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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Historic Buildings

Across the road is one of the last working gasometers in the country. Two days ago only the white bit showed above the base. Now it is fully erect and filled with gas for the winter.
Just in front of it is the coal depot and to the right of the picture is the sand and grit store for gritting the roads so we are well prepared in Bishop Auckland for what may come this winter!
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Here it is, about to go into the steaming pot. I used the recipe from "Stephanie's Orange Bible". That is an Australian cookbook, which is probably my all time favourite. I halved the quantities to make this one, fairly, large pudding and I went to Tracy at the farm shop to get real suet to grate. Gosh! what a mess that is. It then got mixed and left to stand for a day and then taste-tested for spiciness and into the pot it went. It is cooking for six hours!!! and therefore still needs two and a half more. The sitting room has been painted and I had fancy bits done, like the gilding on the fireplace and the ceiling rose and four colours used for the walls, ceiling and woodwork. It all looks lovely and today Alison came to hang the curtains on the "road" window and a roman blind on the "garden" window.
This is one of those Living Flame gas fires so all I have to do is press a button and it leaps into life and looks for all the world like a real coal fire. I have been cleaning up the marble and D has had a serious go at the copper sheet in front of the grate.
You can see a bit of the blind reflected in the mirror. It's all greener than it looks and the carpet is too. The front yard is progressing. The edging blocks have been laid and lots of bits of brick-laying have been done with old bricks to match the rest. The blocked main grey water drain has been dug up and thrown away cos it was impossible to unblock it and a new one has been laid. Sadly the new bathroom soil pipe will have to go across the front of the house to the old one, but to compensate, lots of smaller pipes can be removed.
But this lunchtime the Staindrop Women's Institute Committee went for lunch at the Morritt Arms at Greta Bridge and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I have been doing the calendar of events for the next year and we had a look at my first drafts. Tomorrow I shall visit another committee member to pick her brains for transforming CLUEDO into a Staindrop version to be tried out at the AGM. If they can transpose Monopoly, why not Cluedo. Just put a map of the village on a board with nine sites, make up six names that sort of ring a bell, develop six methods of dying at the hands of another and play on.
I am well, I am happy, I am busy and the house is turning into a real beauty. Hope all is well with all of you.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

When It Rains It Pours

The front garden is being transformed from a gravel and grass space into a brick-paved area with pots. The digging machine is sleeping here while the work progresses. A gradual accumulation of soil and stuff over the years had brought the level up too high in the small enclosed space, and vast quantities are being removed. The two manhole covers were found about six inches down and a trench will be dug to one of them for the pipes for the new toilet and bathroom. It was easy to get the digger in and the stuff out once the brick wall at the end had been knocked down. The guys closed the space for the night, with the skip (nearly full to the brim so that the neighbours can't share too much unwanted stuff with us).
Then just after they went home, it rained. It is still raining. It will probably rain all night. The cat has been out for a swim and brought lots of mud back in through the catflap, over the back of the sofa, across the carpet and up onto the table to explore a new cardboard box for size.

It fitted. I had just brought it home from Sainsbury's to pack an ebay item in. I'm still selling things. Lace bobbins will go on for a week or two more at least. This phone came from an auction lot and so did the Davidson glass spill jar which will now wing its way to a new home in Oz. The brass unicorn came from the rubbish skips in Daventry where D's neighbour works. He polished it up and it is now off to Biggleswade.
I have been a bit busy lately and have realised that I can only handle one blog at the moment so RedUmbrella is on hold. It was the last art lesson of the course today but I shall sign up again for next year. I enjoy it so much. This was one of my efforts at painting snow...or not painting it.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Things You Like Keep Happening

There are still quite a few lace bobbins to sell on ebay. The whole thing has gone well from auction-purchase to ebay-sales. People who collect lace bobbins are kind, polite, honest and appreciative and I have had sales to Sweden, Denmark, Massuchusetts, Tokyo and all over England. The whole thing has been a pleasure. The remains are shown below and will be on line before christmas. It encouraged me to sell some left over stuff from the garden and that has gone well too. A woman just came and paid £5.70 for a small garden ornament that I was going to take down to the tip. The other thing occupying my leisure is my art classes. Paul Dillon at the Darlo Arts Centre does watercolour classes and I have done a couple of courses with him but this year he was offering a more-mixed media course using resist to portray things like shine, frost etc.
Resist is applied before you paint. You can use special rubber pens or oil-crayons. This pic shows the original photo we used as a guide. On the left is my interpretation on smooth paper and on the right is the same approach, colours, resists etc but used on rough but regularly textured paper.Paul had used rough paper and was demonstrating the effect shown in the top-right-hand quarter of this pic. I was so dismayed. I had set up my lesson on SMOOTH paper. I rushed back to my area and peeled a sheet of very textured paper off and carried on with two sheets at once.
This is the application of the same resists, paints and effort for each image. The first pic below is done on the rough textured paper and follows what was done in the class. There were fifteen of us and none of them were the same. The next pic is the "mistake one" done on the smooth paper. It was admired all round, and even by Paul. It does have a more dramatic look, and as many people commented a bit like batik. That was probably because I over-applied the resist but who cares. It was admired, even by the teacher!!!
On my way to art class I popped in to Watsons to put a bid on "Fridtjof of Nansen" (yes it was two volumes 1st, and folded maps were intact) which they had listed at £20-£40 est. Well I examined them and they were really good and generally in good nick. So I left a bid of £75, making the mistake that others often do, that no-one else would know what they were really worth. They sold for £80 to the other person who knew.
I'm still a bit sore about my own parsimonious approach. I must be willing to make 20% profit. I am still hooked on doubling my money.
In the meantime I'm knitting scarves and shawls from the Tunisian wool and mixing it with other stuff and I'm getting my craft space sorted.
Cheers Gillian