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Friday, 18 December 2015

Baby surprise jacket.

All complete, buttons sewn on the right side for great nephew Noah to wear this jacket. 

Three views of my take on the Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern, bought way back in May this year at the Knitting Parlour in Malvern. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Still blogging.

Last Thursday we were able to see grandson at one of his regular swimming classes, held in a warm hydrotherapy pool at a local school, half an hour of activity in the water, idea is to make sure baby has no fear of water, also good for mums to socialise especially if they are home alone in a town away from long time friends and family. 

Had a very good weekend, Martha drove up from Dorset on Friday, Saturday we went to Town, thankfully SW trains didn't have problems so after clothes shopping we taxied to Fortnum & Masons for lunch.  It was fortunate we were early, gave us an opportunity to look around the store, I bought a naff swan tree decoration, then to lunch. Very wisely Martha had booked a table, tried not to look smug as we swept up the steps to the Balcony and our table with this view:-

For those who are interested, had turkey and Christmas pudding, delightful surprise as Martha ordered champagne as well, she knows how to please her Mother. 

The crowds in the store had increased so much after lunch that we purchased some seasonal food items before going to the calmer surroundings of Peter Jones. Must say that every time I go there the haberdashery and especially knitting area seems to have shrunk. Good thing I have plenty of stash. 

Came home to find Ian had won some super prizes at church fair, including a box of Jo Malone products. 

On Sunday sort of decluttered, Martha took back a linen box that had been my mother's, she had stained it herself, it was a item of furniture that had always been in my family home, so I kept it when the family home was cleared as it provided useful storage. Now we have a big task to bring together bedding, towels and table linen, decide what to keep and how to dispose of the rest. No one uses duchess sets, tray cloths and we could supply plenty of table napkins for a catering business which brings to mind the china we have. The reason we have so much is neither of our siblings wanted these items from our respective parents' homes,  some is  from a relation whose house we cleared and we bought this house fully furnished. 

This doesn't give an idea of scale but it fitted easily into Martha's car - a Juke - with the back seat down. 

Monday, 30 November 2015


The throw is made, very difficult to photograph, Ian used picture hooks and this was the result:-

Very warm and snuggly, pleased with the final result and yesterday for a few minutes this young man was lying on it, but he would rather be cuddled or sleep in some one's arms like this:-

Notice behind me is the Beekeepers Quilt over the back of the sofa. 

Edward and his parents stayed  Saturday night, gave his parents to catch up on sleep whilst we amused Edward. 

Meanwhile, I am battling with Ian's socks, not sure how many times I have carefully unpicked the work, stitch by stitch, now going to attempt the heels with an eye on Uni Challenge. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Progress report

Just a brief blog to show what I have been doing lately. 

A Puerperium Cardigan for Rachel, along with a couple of hats, all three garments definitely for newborns, 

We don't know whether these are for a great niece or nephew, blue for outerwear would suit either.

A work in progress for Rachel too is a BSJ (Baby Surprise Jacket), I am attempting not too knit too tightly these days but still went up a needle size to obtain the right tension. 

For a long while crochet squares have been my portable project, all 156 have been crocheted together, borders have been created, one beige and one pink, just a final border in blue for definition to be hooked. 

The photo shows I have some ends to weave in. This throw started as a project to use up odds and ends of double knitting, from it I have learnt that double knitting covers a wide variety of thickness of yarn so shall we say that not all the crochet squares ended up the same size. However, it is warm, snuggly and I have the perfect home for it, although it is not going to be just for display but for use, warmth and enjoyment. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

More happiness

Happiness is going to and from London where all the transport systems worked well on Friday, Ian drove me to the nearest Piccadilly line station, I was offered a seat immediately, pulled out knitting to find fixed circular needle had come away from cable, whilst scrabbling around for needle neighbouring passenger spoke to me so we chatted. With her perfect English didn't connect she was German, she had taken A levels in London and was on her way to a class reunion, we spoke about the benefits received by the volunteers working in her museum shop, not tangible benefits, but increase in confidence, skills, companionship, friendship, these retired ladies (it was mostly ladies, many widowed) who play golf, holiday, meet together and would never have done so if it weren't for volunteering. One lady, in her mid-70s had walked tall and gained so much from mastering a complicated computerised till system. As a volunteer myself I can endorse so much of what she said, I told her of my delight at no worries about leave rotas or when one went to lunch, indeed which day one works. 

The transport fairy was at play on my way home, walked downstairs at Embankment station, a train for Richmond came in, I boarded and was offered a seat straight away so was able to read the Evenig Standard. After all cannot go to London on a weekday and not come back with the evening paper. 

Reason I was going to town was to meet with former house mate, another mid-70s lady who has just returned from touring China, we looked around the National Gallery in the rooms covering late C19th and early C20th works, I was taken with this:- 

Not clear, but winding a skein of wool, here's the details - 

Today was such a happy day. I was at church and down to read lesson, just Jonah, no New Testament as the service was shortened to allow for Act of Remembrance afterwards. All went well with the reading, well I had practised beforehand, back to pew,  a latecomer came to sit next to me, I looked at her and realised it was my lovely daughter Martha.

This may not unusual to anyone who doesn’t know me, but Martha lives 100 miles away in Dorset, we hadn’t seen her since the first weekend in September, she isn’t religious any more, so to join me for a service was considerate.  She had tried to be there before the service but M3 & traffic didn't help. Plans had been made for her to come here for 21st November and for the first weekend in December for “Mummy and Martha” time so her visit was a surprise to me, not to her Dad! I had intended to stay for the Remembrance service, Martha was willing to do so, instead we went home so she had time with her Dad too. Unwittingly I had left a big casserole slowly cooking, thinking it would be good for a few meals for us for a few days, we were able to give her a good lunch.

We went to Kingston in her new car,  a Joules Christmas jumper may have been purchased by me, and  Knit-pro circulars to replace the broken one. John Lewis did say they were having supply problems with Knit-pro, I wanted fixed size 4.5mm had to settle for just the tips, that's ok I have plenty of cables.

One very happy Mum, pleased when  Martha phoned to say she was home safely, she had had to contend with rain and heavy traffic on her way home. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Oh happy day

Yesterday I spent the main part of the day at the local archive, working on my own project of recording details about photographs that appeared, or didn't in the local paper, the Richmond & Twickenham Times from June 1969 to the early eighties. The photos for each issue are now in folders, so my task is to plough through the microfilm to find the report that matches with the photo., record the details in the picture, file photos in special plastic wallets before word processing the details.  Sometimes there is an article where the photo wasn't used but was retained and can be linked to the relevant report. It does help that I would have read the paper all my life and recognise some of the characters in the report. My mother used to post it to me when I was at college in Liverpool to keep me in touch with home. 

As the photo collections starts from June it doesn't contain the photo from when I was on the front page of the paper in 6th May 1969 with my American pen friend who had come to visit after we had been writing to each other for ten years. 

As the weather was so beautiful I walked across Richmond Bridge, noticing the very high tide had flooded the tow path to wait for the bus home. At the bus stop I was asked where I bought my shoes, my enquirer thought they were gorgeous - I do agree, this has happened before so here are my red suede shoes bought in a sale from Jones the Bootmakers.

I do like the small heel, some how they make me feel elegant, if they make other people smile too so much the better. 

More smiles when I reached home, Ian had bought and planted a whole tray of cyclamen around our privet hedge, they should do well in the bed of horse manure compost. 

I hope these will bring a smile to anyone passing by, such colour throughout the year. 

Monday, 26 October 2015



Delighted to have won this quilted Advent calendar yesterday afternoon at the Richmond & Kew Quilters exhibition held at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington. There were a couple of raffles in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the Trinity Hospice, in this one there were  14 quilted items as prizes, one put one's raffle ticket in the numbered bag matching the item one would like to win. We bought a couple of tickets, chose a cushion,  another cushion we really liked had so many entries so we went for the calendar instead. Must give credit to Julie Standeven who made it, and a number of other quilts in the show. 

The show wasn't well publicised, the venue's fault not the quilters, I was told about it in the morning, just open for three days, finished yesterday and although I am not a quilter thought it would be interesting, and it was, plenty of books, gadgets, fabric  for sale as well as a cafe facility.  Given that it was the Rugby World Cup second semifinal very nearby we decided against driving but travelled by diverted buses each way, fortunately the traffic was light, we reached home about 10 minutes before the end of the match. Very pleased with the result, just the final next Saturday and our town will be back to what counts for normal when living near Twickenham stadium. 

Detail for 11th day of Advent or 11th December, DS birthday. We haven't had an Advent calendar for many years so I am unsure whether it is opened on 1st December or Advent Sunday so may I have a definitive answer from you, the reader please?

Another quilt we thought was very clever was  this:-

the embroidered map of Milly-Molly-Mandy's village, with buildings, Toby the dog and MMM herself quilted. Of course this has led me to perusing my copy of this book whereby I notice that MMM is sent to buy a skein of red wool for sixpence for Grandma who knitted socks and mittens and nice warm woollies for them all. Of course I had never picked up that detail before, nor that Auntie who sewed frocks and shirts had a sewing machine that looks just like the 70 year old Singer that belonged to my Mother. A very self sufficient family with three generations living under one thatched roof. 


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Landmark journey

As mentioned, our grandson stayed at Pixie Towers last night, his first night away from home, pleased to say it went well, he had his own room, the so called master bedroom as it has original coving and is at the front of the house yet isn't the largest bedroom, such is 1930s design. Yesterday evening our Son went to the Old Hamptonians dinner, today Daughter in law met up with university friends for afternoon tea in central London. Ian and I went with her to assist with Edward's first train and underground journey as DS was busy umpiring hockey matches elsewhere. Edward now 12 weeks and two days old, slept most of the way on South West trains as below and again on the District Line. 

However, plenty of smiles on emerging into Sloane Square, so sorry didn't photograph them. 

On the District line started knitting a hat for Edward, cast on, knitted a couple of rows of the pattern, then made the error of knitting with the cast on tail so have to undo half the round. Didn't touch either knitting or crochet this evening, read the papers for I had picked up a Times, without the magazine, on the District line so with two papers and watching rugby from Twickenham and Manchester no progress was made with the four projects on which I am working. Since England are no longer competing in the World Cup my interest is waining so maybe more will be achieved another day. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Work in progress

I haven't mentioned knitting and crochet recently, here is an indication of how I have spent this morning. 

It has been a surprising struggle to join crochet squares together to form this blanket, this morning I discovered the light blue square back to front so there was undoing of the slip stitch join I had done yesterday evening whilst catching up with the Bake Off. 

After a while it is easy to differentiate between right and wrong sides of these granny squares especially after weaving in over 144+ ends on the wrong side. Anyway, 'tis done, I am joining  horizontally, have one and half to go before the vertical rows are crocheted together as can be seen here:-

I am working from right to left, (I crochet and knit right handed but sew left handed) this shows the wrong side of the work, in the back ground shows the other half of the blanket to be joined.  then I plan a fair sized colourful border to frame it all. I doubt it will be completed in a week's time when young Edward and his parents stay here so here is a picture of him wearing the BSJ (Baby Surprise Jacket). 

Back to hooking now, byeee.  

Saturday, 26 September 2015

London and Open House weekend.

Last weekend was Open House London, an annual event designed to celebrate the architecture and interior design of buildings not usually open to the public. Sometimes these are 'ordinary' homes that may have been remodelled or were of advanced design for their time, Span houses spring to mind. 

This year we hit the City of Westminster, on Saturday leaving Embankment staton we walked to Whitehall Place, following a route I took daily when I worked in the Old War Office Building. It was my first 'proper' job, a senior librarian said to me, "Are you interested in this?" I was, trying make sense of the UDC (Universal Decimal Classification) letters and numbers I inked on the spine of books, the special classifications for military and for regimental histories, the hand written dictionary catalogue arranged by British Museum library 1909 rules. I was interested enough to be sent to Liverpool library school to study for the then Library Association exams., to still belong to CILIP LA's successor,  to be a member of the LA Dewey classification Committee and specialise in Cat'n'Class.

This memorial to the Tank Regiment was a surprise to me, the Old War Office Building is to the right, so clean today compared with the sooty building in the sixties.  

 We started our visit in part of the Admiralty building, sadly cameras weren't allowed so couldn't show the views over Horse Guards or the paintings.  The queues for entry into Admiralty House were long, I had made an error in not bringing knitting or crochet to pass the time, instead we lunched at Waterstones before jumping on a bus to the Westminster Archives in St Ann's Street, not so much for the building but to compare and contrast the facilities offered at the Archive where I volunteer. What a difference, a purpose built building with a reading room with so much space, interesting exhibition of historical artefacts including G. F. Handel's rates bill, a conservation department and a Conservator whose work we were shown. I suspect I will go back for research into my paternal family history. Nothing to do with the building but excellent hospitality from the volunteers for this well organised tours. 

Although not a good photo Open House is about buildings so I show this window in the Reàding Room which reflects this historical city. 

On Sunday we made just one visit to the Methodist Central Hall near Parliament Square, on emerging from Westminster tube the Battle of Britain fly past of spitfires and hurricanes looped over, such timing. The whole area was busy, the congregation, so smart in uniform or Sunday best was streaming out of Westminster Abbey after the Battle of Britain service whilst the Queen Elizabeth conference centre was hosting an event for the London Fashion Show. All this and sunshine made for a great atmosphere. 

View of QE2 conference on left from staircase. If we had wanted to climb up the dome our efforts were thwarted by the disclaimer form, couldn't meet the health criteria, it didn't matter, again the visit was more than the building, there was an interesting video about Methodism and a wall display including this:-

An ideal 'rule of conduct' for the world, transcending all politics and beliefs. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Surprise crop.

Ian tidied up his Silver Gilt front garden this afternoon, the random potato plant was harvested, we were delighted with the quantity of what he suspects may be Maris Pipers. Size may be uneven, they are smooth and mostly unblemished. 

Lovely atmosphere in the road, passers by chatted, we updated neighbours about the award, were asked for directions to a car park at a local school, commuters spoke to us, apparently Waterloo station was heaving but unusually for Rugby matches our local High Street was very quiet. Indoors now, we can hear the whirr of helicopters, we will watch out for the light effects from the opening ceremony from an upstairs room, if the wind is right we may he the roar of the crowd.  

Meanwhile, another view of a slightly more manicured garden. 

So what do I write about, or should that be - about what do I write? Then I am concerned about punctuation for that sentence. Perhaps start with views from the footbridge at Teddington Lock for a week ago we were part of a group walking from Richmond station to Teddington Lock along the Surrey bank of the River Thames. It was one of those days perfect for walking, warm enough but not baking, not blowy either. We have stops, one of party gives a brief talk about landmarks, plenty of those in this historic borough, one topic of concern was the absence of the cows on Petersham Meadow that day. We shouldn't have been concerned, the cows were visible on Wednesday when I drove past. 

Looking upstream towards the weir 

Middlesex bank on the right, Surrey bank on left. 
Looking back to the island that is part of the Lock. 

As a child, the Lock was a destination walk on a Sunday afternoon, access was far less restricted then, river traffic was commercial too,  coal for the power station at Kingston was transported in this way. 

The big excitement here is the Rugby World Cup and its impact on our lives, we live within walking distance of the stadium, today will be the only weekday affected, our road had fewer commuter cars this morning, some schools didn't open, those that did closed at midday. Ian returned from Kingston by bus as he hadn't wished to drive in, however the traffic was light so it appears warnings of road closures have been heeded. Our High Street has had a facelift, it is quite jolly with banners and flags, the station rebuilt although much needed lifts won't be installed until next year. 

Thought I could download a FB picture, it didn't work, I have six weeks to take my own. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Holiday Continued.

As it is some time since we moved west from Looe, I am going to just mention highlights so then catchup on more recent events. Must add, when I give publicity to a business it is because I considered we had good service, or were fun, a bit different, may need to be better known. This is not to say that I disagree with more commercial blogs, I don't, this blog is just my rambling, inarticulate and I hope fairly uncontroversial thoughts and therefore an incomplete part of the life of a content baby boomer who still worries about getting things right. 

On our way to Falmouth we stopped to have a brief look around Truro, as usual in a cathedral city we lunched in the cathedral cafe and were not disappointed. What did disappoint us was the Christmas shop inside  the cathedral, now this was August 18th so we are still in the season of Trinity, in my weird brain I equate Trinity with Summer - is it all that green - and more weirdly with Summer dresses. 

We couldn't face going in, from what we saw the items on offer looked like commercial tat. 

I may have said before, our holidays are not beach and sand, we potter around, if possible meet with friends or family so even more enjoyable and this time it was doubly so. A colleague from Ian's working life in Dubai retired to Falmouth; a colleague from Ian's completely different London employment retired with wife and family to Falmouth and we had arranged to meet up with these guys whilst we were there. What was amazing was that these two guys had met and realised they both knew Ian!  Now Dubai friend is going to do work for London friend's daughter. 

In spite of the rainy and grey weather we were able to go out on a two hour boat ride from Falmouth up the Helford River, somewhere I had wanted to do since reading about this area in Howard Spring's Cornish novels.  Rather blowy, but such lovely clean air that enabled me to cope with steep inclines so after we needed refreshment, by chance we saw a sign for Cafe Cinammon situated off The High Street in Old Brewery Yard. Although it was almost closing time the owners, Debby and Ross still served us, we sat in the sheltered sunny courtyard and enjoyed the most yummy cakes and drinks, followed by chat and banter. I didn't take photographs so see their FB page for more details, we hope to return and urge others to try the food here.  There are some lovely glossy lifestyle magazines to peruse,  another reason to linger. 

We wandered along the High Street, another gem, independent shops, not a clone high street here and up the top some views across the water. 

Of course crochet and knitting grew, more details soon. 

Good night everyone. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Learning curve.

It is well over four years since I acquired an iPad yet I still struggle. Over a week ago I couldn't read or send emails from either of my accounts on my iPad, there was still the magic ping when someone sent me mail I was only able to pick up from my iPhone, everything else worked. Forty five minutes on the phone to Nadia, an Apple lady in Portugal resulted in an appointment at Apple in the Bentalls Centre as she couldn't solve the mystery.

All is well, within a few moments the problem was solved, my IPad was Full Up. A few weeks before I had used iTunes to link it with the ancient lap top, over five and a half photographs spilled over onto the iPad leaving no room for the contents of the emails.  Both internally and externally the machine had a thorough clean, now I have to add back Apps and websites. One of the first to return was Ravelry, I need to install BBC iPlayer to catch up on The Archers too.

It was in mid August that Ian and I set off for our Summer holidays, slightly different this year, we went away in school holidays, stayed in England and returned to a hotel we'd visited in July 2013.

Our first few days were spent with daughter, we linked up with a school friend of mine who lives in Poundbury on the edge of Dorchester, the weather was atrocious so no chance to photograph the town, so different from elsewhere, few traffic signs, no yellow lines, mixture of shops with houses. Each property has out of sight garages or car ports, front gardens didn't figure either.  Apparently the bus service is good, Dorchester has two railway stations too.  It was far too wet to walk around but we visited one shop Christabel's Linens, full of goodies, so much so couldn't resist buying towels for the shower room we are having built by extending downstairs cloakroom.

The poor weather followed us to Cornwall, we stayed at the Fieldhead Hotel in West Poole again for a couple of nights, on our last visit we hadn't travelled on the train line from Poole to Liskeard, I was under the misapprehension that this was a steam or heritage line, but it was the modern incarnation of British Rail, just two shabby carriages coming to the end of their lives as if they had been discarded by more important and prestigious lines. The shabbiness matched the town of Liskeard, it was difficult to find somewhere for lunch, we ended up in Stuart House, a community building for arts, where sandwiches were made freshly for us by volunteers in the café. We do ponder about some towns, we use the type of shops and their products as a measure, Liskeard seemed poor in this regard and we wondered about the occupations of the inhabitants. Certainly it was within commuting distance to Plymouth by car or train, the train was a bit of a trek from the town centre.

More about an enjoyable holiday in spite of poor weather, it is too late to write more.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Silver Gilt

Great excitement at Pixie Towers, Ian entered the front garden category of Richmond Borough in Bloom, I had picked up a leaflet at the library it said that gardens should have a wow factor. Our front garden is real thirties suburban design, front pedestrian path, driveway leading to a garage that is way too small for a modern car. 

We told no one we were entering the competition as we had no idea of the standard required apart from the wow factor, the planting scheme - well we originally didn't have one but gradually tried to ensure the garden was insect friendly, colourful and a bit zany. How many front gardens have potatoes and squash growing, these have seeded themselves in our home grown compost? Somehow too there are nettles, many of the colourful flowers have come from Ian's habit of buying plants very cheaply when they no longer look their best, perhaps not been watered by the retailer or the last ones left. 

Some plants have been there for ever, like the privet hedge to the left of the garage, the roses to the right of the front door, the grass which was more extensive as there were no beds in the centre before. The hydrangea was originally one huge plant that also had been in the garden for ever according to a neighbour, was split into three, two for our garden and one to a friend. 

The following photos were taken last Monday, the judging was early July so the vista has changed a little, Ian has added more plants, moved some pots and there has been much rain since July. 

View from front door looking towards pedestrian gate. 

From front door, slightly more to right of previous photo. 

Centre bed in middle of grass looking towards front wall. 

View from garage door towards front wall and road. 

From front of drive looking towards house. 

Looking over the front wall towards the house. 

Looking towards the bay window, there is a water butt behind the big flower pot in which is growing one of the banana plants. 

The result of the competition came last Saturday, so there is joy that Ian has received Silver Gilt, we are thus off to an award ceremony next month celebrating 25 years of Richmond Borough in Bloom. Another personal pleasure for us that he is the only winner in our 'village' of Whitton, a district looked down on it is felt compared with fashionable Barnes, Teddington, Strawberry Hill and St Margarets.