Gracie goes to the library (plus her mum’s book weirdness)

The library here recently reopened with a MUCH better children’s section.

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As my daughter is a bookworm, my sister and I took her along to join up and get some books out.

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Grace really enjoyed it. There was a boat she could sit in to read, comfy chairs, computers and, of course, lots of books.

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She would have probably stayed there all day if we’d let her. She chose six books (all of which have been read now) and got to scan them all herself at the self serve computer – she likes doing things like that. So I envisage another trip to the library next week to get some more.

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I can’t read library books. I have book weirdness. I get laughed at for it. I can’t read a copy of a book someone else has already read. I have to buy my own copy and be the first person to read it. So I can’t ever borrow a book or get a second hand one. I have to have an unbent spine and no damage to the pages. I know, it’s odd.

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Tuesday Tots

Fresh air, waterfalls and flowers

Fresh air and some nice scenery were the order of the day yesterday, so decided to go to Bodnant Gardens.

We drive past it all the time, but always seem to have other things planned. my parents took me when I was little – I remember the photos of the Pin Mill and the Laburnum Arch (which, unfortunately, does not flower until May).

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We went expecting to have a bit of a walk around and then leave after an hour or so. What we didn’t expect was how vast, interesting and exciting it would be to walk around.

There were hidden statues, buildings, waterfalls, stepping stones and beautiful flowers. The kind of place you could take a book, hide and never be disturbed. My daughter loved it. She ran around the place, excited about what might be around the next corner. If i wasn’t pregnant, I’d have probably followed her. Having to walk slowly though gave me time to take lots of photos – a few of the better ones I have included.

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There is a family trail with a little booklet which has questions for children to answer. There are also trails were you look for plants that are featured in Beatrix Potter, Wind in the Willows and Brambley Hedge. My daughter is a bit too young for doing these as she’s only just started reading Brambley Hedge etc, but she had fun enough without doing the trails.

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After you have looked around the gardens, there are a few little shops – antiques, jewellery, books – and a small teashop (there’s a bigger tearoom by the car park). There is also a children’s play area and picnic benches.

You could lose yourselves there for hours and I imagine in the summer it will be even better. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend it. We will be going back when more of the flowers are in bloom and the baby has arrived. I can’t wait.

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Easter, lakes, halls and food

ImageSo our Easter weekend is over and tomorrow it’s back to the weekly mundane routine of work etc.

We spent the weekend in Snowdonia, our escape place, which was great. Only thing missing though was my daughter. She is at her dad’s for the first week of the Easter holidays, so I was sad about missing out on being the Easter bunny this year. Luckily the distractions of Snowdonia took my mind off things a bit.

On the Friday we did a bit of driving around through Capel Curig and on the road towards Beddgelert to take photos. I’m new to this photography business, so my photos aren’t particularly brilliant but I enjoyed doing it and hopefully I’ll get better the more I practice. I have put some on the ‘Photos‘ page of my blog if anyone wants to have a look. I wanted a camera because I’m quite sentimental – I want to capture all the moments of my child (soon to be children) growing up and the things we do as a family. I love the stories that photos tell and I love looking at other people’s pictures.

After our little photography trip we went to watch Wigan v Saints at the pub – I’ll gloss over that though. There’s some “disagreement” in mine and the boy’s relationship as to what classes as proper rugby, and league, in my opinion, does not!! Who thought tackling 5 times, having a kick and then passing to the other side was a good idea really?! They’re no Sebastien Chabal!!!

We rounded off our day with a trip to The Old Ship in Trefriw, which has the most delicious pub food. The kind of food that my sister would urge you, even when completely full, to “power through and finish it” or “eat until you hate yourself”. My sister and I get a little too excited about food. I think, subconsciously, we have to be within a certain radius of eating establishments or we panic.

Saturday was a trip to Lake Crafnant to take some more photos and to eat cake at the cafe. Lake Crafnant is beautiful and if you’re ever in the area I urge you to go there. You can walk around the whole lake and it really is lovely. The cafe has some yummy homemade cakes – I had pecan and ginger. Delicious. I can sit there and just stare out to the lake for ages. Even when there are a few people around it still seems so peaceful and tranquil.

Then yesterday we went for a drive and walk in search of the derelict Grade 1 listed Hall I had read about in the Huffington Post. We found the place, unfortunately though you can’t get to it. After it was partly destroyed in an arson attack, it was sold to an individual who has vowed to restore it to its original condition and use it as his personal residence. It is therefore cordoned off a) I assume for safety reasons and b) because I doubt he wants people having a nose around his house (which is what I’d have done should the opportunity have presented itself). I had to get a glimpse through the trees and get as best a picture as I could (I’m not a weird stalker – I don’t roam around with a camera and night vision goggles).

I find Halls like that fascinating and eerie. I love the history of them, reading about who designed them and lived there. I think it is a despicable thing to try and destroy them. Someone has spent so much time designing, building and making that into a complete work of art and they do not deserve the disrespect of having their work destroyed in such a mindless act of vandalism. That work deserves to be lived in by people who care about the building and love everything about it. When I win the lottery, I’m going to buy one.

And that was pretty much our weekend. Sad to be back, but glad it’s nearer to seeing my beautiful girl again.

Art and jazz

ImageVery excited about the opening of The Atkinson in Southport.

ImageThe Arts Centre, art gallery and library have all been undergoing a major refurbishment the last couple of years and they are due to reopen under the name of The Atkinson in April 2013. Southport definitely needs this project. Hopefully it will be a major boost to the community, encourage tourism and offer a great place for people to meet and socialise whilst taking in some culture.

I’m looking forward to seeing what activities they will hold that my daughter can join in. She can be very dramatic, so hopefully something along those lines. I’m also looking forward to taking her to the new library, which opens on 2nd April. She is a total bookworm so hopefully it’ll be somewhere we can spend quite a bit of time in.

Sefton Arts states that The Atkinson will deliver high quality arts and cultural entertainment from dance and drama to fine art and music, whilst supporting community art groups with their development and performances. The facilities will be open to the public from 10am to 10pm, offering constant activities and events to a range of audiences.”

You can read about the redevelopment here.

The Atkinson will be holding some of the Southport Jazz Festival gigs. The festival will take place from 10th to 12th May – it offers a range of different concerts to attend as well as free gigs throughout the town centre. A weekend ticket for The Atkinson concerts is £98, if you book before 30th April though you get £10 off. Full line up of what concerts are on is here.

My personal favourite is Perfectly Frank who is holding a free concert in Wayfarers Arcade on Sunday 12th May. If I found a genie to grant me wishes, one of them would be to go back in time and go to a Rat Pack concert. I just love their music and their stage presence. In the absence of finding aforementioned genie, Perfectly Frank is an amazing substitute. It actually freaked me out how much he was like Frank Sinatra when I first saw him. It still amazes me now. Well worth a trip to see him.

CAMRA will also be holding one of their beer festivals over the three day weekend. So for those of you who don’t have kids or can find a babysitter for part of the weekend, why not make a day/evening of it, relax, enjoy some beer, go to one of the restaurants hosting a live band for a meal and take in some jazz.

(Atkinson picture from: http://www.britishtheatreguide.info)

(Southport Jazz picture from: http://www.safeconcerts.com)

Hitch your wedding dress into your knickers

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What bride wouldn’t want to hitch their wedding dress into their knickers, throw on some Hunter wellies and trudge through a muddy field to get married at this church?! Just me? Well picture it – it’s a beautiful little church, nothing else around, spectacular scenery, romantic, small and intimate. Marriage is a celebration of love, and what better way to celebrate than in a breath taking place that doesn’t require you spending a fortune on decorating it?! All its charm and uniqueness is within the building, the history and the surroundings themselves. That’s why it’d be special. You don’t have to pay to make it special, it already is.

It is Llanrhychwyn Church just outside Trefriw and on the way to Lake Geirionydd. It is said to be the oldest church in Wales and Prince Llywelyn is meant to have built it for his wife’s use.

ImageMy partner spotted it when he was out on a run one day and we stopped there when we went for a drive around last weekend.

The door was unlocked, merely held shut by a piece of stick. It was very quiet and I imagine that on a nice sunny day, it would be one of the most beautiful sights in the area. It was already beautiful in the miserable weather. Only problem is there’s nowhere really to leave cars – you’d either have to have a small wedding party or hike your way up there. But what’s wrong with doing that?!

We have already picked where we’d like to get married when we eventually do (it is another beautiful, quaint church), but I must admit I am starting to be drawn more to the wedding dress in knickers scenario. I’d feel like Elizabeth Bennet marching across the fields to go and visit her sister Jane at Pemberley.

We’ll just have to put on the wedding invitations “walking boots essential” xx

Pictures from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Llanrhychwyn_Church_-_geograph.org.uk_-_209644.jpg

Books wrapped in brown paper and string

ImageI grabbed ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ to read at the weekend. I think I may be one of the last people to read it. I saw it at my parents’ place and stole it from their bookshelf. I love getting engrossed in a book. I barely have the time for it anymore though. We always seem to be so busy.

The last book I stayed up all night to read was when I was at uni and I started reading ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier (again, I was late reading that). I stayed up until 4am because I couldn’t put it down – good job I had no lessons the next day.

Not enough people read in my opinion. I’m surprised by how many people I know who don’t like reading, or don’t like reading fiction at least. There are too many good books out there for people to not find at least one they enjoy. My daughter loves reading. We read together every night at bedtime, I really enjoy buying books for her too. When our baby comes along, I’m looking forward to when he’s a bit older and us all snuggling into my daughter’s bed at night and reading together. I read to my daughter from when she was born. Every night when I put her in her cot, I would read to her – even if it was just a little picture type book with one word per page.

I have a tradition of reading ‘The Night Before Christmas’ by Clement C Moore every Christmas eve. It is the version that is illustrated by Arthur Rackham. I can’t bring myself to read another version of it. My friend’s mum bought it for me in the 80’s, and I’ve read it every Christmas since then. When my daughter came along, I started reading it to her too every year. I hope she continues the tradition with her children when she is older. It’s such a beautiful book.

There is a bookshop that I love called Broadhurst’s. It’s like an old house that’s been converted into a shop. They sell antique books and new books. When I step foot in the place I feel a mixture of excitement, calm and warm – if that makes sense. The children’s room is magical. It has a fire, comfy chairs and some absolutely beautiful books. It is like stepping back in time or going to the bookshop in You’ve Got Mail. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful – they even wrap your books in brown paper and string. Everyone, at some point, should visit Broadhurst’s and buy a book that gets wrapped in brown paper and string – it’s romantic, magical and like something out of a movie.

(picture from: http://www.otsnews.co.uk/broadhursts-book-shop-join-ots-news-co-uk-business-directory/)