Sunday, 29 January 2017

That was fun

Last summer/autumn we deliberately did not spend time refilling the log store, it's been a couple of years since we saw the back of it and decided to wait until at least one side was empty.  Well, that time had come and fortunately Sunday was dry and bright enough for Management and I to get outside and have a brilliant session with the log splitter.

Despite having the biggest wood pile imaginable opposite the greenhouse we decided to tackle to smaller pile which LP built next to the shed.  There's a long-term plan to relocate my cold frames so they are in a sunnier location, and to achieve this we need to shift a lot of timber . . .

We started uncovering the pile at 10.50, deciding to focus only on the large discs which did not require further chainsawing

and by 1.30 we were cleared up.  No accidents, no mishaps and a decent quantity of logs.  When LP is back, which should be in a couple of weeks, he can help with chainsawing the rest of the stack which he thoroughly enjoys.

It's childish (and slightly dangerous if you are daft enough to stand in the wrong place) but the best bit of splitting logs is when you have a really dry lump of wood without cross-grain that breaks cleanly and quickly, almost explosively 😀 .

Management is really good at working out what orientation to position each lump of wood to give the splitter the best chance of succeeding.  I just drive the two 'on' switches.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Three fabulous days

Wonderful weather this week:  crisp, cold, blue sky = perfect gardening conditions.  With Management in London Daisy and I were able to gently potter about to no particular schedule and I managed good sessions in the garden on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Tuesday's accomplishment was to tidy up the Coppice which is always the first part of the garden to spring into action each year.  I've never previously subscribed to the 'cutting hellebores back' way of doing things but there were so many old leaves with black spot that I decided to be brutal and take out everything in an attempt to stop the spores spreading.

The Mahonia bushes are flowering nicely, snowdrops are popping up all over the place but the winter aconite are a disappointment - I know I had loads but there are only two small plants in flower at present.  Perhaps the damn mice have had the corms?

Tuesday ended with a bit of a drama when a United Utilities worker got a bit closer to a manhole on the green than he intended.  Fortunately he got away with just serious bruising and as a result this has focussed the company's attention on a water leak that has been seeping away for years and years, but that they have always failed to properly respond to.

On Wednesday I focussed on the bulb bed (which used to house the large willow fedge).  LP took the willow out at the end of November and despite the best of intentions I hadn't got back to that area to tidy it up and add some more bulbs.  January is at least three months later than recommended to be planting Camassia but hey - they've got more of a chance in the ground than in a bag in the shed.

When we weren't playing "kill the rugby ball", Little Miss Perfect sat around providing moral support, until she got bored and wandered inside 😊

I've got even more unplanted bulbs destined for the front section (yes, bad gardener . . . ) and then I can cover the rest of it with some of the lovely leaves we collected last autumn.

After unavoidable grocery shopping on Friday I had a couple of brief sessions at the front of the house.   I've completely weeded the large raised bed and plan to fill it with various primulas which have been squatting in one of the vegetable beds waiting for me to get round to moving them (bad gardener again . . . )

Still not sure what to do with this little bed

An extra half hour of sunshine and I would have completed weeding the large fruit cage but once the sun went down it was far too cold to stay outside with any degree of enjoyment.

At risk of sounding all airy-fairy and woo-hoo, the hours I've spent in the garden this week have been a joyful gift.  I have felt I was exactly where I am meant to be, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing.
It's been bliss 😃

Friday, 27 January 2017

Happy puppy

There's only a minute of very wobbly video; usually when we play this game it tends to last about ten minutes until Madam is so puffed out she stops bringing the ball back.    I try to avoid kicking it into the hornbeam hedge but don't always succeed - sometimes I manage to get it in the pond:  ooops.

A clear, bright day, birdsong and sunshine, and a very happy Daisy playing her favourite game of rugby 😊😊

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Cloud spotting

(New 2017 blog post published in December 2019)

I am a complete novice when it comes to identifying clouds, but these caught my eye at 4.00pm when Daisy and I were out for a stroll.

Note to self - in 2020 I would like to get much better at photographing and identifying cloud types.  Well,a girl can dream?

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Random and extremes . . .

I made the lovely Kate wince yesterday when she read about my plans to cut up a perfectly good quilt top which I had just spent several hours piecing.  When I went looking for a previous example of this heinous behaviour towards perfectly good fabric I realised that I had never boasted about shared the last time I did this.  So here goes:

I think I may have sewn this top together in or around October 2014:

It put in another appearance in December 2014 - still unquilted, which is not really a surprise!

It looks (from the horrible photo backlog of last year) that I quilted it around Valentines Day during the cleaning up frenzy prior to our farewell party for Danny.

I must have really got a "hurry up" on after that because a week later there was a tiny peek of finished cushion covers

So, nearly a year later (ooops) here they are in all their (squashed and licked by the dog) glory.


I still use them every day and absolutely love them;  they have been so successful that this is why I'm quite looking forward to cutting up the big green piece to do it all over again 😉   It would be good if it doesn't take quite so long this time . . .

Monday, 23 January 2017

A week of extremes

Last week turned out to be a particularly busy one, and looking back nearly everything was done on a rather large scale.

I spent a lot of time piecing the 'random quilt top'.  Quite deliberately I was making this one much, much larger than on previous occasions but there were times when I thought the sewing would never end.  When I finally had all the 2½" strips sewn together the resulting long, long, long strip measured 2,360 inches, or 60.5 metres in new money.  The very first huge seam took forever - and an entire bobbin of bottom thread.

Thankfully once you're past the first couple of massive seams things go much quicker and it wasn't long before the top was declared completed at 71"  x  65".

I want to get this quilted up as quickly as possible - nothing fancy, probably just a freehand stipple - because the piece is destined to be cut up for cushion covers, et al, for the caravan.

Not content with an extremely large pot of Pork & Apple Casserole, we followed this up with a massive Steak & Kidney, so that's another 16 portions in the freezer.

Another 'extreme' which I've finally made a start on is my huge collection of quilt magazines, some of which go back 20 years.   I realised last year that I have barely looked at any of them since we paid Pickfords a small fortune to haul them from Hampshire to Bag End and the awful truth is that if I haven't looked at something in 9½ years am I ever going to?

An entire shelf distilled down to this small pile.  There's one article in each of these that I want to keep, so I'm going to scan the relevant pages, save them as a PDF and bin the paper.  It has been interesting to see how quilting has changed over the last couple of decades and also how much my tastes and interests have moved on.

There are an awful lot more shelves to go through before I've finished 😒

Sunday, 22 January 2017

This week in the garden, 3

Well, a little more than last wek but not by much!  A whole 90 minutes and by getting my head down and working really fast I weeded the entire front bed.  In an ideal world I would have immediately followed this up with a seaweed feed and a thick mulch but it's not an ideal world.

Surprisingly sanguine and unbothered about spending so little time in the garden - instead this week there's been much bulk cooking for the freezer, sewing, progress on decluttering 20 years worth of magazines and a good amount of relaxing. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

No View from Bag End

What a dreary day; cloud so low that although it has not been raining you get wet from all the moisture in the air.   Absolutely no views from Bag End today 😉

Rather than grumble about it I've had a thoroughly satisfying 'indoors day'.  After walking Her Ladyship I got busy with the sewing machine and finished three covered pads for the caravan.  One is to fit a gap between a bulkhead and Daisy's bed where gloves have a nasty habit of disappearing.

The next fills an irritating gap at the end of the nearside mattress.  I get what Bailey have done - the two single beds are different lengths but they have provided identical mattresses, hence a space which was annoying me . . . space no more.

The third pad goes under my pillows.  The surprisingly comfortable 8" thick mattress is higher than the framing at the end of the mattress area which means that pillows have an alarming habit of sloping backwards in a way that my neck doesn't like at all.  A folded towel has sufficed up to now but making a little pad is better.

I was reminded how much I dislike sewing which relates to three-dimensional soft furnishings and why I love making nice flat patchwork quilts! The fitted sheets for the caravan are probably the only ever exception:

(just noticed how horrible one of the cushions which came with the 'van looks - we don't do "shiny fabric" so that's an incentive to make some new covers, not sure why it is in Daisy's bed though?)

It always seems such an indulgent luxury to light the woodburner before it gets dark, and Daisy never minds a few extra hours of laying in front of the fire although she does feel the need to "make a point" when her bed is TEMPORARILY moved so I can vaccuum.

A bit of afternoon telly (yes, another episode of Doc Martin) whilst I caught up with the ironing.

I made one of our bulk casseroles, (Pork, Apple and Mushroom) which gave us 14 portions for the freezer and a lovely supper for tonight, and today was the turn of a huge pot of Steak & Kidney.  The house was smelling wonderful by late afternoon.

And then more sewing.  Lots of very similar green fabrics cut into 2½" strips and sewn back together, firstly in pairs, then fours, and so on until I have a a very, very long strip.   This is my version of the "Jelly Roll Race" quilts that have become so popular in recent years but I prefer my end result with much shorter segments.  Once quilted the fabric is destined to be cut up for caravan projects so I need to get a hurry-up.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

This week in the garden, 2





I have excuses reasons:

Monday - at Moffat
Tuesday - driving home with caravan
Wednesday & Thursday - rubbish weather and the post-trip laundry mountain took  priority
Friday - ah yes, Friday; started so well . . . walked Daisy, did supermarket and other errands, came home, pottered around - and late afternon was struck down with something that could only be described as food poisoning.  No idea where I picked that up?  Nothing strange had been consumed, M and Daisy were perfectly OK so our best guess is maybe I touched something whilst out (supermarket trolley?).
Weekend - collapsed, curled up, did a bit of sewing.  Binge watched the box set of Doc Martin which I bought with some Christmas money.  Am I the LAST PERSON in the world to discover this programme?  What a joy and delight, so gentle but very clever.

It's all First World problems and the garden will still be there tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Spur of the moment

When I got back from errands in Cockermouth on Wednesday morning I was 'caught' by a neighbour who I try to avoid because she often goes into 'campaign mode' on various issues and I do not want to get involved.  She TOLD me that at the weekend I was going to help her do bla bla bla bla bla.  Saying "no" just does not work . . . sigh 😠.  Believe me, I have tried.  I rather over-reacted and told her I wouldn't be doing anything of the sort because we were going away.  Which meant I HAD to find a caravan site in a hurry and book it! Fortunately Management is endlessly supportive when I get myself into spots like this 😀

So Wednesday I drop myself into a hole, Thursday I booked a site, and Friday was spent doing a quick bit of shopping and packing our lovely Rosie.

On Saturday morning we got away just after 11.00am and in less than two hours we were pulling onto a pitch at the gloriously deserted Camping & Caravan Club site in Moffat.  Out of 180 possible pitches (I think that number includes grass space for tents) there were no more than 20 occupied vans and by Monday that had dropped to a dozen.

We're starting to feel considerably more confident and competent these days - it had taken a surprisingly short amount of time to get loaded and hitched on Saturday, and even less time to set up on site and have something to eat.   We all needed a walk and as the weather was grey and chilly the decision was made to stroll around Moffat itself before the light went - what an excellent choice.  We both fell in love with the town, reminded me very much of Cockermouth with its wide street and Georgian buildings, but it had a very Scottish feel to it as well.  If we like the place so much on a cold damp weekend at the beginning of January then we definitely need to return later in the year.

Although I am constantly trying to pare down 'stuff' and unnecessary possessions, I fell in love with a half-price Christmas decoration in the delightful Manse Interiors, definitely a place to return to.  So utterly stinkin' cute I cannot possibly put it away until December . . . for now it will sit on top of the dresser until I find a better place to enjoy it.

A VERY slow start on Sunday meant it was well past midday before we went out 'properly'.  Despite low cloud it wasn't as bad as the pictures imply.  Management kindly drove us up to the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall where we were lucky enough to see one of the peregrine falcons which hunt there. 

At St Mary's Loch we took a very narrow road up into the hills past Megget and Talla reservoirs.  That was gorgeous - completely deserted and lovely scenery.  The boot of M's car took on a very "British roadside picnic' look when we stopped for a quick cuppa and a bun!

Management went home Sunday night (only took him a litle over an hour) so Her Ladyship was able to stretch out on the other sofa - not that she is exactly short of places to relax in the van. 

If only she wasn't such a messy eater 😊

On Monday I spent the whole day with someone who lives near Moffat who I see very rarely.  Pleasant, but sitting down all day is boring and makes my back hurt - humans did not evolve to be couch decoations.

Daisy was not so convinced . . .

The original plan had been to stay until Wednesday.  Once I looked at the weather forecast (thank goodness I took the TP-Link and had a good mobile wifi signal) plans changed . . .thanks to The Met Office and screenshots from the iPad:-

It would have been insane to tow a caravan in those sort of winds, and it's not as if I HAD to stay any longer.  Tuesday's forecast looked much better so I packed up early the following day and left by 11.30.

Got home safely in 1 hour 45, but it was still wetter and windier than I expected.  Never mind, we got back safely and that's what matters.

It was a  lovely little break;  not as calm and relaxing as usual because I was doing something each day but I'm delighted to have got away in the caravan so early in the year, even if it was a spur of the moment running-away-and-hiding exercise.  I guess the nuisance neighbour did me a favour after all!  There is now loads of laundry to be tackled and a completely filthy caravan and car to be washed ... but none of that is happening today.