Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Underground, overground, afloat and back in time!

Some time ago, Stuart mentioned he'd never really 'done the London tourist thing', so I craftily made a mental note to plan a surprise trip to the City one day.

Stuart taking in the London skyline

It was Stuart's 50th birthday earlier this year, so the perfect occasion to tuck tickets in his birthday card and spring my surprise day on him!

Magnificent Big Ben

After catching a train from Ebbsfleet to St Pancras and hopping onto a tube to Leicester Square, we began our day out by taking a lovely stroll along the Embankment in the April sunshine.

Southbank from the Embankment

Then we collected tickets from County Hall for the London Eye and a river cruise along the Thames ...

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Seeing the heart of London from the river was a real treat!  If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend booking a cruise and whatever the weather, sitting outside on the boat armed with a camera - it's a fabulous way to see the Thames and soak up some fascinating London history.

Tower Bridge

Stuart has always wanted to try out the London Eye, so despite my fear of heights I decided we'd give it a try and after queueing for a while, up, up, up, we went!


I think if you look closely you can probably see the terror in my eyes!

Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge from the London Eye

The views from the London Eye were well worth trying to overcome my vertigo though, they were absolutely amazing and I think on a clear day you probably really can see forever!


Having seen the Houses of Parliament from the River and 450ft in the air (!) we then took a stroll on foot to see the rest of Westminster ...


It's a truly beautiful area to explore if you enjoy architecture, but all that walking sure works up an appetite!


After a slight hitch when we discovered the tube we needed wasn't working and after a subsequent long hike along The Strand towards Blackfriars Bridge, we finally gave up walking and hailed a black cab to take us on the last leg of our journey to The Tower of London.


Stepping through Edward I's magnificent entrance was just like stepping back through time; as Stuart loves medieval history, naturally no birthday visit to London would have been complete without a visit to 'The Bloody Tower' to inspect gruesome instruments of torture ... it seems boys will always be boys!  I, on the other hand, much preferred to ogle the Crown Jewels - sparkles are far more my thing!


We thoroughly enjoyed being tourists in London, rounding off our day footsore and weary, with a delicious pizza in Villiers Street's 'Fratelli la Bufala' before heading back to St Pancras International to let the train take the strain back home to Kent.

Monday, 28 April 2014

A quick nosey ..

My bear-making has been a bit 'stop/start' lately, but between training and exercising Polly, knitting for my new grandchild and a hundred and one other tasks that seem to claim my time, I have gradually been pulling together three lovely new big bears for the 'Teddy Bear Hollow' shop in Loughborough ... 


I know it's not much of a preview, but until I've photographed each of the bears properly for the shop, this nose is about the most I can share with you.  More pics very soon ... that's a promise!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Priceless!

There are some surprises which come right out of the blue and are absolutely priceless ... 

Anthony and his Hannah

The excitement on my son's face when he gave me his news ... 'I'm gonna be a daddy', was one such surprise!

Time for some baby knitting!

I couldn't be more delighted for Anthony and Hannah and am so thrilled I am going to be a brand new granny in time for Christmas this year!!!!  

Happy, happy, happy!!!!!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Doddington, a birthday treat!

I've had a busy weekend!  First, a lovely, unexpected visit from my son on Saturday which always makes me happy, then yesterday, a surprise birthday gathering with my sisters at beautiful Doddington Place Gardens near Sittingbourne in Kent, to celebrate our 'seventy-something-young' mum.

The five of us, with our mum

As we live spread wide across the South East of England and all have busy lives, gathering together to share a Sunday afternoon is no mean feat, so many thanks to Fiona and her fiance Simon for making this happen.

A variety of granddaughters and a great granddaughter

All in all, we scored one Grandmother, her five daughters, three of her five son-in-laws, five of her ten grandchildren, one great granddaughter, one grandson-in-law and four out of nine of the family dogs for this special get together ... 
not bad going eh?!

Mum's great granddaughter Ella, enjoying the daffodils

Doddington's gardens are absolutely beautiful; I can't begin to imagine how much work must have gone into their creation over many, many years to bring such magic to life.  Walking through the grand formal gardens transports you to a time usually only enjoyed in historical drama and at this time of year, the beds and lawns are bursting with primroses, camelias, daffodils, tulips, blossom trees and so on ... it's really is absolutely enchanting!

The dogs!
Left to right: Marley, Bugsy, Polly and cheeky little Jessie

These are dog friendly gardens, so rather than leave ours at home, we popped them on leads and brought them along to join in the fun.  Thankfully, they didn't disgrace us!


The younger grandchildren delighted in exploring the gardens; playing hide and seek through the trees, racing along woodland paths and spending the afternoon laughing together.


It was a lovely visit and the perfect place to bring us together to wish a 'Happy Birthday' to our mum and also to remind us all of how special it is to be part of a large family.


Below are a few of the many snaps I took of the gardens. 
I hope they capture the tranquility of this perfect 'English Country Garden' ...




There are many hidden treasures to discover in Doddington's gardens (not least of which are the home baked treats in the tea room!) so do visit if you are able ... I don't think you will be disappointed!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Knit one ..

A little raglan sleeved knitting project I've been working on.
I just need to hunt out a few more buttons, then it will be ready for someone to wear ...


I first taught myself to knit when I was expecting my daughter over thirty years ago and after all these years, still love to curl up in an armchair with my knitting needles of an evening ... makes me feel all cosy inside!

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