Sunday, 30 August 2009

The start of Autumn?

I can hardly believe it but, yes, here we are on 30th August with a FIRE! How cosy. I love it, the smell of woodsmoke is just delicious.
We have just come back from the second fabulous party in two days - yesterday in the next village, a drinks party with gorgeous nibbles and today at a friend's 80th birthday celebration, another lovely occasion with lots of our best village friends and other people to meet as well. The same caterers did the food for both occasions, only more of it today as it was a lunch party. The weather was kind until about 4.30 when we were walking home and it started to spit with rain. We must have looked odd walking down the High Street in our party finery (George looking particularly dashing in his Henley blazer and a battered sun hat) clutching bottles of beer! Not as bad as it sounds - they had had special labels printed for the birthday boy and we brought a couple of bottles away as souvenirs.

When we got home I must confess we had a little nap - yes I know, sewing to be done but it is hard to concentrate after a glass of wine or eight, and then I felt chilly so George lit the fire for me. Sign of things to come as we go into September next week.

We had some friends in for drinks during the week and we had ....

QUAILS EGGS - one of my favourites, with rock salt and pepper to dip them in - scrummy. They looked so pretty I had to take a photograph - they are pesky little things to peel, though.I just wanted to photograph the fire as I don't think we have ever done that on August Bank Holiday Sunday before, and now I am going to go and sit and enjoy it with a glass of Campari. I rather think I have gone over my limit this weekend!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Domestic Goddess

I am on a roll here, but I promise I will not blog again until Monday! Where does the day go? This morning we took the curtains down and cleared the bay window ready for the man to come and fit the new blind. He still has not arrived! I have left several messages on his mobile phone - bother him. Stuff all over the coffee table and furniture pushed into the middle of the room!
Then I went shopping and whilst I was gone George helpfully peeled a HUGE bag of apples for me so after lunch I was duty bound to make CHUTNEY. I have just finished that task, another day with no sewing done, no housework done and I still haven't typed up the Almshouse Minutes Perhaps, you might say, I could be doing just that instead of typing this!!! Quite right, but not so much fun...
. This evening we are going to play cards with some friends We do it about once a month, with two other couples and we just have a simple meal first - I've been told tonight it is bangers and mash. George will love that, but I am not at all keen! The whole of the weekend is taken up with entertaining and visiting and church, I am exhausted at the thought - bring on Monday.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

'A' level results

Terrific news at 8.30 this morning - grandson William got three straight A's in Physics, Maths and Economics - we are so delighted and proud of him! So he will be going off to Birmingham to do a four year Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Now I just wonder where he gets all those brains from? I have to confess he only got a B in Geography which he was a bit upset about but I told him 'Who needs Geography? You can get around with a sat- nav!' Poor Jeremy still suffering with his arms, the wounds are infected and they have to take the scabs off every time they form - Ugh! Good job mother is an ex nurse.

And just look at my beautiful blackberries!
This is what we laughingly call the 'upper lawn' because it sounds very grand - or sometimes the 'orchard' because there are two apple trees and the fig tree there! The blackberry
is thornless so it doesn't attack you as you go through and there is a clematis climbing over it which was in bloom earlier in the year. I like the way the arch frames the thatched cottage behind us in Rose Lane. I tried growing roses over the arch but they just would not flourish.

When I was looking at the blackberries (and eating a few, I must admit) I saw something which I had never seen before in all my many years . A mummy and baby ladybird! The baby is SO tiny, I tried to take a photo of them but they were both moving so fast - can you see the little one? It was really cute. They were snuggled up together when I saw them and I felt quite guilty

disturbing them! Off to roll the pastry out now for the Rotary Wives' quiche.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A day trip to France

We had a really super day on Monday - we went to Calais for dinner with DD2 and her Dutch husband Pim! Well, we did quite a bit more as well but the main object of the exercise was to have a lovely meal in a really nice restaurant we know - hardly any Englishmen there! We do this three or four times a year and over the years the places we have got to know and enjoy have been 'discovered' and then written up in the Telegraph and before you know where you are you could be eating in Cambridge. So I am not going to mention the name unless someone specifically asks me. So there.

We did some wine shopping, then bought some groceries, then we had a picnic of French bread and brie then Sarah and I did some serious clothes shopping whilst the two men sat and, well, I have no idea what they talk about but we leave them to their own devices for about three hours! Then our delicious fishy dinner - this is the cheeseboard. Whilst we were eating a man came in with a dog - he was shown to a table near us and the waiter immediately brought a stainless steel bowl of water for the dog! No Health and Safety rules in France, oh no. It was a very well behaved dog, we hardly knew it was there. As we sat and looked over the wide expanse of sand and the pretty beach huts, the sun slowly set in spectacular style - what a lovely day.

Today was the AGM of our U3A - and as the leader of both the Creative Textile Group and the Craft Group I had to be there manning the exhibition table. It was so hot! but the talk by stamp designer Ian Loe was very interesting. Delightfully detailed paintings of wild life from all over the world used on stamps, what an interesting man.

The Craft Group had been making boxes - this is mine, covered in a pretty Japanese cotton with a knob made out of two links from an old belt - I thought it worked quite well. The box is lined with a glorious pink raw silk - I don't know what I shall put in it but I am certain to think of something!
Tomorrow is a free day - hurrah - except for the AGM of the Rotary Wives Group in the evening, for which I have got to make a quiche, so I do hope that the weather isn't too, too hot.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Night time visitor

I have been doing some more work on the Indian ladies - the tricky bit now is to get them sewn on to the background. I am quite pleased with the way it is going so far and I do hope that my prospective purchaser will still like it when it is finished! I really want to get them finished as we (MESCH) have an exhibition coming up at Art Van Go in Knebworth and I would like to get some more work done for that. MESCH is the new group formed by the five artists who left Small CHAT last year - Marian Murphy, Liz Evans, Margaret Starr, Vanda Campbell and me - the H at the end.

When I went to bed last night I turned down the bedspread and went to have my bath. When I came back into the bedroom there was the biggest, blackest spider you can imagine on the bed!!! I know that if you wish to live and thrive you let a spider run alive, and I would never kill one, but this was a bit beyond me so I had to call for George. Now HE normally picks them up in his hand and puts them outside, but this one he approached with a glass and an envelope!
Of course, I spent most of the night imagining him (the spider, not George) trying to get back into the house and back into my bed. What is more, I bet he has a wife and six children behind the headboard.
On the bright side, I picked three big ripe figs off the tree today plus a load of beans, apples and tomatoes. The pears are still very hard and the greengages have been overcome by wasps. Now I am a good (well, trying to be) Christian but I am sure that wasps are proof positive that God is a man. No woman would have created wasps, ants, slugs, snails, snakes or woodlice. Furthermore, a female God would have made sure it only rained at night thereby ensuring that washing got dry during the day and garden parties did not get spoiled. Ergo, God is a man - I am happy with that.
But I am not happy with this spider lurking about!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Summer vegetables

Who is a clever girl then! Picked in my garden today - in fact, we picked a bucket load of greengages (more correctly, George picked them because I am allergic to wasps!) Forgot to put some of my tomatoes in. No sewing done - I had to make cakes this morning because the Book Club met at my house and home made cakes seem to be the requirement! Sorry, Gina, I didn't take a photo before the big cake was cut into and it looks very sorry now, but it was a lemon & ground almond sponge with marscapone & apricot filling and was delicious. The scones were a bit hard, I find them temperamental. Any tips?

We discussed Engleby by Sebastian Faulks - we gave it 8/10 - it was a very dark book but quite compelling and I liked the fact that it was mostly set in Cambridge. We sat out in the garden under two big umbrellas, it was perfect.

Now I am going out to lie on the table in the garden and watch the shooting stars!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Indian summer - a little early

Ugh - it has been so hot and sticky today, I think we should have a storm. I had a glorious massage this morning and smell deliciously of rose oil! What decadence! The trouble was, it made me feel very lethargic so I had a little doze after lunch - well, that is one of the benefits of being retired.

Then I decided I had better get cracking. On the first morning of Open Studios, a lovely Dutch lady walked in and fell in love with a big piece of W.I.P which I had put up at the last moment to hide the back of my sitting room curtains. It was very rough, all pins and loose bits of cloth but she wants it, bless her. So for the last week I have been working on it, I am anxious to get it finished especially with my Bernina repair bill hanging over me.

Today I have been working on the water pots, the background (below) is more or less done but the pots are very fiddly. I have made a lovely mess but my dear husband is very tolerant (he has just brought my Campari in to the computer so he is a real poppet) So I suppose I had better go and cook him a meal - my favouritest dish in the whole wide world - chicken risotto! Do you think I can serve runner beans with it instead of salad? I am over- run with them.

DD1 is on her way beck to Market Drayton with her family plus cat and dog and wounded Jeremy - next big milestone is William's A level results. DD2 has just phoned to suggest we have a day out in France to stock up on various necessities so I shall really look forward to that - she is a serious shopper, just like me! The only trouble is she is so slim and looks marvellous in everything she tries on and I still think I am 35 and want to wear the same things, but I can't!

Off to be a domestic goddess.

Eventually the ladies will be put on here - watch this space.

Monday, 3 August 2009

I cannot let that Gina think she is the only Domestic Goddess in the area - I, too, slaved over a hot stove yesterday and made some Plum Chutney which is going to be delumptious with cheese or anything else, really. George loves chutney, especially home made. The other picture is a collage which I called Aubade and which I have just sold following on Open Studios. It was one of a set of six musical pieces, all gone now except the last one Nocturne, with a violin stitched on Romeo. I just had the presence of mind to take a photograph of this before it went. I must learn how to edit the pictures! All this technology, I could do with young Jeremy here.
But Jeremy rang this evening from their holiday home in Northumberland to say that he came off his bike yesterday and finished up in hospital with stitches in both arms, badly grazed legs and lots of bruises. Both arms are in bandages although nothing is broken. He is feeling very sorry for himself! Fortunately he was out for a bike ride with elder brother William who is 18. William immediately rang for mother who used to be a nurse, so I daresay she was very calm and competent. Isn't it funny to think that last night we were having supper with DD2 in Shelford whilst DD1 was in A&E with Jeremy and I did not have any inkling that anything was wrong. Is my antenna losing it's touch?
My beloved Bernina is coming back on Thursday, it had to have a new circuit board - £192 !!! Ouch. Mr. Woods said the damage could have been caused by me using the wrong bobbin - so BEWARE! Only use bobbins with 7 holes, not 9, or it could be an expensive mistake. Good job I sold Aubade but what a shame the person did not buy the pair!
I have just finished Sebastian Faulks 'Engleby' ready for discussion at the Book Club next week - what a strange story! I enjoyed the fact that it was set in Cambridge but not much else, a dark tale and quite sad.
Well, more rain tomorrow we are told. Heigh ho.