Sunday, 29 April 2012

Last Weekend

 Is it Petra? (no, not the Blue Peter dog, the rose-red city..)
Actually it's Bothwell Castle in the sunshine, which as near as we'll get to Petra just now - pretty rose-red though!  I was very impressed with the colour in this corridor.  These are pictures from last Sunday when we went out on a making-use-of-our-Historic-Scotland membership expedition - hence Bothwell Castle, which is pretty local for us.

The graffiti is quite thought-provoking - at what point does graffiti stop being an eyesore and start being historical? While My Beloved and Miss Mouse were busy climbing to the Highest Room of the Tallest Tower and finding no Fiona, no Shrek and indeed no gender-confused wolf, the Boy and I had fun looking for the earliest graffiti we could.  'JA Howarth 1880' (?) isn't the earliest, just the clearest picture I got.  The Viking runic graffiti in Maes Howe is definitely historical, and I'm inclined to count the older graffiti in Bothwell Castle as such too, and for the silliest of reasons - serifs! JA Howarth isn't the best example of this unfortunately, but the Victorian visitors put a bit of effort into carving their names for posterity, actually carving their names quite deeply and neatly with serifs on their letters - more modern names are just scratched in, looking if anything more runic. So there you go, I think those Victorians deserve a little recognition for their effort!

This is the view from where we sat on some steps and ate our sandwiches, trying to imagine what the castle used to look like. And trying not to see the scaffolding. Every time we've been to Bothwell Castle there has been scaffolding, and I'm never very sure if work is being done on the castle or if the scaffolding is just holding it all up (that's in my more paranoid moments), though there is access further up the tower now than there was last time we visited so maybe it's the former.

The man in the ticket-office/shop let us into one of the rooms under the great hall to look at their education stuff - re-enactment-type weapons and armour, as well as some nice models of siege engines. The Boy was quite taken with the shiny stuff.  Bit like his father then.

Then we went for a walk round the outside - Bothwell Castle sits above the River Clyde and the ground drops moderately steeply on the river side of the castle, but it's a nice little walk around, especially on such a nice day.  The Peacock butterfly posed nicely for us - I almost got a closer picture but it flew away suddenly and I was left with a picture of a rock.

Growing in the cracks of the castle walls were this plant, which I've tried to identify without much luck.  I've been right through my wild-flower book and though I can find similar flowers, they have different leaves. But whatever it is, it was growing abundantly in cracks and looked beautiful in the sunshine.

I took loads of pictures with the sky in them because the contrast with the red stone was lovely and also because, well, it's Blue Sky!  I make a point of taking pictures of all the nice days.

This weekend has been rather quieter - but I got a bit of my knitting mojo back. I picked up a sock I'd started knitting, ooh, ages ago and had given up on because the wool was depressing me. It's a variegated one, and I'm not that keen on variegated wools really but it was cheap and I just wanted to knit a pair of socks with cheap wool 'til I got the hang of them. But the main problem is the colours which I'd though were shades of blue when I bought it (online of course) but really are shades of murky blue and grey and the whole thing is just too dreich. But today I picked it up again, finished turning the heel and knitted a substantial part of the foot - I think it helped that today was moderately sunny again. Those colours were just more than I could face in the winter!

Interesting link  - 'intensive laser scanning' of Maes Howe!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Growing things

 Look at my growing things (herbs), mini-plugs bought at the supermarket and potted on. 

Now look at what they're in!  My mini-greenhouse!

I used to have a cheap metal-tube-frame/pvc-cover mini-greenhouse but the pvc-cover never zipped up properly (it ended up stuck together with duct tape naturally!) and then it got wrecked in a gale last June.  It was okay but not the least bit sturdy. So since then I've been dreaming of a real greenhouse.  Our garden is really just too small to cram in a proper greenhouse though - however this is the perfect compromise. I'm so excited about this! And it smells nice - I love the smell of wood...

The plan for the garden this year is to make it as bee-friendly as possible - that's one reason for the herbs. I've been looking up bee-friendly gardening online and finding contradictory lists  - for example, one recommends sunflowers, another says they're no good, though I'll be growing them anyway because the birds like them and the kids enjoy watching them grow. So that's keeping me amused at the moment (in both senses of the word).

I'm also planning more dye-plants - the dyer's chamomile is looking okay and I'm trying to decide what other things to try. I'm also going for nepeta (catmint) to please the cats as the garden has to be cat-friendly as well as bee-friendly, and plenty of colourful flowers to please the kids!

I love this time of year!

Friday, 20 April 2012

In which I blog at warp speed

Gratuitous blossom picture

In an attempt to fight blogger's block, today I shall be blogging as quickly as I can. It turns out the new system for composing on Blogger makes this a bit tricky. It turns out in fact, that the engines cannae take it...

Anyway, setting that aside (but why mess with something that worked perfectly well, eh?), last Saturday we took a trip to Stirling castle (again) - we hadn't been there since they reopened the palace part so it was a bit different this time.

There's Miss Mouse being a lion in the Lion's Den. This is a weird little sloping courtyard in the middle of the palace building, where a lion was supposedly, possibly, once kept. Apparently royalty used to like to give each other lions. A Lion is for Life not just for Christmas, kids!

Miss M's favourite bit was down in the vaults where there are lots of interactive things for children to do - this was the costume room:

They had costumes in various sizes, though alas not 'grown-up'.

One of the lovely things about Stirling Castle is that it's a great castle for exploring - lots of levels, steps up and down and paths going round and coming out where you don't expect them. Note in the 'vault' picture that there is window looking down on another area!

Our favourite find was this wee chap:

Why is he there? Is he somebody's geocache? He's a man on a mission certainly - a secret one, he's nearly invisible.

I'll finish there - this post has taken 45 minutes (!) and I need to go to get the kids from school now.  If anyone knows a way in which I can work on the text at the same time as uploading a picture on Blogger, please tell me - this could get really frustrating :-(.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Making things

The school holidays are over and we're getting back into a routine - the holidays were great and we did some fun things (and how nice was it not to be rushing around making packed lunches in the morning?), but there's a certain reassurance to be had from getting back to normal. Not that we have yet really - Miss Mouse was in her very first dance show last night, stayed up way beyond her normal bedtime as a result, and is tired and moody today. I don't have any pictures to show for it, but it was lovely... The show I mean, not the tired five-year-old!

At lunchtime today I sat down and did something I've been meaning to do but haven't had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks - I made myself some stitch markers.

I'm a complete beading novice, but with blog posts by Knottygal and Stitched Together to guide me and a few things acquired from ebay (crimp beads, crimping pliers, beads, tigertail wire) it turned out to be fairly easy. Fiddly definitely, especially with my eyesight, but not actually difficult. Yay, a minor achievement!

Sunday, 8 April 2012


We went to the National Museum of Rural Life today (as Andamento did the other day). It was the Easter event so there were some special things happening, including..

.. squee! Ducklings! That little finger is Miss Mouse stroking a duckling. I love ducklings - such cool laidback little characters.

Here's one of the hens up at the farm - she come running over to see what we were doing and stuck her beak in the camera.

Spring is doing its stuff now.

That's the Clydesdale in the background, grazing peacefully.

Bit of rope, just because I liked the faded colour and the way it was blowing around.


We had a great day - well, morning really. I think we were lucky with the weather, it turned pretty wet after we got home. While we were out my Beloved was off at a motorbike thing (the Yorkhill Easter Egg Run) and also acquiring a new motorbike. Not rolling my eyes at all honestly - he got rid of his 125 at the same time after all..

Friday, 6 April 2012

going out and doing things

The kids and I went to Edinburgh yesterday - we met up with my mum and dad who came down for the day, and my cousin, his wife and their kids who were on holiday in the Borders and came up for the day. It was the great convergence! The kids had never met their second cousins before but they all seemed to hit it off - that's them playing in Princes Street Gardens.

We went for a coffee and a trip to the loos at the Scottish National Gallery and I rescued someone who'd got stuck in a toilet - my good deed for the day. Miss Mouse got trapped in a loo at the swimming-pool a couple of weeks ago so opening doors from the outside with a 5p coin was fresh in my mind - useful! I really must go to Edinburgh by myself one day (or without the kids at least) and have a mooch around the gallery. I haven't been there properly for years. The last time was for the Turner exhibition they have each January and that was probably about ten years ago.

It was a beautiful bright day, but absolutely baltic. I'd planned ahead and we were wearing multiple layers. I've been Cold In Edinburgh too many times! I was there once with a friend who had a badly scarred hand from a car accident the previous year and his scars actually turned properly blue with the cold which was a bit alarming.

Princes Street Gardens was looking very pretty yesterday. Gorgeous daffs, of course! And more blossom than I've seen so far on the west coast. We had a brilliant time - it was so good to catch up with family, especially so many at once! Our family are all quite scattered, so it doesn't happen often.

Here's a couple of pictures from today. Do you like the knitted egg thingies? Not sure they should be called egg cosies when there are creme eggs inside! Mum and Dad brought them down for the kids - somebody they know had made them. Aren't they cheery? Especially next to the daffodils. Yeah, I know, I'm daffodil-obsessed..

Here's Miss Mouse with her Easter basket kit, tackling blanket stitch and doing very well actually. It always surprises me when she proves to be quite dextrous, I suppose because she's my youngest, my 'baby', but she's quite a capable little thing really.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Rainbow toes

I'm not much of a nail polish person but Annie of Knitsofacto suggested I have rainbow toes 'in support of everyone fighting breast cancer'- read this to see why as she explains it so much better than I could!

So I had a rummage to see what colours I actually have - it turns out I have two bottles of purple (why?), one red and one pink. Not really a rainbow but a bit of colour at least! Don't look too closely - I'm rubbish at painting nails, finger or toe, and always smudge.

It reminds of when I was heavily pregnant with Miss Mouse and was totally miserable and had a pedicure so at least my toes would look okay. I went into labour later that day so by the time Miss Mouse came along just before midnight my toes still looked great. Hey, it's the little things that give you a boost!

That toe picture was taken yesterday morning in more or less the spot where the paddling-pool stood last week and yes, that's snow I'm standing in there. It snowed for hours yesterday but didn't lie heavily - the grass was covered but the roads and pavements were clear so it was pretty but not inconvenient. I love variety in the weather. It's so great that last week I was pottering round in really unseasonal sunshine and warmth, but it was also great to watch the snow falling again.

Little cat was not impressed with it though.

With a return to cooler weather I've gone back to my razor-shell scarf after a few weeks' break. It's getting quite long now. I'm a bit impatient with scarves and tend to cast-off when it's only just long enough, just out of sheer boredom, but this time I want a properly long scarf, so onto the second skein I go!

There is a mistake you can see if you look carefully but I've decided I'm not going to be bothered about it. Normally I'm quite nit-picky about errors so it takes a bit of effort to be Not Bothered!