Friday, January 27

Another baby! and new sewing space

I have been hanging on to write this post until our second expected grandchild arrived, which she did last Friday, just a few days late. She is our elder daughter's first, and is called Emmie, and weighed 7lbs 2 1/2oz , and was born in a birthing pool. So we now have two granddaughters, 13 months apart. I made more cot pockets - my daughter chose the fabric, and as they live by the sea it's very appropriate.

With a small piece of leftover fabric I also made a little quilted picture (one of the boats) and I also made a large drawstring toy bag out of different fabric, but stupidly neglected to take a pic of either! I think my brain was in baby's-coming-soon mode and even though I usually take pics of everything I make I just forgot. I will do so if I remember when I go and visit in a week or so.

Our now 13 month old granddaughter, Lily, got to the stage a little while ago of pulling her toys out of her cot pockets and taking great delight in throwing them onto the floor. Her daddy sent us a pic of her standing up in her cot, having done this, with a look on her face that said "It wasn't me, Daddy - honest!"

While we're on the subject of babies - I have now moved my sewing stuff to the smallest bedroom. What's that got to do with babies I hear you ask........ Well, when we lived in this house over 32 years ago, the room I am now sewing in was our eldest's bedroom (we didn't use the word nursery - is it just me or are more parents these days using that word? In my day only the upper classes had nurseries!). This is a much younger me drying him after a bath; in the corner where this blue table was my black Singer 201 now resides, in its table.

Note the Stork margarine pots used for top and tailing.....

And by the way I hadn't realized how incredibly useful it is to have your machine set into a table (if you're not using a free arm that is) which gives you that extra flat space. Still not enough to start making big quilts, but big enough for what I do.

I found that having my sewing machine etc downstairs in the sitting room didn't really work very well after all. I had thought before we came to this house that I just couldn't stand the thought of working upstairs, because in our old house I used to feel very cut off upstairs. However, I have found that here I can see what's going on in the neighbourhood even better than from the sitting room downstairs. This may be a small hamlet but even here stuff happens - occasionally!

Also, one of the problems of working in the main thoroughfare, as it were, is of having one's other half going in and out and asking me things and generally disturbing me!!!! Having my own little room out of the way upstairs is much better. And I don't have to clear up, tidy up, or whatever in order to keep up with Husband's standards........

I worked out that the table on the right would fit in nicely, with my Bernina on it, and that I could have the Singer to the left.

I did have a problem with storage though. Nothing that I had used in our old house had been suitable so I haunted our newest charity shop in Wantage which has lots of cheap furniture, and also another secondhand furniture place locally, for weeks to try and get something. In the end I got so frustrated that I couldn't organise all my sewing stuff properly that I decided that I'd have to buy something new, which I don't really like doing, partly due to expense and partly because I just don't like buying new when there is so much good secondhand stuff to be had. But in the end I just had to bite the bullet, and I went for these Ikea Kallax units. I wouldn't normally even consider flat packed furniture, as it's often so shoddy, but I'd had a look at some of these units that a friend across the road had, so I knew they were pretty sturdy and would suit my needs. You can choose whether to have drawers, doors, baskets or boxes in the gaps, or just leave them open. Husband had fun putting it together (at least I think he did....) with a little help from me. 

The blue spined Reader's Digest "Sewing and Knitting" book is one of the best sewing books I have come across - get it if you see it! Guess how much I paid? 20p. Yes, you read that right - 20p! that was once again in my local favourite charity shop, where all books are 20p, or, wait for it, £1 for 5! Excuse me a minute while I do some arithmetic...... hang on, 5 x 20p = £1. Must have a word with the staff.

So, this tiny room works well as my sewing room, but I still needed some extra table space for cutting out. Thinks - "There's some space in our bedroom at the end of the bed, and if I were to have a gateleg table there, I could have it against the wall and have one flap out when I need it". So, charity shop came up trumps again - quickly this time -  with this for £15 (the sun was shining well and truly in when I took the photo) so that's my cutting out space. Maybe not as big as I'd like ideally, but you can't have everything. 

I am always interested to see other people's workspaces so I hope this has been an interesting tour for you, dear reader. 

The next post will be about my winter biking. And on the reading front, I have just got to read this book, Knit 1 Bike 1, written by Janet Renouf-Miller, about her "woolly cycle journey around Scotland" on her Brompton bike. I hope to get some hints on how I might combine sewing with cycling!!

Till then


Sunday, November 20

Coffeeneuring #7 - at White Horse Hill

Today's was another Coffee without Walls trip. It almost felt like cheating to squeeze 5, 6 and 7 in on the last 3 days (it wasn't though!) but I knew that to feel I'd really met the Coffeeneuring challenge there was only one place to cycle for #7, and that was White Horse Hill, near Uffington. The weather forecast was rather grim and there was a conversation in my head between me and my weaker side which basically went

"Do I really need to cycle all the way up there?"


"But surely there's somewhere else I could cycle which would be equally valid but which wouldn't involve all that climbing?"

"Don't be such a woos - on yer bike to White Horse Hill!"

So I did. I've never actually cycled up there before. I took a route which meant less of the very windy and narrow B road that passes by the hill, but which meant more elevation.

Once up there (and I confess to having had to push up the final steep road to the Hill) I sat in the car park and ate my provisions and drank tea from a flask.

More of the soda bread muffins, peanut butter on the left and apple jam on the right

Not much demand for the one picnic bench today
 When I make tea at home, though I say it myself, it is excellent (Yorkshire Hard Water loose leaf) but poured into a flask and drunk an hour or so later it is yuck! However it was hot and vaguely tea-like so I drank most of it.

The weather was indeed grim but at least the rain had cleared off to the east by then. It was grey, cold and quite windy.  

You can just make out the Horse in the distance if you squint....

This pic is looking north to Faringdon Folly. 

I got somebody to take this pic later when I cycled from the car park up onto the actual hill.

After cycling back down I was going to just pootle off home but by then I felt up for a bit more of a ride, so I headed off towards Shrivenham, and ended up doing about 21 miles. It was very tough going and I was very glad to get home, but these last three rides have made me realize that cycling can be very enjoyable even in this sort of weather! Better than being in a tin box on wheels!

And now, I shall submit my 7 rides to the appropriate person and get my badge, shown here, which I shall proudly stitch to my jacket!


Saturday, November 19

Coffeeneuring #6

The end date of the Coffeeneuring Challenge 2016 is midnight tomorrow, Sunday 20th November. It was creeping up on me and I had almost given up, thinking I hadn't got time to complete the 7 rides necessary. However, when I  thought about it I realized I could just do it, even though it meant doing 3 in a row - allowed by the rules, as it would be 5 and 6 this week and then the 7th tomorrow i.e. next week!

Yesterday's, #5, was at the Vale and Downland Museum in Wantage. Today's was again in Wantage but different, as this was "Coffee without Walls" i.e. not in a cafe. There's a bit of a temptation when out cycling to indulge in something full of calories and sugar, but today I thought - time to make something equally delicious but not so sugary, to take with me, so in the morning I made these (dead easy) spelt flour soda bread muffins, from a recipe that I originally got from Woman's Hour.

Then I thought - Youngest Son and girlfriend might like some of these so I did my long route into Wantage, met him outside the pub where he'd gone to watch football to hand some over, then cycled off to do some shopping. 

Soda Bread Muffins

Recently there has been a lot of talk about take away cups not being recyclable, which is awful given how many millions get used once and then thrown away, and so I bought one of the re-usable ones that Waitrose sell for £3 and can now enjoy, guilt-free, their free drinks. I just have to remember to take it with me.....

After shopping, I got my free coffee, wedged it in my rack bag and then walked slowly across the market place to the parish church, hoping the contents wouldn't spill...... which they did a bit but nothing disastrous.

Surely they could make the cups so that you can close off the top completely - like babies' ones do?

I sat on the bench eating my cheese filled soda bread muffin (yes it is in the middle of the muffin even though it looks as if the muffin is just sitting on top!) and drinking my coffee.

This is the view from the bench. It's a great place to people watch as lots of people walk past on this path.

I took this pic of the cobbles and stuck my booted foot in as well, which was a good job as I later realized I hadn't taken the pic of my bike as proof that I'd cycled. Would I go around with those home made green things round my ankles if I wasn't cycling? (I think my children might say - "yes Mother, you would......")

This is on my route home, looking back the way I've come, where the old road is forded by Letcombe Brook.

And there's my bike!!

I want to try and keep up the cycling this winter and this Coffeeneuring Challenge has definitely helped to make me get out on my bike. I admit I won't cycle when there's ice on the roads, but any other kind of bad weather is bearable and even enjoyable as long as you've got the right clothing. You know what they say - there's no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothing.

A round trip of just over 14 miles.

Tomorrow, and #7 - awful weather is forecast! Will I eat my words.....