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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

So This Is How They Do It!

On a bike ride across Brusselton Hill, to assess the ripeness of the blackberries we spotted this. Hay-making! These days it involves a lot of machinery and few people. The tractor was just dumping a black-plastic covered hay bale. There were five tractors operating in the fieldOne was raking up the hay into long piles. Another was sucking the piles up into a baler and spitting out big round rolls of hay. Two were bringing the bales to the black plastic binding machine, from each end of the field and the last one was attached to the black plastic wrapping thingy. But this is how they do it! The bale rolls around and around and up and down and is thoroughly bandaged by the gadget on the back of the tractor. It then dumps it off the end like a great roll of glad-wrapped/cling-filmed left overs.The blackberries are not really ripe enough yet.
Cheers Gillian

Friday, 20 August 2010

Bobbins and Blankets

The weather has been so dismally unpredictable, that during the gloomy, humid spells I have resorted to some winter hobbies. We did manage a lovely walk along the cliffs yesterday clambered down steep steps to a sun-drenched cove backed by tall cliffs where we sat on the rocks and had a picnic. All on our own!
But today it is wet and grey so I continue to trade in lace-making bobbins. These are some well used and hand decorated plain sticks but they have very old buttons and bone beads as spangles, which I find more fascinating than some of the newer sparkling rhinestones I frogged a UFO and rewound the wools in order to knit squares for a blanket. They were the wools I had spun and dyed while I was in Staindrop and the yellows and greens are from the plants in that original "Walled Garden". Not enough for a garment and not regular in thickness, they are perfect for patchwork squares. The colours vary according to the type of plant, the part of the plant and the mordant used.

The stitches vary according to whether I'm watching the test match or the recent programme on the miners' strikes, "Strike: When Britain Went To War". That required concentration on the subject matter and so stocking stitch predominated. I was in Oz for the Thatcher era and much of the news footage used was new to me. I was astounded at the way the police force was manipulated and used. I was also astounded at the clear arrogance of Scargill and his petty vanity.
We walk in beautiful scenery today. The scars of the coal-mining industry have been obliterated and local knowledge is needed to point out the vestiges of the gigantic eyesores that were the pits.

I reckon there are enough squares here for a third of a throw. If the weather continues, it may not take long to complete. Time then to get the spinning wheel turning again.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sweet Success

It's difficult to fit a good "yorkshire" on the plate!
In days gone by, the yorkshire pudding was served as a starter with a load of gravy on it. This was to reduce everyone's appetite before the expensive roast meat was dished up. As children we were given yorkshire pudding as a dessert with syrup on it. This was also an economy measure.
DJ has mastered the new stove and has settled on a particular baking dish and a two egg batter mix which he now "throws together" at the drop of a hat. This time it was to accompany the Barnsley chops (two loin chops joined at the bone like a wing), mash, greens and sweetcorn. A jug of mushroom gravy awaits on the table.

Not to be outdone, the next day I bought some puff pastry. First of all I made a chicken pie. The problem with a round pie dish is that there is a strip of left over pastry from the ready-made oblong block.Left over puff pastry has to remain in its layers, so I just rolled it out flat, put it in a baking dish, pinched up the edges to make a tart and filled it with thin slices of marzipan (from a left-over xmas block at the back of the cupboard), then a layer of apple, then scattered it with currants, sprinkled it with spice and drizzled it with honey. Then baked it.

Yum, we even had the left overs for breakfast the next day with the rest of the custard.

Off now for another long walk along the prom at Seaton Carew for calorie counterwork.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 9 August 2010


In Oz there are ubiquitously available cooking tongs with little metal collars which slide down and keep the legs together.
Unlike these indecorously common English ones! Friends from Oz were imminently due and so I emailed them to bring some collared ones to replace the one pair I had left.
A fantastic selection arrived. Large, medium, small, silicone tipped and the everyday, tinny ones. Enough for a lifetime maybe. I shall not claim so in case they seem to run out too soon.

We toured the Moors and the Dales. This is a view not far from Reeth in Swaledale.

This is a sheep not far from Reeth in Swaledale.

And this is Richmond in Swaledale. The one in Melbourne does not have a coat of arms!
S and K are "en vacance" for a while and have now taken off in a hire car to see more Dales and find the Lake District. We also managed to fit in Robin Hood's Bay, Durham City and Cathedral, shopping, eating and a night out at the Gala Theatre in Durham to see a comedy show.
We shall remain "chez nous" today and go off to see the Tall Ships leave Hartlepool tomorrow.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


I'm the queen of the castle! Tigger lacks great heights to climb. Her wild-tree-cat genes encourage her to try anything eg. curtains, cars etc. She still can't see over the top of the wall or hedge. The crab apple tree will get her there next year but she won't think much of it when she sees it. The factory roof will be in the same place! I harvested a double heap of lace making bobbins at Watson's Auction House this morning. We sorted them and spread them along the sideboard.
They are mostly antique turned ones and some are pewter decorated with tiger stripes and leopard spots and two have butterflies. The glass bead spangles are really old on many of them and they are a pleasure to have in such quantity. It makes them all look like a pile of glorious treasure.

There was also a fabulous home-made pillow. The stuffed rollers sat in a stuffed green cushion, held on a solid wooden base, so that it will sit safely on a table top. This has been listed on ebay but is only suitable for "pick-up" because it would be too hard to pack and post. It has some lace, patterns, cottons, linens, velvet backing, piercers, parchment, patterns bobbins and two spare drums. I hope someone wants it and that it goes to a good home.
I've had a go at bobbin lace making and can do it reasonably well but I don't think I should add it to the list of other arts and crafts I love, do and rarely complete.
We went for a three-miler up the hill and back around the farm shop, before coming home to make chicken pie for tea and stopped on the way to take our fill of wild raspberries. There were a couple of apple trees nearby and it is likely that this was once a garden of a cottage along the old railway line. It was not far from the site of the first railway sidings in the world! They are no longer there...hardly National-Trust-worthy at the time. Maybe the shunter had a cottage there and the fruit is from the garden.
I heard from Heide today about sock blanks. I had never heard of them before but they are the next thing on my list of must haves.
Cheers Gillian