Saturday, 31 July 2010

Crafty fun

Yep, I am now the Recycling Queen of North Lincolnshire, as spotted by the squirrel Family, in the local rag. This is my table in the Arts Centre today, I had to have two tables because I have that much stuff to show. There was another table where the children were making models out of scrap, some of them were quite imaginative. Most of them made rockets out of cans and paper cups, coloured card and silver foil. This is a free drop in activity during the school holidays, they can make as much mess as they like as mum doesn't have to clean it up.

It was a bit quiet this morning, but a few people popped in this afternoon. Some of the mums showed great interest in my ideas and designs, and one teacher asked if I could do a talk at their school as it would fit in very nicely with their green recycling programme.

Janet and Sue came to see me. Sue had just bought a teeshirt from a charity shop, with a big, sitting pussy cat stitched on the front. I was able to trace around it onto paper, then copy it onto card. I can use this as a template to cut out a cat, to sew onto the shopping bags.

Talking of shopping bags, I gave away four of the sweatshirt bags to people who showed an interest in copying them. One lady was on holiday from Utah, so that bag is going to travel a long way back home with her. Afterwards I went to Tesco and gave the other two away to random people who were arriving to do their shopping. They were all delighted when I said they were free, and that I had made them to give away. I need to make some more now, six down, one million to go, ha ha.

Friday, 30 July 2010

A tree for all seasons

I took Henry choc lab a walk today and thought how lovely it is that we have four seasons. The green fields have turned into the golden colours of harvesting, and the tractor driver stacking the bales onto his trailer are a glorious sight. It must be awful to live in a place which is hot all the time, like my brother in India and my friend in Malaysia. Heat drains me and makes me tired, it has been a bit warm today, more humid and muggy than warm, and I felt tired. I had a siesta this afternoon. It's raining now so that will help to freshen things up.

There is a tree at the end of my road which envelopes you with a wonderful fragrance as you pass underneath it. I am so addicted to this smell that I look up into it's branches and linger for a while, my nose taking in the aroma. I don't know what this tree is called, maybe someone can tell me.

It has big broad leaves, and small narrow leaves with a stem of tiny flowers coming from the middle of each leaf. Very strange to have two different types of leaves on the same tree.

This tree looks wonderful in all seasons, in the spring it has an abundance of flowers, and in the autumn it will cover the ground in a golden carpet. In the winter it sleeps.

I have a busy day tomorrow, at the Arts Centre. I'll get some sleep now so I am refreshed. Goodnight.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

This cat has a new life

This will warm the cockles of your heart. Remember Mr beasley, the cat that kept running away from his new home, to go back to his old one. I kept picking him up and taking him home, only for him to run away again. In the end the owner gave up and he has been a resident in my friend Sue's cat rescue chalet in her garden for the past few months.

He seemed quite happy there, he shared with another cat called Bobby, they were the best of friends, and he could see Sue at her kitchen window. She even put a portable TV in the chalet and sat watching it with Mr B purring on her knee.

We thought he might have to be rehomed eventually but because he is such a gorgeous boy, there was no rush. We had fallen in love with him and knew that the person who takes him on would have to be very special, a kind and caring cat lover who would give him lots of cuddles. We just had to wait untill that person came along.

Well now she has. I called in to see my friend Janet when I got back on Tuesday, she looks after my cats while I am away. Sitting in her conservatory chatting, I looked down to see a ginger cat walk in. She has nine cats and I couldn't recall seeing a ginger one before. Then I smiled, and Janet smiled, yes, Mr Beasley has a new home, he recognised me and jumped straight on my knee.

He has been there just over three weeks and fingers crossed he hasn't tried to run away. Mind you, he probably knows he is onto a good thing, a big garden to roam about in, good food, and a comfy bed, what more could a cat want. So thank you Janet and Paul for taking him in :o)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A new look at familiar places

Here are a few snaps from my holiday with Traveleyes, or should I say reams of snaps, ha ha, yes there are rather a lot, I have put them all into one post. Get yourself a coffee and settle down for half an hour while you peruse, or feel free to split it into two parts if you want to come back to it later. Don't forget to click on the pictures if you want them bigger.

We arrived at the Rendevous Hotel, Skipton, at 3.30pm and after a relaxed check in and familiarising ourselves with the hotel layout, we enjoyed a champagne reception. At our reserved tables in the ballroom, we were served a delicious three course a la carte meal. Our evenings entertainment was a live cabaret featuring the music from Grease. Everyone soon got into the party spirit and was up out of their seats dancing to the lively music.

After breakfast the next day, we took a walk down the canal towpath which ran directly behind the hotel, to Skipton town centre. Amar and Claire are leading, Amar is the founder of Traveleyes, and Claire is his lovely assistant.

Each blind or visually impaired (VI) traveller is assigned a sighted guide. The pairs are changed daily so that everyone gets to know each other. You will see that some are carrying canes and some are not, it is up to the individual. Here we are re grouping for a few minutes to let everyone catch up.

Dont you think Amar and Claire make a lovely couple, ooops that's me always matchmaking, Claire has a boyfriend elsewhere. Shame, they do look nice together.

Our narrow boat was waiting for us when we arrived for our cruise. People need a helping hand to embark. When moving in unfamiliar confined spaces it is best that the guide goes first to give instructions on how many steps and the position of handrails. Maggie is helping Jillian.

Carol is stepping into the boat, and Claire is ready to assist Amar.

Ready to go, and it's a lovely sunny day. Drinks and biscuits were served.

I've got my head sticking out of the top to take this picture. We were passing our hotel and the conservatory you can see behind is our dining room. There were quite a few boats cruising up and down. The bridge with the white railings you can see, needs to be manually opened to let boats through it. Someone gets off the boat and pushes a big lever and it swings sideways, then they close it and jump back on the boat again.

After the boat ride we had free time to explore Skipton. I was let off guide duties for today because we have one too many, so I was able to take a few more photo's. This is the Town Hall, the Salvation Army are entertaining the visitors.

The Parish Church next to the castle.

We all met up again, waiting to go to the castle.

Approaching the entrance to the castle.

It was our lucky day, there was a medieval reenactment group performing in full costume. It was great, it brought everything to life. We also had our own private guide, who painted a wonderful picture with words.

Ready to go to battle.

They mingled with the visitors and it was ok to ask questions. Everyone was very helpfull as they allowed the VI's to touch their costumes to feel the thickness of the fabrics. When one of your senses is not working properly you need to be able to use the others to compensate, and touch is very important.

The characters walked around the grounds freely, from children, babes in arms, dogs, to wealthy landowners and servants, they were all there. I never knew history was so fascinating. Even the dogs had decorated collars.

This lady is being quizzed by Liz, who took a keen interest in the weight of her dress.

I took a few moments to explore and find different angles for photographs. Here, I am looking down at our group in the courtyard.

This is looking towards the entrance from the tower.

This beautiful castle is very well preserved and the gardens are immaculate. I have really enjoyed this visit.

At this point we split up and a few of our group decided to go back to the hotel. I went a walkabout around the outside of the castle and found this walkway alongside a stream. The sound of the rushing water tumbling over the wall was a very pleasant contrast to the hustle and bustle of the traffic and market just around the corner.
That evening we returned to Skipton and enjoyed a meal in a nautical themed restaurant, a fitting end to the day.
The next day. A day out in York. The coach picked us up at the hotel and deposited us in York centre close to the city wall, where we met our guide. We had an interesting walk along part of the wall, then had free time to have lunch and a walk round. Four of us picked up a bite to eat from good old Marks and Sparks and found a table to sit and eat, in the middle of a continental food market. Suitably refreshed we had a walk around the narrow cobbled streets, Shambles being the most famous one, then had a stroll around the food market, with the mouthwatering aromas wafting past our nostrils.

After meeting up again we then went to the Jorvik Viking Museum, Jorvik being the original name of York. This was built on the site of a Viking settlement, and there is an authentic re-creation of houses, workshops, and backyards of how it used to be. We sat in little cars which run along a track and as you slowly glide through the exhibits, the story unfolds through the speakers in the headrests.

Some of the moving characters are very lifelike, as they go about their daily business.

Later that evening we had a short walk up the canal to the Bay Horse pub, and had an excellent meal. Egged on by my dining friends, yes you Bob and David, I over indulged a little. I wouldn't normally have a pudding, or a coffee afterwards, but on this ocassion I thought I would be sociable and join in the frivolities. Boy did I pay for it later. Think of a rock laid in your stomach, then later a train rumbling through. Just thought I would sneak in a picture of my room here, shame I was feeling rotten as I was lying in bed.

This is Bob and Amar strumming and singing, just before we retired for the evening. They were fantastic, Amar is a man of many talents.

The following morning we had a short coach ride to Keighly Station, where we got on a steam train for Howarth, Bronte country. It's a nostalgic step back in time on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

Some of our group are chatting as we wait for the train.

I love the sound and the smells of a steam train, this is ours arriving. It took a few minutes for them to take off the engine, fill up with water, and move it to the other end of the carriages, to hook up for our trip.

We reached Howarth and the coach driver kindly met us to take us to the famous Main Street, as it was raining. We had free time to call in a cafe for lunch, then walked up the hill to the Bronte Parsonage. Although I have visited this area before I hadn't been on the steam train and I hadn't been inside the Parsonage, so this was all new to me.
I have included some pictures of Haworth in a previous post, so as my attention was taken up with guiding, I didn't feel the need to take any more. Sorry.
Back at the hotel, it was decided that we would eat in the conservatory, but I couldn't face yet another meal. I had already scaled down my breakfasts as I mentioned, and after the sandwich at lunch time I only wanted something light. So when everyone was seated, I put my walking boots back on and set off along the canal towards Skipton in search of a morsel. I suddenly remembered that Tesco was not very far away, and it was just after 8pm, so it was worth a look for some bargains.
I was dead lucky. I spent £1.62, on a big pot of tuna pasta salad, granary bread, lettuce, melon slices, and orange juice. Enough for two days. Mind you when I got back I had only half a loaf left, most of it had been fed to the ducks, ha ha. I had a picnic in my room and watched Dragons Den, bliss. Of course I did join the rest of them in the bar for a natter afterwards.

On the last morning we went a walk along the canal, and watched some people open a bridge to pass through. This was an automatic one where you did not require muscle power, but inserted a key and pushed a button.
The bridge swings parallel to the water, then back again.

Some of the group had to catch early trains, Liz was very excited because she is spending the next ten days in Nottingham where her new guide dog would be waiting for her. They both have to go through the training process, and at the end of it they will be going home together. How exciting is that.
The rest of us had lunch in the dining room, and surprise surprise, a celebration cake was wheeled out. This has been the first UK Traveleyes holiday, and everyone agreed, it had been a great success. Here is Amar cutting the cake.

If you know anyone who is blind or visually impaired, or indeed a sighted person who might like to go on holiday with Traveleyes, please point them in the direction of their web site. It is an international company so anyone can join in.
Amar and his team do everything they can to make their holidays enjoyable for everyone.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Thanks for looking after the place

Hiya everybody, I'm back. Great holiday, good bunch of people, lots of laughs, I even got a couple of sessions of roller blading in, on the car park at the front of the hotel ;o) I over indulged a bit on the food, and had to stop eating the cooked breakfasts, and I missed an evening meal, I was stuffed full. As always too much stodge plays havoc with my insides, now I'm craving steamed veg. I'll get the photo's sorted, see you tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Just popping out, turn the light off when you leave.

I hope you can manage without me for a few days, I'm going on holiday tomorrow to Yorkshire. I'm going with a travel company called
they organise holidays for blind and visually impaired people, and take the same amount of sighted people, who act as the eyes for those who can't see. We are staying in a hotel in Skipton, and having trips out to York and Howarth, a narrow boat cruise, and a visit to Skipton Castle.

Although I have been to the area before, I am looking forward to meeting new and interesting people. The boss of the company, Amar Latif, is coming along as well, he is lovely, can't wait to see him again. He has his own web site
I had a holiday with them three years ago to Italy, it was fantastic but quite mentally demanding. You are paired up with a different person every day, and have to make sure they are safe, describe what you see, and help them to make the best of their holiday, as well as enjoying it yourself. It's a win win situation really, everybody is happy.

I'll see you when I get back and tell you all about it. Toodle pip.

Look after yourself

I am reading a book at the moment called Shape Shifter, by Geoff Thompson, it's a 'self help' book. I used to read a lot of these types of books when I was younger, trying to learn of better ways to live my life. I also went to night classes and did Psychology, Stress Management, and Counselling. I realised quite early on that the only person who is responsible for how my life turns out, is me.

Chapter three in the book is titled, Food for Thought, and opens with the words, 'You are what you eat'. Dont you just get fed up of hearing that, it's rammed down our throats every day in the media. The government plays God by preaching what we should and shouldn't be eating, and that excess alcohol, drugs, junk food, and smoking is bad for us. We have heard it that often, we don't listen any more.

I hope Mr Thompson does not mind if I borrow a few words from his book, he talks a lot of sense in a simple language.

"Mahatma Gandhi believed that the secret to building unlimited holistic success was in developing the correct palate. If you control your palate, he taught, then all the other senses will fall into line. When you control the senses you control yourself and once you can control yourself you can control the world. However, if you cannot control something as basic as the food you eat how are you ever going to get your head around the big issues such as health, wealth, and happiness?"

Another quote...
"What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat fundamentally affects who you are and what you think. The wrong foods - or even the right foods eaten in heavy portions, can force the body out of it's natural state of balance. This makes it difficult to think positively, and makes it almost impossible to function normally."

I haven't enough room here to go into great detail, but the main message in this chapter is that food is purely fuel for the body, that's all. It's not about never having a beer, or a pizza, or a pudding. It's about moderation, about not eating food that your body does not need, taking the pressure off an overworked digestive system.

I don't have a relationship with food, it does not rule my life, I am not constantly thinking about it, and I am certainly not addicted to it. Food is the fuel that keeps me alive, so I try and eat the best I can. OK, I ocassionally fall off the wagon, too many crisps, too much chocolate, but these instances are becoming less and less, and I am pleased with myself when I pass them by on the supermarket shelf. I am also pleased that I view smoking as poisoning the body, so I have never indulged, neither have I dabbled with drugs, for this activity poisons the mind as well as the body. My little pleasure is an ocassional can of cider, or a bottle of wine, I only drink them because I like the taste, not because of the effects they might have. Of course all this is no guarantee that I will live to a ripe old age, at the end of the day it's the cards you are dealt, but I do hope that if I look after myself it will help.

You might be wondering where all this psychological (I call it comonsense) talk is leading. I feel very sad when I hear of people who have wrecked their lives through over indulgence. Very sad that people have neglected to look after their own bodies. It's even more heart breaking when you know a member of your own family is heading down the road to self destruction, and you can only stand by and watch them throw their lives away.

I heard yesterday that my brother, who lives in India, is dying of cancer. Sadly it is too late for him. I have known for many years that his unhealthy lifestyle would be his downfall, but I could do nothing. He is only 59, and I may never see him again.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Nature is so crafty

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. I have no idea what that means because no one has ever given me a horse before, and if they did I wouldn't be getting close enough to it to look in it's mouth. But my gift to me today, is a plate of spuds.

They are a gift because I never planted any in the spot where I have just dug these up. These magic potatoes just appeared in the middle of a bed of peas. The peas are all eaten so I cleared away the debris, and dug these up at the same time. I can only think that I might have missed a spud from last years batch and it has laid there all winter waiting to sprout. Or, I have a habit of putting everything onto the compost heap, and a few potato peelings may have been resurected and come back to life for a second chance. Whatever happend I am pleased with my free spuds.


In the last few days I have butchered four sweatshirts to make shopping bags out of them. The pile of offcuts was mounting up, what do I do with the bits left behind? Aha, I'm not so daft as to throw them in the bin, they will come in usefull, I know make another bag ;o)

So here we go, another bag. It doesn't matter that it's bits sewn together, in fact it adds a bit of interest. The bags are meant to be strong and robust, they don't have to be pretty and decorative, they have a job to do.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Pussy cat pub

This post is for all cat lovers, and anyone else who happens to be passing. I mentioned the pub I called at for a drink on Friday on my way back from a walking day out. The Coach and Horses at Rillington on the A64 a few miles east of Malton, is a feline haven.

The story is, the previous landlady collected pot cats, and her regular customers brought back an ornament from their holidays, to add to the collection.

It grew and grew, untill she had over 1,000 cats. She had to put up extra shelving in the lounge to accommodate them all.

Then came the time to move on, she moved out of the pub to live in a bungalow, and took a great many of the cats with her.

The present landlord has been there for 14 years, and has at the moment over 350 cats.

There still seems a lot because everywhere you look there are cats.

On the pelmets above the curtains.

Shelves on the wall.

Glass shelves hanging from the ceiling.

Over the top of the bar.

Who has the job of dusting all the cats? They have a barmaid who has been working there for 40 years and she has taken on the job of looking after them. A labour of love, she deserves a medal.

All polished, not a speck of dust anywhere. Aren't they lovely. Pop in and see them if you are passing.

Monday, 19 July 2010

A lovely day for a funeral

Time to say goodbye to Freddie. You may remember that my Freddie was very poorly, I took him to the vet in December, but there was nothing that could be done for him that would not hurt him further. I felt it was unfair to to put him through a lot of tests and an operation, with no guarantee for a good outcome. It was kindest to let him go.

Today I have scattered his ashes in his favourite places, in the borders of the garden. He loved to lie underneath the bushes, taking shelter from the hot sun. This is Freddies resting place.

Lilly was there to help me and we said our goodbye's and a little prayer. I put the box on the lawn and Lilly immediately lay down next to it. Maybe I am imagining it, but it was as if he knew that Freddie was there.

I scattered the ashes and Lilly lay down for a few minutes, in the shade of the bushes, where Freddie used to lay.