Saturday, 23 July 2011


I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks - doesn't it drive you mad when the blog doesn't behave? Where have my Followers gone, though from the outcry on Help it seems to be a Google problem. And why does it decide to do its own paragraphing? I didn't lay out the last blog in the way it appeared!

Anyway, this collection of neatly cut out epimedium leaves is the work of leaf cutter bees but I've never seen one - as far as I know! The cut out pieces are rolled into cylinders and placed in a tunnel (says the AA book of the British Countryside). One end is sealed with a piece of leaf and a store of honey and pollen placed against it. One egg is laid on the food then the cell is sealed. Other cells are made along the tunnel and when the tunnel is full the bee dies. The following spring the new bees emerge.

On to other things now. The long-hexie lap quilt I was making from Kath's template is well on the way to completion.
I didn't want to have a lot of material on my lap while sewing one square in place. I followed the idea of sewing in sections, the yellow squares at the bottom being attached to the piece underneath, in due course.
A couple of days ago I put the 'sandwich' together.

Under this layer of fleece is the backing, which I forgot to photo but it wouldn't show you anything exciting, just a piece of Laura Ashley material I was given ages ago. It's the colour of anemones, red, hyacinth blue, white and green, and densely patterned with flowers. I bought a roll of upholsterers wadding years ago and I've always used this as the batting for quilts and the later offcuts are used for toy stuffing. Once these two layers were wrinkle free I laid the top over the two layers, making sure there was plenty of extra material underneath spread equally on all sides. I've not decided yet whether to do a 'wraparound' binding or a separate one.
Then I had to pin the 'sandwich' every 4" or so but I can't do that on the floor now, so put in half a dozen pins to hold it and then lifted it onto my dining table where I completed the pinning section. So far I've managed to quilt 1/4" in from the seams in half a dozen of the yellow squares using a new roll of tape, bought at the amazing new Hobbycraft store in Aylesbury. My quilting frame has been reassembled and is waiting for me to start work again today. The quilt has to be finished by the end of August if it's to go into Haddenham Horticultural Show's Handicrafts section.
Just one more thing now. Do you remember seeing this photo of a mullein in the garden? It was taken on the 2nd June.Look at it now!!
I asked Sarah to stand beside it to give an idea of the height to which it's grown! (She's about 5'6"). Blue tits were hopping up and down it this morning....

Monday, 11 July 2011


On Saturday I went to 'do' Cuddington Fete with a friend. Neither of us had been there as stall-holders before so got there much too early but better than too late! It was a day of sunshine and showers but we hoped for the best.

I'd phoned Lucas's, a large furniture store in Aylesbury, the previous day to see if they had any very large pieces of scrap plastic which we could use as stall covers in case of rain. Yes, was the answer, and I retrieved two huge covers which we split into lengths. As it turned out, just as well.

Brenda had taken unframed work from The Friday Art Group, cards and framed pictures of her own work. She had also taken bunting and bags which she'd made.

I took a couple of lap quilts, Tiny Teds, two dolly quilts and one patchwork bag.

I didn't expect to sell anything but I was pleasantly surprised! I sold three Tiny Teds though not these in the photo above. They're about 6" tall and stuffed with the offcuts of batting in the quilts.

I also sold a dolly quilt and you can see the size of that from the ruler alongside it.
But I was most surprised to sell a lap quilt - to a couple who wanted to put it on a rocking chair.
The parade began at our end of the street. Small children, with their glad rags on and wearing fantastic hats, were seated on a trailer ready to be pulled along by an ancient little tractor but - the heavens opened! Poor children, sodden with rain before they'd even started. Huddled on their carriage they were glum faced and miserable as they went past. The adults followed on foot. Then the sun reappeared, well, after some minutes...

We'd managed to cover our stall though Brenda lost a couple of paintings. The plastic came in useful after all though we were just a bit wet, too.

It was interesting to find how many ladies wanted to talk about quilting - reminiscing or How To which made the time pass. Nice to talk about something I know about!!!

Now, what can I make towards next year's Fete???

Brenda had taken a couple of photos of the stall but they've come to me by email in a strange format which I can't re-use. Don't ask! I don't understand it. Perhaps it'll get sorted later on.

Friday, 8 July 2011


Last week the field at the back of our houses in my lane was cut, left to dry for a day then on Sunday it was baled. The machine, which couldn't be seen for the tree foliage, chugged about most of the day and from upstairs I could see these black shapes dotted about. This morning they've all gone.
When I first came here this field was a wildlife haven of self sown shrubs, nettles, huge blackberry bushes, grasses and teasels scattered among the enormous chunks of concrete from various demolition jobs.
It used to be working sandpits for about 100 years, fine sand for making glass, I understand, and home to hundreds of sandmartins. There was a 'lake', too, which someone had stocked with fish liberated from the River Thame down at Eythrope. Then it became an unregulated rubbish tip and apparently there was wholesale and unregulated dumping, including waste from Aylesbury's building 'improvements' in the 1960s. Schwarzkopf allegedly dumped pallets of hair dyes and sprays, making a ditch's water run yellow. But by the time I came here, it was a haven for birds, badgers and for all I know, foxes, too.
Then the whole site was bought by a developer to build two expensive houses in the area near the lane and the rest was to be a field. Tipper lorries by the dozen brought in soil from the Fairford Leys development (I understand) and levelled the surface of the now raised ground to make the field which is there at present.
But no one who is local would think of putting livestock on this polluted ground so it stands idle. A few people from the houses in my lane walk their dogs round the edges but otherwise - it just sits. Birds are infrequently seen out there, just a few starlings these last few days, foraging in the short grass.
But on Sunday there were seven kites circling over the garden and the field, waiting for any carrion to be exposed by the baling machine. What an opportunity to take photos as they glide and soar past. Huh! It's harder than it looks. The closer they are the faster they sweep past so this is the best of the bunch which I took. They are flying against a very dark rain cloud on this humid afternoon.

Perhaps I'll get another chance some other day!
In the top photo the trees/hedges furthest away are on Waddesdon Hill at Upper Winchendon.

Monday, 4 July 2011


I took another blanket down to the lady whose son is working with children in Burma and for whom she collects all kinds of things.
This one is still made in five sections then crocheted together before the crochet edgings are added. She was pleased that the colours were bright as, apparently, the children like the gaudy colours of the blankets. Another shipment is due to go out at the end of July.

It's getting hairy taking 'floor' photos but I prefer them as reference photos to the artistically draped ones...I used to climb onto a dining room chair and stand up there with no problem. Now, to take this, I got to the first step of a small stepladder and didn't feel safe even at that mini-height.

I've almost done the first strip of No.5.

Don't get old, but as someone said to me - What's the alternative???

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Just a couple more photos from the garden with apologies for the clothes post right in the centre of the picture-there's no way round it! This is a viticella clematis, Etoile Violette, which has flowered well this year. It faces away from the house so this photo was taken in the evening so as to get the sun on it. It's climbing on the oak tree in the background, the rowan on the right and rosemary in the foreground. Some years it's rather feeble but it's amazing what a handful of fertiliser and a prune in the spring can do!

It's a reliable plant and lasts for a long time, but it's still early, like so many other things this year. I hope yours will be OK, Kath.

I've had a vine called Claret Cloak for about 12 years and this year it's more or less given up, one stem/trunk, about as thick as a woman's arm, has died as I found out when I chopped at it with the axe to see what colour the bark was underneath but the other part is OK, well, it's still alive. The small birds like to use this dead tangle as 'scaffolding' to skip down then on to the bird table and there's also another clematis, 'Comtessse de Bouchard', hanging on to a second bundle so the vine is being left for the time being. Another job for the autumn...

I've had this plant for some time, too, the real name is Galega, otherwise known as Goat's Rue. As you can see, it's growing in shade but I have another one with mauve flowers in the open garden but not enough flowers on it yet to take a photo. It's a perennial so I don't have to do anything with it except tidy it up in the autumn. It allegedly got its name from being fed to goats to improve milk flow. A bit on the untidy side, like catmint, but nice to have all the same.

Friday, 1 July 2011


In June, under the title Hens and Houses I posted a piece about the chickens at the stables and their new home. Stuart is still buying Little Tykes houses and converting them for use as chicken houses. These are the latest editions. I like the 'Snow White' one on the right hand side.
With my sense of humour I can just imagine a 'Chicken Run' process when it comes to locking them in for the night...

The whistle blows.
'Line up in front of your house.'
Chickens all shuffle into place in front of their particular dwelling.
'Forward march.'
The chickens march, in step, into their hut and settle down for the night.

Somehow I can't imagine it'll be like that! Though they are being kept in groups according to age and with their 'friends'...

This one, through the netting, isn't fully adapted yet.

It's different...