Nice is nice

I have just returned from an 8 day trip to Nice with my daughter and mother, it is the annual holiday that we always take, women only! In fact it was more than 8 days as first I had to travel to Bath and then onwards to Bexhill where my mother lives ( and the same in reverse).

The weather there was brilliant at about 25 – 32degrees and the sky’s were endlessly blue. We took our break fairly leisurely, having been there several times before. There was no need to rush and see all the tourist sites. We did however go to Antibes and the Picasso museum which I’ve not been to before. Antibes, which we went to by train, is not at all how I imagined it. It is quite ordinary ( no disrespect meant ), everyday folk going about their lives, some tourists yes, but very much a lived in town (apart from the port which has all the usual toys for boys, rich peoples boats in it.)

We went to a very pleasant, covered market, full of the most gorgeous produce, vegetables, fish, cheese and meat, but there were ordinary people there doing thei shopping, not at all a tourist trap. We wandered up through the old town to the museum, having stopped for lunch en route.The Museum was well set out and we were able to use a wheel chair for mum. The best bit about it were the views from the windows!

Other hi lights from our trip to Nice included, a good lunch in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the Beaux-Arts museum where they had loads of Dufy, evening bathing in the Med., the Central Park in Nice, discovering more than one art shop, the pizza restaurant and time spent up on the castle mound just reading our books.

As usual there were road works in Nice, this time around the Old Port as they extend the tram, but that is France for you, always seeking to improve. I must say that the help that we had ordered for mum at the airport in Nice was second to none, unlike Gatwick where it seems to be under staffed by geriatrics!

Here are a few photos!

In The Garden

I had 3 tonnes of top soil delivered and then it snowed again! I was determined to empty one of the bags though so I shovelled away and as Clive King says in Stig of the Dump ‘it warms you twice…’ though in this case I wasn’t sawing wood.

Here I am after the soil had just been delivered and here’s me gardening in a blizzard.

There was soon snow across much of the country and Verity who had just returned from Singapore, had some in Bath too.

Of course it would take that moment for the central heating to stop working. Not only that, but I had packed up the sitting room ready for a plasterer, so we had no access to the fire in there either. There was nothing for it but to go on holiday to the cottage and spend the time there until Therma Heat could get out to us.

In the meantime the snow has all gone again and I have continued to work on the garden.

I am going to get some more fruit trees from B and Q, but it is starting to shape up nicely. The plants I bought were from Mayfield with the voucher Verity had given me for Christmas. They were on their Search and Rescue table so some of them only cost a pound.

While I think of it the local bus company is owned by a Mr Hogg, the busses have the web address on their side wwwroadhoggs! Another creative owner has a logging lorry with the name over the cab ‘The Log Father’ in the same type face that they used for ‘The God Father.’ It’s nice to know there is some humour about.

Here are the before and after pictures of the sitting room

On another note, Laurie got married to Nicole this week. It feels odd not to be there but I am there in spirit. I have just reread this and it sounds a bit off hand. Of course I am very pleased and proud to congratulate Laurie and Nicole, and I am pleased to welcome Nicole into the family formally. Now we have something else to look forward to, a baby girl!

Well I have just hired someone to decorate the sitting room so I guess I better get moving and clear the room!

Visit to the Coast

On our journeys to Newcastle we have often wondered what Alnmouth was like so on the first sunny day after the snow we took ourselves off to see. There was still quite a bit of snow lining the roads so we avoided the route to Wooler we normally take and joined the main road a bit further along. We could see what appeared to be a fine Castle in the distance ( Ford Castle we think) so resolved to visit that on another occasion.

Alnmouth is very charming but much smaller than it seemed from the train. The Main Street is well supplied with pubs and restaurants though, no doubt for the tourist trade in the summer. There was also a fairly classy deli where we stopped for lunch, very nice but the wine was very expensive (we didn’t have any ). Having walked up and down the Main Street we decided to go back to Alnwick as it was too blowy for a walk on the beach.

There was a Persian rug sale in the Town Hall, a good excuse to see it and to learn about the different carpets the young woman had for sale. There were several ( all of them really) that we would have liked to buy but we haven’t decorated the house yet so it would be silly to buy one just yet.

We drove home via the A1 and then cut across to Wooler, stopping on the way to take some photos. The views were breathtaking and my photos only give a hint of the crystal clear light.

Having driven all day without any bother I decided that we could go back across country. Big mistake, floods, potholes and when we were within about 3 miles of home the road was actually closed, presumably for urgent repairs ( English roads). So we had to cross the valley floor, dodge more floods and pick our way home. In the end we went into Kelso to pick up some things before going home.

It was lucky we had our day out when we did as the next day it rained.

Time Flies

It seems like ages since I wrote my last post and certainly we seem to have done plenty of things, trouble is I can’t remember them! Oh well, I’m sure it will come back to me once I start writing. The trouble is with using Instagram and Facebook, not to mention Twitter, I think I have already written about something when in fact I have just done a quickie!

We made a return visit to Newcastle one Saturday ( not the best day but tickets were cheap ) as it was bright and sunny and Hyw wanted to see the David Bomberg Exhibition. I wasn’t bothered preferring to just look round the general collection but in fact I managed to sneak in via a rear entrance, so saw 3/4 of it anyway, and for free! Newcastle looks much better in the sun, as do most places, but it was fearfully crowded. Lunch was at a Thai place overlooking the Grey monument. We went to the Grainger Street indoor market and I bought some cockles ( in fact they were over salty ) and almost bought whelks but I could see Hyw looking queasy so I didn’t buy any ( on this occasion!)

The Beast From The East visited us on the Tuesday, we were warned that we would have heavy snow so went out on Monday to make sure we had enough food, and it was just as well as it snowed, and snowed and snowed some more!

We were effectively cut off for a week but the power didn’t go down, 4 wheel drive vehicles could make it to Kelso after a few days and the snow Plough came round about 6 times a day. The village shop was stripped bare but we were well stocked and I had enough food and wine for three weeks.

For my birthday Hyw had bought me a Hawthorne Tree and a Beech hedge which I had planted just before the snow. They seem to be alright but time will tell! I have managed to get out into the garden since and have prepared where I will have three Tonnes of topsoil and mushroom compost delivered to. I can’t wait for it to arrive and then I can start planning my flower beds and spend the voucher Verity gave me for Christmas.

Verity has missed out on all the cold weather, she has been in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan for the past month. She flies home tomorrow but will find it very cold compared with the temperatures she has been having.

I have been having fun needlefelting, having been effectively housebound by the weather …

It is good fun but I don’t intend to make a career out of it! In the good weather before the Snow we went to Galashiels and I bought a Staffordshire Dog in a charity shop for a Fiver, then we called in at the Melrose antique shop and I picked up another for £20. I now had two mismatched dogs but I am very pleased with them. Hyw suggested, in a throw away remark that I could make one, so I did, papier-mâché to be exact. It has rather a thick neck but not too bad for a first attempt.

We had a party on the 16 February, it was a great success with about 20 people coming, filling the house to bursting point, lots of good food ( Cassoulet, Lasagne, Wembworthy Cream and chocolate cheesecake) and loads of drink. It really went off well and the people we invited all got on well together and said how nice it was to meet new people. I’m planning one for the summer now.

Well I have to go now and watch Only Connect now so I will leave you with one more pic…

Snow on Snow

We seem to have had plenty of the ‘white stuff’ this year and it is only the 19 January. We had near blizzard conditions earlier this week and I thought it was melting away but have just looked out the window to find the roads are covered again! At least my snow shovels are getting plenty of use but I will have to put off going to Galashiels to collect my Clark’s shoes a bit longer. Luckily they keep them at the store for 2 weeks.

Laurie has announced that he and Nicole will be getting married on the 4 April in Singapore so all my love goes to them for a happy future. Hyw is hoping to go out there to see them, probably June or September.

Last night was ‘ladies night’ at ‘The Daffodils’ and we had a very pleasant meal at ‘The Plough’. Hyw got his tie, a navy polyester job with an embroidered daffodil, it has a wipe clean surface so no worries about spilt egg!

I have started painting again after a break of almost 9 months. To start with, I am working on a decorative piece to get my hand back in, using gouache which is easy to handle. It is surprising how hard it is, as much of it is confidence as anything. Oh well, time will tell.

My daily walks have taken me along the river bank and with my new wellies I have been able to wade in and across the shallow bits of the river. I have been looking at the river bank with new eyes, almost beachcombing as the river ‘rises and falls’ quite dramatically, very suddenly. I have been finding bricks, and since visiting Katherine and Stephen, I have realised the significance of them. There are quite a few of them so I am sure I will build up quite a collection in no time. As well as bricks there are quite a few other oddities that turn up.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone where the EARL brick comes from and also any ideas as to what the cone shaped item is. I think it may have been a fire extinguisher but I would be grateful to have that confirmed.

Christmas Past

This has been our first Christmas in Town Yetholm and so I now feel as if we have made the ‘move’. All the family came from far and wide: Laurie and Nicole from Singapore, Gwilym and Fi from Taiwan, Xian from Manchester, Matthew and Maureen from London and Verity from Bath. The only person who wasn’t with us was my mother but she had at least visited a few months back. Everyone had a travel adventure to tell at some point, either coming or going.

I was fearful of snow preventing any of my children reaching me but in fact in the fortnight before Christmas we had unseasonably mild weather which continued for the all arrivals. What we could not foresee was that Verity, who would be last to arrive, would find her journey cancelled due to an aircraft from Frankfurt leaving the runway at Bristol. Fortunately no-one was injured but it left Verity on a bus, getting a text to tell her the flight was cancelled. There were a few hours of panic, a few hundred pounds expended, but eventually she made her way here, via an early morning flit to London. All were safely arrived.

We had rented the house next door so everyone was well accommodated and all had space to escape to when needed. Cooking was something of a challenge but I soon became used to travelling between the house and the cottage, where we ate, and it was no different from times of yore when the kitchen was separate from the main house, or even cooking in a big hotel. There was one night when I didn’t have to cook and we went over to the Plough for a meal, kindly paid for by my mother and Hywel. It was a splendid occasion to see all of my children together and their partners around one table.

The snow really made Christmas, and there were plenty of walks in it as well as walks beforehand, in the milder weather. Footwear was a bit of a problem but all in all they managed ok.

Marks cottage had suffered in the cold weather leading up to Christmas. We had been along and moved the paintings out of harms way but Hyw went along with the boys to cut up the downstairs carpet, which was sodden, and removed it, in the hope that it would give the house a chance to dry out. We have been back since and it is drying out but will need a lot of money spent on restoring the fabric of the building.

Everyone enjoyed themselves but all too soon it was time for some to depart. The snow caused a lot of worry but eventually Mo made it to her family in Ireland, Lol and Nic made it by the skin of their teeth to Singapore, having left baggage at Gatwick, which was subsequently restored to them. Xian had a hellish journey to Manchester, arriving home at 2 am and Matt and Verity went home via London. Fi and Gwilym went home after everyone else but their journey was far from ideal, the train was cancelled from Tweedbank, the flight from Edinburgh was an hour and a half late and they missed their connection at Schipol. They did have an extra day in Amsterdam though, so not all bad and everyone is home, some later than expected, and safe.

Happy New Year to you all!