Saturday, 30 April 2016

Busy, busy, busy

Such a busy week that I am welcoming a free Bank Holiday weekend.

If you are a regular reader you will know I Nordic Walk every Monday morning, mostly come wind, rain, cold and sun.  We usually cover 4.5 - 7 miles depending where we go and what there is to see and last Monday was no exception.  We were going to see the 'cows' that have just been introduced into Irthlingborough Lakes to help with their conservation work.  We could see them in the distance and they were attracting a great deal of attention -
Isn't this just the most beautiful face!!!

because we don't normally see Highland cattle down in the Midlands.  So much hair and not very big but they are like cuddly bears.  We walked on admiring the blossom and the birds and unexpectedly came upon this bridge which has been cleared of undergrowth.
Is this the Bridge to Nowhere?

We are hoping that this will eventually become the path over the River Nene to the new Rushden Lakes development when cycling or walking.

Wednesday morning saw me back at Chester Farm as part of the welcoming party for local councillors who were going to be shown around.
Ready for special visitors and Portaloos!!!!
 What luxury - Portaloos and two of them.  As volunteers we had to walk all the way to the farm to 'spend our pennies'!!
We had some new 'finds', fresh out of the ground and unwashed, to show off -
Samian ware

I love the top piece of pot because we use stamps like this nowadays.  Look very carefully at the Samian ware because it is musician playing a double pipe.

Thursday I had been asked to pick the children up from school in Cambridge and whilst there I discovered my son, M, is running a 100 mile Ultramarathon  along the River Thames from Richmond in London to Oxford and taking up to 24 hours non-stop.  Quite frightening to me but as I write this they have 45 minutes until they start.  Good luck to them all.  M runs marathons every month and has run 12 marathons in 12 days but he stopped each night and got massage etc ready for the next day.  This is something else altogether.  Good luck and I am thinking of you.

I have managed to get some crafty things done this week -
I have completed this piece of crochet and blocked it.  I am finishing it off this weekend.

I decided at the beginning of the year that I would make different items for charity and I have already started making these for Wrap Pyjama Fairies-

but more about this in the next blog!!

Must go and finish my Mini Mania for April which has to be shown today but needs binding.  More about that in the next blog as well!!

Friday, 22 April 2016

10 days to go and counting ...

In the last post I mentioned pruning the apple trees at Chester Farm but we all turned up for instruction and the trainer didn't turn up.  He had forgotten!!  Well it has now been re-arranged.

A slight panic from me as I was relying on this lesson to write up for you here on the blog because I haven't done anything 'crafty' this week - too busy!!

However I was saved by the bell, so to speak by another session on land conservation today!
The 'Yellow Brick Road' from last week

Well this path has grown, with a new name -

.. and now winds through the wood that is on top of the old Roman walls.

I am not sure what these buds are going to be but I couldn't resist taking a picture.

The wood pile has gone -

but there is now a pile of wood chips that I helped to diminish.

Our organiser has now learnt to drive the tractor and she and I filled the trailer with more wood
and I went for a walk to see what else had been done
I think fairies live in this tree as it is so gnarled and there are little doors!

Wood piles for small mammals and insects 
and I found the badger sett but couldn't get closer and the public will not be allowed here -
The mound of earth in front denotes badgers
The reason for all this hard work by the volunteers is because Chester Farm opens to the public on 1 May! 

However yesterday I was bone washing and when I arrived (a little late) there were trays of bones drying in the sun, but I was surprised to see a long human femur.
This Roman was about 6' in height

I decided to wash this -
Top half of a horses head!!

It was extremely difficult because I couldn't get it into the bowl and eventually I washed it under the tap with a bowl below to catch the soil.  It was heavy!!
The underneath  

All the finds are recorded in bags - this is a 2014 find, 1030 is the map reference for the site map and then each part of the animal is recorded.  These are also animal bones but I don't know what, as the bones are quite chunky and thick.  Cattle perhaps.

I also washed human bones but after a heavy horse head, I had an infant; so sad.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Harmony ....

I have had a busy week with another 'Land Conservation' visit to Chester Farm but this time we were chipping the wood cleared on another occasion.
All protective gear being worn but not by me!

It was my job to remove all the chippings and lay them through the woods -
Follow the yellow brick road  ....!

to show the general public where to go.  The site is opening to the public from 1 May and though very basic at the moment, there will be improvements through the year.

Incidentally the slope that you can see in these two photos is where the Roman wall was.  It is a huge rabbit warren and they can dig down and cause all sorts of problems in the underground structure.

This same evening I returned with a group from the 50+ Adventure Club and we walked the grounds with the Archaeologist and the Senior Manager of the project and as usual I learnt more about this so very interesting site. 

Next Monday I am going on a fruit tree pruning course in the  Chester Farm orchard and there are some quite interesting trees planted by the Victorians.  While we were lunch some of the volunteers were talking about 'American Mother' and it took me a while to realise that this is one of the apple varieties in the orchard!!  Never heard of it before but I shall update you next week on this.

I wrote about starting my Harmony Blanket here and at last it is finished.
Remember all these squares

Obviously these are joined together in strips and the strips are joined and finally I crocheted a border and here is the 'ta dah' moment ....

wait for it ....

I was very interested to see that lines have developed

that I hadn't expected.

So what to crochet next?  Well I have some items to make, but have decided that as all my crochet to date has been done with double knitting wools and large hooks, I should have a go at something delicate and that is as much as I will tell you at the moment.

Oh and I have finished my Mountmellick embroidery and started another embroidery project, but I will show you all that another time.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Mini Mania for March

In my wisdom I set the Mini Mania for March and this was the brief -
"Something different for this month and it's all about numbers.

I love English history and this month's challenge is based on this and especially two dates that every school child in the UK should be aware of in 2016.

It is 950 years since the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and 350 years since the Great Fire of London in 1666 and so we will be working on these numbers only; 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9.

Your 'Mini' should be designed using numbers, using any medium, any technique, any shape, 3-D if you like, but there must be some sewing, either hand or machine or both and it must not be bigger than 20" (51cms) when finished."

This idea was based on some designing I had done years ago when I first started my patchwork and mentioned here.

I decided to make a sampler using different techniques for each number and after a great deal of head scratching, pencil sucking, erasing pictures, practising with silk painting and Markal sticks I came up with this -

 Each number is different either how I drew it or how I attached it to the fabric.

A few years ago I was very lucky to go on a workshop with Dawn Cameron Dick and her wonderful Invisible Machine Applique (IMA) that has three different methods of appliqueing and I used all three in this sampler.  By the way her Pocket Tutor is a must have for anyone who is not too sure what needle or thread to use for what project and my copy is always handy.

Here goes for each number -
Silk fabric painted using gold gutta and attached with IMA

The 6 and 9 are self explanatory and I used machine blanket stitch to attach them.  They were aligned first and the others added around them.
Markal pen brushed outside the shape and beads added to outline

Markal pen on the inside of the shape

Silk fabric painted and then salt thrown at it when it was wet.  IMA attached
I chickened out on this 2, as originally I was going to embroider over soluble fleece but in the end I used blue net and free-motion embroidery so it wouldn't all fall apart in water!!  It is free-motion attached to the background fabric.
This is my least favourite number as it is a variation on log cabin and is rather 'heavy'.

 Finally, this 2 is appliqued on using IMA again.

So there you have it and now to get on with the April Challenge which is Drunkards Path in plain fabrics,
and I have my shapes cut out!!

Actually I made a floor mat using this method but that will be written about at the end of the month.

PS: Update on the 'toadspawn' from the last blog - it is still there but no toad has slid down the pole!!  I will let you know when anything happens - if it does.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Easter and beyond

Easter Sunday went by very quickly and started with an Easter egg hunt.  Suddenly my grandson shouted "Granny, you have a frog and frogspawn in your watering can!"  I didn't see how that could have occurred as the said watering can just sits on the patio and collects a few inches of rainwater, but he was right and here are the photos to prove it!!

We decided that the 'frog' should be removed and as I lifted it out by the pond I realised that it was far too big and was actually a toad. It waddled off but the children were worried that it might want to stay with its spawn so this was erected -
to allow it to return done the pole!!  The toad spawn is still there and I am keeping an eye on it.
We went down to see the trains run at the station and saw the Easter Bunny Special -
and the children had their photos taken with him
while I admired this little train -
that was built for shunting and is not all that old.

We finished that afternoon with a visit to the park where it started to rain and there was a rainbow!

On Wednesday I drove down to see my 'Kent' family, even though I had seen them over the weekend as a special trip was planned.  Guess where we were going!!

Just a hint -

Typically, we were delayed 30 minutes
We were up very early on Thursday, followed by breakfast at the terminal and then through the tunnel to Calais, where we drove to Cité Europe and shopped for children's clothes and then dived into Carrefour for French bread, cheeses and wine!!!  What a great store it is.

By this time lunch was needed for all of us so we drove to Wissant and had delicious tartines (French open sandwiches) and a gentle walk round the centre of the town.
The Mairie or Town Hall

A monument to the fallen of World War 1 

The church of St Nicholas undergoing refurbishment

Hotel Normandy (beautiful architecture)

 By this time we needed a coffee/ice cream so popped into café on the square.  My son ordered for the children - two ices and two café noir - and I asked for an Americano.  What arrived for me was a cocktail of some sort and as it was three in the afternoon I dread to think what they thought of me - some lush perhaps who needed a drink!!!  I did NOT drink it but got my black coffee.

Then onto the beach where kites were flown in the very strong cold wind -

The beach and Cap Gris-Nez in the distance

Cap Gris-Nez

A shelled house from the war?
By this time it was getting quite late and there was still more shopping to do but not before my son drove to Haringzelle for me to see these -

Notice the big railway gun in the background

Batterie Todt
Both my son and I are interested in these bunkers that are all along this stretch of the coast.

After another shopping trip we then headed back to Eurotunnel for the journey home after a very full day and two tired little girls.  It was a brilliant day out.