19 May 2018

Lunchtime Concert



Late start today, didn't surface until 9am! which isn't surprising given the busy day I had yesterday. It started with the usual morning walk with the dogs, breakfast, then getting ready to go into town for the lunchtime concert in the Cathedral.
My friend's husband drives us in and we get separate buses home.
I had time before the concert started to go to the market for some plants. Red geraniums, orange, rose and pink begonias. I could have bought more but as I was catching the bus home I had to be mindful of heavy bags!
We reserved our seats - you leave a glove, specs case, scarf on a chair! and joined the queue for sandwiches and a drink. I had a cup of tea, egg and cress sandwiches and a frangipani cake, mmm delicious.
The concert was renowned violinist Charlotte Rowan. Her performance was outstanding. She is a performer who "combines dazzling technical proficiency with a masterful command of her instrument".  She was accompanied by the equally outstanding pianist Charlotte Stevenson. They were so good the applause was such that they returned for an encore.
After a brief mooch around the shops I caught the bus home, not for a sit down in the garden but to pick my grandson up from school after he stayed behind for GCE revision. Then to Argos to buy a new rotary clothes line, Aldi for cake ingredients, McDonalds (grandson was hungry) then home. Time for a short sit down and a cup of coffee before feeding the dogs, feeding myself, change into carpet bowls gear and out for a summer singles league match. Phew!! As a team we lost, it's difficult to get the hang of other team's mats. And my match, well it was another humiliating defeat. I hope I can do better when they visit us!
Our weather is glorious which is good for the Royal wedding. I will watch some of it whilst baking a chocolate cake for my grandson, then sit in the garden and plan where to put my geraniums and begonias.
I hope you have a good weekend.


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

13 May 2018

Weekend

Another busy and fun weekend kicked off yesterday with our village Medieval Mayhem afternoon.

After walking the dogs yesterday morning I finished off the cake I had made on Friday and then headed down to the hall to help with the tea and cake stall.

We were so busy that by the time I remembered to take some photos most of the cakes had gone! Home made cake and a cup of tea is always popular. 
My contribution was my usual coffee mocha cake on the red plate. 

Elsewhere everyone was having a great time despite the miserable weather. 
It wasn't heavy rain and it was quite mild so there was a fairly good turn out.


Dancing round the Maypole


Guess where the treasure is


Smashing crockery is always popular

Racing Knights

Beautiful vintage cars.
Because of the weather many of the owners left early so I missed some real beauties.

Galleon wars was great fun.
They started in two rows opposite each other.
The idea was for the child at the back to guide the blindfolded one in the front
and tell them when to spray the water.
I'm not sure what the outcome was meant to be, there was another group over the other side,
 they just had a great time.

There was archery, an art exhibition, tug-of-war, a bouncy castle,
a plant stall, burgers, hot dogs and chilli, ice cream and a bar.


Back home these beautiful flowers were waiting for me, sent from my beautiful Aussie daughter.
Mother's day in Australia

∼∼∼∼∼∼

Today we have been to Colchester to watch my grandson play basketball. 
He was selected for the Essex team and today was the 
England Basketball under 15's Boys Inter Counties Tournament. 

Warming up. My grandson hanging on after making a basket.
Six counties competed 

Final score
and Essex won. 
Some of their games were close but they never let up, they played very well.

Each boy received a gold medal and the team shield will be kept by their Coach until next year.
I'm a very proud Nan

~Be warm and well ~

Polly x


10 May 2018

A Good Read

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
Let me get my one and only criticism out of the way first. I don't know why the author gave the novel this title as wolves do not figure in the plot at all. They are mentioned once or twice but that's about it! I was expecting somewhere in the story to read about wolves being, well, tender, maybe towards somehow helping stranded humans. 
So that done let's begin.
This beautifully written novel is set in Canada in 1867. Winter is tightening its grip on Dove River, a small isolated settlement in the Northern Territory. Laurent Jammett is found brutally murdered. He had been a voyageur for the Hudson Bay Company. Mrs Ross stumbles upon the crime scene and sees tracks leading from the dead man’s cabin north toward the forest. Soon after the investigation is launched Mrs Ross makes another discovery – her 17 year old son Francis has disappeared and is now considered a prime suspect. She decides to go after him to clear his name. 
Such unprecedented violence in a small quiet community attracts a lot of interest. We have Andrew Knox, Dove River's elder statesman; Thomas Sturrock, a wily American itinerant trader; Donald Moody, the clumsy young Company representative; William Parker, a half-breed Native American and trapper who was briefly detained for Jammett's murder before becoming Mrs. Ross's guide. And a few others.
One by one, the searchers set out following the tracks across a desolate landscape, 
between them seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for seventeen years, stolen furs and a forgotten Native American culture. But who wants to solve the crime and who wants to exploit it? Who is prepared to kill again to avoid being unmasked? As we learn more about each individual the list of possible suspects grows.

The plot was engaging and compelling from the beginning. I had to make a list of the many characters, but I soon remembered them. Descriptions of the harsh landscape and the lives of European settlers was palpable. 
A few commenters on Goodreads said they were disappointed with the ending, too many lose ends. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought the end was satisfactory I would have liked Elizabeth to have met her aunt and cousins, and I wanted the embryonic feelings between Mrs Ross and Parker to culminate in a brief liaison!



~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

3 May 2018

Buster's Diary

Hooray it's Spring again! 
We had a couple of weeks of glorious weather. SL was wearing short sleeved t-shirts,
 then it turned chilly and she was back in long sleeves and a gilet - I bet you're impressed that I know that word! and now it's glorious sunshine again.

Everywhere is turning green with new buds and shoots appearing. It's beautiful.


Bluebell wood is ... (yes you've guessed ) full of sweet scented blooms.


We met this lovely friendly, handsome girl/guy a few weeks ago when it was very cold, very wet

and very muddy

These teddy bears just appeared on top of the pallets, they have been soaked
by rain and buried under snow. I wonder how long they will be there. 
That huge bonfire has been there for years, the farmer just keeps adding to it.
It too has been rained on and buried in snow, it never goes out.
I think it has something to do with the core of it being so hot that it just keeps going.

I love this huge pile of manure, I spend ages sniffing around it.

WARNING AHEAD

don't look if you're squeamish.

Poor Rufus has injured himself again, 



he has cut one of his pads. He didn't do it on the morning walk, 
Polly thinks he did it in the garden, rushing out hoping to find a cat
We're a hardy lot, and confident that it will heal ok.

He's leaving little drops of blood all over the house, thank goodness we don't have carpets. 
He has got some on a rug though but it's an old one and going to be replaced this year.

He's happy sleeping in the sunshine


And here we are, before he hurt himself, full of the joys of spring. 
He will soon be back to running around again.

This coming weekend is a bank holiday one here in the UK, 
historically the weather is bad but the forecast for this one is good. 
Wherever you are I hope you have  a great weekend.


~Be warm and well ~
Buster
🐾

29 April 2018

Portmeirion

"I am not a number, I am a free man" said Patrick McGoohan as number 6 in the 1967 cult TV series "The Prisoner". The series followed a British former secret agent (McGoohan) who was abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village resort. The occupants of the village went about their daily business quite happily, in a slightly similar way to The Stepford Wives. No one had names, only numbers. McGoohan's captors were trying to extract information from him, he was trying to escape, and every time he did he was brought down by a huge white floating ball that just popped up. It was a bizarre series but very good, and became addictive.

It was filmed in the picturesque north Wales village of Portmeirion, a divine collection of pretty, quirky houses, beautiful gardens, a cafe, restaurant, shops, holiday cottages and a hotel.
I first visited over 15 years ago, this visit was in 2013.


Portmeirion was created by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. He had nurtured an idea of a small coastal village on some romantic clifftop site, perhaps on an island or a remote estuary. This idea stayed with him for about 20 years until in 1925 he found the Aber Iâ estate on the Dwyryd estuary near his home. It was more or less exactly what he had been hoping for, and it was for sale - he bought if for what is said to be around £5,000. 
The first thing he did was change the name. Aber Iâ can mean 'frozen river mouth' which isn't an ideal name for a holiday resort. The name Portmeirion comes from 'Port' to put it on the coast and 'Meirion' the correct spelling of Merioneth, the county in which is was located. Building took place in two stages, from 1925 to 1939, and, once post war building restrictions had been lifted, from 1954-76. 
Sir Clough's daughter, designer Susan Williams-Ellis founded Portmeirion Pottery in 1960. 

Portmeirion hotel.
It's highly unlikely that I will marry again, but if I did I would want to do it here. 
Surrounded by beautiful gardens and water gardens, coastal walks
and 70 acres of exotic woodlands, it's definitely worth a visit. 

We stayed in Betws-y-Coed
our B&B was lovely, the rooms were themed around flowers,
I was in the Bluebell room.

A few miles away was The Ugly House Tea Room.
Despite its name it's a lovely little place and serves delicious food.
The cottage is full of history, legend and mystery. It's not clear who built it or when. It's said to be a Tŷ Un Nos, a ‘one-night house’, a custom whereby if you could build a house overnight on common land, with smoke rising from the chimney by daybreak, it was yours to keep. The tearoom has a honeybee centre upstairs. It is surrounded by five acres of ancient woodland and wildlife garden tended by volunteers. The volunteers also run a project to rear a supply of queen bees to boost the population of healthy honeybees in the Conwy Valley and beyond.



I like trains so a trip on the Ffestiniog railway was a must.

The weather has turned cold again, and more rain. The lawn is looking lovely.

I'm currently binge watching "The Alienist" on Netflix. It's very good but I do think
the protagonist should spend less time theorising and more time detecting,
but then I guess there would be less atmospheric suspense. 

And, after much neglect I am back working on my dolls house


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x


22 April 2018

Weekend

Phew, I'm exhausted. 
Dinner finished, dishwasher going, 
sitting down at last. 
Catching up with "The Durrells", a TV drama based on Gerald Durrell's autobiographical books about his  family who moved from the UK to start a new life in Corfu, it's very good.

 It's been a busy weekend. Yesterday started with the morning walk with the dogs


Rape blooming

after breakfast I cleaned my car, had a bit of a sit down,
mowed and tidied the front garden, 
and in the evening I went to a quiz in the village hall, 
complete with a chilli con carne supper. 
Our team didn't win but we didn't come last. It was a good evening. 


Today I have walked the dogs, 
sorted out some rubbish for the tip, 
finished tidying the front garden, bit of a sit down, 
cleaned the side path, more sit down, 
then made tea.


And the weather has been glorious.

Hope you have had an enjoyable weekend and have a good week ahead.


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

perhaps I should change that to be cool now!

18 April 2018

Salmon Teriyaki


Salmon Teriyaki with noodles and stir fry veg.
One of my favourite dishes and very easy to prepare.


1 salmon fillet per person; about 5 tablespoons of light soy sauce; 1 clove of garlic, about 2.5 cm stem of ginger, 1 onion, pack of mixed veg, noodles, oil and any extra veg that needs using up. 
Hidden away at the back is a pack of mushrooms that had seen better days but I peeled off the outer skin and trimmed off the really bad bits and they were fine.


 Combine soy sauce, crushed garlic and grated ginger. 
Cut salmon into bite size chunks and put into the mixture.


If I'm using broccoli I par boil it first as it doesn't cook enough for my taste by stir frying. 



Use just enough oil to coat the frying pan, 
I put a small amount on a piece of kitchen paper and wipe it around the pan. 
Add the salmon and cook gently. 


Add the rest of the extra veg and stir fry for a minute or two
then add the packet of mix veg and cook to taste.

Cook the noodles.


Plate up and enjoy


bon appetit!


~Be warm and well ~
Polly x


14 April 2018

An OK Read

In The Kitchen by Monica Ali 
Gabriel Lightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern England mill town, making good in London as executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel. He is trying to run a tight kitchen but his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is constantly challenged by the demands of an exuberant multinational staff, an eagle-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning to open a restaurant of his own. 
Despite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to payoff, until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement. The tenuous balance of Gabe's life is seriously disturbed, aided in no small way by other complications in his life. His father is dying of cancer, his girlfriend wants more from their relationship, and the restaurant manager appears to be running an illegal business right under Gabe's nose. 
Enter Lena, an eerily attractive young woman with mysterious ties to the dead man. Under her spell, Gabe makes a decision, the consequences of which strip him naked and change the course of the life he knows - and the future he thought he wanted. 

I don’t like criticising authors and I think the book was beautifully written, but oh it was tedious. Reached page 189 and nothing significant had happened. Decided to keep going though just to see if anything did happen, it was ok. 
If Ali had written solely about Gabe’s predicament and created a murder mystery it would have been a much better read. It had all the ingredients; the kitchen of a large hotel; the staff and their idiosyncrasies; Gabe trying to keep his own business venture a secret whilst coping with the demands of his position, and the dead body. 
His relationship with his girlfriend, the childhood memories, the mill where his father worked and his father’s illness were interesting, and the descriptions of his mother’s bi-polar behaviour added some bleak humour, but there was just too much of it, and at times I lost interest to the point where I couldn’t remember what I had just read. It felt like it was going nowhere VERY slowly.





~Be warm and well ~
Polly x

4 April 2018

Hibernation

Hibernation: the condition or period of an animal or plant spending the winter in a dormant state. 

Whilst I have spent Jan, Feb and March hibernating indoors in the warmth I haven't been totally dormant, I have been making lap quilts. It all started here continued here and now I have these........


Twelve, and one that I gave to my friend who gave me the material 

It's hard to believe that this stash has produced so many quilts. I bought extra small amounts of contrasting material for some of them for borders to make up to the specified size of 36" x 36".


This started with the square block in the centre, and then building up with bits as I went along. 
I bought the white material on the left for filling in and the border. 
You can't see it in the photo but it has a pretty floral pattern on it.
There are three that I really like and my WI ladies agree that it would be ok for me to keep one. 
This one above is one of the three.

I bought the pink material for this border

it was fun to make and it didn't take very long,  everything just went together

There was even plenty left over for the binding.

I asked my friend if she would like one of the quilts as she gave me all the material. 
This is the one she chose. 
It started as a single long piece.
which I cut in half to make 2 pieces that I joined together using mostly the green border material and the other bits on the left of the picture. I forgot to take a picture of it finished. I think I put a bright yellow fleece on the back.


I thought I would try something different with these pieces.

diamond shapes. 
There weren't enough for the size I needed so I cut the edges from two sides 
and attached them to the other two sides. 
I also made a wide border.




The material in the top left of the picture is a bland green and white stripe 
but there was enough colour in the other squares to turn it into a pretty quilt. 
This is the second one I really like.



This is the third one I like
A friend gave me a huge amount of plain navy material which was invaluable for making this one. 
After watching various Youtube tutorials I wanted to try a stripey pattern.


 and these bits of material lent themselves perfectly, particularly as you need various lengths. 


I ordered a roll of this quilting paper which was 12" wide 
all I had to do was measure and cut to make 9 x 12" squares

I bought a quarter metre of the lovely turquoise material at the top.
The strips of material are sewn onto the quilting paper, 
it's just like baking paper or tracing paper but a bit stronger. 
It makes sewing the strips together much easier.

Notice the Flora tub, my bespoke scrap bin :-)
Once all the strips are sewn on turn over and cut off the excess.


tear the paper off, this paper comes away very easily
arrange the squares into a pattern or random. 

Yet another Youtube tutorial (isnt' it great, I couldn't have done any of this without it) 
talked about signing your work, so I set about making labels.

Courtesy of https://www.befunky.com
Cut a piece of material to shape of choice; waxed freezer paper; cut freezer paper slightly larger than material; iron material onto wax side of paper; write message on material; I printed my message using a nice font then used a book light to trace it onto the material because my hand writing isn't as nice. Peel off wax paper and sew on.


this was the first one I did for my daughter's quilt
for the WI ones I have put my name and my WI group

Nearly there, are you still awake? Sorry for the long post. I want to get it all done!

And finally the last and most difficult one

After making all those quilts I was still left with a fair amount of material
and some pieces that people had gifted along the way.
My plan was to do one large square starting with pale 
and working through the spectrum of the colours I had. 


I ironed it after adding each layer, after getting this far I noticed this - can you see that faint pink mark? Red colour had run from my ironing board cover!!! 
This has never happened in the 5 years I've had it. 
I tried washing it but it was set and I couldn't ignore it so the only thing I could do was to unpick it and replace it with a strip of the pale blue material.
I then carried on adding layer after layer until it was finished.

I wanted to use up my up stash of leftover pieces of fleece. My plan was to create a fan of rainbow colours and I hoped that arranging them on the diagonal would give me a bit more mileage. It was difficult and involved a lot of measuring, placing in position, fitting onto the quilt, re-placing, re-measuring, re-fitting and a huge small amount of expletives.


Because there were so many seams it was quite bulky when I put fleece and quilt together. 


In my stash was a piece of wadding that was just the right size. 
The fleece wasn't 100% the right size, one corner is a bit of a mess but it will have to do.
I will never do a fleece backing like this again, NEVER.

All I have to do now is decide which one to keep before 
we hand them over to the Project Linus co-ordinator.

Thank you for reading/speeding/skipping through or just looking at the pictures :-)

The garden and decorating the dining room are my next two projects! 

Meanwhile it's time to get ready for my WI meeting

PS I'm going to make a quilt for my daughter in Australia, 
she's very specific about what she wants - a red geometric pattern
it might take a while to find the right material.


~Be warm and well ~

Polly x

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