Monday, 26 October 2009

Wearing Purple

Last Saturday we were going out to dinner so I did not have any cooking to do and spent the afternoon machining this little lady. We have been invited to a 'red hat' party for a friend's 70th birthday in November and this is to be a surprise for her. I am pretty certain she does not read my blogs! This is how she finished up - she reminds me of someone! I really wanted a vibrant purple for the suit but couldn't seem to get it mixing the colours I have! But it is roughly purple. She is about 10 " tall. I have yet to buy something purple to wear at this party (I am not really a mauve person) - but I believe it is the 'in' colour so it shouldn't be too difficult. I shall make a red hat and probably look ridiculous - but that is what it is all about.
Meanwhile, this is the noxious brew - or Lockshun as George calls it. It is bubbling away nicely
but it is right up against the big bookcase in the conservatory so I do hope that nothing explodes. George keeps on going in and bending over it and chuckling and the other George keeps popping over to inspect it - it is much loved!
I am much happier with my damson vodka in the kitchen which I keep shaking and sniffing, I think there is a much better chance of me drinking that than the above. That reminds me of Danny Kaye (with whom I appeared once as a very young girl - but that is another story) -
'the vessel with the pestle is the chalice from the palace - but the flagon with the dragon is the brew that is true'

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

On Sunday the members of MESCH (that is, Marian Murphy, Liz Evans, Margaret Starr, Vanda Campbell and I) went to Art Van Go to set up our first exhibition under the new name. Viv and Kevin were on hand to keep us supplied with coffee and biscuits - they kindly gave up their Sunday to be there for us! Although it is largely retrospective, there is some new work and we do hope that people will enjoy it
This is the delightful poster which Marian has devised to publicise the exhibition, which runs until 21st November.

AND GUESS WHAT? I have won a prize! I am so excited - a hundred pounds to be spent at Art Van Go (not at all difficult in that Aladdin's cave of delights) and a certificate! This is a rather startled me receiving the certificate from the lovely Ann at AvG who was the Judge at the New Maynard Gallery 7th Open Exhibition.

No, it is not what you are thinking - there was no bribery or corruption involved as the pieces of work were submitted anonymously and everyone at AvG was really surprised when it turned out to be me wot won it!
This is my sistificate, which of course I shall have framed and hang in a prominent place (Hmm - don't know what George will have to say about that!) The piece of work was a shoe made entirely of machine embroidery - hours of work and three reels of thread - and beautifully box framed by Simon Robinson & Co. of Haslingfield. I haven't been so thrilled since I won first prize for my home made chutney at the village fete ten years ago!
Meantime, the evil brew has started bubbling, George keeps inspecting it anxiously. It is in my conservatory where it will be a great nuisance on Thursday when my embroidery class meets!
Off now to a village meeting to discuss the installation of double yellow lines down my street - having lost two beloved cats to the traffic I am all in favour! My Book Group met this afternoon
(discussing House of Mirth by Edith Wharton) all I have done today is change the bed, my poor house!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Dordogne and the Grapes

We have been on holiday - staying with my brother in the Dordogne. In 52 years it is only the third time we have spent more than a day in his company so it was a very special week for me. My brother has lived in Europe all his working life, he has a farm on Exmoor and a villa in Sotogrande (neither of which I have visited) but is only allowed to spend so many days a year in the UK for tax reasons. On his way back to Spain he and his wife have rented a big house in Villefrance du Perigord for six weeks , and he suggested we should fly out to Bergerac and join them.
The house was beautifully furnished with antiques and everything was of the very highest quality - it transpired that it belongs to a Member of Parliament who has never rented the house out before - do you think he needs the money now?! There was an elegant salon furnished with the sort of chairs you perch on, but also a television snug where we were able to watch the British news each day. There was a huge terrace overlooking the valley where we ate in the sunshine, my sister in law is a very good cook so I put on several pounds. We packed a lot into the week visiting so many Bastide towns and villages, markets and vineyards, everywhere was so lush and pretty and CLEAN AND TIDY, no wonder the Brits want to live there. But, oh, expensive! Just as well Mr. Ryanair restricted our luggage so severely - we knew we couldn't buy anything. However, I did treat myself to a lucious tasselled tablecloth with matching napkins in a pink check with a lime green insert - very chic. I thought if the luggage went overweight I would wear the cloth like a shawl! My sister-in-law had it in red so I know it is in good taste!
When we got back home after a week of unbroken blue skies and sunshine we found it so cold and the pump on the boiler would not work. We are awaiting the arrival on Monday of a 'proper man' to fix it, in the meantime, a log fire and an extra cardigan. Whilst we were away our lovely neighbours picked our grapes as a frost was threatened - and today was the day of the Crushing. George is Greek Cypriot and a physicist so he is in charge of method and technology, my George was second in command, Brenda and I were the assistants. Brenda had purchased two big plastic tubs which were both full of grapes - what a bumper harvest - and George I dug out the demijohns we had used in our wine making days forty years ago. It was a freezing cold day and we women both refused to take our shoes and socks off to tread the grapes so George II did it on his own, although he did confess it was very cold and uncomfortable to begin with he soon got into a rythm, helped no doubt by Brenda and I singing the theme tune from Zorba the Greek We used an old net curtain of my mother's to strain the juice which, I have to say, looked most unappetising. Most of the time we were helpless with laughter, goodness knows what state we shall be in if any alcohol actually results. Lots of suggestions were made for the name of this grande cru, most of which I would not dream of sharing with you.

The juice has been left overnight and tomorrow some sugar will be added and it goes into the demijohns. All the disgusting mush (with a good few squashed earwigs and other insects I might add) is going to ferment and be distilled. Excise men, turn a blind eye. Do not fret - I have a feeling it might all be binned before long, or am I being unduly pessimistic? Perhaps if it had been a bright sunny day and I had got my own toes round the grapes I would be feeling more optimistic.
We may have a bit of an argument over the naming of the Domaine, after all they are OUR grapes but George II pointed out that they were HIS feet that did the treading. It may have to be double barrelled. I see many hours of discussion over a glass or two (from Waitrose)
Incidentally, the photo at the top is NOT Villefranche - I dropped my camera one day and it seems I have knocked all my photos off the memory stick! Is that possible? Where have they gone? I took the grape photos successfully today, but some 150 pictures of my lovely week with baby brother have gone into the ether. I am so upset about it, but it was a marble floor and it did go with a big bang. Even clever George next door couldn 't find them. C'est un mystere !

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sour Grapes

The two Georges have devised a scheme to make wine from our grapes! Young George, who is a Greek Cypriot doctor of Physics, is obviously designated as the vineculture specialist and is seen here this morning testing the grapes in a very professional manner. Brenda and I were laughing our socks off - we called him the man from Del Monte. He say grapes no ready yet. However, we had a very pleasant hour sitting in the garden with a cup of coffee whilst the two men made plans and my George went to the garage and dug out four old jars from our wine making days forty odd years ago. Now I think it is just easier to buy it from the wine merchant. . However, it is going to keep them occupied and boys will be boys so I had to go and find an old net curtain which is somehow going

to be used in the manufacture of this Grand Cru. Next Saturday has been designated as treading the grapes day, Brenda has been deputed to buy a large pink plastic garden tub to put the grapes in. They were making wild plans for a still which thankfully I know will never come to pass - firstly where would we put it and secondly I am sure it is illegal! Watch this space.

I have had an email from William who tells me that he has joined the University Brass Band (he plays the euphonium - there cannot be too many of those around!) and the Canoe Club. He has had his first week of lectures and so far has only found himself in the wrong lecture room once!

Meanwhile I have done some stitching! This is 'an Elizabethan fragment' The cuff, on the bottom left hand corner, I made about three weeks ago on disolvable fabric, lots of stitching involved, I soaked it and put it out to dry. The following morning it had DISAPPEARED. Of course, George had not seen it, had not touched it, hadn't noticed it I must have destroyed it or thrown it away myself! ? I searched in vain, so in the end I had to re-do it although I had used up all the matching bits of stuff - however, I think it fits in fairly well.

We had our Harvest Supper on Friday evening and very pleasant it was too. There must have been nearly 80 of us in the village hall and the food was all made by the ladies of the church. Someone very kindly brought me a big bag of green tomatoes 'as I know you like making chutney!' So guess what I have been doing this evening? Yes, that is right, and I don't want to see any more jamjars until next year.