Magic and making at Alnwick Castle

We’ve had some time away in Northumberland as part of our Easter holidays and we decided to make our second visit to Alnwick Castle.

It’s been four years since our last trip but the children could still remember all the fun they had that day which is pretty impressive when you are 10 and 7 years old.

Alnwick is a beautiful castle right in the heart of Alnwick and it’s well worth a trip. Parking was really easy and just a couple of minutes walk down to the gates. You can buy discounted tickets online in advance but we left it too late so first stop was the ticket office. Our family ticket for 4 cost £45 and you can get it validated so you can return for free within a year (although I never managed to find the place you have to go to do that)

In case you didn’t know, Alnwick isn’t just a beautiful castle, bathed at this time of year in a sea of daffodils, it was also used as a location in the filming of Harry Potter. There is a real sense of the familiar if you are a fan, and plenty of reference to a Harry and Hogwarts in the activities and the gift shop. You don’t need to be a Potter fan to enjoy the place though – there is plenty more to see and do.

We started our day looking at the amazing birds of prey ( flying displays run all day) then went along to the free Archery sessions. With a cold wind blowing and quite a few people waiting we decided not to queue so went on to explore into the towers of the castle where various exhibits are displayed.Through into the main section we could join in on broomstick training sessions and watch a show featuring Harry, Dumbledore and some magic. They were both good fun and I would highly recommend the broomstick training if only for the photo opportunities at the end – grab your camera or phone and snap your family members flying on their broomstick – if you time it right you’ll get an awesome photo!

Into the courtyard there is an area for dressing up and trying out the stocks. They also offer free craft activities. The kids remembered making homemade soap on our previous visit, today it was magic wands.

In the courtyard you can also collect a ticket to visit the Dragons Quest which was a really good walkthrough exhibition full of lots of really good special effects and a tricky mirrored maze which nearly caused us a few bumped heads

We finished our trip inside the castle visiting the state rooms. There were lots of tours and guides all around to speak to. We chose to go round ourselves but we chatted to a really friendly and knowledgeable guide. It amazed us all to see signs of normal life among all the state and history and to learn that the family do use some of those rooms for real. It was lovely to see real family photos alongside famous art works and some pictures of Royals who have stopped by for a visit.

The castle is a great place to visit and the activities made it a great family school holiday trip. We only visited the castle but Alnwick also has beautiful gardens and the fantastic treehouse restaurant which could extend your visit even further.

If you haven’t been I would highly recommend a visit. I’m off to practice on my broomstick….

A happy handmade Mother’s Day

Today was Mother’s Day and my family have excelled themselves. My breakfast in bed (croissants – might regret that when I get back in bed tonight) was accompanied by lots of cards and gifts from my kids.

There were all kinds of handmade items they had made in school and at their Guides and Beavers groups.

At this point I realised there were some lovely aromas drifting up from the kitchen. On investigation I discovered they had been busy baking – chocolate brownies and peanut butter cookies (gluten free of course).

How awesome is that!!

We had an afternoon out at the beautiful Holmes Place in Clitheroe, home of Bowland Brewery. I love this place, especially when Crafty Vintage are in town and I get to spend time looking at all the beautiful handmade products on offer.

We finished our day off with a walk in the woods and home in time for brownies and Formula 1.

A great day – thank you to my lovely family!

Shopping & selling at handmade events

It’s been a busy few weeks lately at PepperPot and I’ve been really enjoying branching out into making a new range of dolls. I’ve also been spending my weekends at handmade markets. A few weeks ago I visited Crafty Vintage at Bowland Brewery in Clitheroe. I love Crafty Vintage events – always in brilliant venues with amazing handmade and vintage products and delicious food. I haven’t been to Bowland Brewery before but I will be going back in the future – it’s a stunning venue for a restaurant and we were able to get a table afterwards for some fab burgers. 


The handmade stalls at Crafty Vintage were brilliant as ever. I didn’t manage to get photos of everything on show there, but here is a selection from sellers including jewellery from HandmadebyEmma, home fragrance from TheThomasColes, homewares from TillyandSage &  Lottie&Bea and sparkly baubles (my photo doesn’t do them justice!) from 7lemons and loads more beside. 

You can find out more about Crafty Vintage events at www.craftyvintage.com.

I was going to write this blog when I came home from Clitheroe, but I was busy making products for my next handmade market the week after. I really enjoyed being part of the first St Anne’s handmade market by MWLevents. I’ve never visited Lytham St Anne’s before, the venue was right by the promenade so I got to have a little walk along the sea front (thank you to all the lovely beach hut residents who let me interrupt their day to talk about the market!) 

MWLevents runs handmade markets in venues around the North West and like Crafty Vintage they are full of talented sellers. I managed to get a few pictures of the day in between talking to customers including wood art from TheCraftyChap, delicious chocolates from Lloyd’sChocolatier, handmade soaps from Ma’sBars, typewriter arts from OiDoris, gifts from MoominDesigns, pictures from MWLDesigns and JRHayesDraws – the list goes on…

 

And of course I had my own stall too 😊


It was interesting to meet visitors to the market – so many people were so impressed by what was on offer and  the standard of all the products. Crafty Vintage is well established and many of its visitors are regulars who know what a fab event they will be going to. St Anne’s handmade market brought something new to the area and I think people were surprised by what they found. There are more markets coming there later in the year – you can find details of all MWLevents markets at www.twitter.com/MWLevents 
One thing both proved is that handmade is best – so go and find the next market near you, it’s so much better to shop local and buy things made with love that aren’t just mass produced. 

Chorley Handmade Market

It was my first Market of the year today in the Lancastrian Suite of Chorley Town Hall.

There’s always a good mix of stalls at Chorley Handmade, and lots of talented crafters so it’s a great market whether you are a stall holder or a visitor.

I’ve brought new items to this market so I laid my stall out differently. It’s always nice to bring new products  – the tooth fairy pillows and needle felted fairies were a hit!


I managed to get round to see some of the stalls and take pictures of a few before the market opened.

There were tasty treats like marmalade gin & tonic from Gribbin and Bear, muffins from The Muffin Mistress and the gorgeous Rivington Chocolates


Then lots of amazing handmade items from  MWL Designs‘ framed pictures, to Sarah Brelsford Studio‘s glass work, That Silver Touch jewellery,

Lovely images of the Lake District from Northaway Photography, wood crafts from Smallthingswood and the clever pebble pictures from Out Of The Blue.


John Pindar Arts was also on hand letting children create their own art to take away.

There were so many others there who I didn’t get a chance to photograph – needle felting, ceramics, glassware, thread art… b2greenwoodworking, Peacock Chic, RELEASE into Victory ‘Angel Gifts’ project, Blue Butterfly Crafts, Needle-Felt Art and fibre-crafts by Sharon Shaul, Click Handknitted, Janes Bees, Frances Smith, Going Potty with Sam, Kat Pearson Designs, MaggieJacksStudio, JT Crowley Books, Suzanne Kelly, The Crafty Chap  and Hidden Treasures all had stalls at the market.

The next Chorley Handmade Market is on Saturday 13th May – follow event organiser MWL Events on Facebook or twitter to keep up to date.

Want to know which markets you can find me at in the future? You can find me on Facebook or twitter too!

Adventures in Blackpool Zoo…

It’s been half term this week, today we took a trip to Blackpool Zoo. Looking at revuews online last night it seemed that not everyone was impressed, so I wasn’t totally sure how our day would go, but we have really enjoyed our visit.

We stared in the Dinosaur Safari, which we did manage to walk round the wrong way, slightly messing up the chronology of the story but the dinosaurs were all there and the kids loved spotting the ones they knew.


Then it was on to the real animals. We started with a bird display – a beautiful parrot and some birds of prey – aparently the colour of an owls eyes can help you work out if it hunts at night or in the day….

There were lots of animals to visit and talks all through the day, which we really enjoyed. We watched penguins being fed (they had to be quick with seagulls around) and saw camels, lots of birds and monkeys, zebra and reindeer.

One of the highlights for us were the cute monkeys wandering around in the rainforest enclosure – the kids loved being near enough to be able to touch them, and we all wanted to take one home!


We went to the elephant talk and learned about Kate – it’s good to hear that she’s getting a new enclosure and some new friends this summer. Although looking at her routine I’m thinking of booking myself a break at the elephant enclosure – she gets more pampering that I do!

The best show of the day was the sea lion display – they were amazing!


We saw the tiger and lion being fed, I always forget just how big those big cats are – the robin sitting in the tiger enclosure was much braver than me!


With two coeliac children I often have to take food in case we don’t find anything gluten free, and the only review I had seen said that there was very little choice. We found there were several options available, including chips, jacket potatoes and curry & rice. Lots of reviews also said the food was poor and expensive but we paid £23 for 4 hot meals and drinks which I though was reasonable and I was pleasantly surprised by the food.

Yes the zoo needs a lick of pain in a few places and it isn’t as big as other places like Chester Zoo, but it was a good family day out that we all enjoyed and we will definitely go back in the future.

(For the record this is not in any way an affiliate post – just our experience of a day out)