Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Busy, busy, busy

Well, my dears, one can only describe the past ten days or more as busy, why I really cannot think where to begin. Perhaps 'tis best to start with our dear little home.

You may remember that each year we review the fabric of the house, consider the upkeep required and projects to be undertaken? Dear souls it has been full steam ahead, taking advantage of the good weather and utilising it for the better. Once again one must credit the small but merry band of workmen that we are most fortunate to have available to us. It has been most gratifying to see the work come together as they weave around one another to ensure timely completion of their individual crafts. Such delightful gentlemen. The male guardian and I bought this small estate in the knowledge that one could not afford to undertake major restoration all at once, therefore, we set ourselves a twenty five year plan to slowly but surely safeguard and maintain our home. My dears, we are nearing the end of the plan but the benefit of following our plan has allowed us to learn about our home, how the light affects it, how the weather can batter it and, importantly, how the essential rhythmic ebb and flow our daily lives affects it. When we arrived, it was a cold, damp, draughty building with a small amount of surrounding land that required a moderate amount of love and attention. Like any old estate it will need to be maintained and we are merely guardians for our time, preserving it, one hopes, for generations to come. For now, we are enjoying the fruits of our, and our merry band of workmens,  labours and what joy it does give. A lawyer, Mr Edward Coke,  in 1628 was credited with the Maxim "an Englishman's home is his castle" never more true today, I do believe, although perhaps the term "Englishperson's" would be more appropriate in these modern times.

The second woollen garment bound for the Australias is now in full production, growing stitch by stitch, day by day. Such a delightfully enjoyable pastime and so gratifying to produce such a useful garment. I was, this very day, the recipient of THE most finest knitted socks from a most generous individual who has taught male and female alike, across the generations, to knit woollen socks. My dears, they really are the most exquisitely stitched pair of socks, why I was quite beside myself with surprise and delight. Quite the most generous of gestures do you not agree?

We do hope you too have been enjoying the recent spell of warm weather though, as many a gardener can be heard muttering, we do need some rain for the garden. Happy pootling my dears.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Oh my, my....

Goodness gracious, my dears, what on earth has happened to the great British weather? Normally variable with a tendency to the inclement, we are quite unbelievably enduring scorching temperatures - why, 'tis almost as if the world be upside down. Being fair of complexion and typically British, one does not "do" heat. The male guardian on the other hand is, as you know, inordinately fond of warm weather, although, even he endures it when going about his professional toil. Quite how the Australian contingent regularly cope with temperatures above 30 degrees during their summer months is beyond one's belief. I am not overly keen on anything too much above 20 degrees, it has to be said, especially when at toil. In our small country home, blinds remain at half mast and windows flung wide at night to aid sleeping, for it is most difficult to be comfortable with night time temperatures at 15 degrees and above - one is more used to seeing the mist of one's breath billowing forth in the cold night air than basking in warmth. I have no doubt the weather front will break soon and our usual service resumed. 

The second woollen garment bound for the Australias grows bit by bit, day by day, painstakingly slow, but it grows. Certainly a labour of love in this heat. Delightful mindfulness, click, click, click, the brain and mind intent on the growing garment, such a delightful state after a day of toil and, particularly, whilst waiting for the heat of the day to dissipate.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Such fun....

Well, my dears, what a glorious day and not least due to the glorious sunshine we have enjoyed (or endured, whatever your particular penchant happens to be). The male guardian was once again duty bound, much to his consternation, in view of the sunshine of which he is more than a little fond, it has to be said. I was most fortunate in that I was to be attending a short course in the basement of a building where the art of Lino cutting was being taught. Outward bound early this very morn, I collected two girl friends who also happen to be colleagues, and we set forth with open minds to attempt the aforementioned art form. Dear reader, what fun we did have with a delightful time had by all - my companions really are quite gifted, producing some very nice images indeed - differing in style and form but really quite something to behold. It was a small group of eight which afforded the gentleman tutor time with each of us. The anticipation and thrill of the first print was palpable. Lino cutting took a little time to comprehend in that it requires the removal of sections of Lino that one's brain really believes to the contrary. After a number of false starts, we were away and the many images left in the drying racks for later completion showed an array of skills from experienced through to beginner (the latter bracket, my dears, One is happy to inhabit for there were a number of experienced and gifted students whose work was indeed an art form) and oh, what a lovely group of people. A thoroughly good day, with the next eagerly awaited to complete one's prints.  Oh the simple pleasure in making and producing is so enriching; learning new skills, grasping new concepts and bringing them all together to form a piece of art (of sorts, in my own case). So very good for the brain  too, to be challenged and stretched - so vital to keep one's brain working and moving forward.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Mid summer is nigh

Oh, how I do love an English summer with the mix of burgeoning flower beds, roses aplenty, the air scented with philadelphus, birdsong and bees abuzz with delight at the plentiful nectar; all so delightfully interspersed with a fine English downpour to refresh the air, blow away the cobwebs and start again. If we are fortunate, there are big blue skies with cotton wool clouds, or more oft than not, grey with darkening, looming clouds building to drench the land. No matter, for the light fades late in the evening and the dawn is announced with the sweet melody of birdsong at an early hour. Mid summer is nigh upon us and the summer solstice announces the beginning of shorter days. I can scarce believe we are here already, but here we are, my dears.

Our busyness continues with boundary hedges given a light trimming, lawns kept tidy and short, new growth monitored, plus regular dead heading of faded blooms. Such a joyous and plentiful time of year.

As I await the return of the male guardian from his professional toil, my hands are kept busy at the needles and lo, the first garment bound for the Australias is complete with the second begun. I am most pleased with the result and cannot wait to have it delivered to its intended recipient once the second is also complete. Click, click, click go the needles at any slight opportunity - a row here, a row there, all increasing the garment stitch by stitch. The male guardian can oft be heard quoting,
 "slow and steady wins the race" a maxim I am sure many of you are familiar with in the wisdom of the Aesop Fable,  " The Tortoise and The Hare", a most delightful maxim and lesson in morality for life itself. How interwoven in one's psyche they become, barely discerning when or how they were taught or, indeed, learnt. My dear late parents, however, were ardent readers and I remember a most delightful copy of Aesop's Fable residing in the bookcase on the upper landing, complete with beautiful illustrations. Why, one really should obtain a copy for one's own library.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

"When I'm an old lady, I shall wear purple...."

One is never too old to learn tricks nor new skills it would seem. A dear friend and colleague is quite THE most amazing seamstress, making all of her own clothes. Her eye for colour, texture, pattern shape and form really is a revelation, my dears. I do not believe I have met such an amazing seamstress, apologies to those of my siblings who undertake this art, but one really must praise such skill. Her attention to the finest of detail is something to behold. If a certain type of fabric is required but the colour not right, why she simply changes the colour of her chosen material. It is from this dear soul I have learnt the art of revamping my wardrobe with the simple skill of dyeing - such a discovery, my dears. With advice from my experienced friend ringing in my ears, I made a hasty early morning visit to the local hardware store (I do love a hardware store). The choice really was quite difficult but, the chosen colour selected, purchased and I was homeward bound before many souls had even ventured out for the day. Oh the excitement and wonder of this tantalising alchemy. Amongst the laundry now flapping gently in the breeze is a beautiful linen apron dress that I have dyed to a most exquisite French lavender shade upon the instruction of my most talented friend. My dears, how simple yet so clever and, it has to be said, practical. I do believe I am smitten with this simple skill and t'will not be last you hear of my ventures in to this chameleon like art.

The woollen garment bound for the Australias grows at a steady rate and now has two sides and a sleeve complete, with the second sleeve on the needles. I really am rather taken with both the shade and form; this pattern will become a firm favourite to use in years to come, such is its simplicity. I do not believe it should be too long before the second garment is in the making. As many fellow knitters will affirm, the next project is never far from one's thoughts; it is with this in mind that I have been perusing the vast collection of patterns for a short cardigan. The joy in looking, considering and pondering both the pattern and the wool is quite a delicious process that I am enjoying very much whilst my needles are busy. My talented seamstress friend and I both glory in the type of establishment that stocks our chosen craft materials and can spend hours lost in texture, colour or pattern. Yet another simple but remarkably practical pleasure to be had, with the additional joy in a completed garment.