Taking Stock – November

You might have to look at these for a minute to work out what they are. Clever eh? Saw in an Antiques Centre

Making : nothing. Sigh. Not a little fed up about it. Total craft ban enforced by Hand Therapist as it’s “too intense”. I can’t tell you how much I want to knit or crochet some winter woollies

Cooking : lentils, quite a bit lately. Spicy lentil soup. Cheesy lentil loaf. Chicken, BNS & Green Lentil stew

Drinking : little alcohol since Dry October. None until Christmas Eve

Reading: just finished The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman. A book I picked up from a pile at a booky meet up and didn’t have any expectation of; I just thought I’d give it a try. Realised I’d read another of hers: The Drowning Tree, ages ago. I’ll keep an eye out for more. I like her style

Two perfect creations, thanks Delia

Wanting: to make something else woolly, I did ahem…begin another thing a few weeks ago, which I want to wear, but it was stupid and made my hand hurt. I grumbled and packed it away. (Confession: I did get it out again yesterday and considered rebelling again. But good sense prevailed)

Playing: Coldplay: A Sky Full Of Stars – loudly, it makes me spin around in a circle, fast

Deciding: to carry on blogging when I feel like it and not worry about no craft content. Still getting new followers, despite no wool! Hello newbies, welcome to the waffle

Wishing: for more sunny days like this. It’s lovely and crisp

Enjoying: twinkly lights everywhere. November is one of my favourite of the darker months

Waiting: for deliveries. Christmas comes in a van, aka Margo Leadbetter (tried to find a clip of that on You Tube, I expect one’s there somewhere, if you can find it…)

Liking: The Kominsky Method on Netflix with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. Love his work: dry wit and perfect timing

Wondering: when, how much longer

Loving: The Haunting of Hill House, also on Netflix. So gripping and made me wave my hummus bowl in the air last night in fear!

Pondering: family Christmas wish lists

Considering: mini sparkly things

Buying: the above for one who is developing has developed into a sarcastic, but funny with it, nearly-twelve year old

Watching: a group of Red Kites (Info here) circling and diving at each other above the nearby woodland

Hoping: it stays dry Sunday for walking

Marvelling: at my own organisation. There’s bound to be something vital I forget!

Well, it wouldn’t be a fully-rounded blog post without a pic of my sourdough, would it?

A homemade crocheted pot-holder I made ages ago for my friend’s canal boat and some starter for her to make her own loaf

When you’re hungry and it’s well past lunchtime and then the rain pours down, so you decide to shelter in a cafe. Cake & cappuccino is a balanced meal, isn’t it?

Cringing: at the news of 2 hour queues getting out of some supermarket car parks. Online groceries, folks!

Needing: hot chocolate with mini pink & white marshmallows

Questioning: how I’m going to cut down on sugar in January!

Smelling: orange blossom perfume

Wearing: scruffs

Following: well, this just changed as I went running downstairs because apparently a group of juvenile long-tailed tits were queuing up to use the dining room mealworm window feeder. I counted 5, it was marvellous seeing them swoop from feeder to feeder in the trees too (as long as they haven’t pooed on my pjs which are on the washing line!)

Knowing: I will crochet again one day, but April to …. is now months

Thinking: of all the things I have been enjoying: visits to The V&A, reading, baking sourdough bread for my loved ones, seeing friends who make me laugh, dancing to Coldplay, loving my nieces antics and humour, admiring all the Christmas lights

Admiring: my neighbours’ new and improved house, they’ve been living elsewhere since Easter while it’s added to and completely renovated. The first thing put on the new fancy kitchen shelves was a jar of Marmite! I like their style

Often get an ‘I’ve cut the new loaf’ lunchtime pic and this pinged in as I was walking past this new artisan bakery on Baker Street, London

Mid-November and London was all a twinkle. The Regent Street angels swoop the length of the road

I was lucky enough to get to go into The RSA for a meet up at the end of a Street Wisdom session. Isn’t this a great door-knocker?

The Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank from Hungerford Bridge. Popped in and caught a steel band and dancers performing for a while

Sorting: receipts

Getting: sellotape and wrap ready, knowing my grand plans to wrap early always, always go astray and I’ll probably do it on 23rd…

Bookmarking: podcasts. Discovering some goodies. Btw: have you heard Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast? Pick an episode with an author you know, to try first. There are lots to choose from now. (Link for Android users here)

Coveting: a new bit of expensive technology

Disliking: the way Apple slow down iPads at a certain age, it’s wrong

Opening: new loose leaf lemongrass tea my friend Phil gave me. I liked the spearmint one a lot too

Giggling: at I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I prefer it presented by Holly and Dec

Feeling: happy

Snacking: on a Cox apple. So juicy it’s running down my hand, right now

Helping: buy presents on someone else’s behalf this week

Hearing: a bird chirrup

Mixing: socially

Worrying: there’s no point. What will be, will be 🎶

Waddesdon Manor, National Trust, Christmas House, Market & Light Trail

Want to visit too?

Sparkly and sumptuous, Waddesdon Manor always looks beautifully dressed at Christmas. The garden light trails and the Christmas fair were the best ever this year too

Slicing: carrots, cucumber, red pepper and radishes for hummus

Celebrating: family time on Sunday, all enjoying spending time together. Playing a Kids’ Charades game was really fun. We all seem to have a thing for starting a scene with opening and closing a door. Neat framing or pedantic weirdry?!

Forgetting: what?! What?!

Winning: something with an order I placed this morning, it’s random but I can’t tell you what as I’m going to pass it on…

Pretending: to consider what to read next, but knowing it’s likely to be Bleak House. Dickens is perfect reading this time of year. Last year it was The Old Curiosity Shop and Great Expectations. A Christmas Carol the year before.

Sneaking: nothing. Honest Guv’

Embracing: sugar! Hurrah!

How are you? Was your November a good one too? I hope so – you’re too nice to have a rotten time. But if it’s not been the greatest, let’s cross our fingers December’s better.

Taking Stock – October

Making : a hot water bottle cosy. One half done. I started the other yesterday, but you really don’t get very far along in a 10m session, and I’m not up to everyday yet either. Try setting a 10m timer for the fun of it. It goes so fast. Then make yourself stop. It’s really hard!

I did feel like whooping yesterday when I posted this pic on Instagram. It was fab to have something to show and join in with the buzz of all the Autumn making 

Cooking : sourdough pizza last night, on a Sunday night. I hadn’t made any since August, it was time

Drinking : peppermint tea, Stoptober still going ahead here

Reading: The Music shop by Rachel Joyce and Never Greener by Ruth Jones, I’ve got a bit caught up in both

Wanting: a positive outcome to my appointment with the Hand and Wrist Consultant and Hand Therapist this week (i.e. no nasty injection or talk of surgery again)

Playing: some of The Music Shop book’s playlist

Deciding: not to try anymore crochet for several days now, as hand is sore 

Wishing: for a car to fall in my lap, I can pay but I just want someone else to find, test and choose!

Enjoying:  sunny blue skies and crisp weather. Driving to Birmingham, on Saturday morning, I noticed an orange snowflake appear on the dashboard to indicate the outside temperature. It had dropped down to 4°. It’s 7° today, crisp and bright – basically my favourite type of autumn day

It’s Christmas in Selfridges, Birmingham. I know it’s really early but actually I got swept into the joyful atmosphere

Waiting: for a telephone call from a company

Liking: thinking about which soup to make next

Wondering: what to have for dinner

How pretty are these Lola’s cupcakes? (Also in Selfridges, Brum)

Loving: seeing everyone’s colder weather makes on Instagram (I know some of you are in the southern hemisphere and I do like seeing your flowers and garden pictures too!)

Loved having a legitimate colder day to wear my Mock Cable mitts last week. You can knit some too

Pondering: natural ways to keep those limescale and splash marks off the shower doors, without resorting to nasty chemical sprays that you’re not meant to wash off. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of something like you rub on half a lemon and a bit of white vinegar in a half-hearted kind of way. I’m not sure if either would be effective Considering: going for a walk in the sunshine

Buying: frozen butternut squash, it’s a great standby for soup making

How white is this dog? She was eye catchingly pretty. Her owner said she’d just come from the groomers; she’s a perfect ad for their services! I had to ask if I could take her photo for my blog. She’s called Molly and posed like a true professional. My friends know I’m much more of a cat than a dog person, but she’s clearly gorgeous

Watching: I’m still working my way through Stella. I’ve just finished Series 4. So far series 3 has been my absolute favourite; it was so funny. She and ‘Michael Jackson’ were brilliant together. 

Hoping: no one tells me what happens at the end of series 6

Marvelling: at the range of items we can borrow from our libraries. I’m working my way through all the library’s Stella DVDs after getting hooked on the first two or three episodes for nothing on Amazon Prime, but then they wanted a lot of money to rent or buy the series. No way! I can reserve a DVD for £1.20 and borrow it for a week for another £1.20, then it’s 30p per every additional day afterwards

Cringing: at how bad you can feel during your period some months. It’s awful and you can’t really explain how fluctuating hormones can make you feel and react so emotionally to what you’d normally shrug off, or suggest discussing sometime over a burger and a milkshake. I think it can sound like an excuse to anyone who doesn’t experience it, but it’s very real. Afterwards you hardly recognise the emotional mess you became for a while

Not your usual charity shop find is it? No, I didn’t buy them!

Needing: to water my plants

Questioning: why the boiler keeps making that odd noise despite a recent service

Smelling: rose perfume oil, mmmmm

Wearing: jeans and a t-shirt with three-quarter length sleeves, it’s warm behind glass in the sun

Crossing the bridge over the lake, looking back towards the obelisk, Blenheim Palace in the autumn sunshine

Following: some incredible new designers that seem to have suddenly snuck up during the time that I haven’t been knitting and crocheting

Knowing: designing is probably never going to be my special talent, but I do love writing

Thinking: about my rumbling tummy, I always seem to be either hungry or thirsty when I write these posts

Admiring: some crochet jumpers and cardies

Nala the cockapoo, one of the salon dogs relaxing on the hair-wash chair. She’s either resting her head on your knee asking for love, or curled up on a chair. It’s clearly a hard life. Cora her Goldendoodle half-sister is often asleep by the front door, waiting for the postman who always brings treats. They are probably part of the reason why I’m so much more comfortable around dogs. I like my hairdressers a lot, so it wasn’t a difficult choice between leaving because of the dogs, or staying and getting used to them. This year I’ve patted them both once. This might not seem impressive, but believe me it is!

Sorting: my shredding and coming across all sorts of funny notes, including one I wrote to Someone who was on a conference call: ‘We have a situation in a k cupboard, I think it’s contained…. but I’ve left the bin outside the front door.’ 

Getting: a new mini sieve at Birmingham’s Rag Market, to try to make even better poached eggs

Bookmarking: articles about psychology and friendship

Coveting: new clothes 

Disliking: shopping for ‘em!

Opening: the veg drawers and finding a half rotten cucumber I’d forgotten about

Giggling: at Celebrity Goggle Box in aid of Stand-up for Cancer on Friday night. Danny Dyer and his daughter were hilarious

Sewing with my Mum. Just like old times: “You don’t need to stand over me, go and find something to do.” At least she didn’t tell me to “Go and have a run around the garden!”

Feeling: relaxed

Snacking: on nothing at the moment

Helping: my friend enjoy her holiday without guilt for having fish and chips etc. Life is too short, have some family fun and healthier eating can wait for a few days 

Hearing: bugs ding into the window outside

Mixing: lemon, ginger and honey later for a warming drink

Worrying: about something it seems I can do nothing to resolve. It takes two to tango/ talk 

Favourite lunch: toasted crumpets, avocado mashed with a little salt, poached eggs and homegrown cherry tomatoes

Slicing: that rotten cucumber, I’ve salvaged half. Hate throwing food away 

Celebrating: autumn 

Roses & orchids, amazing. Yes, spoilt

Forgetting: lots! It’s my age dear

Winning: £8:60 on the lottery a few weeks ago

Pretending: I’m a calm, wise and mature woman, not an emotional soggy mess on occasion

Sneaking: M&S Butter Mints from the car 

Embracing: my beloved in his new cashmere jumper 

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Hope all’s well in your world. What are you up to?

Autumn days

We are having some cracking October weather, as you can see. Lovely sunny days with blue skies and sweet little fluffy clouds. I love it when it’s like this; it feels like it’s a bonus when we get t-shirt days in autumn. I went for a good wander around at Blenheim Palace the other day and it seemed I wasn’t the only one chuffed about the warm temps. I heard lots of tourists say they didn’t expect it to be so warm! They actually said this in tones of awe and wonder. I soon gave up with the idea of wearing my hoodie and tied it round my waist instead

There’s a major two year lake dredging and Grand Bridge restoration project beginning. More details here. Someone will be interested enough to read all about it. I know it might seem odd to feature the water pipes, but there was something really appealing about the shiny blue paint and newness of the connectors. Do you think that piece of 2 by 4 is vital? I was so tempted to give it a tug and see what happened. Naughty! If I added sound to this photo, you would hear the water rushing through, as the engineers gradually lower the water level. Apparently all the fish are going to be netted and moved from the Queen’s Pool to the Great Lake. I’m not sure what the birds are going to make of it all. There are hundreds (thousands, when its breeding time) of grey lag, canada and snow geese, plus coots, herons, moorhens, swans and ducks. Others that I can’t name too.

I would have loved a ride in the little inflatable boat, but as it was tethered both ends I imagine you need a rowing boat to reach it. The boat house was some way away. And they don’t just let anyone random grab ‘em. Shame isn’t it? I contented myself with taking lots of leaf pictures instead. The autumn colour isn’t just in New Hampshire in the USA, you know!

It’s been so warm that we sat outside in the pub garden the other evening, for a cheeky drink and pre-dinner snack. This is not necessarily something we’re still doing in October. Later in the season they light the fire and it’s a race to get to the nearest tables because it’s so lovely and cosy. When the ‘Beast from the East’ Siberian weather came earlier in the year we sat at the table almost on top of the fire and literally thawed out, as we’d walked in minus temperatures.

It‘s just been Apple Weekend at Waterperry Garden. In the supermarket there are generally half a dozen varieties that you can buy year round including: Pink Lady, Braeburn, Cox, Granny Smiths etc. Then you go to an apple weekend and there are allsorts of local varieties which you’ve never heard of. After tasting everything on offer, we bought bags of Old Fred, Red Pippin and Egremont Russet. Plus a bag of Comice pears. There are Apple days happening all over the country at the moment and it’s such a good idea to go. You can taste apples with such different flavours (apples which taste like pears, anyone?) various textures (very dry and crisp, sweet and juicy or tough skinned varieties; ideal for peeling and crunching with strong Cheddar cheese.) This always makes me realise that supermarket apples are mostly bland and boring, especially when they are all the choice we’re given year round. We have a spare fridge, usually referred to as the wine fridge, the sourdough starters live there too. You get no prizes for guessing what it’s chock full of at the moment…

Another exciting aspect of Apple weekend was finding a new farm shop has opened on part of the grounds. Waterperry Farm Shop is stocked with produce from the nearby farm. It was such a lovely surprise to find freshly baked cakes and savouries, their own meat and products from the local area including cheeses, rapeseed oil and preserves. Even yarn!

We bought 3 red peppers, 2 sausage rolls (gone before we even got into the car for the journey home) and a lardy cake which we popped in and shared with my Mum over cups of tea. 

I really love autumn.

Autumn colour, apples & whisky 

I really love autumn! There’s so much colour still and we keep having bright blue skies and sunshine, which really makes for my favourite type of autumn days. Even when it’s grey and murky there’s always something comforting to do: soup to make, apple cake to bake and hot chocolate to turn to, or a brisk walk through crunchy leaves, pausing to pick up shiny conkers and special leaves.

The asters at Waterperry Gardens have been superb. We visited in September which was between the two ‘Aster Weekends’ when visitors are encouraged to go and see the glorious long-border full of autumn colour.

Asters are also known as Michaelmas daisies because they bloom around the same time as the Christian festival. ‘Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days’ (according to Google.)

This year has been a bumper one for berries. Apparently it’s to do with the mild winter we had, followed by a dry spring and summer. They are everywhere in abundance, adding such a cheery splash of colour.

Upton House and Gardens looks after a National Collection of asters so it seemed a good plan to go and see them there too. The following pics were taken there last Tuesday. My Mum really loves asters, so she and I went to see them at both WPG and Upton. Looking back at my photos though, it’s not asters which dominate, it’s dahlias. I really like them. I have a vase-full of scarlet and peach asters downstairs, picked by her for our table. They are gorgeous. I should try to get a few photos of them in her garden to show you. I’ll try and remember to do that when I pop by later.

Waterperry have an annual apple weekend, celebrating the picking of their many varieties, you can sample and buy many varieties of apples, juice and cider. Unlike the supermarkets who offer the same scant half dozen varieties, if you’re lucky, WPG has many old varieties. Most of which I’ve never heard because 65 varieties of apple are grown there, although only about 25 of these are available commercially. The others are being trialled for juice, or preserved to ensure heritage varieties don’t die out. I bought bags of Egremont Russet and Ribston Pippin. Slices of both went very well with the cheese board we had at a family lunch on Sunday.


I also went to another type of autumn festival at the weekend: a Whisky Harvest Festival at Cotwolds Distillery. We went to pick up a pre-ordered (3 years ago) bottle of the first batch of 500 bottles of their whisky. Admittance to the festival gave everyone a free dram, so pretty soon most people were singing along and having a little dance to the live bands. A little measure of whisky is good for loosening people up. It has such a good flavour for a brand new whisky. You don’t have to take my word for it; Jim Murray writer of The Whisky Bible was there and pronounced it excellent. If you want to see his impromptu talk see here. He’s an entertaining soul. Prue Leith (she of the new Bake Off) also spoke and it seemed as if she’d enjoyed her dram rather a lot, ha ha.

The distillery also make a very tasty gin, a cream liqueur, similar to Baileys, and various other drinks. The cocktail tent was doing super business, though the gin cocktail bar was definitely favoured over that of the whisky. Personally if I’d been drinking, not driver for the day, I’d have chosen a whisky sour…

What are your favourite autumn things? What do you eat, drink and make? Do you also love it, or have flagging spirits at the end of summer? I really hope it’s the former.

Now – an Autumn snapshot 

        
    
    
   
 One of my nearest and dearest gave me a little verbal prod the other day saying: “I’ve had a look at your blog, but there’s been nothing for a while has there?” Noted and now rectified!

I’ve been carrying on crocheting my Spice of Life blanket (not far off the darning and border now) or knitting a few rows of my Hitchhiker scarf most days. I don’t think continually showing the same projects, just a few centimetres further on, would be interesting. Which is why I haven’t been around here much recently. There IS another project I’ve been working on too, but that’s hush hush as it’s a present. You’ll see it one day….

I really love Autumn: the crisp cool days, walking along kicking up piles of crunchy leaves, the beautiful colours of leaves and berries, the sunsets bringing brightness to often grey skies, soups and stews, casseroles and countless pots of tea. Do you love it too?

Woolly jumpers on!

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It was such a lovely day on Sunday; 17 deg and no need for a warm jacket. We sat on a bench and I was just saying how perfect it was to put your head back and feel the warm rays on your face, when I clonked my head on the back of the bench. I’d like to say this is a rare kind of clonk, but sadly it’s not. At a friend’s housewarming I apparently threw myself down onto her sofa, after unpacking lots of boxes, and hit my head on the bookcase which had been placed behind. I don’t really remember that one. Maybe I concussed myself!

Anyway. the walk, weather and sight of the trees, berries and wild fungi were beautiful. I really LOVE autumn. Always have.

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This is the first one I’d seen this season, on Sunday, but then I stumbled into full-on Christmas yesterday in a ‘room’ in Homebase. I like it in October, that’s when I begin to get little tingles about Christmas, the colourful lights and decorations to come. By December the relentlessness of it has worn me down somewhat, then on the actual few days it’s all fun again. Until the next year…

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The weather’s gone back to typically autumn temps with wind and rain featuring quite a bit this week. But the advantage of autumn and winter blanket making is being able to cosy under them while you crochet! The ripple is over half-way now and I’ve come up with a really cunning plan about the design. More on that another day.

Shotgun Lovesongs - Picador I’m really enjoying my Shotgun Lovesongs audio book. It’s perfect for rippling along to. The four main characters: Henry, Beth, Lee and Ronnie are dramatised by different narrators/actors. I’m loving the the way a couple of them pronounce words like ‘orange’ and ‘mirror’! I’m not sure if that’s due to them aiming to sound like authentic Wisconsinsites, but I likey.

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Tonight I’m making fish chowder for dinner. It’s a Lesley Waters recipe and you can find it here.

 

What are you cooking, eating, making, reading?