Monday, 31 December 2012

A belated Happy Christmas

Life has been extremely hectic over the last few weeks, preparing for Christmas, so I never got here to wish you all a Happy Christmas. I do hope you all had a wonderful, healthy and peaceful time.

We had a very extended Christmas this year, spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my SIL, then rushing home to prepare to welcome our sons and their partners for the next few days. They finally left yesterday after a wonderful family time together. It's all too rare that we all manage to get together like that.

Here are a few pictures.

 This is an iPad cover I made for my younger son's partner

This is a cafetiere cosy that I made for my older son and his partner

This is an iPad mini case that I made for my younger son. Sadly I didn't have an iPad mini to work with and it didn't turn out too brilliantly.

These are some earbud cases that I made, one for each of us.



Ruby entered into the spirit of Christmas.



But it was all too much for her - and for a few other people!



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

12 x 12 challenge

My local quilt shop, the wonderful Midsomer Quilting, held a 12" x 12" mini quilt challenge, with the theme of books. Last year's inaugural event was Fruit and this year there were even more stunning quilts. I've photographed them all and entitled those I can remember or work out. If I get hold of a list of all of the quilt names I'll edit the slideshow - and apologies if I've misnamed any of the exhibits.

Next year's challenge is Movies so perhaps you could think of some ideas of films for me to use!




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Saturday, 17 November 2012

All Square

I offered to make a bed quilt for my son and his girlfriend for Christmas this year and showed them all sorts of different patterns that I'd have been happy to make. And what did they choose? Simple squares with a few appliqu├ęd hearts! They liked a simple country look. Well, who am I to argue, so that's what I've made. Hundreds (480 to be exact) of squares in reds and blues, with a bit of white thrown in for good measure. I've decided to have this one long arm quilted, as it's so huge and I know I would make a bit of a mess of something that large if I tried to quilt it myself. I dropped it off at the shop yesterday and they've promised me that I'll get it back in time to finish the binding before Christmas.

Actually, I'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out.



Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Scotland - Sunday

I've just realised that I forgot to publish this once I had finished writing it, so although it's a bit late here is the account of our Sunday in Scotland.

On the morning after the wedding we had a leisurely start, and then drove to Glasgow, about an hour's drive away. The weather was chilly, but dry, so after lunch we decided to take the open top bus tour of the city. It's an amazing place, much improved after a rather grim past. There are wonderful buildings, many museums and galleries and public gardens and it looks as if shopping would be good too, as we spotted many designer shops. Here are a few of the photographs I took from the top of the bus.

Has Dr Who landed in Glasgow?

The main square

Wonderful autumn colours.



The River Clyde

No, it's not the Darwin opera house!



After the bust tour we had a wander around - luckily most cities are now open for business on Sundays - and then returned to the airport for our flight home. We had quite a long wait, as our flight wasn't until 9.45, and then we drove home and collapsed into bed after a very pleasant though tiring weekend.


Monday, 5 November 2012

A dramatic day

What a day we had yesterday!

We woke to heavy snow, which hadn't been forecast, so was a great surprise. But Ruby and my younger son, who was staying with us for the weekend, were delighted. Alexander is 28 now, but still gets as excited by snow as he did when he was 8.



Shortly before nine o'clock there was a sudden power surge, and all the lights flared brightly. Then a few seconds later we started to hear pops and bangs around the house and various televisions and other things went bang, with sparks and smoke. It turned out that a power cable had come down and the power company advised us that we should turn off the mains fuse. 

We breakfasted on bread and butter and marmalade, instead of the cooked breakfast I had planned. Luckily we were able to boil the kettle up in our camper van and have hot drinks. 

We soon discovered that it was a live cable that had fallen. We realised that it was live because one end was in a puddle and a friend and her dog walked past, the dog went into the puddle and jumped a foot in the air! Luckily the dog was unharmed, though rather surprised ( I nearly wrote 'shocked' there, but that seemed to be a rather bad pun!). After hearing this the power company vehicles soon arrived. Apparently the freak snow storm had caused chaos in the area and many problems with electricity supplies.

Fortunately, we had booked a table for lunch in a nearby restaurant, so didn't have to have more bread and butter for lunch. 

The power wasn't put back on until about half past four, but when we started switching things on we still had major problems, so had to cut the electricity again until the problems were sorted out. We finally had power again at about six o'clock, so didn't have to resort to candles for long.

But the damage the power surge caused was amazing. We've lost two televisions, two DAB radios, the microwave, Christopher's beloved coffee machine as well as countless cables and light bulbs. The loss adjuster is coming today to see the list.

So,  a very dramatic Sunday.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Scotland - Saturday

On the Saturday morning of our stay  in Scotland we went for a drive in The Trossachs mountains, beautiful countryside and the autumnal colours were wonderful. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera so wasn't able to take any photographs - a good excuse to return to the area sometime in the future! The wedding was at three o'clock, and took place in the Village Hall which was right next to the loch and had stunning views. It was a lovely sunny day, though pretty chilly, and we were able to take lots of photographs outside.







The hall was decorated by the bride and groom and their families, with paper chains, chinese paper lanterns and paper pom-poms in bottles on the window sills, which later became table decorations. There were more paper pom-poms tied to the chairs down the centre aisle.



Number One Son, the best man, and his girlfriend. Can you see the little paper windmill he has in his button hole? The bride had made them for the men instead of giving them flower buttonhole decorations. Such a good idea at this time of year when flowers are so expensive, and fun too. Oliver gave an extremely funny best man speech a bit later on, after we had eaten.


My best man.


The bride and some of the family. I think the groom had left her at this point to go and organise something or other. I loved her dress, just dressy enough for a wedding, but not too dressy for a low cost, country wedding with very little pomp about it.


For the meal we were sat on a table with Oliver's girlfriend and some of the groom's school friends, so we were surrounded by young people, which was great fun as we remembered the two young men from Oliver and Douglas's schooldays.


In the evening there was dancing, including disco and Scottish dancing. We left quite late to walk back to our hotel, about a fifteen minute walk. Unfortunately we had forgotten to take torches and there was no street lighting, so we just had to hope for the best, hope that we didn't fall into the loch that run along side the road, or fall into the mud at the edges of the road as there were no pavements, or get run over. Luckily we got back to the hotel safe and sound.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Scotland

Last weekend we flew up to Scotland for a wedding. The bridegroom was our older son's best friend and Oliver was to be the best man. We flew up on Thursday to make the most of our trip and came back on Sunday.

We flew from Bristol airport late on Thursday afternoon, and arrived at Glasgow airport in the dark. We hired a car for the drive to the hotel, which took about an hour in the dark and the rain. I was so thankful that I'd taken my iPad with me, as the map app was invaluable in helping us find our way there.

The hotel was the Forest Hills Hotel in the small village of Kinlochard, on the small lake Loch Ard. The hotel was huge, and full to bursting, which really surprised us for such a small village on a Thursday night.





The outside photographs were taken on Sunday morning, just before we left. And I didn't realise until I uploaded the photographs that I appear to have a finger print right in the middle of the lens, which is SOO annoying.

On Friday we went for a drive around the local area and drove around part of Loch Lomond, finishing up at a pub for a late lunch. It was a wet, chilly day with lots of low lying mist.




On Friday evening we met up with Oliver and his girlfriend for a late dinner. It was lovely to see him since I hadn't seen him since the beginning of August, but rather strange to be meeting in Scotland.

Tomorrow I'll write a little about what we got up to on the Saturday, as well as the lovely wedding.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Craftsy BOM

I've at last finished the twenty blocks for the Craftsy BOM. I signed up at the beginning of the year, but didn't get started until Candace mentioned on her blog that she was about to start the blocks. It was a real motivation to have someone else sewing along, and Candace has been very kind to keep waiting for me to catch up with her. Her blocks are wonderfully wacky and colourful, whilst I have experimented with using a white background for the first time.

I'm not too certain yet what I'll use for sashing and borders - any suggestions as to colours? I don't really want to buy anything new, so will have to use whatever I have enough of, but suggestions for colours would be most welcome.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Cheese making

Last week I went with a group from our Women's Institute to visit a cheese making factory. The family owned business is called Wyke Farms and uses milk from farms in the local area. They sell their cheddar cheese all over the world, so you may have come across it in your local supermarket.

The milk is collected from local farms in tankers. When it arrives at the factory it is tested to ensure it meets safety standards and then decanted into the large tanks you can see on the right.

We had to get dressed in flattering hairnets, paper overcoats and plastic overshoes before we went into the factory, and then wash and sanitise our hands. And no, I'm not showing you the photograph taken of me!

The milk then flows through pipes into these stainless steel tanks and a synthetic rennet is added. They don't use traditional rennet now, so the cheese can be eaten by vegetarians as well.

The rennet sets the cheese into a jelly like substance.

It is then cut into small strips and tossed about so that the whey runs off. Apparently they're investigating ways in which the whey can be used in protein drinks, so that there is even less wastage. Once the whey has run off salt is added to the curds. I tried to take a photograph of that process but it was too steamy.

The cheese, as it has now become, is pushed through more pipes and then down into these five tubes, where it is compressed and pushed into a cuboid shaped mould and then comes out at the bottom, where you can see the man standing holding a plastic bag.

The cheese then goes along a conveyor belt, through a machine which seals the plastic and then goes on its way to the packing room.

The cheese is packed into these wooden boxes and sent to another farm for storage. It's kept for anything from six weeks, for mild cheddar, to eighteen months, for vintage cheddar. Then it is cut into chunks, repackaged and sent off to the shops.

Wyke Farms website is well worth a visit; it has quite a few short videos showing different aspects of the whole cheese making process.