Friday 20 November 2020

Simple St Trinian's Costume

As I am back doing costumes again (due to being quarantined) I thought I would share some in case people are looking for some inspiration. Many of them I have done just with things I have around the house and my actual clothes. Yesterday I went for the St Trinian's look:

  • plain white shirt
  • black pinafore dress (this one was from Sainsbury's a couple of year's ago)
  • school tie (my son's spare one!)
  • two pairs of Snag Tights so that I had colour under my fishnets
  • plimsolls from Shoe Zone


Hair and make-up:
  • bunches and big bow hair clip
  • plenty of eye liner and mascara with smoky eye shadow
  • red lipstick
  • gold hoop earrings

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Grizedale Forest: Carron Crag

On Saturday the weather was so glorious that we had a 3 generation, plus dog, trip to Grizedale. As I have repeatedly walked on one side of the forest (on the Grizedale Tarn Trail and Ridding Wood Trail), we chose a walk up to Carron Crag. It is described as a strenuous 2 hour walk of 3 miles:

This walk had us following the red sign posts. It took us up a steep rocky path into the woods before reaching the more open forest track:

It was interesting to have a mix of terrain under foot. We were also treated to some amazing views of the Lakeland Fells. Not sure Sherlock was that interested in the views:

Friday 11 September 2020

Reasons to be cheerful: birthdays, Wii and more #r2bc

I do believe it is Friday which means I'm late, I'm late for a very important date! It is a good job this is one of the most laid back linkies on the Internet... Preparing for being back in a real job and a return to some pre-lockdown activities has caused me to get behind! Lots of these have been reasons to be cheerful though. I hope that you have some reasons of your own to share?

What do you have to do? Easy: 

1. Link up a post about something that is making you happy or grateful. It can be a list, photos or any way you fancy. 

2. Add the #R2BC badge (at the end of this post) onto your post or blog so that people can easily find the linky and join in too if they want to 

3. Share the love. This is the really important bit. Please don't just link and run, comment on at least a couple of posts and why not share with #R2BC too? 

I'll stop by all linked up posts to comment and I'll share on social media too. 

Meanwhile here are my reasons to be cheerful for this week:

1) Belated birthday celebrations

As my dad had to be quarantined after a holiday to Holland we only celebrated his birthday (and my daughter's boyfriend's) with a takeaway curry and a cake made by my daughter:

2) Wii fun

We are having so much fun on the old Wii. It does get temperamental sometimes as its an original so pretty ancient! I am finally getting the hang of Mario Kart - typically there was a disc read failure after I managed my first ever 2nd place:

3) Days out

Now I am mobile again we have had a couple of days out into the Lakes. One trip to catch up with a family friend staying in Langdale and one visiting Grizedale Forest. The sheep seemed please to see us:

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Upcycling Bedroom Furniture

contains affiliate links 

Most of my bedroom furniture is either preloved or just been around for a long time! I can't afford to replace any of it but it is in need of some tender loving care. There are too many signs that it has been attacked by children or just suffered from too many house moves. I kept seeing so many lovely projects done with chalk paint so I decided to buy a can of Rustins chalky finish paint and have go myself. It sat on the side for a few weeks and then I finally got brave enough to try it on on small drawer front:

I liked the fact the only prep needed was to make sure the surface was clean - no sanding! It only took 2 coats of paint to get the desired finish. I just made the mistake of not removing the handle first and giving it a single coat of paint:


Starting to chalk paint some furniture. What should I do with the handle? ##upcycle ##upcycledfurniture ##chalkpaint

♬ Lexi - Nik Makino

Having learnt my lesson I carried on with the rest of the drawers:

Monday 7 September 2020



Lockdown had a big impact on my tutoring business. First of all I lost my GCSE English student as he was no longer going to be sitting any exams! Secondly all my remaining clients moved to video lessons via Zoom. This was a good way to keep up their momentum whilst learning at home. However, it is not as good as face to face lessons. 

One good thing about having all lessons online was a reduction in the amount of paper I was printing off as everything was electronic. Now that schools are back and I am going back to visiting my students all the papers are making a reappearance. I have spent a few days sorting through my papers from last year and planning for the lessons this half term:

Affiliate links Some of my teaching aids were a bit tatty so I have also been shopping for new place value cards and discs. I also supersized my white board to give more room for work. My trusty Usborne Junior Illustrated Maths dictionary will be accompanying me alongside CGP Maths books for my students to work with. Of course I now have the addition of a face mask and hand sanitiser to keep us all safe:

Things won't be quite the same as my students can no longer give me the occasional hug I used to get! Even so I am looking forward to helping them as they keep on with their learning.

Sunday 6 September 2020

Grizedale Forest Ridding Wood Trail

On Friday I managed to get a loan car so after a month of being carless we are finally mobile again! I need to be able to drive places to work and my daughter relies on me to get her around. Today she wanted to get out into some of the beautiful forests we have so I took her to Grizedale Forest. We had a bit of a fraught drive over as poor Sherlock was sick and then just as we were about to board the Windermere car ferry it broke down! So we only made it to the forest about 2:15 and then had a long wait to buy lunch.

All the delays meant that we only had time to follow the shorter Ridding Wood Trail and not the Grizedale Tarn Trail I had done in July. Luckily for us the weather stayed dry and at times it was pretty warm in the sun:

The route included plenty of Grizedale's famous art works. With it being all terrain route it also included a family orienteering route for younger children:

Friday 4 September 2020

Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness

I happen to be a big fan of Terry Pratchett and a quote of his has been doing the rounds that truly resonates with me:

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

 Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms:

Since becoming a single mum 11 years ago I have come to discover how true this theory is! Being poor is so expensive:
  • if you have a car it's old so costs more to maintain, it uses more fuel and the vehicle tax is higher 
  • many social housing homes have prepayment gas and electricity - this costs more per unit than paying by direct debit
  • as Vimes states cheap footwear and clothes are affordable to buy but need replacing more often
  • if your wages and any benefits don't actually last out in any given period then you are stung by overdraft charges and credit card repayments
  • essential white goods and appliances often have to be bought on expensive store credit which means they end up costing a lot more by the time they are paid for
Can you think of any other way that being poor is socioeconomic unfairness?

Thursday 3 September 2020

Reasons to be cheerful: back to 'normal' #r2bc

Gosh it has been a while since I hosted the linky (18th July in fact!). It has been quite a busy summer as you can see from my blog posts. However, my son went back to school today (for first time since 19th March) and my students are switching back to after school lessons so its is a return to the new 'normal'. I am hoping that folks have reasons to be cheerful that they want to share.

What do you have to do? Easy: 

1. Link up a post about something that is making you happy or grateful. It can be a list, photos or any way you fancy. 

2. Add the #R2BC badge (at the end of this post) onto your post or blog so that people can easily find the linky and join in too if they want to 

3. Share the love. This is the really important bit. Please don't just link and run, comment on at least a couple of posts and why not share with #R2BC too? 

I'll stop by all linked up posts to comment and I'll share on social media too. 

Meanwhile here are my reasons to be cheerful for this week: 

1) A trip to the moon

I have already blogged about the amazing experience seeing the Museum of the Moon was:

2) On the hills with family

I needed to kick myself into gear and start getting in shape for marathon training to resume. My son challenged me to run up 3 local hills and then the following day I hiked back on one with family (and Sherlock):

3) Time with my children

With it being the school holidays I had time to spend with both children doing something they love. For my daughter she bribed me with a lunch at Hansen's Ice Cream Parlour. A complete opposite with my son as it was a run up to Kendal Castle:

Wednesday 2 September 2020

Time for the change - Menopause #menopause

Being a woman means that at some point the menopause will hit with all horror stories of what it entails:

  • hot flushes
  • sleepless nights
  • brain fog
  • short temper
  • hair thinning
  • low mood
  • reduced bone strength

As I approach my 50th birthday it is something I need to be aware of and find ways to mitigate the symptoms:

Menopause means that whilst there are no longer the issues of monthly periods, with the problems (and expense) these can bring, it is not an easy time for most women. The lack of quality sleep is something which can impact on all aspects of life. It is certainly something that I am currently struggling with. 

Friday 28 August 2020

Museum of the Moon, Coronation Hall, Ulverston #MuseumOfTheMoon


I have recently seen lots of social media posts from friends of the Museum of the Moon exhibition at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston. Having discovered that it ends this Monday I persuaded my mum to pick me up so that we could go and see it today. Before going in I had to say hello to one of Ulverston's most famous residents and his partner:

With social distancing rules we had to sanitise and follow a one way system. Walking into the hall we had an instant wow factor on seeing the moon:

In the hall we could walk right under the moon and see close up the NASA images that it is made of:

Thursday 27 August 2020

Garden Update


It has been a while since I have posted any updates on the garden improvements. Progress a bit patchy with a lack of funds and time! I was given a free pallet and it sparked a mini project of creating a bin hide in the front garden. I have since acquired another pallet and painted them both (mostly with leftover paints):

They looked a bit boring despite the colours so I used an idea I had seen online and bought hanging plant pots. A pack of 10 from Amazon (affiliate link) plus some pansies and violas from Asda has given them a real boost:

The hooks only worked on one pallet so I will need to find a plan B for the other one:

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Chatelherault Country Park

As a family we love to make alternative pitstops on long car journeys instead of motorway services. On our drive to Loch Lomond we finally managed to stop at Chatelherault Country Park which is just off the M74 at Hamilton south of Glasgow. We ate our picnic and then had a brief walk around the 18th century hunting lodge built for the Duke of Hamilton:

We felt we hadn't really explored the grounds so on our way home we again stopped here for lunch. This time we took Sherlock on a wander around the estate. Even in the heat we found some cool and pleasant walks by the old pond. We even found some knights guarding the bench:

Behind the hunting lodge we discovered the Clyde Valley Woodlands national nature reserve with some tempting looking walks... of course we couldn't resist following one of them:

Sunday 23 August 2020

Stoneymollan Road - Coffin Road Balloch to Cardross


We hadn't had a decent walk on our trip so on the last day we decided to walk up part of the old Coffin Road to get in some views over Loch Lomond. We are familiar with coffin roads as we have a few in the Lake District. Basically there was no where to bury people in Balloch so they had to be carried all the way to St Mahew's Chapel in Kirkton, a distance of almost 6 miles! This route now includes parts of the John Muir Way (134 miles/215 km from Helensburgh to Dunbar) and Three Lochs Way (34.5 miles/55 km from Balloch to Invergulas):

One obstacle that didn't exist in the days of coffin carrying, is the A82. Luckily for us a pedestrian bridge takes you safely over the road. We even got a bit of a view of the Stoneymallon roundabout with its wild birds in flight:

The way marking on this part of the path was excellent. It also is on a tarmac covered surface as there are a few houses off the road. As we climbed we got a few glimpses of Loch Lomond below:

Friday 21 August 2020

Ardkinglas Woodland Garden


After our early dinner at Loch Fyne my mum suggested we walked it off at Ardkinglas Woodland Garden which was only a shot distance around the Loch. The gardens are open until dusk with an honesty box and when we went we were the only ones there. We picked up a trail leaflet and headed off into woodland with its very tall trees. For scale my son is 6ft (183cm):

The leaflet had numbers on it so that we could find out about the trees and other things scattered in the gardens such as this lovely sculpture:

One of the highlights was the poetry contained in this gazebo:

Thursday 20 August 2020

A day in Inverary


On one, luckily sunny, day on our break we had decided to drive up to Inverary in Argyll & Bute. This involved driving most of the way up the edge of Loch Lomond before wiggling through the mountains for a pause at the Rest and be Thankful:

We certainly were very thankful for the rest and a coffee with a view back the way we had come. I can't imagine what it was like in the days before the combustion engine on the original military road, you can see it wiggling below the modern one:

The name dates back to 1748 when a stone was erected by the engineers who constructed it:

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Cycle ride to Luss, Loch Lomond

For a slightly more active day we took a 3 generation bike ride on the West Lomond cycle path. This runs from Balloch to Tarbet but we joined it just outside the town where the old main road ran alongside the estate. At first it was a road but soon became just for bikes and pedestrians:

The route did some times run right alongside the A82, which luckily wasn't too busy. The route was pretty undulating but fairly well maintained (some of the bushes could have done with a trim!). It was nicest when it was a dedicated path: 

After about 7 miles we dropped back down to the side of the Loch and had to cycle on the road which would take us into Luss:

Tuesday 18 August 2020

The Kelpies

The Kelpies

After our trip to the Falkirk Wheel we got back in the car and drove the short distance to visit The Kelpies. They are the world's largest equine sculptures and a popular destination for photographers:

Key facts
  • Each structure contains approximately 18,000 individual pieces
  • There is over 1.5 miles of steel in each structure
  • They each weigh over 300 tonnes and sit on 1,200 tonne foundations
  • Each structure has 464 steel plates
The Kelpies were built in just 90 days (to view the video of their construction click here)

With the continuing rain we drove as close as possible and parked in the Helix. We walked along the canal and the size of the Kelpies soon became apparent:

The Kelpies

They really are incredible pieces of art and engineering when seen close up:

The Kelpies

The weather, plus no open cafe due to COVID-19, meant we didn't linger. I would love to go back and see them when they are floodlit at night.

Thursday 30 July 2020

5 tips for the Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel is a unique piece of engineering as it is the only rotating boat lift (of its kind) in the world. The Wheel opened in 2002 to connect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It lifts boats up 24 metres and then locks allow the last 11 metres to be covered:

Falkirk Wheel

With the current pandemic there are more restrictions so here are my top tips:

  1. You must book online in advance as boats are running at 1/3 capacity.
  2. Choose a dry day when possible as there is a lot to explore on the site, plus the boat windows won't steam up as much!
  3. Food is limited so bring snacks.
  4. Bikes could be useful to get you to the Kelpies 4 miles away.
  5. Take your parking ticket to the centre to pay (£3) before returning to the car.
Our drive to the wheel was just over an hour so we allowed time to get a coffee before our trip. This meant that we also got to watch the previous trip boat go up and down on the wheel. To keep everyone safe boarding procedures meant that we had to go on as our group and then get seated spread across the cabin. They had also turned off the air system which normally keeps the windows clear:

Falkirk Wheel

We were aboard the Archimedes, named after the man whose discovery enables the wheel to function. The boat sailed into the cradle and then slowly rotated to the top:

The cradle docks onto the top of the structure and then a gate drops to allow water to flow between canal and cradle.  Then the boat sails over the elevated section of the canal:

A tunnel has been carefully dug through the hillside. Above it are roman remains from the Antonine Wall and below it are old mine workings. We passed through and then turned before reaching the locks to head back down:

The boat then reversed its ride by going back down to the lower canal basin. We then walked around to get another look at the wheel and canal:

My mum and I walked along a bit further to try to get to the roman fort and parts of the Antonine Wall but got too wet so headed back to the car. It turned out we had got really close... oh well next time! This is a taste of the video footage I took (hard to film in the condensation coated cabin):

After our visit we drove off to see the Kelpies..