On Saturday my friend and I to Yarndale, yeah baby! It was up in Skipton, Yorkshire (a truly beautiful place, Yorkshire not Skipton although it is a nice town). Expecting it to be ‘grim up north’ (we’re a pair of southern softies) we were overwhelmed with not only the beautiful countryside but the wonderfully friendly people. From the taxi driver who collected us (his wife is a midwife, they love Nissan qashqais but not golfs) to the waiter at the Chinese restaurant (he likes all types of melon, watermelon, honeydew etc etc) and the waitresses at our favourite cafe in Skipton (Coopers Cafe – had a scrumptious egg mayo baguette there) they were ridiculously friendly.

Yarndale was fab. Overwhelming but fab. The place chockablock with every kind of wool-related product you could possibly imagine. A lot of it was utterly mystifying – my friend and I felt like a pair of newbies. Once we got over the shock we got stuck in and both bought some yarn and I bought a felt ball making kit – why not.

This was sight that greeted you when you entered yarndale. Lucy had asked on her Attic24 blog for people to send in bunting to put up at yarndale. This was about 90% of it, there were other strings hung up outside and in and around.

This was sight that greeted you when you entered yarndale. Lucy had asked on her Attic24 blog for people to send in bunting to put up at yarndale. This was about 90% of it, there were other strings hung up outside and in and around.

A yarn stall my friend was particularly smitten with

A yarn stall my friend was particularly smitten with

Please excuse the crumminess of both photos, they were just snapped from my phone.

Of course the highlight was meeting Lucy. We found her in the centre of yarndale in a sort of log cabin seating area. My friend noticed her first in a crowd of people and nudged me and did the ‘pointing with her eyes thing’. We were too shy to say anything though so shuffled off to have a sit down. After ten minutes of contemplating and watching other eejits going over and gushing at her (some even had their photos taken with her (although very britishly we decided that was a step too far) we decided we would have to say something.

So we queued behind another dare-I-say-it ‘fan’ and waited. Of course she was delightful. We gushed a bit, asked advice on how to set up a knit and natter group locally (apparently the key is turning knitters to the dark side). We left, pleased we had conducted ourselves sensibly. However, on relaying our conversation later to our respective husbands we were told we sounded like a sketch from ‘Miranda’. Harrumph. All I’ll say is this, I think might have touched her sleeve (glances down at unwashed hand) – make of that what you will. 





Go Ape – fun or insanity?

NB: the photos in this post are examples of go-ape, not my beleaguered colleagues, thanks google.

So this week, my new boss decided that we’d have a team bonding’ day. Being young (one year younger than me…so VERY young) and fit he suggested Go-Ape.
Cunning as a fox he put the sign up in the break room months before the event when we were cushioned by the long time period between then and the event and so, like lemmings off a cliff, we signed up.

We arrived in the morning with bags of picnic food (homemade cakes etc) – if you are interested I made a rather dashing tin of homemade sausage rolls (one sheet of ready made puff pastry, one pack of sausage meat with few generous spoonfuls of apple, mango and chilli chutney mixed in, spread on pastry, roll up, cut, bake, stand and soak up praise of colleagues) ready for a post event feast. The mood was cheerful but with an undercurrent of terror.

For those who are not aware of GoApe, it’s a sort of giant set of playground equipment for adults (rope bridges, zip wires etc) set up in the trees. Oh fun! I hear you thinking. When I so blithely say ‘up in the trees’ I mean UP, UP, UP where the air is clear, up to the atmosphere, let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring… sorry, I got all Poppins on your ass there. It is, the info on the website informs me, up to 47 feet in the air.
47 feet. Digest that folks. The average two storey house is 25 feet.

It's beauty belies the tears, sweat and possibly the odd drop of urine with which it is soaked

It’s beauty belies the tears, sweat and possibly the odd drop of urine with which it is soaked

Our trainer was a dashing young man called Tom whose mum had let him out for a few hours. He showed us how to clip ourselves on and off the safety wires. Yes, possibly the most terrifying thing about the whole experience is that YOU are in charge of your safety. There is NO rufty tufty outdoor person checking your clips at every turn. You are expected, with 10 mins of training, to clip yourself to wires nearly 50 ft in the air and then step off platforms safe in the knowledge you won’t die a hideous death.

Bear with me reader, I’ve just had to have a cup of tea to calm my nerves.


There are 36 ‘crossings’ of various degrees of difficulty. From walking through a v-shaped net thing (not bad) to stepping from swinging plank to swinging plank (grim) to shimmying crab-style across a teeny weeny wire whilst holding on to another teeny weeny wire over your head (which you are clipped to) across a concrete bedded valley of certain doom (the road).

It was hot the day we did it. There was a lot of sweat, some comments about the desire for tena lady but bar one, we made it. For most of the time you aren’t with your group as only one person can cross at a time so you just plough on although there is a bit of shouting across the trees, ‘you’re not going to like this one’, ‘fgs don’t grab the cargo net first time after the Tarzan swing or the rope hits you in the face’, ‘my eye, oh my eye’ etc.

At two points of the course there were two options – a harder and easier to choose from. A male colleague who had previously been leaping up and down things like a sodding mountain goat went across this thing (the harder option)…

Not my colleague but another poor fool.

Not my colleague but another poor fool.

I hadn’t seen him start across it but when I looked back over he was dangling almost upside down, tangled up with a look of dead spider to him. After extensive puffing and swinging and lurching he managed to grasp hold of the platform. Looking back at me he (pointlessly) shouted ‘don’t come this way Spots’. No shit Sherlock. The easy route was the wusses choice (although no picnic itself) but no need to humiliate myself.

So the last bit was the 550 ft zip wire I mentioned. Once you got over the gut-wrenching insanity of stepping off a tree with only a wire and two clips between life and you becoming a human shish kebab it was actually really good fun. As we reached the end of the zip wire our group had started to accumulate and was whooping and cheering each other on. Some landed gracefully, most of us skidded to a halt on our arses leaving a trail in the bark where we had landed (some, a mere hint of where they had been, others – me- something to rival the ngorongoro crater).

Were we bonded? Actually, the last 1/2 hour where we were gathered at the bottom of the zip wire, swapping tales of terror and whooping on colleagues we were. I know I was astonished I’d made it and proud of myself (how often, as adults, do we feel that way?)

Would I do it again? Well I have two children so I clearly have the mental capacity to wipe out trauma enough effectively enough to repeat the same thing again (the birth not their existence, I’m really rather fond of them). So maybe. A long way down the line. Maybe, but probably not.


GBBO week 3

‘I got star baker last week so it can only go down from here’ drones Ruby.

The start of a not terribly thrilling episode.

How old is Deborah? Oh poor, tiny, thieving Deborah. Bless her frantic scurrying trying to find Howard a spoon to dish out the ill-fated custard.
I thought Howard took it all with very good grace. I loved the clip of him jogging, somehow I knew he would jog like that. I can’t jog more than 30 seconds without wheezing and stopping for cake so I’m impressed by anyone who voluntarily puts themselves through that though.

Rob was out of his league and he knew it. Hats off for taking it with such good grace.

Welsh lady – those teeny weeny macaroons were a triumph.

I’m not a fan of trifle (Cold custard. No. It’s bad enough hot.) and that floating meringue thing looked wrong. I love the petit fours but really, on principle, I’m with the adorable Glen. There’s no such thing as a cake which is TOO big.

So bring on the pies. They looked amazing.


Great British Bake off 2013 Week 2

Dust off the bread machines! I love my bread maker but am guilty of getting in a rut with it, pizza dough and pitta dough seem to be its only functions the last few months. NO MORE!


Oh those bread sticks looked glorious and although messy haired Lucy was the inevitable loser with her tomato bread – it looked scrumptious. Since we have a glut of tomatoes in our greenhouse (virtually our only veg success this year, due to enthusiasm for planting but absolute loathing of weeding) I will be making that this weekend.

On a very shallow note, I really liked Beca’s outfit this week, the bright blue with the yellow – lovely. I’m not afraid of a bit of children’s TV presenter colours m’self (no seriously, I’m trying to be nice).

A message for Frances – gawd love you, you have a flair for the imaginative but it’s a baking programme. Squirrels in cakes fine, props stolen from the borrowers, no.

Let us out Frances, you can keep the ruddy matches

Ruby, oh Ruby. Firstly, she was lucky to get star baker even though she was much improved. In my opinion Kimberly was robbed.
Really my issue with Ruby is she’s so damn miserable. She’s like the student version of Marvin the paranoid Android. ‘I’m so happy’ she says. We’ll have to take your word for it love because no-one’s told your face or your tone of voice.

Perhaps I am being cruel but I say this.
Find your joy Ruby, find your joy.


A happy hooker


, ,

I’m a hooker. In the crochet sense of the word.

I relatively recently (about 2 years ago) started crocheting and I love it. Knitting is too hard. Two small metal sticks to control at once is beyond my limited co-ordination skills. Don’t even talk about the evening I spent cursing and tantruming trying to master knitting in the round. Nigh on impossible I tell you.

Back to crochet. I have a good friend who also crochets and we like to get together once a week to gossip and crochet. Originally (before our other friends became too busy) we were a ‘sewing’ group. However, in the absence of bus passes, we have re-named ourselves. We’re now, Yo! Cro. Largely because it was deemed the most appalling by my friend’s teenage son.


An elephant I made which, according to my hairdresser, could ‘frighten a baby’

(Pattern from http://jammadestudio.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/crochet_15.html)

I have mentioned Attic 24’s blog before. DON’T go there until you’ve finished reading. Its dazzling beauty will inspire an instant urge to grab a crochet hook and head ‘up north’ (and stop reading this blog).

Lucy – author of Attic24, is something of a hero to myself and my crochet friend. We chat about her as if she is our friend.

“I’m not sure how to finish this blanket”

“Oh I’m sure Lucy mentioned an easy edging, have a look”.

“Lucy always has a solution!”

(Wistful gazes into the distance)

This year, we are planning a trip to Yarndale – a festival of creativity and craft. We might meet Lucy. This is the middle aged equivalent to a backstage pass to One Direction. I must get my Lucy tattoo finished before I go…


The Great British Bake Off 2013

So, it begins.

Week 1

Tragically, this year, my children have discovered a new found interest in the bake off and are insisting on watching with us. We managed to fob them off last week (they watched the next day) and thankfully the beginning of school will put and end to us needing to find excuses. Why so cruel…

Because*, my husband and I adore the bake off. We like to slurp tea and drool over the cakes/biscuits/bread. We love to bitch about the contestants – stop crying Ruby, stop giggling like an eejit Toby (although all forgiven, we love you so much for the salt/sugar debacle – making Hollywood spit in the first episode, hats off to you sir, hats off).
Everyone – stop cutting yourself, you loons. Never has the bake off fielded such a bunch of disaster riddled individuals.
Scientist chap – whilst we are in awe of your striped cigarello we fear for your sanity in the weeks to come. No-one can stay that calm.
Squirrel lady – you have just the right mix of crazy and skill. How will you make bread whimsical though (and will I ever understand the word whimsical?)
Messy hair girl – sort it out. At the moment, you’re getting away with it by virtue of reminding us of Miranda Richardson but we can only take your artful disarray for so long.
Welsh Lady – we like you because you remind us of our friend Mari (spurious).

Next week, I will learn their names I promise.

Most importantly, can Sue surpass the ‘bun loving criminals’ pun from last year. Ye Gods Sue, I hope you can do it.

Bring on the bread.


*just testing out starting a sentence with ‘because’ – it still hurts as much as text speak but I can do it. Pah to years of being told not to.

Popping my blog cherry (I’m lying)

So, here it is. My (nearly) very first blog post. Actually, a few years ago I started a terminally dull blog tracking the progress of the building work we were having done our house. Thankfully no-one read it.

This time I aim to be Tim Minchingly witty, Attic 24ingly appealing (shout out to the crochet nerds) and highly topical.

Actually scrap the topical, that would mean paying more attention to the news than clicking on the bbc news app once a day and surfing the column of shame on the daily mail website. Curse you mumsnet for the juicy links. Of course when the message pops on my iPad saying ‘you’re on the daily mail website, you right wing, brainless, woman hater, would you like our app?’ – I’m always scandalised. I don’t want your app, I don’t read the daily mail! Except once I’m there I do. Ironically though, and with a healthy amount of self-loathing so that’s ok.

What I would like to create is one of those gloriously coloured, inspiringly photographed blogs full of my latest crafting creations and achingly tender photographs of my children enjoying outdoor pursuits. I am hampered by utter idleness, a gift for imitation rather than creation and the camera skills of a chimp. I do have children though.

I am a knocking-on-the-door-of-40 yr old mother of two children. I work part time, two (sometimes three) days a week and spend the rest of my time crocheting, baking, watching tv – oh yes I do. No use pretending I don’t, I bloody love tv. And no, not Newsnight and worthy documentaries. I like Modern Family, Nashville, 24 hours in A and E, endless friends re-runs, Everybody Loves Raymond, New Girl and West Wing. At the moment the top show in my household is The Great British Bake off. Oh the bake off, happy, happy days. Mel and Sue I love you. Mary, I also love you and your questionable dress sense. Hollywood. No. Tone down the hair gel and grovel publicly to your wife and I might reconsider.

I love reading (but don’t do enough of it). I like walking (ditto). I’m also overly fond of brackets (apologies).

So that’s it.

Thanks for reading the first page.