“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Thursday 30 April 2015

A Mini Blogging Break

Well that's the plan... to take advantage of the Bank Holiday weekend for a little mini break... but looking at the photo below, maybe we won't be nipping off anywhere without taking a little something extra.
Whose going to tell her she's not coming...?
By the way, that is my little red case and the other is my hubby's. 
Well okay... that's not strickly true. 
My other case is upstairs waiting for some muscles to arrive home in order to carry it down! 
I know... a little over zealous perhaps, but I've always been the same.
You should have seen our luggage when the kids were small.
On one journey we had to keep counting our belongings to make sure we had all 11 of them!
So I'll leave you to enjoy your weekend.

Sunday 26 April 2015

My Sunday Photo... Spring sprouting and snow

Before I go I couldn't resist letting you see our latest reno! 
In the woodshed an old swallow's nest wasn't used last year, but someone's got their eye on it for this year's new arrivals.
We're thinking it might be a robin... we have four in and around our garden
What do you think?
(Apologies for the bad photo but it's quite dull in there and I didn't want to disturb the squatters)
 We've had such a great week... weather wise, but as I type this post it's actually snowing! 
Honestly... I kid you not... SNOWING!
 I don't think I've ever posted so late to the My Sunday Photo linky... let's hope I'm not too late.

I hope you have a great week ahead.

Friday 24 April 2015

Paint Party Friday....Buzzy Busy Bees

 It gives me great pleasure to announce that we've had a spectacular week of sunshine. 
Not a drop of rain in sight and I've even had to resort to watering certain plants and seedlings. 

Along with the arrival of the sun is the bugs, slugs, spiders, insects, bunnies, deer, birds and bees! 
If you don't follow my instagram or twitter accounts, then you'll not be aware that I was a hero a few days ago. On Earth day to be precise, I freed a magnificent bee from my front room window. 
He was frantically trying to escape... so I helped him. 
Oh no... it was nothing... really. 
But a few hours later whilst busy in one of the borders in the garden, I came across this guy and I swear he's the escapee! 
He just gave me that look.
Along with photographing him, I thought it might be fun (ha!) painting him. 
What was I thinking? 
I really do wonder where these wonderful ideas come from.
Anyway here's my attempt.
 Little did I realise just what hairy wee beasties they are.
I went into auto mode using the ink pen... I find that bit so relaxing.
I've taken a closer picture with the light highlighting all the little bristles.
 I'm not sure he's finished yet, but then I realised that I should have painted the background first... adding in the azalea flowers. What a numpty!
But it is only in my journal so I can play.
I could always redo him onto good paper if I really wanted to be pernickety.
 I thought I'd better take some photos before I tried adding in the flowers. 
If I want to paint it again then I'll be sure to remember all that I learnt from this trial piece. 
I'll try to finish this off later today... it's been fun.
 So that's it from me for today... I'm off to enjoy the day plus paying visits to Paint Party Friday.
They'd love to see you over there... just click on the link because you're invited!
Have a wonderful weekend whatever you have planned... enjoy!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Muffy... the face of an angel

It's a fact that with age comes a certain wiffyness... an aroma. 
Okay, let's not beat about the bush here... a smell.
There I've said it.
Now hang on a minute... I'm not talking about ME!
I'm afraid it's Miss Muffty. 
She'll be horrified if she hears this so let's keep this between you and me.
Well, she is on her way to 12 years though... erm... what's that in human years? 84! Phew!
Oh yes, she's still cute and puppy like and gets away with murder when she puts a certain look your way, but there's no getting away from it, you have to be brave to let her too near. 
The trouble is she loves to get up close and personal but her breath can knock you out at times.
(some say it's not that bad but I have to say it's nay bonnie)
Kisses galore, yawns in your face and death by licking can all have you holding your breath. 
(a little part of me wonders if she knows this and the little minx that she is, goes in for the kill anyway!)
Don't worry, I've tried all the usual treats, chewsticks and everything else on the market but she either won't have them or they don't appear to do what it says on the tin.
(from here on in, perhaps I should warn any of my vegetarian readers that you might not like the subject matter...apologies in advance)
I remember a vet in Melbourne once advised to give her a raw chicken wing every now and then... which initially horrified me. 
 (this photo was taken in Melbourne... see the length of that tongue)
Was he wanting to see her off with chicken that may be contaminated with Salmonella? 
Or choke her with small bones?
But no he assured me that she'd be okay and I have to admit when I did give her some she was very happy. (See above) Maybe a little surprised that I'd forgotten to cook it, but she took it anyway... just in case I remembered and whisked it off her. 
It certainly goes against the grain... raw chicken and small bones etc but nothing ventured nothing gained. 
I'm not sure if she's unique but if she's given something a little different or special then she carries it away and lies looking at it. It's as if she can't believe her eyes. 
This procedure can take some time. 
Enough time for me to think the bacteria could be multiplying by the millions if she doesn't hurry up and eat it. 
She can carry it to different locations which isn't ideal.
Cream carpets etc and that's one of the reasons I decided to give her a wing yesterday... the weather was so good so she could take it outside. 
As predicted she carried it onto the patio and lay next to it for a while. 
I on the other hand was battling weeds in my borders! 
And they say it's a dog's life.
I did catch her on the way to a border to hide/dig the wing into a good hiding place. This has happened before, so I headed her off at the pass, giving her a command and by some miracle she actually stopped in her tracks and lay it down next to her. 
We then played stale mate... me watching her... watching me... watching her!
 (chicken wing on the left of the photo)
I was the first to back down (she knows me so well) as I mentioned I had a border calling me. 
So the little minx waited until I went to empty my weed bucket and then she disappeared. 
I couldn't find her as I walked around the perimeter of the garden. 
I didn't want to shout her because I wanted to see where she'd hidden the chicken.
No sign of her or the chicken wing anywhere. 
Then I became of eyes watching me... she was standing in the middle of the lawn with the face of an angel.
I swear if she could talk she would be saying "what? WHAT?.... nothing to see here"

Finally, after proceeding furtively with stealth, I saw her returning to the scene of the crime. 
Under the curly hazel tree... of course... she knew I'd never fit under there.
Anyway... it appears she's finally eaten it but I can't say I've done the breath test yet.
I'm building up to that....
I mean look at that face... how can you be cross with that
I'm linking up but I know it's not Wednesday but trust me it's okay... take a peek.
Wordless Wednesday at Create With Joy
Have a great day everyone and hopefully the sun is shining brightly on you.
See you soon xoxo

Friday 17 April 2015

Paint Party Friday... Art Workshop

As I mentioned previously we had visitors staying over Easter but just before they arrived I had a place booked into a watercolour workshop. It wasn't the best of timings for me personally, as I was mentally out to lunch quite literally... planning menu's and venues for the visitors but I wasn't going to miss the workshop. 
Even though I was distracted I had a great time catching up with Sofia Perina-Miller.
I have been to a previous workshop and painted the autumn leaf (click here if you'd like to see more) using the paints and paper that Sofia recommended. 
I just love, love love them... there I've said it!
Here's Sofia giving a demonstration of her talent and unique colourful creativity.
She is so incredibly inspiring
No pencils or rubber in sight... just straight in with a loaded brush and she's away!
I could watch her all day but that's not what she wants... 
she just wants everyone to have a go, play and enjoy!
I just adore her paint box... you can see that it's lived!
She really does see that much colour in everything she sees. 
She painted a daffodil but focused more on the bulb which is the last thing I would have done, but it was spectacular and so colourful. 
Sofia makes you look at things differently... for example just take a look at her sunflower above. 
Although, as I say I had other things on my mind on the day... I wasn't happy with what I painted whilst there, so I decided to have another attempt at painting daffodils this week.
Well it's that time isn't it?
 (Aberdeen is completely covered with them on every grass verge and public grass slope. It really is a spectacular sight just now)
If you missed my last post which shows the progression of the painting then click here

Thanks to Sofia and the Jack Tierny Gallery for running these great workshops. They do an amazing job providing a fantastic location, refreshments, art supplies, expertise and friendly helpful guidance and advice when needed.

I've actually produced a painting that I don't mind looking at... and that's quite something!
I'm linking up with Eva and Kristin over at the Paint Party Friday once again.
Paint Party Friday

Enjoy your Friday... have fun and have a fantastic weekend everyone

Wednesday 15 April 2015

What's on your Workdesk Wednesday (WOYWW #306) Profusions of plants

I had better throw in my cap first to Julia and the WOYWW gang... I may be barred? 
But in my defence, I've had trouble with my laptop (twice), visitors and generally being the preverbial blue ***** fly!
 Just because I haven't posted what's on my desk (WOYWW) doesn't mean I haven't been peeking and thinking about you all.
It's funny how these blogging practices can grab a hold and hang on tight. 
I'm borrowing my son's laptop (again) for this post whilst he's distracted, but I'm aware I'm having to rush because I don't want to be responsible for him not completing an assignment or project. 
So with that in mind... here's my desk.
I was at a loss a few mornings ago. 
I knew I wanted to paint something but couldn't think what... and that's when the negative voice started screaming "well why bother anyway, you're always disappointed with the result" and "you know it's all brilliant in your head... the problem starts when you put the paper and paint in front of you".
Why is it that that negative voice no matter what it refers to is the loudest and the first to come forward. I'm very aware of this, so I gave it a sharp talking to. 
Thankfully silently to myself and not out loud, as I frighten everyone enough already!
Anyway... I picked some flowers out of the garden and started.
I got to that ugly stage and it was nearly time to say "okay you win" but I carried on and surprise surprise I actually like it!!! 
 I went to a watercolour workshop a few weeks ago and hopefully I'll be posting all about it sometime soon (probably when I can bribe more laptop time)

I've also been using a different desk over this week too.
It's the work bench in our garage. 
I've been creating hanging baskets and mangers. 
Yes it's that time already.
They won't be hanging outside for quite some time, but I was caught out last year by starting them too late and they had a job to catch up. 
So I'm ahead of the game... now we just need the right conditions 
(I know the south of the UK is enjoying fantastic temperatures this week, but that frosticle fiend can play cruel tricks) 
I'll not hang them out until at least the end of May and then only depending on conditions.
I came up with an ingenious idea of placing two mangers back to back in the wheel barrow. 
Too many times they have tumbled over and all the tender plants have been given an unwelcome short back and sides! 
Now they are stable and I can wheel them in and out to make the most of the sunshine, but tuck them up safe and sound at night. 
Brillent eh?
So that'll do for today (someone's lurking and wanting the laptop back) 
If you'd like to have a nosy around other talented creative people's desks then click here to be transported to Julia's Stamping Ground link.
I'm also linking up with Create with Joy
Have fun everyone and I hope to see you soon.

Friday 10 April 2015

Paint Party Friday... Mufftypups portrait

Morning everyone... isn't it a fantastic day, plus it's nearly the weekend (again) Woohoo...
I thought you might like a peep into my studio once again, which is still in a transition phase. 
Not sure how long it will take me to get it as I would like... let's say it's yet another work in progress. Story of my life! 

Anyway here it is...  
Getting messy isn't it? I think that's a good sign.

So as well as having visitors staying over the Easter holiday, I've been spending some time in the garden due to it's awakening, but I've also started a painting that I've wanted to do for quite some time.
It's a portrait of my McMufftypup (my dog for any new comes to this blog) 
Let me just say at this stage she's not the easiest of pooches to paint nor the best of models.
As her groomer keeps telling me, Muffy doesn't like to stand when she can sit, 
and sit when she can lie.
That's my girl... sigh
I lost count of how many times she would curl up for a little snoozelet and refuse to play.
Thankfully, I had a photo printed to help me in times of need.
It's not the best because the colours aren't true but it helped... I think!
I've spent a few sessions over the last few days to try to complete it before Friday's Paint Party but once again I think it needs more time for tweeking. 
I think I could just keep adding to her fur for years.
Let me tell you that a mini shih tzu has a LOT of hair! 
(Just in case you don't know a shih tzu does actually have hair and not fur, hence why we chose to have a dog of that breed. My son and hubby have allegies so she's perfect in that respect. The downfall is she takes forever to dry... but thankfully she loves the hairdryer ^..^ )
Here's the pet portrait so far...
Okay it still doesn't look anything like her and the photo really is bad (no excuses honest it doesn't look like this on my desk) but I'm beginning to like it,
I'll keep going but at the moment the great outdoors is calling.
If you'd like to see more art work then click here to join Eva and Kristin who host this great link every week. 
Or if you'd like a little trip to Balmoral Castle and missed my post yesterday then click here
Have a fabulous Friday and thanks for popping into my place.
Enjoy your weekend everyone

Thursday 9 April 2015

Easter at Balmoral Castle

Over the Easter holiday weekend the weather was brilliant, so we wanted to make the most of it.
We decided to take a trip to Balmoral Castle which is approximately 50 miles from Aberdeen. 
It was no hardship taking a drive over the Bank Holiday as there were very few cars on the road and driving through the magnificent valley of the River Dee, towards the Cairngorm Mountains the scenery is spectacular. 
I've wanted to enter the gates to Balmoral on numerous occasions but Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has always beaten me to it. Well Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848, so I suppose she should have first choice. 
 (The gates are the main entrance to Balmoral Castle and Estate in Royal Deeside.

 The featured initials G R (George Rex) along with a Royal Crown; the second belonged to Her Majesty Queen Mary and displays the initials M R (Mary Regina) and the date is 1925)

The Castle is located on the large Balmoral Estate, a working estate which aims to protect the environment while contributing to the local economy. The original Balmoral Castle was built in the fifteenth century but it was considered too small. A new castle was constructed on the site about 90 metres (100 yards) north from the old building. Prince Albert planned the grounds and helped with the design of the castle itself, which was completed in 1856. 
The castle has been handed down through their descendants, and today is the traditional holiday home for The Queen and members of her family during the summer vacation period. 
The Castle is built in granite from neighbouring quarries of Glen Gelder, which produced a near white stone. It sparkles in the right light. Unfortunately the sun didn't shine during our visit, but I plan to revisit over the summer months. 

On the impressive front lawn, at a point opposite the tower and about 100 yards from the path, a stone marks the position of the front door of the earlier house which was demolished in 1856.
It is easy to be transported back in time in your mind to days gone by, when you look around you on this estate. 
If you visit the castle there are brilliant audio tours which guides you through the grounds, gardens and exhibitions at Balmoral. This fascinating tour details the story of Balmoral and the workings of the Estate and is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
I wanted to spend more time listening to all of the amazing details, but then I became aware that I'd stopped so many times to take photos and to listen to the audio, that my family had moved on...
So let's get a little closer... 

Don't worry the castle's foundations are solid... it's just the quirky angle that I took this photo. 
Sometimes people just get in the way!
The centre windows in the above photo have a fantastic view over the rose gardens and beyond towards the mountains (snow capped at the moment) This was another reason that the house was rebuilt and moved so that these views could be enjoyed.
If you look closely to the centre of the photo below you can just see the snow on the mountain.
The roses are all timed to bloom when the Queen and the Royal Family visit in August.
All of the rooms will be decorated with posies and flower arrangements for their visit.
That's one of the reasons why I want to return... to see the gardens in all of their glory, but I'll have to make sure it's before August.

Obviously, when Her Majesty is in residence the castle is closed to the public but at this time of year we can enter into the largest room in the house.
The Ballroom...
It is still much used by the Royal Family today and dances such as the Ghillies Ball take place every year since Queen Victoria's reign.
Unfortunately, no photograph's are allowed to be taken by the public in this room, which has fascinating exhibits of photo's, toys and treasures plus amazing art work on the walls.
One incredible treasure was found in the tower of the castle and has been restored.
It is an elaborate cot which they think might have been used for Queen Victoria's nine children.
There is also the fantastic electric car, built in the late 1920s and used by The Queen and Princess Margaret when children. The car was renovated in 1953 and the Citroen radiator was changed for that of a Daimler. The car was then given to Prince Charles and so the registration number was appropriately changed to PC 1953. 
There's lots of video footed showing the car in use. 
Also some great footage of Prince Philip having fun with Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

If you'd like to see more then click here to enter the Balmoral Castle and Estate website.

The exhibitions extend into the Carriage Hall Courtyard where there are a number of other fascinating displays. 
This Daimler has been to Australia House in Australia and back again... just imagine how many miles that would have put on the clock Emoji

The castle has it's own fire station too... but they have moved on from the old equipment on display to the left of this photo below. 
I mean wooden ladders!
I think my favourite car on display was this little blue cutie... it was tiny.
If I remember rightly (sorry I didn't take notes) it used to be a delivery van.

Now here's something you don't see every day. 
The antlers give it away slightly. 
It's the building where the deer and vension were butchered and hung. 
Thankfully the door was locked.
So wandering further in the 50,000 acre Highland Estate we visited the greenhouses and vegetable garden. 
This greenhouse was stunning and another one was packed with seedlings all getting ready to be harvested in August and September during the Royal Family's visit. 

 I didn't take a photo of the veg plot on this occasion because they are just clear beds all ready for planting out, so not much to see at the moment. 
The Duke of Edinburgh has enlarged the flower and vegetable garden and created the water garden.

This photo isn't of the water garden... it's the River Dee from the bridge. 
Fast flowing and looking rather chilly today.
As many of my regular visitors will know... I love trees and as you can imagine I was completely enamoured by the majestic trees and woodland on the estate. 
To think that the specimen below was planted by Prince Albert himself. 
And so this visit comes to an end... for today anyway but I'll be back to listen to more facts and details on the audio tour and to see the gardens in full bloom especially the rose and herbaceous borders.
I would like to take the safari tour too. It takes you through the manicured parkland and out through the Estate farm and into the old Caledonian Pine Forest. 
Who knows we might even see the elusive capercaillie?

No wonder Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family like to come here for their summer holiday.
It's easy to imagine them wandering around the grounds and estate, or fishing in the River Dee. 
It has a wonderful friendly but peaceful ambiance. 

I nearly forgot to say we did have lunch in the cafeteria and I can highly recommend the soup and scones. There's also a gift shop that has unique and high quality souvenir's.
All in all there's something for everyone... so if you're up this way then pop in to see for yourself. 

On the way home, we visited the Bridge of Feugh (another beauty spot) to see if we could spot some salmon climbing the rock ladder to their spawning grounds to breed, but unfortunately we didn't spot one. 
Maybe next time?
I hope you enjoyed our little trip and will pop back again soon. 
Meanwhile, I'm heading out into the garden... it's woken up and the sun's shining! 
Enjoy your week 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...