher than it is because of this reflection and I liked that too.

The Baltic Mill is now a centre for contemporary art which, in all honesty I just don't "get" but I still like to have a nosey around and go up to the viewing platform and look out along the river of my home town/city...

The shiny building to the left is the Sage Gateshead which is a top class music venue, the world famous Tyne Bridge sits proudly in the middle and in the bottom right corner the Millennium Bridge.
Baltic Square at the bottom left hosts all sorts of different events from comedy festivals to the city athletics meeting.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Photo Challege

I've always taken photos and love nothing better than wandering around capturing views and random things - I could never take portraits, I don't have the patience haha!
Last year I entered my very first photo competition; Newcastle Libraries were looking to re-vamp one of their regular titles and wanted pictures of listed buildings within the city for Newcastle & Gateshead: Architecture and Heritage

As soon as I read the article I knew I wanted to submit my picture of St Nicholas' Cathedral that I'd taken a while back.  My friend Julie, her children and I were having a guided walk of the city centre on a lovely Sunday morning and as we stood with our guide talking about Queen Victoria and the position of her statue on St Nicolas Square, I just happened to look behind me and saw the reflection of the beautiful Cathedral spire in the windows of the Cathedral Square office building and immediately snapped this ...

I sent in my entry to the competition and it wasn't long before I was told I was a finalist!
The general public had to vote on which picture they wanted for the book (at this stage I didn't know it was going to be on the cover) I asked everyone to vote for me as you do and I won!
My prize was a gift voucher and a copy of the book.

And here is my picture on the front cover!

AND my name is on there too!  Fame at last hurrah!

I really wish I had the time and money to concentrate on my photography a bit more - I need to get out of auto mode and learn the workings of my camera but courses are so expensive.  I also want to learn "proper" editing too.  I post on Instagram all the time and have editing apps on my phone and tablet but I have no idea on layers and picture stitching etc

Since joining Bloglovin' I've began following a lot of crafty blogs and have stumbled upon reading challenges and photo challenges along the way.  So now it's time to bite the bullet - I'm entering my first photo challenge next week :)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

THE sock post - finished!!

I've wanted to make socks for ages and I will learn to knit them this year with the help from my friends at Ready Steady Knit but when I saw this gorgeous sock yarn from Opal I just had to have it and have a go at crocheting a pair.

There are so many lovely colours to choose from but the bright turquoise really stood out and it was this one I went home with.

The "Snuggly Socks" pattern from Simply Crochet issue 24 was very easy to follow and worked up quite quickly.  It's not a difficult pattern, just double crochet and you can measure as you go against your own foot which is helpful!

The heel was a lot easier than I anticipated, with decreases and then increases before continuing around the foot again.

Leaving just a small seam either side of the heels to stitch up, as you can see Mr Weasley wasn't very interested or excited by the new socks!

I got to the top and as there was a decent amount of wool left, I added a little picot edge just to finish them off...


I'm wearing them in my wellies this weekend so let's hope they keep my tootsies warm!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Spring, craft-tea time and socks!

I love March: spring finally arrives, days are noticeably longer and everything is just a little bit brighter, hurrah!

We passed some beautiful blossom on our way for tea and cake on Sunday, nature is certainly stirring and colour is seeping slowly back into our rather bland winter world...

Almost every Sunday after lunch my Mam and I head up to our local (and favourite) tea shop The Perfect Blend for a cuppa and cake.  There's nothing better than a nice stroll knowing there's a warm welcome and delicious treats awaiting you.

I always take whatever crafty projects I'm working on with me (when they saw my Christmas pudding chocolate orange covers immediately ordered as many as I could do as an added Christmas treat in the shop.  I'm delighted to say I managed 33 and they all sold!) and we chatter while I "work"

I'm delighted that they are launching a craft-tea evening this month (Tuesday 14th) from 6:30pm - 8:30pm and I'm hoping some of my crafty friends will come along :)

So, full of tea and cake, we headed home to watch the rugby and I sewed up the heel seams on my socks!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Goodbye February!

And there you have it - February done and gone.

The last day of looking at another of my favourite pictures...

One of the most photographed spots in the whole of Northumberland, this is Sycamore Gap.

Made famous by the blockbuster film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves back in 1991, it's been a place I've longed to visit since my teens.  When I finally got around to it a couple of summers ago, it was certainly well worth the wait!  Early on in the walk from Housesteads is the only place you are permitted to walk actually on the wall (which feels wrong, but you have to do it) and then you follow the path with the most beautiful scenery all around you before dropping down into this little valley with it's world-famous tree.

Depending on where you begin, it's not an easy walk, it can be rough under foot as you're just walking along the trodden grass and steep in a few places:  it really makes you think about the poor workers and how they got all of the supplies etc in place and built the structure itself.

I'd absolutely love to take night pictures up there as there's hardly any light pollution and you can capture the most amazing starscapes like these from Paul Flannigan.  I follow Paul on Facebook and can only dream about taking such stunning pictures as he does.

There are a few different websites with links for Hadrian's Wall and Sycamore Gap in particular, but here's a good one.

And a couple of extra pictures...

Thursday, 23 February 2017

February is flying by

Even though it's only 2 days "short" of an average month, February always seems to disappear in a flash.

Earlier in the month I went to a crime writers event at Gateshead Central Library.  I've been a keen crime reader since my teens (fact and fiction) and although it can be a bit gory and scary at times I still keep coming back for more.  The evening was based around 2 authors and their professional partners:  Margaret Murphy (or A.D. Garrett as she is also known) writes psychological novels and her forensic expert Helen Pepper and Mari Hannah alongside her partner Mo Dowdy who is a retired Detective Inspector.  Is was really interesting to hear how they worked together to build the characters and plots, with the "experts" adding to the mix to make it more realistic.  I learned a long time ago that crime work is a long, slow and laborious task and certainly not like it is on TV, the big screen or on the pages of a book but I still have a hankering for all that searching and analysis.  Maybe in another life - there's no way I'm brainy enough or rich enough to start again lol
As a result, I bought Mari's first novel and have spent this week flying through it, stopping occasionally for a bit of crafting! Loved it, need to get the next one :)

I spent my weekend off with friends, enjoying a fab Thai green curry and overdue catch up time (not to mention, some delightful gin as well) Sunday morning came and it was glorious, it was almost as if Spring had arrived: beautiful blue skies and even the wind was warm (ish!). We walked from Whitburn round past Roker lighthouse to the newly developed area at Marine Walk where we stopped for a drink and a seat in the sunshine.  I loved this piece of sculpture - just framing the end of Roker pier in a rather James Bond-esque fashion...

We made our way back through Roker park so the boys could hunt down Pokemon and savoured the last of the blue sky before heading home for a well earned brew...

The damned hat has finally been finished and I still have no love for it, maybe if I hide it in the back of the cupboard until next winter I might feel differently.  Or maybe I'll just make another one in a crochet-friendly wool and be done with it.

Sock number 2 is pretty much finished now I've closed the book and I got the heel and best part of the ankle finished in crochet class this week.  It was the lovely Janet's 70th birthday at the weekend and she brought some beautiful raspberry and rose cakes for us to enjoy...

Once I get this sock finished it's back to my list of makes and next on the agenda: a penguin to go down to Bristol with me next month and then 2 rabbits :)

A crafters life is never quiet!