Monday 30 November 2015

Which Craft?

P1020673Over the weekend, I hung a Health and Safety sign on the door – I had the iron plugged in on one side of the room, the sewing machine on the other, and I really didn’t want Bob to come in and have an accident. Today I plan to stay in all day with the sewing machine and other equipment, getting my stock ready for Saturday’s Christmas Fayre [my spellchecker isn’t keen on that spelling of Fair either, but that is what it is called]

I re-purposed an old Alpha Banner [sorry Nicky Gumbel] and spray- painted the back of it – so that is ready to be hung at the church.


It is only seven weeks since I was away at the Connexion Conference, teaching friends to make Kusudama flowers- and I am quite thrilled that they are continuing to make them – look at all these pictures they have posted


The pink ones were made with drawer liners from the poundshop – so they smell good as well as look good! I hope to have a jug of them to sell on Saturday along with my other crafts. [that is assuming today does not have too many interruptions]

Sunday 29 November 2015

Pause In Advent 2015 – #1

pause in advent

Please don’t misunderstand me here, I love this year’s Christmas stamps from Royal Mail. It is great that pictures illustrating the Bible story are being stuck on envelopes and winging their way across the land. But the more that I look at the 2nd class one this year, the more I am questioning it.


What’s wrong, you ask? Surely this image of Joseph and Mary [not forgetting the little donkey] plodding along the dusty road to Bethlehem is absolutely fine. We’ll be getting pictures like this on our cards very soon, we always do. But this year it has hit me very forcibly, I am not sure it was like this at all. Look at Luke chapter 2 again…

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, with Mary…

I don’t think they were walking alone – there must have been hundreds of people making their way south, just as this young couple were. I am not saying that later on, fleeing from King Herod, Mary, Joseph and the baby would not have made the journey alone, and at night, as they sought safety in Egypt – but surely this trek to be registered was something they were all in together. They would have walked with others from their community, giving mutual support and encouragement. And maybe the picture on the stamp should look more like this


Lord, forgive us, that as we wrap gifts, and put marzipan on the cake, and post our greetings cards, we so easily forget those thousands who are trekking across the world in search of a safe place for their families. They do not want Christmas treats - a John Lewis Telescope, an M&S jumper, or a Lidl 5-bird roast… but shelter at night, clean socks, and daily bread… the simple things we take for granted every day.

Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or ill or in prison, and did not help you?” He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Saturday 28 November 2015

Atishoo! [Thrift Is Not To Be Sneezed At]

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Facts-2Somebody was talking about an elderly relative who ironed and re-used wrapping paper. “Why bother? It is so cheap!” said somebody else. Not wishing to cause dissent, I sat silently – but sometimes it is worth bothering. I need lots of tissue paper to wrap my Christmas gifts this year.

But I haven’t bought any – it is all recycled. That saves money, saves trees, and helps save the planet! In the 1980s, when it first came out, I used to buy Prima magazine, which always had a large sheet of tissue, printed [double sided] with patterns and charts on it. I made the children’s dresses, toys, knitwear, gifts…

early prima

They were all kept stacked in a box. Then when before left London in 1995, I culled them – I kept the tissue patterns I thought I might use, plus the odd pages from the magazine which had instructions, and filed them in plastic pockets in a huge loose-leaf arch file. For twenty years I have referred to this file – particularly when needing patterns suitable for school play costumes.

But before this last move, I decided to cull again – and just retained half a dozen patterns which I had used and thought worth keeping. The discarded tissue and magazine pages provided wrapping for my best china. When we got here, I unpacked, and threw the screwed up pages in the recycling – but ironed all those tissue sheets.


They have provided an excellent wrapping material – especially the ones with charts on – they have a lot of blue or red print. The gifts are going in carrier bags, or having an outer wrap of Christmas paper – but it is satisfying to think these patterns have had two or three uses before going into the recycling bin.


Friday 27 November 2015

Soup, Beautiful Soup

P1020624We cleared the remaining veg from the raised bed. The salsify was pencil thin, and the half dozen carrots were very small – but we harvested them anyway. Next year I hope to get a bigger harvest.

P1020625But the escarole had gone wild – completely bolted. I cut it all down, and trimmed off a washing-up bowl full of leaves.

“That ought to make plenty of soup” said Bob. So I looked at the Fern Verrow Cookbook, which I had just collected from the library, and decided that the Nettle Soup Recipe would be a good starting point.

fern verrowP1020626


Here it is. It’s a tiny bit too salty [my mistake] but rich and green and comforting on a cold day. And made entirely from ingredients I had to hand – six generous portions.  We ate them promptly – I didn’t want to freeze the soup for fear of intensifying the saltiness.


Do you like my lovely cookbook stand? – I have wanted one like this for years, and spent part of my  Lakeland [birthday gift] Token on it. It is efficient, stable and does what just I want!

Thursday 26 November 2015

Double Diamond Works Wonders

News this week that some blokes up north are planning to revive the old beer, but under a new name [Dual Diamond]

double diamond

Not being a beer drinker, this is of little interest [but I am old enough to remember the advertising jingle] and furthermore, I do not want to be involved in the production of any more diamonds for at least a year [or bunting either]

P1020656All forty of the ones for the Christmas Tree Festival have been returned – just a few needed a little bit of finishing off – but they are in the box, ready for 1st December.



I also made a star for the top of the tree [the other side is the same, but stitched in green] Well done to the 3 dozen people in the team. Somebody asked me if there would be any on sale at our Christmas Fair on Dec 5th. So I thought I should probably make some for my craft stall.


These are slightly small than the ones we made at church, all Christmas fabrics – but not all in green/red – and they have beaded trims. I put one or two word slogans on – love, peace, joy, Noel etc I can’t decide what my selling price should be though.P1020662 Suggestions?

Once everything was done, I took my original prototype diamond, and cross stitched a label for it, so that I have a new decoration for my tree here. And that’s it! No more of these, I am going cross eyed!

Wednesday 25 November 2015


I have always hankered after becoming…


…but my family will tell you that I am really…


…however, today I have finally found the box of Christmas Cards [it was there all the time, I thought it was full of light bulbs, but had not opened it to check] and in the hunt also discovered my Christmas wrapping paper, and a couple of Stocking Filler gifts I bought for Liz and Steph months ago [before the wedding] and had completely forgotten about.

I may yet be ready to be


I am feeling quite euphoric at all these discoveries. But if only I was tidier, these things would not get mislaid in the first place.

As I Was Going To St Ives…

…I met a man with seven wives

poemNo I didn’t - I met my friends and colleagues on the Women’s World Day of Prayer Committee, so we could plan the service for March 2016 [yes, we prepare well in advance]

We stayed at the lovely Treloyhan Manor.

My first floor bedroom had a sea view over the trees [when it wasn’t dark or foggy]



Although we worked very hard most of the time, we did have some free time on Wednesday and so walked down the path to the beach and along into the town. We past the Huer’s House



The huer's job was to watch for the tell tale signs of pilchard shoals and then alert the townsfolk to their arrival. Upon spotting such a shoal the huer would alert the town with cries of 'Hevva, Hevva!' ('Here they are!') where upon the townsfolk would drop everything to rush down to the harbour to launch the fleet and prepare for to land the tons of fish.

Spotting the pilchards was not the end of the huer's duties - once the fishing boats were in position the huer would also direct the movement of the boats at sea. His semaphore-like signals made with two 'bushes' - originally small furze bushes covered with cloth - were clearly visible from the water. The bushes were sometimes used to signal news to local men on passing ships too, like the birth of a child to their wives! [hue means shout – as in hue and cry] I recall that they watched for the pilchards in Poldark [I hear there is a second series in production – due for broadcast next May/June. Various new characters, including Hugh Skinner from W1A]

Further on down the path, we saw a bench, with a plaque [with a superfluous apostrophe]



Sadly the Tate Gallery was closed for refurbishment, but we found a Barbara Hepworth Sculpture outside the Guildhall. I liked the red phonebox on the hill.P1020596P1020598

Such fun, looking out to sea – and looking down to the beach where the lifeboat was being towed along the sand.

I was sorry not to have longer to look round the town, it seemed a really interesting place – but we had to get back to Treloyhan Manor.

At least the rain stopped for our afternoon stroll!P1020601

Two signs inside Treloyhan Manor amused me-


Firstly this one – since when did ‘teabags’ count as ‘sanitary disposables’?

And the other thing that made me smile was the labelling on the sound system – Quiet, Normal, and Too Loud!P1020616

It is a shame that St Ives is such a long way away – I should love to go again sometime. Maybe I could combine it with a visit to the Eden Project and to my Cornish friends. Our menu did not include pilchards – but we did have Cornish butter, Cornish Ice Cream and [of course] Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Seasonal Saturday Supper


Last weekend, my friend Nadia, with others, organised a Women’s Night at Church. It had an autumnal theme. We were welcomed with a choice of two mulled fruit punches or cool elderflower cordial.

The tables had been decorated with pine cones, twigs, berries, and autumn leaves – with hessian runners and slices of logs to add more interest



cakeP1020634Music throughout the evening was provided by TraceyAnne and Arthur. We began with a choice of four soups.

Leek and stilton, vegetable, chicken, and mushroom – all served with a basket of assorted breads, and fresh butter, and croutons.

Dessert was an astounding array of cakes and puddings. While we drank our coffee, we listened to Dianne, our after dinner speaker. She is a Salvation Army Officer – and told us great stories about her work with the children in Nigeria. Some sad tales, but much laughter too. Everyone enjoyed her enthusiasm and infectious humour. She was an excellent speaker and knew how to keep our attention.


aline broochesP1020642


We finished our evening making button craft pictures – the text says There is a right time for everything, Everything on earth has its special season.




Penny had made beautiful oak&acorn brooches- each guest received one as a parting gift.

It was good fun, I met some new people, and really enjoyed myself. And yes, the logs and hessian runners were the same ones we used at Steph’s wedding – and yes I did supply all the buttons for the craftwork! But apart from that, my input was minimal. Each table had a ‘hostess’ and they were the people who had so worked hard to put it all together. Thank you, friends! There were around 40 of us present – including lots of people I didn’t know. Teenagers Rebekah and Sarah were super waitresses, TraceyAnne and Arthur provided a good mix of music [well done A, for being the only man present!]