Sunday 30 June 2019

BARBEE - here's that Aquilegia photo for you

I hope that this was the one you loved Barbee.  Shout out if not!

Meanwhile, we trotted round the car boot sale this morning and bought some things for the next Fair, plus - and this is going no further than ME - an unfinished quilt top and some fabrics to finish it with, plus a couple of useful lengths of cotton fabric to use on another project.  There were more not-useful-to-me fabrics which were just bunged in so those will go to the charity shop. The colours on this quilt are better when seen close to rather than through a camera lens.

So, this is a little project to keep me busy.  Although I do have a couple of other unfinished hexagon quilts I've picked up which are also waiting in the wings. . .

Tam has now gone home now and I am fast disappearing under a pile of paperwork to allow me to rewrite a Heritage Statement as we want to change the access here . . .

Later . . . I thought I was doing well in the breathing department but I have taken a hit this afternoon - peak flow down a bit but chest is feeling tight.  I normally last an hour or two after my inhaler is due but not today.  We'll see how I am tomorrow - still hoping to avoid the steroids if I can.  Doing the car boot sale yesterday probably raised the histamine levels and being out early today added to them.

Oh, and remember the work on the root canal earlier in the week, when it all got redrilled, cleaned out and I am to return in August?  Well, I think I may be back there a good bit sooner than that as I have a return of the puffiness of the gum above it, as if an abscess is brewing.  Deep joy!

Saturday 29 June 2019

Bats, bees and baking

Well, we are on with the agent now.  (The Smallholding Centre if you want to be nosy).  All we can do is keep on top of keeping it clean and tidy and W.A.I.T.  That last word is the hardest part.  Everyone loves it but not everyone can afford it.  This is our final move and we need every penny we can get . . .  A little will come in from selling the furniture we will not have room for, but that will only pay for part of our removal costs.  Anyway, I hope to find private buyers (and better prices) for some pieces and am going to take photos of everything we have for sale, make up a catalogue and take them to the next Fair.

We went and saw friends in Hay again yesterday, and viewed a property whilst we were over that way.  It was very much in the style we favour and would work on many levels, though there are  a couple of stumbling blocks regarding WHERE it is.  Tam is being very encouraging though, but of course it depends if it's still around when we are in a position to buy.

Whilst we were out and about, we stopped a little while at Bredwardine Church, where the Rev. Francis Kilvert was buried.  He was the incumbent at the time of his premature death at 38 from a ruptured appendix and peritonitis.  He wrote wonderful diaries, still being published, although sadly much of his writing was destroyed by a family member (may actually have been his widow in her later years).

Over a blocked doorway is an intriguing carving, possibly 12th C.  The right hand figure looks very like a monkey, but some consider it to be like a Sheelah-naa-gig - though not obviously so in the normal way! The left hand figure looks to me to be rather like a bird-headed man, such as you find on some Pictish stones.

Kilvert called this door "the Devil's door" . . . and elsewhere it is mentioned that this is a half-humanfigure with its tongue out (like the Devil in a similar representation at Hereford cathedral, some 12 miles away).  The other figure is considered to be a woman with a "fanciful head-dress" and two clear nude breasts, and could be Luxuria - connected with the vice of Lust.  See LINK.

Looking across the orchard from the church.

The new header photo shows the orientation of this tomb - possibly on the gap between the end of Hay Bluff and the hill (must see which one it is) to the left of it. 

The bats, the bees and the baking?  Well, Tam always asks when she arrives, "There are no bats around are there?" as in the summer we occasionally have one in the house.  August is the usual time, when windows are open etc.  Anyway, I said "No, too early." Damn me if there wasn't an eldritch shriek when she went upstairs the night she arrived - a bat was about.  It made its way into our room and we had to get up, open the window, and wait for it to make its escape.

The bees - well, they found their way into the house AGAIN, and the attic was full of them when we returned yesterday.  Most of them dead on the floor, sadly, but we let out the ones who were still alive.  Can't find out where they came in, but I have just gone around and vacuumed them all up (we were out at a car boot sale earlier and didn't get back till after lunch).

Baking - I tried a new-to-me recipe for Energy Bars.  They are tasty, filling but too crumbly so I shall have to try again with more honey/oil mixture.  Recipe to follow.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Time to bite the bullet

Yesterday was a day off for us.  The weather was kind although too humid for my tastes - that always affects my breathing.  We set out to view another property, along the Welsh Marches proper this time, in an area we hadn't ever visited.

All I can say is that the area we drove through and eventually stopped at was just breathtaking.  The house was in a fabulous setting, beautifully done up and we could move in without needing to do anything bar add a bigger shed outside for storage.  A smaller house than absolutely ideal, but enough to stop us in our tracks and think, what would we have to jettison to downsize that much?  I mean, how many bits of furniture do we really need?  We went through our house this morning and easily 2/3 of what we have could go.  Along with half a million books and 9/10 of my wool stash . . .

We went for a little walk up the track behind the house, and it didn't disappoint.  Cat paradise . . .

More lovely views.

Trackway back.

A neighbour's roses.

Then the drive back through lovely countryside with wonderful views everywhere.

Both this and the other house we have seen (which Keith prefers as it is larger) are contenders. Our house still hasn't been put up on the Agent's website so I shall phone them this afternoon and see when we might expect it to go on.  Of course, this is all academic as we could languish on the market . . . but one lives in hope.  You are probably shaking your head and thinking, why don't they wait until they are under offer?  Well, sensible though it might be, we like to know what is out there and explore the possibilities of new areas and deciding just which compromises we would be prepared to make.

I had some heavy duty dentistry this morning (though it wasn't as bad as I had feared).  He drilled through a molar crown to investigate a possible infection brewing in a blocked? root canal.  I have had it cleaned out, X-rayed twice, a dressing put in and the crown patched and don't go back until August.  I am giving myself an hour or two off this afternoon to settle down with a good book.  Then I need to get a steak and kidney casserole on in the slow cooker as Tam arrives at teatime to stay for a few days.  I have shut the door on the ironing mountain . . .

Monday 24 June 2019

A Dealer's Day Off

. . . which isn't really a day off at all of course, as it involved the long journey to Malvern to visit the Antiques Fair there.  We didn't need to be up at the first Sparrow's fa*t though and set off at 7.30.  The countryside along our route is so beautiful and it was a pleasure to be driving through it.

There were quite a few outdoor stalls there this time - dozens more than when we went last year.  I spotted this colourful hexagon quilt and couldn't resist a photo.

Above and below: on the same stall, some beautifully worked Victorian/Edwardian pieces of needlework.  I loved the crazy patchwork above, but some of the satins on the other side of it were very frayed from age.

Inside wasn't very interesting (for us) this time - some nice things on offer but the stalls were quite a bit different - not such quality items (sorry folks) as last year, or when we did it a couple of years back - I think people aren't spending and so dealers drop out and ones come in with lesser stuff that they hope will sell.  It's happening up and down the country and we have certainly noticed with potential customers that arms are shorter and pockets deeper!

I took this photo of the Simon Leach bowl so I will recognize it if I see if going cheap anywhere!!  I have some John Leach pieces on my top table at the moment, but they're not going to fly out I don't think.  

An unusual little lidded jug which, considering the vendor only put a price on and no description, wasn't going to tempt me any more than a photo to remind me to look it up out of curiosity.  £36 seemed a little steep.

I've seen this artist's work before here - very Faery and Fae and Tolkien.

A general view of a stall which had some lovely dolls and children's things on.  The Dealer's elbow is on a box with several little old dolls in - small ones - but I didn't take a photo as they were behind glass.

Anyway, fingers crossed, my asthma is not TOO bad at present.  OK today, but I was rough last night and had to have extra medication but then that got everything under control.  Long may it stay that way.

Saturday 22 June 2019

All done and dusted!

I think I shall sleep well tonight!  Keith went off to clear some of the contents of his workshop at the car boot sale, so I got up when he did and put in another 3 hours' housework (I know how to have fun!!)  I picked a little posy from the garden and popped it into my big Scandy Torquay jug, then set to and baked a batch of Blackberry and Apple Muffins to dress the table, and offer to the Agent (who ate two and was sent home with another four to save me from temptation!)

The sun has shone all day and the Agent took all the necessary photos, and his daughter will come and measure up for the floor plan next week.  We should be up and selling on Monday.  The Agent loves our house, so I am hoping his enthusiasm will help to find a new owner.  

Above and below: close ups of Vielchenblau - love the stripey petals. 

I shall have to get some more compost tomorrow and some more "instant colour" in the way of plants to dot around the borders to fill the gaps where plants have bloomed and been cut back.  The Geums will flower again and the next flush of roses will soon be out, but it's a bit green out there today.  Fortunately Paul's Himalayan Musk is out right across the garden and has stolen the show.

A day of rest tomorrow I think . . .

Thursday 20 June 2019

Wearier than a weary thing

One of the first tentative blooms on Raubritter.

Today didn't go as planned.  First of all after I woke at 4 a.m. for the loo, I couldn't get back to sleep again, so at half past 4 I got up, came downstairs and started work on making a curtain to go under the draining board down in what was mum's kitchen. The old one had been temporary and was very shabby.  I can hide a box of books behind this now!  Having ironed the hems top and bottom and pinned them, I crept upstairs into my sewing room and shut the door, as I didn't want to wake Keith.  The curtain was soon made and looks really pretty, plus it lightens a dark corner.

The slate sink which came from the Dairy room next door was utilised as a draining board.  Sadly the idiots doing the work on this house at the time managed to break the other two . . .  It was a Council Grant, hence we didn't get to chose the builders . . .  The big Belfast sink and stand came from an architectural salvage place that used to be down in Haverfordwest (with a lot more stuff back at the old house he lived in.)  We have lots of memories of going on foraging expeditions there, for stuff we needed for the house.  We never know that yellow terracotta floor tiles were hard to come by until we needed some to mend the hall floor . . .

Here is the wall I painted this afternoon.  This was NOT on the plans.  It had been pale green.  I touched up a couple of flaked spots with - I thought - the same green.  It wasn't and a search revealed none in the shed either. So it had to be white instead - Earthborne clay paint as it's a breathing wall (backs on to the clay and slate bedrock) - and it was like painting with Treacle - it's a thick paint anyway, and the paint which was already on there quickly sucked the moisture out, plus the wall was slightly rough so I had to keep going over and then needed a torch to see which bits I had missed.  That took all afternoon in between dashing up to watch individual races at the Ascot meeting.

Last week I had to repaint the panels the other side in green Earthborne clay paint because I thought that was what I had used before, but no - one panel in I realized I had made an Error!  It went on darker and dried darker . . .  So I had to paint all the panels.  Neither of these jobs was on the cards!  Nor was oiling all the tiles and slate floors, which I also did recently.  

Anyway, I also managed some sweeping in the yard (more to do tomorrow) and a tiny bit of weeding, but I made sure I didn't go outside without a mask on, and when I had finished I came in and changed my clothes for non-pollened ones, and washed my hair.  That's the way in the summer - hair-washing every day, change clothes on coming inside after working or being out, all clothes, towels and bedding to be dried inside.  No sitting out enjoying the sunshine (which is just about to arrive I understand).  I am really trying to avoid having to go on steroids this summer, so fingers crossed.

10 days of rain has rather spoiled the roses, but you can see the changing colours of Vielchenblau.  The palest one just about to go over.  Such a sweet little flower and lots of blooms to come.

Right, I think I deserve to lay in the bath with a good book now . . .

Teetering on the brink . . .

I managed to put my back out again, when moving boxes at the Fair last weekend (well, probably moving them when I was in the Junk Room on Saturday, sorting out what to take to Sunday's fair.  I have had to take Ibuprofen, which I try to avoid because it can have an impact on my asthma, but the inflammation and pain deemed it necessary.  

Then yesterday morning I woke up with Sciatica and had to go for a walk to try and walk it off.  As the pollen levels are starting to rise, I haven't been walking as it means breathing more deeply, especially climbing up our steep hill.  I have been gardening though.  I went down by the river and it did help to stretch my legs.  Not sure if I dare do it today as pollen levels have gone up a notch and are High now.  Stupidly yesterday evening I decided to put the big pile of spent Geum (and non-flowering grass stems) I had cut from the border and left in a huge pile on the lawn, into the wheelbarrow.  I think it had a lot of pollen on it from the atmosphere, and I was quite poorly last night.  The Air Purifier helps though and I have had to reach for the Actifed again - just half a tablet when I really need it, but it does the trick.  It is this time of the year when the spectre of more Steroids looms - let's hope I can avoid them this year.

I can't identify this grass (I'm still checking my Wild Grasses book and online) but here it is again with a Ladybird!

Hurtling over the rocks, the water generates so much energy and I love to watch the spume that's thrown up.

Peaceful sidewaters . . .

Above and below: I think this is Hemlock Water Dropwort, growing in the wet ditch at the edge of the lane.

Common Vetch (also known as Poor Man's Peas, apparently).  

Looking up the river . . .

The agent is coming on Saturday to take photos, so we need to tidy up part of the yard in front of the barn.  

We have been trying to get hold of local companies to a) help with gardening - mowing the side lawn which used to be the paddock, and doing some strimming for us, and b) clean the guttering inside and out.  You would think they didn't want the work.  Getting a guttering man out here is not easy . . .  Hopefully the one we've just spoken to will turn up to give a quote next Tuesday - the one who for two weeks running was going to come out, never turned up.  You would think they wanted the work - or at any rate, the money!

Monday 17 June 2019

Not the best of weekends . . .

Rosa versicolour - Rosa mundi - a Gallica rose, widely grown in Provence.  It dates back prior to 1600 and possibly named after "Fair Rosamund", the mistress of Henry II (12th C).

I am sure I remember reading somewhere that it was brought back from the Middle East by Crusaders, but this may be pure romance.  Anyway, it has a corner in my garden here and is blooming beautifully, despite the constant RAIN.

Work is still in charge of us here, as we do the little jobs outside ready for the photos to be taken this week. 

The weekend was a frustrating one.  We loaded the car on Friday, ready for a car boot sale Saturday, but woke up to rain.  Keith said it was due to clear and by 7 a.m. it had stopped, so - having dragged ourselves out of bed (we just wanted to SLEEP, which always seems to be the case when you HAVE to get up) we set off - a 50 mile round trip as NOTHING here is local, only to find it cancelled due to the weather . . .  I should have checked their Facebook page.

On Sunday we were standing at the local Fleamarket (only 10 miles off!) but the building was half-empty as dealers have been deciding to go elsewhere as buying so poor here - folk come through with short arms and deep pockets, and only spend their money unquestioningly on overpriced tea, coffee and cake . . .  In fact, the coffee-only stand is no longer there as they deemed it not worthwhile for them!  It's been steadily going downhill the last 2 years but the people running it keep putting the entrance price up. 

The moment I walked in the building I knew there had been the Young Farmer's show the day before as the building was full of dust from hay and straw - which I am VERY allergic to.  I felt my lungs react instantly, but when I questioned the people running it, the woman lied her back teefs out and said there had only been honey and eggs inside the building.  Yeah, one heck of an amount of honey and eggs! - and perhaps that was why there were still bits of straw about on the floor and black spray outlines of cattle hooves . . .  I sent Keith out to get some strong anti-histamines which are the only things which work for me. 

Even so, I knew I was pushing my luck and with the spectre of More Steroids looming, I began to pack up about 2.30 - tbh, there wasn't much point in staying as there were only about a dozen cars in the car park by then. 

At 3.10 p.m. I was wrapping up my best china/glass (I took a Botanic Gardens box by mistake and of course, no-one even LOOKED at any of it), a woman who had only just arrived (it's free after 3 p.m.) accosted me because "the Fair was meant to go on until 4 o'clock " - so how dare I pack up early?  I told her I was unwell and going home early, so there!  What a blardy cheek - we'd been there since 7.30 and she can't be bothered to turn up until 3. Everyone was packing up by then.  If she was still there at 4 p.m. she'd have been on her own!

Anyway, we may just draw a line under that Fair for the future - it just isn't worth going there, though we will miss the fellow traders who are good friends of ours.

I spent a very poor night on Sunday, my breathing was bad and I had SUCH a sore back - looks like I shall be back at the Chiropractors this week, if I can get an appt.  I can't sit down, which makes life difficult!  However, breathing more or less back to normal and steroids still in cupboard . . .

Finally, in the Damson tree (which supports all manner of bird life, winter and summer), is a little Black Cap baby.  The parents were fossicking around in the tree for food a week ago, and now here is one of their just-fledged balls of fluff.  The orb, by the way, isn't an orb, just dirt on my kitchen window!

Saturday 15 June 2019

A day off - and checking out a house

We had a long-overdue and much-needed day out yesterday.  On the way, we visited the planning office of the Council for information regarding our driveway relocation and they were very helpful.  Then we went to view a property we REALLY liked the look of - and no details as I really don't want to hex anything as we fell in love with the house.  It ticked every box bar the space for Keith's "stuff" although there is a shed outside.

After our viewing we explored a bit - you know, those little narrow lanes going off into the hills and enticing you away from the sensible routes.  You can see it was well worth exploring - the Black Mountains are such a stunning area.

As you can see, the little lane was just one car width - we're used to that in Wales.

The rain held off, although the clouds were pretty spectacular.  

A bit of history on the way - I'm still trying to translate it, but I gave my Latin dictionary to the charity shop earlier this year (always the way) and can't read all of the words on this stone, which was close to a ruined chapel.

Then into Hay for lunch.  I couldn't resist a peep into the wee garden behind one of the shops, which is so tranquil with the sound of running water (left).  Whilst we went in Booths, I wasn't tempted to buy any books, and saved my money to spend some in the garden centre on the way home.  Photos from the garden on should appear on here on Monday.