Wednesday, 21 September 2011

27 Years and Counting!

Rather than take a new book away, I decided to take the one I've been reading at work during my lunch hour: Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything".  I'm really enjoying the fascinating run-through of the history of planet earth, with all the interesting facts (and guesses) as to how we got to where we are now.

Unfortunately, I was up to the chapter concerning the atmosphere when we boarded the plane, which proceeded to describe the phenomenon of  'clear-air turbulence' and a typical incident when a flight suddenly fell 90 metres flinging passengers against the ceiling! It also helpfully described air pressure and explained how it tries to equalise itself, like 'in a balloon, an air tank or an airplane with a missing window'!!  It was a good thing the flight was only 45 minutes long.

Moore's Hotel in St Peter Port, Guernsey where we stayed
 Just like Jersey, which we visited a few years ago, Guernsey was occupied during WW2.  A visit to the Occupation Museum was a must for us, with the most interesting exhibits (to me) being the ones that showed how the lives of civilians were affected by the presence of the Germans.  In the typical parlour scene below the mother is keeping watch as the father listens for news on his homemade radio set.  All radios were confiscated by the Germans so the people improvised to make crystal sets, then had to find ingenious ways to hide them from searches. I also found the personal items very poignant; newpaper articles, postcards, diaries and especially photographs.

The remains of the defences built by the Germans are in evidence all around the coast, as we saw on our drive around the island.
 Although 'British' in many aspects, Guernsey is a Crown Dependency and therefore rules itself.  As a result there are subtle differences.  The driving experience was one of the most notable differences to us.  The registration plates had only numbers with no letters.  There were few roads more than 2 lanes in total, and most of them were hardly wide enough for 2 vehicles to pass, so the maximum speed limit is 35mph. And where we have signs at junctions saying 'Stop' or 'Give Way', they had 'Filter In Turn' - and they did!! 

Our hire car

 The way of life is generally very relaxed and certainly conducive to unwinding on holiday,

 enjoying the views......

.......and the food!

We hadn't thought of visiting this Little Chapel but did so on the recommendation of our hotel manager. While we were there an elderly couple asked OH if he would mind taking their photo in front of it.  They were on holiday to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and were revisiting the places from their honeymoon. We had a lovely chat as they explained how they'd flown to Guernsey all those years ago in a 12 seater plane, where they could see the controlling cables moving under the wooden planks beneath their feet and the pilot looked like "Captain Bird's Eye".  We told them it was a co-incidence that we were also celebrating our anniversary but they had 33 years on us.  When we later realised it must have been only 5 or 6 years after the liberation of the islands when they visited, it somehow brought the history there to life. 

This display of sewing machines is on show at a Folk Museum we visited.  The oldest (on top of the cream stand at the back) was from the late 1800's.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are still a few like the one on the bottom right still in use today - I can certainly remember family members having similar ones.
There were also lots of workshop set-ups showing the tools and methods of different trades in the past.  This cooper (barrel maker) has slight damage to his left hand just at the base of the thumb.  I thought he would be made of a hard material but it looked like sponge inside so I leant in and touched it.  He was a lot lighter and less stable than I expected and immediately started rocking.  It looked for all the world like he was working on his piece of wood (a bit spooky actually, as I was alone at the time!). OH couldn't resist touching either, when I told him, and almost knocked him over!!

It was very windy and turbulent on the flight home but, luckily, I'd moved on from the chapter on the Atmosphere and was now onto Bacteria.  We had to wait about half an hour for our luggage when we got home and when they appeared I can honestly say I have never seen so many people running around the conveyor belt after their bags!  It reminded me of a game we used to play as kids where one child would skip around the outside of a circle of children facing inwards while singing a song, eventually dropping a piece of paper that represented a letter behind one, whereupon they would both run in opposite directions around the circle to get back to the space.  The one left out would then skip round, and so on. 

Stitching progress since last time:

Knitted cardigan - All I've managed this time are a couple of hours knitting.
Does reading a patchwork magazine on holiday count I wonder. 

Bye for now
Teresa x

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Show Business!

I managed to prise OH away from the World Cup Rugby on Saturday and dragged him out along to mutterings such as "It's too cold!", "It's too windy" and "It's going to rain!" Then we were soon on our way to Usk Show.  It's the nearest agricultural show of the season to us and, although not as big as others, much more friendly.

Despite the threatening clouds, we had only a couple of light showers during the day, which the gusty winds quickly blew away.  We were able to sit on the grass enjoying the pies, olives and Welsh Cakes we bought in the local food producers marquee (luckily, OH had insisted on bringing a picnic blanket).

 It was a very pleasant day, spent looking at exhibits and stalls, animals and displays of all kinds.  I'm afraid I missed the best photo opportunities - but that's what happens when you're enjoying yourself! OH was particularly interested in the farm machinery and vehicles but (im)patiently waited for me outside the crafters marquees, with the other men!!  We bumped into many family members and friends on our way round and I took the opportunity to speak to a local lady I'd heard about who has a business sewing from the shed in her garden.  We also popped into the Rotary Club tent where my mother was taking blood pressures and advising people who needed to get further help.  Apparently, according to my BP I'm "disgustingly healthy".  There was also a 'first' for me when I was stung by a bee.  The 2 nurses in the group we were talking to, couldn't decide, or couldn't remember, what to put on it so it was a good thing it didn't bother me much!

 Sunday morning was an early start to get to DD's.  She then drove me to Greenmeadow Community Farm (where her OH worked until he broke his toe - he's recently gone back to do some light work) where she had a stand to publicise her small animal care business.  We took a gazebo with us but luckily we were in a marquee otherwise we'd have been blown away . 

The stallholders are all setting up for the day (above) on a six-inch layer of straw, which was very  helpfully put down by the farm staff following heavy rain in the night.

 We were directly by the marquee opening so we battled a bit against the wind while setting up, and I spent much of the day holding down the tent side with my foot so it wouldn't blow our leaflets all over the place (again!).
 While popping out to get a coffee for myself and a hog roast roll for DD I managed to get myself caught, without a coat, in one of the heavier showers of the day!  I thought I could hurry and not get too wet but my way back was blocked in readiness for the Sheep Run event (see culprits above). Staff had blocked off a route around the farm and let the sheep out to run the circuit for the children's amusement. By time I got back to DD, her roll was cold and a bit damp, and I'd forgotten the stuffing and apple sauce!  She took it back to get the 'extras' and returned 10 mins later with a 'complete' fresh roll wrapped in foil, for no extra charge!!
 When it got a bit quieter in the afternoon DD took me on a tour of the farm.  There were lots of cute babies to see.
There was a cupcake stall opposite us that I was eyeing up all day, determined to get us a treat at some point.  They looked as if they were packing up quite early in the afternoon so I was over there in a flash in case we missed out, and bought 2 banoffee pie cupcakes from the lovely Lynn Tarling of Cupcake House who had recently started the business with her daughter.  They weren't packing up after all, just putting some cake pops in a container to carry around to tempt people to buy (a great idea that worked well by the way).

Quite a few people took a leaflet from DD but we won't know if the day was a success for a while because it all depends on WHEN people need her services.

Stitchy progress since last post:

Quilt-as-you-go-quilt:    Finished handquilting block (approx 17 finished, 9 remaining)
Knitted cardigan:          Right side finished, left side started

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Uninvited Guests!

OH and I went to a family birthday celebration last Saturday that we weren't invited to! The event was organised by 2 cousins to celebrate the 80th birthday of my aunt and 78th birthday of my uncle.  As it was a 2 and a half hour drive to the venue, and another aunt and uncle who live near us didn't have transport to get there, they asked us to take them. Around 50 guests from both ends of the country (Scotland for my aunt who was originally from the Outer Hebrides and Wales for my uncle who was brought up in the house where I now live!) attended and it was lovely to get to know a side of the family we had never met.
As has become the custom these days, old photos of the birthday 'boy and girl' were displayed for all to see!!  My uncle is in the picture above (on the left), which must have been about 70 years ago, with 2 of his brothers. The first house on the right is now ours!  The house adjoining now belongs to another aunt but the lady looking over the hedge is Great Aunt Kate who died in 1978.  Having only know her as an elderly lady, I was surprised by how much I look like her.  It was amazing to see all my aunts and uncles when they were young.

This is their wedding which must have been around 55 years ago because my aunt (the one who lives next door now) is the 13 yr old girl in the front (3rd from the left). My gran is behind her to the right. See the sweet little page boys in kilts!  

Sunday's activity couldn't have been more different!!  Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and with plasitc palm trees on board 9 friends took part in the local annual Raft Race for the second year running. 

The weather was much better this year so I almost wished I'd agreed to take part. As there were more than the previous 6 who wanted to do the race an extension was built on last year's raft to accommodate them.

 This modification made the raft much slower and it took a good four and half hours to complete the course (even though they didn't stop for as long as last year at the pub on the river!!)

The last 2 pics are taken from a pedestrian bridge over the river and in the last one they are just pulling into the side to 'park' for the pub stop.  Despite it being called a 'race', hardly anyone really races.  The sole purpose of one raft of 'pirates' it seemed, was to ambush and board the other rafts as they passed. The point at which I changed my mind about taking part next year, was when I saw them all get off at the end; freezing cold, exhausted, bruised and soaking wet!!!

Later, when they'd all showered and changed, 14 of us met at the local hotel for dinner and relived the event all over again! 


Stitchy progress since last time:

Knitted cardigan - a couple more hours knitting the one front
Quilt As You Go Quilt - 3/4 of a block hand quilted.

A very poor show but what did you expect with all the above going on :-)

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Red Cake and Jumping Stitches!

Having just had an unexpected day off (Friday) followed by the Bank Holiday Monday it's been a nice long weekend. It meant a good catch up was possible ready for the next 3 busy weekends.  I won't bore you though with tales of cleaning, laundry, washing up and grocery shopping.

Baking and stitching, however, are different (to me anyway)! 

 I've made these beetroot muffins before (probably this time last year, at the peak of the veg garden season).  The recipe calls for grated beetroot but I was disappointed the first time that the colour inside didn't reflect the pinky-red tops, so this time I cooked the beetroot before grating hoping more pigment would be released.  It was a good deal messier to do but didn't make one jot of difference to the inside colour!   

I was convinced the photo in the recipe showed a rich red interior but when I checked, it didn't even show the inside of the cakes, so I must have dreamed it! I'm thinking next time I'll try replacing some of the liquid ingredient with the beetroot water - I don't give up that easily.

Enough with the courgettes already!! I put the biscuit there for scale but it makes them look smaller - ?!
They are huge.  We've also frozen some, given some away and there are more on the way.
Remember this HST quilt?  I can - just about!  I posted this picture 2 months ago after adding the borders and have just got around to having a go at machine quilting.

I consulted a couple of manuals, put on the 'walking-foot-I-didn't-know-I-had-so-bought-another-one', practiced on a spare quilt 'sandwich' then decided I was ready to take the plunge.

 All was going swimmingly (or so I thought) until I checked the stitching and noticed it was jumping a few at the intersections.  I unpicked a bit and re-did a few sections but the re-doing or overstitching was spoiling it! Continuing on, I elected to use the quick-slow-quick-slow method (a name invented by myself but a method probably used by countless other stitchers through the ages who couldn't be bothered to name it, or were too embarrassed to admit they had to use it!) which involves going quickly on the flat sections, then slowing to a crawl at the intersections - with some success I might add. 

 I'm going to go over it when I've finished and tidy up these bits by hand which will look better than oversewing but will be a right pain in the derriere!!  I'm guessing it's a tension problem but I was too impatient to stop and get expert advice and my 'method' seems to be working for now. 
For goodness sake - when I've got time to stitch that's what I'm gonna do!!

So, (taking a deep breath) here's this post's stitching progress:

HST Quilt - main body almost quilted (7 rows and some tidying up to go)
Knitted cardigan - right front half-knitted (in addition to back and pocket linings from before)

Bye for now
Teresa x