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Thursday, 27 August 2009


Another lamp got some treatment today. This one was bought at auction, together with the brass carriage lamp shown on the previous post. The two totalled just over £30 and the carriage lamp was my favourite at the time. But today I realised that this was a Vesta Duplex and deserved a clean up. It was tricky to take apart for cleaning because it had been forced into an incorrect connection but once in parts, a bowl of vinegar and some wire wool and an old tooth brush did the first round. Then a quick soapy wash and some brasso and a dry cloth did the rest.
Well it's not quite that simple...lots of elbow grease and enthusiasm is essential and D supplied that. I hope you can clearly see the difference in this pic between the cleaned and uncleaned sections. I need to buy a glass chimney and replace the glass shade, which unfortunately has a crack. It was an original mustard glass globe. Not a trendy colour these days but so popular then.

I have been knitting. I got some tops from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop
The natural brown spun up really well and is shown in the above pic and so did some white wool which had been randomly dyed in shades of purple and some orange. I knitted the two lots randomly in mainly stocking stitch. There was much more of the brown. When I ran out of the coloured yarn I cast off. I then searched for ages for something to fringe it with. I could have used more of the brown which I still have but I wanted something to "lift" it.

I try not to be precious about the origin of the yarns I use. Just as well because after quite a lot of looking, the only yarn to colour-coordinate was an acrylic eyelash yarn from the LYS in Newgate Street in Bishop Auckland. There is no website for this shop but it is a friendly and helpful place and has a moderately large and varied stock for its small hinterland. It isn't trendy, just practical and serving its market well and with a smile.
I think the yarns work well together. Perhaps it is an attraction of opposites but there is no clash because the colours are so close.

The fringing and the thin line of embroidered eyelash yarn are all that have been used. The rest is the natural brown and the shop dyed coloured wool.

The "throw" is well over six feet long and about three feet wide. It was knitted on circular needles, not in the round but backwards and forwards, so that each long row could be contained on the needle. Stripes of colour and variations of stocking stitch and garter stitch were used at whim until I ran out of the shop dyed wool. Then I cast off, blocked it and added the fringe and embellishment.

I must now finish the one I started nearly a year ago using the wool I had dyed from the plants in the garden at Raby House.
It will probably be about the same size but in shades of green from the lurid to the dull.
Dreams are that these "FINE OBJECTS" will find a market and that they will sell for enough money to finance the continuation of the hobbies. Selling is yet to be done!!! Ebay is being considered, so is stalls at fairs and so is selling to antique shops and dealers. Other ideas are very welcome.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Tigger has discovered that the best water comes straight out of the tap. She sits and waits for the tap to be turned onto a trickle when she is thirsty. There is a bowl of water in the house and a big bowl of hose/rain water outside, but nothing is as good as the "found" water, wherever it wasn't last time. The kitchen tap is the latest provider. She has attempted to drink water from the toilet but can't reach it but she shows great interest at bath time.

This is a great area for AUCTIONS. It's always a thrill to think you can buy something cheaply and sell it for lots more money. If only you knew what was cheap and where else you could sell it for more.

D has formed an attachment for lamps and the latest purchase is a grand ships's lamp. It should be lit to indicate a "ship at anchor" and therefore not under command. The actual light is not there but the massive metal container is in great condition.

At a previous auction elsewhere, I bought the brass carriage lamp shown blurrily in front of the ship's lamp. It looked like a load of old tin and poorly plated iron, but with a good clean up is shining up to be solid brass.

Great discoveries were made today. I live half an hour away from the biggest retail park in the north-east of England. Stockton Retail Park. It is in four sections and it can be necessary to drive from one to another if it is raining. I was there for four hours. I shall return and spend at least half of that again at the biggest hobbycraft store
I have ever seen.

I did a load of shopping and got some new tops which I badly need.

Cheers Gillian

Friday, 21 August 2009


There are worse places to have a coffee.

In the town of St Mere Eglise in Normandy, there are many reminders of the Allied invasion. It was in fact the first town to be re-taken by airborne troups and JOHN STEELE(paratrooper) was unfortunate enough to get his parachute caught on the steeple of the church. He was left hanging there for a couple of hours. He had been shot through the foot and decided to play dead. After a couple of hours the Germans got him down and took him prisoner.

He didn't like it and escaped.

This is the Hotel De Ville and it was outside here that it all started.

There is also a museum well worth visiting.

This last picture shows the reconstructed inside of a Horsa Glider which brought in the airborne troops. Things like this are so amazing.

Anyway, after we had seen all these amazing things we went off into the town.

Believe me: John Steele was lucky he couldn't get down from the steeple to buy a coffee at the C47 Cafe.

It was £4 pounds each for the thinnest cheese and ham toastie I have ever seen in my life and £3 for the worst paper cup of dishwater called Cafe Latte anyone on this earth has got away with selling.

Maybe I should keep a coffee blog! The best I have found in Darlo is at The Imperial and a pretty good one is at The Arts Centre. Bishop hasn't produced one yet and Melbourne is sadly missed for its really great coffee everywhere.

Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


The electricity was off for the day (they had sent us a letter) while some major power distribution changes were being made in the local area. I heard my next door neighbour up and about and even hoovering early this morning. You usually can't hear anything but there was no competition at 7.30am.
Then at 8.30am everything went silent. The fridge stopped whirring, and the electric clock stopped ticking but worst of all the gas boiler and cooker work on electronic ignition and so....... I went out.
I found Seaton Carew. It is the nearest seaside to this house and I liked it and will visit again. Then I went to Hartlepool and found the biggest Asda I have ever seen. It didn't have more variety, though, just more of the same stuff. But it did have these pet beds for £5. And guess who likes hers.
I have placed it on the spot she has favoured for the last few weeks. She changes her favoured place now and then and I can easily move it to match. Also it goes in the washing mashine (although, preferably not with clothes....I've done that before and distributed her fur very fairly amongst the rest of the wash ).
While I was at Asda I had some coffee. I was desperate because I had not had one at home. I don't think I will ever be desperate enough to have a coffee at Asda again.
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 17 August 2009


I was very worried about Tigger while I was away. She needs people. She needs to hear voices and music and TV, and she follows the sounds around. I bought her a quacking duck from Hawkins Bazaar and treated her to her new toy after I picked her up this morning.

She was not amused at all. She howled horribly all the way home.

She showed no fondness for her clockwork duckling, no little frisson of excitement at all. I might as well have thrown a lump of old bread at her.

She is keeping very close to me and is watchful of my moves as you can see. She has tried my lap, my laptop, my bed, my sofa seat and of course the table.

Luckily, I have a large table and there is room for her at the other end and on the chairs under the table. I gave up on the two velvet cushions in the snug, which had built up a thick veneer of cat fur and I could not get it off. I threw them away and bought two new ones!!!

I picked up a bag of plums from my sister's tree yesterday. I have made some into bases for plum-crumbles but the pot of stuff is still a bit runny. I know that I have three options.

* Cook it more so that the liquid is reduced, this could turn it into jam.

* Add cornflour, or preferably, arrowroot which is translucent.

* Turn it into jam, sponge fillings etc.

I will not throw it away. I will make it into something, somehow. Any advice would be great because there is another bag of plums and they are still firm but ripening up. They will probably become Plum Butter and the recipe will follow. You don't need a recipe for the above. It is just pitted plums, fried in butter and then add vanilla essence, star anise, cinnamon sticks, red wine, syrup and sugar. My result is still very runny so I will do some dodgy stuff tomorrow. I think I will try arrowroot. I think it thickens but stays translucent, whereas cornflour makes it all go cloudy.

Any other advice on thickening up the plum stuff so that the sponge/crumble/cobbler topping won't sink into it!!!

Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 16 August 2009


After spending a week in Brittany eating Moules et Frites, sailing on the inlet, drinking copious amounts of wine, riding bikes, walking the coastal path, visiting the villages, towns, shops, megaliths etc. and thoroughly enjoying the company and the weather... we headed home.
This is my sister and her husband in the sailing boat taking us out on the ria. Their house is just to the left behind the fir tree. We motored out for half an hour and then sailed back in with all three red sails up to catch the air. Deft manouevring to avoid the oyster beds is necessary. They are marked by sticks in the water which show the extent but not the depth of the beds. The days were much like this and the holiday was wonderful.

We queued for a space on the ferry from Cherbourg to Portsmouth behind David Cameron, who was also returning from a holiday in France. We have certainly had a much better week since our return than he has, as Tories continue to speak out of turn and whisk him straight back into politics with a small p, let alone the rest of the stuff.

We were in Dorset and the sun shone, the clouds decorated the edges of the sky and we took the chain ferry from Sandbanks to Studland Bay. The worst thing we did was walk to the top of Old Harry Rocks and frighten one another by going not-very-close to the edge of the cliffs.

Buddy the dog scared the living daylights out of his owner the day before by doing this off Old Harry. He perhaps had the worst week!

Friday, 14 August 2009


I never had a bike as a child and so I never learned to ride one. It has been on my list of "things to do before..." for a while now and at last my opportunity came. My sister and her husband and in-laws have a house in Brittany and D and I joined them for a holiday. It was a holiday of FIRSTS.

My first taste of snails.

My first sail in a proper sailing boat.

And my first real bike ride.

It's true I have one foot on the ground in these photos but after three wobbly laps of the quay I worked out the relationship between the handlebars and the wobble. A day later I worked out the gears and then I was off. D and I got up early each morning ( my hair is still wet from the shower) and rode a mile or more to the Boulangerie for the breakfast croissants and baguette and to the Tabac for the daily paper.

We took the back lanes to avoid any traffic and lengthened the route slightly to leave out a steep hill.

The first picture shows me in the Impasse des Fleurs. The house is up this lane and so setting off was always safe.

I had grabbed some balls of wool from my stash which were left over from my time in Oz. They came from the Bendigo Knitting Mill....a bargain hunter's delight. I combined a couple of colours and knitted up a shopping tote

This was handy for hanging over the handlebars with the bread and papers.

There were flowers everywhere. This is a small square across the road from the shops and I was taken by the flowers and by the sign at the disabled parking space.

"Si tu prends ma place, prends aussi mon handicap"

The bike was great, the sailing was wonderful and I shan't bother with snails ever again.

Cheers Gillian