Saturday 23 November 2013

Three Calamity Janes!

Every year for the past 10 years or so we have an annual family get together with my extended family. 
We go to this amazing place called Tarn in The Lakes
Over the years the idea of a theme has grown and 
the last 6 years or so have settled into a wonderfully comfortable tradition which goes like this:

Friday night - arrive, get giddy, catch up

Saturday - a little shopping trip to beautiful Kirkby Lonsdale, decorate the barn with said theme, campfire (weather permitting), games for the littles, massive dress up party with games galore

Sunday - cooked brunch, big clear up, decide the theme for next year, bemoan the fact it hasn't been long enough.
This year the theme was Calamity Jane.
Bit weird I know - but when we adults were young the annual holiday was a 2 week trip to stay with the cousins in Scotland or vice versa. One of the holidays involved watching said film about a hundred times (on video, taped off the telly!) to the point where we all knew it word for word. It's long been a family favourite ever since, and one which all respective partners have bought into.
For a little while Cleggy and I were the only ones with children - now they are outnumbering the adults at an alarming rate.
One of the best things about Tarn is that the large living area is brilliant for all ages playing together. The mixture of dorms and bedrooms mean that we have been able to alter the sleeping arrangements as the family dynamics have evolved. It sleeps 24 and we just about fill it!
Cleggy has an 'entertainment budget' (which he ignores!) and always does us proud with the decor and games - and G Kisby (my brother in law) has a food budget and cooks brilliant food all weekend.
Nelly has taken the mantle of entertainment for the Littles, and due to unforeseen circumstances ended up managing the purchasing of food as well this year! 
The weather this year was brisk - but we found opportunity for the fire...boys favourite!
Cleggy also LOVES a fire!
 Literally 10 mins later the weather turned and we watched a great lightening storm from the windows!
The littles loved a game of pass the parcel
playing with bubbles
and a good old fashioned 'pin the tail on the donkey'
 Then, when they were all tucked up in bed, we all became cowboys, Indians, and various versions of Calamity Jane!!!
how pretty is our littlest boy?
 Unbeknown to each other Cleggy and G Kisby both bought the very same costume from Ebay!!!
It came with a motor - you blow it up around yourself. 
even if it did turn the evening into Brokeback Mountain!!
My poor mother was away on her long walk when the costumes were being, we assured her we would sort her out and decided she HAD to be Calamity Jane! The bit down by the creek with Katie Brown where she becomes a lady!!
Poor Granny. Luckily she took in her stride. Bloomers and all.
Kenzie came as a horse!
 We were in two teams for the games - and I can't stress enough how seriously this is taken. Seriously. Team talks and everything
 The games included
  'pin the moustache on the Granny'
(feel the need to point out that these faces have been cruelly doctored!!)
A brilliant tin can alley
a singing and chime bar rendition of our favourite 
songs from the film
 A game involving wafting the hat with balloons 
(which got more than usually competitive)
And most bizarrely a game where each team had to lassoo their respective  Granny, who was dressed as a cow!!
Sadly too few usable photos as I had drank too much wine and this game made me wee with laughter.
 We also got it together for some family photos

The following morning came all too soon 
with a stunning post storm sky
 and treats like Nutella on toast
 building a den of cushions and finding a sneaky spot to play minecraft (he's addicted)
 And enjoying the cow masks a little too much!
Thank you Alison and Philip at Tarn - I hope you enjoyed seeing what we got up to this year! 
Next year we've decided to stick with the film theme 
and are 'doing Grease'. 
The Granny has agreed to be Olivia Newton John at the end of the black lycra. I'm not sure she realises what she's agreed to !!!!
fee x

Saturday 9 November 2013

My Biggest, Fattest Round Up EVER

It just feels wrong not to log the events I missed over the last 6 months! Purely for the fact that my blog is my diary, 
you understand.

In no particular order, here's what also went on:
Our summers are usually centred around the table...this time it was centred around a mud kitchen! Cleggy built it out of an old bench as part of a project for a book, and added to it as the summer went on. 
rubbish photos, but you get the idea
 Our most frequent visitor little Mabel just loved playing in it, along with cousins Sonny, Luca, Daisy and Poppy. 
Literally hours of fun!

 We managed quite a few afternoons in the garden - even a sing song. I'm sure our neighbours love us!
 At the end of term we always have a treat to celebrate mark the end of the school year. This year it was a trip to Slatterys, a chocolatier (with restaurant) in North Manchester.
 Their wedding cakes are amazing (and I'm always flabbergasted at how much people pay for their cake!) but the main reason for our visit was that it was Alfie's turn to take the famous 'chocolate challenge'. It involves a HUGE slab of cake, 
a mountain of ice cream, and chocolate cups filled with cream and two flavours of warm liquid chocolate. All washed down with a jug of hot chocolate. If you eat it by yourself you get a medal and photo on the wall - the waiter said only 1 in 100 manages it!

  The other boys got hot chocolates...then waited like vultures to tuck in when Alfie (inevitably) failed!
Another summer tradition is to visit the home of Cuckoo. Even though her three boys are significantly younger than my three they seem to relish each other's company. Here's The Teen, always willing to help in the kitchen ('of course I'll peel a million potatoes for you'...not that I'm bitter) and wonderful home made brownies (WITH glitter) for Kenzie's 12th Birthday

Of course there were plenty of laughs. This was a scarf I had made which wasn't quite right. Once we had agreed it wasn't quite right we morphed it into a swimsuit, which I then modelled over my pj's. I'm eternally grateful that it was first thing in the morning for if some alcohol had passed my lips I fear this photo would be MUCH worse! (I appreciate it's still not great)
 Cuckoo also introduced us to a game called 'peg of shame' whereby for the whole weekend you had to try and peg someone else in the group without their knowledge. I ALMOST sent Toby to Taekwondo with a peg on his whites...alas not quite (that would have made my year!) I did both peg and photograph him here though...

all in the bath and STILL perfectly sober
I LOVE visiting you Cuckoo - it's always full of fun with your gorgeous family. Look forward to next year. 
Another summer tradition (we're full of them!) is chips and crochet in the park with Jane and her family. Basically the adults sit on blankets and catch up, the boys play in the park, we bring ready buttered baps (SO Northern!) 
and the older boys collect the chips to go in them.
This year we added cider, a welcome addition. 
That already seems so long ago my lovely friend - good job we've got the 'first snowball of Christmas' tradition to look forward to very soon!!
There has been a bit of tinkering in the house. 
The kitchen got some new bunting and a stool cover
The smaller boys room got a complete makeover. We covered a load of cheap canvases with favourite old T-shirts - Geordie was able to help with the making and they worked really well.
Sock creatures!
Our bedroom also got some new bunting
and I made some blocks using Cleggy's favourite 
Instagram photos of the summer
 Why so much bunting? well I sorted out my wool stash and realised I had more than your average wool shop - so promised myself I wouldn't buy any more until I'd used up a good deal of what I have. 
I'm getting there!
  Speaking of makes - there were plenty, some orders, some for us

  My favoutite make so far this year was a blanket for baby Orla (see last post) which was a huge challenge from a crochet skills point of view. Her Mum gave me a sample of the wallpaper for the planned nursery and 'suggested' a pattern she had seen on Pinterest
 Never one to turn down a challenge (!) I set to and am pleased to report it turned out nicely!
 It's a really clever pattern - because the owls are part of the square the reverse is equally as effective
(pattern here on Etsy)
 I made matching bunting too - 
not quite as bright as it looks in this photo!
Another favourite was some blocks I made but using 
somebody else's images.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Annie (knitosfacto) over the summer. We have long known that we live a mere hour or so from each other but finally took the plunge and made a bloggy blind date! 
It was such a lovely afternoon - both of us can blether (blather?) and could happily have sat there a couple of days, never mind a couple of hours! We drank gallons of coffee - and plan to do so again before too long.
Annie's writing is wonderful - but so are her images. I made her a set of blocks using my favourites from her blog - and of course they worked a treat!!
 Our 20th Wedding anniversary gift to each other was by a very clever maker called Jane Ryan who creates wooden 'toys' with moving parts. She is based in Cornwall and lots of her creations involve beautiful wooden boats and fish. 

For us I chose a bed of roses - with beating hearts.
 While she was making our piece she posted photos on FB as progress went on. It was fascinating to see the process (and peek into her workshop!) THANK YOU Jane - we both love our bed and you have represented us perfectly. I especially love the slightly quizzical look on Cleggys face - it looks like his 'what the heck are you talking about?!' face!
Visit Jane's wonderful Etsy shop HERE
  I also did a timely swap with Victoria (Tangled Sweetpea) for these beautiful spoons.
  In the olden days when we could eat what we want Cleggy and I used to get a sharp knife and half a pot of Hagen Dass down the middle (class!). 
We called it '2 spoons'!
I love them.
Visit Victoria's Etsy shop HERE
I also received some makes - this surprise one from someone who works with Cleggy - a simple idea executed beautifully.
Thank you Becky - it looks lovely in our dining room! I really appreciated your kindness.
 And these beads from Alison 
(who also has a great teaching blog here
as part of another creative swap! 
Thank you Alison - they are so this seasons colours!
The Granny (my Mum) has also had an eventful summer. Along with her good friend Sue they decided to ramp up their regular jaunts and take on a proper pilgrimage. After lots of practising (which appeared to involve walking to a country pub, having a Guinness then walking back) they popped over to Northern Spain and completed over 100 miles of 'El Camino de Santiago' or 'The Way of St James'.
They raised lots of money for their church - 
and blogged about it too (here)
Keep up the blogging too!
We seem to have gained a cat.

No one seems to know who she belongs to but The Granny (and neighbours) have started feeding her so I guess she'll stay. She doesn't come inside yet but is getting bolder by the day!
Here she is on the windowsill outside, 
obsessed with the pompom flowers!
 I have fallen in love with these beauties from the little red door. I've had them on my radar for AGES just waiting for an excuse to buy one. Then I saw them again on Jooles post here and purchased one for Great Granny - who had it by her bedside in the hospice.
 I enjoyed the receiving of the parcel so much I went back for more!! Unfortunately I can't be keeping them all but I have plans for them....
And I THINK that's it.
We have had a BIG family weekend away recently along the theme of Calamity Jane...that deserves a post of it's own, 
until then,
fee x