Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Everything is finished, Deah and Anya's quilts are posted, have arrived safely and are waiting under their Christmas tree. We have just enough snow to be correctly seasonal and enough mince pies to feed an army... Thank you to everyone who ordered quilts this year, I love to think they are all in use during the cold weather. Also thank you for all the kind e mails I  have had about how much you like the quilts I make. It's so encouraging! Some of you have babies on the way , so there will be more quilts to make next year and my news is that I will be a Granny for the first time in July - very exciting!
So now the sewing room door is shut. The wood burner stove is successfully lit. Stockings are hung up and tonight we wait..... Happy Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Winter frosts

In between the wild winter storms there have been several frosty mornings here. Our poor garden has been blown about by whooshing winds and driving rains. Some nights I have feared for the greenhouse filled with shivering geraniums, still bravely flowering. Then there are the early mornings when frosty diamonds glitter everywhere. There is a raw bite to the wind and the blackbirds hang around the kitchen door, waiting to be fed. Walking down the garden one morning, I realised the hydrangeas were putting on a spectacular show. Three big bushes had gone into colour overdrive. I was thinking about the quilt I am making for Charlotte and suddenly there were the colours reproduced in the garden. Each flower with a delicate rim of icy glitter which lasted until mid morning. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

The magic apple tree

On Sunday I had a lovely time in the garden raking leaves. An enormous pile of leaves is such a satisfactory thing, I felt I had completed a very big job using a lot of energy. No excuse was needed for that extra choccy biscuit..... I had worked very hard. The big heap showed I was worth it, and maybe a third one too........... Sitting with my coffee at the picnic table, the light was fading, the afternoon nearly gone. I looked at the apple tree, it was decorated with golden bobbles. Like the most expensive Christmas tree. The setting sun made the apples glow. It reminded me that it is time to read my favourite book, The Magic apple Tree by Susan Hill. She writes about the seasons in her rural home in Oxfordshire. If you haven't read it, you have a huge treat in store and you need to read it at least twice a year.  I hope you love it as much as I do.........

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Using things up

Still on the theme of knitting, I must show you my latest project. It involves Using Things Up, a great virtue of my mum, who never threw wool away. So here it is, my Mystical Stripe Jumper. That is the name of the pattern, which I must say I am not following entirely. Well hardly at all really. Soon I will own a fabulous and not at all eccentric jumper. And all knit from my  hoard of blue and purple wools. In stripes. And simple Fairisle blobs. It will be unique and I will be mystically striped from shoulder to hip.....I may show you when it is finished, just another arm to go.......


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Christmas shopping

Have you noticed there is a lot of Christmas music about when you are shopping? If I don't concentrate very hard on my shopping list, it is very easy to find I am singing along.  Yesterday, as I trundled down the cereals aisle I was horrified to realise that I was rocking along to 'All I want from Christmas is you....'. Yes, singing merrily.  In the paint shop, choosing a lovely lemon yellow colour, I hummed along. And to the shocked face of the young boy assistant who appeared around the end of the display of paint tins, I found myself murmuring 'Santa baby, just hurry down the chimmey tonight...... 'in the breathy tones of Marilyn.......he disappeared rapidly, looking rather pale! This is a terrible photo due to Christmas cheer in wine glass form.....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A little nap

My gorgeous grandaughter has several little naps each day. My voice on skype seems to send her to sleep. Like a soothing lullaby. Or a boring television programme in the evening! Here in my garden it is time to put plants to sleep for the winter. The roses are pruned down to prevent root rocking in the cold winds, old plants are cleared away and precious ones are tucked up with warm blankets of compost mulch. But what to do with my aubergine plants? Which have not produced a single aubergine.... On turning over a leaf I found the plant was a comfy hotel for several guests. A winter retreat for people who don't mind sharing a room, who are happy snuggled up together....The plant is going into the green house, I haven't the heart to compost it and evict them!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Charlotte and Betty

Last weekend husband and I went to a local farming show. It was a lovely autumn day and the animals were looking at their best. Pigs and piglets brushed and polished, the heavy horses with tails plaited and manes bright with ribbon. The sheep fluffed up, long ringlets  curled like Victorian girls, everyone so proud of their poultry and stock. The gymkhana was in full swing. Little moppets clinging on tightly to the saddles of their ponies as, with huge aplomb and steely determination they charged around the jump course. Charlotte on Cobweb got a clear round and were very pleased, extra polo mints for Cobweb tonight I should think. 

 At the dog agility course enthusiasm was everything. Dogs of all shapes flung themselves around the obstacles, tails waving madly. The wrong way through the tunnel, halfway up the ramp, miss out the difficult weaving rods, who cares, we're all having fun!  Some people dressed up for the occasion, taking account of the threat of rain. It is important to feel a cold wind won't spoil the day for you........ so Betty chose her outfit with great care....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Winter knitting

I rarely get time to venture into Lincoln, but last week I rushed in to meet a friend. My highly tuned fashion sense ( ha! )  instantly noted that there is a lot of knitting  about. In fact there is a lot of knitting everywhere. And there are Ponchos! I can't remember when we last had ponchos, maybe 1975....... I was astonished. On arriving home I dived into my extensive knitting pattern boxes and found this, saved by my mum from Woman's Weekly magazine. There they stand, gazing dreamily, a gentle smile on their faces, wrapped in their ponchos and now the height of fashion again. I expect you would all like a copy of this pattern. So that you too can knit or crochet your own poncho. And stand, looking poised and sophisticated, as they do... or you can just gaze in awe. Did we really wear such things? Please send photos........

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Small pleasures

There are things which we do every day which are mundane, repetitive, even boring. For me, many of these jobs are to do with housework. I once read about a writer whose hobbies were dusting, hoovering and ironing, but, she wrote sadly, that there was little time for her hobbies in her busy life. But there are ways that we can make these things more enjoyable. So now I have spotty pegs. And they came in a delightful box with a picture of a glamorous lady in a frilly apron. She looked so happy. And strangely, I feel happy when the washing is pegged out. With the spotty pegs. Such a simple pleasure to see them sitting all jolly on the line, but the mundane business of washing pegging is all the better for them!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Northumberland folk

I have neglected the blog I know. I have been having long conversations with my new grandaughter on Skype and admiring her dimples and gorgeous chubby thighs.  But we have also been to the north for a visit. Husband had an important meeting and I sauntered around Alnwick. I took my picnic to the countryside, it was a beautiful day. The local folk were very friendly. Everyone came to say hello and look enquiringly at my sandwiches. But when it came to the Polos I knew there wouldn't be enough to go round. So I felt mean, I didn't share, I hoped they wouldn't notice. But I did rub their ears and chat for quite a while...........

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dentists and delights

Yesterday I went to the dentist. I go because I am more scared of what will happen if I don't go. Life's a careful balance! To get there I walked along the Marina side, admiring the boats in the sunshine. Then I heard a loud whooshing and thwacking noise and to my delight seven swans decided to try the pond weed at the far end of the water. In careful formation so not to bump into each other, they ran along the surface of the water. Large webbed feet, toes spread wide, they slapped down on the water. Wings outstretched and beating hard and fast, the huge, heavy birds took off with enormous grace. It took the length of the marina to get airborne. Would they clear the bridge?  With careful calculation, they glided underneath and out the other side. It reminded me of a sculpture I saw in Newcastle on Tyne recently. And going to the dentist wasn't so bad after all.

Friday, 5 August 2011

A very special holiday

Throughout July I have been in Singapore. It was a very special trip to meet my first grandaughter. I may be biased but she's gorgeous, so new, skin so soft  and hair all fluffy. I took along things I had made for her, a pink velvet rabbit, tiny cardigans, a coloured blanket I knitted in the winter. Also a baby dress which her mum once wore.  I was so glad that my daughter was safely delivered and her new girl was well. Did my mum have the same worries for me? I remember her making little baby nighties, arriving with apple crumbles, holding my daughters with such care. It's a precious gift to be a granny.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Garden problems

In my English garden I have a fiberglass wild boar near the pond. And blackbirds who have eaten all the raspberries. The bees which frequent the borage have nasty tempers and the squirrels bury walnuts. But my troubles are small. Denise in Ohio on the other hand, has racoons. The racoons have babies. And the babies are badly behaved. They use her pot plants as a litter tray. Now they have discovered the bird feeder. Here is the photo she sent me. I will stop complaining about my squirrels.......... and the racoons do look so cuddly!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Young families

In our garden there are several young families being raised at present. The parents look tired and rumpled, rushing about in a distracted manner. Regular mealtimes are so important and snacks are required constantly. The babies, often more than one per family, are demanding. As big as their parents, they shout and yell for more food. They are not fussy, any worm will do, beetles, wire worms, bugs of all sorts are stuffed into their beaks by fond mums and dads. Today I was digging in the garden and a blackbird dad was constantly under my feet. As soon as the spade turned the earth, he was there. Catching food I couldn't see. Sometimes his beak was so full, everything was dropped like a carrier bag failure in a supermarket. Big worms fought back. But off he flew and then back again for more. Under a bush sat his sulky offspring. Beak wide open. But then baby hopped off. Dad arrived, lots of worms at the ready, so worried . Where was that baby? It should have stood still, stayed where it was left, done as it was told........and now the wrens have the same problem........and the robins....... 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A birthday present

Husband has been given a rather special birthday present. It arrived carefully wrapped, a bulky and awkward parcel to carry. Was that a tail and could that be four ( rather rigid ) feet sticking out of the paper? It came on the train with daughter, she was asked if it was a dog..... whatever did that person think?? Husband was thrilled, it was just the thing. The present stood in the study for several days. It made me jump every  time I entered the room. It wasn't scary, it had rather a shy smile, but it seemed out of place. So this morning we went for a walk. Together. And now amongst the buttercups, in a damp corner of the garden, where he can rootle in the mud  when we are not looking, stands the birthday wild boar...........

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Everyday throughout the cold weather he arrived outside the back door. He spent the day lurking under the bird feeder, sometimes perching on the back door ledge hoping for bread. I called him William, a very beautiful wood pigeon. Very soon it was clear he was bigger than the other pigeons. Much bigger. So he became William the biggest pigeon in the world. But a sad day has come. William couldn't escape the sparrow hawk. A pile of  feathers lay on the path, gorgeous shades of grey, pink and faintly blue. He had become a breakfast . I quite miss him around the kitchen door. So I have made a fabric picture after a workshop with the textile picture maker Janet Bolton. It is in folk art style, and William stands on a step next to a pink tulip from the garden. I have put a large pearl button above him, it's colours are like his feathers. No sparrow hawk in this picture.......but today I heard that three perigrine falcons have hatched on a ledge of Lincoln cathedral. They may be eating the sparrowhawk for breakfast soon....

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A new home

I just wanted to show you the jelly babies new home. Having started out in my sewing room, they have travelled across the world and now some have new homes with the children at the Happy Home Orphanage in Sao Paulo. During daughter's working visit there, two new homes were built, one for a family of seven. So much happiness was given. It's a two way thing though, a lot was learnt. I hope the jelly babies behave themselves.........

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Lovely daughter has been learning Portuguese and now she is off to Brazil. While she is there she will be living with families. What could she take as presents for the smallest children? Then I remembered that when our other lovely daughter went to China, I made finger puppets. I started off with gingerbread men. Then I branched out into jelly babies. There is a slit in their backs so little fingers can slide down into their legs and make them run along. In China they were a success and it delights me to think that they may still be making children smile there. So here they are, lined up, no luggage, waiting to fly off to Brazil, maybe with a packet of real jelly babies to keep them company...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Knitting for babies

There are going to be two new babies in our family this year, so Anne are I are reaching for our knitting needles. My mum was a great knitter and kept lots of old patterns. I found this little booklet in her folder. This is an essential list for the best dressed baby in  1952.......on the front cover you can see a picture of Nurse Vincent who wrote the pamphlet. She writes that you will need 4 long sleeved woollen vests, 4 pairs of woollen knitted leggings, 4 woollen knitted nighties, 6 day gowns, 4 pairs of knitted boots reaching to the knee, 1 large knitted woollen shawl, knitted bonnets, woollen gloves.... and so the list goes on. She also tells you how to boil cow's milk, adding sugar and cod liver oil for a new baby, but that's another story. So Anne and I had better start knitting. There's not much time if we are going to produce all these vests.........

Monday, 28 February 2011

Sharing and loving

Over the last two weeks there have been dreadful arguments in the garden. Over the coconut bird feeder. The robin found it first and it's his. There's no doubt in his mind, except when the squirrel arrives. Then he takes a back seat and grumps from the privet hedge. But otherwise he thinks 'It's mine all mine, want to fight about it?' As soon as anyone else arrives to feed, he is there. Wings whirling, red tummy sticking out and hurling abuse at the unsuspecting visitor. Blackbirds bluetits, even a woodpecker are seen off. And then he perchs smugly takes the occasional peck at it, he's won the day. Again. Until a beautiful hen robin appeared and now he's in love. 'Come over any time and share my coconut shell.... no strings attached.... I don't expect more....' he sings. ' I've found a lovely old teapot wedged into the hedge, it would make a great home for a family...' Will she fall for him? Ignore his bossy ways? He has a very beautiful red waistcoat after all, he's a handsome chap.... 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Spring walk

Pam, her three dogs and I have  started taking walks together. I'm not very fit but I reckon if a Cairn terrier can do the miles, then I can too. On a lovely spring day we set off from a village  nearby. We passed a tiny church, went inside for a look and came across this fellow. He lay peacefully snoozing in the sun, little dog at his feet and two angels at his head. Fully dressed in chain mail. With very stylish shoes and spurs. Rather a narrow hard place to lie, and he had been there for some time in his sunny resting place. We sat  with him for a few minutes then with our own little dogs we were on our way again.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


I have been meaning to mend the stitching on daughter's Ugg boots for some time. They are clumsy boots which seem to make people  shuffle rather than walk. So I mended the unravelling threads and sprayed them with  suede protector. But I had never tried a pair on. What would they feel like? So in went my feet and what bliss! Warm cosy toes, a soft feeling under my heels and draft free ankles in the sewing room.... I  was reluctant to take them off and when I did my feet were freezing, so I put them back on.... and now they have been stolen..... by her mother... and I don't intend to give them back!  I am shuffling happily with very warm toes.... and rather snazzy tights too....

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


On Saturday I went on a hunt in the garden in the faint hope there would be snowdrops. Maybe in some sheltered corner there would be a sign of the spring we all long for. There are some other bulbs  showing above ground and tiny buds on the shrubs, but closed tightly against the cold wind. We need to make a big decision about the raspberry canes.... whether to dig them up and plant anew, but that requires much armchair thinking and leafing through gardening books and  plant brochures..... So no snowdrops yet. But there was one flower  bravely putting a head above the rim of a pot. A sweet little face, a bit pale, so delicate but perfectly formed. I shall carry on  looking for snowdrops too. It can't be long now!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


Happy New Year everyone! And in the hopefulness of the new year my mind has turned to aerobic classes. But not for long..... I feel a bit lazy about it really, so maybe yoga with Pam would be easier... But in everyday life there is lots of exercise. There's hoovering, running upstairs, lifting shopping in and out of the car. But some people go to extremes. Stretches and bending which go a little too far. People should think carefully before they attempt this one...........