My super Aunty Mary came to stay on Friday for the weekend. Her son, my cousin Stephen, was coming down this way for a wedding so she was able to cadge a lift. We've had such fun - chatted non stop, quoting chunks of Shakespeare and poetry, comparing books,catching up with the family gossip,drinking much red wine and generally putting the world to rights. Took her to meet Julian, Carey and the grandkids and finished up at our usual restaurant last night.

She has become my surrogate mum since mine died and I think she wanted to check out where we were living and if I was happy. Glad to say she approved. The place seems very quiet now she's gone home.

Sygun Copper Mine

Family outing as the kids are all on holiday. A pretty miserable damp start to the day as we drove up into the mountains of Snowdonia and the cloud was rolling down across the roads and everything was dripping. The mine was damp, dark and chilly but very interesting and the copper stalactites and stalagmites were stunning. The walls shimmed with copper and the water too. We emerged high up in the mountain, the rain had stopped and the humidity after the deep caverns hit us.

After the compulsory visit to the shop and a much needed sandwich and coffee we had a gorgeous walk along the river to a stunning lake, I was expecting an arm to shoot out the middle of it grasping Excalibur!

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The weather coinciding with us having a free day for once we were able to make a much promised visit to Bodnant Gardens. And very lovely it is too, the house is stunning but not open to the public, but the gardens are beautiful and much renovation work has been taking place. The shops and cafe are also rather nice and I spent a long time chatting with a brilliant water colour artist in her studio picking up tips. I really wanted to paint like her. 

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Bala Eisteddfod and BBQ

Yesterday another busy day. Our Saturday Welsh speaking group organised a visit to the Eisteddfod at Bala and we all set off in a convoy through the Welsh countryside. Luckily the weather had warmed up and was dry so had a pleasant if exhausting time wandering round the art shows, stalls, grabbing freebies and listening to lots of music and, of course everything in Welsh!

Got back in time for a quick clean up and then to a neigbours for a BBQ. They had one of these wood burning outdoor stoves so were able to sit out until late drinking, eating and watching the bats zooming over our heads.

Today the weather has again been good so a bit of tidying up in the garden after having a bit of a lie in this morning.

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Art, Chester, Waterhouse and Buggery!

Last  Wednesday's art class involved drawing and painting a tree and we had the skill of a visiting watercolourist to help us. The end product for me was quite surprisingly good - held up it even looked like a tree so I was well pleased. Thursday's Welsh was some revision, extremely useful as most of us were floundering a little. At friday's Photoshop we tackled Bezier curves an extremely difficult and tricky thing to master. My concentration was that much the afternoon just disappeared but I did finally get to produce something. Whether I ever remember again is another matter.

Saturday dawned a beautiful warm, sunny day and just right to meet up with some new steampunkers in the area at a BBQ by the river in Chester. Lovely day and lovely people. Very friendly and welcoming and also extremely well read. We shared and compared book lists all afternoon in between eating, drinking. We had to leave a bit early as we were travelling down to London the next day.

This time we decided not to base ourselves in central London basically because of congestion charges and the expense and difficulty in parking. So we booked ourselves into a hotel at East Croydon next to the station. This turned out to be brilliant idea - the hotel was superb with all mod cons and literally across the road from the station for our trip to the Royal Academy Waterhouse exhibition the next day.

After a huge breakfast we boarded the train and made an effortless journey to the Academy meeting up with Claudia there. I had already booked our tickets so it was straight in and, once again, congratulated myself on picking a Monday as it was not too packed at all and we were able to see all the pictures without any problems. And what an amazing collection. All my favourites were there and well as acquainting me with some new ones. Simply amazing to see the originals of many of my prints.The best I think were his sketch books which really illustrated how well he could draw. As a very amateaur artist it's a great learning help to see how artists construct and plan their paintings. I brought post cards, two large prints and a copy of the poster in the shop. After a restorative coffee and sandwich we walked along to piccadilly catching up with the news and then grabbing a train before the rush hour.

Being too lazy and tired to go out again we decided to eat in at the hotel's restaurant and pretty good it was too. Being a buffet arrangement it meant you could grab as much of what you fancied and didn't have to face mounds of stuff you don't like. The first course was mainly fish and was a huge array of smoked salmon, crabs, lobster, prawns, potato and cucumbers salads all displayed on a large mound of ice. There were mains of steak, turkey, sweet and sour ribs, stuffed mushrooms and a large assortment of vegetables, potatoes and rice. There were several choices of gateaux, large strawberries, profiteroles, ice cream and even bread and butter pudding for afters. All for £20 each good value I thought. Slobbed out the rest of the evening watching the film Franklyn on our computer. Wow that was a strange film, amazing imagery and an unusualy story. I shall have to watch it again.

Good journey home yesterday and spent the evening watching the ever colourful Pre-raphs and catching up with my recoded programmes. Amongst which was Rupert Everett's Byron. Oh dear I knew it wan't  going to be that intellectual but his obsession with buggery was becoming boring. I thought if I heard the story of sodomy and sherbert one more time I would scream. Oh well we shall see what the next programme has to offer.

This morning off to the doctors to check Colin's chest and breathing levels which have all risen thanks to the new inhaler, excellent news and then to check out the college and car park as want to enrol for their watercolour techniques course in September.  

Goodness that's another week gone - back to art class tonight with much PreRaphaelites going around my head. Another lady in the lake? Probably not!

Long time no write

Have just been so busy lately and simply had just time for a few Facebook one liners. So a quick synopsis of my doings:-

Country fair the other weekend - unfortunately weather not quite as good as last year's but at least it stayed dry. Wandered about the steam engines and vintage cars and brought a model hearse.

Been busy with artwork, photoshop tutorials and Welsh in between dressmaking and getting covered in glue making various steampunk jewellery and hairpiece bits. The weather has been showery so no distractions about going out.

This weekend we're having a Steampunk meet in Chester with some fellow "northerners". Nice to meet some new people and pass on info about The Asylum. Hopefully photos later.

Sunday a trip to London (well East Croydon actually) and then the Waterhouse exhibition on Monday. Greatly looking forward to that. Maybe meet up with anyone around the area after? Back home Tuesday.

Entertainment has been watching and enjoying Psychoville and Desperate Romantics and not so enjoying the new Harry Potter film which was overlong and in places a little boring in spite of the barking mad Helen Bonham corset!

This morning am looking after Huw and Samie amd then the joys of Sainsburys.

Well that's all folks!

Moonlight Safari and other stuff

Yesterday was even more manic and we didn't get lunch/dinner till midnight!

The cooker arrived at 12.00 good timing as we had Photoshop course at 1.30. Brilliant photoshop lesson where learnt how to put one picture into another and then play around with curves, colour balance and blending modes to make it realistic. I've wanted to learn how to do this properly. Now have homework to do one of my own - when?!

Alan came and fitted the cooker in later and by the time it was up and working it was time to dash off to spend the evening at the Alwen Reservoir for a midnight safari with the kids. It had turned into a stunning evening and we had a beautiful sunset as we walked round the water and into the woods. Heard a Nightjar and saw a lots of bats. We all had bat detectors and it was great to hear all the different clicks and crackles of the various kinds of bats. Not so nice were the midges - yuk everywhere. I had liberally covered myself in repellent so the only place they managed to find was on my scalp and I'm now scatching myself silly - looks like I've got fleas!

We should have gone on another walk this morning with the Welsh speaking group but we were still very stiff  from what was supposed to be a stroll last night but in fact was quite a hike. It's great to see Colin now being able to undertake this sort of activity since having the new ventilator and iron tablets.

This afternoon a very village activity - strawberry tea (te, mefus and hufen in fact!) at the church. I remember this being one of the first village events we attended last year. Gosh how time flies! This evening I'm making my rounds to some of the photoshop group installing my software on all their computers for those who don't have it.

Tomorrow off to the Blue Grass Festival at Conwy and in the evening my daughter and her husband arrive for a weeks holiday. Unfortunately the weather is not so good here at the moment but it's forecast to be better middle of the week. Still looking forward to seeing them both and sure we'll have a good relaxing time.