Cycling and walking

Monday, December 11

Darning, more darning, and hooks and eyes

I have a regular customer for whom I have done a lot of mending. When she comes to collect one job she usually brings another, and last time she brought another cardigan of her husband's (cashmere) for me to darn a hole in the sleeve. I will show you my darn, and then another darn, which is SO good that I hadn't even realized it was there!

This is the front of the hole -

This is the back - 

This is my darn - 

According to my book on mending - 

- my darn is a stocking darn. Basically it's probably the sort of darn most people would think of, where you just weave over the hole. It is the best I can do at the moment although I'd like to improve, so if you have any woollies I can darn, send them my way!

Then, when I was looking for my darn to photograph it, I found this superb one in the same sleeve.
Here's the front - 

and the back - 

It is amazing! Not surprising I missed it! When my customer collects the cardigan I shall ask her who did it - I hope she can remember. She has always been happy with my work so I don't think she will mind that my darn is nothing like as invisible as this other one.

I have looked at the different types of darn in my book but haven't managed to work out what type it is. 

Hooks and eyes

The same customer asked me to replace the hook and eye on a skirt, which is probably wool (no label inside to tell me) and certainly not mass market, although I've looked up the name and can't find anything about it.

This is the waistband after I'd removed the old hook, which was bent, probably because it was the wrong size and not strong enough, and what looked as if it was meant to be a handmade bar, but wasn't really doing anything.... As you can see, the two sides of the waistband are not level. The zip has also been sewn so high that to then pull the sides closer together to do up a hook and eye is very difficult. 

I was also surprised that the pattern matching at the back was not done properly! It matches horizontally but not vertically. You'd have been marked down in "O" - Level needlework (my only qualification!) for that! Not to mention the Great British Sewing Bee! (I wonder if that's coming back?)

Then I went off at a tangent on the subject of hooks and eyes, and hooks and bars, and hooks and hand sewn bars, and which you use where, but I rather like going off at a tangent as I always learn something new. My tangent got me looking at the collection of hooks and eyes etc that I have in an old ice cream box in my sewing room. I have collected this lot over the years - some of it was probably inherited from my mum and grandma, and some has come with sewing machines I have bought. In my lifetime of sewing I hadn't really taken in the fact that there are such a variety of sizes of hooks and eyes. These below are size 1 and 2, in black and silver. There are "eyes" with most of the hooks, and "bars" on the left. Incidentally, I love the old Newey's artwork in the card at the bottom. I must not go off at a tangent trying to date them.....

Or go off at another tangent and look up "japanning" - it's some sort of finish but what exactly I don't know. "Extra japanned" must be even better! More japanning anyone? Three different styles of Newey's art work here - 

As far as I can remember I have always made my own hand sewn bar, but I have learnt that you should use a metal eye or bar when there is likely to be more pull on it. That makes sense.You use a bar with an overlapped zip, and an eye where one side butts up against the other. The eye should very slightly overlap the edge so that the hook can hook into it. So now I know.

It was hard to do a good job on the skirt because of the zip being sewn too high and the two sides not lining up. I had to sew part of the eye to the zip itself rather than to the skirt. I sewed on a black hook and then thought - ah, I haven't got a black eye in the right size to go with it, silly me! But the silver eye is not that noticeable on the other side. The zip cannot come right up to the top now but I had to do it like that in order to sew the hook and eye on in the right position. Here it is anyway, not perfect but it will do the job for some time to come -  

Believe me it was impossible to do it any better!

What I think is the shame is that the zip and the waistband weren't done properly in the first place on what was probably an expensive skirt. Not to mention the bad pattern matching. But never mind! One wouldn't want to discard the skirt for these reasons.

There was a lot more to these two jobs than I thought when I was given them!

Sunday, November 19

To the Thames again, for the last Coffeeneuring trip, #7

It wasn't until the morning of the day of this trip that my plans for it were finalised. But that was OK -  plans are useful but you don't have to stick to them!

Going along with my watery theme, I had thought about cycling to the Thames at Abingdon, but knew that the scenic route I would take would make it just a tad on the long side for these short days, so I looked at the map and decided instead to aim for Culham Lock, a few miles south of Abingdon. The route was to be through West Hanney and Steventon - but as I wasn't taking a flask this time - where would I get coffee? Problem! So I hatched a better plan on the morning of the day itself, and decided to change the route entirely, meaning I could have coffee with Daughter No 2, and Granddaughter No 1, at The Grocer Chef, Ardington's village shop and cafe, en route.

The forecast was for cold but sunny, and it certainly was both! I wore the same multitude of layers that I did for the previous chilly ride, but this time wore my warmest gloves - Pearl Izumi Elite. At 9.15 a.m. when I left it was 2 degrees C, and I must admit that even with these good gloves on, the ends of my fingers were chilly for those first seven miles or so to the cafe.

So here we are at Ardington -

I had an Americano (9/10 on my coffee grading scale - would have been 10 but the mug could have been a bit fuller!!). Granddaughter was offered a colouring book and box of pens and crayons, which she loved! I drew a few cats.....

Official Coffeeneuring patch from last year

After this D and GD went to the playground, and I pedalled off, but I went in the wrong direction, and on cycling back GD saw me and called out "Mandma!" (rhymes with Grandma) so I stopped and walked with them for a bit. As I said in my last post, I always get in a muddle round this area east of Wantage, but eventually my navigational skills improved and got me onto NCN Route 5. Near East Hendred I explored a bridleway that I had often noticed from the car, meaning that I only had to cross the busy A417 instead of travelling on it. I love finding these little safer shortcuts.

I knew that this ride wasn't going to be the most scenic of routes, but I wanted to explore some of the shared cycle/pedestrian paths that connect to Didcot, perhaps thinking of one day taking my bike on the train from there. I have previously cycled to Didcot using Route 5 all the way, but I thought it must be possible to shorten the distance by using these other shared use paths from the Milton interchange. I wasn't intending to cycle right into Didcot today, but was aiming to go across the Milton interchange north to Milton itself, and then on to Sutton Courtenay and Culham Lock. 

My next stop was for lunch here, at the newly built Great Western Park in Didcot, with the power station in the background, and the noise of heavy traffic just near that fence -

However, like the plonker I am, I'd already gone wrong...... I'd missed wherever the crossing was to  the Milton road. But hey ho, I'll find it another day! That meant that I did have to cycle on nearly into Didcot to find the path, but it also meant that I discovered that cycling against the traffic - fast cars and heavy lorries - albeit on a good and wide shared use path, is not at all pleasant, and I could see why people might not want to do it. In fact, come to think of it, when travelling this way by car, we don't see that many cyclists on this path, going in either direction.

Another advantage of having missed my crossing to the Milton road was that I did cycle past this highly salubrious watery place! -

Didcot Sewage Treatment Works

Route 5 (horribly littered here, sadly) takes you past here, and you can certainly smell it before you see it! Recently Husband and I had walked past, and a party of schoolchildren were just going in, no doubt for an educational tour, and I actually wished I could go with them! I think we should all know what happens to our, you know, pooh..... just like we should all know what happens to the rubbish we put in our bins. That's another thing I'd like to do - have a trip round a waste collection/recycling site.

All these extra miles meant I was beginning to think I might not have time to actually get to Culham Lock, but fortunately it wasn't much further. Route 5 takes you round the back of the power station and is actually a very pleasant path to ride, and a good surface too.  It takes you into Sutton Courtenay, and from there it was only a mile or so to the lock at Culham. Once I got there I wished I had time to just sit on one of the benches by the river and watch it go by, but time was getting on and although I had lights, I did want to get back home before it got properly dark.

Looking east along Culham Cut

But I did have time to laugh at this, in the garden of what I assume is the lock keeper's house. I wish the photo was better, but I think you'll get the gist when you hear my confession about other people's washing lines -

I am slightly obsessed with how people hang their washing out. I do it very tidily and logically (I like to think!) and I am always looking at how other people do it. I mean, look at the way those pants and socks are hung up so neatly! Personally I always hang pants up sideways as I think the billow factor is increased by doing that, but maybe this washing hanger-upper (the lock-keeper perhaps?) likes the more symetrical look of hanging them up this way. Regarding the socks - peg up by the toes or the tops? My mum used to peg them up by the tops, on the line between the apple trees in our garden, until one day I put some socks on and felt something wriggling around my toes; it was an earwig, which had dropped into the sock from the trees...... I'm sure I remain psychologically damaged by that experience.  I think she did it by the toes after that. I did, too, for years, but then decided I like the toes to flap around, so I usually hang them up by the tops, and as our line is not between trees, I don't have earwigs dropping in to worry about. Just hundreds of sparrows pooping on my sheets!!!!

For some reason that reminds me of a line from "Under Milk Wood", where one of the characters, not wanting to have a lodger if I remember rightly, screams (imagine Welsh accent here please) -

"He'll sleep in my sheets!!!!"

I also like looking at what people have actually got on their lines, not in a perverted way - !! - but more in a "Ooh I like that!" sort of way. Not long ago I walked along a local canal path, past the back of somebody's garden, and looked at the washing hanging on the line, and admired the Little Person's lovely clothes hanging neatly on it. I have often thought that I'd love to go round the world, on a bike of course, taking photos of nothing but washing on lines, and write a book about it. But I would need something better than Husband's old smartphone.....

Anyway, I digress.

I did then pootle off towards Culham itself, but decided it would be wiser to just turn round and go home now, but on stopping to turn round I was stopped in my tracks by this -

It's a Little Free Library. Apparently they are all over the world - little boxes of books that you can borrow, or I think, take away and replace with another. I had heard of these a long time ago but I had never seen one, and was stopped in my tracks because someone in the US had mentioned one recently in a Coffeeneuring post, which made me feel very connected to a fellow Coffeeneur! I have also seen a telephone box full of books to borrow - what good ideas!

A little more digression, on the subject of tea. When I am at home, the best cup of tea is my breakfast one. I also have one in the afternoon, and possibly one in the evening, but they never taste as good as that first one of the day. One of the best cups of tea I've ever had was after the birth of child number three (Daughter in pics above), having been "off" tea all through the pregnancy. Once she had popped out it seemed as if magically all those hormones that had been saying "Tea is horrible!"" were now shouting "Tea is the best drink on earth!!!". And that's how it always is in the afternoon of a bike ride - I crave TEA TEA TEA. But the only place I might have got one was shut, so I just had to put my head down and keep going for the next 13 miles or so, with only the thought of a cup of tea at home to keep me going.

The extra miles earlier in the day were beginning to tell, and the ride home was a bit of a slog, as much a mental challenge as a physical one. I had intended the ride to be perhaps 30 or so miles but it was 1/2 mile short of 40 in the end. I found myself thinking -

"Three miles or so to the main road, over there, two or three miles to the next village, then a mile to the main road, then up there, turn left, then a nearly two mile slog, then only one more (slight) hill and I'm home......Put your head down and keep pedalling."

And I did.

And so ends the very enjoyable Coffeeneuring challenge for another year. But there is an "Errandonneuring" one next year I believe.....

Wednesday, November 15

A bike ride on a cold day, and Coffeeneuring (or rather Teaneuring) #6

If you're coming across this post without having heard of coffeeneuring, then you can read about it here on the Chasing Mailboxes blog (a blog about cycling and running). But basically it's about riding your bike to 7 different places in about the same number of weeks. You can get your coffee (other drinks are allowed) at a cafe, or take/brew your own outside, which comes under the Coffee without Walls bit of the challenge. There are other rules, but not too many. Those taking part can post their rides to a Facebook group, either as they go or all in one post at the end of the challenge.

This post is about my sixth ride, so I have one more to go. I chose a theme this year, and that was to visit watery places...... ponds, rivers, and who knows what connection my last one will have to water! Watch this space.....

I do and try and pick days where the forecast is reasonable, but even so the rides have to fit in around other activities, such as paid sewing jobs. And getting Husband's tea. The forecast for this Sunday trip was sunny but cold,  about 7 degrees C, but combined with the wind chill factor it would be about 2 degrees. They say that for outdoor activities there's no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothing, so I put on -

On top

Merino wool base layer
Cotton shirt
Cotton jumper
Home made wool zip-up thing
Fleece lined Buff
Vulpine Primaloft cycling jacket (one of my few bits of  cycling-specific clothing, and well worth the expense)
Gloves (not my REALLY  wintery ones)

On the bottom

Thick cotton tights, under Altura Women's Cruisers (really pleased I bought these last winter)
Above tucked into cotton socks

The plan was to cycle to East Lockinge, about 7 miles away, to a very pretty part of the river where it forms a pond, by a public footpath. Then I would go on to Youngest Son's to pay a surprise visit and deliver some of the muffins I'd made in the morning.

For some reason, I always get in a muddle with the villages and roads on this side of Wantage, so had taken a map with me, just in case I got lost. After one wrong turn (I'm happy to take wrong turns when out cycling though!) I vaguely followed the river back the other way and found my spot. But for the second time in this coffeeneuring season, I arrived to find a dry river bed -

No water in the pond

As you can see there is water in the river beyond, but none here in the pond. There seems to be a blockage stopping the water getting into the pond, but according to a dog walker I chatted to, the real reason is lack of rainfall. He told me that the water levels here on the local estate are 10% of what they should be, and that households on this private water system have been asked to conserve water. Rather disappointing too is the fact that the pond has been fenced off - you used to be able to get down into it.

This was what I took with me to eat and drink -

Chocolate cranberry muffin

And this is where I most definitely thought -

"What this bike needs - is somewhere to put one's refreshments!"

A folding table to attach to the rack perhaps....... hmmmmm, food for thought!

A lovely place to walk, and drink tea.

Then it was on to Grove, a few miles away, to Youngest Son's, who was in, with his girlfriend, so I didn't have to leave the muffins hanging on the door handle. I stopped for a while, had a look at his new router, (I'm fascinated by tools!) then cycled home. By then it was getting dim so I needed my lights  - Busch and Muller dynamo, which came with the bike.  It's really useful to have the lights there all the time, and not to have to rely on batteries.

I couldn't believe how much traffic there was on this sunny Sunday -

"Why aren't people out on bikes?" I asked myself!!!

I frequently ask myself this. I always feel like shouting to drivers -

"It's great on a bike! Try it, you might find you like it!"

This ride was about 18 miles. Another cycling blogger writes here about the delights of one particular ride she had. Some rides are undoubtedly more enjoyable than others, and this one was one of those.  As I said to Husband recently on my return home from a shopping trip by bike - "I LOVE cycling!" But even when I've got hungry, tired, wet, lost or it's got worryingly dim and I haven't had lights, I can honestly say -

"Even a bad ride's a good one!"