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Wednesday, 23 March 2011


Off to the seaside! It was the only way to play the day because the weather was just so gorgeous. We have to make the most of it "oop north". We headed for Seaton Carew, which is our nearest seaside. The tide was the furthest out we have ever seen it. I presume that this is the spring tide effect, linked to the moon being nearest to the earth last weekend. We had to walk for ages to get to the sea and things were exposed that we have never seen before. The beach was enormous. This is the view, after we had walked for an hour, back towards Seaton Carew.
This is the view of the sand under the water at my feet. I was wearing gumboots so that I could paddle about and this was the pattern of ripples under about two inches of slack tide near the water's edge. I loved the pattern.
At the jetty to the north of the entry to Teesport, an enormous object had been uncovered. No idea what it was, but it was about eight feet long and solid rusty metal.
We had a great lunch at the Staincliffe and then came home to the start of a new roof.
Great stuff all round.
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 21 March 2011


The first lamb can be a good indicator of spring, but the first foal is my "sure thing" for spring. This photo is a bit blurry because the foal was wary and although another member of the family followed us on our walk, hoping for more carrots, the baby stayed safely back. We were walking with the Durham Guided Walks group and this little cob came as far as it could and managed to get about four carrots from DJ.
We haven't walked much lately. It's not easy to walk whilst wearing glasses, in the rain, but the fine weather got us on track again. A lovely walk around the riverside in Durham on Saturday was followed by this trek along old railway lines on Sunday. In fact, part of it was along the first passenger railway line in the world. Before steam engines, ponies hauled the coal and mineral-ore wagons along these early lines.

Coal mines were very plentiful in the area around us. Here is a major subsidence on the "right of way" near our Sunday walk, which has recently appeared. There was a coal mine just up the hill from this point and this "sink" is probably over an underground tunnel. There was also evidence of an underground fire shown as blackened soot layers in the red clay.

Today was such gorgeous weather that the Botanic Gardens in Durham beckoned. It was a tad early for the daffodils and azaleas but we shall return in a couple of weeks. The ponds were full of frogs and spawn. The trees and bushes were at bud burst and the sun shone quite warmly on us as we ate our lunch outside.

Tom cats are around. Tigger is in bushy tail mode to make herself look more alarming to any unwanted visitor as she heads for the door.

She is getting a new cat flap in a couple of weeks. The building is on schedule and the weather continues to be kind to us.
Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Well not for a while anyway. I went to the AGM of my W.I. group last night. There is always a small competition and last night it was "a limerick using a local place name". I picked on Brough, because even though it's not very close, it is considered by those who live up in Teesdale as being just over the top of the next hill. I chose it because it is pronounced Bruff and is easy to rhyme. I got started well but stalled at the last line, then DJ came up with the winner. So off I trotted with my plate of supper ( bag of Cadbury's chocolate drops), my donated prize for the raffle (left over box of Thornton's chocs from xmas), "my" limerick and my calendar of events for next year all neatly typed up...AND...came home with a bunch of tulips for the limerick and nothing else. A successful night.
So here is the limerick.
There was a fine lady from Brough
Who motored round town in the buff
They said it was rude
To drive in the nude
Removing one's hat is enough!
And here are the winning tulips. And some knitting. This is for the felted/fulled bag and is well under way. I haven't done anything like it before so it is proceeding swiftly while my enthusiasm lasts.
Tigger loves it too and has just chased the needles around the room. You may have noticed that there has not been much mention of the photography lessons of late. My enthusiasm for that has waned. I find the teacher a bit tedious and we seem to have done all the topics I like and are now working through topics he likes. His examples are black and white classics from the sixties and seventies when he was at the height of his career, and stunning though they are I'm learning little from them. The other students are helpful and good company and we get a great deal out of looking at all of one another's work.
This afternoon is "Tradesmen", even though it includes tradeswomen and should really have been called "Tradespersons" or simply just "Trades". I am still irked by a general lack of caring about this sort of reference to male/female terms since I came home from Oz. Before that it was "Portraits" and although I have some good ones of both, I shan't post them because I haven't permission.
I realise that I don't want to be a photographer, I don't want to walk around with a large camera hanging round my neck and I'm annoyed by teachers who are badly organised and bumbling.
Off to photography for the penultimate class this afternoon. Back to watercolour painting next term.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I managed to finish enough squares to complete the throw at last. The yellow and green ones and some of the brown ones were hand spun and then dyed with plants from the Raby House garden. The rest are left over wools from the stash. There is a wide variety of fibres so washing will have to be done by hand in the bath. Then I crocheted a picot edging around the outside and finished it off with a press.
Tigger loves it too! I was keen to get it finished because I had spun some tops on the new wheel and had identified a "felted" bag, on the net, to knit and full. I challenged myself to get one project finished before I started the next. I'm now halfway through knitting the bag so I shall blog it next.
The weather continued to be fine. Very cold, but fine and the workers were able to keep going on the building. Here's another view of builder's cleavage. Totally accidental on his part and mine. At least I photographed it from a distance. I'm not sure if it is the same builder or whether they are taking it in turns and NO I haven't studied it in close-up. The concrete is poured, the insulation laid and the top layer of concrete is drying off now.
There was only a slight hiccup when they found an old lead gas pipe with a distinct smell of gas coming from it. The first plumber came round but was too busy to take up all the floorboards because he had a boiler in pieces on someone else's floor, so his mate came round and fixed it later. Fortunately only one floorboard needed to be lifted and none of our appliances were attached to the old pipe so it could safely and easily be cut and capped.

The whole space is still looking smaller than I expected and the walls won't help. Still it always was called the SNUG.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


Tigger looks out of the snug window for the last time. Actually the window was to remain but no-one told the wrecker and he put a sledge hammer through it. A team of wreckers started on the roof, so I hurried next door to apologise to V in case anything fell in her yard.
It was a lovely sunny day and the roof came off tile by tile, rafter by rafter and then the ceiling came down. The soot and dust which had settled in the ceiling over the last century of heating and cooking with coal, spread itself all over the yard and the kitchen. We thought the doorway was boarded off and dust proof, but not so! And a fine view of tradesman's cleavage here!

Luckily this part of the house was cobbled together from the old out-buildings years ago and is only one storey high, but some rudimentary scaffolding was put up and used.

The old fireplace and chimney are exposed and the radiators removed because the new floor will be raised to match the rest of the house.

The roof is now on the ground! The builder is salvaging some of the tiles. Unfortunately they can't be re-used because the pitch of the new roof will be too shallow.

This is what is left after two days of demolition. Trenches have been dug and when the plumber has shifted the pipes and the builders have moved the manhole, some concrete will be poured to make the floor for a new warm snug, a shower room, an entry porch and a small but useable shed.
The contents of all these are down in the rented lock-up and will be presented to you in stages as the progress is made.
Tigger is not impressed. Her catflap got demolished and there is too much noise but she will like it in the end. I have bought her a new catflap which opens when her microchip approaches. It stays open for four seconds so we hope that any cat chasing her is not too close behind.
So this is the beginning of the end. The last big job to do and this house will see us through.
Cheers Gillian