Monday, 31 January 2011

A Cautionary Tale

I don't drink. I'm not anti or a Methodist or anything, I'm just not very good at it. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for too large a portion of my life and I have lost the knack somewhat.

I say I don't drink, but it would be more accurate to say I very rarely drink as every now and again I have memory lapse and think it might be nice to share a glass or two of wine with my husband of a weekend.

This is not, as you may be thinking, a cautionary tale about the evils of alcohol. No indeed, the wine agreed with me and there were few ill effect felt the following day. Until my husband and I remembered we had sort of slightly bought this;

I am not, nor have I ever been, into flashy cars. I have no want or need of an Alpha Romeo. I would much prefer a gas converted van or something that can tackle snow and mud. As far as I'm concerned, this car's most redeeming feature is that the leather interior is potentially 'wipe clean'.
I have not the time, money or patience to pander to a car.

So the moral of the story is do drink, go ahead and drink as much as you like, but if you drink, stay off e-bay.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bringing Down the House ( well bits of the wall anyway)

The house...ah the house.

Well we have damp. Rising, penetrating and just plain old condensing. We have paint for the outside which will help with the penetrating if only the weather would warm up a smidge so I could get it on. And now I have paint for the worst affected rooms inside. I just have to get the skanky, mouldy wall paper off first.

We started in the bathroom where the paper was so damp it could be mostly pulled off by hand. I borrowed a wall paper steamer from a friend and collected it from her Ma's where it had been stored in the shed. Unfortunately what I got in the bag was the water tank and an electric planer! So I had to give up on the steaming for the day.

As the wall paper came off, so did a few other things, and it became rapidly obvious that this wasn't going to be a quick paint job.

So back to town for the steamer parts and a quick stop off to collect massive amounts of poly-filler

I wonder how many more times I am going to be naive enough to think a job will be straight forward before I learn that nothing in this old unloved house is going to be a quick fix.

Thank goodness for that! I think I may have to bring my rough plastering lessons forward a little though.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Bored of Supper

Once upon a time, when Simon still worked as a self employed dry-liner carpenter and finished at 4ish on a Friday, and we lived in our old rented house that required less attention, we used to have a feast for supper on Fridays. I would take great delight in cooking something lovely and making pudding, and we would all sit down and welcome the weekend.

That feels like a long time ago, and recently I have got sick of having to provide economical and filling suppers, served at different times for early eaters and late workers, and covering everyones dietary needs and preferences.

Faced with supper yesterday, and realising that I had almost run out of normal ingredients and had no way of getting any more, I decided to attempt a Friday feast. I knew Simon was coming home early (for him) and would probably make it back by 6 so I knew we were in with a chance of all eating together.

So I baked!

During the afternoon I made;
Bread rolls,
oaty biscuits,
supper onion pie (gluten free),
sweet potato, red onion and stilton tart,
sticky ribs,
rice, carrots and broccoli,
lemon polenta cake (gluten free) 
and chocolate swamp pudding (gluten free).

It was definitely the right thing to do.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Eight Month Jumper

So here it is, a doggy jumper for the littlest boy.

It really isn't that I knit overly slowly, although I am no speed knitter. It is more just that you have usually got to be siting down to knit, and I sit down very rarely. I say 'usually' as I have been known to knit in a variety of other positions. I have spent many hours bouncing up and down on the spot, with a baby strapped to my front, resting a 'needed tomorrow' birthday gift, or a 'so nearly finished that I just can't bear to stop' piece of knitting on the rounded cloth covered little being in front of me.
I have knitted in many unusual places from train stations and soft play areas, to woods and moorland.
I like to think of myself as a guerrilla crafter!

So Freddie's Christmas jumper. Started in April, finished on the 23rd of December!
It is a Zoe Mellor pattern, photocopied from a well loved book belonging to a friends Mum. I always knit a size up as they always seem quite attached to a Mummy made jumper, and are disappointed when they become too small,  and to be honest, I am aware of how long it takes me to finish a whole jumper!
I learnt after I was about half way through that Zoe Mellor patterns always come up large..."so always knit the size smaller than you need dear"! Oh well, too late!

The fact it looks like a dress just seems to fit with the fact that everyone thinks he looks like a girl. I don't care if he doesn't!

His lovely friend in these pictures are from Bluebells.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


It is satisfying to have such a well stocked chest of dressing up supplies that a forgotten about 'come as a fairy tale character' day can be easily accommodated. He wanted to be a pirate, so a pirate he was. I don't mean to brag but a prince, knight, elf, Robin Hood, wizard etc etc would have posed no problem either.

The only shop bought item was, fairly obviously I think, the pirate hat. Everything else had been made or commandeered for the purpose. The grey waistcoat was actually Finley's 'Great Escape' costume. Made for him from a cardi by a good friend when he was just 4 and it was his favourite film.

And it is very satisfying when you spot that a bag, made for a very good friend for Christmas, has become her 'bag'.
That's warm all over glowing satisfaction, that is.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Six Times Around The Sun

All children are born unique, and for some children their uniqueness is subtle, but others are obviously and magnificently different.

Jack has always been utterly unique and in a world of his own, and although when he was younger that often took a little extra working out, he is now just such a joy to be around.

Not that he really notices

a whopping 6 fairy baskets on his birthday tree

We took him, and a couple of his friends, to the Milky Way. A huge corrugated iron building with a soft play area, a death slide, a farming museum, dodgems, and a number of other bizarre attractions which seemed to be all manned by one guy called either Greg or Captain Cosmic, depending on which attraction he was currently spearheading.

The boys thought he was great

This was a particularly important bit of creating I finished in time for his birthday. I had nearly finished before his Birth-Day, but not quite!

 I planned and cut and sewed this during the days leading up to my due date six years ago. I hid myself in the dining room with a portable gas heater in the dead of winter, and I was still sat at my sewing machine, determined to finish, when the real rushes of labour brought the whole enterprise to a frustratingly premature halt.
 And that was the last time I had worked on it, until a week ago.

It had been intended as a cot bumper but six year old boys have little use for a cot bumper. Instead I put looped bias tape at intervals along the top and strung it from a piece of doweling.
It is now hanging from the side of his bed, but once I have painted it will hang on the wall beside his pillow.
I can't wait to paint!

Friday, 14 January 2011

In Spate

A most earnest search for puddles...

... for the important business of splashing in.

 But the real Mummy reason for the expedition in the cold and wet was this.

I know that flood and rivers in spate are dangerous and destructive, and with the devastation caused by flooding both abroad, and so very close to home, I am anything but complacent.

But I can't help it, I just love LOVE a river in spate.

Just for comparison, you can see the two trees in the left of this picture, in the far right corner of the picture below, which was taken during the summer. 

Mmm, or maybe I just love rivers, as the picture above is equally appealing!

I have driven miles out of my way to see a river that has burst its banks, and have driven down flooded roads to get to the best place to see a flooded valley.
I feel scared and exhilarated by them. In awe of their raw power, and fascinated by the swirling and bubbling surface that just hints at the power and turmoil beneath. I like to show the boys the river when its like this. I want them to understand how awesomely powerful every river is, but especially a river swollen with heavy rain and melted snow. I want them to respect it and feel the fear and adrenaline you need to keep you safe near something so elementally ferocious.

There goes the footpath!

The flood had receded by the time I made it down there. There was evidence of the silt deposits and flattened foliage all along the valley.

 All too soon the footpath leaves the river bank and climbs up out of the valley. I felt very reluctant to leave, and longed to be able to follow the river further up to where the valley widens and the normal course of the river has been all but lost. I managed to catch this from higher up the hill through the tangle of beach hedge and holly trees. You can just see the snaking path of the river, and how far it has encroached into the farm land around.


Monday, 10 January 2011

Embracing the Tower

Something strange has been happening in my life over the last few weeks and months, and it is only now, as it gathers momentum and strength, that it has become truly obvious.

Everything is crumbling a little. All the technology I am so used to, and rely on so heavily, is breaking around me, and it seems the more we fix it, the faster it collapses. For the last few weeks, and not for the first time of late, I have been without a car. It broke, we fixed it, it broke more, we borrowed a car, that broke, we gave it back, we fixed ours, now it has really truly broken, and all we can do is fix it up for sale as it is. Many many other things have also broken, or started only partially working.
 For all of December we had no washing machine, dishwasher, intermittent transport, and huge damp problems in this characterful old building. We now have a washing machine again, and I can't tell you how grateful I am for that little modern luxury!

This all sounds stressful and horrible doesn't it? I won't pretend that it hasn't caused some problems, and Mr is finding the constant need for repairs is putting a real strain on him and eating up all his free time, but I am ok.

It feels like the tarot card 'the tower'. Like the breaking down of old thoughts and ways, and the pulling apart of all that was. It feels like the dynamite going off under the sky scraper. I am anxious as to how this will all turn out and I hope we can make it through this disassembling without going under. I should be far far more stressed, but I think I understand that it is necessary, and that once the sky scraper is gone, and we clear away the rubble, there will be an empty space in which to build whatever we want.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Christmas was

A lot of time spent lighting, tending and gathering around this.
The heart of the home. We finally managed to get a log delivery through the snow on Christmas eve!

A good covering of snow.
Oh how the white snow makes the house look even greyer!

So much snow. When Simon decided to try to dig the car out and make it to Torrington he asked our neighbours if they needed anything. As he was going from house to house the ones he had asked came out with spades and snow shovels and dug our car out.

A little wolf.

Some home made gifts

Some saved from the tip and brought back to life gifts

Some 'maternal glowy feeling at being right and knowing my little boys so very well' gifts.

A few (too few) wanders in the snow to marvel at the dirty looking sheep.

A smidgen of sledging between coughing fits.

And a lunar eclipse.
 Trust me, behind those clouds is the point of full eclipse!

And so so much more. Family food cooked by everyone. Expeditions through the snow to let loved ones know how important they are. The strengthening of ties through both friendship and community. So so much hand work and home made love, more of which I will share as I untangle myself from the holidays and get back into normal life.

And now to this new year. Now to grow with the light, and go boldly into the depths of winter with the promise of spring.

The Advent Fair - before Christmas

Wonderful home made food,
wreath making and face painting,
happy painted children,
handmade clothes and gifts,
music and dancing,
mulled wine and grape juice,
mince pies and cream,
lots of money raised,
good will spread,
all over warm and fuzzy feeling.