Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for May, 2022

Books May 22

So much for reading my own books , these are all from the library. I popped down there yesterday to return some , and borrowed more. But some corkers for June, meantime here’s what I read this month.

Sylvia Townsend Warner- Lolly Willowes- Loved the first part of this classic novel set at the start of the 20th century. Laura Willowes is the stay at home unmarried daughter , acting as Lady of the Manor to her father. She has two absent brothers. Lovely discription of her home and life. Then her father dies, one brother takes over the running of the family business and his wife the running of the house. Laura goes to live in London with her other brother, wife and children where she becomes Aunt Lolly. Really enjoyed this section. Lolly misses the countryside and moves herself to the Chilterns. Here she encounters a feeling of other worldliness and time stood still. But then it just got a bit silly with paganism etc. Could have gone a different way and I really wish it had.

Tana French – In the Woods- I found a box set to watch on I Player called the Dublin Murders. It was good. I noticed that it was based on the novels by Tana French, whom I had never heard of. Quick look on the library Web page and I realised the TV drama was based on two not one novel. The first being In the Woods. Oh my goodness me it is so good. Yes it ‘s a murder story and a psychological thriller but it’s so much more. Nearly 600 delicious pages long its big for either of these genres. So what did I love. Two big things. First her description of childhood and long hot summers spent outdoors with friends, and second the way she develops the working relationship of her two detectives is simply sheer genius. I’m not telling anymore of the plot because I just want everyone to immediately read this book. I wasn’t at all surprised when I googled it to discover it had won multiple prizes. I just can’t figure out why I had never heard of her. But there we are. Certainly the best book I have read this year.

Andy Weir- The Martian- this is a science fiction/fantasy novel according to the library classification, not my usual choice but it came highly recommended. Imagine an astronaut left for dead by his fellow crew members on Mars. It doesn’t bear thinking about. But he is highly skilled, and goes into survival mode as a modern day Robinson Crusoe. Then mission control realises he’s alive, and mounts a rescue operation, but what about the crew who left him behind? It was a real page turner. I found the technical stuff rather confusing and would have liked less of that and more on the emotional side of the situation, but it wasn’t that kind of a book. Thoroughly enjoyable and good to read outside of my usual genres.

I have nearly finished my current book, but it can wait till June. Have you read any of these, what did you think?


Balance- May

Balance, the word I chose to help me this year as I build a life as a new widow.

First of all thank you everyone for your support, help and encouragement you showed me in your comments last month. They all help me so much.

I got an A4 sheet of paper this month and wrote down all the daily and weekly tasks, followed by some longer term things, and things I could do to have a balanced month So often I wonder at the end of the day, well just what did I do toda? So easy is it for things to be overlooked. Like the hour I’ll never get back finally getting round to changing the name on my mobile phone account. Why it ever had Mr E’s name on it I don’t know, it’s always been my number with my email address. Or the hour spent on a pair of broken sunglasses. Don’t ask.

I’ve written clean oven too, but that involves reading manual re automatic cleaning buttons. Strikes me if I have to read a manual and push buttons there’s nothing remotely automatic about it. I’d almost sooner get out the Mr Muscle and do it myself. I reward myself with a tick if I make some progress with a task. Weeding for example has lots of ticks but is probably one of those tasks you never get to cross out completely. Like ironing.. But now there’s only me I do a lot less.

Having said that, two days after compiling my list I threw myself totally off balance. What happened was the family started to book holidays . Mr J was first. He suggested we all join him in the All Inclusive hotel/ resort/ Greek Island they had chosen. I gave it due consideration and decided it would be too hot for me, plus they really need time as a family. Mr T and family were next… Ditto very hot , all inclusive etc.

Now I thoroughly enjoy holidays but I will be completely honest the idea of going as a solo traveller somewhere scorchio post Brexit, post Covid doesn’t appeal. I gave careful thought to things like rail holidays, craft retreats, garden tours but none appeal yet… I thought long and hard about everything that quite frankly frightened me a bit, a lot. In the end the really rather obvious struck me.I wanted to go somewhere familiar , where I knew just what to expect. Moreover somewhere I loved.

I found a holiday cottage up on the North York Moors, when the heather will be at its peak, and I can enjoy dark skies at night, not in one of the little towns I know so well, but way up one of the Dales. I slept on the idea a couple of nights, and then booked it.

The idea of being there overwhelmed me. Something, grief , for everyone I have lost in the last seven years broke. I wept like never before.

Now I am simply very excited. Started to get in touch with old friends, I mean people I have known since my age could be counted on two hands. I drew up an itinerary of everywhere I’d love to visit. I would need a month not a week. It was such a sensible choice and if all goes well I know that afterwards I will have confidence to go to New places.

Excited as I am at the thought of the familiar I am really proud of myself for having made contact with new people in new groups and moving forward. I feel as if the past, present and future are balancing themselves out. I am less reliant on the carers groups now, I expect I shall need them over July and August when other things take a summer break, but even then I have tried to think ahead. I have found an art centre in Cirencester and booked myself into two workshops there.

Self sufficiency of a different sort… I love being with family but they need their own time . No doubt the day will come when I am less self reliant, but not yet. Balance for them too.

A new friend Gill complained that she was always faintly anxious she’d forgotten something, she was so busy, needed her lists and reminders. She seemed to imply she needed greater organisation, struck me she needed to ditch something. For one lesson I have learned this year is I can fill many days with fun things to do and people to be with but then I need time alone at home to rebalance.

Getting there.

Please join with Carolyn and other here as they review thier month. Link here- https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com/2022/05/29/one-word-checking-in-may

Kelmscott Manor#1

Subtitle- The Exterior.

Last week I visited Kelmscott Manor, Summer residence of William Morris and his family. I took rather a lot of photos, and even with ruthless selection too many for one post.

William Morris was born on 24 March 1834 in Walthamstow. His father was a shrewd and successful business man, a trait inherited by his son. In 1840 the family moved to Woodford Hall, a large mansion with a 50 acre park. The family fortune was further enhanced by lucrative mining ventures. Morris enjoyed a privileged childhood, and money was never an issue. From an early age he enjoyed the works of Walter Scott which nurtured his love of the medieval and gothic. He was educated at Marlborough College and at Oxford University. Here he started to develop his ideas of socialism influenced by John Ruskin. He became part of the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists.

He believed that Art as well as education was for everyone. He was a writer, a poet, a weaver , a printer, and of course a designer of fabric and wall paper. He drew inspiration from the natural world and medieval images. Yet, he wasn’t a Luddite, he used machinery if it saved mind numbing work, but he did value the work of skilled craftspeople.

He married Jane Burden who was an artist’s model for Dante Gabriel Rossetti, at the church of St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford. Which you may recall was where my parents married, and where I worked. And in all that time I never knew this, totally gutted. I see another return visit.

Don’t worry, I am nearly at Kelmscott Manor. Morris and Rossetti rented the house together. Eventually Morris got fed up of the menage a trois and pushed off leaving his wife, daughters and friend to it. Rossetti eventually leaves and Morris returns, and sets about creating a super home. The area was and still is prone to flooding and so it was their summer residence. And oh my is it idyllic, And now I will be quiet.

It was originally built in1590, a farm house known as Lower House. It remained in the same family (The Turners) for nearly 300 years with additional rooms and out buildings added as the Turner family prospered.
This house as well as Avebury Manor inspired Kate Morton for her book The Clockmaker’s Daughter. I could really see the similarity both internally and externally
I love the colour of the stonework, the gables and the chimneys.
However, the house was by no means comfortable. No bathroom or internal toilets. This is the privy.
The loo. Three at a time.

After William Morris died his wife Jane and daughter May continued to live here. May eventually moved here permanently and had indoor plumbing installed.

I’ll show the interior in a future post. Love to know if you too admire William Morris and his work. I’m a bit of a fan, did you guess this?

Rice Bag Pouch

I have been rather quiet for a while, just been busy, started far too many things at once hence no finishes to share till now. I bought a lovely kit from https://www.japancrafts.co.uk/#/

Just to say I don’t get paid anything for this link and if you go over before the end of May you get two free gifts if you spend more than £30.

Just saying..

Mini Rice Bag Kit

The instructions were very easy to follow. I did the machine stitching at home, then some handstitching at my embroidery class before finishing it off at home.

Reversible! and looking quite tidy

Sometimes I impress myself.

Perfect for carrying essentials to my embroidery group.

Apparently this style of bag was used in Japan to hold temple offerings of rice and other goods. I think needle and threads are a good thing to carry in it.

Has anyone heard of these bags before?

Scrap Happy May, 22

Time to join with Kate for Scrap Happy day- link to others here- https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2022/05/15/scraphappy-may-sorry-its-rather

I have been making Suffolk Puffs or yoyos if you prefer from my fabric scraps this month for my Stitchbook.

Very simple to make from circles of fabric, gathered on the wrong side and pulled up to form

Pretty little circles which can then be applied as you like


This stitchbook is very much a work in progress. Some of the fabrics were included in the kit, but I have supplemented them with my own scraps. Here are the pages I am currently working on. Should add that although it came as a kit what you do with everything is left entirely to the maker.

So the finished pages will be attached to the pages of the book.

By no means finished any of these yet, there are 12 in all, so I think I’ll be doing monthly check ins here for quite a while.

Do please look at others work via the link at at the start of the post. People really are very talented.

Knit and Natter

And no laughing at the knit part later on. This week has gone all by itself. Do you have weeks like that where you wonder , just what did I do? I know I have cut the grass, and the garden isn’t looking too awful.

These tulips opened up and looked gorgeous.

The weather has been all over the place. Tuesday was cold enough for jumpers again, yesterday sunny and hot and out came the lightweight trousers and top. And we are predicted days hotter than the Med.

I have enjoyed the embroidery group this week. Third time now, and no longer the newbie. We met in a pub , cheap place to meet. Trouble was not enough table space to spread out on. I have started to stitch a stitchbook, materials purchased , well before we moved I think or shortly after.

I had done a lot of preparation at home. Constructed the book, and created basic layouts for all the pages.

Everything was pinned ready to go.

I hadn’t realised quite how much I wanted to change things around, and all the scraps of lace I’d like to add. Plus it’s a slow stitching mindful piece and a pub and chit chat didn’t really work. I’m trying a different project next time and we won’t be in a pub either. Worrying about sticky tables didn’t help. I’ll enjoy finishing this project at home .

Right the knitting. I have been knitting a soft toy. It’s a pattern using tinsel yarn and is for a Highland cow. You know, orange and horns and long hair and very pretty. I figured if I made it yellow it would look like the Oxford United Ox.

Like this.

Only it didn’t quite work out. I blame the pattern. The knitting instructions were fine, it was the construction part that went amiss. I didn’t know what was the front or back or top or bottom, or how the neck was supposed to fit and as for stuff head firmly before adding safety eyes, without telling you which way up the head was. All I can say is I did my best.

It does as my son said, look more like a pig!

Ah well, can’t win them all. I’ll stick to baby wear for a while now.

I hope you have nice things planned for the weekend. It’s Baby P’s christening on Sunday. Looking forward to it a lot, and tomorrow a plant sale!

Take care,

Cathy x

Felted Landscape#2

Following the workshop earlier in the year I decided to have a go at one at home, as I had all the necessary materials.

Roving a plenty

At the class we didn’t use the lethal needles I was familiar with, but a nifty gadget. Mr Amazon got one to me in a day.

Lots of needles in one, with protection from inadvertently stabbing oneself.
Piece of ordinary white acrylic felt.

Start to lay out the roving to form the landscape.

Add some more and commence stabbing
Add in more colours and start to create details like trees.

I swapped my tools at this point for the single needle. Care needed not to snap it. I did.

I used a card to frame it, to aid decision making.

Onto the final stage of embroidering it, with stem stitch, French knots and a button that was just right.

The sun ray is wrong, but otherwise reasonably content with my solo effort,

I’ve borrowed a book from the library with some useful ideas. Really enjoying this. Love to know if anyone has tried needlefelting, how do you get on? Or have you branched out recently to try something else new to you?

Silent Sunday

Bluebell wood, April 2022

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