Tuesday 30 April 2019

Window Dressing

It's time to shut up Cornerstones and return to Dorset. We've had a great time - days with family and friends, and time to relax on our own. Not too much 'housekeeping' though. The dying decking was a priority, but with Jon's help, Bob was able to clear it all in one morning. Stage 2 can wait till August. But there is currently a 15" drop outside the doors. 

I'm not sure who will be here in the next 3 months, but I've stuck up warning notices!
One other little job was the window in the Futility Room. Because Cornerstones is on the corner, people can look in as they walk past.
We'd removed the original worn-out vertical blind, and debated what to put in its place. I fancied a simple curtain made from a strip of linen, but Bob wasn't sure. We didn't want another blind and definitely not nets. 

Then Bob was in the garage in Dorset and found a roll of window film. We'd bought this in Kirby in 1996, because the window in the downstairs loo was a bit too revealing. 
It worked well there - and we kept the remainder of the roll. Now we have a Rennie Mackintosh window in Norfolk. We're both very pleased with it. Y ou just wet the glass and press the film in place with a squeegee. No adhesive needed. 
Feeling really refreshed and ready to return, grateful for simple blessings. 
My phone has started offering me collages of photos. Here's Bob enjoying fish'n'chips at Wells Next The Sea last Wednesday in Plattens
He says that most pictures of him on the blog involve food. He is right, I must aim for more variety. 

Monday 29 April 2019

A Mouse Took A Stroll...

...through the Deep Dark Wood
- and many of you will already know this is the beginning of the story of The Gruffalo. On Easter Monday, we went to High Lodge in Thetford Forest.  It was an utterly brilliant family day out. First, we did the cycle trail. 
Liz took these pictures whilst riding [I am impressed] I have not been on a bike since Christmas, but managed the 5 mile "Shepherd Trail" surprisingly easily. After an excellent lunch, John did the Red "Burner Trail" and the rest of us went to hunt the Gruffalo.
We found the mouse, the owl, the fox, the woodlark - and even played the giant xylophone...but the Gruffalo himself was away on holiday.
There was loads to see and do at High Lodge, for all ages- with plenty of seats, cycle racks, and disabled access points - and plenty of helpful information panels.
The sandwiches and baguettes in the cafe were freshly made, and generously filled. 
The toilets were well equipped and clean [and considering the place was heaving with visitors, that was a great relief]
Parking was very efficiently organised. We took two vehicles [five people and four bikes] and it cost us £15 in total to park. But entry to the Country Park is free. I reckon £3 a head for all the fun we had is a perfectly fair price. We could have paid extra to "Go Ape" and ride the zipwire - but decided against it.
I'd certainly recommend High Lodge for a family day out. I'm sure the beautiful weather contributed to our fun - but with the right clothing and footwear, I think it would be enjoyable even in the colder, damper seasons.
The Forestry Commission have done a good job here. We will definitely go again [and we hope to see The Gruffalo next time]

Sunday 28 April 2019

Easter Eggs

For ten years, Chris Skipper has been photographing the peregrine falcons which nest on top of Norwich Cathedral.It is his passion - and he has achieved some fantastic shots. 
He does admit he can take 1000 pictures in a day, and end up with only half a dozen worth keeping. But they are truly amazing... 
You can read about his passion and see pictures here
Things have been pretty exciting over the last week or so - four eggs were laid, and they have begun to hatch, [video here]
Birds have nested here and hatched eggs every year since 2012, and the "Hawk and Owl Trust" has set up a watching post for visitors.[details here]

Their Latin name- Falco peregrinus means "Pilgrim falcon"
There are only about 2000 peregrines in the UK, and they are protected by law. How lovely that these pilgrim birds are nesting in the Cathedral.
Birds find nooks and crannies in your house
sparrows and swallows [and falcons!] make nests there
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship
[Psalm 84 - from 'The Message']

Saturday 27 April 2019

Grounds For Voting - Voting For Grounds

When Scott Kennedy and Fergus Moore were students in Scotland, they had part time jobs in coffee shops. They learned that 60% of coffeeshop wastage is used coffee grounds. It costs a lot of money to dispose of this. In the UK as a whole, half a million tonnes a year need to be disposed of.
Scott and Fergus wondered if there was a better way. 
They're working with ReviveEco to develop a system to extract oil from the spent grounds - and this oil could be used to replace palm oil in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and more.
We've heard much recently about the devastation caused by the Palm Oil industry. 

If you think this is a good idea, you may wish to join me in voting for ReviveEco to get a grant from Chivas Venture - who give away pots of cash each year to social entrepreneurs like this.
Read the full story here on the BBC news website 
Find out how to vote here on the Chivas Site
But vote soon - you only have 3 days left! 

Friday 26 April 2019

Decking And Dancing

Last year, we realised the decking at Cornerstones was beginning to collapse. We measured it, and worked out both the cost of replacement, and a timetable for doing the work.
Because we're planning on having a Ruby Wedding celebration in August, we knew there was a date by which we needed it sorted. 
On Tuesday morning  Bob started removing the planks. This was very revealing.. 
He discovered that they'd been laid wrongly, with insufficient support posts underneath - and a high proportion of the wood was rotten. The dismantling had not come a moment too soon.
Jon arrived to help do the work, and we were so grateful for that.
We were speculating on the cost of taking the scrap wood to the tip, when Jon said "Do any of your neighbours have a wood burning stove?" 
Brilliant idea - two neighbours were very pleased to relieve us of the timber, rotten though it was.
Once everything had gone, we looked again at the garden and decided we didn't really need decking. We would be just as happy with more slabs. So now we are working out the next stage of the project. But that won't get underway till the summer.
Meanwhile Rosie had her own little construction project inside the lounge, building a lego tower. She is so bright and cheerful, but at that stage where everything is questioned. "Grandma, why is....?"  "Mummy, what's that?" etc. We're all resisting the urge to respond with "Because I say so!"
Liz, Rosie and I went to Morrisons to buy some lunch. They have toddler trollies. Rosie enjoyed that - and dancing to the instore muzak. All the decking work was done by lunchtime and Bob mowed the lawn so we could play Crazy Golf. With this young lady around, it certainly was crazy! 

Thursday 25 April 2019

How Does Your Garden Grow?

That's a rather personal question, isn't it? For some it gives an opportunity to rave about this year's stunning display of penstemon, for others a moaning session about slugs eating the hostas, but others take the opportunity to offer a bag of tomatoes or courgettes from their unexpectedly good harvest*...and some of us mutter about being busy/under the weather/a bit lazy.
But in my own little way I've made slight progress on the horticultural front this year. Parsley and dill from the trough in the front bed continue to garnish our meals. Bob said he wasn't that keen on the Rocket, but he still politely eats it when I sneak it into the salad bowl.
I've moved on from cress-on-a-flannel. I 'm now working on peas-in-a-pot** T hese are some pea shoots I've been growing on the kitchen windowsill. They're Terribly Trendy 
More importantly, they're ridiculously easy to grow.T hey are growing in two paper cups inside my big enamel mug. I bought that 15 years ago in Boston on our Silver Wedding Holiday. I think it cost 1$. I t is way too big for drinks, but great for this purpose.
I see that if you want to spend a lot, monthly window sill herbs are available mail order now (Here)
*these friends are always so generous - I'm making Rhubarb Windows this week, using produce from a kind church member.
**Oops! That sounds a bit like a Marie Lloyd song

Wednesday 24 April 2019

I Agree...

Get your own poster, and find out more about iFixit by clicking here

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Today's A Tardis Tuesday

On my birthday, the postman delivered an interesting parcel. It came from my blogfriend Kezzie. No, not a birthday present, but a sewing challenge [which is a lovely gift in itself, as far as I am concerned] I declared that I would set aside a Sewing Day, and then began looking at the contents. If you read Kezzie's blog, you will know she a fan of Dr Who, and cosplay. She does 'Tardis Tuesday' - and often goes to work dressed in one of her Clara Oswald outfits.
Cosplay is incredibly popular, and fortunately many of COs outfits are from ordinary shops, not specially made by the BBC costume department. Four years ago, I helped Kezzie out with a Dr Who shirt, which needed ??? on the collar. My embroidery machine made short work of that project.
This time, more of a challenge - two plain tops needing collars made of a pleated fabric, one dress needing a collar, a skirt needing a scalloped hem and a jumper which had a floral trim which needed removing [not part of the cosplay]
Kezzie helpfully sent photos of what it should all look like. I went and dug out 2 books which have notes on attaching collars - one from the 1980s and the other from the 1930s.
These helped me work out how to make the collars. I measured and cut paper patterns. Kezzie had found a top in a CS whichwas made of the exact same pleated navy fabric [mercifully non fray, so hems not needed]
Top tip When attaching non-stretch collars to a T shirt neckline, it is important to leave a small gap to enable the wearer to get it over their head!
Top tip If you have to make a dress collar in a matching fabric, consider shortening sleeves or hem, to provide the fabric, or sew across the top of a pocket, and remove the inner 'bag'. Kezzie is tall, so I couldn't use the hem, and the pockets were not quite big enough - but the sleeves were elbow length.  I unpicked the hems and took 4" off. This was enough to make the top of the collars, I lined them with the floral fabric I'd just removed from the jumper.
I have really enjoyed this challenge for Clara/Kezzie - she'll be able to have lots of Tardis Tuesdays next term.

Monday 22 April 2019

It's A Miracle!

That phrase isn't one you often see as a headline in the Guardian. But there it was on Saturday. One of the most wonderful news stories to come out of a sad week. 
On one of the roofs of Notre Dame Cathedral there are a row of beehives [rooftop apiary is a big thing in Paris]  each one home to 60,000 bees
Nicolas Géant, the Cathedral Beekeeper, has confirmed that the bees have survived the fire, and the hives are OK.
The firefighters would not let him go up to check, but aerial photos taken the morning after the fire showed the hives intact.
It appears that although the high temperatures would have posed some risk, the carbon dioxide in the smoke would have simply intoxicated them and sent them to sleep.
It is indeed a miracle - 180,000 hardworking little creatures slept through it all, then woke up next day and got on with their work. 
Yesterday's lovely photo of bees buzzing round a gargoyle is further encouragement to Monsieur ant and to us all [taken by Beeopic Apiculture, the French Urban Beekeeping Company]
I love bees- I planted my 'Get Buzzing' seeds on Friday afternoon. Don't forget World Bee Day coming up on May 20th.
Here's the Bee Blessed Prayer which I wrote last year
...Father God, 
you made these tiny creatures, 
as part of your wonderful creation, 
and they are a blessing to me, and we need them if humans are to survive on our planet. 
Scientists have studied their colonies and are still learning more about them -
the way they serve their queen, 
the way they work in the hive, 
building the beautiful hexagonal waxen cells, 
all the properties of their honey to nourish and to heal, 
and their amazing flying dances 
which tell other bees where to find the nectar,
...Help me to learn from the bees –  
to serve you, my King, 
to work alongside my brothers and sisters, 
to build your Kingdom, 
to feed the hungry, 
and to help others to find your love.
...As I am bee-blessed, so may I be a blessing

Sunday 21 April 2019

Hallelujah! Christ Is Risen

The last of the eight Stanley Spencer paintings - entitled "Morning Rising"

Saturday 20 April 2019

The Scorpion

The penultimate of Spencer's "Christ In The Wilderness" pictures is this one- The Scorpion.

Scorpions are feared the world over, for their venomous sting. They are mentioned a few times in Scripture.
In Deuteronomy 8 the Israelites were reminded of their amazing deliverance from Egypt...
Be sure that you do not become proud and forget the Lord your God who rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. He led you through that vast and terrifying desert where there were poisonous snakes and scorpions. In that dry and waterless land he made water flow out of solid rock for you. In the desert he gave you manna to eat, food that your ancestors had never eaten. He sent hardships on you to test you, so that in the end he could bless you with good things. 

In Luke 11, Jesus assures his hearers that if they, bad as they are, care for their children - so how much more will their heavenly Father care...
Would any of you who are fathers give your son a snake when he asks for fish? Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?

And yet - in this picture, Jesus calmly holds the scorpion in his hand without fear. He knows that the creature could give him a fatal sting, but he is not afraid - he is in complete control of the situation. 

Today is 'Holy Saturday' - traditionally the day when Christians remember that Jesus was crucified, died, and was sealed in the tomb. Paul, in I Corinthians 15 writes about the sting of death...
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday 19 April 2019

Good Friday

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

Thursday 18 April 2019

I'm Definitely A Bag Lady

At the start of Lent, I said I hoped to achieve the 40-bags-in-40-days challenge.
It's Good Friday tomorrow so I consider today is when I stop and reflect. 
I copied the Checklist from the Happily Homegrown blog - but modified it. I have no basement, no pets, and no children living at home.
I decided that if I felt really fatigued on any day, I'd not worry, but attempt two 10 minute slots later.
I stuck my list inside the pantry door, checking off areas as I tackled them, and also making a tally of "bags leaving the house" at the top.
I am happy to report that forty one bags have gone! 10 to Charity, 2 to a foodbank, and 29 to the bin men [I estimated at least one third to recycling] Sundays I rested, and some days I just didn't manage it. But other days I did longer stretches of decluttering. 
The clothes sort resulted in a completely empty chest of drawers. That's going to Liz next week. 
Lots of linen and towels from the airing cupboard have gone [WaggyTails Dog Charity happily accepts even the greyest, threadbare towels for their muddy canine friends] 
I went through my cotton reels and discarded very old, degraded threads and sorted the remainder by colour. 
That's the sort of activity I could do whilst relaxing on the sofa. 
It's been a very satisfying challenge. I think Bob is hoping I will continue! 
I am glad I didn't attempt anything too ambitious - I've followed a Facebook group who've shared their experiences, and so many were getting upset at not achieving their goals. It's important to be realistic, and do what you can where you can. 

41 bags and a chest of drawers isn't bad for a 64year old coping with Post Viral Fatigue. How was your Lent Challenge? 

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Sitting Tenant

There's this guy, sitting on top of a hill staring out at the Yorkshire Dales
Some say he reminds them of Jeremy Corbyn [can't see it myself - although he does have a beard and a scruffy jacket]
He has a stunning view- and he's there in all weathers...
...sunshine, showers or snow, day and night. He sits there in his three-legged stool, holding his bag on his knees, and wondering at the amazing view in front of him. He's been there since 2017.
Did I mention that he is 3 metres tall? and that he is made of painted bronze? He's a creation of the gifted sculptor Sean Henry[ check out his website here]
Some like "The Seated Man", and others do not. But for two years he has been up there on Castleton Rigg, in the North York Moors National Park, surveying the landscape. The land he sits on is actually owned by David Ross [co-founder of CarphoneWarehouse] and DR commissioned the artwork.
But there's a problem - so many people have climbed the hill to see the Man 'up close' that sadly they have caused serious erosion to the land, caused car parking problems, and even worse, they have created a dreadful litter problem. One wonders who these thoughtless people are - that surrounded by so much beauty they can still manage to drop crisp packets, plastic bottles and sweet wrappers. I would not describe them as either art- or nature-lovers.
The Parks Authority is concerned - and so the Man is being relocated to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, some 80 miles south, near Wakefield. Sean is sorry the Man has to move- but says it is right that the moorland be given time to recover. 
I hope when this Yorkshireman gets to the YSP, they sit him down in a spot with a good view! His 'twin' [left] is seated atop a golf course in New Zealand. 
From my point of view, Wakefield is a little easier to visit. Another place on my ever-lengthening list of 'daytrips from Manchester'. One of these days I will get up to stay with  Steph and Gaz for a week!
Have you seen the Seated Man? [or have you seen the NZ one?]
What was your impression of him?

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Tears And Prayers For Paris

Watching, weeping, and praying , as a thousand years of history go up in flames...

Monday 15 April 2019

Hare Clip

I picked up this little treasure for £1 on Tuesday- I've done a few of the puzzles so far, and I think that BP might have recruited me had I been around in WW2. I managed the test crossword in 11min 59 seconds [the allotted time was 12 mins] then spotted that I'd left one clue blank, and had to write in my answer quickly! Puzzles and BP - definitely a book I'm enjoying.
But I was reading this week about another puzzle book, now 40 years old - which is being celebrated with special events this summer. In August 1979, an artist/author called Kit Williams, accompanied by his publisher, and a 'neutral' witness [Bamber Gascogne, then the respected host of University Challenge] buried a beautiful handmade, jewel encrusted hare somewhere in the British Isles. A couple of weeks later Kit's book was published called "Masquerade" [not to be confused with Maskerade, pub 1995, by the late, great Terry Pratchett.] One is a glorious romp involving Granny Weatherwax and co - the other a picture book full of incredibly detailed illustrations which are riddles wrapped in enigmas, leading to a treasure.
The first book tells the story of Jack Hare, who sets out to carry a gift from the moon to the sun. But on the journey, he loses his precious treasure, and it is up to the reader to discover the location. Kit made his hare and buried it secretly one night, with the two men, then the book came out and people were challenged to buy, read, and decipher the clues.
I was busy, August 1979, getting married. I sort of hoped somebody would give us a copy as a wedding gifts. We had some lovely presents [including 14 cheeseboards - despite the fact I don't eat cheese] but not the book. But people were talking about the book, and the first edition sold out  incredibly quickly. Groups met to try and work out the riddles - and they were very complex, with misleading clues - but the pictures were rather pretty. I never had a copy.
But some folk got rather carried away, convinced they'd cracked it - and they dug up public land, private and, historic land...[oh Cadbury's will you never learn? you made a mess of it again this Easter]
But to no avail. Then in 1982, a man called Ken Thomas contacted Kit and said he knew where it was. They went to the spot, and he dug it up. He was awarded the hare - but Williams felt the man had got to the answer by luck as much as by skill and deduction. A few days later, two teachers from the Manchester area contacted him with a carefully detailed, correct explanation. They had actually been to the spot earlier [Ampthill, Bedfordshire, but somehow did not see the box when they dug into the soft earth. Sadly Thomas had won...
Other people felt that it was the wrong hare, and kept on digging in other places, despite Kit's assurances to the contrary.
6 years later, the Sunday Times revealed Thomas was a fraud. His real name was Dugald Thompson, and his business partner, John Guard had a girlfriend called Veronica. She had previously lived with KW, and remembered that he had a favourite picnic spot [near Catherine's Cross in Ampthill] 
Williams was upset at the deception. Thomas/Thompson founded a software company [Haresoft] and marketed a computer game which if anyone solved, they would win the hare. It was an impossible game, nobody won, and the company went bankrupt. He had to auction the hare to cover his debts, and it was sold to an anonymous bidder for £31K. Williams was really upset by the whole business, and became a recluse. The beautiful hare disappeared from public view
In 2009 the granddaughter of the buyer, from the Far East, loaned it briefly for an exhibition, and again in 2012 it was shown at the V&A. This year, the 40th anniversary is being marked in Ampthill by various events. The people of the town are very proud that their community was the place which was briefly home to a much sought after gem.
I'm sad it all went so sour in the end. The full story is here. I don't think you could produce such a venture nowadays. With the Internet, people would be swapping ideas and sharing suggestions and it would all have been solved so much faster.
I hope that the good people of Ampthill are able to enjoy a summer of rich beauty, innocent joys, and happy laughter as they recall 1979, and the puzzling and pleasure of that summer.
Do you remember Masquerade? 
Did you ever try to solve the riddles therein?
You can find the whole solution, here
I'm going back to my BP Crosswords and Codebreaking...