Monthly Archives: September 2012

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Sheepie Socks

Sheesh! I meant to post yesterday, but by the time I got home from work, ate dinner, and went to visit MeMum and BigDaddy, the evening was over.  Then tonight, we went to a movie (Trouble with the Curve — cute movie!) and when we got home we had to deal with a little credit card fraud.  (Apparently, I’ve lost my card and whoever found it went on a little 5 digit spending spree.)

Anyway, there’s been actual knitting around here! With the help of a little airplane time on the recent Scotland trip, I managed to finish my Flock Socks. Or, as I call them, my Sheepie Socks. They’re a little loose, but I love them.

Sheepie Sock

I knit them so that the sheepies would show through the “window” of my shoes.  (Pardon those need-to-be-polished scruffy shoes.)

Sheepie Sock

I purchased the yarn at our fab local yarn shop, which has a website.  They also have the link to the pattern.  The sheepies had fun strolling through the grass.

Sheepie Sock

Too bad I didn’t finish them up on the trip, they could have had a little stroll with real sheepies.

And just because, I’ll leave you with a Zinnia shot. My inaugural zinnias have been beautiful and I’ll definitely be growing them again.

Zinnia

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back…oh, probably Monday with the winner of the Brit Bunny Pincushion. (There’s still time to enter the drawing if you’re interested.)
XOXO,
Anna

Our Day with Mr. Nevis

Boy, thanks for all of your fun comments about our UK trip.  I promise, this will be the last of it, and then we’ll try and get back to some regular posts around here.  (Although, the weather is changing around here, and when that happens, I go more into planning mode than actual doing mode, so not much exciting is happening around here.)

As I mentioned before, we had one day that didn’t exactly go as planned.  One thing I really wanted to do on a visit to Scotland, was hike Ben Nevis — after all, 100,00 people a year can’t be wrong, can they?  It’s the highest mountain in the UK and I thought it would be fun to make the hike and check out the gorgeous views.  The hike was planned for our last day in Scotland and it’s estimated to take 8 – 9 hours, so I knew we needed to get an early start.  At the end of the hike, we had to drive 3 hours to be able to spend the night near the airport to fly out the next day.  The afternoon before our hike, we went to the visitors center so that we would know where we needed to be the next morning.  I asked the people at the desk what the forecast was for the next day.  She said not as rainy but the winds were predicted to be pretty high.  I thought Great! and made some stupid comment about “What’s a little wind — as long as it’s not rainy.”  They were probably laughing hysterically as we left and thinking poor, dumb American tourists.

Anyway, we hit the trail, bright and early the next morning.  Awww, look at SweetiePie — doesn’t she look happy?  We’d been hiking for about 45 minutes and the drizzly rain had stopped.  We took that as a good sign.  It was a little breezy though (it’s hard to tell, but the wisps of SweetiePie’s hair give it away.)

Hike Ben Nevis

At this point, we’re getting a little higher.  I commented to SweetiePie, “Look how quickly and easily we can gain some altitude.”  Ha.

Hike Ben Nevis

Onward and upward.  Those rocks are fun on the way up.  Not so much on the way down.

Hike Ben Nevis

Shortly after that little break in the drizzle, it started to pour.  And the wind came with it.  Oh that sweet little wind that I thought would be no problem.  Fighting the wind made the climb seem twice as hard.  After about 2 1/2 hours, we passed a couple coming back down.  I asked them if they’d been to the top already and they said no, they decided to turn around.  Hmmm, that’s kind of sad, I’m thinking.  Then about 30 minutes later (and a LOT more wind and rain) the family of five that had been behind us split up.  The mother and the youngest little boy turned around, the father and the two older boys (only about 8 and 10) continued on.  I knew that they had been on this hike before, the fact that they turned around should probably have been a clue.  We hiked on.  The thing about Scottish weather is, that it changes every 15 minutes.  Shortly after the family split up, the sun came out.  And then, I saw sheep on the mountain.  Sheepies!  NOW we’re talking.  We’re soaking wet, the wind is howling, and the temperature is dropping, but there are sheepies.  It MUST be worth continuing, right???  (You can see the trail where we’d already been in the picture below.)

Hike Ben Nevis

So, higher, we go.  Notice, the sheep are gone.  And so is the sun.  At this point, I’m managing to stay a little ahead of SweetiePie.  And while we’re on this little sun-just-went-in break, lets take a minute to talk about our attire.  We had layers of shirts and jackets and then we each had a big poncho thingy to keep us dry.  And jeans.  Funny thing, the sign at the visitor center recommended no jeans.  I just chuckled and said, but we’re tourists and jeans is all we have.  We were SO unprepared.  Those “tarps” were worthless in the wind.  Therefore we both ended up mostly wet.  Soaking wet jeans are No. Fun.  But hey — the view is getting pretty good up here — when the clouds part.  See SweetiePie back there with her plastic poncho?  And uncovered head?

Hike Ben Nevis

That didn’t last very much longer, as the temps were dropping.  Luckily, we had both bought souvenir hats and mittens the day before, so we busted them out.  At this point, we passed a couple who had been to the top and asked them how much longer.  They said about 45 minutes and it was really cold at the top.  They sort of eyed our attire and hopefully said, “Be Careful!”.  We talked about turning around, but thought, it really couldn’t get any worse, could it?  The wind and rain were awful, but couldn’t we stand 45 more minutes of this?  WE are continuing on! That little comment about things getting worse, probably shouldn’t have been uttered by either of us.  As they say, all hell broke loose and it started sleeting, and WIND-ING and visibility dropped.  (Please notice the fine hikers below.  They were properly dressed, had a walking stick, and were clearly not clueless like us.)

Hike Ben Nevis

Moving right along, we kept climbing.  About 30 minutes later we passed another couple and asked “how much farther”.  “About 30 minutes, depending on your pace”.  I also asked them if there was a shelter on top — I envisioned a little place where we could hide from the wind, have a little snack and catch our breath.  No shelter — just a wall from some ruins and a lot of sleet and ice.  We hiked on a little longer, but by now, my pace resembled that of a snail.  My legs were so wet and cold they were barely working.  SweetiePie asked me again if I wanted to turn around.  “I” didn’t want to be the one to say “yes”, so she finally put me out of my misery and said it.  Only 30 minutes from the top and we threw in the white flag.  But, before we turned around, we had to take a few pictures.  See?  We were higher than the other mountains.

Hike Ben Nevis

We’d just barely started back down and that blasted sun came back out!  Arrrgggghhhh.  This is a forced smile, I’ll have you know.  And notice the billowing poncho — the wind had let up at this point, but it was still blowing.

Hike Ben Nevis

At least it cleared up enough to take a few pictures.  We thought it might stay this way, but we were Oh. So. Wrong.  Winds and sleet, just as bad as before, all the way down.

Hike Ben Nevis

And Ha!  Look at SweetiePie.  She can’t get out of here fast enough LOL.

Hike Ben Nevis

Sadly, she’d hurt her knee on the way up, so it wasn’t easy getting back down. It took another 3 1/2 hours to make it back to the car.  Notice that plastic poncho is gone — we finally gave up fighting them in the wind.  Wool mittens and hats aren’t very exciting when they’re wet.  And they’re smelly.  Ewww.

Finally, almost at the end.  You can’t really tell it, but it’s still raining.

Hike Ben Nevis

When we got back to the car, we went back to the visitor center to change out of our wet clothes.  I asked the people at the desk if they’d been laughing at me the day before.  She said the winds had been 70 mph in the valley, so they estimated that they were 80 – 90 mph up on the mountain.  No Kidding!  F1 tornadoes are 90 mph.  We both got knocked over by the wind at least twice up there.  We were probably lucky we didn’t get blown of the mountain.  If there hadn’t been so many other stupid people up there, we seriously would have feared for our safety.

And really, I’m probably just lucky SweetiePie didn’t push me over a cliff for getting her into that mess.  She definitely deserves some sort of reward for putting up with my little folly.  After it was all over, I started analyzing what we’d done wrong.  “But, SweetiePie, if we’d just ….” implying that we should try again sometime.  She made some disparaging remarks as to my sanity.  But, you know what?  It’s just like childbirth.  You forget how awful it was.  By the time I get back over there, I’ll probably be too old to attempt it again, but for SweetiePie?  You never know!  (Although, at the height of our misery, we both agreed that TheFirstChild would not be likely to make that hike, so she’s going to have to find some other adventurous soul!)

Whew!  Sorry to ramble on.  It was a grand adventure — someday when she’s a grandma, she can tell her grandchildren about that crazy thing she did with their great-grandma.  Thanks for sticking with all my travel posts.  How ’bout a  giveaway?  A little British bunny pincushion, perhaps?

Bunny Pincushion

You know the drill — leave a comment and we’ll do the RandomManoftheHouse generator in a week — Sunday, September 30 (wow, the end of the month already!)

XOXO,
Anna

My London Top Five

Ok Boys and Girls.  I’m back to entertain you with my favorites from London. (If you’re allergic to long posts or you’re a London expert, you’re dismissed.  ;-)  )  This was SweetiePie’s first trip to London, but I’ve been there on other trips.  Each trip has different favorites.

One. Cathedrals.

SweetiePie and I loved visiting the Abbey ruins in Scotland, so it was fun to see one that wasn’t ruined. Westminster Abbey is the cream of the crop and it’s always a favorite.

London

We also went to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

London

We climbed the 528 stairs to the top, which, for reasons I’ll explain later wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

London

The views were worth it though. A 360-degree view of London. We looked out…

London

and down. Very fun!

London

Two. Buntings.

What a fabulous time to visit London!  She was dressed in her finest and it was so fun to see buntings at every turn.

London

There were Union Jack buntings and Olympic buntings.

London

We even found a fun little knitted bunting while we were shopping.

London

Three. The London Eye.

The first time I saw The Eye, I REALLY didn’t like it.  I felt like it ruined London’s historical skyline.

London

But I’ve come around.  I’ve warmed up to it and now it’s one of those iconic structures that says you’re in London.

London

This was my first ride on The Eye and it was really fun.

London

Besides, it looks cool at night.

London

So, I’ve embraced The Eye. Not sure that will ever happen with the Shard though. Not really a fan.

London

Four. The Gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

SweetiePie and I LOVED Hampton Court Palace. In spite of the fact that we lost each other for almost 2 hours, which was a little nerve-wracking.

London

My favorite part was the gardens. There were a ton of different gardens — I’ll spare you all the pictures and show you two of my favorites.

London

You couldn’t walk around in this one below.  Look, but don’t touch.

London

Unfortunately, a few days later, I realized I missed one of the big reasons I wanted to go to Hampton Court Palace. The Royal School of Needlework! If only I’d checked my notes that morning! I didn’t even see any signs. Have any of you ever been there? Is it actually in the Palace? Ah well, just another reason I have to go back, right?

Five. Portobello Road.

I had designated our last day in London as a shopping day. And luckily, it was a Saturday. We tried out Camden Market first but we didn’t stay around very long — not really our thing. Then we decided to see if Portobello Road was any better. We LOVED it! We had so much fun snooping around all the antique booths. It was really crowded though, so I didn’t drag my big camera out — these are iphone shots.  (This picture below was at the beginning of the long shopping street — not as crowded here.)

London

Naturally, we had to see if Hugh was in the vicinity.

London

And happily, there was a Hummingbird Bakery. Can’t pass up a cupcake!

London

Whew! Now you can breathe a big sigh of relief. We’re done with the travelogue. Thanks for indulging me!

Oh wait, I do have one day to tell you about that didn’t go exactly as planned. Maybe next time — and with a little reward for your time.
XOXO,
Anna

Five Other Things

Oops. We interrupt our regularly scheduled Top Five Things to bring you Five Other Very Important Things:

One.

Out to Sea has arrived in ThimbleannaLand!

Out to Sea

I was very well behaved and limited my choices to mostly stash building stripes. I LOVE a good stripe — especially when well placed on a binding. And Sarah Jane’s stripes are fantastic. I have red, blue, butter and raspberry. Plus that super cute little chevron — I couldn’t resist it in the “water” colorway. And look at that adorable map! I LOVE LOVE that map so we had to have some! I can’t wait to see what projects will start to appear using this super cute map.

Out to Sea

If you’re feeling the need for some stash builders or the map, you can find them HERE and they’re 20% off!

Two.

The Aurifil Block of the Month for September is up! It’s by Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side and it’s the pretty autumn leaves you see below. Go to the Aurifil blog to read more about Amy and get the free pattern. And don’t forget to add your blocks to the Aurifil flickr page — there’s a free Aurifil thread drawing each month!

Aurifil block

Three.

After a months-and-months-long dry spell of movies from Hollywood, I’m really looking forward to the next several months.
Anna Karenina:

Anna

Great Expectations:

GreatExpectations

On a different note, James Bond (Oh Mr. Craig…):

Skyfall

And, not a movie, but SOOO excited for Season 3 of Downton Abbey. Can’t wait to see the sparring between Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith. Here’s a little teaser:

Four.

I’ve been a long-time follower of Morgan Moore’s blog One More Moore. She’s starting a new venture via kickstarter. If the The World’s Best Apple Pie/Crumble/Crisp recipe that she has just shared is any indication, she’ll be wonderfully successful. Go check it out HERE.

Five.

Earlier today, I pinned this cute little cork baby on Pinterest.

CorkBaby

And then Ali made a comment(Thanks Ali!) that it linked to a nasty, nasty website so I immediately deleted it. After a little searching, I found a real link for it and re-pinned it. I suppose every single link should be checked out, but who has the time for all that click-through? It makes me REALLY mad when creeps hi-jack the good things on the internet.

And with that, have a good weekend!
XOXO,
Anna

My Scotland Top Five

Well Hello There. Here we (and by we I mean you and me) are … we’ve just had a nice dinner (it was Shepherd’s Pie of course!) and now we’re going to go into the family room where I can bore you with a few of my trip pictures. I took a ton of shots. They’re all my favorites, but just so that you don’t have to be here until 3 a.m., I picked five favorite topics about Scotland. You know, just in case you might be planning a trip in the future. Hurry and make your excuses now if you have to leave — I know, you might need to go and clean your toilets!

So, here we go, in no particular order …

One. Applecross.

Or, rather, the drive to Applecross. When TheManoftheHouse and I were in Scotland 4 years ago, a camera club from England was staying in our hotel and each evening, they would tell us about the cool place they’d been that day. One day, we followed their tip and had a fantastic little Highland adventure.  The last night we were there, they said “You must take the drive to Applecross” but we were leaving the next morning, so I took a mental note and promised myself that I’d do it on my next trip to the Highlands.  I’d heard stories about this drive — it’s all single track roads with “hairpin” turns. One travel book referred to it as a “white-knuckle” drive.   I was actually worried about driving it — I was driving on the wrong side of the road, the wrong side of the car and shifting on the wrong side of the car, after all.  This sign at the beginning of the drive didn’t instill much confidence either, and we came really close to taking the alternate low level route.

Scotland

But Oh MY!  Am I ever glad we took the leap.  The drive wasn’t that bad at all — I wouldn’t really even call the turns “hairpin” and I don’t think either of us had white knuckles.  The views along the route were stunning.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Scotland

There’s no way any picture could do justice to the views.  We were really lucky and it was a beautiful day (which means spotty drizzle here and there LOL.)  The drive to Applecross is a must if you visit the Highlands, imho!

Scotland

Two The Highlands.

Ok fine.  This is a broad category, but the bottom line is that no trip to Scotland is complete without a visit to the Highlands.  The beauty will take your breath away.  I can’t think of anything that could convey just how gorgeous it really is — maaaayybbeeee an IMAX movie with swooping helicopters, but probably not.

Scotland

You get mountains AND the sea.

Scotland

And Sheepies!  (Ok, you get sheepies in the rest of the UK too, but they’re extra special in the Highlands.  ;-D )

Scotland

ThreeHeather.

You may have noticed a little purple in the sheepie shot above.  That’s Scottish heather and it’s everywhere and it’s gorgeous!  It was in full bloom.  My other trips to Scotland have been in late October, so the heather was a burnt orange.

Scotland

I had no idea it could be so fabulous.  Entire mountains were Purple.  WOW!

Scotland

Even the sheepies love it.  I think they eat it.  Yum.  Yum.

Scotland

FourFishing Villages.

There are so many pretty little villages in Scotland — it made me want to cry!

Scotland

When our original plans changed and we didn’t stay as long in Edinburgh, I booked a little bed and breakfast in Eyemouth.  The owner of the Bed and Breakfast we stayed in was talking to us and she told us a teeny bit about the history of Eyemouth.  She mentioned a fishing disaster that occurred in October of 1881.  She said that a large number of fishermen got caught out in a surprise storm and there were almost two hundred fatalities.  She told us about a statue in the middle of the little village that was recently commissioned to commemorate the women and children who were left by the disaster.  Here they are — looking out to sea and grieving for their lost fishermen husbands and fathers.

Scotland

I love all these little villages.  They all have a story to tell and it seems like every place had some occurrence of historical significance.  I think it would be fun to visit Scotland again and just drive around all the coasts visiting fishing towns.  (Which would take a long time, btw.)

Scotland

FiveCastles.

Who doesn’t love a good castle?  This is Eilean Donan Castle — the classic castle that you see in many travel brochures and ads.

Scotland

We also visited Edinburgh, Stirling (look Isabelle — I spelled it correctly — in my defense, my parents grew up near a town called Sterling!), and Alnwick castles.  And Tantallon, a castle ruin pictured below.

Scotland

Tantallon was a last minute decision and surprisingly, it was one of our favorites.  We were free of the crowds that were everywhere this time of year.  I think it’s a best kept secret.  The setting is beautiful — it sits on a cliff looking out to the sea and it sits opposite Bass Rock which is also gorgeous.  Bass Rock is the home to a large colony of gannets — the white you see all over the rock are birds.  It even comes complete with a lighthouse — what more could you ask for?

Scotland

So, there you have my top five for Scotland. That last category is actually a segue so that I can tell you my top five for London next time. (I see you nodding off over there!) We visited three castles in London too (Windsor, Hampton Court and The Tower for those of you keeping track). Now you’re free to go think of a good excuse for the next time I invite you to dinner to see vacation photos!

XOXO,

Anna