Thursday 31 March 2022

Welcome To The Refillution!

 "And on the way back, we can visit the Ecover Pop-Up shop and get a free coffee" said Liz, as we pushed the buggy through Borough Market. There's a car/van hire place, which usually looks pretty seedy, on the site of an old petrol station, which had been transformed for a couple of days. As we approached we saw old car tyres painted in pastel hues, filled with plants- and people at picnic tables drinking coffee and chatting.

"Welcome to the Refillution" said the sign. A team of cheerful people were explaining all about the benefits of using refillable containers - not just for takeaway coffees, but also for household products like shampoo, washing up liquid, etc.
Did we know about ecover products already? Yes we did. Do we use them? Sometimes. 
We were invited to take an empty bottle and fill it with detergent from the modified 'petrol pump'. "Our only requirement is that you promise to keep this bottle for a year and refill it." said the girl. I'm a little unsure if she meant 'with Ecover w-u liquid' or with anybody's product. I usually buy very large bottles of cheaper stuff and decant anyway. [My little red bottle in the kitchen is almost 40 years old]
"Please go and have a free coffee" they told us. This was delicious Pact Coffee, and was being served in re-usable cups. Neither of us wanted another of these, we have mugs already. I whipped out my Stojo mug, and the guy was very happy to fill it for me. I like the Stojo, because it packs flat in my bag, Once it is empty I squash it down again. [it does not keep the drink particularly hot - but that's fine with me]
I am not as diligent about using refill shops as other bloggers [like Kezzie] as I sometimes find the extra cost is just a bit too high. I often buy bulk sized bottles/boxes and decant. I bought two huge containers of 'professional' concentrated Flash in a 'bogof' in the cash'n'carry in Leicester in 2014 - and I am just about finished them. [That is not to imply I don't use them very often...just that they've lasted ages - I had one in Dorset, one here] And currently I am using washing powder - again a mega sized cardboard box, but for convenience I refill a tin stored by the machine.
Since writing yesterday's post, I found the Big Issue which I bought to read on the bus and left in my shopping bag. It has a whole section on B Corp. The co-founder of BI was Gordon Roddick [of The Body Shop] and he was an early adopter of B Corp recognition. The magazine has a helpful list of B Corp companies. Some of these you may recognise
  • Tea Pigs
  • Oddbox [veg boxes using surplus/wonky priduyce]
  • Divine Chocolate
  • Charlie Bigham's Pies
  • Charity Bank
  • WOB - aka World of Books - buy/sell 2nd hand books
  • Little Soap
  • Cheeky Panda [bamboo products]
  • Big Issue
  • Ella's Kitchen [recycle their babyfood pouches]
  • Danone
  • Ben&Jerry's
  • Gousto [now working with anti hunger charity Foodshare]
Refill, re-use, recycle... and be good, be thoughtful be aware
What kind of world am I leaving for my grandchildren? How can I help cause less damage and make good some of the problems we have caused?

Wednesday 30 March 2022

B Better, B Corp

"Do you know about B Corp companies,. Mum?" said Liz - explaining these are companies whose business models involve justice for workers, sustainability for the planet, and bringing benefit to the community. Here's a helpful video to explain

March is B Corp month, and so a pop-up shop appeared in premises just off Oxford Street. Liz and I visited on Thursday. If London is the B Corp Capital of the world, how come I am only just hearing of this? It started in 2006 - yet was not once mentioned in the Green Living Group I belonged to back in Dorset. I hoped that we would find out more inside the shop. Sadly we were both a little bit disappointed. 

Inside, it was like a regular small shop - with shelves, freezers, and  chill cabinets where lots of very diverse products were on display. Lots of banners with phrases like "looking good, feeling good, doing good" over a shelf of toiletries and beauty products and "be cool" over the cold drinks dispenser.

It was a shame that our presence meant the one staff member present had to stop her mobile phone conversation, she clearly wanted to be somewhere else, and did not know the answer to our questions - she told us she had not expected to be working there. 

It was a hot day, and Liz thought she'd buy a cool drink from the vending machine. It didn't seem to have facilities for payment- she pressed the button and it dispensed her can, then she tried again and got one for me. The woman did not know how we were supposed to pay and said we should just keep the cans. Liz asked about buying one of the products from the shelf. But no, all the products were just display items- nothing was actually For Sale.

"It is just so you can see which companies have been given B Corp certification and be more mindful when you buy goods." said the woman. 

We recognised lots of the products including...

  • who gives a c**p ? loo rolls
  • tracklements pickles
  • alpro non dairy milks
  • pip&nut peanut butter
  • dash flavoured waters
  • toast beer
  • sipsmith  gin
  • COOK frozen ready meals
  • divine chocolate
  • the Guardian newspaper
  • belazu ingredient company
I think Steph has done some work with belazu - here is their B Corp video

We would have really liked an explanatory leaflet and a list of B corp certified producers to take away. Even more we'd have liked the opportunity to purchase some of the items
I thought the COOK dinosaur chicken pie looked great [although with the right cookie cutter, it would not be hard to replicate at home!]
I wanted to ask about something we had noticed as we came up The Strand on the bus. Coutts Bank [the Queen's bank, which offers wealth management to some of the richest people in the country] actually has a sign outside saying it is a certified B Corp. How does that work? If their job is to help the rich maintain [and grow] their healthy bank balances, exactly how does that square with equitable distribution of wealth across the planet?
The whole experience of visiting the good News shop raised more questions than answers. I appreciated my free recyclable can of water [flavoured with 'wonky' cucumbers originally destined to be ditched] and also my bag of ethical, fairly traded chocolate buttons.  Thank you for these snacks for the train journey. 
Waitrose has been promoting BCorp products this month and featured some of them in their weekend magazine. It seems a good idea- but at the moment it feels not terribly well publicised. How much would this certification affect my decision whether or not to buy something? I'm not sure...Have you been aware of BCorp? 

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Plenty Of Spaces, Please Wait Your Turn!

I ended my trip south with a brief overnight stop at my Aunts. I went up from London by train, and Bob drove down to Romford to meet me. I took her some red roses for Mothering Sunday, as Gill would have done. On Saturday morning, Bob and I walked round to the shops to have a quick breakfast before the trip home. I was really amused by the sign outside the podiatrists...

Is this Parking for Patients 
or Be Patient With Other Drivers When Parking ???
I do feel it is important to concentrate on your steering though...
And always smile at other road users - even when driving a Dino Cozy Coupe worthy of Fred Flintstone.
Lewis Hamilton, watch out!

Monday 28 March 2022

Turning Round Through Four Centuries

Last week I spent a few days in London with Liz and the girls. On Thursday I took Jess for a walk in the buggy to enable Liz to get some housework done. The sun was shining and I strolled up through the Rockingham Estate. A lot of council housing was built in the 1920's after much slum clearance in Southwark. Nobody has their own garden - but there is great enthusiasm for the allotment project. I felt very grateful to have my little plot at Cornerstones with my own raised bed.

A little further on I came to a beautiful park and play area, which opened in 2021 to the delight of the locals. Somewhere safe to go for fresh air during the pandemic. Good play equipment/exercise machines for all ages. Dickens Fields is named after the author, who lived in Southwark 200 years ago. 

I walked on, up Tabard Street. This is named for the Tabard Inn, where pilgrims bound for Beckett's shrine at Canterbury would gather before setting off down the Old Kent Road.(including poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century) I finally got to the Church of St George the Martyr. Next to the church is an area full of street food vendors (and I was pleased to smell the delicious aromas) and beyond that, the old churchyard has been turned into public gardens with benches, blooms, and trees (some newly planted, and others quite ancient. 
As I stood there in the gardens, I realised that I could literally turn round and see buildings from four different centuries
  • 18th - the Church itself (built on site of an older church) 
  • 19th - part of the Wall of Marshalsea Debtors' Prison (where Dickens' dad was incarcerated) 
  • 20th - the Tabard Gardens Estate (more development after the slum clearances) built in the years after WW1
  • 21st - The Shard, gleaming and pointing to the sky
Jess would not sleep, she was getting fractious. I lifted her out of the buggy and walked round with her. I told her all about debt, and Dickens, Chaucer and churches, Slums and the Shard. In a boring soporific voice. She stared at me with her huge, wondering eyes. Then I sang some nursery rhymes. Would she ever settle down? Finally I started explaining about The Raised Bed. At this point she began yelling. I was truly grateful that Liz arrived with her lunch, and Mummy-cuddles!
When Jess is older, I'll tell her again about the rich history of the area around her home.

Sunday 27 March 2022

Lent Reflection #4 - Laughing Innocently

looking again, learning graciously, leaving deliberately 
but what on earth do I mean by laughing innocently ??

Today is Mothering Sunday, and for many people that is as much about the children as it is the Mums. 

I love it when my Granddaughter Jess or my great-nephew Arthur start chuckling. They cannot talk yet, but are clearly amused when adults blow raspberries, or tickle their toes. The happy laughter of children in the playground brings a smile to our faces. 

But think about the adjectives we often use for laughter 

  • unkind laughter in the sports lesson when somebody fumbles a catch
  • cynical laughter in Parliament when somebody on the other side says something
  • wicked laughter [ok I have only seen this on TV dramas] when somebody is hurt, or killed
  • nervous laughter from someone who isn't sure how to handle a tricky situation
  • forced laughter when a person wants to seem polite-but doesn't find it funny
  • hysterical laughter when somebody has absolutely lost control
  • laugh-out-loud laughter when we are really amused
I want my laughter to represent pure joy - and never at the expense of anyone else's misfortune. Laughing with people, not at them. Laughing because it is a way to express my happiness. 
Children get that - their laughter is innocent, and gleeful.
There's lots of sadness around - but sometimes it is wonderful to be able to laugh together
Look at these two happy little cousins on the slide together - chuckling and waving. 

Sometimes we need to be more like little children!

Saturday 26 March 2022

Huw Done It

I am trying so hard to be a gracious learner. But this week I have got rather frustrated with dear Huw and his book, which has become my vade mecum. My first problem was Row 10 of the raised bed. March instructions say plant two rows of radish seeds, 2 weeks apart. So I did that...
You will observe that the first line has germinated 😊👍.
At the very end in the centre of the row is one miserable garlic shoot. But in October I planted twelve fat organic cloves. Where are they? I gently probed the other end of the row, but can find anything. I read through the book, and I'm supposed to harvest them in June/July. I don't eat a lot of garlic, so I guess I am not too fussed. But I have a question - Huw says the 'regular' supermarket garlic is treated so it will not sprout in storage. You have to buy organic if you want it to grow. But if that's the case, and I did have 12 lots to harvest, how could my organic ones be stored? K sent a picture of hers, planted last autumn in a pot. I think she really likes garlic, and I am genuinely pleased for her.
Next thing. Kale. I'd diligently gone through the book and listed all the plants and varieties suggested, and sent off for my kale seeds [and these are National Trust recommended so I have high hopes] Then I got a little bit carried away in a garden centre recently and bought two packets of seeds' off the list' [This 'buying for the garden' thing is a slippery slope isn't it?]
I had some white kohlrabi seeds- now I have some purple ones too, for planting later in the summer. I also purchased a packet of kalette seeds.
I was quite taken by the description - "kalettes have a texture like kale, with the nutty flavour of a brussels sprout. The cross pollination of these two vegetables means you get a crunchy and earthy addition to any dish"
The packet says I can plant them now. I have done so.
Then I got to wondering, "so when do I plant my actual kale seeds?" Answer- I don't - Huw suggest purchasing some actual plants in a few months time.
I acknowledge that was my mistake, I didn't read the book carefully enough. But I wish he'd put a note in the March section saying "If you want to grow kale from seed, plant it now
There's a tray of kale seeds in the greenhouse. If they don't germinate, I shall just and buy some plants when the time comes. I notice that the East Anglian seed company of Mr Fothergills has just been sold in a £100million pound deal. John Fothergill, son of the co-founder, has just left the company [presumably, a very rich man!] I hope they don't put up the prices of their products too much.
But I am still confused about storage of organic, sprouting, garlic!
One other thing- this name kalette - is meant to represent a cross between Brussels Sprouts and Kale, and they are sweet little things on a stalk.
I get 'little kale = kalette' but shouldn't the sprout get a mention? I suppose that would make it a bralette, which is a completely different product from M&L lingerie dept.

Friday 25 March 2022

Warm Work

Now the weather is better, Bob's been finishing off fitting out his Lathe Palace. The contents went onto the Patio.I donned PPE [mask and gloves] and climbed on to my little blue Dalek to fit panels of Rockwool insulation, which Bob then covered with sheets of wood.
This was all costed into our original budget - and think it will make the workshop much more usable**. Craftworkers on The Repair Shop and Kirstie's Handmade Christmas work in freezing barns. They have scarves, thermal undies, and hwbs hidden under their clothes for warmth. 
I couldn't keep a steady hand if I were shivering, so I am glad to think Bob will be toasty warm when he is working out there. Rockwool is made from naturally occurring volcanic rock, it is sustainable,  recyclable, and non combustible.The Lathe Palace should last a long time, I won't be around when it gets recycled. Hidden behind one panel I have written our names and the date with a Sharpie.
** If you want to understand more about work, heat and insulation, then I refer you to the song of First and Second Law of Thermodynamics - as performed by Flanders and Swann sixty years ago. It seems very bizarre now to think this sort of thing was entertainment on TV on a Saturday evening [when there were only two channels, both black and white]
I did enjoy their humour in my youth - but I think I prefer the Repair Shop - especially this edition from Comic Relief, with Dawn, Jennifer and Dame Judi

Thursday 24 March 2022

Worn Again

After looking round the Makers' Festival I called in briefly to the Norwich Central Library [in the same building] and  this book caught my eye. The book is by Orsola de Castro, founder of the Fashion Revolution movement.
The blurb says 'this book will equip you with a myriad of ways to mend, rewear and breathe new life into your wardrobe to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle'
'a call to creative action: reveal your hidden craftivist and become a more conscious consumer'
'helpful and inspiring...with simple steps that we can all commit to and benefit from'
And I thought that all sounded good. Damaged clothes should be fixed, and worn again. 
But the book itself is a strange mishmash [hotchpotch?] of ideas and statistics and 'tips'
Orsola begins with statistics about clothing discarded because it is damaged - and says if only we learned to mend/darn/sew on buttons etc, we could make clothes last longer [helpful picture of some buttons, and a note that if you cannot sew, your dry cleaner will replace buttons for you]
She cites Japanese wabisabi and boro techniques [but not sashiko] and has a diagram showing how to darn. Cover the hole on a jacket lapel with a brooch [it was another brooch that made the hole, I suspect] Embellish the moth hole in cashmere with embroidery.
But she also writes about the waste within the fashion industry [where she has worked for over 25 years] and the horrendous chemicals used to prepare and dye fabric, the workers who are made ill because they are distressing or sandblasting jeans. In 2013 the Rana Plaza Building collapsed in Bangladesh, and over 1100 garment workers were killed. These people were making garments for the Western market. Primark were among the first to admit this was one of their suppliers, and quickly tried to set up compensation schemes, other companies later 'fessed up' - but many tried to avoid their responsibility in the matter - even though the workers had been telling management that there were huge cracks in the walls etc. This disaster was what prompted Orsola to start her campaign. I applaud her for that.
We need to recognise the true cost of our clothing, in terms of the toll on the workforce, and the desecration of the environment. She deplores 'greenwashing' where a brand claims they are 'eco' - but misleads the consumer to thinking it is a significant aspect of their operation. She talks of a company producing jackets 'made from recycled bottles' - but they were found to be buying in new bottles, in order to destroy them to make the fabric. 
Orsola explains the problems behind the indigo in our denim, the production of synthetic fabrics, the pesticides used on the cotton fields, and the joys of linen.
She explains why we should buy the best and buy once, and why cheap fashion, bought in the afternoon, worn in the evening and discarded next morning, is killing the planet. She extols vintage and charity shop gear, and renting for 'one-off occasions' And all of that is helpful and interesting. If you have never looked into the subject, it is helpful and thought provoking.
But the book irritated me when she gave her 'personal' fashion tips. She has three bags- all genuine Gucci - two vintage inherited from her grans, one a wedding gift from her Italian in-laws. She has a 'vast collection' of vintage Hermes scarves which will improve any outfit...and then she berates Mums who have to buy the £10 budget polyester school uniforms. Look lady, it's not easy being poor and green!
And as for her practical tips - they were just plain weird. When she is tired of her woollen tights, she turns them upside down, cuts off the feet, cuts out the gusset and crochets round the raw edges to make a new top. Seriously??!!
And 2 of her husband's shirts make a new skirt. 

For your benefit, dear readers, I've demonstrated this technique. I took two of Bob's shirts [one plum, one plum with stripes] and followed her instructions. "You look like a woman with two shirts tied round her waist" said Bob. [observant chap] I decided a harlequin effect with contrasting colours would look even worse!
I do agree with her on many points
read the labels
try to buy from ethical/fairtrade companies
make do and mend
don't go in for 'fast fashion'
second hand/CS/vintage/hand-me-downs are good
rent or borrow for 'one-off' events
But her own background is a million miles from mine - I have never been to London Fashion week, or bought a Gucci bag. And I am never going to go out with an old pair of inverted, gussetless tights as a jumper, and two of Bobs shirts knotted round my waist. And some of her sentences were so long. Many around 60 - 70 words were almost unintelligible. It took me a while to make sense of some paragraphs.
So sorry, Orsola only *** from me.

Wednesday 23 March 2022

Sunflower Stitching

I've sent off the next bit of my stitching to Kirsten. I knew that I was going to do something about the Day of Prayer for my March component. March includes the Day of Prayer, and International Women's Day - and usually Mothering Sunday. And my Mum died in March 1991 - so for me this month is all about prayer, and women and mothers.

I used a WDP cross stitch design I worked out in 2015 for a Christmas card - but this time did it on a circle of pale blue Aida. Then I felt I wanted to acknowledge the situation in Ukraine. I made a flag with blue and gold petersham ribbon, and stitched it down with a flagpole in couched brown crewel wool.
Finally I did a sunflower - I had some orange/gold random dye crochet cotton. I did detached chain for the petals, and brown crewel french knots for the seeds.
I was really pleased with all of this, and was just about ready to post it off. Then another news story hit the headlines, briefly pushing Ukraine off the top spot.
After all these years of hoping and praying, Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe was home. Something wonderful to celebrate 
I added a line of stitching to the side of the cloth
If this project is to represent our thoughts and feelings and activities, then this certainly deserves to be sewn, with joy and gratitude, onto my piece of linen!
[the sunflower is the Ukrainian national flower, and seen as a symbol of unity and hope]

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

I've gone down more than a dress size, my jeans are rather too loose [hence the 'new' belt] I decided as we were going away, it would be a treat to have a new pair for the first time in ages. Off we went to M&S in Norwich
It is a large store in the city centre. I'd looked online and knew which styles I wanted to try on [Sienna and Lily] We went off to the Changing Rooms. A sign said that they were open again.
I took off my coat, and asked Bob to mind that, and my bag. He sat down on the sofa by the entrance to the Changing Rooms. There were no other customers or assistants around.  I tried on Lily [ho hum, not sure] and came out to show him. Definitely No. I went back in and tried on Sienna. Much better. I returned to the cubicle to put on my own clothes.
When I came out, there were a couple of assistants by the desk, and another bloke about to sit down on the sofa. The assistant said he couldn't sit there. And Bob shouldn't be there either. Why not? Well, it appears they were both men and if they peered round the corner, they might be able to see women getting changed. They hadn't moved Bob, as I was the only woman changing and he was with me. "But you are starting a trend" she complained to him.
Bob asked why the sofa was there then? She explained it was not for sitting on, it was for decoration!
I felt very irritated by this. "The M&S in Leicester has a sofa specifically for people who are waiting" I said "And if you were to move those mannequins in bras to this space, and put the sofa in that alcove, the people on it would just face a blank wall" 
I don't think she liked that "Are you going to buy those jeans?" "I shall take this pair to the Pay Point" I replied. She put out her hand for the other pair 
I added "But can I just point out that these ones are labelled 'short' - but the ones I do not want are labelled 'regular' and they are a full 2" shorter" She said that sometimes happens. 
[I did not tell her that both pairs were too long for me] I shortened my jeans when I got home, sitting on a sofa designed for seating, not for decoration!

Monday 21 March 2022

Canons, Copper and Continence

Last Monday I was with my SIL Barbara in Northamptonshire. We had a lovely long weekend with her. She lives in a little village just south of Rugby - and it was amazing to wake up each morning and look out of the window across her garden to the field beyond. It's particularly interesting because records show it has been kept for pasture since at least 1600AD - and the earliest inhabitants, who ploughed it 1100 years ago used the old medieval ridge and furrow method. You can still see these humps today - a fairly rare example of a medieval village!

On Sunday we visited nearby Canons Ashby, a fine NT property with an interesting history. This Tudor manor house has been in the Dryden family for over 400 years, and various occupants have added to and altered the house and gardens.

Across the road is St Mary's Church - originally part of a huge priory, built around 1150. Situated on the busy road between Oxford and Northampton, there were plenty of travellers needed hospitality. The Priory rapidly became very wealthy. Sadly the distracting temptations offered by passing nobility became too much. 

The story goes that a visiting Bishop found the Priory empty, and  the canons in a nearby tavern, dressed in jewelled clothes, consorting with local women. So much for poverty chastity and obedience! The priory was blacklisted, and dissolved by Henry VIII in 1536.

Most of the buildings were demolished, but various Drydens reclaimed the building materials for work on their house. The second Dryden to live there, Erasmus, extended the farmhouse, and commissioned all sorts of murals.

We entered the house through an archway into a courtyard, and the Covid-safe route led us first into the kitchen. Here's Bob and Barbara patiently waiting for me to take the picture!

I'm a sucker for Victorian kitchens like this, with all the copper pans. The flagstones are from the Priory.
There were lots of amazing portraits. Lady Elizabeth Cornwallis, dressed as Diana the Huntress [painted 1662]  She was related to the Poet Laureate John Dryden

Sir Henry Dryden inherited the property in 1837, just 19 years old. Nicknamed "The Antiquary", he was passionately interested in history and was determined to restore the house to its full glory. He changed the mullioned windows for sash, and added a façade of dressed stone. He left his studies at Oxford and declared he would not marry till the house was sorted and he was out of debt! He kept to this - finally marrying Fanny Tredcroft [42] when he was 47. They had one daughter, Alice. He wanted his home to be a Palladian beauty. Sadly he never discovered Erasmus' 16thC murals of the prophet Jereboam which had been overpainted. These only came to light during a NT restoration project in the late 20thC. 

I was very taken with this lovely 17thC Flemish tapestry. I thought it might be Abraham welcoming his visitors under the Great Oaks of Genesis 18.
I asked the room guide. "Oh no!" she told us enthusiastically. "It's another story called The Incontinence of Scipio" We think she meant Continence. Outside Barbara and I were giggling about it. Definitely what my dear cousin Gill would have called "A Tena-Lady moment!"
I looked it up later [here] 
Canons Ashby has other rooms, currently under covid-closure. Also an excellent 2nd hand bookshop and a coffee shop. The house has a peel [or pele] tower - a lookout point, which could also support a warning beacon, if invaders were seen approaching. This is the only one in the Midlands- most are in the north of England. But the first Dryden was originally from Cumbria so added this lookout to his home.
I hope to visit again, when more rooms are opened up - and when the gardens are at their summer best. It was certainly a lovely day out - thank you Barbara

Sunday 20 March 2022

Lent Reflection #3 - Leaving Deliberately

First looking again, then learning graciously, now leaving deliberately 

What do I mean by that? It is all about my mindset around letting go of things. For all of my 66th year, when I wasn't adjusting to the lifestyle changes inflicted by the Pandemic, or running Grandma's Nursery for Rosie, I was working towards retirement and moving.

There was definitely a lot of letting go/leaving behind at that point

  • letting go of church responsibilities. 
  • letting go of superfluous furniture and 'homewares'. Lots of stuff as we went from 40 years in large Manses [plus holiday bungalow] to just Cornerstones.
  • leaving behind many friends - yes some friendships last, but there is a difference between day-to-day contact and distanced relationships. 
  • leaving behind resources which we have no storage room for, in our new life - and realistically no use for. My beloved Palm Tree and my knitting machine.
definition deliberate [verb] "to engage in long and careful consideration" 
definition deliberate [adj] "done consciously and intentionally

Much as I love Cornerstones, and life in Norfolk, in many ways laying down 40 years in ministry wasn't done lightly. I found the leaving UCF easier because we did it deliberately. Bob spent a really long time considering his different roles, and working out how to leave the church in a 'prepared' state. Nobody in a church/school/workplace/family wants to find themselves asking "How do we do this?" and find the answer is "We don't know, X always did it" or "That was Y's job, and we've got no idea where the key/contact number/password is"

None of our furniture ended up in a skip. The dining suite went to Manchester. We considered what we could sell, and the 'better' pieces went off to Facebook Marketplace. And then two young friends were allocated Married Quarters at the barracks- and really grateful for a bed, sofas, coffee table, bookcases etc [it was dead weird going to visit, and sit in their lounge surrounded by our stuff though!] I am so glad to be able to picture my stuff in their family home now. 
After a couple of months in Norfolk, I
deliberately left some social media groups I was in. I explained that we had settled happily, miles from Dorset and it just wasn't appropriate for me to be part of the group anymore. People were kind, wishing us well - and many have sent the occasional private message since. 

My Palm Tree went to a Primary School, along with a set of Nativity Costumes.  And my knitting machine, unused since Kirby days, went to someone who wanted to take up the craft in her retirement. Leaving these once much-used, special items with people who would love and care for them and give them new purpose felt really positive.

I acknowledge that I have been blessed with the time to prepare for this huge change, many people have to get up and flee and leave everything. But these news pictures remind me I have too much stuff - I need to be passing it on to others. My newly widowed neighbour told me yesterday that her late husband's winter coats have all gone to Ukraine Relief on a lorry - I said he was a good, kind man who would be glad that they were blessing others, and not hanging unused in a wardrobe. She said that thought was helping her.

Minimalism is definitely a Work In Progress for me. I can't look at an item and make the keep/discard decision quickly. I want to be sure I am not ditching something which still has a purpose for somebody else- nor yet hanging on to things which hinder my progress. This is a spiritual issue as well as a practical and emotional one. As the Bible says in Hebrews ch 12
So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends 

Saturday 19 March 2022

A Mammoth Event

Once again it was time for the Makers Festival at The Forum in Norwich. Click on the pictures for a larger view

First stall, spotted just inside the door, was Heather the Smocking Lady. She had some beautiful pieces, and I discovered she's only 5 miles away from Cornerstones. The pandemic proved difficult - her 'regular' job is stitching wedding dresses- and so many weddings were cancelled or 'simplified'

We chatted about agricultural smocks and how every piece of fabric is a square or triangle, and all the 'fitting' is  dependent on the elasticity of the smocking stitch,

On the other side, a display of Ganseys from Sheringham The jersey has become a general name for a piece of sleeved knitwear, but a gansey/guernsey is much more specific.

The ladies explained how the bodies and sleeves were rectangles and trapezium shaped, and the gussets under the arms were squares. No intricate shaping.

The blue buttons were on another display but I just loved their colours!

5 Minutes that Matter- a campaign by the WI to encourage cervical screening, in pretty pinks with some explanatory text embroidered between the roses. 

Whenever I hoover, the machine emits tiny spores of resentment..."

There was a string of yellow dusters embroidered with red slogans. The lady standing next to me said she found some of the feminist statements quite offensive! [I was more bothered by those with stitching which had clearly taken hours, but contained basic spelling mistakes]

Quilting is on my "to-do-again-one-day" list. 

Inevitably there were lots of pieces relating to the pandemic.

Some were quite simple, others very intricate.

This year there was more opportunity for 'hands-on' crafting. You could knit or crochet a small flower, or stitch a Suffolk Puff to be fixed on to the woolly mammoth - whose 'coat' gradually increased throughout the show.

The woolly mammoth was officially named the first part of the 2022 GoGo Trail. There will be 25 of these, plus 21 T-Rex's from the 2021 Trail and nearly 100 Breakasaurus' - all in support of Break, the Norfolk children's charity. Rosie and I will definitely enjoy that this summer

I did not have time to try my hand at the Potter's Wheel, it did look fun. There were also sketching tables, and a stall where you could stitch a postcard [Kirsten and I already have our own Postcard Project]

I think this year's festival was even better than previous years. Lots more to see. Margaret "Norfolk's Queen of Knitting" was sent across the way, and her miniature buildings were on display in St Peter Mancroft Church [just in case you missed them last year] 

And all free too.