A Sunny Day

After the bitingly cold weekend we awoke this morning to no frozen windows or condensation running down them. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature has gone from 2 degrees to 10+. Time to get out in the garden and start tidying it up for the season ahead. Snowdrops cover the bank at the back of the garden and for once I managed to clear all the ferns in the Autumn so they really stand out against the dark green of the Laurels.The Hellebores are just starting to open and the Crocus and Primroses are beginning to show their faces.

Lavender in the front garden, the bees seem to love this so I have given it another haircut so it should last another year.

At WI this week we have to bring along a favourite hat. I decided to dig out the hat I made when I first started needlfelting and finish it off! I made it some years ago but was distracted by other projects and so it has been languishing in my fabric stash for some time. It was the ideal time to do it as it was far too cold to do anything other than sew by the fire. It is somewhat naive in style, I seem to remember that I had wanted to make a hat like a fruit bowl, why I can’t Imagine! Anyway I thought I had better finish what I started and picked out some of the detail with embroidery threads. It’s quite nice but I don’t think I’ll be wearing it very often.

I have been continuing with my collage/mixed media paintings. I have been working on a triptych of Red Riding Hood, which I still have some detail to add to and I am starting to plan a Three Bears one, although that will be a single panel. When I went up to Bath the other week to stay with Vee we took in a Peter Brown exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery. It was superb, and that set me thinking about a townscape, based loosely on one of his pictures. At the moment it is hanging in the kitchen waiting for me to decide if I need to do anything else to it or if I should just stop fiddling!

So, that’s been my weekend, I’m now looking out of the window, the sun is still shining, shall I go out and do some more gardening or shall I listen to my body which is telling me that I’ve done enough for today? Perhaps a cup of tea is called for…

PS my hat won the WI competition, yae!


Ever Hopeful

We put the house on the market ( again) at the beginning of the year. We had a burst of activity last week, with several viewings but none this week. Still, we are not deterred, but it does get a bit tiresome always living in a show home and having to go out at a moments notice to give the estate agents a free hand with their ‘clients’. We have been to quite a few pubs as a result and discovered a few new ones too.

As part of the clearing out I regrettably had to get in touch with Vee to ask if she would mind if her dolls house finally went to recycling. My father had made it for her but over the years it has become very tattty. She said that was ok but when it came to it my heart wasn’t in it so I kept the roof and one floor so I could set about restoring it to a bungalow as we had plenty of dolls house wall paper that we had bought in Bath some years back. All of Vee’s dolls house furniture was wrapped up in newspaper in an old chest of drawers, there was loads of it and certainly more than could be accommodated in a bungalow. Whilst I was pondering what to do with it all I also came across the box of Kavalan Whisky that Lol had bought us from Taiwan, now I had another dilemma, what to do with the box, it was far too good to throw out.

It came to me in a flash, I would downsize the dolls into a townhouse and a bungalow for the country! A quick conversion was called for.

The before box

House conversion, the outside of the box has been left unchanged.

The bungalow has yet to be tackled! But the lady of the house also needed some new clothes, the old ones were at least twenty years old and looking very threadbare. She has been in a state of undress in the top of my sewing box and I almost gave up on her as she has become somewhat distorted with age but this morning I at last effected the transformation from this…

To this

So, the dolls have a new house even if we haven’t made the move yet.

A Flurry of Creative Activity

Since just before Christmas I have been exploring and redicovering collage as a means of describing new forms in the landscape. I was reminded of it in my art group and have since gone on to produce six or so works. I find it particularly satisfying as it is like sculpture in the first instance, building up layers of paper, then adding paint and pastel which I rub into the surface and then using a brush and water to take away colour or merge it. The results are very satisfying.

This is the first one I did, it is a view from the top of the hill, looking across to the High Moor of Dartmoor.

Autumn Apples, the small Apple Tree on the bank in our garden which each year is laden with fruit

An Impression of Venice where we went earlier this year.

Headland, a typical West Country view

Hedge Parsley, growing in the lane.

Dartmoor Winter, my most successful one yet!

Winter Trees

I’m working on another one at the moment, again of Dartmoor, from the top of my road. The soft earth of mid-Devon before the land rises up into the harsher landscape of the moor.

Hot, hot, hot!

And so the heatwave continues, 15 days without rain and one could almost get used to it. Forget that only a month ago we were suffering from the coldest, wettest spring on record, forget the fact that the newspapers were telling us that we were half way through a 20 year cycle and we could expect colder, wetter summers as a result, no matter, enjoy it whilst it lasts.

So much has happened since last I wrote, where to begin? Vee, Mat and Mo came to visit at the start of the heatwave. We had a very pleasant few days with them which included trips to Woolacombe, fish and chips in Braunton, and swimming at Westward Ho!. Matt and Mo had to return to London but Vee and I discovered Chagford Lido and spent a glorious afternoon there. Hyw and I have since made a return visit, it really is most excellent and one of the hi lights of living here, I only wish we had discovered before!







We went for lunch at The Beer Engine before Matt and Mo returned to London, as good as usual and so relaxed. We ate outside as it was so lovely.



The good weather has continued and it has been too hot to garden, instead I have sat under a tree and admired all my hard work. The vegetables are doing well and I have bought a number of rose bushes which I have planted once the sun had gone down, still they have a hard job surviving in this heat. Sitting in the garden I also have a chance to take in the wildlife, when Vee was here we found a family of hedgehogs, its good to know they are still around. Here are some photos of our other wildlife including this Spotted Fly Catcher.





I have bought this wicked bright green swimming costume as next week I am off to Cornwall to stay with my sister for a week. Knowing my luck the weather will have broken by then!

As I am now the sheriff of the Neighbourhood Watch (if you can’t beat them, join them!) I thought I ought to have a newsletter in an attempt to make it more inclusive. My first newsletter, courtesy of Mail Chimp went out yesterday and so far it seems to have been well received.

It was my turn to host the Felters today, this is a group of about ten women who originally met together to do a Felting course at the village hall. Since then we have met at each others houses once a month to try out whatever craft or interest the hostess has. Today I had six of the group round to try their hand at monoprinting, lino cutting and acrylic painting. It was great fun.



Still Freezing

Saw Sue from work for one of our infrequent get togethers on Wednesday. Lots of gossip and good food at Carluccio’s in Exeter. Friday saw Vee, unusually early at the station, for a trip to the quilt show at Westpoint. Some lovely quilts, with very fine sewing but only a few I’d take home as the choice of fabrics and design left much to be desired. Had a wonderful lunch in the Beer Engine having spent all my money on fabrics and threads.




The Great British Sewing Bee has just started on television, who would have thought sewing could be so exciting. As a result I felt motivated to make some ‘jimjam’ bottoms out of some farbric that Fi gave me a few Christmases ago! They even have pockets.





Saturday was relatively warm and, more importantly sunny, so we set off for a day of sketching, via the South Molton patchwork shop. We did some sketching on the road to Chumleigh but soon headed for the coast at Combe Martin, where it was relatively sheltered. After spending about 2 hours there we went on to Ilfracombe because Verity wanted to see the Damian Hirst statue of ‘Verity’! It is quite a striking piece, in a good position looking out to sea but the face is a little bit ‘Lord of the Rings’ style, which rather lets it down.






Sunday the weather turned dull again but that didn't matter as we had our very own sewing Bee, hand quilting Vee's Japanese inspired quilt. Monday was a little bit rainy so we couldn't go for the walk we had promised ourselves but carried on with the quilt instead, this time sewing the bias binding on. Now all she has to do is hand sew the other half of the tape on but I reckon it will take her some time! It's a shame I didn't take a photo of the quilt but I guess it will be better to wait until it is finished.




It feels like a betrayal!

I have been working on the computer this afternoon, getting my new blog site ready to go live. It seems like a betrayal of this blog but really its a rationalisation so that I can go back to writing on this site, about gardening, cooking, with a bit of sewing, thrown in for good measure. It’s not ready yet but it won’t be long.

Meanwhile I have been to the gym twice this week already and both days I beat my previous record so that I am 5 minutes quicker at rowing and on the cross trainer. I have been getting some free extra coaching from two guys who do weights (they aren’t like some of the muscle bound freaks with a beer belly) so hopefully we will soon see some improvement.

I have a new stylus for my ipad with a fibre end rather than a rubber tip so I have been trying it out!



No, I haven’t been caught speeding again but I haven’t been keeping my blog up to date, and for that I apologise. Now, where was I?

We went to Little Common for a few days at the end of January to celebrate mums 82nd birthday and to view the new kitchen!


The kitchen is excellent, she really got value for money and John had done the decoration and put up a blind, that we went and bought whilst we were there, so it really looks good.


We went out for lunch to the Queens Head at Icklesham, which we hadn’t visited for over 30 years! It was a foggy, misty day, we could hardly see the front of the car, but the pub was warm and welcoming and we had a decent meal there.



We went for lunch at Berry’s house on her actual birthday and the sun shone brightly!

Here is mum, sandwiched between Marion and Berry.
Mum had lots of lovely presents for her birthday including parcels from Taiwan and Bath.

Vee said i haven’t written much about the garden. This is for several reasons: 1. Its winter 2. Its been raining! Still, at long last I did manage a morning and cleared the back hedge and bank of brambles and ferns so that you can see the snowdrops, and daffodils when they come. We also had the tree surgeons come and remove some trees and prune the Catalpa which is in danger of touching the overhead cables. As a result, we have lots of wood for next winter!

I have been busy doing lots of painting, I’m getting quite good now, even if I do say so myself. What else? I twisted my ankle rather badly the other day, had to rest it for two days and my toes are rather bruised but otherwise ok. I can’t go to the gym though but as they are redecorating it, it doesn’t matter. Lol and Gwil have been celebrating New Year in Taiwan, the weather looks lovely there! It is the year of the Snake so I made Qun a cake with a snake on top, not very good as I couldn’t stand properly!

The only major thing to happen this month is I have bought a new car. I traded in my beloved Citroen Picasso for a c4 so hopefully my other half will find it easier to drive as it is an automatic.

I pick it up next Wednesday!

Here are a few more pics for those of you in foreign places.