Sunday, 27 March 2011


I've been trying to get these pics a decent size for a couple of weeks now, ever since Kath spoke about her crochet blanket. The originals are 6 x 4 SLR photos taken up to 20 years ago... sometimes scanning is OK for this type of photo, other times it's a nightmare. This is as good as I can get it without a special computer programme.

Anyway, these two 'Granny' crochet blankets were made for charity but I have no idea, now, who I gave them to. It's not so much the finishing of the item, more the making of it. I can't remember what I did with the taggly ends, I certainly wouldn't have sewn them in, much too long-winded.

This blanket has a different pattern for the individual square, not a 'granny square'. I wonder where this one went?

These were made while I've lived here, one crochet blanket and two knitted ones. but some time ago as they're also 6 x 4 prints.

These are digital photos - so much easier!

This is 6' x 4', which I always make the size for 'large' blankets. Once upon a time I went to Oxfam's warehouse in Bicester and saw how many knitted blankets are thrown away and go to be 'ragged' because they don't conform to Oxfam's preferred size. All made with time, care - and money - but dumped. I asked in various Oxfam shops and none of the volunteers had any knowledge of a particular size being wanted.

This is a 'small' one, half size at 4' x 3'. I get bored with knitting plain strips so decided to take a quilt patch pattern of half-squares and do that instead. Still in garter stitch, though.

Another quilt 'pattern' - I've made several strippy quilts so thought it would be interesting to try one in knitting. There are 5 strips here to be crocheted together, that's all. 4' x 3'.

The last 3 blankets are laid out on my lounge floor while I stood on a chair to take a photo - well, I shan't do that again!!

I'm crocheting together another small garter stitch blanket at the moment. The three above went to a charity taking things for Romanian families. Recently I bought a pack of 16 assorted wools, 100g each, for £10 plus £6 p and p from eBay and the joy is they come to your door! And £1 a ball for blanket wool is cheaper than the shops...

My Knit and Natter group have a contact locally who takes things for an orphanage in Burma so may swap to that.

Saturday, 26 March 2011


The garden is beginning to look bright and colourful though after the Lord Mayor's coach comes the dustcart - that is, once the flowers have died there are weeks of straggly leaves to contend with. Never mind, enjoy them while they're here!
Although it doesn't show too well, there are daffs all the way down to the shed which you can just see part of through the trellis - and here's the Bottom Garden.

I was surprised at how many hyacinths I have dotted around - just one blue one surviving under the decorative vinenear the house.

I try to buy a few good bulbs every year from a grower but lapsed last year. These are a strong beetroot colour named Woodstock, which are now about 3 years old and getting tired. They'll have to go into the garden when they've finished flowering. There are white narcissus with them but they look very weary - and dry.

Next door has an almost 6 month old Bengal cat. The children have named it Kisses because they have a friend whose cat is Cuddles... It doesn't have fur as such, it's a very soft, short pelt because someone in the household is allergic to cat fur. It's just discovered the badger's pop-hole under the fence so suddenly appears to investigate in my garden. He's very interested in the goldfish so, although there's only one space to get through the netting, he's already found it.

He's balanced on a pot of houseleeks beside the pond...

Plenty of pulmonaria are out now, pretty blue and pink flowers on the same plant, which has spotted leaves. These are supposed to look like lungs, hence the common name of lungwort. The flower pot is covering the emergence point of a clematis climbing through the beech hedge just out of shot. On the right is a fuchsia magellanica (Lady's eardrops) given to me many years ago by a now-deceased friend. It has dainty tubular flowers late in the summer but all that's visible at the moment is a collection of dead stems. But - all the leaves in the photo are unwanted but un-get-at-able bluebells! The hole under the fence is the second pophole allowing badgers and cats to track across my garden from those on either side. Ah, well, they were here first...the badgers, that is.
These are pulmonaria flowers

and these are white ones on the other side of the garden... I keep pots which have cracked in the frost and use them to protect clematis stems, as above, but this plant has died.

My Art Group friend's daughter is moving house and doesn't need this cat kennel any longer - would I like it? I don't know who or what will use it but I've put a piece of white card inside to show mucky footprints...It's against the fence and so out of the prevailing wind direction.

While I was scraping dead oak leaves from this Middle Garden section somehow I got tangled in the leaf rake and subsided gently on to the pile of leaves - unfortunately I have trouble getting up! Gillian was there, luckily for me, but I can't get up from a sitting position; turned on to my knees but even so I was afraid I'd pull Gillian over. She fetched the fork from the 'other' shed, rammed it into the garden so, using that as a prop on one side and a helping hand/arm on the other I managed to climb to my feet, eventually. No damage done - don't get old!!!

The End Garden again with more hyacinths, just pale pink ones this time, 'going over' hellebores, daffs and forget-me-nots, which should be the next to flower. The blue pot has tulips in it.

Just a few primroses to end on.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


This morning I went out to try to buy and look at various things for the house.

First of all I wanted a replacement large rechargeable torch to replace the one given as a Christmas present the year before last. Can I get what I want? Of course not! I can get the same one again, which, truth to tell was a bit heavy and not altogether convenient to use but why would I want to buy an identical torch which has only had some 15 months wear before becoming unusable? Stuart's taken it to see if he can juggle with it for use at the stables. So, no torch.

Then, I'm gradually getting irritated with my washing machine which I bought from John Lewis on-line. It works perfectly well but has an annoying feature which, truth to tell, I wouldn't have picked up on if I'd been looking at it in the shop.

You can't tell how far through the cycle the washing's actually got. There's no indicator on the 'dashboard' to tell you whether, for example, it's still on the wash cycle and you haven't put in enough soap or whether it's gone into the rinse cycle and you just don't need any more soap.

There's one expensive model which counts down the minutes to finishing - so what good is that? You still don't know which cycle you're in. I want to be able to stop during rinsing and spin so that I can go out...

Then I thought about updating my almost 6 year old laptop - silly me to think I can get what I want. I bought a Fujitsu about 4 years ago as a stopgap when this HP went away for repairs but hated Vista so much - AND the shiny screen which reflects everything behind it - that it's lived on a shelf in the workroom almost since I bought it. Oh, and it didn't have any way of turning off the integral mouse, which I loathe! So, that idea came to nothing, too.

Why do we have to put up with manufacturers who decide what's going to be 'out there' for us to buy, with no choice offered?

One last grumble, which has been on-going for several decades - I like round-toed shoes with flat heels and consequently have decent feet for my age.

I bought these 'Desert Island' shoes more than 25 years ago at Hampton Court flower show, while I was still teaching. They cost about £30 a pair and the children, sitting on the carpet in front of me, loved them too. They were made by a pair of hippies who worked in Glastonbury and these were the only ones in my size at Hampton Court.

Some time later I was on a coach trip to Glastonbury, found the shop they had opened in the meantime and ordered a pair of shoes in the colours I chose - a sort of cyclamen for the heel part, turquoise and purple for the upper and the toe cap was, originally, red and yellow with white stars. Those wore off with all the polishing! I had them resoled about a year ago which cost almost as much as the shoes since women's replacement soles don't fit and men's repairs are much more expensive.

So, why can't I buy round-toed and colourful shoes in a shop?? I usually wear trainers as they are at least comfortable but I won't entertain women's shoes in the shops, too cramped in the toes and such boring colours...

There, I feel better now!

So, what irritates/annoys/frustrates you when you're shopping? Some things you just can't buy on line, you need to try or handle the goods. Let's have a few grumbles from you!!

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Is anyone watching??

Here goes, then!

Just look at the state of my hair...but I can soon make myself a handsome bird again.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Yesterday I decided I couldn't waste such a fine day by sitting indoors and knitting so hopped into the car and drove about 4 miles towards Thame to visit Dinton Church. Despite its nearness to home I've never been to see it though I did know some things about it.

The first thing that greeted me was a vista of molehills - all dug by 'the little gentleman in the black velvet coat'. I have moles, or a mole, in the garden from time to time and you know he's about because plants are leaning over sideways where they've been undermine

As I rounded the corner of the church I could hear singing - Michael Ball and 'Love Changes Everything'. I found the door open and a couple of ladies making flower arrangements for a funeral being held today. They were testing a tape to see if the songs on it would be suitable. For me, it meant that I didn't have to go and find a keyholder if it had been locked.

The Norman door to Dinton Church is well known for the carving on the tympanum above the entrance.

On the lintel it shows a dragon deciding to attack St. Michael who is holding out a small cross. The larger carving shows monsters eating fruit from the ?Tree of Life.

The porch, which helps to shelter this carving, also has some carved corbels. They aren't in very good condition looking as if they've been subjected to weathering over many centuries.

I've seen an etching of the door from the 19th century and there is no porch. Perhaps the church couldn't afford top notch carvers in the first place as they seem to be rather naive faces.
The stocks used to be on a patch of grass ouside the church boundary but at some point they've been brought into the porch's shelter. I wonder if they had a one-legged trouble maker in Dinton - there are 5 leg holes....

Inside, the church has a high ceiling and it's light and bright unlike Stone church which is stone walled and grey. The pews have kneelers made to different patterns depending on the interests of the maker. This is just a selection and it wasn't an easy choice. They are all hung on hooks on the back of the pew in front.

Dinton font is an example of the 'Aylesbury type' of font, ie, a cup/goblet shape.
I asked the flower arranging ladies why various items were covered in these blue cases - because there are bats in the church and it stops their deposits from damaging the items, though only certain objects were shrouded like this.

I took a photo of the organ, which is large for a small church but - it wasn't good enough to include. There are some hand worked representations of the village done in wools and materials and framed behind glass - and out of the light.
The plaque commemorates a member of the Currie family whose home was next door in Dinton Hall. The Curries played a part in the wider district - in 1931 Sir William Currie had attended the opening of Stone's 'vastly improved bowling green'.
In the spring of 1944 Lt. Currie was killed at Kohima, the furthest point which the Japanese reached in their attempted invasion of India. It was 'the scene of some of the bitterest fighting of the whole Burma campaign.' The road to Imphal was re-opened after huge casualties from hand to hand fighting, where for a time the Deputy Commissioner's tennis court formed a no-man's-land. It has been outlined in white concrete and this is the site of the cemetery. It holds Commonwealth soldiers, Hindu and Sikhs. There is a memorial to the 2nd British Division, a large stone which bears the inscription -

When you go home
Tell them of us and say,
For their tomorrow
We gave our today.

(This information comes from Vol.3 of an Imperial War Graves Commission booklet, pub. 1958, which I picked up in a charity shop many years ago. Its title is TheirName Liveth. )

As I left the church I walked round the exterior and saw this grotesque high on the wall near the roof.
I'd have called it a gargoyle but I've recently seen a QI programme where the host, Stephen Fry, said gargoyles are for diverting rain water away from the building and this type of carving is known as a grotesque. I believe him!

Dinton Hall was renovated over several years but I don't know what its use is these days; one web site suggested a gentlefolks' home...There is an amazing range of twisted chimneys which in my photo look like a block - I was paying too much attention to the patterning on the roof.

In the time of the Civil War in the mid 17th Century it belonged to Simon Mayne, friend of Cromwell and one of the signatories to Charles I's death warrant. When Charles II returned to England Mayne was incarcerated in the Tower of London but is buried at Dinton. Just along the road is a pub called The Dinton Hermit which used to have a sign of a man in old-fashioned clothes.

The man was John Bigg, Simon Mayne's clerk. Alison Uttley says, in her Buckinghamshire book, that tradition has it he was Charles I's executioner and, struck with remorse, lived as a hermit. One of his leather shoes, patched, repatched and patched again until it became enormous, is in the Bodleian Library, according to a website. I can't remember whether I've seen it or not...

Something nice to end on. I walked for about a mile on a flat road and on the way back to the car saw these violets shining in the grass.....

Thursday, 10 March 2011


You don't have to answer that!

I don't use emoticons or other 'thingys' made up of ) : or ; etc but I thought this cat was a giggle. He miaous if you put the cursor on his forehead, on his tummy makes him purr. He'll also try to catch it as it passes in front of him and his tail'll twitch, too. And he follows where you're sending the cursor, of course. I just have to remember to turn on the sound - and then off again.

Good old Sarah, since I couldn't place it where I wanted it...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


This is the beautiful winning design for the Spitfire Memorial which will be erected in Southampton in due course. Designed by R.J. Mitchell this iconic plane flew there on its first test flight in 1936. Last Saturday there was a flying display by Carolyn Grace in her two-seater Spitfire to commemorate the 75th anniversary, taking with her as her passenger Nick Hancock who designed the memorial.

Her husband had rebuilt the plane, taking 5 years to do so, but sadly he was killed; now Carolyn flies the plane.

There's a fund set up to enable the public to contribute towards the £2m cost of the memorial. Just put into Google and all the info will appear.

Monday, 7 March 2011


I've had a single starling come into the garden for a couple of weeks now. It has an unusual way of feeding, laying the side of its head along the ground and scooping up some seed. Another starling came down yesterday and one of those fluttering up in the air displays ensued then both flew away.
I've managed to get a photo of it showing the way its beak is both extra long and crossed. This is the reason, perhaps, for it being unwanted by the rest of the group. I wonder if it will survive.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


Last weekend Sarah 'translated' the info in the camera manual regarding using the Macro setting. It was a nice sunny day yesterday though a very cold wind so I braved a walk round the churchyard to try it out. These 'day's eye' flowers were the first effort and were OK so I tried a patch of moss
growing on a stone 'lump' which is supposed to be the base of the church cross.
Round the corner to the west door to find the only two figures represented on the outside. Kilpeck it's not!!
According to Alison Uttley's book of Buckinghamshire (rather fanciful reading about life in the good old days) this is meant to be a bishop and the one below represents a king. He looks a bit young to be a king, I think.

I thought this pine bark was just like ripples of chocolate, if you look at it sideways!

I think they're Scots pines but I have hardly any tree bark knowledge.
Here's one way of finding the watering can next time it's wanted!

And a bit of history to end with - sorry!
This wall seems to be the one referred to in the Vestry Minutes (the parish council took over from the Vestry several decades later). It's a bit, um, unpleasant but it's parish history all the same. Don't read if you're squeamish!!!
Because of the asylum burying so many of their patients there a problem arose which had to be solved.
On 24th March 1870 'it was moved, seconded and carried unanimously that the Vicar be requested to apply to the ensuing court of Quarter Sessions for help to enable the vestry to build a wall before a certain portion of the churchyard and to puddle the same with clay to prevent the effluvia from the dead bodies interred in the churchyard by Order of the Committee of the Visitors of the Asylum escaping through the fence.'
No Health and Safety issues there then.

Thursday, 3 March 2011


It seems ages since I blogged about Faithfull Close and Jefferies Road in the village being named after two WW2 casualties whose names are on the War Memorial. So here are the names of a couple more roads plus a bit about the Asylum.

You have to know that Stone was once home to the Bucks County Pauper Lunatic Asylum. About 1844 Parliament decreed that every county should build a lunatic asylum and after a great deal of haggling and NIMBYism it was this village which was chosen. The site was out in the country, that is, about 4 miles from Aylesbury, it was on the turnpike road, now the A418, from Aylesbury to Thame and Oxford and had a 'southerly aspect'. Despite all these qualifications it did not have an adequate supply of water which was to cause problems for years to come.
The photo at the head of this blog shows the asylum, which opened in January 1853, from a postcard which probably dates from the late 19th or early 20th century. I'm guessing that the man in uniform on the right hand side of the photo is the gatekeeper, Jeremiah Warren.
The name was changed several times - from County Pauper Lunatic Asylum until after WW1, when it was changed to Bucks Mental Hospital.
The photo of the crest was taken about 5 years ago. In the top photo it can be seen over the main door and was obviously thought worth saving. It's now in the grounds (though unnoticed) of Tindal Hospital in Aylesbury which was once Aylesbury it has a role in providing Mental health facilities. And it's opposite Aylesbury prison, one Victorian building facing another. (I had fun trying to find this, asking people in various establishments round about whether they could direct me to it. It produced frowns and puzzlement and comments of, 'I've seen it but I can't remember where.' Obviously not big enough!!
When the NHS began in 1948 the name changed again to its final designation - St. John's Hospital. Then it was decided by Bucks CC to demolish this vast building for development, ie, housing. The roads on the site are named for the original wards but this Street was named after a doctor who died in WW2, though his name isn't on the war memorial - he's a 'foreigner' from Scotland.
Aged 25, Norman James Haggar married in Stone Church on 10th September 1939. He served on HMS Kashmir as a Surgeon Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He died on 9th April 1940, the day the Germans invaded Norway and has no known grave.

This oddly-named road is a name from the 1776 Enclosure Map. [Common land was enclosed taking away the long held rights of the common people to keep a cow, thus losing access to dairy products, and to take fallen wood.] The area it covered then is now a housing estate, part of which is called The Spiert. It has been suggested the name could mean 'a spring' or alternatively a willow plantation. Perhaps it's a bit of both as there are underground springs all over the high ground where the A418 runs now and willow grows near water.