Solstice Sewing

Hello All

In days gone by I would have been in the midst of a Solstice drum circle tonight but today I am happily finishing off a couple of sewing projects with Jolly Janome.

The Avid Seamstress raglan dress is finished!

Apologies for the naff photo. Without modelling it myself (eeek, no one needs to see that) this was my best attempt. Let me describe the finer features of this simple frock: the neckline flows in a beautiful curve and the darts running vertically for a few inches from the top of each sleeve give a very pleasing fit over my shoulders.

In case you were curious as to the meaning I have checked out “raglan”. Thanks Mrs Wiki. A raglan is a one piece sleeve that extends from underarm to collar creating a diagonal seam where it joins to the garment body. Ready for a wee bit of history? Here it comes…apparently this style of sleeve was designed by Aquascutum for Lord Raglan after he lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo. The raglan sleeve was created in order that the wearer could freely use their sword in battle. Who knew?!

Thankfully gentler pursuits call me. Recently I have been repopulating my sofas with patchwork cushions. Here is the latest:

Front and …

Back.

I think you will agree that the new addition sits rather companionably with one I made earlier:

The end of a good day’s sewing. But as the sun continues to light this longest of days there is still time for a drum rhythm or several.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Exeter – Bear Break Out

Hello All

When No 1 Daughter suggested I come to help her ‘stock-take’ in Exeter I thought oooh beautiful ancient Exeter. Gothic cathedral Exeter; Norman castle Exeter; Roman wall Exeter; River Exe Exeter… right up my street Exeter. Oh no!

Lockup Exeter! Hey ho, never mind I was volunteering for a good cause. Does helping out children at same time give me bonus points???

It was certainly very satisfying making order out of chaos.

Okay okay it may not look much improved but believe me it is … really. I was also in my element taking photos to catalogue what was in there. Love a bit of advanced listing.

Now if you are worrying about the cages …. No 1 Daughter works for a wonderful charity Animals Asia and the cages have been used in the past to illustrate the awful conditions in which bears are kept for their entire lives (sometimes as long as 30 years) in order that bile can be removed from their gall bladder.

With all that in mind we couldn’t help ‘liberating’ these two guys.

They will be going out to assist Animals Asia supporters spread the word and help their living cousins enjoy happier lives.

We rewarded ourselves with a trip to the nearby Cosy Club for supper …. look even a vegan menu (available on request) ….

And a speech from

Lenin! Strange. Great restaurant with menus to suit everyone and situated in an old hospital with quirky decor. No 1 Daughter and I loved it.

Back at home I have a work in progress.

This is the first time that I have used an Avid Seamstress pattern and what a quality act! It comes complete with hard wearing, heavy duty pattern, useful information and terms cards and a booklet that guides the sewer (dearie me that reads like something to do with drains!) through making the garment.

For numpties like me who dive in and non-numpties that wisely like checking out all the information available there is also support on the Avid Seamstress website.

I will update you on progress. So…

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

PS Big thanks to DC for helping with the lockup. Without your help we may well have still been there! Great to see you, GF and GC. Mx

Yorkshire Days

Hello All

Grandchild-sitting called with its joyous, exuberant and sometimes exhausting song. Bags packed I set off to help out for a few days in Yorkshire. Sitting at my usual bus stop I took in the view of the field opposite. Over many years I have watched this field change through the seasons. Sadly it is soon to be built on. I am savouring it while I can.

A bit of excitement followed while I awaited my Skipton bound train at Carnforth… famous acting couple Timothy West and Prunella Scales were filming! I really hope it was for another of their wonderful canal journey documentaries. These have been a huge hit here in the UK. We shall have to wait and see. Fingers crossed.

With baby-care handed over to me I found that I had a free day before picking Peanut up. Ilkley (of On Ilkley Moor bar t’at fame) was the day’s Elderado.

I had a short shopping list of sewing goodies to get and started with a visit to the lovely little Eme, in Brook Street.

This tiny shop has a wonderful selection of fabrics and is filled with inspirational patterns and projects. I couldn’t resist a couple of fat quarters for my patchwork stash. Keeping to a blue colour range I especially loved these.

And good old Boyes satisfied my interfacing needs. Fusible don’t you know! Useful for ‘holding’ patchwork before adding wadding and backing fabric ready for quilting.

Do any of you have Boyes shops? I think they are an ‘up North’ British thing. Boyes stores are an absolute hotch potch of goods – fishing tackle is next to card making and crafts; bird food near to toiletries – yet they have a fabulous haberdashery section and if I can’t find something anywhere else Boyes usually have it. To my mind Boyes may be slightly bonkers but it is always worth a look see.

Sewing needs met there was enough time to try out a local eatery

Daniel’s Cafe and Bistro had a great website (honestly read the bit about why is is called ‘Daniel’s’ it’s heartwarming) and more to the point there were plenty of vegan suitable goodies. The waiter was super-helpful and offered to adapt where possible anything on the menu. As it was there was no need as I went with the scrumptious home made veggie burger.

It was lovely to nibble my way through a leisurely tasty lunch with my latest read (thanks MB for the loan) and be ready for Peanut on my return.

Post-nursery swings and slides were demanded by my diminutive charge…oh how it took me back and oh how wonderful it was to have charged up my ‘batteries’ for a whole heap of pushing, lifting and spinning. Those playgrounds are brutal when a two-year old is in charge!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Happy Fortnight

Hello All

Apologies for last week’s lapse. Things are all good here at Casa Moke just a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. I warn you this is a l-o-n-g post. You will be rewarded with a cuppa if you make it to the end.

What have I been up to?

Cooking.

Delicious Beetroot, Mushroom and Dulse Seaweed Burgers. Grating beetroot always makes the kitchen look like a crime scene but the consequent mopping up was worth it for these tasty burgers packed with yummy goodness.

I love seaweed however often forget how scrumptious and beneficial it is. Thanks to Kate Humble’s BBC series ‘Back to the Land with Kate Humble’ I was reminded and have found some fabulous producers. For this recipe and the Seaweed Cookbook I turned to The Cornish Seaweed Company. The book is a wonderful resource: along with plentiful recipes for everyone (vegans, veggies, omnivores and more) it profiles a huge variety of seaweeds and gives a guide to foraging.

Crafting.

Simple patchwork and a teeny-weeny amount of quilting are helping me gain more and more confidence on my sewing machine (sorry Snail of Happiness I have still not tried stretchy fabrics!). I am also rather pleased with the results if I do say so myself. No 1 Daughter has put in an order for cushions to coordinate with her soon to be decorated living room. Praise indeed.

Hot off the press…

Another cushion made almost entirely from scraps from earlier makes including at least two outfits for my granddaughter. I am smiling looking at it.

Some of you may remember my HUGE over purchase of wool for the simple Fair Isle jumper for Peanut.

Well I have found the perfect project to use the surplus. A Guernsey Wrap.

The pattern by Jared Flood is on Ravelry here. Versions of it can also be seen on one of my favourite blogs ‘Foxs Lane‘ … but I can’t remember where! It is a fabulous blog well worth a visit and you may even stumble on the wrap along your way.

Walking.

Walking buddies JG and JF set off clutching maps (OS Explorer OL7 – The English Lakes, South Eastern area) and compasses – they are part way through learning about navigation – with me their hill-loathing chum (how am I Cumbrian?!) in tow to complete the Kentmere walk we attempted last year when snow and ice made us/me decide to turn back. With the weather much improved – a DRY yet windy day – we set off in high hopes of sitting by a beautiful reservoir to eat our lunches.

Our day started with a charming easy stroll based on No. 3 in Norman Buckley’s book “Lakeland Walking: on the Level”. However as the hills of The Kentmere Horseshoe loomed in front of us it did look as if we were walking into Mordor. But hey! We had that attractive ‘lake’ to look forward to.

With a very flat valley floor and glacial moraines it was easy to see how the Ice Age sculpted this landscape. Ice now a thing of the past…things warmed up around end of April this year…lunch was calling and thoughts of dipping my tootsies in the lapping waters of the man-made tarn were becoming increasingly pleasing.

But what’s this?!

Or should that be what is it not?!!! Where has our reservoir gone? A couple of fellow walkers seeing our dropped jaws told us, it’s the result of a leak! In the past I have had small garden ponds and yes they have suffered the odd pond lining incident but a whole vanished reservoir? That is something.

Abandoning our visions of picnicking on a beautiful shoreline we crossed the spillway. Having watched much too much Nordic Noir I confess I was looking out at the wasteland for a skeleton or two at least. Happily I have nothing untoward to report but it was a very eerie setting…movie location hunters take note.

So being a bit agile (it says so in Buckley’s book) we followed a rough and narrow path back along the opposite bank of the River Kent until the going became easy again and we could stop out of the wind for sandwiches (hummus, peppers and celery if you were wondering) and have a short rest.

The walk back was idyllic. We couldn’t help but laugh at the adventurous and frolicking lambs (I thanked their mums for the wool) some of whom had perched themselves all over this glacial ‘dustbin’.

We admired the bridges.

And held our breath waiting for the bluebells to bloom.

All this and we barely got wet. A rare occasion in them thar hills.

Marching … Women of Cumbria

JG and I managed another tick on our ‘Women of Cumbria’ spreadsheet. We boarded the 505 Stagecoach bus to Coniston and had a wonderful time at the Ruskin Museum looking at all the displays and the exhibition dedicated to Annie Garnett a nineteenth century community entrepreneur who founded a textile industry in Lakeland.

Annie was one of six siblings and while her brothers went to school she was lucky enough to learn autonomously at home and particularly through her love of gardening. Taking her vision from Ruskin’s linen ‘industry’ Garnett founded The Spinnery in Windermere which gave women homebased work spinning yarns which were then woven at the spinnery. Many of the designs were created around plant forms.

Annie Garnett’s knowledge of weaving and textile history enabled her to create new fabrics and dye swatches that reflect her love of Lakeland’s colours.

Beautiful.

Garnett was not only a knowledgeable, inspired artisan she was also an astute businesswoman. By 1899 over 90 women worked as home spinners and embroiders. These workers were given training and also loaned their equipment for free. Annie clearly saw The Spinnery as a business and not a charity and she worked hard to promote it. Her management style was most certainly hands-on!

Lastly we could not leave Coniston without a ratch around a graveyard. We were looking for two gravestones.

Ruskin’s.

And W.G. Collingwood’s. Mission completed.

Are you ready for that drink? You’ve done really well to get here.

Tea drinking.

With a lack of dairy I have missed a delicious cuppa so I went to the Mecca of tea and coffee drinking which we are lucky enough to have here in Kendal, Farrer’s. I went experimental and by serendipity discovered a delicious brew.

And here I sit supping. Time you got the kettle on too. You have certainly earned it.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

PS I receive no freebies (I can dream) nor payment (does that happen?) for anything recommended in my blog. Mx

What now?

Hello All

Safe and sound at home what to do now?

Cook.

Plentiful seasonal rhubarb from a friend’s garden (thanks JG) makes up a wonderful mixed fruit crumble topped off with a dollop of coconut cream

Craft.

Meeting up with friends for a crafty day is an immense and productive pleasure.

As is a session of solitary ‘just one more row’ late night knitting to get you to the finished cardigan.

But crucially there is always The Quest … March March!… Women of Cumbria I am back.

Time is running short on visiting a couple of the exhibitions before they finish so meeting up with ‘she of the rhubarb’ JG we were off on our latest mission.

Our destination was Penrith and Eden Museum for the “Lorna Graves: Memories of Belonging” exhibition. Truth to tell we were not expecting much. So we spent most of the day exploring Penrith.

It’s quaint emporiums.

It’s places of worship. St Andrew’s Church in Penrith is a hotch potch. The tower dates from 1397 yet the nave and chancel are Georgian

Those chandeliers by the way were a gift from the Duke of Portland as a reward to the parishioners for their efforts in defeating the Scottish army in 1745. We are on much better terms with our northern neighbours now!

I wish you could hear this clock – built by Aaron Cheeseborough in the early 1700s – a magnificently deep “tick tock ” emanated with each swing of the pendulum. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

In the beautifully blossom bedecked churchyard we went in search of The Giant’s Grave (who would want to miss that?!)

And his thumb

Turns out they are different giants. The Giant’s Grave consists of 6 ancient tombstones including the Scandinavian type Hogbacks. It dates from around the tenth century AD and has been moved from it’s original site in the cemetery. It is variously thought to be the grave of Owen King of Cumbria (920 -937) or Sir Owen Caesarius (aka Sir Hugh or Sir Ewan) a great boar-hunter. When opened in the seventeenth century the grave revealed the remains of someone with very long leg bones (sic) and a sword….but thankfully no boar. Oink.

As to the Giant’s Thumb it is a Norse Wheel Cross marking a separate burial in about 920AD. Not surprising to find such remains here. Penrith is a cross-roads for Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures. Seems like Denmark has followed me home!

Now all this is grand but will not help us with our quest. Unbeknownst to us we had saved the best till last.

Penrith and Eden Museum is housed in the old Robinson’s Church of England school

The building is something of an exhibit in itself. The school’s history dates from 1670, although the construction is probably older, and was established by a wealthy grocer named Robinson (surprise!) as a school for poor girls. These girls were to be taught to read, work lace, knit and “other matters proper for young girls to learn and practice” (ideas on a postcard please).

In return the children had to “refrain from swearing, lying, stealing and quarrelling”. Some things never change. In the late nineteenth century the building was used as an infant school and remained as such until April 1971 when it closed.

Today the building holds a Tourist Information Office together with a small museum of artefacts relevant to the area.

Not sure about the Penny Farthing’s pertinence but it certainly suited the window position.

Oh yes The Quest!

The pennant heralded the wonderfulness of the Lorna Graves’ exhibition inside. Sorry but I cannot share any photos. It is understandable that photography was not allowed (I always ask first) but also a shame as I don’t think I have ever been as moved by an artist’s work as I was by the drawings and sculptures of this local ceramicist.

Lorna Graves (1947 – 2006) was born in Kendal and grew up on the land around Hadrian’s Wall. Having studied Earth Sciences she became an artist and back home in Cumbria found her inspiration in the landforms and ancient art of the county.

Her work is simple yet striking. The Raku pieces in particular radiate an ancient and spiritual quality that reflect her words:

“I feel the past pushing up against me from below: the herds of animals and the vegetation, the people and their dwelling places, the winds and floods, the times of peace and times of war, the chanting in the temples…”

Her archaic forms of beasts, women, shrines some glinting with gold lustre all drew me in. It was quite mind-blowing.

Dragging ourselves reluctantly from the Lorna Graves exhibition (we were really surprised at how brilliant this exhibition was) we set off for the train home. But Penrith had not finished with us as who can ignore a ruddy great castle? Especially when it is right opposite the train station.

Oh well in for a penny….

Hello Penrith Castle!

A friendly cat welcomed us to this monument to Anglo-Scottish relations (honestly we are all friends now).

Built in the late 1300s the castle was altered over time becoming in the 1470s under Richard Duke of Gloucester (soon to be Richard III – some of us up North like him!!!) a major residence. Thankfully in time it’s presence was no longer required. The castle fell into disrepair and what we see today is thanks to the excavations and conservation undertaken in 1923.

Penrith is a treasure chest, of things to see and enjoy, often overlooked by visitors to the Lake District. We had a full and fabulous day and The Quest is one amazing exhibition nearer completion.

Before I go: congratulations to KC and JR on the arrival of your gorgeous baby boy SP. He is beautiful and I hope the cardigan fits soon!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Homeward bound

Hello All

Tuesday 24 April and Wednesday 25 April 2018

Stocked up with goodies from the amazing ‘Better Life’ shop at Bremen railway station we set off home.

Our last two continental trains ran smoothly and we were in Amsterdam with enough time for a few photographs before catching the link coach and boarding the Newcastle ferry.

I had managed to book a Commodore cabin for our return journey (get me!) so while I was really sad to be leaving Europe at least we did so in comfort and on a very calm sea (not that the cabin had any bearing on the latter).

We awoke in the morning in sight of the coast of Britain and enjoyed being spoiled with a ‘Commodore’ breakfast

As we sailed the last sea miles to South Shields.

Too soon we were docking and coach-bound for Newcastle. We cheered ourselves up by visiting a vegan supermarket ‘Farplace’ which we had spotted on our way out.

Then all that was left was the train to Leeds followed by the wee shuttle train to my daughter’s village. The conductor on our last train was especially sweet checking our tickets last so that he could have a look at our Inter-Rail passes and ask about our travels. He was a great person to welcome us home.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Bremen re-visited

Hello All

Monday 23 April 2018

After a quick breakfast,

‘Yes mum they are bread rolls … goodness can’t take her anywhere…’

– during which I managed to get locked out of the dining room (does this kind of stuff just happen to me?) and had to do an “Ooh La La” farce type run (who am I kidding, more of a trot..) round to a side door – we set off for a leisurely stroll around historic Bremen.

If you are a regular reader of this jumble of words and photos you may remember that I visited Bremen last October. It was great to share it with No 1 Daughter.

The town square now in daylight.

St Peter’s Cathedral, and that statue

Which this time I had ‘a child’ to photograph stroking the donkey’s nose.

Re-tracing my October footsteps I led No 1 Daughter to the Lilliputian streets of Schnoor. Thankfully she loved it as much as I had. Hard not to.

What I hadn’t noticed before was how many tea shops there are in Bremen. It would have been wrong not to stop for a cuppa and … hallelujah… vegan apple cake.

Delicious.

I know visiting Schnoor is like taking a step back in time but who is this dude behind me? As more folk in traditional medieval costume appeared the mystery was solved. This is the door to Schnoor Museum and these are the work clothes. Fabulous.

Schnoor was the perfect place for last stop shopping after which we headed off to the amazing Ratskeller which has been serving wine since 1405!

Situated in the undercroft of Bremen Town Hall the Ratskeller was the council wine cellar – now I have worked in local government for a number of years but have yet to locate a wine cellar under County Offices Kendal!

The Ratskeller is also a traditional tavern which also houses a restaurant. It holds huge ornate wine barrels

And the vaults stretch a distance underground.

There are also ‘cabins’ along one wall which have doors that can be closed for added privacy ….

You can just about see the cabins behind me and my soup…oh how I had missed German soups.

It was a lovely touristy way to end our day in Bremen.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx