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Saturday, 21 December 2019

Reasons why.

There are many reasons why I haven’t blogged, main one is we have been busy helping family, DS has been away from home for work so we have tried to help DIL with childcare and domestic stuff. Important work, here is Ian dealing with bedtime reading, important as GS at 4 years, 4 months has suddenly cottoned on to phonics so reading is beginning to take off although he seems to prefer STEM topics, surprised his reception teacher by recognising a hexagon, although not taught that concept at school.

Knitting and crochet continues apace, still working on second pair of toe up socks for Ian, progress has been made on the two Attic 24 blankets especially the Moorland for DIL as grandchildren like to help by holding the yarn, sometimes a bit too tight whilst we talk about colours and stitches.

I have a new project, our kitchen chair cushions have become worn, I have quite a quantity of Rowan big wool so I’m crocheting new covers using trebles, 6mm hook so the fabric produced is quite dense, work grows very quickly, should wear well without needing lining and I’m using up lots of stash. 

It will be made up envelope style, maybe if it is a bit narrow for a 40cm cushion I can add a border to frame it. Colours look a bit dull in picture, when complete will attempt to photograph it in daylight. 

Mmm, should I mention Christmas? Although a religious festival I dislike the intense commercialisation of a Christian festival, let the Solstice and coming longer daylight be celebrated by the non-Christian. It is not easy for me to just switch on a happy and jolly gene for the sake of it, I visited a lovely great aunt on Boxing Day to find  her dead in her chair, my Father-in-law died on Christmas night 35 years ago. With black humour DH says at least he waited till the credits went up on Raiders of the Lost Ark at 9.50, as requested the hospital had rung DH, he and his brother then had a 2 hour drive to Kent to break the news to their mother.  My father died suddenly 33 years ago today. 

It is not just these anniversaries, it is the big build up beforehand, then after Christmas nothing 'happens as all celebrations are before the event. Twelfth Night is just a date by which decorations come down, of course one could leave them up till Candlemas on February 2nd. I worry and become stressed over the most silly things, even to whether the Christmas card is right for the intended recipient, the printed words seem hollow for a recently bereaved friend, ‘merry’ to me implies rather tipsy, jolly or enjoyable Christmas would be an alternative.  

Don’t wish to sound miserable or Scrooge like, I’m saying how it is for me, a feeling going back to childhood when I remember being bored by TV so would be knitting or reading, the extra work load on my mother who stayed up late on Christmas Eve knitting dolls clothes for my sister’s new doll. I must have been an odd child, I had a doll too and used to wonder what I was supposed to do with it! 

If anyone is reading these scribblings may I wish them the opportunity to enjoy Christmas in the manner they would most enjoy and appreciate, thank you for commenting on my blog, I’ll try and return the compliment.

Monday, 18 November 2019

End of the marmalade

It was a sudden revelation that this was the last jar of 2019 marmalade, and a tiny jar at that. Although fifty plus jars were made back in January clearly this was not enough to last until next January. There are options to solve this, damson jam is eaten instead, we buy shop marmalade or purchase a can of Marmade (think that is the right name) to make a pseudo home made product. In reality  marmalade maybe home made from charity stalls at Christmas lighting up events or winter fairs would be a tastier option.

As long as I’ve had my own home I have made a Christmas cake, usually  using the recipe from the Stork cookery book from school, this year albeit a bit late to allow for maturity I’m doing the same. The fruit has been soaking in brandy, hope I wasn’t too heavy handed with the liquor and today, after a dental checkup the creaming, beating and baking will begin.

This glass bowl has a history, when DS was at play school there was the inevitable fund raising, this bowl, filled with ingredients to make a Christmas cake, was the prize, this was either 34 or 35 years ago. No clingfilm used, this cover reminds  me of shower caps, they are for food use to cover bowls, can be washed and reused, Ian bought them as part of our efforts to be eco friendly.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Heaven in suburbia

Life in suburbia has been fairly routine, nothing exceptional to record, day to day decisions about choice of meals, knitting groups, one at garden centre, one at a coffee chain, Pilates, a small move around of furniture in the lounge/back room/sitting room/snug to allow for the gas fire to be lit, ironing so yesterday was different for me. Met up with a school friend, we sat next to each other in sixth form so have known each other a long while, as we are both Friends of Kew Gardens we chose to go there, wow, it was a still morning so the ponds and lakes were mirror like, I didn’t take many pictures, will add them to the end of this waffle. Also for me there was the bonus of being out in the fresh air, walking for a couple of hours with pauses to admire the vistas, as friend said we are so lucky to live near to a world famous garden. I know I don’t have enough exercise so this was a good thing, as Sellers & Yeatman would say.

The first and third photos of the leaves were intended to show Ian what can be planted under trees, I didn’t think to find a label. Should have photographed the wildlife, plenty of coots, moorhens and swans.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Saturday evenings

A very long time ago when I was growing up my Mother regularly baked a cake on a Saturday evening, as my sister and  I grew up we would make cakes too, I’ve never stopped making home made cakes although the procedure hasn’t often been on  Saturday nights more when I’ve felt like it, we don’t live by regular routines any more! No need.

As I was making a sponge - vanilla Victoria sandwich if you are curious, Ian chose it over chocolate - that regular routine was brought to mind, how I appreciate changes in those years that make he task easier, prepared cake tin liners, electronic scales, silicone scrapers, handheld mixers, we did have these at home in later years in the form of a Kenwood chefette. I’m using Mason mixing bowls, imperial measurement and  licking the bowl still, yes I know it is raw egg but such a minute quantity.

Once cooled will be sandwiched together with homemade blackcurrant jam, not made by us but bought to support a charity, not sure which one. 

Jammed together eventually, half watched programme about Australian railways whilst working on sudoku from today’s paper, seem to have most success with those from Metro, so far have completed ‘gentle’ and working on ‘moderate’. Often if I’m struggling the best answer is to leave it till the next day and the correct answer will appear. 

In spite of the grey, wet, cloudy weather it has been a good day, our daughter’s birthday, couldn’t spend it with her but FaceTime helps to bridge the miles, England winning the rugby semifinal against New Zealand, we watched most of the match at home, listened to the last few minutes on the radio in the car. The roads to Kingston were delightfully empty, I didn’t wish to be late for Knitting 🧶 & Crochet Guild meeting in John Lewis. That store is demonstrating the financial struggles the partners are having, lifts and escalator not working, loos closed, doubts whether we will be able to continue to meet in the Community Room, an air of shabbiness, fewer tills so longer queues. It wasn’t all bad, I spotted a John Lewis brand coat 🧥 in fabric and style I liked, after the meeting it was tried on, approved and purchased. Now my old coats can be donated to WrapUpLondon to keep someone else warm. 

Monday, 21 October 2019

Still here

Just a brief hello, Ian and I have been suffering from the cold/virus that has been sweeping the country, Ian phoned surgery as he was feeling so grotty, GP said his was eleventh call that day. What is so annoying is that gradually one feels better then suddenly symptoms come racing back.

Not much news on the knitting front, I’m working the third side of first round of the Sweet Pea borders, the Moorland blanket is progressing slowly, we are away from the sludgy colours to the mauves, plums and purples. The Qiviut scarf is knitted and blocked, lovely Jean is going to join the ends so it becomes a cowl, no worries about losing what is a short scarf.

Another pair of socks for Ian has become my portable project, much progress was made last week when I travelled to St Albans by tube and train to meet a friend for coffee and lunch.

Bottom corner of Sweet Pea blanket, need stitch markers to show where to miss two stitches, much concentration needed here.

The scarf measures 33 1/2 x 4 inches. 

Not the original stitch pattern, just original colour sequence, both blankets by Attic24.

All photos just taken by iPad rather than from online album. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019


Even with logging into Blogger and my own blog it won’t accept my comments so just wanted to thank Librarian for her assistance, to explain I’m using my iPad to compose and post my blog, don’t really want to switch back again to Wordpress and lose  my few readers.  The iPad is so much more convenient than laptop, I intend to use the training sessions provided by the local reference library, also Blogger isn’t compatible with Apple updates.

I have also an Instagram account that is more photographs, less reflective and probably more yarn content.  Find me at    thepixiemum

For the minute I’ll just add photos at the end of the text, it is proving difficult to add more text after the pictures.

To make this interesting I’ll add a couple of pictures, the rosewood yarnbowl was a birthday gift from DS and DiL, the yarn is qiviut which I’m knitting up into a scarf.

The golden table decoration was given to me by my paternal cousins, Doreen and Mick after the weekend celebrations for their golden wedding at which I was a bridesmaid. Highlight for us was to have all our family together for the weekend, DD and DS live such busy lives.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

September mini break 2.

Well the herb garden photos vanished from the screen, will try again along with photos from the nearby amazing bookshop. The bookshop was so packed, jammed, squeezed in with so many books and other printed material one could not move around in it but so lovely. 

In reverse order, I’m so frustrated with Blogger b

September mini break.

Mid-September Ian and I zoomed off to South West Wales for a pre-Autumn break, very last minute but so fortunate weather wise, warm, sunny and dry, also fortunate in taking the last room in Heywood Spa Hotel in Tenby. Very pleased with choice, fantastic service from staff, also good food with breakfast cooked to order rather than having to serve oneself food that has been on a hot plate for ever. Lighting in lounges and in bedrooms was excellent so progress was made with knitting projects.

We are not used to empty, windy, hilly roads, albeit with good surfaces, our petrol car with 1600cc engine struggled, it is so used to Middlesex flatlands, we made it to St David’s, a city the size of a village, again steep inclines for pedestrians too. As is our custom we ate in the refectory, very generous portions of tasty local food.

There was a tiny market in the town, a stall was selling alpaca, would have been tempted need to complete 4 projects and use up huge stash too.

Following day was spent in Tenby itself, we walked in knowing it would be too steep to walk back, 
ambled around the mostly independent shops, found a smaller vegetable steamer for which we had 
been searching, the rather dusty box indicated this hadn’t been a best seller but it has been ideal size 
for us. Some clothes purchases for me will keep Seasalt in profit, the quality is good, the pinafore dress is lined and has pockets! Also their catalogues have interesting features about crafts, design, materials etc.

We found the National Trust merchant’s house, excellent and knowledgable guides there, I prefer these smaller NT properties rather than the large stately homes.  The herb garden made me consider that many of the ancient remedies, dyes and culinary uses should be scientifically examined for their properties today. Am going to attempt to post pictures of the garden whilst not losing the ability to write more text. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019


One of my objectives is to keep learning, maybe not formal education but practical skills and knowledge so it was with delight today I not only finished my first pair of toe up socks but they fitted Ian.  One of the advantages of toe ups apparently is that they can be tried on as one knits, however that ideal never worked in practice, partly as these socks were made much on the move. Cannot expect my husband to try on socks whilst travelling on the District Line or a crowded London omnibus. 

Another first first for today was our grandson’s first day at Infant school, his parents haven’t posted those obligatory front door photos on social media, just family site so this will be respected. My fingers are sore still from sewing on his name tapes on all the uniform. A question - when did school socks become black instead of grey?

Another question. Why do hairstyles look ok just before going to bed having not behaved during the day?

Will add photos of socks, colour varies but officially the Dublin Dye Company calls it Petrol. 

Monday, 9 September 2019

Preschool treat.

This time last week grandson Edward stayed with us for three days, a treat before he starts school this Wednesday, also a chance for little sister Alice to have her parents all to herself even if she was at nursery for two of those days. She understands her brother has left nursery to attend big school.

Our big day out was on Monday, different forms of transport in London, some enjoyed more than others. We travelled on South Western Railway to Waterloo, that was fine he appreciated the design of the former Eurostar terminal, changes in bus routes meant taking the Northern line, far too noisy for young sensitive ears, District Line to Tower Gateway with a short walk to The Minories for a pit stop. This pub is under railway arches so whilst drinking a large apple juice heard rumbles above before we travelled right at the front of the Docklands Light Railway. Not the expected success, apparently the train was too wobbly and a bit scary, a short walk brought us to the Emirates cable car, now that was fun up in the sky!

Lunch at the O2 before a walk to the riverside for the Thames Clipper, another success where he chatted to other travellers sitting at the front with him, of course in our sights. A westbound  journey on the District Line, appreciated once the train was in the open air and a final bus ride to our home during which he nearly fell asleep.

Next day was less frenetic, went to The Cake Box at Hampton  for a story about a hedgehog, decorating a cake to resemble a hedgehog using chocolate butter icing and broken spiky chocolate buttons, made a hedgehog using a folded paper bag and scissors, a video was shown about hedgehogs in gardens and countryside. All appropriate as Edward will be in hedgehog
class at his school.  The afternoon was spent working on his chess skills.

Will end this update with photos, Trust they will be in the right order!  Photos are not in right order, bother!

View from cable car

Waiting on station platform for train to Waterloo

Paper hedgehog, cake in holder, shortbread hedgehog,

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Dog days.

Old term for August, kind of sleepy times although we seem to have been busy with medical, dental and optician appointments, all of which have yielded good news. Well Ian has to have a tooth out next week, my teeth were fine especially after a visit to the hygienist as well. Ian’s annual blood tests came back showing all was good, my visits to the Royal Brompton Hospital will become an annual event, so much better than twice a year.

Yesterday found me at Specsavers, hadn’t had an eye test for a couple of years, my two pairs of varifocal glasses are four years old, reading glasses are five years old so with a slight change to prescription new specs were chosen. I did select to have new prescription lenses put into my sunglasses, love the frames, sorry no photo of me wearing them. Today is bright sunlight and I have no sunglasses. Very complicated ‘deals’, discounts for age, for two for one, aggravated by my wish to have best quality lenses. Pleased to say my eyes are very healthy so no worries there.

Lat weekend whilst in Dorset visited The Walled Garden in Moreton, couldn’t resist photographing the sweet peas, for me the flower of the year and a reminder I must crochet the border of the sweet Pea blanket. Ian’s socks have taken priority, my first toe up pair, picture below taken whilst knitting in the garden.

Now to add photographs, also  I need to practice readings for tomorrow, Jeremiah and Hebrews, at least no unpronounceable names!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Eating the cake.

Not always but much of the time I make a cake to pop into the cake tin, especially when the grandchildren are visiting but also just for us. Knowing we have some damson jam I decided to make a Victoria sponge, usual imperial measurement of  6+6+6 for butter, sugar and flour. I had a blank for which gas mark to use, daft really I’ve been making these sponges since I was about 11 years old, have used gas, Fahrenheit and centigrade and gas again since then.  Of course I consulted ‘Aunty’ Delia as she’s known at Pixie Towers, whilst doing so noticed her recipe for a sponge using the all-in-one method. In the heat the  butter was very soft, she recommends soft margarine but we don’t buy margarine, also the new fancy pants kitchen scales meant I could weigh the ingredients straight into the mixing bowl, I so love the revert to zero button for this. The extra magic ingredient was baking powder added to the self raising flour, wow, what a difference it made, the cake is so light and rose so much more. No more creaming method, this was so much lighter. Delia’s recipe was 4+4+4 so I upped it to usual 6 ounces to fit the tins.

Now can anyone tell me why the media is using the word “decades” instead of say 10 years or 20 years? ITN uses imperial measurement still, BBC has reports in metric, most annoying I can visualise  miles but am confused by kilometres. I accept in Europe distances are metric, here it was my understanding that miles and pints were to be retained. The milkman delivers still in glass pint bottles.

Now a coincidence that amused me, today I was working at our Local Studies, the photographs I was indexing were from the Richmond & Twickenham Times for Friday 13th August 1971. I’m blogging this exactly 48 years later yet so many of the reports were topical, including one on environmental issues from The Ecology journal. The quality of the microfilm for the issue was too poor to photograph this.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

It is just a little thing but .....

Yes, it is a little thing but I’m feeling very jolly and happy this evening, it was a good day, Pilates class at 7.30 am, both of us had our hair cut, we took decluttering stuff to the Kingston British Heart Foundation Shop, it occupies the ground floor of what was British Home Stores.  Very humid and muggy in Kingston, it was good to come home, sit in the garden from about 6.30, complete the Metro easy and moderate sudoku and then, joy upon joys succeed with the “Difficult rating challenging” sudoku. What was unusual though was Ian had been defeated by the challenging, first time this has happened so this pupil has beaten her teacher.

Time spent puzzling out the pattern means less time for knitting, the toe up sock is well up the leg and not too far off the cuff and rib. Picture will be posted at end of blog.

Just a thought, nothing to do with anything else I’ve posted, out and about I’ve noticed lots of summer dresses this year, shirt styles and pretty floaty dresses yet many are worn with trainers, heavy clunky lace ups or ankle boots. Perhaps I’m contrasting them with the Dior dresses in the V & A exhibition with such elegant footwear and today’s practical yet clumsy looking shoes.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

In a jam.

We are fortunate at Pixie Towers, our garden was an orchard before the land was developed in the early 1930s, so we have damson trees in the garden, apple trees, we did plant more apples when we came here. This year the damson tree has produced and is producing a good crop.  A couple of days ago Ian picked nearly five pounds, upon looking at them this morning it was realised that some were already destined for the compost bin, damsons need to be used almost as they are picked.

So, on what is apparently going to be the warmest day ever here we are making jam! One batch done, another simmering in the preserving pan, more fruit is ripening.
 Photos added at the end, once that’s done can’t amend the text.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Front garden.

Life has been busy at Pixie Towers, especially for PixieDad for it is the week of judgement for both our front garden and for the grounds of the church in the Borough in Bloom competition.  Judging started last Monday, we know not when it takes place, we know it is RHS criteria. Much time has been spent manicuring, watering, deadheading, the car has been taken off the drive so the garden in all its glory can be viewed from the footpath.

The church grounds have suffered some vandalism, stakes supporting roses have been broken, plants damaged, broken bottles left, seats upturned, notice board cover destroyed last Tuesday, then this Tuesday a window was broken, the perpetrators removed the protective wire covers before breaking the painted glass. The grounds are part  ministry providing an oasis of calm in an area of heavy traffic on both the roads and in the air.

On a happier note I will attempt to post photographs of the front garden, mostly taken from the pathway, once these are uploaded it is impossible for me to add further text.