Monday, 30 November 2015

Brief respite

Rain, rain, rain, rain, more rain and wind.  And then some more wind, wind, wind and rain.  Who had the silly idea to name our winter storms?  All it has done is given the dratted things over-inflated ideas about their own importance and encouraged them to strut and preen and generally make far too much noise.

Yesterday Daisy refused to move out of her warm nest of quilts until nearly 10am and who can blame her?  But this afternoon we had a brief respite where the clouds parted for long enough to show an enticing glimpse of snow on the fells, and we were able to do our 'long walk' down by the river.  3 miles later we were both cold, and her coat and my trousers were so mud splattered that the washing machine went straight into use on our return.

Not a great deal I can do to 'improve' these photos when the sky is the same colour as the fell tops:-)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Return of ....

the Quilting bug!!

Which has been M.I.A. for far too long, and I am staggered to find this is the FIRST post in 2015 with the 'quilts' label . . .

Slowly and gently thanks to Time (the great healer) and Simplifying (aka: taking lots of stuff I no longer need or use to local charity shops) and the Being Kind to Myself process of "not sweating the small stuff" any more and just going with the flow, finally I want to get back in the sewing room.  Whoosh down the rabbit hole again.  The Quilt Bug has returned with a Vengeance and I want to do so many things that there are simply not enough hours in the day. Thanks to the current storm "Clodagh" or whatever it calls itself, Daisy's weekend walks were at the absolute minimum required for toilet, health and well-being and there was definitely no gardening going on.  Instead Saturday saw me achieve the unthinkable - get to the bottom of the mending basket.

Then trim and bind a little quilt top which I started over ten years ago when Ricky Tims'  'Caveman' technique was all the rage.  It is 80% quilted, part by machine, part hand and there's really only a couple of evening's worth of hand quilting to finish.

On Sunday I started with the intention to create two quilted pillow shams using scraps from 'Distorted Foodie', a quilt I made in 2007.  It is still much loved and currently on the bed.  There was much cogitation, far too many hours wasted on Pinterest and I decided it would be a good opportunity to tick lots of lists in one go - pillow shams, use the scraps, and piece the 'Double Wedding Ring' pattern which has been on the To Do list for ever.

I spent a couple of hours drawing up foundations and making the arcs exactly what I wanted, not what someone else had decided.  Yes I could have printed something off the internet and it would have undoubtedly been quicker, but there is a calm meditativeness about tracing out the foundations by hand and it's part of the process.   And everything was going so well until I reached the stage where I worked out what size to cut the fabric in order to make the foundation piecing simple.

I know a lot of people treat foundation piecing as a way of using the most minute fabric scraps available.  If that works for you then I am so pleased for you :-}  To me, that way lies madness and frustration.  There is little pleasure in straining and struggling to align a scrap of fabric which is barely big enough only to discover when it is folded over that it wasn't large enough after all.  I prefer Carol Doak's method of working out a pre-cut size for each section, preparing nice piles of fabric in advance and then just getting on with the sewing.  This way uses a little extra material and you will waste a bit but at the end of the day, as Management would say "it's down in the noise" because having pre-cut fabric that's plenty big enough makes the whole process much more enjoyable.

Once I realised the patches needed to be 3" x 3.5" or 4" x 3.5" it was glaringly obvious that the intended pile of scraps were far too small.  OK, plan B which is a set of Fat Quarters that had been sitting in a basket for eons and happened to surface yesterday and get pressed, just for the fun of it.

I cut the first piece of fabric and then realised that wasn't right either.  No, this quilt deserves really special fabric to reflect the amount of time it is going to take to construct;  DWR is a LOT of work and whilst I am quite capable of sewing curved seams it isn't something I relish.  So I packed everything away again until I know what I want to do.

Which is how I can spend two days in the sewing room and produce nothing - except a feeling of peace, and calm and the rightness of doing exactly what I am meant to be doing at this moment. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

No Bag End view today

The weather forecast was for today to be unpleasant.
The weather forecast was correct.  It was grey, damp, driech and misty all morning, and then managed to rain with considerable unwelcome enthusiasm whilst I was in town this afternoon.

The first time we have walked next to the river since the flood, it wasn't as muddy as I had expected.  At least the river level has dropped since we came down two weeks ago:

11th November -

Another strip of land has been lost to the water, when we moved here the land extended about a third of the way under the first arch of the bridge, and now it doesn't . . .

The flotsam line shows how far the water came.

None of this deterred Daisy who was clearly delighted to be back on familiar ground.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

and the winner is

After every birthday, one card is always judged to be the best of all received.  In order not to upset or offend we generally keep this particular opinion to ourselves.

However, on this occasion the "winner" has to be shared.  I don't think the sender had Daisy in mind when the card was selected for M. but clearly the artist did!

With thanks to The New Yorker

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Who knows whether it was Weather Gods or Birthday Gods who smiled upon us at the weekend, but they are back to frowning with far too much rain yesterday and today, however, we have managed to take advantage of two gaps in the cloud today.

After lunch Daisy and I managed an hour's circular walk from the house without a single raindrop which in itself is a minor miracle at present, and at the end of the day I had barely five minutes to see the moon rise before it clouded over again.

The earth rotates so fast - in the time it took me to fiddle around changing a lens I'd lost the lovely composition of the moon behind the skeletal outline of a distant tree.  Fingers crossed for another opportunity tomorrow - we are forecast a decent day.

I've got a tutorial saved somewhere on how to get the moon correctly exposed - clearly I need to reread it :-{  The one piece of advice I do remember is that when the moon is nearly full there is far too much light and therefore lack of detail.  This is really not the time to hope for good pictures!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Breakfast guests

On several occasions recently we have had the privilege of watching two red squirrels at the same time.  Trouble is, they do not like each other as much as we like them - they are territorial and do not enjoy having to share the nut feeder.*   There is much angry swishing of tails and it is tricky to get a half decent photo of them together.

*Yes, of course, I am going to get a second feeder next time I am in town . . .

Sunday, 22 November 2015

How old?

Happy birthday darling, here's to many more, but perhaps without the karabiners :-)

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Management has a birthday this weekend - one of those significant "mumble-zero" ones.   He did not want to go away, or have a party, or have his family descend upon us, in fact he really wanted to just chill out and be quiet which suits us both very well.  Until one day I said "do you want to do something daft like the Honister Via Ferrata for your birthday" and he said "yes" like a shot.

Given how much water had been thrown out of the sky in the last fortnight we both had more than a little trepidation about how the pre-booked, non transferable event might be.  But it stopped raining, and we woke this morning (far, far earlier than we would have liked!) to the first snow of the year.


A beautiful drive through Buttermere got us to Honister by 8.30am.  A tad chilly, but that's what we have wardrobes full of lovely technical gear for.

It is completely understandable that for safety reasons you are told not to use a camera whilst on the Via Ferrata.  It also means you have the opportunity to pay for a set of pictures taken by the guide, they'll be sent to us in a few days . . .  But I am not very good at following rules so at appropriate points when I had  both feet on something firm and safe a little point-and-shoot camera came out of the pocket (attached to a lanyard round my neck but I never had to put that to the test).  I am generally disappointed with the pictures, partly because I was concentrating on karabiners and ice, and partly because I really, really want a portable compact camera that shoots RAW :-{   "Dear Santa . . . "

First our party of ten walked up here, 9 blokes, a guide and me,  the only girly.  Those steps were very slippery.

Then we hung around here for far too long whilst a group of five chaps from Manchester, who clearly felt they had to be at the front but such is often the way with groups, took far too long to go down a ladder (amazing what you can do with rebar, Management was getting all sorts of ideas for the garden and his welding kit) along a slab, and back up another ladder, .  Never mind, the other three - Steve, Dale and Bryan, were a damn good laugh and great company.

Later there was quite a lot of exposure which bothers neither of us at all, and the technical stuff (clipping on and off the safety cable) and not getting tangled up was quite enjoyable, in an intellectual sort of way.  We've both done a little climbing in the past and neither of us liked it back then.  Today we remembered why - an awful lot of hanging around and messing about to cover very little ground.

Did I mention it was very steep, and more than a little icy?

And a few obstacles later it was over.  The geothermal warmth emanating from the actual mine was staggering - M's glasses fogged up as did the camera but neither dampened the rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' which everyone joined in with; the box of chocolates hidden in my rucksack might have helped ....

And then all that remained was a wander up to the top of Fleetwith Pike which, in today's conditions, was an absolute delight with outstanding views.

Followed by a rather slippery walk back down to the car-park with a few stops for the first Snow Angel of the year, some messing around in small drifts, and the obligatory snowball fight.

The verdict is:

Did we enjoy ourselves?
Yes, in a strange sort of way

Did I ever feel scared?
This is no gentle saunter around but not the sort of thing that would scare me.

Was it hard?
Not particularly, but climbing an overhanging rock face with your upper body wanting to obey gravity and fall backwards is physically tiring.  Not helped by the fact that the route was clearly laid out by 6 foot tall climbing jocks with no consideration for anyone with short legs like me.  One of the chaps from the group of three wasn’t much taller than I am, and I heard him having similar issues on a couple of occasions.

I feel for a group of this size, which was very spread out, it would have been better to have another guide at the back.  M. and I talked about this and he agreed that if I had slipped (and he knew I nearly did on one occasion although I wasn't going to admit it at the time) then it would have been up to him and one of the guys behind us to pull me up and get me back onto the stemples and that they would have really struggled.

Are we glad we made the effort?
Yes, and Management says it was a great way to mark "the occasion"

Would we want to do it again?

Will we sleep very soundly tonight?
Oh yes

How the hills looked when we got home:

Friday, 20 November 2015

Three years

20th November 2012.  Everyone's life changed - mine, Management's but most of all Daisy's.

In the absence of any background or history, poor Little Miss Perfect doesn't have a known birthday, heck - we do not even know how old she is.

It is always nice to do something to mark a significant occasion, and when you live in the most beautiful part of the country going out for a walk has to be high on the list of things to do :-)

Thankfully the rain stopped and we saw blue sky and some sunshine for the first time in what feels like ages although there was a bitterly cold breeze coming in off the sea.  We only walked a couple of miles until we reached a point when Madam made it quite plain that 'whilst it is very nice to be out, thank you, it would also be very nice to get out of this wind".

So we did :-)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Not going for a walk

I had thought if we got a break in Storm Barney then Daisy and I might have a short walk down the road.
She was remarkably pleased to learn I had changed my mind.

No fiddling around in Lightroom this morning - there is absolutely no point trying to make these photos look brighter, sharper or any less wet.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Local tourist

Castlerigg Stone Circle is not exactly on the way to the supermarket in Keswick, but really not much of a detour either and it has been far too long since I visited.  The weather was unpleasant which was great - it meant I enjoyed the privilege of having the place completely to myself until the rain picked up enough to make it too wet even for me to stay.