Nature’s fridge…

Saturdays have become sociable ‘let’s get busy with the loppers’ day. After their hard work on the front garden the Commando Gardeners DSCN1261

returned and tackled the back garden. While JG – who’d come over with her car – and I did a couple of trip tips (how does sooooo much stuff find its graveyard in the garage?!) KC and MR scraped, dug, lopped (tired just listing this…), hoed, raked and dug over the back garden. A further transformation and another BIG THANK YOU to the Commando Gardeners and to JG who helped me take several more steps to a de-cluttered garage. And all for a bowl of butterbean soup…and good friendship.

I’ve loved the last couple of weeks sharing a hearty soup, crusty bread, cheese and of course copious amounts of tea with friends after all that hard work.

Time for relaxing with a crochet project… or two. Even tho’ it has certainly not been the coldest winter on record it has been cold enough to use nature’s fridge i.e. pop milk outside office window* to keep cool in between cuppas. My colleague and I had tried carrier bags but in wet and windy Britain they just got waterlogged  and let’s face it they were not very pretty! Crochet (what else?!) provided the answer. Cast your mind back to the bottle carrier pattern

and then think of the colourful twine JG gave me,

adapt the pattern and voila a milk bottle carrier perfect for Nature’s fridge:

get the kettle on!

Still on the go the Long Way Home shawl. I was beginning to see why it was so named. Not a Weekend Shawl this new wrap has taken me a couple of weeks. From its small beginnings,

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it started to grow, DSCN1250

and now Linda’s glorious, snuggly, soft Alpaca blend wool

has blossomed into a wonderful, stylish shawl

which I can’t wait to wear to Carlisle in the morning.

And while I’m still devouring the hilarious Peter Grant series of books of Ben Aaronovitch,

looking forward to one more (awaiting it’s arrival as a request at Kendal library), DownloadedFile-1

and with days becoming lighter the prospect of Monday morning doesn’t seem too daunting. Bring it on.

*n.b. our office window is above a rear roof and nobody can pass underneath – don’t try this where there is any possibility of someone or something walking underneath…that’s the end of the health and safety warning folks!

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Commando Gardeners

Today I was visited by the Commando Gardeners alias my good friends KC and her husband MR who must be REALLY good friends ‘cos they came to help me get to grips with the garden…no mean feat. They got stuck in right away, DSCN1252

and soon the moss on the drive was a thing of the past, DSCN1254

and the shrubs were snipped into shape.

They really (literally) put their backs into it and maintained standards of colourful glamour while doing it to boot! DSCN1255

The results of all their hard work were stunning. A clean drive, DSCN1265

beautifully clipped shrubs and dug over beds,

and a cleared and cleaned side path. DSCN1268

Thank you Commando Gardeners,

you are my super heroes!

Just as we were admiring the spruced up garden (I keep going out to have a look at it) AW called in on her way back from providing Sedbergh with one of the cheeriest libraries in Cumbria. With her she brought a little daffodilly sunshine and tales from her recent trip to Rome (together with chocolate from the Eternal City…heavenly).

A happy little gathering. Me happiest of all…just nipping out to check on the garden….

Back in the room…

Converted to the use of a shawl – remember the weekend shawl? – and having been given some of Linda’s beautiful wool too good for small projects,

I’ve started on a new winter warmer.

From a pattern by Mercy Schwisow, the Long Way Home Shawl can be found on Ravelry. The wrap is easily worked in treble crochet (I think it’s a US pattern so I’ve converted DCs to TRs) with a spine of chain spaces. The alpaca wool is extremely soft and definitely snuggly but it is soooooo fine that it won’t be crocheted in a weekend….so I had better get back to it…..

Happy memories…and the Monet

Time to reveal the Monet in the garage…. DSCN1235

Monet? you query. Yes Monet,

See! Well yes it’s not that Monet (Claude) but it is his great nephew (Jason). And the happy memory? Visiting his Bayswater studio in the late ’60s with my lovely father (Vati to me Opi to my children) to have this portrait painted. Bless him he stayed for hours trying to keep me amused while my ten year old self sat as still as any self-respecting schoolgirl could for the portrait. Here it is in all it’s glory

By the way the multi-coloured hexagonal patterned dress drove the artist mad.

Now to a form of art I am more familiar with, the fleecy kind. When the lovely Linda left us her woolly stash remained and thanks to her friend Ls and the generosity of her family all Linda’s friends have received little bags of Linda’s loveliness.  Mine came in typically Linda-esque colourful fashion DSCN1242

and was filled with a thoughtful (thank you Ls) collection of Linda’s yarns, patterns and, touchingly, equipment she used DSCN1243

I asked Ls how she knew what to put in each parcel and she said that she had laid everything out and let Linda ‘tell’ her. I can believe it as everything was so perfectly related to the recipient. Needless to say these are all treasures and I will cherish them. And how great it was to see a few more balls of the hand spun yarn that I’d used to crochet a brooch for Linda’s funeral, such beautiful colours DSCN1248

Although it is sad to think of Linda’s loss the happy memories evoked by these beautiful things take me back to all the woolly and other moments shared with my marvelous friend.

Something else has cheered me this week. A laugh out loud book.DownloadedFile

I know its a cliche but really I couldn’t put it down. It is sooooooooo funny and cleverly written. On top of that it captured the role of the probationer PC (in another life I was one too! altho’ magic was not part of the training in my day), the streets around Bloomsbury and the history of the city. It even throws in a bit of Latin! Of course I read it in no time and Saturday saw me making an emergency dash to the library to find (relief unbounded) two more books in the series. Sorry must go…bed and a good book calls….

To market, to market…

… of course as a vegetarian I didn’t buy a fat pig…although if you were so inclined Kendal’s market area and the New Shambles – traditionally home to butcher shops and tanners – is the perfect place to do so…

Instead I had the joy of Wednesday market day and coming home with fruit and veg to fill my veggie bowlDSCN1167 …quickly snapped ‘cos the weather has turned a bit chilly so crock pot’s on the hob and a quick leek and potato soup is soon underway…sacrilege probably but I start with an onion, add the chopped leeks….mixed herbs….carrots…scrubbed and chopped potatoes….vegetable stock…and simmer until mushy enough. Accompanied by a generous wedge of delicious artisan bread from Staff of Life bakery which I picked up at Booths (our wonderful Northern sooooper-market) surely this is a perfect winter supper?

Its a week-off for me and I’ve a garage to de-clutter. Thanks to Freecycle it proved a better job than I thought. This meant that I had time to meet up with everyone and I kicked off the week with a lovely soup and sandwich lunch at Yard 46 with JG, AJ and KC. Great folk and a definite boost to the energy levels needed to tackle that garage (otherwise known as the ‘general dumping ground’).

Thursday and a rare chance to see my old Kendal Museum friend JH and find out how her daughter LH is doing with her new gents’ mobile hair dressing business. LH is an excellent barber/hairdresser and has got off to a cracking start with her new venture it’s very exciting.

Meeting up with my cousin, his wife and their granddaughter on Friday at Waterside there was also the surprise treat of seeing their younger son and for the first time his lovely girlfriend J’a. What a super family gathering.

Saturday saw me and AH finishing the first exercise in Book V of our Latin course and now we are looking forward to (fanfare please) deponent verbs! Yea-urghhh…. Its at moments like these that I realize I don’t understand English and wonder what chance Latin? Curses upon my liberal 70’s education when grammar was out of vogue in state schools.

Thank goodness for crafts – and this week crochet rag rugging … I have made a seat cushion before with selvedge ‘yarn’ supplied by Ingrid Wagner,

but have long wanted to use up old duvet covers etc by creating my own strips. I started small, cutting up some of the children’s old pillowcases

….then chose a large hook. A 9mm did the trick, DSCN1213

and created a small but serviceable seat mat..or half a cushion…or the start of a rug….or a place mat….your turn…. DSCN1218

Doggy bootees have never been my thing BUT one of my little old spaniels has trouble managing all the wooden floors and is very wobbly on his front paws. People have suggested wheels but I’ve had a look at those and they seem to be best suited to dogs with back leg problems also they wouldn’t be very safe when I’m not here. However in my research into wheels for dogs (there are some great sites for these!) I did see something which might help..grip soled boots! An idea was born. I set about making something more homespun. I found a pattern for doggy bootees at Posh Pooch Designs…. quickly made them up DSCN1220

and dug out the natural latex that I bought at Woolfest for making non-slip slippers (sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it?!). DSCN1221

I liberally coated the bases of the bootees and set them to dry. DSCN1222

Now let’s see if they work….when Thomas wakes up that is…DSCN1224