Friday, 22 September 2017

Yesterday's river walk

As you can see, we had a lot of rain overnight on Wednesday into Thursday.  The river rose significantly and if you fell in, you would be in Carmarthen Bay in double-quick time!

This is my favourite photo-spot along  the river and you can see how high up the river sides it is.

The remains of the tiny cottage where a widow-woman once lived in the 1840s.  She earned her living by charring (rough cleaning) in neighbouring farmsteads.  I always imagine her falling asleep to the sound of the river. 

You can just about see the tiny fireplace in the back wall.

One of my best close-up shots - taken on Scenes (Action setting!!)  Well, it was a bit windy . . .

What a weird beastie - well, it's the hopeful stem of the Himalayan Balsam, hopeful in that when the stem falls over, it will be able to root itself in soil.  A bonus to chucking out loads of explosive seeds everywhere!

Sunshine on the lane going home.

Danny has gone home to his digs today.  He is in the process of changing Dr's surgeries, and is going to have some mates round tonight to cheer him up - I sent him home with a tray bake of Chocolate Raspberry Brownies. 

Off to try and sort out my lace as I screwed-up about an inch back and left out a pin, which is fairly dire to the results!

Thursday, 21 September 2017


I'm glad to report that Danny got checked out at A&E today and was told he was OK, but to go and get his eyes given the once-over by a good Opthalmologist, and he needs to have a blood test at the GPs for good measure.  He just needs to catch up with his sleep as much as anything. 

Finally finished.  I was past caring that some of the angles on the hexis weren't right - it depended on the stiffness of the cotton, although it was all 100% cotton.  I don't care, as I enjoyed making it, especially the embroidery.

Close up of the finished pocket, with a Measles House as Keith calls it!  I unpicked one of the flowers close to the chicken.  Below, a rather blurry picture of the instructions and finished article, using the 1/2" hexis.

I managed to get out for a 3 mile walk today and enjoyed that, down along by the river, which was racing through as we had a lot of rain overnight.  Photos of that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Gardening and worrying

Just a line to say our son is coming home early from his holiday as he is quite unwell and needs to see a Dr.  Needless to say, I have been worried sick and spent yesterday gardening like a maniac, doing what I threatened to do and removing everything that has lots of leaves and a short flowering period.  This includes inmates which moved here with us from Dorset (I said I'd be brutal).  Yesterday it was the turn of the scented-leaf Geraniums.  They spread and sprawl terribly.  Also gone are the variegated leaf Iris from the side of the pond, although they are also IN the ponds, and I will allow them to stay there, and I have removed all the roots of interlopers I could find along that stretch too and put down a couple of buckets of spent compost and planted it up with spring bulbs - Allium and tulip.

I can't eat when I am worried either, so this is good for the waistline if nothing else.

A little sewing and a little unpicking on the pocket happened last night and I'm nearing completion.  I just need to sew it on the bag, sew the handles firmly in place and finally sew the sides together.  There should be a "ta dah" moment very soon.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Monday roundup

All finished - the embroidered pocket.  I'm not happy that the little house looks so stark and very yellow, so I may embroider some extra windows and/or some roses up the wall. With the benefit of hindsight, a tiny-printed pale fabric would have been better than the yellow, but hey-ho, I only have to please myself at the end of the day . . .

Yesterday was a Malvern Fleamarket day, and of course we were up in the middle of the night to drive up there, and came back more or less 12 hours after we had gotten up.  It makes for a very long (but enjoyable) day.  We clocked up 22,000 + steps according to my Fitbit.  About 15 Km.  We walked up and down the rows, and round and round, 2 1/2 times at Malvern, then went on to the car boot sale at Ledbury, and did the same again - it was very busy there, but very little to buy (we didn't get there until it was half way through).

The spotty jug is one I bought at Malvern, for me, as is the beautiful big scarf below.  I loved the vibrant colours.

Above and below: bargains of a different kind, from Aldi.  The cutting mat was only £2.99 (I needed a smaller one) and the craft storage box only £3.99.  I just put the bits and bobs I had in a smaller ceramic drawer which is on the table beside me, waiting for a cat to come and knock it off!

Above: this beautiful glass perfume bottle, French and 1930s (according to the French dealer selling it yesterday), came home with me and will be going to the big Antiques Fair at the Botanic Gardens next month.  It is signed on the bottom (M Lupi) but it is not a well known name in glass making . . .

Below: this more modern piece of glass came from the same dealer (and neither were cheap!) but I think it's beautiful and hope it too will attract a buyer soon.

Finally, my little helper Little Whale.  He is either curled up on our bed, or keeping an eye on me when I am in my office, or best of all for him, as it is WARM in there, accompanying me when I have a bath, to make sure I wash properly!

Friday, 15 September 2017


Now, THAT'S looking better.  A lot more interesting now I have that top border finished on it, and I am enjoying the embroidery.  It has been so many years since I last did any.  I sewed the top border last night, and the flowers this morning as I was up early.  The rain was absolutely pounding down around 6 a.m. but it has dried up and cleared a bit now.

Keith and I have found a good new series to follow on Amazon Prime - called Copper it is set in 1860s New York, just after the end of the Civil War.  It's a sort of American version of Ripper Street, and very entertaining.

This morning I am going to do some baking for the freezer, and as I have lots of fallers (with a little help from the birds) off our eating apple tree, I shall chop those up and start an earthenware jar full of mincemeat.  You start off with apples, adding brown sugar, dried fruit etc, ground cinnamon and ground cloves and I keep adding to it as more apples are available.  Cookers are fine to use too.  Just don't bother with the mushy Gala type apples you get in the supermarkets.  Fresh and home grown is best.  The last of last year's is in a glass jar in the fridge and will probably go into a Mincemeat Cake today.  Yummy.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Yet another LEAK!

Finally the plumber came back today.  Our fault, as although we had phoned him a couple of times, Keith neglected to tell him quite how bad the leak under the sink was (from the hot water pipe).  The last time Keith called him he only said it had "got worse".  Well, I phoned last night and asked when he was coming out as we had a gallon a day leak and a too-small bowl to catch it overnight (as the pipe was low down and only a shallow bowl would fit under.)  He said he would be out first thing this morning, and he was. 

Unfortunately, when I got back from a protracted shopping trip to town (with a list of car stuff to sort for Keith), one leak had been fixed, but ANOTHER one had manifested itself.  This was one which Keith could hopefully fix, as it was the waste pipe to the sink which must have got nudged when the plumber was jammed under the sink today.  Keith has had it apart and it seems to have stopped for now, but we still have the bowl beneath that one, and we may need a new seal or something.

Meanwhile I have been going through a box with two half-finished quilts in (sorry girls) which I am going to get finished this autumn.  I was looking for my log cabin strip templates (missing in action), a wash-off marker pen (found two marker pencils) and Omnigrid quilting ruler.  Damned if I found any of them, so will have to continue my search tomorrow, up in my sewing room in the attic.

However, as the photos above and below show, If found a few excellent magazines and the book above, which I had forgotten I had a they were in a box of fabric.  It was good to see them again and the beautiful quilts within their covers.

Below:  meanwhile I have made a start on doing the applique and embroidery on the pocket to go on the hexi shopping bag.   The wonky trunk on the tree is about to be ripped out and restitched (note to self: don't watch tv when sewing). 

The very faint marks you can see are made with a silver grey marker pen, and will be covered by embroidery thread.  I've now sewn the leaves on the little French knot flowers.

This is how it should look when finished.  Hah!  I am currently sewing the tiny 1/2 hexis onto a fine linen strip to top the pocket and will start on the flowers tonight.  Now I wish I had used invisible nylon thread to do the applique.  Anyway, it's just for me and I shan't complain if it's not perfect.  I'm enjoying doing it anyway.

We have just had a very heavy downpour of rain again.  First rain, then hailstones.  I noticed the last two House Martins who have had a very late brood over in the farm buildings, were out flying around looking for insects.  The hailstones sent them diving back to the barns though and who can blame them?  All the other House Martins and the Swallows left for Africa in the last 10 days or so.  Even the Crows were upset by the weather and a number of them, 20 or 30, flew over the farm and away down the valley, either trying to outfly the weather or heading for cover.

Tomorrow the new loo for the shower room should be delivered.  Keith is going to start work in there next week.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Autumn rhythms

I managed a short walk yesterday - the first proper walk for ages.  The hand of autumn is being dragged across the land, and as colours fade and bracken yellows, the seeds of Umbellifers have set.

After the turning point in my walk - I had been delayed chatting to a neighbour, and as the skies were looking a bit threatening, I turned around early and began to head back towards home.  This still all looks very green and verdant.

A slightly out-of-focus photo of Scabious.  It gets its name from the fact it was used to treat Scabies in the past. 

More shades of autumn down along the river.

Three white flowers - an Umbellifer (my botany books are downstairs!), a white Himayalan Balsam to the right, and above the bracken you can just make out the white Bindweed flower.

Back at home, with strong gales forecast, I decided to take the plastic greenhouse  down and put it away for the winter.

Today the postman brought me this book, which I had ordered via Amazon.  It has all the patterns and advice I will need to get a little further with my lace-making, although I can already see where I have gone wrong on the bookmark (Lesson no. 1) which Dawn started me off with.

Finally, Wednesday is the day I go to my patchwork class, and I have started a Pineapple Log Cabin design for my lap quilt, using the beautiful machine-embroidered ladies wot sew which Dawn made for my birthday last year.  I can see I have cut off a corner on the bottom one but this is just for me, so I won't complain.

I have also been working on my patchwork (hexi) shopping bag and got the hexis on both sides now, and also put bias binding on the fray-edge of the linen to stop it fraying back to the zigzag stitch I machined either side.  Photos to follow.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

£30 well spent

I ended up having to go to the Chiropractor over my leg pains, and also my dizziness, which my cousin P said could be down to neck problems.  Anyway, I am all sorted now and we were hooting with laughter at one point, so the visit cheered me up too.  He's a very interesting and intelligent man and we always put the world to rights whilst he is carrying out the treatment.

Now we have another Fair behind us, I have time to play catch up a bit.  This morning I have been polishing an old and damaged (it needs a new stock as the bottom 6" or so has broken off in the past) Moroccan musket with the most fabulous metalwork designs on it.  We polished the metalwork up and found it's solid silver (not sterling quality, of course).  If only it hadn't been used as a cosh at some point (when they ran out of ammo presumably) as it broke the end off the stock and the barrel is a bit loose too so presumably broken inside the large decorative strapping there.  Never mind, it came at the right price and I think Keith will now repair it and keep it and part with the one over the kitchen inglenook.

We had our antiques friends P & D round today for coffee and cake, and a natter.  It was good to see them again. We meet up at fairs but we have all been too busy this summer to meet up in between times.  We sent them home with some plums and a bag of Crocosmia corms, so at least they won't all be growing on the stream bank which is where I intend to empty the wheelbarrow full of them.

I have done a little more lace work, but can spot an error.  Never mind, that's what you get when you are first starting.  I can live with it.

Now I am mended and it doesn't hurt to walk, I am going to hopefully get out for a walk up the valley shortly. Greenhouse first though . . .

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Feeling unwell, so a crafting day was had

I woke up in the night feeling sick.  If I turned my head too quickly, it span.  When I got up to go to the loo I was staggering to the right.  (This latter bit started a couple of days ago).  When I dragged myself out of bed at 6 a.m., feeling even sicker, I decided that was it for the night and came downstairs to catch the news - Hurricane Irma is flattening everything in her path.  Poor souls who are in her way.

I had planned to do some lace making but my brain was not co-operating with my hands.  I decided to carry on with making the body of the hexis shopping bag. That showed me I was DEFINITELY not in a state to do anything requiring more than minimal concentration.  I kept having to replace reels of white cotton which appeared to offer a lot (but were remnants) and I ended up having to refill the bobbin completely after it turned out to have shortish pieces wound onto it and all the spare bobbins were different colours.  Filling the one I was using completely then accounted for the last of another spool of thread and I was beginning to think I was going to run out of white!

Using white cotton material (and scissors!) I cut out the pocket to go on the bag.  I will start the applique and embroidery tonight.  I'm looking forward to that.

Pinned and all the paper formers removed (which then required fresh tacking stitches to keep the edges neat . . . 

Then nearly invisibly slip-stitched into place.  Damn - just noticed a wrong angle on a hexi on the bottom row.  Must amend that.  Below - thick hefty handles - made all the thicker and heavier as in turning the 2nd handle (which I gave a stripey lining to stop the linen fraying) frayed completely for several inches when I was turning it inside out, so I decided to use that as a central core and use the last of the stripey material for an outer covering.  These hexis are 2" ones.  NO WAY would I have made it using the 200 1/2" hexis - that would have driven me quite mad.

So, progress and my brain is feeling a bit better now so I am hoping to get some lace making done after my bath tonight.

One good thing, our son phoned from Lithuania tonight (he's on holiday with a friend from his Oz days).  One bad thing - I forced myself to bake a chocolate apple cake to take tomorrow, went downstairs to check on it and found that my darling husband had turned the oven off half an hour or go.  It has SUNK in the middle and I am hoping will be edible after I have cooked it a bit more . . .

Friday, 8 September 2017

A photo-free post . . .

Having taken about 7 minutes to load the new header, I doubt very much that I will get any more photographs loaded tonight.   I always experience a pang of regret when I remove a header photo, as it is always a photo I love and am proud of.  This one of the Brecon Beacons is no exception.  I think this will linger a long time as a header.  Definitely one for the Christmas calendars I will have printed again this year, as Christmas presents.  The Brecon Beacons are so beautiful and it would be lovely to live close enough to see them from our window . . .  Along with the fabulous sandy beaches, the Beacons are definitely one of the best things about our area of Wales.

Today I went into Bobbins, the quilting and sewing shop in Brecon to look for some white print or red on white printed fabric to go with the selection of reds I have for the lap quilt I will be making at the Quilting Group I have joined.  I am going to use a Log Cabin pattern for the quilt, and felt the traditional light/dark of Log Cabin patchwork needed to be used, although the lady teaching us didn't suggest a light colourway at all.  The centres of each block will be the lovely redwork designs done by my friend Dawn for my birthday last year.  I have FINALLY gotten around to doing something with them, but in my defence I have hardly have any spare time to do anything, especially craft work, in the past year.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not very good, so we have an unexpected day at home, and I plan to catch up with yet more decorating (in my office now) as well as doing some tidying up in the garden if it stays dry long enough, stew up the plums (for the freezer) that we picked in the week, and also I need to work on my lace.  Can't wait to get back to that. 

I have reached the point on my hand-sewn small hexis shopping bag where I need to cut out the pocket and draw the design on it, which is then embroidered, with a little bit of applique.  I have found some heavy yellow linen for the actual bag, and a navy/white striped cotton for a lining.  Looks better than it sounds, as a colour combination.  I have a deep mustardy yellow amongst the hexis and also a softer yellow, and it pulls together quite well.  I need to get Keith to make me a teensy 1/2" hexi template for the little row which edge the pocket.

I have a half-done x-stitch project to get back to as well, and need to crack on with that as it is a birthday present for a friend.

My kitchen is STILL in disarray, as I can't put away the under-the-sink stuff away because  . . . we have another leak!  This time, caused by the plumber, who inadvertently swopped over the hot and cold pipes, swopped them back, and they are not fitting tightly enough and the hot is leaking, quite a lot.  We have had to shove a shallow bowl underneath (too low down to use something sensible like a bucket) and empty it about 3 times a day, whilst waiting until he comes out to help fit the shower next week.  I am hoping that tomorrow Keith will get on with making the wooden uplift base for the shallow shower tray (which will then be tiled over to hide it).  The previous shower base was ancient and very deep (unlike the modern ones) and Keith doesn't want to have to lift floorboard to put the drainage pipe below them (which is what I would have done . . .)  Still, I am not a plumbing expert, so I can't possibly comment!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Lace making and a Fledging Heron

This morning I went to my friend Dawn's for my first lesson in lace-making - if you remember, I had a little taster at the Quilt and Textiles Fair last Friday.  It was very kind of Dawn, as she had to look for all her lace-making equipment, books, pillows etc and set it all up ready for me to get started.  I began with winding all the threads on to the various bobbins.  I was very glad that I had several different colours to make it easier to start with.

The start.  Ooh-er, doesn't it look complicated?!  Yet once Dawn had shown me (hah! repeatedly!) what to do, I finally got the hang of it and now I am hooked!  I am glad I took photos as this one shows me how it is meant to look . . .

As you can see, there is a special pattern which you follow, and you just keep crossing and twisting and putting pins in and moving bobbins across from one side to the other and gradually form a pattern (hopefully that which you are meant to be doing!)  I felt such a connection with all those Battams ladies (my mum's side of the family) in Stoke Bruern, Northamptonshire, who earned their living by making lace.  I told myself, children were started at 4 years old - I could DO this!!!  Mind you, I suspect they were started off just winding bobbins, and progressed to pricking patterns before they ever touched a bobbin to make lace.

I have brought this home with me, but have a busy weekend ahead, so hope I haven't forgotten it by the time I sit down with it again.  Dawn kindly provided me with a little notebook too, so I have some working notes in that.

On the way to Dawn's, I had to drive at a snail's pace behind this just-fledged Heron.  He couldn't fly - just manage to flutter 6" or so above the ground.  I made sure I didn't spook him or get too close, and eventually he walked into a gateway and I drove slowly past.  No sign of him on the way back, so at least he hadn't been flattened by a car.  I hope he manages to scramble up into a bush or something tonight, or else a fox may take advantage.

I took more photos of the valley on the cusp of autumn, but it took more than 20 minutes just to load these three, so I will try and do another post a.s.a.p.

Speed painting and Feeling Old

We had our son Danny here for the night on Tuesday.  I fed him, and then he and Keith set to and moved out the oak Arts and Crafts sideboard in the sitting room, and then we all set to and somehow managed to get down the very heavy Victorian mirror which sits over it (imagine 6 feet long by 3 1/2 ft high, with a carved oak frame and a King's head in the centre - sadly it lost its original tendrils of wooden foliage before we bought it at auction many years ago for just £28.  A corner of the mirror had broken off but we had hoped that this was down the back of the mirror and could be glued back in place and a swag of something artfully draped over the break.  Unfortunately, it wasn't and we had to shell out £90 for a replacement mirror.  Anyway, with me on the screwdriver - not an easy job as some of the weight of it (it probably weighs a hundredweight) was on the screws which made trying to remove them a difficult task.  When all this was done, and the wall clear, then I had to set to with my paintbrush and paint the first coat on, then shoot upstairs for a bath whilst it was drying, then back down again and paint the skirting board white, and then a 2nd coat of Copper Blush on the wall.  If you have ever done speed painting, then you will know how tiring it is. I was so shattered that I was falling asleep watching the film Danny had chosen, and couldn't read a word before my head hit the pillow and I was sound asleep.

Then yesterday morning it had to all be reinstated, the drawers and cupboard contents put back in - though I had a cull of Granny C's glassware and washed it all and have put much of it in storage in the attic cupboards.  Ready for when we "move".  Yeah, like that is going to happen any time soon . . .

But if I thought the heavy lifting was over, when I came back from dropping Danny back at home in town, we realized there was another heavy lifting job - the 3 metre length of B&Q worktop which needed to be manhandled onto Keith's Workmate for cutting to length (and shape) and then taken up to the house.  Well, that was a blardy struggle, I can tell you!  I've just looked up the weight and they are 52 Kg - basically, a hundredweight.  It felt like that too!  A 2 man lift is a lot easier for two men than it is for an ageing bloke and his feeble wife!!  Anyway, we managed, and though it took three attempts to get it cut exactly to fit (a little bit had to go into the corner abutting the draining board) we eventually did it, after traipsing backwards and forwards with it 3 times . . .  It looks lovely - faux marble but it really looks like the real thing and is a great improvement on the worktop that was there before. 

The Panny has a loaf in it as we were down to the last couple of slices of bread.  Loading it up was my first job this morning - before I even had a cup of tea.  The stoneware Dundee marmalade pots for the utensils are one of my little foibles, a nod to Tess of the D'Urbervilles who used one just like the oldest one on the left, as a vase with some flowers in on the grave of her dead son, Sorrow . . .

Right, this won't do.  After going to a patchwork class yesterday afternoon, this morning I am off to my friend Dawn's to have my first proper lesson in lace making.  Yippee!!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Builth Antique Fair & Fleamarket - photo heavy

Saturday saw us up at Builth Wells for the twice yearly Antiques Fair & Fleamarket.  Sunday's forecast was for rain, so Saturday it was.  There were some nice things which took our eye, and here is a selection.  Above and below: I loved the patterns on these.  Probably French.

An attractive fan-back stool . . .

There was a lovely display on this stall.  I like interesting things.

What a beautiful Log Cabin quilt.  Many many hours of sewing and a lovely stall generally.

Keith loved this Gothic chair.

Stall belonging to a friend of ours who always has choice pieces of furniture, some of it quite early and desirable.

On his stall, this lovely little primitive Irish child's chair.

And another, not Irish (think it was Welsh actually.)

I was smitten by this Arts and Crafts jardinière, but not tempted to part with my cash . . .

On the same stall, a nice piece of Studio pottery with a Bumble Bee.

Above and below: a glass stall with a fabulous array of glass.  The items below were all Alum Bay glass.  LOOK at that gorgeous table lamp.  I didn't dare look at the price, but I remember it from last time so it won't be cheap . . .

A lovely old ark, like the one Keith is making for me (will he ever finish it, one asks . . .)

Above and below: two rocking horses, the top one "pony skin" (probably goat) and the bottom one, ahem, reupholstered!!!

A selection of lovely Welsh wool blankets and quilts on offer in one of the sheds.

A lovely hand-quilted Welsh quilt.

Finally - Game of Thrones anyone?!!!