BBC Countryfile Live

Once again we went along to BBC Countryfile Live. This was its second year and as it was so enjoyable last time, we were keen to go again. Again there was so much to see including multiple show rings and arenas for different displays: from farm machinery, both modern and vintage, pig shows, dog shows including terriers chasing after a lure, followed by hilarious attempts by forty or so of the spectators dogs (all hopeless, apart from one chocolate Labrador who probably thought it was food) BMX bike tricks, a chain saw competition and many, more more. My absolute favourite is the equine ring, which surprises me rather since I can’t say I’m a horsey person at all. Although I spent a lot of my early childhood pretending to ride horses; sitting sideways on one of our two swings, galloping along beaches on evening strolls on family seaside holidays and reading books about horses and ponies. However when I actually started horse riding lessons, after school each week, I was terrified! All I could think was that if the horse (actually a small, fat pony called Tumbleweed) decided to take off with me on his back, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about it. This was not a toy, or my imaginary turn on TV’s beautiful Black Beauty, but a living breathing animal. I begged my teacher Mr McColl not to let go of the reins. After two lessons with Mr McColl walking and trotting alongside, around and around the ring, it was clear that things had to change. The next lesson was jumping, after a few practice tries either I had to grow more trusting of Tumbleweed, and much braver, or Mr M was going to be worn down to a stick. (What a lovely man he was!) I gave up gracefully and carried on with ballet, tap and swimming club instead.

I took a lot of photos at CFL, of celebrities, displays, funny ducks, pretty geese, frankly ugly turkeys, pigs being guided around a ring and many more, but it’s far too much to put them all on here. If you’d like to see some more of the magnificent shire horses, always my top favourites, go to my instagram. Do watch a short video I took of the country’s only six team of shires. It’s so good. As you’ll see, they came really close. So close, the ground vibrated. This team are regularly used in tv and film, so I’m gong to keep my eyes peeled for them. 

CFL covers a huge area at Blenheim Palace and even if you didn’t intend to walk far, you would end up covering several miles. At the end of the day my pedometer said I’d walked eight. 

The weather was typically English, at least for August nowadays when summer seems to abandon us to show us a preview of autumn. Then everything pings back to summer again, sometimes in the space of a day or an hour. It isn’t exactly cold, but you need to travel with an umbrella and raincoat, as well as sunscreen and a t-shirt. We had all of these just for the day out. And all were utilised.

During a massive thunder and lightening storm complete with tropical rainfall, everyone dived under cover into tents and marquees. At least there were the goats to pet, Adam Henson book-signing in the tent’s corner to discreetly gawp at, and a fun egg finding game for small children, which was very amusing to watch. I chatted about the possibility of keeping rescue chickens too, or rather the very enthusiastic stall-holder was trying to persuade me that they’re very affectionate pets. She did offer me the opportunity to cuddle a chook, but I declined. The fresh eggs appeal, but keeping them is not for me right now.

The time difference between the photo of the coming storm, above the dappy looking goat portrait, and the return of the sun below was less than an hour! Everything dried up super fast and we returned dry raincoats to the rucsac.

There was no shortage of food and drink to sample and buy at the show. Produce seemed to be mostly British, with amazing smells tempting us around every corner. We lingered at the Food Heroes stage, but had missed the most famous chefs doing demos. From a wide array of choices I chose a pork bap with stuffing, apple sauce and crackling. I did remember to take a photo, but only after I’d snaffled the crackling. It looks somehow bare without it, so that’s in the deleted folder. Apparently the Welsh boss-man rode his bicycle from the stall holders’ campsite during the night, every few hours, to check on the pig cooking on its spit. He did a very good job, it was yummy. My other treat was Hereford ice-cream from a mother and daughter team from Rowlestone Farmhouse ice cream near Hereford. Actually it sounds as if the whole thing is a family endeavour; Dad is in charge of the dairy, Mum makes the delicious ice cream while the daughter works front of house. I had salted caramel and pecan, it was gorgeous. I confess that I’d willingly travel several hours to visit their ice cream parlour. (I wish they’d sponsor me to say that, ice cream would be fine.) 

I can’t work out if this photo is a bit odd; with the guy walking so close to the window. I just liked the way the company had dressed the potting shed shelves.

These carved crochet hooks were so smooth to the touch. I really am happy with my Clover Amour set, but was slightly tempted to buy a large wooden one.

As the rain was coming to an end we came across The Oxford Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, in a small tent near the river Glyme. I had a go at using a drop spindle. It’s much harder than it looks, but the lovely lady said not to worry about lumps; just call it Art Yarn! Ok then, I think I’ve discovered a latent talent…

I didn’t realise until I saw the stream of photos that I’d had quite an audience.

This week I’ve been busy. I’m rigorously decluttering and sorting out things. Yesterday I posted old clothes into a clothing bank bin, took bags of better clothes and boots, books and a heap of craft magazines to a hospice charity shop,  gave my old pairs of reading glasses to an optometrists who will send them to the Third World, Guide Dogs for the Blind have used postage stamps, The Blue Cross charity shop have foreign coins from my most recent travels (New Zealand, Malaysia, Israel, America, Australia and Hong Kong.) I donated some of  my academic books to the university library and I sent my last Star Ripple to Knit for Peace. As you see, someone else also snuck into the bag. I don’t mind and think Stanley might enjoy a new adventure.

I’ve tried some knitting after a few weeks break. My elbow feels ok, but no more again for a few days I’d say. This is a shame, but there we go. At least I’ve added in a new colour which keeps things interesting.

As for reading, I’m now listening to The Love Song of Miss Queenie Henessy by Rachel Joyce, having finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which began the story and should be read first to get the full story. Oh my goodness, Celia Imrie is a fantastic narrator! I’ve always admired her acting, but had no idea she could do accents so well. Cockney to Scottish, women and men, she’s nailed them all so far in the audiobook. Also, I’m halfway through reading Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. This is slow for me, but I kept listening to Harold Fry in bed instead and woke up an hour later several times. The dulcet tones of Jim Broadbent had sent me to sleep. Audiobooks don’t work for me at bedtime at all, but still I try from time to time and then miss huge chunks of the story.

Have you been on any days out recently? Can you listen to audio books at bedtime without falling asleep? What are you making and reading?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

A long weekend away

We’ve been away again for a long weekend in Lincolnshire, which included a night’s stay in Lincoln. After walking around admiring the cathedral, pictured above, we had an interesting audio tour at the Medieval Bishops’ Palace (have a free year of membership of English Heritage, hurray!) A drink in Widow Cullen’s Well pub after all the walking, including up Steep Hill and exploring the old part of the city, was definitely restorative. That evening we had what turned out to be a mega dinner at Ribs ‘n’ Bibs. The beef ribs were gooood, but we couldn’t finish our food. A plateful for one, would actually be plenty to share.

I also got another fix of the seaside, albeit courtesy of the North sea. It is not, it has to be said, as pretty as the Atlantic sea which surrounds West Cornwall, but it is good to walk along to Sutton. I certainly felt I needed to walk at least 5 miles! We walked 8 by the end of the day.

 If you grew up with traditional English bucket and spade holidays, like I did, then Mablethorpe is your place for an enjoyable day out. I doubt it’s altered since the 1970s. There is a small fairground, arcades, cafes, ice cream stands, rock and sweet shops, souvenir shops and donkey rides on the beach. We’ve been popping there for years now and it doesn’t seem to have changed in a single way. Did you spot a Mum being buried in the sand?!img_3470 My cousin hosts several BBQs from early summer to mid-autumn for family and different groups of friends. We try to go to one, or maybe two, each year. They’re always good fun, with everybody mucking in. The informal rule is that every time you go to and from the cottage, across the tiny lane to her field, you take something. I have to admit that the (huge) glass of champagne I had on arrival went straight to my head, so the only thing I initially managed to take across was another glass of champagne! But if this was hash-tag land I’d probably be typing #winwin.

As far as stereotypes go the men conformed and ruled the two barbecues, there’s always one for meat and the other strictly for veggie foods. I grabbed my chance to cook, when someone left their post to top up their glass of red. I enjoyed flipping a batch of home-made halloumi burgers. (Recipe here, but made with some grated carrot, not heaps and no courgette as we found before that it’s too ‘wet’.) Apart from that I did a lot of chatting, took some photos and nibbled delicious food. That was all fine by me!

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I’ve had a week’s self-imposed ban of no crochet or knitting, to rest my elbow. It flared up in irritation at all the long rows of knitting I’ve been doing. I’ve tried a few rows of both knitting and crochet and it’s a feeling bit sore again. It’s definitely the knitting, as crochet has never really affected it. I’ll concentrate on finishing the Wave Blanket, then go back to the Garter Stitch Blanket and see how it goes. It’s not the end of the world if I just add a row or two a week. Or every other week. As you know, I started it to use up odd balls of DK yarn, and to have an easy project for pub knitting with the girls. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish. It’s a shame though as I have enjoyed adding to it and blending the colours.


My library books this week couldn’t be more different; Sweet Temptation was total fluff, but quite enjoyable. It tells the stories of three women who are overweight and become friends through joining ‘Fatbusters’. Ahem…I’ve glossed over the homeward bound visit to Melton Mowbray, home of Pork Pies and Stilton Cheese, but I’m back on lots of fruit and salad now! Vinegar Girl will be my next read; it’s a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. It’s ages since I read an Anne Tyler novel.

What have you been eating? Do you use your local library? Have you seen the sea lately?
If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

 

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Citrus stripes

Garter stitch stripes with 250 stitches a row is not as boring as I expected. I thought it would be a two row job at the most, each sitting and then the yawning would begin. Changing colours every other row seems to keep it feeling fresh, and with my citrusy lemon, lime and orange it’s definitely that! I’ll tone it back down with the next colour; otherwise we’ll need sunglasses just to look at it. I’m carrying on with a colour until the ball runs out, then grabbing another from a big bag. It’s a stashbuster so is going to have an ‘interesting look’, not my usual blend of colours. I tend to buy yarn only for specific projects and these are leftovers from blankets, and a few from a yarn kit I bought when I was new to crochet. There are a couple of colours that I dislike but I’m hoping blending them with others might help. If not, l’ll donate them to a charity knit group.  I took it to an outpatients clinic on Monday, while I waited for someone, and the nurses all seemed to walk past smirking. I guess I was an incongruous sight as everyone else was staring at the wall or their ‘phone. No one had a book, though I guess some might have been reading an ebook. That old chestnut about knitting helping to calm and provide a distraction is so true, once you’ve got over the smirking nurses and disinterested stares. But I have to admit I thought taking my knitting while I waited might be nice for other people too. It would be my way of helping anxious outpatients. A Florence Nightingale of yarn. They could be soothed in the manner of those slow tv programmes; where you’re following the journey of a canal boat, or seeing someone hand turning a wooden bowl in real time. Maybe it would even provide distracting opportunities for them to talk about how they’d love to learn to knit, or prompt them to reminisce about their Grandma knitting jumpers when they were young. Serves my vanity right! 

As for reading: I’m still going on with The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. It’s all going to connect soon and I’m quite intrigued to see how the four (or is it six?) characters share the story. I’m listening to The Plays of Alan Bennett and yesterday finished The Madness of George III,  now I hope the next provides some lighter relief. Really I’m waiting for The History Boys.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the film and I’ve also read the play, there’s just something I love about it. The flowers were taken a our visit to  Saltram House  (see below) and garden, Devon, on Sunday on the way home. This week my body can’t understand why it’s not allowed pasty for lunch, cake for afternoon tea and cider before dinner…it’s definitely got the holiday blues. We walked 69 miles while away to try to balance these out. And because we love the coast paths around there. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Lazy mornings 

Sitting in bed in the mornings glancing out at the sea, I’ve been adding a few rows to my knitting and crochet. It feels really lazy and holidayish, so perfect really. I never do this at home, only when I’m away. 

Last week I bought a fluffy book to bring away with me, but discovered that it’s one I’ve read already. No matter. I found The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan on Kindle, read the sample and know it’s the book for me. At £1.99 it wasn’t a hard decision to make! This is the blurb: Antony Peardew, once a celebrated author, now in his twilight years, spent half his life collecting lost objects; trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he’s running out of time he leaves his house and all his lost treasures to his assistant Laura the one person he can trust to fulfill his legacy, and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners… sounds intriguing doesn’t it?

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading every Wednesday, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: Simply Summer Street

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: One Creative Cat

4: Needles and Wool

Cornish mining distraction

I’ve never knit anything with Stylecraft Special DK before and I started this garter stitch blanket just to use up some odd balls. I’m really liking the softness of the fabric as it slowly grows. I felt very encouraged when I handled Phil’s version. It’s so drapey and soft. I actually wasn’t making this for anyone in particular, but maybe it will end up being mine as a snuggling blanket for cold nights? It’s 250 stitches long, I’m knitting the width as Arne & Carlos instruct. This is not going to be a fast project and I didn’t go to knit night this week, so it’s been abandoned in its bag for a day or two. I’m still catching up on series 2 of Poldark and it’s imperative I give him my full attention!

This week I’m reading Perfect by Rachel Joyce. I listened to her first novel: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry a while ago, so when I saw her second novel in the library I grabbed it. It’s set in summer 1972, here in England, where two boys are intent on rescuing one of their mothers from what the blurb calls ‘impending crisis’. There’s also a present day story, set in the winter, which concerns Jim who struggles with OCD. There is a connection, but what?

Before I go I just have to recommend Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I read it last week in several big gulps. I could not put it down, without reluctance. (The film adaptation starring Reece Witherspoon is good too.) It’s the true account of Cheryl, who when she was 22 experienced huge feelings of loss and grief. She decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State, alone. I was backpacking at that same time and although our travels were completely different in fundamental ways, there were similarities: experiencing the kindness of strangers, making instant bonds with people you meet along the way and the ways in which you feel yourself change. As the book neared the end it was pleasing to picture many of the places along the Oregon and Washington border, because of Teresa Kasner’s blog. She’s written about and photographed many of the places mentioned.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Vikki Bird Designs

3: Made by Patch

4: Needles and Wool

It’s still hot 


This is possibly the laziest ever photo I’ve taken for my blog; sitting on my bench in the garden I threw my knitting down and clicked (it is 32-33 deg today.) You might be thinking my sandals do nothing for the picture, but I like that blue contrasting with the grey and grape stripes…

I’m listening to I See You by Clare Mackintosh and am finding it gripping in much the same way I felt at the beginning of my last audio thriller (The Girl Before by J.P Delaney.) I seem to be having a bit of a run on them. I do like trying to figure out what’s going on. I worked out the last fairly early on though, and was disappointed to be right. By the end I felt that I liked, but didn’t love it. There needs to be some clever, gasp out loud, twists to really impress. Let’s see if this one can accomplish that task!

Yarning Along: 
If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.


I’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I think we just like to see what each other are reading. 

1: Nice Piece of Work

2: One Creative Cat

3: Simply Summer Street

4: Vikki Bird Designs

5: Needles & Wool

6: Wooly Cakes & Wooden Spoons

Something really easy


After meeting Phil of The Twisted Yarn on Yarn Shop Day I met up with her and some of her knit group at a very nice village pub last night. And of course I made the rookie mistake (which I make time and time again) of not taking something very, very easy. So, some of the time my fingers were moving across my Wave Blanket trying to quietly check my stitch count…..4,2,2,4,2,2,4 and work out what I needed to do next. It was ok in the end, after a bit of undoing, but I know I need to start something really easy for when I’m social crafting; it’s dire otherwise for my concentration. It’s always my crochet or knitting that suffers, not my conversation. But then perhaps I can’t really be the judge of the quality of that, can I?! Phil and the others have invited me back, or perhaps it was politeness; it’s a very friendly group after all.

I’d decided that I really liked them after the first 15 minutes and so maybe unwisely launched into tales of other knit groups. There was quite a bit of teasing about them being fodder for the next group I join. But, I’m being nothing but complimentary. It’s genuine too. Ah, I have to add that this was my first ever group where everyone started off crocheting! Not one single person sniffed at me and said “Oh, you’re crocheting. Can’t you knit?” It almost felt miraculous.

Please don’t ask me about the sock…there’s no news, yet. I just need to sit and concentrate on the next stage. You know by now that I am a prize procrastinator and so I’m excelling at delaying starting the heel. Instead, I have cast on to start Arne and Carlos Garter Stitch Blanket which is going to be super easy. Perfect for social crafting.

As for reading: last week I’d only just chosen A Ghost in the Machine from the library. Now I’m really stuck in and it’s exactly as good as I thought it would be; well-written, well paced and the lead up to the key event has been interesting. I’m reading a little every day, since there are quite a number of villagers and I don’t want to have to skip back and forth trying to refresh my memory with key facts.

If you’d like to share a photo of what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: One Creative Cat

2: Needles and Wool

3: Vikki Bird Designs

New 

A night or two ago I learnt a new skill – mitred squares. I’ve been thinking about having a go for ages; then saw Angie’s photo on Instagram. They’re a good way to use up some oddments of DK. I have a lot!

I tried knitting one in stocking stitch, but it was too thin. Garter stitch is so easy and will make a nice warm blanket.  I’m really enjoying making these squares. It’s exciting to try something new.

I just picked up 60 Postcards by Rachael Chadwich at the library. I couldn’t resist it after reading the blurb: Rachael’s Mother died of cancer just sixteen days after diagnosis. Overwhelmed as her Mum’s 60th birthday approached she decided to scatter 60 postcards across a city, with a handwritten message asking the finders to get in touch. She decided to go to Paris, using the Eurostar vouchers which were the last gift her Mum gave her… Can you see why I couldn’t leave this book on the shelf? 

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again.