Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy belated Mother's Day

I have just returned from a sleepover last night and a super lunch today in Cambridge.

Yesterday morning something new;  I went out looking for Roman remains in a field in Bedfordshire.  All properly conducted and the field is divided into 20 metre blocks and then carrying a plastic bag we had to walk our block horizontally and vertically to cover the site.  I did find some tessari (pieces from the mosaic floor) and maybe some pottery, but I suspect that a large quantity of what I collected will be thrown out as rubbish!  Never mind I did enjoy my morning and someone found part of an Anglo Saxon brooch and a Roman coin, which I held in my hand and just marvelled at how old they were.

Then to Cambridge where I did some gardening on the vegetable patch yesterday.  This afternoon my younger son, M, and I started sorting out the grapevine.  We found that there are actually three vines, which are a mixture of black and green and all absolutely delicious as we have found in past years  We had to cut back two holly bushes, a cherry tree and huge lumps of very invasive bamboo: we needed the chainsaw for the latter.  The trees were hanging over the fence and the vines were growing up through them.  We managed to pull them down, prune them and then they were trained along the new fence which the neighbours have put up.  The fence faces south and we discovered how warm this area of the garden is so hopefully we might get a few bunches.  All I need to do is stop the muntjac pinching them so netting may be required at a later date!!

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Christmas Challenge 2013

Anyone following my blog will know that Higham Piecemakers set us a Christmas challenge each year and 2013 was 'The First World War Remembered'

Do look at the Piecemakers blog for the pictures of the Monday group's contribution.  On Wednesday evening we all showed up with ours and here is a picture of them all.

Stunning aren't they?

Don't you love the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service doll at the back.  
We also saw those of the Monday group and every item was very thought provoking and covered a huge range of stitching, patchwork, knitting and brilliant ideas. 

My own contribution is the wall hanging in the centre of the table, dedicated to my father who went out to Vimy in March 1918. In crossing France he was awarded the Military Cross, entered Belgium and was demobbed in January 1919. He was always thought to be a confirmed bachelor, but met and married my Mother during the 2nd World War and I and my siblings followed!  I am lucky that my family still have his trench maps and medals of the time.  The maps have his writing with little anecdotes - "Must ask the sergeant to get hay for the horses" on one and "People awfully good to us at Montroeul au Bois.  Fireplace blown up by bomb as a booby trap".  This last quote was In Belgium after the Armistice had been signed. 

I really enjoyed doing this challenge but regret that I could not find a better photo of my father.  This was taken from a newspaper cutting of the time that had photos of his two older brothers who also served.  His elder brother, John, was a doctor attached to the RAMC and he to won the Military Cross.  The second brother, Dudley, had been in the Territorial Army for over ten years and in 1914 was posted to Gallipoli, where he contracted enteric fever and a head wound, was repatriated, but eventually returned to Egypt.  All three sons returned safely!  What a worry to the family having all their sons in the war.

Thursday, 27 March 2014


I went to my embroidery class yesterday.  I do struggle with this and regret not taking it up earlier.  I am doing a 'drawn thread' sampler and after many weeks practising, I am now on the real thing!

I am having a go at 'Half Rhodes' stitch which involves a great deal of counting.  The finished stitch should look like a square, but my first effort was a rectangle - undo it and try again.  Next one was too big, so undone for the third try.  Looked OK so I pressed onto the next one and then passed my work to the teacher for approval before I went too far.  Wrong again so back to the beginning after checking the clock.  Nearly two hours and back to the beginning again and the group were in hysterics of laughter by this time.  Then I realised my error.  I had been counting spaces instead of threads and because of this small point I had spent two hours sewing and re-sewing one small stitch. 

In the last ten minutes I managed three small squares - RESULT, so I can now press on.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Cambridge and other matters.

Cambridge day today and Ellie and I are going to Hobbycraft as I need some buttons and more thread for 'the Jacket'!  Hope to finish it within the next week.  Ellie loves Hobbycraft because she looks at all the glittery bits, ribbons and the giant papier maché giraffe they have there and of course, next door is the pet store where we have to go to look at the rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and fish.  Then we get our normal mid-morning refreshment.

I have just been onto
Higham Piecemakers
blog to see what the Monday ladies produced for our Christmas Challenge.  My goodness there were some very thought provoking items there and I am looking forward to seeing them.  I hope that they will be there for us to see.  I believe that the British Legion would be interested in seeing all these memories.  I will be posting a photo of my contribution later in the week.

Oh, and finally - does anyone out there know how to prune a grapevine that has been allowed to rampage around a garden unchecked and now needs to be brought under control?  It will probably die as a result of this but we need to give it a go.  All advice gratefully received!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Murder Mystery

At last my very busy week has come to an end and I can relax a little.  A whole Sunday to myself; what a luxury.

A very good Friday morning planning the Car Rally in May and the pub is booked for lunch which is vital for the club!!   Cannot give any indication where the intrepid rallyers will be going as that would spoil the surprise, but suffice to say they will see some of our lovely countryside and pretty villages especially at this time of the year.  I didn't manage to plan everything so another trip will be needed.

Last night I went to a 'Murder Mystery' evening that I had organised for the 50+ Adventure Club.  The 'players' for the evening were Thrapston Amateur Dramatic Society (TADS) and we had a very difficult scenario to unravel.  We sat round tables and each 'character 'came round and we asked probing questions to try to discover 'who dunnit'.  We were also fed small amounts of information through the course of the evening like the results of the pathology tests etc.  The characters had to answer truthfully except the murderer and finally we had to write down the villain and why.  My table took a long time to work it out and in the end we had to put it to the vote as we were divided.  The answers from each table were submitted and the 'director' went through each players position in the murder.  I am delighted to report that my table were the only ones to guess (sorry, reason it out) correctly so were the winners.  Slightly embarrassed as I had bought the prizes, but delighted to be on a winning side.

Not long until we start our outdoor adventures which will start with a Spring Walk followed by horse riding.  Its all go!

Now off to do some sewing, which has been on the back burner for a while and check that my Christmas challenge for "The First World War remembered" for Higham Piecemakers is finalised as it has to be shown next Wednesday.

Friday, 21 March 2014

The theatre

Half way through a very busy week.  A full day yesterday which finished with a trip to the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough, to see a National Theatre production of 'War Horse'.  It was broadcast live from the NT and though you see it on a screen there is still the atmosphere that you get at the theatre.

I haven't read the book or seen the film, but it certainly brings home the futility of war and the casualties it brings especially the cavalry on horses pitted against machine guns and later tanks and big guns.  Such a waste of young lives.  The puppetry of the horses and birds is brilliant and there are now productions of War Horse around the world, so I assume that this is one of the UK's 'exports'.  Well done them and I enjoyed it.

Now off to plan a car rally for the 50+ Adventure Club.   This is NOT a group of oldies careering round the countryside at speed, but driving in to local villages and walking round answering questions to clues that can be found there.  All very sedate, but it is followed by Sunday lunch in a pub, which we all enjoy.  I have been told that graveyards are to be out this year as the questions I set last year did involve quite a number of them.  Pity - they are a source of information and questions!!

Thank you to everyone who supports my blog.  Please tell your friends and pass on the link to it as I get a buzz from knowing that it is being read.  If you wish to comment please feel free as I enjoy reading them and answering them as well. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

This week is hectic and my posts will be very short and fitted in between a myriad of other things.

Yesterday was a Cambridge day so Ellie and I went into the city centre on the bus.  It doesn't cost anything with my bus pass and she is too young to pay.  After looking round the shops we had our usual snack which she loves and keeps telling me she will miss when she goes to school.  Back to the house and then onto my 'Cambridge allotment'!!  For those who don't know, my son has a large garden and in exchange for fresh vegetables I am responsible for the vegetable plot.  He helps with some of the digging but the soil is wonderful and quite light compared to the clay that I work on at home.  I was preparing the ground for my early potatoes which Ellie and I put to 'chit' a few weeks ago.

Ellie was on the trampoline most of this time and then complained she was very tired when we had tea!!  Excellent way of burning off some energy.

Straight from Cambridge to a committee meeting of the 50+ Adventure Club which ended with delicious home made Apple Cake and chocolate coconut bars.  I ate far too much.

Embroidery lesson this morning and Higham & Rushden U3A monthly meeting this afternoon, followed by Higham Piecemakers quilting group this evening.

It's all go this week.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Busy gardening weekend

What glorious weather we had this weekend.  I spent the weekend trying to tidy up my garden, both front and back and now I look at it I wonder what I did.  Apart from the lawn looking better, there doesn't seem to be much change.  However at the end of Day 1 I had a huge amount of gardening rubbish to get rid of and with our local recyling centre out of action until July (who planned that I wonder!) I had to find alternatives online.  I decided on one at Wollaston and hoped it wasn't too full with queuing cars.  I need not have worried; very few cars and the most helpful men that I have ever met at a recyling centre.  No sooner did I pull up than he (they on Sunday) were taking stuff out of the car to go in the skips.  I didn't have to do anything.  Brilliant: I could not fault them and I told them so.

This morning it was Nordic Walking along the banks of the River Nene

I took the little rucksack that I had made.  I adapted the pattern to make the opening more secure and put the zip in the back for safety.
Zip against my back

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Two posts in one day!!

As well as seeing William for the first time I went to crochet club.  Missed you Jo!!  A great deal of chat, remarks like 'where am I on this pattern?' but we did crochet.

This is the new project; a 'Blooming Flower Cushion' from Attic 24 which I love doing.  It is becoming a little like Topsy and growing because I bought the smallest cushion pad I could find but will still need to do a few more circles to finish.
Love this!!
The finished product will be shown!!

Update on the new great-nephew

I went to see baby William Dent yesterday.  Really pleased with this name as his great-grandfather's middle name was Dent.  

Anyway he is gorgeous and appears to be really good during the day, but I believe not so good at night, but his Mum will sort him out.  I handed over the play mat which has been made since January and here it is!

The front log cabin
I love doing log cabin and it is so quick if you chain piece all the strips as you go.  As you can see I have 25 squares and I would have gone doo lallee if I had done each square individually.  I did buy the yellow fabric for the centre square but everything else was from my stash.  I have five large colour co-ordinated boxes  in my attic + a large box of children's type fabrics and a smaller one of Christmas and fancy fabrics.

This is the back and I believe that I may have got the fabric in the USA when I was on holiday some years ago.  Happy to be able to change this if anyone knows.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

New great-nephew!

Just a very quick post to say congratulations to my niece who had a little boy, William, last night weighing 8lb 10oz!

Can't wait to see them and I will now make the label which is going on the back of the baby floor mat that is waiting to be despatched to her.  A picture will be posted later in the week, but don't expect pastel colours because my children's items are always bright with interesting little pictures/fabrics in them.   I have a theory that babies like to see bright colours when on their tummies and the colours certainly don't fade.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A weekend in Kent

What glorious weather this weekend!  I have spent it in Kent staying with my eldest son, his wife and two little grand-daughters and having a very good time.

This morning we all went to Rye Harbour where the girls were able to ride their bike and scooter in absolute safety on this lovely, newly tarmaced, footpath, over the shingle and then we only had a short walk down to the beach.  It looks like a motorway but is a footpath!!  Me trying to be arty.  There is a bird hide on the way where we stopped and saw Oystercatchers, Redshank, Shelduck plus many I didn't know.  Miles and miles of shingle, but on the other side of the River Rother (which is the dark line from the hut to the right of the picture) is Camber Sands, with miles and miles of golden sand.  So warm and not a cloud in the sky.
Don't you love the fisherman's hut!
A lovely weekend,followed by lunch with my cousin in Sussex tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Yesterday's day out

What a lovely day to go for a trip with the U3A History Group to Ely.  The first stop was a guided tour of the Cathedral which was first built, with its monastery, in 673 by Saint Ethelreda.  However the invading Danes did not treat the buildings very well and it was rebuilt in 970 and finally became a cathedral and the new diocese of Ely, in 1170.
The West front of the cathedral
  Unfortunately in 1322 the Norman built central tower collapsed and the wooden octagonal lantern was built, which survives to this day.  Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries brought more destruction to the cathedral and some damage took place, including destroying the attached monastery, destroying Ethelreda's shrine and knocking the heads off the saintly figures in the Lady chapel.

The Cathedral is nicknamed the 'Ship of the fens' because wherever you go you can see its stately towers riding the sky like a great ship and it is certainly imposing as you approach the city.  Yes, Ely is the smallest city in the country.  
The octagon lantern from the ground

Some of the madder people decided to climb the 165 steps to the top and I am glad that I did this.  There is a walkway round the lantern which is the 'lit area'you can see in my photo taken from the ground.  The guide opened two of the painted panels and we looked down into the nave.  Amazing piece of architecture when you wonder how the carpenters got the massive trunks of oak up in to place.

I also visited Ely Museum and Oliver Cromwell's house. Though born in nearby Huntingdon, Cromwell lived here with his wife and 9 children.  After circulating though the house with an audio guide, we were asked to decide whether we thought Cromwell was a hero or a villain.  I actually found this difficult, but said he was a villain.  However on reflection  and though I am a confirmed Royalist, Charles I did get above himself, dismissed Parliament and thought he could govern as he saw fit.  So perhaps Cromwell was a hero because we might now have been living in a dictatorship!  

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

New crochet project

Just a quickie, but I have started a new crochet project which is beginning to look good.  Got the pattern from Attic 24 an absolutely brilliant blog.  If you don't know this one you have been missing out.

Must go as I am on a day out today, so will be reporting back.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday - Pancake Day

As I write this the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky, BUT only a couple of hours ago I was scraping ice off the windscreen of the car. 

If it is Tuesday it must be Cambridge looking after my grand-daughter day and it is Shrove Tuesday which means pancakes later on for tea!!  Yay - pancakes on the ceiling as we toss them.  Oh and by the way if you live locally, you still have time to get to Olney for their famous Pancake Race  There seems to be a lot of interest in this event from the press.

Anyway a very short post today as Ellie and I are going to do some 'crafts' before we go to Waitrose for our morning snack - apple juice for Ellie, coffee for Granny and we share an iced bun.  This is a Tuesday morning ritual and I shall miss it when she goes to school.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Tried to post a photo and it looks as if it may have worked at last.  Here is the picture that should have been with the text yesterday.  Difficult to believe that this is leather with an imprint on it!!  I love it.
Leaves pressed onto processed leather

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Leather day out - sorry no photos as the system has failed me!!

Not having a good day blog wise!  Started writing early this morning and couldn't load photos.  I do not see much point just writing if you cannot occasionally have a picture and they did not load.  Blogger Help was no use, so if there is anyone out there who can help let me know.

Right the rant is over now.  Had a good day yesterday with the 50+ Adventure Club at the University of Northampton's Leather Department where we learnt how hides are processed from the animal to the finished product.  Any skins can be used and we even saw finished salmon skins.  Should be a lovely picture here of a piece of leather with leaves on which was accomplished by pressing Choisiya and others.  The smell was beautiful as the leaves oils were released in the pressing process.  By the way it takes 6-8 hides to cover a two seat sofa.

Currently working on my Higham Piecemakers WW1 Christmas Challenge which is coming along nicely.  Free machining quilting break at the moment as anyone who does this will know you must have.  After this is completed I will put the binding on and then it will be finished, which is just as well as it has to be ready by the end of March.