Thursday, 17 September 2009

Tour of Britain Cycle Race

Today's leg of the Tour of Britain Cycle Race started in Frome, Somerset. A nice bright morning, the town centre and roads along the route were crowded with spectators. Here are a couple of the photos I took.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Throckmorton Coat

We paid a visit to Coughton, (pronounced Coat-un) Court (owned by the National Trust) , while we were on holiday in Shropshire last week.

This is the home of the Throckmorton Coat, made (as the result of a wager) from wool shorn, spun, dyed, woven and sewn all between sunrise and sunset on 25th June 1811.

Coughton Court has been in the Throckmorton family since 1409 when John de Throckmorton married into the de Spiney family. Home to one of the UK's oldest Catholic families, this house has witnessed defining moments in British history, from the court of Henry VIII to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Bank Holiday in the Lake District

Striding Edge, Helvellyn (photo from Wikipedia)

We went up to the Lake District over the Bank Holiday weekend because our son and 12 year-old granddaughter were going on a camping and walking trip from Glenridding to the top of Helvellyn. Our granddaughter had never been camping before, nor done a walk longer than a couple of hours or so, so it was all a great adventure.

I am very glad that I did no research into their route, because in the photo above, along the ridge, is the path to the top!!

Rather than camping, our daughter-in-law, Chris and I found a comfortable B & B in Keswick, and the three of us spent a pleasant Sunday ambling round the lakes and visiting Windermere while they were walking.
The day started off quite well weather-wise, but by mid-day the mist was coming in and the rain started to fall again. We all met up in the Inn-by-the-Lake in Glenridding at the end of their walk. Unfortunately there was no hot food available late on a Sunday afternoon, so we made do with lots of hot coffee and sandwiches. Simon was pretty tired, but Kay was quite keen to go for a walk with her Grandad in the evening!! She told me that she didn't know that she was scared of heights until she was doing that path accross the ridge. We think she did amazingly well.

On Bank Holiday Monday we had said we would take a Boat Trip around Ullswater. This was the view from the window of the boat. It had been blowing a gale and pouring with rain all night. Kay slept through it, but Simon got soaked packing up the tent and spent the first hour of the boat trip hanging over the heater trying to warm up.

We were all dressed for the weather and spent an exhilarating time on deck towards the end of the two and a half hour trip with tourists from all over the world.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Pilling the Cat

Mitzi, about seven years ago

We have just been cat sitting for our daughter-in-law, which as well as feeding the two cats and keeping them company meant pilling the older cat, Mitzi, twice a day.

I have to admit being a trifle nervous about this to start with, and had looked up opinion via Google. Definitely not encouraging, although there were some humourous anecdotes to jolly us along.

In her youth Mitzi had not been the calmest of cats, and a tickling session could suddenly result in a scratch or nip so she surprised me by taking her pills, for a thyroid problem, in a resigned and laid back manner. I suppose she has become used to it, and knows that to get food this indignity has to be borne, although on the next to last morning she clamped her teeth together like a small child refusing his breakfast and a little more persuasion had to be used, twice, as she spat it out the first time. has some lovely little clips about life with a cat.

Friday, 19 June 2009


Every spring I struggle to tie up the hyacinths and it always spoils how they look. In fact it makes them look ugly. Then this spring I thought.... why fight nature? Let gravity do it's worst and hey presto! The hyacinths looked like this - elegant and ravishing! So listen up all you female senoir citizens! Gravity is nature's way of saying... that's how you're meant to be and you are GORGEOUS!

All Things White and Beautiful

My garden at night under a blanket of freshly falling snow. I couldn't go to bed for gazing at it's beauty - every twig and tiny ledge accentuating the garden's architecture.

Snowdrops in my garden early in the year - exquisite! A surge of life and hope from the death of winter; the Master Gardener at work.

Roses from my husband for St. Valentine's Day - ever the romantic at 71!

These are no ordinary cupcakes! These are ANGELA'S cupcakes - mixed and baked by Angela, in Angela's kitchen. ( read in sexy voice!) Thankyou Angela for an idyllic morning.

I should have published this blog in February but my life was taken up with the difficult journey of a very special human being and dear friend Jan. I dedicate it to her memory - she had SUCH a ZEST for life in all it's richness, it's joys and sorrows, it's beauty, humour and ultimate mystery.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Domino Knitting

This is my first attempt at Domino Knitting, very simple to do, but doesn't look it! My friend Joan heard about it first, and showed me how it was done, then lent me a little book by Vivian Hoxbro. My sample piece would look a lot better if I had pressed it, but I think I might felt it before possibly making it into a cushion cover.

I had to get my own copy of the book of course, it is very well written, and contains instructions for several projects.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Clever Girl

I was doing a bit of half-hearted tidying up a couple of days ago and came across a scrapbook of photos of past projects.

This one of a rather reluctant Sharon was taken by me in 1994, because she had just finished knitting this doll for her young son, who desperately wanted one. They were all the rage at the time and I think there were several different characters.

But what was truly amazing was that Sharon had never knitted before, and still says she can't knit. All for love, says Sharon, her child wanted one and that was the only way of getting it for him.

Below are a couple of cupcake pins, which I am lucky enough to have, one for me and one for my granddaughter, also made by Sharon. Utterly delicious. If you want one for yourself she has a contact e-mail address on her embryonic web site

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Dementia and Snowdrops

When the snow had melted we found that the snowdrops had come into flower. Florrie, an elderly friend, a true country woman, now long dead, called these 'God's Innocent Children' which is a bit tear-jerking but somehow so very apt.

The photo has absolutely nothing to do with the article which follows, from today's Telegraph, which, as I keep thinking my memory is failing, cheered me up.

Quilting, pottery and computer games 'may cut risk of dementia'

Taking up hobbies such as quilting, pottery and even playing computer games in later life may substantially cut the risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

Crafts and other activities which exercise the brain, including reading novels and computer games, can all have a protective effect on the mind and help prevent memory loss, the study shows.
By contrast, watching television for hours on end significantly increased the chance of suffering problems, the research found.
Previous studies have shown that those with mentally demanding jobs and high levels of education were less likely to suffer the memory problems associated with the condition.
Researchers found that those with stimulating occupations were less at risk, even when they had physical damage to their brain cells.
The latest research will be seen as further proof that so-called "brain training" machines, such as the Nintendo DS advertised by Nicole Kidman, can help to delay brain decline.
Those who kept mentally active in their middle age, through reading, arts and crafts and other pursuits, were about 40 percent less likely to develop memory loss than those who did not.
The scientists found that those who kept mentally active in later years cut their chance of developing memory loss by between 30 and 50 per cent.
But volunteers who watched television programmes for more than seven hours a day in later years were also 50 per cent more likely to have memory problems than those who spent less than seven hours a day in front of the box.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Chasing Rainbows

When I decided to post this picture I thought I would accompany it with a line or two about rainbows from some romantic poem or other. For a country that has a lot of rain there seems to be a singular dearth of positive thoughts about rainbows. It's all about chasing rainbows, rainbow's end, somewhere over the rainbow!

This was the most distinct rainbow photo I have ever taken, and it seemed to end in the field below us. I didn't rush out to look for the pot of gold, maybe I should have done, but the sheer delight of it appearing to be so close was it's own reward.

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Sling Bag

Browsing around on the web a few days ago I found a picture of a sling bag, made from an Amy Butler pattern. I couldn't find a local stockist of this particular pattern, ( not even at Get Knitted, who stock a range of Amy Butler products) evidently it has been out for a while, so I made a sort of look-alike for myself. Not quite the same, I may have another attempt, but I am still pleased with it.

Because of the regular snowfalls we are getting I have spent a lot of time sewing, as well as baking and eating!! A couple of UFOs have even been completed.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Diddy's Quilt

Some quilters give their quilts /work of art a name. I don't but this quilt is an exception- it should be called 'Lucky' - third time lucky! The piecing has been completed and redesigned three times and has been a real learning curve for me. Why? THE COLOUR PURPLE!! After finishing my third quilt I felt I could call myself a quilter and decided that I would do one for my schoolfriend of fifty years. I forgot momentarily after announcing this to her, that she taught A level textiles among other things! However she was delighted but had to wait a few years! She said she wanted pinks and purples in Ohio star (which she seen on one I had done). In excited anticipation we chose some gorgeous fabrics together which I added to over time,and meanwhile busied myself making a cream quilt for my daughter and her husband.
Then three years ago I started - with the Ohio star and fabrics as planned. When the blocks were assembled, it was alright, in fact quite nice -- but that is all. It did not have the WOW factor that I wanted. Remember this was going to be a gift for my dear school friend. SO - I took it all to pieces and started again. I tried larger blocks using pinwheel and abandoned some of the pinks, thinking that that was the problem but as I worked I had my doubts and wondered why. When it was finished I looked at it with utter depression because that was the effect of the fabrics. I would not have liked either to sleep under it or see it in the morning. How was I going to make a pink and purple quilt for Diddy that I actually liked? Answer - call a quilting friend! My mistake was to choose very beautiful COLD tones instead of warm. The fabrics were re-sorted and many abandoned. Then taking one warm purple fabric, I went back to the fabric shop and started again.
This time the fabrics felt right but I didn't know what design to sew. I decided on two blocks of all the ones I'd never tried - eighteen pairs altogether. My friend likes symmetry and I like random so I went for a compromise - several different blocks and an a-symmetrical design.The overall link was one particular fabric in every block. My family were very interested, supportive and encouraging - it became a family enterprise! I loved sewing new blocks and when all thirty-six were completed I laid them out on the dining room floor and started to arrange them. They were swapped around many times over the next week until I had created the design. It was amazing how this came about really. My husband said the quilt was exotic and I knew I thought so too. This was what I had had in my mind's eye in the first place - a quilt that looked jewelled. I sashed them together with a mauve batik looking fabric. I added a half inch dark purple border inside the outside sashing, which framed it and finished off with an inch of the dark purple for the edge.The giving of this quilt just before Christmas was very special for me. To create and make something entirely original , that you really love,and then give it away to someone special---that makes it all worth the effort! My school friend loves it. In fact I can hear her saying ''Imie! I LOVE it!''