Friday, 31 July 2009

This 'n' that

No mean progress on the shed! The Hub used my absence wisely, apart from a fishing trip...(don't I sound just like a school marm!)...
These are the amaryllis seeds growing away quietly, its quite exciting really!
And here we have carrots, broad beans and scallions from the garden. Of course I didn't remember to plant some every fortnight so now I've a glut of scallions, and the rogue potatoes have taken over the carrots. What to do but eat the carrots, anyhow they are lovely and juicy. Wednesday was rather a washout as I slept all day, too much excitement in the big smoke, I guess. Today it rained all day (most unusual!!!) so all I could do was stand at the window watching the garden get away from me. Ho hum...
Sos has gone to stay on a friend's boat with a bunch of friends and then they have all sorts of events planned. Another friend is playing with his band on Sunday night so they are going to that. B is going to Dublin tomorrow to stay with Dilly for the long weekend. I've a funeral to play for tomorrow, a member of the congregation who was 96 and well beloved by friends and family, a life well lived. Sad, but more to be thankful for.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Home again-jiggety jig!

We got back from London yesterday with no hitches, though I have to say that Aer Lingus' check in routines in Gatwick were a bit chaotic, but we found our way, really by Mum accosting people and asking. Then she was most put out when we went downstairs to go to the Departures gate to discover another level of shops! So she did a quick detour whilst we went on!

Monday we each spent doing errands, I had to buy new music for the School Nativity this Christmas as I have used up everything I own. I found two suitable books in Chappell’s which was great. I also visited John Lewis, Liberty, HMV, and then, as I had nearly two hours before meeting the others I headed to the V & A Museum, which is one of my favourite places! I visited the Theater Exhibit, Textiles and the gallery housing Owen Jones’ sketches. I took quite a few photos to work from, and lots of ideas for quilt patterns are milling around in my head. (Don’t you find Ideas take on a life of their own and the jostling can become fairly noisy and acrimonious? Sometimes I wonder who is in charge of the inside of my head- me or the Ideas?)

On Monday evening we went to see the Musical ‘Wicked’, a recent prequel to the ‘Wizard of Oz’. It was brilliant! Set design and costumes were phantasmagorical and intricate, and the technical side was spectacular. We were sitting right up in the gods and I think we lost nothing by being so far from the stage. I’d go again, and in fact it was the bro’s second time.

ceiling of the Apollo Theater, Art Deco design and very evocative of that era, I thought.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Theater exhibit- the detail on this was beautiful but the photo is not good; it gives an idea though.
part of the Theater exhibit
this and below, some of Owen Jones' drawings. They were meticulous, detailed, and the colours really vivid still- I'm going to research him further.

inner courtyard of the V & A Museum
chandeliers in Liberty. Its such a beautiful building.
galleries in Liberty
The Royal College of Organists by the Royal Albert Hall, I had to take a photo of that!
Kew Gardens
canna lillies outside the Palm House, just look at the pattern on those leaves!
the Water Lily House- it was beautiful and a lot of lillies were flowering.
agapanthus and phlox, can't remember which section
eucalyptus bark
rock pool in the Alpine section with the Princess of Wales Glasshouse behind
anthurium in the Palm House.

It was wet and windy at Knock, but more rain on the wind than lashing, if you see the distinction! I was quite amusing as the plane taxied to its place a loud and indignant small (English) voice exclaimed: 'It's raining!' Everyone laughed. Anyhow, as soon as Mom had the case, we opened it and got out jerseys and anoraks, before even leaving the baggage hall! Yes, well, we knew we were home...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Great time-mostly!

Isn't visiting London great? We arrived rather late on Friday after the brouhaha which closed Gatwick airport for a few hours, checked into the hotel where the folks were staying, and walked down High Street Kensington to find a place to eat. Lovely! Is it me, or does food I haven't prepared always taste better?

As I'm staying with 'the bro' we got the bus back to his place and stayed up talking for ages.

 Saturday was so interesting. Firstly it was a lovely sunny day. (The bro cycled,I went by Tube- Ilove the Tube, the hum and clack, the musty fumes smell, all the people, the old-fashioned architecture of it...) We took ourselves to Kew Gardens for the morning and early afternoon. I've taken a whole heap of photos (using Dad's camera, of course, which he has named 'The Camara-da'!!!) but I didn't bring the lead so can't upload them til I get home- just wait! There was so much to see, but we had to leave at 3.30 to be in time for the first concert. 

The first Concert of the evening was an Organ Recital on the Royal Albert Hall 'Father Willis' Organ... it had fantastic volume and range, was amazing! Imagine being the one to fill the auditorium with all that sound! I'd like some history and information on that particular Organ, but I'll look it up later.The Organist was David Titterington, the programme eclectic. My own favourite was the last movement of the Elgar Organ Sonata No. One, it was just perfect.

We galloped round the corner to a bistro for a quick but delicious supper before the main Prom. I think the staff were rather bemused by us, perhaps they aren't used to people dining so fast, and are more of an 'experience' place? Anyhow, the whole shebang lined up to wish us an enjoyable Prom, think I counted eight.

By the way, I'm using the bro's laptop and his 'H' is just a gap in the keyboard, which is rather disconcerting. Apparantly its courtesy of another sister, but he said she'll deny it.

The Prom was great.We had seats just behind and above the orchestra and it was pretty intense.

And then on Sunday morning at 5am the bug restruck so I spent until mid-afternoon in bed. I was really narked with my stomach! I missed the Columbia Road flower market, but the bro told Mum I would have cried anyhow as I couldn't have bought anything because of flying home!

I emerged about 3o'c and went over to High St Ken for a wander before meeting the others and going to another Prom. They were doing Holst' Choral Symphony- orchestra, organ, and the best part of 250 was an amazing sound and sight!

And now for Monday- I'm fine this morning, thank's be, and I'll head out at 9.30 as the Tube is off-peak then.

To be continued...

Friday, 24 July 2009

I'm off!

Hooray! Hooray! I'm on my way!
My London holiday starts today!

...paraphrase from the Berenstein Bears, if I recall, a favourite with my girls when they were very little, but still yelled every time they or us go away!

I'll try bring you back lots of photos, and be good whilst I'm gone!

I've left yous a story on to keep you amused!

Thursday, 23 July 2009

State of the Garden

Just look at the flowers the Hub brought me yesterday for my birthday! Aren't they lovely? The lilies aren't even open yet so in another day or so they'll be spectacular. There's alstroemaria and lisianthus in there too with the chrysanthemums and statice and gerbera and phlox. I'm so delighted! Before I show you the dodgy parts of my garden, here's the fucia. Its wild and grows along the road and here and there. You can tell I haven't had a hand in it because it's doing so well! I love it though, the flowers are so perfect. When they visited Ireland as little people the girls used to think that dandelion 'down' were flying fairies, and fucia blossoms were dancing fairies!

This is some of what is waiting to be planted out...I've been gathering cuttings and other people's throw-away plants, and bought some for the last nine years whilst waiting for a garden of my own. You can imagine moving it all from the rented house...and that's only a part!

These photos I have managed to get in the wrong order, as usual, sorry. This one below is a pointsetia I've nursed along for nearly three years. In Nairobi they grew wild and were great for sticking in to fill gaps in the hedges as they generally grew to over six foot tall, so I had to have one for here even if it only goes outside in July! Last Christmas the bracts turned red with lovely yellow flowers.
Don't know whether you can see, but the broad beans are coming along. I think I need to pinch out the tops to prevent blackfly. I'm really looking forward to eating these, my favourite vegetable!
This is -ha!ha! a flowerbed. I wanted a profusion of flowers and mixed the seeds when sowing them...BAD I don't know which are weeds and the whole thing is a jumble. Last year I carefully sowed everything in pots and then the weather was so bad they withered before getting out into deeper soil. Perhaps I'll get right next year? Mar ya, sez you!
The strawberry plants look great but have produces exactly four strawberries. They did flower, the pots are deep enough, though I plan to plant them in the deep raised bed next year, they aren't particularly foliage wild, so I dunno. Mind you, the berries they did produce were delicious.
The broad beans got totally smushed the last fortnight, I'll know to stake them for next year. This photo was supposed to be above. Some plants have been broken off and withered so I removed them. They've collapsed onto the three french bean plants I left in that bed, and something has eated all the other beans so there won't be many french beans this year. At least the Swiss Chard is doing well, no photo as we ate it during the week, so are waiting for more! Its brilliant as we've eaten it almost to the ground at least five times this summer and back it grows! Onions, rather battered, as are the mangetout to the right of them, but didn't take photo.

Spring onions, quite a few eaten already, as are the carrots. I've also found several gratuitous tomatos in with the rogue potatoes, so we'll see how they do. Obviously the compost wasn't as composted as I thought! What hey! Its free!
Should the rhubarb be growing this vigorously at this time of year? Its 'Timperly Early' and brand new, only got it in May.
And herewith one Hub hard at work on his shed! He drilled 16 holes into the cement plinth (for which we can't afford to build a breize block shed as the planning specifies) last night, inserted the dowel rods and is waiting for the putty/glue to dry. Tonight he hopes to bolt down the base. Tuesday,he returned home clanking oddly and proceeded to extract 16 x 7" (?) bolts from his pockets! Is it any wonder his trousers wear out??
Yesterday afternoon Sos presented me with a little bar of chocolate tied up in ribbon: 'Happy Birthday Mom, and can I have the ribbon back?' Hmmm!
Dilly has been home since Monday afternoon (she was suffering withdrawal symptoms from my Georghette Heyer books), though she leaves this afternoon, and its been great. Sos and B have talked endlessly with her, but yesterday afternoon the conversation waned. Firstly they played a murderous game of 'Risk!', ignoring all the strategy cards and going for world domination. I tell you, even some terrorists could learn from these three hoodlums! When Sos had won (I really don't know how as the other two were cheating), they then started singing all the Disney songs they know, which is A LOT! That carried on for over an hour and was deafening- not very musical either!
I meant to include a progress photo on the little quilt, but that'll have to wait til tomorrow. Its not finished, but it is taking shape.

Tomorrow I'm off to London for four days with the folks, to stay with my brother. I'm really looking forward to it as we're going to two Prom Concerts, another recital, and a Show. Also a flower Market on Sunday morning, and Oxford Street. I wonder what Aer Lingus would say if I pitched up at check-in with a trolley load of plants? More to the point, what would my Dad say...

Hope you're not bored with the long post?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


In my next life I want to be a bear.

If you're a bear you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months.
I could deal with that!

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid.
I could deal with that, too.

If you're a bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs.
I could definately deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.
I could deal with that.

If you're a bear your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup!...Gonna be a bear.

(sent to me by my sister many years ago, and held onto for the bad times- it usually cheers me up. Enjoy your day Sister Bears!)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bugs, yuck!

Well there's not much to tell for the last two days since Sos and B were kind enough to bring home a stomach bug at the weekend. They've been suffering as well as me, but its been really grotty. Tomorrow is my birthday too, and I was sick on my birthday last year. Pattern emerging here...

And that's it really...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Ta-dah! The Hub's work bench! (of which he is inordinately proud!)

This morning when the alarm clock went off I was being chased by a lion in a yellow open topped mini, how weird is that? Luckily the alarm scared it off or I'd have been eaten by now.

We had a visiting preacher today as our Rector is on holiday (much needed), and his wife's Father died on Friday so they are up North. All prayers gratefully accepted.

Today's Epistle reading was from Ephesians Ch2 v11-22, about Christ coming to build a new Society working through us as individuals. Rev. Conway pointed out that as far as we Gentiles are concerned the reason for the Jews being the Chosen People was realised in the life, death and Ressurrection of Jesus. Through His Crucifixion Jesus gives everyone the right to be His people and to spend time in His presence through prayer, Bible reading and contemplation. He gives us the privelege of living in hope, coming nearer to Him, the power to destroy divisions and barriers between people and the option of joining together in peace.
To round off his message Rev. Conway quoted John Ch14 v21: 'Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.' That puts loving and obeying together, rather a chicken and egg conundrum- if I don't obey God do I really love Him? If I love Him can I not do as He urges? Think about it!

And now I suppose I'd better peel the potatoes otherwise the chicken will be cooked and the spuds raw, not a tasty combination. Roast carrots I think, and we'll have Swiss chard and spring onion salad as that's all the veg patch is producing at present!

Friday, 17 July 2009

How to Recycle a broken Umbrella!

Broken umbrellas are the pits- but this is a way of reusing the fabric to make a useful grocery bag. I haven't had any ideas for the metal, yet.
Here is the fabric of the umbrella cut carefully off the metal spokes. This umbrella had 6 section joins, If yours has more then please alter the numbers below.

Use 30" of matching bias binding, or make your own, and fold it in half lengthwise, raw edges inwards. Iron flat to assist even sewing.

Do a running stitch the whole length, ending up with a norrow 'string'.
Cut the 'String' into 6 x 5" pieces. These are the makings for the little loops you will attach at the section joins.
I sewed backwards and forwards several times across the loop ends. You can see I have attached it with one end either side of the section seam. Attach all six loops the same way.
The very center where the sections join will have a hole from detaching it from the spokes. Sew a small patch over it. I did a very rudimentary one and went round the edges with running stitch twice.The Handle: If you have nice cord to use for the handle then skip this part. Otherwise, cut a wider length of fabric- I cut a strip 2" wide and 48" long, prepare it in the same way as bias binding, ironing in the raw edges, folding in half, and stitching along the length.The wider fabric will be more comfortable on the hands when carrying things in the bag, so make it as wide as you want. Thread this strip through all six loops, then firmly stitch the two ends together flat.
This is the handle threaded though the loops...
...and voila! the finished bag- whoops! forgot to swivel it round.
One very light, fit in your handbag, shopper! If your umbrella had a fastener, you can use it to keep the bag shut, or fold the bag small and use the fastener to keep it tidy.

No water, horse visitor, and children.

It’s been a quiet day, literally and figuratively.

Dilly rang this morning for a chat which was unusual, but it was slow at work. I put the mobile on speaker-phone so Sos and I could both talk to her, and from time to time her work phone rang and she had to deal with customers. Sos and I were in kinks listening to Dilly being polite and efficient! Then the dogs heard her voice and came galloping in looking for her, so she had to talk to them. They are always baffled when they hear her and she’s not here. B is going to Dublin next week to stay with Dilly so we sorted details.

Sos and B went into town again this afternoon, Sos to have a hair-cut and B to meet a friend for coffee and chat. Sos’ new cut looks very smart and apparently the salon owner asked the trainee and Sos if they’d like to try out dying it next week, so they are both happy about that. Sos also bought tickets for her and B to hear Eoghan Quigg sing tomorrow night (he was an X-Factor finalist).
Talking of Concerts, Dilly was given a ticket to Bruce Springsteen at the RDS last weekend and said he was fabulous. He played for three hours twenty minutes straight and the atmosphere was amazing. When everyone got out (round midnight) she said a good many of the 20,000 strong crowd walked back towards town taking over the whole road and re-singing all the songs they’d just been hearing! Dilly thought it was a real time to remember.

I weeded the big flower bed for an hour this afternoon as the weather turned beautifully warm and sunny. I think I need to plant more in there as the gaps between plants are too wide and weedy. When things spread I can always dig up and divide them I guess. I’m wondering whether the skimmia is happy though as it looks kind of scorched. There’s full sun all day and perhaps that’s not what it likes, have to look it up.

I’ve been playing with the photo editing on the computer today, without much success, but I learned quite a lot. I took some more photos, was trying to make a collage but haven’t figured exactly how to position them. I will!

We’ve been without water most of the day, looks like the road-works people have broken the pipe again, but it’s at least a month since it happened so it’s bearable. The problem will be if they don’t get it fixed early tomorrow. Since our water supply comes off the cattle trough of the next farmer’s field the line is a bit dodgy at the best of times.

And to top it all, Billy the kicking, biting, bad-tempered pony from down the valley is grazing our garden and clopping round and round our house for fun. Which means Ben and Bertie are racing round inside, leaping up and woofing whenever Billy passes a window. Aagh! Dublin Zoo would be more tranquil…

We stopped off for an ice-cream on the way home from town and tried the ‘Magnum Temptations’- absolutely WICKED!

As a Postscript, we went outside to watch the International Space Station pass overhead last night: I’ve wrtiien about it in my Timeless Treasures blog at

Wednesday, 15 July 2009



Lucifer and Astilibe!

I just did something really stupid- I pressed ‘play’ on the CD player without checking either the volume or the disc and was practically thrown across the kitchen…at a respectable volume, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ soundtrack is great, but at 40plus is mind -blowing…I’d forgotten the girls were playing it last night. Change to Enya, I think...

Once again I've managed to get photos in the wrong order, oh well, 'and the last shall be first and the first, last', but Jesus hadn't my computer inadequacy in mind when He said that!
Sos is on her final designs for her Debs dress so as soon as the Hub is paid there’ll be a trip to Cliffoney for fabric. She’s decided she wants two layers. Goodness help me! This is the sketch front and back, and the photo at the side is from the Nomads catalogue, she wants ribbons round the waist like that dress. I hope you can make it out ok.
The montbretia is beginning to flower, starting with my pots of hybrid ‘Lucifer’. Mum bought me the bulbs at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years back and I’ve always wondered whether there was irony involved in the choice or did she just like the colour?! I haven’t asked in case I don’t like the answer!!
I just went out to take a photo and in rooting round the pots found what I think is a white astilibe- I’ve been wanting one but they were 12euro in Horkan’s and that was too much for me. I also spoke to the sumac which is doing well (thought it had died in the winter), and to my delight I’ve just discovered that the mahonia is alive. I thought I’d lost it, it’s not very healthy but ok. As you can tell I’m a great gardener…
And here are my two partners in the garden- Ben who likes to dig things up...
And Bertie who lies on everything.
Dilly’s been having a frustrated day at work; firstly a visitor drank all the milk they had for the free teas and coffees in the foyer. Then someone phoned to book tickets for the play and couldn’t find his credit card so kept the phone line busy for a while. Since booking he’s been phoning to alter the booking at intervals, figuring that the various people are entitled to concessions. Dilly is going nuts although she admits that in between there are loads of really pleasant polite folks.
I know as a teacher, it takes one major run-in with a student to discolour one’s day, and Dilly says the same. I guess it’s the same for everyone; it makes good manners so important.

Sos has taken B to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter film. B’s birthday was during the final stages before Sos’s exams, and there was also a family Wedding happening, and Sos remembered this morning she had never got her a present, so this trip is it. Afterwards B is having her hair cut by a friend of Sos from school who is training to be a hairdresser. So the Hub dropped them off in town on the way to work.

I am reading a Nora Robert’s book, ‘Angel Falls’ and becoming rather engrossed. I lent the last one to Mum for her holiday. I ordered Jane Kirkpatrick’s book ‘Aurora’ from Amazon last week as her book don’t get this far west and the other evening on the internet I discovered there will be another Diana Gabaldon novel out at the end of this year, or thereabouts. Several somethings to look forward to,(unfortunately my book addiction started young, and shows no sign of abating, although I do try to keep it under control…)

Now, since I am temporarily girl-less, I am going to quilt some more.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Teacup Tuesday, Skylight and a new Bag.

This is one of my mum's favourite china patterns, the tea-set is brought out on special occasions like birthday teas. I tried to do a cross-stitch tablecloth for her to match the set but it was quite complicated doing it on linen and I never finished it.
Well this morning began with a trip to the folks for the Hub to investigate the leaking skylight in their kitchen. He climbed out onto the roof, took it apart and sort of re-sealed it with silicon stuff normally used around bathroom sinks. It’s rather ‘Heath Robinson’ but they went on holiday this morning and its been raining non-stop the past few days.

Then we took B out to Ballisodare to a fishing competition where two friends were competing. It was raining when we left and I forgot to remind her to bring an anorak so of course she forgot. When the Hub demanded to know how she would avoid getting wet she answered (in some indignation); ‘Well I’m not intending to fall in the river, you know!’ Ummm, that wasn’t really the point, dear. (But actually, she didn’t, to my surprise!)

In the traffic we were behind a very dirty van upon which some wise-guy had written: 'Also in green.' We laughed so much, and then Sos got out the camera and took some photos, but it's not very clear. (I love the humour here.)
The front hall is now a workshop as, with all the rain, the hub got fed up running in and out trying to keep the tools dry. So now the garden table is inside with all the wood and tools and he can carry on working through rain and shine. We will say nothing about the sawdust, mud, wet, etc. Luckily when we floored the hall, kitchen and passage-way we were able to buy reclaimed timber boards (apparently from a 100 year old Convent in Belfast which had been demolished some time previously), which is over an inch thick and well able to withstand the abuse it gets in this household. They say not to floor a kitchen in wood but its brilliant, is wearing well and has significantly reduced our breakages compared to the cement and lino flooring in the rented house.
I finished sewing myself a new shoulder-bag this afternoon as the previous one disintegrated some time ago. It turned out quite well I think although I used fabric that was a bit thick. I was trying to make it tough enough as I’m pretty hard on a bag and I hate having a new one. The embroidered bit is sort of broderie perse which came of a scrap of curtain material I found.

If you remember, I planted amaryllis seeds some weeks ago and I am delighted to say they are beginning to germinate. I am both amazed and delighted!

Last night I came across a students’ writing competition whilst on the internet so I showed B and Sos. The upper limit was 18 so Sos just made it. The prize is to meet Anthony Horowitz, children’s author, and the deadline is tomorrow night. Well both girls have written a story today and emailed it which is good going for them, not notably speedy these two gargoyles.

Well B has been collected from the river, pizzas are in the oven and suppose I had better find some supper for myself since I can’t eat pizza- they do smell good!


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