Thursday, 28 January 2010

A bit of Nonsense!

That lovable mad Irish poet Totalfeckineejit, is having a virtual grand gala and has invited us all to arrive in red cars. We are asked to post a poem on our blogs to announce our arrival and we must be there by Friday, so here goes:-
Oh heck! I'm sure I'm going to be late
and I'll never catch the ferry.
There are miles to drive to a handy port
and I've been at the cooking sherry!
If I borrow my son-in-law's fire engine
and turn the siren on
I'll be sure of a clear run straight to the coast
and no-one will notice I've gone.
I'm off to the bash of the century
with the finest refreshments by far
and I'll be the one with the biggest,
loudest, shiniest, reddest RED CAR!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Some Gorgeous Goodies.

I had some 'pocket money' for Christmas and decided to put it toward some special threads and silk tops. These all came from Mulberry Silks - . There are various packs available - the ones here are all from the Connoisseur range. I think I shall make some silk paper with the tops and use some with the embellishing tool.
I love the colours in the top pack and it's title 'Down the Deep Lanes'. There are so many lovely shades of green in the Foliage pack.

The photo here doesn't do the colours justice - they are glorious, especially the last pack which is called 'Medieval'. I shall have to come up with an extra special project for them. At present I haven't plucked up the courage to open the packs and am just enjoying looking at them. That wont get me very far will it? I'm suffering from artist's block right now, and hope these will unblock it. I have never been so extravagant, so I hope they work!!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The same thing happens every year!

I go round the garden in January trying to remember where I planted bulbs and which ones are which!! I know what those in the above pic are - they are snowdrops which are spreading well all over the garden, back and front. In a few years time we'll be overrun, but somehow I don't think I shall mind that.
The one above is a mystery - I know I should have put a label in the pot. It looks a bit lonely - I would have planted three or five in this pot so where are the others? I often plant bulbs in pots so I can move them around the garden to fill any boring gaps. I always think I'll remember what they are but seldom do. So many look alike in their early stages, but it is always a lovely surprise when they finally identify themselves.

My hellebores are opening very slowly - I did think this white one would have been out by now, but even our milder temperatures haven't persuaded it to open yet.

This one looks very dark - I hope it is one of the very dark ones but think it will probably turn out to be more of a deep pink. I'm longing to get out and trim away their scruffy leaves and tidy up around them but must be patient. If I do too much too soon I shall be doing more harm than good.
All four of the boxes of odds and ends have gone off to the charity shop, so I can't change my mind about whether to get rid of them or not. The spare room has been redecorated, decluttered and all the furniture, etc., is back in place. It looks so lovely now, I keep having to go in to admire it. I feel like moving in! My workroom also looks tidy still, which is a bad sign and means that I have not been very creative lately. Maybe next week I'll have time to start messing it up again though there are more charity bags and boxes to be filled before I'm done.
Yesterday we had our swine flu jabs. Thought some of you might like to know we had no side effects or reaction apart from slight tenderness at the place the needle went in and we have both been rather tired today - otherwise perfectly normal. I was not sure whether to bother to have the vaccine but apparently if the virus picks up again later in the year it may target the elderly this time so I thought I would play safe. Quite how 'they' can predict that I don't know but I don't believe in taking chances.
Father Christmas gave me some pocket money and I invested it in some lovely silk threads from Mulberry Silks. They haven't arrived yet, but are due early next week and when I get them I'll take a photo and post it. I also ordered some silk tops, some of which hopefully co-ordinate with the colours of the threads. I'm relying on them to supply some much needed inspiration.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Taking a Breather!

I'm just taking a break between moving various things back into the spare bedroom after having it decorated. No time for pics today but hope to have a Christmas Rose - Helleborus Niger - to show you tomorrow.
There is a growing pile of boxes in the hall under the stairs for my husband to take to the charity shop and I just hope he doesn't want to go through them to see what I am throwing out and thus weaken my resolve to get rid of stuff! None of it belongs to him, I hasten to add.
I think I have made a belated New Year Resolution! I get so much enjoyment from reading other people's blogs and seeing the lovely pieces of work they do and I want to try every technique myself. This is impossible, there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to do that, or find room for even more materials and media. So I have resolved to carry on enjoying looking at the work of others but buckle to and work in my own way . I've always been aware of having a 'butterfly' approach to textiles but there is so much to learn and always new things to try out. I shall still use techniques discovered by others of course, but maybe at last I am ready to settle down and follow my own path. It's taken me long enough - I don't know about being old and wise, some of us are just old!! Perhaps as I declutter parts of our house, I am decluttering my brain too - I do hope so.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Slow Progress.

I have only just noticed my feet sneaking into this photo - sorry about that! I started working on my rag rug again yesterday but after a short while I began coughing again so have had to put it away. Perhaps when the spring arrives I can sit in the garden and work on it without it affecting me. I don't know what has happen to the light/colour in these photos. I must check the settings on my camera to see if I have altered them by mistake. Everything looks a bit lighter than it should.
This is what I found after the snow had disappeared - what a treat, even if they do look a bit soggy and squashed. Tomorrow is supposed to be a fine day so maybe they will perk up a bit. I was given a double primrose plant a few years ago which seems to have disappeared, but these single ones have survived all the snow and low temperatures without any trouble.

These are a cheat and I bought them from the supermarket. A week ago they were just about 2" tall (that's 5cm to you youngsters out there) and I have watched them get taller each day. Yesterday morning when I got downstairs these three had opened and were there to greet me.

A rather different look to the garden in this shot, from the one on my previous post. I can't believe all the snow has gone so quickly. I am sorry if you still have the wretched stuff making life difficult, but rest assured if ours has gone yours will shortly follow suit. There is light at the end of this particular tunnel.
Having tidied my workroom last week, I then had to clutter it up again with stuff from the front bedroom while it was being redecorated. It was finished yesterday so I will have a good old sort out and put the furniture back next week and have my workroom to myself once more. I shall then turn my attention to the smallest bedroom which has become a glorified junkroom and is just stuffed with books, boxes and clutter. The charity shops will be brimming with donations by the time I have finished and I shall purr with delight at my tidy rooms - and then find uses for half the things I have got rid of!!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

We've been here before, haven't we?

Fast forward three months in your imagination and pretend this is blossom and not snow!!
We had another 2 or 3 inches overnight and my poor old snowman is looking a bit sad. He's developed a list and lost both eyes and his nose.

I want the snow to go, but do love looking at this glorious tracery of snow covered twigs and branches.

We can't get the car up the slope today and if it freezes tonight will be stuck in again tomorrow. However, we do have this to look at so it could be worse.

This was one of our visitors this morning.

I have never seen woodpeckers in the snow before and had a most enjoyable few minutes watching this one.

He/she shoved her head into the snow and shook it from side to side, clearing a small patch of ground and then probed her beak into the lawn in search of breakfast. You can see the snow being piled up in the above photo. I wish I had learned how to operate the video function on my camera as it would have been lovely to be able to post it.
Here she/he is at the start of another clearing session.

If that beak can make holes in a tree trunk, I imagine a frozen lawn is not going to pose any problems. I can't say whether any breakfast was found but I do hope so. It is such a handsome bird.
I did get to our group meeting yesterday, and a good time was had by all. Only two of the group were unable to get there which was amazing considering the conditions. My husband drove us (we gave a lift to a friend and fellow member), parked on the slope outside our hostess's house and very sensibly put the car in reverse and turned the wheels to the kerb. I got out and went to help my friend out of the back of the car, when I realised it was still moving! Fortunately it didn't move far but it just goes to show how slippery the road surfaces can be. It's a good thing the meeting was yesterday as we wouldn't have got there today. It sounds as if we have been foolhardy to attempt the journey, but it is only the side roads which are so slippery. All the main roads are quite clear.
I must commend our milkman, postman/lady and the refuse and recycling collectors, all of whom have managed somehow to keep delivering and collecting throughout, even if their schedules have been disrupted.

Monday, 11 January 2010

This and that.

I have started to add a few stitches to my transferred photocopy and have just been doodling with needle and thread. There is actually more colour to the photocopy than appears here and I would like to have rubbed a bit more of the paper backing away, but was afraid of rubbing too much. This particular copy was made on good quality paper at a shop, but now I have my own copier I think I shall try making copies on cheap paper which might give a better final result, assuming that it will rub away more easily. It is a quite labour intensive way of creating a design but hand stitching is always therapeutic. This technique has great possibilities for other subjects like architecture, where textures might be applied to a larger scale design, with small pieces of applied fabrics and a limilted amount of stitching.
The light was fading the other evening when my husband noticed this chap sitting on a neighbour's roof just up the slope from us. I've seen herons flying over before, but never seen one sitting on a roof. I nipped outside the front door to get this shot. Poor thing - he must be feeling hungry as all the fish will have gone deeper into whatever water they live in.
I wonder if I shall get to my group meeting tomorrow. We had a relatively mild night last night, with the temperature just on 0. The snow above our bay window was dripping gently even at 10pm, and the road surface is beginning to be visible again. The main roads are all clear - it is just the side roads that are still badly affected and we live at the bottom of one. More snow is forecast for Tuesday afternoon, but with luck I could be home again before it starts. We shall see.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Birds and Baking.

I needed a nice warm job this morning so set about making bread - a multi-seed loaf and two ordinary wholemeal ones - and a couple of cakes.
Almond cake on the left and Banana bread on the right. No, it isn't burnt, honestly! It takes ages to cook right through to the centre and I had to cover it with foil to stop it browning too much. I used dark brown sugar which made it look even darker.

This colourful bullfinch popped in again today. They look even brighter than usual against the snow.
I make no apologies for more pictures of fieldfares - I love them. It was interesting to watch a blackbird trying to chase the fieldfare away from the food, but I was pleased to see that eventually the fieldfare stood up for itself and chased the blackbird off.

This one is very fluffed up against the cold, but you can see it's colouring and markings quite clearly.
My home town - Chesham in Bucks - made the front page of the Daily Telegraph on Thursday. There was a photo of a lone sledger walking up a snowy slope with snowclad trees in the background and the steeple of St.Mary's church rising out of them. We were married in that church 55years ago! Someone made a booboo and got the name of the park wrong. I couldn't think why I couldn't remember Lloyd's Park which was the name in the caption. There was a very good reason as it is Lowndes Park.
I really hope we don't have the extra centimetres of snow that are on the cards for tonight and tomorrow. Most winters we get none at all and must already have had about 5 or 6 years worth. I daresay that in 6 months time I shall be hibernating again but on account of extreme heat and humidity!! You just can't please some people.

Friday, 8 January 2010

An icy flower?

The ice sculptor has been busy again - it's fascinating to go out to see what has appeared each morning after another cold night. This is the head of our pond pump/fountain.
This photo is a 'Spot the Fieldfares' game - at least that's what I think they are. There were six or seven of them feeding in this tree outside our front window but I'm not sure how many I captured here. I was surprised by how well camouflaged they are among the snowy twigs and berries.

Another pond pic - I do hope my little froggy and newty friends are surviving down there. As a rule our cold spells don't last as long as this one has, or have the same intensity. It will be interesting to see what plants have survived. The only good thing about the cold is that lots of snails and slugs won't have survived and maybe there will be fewer greenfly, etc., to plague us in the coming months.
I know that many people are invigorated by this weather and maybe I was in my youth, but I am now entering a torpid state and have to force myself into activity to get anything done. The natural urge to hibernate is very strong!! I did clear out a cupboard yesterday and pack two boxes with stuff for the charity shop, and I can see the floor again in my workroom, not to mention the worksurface by the window. We are warned of more snow to come at the weekend plus cold winds, so I shall find nice warm jobs to do like making bread and soup. Tedious though it is at times, housework gets me warm quite fast so I could end up with a nice clean house. It would be such a pity if the road became impassable again and no-one was able to visit and admire my efforts!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Here it comes!

This was taken at about 2.00pm yesterday and it started in earnest, but mercifully calmed down quite a bit and we only had a modest covering.
This is our resident 'stripey' blackbird looking for something tasty............

......... and a smaller visitor came past the backdoor - I wonder if it was the pied wagtail?

Things got serious during the night and this morning we woke up to about 4 or 5 inches of snow. We have Poppy staying with us at present and she was having to leap about in it - it was way past her knees. She can't understand why snowballs don't behave like tennis balls!

I can't remember the last time I made a snowman but there's not much else you can do with the stuff. While I was indoors changing my shoes and thawing my fingers, my husband got busy providing him with a little companion.
I have taken several photos of snow laden branches but thought that, lovely as they are, maybe you were all getting sick of the stuff, so decided not to post them. Keep warm and safe, and as they used to say during WW2 - 'Is your journey really necessary'.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Wintry Patterns.

Since New Year's Day we have had glorious sunshine, no more snow but very low temperatures and hard frosts lasting all day. It sounds as if these conditions will last through the week to come.
These two photos are of the strong morning sunlight shining through the voile curtains and frosted glass of the bathroom window. I rather like the patterns it made.

How about this for ice sculpture? The leaves of this variegated grass which grows in our pond look as if they are encased in glass. We usually turn the pump/fountain off at night but have been leaving it on to prevent it freezing up.

The stones edging the pond are also icebound or I might have managed to get a better shot from a different angle.

I do love these frosted leaves. They look so dismal when they are just dead, wet leaves lying on the grass, but a touch of frost gives them quite a different character.
The birds are out in force, ignoring all health warnings about high cholesterol levels. They are obviously very grateful for everything that is provided for them. I think the prolonged cold days and nights are having an effect, as I haven't seen them so fluffed up for a long time. Some of them look quite misshapen.
Hope you are all keeping warm and not too inconvenienced by the cold weather. One compensation of being old is that people expect you to hibernate, so I can get away with drinking too many cups of tea and staying indoors to read or sew. However, I have spotted the snowdrops poking through the soil and can't wait for it to be mild enough to start a bit of tidying up around them.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Santa Claus - the Victim!

I hope he feels well enough to come back next year, but the poor old chap has had such harsh treatment from Poppy the dog, that he's considering a career change. Does he remind you of Uncle Albert from 'Only Fools and Horses'?
He's lost his hat and already had the required haircut and I think he's going for a life of meditation.
On a more serious note, on Totalfeckineejit's blog he suggested we each light a candle at noon today, to remember someone special no longer with us, or to give thanks or make a dedication of some kind.
I lit my candle for anyone who feels that they have insurmountable problems. My wish is that they will find the courage and strength to deal with them and find a solution, and that maybe fate will step in and give them a helping hand.