Sunday, 19 March 2017


I have had my Cambridge grandchildren for the weekend as Mum and Dad went to London for a catch up with friends.

Yesterday I took them Orienteering at Stanwick Lakes and after purchasing the 'pack' ,which included a compass though I doubt it is impossible to get lost, we set out to find the first post on the map provided

and noticed this wonderful gnarled Willow tree

before arriving at the Iron Age house, which was a hit because of the mud outside!
A little drafty to live here!

Onto the next posts

and feet were beginning to drag so refreshment was taken before we went onto the Adventure trail.

The zip wire is always a great hit and it has been upgraded lately and zips along beautifully and easily.

There were flocks of Canada Geese flying around and, more unusually, a great many swans.  I managed to get a quick shot in of these two flying over;  we knew they were coming because of the noise the wings make in flight.  One 'bevy' (swans in flight) had about 10 - 15 birds which I have never seen before.

Finally a quick paddle around the playground!!

Today was something quite different, but again at Stanwick Lakes.
Dr Who had arrived.  This Dalek was scary because it suddenly started to move when there was no-one around and it was 'exterminating' everyone!

The Tardis was there and then the Doctors arrived and the children helped at the control panel

However as soon as these arrived
The Scarecrows

Ellie freaked out and refused to stay and so we had to go.  Never mind they might come another day.

Mini Mania for March is complete though you are only going to get a sneaky peak -

The theme is Tessellations and we can only use three colours - blue, green and orange.

My Higham Piecemakers Christmas Challenge 2016 is also complete but I am not showing this until after our 'reveal' in April.  Just three projects left to complete and all timebound!!  Why do I put myself under such pressure?

Friday, 10 March 2017

A vegetable dish....?

A couple of updates in this blog.  First is my Mini Mania for February.  We were allowed to make anything so long as it wasn't any form of patchwork and no bigger than 8".  I decided on this as I made something similar at a workshop a few years ago

Do you remember a few weeks ago I wrote about pruning the fruit trees in the orchard.  Well, I heard on the grapevine (forgive the pun) that a wall had fallen down and whilst I was there today I checked and 'yes' it had and just where I had pruned my tree.
Before ..


From the other side
What caused it - we have no idea but it will cost a great deal to re-build!!  Were the trees holding it up.  By the way, one tree we did not prune was this one that was in flower today.
A Cherry Plum

Anyway, a quick catch up as I suddenly realised that I haven't blogged for a while. 

Last Friday I went to a Quilt Show at Duxford IWM with friends and we had a good day out.  Not a large show but some of the quilts gave me ideas as a little bird told me that Mini Mania in a few months might be 'Tumbling Blocks'.

Over to Cambridge for the weekend to look after two grandchildren whilst Mum and Dad ran a half marathon as practice for the London Marathon when they are both running.  So cold and it rained as well; still they both finished with reasonable times considering that my son had been out on a stag party the night before.  At the end of the night the 'Groom' and his 'Best Man' were each presented with an envelope which was their entry into this run!!  They turned up, ran and finished and the Best Man had never run a half marathon before!!  Well done them.

Tuesday was 'Will' day and we walked along the embankment in the sunshine

and were accosted by a rather rough looking man who worried me, but all he wanted to tell us was to go and look at this duck
A Mandarin duck

sitting with the Mallards.  So beautiful, but was he an escapee from somewhere?  The first time I have seen one in the wild and not caged or kept in a garden.

I love volunteering at Chester Farm and always come away feeling in a good mood.  This time I was 'litter picking' all the rubbish blown onto the site after the recent high winds of 'Storm Doris'.  The weather was glorious and I was happy being outside.  Our volunteer organiser discovered a huge badger sett and they had dug up some Roman pot pieces - 
Mostly Roman pot but something metal (top left)
The small pieces were lovely

and as our resident Archaeologist was on site he was summoned and told us that it was a piece from a Castor Box from the 5th century.  The Roman equivalent of a vegetable dish that was only used in Britain so they were trying to be 'posh' even in those days!  As these were found away from a proper 'dig' they were going into a general box of bits and pieces and I was asked if I would like a piece and that is my hand in the photo above with my own Roman remain.   I am thrilled and will use it when I am giving a guided walk of the site.

Monday, 27 February 2017

A very busy time

Have you ever had so much to do that you lie awake worrying about it wondering how you will get it all done?  I had one of those nights recently and woke up and decided I had to do them in chronological order of when they were due.  That is so sensible when you think about it; why have a sleepless night about it.

First of all I needed to go to the Chelveston Snowdrop Festival held a couple of weekends ago.  Why, because since I had my front garden dug up to park my car I needed some more Spring flowers and I believe snowdrops grow better if they are planted 'in the green'.  What a wonderful display it was and I bought some snowdrops and aconites and got them planted.
I think these were better than last year.
Lovely aconites

First job sorted from the sleepless night!!

Next - Will (who I look after on Tuesday) is going to be three in March and is having a 'big boy's bed'.  Well many years ago I bought two kits to make 'The Hungry Caterpillar' quilt.  I used one for a grandchild but the other was languishing in the cupboard, so I decided to make it for Will -

Second item done - why was I worrying!

Next a couple of small Linus quilts for Higham Piecemakers Linus Day.

The stripy fabric is from a 'ticking' sample book

Smaller one - side 1
Side 2

Mini mania needs to be made - done but cannot show it until tomorrow.

I have still got the Christmas Challenge to start (needed by Easter) and I have to make four items for Pyjama Fairies (needed by May) so the pressure is off and I can sleep better!!!

I have just been to a workshop 'Let your Overlocker (Serger) be your best friend' that I really enjoyed.  I bought mine last year

but I felt that I was only touching the surface of its uses and I was proved right.  Firstly I arrived early because we had to learn how to thread it from scratch which was a nightmare!  Now I feel more confident though I will still use the method suggested by friends, which is to join new threads to the old ones and pull them through.

We were provided with a variety of fabrics from thick woolly jumpers to lycra to have a go at overlocking and I learnt an awful lot and I want to try them out now on my own garments.

The lycra was most interesting as that can be used for swimwear and has stretch in it.  No sound of snapping threads when it was pulled just the gentle twang of the fabric, so theoretically I can now make my own swimming costume!!!!

So 'Fairy Thimble' is now back on track and is sleeping better with the pressure off.

PS - I haven't included any gardening which is now somewhat overdue!!!!

Friday, 17 February 2017


Fantastic day spent at Chester Farm where with other volunteers I learnt how to prune the apple and pear trees in the orchard.

However before I write about that I must mention some excitement I had on Monday whilst working at the Northamptonshire Records Office.   Once a month I have been going to 'Finds Marking' where everything that comes out of the ground at Chester Farm, whether it is bone or pottery has a reference minutely written onto it so if it falls out of its bag we will know where it belongs.  Also working at this time are the Records Office volunteers and one lady was working on these -
What beautiful handwriting

This is a Manorial Roll written in Latin covering an area in the County and dated 1610 during the reign of King James 1.  It is written on vellum and I asked if I could touch it, which I did.  So old and yet it could be read, if you understood Latin!!  So exciting.

Anyway, back to pruning

after a short talk we were let loose on the secateurs, loppers and little saws, plus an assortment of long saws and loppers.  If you follow this link you will see a chart of the trees and I decided to have a go at No 6, the Nouveau Poiteau. 

But before I started I had to remove the growth at the bottom
Apparently the original rootstock sprouting
So then I started clipping and chopping, aware that the leaflet we had been given said only to remove 25% of the tree if it has not been pruned for years, as I didn't want to send it into a terminal decline!! However once Adam (who was in charge) came along he really went to town on it and by the end this tree had been chopped back more than 25%!!!

Hardly any tree left!!
Meanwhile the other trees were also being similarly dealt with -
Tree 8
 Adam thought that the trees planted against the wall were originally espaliers, but had rather outgrown the wall!!
Trees 2, 3, and 4
Adam removing the top of No 4

.. and here it goes
The ladies watching him!!!

Tree 10 almost pruned

After lunch we wandered down the fields to see the Snowdrops in front of the house
A wonderful display

We saw progress being made on the Archaeological Resource Centre and some of the buildings in the background are being re-roofed.

I discovered that the bark stripping that I saw last week was probably done by rabbits

but it doesn't matter as this branch was sawn off.

My partner in this pruning exercise found a small skull
probably a rabbit

One illusion was shattered though;  if an old tree is covered in lichen it is not good for it and will probably kill it.  I thought that this was good!  So lesson learnt is always try to remove the lichen covered branches so the tree will survive.

A great day out with lovely Spring sunshine and lessons learnt.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Out and about

The weather seems to be improving slightly, though I would welcome a little more sun!  There are bulbs coming up in the garden and I have slight stirrings that I should be outside and tidying up ready for Spring, which is just round the corner.

Monday morning is Nordic walking and when the group met it was very frosty and cold, but I only had a short sleeve T-shirt under my light jacket because I know I will get very warm as we do set a fast pace.  The sun came out so I decided to take some photos that I found interesting.  As we got nearer to one of the Irthlingborough lakes I thought there was a different breed of bird, but we realised that they were Coots who were fluffed up and appeared to be either flirting or fighting and we weren't sure which!!
Four of them

We carried on as we had come especially to see the bridge that is being renovated to link Irthlingborough as part of the Rushden Lakes development
Not this one, but maybe?
This is looking better but we still couldn't cross

The brisk pace had slowed considerably as the paths were very, very muddy and sticky but the weather was bright

and having decided, that from a distance, this was NOT a plastic bag we stopped to have a look
Little egret

Yesterday after a drizzly start the weather in Bedford was wonderful so Will and I went walking down by the river (Ouse).  We climbed the Castle Mound,

and Will had a run round at the top.

Meanwhile I was reading historical plaques

...  and another 12  follow on telling the story
Back on the Embankment, Will loves the mosaic
An invading horde entering the town!!
 The Vikings invaded up the river

Bedford Castle
and Bedford Castle eventually declined.

It was lovely to be out in the fairly warm sunshine, but I am not sure it will last as it gets colder towards the weekend. Roll on summer.