Friday, 31 May 2013


When I'd pegged out all these socks this morning I wondered if I had an Alice in Wonderland kind of caterpillar tucked away somewhere indoors!

 As you've probably guessed from my quilts I do like bright colours - and the same goes for socks. Some of these are English, most of the plain ones were bought in C& A in Holland. They're generous enough for my big feet, unlike a lot of the English socks.
The clothes prop on the extreme left is holding up next door's fence panel - again...


Wednesday, 22 May 2013


 I thought I'd show you my compost heap(s) as they are looking particularly nice this year; the snow seems to have worked wonders on them. My main shed is on the left, anything on the right belongs to my nice next door neighbour. Gillian and I mean to cut down this ankle damping greenery but invariably time runs out before we get very far. There are forgetmenots on the left, a lovely tall bunch of grass on the right and the foliage beyond the grass seems to be  a weed, sorry, wildflower, called avens which is related to the cultivated geum. It's time some nettles turned up here, as well.

The honesty has done its own thing from plants which were pulled up and thrown on the compost. Aren't they nice? And all without any effort on our part! There used to be a sycamore tree here, just in front of the honesty, and a hawthorn which was sheltering in its shadow has made giant strides,too. The fence at the back is 'mine', put up to enclose the dark tree, a hawthorn, which I wanted to keep when the developer was tidying the field and cutting down everything. I 'stole' 18" of his field...he told another neighbour on the 'other' side of me. This compost heap is the second heap I made but it's now out of commission.

 This is the currently used compost container, built by the people who lived in this house before I arrived. I tried to take it apart many years ago but now I'm glad it's there!
Another lovely weed crop, this time of Goosegrass or Cleavers. It cleaves to you if you try to detach it from your clothes or fingers!
 My Book of the British Countryside by the AA also gives Sticky Billy and Hug Me Close as alternative names. It was formerly fed to newly hatched goslings, it seems.

 Here's something else which has done well this year - Garlic Mustard or Jack in the Hedge. It's everywhere! These plants are on the site of Compost Heap No.1, or rather the site of three wooden compost containers which worked well, making very good compost, but it was too compacted for us to be able to turn. I gave up watching gardening programmes which assumed everyone was male, young to middleaged and in good health!
Here's another view of the honesty  and next door's shed.

Clambering across on this piece of parcel string is a self sown honeysuckle which used to twine round the sycamore. After that was cut down I had to find another support for it and this idea worked out all right last year. Hopefully it will end up covering the shed roof. I bought a roll of this string more than 20 years ago at Wycombe Car Boot and it's still going strong - there's a fair amount left. It's a soft, fluffy string which is strong - and blue tits like it for pulling apart as nest building material. Tugging on an end the little bird  will stand on tiptoe as it leans backwards, trying to detach a piece of soft lining. Not one has fallen over yet!!

Friday, 17 May 2013


Well, another quilt finished at last. I began it about this time last year but I don't machine or quilt during the dark months, my eyesight just isn't good enough to see accurately. I began it again perhaps six or seven weeks ago. I quilted it diagonally on the premise that by starting across the centre and working down to the corner I would feel that it was moving on quite quickly. Each pale green square (would you believe) in the centres has either a heart, star or flower quilted in each of them.
These are some of the patches which show the details of the material I used - these dandelions were brought back from the US y-e-a-r-s ago by a friend.
 Dragonflies came in a set of fat quarters given to me by Sarah when she was at Uni.
 More material given by a friend but this was a dress length. I shouldn't have used it, really, as it's too pale but seen at close quarters it looked OK. Never mind.
I can't remember whether I bought this at a tabletop sale or whether the seller brought it in a dustbin liner some days later with other pieces and yardages. It goes on and on but I expect to finish it one of these days. Weird and wonderful creatures...
 The only bit of cat related material and that's a scrap I saved...
 Another piece given to me which seems to go on for ever...
 This is the back of the quilt. The backing material came from the same shop - Fabric Land - where the dragonflies originated. I do like a black background with bright colours for backings or borders. I can't be subtle! The binding is made from a piece of purple/mauve material bought - New!! - from a website; the text on the selvedge indicates that it's copyright to the V & A, Sold for Noncommercial Home Use Only and not to be used for children's sleepwear.
These two views are closeups of the backing and you can just see the quilting symbols, too.

It's so important that whatever you make is named and dated and possibly a title, too. I took this photo as the quilt flapped to and fro on the line. Since I've looked at so many Records of Baps, Marriages and Burials plus Census records I find the different styles of handwriting are interesting. Victorian writing isn't all Copperplate by any means. That's the reason why I handwrite my name though I must admit it's rather stylised, It's not usually that legible.

 Can you guess what this is? Kath got it in one!
It's my Granny's lump of beeswax discoloured by smoky coal fires and since she used candles for light that must have contributed. I don't use it but don't want to throw it away. That's for someone else to decide on in due course when they don't recognise it!

This is something else I'm doing in my 'spare time'... In October there will be another craft fair in Haddenham and since every time I take Tiny Teds out to sell they all go, though this is putting the mockers on it, saying that. The teddy 'skin' takes about 1hr 50 mins to make (I'm getting quicker) and because I know the pattern by heart I can make them at the new Knit and Natter group which has started recently in Haddenham library, which is now run by volunteers. I try to keep up a production line for the various stages then I don't get tired of doing just one operation. This is the first batch of finished Teds.

I haven't managed so many cat blankets recently, just these three on the line on a dull day. I bought a book a year ago of 'Ripple' patterns and these zigzag patterns are one way of trying something new but not t-o-o huge! I forget that these patterns tend to pull in the work so that it's not as wide as you think it will be; I added pink garter stitch borders to the one on the left, not totally successful but I don't expect a cat will bother too much that it's now a bowed shape!

Talking of cats, Stuart's stable cat, Tigs, had to be put to sleep a week or so ago. She had recently- diagnosed diabetes and was not happy. The photo was of her two years ago when she was well, looking just like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. She's on top of the hay bales, out of the way of everyone. Now she's buried in the field beside the dog, Keira, who died a couple of years ago.
More mundane matters - I've been let off paying my parking fine by a letter which told me the fine has been waived - on this occasion. Hmmm.

Do you think our weather will ever settle down this summer???

Thursday, 2 May 2013


About 4 weeks ago there was a water problem at the end of my lane. It was 'repaired' and promptly began running again. It's not the first time, it happened some 9 or 10 years ago and we knew
then that it was not what the gang were 'mending' each time, but further back along the system. People phoned, emailed, spoke to workmen wherever they saw them and I even spoke to Bucks Highways citing the damage to the road, all to no avail. The only response was a variety of excuses - the contractor's men were called away to see to a large burst main elsewhere - and still water was running down the road by the thousands of gallons. This may look as if water is draining away but it's really water bubbling through the lid of Thames Water's plate in the road.

This shows the way water was running down the road at the bottom of my lane for four weeks.
But the mini lake came in useful for this pair of dogs on their way home after their exercise.

At last the next-door-but-two neighbour has had his huge walnut tree lopped. This is how it looked before the tree loppers arrived with their chain saws and the huge shredder, left in the field at the back of our properties.

The orange blob near the top of the tree is the young man with the chain saw -' what a way to earn a living' as Dolly Parton sang. At least the weather was OK.
 This is how it looks now and even minus a bit more today - the lower left branch stump has gone. It's made such a difference with being able to see into the distance and the general feeling of light.

 It seems to be a good year for magnolias, there are so many trees in full bloom without being frosted. I spotted this on my home from another visit to the dentist.

And a lovely blue sky for the background.

It seems to be a good year for these, too - there are hundreds of them on the sides of the road, cheerful mini suns. Also known, of course, as wet-the-bed so perhaps they're a diuretic. Does anyone know? Lion's Tooth from its name - one of my German teachers used to call it Dan-Day-Lee-On. Children like to tell the time by puffing at the seed heads sending them off on a journey. It's also used for wine-making though gardeners aren't very fond of them. Can't be loved by everyone...
Now for something completely different! Sarah, my youngest granddaughter, was 22 yesterday and when the photo above, of brother James, was taken in a bluebell wood in Prestwood she was a couple of days old and still in hospital. One thing about his ginger hair is it glows in the sunshine. Now he's grown up he works with Formula 1 Force India racing team as an engineer after trying to get into Red Bull for a couple of years. His degree in Sports Car Engineering has paid off at last.
 I've looked for bluebells this year, especially in the woods round Chequers, but haven't seen that haze of blue yet.

Let us hope that this fine weather isn't our summer....