Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

La rentrée September 8, 2013

Filed under: Places to go — lauravw @ 11:21 am

ImageIn France, when they reach the end of summer and everyone picks back up where they left off, they call it la rentrée. The word sounds a lot like re-entry, and that’s sort of what it is – going back to work and normality after the holidays. So, after having neglected Busywork for a couple of months now, this is me picking up where I left off.

I have actually been at home for much of the summer, but now that it’s September and there’s a chill in the air, it feels like a new start. I find this more so that when the new year starts in January, because the weather then just carries on as it has been, there’s no real seasonal change.

I ended the summer on a high note – a day in London with my friend Jane (hello Jane!). It was something we’d talked about doing for a long time, perhaps more than a year, but we finally got round to it, and the weather gave us a perfect late summer day.

We visited the Chelsea Physic Garden, pottered around the very nice shops on the Kings Road, and then headed to the OXO Tower for cocktails. I had done this back in March when Megan and her friends were in London, and was very keen to go back. They had switched to a summer menu for their Not Afternoon Tea, which meant the options were completely different to those I’d had in March. I went for the chocolate bubbles option, and everything on the plate was amazing (pictures here). That was followed by a very refreshing gin cocktail, and then we were on our way, walking across the Thames to St Paul’s and a view across the city as the sun dipped in the sky.


Down on the farm May 28, 2013

Filed under: Nature and wildlife,Places to go — lauravw @ 3:08 pm

pigletsMy mother commented the other day that it’s been a while since I posted anything here. Not a good sign. The usual excuses apply: busyness, laziness, procrastination.

Anyway… The other day I took a trip with my parents to a small farm where you can pet the animals. It’s an ideal time of year to visit a place like this – there were baby animals a-go-go. There was also plenty of cherry blossom, and a tea-room that was worth a visit.

I’d like to think that one day I will live somewhere where my neighbours keep goats. (Or have goats myself, but it would be so much easier to just live near some.) There was a small family of them on the farm, and I always like seeing their smiling faces.

I was also rather keen on the rabbits, and for a short time was able to hold one of the younger ones. He was promptly returned to his hutch when he started to nibble my Boden coat though – and there is still evidence of teethmarks. While we were there, mum and I spotted that one of the rabbits had been making a nest, and we actually spotted two tiny rabbits be born – it was quite exciting to be there for the first few moments of their lives.

If you’d like to see more pictures of cute little animals, there are plenty more on my Flickr account.



There were more cocktails… March 18, 2013

Filed under: Places to go,Travel — lauravw @ 2:23 pm

towerbridgeFor much of the last week I was in London, enjoying a bit of a holiday during some of the coldest weather we’ve seen all winter. Not great timing.

Megan (also known as Not Martha) and some of her friends had flown over from Seattle to visit people. They spent some time in Bath and then Cornwall before they, and I, travelled to London for a few days. Unfortunately a few of them had or were getting over a cold, which curtailed activities slightly, but we still had chance to see some of the sights.

Almost as soon as I arrived, I headed out to meet Melissa (also known as Fehr Trade): it was nice to meet her in person at long last, and I also enjoyed having a tour of her houseboat – during which I asked about some of the more pratical things like where your post is delivered if you live on a boat, and how your rubbish is collected (by boat!).

Dusk was falling as I walked back along the Thames, and that made for an interesting walk – I enjoyed seeing Tower Bridge in the twilight.

The following morning I went with Megan and her friends to have a late breakfast at Nopi, which was an interesting experience – our table was right by the kitchen, and so we could all watch as our food was prepared. Also interesting were the loos, which are covered in mirrors! There are so many mirrors, in fact, that an arrow on the floor points you in the right direction when you have finished admiring your many reflections and are ready to leave.

Then there was shopping – I think we should be grateful that this group of tourists made such a contribution to the economy while they were over here! The next day (Monday) I caught a train out to Wivenhoe in Essex, to meet up with an old friend who has moved there. I have very little experience of Essex (I think I had only been there once before, to visit a university) and didn’t expect the place to be so charming! It was covered in snow, and we trekked along muddy footpaths through fields to collect her daughter from the local village school. I was sent back to London with homemade cake to eat on the way.

Tuesday was our last full day in London, and contained two highlights for me. The first was an exhibition I hadn’t wanted to go to: Light Show at the Southbank Centre. I get a lot of migraines and so was anxious it would trigger one. Luckily for me it didn’t, and I found the whole exhibition really enjoyable – they don’t let you take pictures inside, but there is a video on their website that’s worth a look. (I would have loved to take pictures, but I think not allowing photography is a wise choice here, as people standing around with their cameras would have altered the atmosphere in the space.)

And finally, we ended our holiday with Not Afternoon Tea at OXO Tower: no tea, and no cake – just four puddings and a cocktail. It’s not cheap, but the food and drink were excellent, and I felt very well looked after. And the view is worth paying for too. Be warned if you go that the cocktails are strong – so strong that I quickly stopped worrying about the cost and ordered a second one…


Extravagance February 11, 2013

Filed under: Places to go — lauravw @ 1:20 pm

cocktailsWe had a particularly extravagant Saturday afternoon this weekend. For some time now we’ve had a £100 voucher for a very fancy Nottingham restaurant burning a hole in our pockets, and this was the day we decided to spend some of it.

We’d been given the voucher as a thank you for looking after our friend’s two cats after she died last year – we cared for them for just over six months, and then found a new home for them. Her family gave us the voucher to thank us for our help, which was a lovely surprise. And I’m happy to report that the cats are very happy in their new home – we get fairly regular updates, and have been to visit them.

The restaurant, World Service, doesn’t offer a great deal for vegetarians – there’s only ever one vegetarian option on the menu, and I prefer to go to places where I have a choice about what I eat. But then we had a very bright idea: we would spend the entire voucher in the bar.

And so on Saturday afternoon I went with Andy and my mum to sit around drinking for a few hours. We raised a glass to our friend, and to her cats, and we had a wonderful time. It felt decadent being able to order anything off the extensive cocktail menu, without having to give a thought to the price – something we would never do under normal circumstances. We giggled and drank, enjoying the log fire and the luxurious surroundings – something I could really get used to.

We didn’t even manage to spend the whole £100 – which gives us the perfect excuse to go back and do it all over again in the near future.




A day at Chatsworth November 25, 2012

Filed under: Places to go — lauravw @ 2:07 pm

The week before last, I was able to spend a day at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

I went three years ago, at the same time of year – they really go to town on their Christmas decorations, and the place looks awesome. I preferred the decorations in 2009 – this year was a pantomime theme, which is not really to my taste. Having said that, I still loved how it looked, and as usual took lots of pictures while I was there.

This mantelpiece, covered in fruits and greenery (and tiny toy mice!), was my favourite – I loved the natural colours and the lack of tinsel. But a bit of sparkle can be nice too.

The picture on this post was taken on a walk round the grounds. The roof of this little building was covered in moss, which I loved. There were still plenty of leaves on the trees that day, but with the heavy winds and rain we’ve had this week, I expect it all looks very different now.


Autumn is on November 12, 2012

Filed under: Nature and wildlife,Places to go — lauravw @ 4:32 pm

We got up early(ish) yesterday to head to nearby Wollaton Park.

It seems a lot of other people had the same idea, as it was unusually busy for a cold Sunday morning.

The bright sunshine was illuminating all the trees, and if you stopped and watched them, you could see leaves gently falling to the ground.

We saw a few deer – you can see this stag’s breath in the cold morning air. These two were a little more cautious, quietly pottering around under the cover of the trees.


1940s dance-off September 14, 2012

Filed under: Places to go — lauravw @ 6:29 pm

Two weeks ago we went to a 1940s weekend at Rufford Abbey, which is in Sherwood Forest, north of Nottingham.

It was a free event, and my expectations were low – we’ve been disappointed in the past by events that promise a lot but deliver little. It was quite a trek getting to Rufford by bus, but within two minutes of arriving I was watching people in authentic 1940s costumes dancing, which made my journey totally worthwhile.

There were so many people in costume, people who were part of the event and people who were simply attending it. A large part of the site was devoted to the military, which clearly played a big part in life in those days. What I enjoyed most were the civilians – and as you walked round the site and heard them chatting with each other, you could see that quite a few people remained in character. I heard a women dressed in lower-class clothing be very respectful towards a woman who was clearly of means, and I saw plenty of others who seemed utterly caught up in the past, in a good way.

There was a fly-by from a Spitfire, and then more dancing. The dancers were from the Festival Swing Dance Society, and they looked to be having tremendous fun. The programme of events indicated that there was a dance class being offered by the Society, and I really wanted to be part of it. Andy didn’t want to dance, so that meant I had to be paired up with one of the instructors – which meant I got personal tuition! Disappointingly, it turns out I’m not a natural when it comes to swing dance, but I did enjoy myself at least.

As ever, I took a lot of photos, some of which are now on Flickr.