Monday, 23 December 2013

Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

We visited the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick during our recent trip to the Lake District.
Whilst it was far smaller than I anticipated, it was really interesting, especially as I have always had a passion for crayons, pencils and pens. It was a very reasonable entrance fee and the staff were really friendly and informative. The factory moved some time ago but the old one is next to the museum only a 5 minute walk from Keswick town centre.

Who wouldn't love to have this amazing special presentation box but I must admit I wouldn't ever want to use any as they look so pristine.
The old delivery van, at the museum entrance, is amazing.

Up above the glass case, across the two photos, is the biggest pencil in the world!

I recognised many of these old boxes from my childhood days.
It was interesting to see the clay and the stages to blend in the pigment before it is pressed into canes to be inserted into the pencils.

I wish I still had my old tins like these below.
Whilst the museum shop was stocked with a mouthwatering full range of pencils, crayons, and related products, they also sold jewellery made from the off cuts and stumps of the crayons. A fabulous, unusual, idea made by Zinc White and there are some fabulous pieces at reasonable prices. I bought a ring some time ago at a craft fair which is always admired when I wear it. I love it. Now they ship anywhere in the world at no extra charge than the price of the item, so check them out here at Zinc White.
There were bargain offers on most of the pencil and crayon boxes so I just had to treat myself and I am still excited and thrilled every time I look at them and my beautiful new pencil box made from Cedar wood.
It was a super enjoyable break before Christmas and whilst we travelled around and saw so many interesting places it was so lovely to relax in the spacious but cosy log cabin so close to the lake.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Friday Smiles No 49

Every Friday, Annie asks us to show something that has made us smile and this week I've had so much to smile about.  
Here's a little Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer made by my neighbours grand daughter. I love him, he's so cute, and I want to make lots more so I'd better get opening some wine. (Must make sure they are not screw tops!)
We got a "new to us" car and I love that too.
I saw this and thought of a lovely blogging buddy....LLJ aka Lunch Lady Jan!! 
Last but certainly not least, I'm sneaking in these little treasures that popped through the post, courtesy of our own dear Annie who certainly brings lots of smiles to so many people. They sold PDQ at my Quilters Christmas party and made lots of money for Christmas treats for the children who are going through treatments for cancer. Huge THANKS to Friday Smile hostess Super Star Annie!
If you pop over to Annie's blog you are sure to end up smiling too!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Kendal Visit

During our week away in the Lake District we spent a day in Kendal and found a few places we had never before noticed during our many previous trips there.

I resisted buying any of the delectable treats in the old Chocolate House, but I did partake of a free sample!
Dr Mannings Yard
Through the alley to this quaint old corner...

The old shop where I bought some Kendal Mint Cake for my son in law, who loves it.
I loved this shop sign,
We always visit Farrer's for coffee and cake ..They roast and grind their own coffee blends and sell specialty teas so it is always worth a visit.
The ancient Holy Trinity church
William's Wool Shop, in the main street, was a cosy haven for knitters with comfy sofas and nooks and crannies.
I just wanted it all and I'm sure I'd be visiting every week if it was nearer to home.
See the pea green yarn on the shelf?... some of it is now mine. It is  delicious Merino wool, cashmere and silk mix and so soft!

I now have the pattern and wool for the lovely shawl hanging on the beam
We had a wonderful meal in this canal side pub restaurant, the Canal Turn. I've got to admit that the pint of local bitter is all mine and DH, the driver, had the half pint of lemonade shandy!
Next post...... the Pencil Museum. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Windermere, Wool, Wellies & Watermill

When we visited Windermere we discovered a new little haven for sewers and knitters "Sew Much Fun". A shop and studio with workshops situated just on the way up to the railway station.
The range of fabrics was so different with many designs I had never before seen.
Jane was so lovely, really friendly and helpful.
I loved the way the place was laid out, it was so inspiring for beginners and experienced stitchers alike.
Of course I couldn't resist buying some fat quarters!
There's a great deal to see in this tiny cabin so if you are in Windermere, make sure you pop in and say "Hello" to Jane.
I loved this shop's Christmas wellies decorating the pavement. 
As it was a rainy day we decided to have an early dinner in a cosy pub and remembered this one from previous visits. The Watermill Inn & Brewery in the tiny village of Ings, just a couple of miles away from Windermere.
The food was superb and despite them having two large parties in for Christmas meals we were served quite swiftly by the friendly staff. I'd strongly recommend it!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

WOYWW 236 in a Lake District Log Cabin

My desk this week for the WOYWW 236rd snoop, is from a log cabin in the Lake District where we are enjoying a pre Christmas break. Lots more desks from destinations around the globe can be perused via the Stamping Ground Blog of our lovely Boss Lady, Julia.

I brought some of my knitting and sewing with me, plus a sketch book and my newly acquired Derwent Pastels (pastels thanks to AnnB who was selling off some of her unwanted crafty items for charity) Well, I needed something to occupy me in the evenings after our days out until to dinner time and then after dinner when 'im indoors is reading or watching TV.
I also thought it would be nice to bring the Derwent pastels back home near their spiritual and physical origins. We will be going to their museum tomorrow in Keswick to see how they are made and all about their history.
I've managed to quite quickly make another hat for our little fraulein and three for our new baby boy too. Quite pleased with the results but it's debatable if or when they'll fit.
Here's my next crafty project... a box full of gorgeous fabric scraps to do some hand stitched patchwork.
Here's one of the many visitors that came to visit from the lake. The cabins surround the lake perimeter, with woodland behind them, so I've seen a variety of wildlife, many ducks and other birds, a fox, rabbits and squirrels.
We visited Grasmere, home of William Wordsworth the poet and the amazingly tiny Sarah Neilson Gingerbread shop. This gingerbread is so scrumptious and it tastes nothing like any other and is a must for me to visit to buy some whenever I can. Unbelievably it is made at the back of this tiny little shop.
The shop assistants are always in traditional dress and are so nice to everyone.
We stood really close to this little robin that hops in and out of the shop for crumbs and we always seem to see it there each visit but I'm sure the original one passed on the info genetically to it's hatchlings and grand-hatchlings that there are super pickings at the shop. I've seen one there for years and years!
We also visited Ambleside and whilst Christmas decorations are not too overt in the area there were some lovely public trees. This contemporary silver one was so beautiful and work of art.
The "real" one at the huge Lakeland Shop in Windermere is outstanding too with so many coloured lights. It is so high but doesn't really look as tall or dramatic in this photo as it is IRL.
 It towers over this two stories high building.
It's good to escape from the mania of Christmas in the big city but I do love to see the lights and shop windows in the small shops.

Friday, 6 December 2013

A Legend and a Hero

The World has lost a very special person with the death of Nelson Mandela. 
 I never had the honour of meeting him but I was privileged to participate in one of his many good works.
Caring Hearts Foundation was established by Nelson Mandela and Denis Goldberg, who was incarcerated with him for 27 years. The foundation worked for education for children in South African townships and established programmes to eradicate child rape and poverty. 

Whilst I worked in local radio, some years ago, we ran an appeal for books to give to the schools in Tembiza and my target was 50,000.  It was so successful due to the generosity of local people that we received 250,000 which provided 40 schools with libraries, when some of them previously only possessed a handful of books.
 I was invited, with my colleague, to attend a reception in Africa House in Trafalgar Square and there I was privileged to meet Dennis Goldberg who thanked us. He thanked US!!! when we were honoured to even play a small part in their amazing work. 
We had a wonderful day to remember.
He was so warm and friendly and never let go of my hand whilst we were talking and told us about some of the wonderful work they were doing in Africa. 
You can see in my, poor quality, treasured photo below.  

Nelson Mandela may be gone but he will never be lost to the World as he leaves such a legacy for us all. 
Celebrate his life!
Here's part of his legacy shining his light .....
you can hear them here...

and check out the story of the African Children's Choir here
and you can see them with Nelson Mandela.

Candy Cane Hearts & Friday Smile

I'm linking this post to Annie's Friday Smile as it made me feel happy making these and gave me a festive kick! I hope you like them and there's another smile at the end!

I've just made some treats for a few of my friends, to give in place of Christmas cards, after seeing this idea on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary Blog.   
It's a super food blog with lots of ideas and interesting posts about her life. 
These candy cane hearts are simple and good fun to make.

How to do;
I snapped a bit off the ends of the candy canes and removed all of the cello wrap from them.
I placed the shortened canes in pairs onto a teflon baking sheet on a baking tray and gently heated, 4 at a time, in the oven for around 3 minutes at 170C. 
(It was advised 3 to 5 mins at 180C but I found it too high and too long so I adjusted my timing.) Take care not to over heat as they only need to soften and overheating will spread them out into an unusable goo, as with my first batch. Luckily I had a few spare canes.
 Heat a few at a time or they'll harden again before they can be joined together. 
Working as quickly as I could, I squidged together the top and the point to form the heart shape and pressed a lolly stick into the point.

I laid them on baking parchment whilst I prepared the next batch for the oven.

When the hearts were all joined I filled the centres with melted chocolate and added sprinkles to decorate.
I decided to use up all the ends that I had snapped off the canes and made them into star shapes. Why waste?
With a blob of chocolate and sprinkles to hide the join they look quite effective.
Placed in cello wrap bags, and decorated with these mini self adhesive gift cards .... the perfect finishing touch.
Shopping guide and my costs for 24 treats (18 hearts and 6 stars)

Candy canes 3 boxes of 12 x 75p (2 canes used for each) £2.25     from Home Bargains

Gift cards 1 packet of 24                                                     75p                  ..       ..
Food sticks packet of 50 for £1           half packet used         50p                   ..       ..
Chocolate   2 bars   @ £1                                                £2.00                  ..        ..
Sprinkles White chic stars and mini smartie type
   2 tubs x  90p                    only half of each tub used          90p     Morrisons

                                          Total cost £6.40  = approx 27p per unit

plus ribbon and cello packets which I had in already.
Here's my other smile!
 Recently when two of my grandees visited from Brighton we met them at the station and I had not just the thrill of seeing my family but also of seeing this train on the next platform. Sorry.....poor pics taken on the phone.
It was the Class 6233 Duchess of Sutherland and was the train that took the Queen around Wales to greet the people for her Jubilee year. It is a very special preserved Royal Service steam locomotive and there are more details for steam buffs HERE. It was immaculate and is a real blast from the past reminding me of when I used to travel in these monsters when I was young.

The curly girlies from Brighton were thrilled and amazed to see lace curtains and lamps in the pullmans and the tables set beautifully for dinner. I was so thrilled that they had this wonderful experience.