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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Tornado Close Up And In All Its Glory

This gorgeous machine was built by volunteers, using public subscriptions, over the last few years, at a railway workshop in Darlington. It returned to Shildon (Locomotion Museum) this week and is in pride of place in the large shed.

We walked up the Shildon hill and then took a short cut along the footpath which follows the first railway line, past the old engine and wagon sheds and into the museum area. The place was buzzing with train enthusiasts, primary schools and us. It is a magnificent and enormous reproduction of a Peppercorn Class engine. Beautifully finished and ready to drag the Mallard up from York next month.We walked back along the old railway line path towards Brusselton Incline and then down the hill to home. The early foals are all long legged and lying around in the sun, with the lovely weather we are having. The older horses seem to be able to sniff out the apples in DJ's bag and he often has them pushing at the gates for a fruit feed. The moving in is settling down. The furniture all fits well and those dozens of boxes of bits, that one has at the end, are being sorted into some fine order. The bookshelves are being rationalised, textile boxes are being stacked and vast quantities of wires with various fittings like skarts, usbs, co-axials, and such-like, previously stored in big, black bin-bags, are being disposed of. It is finally realised that they are not valuable enough to fill up the available space anymore.
Tomorrow is "Orange, 241" at the cinema and a 241 pizza to follow and Thursday is a trip to the Gala Theatre in Durham to see "The 39 Steps" and my sister will join us.
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 24 April 2010

A Lovely Spring So Far

Wonderful weather! We went on a walk today, lead by Leader Neville; around the Lumley area near Chester-le-Street. We walked from Great Lumley, down to the River Wear and along past the Riverside Cricket Ground, on and up to the rear of Lumley Castle (now a top notch hotel) and then on through the woods. They smell of garlic from the ransoms, and the bluebells are just coming out as the wild daffodils die off. We carried on across the landscape, now returned to greenery after the closure of the coalmines and railways many decades ago.
The sun shone, the larks ascended, the red admirals flew and there were signs of new birth everywhere. At home the courtyard garden continues to develop. The wisteria in this tub is destined to climb and spread and festoon the front of the house with fragrant fronds every spring. It should take off well because the front of the house faces south-east and gets all the morning sun.
This is the walled south-eastern corner of the garden and is sheltered all day and sunny in the afternoon, so it has the herb garden around the crab apple tree. This was a tumbled patch of dumped earth a few weeks ago but DJ has transformed it into a herb garden. The herbs are already being used on a regular basis in the kitchen. I love, particularly, the oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Mint, sage and parsley are there too, but I use them less often. Tigger has a passion for the chives.
The external clothes drier needed a secure hole in the ground to hold the hoist and lines. This grand old railway wheel has sufficient weight to control a whole drying load. The socket fits well into the ground and the line spins round. This is the first time I have dried clothes outdoors for a year and a half!!!

The first foals have been born, just around the corner. Usually it is the first of May before foals are dropped. After the long cold winter, this long spell of warm spring weather has helped them to arrive safely.
But even so, some of the plants in our sheltered courtyard garden suffered from the frost two nights ago.
The verdict on their survival is still out.
Cheer for now Gillian

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Slowly Does It

I'm only doing my socks at half the rate that Sue
is doing hers and hers look lovely, as does all her knitting and sewing. My socks are gorgeous because the yarn is. There is no real pattern to them. There is enough wool to wind a small ball away at the end of the first sock and then knit the second sock to match the stripes.
Mind you I bought a couple of pairs of golfing socks at ALDI, with argyle leg bits, in a pack....for £2.99. Why do I knit them?
I shall probably do one pair every couple of months. Sue does a pair a month, plus a small item of clothing for someone's baby plus a present for a cousin or such plus some really lovely sewing.
Good on you Sue!
The days are warming up a bit here. The yard is turning into a gorgeous courtyard and being less of a carpark. Wisteria has been potted to grow up the house and all the herbs required by the normal kitchen have been planted in the sunny corner.
I'm off socks and have printed off the free Rowan pattern for Toasty Slipover in their selection of free patterns. It's a straight forward double knitting vest. Just the sort of thing I like.

Next week heralds a major change in my life.
DJ moves in. He plans to sell his house and co-own this one with me. This will be our home.
Major events for both of us, great excitement, lots of hard work and a future we are both really looking forward to. We've had such a wonderful time so far and there's lots more to come.

DJ has introduced Tigger to Whiskas Temptations since he witnessed the adoration that my brother's fat moggy gave him, when the little box of goodies was rattled within earshot. Tigger has picked up on it quickly and she nearly begs for the little morsels.
She doesn't even know that I can distribute the same stuff. I picked up the box and rattled it today and she just ignored me. DJ rules in this area.
Lovely sunshine here, hope it is with you,
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 4 April 2010


This is the castle round the corner....well only a small is ten minutes drive away really. Raby Castle is the home of Lord Barnard and is the largest, permanently, inhabited castle in England. It was open on Easter Sunday for an Easter Egg Hunt, so most of the people, pushchairs and families were in the grounds. DJ and I were in the castle with a few other adults.The castle and grounds are grand. The interior cannot be photographed but can be viewed on the website. The old moat is mostly dry but a couple of feeder lakes are still full of water.In the summer, local league cricket matches are played on the castle cricket ground and it is lovely to sit and watch the cricket with the castle as a backdrop. At the moment it is so wet that the duck are grazing the field. Alison came to put up the bedroom blinds today. The house is nearing completion. We are settling down at the end of a great day, for a slow roast leg of lamb and a good bottle of red.
Cheers to all, Gillian

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Now I Have Everything!

I never had a bike as a child because we lived in London and my father deemed it too dangerous.
So I never learned to ride one properly until last summer, when we were in France, and I borrowed one of the spares from the garage and rode with DJ to the baker's every morning for the bread.
Many of the old railway lines in this area have been turned into bike paths and so apart from our "Walking Programme" we have been intending to develop a "Biking Programme" to keep ourselves fit. That meant I had to get a bike.
I wanted a vicar's wife's bike, with a basket on the front and because I knew nothing about bikes but knew what I wanted to be seen sitting on, I resisted strongly anything coloured pink, blue, or lavender. Pashleys were too dear for someone who might give up bike-riding after her second trip to the shops, even though they look gorgeous and mountain bikes were absolutely a no-no.
Then this one popped up on ebay. It was just a few miles away and very desirable, but I was outbid by someone more determined than I and with seemingly endless funds.
Apparently when they went to collect it they found that they were too small for the frame and reneged on the deal so the seller rang me up and offered to bring it round for me to try. I tried it. I liked it and I bought it. It was a better bargain second time round too.
Shame about bike helmet styles!
Best easter egg ever.
Cheers Gillian