Thursday, 31 July 2014

A day out

I was not required for Granny duties in Cambridge on Tuesday as the family have gone on holiday, so very early in the morning I set off for Gloucester.  Why, you may ask?

My 'Cambridge' son and daughter in law have asked me to make them a king size bed quilt in time for next winter, so having got some ideas of the colours and having agreed to the pattern I wanted to make, I decided to go to the fabric supplier rather than try and purchase over the Internet, as I still like to see and handle the fabric.  There was a second reason; my late husband and I lived in Gloucestershire for 11 years before moving just over the border into South Wales, in all a total of 25 years, so it always feels that I am going home.  I always travel through the Cotswolds to get there and the countryside was looking particularly lovely and the sun shone all day.

I arrived above Gloucester, at Birdlip, and decided I had take a photo to show you the view of the city and the River Severn, though it doesn't do it justice as I could see the Cathedral in the middle of the landscape and May Hill on the horizon.

I drove down the hill to Oakshott Fabrics on Gloucester Business Park, who were very welcoming and simply couldn't do enough for me, including providing me with a drink of water after a very thirsty drive!! I knew the size of the quilt and I took the pattern with me, but I am clueless about how much fabric I should use to make it; however they sorted me out with the colours and I also bought a couple of extra packs as well, as quilters do!  The fabrics are 100% cotton, made in India, using different weft and warp threads that give a shot silk like quality to the fabric.  My photos do not do justice to these fabrics.   I am not sure what to make with the striped fabric, but inspiration will come no doubt.
Can't wait to get going!!
The designer even walked me to my car.  What service and thanks for your help!!  Oakshotts will share a stand at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in August and were busy getting ready for the show.

My next stop was in Hereford, but before I went shopping I popped into the Cathedral to see the Mappa Mundi, the Chained Library and the Magna Carta.  I have been to the town before but never visited this lovely Cathedral, so I looked round, listened to an organ recital taking place and had lunch in their cafe.

Next stop was Doughty's, which has three shops all very close to each other - their wool shop (which I resisted!) but did buy some buttons, their dress fabric shop (I bought some iron-on vilene) and finally their patchwork shop.  I bought wadding (batting) and the backing for the new bed quilt and here again they were getting ready for the Festival of Quilts.  But even though they were busy, they too, were very helpful. 

I felt very tired, but triumphant, when I eventually got home after a 3.5 hour drive.  So now let me get down to some sewing.

Monday, 28 July 2014


Some years ago I came upon an article in a local paper about an adventure club in my area, so I cut it out and thought about joining.

This had all come about because in 2005 I was in the office one day and a colleague, A, said that she was doing a parachute jump for charity, but had been let down by our Chief Executive who was going to do it with her.  I said "I will come and do it with you!"..  What had I said and what had I let myself in for?  My big mouth!!!  Well, it took over my life for a couple of months as we raised funds for our charity and after a medical to say I was sound in wind and limb (if not in mind) the day arrived in January 2006.  It was cold and a little foggy and we had to wait for the fog to lift, but our time was taken up with briefings and getting into our suits and harnesses.  A went first and I could here her shrieking with laughter as she came down and she thoroughly enjoyed herself.  Then it was my turn and surprisingly, I was not the least bit nervous.  My expert was strapped very tightly behind me and pushed me out of the plane.
 We freefalled for a few seconds (it seemed like minutes) and then the parachute opened and down we floated.
 Being taller than my expert I landed first, tried to take the weight of us both but my legs gave way and we became a heap on the ground, face down!!  However he got me turned over because A thought I was dead! 
We raised over £2,000 for charity and the adventure bug had bitten so I joined the 50+ Adventure Club and this has led to me doing some different activities that I had never done before. 

I went to the Lake District and did the Via Ferrata, which was by far the most frightening experience of my life as I was climbing a mountain face using thin ledges and giant staples, and when I looked down saw ant like cars below.  I am terrified of heights and though I was harnessed to a rope it was a struggle and I felt so elated when I had finished.  BUT I was helped the whole way with encouragement and the occasional push, by other members of the club and that is what our club is all about; friendship and help for the slowest and least able.

Since then I have taken part in white water rafting, both at Bala, North Wales and the Olympic course at Lee Valley, Segway - 

sailing - 
quad biking, 
I have abseiled down cliffs, canoed the River Nene, been gliding and microlighting, done Go Ape three times, been orienteering, cycling on my own bike and a tandem, had numerous walks all over our county and beyond, had BBQs and played games and last weekend we went on our annual canal boat trip with our 50+ Adventure Club picnic and stop at a pub on the river bank.  A grand day out!!

Next weekend we are taking part in another activity which none of us have done before but more of that next week so watch this space.

"We are an environmentally friendly club made entirely of recycled teenagers"!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My Allotmen and loom band braceletst!!

It is a few days since I posted as I went to Kent to look after my little granddaughters (or did they look after me) whilst Mum and Dad went to a wedding.  It was to nice to see them again and we seemed to do a great deal.  I was shown by a 5 year old granddaughter how to make a loom band bracelet, on my fingers, using a hook and I was so pleased that I made one on my own; so something 'crafty' accomplished.  My one complaint about the weekend is having to go over the Dartford crossing - queuing for 50 minutes on the way South to get over the bridge and 30 minutes coming back through the tunnel; and you pay £2 each way for the privilege of all this waiting!! 

However Tuesday was my Cambridge day with Ellie, my granddaughter, and after our usual trip for coffee, juice and a shared bun it was back to get on with some gardening on 'my allotment'!!  Whilst having our refreshment a little girl at the next table was making a loom band bracelet and we got talking about them.  She very kindly gave me a hook so I can make more of these bracelets if I want or even a necklace.  I think I would lose the will to live doing a necklace as I do find them quite tedious, but they are the latest craze and even my 8 year old grandson is making them.

When my son first moved into the Cambridge house seven years ago, the garden was very overgrown and neglected, but he has transformed it and in the process found a very large area surrounded by concrete paths.  He decided to turn it into a vegetable plot and after leaving carpet down to suppress the weeds etc managed to get it into some order.  At this point I suggested that, as I hadn't managed to get an allotment near home, would he like me to help out in exchange for vegetables.  He leapt at this idea and so every week when I go there I dig, weed, sow and collect produce and have done so for over four years
May 2014
Freshly dug over but note all the covers on plants and seeds.  We fight a battle against the muntjac deer, squirrels and of course, pigeons!!  In the photo below you will see some of the seeds are in tubes, which are mainly from the centre of toilet rolls and kitchen paper all collected the previous  year.  Just fill with potting compost and then put straight into the ground and the roots aren't disturbed.
Seeds in the greenhouse - May 2014
Bu this is what it looks like now with all the seeds planted out.  What a difference a few months of rain and sun make!

Runner beans and a wigwam of climbing French beans
Sweet corn, still with protection because of the Muntjac!
Courgettes or zucchini.  Odd shaped one there.
I have come home with bags of potatoes, carrots, courgettes and runner and french beans. Yum yum!  Large dish of raspberries for all the family as well.  Worth all the work and my back which is a little stiff today.

Friday, 18 July 2014

A lot to do

Well, the box is finished and done (see previous post) and will shortly be filled with some useless pieces of cheap 'jewellery' but which I think are stunning and now I have a lot of other projects on the go!!

I saw this delightful alphabet panel and immediately wanted to make bunting from it so after putting on backing, wadding and some ric rac it is destined for my youngest little great nephew. Should be fun and it is the first on my list 'To Do'.

It is smocking class next week and I am still working on my sampler.  It went with me on my Northumberland break and I never did a stitch and so I have been sewing every night to catch up.  I am finding it quite hard as there is a lot of accuracy required and that is not my forte at all. However maybe J, our teacher, will not notice!!  Some hopes!

I MUST finish off all the loose ends on my embroidery and put some beads into the last row of drawn thread work, as I want to get it framed before we start back in September.  You will say "You have the whole of August", but time just seems to slip by and it is still waiting to be finished.

Finally, I leave you with a puzzle. I recently bought this, but what is it for??  The answer will be forthcoming in a week or two.

Oh, and after a stifling hot day we have just had a spectacular thunderstorm and it is now raining which has brought the temperature down.  Brilliant.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

At last - time for crafts!

These last few weeks have been particularly busy and so I am pleased to be able to find some 'me' time and sit down to make something.

Last week my Wednesday evening patchwork group had their monthly project session and we were making boxes.  I have to say that I love boxes and I have five of them with my 'jools' in them.  Now before any burglar hot foots it round to my house expecting to find anything of value I must disappoint them and say immediately that I have none and these are all my craft necklaces etc.  Some of them are made from fabric, some from beads, some from leather and all are nothing of value except my time!!

So having put off any potential burglary, now to box making.  The kit came from a new source and so I decided to start making mine before class and I also wanted some photos for my readers.  Just as well I did!
The Fabric Freedom fabric

First I read and re-read the instructions.  That is a first as I usually rush into things and then wonder how to make it.
These are the pieces for a two drawer 'cabinet'
The instructions said to line the drawer by gluing fabric in place. and gluing the outside fabric on with an overlap.  I have to say I ignored this and after a very light gluing, sewed my outer fabric to my lining with a small amount of wadding on the front.
All the lining glued in place, clothes pegs to assist sticking.

The drawers complete
Next I glued the drawer units together and added the back fabric with glue.
Clothes peg to give an indication of size.
Then I glued thin wadding to the top and sides and finally covered the drawer unit with fabric, stitching with ladder stitch front and back.
Button on the inside of the drawer
Nearly finished, but not an easy box to make and the instructions were poor.  I decided to make Dorset buttons for the drawer handle - and now to the tah  dah moment and a roll of drums please  ...........


Saturday, 12 July 2014

A centenary

A few years ago, in the days when I had a little time to spare, I was researching my family tree, like everyone is doing now!  

I know where I come from on my mother's side - some very thin blue blood there as it can be traced back to William the Conqueror, with many seventh son of seventh son.  Mother had traced all this back in the 1960s, long before the internet and that was what I call true research. I have since verified everything on the internet she had written down and found it fascinating.

But back to my father's side of the family.  There was nothing there so I had to start from scratch.  I am sure like a lot of people, I regretted bitterly that I had not obtained more information from Father when he was alive, but I was just not interested in my ancestors when I was younger.  I managed to get back to my great, great grandfather, who was William Hill, an organ builder in Camden Town in London.  I 'googled' his name!!  Well anyone living in the UK will know that this is a very well known name for betting and gaming and I gave up at this point.  I couldn't get past betting shops and putting on a bet!!

I listen to the radio, BBC Radio 4, all the time and though I don't always listen to everything I do hear the odd word.  It is on at the moment as I write this and I am listening to it with half an ear. Well, about 2 years ago, it was a Wednesday afternoon and I was baking a cake, I can still remember this vividly, when I heard the man on the radio mention "William Hill, the great organ builder ......".  I nearly dropped the mixing bowl, but I did sit down and listen to the remainder of the programme.

So with renewed vigour I carried on my research and this is what I found and even better here is a photo of the great man.
Great, great grandfather William Hill
William Hill organs were installed in cathedrals in Peterborough, Worcester, Ely, and York Minster, Westminster Abbey, Kings College Cambridge, Birmingham Town Hall among others and for my Australian readers in the Town Halls of Sydney and Melbourne and St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney.

I contacted the local organists society  and was amazed to receive a torrent of information about him and discover that there is a William Hill organ in a local church, St Marys, Wellingborough.  My brother and I were invited to the church and had a personal recital on the organ and were shown around.  We discovered that William's grandson, Dr Arthur Hill, had walked into the church to discuss the installation of the organ, exactly 100 years before we were there!!

So that is where I am going tonight, the organ's installation Centenary recital by Thomas Trotter, organist at Birmingham Town Hall.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bonjour le Tour (continued)

My apologies and only 2 days late, but it has taken me ages to get this photo (courtesy of itv Anglia.com) onto my web page, but at last I have managed it.  Very proud of my son and it only took him 2 hours to 'draw' it but more planning beforehand.