Saturday, 6 May 2017

Some things which were lost and some things which were found

MWNN and I are slowly getting the 'stuff' which was displaced re-integrated (or dumped, given to charity, swapped) into its correct storage space.

Some things, which we thought were gone, have re-apeared (eg filters for the kettle), and duplicates (six sets of earphones for various electronic devices and two picnic sets).

But one important item has failed to materialise.

I recently had a large Lowry print re-framed, because the old frame was broken after falling off the wall in the guest room, for the third time. This reminded me (don't ask, I arrived at it by a very convoluted route)of a Batik I had made after our cruise through the French Ardennes into Belgium in 2000. There it was that we came across the legend of Quatre Fils D'Aymon. The idea of the magnificent horse, Bayard, carrying the four sons of Aymon away from Charlemagne's army fired my imagination. I decided to work an image, not in embroidery (too large a project), but in batik. As we cruised, I kept a notebook of photos, sketches, and information, and made rough designs on which to base the batik.

I made a mock-up in applique, which was used as the template for the batik piece.

I was fairly pleased with the result and had it framed at the local art shop. It hung for a while on MWNN's bedroom wall. Then it was replaced by shelving when MWNN's study was re-converted back into a guest room, and the garage conversion became his new study (2005).

Since 2005, I have not seen the framed batik. There has been plenty of opportunity for finding it as we re-organise the study, conservatory, utility, and larder and remove things from the loft to create more archival storage space. But nary a sign of it.

I may have to print off a small version of the original image (as it was prior to framing) and keep it as a memento.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Progress and set-backs

The trip to Norwich for MWNN's cataract operation was beset with difficulties. The actual op. was very successful, and MWNN is planning a re-run on the other eye soon.

One of the problems we encountered was the location of our accommodation for the four-day trip.

It was very centrally located, right next to the Cathedral, where there was no long-term parking, even with a visitor's permit. To be fair, the nearest multi-story car-park was a mere 3 minutes walk from the house; but the weather wasn't kind - it rained - a lot.

Add to that the regular need to negotiate Norwich's one-way-system to get to the hospital, less than friendly local motorists, and a the Bint on the Sat Nav not being up-to-date with the local restrictions, and stress levels rose every time.

On our arrival, I discovered the local 'park' in which Ron could be exercised. James Stuart Garden was literally round the corner, in the next street.

The path leads from the main entrance gate to a circular walk around the main planting area. Just to the left, is a side gate, hidden in a very ancient yew hedge.

One entering, the scent of bluebells soothes frayed nerves, and the areas left un-mowed are filling with wild flowers.

I told MWNN about this convenient area, which he used later that day, for Ron's final outing.

It's very easy to find because of the beautiful entrance porch.

MWNN ventured further afield later in the week, and found the Cathedral Close.

There's no car parking (except for residents) so the chance of visiting the Cathedral and leaving Ron in the car, were nil.

On the final morning of the trip, I walked Ron to the Cathdral Close, taking the pedestrian route, along Horse Fair Loke, which forms part of the (gated) Riverside Walk.

View from the corner, approaching the Close.

By the morning after the op., MWNN reported that his vision was 20/20. He was told not to drive for a few days, but, after I confessed to having a vertigo attack while waiting for him in the hospital car park, he insisted on driving the following day.

Vertigo was just the tip of the iceberg. I'd been nursing a painful left shoulder for days before the Norwich trip. It was easing off as we travelled to Norwich. By the following day, it had swapped shoulders and the pain grew worse throughout the trip. Breathing in was painful as were certain movements. I put it down to a bad sleeping position and a very soggy bed in the Cathedral Street house.

By the time we arrived home, the pain was quite bad and I felt absoultely shattered. Sleeping was virtually impossible, but I still put it down to a muscle problem and didn't think of taking my blood pressure until Bank Holiday Monday. It was very high. Only a few weeks ago I had thought of asking to taper off the BP medication.

I hate taking medication, specifically long-term for chronic conditions. 

I looked up my old LJ Blog to find the period during which I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (235/113). It was during the long hot summer of 2003. The heat was killing people by the thousands in France, and we were aboard a narrowboat, where temperatures soared to over 40 degrees.

I managed to get an appointment with my GP early on Tuesday morning. The 'muscle' pain, was pleurisy (should have suspected when both lungs were involved), probably the result of the head colds and sinus infections. The BP was high, but falling, and was probably the result of stress and pain over the past few weeks.

Looking back on my entries for August, after we returned from the South of France, it is clear that the heat played a major part in my problem. MWNN was away in Ireland when I had the diagnosis. He flew back early because he was worried about me being on my own.  Add high BP to my chronic chest complaint and it seems wise to stay on the medication indefinitely.

But I don't like it.

I'd like to visit Norwich again, to appreciate what I couldn't during the recent trip.

The area around the Cathedral is ancient, with a history I would like to explore.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

More boats

MWNN, Ron, and I spent a night onboard last week, to escape the clutter of the house and avail of the good weather.

We also managed to reorganise some of the boat's storage spaces and create more worktop space, by relocating the microwave,

The moorings have been extended, with new pontoons installed over by the woods, between the marina and the fishing lake.

It's not a spot in which I'd like to be moored, as the mosquitoes thrive in the 'dead' water beside the bank.

I do, however, envy this boat's outdoor seating space, which  will be shaded once the trees are in leaf.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mothering Sunday

Today, it being Mothering Sunday, there was a delivery from the local florists. Thank you Kate and Norm for these gorgeous blooms.

The day has long been associated with mothers and family. For centuries it was custom for people to return home to their ‘mother’ church on Laetare Sunday – the middle of Lent. Those who did so were said to have gone ‘a-mothering’.

The day often turned into a family reunion and a chance for children working away from home – often young domestic servants - to spend time with their mothers. Many used to pick flowers from the verges along the way to leave in the church or hand to their mothers when they got home.

Simnel cakes are associated with Mother’s Day. During Lent, people did not eat sweet foods, rich foods or meat. However, the fast was lifted slightly on Mothering Sunday and many people prepared a Simnel cake to eat with their family on this day.

 Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered with a layer of marzipan and with a layer of marzipan baked into the middle of the cake. Traditionally, Simnel cakes are decorated with 11 or 12 balls of marzipan, representing the 11 disciples and, sometimes, Jesus Christ. One legend says that the cake was named after Lambert Simnel who worked in the kitchens of Henry VII of England sometime around the year 1500.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Introducing a Limited Edition of

the Three Tenors  Bunnies




All knitted using Woolly Chic's Rabbit pattern (Riley from the full Kit)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Summer Lady

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring. What better way to celebrate than by sharing the collaboration of Steeleye Span and Terry Pratchett.


From the Wintersmith Album

The Summer Lady
We've suffered enough, at the hands of the WinterSmith!
All had our fill of the frost on the ground.
Let's drink, to the health of the fair Summer Lady.
And wish her the best, as she draws the sun down.
Go back to your mountains, you cold-hearted lover! Your magic is broken, your mischief is done!
The time is at hand, for the fair Summer Lady. To take up her place, and to draw the sun down.
Let the seasons turn!
Let the rivers start a flowin'!
Let the hot sun burn!
And melt our frozen hearts!
Too long, have we lived in the clutches of Winter.
Too long, have we lived in the grip of the cold.
One wave of her hand, and the fair Summer Lady.
Will turn the white fields, into yellow and gold.
To breeze through the corn, on the first day in Springtime.
To lie under skies of magnificent blue.
Just look in the eyes of the fair Summer Lady.
She'll harvest our dreams and she'll make them come true.
Let the seasons turn!
Let the rivers start a flowin'!
Let the hot sun burn!
And melt our frozen hearts!
Let the warm winds blow!
Send the North Wind on his journey!
Sweep away the snow!

The Summer Lady's here!
She'll smile on the hillside.
She'll dance on the lake.
She'll shimmer with brightness.
When she is awake.
She can turn the sun blood-red,
In a hot burning sky.
But when Summer is over,
The Lady MUST DIE!!
So drink, to the health of the fair Summer Lady!
Bathe in her glory and be of good cheer.
As sure, as the Summer is followed by Winter.
We'll call on the Lady of Summer each year.
Let the seasons turn!
Let the rivers start a flowin'!
Let the hot sun burn!
And melt our frozen hearts!
Let the warm winds blow!
Send, the North Wind on his journey!
Sweep away the snow!
The Summer Lady's here!
The Summer Lady's here!
The Summer Lady's here!
The Summer Lady's here!

Writer(s): Rick Kemp, Robert Michael Leonard Johnson, Peter Knight, Julian Nicholas Hugh Littman, Liam Genockey, Maddy Prior, Terry Pratchett

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Last morning in Southwold

dawned bright and beautiful.

After breakfast, I walked Ron down to the beach while MWNN finished his packing.

Took a picture of the 2nd holiday cottage of this trip (first pink cottage on the right), on the way back from the beach.

A second view of the cottage, with the car in process of being packed.

We locked up the cottage and I returned the keys to the Agents while MWNN moved the car to a shady spot. We met up again on the beach, had a last cup of coffee at our favourite beach cafe, and said goodbye to Southwold until next year.

Winterton  on Sea beach

Our birthday holiday, in October, is booked in Winterton-on-Sea, across the border into Norfolk.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March 1st 2017

St David's Day, Ash Wednesday, and the 48th anniversaryof the day MWNN and I became a couple.

The day began with the exchange of gifts before breakfast.

MWNN had an appointment at 12.00. After dropping him off, I walked Ron on Ransome's

As we approached the new Woodland Plantation, I was much impressed by the newly-laid hedge.

I picked MWNN up at about 1.30. We then went to the Bospherous Resaurant, where we had a really lovely lunch.

As we pulled into the drive, we were greeted by fresh pink blossom on the young  bodnantense, which has flowered throughout the winter.

March 1st, 1969 - our first date, at a friend's 21st birthday party.

It was the end of the Swinging 60s, and they said 'all you need is love'. Add to that a lot of hard work, a little luck, and making the most of opportunities offered. Here we are, 48 years later, still a work in progress proving those who said it would never work, wrong.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Work in Progress

Don’t worry: being human is designed to be a work in progress~Dan McCarthy

Today is the 47th anniversary of the day MWNN and I were married, at Liverpool Registry Office, almost one year exactly to the day we became a couple.

I've always felt slighly bemused when people say they're going somewhere meaningful (to them) to 'find themselves'.  Where do they get the idea that the self is something complete and finished?  Do they believe that there is a lost self  'out there' somewhere, waiting to be 'found'?

The Knitter understands the 'work in progress' (WIP). It's the 'becoming' of a finished work, stitch by stitch, row by row, sometimes going back and picking up stitches left behind to complete a section (such as a sleeve or a button band) that form part of the whole.

Like Charles Fernyhough,  I believe that  self can feel such a sin­gu­lar fix­ture, hug­ging one’s here-and-now like a twenty-four-hour under­gar­ment, but actu­ally it’s a string, loop­ing back and for­wards in time to knit together our past and future moments.  

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Saturday Morning Walk

with Ron,

to Walsworth Common

around the Common to the beginning of the nature reserve pond area,

along the river Purwell, to the Mill Stream Pub.

and back home via Cambridge Road,

to the new(ish)ly planted shrubs in the front garden.

A round-trip of about 2 miles; downhill on the outward, uphill on the return journey. Just as I arrived back home, the sun came out. I was glad that it had been cloudy during the walk as I was wrapped in many layers of fleece and rain-gear.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Return of

the Jedi    Meercat.

I thought I caught a glimpse of Baby Oleg in a new advert, in December, and promptly forgot all about it.

It popped up on my Youtube space this morning.


Could this herald the return of Oleg? It would certainly be an improvement on the past year's lame offerings.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Farmer's Market

 I went there this morning to buy vegetables.

The stall holders pressed us to sample some of their wares.

And I fell in love with the Millwhites Original Scrumpy.

MWNN was reluctant to try the ale, but was persuaded. He thought the Side Pocket Ale (fit for a toad - poop poop) from Tring was worth a few pounds for 4 bottles.

We rarely pass up the chance to buy local honey, so bought the last jar of 'almost set' from Buzzworks.

Before we reached the veg. stalls, we met this lovely lady.

MWNN walked ahead with Ron so that I could have a chat with Glenn, and pet Jess, I was surprised how small barn owl females look when sitting still, having only ever witnessed them flying wild in the dark.

And the veg? I hear you ask.

We forgot all about them and finished our trip into town with take-away coffee and tea from Groundworks. MWNN can vouch for the excellence of the coffee.

Sometimes, you just have to give in to you inner Toad.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Twelve Days of Christmas fanfic

Again, this was written in 2004. It was a collaboration with two other fanfic writers. A chapter was posted live again, on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, 2005. Each chapter illustrated something about that day from the song. This fic was probably my favourite, because it was a collaboration, and because it was our gift to the fandom over the 12 days.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter myths

and the links to Christmas.

In Celtic mythology the Oak (Summer) King and the Holly (Winter) King were twins, pitted against each other in a never-ending fight for supremacy. Oak trees, sacred to the Celts, lose their leaves, while the  holly trees are evergreen. The Holly King is now known as Santa Claus. He wears red and bears holly leaves and berries in his hat. He drives a team of eight deer (or reindeer) because deer were highly sacred to the Celtic Gods. The number eight represents the eight sabbats of the solar calendar.

As cold weather approached, the Celts marvelled at how the evergreen holly trees, hidden amongst the leafy oaks during the rest of the year, now stood out prominently, with their red fruits, on an otherwise barren landscape. The Holly King had won the battle, as the incarnations of his twin brother had shed all their oak leaves and stood naked in defeat.

By the time the winter solstice arrives, the tide has turned. The Oak King’s flow in power is the Holly King’s ebb. The deciduous twin takes his first baby steps towards re-establishing his supremacy. The battle between the two Kings takes place; the Oak King kills the Holly King and takes his place. The Oak King is the modern-day New Year, the fresh and young child-god that beckons mother nature to re-new herself as he brings the warm rays of the sun back.

Dancing the Night Away weaves this Celtic myth into a piece of fanfiction.

Winter Solstice, the time of the year when the days get longer and the sun begins to return was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors in Scandinavia. Their Midwinter Feast lasted at least twelve days. So there are the twelve days of Christmas.

At Midwinter, or Solstice, the Vikings honored their Asa Gods with religious rituals and feasting. They sacrificed a wild boar to Frey, the God of fertility and farming, to assure a good growing season in the coming year. The meat was then cooked and eaten at the feast. This is the origin of today's Christmas ham in Scandinavia.

 Another Viking tradition was the Yulelog, a large oak log decorated with sprigs of fir, holly or yew. They carved runes on it, asking the Gods to protect them from misfortune. A piece of the log was saved to protect the home during the coming year and light next year's fire.

During the festivities they burned a giant Sunwheel, which was put on fire and rolled down a hill to entice the Sun to return. According to one theory, this is the origin of the Christmas wreath.

Even the Christmas tree goes back to pre-Christian times. The Vikings decorated evergreen trees with pieces of food and clothes, small statues of the Gods, carved runes, etc., to entice the tree spirits to come back in the spring.

 Ancient myths surround the Mistletoe. The Vikings believed it could resurrect the dead, a belief based on a legend about the resurrection of Balder, God of Light and Goodness, who was killed by a mistletoe arrow but resurrected when tears of his mother Frigga turned the red mistletoe berries white.

The Yule Goat, (Swedish julbock, Finnish joulupukki, Norwegian julebukk) is one of the oldest Scandinavian Christmas symbols. Its origin is the legend about the Thundergod Thor who rode in the sky in a wagon pulled by two goats. An old custom was for young people to dress up in goat skins and go from house to house and sing and perform simple plays. They were rewarded with food and drink. The Yule Goat at one time also brought Yule gifts.

Old Man Winter was welcomed into homes to join the festivities. Dressed in a hooded fur coat, Father Christmas traveled either by foot or on a giant white horse. Some think that this horse may have been Odin's horse Sleipnir and that Father Christmas was originally Odin, who was often depicted with a long beard. When the Vikings conquered Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries, he was introduced there and became the English Father Christmas.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Longest Night

I wrote this years ago. As it's set during the longest night of the year, and includes all my favourite bits of myth and legend about this season, I'm re-posting it again.

Friday, 11 November 2016

We will remember

 Today's date has enormous significance for most people. It's Armistice Day and many of us are observing two minutes silence right now.

A special dedication to my Granny's brother, James.

J.A. Ryder MM (Manchester Regiment)

The  dedication wall.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Birthday Month

October is a time for celebrating three family birthdays - mine on 2nd, MWNN's is today, and The Daughter's on 28th. For the past eight years, there has been an additional family member to add to the October list - Ron, on 24th. After The Daughter left home, we've usually organised a get-together on a weekend between 13th and 28th.

This coming weekend, The Daughter is taking part in her second 100mile ultra. There are two weekends left in the month to organise the birthday bash. Hopefully, the latest leak repair in the utility room will be finished by the time we get together.

"October is the fallen leaf, but it is also a wider horizon more clearly seen. It us the distant hills once more in sight, and the enduring constellations above them once again ..... Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night." Hal Borland

Happy Birthday MWNN.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Photo Retrospective

Southwold October 2016

Sole Bay Inn - our local for the week. Good food, great ale, very convenient location (our cottage was the blue one on the right of the picture).

Southwold Lighthouse, right behind our cottage's rear yard.

Watching the beams rotate at night is mesmerising.

Gunn Hill Beach Kiosk, the opposite end of the Promenade from the cottage,  is a good place to stop for a rest and a cuppa.

Ron's favourite pastime. We managed two or three beach walks each day.

Digging out the castle moat.

New sand cliffs are building up with each tide.

WWII mine used as a collection box for Shipwrecked Mariners.

Unknown bird, photographed by MWNN, outside the cottage.

MWNN serving tea at Sole Bay Kiosk.

The one place we have yet to visit (because it's a wet-weather destination and we haven't had many wet days during our visits to Southwold) is the Electric Picture Palace.