Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year 2010

You can't beat a Pavlova for parties and this was one I made earlier this week, eaten into of course, they don't last 5 seconds in this house.......

Recipe for my foolproof Pav follows:-

5 egg whites always free range and I use large ones
8 oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon corn flour

that makes the meringue and then it's up to you for the filling but double cream and Greek yoghurt in equal quantities work well and then add fruit of choice and sprinkle on grated chocolate or icing sugar.

4 oz double cream (you can use more)

4 oz Greek yoghurt (again how much you use is up to you)
chocolate or icing sugar


Place egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl and don't allow any yolk in there, then beat like hell until stiff.
I use a mixer. Once the white foam has turned into ripply looking folds and the mix is stiff (some people even turn the bowl upside down to see if it moves - they like to live dangerously ha ha...) -  add the sugar in 3 goes and beat in between additions.  Lastly beat in the corn flour and then beat in the vinegar. Spoon onto an oven proof container (I use a flat greased pizza tin) make a rough circle with a hole in the middle.
Bake at 180 deg for only 5 minutes until it just starts to turn slightly brown on the peaks of the meringue, then lower the temperature to 120 deg and cook for another 50 to 55 minutes. The thing is you are now very slowly setting the meringue.

Whip the cream until thick but don't over whip so it goes hard looking, then fold in the yoghurt. Spoon half into the hole in the centre and put half into a piping bag with a large star nozzle. Then pipe it in a swirly ring around the top of the circle of meringue. Decorate with fruit however you like, then sprinkle on the chocolate or sieve on the icing sugar. Enjoy as soon as possible.

Lastly, Sarah Payne one of the Advent Bloggers who did all the days, good show Sarah, is having a celebratory give away of some lovely yummy silk paper making goodies, beads and other stuff, so if you go to her blog you can enter to try and win the freebies.  I am going to go there now before the rest of you do...............

I hope you win, and have a happy and peaceful 2011.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Another quilt convert

Check out Lisa Lam at uhandbag who has just made her first quilt, and now she knows how addictive it is......anyway go see it on her blog, the colours are wonderful. Well done Lisa, join the quilting club....

Interestingly she has used the new Janome Horizon a sewing machine which looks awesome, I have had my eye on it......But where would I put it, maybe I need a bigger house?

Monday, 27 December 2010

Birdfeeder Battle! - More Nyger seed is the answer

Well this morning, 2 more Lesser Redpolls arrived, which now makes 4 and then 4 Siskins turned up.  All of them at the one Nyger seed feeder designed for a cosy pair......So after the inevitable tussles and wing displays and seeing each other off I darted out and took another feeder to them full of Nyger seed. I am now hoping they all settle down.  I was not able to photograph this as it's still snowy slush outside so was not in the mood for cameras too.  So the moral of this tale is if you want to attract Lesser Redpolls which are on the red endangered list then get in some Nyger seed, it's little black seeds, they don't feed on anything else at all. Lesser Redpolls it says on the RSPB site are often seen in flocks with Siskins, so I suppose my breeding pair of Redpolls were invaded this morning by a marauding flock. Anyway, I don't mind as long as they are all fed. Phew................ I am going to do some reading of the 5 books DH gave me for Christmas, he spoilt me with some new waterproof warm Gortex gloves too as I had been complaining about cold hands on the last two mountains I was up. Deliberate on my part I have to add ;-) because he had invested in a pair of waterproof gloves last month.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Day 24 Advent Challenge Made it, 24 posts and not one missed

Well I did it. I think in retrospect it is not as difficult as it seems. Next year you should try it too as I have had loads of fun reading the other blogs. So thanks to Gina for coming up with the idea and I hope she instigates one next year too.

Meanwhile I have a message to share with you via an ecard, if you don't like them then don't click on the link but if you do put your sound on and be ready to click your mouse on the snowballs...........

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Day 23 Advent Challenge A breeding pair

I can't tell you how much pleasure I am having from seeing the Lesser Redpolls come to the feeder each day. Yesterday I snapped away and when I checked the photos found some real gems. What I had hoped was true, they are a breeding pair, the male on the right with the pinker breast and his female on the left. With the wonders of Corel Photopaint I have slightly enhanced the colours so you can clearly see them. I am crossing my fingers for this pair to stay and breed next year and will certainly do all I can to encourage them. Meanwhile, we had another visitor to the bird feast yesterday, a male Reed Bunting, now I have had one of these in the garden before. I took a photo but he was on the ground and much shyer than the Redpolls so it did not pass my strict photo censorship as I like to try and keep standards up.....

I am also still working on the Christmas presents and I have done a few up, this one is under the tree awaiting it's fate. Strangely, this one was bought by Bella for DH. Now I wonder how a Border Terrier managed that!  hmmm and how did she know to buy something in '0' Gauge?

I am going to go for the Turkey Crown later today, we only have the 2 of us and Bella so a whole turkey would just be impossible to eat. I have opted for a free range, organic, Soil Association Certified, bronze feathered bird this year, but please don't mention this to my friends above.........shhhhh

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Day 22 Advent Challenge Did the earth move for you too?

Well it did here in Keswick....

This link gives the info on last night's earthquake. It was at 11pm when DH said his door shook upstairs and I heard the rumble in my den.  Anyway, we looked out of the window and saw another chap doing the same but all was quiet on the street, no bedlam or panic, only our white icy winter wonderland which has gripped us now for what seems like a month!

I had been engrossed for the earlier part of the night in my floral arrangement above the mantlepiece in my den.  This is the before photo, and I hope you can see the different foliage I used, namely, holly, ivy, fir tree and Cupressus with a couple of candles for good measure, not to be lit mind....

The clock was made for me by DH after we collected shells whilst on holiday camping on the Dingle Peninsular years ago when we were right by the sand dunes which led onto the beach. Twice a day Jock and Bramble our two lovely Parson Jack Russell Terriers used to charge at full gallop down the beach. That's when we collected the shells. I am afraid they are now rather blacker and dirtier on the top of the glaze as the clock has been over the wood burner for about 8 years now! Never mind, I have a second clock constructed on similar lines in the hall which is pristine. The painting is by my Dad and it's a fox he did the winter before he died and I always keep it in my room. I love this little painting because I always think he was as clever as a fox.....He was only an amateur though not like DH who was an art student at Maidstone College of Art when I met him.

Anyway, onto the second photo which is the after..............what do you think? is it an improvement?

These are the lights I went to Ambleside to buy at Hayes Garden Centre, you see I used to have a set which did this lovely slow fade in rotation so not all the lights went out at the same time. They were leftovers from DD's move to California and I inherited them along with lots of other Christmas decorations when she went. But a couple of years ago some of the bulbs failed and I did't know which voltage to replace them with. So after searching in vain I decided to send them to the re cycling centre. That meant no slow fade lights last year and that meant no arrangement over my wood burner which kinda spoilt the effect in my den.......So I was really pleased to find a similar set when searching on the internet at Hayes. This is showing them all on together not on slow fade but I did need to get a lighter photo.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Day 21 Advent Challenge I see the moon, the moon sees me......

Now that title is in a song but I can't get past those few lines, does anyone know how it goes?

I did see the eclipse this morning through the bedroom window and I was not going to open it for anything as it was -14 outside!  Anyway, I snapped away with my camera but none of the results were good enough for this blog; I do have some standards. By way of a substitute then, I am showing you a kitchen cupboard the way I like to display it with my dryed hydrangeas on top.  Each autumn I replenish them so they stay fresh looking as in my opinion there is nothing worse than old, tired, dusty flower arrangements. I usually add a few fairy lights at Christmas and they look pretty in the kitchen at night when all the other lights are out.  So I am gradually decorating the house with a little bit new each day.

This afternoon, Bella and I went for a walk in the woods and picked some wild ivy and a few little snips of fir tree from Hope Park..... I went round the back of the tree and took a little from there. The result will be shown soon as I am still arranging the foliage at the moment and broke off to do this blog because I suddenly realised that time was ticking away again......So I must go or else.......

Monday, 20 December 2010

Day 20 Advent Challenge "4 & 20 Blackbirds, baked in a pie......."

Actually not quite that many, but I had 14 Blackbirds eating apples on my lawn yesterday, so this morning I went into the greenhouse and found some more lovely red apples I had left in there which were still good enough for the birds but not for us and tossed them onto the lawn where the Blackbirds could find them. Then I went to Ambleside on the bus because I wanted to go to Hayes Garden Centre for some new Christmas lights.

When I returned the apples were gone and only a few Blackbirds remained, very fat Blackbirds they were too.

When I arrived back in Keswick off the bus I was dying for a good coffee so I went into one of Keswick's best known secrets, Peter Sidwell's  also known as simplygoodtaste.  He is a local celebrity chef and runs a fab cafe which also makes very good bread. He has written some cookery books and one of them is all about bread; it's funny he uses Carr's flours too, just like me.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Day 19 Advent Challenge A quiet town today

Not many people seem to have braved the snow and bad roads to come to Keswick today.  I noticed the shops were not doing any brisk trade. I like it when the town is not so full of visitors though because it seems more normal that way to me. We popped out to deliver our local Christmas cards by hand ourselves, something which has become a habit now.  In contrast to the town my garden has been seething with birds this afternoon. I counted 14 Blackbirds mostly eating the fallen apples on the lawn, I make a point of leaving some for them because I know they need this extra nutrition.

Anyway, as you see I made the door wreath this morning and used some lovely small pieces of variegated holly I snipped off in Fitz Park. Now the other day I saw a person really taking a lot of holly from the park, I must say I try to take a few small pieces from the back of the bushes usually. However, most of the holly with the red berries was collected in the wild yesterday along with the fine grey fir tree fronds which only grow wild in one place, so I am not going to let you into my secret......When I was doing my City & Guilds Flower Arranging course, my tutor was Eva Gardner and she was a case.... she used to say that she always snipped a little bit here and there when the owners were not looking! And she always put some foliage at the back of her designs 'for the Vicar'. I finished off the arrangement by wrapping some red ribbon around 3 cinnamon sticks and attaching them to the wreath just to give it a bit of a lift. Eva always taught us to make the central placements last and to choose something which highlighted the design. I wish I did more flower arranging as I miss it, maybe I will this Christmas for fun.......

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Day 18 Advent Challenge Dusk and the garden goes to sleep

I love that time of day in winter with the snow lying when you can turn on the outside lights and watch them twinkle against the frosty snow. This is one of my mature apple trees and I keep a set of lights in it for Christmas time and sometimes during the summer for lighting the garden. You can just see the moon through the tall branches trying to peep out from behind a cloud. The little birds have all gone to bed, and yes the 2 pretty little Lesser Redpolls were back feeding away today. There was a very funny moment when a male blackbird decided to chase a thrush which had taken a liking to the meal worms on the birdtable.....They chased into this tree and sat there a while before resuming hostilities and flying off with ruffled dignity and feathers......

My Christmas tree is all aglow too but I have not finished decorating yet as I like to do a little each day to make it all more interesting. So I have a wreath to make for the front door, and the holly is as I speak sitting in deep water so it gets a good drink first. I have other plans for other rooms too but there is still loads of time.  DD emailed to say her parcel had arrived and she had opened the box and had been feeling the pressies....... I hope you took Wallace and Gromets advice about the last posting date, as it's now gone I am removing their warning. Don't forget that the list top right contains all the other bloggers doing the Advent Challenge and trying to post something everyday. There is some good stuff there.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Day 17 Advent Challenge just a quicky before I decorate the tree.....

I have been graced or rather my garden has been, with the presence of 2 very special little birds. At first I thought I saw a Linnet but no, today there was no mistake and there were 2, you can just see the other forked tale on the left as its feeding from the other side. The little red markings on the head are the giveaway. Yes they are Lesser Redpolls and they are on the red endangered list! All day these little birds have been at my seed feeder, pecking away.  So I popped down to my favourite pet store Podgy Paws and bought some more Nyger Seed and also Bella's favourite 'sweeties' dog training treats actually.

Anyway, this is a short visit because the tree awaits in the lounge and I have to make a start..........

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Day 16 Advent Challenge times running out.......

Well it is today, as I have been a busy bee again. DH has been making cards today and I have been printing them and helping out too. I have started finding the decorations from their various hiding places around the house and now have a motley assortment of fairy lights on my desk to check to see if they are still working.  There is nothing worse than your lights failing once they are on the tree. That's happened to me twice and it's not funny, is it? The last time I think a little dog's teeth had chewed through the wire.............I once had a pet rabbit of my DD's do the same and it chewed through the collar of a good jacket too.

Anyway, the clock above is part of a collection which came my way when DD left for California, I still have a lot of her things here and this clock hangs on the kitchen wall by the door. I love it because it's big and makes a ticking noise and she said she bought it because it reminded her of the one in the nursery rhyme 'Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock.  Well this is my mouse for Christmas....It's better than the real thing believe me!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Day 15 Advent Challenge Bought the tree, yippee!

Yes, we went to Whinlatter and chose a Nordman Fir for the first time, our usual tree is a Norwegian Spruce but they all looked a bit bushy round the bottom without much stalk.  It's being conditioned in a bucket of deep cold water in the garden with the old end cut off to expose new wood which will take up the water more easily. I will leave it there a couple of days though because that's how long it needs to condition. You see one of my skills is Flower Arranging or at least it used to be, as I have a City & Guilds in it, although it was a few years ago now and I don't often 'arrange'.  But I like to at Christmas and will try harder this year. (The reason people have 'needle drop' on their trees is because they rush them into the warm house before they are given a really good cold drink.)  It's going to be very cold here tomorrow and may snow again so the tree will be in it's element outside too.

The ducks used to have pate in them and they sit on my dresser in the kitchen and I usually try and buy another one each year but Booths Supermarket are not displaying any this year ...... I wonder why? They have been putting them out on the Christmas shelves every year for many years but none this year, blast.... I especially wanted to buy one because a friend admired them in the summer and I thought I would buy one as a gift for her, eat the pate first mind because she usually comes up in the Summer. If you see any, will you let me know where?

Tonight we are starting to design the cards and we have already chosen a photo we like and bought some lovely bright red card for the backing.........

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Day 14 Advent Challenge - rest and be thankful

Yes, that's what I did all day.  I took time off after the exertions of the whole weekend on that 16 hour course. I needed to re charge the batteries so I read my current book by Jenny Uglow, 'A Gambling Man' her work on Charles 2nd. I did study the English Civil War and its aftermath with Professor Austen Woolrych at Lancaster so I have a fair number of academic tomes on the subject. However, I have not dipped my toes into this water for some time and DH had bought this book in the Autumn and enjoyed it so I picked it up last week and became engrossed too. The good thing about studying history now a days is of course the internet. As soon as you come across a new character you can quickly look them up and even Google for images of their portraits. I did spend at least an hour looking at Sir Peter Lely portraits this afternoon which was enchanting. I love the sleepy eyed beauties he painted in the style of Barbara Villiers one of the King's notorious mistresses. The little snowflake candle charm by the way was picked up in Keswick last Christmas and goes round and round for hours when you light a candle under it, rather like I have been doing on the internet today looking up all the characters in the book.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Day 13 Advent Challenge - I love Cumbria

I make no apologies for loving my adopted county or thinking it the best county in the whole of England..... Ever since I was at infant school whenever we were asked to paint a country scene I always painted mountains, and more mountains and I never tired of it. And do you know what my second choice of country scene was? Yes, you guessed, it I painted lakes, and more lakes.....So what could be more fitting than living in my childhood dream, a county surrounded by mountains and lakes and the most breathtaking scenery. But it is also the food heritage which pleases me most about Cumbria too because it has so much really good food production here. It has always been famous for certain items, after all when we went up Everest we took Kendal Mint Cake, yes I know Kendal used to be in Westmorland until the counties were re organised but it is now Cumbria. Then there is the equally famous Grasmere Gingerbread which is the most mouth watering stuff I can think of that is apart from the Hand Made Fudge at The Toffee Shop in Penrith which is exquisite, moorish and totally out of this world......But there are lesser known gems to be found in Cumbria, take for instance the humble wheat grain...mmm what can she mean? Well Carrs of Carlisle turn this into the best flour money can buy. I have been baking my own bread (without a breadmaker) using only my hands or my faithful Kenwood Chef mixer for over 35 years and this flour has been my staple. The photo shows my last freshly baked loaf of wholemeal bread just taken out of my Remoska.  Of course Carrs are also well known for producing their Table Water Biscuit which was originally developed as a ships biscuit, I never, ever forget to have some in my store cupboard because they are wonderful.

Well I hope this inspires you to stock up with some of these Cumbrian goodies for the festive season, I am going to......

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Day 12 Advent Challenge ITC Outdoors First Aid Course - in the dark

It's quite difficult to do anything when your outside in the dark let alone assess casualties, so I was rather glad when our course today headed for the inside again away from the soggy wet wood we had been grovelling about in.  The last exercise of the day over and we had all passed with flying colours of course, phew that's a relief.  I should now be able to start thinking about the Christmas presents I still have to buy and where I put all the decorations, not least of my problems will be buying the tree.  We always buy a fresh tree, nothing artificial is ever countenanced here. So where do we buy ours? Whinlatter Forest is the place and we usually go up Whinlatter summit first so Bella gets a little exercise too.

Meanwhile, I was given these goodies at our EG Christmas Lunch the other day, I might just have time to have a play with them and make something else too, who knows. I do like to put some home made decorations on the tree and I have a small collection now of little embroidered and sewn items which I use. I am going out to lunch again tomorrow with a friend and we hope to go here as there is a new Orangery part to the cafe and we have not been able to get inside it yet.....It's always packed with people and it's only small, so maybe we will be lucky on a cold Monday in December, fingers crossed.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Day 11 Advent Challenge First Aid is exhausting

I feel a bit like The Tailor of Gloucester from Beatrix Potter's famous book.  We are certainly being given the treatment on this First Aid Course. But to return to this book, it always reminds me of Christmas and it must be my all time favourite Christmas Story, forget about 'The Snowman' and if you have not read it go for it....I just love the way she treats her subject matter and how she involves a naughty cat Simpkin! Did you know that you can read the story online and also see the actual fascsimile of the book with all the illustrations?  I know that the book is deemed public domain in the USA so if you are over there you can view it but I think UK readers are not supposed to. Anyway, for any american followers of this blog, you can legally read the book on the Gutenberg site. For other readers of this blog, go out and buy it for the children or grandchildren or even for yourself, it's magical.....

I am too tired to do much more tonight so I think I will go for a lovely shower as I have been crawling around on the floor most of the day dealing with fake casualties, so until tomorrow take care, when you are doing a first aid course somehow people seem much more precious......

Friday, 10 December 2010

Day 10 Advent Challenge Thin Ice!

This is a view across the lake towards Derwent Island taken on Tuesday, with posts showing which are usually lapped by water.  I did stand on the edge of the ice where it was safe, but no way was I going further out......Last night a big thaw set in and the lake has started to return to normal.  I am pleased temperatures are rising as on Wednesday it was - 14C here but today its 7C or 45F if you just happen to live somewhere hot like those lucky members of the family! But the weathermen say it is going to come back again........ We shall see. The days are not long now until Christmas and I need a push on this stuff below.

Currently, my present buying and wrapping has been sluggish I must admit.  I have two brothers and their wives down south to buy for yet and I am on a 2 day outdoors First Aid Course all weekend because I have to renew my certificate every 3 years and it's nearly run out. So tomorrow and Sunday I shall be up to my eyes in triangular bandages and CPR.  They pitch some of the training outside to make it more authentic too so I am glad the ice is receding as I didn't fancy grovelling about in the snow on my hands and knees assessing casualties............wish me luck, I am going to need it.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Day 9 Advent Challenge Gotcha!

This was the best I could do with Robin because he is a secretive little bird and refused to stay for long or to pose, this is also taken through the window of my den so it is not as clear as it should be. But I did get my Advent Robin. He is very fluffed up because this was when the temperature was about -9C, so he is a very round robin ha ha....

Today was the Embroiderers' Guild Christmas Lunch at the Horse and Farrier, Threlkeld and a jolly event it was too.  I had a Parma Ham and melon starter which was very good indeed and then traditional turkey followed by Key Lime Pie. Then we had their own mulled wine which was delicious, followed by coffee, mince pies and mint chocolate. To be fair I took a doggie bag for Bella and brought her home 3 slices of turkey and a chipolata sausage wrapped in bacon too.  Needless to say this was enjoyed once it was all chopped up on a plate, she is a well brought up little dog and does not wolf her food but she did grab the sausage out of my hand when teased.........then dropped it onto the floor to try and chew it demurely......  No photos of this event except for a rather fetching reindeer all lit up in the window.

I found a rather good countdown reminder about the last Christmas post on the Post Office website and placed it at the top of the blog to remind you and me about those ticking away days....... Also you will see below it the list of all the mad bloggers who have accepted the Advent Challenge. I am enjoying looking at their postings every day and hope you will pop by them too. The good thing is that everyone of us has a different approach to this thing so it is lots of fun.....

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Day 8 Advent Challenge relaxing by the fireside and dog psychology

Well today has been all about working on the website for Border Miniatures and putting on the new kits and castings which are available. It should be done soon, but I am taking a break from it to continue with this challenge because I need a warm up. As you can see from the photo, I have a wood burning stove in my den downstairs and it's going full blast today as the temperature is 28F or -2C which ever you are used to. Upstairs on the Border Mins machine is a tad colder, hence the need to sit here at my cosy laptop and blog away..... Bella has moved into the hall because she was getting too warm, and because that is where I keep a basket with old newspapers inside it for lighting the fire with and she likes to snuggle down amongst the papers and get comfy as it is one of her favourite places to snooze around the house. She has this thing about finding little hiding places and often when she is in the hall (the basket is in a recess under the stairs) I walk past looking for her; she smugly keeps her nose down until I realise where she is.....  Another favourite hiding place is behind my Horn sewing cabinet when the door is open, she sneaks behind it and lays down with just her nose showing underneath the door......and thinks I don't know where she is. mmm

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Day 7 Advent Challenge late again ;-)

I thought you might like to see the effort some people make in my home town to decorate the shop windows. For instance someone posted a gingerbread house on one of the advent blogs the other day (can't remember who) but anyway it made me realise that there is an art to this gingerbread stuff, so feast your eyes on this....

A whole trainload of gingerbread, wow that must have taken ages to make, it even has two trucks loaded with goodies......mouth watering..  This is the famous window of Bryson's bakers in the Main Street Keswick and they are always up for a challenge at Christmas. Last year's was very sparkly with a white Disney effect castle and other stuff, but this is better.

By the way Derwentwater is frozen over again, and we went down for a closer look and it is white with snow and ice and completely covered.  The ice is too thin at the moment to walk on like last year but I did venture out a little way for a photo and maybe I will show you it tomorrow....I don't think you will forgive me if all I ever show is photo's of ice and snow...... Anyway the other news was disappointing but inevitable I suppose given the freezing conditions (tonight it's going to be - 11C) as the Cumbria Patchworkers party tomorrow has been postponed because there are 20 of us quilters and some of us live in very remote areas of Cumbria with frozen solid back roads so its off until January now. Never mind we will have Christmas all over again when everyone else is sick of it.....

Speaking of sick of it this was the visitor to one of my bird tables today, not what I wanted of course...

I want an Advent robin as you know and one did fleetingly and tantalisingly land on the bird table for a couple of seconds, so I grabbed the ever ready camera and it flew off..........annoying bird. But there are still many days and blog posts to go yet and I am determined. DH has been reading this stuff and his comments were "I don't have to make a meal of it", a photo and a few words would do, says he. So tonight as it's a bit late I will take his advice.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Day 6 Advent Challenge ''Visions of Yesterday"

That was the title of a book I bought when I was at Lancaster University reading history. The author was Jeffrey Richards and it was all about the history of film, as his course was the only one at the time doing the history of the cinema in the UK. Since those days it has become more popular.  Anyway, I digress because this posting is to show you some of the wonderful photos I took yesterday when we took Bella up Latrigg which is over to the left of this first photo. It is a small mountain not as big as the one you see in the middle distance which is Blencathra.  Anyway, the route goes via the old single track railway which was closed in 1971 by Beeching.  I actually must have been one of the last few people to make that journey that year because our DD had been born in the Spring and I took her in her carry cot on the train to stay with my DH's family. He took the car loaded with stuff and I had to get the train as there was no room left for us.  It has to be one of the most beautiful sections of line ever engineered and the railway ran from Penrith through to Keswick and beyond to Cockermouth. This is one of the bridges which crossed the River Greta and it is now just a lovely narrow footpath. There is a society who hope to restore it all as a railway track again and they raise some money, but I think it is a forlorn hope as it would cost millions to re open as the M6 motorway goes right through it......Best to keep it as a super walk for the folks in Keswick.

The day was very cold but the sun did manage to come out for a couple of hours and created lovely long shadows on the ground because it was so low in the sky. We passed a few folks on the way to the top and then we stopped to put on our crampons because we intended to come down a very steep section and knew it would be icy.

I was busy taking some photos of Bella because she had some ice on her chin and when I looked at them later discovered she was doing the very famous 'Border Terrier Nose Lick' on one of them. Did you know there is a site on the internet which is dedicated to the BT nose lick?  People are invited to submit photos of their terriers performing it.... Well done Bella, it's a good one.......

After this DH picked her up for another couple of photos and then decided to drop her back onto the snow. I was still snapping away and I found this photo when I got home, it's Bella about to get that sinking feeling..... I could not have taken this shot if I had tried to set it up, what superb colours and action.......

After this we walked back down into town because it was the Keswick Christmas Fair and we wanted to mooch about the stalls and take in the atmosphere.  But before we ended up in town we took a short cut across the park near the cricket pavilion and the mist had come down over the pitch. It was really pretty with this lovely white cloud of mist hugging the ground. DH took this shot of our local Museum in the background with Clough Head right behind it snug in it's snowy glory.

Well it is hard to believe that this is day 6, until tomorrow then.............

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Day 5 Advent Challenge better late than never...........................

Just made it today I hope. I have had another full on day with plenty to do. Tomorrow I am having a stair carpet fitted so this morning I had to clear the landing.  You see we have a desk and computer on the landing which is very convenient for us because there is a superb natural niche up there.  It allows us the luxury of a computer each and the landing one also serves as the music centre because it has good speakers and they kind of give a better sound around the house from up there. So the music is softer than blaring out from mine down here. Then in the afternoon we went up Latrigg for a doggie walk in the snow again and although it's only a small mountain (1000') it has some steep bits going down and also going up ha  ha......

Anyway, now you know why I am a touch late with the challenge....... So today's piccies then. This is the back of the bag which is showing how I attached rings to the side expansion straps. This is a glitzy bag with silver in the fabric so I used silver thread to attach 1" black rings underneath the handles.

This shot shows how I attached the same rings to the front but added swivel thingies (like on a dog lead) so I can un clip them and make the sides of the bag bigger; useful when in the supermarket not all the food fits into your bags. Also good when out shopping or taking the mail down to the post office :-) for DH.

And finally, the rest of the bag.   This is a back view....I stitched on a simple fastening tab which does up on a magnetic catch.  I top stitched the tab with silver thread to match the rings and also decided to top stitch all around the tape I used on the edge of the bag. Result, I am pleased with it and I can't wait to go shopping with it. I am beginning to enjoy designing and making my own bags and without the wonderful fabric from Guleser Textiles in Turkey I don't know how I would manage. Loads of their fabrics can be purchased in Keswick at this Aladdin's cave of a shop Textures it is bursting with goodies........... I am thinking new curtains for the kitchen for Christmas already......................

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Day 4 Advent Challenge snow fun

Today has been full of fun.  I finished my bag this morning and this afternoon we went up Walla Crag for a little doggie walk in thick snow....yum.  Bella loves a walk but this snow has produced a dashing spring in her step.  The only exception to her enjoyment  seems to be when its snowing heavily and she has to go out in it for a wee like last night, then she displays a tendancy to dither at the open door before dashing for the covered way........

So we took the camera and there were certainly some stunning shots like this one of our lovely lake Derwentwater.

You can see Keswick too in all it's wintry raiment, it just looks like a fairytale city nestling under Skiddaw the oldest mountain range in the Lake District. The snow was quite deep in parts and of course DH wanted to go up an adventurous way, rather than the footpath, so up we went by a little known way and saw tracks. I think the first set were a hare and then another set which had to be a fox. Nothing else though had passed that way and there was no sign of any walkers because they all stick to the tourist tracks which are the boring ones. We went up in snow which nearly came to my knees but we were both wearing big boots and of course crampons only he had on his new shiny ones of course.....

He did look smart with matching gaiters and new red and black jacket too. He does not like to look shabby on the hills as so many people seem to do, no he is very much the Mountain Leader and dresses accordingly.

I have a reasonable 'turn out' too I might add and today I was sporting my new black Hagloff jacket to keep the cold winter chill at bay and I had on my trusty cap to keep the top of my head warm which is essential.

Well I am off, until tomorrow that is.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Day 3 Advent Challenge and breaking the rules guidelines

Well today was supposed to be a day out on the hills but we had enough trouble last Saturday getting the car up the country lane to Seathwaite, (4 guys had to push us) so when we saw how the temperature was due to plummet to -10% c overnight with more snow coming in from the West this time across the Irish Sea, we decided to stay at home. It's sometimes not worth the hassle and it looks like being a much better day on Sunday, so we have pencilled it in instead. I am baking bread and have plenty to do, mind I am hovering about trying to photograph a robin on the bird table and it's not easy. This is for you dear reader, coz I am doing this challenge thingy I thought Advent must have a robin in it somewhere......I am really trying to look after a few wee birds at the mo which are coming down to feed by one of my 3 big apple trees. I am so lucky to have mature apple trees in my garden; you can't have a garden without an apple tree can you?

Just a tick he's back, camera time again. Damn, missed him.

Anyway, yesterday's White Stuff purchase, well you didn't really expect me to not buy something did you? It went very well, in fact, it was splendid. I used to have a favourite skirt which was a simple black little number but looked gorgeous, like they do.  However, it had one drawback, an elasticated waistband, now you know what that means, never buy a skirt with an elasticated waistband or you will expand............So always break rules like that and you will be happier. This skirt is called Diamonds.....who could resist it and cheaper than the real ones.

Not too short as it just floats on my knee and it has even got a lining....very simple style but this type really suits me.

Oh no, a huge wood pigeon has landed on the bird table and its stuffing itself.......

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Day 2 Advent Challenge and the nature of jealousy

Well the few photos of the George Hotel - Tennis Club Dinner were fairly blurred... must have been the plonk and it was not even my fault as the camera was passed onto others too......So they can't go on the blog as I do have some standards to keep up.  Which leaves me with a slight dilemma, however, this afternoon will be the usual doggie walk for Bella and I might just pop into White Stuff for a sniff about as they have offered me wine and nibbles and 20% off for one day only.

I am quite a regular customer since I discovered about 5 years ago that some of their things a) fit me and b) seem to suit me and as I was driving back from Booths Supermarket this morning after posting DD's parcel off I saw at least 2 ladies of a similar age to myself trudging up through the snow with a White Stuff carrier clutched in their grubby paws.......jealousy set in....You know before I saw them with their carrier bags I had managed to convince myself that going into White Stuff for a third time this week might be seen as obsessive behaviour by the shop assistants. But once I saw the carrier bags I changed my mind and also my neighbour's daughter works in there so why not... I will let you know later how this irresistible pull of gravity towards White Stuff was overcome or indeed succumbed to. But the photo below shows the purchase I just had to make earlier in the week and they are lovely and warm when worn over the top of my silk gloves which I usually use inside my outer gloves when I am out hiking on the hills. These little mitteny thingys are just for shopping trips and things like walking Bella in the park I wouldn't dream of wearing them to go up Scafell Pike.....

Why do I hear you ask? Well other Mountain Leaders might think I am turning into a softy and after all I am married to one too so he might make disparaging remarks. No these little 'girly' pleasures have to be kept off the hills. We are going out tomorrow and he has bought himself another set of crampons, yes I know that now makes three sets he owns.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Done in time for the post to California

Phew, its been a bit of a rush as usual but this was the scene on my desk this afternoon, yes I have done it; all the parcels wrapped and just the labels to apply and then they can wend their merry way to DD in Palm Springs. I love doing up pressies nearly as much as I like undoing them  :-) So to be finishing with time to spare before the last post was astounding for me who is always a last minute person and I mean last minute.
I put it down to the unseasonal lovely snowy weather which has focused me on Christmas for once. Normally I put off even mentioning the C word until at least the first week in December, but not this year the snow has made me very happy and ready to embrace the season of goodwill.

Just as well really because tonight is the Tennis Club Christmas Dinner at the George Hotel Keswick and I expect they will have put crackers on the table and decorated the place already. The dining room has a good menu nowadays (it has had it's ups and downs) and the place has to be my all time favourite pub. I must have been going in The George ever since I first met my husband to be and set foot in Keswick when I was 19..... The 'old coaching inn' used to have open fires then and it still had the whips and hunting horn used by John Greenbank on the mail coaches above the fireplace in the bar. It still has the horn but the whips went long ago. For atmosphere it has to rate as the best pub in Keswick and it is still fairly untouched so the decor remains much as it was when I first saw it. Tonight we are trying the special Christmas menu and I have been starving myself all week so that I can possibly enjoy some turkey. I must admit I have been fancying some ever since DD said it was Thanksgiving last week in her neck of the woods. sigh I wish I could have had some......

Well this is all today but I will take along the camera and see what transpires for the blog, Gina over at Fan My Flame has posted a challenge to do a sort of advent blog where you do a post everyday up until Christmas day and all sorts of mad fools have said they are going to join in.......perhaps I will join them....

Sunday, 21 November 2010

From the sublime to the ridiculous?

I am still having problems with blogger turning my photos ninety degrees, this one was taken as a landscape not a portrait and look what happened when I uploaded it.  I know that I am not the only person who is suffering from this problem coz Sally reported it too.  Anyway, I don't have time tonight to mess about and delete it.  So I hope you like it anyway as it was shown to me by a friend at our EG meeting on Thursday and is a supreme example of crazy quilting. So thank you Marilyn. I have a sneaking feeling that she is going to make some more blocks like this one and if she does will try and show them to you. As you know I bought a book on the subject recently but have not had time yet to make much progress on anything to do with crazy quilting, although I can say that it has been a crazy week so far.......

This next shot is the inside of a carpet bag I am trying to complete. I know it looks really bright but I thought hey why not? Again I took this shot as a landscape and its come out as turned around by blogger  grrrrrrr.
But you can see the little black tape with the clasp? on the end for my keys and also the large black pockets edged with bright pink velvet  yumm. On the other side is another deep pocket edged in silvery black for my purse.  The base of the inside is pink velvet and the sides are this really lovely flower print. I have not finished the bag yet and when I do I will post it up. I hope I can fit it in this week as Wednesday is Cumbria Patchworkers and we are making a Christmas Stocking .... seems every year I get to make one. Actually, my lovely DD in California has received 2 so far so I can think of a home for this one too........

Next up is the Viking... yes I know it's another terrible photo but what can I do? He was standing straight when I took him and when I UPLOADED  it went down hill from there.... I won't show him so large as he might frighten you!  Actually his appearance was not frightening at all it was supposed to be but no I felt quite at home, must have been the grey beard and beer belly.

He did give a very good talk about the Vikings to the ladies at Keswick Embroiderers Guild on Thursday and if you want to see some photos I took of some of the textiles he brought along I sent them onto Lesley to post on the blog which is or you can find a link to it in my favourite blogs. He was a nice chap ex Royal Marines and he seemed to enjoy showing off in the gear...If you want him to come and visit you then go check him out

Lastly, I was up Helvellyn on Saturday in very wintry conditions with Bella and so no photos, anyway, you would not want to see us both sitting there on the top trying to keep warm whilst waiting for the others coming up Striding Edge. We waited and waited... with figures lurking out of the mist but no DH and his mates until at last they came. Bella and I had eaten our lunch by then and were nearly about to set off back down the way we came to Swirls carpark. As usual the top was swarming with people who all came up in odd assorted groups, some even in jeans the idiots.....they would not have been able to wait on the top for over an hour like Bella and I. So it is quite a relief to be sat here at my laptop with Bella asleep by the door because the wood burning stove is too warm for her......Pile more on I say as it has gone quite chilly in Cumbria.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Wonderful bloggies & Birthday doggies

I wanted to draw your attention to one of the blogs on my list run by Gina. Her blog is called Fan My Flame and she is making a book using lace and people's memories for a final project for her "Fine Art Embroidery" module. Go take a look at her latest posting for a lovely idea being turned into something very special.

I can't really let today pass without posting another photo of Bella because she is 3 today and the weather has been so bad in the Lakes all day so we actually went up Latrigg yesterday to take her special day photos. She has spent most of today lying in front of the wood burner and dreaming. She really is cute when she dreams because she utters little tiny woofs inside her which can just be heard and they never seem to wake her up. I think she is a bit of a ventriloquist because when we leave the house for walkies she always grabs at the lead and drags us to the gate then as we set off down the street she barks like mad still with the lead firmly clenched in her little teeth. Our neighbours think she is so funny as they often see her taking us for a walk.....
You can see that Blencathra has already got a dusting of snow on the top and when we were in Scotland last week climbing another Munro the snow was well down and it was blowing a gale at the summit trig point. So it looks like the winter won't be long in coming but yesterday the sun beamed on us and we had soup and sandwiches on the top of the hill for lunch.
I have not been doing any sewing lately because I have been catching up with a few household chores since the Keswick Rambles guided walks finished at the end of October, but I hope to be back in action on the sewing machine very soon because I am missing it not to mention all the other ufo's I have. Tomorrow though, I am expecting a new fridge so that I can put the old one in the garden shed (overflow area for his beer and fruit juice etc) as we often find we just don't have enough room for all our fresh food. We are both keen cooks but we do like to do everything from scratch if we possibly can so that means we need lots of fresh produce, so hopefully that problem will now be sorted, so onto the next where did I put my unfinished quilt?

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Bella's new toy

It was the dreaded strip out day today for Bella; if you don't understand then I'll explain. Border Terriers have two coats of fur, a fine coat near their skin and a thicker coat of guard hair. This coat of thicker hair grows so long every 6 months that it has to be stripped out, also the fur dies so it looks untidy. So today was the chosen day to do it and I use the greenhouse because of the mess it makes.....

Anyway, Bella is fairly patient because it does take a couple of hours to do. So today she was good when I stripped out around her head and neck and front but not too happy when I was nearer her tail........ Oh well, tomorrow is another day and I am sure to be able to tidy her rear end up a bit more. Meanwhile, a photo seemed a good idea and I gave her a new Monkey toy for being so good. Here she is after pulling the monkey out of the plastic ball which had some treats to eat in the bottom. Maybe, I will see her in an hour when she tires of it!

Monday, 25 October 2010

A big thank you! Over 4500 of you too!

Wow over 4500 visitors from all around the globe have been popping by to read my blog this last year. So I want to thank you all so much, it really makes me feel wanted. My clustrmap which records all of you as little red dots has just been archived which means they wipe you all off and start again with another year. So I hope you all return and put the dots back................

I can't buy you all a cake, so you will have to feast your eyes on this one instead.

Remember to put the red dots back.........bye

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Book Find in Keswick

Amy Emms' Story of Durham QuiltingI was passing the Congregational Church on Saturday with DH and there was a sign saying book sale free entry. Well he always wants to go and peruse.........
This time though we had just been walking Bella and I did not have any money on me so he was quite surprised when I found a book......I think it was a bargain and we knocked the seller down by .50p

Anyway, I had read about Amy a few years ago and so when I saw this on the shelves I knew it was going to be interesting. I have not read it all through yet but my intention is not to follow completely in her footsteps (as if anyone could ever be as good) but to derive an essence of her work and incorporate it into something I make. Not sure what it will be yet.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Dreading the needle

Not sewing so much as prodding around in my hand.... I was out on the fells on Monday in terrible weather guiding up on Helvellyn and as I came down a rock step put my right hand out to steady myself straight onto a really vicious plant with small spines. Anyway, some of them are still in my hand and they are minute, like 1mm long and fine as a hair, but they still hurt and part of my hand is sore and swollen and red. I have extracted 3 with a fine quilting needle.. but I know another 2 are still in there. So I am going to have to ask DH if he can help because I can't get them out. I know I am not going to enjoy this....I have never liked splinters since I was little but these things you can hardly see and they seem to have gone in vertically. I am having a glass or 2 of wine to steady the nerves  ;-)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Steaming ahead

But not with the quilt, oh no, this was real steam, as in steam locomotive railway engines.

Bella and I took a ride on the railway used for filming 'The Railway Children' film last Sunday deep in Yorkshire Bronte country. This was our transport arriving at the station.

The next shot is our destination, Oakworth Station which was the station used in the film. So if you want a similar experience then go here for information provided by wikipedia

Bella and I went for a 5 mile walk around the area once we disembarked from the train, I cannot say it was a wonderful walk because Yorkshire is not the Lake District but it was muddy and scenic..... with the frequent noise of the trains trundling along in the valley below us. However, we were glad to make it up a real Scottish hill later in the week when we went to Spean Bridge near Fort William and then drove up Loch Arkaig to remote and lonely Glen Dessary, a really wild spot. See my other blog for details.

We did go on another train later in the week and it was the famous 'Jacobite' from Fort William to Mallaig; now this is one of the best train journeys in the world. Here is the 'Black 5' waiting at the platform in Fort William ready to begin the 84 mile return journey to Mallaig.

This journey was made even more famous because it was included in a Harry Potter film (Philosopher's Stone?) where a steam train goes over a wonderful viaduct with 21 arches, it is called The Glenfinnan Viaduct and is a superb example of railway engineering by Sir Robert McAlpine.

Anyway, it is not to be missed, so if you find yourself on holiday in Scotland and can fit it in, go to Fort William and take the train to Mallaig, you will not regret it. Better still keep it for a special day and book a First Class seat where you will receive complimentary tea and scones for two.

This journey is a classic and comes highly recommended by Bella as it is dog friendly, all the staff are wonderful and you even get to stop at Glenfinnan for half an hour on the way.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A photo of the current project

I finally tracked down the problem of the 90deg turn to the new camera, but don't know yet why its happening, however, it does not seem to be a Blogger problem after all. Anyway, this photo is not turned sideways (which was really irritating). I have more to do yet on this project and its coming together quite fast now. I am piecing using my little Brother Innovis Anniversary edition with a quarter inch foot which works really well. I can't fault this lightweight machine and am really impressed with Brother.

I noted today that another blogger likes Brother machines too seems the thing to own is an industrial machine, ok if you have the room but I don't so I'll stick with my portable for now.

More quilt progress

Well this was supposed to be an update plus photo of the current quilt, but I cannot get Google Blogger to upload the photo without turning it 90degrees... Its so frustrating, anyway, I have told them about it so I hope they have a solution. Meanwhile, I can say that the quilt is looking better than I expected to be honest. In fact I am beginning to feel I might be onto something new and exciting.....But I do not want to show you it sideways so have had to leave the photo out.

Instead of my effort what about something truly magnificent.

Meanwhile I want to comment on the latest debacle that Cumbria has suffered this month, as if poor Cumbria has not had its fair share of troubles since the terrible floods last November and just when our little county seemed to have found a treasure, it was lost to us. I refer to the wonderful Roman Cavalry Parade Helmet which was found in May in a Cumbrian field at Crosby Garret by a metal detector enthusiast. It was given some very careful repairs and then promptly despatched to London for sale at Christies. Our local Carlisle Museum immediately launched an appeal to save this exquisite helmet from leaving the county where it had laid buried in a Cumbrian field for nearly 2000 years. The reason they wanted it is obvious, take a very careful look, it is beautiful. Stunning workmanship, of the highest order.

Now I used to belong to an archaeological society when I was a teenager. The Lower Medway Archealogical Research Group or LMARG for short was the group I joined and what fun we had scraping the sides of Roman trenches with our 5 inch mason's pointing trowels, but we did not have sophisticated gear like they do now. (We never found more than a few pot sherds but we were operating in the late 60's.)

Fast forward a few years and metal detectors are here to stay and that's fine so long as the use of them is subject to sensible precautions in order to save important objects from being sold to Mr or Ms 'anonymous' for purely financial reasons. Nationally important archaelogical finds by metal detector wielding folks should not be sold at auction without first going through a vetting procedure. I know the law does allow for gold and silver objects to be declared 'treasure trove' and so protected from sale to anonymous buyers but it must be extended to include all metal objects which are significant. Christies London auction house should never be the place where these items end up because this just panders to the cult of the rich can buy what they like approach. Our cultural heritage is swept away into private collections whose owners remain anonymous and we sit at home fuming.  ok Rant over..... but Cumbria needed this helmet, it was a jewel, and I would have given £50 to go and see it at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.