Sunday, 31 October 2010


I finished the top this afternoon in 20 days - very quick time for me nowadays! There are 170 triangles and 20 half triangles at the ends of the rows.

There's material of all kinds - plaids, checks and stripes, abstracts, plenty of flowers and a few pictorial prints. They come from all sorts of sources; from jumbles and car boots, some I've had for so long I can't remember where it originated. The spotty material was collected so that I could make my then two small great granddaughters a Spotty Nighttime Quilt when they moved house. I like spotty material!

Other material was given to me by a friend who was downsizing and said to take what I wanted - all yardages, not scraps, another piece was given to me by an Art Group friend - it had belonged to her mother. One piece of green print came from Cuddington Fete this year and some I had bought from a lady at the last table top sale in the spring. We got talking and she turned up on my doorstep one afternoon with a bag of All Sorts, including this magic material.
This rhinoceros has friends, too...

A blue crocodile, but I like this one, being a 'catty' person. You can almost hear it purring...

Pictorial prints seem to be few and far between but I did have a small piece of lightweight curtaining in one donation, a strip of toys.

The cow parsley with the white rabbit came from a summer
skirt which was based on reeds, dragonflies and water birds (there's a bird's head balanced on the bottom border) but I have no idea why cow parsley was included! However, it has been a useful design.

Now comes the hard work, getting the batting cut and backing
pieces stitched together and pinned. I can't get down to do
this on the floor any longer and my working table is against the
wall so it has to be done in sections. I hope I shall be able to use this quilt as a practice piece for machine quilting as I intend to keep this one. It doesn't have to be perfect in that case.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


I went to a table top sale this morning at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Aylesbury, which didn't have many stalls at all, not like the last time I went in the spring. But I did get this Indian bag for my granddaughter, Sarah, who is at Uni doing Costume Design and Photography, the latter being her favourite part of the course. This is just the sort of thing she'll like; it has an orange cotton interior with a zip and washable in cold water, too. For 50p how could I leave it behind?

As I left I thought that, many years ago, the local council actually got something right when they planted these trees. This is effectively a gigantic roundabout in the middle of what used to be

called a 'council estate'. Bright golds and greens at present but in the summer the fresh green leaves are just as pretty. That's the church building in the background, not houses.
Time for lunch.

Friday, 29 October 2010


I was in a local greengrocer's shop this morning and saw some of these vegetables so I asked if I could take a photo of them. The answer was Yes; I went back to the car to fetch the camera. It's a very pretty green with these little pimpled cones on them. (No, not the camera.)

I asked what it was but the lady in charge was only there for a few minutes to take the money while the owner was out so she couldn't help. However it was in a tray with 'proper' cauliflowers.

I've looked it up on Google Images where it's labelled as a Romanesco cauli, fractalish cauli and Italian cauli. It's said to have a mild, nutty taste somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower - a wonderful partner to pasta. (What does 'fractalish' mean? Something to do with 'broken'?)

But another post says it's not a cauliflower but a Romanesque's apparently linked to Fibonacci numbers but then, I'm not into numbers...

Seems as if yer pays yer money and takes yer choice.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Today is a real mixture. Yesterday I received the parcel of patchwork material which I bid for on eBay and won and these are just a few of the character pieces rather than the floral ones. . All patchwork material, rather than the recycled clothing I'm used to.These three are some of the more notable pieces - I wonder what the script on the left says? A nice piece of Christmas fabric - not that I like Christmas but I do like gold lines in material, and a closeup of the print on the piece at right, below. It isn't this grey colour, it's really an olive green with darker green writing.
It says things like 'Lovely Quilt', 'Needlework', 'Laugh Often', 'Live Well' and 'Home Sweet Home'. All nice sentiments...

I wonder if anyone can tell me what this was originally used for? I think it must have come to my family many years ago before the war when my Granny went charing for a local lady with money and who probably gave her this piece. I think it's cloisonne work and the little putti are some base metal. Any ideas? It's only about 3 1/2" high.

At the end of the day when I go up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire I look forward to making contact with this final item. Ah! The bliss of sliding down my permanently cold feet onto a very hot hot water bottle...
'And so to bed', as Pepys is supposed to have said.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


This isn't very elegant but it's s-o-o-o useful! Once upon a time I was always losing stubs of pencils in between the spuds in the supermarkets or dropping them somewhere in the car so that I couldn't cross off the items on my shopping list (recycled cardboard) or add any that I'd just thought of.
I saw a picture of Chaucer, that well-known medieval poet, who appeared to have something similar hanging round his neck so I adopted/adapted his idea.
It's just an ordinary pencil, as you can see, with a piece of window blind cord taped to it. That makes it very visible in the car where it can be just about anywhere - a length of wool is OK, too, but not so easily seen, and breaks in time. Nothing like recycling! I wear it as a 'necklace' and so far no-one has commented on it.
Talking about supermarkets, does anyone have any idea where I can get blocks of dates for cake making? Supermarkets don't keep them any more (even if the assistant knows what you are talking about, everyone is so young...) nor does the Julian Graves store. My daughter has sent some from Holland where she got them on a Turkish market stall but they are rather like a dense puree with no resemblance to separate dates at all...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Yesterday was the last day when it's supposed to be 'nice' so I went out for a walk across rough ground and downhill at that!

The pedestrian gate to the stables that Stuart and Helen own (son and dau-in-law) was plagued by people parking their cars outside it so, with the help and agreement of the people living opposite, have put up these posts and logs to stop it; so far none have been removed or knocked down! Touch wood...

They've got chickens there, too, and these are the nosy ones which came to look - they're several feet higher than the ground I was standing on. Having a happy scratch among the weeds and being looked after by the cockerel.

These are my bugbear, I just don't like cows, even though they're unlikely to cause any harm so I try and stay away from them. These were in another field but could get into the part I was walking on. And lots more out of sight behind the hedge.

While I was stumbling my way down the hill with the help of my thumbstick - and avoiding the cow pats as well as I could, this soundless plane passed high in the blue sky leaving a couple of perfect contrails. Wonder where that had been and was going?

I saw this lovely twisted old tree - what a subject to try and draw or paint with its interesting trunk and dead branch sticking out to the side.
Just beyond this was a field which had already been ploughed and a large tree has been left in the middle. Don't you feel grateful that the farmer has bothered to 'draw' round it rather than cut is down and make an open field? It gives some character to what could have been 'just a field'.

When I got home I washed all the muck off the thumbstick, made a cuppa and felt pleased that I'd made the effort to go out.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


As Kath at Hill Cottage knows, there's a huge walnut tree three gardens away from me. A squirrel obviously has a favourite branch in my sycamore tree to perch on while he munches on his ill-gotten gains.
He must be the gardener who thinks I need dozens of walnut trees sprouting in the flower beds and plant pots every year. He adds a handful or ten of acorns from the oak tree I grew from an acorn many years ago and these pop up across the garden, too. I can't blame him for the sycamore sproutlings which appear; they, at least, are windborne.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Some years ago I bought a very nice concrete garden ornament of a reclining gender-free person, head on arms and feet in the air. This cropped photo shows it in its prime.
And this is how it looks now, rather sad and sorry..... It's just split into slices, probably due to the very hard winter we had at the beginning of this year, and age.
This lamb was originally an impulse buy and it lived on my bookshelves as a bookend until I needed the space, when it was relegated to the garden. It's grown a handsome mossy coat in the time it's been outdoors.

My gardening lady, Gillian, made this for me two years ago, as a present. Nice lady! It's usually facing the other way up. It hasn't broken or acquired any mossy growth - well done, Gillian!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


A year ago today I broke my shoulder after catching my foot on a heavy trolley in a local supermarket and falling on a very hard floor. It wasn't anyone's fault, just one of those things, but it did show me how much we rely on two hands for everyday tasks.

Just getting dressed was a long job - and going to the loo took ages! I couldn't drive, of course, so had to rely on other people to either shop for me or take me shopping. But pushing a trolley wasn't easy, either...

I found ways round things eventually, such as washing up, filling a hot water bottle, peeling a potato, getting in and out of sweaters and shirts, getting upright enough to be able to get out of bed. I sometimes felt like a beetle on its back wriggling its legs to right itself. It made me inventive...

I made sure I did the prescribed exercises every day and set goals for myself. I knew I had to be able to peg washing on the line, which meant raising both arms above shoulder level, as did closing the car boot; driving needed me to be able to reach indicators and windscreen wipers, not just hold the wheel, and I was very pleased that my car is an automatic, so no gears to worry about.

I slept sitting up for a couple of months or more, firstly in the armchair with a quilt over me and then with a backrest borrowed from St. John Ambulance (for free) which made sleeping in bed much more comfortable. All this was going on during the very snowy weather last winter.

I bought a shoulder pulley and watched my progress as I could pull past more marks on the cord which runs over the wheel. The hardest thing I had to relearn was putting my arm behind my back at waist level to tie on my peg apron, it took a long time to get that flexibility back but I can do it now!
The bruise was quite dramatic and very colourful. It was interesting to watch people's reactions when I showed them and it took months to disappear completely.

Nowadays I can do everything I could do previously, the only legacy being my shoulder aches just a little if I carry anything heavy in my left hand for too long, otherwise it's fine.

Since I know homeopathic medicine works, I also took Symphytum, old fashioned KnitBone, and I'm sure that, and using a massage oil with arnica, also helped.

Just goes to prove, do your exercises!!!!

(And I managed to get to the theatre two weeks after I'd fallen to see The Sound of Music at Milton Keynes, I wasn't going to miss that after booking the ticket months in advance!!)

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Another car boot today and another pictorial wheel cover.
Looking on line to see if I could find this picture I managed to find plenty of others and other items, too, but couldn't see this particular one.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


A few days ago I mentioned I had phoned Toyota about an extension table. Well, it arrived yesterday.

This shows the machine I've used for the last 10 years or so and the area I've worked on - it measures about 9 1/2" x 7". For years I'd used a cone of thread with a cotton reel stuffed in the underside so that it would fit onto the 'spike' then discovered I could get a cone holder (I think it is called)- what bliss! My daughter-in-Holland's partner also bought me one so now I have one for bobbin cotton, too. You can just see them like twin masts behind the centre of the machine. I've used magnetic pincushions for years and the little tin is an idea I got from Kath in which I collect threads and small offcutty bits which then all go into the bin rather than on the (carpeted) floor.

And here's the machine with the extension table attached. What luxury!! This sewing space measures about 20" x 11 1/2" so I should be able to improve my machine quilting non-skills...

When I moved here the room had been a baby's nursery and I was in such a rush to get everything sorted that I didn't bother with decorating, hence the frieze. I did find time to glue sheets of polystyrene to one wall and then staple an old flannelette sheet to it for my design wall and it's served me very well.
Ah, the joys of living on your own when you can do what you like to your house, though it would be useful to have a man to, say, put up shelves or shift heavy furniture. It takes a lot of reminding to get my son to come and do something I can't manage, but to be fair, he has an awful lot on his plate.
I went into a charity shop yesterday and bought two mens' shirts to recycle, one purple with tiny white lines in both directions and a black one with lines slightly wider apart plus a boy's shirt in blue plaid. They're flapping on the line at the moment, then a cutting up session...

Thursday, 14 October 2010


A few pictures I took recently when I walked down a local lane - all hedgerow plants.

Are these ash keys??? It looks likely from an illustration in a wild plants book.

These are ivy flowers which had small bees and a butterfly or two on this quite large expanse of ivy. Unfortunately there was a ditch by the hedge which I didn't fancy getting caught in so couldn't get any closer.

This is known as Old Man's Beard or Traveller's Joy and is the seed pods of Clematis vitalba, smothering the hedgerow underneath it.

I don't know what plant these berries are from - is it White Briony???

Must have another look in a few weeks time to see what else has turned up. Other photos I took this time weren't worth downloading so they've been deleted.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Last evening I watched a programme on Taking Photos of Animals, one of a series on Channel 5 which has included Portraits and Landscapes so far.

Ashley was on my lap, as usual, so I put the camera on macro and took a few shots (with one eye on England's dismal showing against Montenegro...). The expert on taking animal photos suggested getting texture into your shots and this is what I tried to do.

Pictures of a sleepy disinterested cat!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


A couple of weeks ago I thought I'd have a go at machine quilting and this was the result of a very short time's work. The scribble on the right is me drawing out a route using a scribble stencil which I've used for hand quilting previously and realised that when I did the top left section I tried to make the turns too close so must learn to expand the 'wriggles'. Underneath was a try at a heart - OK on one half, not exactly a match on the other side (!) and I'd watched a video of someone making bubbles/pebbles but that's not as easy as it looks.

I must have another try soon as I have treated myself to a pair of Machingers and can't wait too long before I use them, can I? One thing I'm not looking forward to is having to fiddle about getting the tiny screw which holds on the different feet into the locating hole, a real trial. Any hints to make life easier?

I was talking to - someone - about there not being much room on an ordinary sewing machine to support a 'large' piece of material so emailed Toyota and found they do an extension table for my model, cost £22 plus p & p. Phoned to place an order and - their Spares dept is open from 10-12.30 and 1.30-2.30..... At least their Help Line was available to tell me as it wasn't mentioned in the email I received from them.!

Tomorrow, then.

Friday, 8 October 2010


This spider is living in the passageway leading from the back to the front of the house - Hurricane Alley - just before I reach the gate. I almost walked through its web but spotted it just in time. It must get dizzy because it vibrates in the wind that gusts through here...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

R101 AIRSHIP CRASH 5 October 1930.

Eighty years ago yesterday....

Airships would be the air transport of the future it was thought in the 1920s and 30s. The R100 was built privately and made successful voyages. The Government subsidised the building of the R101 which was intended to make long distance travel to the outposts of Empire and bring prestige to Britain. An extra central bay of 35' complete with a gas bag was inserted into the airship to give additional lift and after a short test flight in calm weather a long distance flight went ahead without further trials. The Air Minister had to be on the maiden flight to India and be back in Britain by the 20th October.

The R101 left Cardington in Bedfordshire in darkness. Over France the deteriorating weather caused major problems and the airship impacted with the ground near Beauvais where it burst into flames. Forty eight people died with 8 survivors.

The photo at the top shows the gigantic airship sheds at Cardington, Beds, which dominate the flat landscape, the photo taken by Tony Margiocchi in 2009; the one below, of the skeleton of the R101 at Beauvais, comes from a site

If you're interested in a very good account of the tragedy try the site And if you're interested in the possibility of an afterlife you could read 'The Airmen who would not die' by John G. Fuller pub. 1979.

Within a few years the Hindenburg catastrophe put paid to airship travel...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


My daughter gave me some Eucomis bulbs several years ago and I popped them in where there was a bit of space, not worrying whether it was the right location. Rather to my surprise they have survived and each year produce just a few spikes of flowers. You can see why they are called Pineapple Lily!

The delphinium in the background must think spring is coming already...

Monday, 4 October 2010


In the 14 years since I've lived here I've only ever seen one fox and that was about 5 years ago. Now this young one has turned up three times in four nights. It came in the daylight, just after 6.30, and must be hungry since it's eating the crusts I threw out for the badger's visit later on. The photo was taken from indoors, without a flash because of the bounce back (so not that good) as I gradually moved towards the patio doors trying not to scare it away.

Saturday, 2 October 2010


I went to a poultry auction this morning with my daughter in law, Helen, and Sue, her friend, who keeps her horse at Helen's stables. They were looking for a couple (or more) ducks to live there along with the resident chickens.

It wasn't a very big auction but enough people had gathered to bid for the birds.These geese (above) certainly made enough noise!

I wonder if these are Aylesbury ducks because they have orange bills?

These chickens were, I think, the only ones that were in cages like this. Most of them were in wooden crates, which were divided into two sections with different breeds of chickens in each, kept in by wire laid across the top, like these below.

Sue had spotted some ducks she fancied - Indian Runners - but other people were also interested and she and Helen decided to stop bidding for them once their top price had been reached, so, despite picking the brains of other prospective buyers there were no ducks bought today by 'us'. Sue is on the left, in grey, and Helen's in navy, with her back to the camera. The man asked why they wanted female ducks - males don't lay eggs.......
On the way back to the car I spotted this wheel cover. I had seen it several weeks ago at Tetsworth when I'd left the camera at home but this time I made sure I photo'd it. It's one of a series of gypsy paintings which you can see on John Twinks web site - not cheap at £115.
If you like piebald horses with plenty of feathers on their feet I think you'd enjoy his paintings.