Beautiful bluebells

Not many words are needed today. I’d run out of superlatives anyway; trying to describe the beauty of this bluebell wood. 

This year again we didn’t see any deer, though we did stand still several times when we heard rustling in the undergrowth. 

Mum, when I first started blogging, used to say: “You’re taking so many photographs!” Now it’s: “Have a look at your blog later to see when we came here last year.” And: “Take the bluebells in front of that magnificent horse chestnut. There are such pretty celandines here with bluebells behind, the colours look lovely together. Here’s a pretty group of cowslips.” She’s right of course, so I snapped them all for you. 
Here are blog posts from previous visits to the same woods, in 20142015 and 2016. I think you might recognise some of the trees and paths.

Spring Day and inspired by another Rachel

   
     

  
   
One walk – so many flowers, the air smells so sweet, the birds are singing their hearts out, the thwack of the cricket ball on the bat, warm 16 degree sunshine. England really does put on a beautiful Spring show.

Inspired by a talented friend who speed crocheted a cardi to wear to a wedding last Saturday, I borrowed Anna Wilkinson’s book from the library yesterday to check out the pattern. It sounds rather dodgy making part of an outfit for a wedding, but it looked so good on her; not dubiously homemade at all. She’s one stylish chick and just doesn’t seem to do naff. It must be the Art Degree, I always think people who are arty have a certain pizzazz. 

I’d forgotten how good a source of inspiration the library shelves can be, I’ve lost the habit of popping in to see what’s there. Reading The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan over the last few days has reminded me to use my local libraries. 

Want to see my haul? There’s so much I want to make now, after a bit of an uninspired time, visiting the library was a good move. 

  

  

 The question is can I crochet a cowl in an evening, tonight, to give to my friend tomorrow?  As well as drink G&T and a glass or two of white? 

 

Spring has sprung 

  
  
  

  

  

   

 Daffodils, snowdrops, scilas, primroses, catkins, croci, cherry blossom and much more; it’s that lovely time of year again. As we walked yesterday Mum and I had a robin following us from ground to branch, to fallen log to a spindly bush. I wished I had some crumbs in my pocket. The weather is chilly but bright, and perfect for a good brisk walk. And then home to a bowl of homemade soup, a cheese scone and a chocolate topped cappuccino. 

I’ve been knitting like fury over the weekend, but I’ve ripped it out twice and turned a circular knitting pattern into a straight piece. I don’t mind sewing or crocheting a seam; but I do mind laddering appearing all around the knit, especially when my Google search states this only typically occurs above the join. It’s ok, it’s grown exponentially as I stayed up far too late to finish A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore. I couldn’t leave the story where it was, the last hour and a quarter had to be heard. What next?

In the bluebell wood

                    Once again Mum and I went to the bluebell wood to wander. So many flowers! Bluebells of course, but also cowslips, orchids (pyramid apparently, though she was going to check this when home) crab-apple blossom, cherry blossom and little violets. 

No deer thundered towards us, unlike last year although we walked quietly to the same spot in the adjacent field (planted with beans this time.) It is such a peaceful spot, the birds were singing their hearts out and we had the whole woods to ourselves; no dog walkers or snipper snappers like me.

We ate a cosy picnic in the car because the wind was pretty chill outside in the open. I was amused to see a woman with five large dogs: (eek!) a retriever, rottweiler, labrador, an-other and ditto) having to carry the sixth; a naughty greyhound, to her Range Rover because it completely refused to leave! 

To a Snowdrop



Lone flower, hemmed in with snows, and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and its frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

William Wordsworth, 1819.

Five things 

I’m making a few loaves of bread again at a time, one to eat and the other(s) to freeze. The freezer lately seems to be full of stewed apples from the glut last Autumn, and frozen trout because of my knowing a talented fly fisherman. No sooner had I baked two loaves on Sunday than 3 whopping fish were brought home; one brown and two rainbow trout. Luckily family and friends are more than happy to have them as they are or potted or smoked.

BBC radio 2 are broadcasting Sounds of the 20th Century, it’s ‘An audio journey through five decades, starting at 1951. Archive recordings include George VI overcoming his stammer to open the Festival of Britain.’  I’m going to try to listen to them on the iplayer because it’s fascinating; no commentaries or explanations, just music, news, programme clips etc from each year. I’m listening to the first from 1951 now.
“The average housewife works for 75 hours each week and does overtime at weekends….according to a Mass Observation study…”

“Coupons will continue to be required for meat, cheese….”

Poor little Princess Margaret “born into disappointment as the Nation longed for a little Prince.”

It is compelling listening for a social and economic history junkie.

On a Saturday jaunt to Marlborough it was lovely to see clumps of snowdrops under trees. It really feels as if Spring is on its way now; with blue skies and sunshine, albeit interspersed with showers. Washing has been hung on the line a few times this week already and partially dried in the gentle breeze, this is a very good thing.

Johnnie Ray is now being asked about why he cries as he sings and how long he’s worn hearing aids. We’ve just watched the three Rock and Chips specials on Netflix (an excellent prequel to Only Fools and Horses) and his music was featured in the first one…

I’m a terrible procrastinator where some things are concerned, like sewing up knitting. This little baby jumper was something I knitted it in 2013, just something I saw in a knitting mag and thought I could give to a friend. I also knitted a cat (recently sewn up by a Nana in my friend’s craft group, which sells items in aid of the Deaf Access charity) and a tank-top which I subsequently undid. I blogged about the sewing up then. Oops.

Forty thousand feathers on a thrush!”

The silly thing is that I did the sewing while listening to my current audio book: The Minotaur by Barbara Vine (excellently narrated by Sian Thomas) and it was really painless. I guess in the interests of complete honesty I should admit that it took so long to finish because my cousin had it for ages, it was she who actually sewed it up. But I sewed on the buttons! This took several months, but it’s all done now.

You are the lone ranger!”The next is better; I sewed up my headband. It only took 2 weeks or so after finishing it. Improvement, yes? Here it is with a little card, ready for posting. The P.O has put in self-service machines and for some reason I really got flustered trying to gauge the size of the packet, type in the address for a proof of posting certificate etc. It was all too much but the new cheese counter take-a-ticket-wait-for-the-number-to-be-called wait was far too long.

“…without cotton many mills in Lancashire would close down…”The friend who sent me Clara Parkes knitting book also popped in two balls of yarn. This one was bought in iknit, London, she was going to make an entrelac something or other but ended up unravelling it without keeping the yarn band. It feels like wool, or a good wool blend, and is sock or lace weight (are these really so similar in weight that they are virtually the same?) I like using a really fine thread, it’s different.

“There will be more houses to let, more houses to sell, more houses for everyone…..the Conservative pledge will be kept in full…”

“The time is now six fourteen and three quarters…”  What an excellent programme, if distracting listening to it while writing here.

What are you enjoying listening to or reading at the moment?

If you write your own Five Things post then feel free to add a link in the comments below, then we can all see what you’ve been up to.

** I just had a text and selfie of the headband being worn, this was super fast delivery as I only grappled with the self-service machine yesterday! It looks really nice and will definitely be in use next week on the ski slopes. Hurrah!**

Sewing & crochet: needle roll

I’ll admit that I’m feeling pretty pleased about my latest make. I wanted to try the merino that DMC Creative World recently sent me to try after my cheeky request. It’s definitely a nice yarn to crochet, the colours are delicious too. I’d say that although it’s labelled as DK weight it’s more of a baby cashmerino thickness; slightly thinner than other double knit yarns, but that wasn’t an issue.

It’s the first time, I can think of, that I’ve combined machine and hand sewing with crochet. It’s been fun to use several different skills on one item.
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I really like incorporating ribbon into things at the mo. What can I make next with some?
I changed the browny pinky ribbon back to the Mollie Makes chevron ribbon by the way, it just coordinated better I decided on the drawstring bag. (Just in case anyone was awake fretting about it. Tee hee.)
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This challenged my mathematical brain, which is the size of a peanut, as I worked out how large the separate pieces needed to be. The success is part luck and part crossing my fingers and toes.
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I gave the roll a good shake just to see if all the needle tips would fall out, but only the shiny metal Nova tips slipped out. So that’s fine.
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All the lovely sunny days have brought the tulips to the brink of opening. They are so close. The yellow tulips are last year’s pot and look like they’ll be just as pretty. I do love my seasonal pots which are a pretty sight at the front door.

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Thank you very much for all your likes and lovely comments about my sewing on my last post, they really made my day. It’s such basic stuff (especially after watching about Great British Sewing Bee last night – I get sweaty hands just watching them do the most incredibly tricky tasks in a short time!) and I’m grateful for your encouragement.

A lovely Monday

 

IMG_2723 A lovely Springtime pot of violas, with tulips shooting up what seems an inch a day.

IMG_2728Blossom on the plum tree, blue sky with gorgeous fluffy clouds. The washing machine is whizzing around with a load of towels. I’m loving using the washing line again.

IMG_2729Isn’t it pretty?

IMG_2737Catkins on the hazelnut tree. The squirrels plunder these in Autumn, just as we’ve noticed they have ripened, leaving us to crunch along the path on piles of discarded nutshells.

 

Springtime in London

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Spring has arrived, St James park on Saturday was full of swathes of daffodils and crocuses. Beautiful.

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Beautiful cherry blossom too.

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After a good walk in Green Park, coming across The Changing of the Guard and oohing and aahing over the flowers in St James Park we played the adventure bus game. Our rules are you get on the first bus that comes, pick a number each (we used coins in our pockets; on the count of ‘3-2-1 show!’) combine them and get off the corresponding number of stops later. Have a look around the area, then get on the first bus which comes to the stop nearest to you (try not to inadvertently catch the next across the road from where you arrived as you’re in danger of ending up exactly where you came from. I know this…!) One of the first stops was right outside Borough Market, at lunchtime. What great timing. Mmmmmmm.

Sunday was a day of rugby at Twickenham for some, I went to Spitalfields, East London. The weather was glorious and unseasonably warm at around 19 degrees.

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There’s been a market on the site since 1638 when Spittle Fields was a rural location on the outskirts of London. King Charles I licensed it to sell flesh, fowl and roots. Doesn’t sound too appealing put like that does it but it’s been a thriving marketplace since. It was latterly known for being a wholesale fruit and vegetable market before the business moved to the New Spitalfields market in 1991. Now mostly clothes, accessories and homewares are sold on the original site. The area has been refurbished and there’s many cafes, bars and restaurants where you can still purchase flesh, fowl and roots accompanied by a latte, beer or glass of wine.

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Brick Lane smelt very pungent with all the curry restaurants and food stalls in and around the old Truman Brewery. People browsed rails of goods and buskers, street artists and gamers lined the edges of the lane. The chess player was playing 2 games with space for another, rolling from side to side on his chair.

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I’ve seen this busker before, he’s really good and always attracts a crowd.

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The street art around the area is wonderful. Here’s a link to an excellent blog about Spitalfields which features information about and work of Roa, the street artist.
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Eleven Spitalfields have an interesting exhibition showing the photographs of C.A Mathew, who took a series of pictures around the area one Saturday in 1912. If you can pop in then I recommend you visit before it finishes on 27th April.

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I had a mooch around the Petticoat Lane market and then a wander around the square mile, which is the original financial district of the City of London, admiring the old and the new.

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Apparently England beat Wales in the rugby, I began a new crochet make and everyone was happy. All in all it was a very good weekend.

Did you have a good one? I hope the sun was shining for you too.

Bank holiday

Well, Plan B has happened this bank holiday weekend. Instead of being whisked away for a long weekend to the south coast, walking along beaches looking for messages in bottles washed up upon the sand, sea glass and interesting looking pebbles, I’ve had my leg up with ice packs on my knee and am going downstairs backwards. It seems that it is possible for your knee to go on holiday without you. You discover this when you try to get out of bed, but roll on the floor instead.

Ah well, the disappointment hasn’t lasted long since Plan A has been rebooked for another time. I’ve listened to hours of a fantastic new audio book and enjoyed the sunshine streaming into the house.

Here’s what I’ve been up to….

Now The Rainbow Granny Stripe is done and dusted its full steam ahead with The Rhubarb Ripple blanket.

Look what I’ve just bought, it stops the yarn rolling all over the place as I crochet. I might say that it also means less fluffy, bitty, velcro like yarn, but that would imply I haven’t hoovered for a while. So I won’t.

It’s a herb bucket, sooo pretty,  and less than £5 from Aldi.

Then on to The Spring Flower blanket. Now this turned into a bit of a saga, enjoyable but a saga all the same today.

I’m going to start darning ends in as I go. I promise. I do like darning but it is a major faff when all you want to do is the end bit of a project as I found out last week!

Patch is right; I do have a new obsession about joining methods. If I’ve asked you 1000s of questions about your method, and you’ve answered patiently, then a big thank you to you. I’ve also watched lots of YouTube videos and scoured my magazines and crochet books. I just wanted to find the method that I enjoyed. Not necessarily the best, but the most fun. So, the above is Patch’s sewn whip-stitch method. Ho hum, the tension is bad and it was a real fiddle. I used to do lots of cross stitch, tapestry and pathwork but am out of practice and it shows.

Next I tried double crochet which I used before on the dolls blankets

S has never been involved in my crochet endeavors so far, apart from nodding his head in a complimentary fashion (and using a piccy of The Rainbow GS on his desktop background. Now that must be high praise eh?!)  but he didn’t like the green. It was just too green, he said. I tried white as I wasn’t too sure about the greenness either.

DC versus sewing is definitely the most satisfying and the tension is a perfect match too. I really like the ridge, it’s a bit different and adds a nice texture to the work. But I’m not sure about the white. It doesn’t quite make sense to me. Why would you suddenly have that white? Has it snowed in Spring?! S isn’t sure about all the random colour combinations either. I’m happy with them though. I think…

Not sure. Really not sure…

More comparison….

Bye, bye white. Zip! It’s gone!

How long should it be? I’ll see how it measures up against the RR. I’ll do some edging on it too. I’ve undone my original green joins and rearranged the colours into less random pairs. I think S was right and it is easier on the eye.

It’s been really satisfying deciding on a method of joining, rearranging the squares and realizing that my Dublin hotel crocheted squares are going to come together nicely to make a blanket.

PLeAse DONt TelL mE YoU PReferReD ThE WhItE.

:-D

First Day of Spring

I’m never sure what these are, but they always look pretty at the end of the garden! I notice each year I photograph them that they’re never sharply in focus. I think they move deliberately, but I still think they’re pretty.

Nearly there. I’m still not sure what colour(s) they’ll be…

A food parcel sent as I had to cancel dinner plans yesterday. (I reasoned that sharing is fine; apart from when it’s nasty coldy germs.)

Coq au vin underneath, it will be yummy.

Lemon pudding with lemon sauce, and raspberries. Mmmm. Wonder if it’s ok to have for breakfast? Energy boost?

Earlyish morning meditation. I should have kept a note of the interesting blog I found on how to turn crochet into a mindful, meditative, activity. If I find it again I’ll share the link.

Oooh! These are my get-well-Rachell presents to myself, only ordered on Saturday.

I feel the need to say I don’t usually read chick-lit, but I’ve discovered JC and this is the third the fourth of hers I’ve read this year. They are so well written, entertaining and make me laugh out loud.

This Colgan book has obviously been through a few pairs of hands! I’ll google that hospice charity shop to see where it’s come from.

Happy Spring to you.

Now I’m off to do some proper work before the programme leader at Uni cuts my fingers off one by one. If that should occur please send me bars of ready broken-up chocolate. (Any sort apart from Galaxy.) Thanks very much. :-D

Rippling & Striping on a rainy weekend

I’d forgotten that there were tulips in this pot last year, what a lovely surprise!

There are signs of Spring everywhere…

Friday night I started a ripple blanket. It’s not such a good idea when you find that you’ve increased trebles four times instead of two, the following morning! Crochet after wine is probably not recommended. (Unless you love undoing crochet!)

I’m enjoying choosing the next colour for my rainbow granny stripe. I haven’t got a plan and that’s the way I like it.

Oops! The ripple is shorter than the granny stripe…but edging should sort that little issue.

I prefer Lucy’s ripple pattern (see her Attic 24 blog for pattern, link to the right), rather than the wave stitch I tried for the cushion cover featured in Nicki Trench’s Cute and Easy Crochet book (see link). My tension’s loose usually and Lucy’s ripple seems to suit it better. I do wonder if the rainbow granny stripe blanket will be more popular as it’s thicker, and probably warmer, than the ripple.

Finally look who surprised me…..

Ha! As I added these last two pics I heard this playing on my ipod:

“Tell her I’ll be waiting in the usual place….”

Hahaha!!

(Bryan Ferry’s Slave to Love)