Wednesday 28 February 2024

A wailing and gnashing of teefs!

Late afternoon sunshine on my walk the other evening.

Oh this little quilt is driving me nutso.  By the time I get to start work on it, having done all the chores (which take hours), I am already tired and I am on the last row, which seems to have all the duff blocks in it, meaning I have to take the stitch ripper to all of them. I just want it finished! 

Yesterday's sunrise was actually a lot more colourful but the only rosy one I took was through a filthy window.  (Result of having roof scraped).

Looks a bit more like with a different setting (the artists' palette one on my camera).  

A busy day today - Emma, little "I" and I are going to a Mosaic making class at Wyeside Arts Centre in town this morning, then off to Brecon for a change to do the Food Shopping this afternoon.  Danny will be here for Keith of course.  They won't have to cook tonight as I made a big Spicy Lentil and Vegetable stew which has a cheese scone cobbler topping.  Enough for two meals for them all, and the stew made enough for another which I have frozen.

Monday 26 February 2024

A very special family day

 We were celebrating Tam's pregnancy, and Gabby insisted she had a Baby Shower.  She opened the gifts from us here at the house (Gabby had bought on my behalf as that was easiest for me).  The baby clothes brought tears to my eyes and made the coming birth (around a month away) seem real for the first time.  I have been constantly distracted by caring for and worrying about Keith so it's all gone on over my shoulder, so to speak.

Then we met up for lunch in Rhayader.  Various friends and family.  The two respective grannies at the far end.  First grandchild for both of us.  She's sat next to Ellie, one of Tam's best friends from school days.  I'm sat next to one of Tam's friends from Aber (whose name evades me), then Tam, and then Emma.  "I" came too and was very good and made a conquest with the young man playing on the kitchen  toy.

I am the shrunken one on the right!!  I think I just had the lowest chair :)

Gabs and I.

My two gorgeous daughters.

Tam smiling at some gorgeous soft toys.

Shattered now as I have been very hard at work all morning (6 hours) - cat litter - two trips out to empty the tub as it was full from yesterday compost caddy emptied and washed; two lots of washing - one D&E's as they are away today, so eleventy odd socks to hang up again; taking car down to get new wiper blades fixed as the old ones had shredded, and I got the paper and sorted out a prescription at the same time; lots of recycling and taking a heavily laden wheelie bin for a walk to the end of the lane.  Plus helping Keith with his breakfast and lunch and emptying a Georgian drain (which are very basic soakaways and soon get blocked.)

Now, back to sewing that crawler quilt.  Blocks roughly laid out on the bed.  Only definite was the darkest ones each became corner blocks.  First two rows sewn up and looking good.

Sunday 25 February 2024

A family day out


Well, it happened - we got Keith to the Botanic Gardens Antiques Fair and went around for 3 hours.  We took both the Mobility Scooter and the wheelchair, as I wasn't sure how sore his neck was. He wanted to use the scooter, but worried me when he said if we got up to the Fair and his neck was too sore, we could bring it back and get the wheelchair instead.  Being the one who has to (laboriously) put the ramps up to load  and unload, I said the wheelchair was the better option - especially as I could see he was struggling to hold his head up after the journey there.  I felt a heel, but it worked out well in the end and we had a lovely family day out.  Tam came along, and of course D/E/I were there too.  The latter ended up buying a smashing painted Indian warrior horse (photo to follow).  I only bought a Vintage heavy brass greyhound (again, photo to follow).   Keith bought a few military related things and saw his friends and had a great time, though I think he probably slept well last night as it was a long tiring day for him.

Sorry - I took the camera, but left it in the car, so you will have to make do with two photos Tam took with her phone for me .  These are the two things I would have liked to have brought home.

Anyway, great excitement here because it's Tamzin's Baby Shower, and she's about to open her presents here (tears when I saw them!! Gabby went shopping for me).  Then we're off to Rhayader for a meal and to meet up with the others.  Back anon.

Friday 23 February 2024

What a lovely surprise :)

Nearly forgot - we had a brilliant evening yesterday.  Vanya was set on a farm in 20th C Ireland, rather than Russia.  Andrew Scott was a true tour-de-force - how can anyone learn their lines and act half a dozen different characters non-stop for 2 hours?  He was so convincing I kept expecting the characters to step through the door on the set!  If you get the chance to see this by satellite at a cinema near you, do so as you will enjoy it.  One of the reviews (The Standard) called "this one-man Vanya is a revelation and a sensation" and described it as a tragi-comedy.  Emma and I had a glass of wine from the bar, and then waited for Danny in one of the pubs in town and had another.  I slept well last night (indeed, I wasn't in bed till nearly midnight).

I had to go to Crossgates today to pick up a baby changing trolley for Tam.  Of course, she knew I would go on to the Plant Nursery afterwards.  I needed seed compost, general compost, and some more Alpines  (4 Albrieta) to go along the steps and a Rosemary plant.  Emma wants to grow herbs, so this is a starter for her.  We'll put it in a pot in the yard, which is very sunny - no, I'll rephrase that, it's south-facing!  Sun has been at a premium here recently.  I met a lovely lady at the nursery who had moved here 3 months ago from Midhurst in Sussex.  She said forlornly, "It's rained every day since we got here" but the Nursery owner and I both reassured her that it didn't normally rain this much in Powys, and last May and June we'd had a heatwave with not a drop of rain for two months.  

Weather is weather - difficult to predict and not much fun when it's too cold/hot/wet.  Think what it was like in the Little Ice Age and they had Frost Fairs on the Thames - the latest one of those was in 1814.  Then that dreadful storm surge down the East Coast in 1953.  The Somerset Levels regularly have regularly flooded from time immemorial, and HERE is a looooong list of freak weather and flashfloods in Wales down the centuries.

Anyway when I got home, I found that Emma had done all the housework, including washing the kitchen floor and cleaning all the cat bowls, cleaning the very grubby windows on the French windows, vacuuming, dusting - what a delight.  She and Danny make our life much easier.

A not very sharp photo of L.Whale last summer. The kittens always seem to hog the limelight.

We are hoping Keith will be ok to go to the Botanic Gardens Antiques Fair tomorrow.  We have the mobility scooter on charge - but we had to break into Keith's workshop to do so, as the keys to the padlock had gone missing.  I went through all my pockets, but no.  Any tools to cut through the chain or the padlock were - naturally - inside the workshop!  Danny was trying to cut through the padlock handle with a hacksaw (highway to nowhere!) but I had a brainwave and got a big claw hammer from the tools in the house and went for the weakest link - a blacksmith-made staple from over 130 years ago when the stables were built.  The wood gave - just the long spikes of the staple bent a little and we have kept it.  Straighten out the prongs and it's good to go for another 130 years! So, we got in and the mobility scooter is on charge now.  We shall of course, find the keys tomorrow!

Pippi and little "I".  Her mum gave me permission to use the photo.

Thursday 22 February 2024

An evening out tonight!

The new Witch-hazel

 Emma very kindly treated me to an outing tonight.  We are going to the cinema in town to see "Vanya", based on Chekov's Uncle Vanya.  It's a National Theatre production, screened live.  Danny will chauffeur us so we can have a drink, and sort Keith out for bed for me.  I won't know myself!

D, E & I have gone out for a walk across the fields (my favourite walk over towards the little church) to see The Fairy Tree with I. It has all sorts of nooks and crannies in it where the fairies might live.

I have put the crawler quilt back in the bag till tomorrow.  All the blocks are sewn and squared off and the top two rows sewn in lines of 5.  STILL more airtime for the stitch ripper.  I have NEVER made more mistakes in any quilt before, but it is hard with "noises off" and "I" 's screaming dolly.  Thank heavens her mum found the off button! You need concentration for sewing.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Thrown in at the deep end

 Well, when grannies say much as they love their grandchildren, they are glad to be able to give them back, I know understand exactly what they mean.  My goodness, an enjoyable couple of days, but little ones want every second of your attention.  Yesterday I got off lightly and we did some gardening together, and then went bird watching - well, we took my mobile which has the Merlin bird ID app on it, which counts as the same thing.  Today I started off tired and decided to do the grocery shopping as the weather forecast for tomorrow sounded diabolical and I think we will all be glad to be housebound :)  Keith's been "off" again today so we got him up to bed early before Danny left to pick Emma up.

Pippi says Amazon delivery bags are for CATS.

So "I" and I went off to Llandod.  I parked up and "I" and I went to look in the charity shop - of course she found a little Barbie light up handbag (50p) so she came home with that.  I got more Gutermann thread for sewing the quilt - thought I would have 500m this time - which cost £8.40!  Hopefully that will last a while and I shall buy it more cheaply online another time or get it when I go to Doughty's in Hereford next (the quilting shop). It's nearly £2 cheaper there.  Then round Aldi with two shopping lists and a little person who hoped for Pizza and Ice Cream and Biscuits - and more that wasn't on Danny's shopping list!   Then to Tesco where I managed to concentrate on my shopping list and at least I knew where to look for things in there - Danny's stuff had had to be hunted down and was not on my usual wavelength of purchases.  "I" was very good and obedient and funny, but tiring.  We had a car picnic with a Tesco lunch deal - I had the sarnies and she had crisps and a Rainbow smoothie drink.

Once home we had fun as she is learning her alphabet and Danny had wondered if she could perhaps learn to spell her name before going to school.  She copied out the letters a bit haphazardly but her "A" is excellent.  She's a quick learner.  She made me laugh when she came and told me that "Pippi is dreaming of mice"! which I thought pretty clever for a 4 yr old.

I've just finished watching a film Danny and I began watching last night (I bowed out 45 minutes before the end because I was tired).  It's very good and on Netflix, and I can recommend it though it is a bit mind-bothering - think modern Hitchcock thriller.  It's called Last Night in Soho.  Look it up and see if it's for you, but although it's spooky in a way and provoking, it's really well directed.  Has Terrance Stamp, Diana Rigg and Rita Tushingham in it too.

My Amazon delivery contained new rotary cutter blades, and a set of 4 different sized square quilting rulers - a good investment I think.

Trying to stay awake now until Danny and Emma get back from Carmarthen.  Raining again out there, so a pitch black night, and I hate to think of them on the bit of road round the Sugarloaf.  I will sleep well once they are safely home.

Sunday 18 February 2024

Still here but very busy

 I'm working on the Crawler Quilt for Tam's baby (must get out of the habit of calling baby Rosie Posie as she may well be called something other than Rosina (a family name on both sides).  Anyway, I couldn't sleep in the night, so came downstairs and made more blocks.  Just 3 to go now.  D, E & I have been outside till rain stopped play.  My new

apple tree is planted and just needs staking up, and my Hamamelis is also in on the bank and looks perfect.  I must remember to put the gooseberry in today too.  I can dig that hole myself though (Danny did the others).

They've been out cleaning windows for me (the roof scouring was followed by copious water which made the windows filthy), tidying up in the summerhouse, trying to get the damp-warped door off to plane it (but it needs easing oil on the screws), and sweeping up leaves by the pond (which has enormous mounds of frogspawn, laid this week as when I checked earlier last week, none there).  They are going to scrub the loose paint (silver) off the big Buddha statue by the pond and repaint it bronze, and also paint the summerhouse for me.  Part of the bottom triangle can be their garden for veg.  We'll share the polytunnel for salad veg.  Emma wants to grow herbs so plenty of room for those here and the yard is south-facing so gets lots of sun.  This is their first proper weekend day home and they are enjoying it.

Friday 16 February 2024

Yer Tiz . . . (West Country for Here it is)


Empty for the moment.  Excuse me whilst I take a quick PhD in how to construct greenhouse staging.  In China, it is apparently easier to use self-tapping screws and a piece of metal with a narrow strip of metal inside it that the screws fix into.  I had been looking at it the other way up - blank strip with one hole either end and nothing to attach the shorter cross strips to and I had screws with no nuts and those shorter strips of metal with holes.  Hmmm, lots of head scratching and I had to go to Caerfagu to look at their greenhouse and staging (Vitavia one, just like mine, and it's where I bought my greenhouse from).  I took photos (not trusting my memory).

So, round two will be tomorrow . . .   I have two of them.

Yesterday was a real struggle for Keith as he was barely able to get around and I really feared I might not get him safely to bed.  Anyway, we managed somehow and I had some wine to calm my nerves afterwards, and watched some tv programmes I like - I defer to Keith most of the time although I generally enjoy what he is watching (antiques progs) but some of his films are a bit blood-thirsty and there's a limit to how many Lovejoy programmes I can cope with!  

I had a lovely morning out in the garden and started planting up the alpines down the big stone steps at the side of the house.  I put all 7 plants in.  I had half a bag of topsoil left which I used as a base, popped the plants in - the biggest ones on the corners of the steps where they met the wall - and then topped up with compost and laid some stone fragments against them to hold the soil in place.  I'll get some bigger pieces from the edge of the paddock - remnants of a stone trackway from the stables up to the Big House, dug up when we had some of the paddock levelled.  

Then it came on to rain so I came indoors and sewed half a dozen patchwork blocks.  Tonight I shall applique some more of the Beatrix Potter figures in the centres of them.  It's coming together nicely.  Whilst I sewed, I listened to "Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone", which I have in hardback but didn't get very far reading it as too many calls on my time.  It was lovely to listen to it as I worked.

I have to say, I would prefer to have Danny & Emma here of an evening, but this was all booked last year, before they knew they were going to move here. 

I shall be glad to sit down and rest tonight as I had such a busy morning - putting several lots of washing on, and hanging it up, taking dry laundry upstairs, ironing various bits, making up "I"'s bed and D&E's with fresh linen, shaving Keith and giving him a hair cut, helping him with his meals etc etc.  

Anyway, K up to bed with no problems tonight.  Just off to bed myself now.  Have a good weekend all.

Thursday 15 February 2024

A bit of positivity, but it didn't last!

 The greenhouse glass has arrived, wrapped in a wooden protective jacket, and all in one piece.  Handyman asked, did I want him to finish the roof or put the glass in first?  Silly question - of course I want my greenhouse finished - and at warp speed! I will show photos when it's finished. . . . . spoke too soon, handyman has just moved some of the triangular pieces and a nibble on the edge of one!  We didn't get every piece out of that pack of course.  That was clearly "My fault" - handyman says I should have made him get every piece out and hold it up to the missing apertures. Well, I needed to get back to Keith, who was mid-breakfast - and I told handyman the glass was delivered.  I should have got HIM to check it.  I think we have spare larger panes so may need to go and get one cut to size at Llandod.  Update: All sorted as there was a spare amongst the other pack of broken glass. We have lift off!

I doubt I shall have him to do work again as he depresses me - yesterday he said he thought that the roof tiles were asbestos!  Funny, we were under the impression they were slate . . .  He said not to get anyone to work on it when it was dry, because there was a dust coming off them as he scraped the moss off. That was a real punch below the belt but then later he mentioned a couple of the "slates" being damaged so to keep an eye on them.

I also had some more fabric delivered, having ordered some fat 1/4s and a metre of another fabric.  They phoned yesterday to say they couldn't do one of them, so I asked for a substitute and it's fine.  As it's warm and sunny this morning, I intend to get out in the garden, but then I really MUST get back to the quilt. I've not had a chance all week.

Danny, Emma and "I" are away for two days, returning Saturday.  Of course, Keith has had a turn for the worse and was very wobbly last night and this morning, so I am praying I don't have problems getting him to bed.  Talk about bad timing.

I parked up to have a drink on the way back.  A Herefordshire view.

One thing I forgot to mention buying at Malvern was a lovely yellow Hamamelis.  It was only £15.  I nearly bit his hand off -saw one the same size at the small garden centre yesterday and that was £45!  I will get that planted today.  Tesco's had their cut-price fruit trees in yesterday - £7 each or two for £12.  I bought another Discovery apple tree.  I also got some alpines and another red Gooseberry from the small garden centre.  Off to plant up the steps shortly. 

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Small and light . . . and something a bit weird!

That's what we say in the trade - and then there are dozens of people struggling with huge coffers or stone bird baths or garden benches or marble figures!  The best thing Keith and I saw at Malvern was a chap struggling back to his car with the most enormous (and hideous!) painting.  We actually followed him as we were intrigued as to the size of vehicle he had.  Sniggers had to be supressed when we strolled past him trying - from every angle - to cram the painting into a very small 3 door saloon.  It did NOT want to go in and we left him scratching his head and doubtless regretting his purchase . . .

Just a bit of fun. A wire sheep.

These make the most lovely noise when they move - 4 pigs windchime.

A wooden flax heckle, slightly different form to ones I've had before and what I think is a small wooden posser for delicate clothes.  Suggestions on a postcard please :)

Made by someone's daddy . . . a sweet little toy boat. I need to do a careful repair on the top of the sail so that it stays in place.

Small early Victorian (late Georgian?) mould by Wedgewood.

I can see these ending up in a cafe somewhere.

Aren't these candlesticks adorable?  Made in Edinburgh.

Telling myself - I can't keep everything!!

That also applies to this lovely Winstanley cat.

And then there was the slightly weird piece, which isn't old though looks like it should be Medieval.  Perhaps like a Medieval take on Measles!! though I think they are meant to be flowers.  It is different anyway and a good talking point :)

"I" is in bed, Danny just left to drive all the way to Carmarthen to pick Emma up - shan't rest until he gets home.  "I" and I made an Apple Sponge today, and we were both very tired by late afternoon.  Lulu has taken a shine to her (and you know how fussy Siamese cats are about who they like and who they don't) . . .

Hasn't Lulu gone dark in her winter coat?

Variation on cat in a box - cat in a chest of drawers!

Right, I am going to sit down and rest now.  Had to do battle at the GP's again today as they got Keith's Thyroid medication prescription wrong yet again - as the Dr never wrote down an increase months ago.  This has happened several times now so Not Happy as we are having to take the last 25s in the house as completely out of 50s.  I got the non-Mensa receptionist today . . .

Monday 12 February 2024

Finally - a proper day off (at Malvern Flea)

 I can't sleep.  Having been awake for 2 hours I thought I would come down and clear my head as it is still walking round and round Malvern, and concentrating driving there in the pitch black (not appreciably lighter until I'd gotten through Hereford) and then beetling home again.

        The outside pitches were almost without exception all house clearance chaps - which is ok up to a point (they are normally cheap and sometimes don't know the value of what they have) but there was an awful lot of dross there.  Some of it was so bad I wouldn't waste the fuel taking it to the Tip!!

        I got a bag full of bits and bobs, spending carefully.  Some daft things - but they'll sell as they are appealing - a silly sheep, some piggy wind chimes, a wrought-iron cottagey door knocker (that was only £1!!), a lovely late Georgian? Wedgewood jelly mould, a little scratch-built child's boat, a and other bits and bobs.  I got Keith a most unusual antique carved horn (absolutely enormous - from an African Ankole cow I think).  It is brass bound and once held probably a drink of some kind. It just "had his name" on it, being rather bizarre and definitely a one-off in these parts. 

 Scenes from around the Fair.  The French Quarter . . .

The Swedish sector - this lovely painted cupboard was £400.

Inside the Avon Hall, this was my favourite stall.  Everything on it was lovely.  Note the beautiful little quilt on the left.

Here's a close up of the central block, made with TINY squares and even tinier stitches.

Very early and special dolls in one of the big sheds.  Didn't dare ask the prices! They specialize in childrens' toys etc.

My favourite stall was back with luscious painted cupboards and windows.  Look at the lovely sleigh bells too.

A few more photos tomorrow.  I am tired this morning and I'm looking after the little one today and tomorrow.  She's as good as gold though, and we are doing baking later and a walk. Keith's not at his best as I forgot to take his pills up so he could take them when he woke, so we have to wait for them to kick in.  Right, my bed stripped, washing to do and yet more stuff to hang up (D is of course working).

Saturday 10 February 2024

Muddy hands and a smile on my face.

 I was finally able to get out in the garden today.  A tiny bit of sunshine (though that soon faded), and no rain.  I started clearing the long perennials border, and finally got the last of the Alliums planted, without needing a snorkel to do so!  I pruned my tall Bathsheba rose and when Danny & co got home, he helped me lower the wooden obelisk into place whilst I fed the rose up into it.  Just one broken branch.  Earlier I had moved the metal support from Bathsheba and put it up on the bank around Jude the Obscure.

We have since struggled mightily with a solid wood (Birch) Victorian chest of drawers, trying to get it upstairs, but no luck.  TWICE Pippi insisted on "helping", and nearly got crushed between it and the wall, as we didn't notice her slip past us.  Little horror - trying to extricate her was a struggle too.  Anyway, we couldn't turn it on the half landing so it had to come back downstairs again and is now in the kitchen, and my old Arts & Crafts sewing table has gone up into "I" 's bedroom.  I ideally need to sell it anyway . . .  If only I had that Unit . . . but no word.  I will phone on Monday.  

OK, Lizzy D asked about my Arts and Crafts sewing table, so here it is.  I bought it from auction a good few years ago, and it was our phone table in the hall at Ynyswen or many years.  The central bit lifts up and you can put your threads etc in it when sewing.  Originally it may have had the sewing machine set in that area.  It's solid oak and I just  love the X on the bottom.

Below is the lovely Birch Victorian chest of drawers we laboured to get up the stairs - and failed.  It divides the room in two anyway (it's an L-shaped room).  I'm going to get some pine colour Briwax tomorrow at Malvern to make it pretty again.  

        I will be early to bed tonight, as I have a 5 a.m. start in the morning.  Weather doesn't look too bad at Malvern but it will be cold to start with.

        Some more quilt blocks sewn today.  They work up quickly if I have no interruptions, but sadly there are plenty of those, one way and another.  That's when mistakes get made!  I have to watch the white fabric, as I've got it back to front a couple of times as it's a white on white pattern!

        Danny & Co have really gotten into life in Builth, and "I" goes swimming (starts lessons next week) each week and Danny has Gym membership.  They have joint swimming membership too.  "I"  has joined the Library and goes to the Lego club weekly too, and tonight they've all gone to the Cinema and we're all having fish and chips for tea tonight for a change. Someone recommended the best pub for Danny to check out the music in and there is also a mother and toddler group to join.  I should be able to go to talks with the Local History Society again too - stopped after having Covid, and then Keith had to go up to bed before the talks ended.  I may join a patchwork group in Garth too, now I have "cover".  

        Hope you are all enjoying your weekend.