Sunday 29 August 2010

Saturday Morning Bike Ride

It was a long one on Saturday...

I set off at 07:30 after a long lie to 7am (woohoo!), intending to tick another destination off my" places to go" list - somewhere I've always fancied cycling to but haven't done so, yet...

A jolly sight is spotted a few miles after setting off - if you click on the above picture to enlarge it you will see the happy face on the top right bale bag.

I like the contrast of the golden field behind the bright red gate.

Distant Glasgow.

Another farm sign for the collection.

Soon I'll be heading past Formakin which we visited recently in the car. Here you can see one of the estate houses nestling amongst the trees.

Swallows on the wires, hopefully not ready to leave us just yet.

Passing another of the very attractive Formakin buildings. Above the centre arch is the 1694 DL carving.

A peaceful country road. At this stage I'm still on the borders of the Formakin Estate (note the distinctive stone gate posts). Shortly after this I pass through the village we used to live in before we moved to where we stay now.

Then I'm there...

... on top of the Erskine Bridge!

Every time I drive over this bridge (which I have done a couple of times recently to reach Wilkinsons!) I always think how I'd love to walk or cycle over it so that I could admire the view properly. Well, here it is (looking to the west), and it is indeed beautiful. It's also noisy on the bridge (it's a fast dual carriageway), and I'm wary of lingering too long at the edge as it's so high I do feel a bit giddy and worry foolishly that I'll drop my camera.

I had originally thought that once I was over the bridge I would just turn round and head back again towards home, but I decide instead to keep going.

There are actually very few suitable roads for cycling on the north side of the Clyde at this point (we're lucky on our side (the south) to have a large network of unclassified roads linking all the farms) so I make my way onto the cycle path along the Forth Clyde canal. As I've not been along it before I do make a few wrong turns...

...such as heading into the Bowling Basin, but I'm so glad I did. It's a pretty little spot for mooring boats with a couple of picnic areas and some excellent views over the Clyde.

Here is a view of the Erskine Bridge over which I have just cycled.

Squirrel bench.

These two lovely pieces of ceramic art were adorning some otherwise plain and ordinary concrete picnic benches.

I spot a sign nearby telling me that Loch Lomond is only 10 miles away. Hmm! As I've come this far I reckon I might as well keep going, we've no other plans for the days and I'm not needed back at the house just yet.

The route up to Loch Lomond is a cycle path along the river Leven, reasonably pleasant but not terribly exciting though at one point we do get to cycle through a field of cows (and cow pats).

Made it! This is the scene from the bridge in Balloch at the very southernmost tip of Loch Lomond. I carry on up to the country park to get some better views.

A little corner of Balloch castle (the rest of it isn't looking too pretty)

And a view over Loch Lomond.

Bike shot.

I do realise now that I need to cycle all that way back home again! I eat a couple of cereal bars from my stash and climb gingery back onto my bike and head back down the cycle path which now seems very bumpy. My bum, knees and feet are all starting to feel rather tender!

I'm all set to follow exactly the same route as I took on the way out as it is the shortest and most direct (without going along the motorway!). So I go back down the cycle path, along the canal, back over the bridge (on the east side this time, no photos - the west side is definitely more picturesque), and back along the country roads towards home. I start to feel rather hungry again, on pausing on the roadside to rummage through my bar bag I realise all my snacks are gone. Never mind, there's a big bramble bush right beside me with some lovely ripe berries ready to pick, yummy, a little tart but so tasty. I take a look at the map and spot a potential little detour, it'd be boring after all to follow exactly the same route back as I did out, so off I go for another little exploration. It's just a landrover track...

...but it has some lovely views...

...and some big puddles! There's enough space on the verge to get by so I keep my feet dry.

I don't get home till after 3pm. I'm aching all over and can't wait to get off the bike. I've done at least 50 miles, the furthest for a long time, and it definitely feels like it too!

I should be OK again for next Saturday though I'll plan a shorter route, perhaps. By the way, remember that next Saturday is also the closing date for my pass the book giveaway draw!

Friday 27 August 2010

Pass the Book Giveaway, Beautiful Skies, and a Bit More of The Blanket...

I'm a little late with passing on the book - that's because the dog ate it! Only kidding (we don't have a dog)...

Emma of Silver Pebble started this pass the book giveaway away back in June. I was the fortunate winner, as I mentioned here. I have read the book (Cranford), enjoyed it, have even bought the DVD to watch one wintry evening, and, now that I have found the book again (ahem!), I am ready to pass it on, along with a few other goodies.

Here is what is on offer...

First Prize
The Book - a lovely red pocket sized edition of Cranford for you to read and pass on.
Some birdy flowery stationery - pencil box, A5 hardback spiral bound notepad, sticky notes.
A couple of glassy things made by me - a glass glob fridge magnet and a glass bead bracelet.
I would have like to have made a leaded candleholder/suncatcher but I'm afraid I just don't have time at the moment and don't want to delay things even more. I will however make a batch of tablet so the pencil box will arrive filled with delicious buttery Scottish tablet (you need a sweet tooth to like it!).

First Runner Up
Tablet filled pencil box, small spiral bound birdy notebook, sticky notes

A Couple More Runners Up (the exact number depends on how much tablet I manage not to eat myself!)

If you're interested in participating, please have your own blog, and leave a comment on this post. The winners will be drawn from a hat, entries close midnight of Saturday 4th September. The winner reads the book and passes it on "along with a nice something or other. Some chocolate, some seeds or a small hand-made something will do very well indeed." Good Luck!

We are lucky to have quite an open outlook from the house looking Westwards and we've been having some lovely skies here lately.

Above is the sky yesterday afternoon...

...later that evening it developed into this beautiful sunset...

...and this morning (just before school) we had a gorgeous clear blue sky.

I like the sky contrasted with one of our two sheds (which I've almost finished painting!)

Tomorrow is to be nice again and my bike is ready - I can't wait to get back out on it again.

If you can bear it, here is yet another blanket update. Can you spot the difference between the next two photos?

I really didn't like one of the hexagons I'd added recently. To me it just looked so wrong. There are a few I'm not actually too keen on, but this particular one just kept leaping out at me. I've been joining as I go so it was fairly straightforward to remove the offending hexagon and replace it with a much less obtrusive one.

Here's a big clue as to which one was replaced...

I've also been adding some crochet photos to Flickr. I'm still very much a Flickr novice but I'm really enjoying finding out more about how it all works. I can spend ages browsing all the inspiring photos like-minded people have added. Whatever your style is you can easily find something you'll appreciate. Once you add photos, join a group which looks relevant and share - people are so generous with positive comments, it's quite motivating and inspiring! One thing I saw mentioned a few times is Flickr Explore. I didn't know what it was but this site (from BigHugeLabs) explains things and also helps you check whether any of your photos have made it. I tried it out...

... it seems to like my blanket close-ups!

BigHugeLabs is also what I use to make my photo mosaics. I edit my photos so that they're square, upload them to Flickr and put them in a set (usually I do a 3x3 mosaic, so 9 photos), I then use BigHugeLabs with the Flickr photoset option to select my photos and that's pretty much it. It's free too, it's also very addictive, you have been warned!

Sunday 22 August 2010

Crochet, Monkeys and Camping in the Garden.

No bike ride this weekend. This time it was due to mechanical issues - my chain snapped at the end of our outing last Sunday (fortunately within 1 mile of home) and my bike is still being fixed (and upgraded apparently too).

A's swimming lessons have started again so I had the place to myself on Saturday morning. I sneaked in a little more time on the blanket before going out to paint some more of the sheds. Yes, the blanket is still the same one...

Starting the outer round of an African flower...

...then joining as I go.

I think another three and a bit rows should do it. Then a border. Then the ends (arghhhh!)

On Saturday afternoon we then visited somewhere I've been meaning to go all summer. I first mentioned it in this post (gosh, hadn't realised it was so long ago!)

Doves wander about the car park. There is a £3 parking charge but the ticket machine isn't working at the moment, so now's the time to visit the Formakin Estate if you're in the area!

Fortunately we'd printed off the information guide as otherwise we wouldn't have had a clue where to go. To start off with you have to go through this closed and rather forbidding gate. There's a little door set within the big gate, A said it was like a doorway into fairyland (awww!)

Once on the other side the paths are relatively easy to follow. Fairly early on we pass these horses, the wee one's a bit nippy and bites the big one just after I've taken this photo.

Little monkey statues are dotted around pointing out the way to go (or quite often not as the guide tells you go in the opposite direction several times)

From the guide:
"Formakin’s buildings may look like they were built hundreds of years ago – the stable, opposite the car park entrance, even has the date “1694 DL” inscribed over the arch. But all is not what it seems… the letters DL mean Damned Lie. Everything was built between 1903 and 1913 for a wealthy Paisley stockbroker, John Holms. He and his well-known architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, seem to have had great fun designing the buildings – just look at the stone monkeys scampering about on the roof of the stable!
Unfortunately, Mr Holms’ money suddenly ran out before the buildings were completed. Work stopped so suddenly that workmen’s tools were still propped up where they left them in the half-finished Mansion House over 60 years later. Since the late 1970s, the buildings have gradually been completed and have all now been subdivided into private houses and apartments."

Much of the walk is through beautiful woodland, definitely somewhere to return in the Autumn once the leaves start turning.

Lovely mossy stone gate pillar. There were several of this style round the estate.

A stone monkey on the roof of one of the lodges.

The little door within the big gate.

That night I sleep in the tent in the garden with A. She enjoyed it so much (the best bit was "making shadow puppets with the torch") she's back in the tent now with her daddy for tonight. We'd promised we'd have a camping night during the summer and time was starting to run out. As we only have a 2-3 man tent there is not enough space for all of us at once (perhaps just as well - I dread to think how excited N would have been in it!). We are thinking of getting a bigger tent for future family holidays, if we do I'll also be purchasing a reasonably thick airbed!

Colourful leaf collection from a walk in the park earlier in the week.

Wednesday 18 August 2010


We didn't go to the beach after all. Monday was cool with overcast skies, Sunday's warmth and sunshine just a teasing hint of summer after all.

So instead we went shopping. Not clothes shopping (why would I - it's expensive, time consuming, reminds me I'm not the size I want to be...) but stationery shopping (Yes! cheap, quick and post baby tummy condition of no relevance). I'd spotted a lovely little set of drawers on Lavenderhouse's blog. I'd never even heard of Wilkinsons and assumed it was one of those seemingly fabulous shops that don't actually exist in Scotland (like Waitrose, though to be honest they do now have a couple of stores in Glasgow & Edinburgh). I digress, a quick check of the Wilkinson's store finder revelaed there to be a branch within 10 miles of us. The fact that A was starting school this week provided further justification for our pencil buying trip.

And here is my own little drawer box, plus a few other items from the range (and a lantern from poundland). Box £2.46, pack of 4 pencils 35p, notebook 97p and pencil tin 97p. I think I may go back and get some more! It also happens to be very close to where hubby works so perhaps we may make a lunch date too, would be nice!

The little owl notebook (55p) above was also from Wilkinsons, as were the cupcake erasers (to use the term acceptable to any US readers!). A's lovely new pencil case was made by Debbie from DinkyDaisy.

All was carefully loaded into her new packpack and on Tuesday she donned her new uniform and shoes and off she went to school for the first time. So far so good! She's enjoying it and didn't mind going back today.

Yeasterday evening I managed to get out for a walk. It was such a lovely evening and I just needed to get out for an hour or two to myself.

The moon has risen, see above right.

At about 9pm I tried to take a photo of the moon from the garden but it wasn't very good. Instead I like how this one of the agapanthus has turned out - the blues fairly shine out in the gloaming.

On to today, and a pea update. They're delicious! But we're having to share them with the jackdaws and magpies and they're being greedy. Next year we'll need to net them.


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