Friday, 30 March 2012

What to do when everything falls apart - whinge.

Sorry for the sparky post title but I just need a free-flow rant.

I am getting married in three weeks tomorrow.

I should be excited right?

Well I am not.

My original wedding was meant to be by the sea in Cornwall. It is near where I grew up and I loved it. But everyone complained about how far it was and how unfair to expect people to I changed that wedding plan completely. I changed it to a place near where we live. I like that place but it isn't in any way special like the other place. Not to worry, I can make it special with the music and the people I want there, right?


I had to invite tons more people than I wanted. I am not happy about that but it is what everyone else wants, so I smile and say ok and think, I can make that special by wearing something that makes me feel more comfortable and less nervous in front of all those people, right?

No, because of my stupid boobs. I have tried and bought three (cheap) dresses now and they all look awful. I have no dress..not to worry, I will find one in three weeks and my chest will somehow shrink in least I have a nice hen night to go to this weekend, right?

No. my hen night would've been nice but everyone (apart from two friends and mother and two sister-in-laws) has bailed on me. one is preggo and feels ill, one is working her first day at a new job, one is having her hair done for a wedding, one is having a sad family situation (that one is fair enough) and the other 9 people I invited didn't even bother to reply, not to the invite, the reminder nor the personal email. so, I cancelled it...never mind, I have my lovely wedding reception by the river to look forward to right?

No. because the venue I was going to have it in emailed me yesterday with THREE weeks left and told me they had to cancel.



So, I have no dress, no hen night, no anything I need for a wedding reception. No money as I have lost it all in deposits and can't change the dates..and a heavy heart.

Without being a total (excuse the language) selfish twat about it..why do these sort-of things always happen to me? I feel like I am being TESTED.

I know it could be worse, there are many more things in this world to be upset about and I know I am being selfish and pathetic and it doesn't matter and I WILL make it a nice day, I know all of that, it will be ok..BUT, just for now, in a really shallow, selfish way. I feel gutted, and sad, and friendless and let down.

WHAT THE EFF am I going to do?


rant over

Monday, 26 March 2012

Avebury Manor and Stones.

Date 2 of the year took us to Avebury in Wiltshire.

Avebury Manor

Firstly Can I say just what a stunning place Wiltshire is. Driving from West Berkshire to Wiltshire is just a pleasure.  It’s fairly pretty and country-ish here in West Berks but Wilshire is a knockout. It gets prettier and prettier each mile, rolling hills, trees and flowers. Then of course there are the awesome historical features such as the tumuli and hill forts. I like to just drift off in my head and imagine how these people lived and what they were like. Being someone who works with yarn a lot, I know that everything I have learnt over the years comes from the women who would’ve lived in places like this. Knitting and crochet are ancient skills and I can’t help but imagine what these women would’ve been like with their sheep and goats providing yarn for their clothes..anyway, back to Wiltshire..

Avebury manor was first introduced to me on a show called ‘The Manor Reborn’ which was shown on the BBC a few months back. I loved it. I love the tale of a run-down Tudor building about to be made good by a group of people who wanted it to be a National Trust house you can actually experience. Now, I LOVE National Trust houses. National Trust, I love you BUUUUTTTT

AND this is a BIG BUT…

I HATE that you are so un-willing to open your minds to your houses being an experience rather than uptight museums.

I understand how much work goes into making these houses stay exactly right, I understand the value of the artefacts in the houses and challenge is must be to keep them maintained to a certain standard but there is NOTHING more annoying than an uptight National Trust Volunteer tutting and telling you off as you brush NEAR a pot in a kitchen or a bed spread in a room!!!!


 I KNOW it is worth a lot, I KNOW not to sit on the chair! I wasn’t going to!! I was just walking past FFS!

Lanhydrock House in Cornwall is the best example of strict National Trust staff; I have almost been made to commit murder in the kitchen of that house because of the tutting and constant warnings of the staff…I am an adult, I want to visit and treat the houses with respect, I know not to touch or break or be a shit. Please leave me alone. Mostly they are great but I am SERIOUSLY put off by them a lot of the time and it stops me from re-visiting.
So when The Manor Reborn came out I was excited about the fact that it was an historical building that you could actually experience..without tutting!!

So as I was saying, the drive over was just lavish with detail and sunshine and lovely joyful joy.

We arrived at the car park of Avebury and were instantly surrounded by views of giant stones and hills, tumuli and nature. It was just stunning. I was so excited. I have never been up close to any of these historical stones and there were HUNDREDS, everywhere you looked there were stones, people hugging stones, people with dreds and beads and josticks kissing the stones! It was mad! Our little family gathered our picnic bag and put Baby F in his buggy and walked through the little alley way down to the house. As you round the corner to the Manor entrance it is like a dream. MY dream. In my dream land I live here and it is all mine, there are giant Shire Horses and ladies having picnics with knitting and crochet by the duck pond. Lovely handsome chaps with side burns and beards stroll about like Mr Darcy being all handsome in their johds and leather boots…

In reality there is a duck pond, a row of little cottages over-looking the pond and to the right some rather handsome barns with museums bits in them, a stone cottage which is a coffee shop filled to the brim with millionaire shortbread and cake. Right in front there are wooden picnic benches and a dove cote. It is just divine, then, just past the dovecote is an old stables turned into another museum and then, finally…the house. My heart just jumped out of my chest when I saw it, It is my dream house, my LOTTERY win house..arrrgh. LOVE!!!

We first walked into the museum and passed over our tickets to get in free. If you don’t have National Trust tickets it costs about £4 to get in per adult and I think a child is about £2 ish. Very good value as it goes. The stones are free to walk around.

The museum is interactive and very informative. Loads of fun things for the kids to do, and plenty for the adults too.
After the museum trip (O didn’t want to leave) we went over to the picnic benches and sat and ate some lovely sandwiches and kettle chips (our favourite naughty treat on picnics) before heading over to the dovecote to meet our guide for the day.

The dovecote is where you meet your NICE and HAPPY National Trust guide. It was our lady’s first day and she was great. She told us all about the house and then led us on our way down the lavender-lined walk to the front door where she left us to adventure on.

 Inside we walked into a STUNNING 1930s room. It was my dream room, my favourite era and it was exactly like stepping back in time. On the radio Winston Churchill was telling us about the outbreak of war and L and I sat down on a sofa and just listened to his words. It was very atmospheric in that room and I felt compelled to pour a glass of malt whiskey and mull over a paper..even though I hate whiskey and the marks a paper leaves on your fingers. I felt at home. It was a very strange feeling.  The Kids played in the room, Baby F found a stuffed teddy and his big brother, O was playing with the desk items, such as binoculars and an old film-camera.

                                                                        (isn't it yummy?)

From there we walked into a room with hand-painted wallpaper. I was painted in china in a traditional style. The room was beautiful but didn’t blow me away as much as the 30s room. It had a bit of an empty feeling and wasn’t registering much on my wow-radar.

On from there was the billiards room, a stunning example of a Gentleman’s favourite room, covered in taxidermy and photos of manly pursuits. It was a fabulous room. O and L played snooker and talked to some other people about how gorgeous the table was – it was a wonderful room. From under a chair somewhere came the sound of a purring cat, just homely.

Going back on ourselves we finally came to some stairs which we climbed and at the top the atmosphere began to change. I am not sure what it is with these old houses but I can FEEL the age of them. Upstairs it is very different. The guide told us the BBC had started to run out of money and although they had done a splendid job there was a noticeable difference in atmosphere, upstairs it felt like bare-bones of what the house REALLY was. I much preferred this.

We walked in to an odd little room which I feel was probably once a different space. It had very wobbly bendy old floors and a cupboard/priest hole area..that was it. We sat on the window seat and I felt very much like the wind had been knocked out of me. On from there we looked at the bedrooms, admired the bedding, the work that had gone in to it and the stunning work of the beds..the beds were old in places but also a very talented person had added to them to make them look older. Quite amazing.

                       (Here is Baby F rolling about in fits of giggles on the bed..he is really having the best time ever!)

The second of the bedrooms was incredible, a Queen Anne room, the boys took off their shoes and climbed on the bed and lay for ages talking to the guide about the era, the bedding, the views. Who had lived there, etc. O is never up for these places, he is ten, he hates history. He is always so bored, but not in this place. He LOVED it. Then suddenly, he jumped off the bed, put his shoes back on and vanished into the little room next door.

The little room has a secret door into the changing room next to it; O found this too much fun and wanted to show me. I went with him and had the strangest experience. I found myself having a sort-of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe experience, I felt like I had walked into another world. The air in this room was still, stuffy even. It felt oppressive and unhappy and I didn’t like it. It was (without me noticing) the only room I forgot to photograph. I hated it. As I walked on through to the room next to it, the yellow room a great sadness and heavy feeling came over me. I said out loud to L ‘god, the feeling in this room is totally different to everywhere else in the house’ and as I did the tour guide, a  nice man on a chair who I hadn’t even noticed until then said ‘it’s funny, you are the second person to say that today’ It gave me chills. I walked over and stood by the window and stared out at a gate in the garden. I felt like I was waiting for someone to come through it, felt sad and awful really. I asked L if he was ready to go and then the tour guide asked how I felt..I told him and he told me that a lady who had lived in the house was so depressed that her love died that she threw herself out of the exact window I was stood at. He also said that the man who had once owned the house had committed suicide in that room and was often seen stood exactly where L was stood. It was about enough for me and I walked out and went to sit back downstairs for a while.

The boys carried on with snooker as I de-spooked myself and then we went on to the kitchen which was FAB!!! I took loads of photos and by the time I had finished it was the end of their day and we had to go.

Such a magical place.

We popped over to the cottage for hot chocolate and millionaire shortbread and all shared our stories of what we liked best and if we wanted to go back another day. We all decided we did and nobody had a bad word to say, even Baby F who was snoring along with great fury!

After we left Avebury manor we took a quick turn around the gardens before heading to the stones..the boys were flagging a bit now and so we decided to just walk up one row and then back then head to the car. It is just incredible. There are no words to describe them, their height, and their overall impression. It’s just crazy!

So after a rather long and wafty story about Avebury Manor I must say it is worth the visit. It has ghosts and spooky feelings for those who like that sort of thing. It has cool design and beautiful features. It has the views, the gardens, the handmade craft items. It is just educational, beautiful, fun and the guides are just awesome, all friendly and fun and helpful. Willing to give out loads of info and don’t mind you freaking them out by being upset by a room for no reason! Haha. The entry price is reasonable and the coffee shop is DEFINITELY worth a look in. Gorgeous food, seating and views. It’s wonderful. Also, if you are disabled there are toilets within easy reach and if you cannot get up the stairs to see the rooms they have built a room just for you so you can watch videos and have talks about them. It’s just wonderful. Please go, enjoy the stones and the museum and the duck pond and keep your eyes peeled for a handsome Mr Darcy type - it’s said that the sad young lady ghost lost her fella who wore a beard, she finds men in the ground who have beards, spins them around to see if they are her man, and when they are not..she just vanishes.  Perhaps you will find him for her.


Pitt Rivers Museum - Oxford.

As mentioned in my last blog, I have been massively slack about writing up my dates of the year. Really I wanted to write them up for my own memory, not for anyone else but perhaps you might read them and decide to visit so it is kind-of for you too. :D

I had visited Pitt Rivers a few times in the past and always loved it. It is a amazing place quite literally bursting at the seams with everything you can possibly imagine, from shrunken heads to totem poles, costumes to boats, it is amazing.

If you have ever been to Oxford then you will know it is already a pretty amazing place, the architecture is stunning, there are people of all sorts darting under you, in front of you, whooshing past you on bikes! Cameras everywhere you turn and interesting shops,, it is just an experience. So when you (as we did) drive up to Pitt Rivers Museum the first thing you notice are the ENORMOUS tree stumps (when I say stumps I mean what we could call a whole tree) that have been brought from all over the world and put on display outside the museum. If this isn’t enough to get you leaping from your car/running towards the museum then there is the building itself, it’s beautiful. L and I had to find a car parking space though and what with Oxford being pretty anti-car, it wasn’t too easy. We eventually went round the block a few times before sucking it up and taking it on the chin that we would have to just park a few streets over from the museum by some lovely old houses for the (frankly revolting) sum of £4 an hour!!! Eurrgh.  We decided we could probably do the whole place in two hours (not possible) and after paying the ticket machine we legged it over the road to look at the incredible trees.

The first thing you notice about the trees is that they are SO much bigger than they look once you are up close, the second  thing is you can’t help but want to take a squillion pictures of them. They are majestic and proud looking, even though they have been lopped down and laid down on the floor like giant wooden corpses. Each tree died naturally and has been put to good use as an educational piece outside the museum. I can’t imagine a single child who wouldn’t want to clamber all over them!

After spending half an hour of our precious two hour time limit on staring and reading about each tree we climbed the beautiful old worn steps to the front entrance of the museum and walked inside. The museum is free and we are lucky it is as some museums see fit to charge an arm and a leg to go in and in my opinion, this museum is so much better than some I have been to and paid for.

As you walk in you are greeted by dinosaurs,

skeletons of hundreds of animals, stuffed birds and animals, creatures  you didn’t even know lived and wonderful displays of every kind. The smell is that of an old room and the stunning Victorian air vents waft hot air up constantly making you feel warm and at home. I think we went on a very busy day as the other times I have been it was much quieter and you could spend a good while reading and photographing, not this time, we were carried around in the constant traffic of children, adults and the odd artist with sketch pad on board.
Now I could go into detail about each floor and each and every thing but you will be here for weeks reading so I shall just focus on a few more things..

Pitt Rivers Museum is famous for its shrunken heads. Mr Pitt Rivers was an explorer and gathered many, MANY things on his travels, possibly the most famous is the shrunken heads. They are just incredible, the mind boggles at how these tiny men were once the same as you or I . Now there has been some talk of the heads being returned to their homeland as it is disrespectful for them to be on display and I can totally understand why they ought to be..but they still remain. And so I TRIED to take what could be my last chance to photograph them before they are removed from the museum, well, all I can say is that I should have been wearing protective gear. It would seem that everyone in the museum made a beeline to the heads and you couldn’t get in to take a peek for love nor money. I managed to grab a tiny photo but it is so dark in there it isn’t very good. Saldy not a good enough pic for you to enjoy. This is REASON 1 for you to go.

The other things of note are the incredible war masks and armour, it seems so weird to me that these masks and suits were once worn by men to scare one another in battle. It is almost impossible to imagine how they could’ve not laughed at the masks and how they were strong enough to carry such a weight as a battle suit. Incredible. Here is a rather rubbish photo of *some* of the museum, it is HUGE and very dark so you really can get lost looking around everything. It could easily take a day. If you have kids the museum provides a checklist game for them to play so they don't get bored looking around.
There were other wonderful things such as Inuit clothing made from seal skin and embroidered with flowers and patterns so, SO stunning and fragile.

I saw a few sloths, they are my favourite animals, I just love how happy they are.

There was a lovely beaver with a smiley smiley face..
Birds of every colour, even the normal birds like a pigeon looked fancy..

Oh, just so many lovely things. This isn’t really a very good review/reminder..
So, apart from being told off by the security guard for sneakily munching some Millie’s cookies on the way round, and the STINKING toilets which I eventually refused to use and lastly the parking issue, I have to say that Pitt Rivers is a great place to visit.

If you like to draw, enjoy looking at things your mind can’t possibly imagine or just love architecture then this is the place for you. It’s free. Don’t drive, you’ll be annoyed. Take the train and enjoy the countryside views, pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful trees outside and make a day of it. Lastly, don’t wear wool..those lovely old Victorian heating grates will make you very hot and worn out.

I hope you do go, it’s lovely. xxx

Friday, 23 March 2012

Have you seen me lately?

There is something wrong with me. Who would have thought that at the age of 32 and a quarter, I would be sat in the dark, in my bed, greedily soaking in Gardener’s World on demand? I’m simply melting in the colours of the flowers,  day (night) dreaming about my future garden and how wonderful it will be when I am as good a gardener as Monty Don, always wellybooting about the place in my chunky knit jumper, wildly wielding a wobbly well-worn wheelbarrow and wearing a gleeful grin on my weathered face..all the while my over-exuberant dog bounds about me in the glistening spring sun.

Sitting in front of gardening shows in my bed is pretty bad BUT I also must confess to  be sat here pinning pictures of gardens and homes for what must have been HOURS on Pinterest..It’s an obsession now. You would never have guessed that this bed-dwelling garden-luster was a drunken party wreck some (ok, many) years before. My nineteen year-old self just rolled her eyes and disowned me!

But all this fantasising about gardens and outdoorsyness makes me turn my mind to my own garden, it is a stinking wreck of a place and I want to write about it a bit in order to keep a record of what I have done out there. It’ll be good to look back for motivation to move forward and to see the progress I *WILL* make. Since moving in almost a year ago and writing my previous blog about my new garden it has somehow managed to get even worse, I’d go as far as saying it is hellish. You have been warned! There will be blogs, many of them. Read them if you dare! Haha..sorry.

Also, as if I weren’t granny-ish enough with all this garden talk, I have just made a date with my soon-to-be sister -in –law (now that’s a lot of hyphens) to have tea and biscuits at her house at ten- thirty tomorrow morning. How civilised! I am a virtual Hyacinth Bucket these days. Shameful, I tell thee.

I am glad to report that after my last post both my brother and my nephew have been growing stronger and although there have been some terribly upsetting and stressful moments (so far) things are going ok and we all are holding our breath, and keeping our fingers crossed that things will work out for the best soon.

Tomorrow is date 3 of our twelve dates of the year! I have done a frankly shocking job of reporting back on how they went. I am going to do that soon, I promise. Both of the first two dates,Pitt Rivers Museum

and Avebury Manor

...were awesome and the locations deserve a good write-up. I shall blog about them both at some point this coming week. Then I shall blog the most recent one sometime after that.  

So anyway, this is a rather pointless blog in the grand scale of blogs and importance but I feel like I just have to check in. I have rather fallen off my blogging perch recently and my project 365 is now rather more like project 287 or something like that. I must buck-up my ideas.

TaTa for now lovely ones xxx