Wednesday 24 July 2024

Young Scientists!

UCL - University College London is consistently ranked among the top ten universities in the world, and rated 2nd in the UK for research power. It was the first British University to award degrees to women - and 150 years ago was a pioneer in Engineering Education. This year, to celebrate a century and a half of that Engineering, UCL held a festival, showcasing all the brilliant stuff they do.
Jon was heavily involved in planning and delivering this event - and got tickets for Rosie, Jess,Bob and myself to visit on Saturday. It was great fun, and we learned lots [and I was too busy to take more pictures]
The girls learned about blood, brains and bones. And lasers, and undersea exploration, and scanners...and so much more
I was impressed by the patient way students explained things to all the children [and adults] The atmosphere was lovely. Jess loved her wristband [which she insisted on calling her bandage] Then a rather splashy handwashing session after lunch in Leon caused it to completely disintegrate. The girl on the entrance desk cheerfully gave her a new one. As the afternoon wore on, we had a quick trip to the Playground next door. 

Jess and I got the bus home, and Rosie and Bob stayed on for a lecture in Bloomsbury Theatre with Andrew Smyth, aerospace engineer, creator and judge of Netflix Baking Impossible. When she got home later, Ro told me all about materials and floating and sinking - how they each had a rice krispie cake and a chocolate button to assist with the experiments. She was positively bubbling with excitement. And did you know, Grandma, that Cadbury's Mini Rolls are the favourite snack of cross channel swimmers? Because if you are attempting this feat, you are not allowed to touch the people accompanying you in the support boat. But CMRs float - so they can throw you a snack and you can gobble it up without breaking the rules! [Its chocolate coat helps it float]
The girls both consider themselves part of the UCL family - their parents work there, and both have loved belonging to the staff nursery. Rosie met up with a buddy from her nursery days and they had a great chat together.
So much work goes into an event like this, and I was so glad we could go with the children. It was all free, too. If it encourages more young people to think about a career in engineering or research, it will be worth al the hard work.
Thank you Jon, and the rest of your team, for making this festival happen!

Tuesday 23 July 2024

Thank You Catriona

Catriona is one of my wonderful blog friends I have yet to meet In Real Life, although we've progressed beyond comments to emails and phone calls, which is lovely. Her OH is a Shedman too, we have lots in common.
Bob and I got back last night from 3 fantastic days in London looking after the girls whilst their Mum and Dad were away. I will post pictures later of the places we went. But I'm too drained after lots of eating, walking, laughing, and being hugged. So I'm borrowing the picture C put on her Facebook page recently. Currently scoring 3 out of 4 on this list...

Monday 22 July 2024

Away In A Manger

I was recently given a "manger" hay basket to hang on the wall and fill with plants. But I needed a liner for it. I visited various local home and garden stores with no success. I ended up buying two circular hanging basket liners for £2.25 each. They are made of coconut fibre.
I used some jute string and two strong needles and stitched them together with saddle stitch. 
[Susie from the Repair Shop would have been proud of me] Mind you it did look like a rather large hairy bra when I took it outside.
Bob mounted the basket on the wall opposite the raised bed. It is just outside the side door, from the Futility Room.
I had compost already, so planted it up with 5 lettuces
My theory is that [a] I can easily pop outside at lunchtime for a few salad leaves, without walking across the muddy grass
[b] I don't think slugs will climb the wall and eat the Lollo Rosso
These plants came in a tray from Swaffham Market and cost less than £1. This was last Saturday when I put them in - they are already flourishing and will be ready to pick tomorrow once we're back from our London weekend. 
When the lettuce season is over, I am considering putting hardy herbs in here over the winter

Sunday 21 July 2024

Mum's Centenary

One hundred years ago today, my Mum was born. She died in 1991, but I still miss her. I went into the loft and found a few old photographs [and spent ages looking through boxes of pictures going back over 60 years and remembering all sorts of past events]

This was part of a collage made for their Ruby Wedding in 1988

This was taken in 1965, when we moved to Norfolk and Dad became Minister at Dereham Baptist Church. I  have the same haircut today

Clacton 1987 - how Mum and Dad loved their granddaughters
How Mum loved to relax with her copy of  The People's Friend!
She was an amazing woman. Born in Romford into an ordinary working class family, the 6th of 7 children [Auntie Peggy was her younger sister] 
She met Dad when they were 15, as WW2 broke out. They started "going out" at 16 and were engaged when they were 18. By this time, Mum had left school and was commuting into London each day to work as a clerk in the Foreign Office. She was whisked off to Bletchley Park and spent the rest of the war as a Codebreaker [no, she never told me a thing about what she did, other than that she had to learn Morse Code] 
After the War, she and Dad believed God wanted them to go to China. So they went off to Scotland to do a theology course and missionary training at a college in Glasgow. Halfway through their course, they married in 1948. But the world situation changed, China would no longer accept Christian Missionaries, so Dad became a Baptist Minister instead. in 1951 Mum became very ill, and would definitely not have survived if she'd been in the Far East. They were back in Romford. In 1955 I came along, and in 1962 my brother Adrian arrived. Dad worked in churches in Kent, Romford, Bishops Stortford, West Hartlepool and Dereham. She had a few part time jobs - but wasn't really fit enough for long hours. But she was an incredible support to Dad's work, running Ladies Groups, doing Pastoral Visiting, and being a great friend to many people. She died in 1991, just two years after Dad retired.
One final picture- Mum's 54th birthday in 1978. My best friend Dorothy was over from Belfast and staying with me for a few days. My new boyfriend offered to drive us up to Norfolk to surprise Mum. 
Here's Mum, Dad, Dorothy, Adrian - and Bob
This was the day my Mum met Bob for the first time. Her comment - "He's a really nice boy, but his hair is a bit long"
He had it cut very short soon after and never grew it quite that long again!
Look at my Dad's awful flares, and my brother's chunky boots [1970's fashions]
I learned so much from Mum, about life, and faith, and caring for others. I was privileged to grow up in a loving home, my parents had a strong marriage, and family life was very important. She would have been so proud of my girls, and their families. 
How the world has changed in the hundred years since Hilda Margaret Spooner entered the world. But her values of love, faith, honesty and service are still the best. 

Saturday 20 July 2024

Graduation Day

In my youth, most people didn't graduate till their twenties. Here's a sunny day in London back in 2006 when Steph graduated.  But now it seems you can graduate at the ripe old age of four when you leave Nursery and go to Big School. 

In 2020, during Lockdown, Rosie's Nursery had to postpone their Graduation Ceremony. Parents were asked to send in a photograph of their child in a mortar board. Rosie was with me at "Grandma's Nursery" and we made this together from black card

Now it's George's turn. His Nursery produced the outfits, and commemorative keyrings for the parents! George also received an award certificate for "creating the best Lego Models"
Time flies so fast! Steph also received a poem about two special days in a child's life - birth, and the first day of school.

God bless these little ones, and their parents as they face the huge changes ahead...

Friday 19 July 2024

The Beginning...

When we were in Paris, we visited Musée Carnavalet, dedicated to the history of the City. We went there back in 2006 and loved it, and wanted to spend some more time there. It is set in two adjoining mansions, on three floors - with a courtyard and gardens in the middle. I realised that on every floor there were leaded windows looking out onto the gardens. And they were all different geometric designs. I took some pictures

When I got home I decided to reproduce one of these patterns on a rectangle of fabric for our latest project. I found a scrap of Sanderson Honeysuckle print in my stash - a favourite print of my MIL [she made sofa covers in it] Once stitched it was reminiscent of looking through the Museum windows at the flowers.

I was happy with it and wrote notes in the travelling logbook and posted it off to Kirsten on Monday. 

Today I received her parcel.
She had used a piece of vintage Laura Ashley Curtaining and made a cover for her travelling book with the same fabric. 
Look at the superb way she has picked out the design by outlining it in a variegated thread, and adding French Knots to the flower centres. So charming. I am sure this latest collaboration is going to be as enjoyable as the last two. We are no longer constrained by the regularity of evenweave cloth - and we can enjoy Slow Stitching to our heart's content.

Thursday 18 July 2024

An Unexpected Goody Bag!

Thank you everyone who sent such kind words yesterday. My journey went very smoothly, no traffic issues. I arrived with 10 minutes to spare. Roshan the dentist was brilliant, and the who procedure went smoothly. I had to be covered with a large blue paper 'blanket' and wear a green paper mob cap to keep things clean and tidy. I very nearly asked to take a selfie,but decided against it! Everything was carefully explained, and before each stage I was asked if I was happy. Because they needed to take x-rays, we were in the room with the camera - and that doesn't have Wally on the ceiling. But praying, breathing, and mentally reciting Psalm 23 kept me calm.
When I left I was unexpectedly given a goody bag
A paper carrier


2 tubes toothpaste

soft toothbrush

2 gauze pads

a record of the implant

a cool pack

"You Rock!" sticker

The little tubes of paste will be useful [we are going away this weekend] I've stuck the sticker on my phone case. The record book is useful - "In case you change dentists" said Roshan. I told himI am never going to another dentist. He says it is so hard when people turn up with dodgy procedures they have had done cheaply abroad, and there are no details anywhere.
The Cool Pack was Once the centre is squeezed the chemicals inside mix, and it cools vey rapidly. By the time I'd got home, the local anaesthesic was wearing off and my face really ached. I was able to take 2 paracetamol and lie on the bed, with the pack on my cheek. It really helped. I've rested all day.
I had a glass of Huel for lunch. But - oh bliss- when I said I would miss my cups of tea,  he said the important thing is to avoid hot drinks. So if I drink my tea lukewarm, that will be fine. As I make my tea in a pot, and often get distracted and forget about it, lukewarm tea is my default. So that's OK.
And yes, he was right, today was not as painful as the extraction of the dodgy tooth which the implant is replacing. Grateful for a good dentist, an efficient procedure, and such kind words from friends and famly. I'm still smiling...