Friday, 29 April 2011


Do you visualise how your memory for storing odd scraps of information works? For me, it's like one of the old time cash registers! A crash on the keys and suddenly up comes the right answer.

I have no interest in cars - they have (mostly) four wheels, one in each corner, brakes and either go or don't. But when I was in Thame yesterday and saw this vehicle up popped an answer - a Mini Moke. How did I know that??? I have no idea! Just a bit of useless information gathered from somewhere or other in the past.

The driver was just climbing out as I reached him so asked him if it was a Mini Moke and he said it was a Lookalike... Looks very uncomfortable to me!

PS All Stuart's family and friends have gone to Newquay for the next few days to the Riviera Rally for Minis, they're all Mini potty...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


I've made a couple more charity blankets. These are both 4' x 3' and will go to schools in Burma which deal with orphans and blind children. I visited the lady in the village whose son is the driving force out there and she showed me photos of the children. The blind children need sensory toys and these are shipped along with lots of other items - clothes, toys, books etc. Everything is donated and I was shown a large 'spare' room, which felt about the size of the whole of my ground floor, with items waiting to be packed and a garage with already packed boxes waiting to be collected.

The top blanket is knitted in a rectangular pattern, two adjacent squares at once, changing colours halfway along the row. There are seven 'strips' in all, crocheted together and then the edge crocheted to finish it off.

The blanket above is a different pattern, just to make knitting them a little bit more interesting.

This one has slightly wider strips, and just one 'bar' at a time. There are 5 strips so not as much joining later on. I've adapted a quilt binding strategy and the outer edging is made up of bits of wool which are too short to make a row of knitting. I can't bear to throw anything away!

In the background is the arm of my magnifying lamp for handquilting and the roll of upholsterer's wadding which I use as the filling in a quilt sandwich. Both of these take a bit of carting upstairs and then down again when I need them so I leave them in my lounge and don't 'see' them any more...

Any ideas, anyone, of how I can pattern more blankets? Nothing complicated....

Friday, 22 April 2011


More things are happening in the gardening, mostly flowers, but I noticed these at the top of the Christmas tree, which I grew from a seed many years ago. Are these going to be cones this year, for the first time? I've never seen them before on this tree or noticed them elsewhere, either.
I bought this lilac at a car boot about 15 years ago when it was about 18" tall, I think. Now look at it! This autumn I'm getting the 'tree man' back to prune some of my shrubs, they're just getting too exuberant and I can't reach up in this one to cut off all the dead heads. Each flowering point has two flowers and the scent as you walk past is like a cloud of talc.
I've always known these as Welsh poppies and they're usually yellow but somehow over the years a lot of them have become orange - or they've been transferred from someone elses garden. This one grabbed my attention because the ?calyx is still on the flower.

These pesky bluebells are growing from a fuchsia magellanica so they're a permanent fixture! They are pretty, though. The tulips are Jan Roos, a favourite of mine, and Gillian's, too. The half pot is covering a clematis and this is where, a couple of years ago, a badger dug out what I now know must have been a honeybees nest. I was watching the Nature programme on BBC2 last night and Chris thingy mentioned that bees do nest in the ground. The first allium is just beginning to open and there are lots more to come. I can't remember which kind this is. I've found that as Gillian now plants everything I lose track of what is where. This year we've resolved to pick up what we've been slack about the last couple of years and that's making a note of what goes where. I shall make labels from old margarine tubs which can be stuck in the ground...

These Camassia were bought years ago at Toad Hall in Henley and have increased enough to have been able to split so I have three groups now. They come from North America, Oregon. The plant behind them is a Nandina, a present about 5 years ago. It has sprays of dainty white flowers and is evergreen, too.

I wish it would rain, overnight of course!

Monday, 18 April 2011


Just lounging in the paddling pool on a warm day...

Sunday, 17 April 2011


When a new crop of flowers are out I like to take reference photos so here are some which I took a few days ago. I'm working from nearest to the house down to the shed-at-the-bottom.

The marsh marigolds are a bright, strong yellow and that's not a surprise when you know they're related to the buttercup family. The botanical name is Caltha palustris, which means it grows in a bog.

Gillian brought me these cowslips a couple of weeks ago and, despite not being watered, they
have grown remarkably well. Under the green plastic cover on the right are some very tiny ones, protected against Ashley looking for a loo.... Cowslips were known as 'cowslops' (from Old English) because they grew in fields where there were cowslops, ie, cow pats... do you wish you didn't know that? Somehow, this year, I have lots of different tulips so I must have bought packets of mixed bulbs and left them to Gillian to plant or else they are bulbs from a few years ago which were turned out of their original pots and put in to 'see what will happen' to them. Whatever, they look bright and cheerful; the orangey flowers look like a Parrot or Fringed variety. Something - pigeons after fallen sunflower seeds or the badger trekking across the garden - have trampled the daffodil leaves in the background. More tulips with some of the last daffodils still remaining while in the foreground those little knobbly buds are alliums. I bought several varieties from a grower a few years ago and they obviously like my sandy soil as they've self-seeded into the path as well.

Purple honesty pops up without any need to sow seeds, they are so plentiful. The correct name is Lunaria because the seed pods look like a full moon, flat and silvery. They're not usually under the correct name in garden centres! The sort of tasselly growth at the bottom of the picture is Aconitum, or Wolfsbane, and it's poisonous. It has purple flowers which are said to resemble a monk's hood, which is another common name for this plant. At the top right hand corner is my Philadelphus, a double flowered variety, which smells strongly when it's in flower.

Some years ago I fancied growing white honesty - in the days when I actually sowed seed, transplanted etc - but the seed had to be ordered from a family-run garden centre. The leaves were once 2 colours of green but have reverted to plain green but I'm pleased it's still around. It's not a prolific scatterer of seeds but it makes a large plant at this time of year. Behind the weeping birch trunk (cut down as it got too vigorous but sprouting again) is a Weigela 'Victoria' which doesn't grow any bigger than this, between 3 and 4 feet, and has a dark red flower. The Boy, my bird bath with Pan playing his pipes, needs filling again. Pigeons like to bathe in here, perhaps because it's deeper than the bowls on what's laughingly known as 'the lawn'. Forgetmenots are everywhere at the moment despite 'all' the plants being pulled up each year just as they begin seeding. Too late, obviously. But they make a nice blue carpet covering a multitude of things Gillian and I haven't been able to do yet. The tulips are in a blue pot for their second year, just ignored all winter; the pale ones are Holland Chic and the darker, central ones are called Burgundy.

If I remember I'll put some fertiliser on them...

The primroses are still very much in evidence, tucked in with the forgetmenots.

Don't look at the weed in there! These dainty little flowers are epimediums, or Bishops Hat, or even Bishop's Mitre, from the shape of the pointed leaves. They're unobtrusive plants but in the autumn the leaves turn a reddish brown so they have quite a long season of interest.

I wonder what I'll find to write next year.....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


At Little Hampden, on the fast lane between Great Missenden and Chequers this forge stands a short way back from the road. The smith makes decorative ironwork pieces and this one of the two pieces currently on display.

Sometimes I haven't stopped to take photos but I couldn't resist having a closer look. As you can see this stag is made from old horseshoes welded together. I think it must be lifesize, too.

Here's the detail of how the chest area is tightly packed with parts of shoes and the body is whole shoes. Some people are so clever! I wonder how many shoes went into making this - and the time and patience.

The other piece which is currently displayed is this graceful ArtDeco flower piece

and few years ago there was a sculpture of kites circling, also on this sort of scale.

Perhaps when I go along this road next, if the forge is open, I'll go in and have a talk with him.

The cottage in the background of the top photo was lived in by a dinner lady at the school where I taught - but I didn't knock to see if she was still in residence.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


I thought I'd get the computer cleaned and scrubbed and whatever else is done to it to make it work a bit faster. I'm already wishing I hadn't bothered! Trip 1 to Haddenham on Monday was to take it in to the firm who advertised their computer services. Later I had a call, would I take in the whatever-you-call the lead which plugs into the wall and links with the computer as their One Suits All lead didn't fit. That was Trip 2. Then Trip 3 was Tuesday to collect and pay. Trip 4 was back to Thame the same day because whatever update/download/new something or other they'd installed didn't allow me to open Organ Grinder's Monkey blog or Life of a Student Photographer blog, nor could I open straight into the Google page (which I prefer to Mozilla Firefox) without multi advert pages coming up. The font had also changed in my emails although Format/Font still said it was what it clearly wasn't. Trip 5, Thursday (today)another trip to collect and bring it home where I find there are still things I don't want which have appeared so I'm busy deleting those. Whatever else turns up I'll leave until my daughter and her partner are over from Holland next week (when it'll be Christmas 2010) and they can put it back how I want it... My printer became defunct last Thursday so Sarah and I went to Argos where I bought an identical one to hers. As we all know, manuals are rubbish, so I have no idea how to scan from the printer to the computer; I've tried but no luck. Sarah's having an end-of-Uni-term in Disneyland with some of her friends - Come Back Sarah.....Grandma needs you!!!. I didn't lay out this post in one great chunk but I can't get it to go into separate pieces, so, sorry for the inconvenience...

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Just a note - the swallows have arrived back at the stables! Every year they nest in one of the stables, taking no notice of the humans siting under their flight path. I doubt I'll get a photo of them flying, much too fast as they skim past. But perhaps I'll manage one from the stable a bit later.

Friday, 1 April 2011


I went for a walk this sunny, blustery afternoon which took longer than anticipated as I stopped to natter to a couple of neighbours and then had a rest on the way back. I saw this horse chestnut tree a week ago but didn't have the camera with me. I love these sticky buds in a shiny dark brown case with leaves which unfurl just like a fist of fingers. The 'horse shoe' is there, too. The red or white flowers, which come about May, are very reminiscent of England, especially if you see a row of them. The ex-Asylum site in Stone has one such row, mostly what you might call teenage trees in years but others have already been planted between those so that there will always be horse chestnuts along the road.

When I got home again Ashley was laid out on the garden bench in the sun. I went past him to take a photo of the first tulips I saw in the garden today. I think these might be Pink Perfection, from where they are. (He wasn't as asleep as I thought he was.)

The beech hedge behind them has a clematis Sho-Un climbing up it. It'll have purple 'flat' flowers, or what the label calls 'blue' later in the summer... As I went back indoors I saw one solitary tulip, 'Princess Irene', further down the garden. It's a nice orange with a green stripe on the outside of the petal. There should be more - somewhere!

Forgetmenots have buds on, too! Everything is moving now there's been some rain.