Thursday 29 March 2018

Hard at work

I am trying to give you a break from just photographs of my walks.  I have had just THE busiest day today, working flat out in the house without a break.  I felt unwell again first thing, but dosed up with a couple of Panadol and just carried on with the painting, as I wanted to get it FINISHED.  So I masked up the small kitchen window, took off the window catch for ease of painting, and then got most of a little nest of shelving which covers pipes in the corner, also painted.  Then both ends of the hanging cupboard.  Then the side of the food cupboard which was still pale green got a couple of coats of the grey white I've used on the cupboards.

Across the valley, masses of Primroses on a sunny bank.

In between, I thoroughly scrubbed the oven (and that took some doing, believe me) and the shelves, and a burnt-black drip pan.  That took me to about 4 p.m., when I made a Chocolate Banana cake (I cut the sugar so that my OH can eat some if he wants a slice), and started making a big chicken pie from scratch.  Then I made the cheese pastry topping for it, but by then my poor brain was addled and although I doubled the flour, I turned away for a moment and couldn't remember if I had doubled the fat too.  I hadn't doubled the cheese.  Anyway, it turned out OK when I got to grips with it, and I had a piece for my - belated - tea.  Now I need to go downstairs and get the bread out of the Panny.  I think I will sleep well tonight.

Oh, and I also did some tidying and sorting out of old stock to be sold a.s.a.p. so there is a corner of the Junk Room currently tidier than it was.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Below Par

I have not been at my best the past 24 hours and after plodding through the day, I've just sat on the sofa covered in quilts and cats, shivering, and wanting to just hold my plate of fish'n'chips (K was "cooking") as it was warm, rather than eating what it held.  Anyway, 2 Panadol and a few cat cuddles later and I have just thrown off the covers but Ghengis is still snuggled up to me, purring.  Alfie, having been encouraged to leave his perch on my shoulder (as I told him, he made a very good window - NOT!) has been on the sofa back for an hour now.

Anyway, I passed the day drinking water and just painted the day away.  I did the other kitchen door (into the hall), both sides, and then another coat down on the bathroom door in what was mum's flat.  Then, as I was still upright, I masked up and did the bay window frames.  Bear in mind everything took about three coats, so that is another paint I shan't buy again!  Now I just have the window frame over the sink to do.  So, progress.  I was doing fine until I helped K make up the bed and then I felt really quite unwell and shaky, so have been resting up ever since. 

A very blurry photo of the little car boot bargain from Sunday.  The mahogany base has polished up a treat and the old rotten fabric torn off and burnt, and I have a layer of cotton quilt batting stapled into place to provide a base for the black and white fabric (left over from the sewing box).    Hopefully I will do that tomorrow. 

Finally, a view from my walk on Sunday (when we had SUNSHINE!) - you can see why people move to Wales . . .

The view from the cottage . . .  Bannau Sir Gar (Black Mountain) again . . .

Sunday 25 March 2018

A long walk - in fact, a Plan B walk!

I have been upping my walking distance recently, from the usual 3 miles to 5 or 6. I have to say, though my legs are glad to stop, I have enjoyed myself so much and after a rest, am raring to go and do another (shorter) walk. On Friday I looked at our local map and decided to go exploring on a nice downhill (most of the way) ramble which would take me from near Horeb to home, but exploring a lane the other side of the main Brechfa road.

K had work to get on with, so I told him to drop me off a little early, just short of the crossroads, so I could take a couple of photos of the start of the walk. I began to walk, remembering that I had to ignore the first “road” on my left, as that led to a farm. So I kept on walking, and walking and after half an hour I was beginning to wonder if I had imagined the 2nd road. Beyond a farm, I saw the muddy wide farm track I planned to explore when I had my horse Fahly, but no sign of the turning I wanted. Rather than carry on and make a long walk into a hike into the hills, I decided that it would be sensible to turn back and head for home. So I went back down the steep hill I had climbed, and climbed the steep hill I had come down from where K had dropped me off, and kept climbing as it was a looooooooong steep hill. My legs were beginning to ache when I reached the top but then it was downhill or on flat bits all the way back to our big steep hill. It was about 6 miles in all.

When I got home I checked the map, and found out that between where I stopped walking and the muddy wide farm track, was the turning I needed, but it must have been set back a bit as it looked like the bank bordering the road just carried on. Ah well, another day, when the sun is out, and I shall get K to drop me off right by the start of it.

Since then I have done two more long walks of about 5 miles each, one with the camera (today) and one without (yesterday, when I did the bridleway walk). Today's walk was down by the TB stud and around a loop and down a steep hill (didn't want to push myself too much with the hills). The weather has been SO beautiful, sunny and once the frost had melted, warm too. 

We went to the car boot sale first thing (the first one we've been to this year), and got a couple of things, including a little beaten-up mahogany footstool which needed recovering, so I have been working on that today. I also got out in the garden but the digging I started was just too heavy as the soil is still pretty wet and as it was grass tussocks I was trying to shift, it was too big an ask. I shall have to get D (son) to give me a hand as K is laid up with his hips and his shoulder (result of doing the shower room for me).

The Fitbit steps are doing VERY well – I have achieved 21,192 so far today, and overall for the week, 106,746 steps! 

The view looking South.

View S-W across the Brechfa road.

Lleche Cist - noted in one of my books as a stone row, but possibly a small stone circle, as there is supposedly another stone nearby.

Looking N towards Llanllwni Mountain.

I managed to catch this lamb at just the right moment.

The  wilderness at the side of the road.  Very poor quality land, sour and only good for wildlife.

Llanllwni Mountain and Brechfa Forest in the distance.

A determined lamb about to have a feed.

The view in front of me as I headed home.

Friday 23 March 2018

Yesterday's walk from the swing bridge

This, another iron bridge in our valley which crosses over the Cothi, is half way between our iron bridge and Brechfa. There used to be another iron bridge closer to the A40 which took you to church – the little Trinity Church which nestles, surrounded by daffodils at this time of year, just on the bend by Monachdy cottage. Children on that side of the river could cross to the wee schoolhouse which is now a private cottage. However, the middle of it is now gone so it's not possible to cross it. I'll try and do a walk down that way next week and take some photos of the church and ruinous bridge. My son told me (years after the event) that he and his mates used to dive off it into the river. I am SO glad I didn't know what they were up to at the time as it was quite a drop!

This one got its name as before this solid bridge was built, its predecessor was a hanging bridge – think Indiana Jones here! The lady who used to drive the school taxi and pick up our kids at the gate to ferry them down to school in Nantgaredig, always called it the swing bridge, and said they used to cycle up to it on summer days. I imagine the boys would start to lark about on it when the girls were in the middle just to hear them scream.

The view upstream from the bridge, and below, downstream.

It's about 3 miles up the valley from home, so I got my husband to drop me off and I walked back. It's an easy walk apart from the steep hill up from my smallholding neighbour's place, but that, surprisingly, I can cope with better than the hill up to our house from the river. That's a killer.

There were plenty of sheep and lambs about, and lots of baaing going on. I had wished for sunshine to liven up the landscape a little, but it is still rather monochrome and spring is going to be late this year. I am just so desperate to see leaves on the trees again.

This made me laugh - Medallion Sheep!!

I stopped for a cuppa at my smallholding friend's farmhouse, and we had a lovely chat. We are great friends and get on like a house on fire, as the saying goes. She has had a birthday recently and one of her daughters got her some tiny chicks and day old ducklings. I couldn't resist a peep at the ducklings (who are Khaki Campbells) and plan to go back soon and see the chicks and some Aylesburys who have yet to be delivered.

Below - as you can see, no shortage of Ramsons to pick round here!  Back tomorrow with today's walk . . .  Have a good weekend all.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Lawks - I'm all behind like the donkey's tail!

I did a river walk yesterday, and although I took some photos of the usual bit along by the mill, I also went into our neighbour's field and took some photos of the river from the banks there.  It was very peaceful and warm in the sunshine, and I didn't push myself.

I love the way the stones are scalloped and worn away by the water.

I half-wished I had bought a book and then I would have sat down and unwound.  We have been busy working on the house - jobs which it was too cold to do in winter.  We had a "possible viewing" but haven't heard anything so I am assuming that she really DID want 10 acres and wouldn't consider 5 1/2 and renting some.

Above and below: as you can see, I had an audience.  When I turned round again and put the camera up they all decided I was out to steal their souls and ran away!

River levels have dropped right back again after being high earlier in the week.

Finally, the first Wind Anemone.  That brought a smile to my face. 

Sunday 18 March 2018

A job well done this morning

I thought it would snow in the night, and indeed, when I got up at 6.30, there was a sprinkling of snow on the ground (more than last time) and it was snowing steadily.  It carried on snowing until after lunch but wasn't settling on the lane or the paths - well, what did settle soon melted.  This was the view across the top of the yard and the farm buildings about 8 a.m.

Around lunchtime I had a walk up the hill and took a few photos - as you can see, some fields seem warmer than others!  These are the fields above Dyffryn, further up the valley.

I kept myself busy whilst listening to the Archers Omnibus by recovering this little 1960s lidded box which had got rather grubby.  I painted it a couple of days ago and today I took the old fabric off and replaced it with some I got in an array from offcuts from the Curtain shop near Lidl.  This was perhaps originally a sewing box.

I stuck with the grey/black/white theme and used this fabric, with a black and white ribbon which only just covered the edges of everything I wanted to cover (5m) - I had just an inch left!  All neatly glued in place with Copydex.  It will either go to the next Fair we do or else go to the Unit.

The 4 fabrics I chose - £10 worth in total.  The lovely grey silky looking fabric had been a sample made up into a little curtain so it may just end up in the revamped shower room.  Keith has been tiling in there today and it is going to look lovely when it's done.

Not much else in the way of news, except I have nearly finished Rose Tremain's "Trespass" which I can recommend. 

Keep warm.

The view down the farm track from the top of our yard.

Saturday 17 March 2018

Soup Weather

I think wherever you are in the country today, it will be cold.  Very cold. With a stonkingingly cold N-E wind.  The Son of the Beast from the East.  I can do without it - I want spring back.  We had a day and a half of it this week and it was LOVELY.  I even got hot on my walk yesterday.  Now we have been having flurries of snow coming past the window in a horizontal fashion, courtesy of the fierce gusts of wind.  On such a day as this, staying indoors as much as possible sounds like a plan, and making a pot of soup for lunch a must.  I made mine last night, so I could make a gammon steak make several meals - half went into a risotto which did for two meals - and the other half into my standard Minestrone soup.

Recently though, I made a sort of Scotch Broth only using cooking bacon as the meat in it, rather than lamb (or traditionally mutton).  You could use any scraps of meat really.

I am trying to remember the proportions of ingredients I used to make it.  I know I had a 60p pack of cooking bacon, and 2/3 of that got frozen in two packs of 1/3 in each, so I will have used 1/3 pack of bacon, chopped, in the soup.  There were two carrots, peeled and chopped into rings, a medium potato, peeled and chopped, and a good size onion, peeled and sliced. I put about 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil in a Le Creuset pan, and fried the onion and bacon, then I added about 1 1/2 pints of chicken stock, and put probably 4 oz of red lentils in to cook and added the carrots and seasoned.  In a separate pan I put about 4 oz of pearl barley in hot water, boiled for 10 mins or so and then simmered for another 50 minutes, before draining and adding to the soup.  Then I stirred well, cooked for a further 5 minutes and served.  Yummy!  Especially with a slice of buttered fresh bread.

Let's hope this cold weekend is the very end of winter and we can move forwards into spring.  We had one day where we had the front door open all day (bliss), and I managed to get some gardening done.  When we went to Wotton-under-Edge last week, alongside the motorway (just as we crossed the Severn) I noticed the first tiny flowers of Blackthorn flowers showing the smallest white margins in the buds and yesterday alongside the A40 there were green smudges on the stretches of Hawthorn along the hedgerow.  I had only just been remembering when we used to take the children up to see Manchester granny at half term and Easter, and the hedgerows would be the brightest of lime greens, and when boredom set in we would have counting competitions for Magpie houses (black and white timbered cottages), brown cows, cherry trees and when the edible distractions were running out, I would get them counting sheep (THAT kept them busy!)

Friday 16 March 2018

Show and tell

I ended up taking off half the buttons as it was overkill.  There's a picture over on Dragon Quilting on Facebook which shows the finished thing (this is our tutor's site).  Link HERE.

I am still hand-quilting the red and white lap quilt when I feel in the mood/have time but currently there is the vague possibility of a viewing in the offing (probably won't happen as she wants twice as much land as we have) but of course, that means lots of work, including mending a stable door and also the post and rail fencing at the bottom of our top field, as the cattle have rubbed against it and it has stopped being upright!

Meanwhile my dearly beloved has reached the floor stage of the shower room revamp - I had to help him with the door yesterday, which ended up being taken off and rehung twice after being made shorter. It did my back in good and proper - it was complaining from gardening, then yesterday I had to scrunch down on my haunches and exert pressure on a chisel which was under the door raising it to the level of the screw holes for the hinges.  Ouch!  I have promised my OH no more big DIY jobs as we are both getting too old for it!

Thursday 15 March 2018

Catching up

With a little help from Little Whale I laid out yesterday's progress at Patchwork Class . . .  This is a quilt for daughter Tamzin.  I FINALLY got to grips with the many mistakes I'd made and put them right, and am now getting it finished at class.

Above and below - a strip of Tam's quilt, using the quilt as you go method, and what's more, my first attempt at machine quilting.  I have to say, it was not as difficult as I thought it would be and I am quite pleased with my first efforts.

A close-up of my efforts.

This is the top of the little box on legs I bought at the Fleamarket.  It needs completely repainting and recovering but I'm onto it!  I woke at 5 a.m. this morning and came downstairs to use my time constructively.

As I bought it - needing a complete revamp.

Current work in progress - as you can see, the new white shows up the very shabby old paintwork.  Keith will have to make me up a new piece of beading to go on the front of the grubby door.  Now I am away into town for yet more paint (3 lots I need!)

Hello to new followers.  Lovely to have you "on board".  For some reason I have been stuck on 184 followers for months - it never gets any higher though I must have an extra 20 or 30 who have joined me.  Ah well, I know you're there anyway!