Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Clearing the Camera

Well, it's been quite a while since my last post and, to be honest, not a lot has gone on around these parts. We have a holiday looming, however, so I thought I'd take a quick half hour and clear my camera. It's a bit of a random mix, but contains things that, if I didn't get them down here, I would forget all about by the end of the year, so I hope you'll humour me.
The weather has been a mix of glorious sunshine and 'you call this summer?'! I've transplanted all my veggies into the veggie patch, but on going down to see the chickens the other week, I spotted a fawn behind our stockade to keep the deer out. I may as well just bang a dinner gong and be done with it.
Other wildlife spotted in the garden:
I really need more squirrel proof bird feeders:
  Fergus on the picnic table:
A trip with R to the cinema to see Tom Stoppard's 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead'. It was, apparently, the play that made Stoppard's name. The acting was very good, but personally, I didn't enjoy it that much. It was one of those where the first half seemed to go on forever and we were beginning to worry that there wasn't an interval and we were in it for the long haul. The interval picnic was very nice though :)
I managed a trip to Exeter to see my friend, S. I decided to go by train, rather than drive and thoroughly enjoyed it. As I booked my ticket early, it was probably cheaper than the amount I would have spent on petrol (which isn't always the case!) and I got to knit, read my book and gaze out of the window at the passing scenery.
 We had a wander round the shops, enjoyed the cathedral .........
....... and found a nice veggie cafe for lunch:
 
We ended the afternoon with a trip to a little artsy cinema to see 'Frantz' - a black and white film about the war with English subtitles. Apparently, it bloomed into colour at 2 important moments - both of which were entirely lost on me. I was convinced I'd just watched a totally black and white film! It was very good though.

A few shots of the garden: 




 A gratuitous shot of my homemade Japanese miso soup:
Lunch with E in Bristol. Her exams have finished, but she was staying on for a few days to vote and to make the most of her lovely accommodation. I drove up for the day and we enjoyed cocktails, a sharing platter and pasta at Zizzi's.
 

That's all. Sorry for such a boring post but this wee place acts as my diary and I like to remember things that I know won't be that interesting to others. One more thing  - just as I was back into my running, I have put my back out again. There I was yesterday in all my running gear, ready to go and I twisted round to reach a kitchen drawer. I'm not too bad once I'm up and moving but I keep getting stuck in chairs and can't bend down at all - getting dressed this morning was fun! I'm hoping that it improves soon, otherwise the impending sailing holiday may be a bit of a challenge! Enjoy the rest of the week.

Toodle Pip for now. x

Friday, 12 May 2017

Adventures in Moominland

What Ho, Old Beans! Did you all enjoy the thunderstorm and much needed rain last night? I do love a good storm. My mother was terrified and used to hide in the cupboard under the stairs, where she couldn't see the lightning and the thunder was more muffled. It apparently reminded her of bombs during the war. My father, determined that I shouldn't inherit her fear, used to make me a hot drink and we would sit at the window watching it all. I think I love them so much now because I associate them with that sense of cosy. Anyway, the garden was desperate for some rain and it smells beautiful this morning; all fresh and green.
I've had quite a busy couple of weeks. I finished a number of wips that I had on the go, had a trip to London, did a stained glass workshop and decorated the kitchen. Actually, it's not quite finished yet - I still need to paint the cupboards, but I'm giving myself a break over the weekend before I start those. 
Here are some photos that I took along the way:

My trip to London was to see the 'Adventures in Moominland' exhibition at the Southbank Centre. I'd had my eye on this for a while. but tickets at a convenient time were hard to come by and I wanted to go during term time as I thought that there would be fewer children. I arrived about half an hour early and sat down for a little bit of sock knitting whilst I waited. Just then, hundreds of children arrived, all wearing little yellow reflective jackets. They were from several different schools and the din was making my ears bleed. I was kicking myself for not even thinking of school trips and was wondering whether to abandon the idea entirely, being too embarrassed to go as a lone adult. In the end, I plucked up my courage and, at my appointed time, went to the meeting place. What a relief - the children were apparently there for a concert at the Royal Festival Hall and, of the 11 of us booked for the Moomins, 9 were adults and 2 were toddlers.
The exhibition itself was great fun. We entered through a giant book and then all channeled our inner child as we sat in tents, walked through 'forests' and explored the Moomin house and Tove Janson's studio, all the while being accompanied by a guide and an audio description by Sandi Toksvig. Some of the exhibits were on loan from a museum in Finland and included many original illustrations and Tove's paint palette. It was a fun hour and it seemed strange when we finally emerged back onto the South Bank.
 I may have bought a souvenir tote bag to remember the occasion! It's currently housing my 'Cosy Memories Blanket' - I think Moominmamma would approve.
 Other happenings this week:
We have been seeing lots of deer back in the garden. There is a baby one too, but every time he/she is there pronking around, my camera isn't to hand. 
I finished my 'Hermione's Everyday Socks'. These seemed to take me quite a while and, to be honest, I wasn't really feeling the joy. I've come to the conclusion that I'm a bit boring when it comes to sock knitting: as far as I'm concerned, you can keep your fancy patterns, I just love a nice, plain old vanilla sock.
 I also finished my 'Random Acts of Colour Shawl':
........ and my hat for running on cold mornings. The yarn is 'Mrs. Tiggywinkle' by Elm Tree yarns. The black flecks are supposed to represent her spines.
 We are currently having an 'Open Studios' month, where local artists open their work spaces to visitors (Is this a national thing or just in our area?). Several are running free/cheap workshops, and I had signed up for a stained glass day at a local village. Amanda who ran it has her studio on a farm. There were 6 of us and we took along lunch, saw some week old kittens, and spent a merry day copper foiling a suncatcher. Here are some photos of Amanda's studio:




....... and here is my finished star. Gosh,my windows need a good clean! 
I have done a bit of stained glass before. Once to make a panel for over our kitchen door (see photo below) and once when I took L on a post AS level treat. I'll post photos of our finished objects another time.
Finally, I've seen far too much of this over the past few days:
Why does it always seem to take far more coats than you think it will? As for masking tape - I spent ages masking everything, only to discover that the paint either seeped beneath it or it pulled the paint off during removal. Note to self - don't believe R when he says that the cheap sort will do! The colour is Farrow and Ball's Dix Blue and it actually looks a bit darker in the photo than in real life. As I say, the cupboards still need doing, but I'm psyching myself up for those. It is such a relief not to have to climb over all the kitchen paraphernalia which was dumped in the hall whilst I painted. I never realized before how many racks etc. we have, and the dirt! I'm ashamed of how filthy it all was. Not now though. For the moment anyway, it's all sparkly clean and fresh. 
Poor old Hamish, who usually sleeps in the kitchen, spent many a day in the garden and had to spend the night in the downstairs loo to allow the paint to dry without him moulting all over it! It was either that,or stay outside with the owls and the foxes. Talking of which, a fox wandered past our patio doors the other evening. I initially thought it was a cat and went to have a look. It paused in the hostas by the back door and stared at me thoughtfully, before sauntering off behind the shed. I called to R who immediately ran out to check the chickens. I hadn't even given them a thought, I was just mesmerized by how beautiful the fox was.
Anyway, I'm a little high on paint fumes, so I'll let you go. I'm off to get some fresh air and do a little post-rain weeding in the garden.
Toodle Pip for now. x 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Of Bluebells, Quilts and Purple Hair

Hello my lovelies. Let me apologize in advance for a rather photo heavy post; it's been about 3 weeks since my last one, so the pictures have accumulated somewhat. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. Both my babies were home for the holiday, so all felt right with the world. The roofer finally came (!) and I made a quilt out of multiple pairs of old jeans. I've been gathering them for a while: some were outgrown, some worn out and some oil or paint stained. I cut out 5 inch squares from where I could, reversing the worst to hide the stains, and spent a merry couple of days sewing them all together, backing them with red, starry fabric and doing some hand quilting. I admit that this was entirely an exercise in distraction - I didn't want to leave the house in case the roofers downed tools and disappeared, but their radio was driving me crazy, so I drowned it out with my sewing machine!



 
I also started to make scrappy quilt blocks out of some fabric that E bought me one year. I admit that I struggled a bit with these - if there is a shape equivalent of dyslexia, I'm convinced that I have it. I just cannot hold a shape in my head (jigsaw puzzles are a dead loss), so I'd cut out the triangles, line them up ....... and then sew the wrong edges together! Whichever way it could go wrong, it did and my unpicker was working overtime. I feel that this project may take me a while.
Sorry, I forgot to rotate the photo: 
 Other happenings over Easter:
Our wisteria flowered:
 Our own little Easter bunny enjoyed having L and E home again:


 We went for a walk to the castle and then back home through the woods to look for bluebells:



 The blossom finally arrived:



R bought a mig welder on ebay and we had to drive to St. Albans in Hertfordshire to collect it. I'd never been there before and it was a lovely place. We had lunch in the centre and then had a little wander round. The cathedral was beautiful.

 E decided that she wanted afternoon tea!
 My bulbs did turn out to be Narcissi: 
 I balled up some yarn to make the Pavement Sweater. The colour is called 'Lettuce'!
  R and I went to see Twelfth Night at our local cinema. It was a very gender fluid performance and we thoroughly enjoyed it. After last time's 'picnic of shame', I made sure that we were better prepared food and drink wise .........
.......... homemade veggie sushi, complete with chopsticks, dips and G&T in a tin (thanks for the tip Leanne!):
 .......... and L dyed her hair purple! It really suits her and who wouldn't want a purple-haired barrister?! 
Finally, after months of injury and being too scared to go running in case it flared up again, I plucked up the courage and went this morning. I went on my usual circuit which I used to do twice without any bother. This time I took it slowly: I did it once and stopped to walk 3 times. It wasn't pretty and it was rather frustrating when I think how easy it was a few months ago, but it was a glorious morning, I was out there and it felt wonderful.
Well, that's all for this week. Well done if you made it to the end! Wishing you all a fantastic week.

Toodle Pip for now. x