Thursday, 23 December 2010

Twas the night before the night before Christmas...

I spent the morning doing church flowers with the faithful band of flower arrangers.   I did this arrangement by the altar

and then I did a little one by the south door....

And another one by the organ.   We are very fortunate that our lovely vicar lets us do the flowers the day before Christmas Eve - in the past it has always been such a rush with visitors arriving, cooking to do and the live crib service at 3 o'clock to prepare for (people start arriving at two to get a good seat!)  The church looks lovely, with all the windowsills and the font decorated.
And doesn't my Christmas tree look nice?  It is absolutely jam packed with old friends which are unpacked year after year.  And the lovely plumber has been to fix the radiators in the dining room and MY bathroom (I told George the only thing I wanted for Christmas was my radiator fixed.  I have to tell you that the sectret of a happy marriage is his and her bathrooms!)   There is a Mary Berry Mincemeat cake in the oven - never done it before but it sounded quick and easy and will fill a few gaps when the boys arrive.

I should be looking forward to Christmas, it is  a  lovely time of the year but this year I am so apprehensive.  And on top of everything else, junior daughter, who won't be with us on Christmas Day, has just announced that  on Boxing Day she wants to go to Heathrow to see a friend who is on a seven hour stop over from Chicago to Australia! Imagine anyone wanting to go and spend several hours in Heathrow  instead of being in the bosom of the family.......!   Ah well.    Tonight I have to go out and deliver the last of the presents to the ladies in the Almshouses - I have made a phone call to make sure she will be in.     Every single year I never manage to get them all in - I usually have to  make  several journeys!   I woke up at 4 this morning remembering that I had left one of the gifts - a large poinsettia - in the car all night but fortunately it didn't get spoilt by the frost. 
And tomorrow - Christmas Eve!   The crib service in the afternoon and Midnight Mass both of which George organises and both of which will be packed. 
 Let the magic of Christmas come in.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Deep and Crisp and Even...

This is how it started - just a light layer of snow.  And then we got this...
Of course it looks beautiful when it is unsullied - like many people I've taken dozens of photographs but gradually the pristine layer is being destroyed as we come and go.  I went to the shop this morning and the pavement is lumpy with impacted snow/ice - walking  is so dangerous!  I have just had an email from a Swedish friend who told me it started snowing there in October and has snowed pretty much every day since!
I have been training this Berberis into the shape of a Christmas tree for a number of years now - and this year it really does look like one!  Well, it could be a sharper shape but George wouldn't cut the berried boughs off because the blackbird likes them!  And he has been busy eating the berries (the blackbird, not George)- the window is  our dining room and as we sat having lunch today we could hear him busily rustling around and see the snow falling off the branches.  He also enjoyed the crusts from the smoked salmon canapes -

 I am really pleased with this photograph - it is taken through my lovely new glass kitchen door - not bad, is it?  Guess what we call him?  Yup, that's right , Blackie.   We had our Christmas party last night after the Carol Service - 45 people (should have been 50 but some out-of-villagers couldn't make it) came back for drinks.  We have been doing this  for some 40 odd years and  it has become a bit of a tradition with our friends - they just  assume that we are going to do it!  Now it is getting harder - clearing the furniture  to make room for everyone is quite a struggle.  And we have been all day today putting everything back. 
It looks cosy, doesn't it?  This was taken after the first light layer of snow.
Oh dear, I wonder are we going to get any more?  The vicar has just called to ask George if he has got enough shepherds for the Crib Service on Christmas Eve - will Noah the donkey be able to get down here from 'up in the hills' above Royston?   The live donkey is the star of the show so fingers crossed.  I am going to go and cosy up round the fire now and just DO NOTHING.

Monday, 13 December 2010

End of the year.....

This is  Margaret Starr's stand  at the Scotsdale Garden Centre Craft Show near Cambridge.    It is held in the David Rayner Cancer Centre, a great venue for a craft show, warm and comfortable for the stall holders and easy access and parking for visitors.  I popped over on Saturday (normally open the last weekend in each month, but every weekend in December) to see how Margaret was getting on.  Her delightful bags were being much admired - and bought, as well.  Well done, Margaret, and your initialled books are terrific and make a wonderful gift.

The garden centre was heaving with folk buying their Christmas trees - I do hope they all spare a few minutes to go and look at the  high quality craft on offer.  We've got a MESCH meeting this week and I have to confess that I haven't done much!
It was a busy week - keeping my mind off family troubles -  a NADFAS lecture on Mozart at Churchill College followed by our U3A Book Group Christmas tea party at the Garden House Hotel.  Well, they don't call it that now, but to us oldies that is what it will always be called.  Beautifully situated on the banks of the Cam with punts gliding by, it is quite special.  As was our tea, with dainty sandwiches, scones and  lots of fancy cakes.  And endless cups of tea whilst we discussed the book of the month - The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. 
This year we altered our format, reading three thrillers, three romances, three comedies and three historical  books comparing the variety within the genres.  But I don't think we shall do that again, we are reverting to our old ways.  Anyway, everyone loved the Guernsey etc book and it was voted the best read of the year - but not by me!  I have just read Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope for discussion by another group and enjoyed that and now I am reading Behind the Scenes at the Museum  by Kate Atkinson.  I thought it very odd at first but as I got into it it has completely gripped me and I can hardly put it down.
I am fascinated by my fingernails at the moment!  They are daringly painted with Chanel's Diabolical varnish which, as you may imagine, is practically black.  I feel very adventurous and every time I look at my hands I get a surprise!  Such fun.   I may even go green.......

Sunday, 5 December 2010

DO IT WITH STYLE !!! I think not.

I wrote on the 5th October of coming back from France to find a leak in our conservatory.  It had been leaking for some time and the man from STYLE came out to look at it - we thought it was a problem with the internal hidden gutter, but after the big leak it was eventually confirmed that it was a problem with the roof.  Now isn't it peculiar that whilst the conservatory is under guarantee for ten years, the roofwork is only under guarantee for two years!  So Style are not responsible.  Just a minute, the roofers were  their subcontractors , not ours!  

It has proved very difficult to get  through to someone who could deal with us.There have been many telephone calls and many absences from the office for 'visiting a sick mother' and the person who is dealing with our case 'is on holiday' and instances where our calls were not answered from our home number but were answered when I used a mobile phone.   Eventually in desperation, and with Christmas looming, we got a man to come and do some work on the roof last week  - but Style will not replace the internal cladding until we are sure that the leak is mended.  So bizarrely we have been praying for rain - and what did we get?  Snow.  But yesterday it rained and yes, it is still leaking.    So more work to be done.   OK, I know I haven't turned the picture but you get the idea!
You can see the proximity of the big bookcase and imagine how the water crept up the paper and of course all the big, expensive art books were on the bottom row and some have had to be slung. 
So you can imagine with what delight we had a leaflet through the door with the local paper yesterday -

I must confess that I did say something unprintable and handed it to George.  He said something even more unprintable but hey, what is this he has spotted?  Can it be?  YES, it is.   US, our very own conservatory -

No possible mistake, it IS us.  There are the balloons we had for a party!   Whaahey!   Now if only I had known that they were going to use us for their advertising I would have asked them to put in a little note to say we would just LOVE people to come round and have a look.   Now is a good time.  We could show them the big watermark on the  antique rug

 some of the ruined   Art Books, all the past editions of the Melbourn Magazine which were waterlogged and must be thrown away, the buckets - we would have so much to talk about to any prospective |STYLE customer !

I will be the first to let you know when/if   STYLE   come good and who knows, they just may foot the bill for the roof work.  They may pay for the rug to be cleaned in the hope that the watermark disappears. (I have to say, they have been very good in the past about fixing doors etc) They may even apologise for all the ruined books.  I just have a feeling that none of this will happen before our Christmas party when  fifty people will be wanting to spill into the conservatory!  

But with all the angst we have been going through just recently, you will understand that  receiving that leaflet was the last straw.  I LOVE my conservatory (or should I say LOVED).  With a sittingroom panelled in wood, to go into the light & sunny room was a joy.  We had lunch there most days.  I used it for my Open Studio weekends.  I want it back.

Honestly, if you didn't laugh you would cry.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Keep calm and carry on

I haven't written for ages because, quite frankly, things have been so b-----  miserable that I would just have moaned and been a misery.     Families !!!  You never stop worrying about them.   On top of that, I went for my flu jab and nurse sent  me off to see the doctor because I have high blood pressure.  Not surprising.

Anyway, like the curate's egg, life  has been good in parts.  I did the church flowers for Remembrance Sunday which I was quite pleased with, then just before the cold weather really hit we had a new back door and the kitchen windows replaced.  The double glazing had broken down and we have looked at the garden through a glass darkly for a couple of years now.

This was mid-day and I was really nervous that they would not get the windows & door fitted before nightfall.  George had gone to London for the 150th anniversary dinner of his Rowing Club, Twickenham, and I was on my own for the night!  However, the wonderful Roydon and his son got me all nicely padlocked and secure and I am delighted with the result.   It is so bright!

Then on Friday we had our Rotary Charter dinner at Selwyn College - it was SO COLD even the men were eating dinner with coats over their dinnerjackets. One had a great deal of sympathy for mediaeval scholars dining in hall (yes, I know Selwyn isn't mediaeval but it is a large, lofty hall).  Even a vest underneath my evening dress and a cardigan on top of it did not keep the cld out.    I took lots of photographs and then asked George to take one with me in it.   He did  .........

We made him take another one but that was not much better - I think I prefer the first one.  Ah well.

Unable to sleep at night I have been reading like mad to stop the worries circling round in my brain.  The Return by Victoria Hislop and Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope have been  read in quick succession, both of which we are discussing at a book meeting in January - I hope I haven't forgotten all about them by then!   I enjoyed both, althoug I was not impressed by the beginning of The Return but it gathered pace and it was really interesting to learn more about the Spanish Civil War.   Friday Nights was the sort of book where you begin to really care about the characters although JT does use inordinately long sentences with loads of commas and clauses.

Every year George does a quiz for Christmas and sells it for a pound a go at the church bazaar and elsewhere.   There are always 100 questions and it is VERY hard, with cryptic clues, anagrams etc.  He allows two months before the papers have to be in and people just seem to love it.  He markets it as one to do after Christmas lunch, and for the sake of copying off 100 or so sheets it is an easy money spinner.  We have covered so many subjects over the years, food and drink, clothing, entertainment etc. and this year the subject is The Sea, all that is on it and in it.  The hysterical thing is that he has lost the crib sheet with the answers on, and as he started to do this quiz back in August the old memory is really being tested with the result that both of us are poring over the questions and complaining about how hard they are!   What is the betting that just as we solve the last clue, he will find the answers !!!

So now we have a funeral this week of a dear friend in the village, sadly struck down by Motor Neurone disease at the tender age of 62.  A great patchwork and quilter she produced exquisite work and was very active in the village. What a tragedy - and it has all happened so quickly.     Then there is Christmas to get through - and I am afraid for the first time ever that is how I am thinking of it.  I am even dreading doing the Christmas tree, usually one of my favourite tasks.   I just hope the Christmas spirit manages to break through somewhere along the line.   Doom and gloom all around I see.   I don't think I had better write any more,  I'm going off to count my blessings.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Half Term

We have had our daughter and junior grandson staying for a few days.   It is jolly hard persuading ticket people that this hulking great lad is still only 13 - 14 next week, actually.  One day we went to
Ely Cathedral.  It was a glorious day as you can see - not a cloud in the sky. I let him loose with my camera and he took quite a lot of good photographs.  This is the great Lantern
and I love this mediaeval corbel

As we live in the Diocese of Ely we have a free pass  - it is known locally as the Ship of the Fens because when the mists roll around at ground level the cathedral floats like a majestic ship, it must have been really awe-inspiring to the local folk in days gone by.  It still impresses us now!  We went to the Oliver Cromwell museum -
 where Oliver and Elizabeth seem quite sanguine about having another son.  I am a real pain, because I don't lose a single opportunity to drum in  a history lesson.  History isn't really his subject - he is keen on physics and maths just like his older brother.  George took him to see a rugby match between Cambridge University and Cardiff - that was much more to his liking.  We were going up to the Tower of London but actually had a day in Cambridge instead at his request.   On Wednesday we went to Anglesey Abbey - another lesson about Hobson (of Hobson's choice fame) who was the first secular owner of the house after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The grounds were looking wonderful with the rich autumn colours and we walked along to Lode Mill where some delightful N.T. volunteers, seeing how interested we were, started the mill up for us and gave us a very interesting tour .  Of course I had to buy some flour so I'm looking forward to making the next loaf.  Needless to say food was involved and we had a super cream tea, why is National Trust food always so delicious?
I was sad to see them go back up to Stafford on Thursday morning but the Sawston Rotary Wives had a tour of Chilford Vineyard and a wine tasting followed by lunch so that helped to fill the void.  Last night we went to a BRILLIANT concert run by George's Rotary Club - Rave On did a tribute to Buddy Holly ( or Buddy Holliday as George kept on saying - he is very square).  The concert was a sell out and the
band was terrific, we were all  bopping in our seats and then dancing in the aisles  as they stormed into Peggy Sue,  Blue Suede Shoes, and so on.  Shades of my youth.  We were all exhausted at the end.
So have I done any stitching, ask the other members of MESCH?  Well, no.  But I am doing a lot of thinking and at the moment I am going to sit in front of the fire making gift tags for the Church Bazaar.  50p for 10 - a bargain.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Diaghilev at the V & A

On Thursday I went up to London to meet my good friend Sandra at the V & V to see the Diaghilev exhibition.  It was BRILLIANT.   I just loved it - every minute of it, and in fact we spent 3 1/2 hours going round so we certainly got our money's worth !   Fortunately, Sandra is just like me and  reads everything, I don't think we missed a single item.
The cover of the exhibition notes shows costumes designed by Chanel, they were there on display alongside costumes from so many ballets, The Rite of Spring, The Fire Bird, etc. etc.  Bearing in mind the fact that they had been danced in (strenuously) and were about 100 years old, they were all in remarkably good condition.  I r4esisted taking photographs until the very end when I sneaked this photo 
of modern haute couture which had been inspired by the ballet.  I was completely overwhelmed by the  films being shown and by the enormous  stage backcloths which the V & A had bought back in the 60's.  In fact, it would appear that most of the exhibits were from the V & A itself and not on loan.  I always look for the provenance of the piece - it is interesing to see who owns these  pieces of history. I was particularly taken with a small drawing by Picasso of Leonide Massine, a wonderful example of a pure pencil line.   I bumped into Gina - or rather, she prodded me having recognised my backside !  She was there with her mother and I felt certain that we would see them again in the cafe, but we had obviously been so long in our examination of every single item that they had long gone!  Did Gina, I wonder, indulge in one of these:-
When we emerged blinking from the last room, Sandra asked me what I thought the time was.  It was 3.30 and I just knew that I was not going to make the train home (the one that stops me turning into a pumpkin) so there was nothing for it but to have afternoon tea and do a bit of shopping in the excellent V & A shop.   Sandra bought a beautiful brooch, expensive but I know she won't regret it!  Then I wended my way over to St Pancras where I wasted an hour  having a drink and window shopping before going to Kings X and the 7.18 home.  Dear George was waiting for me, had put the meal in the oven and lit the fire - what a lovely end to a perfect day.

Friday and Saturday nights we went out to dinner with friends so it has been quite nice to have a slummocky Sunday.  Yesterday we had a tree taken down
It was a self sown ashtree which had been a real nuisance, three times we haave had it topped and it has grown again so quickly. 
Just think how many lovely logs that will provide for the winter !

Monday, 11 October 2010

Ally Pally

On Saturday I set off at 7.30 for my annual 'fix' at the Knitting and Stitching Show.  First thing on arrival was a cup of coffee - boy, was it 'orrid.   Someone told me later that there was a better coffee spot inside - I'm very fussy about my coffee!  Anyway, I sat and read the programme and planned my day.  I didn't have anything to buy (I could certainly stock one if not two stands with all my  stuff) but inevitably I managed to spend money. As usual all the exhibitions were exciting and inspiring - I particularly liked Dierdre Hawken's fantastic miniature hats!   I didn't take photographs  because I don't really think it is fair on the artist.  But I was amazed when Dierdre recognised me from a workshop I did with her some 10 or 12 years ago!  What a memory.  I had a lovely  chat with Lizzie Houghton the felt maker - I have done several courses with her including a wonderful hat-making course.  Such a nice lady.  I lust after one of her jackets....  I had no scruples about taking a photograph at the Art Van Go stand - here is the wonderful Ruth Issett up to her elbows in paint as usual -
 The Queen of Colour, I call her.  It is so appropriate that she has those vibrant streamers over her head!
Art van Go have had  two big stands for the last couple of years and they were busy, busy, busy. Good to see that Kevin was working hard -

I couldn't get near Viv because she was under a pile of customers!  The graduate shows were exciting as was the retrospective of Julia Caprara's work and Margaret Nicholson's or nue.  I looked in at the Chat exhibition, I was a founder member of that group and it was good to see some of  them again.  I really liked the knitted wire corsets.  I bumped into lots of people I knew and at lunch time sat with some very friendly ladies from Kent.    Talking of Ladies,  I DO wish all the ladies loos were not on the first floor, after several hours trawling around the stands to climb up all those stairs is a real pain!  The Global Paper Exhibition was terrific   - in fact there was SO much to see.

I got home at about 7 to find that George had all ready gone out to our dinner date with friends, so I had to do a quick change and follow him.  After we had eaten we played cards - I don't know HOW I kept awake!    AND we had to be up early to 'sidle' in church Sunday morning.  But Sunday was a perfect day - we had lunch in the garden and this was the sky -

over my head as I sat and ate my lunch - not bad for the 10th day of the 10th month, 2010  !

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

An autumn break

We have just come back from

or more precisely,  a friend's villa just above  Caylus - a delightful mediaeval fortified town in the Tarn et Garonne part of France, right down on the S.W. corner.  It is the third time we have bee there and we just love the area, no wonder so many Brits buy property there!  This is breakfast with freshly collected bread, butter and Bonne Maman apricot jam - holiday treat.

Every village is a picturesque  gem and the countryside is beautiful.  We drove down stopping overnight at a nice little farm south of Dijon at St. Germain les Buxy.  We were intrigued at breakfast the next morning to see a housemartin's nest  above our heads in the beams of the dining room.  Apparently the windows had been left open a bit too long!  Our objective was to visit the wonderful Millau Bridge designed by Norman Foster.  It is most impressive and flies gracefully across the valley, so high that as you can see from this diagram in the visitor centre (very smart!) the Eiffel Tower would just about go underneath the centre span!

We drove across it and back, 6 euros 50 each way but it was worth it.  My only complaint was that the fact that it was designed by an Englishman was in VERY small print, but then we were in France.  Whilst we were away  George was reading '1000 years of annoying the French' by Stephen Clarke and maybe the Millau Bridge was  the last straw !
The weather was wonderful apart from one rain and thunder storm, and we were able to lie around the pool reading and George even did some swimming.   We visited lots of interesting markets, bought good, cheap wine and big, fat, fresh vegetables and we visited an English woman  doing patchwork and quilting holidays at her villa near St Antonin Noble Val - my friend had spotted an advertisement in one of the quilting magazines.  A very nice set up right in the middle of nowhere, there were about 12 women beavering away  - one from Paris, two from California and three from  Ashdon Quilters at Saffron Waldon! Of course we had friends in common - what a co-incidence!  All the ladies said the food was wonderful....!

We were sitting in the 14th century market square in Caylus having a drink when we heard a sound above us - a cat had jumped out of the window onto the ledge and was happily sunning itself, not at all worried about the drop below him.  A very good vantage point.  I wonder if that is a bullet hole from the revolution behind him? 
OOOps, here is the Millau bridge out of sequence !
 The next village to Caylus is Septfonds, and the last time my friend Jenny was at her villa she went to an exhibition by the local patchwork group.  They were very friendly and asked her to visit their weekly class next time she was in France.  So on a Friday afternoon off we went - and what lovely ladies they were!   Madame the leader insisted on showing us all over her house, we met her charming  husband and her dog and saw all her work.  Everything in the house was made a la main.  My French is enthusiastic but lousy - I remember all the words but have a bad accent and rotten grammar - but I DO have a go, and often get myself into deep trouble by launching into a complicated conversation and then losing my way.  Resolve:   must go to French conversation classes.
Again there were about a dozen women sitting in a big room round a huge table, stitching away and all by hand.  There was a very nice young woman from America who had married a Frenchman and she was able to do a bit of translating.    We spent about an hour with them and had a cup of tea, it is amazing what warmth  and friendship comes arm in arm with textiles.  Thank you, lovely ladies of the Club Du Fil a L'aguille - les petites abeilles de Septfonds, for a really great afternoon! 

 Beyond Septfonds is the town of Causade - the berceau du chapeau de paille (cradle of straw hats) or in other words the Luton of France.  But very different!  A typical  market, a good shoe shop selling designer models very reasonably (yes!), and a hat museum.   Lots of very old hats lying around and on shelves, and the amazing thing was no one seemed to be there to stop you trying them on - so of course we did.  Very carefully, as  some of them might have been around during the revolution!  And no, I'm not showing you the photo because I don't look anything like Marie Antoinette. But just to prove I was there...

We had just had a particularly good lunch, so I don't know why George is looking so fierce !

On the way home we stopped overnight in a farm at Bourg Beaudouin near Rouen   - we stayed there three years ago and were charmed by the place and by the farmer's wife  Benedicte.    The house is full, and I do mean full, of stuff.  Decoupage, doilies, paintings, books, cheese labels, chickens in every shape and form, old farm and dairy utensils - even the radiators are painted.   I fell in love with this teapot at breakfast (note the cows on the tablecloth!)  this is the front......
 and this of course is the back!  French style in all it's glory, n'est ce pas?
Last time we stayed we ate dinner at the farm but this time it was not possible so we drove, on Madame's recommendatition , to Les Lions de Beauclerc in the utterly delightful village of Lyons la Foret.    Every building was strung around with flowers - this is the covered market -

 The meal at Les Lions was first class and at 20 euros a head not expensive, and  we were eating in a decor raffine et chaleureux !  It was dark when we left the restaurant, but I was amazed to see on the house opposite all these figurines on the OUTSIDE of the windowledges !  Amazing!  I have never seen the like before.  I hope they were stuck down.

Anyway, after a couple of glorious weeks away we came home to find a flooded conservatory, soaking wet patchwork quilts, cushions and armchair.  A big water stain on the lovely old rug.   Down to earth with a bang     Yukkkkk.    But........

The one ray of sunshine was this -

A Parcel !!!    A PIF from the lovely Gina (what exactly is a PIF ?)  Anyway I opened it up and there was one of Gina's delightful pincushion/boxes, some cards of her recent degree work AND some chocolate!  And wrapped in my favourite colour combination of pink and lime green - how did you know? What is a wet conservatory compared to that!
Thank you so much Gina and I understand that I now have to pass this on to three people, is that right? Well, of course, I don't have half or even a quarter as many followers as Gina but if anyone is interested in receiving a mystery parcel from me (and it is a mystery to me, too, at the moment!)let me know, shall we say by the end of October.  I can certainly do the chocolate bit!  I am really thrilled with my pincushion.

Anyway, no more holidays now this year, it is WORK.  House work, gardening and SEWING.  And that's a promise.  But not necessarily in that order.
                   And again out of sequence (I still do not seem to be able to master this thing) one last look at
                                                   Les petite abeilles de Septfonds

Monday, 13 September 2010

Going Nuts again

Once again we have a super-abundancy of nuts.  I can't believe it is a year since I wrote about collecting the nuts from my garden, but here I am again, happily collecting up the fat little bodies - this is yesterday's haul...

Aren't they beautiful?   As fast as I walk along picking up the nuts I hear a gentle plop behind me and know that if I turn round and walk back the grass will be strewn with even more.  And if you are thinking I ought to be leaving them for the dear little grey treerats with big tails and good P.R. (squirrels) well, I cannot get easily behind the trees and don't scrabble in the undergrowth, so I reckon there is still plenty of food left for them.  Anyway, stupid creatures just bury them all over my garden and then forget where they have put them and dig up my bulbs!  You will gather I am not over fond of squirrels.

When I take the husks off, this reminds me of the vinyl floor covering I had  years ago which looked like a pebbly beach!   Incidentally,anyone who lives near me and wants little nut trees - well, I dig them out by the score!

I have also made MORE bramble jelly. This time I squeezed the jelly bag!  I hope my mother wasn't watching from above, but I don't think with blackberry jelly you are aiming for a clear translucent W.I. prize winner and I am happy to have a cloudy jelly and more of it - especially the way senior grandson eats it! 
  I have fitted in  some sewing - a friend asked me to do a picture for a neighbour who is having a significant birthday and is a keen bowler.   I think I can show the picture in advance of the birthday as I am pretty sure she is not a blog reader!

Anyway, it was quite fun to do although anatomically I don't think she works !