Saturday, 31 August 2013

Photo Scavenger Hunt: August

It's that time of the month already when I'm joining in with Greenthumb of Made with Love for her monthly Scavenger Hunt. I was right down to the wire with this one and only took the photo for '10' today when I went into town to meet a friend for coffee.

Brown : Gorgeous puppy. Don't you just want to reach down to stroke her?

Ten : What a bargain!

Windows : The Art Deco Plaza building in Stockport.

Petrol station : Waiting for a toy car to come along to fill up.

Boats : Morecambe Bay.

Framed : A cross stitch which has been on this frame for several years waiting to be finished. Hmm, what did I say about not being a completer-finisher!

Chopsticks : To eat this pork, carrot and courgette stir fry.

Transport : Old-fashioned bicycle at Tatton Park.

Playing : A little girl temporarily distracted from making sandcastles by a fallen kite.

Fantasy : One of my daughter's many dragons.

Sharp : The needle of a gramophone.

Postcard : Sent to me from locations far and wide.


Bonus photo in case you were wondering what the very very cute pup looked like.

We've been back from a lovely stay with our friends down south for a couple of days and have been busy busy! Tomorrow I'm off to the quilt show at Harrogate and then it's back to work :(

In between I'll try to find time to catch up with your blogs and hopefully draft a few posts of my own! Hope you're enjoying your weekend. xx

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Galaxy cushion

A few months ago I bought this Rico Galaxy Chunky yarn, seduced by the colours and sequins.

The pattern I had in mind was a cable cushion which I'd seen as a free pattern (the pdf can be accessed here). It's a while since I'd done any cabling but I soon got back in the swing and enjoyed the simple rhythm. I'm also making a scarf at the moment and finding it much more challenging as it's got a lot of different stitches and you really have to concentrate and count as you're going along. Thankfully, this was a lot less stressful!


I actually finished the knitting part a few weeks ago but it's taken me ages to get around to sewing it together. I always used to consider myself a completer-finisher but, sadly, I was clearly delusional. I really like the making part but get bored by the finishing off. In this case I also think it was partly down to disappointment with the way the colours came out. I thought the yarn would knit up much brighter and more colourful but in reality it's rather a muddy colour. Still, it does look at home with all of our other cushions on the couch and that's really all that matters.

We're off on our jollies again today just for a couple of days to stay with some friends. Before we go though we'll be eating these yummy blueberry pancakes from a Jamie Oliver recipe which you can find here. Unlike the usual batter mix, you separate the eggs and add the whisked whites at the end - it makes the pancakes really light and fluffy. My tummy is rumbling already! See you in a few days! xx

Friday, 23 August 2013

Chadkirk Well-Dressing Festival

On 28 July we visited the 17th annual well-dressing festival at Chadkirk Chapel and Country Estate. I've never attended one of these before or seen a dressed well but I love anything to do with old traditions so off to Chadkirk we went.

Well dressing was also once known as well flowering and you can see why: all of the pictures are created from petals, leaves, bark, feathers and other natural objects. It is particularly associated with Derbyshire and Staffordshire but has now been adopted in other areas, like at this one in Cheshire.

The chapel itself dates from the 16th century though, as with most buildings, it has been renovated and parts rebuilt over the years.

The new East Window was unveiled as part of the celebrations. The central motif is based on the design of an Anglo-Saxon preaching cross: I thought its simplicity suited the building perfectly. Did you notice that the window was also used in the design of the well dressing?

I also admired the crucifix and candlesticks designed by Ben Coode-Adams. The crucifix is based on an illuminated manuscript in the Durham gospels of AD732 and the candlesticks represent the two soldiers who stood by the cross.

He also designed the wooden panels at the other end of the chapel. This one shows the consecration of St Chad as Bishop of York.

Before we left the chapel we enjoyed a performance of bell-ringing.

Outside in the walled garden there were lots of lovely stalls to tempt us.

I was particularly taken with the lovely stained glass creations of Sarah Brelsford and this bird and heart decoration just had to come home with us.

Out on the lawn, it was time for the morris dancers to entertain us. You might notice the man in the background wearing a very fetching plastic poncho. We were also wearing one by this point as protection against the very heavy showers which rushed over between the hot sunshine for most of the day.

Later there was a birds of prey demonstration. I think this beauty is a merlin.

At the demonstrator's stand afterwards, Chickpea couldn't stop smiling when she was allowed to hold the little owl.

We found a bird of a different kind at the edge of the wood.

And this little mouse was carved into the trunk below the woodpecker.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Festival - it was one of those sweet, old-fashioned and very English village fete-type events and we easily spent a few hours there wandering around the stalls, watching the performances and soaking up the atmosphere. There are also woodland and canal walks too which we didn't have time to explore on our visit - another time maybe. x


I can't believe a week of my hols has gone by already. So far there's been a mixture of reading, gardening, foraging, jam-making, fabric cutting and days out - no wonder the time has flown! I'll be telling you all about it at some point though I still have a couple of other things to tell you about first.

Thank you all for visiting and your lovely comments - they really do make my day :)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Crochet, cowboys and gnomes

Well, I've finally finished a crochet project at last! I had one of those 3-for-£5 trials to Simply Crochet magazine and saw a pattern in issue 4 for a lacy neckerchief. It appealed because, although I hadn't done lacy crochet before, the pattern seemed fairly simple and only used chain stitch and trebles. It turned out to be a good choice: I really enjoyed it and soon got into the swing of the pattern. Even better, it was fairly quick to do!

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace (shade 021, White) which was lovely to work with. I only bought one ball and there's still about half of it left so it would be a good project for trying out a more expensive yarn.  The strangest part was getting used to a very fine hook (size 2.75) which felt tiny after 'normal' hooks. However, when I then switched back to a bigger hook to make the Yarndale bunting, it felt really big and clumsy!

This was also the first time I've ever tried blocking my crochet - shocking I know. However, I'm now completely sold on the effects and, if you look at the before and after pics above, you can see why.

But what does it look like when it's being worn? Well, in Chickpea's words...


I guess it does have something of the cowboy about it :) Before I saddle up and head on down to the saloon for a glass of sasparilly*, I wanted to show you something I picked up in a charity shop this week.

Isn't it cute? When I saw it I thought it might be a great gift for a friend of mine who likes gnomes, fairies, elves etc. The trouble is I've fallen in love with it myself now so it might be staying!

I'm on holiday at the moment for two whole weeks - yippee and hurrah! Today I've been busy gardening and cooking which I'll tell you about at some point. Next though, I still have an outing from July to share with you. Back in a day or two. x

* The drink of choice of one of my all-time favourite characters in one of my all-time favourite films, Calamity Jane. Oh, the Deadwood stage is comin' right over the hill...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Nature ramble

After the walk along the canal, I had a craving to be out in the fresh air and nature again so I headed to the path along the golf course. The whole path is probably less than half a mile long but is turning out to be one of my favourite places to walk as I always spot so many interesting things. This time was no exception.

The path was a lot more overgrown than the last time I visited...

...with lots of tall grasses and flowers lining each side. I crouched down to take this shot though, just in case you were thinking these willowherb had grown to triffid proportions!

One of these days I'm going to be able to tell the difference between all of these white umbrella-shaped plants. I need to learn to take photos of the leaves too to make it easier to narrow down the options in my wild flower guide. In the meantime I'll just continue to admire them.

Just as I admired the honeysuckle emerging from a patch of nettles and brambles.

On the other side of the path were some wild raspberries. Actually they might not be wild but garden escapees.

There were lots of butterflies fluttering around which kept me entertained for ages trying to get photos of them. This Gatekeeper (or Hedge Brown) finally obliged and settled on some Common Ragwort.

That wasn't the only creature I found on the ragwort though. Most of the clumps were covered in bright yellow and black caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth. What amazes me is that, despite the caterpillar being this colour, the moth they transform into is red!

At some points the path was hardly visible as the ferns and grasses crowded together.

When it finally opened out there were more plants to admire. I can recognise dock leaves and have used them on many occasions when I was younger to dull the sting of nettles but I don't think I ever knew that they flowered.

This yellow plant was a new one on me though: it's Tall Melilot.

At this point I left the path and headed up into a wilder area surrounded by trees and small shrubs. This is where I watched the baby birds and it's proved to be a good place to find other wildlife and flowers. 

Here I came across some Common Fleabane - which seems a horrible name for such a pretty plant. 

I found a clear space to stand and patiently and quietly waited.

Eventually, I was rewarded with a Small Copper.

And, not long after, with a Small Skipper. I also spotted a Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell but they were just too quick for me.

What had been missing up to this point were birds. There had been barely a tweet but while I waited I gradually became aware of more birdsong, getting louder and louder.

The next moment a flock of long-tailed tits came by and, amongst them, a few blue tits and great tits. Then I spotted chaffinches and a white throat. The only bird I managed to catch on film, however, was this willow warbler. I wonder if it's the same one I saw feeding her fledglings?

Just as quickly as they all came, the birds moved on and that seemed the perfect cue for me to do the same. My favourite little patch didn't disappoint again - I'll be back!