Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Old????

Well yesterday Carl went for his interview at Herts University and came back not as buoyant as when he went to the previous Uni, but I think it might be down to the fact that this is the place he wants so he is worried that he may miss out. He said he felt it all went well although they asked far more questions than he was expecting. He liked the place and out of the whole lot being interviewed there were only 3 males. So its fingers crossed that he gets what he wants.
Last night he went out to cubs, where he is a leader, although a day late they decided to cook pan cakes with the cubs. Once they had made the batter they realised that they had run out of matches so Carl popped out to buy some more. He was shocked to be asked for identification before he could buy them!! The thing is he is around 6ft 2ins tall and broad with it, he doesn't look young!! He didn't have any ID so they wouldn't sell to him!!! I just hope the shop is as conscientious when they sell alcohol!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This Has Cracked me up!!!!

These guys are on the breakfast show of my local radio station, Hertbeat FM. They have done this Video to raise money for Red Nose Day, its just so funny!!!

Surprise card - Di Hickman Blog

This weeks card was made using floral paper from a mat stack from DCWV, the bottom paper was stamped with brown chalk ink letters. The corners were lurking around in my stash and I have no idea where they come from. The flower stamp was a bargain 25p from Hobby craft and I have used it loads!
Please check out the sketch and the other cards on Di Hickmans blog (link in my side bar on the right!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A few More Photos

The road through the town in Beamish Museum.

We visited Beamish Museum, because it was half term and not all the exhibits were open the entrance was a bargain five quid each. It was a nice day out. We looked around the 1813 town, where there was a garage, Barclay's Bank (with huge books that listed every single transaction made) A sweet shop where they were making Cinder toffee, A dentist where there were some startling facts about your chances of surviving an extraction by gas. (3% of patients never woke up again!!) There was a School house, a church and a row of miners cottages. We were taken around the area by trams and buses. There was a farm and train station plus a fun fair that were all closed. Beth and Tom went down a coal mine. It was a good day out!!!

Beth trying out a hoop and stick in the playground of the school.

Outside the rear door of the 'Sweetie Shop'
Some of the original tin advertisements of the era!

Beth posing in front of one of the trams!

On the way into the garage (where the lights were original paraffin ones and smelt wonderful!!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

MTM - Update on last weeks post

Last week I reported on the Burns pit disaster that happened a hundred years ago in Stanley Durham. (Stanley is 250 miles away from where we live) Last week we visited the area for a few days and went to the church yard where the victims were buried. We had no trouble finding the Church, but strangely had trouble finding the graves and memorial stones. Another visitor eventually pointed us in the right direction, the graves were down the bottom of the hill and out of sight from just outside the church.

The above photo is a shot of the grave stone of the two brothers, it is the exception as most men were buried in a mass grave (as they were) but there was a joint memorial stone.

The above stone was dedicated around 10 years ago to the miners memory by the manager of Newcastle United Football Club, Kevin Keegan.

We also visited Beamish Museum where they had a display of artifacts from the incident. They also had a slide show of the rescue efforts and headlines from the papers. One of the papers produced a poster featuring photos of all the victims, it looks like our relatives who were listed did not have any photos to share.

I am glad that we visited and as a bonus we discovered more family members in the grave yard, which will help in my family history studies!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


We arrived home around 6.30pm. We have had a nice couple of days away and a reasonable journey on the way back, although there were a fair few traffic jams all the way home. We took our new car Fanny and she has this neat little display that tells you how many miles you get to the gallon of diesel. It becomes very important to keep your eye on that and try and get the MPG up as high as you can. Today we actually managed to get it to 56 MPG and were very pleased with ourselves. Unfortunately the traffic ground to a halt and ten minutes crawling along bought it down to 52. How sad is that???
I think now I am a year older that I am having the start of a mid life crisis. I feel its only right that I do even if its only to keep up with Debbielou's husband (he is having a monkey based mid life crisis, we even had a Tarzan recording on my voicemail today!!!)So we called into DFS in Sunderland to take a look at the sofas. The theory behind this was that Tom and I never seem to be in the same place at the same time, so we were going to take a look and order from home. As it turned out we found a suite that we liked and we decided to see if we could get it in a non standard colour, we got chatting to the salesman, who said we could order from them and it would be delivered from our local store. So after a lot of sitting around we ordered the suite and chatted the salesman into giving us a few extras such as a lifetimes supply of cleaning stuff (possibly only one bottle, I don't clean my furniture too often!!!) So now as as result of a HUGE impulse buy we have some new sofas arriving sometime in May, special order .
Once we arrived home I had loads of cards and presents to open, I have been very lucky this year, Tom and Beth bought me a gold locket, Carl gave me a green Ipod (to be known as a pea pod from now on!!) Mum and Dad gave me money, I got a key ring digital photo frame from Steph and a few bottles of port (Mmmm)Fran and Pete sent me a beautiful sparkly necklace (Thanks) I've been very lucky!!

While we were away I took a fair few photos, (hard to believe, I know!!) The first evening we went into Newcastle and took some photos of the Millennium Bridge, its particularly nice at night as the colours are constantly changing.

We went down to Marsden Rock and was surprised to see it was no longer an arch!! The sea has taken its toll and its now a big rock and a lot of smaller pieces. On chatting to some of the locals, its been gone a few years, so we are miles behind the times!!

I really love this photo of Beth, she is standing on a piece of 'public Art' (a collection of halved spheres representing the phases of the moon and the effects that the moon has on the tides) I like the bright colour of the rocks and the contrast of the colours of the light house and the dead calm sea!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Happy Birthday to ME!!!!

Today I have had a very nice Birthday. We are still on our mini break so I have only had the one card I will have the rest to look forward to tomorrow. My family have bought me a lovely gold locket with space for 4 photos, very important Beth tells me, for putting photos of Laura, Carl, Beth and Tom inside!!
We decided to head north today, we went on a bit of a tour. I have never been so far north, we were only a stones throw from Scotland!!
Anyway we started at Sunderland and took the coast road up to Blyth, followed by Amble. We then visited Warkworth Castle, Seahouses, Bamburgh castle and then onto Lindisfarne. We finished the day with a trip into Berwick Upon Tweed.
The coast line of Northumberland is stunning, and today we had the most stunning of skies, brooding stormy clouds, splashes of blue and fantastic windswept beaches. I have taken a load of photographs so I can't wait until I get to download them. Because of the lighting I even had to take the camera off of automatic and set the exposure to the conditions.
The castles were awe inspiring particularly The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, the island is reached via a causeway which is cut off from the main land at high tide, it is prominent place for pilgrimages particularly in the summer months. The history is first recorded when in 635ad St Aiden built a monastery on the site, he was joined by St Cuthbert who was supported by King Oswald the Pagan king of Northumbria. They were missionaries bringing the holy teaching to the people of Northumbria. For the first time we actually felt cold, the wind was blowing and it was positively chilly!!!
We came back to Sunderland and had a Maccy D's for dinner, a treat for Beth as it hadn't been such an interesting day for her!!
We'll be heading back home tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On My Holidays!!!

Yesterday we travelled north to Sunderland, we had a good journey, very little traffic and no jams, perfect!! We arrived before lunch and checked into our B and B, Its quite nice apart from last night, we were all tired and went to bed at 11pm, unfortunately we seemed to be next door to a trainee Eric Clapton, who could only play a single chord over and over again. In the end we resorted to banging the wall, as did other guests!! This morning we mentioned it at breakfast and asked for a room move. They have assured us that it won't happen tonight which makes me think that the trainee has a connection to the owner of the accommodation. If it happens tonight I'll be phoning them to complain while it is happening!!!
Yesterday we went to the beach at Sunderland it was unseasonably warm didn't even need a coat, which on a beach in the north east is not likely even in the height of summer!! We had dinner at a bargain Italian Restaurant, two course for Five quid each!! The food was excellent and I think we might go there again!!
Today we were up early, after breakfast we drove over to Stanley to take a look at the church yard where the Gill brothers are buried. We then headed down to Beamish Museum, which was another bargain reduced entrance price of £5 each. We had a good look around there including underground in a coal mine.
In the afternoon we looked around the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, that was a free show and we really enjoyed it, we saw glass blowing and all sorts of glass educational exhibits. We looked out over the river Wear, which involved walking on a glass roof, all very scary, you could see three floors below !! I found myself walking on the edges, as they felt safer!! Beth thought it was great and she was happy running and jumping we were able to take photos from inside from reclining sofas!!
Tonight we are deciding if we should save some more money and go back to the Italian!!
What will we do tomorrow?? I fancy going to Bamburgh Castle , and as its my Birthday perhaps I'll get my way!!

Card For Di Hickman - Thanks

I have really simplified this weeks sketch, I just couldn't get anything to work in the lower left corner that I was happy with. So I left it out!!! I admire people who can make very elaborate cards, but I just can't seem to achieve that look without it seeming contrived or messy!!!
So this card has been made using a scrap of spotty blue wrapping paper. striped paper from a pad by Paper mania, and the blue ric rac from a bargain roll that I bought at Ikea some time ago. It was around 50p for 20 metres, I'll be using it forever!
Check out Di's blog (link in my sidebar on the right) There are loads of great cards over there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Answer for Travis

Travis, it seems that the explosion was caused by a cloud of coal dust that the inspectors decided was blown along the seams by the ventilation fans. It was usual to damp down the dust every night and its not sure if this was some that had been missed or whether it had simply dried out in the hot air under ground. The most likely cause of ignition was a spark from an electric connection.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Town Monday - The 100 year Anniversary of The Burns Pit Disaster

Today, Monday the 16th of February 2009 is the Hundred year anniversary of the tragic Burns Pit Disaster in Stanley County Durham. The reason that I have chosen this to report on is that our family lost relatives in this accident. We in fact lost two men, who were the brothers of my late mother in law. I say men but actually we lost two boys George who was 16 and Henry who was the youngest killed in the accident aged just 13 years old. I find it hard to believe that at age 13 he was less than a year older than my daughter Beth is now. Life must have been very hard for them.

I have taken extracts from an account by a local historian called Jack Hair.
The Explosions.
On the morning of 16th February 1909, life was going on about the town of Stanley in the normal way with no clues as to how that day would change the lives of so many people. At 3.45pm. There was the sound of a muffled explosion which stopped the town in its tracks. People were trying to identify where the bang had come from. Fifty seconds later, there was a second explosion, much louder than the first, with flames and smoke shooting into the wintry sky. It was now obvious, it was The Burns Pit. There were screams of fear as the women folk feared the worst. There was an instant movement of people toward the pit head, all with the same thoughts in mind, what had happened? how bad was it?. At first there were dozens of people. Within minutes there were hundreds and in no time at all, there were thousands. The swelling crowd soon realised the main damage must be underground. There seemed to be no organised plan of action.
A message was sent to the Louisa Colliery for rescue equipment to clear the pit head. Mining engineer Col Blackett of Sacriston was informed and he soon arrived. Ship makers Armstrong's of the Tyne were approached for breathing apparatus and men and they were granted at once. Rescue workers arrived from many other local collieries. Doctors and nurses from Newcastle Infirmary and HMS Calliope from the Tyne also arrived. People throughout the town worried about their loved ones and of their chances of survival as there was no news.
The nearest to the explosion had been colliery engineer Ralp Stephenson. Fuses at the switchboard had blown indicating the air current underground had been cut off. The cages had stuck. Stephenson went over to the North Shaft and noticed damage to the doors. Many boards around the sides of the shaft had been blown off. The quivering pulley ropes were still in their wheels. Stephenson peered down the shaft and there below in the belly of the pit was a glowing red mass of light. It looked like a volcano waiting to erupt. He stood back to yell a warning, and at that point the second explosion tore up the shaft blowing the headgear and shooting up into the sky. The flames were followed by a dense black smoke. Stephenson was thrown to the ground and his cheeks seared with the intense heat. After a few seconds, the dense smoke was sucked back down into the pit. This was bad news for those below.
Attempts were made to clear the headgear so as to reach the underground seams. However, unknown to them at this time, many lay dead or seriously injured. Down below, the explosion had gone its full course. In the Townley Seam of 123 fathoms 63 were dead In the Tilley Seam of 133 fathoms 18 were dead In the Busty Seam 33 were dead In the Brockwell Seam of 163 fathoms 48 were dead Due to there being no counting system; no one knew just how many men were underground. Incredibly, there was still life down there in those dark, dank, stinking gas filled galleries.
Mark Henderson, an experienced deputy soon realised the danger and gathered those around him in the Tilley Seam. He led them from the onrushing after damp (gas) to a small gallery where there was a pocket of fresh air. There were 34 of them. They only had two lamps between them. Two of these men panicked and made a dash for the shaft. Five others joined them, and more would have followed but for Henderson persuading them to stay where they were. Within yards of the safety of the gallery, all seven died of the poisonous gas. If only they had listened. The rest of the men were cold, in shock and fearful of their lives. Henderson did all he could to re-assure them. One of the men began humming the Hymn "Lead Kindly Light". Salvation Army member Bob Harrison joined in with the words, and soon the others joined in. Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on, the night is dark and I am far away from home. Can you picture this scene? Before the hymn had ended, 14 years old Jimmy Gardner, very badly injured, lost his fight for life, and died.
After many hours, Henderson realised the air was getting foul, and decided to attempt to see if he could find a way to get the men out. He told them of his plan and with his mouth masked against the gas; he stepped out into the gas filled passageway. Though the air was still heavy, he noticed it was beginning to clear a little although he still was forced to the ground a couple of times. He soon passed the seven men who had earlier tried to reach the shaft, all dead. After crawling for almost a quarter of a mile over stones, coal, wooden props and dead bodies, he eventually reached the shaft. He used the phone and you can imagine the shock at the surface when the phone rang. "Hello, whose there? How many are you? Henderson replied, "There's 26 of us down here, can you get us ou?” All rescue work was then concentrated on the Tilley Seam, and after 14 hours underground, they were rescued. It was later discovered that the phone he used was the only phone in the colliery not destroyed by the explosion.
By the time all the miners were accounted for the number of dead amounted to 168.
Many men were later interred in two local churches, mass graves were dug and the burials took place over three days the following week.
This photo shows the 'Death March' through Stanley.

Another view of the mourners on 21st of February 1909.
Tomorrow we are visiting family in Stanley and although we will miss the memorial services planned for today, we hope to be able to look at an exhibition at Beamish museum.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day.

So how was it for you???? I had a very nice day, I received a bowl of miniature daffodils, a bowl of hyacinths and some strawberries!! Very nice too. I gave my beloved a home made card and a CD of Abbas greatest hits, which will be great for our forthcoming journey to Sunderland!!!
Beth on the other hand did rather well, she got a lovely anonymous card with a picture of a chimp on the front. She was immediately suspicious that it had been sent by Malcolm, but I assured her that he was old enough to be her grandfather and that he didn't have enough time between press ups to go to the shops (Unless he was sourcing a fire proof safe from Tescos of course!!) So she came to the conclusion that it had been sent by the younger far better looking Sam who spoilt her with a box of chocs and a teddy mobile phone 'thingy'.
Today we finally exchanged Christmas presents with our second best holiday friends Wendy and Ian!! They had a very hectic Christmas with loads of visitors, we had a similar time with visitors and Tom working. I am ashamed to say that we got them up out of bed when we arrived at 10.30!! Disgusting Wendy, some people have done a days work by then!!!!
I am pleased that I have a week off work and I am looking forward to my trip to the frozen North east.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


In a previous post I mentioned that Carl had applied for a place at University, I don't know how it works in other countries, but over here the students have to select up to 5 places and then apply through a central body online. You then have to sit back and wait for them to contact you. Carl was keen to go to our local Uni, and as you might expect he was waiting on hearing from them. Yesterday he had an interview with St Marys in Twickenham, next week he has an interview with Middlesex University, but until this afternoon he had not heard from Hertfordshire University. Thankfully this afternoon he received a letter offering him an interview at the end of this month, PHEW!!! Fingers crossed that he has a successful interview.

Tonight we are again in the grips of winter with heavy snow. It started around 5pm and it has snowed hard since then. I think we have around 5 Cm's at the moment. I'm not feeling so excited this time, its becoming a bit of a nuisance really!!!

I hope it clears up before we go away for a few days!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Card - For Di Hickmans blog!!

For this card I have used one of my Magnolia stamps (not had them out for a bit, must use them more often!!) The back ground paper is from Papermania, pink gingham ribbon from John Lewis and greeting stamp from Hero Arts.
Check out Di's Blog, the link is in my side bar on the right!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

My Town Monday, around the town in the snow -Sorry to flog the snow aspect!!!

As snow is such a rare thing for the Mid South of England I am going to continue milking it!!!
I popped into town the morning after the big snow and snapped a few shots. This huge tree stands right by Waitrose food store in the town centre.

This is the Campus, from College Way, looking towards Roseanne House.

This photo was taken at the rear of Waitrose and shows the rear of the Police Station.

This shot is in the other direction, from the rear of the Police Station looking towards Waitrose!!

Standing outside waitrose, looking towards John Lewis Department store.

Tried a little Arty Shot of some pretty pink bushes, with the very romantic Carpet shop and multi story car park in the back ground!

This shot was taken from the front of the Police Station looking towards John lewis.
This last shot is my favourite and ironically I just snapped this out of a moving car window, so no preparation, no planning or framing and with the camera fully on 'auto'!!!! Its a shot of the Lagoon (not that you can see the water)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Over the Field.

We decided to take the dog over the park for a run this morning,we were surprised at how much snow there was left!! The council has recently redone the play ground, its nothing like it used to be, now there is a playground aimed at toddlers and one for teenagers. the teenagers one has a load of good equipment including a huge swing that you can get two or three on or one person laying down. Of course we had to have a go on that!!

Beth all Rosy Cheeks after a bit of a run around.
Looking up from the swing in to the bright blue sky.
A photo of Tom from the swing, he was pushing me at the time!!

Beth Chilling out!

Looking down on me!!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Been a Busy Crafters Companion!!!!

I have started to do demonstrations for Crafters Companion, that fantastic BRITISH Craft Company that recently won the best New Innovation at CHA in California for their big purple Ultimate. At my next demo I intend to show people how easy the Ultimate is to use and just how many things you can do with it.

Another of their lines is the fantastic CD Roms, they contains background papers, card elements, alphabets and instructions on how to make a variety of cards. Yesterday I printed a whole load out on some of their Satin paper and some on coated photo paper. I am really pleased with the results!! My next demo is at Huntingdon Garden Centre on the 22nd of February.

Police Car from the 'Boys' Disk

The Frog also from the boys Disk

The Fairy Castle from the Girls Disk

The Unicorn, also from the girls disk.

The Pussy Cat from the girls disk and the background paper on this one from Cute Companions Disk.

The dog from the boys disk and the border insert from the same disk.

Cat from the girls disk and background from cute companions buttons from girls disk.

Letters and background from Cute companions and flower from girls disk

Background from Girls disk and letter from cute companions.

Taxi from boys disk!!

These disks are incredibly good value, you can change the colours and sizes and print over and over again. I love them. I have just been sent some flower fairy's disks, so I have some cards lined up from them. I hope you like them!!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Card Challenge - The Pad.

This challenge was to use two different patterned papers and include a heart shape, So I used two papers from a paper mania pad. I stamped three hearts and coloured the circles in with white souffle pen. The sentiment is another stamp, I'm afraid that I can't remember who makes the stamps!!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Philippines Calling!!

Tonight I had to avail myself of the excellent customer services of Linksys. They are the manufacturer of my wireless router which is an essential piece of kit to ensure we all stay online in various rooms in the house.
I have no idea what happened but for some unknown reason the router stopped routing and the house ground to a halt. The customer services at Linksys are really good, to start with its a free phone number, so that's fantastic. When the call is answered you could be anywhere in the world. Tonight it was the Philippines. I have had this router since 2006 and they were still prepared to sort things out. Since my last call to them late last year they have added a refinement to their operation. Now they can fix everything remotely!!! I was so impressed they came in and fixed the machine settings and rebooted the router.
These people are clever fix my machine AND all while speaking a foreign language!!
The weather has been dire today, another fall of snow overnight, we got up for school, checked the web site and at 7am it was all systems go. So we got ready, checked the site before leaving at 8am to find it was now closed. It was just as well we didn't attempt the journey as all the roads were virtually impassable. A couple of the major roads were closed. I went into work and the snow started to turn to slush. Tonight its very cold we still have a lie of slushy snow with more forecast overnight. The novelty is starting to wear off!!!!
To cheer myself up today we have finnally booked our summer holiday to Holland, going back to the same place as last year, we failed to visit the Vondelpark despite several attempts and apparently its the place to go in Amsterdam. So this year we will try again!!!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Happy Birthday to Ewe!! - A card for Di Hickman.

I liked doing this one!!
The plain card is from papermill. The patterned paper is from a Floral Mat Stack by DCWV, Ribbon by Offray, and odd button, and the stamped image is of an unknown origin, I received it in a swap!!
Check out the other cards on Di Blog, The link is in my side bar on the right!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow Overdose!!

Carl and Hunny taking on the girls at snowball fights!!

The snow man complete with tropical fruit salad. Built by the girls in the neighbourhood!!

Examining the snow.

Beth and Meggy dancing in the snow!!

Snowed In!!!!! Hurrah!!

Through the night it snowed, the roads are bad, the kids are loving it, Beth is out the front again this time with the neighbours children, all schools are off and there is no way I am going to attempt the journey. Its still snowing heavily and the forecast for the rest of the day is heavy snow with a severe weather warning. I'm wrapping up warm and staying home with plenty of hot chocolate and comfort food.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My Town Monday - A personal View!!!!


Now I realise that in some parts of the world this isn't a great big deal, but in these parts its a biggie!!!! So far this winter we have missed every single speck of it, but this time we are in the right place and at the right time. That is as opposed to in Sunny Belgium when everyone else in Welwyn Garden City was covered in a few inches of the white stuff.
The forecast has been saying snow on the way, but usually we sit in a warm spot immune from the snow, this time we have been caught, squarely and fairly!!
I have checked the school web site and they have called it off for tomorrow, seems a bit of a scant excuse to me, but it'll give Beth a chance to get out there and enjoy it for a while.
So this is My, My Town Monday offering fresh from the ski resort of Welwyn Garden City !!!!!