Thursday, 2 July 2020

So, that was June.

Hello there. Again, it has been over a month since my last post. The hiatus is probably due to a combination of not much happening during lockdown and an absence of blogging mojo. R had most of the month off. He is an IT contractor and his previous contract finished at the end of May. Having secured a new position, he had to wait a few weeks for his security clearance to come through - this, despite the fact that he was actually returning to the same Government department as before! Still, it gave him a nice break and allowed him to finish off a few DIY jobs that had been on the 'To Do' list. The patio is now re-pointed and the garage door frame repaired and in the process of being painted. 
We've been on some lovely walks, I've done lots of gardening and finished off a few craft projects and the Friday family quiz nights are still ongoing. Incidentally, the answer to the Dingbat in my last post (for those who may have been wondering!) was 'Feeling under the weather'. Any ideas for pub quiz rounds would be gratefully received!

Here then, are a few photos from June 2020:
Finishing and blocking my Rosemont Cardigan. It is a lovely, big, slouchy pattern and I look forward to wearing it during the colder months:
 A walk at Coombe Gibbet near Inkpen:
 It's a perfect place for hang gliding:
 Spending a happy morning sewing face masks. I made no attempt to match up the pattern - I'm certainly no Sewing Bee candidate! I find them surprisingly cosy and comforting to wear, although if you're wearing glasses, they have a tendency to steam up!
 A trip to Bampton in Oxfordshire. This is a lovely village which might look familiar to fans of 'Downton Abbey' as it doubles as the fictional Yorkshire village, Downton. There is a lovely circular walk and we had a coffee from an independent coffee shop - our first for many months in a cup that wasn't ours!



This is the village library that doubles as the hospital in the series:


Another of the jobs that R has ticked off the list this month was to cut down the huge conifer at the front of our house. He has always hated it and even I eventually had to admit that it was getting well out of hand. We popped into the Bampton garden centre and bought a climbing rose to cover the now bare wall. I have named it 'Carson' to remind me where we bought it - I think the lockdown might be having a detrimental effect on my mental health! 

 More ducklings coming to be fed:
 This cottage took my fancy on a walk round Leckhamstead and Peasemore:
 A yarn bombed postbox in Ashbury. Sadly, I don't think it is still in use:
 A walk along the Ridgeway to Wayland's Smithy, a chambered long barrow built in the 36th century BC:



 R's attempt at constructing a house martin's nest. He followed some online instructions, cutting an old rubber ball found in the garden in half and then covering it in a sand/cement combination. The jury is still out! :O)
 Taking L's inflatable kayak for a paddle. We took a picnic and ate it whilst drifting slowly along the Kennet and Avon canal. Carrying it around 4 locks was less fun!

 Finishing quilting and binding my 'Quarantine Quilt'. All it needed was a label to make it my own personal bit of history. 
 The veggies are coming along a treat. I think it may be courgette and chard gratin for dinner!
Well, that's all for June. I hope you are all well and looking forward to lockdown easing. I doubt very much that we will be rushing to the pub when they open this weekend. It is, however, our anniversary in a couple of weeks, so a nice meal out wouldn't go amiss - social distancing and corona-safe restaurant permitting, of course! Stay well, my friends.
Toodle pip for now. x

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Lockdown Blues

Hello there. I think it's been about a month since my last post. Things have been plodding along in roughly the same way. We're still going on our evening walks, although, now we're allowed to travel further afield in order to exercise, we've been driving out in Bridget.  It's a bit of a relief as we'd exhausted all the local public footpaths.  The weather has been helping as it's still glorious, although the garden could do with a jolly good downpour.
I had a few days last week when it all got a bit much. I was (still am) missing the girls terribly, that and worrying about R's job and the general fallout surrounding the Coronavirus sent me spinning into an whirl of anxiety. I know that compared to a lot of people we are very fortunate: everyone is safe and well; we are lucky enough to have enough food; a home with a garden and savings to tide us over if necessary. The problem is that logical thinking doesn't really help when everything seems overwhelming. Fortunately, this week seems a bit better; all the problems are still there but I'm coping okay.

Here then are the photos from the past month:
We have instituted a virtual 'Friday Night Family Quiz Night' on Zoom. We each take turns to host and it's the highlight of my week; it's so lovely to see everyone. More 'Wallaby hops' to anyone who can work out the Dingbat below (Incidentally, for those who didn't guess the quotation from my last post, it was the opening sentence from Jane Eyre). I hosted the first quiz and, being very low tech, did everything on paper. Everyone else, of course, has since done it all online; I'm going to have to up my game for this Friday!  
Finishing my 'Linus Shawl'. This was a really comforting knit - I do love a bit of garter stitch. You don't have to think until you get to the end of a row so it's perfect TV knitting. The yarn was bought at 'Unravel' in Farnham back in February. It seems weird to think about that now - all those people crowding together in an enclosed space.

 A local walk in the woods: 

Playing with clay again. I had fun making scoops and spoons. The tutor's instructions were to make something influenced by a piece of writing or poetry. I chose a line from T.S. Eliot's 'The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock' where he says 'I have measured out my life in coffee spoons'. A bit of a literal interpretation I know but I had fun!
Finishing my 'Quarantine Quilt' top:
 
It's not perfect by any means - my flying geese are a bit hit and miss - but doing a couple of squares a day helped to keep me sane. I ordered the wadding and backing fabric online and it is now all sandwiched together and waiting to be hand quilted.
 Low key celebrations for the 75th anniversary of VE Day. I made a VE day chocolate cake and dusted my Grandfather's medals. He fought in both world wars - lying about his age for the first one - and died when I was about 11. When my Dad was helping to clear out his flat, he asked me if  there was anything that I'd like to keep. I chose his medals as I knew how proud he was of them, and they've been on my wall ever since. Apologies for the photo being a little off kilter; the reflections made it difficult to see them from straight on. 
  Reading another of the books that E bought me for our 2nd hand Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It's a story, told over 7 nights, about a man who rose from the darkness of village life in rural India to become a rich entrepreneur. He also murdered his employer on the way! 
 Rhubarb and ginger jam:
 A walk and a picnic on the White Horse Trail in Pewsey. The views were stunning:


  Finishing my 'Rosemont Cardigan' by Hannah Fettig. It's currently blocking and will probably then have to be put away until the autumn as it's super cosy.
 Enjoying the scent of my Gertrude Jekyll rose:
 Making more kombucha. This is one of my scobys:
 Another walk and a picnic, this time starting at Jane Austen's house in Chawton:
 Although Jane is buried in Winchester cathedral, her mother and sister are buried in the graveyard of St. Nicholas' church in the village:

  A magnificent yew tree in the graveyard of another church on the walk:

Enjoying the wisteria - all the flowers have gone now.
 
  Tree bumblebees in the nest box. When I took the photo there were only 1 or 2 bees circling the box, there is now a dense drone cloud and they are quite intimidating. The box is near to our garden store where we keep the tools and rotary washing line. I have to access it at least once a day and I try not to make eye contact! :o)
 The first home grown salad of the season:
Well, that's all for the moment. I hope you are all keeping well and sane during this difficult time. R discovered a free newspaper in our larder this morning. It was dated from the end of February and, apparently, 2020 is going to be the 'Year of the Pretty Dress'! I'm not entirely sure that that is what we'll remember from this year but, just in case, I'm off to dust off my posh frock. :0) Stay well, my friends.

Toodle pip for now. x

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

'There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.'

Hello there! It's been quite a while since my last post and things have changed considerably in the intervening period. A gold star, 2 Brownie points and 5 'Wallaby Hops' to anyone who can identify which novel the quotation in the post title is taken from. Clue: it's the opening sentence of the book. Another gold star etc. to the person who can tell me which TV programme the phrase 'Wallaby Hops' comes  from! 

The quotation seemed quite apt as we have recently been self-isolating for 14 days. R has been working from home for a few weeks now and has had cabin fever since day 2. I feel I have fared much better as my temperament and normal lifestyle are well suited to being at home.
After 2 weeks of isolation I found that I became quite 'institutionalised' (if that's the right word) and didn't feel like going out. The thought of a trip to the supermarket filled me with dread but it had to be done. After 2 weeks at home I was like Old Mother Hubbard. The low points were a blood orange rice pudding - the oranges were too far gone to eat normally and it seemed like a good idea at the time ....... it wasn't! - and swede laksa which, yes, is as disgusting as it sounds. The supermarket queue was ridiculously long, snaking all the way through the Shrek-like cordon, round the side of the building and across the car park. It took me the best part of an hour just to get to the entrance! We now have a fully stocked fridge and larder though, so we'll be fine for another couple of weeks. Evening walks have resumed and the silver lining of the great Coronavirus cloud has been our exploration of local public footpaths. We've lived here for 20 years and we're only just discovering a lot of them. I hope that our exploration and the sense of community spirit that has developed will continue when all this craziness is over.

Here then are a few photos of the last month or so. Some of them were taken before lockdown when life was more normal. It seems like such a long time ago now.

Photo to show how high the river was after all the storms in February. There is a bridge somewhere under that lot!
Sowing my seeds. The following day a wee beastie of the rodenty kind tunnelled in and ate a lot of them. I was forced to clear out the greenhouse, flags were laid on the base and then all the seeds resown. To be fair, it is a lot tidier now :0).
A trip to London to hear L play in a concert. Her orchestra were accompanying some opera singers and it was brilliant:

Whilst we were killing time before the performance we went for a walk and explored Portobello Road market. It was slightly disappointing in that there were no dancers and it wasn't a bit like in 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'!
I bought a book from a second hand book shop - not the one made famous by Hugh Grant shown below which is, sadly, full of tat - and we sat outside a coffee shop and shared a vegan croissant.
About a week after our visit I developed a fever, headache, chills and a dry cough which lasted about a week. It was probably just some random bug but it would be quite nice to know!

Jaffa Bites from the Happy Pear recipe book:
A drive out in Bridget to the New Forest for the first picnic of the year. It doesn't actually look that foresty in these shots!



We walked around the village of Beaulieu which was beautiful and I'd like to visit again when we're back to normal. There was a lovely community garden that we really liked:
We had 4 (yes, count them!) 4 flowers on our small magnolia tree this year. That's 3 more than last year, so I'm thrilled!
R finishing off the fruit and brassica cage which was his present to me for our homemade Christmas. The birds stripped all the fruit off my bushes last year before we even got a look in and, after netting all my kale against the cabbage whites, I was horrified to find that a blue tit had got caught in the net. I'm  hoping that this will solve the problem.
Playing with clay. I was trying my hand at a coil pot which is harder than you'd think - my coils were oblongs! Now that it's dry I was tempted to draw a picture of a Coronavirus on the base to remind me of when I made it. E, however, informs me that that would be in poor taste!
Making a 'Quarantine Quilt' with my scraps. It's a Flying Geese type design and I made the decision to make 2 squares a day (I need 72) and not to use my unpicker at any point! Some of them are real shockers but it's keeping me sane:
 I'm reading a lot:
 My Mother's Day card from L finally arrived - she was self-isolating on the day and couldn't post it. It contained a beautiful cross stitch bookmark that she made from a kit she received one Christmas. I love it.
 My favourite blossom against a blue sky:
We went for a walk (part of our daily Government sanctioned exercise) in the bluebell wood. I forgot to take my camera, so here are some from the garden:
As I was the member of the household doing the food shopping, R hadn't been able to buy any Easter eggs. He made me a robin's nest box instead which is much nicer, I think. I also get to share his egg!
 Knitting by the river with the ducks:
 Duckling spotting:
 Taking a photo of the garden before the rising winds blow off all the cherry blossom!
 Finally, Hamish finding himself a patch of sunshine to snooze in:
Well, that's all for the moment. I hope you're all finding something to keep you sane in these strange times. Stay well, my friends and, as always ....
Toodle pip for now. x