Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Hello! Sunday found me beetling off to Salisbury to meet up with my oldest (as in 'known the longest'!) friend. We first met in school aged about 7, grew up together, shared a flat at uni and now meet up in the school holidays whenever we can. I arrived a little early having found a much quicker route than the one I usually take, so had time for a coffee and a little read.
We had arranged to meet here for brunch:
 It was just like the name suggests, a sort of gentlemen's club type affair with comfy chairs, sofas and stuffed animal heads (although frankly, I could have lived without those!).
 The food was yummy and I opted for a selection of veggie tapas:
Much catching up later, we went for a wander around the city. A little shopping was done - I was very restrained, opting for just a pair of boots for E which were in a sale (her old ones now having a sole which flaps about and makes her look a bit like a street urchin) - fortunately, they fit! We then headed for the cathedral to have a pot of tea (OK and a slice of Bakewell tart!) in the refectory, before listening to evensong. We also saw their exhibition of the Magna Carta - the cathedral has the best preserved of the original 4 which was lovely to see as this year is the 800th anniversary of its signing.

 The cathedral is stunning. Built in the 13th century, it boasts Britain's tallest church spire (123m/404 ft).

We sat in the choir for evensong which was just magical; the choristers singing was heavenly.We then had to power walk back towards the station so S could catch her train. I had a wonderful day and even the drive home was lovely, with the sun setting slowly behind me.

Other happies this week include:

Finishing my primitive stitching Spring embroidery. I'm not sure whether to hang it as it is or tuck the extra fabric behind, so the frame forms the outer edge - what do you think? I may just store it for a while anyway - it would be nice to complete one for each season and then hang them together. 

This week's library books. I am loving 'H is for Hawk' - it's so beautifully written. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is this month's book club choice. It happens to be my favourite book, so it will be no hardship to reread it. I'm not sure whether or not I'm looking forward to her new one though - it would be so sad if it turned out to be disappointing.
 E sat her Grade 8 piano exam on Monday, so here's a photo of 'Joanna' - it makes me happy because I no longer have to listen to interminable scales!
 The hyacinths are blooming in the garden - this is one of the ones by the front door and its scent makes me very happy when I come home:
It's still cold enough for cups of butternut squash soup though!
 Finally, loaf of the week: Focaccia Pugliese with tomatoes and garlic. I made it this morning and am desperately trying to resist trying a slice as I have a Parent's Evening to go to later and I don't want to breathe garlic fumes over E's teachers!
Anyway, that's all for this week's happies. I hope you've found a little something to make you smile too this week.
Toodle Pip. x

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Hello everyone. I hope you are having an enjoyable week - it's not quite so sunny here as it was but the daffodils and hyacinths are open in the garden, so who could fail to be cheered? 
I'm joining in with Planet Penny's Happy Friday once more and I think my happiest moment this week had to be my trip to Greenwich. E had her final seminar following her trip to Auschwitz last week, so off we trekked to Canary Wharf. 
There may have been a bit of 'use up the stash block knitting' on the train!
........ and perhaps a wee bit more when we arrived early and had to kill some time in a cafe!
When I'd dropped her off, I had 4 hours in which to amuse myself, so hopped onto the Docklands Light Railway and popped over to Greenwich.

My first stop was to see The Cutty Sark. Forgive me if you already know the history of the ship. For those who don't, she is a British Tea Clipper built in 1869. She spent a while on the tea trade before turning to the wool trade from Australia and then was used as a cadet training ship. She is now in permanent dry dock in Greenwich.
The ship was named after Cutty-sark, the nickname of the witch Nannie Dee in Robert Burn's poem 'Tam o' Shanter'. In the poem, she wears a linen sark (chemise) which she had from when she was a child - hence, it was too short or 'cutty'. A man, Tam, a little worse for wear after a night's drinking on market day, comes across some witches dancing. At first he watches quietly, but then gets carried away and calls out 'Weel done, cutty-sark!'. The witches give chase and Tam spurs his horse, Meg, towards the River Doon, as the witches can't cross a running stream. They come so close to catching him that they pull poor Meg's tail off - seen clutched by the figurehead.

She really is a beautiful ship and visitors can go on board. I didn't this time, deciding instead to visit again with the girls during the holidays.
I rather enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old and the new:
Nearby is Greenwich Market with some interesting stalls and adjacent shops.
I particularly liked the old bottles and tins on this one, but they were a tad pricey!
Looking at this photo - is that a 'No Photography' sign I see? How embarrassing, I honestly didn't notice it at the time!
Greenwich is a beautiful place - R and I have visited in the past, pre-children, to see the observatory, but it will definitely be worth doing a family return visit. All too soon, my 4 hours were up and it was time to collect E. She came out of her seminar rather hungry, so enjoyed a sort of pick and mix veggie sushi picnic on the train ride home.
Other happies this week include:
A bunch of cheery daffs on a rainy day:
Mother's Day treasures from my darling daughters - a much needed new manicure set and a set of tins which I intend to use for a 'patchwork out and about' kit:
Quilting L's graduation present - I just need to sew in a few threads and, rather annoyingly, sort out a few creases on the back. I used spray adhesive this time, rather than basting/pins but still had problems. Any hints from more experienced quilters as to how to avoid creases will be very gratefully received!
Finally, On Tuesday I attended a local 'Primitive Stitching' workshop. This is me grabbing a quiet five minutes to work on my March hare:
Now I just have to embroider the leaves and flowers before backing it and blanket stitching around the edge:
Apologies for the rather dark photos - it has been a rather gloomy week so far. 
Anyway, that's all for this week's happies. Wishing you all a fun and, I hope, sunny weekend. 
Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 12 March 2015


Greetings everyone! Is it just me or is there a distinct smell of Spring in the air? Last Saturday was absolutely glorious round these parts and it felt so lovely to be out in the garden, enjoying the sun. Even pegging out the washing was fun, accompanied, as it was, by the sound of church bells, buzzy bees and birdsong. Rather bizarrely, I failed to take any photos at the time, although I did manage a few earlier in the week. It wasn't quite as sunny then but it was a special occasion of sorts ........
the first cup of tea in the garden this year! 
 I admired the bit of blue sky behind the eucalyptus tree:
 and the daffodils, which are almost ready to open:
 Hamish had his first outing of the year. I would have put him out in his run but Foxy Loxy has been lurking - in broad daylight too. The chickens got in a bit of a flap but I was just struck by how beautiful he was. Eventually, I got my act together and chased him off but, unfortunately, there was no time to grab the camera. Hamish, therefore, had to be content with an accompanied run in his harness. Sadly, the colour doesn't show up too well in the photo - it is actually bright pink but he thinks he is manly enough to get away with it!
 Apart from a whiff of Spring, there have been a few other happies this week:
R's carrot cake - it really was a bit of a triumph!
Joining together L's quilt. I've bought the backing and wadding, so just need to actually quilt it now:
 Making lemon curd. It was such a fantastic colour that I couldn't resist taking a photo - like sunshine in a jar:
 I used it to make a lemon and passion fruit pavlova - Michael Sheen made one for the Comic Relief Bake Off (see recipe here) and it was delicious. Please excuse the basket of laundry in the background - I really must learn to style my photos!
 A visit to the library revealed a 'Tales of the Unfinishable' display. People had donated their unfinished WIPs along with a bit of background info:

 I particularly liked the plant pot cover:
 A couple of the new books I picked up whilst I was there:
 And one final happy for this week - I won a giveaway! I was so thrilled to win this from Planet Penny (thank you again, Penny!). The book takes you on a road trip around the United States, with a craft/cooking memento for every state. There's an 'Extreme Grilled Cheese' from Wisconsin (America's Dairyland, producing more cheese per capita than any other state!) for lunch with my name on it!

Actually, I've been up since 2:15 am as I had to take E to Luton Airport for a trip to Poland with the 'Lessons from Auschwitz' Project. I was, in fact, awake from about 12:15 as I was so worried that the alarm would fail to go off! Anyway, it's starting to catch up with me a bit, so I think it may be time for a little nap..............

Enjoy the rest of the week. Toodle Pip for now. x

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Starry, Starry Night

Hello. This week I've finally managed to complete the 12 quilt blocks for L's Graduation Quilt. Tuesday found me playing around, arranging them on the bed as I tried to decide on some sort of order. I've since started joining them together with some of the elephant material. 
A couple of the squares have added embroidery:

It shouldn't take too long to finish the top, then I just have to decide whether I want to hand or machine quilt it. Actually, I may go with a combination: hand quilting around the stars and then quilting in the ditch up and down the dividing strips.

There have been a few other happies this week too:

Purple Lurky Soup! Basically, any veg found lurking in the bottom of the fridge that needed using up. In this case, it included a chunk of red cabbage - hence the interesting colour! R wasn't impressed, even though it tasted much better than it looks!

A new piece of artwork in a local shopping centre. Since someone mentioned 'couples padlocks' on bridges (sorry, I can't remember who blogged about them), I've been seeing them everywhere. Our little bridge near the library had a few and then there was this masterpiece:
A quick trip to Oxford to take L a dress which she needed and had forgotten.
 The Radcliffe Camera:
The Bridge of Sighs - named because of its supposed similarity to the famous one in Venice:
Part of Gloucester Green market - I bought a few cheap embroidery threads and L bought a book on Oxford buildings and gardens:
Lunch at our favourite Chang Mai Kitchen - veggie spring rolls:
Thai red curry and green papaya salad:
A walk around the covered market. I adore this cake shop - the decorators sit in the window working and I could watch them for hours:

This one of an old couple was my favourite - I love the blue icing and the ginger cat. Note the socks with sandles!
Another of my favourite stalls - the cheese shop. I'm addicted to their Oxford Blue:
To work off lunch, we climbed Carfax Tower. The view is amazing, although the climb up an open wrought iron spiral staircase had me quaking a bit. I'm not mad about heights - I'm OK, provided I look out and not down, so the staircase where I had to watch where I put my feet was rather a challenge!
Another cute discovery on the way back to the park and ride bus stop. It's tucked away down a little side street and I must have walked by it many times without noticing it:
My spoils of the day - a fat quarter from the cutesy shop, my threads from the market and my cheese and some passion fruit from the covered market. I saw a recipe for lemon and passion fruit pavlova on the Comic Relief Great British Bake Off. I bought some passion fruit on Monday to make it later in the week but E discovered them so, needless to say, I had to buy some more!
That's all for this week. If you fancy having a peek at what's made some other people smile, pop over to Planet Penny and join in the fun.
Toodle Pip for now. x