Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Dorset in the Sunshine!

We've had a fabulous weekend away in Dorset during 3 lovely sunny days sandwiched between dull, wet weather.  How lucky are we!  We stayed at the welcoming La Fosse in Cranborne where we enjoyed tasty local produce and 2 comfortable nights accommodation.

La Fosse (on the right)
On a cold, bracing, but beautifully sunny morning we set off after breakfast to do the local walk around Cranborne Estate.   Whereas the focus on our local walk in April was flowers, this walk was heaving with Autumn produce.
I was sorry not to have a container to pick the blackberries.

Apparently you can eat these hawthorn berries but I don't know if they have to be cooked first. They're supposed to be good for the heart.
Ripe, juicy elderberries that I wish I knew what to do with (we're not really into making wine).
These handsome beasts looked very contented.  OH commented that they must be quite docile as these days horns would normally be removed to prevent them hurting eachother.
This fella was looking very smug lording it over his herd!

Sloes were hanging in abundance (another fruit I don't know what to do with - we're not into sloe gin).  Don't know why OH tasted one because he knows how bitter they are!! (This photo is the wrong way up but I don't know which way it goes)

Taking a breather on a log.  A couple of minutes later a flock of partridges flew up out of the crop in the field behind me.  We saw lots of game birds and birds of prey but I'm not quick enough with the camera to catch them.
There is, in fact, a bird of prey in the distance in this photo hovering somewhere in front of the wood on the hill. (Don't try to find it!! I only know it's there because I could see it moving when I took the pic - I can't see it now!!)
Part of the walk took us through ancient woodland............

.............emerging onto a country lane. Not far to go now.

In the afternoon we visited the quaint, historic towns of Fordingbridge and Lyndhurst where we visited tea rooms..............
..........looked around a church on a hill..........

...........and admired the old, red-brick buildings, characteristic of the area. 
A little old-fashioned shop window caught my eye with it's display of an old hand-wheel operated sewing machine along with vintage sewing and knitting patterns and accessories.  It was The Old Apothecary in Lyndhurst and I'm pleased to find that they have a website because it was so busy I didn't stay as long as I would have liked.

Next Saturday is our October Quilting Club meeting and we're having an Open Day.  We're going to be serving tea and cakes and inviting the public to come and see demonstrations in progress as well as finished items.  I hope it's a success and we get lots of interest from the local community (not our local community - it's in a town about half an hour away).  Btw, I don't think I've mentioned that I agreed to be co-opted as secretary of the group for a year - I don't think it will be too onerous a task especially as the rest of the committee have agreed to arrange meetings around me, because I work full-time and live further away from them.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 24 September 2010

Am I Left or Right?

I don’t mean politically, I mean ‘handed’. I say I’m left-handed and people see me writing and say, “ I didn’t know you were left-handed!” But am I really!!!!

There are lots of activities I do with my right hand; using a knife for chopping, slicing etc, using scissors, using a knife and fork, knitting, crocheting, playing tennis, darts or bowling, waving and many others. However, there are some that I can only do comfortably left-handedly such as writing, using a spoon, knife sharpening, golf, cricket, pining of fabric and hand sewing. Then there are the occasional activities I could do almost as comfortably with either hand, like beating a cake mix or cleaning windows. This doesn’t mean I’m ambidextrous since that means having the ability to use either had with equal ease in all cases but I would say I use my right hand much more than my left. Is it only writing that is counted when defining a persons ‘handedness’?

The left-handed activity that causes me the most problems is pining of fabric. If I pin seams with my left hand, the pins are facing in the wrong direction for machine sewing. I’ve tried pining the opposite way but it feels awkward and is not very accurate. I put the pins in horizontally quite often but that’s not always possible.

Apparently, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and vice verse. My DS is more left-handed than me and has a t-shirt with the slogan “only left-handed people are in their right mind”! Which side of my brain is in control, I’d like to know!!

I've joined a quilting bee!!!  I'm so exited to be involved with this.  It's the first one I've been asked to join that I feel I have the time to actually take part in.  It's organised by Bellsjo and is called the Tag Square Bee. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Bye for now
Teresa x

P.S.  My DD has informed me that the rabbit I identified as a 'Dutch' in my post about Usk Show is in fact a 'Rex'!!  I thought I'd remembered one breed but even that was wrong :-(

Monday, 20 September 2010

Is This Progress?..........I Hope So!

Last Saturday was like an Indian Summer.  It was a glorious sunny day  - the sort of day that makes you feel good and puts a smile on the faces of people as you meet them.  Saturday Singing group started up again after the summer break and we practised a few pieces to perform at a charity event in a couple of weeks.

 It was also the weekend of Abergavenny Food Festival and although it's only 10 miles down the road, I've never been to it!  DH cooked there one year for the restaurant he was working in at the time, but this year he went as a visitor.  He came home with  chorizo sausages, black pudding and a pig's cheek! I took a photo but forgot to load it, and this new system won't let me load more once done, but believe me, it's not a pretty sight.  I don't know what I expected but it LOOKS like a pig's cheek!!!! And it's in my fridge!!!!!  Luckily, he's going to ?treat? my OH and is cooking it tonight!  Remind me why I became veggie!
 This pile is the progess I mention in the title.  It's not pretty but it's something. 
 The 'progress' in question involved pressing 176 HST's...........

.............and laying them out on the kitchen table, which actually took quite a while when trying not to put the same fabrics too close to eachother.  The next question should be - How long before we get to eat at the table because they're not moving until I can sew them together?!!  In other words - When will I get my next 'time for stitching'?

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 17 September 2010

Out and About!

Do you ever get times when you arrange things weeks in advance then find when the time arrives you've booked yourself up completely for a whole week!! The summer holidays are over and clubs and associations are meeting again after the break.  This week is going as follows: Monday - Choir practice, Tuesday - launch evening of friend's business, Wednesday - Singing lesson, Thursday - Ladies Group evening out, Friday - one of 3 Harvest services, Saturday - meal out for friend's birthday.  I should learn to turn things down now and then (but I enjoy them all!).  Reluctantly, however, I've decided not to go to the service on Friday.  I was going to miss the singing lesson but after I managed a top 'D' during the warm up last week the teacher persuaded me to go again, especially as it's his last lesson with us until November.

 Last Saturday (while the Relish was in the slow cooker!) OH and I popped along to Usk Show for a few hours in the afternoon for a relaxing stroll around the stalls and exhibits.  We were just in time to see the parade of vintage tractors.  I told OH he should get his tractors ready and enter them next year (he's got 2!!) so he could drive one around the show and me the other (I was only joking about me!!).
 The sun was shining down on all the animals in their pens who were enjoying some feed after a hard day parading.
 At various times we bumped into DD, DS, an uncle & aunt and various friends and being only 5 miles from our village this was inevitable.  It's such a social occasion and a friendly show with great atmosphere.
 As rabbits are DD's speciality I went into the Rabbit tent with her to explain all the different breeds to me.  Actually, I dragged her in for the second time because she'd already seen it once! I think this one is a Dutch but that's about all I can remember.  I would have liked to get some pictures of the entries in the craft competitions but they were all covered in polythene so it was difficult to see them, let alone photograph them.  I can understand the food being covered but not the craftwork.  I was surprised at the low number of entries in the patchwork and knitting sections but then again, I don't think to enter anything myself so I've no-one to blame.
 These 2 photos are from my friends business launch.  She put in a huge amount of preparation and was really exited to get going.  Unfortunately, the local papers (for what ever reason) didn't publish her advert and article about the event.  In the end there were just 14 friends and relatives in attendance in a beautiful room in a lovely hotel all set up and waiting for the chance to impress.  Well, we made the best use of an unfortunate situation as my friend used us as guinea pigs for her presentation with some useful feedback offered.  We're all set to do it again at a different venue in October.
Oh and I suppose I ought to mention that Wednesday was my 26th wedding anniversary.   OH and I are going away for a weekend soon so that will be time to slow down and celebrate.

Bye for now.
Teresa x

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Making the Best of What We Have!

In a continuing effort to leave as small a 'footprint' as possible on the planet as I can, whenever we need or want something we look amongst the things we already own for a solution.  Therefore, needing more storage for the 'shed' we unearthed these 2 grotty-looking specimens (as shown in an earlier post).   
Here they are almost finished and ready for use.  There's not much of a difference, I grant you. We stripped off the old fabric from the tops and gave them a coat of paint (with the remains of a half-used tin in OH's shed).  Then I chose some fabric from my stash that I'd previously thrifted (yes it is different although it may not seem so at first glance) and covered the tops using upholstery tacks also from OH's shed (I'm amazed at what he's got stashed away in there!).  They're usable now although I intend to replace the handle and line them with paper at some point.
I'm ashamed to say that it's taken me 10 months to get around to making up this handy shopping bag from the fabric I was sent after winning one of 100 'green' bags from Green Bag Lady during Sew Mama Sew's giveaway day last year.  Now I have to find someone who will appreciate and use it, to give to.  It's just a simple tote bag but is a good size and will fold up quite small to tuck into a handbag.
I'm trying to think of more ways to reduce my waste of paper and water. With that in mind I bought these napkins a few weeks ago to take to work (or anywhere else I take food) to use instead of paper serviettes.  It'll only make a miniscule difference but it all helps.  On the subject of water, I need to cut the length of my morning showers and stop running the tap to rinse dishes while washing up.
Here are some napkins I bought from a charity shop a few weeks ago. I'm beginning to remember to take them every day with my lunch, altough it took a while.
Talking of using what we've got, my mother gave me some apples from her tree a week or so ago and as most of them had little holes (the evidence of unwanted occupation), I didn't put them in the fruit bowl but chopped them up with other fruits to make this Autumn Relish from a recipe in my slow cooker book.  We haven't tried it yet so the jury's still out on the result but I hope the fact that my OH had all the windows in the house open the next morning to get rid of the lingering smell isn't an indication of the taste!
Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 6 September 2010

Messing about on the River!

My OH and 5 friends decided to enter the local Raft Race this year.  Organised by the Rotary Club, the event is held every year on the River Wye starting in Monmouth.   Their raft looked much the same as many of the 60+ crafts in attendance on the day.  But when it came to it, it was surprising how much difference there was. 
Apart from the serious racing rafts which set off first, they all placed their rafts in the river in turn and set off.  As ours was almost the last to set off we watched with anticipation as rafts broke apart when contestants got on or up-turned completely when fully loaded.

 If there was a prize for the best turned out raft, this one above should have won it by a mile.

 Thankfully, it was quite stable, easy to manoeuvre and went well.

 Off they go to the first bridge where onlookers 'traditionally' throw things like eggs and flour at the competitors!! Fun eh?!!  Incidentally, it rained most of the day - not that it bothered them, they got wet anyway.
 Rafts heading for the half way bridge, where this pic was taken from, and another dosing of eggs/flour bombs.
 This was also the location of an optional pit stop (a pub standing right next to the river) and the place we went to meet up.  The raft-park above with a clamber up muddy bank to the pub.

 See how many costumes you can spot.  It's still raining but no-one cares by now!!
Here they are on the home straight.  Two of them had just gone in for a dunking with one still struggling to get back on here.  We watched, incredulous, as the 2 just appeared to jump in one after the other!  They told us afterwards that they had to 'go in' because they were coming to the finish line and the others had all gone in at some point (one had even dived in after some dropped chocolate!).  That's male logic for you!!

We all sang Happy Birthday to my OH as he came dripping out up the bank at the end (he's getting too old to be doing things like this :-)  )  and then we finished off the day by erecting a BBQ and gazebo (while the men dried off and changed) for some very welcome refreshment.
After a couple of quieter weekends, it's back to the post-summer routines, so apart from the raft race on Sunday I had my monthly quilting club day on Saturday and went to the local theatre to see a Queen tribute band on Firday evening (which we enjoyed only because they were so bad they were hilarious).

Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 3 September 2010

House to Home!

I came across some photos as I was rummaging in the cupboard under the stairs a couple of weeks ago and thought they would make an interesting little post.  I'm hoping you won't notice that you've got 'before and after' pics of a house instead of the promised furniture makeover.

This is Huntsmans Cottage where my OH and I lived when we were first married in 1984 (OH had already lived here for a while with his first wife).  It's a beautiful picturesque cottage in a peaceful country location, although some rooms were quite cold in winter and it needed some modernisation.  With it being a 'tied house' (that is - it came with OH's job and is located on the estate where he works) and a listed building, we were restricted as to what could be done to improve it.  The layout inside left a lot to be desired when you could only get to the bathroom through the kitchen and, there being no door at the back, you had to walk all the way around the house to get to the garden (the green front door you see was not in use).
(If you look closely you can see the children looking out of the bedroom windows)

 When the children came along I felt increasingly isolated here and longed to live back amongst people in the village which was about 3 miles away.  When an opportunity arose to own our own little cottage in the village we jumped at the chance.
(The front of Huntsmans Cottage with DS by the door)
 And this (below) is what we were faced with!!  The house where my father and his brothers and sister were born and grew up which had been empty for many years.  I can hardly believe my grandparents brought up 6 children in this tiny cottage.  Apparently, the older children used to sleep next door at a relative's and they were also quite spread out in age which must have helped.
Planning and paperwork took a while but eventually work began.  There wasn't much left when it was stripped back.  At one stage we nearly lost the side wall on the right too but the builders managed to save it.
It took a couple of years in all but eventually we moved in in 1992 when the children were 4 and 6.


And this is how it looks today (the porch was added a couple of years ago).  It's not very different in style because we live in a conservation area and had to keep the general look of the building as it was. My auntie now lives next door, where my great aunt used to live until she died in 1978.  She moved there with my grandmother (who died in 1988 if I remember correctly) from our house about 12 years before we came along.  A little further down the road you can just see the end of my parents house.

I enjoyed this little amble down memory lane. It brought back some lovely memories, such as the the things I have in common with my grandmother.  Apart from living in the same house, we were also both members of the church choir (I still am!), members of the church council and Head Cook at the local school.
Thank you for the lovely comments recently but I'm afraid I haven't been able to reply to some.  I replied to a few but for others I didn't receive an email so couldn't answer.  I try to answer all comments when you lovely people make the effort to leave them and am disappointed when I can't.  I do appreciate you taking the time to 'connect' as it makes all your blogs become more alive to me (and if you don't have a blog you're still very welcome).

Bye for now
Teresa x