Sunday, 1 September 2019

Clearing the Camera

Hello there! We have a holiday looming, so I thought I'd take half an hour and clear my camera of this month's photos. To be honest, I'm not exactly looking forward to the holiday. I know I sound incredibly spoilt and I should be very grateful that we can afford to even have a holiday (which, of course, I am) but I find that I'm feeling rather anxious of late. I think it's my hormones - I'm of an age! - and find that I'm awake at night fretting about the silliest things. I hate flying at the best of times and the upcoming travel has sent me into a bit of a downward spiral.  I'm sure it will all be fine (although, things do tend to go awry when we're let loose on the world!) and I'll look back and think what an idiot I've been, but the thought of this holiday has marred an otherwise lovely summer. Which is ridiculous.
Anyway, here are a few of the displacement activities that I've been up to as I've tried to distract myself:

The Bristol Balloon Festival - E was coming home for a while, so we thought we could combine picking her up with seeing this famous event. Unfortunately, the day was too wet and windy and things had to be cancelled. In the evening, we paid an arm and a leg in parking fees to park in a field a 40 minute walk away from the supposed action. We walked downhill across fields to see a funfair (I'm never that keen) and then sat under umbrellas waiting for the famous 'Night Glow' where balloons are illuminated in time to music. Because it was so windy, however, the balloons themselves weren't attached to the baskets. We found ourselves singing along to The Wurzels' 'I am a Cider Drinker' in the rain, whilst people  lit the burners in time to the beat! It was surreal and also not very environmentally friendly for a city known for its green ethos!
After 30 minutes there were fireworks and then the heavens opened again, just in time for our 40 minute walk uphill back to the car. We were absolutely soaking and the car steamed up nicely on the journey home. It was memorable though!
Hamish moulting on the sofa!
Harvesting my comedy veg!
Knitting my first pair of 'Rose City Rollers' socks. The yarn is in the colourway 'Mind the Gap' and the colours represent the different lines on the London underground:
I spent some 'about to expire' Tesco vouchers on an English Heritage membership. Our first trip was to Avebury. It was a lovely summer's day, made more quintessential by the presence of Morris dancers:



My friend, S, and I took a trip to Montacute House in Somerset (Unfortunately, National Trust, rather than English Heritage!). It was lovely and has been home to many a film setting. Wolf Hall was filmed here, as was some of 'Sense and Sensibility'. It was also the inspiration for Tottington Hall in 'Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were Rabbit':



More lovely lilies from my neighbour. People keep buying them for her, not realising that she is allergic to them!
Driving by Stonehenge (R was driving!):
A trip to Lyme Regis. We ate Teriyaki Tofu Bao in the sunshine, washed down with lime, cucumber and mint Kombucha - delish!


On the way home, we stopped off in Salisbury for Indian street food:

Bank Holiday Monday was wonderful. We store L and J's inflatable kayak in our garden shed. As it was such a lovely day we decided to borrow it (call it rent!). We paddled along the Kennet and Avon Canal, watched flocks of swallows scooping up water as we ate our sushi picnic, and spent ages just drifting whilst watching a kingfisher fishing. It was magical.......................... then R put his back out as we lifted the kayak out of the water to go round a lock and we had to paddle very slowly back to the car!

A visit to Crofton Beam Engines:


Another pair of Rose City Rollers, in cotton this time. The colourway is 'Watermelon', which I like but I didn't enjoy knitting with the cotton.
A trip to the Southern Wool Show at our local Racecourse:
A knitted version of our town!
Finally, spotting a new fawn in the garden. Apologies for the blurry photo - they were moving very quickly and the fawn kept pronking about!
Well, that's all for this month. Enjoy the last bit of the summer and I'll get back to my fretting!
Toodle pip for now. x

Monday, 5 August 2019

The Graduate

Has everyone got the tune Mrs. Robinson running through their heads? Excellent, as that little ear worm played constantly in mine last Friday when we attended E's graduation ceremony. It was the day after the really hot Thursday and the weather had, thankfully, cooled down a fair bit. Despite staying in a hotel in Bristol the night before, the morning itself was still a bit of a frantic rush. From the point that we sat down in the Wills Memorial Building, however, it was a wonderful day. Hats off to the uni for a magnificent ceremony that ran like clockwork. The speech was superb and we were actively encouraged to whoop and cheer as our loved ones went on stage for the official hand clasp ....... and whoop we did! R and I were bursting with pride and I may have shed a few, quiet tears! :0)
After the ceremony we had drinks and presentations in the Victoria Rooms, followed by the obligatory Graduation photo. Then we walked to the Koocha Vegan Bar and stuffed ourselves silly with the best Turkish mezze ever! 
That night, the 'childerbeasts' came home with us and then on the Saturday we drove into London to help L move into her new house, before L and E went off on a long awaited sibling holiday to Bruges.
Here are a few photos of E's big day:
Very poor photo of Wills Memorial Building:
Our view from the balcony - it was very warm and I pitied the poor parents of the students who had graduated the day before!
E changing into more suitable footwear for walking to Koocha!

Yum!

Other happies this month:
My anniversary present from R. I love dovecotes - probably as I have wonderful memories of a tea room in Devon which had one and the owners let the girls feed the doves with stale scones. Weirdly though, I have no desire to get actual doves! If any want to take up residence, however, (or any other type of bird!) I'll be perfectly happy. I just don't feel the need for any more dependent pets.

 Standing in the cold watching the lunar eclipse:
 My finished Camber dress with added pockets. It looks huge in this photo - I'm really not that big!
 Cutting out fabric for a Dress Shirt:
 The 'Up-beet' cafe at the Chesapeake Mill in Wickham. The mill is also home to various stalls selling antiques:
 Stocking up at the zero waste shop:
 Making a batch of apricot jam:
 Watching an open air play at our local Elizabethan Manor House - it was brilliant! It had poured with rain all day but miraculously stopped as soon as the play started.

 Same place 2 nights later to watch an outdoor showing of Mary Poppins Returns. I really enjoy this film (I also saw it on my birthday last December) and, with a couple of exceptions, loved the songs. Strangely though, the tunes never stay in my head. I can sing all the ones from the original Mary Poppins film, but these go in one ear and out the other!
 A trip into London to meet an old school friend, Z, at the V&A:
 Knitting J some 'Dustland Mitts' (pattern by Stephen West) for Christmas to go with the birthday hat that I gave him on one of the hottest weekends of the year! Here they are modeled by R:
This was a bit of a disaster. A while ago E found an old table base in a skip in London, Now that she has a garden, she wanted to take it to Bristol and so I lovingly made her a mosaic top containing some of the bits we had picked up on the beach in Burnham on Sea. Sadly, when R went to affix it, he discovered that the table was actually completely rotten, so the mosaic has joined the others on the outside of the garage wall in our garden.
Finally, a trip to the Watermill to see this:
It wasn't the best play we have seen there. It was all a bit last minute and I suspect it was some amateur dramatic group. The accents were, amusingly, decidedly dodgy American ones, but the highlight came when one of the actors couldn't turn off a torch and accidentally switched it onto flashing red mode. In a panic, she placed it on a nearby desk where it drew the eye nicely - but not as well as when another actor, trying to help, stuffed it into his trouser pocket, where it continued to flash rather alarmingly through the fabric until he practically threw it offstage!

Well, that's all for this week. Wishing everyone a wonderful, fun-filled summer.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 11 July 2019

The Bits Inbetween Watching Wimbledon!

Hello there! Well, it's that time of year again when I become rather obsessed with the happenings in SW19. I missed most of the first week of Wimbledon as E was home and she isn't too keen on tennis. The one silver lining of her going back to Bristol is that I now get to spend most afternoons watching Murray et al hitting balls across perfect, stripy lawns. I whizz through all my jobs in the morning, saving the ironing, and anything else that can be done with half an eye on the screen, for after lunch. 

There have been a few happies in between:
The bad mother duck has had a second clutch (is that the right word?) of ducklings. She started off with 10 and the number has gradually dwindled to 3. To give her her due, a light seems to have gone on in her little, ducky brain and she is actually taking quite good care of the remaining 3. She has stopped abandoning them to follow the male and no longer pushes them out of the way to get to the food. In fact, she will chase away the other ducks until her ducklings have finished eating. With the hot weather I have the patio doors open most of the time. Whilst cooking the other day, I heard a commotion in the dining room and went in to find the mother and ducklings pottering round, having a good nosy. They have since made rather a habit of this. There have been no ducky accidents of the poop kind yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time!
Another talk and walk at the museum. This time, it was all about swifts and it was really fascinating. We already have a swift box at the back of our house, but the West Berkshire Ornithological Club are giving away free boxes to local residents in an attempt to boost numbers. I have applied for another one and may even try their recording of swifts calling to attract them - not sure what the neighbours will make of that!
 Making lavender cookies:
It was a friend's birthday a couple of weeks ago and so a few of us took her out for lunch at a local gastro pub. After lunch we went back to another friend's house for coffee in the garden. J's house is a picture perfect cottage, complete with thatched roof and a garden to die for. I am green with envy! In her paddock she has a grass labyrinth that they designed and created for her youngest daughter's wedding last year. We had fun walking it - it didn't look huge on first inspection, but it was so intricate that it took a lot longer than you would think.
 R and I took a trip to Mottisfont Abbey. We have driven by here before, but this was our first visit. We were about a week too late to see the roses in their full glory, but it was still lovely. R was a little confused initially as there were lots of dead heads on the plants. Then a sign informed us that many of the old fashioned roses only have a single flush of blooms and they leave the dead heads in order to get the hips in autumn.




I moved E into her new flat in Bristol. Her room is lovely and is the only one in the whole house with access to the garden - I don't know if that means that she will have to tend it! After humping numerous boxes, unpacking and risking life and limb climbing on the furniture to put fairy lights around the room, we treated ourselves to dinner at Falafel King. It was also a bit of a celebration as she had just found out that she had got a First in her degree. Very proud Mummy moment!
L's boyfriend, J, has a birthday coming up soon. L had told me that he had lost his hat recently so, despite the fact that his birthday is in August, I knitted him a new one. My reasoning was that if I waited until Christmas he would have had cold ears for a good couple of months! I plan on making him matching gloves for Christmas. We are having a 'Recycled' Christmas this year. All presents have to be either homemade or bought from charity shops, car boot sales etc.  I'll let you know how it goes!
A trip to the Watermill Theatre to see Sir Ian McKellen. He is doing a tour of the country to celebrate his 80th birthday. We were very lucky to get tickets. Initially we missed out as they all sold within the first 3 minutes of going on sale. They put us on the waiting list and we were thrilled when we received a call saying that someone had dropped out and would we like 2 tickets. YES, PLEASE!
He was absolutely brilliant and you would never believe that he is 80. He also stood at the exit with a collecting bucket at the end of the show to raise money for the Watermill's charity of choice this year.
 I've picked numerous posies of sweet peas for the table:
 .....and admired my geraniums - or are they pelargoniums? I love the smell of these; they remind me of my Mum who always used to grow them in her little lean to. One of the buckets I bought at a car boot sale. The other 2 we found on a walk when we came across a pile of rubbish that people had dumped near a river. L bravely climbed over the detritus to get to them and R braved the funny looks as he carried them the rest of the way home!
I finally got around to making bunting to go on the shed. Amazingly, R doesn't mind it too much! I also planted up an old sink with alpines. I'm hoping it will get enough sun where it is.
Finally, I tried my hand at rag rug making. I like how it feels underfoot but am finding it tricky to know where to increase at the ends. Knowing that I was going to be doing this, I collected together some old pillow cases and also bought an old sheet from Oxfam, thinking that the colours would look good. It was only when I got it home that I noticed the strong smell of moth balls! It has been washed twice but there is still a faint whiff of naphthalene. I'm hoping it will fade with time.
Well, that's all for this week. I'm just off into town as there is a pop up zero waste shop happening today and I need to stock up on sesame seeds and nuts. I can't be too long though - that tennis won't watch itself!

Toodle pip for now. x