Saturday, 3 June 2017

A bit of this and a bit of that!

Towards the end of May the 50+ Adventure Club had an outing to Sywell Aviation Museum as we do take part in some cultural visits!  What a lovely evening it was and though it is only about 10 miles from home I have never visited the site, though I have passed it many times in the car.  The Aviator Hotel, where we met was built in the 1930s in the Art Deco style which is one of my favourites.

We went through the hotel to reach the Museum which is housed in a series of Nissen Huts and I got the impression that they just add more (if they can find them) as the museum expands.
The Hawker Hunter

After looking round the museum we were particularly thirsty as it was a very hot evening and so we sat outside the hotel having a drink and watching various small planes landing and taking off.  We saw this powered parachute take off and flyaway and then it flew back, turned off the engine and floated down with a text book landing.
It reminded me of my own, but tandem, parachute jump that I did in January 2006 on an intensely cold and frosty morning.
Head first out of the plane

Sky diving
Parachute open - phew!!
Gently down

Note that my legs are longer than his and this was the result -
a heap on the ground
But I was soon up and getting a hug from him
Left to right - my friend arriving and the other parachutist who took the photos

My friend (who had already done her jump) and I raised a huge amount of money for charity.

Once again another day of 'Potwashing' for the Chester Farm project and because it was a lovely sunny day we were able to put the cleaned items outside to dry.  You will notice that we use egg trays because this helps with draining the wet items.
Could these be a 'Jawbone of an Ass'?!!

This tray is interesting because it shows the bag it came in underneath and this has a code on it that will correspond to a location on the site map.  The tray has oyster shells that may have been both seawater and freshwater and there is also a piece of charcoal.

Here is another interesting 'find'.  Top left (the very dark bone) is a piece of bone that is blackened round the edges indicating that it had been cooked over a fire and then it may have been gnawed.  The middles part is still quite wet from washing hence the darker colour in the middle.

A Roman 'pie dish' but turn it over and there was this lovely pie crust edging underneath

clearly blackened from cooking.  Finally a piece of glazed Medieval pot that had a beautiful lustre to it.

In July I am leading a 'box making' project for Higham Piecemakers so yesterday friend L and I set out early for Hertford to look at what Pinflair had to offer.  We went via the A1M and I had just mentioned that this was a good road with little traffic and few hold ups when we stopped in a traffic jam.  After consulting our phones we could see there was a accident and after a short wait we carried on.  At this point I was talking so much that I missed my turn off and suddenly we stopped again.  This time it was engines off, windows and doors open and drivers wandering around.  It was about 10.30am and our phones said the accident would clear by 3.00pm!!!  I have to say that L was a steadying influence because on my own I would have been very impatient and angry as I hate queues of traffic.  Luckily after about an hour we started off very slowly past an accident on our side of the road and another fatality on the other side of the dual carriageway.  So sad for the family of the motor cyclist who had been killed.

We reached Hertford and did our business at Pinflair and walked a short distance into the town centre where we had lunch and afterwards admired this town house
The Old Verger's House built in 1450

Thank goodness for Blue Plaques!

While we were having lunch in the café garden a huge iridescent insect flew by and settled in the box hedging and I managed to grab a picture of it.
Head down I think

It was much more iridescent than this shows and I have no idea what species of bug it is.  Any answers will be considered!!

Well our Mini Manias for May were revealed.  I showed a sneaky peek in the last blog but here is the finished article.
Tumbling blocks

The blocks were pieced over papers but once finished I used Invisible Machine Applique learnt at a Dawn Cameron Dick workshop and a technique that I love working with.

This months theme is strips, either 1 ½" or 2", with a minimum of 4 in a block.  I am getting some ideas just must find time to put them into practice.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Manic May!

Following on from my last post I can now say that everything is back to normal.  My insurance companies have paid out for the handbag and it's contents  and the car insurance has got the car locks changed.  I have bought a key safe for outdoors and am waiting for it to be fitted, so all is good now.

In the meantime life has gone on as usual and so busy.  On the craft side I have one or two WIPs (Works in Progress) and some finished items.
April Mini Mania

As you probably guess, this was triangles and I enjoyed making this.  For May it is 'Tumbling Blocks' to be pieced over papers and definitely not my favourite method of sewing.  I like using the sewing machine for everything.  Hand sewing is tedious but I must obey!!
Sneaky peak WIP

At Higham Piecemakers group Diana Turner came along and showed us some stumpwork, a very old technique.  Once again mine is a WIP

but I will finish her.  I did finish my Bobble Bag, a very useful little bag at about 6" in height.

For those who follow Attic24 I am crocheting her Moorland blanket, though I have now slowed down on this because I am currently knitting a cardigan and keep the Moorland Blanket for crochet group, so another WIP!!

Yesterday I went to 'Pot Washing' for Chester Farm.  There has been a great deal of archaeological digging there, keeping ahead of the building contractors and though most of the washing was of pieces of Roman pot there were one or two interesting finds.
A Victorian halfpenny
Trying to put a Roman pot together

I had this to wash -
Very heavy

a large stone held in the hand and used as a hammer.  Not sure what date.
A beautifully detailed piece of Roman Samian ware
Note the small hole on the right hand corner; we were told this had been repaired at some time, perhaps when in use.

Finally, my sister in law phoned yesterday afternoon and asked me if I wanted to go to the theatre in Oundle last night.  Her two granddaughters go to Oundle School and the younger one was in Wind in the Willows at the Stahl Theatre, put on by her class group.  I accepted very quickly and really enjoyed this very professional production and my unexpected evening out.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Very highs and very lows

For the 'very highs' I was away for a walking weekend with the 50+ Adventure Club and sharing a flat with six other ladies.  We set off in two cars and on the way met up with some of the group for a bluebell walk at West Woods, Marlborough.  It was glorious -

a beech wood with sun dappled shade and then out onto the glorious downs for a further short walk with views!

It was a companionable 4.5 mile walk with friends.

Saturday saw us up bright and early for the next walk and we assembled at Avebury and it's stone circles and set off uphill on a colder and windier day than yesterday.  Up we climbed crossing the Ridgeway en route for the top of the Downs.  We stopped for lunch amongst the gorse bushes and some very conveniently placed large stones to sit on.  At our age we are not too good at sitting on the ground!!!!  Suddenly we saw this,

a mass exodus of the ladies heading for their own gorse bush - I leave your imaginations to wonder what this was about!  Suffice to say the men and the remaining ladies fell about in hysterics of laughter!

We crossed the Ridgeway again
Look under the left hand pointer and see the runners

and passed runners of all ages going up the hill as we came down back again into Avebury.  A cup of tea revived us after this 7.5 mile walk.  I took these photos of some stones just to prove I had been there but the stone circles here are numerous.

That night we all met up for a meal.

Sunday morning was much better weather wise as it was less windy and sunny and we all met together at Barbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort, 2,500 years old.  The castle is on a hill which meant we started off downhill for a change and the views were brilliant on a much clearer day.  There are a number of horse racing training stables in this area and there were 'gallops' on both our walks, but the most interesting feature was a racecourse hidden away in a valley below us

At the top of the triangle, where the bushes are it is open which is not clear on the photo and down the left hand side are hurdles for training the 'jumpers'.

We crossed the Ridgeway again

and headed down the bridleway for a lunch stop and the last push back up to the car park.  What goes down has to come up again and this was steep!

This photo doesn't really show what a short, but steep climb it was, but back in the car park we found an ice cream van which was oh so welcome after our 4 mile walk.  After a short walk to see the 'castle hill fort' itself we headed home.

Now to the 'very lows'.  After the bluebell walk on Friday we got back to the cars to find the back window of one of our cars smashed and my handbag, which had been covered, had been stolen.  Luckily I had my purse and credit cards with me.  Everything else gone - ipod, ipad - a Christmas present from sons, car key(no spare it was in the handbag) and house keys had gone, and my lovely Italian handbag that I had bought in Florence last November!  I discovered my mobile in my rucksack on Saturday night - thank goodness.  The police attended but I have had a very stressful few days sorting everything out.

However my group were absolutely brilliant and my six flatmates best of all through this and provided mobiles when I thought I did not have mine.  We also had a stress busting meal in an Italian restaurant on Friday night when copious wine was drunk!  It helped no end!!  Thank goodness for good friends who get you through the tough times and I know in a few months we will all be laughing about it and remembering the raucous Friday evening meal!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Will and I go on some trips

Over the Easter break I still looked after Will on a Tuesday, but our little playgroup that we normally go to in the morning was closed so I had to think of other things to do.  My first ideas are always to go to Stanwick Lakes as the Adventure Playground is such fun and they have some wonderful water features for the children to play in. 
He insisted on coming down on his tummy

Yesterday, though sunny, had a bitterly cold North wind, but we went to Castle Ashby.  I had heard that it had a menagerie and a children's playground so off we went and arrived at about the same time as a coachload of schoolchildren!  Anyway we walked though the gardens -
Cricket pavilion and ground in front of ....
the house

Will on the stone seat
The Orangery
The Mulberry Tree

We walked towards the Menagerie singing "Round and round the Mulberry bush" though I couldn't remember any of the words and this bush is about 200 years old!!

We arrived at the animals at the same time as the coachload of children so were a little pushed about as they all wanted to 'stroke' the large 19 year old tortoise.  We enjoyed the meerkats -

the Kunekune pigs
There were three

the marmosets, pygmy goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and assorted birds.  Oh, and a chicken which was causing the children some worry as it had got into the pig enclosure and looked as if it might get squashed by them playing and racing round and round!! 

Time for lunch and after that the playground.  Will loved this caterpillar and spent a long time playing on it -

probably because the schoolchildren had finished their picnic lunch and had taken over the playground and the caterpillar was too babyish.  A fun day out near to home.

Recently I went over to Cambridge to work on the kitchen garden.  I haven't done much since last summer because my son has redesigned this area and though very much a 'Work In Progress' it is coming on.

There will be three raised beds with plenty of room to walk between them.  The first has the root crops - potatoes, carrots and beetroot, the second nearly finished will be courgettes (Zucchini)  and giant pumpkins grown especially for Halloween.  The third is still to be worked on and should be Runner and French beans with sweetcorn.  I am growing all these items in my greenhouse and I hope the beds will be ready before they are!!  We could still have a frost at night if this bitterly cold weather is anything to go by.

I have still been doing various volunteering projects at Chester Farm, including leading guided tours, finds marking and land clearance.  However I did go to a very useful update meeting and learnt about the single skeleton found during a recent excavation around the farm buildings.  The volunteers found two pots

and in the late afternoon another piece of pot that they decided to leave until the next day.  Next day it was discovered that it was a skull, and immediately under the terms of their contract, the contractors closed the site and called the police as they thought it might be a murder!!  However once the police were advised that this was Roman they lost interest and work carried on on this teenage Roman girl.  She was buried with  broken bracelet (please excuse the quality of the photos as these items were in boxes and I didn't want to touch them)
Broken bracelet from a teenage female skeleton

The following items were also shown to us
Roman buckle (I think!)


Roman glass (what a lovely sheen)

Roman needle

Samian ware with a maker's mark