Friday 27 December 2019

William Morris

I had some lovely gifts from T, G and D, including this William Morris bedding (plus a matching spoon rack and milk jug).  Danny heard my plea for a new blender and got me a great one (yet to be used) so I was able to chuck out the one I'd paid £1.50 for at a car boot sale many years ago.  It had seen better days, especially after the lid fell on the floor and a big chunk broke off!

Below is the Lekue bread making gizmo.  I bought fresh yeast today as the recipe booklet seemed to call for either fresh yeast of baking powder.  Yeast it is then.  I will try it out tomorrow - as I am deeming tomorrow a "get back to normal" day, though I'll still watch the racing in the afternoon as we did again today (and I had a 16-1 winner in the first race, with a fiver on it! Tiquer it was called).  I also picked the winner of the Welsh National (Potter's Corner) but didn't have a bet on that.

My first attempt at using anything NON metal to bake in!

Tam and I hit the sales today (I wouldn't bother if she wasn't here but she wanted jeans and I wanted to see what we could get in the M and S food hall that was well reduced).  We couldn't face dealing with a half price turkey so instead we got a half price chicken, which has been cooked up and will be made into chicken curry tomorrow and frozen.  We got a reduced by a third Thai Curry meal box so that is tea tonight.  (Reporting back - not to my palate, but I forced it down).  

Tam got some jeans, but isn't sure about the fit so they will go back, and I got some purple velvet trousers which are gorgeous and DO fit!  I also stopped at Matalan and got some bootie-type fleece-lined slippers to keep my ankles warm.  Bought some for Gabby for Christmas and so waited until the sales for some for me.  I am waiting to see a photo of Danny now, wearing the rather psychodelic shirt we got him for Christmas.  Just his style!

Exercise today was strictly around the town but we will get out tomorrow morning for a proper walk.

I will leave the decorations up for a few days more but they will probably be down on or before New Year's Eve so we can have natural daylight in the sitting room again (the Christmas tree is in the bay window with the curtains pulled for the duration).

Right, my new books are calling and so I shall go and read another chapter of Dancing with Bees, which I completely recommend.

Thursday 26 December 2019

"These Christmas Crackers are EMPTY!"

Morning all.  Boxing Day and I can hear the birds chirping as the sky begins to slowly lighten.  

We had a truly lovely Christmas and no meltdown from our exhausted daughter who works in a jewellers and still had customers in the shop at gone 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.  She has already left to go back for the Boxing Day sales, as she is working.

We drank champagne as we unwrapped our gifts (G always gets given champagne at Christmas by well-heeled customers so she has made it a Christmas tradition now).  I have ALL the books I had hoped for and some lovely thoughtful gifts beside.  We had daft films on tv and there was such happiness and laughter.  I am indeed blessed.

We don't eat Christmas lunch, but eat our meal between 5 and 6, and the kids told me to take the day off  (once I'd made the roulade - although Tam whipped the cream for me) and they cooked a splendid meal. 

We sat down to a leg of locally-shot venison (local Shoot gift) with all the usual trimmings, including a luscious gravy by Gabby which had a piece of dark chocolate added.  Wow! is all I can say.  Danny's Yorkshires were sky high as always.  He has the knack.  The crackers got overlooked and Keith and I were washing up when there was great hilarity round the table and exclamations of "these Christmas crackers are EMPTY" - they were ones Tam had found at a charity shop for £1.50 and she hadn't read the packet - they were ones you made up yourself!!  

Then we played Articulate and were all helpless with laughter - we literally laughed until we cried at one point.  It's a brilliant game when you have had a couple of drinks and I was totally useless at it!!

Now today we are back to normal.  We have to take Danny back to town as he's working tomorrow, and then we will sit down and watch the racing this afternoon - which includes the King George VI steeplechase, which will be hotly-contested between Altior, Clan des Obeaux and Cyrname.  I have been following National Hunt racing since I used to watch it with mum as a child - one of these days we will make it to Cheltenham for the Festival!  Keith has 3 (Christmas present) shares in racehorses (two flat, one jumper) which add to the piquancy.  It would be lovely to see one of "our" horses in action. 

(For anyone who thinks racing is a cruel sport, get a reality check on the cruelty of ignorance and go to Prince Fluffy Kareem's home page on Facebook and see how horses really suffer elsewhere in the world.  This is a charity I hold dear to my heart - not one penny is wasted and they can work miracles on horses which would have been instantly condemned to death had they been in this country.)  Sadly, horses do die when racing, but they also die in road traffic accidents, in their stable or field and it is a fact of life. In Cairo, they are suffering from injuries and physical problems which were mentioned in my Victorian horse books - ignorance and desperation have stayed on in Egypt.

Anyway, time for breakfast now and a walk is planned for later - I am feeling slightly jaded from being up early to see Gabby off, and from yesterday's alcohol intake being higher than normal!!

Monday 23 December 2019

The Wrong Queue

You know how it is when you go to choose a queue at the (very busy!) Supermarket - they all look the same length, but hey, the lady in front of you is just one person, although her trolley is full (like everyone else's) and some queues are several people long.  Then you twig that the till lady is Very Slow and Very Chatty and the Lady In Front is full of cold, and wants to pay for her £189 worth of shopping with the points vouchers she has been saving all year.  We were stood there for 15 minutes - so long in fact that Tam put the ice cream back in the freezer!  You don't like to take umbrage or be rude, although I did say at the end I wondered if Tesco's were going to be paying the lady money BACK.

Outside Tesco had been virtually gridlocked when I slid into a space (it was like dead men's shoes trying to find one!) and walking across to the entrance, there were beeping horns, and people parked at angles and other people reversing into the trolley park and people wandering across in front of aggravated drivers so nonchalantly - it was a wonder they weren't flattened!

We normally make a point of NOT going shopping in Christmas week, but I had to pick up a prescription and Keith had to pay the Council Tax and we had a few extra bits to get (fresh fruit and veg etc) and so we bit the bullet.  Never again (that's twice I've sworn never again in two days!)

Right, the drawbridge will be up tomorrow and some baking will be done.  I managed to clean enough of the oven yesterday for it not to billow black smoke when in action and I have removed several dodgy customers from the back of the fridge so there is room for other comestibles.  

Now time to relax for an hour or so before bed.  

I may not get on tomorrow, so will wish a Merry Christmas to you all and hope that 2020 will be a good year.

Sunday 22 December 2019


FINALLY FINISHED.   Quilt for Danny, with Space Invader as requested.  The spots are on the camera and not on the quilt, thankfully.  I spent 11 hours on this yesterday, just doing the binding.  It is far from perfect but I think he will like it.

Below is the finished hexi table runner which is hand-pieced and hand-quilted, on my lap, as an evening distraction.

Only now can I start organizing myself for Christmas, with cleaning and baking.  I'll get there, but I have vowed, no more last minute sewing ever again!

Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone, and all the best for 2020.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

A Winter's Day

Yesterday was dry - though misty - and after going to Llandeilo for Dental Appt (Tam) and salt marsh lamb for Christmas Eve (us), Tam and I went out for a walk once we got home. We walked the not-too-demanding lanes up past Eisteddfa and were hopeful of a view, but the mist couldn't decide whether to come or go, as you can see.  I was feeling in top form walking-wise and my breathing was too.  I'll let you explore the photos - I am just off to bed, after a busy day (further work on Danny's quilt this afternoon).

Monday 16 December 2019

Winter weather

Yesterday was not a good day for a walk and we were very glad to be indoors when a thunderstorm arrived, bringing with it hailstones in quantities (some are still around today as it's stayed cold).

There you are - a "sort of" hailing photo - the white bits are hail anyway, you just can't clearly see it coming down in frozen stair-rods!

My final "noodle" arrived today and is being straightened (it arrives tied in a knot!) and I hope to crack on with Danny's quilt tomorrow.

Tam and I got out for a walk today, wearing wellies as we intended coming back across the fields beside the river.  Only one teensie problem, Jim had turned 7 horses out in there and it was literally HOCK deep in mud in all the gateways and the land in between not much better.  In one gateway I all but lost my boots - the mud came to within an inch of the tops!  Just as well there was a fence to hang on to . . .

My peak flow was lousy this morning (below 400) but after the walk, shot up to just over 500, which is good for me, so I hope to get out whenever it is dry enough (that hasn't happened very often recently).

We bought our tree yesterday (a Nordman fir from Charlies) and dressed it today.  It's a lovely tree and looks really pretty - this photo was taken whilst it was daylight outside though so you can't see the lights on it.

It's been soup making weather and so I made some Scotch Broth today, boiling up the bone from the small lamb joint we had yesterday (and afterwards it went out to hang from the apple tree so the birds could get the last smidgins of meat from it.)  Tea tonight was a tasty lamb biriani, with enough for another single meal tomorrow night.

Keep warm all.

Friday 13 December 2019

Time flies

I managed to be up early enough ONE day this week to catch the sunrise.  We've been tired though and one morning didn't wake up until gone 9 a.m.!

I have about 8 Goldfinches on the Apple tree feeder daily, and half a dozen on the Damson tree one.  Plus Nuthatches, Chaffinches, Sparrows, Robins, Great/Blue/Coal Tits, Woodpeckers, Sparrows.

Last Sunday we went to Malvern Fleamarket and on the way back (when Keith was behind the wheel), I managed a photo at the Trumpet x-roads of this lovely old half-timbered house.

We stopped at Bredwardine to take a few photosl.  Here is the old Rectory where Kilvert once lived.

Above and below: apple trees with their "winter leaves" - e.g. Mistletoe!

Then along the lanes to Arthur's Stone again.

A day was spent doing some heavy-duty Jam making - 25 jars of High Dumpsie Dearie Jam (Plum/Apple/Pear) and Harvest Jam (Apple/Pear/Blackberry) as gifts for folk.

These jars went along to my Patchwork class.

I'm just about ready for Christmas apart from finishing Danny's quilt.  I've had to send for three swimming "noodles" - buoyancy aids - which are just the biz for wrapping fabric around so you can then spray glue them as you are unrolling them and pin/tack prior to machine quilting (mine will just be in lines . . .)  I will be glad when it's finished.  I also have some lap quilting in the evenings, on the applique and patchwork quilt I worked on back in the summer.

I assume we won't have any more viewings for a while now.  If we have any dry weather in January (hah -here in Wales?!!) I will try and get the garden tidied a bit more and touch up some paintwork which needs doing.  Let's hope that 2020 is the year we finally get to move on.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Try again

Whilst I was at the PO, the agents phoned to say that the folk from last weekend LOVED the house, but on consideration the land and access wasn't right for their Alpacas.  

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Still no news

I had a lovely day today as Gabby came up for lunch and afterwards we put some music on and we sat round the kitchen table and wrapped up Christmas presents, so that's one job 90% done.  Tam and I were turning last year's Christmas cards (which have suddenly made an unscheduled appearance) into gift tags for presents.  I have even been into my craft cupboard in the sitting room and whilst searching for pins and ribbons, I put aside a few things I can take to Cloth, Paper, Stitch in Llandeilo. 

I was awake in the night - finally went back to bed at 2 a.m. - and I got the 2nd half of the Christmas cards written.  Just one minor problem - I can't find the blardy FIRST HALF! They got thrown into a cupboard or similar when I was hurtling round on Saturday morning, tidying up and vacuuming, dusting, cleaning floors etc.

We haven't heard anything yet from the viewers last weekend, the couple who WE want to have the house. I am hoping that "no news is good news".  Anyway, we haven't had a definite NO so that is something to hold onto.  For anyone reading who thinks I am overly positive about everyone who comes to view- well yes, no one has hated it yet.  Some people don't find it suits their needs, but everyone really likes it and says so in their feedback.  So there!

In the meantime my frazzled mind has functioned sufficiently for me to make a few purchases on line today (gift cards for young relatives t'other side of the country) and to make a list of presents bought and those I still need to get, so that's progress.  I plan to go downstairs now, do today's Codeword puzzle and some more sewing on the border of the green hexi table runner.  

Monday 2 December 2019

A recent walk

It was bitterly cold here overnight (first heavy frost of the season).  At the weekend it was warmer and drier so Keith and I ventured up the hill.  This is the big old dead tree on the border of our land (our side!).  We keep hoping it will decide to fall over and give us a huge supply of firewood but no . . . it stands resolute!

No snow on top of Black Mountain at the moment.

Looking across the valley.


Dryslwyn Castle in the distance.

The birds haven't had all these Haws yet (though the tree in our paddock is picked clean).

Looking up the valley a bit.

The Italianate tower still standing at Pant Glas.

Sorry for so few words.  My nerves are on a knife's edge as we had some LOVELY people come and view at the weekend.  First, on Saturday, then they wanted to see the land again on Sunday, but viewed the house again too (Tam in charge as we were out).  I keep praying the Agents will ring with some positive news . . .  

Tuesday 26 November 2019

The sound of silence

I needed a walk today and got Keith to drop me off by a farm across the valley (which meant I didn't need to drag myself up the steep hill on the valley side.)  I did the bridleway walk, as I wanted to get away from everything and everyone, and indeed, only saw two cars all the time I was out.  It was partly an experiment to see how quiet it was in the proper countryside, as the Beeb is doing a recording of Silence in Antarctica to calm people down.  I thought, well, I can cope with the wind in the trees, the occasional bird noise, and the chatter of a lane-side stream - I don't need to go to Antarctica to have Silence . . .

Some colour on my walk, as I was walking the bridleway loop.  The wind suddenly got up and I had to snatch a chance to photograph as it dropped for a millisecond and before the leaves were thrashing again.

All the leaves are gone on all but the most stubborn oaks now.

Looking across the Towy Valley, in rather murky light, and below, a close up of the fields along the valley bottom.

This bare tree looks so beautiful.

The slightly pink hue on some of the trees show that these are Alders, putting out tiny catkins.

This is one of the valley neighbours.  It turns out he was cutting holly (without berries) for his wife to make a Christmas wreath for the church.  I helped her carry the branches back.

The lane ahead and below, the plants still growing in the wet ditch.

Looking up the valley.  The dark clump of trees hide the farmhouse where my son's best friend grew up.

The lane ahead.

Bramble leaves still hold their autumn colour.

Looking across the valley again, above and below.

Some slightly blurry photos of holly berries and the river.

Just off to bed now - having had a tussel to get a bat out of my daughter's bedroom (great screaming alerted us!)  I "think" it went out of my - opened - office window, but have just heard scrabbling, so perhaps it's hanging on a curtain still . . .  We'll find out in the morning.  Meanwhile I shall shut it in!