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Saturday, 16 November 2019

If you always do what you've always done . . .


(found on Pinterest, no copyright attribution)

I think I first heard that {mumble, mumble} years ago when Oprah was shown on British TV and Dr Phil was all the rage. I love it, a bit like the supposed Einstein quote:



I have taken both quotes on board and am taking it easy until I have fully recovered.  This lurgy is slowly easing; definitely not a cold, probably a flu variant.  I went out yesterday morning - just an hour or so to Sainsbury's and I got M. to drive, but at least it was a different view!  Bumped into a neighbour, long conversation abbreviated: last month her active 20-something daughter was floored by what sounds like exactly the same bug/virus.  Took K. at least two weeks to get back on her feet, so I shall (for once - ha ha) behave differently to my historical norm and try to be sensible  (see above  ðŸ˜Ž ).

Moving on . . . many years ago I looked at lots of little baskets of fabric scraps on my shelves and decided to 'organise' them.  Blog rummaging tells me I was trying to do this back in September 2013.



Clearly I didn't get very far because five years later, the scrap piles had multiplied, rather than reduced.  It seems like much, much longer ago, but rummaging tells me the scraps moved into larger boxes in February 2018 . . . (I enjoyed this particular rummage, Daisy photo-bombed the entire post ☺️ ).





But those tubs are pretty much where the scraps have stayed, apart from the whole lot regularly moving to a different part of the room when I have another 'reorganisation'.

Up to now, the scraps have been sorted by colour which sounds like a great idea.  Unfortunately the scraps are wildly varied in size and shape meaning so much sorting and organising is required before I can do any sewing I tend to lose enthusiasm before I get started.  It would seem that grouping by colour is a big fail.  Time to do things differently  (see above  ðŸ˜Ž ).

The Queen and Supreme Being of scraps is Bonnie Hunter and her 'system' seems to be to organise by size.  In truth, I was a little unsure as to whether it could work for me but heck - what I have been doing up to now is definitely NOT working so I need a new approach  (see above  ðŸ˜Ž ). Weighed down by lurgy, I figured semi-mindlessly moving bits of fabric around without having to actually sew anything was about the limit of what I could manage, and might achieve something in the process.



I had a couple of happy breakthroughs very early on:  I tipped out the first box which came to hand (mostly yellows, orange, browns) and thought "eek, that's a lot of fabric".  So I weighed it . . . and the result was a massive shock.  The contents weighed 1.277kg.  By comparison one metre of beautiful batik weighs 128 grams.  It doesn't take a genius to work out the quantity of yardage jumbled up in a storage tub: 10 metres is enough for a quilt top.  Another 'gem' from Bonnie Hunter is "these 'scraps' originally cost the same as the rest of your yardage" which is a bit scary with today's extortionate fabric prices.





The second breakthrough was to change my thinking (see above  ðŸ˜Ž ) - I wasn't "straightening up and tidying scraps".  Much more motivating to realise that I was preparing the fabric for my next scrap quilt, even if I had not yet decided what it was going to be. So that is where I've been for the last few days - half an hour sorting, an hour sitting down allowing the legs to stabilise and despite far more sitting down than sorting, it was a massive surprise to get to the end of the first box this afternoon.







Delighted with how much progress has been made, although this is not going to be a quick fix:







Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Please sit down before you fall down

An intriguing little vintage:  hints of gelatine through the lower limbs surrounded by a fog of indecision, a metallic overlay to everything apart from occasional moments of no taste at all with occasional portions of extreme dizziness thrown in.   Yuk.

I am now at the end of day five and am Officially Bored With This.  Nowhere poorly enough to lay on the sofa and doze all day.  Nowhere well enough to function like a half-normal person.  Television is as boring as hell but I cannot concentrate on reading - hence being bored, not just with this bug but my inability to do anything.  That's not really true - I wander from one end of the house to another, maybe make the bed or put the washing machine on, and then wander back to sit down for an hour to allow the gelatine in my legs to firm up again before I make another foray somewhere.

It's all a bit tiresome but for once I am being sensible.  This is not a cold so it is probably a variant of whatever the flu bug is going to be this winter.  At times in the past with bugs like this I have had to 'soldier on' and then coped with three to six months of post viral fatigue.  That's monumentally horrible so for once I am prepared to chill out for a couple of weeks and get it over with  (well, that is the cunning plan - only time will tell if it is a success).

In the absence of any activity to blog about I had a rootle through the 'picture backlog'.  This is from April 2018 - apart from birdsong there is absolutely no sound except the camera refocussing when I zoomed in.  It is entirely possible I may watch it another eleventy-seven times before bedtime ☺️


Sunday, 10 November 2019

Pondering . . .

Outside is stunningly beautiful today - crisp and cold, clear sky, more snow on the hills.  It will not last - the forecast for the coming week is one of wind and wet, so frightening for those communities saturated or already flooded.





Sadly I am too ill to enjoy being outside, and cannot do anything more than drift around the house and communicate with M. in a scratchy whisper.  I have not had a cold this bad for many years and am not enjoying it, even less so because we've even dared ask the "is this flu" question.  The woodburner is ready to be lit and far more logs than truly necessary are stacked on the hearth and in the baskets - but it is a comfort, nesting, a luxurious psychological prop.  Once upon a time I did not live the way I do now, I was regularly cold and I have never forgotten how miserable that is.



Last Thursday I did as I had promised and went to my first swimming lesson.  Being in the water was not as bad as I feared it might be, but the thing I was really worried about - getting cold - well, that was a problem.  Our local pool is known for being cold,  I have absolutely no spare body fat and feel chilly at the drop of a hat - it is not a good combination.  Despite taking a small flask with a hot drink, I sat in the changing room after 35 minutes in the water and physically shook so much I could barely drink.  And I cannot avoid the suspicion that's where I picked up this disgusting bug - exposure late Thursday evening, symptoms and illness Saturday morning, 36 hour incubation?

If I go back to the local pool next week I have the support of a neighbour and her daughter, lovely kind people who are experienced teachers, and a superb teacher/student ratio.  And it's cheap . . . but cold.  And takes place after supper on Thursday at a time when I am normally thinking of getting ready for bed.

Or I could sign up at a nearby hotel with a nice spa facility, that is WARM.  I have been and checked it out in the past, it is deliciously WARM, both the water and the surrounding atmosphere.  But it costs more, and there will not be actual tuition, although I'm told the staff will give "guidance" if asked.  And I can visit in the day when I'm not thinking about my duvet.

It sounds like a simple decision but I am vacillating between the desire for proper tuition and the need to avoid hypothermia.

And I am not well enough to make any decisions today.  I cannot even decide whether to have a mug of tea or not 😄ðŸĪŠ


Saturday, 9 November 2019

First snow of 2019

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful . . . "
Actually, not horrendously frightful at all, not compared to the flooding that so many have experienced in Yorkshire and the Midlands.  It was a surprise to see a map on the BBC where Cumbria was almost the only place not under a flood alert.  But here it is much colder than we anticipated and the plans for a day working outside have gone to hell in a handcart.

Through the low cloud, murk and gloom I can just make out the first dusting of white stuff on Skiddaw and Ullock Pike.  It really is that dark and gloomy here today . . .







Grassmoor & Whiteside probably have similar, but the cloud is too low for a clear look.


No posts recently because I realise I have been running on empty for a couple of weeks;  nothing serious, but doing too much without a restorative break.  Which is probably why this morning I unexpectedly keeled over with all the symptoms of a nasty cold and lit the woodburner at 11.00am after sending M. to Sainsbury's.  A day for curling up with hardwood logs slowly releasing their glorious heat, watching all the history programmes I record but take ages to get round to viewing.



Gently and in the background three quilts have been completely finished and are absolutely gorgeous, especially the brushed cotton/homespun scrappy.  Every time I touch or see this quilt it fills my heart, cannot really explain it but this is "one of the special ones".





I showed it to someone who clearly did not agree with me.  In fact, she could barely hide the contemptuous and scornful lip curl as she turned away.  Well sweetheart, you can get on your broom and 'fly' right off, because your own quilts are really not very special and your opinion is not important, I only showed you the quilt out of politeness.  Whooaaaa, nearly an "F" bomb - can you tell I was irritated?  But I cheered myself up pretty quickly with this, thank you Pinterest for the words (the picture is mine) 😃😃



The other two recent finishes are good, but just 'regular quilts' and I wouldn't be surprised if one or both get gifted away at some point.















We've been outside a bit, and yesterday I scored another five big bins full of leaves but it's too dank and miserable to go and take a picture.


Management has continued to work on refurbishing our outside lights, and laying in new conduit and electric cables.  I am meant to be painting a bit of the house wall that got missed last time around but it has not been warm enough.  Instead, I have made a start on painting the greenhouse . . . in the daftest, most fun way I could think of.  Each 'bay' is going to be a different colour with bed, staging and supports all matching.  Although it looks like every section is the same size, there are subtle differences and colour-coding might prevent the annual "which bit is the right length" time-wasting carry-on that always happens when I am setting up the staging for winter.











Thursday, 31 October 2019

Of leaves and logs

Gosh, we've had a busy few days and it has been rather lovely.  Clear skies giving us frost overnight leading to clear skies again the next day - but this is wet  west Cumbria and it will not last so we have made the most of decent weather whilst we could.

Shortly after Management retired we had one of our "big sort outs" and straightened out the over-large quantity of "wood which I might build something with in the garden" that had been acquired over the years.  Thinking about it, virtually nothing except a few fence posts was actually purchased, the rest being scrounged from skips when our neighbours have had new roofs, so it's not like this massive collection owes us anything.  But happily, my days of constantly constructing new stuff for Bag End are winding down and I wanted to use the space behind the log store for something else.  I should also admit that some of the lesser quality timber had succumbed to being outside and wet all the time and was gently rotting away . . .



I sorted into "keep or cut", Management chopped and bagged (he is far more organised and tidy at this sort of job than I am), and after far longer than either of us anticipated - including an emergency trip to Screwfix to replace the mitre saw which finally blew up - there was clear space behind the log store and a humongous supply of "small stuff" ready for the wood burner.











Once the space was clear, it was surprisingly easy to heave two bits of already bent weld mesh into place (something easy? in this garden?  surely not?)  A large piece of netting and a few cable ties later and TA DA.   At this point I was doing my usual of thinking "oh, it's far larger than it needs to be".  Hold that thought . . .



About three houses ago we created a similar massive cage because I had access to a huge quantity of fallen leaves and a couple of years later the resulting leaf mould was one of the most joyous things we've ever created in a garden.  Up until now we have added leaves to the big compost piles and whilst they rot down really well, I wanted to try and keep them separate this year.

We cleared up the garden, the lane and the main path in the churchyard which gave us 15 large wheelie bins full of gardening goodness.  This big pile will shrink down very quickly which is a good thing, because so far only about half the leaves are off the trees.



What a sad girl I am - so happy when the dumping ground between the shed and log store is all tidy like this 😄



We also managed what I would love to think was the last full grass cut of the year, but I suspect there will be at least one more, if not two.








No idea what time of year this perennial fuchsia thinks it is:



There has been more straightening up in the greenhouse, not completely finished but much progress made and I'm looking forward to more tidying up over the next month or so.







It is all rather "pinch me".  With leaves picked up and the grass tidy,  the other "jobs" which the garden requires can happen when they happen: providing I get through the weeding, tidying up, spreading compost, pruning and general sorting out by February/March.  Four or five months is actually a reasonable amount of time to complete those tasks, even with the amount of rain and gnarly weather we can expect.  Good grief - does this mean there is the faintest modicum of a quiet little chance that we could start NEXT season not running to catch up with everything that did not happen the year before?

But in the meantime, it is due to rain over the next couple of days and I have some quilts to finish binding 😍











Monday, 28 October 2019

The return of . . .

I don’t much care for “mojo” although it is the much used modern vernacular but I’m gloriously delighted that ‘something’ which reminds me of ME seems to have returned.


It’s all returns really - I returned from Yorkshire thoroughly happy to be home safe and in one piece. En route I avoided what could have been a painful, expensive and thoroughly nasty accident. If you know the A66, it was the narrow, twisty section just east of Warcop: I was toddling along, saw the car in front hit the brakes HARD and I did the same, plus hazards. Thankfully the chap behind me was also awake and he stopped safely too.

We were coming up to a blind bend, going uphill, with solid double white lines . . . and once a caravan had managed to get past the obstruction I could see there were multiple cars very very stationery, and a lot of people milling about. When I managed to squeeze past, a little Honda Jazz was stopped, in the middle of the carriageway . . . and the four cars who had been behind him were all crashed into one another, dreadful mess. I reckoned the best thing to do was get out of the way but I saw Police arriving from other direction, I expect they would have had to close the whole road pretty quickly after that. There but for the Grace of God and all that . . .




This morning I woke to our first proper frost of the year (return of winter?) which was pretty if not a tad nippy.


















A couple of hours later I returned to the abandoned greenhouse, ostensibly to pot up the daffodil bulbs that Ellie had reminded me of (which I did complete), but got sidetracked into having a major clear up, which included making much overdue supports for the staging which lives over the raised beds in winter & spring. I have also consolidated all the potatoes into a couple of pots, separated in layers of dry compost, and hope they continue to hold as well as they’ve done so far - at risk of uttering the “C” word far too early, home grown Jersey Royals on 25th December would be nice.



After an early lunch Management came outside and we made a start on clearing up fallen leaves in the lane, and that nicely segued into cutting up lots of small bits of wood which we were keeping for “?????” no reason that we can remember. They will be much more useful as “small stuff that gets a fire going quickly”. More on that tomorrow because we only just scratched the surface of what needs to be done.







Relaxing with the much needed cuppa once we’d cleared up was interrupted by a visit from a neighbour I have not seen for a while, popping into check up on me, bless her. Long story short, she used to be a high-level swimming coach and I thought she had retired. Earlier this year I decided it was about time I learnt to swim properly (bad experiences as a kid meant I can barely keep myself afloat and am not comfortable in water), and I was all set to go to a local spa from 1st March. As most of you know what happened on 25th February it will be no surprise that plan never got going. Anyway, turns out my lovely neighbour has not completely retired, and is involved in running adult classes at the local leisure centre. I have promised to turn up next week, and she promises to help me.

I’m putting this “out there” to stop myself backing out . . .


And finally, it feels quite strange (because it’s been so long) that I am really looking forward to returning to the garden tomorrow morning . . .