Sunday, 28 November 2021

The (ever-changing) View from Bag End

This was my view at 07.58, we were shaping up for a lovely sunrise:

And then we weren't (08.15):

One hour later it all looked a bit different.

The woodburner is on: it is The Law. If it is snowing outside I can light the stove as early in the day as I want 😍, just a small fire, chugging along quietly in the background.

It is little things like that which turn "oh heck" into "oh, happy".

The snow continues to fall, it is getting heavier, the pictures taken an hour ago are already out of date.
We don't often get snow at Bag End.
I may have to sew for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Making a mess

Honestly, I am not exactly sure where I am going with all this. But I'm having a great deal of pressure-free fun playing with some old (and cheap) acrylic felt I found at the bottom of a box. It is a calculated experiment before I possibly / probably drop a not-insignificant-sum on a selection of sheets of 100% wool felt.

I know I am making a heck of a mess and it is only a matter of time before a box of beads or sequins gets dropped on the floor. At that point it will not be fun any more.

Until then however, I am thoroughly enjoying myself and it is very relaxing. I blame Pinterest for all this.

Save yourself! Do not search Pinterest for **Christmas** Felt Ornaments πŸ˜›, it's a bottomless rabbit hole from which you may never escape.

I picked up this little kit very, very cheaply just to see what was inside and use it as a starting point. I will not be making it up - the felt inside is ghastly and the worst quality you can imagine (the material barely feels more than one step up from thick craft paper), but it was worth £2 for the inspiration.

(** I said the "C" word in November!)

Monday, 22 November 2021

Monday mulching

Bitterly cold last night, but it did make the morning so beautiful:

Lovely start to the week and great success - a job started and completely finished before lunchtime πŸ˜„. Cut back the hardy geranium at the front of the house (although not the parts which are bravely still in flower) and with Management filling the wheelbarrow we put a very, very thick mulch over the whole bed. On my own I would have stopped half way around before I got knackered, but happily I had assistance and the entire thing was done when we came in. It is not very often that a job gets started AND finished on the same day, so it's all the more pleasing when it does happen.

Fingers crossed for the weather to be kind and the ability to go outside for a couple of hours tomorrow morning. By the look of the sky it's going to be another cold night and I might just get my wish:

(these pictures taken around 4.15pm)

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Where did another week go?

This year is tearing along at the pace of a speeding Hogwarts Express. In a month's time it will be Winter Solstice - whoosh. To be honest I cannot say I will be sorry to see the end of 2021, it's been a strange year and the eternal optimist in me hopes that 2022 will be better. (Although looking at the political and economic situation both here and further afield I may be being a tad over-hopeful!)

A week ago I got into the garden for one session - weeded and heavily mulched the long bed at the front. Hopefully the daffodil bulbs will appreciate it next Spring.

Indoors there has been sewing of the "trying to tame the endless scraps" kind. Whilst Management was away I spent time sewing up fabric leftover from a previous project into little table runners, they are nothing special but when (if) I get them quilted then they can make an appearance as fully finished mini quilts. I've sorted another box of leftover strips into something which could become a strippy quilt, but there might also be enough material for a small Trip Around the World too . . .

I did manage to fully complete one small thing: after nearly a decade of faithful service the Kindle has been replaced by a Kobo (which I am delighted with, much nicer reading experience) but I could not find a bag I liked so I made one.

And now I am trying to wake up. I got out of bed nearly five hours ago and my brain has still not worked out which way is up. I think it's going to be "one of those Sundays" where I wander around a lot and do very little. I hope your day is far more organised and productive πŸ˜€

PS: Sunrise a few days ago:

Friday, 12 November 2021

An odd little week

Friday - again. How did that happen? It has been an odd little week and I shall be glad to see the weekend when we are forecast a couple of bright days.

The annual service for the gas boiler revealed a faulty part which had not affected our heating, but meant that the system had to be shut down until it was replaced. It was only one night without central heating, and it was a mild and damp evening so the woodburner provided more than enough warmth. But of course I was transported back to the dreadful Christmas in 2017 when we had no heat for nearly two weeks which was quite horrid. The lovely man we have used for the past few years was able to get the part that day and returned at 9.30 the following morning to make everything right, bless him.

The weather continues to be mostly grotty so there has still been no gardening. Piles of damp leaves everywhere and the lawns have not been cut for weeks & weeks. It's an awful mess but I remind myself that eventually things will get straightened up, they always do.

We did have a half-decent spell on Wednesday and I got outside for long enough to finish the hoses & taps on Bill.
I had originally thought there might be a long and marvellous post detailing the whole process: a useful record for me and maybe helpful for someone else in the future. Sorry, not going to happen. I am pleased with how everything looks now, and fingers crossed it will stand up to the weather and travelling around.

This cold is a really doozey - for once the media are right. Both of us have it and the pattern is very "up and down". Just when I think we've recovered we get a day of being knocked back again. Yesterday was one of those days - so wiped out, coughing and snufflying all the time. It could be so much worse - one of M's relatives was taken into ICU yesterday, not expected to survive the night. We are waiting for the phone to ring.

Puts everything else into perspective . . .

Friday, 5 November 2021

Puttering around

West Cumbria definitely dodged a flooded bullet last week with remarkably less damage experienced than has previously been the case after another now all-too frequent deluge, but that is no consolation for those in Cockermouth and Egremont whose homes did flood again.

Until we have some really dry weather the ground is just too soaked and soggy to do anything at Bag End, and to be honest I don't feel like it right now. Both Management and I have "a bit of a cold" (no, it's not Covid, I had a test) which has left us feeling like hunkering down and not doing anything which requires much physical exertion. Runny nose, headache, claggy throat & chest, and endless mugs of tea (because it is a well-known fact that a freshly brewed cuppa in a favourite mug has medicinal properties). I have even had to become remarkably - and unusually - sanguine about the fact that six weeks after Bill and I came back from Scotland refitting the tank hoses and taps has still not happened. But I know it will, and when the time is right the whole job's not going to take more than an hour, if that.

If, however, you compare our flooding to the Cumbre Vieja eruption then we do not have a lot to worry about. In the last week I have become somewhat addicted to the live stream via YouTube, here's a link to AfarTV who are carrying three different feeds. No, I have not been watching at night-time silly o'clock, but in the morning you can scroll back to see what happened overnight and these are quick screen grabs. I have always been fascinated by geology and geography - I can still remember my jaw dropping the first time I flew over the Alps and spent the rest of the flight squeaking excitedly about arΓͺtes and corries (I may have only been 10 years old 🀣) and it feels like an incredible privilege to watch planet-forming activity like this in real-time.

If nothing else it is a welcome distraction from 36 Government U-turns in 23 months. (You need to scroll about half way down this long page for that article.)

In the absence of anything outdoors, when I've not been wiped out from whatever this bug is there has been a fair bit of sewing machine time. Advance apologies for 'speaking in quilting tongues' but I will always try to translate for non-sewers if Eunice tells me what doesn't make sense:

Infill blocks in neutral fabric, then sliced in half with a stay stitch along the bias edge

Unseen hours of cogitating and moving blocks around so that identical fabrics are not too concentrated in one area

It is normal to sew a top like this together in rows, but I find it easier to make "chunks"

Amusing myself playing "thread chicken" with nearly empty bobbins. So far I am on a 100% winning streak but it could not get much closer than this 😜

Ta Da. First completed top of the Winter 2021-22 season.

Whilst that is a Wonderful Thing To Be Celebrated πŸŽ‰ I do not appear to have made much ANY dent in the stack of boxes. There are still 20 red/neutral blocks left over, and I have no idea yet what they want to be when they grow up.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Squeee! that was me 🀩

Childishly excited.

For the first time EVER I decided to pop a photo onto the BBC "Weather Watchers" site, not sure what happened to put that idea in my head. It was used at lunchtime! Pure fluke that I saw it. No accident that I pressed rewind and recorded the evidence.

You may recognise the image from my earlier post today. πŸ‘ πŸ‘ πŸ‘ (I wanted to be "Daisy's Mum" but that name was taken and this was the best I could think of in a hurry.)

Sadly this is tinged with deep sadness - once again our lovely little town is flooding. Maybe not as badly as in 2009 or 2015 [YET] but most traders in Cockermouth can no longer get flood insurance. It is not as if the premiums are too high (but they would be), it is that most companies just will no longer insure Cockermouth business premises against water damage. Covid and lockdowns have already forced the closure of some businesses, how many more we are going to lose?

Apparently over 12" of rain has fallen in Honister in the last 36 hours and whilst it has stopped for now we are due much more on Friday and Saturday. Most of which will drain into the River Cocker, which combines with the River Derwent in the middle of the town - and is carrying half of the water which lands on Helvellyn and so many other high fells. I really must get off my bottom and finish annotating a map of the catchment areas . . . now I've "put the idea out there" I might remember to get on with it.

Edit Friday: the video is hiding if you use a tablet . . . well, that is the case in this house, but on a desktop it is showing up fine. Oh, and it is STILL raining. 😟 😟 😟

Amber Warning

8.57pm last night . . . BBC weather forecast . . . apparently the Met Office had issued an Amber flood warning for parts of south-west Scotland and Cumbria.

Sadly they were right. It started raining earlier this week, has not stopped yet with much, much more forecast for the next few days. Praying that this does not turn into another 2015 "Desmond", or even 2009, I am not sure how I would cope with that again. I walked down to the river after breakfast with a neighbour and got thoroughly soaked. But of much more concern than drenched trousers and wet feet was the river level - it is nearly as high as in past really bad floods and will rise more. The catchment area for the River Derwent and River Cocker is massive, hundreds of square miles of massive and includes some of the National Park's highest and wettest places - Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Honister. Even when it stops raining the river continues to rise for a day or two whilst water drains from the hills.

All this water falling from the sky means that any outdoor activity has no chance of progress. So whilst Bill's brackets are rust-proofed and painted I have absolutely zero opportunity to put the tank pipes & taps back together again. Not that it really matters - I am not planning on going out in the van whilst the weather is like this. Similarly there is absolutely no likelihood of doing anything in the garden, despite there being much Autumn clearing up to do. Even filling the log basket is an expedition requiring waterproofs and wellies.

Instead I hunkered down in the sewing room. Back in 2018 I "borrowed" 16 tubs from Management in an attempt to sort out small half/completed projects and scraps. That has not worked well - instead of emptying those boxes the total has grown, there are now 20. How the heck did that happen?

So the current idea (which we all know will only last until I am distracted by something more interesting!) is to spend this Autumn/Winter working on the contents of the boxes. I have made a start with the blue and red plaid log cabin blocks which (to my surprise) have only been sitting around since February of this year. This is unusually speedy for me! You don't need to see the eleventy-seven discarded layouts which went up on the boards and came swiftly down again, but it's very time consuming and explains where at least three days went. I have settled on this and am currently piecing blocks in neutral fabrics to fill in the outside triangles.

The pair in the photo were just an experiment, the 'real' ones are much tidier. My table is now a lovely mess whilst I make 18 proper blocks. Then I will play around with the placement of the blue and red units so that I don’t have too much of the same fabric in one place and then sew them together . . . sounds so simple when you put it like that!

What are you working on this week?