Friday, 13 January 2017

Christmas and New Year is a distant memory!

We are well and truly into January and my diary is already getting full.

My first big outing was last Saturday at the 50+ Adventure Club annual barn dance.  It is always a very popular event and this year was no exception.  We have tried a number of bands over the years but this year we had The Banana Band who were excellent and played non-stop all night.  Any band we have enjoy coming because we get up and dance from the very beginning and never stop!

We have already booked them for next year.

I was also back at Chester Farm for 'land conservation' this week but the morning was slightly different.  The unused fields attached to the farm are going to be used for livestock and so we had to walk the fields, noting hazards, broken fences and anything else that maybe required before letting them loose.  I have never been in this part of the farm before so it was very interesting and immediately I found a dead Barn Owl.  I think this was a recent death as there was no decomposition and as I had no camera with me at the time I took it back to the centre to record.  Not for the squeamish so look away now!!

What a beautiful bird
After lunch the rain which had been slight in the morning increased, but with my full waterproofs on we (there were only 2 of us) carried on clearing the ground.  I wasn't cold as I had so many layers on but my glasses needed windscreen wipers.  We saw interesting fungi
Purple pore bracket fungus

and this turns into this

This fungus turns orangey brown and then becomes stained with green from the algae. Not my own work, but information courtesy of our volunteer organiser.  However it is MY hand in the top photo wearing my very soggy gloves and her camera because at that precise moment my camera fogged up -
You can just make out my hand!

as I had been keeping it dry inside my waterproofs.  However if anyone knows what this is on the log I would love to know - is it fungus or lichen?

On the way back to base to return the equipment I noticed this man whose work must be never ending
Washing down the wheels before going onto the highway

and no wonder after this
Mud, mud, mud

A slightly different landscape now compared to the summer

Apparently the Klargester Septic tank has now been installed!!  There are also archaeologists on site, keeping one step ahead of builders, still finding more Roman pottery!

I have started a new canvas work embroidery over the Christmas holiday.  When finished it will be a little 'weight' but still a lot to do.
 I bought the large magnet at Alexandra Palace last summer
The base is a sampler to try new stitches and get the colours right

I have plenty of other items to keep me busy, sewing, knitting, smocking and crocheting so perhaps next time there will be something to show!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year weekend

Well, 2016 finished me off mechanically!  My plan was to spend New Year with my son and his family in Kent and I set off in my car, on an icy, foggy, Friday morning.  I should have realised that I was fated when I went down the small hill near the house, applied the brakes and went into a skid, but luckily stopped before the main road.

Anyway the clutch was causing me problems and by the time I had been going about 45 minutes it stopped working altogether and so I coasted to a gentle halt on the busy A1 heading to London. Luckily the breakdown came quickly, told me that he couldn't do anything and so me and my car parted company!!!!  Me to be taken to the nearest train station and the car to be towed home to my garage for repair; in that order!  So that is how the weekend started but luckily improved very quickly and as I know my way around our train network I was soon at my son's home.

Next morning we all went to the pantomime in Canterbury to see Dick Whittington
Taken by my son with permission of the show

After lunch we looked round the outside of Canterbury Cathedral the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leading cleric of the Anglican Church. Unfortunately services were taking place so we couldn't go inside.
Taken from the theatre

The Christmas crib
I discovered that my daughter in law was in the 6th form of King's School, Canterbury whose buildings are in the grounds of the cathedral so she showed us around.

The Norman staircase built in 1153

View from the top
 The stairs of the staircase were very, very worn!   We loved this shop -
Look at the front door!!  The whole building has sagged
Finally before we left the Cathedral we looked at the figures in the niches.  Two I recognised
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh
but then I needed one other and my son found him -
Archbishop Chichele -
who was born in Higham Ferrers, the town next to mine.  Job done!

The weather changed for New Years Day as we headed out for a walk by the sea.  We had to change our plans because of this and it was also high tide.
We couldn't see France

though we did try with the binoculars!!

The other grand-daughter had scootered on ahead!

Sculpture using the old 'groynes' from the sea
It was cold, windy and wet as we walked along the new South Coast sea defences at Camber and I remembered that the last time I was there, the sun shone and the children played in the sand dunes!!  However it was very invigorating.

On the journey back home we passed this little church on the marshes that has been used for filming Great Expectations.
Fairfield Church
Very isolated.  Perhaps in better weather we could go and explore it.

Finally back at home, can I wish everyone a Happy New Year, with the hope that 2017 is full of laughter, friends and family and hobbies (in the loosest form) which for me is lots of 'craftiness'.  I am not making any resolutions but I do have a number of projects in the planning.  I hope that they all turn out as I envisage them!!

Thursday, 29 December 2016


Last week I had my usual Tuesday trip to Bedford to look after great-nephew, Will.  As all our normal outings were cancelled because they only happen in term time we went to the library where he did a lot of gluing, scrunching, sticking and colouring and made a Christmas wreath and card for 'Mummy'.  Just down the road I had seen a very large poster on the walls of the Panacea Society advertising the ADP Riot Tour so I took Will to have a look.  I also wanted to see into the grounds, houses and museum of the Panacea Society, which is normally closed on a Tuesday.

In the garden was the 40' container with eyeholes in the side and after obtaining a stool for Will, we had a look
Note the eyeholes at different heights
I apologise for the photos, but it was difficult to get up close with my camera.
A new citadel

The world in miniature, predicting it's end and Armageddon on Christmas Day.  For some reason Bedfordshire would survive because they are gong to build the new Citadel there!!  Wonderful conceptual artwork.

Afterwards we looked round the rooms in the houses all furnished to receive the 24 Bishops of the Church of England to open Joanna Southcott's box.
The sitting room with dining table
A bedroom fit for a bishop!

Anyway, Armageddon has been and gone and we are still here!!  I will not make any comment on others beliefs.

I spent Christmas Day with one of my nieces and woke up to this sunrise on Boxing Day

after very heavy rain overnight.  A noisy day ensued when others joined the party and copious amounts of food and drink were produced.  A good time was had by all.

I can now show pictures of the Weekend Bags that I made for my three grand-daughters and have discovered that I forgot to take any photos of them so use the link to see what they look like.  I filled them with little girl goodies.

Finally, a Happy New Year to you all and I hope that we have a peaceful one.

Friday, 16 December 2016

""Nothing to laugh at, at all.....!"

The title of this blog is regularly paraphrased in my family and goes back to my childhood when we had a 78rpm record of Stanley Holloway singing about 'Albert and the Lion' and it is how I have felt lately.  Nothing that would be interesting to blog about; you don't want to hear all about the Christmas or 'bring and share' lunches that I have been to or how like a beached whale I have felt after all this eating, or the mundane things I have done. 

However after nearly three weeks I must write something or you might think that I don't care!!

Since the last blog, I have had the reveal on our November Mini Mania, which was an appliqued item with a creature and a plant.

I love this picture which I have used before and added the Christmas Rose and holly.  I have always called the technique backside applique because though the fabric is layered up on the right side the picture is on the back.  I have used it many times and very intricate pictures can be sewn.  We have two months for the next Mini Mania to be completed; 'House and Home' - a minimum of 5  buildings in a street.

Last weekend was spent with my eldest son in Kent.  His brother and family joined us as we are not meeting for Christmas this year (both at their in-laws), presents were exchanged and I had a splendid but busy time.  After attending the local school Christmas Fayre, where my son won the 'Barrow of Booze' we all went to a Roller Disco on Saturday night.  I did not skate but my grandchildren loved it -
Grandson's first time and looking good
Next morning we all went for a walk in the woods

and this was the destination -
The rubber tyre swing over the stream
We had to drag the children away as they were loving it.  I can't watch as I can only think that the rope will snap!

Back home there was a 'bring and share' picnic at our Higham Piecemakers sewing group and we received our Christmas Challenge which is always so exciting.

We were given a fat quarter of fabric and received this


that has to be turned into the Fractured Star block and then made into any item of our choice and all to be completed by early April.  I am thinking up my ideas as a write this as I like to be different; so a WIP (Work in Progress).

I am also working on a new piece of embroidery and I am knitting as well, but more about that in a later post.

Today I have been Nordic walking and we were joined by another local group

Very foggy when we set out
Fog was lifting before the end
and towards the end we crossed the river again and saw this

Narrow boating in December!!
This is my last blog for 2016, so can I wish everyone a very merry and peaceful Christmas wherever you are and I look forward to a busy 2017.  I know it will be as I have just won fabric in the Pyjama Fairies '12 days of Christmas' and it will be delivered in January!!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


It all started last March when I mentioned to my younger son that I wanted to visit my cousin in Florence, Italy.  I last saw her at her father's funeral some 20+ years ago and as I get older I feel that I don't want to meet cousins at each other's funerals!!!  Son immediately said "Why don't I run the Florence Marathon at the end of November" and that is what happened, except along the way, son's brother in law also wanted to do the marathon as well.

So off I flew last Thursday, as the first part of the group, arrived at the 'Air bnb' apartment we had booked and was delighted that we were very, very, close to the Ponte Vecchio.
Our apartment is on 2nd floor of block on right

Outside our window was this 'windmill' art installation which appeared very popular.
Back of the Ponte Vecchio
All jewellers shops and tourists
That evening I was meeting my cousin at her apartment for a meal and we never stopped talking and catching up.  What a lovely evening.
Next morning was spent looking around and getting my bearings. (Lots of photos to follow)

Ponte Santa Trinita from Ponte Vecchio

Palazzo Vecchio

Galleria degli Uffizi

Statue (copy) of David by Michelangelo outside Palazzo Vecchio

Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

An unusual bike I saw in the street!

A typical central Florentine street

Only way to get around - a scooter

'Il Porcellino' - Piglet

The Duomo

Campanile and the dome of the Duomo

Inside the Duomo

The 24 hour clock in the Duomo

Inside the Duomo
Though not a Catholic I have been in many Catholic churches abroad and have been amazed at the decorations, but this cathedral was very austere inside.   
The apartment was very close to

and I realised that if I needed to know "how much" I couldn't afford to shop there!!
The 'boys' registered for the Marathon at the 'Expo'

and once again I did the touristy bit with them and in the evening we met up with my cousin for a meal and I snapped night photos.
Ponte Vecchio at night

Christmas lights in the main shopping area

I popped up on various places on the marathon course, but only saw my son once to cheer him on, but both of them did well with 'brother in law' getting a personal best and son overcoming an injury and finishing well at just under 4 hours - his 60th marathon!  He had completed 50 marathons by his 40th birthday and wants to complete 100 by the time he is 50, so he is well on course.
A group of runners outside the Apartment, going off to the start close by
On Monday morning my son and I had a quick walk in the Oltrarno district on the other side of the river Arno before leaving for home.
Palazzo Pitti
Wedding cakes in a shop window
Porta Romano

For myself -  I met my cousin again after 25+ years, completed my Christmas shopping and visited a lovely Italian city that I had last been to 50 years ago when newly married.  What a wonderful weekend.