Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

National Railway Museum

Cally, as I'm sure you remember, absolutely loves trains, and other things which might almost be trains.  Like trams.  So The Builder and I decided that really, where she needed to go was the National Railway Museum in York.

We decided to take her on Saturday, with the expectation that her parents might go to the City Centre to one of the pubs which shows the snooker.  But no! Once they discovered that we were going to the NRM, they just had to come too.

So after I had finally managed to get up to Grassmoor to have my hair cut (I no longer look like an Old English Sheepdog!) we trundled in to Sheffield and collected Tabitha, Gareth and Cally and off we set in search of trains.

We didn't tell Cally where we were going.  Just that we were going out for a drive in the car.

She was very excited when she walked into the museum to be confronted by a very large train.

She was positively beside herself with excitement when she walked around the large train and found a room stuffed full of trains!

She absolutely loved the model railway - so much so that we couldn't get her out of the model railway room :-D

And she was thrilled when we went up into the city centre on the road train (I have *always* wanted to go on that road train but have never previously had either the opportunity or, indeed, a reason.  And now I have been on it :-)  )

I have to say that we were very seriously impressed with the Children's food selections in the restaurant.  Tiny sandwiches, small pieces of fruit, minute cakes, little jellies, lots of mini-things to choose five items from. So much an improvement on "something with chips" which is what children's menus often are.  Mind you, having said that - Tabitha and I had "something with chips" for our lunch. Pork sandwiches and chips for us - and The Builder  and Gaz had what they described as absolutely lovely chicken jalfrezi. Ten points to the NRM for their delicious food.  (The cakes weren't bad either.)

There's another branch of the NRM somewhere in County Durham.  I haven't been to that one.

We are supposed to be looking after Cally next Saturday afternoon so her parents can go into town and watch the snooker in the pub.  We thought we might take her to the Tramway Museum in Crich.  I wonder if we should tell Taffa and Gaz where we're going ...

Cally caressing a train.  Click on Cally to get to the album

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Directly inspired by a conversation that we had over lunch on Saturday, the Under Gardener and I had a long conversation about what to do about replacing our chooks. We had considered approaching the people across the road, who have quite a lot of chickens and do often sell eggs.  We know they have roosters, partly because we can hear them, but also because I have seen them. So I was going to ask them if they ever sold point-of-lay pullets. We need to get the poultry in place relatively soon, partly so we benefit at the earliest opportunity from the eggs, but also because "they" are building a house down by the orchard fence - and I want the poultry well established before the completed house goes on the market (not that I am anticipating this happening very soon - it still doesn't have all its walls or a proper roof yet.

As it happened, however, the people across the road have been closed when I have been around over the past couple of weeks and we had gone out to the Marsh Green farm shop on Sunday in search of a sheep for the freezer and found that they were selling Point of Lay pullets for a very reasonable price.  So we have ordered two Light Sussex and two Plymouth Rocks to be picked up in a fortnight.

However, the weather has (FINALLY!!!!) warmed up a bit lately, so the Under Gardener went out yesterday and has now cleared out, washed and disinfected the chook coop, and sorted out their run. Ordinarily chickens get the run of the orchard, but we like to keep them confined to the run for a couple of weeks so they work out where the egg boxes are, where their feed and water is and so on. So the run needed sorting out. But that is now all done.  We need some pellets, but we are pretty much ready. I might see if we can pick the chooks up a week earlier than planned.

The Under Gardener has also been busy preparing the potato beds for planting. We're planning to have them up in the garden this year so he's been digging over the beds in the kitchen garden. He's planning to plant the seed potatoes out during the May Bank Holiday weekend (weather permitting).  We need to get into the orchard and do some spring pruning on the cherry and plum trees. And I desperately need to get into the flower garden.  It's looking very sad and sorry for itself - although we do now have some lovely little daffies and small hyacinths out by the pond, and the cool spring weather means the hellebores are still in glorious flower. I must be more enthusiastic in the evenings when I get home!!!

In the meantime, the Under Gardener has planted out a half bed each of peas and broad beans on the allotment.  And I have tiny seedlings growing in the little porch in the lounge room which need potting on.  I think it might almost be worth risking putting them into the greenhouse when I do that.

I'll try and get some photos of the flower garden before I get around to clearing it up. Then you can be stunned by the amazing difference in the "after" photos :-D

Katsu Saturday

Click on the link to reach the album - although you may have already seen them on Facebook

When I first moved to Sheffield, the area around Kelham Island on the River Don was largely derelict, sad and forlorn - a mere shadow of how it had been in its heyday.  I seldom had reason to go down there, although there were a couple of cute, small pubs (The Fat Cat and the Kelham Island), a small brewery and an interesting industrial museum  all of which I occasionally went to.  I think it's probably 8 or 9 years since I last had any reason to go down that way, though.

I knew that the area had been slowly gentrified.  I knew that the old industrial buildings were being turned into apartments and townhouses.  Tabitha, Gareth and Freyja had friends who had moved down there.  But I paid little attention. And I didn't know about the arrival of wine bars and bistros and little cafes.

And then Duncan and Nate moved into an apartment overlooking the river.  I became slightly more curious - and invited us to lunch :-D

So on Saturday, The Builder and I came into Sheffield on the train.  Freyja was already in Sheffield having come up from London on the Friday evening. Tabitha, Gareth and Cally came across town on the bus. And we all congregated at Nate and Duncan's place for chicken katsu (potato katsu in Freyja's case), Japanese style salad, rice and a katsu sauce, followed by Duncan's sticky toffee pudding.

It was a lovely afternoon. In many senses of the word. The sun shone and the weather was comparatively warm (well, compared to the weather over the past 7 months is was quite warm!). We had a convivial afternoon. The food was delicious. The wine was plentiful. Nate and Duncan gave us truly delicious port to drink. A good time was had by all. (At least, I think Duncan and Nathan enjoyed having us, although it was rather something of a Family Invasion).

And then we all walked back into town. Freyja went off to do some Uni work. The Builder and I caught the train home again. Everyone else went to an art exhibition at the canal basin.

On Sunday, inspired directly by a conversation we had had over Katsu Saturday lunch, The Builder and I went out to Marsh Green Farm shop and ordered some new chickens.  We have two light Sussex, and two Plymouth Rocks coming.  We asked to pick them up on the May Holiday weekend in a fortnight - but The Under Gardener has now cleaned out, disinfected and sorted out the chook coop and run. I might see if we can pick them up on Sunday instead of Sunday week.  While we were there, I bought a sheep which the butcher has obligingly done up for us in freezer packs. It was an old season sheep, so hoggett rather than spring lamb.  I must say I do prefer hoggett. It's tastier, not to mention bigger :-D  And, strangely enough - cheaper.

This was the somewhat apocalyptic looking sunset we had last night:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Playing with babies

We started Saturday in bright, bright sunshine.  It was very nearly almost warm! And The Builder and I went to Bishops' House to do the Saturday morning shift.

It was beautiful in Meersbrook Park. There were people out walking their dogs, people out with their children.  But nobody came in to visit us until 11:30 (we open at 10) - and we had a rush of people between 11:30 and 1 when we handed over to the afternoon volunteers and headed off to meet Tabitha and Cally.

The plan was to meet up and then head into Graves Park for the afternoon.  Gareth was away on a bucks weekend, downhill biking somewhere in Wales.  So we stopped by the fish and chip shop for lunch supplies and went into the park.  Alas, the bright, nearly warm sunshine had taken fright and was hiding behind a huge curtain of grey, cold, gloomy, damp clouds.  This did not deter us.  We made our way up to the top of the park where there are slides and swings and bouncy things to amuse Cally and sat at a picnic table to eat our fish and chips.  Then we met up with Cally's friend Thomas and his mother Vicky. His father was also downhill biking in Wales so they had come out to play too. And we mooched into the animal farm and played with baby cows and small sheep and tiny llamas. There were chook eggs in an incubator which were hatching while we were there. There were a couple of emus and lots of pigs and even some rather friendly donkeys.  We all had a good afternoon, even if winter was making a slight fight back.  But it didn't actually start raining until The Builder and I had got back in the car to head home :-D

We had a quiet and VERY windy Sunday. We hit the garden centre for some more seed potatoes and generally just pottered around. A nice and lazy day (although VERY windy!!)  No babies to play with on Sunday but we have at last made a start on thinking about our garden plans for the coming season now that spring is finally showing signs of maybe thinking about possibly coming to visit.  One day :-)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Well that didn't work

And it was never going to, not really.

You would think, when I announced that we were about to leap back on the wagon on Monday, that at least one of you might have pointed out that this week contained a birthday!!

And as everyone knows, you can't be on a diet when it's your birthday week.  And it's positively illegal to be on the wagon, unless you don't drink alcohol at all.  And there was no hope at all when your parents in law give you this as a birthday present:

And if The Builder was going to be eating, drinking and making merry, then I most definitely was too!

So, we went out for a birthday celebration here:

and we ate this:

 and drank this:

And of course there was wine and beer left over at our place and it would have been wasteful to leave it. And then it was oh-so-nearly the weekend so there was no point going back on the wagon just for a day or three.

We'll have to start again next week :-D

The Birthday Boy

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Signs of spring in the garden

I took these over Easter.

And today the Under Gardener has been up to the allotment and planted replacement white and red onion sets (you may remember that the ones we planted last autumn have pretty much vanished).

The soil is still too cold to plant the pea and broad bean seeds though.  But we have LOTS ready for when the ground warms up a tad

Monday, April 08, 2013

Back to work

It was a good week off. I got a lot of the cleaning done that I had intended to do (but not absolutely all of it - I could do with another week to carry on and get it finished!!). I didn't get out into the garden though.  It's still too cold, although the sun came out and shone beautifully over the weekend.

We drove to Stockport on Saturday.  Some years ago both The Builder and I took part in the Biobank data collection exercise, where they measured us and asked us lots of questions and tested us and took our blood and did all sorts of health related stuff.  They followed up with a questionnaire about diet and from time to time sent emails asking questions.  Then they invited me (but not The Builder; he's fallen out of their age range) to go back for repeat testing.  In Stockport, of all places.  The Builder said he would come anyway, just for the drive.  And off we went.

It is a really lovely drive from our place to Stockport. It takes you through the Peak District and up over the Pennines and through some truly beautiful countryside. It was even nicer in the sunshine. And there was no snow at all on the Manchester side of the country!

It took not quite two hours for me to be quizzed, jabbed, checked, tested and pummelled.  In the meantime, The Builder was sat in the tea room with a sandwich and a cup of tea. I got a sandwich too when I had finished. And then we drove home again, still through glorious sunshine. I hadn't realised quite how much I had got fed up of gloom and grey and glumness until I saw the sun sparkling on the Peak District!

And I hadn't fully realised how much I had settled into nice, slow mornings with nothing much to hurry about - until I had to get up and dash about with purpose and intent this morning.

I have a feeling, too, that my poor body is going to get quite a shock when it gets home this evening and is offered tea and not wine.  I had got pleasantly used to there being lots of wine to indulge in - but we are going back on the wagon again this evening.  There is the GWT(2) to save up for!!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Mostly eating

I've been on holiday over Easter and mostly we have been eating.

First, we had to do the shopping to allow the eating, so we went out to Chatsworth to inspect the farm shop.  It was quite a nice day on Good Friday, which is when we went, so we weren't particularly thinking about snow.  Until we got up into the hill tops.  Look what we found!

The road we had intended to drive along was very definitely closed. So we diverted down through Rowsley and Bakewell

It was all rather exciting!

I'm glad I had my boots on - their feet must have been frozen!

Buying flour at the mill in Rowsley
And then the eating commenced.  Jeanette, Matthew, Rebecca and Evie drove up from Portsmouth on Holy Saturday to have lunch with us.  Lindsey was quite shocked when she learned that I was doing a vegetarian feast and that we were intending to be dry as well (in that we wouldn't be drinking alcohol, not that we had decided not to make the house wet!). But nobody seemed to object to their spring rolls and potato croquettes, nor to their butternut squash lasagne, and not even to their cheese and biscuits.  Nobody appeared to object to drinking ginger beer or home made lemonade instead of wine. It was all lots of fun.

Then it was Easter Day (Lindsey was quite shocked to discover that The Builder and I were intending to remain dry - which not only gave us Lent on the wagon, but also the whole of March :-)  A Personal Best, I think).  We took ourselves round to Tabitha and Gareth's place where also were Freyja, Nate, Duncan and Gareth's workmate Aaron, who we hadn't met before, and had a lovely Easter Feast.  Gareth had made roast pork and roast lamb and potatoes and loads of veg

Cally, multi-tasking

You may remember that we couldn't take Cally's birthday cake to her party because the Play Arena couldn't allow us either to cut the cake or to eat it.  So I held off the cake until Easter and took it to the feast.  After all, Cally didn't know it had been intended to be a birthday cake rather than an Easter Cake:

Oooh look.  Cake!  Oooooooh look. A choo choo.  It's a choo choo cake!!! Well Done, Gamma!!

Then it turned out that Nate had found exactly the same cake mould and had also made it for Easter:

Nate didn't get a well done!

So we put them together:

And then we fell spectacularly off the wagon.  Bea, Steve and Richard came for lunch on Monday and we had lots to eat and lots to drink (except for Steve, who was driving). We had coffee and sandwiches at Bragazzi's in Sheffield with Freyja. We went to the Rutland in Chesterfield for lunch on Wednesday. Jo and Rob from work came for lunch at our place on Thursday and we went to The Nettle for lunch on Friday. It was a grand week of lunching.

No lunching today.  We're shortly off to Stockport.  There will have to be evening feasting instead.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


When we first moved in to our house, The Builder and I made our way to Rowsley where there is a factory outlet shopping centre and bought some very cheap curtains for our bedrooms.  They were quite nice curtains and we felt that they would do the job quite nicely, one in each window, while we thought about what we really wanted to have up.

See - quite a nice curtain:

Nothing wrong with it at all.  And it's been doing the job very nicely for what - nearly seven years.

Now we finally have the new curtains for our bedroom (the one up above is going to join its partner in the spare bedroom - I hope they get along after so many years apart :-D )

Pretty, aren't they.  And they match the doona cover :-)

It's amazing how often temporary things become more or less permanent!!