Sunday Sevens #94 30.7.17

This week’s Sunday Sevens features several locations in 4 different countries believe it or not! Here goes…

Sunny English summer skies


This time last week we were in Reading enjoying the last full day with our old friends who once lived in Gibraltar. They have a lovely big back garden and the weather conspired to allow the Little Postcards and their friends to play outdoors for ages on the trampoline and running about on the grass. Meanwhile my friend and I looked on, coffee, and then gin in hand, and enjoyed a jolly good catch up. We had such a lovely time, thank you so much x

Ride a cock horse… our Banbury detour


So our return trip up North managed to coincide with some rather annoying (for us) railway engineering works. We ended up killing an hour in Banbury between connections. My only prior knowledge of the place was a bloke at University called ‘Pete from Banbury’ and the nursery rhyme. I can now add to that extensive catalogue of knowledge by contributing the fact that Banbury Debenhams do a damn fine chocolate brownie.

Family times


On Tuesday we went out for a lovely meal with my parents, brother and sister-in-law. My brother gave us a lift in his van and opened the sunroof, much to the delight of the Little Postcards! Check out that blue sky!

Oh, and there was an octopus at the table too…


Heading home – very slowly!


Wednesday meant time to leave England and a long wait for our plane home. A medical emergency on the plane we should have caught made our departure time 2 hours later than it should be. I hope the patient is ok.

We took off in the end though… good bye for now England!



Blue skies above


Back in Gibraltar, and boy it’s been very warm! Not a cloud in the sky…



Hot, hot, hot!


I know I’ve just spent 2 and a half weeks in England and I’m out of practice, but it really has been hot – 32.4 degrees on Friday.

Off on holiday again


I’ve had a very quick turnaround this week, unpacking our suitcases, washing and refilling them in time for our road trip to Portugal. We are staying in the same place as we did on our last visit two years ago, not far from Alvor. This is the Queen Sofia Bridge in Seville, it’s a huge structure which sea-going tankers can travel beneath. You get a great view of the city from it too. Oh, and it was 38.5 degrees there – phew!

After a five hour drive from Gibraltar and a welcome drop in temperature by a couple of degrees, we arrived at our destination. We’ve been hanging out with the locals…

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series for bloggers which was created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. It features seven (or perhaps more) photos from the last seven days of your week. If you are a blogger and would like to join in with the Sunday Sevens community, then pop over to Natalie’s blog to find out how you can get involved.

A postcard from Rendlesham Forest UFO Trail

Until recently, I knew very little about Rendlesham Forest and the UFO sightings which occurred there in 1980. This summer though, on our holiday to Suffolk, we were able to visit Rendlesham Forest for the first time. It gave us the chance to have a great family day out, and find out a little bit more about the funny goings on in the woods…

Nowadays Rendlesham Forest comes under the stewardship of the Forestry Commission. On arrival, there were a couple of wardens on hand to point us in the right direction to the facilities and we were able to pick up a leaflet detailing the UFO walk. There’s a camp site at the forest and many walking and cycling trails through the trees. On a dry, sunny August day, there were plenty of people about keen to enjoy the delights the forest had to offer.

For the Postcard family, it was the UFO trail which held the most appeal…

The wide path beckoned us through the trees with three young UFO hunters eager to solve the mystery of whether aliens did indeed visit this part of Suffolk in the long and distant past (well before they were born…)

Rendlesham Forest is a really beautiful spot, the trees are farmed and the whole area is really well maintained. There is also a good mix of trees to be enjoyed,  different sections of the woodland are dedicated to different trees; pine, silver birch and other deciduous varieties.

As the trail wound deeper into the forest, a loud droning noise seemed to be echoing off the trunks of the trees around us. We just couldn’t figure out what was making the racket until we spotted glimpses of the nearby air base through the trees in the distance. A very large plane was obviously was manoeuvring in preparation for take-off.

We were soon greeted by a sign explaining the significance of the air base in the UFO sighting story.

We were at the East Gate, where the first lights were spotted in the sky on that December night back in 1980, and where the whole Rendlesham UFO story began.

The trail led us along the now disused road which follows the perimeter of the air base and on through the trees towards our next destination. In the meantime, the loud plane noises had ceased as it had taken off and all that could be heard was the wind blowing through the branches of the pine trees.

As we reached a cross roads, we were taken by surprise as the plane had circled and came back in to land. A crowd of passers-by had gathered to see what was going on. A local resident commented that it was the first time in months that he had seen any air traffic at the base and was pleased to see the RAF back in residence.

We crossed the road and continued the trail deeper into the forest. A small group of airmen had followed the lights into the forest thinking that an aircraft had crashed. We were following in their footsteps.

All along the route, the path is clearly marked with signs pointing you in the right direction. On the rear of these posts is a secret code specially put there for children. At the Forestry Commission office in the carpark at the start of the trail, special UFO kits are available to buy (for about £1.50 I think) which helped to keep the younger members of the party engaged on the walk.

The kits contain a code cracker and on completion of the walk, you can decipher a special message (left by aliens) using the translation table.

It was a great idea and really helped us divert attention from the tired little legs which had had enough part of the way around the walk! The boys really enjoyed seeking out the next secret symbol and we were able to crack the code once we’d got home. I cannot tell you what the answer is though, it’s classified as top secret 😉

As we wandered through the trees, seeing more signs and following the timeline of events which happened back in 1980 (from the leaflet) we could hear the plane circling overhead again. It took off and landed several times while we were walking through the forest, I have to admit that the droning of the engine did add to the spooky atmosphere in some parts of the forest.

It really is a stunningly beautiful place.

After a while we were directed to a clearing in the forest which was home to this:

It is a 3D representation of what one of the US Airforce man drew after his experience in the forest. The UFO is believed to have landed near this spot and looked like this model. 

We were at the mid-point of the trail, our next stop was at the edge of the forest near some farmland where the mysterious lights were spotted.

The last ‘site’ we visited is where a UFO was reported to have landed. In the intervening 36 years the area has been replanted with trees several times but they all failed to thrive and now it is left as a clearing.

Once our UFO trail was complete, the ‘Out of this World’ play area was beckoning. It was a fab place for little people to run wild. With lots of branches left lying around, previous visitors had used the timber to create great dens.

There was also a great adventure play area too. Believe it or not, it was crowded with families – it took quite a while to get this photo without any children in it! I think they were all off balancing on a timber assault course at this moment!

Our trip to Rendlesham Forest was such a hit, we went back again for a second visit. The second time we took reinforcements – we brought Grandparents, an Aunt and an Uncle too. I’m pretty sure that they enjoyed it as much as we did. 

If you should find yourself in this part of Suffolk, I would really recommend a visit. There is a small charge for parking and the leaflets detailing the walk were free. There’s a very large picnic area and space to barbecue. Plus, you’ll be able to say you completed the Rendlesham UFO Trail!

For more information on the Rendlesham UFO Trail, check out the  Forestry Commission website.

A Postcard from the Norfolk Broads

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost a month since the end of our summer holiday in England. We packed a lot into our time there both up in the North West and in East Anglia. On our final week, we hired a day boat to cruise the Norfolk Broads, I took quite a few photos, so thought I’d share our day’s cruise with you.

Our first port of call that morning was Potter Heigham, where we collected the keys to our boat and our life jackets and had a quick driving lesson before negotiating our way out of the ‘parking space’ and out onto the water.

Within a few minutes, we were soon on our way and the dark clouds over head began to  get a lot lighter… things were looking good.

Chugging along on the water gives you such a different perspective to things. First of all, you can’t do anything quickly. Even steering the boat takes an inordinately long time – or so it seems when you have a sailing boat bearing down on you at a fair lick.

You also get to see so many diffent things which you miss as you drive around the Broads by car. There were so many lovely houses backing onto the water.

They came in all sorts of shapes and sizes and colours. Some were homes and others holiday rentals.

Of course, this being Norfolk, there were a fair few wind pumps on our route too.

We headed west from Potter Heigham on the River Bure towards Thurne, and then to St Benet’s Abbey.

Most of the other boats on the water were day hires like ours and holiday cruisers but there were some really beautiful wooden sailing boats too. Of course, these didn’t use their engines, just the wind to power them along. This meant that we had to give way to them, which wasn’t always the easiest thing to do, when your boat doesn’t want to slow down, go faster or turn exactly the way you want it to! We had one or two hairy moments trying to avoid collisions!

The wildlife we saw on our trip was varied. The Little Postcards had a list which they made of all the creatures we encountered along the way. This was our first heron.

After rather a lot of maneouvering about, we managed to dock at St Benet’s Abbey – a place I knew absolutely nothing about.

This family of swans soon cottoned onto the fact that we had a picnic lunch and came along to see what we had to spare!

After our refreshments, we followed the sign-posted path towards the ruins of St Benet’s Abbey.

All that really remains of the original Abbey is the gate house, with the addition of a Georgian mill.

The monastery (or what’s left of it) has been a venue of Christian worship for over 1,000 years. It’s thought it was settled by a small group of religious hermits as early as the 9th Century but that the Benedictine Abbey was established in the 1020s. It became a pivotal player in the development of the Broads and became a large land owner.

St Benet’s Abbey is unique in that it was the only one not to be closed by King Henry VIII, when he shut down the rest of the English Monastery’s in the 1530s. Instead, the Abbot at the time, Abbot Rugge, was made Bishop of Norwich and remained Abbot of St Benet’s in exchange for properties given to the Crown.

The Bishop of Norwich still conducts an annual service here on the first Sunday of August.

We were greeted by a very impressive dragon on our arrival at the Abbey. Made by local artists and children out of locally grown willow, yarn, ribbon and cloth, it was created to depict the legend of the Ludham Dragon, or the Ludham Wyrm.

A series of children’s paintings nearby told the story of the dragon, which used to live in tunnels under the church and occasionally came up from below to eat local farm animals and scare the villagers. One day when the dragon was out on the marshes, a local blacksmith blocked the entrance to the tunnel with a large stone. When it returned, it was furious and flew across the marshes to St Benet’s Abbey where it knocked down the walls in it’s fury and then went down into the tunnels beneath the Abbey, legend has it that it still sleeps there to this day.

The dragon project was produced by the Barrington Farm artists and Withy Arts with funding from the National Lottery. If you click on this link you can read all about how the Ludham Dragon was created on the Withy Arts blog, also how the Bishop of Norwich blessed the project on his annual visit to conduct the service at St Benet’s Abbey.

 

On the ‘inside’ of the Abbey walls, you can clearly see what used to be very grand architecture, which has somehow been commandeered into a mill!

It’s a very interesting building none-the-less with what look like bricked up windows up the internal walls.

On the internal side of the archway, some of the original carvings have only just survived the test of time.

There’s also a fair amount of carving of a less ‘professional’ yet no less interesting sort!

The soft stone was covered with ancient and modern graffiti.

It’s hard to imagine what the Abbey must have been like in it’s hey day, huge and dominating the surrounding countryside.

Beyond the gatehouse lay a field with a cross a the end. The cross marks the spot where the original altar would have stood and this is where the annual service takes place at the start of August.

It is a very tranquil place and so atmospheric. Made even more so by the sounds of choral music which can be heard emanating from a ‘talking’ bench nearby.

The Abbey stands in a very prominent position by the river side.

Our wander around the ruinous Abbey came to an end and we headed back to the quayside to pick up our boat again.

After lunch and a nice walk, a spot of crochet was in order as we cast off on our way…

I had no idea that there was a paddle steamer operating on the Broads…

We continued on our journey westward towards Ranworth Broad.

Cormorants were added to the Little Postcards’ list of wildlife which had been spotted.

Ranworth Broad was so pretty with so many beautiful homes backing onto the water.

Never before had I seen an ice-cream boat! It even played the tune to ‘Messing about on the River’ in the usual tinny ice cream van way! The two ladies on it were very jolly and gave us a wave on the way past. I’m not entirely sure how you negotiate buying your strawberry split or 99 flake boat-to-boat, so we decided to give it a miss!

As we only had the boat for the day, the time had come to turn around and retrace our cruise back to our starting point. By now, the clouds which had earlier threatened rain were all gone and we had beautiful blue skies and wispy clouds overhead.

We chugged back past St Benet’s Abbey, seeing it to advantage from the water.


As we approached Potter Heigham again, the traffic on the river got busier.

We got another opportunity to ogle at the many beautiful river front homes…

…small ones and beautiful thatched ones…

…and very grand ones with their own private watery drives near Ludham.

How’s that for an impressive collection of hydrangeas?

Before we knew it, we were approaching our destination.

There were lots of other people at Potter Heigham handing back their boats or mooring up for the night. The swans clearly were in the know it was a great spot to get a snack!

And there we were, back where we had started. Such a lovely day travelling around a little part of the Norfolk Broads. It was a chance for us all to experience a very beautiful part of England up close and it certainly won’t be the last time we do it.

And as for the wildlife spotted by the Little Postcards on our voyage? Here goes: Several dogs, many ducks, multiple swans, half a dozen great crested grebes, a couple of cranes, cormorants, Egyptian geese, hundreds of seagulls, three herons and a wasp. Not bad for a few hours spotting – just as well the Little Postcards had a nature loving Uncle on board to help with identification!

I hope you have enjoyed this Postcard from the Norfolk Broads, thank you for stopping by.

Summer Craft Challenge 2016 Part 7 

Day 43 : Saturday 20th August


I made up for the crafty inactivity of our journey home last Friday by cracking open my watercolour paints. I’d intended to take them on holiday with me but forgot to pack them! I missed them… I also managed to finish a very small rainbow scarf for Littlest Postcard too. 

Day 44 : Sunday 21st August

Another day, another new project… This one’s for Middle Postcard (apologies little man I can’t think of a better pseudonym for you). He chose the yarn and asked for a winter hat. Having failed to find a suitable pattern online I’m making it up as I go along… Let’s see how this turns out 😉

Day 45 : Monday 22nd August


It’s beginning to look less like a big blue & green boob and more like a hat. Hurrah for that! 😉

Day 46 : Tuesday 23rd August

It’s finished! One completed bobble hat = one happy Little Postcard.


I’ve had loads of fun working on this – can you guess what it is?

Introducing Llanita the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep. Llanita will soon be jetting off to the yarn festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire, known as Yarndale. Along with hundreds of other handmade sheep, she will be auctioned off to raise much needed funds for Martin House Hospice. 


Baa!

Day 47 : Wednesday 24th August


A day at the beach in Sandy Bay meant portable crochet was required. A few circles were hooked up on the sand.

Day 48 : Thursday 25th August


If sewing name tapes into school uniform counts as craft, then here’s what I was doing yesterday. So far, with three new sets of school uniform for three Little Postcards all going to new schools, I have sewn in 13, just a gazillion left to do!

Day 49 : Friday 26th August


Back on Day 12 of this challenge I tried, and failed, to have a go at free-motion machine embroidery. After posting my failed attempt on Instagram the lovely Karen at Wakeymakes, Shiela at Sewchet and Laura at Holly’s Kitchen came forward with great advice. 

I am now the proud owner of a special presser foot for the job and know how to drop the feed dog on my machine to it doesn’t chew everything up. What has now become evident is the fact it’s not as easy as it looks…. Practice, practice, practice is required. I’ll keep you posted, but it could be some time before I produce anything worth showing so please bear with me.

Another Dino


Do you remember the little Dino I made back in Part 2?  Well the little baby boy he was made for arrived safely and this little chap has moved in with him so I can show him to you now (his Nana reads this blog so I had to keep him under wraps).

That’s it for this latest week of my craft challenge and it’s the penultimate one for me as the school gates reopen in Gibraltar on 1st September. Thanks for joining me on my crafty journey through the school summer holidays. 

Summer Craft Challenge 2016 Part 6

Day 36 : Saturday 13th August


I know I’d only been working on this blanket for 8 days when I took this photo but there’s an awfully long way still to go!! I have crocheted every day so far and have used a complete ball of white wool edging the circles so far. As one Instagram and blogging friend Wakeymakes pointed out at least I’ll have good memories of the different locations where I’ve made all of the squares 🙂

Day 37 : Sunday 14th August 


Time for a spot of slow Sunday morning stitching at breakfast time…

Day 38 : Monday 15th August


It was the turn of the Little Postcards to be crafty on Monday morning with a pottery painting session at Gallery Thea in Southwold. This effort was a lighthouse, just like the one at Europa Point, by the Littlest.


Did you know that Monday was Granny Square Day 2016? Here’s my contribution to the collage blanket collated by @suregal27 on Instagram. I only had a few colours with me on holiday so I used the colours in my current blanket WIP. 

Day 39 : Tuesday 16th August


A new chunky wool project was begun on a boat on the Norfolk Broads. We hired a day boat and chugged around the Broads for about six hours, it was really lovely. I have run out of my white wool for my blanket WIP (cue : shock, horror, teeth gnashing) so I had to start something new that was portable. Littlest Postcard saw this rainbow wool in a wool shop last week and asked me to buy it and make him something. He’s getting a scarf if the wool lasts long enough…

Day 40 : Wednesday 17th August


We loved it so much at Rendlesham Forest last week that we made a return trip. We had a lovely woodland walk and I enjoyed a quiet few moments of crochet while Littlest Postcard enjoyed the adventure playground. 

I was also able to collect our pottery productions from Gallery Thea, they had rushed our painted bits and bobs through the kiln in time for us to pack them and take them back to Gibraltar with us. Littlest’s lighthouse came out really well 🙂

Day 41 : Thursday 18th August


One last pint of Adnams Spindrift sitting on the South Green in Southwold on the last night of our holiday.  We’ve had a wonderful two weeks here and are sad to be saying goodbye…

Day 42 : Friday 19th August


No craft today I’m afraid, for the first time this summer craft challenge I haven’t picked up a needle, hook or brush. This was our last glimpse of Blighty as we flew home to Gibraltar (I think we were near Southampton when I took it). Eleven hours door to door, we’re a little jaded, normal service will be resumed tomorrow…

A postcard from Walberswick

Earlier this week we were joined by six other members of the Postcard family and took a short trip across the River Blyth from Southwold to Walberswick. For the princely sum of £1 you can be rowed across the river, but we were traveling in such a large group that we opted for four wheels rather than two oars to get there.

It’s a picturesque and peaceful spot popular with families who were out enjoying a bright summer’s day.

Walberswick is famous for something other than being pretty…. crabbing. It’s the home of the World Crabbing Championships after all, so we thought we’d have a go.  Armed with bait (bacon), a crabbing bucket, net and several crabbing lines we set off on a crabbing adventure.

After a long wait with our lines, we got a nibble, we got 3 or 4 in fact but each time we tried to pull the line up and out of the water the crab let go and plopped back into the water. Eventually, one of our party waded into the shallows and scooped up the ultimate prize in the net… a crab!!!

A neighboring family had much more success with a multitude of crabs, fish and even a bucketful of jellyfish. 

After Crabby the crab was returned to his home, we walked back towards the village centre – there are crabs everywhere round here!

And we ended up in this gorgeous little place nestled behind the Bell Inn. It’s called the Barn Café.

I had a gorgeous lunch of locally bred pork pie – delicious!

In the loos of the neighbouring pub there were crabs there too!

After lunch a short stroll took us into the village centre with its lovely village green.

Ooh it’s so pretty here with thatched cottages and gorgeous little gardens.

There are a few small shops selling local crafts, cakes and souvenirs.

We really enjoyed our trip to Walberswick- it was a treat for all the family.

We even brought a crab home with us!

A postcard from Southwold 

Unless you are completely new to this blog, it won’t have gone unnoticed that we are currently on our summer holidays at Southwold in Suffolk. It’s a beautiful English seaside town which has loads of charm and character. 

It’s famous for its beach huts, lighthouse, beach and pier as well as the Adnams beer which is brewed locally. Mr Postcard grew up quite nearby, so Southwold has been a regular venue for day trips for us many times over the years while in Norfolk and Suffolk visiting his family. This time, however, is the first time we’ve actually stayed in the town. 

I thought we had probably seen all that it has to offer in the 20+ years we’ve been coming but I was wrong, one and a half weeks into our stay we are still finding quaint alleyways and new places we have never seen before. 


Would you like to join me for a look around? 

Southwold Museum

The little museum seems like as good a place as any to start… Manned by volunteers and open for just two hours a day it holds all sorts of relics from the towns past.

From figureheads from boats to fossils and mammoth teeth.

It has all sorts of bits and bobs relating to the town’s past, this little display was connected to the town’s tailor which is still operating as a clothes shop known as Denny’s. Whether they’ll make you a three piece suit out of tweed in this day and age, I’m not sure.

There were also lots of items relating to the religious life of the town with fragments of stained glass windows from the church of St Edmund’s which was close to a direct hit by German bombs during World War II.

Church of St Edmund’s

The church is home to Southwold Jack, a figure who strikes a bell with his sword. He was once part of a clock and chimed the time. He is an emblem for Southwold and even appears on the bottles of beer produced in the town.

It’s a beautiful big church…

There’s a fair amount of needlework on display here; in the choir stalls…

And in all the pews.

Riverside & harbour

Beside Southwold lies the River Blyth which offers the town a natural harbour. Here you can catch a ferry (rowing boat) across to the picturesque village of Walberswick on the other side.

It’s a really beautiful spot. We took a walk along the riverside on evening on a quest to find somewhere to have dinner. We were lucky enough to see a seal swimming in the harbour.

Along the riverside lie many black huts belonging to the fishermen who work these waters.


After a very pleasant walk we found ourselves at the Harbour Inn and enjoyed a lovely meal outside with the Little Postcards as the sun went down.


The Sailors’ Reading Room 

The Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room is a really special place. It’s a kind of club for sailors but it’s open to the public to visit for free. It’s filled with photographs of sailors from years gone by and photos, paintings and models of their boats too. Cameras are not permitted inside, so I can’t show you the interior but it really is worth a visit. 



Lighthouse

The town is dominated by the Trinity Lighthouse. Nestled in amongst the terraced cottages and next to a pub, it’s open for visitors to climb the many steps to the top to look out across the sea and coastline.

RNLI

The RNLI has a strong presence in Southwold. In summertime there’s a lifeguard station and all year round there’s a lifeboat station, manned as always by brave volunteers. There’s even a museum dedicated to the great work these amazing people do and have done over the many years they’ve been on duty here. 

On our first day here, we were lucky enough to see a display by the local lifeboat and the larger lifeboat (below) from nearby Lowestoft. As you can see, hundreds of people turned out to see the event from the cliffs and the beach as the lifeboat crews staged rescues of surfers, a fishing boat crew and swimmers.

The town 

The town of Southwold itself is beautiful. It’s filled with many independent shops including great food shops, a big favourite of ours was the Two Magpies Bakery (my waistline will testify to that fact!)


Behind the town lies the common complete with it’s two striking water towers, and also currently, the circus.


There are so many beautiful buildings lying up alleyways and tucked away off the beaten track.

Oh, and there’s a brewery here too… I think I may have found a new favourite tipple 😉

If you should happen to be in this neck of the woods, I would really recommend a trip to Southwold. We just can’t help keep coming back for more…