Archive | January 2013

My English Garden – January 2013





DSCF0459

Well, as you know, the weather has been fierce lately! We’ve had this (see above)

and this (see below)

23-12-2010 006

so I’ve needed these…

DSCF0430

and this:

fireplace with fire

and this to keep me warm…

IMG_1408

but I haven’t forgotten my geranium cuttings! Remember my post back in August? You can remind yourself here. I’ve been nurturing those cuttings since then.  Just before the first frosts came, I brought them into the cottage and put them along the window-ledge at the front where they get the evening sun. The trick is to keep them alive but not to encourage them to grow too fast. I don’t want them to get leggy. I water them once a week and that is enough.  It is quite dry in the house and they dry out quickly, but they don’t seem to mind that.

This is what they looked like last week:

DSCF0602

When I bring them in, they sometimes have a caterpillar among the leaves, so Dylan and I go caterpillar hunting:

DSCF0440

The other day we took part in an RSPB Birdwatch. Click the link to read more about it. Basically, during the course of one hour, we were asked to observe the birds, which turned up in our garden and submit the results online in order to take part in a nationwide survey of the bird population. For example, we had to record the most number of birds of each species that we saw together during that hour.

All was going normally at first. We saw two blackbirds, two wood pigeons, two starlings, a robin and a magpie. Then all of a sudden! a whole flock of waxwings descended onto our cotoneaster bush and stripped it of all the berries. I counted 23 waxwings, which is an awful lot more than all the other birds put together.  These gorgeous birds, pictures follow, come down from even colder regions, like Sweden and descend upon us at this time of the year.  It is quite a new thing. I don’t remember seeing them in years gone by. Here are the pictures. The best pictures are here and the others I had to take through the window so as not to disturb them.

DSCF0689

DSCF0673

DSCF0681

We have submitted our results to the RSPB and I’ll let you know what the total results were when they come out. Sadly there has been a decline in the bird population here in England. Some birds are rarely seen commonly anymore, but others have been on the increase.

So that’s a glimpse into my garden this week. The snow has gone now and been replaced by ferocious winds and rain. It really does feel like I’m living on an island. I never thought about that when I was living in Tennessee, but when I came back I realised that ‘yes’ we are an island race of people and we’re never very far away from the sea. Long may it continue so!

Oma

Hand-spinning with alpaca/silk and a little bit of knitting.


DSCF0554

I’ve been spending my time over Christmas and during the cold weather, spinning, knitting and reading. I made this pretty little dress for my new grandchild, who is bound to be a boy now that I’ve made a dress! However, I enjoyed using the fairisle wool. It is unusual in that it is designed to knit up like a fairisle jumper, just so long as you make it the right size.  As you can see from the pictures, it works on the skirt part of the garment, but on the sleeves and the yoke, it goes all stripey. It gives an interesting look and it’s a case of ‘you never know what you’re going to get’ until you do it, of course.

DSCF0555

When my own children were babies, the colours were mostly muted, but these days anything seems to go so these rather bold colours (to my eye) give a more modern look.

DSCF0556

Now for the hand-spinning. I have been practising with the alpaca/silk combination. It is a dream to hold, very soft and silky, much like human hair, but not so easy to spin with. I think it requires a lot of practice. On the lazy kate below is a merino wool on  the left, alpaca/silk in the middle and a tarhee roving spun up on the right. All very different to spin with.

DSCF0572

I think I got a bit too much twist in some of it, but that will work out when I ply two strands together (I hope).

DSCF0573

DSCF0574

I’m knitting with the merino yarn at the moment.  It is very soft and so far, my favourite. I’ll let you see what I’m making in a future post.

After tea I have to clear out the kitchen, ready for the horrendous job booked for tomorrow (see previous post).

Wish me luck.

Oma

Britain and the European Union


Last week David Cameron, our Prime Minister, gave a speech about our participation in the European Union. He promised us that within five years there would be a referendum, which would give British people the choice of whether to stay in the European Union or to come out of it. I think that if the referendum happened tomorrow, most people would vote to come out. Am I right? Brits? what do you think?

However, are we, as ordinary people, able to judge the facts correctly? We need to be very careful.

David Cameron made it perfectly clear in his speech that he wants us to stay IN but with a few changes. Whether or not the other countries will agree to those remains to be seen.

You can read more about the speech here.

America’s view point is that we should stay IN, but is that because it would be to their advantage? They want ‘a strong voice in Europe’.

It seems to me that our staying IN would be to everyone else’s advantage, but maybe not to our own.

We did very well before we joined the Union. Wouldn’t it be better to go it alone again, make our own decisions, trade freely and not be restricted in our dealings by the rest of Europe.

I am old enough to remember what it was like before. We seemed to get a lot more butter from New Zealand and other products, which rarely appear on the supermarket shelves today. Nowadays we get lots of French cheese, German that, Spanish sausages but I doubt if they eat much of our produce over there.

While I was in America I couldn’t help but notice that they are very biased towards Ireland. There are lots of Irish products on the shelves, but few English items.

We in Europe are not alike.  Each country is made up of a unique type of people. Our cultures are totally different. I personally doubt if we will ever be ‘one Europe’.

David Cameron’s speech did not go down well with the French but the Germans listened and understood where we were coming from.

Of course, for those people here who want to vote ‘OUT’, it almost guarantees that David Cameron’s party (conservatives) will be re-elected next time because for sure the other side (i.e. labour party) would not hold a referendum and we would definitely be staying in Europe.

People here have become disillusioned with the European Union. When we signed up for it, we signed up for a Common Market, but it has turned out to be a very different thing altogether. Laws are made and we have to comply with them whether we like it or not. People here don’t like being told what to do.

e.g. a lot of our crops have to be churned back into the ground because they don’t conform to European standards. Phooey! Sod that. Personally I don’t care what size or shape my bananas are or whether the cabbage is frilly or not. If it’s edible, I’ll eat it and I don’t need someone in Belgium to tell me I can’t.

I think you can tell where I stand on this issue. How many more people feel like me?

Here is a little poll. If you feel like it, please vote. I’d be interested to know what you think.

Deeper into the snowy woods and an unexpected disaster.


As promised, here are more pictures as I travelled deeper into the woods the other day.  However, just so you don’t think everything is always perfect in the cottage, we have had a disaster in the kitchen!

As some of you know, over the last few years I have been endeavouring to update the kitchen to a look that pleases me. It is expensive and takes time. Recently I got to the 3/4 stage and was feeling very pleased with myself that at last it was beginning to look how I wanted it to look.

Then disaster struck in the form of three leaks under the sink and behind the cupboard backing.  The first leak concerned the trap pipe under the sink, which kept working itself loose but wasn’t bad enough to need a plumber. Next was a drip drip noise, which at first I thought was rain outside. When I opened the back door to have a look, no rain! I realised there was a problem. Water was dripping at the back of the cupboard and when I looked under the sink, having first removed all the bottles in there, I found I could not access the problem and worse still I couldn’t turn off the water tap.

I texted my friend, who shares my house and asked him to come home (he’d just gone out) and see if he could fix it. He didn’t reply. I phoned – no answer. I waited up for him and at 12.15 a.m. we were both back in the kitchen trying to sort out the problem, but it soon became apparent that we needed a plumber.

Sunday morning and J phoned three plumbers. All advertised a 24/7 service. The first one didn’t answer his phone, the second one didn’t reply but the third one came round within the hour and took the back off the cupboard to fix the leak.

The leak was coming from a valve which leads to the outside tap in the garden. He stopped the leak but it needed a new part. Since it was Sunday and we were paying double time per hour, he said he would come back with the part the following Tuesday, which he did. That all cost £100 plus.

For some time the new linoleum in the kitchen had been coming up and losing its stick. I wondered why. Now I know – the floor underneath was saturated.

We called out the insurance assessor who said they would pay for the damage that the leak had caused, but not the repair to the leak itself. Fair enough. I was grateful. He said the floor underneath the lino. was 80% saturated with water. OMG no wonder the lino. wasn’t sticking.

We weren’t out of trouble yet though.

When the builder came to see what the job would entail a few days later, he noticed that we still had a leak! This time is was the tap to turn off the mains water.

We had to have the plumber back before the builders would touch the floor.

When the plumber came he said we needed a new tap and he would try to get one. He was gone for two hours. Trouble was the tap was new when the house was built and that sort of tap was no longer available so he had to get a new tap with an adaptor on it.

Apparently when the cottage was built, they used taps which conformed to European standard sizing, which was different to English imperial measurements. After two years, that idea was abandoned because too many English plumbing firms were going bust owing to the new sizings not being compatible with their machinery.

So much for complying with Europe.  More about that in another post!

So now we have the three leaks fixed and the builders are coming back next Tuesday to replace the floor. Help! I’m not looking forward to that visit, but it will be great when it’s done.

Oma

The magic of the forest.


DSCF0589

DSCF0592

DSCF0595

DSCF0596

 

DSCF0661

This morning I was called to the woods to experience again the white magic I find there with snow. Follow my path as I travel…

DSCF0662

The arrows point the way …

DSCF0606

Through the park …

DSCF0607

Across the bridge …

DSCF0608

DSCF0609

DSCF0610

 

DSCF0611

Amongst the trees…

DSCF0611

Beneath the leaden skies …

DSCF0613

No sound… all is quiet.

DSCF0616

DSCF0617

DSCF0618

DSCF0619

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost
DSCF0620
DSCF0621
DSCF0622
DSCF0623
DSCF0624
DSCF0625
DSCF0655
I’ll continue my walk in the woods tomorrow. Will you come with me?

Dylan in the snow!


As you might know it snowed over here bigtime yesterday! The Welsh people got it worst, followed by the poor people in the South West and then us in the South East.

However, not everybody disliked it! You can tell from the look on my grandson Dylan’s face, that he had a great time. He is eating a gingerbread man whilst learning how to throw snowballs. This picture was taken on the field near his home, by his daddy and has captured the moment perfectly, don’t you think!

His joy was unbounded however because his mum bought him a sledge too. Here he is on it:

…still holding the gingerbread man!

All this after an exciteable day at my house. He was so excited by the snow he could hardly contain himself, asking me ‘when was the snowman coming’ because he’s been watching Raymond Briggs ‘Snowman’ over the Christmas Holiday.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a short clip:

So today we still have lots of snow and more to come tomorrow. Dylan will be having more fun I think!

Don’t you just wish you were two year’s old again? I know I do…..

Have a great Sunday whatever you do people.

Waiting for a new grandchild.


As I wait patiently for my new grandchild, who is due on 22nd May, I am thinking back to a former time when I too was waiting for a child.  I have been very lucky, for not one…

not two … but three little boys have been given to me.

I keep their baby books in this very special box and look at them from time to time.

This is Robert’s first picture, taken in May 1974. Click to enlarge and see better.

and Edward came along three year’s later in 1977, the year of our Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

Three years after that, in 1980, David was born.  We were too busy to take a picture of him so the entry had to wait a few months!

Now David is going to be a daddy and I am wondering what the baby will look like.  Will it be a boy or a girl, big or small, quiet or noisy, we just have to wait and see..

What I do know is that he/she will bring lots of joy into their lives and mine too.

So, here I am waiting, waiting.  Do you like my slippers?