Sunday, 25 December 2011


Jonathan has tinkered about with the computer to try and make it go slightly faster so this is all hit and miss on an unknown format for Blogger.
Anyway, I bet you are either beginning the slog in the kitchen or gathering everything to go visiting - my Christmas was 23rd with Stuart and his family and yesterday with Teresa and Jonathan so I'm back to normal, whatever that means!
A few days before today my parcel of wool arrived from a lady I found on eBay but this was, in effect, a private purchase. I'm pleased with all these bright colours and can't wait to start using them...
This is my current crate of wool which is holding the remains of already used balls so the colours above are a real boost.
These are four balls 'in waiting', so to speak, including two of those multi-coloured efforts; I don't know what the trade name is for these. The muddled one at the top right is something Kath gave me before she moved, a ball of oatmeal/beige which I use to crochet the strips together on knitted blankets. I had to make a new band to hold it together as the previous one was spoiled. I'm always taking in tucks on the bands so they keep holding the outsides together - I start from the middle - being Lazy Libra I know this means the wool unravels (usually!) without any problem such as falling over or needing to be twitched back into place. James, Stuart's son, gave me 5 balls of wool to add to my stash, bought by himself, too, very brave for a 22 year old lad...
This is a batch of 48 Granny Squarres which have d-o-z-e-n-s of tails waiting to be stitched in and then, when I can find enough wool of one colour, will have an edging round each before I try crocheting them all together in an 8 x 6 formation to make another blanket - plus an ouside edging, of course.
Here's the afghan/throw I made for Sarah's Christmas present after she said how much she liked the charity blanket I made. It measures 40 x 52 1/2 so larger than the previous one, and it has a fancy edging, too. Didn't take long, crochet grows exceedingly fast...

Now for something completely different -
This morning I went down to the bottom shed in the gloom to fill up some of the sunflower seed holders and saw these signs of spring arriving - a few spidery crocuses just poking through here - and
daffs under bracken with an out of focus spray of cat mint- and

some pretty and tiny fungus growing on a stump, left over from when Gillian and I chopped down a viburnum  but couldn't get out the last few inches of the stump (which, cross fingers, hasn't resprouted, yet).
More daffs by the badgers hole under the fence and
the ones I spotted first, beside the shed door, which made me look for more signs of Spring-come-early.

Finally, I have to finish on another notice with a problem...

Have a good day, see you again later.

Just a quick 'Hallo, Ria' to Jonathan's Mum who doesn't speak English but looks at the pictures - she's really into the gardening side of things, but I hope she sees her name and knows she's remembered.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

I was wondering what to post for Christmas and looked through the book of Christmas poems I had when I was teaching - nothing there. I turned to 'The Christmas Reader' compiled by Godfrey Smith and would have liked to use the poem that's been used as a basis for alternative versions, 'Christmas Day in the Workhouse', by George R. Sims. However, it has 21 verses and each has 8 lines so it didn't seem a good idea! The alternative version of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' by John Julius Norwich, which I can 'hear' in Penelope Keith's voice as she once broadcast it was also a contender but the same problem as above - rather long!- Her lover sends her all the items from the verses until in the end she reverts to a solicitor's letter to make him stop.
Then I thought there might be something in my collection of extracts from Victorian newspapers, or rather, from The Bucks Advertiser of 1854. These are extracts from January of that year telling of the charity of various do-gooders in the villages. Mr Cox in Haddenham sent his groom and footman round with a load of faggotts for distribution amongst the poor and the Rector of Quainton gave 8 tons of coal to the poorer inhabitants of Quainton and Shipton Lee. The Countess of Jersey distributed a large quantity of blankets, sheets, flannels etc. to the poor of Middleton, Somerton and Chesterton. I hadn't noted any more acts of charity from the great and the good.
So I settled for the cutting above, which is from the Bucks Herald in December either 2002 or 2003. I thought it was comical when it first appeared and I like the times of Midnight Mass - just one of those linguistic giggles I find from time to time.
Now, I have had to change to Mozilla Firefox to be able to post at all as plain old Google, which I've used since I began blogging, refuses to let me post a blog without using Google Chrome, which I don't understand and don't like - that's how there's a piece which needs deleting appearing underneath this post - assuming I don't 'disappear' it somehow. So, having apologised in advance - Have a good Christmas, hope to 'see' you next year.

Friday, 2 December 2011


I made this doll in 1995 for Sarah's 4th birthday - and she still has it. I remember a friend of mine during the war had one of these Upsy-Downsy dolls and I so wanted one but never got it so made one for my little granddaughter instead. She'll be 21 next May, how time flies!It's not an ordinary doll because it has no legs. This is the 'awake' version but turn her upside down and another doll emerges, one which is asleep.

The pattern came from, I think, a Womans Weekly magazine - and I still have it. There are two head and upper body pieces to join together waist to waist and then stuff; the skirt is made from two quite large circles where one side is the 'awake' skirt and the other the nightie's skirt, stitched together round the bottom and handsewn to the respective waists. The joins are covered with lace, ric-rac or other trims. The little cap is a circle of material gathered and sewn on to conceal the bald head and wool stitched on to make hair poking out from the cap. It's not easy to make satisfactory hair with a needle and wool but perhaps there are different methods these days. The features are just stitched on and (probably) coloured pencil applied for the rosy cheeks. I think the big black eyes are probably penny-sized circles of black felt.

I wouldn't mind betting it's stuffed with offcuts of quilt batting!

Monday, 28 November 2011


Yesterday afternoon - just as Formula 1's last race of the season broadcast was beginning Sarah and James turned up to see Grandma. I haven't seen James for months and Sarah had come home for the weekend as it was Helen's (Mum's) birthday. We sat chatting, Sarah with her carton of White Grape and Peach juice (cos she doesn't drink tea or coffee) and James with the biscuit box and a cuppa. You have to know that James loves biscuits and he absent mindedly worked his way through the biscuit box...
So, this morning, I had to make something for me to munch on for the rest of the day and a few more, too, I think. I found a recipe for Rock Cakes/Buns which I realised was the same as the one I use for my fruit cakes. It's a rub-in mix which I seem to be more successful with these days and takes c. 15 minutes to cook. I love hot cakes and can't wait to begin them -as you can see from the photo.
Just what you need on the first frosty morning of the year.


Saturday, 19 November 2011


Just over a week ago I had a surprise packet in the post. It was a gift from my Chesham friend who had made me this Christmas stocking because I'd admired the one she had recently made at her patchwork class - we usually do a Show and Tell when we meet. She has cataracts at the moment so I don't know how she managed this! However she's having the first one done this morning (Sat.) at Stoke Mandeville as when she went on her appointed day at Wycombe the machine had broken down - after she'd been 'dropped' and anaesthetised...
It's all Christmas material and the strips vary between 1/4", 1/2" and 1". The total length is about 8". The back is one colour material, plain green with Christmas stars and the 'cuff' is gold holly leaves. It's padded and lined. I had trouble with these photos, too dark, really, without a flash and the colours were wiped out if I used it. Ho hum...This is the latest blanket I've just finished for charity - what a struggle to use black wool in artificial light! Still, it's come up OK in the end. Made in the usual way of 4 strips crocheted together. I made one strip of three-wide squares and put it one one side. Then just made another strip and so on - I was interested to see that I have unknowingly put the same colours next to each other (apart from the black separating each piece) - turquoise, blue, pink, red, two dark greeny speckles which look quite grey, and others which are diagonal to each other. These were random choices yet somehow the same colours came at the same distance from the start.....

Friday, 11 November 2011


Last evening I watched a programme about bomber crews during WW2 and remembered a poem I had copied from a BBC2 programme in January 1986 called The Watchtower.I was going to copy it out then found this website with a photo of the poem, 'Old Airfield' - It's at East Kirby airfield in Lincolnshire, an ex-Lancaster base, whose call sign was 'Silksheen'. Perhaps it's because it holds the idea of memories lingering in a place where so much was crammed into a few short years that it appeals to me. There are more websites, too, if you are interested. And it's Armistice Day.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Hmmmm... Do you think there's something wrong with this ad I saw today in a Thame charity shop window? I was buying a pack of Christmas cards anyway so had a joke with the lady behind the counter. She solemnly agreed with me that there was a problem...

Monday, 7 November 2011


This is the first one-piece crochet blanket I've ever made. Usually I've made granny squares and then sewn them together afterwards and that system is a good way of using up very small amounts of wool but - I found this pattern on a crochet site called Attic24, liked it (and it's simple) so have been doing some every day. It's taken a month altogether.It measures approx 49 x 33" and I'm pleased with it. Just as well I have a fair amount of wool at present as I'm also making the knitted blankets. The photo taken widthways has come out with less distortion than standing at the bottom of the work and taking it that way. This is a closeup of several rows - and what a carry-on to take photos on this dull gloomy day (so a dull gloomy house, too). The stitch is treble crochet (in UK terms).
Here's part of the stitching in even 'closer-up'

and here's the border, just to finish it off, though I didn't do the final row with the border pattern as printed, just did double crochet all the way round the edge after the rows of trebles.
Because the house is a dark house even on a bright day I tried with/without flash, by the window and finally used another camera which has a paper manual and so much easier to access information.

Sarah was home at the weekend as it was Bonfire Night and popped round with a present for me - 3 packs of Fat Quarters. I'd mentioned that I wanted dark materials to include in the postage stamp type quilt I've been making on and off for months, depending what material came to hand. Now the weather is grey the light isn't good enough for me to machine so I knit (crochet) instead. There are various patterns in these bundles so will take some time to use it all - years, probably! I'm very economical... Thanks, Sarah.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Do you get these charity bags dropping through your letter box every so often? They seem to come in waves; one arrives then three more turn up. They come from all kinds of charities asking you to put your bric a brac, jewellery, clothes, CD and DVDs, handbags, toys, shoes, books and knitwear outside on your doorstep to be collected on a specified date.
I don't put out anything. I'd rather give to a village jumble since I gave up putting things on eBay several years ago. But now that Gillian works for a charity shop in Thame I'm collecting a bag of 'downsizing' which she can take into her shop.
The charities which have donated these plastic bags are The Salvation Army (2), British Heart Foundation (2), NSPCC, Shaw Trust and Little Treasures Children's Trust. I've never heard of the latter charity. I don't know how I got the Bagline bag...
However, they are useful bags, though not very robust; they're OK to take my knitted blankets to the lady in the village whose son is connected with Burmese charities, for storing clothes away and for other lightweight work. The bags aren't wasted, just used differently.
What do you use your charity bags for???

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Yesterday - when it was sunny - the tree fellers came to take down a sycamore which I inherited when I moved here and which, being female, showers the garden with seeds every year and has outgrown its space. I also got rid of a cotoneaster which had grown too far and a weeping birch which had joined the oak tree across the path. The shed on the left is mine, on the right belongs to the house next door. Some of my Christmas Tree branches are on the right-hand side. Lots of lower branches of the sycamore had already gone before I got down the garden...

Being able to sit there so casually has to be the result of long practice and knowing what you're doing, which always helps. The willow leaves on the top right are going too, from my next-door-neighbour's garden. It is getting on a bit, branches are dying so it's been pollarded...

The lad above is the cutter and his mate had the job of plodding up and down the garden path, along the side alleyway to dump all the branches on the parking space at the front and some way down the side, too. I was asked to move my car and I put it across the road.

The boss arrived with the shredder and this is the start of feeding the unwanted greenery into the shredder's business end.
Just a small vehicle (I'm kidding) and making a tremendous noise, too.
This is the 'scoop' at the back where all the thin branches went.
Stuart had asked if I would leave the tree trunk rather than get it taken away so he could take the logs he'd cut to his father to use on his wood burner. I asked and the tree trunk was cut into handy sized pieces. They're all on the compost heap which is directly under where the tree was. Now it's up to Stuart to bring his trailer and take them down to the stables. The post sticking up against the blue plastic is the limit of my boundary. A self-sown honeysuckle had been growing up the sycamore for several years and the workman managed to save that.
The bare trunk and the tuft at the top is all that's left of the willow but it will sprout again in due course. On the right you can just see the dreaded walnut which has already overgrown two gardens and it won't be long before it creeps over another - and that's apart from the garden it's growing in.

The clearing up was particularly good. Everything that was cut off was cleared up, all the small twiglets and heaps of leaves which were scraped together with a leaf rake. Once these had been shredded a workman took the leaf blower along the path to clear away any bits they'd missed, the frontage was cleared and the road, which had some leaves on it. The stumps of the sycamore and two shrubs had had slots cut in the base which remained in the ground, poison scooped into them and then covered with handfuls of earth to keep it safe.

I'd provided them with tea and home made cake and it time for them to leave - and I haven't paid yet, either!

Sunday, 23 October 2011


On the way home from my friend's house in Chesham I passed the forge at Litttle Hampden where there were new iron sculptures on display - I blogged about them before in April. The forge is on a narrow road with woods on one side and a fairly narrow frontage to the building on the other - and cars zip along here! You have to park in the road and hope... There's not much room to step back to get a different angle. Here it is in solo flight.

You could call this anything you like, I suppose.
The sphere is more pleasing, to me at any rate. The individual shapes remind me of something but - is it seeds from a conifer of some kind or perhaps gingko leaves?
Had to stop and look in a Trees book and I think it might be gingko leaves. I'll stop and ask one day, if the forge is open.

This graceful display of kites is how we see them round here, calling to each other as they sail on the thermals. I've left the background so you can see the lane...
I wish I had a garden where you'd see something like this to real advantage..

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Stone Parish has four elements - Stone itself, a hamlet called Sedrup, Hartwell (which was not included in the parish until 1935 but was a separate parish) and Bishopstone, a mile and a half down the road towards Stoke Mandeville and a separate community though always included in Stone for Church Register purposes.

Bishopstone was included in a book, 'The Rich Mrs. Robinson', published in 1984, which was written by a local lady, Winifred Beechey, about life before WW1 in the village. The sketch above is of the road from Bishopstone to Stone which she and her sister walked and ran every school dinnertime - and back again for afternoon school...

and the road looks like this today. Not much has changed apart from the road being paved, repaved, patched and blobbed from time to time - but still a long way to walk for small children.

This is now called 'The Old Schoolhouse', I can't imagine why! It was for boys only who also worked on the piece of land to help pay the master for their tuition. It was set up before the Education Act which allowed public schools to be built post 1871.

Here it is today, well, last Monday when I began this blog... the pantiled roof is an extension. The lane on the right hand side of the building leads down to Parson's Piece (of land). I don't know which way the engraving faces so it could be the other way round. I believe this building and others at the same distance from the road along here were built on 'spare' land in 24 hours but I might have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Something to do with the Enclosures in the late 18th century, here at any rate.

Further on, out of sight of the end of the road in the first photo, is this fairly recent entrance to the village with just a few notices to take note of. The Bishopstone Action Group nagged to get these pinchpoints to try and stop the excessive speed along this lane, which has no pavements. It's a rat run for cars, vans, coaches, plenty of post vans on their way back and forth to the Sorting Office, school buses, etc. The thatched cottage on the right is one of 16 listed buildings in this small hamlet.

The one remaining pub, The Harrow, has a history. In 1830 there were riots in different (Southern) counties against machinery being employed to take the place of local men. In Wycombe it was centered on the paper mills but in in this part of Bucks it was against farm machinery. In Stone, a group of labourers cajoled others to join them, one man gaining a gun from a house, shot and powder from a local shop - that shop, now a house, is still there. Others armed themselves with sticks and hammers. The mob moved on to Bishopstone and entered The Harrow to see if they could induce others to join them. Machinery was broken up before the gang moved on.Eventually constables rounded up about 40 men who were taken to Aylesbury Gaol. The men, with labourers from other disturbances, were brought before the Petty Sessions and sent for trial. There are full accounts of the proceedings in the newspapers and although most of the Stone men were not transported but bound over for the rest of their lives, three men were sent to Van Dieman's Land. One remained there and made more of himself than staying in England would have afforded him, one returned and is listed as a pauper in various censuses and the last man has disappeared from history. The book which contains this information - and what happened to all the other Bucks men involved in the Swing Riots - is 'Buckinghamshire Machine Breakers, The Story of the 1830 riots' by Jill Chambers.

Plater's Cottage is another of the listed buildings in Bishopstone, most of which are thatched. This was a shop at one stage in its history; many years ago before the time of digital cameras I was taken to the back of the property where there's still a board giving information about the shop's owner. Perhaps it was also a beerhouse, I can't remember.

The War Memorial for the village, just past the Harrow,was dedicated in June 1920; it's always kept tidy and a commemoration service is held there in November separate from the service in Stone. The hedge at the back has been cut quite recently and spoils the look of the setting, a green hedge made such a difference. Daffodils bloom here in the spring.

A commemorative plaque was given to all communities mentioned in Domesday and this is the one for Stone, kept in a back room in the village hall when I took this SLR photo.

Bishopstone displays their plaque on the right of the porch for all to see - if they look, that is. When William 1 invaded he gave this village to his half-brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux who may have been the person who commissioned the Bayeux tapestry (which as you will know is not a tapestry but an embroidery).

There was once a school for the village children on this site. Lord Carrington gave the land in 1876 for a building to hold 50 children. Two of the school log books which my friend, Chris, and I transcribed several years ago make fascinating reading - for teachers, that is. One teacher taught all the children and what the children learned is laid out. Knitting, sewing, learning the alphabet, using counters for number work; the illnesses the children suffered - measles, whooping cough, chilblains, congestion of the lungs and ringworm together with numerous other problems - such as a 6 week absence with bronchitis... The school functioned with decreasing numbers of children until December 1945 when it finally closed, the remaining children being transferrred to Stone.

It was a one-room school and so far we haven't found any photos of it, just a floor plan giving measurements; the only photo which doesn't really show the building is of the children in their 'glad rags' having their photo taken, much like these days.

There aren't any 'other religions' in the Parish, just C of E and Methodists. This is the Methodist chapel in Bishopstone which had rendered walls and no brick wall when I first saw it. The outside wall was 'cleaned' and the internal structure made into a modern home. In 2002 it was on the market for £450,000.

Coronation Villas has a plaque with the date 1902 just in the bend of the downpipe. The postcard which showed this view was posted in 1909. I took a photo in 2002 and the one below was taken on Monday - what's changed in just over 100 years?

The large house below was advertised for sale in 1994, long before Chris and I knew what function it had served for a few years from 1888. It had been decided a British Dairy Institute would be established in Aylesbury and that was just the beginning of the rows and wrangles. Various pieces of land were suggested and declined and eventually the building chosen was a long way from Aylesbury - heavens, it was a couple of miles! It was intended that students would be instructed in' butter making and three kinds of soft cheese'; a library would be started and with donations of utensils from W. Jordan and Sons, still going strong though they have no record of any gift. Female students were boarded in the house and male students lodged in Stone Village - as can be seen in the Censuses. Within a few years the whole business was moved to Reading where is has become The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers. Another small, unknown part of history in the Parish. Chris and I had trouble determining where the building was until the newspaper reports named it as Alwyn Lawn.
The Country Life advert is of the front of the house but my photo is all you can see of the building across the fields. Nothing is left, I understand, of the Dairy Institute buildings. It's not really on sloping ground - that's me standing on the verge being buffeted by the air disturbance of vehicles...

The chunky stones are from local quarries but flints come from the Chiltern Hills and are used here to make the initials and date (1862) stand out. I have no idea who W W is, can't find anything in the Census.

Lastly, you'll be pleased to know, the drawing below is from a tome written by John Lee showing the school he built at the crossroads from Stone to Bishopstone. Actually the schools were never completed, the only portion of this grand project being my photo of the house, below.

It's always seemed to me that the chimney stack is a sweet from the Liquorice Allsorts packets... along the far side of this building is a couple of rows of bricks with initials of the donors of money to build Mr Lee's school - again, before the Education Act. One of the bricks has C.B. on it and, as Charles Babbage was a friend of John Lee, I wonder if that might not be 'his' brick?