Saturday, 24 June 2017

How time flies

It is three weeks since I last posted here and only because I didn't think that I was doing anything very interesting and I do not want to bore you!

The weather over the last week or so has been hot, hot, hot which I love, so last weekend's activity with the 50+ Adventure Club took place in the sun.  During our canal boat trip in 2016 I had seen some hydrobikes disappearing in to the distance and I decided that this would be an excellent activity for us and so it proved to be
Off go two of the girls

Just pedal and steer in a gentle curve as the handlebars act as the rudder.  Back peddle to stop or go backwards and that is all there is to it.  They also had tandems (two bikes side by side on three floats) and this tricycle.

I loved the look of this so two of us went out sitting on a very comfortable seat and having a gentle pedal down the River Soar.  It reminded me of a very large pedalo but the steering was quite hard.

A grand day out.

There has been a great deal of bird activity in my garden and I have a flock of sparrows that have had lots of babies and completely emptied my bird feeder in about 8 hours!!  However I have been cultivating this pair of goldfinches
 so imagine my delight when I saw them with this young one fluttering it's wings and asking to be fed.  However this baby had a sibling who spent a long time feeding shortly after the parents and brother/sister flew off.

As you can see it doesn't have the red head like the parents.  That was two weeks ago and Mum or Dad are now back singly so maybe there is another batch of eggs waiting to hatch.

We went out Nordic walking on Monday morning at Stanwick Lakes, with clear blue skies and the temperature rising.  I got very hot and bothered and when it was suggested that we went on a loop, I declined and said I would meet them at the end of the loop.  Whilst waiting I took this photo of the island in the middle of the lake.  There were seagulls everywhere and this fellow -

a panting cormorant, dwarfing the seagulls.

As the weather has cooled slightly towards the end of the week, I decided to go to Land Conservation at Chester Farm.  The men in the group were replacing fence posts but this was too strenuous for me so clearing nettles seemed a gentle pastime.....
mmmm  ...it was hot, sticky and back breaking but I went down the hill and round the corner

and wonderful little orange butterflies (possibly the Comma butterfly) were flying up as I hacked away.  I only kept going thinking that this exercise must be good for me!!!  I spent the afternoon litter picking; a much more relaxed activity.

This spring I bought two Alliums in pots and though my other Alliums are now over and in seed these two have flowered this week and look fantastic.
One bee!  I thought there might be more.

I love them.

I have been keeping up with various projects.  I have made hospital gowns for Pyjama Fairies

had a smocking class and have nearly completed a smocked Christmas bauble
Final row of stitching
and I want to try smocking on adult clothing, having made lots of little dresses for my granddaughters.

Finally our Mini Mania for June is using strips; a minimum of 4 in 4 blocks using 1½" or 2" strips.  Here is a crafty peek
Where are the strips?

Saturday, 3 June 2017

A bit of this and a bit of that!

Towards the end of May the 50+ Adventure Club had an outing to Sywell Aviation Museum as we do take part in some cultural visits!  What a lovely evening it was and though it is only about 10 miles from home I have never visited the site, though I have passed it many times in the car.  The Aviator Hotel, where we met was built in the 1930s in the Art Deco style which is one of my favourites.

We went through the hotel to reach the Museum which is housed in a series of Nissen Huts and I got the impression that they just add more (if they can find them) as the museum expands.
The Hawker Hunter

After looking round the museum we were particularly thirsty as it was a very hot evening and so we sat outside the hotel having a drink and watching various small planes landing and taking off.  We saw this powered parachute take off and flyaway and then it flew back, turned off the engine and floated down with a text book landing.
It reminded me of my own, but tandem, parachute jump that I did in January 2006 on an intensely cold and frosty morning.
Head first out of the plane

Sky diving
Parachute open - phew!!
Gently down

Note that my legs are longer than his and this was the result -
a heap on the ground
But I was soon up and getting a hug from him
Left to right - my friend arriving and the other parachutist who took the photos

My friend (who had already done her jump) and I raised a huge amount of money for charity.

Once again another day of 'Potwashing' for the Chester Farm project and because it was a lovely sunny day we were able to put the cleaned items outside to dry.  You will notice that we use egg trays because this helps with draining the wet items.
Could these be a 'Jawbone of an Ass'?!!

This tray is interesting because it shows the bag it came in underneath and this has a code on it that will correspond to a location on the site map.  The tray has oyster shells that may have been both seawater and freshwater and there is also a piece of charcoal.

Here is another interesting 'find'.  Top left (the very dark bone) is a piece of bone that is blackened round the edges indicating that it had been cooked over a fire and then it may have been gnawed.  The middles part is still quite wet from washing hence the darker colour in the middle.

A Roman 'pie dish' but turn it over and there was this lovely pie crust edging underneath

clearly blackened from cooking.  Finally a piece of glazed Medieval pot that had a beautiful lustre to it.

In July I am leading a 'box making' project for Higham Piecemakers so yesterday friend L and I set out early for Hertford to look at what Pinflair had to offer.  We went via the A1M and I had just mentioned that this was a good road with little traffic and few hold ups when we stopped in a traffic jam.  After consulting our phones we could see there was a accident and after a short wait we carried on.  At this point I was talking so much that I missed my turn off and suddenly we stopped again.  This time it was engines off, windows and doors open and drivers wandering around.  It was about 10.30am and our phones said the accident would clear by 3.00pm!!!  I have to say that L was a steadying influence because on my own I would have been very impatient and angry as I hate queues of traffic.  Luckily after about an hour we started off very slowly past an accident on our side of the road and another fatality on the other side of the dual carriageway.  So sad for the family of the motor cyclist who had been killed.

We reached Hertford and did our business at Pinflair and walked a short distance into the town centre where we had lunch and afterwards admired this town house
The Old Verger's House built in 1450

Thank goodness for Blue Plaques!

While we were having lunch in the café garden a huge iridescent insect flew by and settled in the box hedging and I managed to grab a picture of it.
Head down I think

It was much more iridescent than this shows and I have no idea what species of bug it is.  Any answers will be considered!!

Well our Mini Manias for May were revealed.  I showed a sneaky peek in the last blog but here is the finished article.
Tumbling blocks

The blocks were pieced over papers but once finished I used Invisible Machine Applique learnt at a Dawn Cameron Dick workshop and a technique that I love working with.

This months theme is strips, either 1 ½" or 2", with a minimum of 4 in a block.  I am getting some ideas just must find time to put them into practice.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Manic May!

Following on from my last post I can now say that everything is back to normal.  My insurance companies have paid out for the handbag and it's contents  and the car insurance has got the car locks changed.  I have bought a key safe for outdoors and am waiting for it to be fitted, so all is good now.

In the meantime life has gone on as usual and so busy.  On the craft side I have one or two WIPs (Works in Progress) and some finished items.
April Mini Mania

As you probably guess, this was triangles and I enjoyed making this.  For May it is 'Tumbling Blocks' to be pieced over papers and definitely not my favourite method of sewing.  I like using the sewing machine for everything.  Hand sewing is tedious but I must obey!!
Sneaky peak WIP

At Higham Piecemakers group Diana Turner came along and showed us some stumpwork, a very old technique.  Once again mine is a WIP

but I will finish her.  I did finish my Bobble Bag, a very useful little bag at about 6" in height.

For those who follow Attic24 I am crocheting her Moorland blanket, though I have now slowed down on this because I am currently knitting a cardigan and keep the Moorland Blanket for crochet group, so another WIP!!

Yesterday I went to 'Pot Washing' for Chester Farm.  There has been a great deal of archaeological digging there, keeping ahead of the building contractors and though most of the washing was of pieces of Roman pot there were one or two interesting finds.
A Victorian halfpenny
Trying to put a Roman pot together

I had this to wash -
Very heavy

a large stone held in the hand and used as a hammer.  Not sure what date.
A beautifully detailed piece of Roman Samian ware
Note the small hole on the right hand corner; we were told this had been repaired at some time, perhaps when in use.

Finally, my sister in law phoned yesterday afternoon and asked me if I wanted to go to the theatre in Oundle last night.  Her two granddaughters go to Oundle School and the younger one was in Wind in the Willows at the Stahl Theatre, put on by her class group.  I accepted very quickly and really enjoyed this very professional production and my unexpected evening out.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Very highs and very lows

For the 'very highs' I was away for a walking weekend with the 50+ Adventure Club and sharing a flat with six other ladies.  We set off in two cars and on the way met up with some of the group for a bluebell walk at West Woods, Marlborough.  It was glorious -

a beech wood with sun dappled shade and then out onto the glorious downs for a further short walk with views!

It was a companionable 4.5 mile walk with friends.

Saturday saw us up bright and early for the next walk and we assembled at Avebury and it's stone circles and set off uphill on a colder and windier day than yesterday.  Up we climbed crossing the Ridgeway en route for the top of the Downs.  We stopped for lunch amongst the gorse bushes and some very conveniently placed large stones to sit on.  At our age we are not too good at sitting on the ground!!!!  Suddenly we saw this,

a mass exodus of the ladies heading for their own gorse bush - I leave your imaginations to wonder what this was about!  Suffice to say the men and the remaining ladies fell about in hysterics of laughter!

We crossed the Ridgeway again
Look under the left hand pointer and see the runners

and passed runners of all ages going up the hill as we came down back again into Avebury.  A cup of tea revived us after this 7.5 mile walk.  I took these photos of some stones just to prove I had been there but the stone circles here are numerous.

That night we all met up for a meal.

Sunday morning was much better weather wise as it was less windy and sunny and we all met together at Barbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort, 2,500 years old.  The castle is on a hill which meant we started off downhill for a change and the views were brilliant on a much clearer day.  There are a number of horse racing training stables in this area and there were 'gallops' on both our walks, but the most interesting feature was a racecourse hidden away in a valley below us

At the top of the triangle, where the bushes are it is open which is not clear on the photo and down the left hand side are hurdles for training the 'jumpers'.

We crossed the Ridgeway again

and headed down the bridleway for a lunch stop and the last push back up to the car park.  What goes down has to come up again and this was steep!

This photo doesn't really show what a short, but steep climb it was, but back in the car park we found an ice cream van which was oh so welcome after our 4 mile walk.  After a short walk to see the 'castle hill fort' itself we headed home.

Now to the 'very lows'.  After the bluebell walk on Friday we got back to the cars to find the back window of one of our cars smashed and my handbag, which had been covered, had been stolen.  Luckily I had my purse and credit cards with me.  Everything else gone - ipod, ipad - a Christmas present from sons, car key(no spare it was in the handbag) and house keys had gone, and my lovely Italian handbag that I had bought in Florence last November!  I discovered my mobile in my rucksack on Saturday night - thank goodness.  The police attended but I have had a very stressful few days sorting everything out.

However my group were absolutely brilliant and my six flatmates best of all through this and provided mobiles when I thought I did not have mine.  We also had a stress busting meal in an Italian restaurant on Friday night when copious wine was drunk!  It helped no end!!  Thank goodness for good friends who get you through the tough times and I know in a few months we will all be laughing about it and remembering the raucous Friday evening meal!