Saturday 30 June 2007

V&A and Spinning Wheel...

Had the best birthday for a long time! The day out with my daughter was really special. Now they are almost grown there hardly seems a day when they are not doing something or going somewhere so I really enjoyed spending time with my youngest.

We walked our legs off and still didn't see everything. Had a few laughs at some of the fashions, especially when I pointed to things and said 'oh, I had an outfit like that in the eighties'. It was touching to see some of the very old dresses, particularly the bridal gowns and it struck me how TINY they were. We were amazed at the waist sizes and thought that we would need a very strong corset to get anywhere near that size.

The paintings were our favourites though, some cartoons by Raphael were awe inspiring but the best ones to us were a collection bequeathed to the V&A by a gentleman called 'Mr Sheepshanks' . I like the way the V&A is organised chaos, things are not grouped chronologically but in rooms called things like 'China' and 'Asia', this is a bit confusing until you just go with the flow and just enjoy the beautiful and interesting objects.

We had plenty of stops for drinks, as it was the one dry and warm day this week, particularly enjoyed our lunch in a little cafe near the V&A called 'Greenfields' and a quick coffee stop we had in the garden within the V&A itself, there is a shallow pool surrounded by lemon trees.

A wonderful day and we decided to go out together a bit more often. National Portrait Gallery next....

My spinning wheel arrived today, haven't had much of a chance to have a look at it yet though.

Well, thats all from me for tonight, have to go and feed the dogs, they are saddened by all this rain, they are not keen on it. Neither am I to be honest. I can't remember such a rainy June.

Wednesday 27 June 2007


Hi and thanks to those who sent messages or posted.

You haven't missed much. Most interesting things that have happened are my 'ring ring' phone has arrived. The most surprising thing about it is the weight of it, I had forgotten how heavy those old phones are. Phoned myself a few times from my mobile to hear it 'ring ring', I expect the novelty will wear off.

Other piece of news is that I have found a 'new' spinning wheel. Its old but never been assembled, so that's going to be a challenge. I am collecting it from a lady who is meeting me in Guildford on Friday, have to lurk about a certain bench at a certain time. Imagination getting the better of me and imagining if I went to the wrong bench and got tangled up in an international smuggling thingy. Yikes, better look in the box before I set off for home. I did ask how I would recognise her, as I said it I realised it was a stupid question, unless there is more than one person going to turn up with spinning wheels for an assignation, then it could get tricky. Oh, its an Ashford traveller for those who would like to know...

Off to the V&A tomorrow, really looking forward to it. Its my birthday and I am going with my youngest. She is dying to see the fashion, I want to see the textiles and we both like the oriental stuff. Lots more there and I am sure I shall have something to tell you about it on Friday. Not looking forward to the journey, its only about 2 hours door to door but I wonder how I ever managed to do it day in and day out when I worked there.

Just fighting my way through the washing up. Didn't do it yesterday so its my own fault.

Nothing else to report so will sign off.

Oh, just one more thing - happy birthday to Scotland, we share the same birthday, isn't that great! (think he is older than me though :D ) Have a great day Scot xxxx

PS. Nan, thanks for posting, its good to see you x

Friday 22 June 2007

Missing a Day

Not been around much as not feeling too good at the moment. Back soon, I hope. x

Wednesday 20 June 2007

'Another Night on The Tiles?'

Another ACEO actually, did this one this morning. I am enjoying doing these but they are distracting!

Tuesday 19 June 2007


The one with the three cats in is called 'Bad Fur Day'. Just thought I would mention that....

ACEO Cards

Stands for: Art Cards, Editions and Originals. I painted these for my daughter:

They are 2" x 3 ", although officially they should be 2.5" x 3.5" Never mind they are only for fun.

Monday 18 June 2007


Why do they sell nectarines that you could use for cricket balls and say eat within three days on the pack when they take a week to ripen.

Why do they write 'serving suggestion' on everything. Do they think you are simple and actually believe that the turkey, roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy boat full of steaming gravy are actually IN the packet of stuffing?

Why do they say cooking directions on back of label when they are stuck on with industrial strength super glue and when you peel them off you are left with the very top layer and have to read the left-behind instructions in a mirror.

Enquiring minds wish to know.

Thank you.

Just saw...

Yes, I know I said I was going but this made me laugh.

A freecycle ad just came in. Apparently there is free 'hard core' at Reigate station. Brought to mind legions of the dirty mac brigade hotfooting it over to Reigate.

Well, I thought it was funny...



Nobody ever comments on my serious posts. Have you noticed that? I wonder why.

Answers below please. First one to come up with something interesting or plausible wins a prize.

I'm waiting.............

Paying it Forward...

There are some things I won't share with you dear Blogger, but I had my share of troubles and some small (and not so small) acts of kindness have brought happiness to me in some bleak times. Some of the kindness has come from virtual strangers, or virtual friends, whichever way you want to look at it.

I like the idea of RAOK (random acts of kindness) A flower given to a stranger, a cup of tea bought for someone who looks as though they need it, a mail to say 'how are you, thinking of you' they don't have to be big things to make a real impact on someone's day, life even.

I had the chance to pay it forward today and that is a good feeling too.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to carry out a RAOK. Make someone's day. (I was dying to write 'punk' after that a la Clint Eastwood, but that would have spoiled the whole thing, don't you think?)

Sunday 17 June 2007

Sunday Sunday......

Started a bit too early for me. Dog woke me up. This meant I was tired all day, so gave in this afternoon and had an hour in bed with Oscar Wilde, which ended up with me falling asleep.

Sorry Oscar, you just weren't exciting enough to keep my attention.

Finally getting round to reading 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' about the life of Vermeer. I found it on e-bay for 99p. Looking forward to that. Somehow I think I won't fall asleep with Vermeer, if you know what I mean ;-)

Saturday 16 June 2007

Ring Ring....

My phone is broken. It will dial out but doesn't ring. I saw one on Freecycle, a wonderful 70's cream coloured phone, with dial. Retro chic (as I like to think of it). Telling youngest daughter about it, she pipes up 'oh, you mean its got a dial like in the olden days'.

I am crushed.


Sometimes I wake up with a song in my head. They are always totally random and are just there when I open my eyes.

It happened today, the annoying part is that I only know the odd word of the chorus, I don't know the name of the song or who sang it but its going round in my head.

So, its going like this 'la la la, I knew, la la la we never (fall apart/had a heart/raspberry tart???) la la la' any clues? Its a female singer and the song is not an old one, or at least not more than a few years. Its soft and gentle, which I am thankful for. Sometimes I wake up with something loud that I would rather not hear, like 'The Way to Amarillo' or 'Delilah'. Sometimes very sad songs, or sad to me, like the song that we played back at the house after my nan's funeral. It was by Boyzone, she liked them!

Lots of mail to catch up on. I feel cared about, thats lovely.

la la la fall apart la la la raspberry tart......

Friday 15 June 2007


A 'discussion' on a yahoo group I belong to has led me to ponder more on the subject of language.

How the choice of one word can have ramifications that spread like ripples from a stone dropped into a pond.

How one word can cause upset, insecurities to surface and threats to be felt and why this should be, what made this one word so emotive?

Those that are creatively free and easy saw this one word as representing a block to their creativity, a repression, an anchor that would weigh them down.

I am an artist, creative, I do what I wish, that is art to me.

Those that wish to conform saw it as comforting, for their protection and were not about to discard their life-raft and become adrift in the lake of possibilities.

All that choice. I have to make up my own mind about what to do, its too scary, I need direction....

This one word gave more insight into the characters of those involved in the discussion than you would find in months of reading their posts.

What was the word? oh, it was 'rules'.

Words have power, use them carefully ;-)


I have it.

Nothing to see here folks, move right along..................

Thursday 14 June 2007


Forgot to buy yoghurt. Always forget something, usually what I went for in the first place :D


As humans we are born with it. As children its a big part of learning but then what happens? Why do so many people say 'I would love to try......... (insert something creative) but I am frightened'.

Frightened of what? Wasting a few sheets of paper, skeins of yarn, sticks of charcoal? Frightened they won't be good enough, frightened they will be too good?

Its not just once or twice I have heard this but time and time again. I wonder why this happens. Is it the pressure put on people to succeed? Is it their schooling or parenting? What is it that makes people think that crafting is an exclusive club and that they can't be in it?

I wish I could reach out to those people. I have been chatting to a lovely lady from Australia, who has had the same block and overcome it. I have mentioned to her that it might be a good idea to start a group for those who would love to create but are too afraid to try. A bit of hand-holding, a bit of a nudge may be all it needs to start someone on a journey of creativity, whatever it may be.

If you enjoy the journey, even if its that thrill as you swirl colour onto paper for a painting that never gets 'finished' or choosing the colours for a jumper that you never get to the end of knitting, if you have enjoyed those moments then surely its worthwhile.

Just my thoughts and applying to no-one in particular. As I mentioned at the beginning I have heard the same thing time and time again.

It makes me sad.

Off to Town....

On the charabanc.

I bet I forget something. Always do.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Big wave....

To Nan who drops in every day. Nan is a knitter, like me. Jo is a knitter too. In fact all the nicest people I know knit.

On our knitting group they were trying to decide a collective noun for knitters. I think it should be a skein of knitters or perhaps a knot.

I know a knot of knitters
who knit and natter,
while they knot and knit

Makes a great tongue-twister and knotting is a good metaphor for friendship, so thats the one I choose.

Now it really is time for bed.

Night all, night Nan - paint something soon!

So Glad

Colin and Jim are fine, apart from Jim's grass seed, poor chap. So I can stop imagining all sorts of horrible fates.

Reading on someone's blog about metaphor and how all words have the possibility of being a metaphor. I suppose all words bring to the surface thoughts and so yes, there is an underlying meaning to words, different for all of us. Language is amazing isn't it.

I am just happy Colin and Jim are ok.

Nighto x

The Grass is as High.... an elephant's eye. So the song goes. Am not sure how high an elephant's eye actually is. I suppose it depends on the size of the elephant, but thats about how high the grass is in my back garden.

Must get out there and make hay, while the sun shines :D

Painted this last night, well, what do you think? I actually like this one, think its one of my better efforts! I actually even initialled it - first time I have done that.
Do you think yesterday's 15 seconds of fame is going to my head...
So tired, got a bit carried away with it and stayed up till past two zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday 12 June 2007


I had a confusing message from the owner of a watercolour list I belong to. It said she had seen my work on Robert Genn's website (he is quite a well-known Canadian artist).

Well, I went and had a look and tis true. My Towne pastiche (half done) is there, along with a letter I wrote.

Strange thing is they just came onto my blog and uploaded the picture. I had no idea they had done it. Its my first real attempt at a landscape and its half-done and I feel like I have been caught with my drawers round my ankles!

Anyway, if you would like to have a look then here is the link

Amazed really. Ha Ha Ha

I shall be signing autographs presently..... ;-)


Yes, its that time of year again. I don't like killing anything but don't like them in my kitchen, for obvious reasons. I bought an environmentally friendly fly killer (not very friendly to the flies, but there you are). Its made from crysanthemums, apparently.

There were a squadron of the blighters this morning, formation flying around the light. Gave it a blast. Buzz, Buzz, into the spray they went. Bu Bu Buzz they came out, for all the world sounding like little fighter planes with one engine aflame...

You can just imagine them saying 'Ginger's bought it, he'll never see blighty again' back at fly-base or wherever they come from.

So, Squadron Leader (Ginger) Bluebottle RIP.

I felt guilty. Briefly.

Poppies WIP

Here is something I have been working on. Its not quite there but I have enjoyed doing this.

Monday 11 June 2007

Rice Krispies

Did you ever do that thing where you paint rice krispies green and stick them on your face as a wart.... no, oh, must just be me then :D


Not much happened. Its hard to blog about nothing but I shall do my best. Painted a bit today, a picture of some poppies, they are not finished yet, watch this space.

Did get a lovely mail from another lady in the US who belongs to one of the watercolour groups. Its wonderful to get mail. Hint.

My stalkee also wrote, I think she is disappointed with the quality of the stalking today. Sorry Jo, even stalkers get off days. Anyway, aren't you supposed to be clearing up those rice krispies. She makes me jealous anyway with her yarn yarns. I may stalk someone less interesting. :P

My gentleman in France has disappeared, hope he is ok and has just gone off me or something rather than something tragic (creative people have such vivid imaginations......)

Need to do some knitting now my temporary niddy noddy (daughter number two) can spare me a few moments and can help me sort out these skeins of wool. I learned the hard way that chair backs and door handles do not work. Have a recipe for making a niddy noddy but can I be bothered to trail the hardware shops being stared at by plumbers who wonder what on earth a WOMAN is doing in their terrain buying bits of pipe and connectors. There is also something reassuringly professional about a proper niddy noddy all wooden and beautiful. Of course a professional wouldn't care as long as it did the job...

Cooked some trout tonight with new potatoes and a watercress and rocket salad. It was nice but the house smells. Have lit insence but now it smells like a trout with perfume on. Oh well, it will disspate eventually. Is that osmosis or the other one? If I remember my O level biology well enough its the other one. I think osmosis requires a semi-permeable membrane.

I am waffling. Nothing worse than a blogger with nothing to blog about so I shall leave you in peace.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, as the TV used to say when the transmitters conked out.

cue national anthem. Watch out for the white dot. If you remember that then you are getting old :D

Sunday 10 June 2007

Numb Buns

Ha Ha Ha, just got a mail from a lovely lady in the US who I told that I had a numb bum from painting so long. She calls it 'numb buns'. Love it.

Towne Pastiche WIP

Well, this is what I have been up to today. Its my 'homework' from the watercolour landscape group I belong to.
Believe it or not that took me two and a half hours to get this far. Long way to go yet too.
Hope you like it. Landscapes sure are tricksy.
I just broke my Buddha. The girls bought him for me a couple of years ago for my birthday. He can be glued. As I picked up the pieces I thought of the buddhist philosophy of non-attachment but it didn't help. I am sad, I like him and the girls bought him for me. Oh well, I have superglue and some Gold Finger (isnt that a wonderful name) so he will be good as new and they will be none the wiser. Its not as if they ever move anything to dust ;-)
Not going to do any more to this at the moment. I have been concentrating so hard I have brain-fog.


If your Niddy Noddy is adjustable then its a Rice. Of course. Everyone knows that :D

Think I am going to do some knitting. Its all gone quiet online, everyone has gone out it seems.

Now, shall I work on the socks, the bag or the other bag or the face flannel scrubbie thing. Did the first row of the socks last night. Fiddly isnt the word, made my fingers feel like sausages. Apparently it gets better as you get used to it.

Think I will work on the bag. The other one. I feel like some mindless stuff today. Its pink alpaca and I am going to felt it. Its the 'my squatty sidekick' pattern. Should be able to finish it by tomorrow if I get my skates on. The yarn is three ply so I am going to use it double stranded, hope thats enough - we shall see!

Where is everyone.............?

Niddy Noddy

Your niddy noddy needs to match the size of your swift, so I have been told. Spinning can be a most confusing hobby.

Dogs woke me up at five. Now they are both asleep.

Need some coffee.....

Saturday 9 June 2007

Startling Fact..........

Four trillion plastic bags are made in the world each year. It takes 1000 years for a plastic bag to break down. One billion seabirds and mammals die due to eating plastic bags each year.

Headache is gone, there was rain here and now the air is clear again.

My stalkee wanted the peg loom but I got it first. I feel bad about that, so have found a nice yarn porn site for her to drool over. She has probably seen it but at least she will know I care.

Have decided to treat myself to a spinning wheel for my birthday. I got a quote for shipping for a Babe from the US and it still adds up to less than a basic new one here. The exchange rate is helping. I will be spinning yarn galore before you know it. Also found a UK source of Landscape Australian dyes. If anyone has used them and would like to give me their opinion before I splash out then please do.


I have a headache, or rather a head pressure. Its muggy and dark and I think there is going to be a storm. There are a few things I am scared of and one of them is lightning. I have a bit of a phobia about it. Once, on the way to work, there was a big storm and I turned to jelly. A kindly cable intalling workman sat with me on a flight of steps until I felt better and a lady in a nearby house took me the rest of my journey.

The strange thing is that I love it when I am indoors and feel safe. I know its because I nearly got struck once, I saw a ball of lightning hit the floor on the other side of the road from where I was. It had never bothered me until then.

The dogs are waiting to go out, shall I risk it.........?

Thanks to my Stalkee

Thanks to my stalkee, Jo, I now know how to make an attractive list of blogs I read. All one of them. So far.

If you would like to be stalked by me please let me know and I will consider it carefully. Stalking is hard work and I wouldn't want to over-extend myself.

Jo is a useful person to stalk, she knows all sorts of cool stuff, like the fact that there are reasonably priced spinning wheels made from wheelchair wheels. I tracked them down and there are even electric ones for the truly idle. I have asked how much it costs to get one shipped (they are in the US). With the exchange rate its a good deal. The wooden ones are beautiful and I have a very old and wobbly wooden wheel, but I am going for practical and economical.

Now I just need to know how to add those pesky buttons so that I can stalk more quickly and efficiently. Jo, where are you......?

The trouble is with stalking is that its all about them, them, them. We go places, sure, but its always where they want to go, what they want to do.... think about it :D

Back to work now.........

The world is getting smaller....

Thinking last night about the internet and what a difference it has made to my life. I was chatting (via mail) to a lovely artist in Australia, a lady from the watercolour group in the US and to an English man who lives in France. Sometimes it just fills me with wonder, what an amazing invention. I was watching an art programme from the US via the internet, looking at a yarn dyeing tutorial from Australia, amazing really. I am learning so much from all over the world and meeting some wonderful people too.

I had a mail this morning from someone in my weaving group, who has a peg loom she doesn't use anymore, she said I can have it for the cost of the postage. I am constantly surprised by the generosity of people. I hope to 'pay it forward' soon.

But I am just an old hippie at heart.

Have some work to do for a landscape group I joined. I have to produce a pastiche of a watercolour. I have a slight problem in that my 'studio' (corner of the kitchen!) is one side of the house and the monitor is in another part of the house entirely. I did read of an old master who used to do something like this deliberately, put the subject of the painting in one room and the students painting in another. This was to train the students to look carefully. There is a positive in every situation if you look for it I suppose.

Have lots to do today and 9 am is the time I have set to start. Time for one more coffee first.

Happy weekend to anyone reading this.

Friday 8 June 2007

A Quote....

A quote I read today that I found inspiring:


George Elliot

Going to stick a fork in this and call it done!

Did a bit more this morning but its not getting better so am going to leave it be.

First time I have painted a human being, so I am not too unhappy with it. I noticed I have smudged her lipstick a bit! My daughter thought she had a multi coloured afro but it is, in fact a headdress.

I shall keep on practising. Hope you like it.

Its here its here its here

Sock yarn arrived today with a little freebie of some cute stitch markers. Ordered needles to go with it as I only have large DPN's but they are so SMALL.... mislaid my reading glasses and will have to find them before I get any further.

Need to find them urgently. Just read a headline on AOL which described something as 'hitting a roadblock', I thought it said 'hitting a haddock', which is not quite the same at all, is it!

Finished my painting of the African lady this morning. Like some bits, others not so much. Will find some new batteries for the camera and post it later, don't laugh, its my first attempt to paint a human since I drew them at pre-school with arms coming out of their heads. Funny how all kids do that isn't it. Tell me they do, or is it just a family trait of mine :D

Thursday 7 June 2007

Spoon Monster!

We have one in this house. I have bought countless sets of cutlery and all the spoons go missing. Just had to eat a yoghurt with a fork. Not easy. Reminded me of those silly party games like eating a cream cracker with a plastic knife and fork. The teachers used to do this to us on the last day of term along with other such rib ticklers as eating a doughnut without licking your lips and how many crackers can you eat without needing a drink or choking to death. I honestly think they were sadists.

That is all.


Have been painting today. Haven't done any for a while but today the urge was upon me! I painted my first ever portrait, an African lady from the cover of New Internationalist magazine. I have had it in my pile of inspirational material for a few months but today it called to me.

I was pleased with the overall result, as it was my first effort at painting a human, I usually paint flowers, the eyes were hard to get right but I was happyish with them in the end. The skin was absorbing to paint, i started light and built up some layers. It was hard to mix the right colour but I was quite happy with the skin in general. The only thing that I really didn't like was the lady's headdress. It was a turban-like affair only puffier and it has come out looking like a multi-coloured afro. But, overall not a bad first attempt. I may post it if I get up tomorrow and still like it. Still have a little to do possibly.

Just got back from walking the dogs, been leaving it very late as I love dusk in the summer. Bats swooping overhead as I walked back. Didn't see the deer or any rabbits today but we saw another dog walker who had probably frightened them away. Its very unusual to see anyone else where I walk, probably only a handful of times in a year. The farmer has put cows in one of the fields I cross, thats fine, my dogs are steady with livestock, but there are cow pats all over the place and the grass is quite long. Am wearing sandals now so I have to be careful where I walk :D My staffie sometimes rolls in it if I am not paying attention...

Well, going to do some reading tonight, have a rug weaving book to look at. Was going to knit but the mood isnt upon me today for some reason. My dishcloth cotton came. Its nice and did cast on for a nubbly washcloth but will leave that for tomorrow as its going to take more concentration than I can muster tonight.

Have had some more contact from readers of my blog, I love to hear from people who read my blog, it has something of a 'message in a bottle' feel about it otherwise.

Maybe more later if anything thrilling occurs to me. Don't hold your breath :D

I won!

Won the yoga video for the princely sum of 89p. He only posts out on Mondays, so have about a week to clear a space big enough to lay my mat - some hope! If I don't then I will only be able to cope with the standing up postures :D

Wednesday 6 June 2007

One Last Thing .......

Before I go.

Low Calorie hot chocolate drink, don't do it, its not worth it.

Vile stuff, full of sweetners and from Waitrose too. Tut. :D

Off to put another couple of rows in the Rowan suit of armour, er, I mean cardigan.

Goodnight all x

Socks - she's been and gawn and done it!

I have finally succumbed and bought some sock yarn and all the associated stuff. So jealous of those who can manipulate those four needles. What put me off before was that I have the attention span of a gnat and I just know I would knit one and then get fed up but I saw an intriguing article on Knitty about knitting two at once, using the same principle as I am going to use for the Pirate Queen bag, so watch this space. Chose the most funky yarn I could find as its no point knitting socks if they don't look like handmade ones is it. Besides they are the most expensive socks I will have ever owned and I want these to be SPECIAL!

Going to hide my card as I have been spending too much on yarn again. I hesitated over the 'make payment' button and then a song came into my head that my nan used to sing to me, it went something like 'Enjoy yourself, its later than you think' so, in honour of nan, I did it.

She used to be a great knitter and would laugh at my technique, in a kind way. She was able to hold the needles and throw the yarn. I have to drop the right needle to do it, still have to. Her needles were a veritable blur and she could knit lace, chat, smoke a fag and watch telly all at the same time. She was a real Cockney and a very funny lady. I miss her.

One slightly worrying thing is that all the demos I have seen for the double knitting technique are in the 'foreign' way of holding the yarn in the left hand and sort of ducking the needle under it. I knit European style (unsurprisingly) and wrap the yarn round from the right. So, I will have to adapt it. I suppose I could use the sock yarn for a scarf if all else fails :D

I did experiment with the yarn on the other side and all the stitches came out twisted on the next row. I would really like to meet someone who knits like this so I could see how its done.

Any volunteers to show me?

Dye Lots, Exams and Bolognese

Did I mention my Cascade yarn arrived? Well, had a look at it today and in daylight one of the silver skeins (btw, its a bit of an optimistic choice of shade name by the manufacturer, it is what I would call 'school sock grey') is definitely a different shade than the others. When I checked the label the dye lot number was different for that skein. It doesn't matter too much as I am felting but I was a little peeved as I payed for three skeins of it all at the same time and would expect it to all match - or am I just being pernickerty?

Fired off an e-mail and got one back apologising and offering me a 10% discount on my next purchase.

Whoopee-do. Good job I am not knitting a jumper, othewise they would have got the whole lot back.


Little one has just returned from sitting GCSE Science. Of my daughters she is most like me, so right-brained it is scary. She is incredibly clever at the subjects she likes - which tend to be arty or creative, but she doesn't find the ones that require a lot of logical thought processes quite so easy. Science seemed to go ok, well, she came in and announced that it was 'terrible', but on questioning she said that all her friends found it a hard paper so she didn't feel quite so bad. She said that there was a palpable tension in the room and the sound of rapidly flicked pages. According to her that is a sure sign of a baaaad paper.

Spag bol for her tonight - lots of carbs for energy for the English exam tomorrow. Like me she likes to write and is quite looking forward to the creative writing paper. Apparently they don't write a story like we had to but just do some descriptive writing - she enjoys that so I am hopeful she will sleep tonight.

Off to cook now. The exercise bicycle is looking at me with a nasty glint in its pedals. It knows already I am not going to trouble it too much I think :D

Getting Fit!

Have taken delivery of an excercise bike this morning - another Freecycle 'find'. Putting on a few extra pounds with the new meds I am on and am determined to lose them. I did buy a real bike a couple of years ago but was too scared to ride it on the roads. There is so much traffic, my vision of tootling down the country lanes here was not to be. More likely get brained by a wing-mirror or shoved into a ditch by a lorry slipstream. Not likely to be very fit after that! So, its out in the garden, on the patio waiting for me. Jumped on and gave it a bit of a pedal - got out of breath and got off for a smoke. Don't think thats a great idea but there you are.

Also bid on a yoga video on e-bay. I used to love yoga, adore it, but the classes were so expensive that I can't go since I stopped working. Interestingly Yoga is meant to be a solitary activity - at least thats the way it was practiced in India, so I am going to start doing it again at home. Video is at 89p at the moment, nail biting stuff, will my bid of £1 be enough, oh the excitement :D

Well, my plan to get on with things this morning hasn't gone too well as yet. There is always this afternoon...

Hope you are having a good day, whoever and wherever you may be x

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Traditional Rock Cake Recipe


This recipe is very easy, you can have them done in about half an hour and they are delicious. Best eaten on the day they are made (I never find that a problem!)

Hope the measurements are ok for you to understand. I cook in Imperial but I will write the metric conversion - use one or the other or they won't work!

8 oz (225g) Self Raising Flour

2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

4oz (100g) Soft Margarine (I like to use butter for taste, it works with either)

2 oz (50g) Granulated Sugar

4 oz (100g) mixed dried fruit - (I use only raisins, no mixed fruit or currants, because we like them!)

2 oz (50g) currants (see note above)

1 egg

about 1 tablespoon (10 ml) Milk

To finish - Demerera Sugar (this is the brown sort you use for coffee if you don't know what it is)

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celcius (400 farenheit or Gas mark 6) Lightly grease 2 baking trays.

Measure flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add the margarine and rub in with the fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and fruit. Add egg and milk and mix to a stiff mixture. If dry add a little more milk. Using 2 teaspoons (I use my paws!) shape the mixture into about 12 rough mounds on the prepared baking tray. Sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until tinged a pale, golden brown at the edges. Cool on a wire rack (at least until cool enough not to burn when you bite them!)


Helpful tips: Gently push any poking out fruit on top of the mounds into the mixture before putting cakes in oven, this stops them getting scorched! I like to add a teaspoon of mixed spice, the sort of spices you would use in a rich fruit cake, as this gives a lovely flavour and they smell great when baking.

They look uneven and rocky - Hence the name.

Monday 4 June 2007

More Aaagh's

Most confused. Heard about this adwords thing and thought 'why not'. Hmmn, am beginning to suspect why not. Its doing my head in, thats 'why not' :D

On a happier note had two lovely mails from my US friends today. Really brightens my day to receive a note. Like getting a letter used to when I was a child. Grown ups only get bills don't they....

Had a craft filled day, practised my watercolour, painted a water scene, some flowers and a cockerel. All fast as you like and impressionistic, trying not to get bogged down in the detail. Have a voucher for a landscape class, must take that sometime.

Also caught up with the dishcloth knitting, as I only joined yesterday I had to catch up from 1st June. Almost there. Have absolutely no idea what its going to be, which is great fun. Surprised how big it is. Not wanting to look a dunce by asking what I am supposed to do with the dishcloths, do you wash with them or dry with them? What I call a dishcloth is a small thing to wash up the dishes with. A tea-towel is what I would dry them with (if I did!) and even more confusingly there is talk in the group of giving them for people to wash themselves with. I would call that a 'flannel', which is strange because they are made from towelling. Perhaps they were flannel in the olden days. Mostly I am used to the differences in language between here and the US but sometimes I get confuddled.

Also baked some rock cakes, my daughter declares those her favourite cakes in the world, such simple things to make I had them done in just over half an hour. We nibbled them warm from the oven. She went off to her exam and I had a fight with myself to leave them alone. I lost the fight four times before she got home. My new medication makes me hungry all the time. Its torture to have a pile of fresh cakes, be hungry and know that I am going to be so sorry if I succumb.

Tomorrow I have to go into town, which I am not looking forward to but I have eldest coming home for a few days and I promised her a roast dinner, which is her favourite. I have the meat part but am lacking in veggies and they will expect a huge pile! I roast them all these days, potatoes, sweet potato, carrots, squash, the lot all go in the oven. I cook the green veg on the stove top but it saves so much time and washing up to just par-boil the rest and shove them in a roasting tray with some olive oil and maybe some herbs.

Those cakes are calling me again...............

Not sure whether to go back and fight with the ad-words again. Is it worth it?

Sunday 3 June 2007


Youngest daughter has just come home and I showed her a picture of the 'Pirate Queen' bag and she is not sure if her sister will like it. Not sure now whether to show eldest the picture, I wanted it to be a surprise, but not a bad one...

Youngest started sorting her room out and asked me to e-bay some items for her. So many clothes and I found myself turning into my mother and saying 'why did you buy it and never wear it'. When I thought about it we all did the same at 16 didn't we. We also couldn't be seen dead in something that we had last year, so I do understand really. There is a lovely leather jacket and a pair of Levi Jeans that should sell, thats just the tip of the iceberg. We are going to Italy together next month so it might raise some Euros for ice-creams. Hope I can find a yarn shop while I am there, although we are going to the remote south, right near the tip of Italy, mountanous region and I am not looking forward to the transfer to the hotel as its cliff roads for quite a lot of the way. I am not good with heights :D

It took me months to save the money to go and I had a fit of conscience, wondering if I should spend it on some much needed home-improvements. I will probably regret it in the winter when we are shivering in four inches of luke-warm bath water instead of getting a new shower put in like a sensible person would.

Did some more knitting this afternoon and noticed a couple of wrong stitches a way back, the pattern is a wide rib with moss stitch between am deciding whether to just let it be or go back.

Had a lovely message from a lady who is a member of the online watercolour study group I belong to. I think I am going to like blogging!

Its my dad's 70th birthday in a couple of weeks and I was thinking of trying to paint something for him. Bit wary as he tends to be a bit rude about things I make, so it will probably be socks and a shirt AGAIN. What do you get the man who has everything and doesn't drink or smoke? He doesn't like knitted items and thinks my creations are 'crap', his words. Hmmn. Maybe I should make him the pirate queen's booty bag instead, just to see his face, priceless. He wants to do the meal thing with all the family. It never goes very well but we keep on doing it. Isn't that the definition of insanity - see, I can blame it on genetics :D

Joined the dishcloth a month group, can't wait for my cotton to arrive. Its not something we do much of here, making dishcloths, so I could only get an ecru colour. I might try dying them though. Wonder if Kool Aid works on cotton, have a few sachets left so will give it a try. I don't like cotton yarn much as it tends to grate on the needles and makes me shudder :D

Saw an interesting site today about how to make your own knitting needles, looks such fun I have GOT to give that a go. So many crafts, so little time.

Agreed to buy a rug-weaving book from a member of the weavers group I belong to. Its out of print and supposed to be very good. I will get round to weaving a rug for my fireplace. I will get round to it. I will. Must wash the fleeces while the weather is good, no way am I going to have fleece dripping in the kitchen like last winter. I was making felt and almost got hypothermia.

All is quiet now, youngest has an exam tomorrow and is trying to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. She gets so stressed she can't sleep, have given her herbal remedies and lavender for her bath and clean sheets dried in the sun, so hopefully she may get to sleep ok.

Thats it from me for tonight. Have lots of mail to catch up on and then maybe some more knitting.

See you tomorrow?


Got off to a slooooow start. Sat up until knitting. Didn't mean to, I just got carried away. Today I am tired. Meant to go to the boot sale but didn't make it. I don't have a car and its a two mile hike each way and I just felt too tired to do it.

Made some progress with other things though, ordered some dishcloth cotton and laid out some pots, planters and gro-bags, which I am planting up with lettuce, pumpkins, squash and some very late in tomato plants - we are forecast a good summer here so hoping they can catch up.

Caught up with my mail to friends. Thought about washing up.... put a load in the washing machine and thought about washing up again. I don't have a dishwasher and have to heat the water for washing with an immersion so tend to wait until there is a decent pile as its a waste otherwise. Trying to save energy and reduce my bill a little - at least I am getting the washing dry outside now. It was no joke in the winter, I had to resort to putting a clothes horse in front of my oven and leaving it on to have a prayer of getting anything dry. Think I might have to invest in a new dryer before the winter. Perhaps should look now as they might be reduced if its hot and no one is buying them.

Think I might give in and have a nap, I am struggling to do anything much.

Thinking of joining the dishcloth a month list. Its not usual to knit them here so it might be fun.

Well, thats it for now - oh, and I joined a friendship site in France as I am thinking of moving to either there or Spain in a couple of years. Won't be able to afford to stay here once maintenance ends.

Not much woolly in my ramblings today, will try to do better later :D

Saturday 2 June 2007

Hat Trick....

Three posts in one day, I am sure the novelty will wear off soon dear reader...

Just had to tell you about a lovely mail I got from a lady in the US who had read my Blog. I feel like a proper blogger now. She is lovely and was kind about my woolly ramblings :D

Thats it for the day now, off to have a soak in the bath, then its into bed with my knitting. Probably not the most exciting way to spend a Saturday night but it'll do for me. Exciting point coming up, armhole shaping (well its as exciting as this particular pattern gets)

Goodnight all and a special goodnight to Nan x

About the Photo....

This is an extreme close up of the fastening on a bag I made for the International Tote Exchange II last year. I crocheted it from a bag of Colinette mill ends. I thought it was free-form and enjoyed making it. So much so I joined a free-form crochet group. They soon told me that what I made was a 'tossed salad' ha ha. Bless 'em. They call themselves 'free form' and then follow formulaic designs first created by people long since dead or moved on. Bitter, me. Oh, only a little ;-)

Hope you like the pic of the 'tossed salad bag' as she came to be known. Judy, the recipient said she did. I had kittens making it as she is a 'proper' knitter with work in a museum and all. One of the reasons I crocheted it, cunning eh? Judy was a real star about the swap, she said she liked the vintage adornments I put on. I used beads from an vintage necklace and some flower brooches made of Royal Doulton china. I picked these up at a boot sale.

I buy a lot of vintage jewellery from boot sales. Its only costume but its fascinating and often very pretty. These have ended up in various places (apart from on my bag), including youngest daughter's art project as the buckle for a victorian shoe made of clay and as a focal point on a pique assiette pot I made. I enjoyed that and will make more. I like the idea of using beautiful broken things and giving them new life.

Hey, wish someone would do that for me :D

Now I really AM going to the shop - it closes in less than half an hour and its lottery night, be huge queues :(

On my needles....

On my needles at the moment is a chunky cardigan, from Rowan book 24. Its an old book. I got the book and yarn from Freecycle. Poor lady had bought 23 skeins of rowan and the book to knit a blanket in moss stitch (masochist?) and had got fed up with it 3/4 of the way through. Frogged it and there is enough yarn to make two long chunky cardigans. Result really but I felt sorry for her, as I frogged it I thought of all the hours and hours it had taken to get that far.

Just got up to armhole shaping level on the back. I find the weight hard going, can sometimes get it balanced just right and its a lot easier on my wrists and hands.

Trying to work up to going to the shop. Its taken me two days. Agrophobia? I only need some tobacco. If I gave up smoking I would only need to go out for coffee and milk, both of which I have plenty of at the moment. Due to have councelling soon. Have new meds so we shall see how those pan out. Internet is my lifeline, but sometimes wonder if I would be forced to go out more if I didn't have it. No more online friends, conversation or shopping, whatever would I do.

This is another displacement activity I think. I have promised myself that I will go when I have finished this coffee.... have to walk the dogs later too, but I don't find that so difficult.

Just joined a couple of online knitting groups today. I want to knit the Pirate Queen's Booty bag for my eldest. She will be leaving home soon to work, travel and start uni next year. The online groups I have joined are for when I get stuck, as this project involves a few things that are new to me I shall be yelling for help fairly soon I think. Ordered the Cascade yarn. Tried to get some made in UK but it worked out so much more expensive. As our US friends say 'Go figure....' :D I am knitting it in Black and silver as she is not really a pink sort of girl. Its a great pattern and available for free, so go have a peek. Site is called 'talk like a pirate', google it. Shout if you get stuck, with the finding not the knitting - at least not until I have done it myself!

Have started spindle spinning too (in a very small way) I belong to an online weaver's, spinners and dyers group and noticed (to my shame) that they had put my picture of my first few inches of hand spun on the front page. I wouldn't mind but it is draped over the back of my ancient pink, fluffy dressing gown, hung over the end of the stairs. Note to self: try to make photos glamourous and interesting as you never know who will see them :D

Right. Now it is time to go............. after I have read my new e-mails :D