Archive | October 2013

What am I currently making?


I’m busy making some things for the Church Autumn bazaar. I finished two of the tea-pot covers recently; one black and yellow and the other black and pink. I finished the top with some flowers made of yarn. Looks quite nice doesn’t it.



I also had some leftover pieces of material from the jungle quilt I made recently for my grandson Sam. I used those to make some pretty pot holders, see below.


I can’t make the items fast enough unfortunately and time is getting nearer. The bazaar is on 16th November so it’s just around the corner.

However! I’m not going to dwell on what I haven’t done, only on what I have done. That’s a good adage, isn’t it? Do few things but do them well.


My new computer arrived last Thursday and I’m slowly getting used to it! I find Windows 8 very confusing, but thanks to a previous post and an answer from Pia I downloaded the Classic Shell and now I am back to what I am used to, almost. I think I shall be keeping my old computer for quite a while though because there are things on it that won’t work with Windows 8. For example, did you know that Windows 8 will not play DVD’s? and all my music, which I had put on an external hard drive (luckily) would not open on the new computer. I had to convert them all individually. Actually, Larry did it for me. Isn’t that kind of him!

I suppose these days we have moved on a lot, but because of my age and the fact that I have been using computers for so long, I am stuck in the past with lots of CD’s to listen to. I’m not about to go downloading all that lot again from I-Tunes, am I. If I was starting off, it would be a different matter. I would do a lot more downloading and my office would be a CD-less workspace. Eventually I will have to give them all away or sell them. I know that, but I do think that the computer manufacturers could consider the needs of older people more than they do.

I like ‘simple’ so I’m not very keen on the tiling I get at the beginning. There are three screens when I switch on so there’s a fair bit of navigation to get where I want to be. I’m not a fan of ‘touch screen’, preferring the keyboard for everything.

I’m still working on the pictures. I’ve downloaded Picasa so I can organise properly. Sadly I don’t have my albums on Picasa, but I will be able to organise any new pics I take. I have a library of 6600+ pics so they do take a lot of organising.

I’ve always used Quicken to organise my finances (at home), but Quicken isn’t supported in the U.K. anymore and Windows 8 won’t play it. I have the 2004 version, which is way too old for today’s computers. Which programme do you’all use for finances?

So I’m in a bit of a minefield really, but the new machine is FAST. Now WordPress opens much quicker, which is good for the blogs where people include videos. Previously it was taking me ages and ages to download the Reader and see all the new blogs and that was mostly due to the videos loading. LadyBlueRose, that’s you. Your blog is very full my dear! So now it all comes down the tube very quickly. What with coping with things in the cottage and waiting for the old computer to load up, I had time to clean my teeth and wash my face before I could see the new blogs.

Wish me luck as I tread carefully through the minefield. When I get too frustrated, I just read a good book or pick up my knitting. It’s easier…!


Dylan update – Dylan is three today!


It doesn’t seem possible, but my little grandson, Dylan, is three today! Congratulations to him from all of us at the cottage.

Apparently he ruined his birthday cake by putting too many sprinkles on top of it, but I bet it tasted delicious anyway.

Dylan's third birthday cake

Grandad and I will be fetching him from Nursery this afternoon. He comes to us for an hour while he waits for his Daddy to get back on the train from London. We have one or two little surprises for him when he gets here.

The dreadful storm, which passed over yesterday in the very early morning, has now moved on to Europe and we are left with some devastation. Luckily it didn’t affect the cottage or my precious garden, but the winds were high and the trees were bending. It’s not unusual to have storms at this time of the year, but one of that ferocity doesn’t come too often, luckily.


We went fishing!


Those of you who are familiar with the programme ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, which has been running for many years, may see a similarity here. We went fishing – to a stream near the cottage, all four of us. On Fridays my grandson Dylan comes here to enjoy himself and I don’t see why we shouldn’t all join in, do you? With Dylan in the picture is his Grandad J and my husband, Larry in the background.

We took nets and buckets and gloves etc. and down to the riverbank we went. It was fun. This time I tried not to fall in. The last time (but one) that we went fishing, I had an unfortunate mishap and ended up stuck in the mud and had to be rescued! This time things went better. I stayed on the bank and left the fishing to the men and a very good time was had by all.


When we had finished fishing, we filled up some receptacles with blackberries. When the jars were full, we ate our sandwiches, but just as we got to the crisps, it started to rain and we had to beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

It wasn’t a very productive fishing trip. The fish were wise to us, but we had a great time, as you can see.


Jane Austen Knits – Capelet project finished!


Remember this project? Well, it’s now finished and keeping me warm. Here’s another picture from the magazine:


The second picture shows the shoulder joining, which is tied with a pretty ribbon. However, I wasn’t too sure about that ribbon, so on my version, I plaited some of the yarn I had spun previously, like this:


I think it looks a lot more natural.

You can read about how the wool was spun here and then here

So the lacy top is mohair in a gorgeous orange colour, but I crocheted instead of knitted. It’s so warm…

This is the back:


I added a bead feature at the corner:


All in all, I’m very pleased with it 🙂



Autumn Flowers


It was my birthday on Saturday and I have to say I consider myself very lucky to have a birthday in this, the most beautiful month of the year. I haven’t received my birthday present yet. It’s coming on 21st of the month – a new computer! Aren’t I lucky? The one I have been using for the last three years is soooooooooooo slow now, that it is almost unusable so I’m ditching it. Unfortunately that means I will soon be using Windows 8, which I don’t care for at all, but there it is. I need to upgrade. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on soon. Meanwhile, if any of you have any tips about using Windows 8, I would be very glad to hear them.


Here in the cottage garden, I have started bringing in the summer geraniums. They will not over-winter outside if we get any frost and I don’t want to lose any so one by one I am bringing them in until April. It sounds a long time doesn’t it, but there it is.  I took some cuttings from the bigger plants, as usual, and the little babies are doing really well on the window ledge in the front room.


Preparations for winter continue. I need to get a new hot water bottle. I use one so much, I wear them out every two years. Here’s a tip: never keep your hot water bottle too long because the rubber inside can become perished. If you live in England, always buy a good one. It’s not worth risking getting burned. I don’t feel ready for an electric blanket yet. I’ll consider that when the hot water bottle doesn’t work anymore.


Today we went to Specsavers. Larry needed a hearing test. This comes free on the National Health Service over here. He was referred there by the doctor we have. The test took an hour to do and he walked out of the shop with two new hearing aids and much improved hearing. It didn’t cost anything and it was all over very quickly and efficiently. He was very impressed and once again, I can say how very proud I am of our National Health Service here in England.


So, next stop is the hospital on Thursday, when L has to have something on his neck looked at. I’ll let you know about that afterwards. The older we get, the more we need the doctor etc. it seems!

So enjoy the Autumn with me and wish me luck with my new computer when it gets here. I think there will be lots of cursing and swearing until I get used to it.


Bristol Harbour


The Matthew in Bristol Harbour

Larry and I have had one trip away since he came over to England in July. That was to visit my eldest son and his partner, who live in Bristol. One of the most interesting things about Bristol is the harbour – see below.

‘Bristol Harbour was the original Port of Bristol, but as ships and their cargo have increased in size, it has now largely been replaced by docks at Avonmouth and Portbury. These are located 3 miles (5 km) downstream at the mouth of the River Avon.

The harbour is now a tourist attraction with museums, galleries, exhibitions, bars and nightclubs. Former workshops and warehouseshave now largely been converted or replaced by cultural venues, such as the Arnolfini art gallery, Watershed media and arts centreM Shed museum and the At-Bristol science exhibition centre, as well as a number of fashionable apartment buildings. The Bristol Harbour Railway, operated by M Shed, runs between the museum and the Create Centre on some weekends and bank holidays. Historic boats are permanently berthed in the harbour. These include Isambard Kingdom Brunel‘s SS Great Britain, which was the first iron-hulled andpropeller-driven ocean liner.


S.S. Great Britain in Bristol Harbour – Autumn 2013

[1] and a replica of the Matthew in which John Cabot sailed to North America in 1497. The historic vessels of M Shed museum, which include the steam tug Mayflower, firefloat Pyronaut and motor tug John King, are periodically operated.

The Bristol Ferry Boat Company[2] and Number Seven Boat Trips[3] operate ferry services in the harbour, serving landing stages close to most of the harbour-side attractions. The latter company also operates a Bristol City Council supported commuter service.[4] The Bristol Packet boats offer regular harbour tours with commentaries and river cruises on the Tower Belle up the River Avon to ConhamHanham and Bath and downstream to Avonmouth.[5]In late July each year, the Bristol Harbour Festival is held, resulting in an influx of boats, including tall shipsRoyal Navy vessels and lifeboats.[6]‘ from Wikipaedia

We had a really great time on a pleasure boat in Bristol Harbour: This is our view from the inside:


After we had sampled the delights of Bristol harbour, we chilled out in a wonderful coffee bar near the city centre.

Larry is learning our cafe culture. It goes slowly. He was not in his comfort zone in here.


In true American fashion, he wanted a map of the city and a plan for the day. I, on the other hand, was very happy to amble through the day, alighting like a butterfly, on one interesting place after the other. I think he got quite frustrated with me!

We had a great time visiting my son and his partner and all their animals:

Rob and Kelly August 2012…and hope to return there again soon.


A Patchwork Quilt for Baby Sam


I have just completed this patchwork quilt for baby Sam (my second grandson). It will be for his Christmas present.


It was difficult to find the time to work on it recently, what with all the business at the cottage since the end of July. However, I have finished it and I am quite pleased with it. There is no ‘Jo-annes’ near me so I have to rely on small shops and the internet to get the supplies that I need and I was held up with the finishing of it until my favourite sewing machine got here from America.

The quilt has a jungle theme, which I chose to match with Sam’s bedroom.


I do hope he likes it. He’s a bit young to appreciate it now of couse, but in time he may come to like the pictures and the bright colours.


…and of course, no jungle is complete without an elephant, so the elephant may go with it (if I can bear to part with it).


Meanwhile, the elephant is having a sleep while he waits for Christmas.


Now if I can just find a box big enough to pack them both?


Life in the U.K. (Two months in England – from Larry’s perspective.)


Two Months in England – Bigger and Newer are not Better

‘Having just completed my second month in the UK two fundamental concepts in America are in jeopardy. When I was growing up in Texas in the 1950’s I learned that “bigger is always better”. That’s because up until 1959 Texas was the largest state in the United States of America. And all Texans know that Texas is by definition the best state in the Union! Thus, bigger and better clearly go together. “Smaller” simply can’t be better. (It’s probably against Texas State law!)

In America “new” is always better as well. It must be because all the advertisements tell us that it is, at least 25 times per hour on national television. But there’s a problem with “new” – it isn’t (new) for very long. By definition, new is perishable. Nothing stays new. By contrast, old gets even more so with the passage of time. Since time only moves in one direction (as far as we know) then “new” is always perishing while “old” just keeps getting better.

What does this have to do with life in the UK, you ask? During my two months here I have become a student of the contrast between “new” and “old” and between “bigger” and “smaller”. Everywhere you look in this country there are monuments to at least 1000 years of carefully recorded history. Towns and cities are built around massive stone cathedrals and churches that often took four or five generations of workers to construct over several hundred years. Everywhere you find structures that have withstood hundreds or even thousands of years of natural weathering and human wear and tear. These are not simply tourist attractions, but vital centers in the daily operations of the community. There is a universal respect for the “old” that I find very reassuring. At the beginning of a tour of the Tower of London one of the Beefeaters asked, “How many Americans are in the group?” Several hands went up. In response the Beefeater said, “Just think! All of this history could have been yours.” While I am proud to be American and have great respect for those who fought for America’s independence in 1776, the Beefeater’s comment made me a bit envious to say the least.

There are plenty of great new things in England. I find the quality of television programming in the UK much superior to that in America. Traffic on the roadways is much better managed with roundabouts instead of four-way stop and red light intersections. And here the stoplights turn yellow before they go green as well as before they go red – believe it or not that really helps. I suppose it’s the way the “new” and the “old” are blended together that impresses. Houses are built to last several hundred years without needing a new roof or other major upgrades. There is an appreciation for maintaining what you have rather than simply building all over again in a new location and abandoning the old in place. Looking at a cathedral built in 1023 AD gives a since of permanence and comfort – it’s stood the test of time and will be there when I come to visit again in 5 years, or when my grandchildren want to visit 50 years from now. Looking at a new American shopping center, my first thought is, ‘I wonder how long before all the shops move out and leave it sitting empty.’

Bigger is better if you have infinite space and natural resources. That’s the assumption in America – there will always be new land to build on and an infinite supply of bricks and mortar. Well maybe so, but is that really better? Or is it just cheaper for the builders? Spend an afternoon sometime counting the number of empty abandoned shopping centers and storefronts in the average American town or city. When space is at a premium refurbishing is the better option for many reasons, cost being just one of them. Forcing American builders to pay for demolishing their buildings as well as constructing them might change the American landscape for the better.

Some of you may remember Dinah Shore. She was a popular singer in the early days of television when advertisements were in integral part of the TV show. “See the USA in your Chevrolet” – that was Dinah’s trademark catch phrase. At an average cost of 1.4 GBP per liter ($8.56 per US gallon) it’s very expensive to “see the UK “ in your private car. I’ve found traveling by bus or train in the UK is much less expensive and much more enjoyable. “Seeing the UK” in a Hummer would not only be prohibitively expensive but physically impossible. Small cars (if you find you really need a car at all) can negotiate the narrow roadways that would be impassible for a Hummer or large American SUV, and they get twice the miles per liter (gallon) as American cars. Bigger is better in the UK when 50 people can ride instead of only 1 or 2.

Watch this page for my third month in the UK.’


When Larry was very newly arrived, one of the first things I said to him on the way back from the airport, was ‘Think small’.  I was anxious that he would find the cottage too small and overcrowded for comfort. We have no closets for clothes so one of the first things Larry had to do was to buy a wardrobe to put his (much reduced) clothes in to. He also had to get used to the idea that things needed to be moved around a lot.  For example; if you want to get to something, you need to move at least one or two other things out of the way first!

As the time has gone by, I have been keen to introduce him to places of space. We have visited St. Albans and seen the marvellous cathedral there and last Friday we took Dylan to Dunstable Downs, an area of extensive chalk hillside where the view is spectacular.

So far so good!