Saturday 30 September 2017

Resting up with my sewing and a Moth Caterpillar query for Ragged Robin

I have to sit quietly and let my arm heal at the moment, so I have been busy crafting.  This afternoon I put the next strips around the final three blocks which I am putting together at my patchwork class on a Wednesday.  The design is Pineapple Log Cabin, although you would find that hard to work out right now.  It will be a lap quilt, and those gorgeous little stitching ladies in the middle were a birthday present last year from Dawn McHugh, who has a great blog which catalogues life on her Welsh smallholding, where she is NEVER idle for a minute!

Above, I sewed these hexi's yesterday morning whilst catching up on the new Series 3 of Outlander.  BLISS!!  They are destined to finish off an unfinished 1970s patchwork quilt top I bought last year.  Then I cast my eye over it again and realized these should all have velvet centres . . .  That's tomorrow's job then - busy with the stitchripper and some fresh velvet centres.

I do have one of these (a quilting ruler), somewhere in the house, but damned if I could find it when I needed it this week, so I had to buy this one.  Imperial measure as I'm a feet 'n' inches gal.  It came in the most ginormous box, which we will use for apples (which we have in abundance, as always).

Dawn wrote about my taking up lace making on her blog (she gave me my first lesson recently and got me started).  Her mother-in-law read her blog and kindly brought over a starter-kit for me when she came to stay with Dawn and family this week.  I am VERY grateful.  The round item is the lace pillow, and the blue material (thanks Dawn) is to cover it with - blue is the traditional colour.  I have now (naturally) lost the stapler, which lived in the bottom of my food cupboard for at least 10 years, but is now MISSING . . .

This pretty bag is a special cover for the lace pillow, to keep it clean and everything in one place.

A dozen pairs of lace bobbins with pretty dangles, to help me get started.  I have about 13 pairs which I have collected in recent years, so am well on the way now.

It is Torchon lace I am starting on, and Dawn's m-in-law kindly photocopied a few basic designs for me to work through, and the blue card is the pricking for this first pattern.

I am close to the end of my first piece of lace now - not without its faults! - but when it is finished I will show, and also the start of my next lesson.

Finally, I have blown the dust off this quilt which I began for Elder Daughter two years ago, but it got sidelined as some of the blocks weren't an accurate size and I got frustrated with it.  Now I WILL get it right and finish it, along with Middle Daughter's quilt . . .

Now, this won't do.  Half past 6 already - where has the day gone?!

OK RR, this one is just for you.

They started off pretending to be Cabbage White caterpillars (only on the roses).  They have a habit of sticking one end up in the air (tail end I presume).  They are happy munching my rose leaves.  Now they are fairly hefty - too big for butterflies.  Any suggestions?

Friday 29 September 2017

Berkeley Castle Part 1

Apologies for the delay but I have been resting my arm all day and have just come upstairs to answer emails etc.  Having been really good all day, I just stupidly forgot I had tiny stitches inside and reached to pick up a cushion from the floor.  Ouch! 

BERKELEY CASTLE IS UNIQUE, says the booklet we bought there.  Unique in that is has been lived in by the same family for the best part of 900 years, and that is far longer than any other castle in England.

Eadnoth, a noble at the court of Edward the Confessor in the 1050s, was the earliest known ancestor of the family who were given Berkeley and he found favour with William the Conquerer and indeed, died fighting for him in 1068.  His descendents did well for themselves as merchants in the Bristol area, and during the civil wars between King Stephen and Empress Matilda (1139 - 1153), Robert Fitzharding (a younger grandsom of Eadnoth) supported Matilda's son Henry (especially financially) and was rewarded with Berkeley Castle and its estates in 1153.  The castle at that time was a simple wooden motte and bailey castle, but Robert wasted no time in recreating it in stone and built the Keep youcan see today, which originally had five circular towers.  Work finished about 1179 with the outer defences complete in 1189.

This photo was the room where King Edward II was held prisoner by command of the Queen Isabelle's lover, Roger Mortimer.  Mortimer's daughter was the wife of Thomas Berkeley, so you can see why Berkeley Castle was chosen as King Edward's place of confinement (and eventual murder).  However, during his encarceration the King had a comfortable apartment in what was a former guardroom, awith four personal servants, including a cook, and was treated like a guest - until he was killed!  Thomas Berkeley made sure that he was "away" at that time . . . (September 1327).  Rumour has it that a red hot poker was used to kill the King, but according to the booklet we bought at the castle, it is more likely that he was smothered.

This room is one of the first you see after going up the steep and deliberately uneven in height steps into the castle, designed to trip up fast approaching knights in full armour and bring them to their knees and a target for the murder hole or arrows from above. 

A slightly blurry picture of the wonderful cypress wood chest in the King's Gallery, which may have belonged to Sir Francis Drake, who stayed at the castle in the 16th C.

The Tower Room was designed as a secure stronghold where the women, children and valuables would have been put should the castle have been under attack.

To my mind the best painting by far in the Picture Gallery was this one by Stubbs, titled "Groom and Horses".  The grey is just stunning and I love the sour expression of the bay!

There were beautiful Harvest Festival displays in both the fireplaces.

An absolutely stunning inlaid table, with the top under glass to keep it away from curious fingers.

This was formerly the Billiard Room, but is now styled as the Dining Room, with a wonderful display of Tudor costumes - Henry VIII and his six wives - which were used in the production of Wolf Hall and made by Tudor Dreams Historical Costumier.  The black dress is that of Katherine of Aragon.

Ann Boleyn.

"Himself's" - with quite a modest cod-piece I thought . . .

More tomorrow.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Butterflies and Part 1 Berkeley Castle

I will add some words to this tomorrow - too tired tonight, and in the middle of baking a cake so I had best go back down to that (AND the washing up!)

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Tomorrow's new post will be Berkeley Castle

Today after going to Wotton briefly, and having lunch there, we drove on to nearby Berkeley Castle.  Keith has been wanting to visit it for several years now, but normally when we go to the auction, although we are in the area, we are away too late in the afternoon to go.  We went into the Butterfly House first, and there were lots of different types, including this huge one called The Owl.  Lots of these.  They seemed to be concentrating on eating the fruit at the feeding station, but literally I walked through the curtain and this one made a beeline for me and landed on my hand.  He stayed quite a while too.  More photos tomorrow, along with the first of the castle ones.

Monday 25 September 2017

Unremarkable photos of a rainy walk on the beach

Yesterday I picked Danny up so we could get some fresh air down at the beach - our nearest one is Llansteffan, about 8 miles from Carmarthen.  It came on to rain on the way, so not much in the way of views were to be had!  This is Ferryside in the distance.

Looking out to sea, or rather where the estuary pours into Carmarthen Bay.  I don't know where the treestump came from, but it had fetched up on the shore and someone had "planted" it . . . 

In with the last tide, a dead Sea Potato.  Normally they turn up as just the fragile "skeleton" - e.g. a white "shell" which is very brittle.  This one had just snuffed it and hadn't lost the covering of hairs.

Around the point, a few other hardy souls (there were plenty of dog-walkers about) were ahead of us.

It looked desolate, out towards the Cockle Beds, scenes of Cockle Wars in the past.  All the time we were on the beach we were aware of the sound of waves in the distance, the low roar sounding like an approaching tidal wave hidden by the mist.  A bit spooky even though we knew what it was.

More folk once we rounded the point and began to walk along by the rock pools at the bottom of the cliffs.

The second headland.  Had it been clearer, and we were sure of whether the tide was coming in or going out, we might have walked around it, but since we didn't know, and because you couldn't have seen across to Laugharne anyway, we turned back once we got to Scotts' Bay.

The retreating tide had left curious patterns on the sand.

Scotts House apparently belonged to a distant relative of THE Captain Scott, hence the name.  Here's a link to information about Llansteffan beach.  It would appear that the dog-walkers were a little premature . . .

As we walked back to the car park, Ferryside began to appear out of the mist as it stopped raining.  We decided ice-creams were in order - you can't go to the beach without an ice-cream.

Today Danny and I went to the cinema to see Dunkirk, whilst it was in its final week of showing in Carmarthen.  We enjoyed it but unfortunately in the last ten minutes, I blew my nose and got a stonker of a nose bleed and had to head for the toilets to get handfuls of toilet paper to staunch the flow, as my hankies were soon rendered useless.  I have been blowing my nose probably 25 + times a day these past few weeks, following a sinus type cold.  I had a bit of a nosebleed at the weekend but this one really went to town.  I did get the final few minutes of the film, but then as we walked back to the car, had to send Danny in search of a big pack of tissues as I was fast running out.  Many thanks to the lady who kindly saw my predicament and passed me the two clean ones she had in her handbag.  Danny saw me sat safely in the car and then went off to get me a drink and "something sweet" as that's what they did after you'd given blood!  Two white chocolate chip cookies went down very well.  So, the tables were turned - after a few days of looking after Danny, today it was his turn to look after me!  Good lad.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Some mountain scenery - and some more . . .

In order now.  These first photos show the scenery along the lane from Myddfai towards Llandeusant.  The photo above shows the view across to the Western edge of the Carmarthen Fans.

Some random photos taken on a little drive out today after we had been to the Unit to change stuff around.  These are now rearranged more or less in order and the photo above was the final photo as we headed home.  These were taken near Llandeusant and looking towards "our" Black Mountain, the last one in the Brecon Beacon range (Carmarthen Fans).  The photo above shows the neighbouring hills in the distance.  Keith was glad we were heading towards home at this point!

These two taken of the Carmarthen Fans with cloud topping!

[Back tomorrow, doubtless bleary-eyed as it's the bi-ennial car rally going past our house tonight (zig-zag bends, so lots of throttling down and vrrrrrm-vrrrrrrm noises between 1.30 and 4.30 a.m. )  The cats have been barricaded in the kitchen, needless to say . . .]

It was a hard job to wake up this morning. We swiftly abandoned all ideas of visiting the car boot sale as we were both SO tired.  The cars were late coming through - 3.15 a.m. was the first one, and the very very last at 7.15 a.m., going slowly and probably looking for car-shaped holes in hedges . . .  They were SO noisy.  I'm glad it's only every couple of years.

Anyway, I got the ironing up to date whilst listening to the Archers omnibus (poor Roy) and then put up the winter kitchen curtains and got the summer ones in the wash.

Then I spoke to Danny and went into town and picked him up and we did a quick shop in Tescopolis and then went down for a beach walk at Llansteffan.  It came on to rain as we were nearing the beach, so we just decided we would get wet.  Actually, once on the beach it didn't really seem like it was raining much but we got a bit soggy all the same.   I have taken some misty photos which I will share with you tomorrow.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the mountain photos.  The best ones are when you are up at Llyn-y-Fan-Fach itself, but not the weather for that at the moment.

Oh, and the cats keeping safe overnight?  Well, when I pulled my office curtains back this morning I was puzzled to see Alfie sat outside, waiting for his breakfast.  When I reached the kitchen, it was completely EMPTY.  They had managed to get behind my barricade (which included a hefty SHIELD!) and escape.  Both cat flats had been blocked, but they just shouldered their way behind.  Why do I bother?!