We went to the Hillhouse today

Okay, so still being in the holiday mood, I decided we would spend a bit of time going to see the recently re-opened Hillhouse in Helensburgh. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and built between 1902 and 1904, the house interiors and furniture were also designed by Mackintosh along with his wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. It was created following a commission by Glasgow publisher Walter Blackie and is a stunning example of Art Nouveau and Symbolism. It’s one of my favourite places, I am a big fan of this couple’s work, particularly Margaret’s panels and soft furnishings.

Anyway, the boy came with me and we had a lovely time returning to the house. You see, it’s been closed for some time now while the National Trust for Scotland, who look after the property, began their restoration work. They started by covering the entire house with a large steel frame covered with chainmail. The idea of this is to protect the house from the elements, If you have ever been in Helensburgh during the winter, you’ll know just how exposed to the bitter winds and rain the town is. Anyway, the walls have become saturated with water and the frame is protecting it from further damage. The frame, although covering the entire house which is a shame, also features a brand new entranceway, shop and café. It also has a steel walkway inside which takes you alongside and above the house so you can see it from all sorts of perspectives from the outside. Me and the boy climbed it and the views from up there of the town and the River Clyde were impressive.

Anyway, I will finish up here and let you enjoy the house for yourself. Here are a few snaps I took. I didn’t manage to take pics of all the rooms (the living room alone is wonderful) because of the amount of people in it, but this gives you a flavour of some of the things you can see:

You can see the steel roof above the structure and the walkway.
Looking down from the walkway.
The entrance way to the house.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of the house. If you are ever in Helensburgh, I’d recommend you visit. It’s well worth it.

Dawn xxx

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Escaping to Perthshire and enjoying the peace

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We escaped from the madhouse this weekend by taking a two night stayover at Crieff Hydro in Perthshire. We’ve been before – I’ve spoken about it before in this blog – but we’ve always taken the kids. This time round, however, hubby and I decided to leave the kids with their grandparents and go ourselves. It was great. We had a lovely relaxing time. We didn’t make use of the spa or the sporting opportunities the hotel offers, which are many and very good, but we just went with the flow about what we wanted to do.

We arrived late afternoon on Friday and after we’d settled in we had dinner, a few glasses of wine and went to see The Other Woman in the hotel’s small cinema. The film starred Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton. It’s a film where Cameron’s character Carly, a successful lawyer, discovers her boyfriend (played by the oh so handsome Nikokaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) is actually married. Anyway, the wife (Kate King, played by Leslie Mann) finds out and in her despair befriends Carly. They then find out he’s also seeing a much younger and bustier Amber (played by Kate Upton). They tell her and together the three decide to get their own back. It’s quite an enjoyable film, but predictable. Good for a Friday night film watching stint (minus the kids). Don Johnston plays Carly’s dad and Nicki Minaj is Lydia Carly’s secretary. I’d give it a seven out of ten. Anyway, it was good going to the flicks.

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The next day, we decided to get out our cameras and go photo hunting up the Knock which is the hill behind the Hydro. We really knocked it off with the weather. It was one of those sunny, frosty, gorgeous winter mornings that you read about in novels. Added to that is the loveliness of the scenery and it literally was breathtaking.

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We had a lovely morning exploring and snapping and having a good  old laugh. We must have been out a good two hours traipsing about the hillside and returned just before lunchtime. We spent a little time in our room before venturing out. Hubby wanted to take shots of the Deil’s Cauldron, a waterfall at nearby Comrie. I didn’t go with him, but waited in the car (I was knackered from the walk earlier!!). We had a late lunch at a nice little café in Comrie before returning to the hotel.

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Chilling out time!! We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out and taking it easy. We had a few glasses of wine before dinner and then went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (can you tell we love going to the movies?). It was okay. It’s not my favourite type of film anyway (although I have seen the original film and tv series!). Good cast and excellent special effects. It too was predictable. It’s also quite violent. Six out of ten.

 

Anyone for golf? Don't fancy trying to hit a hole in one from here.

Anyone for golf? Don’t fancy trying to hit a hole in one from here.

Anyway, it’s top marks to Crieff Hydro for an excellent time. The room was lovely (and really big), the food was great, there was lots to do and the staff couldn’t be more helpful.

Minus 100 to the medical students who were holding their Midway Ball at the hotel and kept us up and awake a good bit of the night on Friday and Saturday night with their shouting and crying and carrying on somewhere below our third floor room (yes we were up that high and could hear them) . I don’t know where they were doing it from but we could hear every word, every expletive and every sob from them, the drunken bums. It honestly sounded like they were in the room next door to us, but they were outside. I am assuming it was them – it sounded like the group that invaded the piano bar the first night we were there. Anyway, whoever it was…I don’t appreciate being kept up til 2.30am listening to your childishness.

Phew that felt good!

Anyway, we still managed to enjoy ourselves. We feel all rested.  The kids also had a good time as my parents took them to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr. They loved it and want to go back. We’ll take them in the summer I think. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Oh, and if you ever go there yourself, mind and pick up this book on Burns’ life…it was beautifully illustrated by my friend Mandy Sinclair.

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We picked the kids up at lunchtime today. I really missed them, but I think they had such a good time with their granny and grampa that they didn’t give us a thought!! We got lots of kisses and hugs from them though, which was lovely.

Can’t believe that’s us been and come back already. Sigh. Anyway, I must get on. Got a whole pile of washing to do (except the kids’ clothes – thanks Mum for doing that). Til next time!

Dawn xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate, GB Sewing Bee and Game of Thrones…Heaven!

Easter 2013

This house has been Choc-tastic this week with the amount of yummy Easter Eggs the kids have been given. Hubby and I also gave each other one and mine is now finished (it was  Munchies egg with two packets of Munchies, a lovely choc egg and a mug – it was delicious and calorific but I enjoyed every bite!!). I’ve been rationing the kids. The girl has been known to eat sweets until she is sick (at my parents’ house…thanks mum!!) plus I don’t want them overloading on sugar, so they still have quite a bit of the chocolate left. In saying that, it’s only Wednesday and they should have some left.

So how’s your Easter been? Hubby and I were both off Friday – Monday this week, so it was nice to have everyone around. We didn’t do much, but it was nice just to pootle around the house and have a bit of family time. We took the offspring up to Geilston Gardens to do the annual Easter Egg hunt…it was really cold, but the gardens were still beautiful and we had a lovely time following the clues so our two could get their eggs in the end.

Yesterday, we had a gang of kids round getting their pictures taken for something I’m doing at work. The house was heaving with kids and adults, but it was fun.

Today, the girl has already left for a sleepover, the boy is playing a game and I’m catching up on writing (DI3 draft is away to my publisher), housework (mound of ironing waiting to be done…sigh. You know how much I “love” ironing) and other stuff. The girl has put in a few orders for dresses for her dolls. I made one already – I would have shown it but she’s away to her sleepover with doll and dress – and have a few more to do. I may start another one tonight, depends on how I get on today. I’m wanting to start re-editing my book for adults today. Am keen to get that away.

Did anyone see the Great British Sewing Bee programme last night? Myself and my friend watched it in our own homes, but commented via text on the various things that were being made. We both thought the older lady was a pretty good sewer and felt poor Michelle, who was a bit ambitious about using silk for a reversible dress,  shouldn’t have been put out. She seemed to me to be a better seamstress than the two men.  Anyway, there was nothing made last night that I can truly say I liked, although I quite liked the car fabric and the green dress fabric. Roll on next week, I say. I enjoyed the programme and as a novice sewer myself thought the tips were quite good. We shall see if it holds my attention.

Talking of telly, did anyone see the first episode of the new series of Game of Thrones on Monday night? I just love Game of Thrones. The first episode was a bit tame, but the previous series’ first episodes were the same, they are mainly there to set the scene for what comes after. Just invested in a complete set of the books so far, but am worried that if I read past book 2, I’ll be spoiling the tv programme for myself. Dilemma dilemma. Hey, if that’s the worst thing I’ve to worry about, I’m doing okay! Anyway, am looking forward to the rest of the series. Tyrion Lannister is still my fave character!!

Also back is Castle AND a new series of The Big Bang Theory starts soon! This is great because there has been a dearth of good tv programmes recently and I haven’t been watching an awful lot of it. Just Elementary and reruns of Poirot (although I think I’ve now seen every episode at least twice by now). I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m not the telly addict I once was…means I get on with other stuff.

The other thing I’ve been doing is making bread in my new bread maker. Just bought a cheap one out of Argos, but it makes really nice bread. Don’t get me wrong, I do prefer to make bread by hand (now that I have finally learned how to do it after years of making bricks!!), but I often don’t have the time or inclination. The bread maker means I can just bung some ingredients into the maker and just leave it…excellent. This means we have fresh bread more often…double excellent. Thank you little sister for being the first in the family to buy a bread maker and sing its praises thus encouraging our mum and then me to buy one for ourselves!!!

Right am off. Until next time and Happy Easter!!

Dawn xxx

Sunshine, school and sewing

Geilston Gardens

It’s raining outside, so to cheer everyone up here are a few wee pics I took at Geilston Gardens last week when the sun was splitting the sky and there were no sounds but the singing of the birds in the trees, the buzzing of insects around the many plants in the gardens and the screaming of my kids as they fought each other as usual.

Actually, they weren’t too bad. Sometimes their battles reach epic proportions where they are whacking each other, but they didn’t do that on this trip. There was a bit of bickering, that’s all…phew!

Geilston Gardens

The boy started school on Wednesday and his sister went into primary 4. I think I was more nervous for him than he was. He took it all in his stride and didn’t cry when my husband and I left him in the classroom. Everyone kept saying to me that I would cry and I assured them I wouldn’t…and I didn’t. I am just not the type to bawl cos my youngest is growing up. Instead, I enjoyed the thought of having more free time to myself to do more writing and creating. I knew he was happy, so I was happy. He’s continued to enjoy school and has a spring in his step every time I drop him off at the school gates. I think my daughter has been needing to go back to school. She was starting to get bored at home. I’ve noticed that the reading book she’s been given already is a lot more advanced than last year, which is excellent because she’s turning into a right wee bookworm (like I was at that age) and this can only be encouraged!!

So what’s been happening chez moi? Not a lot. Just waiting to hear from my publisher about DarkIsle 3 to see if I need to do any final tweaks to it. Am hopeful it will be out in time for Christmas, but I’ll let you know once I know. Been doing a wee bit of sewing and knitting. I made my son a sandshoe bag from some material I bought at Mandors in Glasgow (my fave fabric store). The material is fab: bright colours, images of Minis on it…v nice…so I made the remainder into two cushion covers and I still have some left over to make a bag for me. Will take some pics for the next post.

Dawn xx

Geilston Gardens

Back on the horse…so to speak

Wild horses at the Highland Wildife Park

Well, back on the blogging horse now that I have a new laptop to do it on. Sadly, my lovely old Dell was too dead to save so we had to invest in a shiny new HP one. It’s red (fave colour, although it’s more cherry red than the flame red I truly love) and works, so enough said.

Monkeys at the Highland Wildlife Park

I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of the summer holidays here in Scotland. My kids went off at the end of July and the summer seemed endless. They return to school next week (actually, the boy starts school then…yippee!) and that’s the summer over.  I was lucky enough to be able to take four weeks off work over the holidays and I’ve loved every minute of it. We’ve visited the Riverside Museum in Glasgow (I will still call it the Transport Museum because that’s what it was when it was in it’s old southside/ Kelvin Hall homes when I was growing up and not the lovely shiny new museum by the Clyde it is today), we ran around the National Trust’s Geilston Gardens, we watched the rain come down in buckets, we made chocolate cake and pancakes, we created sock puppets, we went to a soft play area and visited family and friends. We also had a four day trip to Aviemore that was fun and included a visit to the Highland Wildlife Park (we loved it…I loved the wolves and we actually managed to see red squirrels running about wild) and the type of touristy shops kids love to buy tat from (and they did). I made bread, the kids played in the paddling pool in the garden on the few days we did have sun, my veggies grew and the guinea pigs loved running around in their pen outside (supervised cos of all the pesky cats that live around here). My husband and I watched the bats flying about our garden at dusk.  I knitted a cardigan that I’ve still to finish cos I can’t be bothered to sew it up. I made a pirate for my one-year-old nephew and a doll for his two-year-old sister and I forgot to take pictures of them!

Wolf – he or she is in there somewhere!

We have a week-and-a-half left til the kids start school. I have no plans for this week except to get back to sewing, to finish my cardie and to start writing my book for adults again (I had some more editing to do on DarkIsle 3 – am hoping that’s it finished now).

Yaks

Am glad to be back blogging. Speak to you soon!

Dawn x

Winning Easter hat and DarkIsle 3 edit complete

It’s amazing what you can do with a glue gun (my new fave thing) and some things from Poundland. My boy came home a couple of weeks ago with a note from nursery asking for an Easter hat/bonnet for a competition they were running for the kids. Cue: mild panic. Cue: mad thoughts about what I could do and where I would get stuff to make a hat from. Cue: more panic. And then the dark clouds of ‘I’m-a-bad-mother-if-I-can’t-do-this’ dissipated when I remembered that every year Poundland (a shop I must admit I love cos I always get fab bargains in it) sells Easter stuff. So during one workday lunchtime I trotted along to the Argyll Street store and picked up: two cowboy style hats with silver sequin headband; a bag of plastic eggs; a box of Easter chicks; some Easter Bunny hair slides; some paper flowers. Added to that was a bag of crepe paper from Tesco and Easter bonnet heaven emerged. Armed with my beloved glue gun, I not only came up with this for the boy (which won, by the way…and how pleased was I at that?? I never win anything…well apart from a national competition a few years ago, but generally I don’t win stuff):

and this for the girl:

I was pretty pleased with myself. I had to laugh though (and I thought this was pretty clever), one of the boys in my boy’s class had a cap on covered with yellow Easter Chicks and the immortal title of Chick Magnet.

So what have I been up to and where have I been for the past couple of weeks? Well, I’ve been finishing off a further edit of DarkIsle 3. I like to take my time with the editing stage because I want the book to be the best it can be and I’m hopeful it won’t need any further editing. Althought it may still do.

I’ve been doing a few Easter type things including doing the National Trust for Scotland’s Easter Egg Hunt at Geilston Gardens on Sunday there. I’ve been catching up on telly – all my fave programmes are back (Game of Thrones, Castle and Murdoch Mysteries). Now I’ve finished editing, I’ve resumed attempting to learn the piano. Am still very much in love with our two guinea pigs and last week ran the Guinea Pig Hotel again (my friend’s two females came to stay whilst they were away on holiday – cue lots of squeaking and interest from the boys in their cage). I’ve done a bit of baking, a mountain of ironing, a tonne of washing and gutted the house. My intention this week is to pick up the knitting needles again and get my boy’s cardie finished. I also have two mini quilts, which I must admit are a bit wonky, to finish. I’ve been reading E Nesbitt’s The Phoenix and the Carpet (so old fashioned, but very enjoyable) and Jane Duncan’s My Friend Flora (I just love her books). I intend to start making my way through the pile of Dickens books soon – well once I’ve finished The Pickwick Papers. I like to read two or three books at once depending on my mood. I’ve also recenly read Goldie Hawn’s book on teaching children mindfulness and I can tell you there’s a lot of wisdom in mindfulness. Now instead of rushing them on, I try and point out things in their environment like birds and plants and interesting houses. It’s made me slow down a bit, which is definitely what I need to do.

I’ve been busy, but it’s been a manageable more relaxed kind of busy.

I also have another book in the offing. It’s one for adults and hope to have that complete by the summer. I’ll tell you more about that when I’m ready.

Anyway, talking of stuff to do, I’d best be off. Hubby’s home in a little while from work and I have meatballs and pasta to make. Yum.

Dawn xx