Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Christmassy Weekend

I was in denial about Christmas coming up, but after this weekend there is no doubt, everywhere you looked there were signs!

First off on Saturday it was our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas Vintage and Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury and I'm afraid to say I was disappointed. I spent a total of £3 on vintage baubles and that was all that tempted me. 

It wasn't very Christmassy, there was nothing to my liking and yet again no upstairs, which meant the tea area was again in a poor position and we were unable to sit, so we left. 
Knowing that they made £900 on entrance fee alone, seems a bit poor, you could have had more tea area upstairs and more stalls. The uniqueness and quality of items has been waning recently so I won't be rushing to the next one, I think I preferred the one at the Corn Exchange, Devizes this year.

Happily our long drive was not wasted as there was the rival vintage fair around the corner, which had more vintage items to my liking and then over the road at the church we happened across the Crib Festival.  I had no idea what this was but thanks to my Mum who ventured inside it was marvellous, lots of local people/groups had made their own versions of a nativity scene, they ranged from the artistic to pre-school groups and they were all wonderful, such a lovely idea. There were several knitted versions, and the large version below is a full life-size knitted display which is touring around to raise money for a hospice charity, you have to see it up close it's amazing, so much work and so much yarn!

There were even real donkeys in the church!

A visit to Chipping Sodbury isn't complete without a visit to Hobbs House Bakery, there's a great gift shop on the corner and now it also boasts a Waitrose (which made parking easier !) and it also had a cafe which we'll definitely use next time and the play park was loved by my girls, after being herded around shopping!

Saturday didn't stop there for me as no sooner had I got home then it was time for me to head out for a night out with a meal and music to see Deacon Blue at the New Theatre, Oxford.
It was definitely worth it, there's something about live music that makes you feel alive and energised.

Sunday brought more Christmas spirit, in the morning was our school fair full of chocolates, tombola and a visit to Father Christmas.
After lunch we walked over to Cogges Farm Museum for their Christmas Fair and enjoyed browsing the stalls, seeing the knitted nativity in the kitchen and the girls were itching to get to the play equipment. It was so busy and it was lovely to see so many people there all enjoying the atmosphere.

Walking home there was the most fabulous sunset to close out the weekend.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sock knitting

I've finally done it!
I can knit on DPN's!!

It's a small thing but I've tried several times to do it and it's always felt like juggling skewers!

But thanks to the excellent course at Fibreworks, Chipping Norton, I can now, not only use them but also knit a sock!!
I love learning to do new things, I feel so accomplished and it opens up more knitting patterns that I like the look of!

So above is the materials and output of the 'Sock Knitting' class at Fibreworks, you get a pattern to work a small sampler sock, a pack of needles and a full ball of yarn.
It was a great class, good time length, nice and relaxed, tea and biscuits provided and in the four hours I very nearly finished my sock, I just had to finish the toe decreases and graft, which I had a go at in the class and then followed the instructions on the sheet at home and it was all fine.
It's so nice being able/allowed to be crafty away from home life, I hope to do more classes next year, I found it very relaxing but inspiring.

So then, about a week later, I thought I better make a start on a proper size one before I forgot the techniques and thus truly embed the process into my brain!  I'm happy to say I didn't have many problems, I think I lost a stitch somewhere as my numbers were out at one point but I'm so happy with it!
I never realised how comfy and warm they could be, I thought they'd be loose and fall down but they actually seem to grip to your leg slightly, so I'm looking forward to getting another ball and completing the pair.
The yarn is by Lang Yarns, Jawoll Color, quite woolly and knits up in a wondrous faux fair isle pattern.

Inspired by my new skill, I popped into the Oxford Yarn Store which I've only just discovered is not far from my work (and is full of fabulous yarn and accessories) and splurged on some DPN's in various sizes and a ball of Rowan tweed Aran to try on some wristlets. 
I'm hoping to use the KnitPro's to do the sleeves of two baby cardigan's I've got on the go for my best friend, to save on the sewing up stage.
I hope as they're so portable and great for when you've only got snatches of knitting time that I can attempt different styles, the heel we worked was a dutch heel flap but I've heard of other types so I'd love to have a bash and even do some cabling!
If you're a seasoned sock knitter, do leave a comment, I'd love to hear what you're making or if you have any ideas for easy patterns, or you can find me on Ravelry under 'HoldMyHand'.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The little moments

Every autumn as the leaves turn I for some reason remember one of the first images I took for the blog and it suddenly struck my how much time has passed since then and how much being a Mummy has changed since then.
I can remember with rose-tinted glasses how we used to do more child specific activities, painting, gluing, cooking and I wonder what has happened. I feel like such a busy mum (with obligatory guilt) that I don't always enjoying parenting, I crave moments of time to myself and it can be challenging trying to parent school-age children and still remember the little one.

So, I made an effort and took an idea from Pinterest for a quick and easy (and clean) activity.
It's just paint in a zip-loc bag, taped down but she seemed to enjoy squiggling in it and mixing the colours!  My craft cupboard was noticeably barer than it used to be too, we need more paint!

The little moments are what make your heart melt, especially between siblings.
The youngest and the middle child usually share a bath and I managed to take this photo to remind me of the giggling that accompanied their whispering game!

I'm so glad that I started this blog, as a journal to look back on and I hope in another five years I can still look back and remember these busy days with happiness.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Summer Holiday Post...

The big treat of this summer holidays was a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour!
We'd been looking forward to this for a while, we've been reading our way through all the series at bedtimes for a long while now and we always said, once we'd finished we'd do the tour!
So tickets were bought, expensive for a group of us but not too bad for a day out.
The drive down for us via the M40 from Oxford was really easy, our timed entry was for 12pm so we could avoid the rush hour and it only took about an hour.

We did leave the toddler at home, the tour states that there are uneven parts and buggy's may be difficult. I think we would have been fine, there were buggys around but I felt that the issue was more that they'd be in the way if there were lots and also being not yet two, she would have been bored and we'd have missed lots while entertaining her! Harsh but true!
So an important point, when you arrive at the car park, you need your tickets to confirm entry, no ticket no entry to park! I know this now but as our party were travelling in two cars, it wasn't us who had the envelope with all the tickets in! Thankfully we were the last to arrive as the rest of our party gave our car details to the security guards to verify us!!

So lots of spaces, easy to park and it's right in front of the studios, we arrived about an hour early so amused ourselves by looking at the large chess pieces (from Philosopher's Stone) they have on show out the front and then also in the lobby, where there are casts of the principal actors hands (Emma Watson's are dainty!), props hanging from the ceiling and you can also freshen up, get something to eat and drink and pick up your digital guide + headphones if required.

They have a queuing barrier system so that you all line up ready to actually get in to the tour and again even the kids found the waiting fine, there are more props to look at and the digital guide gives them things to look at & listen to.

When you're ready to be admitted, you enter a small dark room where you are welcomed and given the relevant tour details while watching lots of worldwide film posters on the walls, this area is all just standing only.

Then you're shown through to a small cinema room,with lovely comfy leather cinema seats, they shut the doors, darken the lights and play a video to welcome you.
I will admit that my claustrophobia started to kick in at this point as I wasn't expecting it and had to stop myself from panicking! I know, I know!  It's getting better but enclosed spaces make me panic!

It's just a short film and then they let you loose to start your look around which starts in the Great Hall (amazing!) and then walks you around the props and sets all the while educating you about film making.

I found it fascinating but you don't have to be a Harry Potter fan either, the work and skill of the industry is eye opening. It's a real celebration of British film making.

I took loads of photos but some parts are quite dark and you weren't supposed to use flash, so they're not great I'm afraid.

My favourite props are the costumes, sadly no touching but I loved seeing them all up close and this pattern drafting for Fleur Delacour's school uniform was fascinating!

I felt like being in the Gryffindor common room! Which when you've seen it on screen and then your in it, was bizarre!

There was attention to detail on everything, large and small items which you can't even see on screen.

Knitting in action at the Weasleys, magical moving needles!

Draco and his mother's costumes, you hardly see any of the detail in the films, especially not on Bellatrix's (below)

My other favourite props were the design items, again the level of care and attention to detail when most of these items are on film for mere seconds is lovely.

I could have spent ages trying to read all the articles on the Daily Prophet!

After the first large hangar, there's an outside courtyard, where the larger props/sets are, such as the Dursleys house and the Hogwarts bridge.

There are also tables and chairs and a few small snack bars, the selection of things to eat was very small, sandwiches, biscuits, ice-cream etc but also drinks and the famed Butterbeer! 
We actually liked it, it  was like cream soda but more syrupy and creamy.
I would have liked a better food selection here, it's like a halfway breather and we were all hungry, I'm not sure you're allowed your own food in but I think I'd try and squeeze in a few sandwiches to my bag when we come again!

The second building contains the creature effects, Diagon Alley and the model making.

The model at the end was fantastic, you can walk all around it and the lighting changes to simulate a full day.

This is the last room but then you can access the gift shop where you can peruse to your hearts content!
There are gifts for all budgets from postcards to broomsticks, I was slightly astonished by the price of the chocolate frogs - £7 they were solid chocolate but I'd rather have had a hollow one if it meant it was cheaper!
The girls were allowed a wand each as part of their birthday presents this year, they chose Hermione's & Ginnys and I went mad and bought a Luna Lovegood one. They were £25 each but I think they're well made, not wood, I think they're resin but a lovely prop reproduction, every HP fan needs a wand, don't they?!

Conclusion? Ten out of Ten, recommended and we're dying to go again...Halloween?...Christmas?!