Saturday, 30 April 2016

"Andy Warhol looks a scream"

Well, hello there! Happy May Day and all that. Can you believe we're in May already? It seems as though we were only celebrating the new year last month and when I uploaded some photos a few days ago I found myself tagging them as April 2015. We've had some really weird weather round these parts too: glorious sunshine interspersed with snow, hail and spectacular thunderstorms - all very exciting. 
E has been off school for a bit with a real stinker of a cold. I do love having her around but I was just a bit worried as she seemed rather breathless at one point. She also had a couple of presentations to do with hardly any voice but she struggled on. Happily, she's well on the mend now. 

Anyhoo, here are some of the happier moments from our week - I haven't posted the photo of me with a rice noodle stuck to my chin - I hadn't eaten any at that point, there had just been some very vigorous woking going on and I didn't even notice it until E pointed it out - teenagers can still do that incredulity thing, even with laryngitis!

My supermarket tulips - they have lasted far better since I started cutting the stems with a sharp knife, as opposed to crushing it with scissors as my mother taught me. It's only taken me the 30 years to work that one out.

 Renewing my subscription to Country Living with some about to expire Tesco vouchers:
 Noticing the green woodpecker in the garden again and actually having my camera to hand:
Yesterday, I popped into Oxford to collect L after her week there. When I dropped her off last weekend, I noticed a poster advertising an Andy Warhol exhibition at the Ashmolean, so we made a plan to visit. I hopped off the P&R bus near Christchurch meadow:
 Walked past what must be one of the cutest Pret a Mangers in the country:
 ....... and arrived here just in time to meet L:
The exhibition was of the private Hall Collection and included over 100 paintings, screen prints, sculptures, drawings and films. We enjoyed it, but found that we wanted more information about the man himself - I didn't know, for example, that he had been shot at one point. I think I may need to hunt for a book next time I'm at the library.
We decided to buy a couple of postcards each of our favourite works (we ended up with 10 as they were the same price as our 4 would have been!). I liked his screen printed flowers on a hand painted background and L liked 'Twenty Fuchsia Maos', taken from a screen print of the iconic Communist poster. I don't think he was a fan (neither are we!), I think it was possibly making some point about brand advertising, alongside Brillo and Campbell's soup (there was a quotation there stating that he had never received so much as a can of soup from Campbells - you'd think they could have stumped up for a crate of cream of tomato wouldn't you?). Our favourite 4 are currently stuck to the fridge, much to R's disgust. I'm not sure how long they'll survive.
We had time for a drink and a shared slice of mango and passion fruit cake before seeing the rest of the Ashmolean's artwork. Sadly, there isn't a huge amount to see at the moment owing to renovation work.
 Then it was off to a Malaysian noodle bar for lunch.
 Tofu curry, veggie spring rolls and egg fried noodles - it was yummy but really filling and we ended up boxing up the rest to take home for E who's rather fond of a good noodle when it's not stuck to her mother's chin.
 The shots below were taken by L as we drove home along the A34. I'd noticed the lovely Rape as I was driving to Oxford and asked her to get the camera out ready for the return journey. It was easier said than done - the best field sailed by before she managed to switch the camera on and there followed a series of shots of lorries, Dynarod vans and road signs before she finally managed the 2 below!

Anyway, that's all for this week. The photo above was taken out of the bedroom window first thing this morning, so it looks as though May Day might actually turn out to be nice weather wise. I'm planning a little potter in the garden and I might have a bit of a Mary Berry moment and make a quick carrot cake too. How about you, any good plans for the Bank Holiday weekend? I look forward to catching up with your posts later and seeing what you've all been up to.

Toodle Pip for now. x

Monday, 25 April 2016

Shakespeare, Virtual Reality and Half a Mouse!

Morning all. Rather unusually for me, I thought I'd do a photo free post today. Did anyone else see the RSC Live to celebrate Shakespeare 400 on Saturday? R had booked tickets to see it at our local Corn Exchange before realizing on the day that it was actually being televised on BBC2! Ah well, we keep telling ourselves that it was an evening out and it did look good on the big screen, but even so! I really enjoyed it, it was an all star cast and, for me, David Tennant and Ian McKellan shone; they make it all look so easy. One of my favourite bits was 'A Line of Hamlets', see here.
I do love a nice Shakespeare production and we always try to visit Stratford upon Avon in the summer for a bit of rowing and a play. This year we may try Regent's Park Open Air Theatre again, although it tends to be a bit hit and miss with our English weather!

On Saturday, L went to Oxford to stay with her boyfriend, J. I dropped her off and popped in for a quick cup of tea and a play on his new toy - a Virtual Reality headset. You have to clear quite a bit of floor space, don a visor and headphones, then 2 remotes allow you to control the action. I had a little go flying aircraft on an island (although my landings left a lot to be desired!) and then tried an art game which allowed you to draw 3D pictures. It was such fun! It did feel a little strange when you removed the equipment and were back in the real room and I imagine it would be very easy to become hooked - Saturday was lovely and sunny (if a little chilly) but I suspect that when I left them they probably spent most of the day inside playing with it!

One last thing (and you may not want to read the next bit if you're particularly squeamish!), yesterday I was happily filling up the bird feeders, when I noticed what I thought was a bit of fluff blocking one of the holes in the sunflower hearts feeder. It was already hanging from the tree at the time and, without thinking too much about it, I gave the fluff a tug. It seemed quite hard, so I tugged a bit more and then had a closer look. Well YUCK, it was actually the remains of a mouse which had become trapped in the feeder (don't ask me how) and died. Presumably the magpies or jackdaws had been pecking away at it, so what I was actually tugging on was the remains of its abdomen. Never have hands been scrubbed so much! R came to my rescue as I was trying not to chunder and, tipping out the seeds, managed to extract what was left of the poor wee beastie with a stick. Filling the feeders will never be the same carefree experience it once was and I can't even look at the feeders at the moment without wanting to run for the tap!

Enjoy your week, everyone and, if you'll excuse me, I've just got to go and wash my hands!
Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Odds and Ends

Can you believe that we have lost yet another 'National Treasure'? Maybe it's because they are people that I grew up enjoying so it's made more of an impact, but Bowie, Alan Rickman, Ronnie Corbett, Terry Wogan and now Victoria Wood? .... and we're only in April. I heard a lovely tribute poem to her on Classic FM as I was driving back from the school run. Apparently, she loved Christmas music and so they played John Rutter's 'Shepherd's Pipe Carol' for her. It was strange hearing a carol on a sunny spring day, but rather lovely and moving nonetheless. I really hope, however, that we've had our quota for this year; enough.

Thank you for all your comments regarding my cushion. After much debate, I decided that my version wouldn't really fit the cushion pad and the bagginess would annoy me, so I was brave and tinked the lot. It was quite satisfying in a funny sort of way.
 On Saturday morning we had this:

I know there are people in some parts of the world who will be laughing in a 'call that snow?' kind of way and I realize that it's not exactly a scene from Soulemama, but some of us were very excited. The individual flakes were huge. Sadly, it wasn't cold enough to stick but E and Hamish made the most of it.
 Even if someone had to be wrapped in a blankie afterwards to recover from the ordeal!
... and it was a good excuse to light the stove:
 Other shots on my camera this week:
Yet more daffodils:
 My new planters from the racecourse:
The above one has herbs and the one below a foxglove! I love them but something always eats the ones in the garden, so I hoped I'd have a better chance if it was in a pot:
I'm looking at you, Deidre! Here she was this morning investigating the wire mesh that R had put round his beloved Cordyline in an attempt to protect it from little munching jaws. Not that there's much left to protect!
Fergus and Katie (named after the storm) enjoying the remnants of the All Bran packet. Fergus is on full alert after another male jumped on Katy whilst they were being fed by the back door. Fergus flew to defend her honour - I've never seen pheasants fight before; it was rather impressive.
 L has finished her latest batch of exams, so we celebrated with a trip to Hungerford today. A toasted sandwich and a cream tea between us at The Tutti Pole, followed by a walk along the canal was just what was needed.
Anyway, that's all for this week. I'll leave you with 90th birthday wishes for Her Majesty. May she have many more.

Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 14 April 2016


Two posts in one day - get me! I just had to pop in again to tell you about my knitting disaster. I've been trying to knit the 'Wheel of Colour' cushion from 'The Gentle Art of Knitting' by Jane Brocket and for a wee while I have been wondering about the width of my stripes. The pattern reads :
"Rows 1&2: K3, turn. sl 1, knit to end." and I assumed that because it said rows 1 & 2, I had to do it twice! There apparently was my mistake, as those instructions counted for rows 1&2 together. Consequently,my stripes are twice as wide as they are supposed to be! Pause for deep breathing. Here is what the cushion is supposed to be (photo taken from the book):
...... and here is my version:
Do you see my problem? My dilemma now is whether to complete 3 lots of each colour, as opposed to 4. This would give me a slightly bigger than intended circle and something more reminiscent of a radioactivity warning sign than a wheel of colour. I could possibly get away with that but it may be slightly baggy. Or, I could tink the whole lot and start again!

I was bemoaning the fact that even if I went with the 'Radioactivity Cushion' it wouldn't fit brilliantly. E looked up from her history revision and said " Never mind, Mummy. I think you'll find that as far as that cushion is concerned, the good ship 'Tasteful' had long since sailed anyway!" Well!

The only consolation was when I looked it up on Ravelry, I'm not the only one to have made the same mistake. Any suggestions as to what I could do with my cushion would be gratefully received - I suspect R is just aching to tell me!

Have a good evening. x

Easter pottering

Good morning, friends (I hope I can call you all friends and I'm not being too familiar?). We're into the last few days of our Easter holidays now and it's been a rather mixed affair both weather and activity wise . L has had exams and E is revising madly and with an increasing sense of panic for her A2s. (Someone asked about the terminology. What used to be just A levels when we did them are now divided into 2 sets of exams: AS levels after the first year and A2s at the end of the second. It makes it easier to split them up but it does mean exams every year from GCSEs and it can all get a bit stressful.). I have had a few crafty moments, done LOTS of weeding and lost a good friend to cancer; the funeral is tomorrow. With that in mind, I've been trying to be a bit more mindful and enjoy the little things. Here are a few from the last week:

Another  new lampshade - actually, this one wasn't from scratch, I just recovered an old one which I actually found much harder to do.
 My log cabin cushion - I know that there are supposed to be warm colours in one corner and cool in the other but I didn't have enough scraps of red, so just had to intermingle them with the blues. The cushion inners I found lurking in the loft.
 Lots of ear rubbing. It's impossible to sit on the floor round here without a certain someone lolloping up and placing his chin on your lap for an ear rub.
 R and I visited the local antique fair.  I love a good potter and rummage. We bought a couple of metal containers for the garden. One, I've already planted with some herbs as it came with ready made drainage holes, but the other didn't so needs a bit of attention first. I'll take some photos when they're both done.
 Saturday saw me doing some much needed weeding, but I was hampered by the heavens opening every 10 minutes or so. There are only so many times you can shelter in the greenhouse, so eventually I gave up and came inside to do this. It's a new cushion from 'The Gentle Art of Knitting' and I'm basically just using up scraps from the yarn basket. I hope I have enough!
 The last of the Easter nests:
 Enjoying my breakfast smoothie and assessing the weather:
 Loving my 2 'new to me' utensil jars (the brown, pottery ones), courtesy of Oxfam:
 Not the best photo I'm afraid, it was taken through the patio doors when I was contemplating how many bird feeders could be considered too many. 7 is reasonable isn't it?!
 Enjoying the frilly tulips that I planted last year:
  Tesco's 'perfectly imperfect' Kent strawberries for my perfectly imperfect pavlova! The shapes were a little odd but they tasted just as good. After watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's programme about the amount of fruit and veg wasted just because it doesn't conform to expected appearance standards, I hope there will be more perfectly imperfect stuff on our shelves.
 E's current favourite recipe book - she loves all the veggie dishes from this one and has requested a copy to take to uni:
 Finally, I'll leave you with yesterday evening's rainbow. Is it just me that still gets that childlike joy whenever I spot one?
Well, that's all for this week. Next time we'll be back into the new term and anxiety levels will be rising. Perhaps I'd better stock up on wine along with my perfectly imperfect fruit and veg?!

Toodle Pip for now. x

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Bath Skyline

Goodness, it's been a while hasn't it? Time seems to have flown by this Easter and this little space of mine has been sadly neglected of late. We are still, thankfully, in the middle of the Easter holidays - even though they are somewhat blighted by A2 revision. The weather has been a bit hit and miss - glorious sunshine one day and storms the next. Our great British weather certainly does keep us on our toes.

Yesterday, however, was a real gem of a day, luckily for my friend, S, and me as we had arranged to have a trip to Bath to walk the Bath Skyline (See here). Well, it turned out to be a wonderful day out with stunning views of Bath, walks in woods, through fields of lambs and general up hill and down dale stuff. If you live close enough, pack a picnic, put on your walking boots and get out there; it's brilliant. Here are a few photos of our trip:

This was our view sitting on top of a dry stone wall having our picnic. Few things can be more cheering than watching lambs gamboling about.
 Through the woods - we were lucky in that this was the only really muddy bit of the walk:
 Stopping on a bench for a quick breather:
 Then, back down into the city for a very welcome pot of tea and a Bath bun here:

It was gorgeous and I can't recommend it highly enough - my feet are a little tender today though!
Other things making me smile this week:
A bunch of tulips from my lovely neighbours for cat sitting last weekend:
Hanging my Folk Art stitching:
Playing with patchwork:
The finished cushion:
I went on to make a log cabin one too but forgot to take a photo. I'll do that next time.
My cheap and cheerful daffs:
...... and, finally, a photo of Hamish doing his Easter Bunny act:
Anyway, that's all for this week. I'm just off to ease my sore feet in the bath and then I'm booked in for a much needed haircut. Enjoy your day.
Toodle Pip for now. x