Sunday, 17 July 2011

In praise of the allotment

So, no pics unfortunately, but I wanted to quickly rave about the allotment.

Rob goes every weekend, usually for 2 or 3 hours. He does weeding, strimming, watering and harvesting.

Out plot won't win prizes for neatness but with this small investment of time we are getting so much food!

The spinach and chard keeps on coming. The onions are ready. We've had the first sack of potatoes, with many more to come. The strawberries are over but we had loads and they were delicious. The borlotti beans are coming on nicely, some might need picking. The peas are developing. Courgettes, squash and pumpkins are coming along. Rob is in the process of building net supports for the PSB and cabbages.

I have a load of carrots I'm going to turn into soup. It's time to get batch cooking, to preserve some of our crops! Yum.

Finally back to normal

This week we were free to leave the house, no longer contagious - hooray!

Monday was just bliss. Freddie did an impression of someone who was doing nothing:

In fact he was totally occupied - listening to a story on a CD, and observing the birds to-ing and fro-ing at the bird feeder.

Once his CD was finished we popped into town to run a couple of errands. The kids played in the fountains.

After lunch we went for a walk down the tow path. It seems we saw everything we'd missed in the previous week, all in a couple of hours! Moorhen chicks (tiny, fluffy, black, the cutest things), ducklings, an orange/yellow ladybird with no spots, a red kite flying low, a pair of dragonflys with unusual markings on their wings, huge fish basking in the warm water, and we picked half a small white (empty) egg and some iridescent duck feathers.

Freddie chatted to the fishermen we passed. There were 3, each fishing differently from each other. One sat on the bank, waiting for a bite, one was fly fishing, and one was walking along pulling his line through the water.

We stopped at the playground, had a play and an ice cream.

Later, at home, we were going to use this abandoned traffic cone in a police game.

But when I picked it up, there was an ants nest underneath. It was incredible - we could see the tunnels and the eggs. The ants went crazy. There were regular ants and flying ants. The white things at the bottom of the photo are the eggs. There were small one and bigger ones. We guessed the bigger ones were the flying ants, but must look it up.

After a while I replaced the cone and left them in peace.

Later in the week we went to the Buckinghamshire Goat Centre. There are goats of course, rhea, sheep, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, hens, pigs, ponies, a donkey, a llama, chipmonks.

They had all sorts of activities on. Freddie held a week old guniea pig[let]. We watched a ferret race. We all helped feed some lambs and kids their milk.

The kids bounced, slid, swung and played in the playground.

Meg spent a lot of her time power crawling, and the rest of the time here:

On the way out as walked round the last field, Freddie spotted a goat had got itself caught in the fence. He ran back to tell the manager. It took her a few minutes to free the goat, as it had got its head caught twice somehow.

Here is the goat, free and happy!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Year of projects - 2 blankets and a stole

This is my first update post, and I haven't cast on anything new yet.

I'm in the middle of a quiltalong, with a deadline to meet later in the month as it's a retirement present for my mum. So it's been all about the sewing and ironing here!

I do have some knitting on the go too though, all WIPs before the 1st July.

I started a simple lace stole when we on holiday at the end of June. I'm still not sure about the yarn - I frogged a partly completed Trillian shawl as the yarn just didn't look right to me - maybe this will end up gifted...

I have a granny stripe blanket on the go. It's on hold for the summer as it's big enough to cover my legs now. I've done 34 stripes and I made the beginning chain reallllly long. It's going to be massive, and a stripe takes an hour.

I'm also working on another blanket, the fabulous Lizard Ridge. This is definately a long term project, to be slotted in between other work. I've completed 2 squares, and I love them both! I just love how the colours change in Noro Kuyreon, and how well the knitting pattern works with it.

Here are the balls for the next two squares - I'm ridiculously excited about how they'll turn out.

Hobbycraft opened a new store within walking distance yesterday, and it's an enormous one. On two floors. With lots of fabric, and lots of yarn, and more things I really don't need but really want.

I went in twice, but was extremely restrained and came out with one ball of yarn. It was Rowan Lima, in a really lovely mossy shade of green (the photo is rubbish, the colour is much richer). I'm going to use it to cast on a Sev[en] Circle for my friend's 40th. That's in two weeks, so I'd better get on with it.....

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Kaleidoscope QAL - some progress

I'm running slightly behind on this due to the holiday last week and kids illness this week.

I've pieced and ironed just over half of the printed triangles, and decided on the design. This sounds like I spent some time on it! It's pretty much the first layout I tried, but I liked it. I'm working to deadline so thought I'd stick with what I had.

I'm making it for my mum, who retires later this month. I really think she'll like it. I think I'm going to order a label I can sew into it, with the date and her name.

I'm looking forward to getting to the next part and making up the blocks.

Chicken pox sucks

Both the girls have chicken pox now. Another week in quarantine. Poor Freddie is restless. He hasn't played with anyone except Jarvis for nearly 3 weeks.

The last couple of days have been tricky, with Betsy and Meg feeling rough. There's been an awful lot of simultaneous crying. We've done a few things to try and keep busy, but it's not easy.

Freddie adorned the windows with dinosaur stickers.

We made a cosy den outside, for lunch and play.

We did some sticking. Freddie made superglittery people (which will turn into thank you cards as soon as I make the time).

Betsy made a couple of chicken pox people!

We did some painting, and playdough. Freddie painted me a rainbow.

It started to rain outside, so the den came in. Betsy made a nest in there.

Freddie wanted 'the best toast ever' made from home made bread. So we made the bread, and he enjoyed the toast (and so did I).

That was all on Monday. Tuesday and today have been pretty much written off. Fred has been so patient, and helped me out so many times. He ran out to get the washing in when it started raining and Betsy was asleep on my lap. He's fetched things for himself, for me, and the girls. I'm so proud of him.

I cannot wait until chicken pox has left this house!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

I love the Flaming Lips (plus, how cool is Alexandra Palace?)

We returned home from holiday at 5pm, and were out the door (leaving the kids with my mum) at 7pm. We were on our way to the Alexandra Palace in north London.

I've lived in or around west London for most of my life, and never been to Ally Pally. It's amazing. It's on top of a hill and the views over London are spectacular.

The building itself is wondeful. It was built in the 1870s and is very grand.

We were there to see The Flaming Lips perform their album The Soft Bulletin. We saw them once before in Victoria Park and knew they put on a great show.

There were giant balloons suspended from the ceiling.

Then it started, with a riot of lights, lasers, balloons, and confetti. Just the most wonderful thing!

They are brilliant. It was a fantastic night.

Our holiday in the forest

We went to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest, with Rob's mum and dad. I didn't really know what to expect, and was totally bowled over by the location. It was beautiful!

Close to our cabin was a lake, a stream, a couple of waterfalls, and the place was teeming with wildlife. As soon as we arrived, a young swan called by to let us know we were expected to feed our neighbourhood wildfowl.

The swan was soon joined by an older swan pair, some ducks, moorhens and their chicks, rabbits and squirrels. It felt like we were in a Disney forest (tra la la la la!).

Pretty much as soon as we were settled, Rob took the big kids swimming. They loved it! The pool had a waterslide for young children, a boat rapids waterslide that is really fast and enormous fun, a wave machine, all sorts. They went swimming every day, mostly with Rob.

On Tuesday it was Gerry's 79th birthday. We went out for dinner, to Strada. Betsy ate nothing, had a bit of a meltdown and left early with Rob. Freddie ate gralic bread and some chips. I hope one day eating out gets easier.

Wednesday was busy busy busy. Mave and I went to the spa. Mave had a head and shoulder massage, and I had a manicure. Lovely.

We got back in time to see Rob have a falconry session. It was amazing. He handled 5 birds - a barn owl, a buzzard, a caracara, a kookaburra and a bird we can't remember

Freddie loved it too, and was fascinated by the whole thing. Afterwards he said it was much more excting than he thought it would be.

After that we played crazy golf. Freddie and Betsy raced around superfast. Mave and Gerry took it a little more seriously.

Next up was a mooch around the lake on a pedalo.

Then the kids played in the playground. There were swings:

climbing frames:
very exciting water engineering set-ups:
and icecream:

Meg spent her time getting round either on the front of my bike (shame on us for taking no photos of this, she loved it), or in a wrap. Granny got to push Meg a couple of times in the buggy too.

Thursday we missed a thunder storm as we were bowling.

We left on Friday afternoon, after a marathon swimming session for F and B and a toodle around the village for M.

We had a brilliant time. We'd taken lots of food so didn't spend too much in the expensive shop. The activities on offer were fab. We've booked for next year (very kindly paid for by my in laws) so I think we'll book activities slowly over the year to spread the cost. Can't wait!