Inspirations

We all have inspirations, some conscious and many unconscious.  Some of them don’t necessarily stand out, not all are the poster of Kim Wilde or Madonna on our bedroom walls encouraging us to be the next big pop star, some of them are more like hints, notions in a direction.  I do believe, just like our preferences, inspirations drive us to wanting to do certain things more, and indeed, some indicators may drive us in another direction and highlight things we don’t want to do at all!

I have already mentioned some of my creative inspirations, however, last week I went to two literary readings at the Buxton Opera House as part of the Buxton Festival, the first Julia Bradbury and the second Sarah Raven.  Both for me are inspirational women and make me want to get out there walking more and eating more healthily both for long term health and happiness benefits.

Julia Bradbury I greatly admire as for being the “outdoors guru” from bringing the outdoors into our living rooms on a Sunday evening while she was presenter on BBC Countryfile to her recent programme aired on ITV Best walks with a View .  For me she brings womanhood and youth to a outdoors pursuit which has been seen as for the older generation and dominated by men, go Julia!  She talked about her love of walking, how it increases your life expectancy and happiness, her inspirations (her Dad and Wainwright) and issues which concern her such as the inequality of women’s pay still today, plastic and it’s effect on the environment and bees, The Duke of Edinburgh 60 Award and more.

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And I was lucky enough to meet her afterwards for a chat and a photo, lovely one of Julia, I look like I am wearing a maternity tent and am slightly manic, I’m neither pregnant or manic.

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So how does Julia inspire me?  She makes me want to get out more, see more of our gorgeous countryside but also she’s a strong woman with a voice, ambitions, has great determination and grit, a strong family woman too.  That’s good enough, I want some of that. The inscription in my book in the picture above is an encouraging inspiration for me. Check out her website The Outdoor Guide for more.

Sarah Raven discussed in her talk the benefits of as she calls it “Good Good Food“.  Being a huge fan of holidaying in Crete she described how she was inspired by seeing the older women gathered in the villages chatting in the afternoon and how many of them reach ripe old ages of 80+ which made her want to understand how and examine their diet and her own.

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This was a brilliant talk, Sarah Raven having been a doctor, before being know as a gardener and presenter, discussed the medical benefits of food groups, in particular the tomato, kale, beetroot and salad.  I have since cooked kale crisps and filled the fridge with beetroot, spinach, broccoli and kale. Her desire to feed her family well and increasing their life span is a great inspiration and understanding the chemistry of the food really helps you to understand the medical benefits further.

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20160718_110024-01My last little inspiration today is a clip I found on YouTube, since starting yoga in March the benefits to my back have been massive, however, my teacher finishes for the summer tomorrow.  I am determined not to seize up and to carry on enjoying classes throughout this time.  I have decided to visit the Bikram Yoga Centre in Manchester in this time because, why not?  I can’t do it very well but it will be an experience, a laugh maybe but I am sure the health benefits will be massive, and I’ve never done Bikram before, hardly yoga until this year. I am a firm believer in not over thinking about things you want to do, just to do them.  So, looking into Bikram I found this link, it’s amazing.  I am inspired to be as bendy as anything!  Please watch, this woman is amazing and as she says, change!

 

The Torrs and Mam Tor

Sunday New Mills to The Torrs, Tuesday Mam Tor 10 miler, lovely. A couple of great walks, one short, one longer both stunning for different reasons.

The Torrs in New Mills is a gorge hidden in the middle of the town surrounded by viaducts and home to the Millennium Walkway, Torr Hydro and Torr Vale Mill.  It’s great and I love it, for it’s rugged beauty and man made adaptations both recent and old.

One of the best bits about walking is what you learn along the way, I was saddened to read why the Millennium Bridge is a tribute to the chief engineer Stan Brewster who worked proudly on this project; he was tragically he was killed in the London bombings of 2005, this I find desperately sad but how amazing to have left such a legacy such as this bridge?

Having previously worked in the clothing industry I have spent a lot of time in factories and manufacturing units in the UK and Far East and I have always loved the motion of creation and the formulaic process of mass production, even a disused and ruined factory holds appeal such as Torr Vale Mill.  Now the mill is a listed building, once a cotton mill it now stands empty and crumbling.

I really recommend a visit to The Torrs, a walk along the Millennium Bridge and on wards towards Mousely Bottom.  Go and see it for yourself, for me it is the gem of New Mills, a true hidden masterpiece.

So, Mam Tor on Tuesday. I took a friend for his first visit to Mam Tor, he had heard me yabber on about it too many times at work and was desperate to go for a visit as soon as he had time off work.  I have never had the time to walk the route Mam Tor to Losehill, down to Castleton and back to Mam Tor via the Devil’s Arse cavern and Winnats Pass until now, we followed the route using the Ordanance Survey Map – The Peak District.

Climbing Mam Tor the dark and heavy rain clouds were on their way from Kinder Scout, thankfully they passed over us towards Tideswell.  It’s fair to say at this point mood is excitement and the amazement of such stunning scenery is still with my friend.  It is always nerve wracking when you recommend somewhere to someone but he was bowled over.  I am so proud to show my city friends what the countryside has to show them, David was stunned by the beauty.  So, at approx 1/2 a mile in, all is well and we are speechless with the views and exhilaration of the fresh air and natural beauty.

Turning behind me dark clouds and in front blue skies, it’s like being on top of the world and a millions miles from the usual worries and stresses.  Yep, we’re still happy, 2 miles in.

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The route back down from the tor is steep passing through fields of sheep and cows/bulls so beware!  Reaction:  fear.  5 miles.

Panic over and the arrival in Castleton, people, shops, civilisation to those of us who like gift shops and sweeties.  Castleton is is incredibly quaint; a primary school so small that uses the village hall for the children to eat in at lunch, curiosity shops, ramblers cafes, gift shops, narrow streets and chocolate box houses.

By this point we had walked about 5.5 miles and were hungry, low blood sugar and a bit wobbly, we stopped at the Ramblers Rest and dined out on coffee and cake, gave the doggies a break and a drink before continuing on towards Peveril Castle and the Devil’s Arse Cavern.  Mood: optimistic, reinvigorated, such rush of cake.

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We turned back from the cavern agreeing to visit another day; as it’s an hour long tour and panic was starting to set in about the long walk back to the cars (it’s miles).  Mood : panic.6 miles in, 4 to go but still loving every minute.

So, back through more gorgeous little streets and out to Longcliff, a path taking you to the back of Speedwell Cavern, delirium and hunger has set in once more…

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And now for the walk through Winnats Pass.  Have you ever been on a walk where at this stage you are laughing so much because you really don’t think it’s possible and you don’t know how you’re going to push on?  That’s the stage we’re at now.  And it’s Winnats Pass.

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 I have written about Winnats Pass before so I won’t  repeat myself with my love and fascination for the place but just tell you about my dear friend David’s face at this point;think panic, fear, denial and hysterics and you’ve got the mood.  We are about 7 miles in now and it’s a steep walk up and through Winnats, and I feel a bit guilty and a lot mischievous about this next push.  The clock is also ticking, he’s got choir to go to at the Trafford Centre, I’ve got my daughter to collect from school, and darkness could be closing in at any point. And we’re hungry again and running out of water.  Mood: the giggles.

So, eventually we made it back having scrambled the last few miles up hill, through long grass, clarts and cow poo, 10 miles, 19,325 steps, 1200 calories each, two very tired dogs, two manic but very happy owners.  Same time tomorrow he said…We loved every single minute of it, who wouldn’t?  This is our playground.

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Freddie Bear Blankets on a Wet Rainy Day

When my gorgeous nephew Freddie was born I crocheted him a blanket, it is soft and light and he loves to play on it, snuggles in it, make a den, wears as a cape and keeps warm in it.  A child’s imagination can make a blanket a million valuable things!

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And when I was a little girl my mum had made a huge crochet blanket which I would play on on the floor, count the stitches, make tents and dens and later took to university. It is still going strong and decorates my bed in the winter and I won’t tell you how old it is!

And that is what I like about handmade gifts and treasures, they hold special memories.

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Since making Freddie Bear his blanket and older brother Alfie Chops before that, I have made blankets for gifts for friends and family and today have added one to my Etsy shop.

The Freddie Bear is from very fine soft alpaca and take a lot of time to create but are so rewarding to make and give to loved ones. From selecting my colour palette to the finishing press and trimming of yarn ends, I love every stage of creating these blankets.

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The rhythm of regular stitches is so relaxing and therapeutic.

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But it’s not only the children that like to snuggle in a blanket on a wet rainy day, Wodger loves to hunker down in his bit of crochet blanket love too…it’s a family thing.

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I do take commissions for your family loved ones and pets, everyone needs a cosy blanket to keep hugging through the years.

Forgive me, I am addicted to yarn

I’ve said it, it’s out there in the open.  It started years ago, I could see it coming but it just took hold and I couldn’t stop.  If we are to analyse this properly let’s go back to the beginning and see how it developed from first symptoms to diagnosis.

I think the hoarding tendency started way back to when I was the age of 9. Then it was fabric before I moved onto the seriously hard yarn addiction.  I was just dabbling in light fabric and trimmings, collecting pieces of fabric and lovingly stashing them away into a nightie case in my cupboard.  I knew every piece of fabric in that nightie case, from the fairy fabric to match my wallpaper to the thick jumbo cord from a pinafore, I would unfold them, stroke the textures and refold them before placing them back in their bed. 20160622_111633-01It then moved on to GCSE Fashion and Textiles, an A Level would follow before the degree took hold.  When the degree really took grip I began to dilly dally in collecting Vogue and Elle magazines and stack them in my student flat, at this stage it is clear to see it was becoming serious, but it was still mainly fabric and light trimmings.

Fast forward some years, the airing cupboard is rammed with a fabric stash, the are drawer units full of glittery ribbons and bias bindings, Indian sequins and buttons of sorts and sizes but there are cupboards, under bed drawers, storage bags, chests of drawers, bags upon bags of yarn hidden discretely  from view, projects in pretty boxes and a room loving transformed into the “Wool Shack”.  20160622_112111-01I love yarn, I love colour, I love the fact that you can have a million different colours, different dye methods and finishes, weights, fibre contents and textures and only someone else with this infliction will understand this addiction.  From Madeline Tosh speckled hand dyes from America, delicate natural dyes of Eden Cottage Yarns from the Yorkshire Dales to the robust yarn of the Toft Alpaca bread in Warwickshire.  They are all gorgeous and I want to squish, stroke and smell them and be taken back to the weaving sheds of my university days where the smell of steamy warm oily yarn is still in my mind.

I ask you to watch this video and in particular 2.40mins in where she goes to her stash, those of us with this condition nod silently in understanding and appreciation, “yes, she has it too”.

Today I await another drop off from my trusted dealer at Wool Warehouse, something to keep me going, a little pick me up.  Some of you will recognise that excitement of waiting for the drop; the sound of the postie walking to your front door, you trying to open the door without behaving like Kathy Bates in Misery, this time trying not to grab the parcel from their hands and slamming the door shut so to feast on the order and then work out where on earth you’re going to hide it like this old thing I’ve always worn.

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Looking back again it’s hardly surprising; I come from a family of women who do not, who can not and will not not sit still to watch TV without something being create by hand.  My gorgeous soft skinned Grandma always with her knitting needles chiming in her hands, her metal sticks ringing with her high speed knit one purl one.  My mum, crochet, knitting, sewing, tapestry endless creations, for me the habit is crochet.  We family crafties are not the only ones, I love to watch Gogglebox to see what the Michael’s family mum is making. I bet she’s got a fabulous stash off camera, show me that please Channel 4!

Knitting and craft addiction has recently been proven to be good for you and your mental health not bad, read this article and many others on this subject.  For me being addicted to yarn pleases me, it makes me relax and sit down, when I can’t get my fix from being outdoors, when indoors creating is my alternative dopamine fix.

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I follow Jane from Sydney, Instagram’s amazing Queen Babs yarnbombing extraordinaire, catch Jane at about 14.56mins in as she explains the importance of yarn to her health and happiness. Instagram, like Pinterest, is another habit of the yarn addict for the insight to the world of other addicts and their habits.

So let’s look at the facts:

Signs and symptoms

  • Hoarding and manic collecting tendencies
  • Packing a small stash to take with you wherever you go, leading to
  • Hoping for a delay, whether it be at the dentist waiting room, GP surgery, train travel, roadworks, school play
  • Getting through the day knowing there’s a drop due and the first call home is to enquire whether the postman has been?
  • Habit of touching other people’s clothes and home accessories made from yarn resulting in a glazed expression, that is the sufferer thinking about yarn
  • Glazing over when the day is dull, again, thinking about yarn
  • An inability to sit still without yarn, looking at pictures of yarn or reading about yarn
  • Anti social behaviour and impatience surrounding deliveries and receipt of goods
  • Inability to travel without the use of KnitMap
  • Wandering off alone in  a foreign city, looking for a shop found on KnitMap
  • Taking longer to pack holiday yarn than holiday clothes, photocopying / downloading patterns before leaving
  • A fear of loosing hooks and needles at airport security.

Causes

  • Usually hereditary, friendship inspired, personal preference.

Diagnosis

  • Two or more of signs and symptoms is a sure sign that you loved has succumbed to the condition.

Cure and Prognosis

  • It’ll never reside, be happy
  • You will live longer with a healthier and happier mind, we’ve seen the evidence has proven this.

Living with someone with a yarn addiction

  • Get your own hobby
  • Turn a blind eye, or
  • Learn about it and empathise
  • You can support this condition healthily, gift purchases of yarn will be most welcomed and appreciated all proven to strengthen the relationship
  • Websites offering support can be found such as http://www.knitmap.com, book a holiday based on a yarn crawl
  • Give time for the discovery of new yarns stores on holiday, be patient.

So, I’ve confessed about my addiction to yarn, am I sorry?  Do I offer repent?  I have to admit, no, NO!  Sorry but not sorry. I think I have just given a justification, this therefore, is not a confession but a declaration, a coming out, I am a yarn addict and I am proud!

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I have a cure to my habit it does not involve denial or abstinence but that story is for another time.  Till then.

Long grass, dark skies and darting swallows

One of my favourite stories I read to my children at bed time was We’re Going on a Bear Hunt  by Michael Rosen and today I was reminded of it when walking out across the moor.  In the story when encountering long wavy grass the family of explorers say “we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we have to go through it, swishy swashy, swishy swashy… ” and those of you familiar with the story will know how it goes as the family conquer the grass and continue on their journey.  I adore this book and think it holds a very important message to all ages – whatever the obstacle you can’t avoid it and have to go through it.  And so through knee high grass I walked.

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Long grass also reminds me of the opening scenes of Little House on the Prairie, and oh how much I wanted to be like Laura Ingalls Wilder running through the grass, Laura Ashley style dress and long plaits down my back.  I devoured the books one after the other and this makes me think, will the next generation of children have such lovely memories provoked by books they read in their later years?  Will YouTube and Facebook offer as many memorable moments?  I doubt it and that’s a sad thought.

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So, I took a simple walk through the swishy swashy grass and up the hills to the top of the moor, this is a view I absolutely love, it’s a breathe deep, fill your lungs and admire the land moment.  The dark skies are back, the grass was wet and the rain was teasingly falling but I am the kind of walker that if I were to return home dry and clean then it wouldn’t have seemed like a decent or satisfying walk, for me it’s about what you get out of it not how clean I stay.

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Climbing higher the girls came to greet me, as the lambs get older their mums stand still, protect them and don’t run away like before, instead they inquisitively stand and stare at me and my lamb looking like dog on a lead.  I’m sure they think we are quite mad.

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Back down to the older ladies and to me this sheep in the foreground is wearing a jumper with a lovely round neckline, don’t you think so too?

But what I couldn’t capture today were the swallows, rising and falling across the fields, swooping and looping and turning in the air loving their flight.  Maybe next time.

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And so swishy swashy, swishy swashy long grass but no deep mud or bears, just sheep and their lambs, some swallows, a few cows and a sense of calm on the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jam jars and tonic bottles

Normally when a flower bouquet looks a wee bit ropy I tend to bin it, done.  Today however, I almost threw a bouquet of flowers away and realised that within the wilted ones were more hiding and still looking fresh. I arranged them in little glass bottles and vases which I had recycled and kept “just in case”.

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I’ve kept tonic bottles, jam jars, milk bottles, ornamental jars, olive jars, any jars and I think these gorgeous beauties justified my hoarding and recycling tendencies.  Carry on hording!20160610_092335-01Look how the pink flower reflects making the water appear pink, even the water looks pretty.20160610_091837-01 (1)

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And close up these flowers are beautiful, definitely worth deconstructing bouquets, I don’t think I’ll use a whole bunch again.

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Happy Days.

The Roaches

The Roaches is two outcrops of gritstone between Buxton in Derbyshire and Leek in Staffordshire, it’s stunning and I really recommend you go and explore.  I have only recently started to visit the Roaches having driven past on numerous occasions and I absolutely love it.

I do need to tell you, it is not for:

  • Small children
  • Crazy dogs who jump off ledges
  • Dogs that chase sheep off ledges
  • Anyone who is not confident walking, climbing steep hills or frightened of heights.

It is for:

  • Adrenaline junkies
  • Walkers
  • Climbers
  • Explorers and those of us looking to see breath taking views and have a love of nature
  • Wallabies,released from a local zoo in the 30’s, but sadly no longer there
  • Peregrine falcons, now nesting.

It’s stunning.

From Buxton on the A53 I recommend taking the turning right for Upper Hulme and driving until you see a lay by close to the Peregrine falcon viewing point.

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As you start walking you will come to Don Whillian’s Memorial Hut which is built into the rock face and as much as you want to, you can’t go closer to the hut  unless you are part of a private party.

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Continue to woodland with smaller rock faces ideal for less experienced climbers to practice, (they’re not mattresses everywhere, they’re crash mats) ideal for having picnics and for children to play and have an adventure at the base of the rocks.

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Keep walking, keeping head higher through the trees and you’ll soon see paths up through the rocks.

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And climb and climb up and through the rocks, ropes are optional, steps are provided and I recommend you take plenty of water!

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Reaching the top your view is out of this world, across to Leek to the left of Tittersworth Reservoir, turning clockwise towards Cheshire and continuing round to Derbyshire.

 

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If you dare there is a seat carved into the rock on the edge of the upper tier over hanging a vast drop with an inscription dedicated to the visit of the Prince and Princess of Teck.

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The haunting tale of Jenny Greenteeth, or the Blue Nymph of Doxey Pool, originates from the story of  a woman who was walking across the Roaches on a foggy day, she fell in the pond and became a mermaid known as Jenny Greenteeth.  From that day any man who walked past she would grabb them and drag them down to their untimely death in the bottomless pool.  Today she curses any dog who dares jump in and covers them with thick brown goo never to be washed off again!

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Continuing onwards past Doxey’s Pool can take you further along the tops of the rocks back towards Buxton or turn as I did and headed back to the bottom along the back of the rocks.

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I have been lucky each time I have been here and the ice cream van has been there in the lay by to meet me with the most delicious and creamy ice cream.  Happy days – a well deserved treat.

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For sat navs follow postcode ST13 8UA for a closest destination.
Map Reference : SK 005 621

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