Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A walk around the Oxford colleges

We were in the beautiful City of Oxford a couple of weeks ago.   

Now, for those of you that don't know, we live in Carlisle, but Hubster is from "down South"  (Born in London, brought up in Abingdon, just outside of Oxford)
So, we do pop down there from time to time to visit relatives and friends, but as our time is quite limited we usually end up just visiting and have never really done the tourist thing of exploring such a beautiful place.

Until we popped in to see my friend Sandie.    

After a lovely home-made lunch and conversation, she was surprised to hear that I had never actually been into any of the colleges that are part of the University City of Oxford, so guess what?  we jumped on a bus and set off   :)

Sandie's son, Richard really knows his stuff about the area and was giving us a proper guided tour with loads of really interesting information.  I would suggest to anyone that getting a tour guide would be worth every penny as there is so much to find out about this wonderful place.

Now, do forgive (and correct) me if I get names and places wrong, I was clicking away and scribbling notes, so I am hoping that they all match up.

The first thing that amazed me was how you could go through a small wooden door, just off the high street, surrounded by retail and coffee shops, and walk into this amazing 'other land'.  A big square of green surrounded by beautiful buildings and huge 'chapels' that were more on the size of cathedrals!

How can this happen?  How can all this be just behind a high street?  

This is Exeter College.  I wanted to go into the chapel as I love old church buildings, but there was a wedding going on so we couldn't.   The wedding guests were very nicely dressed though  :)

Just look at those pointy arch windows, such a beautiful shape.

We walked back out onto the street and around, down and across (I have no sense of direction and I could never repeat the steps we took) to All Souls College and the Radcliffe Camera.  What an amazing building that is, I didn't get the best photo, but click on the link to see better ones.

Then it was onto the Bodleian Library - this place has SO many books as I believe I remember being told that it gets a copy of every book issued in the UK.   We didn't see the books (it was a very late afternoon trip out) but we stood in the room above them and imagined just how many books there were under our feet.

Look up, you will see that the ceiling is stunning, all hand-carved no doubt.

Back out into the rain where we passed the Bridge Of Sighs, which connects two parts of Hertford College.

Our last college to visit was Magdalen College - pronounced at "Maudlyn.
I couldn't resist snapping this beautiful stained glass piece.  I love stained glass.

It was getting dark outside now, so my photographs are not so good, but this was inside the chapel.

As was a copy of the Last Supper painting by Leonardto da Vinci.  This painting is HUGE, I am not sure if it is a size-for-size copy, but I didn't expect it to be quite so big.

I loved walking down these corridors and I learnt that they are called cloisters - isn't that a great name?  It means the covered walkways around the quad, which in this case is the pretty green grass in the centre.  I wanted to run through them singing songs from the Sound Of Music - for no particular reason.  But I resisted.

This is the view from the cloisters.

And we got to look inside the dinner hall, set for dinner.  Can you imagine all the scholars in their robes sitting their meals?  It's almost like stepping back in time, or into a film set.

Magdalen College also boasts a Deer Park, which happens to be featured on Trip Advisor as an attraction  :)

As you can see the weather was getting a bit pants at this point, but we did spot some deer sheltering under trees in the distance.

The final visit of the afternoon was a trip to the Ashmolean Museum to see the Egyptian exhibits - as I love that kind of thing   :)  Obviously, having been to the Cairo museum to see their offerings, nothing quite stands up to that experience, but it was a really good exhibit, and free entry, so if you are passing, do pop in.

And that was my trip to Oxford.  Maybe over the past few years we should have taken time out of our hectic visiting schedule to go and explore, but family and friends are a little more important. Pairing up the time with visiting friends and sight-seeing was a perfect alternative.

Thanks Sandie and Richard for your everlasting patience, sharing your knowledge, the wonderful food and hospitality and an amazing day.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Crochet Egg Bird

I was told that my Granddaughter, Hope, really loved a baby TV programme called Egg Bird.

A quick Google showed me what it was all about.  Colourful egg shaped characters that bounce about in a jolly manner.

I decided to try and make her one.

There seemed to be plenty of different coloured Egg Birds, so I just chose a colour changing yarn that I thought would do the trick without me having to worry about colour changes / patterns etc...

I made a basic egg shape....

Then added feet, eyes, hair and a beak!   Done!  So simple, yet she LOVED it.

And a nice size to hug.

I have the pattern scribbled down, if anyone fancies it I shall write it up   :)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Sweet Chilli Mushroom Pasty - recipe

It's been a while since I blogged a recipe, so here is a lovely, quick to make, almost storecupboard, one for you.

A Sweet Chilli & Mushroom Pasty.

As usual, no measurements, just chuck in what you think will work - honestly, it's the best way to cook!

You will need:
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese Spread (I used Seriously Strong Sweet Chilli, but any will be good)
  • Ready to use Puff Pastry (or make your own)
  • Egg (for wash)
What you do:
  • Wash, chop and put your mushrooms in a pan with a little drop of olive oil, sunflower oil or even butter.

  • When they are cooked down and soft, drain off any excess juices.

  • Then add a good blob of cheese spread  (Philadelphia Cheese will also work)

  • Mix..... then leave to cool.

  • Meanwhile, roll out your pastry and use a side plate or saucer to cut a large circle.

  • Plop some mushroom mix just off centre.

  • Then fold over.  Add a little bit of water to the rim and press to seal.

  • Give it a brush with beaten egg and slit the top to let the steam escape while cooking.

  • Serve with mash and veg for a main meal, or eat on it's own as a snack.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A new face for a Rag Doll

I had a challenge set to me just before Christmas.   Could I put a new face on this Rag Doll.

The lady had bought it as a gift for her Granddaugher, but before she could put it away her Grandson was sick on it, and the result of cleaning it up was this......   Great for a kid's toy huh?

Oh my goodness, what could I do??

I really didn't want to put too much time in as completely rebuilding it would have been expensive labour wise, and it might have been cheaper to buy a new doll, so a cover up was needed.

The first cover I tried was a vintage cotton - trying to get the right shade was a nightmare, it was either too creamy in colour, or not cream enough.  However when I finally found a piece that was good enough, I pinned it into place to find the smudged ink bleeding through when I dampened it slightly.  I did dampen it on purpose as I needed to see what would happen if it was to get wet again - maybe with a child crying.

Scrap the cotton idea then, back to square one.  I took this photo so I could remember what the face was supposed to look like.

Then cut a circle of felt - I had over 100 sheets of felt in my stash, not one was the right shade, I had to go and source one.

With a heat sensitive pen I lightly drew the face in place.

Then embroidered it - to make it much more stable that using fabric dyes and pens.

Then it was time to pin it in place....

... and sew it, ever so neatly, with little enough stitches that they weren't visable, but would hold good enough.

I finished her off with a bit of fabric pen eye make up - if it does come off it won't matter really due to the embroidery underneath, but I wanted to make the eyes a wee bit bigger.  Then a little bit of blusher to give her a rosy glow.

And she was done!

Hopefully her little face will last a bit longer this time   ;)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Brampton Stroke Association and their Christmas Stockings

I know it is a bit late to show off Christmas decorations, but I really wanted to show you this fabulous collection of Christmas Stockings.

I was asked to "go and give a talk" at a Stroke Association group in a town near where I live.  The only thing is, I don't like to give talks, I like to give play times, I like people to mess about and get creative.   So I suggested that they all make a little Christmas decoration for their trees.

Stockings seemed like a good one to do.  So I took the pattern, loads of felts, needles, scissors.... the lot... in a bog box and we all played for a couple of hours.

Loads of fun seemed to be had, and as you can see, some lovely stockings were produced   :)

If you would like me to come and "not give a talk" at your group, let me know   ;)

Monday, 18 January 2016

My favourite shots of Vilamoura

I didn't take my camera on holiday this time as we had weight restrictions due to only having hand luggage.  So all of these were taken using my iPhone 6.

Just a few shots which will make me remember my holiday in Vilamoura, Portugal fondly.  (forgetting the rain  ; )