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Monday, 20 November 2017


Saturday : After many hours in the car travelling through some breath taking countryside we arrived at our cottage in Killearn Sterling, home for the next 5 nights.
The owners lived in the house to the side of the cottage. The front of the cottage faced a wooded area and you parked at the rear which seemed rather strange until the owner explained.  The cottage was the station masters lodge.  The original railway 'West Highland Way' ran in front of the cottage but has since been dismantled and become a country walk which we completed the following day.
The white building is the distillery and the mound is behind.

Views from half way up the mound

We had a lovely open fire every evening and we thoroughly enjoyed the lack of street lighting and the absolute silence of the country side. The following morning (Sunday) we completed an 8.5mile  walk to the Gelgoyne distillery and up the mound behind.  I couldn't make it to the top it was just too steep and slippery underfoot. I wished I could have though as the views of Loch Lomond from there are great. Having burnt a 1000 calories on this walk alone I cooked  a mock chicken Sunday dinner and we relaxed in front of the fire. On Monday we went to Balloch village a short distance away.  It is known as the gateway to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. We walked around the some of the shoreline of Loch Lomond which is 24 miles long and between ¾ of a mile and 5 miles wide. We went through Balloch country park up to the castle which was closed for renovation.  There was a stone mason replacing some of the stone work to the front of the castle and  it was looking rather sad . We noticed that the Scots are a dog loving nation. We bumped into one lady in the park who literally had 9 dogs with her.  I  asked if they were all hers and she replied yes. She had two French bull dogs, a giant Poodle, Springer Spaniel, Jack Russell, Alsatian, Labrador  and 2 others I can't recall.  

Tuesday: We went into Glasgow. I have been to Edinburgh many times but never to Glasgow. The shops were all dressed for Christmas. Frasers is an old department store that is architecturally divine and hosts a wonderful light display. Parking for 5 hours was an eye watering £8.80 but well worth it.  
Blurred! but Christmas lights to die for.

Glasgow a mix of old and new
Wednesday:  We headed for the much smaller city of Sterling where William Wallace defeated the English. We spent a few hours exploring the town and buildings before heading back to the cottage.  We stopped in the village of Killearn and completed 4 miles of the Pipe Track (10 Miles in full) following the route of the pipe bringing clean water from loch Katrine to Glasgow. There's certainly no shortage of water in Scotland. 

Apparently water bills form part of the Council tax bill in Scotland, no meters and no shortages here! Thursday came and it was time to move on once again so with the car packed up we travelled east to the coast of  Yorkshire. Back soon. Tx 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

UK trip continued

We had a restful nights sleep in Colwyn Bay and headed out to Llandudno the following morning. Llandudno was called the Queen of the Welsh resorts by the Victorians and Edwardians,  standing looking down at the crescent of traditional hotels on the sea front you can understand why.  There is a pier, a wide promenade that runs from one end of the bay to the other  and a really good shopping centre with a wide variety of shops new and old. There is an Alice and Wonderland Trail that has some fantastic statues of the characters from the book around the town.  Apparently Llandudno was the holiday  resort of the real Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell the girl who inspired Lewis Caroll.  However it has never been proven one way or another whether  Caroll met Alice in Llandudno or not. I was surprised how busy it was. Lots of the local hotels were dressed  for Christmas and school children were on holiday.

Lots of Christmas Jollies going on in the local hotels
After another long walk we treated ourselves to tea and Welsh-cakes at the Lemon Tree Tea rooms that had a  mural of Alice and the Mad Hatter on a wall. We then had a good look around the town,  I was very impressed with the large craft shop 'Craft Age' in Mostyn Street. We headed back to Colwyn Bay late afternoon to see if there was any tickets left for the following evenings   show starring Paul Sinha from The Chase.  We had spotted the board outside Colwyn theatre the day before but it was closed. I checked on line and there were some spaces and we could get a concession giving us a discount.  (£14 each)

Former Doctor and professional Chaser Paul Sinha is also a stand up comedian.  His show 'Shoutout to my Ex' was very honest, funny and we learned at lot  about all sorts of things from the 25 minute question and answer section at the end.  I won't spoil it in case anyone is going to see him but he did say he'd saved 5000 lives...............the day he left the NHS! Hehe!

Friday morning we headed for Rhyl another seaside town I visited as a child.  It was looking a bit tired and dreary when we arrived but lots of areas were closed down which I understood as it is November.  Seaside resorts take on a new life in the summer months. I would imagine it is very busy during the holiday season. I have taken this photo from the internet and its probably how I remember it.

We headed out into the country side for an hour and found  some lovely areas of outstanding beauty before making our way back to the hotel for a rest before the show.  The next day it was time to pack the car once again and head much further a field SCOTLAND.  Saturday morning brought glorious sunshine, rainbows and beautiful countryside.
Entering the Yorkshire Dales, BREATH-TAKING 

131 miles of the M6

Sunshine and rainbows

Before we left  Wales I did a shop at Iceland (which was included in this months food budget) as we would be staying in a self catering cottage in Scotland. I knew there was only one small Coop near by, so to keep costs down I packed a box of food before leaving Essex that might come in handy including a few herbs and spices to make tasty meals.. Tx

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Our UK Getaway

As mentioned before we like to have at least two UK holidays and the first part of the one we planned for November had sentimental value because the first leg of our journey took us to North Wales.  I was brought up in Liverpool until I was 11 and most of our holidays and school trips were spent in Llandudno, Rhyll, Colwyn Bay and Colomendy. Furthermore, I have always wanted to visit Portmeirion having been a huge fan of the TV series The Prisoner as a youngster.  We set off for Wales on Wednesday 1st November with a flask and packup arriving mid afternoon in Porthmadog to glorious sunshine.  After settling into our hotel for our first night  we donned our coats and walked into the local town for a meal and a look around. The port was beautiful and we spotted that there was a traditional steam railway so decided we would have to return the next morning before going to Portmeirion. The Ffestiniog & West Highland  Railway is a volunteer-manned, narrow gauge steam train running through 14 miles of rural pasture and forests. 

Our first glimpse of the beautiful hills of Wales

Beautiful views towards the mountains

Unfortunately we caught  a glimpse of the steam train just as we pulled out of the car park were queuing at the crossing next to a petrol station.. The photos aren't brilliant, but the cloud of steam it left in its wake was very impressive. 

Next came Portmeirion 'our' blast from the past.  The Prisoner starred Patrick McGoohan (Number 6) a former government agent who resigns abruptly.  He finds himself imprisoned in a bizarre mysterious seaside Village isolated  from the mainland by the sea and mountains. He spends his time trying to escape but is thwarted by big balloon like 'rovers' that thwart his attempts.  Looking a the huge and I mean huge estuary devoid of any sea water at low tide I can see why those scenes were filmed there.  

A huge expanse of beach and humongous jellyfish too!

Portmeirion village was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. Of course Portmeirion is also famous for its China and here is a shop in the village.  But my fascination was with the village itself that was surrounded by beautiful woodland and great walks.  We spent 5 hours walking the length and breadth of  its stunning surroundings before heading towards  to our next hotel in Colwyn Bay. After settling into our room and having a cuppa we once again set out to have a look around and find food.  We chose OAP fish and chips @ £5.85 each with bread and butter and a cup of tea. Not only a bargain but delicious providing much needed fuel after 10 miles of walking! Back tomorrow with more. Tx 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Low Spend Continues

I was actually paid early in October as my pension day fell on a Sunday plus it coincided with my mystery birthday trip, so I ended up doing a shop on the 21st at 7:30 in the morning! I still had a Morrison's 5000 extra points coupon that equates to  a £5 voucher plus I had opted into an online deal  if I spent over £40 between 18th October and 22nd October I would receive a £5 reward.  Knowing I was going to get another £10 back I decided to use the 2 vouchers I had in my purse.  So my £43.54 shop cost me £33.54.  

I then spent a further £3.67 on the 26th and received the two £5 vouchers. Hubby used the triple points voucher to purchase some alcohol on Friday so I'm 250 points away from yet another £5. 
I picked up some milk (£1.48) from Iceland on Friday when I visited the local market. I also spent £2 on some delicious  all butter shortbread and 2 x6 pack of Lentil crisps from the 'sell by date' stall. The  grapes and apples  added another £2 but good value as the Pink Lady Apples weighed over 1.5kg.  So my total spend so far is: £40.69  If I'm honest I could have spent so much more on the 'sell by date' stall.  This stall sells produce with a best before date that is about to expire or has just expired.  But he has some wonderful things on there including a selection of fresh items like cheese, roast meats and top notch chocolate. I really have to walk away!!!!Every week is different too. 

The post brought another Iceland £5 deal, shop 3 times between 25th October & 26th November spending £10 or more and receive £5 to spend from 2nd-20th December. There is a good chance I'll spend that in that period.  Before setting off for Scotland (more about that soon) I spent another £18.52 at Iceland and £3.26 in Lidl which brought me to £62.57.  So on target for another low spend month with 11 days till pension day. Plus hubby filled the car with petrol for our journey and we got another £5. So £15 in the kitty for next month at Morrison's and a potential £5 at Iceland.   Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 6 November 2017

Making The Most of the Sunshine

When I looked out of the window  Sunday morning it was drizzling, I checked the weather forecast and there was no rain shown!  I had big plans for a garden tidy up. The drizzle wasn't much so I started clearing the greenhouse. 

The remaining chilli, tomato and cucumber plants were pulled up shredded and placed in the composter. I tipped some grass clippings on the soil to add some fibre to the soil when it rots.  With the drizzle abating I cut down the Autumn raspberry canes as the recent cold nights have put paid to the last of the fruit.  I weeded and dug over the rest of the bed as there is a possibility of a frost which will break the soil down even more.  Look what I dug up! I thought I'd found all the potatoes.

At the week end we can collect some manure to dig in prior to covering the bed. The figs are finally getting ripening although we've had a dozen really big ones its not been a good year, perhaps that's why they've been so expensive in the shops. I had two cyclamen in the side bed and decided they would give me some colour to the hanging baskets on the decking. I also added some of the pansies I bought for the rockery. 

The composter has been well fed over the last few weeks. I have two, One large and one small.  The smaller one contains spent compost with new fibrous debris mixed in.  I gave the smaller one a bit of a dig over and there was loads of worms, in fact a whole ball of worms.  So many that I transferred some to the larger compost bin that contains the fresh weeds and kitchen peelings etc 

Lots and lots of lovely hard working worms making next years compost.
I finally got some pansies in the rockery. I'd like some miniature daffodils too.
 I just have the rhubarb plant to transfer to another bed.  Since hubby planted  the fig next to it, its struggled the grow. I will make sure it is well fed before putting it to bed for the winter.  
I want to transfer my blueberry to a pot but I need to get some pine cones and needles to shred to provide the ideal compost for my the plant. I'm collecting as many dry leaves as I can and just putting them into a plastic sack .  This will be  mixed into beds after Christmas. Its lovely pottering around the garden in the sunshine.  Bye for now. Tx

Clever People

Dawn at Being self-sufficient in Wales also has a craft blog, My craft cabin in Wales. If you've never visited either please do. Dawn & Martin are truly amazing.  There doesn't seem to be anything they can't turn their hand to.  Dawn's crafting is outstanding and I recently requested if she would post a  video and she kindly obliged.  Not only did the video show her tapestry machine making a beautiful gold Christmas tree complete with baubles she also showed you around her crafting cabin.  It's a wonderland of equipment and materials.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Keeping Busy

Most of the decorating is done and the glossing too, I pulled the last piece of masking tape off yesterday having left it in place for 24hours. Thank heavens for a freezer full of ready made meals that have proved invaluable while we have been busy.  Its been great to just pop into the freezer and come out with a healthy meal that's ready in minutes.

There are two more rooms to do, the front bedroom and the bathroom.  Hubby refreshed the grout and sealer in the shower and I scrubbed the glass and runners, it will get a lick of paint sometime over the next few weeks.  We always pay for bathroom sealer that is  mould resistant but it never is! 

The sun has been shinning and I've managed a general tidy up in the garden.  I am still on the look out for some cheap winter flowering plants or bulbs to bring some colour to those dark dingy days in winter.  For the first time in 3 years my chrysanthemum has flowered and its a beautiful round ball of flowers. 

I've left the flowers in the pots on the decking for a few more weeks as its lovely to still have some colour on the decking I've put some potatoes in the ground and I've lifted some beetroot, there is lots more in the ground that I'm hoping will last into the winter. I'm wrapping this lot in   newspaper and putting it in the out-house were it is cold but frost free.

There is still some carrots in the ground and in pots. The leeks

are getting larger and the freezer still has a lot of food in it.  I think it will take me right through to December and then I can hopefully pick up some bargain meat. 
Now I have harvested the
last of the cucumbers, yes
cucumbers in  November! I can start clearing the greenhouse.

 I may grow some carrots  and salad in there to keep things ticking over the winter. The raspberry canes in the biggest bed will be cut down shortley as they are still producing a small bowl twice a week. Then the bed will have manure dug in and covered in a tarpaulin to rest over the colder months.   Once all the jobs are done outside I can start concentrating on Christmas properly.  I have some crafting projects to do and some experimental baking for presents.  I'm also going to do more knitting during the winter so I'm on the look out for the right pattern.  Its all go here, but I don't mind especially when the sun is shinning.  Bye for now. Tx

PS: Thank you for Birthday wishes last week, much appreciated.