Wednesday 30 January 2019

Gales and snow forecasts

The wanderer returns!  Apologies for my absence, but we had a severe gale on Saturday night (according to the weather pundits it was meant to be strong winds along the coast).  Well, it came from the North and 60 mph winds hurled down trees left, right and centre.  We knew it was bad as it woke us several times in the night, so we weren't too surprised, when driving down our hill to go to the Antiques Fair at the Botanic Gardens (where we were standing) to find a massive fallen tree blocking our way.  It had, of course, also taken out our phone line and we have only had it back today.  That said, whilst it wasn't repaired when I drove home around 4.15 yesterday afternoon, when we got up this morning and went downstairs around 7.15 a.m., the Broadband Fairies had been in the night and fixed it!  I was delighted!

As you can see it has been cold.  We have had a tiny amount of ridiculously small snowflakes and more was forecast across the Principality on Thursday and Friday, but I had an update on my phone earlier to say that Wales should now be snow-free for that same period.  Hurray - we have things to do, places to go and do NOT need to be snowed in!

Just in case, when we had been to the Auction in town this  morning, we stocked up on more cat food and wild bird seed and fat balls, milk, cheese, fresh veg and anything else we might get low on.  We always keep a well-stocked cupboard and freezer, as living where we do it is best to be prepared.

Anyway, after sitting around at the auction, I decided I needed a good walk and set off up the hill with my camera, to take some snow photos - these are they on this post of course.  This is the top of the hill with the sky as "black as Dick's hat-band" (although I have just discovered that the saying connected with Dick's hat-band are more likely to be as tight as Dick's hat-band, or like Dick's hat-band-goes round twice and still doesn't tie up, or as queer as Dick's hat-band, depending on which part of the country you come from!  Perhaps I should be saying "it's a bit black over Bill's mother's".

This was as far as I went before turning round -where Alltyferin land meets what used to be old Isaac and Rosina's small farm.  His son has it now.  Below is the view across the Towy Valley and that is probably Dryslwyn and Felindre small villages to the middle left.

Another Towy Valley view, with Alltyferin fields in the foreground.

Right, this won't do.  A nice hot bath and then some hand-sewing await me.  Keep warm.

Friday 25 January 2019

New kid on the block, and hand sewing

The cat with no name.  I have been watching the progress of this tom up our valley for the past two months - alternating between Annie Dol-y-Bont's and almost to the A40, heading in both directions.  WHY they have to turn left over our bridge is beyond me.  They just seem to be programmed to keep turning left!  I thought I wasn't feeding him until I noticed him driving Miffy away from her food.  That's the trouble with her being an outside cat and not coming indoors to be fed.  I am hoping his testosterone will take him off in the spring . . .

I couldn't progress with the Baltimore quilt until I had material for the next border which is incorporated in the stars and as there was still a sale on at the patchwork shop in Llandeilo, I bit the bullet.  This gorgeous Liberty print matches many of the other colours in the prints I have used.  30% off made it not too expensive.  I also got a speckly grey-blue for the outer border and the "windows" around the applique blocks.

Shhh.  This work in progress is being hand quilted each evening (I LOVE hand quilting). I can't show you the entire design as it is a Christmas present for next year for a family member (or two, I may split it).  I just love the jewel colours - the perfect antidote for grey January days.  Most of the loops will eventually be outlined.

Above and below, one of the 4 Baltimore panels for the current quilt.  I've made three but have to draw up and cut out a further one.  I'm using a simple small blanket stitch to edge it all.  Not as satisfying as the gentle running-stitch of the quilting, but therapeutic all the same.

Now, I need to dash as we need to pack for the Botanic Gardens Antiques Fair and then set up later on.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

A little smidgen of snow

As you can see, the high ground to our East had had a little bit of snow, but we just had a couple of brief showers and some more in the night and frost, but it's warmed up and melted in our valley today.  These hills are still wintry looking, and of course the mountains have had a little more and it's stayed up there as it's colder.  It can go away if it likes as we want it a bit milder as we have journeys to make in the next month.

If it wasn't so cloudy, you would see Black Mountain with its mantle of snow, but when I walked up the hill yesterday, the clouds were low over the mountains.

One of the big old Ash trees which looks out across the TowyValley, towards Dryslwyn Castle, and below, some of the (rather grubby!) occupants of the field.

I enjoyed my patchwork class this afternoon, and got on with sewing the 9-patch border into two 6  block stretches.  I have some more of these little blocks to sew together.  Today I realized I didn't have the fabric I needed to do the two solid borders (well, one has star blocks incorporated in it), so did a swift journey to Llandeilo and chose some beautiful Liberty fabric which should go well with the rest, and a speckly blue-grey fabric for the outer border.  

I won't be able to get back to sorting out my Random Quilt top until next Monday now, but plans are afoot on doing it at home on one of my teacher's large quilting machines so I don't have to keep coming and going (and she is away for a few days).  Watch this space.

Monday 21 January 2019

Cold as a witch's t*t

We were up at 4 a.m., and away at 5, driving into a cold wet night, with patches of low-lying cloud along the route from here to Malvern, 2 3/4 hours away.  As I thought it was going to be wet rather than cold, I took my waterproof jacket with a fleece liner, with 3 warm layers beneath it.  Warm, but not warm enough as we were walking round at the Flea for 3 1/2 hours, trying to find stock.  An hour in I could feel the cold penetrating my arms to the bone, and my hips were aching from cold after two.   I am getting old . . .

We only bought 5 things, and it was a struggle to find THOSE and although there were a couple of items I would really have liked, I wouldn't have been able to make much of a profit on either, and it would have just been tieing money up, so I left them but I shall remember the Islamic style charger - it had the wow factor for sure but at £150 . . . .  The really unusual artist's walking stick, with brushes under a cap at one end and a hinged section in the middle which revealed water-colours also stayed put since the dealer wanted £225 for it!

Anyway, this bag was the first thing I spotted and I absolutely fell in love with it (love crazy patchwork).  It is going no further than ME, and cost just £5.  I thought she was going to say £25!!

I debated long and hard over these antique childrens' slipper stirrups.  I saw them last time but she wanted too much money.  This time I got a deal as we bought something else off her.  I get to enjoy them until they (eventually) sell . . .

This is a lovely little antique Belgian vase, c.1900, with a glaze far prettier in a good light.  In fact, it has a fabulous petrol-in-a-puddle iridescence to it.  I may well be stuck with that too, but as I said, there was very little to buy and I did like this, so . . .

At least on the drive home I could appreciate the countryside as on the drive there a) I was driving and b) it was pitch black all the way and foggy when we got to Malvern.  On the way home it was a soft grey day, with the only colour in the russet bricks of houses, rusty wriggly-tin shed roofs, and a scarlet garland of Briony in the hedgerow below British Camp.  The only light in the cobweb-grey of Travellers' Joy threading the hedgerows, the gold-green powder puffs of Mistletoe in the trees and the brighter green of Butterbur leaves on the verges at Whitney-on-Wye.  We drove past the little lawn and copse where a couple Escaped to the Country and set up a couple of holiday lets.  The programme was on tv last week and I said to Keith, I could show him exactly where they had moved (not far from Malvern).

This morning I have had my annual Respiratory check (A.O.K. on that) and had my hair cut at the hairdressers' for the first time in years, AND decided to have my hair coloured. After all, think of all the money I've saved the past few years by cutting my hair at home!! I'm fed up with iron grey, and the hairdresser suggested (as I love purple) that we went with some tonal shades and suggested I look something up on line and then I will have an idea of what I like.  I've done just that, so watch this space.  It won't be boring dark brown anyway (which was my original "safe" choice!!)  

Saturday 19 January 2019

Some applique today

Yesterday's sunrise.  This is the view

I originally intended to get back to decorating down in the downstairs hallway today (painting the last bit of stone wall white), but wasn't feeling 100% so I decided to start on the 4 applique panels for the latest quilt (well, wall hanging really).  Two with light green stems and leaves and 2 with dark.  It has taken me ages to draw round all the bits to be used, then iron them on the back of the fabric, then carefully cut them out and carefully align them on top of the pattern before removing it and ironing them all into place.  However, good progress has been made and I've done 3 out of the 4 needed.  These are 16" panels which will be 14" when sewn into the quilt.

I can't remember the last time I did applique but it was just the occasional animal when the children were small and I was decorating something for them.  I am uncertain whether I will satin stitch these in place on the sewing machine or whether I will edge them in a very small blanket stitch (as suggested with the pattern).  This idea is growing on me as I love to hand sew.

When I've done the last one of these I need to cut the tiny squares for the star blocks in the wider border next out from the applique panels, which are "framed" in a neutral shade (possibly light grey) to match the final border.  I have yet to get this fabric and the fabric for the border that the stars go on.  Next week . . .

Meanwhile, I have had tuition in how to use our Patchwork teacher's Gracie long arm quilter.  I have to say, it IS an acquired skill, but I seem to be slowly getting there with it.  Once I get past the practicing stage, we will load my Random Quilt onto it and I shall attempt not to bodge it too much . . .  We will be using a creamy coloured thread which should recede into the background enough to hide the mistakes (and yes, there are bound to be some!)

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Quilting progress

This is a lovely design I bought a couple of years back (from the now defunct shop in Newcastle Emlyn I think).  I began cutting out the small squares for one of the borders on Sunday, whilst listening to the Archers Omnibus.  The pattern calls for 288 - 16 squares of 18 different patterns. As I found half a 2 1/2" charm pack I incorporated those too.  They are just 2 1/2 inches each square!  I couldn't get back to sleep this morning after waking up at 3.50, so after an hour I got up and came downstairs and baked a loaf and some Lemon Drizzle Muffins to take to my patchwork class.  I sewed a few Patience 9-patch blocks together but did all the rest at my sewing class this afternoon.  Next is the applique part.

To start with I put all the little squares in a boxfile, and have some left over so think I will probably make a table runner with them, in my spare time!  

Above - here they are all laid out, so you get an idea of the overall effect, and below, a close-up of one area to show you the fabrics used.

The sideways owls aren't sewn to the next block so just need straightening up the right way.

Finally - the Lemon Drizzle Muffins. O.M.G. they are DIVINE!!  I handed them round at class, but have to confess I have eaten . . . ahem. . . several myself!!

Tuesday 15 January 2019

What a bit of energy can do

Yesterday I set about in the Chicken Shed, intent on getting all the rubbish out and doing a Trip Run.  As you can see, there was quite a bit which we no longer needed - the Scottish potatoes sack held the strings from a long-defunct upright piano which Keith had dismantled and turned into useful bits and firewood . . . that was about 10 years ago too!   There were boxes of electrical wiring, bits of plastic, the cover of a plastic greenhouse which had ripped, plastic bottles, plant pots, soggy underlay - all manner of junk.

We filled the car up completely in the back (seats down of course) and I went off on my own, and sought the help of one of the staff at the Tip to help carry the several heavy mirrors which were also part of the load and a gigantic print of the last supper which Keith had bought for the maple frame (which turned out to be a very thin veneer which started to moult, hence it ending up in the chicken shed.) Himself admitted that buying that wasn't his finest hour . . .

This bird's nest (Blackbird?)was carefully crafted into the guard of a defunct brush trasher (which also went to the Tip).  They would have flown in and out through the former window which no longer has any glass or frame.

As I had laboured mightily the day before, sorting out one of the pony stables, my back was starting to give me jip so I sat down after lunch and worked out which fabrics I was going to use for the patchwork border of this project:

Here are some of the fabrics - I needed to cut 16 pieces each from 18 different prints - that's 288 x 2 1/2 inch  squares, meticulously measured.  I began to sew a few up, but couldn't undertand why the central block was too small.  Then I looked at the foot on my sewing machine and realized I was sewing up to the edge of the foot - 3/8".  So a quick order via Amazon Prime had a 1/4" foot winging its way to me and arriving today.  I am a dozo not to realize it was a 3/8" foot I had on there!

This is an initial choice of fabrics, but I have found some more today which I may cut and add.  I have my patchwork class tomorrow afternoon so I shall take this along and see if I can get started with cutting out the applique pieces now I have found out where I stashed my Bondaweb (which of course, only came to light AFTER I had ordered some more!!!)

Right, off to bed now.  I have been hand quilting the wall hanging for eldest daughter (love doing this) and enjoying the jewel-bright colours in it.  There may be a feline bent to the design . . . but I shall say no more.

Sunday 13 January 2019

"You don't know the meaning of hard work . . ."

The title of this post is something my late m.i.l. once told me, because I found it hard to keep on top of all the ironing, tidying etc when I had 3 children under five and we were living in a house which needed total modernisation.  I think it was because I refused to iron the thick heavy cotton sheets she had given me . . .  Anyway, down the years, when I have collapsed into bed totally exhausted from all the work I have done - such as several consecutive days of 14 hours housework, painting, gardening  etc when we have a viewing due -  that little homily comes back to me.  Today was one of them.  I made a start on clearing the stable yard after I had listened to the Archers omnibus (whilst ironing material and starting to cut it up for the patchwork border on an applique wall hanging).  It had a winter's worth of leaves and twigs and half-rotted leaves turning to mud, plus lots of green moss, and it's a long time since I was last doing a work-out with a yard broom. Here it is before I started - and it was actually worse than it looks here!)

I had actually swept a few leaves into piles here, before thinking ah yes, before and after photos!  The hardest job was getting the grass (foreground) from the cracks in the concrete  and I had to concede defeat on the two biggest clumps, but I will go in with a spade with a sharper edge tomorrow.  All the leaves filled four barrowloads, now heaped under the Elderberry bushes at the bottom of the yard.  I finished it off by swilling it down with several buckets of water, sweeping after each bucketful.  After:

The pony stables are next - I did make a start on this one, and have swept all the leaves out, identified a lathe which needs to be taken by the scrap man next time one turns up (though they tend to hunt in packs - you don't see one for a year, and then three come with just days in between them!), moved out the remains of the old chair at the back (which has been waiting 35 years for my husband to restore), the pallet has gone to the woodshed and sundry boxes are earmarked for the Tip.  A bag of old sheets (well used dustsheets) are going the same way.

There are several mirrors hanging about the place and I want to take those to the Tip too, but my husband (in a cranky mood because of STILL working on the shower room, and now having to lay down to fix the wooden covers over the pipework, which has made his back and hips sore) huffily told me that "someone would want to recycle those, as mirrors are so expensive to buy" and they needed to go into auction.  Personally I don't think it's worth the bother of even cleaning them (guess whose name would be on THAT job?) let alone the time and fuel to take them for what they would fetch, but what do I know?  

More junk in the middle stable (how many empty cardboard boxes do we need?!) but a little bit of treasure as 3 Victorian solid brass wall light holders on the right . . .  But another mirror too (there were 6 in all, but one is a decent one), the remains of an upright piano - sundry bits of which ended up being dismantled for fittings (and firewood).

Itsy's old stable - 3 mirrors in here (incl. the good overmantel mirror), my husband's old weightlifting bar and weights, an ancient useless sewing machine etc.  I will go through these tomorrow, pre-Tip visit . . .

One little gem turned up - this is a candle sconce, Registered design number 60, which ties it to the Great Exhibition where such a piece of ironwork was on display.  The pretty design shows when the candle support is empty and up.

Finally - those Victorian brass lamp holders . . .

I can see one of tomorrow's jobs will be polishing . . .

Saturday 12 January 2019

Spotlight on Charm

The post heading is an old saying of my mum's (she had dozens!).  It came to mind today when I told Keith that I thought there was a lamp downstairs which had been packed to move to the "new house" (this was packed when we first decided we would have to downsize . . .)  There were two good ones, keepers, and then I found another NINE lamps and bits of lamps I had forgotten we had.  Some are commercial, others will go to auction. The antique onion glass ship's lantern above is a definite keeper.  In fact we have a red one (in stock) as well, so may keep that too . . .

This is a brand new hanging lamp which we bought when we were doing all the upstairs and outside lighting about the turn of the century.  Another keeper.

I'd forgotten we had this antique cast iron church sconce (which does have its brass oil well too and possibly a glass chimney - if one of the spares fits it.)  Its registered number shows it was made 1898/99 by a foundry called F S & Co.  It is worth selling, as it is the nicest one I have ever seen, so it will go along to the next Fair with us and if it doesn't sell, then onto Ebay.

Other sundry bits of lamp and another sconce, and there is a huge Tiffany-style modern shade wrapped in the old quilt.  Destined for Ebay/auction.

Below - a hanging lamp which has been modified to electric and has an orange glass chimney.  That's to go on Ebay too.  

A productive day as that is one entire cupboard emptied!  Tomorrow I intend to empty the pony stables and have a Trip to the Tip, and then put out there the unwanted china and non-perishable things from the Junk Room.  I have another pile of stuff for the charity shop, and two lots of books have gone to the Tesco charity table today.

Progress.  Getting rid of stuff is remarkably therapeutic - I don't have it there nagging me!!

Thursday 10 January 2019

Anniversary celebration

A short post tonight as it's time to sit and relax for the evening and I had one of those frustrating afternoons when technology and the 21st century rear their ugly heads and confound me, good and proper!  When it involves mobile phones, and setting up accounts (and then not noting down a new password!), without someone under the age of 35 in the house, then I'm a confused heap.  Anyway, Tam stepped in and helped on line and then on the phone, and we got it sorted in the end and I now have a card reader which I have an app for on my phone so I can take card payments at Fairs.  Way to go!

Anyway, above and below are photos of Leominster where we went on Tuesday for a day out to celebrate our wedding anniversary this week.  We had hoped for a pub lunch, but all that was on offer (and was open) were two chippies (one was an Iffy Chippy so we read the menu and did an about turn), or else coffee and cake. I'd have eaten cake but not for a lunchtime meal, and neither of us are coffee drinkers, and we ended up in the better chippy, where a "small" portion of chips would have heaped a dinner plate high, and we had to leave as many as we ate.  Had we known the size of the portion in advance, we'd have had one between us!  So I reckon my dearly beloved still owes me a meal out, but I won't hold him to it!

Below is the market place in Leominster, but it's not market day on a Tuesday.

Lovely - some 17th C Rhenish glazed stoneware jars and bottles.

A pair (other one out of sight) of colourful 18th C Majolica dishes with scenes from Mythology.

A truly lovely early 18th C almost primitive comb back Windsor chair - we have come home with this one if we'd had the £1200 or so price tag!

We took the scenic route home through beautiful Pembridge where just about every cottage and house is half-timbered, through Kington - good shopping centre but miles from anywhere - and then "over the top" through Brilley where there is a NT farmhouse we will be visiting in the summer, and an area where we would have moved in a flash had we discovered it sooner in our lives.  There were fabulous views across to Hay Bluff and the Black Mountains, and a lovely area of common land.

Finally, below, sunset over the Black Mountains.