Friday 28 February 2014

Oooh Look! It’s Erm…Thingy

Just lately, my TV viewing seems to be punctuated with cries of “Look, it’s thingy off …erm …who is it Bob? I can’t remember” I do love the Euro-cop-dramas on BBC4 on a Saturday evening, but I do wish they wouldn’t let their actors stray into British mysteries.

Lars Dittmen Mikkelson the killing

Lars Dittmann Mikkelsen, from The Killing, turned out to be the baddie ‘Magnussen’ on Sherlock Series 3 recently.


birgitte hjort sorensen Borgen

And then Birgitte Hjort Sorensen from Borgen popped up in Miss Marple’s Endless Night and yet again in that bizarre Midsomer Murders UK/Danish crossover the other week


And on Tuesday night, Caroline Proust, the French cop from Engrenage[Spiral]was there on a tropical island, for Death in Paradise

Borgen mackenzieIt all gets so baffling! Especially when Archie [Alastair Mackenzie] from Monarch of the Glen is now the boyfriend in Borgen

I get so confused

And I seem to lose the thread of the current mystery while I struggle trying to recognise who it is, and where I have seen them before! Do you think they should put subtitles on screen saying ‘yes, this is that Danish woman from Borgen’ or ‘he may have been a good guy in The Killings, but he is  really acting suspiciously in Midsomer’

Thursday 27 February 2014

It’s A Crewel World!

scandi craft clare youngs

I have been enjoying yet another book by the talented craftswoman Clare Youngs. In 2010, I used a book token to buy her book of Scandi needlecrafts and made up loads of baby slippers. Her instructions are clear, and her designs are good. I made these…


Before we went away last week, I picked up another of Clare’s books in the library. This time it was ‘Folk Art Needlecraft’

folk art clar youngs

It is full of lovely ideas and designs [check out this listing to see what’s inside]

I love the bird bookcover

clareyoung bookcover

There are still more baby shoes …in all, over thirty projects for bags, furnishings, children’s things, accessories…

folk art potholderFolk Art Needlecraft back cover

Do look at Clare’s website, and see all the other stuff she’s produced. I have put ‘Papercrafting in no time’ on my list of ‘books to be read sometime’.

Has anybody else out there made projects from her books? Which of her books would you recommend?

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Arts And Crafts With Liz And Jon

We lived in Bexleyheath for nine years- but in all that time, I never went inside the Red House – the home of the artist William Morris – although I drove past it often. At that point, it was still in the private ownership of the Hollanby family. They did open it to the public four times a year – but I never managed to be available on the right days. Now the house is in the care of the National Trust- and last Saturday we packed a picnic and drove over to see it [Jon cycled, and met us there] The house is amazing – the NT are still working on it [the new cafĂ© and giftshop open next week] I took loads of photos. Click on the collage for a closer lookfebruary 2014

Morris said Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”  - and the house is decorated with lots of beautiful wood panelling, clever brickwork, wall paintings, and textiles.


IMG_1557His personal motto was “Si je puis” [If I may] and crops up all over the place, on stained glass windows and tiles. On another door, I found two lions painted over the Latin tag “Esto quod esse videris” [Be what you seem to be] Over one mantel, “ars longa, vita brevis” [art is long, life is short]


Over another [in English at last!] Our content is our best havingIMG_1556

IMG_1533Although the wood and brickwork was beautiful, I think my favourite items were the fabrics and the embroideries. The detail was amazing. This is Aphrodite [believed to have been sewn by WM’s SIL] She’s had a ‘modesty panel’ attached across her hips! The stitching is lovely – look at those shaded cheekbones [nearly as good as those of newsreader Romilly Weeks]








I felt that I wanted to go home and start doing some crewel work immediately. Of course I didn’t- but I have put it on my 52 Projects list! I thought of many of my blogfriends as we wandered around. I could see this embroidered cushion at The Custards and this fabric in the Land of the Strawberries!



IMG_1545Because it was half term, there was even a Wombat Trail for the children.  Do check out the NT Red House site. Good to visit, with free parking nearby and picnic benches in the lovely garden outside.


Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” 

Well, it is probably a good thing to aspire to – but looking around me as I sit at the PC, I realise I will have to declutter drastically before I get anywhere near Morris’ ideal!

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Pins And Needles, Hooks And Screws

We’ve had quite a creative week. Here is my little stock of baby knits for the London City Mission. I started last Monday afternoon by weighing all the pastel 4ply wool [250gram] and then just steadily worked my way through the lovely patterns Joy Gadsden had sent.


By the time we left Liz and Jon on Sunday, I’d made one hat, one blanket, two cardis and four pairs of mittens. I calculated that I could do one cardi in pastel stripes to use up all that wool. Thank you Jon, for agreeing to deliver these. I haven’t quite used up all the 250grams, and will try and finish off the remaining yarn this week [but I’ll be back at work, and various evening events will give me less knitting time]

IMG_1565Meanwhile, Bob worked hard on Saturday fixing up bike storage hooks over Liz and Jon’s bath. Yes you did read that correctly. Everywhere you turn in their flat there are bicycles. [five, I think, with parts of a sixth] But they also have two bathrooms.

This nifty rack will take four of the bikes, and there is room to stand the others beside the bath. Everyone is happy about this arrangement, which gives much more room in the lounge and the passage [everyone except for Monty the Cat that is]


More pictures of our weekend in London to follow later.  Has anyone else got any useful tips for storing bicycles in small properties?

Monday 24 February 2014

All Stitched Up!

After 5 days at Cornerstones, we have had a lovely weekend in London with the girls. I have completed quite a lot of baby knits for the LCM, and Jon has kindly agreed to drop these off for me, when he is cycling past LCMHQ, along Tower Bridge Road sometime this week. I have packed my camera-to-PC lead somewhere in one of the bags, so you will just have to wait till I get home to see what I have made!

Sunday 23 February 2014

Gospel Bells

Last week, I was preaching from 1 Thessalonians chapter 1, and I quoted these verses – emphasising the need to let the Gospel ‘ring out’

Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction … you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.The Lord’s message RANG OUT from you … your faith in God has become known everywhere.

IMG_1523 On Thursday, I was poking around in a box of haberdashery on Fakenham Market – knowing full well I don’t actually need any more threads or pins – and I found this dirty little bell.  “How much?” I asked, and was told “Two quid” I paid up, quickly. I got quite excited and called Bob over to look.

“It’s a Gospel Bell” I said to the stallholder. He looked baffled. “The design is full of Christian symbolism” I showed him the wording round the top Agnus, Leo, Aquila, Pelicanus

  • Agnus = lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
  • Leo = lion. This represents kingship, the lion being the King of the Beasts. The lion is the symbol of St Mark, the Gospel writer. Jesus is the Lion Of Judah
  • Aquila = eagle. The eagle soars high, representing divinity, and is the symbol of St John the Evangelist.  Jesus is the divine Son of God
  • Pelicanus = pelican. According to legend, the pelican pierces its own breast to feed its young, therefore giving its life blood to save its own. This represents the atonement – Jesus shed his blood for the remission of our sin.

Also round the bell, between these animals, there are lilies and ladders. The ladder represents the ladder used at the crucifixion, the former represents purity of Christ [or sometimes the Virgin Mary] and because the Easter lily springs from a seemingly lifeless bulb, it represents the resurrection. The Gospel story in a little brass bell barely 4” high. The stall holder was fascinated, and said he was a Christian, and he belongs to a church in Peterborough. “I almost wish I hadn’t sold it now I know its story” he said. I assured him it would be well used, probably when I am talking to children in church.

I brought it back to Cornerstones, and gave it a good polish. Look!

gospel bell

It has a lovely clear ring to it too. What a bargain!

Saturday 22 February 2014

Here Be Dragons…

Lots going on this week for the Norwich Dragon Festival – models and artwork on display in The Forum, opportunities for children to do crafts, and many shops with dragon displays. All good fun!


We were only in Norwich for a couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon, but there was still plenty to see. Here’s the official trailer

Friday 21 February 2014

What Is “Reasonable” ?

After a day of gardening on Monday, we packed a picnic and went out in the car on Tuesday. It rained! We stopped off at the Cley Smokehouse to buy some buckling* for tea, then drove on to Blakeney. We parked in the quayside car park to eat our sandwiches


You have been warned…  IMG_1512

car park december Here is the car park in early December [photograph from the Fakenham and Wells Times]‘Gilly’ is the Norfolk name for a soft-shelled crab. The really old barometer is built into the wall.

IMG_1513 IMG_1511

Bob wanted to see the Undercroft of the Blakeney Guildhall [a former medieval merchant’s house]It was cIosed, so I had to put my camera right against the grille to take this picture.


OK, there isn’t anything more to see than that – although I would have like to have walked round inside, not just peered through the barred windows.

But what intrigued me most was the sign English Heritage have stuck on the wall outside.

“Opening times- Any reasonable time”

Isn’t a morning during half-term reasonable?

What constitutes a reasonable time? “Oh, that’s just Normal For Norfolk” said a lady in the nearby craft shop, and giggled!!

buckling * Buckling is hot smoked herring with the head and insides removed, retaining the roe, with a delicate combination of roast and smoked flavours. The word is believed to come from the Swedish or German words for herring.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Pears Are For Heirs!

Or so Bob’s friend Dave told him, when he mentioned our plans to plant some trees at Cornerstones this week. One Monday, Bob put in three trees -  plum, pear and apple.


We have no idea when we will get to see any fruit from these. But we’re planting in hope! Christine was concerned I should not be planting an orchard** whilst I have bad backache – I said I was merely watching and watering.“Bob plants, I water, and we trust God will give the increase” to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 3;6.


As well as the planting, Bob mended some of the older fence panels which had suffered a little in the recent storms. The new stuff he put up in the autumn stands firm. He worked very hard all day

IMG_1505 IMG_1500

Then we had a relaxing evening over at Christine’s place, and she cooked us a lovely meal [thanks Chris!] In my youth, when we went to Girls’ Brigade Camp, we used to sing this one as a Grace before meals sometimes [you can read more about Johnny Appleseed here]

**Janet and Peter say that you cannot call it an orchard unless you have at least six trees. We already have a tiny crab-apple, so that makes four so far. We have been advised to plant a pollinator for the James Grieve apple. Anybody got any suggestions of a good variety?

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Of Mice And Matchboxes

‘Here’s a helpful little chart’ I thought, when I first saw it on the internet. Portion control is supposed to be important, isn’t it?

portion size

But on further reflection, it has filled me with too many questions

  • cheese - a regular matchbox, or my large cooks’ matches?
  • is that pancake a crepe or a thick American style IHOP one?
  • pasta- should the ice cream scoop be heaped or level?
  • fish - are US checks bigger or smaller than UK cheques?
  • butter – postage stamps come in lots of sizes – so which one?
  • baseballs and golfballs – they look the same size on the chart! How big are they?
  • which of the lightbulbs round here amounts to a hill of beans ?
  • how do I know which box of dental floss to use? I have three and they are all different shapes!

But I can tell you this – experience has shown me that in Norfolk ‘one portion of chips’ is smaller than one ordered in Leicestershire – and that a London portion is smaller still. I notice that chips do not feature anywhere on the nutritionist chart.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Hearts And Flowers

IMG_1494For our meal on Valentine’s Day, I put my ‘vintage milk bottle’ with three silk tulips on the table. I think they look pretty convincing, and they won’t droop like the real ones! Then I made my salad vegetables into flowers as well, so we each had a little bouquet to eat. I first used this idea a few summers ago, it came from a Marie Claire MagazineIMG_1491

  • Radish ‘roses’ [trimmed and left in iced water to open up a little]
  • Cherry tomatoes – ‘vandyked’ with a jagged edge
  • Crescent shaped celery slices
  • Orange peppers and cucumber slices, cut out with a small circular pastry cutter with a crimped edge.
  • Short lengths of spring onion
  • The central leaves of a ‘Little Gem’ Lettuce

The ‘flowers’ were skewered onto cocktail sticks, then arranged by sticking them into half a pear which I had place round the bottom of a bowl. I used the lettuce leaves and spring onions as ‘foliage’ I served the ‘bouquet’ with breast of chicken [poached, and drizzled with sweet chilli sauce, then cut into bite sized pieces] There’s also a rosette of mayonnaise on each plate too.



For dessert, I diced another pear and divided between two dishes, topped it with Greek yogurt, then cut half-strawberries into heart shapes. I presented the food on my shiny red Christmas ‘chargers’ and lit a candle. All very romantic…and not a red rose in sight!

Monday 17 February 2014

£10 Says I WILL Finish It!


I can be Very Determined sometimes! It took me less than six weeks to use up my red Bic Cristal Ballpoint and now I have sent off the empty pen and await my cheque for a tenner. And I still have the other nine pens from the packet.

With the exception of cheques, and a few official documents, I have written almost everything in red for over a month. I left it at home last Tuesday, and one of my students asked me where my red pen was! The pack also included blue [4], black [2] and green [2] pens as well as a second red one. I am considering tucking the green one into my Filofax now, and using that colour for a while.

This is brilliant!

Sunday 16 February 2014

A Birthday At Brunswick

Congratulations to my niece Kate, who has just celebrated her 30th birthday – with a 1920’s themed party at Brunswick House in Vauxhall


I only have this one photo of the event – my daughter Stephanie has posted on this on her Facebook page, looking quite stunning [watch out, Anna Chancellor, they’ll be signing Steph for Downton next!]

steph the flapper girl