Sunday 30 June 2013

Still here . . .

Well, it would appear no side bar changes, so I am confused. It would appear I have the wrong end of the stick and it's my followers who have disappeared (and everyone else's).   This is what comes of not having enough sleep . . .  HERE is someone else mentioning it (and a nice blog too).  And HERE - check those cakes out too, although I realize I am shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted . . .

Anyway, after yesterday's miserable grey day (and foggy start), we have woken up to bright sunshine today. I need to crack on with finishing the outside painting on the porch and the stable door into the Back Place, then it's up to the attic again.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon we had a huge sort out in the Junk Room and the enormously heavy solid elm grain bin has been manhandled by my menfolk out to the barn, whilst my husband decides whether to sell it or to turn it into a coffer . . . probably the latter as who wants a grain bin?  My bookcase has taken its place against the chimney wall, and we have restacked the car boot stuff so we can reach it easily.

Meanwhile, Mr Fox has been doing his rounds.  He is as bold as brass and doesn't seem too bothered by me being out in the garden when he is.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Google are messing about . . .

There's an old saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it . . .  Google would do well to remember this.  As from tomorrow, I believe that the side bar with all my favourite blog links, and yours with THIS blog on it, are being decommissioned by Google.  I have saved all my favourites (and some more besides) on my hard drive here, and there is also Bloglovin' which will set up an email feed of your favourites too.

I should hate to lose any of my loyal followers and don't intend not to be able to follow my favourite blogs, so I've done a belt and braces.

There is probably a lot more to this, but this is the gist I have got over the past week, visiting other folks' blogs.

Friday 28 June 2013

A day out . . .

Canalside houses at Brecon with their beautiful display of flowers.  (Photo taken 2007!)

Yesterday we had a day out.  It was initially a trip to Brecon to collect some more clay paint from Ty Mawr, to finish off in the attic.  If you look at the map, you will see that Brecon isn't that far from, in fact, is on the way to . . . Hay-on-Wye.  Well, naturally we decided to have a day out on the back of the necessary journey, and although the weather has been better (it was rather dull and damp, but cleared a little before rain set in heavily on the way home).

We know the route off by heart of course - and I'm sure if you turned the car loose it would make its way to Hay!  It was lovely to see the familiar countryside unfolding before us, although the mountains were under a curtain of wet cloud down to their waists.

We stopped at our usual junky antique shop and I bought 4 read-once magazines for 50p each (Country Living/Homes & Antiques) and my OH got a few little keys in the hope that one would be right for a cupboard he has.  We were last there less than a month ago, so stock hadn't changed much.

The wild flowers - those that hadn't been hacked down by the Council in their bid to make the countryside TIDY (great angry-ness here over such mowing policies) were stunning.  Ragged Robin is such a dainty flower, though it needs to be seen in big swathes to really impress.  Along the side of the A470 heading towards Bronllys, there were masses of tall pale pink Orchids.  As I was driving at the time, I didn't get a chance of a proper ID, so I shall have to turn to my books later.  Valerian is so common round here it is almost a weed, but WHAT a weed when it is spilling over walls or massing as a backdrop in a cottage garden.

Anyway, we started the afternoon with a bacon butty at the Backfold cafe - which is always part of our ritual! - and then on through the bookshops.  I stayed my hand, although my OH did buy me a cheap biography  - The Queen of Whale Cay - which looks a change from my usual literary biographies!  Then I succombed and bought a bound book of Riding magazines from 1938/1939 which I had been thumbing through for the last year, thinking it was all the money and I really shouldn't buy it, but I just love all the old photos and articles and the letters pages with photos of Trixie, Honey, Gollywog etc and their loving owners.  Oh gosh, I can remember when the "proper" leg position was so that you could just see your toe in front of your kneecap . . . and forward-cut saddles were a new-fangled invention!

Do you remember me throwing out all the plastic from my kitchen?  Well, yesterday two plastic jugs were chucked out and finally replaced by a lovely green and white huge ceramic mixing/pouring jug which I saw in the window of the ironmongers in Hay.  I hope it doesn't get broken or I shall be very upset!

The road home . . .

Thursday 27 June 2013

Just what I wanted!

For some while now I have been looking for an extra bookcase.  In my daydreams, I saw a practical storage unit which had plenty of room for books on the bottom, and craft things/material neatly put in the shallower top shelves.  In my crafting magazines, dedicated crafters all had one - though usually the sort you bought as a flat-pack and built in situ.

I went to auction yesterday, ostensibly to bid on two other lots, but I had spotted, in the dim recesses of the sale room, JUST the bookcase I wanted.  It was solid mahogany, and had an auction estimate within our means.  Anyway, off I went to auction, but didn't get the earlier lots I was interested in.  Only one other blardy bidder at the end too, and he had more moolah than me.  But I did leave a sensible bid on the bookcase.  And I got it.  BUT then I discovered that they didn't deliver, and since the bookcase was about 6 feet square, there was no way I was going to fit it in the back of the car. . .  My husband was Not Amused, as you can imagine.  I tried to have a conversation with a neighbour to see if he could help me out, but his mobile was in a poor reception area, and I was left not knowing whether he could fetch it or not.  Out of desperation, I tried a Man and a Van link on the internet, and had quotes from £29 to £50 to fetch it the 10 miles . . .  Anyway, the neighbour turned up after all and fetched it today, and I am delighted.  HE thought I was barking mad, (he would buy new from a shop) but hey-ho, horses for courses!

It will have to live in the hall for the moment, as it's too heavy to take upstairs and my sewing room has a sort of hobbit-hole entrance (only square) which allows nothing bigger than a carefully-managed bed through.  I hate to tell my husband that perhaps he could bring all my craft books DOWNSTAIRS again now . . .  In the pic, the books are only there temporarily, being ones my OH sorted out today to rehome, and the few bits of material were to show him what I meant about storing material in the top bits . . .

Meanwhile, it has been raining all afternoon.  As I came back from dropping our son at the bus stop, I saw quite a few fields had been cut for haylage and just needed a few more hours to get it baled in perfect condition.  However, the rain came in early.  One farmer was desperately baling as his tractor driver went a row ahead of him fluffing up the windrows with the tedder.  It was a smallish field, so I hope they got it all baled in time.  It isn't often you see small bales being made these days, but here in Wales some of the fields are pretty small and the old die-hards stick with tradition.

Our boy-cats have returned from their nights-out on the tiles.  Little Whale returned absolutely sopping at tea-time and then went and laid on the sofa to dry out.  I have just heard growls and yowls in the top hall as he and his brother Alfie (aka Wild Thing) play-fight.  Well, perhaps not so much play at times as it soon descends into a free-for-all.  Then they calm down, and one will lick the other, until all of a sudden one has the other by the throat and it's no holds barred again!  They do make me laugh.

Wednesday 26 June 2013


Above: the view across from the Harbour wall at New Quay, Ceredigion.

A great wailing and gnashing of teefs here - I have just had a phone call from my Doctor to say that my sputum tests have come back positive and I have another chest infection.  This is what I suspected last week when I went, and was told I sounded OK and to wait until I got the test results before I took the antibiotics.  In the meantime, I have had a short course of steroids as my breathing wasn't good and it seemed like pollen might be the culprit, and then seen the Respiratory nurse who given me an add-on inhaler, but also usefully changed my anti-histamines to a long-lasting one which worked first time.

No wonder my breathing was bad in the night and a walk near the sea at Llansteffan yesterday did nothing for my breathing.  At least I know now.

The painting continues and I can't stop just because I'm a bit huffing and puffing.  Back to the sitting room then . . .

Tuesday 25 June 2013


Well, the builders laid down their paint brushes yesterday, got their brooms busy and packed up and left.  We still have the scaffolding up, but that will hopefully soon be dismantled.  The house is looking gorgeous - a soft custardy yellow limewash and Heritage grey-green paintwork.  We miss our bright cheerful seasidey blue, which brightened the house up on a grey winter's day, but have to admit it's not to everyone's taste.

Now we are busy cleaning windows inside and out, and redecorating the sitting room, main bathroom, and sundry other bits which were looking tatty.  There is an amazing amount of tidying up to be done too, but we will get there.

Meanwhile my health suffered yet another set-back last week, when the pollen went into overdrive (mainly Dock in the paddock I suspect, along with the usual grassy suspects).  An afternoon spent painting the bay windows in undercoat had me feeling like I was suffocating, and I had to take extra anti-histamines to cope, and then it was back down the Doc's and back on another short course of steroids.  Even those didn't fully work, so I have had to see the Respiratory nurse again and now have a temporary add-on steroid inhaler and a change of anti-histamines (which I hope will do the trick).  First course of those this morning and my breathing feels good, so fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, cheered up by the fact that the end was in sight with the builders, I spent yesterday wielding a paintbrush and a vacuum cleaner in the sitting room.  Unfortunately, the paint we had mixed appears to have been mixed a shade lighter than we wanted, but it's too late to do anything about it now, so it's just being sloshed on anyway, although my OH is not amused, his nose already being out of joint because of the change from blue to green on the outside paintwork.  I hardly dare say I am planning to remove 4 slightly shabby old pictures from the hall wall, so I will have to be very tactful about those (having been turned down when I suggested this before . . . sometimes LESS is . . . MORE).

I have also set up a dedicated sewing room in the attic, in the room which is now a sort of spare bedroom (in that it has a bed in it . . .) but used to be the play/sleepover room, and is nice and roomy and light from two velux windows.  I have moved all my books up there too and look forward to being able to settle down and work in peace soon.

I desperately want to get out into the garden, but have to hold fire until the pollen subsides as there is no point in laying myself up again because of it.  A shame my OH isn't a gardener . . .

Friday 21 June 2013

Coleridge and Nether Stowey

Note:  Header photo is a view across the Towy Valley from Dryslwyn Castle.

From the grey rocks of Kilve beach, we made our way to Nether Stowey nearby, as we wanted to visit the cottage where poet Coleridge lived.  Last time we were there it was closed.  This day I made sure we visited when it was open.

Coleridge is someone I know a very little about, although the last time we were in Hay-on-Wye I bought a couple of biographies of him, which I will eventually read.  The cottage is under the control of the National Trust now, and they have done a wonderful job of making it feel very homely, and I just loved the extracts painted across the walls.  I think this was the front parlour - the first room you entered anyway.

My husband has a passion for old Windsor chairs and he fell in love with this one.

This looks so down to earth.

I took a photo of the baby's crib because of the beautiful paisley quilt, which had been embroidered around the paisley pattern - a lovely idea which I may copy.  This looks SUCH early paisley too.  Note the little mouse - I think they had a problem with the mice in the cottage - they appear all round the house!

Their bedroom, with a bonnet and gown you could put on.

T trying her hand with a quill.  I was useless . . .

Me in the kitchen (where you were encouraged to dress up).  I call it my Mrs Tiggywinkle look . . .  You have to say, I am the right SHAPE for a cook . . .

Sorry about the flash, but this was S T Coleridge in his heyday.  I think he was probably a pain in the backside to live with, well, I KNOW he was from the little I have read about him.  My friend Ann has loaned me a book about him, "Bondage of Opium" which just about summed him up.  He was a lousy husband too . . .  HERE is the Wikipedia item about him.  My poor brain had less than 4 hours' sleep again last night (yet another course of Steroids because Asthma badly affected by very high pollen count - it's like pea soup in our garden!) so this is far more erudite than I can manage.  HERE is a more personal account from Margaret Keeping's wonderful Edward Thomas blog, detailing how Coleridge treated his wife (e.g. NOT well!)  He made ET look a positive saint in that department . . .

Wednesday 19 June 2013

A Day out in Somerset

Not the best photo of the Quantocks perhaps - but it was a winding valley bottom road and I had to just try and get a pic out of the car window . . .

Whilst our eldest daughter T was here with us, we decided to have a One Day Holiday, and go and check out the Quantocks, an area of Somerset we don't know very well, but is under consideration for relocating to.  Unfortunately, on the day my husband wasn't feeling very well, and I was still recovering from the Pleurisy and an early start helped neither of us!

We stopped at Taunton to check out the town, never having been there, and to sign on with some estate agents, who promptly gave us a sheaf of property details, of which only two were remotely of interest. ("This is a lovely bungalow . . ." - we don't "do" bungalows! - and we were thinking, well, you might think it's lovely but we couldn't possibly comment . . .)  We decided to do a drive by of the two cottages we DID like, and followed directions, leaving Taunton and heading what WE assumed was North, but they meant a different small side road and not the A358 and so we missed them entirely.  I thought perhaps we could see them on the way back, and my OH agreed . . .

So we carried on driving along the A358 towards Watchet, and I saw a sign for West Bagborough, where Edward Thomas found spring (in his book "In Pursuit of Spring".)  I said, "Oh look, West Bagborough - that's where Edward Thomas went," and my husband drove on by . . .  I kept quiet.

We decided to have lunch near Kilve/East Quantoxhead, so we could look across at Wales.  (Edward Thomas got to Kilve too . . .)

As you can see, not a SANDY beach!  The land you can see beyond is Minehead.

But an interesting beach, with its layers and tilts.

Just to prove there is nothing new under the sun, this is the remains of a failed business enterprise to extract oil from shale . . .

Sorry, I missed a bit off the bottom of the board.

The chantry is right next door to - and once served -  the Manor house (now a farmhouse serving cream teas).  We stopped for a cup of tea, but all the photos we took were on my daughter's camera, for some reason.  An interesting place, and nice to think that ET had been here too!

Then we drove on to Nether Stowey, famous for being the village where Coleridge lived for some years . . .

The Cooty quilt - and friends

Well, I DID say it was past hope . . .  Absolutely rotten at the sides and nothing much savable at all except I shall try and use part of the quilting patterns on something.

Bits of infill quilting on the previously-purple material.

One of the Elder leaf patterns - as you can see, some of the stitches have already disappeared.

You can just about see a large 4-petalled motif.  I think it is closely related to the four-leaf motif in the bottom quilt piece.

OK - this is shabby and has seen better days with its patches of wear, but I love the scalloped border (even the puce flounce!) and it has beautiful quilting and patterns.  The flounce borders generally date from the 1920s and 30s, and I think this may well have been a wedding quilt from that date.

The central motif in slightly more focus.  Note the hearts in the corners of the central block.

Part of the edge quilting, as shown from the reverse of the quilt (which is actually a slightly bronzey colour, but different in the shade).

Detail of how the corner was worked, and you can just see the heart and scrolls and flowers in the central square block.

This is a detail from half an old quilt which was wrapped around a piece of furniture we bought from auction. The filling on it is lambs wool and its lovely and light.

Detail of one of the joined-leaves quilting motif and showing the basic cable border.

The central medallion - you can just make out the design and surround.  As you can see, it had a lot of wear over the years . . .

I will try and photograph the red Paisley quilt tomorrow, but I don't think that the quilting pattern will show up very well.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Kaffe Fasset (and friends) Quilts

This was made by one of his friends.  I just loved the way she had used the colours - it just glowed.

I loved the log cabin effect on this one.

This was called Seahorses, if I remember correctly.

This had an interesting combination of colours, but I have to say, the Welsh quilts called me louder . . .

I think this is another one I forgot to turn.  I am envious of the curved seams on some of the blocks.  (The darker border inside of the lime greens one.)

A bright quilt for a winter's day, though I'm not usually keen on orange.

A close up of one of the blocks from the quilt above it.

This one is even better for cheering up a winter's day.  I don't think I could be as bold as Kaffe Fassett with the colours.

They were all very beautiful, and very colourful, very skilfully designed and my daughter loved them.  If I could take one home, it would be this zig-zag one above.

BTW, the cooty Welsh quilt had its soak last night.  The colours - beneath the dirt I could see it was a dark red material matched with a purple - didn't run, but oh my GOODNESS, the water was like black tea within seconds . . .  Anyway, I soaked it overnight and dried it on the line today.  The blanket in the middle had just rotted completely and some of the top too, but the back shows enough of a pattern for me to photograph tomorrow.  I made out a central medallion with Elder (?) leaves, and fan type pattern, and elsewhere more leaves and various geometric infills.  The stitching has disappeared in places, along with strips of the material on the front!

Monday 17 June 2013

Gorgeous Welsh quilts from Welsh Quilt Centre exhibition

Recently my eldest daughter and I went to the Welsh Quilt Centre at Lampeter to see the exhibition of wonderful Welsh quilts and many by Kaffe Fassett.  All I can say is, it rekindled my passion for patchwork and quilting, but especially hand-quilted wholecloth quilts.  The close-up of part of the design above made me want to reach for needle and material then and there!

This beautiful yellow quilt with its scalloped edge shows the typical Welsh layout of a large central motif, and scallops interspersed with coils and geometric echoes.  Gorgeous.

And another with similar echo motifs.

The leaf pattern is on a part of an old lambswool-lined cream quilt I have.  I love the infill.

Rats!  You will have to turn your head sideways for this one.

Close up of the ivy leaf border and horse-chestnut leaf and scroll corner panel.

Another leaf close-up for you.

The whole quilt, and sorry for not turning the pic round!

I think this was made by the same quilter.

Gorgeous in scarlet . . .  

Lastly another sideways quilt, with a darker border, and totally different and unique quilting patterns.

If you are near Lampeter, DO visit the Exhibition.  HERE is the link.  I will do a post about the Kaffe Fassett quilts tomorrow.