Monday 31 December 2018

Happy New Year and more castle photos

I am sure you will find your way through the castle photos - odd shots from odd angles, and not as sharp as they should be as only at the end did I finally realize they were blurry because I had the camera on a food photos setting . . .  Sometimes I think I am losing the plot.

I wish you all the best for 2019 and let's hope it is an improvement on some of the parts of 2018 - especially the not in the best of health bits which seemed to feature far too heavily here. The Chinese New Year gave us (both Dragons) 1/10 for health and boy, it wasn't too far adrift at times!  I'm not even going to LOOK at what predictions the Chinese New Year will give us in 2019, just take it as it comes.

K and I are both tired as we had long day at our local Fleamarket yesterday (thankfully it was mild and so we weren't standing shivering inside as normally happens, when there is a sudden cold snap the day or two before we are scheduled to be there. We had a good Fair too, which made up for all the bad ones there this past year.  On Saturday and today we have been across to our Unit, as it hasn't been a success for us there, despite it being a nice place and lovely folk running it.  One more trip should see the Unit emptied and the house even fuller than ever, although we did give all the 2nd hand books we had there to the other folk who run it.  I couldn't face having boxes of surplus unwanted books back in the house, and we are gradually working our way through the bookshelves and getting rid of the surplus we don't want to be taking with us when we finally sell (though that seems as remote a possibility as ever).  

Let us hope that an evening's relaxation and a good night's sleep give us some energy again.

Happy New Year all.

There are four HUGE Bronze Age Cairns along the ridge (this is the edge of the Black Mountain) - here are two of them.

A Jacobs Sheep.

Thursday 27 December 2018

A breath of fresh air - Carreg Cennen Castle, and an UPDATE

Tam and I had a lovely walk today, up to Carreg Cennen Castle.  We are so fortunate to have several on our doorstep - this is part of a chain of command which ended at Carmarthen Castle (via Dinefwr and Dryslwn Castles along the Towy Valley).

Just a few photos and even fewer words tonight as Tam and I are about to catch up on Outlander. More to follow in the morning. 

Sorry - I've not had a chance to get back to this today as I've been working on my accounts - a whole FOUR MONTHS didn't save when I put them in and then it kept crashing today when I was inputting - it's had me tearing my hair out.  I thought just one figure needed totting up as that hadn't registered on there, but instead a whole day's work.  I also had a letter from the Hospital for a rather unpleasant-sounding Gynae examination next week, so I am NOT looking forward to that at all.  Oh, and just to put the icing on the cake, we finally traced the smell of (cat pooing in a corner somewhere) to the attic, and found that a quilt on 2 duvets covering the base of a sleigh bed had been used as a loo - obviously the stress of having Sam-cat outside.  More on this another day, but I have been in touch with a charity to take him in the New Year.  We were hoping things would have settled down, now he's neutered, but no . . .  So, all in all, I have had better days.

Back to normal

Well, back into my routine today, now that Christmas is done and dusted.  All our three grown-up children were here, and we had a lovely time. We ate  a large roasted leg of lamb, something we enjoy but is normally prohibitively expensive (hah, just like chicken used to be, back in my childhood, when we only had it at Easter and Christmas).  We all did our specialities to go with it, and it's lovely having the offspring to share the load.  We ate a little too much, drank more than usual, but have walked some of it off both days, up the steep hill behind the house.   The other two have gone home as of yesterday, but Tam's still here and we are  about to go out again now to get a newspaper, some fresh eggs (used a pile in the Christmas cooking) and to wander round Llandeilo (most will be shut) and perhaps a walk to a castle or two.  I'll put some photos up later.

Sunday 23 December 2018

A couple more "Finished" photos

This year's wreath - Ivy, as always, but combined with some russet beach leaves and two sprigs of Hazel catkins.

I finally finished Gabby's Pinwheel quilt yesterday teatime.  I hardly know what to do with myself now I've got both quilts finished.  I'll get back to my Random quilt in the New Year.

I probably won't get much opportunity to post tomorrow, so wishing all my friends and followers a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2019.

Friday 21 December 2018

Getting in the mood for Christmas

Top and bottom - Christmas lights add atmosphere on dark winter days.  Solstice Greetings to you on on this, the shortest day of the year. We won't notice it at first, but the gradual lengthening of the days will definitely be obvious in a month's time.

We went out for a walk yesterday (the first since we've been poorly) and both really enjoyed it AND I managed our steep hill without too many problems.  We delivered cards to neighbours (all out) and were glad to get some fresh air.  Onwards and upwards now I hope.

Tam is back for Christmas now, and we shall make the wreath, and perhaps one for indoors too to celebrate the Solstice.  No baking done yet, but this weekend should see that happening.

Above and below: the first lambs of a VERY early season - these will be gurt big things by the time Easter comes round.  I think these are poll Dorset sheep - I think I recall that these can lamb twice a year.

Down by the river - water was cascading down here a couple of days ago.

The river's busy, but not particularly high.  You wouldn't want to fall in though . . .

Alder catkins unfurling.  Alongside the A40 going into town, the Hazel catkins are fully out and powdery yellow.

Playing with the settings on my camera to get some colour into the landscape.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Country Housewife

This is one of the (many) cookery/social history books I have.  I thought I would blow the dust off it and dip into it again, in an idle moment this week.  Do you have this one Elaine?

I grew up in Hampshire, and have to say Lardy Cake was what I remember from my childhood (I wouldn't dare eat it now though!)  I always thought Doughnuts were everywhere - always the very sugary boughten sort, rather than home-made.  I think the Lardy Cake must have been made in a bakers somewhere though, as it wasn't wrapped or anything.  Do the cakes etc ring true for the county you grew up in?  The crusty Cottage Loaves we bought must also have been from a local baker's - the nearest thing I have come to them is the ones Sainsburys used to do which had deliberately burnt tops - oh golly gosh, they were SO tasty, and so reminiscent of the 1950s and early 60s.  I can still remember when the shop at the top of the hill turned into a little mini supermarket where you took a wire basket round with you. SO modern for a little road on the edge of the town!

Here is just one page from the Country Housewife book (which is a collection of all sorts of snippets and recipes.  This made me smile - "It must boil fast and uncovered, and be stirred constantly, for eight hours"!!!  WHAT?  Ye gods, labour was cheap in those days then. . .  I also liked, "take off the cake of fat,  which will make crusts for servants' pies".

There was a lovely piece under the heading of Hedgerow Provisions:

Hedgerow foods added variety to cottage food, and John Clare paints a vivid picture of

- dames in faded clock of red or grey
Loiter along the morning's dripping way
In wicker basket on their withered arms
Searching the hedges of home close or farms

In the following case the berries are elderberries:

Here the industrious huswives wend their way
Pulling the brittle branches carefull down
And hawking loads of berrys to the town
Wi unpretending skill yet half divine
To press and make their eldernberry wine
That bottl'd becomes a rousing charm
To kindle winter's icy bosom warm.

                                      'The Shepherd's Calendar'

It also talks of badger hams, how hedgehog was supposed to taste like chicken, Rook pie etc.

Anyway, things are slowly coming together here and tomorrow I should finish Gabby's quilt (I just have the binding to do), having finished Tam's last week, and also finished painting our bedroom (bar one little bit of skirting board).  That's 3 things FINISHED - amazing!  I am looking forward to making things for ME now (the Random Quilt and then the William Morris one which I will try to make perfect, as an heirloom.)


Pattypan and Jackie - sorry I've just deleted your comments by mistake - apologies.Can you please post them again and I will make sure they get posted this time!!

Monday 17 December 2018

Another job finished - finally

Lots of things to be tidied up/put away/dusted and I need to paint a short length of skirting board and the back of the door, but at least That Corner of our bedroom is finally no longer crushed raspberry!  There are stacks of Keith's clothes to go through and I am hoping to get rid of a few of the things he will never wear again.  The same can be said for the contents of MY wardrobe come to that! He also has a heap of "useful" holdalls and sheets of plastic, which somehow made it into the big drawers at the bottom of his wardrobe.  Neither piece of furniture will be going with us when we move - in fact, his Art Nouveau wardrobe was only bought originally to break up for the timber, because it is solid oak and Art Nouveau wardrobes weren't really in fashion that much then (probably well over 30 years ago) but hopefully a little more desirable now.  

We had the devil's own job trying to lift the tops back on (it splits into four pieces, only one of which, the central panel, is easy to handle.  We are still struggling to get the top bit that holds it all in place properly aligned.)  Keith also had quite a job effecting a repair on the base, where the corner has loosened, and there was a terrific smell of scorched wood when he was drilling it for dowels.  He made sure he used a quantity of his runny wood glue to "put any potential fire out"!!!

It has been a busy day, as there are so many jobs to catch up on which were sidelined when I was feeling much worse than I am now, including making up spare bed for G and D to sleep in at Christmas and scrubbing the sink and teak draining boards.  Yes, I should rest completely until I have shaken this virus off, but that's not really an option with Christmas in the offing.  I was hoping to get back to walking again, but no chance - though I have clocked up just short of 7000 steps around the house today.

Anyway, this afternoon I have been starting to do the tie fastenings on Gabby's quilt (using wool) but it's not a job you can sit down at as you need to try and get the layers of fabric as flat and taut as possible.  I watched a couple of River Cottage Autumn programmes (always a delight) and then sat down and rested whilst an Escape to the Country was on.  Then I bunged in some free range organic chicken portions in the oven for tea, and made a garlicky curry sauce for mine to try and fight this bug.  Needless to say Keith didn't have that!

Tomorrow - back to Gabby's quilt and I hope to get it completely finished by Christmas for her.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Seeing friends

I had set the alarm for the car boot sale this morning, but woke at 4.30 a.m. for the loo and that was it for the night.  I got up half an hour later, having decided to go down and bake a couple of cakes - these are they: Dorset Apple Cakes, one for us and one to take as a gift for the friends we were visiting later on this morning.

Fortunately the storm last night died down before we went to bed, and although there was ice on the car windscreen, the ground underfoot was just wet, so we set off for the car boot sale.  It was pretty quiet, so close to Christmas (and so darn cold inside the building, which is the very same one we shall be standing (shivering!) in when we do the post-Christmas Fleamarket there.  I bought just two pieces of glass at the car boot sale - one small Victorian blue pearline basket vase and one large modern Murano type bowl.  We saw various friends and wished them a Merry Christmas.

Below: one of half a dozen Oystercatchers - spread out just enough to make a group photo difficult unless they were just specks in the distance!

We had arranged to see friends down at Ferryside, but came home first as we were away from the boot sale by 8.15 (only stayed 15 mins or so!)  I was kicking myself when we did set off to see them as his business card (and address) got left behind on the hall table!  Typical of me.  I had actually looked up where they said they lived on Google Earth so had a mental picture and I was indeed right.  Before we knocked on the door we went down to the beach at Ferryside and I took a few photos across the Towy of Llansteffan, despite the gloomy light.

This looks like an arrow pointing to the castle! and I couldn't resist taking this pic.

The tide was coming in - looking beyond the headland to the very end of Pendine sands, where it meets the River Taf, as it flows past Laugharne and meets Carmarthen Bay.  Below: a slightly closer view.

Looking left at Ferryside beach, where the River Towy feeds into Carmarthen Bay.

Llansteffan Castle - I can just make out some green tarpaulin, so they must still be carrying out repairs.

Eyes right a little, and this is Llansteffan village, with the little pastel cottages which line the back of the beach.  There were several people fishing, just off to the right, and I was reminded of Dylan Thomas's "heron-priested shore". . .

Anyway, we had a lovely time with our friends - C's sister S used to be my penpal and I went to stay with them back in the very early 1970s and fell in love with Carmarthenshire then - those two holidays are the reason we ended up moving to Wales.  When we were property hunting in 1987, we got priced out of the West Country - house prices were literally going up week on week - and the houses we viewed in Lancashire, Cumbria and the Welsh Borders (lots of them there) weren't quite right.  Then I suggested we considered Wales and we sent for a house brochure (lots of properties in various states of disrepair!) from a Carmarthenshire estate agent.  Our house literally leapt off the page at us, and the rest is history as they say . . .

It would have been lovely to see S as well, but sadly she is a bit of a recluse these days and will only see her sister, and no-one else.  Such a shame as she is a very talented lady, but various problems put a stop to that.

We ended up at Tescopolis far later than intended, due to chatting and chatting with C and her partner, and could barely get in the car park as it was chocabloc with vehicles - either folk shopping in Tesco's or up the town.  (There is a set amount of free parking there).  

Saturday 15 December 2018

Blowing a hooley here

Storm Deidre has appeared on the scene and has been wuthering around the house since late afternoon.  I for one am very glad to be indoors and relieved I no longer have my horses, as evening stables would have not been much fun in this, as the rain is coming down sideways and is icy cold.  Even going out to top up the bird feeders meant like dressing for the Arctic.

It was calmer when I went into town at lunchtime to fetch Danny and his mate Luke to come and shift our very heavy (solid oak) wardrobe for us so I can paint behind it and finally get the room finished.  I fed them, sent them home with most of a Dorset Apple Cake (I should have made two!) and then Keith took them home as I wasn't feeling my best by then.  I'm not sure if it's another bug or the virus we picked up in Oxford having one last blast, but I have been exceedingly tired these past couple of days and slept nearly 12 hours last night, which is unheard of!

We had planned to pop down the last car boot sale of the year tomorrow, but will take a check on the weather before getting dressed.  The weather pundits have forecast freezing rain and we have no intention of venturing outside our front gate if that is the case - living on a steep zig-zag hill we would end up in the river faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

Anyway, let's hope we wake up to more peaceful weather tomorrow.  Now I have bought some spray starch, I intend to start the home-run on Gabby's quilt, tieing (or possibly buttoning) the layers and then doing the binding.  Then I can breath a sigh of relief!

Friday 14 December 2018

A further crafting day

Yesterday the other sewing group I belong to run by Dawn McHugh over at Being Self Sufficient in Wales met at Dawn's and learned how to make a lampshade.  I was utilising the top/bottom rings of an old 1970s shade which was brittle and falling to bits, so Dawn helped me to cut out another former for mine.  The crazy patchwork has used beautiful Japanese silk scraps sent to me by Elaine over at Tales from Parsonage Wood.  

It was relatively easy (if a tad fiddly) to stick the shade to the rings, and then fasten the top and bottom edges with narrow glued strips and we all felt confident afterwards that we could go and do another.  It was great fun and we stopped for lunch in the middle - a 3 course Christmas meal - which had been beautifully made by Dawn - part of the starter was herbed cheese balls preserved in olive oil and they were amazing.  The Water Buffalo we had as our main course was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth. 

Here is Dawn's lovely seasonal lampshade, which was made using her embroidery machine.

This is Sue's lovely shade, with the flowers and leaves also made on her embroidery sewing machine.

Finally Salli's colourful shade which would go anywhere - I love those cheerful blooms.

Dawn's craft cabin is wonderfully well stocked and so tidy, and a joy to work in.  At the end of the session we discussed all sorts of other wonderful crafts to try next year in our monthly get-togethers.

So many things to try - so little time!  Many thanks to Dawn for hosting this.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

The Patchwork Group Christmas outing . . .

This afternoon 4 of us from our Patchwork group set off for Calico Kate's WONDERFUL shop in Lampeter, and we were in there for about an hour and a half, stroking fabrics, oohing and pointing, and losing all willpower over the lure of patchwork fabrics . . .  

The shop has twelve rooms absolutely brimming with temptation - as you can see from the photos, amazing fabrics, and beautifully made quilts and wallhangings to give you an idea of what to do with some of the fabrics on offer. Oh my goodness - never has temptation been so TEMPTING!!

Alex, Monique and Pat finding the stitching on a work in progress.

I quite fancy making this simple table runner.

Above and below: this is what I bought.  I just couldn't resist it and then when I found the GORGEOUS Dragonfly fat 1/4 on the way out, that just balanced so incredibly with all the other colours it went into the pile too.  I'm not sure what they will be yet, but possibly a bag, and/or a table runner or lap quilt.

Another little indulgence, but not for me . . .

There could have been an alternative heading for this - Do Jelly Babies Do Tantric Sex?  When we had tea and cake after our shopping spree, we were talking about Christmas presents and I learned that there were all sorts of naughty sweets I'd never heard of before (Ann Summers has a lot to answer for!) but when we got to Kama Sutra Jelly Babies I nearly fell off my chair.  Oh goodness, we were giggling like teenagers - crafting is apparently really good for you, and even just crafters getting together has the same effect.  We were like geriatric St Trinians schoolgirls!!

As you can see, much fun was had and I am looking forward to starting another project early in January - it will probably be continuing with the Random Quilt I began here last summer.

Oh and before I forget - Tam's quilt is FINALLY finished.