Cardiff Weekend

This last weekend John was like a kid in a candy store because we went to Cardiff for the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup. Many will know that John grew up paddling and coaching slalom. Most recently he has been writing for Sportscene which is a dedicated news website for all things paddle sport. We had media passes for the weekend so I was his little helper.

On the way there we stopped at a National Trust of course. Tredegar house was a stunning home and had an interesting history as being a girls school for many years…








The best was the downstairs kitchens of course. My room…

John’s room lol…


Oddly, there were some stores in the stables area and one was a quilting shop! John, I mean I was very excited that they had new Aneela Hoey fabric at half price. These two were end of bolts and I was shocked to see them on sale…


After this crafty moment it was mainly a weekend of paddling at the first class Cardiff White Water Centre…


Me with Olympic paddlers…

The paddlers make it look so easy…



The weather was cold and fairly horrible all weekend except for Friday, as evidence by my crafty break…

Ahhhhh iced coffee and comfy chair sewing hexagons! (I’m finished all of my Liberty print hexies and will post them soon)

After a great World Cup we headed home via Cheddar Gorge. Yes where cheddar comes from!…


It was funny to be here because it felt a bit Canadian mountain town…


It’s too bad that we couldn’t have spent more time going through the caves.

On a funny note…I love road trips in the UK because the “Services” are much better than Canadian ones and often good for a little laugh. Really, huh?…


Grandparents Week

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing this last week but I can’t share the big project I was working on because it’s a pressie for Lady Fia and her ladies in waiting. You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before I can share.

I don’t know where the time goes but I was looking forward to my grandparents visiting again and they have come and gone. At least John came home from Chicago so I had a phone to take pictures with. He even got one of my still dead iPhone drying on rice…


On the way up to Harwich to bring my grandparents to their cruise boat we stopped at a few National Trust sites. Lavenham is a gorgeous town that has many original buildings from Medieval times. It was once one of the wealthiest towns in England because of the rich blue cloth they produced. We saw the Guildhall redone…




I know it’s not Halloween but look at this mummified cat that they found in the chimney stack. It was meant to keep away evil spirits…


Next, this house is still lived in, relatives were related to Beatrix Potter…


On Sunday before we left them in Ipswich to catch the train to the boat we drove to see the North Sea. It was a rare sunny day…




We also hit up a new John Lewis Home store. Grammie was very taken with this department store as I have been. John and I broke down and ordered some new white sheets and Grammie and Pa bought us a lovely thank you parting gift to replace our old nasty bath mat. I’ve been looking for a new one and couldn’t have found something better…


I’m so lucky to have such adventurous grandparents to come and visit.

2 Sunny Days

I’m happy to report that my rant about the horrible weather worked. (Well, only for the weekend because now it’s cold and raining again.) I’m sure I had something to do with it though! Regardless, it inspired a nice long cycling ride with John through the Chiltern Hills to a nice coffee at a great little cycling repair/cafe in Redbourn that we found recently called The Hub…


We were finally able to have a sunny picnic too…


John has been wanting to take me to Hampstead Heath which is a large green space north of London. It was a beautiful day and it seemed everyone was out eating ice cream, including John…


In Hampstead we also found a lovely National Trust property called Fenton House. The gardens are still maintained as they would have been and there is an amazing collection of harpsichords, porcelain figures and needlework inside…



(According to the talkative Trust volunteer, behind me is a house owned by director Ridley Scott who only comes to stay a few weeks a year.)

The house also boasted one of the best views of London, to be seen from a tiny balcony that I braved for pictures…



I was also quite taken by these lovely chairs…



On the way home we just had to stop to take a picture of this field near our house…



Curious Donkeys

It was a glorious bank holiday weekend and John and I took full advantage. On our way South to visit Winchester Cathedral we stopped at a little National Trust called West Green House Garden. You couldn’t go in the house but the gardens were beautiful. We had tea and then wandered the grounds…







The town of Winchester was very quaint…



The cathedral was also beautiful, boasting the longest nave in Europe, I believe…



It was interesting to see some of the Roman architecture still visible too…


The most interesting part of the cathedral for me was seeing the spot where Jane Austen was laid to rest. She came to Winchester when her health had failed and died in a house near the cathedral when she was 41. Unfortunately, they are doing work on that house so the picture isn’t great…




After the cathedral we had time to explore more of this beautiful town…





After Winchester we drove towards Salisbury, another cathedral town, and stayed at a lovely farm stay B&B on the edge of the New Forest National Park. We were recommended to go for dinner at a nice pub in the park called the Green Dragon…


It was a very surprising drive that night because I was blown away to see all of the animals that are let to run free in this area! I had no idea. There were horses and ponies everywhere! Check out the animals that were right beside the edge of the road…






However, it was donkeys that were most surprising and hilarious. One minute we were watching their cute little faces and the next they were rushing the car and sticking their faces in the window. John was laughing hysterically and trying to pet them as I was trying to get out of the way before they chomped my leg. I was squealing and John just kept laughing harder and harder. He was in tears. I’d never heard him laugh so hard. When I look back at the pictures I guess it was pretty funny!…







They were fast like lightening. Who knew donkeys were so curious! Stay tuned for Sunday’s adventure…

Weekend at Wimbledon

My Grammie called me out today because I hadn’t blogged for awhile! Sorry, I don’t know where the week has gone. I’ve even done some knitting. I’m almost done Lord Isaac’s next sweater. I’ll take pictures soon.

But first…let me share a neat weekend. We took john’s parents to the Wimbledon museum for her birthday. I don’t watch a lot of tennis anymore but it was still pretty cool to see this famous arena for sport. Here’s the famous centre court…



I thought the museum was actually one of the better ones we’ve been to in awhile. It showed tennis through the ages and there were a lot of interactive displays.

Afterwards we hit a new National Trust. Runnymede is a beautiful area of fields just outside of Windsor which is said to be the place where the Magna Carta was signed. The American Bar Association has built a monument on the site…




Interestingly, 1 acre of the land was gifted by the Queen to the States. On it we found a monument to JFK, very bizarre the things we find on our travels!…


Weekender Update June 23-24

After chillin’ last weekend John and I were on the move again! We started by playing canoe polo on Saturday morning near where the new White Water Course is for the Olympics. I haven’t played for awhile but got on the water for a bit because it was actually sunny out for a bit!

I entered another Cycletta in Wiltshire which is going south and west from us. On the way there we made a stop at a National Trust property called Clivedon House. It was the home of the Astors but is now a hotel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a day that they let people in to see the house but we did walk around and get some great pics. It wasn’t as old a house as others we’ve seen but the view was beautiful…



Historic and listed gardens…



So….before we came to the UK I thought it would be lovely to be at a house like this and have a picnic with John. Oh how romantic eh! Well the English weather really isn’t cooperating with this dream! Seriously, look at me and it’s the end of JUNE!!!!…


On the way back to the car John, of course, was looking at the Estate on his iPhone map and saw that by the chapel was a Canadian First World War cemetery. My poor little legs were very tired but John convinced me to walk back and I’m glad we did. I’m not sure how we found it because there was no sign and it was hidden behind tall hedges but when we did it was certainly a magically spot. It was truly a peaceful and respectful place to honour those who have fought for our country…






After Clivedon we drove to our Farmstay B&B which was about 1/2 hr from my cycle race at Lydiard park. Sunday morning did not start out as the best weather and for a split second I thought of bailing but didn’t and had a great ride. I came 11th out of 104, with a respectable time of 40km in 1hr40min.


We were very close to a town owned by the National Trust called Lacock and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go after the race. Lacock Abbey was built in 1226!!!!! They filmed some of Harry Potter here as well as many BBC productions…




Give me a break a was tired after my ride! Good spot for a nap.

Part of the Abbey was turned into a family home at some point in history long ago and was lived in up until about the 1940s…





The town was even more impressive. The houses have not changed!…


You could just imagine that you were in a Jane Austin production except with cars parked outside all the homes!

Another jammed packed weekend for us.

Jam Packed Weekend

Well, John and I sure do pack it in on the weekends. I don’t know how he has the energy sometimes because he often must be quite jet lagged. Feel that we need to make the most of our stay here though.
On Saturday we headed north to the Peak District to visit a distant relative who had been kind enough to put me up years ago when I was backpacking around. The Peak District is a stunning area of the UK. It feels like you are in the middle of a Jane Austin novel!

On the way there we found a quilting store in an old church…


I picked up a few things that I will share tomorrow. Today’s post is all about the weekend!

We were able to go for a nice bike ride as well but I really do need to get in better shape if I’m going to be cycling so many hills! After our ride we went for a nice meal at a quaint pub up in the hills…


(Russell and John outside the pub.)
It was a lovely visit and we hope to go back in the fall. (Hopefully, with with my grandparents!)

Sunday was a whirl wind…

After setting off from Russell’s we tried to make a few stops to take some pictures of the Peak District…they don’t quite do it justice though…




On the way home we stopped at another National Trust site, Hardwick Hall. I think this might have been one of my favourites so far. It was built by Bess of Hardwick in the late 1500’s. Apparently, she was quite the formidable character. There was a ruins of the old house on site as well as the preserved new home. The old ruins were amazing, especially because you could walk up to the top floor at one end to look out. Check out the beautiful plaster work that still exists…





Of course the kitchen bakery room, my favourite place!

Beautiful view of the new house from the old ruins…

I love the free audio tours you get for the ruins at some sites. It makes it so much more meaningful, you’ll have to visit to hear it!

I wasn’t blown away by the new house BUT I very appreciated it because of the tapestry work. I have never seen a house where EVERY wall was covered in gorgeous tapestries from floor to ceiling. I’ve seen it in other houses on certain walls but not in pretty much the whole house. They were terribly faded and the trust is working to clean and preserve them. It was nice to be able to take pictures in this house so I will share a few…




This house was occupied up until the 60’s I believe so it has a more modern kitchen…I want it!!!…



Outside the grounds we also got to visit another little Trust site, the Stainsby Mill. It is still a working mill which is quite unusual. The volunteer inside was very informative and eager to tell about the mill and how it works. It is a bucket mill wheel which John was impressed to see…



We bought some spelt flour that came with a bread recipe I’m going to try.

And the day kept on keeping on…

We were passing by Nottingham so John took me to the white water centre that used to be his second home. He was quite nostalgic about it but thought it was looking old and not quite as impressive as he remembered it, maybe because he’s spent time recently at the new Olympic site!!!…


Then we drove home! Phew!!!

Chronicles of the National Trust

Today we went to a National Trust site about an hour away called Waddesdon Manor, the long time home of the Rothschilds. It was very ornate to say the least…

The gardens were beautiful…

Throughout the gardens were modern art installations…John and I are in love he he he…

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so here’s just a pic of the front entrance…


Of course we had a cream tea in the stables cafe…


At the garden centre on the grounds they were having a neat artisans fair…

John wants me to have a stall at the next one because there was no quilting or knitting present! There was another coffee truck though, curious!!!…


It all did inspire me to come home and knit!


Go go perfect Sunday!

When we decided to move to the UK I dreamed that we would get a National Trust membership and tour around the great estates and historical buildings of the UK on a sunny Sunday with picnic basket in hand. (We didn’t do a picnic but I do have a great idea for making a National Trust picnic basket! Stay tuned…)
Bright and early we drove to Lyveden New Bield. At first we thought it was a ruins of an Elizabethan home/castle but it was actually a “summer” home that never got finished. I love the symmetry of the cross design. Basically the guy ran out of money and the workers just left. You could see where they had put hinges in the stone for doors but no doors were ever installed. Worked stopped in 1605! Like I said old, old, old!


Look my favourite room in the house…the kitchen!

Behind the kitchen was a multi oven room of sorts for a large sauce pot and what John thought was a pizza oven!

Modern kitchen plumbing! This stone cut out went from the roof to the basement kitchen and would be enclosed for running water.

The gardens were particularly important to this estate and they were planned to perfection. The apple orchard had ancient apple varieties and a mote surrounding the garden.

The best bit was this snail mound that would have flowers planted all the way up the path to the top, set so that as the women walked up their skirts would move the flowers and release their scent to best effect. How lovely!!!!

Next we went to Belton House. House indeed!!! More of a castle I think…

As we were walking around the house and reading a pamphlet I realised that they had filmed some of BBC’s Pride and Prejudice here. The house immediately became much more exciting!!! It was Rosings Park the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Check out the desk, it’s where Mr. Darcy wrote his famous first love letter to Lizzy…

After a light cream tea…

Ooooo but before we left I found a bush that was littered with ladybugs! I’d never seen anything like it.

From the parking lot at the hotel we walked through this amazing courtyard and into the reception of the hotel. It was breathtaking…



Check out the bathroom…


Seriously, old, old, old!!!!! Love it!