Friday, 28 February 2014

From dog towels to coal buckets.

The rain has been off and on this week, we have had spells of sunshine and I promised I would dig over my veggie plot again, but didn't. This morning the dog walk was through the veils of rain and poor Iz does suffer with soaking wet fur, Defi dries off almost immediately but poor Iz has to suffer being wrapped in a couple of towels to soak up the worst of the water.

 I had my car MOT'ed failed...but only on minor points so hubby can sort those out next week at the garage, I am using my daughters fabulous Rosie car and so I don't use  my big Penny the Peugeot Estate much, Rosie is nippy and fits into all those small spaces.  I have always named my cars, the kids think I am mad, but that doesn't stop my daughter from calling 'her' car Rosie.

 Daughters driving is improving, we have been out and about a bit more, she is still very hesitant when the daylight goes but we only had one shouting match, her to me, at some traffic lights when she couldn't stop stalling Rosie and got herself in a flap. 

I have been in the studio making more flower beads and loving every minute of it.  There is something about making flowers that makes me think of Spring and cheers me up.  In the evening I have been playing with seed beads and doing some bead embroidery and loving it.  I finished my first bead embroidery pendant last night, I used one of my lampwork cabochons and spent several hours in front of the telly of an evening this week placing small beads close together, its so relaxing and therapeutic.


And I will leave you with this photograph from this morning of our Gordy who took to sleeping in the empty coal bucket, empty of large pieces of coal but not of coal dust.....he does make me smile.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Half term, driving lessons and beads

Its been a funny week. 
Its rained, the sun has shone - is shining now, I have dug over the veggie plot but it does need a bit more digging over and my son is on holiday from the farm next week so hopefully he will be here one day and I can look pathetic and he will take over, not saying I planned to dig it over at round 4.30pm the other afternoon but it was perfectly timed for when he came through the gate and took over...oh the joys of having a big strong son. 
I have been out and about with my daughter in Rosie, we are getting there but its going to be a long road I pun daughter has no confidence but after purchasing some P plates, those plates you put on the car for new drivers, not compulsory in this country but after seeing the difference they made to other drivers to be more aware that she was a new driver I think they should be...with the exception of one stupid woman that couldn't have pulled her car any closer to the back of Rosie on a hill at the traffic lights, I think after the third time my daughter stalled the woman maybe thought she was a bit close!
I was contacted by Absolutely Herefordshire a local county magazine to write a piece on my beads, particularly my flowers so I have done that.  I have been making a few beads and trying to list a few on eBay as well as on Etsy its amazing how not having my routine due to my daughter being home from college and needing company in the car to work during the day etc., has messed up my working time, I am a creature of habit and next week won't be much better as my son will be here some of the time, although he is expected to go to the garage with my husband, so you just never know.
I am longing to get out in the garden, Winter is finally feeling like its losing its grip, its still boggy and wet but the snowdrops are out in force and the daffodils are starting to get bigger and the odd one as bloomed in some hedges I see walking to the river.
I have found a new addiction!  I never thought that I would enjoy embroidery but it seems I like the freedom to just sit and stitch and I have big plans!  I have caught up on a couple of commissions that I have had for ages, I am really bad at commissions and only do them for lovely friends I find I prefer my own muse so am not always happy at trying to interpret other peoples ideas.  I made it into the 8th Blog Soup Party so I will be looking forward to that I did enjoy last years and this year is just one reveal date so hopefully the momentum will not be lost, it was a bit lost last year as there were three reveal dates and I was in the third.   So I will end this blog with just pictures of my week.

Duck for cover!

My first attempt at bead embroidery, it has a few points to learn from but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Glass flowers that are my current muse.

Two little cat and dog commissions, I am loving the orange colour glass as the moment.

Just a few bits and a rare piece of jewellery!!
Right off out whilst the sun shines.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Tears before bedtime.

My daughter passed her driving test in November of last year, but due to the fact she was still 17 and would turn 18 on 22nd Dec...and...all our car insurances were due for renewal in January it was prudent to wait until January before she got her car and was insured as she can't afford the insurance on her part time waitress job wage and she can't work full time as she is still taking her A'levels at Sixth Form College.
Husband (and me!) brought her a little red Ford Ka, 1.3 petrol, which we have called Rosie - although this morning I called her Ruby Roo, so we will have to see which name sticks.  So Rosie has been in my husbands garage (his new business premises) for the last couple of months and she had a bit of work done on her as well as new tyres, MOT and yesterday she got her tax.
Now, daughter has never driven at night, never driven a car that wasn't an instructors car so never driven a car without dual control.  Hubby was nominated to take her out for her first 'qualified driver' lesson and last night they headed out.
It was after 6pm.  It was dark.  My son and I moved all the cars around the drive, we have a few due to my son and my husband having a bad habit of collecting them and even though I have a constant moan and nag about 'my garden' being full of metal sculptures with wheels they still seem to multiply... we moved the 4 cars to one corner of the drive, leaving Rosie the length of the drive to the gate and beyond onto the lane.
Ben (my son) and I then waited in the kitchen.
Firstly, daughter came back in, she had forgotten the current tax disc, a legal requirement.  Then she came back in, she needed a cushion to sit on.  Now daughter is 5ft and tiny hence the Ford Ka, hubby thought that was a nice little car.  Daughter is still too small. 
When they came back it turns out that daughter also forgot to put her seat belt on until they had done 2 miles...another legal requirement!  She is blonde.
They were gone for about 45 mins.
Daughter came in first, in tears, hubby followed clutching a bottle of Gin.  Unopened but that was soon remedied!
Turns out that daughter has better road placement than me, apparently according to my husband the 'professional driver', but she has no clutch control.  My grass around the drive is now churned up which isn't really helped by the heavy rain fall.  On reversing into the drive daughter hit the hedge, gatepost, drove over the grass, all backwards without any forward straightening up of the vehicle, and clipped my lilac bush.
Husband told her that she isn't to go out on her own in the car until she has clutch control.
She burst into tears.
Ben and I were high fiving each other at this point and squabbling over who owed who the ten quid as we both predicted this outcome.
Husband is not a very good passenger.  Daughter is a new driver.  It has to be said that I will drive anything, if its got wheels I drive it, never had a problem, I love speed and I love cars - I do hold a Mechanic Certificate that I got when I was 17 and know my way around an engine, however, I got married and rarely put fuel in the car...why have a husband and do that yourself :P  But, even husband and I will have a heated debate on how I drive, my favourite tale to recall is when we hadn't been together long and had a bright yellow Allegro with an orange bonnet, I called her Beryl and I loved her, we were a bit poor back then.  I was driving and was in the centre of 5 way traffic lights and husband - then boyfriend - was trying to tell me what I was 'doing wrong'.  I do have a short temper and after telling him what to do with his advice I got out of the driver's seat, shut the door and calmly walked away, leaving him sat in the middle of the traffic in the passenger seat.
He now goes to sleep if I am driving, it has saved our marriage.
Both husband and son have driven the Ford Ka and so last night both were telling daughter that her driving needs practise, she did find the funny side of churning up the drive and not remembering her seat belt..needing the cushion..and her father stopping off to buy Gin.  I hadn't at that point driven little Rosie.  I like big cars so driving Rosie wasn't something I dashed out to do, that and these days I rarely go anywhere to warrant driving.  So this morning once again the rain is relentless so I took girlie to college in Rosie.  I would have liked her to drive Rosie to the other side of the gate, every bit of practise helps, right? but daughter was adamant that wasn't going to happen and after trying to cajole her into it for 20 mins I gave up and she walked down to the end of the drive in the rain and opened the gate.
First impressions of Rosie were that she is smaller than I am used to and I was quite shocked to see that I didn't move the seat much from where my daughter had had it last night, but I did remove the cushion!  I selected all the gears, repositioned the mirrors, turned the key and that rumble of a petrol engine in a little car that really wants to be bigger fired into life.  By the time I got to the gate I had figured out my daughters issues.
My husband is a lorry driver and my son drives tractors and massive farm machinery so both are big and strong, when they drove Rosie they didn't feel the very heavy clutch.  You do have to rev Rosie and as daughter has only ever driven the driving instructors brand new car, Rosie is a few years old, that too is different, plus the biting point is really high.  Then there was the steering.  Powered steering my arse!  You need to two hands to pull Rosie round and you definitely cant change gear and steer around a tight corner at the same time - I did try.  Husband did put bigger alloys on Rosie and I think they may be the problem with the steering.  All these points I have told husband when I got back home and he has taken Rosie to the garage to see what he can do, but on the way back from dropping off my daughter...
Wow! I love Rosie.  My daughter will get her confidence back up and get used to a different car then she will love Rosie.  Rosie goes like the clappers, she is small so fits in all the nippy spots that is needed for city traffic and down the country lanes she is zippy...I did slow down to go past the dog walker near the massive puddle...I might not go out much but I am certainly going to be going out a bit more for the time being, everything I have ever said about Ford Ka's I take back.  They are huge fun and the 1.3 goes well!!  All I need now is a bit of road and a full tank of petrol :P
Seeing as this blog is picture light, here are some flowers I have been making this week, they will be on eBay at some point.  I do have some auctions running at the moment click this eBay link to take you to the auctions 
Catch you later I really must get husband to bring Rosie back I need to go out! 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Its a misnomer.....

I love my dogs, I really do but Golden? Retriever?  its a total misnomer: for a start Defi doesn't 'retrieve' he steals...socks, tea towels, Izabel's toys, most of the quilt during the night and, with the exception of the quilt, he runs like the wind so you can't catch him.  He doesn't retrieve.
As for Golden.  What a fib.
I did post this picture the other day of my lanes nothing has changed other than they are actually worse now.  The rain is lashing it down as I type, the fields just can't take anymore water and so are running onto the lane and gushing down them in torrents.
But still my dogs want to go out!  I took this yesterday as we did have a bit of a respite from the howling wind and driving rain but as you can see Defi isn't bothered by a bit of damp!

Izabel can't resist a good puddle....

Neither Iz nor Defi can pass up a chance of stick fighting whilst charging through the mud....

This I have never seen before.  The water is coming down the lane in the distance, through the hard standing car park and running like a river through this track, its flows all the way down the big hill and to the river at the bottom of the next field. 
I was talking to another dog walker a lovely chap who has lived here all his life - when he wasn't
a Captain of a boat - he says he hasn't seen it this bad since 1963...that was before I was born!

 This picture shows the river bank on the opposite side to where we walk in the morning and is the very prestigious golf course, it now has its own stream.  A few days before I took this photo (Monday) the river had burst its bank and the land was flooded all the way back to the line of trees you can see in the middle distance.  We are expecting the river to peak again today and tomorrows forecast of how the River Wye is going to be is not something anyone is looking forward too.
 But still my dogs love it!  I took this once we got home, just before the hose came out and we had the hours fun of hosing off and rubbing dry.  Who needs a gym membership!

They look pretty clean but the camera lies, underneath they are black, see Golden?  no way!

But every cloud has a silver lining, and these beautiful snowdrops are nodding gently...although today they are nodding violently in the wind and relentless rain.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

One lump of coal and a picture frame.

My husband is priceless! 
People often ask me 'how long have you been married?' when I tell them just shy of 20 yrs, they almost always reply with either '..and you haven't killed him?'...or 'how do you both stay so young and happy?'..ok they might not say young exactly but I am sure they mean it.
The secret to our marriage is laughter and fun.....and plenty of gin!  Not really...ok maybe really...but laughter and plenty of it.  We don't go looking for things to be happy about they just seem to happen.
Take the coal.
Seriously, that is the coal bucket with three massive BRICKS of coal in it.  My husband has found a that is ominous.  This 'man' is about 120 yrs old, looks like a gnome and will keep you talking for hours in the rain, apparently, I don't buy the coal I just make the fires with what the husband brings home.  Proper hunter gatherer in this house!

These are the logs.  You guessed it.  Husband knows a man.......
This 'man' I have met and he is a good chap with a lovely wife and fabulous children, but he is a lot like my husband and if its a bargin they have it, sort of modern day Del Boy. 
This 'man' is also a gardener in Wales..not that being Welsh has anything to do with it other than he has a great accent.
These are oak logs and I am not sniffin' at them, they burn beautifully and smell lovely.  By burn I do mean eventually, they are hard wood and I have big coal!

I am chief fire maker in our house.  I grew up in a house with no central heating and I love a good coal fire, and hubby just puts the darn things out, he is like water to a good flame, one look from him and the flame just fizzles and smokes.
Until recently..and by recently I mean until I moaned...hubby and son were chopping 'bits' off these logs for me to start the fire, a lot of huffin' and puffin' and some of it was actually at the fire, to get the thing going, my record was over an hour encouraging a teeny tiny flame into life, I am not a quitter.  But I do nag.  So I did. 

True to hubby's nature rather than kindling I get to use up the lengths of picture framing he has left over from his picture framing days that are still in the garage, but at least this burns!
We rarely get a newspaper, once or twice a year, which isn't a bad thing as I go rummaging in the recycling for paper to burn and get more and more irate at the paper that is obviously coated in some fire retardant and just will not burn.  Occasionally hubby treats me to a newspaper.  I kid not, he comes home with 'I have something for you' and hands me a newspaper he has found at the garage or in his lorry.  I used to get really excited when he came home with 'I have something for you'...don't be rude...until the day he brought home a kettle and toaster combo...I was not amused and he really couldn't see what he had done wrong. 
Diamonds darling, diamonds!!

As I said, its a good thing we don't have newspapers I am often distracted...check out the chook in the Hereford Times :P
So to the fire.

Its a silly little grate and the grate itself is dated but it works and after 10 yrs of not having a fire we finally had the chimney swept this year.  On the left is the log from last nights fire, partly burnt, on the right is the log waiting to be burnt.  I put them in to begin with it gives them a head start on getting warm!

What you can't see is the old coal from yesterday under the paper I need that old coal...

You didn't believe me when I said big coal did you?

And why do we love fires?
My kids call the fire the 'dribble drier' as our Gordy (our brain damaged cat that dribbles) is very fond of the open heat and positions himself appropriately.  We don't leave him unattended as he has a tendency to over heat.

So how many lumps of coal keeps the fire burning all night?
Just three!
and a couple of logs and that give me coal for the next fire too!!
Laney x

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Someone build an ark.....

Seriously this weather is really something.  I took this snap shot on my phone camera about an hour ago.  This is the house next to the river walk entrance, its one of my neighbours, I live just up this lane turn right and I am probably 200 yards further on.  It's about 5-10 mins to walk to this point from my house, depending on how many cars go past and whether or not I have to stop, most days I see no cars others it's a rush of upto 3!!  Honestly it is a quiet place to live.
So back to this photo.
The kissing gate - such a lovely name for a gate - is just left of the wooden gates into Brian's house (that's who lives here) and when I went through them at about 10 this morning the lane was full of puddles and the ditches were struggling but it wasn't underwater!  It takes me around an hour, give or take meeting anyone and chatting, to walk round the fields and orchards: this morning it might have been a bit longer as walking is now more of a trudge through swampy fields, I had better have a backside to be proud of come this summer the way I am having to work my bum muscles I don't need a gym membership by the time the walk has finished I am weight lifting at least my own body weight again as my clothes are that sodden and heavy...I digress...
So probably an hour and a bit had passed by the time I had completed the walk with now two very muddy and wet dogs that really hadn't noticed the rain and were happily charging through the mud and diving into the enormous ponds that were masquerading as puddles in the next dog is going to hate the rain and refuse to go out! I got back to the beginning of the walk, which is also the end,  and was amazed at the disappearance of the lane what was even more shocking was when I had taken this photo I had to step out and walk through this and it turned out to be deeper than it looks coming half way up my calf (and welly boot) and managing to find the hole in said welly boot: left leg, and filter through to my bright pink thermal welly boot socks...I love my pink socks!
Someone had better build this ark much more rain - and it is forecast - and we will be underwater.  The fields can't take any more water and are draining onto the lanes, the drains can't cope and the ditches have disappeared under the flooding.  The lane outside my house is slightly better than this one as it runs down hill but only just and being surrounded by fields that are over flowing into the lane, it isn't going to be long before we need to drag my son's kayak from the shed to leave the drive!

On a more cheerful note.
I was sorting through the beads yesterday ready to take to Kempton Race Course for the bead fair on Sunday (9th).  It will be my first bead fair of the year.  I am not doing so many this year concentrating more on internet selling and helping out with my husband as he sets up his new business.  I am happy about that really as the bead fairs are fun but a lot of work and can be expensive but I do enjoy going out and meeting other bead addicts.
So I will leave you with some pictures....

These ivory roses are currently on eBay just click the link and see what other beads are available there or click to visit my Etsy shop if you don't fancy the thrill of an auction.

I don't have nearly as many beads as I usually have for fairs, another reason to not do so many this year but there is still plenty of beads to see and own if you are around Kempton this coming Sunday :)
Right off for a cuppa and run around a bit more and dry off!
Laney x

Monday, 3 February 2014

The big house

I love my morning walk down by the river with my dogs and everyday I get to walk past a beautiful big house.
I did a small craft fair/community farm open day last summer, at the farm across the lane from me, you can't get more local than that can you? and met this chap who knew the local history and was a bit of a bore...truly he was the dullest little man ever and the farm manager was hid behind a barn door sniggering at me as I was completely bewitched by this chap and couldn't get away but I did learn a few things about the lanes and fields around me and it got me interested in the history of my walk.
I walk to the right of these trees and every day I think of when they were planted, over 100 yrs ago.
I have taken this painting from the website about Brian Hatton (just click on this link) who was born locally in Whitecross, Hereford.

These trees were specimens planted in the early 1900 I know one is a London Plane, I can't remember the other tree that still remains.  As you can see in the painting originally there were three trees but one obviously didn't survive.

Brian Hatton painted these trees which at the time were part of the big house: Warham House gardens and are now part of the public walk around the River Wye.  I often think of Brian Hatton when I walk past these trees, he was sadly killed in Egypt in 1916.

 You can see Warham House in the photo on the right.  This is the back of the house and faces the river.

The photo below shows the trees on the left and the house on the right.

The house is opposite another impressive building, Belmont House, which is now a golf course.  You can read more about Belmont House here
According to the very well informed man (who was desperately dull!) the houses were once in the same family and the gardens joined the river on either side, must have been a very impressive sight.
Brian Hatton painted many paintings during his short lifetime and the little man I spoke to had lots of drawings and prints with him that day last summer, one of the prints was of the corner that my house is now on.  Sadly I can't find a reference on the internet.  Another sad point is that this resource of history is soon to be lost, if it hasn't already, as Herefordshire Council have stopped funding the offices that housed all the archives of which some are of Brian Hatton and his work and life.

I have taken this photograph of  this painting from the website in the link.  This is Warham Farm, the farm opposite me where my son now works and this house still stands and is lived in by the present farm manager and his wife and two children.  Originally the farm was part of Warham House and can date its origins back to Medieval times with the orchards dating even further back.

Brian Hatton Warham Farm 1910

There is even history in the orchards as Hereford is famous for its apples and of course we have Bulmers cider factory just in really can't beat the smell at harvest time when the tractors take their loads past my gate full of apples destined for the cider press.
Its a beautiful walk and I am blessed to be able to walk it everyday with my dogs.  Further up the walk is a very old church, St Michaels and the remains of a mount that is said to be an ancient fort.  I will blog one day about these too.
I do find myself lost in thought some days just thinking who may have walked before me along the same route, life has a funny way of marching on and you really do have to live each day to the full before you are no longer the walker but the one who is remembered.
There is so much history in Hereford.  We have the Mappi Mundi in our cathedral with a ridiculously long name...Cathedral Church of Blessed Virgin Mary and St Ethelbert...which also is home to the chained library....who has read Harry Potter?  It is said that JK Rowling visited Hereford Cathedral on a school trip (I think she was from Chepstow) and alot of the names used in her books are from the Mappi Mundi as is the chained library, the golden lectern and a few more.  Maybe a few blog posts on the history of this quaint English city...which is really just a big town with a Cathedral... are in to muse.
Laney x