Saturday 27 December 2014

Happy Christmas - it was

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are continuing the festivities. We had a last minute panic waiting for the gas man to fix our fire before we could travel off to deliver presents.  If he couldn't come on the 23 December we would be waiting until after 05 January but it all worked out and we spent a peaceful Christmas in our new home, complete with fully operational fire.
Mr FF and I were concerned that we'd have to up the budget this year but with only slight overspending on his part we managed to produce a £5 stocking for each other.  His contained only one sock as I didn't finish the second until Boxing Day but I did find a 500g bag West Yorkshire Spinners grey dk in a charity shop that will produce several pairs of socks or scarves.  
I also found him some lovely charity postcards depicting stages of this years Tour de France through Yorkshire and a book that might help him in his current quest for the perfect pork pie.  
He gave me some face cream that I was a bit dubious about but a google search gave good reviews and since the jar is unopened I'll give it a try.  He found me a dvd in the charity shop but unfortunately Moulin Rouge isn't a film I planned to see again, though looking at the tv listings over the next few days I might and long nights in Italy without UK telly, possibly I will get that desperate.
We had a sociable time over the holiday, invited round by neighbours on Christmas Eve morning and then again on Christmas Day, champagne and snacks and chat followed by a walk on the moor, parcel opening and cooking, the day flew by.
So now we are taking it easy, fellow inmates have gone for a walk round Bolton Abbey but Mr FF is a bit snuffly in a man flu way and staying home.  Pity it looks gorgeous from the lounge windows.
And its pretty inside too these little characters appeared on the landing outside one of the lower apartments, they make me smile every time I see them.  

Monday 15 December 2014

Mind the gap

Mr FF took the 6 am train on Saturday back to East Lothian for a walk followed by a meal with his now ex Scottish walking group.  I thought it was all a bit ambitious myself, I think his return train left around 6.30 pm and he expected to be home around 11.  I have much experience of Mr FF and travel gone wrong so I wasn't that surprised to receive an email early evening saying he had missed the train, was staying overnight in Scotland and would speak to me later.  This is what happened.
He was at the station waiting for his return train, positioned on the correct part of the platform for his carriage when the train arrived, marked as destination Birmingham.  He wasn't 100% sure that this was the train he wanted and further confused when it travelled past him and stopped a good distance down the platform.  So he legged it to the waiting train by which time a couple of guards had appeared and they confirmed the train stopped at Leeds. Unfortunately the train doors had closed before he got down the platform, he explained it was his train and could they open the doors please.  No chance, once closed the doors don't open again so he couldn't get on board and the last train for his connections pulled away.
Mr FF asked why the platform was marked with waiting areas but the train travelled beyond them, it was a shorter train of course.  Apparently there were notices in the station explaining this could happen but because it was dark they were not visible.
But the best bit was when he asked why there had been no public announcement about the train's destination and stopping points when it arrived. It seems the station has had to reduce the number of announcements it makes as they are a health and safety issue.  This is somewhat beyond me but it does give me hope that the number of Christmas tunes playing in the shops might also come under the same legislation soon.
Poor Mr FF, totally unprepared for an overnight, stayed with friends and arrived home late yesterday afternoon, using a circuitous route with many changes whilst clutching a note from the station guard in Scotland explaining the situation and giving him permission to travel at no extra cost.
I have suggested he gives travel on public transport a rest for a while and consider more local walks, he's taking the bus for his walk next week but it's not that far away and if the worst happens he can walk home.

Monday 8 December 2014

Our halls are decked

Yesterday morning there was much manly activity in the hall of our building as the Christmas tree went up.  Mr FF was there to give engineering input and very lovely it all is too. 
The final touches were added today, I am feeling quite festive which may be down to the lack of responsibility.  The decorations are excellent, completely in scale with such a grand building and can be enjoyed by all the inmates.   The tree can be seen from the entrance 

or looked down on from the internal windows and landings, 

and the basement decorations can be admired from above 
 or as you pass by on the way to the car park

There are two of these pretty wreaths in the entrance hall opposite our mail boxes
Its all quite magnificent, excellent work management committee and Santa's little helpers.

Monday 1 December 2014

You haven't seen me

Spotted on one of our afternoon walks around the environs.  A heron in the Wharf, beautiful and so well blended.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

I walked down to The Grove yesterday afternoon, it is I suppose the main street in town and was closed to traffic for various events building up to the official switching on of the Christmas lights.  Not as you know that I'm a fan of these things, in fact I left about 40 minutes before the big countdown and 20 minutes before Santa was due to arrive.  I'd really had enough of all those festive tunes that weld themselves inside my head and pop out when I'm ironing or dorissing. However the entertainment I saw was good but I did notice a big difference between a Yorkshire Christmas and a Scottish one.  I'm used to the stirring sound of the bagpipes, here we have a lovely brass band that delights me just as much.
Gone too are the Scottish dancers, no more strip the willow or dashing white sergeant, now it's Morris dancers with painted faces and strange costumes banging sticks, and sometimes knuckles. 

These differences really confirm that I'm in a new place and bring back memories of how we had to adjust when we moved to Scotland 26 years ago.
The Christmas lights by the way are beyond tasteful, mostly simple white strings of light in the trees and complementary features touched with gold on the lamp posts. Yorkshire is big but it isn't always brash.  So pretty that we finished our walk today back in town so I could take some more photographs for you.

Tuesday 18 November 2014


The last week or so progress in the penthouse seems to have slowed down and life generally has stepped down a gear.   We've had a good number of wet days when the mist has been down on the hills, a day when I can't see Beamsley Beacon seems like a day wasted, we use it's visibility as our weather gauge.  
We haven't been sitting out in the communal garden or out on our balcony, which is a pity as we discovered we already had two of these rather nice chairs. 
I had intended to plant up my solitary pot with some interesting winter plants but that hasn't happened yet. 
There isn't that much daylight coming into the apartment, there isn't that much daylight anywhere I suppose, so the few house plants I brought here are struggling though every day I move them to the french doors to catch what light they can.
We've ordered a swanky new leather reclining chair for Mr FF but of course it won't be here until into the New Year.  We have people coming round to talk about fitted furniture to increase our storage. Nothing will happen until into at least January. It seems that this time of year is fit for nothing but Christmas shopping, you know my views on the build up to the festive period so you might be surprised to learn that I have made my Christmas cake.  It's waiting too, all wrapped up in a tin.

Saturday 8 November 2014

WYS at my LYS

It's many years since I've had a local yarn shop but I have one now.  It's 10 minutes walk to this pretty little tin building housing Eme, cloth and yarn, a fantastic place for anyone interested in sewing or knitting.
I had lingered outside the shop a few times knowing that I have many unpacked boxes of yarn in the apartment but one day I just couldn't resist going in to say hello.  They have an amazing stock, Rowan, Regia, Noro, all our favourites, lots of books and completed samples to admire, everything I need except of course I don't need.  I explained to the lady that I just wanted a look round as we'd recently moved, big stash, not much space etc but then she told me that all stock was 20% off in October and suddenly I was grasping some lovely locally spun stuff.
OK I bought a few skeins of this Blue Faced Leicester which is so soft, for scarves or cowls, and a 100g of sock wool just to see how it worked. 
Then I decided the sale was too good to let pass without a few more purchases, so I went back and I bought more of the same.
The yarns are delightful, as the West Yorkshire Spinners website says locally reared sheared and spun in Britain, in fact spun not so very far from where I live, one has to support don't you agree.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Trick or Treat

You remember in the summer I inadvertently cooked one of Amelia and Esme's halloween pumpkins.  Well, there were still enough for one Peppa Pig and one Hello Kitty, carved by Daddy, lanterns.  I may be forgiven or have they put a spell on me to protect their crop for next year

Friday 31 October 2014

Adapting to an apartment

It is certainly very different living here on the third floor, using a lift to get about and looking out from some rooms onto our communal landing, but we feel fortunate to have our little balcony to give us some private outside access and though it does seem a bit like a holiday home, we are adapting.
A few of you asked questions about our new life, yes we have bought this apartment, it is our permanent home.   The property is leasehold with hundreds of years to run and each of the 26 apartment has one share in the management company that owns the building.  Five of the residents run a committee to manage life for us, maintenance work, cleaning, insurance etc, all in a very efficient way.  
The practicalities of everyday life have certainly changed.  At present I have three different rubbish and recycling bags in the kitchen.  I ordered a smart set of bins from Amazon that will fit perfectly into a space under the worktops, arranging for them to be delivered to my brothers but when we went over last week they hadn't arrived.  Almost two weeks since they were supposed to have been despatched, they were delivered the day after we came back, typical. I must admit I miss being able to put teabags, peelings etc into the garden compost and without our stove we seem to accumulate a lot of paper, which I suppose is a wake up call as to how much rubbish we actually produce.  
We aren't allowed to put washing outside the property but the apartment did come with a tumble dryer.  This is the first time I've ever owned one of these and though I know they are environmentally bad things it is wonderful to be able to wash and dry within a couple of hours.  I am thinking I could probably manage with just one set of towels and bed linen, that would be a great space saver. 
We are still struggling with storage and have stalled on the final unpacking.  We really need to sort out the second bedroom so that we can think about having people to stay.   We delivered various items to my brother last week so now that the car no longer contains a large sun umbrella wedged between us we might get out and look at furniture sometime.
The plumber got the gas fire working for us, it is very pretty even if it doesn't give out much heat.   We seem to benefit greatly from being on the top floor so we haven't had the central heating on yet apart from to check that it works and it feels very comfortable and cosy, in fact most days we have the french doors open.
We have already enjoyed the communal gardens, we took our sandwiches and a flask of coffee down there one lunch time to sit the sunshine.  It was delightful, like going off for a picnic without having to use the car or the indecision of where to stop.  There is some good quality wooden furniture in the garden and we had the place to ourselves.  OK I did get a bit agitated about a few weeds at the back of the border but really that is none of my business.  Mr FF was down again this week and was joined on one of the loungers by a pretty tortoise shell cat who we think lives on the ground floor, she climbed onto his knee for a sleep which made them both very happy.
I heard this week about elderly relatives who are having to move out of their large and isolated farmhouse into a bungalow because of ill health.  They are finding it really difficult and it makes me so glad that we have started this process now, it certainly hasn't been easy and it isn't over but I dread to think how we would have coped if the move had been forced upon us.  With hindsight I imagine that in another life I would not accumulate so much stuff but even in this small space it's hard to let go of so many things.   Its also easy to make do and get on with life, I am still typing with the computer on a garden table knowing we need a proper desk and I may have bought more knitting wool, but that's a story for another day.  Meantime the sun is out and Mr FF is already enjoying the garden, I might just join him with a couple of mugs of coffee. Happy weekend.

Friday 24 October 2014

Mr FF cleans balconies

Mr FF kindly took it upon himself at the weekend to doris our two balconies. Firstly the little Juliet balcony at the dining end of our kitchen that looks onto the atrium.  The glass panel behind the French doors was a bit grubby, he did suggest putting a cloth onto a long stick to clean the outside but I was worried he would drop it or water down three floors so instead he managed by carefully leaning over and reaching up.

Then he decided to clean the sit out balcony off our lounge.  He brushed all the moss off the old stones and treated them with some anti fungal solution.  He took down my little string of solar lights which he said were out of keeping and complained about the black railings that are not original and probably not in the right place, he's becoming so conservation since we moved into a listed building.

We agreed that the balcony deserved some better furniture than the two folding plastic chairs we have at present but that can wait until next year.  I'm thinking black rattan armchairs but I'm not sure whether the guardian of our heritage will approve.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

It is Ilkley

I had hoped to show you the delights of our little spa town but the weather has been a bit grey since the weekend and though I have been down to the centre several times, its just a 10 minute walk after all, I haven't taken any photographs yet.   So instead I'll show you some of our immediate environs. 
Across the road from our building we have a private gated garden for the residents complete with two little lakes, some might call then ponds but we are in Ilkley. 
Every apartment has a key and residents are free to stroll round or sit a while on the benches.  I'm hoping if I get gardening withdrawal I might do a bit of weeding in there and depending on what comes up in spring I could be tempted to plant a few interesting bulbs. We have a lovely collection of rather over fed ducks who I'm sure are very respectful of the plants.
Across the road from the garden is access to the moor with a small car park for walkers.  A good path leads up to White Wells, a pretty cottage that is an occasional cafe and houses the baths for taking the healing spa waters. 
Apparently it's a local custom to take a dip in the baths on New Years Day, I'm also told that the water temperature is usually about 4 degrees so I may give that a miss.
As I said the cafe doesn't have regular opening hours, the owners fly a flag that can be viewed from some distance to indicate they are serving which saves a wasted up hill walk, we were there on Sunday afternoon as they closed and the flag came down.
Its a lovely view from White Wells back down to our building, we really appreciated how grand it looks.  You can see the detail of the internal glazed atrium quite well. We had to resist the temptation to tell anyone who would listen that we live there and felt quite smug walking back home. 
So hopefully you will get to see the town soon and I also need to tell you about how we've adapted to apartment living over the past couple of weeks.  Its all very exciting and very different but so far its all very good.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

A bit more information

I thought I'd show you a few photos of the interior of our apartment, its still a work in progress, we have far too much clutter despite the attempted downsize before we moved but the main rooms are acceptable for now.  The kitchen seems to work well but needs a good sort after my initial unpack.
Our bedroom is calm though with much less wardrobe space we need to par down in the clothing department.
The lounge is coming on, I do like the curved ceiling, the alcoves
and of course the doors onto the balcony.
The gas fire is fine but we have no idea how it works, the wires on the hearth will be concealed and I assume pretty flames will lick up between the pebbles - one day.

Of course there is still a lot to unpack and find homes for, the second bedroom is currently nothing more that a depository.
I'll keep you guessing a bit longer where we are, its a little spa town in the West Riding of Yorkshire that has a lovely moor where you should definitely not venture without a hat or you will catch your death of cold.
Our bedroom window has a lovely view of ..............?