November

Joining in with Hawthorn’s Photo Scavenge Hunt. Thank you for hosting K!

1. Blue. So many blues to choose from so I’ve kept it current and photographed this scarf I’ve just finished for a Christmas present. At least I think it’s blue.

2. Me. Ugh I hate having my photo taken. I don’t actually wear glasses all the time but this was a selfie just to take a photo of the newly finished ‘Unfold’ crochet cowl and I needed to see the camera button!

3. Beginning with W. Weaving. Something I want to do more of but I’ve been giving crochet priority. Weaving certainly goes well with the hobby of crochet because it uses up random odds and ends of any thickness. I throw all the leftovers into a wire basket when they are no longer a useful quantity for anything else.

4. Rainbow. One of the things I’ve learnt about myself since I learnt how to crochet is my inability to cope with a riot of colour! Rainbow colours just don’t do anything for me at all. I seem to be in the minority when it comes to the colourful crochet community. I struggled to find anything amongst existing photographs for this category and then I came across this cake that M and I couldn’t resist when we were spending the afternoon in Chester after one of his work assignments. Imagine the time and patience required to bake such a thing!

5. Arch. A beautiful bridge in Matlock with stone arches.

6. Toy. A toy for future grandchildren is how we justified bringing this vintage look Pooh Bear home with us from Ashdown Forest recently. M is just a big softy really and said he looked lonely in the window!

7. Brush. I love this kind of shop. Useful, beautiful items. This one in Tunbridge Wells seemed to have a brush for every occasion and I regret not buying one of those wooden brushes with the ergonomic mushroom shaped handle for gently brushing clods of mud from the dog’s paws.

8. Swirl. This immediately made me think of coffee. I love it when a barista does an amazing piece of art. So clever. Never works at home!

9. Nail. Well nails plural to be precise here. This is not my hand! I cannot stand to have nail varnish on my finger nails. I’ve been known to add a neutral shade to toes in the summer. I’ve got strong nails that seem to grow quickly and yet I never bother doing anything with them except keep them trimmed. Unfortunately E didn’t inherit this from me and she has much weaker nails but likes to have them looking nice at all times, hence these decorative ones that I don’t even know the technical name for.

10. Own choice. I’ve recently been dabbling in much chunkier yarns than usual and loving the rustic look that thicker wool can create. This undyed yarn is by Rowan and was greatly reduced in a John Lewis sale. It’s absolutely luxurious to work with and feels great against the skin so I’m making a simple cowl for myself. It’ll be perfect for cold and frosty dog walks!

http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/november-photo-scavenger-hunt-final-one.html

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Ashdown Forest

It’s our final evening here in Sussex. Leaving my home territory tomorrow will be very hard indeed. I’ve literally breathed in as much Sussex air as I can. The smell of the forest, wood smoke in the air, tree lined country lanes, gorse, bracken, half tiled or half weatherboarded cottages.

We rented this barn for the week as a tenth wedding anniversary present to ourselves. Ten years ago when I first introduced M to just the idea of visiting Sussex he was not at all keen. He said he would feel like a fish out of water. That’s exactly how I feel with where I live right now. M did squirm a bit and try to lose his few northern pronunciations (his accent isn’t that strong compared to some regions close by). Over the years though he has come to love some of the places I’ve taken him to; Rye, Battle, Bexhill, Hastings, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells, Lewes and Ashdown Forest.

This week we’ve tried to slow down and not rush about visiting places. We brought the children here some years ago and did all the Pooh Bear sites such as the original Pooh sticks bridge, hundred acre wood (which is the five hundred acre wood here) and Hartfield which is where AA Milne lived at Cotchford Farm. M was quite sad that they are all grown up now. He wandered round the Pooh Corner shop looking quite forlorn. Eventually we decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have an old looking Pooh Bear at home for when we eventually have grandchildren. I think he’s just a big kid really but he didn’t get too much argument from me. I’ve never been a teddy person, or a doll person God forbid, but I like the vintage style of this bear.

We popped over to Tunbridge Wells one morning for no particular reason. We headed away from the modern shops and sought coffee in The Pantiles. Somehow M has a knack of being in the right place for picking up old ladies who have fallen over. I’m always with him but of course he hears the shopping hit the floor and rushes over. On this awful occasion the poor woman was head down a flight of stone steps. He kept her talking while he gently repositioned her legs and then gradually got her to a sitting position. A passer by thought he was an absolute expert and asked me if he was a doctor, I said no, he’s just very experienced at picking up old ladies! Thankfully the woman in question seemed fine after a sit down and a nearby shopkeeper invited her into the warm for a cup of tea.

After that drama we found a wonderful artisan coffee place and later we managed to find a whittling knife for M. I’ve got hand carved crochet hooks in mind, he likes a challenge! I gathered some wind fallen pieces of beech today for practice pieces but we’ve got quite a few choices in our back garden too. I did reflect on all the wealthy housewives laden with designer shopping bags and witnessing one who spent Β£280 on two cushions (freshening up the look for Christmas guests no doubt!) and thought how terrible I am at shopping in general and how happy I was that we found this little knife.

M earned husband brownie points by not moaning and protesting loudly over my suggestion to go for a short circular walk in Ashdown Forest today. I think I’ve harped on enough about how my childhood was filled with adventurous walks along clifftops, through woodlands, beside rivers etc. and he finally gets that I love walking! He hates it and doesn’t see the point at all which is not helped by the fact the fact that he has a back injury. I was prepared to go at snails pace and I was happy to stop when he needed to. Eventually we made it round this boggy woodland route, taking in what was left of the autumn colours, the views over the South Downs, little babbling brooks, rabbits darting for cover, the odd deer in the distance. Halfway round he said, yes I think I get this now, it’s actually quite beautiful. I could have cried. The reality though was that he was suffering quite badly. I always know when he’s really in pain because he actually complains less. It’s probably a man thing. He also goes quite pale which is a dead give away.

At Pooh Corner with warming ‘cappoohccino’s’ (their pun not mine) I told M that I really appreciated him attempting that walk, that it meant a lot. Sadly though I don’t think it’s ever going to be a pastime we do much of together. It’ll be back to the compromising that we worked out in Derbyshire this year, involving the car, a cafe and a crossword (while I hike a little).

Before we set off on our walk we exchanged numbers with a chap who had lost a golden retriever. He was waiting with the car and the second dog in case she found her own way back and his wife was out looking. Of course we know how this feels so we said we would join the search party but happily the dog turned up looking casual and wondering what all the fuss was about, as they do. Later in the day, on the way back to the barn we narrowly missed a small scruffy Terrier Jack Russell type thing trotting across a sixty mile an hour country lane looking a bit lost. I shouted stop and we hopped out and M managed to grab him first. He was quite friendly and immediately started licking M’s ear. He belonged to a man in a little cottage set back from the road who was very grateful for his safe return and didn’t realise that the gate had been left open. What with picking up old ladies and rescuing small dogs M has been quite the hero this week!

The best part of the week though, was being near enough to my Grandad for him to come over for a visit. My Uncle and Aunt decided to come and see the barn too and we all had a lovely catch up and lunch at the local pub. In fact that rather odd looking wallpaper with the ghostly Pooh Bear walking off into the woods with piglet is on one of the walls in the pub. I quite like the wallpaper design because the Pooh stories are, at the end of the day, just imagination. It’s rather how I felt about my childhood adventures in forests like this one and how I imagined our long gone little black cocker spaniel trotting off into the woods today.

We will both take a few ideas back to Lincolnshire with us. Ideas that can be stored away for the future. We’ve been amazed at how easily we could see ourselves living in just a small barn like this one, with perhaps a brick outbuilding or two. It’s really quite small with just one bedroom, a bathroom and open plan living room/kitchen but we wouldn’t need much more. M was also taken with the Sussex trug company here and could happily have moved in to their workshop as an apprentice trug maker. As a compromise (because his day job pays a bit more) I’m going to book him on to one of the two day introductory courses for next year. You can see how my cunning plan to make him fall in love with Sussex has worked out nicely this week!

Finally, because there’s always crochet talk here, I have made progress with just the one project this week. Totally focussed, no getting sidetracked with other things (even though I did bring three projects with me.) I’ll save the scarf pics for another post. It’s long, it’s thick, it’s super chunky and I’m a bit worried it’ll be too heavy to wear but even with the yarn substitution it still weighs the same as the recommended yarn so it must have been tried and tested. It will definitely wrap twice round the neck and still have plenty to spare. (Link to the pattern is in my previous post). I think I’ve managed to stay focussed on this one project because it’s been perfect for slight daydreaming whilst crocheting. I blame the hypnotic effect of the flames in the wood-burner window, so much more absorbing than the film we watched one night. I’ve frogged so many rows due to losing a stitch here or there but in super chunky that hasn’t been too bad.

Sussex Trugs: https://www.sussextrugs.com

October

These photo scavenge hunts are proving too much fun to miss. I didn’t think I’d have time this month to join in what with E’s departure for uni and then her short notice visits home. In fact the latest one prompted a massive two day sort out that I’d intended to do over three months! She’s been in charge of sorting her own room out for as long as I can remember but it was a bit chaotic after the uni packing. I decided that she needed a really nice, calm, uncluttered area to come home to now and then. I’m quite good at this sort of thing once I’m in the right frame of mind and armed with a hoover for unexpected spiders, loud music and a large coffee.

1. Making. Hats. It’s an annual thing now, a randomly occurring, most pressing need to make a batch of hats (not necessarily at the right time of the year either). This one seems remarkably similar to one I made last year for E but it uses an entirely different pattern. It’s called the Herringbone Slouch Hat by Jennifer Dougherty. It’s easy as pie if you can do post trebles. I’ve yet to make myself one but the wool is standing by!

2. Empty. Beach. This was taken at Huttoft earlier this year. I’m hopeless at remembering dates but it was fairly windy and cool, most definitely woolly hat weather anyway. In my mind it was the best time to visit a beach because we had the place entirely to ourselves. The dogs loved it.

3. Starts with F. Fingerless gloves. I finished making these recently using the foolproof side to side method and then slip stitching down the side leaving a thumb hole. It’s ideal for using up a random ball of yarn that you’ve lost the ball band for and can’t remember whether it’s dk or Aran, or chunky for that matter. It makes perfect tailor made gloves every time. All I need to do now is be less plain and add embellishments!

4. Paper. Despite various crochet planning apps and even an app for a crochet journal I don’t think I’m likely to ever replace good old paper and pen with anything digital. I have a box of these small pads with various crochet notes inside and one day I’m planning on transferring them to a handwritten journal for future reference. Just my hat notes alone would be a handy section to write up instead of working it all out from scratch every time I start one.

5. Neat. I wouldn’t say I was a neat freak but there are some things that need a little order so I find myself trying to keep my little bureau neat and tidy at least. It contains a hundred million random items and I know exactly where each of them are.

6. Street. I most probably take a photo of this very same street every time I go to York. It’s so Dickens and Harry Potter and just makes you feel like you should be wearing something quite different from jeans.

7. Kettle. Once upon a time I’d use a kettle six times a day at the very least. Now it’s far less because we use a coffee machine. My favourite kettle though, is our Kelly Kettle which runs on little twigs or pine cones set alight in the fire cavity. In order to use this I have to drag M out in the car, find some remote lay-by, take the dogs for as long a walk as he can manage and then suggest a freshly brewed mug of tea before setting off for home. It always tastes better in the open air!

8. Unexpected. Walking back to E’s little car to find a very bad driver trying to reverse out of the next parking bay. It probably would have helped if she’d had a booster seat and been able to see over the steering wheel. She was a very small woman in a very big car. Beware! In future I will be keeping the battery ticking over by driving round the village.

9. Vase. If you’ve been following for a while you’ll know that vase comes under the category ‘girly things that I don’t like’. Well they used to in the days before I discovered that they also come without flowers printed or painted onto them! This green one was a recent acquisition. I’d love to know who or where this potter with the mark Hy is. I’ve got quite a few pieces collected mainly from charity shops over the years. I like this piece for its simplicity and the fact that it only takes one stem of something for it to look artistic!

10. Own choice. Harvey, the dog we’ve had from a pup. The dog I taught to sit, wait, find it, fetch, bring it here, lie down, who now does all of this roughly in that order and never gives up hope that you’ll throw something for him. When winter sets in and I’m sweeping mud up from the floor daily, soaking mud balls out of his pads in the sink, trekking through boggy fields, wrecking my car boot with mud, dog slobber and stagnant pond smell, hoovering prairie dog hair dust balls from the hall way… I always think to myself, he’s worth every bit of that hard work. I can’t imagine life without a Spaniel, or two!

Thank you Hawthorn for hosting the photo hunt. http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/october-scavenger-hunt-link-up-party.html

Simple

It was a beautiful day last Tuesday. I loaded the dogs into the boot (they now only seem to argue on the way home but never on the way there) and we set off for our nature reserve trek. It was shorts and t shirt weather and yet we didn’t come across a single soul. This is the way I like it. Harvey is always focussed and rarely takes any notice of other dogs but Riley can get verbal if a dog is on a lead which some owners take the wrong way. I reassure them he’s all mouth and no trousers and a quick ‘this way’ will make him run on.

We finished with the usual dunk in the stream to rinse off any unpleasant fox substances and on the drive home I thought it would be a good day to throw a few things in a bag and head off to the caravan. I must confess I don’t particularly enjoy this drive. I’ve said before it’s got many turn offs and in counties I’m just not familiar with but it’s worth the effort. I managed it without satnav too but there were a couple of roundabouts I went round twice just to make sure I was going to take the right exit.

Somewhere between 3 and 4 some kind of lorry veered from one side of a dual carriageway through the central reservation and over to the other side, hitting some cars on the way. This was within the time frame I travelled down this stretch of road and I counted myself extremely lucky to have missed it. The direction I was travelling was clear and the other side had tailbacks miles and miles long where they’d closed the road. When I was much younger I remember leaving my grandparents house after a visit and getting stuck on the M25 for over three hours with my Springer at the time, Algie. I was in the middle lane and we were all stationary. I took the dog out for a wee and then got back in the car and unwrapped the huge bread pudding Nan had made me and washed it down with the cans of Lilt she’d also packed. To my knowledge I never left their house for a journey without provisions for unforeseen events like this one and on this particular day I was extremely grateful despite the fact I’ve never really liked bread pudding! Algie had quite a good portion too.

It was good to get away from all things manly this week. M and J seem to think they can get away with shouting from one side of the house to the other about football scores now that E has moved out. It also seems to be the only thing discussed round here lately too. I downloaded a couple of documentaries and films that I knew M would never watch with me before I left but between dog walking, crochet a couple of good books I didn’t get round to watching them.

The simple week, cooking for one, walking with one dog, deciding for myself how to carve up my day, watching wildlife, sleeping when tired, waking naturally, achieving so much more on projects that I can barely concentrate on when home did eventually make me start to evaluate the the role of social media, blogging and having a phone with me at all times. I’ve always read other bloggers wobbles with the task of blogging and secretly thought that as long as you blog for yourself and don’t try to be anything that you’re not then there would be no reason to get disillusioned with the process. I think this is why I’ve never wanted to blog in a commercial way and why I’ve been happy for this long, just tapping away and recording events and thoughts.

M and I have agreed that our seasonal pitch worked well for us this year. I’ve put in a request that we try and find a site that is no more than an hour away from home next year. At this distance I can nip home if J needs me, not that he has, he’s like me, he values time alone. We’ve got a few weeks left before we bring our caravan home and therefore only a few more windows when we can make use of it. On this trip I made sure I revisited some of the scenic places we’d enjoyed most so on Friday and Saturday when M had time off we took Riley to the Tissington Trail section where we can park, walk as far as M can manage and then have tea and a snack before returning to the car. With light coats on it was warm enough to sit outside for the tea and watch walkers and cyclists go by. I’d really like M to consider an all terrain motibility vehicle of some kind so that we can take proper walks together. It’s so frustrating knowing that I could be walking miles and seeing more of the beautiful scenery but have to turn back after such a short distance because M can’t manage it. I’m sympathetic but not when he refuses to be flexible. I know he doesn’t want to look old before his time but I do honestly think that in his shoes I would totally embrace this solution if it meant getting some fresh air and enjoying the dogs more. I will keep working on him!

On Saturday my suggestion to do the short walk from car park to the Stepping Stones at Dovedale went down like a lead balloon so I came up with the idea of finding the book store that we’d stumbled across on the way back from Buxton previously. It was a little bit further out than we remembered but well worth the scenic drive out there. It’s called the High Peak Book Store and it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It’s dog friendly which was nice because Riley doesn’t like being left alone and he made quite a few friends amongst the staff and customers. He looked very well behaved when in fact he was just subdued and less bouncy than usual because it was a new place. He was also allowed into the cafe area and was given dog treats by one of the lovely ladies that worked there. It’s an excellent cafe, decorated in that rustic, eclectic, vintage type of look we like. I only took the one photo because people were eating in the other angles. Although we have quite a lot of books at home we bought a modest pile of paperbacks and I found a great book about rustic approaches to jewellery making to give myself a bit of a nudge with that once more. M liked the sprinkling of comfy leather chairs throughout the shop so that he could take a selection, sit down and study the blurb. He takes an awfully long time to decide whether he will enjoy a book or not which I don’t mind so much when I’m sitting comfortably too! We both agreed that if it was local to us we would probably have coffee there every Saturday morning and leave with a few books.

Talking of which, I’ve read a few good ones lately. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain was very enjoyable. I’ve read quite a few by her and loved them all. I’ve just started ‘This Must be the Place’ by Maggie O’Farrell which seems good so far. I’ve enjoyed other books by her too. I’ve had a big long spell of not reading so much because I’ve preferred to use my down time to crochet but lately I’m consciously trying to accommodate both.

With E now firmly settled in at university I thought I would be a bit of an emotional wreck. On the day of the move I got as far as the car park and when she hopped out to go and get the keys with that mixture of fear and excitement on her face only a mother could recognise I just temporarily lost it and had a bit of a gulping sob whilst telling M to talk about something that would make me recover and quickly! Poor chap didn’t know what to talk about but I did eventually compose myself in good time for her return. I haven’t blubbed since. She has an excellent room, her own bathroom, a big kitchen and she’s a student at one of the most impressively organised and efficient universities I’ve ever come across. Across the city she has a friend who moved in the day before and messaged E to ask her what number she should put her thermostat on. We suggested twenty one and she was astounded, having set it at ten and wondered why she was cold. It seems not all 18 year olds have been encouraged to learn how to feed themselves before leaving home. Although E is branching out and making mashed potato from real potatoes (imagine!) she is making proper meals with meat, vegetables and potato. Previously she was more of a scrambled eggs on toast or bacon sandwich kind of chef. One of her flat mates destroyed four eggs before successfully managing to boil one for his main evening meal. I fear these Mums have done too much for their sons. J is three years younger and if it goes in the oven or microwave he’s happy to cook it. He’s not so keen on saucepan items for some reason but we will be working in that before he goes to uni. I will never worry that he’s not getting his five a day because he’s always eaten mountains of fruit and lately he chops everything and puts it in a blender to make fruit smoothies. He’s probably already ahead of another of E’s flat mates who thought dried pasta had to be kept in the fridge!

April

Taking part in K’s last photo scavenger hunt was fun. I thought I’d join in again. When I first started blogging I seem to remember doing a monthly mosaic for all of, er, two or three months. I’m easily distracted! It’s a nice way to look back on what has been achieved or taken place. So here we go…

(The large photo at the top is for number 9, ‘R’. The rest are in order from left to right.)

1. New: never give your dogs an old slipper each to play with, they will think that any footwear is up for grabs. When I like something I stick to it and it was tricky trying to find these Birkenstock Bostons again so they are kept on the top shelf of the shoe rack at night now.

2. Rust: close up rust on one of M’s work trestles, as I was casually wandering around with my phone macro lens, as you do.

3. Box: why on earth are Amazon still over packaging? Grrrr.

4. Ingredients: my mission in life is to stop M buying twenty ingredients every time he gets the urge to cook something ‘tasty’. So I offer up any recipe I can find with less than six. This is pea and macaroni, peas, macaroni, Parmesan, basil and olive oil. It’s yum!

5. D: dogs, always dogs. Hard work, demanding, loyal, playful, muddy, naughty, wet, stinky, hairy, expensive, noisy, funny, loving, companionable, protective, amusing, photogenic.

6. Mechanical: my new yarn swift is about as mechanical as I like it these days. Simple, wooden, easy to fix when it goes wrong.

7. Seasonal: cricket season is here once more. Now that J is 6’3 and 16 I am not allowed to do the embarrassing Mum with a camera routine so this snap is from about six years ago when he still had lovely wavy blonde hair (ha, who says I can’t still be embarrassing?!).

8. Recently finished: never thought I’d get there but very pleased that I did, one finished Last Dance on the Beach blanket!

9. R: Riley. Sometimes the best things in life are purely by chance. E saw a Facebook post from someone at her school wanting to rehome a four year old Springer. A few of her friends said, you’ve got a Springer, what difference would one more make? I did the sensible responsible adult for, oo, five minutes maybe and then said, quick, let’s go and see him. Whereas Harvey is loving, playful and loves fetching, Riley is completely nuts in every way.

10. Own: coffee, we have been lucky enough recently to start most days with a freshly brewed coffee in one of several favourite local coffee places. We chat, I often look at the back of his phone and want to throw it in the nearest canal, we chat some more, we watch people going by, we often do crosswords, we have been known to play backgammon, but mostly we just savour the coffee.

http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/aprils-link-up-photo-scavenger-hunt.html

Thanks K!

Fifth


Another pair of cosy cables done and dusted. The fifth pair made from this pattern. I’m finally pleased with the sizing on this pair. I’ve made a note on my pattern sheet to use the recommended size for large, one size down for medium and two sizes down for small. That’s still on the generous side fit-wise but I guess they aren’t meant to be too closely fitted.

Next on my to make list is a pair in a black grey mix yarn to see if they’d be suitable for a certain tall, thin boy of mine. If they still look girly I will find another fingerless glove pattern. The mornings here are now well and truly chilly. We’ve had a spectacular wind and rain session this morning which seems to have relieved the trees of their remaining leaves. I blinked and autumn was over and winter is here.