Thursday, 27 August 2009

Childhood memories...

Unusual for me to do another blog so soon, but one posted by my dear friend Rachel about her childhood prompted me to do something similar, and invite my faithful few followers, a small but perfectly formed, though slightly motley crew, to reveal their own memories. Rachel did it perfectly, with sound bites as it were, just a few words of this and that to convey a memory.. doubt I can be so economical, but this is more of a Rambling of a Three R's posting. Just to see where it takes us...

I grew up across the road from the sea... first memories of sharing a tall, Edwardian terraced house include the annoying little boy who lived downstairs, called Peter, a rather soppy blond child who insisted on holding my hand as we walked to school, aged five. Of the smell of home made lemon curd; and although I don't remember much about the furniture and so on, I do remember a pale blue Eastham kitchen cabinet - an all in one sort of thing with shelves behind glass doors at the top, a pull down worktop bit and cupboards below. I remember sitting in a huge window, on a window seat, watching all the holidaymakers in the summer, coaches arriving from all different parts of the country; the smell of the sea; the sound of the gulls; watching the model yacht races; standing by the lighthouse waving goodbye/hello to my father as he left for the fishing waters off Iceland with the fishing fleet - the banana boats as I called them because of their colour not exotic cargoes.

The smell of fresh fish is an integral part of my childhood as my father brought home his choice pickings of the catch, and eating out from an early age too, being propped on several cushions and treated like a little princess. How I hate being the centre of attention now!

Feeling above all, loved and safe, and happy, no fears, no worries about predators or nasty things happening... apart from my doctor's boxer dog which was exuberant to say the least, and was meant to be kept in the back garden, but somehow often managed to escape into the basement where the surgery and waiting room were.

School days? Loved the work, the sisters who taught us (for the most part, there were one or two harridans though!), but wasn't Miss Popular. I had one friend, and was never invited to any other parties, always the last one to be picked for team sports. Teacher's pet when it came to spelling and composition writing... her whipping boy when it came to maths and history! Nature walks along the beach which had an added frisson after the day the flasher appeared from behind a sand dune! Climbing to the top of a local landmark called The Mount, and then rolling down the other side on the grass, and not sure now, which left me more breathless! Going to play tennis in the park, more for the attractions of the junior park-keeper for many of us teenage girls, some with handkerchiefs stuffed inside their bras to make themselves more alluring, so they thought. Some of us unfortunately were blessed with the real thing.. though not sure 'blessed' is the right word to use to be honest. And I remember too, the way it was seen as 'normal' for a man from the school uniform company to come and measure us girls, always with a nun in the room, but even so, it wouldn't be allowed today. Music lessons in the music room of the convent, a small waterfall feature outside running into a pond, the playing of The Trout on the piano, girly voices practising carols at Christmas.

Away from school my memories are all tied up with my mother, who was such fun to be with, and who more than made up for the lack of a father's presence. She and I had great times... picnics on the beach where she would smoke one of her three or four menthol cigarettes a month, disapproving of women who smoked in public, but this was to keep the sandflies away, she said. Going to work with her during the school holidays when I was thirteen and she had gone back to work after being a stay at home mum all my life to that point. She worked for a tea and coffee importer, and I can't smell freshly ground beans now, without thinking back fifty years almost. Going on day trips, Belle Vue Zoo, Southport Flower Show, the Dales, we loved these coach trips. As we did our weekly visits to the library, a lovely Gothic building, all wood inside, the smell of polish, old books, the squeak of the librarians shoes as she moved around the shelves, the thrill when I was able to go into the adults section at last, choosing books by Frances Parkinson Keyes, Elizabeth Goudge, Mazo de la Roche....

Food memories are rather strange... flat bowls of oxtail soup with chips in... Liverpudlian Scouse... chips with curry sauce.. branston pickle sandwiches... chips with scraps and mushy peas and lots of salt and vinegar... school dinners of meatballs, leftover Sunday roast (from the convent), sponge pudding with jam and coconut on the top, tapioca which most of us hated, but the meals all freshly cooked in the convent kitchen next door and mostly delicious. Posh nosh when my father took us out for a meal, lobster, steak, prawns... watered down wine, just a little at first, but more as I got older, and then of course came the days when it wasn't watered down any more!

But overall, despite the lack of popularity at school, still feeling loved and cherished, happy and safe.

Then into the world of work, and apart from one horrendous memory here, where the feeling of being safe was taken away temporarily, this was a happy, happy time. Fun to be 16, 17 and so on, childhood left behind, but the rest of my life ahead to be filled and enjoyed. Of course, real life doesn't always work out as planned or dreamed of does it? But on the whole I have felt as I did as a little girl all those years ago... loved and safe and happy, and I hope I have made my own children feel the same, and that they in turn pass it on to their children, and that all their memories will be as happy as mine.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Things go with a 'Bang!', I learn another new phrase, nature's foibles, plus the usual weekly mixture.

At the moment here in North Norfolk, it's breezy but dry. Later this afternoon it is expected to get windy and wet, due to the tail end of Hurricane Bill moving across from the Irish Sea/Atlantic sea coasts, to the North Sea. Fortunately for us, by the time it gets here, Bill will be almost blowed out, but the rain will be welcome.

I decided to make fish goujons for our evening meal, preparing them this morning, leaving them to chill and the coating to set, in the fridge. So I got out my trusty old blender, attached the coffee bean smashing bit, and prepared to make breadcrumbs. This may sound a little strange to you, but it works for me! Of course, you can only make a small amount at a time, so you need patience for this. I got the first batch made, and then put in the crusts for the second, switched on and BANG! Puffs of smelly smoke, horrible smell... hastily switched off and unplugged the machine. I have been saying for more years than I care to remember that I should replace this, it's got to be over 25 years old, if not more. Now I have to... it could be something that husband could fix, but what's the point? Some of the attachments are past their best, so I might as well get a new one, Tesco probably do one for a fiver, which is good enough for the amount of times I use it! So, it was making breadcrumbs with the grater, and outside with the smelly old blender.

Those of you who know me, will know I love language, and words, and so I was delighted to discover, quite by chance yesterday lunchtime, a little programme of twenty minutes duration on channel five, about words and their meanings, presented by the sometimes slightly mad Tim Grundy. It was all to do with churches and associated subjects, and it was thanks to TG that I learnt another new phrase....'Four Wheeled Christians'. Husband couldn't figure out what it meant, can you? Apparently, this phrase refers to those people who only go to church on three occasions.... Christenings (pram wheels), Weddings (wedding cars) and Funerals (hearses). I suppose there will be those who say it doesn't matter why you go, or how often, just that you do. Just as there will be those who say it matters not, either way. Each to his own.

This is one of those little foibles of nature, thrown up to intrigue and bring a smile. The campion is happily flowering away, beautiful cerise flowers, except for just this one which opened up and revealed all its stripey glory. There are no others like it... strange or what?

I love knitting these little bags, found the pattern a few months ago and there has been no stopping me. But what to do with them all? Well, two of them have been put to good use I think, the above as a holder for gloves, and the the one below as a holder for small crochet projects, little balls of wool and a small hook. I am really into these comfortable hooks at the moment, they are so easy to hold and use.

It is thanks (I think!) to Vanessa (doyoumindifiknit) that I have got hooked, sorry, on small crocheted squares. Seeing hers reminded me of a project I made more years ago than I care to remember, consisting of small squares, sew together backed with a very fine cotton lawn, then sandwiched with fine wadding and a backing of pretty fabric. I stitched around the squares to give a lightly quilted effect.. it was a cover for a Moses-basket type crib I seem to remember. Anyway, the memory of it got me thinking, and without further ado I grabbed the small balls of leftover four ply, a 3.50 hook and made one and a half inch squares. Here are some of them, alongside a scarf I just finished crocheting in hand dyed Araucania wool from Chile, which is expensive, but I have just found an online shop that sells it for almost half price.

And here are some more. And no, I haven't a clue what I am going to do with them, possibly a cushion cover as I have a crocheted front in stripes, that needs a back, made of similar colours.

Books, as usual feature. These are two I have just bought myself as I am always on the look out for different ideas for gifts, and for what to do with leftovers, apart from crocheting small squares and so on. Often you buy more wool than you need, or end up using, and can have a complete ball left, so getting ideas for using them more productively, seemed a good idea. I am looking forward to spending some time over the coming Bank Holiday weekend, looking through these, plus THE SKY AT NIGHT magazine, if I ever find one around here!

As for reading matter... I am a great Anne Tyler fan, and am slowly getting all her books, only about four or five to go now. This is her latest, NOAH'S COMPASS, about Noah, aged 60, made redundant from his job, forced to leave his apartment for a smaller one, and coming to terms with who he is, and what his future holds. It seems a little bleak to begin with, especially as the first night in his new apartment he is attacked by an intruder and wakes up in hospital, having no memory as to how he got there. And Catherine Dunne I first read a few years ago, loved her writing and am looking forward to this, a couple of years old now, about four women who get together to celebrate their friendship, twenty five years of it, the negatives and the positives.

Books about women's friendships attract my attention, both fiction and factual, and I wonder why there aren't as many about male friendships... or is it that because I don't read male fiction I don't know about them? Which leads me to consider the differences between friendships that men make, and those between women. Do you think there are any differences? Do women forge stronger friendships than men, and if so why? Is it because we are more open with our feelings, that we find it easier to let out our innermost fears and hopes, trusting that another woman will understand, not judge or criticise? Someone remarked recently, on a women's magazine website that I belonged to, that I was strange because I didn't spend time with women friends, that all my women friends were 'accessed' if you like, via the email, letters, maybe the telephone on the odd occasion (I hate the telephone!). It's not because I live in a remote area geographically, but because in some ways, I am a remote person, detached from the hurly burly of everyday life, or that kind of 'normal' everyday life that most of you have. I don't belong to any organisations, am not a joiner in, and as many of you know, the very idea of mixing with a group of women makes my toes curl. I don't need the company of others, so why should I seek it out?
Anyway, even if you think I am strange, I hope you will enjoy my ramblings and rants and ravings, my weekly mix of books and crafts, this and that, and thank you for popping in again. Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend, however you spend it.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

This latest trend called SIY, books and sew on, do fish have ears, and a bit of poetry.

Apparently, the latest in thing is SIY, Sew It Yourself. A resurgence of interest in the idea of 'make do and mend', an upsurge of interest in buying clothes from charity shops and making changes to turn it into a unique item, or dressmaking from scratch. Stores report incredible increases in the sales of sewing machines, 500% in one case, and apparently Tesco sell one particular machine every two minutes, if you can believe the figures. All to do with the economy of course; it couldn't just be that this is the latest in a long line of fads and crazes, there has to be a reason for it apparently. Of course, there are those amongst you who have been creative with fabric for years and don't see what all the fuss is about. Then there are those of us with big ideas but pretty useless when it comes to the practical. My problem, and of course I meant me with that last statement, is that I tend to rush at things. I am not known for my patience, for taking time... I put it down to wanting to get as much done as I can, from having the attention span of a gnat, and a head bursting with ideas, colours, fabrics, wools all of which need to be turned into something Wonderful! But one accepts ones limitations... wonderful we don't do. Passable at a distance is nearer the mark. But none of the sewing things I make are fancy or original, I just do it because I like doing it. And have been every morning this week for some reason. Out comes the machine, which I only use for the long boring bits, preferring, really, to handsew as much as I can... I find it very relaxing. The Ashes on the radio, and sewing in hand. Or a story tape in the stereo and sewing in hand. Some of the things are good enough to go to a charity shop, or a friend who is involved with a small, local cat rescue operation constantly needing things to sell at fundraisers, more so than ever these days. (And who hasn't gone AAH! at the kittens at Battersea and elsewhere, featured on the news this week because there has been a dramatic decrease in the numbers of people wanting to take a kitty home. I find my resolve not to have another cat weakening at such times!) But mostly, they are for me, for the house...

This is a patchwork tote I made this morning, with one blue side and the other yellow, though the colours on the latter don't show up too well. Lined, one side with a purple to match the blue, and the other a sort of maroon picked out from the pansies, a piece of wadding between the layers, and with two-colour handles. It is at the finishing off stage now, a job for this afternoon, along with finishing off the second of the two envelope cushions for the outside dining chairs.

These are two little tote bags I made with a hexagon patchwork flower on the front. One of them I am going to add an appliqued 'S' on the reverse, a gift for my granddaughter when she starts nursery. Now I have no idea whether handsewn is going to be treated with the same lack of interest, disdain almost, as handknitted, but I shall send it all the same, and what I don't know won't harm me. I shall hope though, that it gets used, sometimes.

This is obviously not sewn but crocheted. I found the pattern in a magazine, it is meant to be a door curtain. Hanging off the heart bit are crocheted strands turning it into a posh, cottony version of one of those awful plastic strip curtains meant to keep out flies presumably. I don't like them at all, but thought this would be a nice alternative. Well, when I had done the two hearts bit, I rather liked the look of it as a shelf edging, so that is what it is. Never fancied the idea of a door curtain to be honest with you, much prefer it as it is. Crochet seems to be the big thing as well lately, certainly amongst PC-ers, some of you doing gorgeous things... isn't it addictive, but do you think that's true of all crafts? I know that sewing seems to be the big thing with me at the moment, but then in the evenings I happily get out my knitting or crochet instead... I like variety.

Normally by now I am doing my reviewing for the RNA, but the books seem to be rather late in being sent out this year, or at least neither myself nor a good friend who also does it have received that tantalising parcel of books waiting for us to read and either sing the praises of or pick to pieces! So, every day I listen out hopefully for the ring of the doorbell to announce the arrival of parcel postie... every day I am disappointed... such is life!
My own reading has been from the library this last week. The Meg Rossoff book, 'What I was', is one of those strange but good books, set in East Anglia, about a boy sent to his third boarding school on a part of the Suffolk coast that has, over the years, vanished into the sea. On the beach one day he discovers a hut, being lived in by a boy of his own age, called Finn. Finn claims to have no family, earns a meagre living helping in the local market, and lives in this cosy shack. It is very basic, but so described you almost wish you could live there, even with the ever present threat of the sea coming in your front door. But Finn isn't what he seems to be at all, as we find out near the end of the book.
The book by Julia Glass is one of those books I find myself reading sometimes, rather against my will in a way. I haven't really got thoroughly immersed in it, yet it compels me to carry one. I can't put it aside to return to the library unread, it somehow demands I read it, and properly, no skipping the odd page here and there. Well, maybe the odd paragraph, but read it I must. About two sisters, Clem and Louisa and their very different lives, and told alternately by each of them, and is essentially a story of sisterhood.
William Nicholson's 'The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life' I got because of the title and a review, which said it was about what goes on behind the facade of normal, everyday lives. Laura is the main character, and we are introduced to her on the morning that she receives a letter from an old lover in the mail. She is happy enough with her married life, her children, husband and little job she has, but this letter brings back memories of what it felt like to be younger, freer, and when life seemed to be, on reflection at least, more exciting. This book is next to be read.
These are some of the little fish in our pond, and what I want to know is.. how can they hear me rattling their food container from the conservatory door? Or hear my footsteps as I approach the pond from any direction? They always assume I am going to give them food, often they are disappointed if it's not the right time of the day, but still they live in hopes. But the rattle of the food container means their hopes are not in vain on that particular occasion, but how do they hear it?
And seeing as there are no garden photos this time, I thought I would end with a bit of poetry about a rose, written by the wonderful Dorothy Parker, and called One Perfect Rose.
"A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose.
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet -
One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;
'My fragile leaves' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no-one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose."

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Another splishy splashy day in Norfolk.

It's raining.... cooler than yesterday thank goodness, but a mixed blessing. Had the skies not clouded over late last night, then I would have spent an hour or so in the summerhouse. I gathered together snuggly afghan, snuggly little hottie (just in case), snuggly bear (for company) and a flask for hot chocolate, and was all set to go into the summerhouse and watch the promised beauty of the meteor showers. One of the best places around here was over near Ely at the bird place on Wickham Fen, but too far to go. And anyway, I have my own lovely place to sit and gaze at the stars.. if it's too cold then we just open the ceiling blinds in the conservatory and I lay back on the sofa and stargaze, though for this to be successful the glass roof needs to be clean, and it often isn't, what with jackdaws taking a liking to our chimneys, pigeons fighting said jackdaws, the occasional owl and all the other avian visitors we have. Still, the summerhouse is perfect too, but sadly, the weather wasn't. It was cloudy from early evening on, seemed to clear up over the Wash and away inland for a time as we could see the moon, but even that disappeared by about ten o'clock, and even though I kept looking out of the landing window I could see nothing at all. Such a shame, it happened the last time there was a good showing as well.
It's been the usual week for me of crafts and gardens and books. This gorgeous chilli coloured wool is called SUBLIME, and so it is in nature and name. Gorgeous and soft and fluffy, and it has just been used to make a pair of wonderfully cosy (well I thought so anyway) bedsocks, a present for a very dear old friend, whose birthday is today... so HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY OWN BIT OF SWISS CHEESE! Like many readers of my ramblings, she doesn't have a Google account and so can't leave comments, but I know she catches up with me every now and then. I have more SUBLIME wool to use up, for hottie covers and a scarf, but the only drawback to it is that it is a bit flyaway in nature.

Yesterday was a sewing day.. do any of you have those days when you just want to do one particular craft? I got out the sewing machine to do the long sides of the two cushions I was making, but then put it away and did the rest by hand.

The fabrics are Laura Ashley, circa 1980s, and courtesy of a friend who gave me loads and loads of it, in shades of pinks and greens and off-whites. I made a huge, double bed size and then some, throw, and it has been used in different houses over the last 20 years, until we had a change of bedroom colour. I knew it wasn't going to be used, and so spent last Saturday afternoon cutting it up. I made a toddler-bed sized throw, backed with pink and white gingham, for a friend's grand-daughter, a canopy which will be attached via rings and hooks to the corner of the summerhouse, and then two large poles, for very sunny and not breezy days. I also made two cushion covers for the outside dining furniture, this is one of them, and still have some pieces left over.

I then decided I wanted to do some embroidery and made this lavender-filled heart for a friend who has recently moved into a new place and liked it so much I decided I would have this one and will now make another today to replace it for the friend. I am having a Shaker type peg rail in the hall, with a narrow shelf above, and hanging off the pegs will be this heart, one of my little knitted bags hanging open and possibly something else too, and my collection of little fat jugs will sit on the shelf itself.

Two of my favourite authors are called MARGARET, Drabble and Foster respectively as shown. I only recently discovered that Margaret Drabble was the mother of gardener JOE SWIFT.. his father being CLIVE SWIFT, the actor who played the long-suffering husband of Hyacinth Bucket. I don't know why I was so surprised at these two bits of information, but I was! Anyway, I love their books, and these are the two I have re-read recently. Another favourite MARGARET, would be Margaret Mitchell, who wrote GONE WITH THE WIND. A struggle of a read sometimes, but with such a memorable last line, and a marvellous film of course.

I also love picture books, or to give them their grown up name, coffee table books. The Carol Klein is a recent purchase, I wanted to find a no-nonsense approach to growing organic veggies, and this was highly recommended by all my gardening friends. SHED CHIC is a fabulous book showing the inventiveness of people and exploring our strange love affair with the garden shed. Nothing humble or ordinary about the sheds in this book, and I have been inspired at last, to sort out our summerhouse. I haven't been happy with it for a while, it just seemed too much of a mish-mash and now I know it's because it is dual purpose and that really such a small place as that, only six by eight, needs to have a single, defined purpose. So over the coming autumn I shall gather together pieces of old linen, embroidery, needlepoint, chintzy, anything that looks cosy and homely. We will go to a favourite antiques centre, three floors of it in an old granary in Ely, and look for another Lloyd Loom chair to tart up, matching the one in the summerhouse already. Plus a small bamboo table perhaps. There will be carpet and a rug on the floor instead of a couple of cotton, cheap and cheerful rugs on the painted wooden floor. It's going to be a cosy resting place, where you sit and quietly drink your cuppa, listen to the cricket, read a book when on your own, or chat with whoever shares the space with you, all year round. So that will mean making a couple more snugglies of course! The other books is all about vernacular village buildings... I think now I should have been an architect, though I know, deep down, I'd have never got my head around the maths. But I love architecture, looking at houses, drawing them in my own clumsy way too. And drawing floor plans.. I've done that since I was a child. Still, looking at books of houses and architecture, though not the grand sort, satisfies me.

If I were to write a list of all the things I say I want to do, want to try... well, it would be a very long list indeed. If I were to cross off those things I have achieved, the list would still remain a very long list indeed. Patti Medaris Culea is an American soft doll maker of incredible skill and imagination. Don't take my word for it, if you have never heard of her she can be found at and here you will see the most fabulous dolls. On my list, is making one of these dolls.. There are places you can buy patterns, kits even, and I am just waiting for the day when I decide prevarication does not rule OK?

Of course, there has to be flowers... this is the largest of the accidental sunflowers that grew from dropped bird seed. I love it for it's brashness and brightness. Today, it is lifting the space by the holly trees, no sun shining on it, but with three of these beauties, it doesn't really matter.

I wonder why it is that this honeysuckle, by far producing the largest flowers of the many we have in the garden, and being the only pink one - the others being yellow and white - doesn't smell as strongly? Does it put all its efforts into producing big flowers and so has none left for smell. Anyway, it is growing up and around one of the holly trees...the statue is Justin.

And standing all alone and forlorn was this salmon pink gladioli. I am not a fan of the flowers particularly, but we have a small grouping of them by the birch tree..this one was several metres away by the holly, looking a bit silly on its own, so I picked it, along with the smallest of the freebie sunflowers and some foliage, to brighten up the conservatory on this grey, splishy splashy day in Norfolk.
So thank you all for dropping by again. I hope you are having a good week, that the weekend will be a good one for you, whatever your plans.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A little moan, some gratitude and the usual bits of this and that.

Did you know that Christmas was something like twenty weeks away? Did you want to know that? Does it feel you with dread, alarm, despondency? Dismay perhaps, at the way time slips past so quickly? Does it have you itching to make your cards, plan your celebrations, make endless gift lists and lists of 'things to do and the order in which to do them'? NO!! Maybe like me, the sight of a GMTV presenter standing amid fake snow, with a Father Christmas beside him, outside a certain Knightsbridge store for whom the run-up (or run-down, depending on your point of view) to Christmas has already begun, just has you gnashing your teeth, shouting GRR!! and switching off, mentally as well as physically. It's not that I am a Scrooge, just because we don't have family Christmases, just because we don't do the exchanging of gifts thing, doesn't mean to say I am immune to the magicality of it... I love fairy lights and have them up on a dresser all year round, and have strings of twinkly white lights hanging off holly trees, and on the summerhouse, and on bushes AT CHRISTMAS. I have one or two small Christmas trees, one of which is definitely non-traditional, but AT CHRISTMAS. I make cards, pies, sometimes a pudding, but AT CHRISTMAS. You get the message now don't you? I don't even want to think about it on a day when I step outside and the heat is so oppressive it's almost like someone throws a heated electric blanket on you the minute you go out. With luck, the forecasters will have got it right and there will be thunderstorms and rain this afternoon to break it up.

So that's the moan, now for the bit of gratitude. We hear a lot in the news of youngsters attacking one another, of teenagers attacking adults with knives and so on, gangs roaming around, vandalism, and stories of teenage binge drinkers - and according to a recent report the reason they drink is because they are bored... ah, diddums. Even with all the technological gizmos and more freedom to roam and get up to mischief than is good for them in some cases, they are bored. When you hear of the mayhem young children wreak, of the misery and damage they cause, and see groups of children walking around your own village, and then when you read in your village magazine, as I did, of the anti-social behaviour reports in your own village, you worry that it's all getting too close. Especially when you have been a bit smug and boasted of the low crime rate in this area generally. You read the report, dreading what you will find.... apparently some young children had been knocking on people's doors on one street, and running away. (Isn't this something children have been doing since time immemorial, and didn't they have a name for it back in the 40s and 50s?) Our modern day miscreants were made to face up to their anti-social behaviour, and were taken with their parents, to the people whose lives they had made a misery, and made to apologise. Will this stop them repeating? Time will tell. And the other report was of teenagers swearing loudly on one particular street. They too, were made to apologise for causing this breach of the peace. So whilst I am not condoning anti-social behaviour at all, I did feel thankful that this was all we had to put up with, and hope it remains so.

Onto lighter matters now, and crafts... this is a tweedy brownish cushion cover just completed, with ribbed back and basket stitch front, and fastening with old brown leather buttons, dating from the 70s, which I have had in my button jar since removing them from... something!!

And these are some crocheted squares I am making, a patchwork confection using these colours, different squares, a real sampler type afghan, a project for a friends' birthday or Christmas present, depending when I finish it... and it might not even be this year since I keep getting sidetracked. At the moment I am crocheting a holey bag, a round bag, and knitting a bag as well. Do I like making bags? No, whatever gave you that idea!!!

Books as ever, are making an appearance. I don't know if there are any fans of Alexander McCall Smith amongst you, but I like his writing. I don't like the 'Ladies' series, crime fiction isn't my thing and I have no patience with trying to pronounce the names in my head as I read. But I love his Sunday Philosophy Club series, and 44 Scotland Street. This 'CORDUROY MANSIONS' is another similar novel to those set in the block in Scotland Street, only this is in London and the original appeared as 100 episodes I think it was on the Telegraph website. It is just the same as Scotland Street, with a diverse set of characters living in this mansion block of flats, and about their lives. Anyway, this was a real snip of a bargain at a fiver from one of my regular mail order book catalogues, so I couldn't resist? 'A CHATEAU OF ONE'S OWN' by Sam Juneau is another of those books about people who leave their native country to go and find a better life/follow a dream in some foreign climes. This is about Sam, who is American, his wife Bud who is Irish, and how they leave their cramped and smelly apartment in New York when they buy an old, huge chateau which needs an awful lot of work. Well written and easy to read, which is just what I want on a Sunday afternoon.

I love anything to do with the seaside, grew up across the road from a beach in Lancashire for the first fifteen years of my life (barring the first couple of years or so) and now live just a few miles from it, from the famous beaches at Holkham where the Household Cavalry are visiting this week and taking their beautiful horses for a canter in the sea, and where Stephen Fry can be seen looking out to sea at the start of 'KINGDOM'. It is a fabulously beautiful and wild place, a definite place to visit for any of you planning a trip to Norfolk. So these three little books caught my eye, and although only small, are packed with history and photographs. Another bargain they were too!

At the moment Norfolk is suffering with plagues of wasps, having previously been invaded by swarms of ladybirds last week. We haven't seen either in large numbers, there are no more than usual, but we have been affected by the invasion of the Painted Lady butterflies. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing as many butterflies in the garden as we have this year. Not just the Painted Lady, who sit sunbathing on the gravel and the moment you set foot on it rise, en masse... well, that might be over-exaggerating somewhat, but certainly there are usually at least a dozen in one area. We also have several other varieties in abundance, the peacock, the comma, common blue, red admiral, cabbage white, common white and last week the fabulous brimstone butterfly, which is such an acidic yellow, with a red dot on his wings. Truly a flash of brightness as it darted around the garden, where there is an abundance of plants for them to feed on.. for a start, at least six different buddleias. Sadly, they never sit still long enough for me to photograph them... unlike this fluffy bumble bee, who was either too lazy, too hungry, or too greedy, to be disturbed by a mere mortal with a camera, from his feasting on the yellow buddleia.

And before I go, another boast about pickings from the garden. All our Sunday lunch came from the garden, apart from the roast chicken. But here are the last of my carrots - I sowed a couple more rows yesterday along with garlic, lettuce and giant Italian parsley - the first of our stringless flat green beans, and some of the potatoes from a large pot. As I have said before, they wouldn't win prizes, but they are mine own, grown from seed, nurtured, watered, kept free from weeds, covered with net to protect them from nasty flying creatures and grown at table top height for ease in the case of the carrots, and I am proud of them. They were so fresh and full of flavour, as all of you growers will know.

And I had to have a bouquet from the garden for the dinner table... chocolate cosmos, white cosmos, a crocosmia which is smaller than the LUCIFER and produces pretty orangey flowers, the red BISHOP dahlia, some effervescent foliage from a euonymus, the apricot-yellow buddleia, and a small sunflower. I love sunflowers, this is one of three which have grown all by themselves, no seed planting here, since they have obviously fallen out of the bird feeder and germinated. I am not complaining, but it has made me determined to try growing them again properly, myself, next year.

And so on this flowery note, I shall leave you for this week, with my usual thanks for dropping by, for your comments on this and my last posting, and for the new people who have joined the gang of followers. Thank you, all are welcome. Take care and enjoy your week, your weekend too.