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Saturday February 12, 2022

Unravel 2022


After just squeezing in a trip to Unravel in 2020, about 2 weeks before everything shut down for the duration, we are back again for the reopening in 2022. We had lunch at the Giggling Squid before starting on our retail experience, and almost immediately met some friends for a cup of tea once in the Maltings.

Having got our priorities right, we then did actually buy some yarn - I got my usual couple of balls of sock yarn (as if I had not had my fill of socks lately!), and then in a surprise departure, bought some skeins from The Knitting Shed and Debonnaire, with a plan to make shawls/wraps. The yarns below are variously merino, silk, and mohair.


Posted on February 12, 2022 at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday October 10, 2021

Pooh Corner


We went to Ashdown Forest, taking a walk to Pooh Corner and Poohsticks Bridge. The latter has been replaced with a replica (mostly because much of the old one rotted away). We played Poohsticks but not very competitively; according to Poohstick champion Eeyore, it is won "by letting your stick drop in a twitchy sort of way."

Pooh's House was also to be found but I am ashamed to say that it took me a while to remember that he "lived under the name of Mr Sanderz"


We also enjoyed a really wonderful (no - REALLY wonderful) Sunday Roast dinner at the Anchor Inn. Many pubs serve perfectly adequate Sunday lunches which most of us happily accept - but this one was truly exceptional... the moistness of the cooked meat, perfect vegetables and roast potatoes with fresh Yorkshire Puddings.... mmm.

Posted on October 10, 2021 at 2:58 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Thursday September 2, 2021



Rob now has a lifetime membership for the Wetlands, so in celebration we went to Barnes to take a look round. We had a lovely day, with plenty of outdoor space, despite a good number of visitors. We also saw some interesting birds - uppermost the Greenshank pointed out by a fellow enthusiast, but I also loved watching the Snipe who showed off his plumage delightfully for a good while.



I think the preening Heron here looks almost prehistoric.


Here am I making my way diffidently across a rope bridge - mainly cautious since Rob had just bounded over it and got his feet soaking wet, as the water was high enough to cover the boards when weighted down with a person!

Posted on September 2, 2021 at 2:57 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday July 10, 2021

Thursley Common


For all the time my sister lived along this road, I never visited the Common with her. So when I joined the local RSPB group for an outing, I was not as generally appalled as they all were to see the devastation caused by last year's dreadful fires. In fact - without sounding too blase - having seen the result of the fires in California forests over so many years, the sci-fi landscape seemed all rather familiar, and "natural". However, it is a terrible blow to the reserve; apart from the affect on wildlife, it destroyed all the carefully constructed boardwalks over the wetlands.
However, nature (and man) is doing its best to renew, with many brave trees like this silver birch, throwing up shoots from the base of its burnt out trunk.


The weather was moderate, (ie we avoided rain), but not an abundance of birds and dragonflies. I did finally see, but mostly hear, a Dartford Warbler flitting about in the scrub, and also, redstarts and linnets, as well as more familiar species.




Posted on July 10, 2021 at 7:18 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Tuesday June 2, 2020

Retirement: Day One

Dressed for Socially Distanced lunch with sister.
Champagne and ice cream.

Car gone; laptop gone; authorisations removed; phone line discontinued.

Posted on June 2, 2020 at 2:37 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday February 23, 2020

Unravel 2020


Alison and I met up for our second year together at the Maltings, including cheese scones, and another yummy meal out in the evening at the Giggling Squid in Farnham (does this now count as a tradition?). As requested last year, we returned to Kettle Yarns to show off our matching sweaters (we only felt slightly silly...).
We spent some good time looking at buttons and, at Textile Garden, Alison finally found some suitable ones for Orkney, (which is in the closing stages of construction: many ends!). Inspired by their beautiful buttons, I bought some vintage buttons....


...and a couple of balls of sock yarn (always useful...).


Posted on February 23, 2020 at 9:46 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday September 28, 2019

Glamour Puss


For some time Felicity has been engaged in a project to produce a Dada-esque book. I have been following progress, viewing the artwork, as she has been photographing her friends in (conical) costumes of her own creation, along with the most amazing varieties of bread (yes, bread - the sort you eat).
She always had it in mind that I would be photographed with my Mini car - not realising that I had long moved on to other models - however, this turned out to be a fortuitous setback, as she managed to find some wonderful (and willing) people with an original Mini with which we had a 1960's styled "shoot". I can tell you the "mini" dress was much longer than of that era but I am no longer a teenager so modesty prevailed. I did have a lot of difficulty not collapsing into giggles as Felicity's husband kept up a continual commentary of photographer's clich├ęs throughout - "work it baby - that's hot!" - which was particularly amusing when spoken by a rather shy academic.

Posted on September 28, 2019 at 4:46 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday February 24, 2019

Unravel 2019


I've had a splendid day (immersed in a wool experience like no other) at the Maltings, including cheese scones, followed by a sociable tea time, and a yummy meal out at the Giggling Squid in Farnham. Alison and I went to view all the retail opportunities without much expectation of any purchases and then bought some luxury wools from Kettle Yarns. I have been eyeing up this specific jumper for about 3 years now (makes me wish I'd knitted it when I first saw it) ...


...and Alison became enmeshed in the same project having been seduced by the wonderful colour range.
So now we are going to do a knitalong..... or so I plan...


Posted on February 24, 2019 at 5:37 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday June 24, 2018

Historical Breaks


As well as time for an excursion on the Lakes we visited some National Trust properties on the way to and from Wooldfest.
Outbound it was a new one on me (and Alison as well, of course): Packwood House. Usually I travel a bit further than Warwick before finding a place to stop but ... I set off a little late and the driver was ready to mutiny due to hunger. As it was Packwood has a lovely garden where we ate our perfect picnic, featuring my underused picnic blanket, a shared Pimms (driving), and wonderful sunshine. The staff were particularly helpful and pleasant, but although we took a walk in the gardens, we didn't find time to go round the house as we were many miles from our destination.

On the way back, we stopped off at my old favourite: Little Moreton Hall. Here we did go around the delightful old building, and then sat in the blazingly hot sun in the garden, eating cheese scones and a cream tea. Highlights included a medieval parade and entertainment (involving small children and musical instruments), and astonishingly tame birds - a sparrow snatching my scone while I was actually eating it, and a duck snuggling up on my foot under our table throughout the dining experience.


Posted on June 24, 2018 at 8:39 AM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday June 10, 2018

Alabama Chanin


Quite some time ago, Alison gave me a "kit" to make myself one of these skirts from instructions in the well-known designer's book. We finally got together and I made my own stencil and started painting. Here I am continuing at home. The weather is really warm and I have carried on the theme to make a "tent dress". It's looking good, but slow going, so expect another entry in some months time showing the finished objects.


Posted on June 10, 2018 at 5:28 PM

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Saturday April 15, 2017

France at Easter


A lovely Easter in France - and the last opportunity to see the Wisteria rampant all over the front of the cottage.
The cherry blossom as lovely as ever at this time of year.


Posted on April 15, 2017 at 8:16 AM

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Thursday March 30, 2017

A short break


Over to France for a few days prior to the planned commencement of the "great works". Our planning permission has now been accepted so hopefully we can soon start a foundation for the small glass room to replace the workman's shelter seen on the right of the cottage.
A cheering patch of honesty - which grows just anywhere and everywhere - next to our newly-created "Back Door" step.


Posted on March 30, 2017 at 8:15 AM

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Saturday December 10, 2016

Seasonal fun


Morris Men in Kingston "annoying Santa" (!)


Posted on December 10, 2016 at 4:55 PM

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Sunday November 13, 2016

Small person gansey


I delivered the completed sweater to Penelope who obligingly seems to fit into it quite well.

It's a fishing smock from the vintage Debbie Bliss book "Nautical Knits for Kids" . Originally designed for Rowan Denim, I used some vintage Sirdar Tropicana "cotton effect" 4 ply - which is acrylic, and much finer than Denim but I wanted the result to be smaller, and luckily it seems to have kept its proportions and looks right.

Posted on November 13, 2016 at 5:10 PM

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Sunday August 28, 2016

More partying


We are in France for the Bank Holiday weekend, and it was Lloyd's birthday. I seemed unable to take any decent photos (everyone would keep moving around!) so here he is sharing a joke with his Mother-in-Law while his sister brings a suitably large cake.


Later on Lisa and I set the world to rights by the pond - the reason for the looks of consternation is we were watching the kids ("young adults" - an in fact also some rather older adults) swimming and horsing around. Drowning seemed a real possibility....


And a couple of other views while we were there. The mackerel sky about sums up the weather we experienced - and I weeded, dug out, and replaced the edging around, what is left of the flower bed in front of the kitchen (where the door used to be).


Posted on August 28, 2016 at 7:21 PM

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Monday May 4, 2015



Baby Scott arrived 3 weeks early - so she is 2 weeks old already (and impossibly cute). Her parents are .... well.... thrilled, delighted, proud... all that stuff.

[I feel more knitting coming on - in my bumper wool frenzy before Christmas, I acquired (accidentally) quite a lot of white 3ply...]

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 6:16 PM

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Sunday August 18, 2013



Today I went to see Sara (in her new house), little Florence, Rich, and her parents. Actually, I did not spend too much time socialising as we went out walking "downtown" (and it's a lovely town - Rob and I considered moving there when we left Chichester). We visited the allotments, where her Father has two plots (he gave me tips on growing sweet peas - I have managed a single bloom so far - planted them too late or course. See below.)


Anyway - despite wonderful weather and a lovely setting - I took not a single photo - hence the inclusion of my humble bloom above.
However, I did manage to come away with a simply wonderfully generous gift - so its photo graces the head of this page. Beautiful laceweight Posh Yarn - spent rest of day looking for that special project for it.

[This was my first major outing in my "new" mini - it's lovely - and as a source of entertainment it never ceases. Firstly, as it's a company car, they scared me by informing me that it has a Telematics system installed - to check my driving; turns out that this was not true after all - I am relieved to say. After that, the car scared me by cutting the engine while I was waiting at traffic, and appearing to leave the rear doors unlocked despite central locking. All working as designed it seems - an energy saving concept and a proximity key - I really must read the manual! The latter gave us hours if fun while George kept saying "no - it is locked" and then I kept opening it - not realising it was due to my having the key in my hand at the time.]

Posted on August 18, 2013 at 7:50 PM

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Saturday June 29, 2013



When I got home I had a surprise parcel waiting for me with a delightful cotton top Alison has knitted for me. I had to put it on immediately of course - and it looks great I think.
It's the Regatta Tee by Olga Casey.

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 6:34 PM

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Sunday November 25, 2012

Lunch at Dragon's Green


We went for our annual family outing with David at "the usual venue" - lovely food and a jolly time. [Unfortunately George couldn't make it this year as he has a cold that just won't go away, and didn't want to infect anyone else.]

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM

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Sunday November 4, 2012

California Cafe and Farewells


So we just had time for a very special brunch before leaving for the airport. Here's Fin* tucking into his breakfast food medley. I am never able to remember to take photos at the start of the meal - too anxious to get on with the serious business of eating - however I did manage to remember this time before I actually licked the plate clean, so below is my own (minus a bite) plate of Eggs Benedict. Yum.


The weather this weekend is just lovely and sunny - a bit of a change from the last week of cold grey skies - and snow! (albeit when we were further north). We strolled back along University in the sunshine - and finally we were off to San Francisco where I began my thankfully uneventful journey back to the UK.

* In case you were worried about Adam and Nigel apparently missing out on all the fun over the past two days - well, of course, they have been. They have both been at scout camp; hence I had to say my fond farewells to them on Friday. However we have seen regular updates on facebook and they seem to be having their own kind of fun.

Posted on November 4, 2012 at 10:27 AM

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Saturday November 3, 2012

Santa Cruz


The holiday would not be complete without a visit to Santa Cruz.
We had the usual lovely fish and chips on the Pier at Stagnaro Bros., and Fin tried a bit of fishing; it was lovely in the autumnal sunshine - but maybe a bit too windy to stand much of a chance catching any fish.


Posted on November 3, 2012 at 10:26 AM

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Friday November 2, 2012

At home with the Woodlands


Early morning coffee is always themed at the Woodlands. Today we are influenced by the astonishing banana crop from Alison's tree in the garden, and we may take coffee on the terrace or in the cabana. Often we are joined by well-known celebrities (even if only in spirit). The resemblance is uncanny isn't it?



After coffee we had the energy to visit Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, who carry stock of Jamieson's yarns, which we each bought to make Kate Davies' Sheep Carousel tea cosy. After a great deal of deliberation, I bought the inspired combination of black and (you guessed it) white, while Alison went for a sophisticated combination of brick red and dark brown.



Posted on November 2, 2012 at 11:19 AM

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Wednesday October 31, 2012

Los Gatos and Halloween


What can I say?
Yes - we did go out like this.


Earlier in the day I went out and about in downtown Los Gatos admiring the Halloween decorations in the shops on my way to visit Yarn Dogs. On the way back I dropped in at Icing on the Cake. [Alison had taken me there on Sunday to get Nigel's birthday cake]. I picked up a few highly imaginative "vampire bites" cup cakes, which, when it came to it, we were much too full of candy to eat in the evening!

Posted on October 31, 2012 at 10:25 AM

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Saturday October 27, 2012

Silk and Colour (or possibly color)


This was our final day at SOAR and I am going to start with our final class all about silk production run by Michael Cook.

I am thoroughly glad I did the class as it's not something you would casually take on at home, but I think I can say that Alison was a little less taken with it than I - boiling and stirring silk cocoons is not to everyone's taste - even when the bugs have been previously euthanised and are not suffering further. Ever since we arrived at the snowy resort, I seem to have lost my sense of smell - whether due to the cold or the altitude I do not know, but it certainly seems it was very helpful in this class, since the unpleasant smell of the boiling cocoons was quite overwhelming (apparently).

The first part of the class was producing silk thread from cocoons and the whole process was very interesting (you can see me above being very interested, winding my silk filament onto a drying frame). The thread is drawn out from multiple cocoons, boiling in a bath, dried, twisted (as opposed to spun), and finally washed to remove the gum.

The second part of the class was making a silk hanky from the cocoons, where the cocoons were also boiled, but then taken individually and flattened, after the bugs had been removed (eeuw!). Interestingly, Michael demoed this part but you can see below he really does not like it.


Michael is a weaver producing fabulous miniature woven silks, and he breeds some silk worms himself as well as importing the many cocoons it takes him to support his habit. You can see a little weaving round his neck, which is a QR code sampler; we though this a great novelty and Alison swiftly read it into her iPhone.

Our morning was spent in a much less messy and more fluffy environment with Deb Menz. I liked this class very much - I had read all the colour wheel stuff but I realise now - not properly. The exercises in blending colours were designed to illustrate the difference between hue, value, and intensity, and to show the effects of blending with families of colour as opposed to using complementary colours (which I tell you right now, is grey). I was pleased to find there is an index card to help you decide on the value of a colour if you don't have much of an eye for it - something I could well use in fair isle knitting as well as quilting.


The little nests that Alison and I produced with our newly acquired hackle were very pleasing - see below. While we were working, Deb talked to us about her early experimentation with colour from which she had many sample skeins to illustrate her points. This was actually a very valuable mini-lecture, given almost in passing and I thought in hindsight it warranted more of my attention than I was able to give it while working.



After this full day of heavy concentration, Alison bravely drove us home.

Posted on October 27, 2012 at 10:22 AM

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Friday October 26, 2012

Wild Downs and the Market


This is Mr Lendrum - (I know!! so exciting!) - letting us have a go on his wheels in the marketplace. We met him over dinner, and I think he was a bit bemused at our delight in meeting a real person behind the family name, (Mr Ashford was there too). Truthfully though, I have always been keen on Lendrum wheels - ever since I first tried Janet's at Epsom Spinners - and it is noticeable how many of the tutors have them, (admittedly I suspect they are not their sole wheels though, but good for travelling).

Our first class today covered drawing techniques with Jacey Boggs. It was a great class, but for some reason (intense concentration) I failed to take any photos. So as she is such an appealing teacher, here is a You Tube item where she is publicising her book about fancy plying.

She did a 3 day workshop on this before we arrived, and although our interest in either creating or using these novelty yarns is limited, we did buy her book on the subject. Alison firmly wished she had signed up for plying rather than silk - which was reenforced once we finally did the silk class... more on that later.

Meanwhile - back in our class - Jacey skillfully led us from short forward draw seamlessly through to achieving long draw with apparently no problems at all - though I will reitterate that the ability to do long draw depends a good deal on having well-prepared fibre/rollags.
This turned out to be just as well, since the afternoon class was with Judith McKenzie ** ["Three Wild Downs"], and the very first fibre she gave out came with the words "now we're going to spin this woollen spun" - where before the morning class, we would have been unable to comply. Even if we'd not spun anything in Judith's class, though, it is simply wonderful just to sit and listen to her talk - mesmorising. However, spinning the fibres was a real treat, and we hurried to the marketplace immediately afterwards to secure ourselves some cashmere, yak, and bison. [This is a recurring theme - every time we did a class we rushed to purchase the fibre or books concerned...!].

** Since returning to the UK we heard the terrible news that, while at SOAR, Judith's entire studio burnt down destroying all her work and equipment. Read more about her friends efforts to help her rebuild here.

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM

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Thursday October 25, 2012

Ski Hut


Here we are setting off for our classes. Today it is "spinning the yarn you want" with Amy Tyler. All year we have been certain that after this we will not need any other classes, as this is all we need to do: Spin the Yarn We Want.
All I can say is - there's a lot to this spinning lark.

The class was lots of fun and surprisingly exhausting. In fact, I can say in retrospect that for some reason I never foresaw quite how tiring SOAR would be to be, getting up for 9 am starts and being so highly focussed throughout the entire day.

The event logistics, and the arrangements for the meals were excellent throughout - though no-one was quite ready for the snow, and Alison spent the first 10 minutes of the day ferrying fellow-attendees (slithering about clutching their spinning wheels) to their various classes in her car, before we finally drove to our own class.

Yesterday evening we arrived in the dark with the extremely slippery conditions and parked up at reception as we were only just in time for dinner. We swiftly established that there is no bar.... (no bar!!) - hard to imagine a ski resort with no bar - wonderful log fire but no egg nogs etc to drink around it.... Everyone helpfully happy to tell us that you can buy wine with dinner or that we could get liquor by driving to the local town - not quite comprehending the concept of social drinking somehow...
So we then drove round to Ski Hut (easily walkable in better weather) and settled into our well-appointed room, which has 2 huge beds, a simply vast bathroom, and a comfortable sitting room (where we could make a start on our solitary drinking without the embarassing possibility of being seen to imbibe).

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM

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Wednesday October 24, 2012

To Tahoe


So our journey North (or possibly East... not entirely sure where we are!) begins (and ended as it turned out) in the snow.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....


... and it's only October...


Posted on October 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM

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Tuesday October 23, 2012

Dyeing at the cabin

Hurrah! Here I am at long last after a year of anticipation visiting Alison - currently at her "cabin in the woods" prior to travelling to SOAR in Granlibakken. We came here to do some dyeing well away from children and her new kitchen work-surfaces.


A great start on the week of fun - though surprisingly tiring - and boy is it cold here. To everyone's amazement, (as I arrived in San Francisco last Friday and it was hot and sunny), they were predicting snow at Tahoe this week. Sure enough, when we woke at the cabin this morning, everything was covered in a layer of snow. The route we had planned to take to Tahoe across the mountains is closed so we are taking the main roads on the long way round tomorrow.


We made quite a day of it, mixing up all the dyes (far too much!) and colouring 3 sock blanks and several types of fleece, including some silk and merino. (Note the Nordic Cushions just visible in the background).
We finished the day spinning and watching sentimental children's movies in the shape of Pollyanna (not the Disney version with Hayley Mills 1960 but the TV movie from 2003) and Ballet Shoes (also a TV movie from 2007). Both of these are British productions, where Polyanna, in an interesting departure from the norm, relocates the American story to an English location (the Lake District - so the backdrop scenery is particularly beautiful as well). I always thought they did a very good job of this movie, though a real flavour of the American manners and society still seeps through somehow, seeming not quite right for even rural Victorian England; this isn't a detractor though - thoroughly charming.

Posted on October 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM

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Saturday June 23, 2012



We spent the day in Keswick. I was keen to review the pencil museum but for some reason Helen was less so. We began by parking at the little theatre and getting our tickets for the evening performance of Dry Rot - a revival of the Whitehall farce of 1954.
After that we went for a short walk on footpath opposite the theatre, skirting the incumbent flock of sheep - which served only to ensure I had sopping wet feet throughout day 2 as well. After astute observation (!) it became clear to us that the water was very high and had submerged footpaths (to the right of the photo) and boathouses (to the left). The solitary little figure is Helen.

After pootling about shopping, we returned to the hotel to relax and warm up before heading out to the theatre again. Helen was a bit tight lipped about the play ("dated") - but for myself it pretty well lived up to my every expectation.


Posted on June 23, 2012 at 11:06 PM

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Friday June 22, 2012

Woolfest 2012

There were some delightful exhibits this year including these 3D fabric renditions of well-known paintings; the sunflowers I thought were especially good.

VanGoghL.jpg MunchL.jpg KlimtL.jpg

I bought lots of excellent items (mostly fluff and string so I'm not documenting them in detail here). I met up with Carol and Pete Leonard again, and David Herring who supplied the missing "bits" for my wheel - so tiny I need to keep a firm hand on myself to avoid misplacing them after all that. I gave one of the exhibitors cause to giggle as I was wandering around muttering "I must not lose my washers and spring pin" - which she felt was some kind of euphemism of the same ilk as keeping my hand on my ha'penny...

I notice that Susan Crawford had a nice retro "Jubilee" book of patterns on sale (Coronation Knits) - all from the era of the coronation - charming idea. And Kate Davies ("Needled") had a lovely new pattern for a sheep tea cosy which I acquired on a commission from Alison.

CoronationKnits.jpg SheepCarousel.jpg

We came down to the Lake District yesterday, with Helen satisfying my need to visit TK Max and the outlet centre on the way. The weather had turned grim as we drove south - but I seem to have booked a rather splendid country house hotel, which puts a better complexion on things. We immediately booked into the restaurant for last night and tonight, where we found the food excellent - as was breakfast this morning.

Despite the comfort of hot baths and good food at the end of the day, I have to say, Woolfest was not such a great experience for me this year. Overall, I feel that this is a very personal experience and I am not sure that I expect that the organisers could - or should even - take any notice of my gripes.
In summary I think, I am not enjoying the fact that the event is getting bigger - I saw no need to extend the range of stallholders; the consequence seems to be to have changed the mix to include more straight knitting wools, fabrics, buttons etc - so I am seeing all the same people I usually see at Alexandra Palace. The previous exhibition area is now given over to teas and seating, and the Long Draw Spinners (to name but one exhibitor) had been banished to a small corner stall which is not appropriate to view their demonstrations. I can see the visitor numbers will inevitably increase and I am pleased for the organisers - but it had somehow lost its unique emphasis on the animals and the raw fleece and materials. [In passing the Ring several times and having a quick look in, there seemed to be no rare-breed parade this year - or I certainly missed it if there were - and all I saw was a man reading from a rather dull script to a tiny audience, where the ring had been packed out in the past.].
My other selfish whine is that I was not able to park right outside the front of the building as in past years. Now - I know - not everyone can and the increased visitor numbers and vendors mean they have to use the facilities to better suit people's real needs - it's inevitable. But to lose this privilege in conjunction with the truly awful weather - having to park in a field some distance away for the first time, walk across a swamp, through a stepped cascading river of water down to queue outside the back of the venue in the torrential rain to buy tickets - which along with the programme were drenched before we even made it inside..... an unfortunate combination. I think even their attempts to improve the toilet facilities (I admit there was always a queue) were also thwarted by the weather. And - again purely selfishly - the things they had "improved", I do not see as improvements because basically I had no issue with them in the past.
If you had asked me in advance, I was not at all concerned about the bad weather, thinking that as it is all under cover it was not really a weather-dependent event. However, starting (and continuing) the day with sopping wet feet and carrying a sopping wet kagool around (which made my purchases wet - not good for books and patterns), made a great difference to my pleasure in the day. I know there is a supposed British stiff upper lip and we're all in it together making the best of things despite the weather and so on... but it's just not fun.

Posted on June 22, 2012 at 11:56 PM

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Wednesday June 20, 2012

Glasgow Culture Vultures


Today we are in Glasgow to see an outdoor production of The Tempest in the Botanic Gardens. Here is the excited audience before the play begins; excited with the thrill of worrying whether or not we will all be drenched. [It has been raining solidly in various parts of the country for some days now, although my stay in Slockavullin drove me to don my shorts at one point.] However, despite the much publicised downpour predicted for the evening, it stayed fine throughout, and was a great performance.
Our hotel was marvellously convenient, and I had to take this picture of the room - resplendent with chandelier, and chaise longue (as well as the twin beds) - and you can just see that Helen has just made 2 mugs of tea. It was all charming and not to mention very good value - but don't even think about trying to check in after hours.... you have been warned...


Posted on June 20, 2012 at 11:35 PM

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Tuesday June 19, 2012

Crinan Canal Walk (...and tea...)

I am staying with Helen for a few days and then we are off to Woolfest.


We went for a "wee walk" (hike) along the canal. And - as Helen says - the best thing about a wee walk is the tea room at the other end.


Posted on June 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

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Thursday April 26, 2012

Helen and her cardi


I finally handed over Helen's belated birthday present when we managed to meet at a trendy cafe in Surbiton....

[...and I also received my birthday presents which were a stunning bracelet and the book of knitted egg cosies - the latter is a bit if a risk as we can now all guess what everyone will be getting next year!]

Posted on April 26, 2012 at 6:13 PM

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Thursday April 5, 2012

Le Beau...


We dropped in on Ava and Peter to see the grandchildren who are there "en masse" for the Easter holiday (that is Jacob and Isobel). I had finished the little sailor outfit so took it with me and within minutes Jacob was wearing it. The beret - as George (who knows a thing or two) had predicted - was too small - so I was forced to perform open-hat surgery on the kitchen table using only wooden barbecue skewers. [I really find it hard to believe that there is someone who has no knitting needles whatever... made mental note to never leave home without knitting bag ever again].
Here Jacob is obligingly posing for his public with Gemma.

Posted on April 5, 2012 at 2:00 PM


Well the little hat looks very jaunty! I like the whole outfit.

Posted by: Alison on April 5, 2012 7:05 PM

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Sunday March 11, 2012

Ride a Cock Horse

As we prepared to leave the area, we fell to talking about the nursery rhyme. I resolved to check it out. As expected there's a lot of information and misinformation on the web. As I read one explanation after another, I preferred each one to the last, and finally I came upon this summary of the various suggestions, which I think provides a balanced view, and is well worth reading.
One thing that does seem clear is that "Banbury Cross" probably refers to the road intersection rather than a physical cross; the proven dates associated with the rhyme, compared with the various identities mooted for the "lady", demonstrate that, however tempting, some of the explanations really cannot be true. The link with pagan Irish rituals seems tenuous and yet at the same time highly plausible.


Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes

So I'm off home now - and never did get to eat a Banbury Cake. Maybe next time...

Posted on March 11, 2012 at 2:11 PM

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Saturday March 10, 2012

WTHS Oxford and Banbury

A day out in Oxford.

The evening meal was the usual curry at the Sheesh Mahal in Banbury - followed by some further refreshments at a local hostelry... (back to the Reindeer of course!). Sad to say there were even more absences this year; Nicolette is not well, and Robert was planning to be there but his Father was taken ill. Our usual toast, with warmest wishes, to absent friends...

Posted on March 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM

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Friday March 9, 2012

The Reindeer Inn

Time again for the WTHS reunion. This year it was "Oxford" but hotels there were way off our budgets so we are staying in Banbury. Those who arrived today dined at the Reindeer Inn which offered excellent pub food served in fascinating surroundings.

The pub is steeped in history. The Globe Room in which we ate was where Cromwell is said to have planned the Battle of Edgehill, and which was also used as a courtroom to try the Royalists. It still has all the original oak panelling - though it has been on a bit of a journey between now and then.
On top of all that, I cannot emphasise enough how truly wonderful the staff there were. I can thoroughly recommend it - and all at excellent prices.

The pubs seem to have been key in housing both sides in the Civil War and the following quote particularly pleased me with the reference to pub names: The Roundheads (the Parliamentarians) and Cavaliers (the Royalists) - used to billet their troops in alehouses, taverns and inns. As the progress of the war swung in favour of one side and then the other, an alehouse would change its name from say, the King's Head to the Nag's Head and back again.

Posted on March 9, 2012 at 11:16 PM

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Thursday August 25, 2011

Sheep may safely graze.


On the way back from a lunch date at Dragons Green, I noticed signs advertising a windmill at Shipley, so I followed to take a look, and have a walk around the village. The windmill was made more famous by having featured in Jonathan Creek, and is no longer open to the public apparently - and I could not even find the adjacent path from which "it can be viewed externally" - this was as close as I got.


Me and the sheep got a little closer.


The lunch date was with my sister and cousin David. She and I were incapable of taking a decent photo with my phone, but I want to record the day so I went for the ones where we were at least smiling.



Posted on August 25, 2011 at 9:49 PM

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Thursday August 4, 2011

The Visit


Alison found the time to come and stay during her visit to the UK. We had such a lovely time that I'm ashamed to say this is the only photographic record I have! We went walking to Walton pond and Alison practiced with her new SLR camera.
We may have done a bit of spinning........

Posted on August 4, 2011 at 7:56 PM

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Friday June 24, 2011



I'm visiting Helen in Slockavullin (that's a place...).
It's the first time I've been to her place, although she's been there some years now, and this is her wonderful newly fitted kitchen, with Helen herself - mistress of all she surveys.

Helen picked me up in Glasgow (early) and we spent the day there, eating and shopping. I was very keen to take lunch at the famous Willow Tea Rooms, and managed to get a photo of the more formal dining room (not available for lunch).


When I shared Helen's house for a short time in Kingston, we used to put together garden pots for the tiny patio, so on this visit, we did a reprise, though her garden is now much bigger. This pot is worthy of note as it's a departure from our tried and tested colour scheme.


Her garden is on a slope and this is a picture of the summer house at the top of the garden, which is also home to a large family of house martins which Helen was able to watch at close quarters as they progressed and finally fledged.


The weather was not good for my sight-seeing day, but somehow the fantastic scenery and ancient standing stones are well-suited to the grey skies with a touch of rain in the air.


As is often the case with British weather, a day later and we enjoying a final breakfast in the garden, before setting off south to the Lake District. If we look wild and somewhat hysterical in this photo, blame the automatic camera function, which involves my running round to take my position just in time.


... and by evening we were in Borrowdale at our delightful B&B with even more fantastic scenery - this a view from our bedroom window and...


.... a nice cup of tea... what else?


Posted on June 24, 2011 at 9:13 PM

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Saturday March 5, 2011

The Friends - in Chichester


This year it was Chichester, which was sufficiently close for me to make it a day trip. We may have had a few informal pre-dinner drinks (below) - followed by the traditional curry (above).

Paul-Robert-Chris.jpg WTHSWAGs2011.jpg Jane-Chris.jpg

It was a lovely afternoon, so prior to meeting everyone, I took a walk around the walls - which I don't remember doing very much (if at all) when I lived here.


There was great excitement in East Street where there had clearly been a fire - apparently affecting Fat Face and the accommodation above.


I finished off my sight-seeing by visiting the cathedral and the Bishops gardens. I tried to photograph the Chagall window but with limited success. (Hard to get the correct angle and a stable position in which to focus).


Posted on March 5, 2011 at 11:43 PM

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Sunday March 7, 2010

Is it that time already..?


Can't believe it's already a year since I met up with some of my old school friends. Anyway - here we are again in Canterbury this time. It is so great to see everyone.

Canterbury is a lovely city - I don;t think I have ever been there before - so I took a few photos and admired the cathedral from afar.


This is because I was too mean to pay the really excessive charge to get in. I don't know why it offends me so - but it does. Intellectually I believe that in a time when fewer and fewer go to church then lots of us heathens that want to trip around as tourists should fund the building - but my heart feels it's wrong. Still - Canterbury as a religious tourist attraction with tacky souvenirs etc is very traditional - probably dates back to the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 causing a massive increase in urban development in Southwark, and even the reconstruction of London Bridge as pilgrims followed the route of Becket's last journey from there to Canterbury (as described in the Canterbury Tales in the late 1300s).


Above is a detail of the Christ Church Gate - off Butter Market (below) and where you "pay". The centre statue of Christ dates only from 1991 - the original bronze having been destroyed during the Civil War in 1642.


Posted on March 7, 2010 at 1:29 PM

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Sunday March 8, 2009


I have just spent a really great weekend in Worcester, meeting up with friends I have not really associated with for about 35 years. We all attended the Worthing Technical High School through the dawn of the 1970s. Here we are now - just the same - well - maybe a bit older - and with wives and girlfriends.

Tina (Christina) Mick (Titch) Robert David Nicolette Chris Frank Paul Sheila Ronnie Alison Sylvia Jane Pita Molly Kas

Our school was opened in 1955 as a school designed for vocational study; my own brother was one of the first students in the brand new school. It was endowed with excellent metalwork, woodwork, and home economics departments - and also a small farm!. By the time we were there, this educational experiment had been abandoned, and it was a conventional (although co-ed) grammar. Soon after we left it changed its name and merged with the adjacent school to become a "comprehensive". Now, my friends tell me, they have pulled the old building down, ("without even asking us!")

When we arrived in Worcester, George and I wandered around the town and visited the cathedral, where the Chamber Choir was practising for an early evening performance.

George was absorbed in reading a memorial to poor Richard Solly who in 1803 "whilft on a Tour of Pleafure with his Family was feized with an Inflammation of the Inteftines, which in five Days terminated his Life". George empathises with those who have inflammation of the Inteftines.
Thank heavens for modern medicine.

After George left, I rushed round the town alone - shopping. I was extremely successful, managing to acquire two coats and a pair of shoes - all bargains of course. I also bought myself some bamboo sock needles - a new venture in needles - as I seem to have a lot of sock wool, (not to mention patterns), to get through.

Posted on March 8, 2009 at 8:37 PM

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Friday October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

Somehow I need to make my own personal acknowledgement of a friend that I have not seen since I was at school. Over the past couple of days I have been reminded of a lot of people I have not thought of for years. I'm sure I have better photos than this one, but on reflection this is the most appropriate. Here are some of the lads, (the ones who could sing), who still keep in touch with one another - all in costume for HMS Pinafore (just in case you think I went to a rather odd school).


Lots of fun ...but life can play hard tricks.

Posted on October 31, 2008 at 11:50 AM

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Saturday June 14, 2008

The Grand Day Out

We went to see Sheelagh and Roger and spent the day together at Blenheim Palace. Contrary to all the weather reports all week and even this very morning... it was a glorious day - and we had a lovely time. Lots of tea was drunk and ice creams consumed. Perfect.


This is an Italian style garden which was our view over lunch. Note that the interesting curved shaping is a feature of the perspective of my photography rather than the design!


...so nice I snapped it twice... our table marked on the right with a red circle...


Going to Blenheim is not an inexpensive day out, but well worth it - they have put a lot of effort into many exhibits, and restored a lot of parts of the gardens. We skipped "the Secret History" exhibition and "Music in the Afternoon" in favour of the gardens, as it was truly such a lovely day. We especially liked the "Secret Garden" - here is a tiny popup section.


I was obviously well-schooled, as, despite having no prior knowledge of the house, (except the name), the gardens really scream Capability Brown - I wonder if our school text books used photos of Blenheim as an example.

We finished our trip by going around the maze - it was late in the day but we were very confident, and we found our way in and out very easily - though it was a bit of a trek. Sadly we discovered we had entered through the "exit" so we did not quite complete the challenge they had in mind. [Duh!]

Later we were back at at Sheelagh and Roger's, being treated to a delicious home cooked meal, in the peaceful surroundings of their conservatory and garden. Even more perfect.

Posted on June 14, 2008 at 11:23 PM

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Sunday June 24, 2007

Debout, debout, debout!

And so we come to the main event for the weekend - Peter turned 50 in April and he and Ava organised a splendid party to celebrate. The food was fantastic and all produced by Ava and friends.


As cool as you can look with an "air" guitar:



And the memorable "chanson paillarde", which seems designed to slaughter the celebrant in the shortest possible time.

debout.jpg Ceux qui sont nés aus mois d'avril
Debout, debout, debout!
Prenez votre verre à la main
Et buvez le jusqu'à la fin.

La fin, la fin, la fin, la fin.....

Ceux qui sont nés aus mois de juin....
You get the idea?

[This was Janvier - to which Ava admitted but I am ashamed to say I did not.... ]

Posted on June 24, 2007 at 10:03 AM

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Friday March 16, 2007

Good food, hard work, and cheerful company.

I am not sure we qualify on the hard work front but Ava and Peter, certainly do, and we spent the evening with them. Peter was late home as he is frantically trying to finish two house refurbishments to a March deadline. Ava as been managing the small holding alone for a few days, while Peter was in England; she had a disappointing time with her tiny flock of lambs, only one surviving out of the 5 born. After that it was continuous antibiotic injections for the ewes, to deal with infections ensuing from difficult labours. [Bruno, our French gardener, says that there have been a lot of lambs lost this year, although he himself was lucky, with his 5 lambs all surviving]. Ava's sheep are Suffolk, and, taking care of my own interests, despite my friend's troubles, I have placed the order for my fleece when shearing time comes.

My sister has sadly had to have her Jacob ram put down as he has now fully matured and was dangerously aggressive. He did his duty this year, though, and sired several chocolate brown lambs, so I have also placed an order for one of those fleeces as well. I think Jacob was a cross, and apparently these usually produce chocolate fleece rather than the usual mixed. So now I can spin all shades of brown and make arty lopi (or lumpy) sweaters....

Ava had booked us into a great restaurant, Les Martinaises, just outside Ducey, which is their nearest "proper" town. I ate warm oysters, lamb cutlets, and then finished with delices de pommes. [George ate my cheese course]. We are now both so stuffed, it's hard to even contemplate getting up the stairs to bed.

Posted on March 16, 2007 at 11:08 PM