. . . sorting out the kids’ passports and going to Wales (the two are not related).
This one was actually completed a while ago as part of the Hoop Up Swap, but I wanted to wait and make sure it had made its way safely across the Atlantic before blogging about it. This one was for Scott, who wanted a cottage theme, which when I heard that I knew immediately what I had to do, one of my most favourite views in the UK, the red cottage at the Museum of Welsh Life at St.Fagans. It’s one of the first things you see as you come out of the other side of the visitor centre and the view is so inviting. You can see the photo I based the piece on, plus a photo of the interior in my blog post about my last visit there, here. Anyone remotely in the vicinity of South Wales I highly recommend you go to see the museum, it’s one of my favourite places from my childhood and it’s free!
Anyway back to the embroidery (can’t you tell I so desperately want to go back?), it was my first attempt at proper mixed media and um, it didn’t work as well as I would have liked (trust me, close up I think it looks a bit blah), but I think Scott liked it!
We’ve been visiting my dad in Wales for the last few days, so of course it was wet and cold.
But we still had a good time. We took it easy, reacquainting ourselves with my dad’s no longer kitten cat Paws, who is a little Welsh tiger and not around that much . . .
. . . except to look affronted by the choice of cat food offered
. . . and to come in at 11pm for a quick nap on a lap before going out again to join the rest of the night life in the field opposite.
My dad’s home improvements are going well, he’s built the terrace you can see a glimpse of in the first cat photo and more of the rooms in the new extension are decorated, so we got to stay in a room with an ensuite shower, call us easily pleased but it was like staying in a hotel (I long for a shower cubicle at home).
I got to do lots of embroidery but both large pieces which have yet to be finished completely, so I can’t show them yet, but even Girl Lacer got in with some embroidery action.
I spent a lot of time, particularly at night, embroidering whilst listening to the Raven’s Gate audiobook, which I’ll review in a minute in a separate post but it was perfect pitch black country listening. I also nearly finished the next George Mann book, which was also suitably old and a bit creepy.
We had one day out and of course North Wales = Thomas the Tank Engine (as Thomas always seems to be visiting the same time we do). There is video, which you may want to watch if you’re particularly train obsessed (it’s 4 minutes long, so not too bad).
And finally apart from the occasional glimpses of cats, embroidering, reading and going to see Thomas the Tank Engine (again), me and Girl Lacer played hide and seek. Hide and seek is ridiculously easy in our flat but challengingly difficult at my dad’s place, a storybook playground, I wish it wasn’t so far away.
Back from our holiday travels. First up was Mr. Lacer’s side for Boxing Day and a lovely busy family party. Then onto my dad’s for a few days, which is considerably quieter. We didn’t do much, just sat around and played and embroidered and for one day did quite a lot of editing on the novel (pleasantly surprised with that about how much I don’t want to change, don’t get me wrong, there are still going to be quite a few changes, but where I’ve made a mistake and repeated myself, both showing and telling for example or in other cases where I’ve told and could really have done with showing instead, but other than that I’m currently fairly happy).
The big news of our travels is that it seems that Boy Lacer is also phobic about cats (we’ve known he’s phobic about dogs for some time). My dad has a cat, a spirited seven month old kitten and Boy Lacer turned out to be absolutely terrified of it unfortunately. So, lots of screaming, literally jumping on people’s laps and hiding behind things, although Boy Lacer was a brave little thing and did stroke the cat about half an hour before we were due to leave.
Anyway, the welsh tiger in question, showing off his excellent camouflage skills against the hallway carpet.
We also think, as well as dogs (a vaguely understandable phobia with him, we live next to a playing field, where lots of people walk their dogs and there have been a number of occasions where dogs have playfully leapt up at him and he’s only a small little thing and they’re big dogs, so he’s been convinced for some time that dogs eat people and nothing we can say will convince him otherwise) and cats and insects (although Girl Lacer doesn’t like insects either), that Boy Lacer may be transferring his fears to all animals. We’ve noticed recently that he also doesn’t seem to like birds and his first instinctive response when seeing even the most smallest, cutest birds, is to go “Shoo, shoo, away!”, in a panicked response. Obviously, I think it started with the dogs leaping up at him in the playing field but it has now transferred to quite a severe distrust of all animals, I think because for Boy Lacer their movements are erratic and therefore unpredictable and therefore (in his eyes) dangerous. Hmmm.
Anyway, back home now, from a lovely large house back to our tiny cramped flat, always a come down, although it’s always nice to be back in our own space. With the Christmas season for all intent and purposes really over now, I’m now struck by the urge to tidy, tidy and a bit of organise, get some control into this place! Tomorrow we’re going shopping, spending Christmas money (all those sales I’ve been unable to get to, they’ve been killing me!). We need if anything to get some more trousers for Boy Lacer as Father Christmas seems to have endowed him with an extra few centimetres in the leg department, as every single pair of trousers in his suitcase this week didn’t seem to fit and they fitted last week! Boy Lacer was a big baby and was in 18 – 24 month old trousers from 9 months old and then he stayed in them, fitting them perfectly, size 2 year old trousers too big, right up to this week, as 4 1/4 years old, so those trousers have had a lot of use, so we need to buy some 2 year old trousers for him now otherwise he’s going to get cold ankles (told you he was a little thing, actually no, he has the physique of a rugby player, although he has little legs he fits size 4-5 up top). It’ll be interesting to see if he’s going through a growth spurt, because come next September if he’s still in size 2 trousers then, it’ll be interesting trying to find school trousers in those sizes!
Other than trouser shopping (oh and buying a Wii Fit Plus online) I’m trying to save my money for a serger, so there won’t be that much of spending money, however I did splurge a little and put a big order in on Amazon, four books; two embroidery, one applique and one kids’ fiction and thanks to the wonders of internet parcel tracking I know my parcel was delivered today, when I was still stuck in a traffic jam (I would have been already home otherwise) and as it’s not hiding in my front garden I can only surmise one of my neighbours has it, unfortunately I have an awful lot of neighbours and I haven’t got a clue which one and I want my new books!!!!! It’s killing me knowing that my books are somewhere in this building and I can’t rip open the parcel and throw myself at their loveliness (a £35 order with Amazon is an extremely rare treat for me). I have actually popped round and asked my nearest neighbour (being the most obvious) and they don’t have it, I have tried ringing the door of another and no reply (even though they have lights on), another neighbour is always out (and therefore unlikely to have it anyway) and the other neighbours so elderly that although they may have it, by the time I realised the parcel had actually been delivered (6pm), they were almost certainly tucked up in bed asleep. So, no new books for me, yet.
- I am a soft city girl pampered by the urban heat island effect,I forget that even in just September, most places are a lot colder, specifically places that are so close to the sea that on the rare occasion the wind actually dies down, you can hear the waves.
- When you’re planning on cooking whilst camping you either need good weather or failing that, space within your tent to put your camping stove up, we had neither. So we did absolutely no cooking through out our time camping and lived off sandwiches.
- Heavy rainfall is not relaxing.
- Hedgehogs can and will invade your tent.
- Double sleeping bags are severely over rated, why anyone would think they would come in use, packaged as our one was, in a family camping pack, your children are an arm’s width away and besides the sleeping bag, although double, is so small, the air bed rapidly loosing it’s inflation and it’s so cold, who’d have ideas about that anyway? Me and Mr. Lacer both agree that next time we go camping, we’re taking our two single sleeping bags!
- I suspect as well, next time we go camping (and yes there will be a next time), whilst me and Mr. Lacer are camping in our two separate sleeping bags, we may sleep head to toe, as the air bed is so small, the only way to sleep if you were sleeping on your tummy (which I do most of the time) is to sleep with your arms bent under you, because if they’re to the side, you’re whacking your sleeping partner in the face. So the number of times I woke up each night, my arms cramping in agony, well, I lost count.
- Mr. Lacer is more addicted to tea than I thought.
- Boy Lacer is ruled by his stomach – even though our cooking facilities were non-existent, we still ate fairly regularly and at normal times but Boy Lacer didn’t seem to think this was going to happen, so the most common phrase out of his mouth, at any time of day, throughout the entire trip, was “I’m hungry!”
- Don’t expect, as much as you’re head over heels in love with your smart phone, that it’s going to get you through your camping trip, ok it’s great that it combines the function of at least five gadgets, none of those ‘five’ gadgets are going to work if the battery is dead. We did have an in-car charger, which broke as soon as we used it, so we had to rush to buy another one but even then could never get the phone completely charged and I had to spend most of the holiday rationing and planning it’s charge. Now if I’d taken a good old fashioned mp3 player and my camera (which I have yet to find the memory card for – still) and I don’t know, maybe used a map, I could have lived without being able to make phone calls and blog if the battery had gone dead.
- Eco lanterns are really good, they charge relatively quickly with an in-car charger and are easily top-up-able with using the hand charger and (providing you have charged them in the car recently) they last all night.
- It makes our tiny flat feel big.
- Never, ever go camping in September, ever ever again, it’s too cold and it’s too close to the start of school. Fitting in a holiday the weekend before school starts is not the smartest thing we’ve ever done, if anything because not only have I had to, prior to the trip, pack everything including the kitchen sink, I’ve also had to prepare Girl Lacer for going back to school on Monday. This is only the second back to school I’ve ever had to prepare and obviously the first time we did it, it was the first time and obviously that was hard work, but what I failed to appreciate is that it’s always hard work and I know I’m not the only one who thinks that, just by judging the faces on all the wilting mothers in McDonalds earlier this week and the mountains of strewn shoes in all the shops. There is always a certain amount of shopping to be done and combining that with getting stuff for a first time camping trip, but it this way, our bank account is now literally weeping, we have to go camping again, just to justify the expense! So planning a trip away on the same financial month as new school shoes, new coat, new bag, new lunch box, new uniform, not clever. And of course there’s the fact that Girl Lacer looks rather tired now . . .
When I was a kid in South Wales, I remember it being full of great places to go and one of my favourite places was St. Fagans. Back then it was called a Folk Museum or something like that, but it definitely had ‘folk’ in the title because my dad told be recently that he delayed taking us there for years when we lived there because with the word folk in the title he thought it’d be one of those ‘jolly people dancing up and down sort of places’, which it isn’t. Nowadays it’s called the Museum of Welsh Life, I think, I sound unsure because to us and to I suspect an awful lot of people, it’s always just St. Fagans, the name of the castle in the museum’s grounds.
St. Fagan’s is a rather unique sort of place, set in the grounds of the castle, the museum keepers have rescued run down historic buildings from all over Wales and dismantled them brick by brick and then reassembled them, exactly brick by brick, plank by plank, in the grounds of the castle. The extensive grounds are pretty as they are but with gems of cottages and working buildings nestled amongst the woods and fields, it is very atmospheric.
And the real treat is that for most of the buildings, you can go into,
This was one of the rooms in the red cottage in the picture above. I liked how the pattern on the wall was stencilled on, sort of like early wallpaper.
As well as homes and mills, they also had shops, including a very recognisable group, if you’re a Doctor Who fan, they filmed outside this shop in the Doctor Who two-parter Human Nature.
You could go into this row of shops, I particularly liked the display of goods in the grocers.
We also went in an old Working Man’s Institute, I liked how they had restored the library.
We also saw a working weaving mill, a corn mill and a farm full of pigs and ducks and turkeys and a cockerel. A great day out, I could easily go back again and again.
We went to Cardiff Bay today, I knew Cardiff Bay from a long time ago, from when my dad worked at the docks there, the red building where he worked still stands, but not much else. But I also know Cardiff Bay from somewhere else, like any other Doctor Who / Torchwood fan would. We saw the plaza where Gwen and Captain Jack often stride, right at the centre of the rift, we even saw the door to the Torchwood office, currently festooned as a memorial to Ianto, with even, bizarrely, one solitary single woman’s black leather high heel boot. We saw the restaurant where the Doctor dined the Slitheen and went under the tunnel used in the last Christmas special. We also saw the actual Doctor Who exhibition, which was fun, lots of props and costumes from the modern incarnation, the best bit was getting exterminated by the daleks, that had Boy Lacer whimpering and Girl Lacer hiding behind my back!
We also went to see Techniquest today, also located on Cardiff Bay. Techniquest is like a souped up version of the play area at the Science Museum in London, but far far better. Techniquest is all play area, each exhibit showing in a hands on way various scientific principles. With lots more space around the exhibits and the exhibits being better maintained, it was really fun. Girl Lacer (5) really enjoyed it and could have stayed even longer Boy Lacer (3) on the other hand had a lower tolerance for it.