Friday, 26 February 2010

Not very much going on

It's been nearly three weeks of sniffs and sneezes, a time when energy has to be mustered to just get through the working day and get home to collapse in a sorry heap. Not much of anything has been done, but an effort has to be made this weekend to prepare the house for a celebration next week. The eldest daughter will be 21 and she will come home from university to share a family meal with grandparents, aunt, uncle and little cousins. Unfortunately daughter number two will be absent, on a college trip to London to visit the BBC and the Houses of Parliament, so not something she can miss really. I'm sure her big sister will save some cake for her!

I have started the fleece, it spins nicely but I really need alot of practice so it's fortunate that it was so cheap.

I bought some gorgeously soft wool 'Hug' which knitted up extremely quickly into a nice chunky jumper for me. I tried to take a decent photo but the light was not helpful. The balls were on sale for 69p each so I am very pleased with the result.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Split Ply Braiding - having a play

Last Sunday my friend Cath and I went to a workshop on Split Ply Braiding. I didn't know what to expect but had an enjoyable day sat around a table of like minded ladies, having a play with threads, learning how to make cord (lots of winding a contraption - aptly called a 'Cord Winder'!) and coming home with some samples of braiding, which I will make into key fobs.

Very basically it is a braiding technique using plied cords (often 4-ply) which actually go through each other. It is a traditional method for making camel girths, harnesses and similar items in India, but it has evolved into a craft technique that can also be used to create three- dimensional structures like hats, and belts and jewelery. A small tool, not unlike a latch hook for rugmaking, called a Grip Fid, is used to push through the threads in a way that braids a pattern.

The samples on the left are mine, and the other picture shows Caths. I was quite pleased but it won't be a craft that I will pursue, Cath on the other hand was much taken with it and bought supplies to continue at home. The expert was a very nice lady called Julie Hedges.

We all brought something for lunch so that was nice as well, my contribution was Lemon Cheesecake. Isn't it good to spend some time fiddling, experimenting with colour, learning something new and satisfying that need to 'play'? Even if it means that the ironing didn't get done at the weekend!!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A pleasant weekend.

A relaxing weekend was needed and that's what I've had. Puttering around the home, some washing, ironing and a good amount of knitting. I also popped into a few thrift shops and I think I have found a few bargains.
In the Cats Protection League this lovely wool, all ready to spin. A whole bag for £2.50. I think I will spin, knit and felt a bag with it. I am not sure what type it is, is very soft - Merino perhaps? I am still a complete novice at this!

In the Cancer Research three balls of Click for £1.50 - lovely.

This is on the way to being a tea cosy, not for me though because my kitchen is blue and yellow! I might do a few of these I think.

I cannot believe how quickly the weekends go by. We will be starting a new project at work in the next couple of weeks and things will get even more manic than they already are. The weekends will be even more precious then.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A Return

I was looking over my blog during the Christmas holidays and it confirmed to me that I have missed blogging. It was a time consuming hobby, what with posting and reading others posts. At the time I lapsed the demands on me were too much and something had to give. However, what I have come to realise is that the world of blogging was one that inspired me to do things, try harder and learn more. I also have missed taking photos which are a lasting record of my life here in Shropshire, one that I can always look back on and keep as a history for my children (and hopefully grandchildren).

Quite alot has changed since my last post. I hated my part time and well paid job, it took alot of effort and some considerable time to change, and when change came it was a big one! I now work 40+ hours a week in a stressful, lower paid role, but with really great people around me. I have made my choice but of course it means much less time to do the things that inspire me. Nevertheless I will do it gladly for now, and will attempt in 2010 to return to the things that give me pleasure.

Two plus points are that my new job is no more than 1/2 a mile from my front door, and the view from my office window is this . The hedge is gorse and blackberry, there is a gently sweep down across glorious farmland, and then up to Titterstone Clee. I never get tired of this view, it changes every day. Today the Clee is obscured by yet more snow clouds.

Finally, how brave are these little ones?

Friday, 21 November 2008

My neighbour decided to get rid of this tree so down it came today, in portions. That handsome tree surgeon (yes he was very handsome!) is alot higher up than it looks. Now if only the great big fir tree that has over shadowed my vegetable patch could also be brought down. It blocks the sunlight and a super view. The tree is staying though so the veggie patch is being moved, that means the digging up of our lawn and alot of work.
Rather than work or Christmas preparation, some procrastination and play went on in the kitchen. The photos aren't great because of the sunshine streaming though the window - but these were terrific fun to make

I went to a Pampered Chef party recently and treated myself to this little decorating set. They are really easy to use and I am very pleased with them.
Pampered Chef Decorating Set

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


A few days of precious holiday. I have decided that this break will be for me, how selfish is that? I have just felt lately that I need some time to myself, time to do nothing, perhaps finish a few ufo's, read, think, but mainly just see where it takes me.

This morning I have been puttering around, talking to the chickens, tidying the kitchen a little and drinking tea. Tea with chocolate traybake and a browse through one of my favourite books.

A few years ago I got a book out of the library. The only thing I could remember about the title was that it had the blurb 'Marion - the story of a medieval housewife' on the front cover. The story of Marion captivated me and stayed in my mind, so years later I decided to buy it. It took me 2 or 3 years to eventually find it, this time as 'Medieval Woman', by Ann Baer.

Poor Marion! To suffer the hardships and deprivations of a medieval life. Usually this time is written about from the romantic point of view of kings and knights and ladies. Marion knew nothing of those things, only the daily struggle for life on a subsistance level. The book follows a year in the life of the village, the daily routines interspersed with festivals that marked the seasons. The relationship which the serfs had with the hall. In Marions village the master was fairly benevolent, how people fared in under harsher stewardship I would hate to imagine.

Here is an excerpt from April

Peter had at last completed the plough he had been making to Rollo's orders, and today, as a sort of unofficial holiday, he was at home attending to the garden. Peterkin was with him, to Marion's pleasure, for she knew it sealed a relationship between father and son which she valued as part of Peterkin's training to be an adult. For the past weeks Peterkin had been out before dawn in all weathers, up in the new-sown fields, throwing stones and shouting at the rooks, and had returned home an exhausted wisp of a child, red-faced, red-fingered, re-eared and with a croaking voice. (Peterkin was around 8 years of age).

Today was peaceful and Marion felt content. With the top and bottom halves of the door open, the cottage was light inside. Marion had busied herself with sorting and tidying, stacking up her spools of spun wool, getting in logs, sweeping the ground round the fire clear of bits of straw, grinding some dried beans in the stone quern, always with half an eye on Alice who sat quietly on the floor sweeping up the dust into little ridges with her fat palms. The sun shone, but the wind, flickering over the new shiny grass had a chilly edge. Marion went out, pulling up her clothes, and squatted at the edge of the dunghill. She concentrated on excreting for a while, then her attention went to a bluebottle, newly awakened by the warm sun, which had landed on a dead leaf near her foot. She looked at its brilliant iridescent blue body, watched it stroking its front legs together. Then it flew to somehing vividly green nearby. It was the remains of a mallard drake's head, probably last year's, that had been thrown to Tibtab and which the cat had eventually abondoned. Old though it was, the brilliant green feathers still blazed with that strange unearthly colour in the sunlight. Marion watched the bright blue jewel walking on the bright green feathers, so strange, so unlike any colour in nature. If questioned, Marion would have said that both drakes' heads and bluebottles were part of nature, yet the very strangeness of these colours made her wonder if they were not supernatural, some lost angel's jewels or devil's snares. Just for the moment she wondered at the sudden flood of delight that these rare and glistening colours illuminated in her mind. It was not a thought that she would ever have tried to express. Then, realizing she had finished, she pulled some new-sprouted dock leaves growing by and wiped her bottom, for she had been brought up to be cleanly.

The goat had had her kid recently, a nice little nanny, at present sucking at her mother's teats. Marion filled up the goat shed water butt and pulled some more hay down to the goat's mouth level. She stroked the old nanny but did not touch her baby. Marion had already planned that she would allow the kid all her mohter's milk for a few weeks, then when grass was more plentiful, wean her, so that come summer the kid would be a perfect gift to the hall. A healthy nanny kid would be a valuable present and would free Marion from other obligations to the hall for some time. As the kid was weaned so Marion would steadily milk the goat and there should be plenty of milk and cheese for many months. The grass before the cottage already looked plentiful - perhaps she would get the goat out of doors next day if Peter would help tether her. It was all very satisfactory.

In these days of credit crunch and legitimate worry about the economy and the effect it is or could be having on us, reading this book again has reinforced in me how very fortunate me and my family are. To have good food, a change of clothes, warmth and the love of family, how wealthy I am!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Apples on an Autumn Day

So, this is how to spend a very enjoyable, very tiring, Sunday afternoon.

Take some good friends, with a few sacks of apples....

and one Scratter, ready to go.....

Place the apples in a barrel of water, a mix of varieties is always best....

Constantly feed said apples through the Scratter....

Buckets (and buckets and buckets!) of apple pulp result......

This then gets put through the Press, a little muscle power here helps.....

Phew! Now what is needed is more friends with more apples and another press

Oh and more friends with more apples!!!!!

The resulting apple juice (lots of it!) now ready for cider making, wine making (my choice) and for freezing to be savoured through the winter months.

Of course lovely food, good company, a lovely autumn day and lots of glasses of refreshing apple juice make for a perfect combination.