Saturday, November 28

This Month I have been Mostly doing.... Mending, and a bit of altering

This is actually rather a long post. If you like reading about mending read on, if not, better go and do something else.....

First there were the cardigans, which was the altering bit. I bought two, the same style, one pink and one blue, in a charity shop for £1 each. This was the blue one -

Both cardigans are in very good condition. I'm definitely a wool person and if I was buying new (or knitting it myself) I'd want more wool than this, preferably 100%, but for £1...... Enough to keep me warm - ish. I would guess that it is probably 80s or 90s, judging from the label. It's certainly a long time since I saw a Littlewoods shop.

The problem with them was that the neckline was quite high, and when I wore them the top edge made my neck itch. How to remedy this? First I got a strip of old t-shirt and used it to line the inside of the ribbed section, but unfortunately I could still feel it scratching me right on the top edge. I thought about doing it again and making the jersey go slightly over the top, but I thought that might look daft. Dare I do some chopping? Well, if I wanted to wear these cardigans then that was the only answer. So I cut off the top ribbed bit, but before I did that I sewed all round, through the stitches, just below where I intended to cut, to stop (hopefully) the stitches running.

Then I did blanket stitch all round, and Bob's your uncle, one warm wearable cardigan for the winter!

(I just put that old cotton reel in for interest. It's an old make I've never heard of. I've got quite a lot of old reels of cotton - some I use for tacking and some I dare to use in the machine, despite some people saying that you shouldn't use old thread in your sewing machine.) Anyway, this is the finished cardigan. The neckline is a bit wavy but I don't think that matters.

And this is the pink one. (Husband loves this colour on me but hates the blue one!) When I was little I would never have worn pink, thinking it was too girly girly, but when I got to about 20 I decided I liked certain shades of pink and that they suited me, and now it's one of my favourite colours. 

Now on to a bit of mending for a customer. This particular one is quite a regular - I have done a lot of mending for her. The sort of person that one might describe as "well to do".  What I like about a lot of such people is that they appreciate good clothes and household linen and get it mended when it needs it. I darned her husband's wool cardigan, which I think she said he "wears round the house now". 

Here's the major hole before darning. Incidentally I use embroidery thread where a fine thread is called for, because I don't know whether VERY fine mending wool exists, e.g. suitable for merino wool garments. I have not found any. One of my other customers has a box choc a block full of really good quality mending wool, which she gives me to use for her mending, and none of it is fine enough to use for this sort of garment.

And after mending.

Another of the many holes....(It really is the same cardigan! I don't know why the colour is not accurate here) -

And after

And now on to trousers for the same lady's husband. These were a pair of chinos with some minor wear and tear type of holes. I use woven cotton iron-on interfacing for this sort of repair - I iron it onto the back of the hole/rip and then stitch over it on the right side, in this case just using a straight stitch.

Again the colour's not very accurate -

And now, my piece de resistance...... (apologies here to any French readers for the lack of accents. It might be very offensive, just as missing apostrophes are to moi! And Liz Truss. And John Humphries. I know there should be two in there but I have yet to learn how to put them in on the computer. I have the same problem with umlauts when using German words occasionally to my son in Germany) -


These jeans are at least 5 years old. This first photo shows some mends I did, ooh, maybe a couple of years ago. Recently I had begun to get worried that the jeans were getting so thin in places that if I wasn't careful I would be walking around one day unintentionally revealing what was underneath.....and given that some of the most worn bits were around the backside, well, that doesn't bare thinking about. I decided that they had had it, and were only fit for cutting up and making into something else, but then I thought about how much I liked these jeans, and surely if I did quite a LOT more patching and stitching.......

By the way I like the idea that a garment isn't finished when it's finished, if you get my meaning, but that it continues in its development after this, when someone mends it, or alters it. I think I read that on Tom of Holland's blog (if you want to see some amazing mending, go there). So I am continuing the development of my jeans, as it were.

Detail of one of those original mends.

Another detail

 This is what my jeans look like now - and I'd just like to add that the other day, in a shop, the assistant was very complimentary about them and when I said I had just finished mending them, she said she thought I'd bought them like it!

Again I used embroidery threads, usually two strands. Fortunately I have a big stash of them, some bought and some acquired from I can't remember where!

This pic shows the inside after I had ironed on lots of the aforementioned interfacing over the thin bits. My intention at this stage was to do lots of stitching over the worn bits. 

Here I have done some stitching, on top of the denim, and below on the dark blue patch, which I had machined on. This patched bit is along the lines of Japanese boro mending - if you haven't come across this type of mending then have a google. I love the look of it, especially with all the indigo fabrics they use. Oh, another thing to mention is that I undid the inside leg seams to make all this mending much easier.

In the pic below, you can see hand stitching (red, yellow etc.), under the patches. And a non-patched stitched pink rectangle. I have to admit that I had to give up on the idea of close hand stitching (for strength) all over every thin bit - it was taking ages and much as I loved doing it I wanted  to be able to wear these jeans in the not TOO distant future. So I added the patches (bits of old shirt), and then did hand stitching on top - with the patches strengthening the fabric the stitching didn't need to be quite so close together. 

Detail of pink bit.

And here is the back of the jeans. The two patches to the left I hemmed first, but the one on the right I didn't - it's got raw edges. In images on the web the boro seems to have raw edges (I would love to see some in real life). I do like raw edges and wish I'd done all the patches like this but I only thought of it halfway through. Of course it may be that the raw edges will fray too much when washed but we'll see.

And finally, blanket and running stitch round the pocket, and random darning behind it.

I really have been on a roll with the mending lately, so much so that when I finished the jeans I was looking round for something else to mend, and here it was - oven gloves! I should say that these are actually CLEAN - fresh off the washing line in fact, just stained. I do have a talent for getting stains out of things (another post perhaps!) but really I don't think stains on oven gloves matter. 

I had already mended these 4 years ago (yes 4!), using another pair - hence the hand stitching round the edge. I was going to patch them but then as I was standing at the kitchen table waiting for something to cook (it was tea time) I looked at a cone of very thick cotton thread that happened to be there amongst my sewing stuff (I do have a sewing room but I tend to do a lot in the kitchen too) and thought "Ah! some weaving perhaps!"

You can see that one might burn one's fingers......

So, weave away I did.

Both ends done.

One last pic. This is my husband's favourite jumper, which I bought him in a charity shop. It has at least 6 darns - this is the latest one. This is very visible mending; fortunately he doesn't mind. In fact I think he's quite proud of my darning......

Is that an ending to my mending? Well, just for a while.Our own mending alone (apart from what I do for other people) is never ending really, but I don't mind, because I really enjoy both the doing of it, and the satisfaction that comes of making something usable or wearable again.

And so to bed, but first a question - have you mended anything lately?? Or got something tucked away waiting to be mended??!!


Monday, November 9

Aldi cycle clothing review

I think it was Sue over at Our Quiet Life in Suffolk who recently mentioned that there is going to be a programme on channel 4 on Monday about Aldi (Dispatches, 8 pm). I'll be watching it!

In my post here Bike Ride into Cotswolds I wore a Dare2be fluorescent yellow windproof/light waterproof. It had cost £25 in Halford's back in the summer, but not long after that Cotswold ride I noticed that the seams were pulling apart in several places, basically because the seam allowance was too narrow. I needed to return it for a refund or possibly exchange, depending on what alternatives they'd got. Our nearest Halfords branches are unfortunately 18 miles away in Oxford, or 12 miles away in Swindon. Oxford is slightly easier for me to get to - a nicer pre-bus bike ride of 5 1/2 miles and then a 40 minute bus ride, and where Halfords is there is also a Hobbycraft, which I like having a snoop round occasionally, Decathlon (well worth having a look in for sports stuff if you've never been there), and various other shops.

So - off the bus in Oxford and then I remember that Aldi is close by, so in I go for a snoop round here as well, because I have learnt over the past year or so, like thousands of other people, that Aldi and Lidl are definitely worth snooping round!! Well, I had forgotten that it was Thursday (their special sale day) and that this particular Thursday was a cycle clothing event. I had a really good softshell (£20, and they had cheaper ones at about £14 if I remember rightly) that I'd bought there and it made sense to see what they had before going to Halford's. I'm glad I did!!

I bought this, to replace my £25 Dare2be one, for £20.

It is heavier than the Dare2be one, but is still lightweight, has many more features and is far better made, so I decided it would be a good replacement for my falling apart one. This one has:

     Lots more reflective strips
     A small zipped front pocket
     Zipped bits under the arms for ventilation
     Zipped pocket across the back
     Elasticated and Velcroed cuffs (the other one only had elastic)
     Soft lining to collar

It's also longer, so keeps a larger area dry.

Then I wandered round the shop to another aisle of clothing, and found this, for £10 (yes you read that right!):

This was actually a better replacement for the Dare2be one in terms of weight and size and when I'd wear it (spring/summer/autumn) and was light enough to roll up and put in a rucksack or panniers easily.  It has a rear pocket, and also the same elasticated and Velcroed cuffs that the yellow one has. Plus I like the colour.....

So I ummed and ahhed........

Buy one or the other? Which one? Both would be very useful at different times.

Buy both and pay £5 over the £25 I'd get refunded on the Dare2be one?

As you can see I bought both. Regarding size, they only had one of each coat left and they were both 12-14, which would normally be a bit big for me as in normal clothing I am 8 - 10, but in fact the fit is just right. (I have since read that this clothing does tend to come up small). Big enough to get a reasonable amount of clothing underneath without being too big and baggy. Both garments are FAR better made than the Dare2be one.

I have put them both to the test. I wore the purple one a few weeks ago on a 20 miles or so ride, when the weather was cooler than it is now, and it kept me at a nice temperature with the three layers I had on underneath. I wasn't ever cold and didn't get too warm either.

I have worn the yellow one this week in the rain, which was continuous that afternoon, plus it was quite windy too so the rain was blowing sideways onto me as well as falling down onto me! Underneath the coat I was completely dry. I did get warm (but not sweaty) but to be honest I think that you get warm in any waterproof (though I have never tested out anything that claims to be really breathable), AND - the weather was unseasonably mild.

I like the look of both jackets and for £25 for the two - well! 

You can find lots of reviews of Aldi cycle clothing (Crane is the brand name by the way) many of which are positive. I would definitely recommend signing up for the weekly newsletters from both Aldi and Lidl, because then you know what's coming up in these special sales. I think you probably need to get there early in the morning if you want something badly - I got there towards mid-day and a lot of the sizes had gone by then. Another bargain they had recently was a Garmin Edge 500 for £80 - I paid that for my Edge 200 last year. I have also seen some really good outdoor walking gear there.

Hope that's useful! And if you're interested, don't forget Dispatches, Monday at 8 pm on Channel 4.

Bye for now


Tuesday, November 3

More cot pockets

These cot pockets, with knitted bunnies and Peter Rabbit, are awaiting the occupant-to-be of this cot, due about a week before Christmas. However I suspect they will have a longer wait......I was late with all 4 of mine, the mummy-to-be in question (our number 3 offspring) being the tardiest arrival at 15 days late. 

I remember the midwife at our local hospital where she was born washing off the placenta under the tap, examining it, and telling us that there were white spots on it, which apparently is a sign of its deterioration. Daughter was fine though. The other 3 were 11 days late (no.1, boy, 8 lb 12 oz), 6 days late (no.2, girl), and 10 days late (no. 4, boy, 8 lb 15 1/2 oz) ). Number 2 would probably have been later, but they said I was "small for dates" and so wouldn't let me go any longer, and broke my waters to start me off. The doctor apologised for all the worry they had given us when she weighed in at 7 lb 4 1/4 oz. One different doctor had been correct when he said "this baby's deceptive, it's just low down".  You don't forget this sort of stuff!

Anyway, enough of that...

Daughter chose this lovely grey fabric. I actually did yellow stitching round the outside and outlined one of the stars on each pocket in the same colour. The lighting in the picture isn't very good so you can't really see the fabric at its best. I've got a bit left over and am wondering what to make with that. 

Sanderson wallpaper in the background just in case you were wondering! 

Another baby - Alice Margaret, was born to my nephew and his wife in California (don't they get about nowadays. My eldest is in Germany, another nephew is in Singapore) in September. I started off thinking that maybe I'd make more of a drawstring bag, which could be hung on the cot now and could be used as a bag by Alice when she is a bit older, but it turned out as a single cot pocket in the end.

The initial idea I had was to stitch together pieces of white and cream cotton from my collection, and then embroider the name on it in red. The picture below was taken after I had stitched together several pieces in a long line, and then cut them, turned them round, and re-stitched them together to form a square.

I think I cut and re-stitched again before I finally ended up with this piece. I then ironed woven cotton interfacing onto the back.  Incidentally the white pieces with the embroidered strip were left over from making my wedding dress in 1981. It was Swiss cotton, bought from Liberty's at about £8 a yard. I seem to remember the total cost, including buttons and zip, came to £64. I think I've still got the till receipt somewhere!

I embroidered the name onto a piece of calico. I love the combination of red on cream. I was at the Festival of Quilts a few years ago (my sister Kate Dowty is a quilter) and remember seeing some beautiful red on cream embroidery done by an Indian lady. There was a name for the style but I can't remember it.

I then did running stitch round the edge of each rectangle. The fabric where I did the red stitching was osnaburg, a favourite fabric of mine. It's a rough cotton, quite loosely woven. I got it at that same Festival of Quilts from The Cotton Patch.

For the back of the pocket I used a thickish cotton, and interlined it with some sheeting to give a bit more body, and for the lining and the binding at the sides I used calico. The pocket has a pleat at each side so there's lots of room for toys and books. The ties are made from cotton twill tape.

It is now winging its way to California.

I really enjoyed doing this patchwork quilting of sorts - this random joining up of scraps and then chopping and joining and chopping and joining again  to make something bigger, and then the hand stitching on top. I'd love to make a whole garment in this way. But for now I think I will definitely be making more of these cot pockets, and have got one or two more baby ideas up my sleeve.

[BTW, I wanted the text aligned to the left, but despite it doing so as I write and save, when I preview the post the text is centred. Annoying!]

That's all for now.


Friday, October 30

Two weeks and 4 days (at least) to go mouldy!

I couldn't resist posting about this loaf of bread......

We usually eat Vogel's bread, and the occasional spelt loaf either made by me or bought at the local market, but one day nearly 3 weeks ago we had run out. On our way home from a day out there was nowhere close by that sold Vogel's so I had to buy this one from the Co-op. What they had left was all much of a muchness. Husband had sandwiches made from it in his lunch box for a couple of days, and I tried it once for my lunch. That was enough! It was yuck - didn't taste of much at all and the texture was horrible. There was about 3/4 of the loaf left but it really was so awful that I just couldn't bear to eat any more once we'd got some more Vogel's. So I got it out of the bread bin and, er, left it out in the kitchen, while deciding what to do with it........ No smell of mould hit me so I admit it continued to get left.

Yesterday, as I still hadn't noticed any smell of mould coming from it, I had a look to see if there was any.

This was all there was after 2 weeks and 4 days AT LEAST! After all, who knows when it was made!

The mould is hard to spot isn't it?!! If I'd left the Vogel's bread for that long it would have been one big heap of mould.

Then I read the ingredients, as obviously stuff had been added to prevent it going mouldy too quickly.

A lot of sliced bread has the same rubbish in it. I don't actually know much about the preservative Calcium Propionate without googling it, but I certainly don't like the idea of eating bread that "keeps" for this long. It is just not natural and that alone puts me off. Some bread is actually advertised as keeping for a long time - these additives are the reason why.

This is the list of ingredients in the Vogel's loaf. No preservatives or emulsifiers.

This loaf usually costs £1.50, although can often be found on offer at less. The Co-op one cost 75p. 

Obviously anyone with a freezer can stop it going mouldy by just taking out of the freezer the number of slices that you will eat in a day or two, and also by storing it under the right conditions. Even if our bread does go mouldy, I don't automatically throw it out - I just cut off the offending mould, and I have never suffered any unpleasant consequences. I did once, though, when as a sort of experiment as much as anything, I tried some yogurt that was 3 weeks past its did admittedly taste a bit sharp but even then all that happened was a mild tummy ache and a visit to the loo......!

The other day I started to add some cream cheese to a pasta dish I was cooking and it was only after some had gone into what I was cooking that I noticed that some of the cheese still in the container was mouldy, and also that a tiny mouldy bit had gone into the pasta. The rest was OK. Well, I fished out the tiny mouldy bit, did not tell husband, and we ate it and were fine of course. [As I write You and Yours on Radio 4 is talking about wasted food!]

Do you always throw out food which has got mould on it??!!

Bye for now


Tuesday, October 20

Wool jumper converted to cycling top

It was a case of not so much "what this bike needs....." as "what this cyclist needs....." and what this cyclist needed was a wool, full zip close fitting jumper, to be worn over a baselayer and midlayer. Obviously there are hundreds to choose from on the web (and even in real shops!) but they are not cheap. So, while putting away clothes in a drawer recently, I realized I had one too many charity shop men's jumpers. (As an aside, you can always get PLAIN AND SENSIBLE men's wool jumpers in charity shops, but rarely do I see PLAIN AND SENSIBLE women's ones. It's not that I wear "plain and sensible" all the time - it's just that anything that isn't plain and sensible will always have something against it for everyday wear, like baggy sleeves that get in the way of rubber gloves......)

The one-too-many was a colour that doesn't suit me - maroon, so I thought "Hmmmmm, I wonder if I could chop this up the front and put in a zip and take in the sides so it fits more closely and which will then be my ideal go-to winter garment for bike rides?" Might as well have a go.

This is what I did:

I cut the jumper down the middle. Then I pinned and tacked the sides, and also the sleeves both under the sleeve and on the top, so as to make the whole thing closer fitting. I stitched these seams on the sewing machine - I did think about doing them by hand as if I were sewing up a jumper I had knitted, but I thought I might as well just try doing them on the machine. Seems to have worked OK!

I sewed a narrow hem down each side of the front. I knew that I needed to sew something down the fronts to stabilise them before attaching the zip, so I started to attach some grosgrain ribbon (which is what you see on woollen cardigan front bands). However the fabric started to wave, so I decided to stabilise it even more before adding the tape. To do so I used a strip (about 3/4" wide) of iron-on woven cotton interfacing. I love this stuff - I use it much more than the non-woven stuff and even save the tiniest scraps of it, as it has all sorts of uses. 

You can see from the pic that I have also cut the jumper so that it is longer at the back, and curves up at the front. I used the interfacing all round the bottom too, and then hemmed it with bias binding. I was being adventurous, so used yellow.......

Then I sewed the ribbon onto the fronts, and it worked well this time - no waving.

I sewed on the zip, tacking it first as I have found in the past that if you've not very careful when sewing on open ended zips then you end up with the two sides not matching up. Even this time they didn't match up 100% but I have managed to disguise the fact! 

Then I thought "Perhaps I can somehow detract from the maroon-that-doesn't-suit-me", so I dug out an old green cardigan which I had accidentally shrunk ages ago (and which DID suit me) chopped off the front bands and stitched them to the front and round the neck. Plus I did some coloured stitching along the bottom, up the front and round the neck. I'll confess that I also cut out from this same green cardigan the letters LIZZIE and sewed LIZ on one side and ZIE on the other, across the front, but decided that that was a step too far and unpicked them. It made it look like a baseball jacket.

I think you'd be hard pushed to see that the tops of the zip don't quite match up....

or the bottoms.....

I tried it out yesterday on a 20 mile bike ride with Husband. The weather was coolish - one of those days when you're not quite sure what to wear. I had on a long sleeved merino wool baselayer (I wear these all the time in the autumn and winter - what did I ever do without them? wore even more layers - that's what! You might guess that I am a fairly chilly person....) plus a cotton long sleeved top and then my new zip up. On top of that I had on a very lightweight windproof/waterproof jacket and a home made "buff" (made from a child's t-shirt). I was just the right temperature - and inwardly gloated over husband who was a bit chilly in what he was wearing.....

I have got another similar jumper, but in a colour that suits me reasonably well, that I might give the same treatment to, as this attempt was successful. And I shall be keeping my eyes open in the charity shops for more....... We've got a new one in town where all the rails of clothing are either £3 for the good stuff and £1 for the average stuff!!! 

Haven't forgotten about the Aldi clothing review. I'm drafting it.



Saturday, October 10

Bike ride into the Cotswolds

This was last Friday, a lovely day weather wise - indeed all last week was lovely and I definitely wanted to get out for a decent ride while the weather was still good.

First this: The other day Husband made me watch ("Have you got two minutes?" is his favourite phrase...) a video on YouTube of Michael MacIntyre explaining how long it takes to get out the door with young children. It is SO accurate and very funny (but don't let that put you off having children!) and I couldn't help but be reminded of it when I was getting ready to go out for this ride. Going out on a bike takes longer to get ready for than going out in a car.There are so many things to think about - food to take, what coat/s to wear, which shoes to wear (different in winter and summer for me), have I got my phone (I'm not a mobile phone person and so it doesn't matter usually but I do like to have it on bike rides), have I got my two water bottles which I put in the fridge earlier, have I got my Garmin, which panniers shall I put what in, have I got my trouser legs sorted out......... Having said all that, it's definitely worth it!

Whenever I read other people's accounts of bike trips I am always interested in what they wore and what they ate (read my hero Josie Dew's books! she eats a massive amount!) as well as what bike they've got, so here is precisely that. The forecast was for chilly and foggy first, then warm and sunny later, so this was what I started out wearing.

[My gear - I only have a few bits of specifically cycling gear. I am trying to build up a bit more of a collection. It's the colder weather that's more of a problem. Jeans for instance, are OK for my usual 5 1/2 mile ride into town for shopping but not so comfortable, or warm enough, for longer rides. Hopefully this autumn I will be able to buy some more cycling specific legwear].

On top:

Baselayer of merino wool, long sleeved (Vulpine, about £35 I think) bought in sale last year
Cotton jumper (£1 in charity shop)
Softshell jacket (bought in one of Aldi's special cycling clothing sales this year, £20 - more on Aldi clothing in a future post)
Dare2b very lightweight windproof (Halford's, £25 down from £30. More on that in future post too).
Bontrager Profila Race Windshell Gloves (about £30 I think, from local bike shop, pretty pleased with these though have not tried them out in REALLY cold weather)

Bottom half (don't laugh): 

Craghopper's zip off trousers (brilliant buy from charity shop, new, £6.75,                                             very comfortable for cycling in).
Vulpine padded merino boyshort (£45 this year, never thought I'd be comfortable in "padding" but these are very comfy and fit well. It was a toss up at the time between these and some Corinne Dennis ones (which I'd still like to try).
Merrell Bare Access Arc shoes (bought in sale in Blacks last year, about half price I think, £35ish, very comfortable).
Short cotton socks (Sainsbury's if you must know, £2 for three pairs!)
Home made trouser straps made from leftovers of Vulpine musette bag (see this post on converting a musette bag to a bar bag)

This was the food I took: 

Cheese (in the foil)
Fruit and nut mix
Two apples
Nairns cheesey oatcakes
Snicker's bar (my chocolate fix, but with nuts in so more filling, to possibly prevent me buying cake later)
A tuna meal thing (pictured later on)
And two bottles of water

I normally eat sandwiches in the middle of the day but I find that they sit too heavily in my stomach on bike rides so I don't take them. But I'm still working on this subject - would different bread or different fillings (I usually have cheese) be better I wonder?

I always prefer to set off soon after breakfast, but as I had had stuff to do earlier I didn't set off until 10.45, and I think that this late start, despite having had coffee and a biscuit since then, and a handful of fruit and nuts, and some water, was the cause of my having to stop after a mere 4 miles, as I was already lacking in energy. This seems to happen to me sometimes even when I have eaten recently. When I stopped to cross the A420 (horrible!!) near Faringdon,  I ate and drank again and was then OK. In Faringdon I noticed that one of the charity shops had bikes outside so couldn't resist going to have a look. One was a bit pricey at £40 I thought, and oddly not all of them were for sale.

I considered buying this for use on the journey - could I carry it on the bike? Or should I just continue my usual practice of going behind a hedge? Hedges won the day. Simpler, and less weight on the bike.

I then left Faringdon and cycled out on the Clanfield road, turning left towards Langford but stopped for lunch not far from Grafton. The sun had come out soon after I left home so I had by now removed the two coats. This is my bike; it's about 18 years old, steel, not the original handlebars - replaced the beautiful rather swept back ones for Thorn Comfort bars which I am very pleased with. 

This is the tuna thing I mentioned in my food list. This one is actually from Lidl, and cost £1.50, but I first discovered this sort of thing when I bought a John West version - normal price in Sainsbury's or Waitrose £2 (my two local supermarkets) but you can sometimes get them two for £3. They are very tasty, the ingredients are fairly wholesome and they are not stodgy. I really like them for eating on bike rides. They seem to give me the necessary calories without being stodgy. They come with a plastic fork (which I take home and save in my tub of "things that might come in useful one day"). Husband likes these meals for paragliding (there, that's given away his hobby...).

My next stop was where I was aiming for - the Cotswold Woollen Weavers at Filkins. I've been here before but knew I'd enjoy another visit. And they've got the all-important-to-cyclists cafe. If you like wool - and this is Wool Week! - this is a lovely place to visit, if only just to eye up lots of wool blankets, throws, Baavets, and racks and racks of beautiful clothing. They have a museum too and generally lots of stuff to do with sheep in the Cotswolds. There are also bargains to be had in the shape of bags of offcuts, ends of rolls, and some fantastic HUGE bags of buttons, of the sort you'd put on woolly clothing, for £5 and £8. I didn't buy any of these as I have so many buttons in boxes and tins and more boxes.....

Wool duvets are definitely warmer than down ones (which was what we had before we got our wool one). Best duvet we've ever had, and the only one where we don't need extra layers on top (our bedrooms are unheated. I always say this makes for hardy children). (Our duvet didn't come from here though.) I think their only disadvantage is that they are very heavy to lift so changing the cover, or putting them outside to air, is tricky if you are a weak and feeble woman.....(Shakespeare I believe, another Elizabeth speaking).

Lovely cushions.

Shelves full of blankets!

Bargains to be had.

This is the garden where I sat and had my pot of tea (I did resist the cake, but only because it was too soon after lunch...). A forager's paradise! The three apple trees were loaded and I picked some for the journey home (I already had some as you know but I do like to sample different varieties). I wondered if they were all going to go to waste, but then spotted a box of giveaways, so that was good. I do wonder why anyone actually buys apples at this time of year when there are so many to be had for free if only you look.

Filkins isn't far from RAF Brize Norton and I saw Hercules aeroplanes circling round overhead and very low about every 10 minutes, and some other white ones (husband says Boeings of some sort. Is he right?). Practising I believe. Must take quite a lot of practice to fly one of those.....

This is a place called Shire Gate, which is self explanatory when you see that the gate (not in the picture) parallel to the road must once have been meant to go across the road to the white gatepost. Obviously the locals from each county once wanted to keep each other out. Or at least to make them have to open a gate to get in to their neighbouring county. Fortunately it was open for this Oxfordshire-but-born-in-Hampshire lass to get in to Gloucestershire. And here I ate apple in Oxfordshire (to the right) and cheese in Gloucestershire (to the left) and the latter benefitted from the apple core from the Filkins (Oxfordshire) garden, which I chucked in the hedge without finishing it as it wasn't as nice as the ones I had brought with me.

I then cycled on towards Eastleach and then to Southrop (stopped to eat half the Snickers bar) thinking I would take a slightly different route back to Faringdon, but in the end I went back the same way as time was getting on and I know what I'm like - I go too far and then realize that actually I have got a long way to go to get home before dark... Especially on a day like today when the weather was about as perfect as it could be for cycling and the temptation is to just ride on and on.

I stopped for a rest, and more food and water, at Grafton, on a bench, in the shade, as I had actually got quite hot being in the sun all day, despite it being October. A postman emptying the nearby postbox said "You're sat in the shade!" as if I shouldn't be. I said "Yes but I've been in the sun all day!" That seemed to satisfy him.

On a slightly different note, in my opinion the Cotswold villages are extremely pretty, full of small cottages that I look at and think "Ooh I could happily live in that!" but...... actually I wouldn't like it at all because to be honest a lot of these villages seem dead, lifeless. If there is life it's well hidden. One of the joys of cycling (and walking) to me is getting chatting to people and I saw no-one today to have that spur of the moment sort of chat with. On with the journey home..........

This is the bridge over the Thames at Radcot. There's a dog in the river which jumped in to chase ducks. He wasn't successful.

And here is the last picture, which I knew you'd love to see which is why I saved it till last.
In the car park adjoining the campsite. Picturesque isn't it?

"On the way back" I had an earworm, which was from the song Day Trip to Bangor by Debbie Cook (I had to google to find out who wrote it but one should give credit where credit's due)

   "But on the way back I cuddled with Jack and we opened a bottle of cider
     Singing a few of our favourite songs as the wheels went around."

I was annoyed with myself for not having asked in the cafe if they would fill up my water bottle, so after slogging up the hill into Faringdon I had to pay a whole POUND for a 500ML bottle of water there. I got home before dark, despite it taking me 5 MINUTES to get back across the A420. Rush hour. 

My trip was about 38 miles - a good length for a day, not too long, but long enough. (And I can't get the font to go back to the right size and now I've got the earworm again.)

My next post will probably be about the wool jumper I have chopped down the front to make a zip up mid-layer for future colder bike rides.

Hope you enjoyed this and that you too have got the earworm. Let me know.