Hidden Gems: Lowther Castle, Penrith

Do you have somewhere that you visit that you feel really lucky to know about? Somewhere that you feel is a really special place for you and your family? Our place that we feel like that about is a real gem of a place. Lowther Castle has been slowly and lovingly preserved and rediscovered since 2011.

Lowther Castle, Penrith

The castle itself has been preserved after being left derelict for over 70 years. It isn’t being restored to any kind of former glory, but it stands majestically overseeing the real treasure of Lowther – the gardens.

Every year that we return there is a new discovery that has been unveiled, a rock garden, a Japanese garden, another pond. New orchards have been planted and the jewel in the crown for 2014 is going to be a Dan Pearson designed parterre in the courtyard of the castle (work underway below). The staff are always friendly and take great pleasure and pride in telling you about what achievements have been made. The parterre is under a very tight completion deadline of mid June as the Antiques Roadshow are going to be filming there.

Lowther Castle, Courtyard, Parterre

The huge selling point for us as a family at Lowther is that you can really let the children explore and run wild. It isn’t like a formal heritage garden, where you feel like there are rather a lot of Keep off the Grass signs. Lowther positively encourages freedom for the children. There are the best rope swings in the trees and a wild adventure playground for den building in the woods.  In fact they like children so much, they let them in for FREE!

Kids at Lowther, Tree Climbing
Lowther Pond

Lowther Castle, detail

Swinging high and toad hunting in the Japanese garden

Swinging high and toad hunting in the Japanese garden

I could share another hundred photographs with you, but I think it’s a place you would want to turn the corners and discover the views for yourself. The icing on the cake is also the wonderful cafe, which serves delicious home made food. Make sure to leave some room for cakes too. As you go around Lowther and take in all it’s beauty, there are information boards revealing the history of every corner of the garden. We love it, do let me know if you get to visit and what you think.

If you are looking for more great days out like Lowther, Look Insurance have put together a map of hidden gems, which I have contributed to myself (see here). The map has great ideas for the whole of the UK. You can add your little gem too.

Post in association with Look Insurance Services


Sew Your Own Wardrobe – Great British Sewing Bee Series 2 Book

If like me your Tuesday evenings have become the highlight of your week at 8pm, yes?  With a second series of The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2? Of course, who couldn’t fail to be mesmerised with the creativity and the sweat and tears of the contestants, the firm but fair judges Patrick and May and crazy big sister Claudia plying them all with tea and moral support throughout. You will love a little peek into the latest book to accompany the series.

Great British Sewing Bee, Sew Your Own Wardrobe

It gives an easy to understand introduction to all kinds of techniques and technical terms at the beginning of the book, covering measuring, fitting, handling patterns and fabrics, all with lots of diagrams for the visual learner.

Sewing Bee 4
Sewing Bee 5
It is then crammed with lots of patterns. Patterns that you will want to make – a very realistic wardrobe as referred to in the title. Skirts, dresses, tops – simple and fancy.

Sewing Bee 11
Sewing Bee 8
Sewing Bee 9
Sewing Bee 12

If you want to push yourself there is a stunning coat pattern.

Sewing Bee 10
There are also a few patterns for the men in your life – a jacket and trousers. Along with some very cute children’s patterns, the toddler dungarees which were featured in episode four (not sure I could make them in three hours, even if Claudia was making me a brew) and these lovely garments:

Sewing Bee 6
Sewing Bee 7
All the patterns come with so much information, advice on suitable fabrics, pattern layouts and step by step guidance.

Saving the best until last, is the fact that the book also comes with full size pattern pieces, so no printing out A4 pdfs and worrying that your printer has changed the size and having to tape dozens of pieces together – bonus!

All that is missing is the Doris Day soundtrack. So download the greatest hits and make lots of hints to nearest and dearest that this would make you very happy as a gift for Mother’s Day (or just treat yourself).

RRP: £25 but I’ve seen it in Tesco for a bargain £12 and the same online at Amazon.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book by Quadrille (thank you), all gushing is my own honest opinion.

Reasons To Believe

Linking up with Tara for her Reasons To Believe post.

The brief is a photo that “lifts your spirits; makes you smile or warms your heart or gives you a boost for the rest of the day; a photo that shows just how great this world we live in can be.”

Mount Manganui, New Zealand, Sunny Days, Beach

This photo ticks all those boxes for me, blue sea, even bluer sky, Christmas trees growing along the beach edge and the sound of the surf still echoing in my ears. We’ve been back from New Zealand for a month now, but I hope some of the images that we captured will keep the memories alive for the kids as time ticks on.

February 14, 2014 - 7:45 pm

Jen aka The Mad House - Oh what an image. Come on I want to hear more about NZ
Jen aka The Mad House´s last blog post ..Fingerprint heart valentines cards

February 15, 2014 - 9:26 am

Actually Mummy... - Oh, I would so love to have a trip to New Zealand. Is it as fresh and healthy and vital as I’ve heard it is?
Actually Mummy…´s last blog post ..Ask GG: 7 reasons why I will move to another country if Gove gets his way

February 17, 2014 - 11:59 am

Cara - It really is fresh and healthy. Air that you want to stay out in all day. It was a vast place and your eyes couldn’t take it all in. An amazing place for families x

February 17, 2014 - 12:01 pm

Cara - Yes Jen, I know. I need to do it before I forget the names of the crazy places we went. x

Yarn Along

Yarn Along, Longbourn, Jo Baker, Debbie Bliss, Cable and Moss Stitch Jacket
Current Yarn Along is an old favourite of mine from Debbie Bliss – the cable and moss stitch jacket in a lovely mustard colour (the picture doesn’t really do justice). The pattern is from The Baby Knits Book
and the yarn is really lovely considering it is very much a budget one – Hayfield Bonus Aran. I think I paid about £10 for 400g. The 20% wool content makes it feel much nicer than I thought possible.

I’m reading Longbourn by Jo Baker which is Pride and Prejudice told from below stairs. It portrays a much harsher side to the frivolous decorative fans and balls of the original. An interesting read though.

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things.

February 14, 2014 - 8:28 pm

karen sue - Just starting to feel that finding some babies to knit for would inspire me to get something going and finished, instead of just started. I like the look of your knitting. Ready to wrap up in a knit anytime here. Happy weekend

February 17, 2014 - 12:01 pm

Cara - I find that I do get baby things finished more successfully than things for myself Karen. I suppose it’s the deadline of them growing too big to wear it that spurs us on, hey? Thanks for stopping by.

Autumn Kids Crafts

Autumn Craft Collage
We had a lovely afternoon yesterday. Firstly going on a hunt for as many different shapes and colours of leaves as we could, also picking up bits of bark, grasses, berries etc.  We left the six legged spider behind though.

Collecting Leaves

After covering the dining table in newspaper we shook out our finds, gathered the glue, brushes, paper, pens, googlie eyes etc and using some Pinterest inspiration we created some owls, hedgehogs and leaf friends.


We got stuck in and even attracted some children from next door and across the road.

Getting Stuck in

They were really proud of their pictures:







It kept them entertained for a quiet afternoon!