Saturday 29 January 2022

Wishing for a minor miracle


I'm longing for summer again . . .

I've just realized I've not posted anything since Wednesday, so I will just put a quick note in to say that I am here, and keeping busy indoors as the weather isn't too encouraging for long cross-country walks just yet.  I'm sticking to local ones and am glad to report that so far my hips aren't complaining too much.    Now, if only I could lose 2 stone +, I would be getting up the steep hills a lot quicker, so I have been keeping a close eye on what I eat and reducing portions of main meals, and trying to cut the rice right back (I love rice dishes).  

Whilst I don't like to publish too much about personal worries on here, Keith's not been making much progress since Christmas - in fact, since seeing the Physio and being given exercises to do, unless he is careful, he goes backwards.  Overdoing things - e.g. doing just one set of exercises (he's meant to do 3) AND walking doesn't really work.  He can only do one or the other as he is just so tired all the time.  

    We went to see the GP last week, and she did blood tests (first since July in fact, when he was still on the steroids).  This time the Thyroid blood test showed borderline problems with an underactive thyroid.  When I looked up the symptoms of this, he has every one, except weight gain (but then he is a very frugal eater - wish that I could say the same of ME!)  It can also affect the cerebellum which controls balance, so may be at the bottom of the problems which have developed since being on a long course of Prednisolone.  

    The GP has given him a low dose of Thyroxine to take, which is to be reviewed with regular blood tests.  It is early days yet, but we are hoping that in a week or so he will notice a definite improvement, but I know it takes a good while to adjust and balance the right level of medication.  I will report on any progress - and am praying that it WILL show improvement and that Hypothyroidism is at the bottom of his problems.  

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Walking on History


Yesterday we needed to go to Brecon for bird food, some DMC threads (my nearest shop stocking them),and bits and pieces elsewhere, including a quick visit to Morrisons to check what plants they had - not much yet, but I did get a good pot of blue Scabious for just £3.  The pink one I planted last year has been bravely putting out flowers all winter too.  I managed to get some Voltarol at Boots for my tight IT band on my hip and that has already eased the pain, thank heavens.  It's been going on for about 6 weeks now.

The first Snowdrops in the Cathedral grounds, just putting out buds.  Such a delight to see them.

An early Piscina just inside the door.

The stunning font with its (horned? again!) Green Man with Beasties.  There was another one the same, and a Tree of Life, and some dog Latin inscription around the top - the latte engraved by someone for whom Latin was a foreign language, according to the gentleman volunteering yesterday.  At the back of the font it was all scored and broken from when Cromwell's troops took up residence in the church with their horses.

The first of two wonderful 17th C? Flemish cupboards.

The stained glass windows were beautiful.

This stunning carving was at the "modern" restored end of the Cathedral, which was derelict by the late 18th C.  Gilbert-Scott was the architect employed in the restoration and I think this dates from that time.

This is the other wonderfully carved Flemish cupboard.  What a shame I missed taking a photo of the lovely painting of the young Christ above it.

Apparently many of the gravestones within the Cathedral were once outside in the graveyard, but when the Cathedral was restored in the Victorian period, Gilbert-Scott had the ground level altered and these were all brought inside to level it.

A rather splendid effigy of Lathan Bevan dating to 1861.

Because of his connection with Titchfield in Hampshire (we used to drive through here on our way to Lee-on-Solent beach), I looked up Edward Otto Ives when we got home.  He worked for the H.E.I. Co (Honourable East India Company, as did his father who had been a Naval Surgeon).  Interestingly he lived at Ferryside in Carmarthenshire for some time too - also a little village (in Carmarthenshire) which we know well.  

This was absolutely fascinating and SUCH a link to our history. Details as below - it's where the archers from Brecon who went to Agincourt in 1415, sharpened their arrows.  How amazing is that? Cordwainers were leather workers.

Another absolutely amazing survivor is the Cresset Stone.  Never heard of one before, let alone seen one.

Here are some associated sites worth visiting:

THE COFLEIN PAGE - lots of photos of the interior - far better than mine!

WELSH TOMBS IN BRECON CATHEDRAL - a blog by Madeleine Gray which gives details about the tombstones laid into the floor.

CROSS SLABS - Interesting reading.

BRECON CATHEDRAL HISTORY - some good link here, especially the Agincourt one.  Many of the Welsh Archers came from the Brecon area.

Sunday 23 January 2022

What a DUFFER I am!


I thought I had best do a quick post as I have had friends getting in touch asking if I'm alright!  Yes, I am, only the 3rd week of January rarely has exciting things happening during it, and this week has been Somewhat Dull, and I have lost my blogging mojo rather.  In fact, I think my brain generally has been turned off.  Yesterday I checked to see when Ludlow Antiques Market was on next, 23rd January I read (it trades on 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month.)  So we got up early this morning and set off across country to Ludlow, only to find the Fair WASN'T on!  I was SO cross with myself, as we were both pretty tired from our early start - we haven't had one of those in a few months now.  Indeed, I checked the dates when we got back and it said it was last weekend, 16th!  So I don't know what the heck I read to get it so wrong. 

 Anyway, we stopped here on the way back, by way of a booby prize.  It's Aardvark Bookshop in a barn on a farm near Bucknall in Shropshire.  (Leintwardine is the next proper village).  Sadly the 2nd hand books were not the sort to take our interest, but we didn't come out empty-handed as we bought these:

The Castles one is very good, mentioning castles we've not heard of before, and the book about the Mortimers was one which Ragged Robin mentioned on her blog, and I had put on my wish list.  Well, my wish came true a little sooner than I'd expected!

        Frosty January days (and nights) just call for comfort food, so I set to earlier in the week and stewed up Blackberry and Apples, using some of my carefully-hoarded local blackberries.  Oh my, the  fragrance of those cooking took me right back to autumn.  I wanted to use up half a loaf of stale home-made bread too, so cut it into cubes and crumbed it - most going into what I shall call Friday Pudding (to fool Keith, as if I said it was bread pudding he wouldn't touch it - FATTENING!)  Anyway, it was a recipe on Jack Monroe's blog   I got THERE because Thelma on her North Stoke blog had mentioned Jack Monroe ranting about the price of food staples shooting up - well of course, there is less margin for keeping prices low when the selling price is closer to the buying price.  Expensive M&S meals don't go up because that margin is so much bigger.  Anyway, I HAVE to recommend this pudding - and even Keith is really enjoying it!!  I have told him it is simply fruit with a few breadcrumbs mixed in, so SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!  I used frozen raspberries I had in my freezer, plus a few spoonfuls of the blackberry and apple I had stewed along with the half a pint of water to bind it together, and then I pushed lots of big blackberries into the top and gently smoothed the breadcrumb mixture over.  This is the first time in this house that I have seen a recipe and been inspired to make it straight away! I think I am rather down because of worrying about Keith's health - he saw the GP last week and had some blood tests, so we'll see what they say.

With electricity prices heading for the moon, I am trying to make the most of the oven when I have it on, so here we are - blackberry and apple pie slung in a dish, Friday Pudding and a good tray of breadcrumbs made from the stale crusts.

Keith with his personal lap warmer, Alfie.

Progress has been made on my Widecombe picture. Now I am on some slightly longer runs of the same colour whilst I am working on the church - known as the Cathedral of the Moor.  It dates from the 14th C and is dedicated to St Pancras, so always makes me think of the railway station of that name!  It also makes me think of The Great Thunderstorm there in 1638, when it was struck by ball lightening which struck through the roof and rolled down the aisle, killing several of the parishioners worshipping there. 

    Well, having written that I am going in to relax and sew some more whilst watching the Sunday afternoon racing.

Monday 17 January 2022

Through the mountains and on to the edge of the world


We couldn't have wished for nicer weather today - clear blue skies, but shivery-cold at home this morning, where we had quite a hard frost.  Tam needed to go to see her boyfriend J in Aberystwyth, but her car was going in for repair today, so she dropped it off early and we drove her to Aber.  I couldn't stop in the Cambrian Mountains to take views as there weren't lay-byes where the best views were and the valley bottoms were dark and chill still.

Anyway, we managed to get some sea air, and a bite to eat, and parked down on the South Beach and enjoyed being by the sea again.  The houses were all painted bright cheerful colours and who can blame them?  In the background is the remains of Aberystwyth Castle.

It was actually really warm by the sea (though it had been very cold first thing, J told us).  K was not at his most energetic, so sat in the car, soaking up the sun and the sea view, whilst Tam and I had a walk up to the end of the Prom and I took photos.

HERE is a link to the castle history. Any stone castles usually replace earlier ones made from wood and Aberystwyth was no exception.  Built by Edward 1 in 1277, and part of a circle of castles - others being Rhuddlan, Flint and our own Builth castle, Aberystwyth was an example of a concentric castle - walls within walls - to protect the soldiers holding the castle safely as they could hold it against any attack as they would be firing down on men in a killing zone. It was diamond-shaped with towers in the corners.  Sadly, not much of the castle remains so on the ground it is hard to understand just how strong and important it was in its hayday.

The gracile lighthouse stands at the Southern end of the promenade.

We spotted 4 of these amongst the seaweed on the beach, searching for something edible.  I think they are Rock Pipits.  Apparently their numbers are swollen during the winter months with visitors from Norway.

This is the rocky hill to the south of the town - think it is Pen Dinas Hill fort.

Sunday 16 January 2022

Having to dig deep for my mojo today

 I slept badly last night - awake from 3 to 6 a.m. then sleeping on till 1/4 to 10 and waking up still shattered.  I did not feel like doing ANYTHING, and this morning I largely sat around and put a few more stitches in my Widecomb x-stitch - which takes concentration and mine was walkabouts!  

Then I decided to sort out some embroidery things to sell on Ebay, as I had a reduced listing weekend and far too much unused embroidery floss (I mainly use DMC nowadays).  I've not got to the embroidery thread listings yet, but I have listed partly-worked x-stitch projects/charts as it is obvious that I have far too many things to  sew and too few years left (e.g. I probably have 30 years' worth of projects, at least!! including patchwork).  

This is staying - this Devon village needs the final bits sown (by the bridge and the side of the cream cottage) but got abandoned when I Went Wrong and lost heart with it.  A shame as it truly is the most beautiful design and really reminds me of my Devon roots.

Here is as far as I have gotten with the Widecombe picture.  I was getting confused with it so have decided to thread up several needles with the colours for one area and then sew a stitch at a time and do the rows that way.

Tam cooked tea tonight - this is a Sausage casserole with tomatoes, green lentils, sweet potatoes, leeks and courgette.  Really tasty and rib-sticking.

Here are a few of the things listed on Ebay in case anyone's interested:

This is called "Friends" - Tam said just as well I never finished it as she thinks the raggedy dolls look spooky!

Black is not easy to work on, but this little cat was coming on well when he got abandoned.  I needed a craft light but I think at the time I couldn't afford one.

This comes complete with the partly worked design on Aida.  I got as far as the centre of the quilt on grandma's lap and a bit of her clothing.

A bit of me wants to keep this and sew it (it's not too difficult a chart, big runs of the same colour) but it's time.  I am just not going to live long enough to tackle all the projects I want to do!!

Right, time for a bath now and back to some sewing.

Friday 14 January 2022

A wonky tree in freezing fog . . . and telly


We've had freezing fog nearly all week.  I managed these photos, looking out of the bathroom window, before the sun finally burned through and melted some of the trees.

This wonkey fir tree (Monkey Puzzle?) is quite a landmark.  It certainly stands head and shoulders above all the other trees down the valley.

I went out for a short walk up the hill.  These are holly bushes in our paddock nearest the lane, and the frost had really embellished them.  They looked like variegated Holly.

Frost had embellished the spiders' hard work too.

Low cloud above the river, though the colour of it looks to be quite grey rather than the usual white of the river mist.  I'll blame the chimney at the quarry.

Field margin with woodland, as I began to climb.  The Silver Birches are quite ethereal clad in frost.

The cold side of the hill!  Frost still hanging around at gone 2 p.m.

Looking down into town, these buildings are at the showground.  The white ones on the right, a little taller, are currently used as the vaccination centre.  They give a fabulous view of the main ring and each time I've been, I wished that the Royal Welsh Show was on!

Final photo, looking across to Aberedw. 

Each day this week I have intended to start painting the Hot Pink bedroom.  Each day I struggle to find the energy.  Tomorrow, I am telling myself.  I keep sleeping long long hours (10 or 11 each night) so I obviously need a bit more sleep right now.  Having the wooden shutters inside the bedroom windows (which help keep the room warm, as they are very large windows) keeps the light out too.  When it warms a bit I shall revert to pulling the curtains and be woken by the light.

    After my walk today I sat down with my sewing and did a bit more x-stitch as we watched I Escaped to the Country, which was a very good one today, showing the journey of two chaps who had been living and working in the East End of London (VERY different from the dark days when K's g. grandfather lived in Poplar - when he married his Yorkshire wife, she hated it there and went back to Yorkshire a.s.a.p.)  They wanted to move to Suffolk (and indeed already had a weekend cottage there).  However, 5 or more years on, they finally ended up in the most beautiful manor house in Norfolk, and ran a lucrative holiday lets business in converted outbuildings.  All done in the best possible taste and very expensively by the look of it.

    We enjoy documentaries too, and have been watching the recent new series of The Witcher, and now a new season of A Discovery of Witches is on so we are watching a new episode each evening.  We need to catch up on University Challenge, and enjoy more rewatching of The Detectorists, and another Tam said we'd enjoy, Hunderby.  Saturday afternoons are racing, so I shall settle down with my x-stitch then.