Friday, 14 December 2018

Model villages, willow, photography, and Handel

Christmas greetings from here on the riverbank. E will be home from uni soon, so this is likely to be my last post before the big day. December seems to be flying by and we still haven't bought our Christmas tree. Tomorrow is the day for that, and maybe to buy some outdoor lights. We had some years ago, but failed to replace them when needed. Consequently, our house looks a little Scroogey compared to the neighbours'! 
I don't want to go as far as the house down the road that looks like something from 'Deck the Halls', but a few token lights in the crab-apple tree I could live with. 
I have been enjoying all the Vlogmas podcasts on You Tube, annoying R with my Winter Wonderland CD in the car, opening my yarny advent calendar, and lighting my candles. Most of the shopping is done, so I'm all ready to look after my girls when they come home. Both of them have been working really hard, so I just want to take care of them for a while.

Here then are my photos for this month:

A trip to Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. There was so much to do here that we didn't see everything. We plan to return in the summer:
 They had a gorgeous model village:

There was also a fantastic charity shop. Lovely things at reasonable prices, which isn't always the case. I bought a sweet watercolour for the princely sum of £2.50. I already had a suitable frame, so it's now hanging in our stairwell, reminding me of our day out whenever I pass it.

Next was a trip to Bristol with my friend, S. We started the day at Carluccio's which does a fantastic vegan breakfast - borlotti beans on ciabatta with wilted spinach, griddled courgettes and tomatoes. YUM!
 After pottering round the Christmas markets, we visited M Shed to see this year's photography exhibition.
 S bought a postcard of our favourite:
 We finished the day with mocktails at The Cosy Club:

E had an essay deadline, so I did my Deliveroo act and stopped by briefly to give her a pizza before driving home.

My advent calendar. The miniskeins are going into my cosy memory blanket each day. I might make some scrappy socks with the leftovers.
 A willow workshop at the local museum. The large willow wreath is now wrapped in ivy on my front door. Unless you happen to know that I actually made the willow circle, it looks a bit sad!
 A trip to Bath to collect E and take her back to Bristol. She had a busy day. She has taken up Ballroom and Latin dancing and had a competition in Bath in the morning. She then had to return to Bristol for a concert in the evening. As we were going to the concert, and Bath was en route, we collected her. We dropped in here for lunch which was very nice. I tried banana blossom 'fish' and chips and, I know I haven't eaten fish since 1984, but it tasted just like it to me!
 A photo of our concert ticket. Isn't that a great acronym?!
 My advent candle, bought at Gloucester Cathedral earlier this year:
 R bought last minute tickets for this. We seem to have caught every cold going recently. R caught one at work, E at uni and L in London. Then we all got together for L's birthday and swapped viruses. It was my turn to feel rough on December 5th. I'd made a vegetable stew and was planning an evening on the sofa with my book and a Lemsip. Then R rang me to tell me that he had tickets and could I meet him at the cinema in an hour and bring a picnic. I was a little unenthusiastic, but it's testament to how good the play was that it was all worthwhile. I feel I may have annoyed some of the audience by coughing and sneezing through most of it though!
 Trying my hand at the 'quilt as you go' method. I loved it.
According to R, Christmas doesn't begin until he has heard Handel's 'Messiah'. For his birthday, I bought tickets for a performance at the Sheldonian in Oxford. We had dinner at Edemame followed by a vegan mince pie and coffee at Blackwell's before the concert.

The concert was excellent. I haven't been in the Sheldonian since L's graduation and I had forgotten how good the acoustics are. In true George II style, we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus and the choir, although relatively small in number, belted it out like champions. It brought a lump to my eye!

Well, that's all for this week. May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a joyful, peaceful Christmas. I'll see you on the other side.

Toodle Pip for now. x

Friday, 16 November 2018

I Have Internet, People!

Well, Richard Branson's ears must be on fire the amount that I have cursed Virgin Media over the past 6 weeks. Not having a smart phone (mine is a hand me down from E and it's actually her last but 1 phone!) I rely on my laptop for checking emails etc. Our internet has been intermittent for the last 6 weeks and completely non-existent for the past week and a half. I didn't mind it for a while; it made a nice change being comparatively cut off from the outside world. It started to irk me when I began decorating L's room and couldn't have my usual Audible playing in the background. I worried that people would have emailed me and think that I was ignoring them, and then the cherry on the cake: I traveled to Oxford to attend a colourwork workshop at the Oxford Yarn Store, only to find that they had cancelled it ...... by email. It wasn't their fault, and I did end up having a lovely day doing a bit of Christmas shopping, but still. Their customer service also sucks. After spending quarter of an hour listening to pop music, you eventually get through to someone in India who can only say that there is a problem in your area (we know!) and give us a completely fictitious date when it will be repaired. We know it is fictitious because the said date came and went 6 times (yes, we kept ringing India!), and eventually they admitted that it was probably made up. It wasn't their fault, so there was no point taking out our frustration on them, but it was difficult when there was no way of contacting anyone in the UK to find out what the problem actually was. We were just on the verge of changing providers when it miraculously returned. We will probably swap anyway as we are just too annoyed. 
Anyway, rant over. Sorry.

Here then are the photos from the past month that have been languishing on my camera waiting to be uploaded:
A day trip to Abingdon for lunch and a potter round:
 Raiding the veggie patch for our Hallowe'en pumpkin. The jar is some pumpkin butter - one of the presents that our lovely neighbours brought us back from America for cat sitting. It's yummy.
 Carving said pumpkin - it made some of the best pumpkin soup we've had in ages.
A trip into London to attend this:

It was held in the Central Hall in Westminster. I bought a Coop Knits book of patterns and 3 skeins of yarn, one of which is now a hat.
The Central Hall was opposite Westminster Abbey, so I joined the queue to get in and paid my respects to Stephen Hawking - he is in illustrious company, sandwiched between Newton and Darwin.
 R works just down the road, so I popped in to meet up with him before we went for dinner. His office has quite a view: 
 It's also a great place to catch the sunset:
 This is where we went to eat. To be honest, I wouldn't really recommend it; both of us were disappointed with our meal.
My autumn view from the kitchen window:
Our friendly woodpecker:
 More painting. I finished the actual walls etc. quite quickly. There is a run of 8 cupboard doors down one wall though that is taking me forever. 
 Having fun with Bosh! Bowls:
 A paint your own Christmas decoration workshop at our local museum: 
 Remembering how tricky it was to paint the tiles last time, I kept my designs quite simple. Here they are before firing:
 A trip to the theatre. It was okay, but not the best play we've ever seen:
 A trip to Bristol to catch E between essays!
As it was Remembrance Sunday, we were lucky to get there just in time to pay our respects with 2 minutes' silence at the war memorial. For obvious reasons, I didn't use my camera then, but I really like the soldier silhouettes that have been on display around town:
 R was desperate to see The Great Britain, so we humoured him. He was thrilled to discover that the tickets are valid for a year ....... E and I less so!

 After knitting L a pair of Pride socks a while ago, I managed to squeeze a pair for E out of the leftover yarn by adding contrasting heels, toes and cuffs:
 The Harvest Hat, made with one of my Yarnporium  purchases. Weird lighting, sorry.
 Finally, a photo of the yarn store where my workshop didn't take place! It is a lovely shop though.
Well, that's all for the moment. Perhaps I'd better take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2019. Well, you never know with our internet! Enjoy the weekend.

Toodle Pip for now. x

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Autumnal Snippets

Hello there! It's been a while since my last post, mainly owing to internet problems - Virgin Media have been extremely hit and miss over the last 3 weeks but it is supposedly fixed now, so fingers crossed.
Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who left sympathetic comments on my last post regarding my transport, or lack thereof, and my almost pathological attachment to my faithful car. I am very pleased to announce that Lily rides again! Her knight in shining armour, R, managed to mend her so, for the time being anyway, we are back on the road together.
L and J are home at the moment, on their way back to London after spending a few (mercifully sunny) days in a yurt in Wales. They have just popped into town, so I am grabbing the opportunity to upload a few photos.
I have been reveling in the gloriously sunny autumn weather that we have had recently. Autumn is my favourite season, and I have been thoroughly enjoying the combination of blue skies and golden leaves.

Here then, are a few snaps from the last month:
The first lighting of the stove of the season:
 Hamish enjoying an ear rub in front of it:
 Finishing my 'Cyprus Socks' - yarn bought in 'Stephen and Penelope' in Amsterdam:
Casting off my 'Featherweight Cardigan'. Pattern by Hannah Fettig, and yarn from 'Stranded Dyeworks' in the 'Industrial Kingfisher' colourway:
Casting on the 'Garter Breeze Shawl' by Stephen West:
 What can I say? Ian McKellen - sheer brilliance:
 Gloucester Cathedral: 
 Stunning cloisters:
  The nearby Beatrix Potter shop. Rooms were set up in the style of 'The Tailor of Gloucester' - my favourite of her books.
 R finding a caterpillar - any ideas which sort? 
 A trip to the Watermill to see this. Written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, it tells the tale of William Hone who, in 1817, underwent 3 trials in 3 days for libel and blasphemy. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
 Another Cathedral. This time, Salisbury. People come a long way to see this you know! There were flyers for a forthcoming concert entitled 'From Russia with Love'!

Lunch here:
Yummy masala dosa:
 Figsbury Ring in Wiltshire:

 The results of my pottery workshop. The vase now contains some of my colourful vintage knitting needles:
Who would have thought it? Little old Newbury having a vegan festival, and very good it was too!
 The Knitting and Stitching Show at the Alexandra Palace. I bought one skein of Christmas sock yarn and some fabric for a dress:
 Talking of sewing, I had some denim left over from making my pinafore dress (I panicked in the shop and bought too much!). There was just enough for a skirt. Apologies for the weird lighting in this photo:
 My new thali trays. I'm ridiculously excited about these! Clockwise from top left - butternut squash and chick pea kebabs, vegan naan (first time I'd tried making naan since going vegan as I'm not that keen on vegan yoghurt - too sweet - but it was surprisingly okay), chana saag with sweet potato, Sri Lankan dahl with lime and kale and potato and okra curry.
 A trip to Westonbirt Arboretum to see the autumn colours:

 Finally, a trip to Christchurch to paddle in the sea:

Well, that's it for this month. Wishing you all a fun half term filled with sunny autumn days.
Toodle pip for now. x