September

Making: (made) an epic tiramisu for seven, all of whom are greedy for dessert. It made lots of portions – enough for seconds for the greedy fans, plus some to take home!

Cooking: A recipe a week from the Green Roasting Tin book, yes, still. I’m enjoying them, apart from this week’s which was a little less than the sum of its parts. Might try it again, but make my own harissa. This weekly project has really revitalised the meatless meals that I make

Sipping: Earl Grey

Reading: The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller. Only just started, so this isn’t a recommendation, although it is a very successful best seller. But it’s good so far. I’ve read that if you liked the Crawdads book, this is for you. I did, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it

Waiting: for more rain, I collected lots several weeks ago, to the extent that I began to think I was crazy. But then it stopped raining after a few days and the water is now long gone, used in keeping the plants going

New violas, 6 for £3.50 from a local nursery. So much pleasure for a little cash

Looking: stylish as usual (ha!)

Listening: to the children playing outside, they’re just home from school

Wishing: for a long settled period for us all. Lots of continuing upheaval in the world

Enjoying: autumn

Appreciating: juicy blackberries, pausing to eat a few during walks

Gorgeously red haws (not to eat fresh, though apparently they can be used to make drinks, jams, jellies & syrups)

Eating: fish chowder later tonight, the first this autumn

Liking: cake and coffee with my friend yesterday, after a nice walk for a few hours. We talked and talked and talked

Loving: my aunt’s reaction to a potential menu for a light lunch next week, she said “No, I don’t think so, thank you” to my savoury suggestion. But when I offered to make scones and take over a cream tea she leaned forward, grinned and said: “Now you’re talking!”

Buying: bargains! I’ve got new tops from Seasalt, FatFace and a Craghoppers fleecy thing, which will be good for wearing on cooler autumn walks, all for around half to less than the full ticket price. WHOOP!

Greylag geese

Managing: to get the late payment and interest charges (circa £25!) taken off my credit card bill this morning. I’d uncharacteristically missed the payment deadline by ONE day. I was all ready and prepared to point out that I always pay off in full and have had the account for years, but didn’t have to at all

Watching: Wedding Season on Star, Disney+, so far so good and unexpected

Hoping: to go to London soon, at the beginning of the week I was waiting for the infrastructure from the Queen’s State Funeral to be cleared and things to settle down

Wondering: If you watched it? Jaw-dropping organisation, incredible sights. I loved the Scots Pipers and the Grenadier Guards and the Household Cavelry and …. It was such a spectacle. Along with over 28 million in this country, I was watching. This is the end of an era, so many of us have never known life without the Queen, just being ‘there’

Wearing: ball-gown, tiara, diamond encrusted slippers, naturally

The bees loved the sedum flowers at Buscot Park the other week

Noticing: it’s growing much cooler in the afternoons and evenings. Have you got the heating on, or a fire going yet? The fire has been on once so far, but I’ve wrapped up in my Tilted Squares blanket a few times

Getting: my preserving pan in action. So far I’ve made a batch of Chilli Jam. It’s v v pokey. I used a variety of homegrown tomatoes and hot, hot, hot homegrown birthday chillies

Prairie Fire chillies went into this, it’s definitely not for babies!

Following: what’s on at the V&A and considering Membership again

Heart, or bottom?

Sorting: apple recipes: jelly, chutney or jam?

A return visit to the Cotswold Sculpture Park, before it closes at the end of the month

Anticipating: the new series of Ghosts (BBC 1 tomorrow night, we’ll watch later on the iplayer)

Feeling: keen to see the next of River Cottage Reunited, such a shame there’s only 4 episodes, but wow it’s my kind of telly. Did you see it? Or watching now on catch up on All4?

Cerney House Garden

Hearing: Figure it Out by Royal Blood. Needs to be loud

Chilli Fest!

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What about you? Is all okay in your part of the world? Share three things?

Oh and a warm hello to you if you’ve recently found this blog through Facebook, my Facebook blog page has now reached 4.8K followers!

It is probably autumn, whichever way you look at it

I’ve been trying to eke out and make the most of the last days of summer. Over the weekend we went to a chilli festival. One of us ate a bratwurst and the other a brownie for lunch, while sitting, then lolling full and content on the grass in the warm sun. (Well, calling it grass might be exaggerating rather since most is closer to hay, after the hot summer we’ve had here.) We chilled listening to a mariachi band, who made us laugh and cringe at the same time! I’ve always loved Don’t you Want me Baby? by the Human League, but I’m not sure I ever need to hear a mariachi version again.

The photos above are from another garden visit, on Sunday, to Cerney House Gardens. It’s the time to go while there’s still some colour. As you see, the dahlias and sunflowers are absolutely stunning, vividly coloured and a real shot of brightness amongst what was mostly over and overgrown borders, as you’d expect at this point. The calendars and school terms are now telling us it’s the beginning of autumn. Today it’s pouring and it does feel like it. But that’s the meteorological point of view, the scientists’ neat way of dividing up the year.

In the astrological calendar autumn begins from 23rd September this year. Normally around 21st September the first day of autumn is marked by the equinox – when daylight and dark hours are equal. The word equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). This year here it’s Friday 23rd. There’s other info about autumn on the Woodland Trust website, here.

I’m so glad that yesterday evening it was dry and warm, so walking trainers on and up to the fields for a 2 1/2 mile loop. Ambling along, we stopped to pick the last few tart juicy red plums which are high up on the little trees, but we turned our noses up at the damsons which looked quite withered, and anyway are always too tart to be enjoyable eaten raw. The blackberries are a mix of mostly sweet and juicy, but it’s a real lottery and sometimes they shock the senses. The brambles must go down deep into the soil. They don’t seem to mind the lack of rain. They’re abundant as usual. I lamented the lack of a tub and suggested chugging down the last of our water on Sunday, thinking we could fill the water bottle with berries to freeze. Apple picking won’t be far off now and I fancy baking an apple and blackberry pie, or crumble.

I’ve just started reading a summer holiday type of book, although I love the change from summer to autumn I still have this feeling that I don’t quite want to let summer drift away. I’m in denial though; right now I’m standing in the conservatory dictating this into my iPhone and I can see the buckets and bowl we put down to catch rainwater are absolutely brimful. It seems a pointless exercise as the flowers and plants have been well watered already, with the terrific thunder and lightning rain storms we’ve had the last couple of nights. And it’s due to rain all week anyway.

We paused what we were watching last night and came in here. The lightning lit up the whole of the dark garden, while I shrieked “Don’t touch the edges of the conservatory, in case we get struck by lightning!” It was really dramatic as the storm raged overhead. Stood in a little metal and glass box, alternately light and dark, it was a little bit scary.

I feel so sorry for the fairs which are coming for their annual visits to the towns and cities around. Torrential rainstorms are going to be terrible for business, but I am glad it’s finally raining. Maybe the grass will be green again.

Taking Stock – November

Making: the rest of the Gingerbread Man. I finally have eyes for him! Crocheting the Coast Blanket bit by bit

Cooking: Sausages with apple & onion in cider sauce

Sipping: Twinings tumeric, orange & star anise tea

Setting up for Christmas at Blenheim on 15th
November has been stunning for autumn colour – very calm, mild weather so the leaves stayed on the trees for much longer. Until we were visited by storm Arwen…

Reading: the lost bees article from The Guardian newspaper, so interesting. It’s HERE

Waiting: for orders to arrive. Actually I’m really waiting for my (December) gin box most of all!

November’s Craft Gin Box – I promised to show you
Danish gin. It’s delicious. Love the owl line drawing

If you’re in the UK and you’d like a half price box for £20, (free P&P) Here’s my referral code. I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s so good I just can’t not. (I get points to spend for successful referrals, which is nice for me too.) You can have a one-off box for a treat, or buy it for someone else for a surprise. Then you can continue a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly subscription. Or never have another again. Whatever you want

Looking: out to see how frosty it is some mornings. Lately we’ve had some hard frosts. I’m wary of black ice when driving

Basildon Park, NT, our first Christmassy thing on 21st

Listening: Comfort Eating with Grace Dent podcast

Wishing: for a good December – everyone healthy and well

Basildon Park after a good look around the house

Enjoying: Jamie O’s ‘recipe’ for baked feta, eaten with fresh tagliatelle & green veg

Appreciating: family and friends

And tea & cake! Especially after a long chilly walk

Eating: Roasted vegetable pasta bake (Seeds of Change semi-wholemeal tortiglioni pasta – not something I’ve had before, but it worked well because it didn’t go claggy after baking. Not so keen on 100% wholemeal pasta, but would have this again)

Liking: seeing the birds back on the feeders now. The robin has been heartily chomping the mealworms after the cold and snow last weekend

As we walked back to the car at Basildon Park

Loving: meeting up with an old friend who’s over from Australia for a few months

Buying: Baptise Dry shampoo – it’s amazing. But not the part where your hair is covered with white residue, and you get a glimpse into what you’ll look like as an old lady. If you get some, the best tip I’ve read is to leave it on for at least 10 minutes before doing anything at all, so it soaks into the oil. Then do the massage step and brush it out. Be prepared for white flakes everywhere. Don’t wear your best top until afterwards!

Worcester, the River Severn

Managing: multiple Christmas wish lists. Always try to get a head start in November

Watching: Friday night films. Here some we watched during November: Adult Life Skills on Netflix, The Last Bus on Prime, TICK TICK BOOM on Netflix

Hoping: no Lockdown restrictions are ahead, though if we need them, we need them

Worcester cathedral, before Remembrance Sunday

Wearing: a MASK! Wear a mask, protect others

Noticing: some are still flaunting the new rules that came in on Monday

Following: I’m a Celebrity when it started, not watching so much this year though. It’s just not the same when it’s in Wales, compared to Australia! Have you seen any eps?

Sorting: through photos from the summery summer

Getting: apples in from the garage

Worcester has giant sycamore leaves!

Coveting: a Mac Book, a whizzy new SatNav, more walking trainers…(the real Father Christmas might read?! I mean the real one. Not family. This is not a hint for them.)

Feeling: purposeful

Hearing: Hard-Fi’s Hard to Beat on the radio

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What are you planning this weekend? I think we’re heading to a National Trust house tomorrow to see more Christmas sparkles, as a sweetener after having flu jabs, cooking a roast Sunday lunch and I’m still planning to make that chutney! I need help to peel the apples

Snow Face!

It’s been an exciting morning. It’s been really stormy here overnight, with Storm Arwen bringing very, very gusty winds but luckily no damage. I think the north of the country have had it far worse with 98 mph winds.

I kept having shouted weather updates from downstairs first thing, as we were anticipating some changes. First it was “It’s only raining at the moment” yawn, then “I think it’s starting to sleet” ok a little more interesting and then I got a WhatsApp video showing snow falling!

At the time I was sat up in bed ordering more wool for my blanket and toy eyes from Wool Warehouse. I tried to support my local yarn shops, but neither of them had the right sized toy eyes. It was enjoyable browsing online, as it’s months since I have properly looked. But when the snow video came I ended up jumping out of bed, grabbing my iPad and FaceTiming a friend to show her our blizzard of snow. I can’t help squealing, and my snow face was definitely on.

Last night I started to join two of my Coast Blanket granny squares together. Actually as well as JAYGOing I initially went all the way round the outsides too, but wasn’t happy so unravelled it all. Now they’re just joined in one line across, with a third block added to make a longish rectangle.

I can’t really do anything else now, until I’ve got some more of the yellow grey blue wool. But as I did far too much crochet my hand is really protesting today, so a break isn’t a bad thing. I want to make some chutney soon. I might have to have some help peeling and chopping the apples. Oops.

I have three more blocks to join, but I just don’t think the colours go. Although looking at the photo above they look fine. What do you reckon? During the lockdowns, last year and this, supplies of wool ran really low. Across the country people hunkered down to knit and crochet their way through the anxiety and boredom. So, I ended up with three quite different colour-ways of Hayfield Spirit DK for my Coast Blanket. Hmmm. I have a feeling that they will be turned into two smaller blankets, instead of one king-sized. No matter. If this 2° weather continues I’ll be wrapping myself in both! Brrrr!

Because you stuff the gingerbread man as you go and add his eyes, before completing the rest of his head, the poor little thing is eyeless and looks like he’s had a lobotomy. He’s by the magazine for scale. I think if I’d used the proper cotton and smaller hook he’d probably be half the size, but I love him. (The pattern’s by Victoria Kairis and was featured in Simply Crochet mag, issue 115.)

On Thursday I met Cathy for a walk in Badbury woods. We did a 40 minute circular walk, with a sit to admire the long ranging views across Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, then a wander around the Clumps. It was a chilly 3°, so I wore my Edenvale cowl I am very glad we went, because those trees will definitely not have leaves now. It was really rather beautiful as the breeze blew Copper Beech leaves down on us, as we walked underneath the trees.

Badbury is managed by The National Trust. It’s well worth going in springtime for the bluebells. That was the first trip Someone and I did when we came out of Lockdown. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the joy of being somewhere completely different after so long. I drank in the views. Cathy tells me the snowdrops are a must-see too.

Afterwards I went into Faringdon for a wander around the churchyard and then had a pot of tea and a wrap for lunch in Costa. Later I had quite a fright as I went into a shop. You remember in my last post I was talking about dogs making a beeline for me, although I’m a cat person? As I opened the shop door and walked through the doorway a head shot out to the side, coming straight at me, between bags hanging on hooks. I shot up into the air and squealed a most peculiar sound. If they’ve got CCTV I bet it would be hilarious to watch. Nothing scary after all, but what a surprise!

Isn’t he gorgeous? He’s an older cat, who lives in the shop. The guy was at the till and his partner (I assume) was running a yoga class in the back room. After a fuss and photo session I went to browse the candles and teas, the cat jumped down from the shelf and walked past me. I thought he was hinting for some more strokes, but no he obviously knows the class routine well; the yoga finished and as people came out of the back room, lots of them stopped stroke him. It was time for more fuss. Clever puss.

I bought this little decorative pot which came in a reusable bag, made from old sari silk. I thought after asking to take photos of the cat and having a chat with the owner, it was the least I could do. I gave it away as a little gift that afternoon. I will definitely go back for more, the shop is called The Lotus Retreat.

It’s opposite a bakery which has been there for years. It’s well known for their Lardy Cakes. My FiL used to drive a lot for work and seemed to navigate the country via bakeries. When I once said I was in Faringdon he immediately recommended the bakery and Lardy cake, for next time. (Oxfordshire should be on that list too Wikipedia.) But I’d already found it and bought us one! I have a good nose for cake too. So, if you’re anywhere near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, you now have a recommendation for a nice walk in the woods, a browse of independent shops and are well prepared for a cat who will shoot his head out and make you jump! Plus a source of fresh cake and breads to take home.

We have planned to go to a Christmas craft fair this afternoon and the switching on of the lights tonight. I’m not sure if I fancy 40+ mile an hour winds, we will see…

What have you got planned for the weekend?

Lost amour

We went for a walk for a couple of hours this morning. The weather was mild and still, plenty of dog walkers were out and about. Lovely dogs and really friendly owners. Nearly everybody called them back to put on the lead. Very kind and completely unprompted. I’m glad though, because you always wonder how friendly a dog will be, not so much because of fear but because of exuberantly happy helloes and muddy paw-prints all over your clothes. As a cat person that happens to me often. The dog person walking with me will usually be ignored. How do dogs just know?

Can you see the birds? They were feasting on newly turned worms I expect, and pecking holes in potatoes missed by the harvester.
One windy day and this will soon be bare. The weather is so mild and calm at the moment that the autumn colour is lingering. Loving it!
Ivy vines growing up an oak tree, with clematis circling and climbing up them. Quite a dramatic sight which stopped me in my tracks. The tree is covered with glossy ivy leaves too. It’s being taken over.
A rowan tree not far from home

The walk was carefully timed, so that we were back in plenty of time to go and buy snacks, pour some beer, then watch the rugby. Well, one of us anyway.

I’m upstairs escaping the crunching of pork scratchings and Big Hoops, comments and excited shouts at the TV. I meant to put on Spotify and listen to Tick Tick BOOM! soundtrack, but the P&Q is nice. Have you seen it yet? A brand new Netflix film. The best new musical I’ve seen in ages. Who knew Andrew Garfield could sing and dance? I liked him as Spider-Man, but this takes him into a completely new genre. It’s an impressive change of gear.

What makes a good musical? For me I want to sing along to a song after only a minute or two. Ditto dancing. I go away singing my own made up songs afterwards too. And dance a few steps on my way to bed. Tick tick BOOM!

I’ve been singing Boho Days since last night. Pretty much every hour. I hope you have Netflix and can watch it too!

I had forgotten that I knitted this dish cloth in February/March. I missed posting for a little while, so I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen it?

The Amour pattern is part of a series of a free dishcloth patterns. One a month, throughout this year by Garlene of The Kitchen Sink Shop. I’ve linked to the pattern there, if you fancy having a go at knitting one yourself? I stopped after the first two, because it now takes me so long to knit or crochet anything now with my dodgy hand. Plus I was using Rowan cotton, which frankly seems such a waste to use on a dish cloth. They’re too nice to use, so are still folded up in a little bag. I wonder about making backing for them and turning them into oven mitts. Any other ideas?

Time for a cheeky little Saturday afternoon drink for me too now! A grapefruit margarita is being made for me. I wonder if they won? And I’m going to add another round, or two, to my Coast blanket.

What have you been up to today? How are you feeling about life, the universe and everything?

Cosy Friday afternoon

Brrrr! It’s suddenly got properly wintry cold and I’m not jumping the gun; I know we are still in autumn, but by golly it’s all changed this week. I never say by golly. I’m not an oldie, or from an Enid Blyton or PG Wodehouse book, but it just seems to fit. (I’m grinning at myself. I’ve been teased in the past for using words like poorly and gosh, but it only makes me use them more.) When you look out of the window first thing and all the conifer hedges are white, the grass is white and the cars are white… It’s definitely an old-fashioned “By golly it’s cold !” kind of week.

I’ve just been on the phone for nearly an hour and a half and added some rounds to my granny square. I can’t remember whether this is the last one I need to do, or if it’s the penultimate square. It is such good ‘phone crochet: mindless, easy and an enjoyable rhythm. It’s really relaxing too, while the conversation meanders along.

On Monday I approached a shop assistant and said I had a really bizarre question to ask her. She looked delighted and said “Bring it on! It makes the time go faster.” Bless her.

I’d lined up three or four different shades of green, and asked her which one was most Brussels sprout like? She really threw herself into it and reckoned it was this one, but then when we checked a photo decided that it could be a couple of different shades. To keep things simple I bought this one (a bargain £1.49) and promised to go back to show her a photo of the finished sprout! She was definitely keen to see it.

This all came out of a photo that my cousin sent me of a knitted Brussels sprout you can buy from White Stuff. £8! For one Brussels sprout decoration! Of course it set us both off with a flurry of messages. She reminded me that she knitted some a few Christmases ago and gave me one. I’d forgotten because all the Christmas decs are in a box, up in the loft. I hope I forget again and then it will be a nice surprise in December. We did laugh at the time, because her knitted Brussels sprouts all looked furious… we’re wondering if my crochet version will be happier. I’ll be looking for a pattern, but not until the Gingerbread Man has at least another leg and his body. Then I will be cosy and crocheting sprouts. Don’t think I ever expected to write that.

Here’s the White Stuff sprout. And I’m not even right, he’s not £8, he’s £8.50! Blimey.

Friday night is Pizza Night this week. My sourdough starter is bubbling away by the radiator. It’s the first time the bowl has been left anywhere other than on the kitchen side, since early Spring. But it needs to be in a warm place while the yeast activates. It certainly seems happy. I can’t wait to eat a few slices of pizza while watching a film later. My no-cook pizza sauce will be spread on the dough, with toppings of red onion, peppers, salami, Kalamata olives and a good handful of mozzarella. Yum yum yum coming soon.

And WOOHOO! Friday Night is also Craft Gin Night! I cheered as I opened the door to the lovely post lady. She said she’s delivered other November gin boxes today as well.

I’ve opened the box, but won’t show you the contents yet. I don’t want to put any spoilers online, as I’d hate to think that I might ruin the surprise for any member who reads this blog. It always feels a bit like Christmas, or as if a birthday present has been delivered. I will put a photo of the contents here soon. I will say that I absolutely love the gin bottle label and am intrigued about the where it’s come from… as young woman my Granny worked there as a Nanny, a long time ago.

If you’re in the UK and want £20 off your first 2 boxes, you can use this referral code for Craft Gin Club Gin Pals. I get points, you get 2 big boxes of half price goodies. Then you can cancel and not have anymore ever. Bet you will though! If you clicked the code when I mentioned it before, I hope you enjoyed your tipples and treats.

This week we’ve had some absolutely stunning sunsets. Last night I could see something orange glowing through the frosted glass of the bathroom window, before I pulled the blind down. I went to the bedroom to have a look and WOW! As the sky got darker the orange and gold seemed to intensify. It was fantastic.

My current read. I started an advance reader copy last night (in return for an honest review) and I have found it difficult to put down. I loved Joanna’s debut The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and enjoyed Three Things about Elsie, so am delighted that I’ve got her third book. It’s out next Spring. I’ll let you know nearer the time if it’s worth buying or reserving at the library. So far, so good.

Do you also find that themes or characters seem to continue in your next book? I just read another ARC called Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley and the main (USA) character Marge was a very tall and big girl. Often she felt awkward or uncomfortable around others. Linda (British) in this story is the same. Similarities often jump out, with settings or characters. It’s completely random too, as I often do not know much at all about the books I choose. I just quickly scan the blurb, or not at all if I know the author, as they give too much away.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere are you staying cosy? Or are you in the Southern? Is it a warm Spring?

Most importantly: what are you planning to make, eat and are you reading anything you can’t put down?

An autumn walk part 2

A few sips of water, a good look around in all directions. I took a few photos and then we went on for the next part of our walk.

There used to be a couple of fallen tree trunks which were lovely, clean and smooth off to one side of the green crossroads. Lying on the grass. They were removed sometime in the early year. I still miss them. During the first Lockdown last year, when we were only allowed to see people from our households and nobody else, not even social bubbles (the term had yet to be invented, our poor isolated elderly and vulnerable people) we came across a few teenagers there. From their furtive looks at us I guessed they were sneaking out to meet up and socialise, as an illegal part of the allowed daily exercise. I couldn’t really blame them, although it was all such a worrying time and no one really knew what was ahead. Anyway, I miss sitting on those tree trunks. After avoiding the roots, stones and ruts of the lane it was always good to have somewhere to sit and relax for a moment, or five.

Bonus blue skies in October and freshly ploughed fields.
If you go down this way you end up on quite a fast little road, which leads to a picturesque village. You can take another footpath into a meadow, then walk alongside some fast flowing water, go through a few gates, under a railway bridge and ultimately up to a large farm. There’s a public right of way along the road through the middle. There was a bull in a field with cows and calves, which scared the bejesus out of me last spring. You’ve never seen such a flimsy fence and such a mahoosive bull. He kept staring at me!
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, I loudly sang as we walked past.
Just a little peep.
The deer have been munching and trampling the sweetcorn. They’re all around here. We saw hoof prints and ‘other evidence’ of their presence near the maize fields.
At this point my hoodie was firmly off and tied around my waist. Such a lovely warm day.
More fields of maize all around.
There was a massive rainstorm in the middle of the night last Saturday.
Zoomed in.
And as I saw it by eye.

We saw a red kite with a huge wingspan being chased by two or three crows around that tree. It always amazes me how crows can be so aggressive to such a scary looking bird. Confidence or aggression in numbers? They must be highly territorial when in a flock (a ‘murder of crows’ is the collective name after all!)

More crabapples.
My favourite photo of the walk.
I suspected there were tasty, juicy things around this corner of the hedge.
Bingo!
More old man’s beard / clematis too.

Someone had started to walk on and hadn’t come back around the corner with me. So, I called that he should; because there were very big juicy fruits that I couldn’t reach, which could be all his if he wanted.

And we were off again.
He remembered something we had seen back in the summer. But wouldn’t tell me what. It would be a surprise.
Another stretch of footpath which goes along a narrow green lane between field hedgerows. Quite an adventure, this is very narrow. You can easily get caught on brambles and have to avoid nettles and thorns. I usually walk with my elbows and hands up in the air. Quite a sight, especially if I’m also singing.
The sun and shadows are captivating.
Other kinds of traffic have recently been along here too.
Ah yes! Fields and fields of the potatoes. I’d forgotten we’d seen these before, when they were small plants. The ridges of rich iron earth that are heaped up around the plants are so neat and pleasing. I missed a photo opportunity.

For some reason when we come out of that narrow overgrown path and walk along this field edge, we always remember the surprise of passing a teen during Lockdown in summer, last year. She was wearing noise cancelling headphones, had a brightly coloured backpack on and was so confidently tramping along. She’s really stuck in our minds and we’re not quite sure why. I think maybe it was because she was so incongruous. It looked like a route she walked regularly, like she was going to visit a friend or something.

I needed to lean against a big five-bar gate to reorientate, before we turned left for the third part of the walk. I heard a sound and turned around to see a man-child throwing a chunky stick into a tree, followed by the sound of things clunking to the ground…

So spikey sharp. Twin conkers inside.
I stuffed these into my conker pocket and on we went.

The next part of the walk went along a hedge to our left, which has occasional trees interspersed among the bushes. The field on our right gently slopes down to a stand of trees. This is where we watched a young muntjac deer wander earlier in the year. This time there was no peaceful little deer wandering, instead we disturbed about a dozen pheasants in the hedgerow. They took off right in front of us, flying and squawking in alarm. They made me jump. I took up in the air, flying and squawking in alarm too! Someone found this all rather funny.

It can’t be too cold at night yet, otherwise the ferns would be brown and dying. It can’t be far off though, the evenings are much chillier.
I had to limit myself to two fern photographs. I really, really like them.

We crossed a road and plunged into the start of another green lane. This is an ancient byway which used to lead commercial travellers from the Midlands to London. We call the start Freezer Corner because unfortunately sometime ago someone dumped the contents of the freezer under the bushes near the road. They must have pulled up their vehicle and just thrown it all out. Some were probably opened by foxes, others were intact. For quite a while we noted the disintegration of the packaging of once frozen lasagna, fishfingers and a carton of ice cream etc etc. Then it was cleared away. A friend asked if we had reported it all. I’m ashamed to say neither of us even thought of it (though someone else obviously had) partly because it was so fascinating watching the food and packaging disintegrate in the wild. But what an awful thing to do, and why? Why not dump it into a bin? Was it an act of revenge? You’ve hurt me, so I’ll empty your freezer? Weird.

Cranesbill, a type of geranium.
A little sit on a rock. A sip of water and onwards again.
I photographed these thistles when they were glorious purple flowers, back in the summer.
15 to 20 feet up, high altitude ferns.
Many brambles on both sides of this path, but few blackberries. Perhaps they doesn’t get too much sun.
Plenty of sloes.

A little handful of emergency almonds to crunch, hunger was coming on with a vengeance now, it was way past lunchtime. There’s a few miles to go.

We’ve turned left again. We’re heading to very familiar fields with landmarks: the cherry trees, sloe alley, blackberry corner and plum row.
What a neat front door.
Higher up now than at other points of the walk.

We paused at the top of the field and heard very, very loud unselfconscious singing coming from some distance away in the shady lane. As it’s stubble now we preferred to walk out in the open field, to keep feeling the sun and wind on our faces. The singing was hilarious. She obviously had headphones on and was belting out JoJo’s Leave (Get out). I glimpsed her; a grey haired lady walking a lurcher, definitely getting something out of her system. Good for her!

This one is tiny. Do mice make burrows?!

In the last part of our walk, in a field not far from home we looked for the dead adder that we came across last week. It’s gone. I’ll pop the pic I took into my Taking Stock post at the end of the month, if I remember. That was quite a sight. That and seeing a headless pigeon made for a memorable walk.

Home and a late-late lunch of cheese & biscuits, apple & grapes. What a great walk, so fab to go out-out again.

I hope we can do it again very soon.

An autumn walk

An autumn walk wearing T-shirts! In October! It was really special because Someone was off work mid-week for a few days, and so on Wednesday we grabbed the opportunity to go for a longer walk. It was a beautiful day, about 19° and very quiet. I think we only saw a couple of joggers in the middle and then a couple of dog walkers at the end, it was 3 o’clock by then.

We took our time. I went slowly, took lots of photographs and really looked around. It was the first longer walk, at 6 1/2 miles, that we’ve done since August because I’ve been feeling so unwell. We’ve managed the hour-long loop around the fields near home a few times, but this was a proper jaunt.

To begin with I felt quite unbalanced, especially as the initial part of the walk begins alongside a road. Walking along with cars going past felt quite disorientating. But once we were on our own walking along the footpath and bridleway, everything seemed easier.

The footpath is a mile or mile and a half long and was a green lane enabling farm workers and people wanting to come to the shops to walk between villages and farms.

I wish that I could go back in time, morph into an invisible being, to see the people and listen to what they talked about as they tramped along this lane. I’d like to know what they bought. A length of ribbon to decorate a new bonnet? A packet of sugar, or flour? A long saved for book? A twist of salt? Or did they just go to the pub and then stagger home again. Stumble, trip, stumble, trip!

Why, Hello there!
Sometimes dark and leafy green, other times bright and sundappled. I really love this walk along the lane!
There are crabapples scattered at various points. I wish I felt like making crabapple jelly, or something with them. There are many more still in the trees which could be picked. It feels a waste of free produce, but jelly making is a faff.
Rose-hips and ivy flowers, what a pretty combination.
Old man’s beard or wild clematis.
It’s a well used footpath and bridleway, things can get very turned up and sticky for walkers during the winter. Especially when it’s been rainy and the horses have churned it up.
Just look at that! So beautiful with the sunshine playing in the leaves
Common barberry, the red and green together are stunning, don’t you think?
A mossy log, crunchy leaves and glossy ivy leaves. If you stop and look around, remember to look up and look down there is so much to notice and appreciate.
Last time we paused by these trees there were waving stalks of oats and barley, in the fields alongside the footpath
Beautiful ugly fungi
Reflections in the water gathered in the dip between the conjoined beech trees.
A perfect window.
Beech nuts crunchy underfoot.
I wouldn’t want to fall into this holly bush, steady as she goes…
High above my head the holly berries are beginning to look good.
We seem to have been walking along this lane for ages, it always takes longer than we expect.
And suddenly we are out!

I turned back to take this photo at the end of the lane and then enjoyed being out in the open again. Surrounded by countryside, with long views across newly ploughed fields, a distant village with smoke from a bonfire rising into the sky. At this point you are at a green crossroads and can go one of four ways. We have tried all, but our favourite is the one, which with several more turns takes us in a big 6 1/2 mile loop. It ends with a hill right to our front door. A downward hill, is definitely the best kind at the end of a good walk.

~~~~~

To be continued, part 2 coming soon…

Taking Stock – September

Reading:

The Man Who Died Twice

Even better than the first book, which was The Thursday Murder Club (as if anyone really needs to be told; it was an instant international bestseller.) It would be best if you read the first before this one.

The Beloved Girls

A 5 star read. Twisty turny, with a slow building atmosphere of menace. I had so many thoughts and questions about what might be happening, when I wasn’t reading. Always a good sign of a compelling book. Also It jumps back and forth in time, which I always enjoy. It keeps you on your toes. Plus it is partly set in a large English, country house. Enough said?

Freckles

This was a surprise; there was a time when I always used to read new Cecilia Ahern books and then I just felt like I’d grown out of them. This is a new, more real and grittier style of writing. I couldn’t put it down.

Enjoying: all the late summer / early autumn colour in the garden.

Noticing: some beautiful bright sunny days, with magic golden light just before dusk.

Making: hexagons! Too many so now I’m on a self-imposed ban for a week, as my hand is so sore. I did enjoy it at the time though.

Instagram stories questions… Be prepared for lots of responses. Don’t ask if you don’t want honesty! I didn’t mind, as the slightly circular nature was bugging me
New and improved. Sharper corners (absolutely nothing to do with the pattern, just me cutting corners. Literally!)

Planning: to use this book. I’ve now bought the tin for *half the price* of the recommended one. It’s still really good quality. I bought a James Martin one from an online retailer who have a bricks and mortar shop in Dorset too. (Ask me if you’re in the UK, I’ll send a link.) Very happy with the look and weight of it.

One Tin Bakes

Cooking: The days were mostly been so warm at the beginning of the month that I haven’t made a single batch of soup yet. (Plus being unwell for the whole of September didn’t feel like chop, chop, chopping … ) Latterly I’ve eaten porridge with maple flavoured golden syrup and chopped apple on top. Always a sign of cooler weather. Soup making isn’t going to be far off.

Baking: Dark choc walnut brownies to eat with raspberries and creme fraiche, after roast chicken, new potatoes and salad

Rosemary & Cornish Seasalt focaccia

A Facebook friend said it looked like spiders. They were very tasty!

Cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns! YUM!

I typed out my recipe for cinnamon buns and sent it to my 13-year-old niece. She made them the next day and sent me photos. They were perfect.

Watching: tomatoes ripen. I’ve been taking a daily photo, then sending it to my friend who loves tracking the changes while he works in his office in London!

Eating: pink omelettes! I had a phase of these, if a phase can consist of two?! One with the spoonful of rose harissa are mixed in and the other a spoonful of red pesto. They taste good. Try it?

Enjoying: my micro-greens which I left to grow to salad leaf size. Much better value for money than paying £2.99 per packet. I feed them a little so there’s enough nutrients to feed the plants. Still going strong…

Mackerel with lemon & dijon dressing & cannelini beans

Learning: Italian on Duolingo app, it’s free. So many languages to choose from, but I’ve always wanted to learn Italian.

Someone is really not impressed

Listening: to Mickey Flanagan What Chance Change? If you’re a fan this is a must listen. It’s on BBC Sounds week by week. There are two episodes so far, charting his life and aspirations in the 1970s and 1980s. I’m looking forward to the next two decades. He’s SO funny.

Watching: Upload on Prime. It’s unexpectedly good, lots of twists and surprises. Maybe not for the faint-hearted at some points. We’ve watched six episodes so far.

The IT Crowd classic British comedy from the early noughties, laugh out loud funny.

This Way Up it’s currently on C4 Catch up. I hope it’s on other international platforms soon, so you can all watch it too. You just want to hug Aisling Bea’s character so hard. I sat silently feeling all the feels, at the end of the last episode on Thursday. Stunningly written TV.

~~~~

See, I told you I had a lot to tell you! This is what happens when you’re home-based for a month.

Have a lovely weekend, enjoy a bit of reading, cooking, making, watching… Whatever floats your boat!

Halloween crochet

I was just sitting at the table cutting out printed pumpkins to stick around our windows, for the neighbourhood children to spot. I’ve just remembered something. Something I made last October, that you haven’t ever seen!

Last autumn I kept trying to crochet despite my sore hands. Then I would stop because of the discomfort, and do nothing for weeks again. That’s why I’ve got so, so, so many bags of things that I started, all in the hope that this would be the magical thing that I could complete.

This little pumpkin was magical in one sense, even though my hands were sore after making it for weeks. It was really special to be able to start AND finish a thing, after 18 months of nothing much. A frivolous, not much use to anyone thing. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I want to make at times.

I’m going to go upstairs and hopefully find it to pop on the table with some little candles and else something festive. I’ve got a whole butternut squash in the larder, but was planning to roast it for dinner tonight….ho hum. I’m not sure that really works anyway. Autumn leaves would be too soggy, as it’s pouring with rain again and carrots are a bit weird. Unless carrots are Halloweeny things in your country?

The pattern is a free one from Ravelry. I used it for inspiration for my pumpkin’s face. Isn’t he cute?! I drew a rough outline on a piece of A4 and tried to stick to it for sizing. I counted the stitches to make sure the mouth was centred and everything else came together. Easy.

Grab some orange cotton like I did, or yarn or garden twine even. Quick! You’ve just got time to do something like my version. Or, if you’re super talented and have nothing else on for the rest of the day maybe you can even whip up the linked pattern?!

A Woodland Walk

Into the woods, around boggy bits, along field edges, slipping up hills and slivering down others in the mud, catching on brambles and holly, walking in pelting rain, climbing over fallen trees and back into the woodland, until I finally implored them

“SLOW DOWN! Aunty Rachel’s legs are a lot shorter than yours!”

I felt like I’d been through commando training!

~~~~~

Chop, chop, chopping for a chicken and pearl barley casserole.

Ohhhh. Not sure about including the sweet potatoes!

Do we want a pink dinner?

~~~~~

I’m now on my second granny square. The decision whether to keep going on and make a huge one-square blanket was made when I laid it on out a table at the weekend. I realised the edges were starting to frill. Rather than fiddle around adding extra chains along the sides I unravelled some rounds until it wasn’t frilling any more, fastened the yarn off and began another square.

Sometimes decisions are made for you and it’s easy!

I need to decide whether I carry on using this colour combination (it’s Breeze) or buy some more Hayfield Spirit DK in another colour combo. I can’t decide whether I want a purely blue and grey blanket, or one with a more colourful patchwork effect. I’ll have to decide soon because I have only half a ball left…

~~~~~

Tell me a few things?

Taking stock – October

Making: my Granny Square blanket and Close to You scarf. I’m focusing on just these two and not dipping into other WIP bags. Some actual finished items would be good

Cooking: soup! It’s that time of year again. Last week it was BNS, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper, yesterday I made this Spicy Parsnip recipe

Sipping: drinking black Yorkshire tea

Reading: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Looking: at the birdfeeders, there’s some interest but not much eating yet. They’re stocked up with peanuts, seeds, mealworms and suet balls

Listening: to comedy audio rather than novels: Alan Partridge From the Oasthouse, French & Saunders Titting About podcast, This is This Country and Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone Fishing. All are on Audible UK. (That’s a pure recommendation – no commission, sadly.)

Enjoying: pics of my nieces at the seaside

Eating: lots of veg – sweet potatoes, celery, carrots, parsnips, BNS, cauliflower, swede, carrots, fine green beans…

Liking: all the autumn colour

Blenheim Palace

Loving: the WhatsApp group I’ve set up with friends – inspiring each other with recipes and motivation for keeping going with healthy habits

Buying: a few Christmas presents! Unplanned, but I saw things and thought oooh yes. Feeling organisedish

Watching: Rebecca on Netflix soon – it’s out today. A few rooms at Waddesdon Manor were used as filming locations

Another Dorset apple cake baked on Friday to share with family. We’re awash with Bramley cooking apples after all

Hoping: the same as you all…over…soon…

Wearing: scruffs!

Following: the news but not too much, a general overview of things feels like enough

Noticing: changes in the trees and hedgerows

Sorting: practical things ready for winter, inc getting the heating system sussed out and quotes for hedge and tree trimming

There’s also a bit of a glut of homegrown chillies. They’re ripening even in the fridge

Getting: outside everyday

Saving: money, on all the things we aren’t doing and places we aren’t visiting. Plus no clothes shopping for literally months either, I can’t do the no-trying-on thing and am not a fan of online clothes shopping (much queuing in busy POs for the inevitable returns!)

Bookmarking: autumn warmer recipes like this Mushroom Bhaji

Feeling: positive

Hearing: birds tweeting in the hedge

Tell me what you’re doing, noticing, making, cooking, reading or ?

Autumn

I love autumn, I always have. I’m glad we have four distinct seasons here. Fancy a rather rambling read? You’ve come to the right place.

Cooking:

The drop in temperature has meant the food I cook has changed. Plus I definitely gravitate towards a glass of red wine more too. And why not? It warms the blood.

The change of weather and a bounty of homegrown and wild produce seems to have perked up friends lately too. Recently I’ve had WhatsApps about:

T and her pots of rhubarb and ginger jam

T and his apple crumble / beef and ale pie

S made a chicken and tarragon pie

E made a huge apple pie

P is delighted that Yorkshire tea have made biscuit flavoured tea bags and says her tea drinking times have just improved!

N has been looking up crabapple recipes

B dusted off her slow cooker and made a beef and ale stew

I adore messages like those!

I’ve made Dorset apple cakes to share with family, plus tried a new bread recipe for a ginger and sultana loaf from my WI Bread book. It’s a winner! Message me and I’ll send you the recipe.

I’ve taken a few comfort food cookbooks off the shelf to get more inspiration.

What are you cooking at the moment? Have you made anything new, or an old favourite?

Crafting:

We talked about a long walk and tackling some chores in the house and garden, but after a long call from a friend and a heavy downpour went into hibernation mode instead the other day. We listened to This is This Country and roared with laughter. (Best if you already know the tv series.)

Lately I’ve sat up in the early morning with a podcast or audio book and done a round or two of crochet. It is a nice lazy way to start the day. I recommend Lisa Jewell’s Invisable Girl audio book.

I’m sticking to my Close to You scarf and Big Granny Square blanket. I’m trying not to flit around with lots of different makes, but am committing to a few. Both are easy going and not too taxing for my iffy hands.

For the GSB I’m wondering about going off-piste and buying more Hayfield Spirit yarn in different colourways. It would be a multi-multi coloured blanket. Here’s the full selection of colours from the Sirdar website. What do you reckon?

Casper might be fun for a scarf.

Walking:

It’s gorgeous weather for walks. No sunscreen or multiple water bottles to lug around anymore as it’s now 10° less, or more, than this time a couple of weeks ago. Time to get the woollies out again! We all like an excuse to show off our homemades.

There’s an abundance of berries, a friend I met for lunch said she thinks it means we’re in for a hard winter. Is that right?

In the hedgerows in fields near home there are: crabapples, sloes, haws, the last blackberries, acorns, conkers, sycamore helicopters and ash keys. It’s fantastic.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ …full poem here.

Last weekend we drove home in the dark and AN OWL WAS SITTING ON THE WHITE LINE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! I think he’d just caught a little creature running across the road and was pinning it down. 

If the low light levels and gloomy days are feeling a little bit tricky, combined with everything else at the mo, here’s a tiny rather silly little thing you can do. I bought a really cheap set of glitter gel pens from The Works and now write lists using a different colour for each item. Someone told me it’s like I’m 13 years old, but I don’t care! My shopping and freezer lists are really pretty and colourful on the front of the fridge. They’re making me smile.

How are you finding autumn?

Maybe it’s Spring where you are? What are you up to?

Yarn Along – October

With my group singing classes having restarted, via Zoom for now, after six months of silence and being able to craft a little again, I’m feeling much more like myself. Does that sound odd? Maybe you know what I mean? I have my creative ducks in a row once more. I’ve always made stuff, sung, read and cooked, since childhood. It’s simple straightforward stuff which makes me feel happy and relaxed. I’m pretty low-maintenance, which is probably a very good thing in these uncertain times.

I’m knitting a Close to You scarf designed by Justyna Lorkowska and enjoying the subtle colour changes in the Fyberspates four ply Vivacious yarn very much.

By the way, the chocolate in the photo was a late birthday present, it’s good quality milk chocolate with coconut and lime. It was delicious with that mug of black Assam tea. (I always like to know those little details.)

As for reading: I’ve read a quarter of Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls so far. It’s 1940 and nineteen year old Vivian has been sent in disgrace to live with her aunt Peg in NYC. Peg owns a crumbling old theatre and puts on flamboyant shows with a limited range of storylines. The theatre seems to have an infinite number of apartments above it. This of course is the perfect setting for lots of weird and wonderful characters. I’m currently enjoying descriptions of trunks of tailor-made clothes which have just arrived with Edna and Walter. They have come to the city fresh from an ocean liner from England, with nowhere else to live and no work.

Joining in with Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along (and only a day late this month!) Check it out – it’s a really good way to explore blogs from around the world. There’s such a variety of knitting and crochet going on. Plus you might pick up a good book recommendation too.

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.

A great day out


Yesterday I went into London to spend a day doing some of my favourite things. I found myself taking lots of photos and decided to share them with you.

Now, before I begin I have to say that I’ve done Stoptober and someone has just offered me a surprise cider and some dry roasted peanuts, as he’s about to drink a beer and munch said nuts while he watches the second half of Wales against Scotland rugby match. I’ve taken the tiniest of sips and already my head is spinning, so forgive me if this disintegrates into utter nonsense by the end! **

My sourdough loaf had not long been out of the oven before I set off and so I didn’t try some until this morning. Breakfast of Queens. It makes such good toast. (Every blog post must mention sourdough.)

I met my brother for a light lunch in our favourite Itsu on Baker Street and topics of conversation included: casseroles, eating fish, physio and the benefits of setting an alarm so you remember to do them (that was me, doing my bossy slightly-older sis thing excellently) meeting up with old friends, buying a car, plans for the weekend and Blenheim’s hidden bridge rooms (See here.)

It was such a sunny and crisp autumn day yesterday that I decided to walk along to Marble Arch, duck into Hyde Park and walk to The V&A. There seems to be a trend for roadworks at the moment; everywhere I went I came across them.

The contractors were really busy: starting to set up for Winter Wonderland. It’s basically a fairground, with massively overpriced food and drink like bratwurst, burgers, chips, candy floss and mulled wine. I’ve quite enjoyed the festive atmosphere when we’ve visited, but at points it’s so crowded that I’m hyperaware of tucking my bag and purse under my arm, with my hand on the zip. Going bagless with your ‘phone stuffed into one side of your bra and your purse into the other might be a solution?

While I walked my WhatsApp pinged with an ‘I’ve cut the bread’ pic. The No-knead Stretch and Fold technique is one I adopted in the summer. I’m sticking with it: it’s so easy and you can make a loaf one-handed. Perfect for me at the moment.

Walking past Harrods after coming out of the park

I love the V&A so much, I’m so grateful to have my membership, plus a guest pass, renewed every Christmas. It’s one of my special places in London.

I wanted to see this exhibition before it ends on Sunday (tomorrow.) I feel regretful that I didn’t visit before so I could recommend it to you sooner, as I know some of you read about my visits and then go. I went mostly because a friend had been and was describing it last weekend when I saw her in Birmingham.

Rather than go on and on about it I’ll leave it to my photos of the signs to give you an idea. The V&A is excellent at provoking thought, entertaining and amusing. This ticked every one of those particular boxes. I think the section that made me reflect most was the digital footprint many of us will leave, what we might want to happen to our bodies (think cryogenics or saving a complete digital imprint of our DNA) and the impact technology has had on community and where we live.

I’ve got to know so many people now through sharing hobbies on social media, taking part in online groups and, of course, blogging, which often results in meeting up in real life. I believe technology can and does enable greater connection, if you’re willing to take a chance and meet up in person. There are some I’ve chatted to for years and might never see, but there’s definitely value and concrete positives in the sharing of opinions, giving advice and encouragement.

It was rather disquieting to reflect upon how much has already become the norm; many of us use technology everyday to show us how far we’ve walked, how we slept, what we’ve eaten and record where we went. We post instant photos online, send messages throughout the day, set alarms which we jump to respond to (or not, in the case of my exercise alerts!), have devices like Alexa listening in on our conversations, are beginning to get devices which can be controlled by Smart ‘phones to record a programme, alter the heating temperature, boil a kettle or toast bread….


There was a 10 question multi-choice quiz to take about how you see technology impacting upon the future and what this might look like in 20 years. My result was I am an All-round Optimist. This was the same as the greatest number of participants outside and within the exhibition. Hurray! I like being one of the crowd, especially when it’s a positive result.

A poor photo but did you know? I certainly didn’t.

Oh! My eyes teared up at this one.

I thought of Teresa Kasner making and wearing her pussy hat and writing her protest posts at the time.

Walking back at 4pm I noticed how low the sun had already become. Just look at that golden light highlighting Harrods and the buildings further along the road. Beautiful!

Harrods windows are blacked out, which must mean their Christmas window displays are in progress.

A swan with attitude and their posse on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, with the golden sun setting behind autumnal trees. What a lovely photo to end what was a great day out.

** How did I do?

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 

~~~~

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.

Taking Stock – September

Making : sourdough pizza, because Friday night was made for it

Cooking : spicy lentil soup, the first of the new season

Drinking : red wine, it’s particularly fine for autumn

Reading: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (only just; sort of as I got halfway through the first chapter last night and woke up a couple of hours later with the light on in the early hours…)

Plymouth Hoe

Wanting: to crochet again

Playing: The Police, Greatest Hits

Polperro, with a boat ready and waiting outside the house

It still has an active fishing port

Deciding: whether to have a dry October or not, what do you think?

Wishing: for these lovely warm sunny days to continue

Porth Ledden Bay near Capewall

Walking some of the SW coast path from Cape Cornwall to Levant

Enjoying: my new Sony Bluetoooth speaker. Saw it on someone’s Instagram, mentioned it and had one for a birthday surprise!

Waiting: for Invisible Sun to play next

Trengwainton garden, always a must-see

Liking: Apple picking socialising while sharing recipe ideas: pork and apple, apple crumble, apple jam, chilli & apple jelly, apple cake….

Wondering: about trying baking baguettes. Have you ever ?

Loving: my audio book. Only an hour left now, then into the new Robert Galbraith Lethal White

Some of the many Trengwainton Scarecrows, made with local primary school children. The theme this year is Inspirational Women

Emmeline Pankhurst and Frida Kahlo

Pondering: nothing high powered

Considering: going to the V&A soon

Buying: birthday wish list gifts

Watching: The BBC’s Repair Shop (S2:8) for the first time, it won’t be the last episode I watch. So good to see skilled people at work

Saffron Chelsea buns, we shared one. Delicious

Fantastic little bakery in St Ives, must buy another SCB next time

Hoping: my right hand sorts itself out by my next appointment (4 weeks time)

Marvelling: at how many people have talked about the Bodyguard series

Cringing: that I saw a major spoiler on the cover of the Radio Times magazine, which put me off watching any episodes. Viewers no longer watch programmes as they are screened and this was only a few days later

Needing: to drink something soon

Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives

Questioning: what am I currently questioning? Anything?

Smelling: orangey perfume

Wearing: comfy house clothes, actually I always call them ‘dags’ like my Aussie friends when I was living in Australia

Nicest bookshop in Cornwall? The World? In Penzance. So many signed copies too as many authors live nearby, including John le Carre and Patrick Gale

Following: my own instincts

Knowing: these things come and go

Thinking: fluffy thoughts

Admiring: the way everyone’s taken to autumn clothing

Cornish Cheese Tea: cheese scones with cream cheese and a spicy tomato chutney

Cornish Cream Tea: one plain and one fruity scone with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam

The cafe at Trengwainton is always a must-visit too

Penzance harbour, our week away was mixed weatherwise but we walked every day regardless

Waking to Marazion watching the kite surfers pass St Michaels Mount; which is only accessible by the causeway when the tide is out, or by boat

Sorting: summer clothes to put away

Getting: used to team cooking, one-handed doesn’t work *that* well. But no washing up (always so much despite having a dishwasher.) One. Good. Result

Bookmarking: articles about personal power

Back to Plymouth for a night, arriving at lunchtime in torrential rain. Finding the lounges of the hotel full of people having a drink to hide from the weather, so decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Coveting: more local gins

Disliking: wrist pain / hating that sock knitting. Ride in a Time Machine please? (Which reminds me; new Dr Who on Sunday)

Opening: multiple webpages and crashing my middle aged iPad

Giggling: at Life in Pieces. I’m on S3 now

Dyrham Park National Trust, Gloucestershire, it’s an impressive filming location for movies and tv (Poldark, Far from the Madding Crowd and Sense and Sensibility, to name a few)

Feeling: chilled

Snacking: no carrots!!!!! Argh!!!! Hate running out

Helping: increase family’s carb intake by baking them sourbread. I bake much more than I eat

Hearing: the fizz of tonic and the chink of ice, my G&T has arrived (yes, spoilt)

Mixing: in red wine later with dinner

Two rye sourdough loaves I baked this morning

Worrying: I’m a sourdough bore now (but you’re lovely. I know you don’t really mind)

Slicing: and peeling a few cooking apples then completely stopping as OUCH! Not the working definition of Do Not Use Your Hand for Three Weeks

Celebrating: Autumn produce; Barty’s Bramley apples, the picking of which he was closely supervising, sitting by the asters! Trengwainton squash and blackberries all along the SW coast path in Cornwall

Forgetting: where I left my watch on 12/9

Pretending: I’ll find it, but it’s looking more and more unlikely. So hard not to keep looking at my wrist, like it’s going to magically appear there

Hello Autumn. I’m ready. It’s been a lovely summer but I always like to see you

Sneaking: M&S buttermints and blaming Mr Scrappy (remember him?)

Embracing: walking, reading and good tv

Hoping you’re fully functioning in a two-handed healthy fashion, cross your fingers / pray / send out vibes (or some chocolate) for my right hand please. I’m chipper, but concerned. Who wants a stupid third of a sock, needles and yarn??!?!

2017

This year’s makes were mainly small gifts and blankets. Every year I say that I’ll put blanket making on the back burner and concentrate on other things; but I’ve realised that’s not working at all. I simply enjoy making blankets, even more so when they keep popping up on friends’ Facebook feeds or when I visit family. Nothing beats seeing a blanket den or a blanket on the head picture, a snuggly sofa covering, at the end of a bed or a glimpse of one on a pram.

A mix of longer term and quick projects are so satisfying. So whatever 2018 brings will be fine, there’ll be no rules or resolutions this coming year, apart from one. (Can you guess?)

I have three things on the go right now: The garter stitch blanket which was planned for pub knitting at Knit Group and is definitely a longer term make. My first ever sock paused after the heel, but I’m definitely going to end next year with a pair of socks to show you. I hereby solemnly swear that you will see two handmade socks in my 2018 montage, unless death or imprisonment stop me. (Even then I imagine that in an open prison I might be able to do some craft therapy or activity, so socks could still happen. There’s no excuse really. Unless they make me give them away as part of my rehabilitation? I really don’t know how these things go. Now I’m wondering if any of you know?*) As for the lovely blue Hitchhiker which was Mum’s Christmas present, and finished in plenty of time** that now might be an Easter gift. Let’s not talk about that malarkey just yet, I can’t face it.

I’m not turning into a mad cat blogger, but I’m just so glad that the little kitten who slept in Mum’s garden, when he needed respite from the two young boys of his house next door, or in a chair in her kitchen when it rained, came to be adopted by her in the summer. His family ended up returning to their home country, a long, long way away and the cost of taking him was prohibitive. They told Mum she was the obvious person to take him. But I know he’s been missed because one of them called on Boxing Day to wish Mum a Happy Christmas, and asked how he is doing! So, there you have the full story of the little black cat with the powder puff tail. I’m taking him to the vet on 5th January for his booster jab. I hope he still likes me afterwards!***

Today it’s my blog’s SIXTH BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Where did the time go? Here’s my first post. So many metres of yarn and blankets later. Initially I planned this as an online diary while I carried on learning to crochet, without a plan in mind. Of course I wouldn’t have carried on without readers, so a big warm THANK YOU to you all for reading, for the comments, emails and messages. Welcome to all my new readers too, it’s great to have you along.

Have a lovely New Year’s Eve and Happy 2018.

* I’m not tempting fate am I? Now I’ve worried myself. Whatever happens please believe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I’m innocent Governor
**Well sort of – 24th December, apart from the ends
*** Not a mad cat blogger at all, apart from a longish paragraph about him on my end of year post….

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.