Saturday, 28 September 2013

An afternoon in waders

There are worse ways to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon and the end result was a dozen blue baskets full of compostable goodness.  Underneath all the blanket weed the water was lovely and clear until my stomping around churned it all up :}

Looking at the top picture it is hard to remember that these plants didn't go into the bog beds until November last year.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A walk which did go according to plan

This getting up early lark has advantages other than seeing the sun rise:  I had the boot room curtains cut to length* and the food shopping done and put away before late morning. Drove to Threlkeld in shirt sleeves, sunshine and wonderful visibility to re-do a walk which Daisy and I last attempted in February.  That day I didn't get to Skiddaw House because it was freezing cold and I was having one of those "legs filled with lead" days.

Today could not have been more different.  Daisy coped admirably with the increased distance (just under 5½ miles) and, when we stopped for a bite to eat, was quick to eat a small bowl of kibble and a few biscuits.**

Some of these pics are out of order ...

We walked nearly to Skiddaw House, had some food and walked back.  Some people might find this a bleak area but I think it's utterly gorgeous.  We sat here for a while and there was no sound at all, not even wind.  There were no people either just this huge expanse of land - complete stillness and silence.  I'd have stayed longer but it was nearly 4.00pm and time to turn around, next time Madam and I need to set off much earlier and allow time to sit around here for an hour or two.

Work on the small hydro scheme for the Blencathra Centre is progressing.  Once completed there will be virtually no effect on the landscape except for the new plant building, which will look like refurbished peat house.  It's an intelligent use of the landscape and resources and I wish we saw more of it around here.  Far better than looking at sodding wind turbines.

The foul and mostly featureless Mungrisdale Common.  Friends know I have little desire and absolutely no intention of ever walking there again.

Looking south to High Rigg with Helvellyn in the distance (far left)

Temporary extra layer for both of us whilst sitting still, but too warm to walk in more than shirt sleeves.  Far too warm for the end of September but I'm not complaining :}

The average speed doesn't take account of our sit down for some grub - must remember to pause the ' track record' when we stop.

* Quit sniggering at the back.  Yes, curtains for the room which was refurbished and decorated in April.  I hate doing curtains, it's a miracle it has only taken this long ...

**  We had a visit to the vet on Monday, partly to look at a lump on her leg - which was swiftly dealt with [small, cyst-thing] and partly to talk about her eating. Clare gave Little Miss Perfect a thorough examination and agrees with our thinking that some of the not eating might be trying it on, and a lot of it might be that we've now "filled her up" and she just doesn't eat unless she is hungry.  So, I have cut down the volume of food at each meal, she's eating most of it, although not all, and I will keep a close eye on her and her weight ....  Worse than kids 

Fleeting beauty

The last few weeks I've been making an effort to go to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier.  One of the joys of Bag End's location is seeing the sun rise over Skiddaw and it's been far too long since I watched it.

The only photo editing was to reduce the size for Blogger, no colour adjustments, absolutely nothing else :}

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

On ~not~ going for a walk

Do you ever get the feeling The Universe is trying to tell you NOT to do something?  Daisy and I set off late morning for a local fell walk and an al fresco lunch.  We parked at Fangs Brow and followed the footpath half a mile to the first gate.  Our intended route was to head up Burnbank Fell, wander in the direction of Carling Knott and then come back.

The cattle nursing small calves had other ideas.  I might be daft sometimes but I'm not a complete idiot and there are no circumstances where I would take a dog into a field with cows and their babies.

So the walk we actually did was:

Back to the car, drive off in search of Plan B. I didn't feel like our usual stroll through Holme Wood instead taking the extremely narrow track to Maggie's Bridge.  Where there were no parking spaces ...

Carried on thinking we'd go to Whinlatter, not been there for a while.  But at Scale Hill I was met with:

I could see the funny side of it and got out of the car to take the photograph.  This was when a very pleasant couple got out of their car and said "Excuse me, we're confused and not sure where to go!".  He was obviously nervous about taking the narrow diversion but we had a chat, laughed about being thwarted, and they followed me along the Thackthwaite road as far as Lorton.  By then I had a stinking headache because lunch hadn't happened and Daisy was a bit stressed and "dribbly", so I figured we were not meant to be fellwalking today and came home but at least I'd done my bit for tourist relations.

I sort of felt obliged to make something of the day after wasting a couple of hours and a gallon of fuel.  With numerous breaks to play with Madam I cut all the lawns.



Daisy probably ended up running about more in the garden than she would have done on the fells and didn't move much once the woodburner was lit :}  From the Coppice I can chuck the ball all the way down to the bottom gate, probably over 100 ft - must measure it sometime.

It's her favourite game.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Lead legs on Ling Fell

Another walk which didn't quite go according to plan.  Got half way up Ling Fall, and turned round and came back again.  Daisy didn't seem too distressed and a mile and a half running around on the fellside is more than a lot of dogs get:}  Thankfully she still seems completely oblivious to the presence of sheep around here.

What looks like low cloud was really a thick haze, there was little visibility and it was ludicrously humid for tea-time at the start of autumn, perhaps that's why my legs just wouldn't work?

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Weekend dog walk

Partly for convenience and partly due to laziness on my part, we tend to walk in the same small area time after time.  I've wondered if constantly showing the same few fells is boring for other people and then realised "so flippin' what"?  My blog, my rules and if it bores the ocacsional drive-by visitor then I guess they will go away.

So, once again, a trip to Sale Fell.  When I got up Daisy and I hadn't planned to zoom up a nearby fell but the weather was much nicer than either I expected, or the photographs imply.  Daisy doesn't seem to mind the repetition and once again we covered 3 miles, although despite a sit down at the summit (second breakfast), we were only out about 90 minutes.

Here she is celebrating reaching the summit by trying to catch her tail.  Occasionally she succeeds.

Here she is trying to see if my food (a) tastes better than hers (b) is heading in her direction.  The answers are 'yes probably' and 'not a chance'.

She continues to be off her food and, sometimes, not quite herself.  However, the "I can't possibly eat this" act does not extend to walking treats, other biscuits or anything we might be trying to consume.  Management suggested we tried tinned food seeing as she's currently sneering at superb quality complete kibble.  I bought a couple of cans of Chappie and - no surprises - she wolfed it down.  That was yesterday, of course.  Today it is relegated to **! Poison, Danger Will Robinson, Poison !**

Daisy doesn't realise I have one huge advantage over her:  I've seen how this tough little dog can survive when almost starved to death.  This means that she can turn her nose up at one, two or even three meals on the trot.  As long as she's drinking, I'm just smiling at her and saying "good girl, you'll eat when you're hungry", and guess what - that's exactly what is happening.  My suspicion is that Little Miss Perfect is having a bit of a teenage tantrum and, now she feels safe and secure, trying to see how far she can push us.

Sorry sweetie.  I adore you, but you're not going to win this one.  There's only room for one Alpha Female in this household and I've already claimed that spot.

Looking north-east to the fells 'Back O'Skida'.  Click to enlarge.

Friday, 20 September 2013

A new quilt

In between one lot of messing around and another I decided to start a new quilt.  I need more quilts on the "waiting to be longarmed" pile, don't I?  This one has been inspired by talented author, friend and international quilt teacher, Sue Abrey.

Unfortunately, all I can share at this stage is the fabric selection because the quilt is a surprise for someone who might occasionally visit Bag End.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A gnarly few days

I thought I was going to spend the beginning of this week getting to know the longarm machine again and making progress on the backlog of tops which are waiting to be quilted.  The Universe had other ideas and the first half of the week turned into a cold, gnarly, irritating GRRRR.   Lots of small things which in the long run are of little consequence.  Nothing I intend to write about because to give words to something is to give it shape and substance.  None of the vexations which have visited Bag End deserve the permanence and reality afforded by description.

I have learnt in the past that when times like this descend the only thing to do is go with the flow, and don't do anything tricksy which requires accuracy, precision or a dollop of good luck.  If I were to continue with the plan of longarm quilting I knew I would be assured of days with bad tension, thread breaks and all sorts of problems I could do without.  Instead, the best thing is to do little things and ignore the fact that it's constantly raining and so dark that I need the kitchen lights on most of the day.

So Daisy and I caught up on some TV which had been recorded but not watched, the ironing basket found itself empty, the cooker is a lot cleaner than it used to be and even the bathrooms and sinks got a good seeing to!  In the middle of all that I was interviewed by a national newspaper, first time that's ever happened, and I didn't enjoy it at all.

Monday's quilt top acquired a quiet little border to finish it off, the pile of "Christmas patchwork bits" is still huge and I have a whole flock of flying geese looking for a purpose in life ... 

Also spent some time as a hospital taxi for a friend who's quite poorly which serves to remind me that my gnarly irritations are nothing more than that, and both Management and I are very fortunate to have such good health :}

Monday, 16 September 2013

Sunday sewing, Monday unsewing

For once the forecasters got it right and the weather on Sunday was dreadful.  High wind and rain all night with not much let up during the day.  Perfect for a full day in the sewing room!

Eons ago (about 2005!) I started a Christmas sampler-type quilt.  I dug the box of bits out and realised I've changed my mind since June and no longer want to make the huge quilt I originally planned.  Four large (15") pieced blocks jostled for position at the front of the queue to be turned into something else.



A few hours later they'd become a nice little sampler quilt without much more effort on my part.  I should have stopped there.  I didn't.  Also in the box of bits were some Flying Geese sections that I really liked.  So like a fool I added them as an asymmetrical border. 

The lack of a decent sized design wall at Bag End has been a mild irritation in the past, now it's a significant frustration.  I have a small area available in the sewing room but it's not big enough for anything more than about 48" square.  If I had pinned this all up and had a good look at it before I put the borders on then I wouldn't have spent Monday afternoon taking the damn things off.

Fortunately it rained all Monday afternoon so being indoors wasn't too much of a hardship and I've worked out where to store a couple of Celotex boards.  Bag End will soon have a proper design wall and I might not do stupid things like this again.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Getting out before the weather breaks

Friday wasn't all about doggy dressmaking.

I've wondered if some of Daisy's 'flatness' is that she was bored and that she was not eating well because she wasn't hungry enough.  There certainly didn't seem anything significantly wrong with her so after a morning in the sewing room we set off on Friday afternoon for one of her favourites - Sale Fell.  We've noticed she loves the feel of closely cropped grass under her feet and it's one place she always has a few 'mad moments' and zooms around for the sheer joy of it.

    a quick "can I catch my tail if I spin fast enough?" moment

Another 3½ miles and darn pleasant it was too!  Only met one other person the entire walk and once again our timing was spot-on because it started to rain gently just as we got back in the car.

Saturday morning the weather was absolutely drop-dead, stunningly gorgeous with a whole jar of cherries on top. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, sunshine, perfect temperature. Daisy and I went to Latrigg first thing and felt remarkably pleased with ourselves that as we were returning to the car (about 11.00am after 3½ miles) we passed numerous people just starting out, and we had enjoyed the summit in complete solitude and total silence.  Whilst it was good to see 50 or 60 folk heading out for a walk I'm glad I didn't have to share the quiet paths with any of them.

The views were stunning this morning and I couldn't stop taking pictures :} 

The only tricky bit was negotiating an area where there's been some recently tree work.  Fortunately we were able to traverse through remaining trees and avoid having to wade through the damage that forestry machinery does to wet ground.  Yuk.

3½ miles and two hours seems to be our default setting at present; weather permitting I'd like to up the distance & time a little over the next few weeks.  I reckon Daisy can take it, question is, can I?

Friday, 13 September 2013

Mole Man

Unfortunately I've had to call Gary back.  We're not surprised - it's fairly normal for new moles to move into existing tunnels.

Dressmaking for Daisy

I don't "do" dressmaking in any shape or form.  Aged about 11 or 12 I was badly scarred by the experience of spending a term making a corduroy trouser suit (well, it was the 1970's!)  in the school Needlework class* and it took the best part of 25 years before I was prepared to touch fabric again.  Making patchwork quilts provides the wonderful tactile and textural experience of working with fabric and I find making them lay as flat as the proverbial pancake is remarkably easy.  No shaping, no sleeves, no easing to "fit".

However, Daisy does not like being cold and wet and many commercial dog coats are either ludicrously expensive or just not what we want.  I've had some success making little fleece jackets for her so have been readying myself for the challenge of creating something waterproof but not thick and bulky.

First have your model stand very still and create a dressmaking toile  (it fits a whole lot better when she stands up!)

Next, cut up an old children's tent from Argos which was purchased years ago specifically to be destroyed and the fabric reused.

Then, curse like b*ggery that the only Velcro to hand is nasty, stick-backed stuff which gums up the sewing machine needle.

By this time, Madam was fed up with her role in the proceedings.  She associates having a coat on with GOING OUT and there I was putting a coat on, and taking it off without a walk in between, and then doing it again, and again.  So she took herself into the snuggly bed under my sewing table and sulked and I went online and ordered some decent Velcro.

Whilst this prototype is pretty rough, it shows the basic premise is sound and I've learnt how to use seam-waterproofing-tape :}  It's also light enough to scrunch into a small pocket so I've always got something with me if we get caught in an unexpected downpour.  It will need a 'bum strap' to stop the back blowing up but I'll add that to the next version.

And I still don't enjoy anything resembling dressmaking, even the cushion earlier this week was a huge stretch.

* actually, it wasn't the school class which was the problem although, in hindsight, the teacher can't have been concentrating on what I was doing.  The scarring was caused by taking home an unfinished project at the end of term, having it looked at by a frighteningly proficient (think 'capable of suit tailoring') relative who threw the fabric back in its bag and told me in no uncertain terms "you've absolutely ruined this to the point I can't do anything with it".  Not a particularly good way to encourage a kid who already had a few self-confidence issues.