Monday, March 30, 2009

My Town Monday - Mary King Close - Edinburgh

While I was in Edinburgh I visited a fascinating place called Mary King Close.
It was hard to get my head around how Mary King Close came into being !! So a brief history!!
Edinburgh Castle is built on top of a hill and looks over the whole of Edinburgh. The rock it is built on was formed in a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. In the middle ages the main street from the castle was called The Royal Mile, it was the approach used by the kings and Queens of their day, so this main road was very affluent and as a trader it was the place to be to sell your wares.
Running off of the Royal Mile were lots of Closes, these were VERY small roads with houses on each side, on average these closes were only 6 to 8 feet wide. The Closes all ran down hill from the Royal Mile and in some places very steeply. The class system meant that the more affluent you were the nearer to the Royal Mile that you lived and the higher up in the building you lived.
In the 1600's there was no toilet facilities beyond a bucket and all waste was thrown into the street, so those living at the bottom of the street must have had a very unpleasant time of things!
Folk living there also had to share their living space with their animals so in the mix was cows, sheep and goats, these actually lived in the lower levels of the houses.
The photo above shows one of the animal barns, the door on the end leads directly onto Mary King Close.
So who was Mary King? Well she was a merchant who lived in the late 1500's she moved into the close with her family. Her husband was a very well to do Merchant who had permission to trade on the Royal Mile, they lived in a house several floors up and were very well to do. Sadly Marys husband died shortly after they arrived in their new house and Mary took over his trading to provide a living for herself and her family. She became a very successful trader and it was decided to name the close after her.
So why is Mary King Close so interesting today?? Well in the mid 1700's a decision was taken to build over the closes!! Not in the traditional demolish everything and start again way, but literally to level the tops of the houses and build over them, using the houses as foundation for new houses above! So the houses closest to the Royal Mile lost most of their floors while those at the bottom lost very little. They simply evicted all the residents and sealed the houses in.
These houses were long forgotten until in the 1980's someone excavating in the basement of a building off the Royal mile found themselves in a void below the building. After breaking through they found that there were complete streets down there untouched since 1750, including workshops, houses and stables.

It was like stepping back in history, the door above was to a well to do residence fairly high up the street, the top floors had been removed, lower down the street the houses were far more intact. We went on a guided tour, just 15 people, we were shown lots of different places a really great day out for me as I am an avid family history fan!!

Looking into one of the houses from the Close.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This is more like it!

Spring is back on the agenda! We took a trip out today and spring was all around us!!

Beth up a tree!



Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baby Bobbie - 19 Days Old!

This afternoon Beth and I popped around to see Bobbie and her mummy, Emma and Daddy Dave, Bobbie is beautiful, she still has a shock of black hair which has a crown right at the front, which looks like a curl right in the middle of her forehead!!

I didn't want to disturb her with the flash so I ended up taking loads and loads of shots expecting failures. I was really pleased to get quite a few very usable ones!

Finally I caught her with her eyes open !!! Her doting Nanny Tina, and her great Auntie Kay, went shopping and came back with loads and loads of clothes. I estimate that Bobbie will have to have a change of clothes every 20 minutes to enable her to wear them all!!!

So This is Spring???

Just had a freak hail storm!! Its cold and wet and not at all spring like. I have loads of things to do and not the slightest inclination to do any of it, even the nice things.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thank God its Friday!

Nothing further to add!!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hunny in Spring!!

The weather has been very nice for the past few days, with warm days and lots of sun, today its on the turn and its really chilly and the forecast is rain with Thunder!! I took this photo over the weekend. Hunny, our dog, has been a member of the family for 4 years now and she is 6 years old. She is a great dog, a bit of a scaredy cat with loud noises, but she is brave most of the time!!
She is a bit of a digger and over the winter she has snuck behind the trampoline and has dug a huge hole at the edge of the lawn, we will need to get that sorted out!
She likes the warm days and went outside for a bask in the sunshine.
As always this week is flying by, Beth has a sore throat and is under the weather. The rest of us are carrying on. Carl has accepted Middlesex University as his first choice with St Marys as his insurance choice, all the loan paperwork has gone off, just have to hope that his A level results are what he is expecting. Have a nice day!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Di Hickman Card - Love.

This card for Di Hickman's Blog has been made out of old stuff from my cupboard!! I have no idea who made the paper with the words ! The stamp with the word love is unknown but I think it came from Papermill. and the pink sticky lace was a freebie from a craft day at QVC!!

Take a look at the other cards over on Di's blog, the link is on the right.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Town Monday - Views from Edinburgh.

Last weekend I took my first ever trip to Scotland. I had a great weekend, good friends and good times!! We walked miles (as confirmed by my pedometer!!)
I though for this post I would share a few shots with you. Above is a piper who you could hear all down the Royal Mile, a traditional sound of Scotland! (he seemed to be collecting a reasonable amount of cash as well!!)

I loved the houses on the hill. They were fairly similar to houses we saw last year in Amsterdam, tall and narrow. The shot above was taken from the world famous Princes street.

These two photos were taken while waiting for a bus!! The sun was peeping through the clouds turning the buildings into silhouettes, the top one has Edinburgh Castle on the right.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Mothers Day!

Today is Mothers day, The weather is beautiful, a real sunny spring day with just a slight nip in the air. When I got up this morning I was given cards from the children. Beth made me a cross stitch flower, Laura made me a card. Tom and Beth gave me a big pink flower basket. Carl gave me the beautiful Tulips and a pink Cup Cake making kit. Thank you Kiddiewinkles!!

I am off to drop mine around mums now.
Happy Mothers Day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Scotland Visit - Bothwell Castle,

Last Saturday afternoon we visited the remains of Bothwell Castle near Glasgow. This is an ancient abode from the 13th century, stone built and sturdy, quite a magnificent building. The day that we visited it seemed to be possibly the windiest day of the year so far!!
Quite a lot of the castle was accessible, so Jen and I climbed up to the top of the high tower and looked out over the river Clyde, it was a breath taking view and a really scary climb up a narrow staircase with only a wobbly rope to hold on to. Once we were at the top it felt like we were in danger of being blown off into the river below. It was a fantastic experience, An early middle ages scary ride!!!!
I love looking around these places, I like to imagine the life that people who lived there had. I was pleased to learn that the people who lived there (Alternatively English and Scottish depending on who won the last battle) had toilets of sorts. It was a hole in the wall of the castle with a primitive hole in a plank of wood, and a long drop to the outside!!! - Nice.

View out of one of the high 'windows' You can just make out the river in the bottom by the trees.

The outside of the 'Donjon' which was a tower where the important folk lived.

View from the grand dining room across to the remains of the prison tower.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Red Nose Day - An Explanation.

I have a lot of readers who don't understand what Red Nose Day is, so I am going to explain!!
A number of years ago a group of British comedians decided to get involved in fund raising. This was initially in response to a famine in Africa. they decided to pick a theme and stage shows and get everyone involved. Someone hit upon the idea of wearing a red nose, and that idea took off. The whole build up to Red Nose Day or Comic Relief as its also known, takes place in the month leading up to the event. The idea is to do something funny for money. Its been adopted in a big way by schools and work places and now the shows on TV run over virtually the whole of the weekend.
The red noses appear on cars, buildings and all sorts of places. Its a great excuse to dress up and look silly!
This year so far they have raised a whopping 59 million pounds for good causes both at home and abroad. Go and check out their Web Site.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Birthday Card for Di Hickman's Blog

I like this card, I have used Junkitz patterned paper, offray ribbon, paperchase dots and a Magnolia stamped image painted with twinkling H2O's.The card has been inked with pink chalk ink. Check out the other cards over on Di Hickmans Blog, the Link is on the right.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Scottish Weekend.

I have just come back from a very pleasant weekend away with some girl friends, for the very first time I have been to Scotland. I travelled up by train from Stevenage on Friday morning , 7.19am sharp. The train was brilliant, I hadn't been on a British train for a long journey for some time. I had an allocated seat with my own name tag in the top. It was a supersonic journey only stopping 6 times. The train wasn't that crowded and the buffet trolley was up and down all the time. I arrived in Edinburgh around 11.30 am.

I was met by my friends Jen and Shirl. (Shirl had travelled up by plane from Southampton) We dropped my luggage off at Jen's office and then went for a cream tea at a very nice little tea shop.
We then had a big surprise, Jen had arranged for us both to have facials for our birthday present! Very relaxing and my face felt so smooth and glowing afterwards!
We made our way to Jens flat and had a cup of tea and some of her world famous 'Tablet' (Like a firm fudge, and any fudge is fine by me!!) Shirl had cashed in some of her Tesco vouchers for vouchers for a meal at an Italian restaurant chain. Jen had booked us a table to so headed back into town for the meal. It wasn't until we arrived that Shirl realised that she had left the vouchers at the flat, so we ended up having to pay for it anyway and she has decided to treat her husband with them next week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Red Nose Day.

Well its Red Nose Day again, Last night we went into the Saver Centre in London Colney and picked up a few noses and a couple of T shirts. Carl is spending the afternoon at Panshanger School where he will be starring in a duet with Mrs Holt, some of the other teachers will be the backing singers!!
I am heading into the frozen North to see my friend Jen in Edinburgh, we are being joined by Shirleen who is jetting in from Southampton International Airport. We seem to have picked the same weekend as an International Rugby match, so the place will be buzzing!!
It is my first ever visit to Scotland!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Card for Di Hickman - A Little Bird Told me.

This card has been made using a couple of papers from a Junkitz Salsa pad, I printed the greeting and inked everything!! I drew a little birdie at the top and used some pink feathers 'borrowed' from Beth's fluffy pen top!! The eye is a paperchase pink gem.
Check out the other cards on Di's blog, the link is in my sidebar.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday's Child.....

Introducing Bobbie May, my very own Mondays Child. I say mine, She is the daughter of my God daughter Emma and her partner David, who arrived safe and well at home at 1.15pm today. Both mother and baby are doing well and I have had a cuddle already!!
So I wonder if this makes me her 'Grand fairy God Mother'???
She is beautiful!!! I want one!!!!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Jumping ....

Its that time of year, The trampoline has been dusted down and prepared for another year of pounding by Beth and her neighbourhood pals !! After a bad first few months with the tramp, it has really been quite well behaved for the past two years. Beth does trampolining at school and finds that the mat on this one has become a Little stretched, she SAYS that is the reason that she find back drops a little more difficult than she did last year, I have my suspicions that it is that she is a little less practiced than at the end of last summer!! Anyway these photos show her arms flailing trying to do a back drop!!
Yesterday we have had a bit of a set back in Carl's plans for Uni. He got a rejection from Herts, which has come as a real shock. perhaps we were being too confident. On the positive side he still has two very good offers on the table. It was just that we were pinning our hopes on Herts, so that he could continue with his job and help support himself. I worry that he will end up with a huge debt and will have to sell his much loved car. All the means tested grants we don't qualify for although during this year our earning circumstances will change to our detriment. All the means tested stuff is based on last years earnings. All is not lost we will just have to hope that he gets the exam results that he needs to allow him a choice out of these two.
I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason and that we will come out better in the end.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Another Week Flies By!!!!

I know they say that time flies as you get older, but I really don't know where this week has gone. The days of me whiling away the hours at work have been replaced by the days whizzing by with no time to get the day job done let alone try and sort out the house and the shopping and everything. Its a massive game of catch up.
This week because I am not busy enough I have been doing battle with the Government Direct Web site. They have the most complicated unfriendly web site in the world. We have been trying to enter details for Carl's Uni loan and maintenance grant. He has filled in his bit, but we have to fill in another part to link into his claim as part is means tested. So I have his fifteen digit 'alias' and I register and get my own 'alias' another fifteen digit number, which spookily is similar to his.
I start the process. No where at the start of this does it tell you that you will need an array of personal documents to glean info from and ultimately send in to them. So you start the first page, get towards the bottom and they ask for your P60, so I go and get that return to find the session timed out and the stuff already entered has been lost. So I start again and they ask for family tax credit info, find that return to another timed out and another start again. This goes on as they ask for family allowance details by this time I am ready to drop kick the whole lot out the window. I want blood!! The upshot is that I still haven't got to the end and I have the prospect of doing the whole lot again for Tom.
On the plus side Carl has received an offer for Middlesex University, so as the entrance criteria is less it would make a good back up. We are hoping to hear from Herts in the very near future, we know that they had loads of applicants, but decisions have to be made about first and second choices by the end of the month. Fingers Crossed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Card For Di Hickmans Blog - Happy Birthday!

This weeks card template was a nice one. I used a freebie stamp for the circle behind the 'Happy Birthday' Greeting. The floral paper is a DCWV pad, I used my new Stampin up Scallop punch and the little glass 'dots' are called dew drops.
I hope you like it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hard Times

Times are somewhat difficult at the moment for lots of people, I am thankful that we have so very nearly paid off our mortgage (just a few payments left) Its been a long 25 years in some respects and it has flown by in others. We took the decision many years ago to stay put in our house and adapt it to fit around our family. This way we didn't have to continually increase our mortgage. Because of the age gaps with the children we have managed by and large to get by. We had to move ourselves into the second bedroom which has enough room for a bed and not a lot else!! Now we could move back we don't want to . I love to lie in bed and listen to the sound of the rain on the conservatory roof.
Last week two of our friends who have struggled to make a secure life for themselves found that working for the same company that they were now facing a double redundancy situation. They have children and a mortgage and now have all the uncertainty around looking for jobs which seem to be non existent.
This morning another friend called to say that her husband, a director of a major UK company had been made redundant and virtually escorted off the premises, she is devastated and he is simply shocked. His company is one of the few to post major profits in the past year and they are still coming to terms with how quickly this has happened.
Today Carl had his final interview for University, this time Middlesex University. On the plus side its only 30 minutes drive away and there is parking on Campus (major advantage) on the down side the building is old and not in a good way. He said there didn't seem to be much in the way of equipment and it didn't feel right. Again only three male candidates. The grades required for this one is less than either of the other two, so it would be good for a back up. I now realise that he has been very fortunate getting interviews for all three places on his list, some others in his class have not had a single interview and will now have to consider what they are going to do. He is not home and dry yet but at least he has one offer on the table fingers crossed that these last two also offer and he gets his grades.
So we must all count our blessings because you just never know what life is going to deal you. On a positive note I am a firm believer that all these things happen for a reason and that they will all end up with something far more positive out of it, they just can't see it yet.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Happy Flower Week to me!!

There is a definite advantage to being away for your birthday, and that is that you continue to get gifts long after your birthday has drifted into a memory!!
This past week I have had some beautiful pink roses and carnations from Debbielou and Tarzan, Debs also very thoughtfully gave me a very unique present of a Basil Brush toy with a Vick's inhaler, I can't wait to Vick the Fox!!!!
On Wednesday night I went out with Madeline, Sue and Sandra. I was on the receiving end of a Happy Birthday balloon, Three bunches of cream, yellow and orange roses, a new hand bag, some smellies and a really bright Kath Kitson Star purse (which is gorgeous!!)
Just when I though it was all over yesterday the flowers above arrived from Rod and Tina and their family. I have been truly spoilt!!