Friday, 31 December 2010


This clump is under the oak tree, as you might guess from the dead leaves. I have several 'blobs' of hellebore round the garden and all the 'white' ones have come from the same plant.

I couldn't get these to download earlier, don't know why...


Coming back from the compost heap after lunch I had a look to see what was happening to the hellebores. They are just beginning to show their flower buds so in a short while there'll be flowers in the garden!
I can't add more pics to this post so will do those as an afterthought in the next one.

Thursday, 30 December 2010


I've been watching the Bumblebeans Inc. blogsite where the ladies are busy making scatty houses - not sedate houses like mine! I thought I'd give it a try and then leave them in a bunch until (much) later. I'll be interested to see how they put them together in a quilt as they're all shapes and sizes.

The sky on the top right house is part of the skirt length which made my 'yacht' bag (below) and the bottom left is a patch called Humble Homes from a quilt book.

The nice thing is, No House is Wrong!

Sunday, 26 December 2010


I began making this bag several months ago during the summer. A friend gave me a piece of what I think was skirt material with a border print with the pattern gradually changing as the height increases from the hem. It was long enough for me to cut two identical pieces so that I could make a bag to replace one I made a long time ago (but which won't be discarded). I like the colours on this piece.
I handquilted aound the sails and hulls of the yachts and straight stitched the sea level, too. I wanted it to be a bag with a gusset so that was cut from a piece towards the top of the material where the sky design has changed to 'white' with blue speckles. The handles and top binding are cut from slightly lower down where there's more blue in the pattern. I like padded bags - they don't flop like single thickness material does - I've incorporated a little bit of batting into the handles as well this time and hope they'll wear better than the previous bag's did.I chose a lining with a tiny turquoise pattern to complement the outside and now that's finished.
What can I do now???
(The lining material came from the same friend who gave me the yacht material...)

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


At last I've finished this quilt and it's 'all right' but can't say I'm that thrilled with it. It's my first attempt at machine quilting and I'm disappointed with how it makes the quilt feel - compared with hand quilting it's flat and quite rigid so perhaps I'll just use that method for smaller pieces.

After I'd bound it I decided to put some quilting in the border but just at the corners extending along both sides for a short distance. I have plastic templates of hearts and stars in different sizes so randomly quilted those in red, blue or white (well, cream) quilting thread. It's a fairly satisfactory result except that I was getting bored with having to do this on my lap so didn't complete the centre border sections.

Another corner with more quilting - I prefer quilting when the work is in a frame, except that even a tiny frame like mine takes up 'so much' room when I include the magnifying light, too.

For the backing I used a duvet cover which I bought on eBay during the summer - it's stars again! For the binding I used a pillowcase with stars, moons and suns on it which came from Gillian, my gardening lady. I thought this backing would be an ideal design to cover up the mess that the machine quilting would turn out to be...well, it's not so-o-o bad but I wouldn't give this quilt away!
Now, why would the camera change the colour from maroon to this rather nice hyacinthy blue?
Well, it did - and it's my new Canon camera, too. I tried all sorts of meanderings on the backing including trying to do flowers. Some things worked and others didn't so I'm not showing those.

Here's another collection of tryouts but these are balls, marbles, loops, call them what you will.
I think I'll stick to hand quilting next time, I like to stab stitch my way through the afternoon listening to a film on TV or the digital book channel, someone to talk to me, as it were. I do like the random coloured quilting thread on the back and the front has pale creams and whites as its quilting thread.
I think the camera will be OK when I get the hang of the things I want to use it for but I DON'T like having the manual on the computer - how can you check something when you're out???
It's a real palaver having to set up the computer! Couldn't get any pics to download from the camera to the computer following the manual's instructions so did - something - which I hope I can remember next time, and it's worked.
If we don't speak for a few more days, Have a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Friday, 17 December 2010


This is the view from my bedroom window, in one direction. The sun is shining on the houses in the background and it was a good contrast with the very dark cloud which was coming my way. Last evening/night there was just a light dusting of dry snow, so what's lying on the garage roof and ground is nothing serious, like icing sugar on a Victoria sponge. It rained at tea time yesterday but my car doors were iced shut this morning with the cold...

Twenty minutes later it was like this and still snowing.

And an hour after that the snow had gone and there's a blue sky, sunshine in the garden... is it any wonder we're always talking about the weather???

On Wednesday 15th December I meant to post that it was the anniversary of Glenn Miller's disappearance after he took off from an airfield in Bedfordshire but never arrived in Paris, where the band was waiting for him. I'd been to the Eye Clinic and had drops put in and couldn't see what I was doing so wasn't able to post that day. There's a very readable book called 'Next to a Letter from Home' by Geoffrey Butcher which is about Major Glenn Miller's Wartime Band. Just looking to see when it was published(1986) and noticed that the author has signed the first page.

(Later - I realised I hadn't put in the date of the disappearance - it was 1944.)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

THATCHING - in December

I was going to shop in Princes Risborough today when I saw this cottage being rethatched. It wasn't nice weather, cold, grey and very damp but I shouted to the young man up on the roof asking whether I could take a photo of him and he agreed. It's a very busy road, the main road from Risboro to High Wycombe, with traffic continual in both directions, so couldn't ask him any questions about how long it's taken to do this much. The blue sheeting is containing loose straw and stopping it falling on to pedestrians below.

Here, he's sweeping the loose cut ends of the straw from the ridge to the bottom of the roof - I wonder if he's an apprentice doing one of the routine jobs? He was the only person about...

These are fresh bundles of straw which you can see on the left hand side of the top photo. I'm saying straw because I can't imagine it being reeds...

The 'eyebrows' at the top of the roof are lengths of uncut straw which, again, you can see in the top photo. The other end of the run of roofline has been trimmed neatly.

He's still sweeping the roof clear of the cut ends of the bundles.

The lorry is full of the old thatch which must have been pulled down earlier today and thrown into the back ready to be taken away. I wish it had been easier to talk to him but there was so much traffic noise. I can't remember the name on the green logo on the door, all I can remember is that it said 'Master Thatcher', or perhaps it was Thatchers?

Sunday, 12 December 2010


No, not me!! I'm not musical (or mathematical either!).

Yesterday was Bucks Family History Society Christmas Meeting for the Central Group. I went expecting a quiz, as there has been other years when I've gone, but there was an entertainment instead.

The group of three handbell ringers from Wallington was called Pizzaz and were a married couple and a young girl who was a friend. During their show we were told about the bells, some of the history of handbell ringing and they answered questions which were put from the audience. Bell ringing is thousands of years old, though not with metal bells which the group brought with them!

The bells which were used today came from the US and there were more than fifty ranged flat on the black material-covered table - all sizes from very small with a high note and large, like a school handbell, with a mellow low note. The ladies wore black gloves( matching their dresses) to avoid smearing the bells and to limit contact with the metal.

This photo shows a fraction of those used as some had already been packed away in their foam lined travelling cases. All in disarray as the audience had replaced theirs standing upright.

The trio played carols, Christmas tunes and classical music as well., sometimes using bells held two in each hand and sometimes just one. Very clever especially as they change bells rapidly in some tunes. It was a case of ring, put down, pick up the next bell and ring, all in time with the others so there was no hanging about. And knowing where to find the next bell! It reminded me of fair isle knitting where you're searching for the next colour - but much, much quicker... Their music was ranged on a series of music stands at the front of their long table.

At the end they donned headgear for 'our' performance where each person was given a sheet of Jingle Bells words with bold lettering stressed for when to ring your particular toned bell - I won't go into that!

Speaking to one of the ladies afterwards she told me that there is an Advanced Recital Exam for players of any instrument and Pizzaz are the first group of handbell ringers to gain this award.

After the performance there were lots of 'munchies' to pile onto a plate plus tea or coffee before we went home.

PS Because I'm a quilter I was interested in the black material covering their table and in a decorative piece hanging down from the front - black with glittery red dots. However, both the black and this piece were polyester so no use at all...material came from a store named Fabricland which I've never heard of so will have to look it up and see where they are.

Monday, 6 December 2010


I phoned Teresa about a photo of Sinter Klaas and here he is, from Google Netherland's images site. This pic comes from De Valkeniers web site.

The 6th December is St. Nicholas' Feast Day but presents are given to the children on the evening of 5th December - the children leave hay, carrots etc for Santa's horse, as we leave a mince pie and a drink for Santa...


I took this photo of the Christmas lights on the bungalow opposite my house without a tripod, just holding my breath! Down the centre the dark bar is part of the window frame so couldn't avoid that. There won't be any Santas on the roof or twinkling words wishing us all a Merry Christmas, only this rather nice display. Normally I'm not enamoured with outside decorations but these are just enough. Perhaps I'll be able to manage a pile of books as a tripod substitute and take a better picture but that doesn't take away the need for a careful pressing of the button...
Today, in Holland, is when St. Nicholas arrives on his white horse with Black Peter, his servant, in attendance. I wonder if my daughter will have any photos of the event to spare...?I'll have to email her and ask.

There's a heavy frost again this morning, though the snow has gone - aaah! shouldn't have said that, it's tempting fate! I noticed these cobwebs on next door's fence looking like delicate crochet
as I got out of the car - I wish the fence was a different colour so they showed up more.

I was in two minds whether to use this next photo or not but - here goes. The other day I saw half a dozen red kites swooping over a garden at the end of the lane, about 600-700 feet away from me. Normally they soar around on the thermals, gradually moving down the countryside. But these birds were actively flying and diving, concentrating on themselves; blackbirds which were also around took no notice. The kites have a 6' wingspan, and are impressive birds, especially on sunny days when you can see the redness in their feathers and the barring on the wings. They were re-introduced round here on to the Getty Estate at Stokenchurch and have successfully bred and moved out and down the valleys. During the summer you can hear them calling, a once heard never forgotten cry.

I've never seen a kite land in a tree, either, let alone five of them. It's a shame my camera is only 3x zoom as I miss lots of bird pics because I can't get close enough. Perhaps I should go back to my SLR with the telephoto lens???

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Remember I wrote to Tesco at the beginning of November about their poor spelling on one of their 'dingly-dangles' hanging above an aisle. I went in yesterday and found they've changed it!

Well, you only have to ask...