A Massive Big Catch Up

Oh My Word, I have been so neglectful of this blog and I’m quite disappointed in myself because I do this primarily for myself because I enjoy looking back through it from time to time.  It’s surprising how you forget how you felt until you read your own words back.  So, I think I’d better try and bring things up to date as much as possible.  So much has happened that I’ll have blog in installments to bring myself up to date.

First up, back in May we went to a fantastic food and beer festival in Ludlow, Shropshire.  It was held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and rather than me trying to remember and describe it all, I’ll just point you in the direction of this fabulous blog post by Patrick.  He does a great job of telling the tale and below are some photos that I took on the day.

Next event up was our annual summer holiday.  Instead of the usual cottage stay, we had opted for a boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads and off we went in mid-June.  The weather had been horrendous in the weeks leading up to our holiday, rainy, windy and just plain horrible but actually, during the week we were away we were pretty lucky and it only rained briefly one afternoon, it rained every night but we were tucked up and cosy on the boat then so it didn’t matter. 

I have to say that my feelings now, four months on are still  “Least said, soonest mended”!  Let’s just say that I didn’t take to it and was very nervous driving the boat all week.  On the way down, we stopped off in Kings Lynn at Beers of Europe for supplies of our favourite Belgian Ales to take onboard.  The place really is a beer lover’s paradise and we spent rather a lot of time (and money) in there!  We stayed in Norwich overnight and visited some of the lovely pubs there before driving to Stalham the next day to pick up our boat.  After a (very) short drive / sail (not sure what to call it) out of the boatyard and a quick tutorial on how to moor up, we were on our way.  I can’t say I really enjoyed the week on the boat, although I wouldn’t say I hated it either.  For me, it was just a stressful experience and I wouldn’t want to do it again.

Still, we got lots of photos of ducks, geese and swans 🙂

And Patrick did get to relax some of the time.

 That’s this post done and dusted.  I’ll try to post again before the week is out to get us a bit more up to date.

Here I am

Back again.  I’ve just been busy with other things and not really had time or motivation to blog recently.  However I do have some news for you.  As you all know, I’m a real ale enthusiast and CAMRA member.  Well for a good few months now I’ve been considering becoming more active in our local branch.  There is currently a core of four or five people who do absolutely everything and I’ve been feeling that I wanted to help out in some capacity. So firstly, I have volunteered to work at our Annual Beer Festival which is being held this week from 19th to 21st, I’ll blog about my experience on both sides of the bar at the weekend hopefully.  Secondly and the main thing, I have joined the Committee as Pubs Officer for Hull.  This actually is quite an undertaking and I’m not entirely sure I thought it through properly before volunteering!!  However, I will give it my best shot.  Basically I have to make contact with licensees of pubs in Hull and report to committee and members of any news or changes, current branch members often report any news to the pubs officer already so that will help.  I also would like to encourage some licensees to become more involved in CAMRA promotional campaigns such as the discount scheme to get more CAMRA members through their doors and other campaigns that run throughout the year.  Previously there just have not been enough people in the committee to do everything needed so I’m hoping to take some of that on.  Now this would take a very confident and self-assured person one would think eh?  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am neither of those things so this will be a challenge for me.  One I am looking forward to even though I am a little daunted by it.  Wish me luck!  The branch was also missing a proper webmaster due to the previous one having to give up due to work and family committments so Patrick has volunteered in that capacity too.  He has designed a new branch website and I’ll link to that when it goes live.  It’s been many hours of hard work but it’s looking brilliant, we just need people to make decisions now before we can take it further.

In knitting news, my mojo went AWOL for a wee while but I’ve now finished the baby jacket for my work colleague.  I hope she’s having a little ‘un because this has turned out much smaller than I expected. 

I’m also halfway through the second of my Pretty Pink Bubbles socks.  I love these socks, the pattern is so easy and yet pretty.  The yarn which is Cygnet Wool Rich 4ply is a very cosy but I think it will felt easily so it will be hand wash with care for these.  I am also now determined to finish Maude Louise before I allow myself to cast on another thing.

Time Flies

How time flies!  I really did intend on making sure I had a new post out each week so I can’t believe that two weeks have gone by since my last post. 

Firstly the brilliant news for this post is that my work colleague took her triplets home from the hospital last Friday.  Here are the little teensy matinee sets that I had knitted, I was chuffed to bits to discover that she had used them for the babies’ coming home outfits and they had been much admired.  I made two sets with pink buttons and pink pompoms for the hats and one set with blue.  The pattern was one from a Sirdar book for newborns and premature babies, called Sirdar 280, Early Arrivals Booklet if anyone is interested.  I was going to put a link to the article in our local newspaper about their homecoming but it appears to have been taken down already! 

Baby Roots cardigan

In other knitting activity, I’ve also knitted a baby jacket for another work colleague’s new grandson and also a hat for his big brother so he didn’t feel left out.  The jacket was a free one on Ravelry, Baby Roots Cardigan  (Rav Link) and I really enjoyed knitting it.  It was knitted top-down in one piece which is my favourite construction for cardigans.  I used some stash yarn which was Rico Aran Duo in a cream mix colour and it turned out really well. 

Bubbles

The hat was Bubbles by Woolly Wormhead and I knitted the flat top version which I think is so cute.  I usually love Woolly’s patterns and this was as well written and clear as ever but it had far too much purling in the round for my liking and I don’t think it’s one I’ll knit again in a hurry.  It turned out lovely though and I’m looking forward to seeing Ethan wearing it.  The yarn was some stash yarn that has long since lost it’s ball band but I seem to remember it being Stylecraft Aran with Wool.

I’ve also started Tappan Zee for myself.  I’ve liked this pattern ever since I first saw it in Knitty’s Spring/Summer 2010 edition, but as usual it got lost in the queue.  However, after knitting my Meret in the lovely Soffia Plus, the rest of it in my stash started shouting Tappan Zee, Tappan Zee everytime I walked past the shelves where I keep my yarn stash so I had to cave in and cast it on.  It’s another top-down seamless jobby so I’m a happy bunny knitting along.  I’m pleased with the look of it so far, I just hope I have enough yarn…I’d hate to hate to frog my Meret to finish it!

Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Manchester to the National Winter Ales Festival.  We set off in the chucking rain, the M62 is most unpleasant to drive down in that kind of weather I must say.  We arrived in the chucking rain and it was still chucking with rain when we left the Premier Inn on Saturday morning.  However, we didn’t go to sunbathe, we went to drink lots of lovely dark winter ales.  Mission was accomplished most satisfactorily.  As usual we met some nice people and had a giggle with them.  One group of lads had brought along their lager drinking friend to try and convert him and he wasn’t much impressed.  However as an ex-lager drinker myself I understand that it does take a while for your palette to adjust to drinking alcohol that actually tastes of something rather than just being wet and fizzy.  On reflection though, dark and flavourful winter ales probably are not the best introduction to a real ale drinking career!  He would be better at a summer ales festival I’m sure but I doubt he’ll give it another chance.  He did make a very valid point though and one which I have often made myself.  Where the hell do some of these people hide when they are not stalking around beer festivals?  Seriously there are some people who at best could be described as “characters” but really are just a little bit weird.  There are the usual anorak, back-pack carrying oddities but also some very strange looking people, like the little guy with the leather trousers, leather waistcoat, leather cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses…indoors…in Manchester.  He would look ok cruising Route 66 on his chopper maybe.  I really wanted to try to take some surreptitious photos of some of the “characters” but it would have been too obvious.  Although lager boy did grab Mr Leather & Sunglasses and insist on having a photo taken with him, I should have taken one too.

Weekend in Cropton.

Well, we’re back home safe and sound after our lovely weekend away.  It was just what we needed, relaxation!  The cottage was beautiful and the owner Mike, couldn’t have been more helpful.  Even down to getting his 4×4 out to tow us off the yard on Monday morning when our car was stuck in the very deep snow.  There was a wood burning stove in the inglenook fireplace and we made great use of that all weekend.  Very cosy and romantic :-).

We took books to read and I had plenty of knitting with me, oh and biscuits and chocolates of course 🙂

My Dream Holiday.

Now, coincidentally this happened to be the weekend of the Cropton Beer Festival.  We didn’t know this when we booked the cottage – no one believes us of course but it’s true.  Naturally, we were very happy to discover it, but we genuinely didn’t know about it when we chose that weekend. Our plan, as such, was that we would just chill out and relax, pop to the pub a couple of times and stay in and cook one of the three nights we would be there.

So, after staying in with a bottle of wine and a beef casserole on the Friday night, on Saturday, after a hearty full English breakfast, we set off for a walk in the snow around the village.  It really was a winter wonderland, so beautiful.

The view from the cottage window
Sheep in a field
The New Inn, Cropton

Naturally, after all the exercise, we felt we had earned a couple of beers so it was off to the beer festival.  We got there just as it had opened for the day so had the run of the bar in the marquee specially set up for the purpose.  Just take a look at all those pumps!  That’s only half of the bar in the picture. 

We'll just start at one end and work our way down shall we?

I’m not going to bore you by listing all the beers we had over the weekend, suffice to say we tried a fair few between us!  My particular favourite was Cropton’s Blackout.  A fabulous rich Porter which is produced from a 1930’s recipe.  It’s like chocolate in a glass….yum yum.  There was also a Biker’s Rally on over the weekend and about 50 motorcylists had braved the elements for the event and many were camped in the field behind the pub.  Yes, that’s right, camped!  As in tents and sleeping bags!  I was astounded that people would even consider camping in that weather but the ones we spoke to assured us that they were snug and warm.  I’ll take their word for it I think.  We were also surprised to see how many other visitors there were from Hull.  We met people we know and saw quite a few others who we know by sight from The Wellington Inn in Hull. 

On Sunday, we had a very lazy day and actually didn’t move from in front of the fire all day.  I enjoyed some knitting and finally finished my Woolly Wormhead mystery hat B, just in time for the end of November!  I also made a dent in my Red ‘jeans cardigan and am pleased with they way that’s coming along now.  I’ll blog about and put pictures of my hat up when I can get some nice ones.

On Monday lunchtime when we came to leave, we found the car well and truly stuck in deep snow. 

There's a car under there!
I had to sweep the snow off!

Mike the cottage owner got his 4×4 out to try to tow us out but it was a struggle.  We had to dig more snow from under the wheels and try several times.  Eventually we got moving and once we were on the road, it was fine.  Fine, until we got within spitting distance of home.  Part of the road to Beverley was closed and we had to take a diversion, through little villages and country roads.  It got a bit hairy at one point when we couldn’t actually tell where the road ended and the ditches began!  I would have taken a photo but I was too scared.  I also thought it might piss Patrick off since he was the one trying to keep us on the road at the time.  I know if I’d been driving and he’d got his camera out, I’d have felt like ramming it down his throat. :-D.  We were very relieved to see the main road in front of us, relatively clear of snow, leading to the main Beverley bypass.  We stopped in Beverley at The Green Dragon, for some lunch and then made our way home for a quiet night in.

A truly lovely weekend break.  Why are they always over too quickly though?