Friday 31 October 2008

Making friends

When I started blogging it never really occurred to me that I'd make new friends - real friends too, as opposed to virtual friends (not that there's anything wrong with virtual friends, don't get me wrong. It's just even better to meet someone in real time).

This week I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Pipany. I love her blog, and the way she weaves tales of family life with sewing, cooking, and let's be honest, the odd tipple or two! Even better, She's cornish and lives about 25 miles away from me, so it was perhaps inevitable that sooner or later we'd meet up. I've been really looking forward to this, the date's been in the diary for several weeks. We met on tuesday at The Little Yellow House - a pretty craft shop in Penryn, with a few cafe tables as well. Crafts, coffee, cake...and lovely company, what more could you want? Pipany gave me a lovely warm welcome...and from that moment we did not stop talking....about life, families, knitting, sewing (and machines), blogging, finding a worm in your sloe gin, and more. Pipany is great fun - warm, humorous, stylish (and tiny!), generous and amusing. On leaving the little cafe we were both shocked to see that nearly four hours had flown by. It's what happens when you're having fun!

I was also spoiled by some wonderful Pipany goodies - this gorgeous Lauren tote bag, with lots of handy pockets

and a contrasting striped lining. This is intended for my knitting supplies and on-the-go projects.

A wee little bag of treasure from our cornish beaches...

...and in readiness for christmas, a hand embroidered stripey padded heart, with loop for hanging. I've been spoiled rotten! Thank you so much, Pip...and here's to next time, the one where we plan to scoff mince pies!

And that has been the highlight of an otherwise humdrum week where the wind and rain has whistled around my little house with an unseasonal ferocity. Where I have stubbornly refused to turn the heating on because I just don't until I have been sitting with about five layers on, scarf and fingerless gloves. Mmm, frozen and frugal just about sums it up.

Have a happy (and warm) weekend.

Thursday 30 October 2008

A great idea!

Frogdancer has just alerted me to this post - I think it's a great idea. Go and check it out and sign up!

Monday 27 October 2008

Warm as toast

One of the advantages of holding the fort at the b&b over the weekend was snuggling up in front of the woodburner each evening, with nothing to distract me apart from the mesmerising flames and my knitting. Two long stints, and I finished these.

Made specifically for dog-walking (my use, not Walter's), I used a purple and a grey jaeger dk merino from my stash, two strands held together. This makes rather dense, thick wristwarmers, but perfect for keeping out the cold. One of them has a slightly-too-tight bind off, but I can just about get it on and off.

Also, binding off in the round means I get this last loose stitch which doesn't join up properly. Any tips on what I should be doing here? I stitched it up when weaving in the ends, and it doesn't show as the cuff rolls back, but there must be something I'm missing somewhere....

Saturday 25 October 2008

This morning

I'm staying at a friend's for a couple of nights, looking after her b&b while she's away

Heavenly skies at both ends of the day

A treat to be out of town

Silence, but for the whispers of nature



I may be working, but it feels like time out!

Happy weekend to you all

x x x

Last night

Thursday 23 October 2008

Just knitted

Just off the needles - my new scarf. Modelled, a touch reluctantly, by Walter (he would not sit up, clearly modelling scarves is not his forte).

Knit in garter stitch with Noro Iro, shade 65, on 6.5mm needles, inspired by Suzanne.

Apart from knitting dishcloths and a rabbit, and squares towards my blanket, this is the only other thing I've ever knitted properly.

Here's to lots more. These are on the needles now (no time). Have you seen Ali's? Gorgeous colours!

Tuesday 21 October 2008

A foraging feast

It's hard to know where to start with my foray into foraging, and really do it justice - it was full-on from the moment we started, and yet wonderfully relaxed.

About twelve of us gathered to experience a Fat Hen foraging and feasting weekend in the far west of Cornwall, not far from my home. I was also joined by Kristina and her husband G, who'd travelled down from London - such fun to have another blogger joining in. Our day started with coffee and hogweed biscotti, followed by a demonstration of how to make halloumi cheese and ricotta, and home-baked soda bread. We then headed off for our first forage on the sea shore, with St Michael's Mount as the backdrop. We collected all manner of leaves for our lunch, and checked out the varieties of seaweed freely available below the tide line, and followed this with flasks of seaweed broth (delicious!) while sprawled on the rocks. Back to base for lunch, and a cooking demonstration with tips on how to make the perfect risotto, and a salsa verde.

Our meals were taken in The Goat Barn - a beautiful converted barn next to Caroline and Frank's home. Lunch was Alexanders Risotto, foraged salad leaves, and warm soda bread.

Our afternoon was spent on a different part of the coastline, at Gwenvor and Sennen, identifying more edible plants and seaweeds. We were met at the far end of the beach by Matt, one of our chefs, who cooked up a quick snack of black pudding and laver, accompanied by a fabulous japanese knotweed caipiroska (vodka caiprinha) on crushed ice. Yum! Back to the barns for more cooking - preparing potted rabbit, and home-smoked mackerel for sunday's lunch.

Our evening feast in the candle-lit and cosy Goat Barn kicked off with halloumi and pigeon breast appetizers, along with deep-fried seaweed (heaps better than your local chinese!), followed by pan-fried mackerel and salsa verde with potatoes. Dessert was a delicate carageen milk pudding with elderberry port wine sauce and fennel shortbread. Copious quantities of wine were also consumed!

Sunday brought slightly gloomier weather, but at least it stayed dry. We foraged in the surrounding hedgerows and farmland, collecting common sorrel, sheep's sorrel, gorse flowers, pink purslane, wood sorrel...and more. We stopped for hedgerow teas at Boscowan Un stone circle, sampling yarrow and meadowsweet. Back for lunch - fritatta, tortilla, various salads, fresh sea bass, potted rabbit and more.... I came home buzzing - from all the fun, the delicious gourmet food, the potential of foraging, the cooking tips, the fantastic location, and most of all the warmth, knowledge and generosity of Caroline and Frank, and chefs Matt and Claire.

If you would like to spend a weekend doing something a little bit different, and you love cooking and eating, and want to learn about foraging, then join Fat Hen for a weekend. I can't rate it highly enough!

There's also a great review here.

Friday 17 October 2008

A quicker make

A few months ago I made this bag, which drove me slightly potty in the process. Well, it has been much admired - the fabric that is, not my bag making abilities. So this is version two, made as a gift to a friend. And this time it worked almost effortlessly (except I did take a few months to get round to it. I blame technical difficulties with my now redundant sewing machine. Nothing to do with procrastination).

I don't have any little 'pebbledash' labels to sew in to the side seam, so to make it more 'mine' I drilled two holes in a pebble to make a button for a tab.

Wish I had one on my bag now. And I need a smaller drill bit so the holes are neater. But I am pleased, and my finishing is better this time (I love my new machine!). Best of all, my friend loves it, and that's what really matters.

Have a happy weekend. I'm going foraging with Fat Hen (there'll be lots of cooking and eating too).

Wednesday 15 October 2008

The postman delivers

Firstly, thank you for all your birthday wishes for lovely Walter. Needless to say, he's been spoiled rotten, not that that's unusual!

Last week my postie delivered two parcels (lucky me). The first was from Ginny, who sent me a signed copy of Sew Fabulous Fabric. This is Ginny and Alice's first book, and it's a real delight.

Ginny has asked me to review it. I'm looking forward to this - it's also a great opportunity for me to expand on my very basic sewing skills. To start me off, Ginny also sent a selection of supplies - beautifully wrapped, right down to the string, and in my favourite colours.

I also have a new sewing machine (more of that another time) so no excuses now for equipment failure. Over the next few weeks I plan to try a few of the projects in the book...and then let you know how I get on.

Thanks so much Ginny! I think there will be some inspiration for christmas here, too.

Parcel number two came all the way from Frogdancer in Australia. I was lucky enough to be a winner (yet again, must admit I've done very well in giveaways) in her draw for a Mystery Practical Thing, and now have a lovely potholder, made entirely from thrifted fabric and scraps, including the thread. Not only that, she's only very recently started quilting. It's beautifully made. Thank you, Frogdancer, and I know it's going to get lots of use.

Also included in the parcel was some chocolate.....there were five bars, then only four to photograph. And now I've eaten the lot.

I do like the little furry animals on the packaging - though why does Cadbury's chocolate made in another country taste so completely different from the stuff you get here?

Frogdancer also tagged me for six unspectacular facts about myself. Gulp. Here goes...

:: I'm tall...not quite six foot.

:: As I child I was a real tomboy. Still am, to a certain extent.

:: I'm a solitary soul, quite happy with my own company. I can be quite unsociable.

:: I love twine, parcel string, linen string, hemp string, jute...all sorts!

:: Autumn is my favourite season.

:: I came to Cornwall quite by accident - I was meant to be going biking in the Atlas Mountains. but ended up in Cornwall instead (another story). I knew instantly I wanted to live here. And how lucky I am to have made the move.

If you want to play along, feel free....

Monday 13 October 2008

Birthday Boy

We're celebrating Walter's birthday today

My dear boy is two years old

So grown up (sometimes)

Such fun to be with

We've learned so much, together, since he came to live with me when he was seven months old

He's come on in leaps and bounds

No longer the terrified and traumatized pup

Happy and sociable and a wee bit naughty

And he never fails to make me smile and make me laugh

Walter, I love you!

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Blog help, please!

Is anyone else having trouble with bloglines? My feeds aren't updating at all, and I've no idea how to fix it.

Any suggestions gratefully received, thanks!

Edited: Phew! Seems to have sorted itself out overnight.

Another day out, another blog date!

Each time I go up country I try and fit in a day out with my sister G - last time we went to Hastings. This time we had vague thoughts of Whitstable, but decided we didn't want to spend too long in the car. Ben, my nephew (he of the lovely chicken coops) was booked for dog sitting duties and we went off to Petersham Nurseries where Kristina came and joined us for coffee in the Teahouse.

In our emails beforehand sorting out the logistics, Kristina said:
"How will I know it's you?"
"Easy" I said, "I'm the tall dark scruffy one, and G is blonde and glamorous!".
It is a standing joke in our family that G does the glamour for myself and my elder twin sisters. I should add that Kristina found us immediately! We lingered over coffee and cake (there's a wonderful selection, including the most divine chocolate brownies) and chat, admired the surroundings and the yummy mummies, and wandered around the nurseries. It wasn't great weather-wise, being grey and drizzley which later turned to a torrential downpour, so not inspiring for photographs.

The dahlias were impressive - big, voluptuous and all shades of pink through to the dark reds.

There were also a couple of huge troughs of cosmos, magnets to the bees.

From Petersham we headed to Barnes to pop in to Tobias and the Angel, which was a little disappointing this time. They are renowned for their wonderful christmas displays and goodies, so worth visiting in December. Putney was our final destination, to find a lovely yarn shop called Stash. Kristina was still gamely with us - it's easy to be left trailing in G's wake, she does love to shop! We drooled over all the lovely yarn and gorgeous colours. I bought a skein of Noro Kureyon, in the hope of knitting some fingerless mitts, and G bought some wool to knit a scarf. She's not knitted for years, so I had fun that night teaching her long-tail cast on, and deciding what rib pattern to knit.

We had a lovely 'girlie' day out - not a time for big chats as we were whizzing round so much, but so lovely to meet Kristina. Especially as there's second helpings next week, when we find ourselves on a foraging and feasting weekend together. Kristina, thanks for putting up with us!

edited to add: Kristina gave me some wonderful lavender sugar, beautifully packaged, along with a recipe for lavender cupcakes. I've yet to take a photo... Thanks, Kristina!

Monday 6 October 2008

The mohican duck, and other lovely things

I've been home a few days now, settling back into the gentle rhythm of my life here, and yet savouring my time spent with my family. Time 'up country' is invariably busy, catching up not only with family, but also with friends old and new. I think it would also be fair to say that in practice this involves moving seamlessly from one eating extravaganza to the next - with barely time to digest one feast before the next is in front of me!

I also had the chance to meet some blog friends, and turn them from virtual friends into reality. This is a little I've said before, the self-doubt creeps in, and more to the point, will we even like each other, or have anything to talk about? I met up with Ginny on a warm sunny saturday afternoon in the lovely village of Shere - about the half way point for both of us. Ginny has already blogged about our afternoon here. While I was waiting for Ginny to arrive I sat in the sunshine, watching the ducks splashing about in the stream. This little guy stood out a mile:

Have you ever seen a mohican duck? He was clearly loving all the attention. Apart from the sky kiss at the end of the afternoon, (see Ginny's blog) that's the sum total of our photos. No arty pics of frothy cappuchino and delicious cake...we were far too busy chatting. We sat in the garden of the Lucky Duck, drinking tea (and yes, I was the only one eating cake. Again.) and talking...and talking...and talking. It is lovely making virtual friends via your blog, but even better when you turn that into a real get-together, and that sense of connection is beyond what you could possibly have imagined. I'm still savouring that afternoon, and in fact a part of me wants to selfishly keep it all to myself, it was that special. It strikes me too that as we get older the opportunity to make new friends sometimes diminishes. Blogging has certainly broadened my horizons for the better.

Ginny generously gave me one of her lovely flower corsages - in my favourite colour, blue! She also printed me a beautiful photo she took of agapanthus, originally posted on her Sweet Myrtle blog, along with a card of the same photo.

Ginny, thank you so much, I love your gifts, and spending time with you was a real pleasure. I hope we can do it again soon. Pipany, would you care to join us? We missed your presence, but felt you there in spirit!

As I drove back to my father's house the sun was setting - a glorious golden glow, which pretty much sums up how I was feeling after my afternoon with Ginny.

Warm, cosy, glowing inside, and with a real sense of gratitude for time spent with someone special.

Thank you Ginny!