Learning new things – mosaic making.

As a xmas gift for my Mam I bought her a voucher for a 3 hour mosaic workshop (and one for me of course). Our first attempt at completing the workshop was scuppered by The Beast From The East which dumped a tonne of snow and stopped us from getting there, but we rescheduled for the following week and turned up at Lorraine’s house in glorious spring sunshine. We were the only two in the workshop that morning and Lorraine had arranged our little work stations in front of the window so the sunlight beamed down on us.

After a quick cup of tea (always a good start) Lorraine gave us a choice of templates to work from; hearts, owls, swallows and winged hearts, My Mam opted for a plain heart and I went for the winged version. We were shown how to cut the glass tiles and china with a pair of wheeled nippers – eye protection at the ready! We started by drawing some outlines and arranging our pieces on our templates. I had taken a china saucer that had belonged to my Grandma but had been cracked. I didn’t have the heart to throw it away so had kept it at the back of a cupboard until I figured out what to do with it…this was perfect! It took some guts to make the first break but once that was done it was really therapeutic breaking off little pieces to fit my pattern. Once the outlines were arrange we transferred them to a fresh template and glued them down with PVA glue. Then we filled arranged more tiles and glued them in place piece by piece.

Over coffee and cake we reviewed photos of our creations and looked at where the patterns didn’t match or could be improved. We could make changes until the glue had dried.

Lorraine’s workshop space was filled with inspiration, a rainbow of glass and China to choose from and plenty of pieces for reference. She talked to us about some of the work she had done and I was particularly taken with a commission of a sparrow she had made. I was surprised by how quickly the 3 hours passed by and towards the end I was worried I wasn’t going to finish my mosaic.

The PVA needs 24 hours to fully dry and so we were sent home with a little package containing grout, gloves, instructions and information about suppliers should we wish to continue with mosaic making ourselves. The next day I grouted my piece as instructed and I couldn’t be happier with the end result.

I think my Grandma would approve!

Lorraine’s website can be found here.

Learning new things – Glass Fusing

I’m in the middle weekend of two long weeks at home alone with Pookie while Leon is away on a training course. Before he left I told him I was jealous. I can’t remember the last time I learnt something new in a formal setting, let alone gained a qualification for it. And so, I’ve decided that I need to make an effort to try new things, develop things I already enjoy and hopefully acquire some new skills.

What better way to start it than taking my lovely Mam to a glass fusing workshop for her birthday. This hour long taster session took place in a transformed Miner’s Bath House which is now home to the shop and studio of glass artist Helen Grierson.

Me, my Mam, and five others sat around a large table in the studio as Helen introduced us all and allowed us to choose a template for our piece. It was supposed to be a Christmas themed workshop and so the templates were robins, Christmas trees or snowmen. However, not wanting to make something I’d have to put away in January, I chose the bird template and set about turning it into a swallow. My Mam did the same and chose to make a blue tit.

Helen showed us the supplies she had available; a whole rack of ‘frit’ in a rainbow of colours, a variety of shades of glass rods and dishes of cut glass she’d prepared for us in advance. Nothing was too much trouble as she cut individual pieces of coloured glass at anyone’s request, made us coffee, plied us with cake and gave handy hints and tips to help with our techniques.

After coating our templates in clear glue we carefully sprinkled, arranged and placed the different coloured glass onto our templates. They’d be fired in the kiln that evening and ready to pick up later in the week.

This was a great little workshop as a taster to glass fusing and actually very therapeutic. Helen took the opportunity to show us the amazing pieces that her customers had made on the half day and day long workshops she runs. It is certainly something I would consider in the future and I can’t wait to pick up our creations!

You can find out more about these workshops here http://www.helengrierson.co.uk

Easter 2017 – the Roecliffe Ramble

A lovely posh breakfast and a look around Boroughbridge started the day off quite nicely. Then it was off to Roecliffe a couple of minutes walk from the campsite for our first ‘hike’ with Pookie who all too often wants to be carried and really has little stamina for a decent walk. 

The route took us down a little grass lane past the church and across a field to the banks of the River Ure.

We followed the river through several fields, over stiles and bridges and into a bluebell wood, before re-emerging in a field of over-eager young cows. Pookie walked most of the way and impressed us with his stile climbing abilities. 

At the end of the cow field we reached the lock where boats bypass the river weir just west of Newby Hall. 

After a quick look we headed away from the river down a little farm track and picked up a main road back towards Roecliffe for a few minutes before again joining a bridleway away from the traffic. The walk back to Roecliffe was quiet and the pace a little quicker with Pookie on his Dad’s shoulders and we made it back in time for a pint in the sunshine outside The Crown and a little giggle at our not-so-impressive hike statistics. 

 After returning the dogs to Willamina and a quick change we were back to The Crown to sample their most delicious menu. 

Easter 2017

Our first trip away in 2017 has finally arrived. After having the caravan rewired for mains and 12V by our local mobile caravan man (J&J Mobile Caravan Services) we now have working tail lights and internal lights. Our Astra Estate has a new towbar and so it was my turn to drive.

I have to say, 5 hours later and I’m still feeling proud of myself having driven 82 miles without mishap and reversing into our pitch with the very helpful instruction of the Boroughbidge Camping and Caravanning Site warden.

Thursday afternoon was spent putting up the awning, having some lunch and then a nice gentle walk past some unloved vehicles to the village of Roecliffe for a quick pint in The Crown. 

On the way back we passed a lovely Little Library in a disused phone box and we took the liberty of borrowing a book titled Sam Sparrow. We’ll return it or replace it before we leave on Sunday. 

Tomorrow we’re off to the Harrogate RHS Flower Show. 

Willamina on Tour: The Shepherds Rest Campsite, Alnwick

Date: 1st September 2016

Location: Shepherds Rest Campsite, Alnwick Moor, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 2AHPrices: £22 per night + £2.50 for electric hook up
Total cost for our stay: £22.50
Our Stay: we stayed for one night in order to watch Robin Hood Prince of Thieves in the grounds of Alnwick Castle courtesy of the Luna Cinema – a truly magical experience! The little 5 van campsite a short walk (up a steep hill) from Alnwick town centre. It has one toilet and a shower (which we didn’t use so can’t comment on) which are both hiding in surprisingly well fitted out garden sheds accessed with a key we were given when we checked in. The pitches are clearly marked and each has a flagstone ‘driveway’. The site has tremendous views across the countryside and the Shepherds Rest pub is found at the entrance of the site. 

What we loved: the site is walking distance to Alnwick town centre which is steeped in history with plenty of little shops, pubs and restaurants. Nearby there’s Hulne Park to explore too (no dogs allowed unfortunately) and miles and miles of public footpaths. The fact that there was a pub on the site which served food daily was also a big plus (we didn’t eat there but did have a quick drink before we left). 
What could’ve made it even better: the site was a little run down and sad looking. Nothing that a few replanted planters, a quick tidy up and a little general maintenance couldn’t fix though. We thought it was a little overpriced compared to other sites with better facilities we’ve stayed on, but given that it’s the only site within walking distance of Alnwick, they have the monopoly on that one.

In summary: a great location to explore Alnwick and the surrounding Northumbrian countryside and a site with great potential of only it was given a little TLC. Would we go back…I’m sure we would!